Last week on the Tuesday game...
With no choice but to continue up the mountain, the party make for the third tier, where they find themselves confronted with a rapidly cooling swamp. Skirting around its edges, they stumble into a large cavern containing stairs that lead up to the fourth tier... and the skeleton of a large dragon, still warm to the touch.
Spying a large cracked quartz embedded in the right eye socket of the dragon's skull, Delwyn climbs to the top of the skeleton and dislodges it into the waiting arms of Gabriel below. From his new vantage point, however, the monk also spies a ledge high up in the walls of the cavern. Looking at the sheer sides of the wall, he knows that it's going to be a challenging climb, but given his natural agility and his ability to slow his fall, he knows that he will eventually make it. Grabbing the climbing gear, he begins the long, arduous climb upwards, where he passes three piton marks and a singular piton left in the wall.
From the top of the ledge, he lowers down a rope for Alistair who makes it without incident. Gabriel tries to follow suit, but his natural lack of dexterity - coupled with him being so used to the heavy chainmail that he habitually wore, that he did not even benefit from the freedom of movement granted to him by the Dwarven Breastplate that he was now wearing - saw him falling not once, not twice, but three whole times. Frustrated by his lack of progress, the cleric swears off the rope and tells the other two to explore the cavern on his behalf.
Alistair takes a look around the cavern and first notices the gigantic mounds of gold scattered all around the lair. He next notices a strange stone coffin of some kind with a small divark - a dwarven godmind, similar to the one that they last saw in Duskveil - attached to its side. He tries to interact with the machine with the help of Comprehend Languages, but the machine stubbornly resists his spell, forcing him to call for the only other person in the party who reads Dwarven: Gabriel.
Sighing in resignation, Gabriel tries one last time... and actually succeeds. Picking his way through the gold, the cleric fiddles with the divark and tells it to open up. A warning appears, saying that the thing contained within is dangerous, but Gabriel waves the warning away and, despite Alistair's yelled warning, proceeds to authorise access. With a hiss of steam from hidden pneumatics, the stone coffin slides open and reveals a singular Warforged within. Introducing himself as Fulcrum, the creature admits that it has no idea how it ended up here, but that it will be happy enough travelling with the rest of the party until he regains some of his memories.
Knowing that the other adventurers are currently dealing with the threat on the fourth tier, the party decides to head up into the fifth and last tier of the mountain. This high up, the air is so thin that the three humans have to gasp for breath, but they preserve, intent on seeing whatever it is that lies on the summit of this accursed mountain.
A strange sight awaits them them. On a short ledge about 60ft up, they see a single tree of unknown species planted in what appears to be fine loose sand. Further along the path, they see a small waterfall, no more than 50ft tall, with water gently flowing into a lake of some sort. Carved into the very rock of the waterfall is Teneros for "beware", and although Alistair warns Gabriel about approaching the waterfall, Gabriel once again waves his concern aside and decides to drink from the pool.
This did not prove to be a good idea.
Staring at his own reflection in the lake, the magic of the pool begins to twist and pervert the logical paths of his mind. A small voice begins whispering into his ear: "why don't you become king of the world?" He peers into the depths of the water and, seeing his throne prepared for him, dives straight into the water, sitting himself in the wooden chair and grabbing a nearby wooden sceptre.
As he does this, the rest of his party try to run across the ledge to stop him, but the heavy snow and the sudden appearance of water elementals make it difficult for them to rescue the slowly drowning cleric. Fulcrum summons up a demonic spirit of rage hidden deep within his personality matrix and quickly dispatches one of the two elementals, but it was not fast enough by far; judging by the lack of air bubbles being emitted from the lake, Gabriel was now either dead or much further inside the lake.
Leaving the remaining elemental to the other two, Fulcrum dives into the water and drags the cleric's unconscious body away from the underwater tunnel that he had, for reasons unknown to anybody, chosen to swim into. By the time Fulcrum could drag Gabriel's drowned form out of the water, Alistair and Delwyn was down, and the only thing the Warforged could do was flee from the elementals.
By the time the Warforged had caught his (metaphorical) breath, Gabriel was dead, and although Alistair and Delwyn remained unconscious, they were at least stable, and there was no sign of the water elementals. Retrieving his new comrades, Fulcrum drags them back into the tunnel and waits for them to awaken, that they may regroup and think about what they should do next.
When Alistair awakens, he identifies the sceptre as a Sceptre of Water Elemental Control, a powerful device that (when properly attuned) allows him to walk on water and understand the Aquan dialect of Primordial. The sceptre currently has two charges, and if he were to drain both of them, he can Dominate any Water Elemental that he should come across. Were he to slay a Water Elemental whilst holding the Sceptre, he would also be able to breathe underwater and drain charges from the device to cast a variety of spells.
When Delwyn awakens, he decides to investigate the ledge with the strange tree and discovers that three cherry-like fruits are currently growing from its heavy boughs. However, when he tries to leap onto the nearby stones that he might be able to climb the tree, the stone quickly gives way and sinks almost immediately into the sand, where skeletal hands immediately begin clawing at him.
With Fulcrum still a distance away, Delwyn tries his best to fight off the seemingly endless number of skeletal hands grasping at him and pulling him down, but it's a futile fight: he sinks deeper and deeper into the loose sand, until the only thing that is left is the top of his head. Fulcrum finally arrives at this point and, grabbing at the monk's head, begins dragging him out of the sand. It is a struggle, with Delwyn constantly being scratched and clawed by the skeletons all around him, but after a long and prolonged battle the two of them finally manage to get clear of the sand.
Panting, exhausted, and utterly annoyed at how things are going, Delwyn uses the Step of the Wind to run across the sand and, with a single graceful leap, land himself right in the branches of the tree. He plucks the fruits and, after tasting one himself (and finding that it restores him to full health and vitality), shares the other two with his allies.