The party spends the next three days in luxurious comfort, but they are not alone in the manor house along with Tiadora are four others that share their domicile.
Elise Zadaria (Human, Winter Witch)
Dostan Alfson (Half-Elf, Barbarian)
Tallus “Trak” Rackburn (Human, Ranger)
Titus “Trik” Rackburn (human, Cleric)
On the evening of the third day the party is summoned to the Masters study.
“Have you enjoyed your gifts? The iron circlets allow you to move amongst your enemies as one of them. The silver amulets will remind you of your true loyalties. The other items – well, you need them now.” “You have done well to escape Branderscar and accept my offer. However, you are still not ready for my service. Tiadora will lead you to the basement of this domicile. There you will find nine chambers each more dangerous than the last. Somewhere hidden within these chambers is a pendant of silver and sapphire. Recover the pendant and bring it to me. Let nothing and no one stand in your way.”
“Have you enjoyed your gifts? The iron circlets allow you to move amongst your enemies as one of them. The silver amulets will remind you of your true loyalties. The other items – well, you need them now.”
“You have done well to escape Branderscar and accept my offer. However, you are still not ready for my service. Tiadora will lead you to the basement of this domicile. There you will find nine chambers each more dangerous than the last. Somewhere hidden within these chambers is a pendant of silver and sapphire. Recover the pendant and bring it to me. Let nothing and no one stand in your way.”
He stood up and looked out of the manor house window across the grey moor. “It’s almost dusk. You have until dusk tomorrow to bring me my prize. Do not fail me.”
The cardinal then regained his seat and Tiadora beckoned to the party leading the way to the basement.
Upon reaching the basement the party moved into the first room which had an inscription on the archway leading into the room. “Deception is a tool. Self-Deception is death. Decieve always thy enemy but never thyself.” The room beyond was a plain room with one door lit by a an oil lamp hanging in the center of the room. Quickly moving across the room Zeitram barely jumped clear of the pit trap set before the door. Looking at the pit filled with blunted spikes he looked upon an inscription in the wall. “Thou wert deceived. Pain is thy reward.” After careful searching the party found the door in front of the pit was false and a secret niche in the northern wall containing a glowing piece of alchemical ice. They then found a concealed door on the southern wall opening to a short hallway at which a door waited at the end.
Inscribed on the door was “Following the herd is for fools. Fear not their icy derision. Instead, fear only thy Infernal Lord.” Opening the door the party found a plain stone chamber with a door in each wall. On the floor was discovered tracks of at least a dozen people moving toward the east and south doors. The west door was covered in a violet fungus that radiated cold. Cervantes informed the party that it was a creature called “Violet Fungus” that feeds off of heat and would grow double in size if a single torch was brought near it. Using the alchemical ice obtained in the previous room the violet fungus was destroyed and inscribed on the door was “Thou hast made thine own path”. Walking down a rather long hallway the party encountered yet another door with another inscription “Know your enemy. Shatter all that blinds you and then burn thy adversary to ashes.”
Upon opening the door Zeitram was met with an inky darkness that his sunrod could not penetrate. Moving up Kharon and Raphael were able to see a chamber with two other doors and a pedestal in the center holding a black rock. Kharon moved into the room to inspect the rock when he was suddenly attacked from behind by what Cervantes identified as a Vampiric Mist. After defeating the vampiric mist and shattering the piece of obsidian radiating the darkness spell the party moved to the north door, untrapped and unlocked they opened and moved down the short path to yet another door with an inscription
“Cruelty is a tool not a pastime. Be ruthless to thy enemy but reward those who serve thee well.” upon opening the door they looked upon a plain stone room without exit and a torturers rack sitting in the center. Searching the room they found nothing but the very functional torturers rack. Turning to leave Raphael heard a faint noise and upon investigating found a secret alcove with a frightened young man dressed in knights livery.
Upon questioning he said his name was Timeon, Squire of Sir Balin. The party assured him that he was safe and beckoned him to sit on the rack to receive healing. After he reluctantly sat Raphael commanded Kharon to seize him. Kharon quickly strapped Timeon onto the rack where he was questioned. Timeon told the party that he was accompanying his master when they were set upon by a large band of brigands. He was knocked unconscious and upon awaking found that he and his master had been captured by an evil worshiper of Asmodeus. Timeon blindly fled and secreted himself in the hidden alcove where he heard the follower of Asmodeus looking for him and heard him speaking of the terrors of the dungeon that he was in. Afterwards they continued the torture despite his pleading for them to stop and then Cervantes cut his throat.
Going back to the room of darkness the party moved through the eastern door, down a hallway stopping at a door inscribed with “The chosen are revealed by their might. The weak deserve no sympathy.”Upon opening the door they found another plain stone chamber with one other door in the southern wall. Sitting in the center of the chamber was a pair of metal cobras. The party engaged the mythral cobras and destroyed them.
Moving to the door the find the inscription “Suffer not the fool. Stupidity is our faith’s cardinal sin.”. Opening the door the party beheld a plain stone room with a stairway leading out the east wall and a podium in the center of the room. Approaching the podium they found a pendant of a silver dragon with sapphire eyes. Not trusting the ease with which they’ve found the pendant they began to search finding a secret passage in the west wall, revealing another hallway. Moving down the hall they found another door with another inscription, “Secrecy is our greatest ally. Exposure brings death.” Upon opening the door, a sudden shrieking started as it was hit by Zeitram’s sunrod. The party retreated from the room waiting for several moments. Moving back to the room the party discovered four water-logged corpses standing wielding great axes.
Once again the party retreated back to the room and waited for the Draugr to arrive, and upon arrival engaged the party in fierce combat. After several tense moments the four Draugr were defeated.
Afterwards the party destroyed the shrieker and moved through the stone room filled with coffins the Draugr occupied to another door leading to a short hallway, leading to a door with another inscription on it, Serve thy master well and be rewarded." Next to the door hung a iron ring on a wooden peg. Upon opening the door the party found another simple stone room with a bed and standing near the door a single armed man.
The party had used their iron circlets to assume the forms of Squire Timeon and several Talingardian soldiers and told him that they had come to rescue him. As soon as Sir Balin moved into the next room they surrounded and attacked him. During the fighting Sir Balin disabled both Ashe and Zeitram but was himself disabled, at which point Raphael stabilized Sir Balin took his holy symbol of silver and sapphire and dragged him to the torture rack at which point they dowsed him with lamp oil and Raphael said “Sir Balin you have been found guilty of crimes against us, you are therefore sentenced to death by fire.” and lit him on fire. Before expiring Sir Balin said strangely calm and clear, “May Mitra bring vengeance upon you.”
After slaying Sir Balin the party returned to the Master’s study
“You’ve returned.” The high priest holds the trinket and pauses as if in deep contemplation. He watches the holy symbol glitter in the light. “A pretty enough thing, eh?”he muses. This is a holy symbol of Mitra in particular the sort favored by the Knights of Alerion. Perhaps you already knew that.“
”Remember this symbol. This is the mark of those who destroyed our faith and sought to banish all traces of the worship of our Father from these shores. These, my friends, are your enemies."
Tossing the holy symbol to Cervantes he continues “Keep it. It may aid you in disguising yourself.”
He then smiled. _You have done well. Escaping from Branderscar, slaughtering Sir Balin… yes, you are worthy. Now let us complete your training…"
For three long months the party trains under the close tutelage of The Master honing them into instruments of vengeance. He is a brilliant teacher, learning quickly that success brings reward and failure delivers them to the hellish tortures of Tiadora.