The party, curious about the riddle box, gathered around it and tried to unlock its secrets. Some quick shaking revealed something loose inside, though it weighed less than 5 pounds. A cube about 6 inches each direction, it was ornately carved and inlaid with gold. Levers, buttons and tracing paths covered the outside, but it proved too complex to be opened.
As the group pondered what could possibly be inside, a man approached the watchtower. A human, raised by dwarves and a paladin of their god Moradin, he introduced himself to the mage Elias (still outside, and freezing) as Heydon and asked leave to enter the tower. Elias agreed, but requested that he ask the group he be allowed back inside.
Heydon entered, introducing himself and revealing that the dwarf Kerad Whitestone had sent him to assist in the recovery of the puzzle pox. After some starey moments, a cough and a knock came from outside. Heydon opened the door for Elias, who entered, decidedly less amiable than previously. He sat down to his books. The paladin and the party turned to discuss the recovery of box and their travels thus far. Atori became unsettled, and mentioned that the weather was worsening. The wind outside started to pick up, and snow started buffeting the tower. Emere attempted to check the trap door, but was unable to open it. He descended back down the ladder.
Suddenly, the trap door swung open. A Dwarven arm sent a flask of red fluid straight into the fire below. It exploded ferociously, setting Elias’s books aflame and blasting Elmo away from the fire and into a wall to be knocked unconscious (and for the first time, not by the drink). Heydon burst through the front door, and found himself surrounded by a number of armed, grimy dwarves. These were mere fodder, and quickly dispatched by the party. Moments later, the northwest wall of the tower exploded, and two more dwarves burst into the room, attempting to smash both Rowan and Atori. Elias tended to Elmo, but not before slamming the fire-starter into the tower floor.
A dwarf with a scar from ear to chin then stepped into the fray, offering a bellowing suggestion that they hand over the riddle box. A battle-raging Heydon traded blows and taunted the dwarf, giving him a holy brand on the side of his face. Enraged, the dwarf’s allies struck back, knocking Heydon to the ground and briefly stunning him. Some healing magic from Rowan and the goddess Melora kept Heydon conscious. After the ash settled, only one lowly dwarf remained. He was intimidated into surrender, and then briefly interrogated. He named the leader of the group as Belwas Irontem, and said he had been promised money to help retrieve the box. He was released from the tower and hobbled away, presumably to return to drinking at the Crusty Tankard. The party recovered a purse of 300 gold, a magical hammer (identified by Fayad as a +1 Earthwrought Hammer), some dwarf-made matches, and a small cask of gunpowder.
Emere, still suspicious of the mage, asked again what he was hiding. A bit perturbed, the mage countered that he was hiding nothing, and disappointed in the treatment he had received from the group. He’d let them in and offered them shelter, told them what he knew, and even helped assist the now-conscious but groggy dwarf (who had unfortunately missed the entire battle – coincidentally extremely embarrassing for dwarven folk). The paladin intervened, and stepped aside with the mage to figure out what was wrong. Elias admitted that he had discovered a potential magical source nearby, likely brimming with wisps, but was keeping it away from the party in order to preserve his find from non-academics (as they have the tendency to … break things).
The party considered their next move. It was decided that they should return the box to Kerad, meet with Gert, and move on from there. Heydon also mentioned the mage’s discovery. They began the journey back to Icemaul, stopping by the bridge they’d crossed earlier. The dwarves they had met there were gravely injured, and though Rowan managed to stabilize one of them they were able to gather no information – other than their grisly cuts running from ear to chin. The reached the fort, found Kerad and medical assistance for the injured dwarf, and took a well-deserved rest. Their meeting with Gert Stoutbarrel could wait until the morning.