As Falx studies beast handling with the old man inside the white plane, the rest of the group discusses current events with Aliandra. She asks what their next move will be, and they go over a number of possibilities. Bartan asks if there is anything specifically she needs of them, and she explains that she could use one of them for a very important task. Bartan offers to split off from the group to complete it, and she asks him to stay behind to have the task explained after the rest leave. Lelouche gives him a hug and tells him he’ll miss him most of all, then refers to him as the Tin Man, a reference which is lost on those in this mortal plane and place in time. Lelouche then asks about Bartan’s wife and where to find her, in case he doesn’t return. Bartan explains how to find her in Warren Tower but assures Lelouche he’ll return.
Falx asks about the specific ability of Rumen to open doors, and how much control he has over where he can open them. Aliandra explains that he can open them practically anywhere, but she is attempting to limit him to non-polulated areas or areas that they have control over. For example, she notes that Lianna has a number of trusted members of the former Southern Resistance that run businesses in Castle Valoris, which allows them to open doors inside the city, knowing that only trusted friends will see.
Hammond has Rumen open a door to his room in Tulley Keep. He tells the group that he will work outside of the plane on potential recruitment since the group unintentionally revealed the door and he must make an excuse for it, or risk causing suspicion about the new resistance before it is time to reveal itself. He heads through the gate as Rumen opens it, and it closes immediately afterward. Rumen walks back to his post, seeming to be watching Aliandra intently from a distance.
Falx takes a break from training and comes over to find out the consensus of what Aliandra needs and what the group will be heading to do next. Aliandra explains that she can drop the group at the base of the mountains east of Gainsmead since they expressed interest in hunting down the Enclave. Aliandra expresses that, based on what they’ve told her about the visions of the ring, the Enclave might have information on how to track down Corinth the Stone-Hearted, and so that should be their top priority at the current time. She asks Rumen to open a door for them, and he does so. The black gate stands in front of the group, and they say their goodbyes. Aliandra explains that she will pick them up whenever they contact her, and she gives Lelouche a contact scroll for that purpose.
The group heads through the gate, and as their eyes get used to the sunlight, they find themselves at the base of the mountains east of Gainsmead. Orik takes the lead, attempting to find the path up through the mountains to the Enclave. Recalling the vision, he eventually finds the path and the group begins heading up, with Orik in the lead. After a couple of hours, in which there are quite a few times they have to turn around and retrace their steps, the group manages to find an outcropping with signs of recently travel, and they realize they are getting close to the Enclave’s facility.
Approaching a canyon that seems to lead down into a highly traveled area, Orik feels a weight lift from him, and he examines Bronne’s ring, realizing it can be removed from his hand. He places it on a nearby rock, bidding the dead dwarf goodbye. Falx asks him incredulously if he took off the ring, and Orik just says “no”, unconvincingly. Lelouche uses Mage Hand to take it and place it inside of his bag, which Orik pays no mind to, happy to be free of it.
Orik decides to head down into the canyon while Lelouche and Falx head up the canyon wall to look from above and check for traps or people ahead. Orik searches for traps within the canyon, managing only to find a few corpses strewn about, all wearing the same black robes. Approaching one and turning it over, he finds a gruesome sight, the men having gray, bubbled skin and seeming to have quickly rotted. Orik recognizes it as a necromancy curse (specifically a “Decrepitcy Curse”), and informs the group. Gripping the Lion’s Claw, he doesn’t notice anything different in the area, though an uneasy feeling in his stomach settles. Orik confirms that the other corpses in the canyon suffer from the same curse. Falx realizes that a necro-dragon could enact this curse, though he realizes that anyone creating a necro-dragon would also have powerful necromancers under their command, so he leaves the subject for now.
Orik calls down the others, and Falx and Lelouche come down to meet him. Heading forward, they find a stone gate into what appears to be an underground facility. In front of it are more corpses that seem to have suffered the same fate. It is unclear whether these people were killed by the Enclave members, or are Enclave members themselves, though Orik notes that the robes are reminiscent of the few he could see in the visions. The group continues on, through the facility gate, into a large opening room.
The room is dimly lit by torches that seem to need replacing. As their eyes adjust, they realize the room is filled with even more corpses. Two appear to have been fighting each other bare-handed, showing scratches and dripping blood between them. A general feeling of unease and nausea affects them but the group continues inside. Falx locates a sign on the wall with arrows that appears to be a room marker board, but it is encoded or in a language he’s never seen before. Reaching into his bag, he reveals his Lens of Reading and waits while it decodes the sign. As the words become clear, he reads off the following rooms: “Meeting Hall”, “Dormitories”, “Control Room”, “The Pen”, and “Prison”. Falx makes a note of each direction and recites them to the group, who decide the “Control Room” is their best bet.
Lelouche realizes that a spell is permeating from inside the facility and causing the nausea, but it is farther than his ring can detect. In addition, the rotting effect on these men seems to still be active, though lesser than when it killed them, as they seem to have been affected quickly and without any warning. He informs the group that they have a bit of time before it reaches a point where it becomes dangerous, but they should keep their attention on the effects as they continue forward, and get out if they need to.
Heading down a long corridor, the group can hear noises ahead of them that sound like levers being pulled and knobs being turned. They attempt to move quietly, but they stop when they see a figure up ahead wearing a black cloak like the dead men strewn about the facility. The figure seems to be at one of the control boards in the room, and it is unclear how many others are in the room, judging by the amount of noise coming from it. The group backs up, deciding to get a disguise from the dormitories before heading into the control room to face however many people might be inside.
The group finds a number of black robes, with Orik specifically finding a closed-off room that contains a box with items made to fit a Dwarf, and he takes a Dwarf-sized black robe. He notes that it is most likely Bronne’s, and that there are no other dwarf items around, so he will be rather conspicuous, given that the Enclave most likely knows Bronne is dead. The group heads back toward the main room at the opening of the facility. Orik realizes that every time he touches his sword, the nausea clears, so he does so often, and suggests the same of the others, resetting the spell’s effect back to null each time.
The group heads toward the Meeting Hall, but finds a terrible sight in the hallway leading to it. It appears a large number of men and women attempted to leave the Meeting Hall through the hallway rather quickly and for some reason, the people up front seem to have stopped, which caused a large jam and the people died in a heap, climbing over one another. After a short investigation, Falx realizes these people seem to have clawed into themselves, most likely from the pain, gutting their own stomachs and tearing at their own eyes and ears, most likely due to the intense pain of the rotting curse. He explains this to the group, adding that whatever strength the curse was at before, it seems to have died down quite a bit, as they are only barely feeling it’s affect.
The group climbs over to reach the Meeting Hall, and Lelouche’s ring goes off, signalling that he is around 50 feet from the source of the curse being cast. Falx ignores a man who seems to have stabbed himself through the neck and is lying dead against the wall, instead reading some encoded documents using his Lens of Reading. He goes through papers on the large meeting desk and reads them off to the rest of the group. It would appear the Enclave has agents scatted throughout the kingdom, entrenching themselves in different groups to gain information and influence. Most notably, they seem to be attempting to gain information from the Sentinel Guild, having a few agents in high ranking positions within it. A few pages note the method of controlling the necro-dragon, and how it will eventually be a dracolich when the conversion is complete. The papers cite that there are to be three necromancers keeping the dragon under control at all times. Nothing in the papers describe having a problem keeping the beast under containment. Without them, the area would apparently need to be vacated, as the beast does not yet understand how not to radiate it’s power.
Falx directs everyone back to the main entry hall, and asks where to head next. Citing that the Control Room seems to be their ultimate goal, they decide to go to the prison first just in case they can find something of use. Heading down a large staircase, the group smells the prison before they can see it. Lelouche’s ring stops going off, which seems to indicate they are farther from the source than the Meeting Hall, but it begins going off again as they approach the prison as if an entirely different spell is being cast. As they enter the prison, they find the source of the smell quickly. The enclosed space is full of small cells and each one has one or more corpses in it, rotting and bleeding out onto the ground.
The group collectively feels an intense feeling of déjà-vu, and Lelouche recognizes it as a feeling from the vision they had with Whisper. Falx recalls an image of a cloaked female figure turned away from view, head against a stone wall. Rushing down the corridor, he passes countless corpses that seem to have torn themselves apart from the pain, eventually coming upon the figure from the vision. Turned away and facing the wall, a female form covered in a burlap fabric seems to be casting a spell over and over again. Feeling for the arcane power, Falx recognizes it as a “Wellness” spell, which is a spell non-healer magic users tend to use when they don’t know exactly the problem but want to make something healthier in general. In the cell on the other side of the stone wall the figure is leaning against, there is a large pile of some sort under another burlap fabric piece. After a moment, Falx realizes the shape is moving and hears a light growling, recognizing it as a beast of some sort.
Falx attempts to make his presence known, but the figure doesn’t turn toward him. Finding a key set on the wall, he opens the cell and enters slowly, approaching the figure. Getting a closer look, the figure seems to notice him as he speaks to them again. Shuddering, the figure slowly and painfully turns toward him, revealing a face absolutely covered in the gray skin and bubbling of the rotting curse. The figure’s eyes, ears, and mouth are covered in the bubbles, making communication and vision rather difficult if not possible. Falx manages to explain that he is giving her a Seed of Healing, and that she needs it to feel better. The magic effect of the item is immediately clear, with the bubbles and gray skin receding just enough to make the face of the figure recognizable as Jalmara. Falx realizes the beast next door must be Gorn, and that Jalmara must be attempting to keep him alive with the Wellness spell. Falx asks if Gorn is well enough to be touched to the Lion’s Claw to help him, but Orik hears him and goes into a rage, realizing they are yet again helping Jalmara and her dragon.
While Falx and Orik argue, Lelouche pulls out one of his Potions of Vitality and applies it to Jalmara, whose eyes seem to have cleared enough for her to recognize the group and that they are there to save her. As the potion takes effect, the gray skin recedes a bit more and the bubbles do so as well, to the point where she can speak and seems to be able to at least walk. She begs the group to help save Gorn. Lelouche asks if she can calm him to the point where he would accept being transmogrified, since he can’t do so with a dragon unless it agrees.
After a long talk about how the group and Jalmara have a common enemy in Corinth, and how Corinth herself represents what he truly hates about dragons while Gorn does not, Orik goes into a rage and demands that Lelouche turn him into a squid again, citing that he won’t be responsible for what he does otherwise. Lelouche, not thinking clearly in all of the confusion, Fey-steps to Gorn’s cell and attempts to transmogrify Gorn, forgetting that he isn’t accepting of the effect so it can’t be cast on him. Orik’s attitude changes as he sees Lelouche in danger as Gorn seems to be angry he has an intruder in his cell. Gray skin can be seen between Gorn’s scales, and the bubbles, though small on his body, can be seen covering the beast, and he is clearly in pain. Lelouche attempts to use Instant Friends on Gorn, but the effect unfortunately fails on the beast.
Orik’s mind clears as he sees Lelouche in danger, and he runs to the cell door. Not even asking Falx for the keys, he slams his foot into the cell door lock, knocking it from it’s frame after two hits and kicking the cell door open. Rushing over, he takes the hilt of the Lion’s Claw and slams it into Gorn’s head, knocking the beast to the ground and into a dazed state, though temporarily clearing it of the nausea affect as well. Jalmara rushes in, holding Gorn’s head in her lap and shushing it to calm it, which seems to be having a positive effect. After a minute, she hints to Lelouche that he is calm enough to accept a transmogrify spell, and Lelouche turns the beast into a squid, placing it in his bag of holding immediately. He describes that Gorn will be safe in there until they can find a place to heal him properly.
Lelouche asks Jalmara how she arrived her, citing that the last time they saw each other, she said she was going to head south over the mountains. Jalmara unknowingly describes the moment that Corinth‘s tooth exploded in Tulley Keep, noting that Gorn was hit by some sort of psychic magic and went wild. She attempted to keep him under control, but eventually gave up, and passed out while trying to speak to him directly. She was fortunately strapped onto the saddle on him, so she didn’t separate from him, but he went uncontrollably to the mountain pass outside of the Enclave facility. She only knew where she was because in the few moments after she was woken up by the men subduing Gorn, she could see Gainsmead down the mountain behind them.
Falx, hearing Jalmara mention her passing out while “speaking with Gorn directly”, recalls her gauntlet and begins searching for where prisoner personal effects are stored. Finding a small room, he locates the cubby that Jalmara’s things were in. From the fact that only the gauntlet and her clothes remain, he ascertains that the Enclave most likely took all of her magic items except for the gauntlet because they had no idea what it did. He takes her belongings and returns to the cell, giving her them in a satchel he found in another cubby.
Through some talking about Gorn’s loss of control, Lelouche realizes that perhaps the tooth was a method Corinth was using to hide herself, and perhaps Gorn latched on to that effect unknowingly, which is why he was never drawn to the Enclave until after the tooth was destroyed. He doesn’t share the information about the tooth with Jalmara just yet, since it seems irrelevant to their current situation. Through some more conversation, Jalmara describes the danger in being this close to the necro-dragon or dracolich, and that they need to leave the area. Apparently the beasts are known to be uncontrollable, to the point where utilizing them generally consists of just releasing it in a certain direction to cause chaos, then subduing it again through very powerful magic until it needs to be utilized again. Jalmara pledges to help in any way she can to destroy the beast, since they are essentially mindless in comparison to a pure dragon like Gorn, and because they are a risk to all mortal life.
Heading up to the main entry hall and down the hallway toward the control room, the group no longer attempts to be quiet. As they approach, their footsteps become loud enough to hear from the room and the figure ahead seems to notice their presence. In a rush of movement, the figure turns, reaching out a hand, and casts a spell that places a pure black wall at the end of the hallway, blocking the group’s path into the Control Room. The group catches a short glimpse of the man’s face, but not a front view, and he doesn’t seem recognizable. Orik grabs the Lion’s Claw but notes there is no illusion to the black wall. Lelouche recognizes it as an Arcane Lock, and informs the group as such. Approaching the locked wall, Lelouche prepares to use Knock to unlock it, but Falx decides first to speak through the wall since Arcane Locks don’t block sound.
Falx shouts for the man to settle down for a moment, but the man shouts back that his “hands are tied at the moment”. The man asks how the group is still alive, but Falx just repeats the question back through the wall. “I came prepared,” the man says. Falx retorts that they did the same. The man says, “You’re not with them” but Falx explains that he isn’t sure what the man means. After a moment, the man clarifies, “You’re not a member of this facility.” Lelouche speaks up, stopping his preparation for Knock, “No… Are you not a member of this facility?”. The wall disappears and Lelouche picks up his ritual components. The man in the black robe ahead turns to them, “I know that voice.”
This close to the room, the group can see that the man is reaching out in different directions and utilizing a form of telekinetic magic to control multiple controls around the room before returning to the main control board in front of him. Whisper’s figure begins to appear on the man, the black robe and masculine face disappearing to reveal her full outfit, save for the mask which can now be seen tied to her side. Willow smiles at the group.
Falx asks if “we’re containing right now?,” and Willow responds that, “Containing would be wonderful. I’d say right now it would be more accurate to say I’m nearly pushing back the tide. Could one of you kindly move over to that control board over to my left, and another to the levers on my right?”
Lelouche and Falx take the positions described, and Willow begins to explain to Falx the symbols on the control board. He asks what exactly they’re doing, explaining that he can read the symbols but they appear as Common to him, so if he knows what he’s supposed to be doing he can figure it out without specific symbol descriptions. Willow describes that the control board should be a “lens control” and that he needs to cycle through the four different lens configurations in sequence. Falx assures her that he has it and begins doing so. Willow describes to Lelouche that his levers control the focus on the lenses once they’re positioned, and that he needs to complete a sequence she describes with Falx’s timing.
Falx asks about what happened here, and Willow describes that something must have happened just after she arrived, though she locked herself in the Control Room which seems to be an immune area to necromatic effects. She recites that the beast killed one of it’s handlers during the chaos, and that she’s been helping keep it at bay for nearly half a day at this point. Willow asks about Jalmara, and Lelouche describes that she is a friend of theirs who came here with a dragon named Gorn. Willow asks if she “lost him”, attempting to respectfully ask if Gorn had died, but Lelouche assures Willow that Gorn is alive and well. Looking through the large window at the edge of the control room, Orik notes that the necro-dragon is being handled by only two necromancers, who seem to be having a difficult time containing it. The beast is slamming an Arcane Wall with it’s body and claws, and the wall seems to be slowly losing strength.
Upon Orik describing this, Willow describes the situation they are in at the moment. She received a vision of coming here and completing this pattern on the machine, but not what it would do or that the dragon would be released. Until the group arrived, she imagined that the vision, which included a call for her to bring an item to block necromatic curses, would lead to her death. She was beginning to accept that the beast would break free and kill her until the group arrived. Now, they have the ability to help the necromancers contain the beast, but eventually they will have to sleep or will fail in their duties for some other reason. The beast, on the other hand, is no longer mortal in the traditional sense and doesn’t need to eat or sleep, so it would eventually win out even if they all helped in the control room.
Willow explains three options they have, given the situation they’re now in. The first option is to leave the facility quickly, but when the beast is unleashed, it is sure to kill a great number of people, even if it is still young. The second option is to rush down and fight the beast, in which case the necromancers will bind it to their bidding for the battle, so the group will have to fight all three of them. The last option is to allow the beast to break the Arcane Wall and kill the necromancers, then fight it alone, but Jalmara explains that if the beast isn’t bound to a human, it will actually be far more powerful than it would be otherwise.
Willow asks for Jalmara to stay in the Control Room to help her, as they can use the lens control to continue weakening the beast during the fight, particularly since Jalmara won’t be useful in combat in her current state. Willow tosses a head circlet to Jalmara, which seems to begin reverting the effect of the rotting curse slowly. Willow notes that the Control Room has telepathy built in so that the controllers can speak to the handlers at will, so she will stay in contact. Falx attempts to speak to the necromancers below, asking what the situation is. A voice replies, calling the group “Interlopers” and citing that this was their fault. Falx attempts to explain that they are actually helping the necromancers from the Control Room, but the voice booms back, noting that he doesn’t believe Falx and that “you’ve doomed us all”. After some deliberation, the group decides to rush down and fight the beast and the necromancers together.
The group heads out of the Control Room, heading to the main entry lobby and then toward “The Pen”, which leads down to the area below the Control Room window. As they enter, the size of the beast takes them by surprise, as it appears smaller than it appeared from up above. The beast is large enough to fly, though the group recognizes it doesn’t seem to know this since it was most likely kept in this small room it’s entire life. As the lenses circle the room and machines turn on and off around the beast, the group prepares for battle.
300 EXP from role-playing = 300 EXP total (28300 EXP total)