Upon their return to the manse, they find Narsius has apparently left, along with his skeletal minions and his cart (and much of the party’s stashed loot), though the abruptness of his leaving (and the fact that his hoard of minions briefly went berserk, driving Nisca’s entourage to flee for safety in the Guard-house) implies he may not have left willingly. After debating whether to chase him down, they agree to let be the mystery for now.
In the wee hours of midnight, Variel (meditating in a nearby chair) notices a winged woman, her plate armor decorated with a skull motif, appear in the room next to the bed where Shala sleeps. With her appears Aaron (also asleep), but all swiftly awake and quickly recognize her as non-other than Pharasma’ own Herald, the Steward of the Skein. She tells them that now the evil necromancer (Narsius) no longer lurks in their midst, the Goddess of Death and Rebirth has decreed they receive a blessing and a boon to aid them in their mission against the Whispering Way. To that wend she has reunited them with Aaron, and touches each, giving the three a gift of luck for the coming year. She also gives them each a magic item: Variel a bow, Aaron a greatsword, and Shala a ring. After they give thanks she vanishes, having one last thing to do before she leaves. That’s when they hear screaming from Nisca’s room…
Racing to the door the find the Steward pulling a nasty glowy mass from the Dhampyr noble, while Kendra screams in terror. All calms as the Herald reveals she has simply pulled forth the madness and malady’s that had made her evil of late (Nisca had been insane since the troubles at the Black Goat, not that anyone had noticed). Nisca reveals afterward that of her two persona (Valenka & Lucretia), Lucretia had taken it into her head that others in the party might mean her ill, or otherwise stand in her path. It was she who had cut the rope-bridge the other day, and it was she who had sent her new Goblin flunkies to poison, beat soundly, and kidnap Narsius while they were away. With no idea where the little blighters went (and fearing the Herald’s disapproval for even considering rescuing a Necromancer), they polity watch as Nisca & Kendra receive their own gifts( a suit of Folding Plate for Nisca & Blessed Book for Kendra). Gifts & Blessings distributed, the Steward of Pharasma’s will takes her leave.
The next day Variel, Nisca, Kendra, Shala & Aaron (and his wolf) head back to the final tower (being careful to avoid the watery menagerie in the other four towers). Planning ahead, they pop open the door and manage to take down the four-imbed flesh Golem Gorilla Monster swiftly with little injury to their own side. Variel spots notes pinned to the inside of the door, and Kendra uses magic to discern they relate to some machine called the Bondslave Thrall, a device meant to control the Beast. Moving up the stairs, they manage to push past a block of adamantite, finding another room in disarray. Here they encounter a crippled Homunculus who mimes them more clues, revealing that a mighty monster holds his master above, and points out chalk-drawings they puzzle through, telling them of the Lightning Generator at the top of the spire that powers the Bondslave Thrall.
Moving upward, they find the final tower room filled with webs, and the horrible abomination lurking above, while nearby they notice a glass jar holding the preserved body of a woman, while someone still alive suffers next to her, trapped in a misery idol. The fight is swiftly joined, but the monster proves to much for them, so they switch to delaying it long enough for Kendra to drink a potion, transforming herself into a gaseous cloud so as to slip pass and head above to the lightning generator at the tower’s peak. While Variel & Nisca are badly injured, Aaron and his wolf make the ultimate sacrifice, ripped apart by the savage claws and tendrils of the abomination. As lightning rains down on the tower they can hear the hum of the machines and Kendra’s screams as she is hit repeatedly by lightning, but moments later they are rewarded by the Beast of Lepidstadt’s arrival. With him leading the way they rush back in and manage, finally, to bring the monster low and free Count Caromarc from his prison. Nisca climbs up to recover and heal the unconscious Kendra, and collectively they all retreat to the manse to recuperate.
The Count recounts how the Whispering Way came and imprisoned him, using the Bondslave Thrall to steal the Seasage Effigy (for what purpose he never found out), then left him trapped to die amongst his collections and creations. As reward he grants them a writ to draw funds of 3,000gp from his bank in Lepidstadt, but begs they keep his involvement in the Beast’s creation (indeed, all his dabbling in arcane experiments) secret. He also reveals his Homunculous heard the Cultists were planning to travel through the SHudderwood next – the only place he knows of out there is a hunting lodge used frequently by the aristocracy, Ascanor Lodge (Nisca recalls their brief meeting with her old dance-partner Andovin Androsant, and wonders if he might not be involved in some way). Once recovered (and armed with a writ of introduction from the Count to the Lodge, presuming they go that way) they return to meet with Judge Daramid in Lepdstadt and tell her that the Beast is safe & under the control of the Count. She (like the Count) asks they continue after the Whispering Way, and offers not only a bigger reward for their aid in this matter, but possible membership in the Order of the Palentine Eye if they are successful.
And poor Aaron, who fell in battle against the horrid creation of reanimation gone wrong? The Heroes of Harrowstone make use of the Count’s offer to speak with his dead corpse and find out if he might be willing to take a one time offer and be brought back to life in a most peculiar way…
…as a Flesh Golem.