The Wild Bunch double-times it East up the final tunnel…
A call comes in over the Sending Stone from the Captain:
“We’re ascending shortly. Your new fish friends and that Dwarf came through…brought back enough rough lumber and iron to push through all the way to Chaff, Gods-willing. Ril, Crude, and that gull o’ Urixes are still sitting pretty an’ quiet. What’s your current location…? Right, well…see you soon then, yeah? Try not to go picking any fights without us til’ you get back…”
The tunnel finally leads you all to a tower-like structure. At the back of the circular room sits a glass, tubed elevator, shooting up a hundred feet above to disappear into the ceiling. Nearby, poles on either side of the glass elevator function as Yuan-ti “stairs”, climbing up and out of the building to now visible night sky.
Water drips steadily down the sides of the poles. It’s raining heavily outside.
In the center of the room, an all-out brawl is occurring. Three hulking, dark haired men, obviously related, are in the middle of a brutal struggle. You recognize Jared Edgar, hurling obscenities before taking cover behind a pillar as a Fireball *BLASTS* out towards him. Strangely, you all find yourselves able to understand the men’s bizarre jargon as they battle between themselves:“Come out, ya poncy bastard! Don’t wanna kill ya, just can’t have you hurting the Fair Lady…”
“Yer brains are scrambled, horse’s ass! She got in yer skull! Snap out of it, fore’ I have to *BREAK* you out of it!”
“Wish we didn’t disagree on this point, Jerry, I really do. But if you’re really gonna harm a child, I don’t know how you expect us to sit back an’ watch...”
Jared Edgar curses some more, before looking over and seeing the Wild Bunch arrive. The man looks haggard, but incredibly relieved that you’re all here. You can see he’s traded out his spear for a large net.”Thankgods you’re here! Don’t worry about me…I got them, my brothers would never really hurt me! No time to waste then…I’ll cover you while you climb up, just take care of the little Witch!”
The brothers are so focused on each other that they barely even notice your presence. It isn’t until Arno finally yells out that The Sorcerer (Aaron Edgar) turns to look in your direction…and is immediately struck in the face with the rehabilitating magic!
It takes the man a few moments to find himself again, but as the Paladin (David Edgar) suddenly *DASHES* across the room, shouting for his brother to stand down or be brought down, the Sorcerer reacts out of simple instinct. With a familiar incantation and flick of the wrist, the Sorcerer follows Arno’s lead, striking his charging brother between the eyes with a *HIT* of dispelling arcane energy. The Paladin suddenly sways to a halt, looking dumbstruck and lost.
Soon, Jared comes out from behind cover, and the brothers all exchange a quick bout of hard to follow, loudly-hectoring rough love: Jared roundly chastises his brothers for being easily led knobs, and both of the Charmed brothers gruffly making apologies for being such simple jackasses. The pleasantries done, the three Edgar brothers turn to your group, expectant and quietly *FURIOUS*.
Jared nods, a gesture filled with deep respect, at Arno, and then their friends. ”Thanks fer’ finally coming around…looks like I owe you again. So… guess that puts you in charge, right?” Jared Edgar puts away the net and takes back out his sharpened spear, bouncing the tip menacingly inside his palm. He stares up above, as a sudden flash along the sky indicates lightning nearby. ”Shall we? the man says, his voice absolutely dripping venom…
The Paladin David sidles up to the front, telling Arno everything he remembers:“From what I can tell, it’s just Mitchum, his *FOUL* little girl, and that dopey Wizard and Gnome pair. Murtogg and Mullroy are the only actual Guards still left, after us. Oh! And that dratted Cat, I suppose.”
From nearby, the Sorcerer Aaron shakes his head in disgust. ”Marlowe and Mike are stone-cold morons. I’d be surprised if either of the shitheels even realized they’d been kidnapped last we left them, much less that they were in actual danger…”
David nods his head in agreement. ”Yeah, they had them looking into the Map at first, but now that they don’t need it, think the only reason they’re keeping those two chuckleheads around is so that *you guys* don’t get to have them.”
Aaron steps over. ”They were supposed to meet up with someone she knew up here, a “friend”. Some old Hermit who she had wreck-up the place and ready the Wyverns in advance. After that, I got the impression she was gonna have the wee-Dragons scout out the channels just one more time, looking for any sign of you, or Rax, or the Ship. Think she was pretty *horked off*, that she hadn’t managed to either cripple the Curse or get one of the “Treasures” back from y’all in this whole time…”
David shrugs his shoulder. ”…think that’s all we got. Plan was, as soon as the Wyverns returned, they’re headed for some tower on the other end of the Half-Moon Mountains to “get the next steps started.” " David rubs his bearded chin, seeing if he’s forgotten anything. ”…the Little Girl did act a bit nervous to meet up with the Hermit. Kept complaining to Mitchum that he might not be too happy to see them…”
Aaron looks over at this curiously. ”Oh yeah? Mitchum say anything back? Haven’t heard the man speak in days…just lumbering around behind his daughter, like her bigger, *spookier* "pet"…”
The team climbs the dripping poles towards the top of the Tower…
A hundred feet vertically, you come to a small, circular chamber, windows decorating nearly every wall. Two doors, both slightly ajar, sit on either side of the two climbing poles you arrived up. In the near dark of Midnight, it becomes obvious that it isn’t raining quite as heavily as you’d first thought. Rather, a heavy section of tiles and several gutters have broken off from the roof, each landing just-so as to send a steady stream of water down the poles to the room below….(The place is protected, and shelter…but not by much)
In the center of the room is another pole, which goes twenty feet up and leads to a scenic overlook balcony just over your heads. From there, one would have a fantastic view of the Grey Maw, even with the light rain falling…
The air feels electric. And not just with the tension. The same as one can smell rain, this group can smell the potential static lightning dancing within the atmosphere around them.
From outside, along the deck of the summit structure, you can make out a chessboard of different shapes: fish, and snakes. The courtyard is absolutely dotted with them. From somewhere to the Northeast, you can hear a conversation taking place in the light rain. Half of it sounds like an argument…the other half, like a small child attempting to reason with a deranged animal…
“LIED! YOU *LIED* TO ME! ALL MY LIFE, FOR YOU!…and you’ve REPLACED me?!?” (A man, elderly, possibly senile or deranged. He sounds like he has just suffered the most ultimate betrayal…is maybe mere seconds from violence…)
A distraught, familiar voice (Marlowe the Magnificent), huffs and puffs and attempts to get a word in, to no avail.
“…not like that, Irnas, and you know that.” (You’ve heard that voice before…at dinners, following behind the Governor, talking to birds off the balcony of the Ship. But…the inflection and tone are *all wrong*, betraying the creature for who she truly is. No small child speaks like that.) “I’ve simply brought support for our cause…nothing more. If we want to charge *both* of the…”
“NO! nnn-nn-NO! I’ve heard about you…WHAT YOU DO! The spirts, they whispered, told me…YOU EAT MEN! Swallow, t-t-their Magic…t-ttheir POTENTIAL! THEN TURN ON THEM WHEN YOU HAVE WHAT YOU WANT!” The Mage pants, a deranged man thinking he has finally found Truth. “…and now…you’ll have what you want from ME, won’t you? W-why would you still help fix my mind, when you already…”
“You’re being unreasonable, Irnas,” Constance whispers consolingly, voice dripping with honey. “People exaggerate, stories start to tell themselves! There has to be some trust of good intentions if we are to….shit. Shit, they’re here.” (You can feel it…the Little Witch senses you somehow…) “…well, maybe for the best. Two birds…*COME OUT, WILD BUNCH! COME OUT AND PL-A-AY!* Bring your men and the Sword, and maybe I won’t just *KILL* this sonuvabitch right here…”
Much louder this time, a distraught Marlowe the Magnificent, bellows and pleads and attempts to get a word in to no avail…
Nervous at the sudden and unexpected intrusion, the Hermit takes a few paces back, crossing his hands across his chest as he murmurs a quick incantation. A faint, blue light envelops the elderly mage, wrapping itself around his body like a glowing shroud.
The Little Witch goads the emotional man. "Now's your *big chance*, Irnas...these people have the Sword. Take it from them...and it's yours!"
Irnas's jaw gapes, and his eyebrows climb several inches up his forehead. "And you...you...you won't replace me?"
The sinister little girl smirks, and gives a barely perceptible, slow *nod* to the towering shape of the Governor behind her...
”Constance” chuckles darkly as she sees pinpricks of arcane light *FLASHING* from across the field of statues. But she isn’t laughing long…the Warlock’s aim is scarily on point. Both Blasts catch the Little Witch right between the ribs, smashing and shoving her into the railing, mere inches from a steep fall (-11 damage (resistance) ). The little girl’s mouth curls into a cold, inhuman sneer. Nearby, that cat of hers has fallen from her arms to the stone below, caterwauling horribly as it turns to look in the direction of the Tiefling…