As Hatter and Soldier walked the town, they realized that they were seeing new guards in town, men dressed in the old Highpeak uniforms (like the uniform that Lefty started in). They questioned one, and learned that he was a fortress soldier, one of the ones that attacked the village, now working for Not-Aquilinus, along with two or three volunteers from the village.
Hatter and Soldier then went to the old Consul’s house, where they would eventually meet with Helesse. While waiting, Hatter browsed the various village history books and was able to confirm his thought: that the Priestess of Bisd was in fact not a priestess (the village had been without one for 11 years).
Helesse arrived, and with the newest stone was able to tell Hatter his true name: Julian. She then revealed all that she was able to learn from Not-Aquilinus’s journal.
She learned that his true name was Marcus. He has memories of travelling with many of his current fellow guards outside of the village, and under the command of Vitellian. He served Vitellian willingly (along with his soldiers), and was never under any mind control. He admits being ‘brutal’ in his actions, sending people off to the mines for what he knew was a death sentence. He knew from the start of the awakening that he and his men were not the original guards, and banned anyone else from coming into the barracks in fear that they would find out. He fears Captain Rex and whether he will try to take control of the village as well.
Plans were made, and the Ricimers were tasked with taking the one still-wounded fortress soldier back to the fortress, and in gaining Captain Rex’s aid in taking down Not-Aquilinus when the group returned from their trip to the study (and possibly for Rex to send scouts into the village, inviting them to hide out within Aquilinus’s house’s hidden basement).
They confronted Priestess Domitia, and told her that they knew her secret. She feigned ignorance, but they pressed, and finally she broke down. She was given the final shards, and Hatter and Soldier promised to keep her secret, and let her stay as the priestess, so long as she swore her backing to Helesse in the upcoming turmoil.
Domitia mentioned that she knew a lot of bits of social information about the people of the village, like that herder Trenton Merenda’s wife has been missing for some time. The group remembered the female skeleton from the mines that wore a wedding band bearing that name, and declared her, sadly, found.
They quickly then shared the stones with the younger man from the inn, who remembered that he is in fact the son of the innkeeper (the larger woman with the wig(s)), that the two-year-old girl with them is not related to the two of them, and that he was once engaged to the Merenda daughter, but she was killed a small time ago by demonic hounds.
After a final night, they scurried over the rockslide and finally on to the old road. They travelled on and on, finally finding the pass that seemed to lead to the study (thanks to the spyglass in Soldier’s possession). Evidence was found that the mind-controlled slave passed this way, and with raw seer stone with him.
Up that lost pass they traveled, until turning around an outcropping of rock they saw the study, a 60’ tall square tower of stone with a massive hole in the front of the first floor.
Beyond the tower, a strange structure stood, just barely visible to the group’s spyglass. A standing crescent of gray stone with a basin or ring near the bottom. The spyglass also showed the gray structure, and a low tomb that stood next to it, to be enchanted.
A trail of blood led from a sudden pool up into the main entrance of the study.
It also showed a chimera nesting within the bottom floor of the tower.
Hatter and Q ventured forward, sneaking around the edge of the valley towards the crescent structure as Dirk and Soldier stayed a bit away and kept an eye on the chimera.
Once there, Hatter and Q got to inspecting. Q discovered the writings upon the two tombs, declaring them to be the final resting places of Aristiphus the Diviner and (presumably) his wife Tela (Tela, my Oracle). The tomb of Tela, which stood nestled up against the seer stone statue, radiated magic.
Hatter moved to the statue, and poured water into the large basin built into it. Using a ritual, he blessed the water.
Once finished, he happened to look up and see a figure looking at him from the top story of the study, which quickly disappeared. It was within seconds that roars were heard from the chimera (there were now two within the study being watched by Soldier and Dirk), and out they came with death in their eyes.
Dirk charged quickly as the chimera split, one straight out at the two warriors awaiting it, the other, a larger chimera with a blue shard stuck to its head, heading instantly around the corner to go straight at Hatter, who stood beside the seer stone statue.
Hatter played cat-and-mouse around the statue as Q blasted it with fire from the tree line, all while Soldier and Dirk dealt swiftly with the younger chimera.
When Hatter was far too close to not being able to take any more, Dirk charged in and plunged his lance into the larger beast, putting it to an end.
As Soldier pulled the shard from its head, Hatter opened the tomb of Tela, and enspected it quickly. He found within a perfectly preserved body, killed long ago by sword and knife. He dropped a small ring from his possession into the tomb and closed it as the shard was passed around…