The leave her tied up on the table while they move to check a small room to the southwest. This turns out to be a small bedroom with a locked chest. Nidhwen begins to work at picking the lock. Eventually they discover a bag of coins, a light crossbow, a strange frosty blue potion bottle (Qari and Nidhwen identify this as an Ice Floe Elixir), and a common white hooded cloak. Nidhwen showed the others the items and some of them instantly recognized the cloak as being identical to the one that was worn by Meirul the forlarren bard that happened across their camp on their first night in Irrisen…
Qari expressed that she was running short of spells for the day, but that she could proceed onward if the others wanted. So, they continued counterclockwise around the tower. Toby and Six move up to open the door.
Several cabinets line the narrow walls of this oddly angular room. A chopping block, water barrel, and cauldron stand near the room’s only door. The tantalizing smells of fresh baked bread and meaty stew fill the air.
Immediately after the door is opened, a angry spriggan roars out in rage, “Get out of my Kitchen!” It seems to emit some form of scare spell that causes Toby to run away. In the next moment, it increases in size to fill the kitchen. Six keeps him from entering the room while Colt and Nidhwen give him support. Together, they drop the strange creature. A search of the room yields nothing much of interest of than a strange cookie in the shape of a white dragon. It radiates a faint aura of transmutation magic. Qari and Nidhwen determine that it is a spiteful cookie.
As that battle wasn’t to difficult, they continue on to the other locked room on the north side of the tower. They find that the key they took from Hestrig opens up this door.
A bed, desk, and storage chest furnish this small bedroom. A large mirror hangs on the wall opposite the room’s only door, and two windows look down on the tower’s courtyard.
Nidhwen moves to the chest and uses the key to open it. Inside, she found a small hoard that the dragon-blooded woman had secreted away. An elixir of truth, three potions of feather fall, a pair of silver bracers traced with figures of dragons, a jeweled scepter, an agate, three blue quartz crystals, and bags of gold, silver, and copper coins. She scooped up the items and made a quick search around the rest of the room for anything else of value, but she found nothing else.
Moving around to the last door on this level, Nidhwen noticed that it looked like this lock was different from the others. It appeared that this lock was keyed from both sides. It took her a couple of tries, but she eventually managed to open the door. She backed away so that Six and Toby could move in and open it, and when they did, they all got quite a surprise.
The scent of perfume fills the air of this small bedroom where several dresses styled for a Taldan noblewoman lie neatly arranged on the bed. A mirrored vanity and chair sit by the door next to a wooden chest, and a larger mirror hangs on the wall between two windows.
One figure stood against the far wall from the door. It was a figure that they had all seen before, but thought was safely returned to Heldren. It was Lady Argentea Malassene. As the adventurer’s stood there staring in shock at the woman before them, she spoke to them. “You don’t look like any of the guards that I’ve seen before, who are you?” Eventually, the heroes rediscover they powers of speech and warily confess with this woman, however, it seems that all their suspensions were wrong and that this was the real lady that was captured and one they discovered back in the cellar of the lodge was an imposter. She claims to be hungry, so, Toby moves to the kitchen and gets her a bowl of the stew. As they converse with her, she claims that she thought they brought her here for ransom at first, but now maybe they have bigger plans for Taldor. She claims to know nothing else about the White Witches plans.
Eventually, she finished and Toby offered to bring her down to Nadya for safe keeping. She is told the pass phrase and goes ahead of him. Toby tells his friends that he’ll be back in a few minutes.
Toby appears on the ground floor of the tower, but before he can look around for Lady Argentea, he feels an incredible pain in his back. He opens his mouth to scream out a warning, but the only sound that parts his lips is a strangled gasp as the blade’s tip penetrates his right lung. He falls unconscious to the floor below, doomed to slowly die…
Qari went to get several bowls of the stew for her companions. She could still barely believe that she was traveling with other people now. For years she had lived alone. She ladled the hearty stew into the stoneware bowls and thought about the only other person that was ever nice to her. The woman was an old, half-blind, hedge witch that lived about two hours walk south of Heldren. A slight tear came to the corner of her left eye at the memory that followed, but she quickly shoved it aside. She picked up the bowls and return to her friends.
Several minutes later, Toby came walling back into the library room where the others had taken to eating. He claimed to have taken the lady , “down to the others”. A couple of the others look at him strangely as, but the halfling tends to have a odd way about his mannerism, so, they ignored it. However, just before they picked up to move onward, Toby did something else that seemed too different from normal. Colt attacked the halfling with his blunderbuss. Everyone was still trying to figure out what had possessed the halfling ranger as he violently struck back at him “former” companions.
Six seemed to be conflicted with the whole encounter, but fought for his, and his allies, lives. Eventually the halfling tried to retreat down the hall. But Qari ran around to block him with her long spear outstretched. Nidhwen moved to join her while Six and Colt closed in on him from behind. Colt fumbled around in his bandoleer for his last normal bullet and shot it at Toby. The halfling turned toward the sound of the shoot and took it right in the chest. A glassy-eyed expression came upon his face as he seemed to fall to the floor in slow motion. Behind Six’s full face helmet was a pained look as the halfling died in front of him.
As the gravity of this event settled upon them, the inanimate form of Toby on the ground suddenly started to shimmer. His form started to elongate and his skin color seemed to drain away until he looked nothing like himself. The figure before them was a grayish humanoid creature that seemed almost unfinished, with a narrow head, gaunt limbs, and a sinister, noseless face. Qari and Nidhwen both realized that it was a doppelganger.
Six’s helmet creaked sharply as his head jerked up, and he had already knock aside three chairs to get to the icy teleport pad before anyone could say more. As he arrived at the bottom, he noticed a large spatter of blood at his feet. Crimson drag marks marred the otherwise clean floor leading to the southern privy. He quickly moved to open the door. In his haste to get inside, he almost knocked to door off it’s hinges.
There, in a pool of blood next to the chamber pot, laid Toby. He was deadly still and already looking unhealthily pale from the blood loss. Six quickly moved to his side to check on him. The little halfling seemed to be stable, but in desperate need of healing. Luckily, Nidhwen arrived to use their healing wand to revive him. Qari and Colt followed down with Hestrig (who had by now woken up) in tow.
As the others finally arrive in the steamy entrance hall, They see that Toby is being doctored up by Nidhwen and Vrixx with Six standing nearby. Nadya and Hatch are sent for to witness the using of the potion of truth on captain of the Pale Tower Hestrig. Hestrig admits to being taken in for training in the arcane at a very young age because of her draconic blood. She goes on to state that she recently discovered that the mother of the current lead of the Pale Tower killed a powerful white dragon, named Auburphex, to claim this land as hers to rule, and that this dragon is a direct ancestor to her blood. At this point, she is unsure of what she should do now…avenge her draconic parent or keep it a secret.
Under the effects of the potion of truth, the allies tend to believe the former guard captains words, however, they are split in their determination as to what to do with her. Nadya takes the opportunity to move in and slam the already weakened woman to the wall and demand to know about her daughter. Hestrig relays that the White Witch Nazhena Vasilliovna was angered by the girls insolence and turned her into a guardian doll.
With this admission, Nadya lost it. She gripped Hestrig tightly around her throat and lifted her off the ground. Hestrig didn’t even seem to be trying to fight her off. Colt, Qari, and Toby all seemed content to let the grieving mother exact some vengeance on the guard, but Six and Nidhwen seemed to take a higher moral ground and stepped in to stop the eventual execution. Nadya looked furiously between the two of them as Six gently stepped between the two women. He held his hands up for a moment before producing a scrap of papper and a charcoal pen. He hastily scribbled a small message to the enraged Ulfen woman.
In this short time I have
come to care for you and
I do not wish for your
son’s mother to kill another
But I swear we will punish
the real party responsible.
Nadya slowly read and re-read the note before she looked back up into the eyes of the man before her. In her memory, she flashed back to the the way it looked when he was playing with her little twin sons. Tears came to her eyes, and she cried on his shoulder for several minutes. She then shocked everyone when she shifted his helmet and mask silently and kissed him upon his horribly scarred cheek. Following that she left the hall and returned to the battlements.
It was a tense few minutes as quite a heated discussion about the eventual fate of the guard was decided. In the end, Toby and Six came to an agreement that Six would remain here after the others returned to the floor above to end her live. Slowly the others went up until only Six was left with Hestrig still crumpled on the floor where Nadya dropped her. Hestrig stood and watched as the fighter produced a knife. She looked at him for a moment before she raised her head and closed her eyes. However the killing slash didn’t come. Instead, he cut the rope that bound her hands and handed her a note.
Leave now, live your life in peace
But if you ever hurt innocent people again,
We’ll finish this.
The former captain of the guard looked completely confused by the message, but slowly backed away to the hall before turning and walking away.
As six returned upstairs, the others were getting settled in for the night. Nothing more was said about the fate of the captain. The divided up the watches among the ones that didn’t need to regain spells. Nothing happened that night.
In the morning, they used the small key they took from Hestrig to activate the teleporter to the Aerie. Like usual, Toby and Six lead the way.
A triangle of crossed steel wires runs between three wooden posts in this crescent-shaped room that smells strongly from the bird droppings scattered across the floor. Along the south wall, open windows look down from a dizzying height, admitting a brisk, cold wind. Two doors exit this chamber, one next to a large mirror to the west and another standing between a pair of wooden chests to the northeast.
Sitting on one of the chests is a rather beautiful sylph woman. As it turns out, this girl is Jairess Sonn. and she has been chained here to take care of the ravens. The chain grants her just enough length to travel into a small bedroom and take care of the ravens. Qari examines the chain and reveals that the magic on it is a type of binding that harms the wearer if attempting to remove it. While this is going on, Toby and Six search the two rooms.
Dozens of stacked crates fill this angular storeroom. Several miniature dollhouses stand atop high shelves.
These look just the right size for those accursed winter-touched sprite to use and Toby takes great pleasure in destroying them after the search. They find a jeweled +1 dagger (whose hilt resembles the head of a blue-eyes winter wolf), a jade bracelet of a Tian Sovereign dragon, a pair of porcelain dolls, a silver medallion decorated with sapphires, a gold signet ring, and three blue quartz crystals.
The other room is little more that a cells with a straw bed and heavy winter blankets.
They try several things to remove the chain from her leg, but it always end up hurting the barely of-age sylph. Eventually, they attempt to damage the icy wall that the chain is attached to. That seems to work and she is freed to leave the aerie. She shows the heroes a small key with an “R” on it. She states that a man named Radosek dropped it when he was up here the other day. The way she stuttered slightly, lead several of the party to believe they knew the reason for his “visit”
They took her down to Nadya and returned to the deactivated teleport pad. With everyone gripping tightly to Six, they all stepped onto the pad. As they were all cramped on the the small pad, when they arrived in the ritual chamber all but Qari and Nidhwen fell onto the floor.
A translucent image of a globe hangs suspended in midair slowly rotating in place, above a summoning circle in the blue-tiled floor of this large chamber. Lines of arcane energy glow across the globe’s surface, faintly humming with power as they connect multiple endpoints in a radiant glow bright enough to illuminate the domed ceiling overhead. Many tables and shelves covered in books, maps, and large scrolls line the room’s circular walls, and a large ornate mirror hangs between two open windows to the west. Twin ice sculptures of demonic fiends flank a bubbling cauldron in an archway leading into a deep alcove in the southern wall.
Ah, so you have finally made it up to the ritual chamber you fools. Well let’s see how you like the company! With that, he summoned six wolves from the cauldron. These wolves and a wicked looking goat all attacked the party. With several of the group still on the floor that wolves managed to tear into several of them. However, the allies managed to regain their footing and counter attacked. The goat was a far more deadly opponent though. The witch was casting his spell through the goat and it was laying into Toby. However, Six managed to drop several of the wolves and Colt backed him up with his blunderbuss. The white witch used a spell from an odd blue ice wand to drop a huge icicle on top of Six before he retreated to the doorway. Slowly, the party managed to kill off the wolves, but the witch and his familiar managed to escape into the room beyond.
Six rushed after him, but when he opened the door the room was empty…