The 4 had been exploring the temple of elemental air, trying to find the Kenku who were scaring the prisoners, when they came to a large room with some cultists trying to play the flute.
A stone fountain stands in the middle of a grand plaza, its sides sculpted in to the shapes of dwarves bearing drums and horns. On the far side of the fountain, several figures in feathered attire play a shrill, discordant tune on flutes made of white bone.
A semi-circle of the figures seems to be gathered facing a more vibrantly dressed, beautiful woman. She stops them with an exasperated exclamation of disgust, “Stop! Stop! No, you are playing with too much wind, slow your breathing. And you are off tempo from the rest of the group! You are supposed to be trained…”
Many in the group apologized to the woman calling her Windharrow.
Windharrow then realizes the door has opened and sees Templeton leading the group.
“You, small man, can any of you play? These cretins clearly cannot! They are awful!”
Kareep sings a line Aarakokra folk tune that sounds haunting and forlorn but more like a bird than a flute. “Sorry…but I cannot play that instrument”
Kareep sings his melody, surprising his comrades with its odd, melancholic nature.
Windharrow pauses for a moment, listening to the echoes of the song fade. “Beautiful… in a dreary sort of way. Be that as it may, we have a performance due soon – can any of you play the flute?”
She then turns to her entourage, “Be prepared to practice once again.”
Templeton steps forward and says, “Why of course. The Daltreys are a well cultured family. I was instructed in harpsichord, lyre, flute, and percussion by some of the finest musicians in Waterdeep. To be honest I was never as good as my sister. She had a gift I could never match, but I more than likely remember a tune or two. “
He takes the flute and plays a few bars of a Sembian Drinking Song that he is fond of.
Templeton walks in to the large plaza and approaches the group with confident strides. With a look to the woman at the center, one of the feather-robed initiates hands over his flute with a poorly disguised frown.
Templeton is surprised at the lightness of the flute. The flutes he has played in the past were made with silver and dense, dark woods. He puts it to his lips to test the timbre, and though the spacing of the holes is a bit different, with a somewhat rusty flare, Templeton trills through the Sembian drinking tune.
Though he has performed well by his own measure, the woman seems somewhat disappointed. “Ok, so you can at least hold a tune and a rhythm. But the choice of song was a poor one indeed – that song is for brothels and bar rooms. We do not entertain such here.”
Windharrow then turns to the rest of the party, “Please tell me some of you can play as well?”
Quintus strides in and says, ‘Your shit out of luck lady, Tempus don’t play no stinking flute.’
Templeton frowns at the woman, "you sound like my mother. She always wanted me to practice more. But unfortunately I spent far too little time practicing and far too much time whoring and drinking… That reminds me of another tune. "
This time he plays a slow and beautiful tune. It actually almost sounds elven with a strange and mysterious grace. But then it fades away in a very sad minor key. Templeton sighs and says, “that piece is called ‘The Tears of Amlaruil’ written by a human bard long ago by the name of Danillo Than. The elven queen of the lost Isle of Evermeet was said to be the most beautiful woman in all Faerun. But she lost her king and was known as the sad queen ever since. Its a terrible tale of love, intrigue, assassination, and tragic sadness. The elves are an ancient people full of mystery and magic. I have never met an elf but have always wanted to. Tell me are there any elves dwelling here?”
Windharrow narrowed her gaze at Templeton and said, “You should stick to music of your own kind, Daltrey. Kill them!” And with that she laughed as she cast a greater invisibility spell. But all traces of laughter faded quickly as Puck reacted with a counterspell that unraveled her magic leaving an expression of great concern upon Windharrow’s face.
Templeton was now the one to smile as he tossed the bone flute up in the air towards Windharrow. As she watched the instrument arc towards her she did not see Templeton draw his hand crossbows and fire at point blank range. The bolts struck deep. One in her chest and the other in her throat.
Windharrow incredulously brought her hands up to feel the blood coursing down her neck just as an intense ball of flame exploded around her and the initiates. Puck’s fireball stopped just short of Templeton who shot the little gnome a withering glance. Two of the 5 initiates caught the full force of the blast – their charred remains breaking into dust as they hit the ground. The other 3 initiates and WIndharrow managed to avoid the full force of the flames but still were burned badly.
Kareep was next flying over the throng of initiates to land next to Windharrow and run her through with his lance. The bard staggered, blood coming out her mouth, but she still managed to command her initiates to form up and get between her and Quintus. But the wily cleric lowered his greatsword and cast a guided bolt spell. His aim was true, guided by Tempus right into the chest of the bewildered Windharrow. She slumped to the ground dead.
The initiates fell quickly but not before using a wind blast to almost knock Templeton and Kareep off the edge of the room which loomed out over the huge chasm. A quick search of the fallen cultists yielded Windharrow’s flute worth 100 GP, a pouch with 3 gems worth 50 GP each , and a platinum ring inlaid with stones worth 100 GP. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.
The next room held the 2 remaining Kenku which were quickly dispatched. With their passing the spooky sounds of their voice mimicry ceased and the party was able to guide the human prisoners out beyond the gatehouse. Templeton gave them a light stone to guide them to the surface and their freedom. Before leaving the prisoners warned the party to watch out for Kaz Hanar – she sits atop the pyramid on a flying lizard.
With the prisoners gone, the 4 tried to move the large wheels to lower the moat. It took a lot of effort far too much for Templeton – but the moat was lowered a bit. They were unsuccessful in lowering it completely, however. The group was too exhausted to continue the effort required, so they moved n to further exploring the keep. They wound their way through many simple quarters – beds, rooms, desks, tables, chairs. All very non-nondescript and with nothing of interest or value.
Finally they came to a large room which was hideous. There were 3 Kenku in the room torturing 5 more prisoners in varied an horrible ways. What made it even more horrifying was that the evil bird men were using their voice mimicry to copy the screams of pain of the poor people being tortured. The party was so angered and their vengeance was so swift against he hapless Kenku that all three were killed within 1 round of combat. These other prisoners were shown the way out and Kareep gave them his continual light stone to light their travel home.
Further exploration brought the party to an area with a different floor. Blue marble marked this section of the complex with a human looking man with large muscles and simple tattered pants and vest digging around in some rubble. Templeton had snuck up on him and after the encouragement of everyone, he attacked with surprise to get the jump on who the party thought was yet another cultist.
Templeton took careful aim and fired a deadly bolt from Sky Piercer. It struck the man in the back staggering him forward. But with a swift response, the man spun around and looked at Templeton with an angry gaze that actually seemed to look like disappointment. With a wave of his hand, Templeton was surrounded in a swirling maelstrom of air which carried him aloft through the high ceilinged room and into the water of the moat some 80 feet away.
Templeton struggled against the water. With the moat lowered partially, it was too far up to the edge of the floor for him to get out. And a large swirling of water indicated something big was moving through the water towards him at a high velocity. Thinking quickly, Templeton used his mage hand to remove his grappling hook and rope from his pack and clamp it around a nearby stone pillar. He then grabbed a hold of the rope, pulled himself to the edge and climbed out of the water to move soaking wet back to where the group had gathered around the humanoid.
There he found Kareep with his hands up apologizing to the humanoid. Puck and Quintus had done the same. Kareep explained that he had recognized that this creature was not in fact human but was in fact a good hearted Djinn. Realizing his mistake, Templeton apologized and with some quick diplomacy smoothed the relations over enough to calm things down and speak.
The Djinn’s name was Ahtayir and he was bound to a magical horn that had been recently blown to call him back to service. He was summoned long ago by Torhild Flametongue, king of the Besilmer dwarves. Torhild used Ahtayir to build much of the dwarven stronghold. The Dwarven King was kind to Ahtayir and never asked too much of him. He was happy to help the Besilmer dwarves. But that was long ago. Now the enchanted horn has a new owner – Aerisi Kalinoth, the elven woman who now rules the air cult temple and rules as Queen.
Aerisi has commanded Ahtayir to rebuild the entire Besilmer empire to its former glory, a task he thinks will take thousands of years. The djinn is not fond of his new mistress and hopes to be free of her. Templeton explained that the party was aiming to defeat his new mistress and would look for the horn in order to free him from her service.