The time arrives for Laeoden’s meeting with Malvolio. They are to discuss the Red King releasing Nyrissa the Green witch from her curse. The rest of the cast accompany Laeoden as he follows Malvolio’s automoton to the meeting. This automoton is different then the ones they’ve seen before in the castle. It has a blue crystal sphere set into its wooden head. It is the same as the one Laeoden pried from the ceiling in the red kings quarters.
The Automoton leads them through the Castle grounds, past a work site where automotons are constructing the hull of a full scale sailing ship. The castle lies in the mountains. No where near the sea. The ship is even more curios when examined from on deck. The three masts are equal heights and have large metal hoops attacked to them. The hoops are studded with the magical spheres, the same as the one Laeoden found hidden in the light.
There journey takes them deep into the bowels of the castle. They come to a large rectangular chamber with 20 automoton. These are some of the soldier types seen on the wall when they first arrived. They have swords and shields where their hands should be. Once the group is in the center of the room the automoton surround them and attack. Despite grim odds they defeat the automoton through clever tricks and clever gambits. Laeoden creates an island of safety by using acid to melt the automotons tracks. Aether uses her magic to out pace the constructs. Darain uses his nearly impervious shield wall and the entry corridor to keep himself from being flanked.
Once the constructs lie in heaps of gears and kindling through out the chamber. They call out for Malvolio to reveal himself. He does not. They go in search of the trap setter. They know from discusions at the party that his lab is deep below the castle and decide to look for him there.
They find a winding staircase that descends into the mountain and take it. Laeoden is in the lead checking for traps. Again and again he finds chunks of metal disguised to look like stone. Buried beneath these are metal boxes inscribed with runes and connected to the fake stones with copper wire. He clips the wire and takes the boxes. Aether examines the boxes and thinks that whoever stepped on the stones would have had lightning course through them.
They come to a trap on the stairs much more subtle then the shock traps. Thin wires criss-cross the hall at pelvis height. They are connected to key stones in the walls on either side. Laeoden thinks that if the wires are tampered with in any way several tons of loose rocks will come crashing down. The smaller members of the party shimmy though the gap in the lower part of the crossed wires. Darian is forced to remove his armor and attempt the gap. Despite greasing him up and him holding his breath he catches the wires. Laeoden and Tanion drag him through by the arms but his legs are pelted with large rocks. The stair way back to the surface is blocked.
The group continues on deeper into the mountain. They find a hall way of much older construction intricatley carved with symbols similar to those on the ring bases of the blue spheres. They travel down it quite a distance passing collapsed cross hallways. The air here is stale and dank. They come to a door on the right of the hallway. They listen hearing a voice speaking gruffly in dwarven.
They ready themselves and break into the room. The discover row upon row of work benches. Filth crusted children are chained to them. Many have oozing sores around their manacles. All have blank looks of hopelessness on their face. A sallow dwarf with a cat of nine tails is attempting to flee to the other side of the room. Laeoden runs and tackles him. Laeoden soon dscovers that he is not a dwarf but a midget.
Aether sees to the children. They have been set to work scraping hides and dipping them into acids vats to tan them. Many of them have raw and bleeding hands. Their finger nails cracked and broken. Acid burns are common. Many have trembles from the nerve damage and malnutrition. The children are quickly freed. They are the ones missing from Piren’s bluff. The ones thought consumed by the beast that took them.
Laeoden begins to interrogate the faux dwarf and learns that his name is Lud. At first he is resistant to revealing information, but after Laeoden clips off a few of his fingers he’s telling tals like a school girl.
The children were brought here by Malvolio to work. Scraping and tanning the hides that will be stitched into Malvolio’s army. They learn that in the next room down the hall are Malvolio’s seamstresses. Three blind witches who sew the skins into the empty shells that will be filled with mud and animated.
Aether asks if there are any other children here. Do any children leave the room. Lud tells them that the children stay chained to the benches even during brief periods of sleep. They only slip the chains when they are too week to work and tenderized by misery. Then they are sent to the witches, and none have left that chamber.
The group pledges to put an end to what is happening here. They pledge to end Malvolio, the king and his witches. They steel themselves and head to the chamber of the witches.
They are sitting by the fire place when the party crashes in. They drop the skins they are sewing and begin screeching. Darian and Laeoden begin the grim work of chopping them down. They attempt several incantations to save them but to no effect. All die run through by blade and arrow. They find damning evidence of their dark deeds. The bones of many children are heaped by the fire, and the stew pot is filled with things best left unmentioned.
They continue to Malvolio’s lab, the placid weeping Lud giving them direction. They break down the door to discover Malvolio speaking into some kind of magic mirror. He is commanding some one to send the troops back. He is being attacked. On the wall of the room a silver rind the size of a large door, studded with the blue spheres begins to glow.
Darian, who kicked the door open, falls to the ground paralyzed by some kind of magical trap. The others rush by him into the room. Malvolio throws a lightning bolt their way. Laeoden stabs Malvoilo repeatedly while Tanion plugs him with arrows. Aether uses her wand to blast the glowing portal smashing the blue crystals that power it. Finally Malvolio falls unconscious. Laeoden cuts out his tongue to prevent him from casting any spells. Aether is forced to heal him to prevent him from dieing so the bastard can answer some of their questions.
They tie him up and explore the lab. In the center of the room is a ten foot octagonal metal obelisk inscribed with writhing symbols and studded with the blue spheres. Several are cracked and dark. There are obvious spaces where many spheres are missing. in front of the obelisk is a small alter of black granite where Malvolio was speaking to his distant allies.
There is a work bench covered in jewelers tools and alchemical equipment and a bookcase filled with rare and ancient tomes.
Malvoio’s eyes flutter open and he groans. The interrogation of the villain begins.