Basil entered the chamber and reflexively coughed, then held his hand to his nose and mouth to cover the smell. The tall aged woman looked at him with spirited eyes crinkled in a small smile, her right eye surrounded by an ornate tattoo, her head a shock of silver hair.
“You get used to the smell….eventually.” She offered.
“Orik said you wanted to see me,” Basil said gruffly, his hand still covering his mouth. “I hear your apprentices have almost finished their assessment of the Count’s resources? Anything we can use for the party going to Pallmoor?”
The woman, who some called Magya, and others called Silverstar, motioned to the burned alchemy lab just outside, where Basil came from.
“In a chest out there, you will find an array of potions and lesser items that my team recovered. The Baron had quite a stockpile. They may find some of them useful.”
“Good, good.” Basil walked up to a tall cylindrical tube filled with greenish fluid, with a fetus like creature floating inside it. This room, just beyond the Count’s main alchemy lab, gave him the creeps. He had avoided it for the past days. He knew he couldn’t avoid it forever. “But that’s not why you called me here?”
“No.” the woman said, and moved to stand by his side, eyeing the pitiful creature floating in the tube. “You know, I have no idea what these are. But from what we can gather, the Count was forcing some local woman to bear children, and experimenting on them. Using them to control his soldier-constructs. You know, the ones that could see the invisible?”
“That’s what we gather.” Basil confirmed.
“Are any of the relatives talking?”
“Not the ones we’ve captured. A mincing brother and a far sister, and some other lowlies. A few got away. The ones left behind didn’t seem to know the full extent of what Umridge was up to, if you can believe that.”
“I do believe that.” she said mysteriously. “We found something else. Just this morning. Behind a secret door.” She moved to a dark corner of the room.
Basil was expecting something bad. Some strange, sick creation. Some poor cursed creature they would need to kill.
Magya opened the secret door, revealing four cylindars, seven feet tall. Each one filled with a bluish fluid. They seemed to be ice cold, pulling heat from the room.
Basil looked closely. In the first tube there was a nude adult male, floating in the liquid, his eyes closed. His gaze moved to the second, where an identical body floated, and the third.
They looked very familiar to Basil…they looked exactly like the paintings of Count Umrbidge -the dead body that the gnome druid recovered from the roof.
One of the tubes was empty.