Saeth glanced across, and thought of teasing the Dwarf’s incapacitation some more. Then, recalling her momentary predicament, she thought better of it, and crouched, striving to pull her blade off this ‘giant lodestone’. Perhaps later she could write a tale of “the lodestone that didn’t point north”, but now was hardly the time.
“Would you louts quite dwaddling and help me here!” shouted the increasingly impatient dwarf. “I need a hand or two to get me up.”
“Did anyone notice if such an area existed at Sevatian’s castle? And is this right above the altar?” Nicolai asked as he removed all metal from his person. He and Maruc then set about attempting to free Feldard from his predicament. The dwarf reached out for the offered hands and with the help pried himself loose and towards the railing rather than further onto the stone.
Afterwards, free of the pull of the lodestone, Feldard removed his armor and all other metal on him, and went back to retrieve his battle axe and helm. Dragging both across to the edge of the stone, he pulled them free.
Safely out of range, Maruc put his armor back on. “Well that was a learning experience. Don’t walk near giant lodestones or all your metal will get stuck to it.”
“Iron.” Interrupted Miklos.
“Pardon? I saw you remove your silver daggers.” The priest said nonplussed.
“I am not as strong as Feldard.” Miklos replied, “If the blade was just silver coated, the iron within would still be affected. I just don’t trust merchants, thats all. As to your question Nicolai hopefully the Book of the Sons of Night will reveal the necessity of the lodestone. I have heard of the use of lodestones by Magi but its more alchemic in nature. Not an area I have studied in particular depth. One thing is certain, Dentiata would not have placed this here for no reason. Some alchemic practioners have suggested there is iron in blood, maybe Dentiata was one of those, perhaps there is a relationship? There seems to have been alot of blood split on that altar and it was channeled very specifically. But this is all conjecture. I must futher study Dentiata’s texts before I can provide a logical explaination.
The boy seemed to know something about the lodestone, but Saeth admitted that it didn’t make much sense to her. As they walked down the stairs, she siddled up to the boy and asked her question. “How does such a lodestone work, if it does not guide us northward?”
“I’m not schooled in the current theories athough many rumours abound, Some say it is latent magic from the forming of the world or some mighty conflict. Others say it is the power of a benevolent god. Some think it is charletanism. I’m sure Master Feldard has his own folklore conserning the properties of lodestone. Properly shaped and placed in the correct vessel I have seen lodestone align itself as if by magic. Although the magic itself appears to be undetectable or beyond current detection methods.”
“Perhaps we should retire downstairs I shall retire to the library and you fine fellows can locate any prisoners.” That said, Miklos collected his gear and lead the way down the stairs, he turned into the library, brightened the glow globe and sat at the desk. He pulled out the map, the Book of the Sons of Night, the lockless book case and his own spell book.
Maruc nodded to the Mage and followed him down the stairs into the Altar Room. He turned to the others as they filed down after him. “Would you mind giving me a hand searching these shelves briefly? Then we can all go hunting for prisoners. They may need medical or spiritual attention and I would like to be there. But firstly we may discover items of interest to Miklos and his studies here.”
With his friends help, he searched the shelves. Black parchment.
The group passed the Library on their way down to the dungeons below. As they had been searching the shelves in the room above, Miklos had cast Analyze on the magically-locked. He was able to determine that the lock was enchanted with a modified form of the Wizard Lock spell. Therefore a knock spell would be enough to open it.
“Miklos, you have that Wand if you get into any difficulty but do call us if you require assistance we will be back up here in a trice. See you soon,” said Maruc . Miklos was so engrossed that he barely acknowledge them as they passed.
Maruc allowed the others to file past before joining the end of the party. They walked down the stairs, back into the foyer where the bodies of the orcs still lay scattered throughout the room. They then went down the stairs and returned to the hallway that was outside the room that had been their point of entry to the tower.
They stood before the tapestry that they had run past as they chased the orc guard up the stairs. It depicted a dark cloud rolling over the world and obscuring the stars. People fled in panic as a wizard on a hilltop raised his arms triumphantly.
“The dungeons are beyond that wall,” directed Ashira. “But you need the password to open the door.”
She turned toward the wall and said, “Dread Night Attained”. Upon her utterance, a secret metal door behind the tapestry slowly swung open. It revealed a short hallway that led to some stairs going down.
It occurred to Saeth that there was something interesting about that phrase. She recalled the wizard’s fascination with anagrams. Words had always been a fascination of hers, and she turned around the letters in her head for a bit. What was it that the old witch in Sysak had said?
The stairs going down were long and steep. They ended in a square-shaped room. In the center of it was a stature of a young man dressed in a cloak, tunic and boots, his right arm raised and pointed to the middle of the north wall. There was nothing else in the room.
An inscription on the base of the statue read, “Whither be ye going? Let me point the way.”
* * * * *
As the others explored the dungeons, Miklos had turned his attention to the Book of the Sons of Night.
The book described the Sons of Night as a group of wizards who believed that the world would one day be consumed by the Dread Night, a lightless and lifeless void. Apparently, this prophecy was foretold by an ancient Nithian society of followers of Nyx. Before the Dread Night, the Sons of Night wished to rule the world and prepare it for its destruction. They sought to obtain artifacts and relics of the Taymoran and Nithian cultures, which they believed would help them fulfill the prophecy.
Additionally, they believed that sacrifices to the Dread Night would give them personal power to further their ends and bring the Dread Night closer. Most sacrifices described in the book were of animals, which explained the livestock disappearances in Sysak. Human sacrifices were to be performed in special ceremonies where the celebrant expected to gain great power in the form of knowledge or spells. The human sacrifice was to be performed at the end of a moonless night, which Miklos calculated to be tonight. The blood of the victim would be channeled through grooves in the sacrificial altar to drip onto specially prepared black parchment. Magical writings would form on the paper, revealing to the celebrant a new spell.
So, it seemed that they had arrived in the Tower just in time. Miklos read on.
The cult was organized into groups of five members, each group called a fraternity. Each fraternity was lead by a “Darker”, the most powerful member of the group. The overall leader was termed “The Grand Darker”. More ceremonies, traditions and rules were described in the text. There were various notes in the margins that were written by Dentiata. Apparently, he was trying to determine what had happened to the group, which had disappeared quite suddenly some time ago. From the notes, Miklos could tell that Dentiata was trying to restart the organization with himself as Grand Darker. He found no evidence of other members or their whereabouts.