The exhaustion of the full day spent below the surface weighed heavily on the adventures as they sought rest halfway to the watchtower. Comforted by the watchfulness of the recently acquired onyx mastiff, named Hooch by Jiàntóu, the group spent the evening in a deep slumber. Just before dawn, they were awoken by their sentry. Hooch informed the party that during the night he’d discovered a band of goblins, led by a bugbear over the ridge. He also told them that during the night her heard several strange screams and howls echoing over the landscape. Following that, he returned to his diminutive shape and was packed away.
Recalling the message that was decoded regarding sending goblins to the watch tower, the adventures quickly broke camp to investigate the errand-party of Rick Little. Flanking the group on three sides, Rolen conjured an illusion of a large butterfly to distract the small band of goblins. It quickly became apparent that this group had not had a very easy time with their task, as the sight of the illusion caused several of them to panic and run for the tree line about 300 yards away.
The leader of the group, a stubborn and bloodied bugbear, was in no mood to be taken by illusions or the other spells that Rolen cast, resisting the levitation incantation. At that point Jiàntóu called out and parlayed with the bugbear. Through this conversation he discovered that this group was sent to seek the woman who dwells in the watchtower, offering her a fine gift. However, the leader of their party who’d approached the watchtower did not complete the task set before him and ran from the tower in terror. It was at that point that this group returned through the path and stumbled into a den of displacer beasts. They barely survived and had setup camp in a fitful night of keeping watch.
By the end of the conversation the bugbear was the only one remaining as the rest of goblins fled at the memory of the beasts the day before. He sat by a fire, frustrated with the failure and learning that Rick Little was killed. With nothing else to do, he simply sat and the adventures left him on the ridge.
After a short climb up the main path to the watchtower the group was surprised as a figure emerged from the rocks. Almost immediately Rolen recognized him as Rade, the druid who’d competed in the adventurer challenge only a few weeks before. After sharing that he’d chased a were-creature up the mountains the rest of the Falconiers filled him in on the happens of the Black Claw Mages, Rick Little, and the Tahotra search party in Cloudmouth. Rade nodded in understanding and rejoined the group as they continued toward their destination.
As the watchtower came into view the Falconiers saw a very large flying beast with a rider lifting off from the ground with another figure in it’s talons. This beast was followed by two ravens. Rolen sent his hawk familiar after the creature and through it’s eyes he saw that the figure in it’s talons was the doppleganger that had impersonated Shank and had suffered the were-curse.
Knowing that their time may be short the group cautiously approached the watchtower. Rolen’s hawk circled above the watch tower and was able to observe several items of great beauty within a room that was meticulously decorated. The care with which the room was preserved stood in sharp contrast to the ruins which surrounded it. In the middle of the hazy room sat a golden lamp, etched with ancient symbols, with a small purple flame continually burning.
S called to the lady of the watchtower, beckoning her to come out to them for they brought a gift. Despite the sense of dread that washed over each of them like the waves of the ocean tide, the group stood fast and waited for an answer. What came was a voice that echoed from the inside of the keep, “Do you wish to see my power or my beauty.” The owner of the voice was unaware that Rolen had wisely focused his attention to hear the thoughts of any creature within the keep and was able to provide clues of the lady of the watchtower’s concerns.
Aware that she craved to be recognized for her beauty, S spoke, “My fair maiden, we ask for your wisdom. If we may also see your beauty, than it will be taken as a gift!” This pleased the creature and she revealed herself, first as a beautiful dwarven maiden with a flowing gown. This majestic figure faded quickly away to the true form, that of a rotting corpse, a cursed banshee.
Rolen knew that despite her gruesome appearance, this creature believed herself to be beautiful. Alerting S to this fact, S continued to try and charm the banshee while asking for the information that she’d given the Black Claw Mages who’d arrived just before. She told them that the information she gave, she only gave due to their gift; the golden lamp in the middle of the room.
Jiàntóu froze upon seeing the lamp, memories flooding through his mind. The moments of his father’s last few hours were vivid as he recognized the golden treasure sitting before him on the table. Jiàntóu was certain this was the same lamp he saw his father quickly lock away in the hidden safe in his cabin.
A blink and the words of his father, words that Jiàntóu had never understood the meaning of, suddenly became quite clear. “Tell her she’ll have to wait. When it’s ready, I’ll bring it myself!” For so long Jiàntóu had wondered whom his father spoke of and what it was that he would bring. The memory that accompanied these words was hazy. Jiàntóu tried to recall whom his father was speaking to, but only dark shapes remained. Shapes cloaked in long, black robes. Jiàntóu had resolved himself that the Tahotra was at the center of his father, Jamparing’s, death. Now, his conviction wavered as he learned that the Black Claw Mages were involved.
Becoming tired of the conversation and wanting to get his hands on the magical lamp, Rolen turned his attention from the thoughts of the banshee and instead blinked to another plane, sneaking into the watchtower and grabbing the lamp. As soon as he laid his hands on the lamp, the banshee screamed, causing mind-numbing pain to all those who could hear. The ringing in his ears caused Rolen to unsuccessfully blink and escape the watchtower.
Without hesitation, Jiàntóu rushed into the room, grabbed the lamp, and escaped with it right outside the Banshee’s lair. Rolen directed his hawk to swoop down and grab some of the other fine treasures that were on the ivory shelves. This distracted the banshee long enough that the whole party was able to get outside the watchtower walls. Rolen's familiar was unable to escape the touch of the banshee and it faded away. At this, S cast darkness within the walls of the watchtower.
From this deep darkness they could hear the weeping of the banshee, not in anger but in utter sadness. The treasure which she valued above all others, this lamp, was taken from her. While Jiàntóu’s mind was focused on stealing more of the banshee’s treasure, Rolen and S’s attentions were on the lamp. When Rolen approached S, the purple flame grew much larger. This caused great uncertainty between the two adventurers. Both could recall that the lamp was of great power and very ancient, but neither knew the purpose of such a lamp.
Overhearing their conversation from within the darkness, the banshee called out, saying that what they are discussing could not be. The lamp’s flame would only rise when the recipient of it’s message was near. She could not believe that anyone but herself would receive a message.
S, believing the words she spoke, reached out and touched the lamp. Immediately the flame shot into the air and formed the shape of a gauntlet. In its palm was the figure of an eye that changed from purple to a deep crimson blue. The color intensified and the eye blinked away, followed by the gauntlet closing into a fist. A yellow spark grew from the grasp, forming a long curved sword. Following this, the colors and shapes faded away and the lamp no longer displayed a flame.
S dropped to his knees and whispered to himself, “Helm…” S knew little of his father, only that he had named him “Sorrow” and have given him his sword he’d used as a paladin. This sword, named Judgement, was long with a yellow hilt, and bared the watchful eye of helm on it’s hilt. Sorrow had known his father served Helm, but little else.
As S’s thoughts were drawn away, his spell of darkness lifted and all could see the miserable banshee. She offered the information she’d given the black claw mages in return for the lamp. Finding little use and heeding her warnings of curses, the Falconiers returned the lamp in exchange for the information.
Hwindock, as she finally shared her name, told them that the black claw mages were seeking powerful magical artifacts from ages long ago. She’d told them that several were to be found in the Temple of Tendrombohitra. She also gave them a clue as to how to gain access to the treasures.
Taking leave of the watchtower, the group returned down the path towards Cloudmouth. Along the way they were ambushed by the displacer beasts that had attacked the goblin party the day before, but the creatures proved little distraction for the group. Upon their defeat, Rade chose to leave the party, wishing to remain in the wilderness.
Rolen and Jiàntóu disguised themselves and entered Cloudmouth to discover that the Tahotra were making a spectacle of their interrogation of the mayor. Rolen, casting a spell of fear on the whole gathering, caused all those in the market to run in terror. With that the group took horses, mounted, and got on the main road to head to Chepstow, where they would seek the aid of the Fanjakana, sharing what they’d learn and to determine their next course of action.
The travel to Chepstow was often filled with silence. Jiàntóu and Sorrow lost in their own thoughts. Questions regarding the lamp consumed Jiàntóu while Sorrow was only concered about the message it contained. Rolen simply looked forward to the recognition the killing of a Black Claw Mage would bring him in the presence of the Fanjakana.