The noise came up from the stairs below. Something was ascending from level 5 of the tower.
All, but Scathe ran to the spiral stairwell to meet it. “Stand down!” was heard from below. The heroes charged into battle against enlarged gnoll-like creatures and the Blackheart, a wizard with a strong will and some bite in his spells. Xabier critically crashed his axe blade into one of the Blackhearts guards.
Kal Kathier and Shivon fey stepped past the guards to the Blackheart and the battle ensued. After one of the guards was killed, Kal Kathier was knocked unconscious amidst a whirling dervish move he made. Scathe immediately revived him.
Scathe continued to walk amongst the wounded, healing and empowering better defenses against this evil attack. The Blackheart began to convince some in the group that they would fall to the White Wizard, even if they defeated the Blackheart and would become controlled by the White Wizard together.
Shivon and Kal Kathier continued to use their powers of movement to swap places with their allies, sometimes bringing Xabier up to level a deadly blow and sometimes returning into the fray to the surprise of their enemy. Kissandi isolated foes and carefully prepared them to meet the Raven Queen.
After the guards were destroyed it was only a matter of time before the Blackheart fell, too.
The heroes, wounded and tired, ascended the stairs in hopes of resting in the library. Before reaching the top of the stairs, each character received a deathly visage from the White Wizard, each seeing or foreseeing his/her own death at the hands of the White Wizard, and feeling the loss of what could have been or what went wrong.
After these harrowing moments, the heroes reached the top of the stairwell to witness the White Wizard waiting for them. The bookcases that remained standing all collapsed like dominoes away from the White Wizard.
Kal Kathier tried to parlay with the White Wizard who seemed to be offering a chance to leave if the heroes were to share something that he deemed useful. Before the parlay could go far, Kissandi and Xabier dashed forward into battle, Kal Kathier was unable to stop them.
Kal Kathier, Shivon, and Scathe were not convinced to attack. After one attack Xabier received a vision that gave him pause from attack. Kissandi was stunned by the White Wizard.
More discussion followed. Shivon tried unsuccessfully so far to convince the lich to destroy Ivania and Vorno. Kal Kathier continued to talk with the White Wizard.
Scathe came forward and offered a blood vial to him with her bone hand. This effort seemed to relieve the tension that in the air, if only for a moment.
Kissandi, unstunned, rejoined her attack, leveling a powerful radiant energy upon the lich. The lich who had been regaining his size and stature since the initial attacks seemed to shrink a little in size and appeared to notice the power of this attack.
To be continued…