Just a half day from Telse, the group is in a different land.They passed one of the guard towers being built as defense in depth. Five towers are being built. One to the west, one on the road to Sheljar, another to the Ferments and then each river has a tower as well.
Today, back towards that western tower they see smoke, closer they see a small Halfling riding an axebeak. A fox plays at the feat of the war bird. It closes on them rapidly. It’s heavy head bobbing and the tiny person swaying, holding onto reigns like they are handles.
The prior evening’s death is behind them. They are a touch wary, but Shonie recognizes young Mo. The rest recall the Telsian as one of those processed to the jail. He is one of them, but not yet blooded. His worth not yet known, he is accepted.
At the split in the trail, it is certainly not a road, they must make a choice. The trail edging to the south heads towards the Cliffs of Gallinor and a Goliath community. They tend to be ignore Telsian affairs and focus on their dream, the land of Gallinor, where Goliaths are free. Birds large enough to ride thrive and people are respected for their thoughts, their arts and their words, not power.
The Five (now six) take the path north. A large shadow drifts overhead. Saffron looks up and sees an eagle so large it is unnatural. They head to Dakhan Thaeeb, the Smolders. These active volcanoes lack wealth. There are communities scattered in these mountains.Some farm a weed, others a seed. It is a land where lava will flow at times.
The nearest town, hardly a town, acts as a central market for these independent farmers. There the Five learn that there is a mystic nearby. This clue comes from a local boy, who offers to help Saffron. An illness came over her. She stays behind, as the the Five (actually five again) move towards a waterfall and pool inside the darkest of woods.
Beyond that point will be a tower of glass. It takes them some time to get to the falls, but they see a light with that note that visually declares it is behind glass. Determined, the group pushes on. There are many webs, eventually two stupid, and large, spiders try to stop them.
They are a mere nuisance.
After the arachnids, the group breaks out of the trees. Darkness wasn’t too dark. Without the forest there is enough light to continue.
Like most shared buildings in Kin this Tower of Glass is built with Goliaths in mind. The main entry is a double-door big enough for the huge people. There is also a smaller door for Halflings, with a tiny entry for dogs and an open window for small birds. Each of the three floors is about 12 feet high. Mostly wood, the third floor features huge glass panes and a shake roof.
A Goliath with grey skin, grey hair and a grey braided thrown over his shoulder opens the doors.
He has an ancient axebeak at his side and a raven on his shoulder.
His movement is slow. With a straight back he is probably near 11 feet tall, but he is now quite hunched. He walks down a spiral stair to a large cushioned chair. He is weak. He needs the soft space. The basement also has large cushioned spaces for his aged axebeak. On both floors are hundreds of books and scrolls.
Mo and Samul do not follow the group. Both charge up the stairs, youthful exuberance gives them hope that they can learn the space before they are missed. The second story is a huge bedroom, again there are books on shelves and piled on the floor. Samul starts to search.
In the basement.
“What brings you?”
Aamar answers “We came from Telse and seek the Lorebook. Who are you?”
“I am Cortez. Why do you seek this book?”
Mo sprints up the the third floor. A small book intrigues him. It is sized for a Halfling, though there are markings that look as if it was bitten by a bird.
“For it’s knowledge, for answers.”
There is a crashing sound. A second later another crashing noise. It is as if hundreds of wine glasses fall to the floor at once. A thud.
Below the mood changes, it isn’t the mix between introductions and interrogation. Now it is alertness. There is violence here.
Samul is the first to the third floor. Two eagles are present. They have riding equipment. Two men are with them. Samul sees Maurice’s body on the floor. One of the men stands over him. The other takes a colossal book from a space of nothingness into his hands. Samul charges, whipping his chain about his head.
The man that struck Mo is crushed. The other leaps aboard the eagle closest to him.
Behn’s head pops above the floor. His assessment is quick. His crossbow is in hand.
Shonie calls out to Aamar, “the doors!” Someone is knocking them down. Shonie grabs the beast companions of all and takes them to safety (?) in the basement. Aamar and Bernie, the bear cub, guard the door. There is a group of men and wolves there.
Samul’s taken out one of the riders, but the other flies off. Behn rushes the window in time for a single shot – a hit! The other rider and book fall, right to the feet of a man in chain mail. Nearby is another human, this time with a long bow aimed towards the door. They are on a ridge about 70 or feet from Behn at the edge of the window.
Those two now have the book, and a dead body and a very live giant eagle.
Rather than leap from the windows Behn and Samul rush down the stairs to the first floor. They want that book back.
There is a problem. A man and two women, all wearing wolf masks are at the doors. Not too surprisingly they have two wolves with them. Samul, Behn, Aamar and Bernie are engaged. Things are touch and go. Bernie is told to retreat as the small bear is severely wounded. He heads down to the basement with Shonie and the dogs.
Cortez crests the stairway when the conflict is down to a single wolf and woman. His firebolt blasts the wolf into nothingness. It is not singed, it is a poof of ash. One of the Five drops the woman, as the others exit the Tower.
Another group is approaching. An arrow just misses Behn. Off to the west a copse of trees burns.
This group is another three humans with masks. They have just one wolf. Cortez lets off another blast, this one misses, the partially obscured man dodges out of the way. Another tree now burns.
Clubs, swords, chains, bolts and arrows fly. Combat is fast.
In the distance more fires are starting, the longbowman is not firing on the Five and the Tower. Something is moving through the woods and drawing his fire. The man in chain mail mounts the eagle of the fallen acolyte and escapes.
Behn is hit and goes down. Aamar and Samul are what is left. They leave a path of waste behind them, but the book is gone. The movement in the distance is huge; it is a Goliath. He seems to be acting in support.
The opposing bowman is gone. He’s fled back on the ground, but that Goliath has the sickly body of Saffron with him.
Tension eases. The Five live, and are reunited. But most are wounded. The Glass Tower is damaged. The forest is afire.
“What brings you Mansaray Falcon?”
“The Laksais son left this tiny woman vomiting in their barn. Master Laksai asked me to bring her to you for healing.”
“Ah, yes,” Cortez answered. “I can help her. Can you and you help put out those fires?” He points to Mansaray and the recently healed by Aamar Behn. “You, bring me the tiny one from the observatory. I can heal him.”
Samul heads up the stairs.
Cortez pours a concoction down Saffron’s throat.
Repairing the group and the Tower takes some amount of time. They put out the fires. Not all can heal fully. They need rest. Only Aamar and Saffron are capable of moving on, so under Cortez’ instruction they chase the one that left on foot.
It is the deepest of night, in unfamiliar territory, but the group needs information. They go.