The heroes backed away from the portal, which shrunk to a faint glow.
A visiting monk from the monastery burst into the chamber, only to find that he was too late to take part in the fight. He introduced himself as Lorenz and offered to aid the party in their investigation. Lorenz is a completely hairless dwarf, but clearly a formidable ally.
An urgent message from the capital, however, has informed Eldum that the Northmen are threatening to leave the talks without his presence, and that another raid took place on the border towns the night before. Eldum excuses himself and leaves the party, heading north in the hopes that he will not be too late to help the country avoid war.
The party decided to check in on Master Huda to learn more. In his office they found a strange smelling cup of tea and an incomplete illuminated tome describing the history of the war in which the City of Wildflowers was destroyed. Nothing else of interest was found in the room. The headed to the library to see if they could learn more about the plant. Believing it to be poisonous, they hoped to learn if there was an antidote.
The librarian took them to botany section, where they found that the plant was sometimes called “dreamer’s weed.” A bit more poking and prodding in the library and they found a full copy of the tome in Master Huda’s bed chamber, but it was falling apart with age. It does appear to describe the rituals that hold the portal closed.
The party went back to Master Huda’s chamber, and Lorenz decided that, since he was immune to poison, he would drink the tea to find out what happened. He took a small sip . . .
and collapsed on the floor.
Twenty minutes later he woke up and described a strange ethereal landscape, filled with glowing trees and a black sky, with a black tower in the distance. He also noted that he was shockingly naked. (Especially because he has no hair.)
The party decided that they needed to head through the portal.
The first thing they discovered was that there was no air on the plane, although they were not suffocating. This was fairly bad news for the party’s spellcasters. However, the mindbender’s telepathic communication certainly came in handy.
A patrol of ethereal demons spotted the party on their treck toward the tower and attacked. After a group of scouts fired a volley of arrows at the party, Lorenz used his abundant step ability to appear behind the group. While the rest of the party closed the gap, Lorenz tore into the scouts.
Zeril and A’en charged into battle. Zeril used his breath weapon, but it was not ideally effective against the creatures. The lieutenant leading the patrol tripped A’en and followed the trip up with a mighty blow with his sword. He also attempted to use his sword’s sleep ability on Zeril, but the half elf just laughed it off.
Fiona meanwhile, though unable to cast spells, took advantage of her high armor class to create a distraction and flank enemies so that A’en could sneak attack them.
The liuetenant called for help using a magic horn that cast a mighty gust of wind and knocked the party over. Then they started to retreat: but the party was too fast, and a collective effort made short work of the creatures.
Among the dead, they found a set of large iron keys, the liuetenant’s magic greatsword, and his horn.
As they neared the tower, the party was assaulted by cannon fire from the walls. Two huge constructs stepped away from the walls and engaged the party. Although the constructs were clearly quite dangerous, the party used magic and the monk’s mighty fists to bring them low to the ground.
Then they opened the door and set off an alarm.
They snuck in through the courtyard, which seemed curiously empty, and slipped into the tower, which as a ruined example of the same architecture in the Kentani monastery outside. After exploring a little bit, they encountered the tower’s guard, a handful of scouts and their captain, a huge ethereal demon wielding a greatsword that cast a gust of wind each time it hit someone. The scouts seemed more frightened of their captain than they were of the party, but that changed when Zeril shapeshifted into a dragon and started trampling them.
Lorenz was able to defeat the captain single handedly, and the captain retreated using etherial jaunt to escape through the floor.
The party explored the main floor of the tower further, finding some cannons at the top of the spiral, a portal (activated by a command word) in the captain’s complex, and eventually some stairs into the basement, where they encountered some guard dogs. The captain walked through the wall and attacked the party again, having healed himself somewhat, but he was quickly bested. Before he died, though, he laughed at the party’s feeble attempts to stave off the invasion, hinting at a large force poised to enter through the monastery.
Also in the basement was a cage, seemingly made of diamonds, in which was the incorporeal ethereal projection of the sleeping Master Huda, completely naked.
The party discovered that Master Huda did not recognize his surroundings, as he appeared to be dreaming he was in a peaceful grove of trees. He was able to speak (and cast simple spells) but could not leave the cage.
Zeril used silent spell to transport himself into the cage with Dimension Door, but since he couldn’t touch the old master, he couldn’t bring him back out.
The party scratched their chins. Would they have cut through dozens of the world’s most fearsome enemies, only to meet their match when faced with a magic riddle?
Here is what the party knows about the Dream Cage:
1) None of their weapons seem to damage the cage. For all they know, it could be indestructible.
2) Master Huda is incorporeal on this plane. He appears to be on a sub-plane. The ethereal plane has layers of reality like the astral plane. However, they are reasonably certain that one enters the plane he is on by drinking the tea.
3) Master Huda appears to be audible and able to cast spells.