After dropping off our trusty guide with his clansmen, and thanking our hosts for their aid, we left the swamplands behind heading for Castle Maure, where we split up about various tasks.
Herek begins by rewarding himself with a large dose of fizzy water and the birds and bees, which occupies him for quite a few days…
Alisair investigates the properties of the gem of seeing, and is struck with a vision of being watched back through the gem by some powerful scrying enchantment. Concerned about reprisal from Beltan’s followers, He sets about performing an expensive anti-scrying ritual so that we can continue to use it safely. Once that is accomplished, Teng sets about investigating the castle guard, whom he has always distrusted. Obvious concerns about security lead him to enlist Captain Tunil in scrutinizing all aspects of the Castle’s defenses- both in personell and structure.
For reasons known only to Teng, he decides the library is a suspicious point of potential perimeter penetration. He and the captain begin snooping around until they discover a strange wall in the lowest level of the library that appears to have a room behind it as seen through the gem of seeing. Try as they may, they are unable to figure out how to open this secret passage with no apparent latch, handle, or trigger in the area. They are interrupted by the library’s caretaker, a pleasant older woman that was not willing to give them any information on any suspicious or secret areas in the castle, and kindly escorted them from the premises.
Teng returned to join the rest of the party and explained the findings, while Captain Tunil passed along report to Sir Veeton. After piquing the curiosity of Alisair and Mialee, Teng is beckoned away by the Captain for a private meeting which Kalik persuades himself into. Mialee and Alistair decide this mystery should be investigated, but wanted to make sure their original goal of using the gem to find the hidden Collinae fortress. When Teng and company returned from the meeting with the castle’s lord to inform them that area was off limits, no questions asked, then their curiosity rose even higher. Was this some sort of evil influence that was affecting Sir Veeton’s judgement? If it is not a danger to us, then why not explain its presence to his trusted allies?
Later that night, Mialee transmogrified into ferret-form to sneak out to investigate the library mystery. Simultaneously, Alistair was trying the same thing with the gem in hand, though much much much less stealthily. As Mialee returned feeling sheepish for not bringing the gem, she heard Alistair clumsily banging around the back entrance through the kitchen. Knowling that he would get caught, she quickly whispered to him from the shadows to give her the gem and go back to being not stealthy upstairs in his room. Realizing he was soon to be caught sneaking out, the inquisitive wizard obliged and then distracted a vigilant Teng Shaw with some unconvincing nonsense about looking for the bathroom.
Mialee sneaked past the keep’s guards and through the winding halls until she found the library, which was unfortunately locked up tight. Taking advantage of her mini-mammalian form, she looked around the surrounding halls untill she found a ventillation grate that allowed her to get into the library without a lockpick. Once inside, she looked around for anything suspicious, using the gem to finally find the false wall. Like her friends, she was unable to find any mechanism to open into the room beyond. Then, calling on her magical attunement she was able to see past the enchantment and discover tht it was in fact not a wall at all, but an illusion.
Beyond the illusion Mialee entered a stone hall of older construction, lit with braziers on each wall. An ominous feeling told her she should check for any traps or guards, for why else would this be currently a lit passageway? After not finding any trap, she crept forward to a heavy locked door. When she tried the handle, the room exploded with fire, searing her flesh and knocking her to the floor. Feeble as a kitten and slipping toward death, her spirits fell as a menacing armored guardian strode in to finish her crumpled body off. Pulling herself to her painfully scabbed knees, she pled with the figure for mercy and promised to leave immediately. The figure standing over her lowered its weapon, sparing her its edge. She crawled backward out of the room and once clear, scurried back out the grate through which she entered. As she sneaked back into her room, she tried to heal her own wounds using some old potions from previous adventures, but without any success. Even using some herbal balms she was taught by her outdoorsman father was little help to the severe loss of skin and tissue. Reluctantly, Mialee swallowed her pride and went next door to confess her outing to Kalik and beg his aid. After swearing not to speak of anything she saw, the humble druid was brought back from severe deformity through the grace of Pelor’s light.
The next day, we set out for mine 312, where we sanctify the mine to reassure the workers that the strange noises they hear coming from far beyond the gate are nothing to fear. Other maintenance issues are attended to, including blessing crops and to try to foster some local business at the village around the mine and the farmland around our recently acquired tower. We journied from there to meet again with the Goldforge Dwarves, with Captain Tunil in tow, as an emissary of Sir Veeton, and by proxy the world of humans. As our reluctant miniature allies welcomed us in to parlay with the king, we offered gifts of fresh crops, grains, and brewing recipes, in the hopes of beginning a regular trade route. The idea of possibly hiring on a dwarven mining consultant was initially met with resistance, but may yet eventually be realized. Alistair spent his time during the reunioon talking scrolls and runes with the enchantress Dalma. Unfortunately, she did not yet know how to recharge his stone altering rod.
Back at Castle Maure, we assemble a small force of soldiers from the guard to help us, including some footmen and a ranger or two. Using some directions given by the dwarves, we set out into the mountains south of Skywatch to find traces of the fortress. Mialee and one of our ranger henchmen identified some recent horse traffic, and we decied we must be close enough to warrant scouting ahead. Craw did not see anything on a pass over the area, so again Teng and Mialee (apparently not learning from previous small group scouting experience) decide to sneak ahead with a ranger to look through the gem for signs of the fortress.
With Mialee a stone’s throw in front as a ferret, Teng halted us abruptly with a stifled cry. The limited range of the gem’s power of sight meant that as soon as he saw the spectral skeletal soldiers, Mialee was already in their midst. As Mialee retreated, the skeletal army materialized beofre our eyes, and attacked. The brave ranger shot with great accuracy, but was largely ineffective. Teng got into melee range to protect our retreat untill Mialee tried to slow them down with a wall of thorns. To her horror, they phase-stepped beyond it as if it were no obstacle at all and struck down their ranger. The monk and druid did not need to say anything to one another to know it was time to get out of there and back to the group.
The next day, we returned in force, and came from a route many feet up the mountain wall from the previous path. As we were 70 feet up, we saw nothing special from this angle so we lowered down a rope to send someone with the gem to see what the guard situation was. Of course curious Mialee volunteered, and discovered that in fact her landing spot overlooking was INSIDE the castle. She quickly had the party haul her up just moments before guards grasped for the rope behind her.