About 40 minutes after they left, Fred and Turk appeared some 20 yards from the rest of the party.
“Well, here’s your stuff,” Fred said. “I also got a gold, aluminum, and brass forked rod.”
“Thank you,” Groth said.
“Uh … that horny bastard … that devil … Brian, whatever his name is,” Fred said.
“Barry,” Alexiah said.
“Barry,” Fred said. “He had Solarian steel but he wanted me to kill one of the dwarves for it, so I told him ‘no.’”
“One of …” Alexiah said.
“Which one?” Ahnold said.
“You don’t want to know,” Fred said.
“One of us?” Alexiah said.
“Oh,” Ahnold said.
“Then … I just teleported back to the portal without having to make a deal with him,” Fred said.
“What!?!” Alexiah said.
“Wait, what?” Groth said. “Wait what?”
“With the helmet on?” Alexiah said.
“No, I can just teleport,” Fred said.
“We need that teleport!” Groth said. “To get into the fortress.”
“Well, he wanted the most valuable thing in our possession,” Fred said. “And I wasn’t going to do that.”
“Friendship?” Ahnold said.
“I made a call and I wasn’t going to sacrifice one of us,” Fred said.
“We appreciate that,” Alexiah said. “Good call.”
“What does this do to the plan!?!” Ahnold said.
“It means we have to change the plan a little bit.”
“I know, it’s hard.”
“My head hurts.”
“We’ll help you. We’ll help you. We’ll help you remember. It’s okay. I don’t think it’ll change the plan for you, Ahnold. I think it’ll change what other people have to do.”
Groth asked who had the larger bags of holding and they started to figure out how to get everyone in. Turk had a bag that could hold up to 500 pounds. Groth got some gold back from Fred as the forks were cheap. He thought a few moments about the plan.
He cast spiritual adviser. A small, glowing orb appeared on his shoulder and Groth started asking questions about the creatures in the pit: the dragonnes, bladelings, the azers, and fire elementals. He learned that dragonnes had a devastating roar that caused fatigue and exhaustion, and the azers were immortal and could form and eat children at will. He also learned fire elementals were injured by water and could not cross large bodies of water.
“Turk, do you still have the elemental shards?” Alexiah said.
“Yeah,” he said.
“We were wondering if some of them might come into play in the tower, so we were hoping to distribute, not necessarily the fire ones. Can you get them out of your bag?”
“Oh. Yeah, I suppose so.”
“You suppose so?”
The lilt in her voice reminded Ahnold of his mother, who used to beat him regularly to show how much she loved him. She had used the same lilt in her voice just before beatings began. He looked at the dwarf woman nervously and hoped she wouldn’t beat him. He didn’t enjoyed the beatings, which often earned him more beatings.
Turk handed out the shards to the people and put one of each color above his own head. Groth pointed out only the water ones would help them and the earthquake power would affect them all. The wind walk was only good for traveling long distances by flight. The water one did a wall of ice.
They discussed how to teleport and how much room was in various bags of holding and teleporting. They tried to figure out a way for the all to go in a single use of the helmet without luck. In the end, they determined Fred, Max, and Himo would go into Alexiah’s bag of holding. Fred noted someone would have to hold his belt of many pockets. Ahnold said he’d tuck it into his belt.
In end, they decided they could all go and then Ahnold would go back for Glorack. Alexiah, Groth, and Turk would carry their bags of holding with Max, Himo, and Fred in Alexiah’s bag of holding. They made sure Ahnold understood exactly what he was to do.
“How are the shards distributed?” Max said.
“Thank you for bringing that back up, Max,” Alexiah said.
She turned to Turk.
“Turk,” she said. “You are handing out the shards.”
“I did,” Turk said.
Everyone got an aquamarine shard. Of the quartz shards, everyone but Fred and Ahnold got one. Alexiah decided to deal with Turk holding the rest of the shards later.
“So, Ahnold doing teleporting,” Ahnold said. “Where you want to be in room? Strategy. Where you want to be in room? I know room. I remember it now. Where you want to be?”
“I would say … just off the bottom of the stairs to the side,” Groth said.
He described a spot that Ahnold recognized, showing him on the map they had.
“Who’s going to go for the weapon and who’s going to go for the …” Max said.
“We need to take out the enemies first,” Groth said. “We need to hopefully see if we can charm the fire elemental.”
“Befriend?” Ahnold said.
“Befriend him, yeah,” Groth said. “And free him. Take out the other ones.”
“Since the forge is so loud, our battle might be concealed down there, nothing else may come. That’s why I asked him about that. If we can get rid of all the villains – I’m going to have to tell all these dwarves, these smiths, to hold hands before I can plane shift them out of there. So … I think we need to neutralize the situation. Then we can grab the sword, teleport everybody out, and we can cubehop out.”
“So, Ahnold says word, appears there. Then says word but doesn’t bring anybody back with him …”
“Right,” both Groth and Alexiah said.
“… to …” Ahnold said.
He pointed to Glorack.
“Then bring Glorack,” he said. “Appear same place?”
“Yes,” Groth said.
“Ahnold’s using the helm three times,” Himo said.
“Yes,” Groth said.
“Fred didn’t have to use it to get back here.”
“He used his actual teleportation. We were all going to teleport at once. That’s not feasible now.”
“Ahnold understand,” Ahnold said. “Ahnold understand.”
Alexiah hefted her ice burst battle axe. Groth case resist energy mass against fire, which would protect them all a great deal against heat and fire. He cast Tasha’s touch on Alexiah which would help her resist things. He cast that on himself as well. He cast night shield on himself. Fred cast stoneskin and shield on himself. Max used his psionics to augment his armor, making it stronger.
Ahnold put on the helm of teleportation.
“Mukumi,” he said.
Ahnold, Turk, Groth, and Alexiah appeared at the bottom of the stairs that led up from the Pit of Toil. It was horribly loud with the dwarves banging on something on the great anvil nearby. The furnace near it held a massive fire elemental with two smaller fire elementals in the liquid metal. Standing by the anvil was an azer while another was also in the room. A bladeling stood in the middle of the room, still out of sight of the party. Two dragonnes prowled the room as well, one of them in sight of the party. At the landing at the top of the stairs was the huge golem with giant serrated blades for hands, each of them with a design in the blade’s blood runnels.
Fred popped out of Alexiah’s bag of holding and looked around. He saw the blade golem and cast a lightning bolt spell, striking the golem solidly with it. It had started to turn and, though it seemed unharmed by the electricity, it slowed. Himo was out of the bag behind him and looked around as well. He quickly moved over to the wall towards the nearby corner, drawing his kama.
Groth cast recitation, giving all his nearby allies protection and enhancing their melee attacks for the next minute or so. He moved behind Ahnold and towards where Himo stood by the wall. Then Max popped out of Alexiah’s bag of holding and looked around. He manifested energy ray on the blade golem, blasting it with a ray of cold, instantly augmenting it, but nothing seemed to happen.
Alexiah rushed up the stairs and attacked the blade golem. She struck the thing, but it didn’t seem as badly harmed as she thought it should be. Ahnold pulled Fred’s magical belt of pockets from his own belt and leaned back to hand it to the gnome. Then he moved towards the center of the room to get a good look of the whole place.
They noticed, then, not all the dwarf slaves were physical beings. Many looked like ghosts.
“Mukumi,” Ahnold said and disappeared.
Turk cast magic circle against evil on himself. Fred put his belt on and then cast bear’s endurance on himself. Then the dragonnes, having noted the party’s appearance, rushed across the room at Turk, Himo, and Groth. One charged Groth and bit him, scratching its claws on his armor. Himo tumbled around the dragonne to flank the creature. He tried to strike it with his magical kama but it bounced off the furry hindquarters.
The metal the party wore and held started to glow with the heat.
“Keep working!” the azer near the anvil shouted.
The other azer and the bladeling rushed Himo.
“Fred!” Groth shouted over the din. “Talk with the fire elementals! The rest of us focus on them one at a time!”
He moved next to Turk and called upon his holy power, adding to his strength, and attacked the dragonne he flanked with Himo. He struck the creature three times solidly with his battle axe and hurt it badly. Max moved by Fred and then concentrated and manifested a cold energy bolt, firing it at the uninjured dragonne that went through both of the creatures. The nearest one leapt aside slightly as frost covered part of it while the second one froze solid.
At the top of the stairs, the blade golem tore into Alexiah, badly injuring her. Blood gushed from the wounds. She fled from the thing and it struck her again as she ran to the bottom of the stairs.
“We need to use ranged attacks on this one!” she screamed.
Ahnold and Glorack appeared exactly where Ahnold had been standing before. He saw the dragonne before him and brought his club down on the creature once, smashing it, and then stuck it from the side the second time, knocking it into the frozen one. Both dead creatures slid across the room to the far wall.
“We are here to free you!” he shouted.
Turk cast rhino rush on himself and charged the azer, who he did not detect as evil. He struck the flaming dwarf solidly, killing him instantly.
“There’s another one behind you!” he yelled at Himo.
Glorack charged the bladeling behind Himo but missed it.
The azer across the room said something in another language and the elementals in the furnace moved out of it and towards the party. Fred cast tongues and yelled to the elementals.
“Side with us and we’ll set you free!” he yelled.
He moved towards the other side of the room.
Himo moved to one side, flanking the bladeling with Glorack. He used his kama to hook the bladeling’s foot, tripping the creature and knocking it to the ground. He then slashed the creature with the weapon, cutting it badly again and again. Another azer rushed him and stabbed him with a half spear. The bladeling tried to stand, eliciting blows from Himo, Glorack, and Ahnold. The result left little more than a smear on the ground.
“Stick around!” Ahnold quipped at the top of his lungs.
Groth moved to Alexiah and cast a heal spell.
“Ahnold! Get ready!” he shouted. “This golem is bad news!”
Max moved away from the stairs and manifested a cold energy ray on the azer near Himo and froze him solid. Just then the blade golem came slowly down the stairs appearing around the wall. Ahnold took advantage of his reach to strike the thing as it appeared, but his club merely bounced off its the side.
Alexiah screamed and moved between Ahnold and Groth as the thing turned towards them.
“Used ranged attacks on this thing!” she yelled.
Ahnold swung his club, striking the thing and only slightly injuring it. The second blow merely bounced off the iron body of the thing.
“Make a wall of ice!” he yelled, pointing at the golem.
Turk moved to the fire elemental, which struck him as he approached. He tried to hit the thing but didn’t seem to injure it. Then Glorack charged it. It struck the rhino as it approached but Glorack also struck the massive flaming creature. The smaller elementals both attacked Glorack but didn’t injure the beast.
The azer behind the anvil walked to it and put his hand on the blade.
Fred cast dispel magic at the large fire elemental, hoping it was being magically controlled. He didn’t see any change in the creature’s demeanor so moved to one side.
Himo tumbled towards the anvil, going by the elementals and through the real and ghostly slaves.
“Alexiah, our spells are useless against that thing and we have no good ranged!” Groth, standing by Ahnold, yelled.
He took a step back along the wall, making sure he could still see the azer at the anvil. He wanted to cast a spell at the creature but knew it wouldn’t reach. He readied himself to cast a healing spell on Alexiah if she was injured again.
Max, near Alexiah, moved to her.
“Let’s break up the battlefield!” he said to her. “Will yourself to come with me!”
He manifested dimension door and the two of them vanished, appearing across the room near the anvil. Alexiah saw a huge scimitar on the massive forge and she rushed the azer there, striking him with her icy axe.
The blade golem moved toe to toe with Ahnold.
“C’mon!” Ahnold yelled.
The golem struck Ahnold twice, cutting huge gashes in the ogre. Blood spewed over the ground all around him as well as on Groth. The ogre flung his shield to the ground and took his club in both hands. Putting all his strength into the blows, he swung, only to slam the golem twice without affecting it at all. He moved to block the thing from Groth.
Turk moved across the room to behind Ahnold, the fire elemental striking the paladin as he went. He laid hands upon himself. Glorack, meanwhile, gored the fire elemental. The flame grew as if the thing were screaming, but it only sounded like a roaring fire.
Across the room, the azer tried to touch Alexiah. She struck it again with her axe and injured it badly. The thing muttered dark words and tried to touch her but she stepped aside. Then he reached out and grasped the blade.
The elementals attacked Glorack, the large one injuring the rhino. The smaller ones also injured the mount.
Fred cast magic missiles at the largest fire elemental.
Himo tumbled to the azer and tripped him with his kama. The azer went down and Himo struck him with his fist. The azer hadn’t let go of the blade, pulling it off the anvil. The noise of the slaves working suddenly stopped. Then Max manifested another cold ray, blasting the fallen azer, injuring it badly and covering it with frost.
Groth, across the room, moved behind Ahnold and cast cure critical wounds, somewhat healing the ogre.
“C’mon!” Ahnold cried out at the golem.
The blade golem struck Ahnold twice. The first attack badly injured the ogre. The second attack gutted him from crotch to throat. The ogre crashed to the floor, gushing blood. The thing moved forward over his body as the helmet slid off Ahnold’s head.
Across the room, Alexiah brought her axe down on the prone azer. He no longer moved. She dropped her axe and picked up the blade with both hands. She suddenly heard a roaring voice filling her brain. She didn’t understand the words, but didn’t think it was good. Himo and Max heard the azer’s death rattle.
Turk noticed the demeanor of the fire elementals had changed. They were sitting on the ground without moving. Turk went to Glorack, willing his mount to move towards him at the same time. He took out his wand of cure moderate wounds and healed the beast.
The elementals went around the dwarves and attacked the blade golem. Unfortunately, the heat healed the golem more than they could injure it. The blade golem recoiled from the blows but was also reinvigorated by the fire.
Closer than he wanted to be, Fred cast fly and flew up to the 40-feet ceiling, looking down at the battle below.
“We need to go!” the dwarf smiths called out.
“Group down to the south!” Himo yelled at the dwarves.
He grabbed the azer’s body and moved south towards the raging battle there. Groth fled the battle to the south and ran towards the anvil, taking out the aluminum tuning fork.
“Smiths!” he yelled. “Get in groups of eight and join hands! Everybody stay away from the golem!”
Max picked up Alexiah’s ice axe and held it out to her. She put the sword on her back and took the other shards of the sword on the anvil into a pouch.
“Max, can you get me back on the steps where we arrived?” she said.
“Oh yeah,” Max said.
Turk used another charge of his wand to heal Glorack. He mounted the beast.
“Wall of ice!” Groth yelled. “Stay clear of it!”
The battle continued between the elementals and the blade golem, but the elementals were losing.
Fred flew to the anvil.
“Ignore me!” Himo yelled. “Listen to the dwarf!”
He dropped the azer and ran into the battle between the elementals and the blade golem, tumbling past. He reached the helm and Ahnold. He used his kama to chop off one of Ahnold’s fingers.
Across the room, the dwarven smiths were getting into groups of eight, some of them real and some of them ghosts. Groth wasn’t sure he could send ghosts but noted they looked as if they were in turmoil. He quickly counted 46 dwarves. Twenty two were alive. He looked around and saw there were eight material dwarves standing holding hands.
“Accept this spell!” he said.
They nodded at him and he cast plane shift. They all closed their eyes. Nothing happened. None of them disappeared. The spell hadn’t worked for some reason.
“What!?!” Groth said.
Orrin Thundercleaver, the dwarf master smith from Greyhawk who was part of the circle, looked like he was going to cry. His heart looked like it was breaking.
“We were wished here,” he said. “I believe we aren’t able to leave or our turmoil won’t end until the blade is complete.”
“Can you complete it?” Max said.
“No, it’ll take us a little more time.”
“How much more time?”
“I believe we’re trapped here until the blade is completed. It’ll take at least six hours at my best guess.”
Alexiah noted she needed her bag of holding and Max used dimension door to get the bag. Himo had tumbled out of the battle with the helmet and Ahnold’s finger in his pouch.
The entire party got together in the utter silence of the room. Only the sounds of the fight between the blade golem and the elementals continued. It was not nearly as loud as the forge had been. Alexiah offered to hold the items Himo had in the bag of holding and he tossed Ahnold’s finger in. He put on the helm though.
“Do you want to throw up a couple of ice walls in case that golem gets through?” Max said. “To give us more time?”
Alexiah thought they should wait until they needed them.
“Can … can we leave?” Himo said.
“No,” Alexiah said.
“Fred, you can talk to the fire elementals,” Groth said. “See if you can get them to hit it without fire. If we can heal them with fire, hit them with fire.”
“I’ll ask them, but the fact that they’re pure fire, I don’t think that’s going to be possible,” Fred said.
He flew over to the elementals and asked them.
“These are our hands!” they said him.
He flew back.
“We can’t leave without leaving everyone else behind,” Groth said. “Fred, how many more charges on your wand of lightning do you have?”
“I’ve got like 20,” Fred said.
“I still have healing and I still have wands but … if we can slow it down …” Groth said.
“We can’t slow it that long,” Himo said.
“How about we have the fire elementals pull back, put the wall of ice on it, and then use earthquake on it?” Fred said.
“We’ll bring this place down on us potentially,” Groth said.
“The question becomes what’s more important: stopping this blade from being created for whoever’s creating it, or saving these dwarves,” Himo said.
“We can try to do both.”
“I’m not trying to be mean.”
“If we stay within 30 feet of each other at all times, and it goes awry, we can still get out of here, but we still need to try to take out that thing so these dwarves can finish the sword.”
“Can we trick it?” Max said.
“I don’t know that we want this sword to be completed,” Alexiah said.
“If it frees the dwarves,” Groth said. “They’ll stay here forever or they’ll die. I have two flasks of acid on me. Will that do anything, Fred? Do you know?”
“If it was possible for them to complete it, will that do the same effect?” Himo said. “If they can’t leave until it’s completed, if there’s no way for them to complete it?”
“Give me one of those flasks of acid,” Fred said.
He flew up and dropped it on the golem. It didn’t seem to do anything and he flew back. He noted if they had something the equivalent of a rust monster, that might work.
“So do you want me to put this thing back on the anvil so it can be completed?” Alexiah said.
“We could keep putting walls of ice up and put it at bay,” Groth said. “I don’t know if it would be enough to fix the sword. We might still have to go into combat with it. If Fred can keep it slowed with lightning, we might be able to switch in and out and I might be able to keep healing people.”
Fred didn’t think they could plane shift it away.
“I feel like we have to kill this thing is the only way to get out of here,” Groth said. “If we leave, they’re just going to reinforce this place even more.”
Alexiah went back to the anvil and drew the sword. She went to put it on the anvil.
“Keep the sword,” Groth said. “Keep the sword in case we have to leave. The only way they’re going to finish it is if that thing’s dead. I mean it’s quiet, do we think‒”
“Right!” Alexiah said.
“We will not survive,” Himo said.
“And why don’t I, if they need to finish it, get them working.”
“We don’t have six hours.”
“Let’s get them working right now!”
“They’re going to notice in six hours,” Groth said. “Himo’s right. Someone up above will notice.”
“I’m sorry,” Himo said. “We have to leave these dwarves for now. We have to go and leave these dwarves.”
Groth thought on it.
“Not unless somebody has a wish,” Max said.
“Did we get the shards from Ahnold?” Groth said.
“No,” Himo said.
“The shards, we did not,” Alexiah said.
“I have the helm …”
“He just had the aquamarine.”
“… and I have a piece of him. Alexiah has a piece of him.”
“In my bag of holding.”
“Can we lead the golem to the molten pool and push it in?” Max said.
“The dwarves have to make this decision,” Himo said. “Either we all live or we all die.”
They looked at Groth.
Alexiah put the sword on the anvil.
“Take the blade,” Thundercleaver said. “Take the pieces and get out of here.”
Alexiah took the sword and tucked it amongst her straps.
“Himo, can you grab the shard from Ahnold?” Groth said.
“Do we need the helm of teleportation?” Himo said.
“Yes,” Alexiah said.
“Yeah!” Turk said.
“I’m sorry, do we need it to escape?” Himo said.
“It’s been used up,” Groth said.
“It has one charge left. Oh. You want the shards off him?”
“Shard!” Alexiah said. “A single elemental aquamarine shard. We would like it if possible.”
“Unless Fred has a spell that will grab it like mage hand,” Groth said.
“Yes, I have mage hand,” Fred said.
He cast the spell, flew closer, and retrieved the elemental shard with it. He returned to the rest.
“All right, we have to cubehop out of here if we have everything,” Groth said. “We won’t forget you smiths.”
They all stood within 30 feet of each other and then Fred read from the scroll.
They appeared on the Battle Cube and could see the portal a quarter mile away or so. As they made for it, they spotted a group of three large creatures appear a quarter of a mile behind them. One of them spreads its wings.
“We have the smoky quartz right?” Groth said. “And you have fly, right Fred? Let’s go.”
They turned to clouds and flew while Glorack galloped to the gate. As they reached the portal, they saw the approaching figure might have been a pit fiend coming after them. They went through the opening and through the gate to Rigus. They rushed past the dead rust dragon and up the stairs. The pit fiend was gaining on them.
Groth used the wall of ice powers of his shard to close the tunnel and they kept running, going out the door on the other side.
They ran through the streets of Rigus, rushing out of the gates to the stone portal to Greyhawk. It was only when they arrived they realized they didn’t know how to get back through the portal.
“Do we just plane shift?” Himo cried out.
“Yeah!” Groth said.
He had them hold hands and he cast the spell hoping to take them to the City of Greyhawk.
The entire party appeared in a forest. They didn’t know they were 158 miles west of Greyhawk.