After reviving Elzeni and Gantar, Constance begins searching through the room. Rummaging through the bookshelves, she finds a small box, maybe 10”x4”x3”. Burned onto the cover is the symbol Cyrus asked them to look for. As Constance examines the box, Elzeni calls out from behind the staircase.
Next to a couple strange altars is a metal cage, inside of which Cyrus is slumped. Elzeni breaks open the lock with her battered mace. Inside, she reaches down, her hand unexpectedly connecting with a very-solid Cyrus. She tips him forward, checking the back of his neck for the symbol. Sure enough, the symbol is there, albeit more like ink than the brand they have seen on the other creatures. She channels healing energy into him, stepping back as he gasps to life.
“How’d you lot get here?” he says, looking wildly around.
“Caedmon escaped,” Elzeni says, passing the box from Constance to Cyrus. “Here’s your box.”
Cyrus takes it eagerly, throwing the lid off. He sighs with relief as he pulls out a small statue carved of obsidian. Looking closely, Elzeni can see that the statue is of Cyrus.
“You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this,” Cyrus says, sagging against the metal back of the cage. “If you don’t mind, I’ll be back in a tic.”
His form vanishes, statue with it. He’s gone for a couple minutes before he winks back into existence behind them.
“Much better. Being corporeal is exhausting; I really don’t know how you lot do it.”
Elzeni reaches out, her hand passing through him once more. “You were here.”
“Yes, well, that little figure is my only connection to this plane. I can visit here, for a time, but it’s quite exhausting. Where’s Caedmon?”
“Purple door thing?”
“Yeah. Do you know where he went?”
“Probably off to some hole. You made good on our deal. Thank you.”
“What was Caedmon doing here?”
“Transforming, I believe. Last night, he cut the heart out of a man, poured a potion in it, and ate it. Bad vibes after that. I can look through his stuff, if you’d like, but someone will need to turn pages for me.”
Elzeni follows him, searching the bookshelves. Hidden slightly next to one of them, she finds a slender staff of dark curved wood. At the top of the staff is a green stone, what she thinks might be jade. Constance holds her hand over it, shaking her head.
“There’s evil in this staff.”
“Well, he wasn’t exactly a glowingly good guy, was he?” Cyrus says drily. “Mind turning the page here?”
Elzeni goes to him and turns the page in what looks like a handwritten journal. The language is similar to what was carved on the sarcophagi, but definitely written in some sort of code.
“It’s coded, yes,” Cyrus tells her, “but from what I can make out, he was working on becoming a lich.”
“Did he succeed?”
“Well based on what I saw last night, I’d say so. I don’t know how long the transformation takes, but his energy felt different after he ate the heart.”
“We should tell Veltis,” Elzeni says to Constance.
Constance sighs and pulls out the token from Veltis, hesitantly pressing the button. They wait, looking through Caedmon’s things for about 45 minutes before a blue portal springs to life. Veltis steps through, dressed in embroidered robes of red, white, green, and blue. She’s wearing an elaborate headdress and, tugging insistently, pulls Immanuel through the portal with her.
“Hello, yes, hi, how are things?”
“Hello, Veltis. We have mostly bad news for you.”
“Oh. Well then. I’m in the middle of a ceremony, so perhaps it would be quicker if Manny…”
Immanuel nods, stepping in front of her. He spreads his arms.
“Open your minds,” he says, closing his eyes.
Elzeni and Gantar feel a presence in their mind, something shifting through their memories of the past few days. Gantar tries to shut his mind, but Immanuel is already there. After a minute, he opens his eyes and they feel his presence leave. He reaches out and touches Veltis on the head, once again closing his eyes as he relays the information he just gathered.
“Oh, I see. Those poor souls. Great evil has indeed been done here. The wizard will need to be found, eventually, but for now it’s safe to assume he’s hidden himself somewhere we can’t track him. I’ll send word to the guilds.”
“We’ve failed you,” Constance says, hanging her head.
“Well, not necessarily. You’ve stopped more evil from leeching into the forest, and we know enough that we can eventually find him. Who’s this?”
Veltis gestures to Cyrus.
“That’s Cyrus,” Elzeni says. “He was enslaved by Caedmon.”
“You’re from the Astral Plane, then?”
“Sometimes. You’re not from this world, are you?”
“Like you, it would seem. How interesting. We’ll have to talk at some point. It’s rare I feel a soul as old as yours in this world. Now then, is there anything else you needed?”
“We found this staff,” Elzeni says, handing it to Veltis.
“Hmm. It seems to be imbued with a small measure of lich power. Perhaps one of his experiments. The staff itself is not evil, though the spell that created it could be considered so. It will not corrupt your mind should you choose to use it.”
She hands back the staff. “If that’s all, I would like to bring this tower down.”
Our adventurers nod and step out onto the porch with her. She raises her hands, the porch breaking free from the tower and gently floating to the ground. Standing back, Veltis concentrates on the tower. It begins to crumble at the top, falling upon itself until all that is left is a pile of rubble. She holds her hands out and blue flames spring to life, burning hot enough to melt the very stone. When she’s finished, all that remains is charred earth.
“There. Much better. Light should be able to return now. Before I forget, I know Constance is familiar with Tereod, but here is a map should you need to find us. We’ll see you once we’re back in town. I’m afraid this graduation is taking longer than I expected. Farewell.”
She turns, pulling out a small device and opening another blue portal. Her and Immanuel step into it, the blue void snapping shut behind them, leaving our adventurers alone with their guilt.