Well, okay, there's also Eric loudly shouting 'Can we get on with it?' whenever anyone tries to mess around with anything, even if Ariel is in another room. 9.9
After running from the ghost, and verifying that the rest of the doors except the locked one were empty and useless, the party passwalled through the door into the locked room and found... an ogre. Who didn't speak their language. So they killed it and used 'speak with dead'. The ogre revealed that it was a random ogre who knew nothing, not even why it was in the tower in the first place! Somehow, it had just found itself here, and had run around fighting undead and ghosts and random other ogres until it got scared and locked itself in a room.
Further exploration found the living quarters for a pair of perverted mages, with magic pantyhose, magic sex dolls, magic sheets that cast a grease spell (grease?), a basket of infinite vienna sausages, and a wind-up cleaning monkey who could answer yes or no questions by nodding or shaking its head but knew nothing. They also found a staircase. Yay! Something other than doors to random rooms full of useless junk and/or traps!
The staircase led to a giant, multi-level library with magic elevators, deactivated library robots, and small storage rooms off to one side or the other. They had a map that looked like it was supposed to be a map of the library, but it had the wrong number of floors and the labels' positions didn't make sense compared to what was actually on the shelves even if you allowed for possible missing spaces or whatever. Since they had no idea what the diagram was supposed to be of anyway, they tossed it and activated a library robot instead.
Beware studied up on dragons, and determined that the dragon they'd seen at the bottom was probably a flame/shadow dragon hybrid -- a 'smoke dragon'. It'd be weak to cold and had both a breath weapon and a burst of damaging stuff, as well as the ability to take control of everybody's minds at once for a brief time, periodically. They didn't want to fight it.
But then, they didn't *need* to -- they just needed to get past to get to 'the library' (obviously a *different* library -- to be fair the one they were in now was like the fifth they'd found since entering Stonekeep). Further searching revealed the existance of a hidden cache of dangerous magics that man was not meant to know beneath the mages' tower, which could be accessed through the library they were in. Ariel and Azm started researching that cache while the others searched the various side rooms because they were bored.
Floor 7: They found an empty summoning chamber.
Floor 6: What looked like a blacksmith's forge, with some unremarkable golems guarding it that they had to kill.
Floor 5: Ghoul storage. A single ghoul was no match for them. Also, an alchemy lab with lots of potions, but only one of each type.
Floor 4: A trophy room which warned that the things inside were 'glazgraglazalgls' or something, and not to cross the line. Searching in the library proper explained that those were 'intelligent spirits that were created for intelligent magic items and then extracted'. Also, that extracting them was impossible. They chatted with one of the spirits a bit (it mostly denied its own existance) but didn't cross the lines to retrieve anything because of the warnings, the sense that this was a library and looting it might make the librarians mad (Beware: "we should probably put the potions back too"), and the dead ogre lying just past the line as an object lesson.
Floor 3: A well full of treasure and bones. They had a bag of tricks they'd found, so they pulled out a macetail behemoth and told it to use its tail to sweep some treasure out of the probably poisonous 'water' -- what *else* are summoned creatures for? The water burst into flames and killed the behemoth instantly, and the flames spoke, promising to answer any question. "But you must pay me well, or you will pay with your life!" They backed away slowly, promising to come back and ask questions later. [OOCly, we knew what Ariel had found by this point but ICly we didn't]
The other floors had nothing.
What Ariel had found were several options for dealing with the dragon, all of which excep for number 3 were located in the forbidden vaults under the library.
1: A mechanism for plane-shifting directly into 'the library', if only they knew what plane it was on.
2: A giant iron golem that might be able to be controlled and might fight off the dragon.
3: "Oh, and by the way, we could feed the dragon someone good-aligned as a sacrifice and it would put it to sleep for 24 hours."
4: A spell to encase the dragon with amber.
5: A time-freeze spell that would allow one person to act outside of time, but might age them.
6: METEO. If ten people cast it at the same time it might be enough to kill the dragon. It had a ten minute casting time though, so one person casting it ten times probably wouldn't work.
7: A spell to shrink any number of people down to bug size for a few hours. Then they could sneak past!
The best option seemed to be to shrink most of the party down, and have one volunteer use the time-freeze spell to run past the dragon, carrying them. The second best, to wake up the iron golem and have it kill the dragon or vice versa, but to sneak past to the doorway once they were fully engaged.
So, down to the vault. There were six doors, each labelled 'challenge of BLAH' where 'BLAH' was a word vaguely relating to one attribute. In the middle was a design in the floor that would obviously fold down into a staircase once it was activated, presumably by facing each of the challenges.
Ariel was the guinea pig to face the 'Challenge of Popularity' -- they didn't know if everyone needed to do all of them, or if everyone could *help* with all of them, or what, but she was the only one with any charisma so... she spent two hours arguing with a skeletal judge until she finally managed to win over the crowd, which passed the challenge, and activated a beam of light shining at the design in the center chamber.
They decided to face the rest of the challenges in pairs, because having one person to assist would probably be useful, except for the 'challenge of cleverness' which they'd all do together because none of them were very smart.
Heyyou and Warren went through the challenge of suffering, which involved being crushed repeatedly by a moving wall against a series of progressively stronger immobile walls. Heyyou managed to hold out against the first two crushes, but the third did 100 points of damage to each of them. The fourth, he protected Warren and took 120 damage while Warren only took 60. The fifth -- turned out to be the real end wall with a real door they could open, and they got out alive.
Beware and Varnix went through the challenge of strength, where they were shrunk down to mouse size and needed to get through a locked door. It took lots of climbing, rope use, hauling on pulleys... Beware needed to use his greatsword as a lockpick to disarm the ballista-sized (proportionally) poisoned needle trap, but couldn't actually pick the lock so they had to haul the giant key up to the keyhole. But eventually they got it open.
3 down, 3 to go!
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