Floor U4 (Air Dorms)

Entry

The fourth floor is another visibility risk. Thick panes of glass or crystal seem to be worked haphazardly into windows on the tower. The panes are very thick and cloudy, making it hard to see anything outside. At night, light inside is visible from outside. The mage lights start to come up in arbitrarily arranged points, in all seven colors such that the total lighting of the room is even and white, but objects cast strange rainbow shadows. It’s not incredibly bright, but probably visible outside.

The floor wraps clockwise around some kind of central area. The shapes are seemingly random, tables that once were piled with scrolls are pushed into the corners with no obvious reason for their orientation, and even a quick glance around the corner is enough to spot a couple of small beds in a bigger nook. There are stains on the tables as if scrolls sat there for ages and then were removed; nothing obviously useful is apparent to a quick glance. It is hardly damp at all up here, so the scrolls might have survived… if they can find where the order mages carted them off to. The walls are painted in flowing, abstract rainbow colors, mostly in curls and more-or-less horizontal lines that look like currents of air.

When people do the rainbow dance from below, climbing the stairs, the tones of their passing are louder up here, though not blastingly loud. Likely, the denizens would get pretty good warning of people approaching this floor from the lower one.

Ducking back down the stairs cuts the lights, and spellcasters wielding a key can try different words for “darkness” in Magespeech, using a sufficiently commanding tone, to get them to turn off.

Inside

The floor continues in a clockwise spiral with furniture in a largely unfathomable arrangement. Though the feather stuffing of the mattresses has long decayed into dust with the periodic preserved stems, the fabrics still retain some shape and color (though one probably wouldn’t want to sleep in them) and the frames are in remarkably good shape. Similarly, all the tables are mostly intact. A good blow could probably shatter the ancient wood, but at least it’s not already rotted into powder. There might be treasure to be found by digging through the furniture (which would probably take about half an hour of careful searching or 15 minutes if the party doesn’t care about destroying these artifacts of an ancient time), but nothing is immediately obvious.

By the inner ring, it’s safe to light candles without fear of the light being visible. The murals of wind continue on the wall’s side that faces outward, but the wall’s side that faces the center of the tower are more pictographic. Done in an archaic style (think Egyptian tomb paintings or Bayeux Tapestry; no perspective), it seems to be pictures of mages performing some kind of ritual, possibly in the light of the oddly shaped windows on the outer wall of this floor.

In the center, a large ritual circle is carved into the floor, with two smaller circles to the north and east. To magic detection, they are inactive, but still potent permanent summoning circles. The easternmost table on the inner ring contains a few hastily hand-bound folios seemingly comprised of pieces of salvaged scrolls, and a note on top in Salome’s handwriting (this one not water damaged to any meaningful extent).

One folio contains a primer that explains the murals on the wall (how to attune to Air), while one contains what seems to be treatises that could be used to learn some air-related spells and rituals (up to 3rd level). Both will take some time to decipher, since they’re in a combination of Ancient Imperial and Magespeech, and would be somewhat alien to modern understanding of magic.

Air Dorms Note

The scrolls here were much better-preserved, but more obviously simply missing. It is likely they were the easiest to flee with. I believe the top floor was what was referred to as the Sky Road. They would use the massive circle to call up air elementals and bind them to service. With the help of the elemental and crude gliding apparati detailed in some of the scrolls, they could safely leap from the bays in the tower and travel great distances by air. I do not believe this was true flight, particularly for the more portly of magi, but they could likely travel miles for every foot they fell, and do so at great speed. A very effective way to get around indeed. This is likely how most of the remaining magi fled.

As with the fire dorms, there were ample primers to assemble a completed copy of instructions of the introductory binding technique to air. Their operative understanding of air was its elasticity, and the cantrip seems to impart a way to draw in the nearby air (possibly depriving those that need it for their breath) and then release it in an explosion of wind. Not as exciting as summoning up fire, but possibly more versatile for everyday uses.

Unlike the fire mages, there seem to be no hidden or locked areas, beyond the annoying puzzle to get to this level. I believe I’ll check below next.

Salome

Of all the cantrips, this one sounds the most useful. I believe I will learn it, and ideally pass it on to others in the Order. It could be incredibly useful for certain problems of mechanical optimization.

As with the previous floor, I will store the more advanced texts in the library room I have cleared below. I don’t know what Salome was thinking, simply leaving such things lying around.

Hieronymus

Air Bonding Cantrip (Int)

Air is elastic and compressible. This cantrip allows the caster to attract nearby air and compress it into a small orb, then release it slowly or explosively. This can starve air from a sealed room, save air for a trip underwater, knock back a target, or propel a projectile.

The caster can only maintain a single orb of air at a time, and doing so makes it impossible to cast new cantrips, spells, or rituals, or maintain any existing effects that require major concentration. The normal application saves enough air to empty a cube five feet on a side, provide eight hours of breathing, force a target to save or be knocked down or back, or provide standard damage to a projectile. The cantrip can be cast and thrown at a target as a single action, but all other actions require the cantrip to be cast on one round and then used for other purposes on the next (e.g., one round to cast and load a firearm, then the next to fire it).

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may compress more air. For each -3 penalty, the caster empties an additional five-foot cube, which provides an extra eight hours of breath, or +1d6 damage (either from a projectile or if the target of a knockback impacts a wall).

(This cantrip is my answer to not wanting to allow gunpowder in my game, but to allow those that want guns to have a magic-powered equivalent.)

Search

A thorough search of the beds and tables turns up:

  • 39 cp, 173 sp, and 2 gp all of ancient minting, heavily tarnished, mostly crammed into corners under mattresses, but some fallen behind tables
  • A few objects of art carved of stone, mostly white stone and in shapes like birds and butterflies (possibly up to 200 sp for the lot if one could convince a collector of the provenance)
  • A thin, rune-carved stick of approximately a forearm-length in a delicate and slightly spiraling white wood that senses of magic (hidden deep in a mattress that had been cut open to hide it)
  • A castable scroll that had fallen behind a table where the order mages missed it, which seems to be a scroll of the Summoning ritual

Floor U5 (Air Summoning)

Entry

The top floor is completely open, with just corner pillars to hold up the roof. At nighttime, the party might have to shout down the mage lights again, because there aren’t really even walls: there’s a faint distortion in the air that seems to be the tower’s defensive field (and which had let neither bugs nor climbers in for a thousand years), but air flows freely and one can easily see city below.

A massive summoning circle is set into the middle of the floor, and ancient empty tables are haphazardly spread out and empty, save for scraps of leather, softwood, and fabric that might have once been gliders. The mage lights, if not shut off, are on the ceiling, mimicking stars.

This ritual circle makes it very easy to call up air elementals. The walls are permeable walls of force, which permit air to flow both ways and allow people to leave and attack from inside, but block travel from outside.

There is no roof access, though an enterprising climber or flyer could leave and climb to its flat top. There is nothing of note up there (save perhaps some nesting birds), and leaving makes it impossible to get back in without going back down to the bottom of the tower (hopefully there are still friends inside who can lower a rope).

Floor B1 (Cafeteria)

Entry

The first basement is even more humid than the entry floor. It appears to be the dining hall and kitchens. Everything organic and steel has turned to damp dust, and the party can make out the shadows of once-giant tables in the detritus on the floor. It may not have been large enough for everyone from the tower to eat here at once, but certainly in shifts. Side rooms were likely staff dining or meeting rooms, or maybe they had preferred seating for top students? The southeast room has some plumbing and holes in the floor, so may have been a large bathroom (which is convenient to meals but maybe not the most convenient for students on other floors).

Of the large kitchen, all that remains is a stone hearth and island with inset basins for cleaning, as well as shattered shards of pottery plates, mugs, and bowls in the dust off what must have once been cabinets. Searching through the remains, the party can find 75 sp worth of miscellaneous silverware, bent and tarnished. They don’t add up to sets and there’s not a lot of them, so likely someone looted the silver already (either during the flight, or one of the order mages) and this is all that went undiscovered.

In the Northeast dining room, someone managed to assemble a table from scraps and close the doors against the damp. A few decade+ old bags contain food that has long deteriorated and camping supplies that aren’t particular upgrades to the party’s own (and are also beginning to succumb to the damp). This seems to be where one of the order mages set up a command center. A couple of letters in a pack look to have been unsealed, read, and then refolded sufficiently to survive without significant water damage.

(Zacharias is the name of the former court mage of the PCs’ local Baron, who trained one of the wizard PCs and went missing recently. Lazarus and Judith were not previously known to the party, and are a quest hook. These letters likely need to be heavily edited to fit the context/hooks of any given campaign.)

Letters

Salome,

I appreciate the research you sent along regarding the water magics you’ve uncovered in the tower. It does sound like their conception of the uses of water are much closer to what we’d consider the more active uses of abjuration magic. It’s interesting that they saw it as a cleansing, scouring force rather than a source of sustenance. Perhaps they assigned the source of healing and life to the earth, which would track given their rather nonchalant use of necromancy: if you’re used to covering people with earth to heal them, it’s probably less inherently offputting to summon the dead forth from their graves.

Unfortunately, even though I’m now safely ensconced in nearby Heimbach, I do not believe that I can spare the time to help you research physically at the tower. I see a lot of potential in the baron’s second son, and hope to confirm that he has the gift and ease him into training early. As you well know, the children of the nobility can be difficult students if taken after they have a sense of their own importance. In fact, the town itself seems to be a confluence almost as interesting as the tower. We have fae foundlings taken in by the locals, motherless babes delivered to town by close-lipped warriors from the north, a golden-haired child that seems destined for greatness, twin scamps fostered from a storied line of nobles, and whatever secretive plans the old witch in the town has cooked up. I suspect in a decade or two, you may start hearing interesting things from this town.

Feel free to continue to send me correspondence as needed, and you’re, of course, welcome to stop by Heimbach if you’d like in-person counsel. If you have a current address for Lazarus, he could likely assist with the earth magics. I believe Judith retains her long practice of wintering in Grebenau, and her divinations would likely be of great use to you. The next time Magdalena passes through for a… visit… I’ll see if she has any insights. You would also do well to correspond with Hieronymus. He can receive mail via the Zedlitz, from whom he rents a tower. His research into transmutation may be relevant to correspondences between elements, and he’s a shrewd organizer of research.

Yours,

Zacharias

Salome,

Regardless of the fact that you have not yet encountered anything more than passive security in the tower, I must caution you in the strongest of terms not to enter the earth mages’ basement without significant assistance. From what you sent me, their conception of earth is not just a healing, nourishing force, but one of containment. I suspect it’s very likely that if there are any active threats remaining in that building, they will be locked away beneath the earth.

Not once in our association have you ever listened to my advice, but please listen now. I have set up a place in Overath, and am even now assembling a party to investigate the cursed city to the north. Come. Lend your evocations to our mission, and I will then lend you my own expertise and the might of my allies to investigate the tower.

With hopes,

Lazarus

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