The door is very heavy, but after a bit of grunting and swearing, they finally are pulled open. For as big as the doors are, the room beyond is much smaller than you'd expect. It looks to be a private sitting room and library, with books lining the walls and odd nick-knacks placed here and there on the desk and shelves. A few paintings also decorate the walls, and there appears to be a journal sitting open on the desk, hand written in Old Realm.
As you look around the room, a sudden chill fills the air as a hazy figure slowly manifests itself. It appears to be a ghost of a middle aged man with dark hair and a round face, wearing robes that look very much like what you found the body of Kal Bax wearing upstairs. He gives you a faint smile as he walks up. "Greetings. I see that you have finally found my final retreat. Who are you, and what is it that you are searching for?"
Maja nearly jumps when the ghost appears and stumbles backwards. "Raven forefend!" she cries in alarm, forming the symbol of the Raven with her fingers as a warding prayer before her, "What are you? Some kind of ghost?"
The shade smiles at Maja, and nods. "Precisely, my dear. I am the ghost of Kal Bax, and I am responsible for the construction of this manor house and all that lies within it. May I ask, who are you? I do not get many visitors, so this is a bit of a new thing for me."
Maja's eyes narrow and she crosses her arms, "Wasn't this place built a really long time ago? Why haven't you moved on yet?" No one who remains a ghost for thousands of years is good news. Something is wrong with someone like that. If the stories are anything to go by, spirits only get stranger with time.
"Kuaidao, Chosen of the Unconquered Sun." said the Dawn, mirroring Spider's greeting. He listened to Maja's question, and looked at the ghost, curious to hear his answer. At the same time, he decided not to mention the stone they were looking for. Not knowing how Kal might react to that information, he left the option of whether to voice it with Bard.
"And I am Bard, the Bard!" He said confidently. "And you, Kal Bax, are my brother from another mother! Now, I take it that you aren't really a ghost. Given that I know your soul has moved on to another, one among us. Or maybe you are, for all i know. Who knows how our exaltations work. Regardless! Brother Bax, you are just the man I was wanting to see!"
Bard parted his hands,"Who we are, is of little importance compared to who we were. Together our souls built and resided in this manor. And now we have returned. Though you have left us in quite the pickle on getting our home back up and running again. And really, what were you thinking tricking those poor adorable little critters to do your dirty work? Egads man, I will have to fix that. Which I have a feeling I used to pull you out of trouble all the time if you made deals like that on the regular." He said in a friendly tone. Figuring it best to adopt a tone of familiarity.
The shade bows to each of you as you introduce yourselves. "Good questions, one and all. Yes, I am the ghost of Kal Bax, and yes, I have been here for a very long time in this state. Dear Bard, you are somewhat mistaken about the nature of the Exalted Shard and the spirit that inhabits the body. They are not one and the same, so it is quite possible for you to have received my Shard while my shade still lurks about this place."
He wanders about aimlessly, his hands running over the smooth wood of the desk. "As to why I am still here, well, lets just say that once I died, I realized that I had done many things in my life that I was not proud of, things that haunted me, if you can pardon the pun. But as a ghost, I am limited on what I can do to try and set things right. One thing that you have mentioned is the imps that were summoned to aid in the construction of this place. I did use them, and I lied to them about the duration of the binding that I was placing on them. It was something that the Solar Kal Bax thought nothing of doing. After all, they are demons and it is their lot in life to be used by the Exalts that imprisoned them in Malfias."
Kal turns to look at the group. "Perhaps you can help me right some of the things that weigh heavily on my plate, and I can share with you some of the knowledge that I possess from a lifetime of research and study."
Maja relaxes slightly. "Okay, I'll buy that for now. I'm Maja. This place is beautiful, but you left it full of pit traps and gems that spit lightning. Did you keep a map of the traps and how to avoid them?"
Kal Bax nods. "Ah, yes. The Keystone. It is here, hidden in this room. There is a secret compartment in the wall that I secreted it in, right over there." He points at a painting on the wall. "It is here. Just move the painting, and channel some Essence into the small crystal on the wall behind it. Then the door will open and you can recover the Keystone."
The painting moves to the side easily enough, and Spider can see a small glint of light reflecting off of a tiny crystal set in the wall. It would have been very easy to overlook if you hadn't been told to look for it.
Kal Bax says, "There, just as I have said. Just put a bit of Essence into it, and you'll be able to open the secret compartment and find the Keystone."
With a slight 'click', the wall opens up to reveal a small cubbyhole, large enough to keep a few small items in it. Reaching in, you find a pair of books, a small velvet pouch with some small objects in it, and a circlet with a hearthstone socket in it. At first glance, it looks like a simple hearthstone amulet, but this circlet is made of a complex blend of all the Magical Materials, giving you the indication that this is much more than a simple tiara.
Kal nods. "You see? The Keystone, just as I promised." He seems quite satisfied with himself. "Now, all you need to do is decide what you want to do with it. Do you destroy it, or keep it to control the imps?"
"With all the adventures we've had on our way here, I don't even remember what everyone's plans were for the imps." Kuaidao admitted sheepishly.
He showed little interest in the jewellery, and considered looking at the books later on, for now keeping his attention on the Keystone and its circlet. "If we really believe that destroying this will free those demons, and that they have no ill intentions, I say we do so. Giving them back control of their fate is the least we can do, I feel."
Spider looks off in the distance, obviously lost in her memories. "I . . . have strong feelings . . . about slavery. If the demons are to stay here willingly and continue to guard the area around the fortress, that is fine with me. I just don't wish to have any part of forcing them to stay here if they truly wish to return to Malfias. Bard did talk with them, and the queen did seem to be open to the idea of staying, but I just don't like the idea of keeping them here against their will."
"Agreed." replied Kuaidao. "Though the idea of having the demons stay here does raise a question; what are we going to do now that we've gotten our artifacts from this place? Should we stay here and try to hold it against those searching for it, or move on? And if we choose the second option, what should our next course of action be?"