The strange blue potions that were brought back from Thrax, and used to extinguish Kormat’s black flame were analyzed by the Mages College. While the analysis was incomplete, one ingredient was clear- berries from the fireberry plant, a crop that was only found natively in one place- the Sinking Lands. The party was tasked with mounting an expedition to the Sinking Lands, to find and retreive berries from the fireberry plant.
The party left the city of Galantri via Her Lady Bismark, an airship whose reputation is only overshadowed by that of her captain. Since they knew that the ship didn’t have the range to get to the swamp and back, but time was of the essence, they arranged to have a caravan carrying coal and airstone depart the city at the same time, to meet up with the ship at a landing spot 10 days land travel away. The party would then depart the airship and make the remaining 8 day journey on foot. Once the work in the Sinking Lands was complete, they would come back and meet up with the fully fueled airship to take them home.
As planned, it took 2 days for the airship to arrive at the designated spot, then 5 days for the party to travel through the swamps to the sinking lands.
Bernie suggested a side trip to the swamp town of Snappar Haede (“Snapperhead”), but the party disagreed and pressed on. 3 days later, the group arrived at their destination- a small clearing near the center of the sinking lands.
The gypsy family:
After arriving at the clearing, the party discovered that a small gypsy family lived here. This small clearing was apparently one of the few places in the Sinking Lands that was reliably not underwater. Harvey failed miserably trying to flirt with the young daughter in the family, and Shineymonger snuck into the tent and made off with some of the good silver.
The party tried to get the gypsy family to talk about the nearby tower, but they just said they avoid going there, as they thought it was evil. They showed the party where to find fireberries, and the party gathered up several armloads of them.
The following morning the party journeyed to the tower and explored it. A dead body was found just inside the entrance, which looked like it had been killed by some clawed beast immediately upon opening the door. The ghostly figure of the deceased was found in the next room, clearly finding the party unwelcome visitors.
While normal weapons did nothing, the Professor instructed the party to use magic, and between Shinymonger’s lightning and Camille’s force blasts, the group made short work of the ghost.
Further exploration of the first floor revealed only mundane things; a pantry of rotting food, a storeroom of dry goods, and much to the delight of Harvey, a privy. As a veteran campaigner, never one to waste an opportunity to avoid squatting in the field, he made sure to use the privy to do his business before continuing on.
Meanwhile, Bernie sat outside resting, while Craig donned an apron and began cleaning out the first floor.
The group moved to the second floor, where they found a nice living room area, some tobacco, and several pipes with unusual magical properties to affect the mind and body. The group perused the books- one stack next to the chair proved to have some interesting titles, and the ones on the shelves were of interest only to the professor, apart from some books with “ogre” in the title that Borgen took.
The group then explored the two servant’s bedrooms, battling Ray Harper’s ghost in his bedroom, and then reading the two men’s journals to learn more about them and to learn more about their lives in the tower. It was revealed that Harper was angry and jealous of Glenn, blaming him for any and all troubles, and noticing that Glenn treated him strangly. Richard Glenn’s journal in turn revealed the reason for his behavior towards Ray- he had a schoolboy crush on the man, and lamented his unreconciled feelings for him. Glenn’s body was the one found by the door.
The third floor found the party exploring an extensive library, followed by a small study, where Edwin Viktor’s journal was found. This journal detailed Viktor’s coming to set up home in the tower, and his eventual change in interest from botany to ancient cultures, ancient magics and lore. Edwin believed that he could discover why magic changed, and spoke often of hidden keys to “unlock the world”. The name of the ancient mage “Ythran the Mad” came up many times. As his searches went on, he apparently believed that he was being watched or followed, and he decided to steal an object of great value from this unnamed enemy- a huge diamond that was somehow useful to them. He believed that by weakening the enemy in this way and depriving them of this item that he would then be able to retrieve one of the “keys”.
Camille also found a beautiful uncut stone in the desk drawer that seemed to react to her thoughts.
In Edwin’s bedroom the group found a beautiful stained glass window of a muscular, winged, elephant headed man. Shinymonger recognized the image as one that was in a temple beneath Thrax, but further discussion was ended when a strange web-footed and clawed humanoid burst through the window and attacked. He was quickly dispatched by the party, first wounding him, then blasting him out the third story window by Camille. A second creature was found climbing the wall and he too was knocked down, this time by Shinymonger’s lightning. Camille finished them off as they lay 3 stories below, burning them to crispy frogleg sauté with a fireball.
An open collection of notes was found near Edwin’s bed, with comments on “the hidden keys”, “the 23rd aether”, “cold iron”, and something about a city built over a temple.
The fourth floor brought the party to Viktor’s lab. The professor made note of the strange patterns in the stained glass in this room, and making a brilliant deduction, discovered that moving a series of glass bottles on stands in front of the window would result in a map being projected on the tabletop. This map showed the kingdoms of Drelalind and Adassi, with a strange symbol: marked below Galantri, and another near Gorna in the Southern kingdom.
A series of potions and herbal extracts were found in a cupboard, and Harvey found one of them to be extremely useful for healing his wounds.
A chest in the room had a strange starlike symbol: on it, which matched a necklace that Shinymonger had found in Thrax. In the chest was a scrawled parchment with Edwin Viktor’s last words:
Scrawled on the back was just one final note “tell Jasmine I love her.”
The party deduced that a diamond was locked in the cellar, beneath a lock which could be opened by the answer to a riddle. His intent was clearly not to make the diamond secure against men, but to encase it in such a way that the servants of his enemy would be blocked by the sigil, and only reasoning beings could deduce the answer and open the lock.
Another chest in the same room contained a goodly sum of coins and a strange copper ladle.
In the basement, the party found a cage with a skeleton of one of the strange frogmen, two chests and a pedastal with a cylinder atop it. This cylinder was marked with the same strange star-symbol, and had four numbered bands upon it. The professor quickly entered the correct combination and opened the lock, revealing an immense dazzling diamond, and a pair of strange scrolls with markings upon them that the party did not understand.
Two other chests in the room were opened and the group found a golf-ball sized dazzling jewel, a large piece of polished granite shaped like a keystone on an iron chain, a glowing necklace of pearls, a black leather whip, a large black bow, and a pair of dark leather boots with silver clasps.