The party left the sailors and soldiers on the ships to their task and began to scale the strange hill. As they neared the top they came much closer to one of the strange twisted trees. It appeared to be a battered treant, incompletely petrified. On the ground nearby, Volodymyr found several round stones protruding from the earth. Unearthing one, it became clear that these stones were worked by chisels for use in heavy siege equipment. In fact the petrified treant looked as though it had suffered strikes from several of these stones.
Dowsabel also became aware of a significant source of power within the hill. However, there was something strange about that power, as if it was closed behind a wall. After some contemplation, Dowsabel postulated that the the petrification could have soemthing to do with the power emanating from within the hill.
Deciding that nothing further could be gained from their investigations, the party continued its trek to the summit. At the top they found that the ground was very smooth and covered with calf high grass. Looking over teh edge, they could see that the doorway was about thirty feet down.
Dowsabel, who was using the power of the crystal sphere to see through Vermudo’s eyes, used her magic to fly Volosymyr down to the doorway.
Remains of battle
Volodymyr landed in an unlit corridor that curved away to his left. To his right was a wall pierced with arrow slits (which he did not immediately notice). Under the flickering light of his torch he examined the corridor and found it to be of far better construction than what was apparent on the outside. The outer wall was of solid, well laid stone blocks, but they were cut unevenly and presented a very rough facade.
The interior, by contrast was constructed of very well fitted stone as would befit a palace or cathedral. The corridor was vaulted as well, at least 25 feet high, where the torch cast flickering shadows on the ceiling.
To either side of the corridor had been swept piles of bones, like dust collecting in corners. The bones showed signs of wounds made with edged weapons, but also appeared to have been gnawed on. Several skulls and neck bones appeared to have been sliced clean through by a powerful blade. Another artifact was a moldering leather breastplate bearing the eagle of Rome.
Amongst the remains, and occasionally in the walls, were bronze tipped arrowheads of fey manufacture. They may once have been enchanted by their makers but were now of little more than historical value.
Dowsabel recalled that lore of old held that fey creatures found the touch of iron very painful and relied on an exceptionally high grade of bronze, thought to be more desirable than Corinthian bronze, itself valued more than gold.
While examining the remains, the party heard movement on the far side of the arrow slits. Trying to peek through, volodymyr startled a group of goblins fumbling with crossbows. Several fired accidentally and one bolt marked Volodymyr’s cheek.
Chaos ensued and the befuddled goblins began an exodus down a staircase along the outer wall of the tower. Commands shouted by Vermudo for the goblins to stop fleeing did not halt the exodus, but did reveal that one goblin, evidently not liked by the others, was willing, perhaps even eager to parlay.
Running round the curving corridor came a strange goblin who was dressed in a waistcoat with a tarnished fob chain. He was only to pleased to offer greeting to the guests in behalf of the master. The goblin guide led the party to his master – down one flight of stairs, through a pair of beautiful oaken doors and through a wing dedicated to kitchens and dining rooms. Strangely, even though the party was certain that it was at least 60 feet under ground, panels in the ceiling above showed the stars above.
Meeting the master
The valet led the party to a spiral staircase and headed back up, arrived at beautifully furnished apartments given over largely to library and laboratory space. Seated at the far end of a long table in one of the rooms was a tall figure clad in dark colors. His ears were slightly pointed and he looked at Effron and called him cousin Sevash and called him nephew. The master was called Lughaidh. He claimed no other appellation, itself a form of arrogance. There was clearly a sense of power and great age in the master and his manor, but somehow a threadbare feeling communicated itself. Lughaidh was unfailingly polite but seemed to be weighing the value of the party in his own scales.
The story of the hill
Lughaidh related the following information as he chatted with the group: He was the architect of this tower which was called a ‘henning,’ or elf hill, from which (according to folk tales) elves crept on mist shrouded nights to steal babies and replace them with changelings. He stated that he built the henning to tap into a great powersource, but confessed that he did not know the extent of the success of his work, because his wife and her new consort, the Ailarri Lord Aenuroth had taken his tower from him and taken over his own work. Lughaidh did not have any information to offer about the Roman invasion of the tower becasue he was imprisoned in his own dungeon.
****The following flashes of information were revealed to Dowsabel by the crystal she carried: Lughaidh was a great lord of Atlantis who stalked out of a magnificent council chamber, after bitter argument with many fey lords, but most passionately with a beautiful elvish woman ****
He did know that his wife’s sister had given her own life to try to stop the advance of the Roman invaders and that she still haunted the third floor of the ring. She hated all living things but reviled only Lughaidh above Romans.
****The crystal showed a beautiful elven woman giving that same orb to a young elvish woman and imploring her to flee, only moments before the invaders hove into sight. They were opposed by a score of elven warriors, with bronze spears led by a tall lord with an exotic silver blade. The great sword hummed with power, snapping through the air as the lord cut heads from shoulders, slaughtering Romans in droves. Yet his own men were falling to the roman advance and the fey warriors were slowly pushed back. Then a new form strove into view. It was a huge armored figure, at least eight feet in height. The elf warriors spears did not harm the construct and the Elf Lord’s blade at first had little effect. But then it started to shimmer and hum with power and the lord sliced it cleanly through the neck of the construct, which then fell, decapitated. The lord was clearly weakened by the struggle, swaying on his feet, yet more troops were approaching, another construct among them. The Elf lady shouted to the lord and pointed down the stairs. He saluted her with his blade, and fell back with the remainder of his men. The lady lashed about the corridor with arcane energies, destroying the legionaries as they advanced. Nothing seemed able to defeat her, yet her form seemed to be becoming more and more translucent as she unleashed her power. Then another construct appeared. The lady lashed it with arcane energies, but they seemed to wash right off. It charged forward and smashed the sorceress to the ground beneath its brutish fists. It then rushed down the stair case, followed closely by scores of legionaries. But as they advanced a ghostly mist rose from the body of the elf sorceress who shrieked in agony, rage and sorrow, cracking the mortar in the walls and blasting the men around her to the floor. The ghost wavered and faded after that horrible scream and the image began to fade, but in the distance could be seen yet more legionaries and at least two more constructs rushing down the hall****
Lughaidh has not deigned to risk his power with the bean sidhe and therefore does not know what has transpired beneath the third level of the tower. He is however, growing concerned. The water that undercut the side of the hill is now suffused with necrotic energies and is hastening the erosion. And the necrotic energies will interact badly with the power in the Core. he does not know the outcome if they should meet, but he fears it will be catastrophic, at least locally. And he is imprisoned within his own tower and cannot leave. Had the party not come along, he would have risked the bean sidhe for fear of a greater threat. Lughaidh wants the party to go into the tower, past the spirit and secure the power source, or at least his freedom.
He then gave the party leave to return to the parlor to deliberate
A draw from the deck
Upon their return, the party saw that Lughaidh was shuffling a set of ivory placards. He told the party that in exchange for their assistance he would, if they wished, draw from the deck for each of them, and if they offered him something of great value, he would bend his will to the cards to search for a fortuitous result . . . the party drew . . .
To the bean sidhe
After the experience with the deck, Lughaidh left, but Volodymyr was now imprisoned within the tower, by means of a stone bracelet that Lughaidh once wore. The party headed down the tower to the restless spirit. There were bodies all about
Laying the spirit to rest