Understanding that the attack on the rangers will set events in motion in the morning, Lando and Briggs strategize next steps. Once the Iron Tower is notified, it will be more difficult to access. With that in mind, it would be beneficial to explore the tower tonight. Before that occurs, however, Lando and Maydrane would like to chat with Basril, the fiancé of Vin, to enlist her assistance. Briggs will dispose of the bodies of Darius and his rangers, and then meet with the blacksmith in hopes of aligning him with the cause. as well. Although the Wall Lieutenant is optimistic of the allies presently in the fold, he advises that the underground resistance will still be needed to help evacuate the city. Lando and Maydrane agree to continue their pursuit of leads.
The kennels are located in the Charity District, not far from the Iron Tower itself. Entering the stone building, the Head of the Kennels, Basril, can been seen sitting by a central fire pit attending to a large pot. The city’s renowned dogs, bred for their size and intelligence and trained for hundreds of years to hunt orcs, rise in their pens at the sight of Maydrane.
Several of the kennel’s keepers turn at the entrance, and Lando takes note of one in particular, the changeling from the Shadow Swift. Her cover blown, Lando saunters over to say hello. She provides an update on her journey:
- she thanks Lando again for his assistance on the ship and apologizes for leaving so swiftly, she was compelled to fulfill her destiny, which has brought her to Everstand
- meeting her mother, Palomina, proved a gift and a curse but provided her a release from her innate maternal yearning
- feeling an obligation to better understand her mother, she leafed through her personal diary, which resulted in her being thrown into the dungeon
- her mother’s meticulous notes relate how Palomina sought out the shard – she travelled from a neighbouring kingdom, Cheliax, home of the Hellknights, when she learned of its existence
- her studies provide a history of the shards, remnant pieces of the shattered onyx tentacle, the physical manifestation of the Unspeakable One on this world – many generations ago, the tribes of mankind summoned the Unspeakable One and attempted to trap his essence within the onyx tentacle so they could take advantage of his power for their own design
- the Unspeakable One is ancient, older than humankind – his objective is to seek out and destroy species with conscious thought in an effort to return things to the way they were before time was recorded
- interestingly, Palomina’s records confirm that the tentacle was shattered in the future, the pieces scattered across both time and geography
- after enduring weeks of torture, the changeling managed to escape her captivity and lived in the crypts for a period. She learned that the Pathfinder couple brought on to study the illness that afflicted Gauntwood’s mothers kept secret records that outlined what they had learned, including the location of all the shards. They hid the tome under the stacks within the archives before they vacated the city
Excited to hear news of the Pathfinder couple, Lando decides it an opportune time to spill the companions side of the story. Cutting to the chase, Lando presents Hercluf’s dagger as evidence of their dedication to the cause. The changeling is surprised, the Warden obviously sits in her good books. Interests aligned, the changeling advises that the underground resistance can be counted on to lead the evacuation of the residents from the city. While in the dungeon, the changeling learned of the four noble truths, the original ethos of Everstnad – when the four relics are combined, they create a beacon in the sky. The resistance will activate when the signal is lit. The companions must find a way to position the relics appropriately, and will likely have to take out Palomina to do so. The changeling wishes Lando good luck, she has much work to do to activate the necessary sleeper cells in the meantime. Before she leaves, she provides Lando with the key to the Charity District crypts.
Below ground, the companions are surrounded after the prisoners exit their cells at the behest of Samdolf. The group is allowed one last chance to lay down their weapons, which they quickly refuse. The escaped prisoners – which include a larger fellow in a Lastwall uniform, a gnome in robes similar to Brother Tef, and spell casting brothers of the arcane and divine variety – launch a disorganized attack. The offensive is met with a coordinated defense and the prisoners are quickly routed.
Samdolf appears unimpressed, “Well that was disappointing. Given you made quick work of my friends, why don’t I just let you leave peacefully?” Before the companions are able to chat with Samdolf further, dozens of prisoners from the general populace stream into the confined area. Anton appeals to the prisoners to embrace freedom and join with the group to fight for liberty. The speech unites the riled up prisoners including a deadly looking hunter and his tiger companion. The hunter, introduced as Poots, works with the group to put together a plan to guide the escapees out of the prison with minimal bloodshed. Unfortunately, the ruckus provided cover for Samdolf to vanish into the crowd, the wily wizard is nowhere to be seen.
With the guards turning a blind eye, the companions and resident prisoners escape the prison into the crypts. Directions are provided to the escapees to exit near the river in hopes of joining with evacuees in the not too distant future. Understanding that Lando and Maydrane will be making their way to the Iron Tower soon, the group ties up several loose ends. Specifically, the two hope stones from the prison that correspond with the Vigilance District are removed, one of which is reinstalled underneath the Temple of Imodae. Lastly, the key to the Charity District is obtained from Lando and Maydrane. Ready to join the assault, the group travels back to the nexus.
Before heading to the Iron Tower, Lando and Maydrane check in with Ken, who had been given instructions on where to find the Pathfinder couple’s journal. He has had time to leaf through the book and is excited to pass along some notes related to the missive:
- the artefacts have been corrupted by the Iron Tower, the effects influencing the citizens of Everstand to help support Gauntwood’s totalitarian regime
- the couple had recommended that the nodes, artefacts, and hubs in the Iron Tower be reversed to rectify the situation, or if not possible, destroyed
- to preserve the knowledge gained from their time in Everstand, the couple allied with an ancient dwarf who helped them to escape through a portal that sent them into the future
- Palomina in concert with the Hell Knights had tampered with the portal which sent the Pathfinder due to Hell; the couple was aware and able to plan for their travels
- the book details the location of the shards, including the two remaining shards – one was acquired by the Hellknight Boneclaw Deverie, lord of Citadel Vraid, from Baba Yaga; the other is in the possession of Mephistopheles in the sixth layer of hell known as Caina
Lando and Maydrane thank Ken for the information, and with the fourth relic in tow, travel to the Iron Tower. Entrance to the structure is gained through magical means, and the two move stealthily to a corner to observe activity. The primary hall, which serves as the formal throne room, is dark and devoid of people. Three arefacts can be seen tucked into individual alcoves, the fourth of which remains empty.
From a distance, Invigilator Cheltey, in Hellknight armor, rises from an unseen egress in the floor to levitate to a mezzanine level that overlooks the hall. He strides over to strike a circular gong, causing several stairways to descend, allowing access to the upper levels of the tower. Four gaunt-faced figures wearing purple flame circlets around their head stand to attention in the respective alcoves and walk in unison to the staircase to ascend to an upper floor. A separate set of similar looking guards walk robotically down the staircase before splitting off to guard individual alcoves. Satisfied with the rotation, the staircases are pulled up again and Cheltey descends by magical means to the basement of the tower.
Under the guise of invisibility, Maydrane had followed the exiting guards up the stairs to the mezzanine level. A wave from Lando signals Maydrane into action as she strikes the gong. With the guards ascending the stairs for rotation, Lando fits the fourth relic into the appropriate alcove. Maydrane circles the room, activating the other relics in turn as Lando completes the installation. The fourth relic ready, Lando initiates it – a translucent beam of power fires from each relic, forming a small globe of sizzling energy in the center of the room. Attaining sufficient size, a larger beam shoots from the epicentre of the ball through a small hole in the ceiling to the sky above – the signal to the Underground Resistance to commence efforts to evacuate the citizens of Everstand. The signal activated, Maydrane helps Lando uninstall the fourth relic for future use. As the new guards come into view on the stairs above, Lando provides a magical exit from the room via dimension door before they are spotted.
While this occurs, the companions below ground bust through the door to the Charity district, thereby entering the basement of the Iron Tower. The group finds themselves in a giant room, a mirror image of the throne room above complete with copies of the four relics. However, a necromantic aura permeates the area, providing a corrupting touch that has altered the relics. Of similar size and configuration, an oozing organic substance appears to drip from the relics when glanced at, although the companions are unable to hold their gaze on the objects as they give off a sickly feeling.
A desk is centered in the middle of the room where sits a surprised Palomina, Cheltey at her side. Startled from her writing, she stands quickly, knocking over her chair. Four orbs emanate from her hands, the purple globes moving toward the corrupted relics. The companions organize an offensive as Lando and Maydrane suddenly appear behind the desk.
The Mistress of Blades senses an opportunity and immediately charges toward Palomina, catching her unawares. Maydrane spears her unsuspecting foe through with her halberd, scoring a ferocious hit. The body of Palomina slumps, falling through the weapon to congeal on the floor before transforming into necromantic energy that sweeps upward through the ceiling. No evidence of her body remains on the coruscated floor. The companions, as well as Invigilator Cheltey, look at Maydrane in awe.