As the humungous Air Elemental manifests, Kendra screams “Back to the tower” before running back herself (closely followed by Nisca). With the storm raging around them, the Elemental transforms into a whirlwind, and tries to suck up one after another of our heroes, but though it buffets them about the bridge, it never manages to knock them off. Ursus, Shala and the soldiers manage to escape back to the tower as well (along with Narsius’ bone-dog), while Variel and Narsius do their best to distract the vortex. Rallying, Nisca and Shala charge back out to join the fray, with fire support in the form of magical missiles from Kendra’s wand, and soon they manage to disrupt it enough that the funnel of air dissipates and the Elemental is released back to whence it came.
After pausing to heal, the gang regroups in front of the Manse proper, and Variel picks the lock on the huge Iron door. Inside they are surprised, both at the warmth and cleanliness of the front hall, and the Iron sculpture wrapped in copper wire with bits of flesh attached that quickly comes to life to attack them. Though it hits hard, they manage to surround and confuse it with Shala’s mirror images, before their own attacks snap enough wires to cause it to fall to pieces. Spending the next half-hour searching, they find the mansion well stocked and inviting, but empty of actual inhabitants (discounting the numerous unseen servants haunting the place, bound and determined to make their stay a pleasant one). THey notice the fancy protrate of the Count, and find evidence of Engineers having at some point been staying there, but none are present now.
Low on magic, Narsius suggests they pause and rest here, to which the other spellcasters agree. While Narsius cuddles for a nap with a skeleton in one of the creepy trophy rooms, Kendra naps in the master bedroom (while the somewhat peculiar-acting Nisca rummages through the Count’s wardrobe and jewelry), and Shala rests in one of the nicer guestrooms. Variel performs a more thorough search, but outside of a few new secret doors, finds nothing too exiting. Nisca rearranges her men, sending the soldiers back to join the others to watch over the camp, while her Duelist buddies settle down to hold the Manse (in comforts they quite enjoy). Narsius in turn has his larger skeletons hold the gatehouse until their return.
Rested, they leave the Manse to cross yet another, smaller bridge, this time to the ruined Laboratory. Variel finds a Rod of Fire Extinguishing amongst the rubble just as they are ambushed by a trio of Insects who’s touch rusts metal. Using a mix of arrow-fire, strategic withdraws, natural attacks (on the part of Shala and the bone-hound) and Nisca’s magic, the critters are quickly dispatched. Finding little else to interest them in the ruin, they begin working their way across the rope-bridge to the museum, but as soon as Variel hits the half-way point, he finds magical runes activating one the rope-bridge, and above he hears a screech as something appears in the air circling above – a winged woman with bow drawn, an arrow in flames…