It would seem Harak Valnore had much in common with the party. After a brief introduction the party soon learned that the stout dwarf was a member of the ascetic Order of the Gauntlet and was on a similar mission. Nish, however, was a little concerned. He had heard of the order's draconian brand of justice and how members would employ extremely harsh punishment for those who broke the "law". Nish thought of the group as a bunch of radical zealots who oppressed people for their own holier than thou gains but for now their paths seemed to be aligned. Nish would have to keep a close eye on the dwarf.
Harak explained to the group that Ushien Stormbanner the leader of the Knights of Samular of Summit Hall had charged him with a very important mission. He was to find the body of the renown knight that traveled with the missing delegation and bring him to Summit Hall so he could be interred with honors and given the proper burial he deserved. The party agreed to join forces with the dwarf as they had similar goals. Now they just had to decide what to do next.
Before the group arrived on the scene, Harak had carefully searched the freshly occupied graves on the hill. He discovered pretty much what Orfil had but with one extra detail. The woman in the grave had the emblem of a red axe on her surcoat. This was the symbol of the Guards of Mirabar and she was a long way from home. The only reasonable explanation was that she was part of the entourage of the Mirabean delegation. But what was she doing this far southwest of Beliard?
The group decided to follow the trail of the ones who escaped to the south. They soon realized that whoever it was that ran to the south, soon made a beeline to the Cairn Road and then north toward Red Larch. The party was not about to return to Red Larch. They debated going to the Bargewright Inn, Beliard…. anywhere but the Spire full of mounted aereal knights! But Feathergale Spire was much closer than anything else and it was a very good lead to pursue. And while the thought of going toe to toe with mounted knights was not a very reassuring stratagem perhaps the long walk towards the spire would inspire a less barmy modus operendi.
Before the party knew it, the spire and it's greatness came into full view.
Feathergale Spire rises from a pillar of rock high into the air, the tallest point for miles. Built from white limestone and embellished in marble, the spire resembles a gleaming sword that pierces the sky. The gatehouse faces the opposite cliff, its drawbridge the only apparent point of entry. Tall, wide windows encompass the bottom level of the tower, absent only upon the gatehouse side. A circle of open stalls rings the towers foundation where it meets the rock. Above each stall, the sculpture of a hippogriff in flight leaps from the towers base. Beneath Feathergale Spire to the east, a wide gusty canyon yawns through the hills.
The party contemplated submerging into the canyon below and making a more clandestine approach but they decide to throw care into the wind instead. They walked right toward the spire. It was a beautiful sunny day not a cloud in the sky. Visibility stretched out for miles and the group was sure they had been spotted by now. A glint of reflected light was seen from the pinnacle of the spire and a mounted knight was seen leaving the spire and disappearing into the canyon. The winds became more and more agitated as the group grew closer. From a low whistle to ear numbing howl by the time they reached the moat.
Orfil proclaimed, "this is the dumbest place to put a bell, you know if you really wanted to make full use of this bell's auditory capabilities you would have placed it inside the keep with some sort of ringing mechanism out here, pfff this is absolutely absurd!!!" Torbin rang the moat bell and to Orfil's amazement the bell was heard clearly echoing throughout the entire Sighing Valley. A portal window in the iron reinforced wooden doors opens and a young woman's face appears with a smile.
Savra, Feathergale Knight proclaims, "Welcome to Feathergale Spire! The Feathergale Society welcomes all new recruits to our magnificent spire! You are all in luck. You've come to our doors on the eve of our society's 10th annual celebration! Captain Thurl Merosska will be most anxious to meet our new future brethren and he will quell and satisfy all your questions. Men, open the doors for our new guests!"
With much presentiment the party approached the opening doors. Nish noticed a trap and tried to warn the others. It was a battering ram made of large timber reinforced with the steel body and head of an eagle. It was ominously suspended at the end of the long hall and threatened anyone entering through the doors. "Come now! Don't be shy, come on in Thurl will want to meet with you post haste" reassured Savra. The party was cautious but did not feel any immediate threat and so, walk through the doors and followed Savra. The spires's floors were very tall about 20' high and they were connected by a center spiral staircase which the group ascended all the way to the pinnacle.
The pinnacle… or the apex of the tower, the stairs terminate at a round stone gazebo that continues upward in a needle-like minaret. Beyond this enclosure, a small lawn grows upon the top of the tower. Four paths paved with white stones point the directions of the compass, each path ending in a pointed stone crenellation. At the pinnacles edge is a spyglass on a tripod, pointed downward. From this vantage point, the Feathergale Knights possess a supreme view of all that transpires in the nearby canyon called the Sighing Valley and the Sumber Hills beyond.
"Ah yes, new recruits, thank you for bringing them to me Savra" said Thurl
Thurl Merosska a middle aged man that dons full plate, a great sword at this side, and a lavish cloak of feathers; he is never too far away from his lance either. He was flanked by two feathergale knights, whose giant vulture mounts carefully eyed the party from close by perched positions. The party and Thurl parleyed for a while and brought up the subject of fresh graves not too far from here. Thurl became genuinely upset at the mention of the earth cult and reviled them as an evil bunch of thugs to the party's bewilderment. He said they were a plague on the surrounding area and did not mince words to show his disdain for them. Thurl was pleased to learn the party had dispatched over 30 of these vile earth cult members and was very excited to hear all about the party's encounters with them. However, he professed that his eagerness to hear about their adventures must have to wait to the great feast. Unfortunately, he was quite busy with some other duties that he must attend to and he abruptly dismissed the party. "Savra please escort our guests to their quarters and show them all the hospitality that Feathergale could afford" Thurl directed.
Savra showed the party to their rooms where a few of the spire's members were already in the process of preparing. They were moving chests out from the rooms to accommodate the new guests. Savra, very politely told the party to please let them know anything at all that they may need and then she retired, promising to see them soon at the feast. She turned with a smile and closed the door. Nish's ears quickly raised up in astonishment, "she locked us in!" The party was aghast but there was not much they could do besides climbing out the window and taking their chances with a 400 ft + fall. So they waited till the feast. When Savra came for them they quickly asked why she had locked them in their quarters. She very amiably responded that it would be foolish for them to just let strangers wander their keep even thought they had the best of intentions and wanted to eagerly join their society. "You do understand, yes? Please do not be offended… Now on with the celebrations! The great feast awaits! Follow me shall we?" Savra declared with a smile.
The Great Hall: This great hall spans half the diameter of the tower. Between the overlarge windows, tapestries depict scenes of gallant knights on flying hippogriffs, fighting dragons and jousting with one another among the clouds. High on the walls are the mounted heads of griffons, wyverns, owlbears, and manticores. A long, curved table set for a feast stretches between the halls twin hearths.
Thurl raised a chalice when he saw the party approach, "Men may I introduce to you the new prospective members of the Feathergale Society. These men have killed over 30 of the vile earth cultists! … And have come to join our ranks!!!" The hall erupted with cheers. The party was seated at the main table with Thurl and many of his knights. The party had many questions and so did Thurl. The wine and ale flowed and the meal was quite tasty….. chicken it appeared to be but Ennalis got became eerily suspicious when he saw Nish smelling his food cautiously…. "This wouldn't be vulture would it? They wouldn't serve us VULTURE WOULD THEY!!!" Ennalis' mind raced with dread. Just then the doors of the great hall flared open! The men from the pinnacle could be heard screaming "MANTICORE MANTICOOORE!!!"…. "Sire the men have spotted the manticore hunting nearby!" said one of the men as he burst through the doors. "Splendid!" rejoiced Thurl, "what a better way to commemorate such a great feast than with a hunt!" …. "I ask for 4 volunteers to join our new recruits and bring me the head of this monster" Thurl stood up and displayed a very elegant gold ring, "This shall be the prize to the one that kills the beast and brings me its head to mount on the wall" …. Ennalis looked around quite perplexed "Did I just hear him say 'join our new recruits' is that what he said?" … Ennalis beckoned his companions to assure him this was not so. Thurl continued, "Ah very well you, you ….you and you hahahahaha yes you four will champion the cause. Hurry, show our guest to the stables and ready their hippogrifs for combat" …. Orfil, "what the shit did he say?"
Before they knew it the party was trying to hand feed said hippogrifs that were not really taking a liking to them as the knights had assured them and then saddling them up. "You know lads dwarves are not real effective in aereal combat we are more of the ground type of fighters, so there really is no used in preparing a mount for me you know" Harak tried to squirm his way out of it to no avail….Ennalis looked at Nish with a prominent tremble in his hands as he strapped on his saddle to his mount, "Are we really going through with this?!?"