The denizens of Skull City abandoned their evil enterprise, and the Sidmouth Slayers made a temporary base there.
Now, the secret of Acererak’s Amulet of the Void was revealed. With the Amulet in the adventurers’ possession, and a portion of the physical remains of the demilich, the Great Green Face served as a portal to another realm. The party passed through the portal and emerged in a strange city.
They stood on an iron walkway, spanning a void between towers. A stone obelisk stood on the walkway, inscribed with a message from Acererak. This was the City of Moil, a haphazard array of varied towers reaching up into black clouds riven with silent lightning; below, it seemed that the towers were built upon darkness itself. Acererak’s rhyme claimed that those who would seek him in his Fortress would need to overcome several challenges here in Moil. There was no return portal.
The party followed the walkway towards one of the towers. “Bacon” Barrowburrower, with the ability to understand any language thanks to a permanent Tongues spell, could read the runes over the entrance to the tower: “Tower of Portals.”
The interior of the tower consisted of narrow bridges and a central support column, with three platforms arrayed around the central support. The party cautiously approached the uppermost platform. It bore an archway filled with mist. On one side of the archway was a circular depression with three hand-shaped indentations in coloured tiles. The colours matched runes scribed atop the arch. Bacon read the runes: “Tower of Health”, “Hub”, and “Periphery”. Bacon discovered that placing his hand in the appropriate indentation changed the colour of the mist to match that of the runes and the tiles. A short discussion led to the party agreeing to attempt travel to the “Periphery” using this portal.
It was not a wise decision. The portal did lead to the Periphery of the City, but Moil was a demiplane and travelling to its edge placed the party at a planar boundary, falling towards infinite blackness. They had mere seconds to respond. Fortunately they thought and acted quickly. Kito activated his boots of flying and raced to catch Helka, who had no means to save herself. Shortly had a ring of levitation, which he used. Bearcloak used his own magic. Bacon pulled out the Glass Griffon and activated it, holding on for dear life! With the immediate danger over, the party looked for solid ground. The nearest walkway was 200 feet away. But the danger wasn’t over yet. Flying through Moil’s skies were swarms of tiny negative energy creatures. These swarms flocked to the Sidmouth Slayers as they fled towards the walkway. Each touch of the swarms drained life energy from the living. Bacon cleverly bought some time with a Wind Wall spell, whilst magical fire was evoked by his allies. By the time most of the party had reached the walkway, one of the swarms had been dispersed. One swarm still surrounded Shortly, who was bringing up the rear. But Shortly managed to protect himself with a Death Ward. The swarm could not feed on him because of his spell, and flew off to seek other prey.
Now the party was in a different section of the City that Waits. The Tower of Portals could not be seen. They proceeded to the nearest tower. Outside, in front of a granite door, a message had been scratched into the stone: “Ware the Darkweaver in her lair – D”. This Darkweaver had been remarked upon in Acererak’s rhyme on the obelisk. The party decided that they did not wish to face her yet. They retreated towards another tower.
This next tower also bore an inscription over the entrance, in the strange runes that only Bacon could read: “Tower of Discipline.” Entering the tower, the party found that it contained many prison cells. One of them held a cocoon within a metallic frame. The cocoon held a humanoid prisoner, frozen solid and long dead. Around his neck was a brass vial, that Shortly located within the silk cocoon by using a near-forgotten magic item that he owned, a Rod of Metal and Mineral Detection. The vial contained a scrap of paper, with the characteristic runic script. It said “Interrogation unto Admission”.
Further on, the party found a more mobile occupant. An executioner, replete with headsman’s hood and axe. He stood before a chopping block. As the party gazed upon him, unsure if he was alive, he spoke. Although only Bacon could understand the words, they nonetheless had an effect upon Kito. The headsman was telling Kito to place his head upon the chopping block. Kito resisted the urge to comply, and the headsman advanced with axe raised.
A short battle followed. It was evident that the headsman was not truly alive, but was a sophisticated construct resistant to most weapons. It could not overcome the combined might of the heroes, and it dissolved into a puddle of flesh-coloured goo. Its axe and hood remained, as well as a large obsidian key. The party took their prizes.
The key opened the way into another section of the tower. There, they found a living prisoner within a cell. She was hooded and her arms were chained to the wall. This woman first thought that Acererak had come to pay her a visit. When she realised that it was not he, she pleaded for aid. The party hesitated, and in her impatience the prisoner voiced a magical compulsion. Both Helka and Kito were enchanted. Bacon held the key, and was invisible. So Helka chopped down the obisidian door with her mighty greataxe. Shortly temporarily paralysed Helka with a spell. As Bacon took up his lute, hoping to counter the enchantment, Kito went into the cell and broke the silver chain holding the prisoner’s hood in place. Removing the hood, he looked straight into the face of a medusa! Both Kito and Helka avoided being turned to stone. Bacon then successfully countered the medusa’s enchantment, and furious at having been controlled Helka raised up her axe and moved to strike down the prisoner: but this time, Helka did not resist the power of the medusa’s legendary stare. Shortly and Kito avoided the potent gaze, and the poisonous snakes that formed the medusa’s hair, and attacked. The medusa pleaded for her life, but her enchanting voice did not prevail against Bacon’s lute-playing. She won only a pause as the party asked her what aid she could give; they were not persuaded of her usefulness or loyalty, and ended her existence. Two strange items were found upon her person: a petrified heart and stomach. Bearcloak restored Helka to flesh. The party also found a torture chamber, with another frozen corpse. This corpse also bore a brass vial, the scrap of paper within said in the runic script of Moil: “absolve”. The party left the tower.
The next tower had two entrances, but the party approached it from the lower of two walkways. Instead of runic script the entrance bore a symbol, a humanoid wrapped in bandages, entwined by two snakes that faced each other.
In this large tower, the party entered a wizard-locked storage room filled with a random assortment of containers. They took a number of unidentified liquids. They encountered an undead creature that seemed to radiate cold. Most of the party had some protection against the cold, and those who did not were able to obtain protection with their own spells. The undead tried to attack, but was easily knocked down again. But the party had no way to destroy it, as it kept healing. Eventually, it was decided that the best solution was to simply stay away from it.
Elsewhere in this tower, the party encountered a bizarre surgeon, seemingly part man and part machine. Gliding down from a high ceiling, upon a serpentine metallic arm, the surgeon attempted to operate! With many scalpels and a pair of whirring circular saws it cut into Helka! Even the mighty barbarian could not long withstand such treatment. As her allies came to her aid, and the recalcitrant patient resisted, the surgeon gassed the party with a powerful anaesthetic. Only Helka and Shortly resisted. Shortly got all of his sleeping allies out, except for Bacon who was invisible. Helka fled. The surgeon glided out of his infirmary, looking for his patients. Shortly caught him in a Blade Barrier, and Helka finished him off with a retaliatory strike, despite suffering many wounds herself. The sleeping Sidmouth Slayers could not be roused, and so the wakeful party members resolved to put them to bed in the infirmary, heal their wounds, and wait….