18th of Tarsakh
The Fellowship investigates the roof of Pyron’s cave and discovers a 20-foot-wide vertical, smooth, metal shaft that leads up into the darkness. At irregular intervals, blasts of steam rocket down the shaft into the cavern.
The group prepares spells of resistance and ascends the slippery, humid tunnel. After a climb of 350 feet, they come upon an opening in the ceiling of the shaft, and upon peering out, they see an enormous forge, filling the chamber with a sweltering heat and fiery glow. The floor is made of polished basalt, and the chamber is stained with soot. The crack of a whip and cries of pain draw the attention of the group to between several carts filled with raw iron ore
A strange reptilian creature which exudes crimson flames and whose humanoid torso ends in a sinuous snake-like serrated metal tail uses its fearsome lower appendage like a whip to assault a group of cowering workers who resemble metallic-skinned dwarves with hair and beards of flame.
The Fellowship bursts through the trapdoor and do battle with the half-machine salamander. They defeat it and manage to communicate with the workers, whom they identify as azers. The salamander they slew turned out to be a cruel individual named Tazqualrin, a slavedriver who forces the azers to produce metal limbs and parts for Kambranex’s mad creations. The azers also inform the Fellowship that some doors only open to small, colored, metal cards that Kambranex’s lieutenants carry with them. The Fellowship has recovered a green card and a grey card from the half-machine minotaur, and now a yellow one from Tazqualrin. They tell the azers to go free, for which they are thanked, and then they press on through the lift to the North.
The lift takes them up a level and opens into a small antechamber with three yellow doors set into the other three walls. The door directly across from the lift opens up to reveal a small, circular room. A large symbol on the ceiling casts a scarlet glow over the room. In the center of the room, a large crescent-shaped arch stands atop a dais. A yellow symbol similar to the one on the ceiling, only smaller, glows at the apex of the arch, and a card-sized indentation marks the center.
The Fellowship decides it’s best not to fool with a wizard’s things unbidden, so they go back to the antechamber and try another door. This one leads them into a work room where 4 automatons mindlessly assemble pieces forged below into limbs and organs, their tool-laden hands quickly fitting, welding, and polishing the pieces into a larger whole. The Fellowship leaves the strange robots alone and scavenges some toolkits before continuing along the circumference of the tower.
The next room held a large partly mechanical, partly organic machine that filled the room with pulses of magical energy emanating from it. Arcane symbols and knobs and dials adorn a control panel on the side of the thing. The machine connects to the wall of the room before it, and the room after it, being presumably only one part of some horrible greater purpose.
The next chamber reeks of burnt flesh, blood, and electricity. The huge machine continues out of the wall, with a conveyor belt leading into the next segment like a gaping maw. The room is filled with dreadful grinding and zapping noises, and suddenly a woman is dislodged from the far end of the machine, where she falls limply to the floor. Shortly after a man follows, in the same state, and the noise lowers somewhat. Both of them sport new metal limbs, but it seems neither survived the attachment process. An umber hulk with huge metal limbs and serrated sharp fingers sees the party and attacks. The beast is felled, and Cale desires the thing’s eye orbs to sell to wizards as material components. While he cuts them out, HALO finds a red colored card among the few possessions of the umber hulk.
The card opens the doors of 3 cells within the room, set against the outer wall. 14 Horntallow tribesfolk are found within. Dolf bids them to wait so that the Fellowship may escort them safely back to their tribe, and the Fellowship heads back to the lift, which takes them further upwards when presented with the red card.
When the lift doors open, the familiar symbol on the ceiling illuminates the 20-foot-tall chamber with a hellish glow. An iron and basalt desk dominates the center of the room. An iron bookshelf, sparsely filled with ancient tomes, scroll cases, and other arcane items, spans the left wall. A fantastic machine fills the far side of the room, and atop the machine, 10 feet off the floor, a burgundy-skinned man with long grey hair and a bronze amulet around his neck floats limply within a glass bubble filled with glowing green liquid. Electricity pulses through the liquid, causing the emaciated body to jerk spasmodically now and then. Near the machine is a sophisticated workshop where metal limbs and strange tools cover two long workbenches. To the right stands a modest alchemy lab that has seen little use.
In front of the machine is a kneeling gleaming black metal figure, seeming almost to be a squire waiting to be knighted, until it slowly rises to reveal a hulking humanoid figure. it turns to behold you through a glowing green helmet slit, and bears a matching amulet to the figure in the glass sphere. A booming, grinding voice emits from the guardian. “FOOLISH SOFT CREATURES! YOU MUST BE MECHANIZED!”. And with that utterance, it raises one of its spiked black fists, both of which burst into flames, and a conical dart fires outward violently. The Fellowship engages in pitched battle with the strange being, and though Dolf and Cale nearly perish, the day is theirs!
The Mechanical Man falls, and Dolf reasons that Kambranex is the figure held within the glass sphere. HALO hurls his magical returning axe at the sphere, shattering it, and the machine powers down as the fluid spills everywhere. Dolf beheads the body of Kambranex, and the group searches for anything useful within the powerful wizard’s private study. They obtain several powerful scrolls and a masterwork alchemy set as well as several masterwork thieves tools and masterwork blacksmiths and metalworkers toolkits as well.
The Fellowship returns one floor down to gather the Horntallow abductees and begins the long trek back to their cavern. The descent through the steam tunnel is infinitely easier due to the progressive shut-down of Kambranex’s tower after the generator was damaged, and the delighted magmins are more than happy to help see the Fellowship and their guests to the cliff face. Several judicious applications of levitation and a few hours later, and the Fellowship reaches the Horntallow cavern.
Upon receiving the survivors and the news that Kambranex and his foul creations were forevermore defeated, the ecstatic genasi insisted that the Fellowship stay and feast with them. They were lead back to the main Northern Horntallow Cavern and treated to a unique feast, after which they bed down to a well earned rest.