Maruc swiftly stepped through the broken masonry and threw the coin away. He yelled the command word of his holding enchantment and watched as the tendrils for magic leapt to greet the fleeing mage. The yellow robe started to stiffen he thought he had him, but his grin turned to consternation as the mage slipped out of reach. He made a mental note of his direction. “Another time Golthar!” he cried.
“Morndu!”, Stephan bellowed the old Traldaran curse upon seeing the fleeing Golthar. In frustration, he kicked a piece of the broken wall out into the night.
Hasan joined Ludo and Maruc. “There is no catching him. Flight leaves no tracks,” the elf intoned grimly. “We shall have to pursue him later. For now we need to rebuild our strength, and learn what this Yousef has that is so valuable. We should rest in the manacled room below. That has but one entry, and so should be easily defensible, should any of the hobgoblins below the tower have escaped.”
Ludo retreated back to the room with the statues, picking his dagger up on the way, he was tired—it had been a long night. It was a pity that Golthar had escaped, but he was sure that they had not seen the last of him.
Upon reaching the statue room, he went to Miklos and started some first aid, and tried to revive him splashing a little water on his face. “Hold on Miklos. Maruc will soon have you on your feet,” Ludo looked at Maruc and whispered, “is there anything you can do?”
Miklos woke with a start, water dripped from his face. “Thanks. I think,” he said as the slowly and painfully picked himself up.
“The yellow robed man?” he asked.
Ludo shook his head. “He fled using some kind of flying magic.”
Miklos sighed. “Nevermind. It could have been much worse he could have blasted us all away. But you kept him on the back foot. Well done my friend. You say he went up the stairs?” Miklos eased his way to the stairwell and climbed the stairs. The breeze made a hollow noise through the fresh hole in the side of the tower. “Well I for one and glad he didn’t use that fire magic against us.” said to Maruc who looked particularly upset. “Whats wrong?”
“Golthar was out of range.” he replied.
“Oh well, I have a suspicion that this will not be the last we see of him. I also imagine he will be better prepared.” Miklos glanced around the room. “At least most the the rubble went outside. Stephan would you mind asking what tale Yousef has to offer in explanation?”
After Maruc started his healing work, Ludo waited for the others to join them and stood aghast when Feldard stumbled into the room in his badly injured state. He made it up the stairs only with Yousef’s aid. Feldard slumped against the nearest wall at hearing that the yellow-robed man had fled.
Stephan was overjoyed to see Feldard up and about. “By the grace of Halav! You live!”, he couldn’t help saying. But the dwarf seemed in no mood for happy reunions and the human shed his obvious delight out of respect.
With the threat gone, the dwarf could let himself rest up. Sure there might be more hobgoblins in the tower, but Hasan and Ludo could handle those, at least long enough for him to get some much needed rest. And with that the dwarf slept—right there… right then.
Upon seeing Feldard, Maruc understood how close Golthar had come to overcoming the party, the consequences of that happening sent shivers down his spine.
“Maruc, I agree with Hasan,” spoke Ludo. “We can all rest and recover in the room with the beds. It will be a while before we are in any state to pursue Golthar.”
Maruc turned and stared around the room. “Golthar left in a hurry, so he can’t have taken much with him. Let us see what evidence he has left as to his schemes.”
“Maruc what are you doing?”
“I’m seeing what he has left behind, Miklos.”
“I can do that, I’m sure the others will help. You however are going to do your job and put us back together!”
“Ahh Feldard nice of you to join us. You look almost exactly the way I feel. Still whilst we are waiting the Maruc I suggest we start over there. If anyone finds a book like this one.” Mikos proffered his spell book in the air, “Do let me know.”
And so, with the party all together again, the investigation of the room began in earnest. They searched every nook and cranny for treasure that Golthar had left behind and for any traps. As they searched, they wondered what a powerful mage wanted with Yousef—a mystery they hoped would be answered soon. Despite feeling lightheaded, even Miklos meticulously sectioned and searched the room.
Golthar’s room was distastefully furnished with a bed, badly damaged by the explosion, that was made from the splayed jaws of a black dragon, a triangular table of green-stained oak and two orange wooden chairs carved to resemble crouching humanoids. On the wall there was a map showing the positions of the various homesteads and human settlements that had been massacred by goblin assaults. There were also two other locations on the map, marked with question marks that were then crossed out. These locations were familiar to the group. One was the gnomes’ mine and the other was the location of the necromancer Sevastian’s dungeon that the group had cleared some time ago.
In his hurry to escape, Golthar left behind treasures locked inside an iron-bound chest. Ludo determined it was untrapped and after a time was able to unlock it. Inside they found two large sacks overflowing with gold cronas, three potions, a jewelled silver casket containing an assortment of valuable gemstones, a small ebony box, a carved ivory scroll case.
Inside the scroll case was a fragile, ancient scroll. It was written in the language of the same lettermarkings as they had seen on the various ruins and items of the jackal-headed men.
In the ebony box, there was a silver needle and a spool of golden thread.
About two minutes into his search Miklos chuckled to himself. He opened his spellbook and calmly read and recited his Detect Magic incantation. If anything would help, that would.
The potions and the needle and thread all glowed before the spellcaster’s magicsight. The ancient scroll did not, and neither did anything else in the mage’s quarters.
As the group searched, Yousef was able to share his tale. After being captured by goblins during the attack on his settlement, he was taken with others to the Wolfskull lair, and thence to Xitaqa. Here in his tower, Golthar interrogated the prisoners, demanding to know where the ‘golden tapestries’ were hidden. Yousef realized that he had seen a tapestry matching Golthar’s description in the hall at Sukiskyn. Though he did not divulge this, he could not conceal the fact that he knew about it. None of the other prisoners knew, however, and they were taken from the tower. Yousef did not know where.
From the questions posed during his interrogation, Yousef was able to determine that there was some sort of map hidden in the tapestry. The map provided directions to somewhere of great importance to Golthar.
When the search was complete, Ludo and Stephan moved some beds to barricade the door to the stairway leading down, just in case some any enemies decided to investigate the exploding wall that Golthar created in his escape. Taking another look at the blissfully asleep Feldard, Stephan felt a great weariness and chose one of the cots for a bit of a rest.