After resting up. the heroes are awakened by an agitated Alpha who tells them that the ‘floating brains’ are aware of their presence and are coming to punish them.
Moving out into the hallway, the group sees a quintet of what appears to be floating brains, with large, bird-like beaks on them and tentacles hanging beneath them as they float up the hallway.
Two of the ‘brains’ goes through a doorway as the group attacks the others. The two who peeled off attempt a flanking maneuver but with little success. The strange creatures are quickly dispatched and the group decides to explore the upper areas, and ask Alpha if he would like to accompany them. He agrees that he would like to see more with his new friends and is given a spare set of Ivan’s clothing to wear.
Climbing the stairs, Kar magically seals the door that opens on what appears to be a residential area for the serpent folk and they continue upwards. Peering out of the slightly opened doorway, the group hears a voice from the other side invite them out to join the speaker.
They see many kobolds moving about on this level, and standing before them is a Dragonborn wearing black chainmail and wearing what is an obviously magical warhammer (although it is not drawn) and with a shield upon his back. He introduces himself as Klarent and invites the group to join him for tea and snacks in their dining hall.
As they follow him, they see many more kobolds here and Klarent informs the group that he and the kobolds reside on this level, and that they serve Queen Xarisa, who would like to meet them, if they are interested. When asked about the Kobolds and the Dragonborn that raided Rivenscroft, Klarent admitted that Rhadalas was his brother and that the kobolds were from this nest. He does inform them however, that Rhadalas had been told to go get the mine working, and had not been told to do it by taking slaves from nearby settlements. He says that he holds no ill will towards the party regarding their actions and informs them that the surviving Kobolds refer to Ivan as the ‘Naked Giant’. He also tells them that the queen has been observing them since they arrived, via scrying mirrors.
At this point, he tells them that the queen is ready to see them, if they wish to follow him up to her audience chamber.
Taking the group up another level, they exit upon a level with a large, open area, with a number of serpent folk of various types milling about and kobolds running about as well. Going through the guarded doors into the audience chamber, they are introduced to Queen Xarisa, who appears to be a very beautiful woman with a slightly yellowgreen complexion and light scales on her skin.
She greets the group and asks them to join her on the comfortable cushions laid about the floor. Sitting with the group, she answers their questions with what appears to be forthright honesty, telling them that she and her people found and settled this complex some time back, occupying the uppermost 6 levels, leaving the level the party entered from empty and giving Alpha his privacy since he decided to remain in his area. She tells them the lower levels are flooded and controlled by a creature she calls an Aboleth, and tells them that there are also fresh water sea hags, sharks and a number of water-logged undead of what are most likely the prior inhabitants of the compound.
She explains that the Ring of Scale is a group of draconian races whose goal is to establish a recognized kingdom in the area from where the lair is to some way westward of their location, and to establish trade relations with the humans and others from the South.
The group spends a few days with the Queen, discussing trade and race relations among other matters. She seems to be quite taken with Ivan and spends many hours in private conversations with him. Klarent gifts Kar with a magical handcrossbow that fires radiant energy and appears to be empowered by the small black ‘box’ they found in the abandoned armory.
When the group asks about the surrounding area, especially the island shown on the map they retrieved from the crypt, Klarent tells them that some of his ‘little ones’ have seen an island that is cloaked in what appears to be a permanent mist when they have gone fishing or to trade with the lizardmen tribes in the Blackmoor Fens. He and the Queen both say that the tribes in the Fens have been agitated lately, which rings true with rumors the group heard during their travels north.
Deciding to go check out the tower, the group accepts Xarisa’s offer to disassemble a few of the beds from the empty level to take with them, and make arrangements to establish trade with the nest and also accept a chest containing a weregild ‘apology’ from the queen in regards to the actions of Rhadalas.
Upon reaching the ground level, they find a number of dead bodies, including the leader of the bandits that attacked them on the road north. Joan tells them that her former leader and his ‘friends’ attacked her and the stone man and that the two of them managed to kill the five interlopers. Ivan teaches her about gravedigging and not leaving dead bodies near the camp, and they then head towards the lakeshore.
Finding a pair of rowboats where Klarent told them to look, the group establishes a camp for Alpha, Joan and the Stone man to guard the horses and gear while the rest of them row into the visible mist. During the night, they are attacked by a large, bug-like creature that pops out of the ground. Defeating the creature, they decide to investigate it’s tunnel to see if it is alone or if it has a lair nearby. Finding a vertical shaft, Tash drops a stone down into the dark and is about to rappel down when they all hear the sound of several creatures moving upwards. Running back to the surface, they are attacked by two more creatures the same size as the first one and one which is much bigger. After a fierce fight, the creatures are defeated and the group drags the carcasses away and relocates their camp a short distance from where it was originally.
They take a boat across through the fog to the island that rises from the lake. As they approach the island, they can see the tower from the water, so Using Ivan’s spyglass, they have a look and see what appears to be two ogres in livery, wielding halberds, guarding the main doors.
Beaching the boat, they approach quietly, taking note that the vegetation as they get closer to the tower is withered and in many cases quite dead. Getting within sight of the main door, it appears that the two ogres are no longer among the living, but rather, appear to be zombies. They also hear what sounds like Yvaran music playing from inside the tower. As the ogres react to their presence, Kar blasts them and the door with a fireball, burning both zombies and blasting the door inward in smoldering pieces.
The music from inside can be heard more clearly now, and as the heroes enter the tower, they see zombies dressed in tattered finery dancing to the tunes being played by a zombified band. Outraged, Brother Thomas calls upon the power of Oberon, reducing most of the dancing undead to piles of dust, while nearly a dozen, seemingly unaffected, walk arm in arm through a door at the other end of the room. Before the heroes can react to this, the undead creature leading the band, apparently Not merely a zombie, turns and berates the heroes for interrupting the festivities the Master has requested. A quick fireball from Kar turns the band to ashes and scorches the bandleader, who is apparently more resilient, as he draws his instrument and moves forward, letting loose with a blast of music that staggers Ivan, who returns the attack with a devastating blow, slicing the undead musician in twain.
The heroes exit through the door at the end of the room and find the undead who had exited the room sitting around a dinner table as if waiting to be served food. They are quickly dispatched and a quick search of the dining area and kitchen reveal no other foes here. Leaving the dining area and looking up at the balcony surrounding the ballroom, more ogre guards are spotted. Quickly mounting the stairs, the heroes dispatch the ogre zombies with blade and magic.
Tired, the heroes decide to catch their breath on the balcony before deciding to go up in the tower or check out the stairs that lead downwards. As they decide to press on, they spot a furtive figure peering through a partially open door at the other end of the balcony. Their decision made, the heroes open the door and follow the stairs leading upwards. Opening a pair of double doors on the next level of the tower, they come upon half a dozen well-dressed, well armed beings, identified as Wights by Brother Thomas. Conflict ensues and the heroes manage to best the wights. As they discuss the wisdom of withdrawing to rest, a sound is heard from overhead and looking up, they are greeted by the sight of several naked, fanged females crawling across the ceiling towards them
(this is where this session ends. . . to be continued in the next entry)