Having spied a mysterious white tower floating through the clouds toward them, the adventurers charged through the forests to meet the oddity head-on, knowing not what to do once they encountered it. Lucky for them, the tower's occupant had plans of his own. The tower froze in the skies overhead and extended a harrowing spiral stair made of cloudstuff to the ground where they stood. With some trepidation, the party climbed, finding the stairs to be solid as well as the cloudstuff beneath the tower. They saw no one, however, upon reaching the top, and sent Greg on an exploratory mission. He could see nothing through the stained glass windows at the second story, and only an aerie of indifferent griffons above that. As the party tried to figure out a way to fly Torgul up to the spire's peak to speak with the griffons, a disembodied voice boomed a cheery welcome and invited the party within.
Inside the tower, the adventurers encountered a cozily appointed living space – for a giant. The furnishings stood taller than they did, and the ceiling loomed hight overhead. They were greeted by a cloud giant of peculiar appearance – billowing white hair and beard as wispy as clouds, a deep purple robe adorned with celestial ornaments, and a wizard staff that must once have been an entire tree. The giant, Zephyros, greeted them with delight, professing his deep fascination with the small folk and their ways, and impressed as all hell that they managed to train a talking badger to fight with them.
Zephyros explained that he had been in contact with unnamed extraplanar entities who had instructed him to find the adventurers at this very spot. He explained that the Ordning, the divine hierarchy of power put in place by Annam the All-Father, had been shattered by the All-Father himself for reasons unknown to giant kind. But, according to the extraplanar entities, the adventurers he would meet would be able to restore the Ordning! And Zephyros was ready and willing to take them anyplace they needed to go to do it.
Problem was, the adventurers had no clue about where they ought to go. They questioned Zephyros further and debated among themselves, and as they did, Zephyros leapt in to offer his assitance one more in seeking clarity from the extraplanar beings. Before anyone could stop the poor, mad soul, he was up at his spellbook, reciting the incantation that would put him in touch with another dimension. The spell left him looking somewhat comatose, but the griffons did not seem disturbed, so the adventurers decided their only option was to wait it out.
They managed with some team acrobatics to access the larder, and after a filling meal of grains, fruits, and owlbear jerky, they settled down for a comfortable night's sleep …
… Only to be awoken the next morning by a might "Hail, my lord!" shouted from the tower's curtained entryway. They were startled to find a pair of strangely-dressed cultists, announcing themselves as the Howling Hatred, followers of Yan-C Bin, The Prince of Evil Air, standing before them seeking an audience with Zephyros. The cultists were deterred by neither threats nor hospitality, and once they learned that their giant host was out of commission, they attacked the adventurers as heretics.
Ceilid, having found herself somewhat trapped on the stairs to the second level as she barred their way, bore the brunt of their initial attack as the cultists released an invisible menace upon them. Unseen blows rendered her unconscious in just a few short seconds. Meanwhile, Torgal and Dor'Kath attacked the enemies they could see while the cultists flung about mostly-ineffectual spells. But back-up was on the way – seven more cultists barged in and made a beeline for Althaea, who had thought herself at a safe distance from the fight.
Torgal called out for aid to the griffons, and in response, a great commotion was heard outside. Meanwhile, Ceilid was revived and tripled herself with a mirroring spell only to fall once again to a very lucky blow at the hands of the belligerent cultist, likely eliciting a minor heart attack and a string of colorful curses from a steadfast Tiefling woman hundreds of miles away. Althaea summoned her own spectral weapon before being overrun by cultists, and Dor'Kath finally silenced their noisy leader. As they fought and withdrew, Ceilid, once more revived, released her shattering aural blast, taking out the last of the attack force.
As they went to bind their sole survivor for questioning, a half-nude and fully awake Zephyros appeared imploring them to go to the rescue of his beloved pet griffons. They ran out to the cloud garden, but found the situation more or less under control. The battle prowess of Lord Fluffington and Mrs. Squeaks was beyond compare, and with a few extra blows and an intimidating shout from the adventurers, the giant vultures which had served as mounts for the cultists were all either fled or griffon food.
Zephyros, happy to see his babies safe, helped clean up the mess and showed only curiosity for the events that led to the formation of a heap of bodies on his living room floor. Though still tinged with madness, imagining himself dressed in an impossibly fine robe, he declared that their next step lie in their very pockets, a sign that the letter they bore to Bryn Shander was perhaps more than just chance. Zephyros insisted on setting off right away, barreling onward into the northern skies at breakneck speed.
The adventurers were left with a week to kill, now safely housed within the tower. The captured cultist, Argus, turned out to be more of a flunkie than a fanatic, and Dor'Kath used his need to follow an authority figure to convert him to the worship of Chauntea and teach him a fitness regimen. Althaea attempted but failed to duplicate the chemical compound of the black pudding sample they had retained. Ceilid, like a child in a chocolate shoppe, feasted on the wealth of information that Zephyros had at his beck and call, questioning him and poring through his journals and spellbooks, learning the workings of his spell to contact other planes, though performing it still carried some risk. And Torgal spent his week shrooming it up, documenting what to this day may be the primary and most complete mycological study for recreational use.
The skies grow ever colder, and mountains loom in the distance. Bryn Shander is near, and with it, the next step of their journey to solve the giant mystery and restore the Ordning.