Well, today was certainly interesting.
After my meeting with Mezlia, I joined back up with the rest of the gang, who had decided that we should ask Book for information about our guide and how she came to be a prisoner. As usual, he was very direct with his answers, and assured us that he knew nothing of the matter. When we shared our distrust of Amil, Book made it very clear that Amil was unable to act against Book’s wishes (a little creepy).
We also learned that Book makes the ink for the tower with the aid of spectral servants, who do the pouring and mixing under his direction. As he has been doing, Daevon took a sample of the ink and compared it to the sample from our dessert a couple nights ago, and it was a match! That told us that someone in the tower had poisoned us… not very helpful.
As we were finishing this line of evidence, Amil returned from his excursion with two humanoids he was leading on leashes. The “reagents”.
It was time to take more drastic measures. Daevon convinced Amil to join us in our rooms, where we bound Amil and forced him to answer some questions about recent events. He told us that he had been given Toshiko by Braxtol, and that he knew nothing about the captive guide. This confirmed our suspicions about Braxtol. (Also, Braxtol apparently has an invisible imp).
As we questioned him, he grew anxious, as Book compelled him to bring the “reagents”, which he had already done. At this point, Lucky told us that he had found the prisoners, determined that they were terrified, and were certain they would be killed. Being Lucky, his response was to release them.
The tower’s servants informed us that Braxtol had left, so we prepared to search for him. The bulk of the preparation was figuring out what to do with Amil. We couldn’t just let him go, because he was clearly doing evil for Book, but I was unwilling to leave him tied up, because he wasn’t responsible for his actions, and tying him would likely cause him undue harm. The solution was to bring him with us. Daevon incapacitated Amil, and we carried him to the tower entrance, where we were unable to take him further. It was as though he was tethered to the tower. This threw a wrench into our plans.
Further complicating our pursuit was the fact that there was no trace that Braxtol had left via the only path. Even Kimya couldn’t pick up the trail. As the others took Amil back to our rooms, I went to investigate a commotion in the stables. Balthazar’s Nightmare had disappeared. Well, that explained how Braxtol had left. I tried to get Balthazar to help us track the Nightmare, which would hopefully lead us to Braxtol as well, but Balthazar was inconsolable, and unable to help us in his state.
With no direct actions we could take, we decided on a more thorough questioning of Amil. Tuiz used a potion he had created to read Amil’s surface thoughts. This would give us a more accurate idea of what Amil though of as true. Oh boy, did it.
Amil was definitely being controlled by Book. He was not happy with the actions he was being forced to perform, but was given no choice in the matter. Tuiz said he could sense the mind control through his minor telepathy. Amil let us know as well as he could that he felt we were still in danger, and that we would remain so until we left the tower. All this new information made it clear that we had been chasing the wrong person this whole time. We needed to confront Book more directly.
We made sure Amil was tied securely, and made our way to Book’s room. We were not at all prepared for what we found. Book drew upon the ink in his study to transform himself into a huge black dragon!
Daevon, being the book fanatic that he is, opened with the appropriately heroic line “I hate it when good books turn bad. I’m writing this ending” to get us all fired up.
Dragon Book, as I will call it from here on, broke a huge hole in the ceiling, allowing it access to the ink manufactury, and providing it a large area in which to move… if it could. For a while, Dragon Book tried to escape Daevon, but Daevon was able to force it to stay put in a battle of will that was truly awe-inspiring. Once it was able to move, it flew up a level and began throwing massive cauldrons to the floor where we were standing. From these cauldrons, ink poured, infused with the magic of Dragon Book. Touching the ink resulted in either scalds or frostbite, a truly nasty weapon either way.
Then, something horrible happened. A vicious blow brought Caleb down. This might have been the end, but Tuiz, thinking quickly, drew upon his blood magic to provide some healing and get Caleb back in the fight.
After this, Dragon Book used its superior mobility to strike at whichever of us was least defended. All the while, Tuiz ran, or attempted to run, between these various locations, never quite making it to Dragon Book. It would have been funny, if we weren’t in a deadly contest.
As the battle continued, ink kept pouring out of the cauldrons, reducing our mobility and giving Dragon Book more strength. It would land near a pool, drink from it, and then unleash a terrible breath attack at whoever was unfortunate enough to have angered it most recently. This did, however, give the hand-to-hand fighters a chance to strike blows, with Kimya surprising everyone when she was able to drag Dragon Book to the ground! While exposed in this way, we were able to inflict some heavy wounds, slowly wearing Dragon Book down.
Then, Dragon Book turned on me. The last thing I remember is the horrible black monster landing in front of me and striking out, then nothing.
My friends told me that after I went down, Daevon was able to deliver the final blow with a blast of light. Some hasty healing and a quick slap brought me to consciousness in time to see Dragon Book begin melting into a pool of ink, with the book lying in the center. We took a moment to recover from the devastating encounter, and Lucky saw that the letters ‘NK’ had reappeared on the book’s spine. Daevon, looking around the destruction, found some treasure, but we were not out of trouble yet.
With the death of Book and the loss of his magic, the tower began collapsing. We hurried from the scene to release Amil, who was overflowing with joy at being released from his servitude. We then found the other tower guests, who were preparing to leave the crumbling tower, and convinced (easily) Toralir to join us on our way back to the Lacuna.
Once out of the shadowy realm, we set about solving the problem of the lost guardian. Amil directed us to the crystal formerly linked with Book and told us how a new guardian could be made. When none of us offered to take the position, Amil said he would be the one. After some preparation, we performed a ritual with dancing, chanting, and a suitably occult rune circle.
During the ritual, Kimya shocked me by howling along with the chant! I’ve never heard her make a sound before! This warrants further investigation.
When the ritual was complete, Amil told us of an incredible connection with the Lacuna. He was able to “see” what was happening, “feel” passages that he had never known about, and was aware of incredible powers available to him within the Lacuna. With these powers, Amil sped us on our way to an exit, thanking us again for the help we had provided, and wishing us good fortune on our journey.
We scouted the exit, and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were no gnolls waiting for us. Hopefully our good luck continues, because we surely have more dangers ahead.