The group of new Eagle's Watch members had suffered a good deal in their efforts to investigate the first of the the three Ivory Labyrinth safehouses they had discovered. Their first concern was to heal as much of their injuries as they could. Jiro used his magic to cure the wounds that Asami and Kirara had incurred. Afterward they ascended to the alchemist's shop and exited into the square.
There they found that the neighbors who had gone to bury the weaponmaker Logan beside the grave of his son had returned. When they told the local shopkeepers what they had found beneath Topaz Solutions, the neighbors were so grateful that they prepared a feast to serve to the five comrades. Jiro was disappointed that the people doing they cooking would not allow him to help.
After they had eaten there was music and dancing. While this small celebration was going on, a messenger came from Defender's Heart and delivered a message to Runa. She called her companions over to hear what it said, which attracted the attention of the local residents. Everyone fell silent while they waited to hear the contents of the message. When Runa opened it, she realized it was actually addressed to Aegronius and immediately handed it to him. Aegronius decided that he had nothing to hide and read the message aloud.
The message came from Irabeth, telling him that his friend Darla, who the companions had left at Horgus Gwerm's residence, had been seriously injured and was now being cared for at Defender's Heart. This news dampened the mood a bit, and the companions decided to return to Defender's Heart to find out more about Darla's condition.
When they arrived at the new headquarters of the Eagle Watch, they were met by Irabeth, who told them that while Darla was too badly injured to give much information she had described an attack at Gwerm's house. Darla had suffered an injury to her eye, one arm, and had lost part of one leg. She had also been afflicted by some poison that seemed to be demonic in origin. She had managed to tell them that some sort of demon had attacked her, which by its description resembled a babau, but it was impossible that a lone unarmed person could have escaped a babau, and Darla had clearly put up a fierce fight as evidenced by the injuries to her knuckles. She had also managed to scrape off some skin from her assailant, which had been examined and did seem to come from something like a babau yet different.
The group chose to remain at the inn for the night rather than continue on to the next safehouse location. That night Zosta received a parcel containing a leather sack which emitted a metallic clink when she lifted it. When she put her hand into the sack she couldn't reach the items inside and the sack seemed much larger inside that its exterior appeared. She upended the sack and a pair of gauntlets fell out. They could be worn as brass knuckles, but along the sides parallel with the edges of the wearer's palms were blades, so that the wearer could choose to slash her opponent rather than punch. Inscribed on the knuckles were the words "Little Sister". When Zosta read these words aloud the gauntlets were sheathed in flames, to her delight. She also realized that the gauntlets were made of cold iron. With the gauntlets was a note. Zosta opened it and recognized the scrawled handwriting as that of Rhino, the demon who had converted to the side of good and helped train her and her companions in methods to fight other demons. The note was brief, stating only that it was good Zosta was well, that her parents were also well, and that Rhino would see her soon. She realized that Rhino must have made the gauntlets himself.
The next morning Zosta showed the gauntlets to Asami, who told her that she would be able to invoke the flames for a short time thrice each day. In the meantime, Aegronius learned that Darla was awake and no longer feverish. He went at once to see her. Darla told him that Garvin, the mercenary who had agreed to protect Horgus Gwerm's mansion, had suddenly transformed into a demonic creature and seemed to go mad with frenzy. She thought that Gwerm had escaped, but she had only managed to do so by climbing out a window that the Garvin-demon couldn't fit through. Her description of Garvin's transformation contained elements of both a dretch and a babau, leading to the conclusion that he had become some sort of hybrid.
Aegronius joined his companions at breakfast and told them what he had learned from Darla. The tale of the demon hybrid and Garvin's transformation left them all confused. How could a hybrid of dretch and babau exist? Had Garvin been a demon all along or had he somehow been possessed?
Once they had completed their morning repast the five comrades decided to continue investigating the Ivory Labyrinth's safehouses. Their next target was the Tower of Estrod, which had served the city of Kenabres as a library and research laboratory. As they left Defender's Heart behind, they saw the body of a looter hanging from a gibbet. Irabeth had told them that the Eagle's Watch was bringing in an executioner, as looting and helping the demon cultists were crimes deemed punishable by death.
The Tower of Estrod had once been a five-story structure, but the demons' attack on the city had destroyed the upper three floors and left them as a pile of rubble next to the circular tower. The companions had found a pass phrase in the documents they had acquired. They decided to bluff their way into the tower by pretending to be cult members. Jiro spoke the phrase, "I have new materials for the archive" in a surprisingly gruff voice, and they were admitted by an armored guard who was not trying at all to hide his affiliation with the cult of Baphomet.
Once inside the tower they could see that it had been even more badly damaged than was visible from outside. Sky could be seen through the broken second floor overhead. The guard who admitted them was at first somewhat dismissive, telling them not to disturb his commander, Faxon. Then Aegronius noticed something hiding up above, and Runa intimidated the guard into telling them that it was Faxon's familiar. He was so cowed that he seemed to think Runa was higher ranking in the cult than himself and he told her the group should go downstairs and report to Faxon. Jiro's monkey clambered up a pillar, while the rest crossed a walkway flanked by two rubble-filled pits and passed a stack of crates before reaching the staircase.
At the bottom of the stair they saw a room bisected by a wall, which held a set of double doors that were presently closed. In the part of the underground chamber that they could see were only more crates and a table that was evidently being used as a desk. Just as they arrived, the double doors opened, giving them a brief glimpse into a mostly empty chamber, though Aegronius saw a white bed with a dark stain at its center. A tiefling man stepped out from the other room and shut the doors behind him with the click of a lock.
The tiefling then told the group to turn over any loot they had acquired and give him a report. Zosta tried to size him up. He appeared to be doing the same to her, and by his expression he judged that Runa and Asami were the greatest danger to him. To stall for time the party members began reaching into their packs. Aegronius tried to lure the tiefling closer by showing him the magical ranseur he had recently obtained, but the tiefling only told him to put it on the crates. Then Runa took out her sword, pretending to show it to him as loot, and sliced at the tiefling.
The tiefling immediately cast a spell, which Asami recognized as a curse, and reached out to touch Zosta. Asami was relieved when Zosta appeared unaffected by the curse. Then a small winged creature landed on a crate and breathed out a blast of flame that engulfed all of the comrades. Asami flung a splintered spear at the tiefling. Zosta directed several fierce blows at the small creature, which she recognized as a fire mephit, and though she couldn't harm it with the flames from her new gauntlets it took only a few strikes to slay the creature. An instant later two cultists came running down the stairs. Jiro used a wand to summon a katana of force to combat them.
The tieflng had been startled by Asami's unusual spell, and cast another spell of his own which she knew could draw the life force from the victim and transfer it to the caster, He stepped forward and before she could react he touched her, sucking away almost all of her life energy and leaving her so weak that she toppled to the floor. Runa at once channeled divine energy that healed Asami just enough to bring her back from the brink of death. Zosta raced up the stairs, dodging past the two cultists and vaulted to the floor beside the fallen Asami, grabbing her limp body and dragging her toward the desk in the corner of the room.
While Jiro engaged the first of the two guards, Runa, Aegronius, and Zosta fought the tiefling. Jiro summoned fire to his hands. The tiefling cast another spell, which Asami was able to recognize by its verbal components even though she couldn't see him from her vantage on the ground. She identified the spell as one that would render the victim permanently blind. He tried to touch Zosta but she again resisted his magic. A moment later the mephit revealed that it was not dead when it shot a ray of fire at the group surrounding its master. It missed its aim, though, and the flames hit the tiefling, though his demonic heritage had made him immune to some of the burns caused by the mephit's flames. Asami then raised herself up enough to lift her wooden sword and sent an unerring missile of magical force at the tiefling.. Aegronius had abandoned his ranseur and drawn his sword, and he now stabbed the tiefling deeply, causing his foe to fall unconscious to the floor.
Jiro was still fighting the two cultists with his katana of force and his flames. The mephit tried to heat Runa's armor but failed and then flew away. Asami took the opportunity to drink a curative potion. Zosta charged up the stairs again to attack the second cultist and kicked him down the staircase. He was dead when he came to rest at the bottom. His comrade tried to flee but Jiro and Runa both attacked him and he joined his fallen mate.
When the cultists were all overcome, Jiro used a wand and his own healing energy to restore Asami. He then searched the two guards and the tiefling, gathering up all their possessions. The tiefling carried two keys. He also had booby trapped himself by carrying a scorpion, which stung Jiro but not seriously. One of the keys proved to open the double doors. These opened into a room that had little in it beyond a chest and a bed. A brazen head of a minotaur hung on the wall. Asami determined that the brazen head was magical, as were some of the contents of the chest. The stain that Aegronius had seen on the bed proved to be blood. As there was no one in the bedroom, the five companions realized that the tiefling must have been Faxon. He was not quite dead, so the companions decided to bind and gag him and take him back to Irabeth for questioning.
Asami detected divination magic emanating from the brazen head, which made her anxious that Faxon's masters might be scrying on the tower. But the magic did not seem strong enough to be a scrying spell. Runa threw the coverlet from the bed over the minotaur head. The second key taken from Faxon opened the chest, which held a wand, a pair of magical bracers, an enchanted cloak, a large amount of coins, five silver holy symbols of Iomedae, several swords, and a broken phylactery. Asami was unable to identify what spell the wand held, but Runa discovered that it could grant the blessings of the gods to a weapon. Asami determined that the phylactery had been magical before it was broken and would also have granted divine blessings to the wearer.
There were also some papers and a note within the chest, which provided some information the Eagle Watch would find very useful in combating the cultists. The note was addressed to Faxon and appeared to have been written before the attack on Kenabres, as it congratulated him on his new position and told him that Kenabres would fall soon, as well as mentioning some other names that the comrades had heard before, such as Vorlesh and Minago, who had signed the note.
Runa tried to learn more about the brazen head but was unsuccessful. Jiro felt that it would provide blessings to cult members. The group members then decided to destroy it rather than take it back to Defender's Heart. After they smashed it to bits they left the underground rooms, for the other crates contained nothing but poor-quality foodstuffs. Bohgong locked the outer doors from inside and then climbed over the wall to meet them.
Back at Defender's Heart, they were given a shared reward of 2,000 gold pieces for having captured Faxon. The other items they had taken from the cultists they were allowed to keep or sell as they chose.
2 potions of cure light wounds
2 scrolls of cause fear
2 scrolls of comprehend languages
2 masterwork chain shirts
2 bottles of unholy water
wand of cure moderate wounds, 9 charges (Jiro)
12 +1 crossbow bolts
bracers of armor +1
cloak of resistance +1
2 masterwork scimitars
5 silver holy symbols of Iomedae
2,310 copper pieces
759 silver pieces
122 gold pieces
11 platinum pieces
Next: Episode 11, We Must Destroy the Stone