Once again taking a cautious approach, Gurruk used Turrick’s potion of clairvoyance and sent one of his pit vipers into the fortress as a remote set of eyes. The snake found circular chamber containing a number of cells (one occupied by an orkin prisoner), a torture chamber, and a room full of strange machinery plus some strange amorphous blob. Plus a set of stairs going up. With no apparent danger in the room the rest of the party climbed out of the sewer. First order of business was release of the orkin prisoner. Once over his initial fright, the orkin told everything he knew. Captured to work in the kitchen, the orkin had been caught stealing bread and tortured before being imprisoned here. “Here” was the lowest level of Keep Tower, the main tower of the fortress. “He Who Walks in Metal” could be found on the upper levels of the tower. The orkin was also able to roughly sketch out the fortress layout before heading down the sewer grate and on to freedom.
Determined to get to the top of the tower as quickly as possible, the party sent the pit viper up the stairs to scout once more. The next level consisted of a single chamber with a set of double doors leading out into the fortress, and a large round table and a throne. Plus four hobgoblin guards and a mountain lion. With a rush the party surprised and eliminated them before sending the snake up the next set of stairs. This floor was bisected by a single corridor, off of which was a ballroom and a chapel or temple. This the party skipped completely, and instead headed up the stairs (since by this time the potions effects had worn off). Confronted by a number of doors, they party wanted to make sure their backs were secure before heading any further up the tower. Although the clairvoyance was now worn off, Gurruk sent the snake under each door and had it return and tell if anyone was inside. In one room, two hobgoblins were seen, so the party bashed in the door and charged in with swords swinging. Unfortunately, one of the hobgoblins was able to grab a horn and blow the alarm before the two were cut down by the party. The party couldn't rest for long though, as another 4 hobgoblin sergeants burst out of the other rooms (the snake didn't mention the other doors in those rooms). Several more were slain, but the last two chose to surrender. With a sword to his neck, one hobgoblin was forced over to the window to shout out 'false alarm' to the troops racing towards the tower. These backed off and returned to barracks after just a little bit of grumbling.
The prisoners reveled that the last two floors were the private apartments and chambers of 'He Who Walks in Metal". They also revealed the presence of further guards, not hobgoblins but mechanical and magical beings. Quickly locking the prisoners in the basement dungeon for safe keeping, the party headed up to the next floor. Entering a foyer, they spied two metal man-like constructs guarding a pair of double doors. They attacked immediately with swinging fists when the party approached, and in short order were a collection of metal parts on the floor. Exploring beyond the double doors, a hall, a study and a bedchamber were found. In the study Darnorth recovered a red leather portfolio, as well as a small gem and strange metal cylinder (narrow with a point). The bedroom showed little sign of use, but in another adjoining room (through a trapped and locked door) was a most unusual sight. In the centre sat a 5 foot tall, 3 foot diameter glass cylinder. Inside it was a smaller cylinder, this one filled with green glowing goo. On top sat a brass plate with curious round and square patterns, plus a small cylinder and a cube made of metal. Debate ensued over what it might be and what should be done with it, but in the end the decisions was to press on to confront ‘He Who Walks in Metal”. So out the door and up the stairs they went.
Here the party found itself in a corridor to seem to go around the outer perimeter of the tower. On the inside was a curved metal wall, which formed a tall hemisphere in the centre of this level. Access was via four unusual doors; they were round and in the form of an iris. Further investigation was delayed when Bjeorn was suddenly struck from behind and slain by a gelatinous cube that slid up behind the party. With half the party still on the stairs, it was a tight fight. But the cube was soon destroyed, and Turrick picked a few handfuls of gold coins out of the remaining pile of ooze. With no time to morn for Bjeorn, the party turned its attention again to the doors. Kern examined them, and found them locked, but could see no way to unlock it. After some fiddling around, Riley’s solution was to simply knock. From inside came a low hollow voice: “Enter”. The door opened and Riley, Darnorth and Kern entered before the door once again closed behind them, leaving the rest of the party in the outer corridor. Here they saw, sitting on a metal throne and flanked by two metal-man constructs, “He Who Walks in Metal”. “He” was a tall and slender humanoid, with faintly red skin and vaguely hobgoblin features, wearing a tight fitting mesh jumpsuit. Back and forth questioning began, the the party learned a little about the strange creature. “He” told the party he was an Iza’ka, an ancient race from beyond the stars. In ages past, his race had used this planet as a battleground against another race from beyond space and time, and in the aftermath of that titanic battle (which in human legend was known as the “Godswar”), the Iza’ka were stranded here. While most of his race was indifferent to and, except as a source of slaves, ignored humans and other sentient life, “He” burned with a hatred for them. And so he had raised this hobgoblin army and now was going to use it to crush the lands of men.