The doors slide to the sides and you are able to enter an ante-chamber. You are greeted by a warm female smile possessed by some sort of magician in the same dark blue robe. “Welcome! Welcome! Please, allow me.” she holds out an unremarkable cloth bag “Please, place your belongings in here. It is just for security measures. Feel no stress. Just standard procedure while you are in the tower.”
The doors you came in through slides shut behind you.
“Why, hello there!” says Arnald and bows. “Aren’t you quite the begger, holding out your bag like that! Of course you may have my belongings, you little sunshine you!”
He lifts up an imaginary thing from his pocket and pretends to drop it into her bag, and adds: “There you go! One miniature battle axe! I expect to get it back in the same condition! And I – WHAT IN MY SWEET MOTHER’S NAME ARE YOU DOING PUTTY?”
Putty looks up at Arnald with a suprised look. He has stripped down almost completely, with only his underwear left for removal.
“I’m handing over my belongings”, he says and turns to the woman for help.
The woman start scratching her head with her index finger, not saying a word instead looks nervously in different directions. She obviously is thoroughly confused which has led to this odd displacement act. Her cheeks grow slightly red and at last she manage to speak without looking at anyone of you.“Yes, yes. E’hem. Yes go right in!”
The second door in the ante-chamber then opens and you can see yet an ante-chamber.
“Thank you, darling”, says Arnald and bows slightly. He stares at Putty with raised eyebrows, and nods to the clothes and armour on the ground. Putty puts them on without a word, and they head into the second ante-chamber.
The host of the first ante-chamber darts your eyes when you proceed into the second.
Once in the second ante-chamber you see the door close behind you and you are closed off in this quarter. It is lit by soft magic lights, but that suddenly turns off to total darkness and you experience a vibrating feeling and you hear a swooshing sound6. It all lasts for some ten seconds and the lights are turned on again. A door in front of you opens up and you are presented what should be the interior of the cloak-tower.
You see a round hall, walls and floor made of stone, about 40 meters in diameter and about 5 meters to the ceiling. To your right looks to be an administration desk that extends as a table with lots of stuff on it. Across the floor you can see a closed wooden door which is to the right of a spiral stair case. To the left of the spiral staircase there are two other closed wooden doors. To the sides of the wooden doors you can see high candelabras with lit candles in them. What strikes you as rather odd, is that there are no one in here. It is empty and the tower is filled with silence with only the faintest sound and scent of burning candles.
“Aah, it’s like my last date”, says Arnald and pulls in air loudly through his nose. “All alone with my lit candlelights…. No, please” – he stretches out a hand to Putty – “don’t cry for me, Aglarond!”
Putty corrects his clothing and takes a look around. “It’s abandoned?”
“No, don’t go down that road again! We’ve done this ‘oh look it’s empty, I bet it’s abandoned!’ thing one too many time, mister. Remember Mr Grumpy Elf and his beastfriend? No, I’m not doing that again. Mmm-mm.”
Putty examines the area carefully with a troubled face.
“I don’t even know what we’re doing here”, he says after a while.
“And you ask me that? I followed you here, remember?”
“I followed you.”
“Oh great.” Arnald sighs, and crosses his arms. “We’re like those funny shows at the theater. Only that it’s not funny.”
They stand silent for a moment.
“And why oh why did you undress?”
“I followed her instructions”, Putty answers.
Arnald breathes heavily through his nose, and says (mostly to himself): “A funny show at the theater. The Naked Jesters. That’s us.”
Nothing overly exciting happens as you stand in the round hall. Unless, you count the echoing of your own voices to be a spectacular phenomenon.
“Well we can’t stay here all day, can we?” says Arnald and takes a deep breath. “HEEEEELLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOO?”
“heeeeeellllllooooooooooo” it she echo you hear back but no other living soul is responding. Short there after you hear a rustle from the other side of the room but you see no movement.
“It mocks me!” Arnald says irritated.
“The echo! My own creation, mocking me! I shall never speak again!”
He stands proud and silent for at least three seconds, before adding: “I shall never speak again, after I’ve examined this desk! Come, Putty!”
They walk over to the administrator’s desk and starts poking around the stuff.
The administration desk holds many things: Scrolls, wands, gems and stones, intricate contraptions, figurines, religious symbols and a book. The things are not put in order but it rather looks like they have been put in this random formation by people who has been in a hurry.
You measure the table to hold 5 scrolls, a dozen gems and stones of various colors, 3 mechanical contraptions, 4 figurines: an Angel; an elven woman; a bard playing the harp and a woman with a upward-stretched arm holding an orb, 3 wands and 2 religious symbols, the first in the form of an open eye with a blue pupil depicted on the back of a right-hand war gauntlet. The second, a circular platter with nine blue and white stars painted around red waves perspectively painted to disappear in the distance.
“Stealing is wrong”, says Arnald while his finger wanders over the items.
“Yes, I know”, answers Putty.
“These gems… Glittering, it’s like… It’s like you could almost taste them… But those are also wrong to steal. Just so you know.”
“I wonder where everybody are. Maybe we should head upstairs?”
“Look at these figurines… Stealing them is wrong.”
“Yes, I know. I’m not planning on taking them, Arnald.”
“No, because you shouldn’t. It’s wrong!”
Arnald says all this without looking at Putty. Instead, his grace wanders around the table like a hungry dog at the butcher.
“Come”, says Putty. “Let’s go upstairs.”
“Yes, yes. We’ll leave these things alone. Goodbye…things…pretty….valuable….”
They start traversing the spiral staircase.
I quiet voice whispers in Putty’s subconsciousness…
…child. my child.
the experienced hands may touch my skin
caress it with the old fingers that Knows the earth
the secrets buried beneath will hold,
rough cuts that you will find within
to polish it to find it’s worth
but take me not here you are told
in the depths of the largest stones you may find
a brilliant gem of the finest kind
As you take your first step on the spiral stair you instinctively stop because you think both of you just heard something. You cup your hands around your ears and indeed there is a soft clamping noise coming from further up the stairs, yet the clamping sounds near. The next seconds reveal to you that it is most certainly the nervous footsteps of another being slowly climbing the stairs ahead of you.
Arnald points with an inquiring finger upwards, while ogling Putty, who shakes his head.
“WHAT?” whispers Arnald hoarse.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”
“ABOUT THAT!” says Arnald and pokes his finger upwards.
“I don’t know!”
“BUT YOU SHOOK YOUR HEAD!”
“SHAKING YOUR HEAD MEANS ‘NO I DON’T AGREE WITH YOU!’”
“No”, Putty says annoyed while trying to keep his voice down, “it meant I don’t know where or who those footsteps belong to.”
“WELL YOU SHOULD’VE SHRUGGED IN THAT CASE!”
“Why are you whispering in that voice?”
“I AM TRYING TO BE STEALTHY, UNLIKE YOU, WITH YOUR VAGUE GESTURES AND…AND…BEARD AND EVERYTHING. COME ON!”
They hurry up the staircase in a somewhat stealthy manner.
Once you sneak forward the footsteps gets quicker and louder. At last you here a door opening and closing. You follow the spiral staircase up and with light steps you arrive at the second floor of the tower. But there is no one here!
This floor is differently decorated with ten doors in total along the wall. The floor is dressed with a round carpet by oriental design of muted colors red, yellow, white and black. On top of it, several sofas are set in a half circle, each with a dark wood sofa table next to it. There is a faint smell of something burnt and tobacco. On one of the sofas, the one closest to your left, there is a scroll that has not been rolled up properly. The spiral staircase you came up from does not continue, instead there is a new spiral staircase to your left.
“MAYBE IT IS AN IN-”
“There’s no need to talk like that”, Putty interrupts.
Arnald clears his throat, and starts over in his normal voice: “Maybe…we’re followed an invisible gentleman to his club of invisible gentlemen.”
“Why would they set up a club of invisible gentlemen in the Cloak-Tower?”
“Why not? They’re invisible, after all!”
Putty ignores him and starts examining the room instead. He walks slowly over to the sofas and inspects them.
“Don’t sit!” Arnald bowls.
“It may be taken!”
“What are you talking about?” Putty says and scratches his beard.
“You know, by an invisible gentlemen! I wouldn’t like anyone to come sit on me, while enjoying the company of other invisible gentlemen. But I do wonder how they address each other… I’ve never heard of such a spell.”
Putty shakes his head and continues around the sofas, over to the scroll. He points at it and says: “Have you seen this? It looks like a scroll.”
“You don’t say”, Arnald answers and walks over to Putty, with big gestures as if he’s walking over invisible legs stretched out before him. “Oh, you’re right, it is a scroll. How charming! Let’s see what it says…”
Without touching, Arnald inspects the scroll.
During your inspection you can see that the scroll is not supposed to be rolled up but instead it has several folds which would point to that it was once folded into a smaller piece. This is not a proper way to handle magic scrolls and you are quite sure it should be harmless.
There is text written on the scroll and this side is naturally facing upwards. You read:
Day 176 – Phase 3
The two patrols of H400 are stationed just outside and to the west of The Sunken Gong. Suspicious howling sounds has been heard on the very bottom of the Daughter of the Sun Sea. If this is due to men in panic is not known, however that is probable. We cannot afford any risks. Reinforcements are on their way.
Day 178 – Phase 3
Another patrol of H406 has arrived and dived. They are now stationed to the east. Howling sounds of the same character has been reported by this patrol as well. We need to increase the level of alertness. Reinforcements are on their way.
Note to self: Remind Adalon to properly fill in the reinforcements reports.
Day 179 – Phase 3
The Sunken Gong has been spotted clearly now. However, the howling has increased and we need to be extra cautious. It seems, from the reports, that the howling becomes strong closer to the “gong”.
Day 182 – Phase 3
H400 has found the “gong”. With dismay the report states it was not the correct “gong”. H400 will now continue east. Possibly meeting up with H406
Day 183 – Phase 3
The reinforcements to patrol H400 and H406 has not reported back. We know they entered the depths but their exact location is unknown.
Note to self: Remember to calibrate scrying equipment
Day 185 – Phase 3
Good news and bad news. Good news are that we have received a fresh report from the reinforcement teams. They have not located H400 and H406. This should not be this difficult and I wonder what is making this so difficult.
Bad news is, that we have received a report from H406 but the report mentions four de….
Here the note stops abruptly. It looks like the author left the note in a hurry because there is a black stroke that looks to be accidentally drawn where the text ends.
You further can see that the the burnt smell and tobacco must be coming from the (visible) pipes that are resting on complimentary ash trays, placed on the sofa tables.
Arnald stops reading after the first line, picks it up and holds it with an outstretched arm toward Putty, saying: “Bla, bla, here, you read, my little library.”
Putty finishes the note, and hands it over to Arnald again who returns it to the sofa.
“So?” Arnald asks irritated. “Any juicy gossip?”
“It looks like a journal of some kind, but I don’t understand the details.”
“Soo…nothing about this club of invisible gentlemen? Who’s plotting against who, that stuff?”
Putty shakes his head. “Not that kind of journal.”
“Hear that bell? Bo-ring!”
“It seemed quite important.”
Arnald picks up a pipe and sniffs it.
“This”, he says and takes a puff, “is more important. The good things in life, not bla bla on a paper.”
“Maybe we should advance?”
“Ab-so-lut-e-ly”, says Arnald and blows out a thick cloud of smoke. “Maybe the club of invisible gentlemen have moved their party upstairs? Forward, my minion!”
They start traversing the second staircase upwards, pipe in hand.
By your feet, you are taken up to the third floor of this empty tower. To no one’s surprise, this floor is also uninhabited.
You are met by a room that looks like an exotic garden or forest. On your second thought you become unsure if you are inside or outside, for the room looks like a jungle, even the floor looks authentic. The staircase does not continue and another staircase is not visible. All you can see is bright green leaves and brown stems, entwined with each other, and a prominent sound of birds chirping.