The next day the party headed out with Regis and his caravan. Jobi still had her wagon she had found on her way into Neverwinter a decade ago and now found use for it again. Blackwell spent most of the day in wolf form, riding in the back of Jobi's wagon, trying to pretend being her wolf pet for as long as he could. Regis' merchant caravan had three large wagons, each pulled by four-horse teams, and he had also hired 4 new guards, plus the two that had survived the bar attack were still with them. And the band headed out northeast on the road to Targos.
The first day went by uneventfully, passing some other travelers going to Neverwinter. That night while at camp for the night, however, was another story. The first signs of trouble was when all the horses somehow got free and began to run wild. Regis and the other guards went after the horses, calling back to the party to keep watch over the camp and the wagons. Not long after that, 4 men holding loaded crossbows stepped out of the gloom and into the firelight. The leader of the men began to speak, "Well boys, looks like the rumors are true after all. Little Blackie has come back home. What’s the matter Blackie, don’t you remember us, your old friends?” With that they all changed into hybrid werewolf forms. And Blackwell did the same.
He continued to speak, “It’s time to come home and answer to the pack for your family’s treachery. Your dad put up a good fight. Gave me this scar here (points to his shoulder). And your mom, well, she pleaded and tried to earn ‘poor little Blackie’s’ freedom by the only way that slut knew.” They all laughed at this and he continued, “But in the end, she screamed in the flames just like all the other traitorous scum. Now it’s your turn to face the trial of flames. We’re gonna take you back so you can be tried and executed for your crimes against the pack! You others here can just walk away and you won’t get killed. Now get him boys!” And with that they go after Blackwell and don’t attack anyone else unless they are attacked.
Of course, the first to act was Zola, by helping out Blackwell with some protective magic and trying to stay out of reach of the four werewolves, for she and the rest knew that each of their assailants were just as resistant to damage as Blackwell was and she didn't have any magical or silver weapons yet. The rest of the party cautiously readied themselves for what promised to be a rough battle with an uncertain outcome. Kel advanced on one of the four invaders, confident that his magic longsword would strike true. His efforts pinned one of the werewolves down so that he couldn't use his crossbow to shoot Blackwell, or anyone else, anymore. Jobi used her magic to summon a snake in hopes that it would slow one of them down a little. And her wand of magic missiles proved useful as well against these assailants. Asphodel also advanced on the beasts, using her magic weapon and natural attacks of her eidolon to try and occupy one, and maybe even bring one down. Remembering that they had some oil of magic weapon in their possession, Blackwell and Zola poured some over their bow and crossbow respectively. This at least ensured that when they hit their opponents, they would cause them some damage.
After several rounds of battle, Kel had managed to drop one of the werewolves and so did several of the others. Sensing that they were nearing defeat, the two remaining Gray Wolf tribesmen changed into wolf form and attempted to flee. The leader battling Blackwell was able to make his escape, much to Blackwell's consternation. The one battling Asphodel, and Kel, wasn't so lucky and was cut down as he tried to run. Shortly after, Regis and the other guards returned with the horses and immediately trained their weapons on Blackwell, for he was still in his hybrid form. He quickly returned to human form and tensions began to subside. With the immediate danger over, the party gathered up the bolts that the werewolves were using since they were silver tipped bolts and Regis revealed that he had a stash of silver weapons, which he loaned to every guard, and a short sword to Blackwell. Thankfully, the rest of the night turned out to be uneventful. In fact, the rest of the trip to Targos was safe travels.
Once at Targos, and once everyone had settled in, the party made a double check of their gear, hoping that they have thought of everything they made need to find and explore a buried wizard's tower. Regis told the group that he would stay in Targos until they returned from their exploration, giving them a map of the area that he believed where the tower was located before the Spellplague disaster.
They traveled for nearly a day, acurrately following the map to an area that showed some signs of previous habitation; a few worked stones and bricks, and some land that seemed a bit to bumpy and disturbed to be naturally forming. So they decided to start digging in the area. Zola cast an enlarge spell on Kel so he could dig even more efficiently. He finds a place where he opened up a small hole that showed a hollow area about a foot under the ground. So a quick change of plans has Asphodel tied off to Kel, and Blackwell turned into a wolf form digging machine, they begin digging in earnest. That's when disaster nearly struck. The area where they were digging suddenly caved in! Blackwell struggled to keep himself from falling into the hole, Asphodel was swinging on the end of Kel's rope, but Jobi was standing just a little to close to the cave in and lost her balance. She plunged into the darkness, bouncing off of roots, thick cobwebs, and spiders webs. She hit the ground forty feet down, a nearly fatal fall for her. Zola was the first down to help her with her healing abilities. Shortly, everyone was down the hole and searching the worked stone floor.
They found a trap door in the floor, very old and rusty. It was a bit stuck but the power of Kel and Asphodel nearly ripped it from its hinges when they pulled on the ring to open it. The open trap door revealed descending stairs that ended at a door. Blackwell was now on the job checking out every door they were to come across for traps and locks. His skills at these tasks was improving and so far no mishaps have happened. The door opened to a large circular chamber, some sixty feet in diameter. It was very evident that no one had been here in a long time for the dust was thick on the floor with no tracks through it and the cobwebs were hanging thick where the walls met the ceiling. The only thing inside was a large iron cauldron in the middle of the room. Kel advanced toward the cauldron to check it out when some ancient magic was triggered.
The only two that appeared to have fallen into the magic's trap were Jobi and Blackwell. They were mesmerized and saw the following:
The other party members just saw the two staring intently at the cauldron with horrified looks on their faces as if something truly horrific and disastrous was happening to them.
This sparked Kel and Asphodel both to try and upend the cauldron in hopes that it would cause the illusory magic to be broken. One tried to kick it over and the other tried to push it over and neither had any success. Zerak tried calling out Jobi's name in hopes of snapping her out of it, but all that did to the two was for them to see something else:
At this point our two heroes collapsed and passed out. Fortunately the others were able to revive them and equally fortunate that the ancient magic had lost most of its potency. The band then continued down into the tower, after Blackwell ahd regained his senses and composure and had examined the door leading down to the next level. The stairs ended at yet another door, which led into what was once a very well appointed bedroom, probably someone very important to the tower, possibly even the owner, Holifax, if this truly was his tower. Searching the room, they found nothing of interest at the bed, the desk, and one of the armoires. The second armoire however, had an ice golem guardian that took Blackwell by surprise after he had checked the armoire for traps and opened the doors.
The ice golem gave the group quite a fight, being possibly the most difficult opponent they have faced to date. The golem's breath weapon along with its powerful fists was able to cause quite a bit of damage to multiple party members, but in the end, the party did prevail. Once the battle was over, they did find a small mahogany chest, locked but not trapped. Blackwell opened it and found writing implements made of gold and crystal and attempted to palm a small leather pouch but was seen by a couple of the others and called out on it. Blackwell's excuse was that its in his nature as a rogue to do these things, plus he was trying to save and gather as much coin as possible so he can buy his parents a plot of land so they can make their home in Neverwinter. The rest said they could understand that reasoning but they did not want this done at their expense, so they asked him to be forth coming in the future and they would keep in mind his goals for his parents and the risks he takes for the good of the party.
They also noticed that from this level there were several windows in the tower. Two of the windows looked out onto solid dirt, but one looked out into a large cavern and would give them access to whatever is outside the tower and castle proper. But they decided that they wanted to explore the tower first before heading out to the cavern, so not seeing any other way out of this room, they redoubled their efforts at searching and Kel had found a secret door. Fearing that they were too depleted to meet any other possible encounters that lie past that secret door, the party rested. Then they opened the secret door and descended the stairs to the next level in the tower.
The next level was also a single large chamber that was obviously used as a guard check point, for the 10 guards that were stationed here years ago were still here, albiet in skeletal form. This battle was relatively easy for the group and the only real notable event was when Jobi attempted to use her sling. She gave one of the year's best displays on how not to use a sling; tripping and falling flat on her face, stunning herself for many rounds while actually hitting Zerak in the head with the sling bullet while he was standing behind her some distance away.
This room had two other doors exiting, one led to more stairs down the tower and the other door led to a long hallway with several other doors and a statue of a knight in full plate armor with a two handed sword at the opposite end. The bulk of the hallway was within Zola's detect magic ability and she did not detect any. So our intrepid adventurer's were at a decision point: do they continue down the tower or do they go out into the castle proper to continue their explorations...