The heroes gathered themselves and while several discussed what they had read in Crim’s tome, the rest discussed what their next destination would be.
Creature provided the adventurers with something to search for after informing them of what her visions pointed showed her. A town with two very prominent looking Gnomes and a mansion that sat on a cliff and overlooked the sea. There was also the sight of a familiar purple gem.
Thus the heroes set out for Trinity’s library. This library, like many of the others that had been established by the Illundra, was in the shape of a very large tree. But like the new Arcane Library of Halar, this library was artificial. It’s floor plan was also very similar in that the first several levels were open to the general public.
Al’ev wondered if it had been Tanidor Rolovir who designed this one as he had the rebuilt library in Halar.
The heroes began their search and after only a few hours, they were able to pinpoint the town in Creature’s vision as the Gnomish capital of Tinkton. The city was known to have a prominent magic academy named “Universe T” ran by a family with the last name “Tofton.” The capital was said to hold a very large festival, one that had held a contest that hadn’t been won in quite some time, that somehow tied into this academy.
With this in mind, they set out for Tinkton, deciding the best way to travel would be on foot on the road east out of Trinity.
The first day was uneventful, the heroes even managing to find some nice bed grass to set up camp in on the first night.
The second day proved to be a bit different. Midway through the day they came across a man who appeared to be crawling his way to Trinity.
Upon closer inspection, the man turned out to be starved. He asked for food, and when Sindri tried to barter food for the weapons at his hips which Sindri sensed were magic.
The man refused and before Sindri could try again, T’lemya inserted food into his mouth.
The man seemed quickly revitalized and sprang to his feet. Looking directly in T’lemya’s eyes he said “Hey, you’re cut. Are you taken?”
Needless to say this didn’t go over well.
The man’s name turned out to be Coal. More than that, he wasn’t willing to give. He was more than happy to press on the adventurer’s nerves though, at one point causing Al’ev to “test” his magical abilities. The magus quickly determined that Coal possessed no such abilities.
The group continued on after learning that Creature preferred to go by the name “Stride.” They were all somewhat dismayed when Coal followed and ended up sleeping in their camp the second night.
It was on the second night that the adventurers came across a familiar face. Zane stumbled into their camp and when he realized who he had come across, asked for their most recent stories. Al’ev gave a few, though he wasn’t wanting to reflect on many of their more recent adventurers for they were too fresh and too painful still.
Zane left early the following morning and the adventurers continued on. The heroes elected to bypass Caori, instead going through a side route in the forest that fed into the main trade route South.
Another sixteen days on foot brought them to the bustling city of Tinkton. Coal, having stuck with the adventurers the entire time, was able to translate some of what was being said by the locals as they milled about.
The heroes, it turned out, had arrived the day prior to “The Breaching Festival.” This was the same festival they had read about in the texts back in Trinity’s library. This in mind, the heroes headed directly for Universe T, the mansion on the clifftop.
When they arrived, they found a notice on the gates which were barred shut. It informed all who read it that the academy was closed while preparations for the Breaching Festival were being held. It also mentioned that sign ups were being held at an inn called “Short Grounds”
With little else to do short of breaking and entering, the heroes headed to Short Grounds. There they saw crowds surrounding three individuals who turned out be be contestants for the following day’s tournament.
Knur was a dwarf who appeared to be quite the warrior as he held a sword that was easily six feet long. Magrand was a quiet sort who had little interest in the goings on in the inn if it wasn’t in his spell book. Illia was a woman who appeared happy with sticking to the shadows.
Several heroes tried to discuss the coming day with these three, but they were able to learn very little, beyond Knur having the normal dwarven capacity for ale.
The heroes eventually realized that they had come here following a vision and had likely arrived at this time to participate in the tournament the following day. Learning that they could work together without it being against the rules of the tournament, they signed up with the hopes that they would find answers as to why they were in the Gnomish town the following morning.
The following morning the heroes gathered and headed out of the inn to find the city very quiet. They headed up to Universe T, finding the academy surrounded by the entire population of Tinkton.
The heroes gathered with the other three competitors and stood before a pair of gnomes. Stride indicated the good looking gnomish woman and the elderly gnomish man as the ones in her vision. With this in mind, the heroes listened as the rules of the tournament were explained.
Their goal, it turned out, was retrieve several magical keys, one for every two people, and then pass through the main hall and make it through the other side. In theory, it sounded simple. But the elderly man, who turned out to be Mr. Tofton, explained that the academy’s best instructors had been preparing traps and spells that would possibly kill those who were about to compete.
Mr. Tofton turned to the academy and pointed at the face of the academy on which were nine doors, seven of which were smaller than the double doors in the center.
Each of the smaller doors opened into hallways that specialized in one of the schools of magic. The halls were named accordingly: The hall of Shaping, the Hall of Induction, The Hall of Seeing, The Hall of Summoning, The Hall of Lies, the Hall of Charms, the Hall of Whispers and the Main Hall which turned out to be the Hall of Wards. Each of the halls, with the exception of the main hall, held a key.
The heroes waited a short time before the tournament started. The three other competitors each entered separate doors.
The heroes debated for a moment and then decided to enter the Hall of Whispers first. Upon entering they found that the hall had several classrooms arranged on either side, one right after the other. They decided to split up and search for the first of four keys they would need to move forward.
After a few minutes, they located the room which held the trap. Al’ev was able to identify the spell and the trigger almost immediately. It was a very potent necromancy spell meant to suck the water out of its target and everything withing sixty feet of the target. After a short debate on how to handle it, T’lemya approached the magical trap and attempted to disarm it, using Sindri’s goggles to assist.
The attempt failed, and though Al’ev tried to counter the spell, it still went off and the heroes staggered back to their feet, finding the first key.
Cursing as he left the classroom Al’ev couldn’t help but say how much he hated necromancy once again.
The heroes stepped back out into the main area and decided to go check on their competition. They chose the hall of induction, the hall Knur had chosen, and quickly located the dwarf, who was very dead after having triggered multiple evocation spells. But the key was ready for the taking. Before the heroes could grab it, however, Stride brought the dwarf back to life as a zombie minion.
Al’ev and Neo left the room in disgust while Sindri grabbed the key and the group continued on, plus one undead minion.
Next the heroes chose to enter the Hall of Seeing. This one turned out to have a room that was circular and contained mirrors on every wall.
The mirrors showed a key in the center of the room, but the heroes could not see one when they looked away. Then the heroes noticed that their reflections beckoned to them and began to walk backwards until they were before the key. Sindri decided to follow suite and before the heroes could react, he saw the key and grabbed it.
Immediately a powerful presence entered their minds and answered a single question to those who managed to think of one before their minds were overwhelmed completely. Those who couldn’t suddenly found themselves lacking their full intelligence. But the group had acquired the third key and they were able to move on to the next hall, the Hall of Charms.
This hall had an interesting gimmick in that the key moved away from anything that approached it. To further complicate things, a powerful confusion spell. Using their Zombie lackey, they discovered these things, and between Velius and a successful counterspell from Al’ev, the confusion spell was suppressed. This left the heroes to chase after the key for several seconds before Al’ev decided to take advantage of T’lemya’s shadow prowess.
The key, which had flown into a corner was now cornered by Sindri and Stride, who were both flying within 40 feet of it. On the ground, the heroes had another perimeter waiting in case the key descended to ground level again. Al’ev cast a dancing light spell, causing the key’s shadow to appear on the ceiling behind it and allowing T’lemya to jump out from the shadow and grab the key. Before she fell a few feet, Al’ev cast a feather fall spell allowing her to descend slowly.
Their fourth key in hand, the heroes set out to face whatever may await them in the main hall…