The group descended down flight after flight of stairs into the dungeons. The ambient temperature grew colder and colder and they began to see frost lining the walls. It grew more difficult for Brand to move as his chainmail as the humidity in the air frosted the metal links together.
The enter the room indicated by Nigel and find a scrawny, haggard boy sitting on a stool next to a corpse. Despite the coat he wore, his lips had a bluish tint to them and he was asleep. Gathering around the boy, Brand coughed loudly.
Sputtering awake, Vellatus almost fell off the stool. He looked wildly around the group until he saw the familiar face of Lieutenant Nigel. Nigel introduced the group and explained they were here to investigate the murder of the Baron. Nephelle asked, “During the time you have stood watch, has there been any changes to the body?” He answers, “Other than rigor mortis? No.”
The group surround the body as Vellatus pulls back the sheet, revealing a very large man. They could tell from his build that there was a strong foundation of muscle under the thick layer of fat they were faced with. Two-thirds of his chest gaped open, but the edges were seared as if cut with a red-hot blade. It reminded Brand of battlefield triage where hot irons were placed into wounds to cauterize them. The heart was missing, and Nigel described the event, saying that as the heart was ripped free, it was held up only to erupt into blue/gray flames.
Naphalle voices aloud her understanding that the heart is symbolic of the seat of power and being torn free and consumed in that manner was indicative of that power being consumed as well.
Reminded of the blade, she turned to Vellatus and asks about the ingredients needed for her ritual. He answers that he’s not authorized to use the Baroness’ supplies like that and doesn’t know what reagents are, but Naphalle haughtily reminds him who exactly she is. He hesitates again explaining that the body needs to be guarded for the magic keeping him in stasis to hold. Naphalle snaps her fingers in the direction of Dactyl and replies that he will stand guard while Vellatus gathers the needed ingredients. With a longing backward glance, he leaves the room to do Naphalle’s bidding.
Turning back to the body, they examine it more closely and ask Nigel about the absense of signent rings. He replies that all the Baron’s adornments had been removed and were being kept in his personal chambers. Naphalle moves around the body looking for any sort of veil in place and finds no trace of such. While she is moving around, Bast sneakily moves to the head of the body and cuts off a lock of hair, tucking it into her pocket.
Brand motions for the group to huddle together and quietly brings up a point about the dagger being used to transfer power to another and wonders if there is a connection. Bast speaks up and reminds them there were six other murders in the castle and perhaps they all were related. They spend a few more minutes in quiet discussion when Nigel speaks up and asks if they would like to go anywhere else.
Brand asked if there was a library where he could do some research on a few things, and Nigel proudly explains that their library was second to none in the entire land. Naphalle informs him she and Bast would have a visit with the Baronness and meet up with Brand afterward.
The party leave the room. Dactyl watches them go, mentally berating himself for leaving his cloak in his quarters. As the sound of their footsteps disappear, he shivers and rubs his arms in an attempt to stay warm.