Vatex, Dziga, Emeris, and Early leave the gatehouse after resting and return to the fourth level of the Pythoness House. They explore the battlements outside and find a rooftop garden, from which they access a small ledge where they find a small iron key. Then they return to Radanna’s chamber and rise to the fifth level of the keep. Dziga finds an old stash of poisons on a bookshelf.
Ascending to the sixth level, the company finds a ritual room covered in symbols associated with the summoning of demons, conjuring dark power, and other evil acts. Hidden within one symbol they find a hidden switch that opens a small compartment, in which they find a ring bearing the symbol of a broken square. Vatex knows the symbol as that of the Brotherhood of Elan, an obscure anti-Empire group. Early recalls that Itumar was looking at the Brotherhood’s political pamphlet. The group speculates as to the possible connection between the denizens of the Pythoness House and the Brotherhood.
They take a bridge from the central tower to the western tower. As Dziga searches the door for booby traps, a monstrous thing crashes through it, attacking them in a fury. It is brutish, stupid thing with two heads, three arms, and pipes and tubing wound throughout its body…the Cobbled Man! It grapples with the rogue and hurls him from the bridge, where he crashes below on a flower pot in the rooftop garden thirty feet below. Early engages the brute in melee while Vatex fires his rifle and Emeris conjures his shadowy flames around it. The warblade-fighter keeps the Cobbled Man at bay for a few moments, until he too is heaved off the bridge. Vatex sinks another round into it as Dziga returns to the fight, tumbling past the flailing aberration. He spins and sinks the Asura dagger into its back. The dead Cobbled Man falls off the bridge, landing on the prone warblade below.
Early finds half of the spiral device Taunell had mentioned, stitched inside the Cobbled Man’s shirt. They proceed to explore the Cobbled Man’s abode in the western tower. From the roof, they see a goat-headed demon watching them from the central tower. Saharasahla contacts Emeris through the thoughtstone, and tells him that it is “earthbound demon” called a rhodintor, a servant of the Ancients – very powerful and devious. They fire upon it from the western tower, and it seems to mock their attacks until Vatex smashes it with a perfect shot from his spyglass rifle. The terrible chest wound spurts sizzling black blood.
The rhodintor flees to the third level, powering itself up with magic along the way. It sends a couple of hellhounds to harry to group but they are dispatched quickly. The group pursues, consuming potions of strength and dexterity and Dziga downing a potion of invisibility. They square off with it on the fourth floor, where draws its shield and axe and seems excited to fight as they surround it. Emeris reaches in to drain its strength with shadow magic, but the rhodintor shoves him aside with his shield. Early crouches low to evade a heavy swing, and the rhodintor carries the momentum to deal a grievous blow to Vatex. The rhodintor then drives its horns into the urban ranger’s guts, nearly killing him! Dziga appears and strikes at the demon’s flank, staggering the demon. Early uses the opening to channel his power through the Vajra, the wolf spirit inside him lending him strength for a devastating cut that cleanly decapitates the awful foe. They take its fine weapon and shield, and Early takes the head as a trophy.
The group returns to the central tower and explores the disgusting rhodintor nest, but find nothing. The only area unexplored is the northeast tower, but they can find no access. A suggestion from Early leads them to use the small iron key on a secret door in the ceiling of the room beneath the tower. There they find the brothel’s secret treasury – a chest with thousands of silver and gold coins and other loot, as well as the other half of the spiral key.
Emeris assumes that with the rhodintor dead, they might be able to leave the Pythoness House. They find the wall of force is indeed no longer there. Although eager to explore whatever is beneath the old keep and hopefully find the weapons of chaos and the allkey, they know they will be better off if they can sell their loot and stock up on more gear before proceeding. They retire to the Dragonsfire Inn until morning.
Next: The companions prepare to explore beneath the Pythoness House! Will they find reward or disaster?
Random Elanian Factoid: Rastor is a massive liontaur weaponsmith who runs a shop in the Undercity Market that specializes in masterwork and magic weapons. Having worked with magic weapons for years, he can look at any armament, heft it, swing it a few times, and tell its exact magic enhancement. He can even identify some other special qualities of weapons. He does this for his customer’s at no charge – if he cannot identify it, he refers folk to Myraeth’s Oddities.