Perilous Gateways

Portals Under the Black Gauntlet

By Robert Wiese

The Mage Tower Portal

A wizard and his apprentice summoned a marilith demon on the night of the Banite coup in Mintar. As chaos took control of the city and many of its residents sought the cause of the upheaval, at least one mob blamed wielders of magic and wizards in particular. The mob stormed the small mansion-and-tower home of Kosmal Ontos. The wizard left the imprisoned tanar'ri (using a greater planar binding spell) with his young apprentice, Enthos Raziir (N human male Wiz4 at the time) in the secret summoning chamber so that he could quiet and disperse the mob. Instead, the mob attacked, restrained, and soon burned the old wizard at the stake.

Raziir went after his master when the wizard did not return; he found the wizard's smoldering remains in the street. Panicking, he fled back into the tower, gathered all he could carry, and fled to Saelmur. Once there, he began to fret over the still-imprisoned demon. He knew the marilith would eventually free itself, and so, when rumors of a demon rampaging through the streets of Mintar reached his ears, Raziir fled again, to parts unknown, for fear that the demon would seek him out for its imprisonment.

The marilith, which calls itself Malatorna, vented its rage on any person, building, or item in Mintar it could lay its six hands on. Of course, it soon encountered Banite patrols and slaughtered several of them in short order. Once its fury was spent, Malatorna sought a means to return to the Abyss, but it was now constantly harassed by greater and greater numbers of increasingly powerful Banite forces. The marilith eventually found its way back to the mansion and tower where it had been imprisoned. It returned to the hidden summoning chamber to think. The Banites were clearly not inclined to let Malatorna run loose in the city, but neither did they seem able to destroy her -- at least not quickly. After some consideration, she reached a decision.

Deciding to make the best of a bad situation, Malatorna entered into a truce with the Banites: She would cease her attacks in the city while the Banites left her alone to pursue her own goals, specifically establishing a realm of her own in the Border Kingdoms to the south of the Lake of Steam. Further, Malatorna claimed the ransacked mansion and tower as home in the city.

That last was at least true. The rest of the details of this arrangement are false. The demon and the Banites did call a truce, but Malatorna has no interest in the Border Kingdoms. While she retired to the dead mage's mansion, she was visited by a mercenary mage, named Victoriana Arianus, who was in the employ of Darkhope and the Knights of the Black Gauntlet. She had been sent there to negotiate a truce with the marilith, and that she did. She also struck a deal with the demon to kill Darkhope and as many of the Knights as possible. Since Banites comprise only a fraction of the forces in the city, with the rest being mercenaries, Arianus proposed that, with the Banites removed, Malatorna could rule the city and that she would convince the mercenaries to throw their loyalty to the new ruler of the city. Arianus would also become the new leader of all the mercenaries in the city and also serve as the demon's military commander.

Arianus has more plans that she hasn't shared with Malatorna. Once the marilith has removed Darkhope and the Banites, and after she has established the marilith and herself in their new roles, Arianus hopes to use a dismissal spell to send the demon back to the Abyss. Then, Arianus plans to step into the vacant role as ruler and set up a secular government with her mercenaries as the army and police. Arianus wants Darkhope dead since their relationship ended after she caught him with a young female cleric of Bane. Arianus arranged to have the woman killed a few days later. The plot is now in motion, but Malatorna and Arianus have not yet agreed on the precise moment at which to strike.

What neither of them knows is that a portal exists in the mansion's secret summoning chamber. Fireblade and a few other members of Mintar's resistance movement know of the portal's existence and location. Fireblade hopes to one day launch a raid on the mansion and its two residents, but he knows that few members of the resistance will stand up to either the mage or the demon, much less both, which is a possibility. So, he bides his time while Malatorna and Arianus move closer to acting.

Malatorna: hp 216; see Marilith.

Victoriana Arianus: Female human Wizard 11; CR 11; Medium humanoid; HD 11d4+11; hp 38; Init +7; Spd 30 ft.; AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +5; Grp +5; Atk +5 melee (1d4/19-20, dagger); Full Atk +5 melee (1d4/19-20, dagger); AL LE; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +10; Str 11, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 19, Wis 14, Cha 15.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +15, Decipher Script +18, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Listen +8, Search +10, Spellcraft +20, Spot +8; Combat Casting, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Scribe Scroll, Silent Spell, Spell Penetration, Spellcasting Prodigy, Still Spell.

Typical Wizard Spells Prepared (4/6/5/5/4/3/1; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic (2), light, read magic; 1st -- mage armor, magic missile, protection from chaos, protection from good, shield, sleep; 2nd -- detect thoughts, knock, protection from arrows, scorching ray, touch of idiocy; 3rd -- dispel magic, fireball, lightning bolt, protection from energy, stinking cloud; 4th -- arcane eye, crushing despair (2), stoneskin; 5th -- cloudkill, cone of cold, dismissal; 6th -- disintegrate.

Spellbook: 0 -- acid splash, arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance, read magic, touch of fatigue; 1st -- alarm, burning hands, cause fear, feather fall, hold portal, mage armor, magic missile, protection from chaos, protection from good, shield, sleep; 2nd -- arcane lock, detect thoughts, invisibility, knock, protection from arrows, pyrotechnics, scorching ray, touch of idiocy; 3rd -- dispel magic, fireball, hold person, lightning bolt, protection from energy, stinking cloud, suggestion; 4th -- arcane eye, crushing despair, dimensional anchor, polymorph, stoneskin; 5th -- cloudkill, cone of cold, dismissal, feeblemind, passwall, symbol of sleep; 6th -- acid fog, disintegrate, flesh to stone, mislead.

Possessions: Dagger, ring of protection +1, scroll of invisibility, scroll of see invisibility, wand of Melf's acid arrow, wand of web, bracers of armor +2, cloak of resistance +1, necklace of fireballs (type III), 350 gp.

How to Incorporate the Mage Tower Portal Into Your Campaign:

Shadow Path