Journey to the Forlorn Tower
With their foe lying slain in the town square, the heroes took a few moments to collect themselves and take stock of the scene. The bodies of at least a dozen villagers lay dead on the dirt of the square. Guards, priests and pilgrims alike moved to tend the wounded, including a stunningly beautiful woman. Closer inspection revealed her to be a priestess of Ioun named Dierdre. As Noura moved to assist the wounded, Rook and the remaining party members consulted with Dierdre on the events that had just transpired. It was about that time that Roxy joined the fray. Having heard the commotion, she came as quickly as possible, missing the battle by mere moments.
Dierdre relayed that she didn’t believe this attack to be the last and agreed with Rook that they were likely looking for the Tear of Ioun. She knew little of the Tear itself, only that it is a fist-sized gem that is said to hold vast knowledge gathered by the Goddess herself. She pleaded with the heroes to investigate the matter further and to recover the stone if they were able. She would like to have it brought to another temple of Ioun in order to be protected and studied.
The heroes then returned to the the Blue Plate Tavern to finish their meals. Rook had Mannek place one of the grell bodies next to the table so that the psion could study it further. This did not please the tavern keeper at all, however, given that the party had vanquished the creatures, he let it slide… one time. Many theories into how the creatures levitated above the ground dominated the conversion. Magic, gas bladders, and other anatomical marvels were put forward for debate. Ignoring most of the banter, Noura glanced at the now dead brain matter and noticed that is seemed… different. Upon closer inspection and relying on her skill in healing, she discerned that the creature was afflicted by some sort of disease. Though she was unable to identify it, she filed it away in her mind for further research.
After finishing their meal and stocking up on ale, Rook decided to take the grell (and by default, Mannek) to a local sage named Croetus, an acquaintance of his master back in Hammerfast. The scraggly old man did not seem too keen on speaking with the pair and their prize when they initially knocked on his door, but curiosity soon got the better of him and he invited the adventurers, sans grell, into his small abode. Rook was full of questions for the old man and was barely able to contain his glee when Croetus opened the door to the library he kept in his house.
The two scholars researched for several hours, discerning that the Tear of Ioun was likely created by the goddess Ioun and placed in the hands of an order of priests know as the Kaorti. They had had a tower about 6 miles outside of the town of Wellspring. The leader of this order had been a human man named Volarn, an excellent researcher who spent many hours studying the secrets of the Tear. History claimed that after a long session of study, Volarn and his followers performed some sort of experiment that went horribly wrong, and they were never seen nor heard from again.
The Kaorti Temple soon fell into ruin as time and the dissolution of Nerath took its toll upon the stones. After a few centuries, when the loss of the temple had faded from memory, the locals began to see strange creatures emerging from the area around the temple. These sightings soon led to the locals renaming the temple the Forlorn Tower.
Equipped with new knowledge and a promise that if Rook returned to Croetus with a story, the old man would allow the psion access to his library, the pair returned to their friends at the Blue Plate to share their findings. The party quickly agreed that setting off for the Forlorn Tower was the best next step to uncovering the current mystery. While Rook and Mannek were away, Roxy had decided to scout the town and the western gates to see if she could find a trail of where the creatures had come from. As she headed west towards the gates of the town, it was not difficult to see that the grells had caused more damage than initially assessed. The bodies of more townsfolk and pilgrims were being tended to by guards.
Heading west out of the gates, Roxy quickly picked up a trail towards the outlying farmsteads. The mangled and sometimes charred bodies of farmers and their families still smoldered where they were left, leaving Roxy a little sick and even more angered by the audacity of the creatures. She returned as night fell, and the party retired for the evening, eager to get a start on the next day.
The next morning, the party set out early, following the trail that Roxy had found. After a few miles, the trail faded. The beginnings of the Harrow Wood forest could be seen in the distance and seemed the most likely direction from which the grell had come. With Roxy in the lead, the adventurers made their way up to and into the forest itself. With her keen senses, Roxy soon had a feeling that the group was being watched. She quietly ordered the others to halt while she scouted even farther ahead. Using her powers of perception, she was able to discern two distinct sets of prints in the still slightly soggy mud that made up the forest floor. One belonged to booted feet, possible bandits or other adventurers. The second set seemed to be smooth or moccasin covered feet. Finding no other signs, she returned, and the party set off once more.
As they paced a small stream flowing from the Kadagast mountains, it was again Roxy who noticed a hooded, armed figure hiding the brush several feet ahead of them. The group prepared themselves and soon, masked figures wielding axes descended upon them. A vicious fight ensued with the masked warriors using their axes to try and pin the heroes in place. Soon after, a tiefling woman, afflicted by some sort of wasting disease, entered the fray. The heroes were too powerful for the attackers to overcome and soon all lay slain.
Searching the bodies revealed little. Their masks were decorated with some sort of eye motif and their faces looked wracked with disease like their presumed master. As they inspected the field, Roxy heard the sounds of footsteps from the deeper brush. She whirled towards the sound and lifter her crossbow to see…