On the way to the tower dragging the bodies of the dead changelings, the group passed by the run-down fishing shack. They decided to take a quick look inside but found it locked up and surprisingly sturdy for an abandoned wooden building. So much for dumping the bodies inside to divert suspicion, they thought, and unceremoniously tossed them in the river under the dock. To the tower!
Along the way they see the lower 5/6 of a familiar fur-clad half-orc, Gel! “How did you find me?” he asked. “Honestly, the fact that you weren’t being chased by primates and wolves was the better disguise” Zed riposted back.
The stone tower looked blown out and considerably worse off than the wooden fishing shack. Stones that once were walls and parapets were now scattered about the ground in piles, and the stairway leading up to the second floor was missing its lower half. Nonetheless, Rosalyn was able to command her magic rope to attach itself to the remaining stair and she quickly climbed up to the next level.
There she found the remains of a fire, possibly used for camp or signal purposes. The wall extended up a few feet here and there, offering shelter, but otherwise the room was exposed to the elements and offered a commanding view of the sky above and the river and forest below.
Meanwhile, Nico discovered a broken-in door under the part of the stairs that was still standing and opened it to find… a small pantry. Rotten food, signs of rodents, and shapes in the dust showing where thing once had been were all that remained. Hanging on the wall at the back of the room was a moldy tapestry, and behind that was a small alcove with a smaller box inside. The box is locked, but Nico soon finagles the lock open and finds two keys inside: one small and delicate and one large and rough-hewn. He also finds the makings for about half a bottle of Alchemist’s Fire. It appears the box was set to blow, possibly destroying the contents, if the latch was not properly disabled. Yeah, Nico!
Zed and Gel are looking around in the tower and out in the courtyard but find nothing more interesting than their conversation. Fresh off his lockpicking victory, Nico easily discerns that there is a door hidden under a pile of smaller rubble. It looks like a cellar door, locked from the inside. Inspired by Nico’s adroit opening of the box, Rosalyn jams her blade between the doors and breaks the simple latch on the inside clean off, allowing the doors to be swung open.
Zed takes Rosalyn’s spot upstairs and espies a rustling in the trees off towards where they encountered the changelings before. Something appears to be moving through the brush and disappears over a small hill into the valley beyond. Behind the valley the land rises up into taller mountains, so whatever it was likely stopped beyond the hill. He notes the location and heads back downstairs to help inspect the cellar.
With Del the rogue taking a cat-nap in the tower, it falls to Zed to steal into the darkness below and ascertain its contents. He finds a straight passage that turns to the right and ends in a locked door with a barred window. He does not see anything moving through the window and so motions for everyone else to come down. Nico, who can’t see for shit in the dark, gives Zed the small key. It fits! Inside is a room with a table and some benches. There are shelves along the wall with bits of rotten food, and a barrel containing musty drinking water. There is a locked door with a similar window at the back wall, which Zed covers with a cloth before they light the room so Nico can see. A scrap of parchment is soon discovered under the table. Unfurling it they find a few lines of crossed-out writing that look to be the opening of a letter.
The light is extinguished and the door unlocked using the same small key. Zed goes in first and finds a hallway with three windowed doors on each side and a seventh with no window at the end. The hallway smells of rotten meat, with the smell getting stronger the further in he goes. He peeks in each of the six in turn to find they are holding cells of some kind. One appears to be unlocked and swings open slightly when he approaches. Notably, this room has a large shape lying on the cot. Zed sneakily lifts the blanket off of the closest side to see who or what is lying underneath only to find the horrid mangled visage of a flesh golem! Immune to his charms, Zed is walloped mightily and quickly retreats back into the larger room, ceding the fight to his sturdier comrades.
Nico then shoots a total of six flaming bolts of fire at the beast, hitting with four and critting with one for a total of 56 damage. Rosalyn chops down the remainder of the creature’s HP and the beast is slain! She finds a silk handkerchief with a small tuft of ladies hair on the beast. A clue!
They open the last door and find… a fairly nice living room, much like one might find in a brothel. Plush chairs and a writing desk, flowers here and there, etc. The poetry on the desk is terrible, so Zed writes some better verse and signs his name perhaps a little too large but there you have it. Basically the place is a bachelor’s pad for doppelgangers. There are two doors at the back, one at either corner. Both are closed. They open one and then the other and find a bed in each. The beds are strewn with rose petals and have a small table at the side. Some plain tapestries adorn the walls. Gel looks behind the tapestries and finds a number of potions, likely employed in the clumsy seduction of the kidnapped ladies by the changelings. The potions are:
A potion of Vitality
A potion of Longevity
A potion of Heroism (Rosalyn claims this one)
A potion of Dimunition
It appears our heroes have hit a dead end in their investigation! Where are the ladies and what was the deal with the stinky flesh man? Will they try the other key on the fishing shack, or will they venture into the woods after whatever Zed spotted moving? And who will take notes with Dave gone? Tune in next time to find out!