When they arrived at Winterhaven about mid-afternoon, they noticed that the town was much more active and crowded since the last time they had been there. Apparently Lord Padraig and the town council had been busy recruiting soldiers for the impending assault on the Abbey's unwelcome denizens. They made their way to Padraig's estate to report what they had found and done at Gardmore Abbey since the last time they were in town. He was very happy to see the party and listened intently to their account of events. When told about their successes with finding items for the other people who had met with them a while back, he immediately sent someone to spread the news. When everyone was gathered, the party started distributing the items they found.
Kharas received a number of ancient minotaur relics with which he was more than pleased with and rewarded the heroes with a nice sum of gold. He was also shocked to hear that there were still some minotaurs living down there, but not surprised that they were more feral specimens of that race. Grundelmar was also extremely pleased to receive the head of Vadin Cartwright, secure in the knowledge that he would no longer plaque the countryside with his special brand of insanity. Alira Vond left the gathering very quickly once she paid the party for finding her two heirlooms. This was a bit strange since everyone else stayed around and wanted to act like they were all long lost friends. They also met with Sergeant Murgeddin and presented him with the sword Moonbane. He also was almost astonished to see that they had actually retrieved the sword. But before turning it over to him, they asked if they could keep the sword to use until they were finished with cleansing Gardmore Abbey since it was such a useful sword, especially against undead creatures. Murgeddin agreed but stressed that he does want it back at the end of the Gardmore campaign. The party also sold a lot of mundane arms and armor along with several magic items to Lord Padraig and when all was said and done, they each walked away with more than 8,500 gold pieces. Blackwell had also brought the heads of the evil adventurers they had battled alongside the dragon and asked if there were any known bounties on them. Unfortunately, no one recognized, nor heard of then and no bounties were to be had. The knowledge that there were five fewer evil people in the world because of them would have to be reward enough. Well, that and all their gear they acquired, that is.
In addition, they had spoken with Valthruun to see if he had a headband of alluring charisma he would be willing to trade for the headband of vast intellect they had acquired from the band of evil adventurers. He didn't have one but was willing make one and do an even trade for it, though it would ahve to wait until "all this Gardmore Abbey business" was finished for his time was being completely taken and then some by preparing for the coming assault. The party agreed, and decided to go pitch Blackwell's tent outside the town for the night.
Once their camp was made, amidst all the other camps of mercenaries and soldiers from neighboring towns (even some from Neverwinter), Jobi decided to put on her dancing outfit (yep real clothes) and proceeded to dance, entertaining all who walked by. She received many whistles, catcalls, shouts of appreciation, and some coins as well. Zerak was just mesmerized and just sat and intently watched her the whole time, almost drooling at some points. Zola stood as a bodyguard to Jobi, just in case someone got a little overzealous and decided he or she wanted a bit more than just dancing. During her dancing she convinced Asphodel to join her in dancing (in her halfling form of course). She immediately took to dancing very well, prompting Jobi to declare that Asphodel was a true natural at the craft and the two of them danced together, sometimes quite sensually and definitely rialing up the crowd that had gathered. After watching the two beauties bump and grind for a while, most patrons ended up searching out the local brothel to get some relief from certain... pressures.
The next morning, our heroes broke camp and headed back to Gardmore Abbey. Again, the trip was uneventful and when they arrived at the site, Blackwell started to scout out the far side of the walled town, looking for a good place to infiltrate without being spotted by any of the current inhabitants. this turned out to be rather easy since there was a breach in the wall right near where the wizard's tower stood and none of the orcs came anywhere close to the tower and the surrounding buildings. They slowly crept into the town through the wall near a building that stuck out of the wall, but didn't have any doors on the outside of the wall. Blackwell slowly walked up to the door of that building, not wanting to leave anything at their backs that could come and surprise them later. The partially ruined building appeared to be avoided by all the denizens here and it felt like it was shrouded in a heavy gloom, and not even the ravens dared draw near. As Blackwell approached, it felt as if even the air was getting heavier the closer he got to the doors. Two massive wooden portals engraved with twin reliefs of rampant dragons stood intact and closed. Each dragon bore two swords, one held aloft and one pointed downward. Above the door, an inscription read "Ever vigilant the dragon." When he got about ten feet away from the doors, a vague black silhouette of an armored figure materialized outside the doors, accompanied by an otherworldly cold. "Only the bearer of the lonely sword passes this way unharmed," it says. "Vandomar must open the seal." So naturally, Blackwell ceased advancing and looked to the others to see what they might do next. No one had heard of anyone named Vandomar and weren't sure what the lonely sword was. Kel tried to advance showing Moonbeam in a non-hostile way, but it was obviously not the correct sword for when she got within ten feet, the wraith began drawing its weapon. Kel stopped and backed away and the wraith put its weapon away and just stood guard at the doors. As the party backed away, the wraith disappeared, so they turned their attention the the square, multi-story building they believed was the wizard's tower. Here again the orcs stayed well away, although they determined that if they ventured away from the building that they most likely would be spotted.
When the party turned their full attention to the tower, they saw the following:
Asphodel flew up to look through the door and saw the bodies of nearly a dozen orcs, all dead, but strangely they didn’t smell. A cursory sweep of detect magic revealed a collision of various schools of magic and one larger one in a cabinet at the back of the room. A fallen table with a sheet over what looked like a body dominated the center of the room. Zola used her mage hand spell to pull the sheet off the figure and revealed a flesh golem which sprang to life immediately. Also at moment, the two gargoyles decided to spring into action and attacked Zola from either side. Realizing that golems are not evil, have resistances to most forms of magic, Zola foregoes using her magic and new holy Morningstar and settled for closing in with her magical greatsword. Asphodel and Kel tore into the gargoyles with Jobi using her scorching ray and Zerak backing her up. Blackwell was caught between the two creatures at the door, but his rogue skills saved him from becoming flanked as he did battle with one of the gargoyles. The two gargoyles went down quickly under the onslaught, and Blackwell entered the room with Asphodel following shortly after. As Blackwell moved into an attack position against the flesh golem he missed the trap glyph on the floor and acid sprayed up from the floor covering a fifteen foot diameter area under and around him.
Now alerted to the presence of the energy traps the allies attempted to space themselves about the room. Asphodel used her flying ability to maneuver herself to the back of the golem, however, something went wrong when she attacked and her wing rebounded off the golem's rigid structure and she was rendered stunned for a short time. The rest of the group now entered the room, as Blackwell used the key card to retreat outside the room to get some much needed healing in the form of a potion. Zerak began to lay down curse after curse via his evil eye hex dropping the monster's defensive and offensive abilities. Even Jobi was pitching in with a successful strike with her enchanted sling (and a sigh of relief from the rest of the party). Under the weight of the allies’ attacks, the golem finally succumbed. Blackwell now proceeded to around the room and disabled the energy traps immediately after they activated. A search of the table and cabinets yielded the only thing of value, a scroll case with a strange scroll in it. Zerak examined the scroll and figured that it looked like some sort of scroll to either activate or deactivate something since it was not a true spell scroll. Next they turned their attention to the stairwell that led up to a landing with another closed door.
The door to the room was covered in a layer of ice, but with a measure of muscle, Asphodel and Blackwell managed to dislodge it and open the door. Inside it was cold, meat locker cold, and a series of ice blocks that resembled closets adorned three walls and four block of ice with humanoid shapes lying on top of them sat near the center of the room. On the far side a strange blue skinned man beckoned them to come in, "Visitors at last! Ohh please come in come in come in come in! Blackwell took a step into the room and the man became very excited, "Ohhhh!! Wonderful!!! I have something for you, yes! Its over here! Come in come in come in come in!" Then the man literally pushed his hand into one of the large ice blocks on the far end of the room and looked like he was searching for something. Blackwell decided to slowly approach and see what this strange person was up to. Shortly, the made exclaimed, "Ah! there it is! I've got it!" and pulled out his arm from the ice block and presented a frozen squirrel to Blackwell, "Here you go!" he happily proclaimed and then looked to see who else was coming into the room. Blackwell jumped for joy and moved across the room as Zola moved to the other corner of the room and Asphodel and Kel took up a protective position in front of Jobi and Zerak. Blackwell began to munch happily on the frozen treat and the strange undead man went to another dresser saying he had more gifts. He pulled out a sword and walked to the center of the room and suddenly focused a cone of cold on the largest concentration of the heroes: namely Asphodel, Jobi, Kel, and Zerak.
Then immediately after the four figures became zombies and closed in for battle. Two mummies ganged up on the werewolf and laid into him. All the allies felt a strange wave pass through them, however, most were able to shake off the effects. Zerak, however, found himself stunned and unable to move Asphodel placed herself between the mummies and her physically weaker allies and began to tear into them. Kel followed suit with her channel positive energy, but found her combat potential quickly over whelmed as the demented wizard threw out another cone of cold. Blackwell made a strategic retreat with his Key card to gain a few moments breather. In the meantime, Zola put her new holy morningstar to good use against the nearest Mummy. The mummy's attacks were able to penetrate the aasimar’s sturdy armor, but her divine blessing aided in resisting any lingering effects, however, Blackwell wasn’t so lucky. It’s likely that the several of the party’s members would have faced disaster as the wizard began to cast his third cone of cold spell if not for a sudden and heroic effort. Asphodel leapt into action and bull-rushed the mummy in front of her and sent it hurtling back into the wizard disrupting his deadly spell. With Asphodel now pushed further away from her allies, Kel was overwhelmed and succumbed to her injures and collapsed. Jobi used her magic missile and scorching ray spells on any target that presented itself and Zerak came to his senses and fled the room to heal up. By now, Asphodel and Zola had dropped a mummy each and with the aid of Blackwell’s bow and Jobi and Zerak’s magicks, they brought down the other two. Jobi darted into the room and gifted some curative energy into the fallen princess. With his entourage of mummies dispatched, the crazy frozen wizard soon followed.
Among the various items our heroes found in this very frigid wizard's lair was a large heavy tome bound in white dragon scales atop the table near the southwest corner of the room. Upon examination, the group determined that this was the Winterbole Codex - the tome that Valthruun was hoping still existed here. He will be very please to get his hands upon this work of research, which describes the connections between the Feywild and the "normal" world in a very esoteric manner. They also had found a scroll entitled, "The Southern Artifact." It was written by someone named Vandomar, who by the tone of the writing was most likely a very knowledgeable wizard. It suggests that an artifact in the knights' possession was responsible for the chaos unleashed, and through its agency the Far Realm somehow intruded into the watchtower. This is something that Sir Berrian would definitely be interested in since it pretty much documents the events that destroyed the Abbey over two hundred years ago.
The party found only a few things of note scattered throughout the old wizard's tower. This is the complete list:
- The strange ritual scroll found in a cabinet on the lower level
- The Winterbole Codex for Valthruun
- Four suits of half-plate armor worn by the mummies
- A wand of shocking grasp (5 charges, CL 10) found in a block of ice
- A number of small frozen creatures, like the frozen squirrel given to Blackwell by Vandomar, suspended in blocks of ice
- Several scrolls found on one table including Restoration, Regeneration, and Cone of Cold
- "The Southern Artifact" scroll that Sir Berrian would be interested in
- A sword with an ice-blue blade and black hilt that Vandomar had pulled out of an ice block just before attacking the party
- One Card from the Deck of Many Things, The Comet card (described below), found in another block of ice
Conquering the wizard's tower was just another small victory for the party. They still needed to find the third sacred vessel for the cleansing of the Dragon Roost temple with Sir Oakley, and it seemed the item was nowhere to be found. Maybe they now had to scour the rest of the town for it, or maybe the building guarded by the wraith will provide some answers, assuming that they can get into the building, that is...