Tyranny of Dragons, Session #34: The Hedge Maze
Here’s what happened in last night’s game in which the party were all back together again and wandered the hedge maze surrounding Xonthal’s Tower.
Midwinter, 1491 DR
Rosie returns to Waterdeep. She tells the others she’s been advising some of her “associates” who are mounting an expedition to Skyreach Castle which has crashed into a glacier in the Spine of the World Mountains.
The PCs travel to Daggerford via teleportation circlewhere they charter a barge to take them downriver to Highstar Lake (450 gp).
Shortly after leaving Secomber, a figure in black robes signals to the party's barge from the shore. The PCs are invited to meet with "Lord Volmer of Nessus"to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Lord Volmer is a bone devil and his entourage are diabolists. He tells the party that his master and his associates are not enamoured of Tiamat being summoned from the Nine Hells and would look favourably on the PCs if they were able to stop this happening. The devil also says that Szass Tam, Zulkir lich of Thay, would be well disposed to anyone providing information leading to the capture of the rebel Red Wizard Rath Modar. Rosie and Gwastdyn press Lord Volmer for more detail on the potential rewards but these aren’t forthcoming, although magical items would certainly be an option. Turin is the only one to share the hospitality of Lord Volmer’s tent, enjoying a glass of fiery red wine, before the PCs depart.
After bidding farewell to the barge, the PCs set off across the High Moor on foot towards Mount Hlim. A pathetic cry of “help me” from beyond a ridge sends the PCs into an ambush by a pack of leucrottas. Fortunately, the beasts are dealt with without much trouble.
The PCs arrive at Xonthal’s Tower. Gwastdyn flies overhead to scout. From above, the hedge maze appears to be a tangle of briars and thorns, and some kind of force field stops him from landing on the tower balcony.
The druid returns to the others and they enter the village outside the hedge maze, arranging rooms at the inn. Talking to the innkeeper, they learn that Xonthal disappeared a century ago but lights have been seen in the tower at night during the past year. Moreover, Hilde, a shepherdess, claims to have seen a huge blue dragon flying overhead. The villagers warn the adventurers to keep away from the maze – many enter, few return.
As the PCs discuss what to do next, they spot a figure on the balcony of the tower – Iskander! He calls out to the heroes and brandishes what appears to be the Blue Dragon Maskin one hand and a large hourglass in the other.
“Look for me beneath the tower,” he shouts. “This [the hourglass] is the key that will let you teleport into the dungeon. I will leave it behind after I use it, but others may find it before you do.” Suddenly, another figure appears on the balcony, there is a brief battle, and the second person falls over the railing.
The PCs fly over to the clearing between the hedge maze and the tower but soon realise dimension door, stone shape and other spells cannot get them inside. Reluctantly, the party enters Xonthal's hedge maze….
Gwastdyn casts find the path in the hopes that this will allow the party find the quickest route to the tower – sadly, the spell fails to work. They will have to do things the hard way.
After a minute or so walking along a neatly maintained garden path, the PCs come to an intersection where eight paths meet. A sundial stands in the centre – its gnomon casts a shadow straight ahead, although this doesn’t reflect the position of the sun. Rosie marks the sundial with her dagger and they take the path where the shadow is pointing. This leads them to an identical intersection – or is it the same one again? This time, there are two shadows: one pointing straight ahead, one pointing directly right.
The PCs take the path directly opposite again. It leads to a large pasture with a pond and a giant-sized cottage; two cyclopes and their sheep stand motionless, coming to life when the adventurers approach. Turin, wearing his belt of hill giant strength, wins a boulder throwing contest with the cyclopes. The cyclops’ rock splits open to reveal a topaz. The PCs pick it up and leave by the far exit, only to find themselves back at the sundial.
Next, they try the right hand path which takes them to a garden of dangerous-looking carnivorous plants – warlock’s trumpetblooms. Crake, Ug and Turin are all paralyzed by their poisonous stingers, but they are able to kill the deadly plants and escape by grabbing one of the pearls growing from their stems.
Back at the sundial again, the PCs take a short rest – Turin casts catnap to speed things up. This time they take the path between the two they tried before which leads to a third (?) sundial. Its shadows point to three of the paths: straight ahead (12 o’clock), 4 o’clock, and 8 o’clock.
The PCs choose straight ahead again, which brings them to a pagoda in the middle of a small lake. They are invited inside by a man in silk robes who fills a strange-looking kettle with herbs. When the kettle begins to give off poison smoke, the man traps the PCs inside the pagoda with a wall of stone and vanishes. With everyone taking damage from the poison, Turin tips the kettle over. Rosie finds a piece of jade inside, then Ug smashes the kettle, causing an angry dao to appear and dispel the wall of stone. Clutching the piece of jade, the PCs make a run for the exit and return to the sundial.
A fox with bright blue fur strolls past, chuckling to itself. It tells the party there are five sundials in all and they are at the third one. The shadows provide clues on which is the correct path to the next sundial. There are four shadows at the fourth sundial, and eight at the fifth where “no path is the right one”. The fox wanders off, smiling enigmatically.
Still unsure how to choose the correct route, they pick the one at 8 o’clock which turns out to be another wrong path leading a twisty maze of hedges. A gorgon charges out of the greenery ahead, bellowing loudly.