While resting at the edge of the fen, the party questioned Antarcus, their former adversary and now friend (charmed by Cadwallider). He reiterated his hatred of his employer, Leptos, who had failed to pay them for months and generally treated them poorly. Anatarcus had no concern for his fallen men whatsoever, as they were “common brigands” and not worth mourning. He was very interested in revenge. The bird the party had seen was his hawk, sent to ask the Lizardman king for aid in repelling the party. They worshipped the beacon, he told them, and were easily manipulated because of it. He should be able to talk past them, if necessary, though a bribe might also be needful. In the Keep with Leptos was his concubine, Hardrack his bodyguard, some carrion crawlers tamed by the wizard, and some weird glowing mist things that sucked blood. He mentioned that throwing them a carcass would keep them occupied, though the party was short of carcasses at the moment. Leptos, he further explained, was a servant or apprentice of Baltron, who came to the Keep the previous year, but was slain in some sort of incident, the same which caused the Beacon to begin shining. He and the badnits had been hired by Leptos to protect him while he poked around the Keep.
The next day, the party returned by raft to the Keep, noting a weird flying bat-like creature watching them. That was a creature of Leptos, Antarcus explained; he would be ready for them.. They were accosted at the gatehouse by a force of two score Lizardmen, but Atarcus parleyed with them, and a bribe of 400 silver got them to stand down. Passing inside, they came to the inner Keep, with a stairway leading up. There was a gap from there to the entrance, crossed by a few boards. A closed portcullis was inside, Antarcus explained, and would need to be opened. Also, the party determined that a man with a fire arrow was down the hall, while above were murder holes from which oil could be poured, Antarcus explained. The party now sensed that spells were being cast through one of the arrow slits, though without effect.
Thren took a potion of hill giant strength. With Iban, and both now invisible, they slipped forward to open the portcullis. But, from an arrow slit shot magic missiles that impacted Thren. But the portcullis was opened and the rest of the party rushed forward as oil poured down and was ignited by a flaming arrow. When through, the gate slammed down but Thren had gone down in the hallway outside. Carrion crawlers were the first enemy encountered, though Cadwallider drove one off with fear. This was followed by a human warrior, one Hardrack, who fought madly but could not stand up to the entire party. Passing him the party came to Leptos and his leman in what appeared to be an alchemical laboratory. A wave of fear passed over the party, but only Antarcus succumbed to it and ran back from the room. The wizard was hard pressed and only got off a single spell or two before being overwhelmed. Upon his death, the woman suddenly turned into a tiger (literally) and attacked, but was also slain.
ZZ and Aldeberon (two PCs anyway, forget which) moved back to find Antarcus. They noted ahole in the floor and the portcullis still shut, but could not find him. Instead, they ran into the mist monsters that attacked and nearly slew them both before they finished them off. However, they were in very poor shape and returned to the rest of the party, sorely hurt. The party now locked themselves in the lab for four days, resting and recovering from a few near death experiences! Antarcus was missing and presumed dead. Thren was dead. But at least the wizard and his folk were also gone.
When the long rest ended, the party explored the Keep around them. They discovered two spellbooks to Iban and Cadwallider’s delight, as well as numerous other esoteric books in a library. They also found several ivory keys and a room containing a large stone platform with a keyhole and runes reading ANNOTIUM SHINER PAWMS DALINS NOUDENG (once read magic was cast). They tried a key and it fit; when inserted, a glowing arrow appeared in mid air pointed at the ANNOTIUM runes. <and we paused thereabouts>
– Experience: carried over