The Children of Eisenwald

Time's Not On Our Side

The tower gets weirder still...

Having been badly injured in the last fight, the party stops to rest in the ritual chamber, hoping it might restore some of their drained strength. As Siegfried bolsters the party's resolve with a Song of Rest, his keen ears pick up something amiss with the strange way the notes hang in the air when one passes in or out of the chamber, and he determines that there is something different about the way time passes in the ritual chamber. Bereft of the sun to mark the passage of time objectively in the basement of the tower, the party quickly leaves the ritual chamber to head towards the path opened by Vorax, lest they accidentally spend longer than they intend to inside.

On the way, they find a room to the right of the indicated path. Ugo sends an illusion of Sting in ahead, and the party follows when no one reacts to its snarling and posturing. Inside, they meet Paul, whom Sasha identifies as another hireling of Dasha. Though Paul is apparently uninjured, they find him rocking back and forth in a corner babbling and claiming to hear voices, so Siegfried uses his music to calm him and he then becomes somewhat more coherent. He knows nothing the party doesn't already know or suspect, except that he claims to have seen an older version of Coge at some point in the past or future. (He seems to be having particular trouble articulating concepts pertaining to time.) He also gives the party a scrap of parchment with a diagram on it, requesting that they pass it on to his son…and then his wife…and then himself, as he begins to break down in coherence again. At Siegfried's urging, the party moves on, but leaves Sasha to watch over (and perhaps sing to) the confused but harmless man while they follow Albert's trail to the north.

The trail leads to a perilous bridge across a deep chasm. The bridge appears to be riddled with holes through which the wind whistles. Siegfried, skeptical about the integrity of such a porous bridge, tosses a rock onto it. The rock promptly swarmed by two-tailed scorpions that mill around the stone before seemingly losing interest and retreating back into the holes. Evonni tries to run across before the scorpions can emerge but isn't quite fast enough, only just managing to jump back and avoid being swarmed. Working together, Coge and Buu are able to freeze water transported from the ritual chamber to temporarily plug the holes in the bridge. The scorpions immediately begin burrowing through the ice, but it holds long enough for the party to slip, slide, and otherwise comically pratfall their way across the perilously slick bridge.

On the other side, they find what appears to be some kind of throne room with an ominous looking throne flanked by three pillars on either side, sitting atop a mosaic featuring the tower's now familiar tentacle-and-eye motif. (Evonni notes that the diagram Paul gave her matches the layout of the room, and has an arrow pointing to one of the pillars.) Ugo uses Detect Magic, and notes a handful of weak magical sources, and a stronger one beyond the room. He also sees a trace of illusion magic, which Siegfried investigates, discovering that the roaring fire behind the throne is not real but conceals a locked door. 

Reasoning that the pillar on the diagram may hold some clue, Siegfried investigates it and finds nothing. Buu suggests he try the opposite pillar since the party doesn't know the correct orientation of the diagram, and he finds a concealed button. Before he can do anything else, Ugo grows bored and sits in the throne.

Ugo is then surprised to find himself alone, except for a newcomer who startles him by introducing himself as king and inquiring as to why Ugo is sitting on his throne. Ugo questions him about the party's whereabouts and Albert's kidnapping, but apart from being alarmed that children are being kidnapped in his kingdom, the "king" doesn't seem to know anything, including how Ugo arrived in his throne room. The king confides that he rarely gets to see anyone in the kingdom at all, except for a man he describes as being tall, white haired (but not old) and dressed all in white, which makes Ugo think of Coge.

Displaying an almost childlike enthusiasm about the situation, the king then offers to accompany Ugo to save Albert and draws his sword for the purpose. On discussing it with the king, Ugo decides to try sitting down again, and when that doesn't send him back he jumps up in frustration, and promptly finds himself back in the throne room.

Naturally, Ugo struggles to explain what just happened to the party (from their point of view, all that happened was that Ugo sat down for a second and then jumped up again) but eventually Siegfried begins to follow what he's saying and hypothesizes that this might be something similar to the strange way time passes in the ritual chamber. Buu makes a connection with Paul's statement of seeing someone who looked like an older Coge, suggesting that the man in white the king referred to might be Coge's father or another ancestor, which Coge doubts. Ugo gets Siegfried to sit in the throne, but nothing happens.

Buu then volunteers to sit, and finds himself facing a myconid that looks like a healthy, un-bedraggled version of the late Grand Sovereign Osho, flanked by two other myconids.  Osho loudly declares, "We will never be your servants! You may swarm over our lands, you may burn our trees, but you will not be our king!" and then slams the butt of his staff into the floor before the throne, creating a shockwave that throws Buu back into the royal chair with enough force to cause him to bounce off it and onto the floor.

Buu then finds himself back amongst the party  (who only saw Buu sit and then be thrown onto the floor by an unseen force) and relates his experience, wondering why nothing happened to Siegfried. Siegfried conjectures that perhaps Buu and Ugo have some kind of ancestral connection with the people they saw when sitting in the throne, but adds that he is growing impatient to get to Albert and then impulsively pushes the button he found on the pillar.

Fortunately for the party, the button evidently unlocks the door Siegfried found hidden by the illusory fire behind the throne, because Siegfried tries the door again on a hunch and finds to be unlocked this time. Proceeding inside, they find a man matching Sasha's description of her former employer Dasha holding a bound Albert above an altar in the center of the room, a knife at his throat. Nearby, two other small bodies lay unmoving. 

Before they can react, Dasha snarls "You're too late!" and cuts the boy's throat, throwing him down on the altar.

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