The party broke camp on the shore where they had discovered the remains of a burned boat. While packing up, Bram received a message in his head.
“Good morning Bram Deathstalker. I am Cantis Rathbone, steward of Lord Dickmyer. Your presence is requested back in Barton’s Cove as soon as possible. Since hearing of your investigation, Lord Dickmyer would like to meet with your group.”
Bram and the others agreed to return and made haste back to town. On the way the group was set upon by two earth elementals, which they dispatched with relative ease. Entering town, the group was escourted to Dickmyer’s keep by the town guard. Rathbone greeted them inside and led them to a meeting room, all the while proclaiming that their time need not be wasted here as he had called in an exorcist to eliminate the threat of Helkkar’s ghost. Less than agreeable with the wizard’s suggestions (and exchanging some veiled insults as well), the party met with Lord Dickmyer, the founder of Barton’s Cove. Once a powerful magic user, Dickmyer had developed a ritual to remain on Kaeyden in spirit. He was now a being of pure energy capable of little more than sharing knowledge.
Once Cantis was dismissed the meeting took on a pleasant air as the group shared their discoveries and ideas with Dickmyer. Trusting in the paladin and his barbarian companion, the old mage took the two to the lower levels of his keep to share a well-kept secret that only he and the druid Helkkar had been privy to. In a well-hidden and well-guarded chamber below the keep, Dickmyer kept Morzaad, an ancient Lich of great power who had once terrorized the land. Dickmyer explained that he and his former companions had managed to capture and imprison the vile creature, but as they were unable to locate his phylactery they could not destroy him and were forced to keep him here. Helkkar had spent a long period of his life trying to torack down the lich’s phylactery and Dickmyer suspected that agents of Morzaad may have been responsible for the druid’s death. As they prepared to leave, Dickmyer suggested that the party pay a visit to Carver, Helkkar’s most trusted friend (and the reason the group had been sent to the Cove) and see if the carpenter had any missing pieces of the puzzle.
The companions made their way to Carver’s shop, which was closed, but a lantern inside led them to believe that someone was home. They knocked and Carver answered and invited them inside. Bram, who had activated a zone of truth, questioned the carpenter and began to notice falsehoods in his answers. As the questioning became heated, Carver finally caved in and proclaimed that Cantis Rathbone was behind the entire plot. He murdered the druid… and the real Carver. The imposted then revealed himself as Vance, a doppelganger, whom Rathbone had hired to squeeze Helkkar for information on Morzaad’s phylactery. When the druid would not offer up any insight, Cantis faced him directly, shackling him in the cave and torturing him for his knowledge. When Helkkar still would not divulge what he knew, the wizard slit his throat in a fit of rage. Rathbone was also responsible for the attacks on the Cove. There was no ghost, only the mage’s summonings and illusions. Vance told the party (truthfully) that he did not know anyone would be harmed and agreed to cooperate fully in exchange for his freedom.
With this information, the party marched on the keep, determined to bring Cantis Rathbone down. However, the wizard had been scrying on his hired shape-shifter and was prepared for the assault. He activated one of the keep’s defenses, calling gargoyles from the stone walls to fight the adventurers. As the battle raged on Cantis, under the effects of an Improved Invisibility spell, assaulted them with his powerful magic, Killing Ella (Zot’s familiar), nearly killing Vance, and rendering Zot feebleminded. As his wounds became more grievous, Rathbone proclaimed that he shall never be defeated and teleported from the area.
In the aftermath, Alvin the sage dispelled the magic that Cantis had left behind and Father Thomas, cleric of Gozreh, called Ella’s spirit back to her body and restored Zot’s mental faculties. Vance suggested that Rathbone may have retreated to his tower in Darkwing Mire, where he had been recruited by the mage. More determined (and angry) than ever, the group prepared and made their way to the mire. Along the way the party met a frog catcher that pointed them in the right direction and stopped by Moor’s Edge, a village on the outskirts of the swamp, to gather information. With a solid idea of where they might find this tower (a haunted ruin in the middle of the mire), the companions continued through the marsh. A day and some hours later they came upon the ruins and located a tower at its center. A wall of force kept most intruders at bay, but the party climbed (and flew) over the barrier, only to be assaulted by bolts of lightning originating from a large blue gem set above the tower’s main entrance. With minor damage, they managed to destroy the gem and halt the bursts of lightning. However, when Zot used his magic to open the door the group was assaulted by a poisonous green cloud that sapped their endurance. Retreating into the keep, Bram layed hands on his fellows, restoring their constitution. The daunting task of infiltrating a powerful wizard’s tower and felling the magus himself now lies before the brave heroes. Will Torag bless their victory or Kaeyden mourn the loss of their newest champions?