The party finally stumbled upon the scroll that defined the goal of this part of the adventure - that was the Ceremony of the Tower Master. Effectively, one mage in the party gets the opportunity to own a Mage's Tower. Admittedly, there is nothing real in it, but it is a point of prestige, potential power, influence, and research. Within the tower there is a wealth of information in the library that would take decades to plumb correctly. There is an observatory that allows a low ability to scry/scan on various locations. There is one remaining iron golem/protector armor whose sole job is to obey very simple commands of the Tower Master as long as it doesn't have him/it leave the Tower itself.
There are a few other things that are bennies and Easter eggs hidden within, but the Tower itself is the lynchpin for the eventual improvement of Shakun and the environs.
Write up follows:
We decided that we were all going to stay in the meeting room with the pictures for the night, but it was going to be tight fitting – which meant that some of us were going to have to get rough sleep at best. Erd and Marcus volunteered to swap off, the elves needing half as much rest as the rest of the group, each one volunteering to keep the space clear so the other can get their rest. As for the last space, Fermius was willing to be uncomfortable in order to show his good faith. We untied Horace but left the manacles on (just in case!) and then one by one, we fell into a deep and troubling sleep.
With the two pictures in place (keep and cotton field), we had a nice quiet night, but during Tranis’ watch, he did comment on seeing one of the Leechlings (Quasi?) stick it’s head around the corner just to make sure that we were here. We broke our fast and gathered up our belongings as need be after praying and studying was finished. We asked Viridia to come with us and Fermius to wait here, watching Horace (who we now removed the manacles off of). There was some back and forth on it, but the two of them agreed to it, as long as we returned around lunch time, shared food, and talked about what we had learned.
We reloaded Avidius’ oil lamp with a fresh flask and Flimflam asked Demeter to bless Whosea’s bite with a magic fang. So it was a bit after 8 that we left the meeting room and noticed for the first time the scent of carrion in the air (apparently the cotton picture also blocked odors). Around the corner, the bodies of the 3 hellhounds had been savaged, their guts torn out and from the bloody fat goblinoid footprints, taken upstairs. We took our time, watching the prints and making sure of ourselves. At the landing for the 3rd floor we peered into the kitchen and saw the line of prints go to the table, some plates were laid out, and the Quasi-Leech had apparently sat here and eaten the guts with…relish.
The footprints then led into the kitchen and we followed them there – seeing the body was still where it had fallen/been killed/skinned – but the dirty dishes were now in the sink and more footprints led out of the kitchen. The quality of the prints leaving the kitchen and the dining room were lesser as time wore on and the amount of blood on the Quasi-Leech’s feet wore away.
We followed them now to the 4th floor where they turned to the small hall and went with very faint tracks to the center (main bedroom) door. Ok, we didn’t want a surprise so we had Avidius check out the other two doors first. The bedroom on the left was no longer burning but it reeked of char and no one was in there. The one on the right was closed and seemed to be a smaller bedroom similar to the original – but no one was in this one either. That left the main bedroom.
Steiner called to Apollo and felt that there was a flickering sensation of evil in the main bedroom, but nothing current. So with weapon ready we opened the door and looked .The main sheet had been stripped from the bed and was covered in bloody footprints and smears – testament that the Quasi-Leech had come in here at least and cleaned his feet – no more prints to follow.
The room looked like it did before. Four poster bed in center, two candelabra on each side, small night stand, three shelves behind the headboard. One of the shelves had what seemed to be a 12” doll lying on it, but it seemed creepy so we avoided it for now. On the right hand side was a small foot locker, chest of drawers, and a large 7’ tall armoire. On the left hand side of the room was a round table with books and scrolls on it, two wing backed chairs there as well, and more books and scrolls on the floor. A detect magic was cast and we panned the room – there was a bit of magic from under the bed, the doll was magic, and the armoire was as well.
Ok – we divided up and each took some section of the room to explore. Viridia stayed with Avidius and they began with the footlocker, Marcus took the books and scrolls, Geld and Flimflam the bed area. Tranis was just inside the room watching everyone, and Steiner and Erd took the hall with the animals – making sure to keep a weather eye on the suit of armor at the landing going up to the 5th floor.
The foot locker had some sheets and bed linens, and a couple pairs of sandals – no hidden sections or parts. The chest of drawers had a variety of clothes from bottom to top. The bed was in good shape (minus the bloodied sheets) but under it was a glyph of chalk and paint, and the best we could tell was it had something to do with the Earth element.
The table had a mix of everything, lots to read but Marcus was just thumbing through them when his eye was drawn to a single scroll with a seal. Something made him pick it up. He turned it about, tried to read the words on the inside and finally, broke the seal. He felt…right. The scroll was fairly long and was entitled, “Ceremony of the Tower Master”. He began to read, eventually letting the party know what he found.
It read that the tower COULD be claimed by another mage, assuming the original one was dead. And we knew Cornelius was dead. In fact, the doll appeared to be that of a skinned man. There was a skinned man in the kitchen. The scroll spoke of a homunculus that appears like the Tower Mage that was to be here. It seems – that there was much to do if we wanted to take over the tower (ie: Marcus only) and it involved us taking out the Leechlings – which was already on our plate to begin with.
From here, we devoted our attention to the armoire. We were half convinced it was something to clean the clothes – and the clothes within were laundered and smelled good. So we tried dozens of different permutations, including Marcus putting on Cornelius’ clothes from the chest of drawers and commanding the armoire to work. Nothing happened.
So instead we went into the hall and decided to try the suit of armor/golem and get past. Erd volunteered – 7 steps up and then the landing. At step 6 it looked down at him. At step 7 it punched him in the face and went to follow but Erd rolled down the steps and got out of the way. Head ringing, but ok.
Ok – we did NOT want to fuck with that thing – so we went back to the armoire and decided to check it out from the inside. Once inside, with the door shut – a light came from the ceiling and there was ANOTHER set of doors from the back of the unit! Cracking the door showed it was a library – and some other room.
And the Quasi-Leech was all the way on the other side, sitting on the stairs, dangling one leg, and tossing what seemed to be rocks down the steps.
It was time for a plan.
We came up with a plan (eventually) where we would cycle three people in every minute – starting with Avidius, Tranis, and Viridia, and then the three main fighters, and finally the last three group members. Each group through MUST have a door closer – because the armoire does not open if the door is open elsewhere. A bless spell and a couple of protection from evil’s were put into place and then we snuck in.
The three sneaky party members made it in without a problem, Avidius taking “point” and making his way most of the way across the room, hiding behind book shelves along the way. Then it was Erd, Kilven, and Geld’s turn, and the two fighters snarled and charged the Quasi-Leech who seemed surprised as hell on seeing us. The two fighters got within striking distance, slipped on the oily greasy ground, hit the back wall, and fell down the stairs in a clattering pile of fighters and armor.
The Leech shimmered and faded away – and then the real Quasi-Leech came down the steps, ankle smoking and laughing at his illusion. Fuck and shit. Tranis shot him with a magical arrow and the rest of the party was getting ready to charge in and through. The Quasi-Leech was not bothered by our attackers and in no time, burst into flames.
As for Erd and Kilven, they had rolled down the steps and ended up…at the feet of the golem. Who proceeded to beat the crap out of Erd, pick him up, and breath some sleeping gas in his face before tossing him down the steps. Luckily, his elven constitution prevented him from passing out, but he did roll to a stop back on the 4th floor cursing and struggling to his feet. Kilven did the same, dodging the iron armor just ahead of its stomping feet.
Meanwhile against the Quasi-Leech, without the two main fighters, we weren’t looking forward to our battle and found ourselves on the defensive. Also, the fire from the Quasi-Leech was being repressed by the emanations from the Library, which was lucky for us or we’d have all gone up in flames. Tranis was asked by Flimflam to go back through the armoire and bring Whosea up to the fight. The ranger dodged back and went through.
About the same time that Erd and Kilven stumbled into the room from the main door. We shared a fast bit of news and then the two fighters were running for the armoire. Meanwhile upstairs, the party was lucky enough to blast the Quasi-Leech with a lucky blow – doing enough damage to have him discorporate and then float up through the ceiling cracks and escape again.