We headed up the stairs of the bleak tower with Kanar still very disconcerted due to a minor infestation in her ear. Though we entered with the plan of subtlety and stealth, that plan was quickly dashed to the rocks as we rounded the corner and met a small gnomish spell-caster. This gentleman appeared to have no connection to the Cult of the Black Flame and so we were questioning his presence in the tower when a nearby door opened and shut. We were spotted! The dwarf, the human and I burst beyond the door and quickly took down the human knight we found in the next room. He was wearing the colors of a Paladin of Astalon so I pulled my swings and tried my best not to kill him. In truth his appearance sparked a memory of Liada's traveling companion Akelai. I could barely stand to swing the sword at him as this memory surfaced. This is dangerous beyond words for a number of reasons. Firstly, Liada did not exist, and to be drawn in by her emotions is to be drawn in by a lie. Secondly, any hesitation in a location as dangerous as this could be the difference between life and death. I should not make the same mistake twice. And yet... If he were to rise up in the morning and attempt to strangle me with his bare hands I don't think I could even lift my sword in defense.
Reasonably though, the forces of good are too few and far between in places such as this for us to squabble amongst ourselves and kill each other. Thankfully I was able to subdue him, although once we had him bound it became clear to us that he was under the effects of a curse, most likely from a sickly looking full helm that was thoroughly attached to his head. Barrill assures me that after some rest, he shall beg Pelor to suppress the foul magicks so that we can remove the offending helm.
We were ready to move on and further explore this floor of the tower, but Kanar heard some scrapings coming from one of the adjoining doors. Dukek and I investigated and determined that there was a small group of warriors on the other side lying in wait for us. We attempted a number of subterfuge tactics to draw them out, but they were too well disciplined to fall for any of our tricks. We finally came up with a plan to distract them as we rushed them, a plan which in hindsight I greatly regret suggesting. We were met by no fewer than ten frighteningly well prepared orcs and a displacer beast. It also seems that the two leaders of the orcs were spell casters of some sort. I was the first one in and the sight of the displacer beast caused me to foolishly ignore the fighting formation and concentrate solely on it. I had faced a small pack of these animals before, under the command of a human conjurer a few centuries prior. The conjurer had led a failed assault on the Allanelle, but his displacer beasts were a fright and managed to kill an average of two good elfin warriors each. I had to destroy the beast, no matter what the cost. A confusing and massive melee soon ensued. My attention never wavered from the displacer, a concentration which nearly cost me my life. As I struck the image to my left, the best lashed my gut with a tentacle from my right and I passed out from the pain. My wound continued to bleed and I nearly died, save the timely interruption of a healing spell from either Kanar or Barrill. I looked up and saw the best still above me, but badly wounded and chose wisdom over courage (Tarimth forgive me) and stayed down until the beast fell. I did not have to wait long thanks to the combined efforts of Dukek and Novarg. The orcs were soon mopped up and we began to recover, catching our breaths when a half-tiger humanoid attacked us from an adjacent room. I joined the fray, unwilling to be killed by an abomination such as this but was incapacitated by a spell from Leptor, the mage lord of the tower, and chose to flee before I became a danger to the others. A few well timed spells from our new gnome friend Xirtec caused Leptor to teleport to another part of the tower.
We finally found the time to catch our breaths, recover, bind our new captive and explore this level of the tower. We split up and searched the library, the alchemy lab, a closet and a puzzle room, finding many things of interest that raised more questions than they answered. The notable items include: a puzzle wheel that appears to be a teleportation plate, possibly a path to Baltron's hidden vault; a large key and a pair of shoes, both obviously of dwarfin make; a set of books set behind glass, most likely spell-books. We took both of our prisoners and set ourselves in the puzzle wheel room to rest for the night. Hopefully in the morning a few of these questions will be answered, and we should have one, if not two, new allies to fight by our side. Unfortunately for us, only Tarimth's will and time shall truly tell.