The tower that looms up out of the swirling snow ahead of you is actually pretty impressive. Hundreds of years ago the tower would have been considered a castle in it's own right, till the sprawling castles of today became popular.
A 20' high wooden palisade surrounds the tower and a bit of lands around it completely. A dry moat, about as tall as a tall man is high, filled about a foot deep with snow at this point, surrounds the palisade wall with a 10' wide wooden drawbridge laying across a section of the "moat" allowing access to the tower itself. Looking through the cracks at the top of the palisade wall you can see a walkway near the top and at each corner of the palisade wall is a small wooden guard building/lookout tower.
The tower itself is a stone and wooden construction and looks to be about 50' high. There are at least 3 distinct floors with windows (all barred), and likely two more floors on the bottom part of the tower. The tower is square and about 50' on a side with the top floor extending out beyond the rising square tower walls, creating a 5th floor that is about 70' on a side.
Glancing in through the open portion of the palisade wall into the tower grounds you see the tower, a well and a small stables. Obviously this was built to house either a very large family or a very small army. The whole place seems to be kept up properly without no crumbling stone walls, no destroyed roofing, even the palisade wall seems to be weathering the elements well.
The chain on the drawbridge, while rusty, still has paint on it and the drawbridge itself seems sturdy.
Yet the tower is dark. Every window is shuttered closed with no light coming from around any of the shutters, no movement on the grounds by servents, no noise or other sound coming from within or without (at least at the distance you are at). The stables seem quiet and the snow on the grounds is completely untouched. If anyone lives here they're doing so without a fire, without light and they haven't moved from the tower in at least 48 hours. Of course the other possibility is that the owner of the tower is traveling away from their home and this structure is, at least currently, uninhabited.
You're standing on the road side of the moat at the drawbridge looking into the keep grounds. Obviously you can avoid the entire structure if you wish to and continue traveling, you could decide to camp out in the cold (if you wish to wait out the storm), you could explore the tower and/or use the tower to ride the storm out, etc. Up to you where you want to go at this point.
As to the "oddity" of having a tower out in the middle of nowhere (it's about 10-12 miles out from the town you just left) this is not "rare", uncommon maybe, but not so rare as to be a curiosity.
Defensible structures out in the middle of the forest area like this are often built either by a town or military group as an outpost, sometimes by adventurers who are looking to settle down out of the way of "normal folk", and most wizards, alchemists, and other "magical research" oriented professions prefer structures away from the normal hustle and bustle of daily life. Towers go empty often when their occupants are off on adventures, out on trips, or even decide to move to other dwellings. (Keep in mind this isn't modern day, you don't have realtors reselling dwellings, particularly not out in the middle of nowhere...if you wish to move, you pack your stuff up and you simply leave the dwelling sit...in pathfinder's day and age, possession really is 9/10ths of the law).
As well, living out in the wilds can be hazardous to your health. Even a defensible structure such as this can have it's accidents happen. Bandits, thieves and other malcontents are prevalent throughout Norwold, many of which would love nothing more than a base such as this. Even hunting and gathering food can be a dangerous prospect as the woods hold much more than bears and deer. There are a million and 1 different reasons why this structure could, very well, be abandoned and why it would exist in the first place. The fact that it's not been abandoned for long (if at all), however, is obvious.
Damn, forgot to write in the acquisition of the bird. Let me do that.
BTW You didn't "miss" the shopping in town. While you, the player, may not have been present, your character was. If there's something you wanted from the magical items, you're more than welcome to let me know and we'll see if we can get it for you. There is a magical quiver in the list that you can afford that re-produces arrows, javelins and crossbow bolts I believe...might want to look into it. :)
Stepping back a second, Mird has acquired an animal companion with his 5th level, let me quickly integrate the acquisition into the story so we're all up to date.
A screech from the wall draws your attention to the top of the Palisade where a rather large eagle sits. Ruffling it's feathers to shake off some of the snow the eagle gives another screech and swoops past you down the trail. As you take in your surroundings a short while later you see the large bird emerge from out of the blowing snows, a half frozen large rodent of some sort, mangled beyond belief, clutched in it's claws. It settles down on the ground, in the lee of the palisade wall where the snow is thinest and the wind doesn't touch, and begins to rip bits of flesh off of the obviously well dead snack in it's claws.
The bird seems unafraid of your presence, a fact you all (other than Mird) find slightly disconcerting for a wild animal. As you watch, fascinated, the eagle efficiently tears into it's prey, making quite a mess. At one point it looks up from it's meal at each of you, giving a screech squawk as if to say "Wait a minute, I'm almost done." Shortly after, while you still watch with wonder, the bird extends it's almost seven foot wingspan and flaps it's way up to the palisade wall again, watching you all intently, seemingly waiting for you to determine a course of action.
Throughout the day you've felt eyes upon you. Not unfriendly eyes, but eyes none the less. After your strange dream of the night before it seemed odd to you that you might be being followed by some kind of areal entity, but you write it off many times as a figment of your imagination due to the dream still being forefront in your mind.
As you reach the wall of the Tower, the magnificent specimen on the palisade wall catches your attention. No...it can't be.
The bird launches itself and heads into the forest, and you breathe a sigh of relief but experience a slight disappointment at losing sight of such a beautiful creature.
Upon it's return, however, you are stunned into silence as you are finally able to see the bird in all it's form. A cold shiver runs up your spine that has nothing to do with your cold cloths or the air around you.
The bird is you, or you are the bird, or...well...something. All you know is that THIS is the bird from your dream last night...this is what you were when flying. As the eagle looks down from the wall at you, through you, you realize that it is different from others of it's species. It looks...more intelligent, more "human" like than the periodic sightings you've seen of eagles over the years of your nature focused life.
It's obviously paying attention to you, and seems to be waiting for something.
This particular tower doesn't stand out. You've not heard anything about it nor is it famous in any way. Judging by it's size and the lack of military encampments, equipment, etc. it looks to be personal in nature (belonging to someone, not to a town or city or guard outpost).
It looks to be a fairly "new" construction...built within the last 20 - 30 years at worst. All in all, you're probably looking at someone's home.
No, no Animal Handling check is required.
The eagle looks on with interest as Mird stares for a few moments up at the bird. Taking an older shirt out from within his bag he begins to wrap it around the leather glove of his left wrist, creating a padded section on his forearm.
Holding his arm parallel to the earth Mird whistles and screeches in a sound very much akin to an eagle's cry. Twisting it's head, almost as if giving consideration, the eagle hops off the battlements and soars a loop around Mird, finally coming to rest on his padded wrist, almost as if trained. The eagle gives what sounds like a happy screech, and settles in.
From here through the rest of the campaign, we're not going to worry about how/where the bird is or how it's traveling with the party. In general it may ride on Mird's arm/shoulder, on the pommel of Mird's horse, or may simply be flying along with/above the party where possible. In general while the party is above ground, we will assume the bird is capable of savaging for it's own food...after all, Norwold is almost entirely covered by forest / woodlands, there is no lack of small rodentia/wildlife that it can hunt. As the bird would also be able to subsist on much of the same food the party does (dried meats or bits of fresh meat), it is assumed that so long as the party can eat, the bird likely can also.
Unless otherwise noted or a situation occurs to invalidate this, we'll assume the bird is either available immediately to the party or a quick "call" away, capable of reaching the party within the first round of an encounter.
Looking somewhat stunned, Mird shrugs at his companions and takes his usual position at the lead of the party, guiding the way across the drawbridge and into the tower's courtyard.
The snow on the ground is pristine, broken only by pawprints from smaller animals (small wild cats, rats, rabbits, birds, etc.). No sign of human or larger creature incursion into the keep grounds shows. The horses have no problem making it over the "drawbridge" into the castle grounds and, while you understand the horses are just animals, you can't help but imagine that they're all eyeing the stables on your right with a mixture of interest and longing.
The stables themselves are fairly small but will easily support the six of your horses, seeming (from the outside) to have stalls for about 8 full sized horses, being about 20' wide by 40' long. The thatch and straw roof seems well cared for and the structure is certainly stable.
Sorry about that, had to get to an appointment yesterday and couldn't get back to it. Here's the final piece of the description for the exterior of the castle.
From the little you can see inside of the stables (the inside is mostly dark, having shutters closed over the windows), it looks well kept with plenty of straw and upkept wooden interior walls to separate each horse's stable from the others.
The tower grounds aren't huge, being less than 200' on each side, and rectangular in nature, still respectable. At about 150x110, there's enough room for several people. The missing outbuilding for servants you would expect denotes that the tower servants (there must be) have living quarters within the tower itself (somewhat odd for the nobility, leading you to believe the tower likely belonged to a wealthy commoner). Very little in the line of defensibility or equipment on either the walls or grounds denotes that the castle does not generally see it's share of attacking forces.
Other than the ladders leading up to the catwalk around the upper part of the palisade wall, the grounds are empty.
Moving to the well in the center of the courtyard on your way to the stables, you see it, too, is in working condition with a bucket and rope winch/pully system. The bottom of the well is dark and a LONG way down...the amount of rope attached to the bucket is at least 100' long. The squat stone wall around the 3' diameter well stands only about 3' high, just high enough that you're unlikely to trip into the well if you get to close to it.
Passing past the well and into the small stables you instantly get the impression that whoever was the stablemaster of the keep did a decent job of it. One large corner of the stables (about 2 horse stalls wide) is packed almost floor to 10' tall ceiling with a mound of straw, a pitchfork and wheelbarrow stands beside the mount of straw. The stable floor is littered with straw over the dirt, creating a bit better footing, and the dirt of the ground is hard packed with the tromping of many hooved and heavy feet over the years. Most of the horse stables stand open and you can see that, by and large, most of them have been well cared for. There are traces of horse manurer in many of the stalls
but the straw bedding seems at least mostly clean.
Signs of rodentia are everywhere, bespeaking at least a couple days since the stables have been occupied.
Agreeing that the tower is likely abandoned at this point (at least for the moment) you decide to make yourselves at home. Leaving his horse in the stables, Dirk heads back out to the tower grounds and immediately climbs one of the ladders to take in a view of the surrounding lands.
The only clear approach to the tower is the road you all followed to get here. The rest of the lands outside of the walls is surrounded by pretty thick forest, movement through which would cause any attacking force trouble.
Looking out down the road Dirk sees no signs of any pursuing force and decides to make the castle look as inconspicuous as possible by drawing up the drawbridge.
Having surveyed the surrounding lands and made the tower's approach far more difficult, Dirk returns to the stables where everyone else is caring for their horse.
Finishing your task, each of you heads for the front door of the Tower.
By this point the afternoon is starting to wain into very early evening as the sun starts to set behind the trees.
As you reach the front doors, the first sign of something wrong occurs to you; one of the two double doors is ajar.
Looking back at the other 5 of you, Dirk proceeds to open the door and all of you gather into the antechamber.
This room, 20'x30', has doors east, west, north and south. The doors to the east and west are closed, but the door to the north is torn off of it's hinges and is laying on the floor in it's doorway, through which you can see a stairwell.
The first thing you realize is that the antechamber is almost as cold inside as it is outside. While you somewhat expect this with the door to the outside ajar for however long it has been, no warmer air is filtering in from the open doorway to the north nor from anywhere else.
A torn and ripped, but not faded, red runner carpet extends from about the middle of this room through the open north doorway and into the next room to turn it's way up the stairwell.
The room is barren except for the wooden doors (very unremarkable) and a large piece of triangularly shaped mirror glass, resting on the floor (obviously broken) in the center of the room. The glass is about two foot wide at it's base, coming to a bit of a jagged point at it's tip, about a foot and a half long.
Awaiting information from the party on whether or not you're planning on exploring the tower any more than this or if you're going to try to camp out in the antechamber. If you are planning on exploring more, what direction are you planning on going?
"Stay on your guard. Whatever was here may still be lurking about.", Dirk says in a hushed voice to the group as he begins inspecting the floor for signs of prints. He'll also inspect the broken doorway.
Dirk is trying to determine two things, what type of creature caused the damage and how recently were they here.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
"This seems our best option for shelter, but we'll need to make certain the house is secure before we rest. Agreed?"
If there are no objections...
Dirk makes eye contact with Lash and gestures toward the North door.
Selena, fast update: You've traveled from the town you stopped in and stocked up on magical supplies and other supplies about 10 miles up the road, harassed by patrols who are out hunting for you. Taking a side road to avoid being caught by a patrol and to get out of what has become close to blizzard like conditions outside, you found this tower which looks to have been or be someone's home. Deciding no one was using it at that moment the 6 of you have stopped in to see if you can find a place to wait out the storm and stay off the main roads and out of the hands of the patrols.
The scratch marks on the door, door frame and other places in the room (minor) seem to denote an animal with claws...long claws, and sharp.
The height of the scratch marks would indicate a creature about human sized, perhaps just slightly taller or with slightly longer arms...with obvious strength as the door is clearly broken off it's hinges to lay on the floor in the doorway.
(Perception: Dirk/Mird) While you aren't seeing anything definitive yet, the damage does not look long over...the inner part of the wood planks of the door are darker and richer than the outside, indicating that the shattered wood pieces have not sat for long enough for exposure to the air to dull the richness of the wood. That said, that could still mean that the door has sat here for weeks.
The biggest indicator to you that the damage may be recent is the fact that while debris is prevalent, dust is not built up on the door itself. Perhaps because the front door to the tower is open, very little buildup of dust has occurred on the top of the door. This either indicates that a strong wind has blown through (and with the storm that could be very possible) scattering dust or that it hasn't sat long enough for dust to accumulate.
(Perception: Lash) Moving through the antechamber and into the tower stairwell the faint smell of oak and the faint tang of blood hangs in the air, both scents assault your fine senses. Stepping gingerly over the doorway you notice that, other than debris, the floor is spotless, you are leaving no footprints. You also notice that there are no spiderwebs/cobwebs in the corner, even in the darker part of the stairwell. The tower is VERY well cared for.
Your standard perusal for traps / trips turns up nothing as you move into the tower stairwell and wait for the others to follow.
You stand in a 40' wide by 10' deep hallway that makes up the central staircase of the tower. To both the east and west are closed doors.
The Stairwell runs up the center of the tower from floor to roof. Looking up you can barely see the roof about 100' above your head in the semi-shadow that is the interior of the tower.
As with most main central staircases of it's type in modern design, the stairs are broad, almost 20' across and lead up in short steps, allowing for a fairly easy assent. The broadness of the stairs indicates a need for a significant amount of traffic to pass up and down the stairwell, and the red runner carpet that started in the Antechamber continues it's way up the staircase. In many cases (outside of rips and tears as you saw in the antechamber) the carpet is faded and worn almost threadbare, indicating a lot of traffic and heavy use. Whoever lived here, the tower was obviously very busy...giving you a very bad feeling about it's current state of abandonment.
The stairwell runs upward for about 10' to a landing, which is a duplicate of the 40x10 "hallway" you are standing in right now, and then continues upward in the opposite direction to what seems to be the second floor. Looking up between the sets of stairs you see this pattern continue all the way up. The right hand stair set travels upward to the north while the left hand stairwell leads from the floors above downward (or travels upward to the south depending upon your perspective).
Where a stairwell going downward would normally be on this ground floor is nothing but empty floor. The tower appears to have no basement. (Or at least it cannot be accessed from here).
Looking up from the first floor to the landing you see nothing of note.
At this point you can continue upward to the second floor or continue exploring the ground floor. If you choose to continue exploring the ground floor, you can go through the east or west doors here or back into the Antechamber and go through the east/west doors there.
As a note: I have a player map of this tower, and regardless of your choices you'll find it soon enough. You won't have to live through a dungeon adventure without a map so we can keep track of where you are and where you want to be.
Before leaving the room to catch up with Lash, Dirk moves closer to the broken mirror fragment and tries to determine where it came from.
Are there many shards of mirror laying around? Or just the one big triangular chunk? Is there a mirror fixture/frame near by? I'm trying to determine if the mirror is out of place, or if it is obvious that it is just a broken/fallen piece from nearby furniture.
There is nothing around that this mirror piece could have come from. There are no frames or other mirrors in this room. There are also no additional fragments or smaller pieces laying around that indicate it broke from something else.
The best you can come up with is that either this shard of mirror glass was broken somewhere else and carried here, or that a mirror was broken here and every other part of it removed/cleaned up.
Looking into the mirror glass you see only your own reflection.
Dirk rubs the graying stubble on his chin as he contemplates the puzzling location of the mirror fragment. Knowing that there could be a reasonable explanation for why the mirror is here doesn't diminish the fact that his warrior instincts are causing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up.
Stepping aside to give Selena a better view of the mirror, Dirk catches Thantos' attention and waves him over. "This mirror seems oddly out of place. No frame. No broken fragments surrounding it. It is simply lying here. Do you sense anything magical?"
As Selena studies the mirror hoping to find some ritual significance with it, Thantos looks down at the shard attempting to discern anything more about the mirror.
Gently picking it up he quickly glances at the bottom, then more forcefully turns it over to find it is mirrored on both sides...an oddity for any mirror.
Shaking his head Thantos says "My magical area of expertise precludes me from casting spells to divine the presence or absence of magical auras, my apologies."
(Thantos is specialized in Conjuration, this makes Abjuration and Divination spells "opposed class" spells for him and, thus, he does not have access to detect magic (from the divination realm) as cantrips from opposition schools don't seem to be viable selections for him.)
(Taking some liberty with your character Selena as I suspect this is your next action anyway...again, just to save some time and posts.)
Picking up on the hint, and finding nothing about this object that would indicate it to be used within any kinds of magical rituals, Selena goes through the motions of casting a simple Detect Magic spell.
A dim, lingering magical aura surrounds the large mirror shard in your hands. Focusing harder on it, Selena is capable of discerning that the aura is of the "conjuration" type but that there are no command words or other trigger effects associated with the object or the aura. For all intents and purposes, the aura is passive...a residual aura from an object created by magic instead of the aura given off by a magical item.
The original strength of the item this shard was attached to cannot be determined as you have no point of reference for how long this shard of mirror glass has lain here. By the state of the tower, however, you could make an uneducated guess of "days" instead of "hours".
If you wish additional information keep going, don't take this as my last word on the subject. If Thantos could have cast Detect Magic I'd have had him do so, but since he can't and since Dirk has asked I took the liberty of having Selena cast it. Apologies if I'm stepping on toes doing so. Selena: You can assume you've had Detect Magic running for 3 rounds at this point and have thouroughly examined the mirror shard.
Anything else you wish to do in the antechamber? Anything you'd like to do in the stairwell?
At this point you can continue upward to the second floor or continue exploring the ground floor. If you choose to continue exploring the ground floor, you can go through the east or west doors from the stair well or back into the Antechamber and go through the east/west doors there.
As the six of you start up the central staircase, a small pedestal on the far left side of the stairs draws your attention. Glancing at it, you see a miniature map of the tower laid out, likely for the benefit of guests trying to find their way around. Pulling out a quill, ink and piece of parchment you quickly sketch/copy the tower map before continuing up the stairs.
(I'll post up the player map of this tower as soon as I can get some scanner time at home. :) )
Making your way up the tower stairs you come up to the mid-floor landing, and then up to the second floor landing. As expected, the stairs continue up and another small pedestal rests part way up (likely another tower map).
The second floor landing is another 10x30' "hallway" with an open doorway into what looks like another east/west hallway in front of you. Exiting into that, you find a 10' wide hall going 360 degrees around the stairwell. About every 20' to 30' is a closed door leading off into another part of the second floor.
The hallway is fairly nondescript with faded and worn runner carpeting on the floor and periodic decorations or paintings with even a tapestry or two hung here or there between the doors. None of it looks overly expensive, and in most cases, not of very high quality. Whoever lived here was certainly not filthy rich...or at least wasn't interested in showing it.
The doors are all made of a generic hardwood (oak or maple probably) and seem in good upkeep. From the hallway, the doors all open inward and none appear to be locked (though they could be barred from the inside).
From the inside hallway of the tower you can barely hear the wind from outside, and the air here is slightly warmer, though certainly not "warm". Very little sound, other than the sounds of your own breathing and shuffling around in the hallway, come to your ears.
Ok, give me a day to get the map up so you all can get an understanding of where you're at and where you want to go here.
Perception Dirk: You see very few signs of whatever shredded the carpet of the entry way and stairwell. There are some holes in the threadbare carpeting and some scratches on the floor, but whether from age, use, or maliciousness you cannot tell.
Perception Lash: The door seems clean to you. No signs of tampering, no wires or other devices seem present. The door handle is worn and the iron is shiny in several places, indicating frequent use. The door opens inward at a push.
As you enter this small 20x30' room your sensibilities are shocked.
The chamber is obviously a bedchamber / living quarters for a ranking military official, probably a guard commander or tower administrator type. The room is pretty barren and is in bad shape.
The central furniture piece of the room is a queen sized bed which looks to have been violently or haphazardly sent into a state of disarray. The bedcloths are half on the bed and half off the bed, with many rips and holes in each piece. One pillow remains on the bed but has been practically shredded while the other pillow lays against a wall on the floor.
A small chest of drawers against one wall seems to have one drawer removed and laying on the floor while a small table in another corner area of the room lays on it's side on the floor.
A small chest, half hidden by the askew bedcloths rests under the disheveled bed.
All of that comes second, however, to the splatters of blood all over the room. The bed, walls, floor and even the ceiling have bloodstains on them, however there is absolutely no sign of a body anywhere you have found. Given the shier amount of blood in the room, it is unlikely that whoever was attacked here survived let alone had the ability to remove themselves from the room to somewhere else...the lack of blood in the hallway confirms that nothing left this room alive.
Looking at several places you find that while dried, the tint of the mess is still a bright red, denoting that the stains are still at least somewhat fresh.
As you recover from the shock of the gore, you notice a large shard of mirrored glass on the floor beside the doorway.
Even battle worn Dirk is shaken by the sight, "By the Gods... I've never seen such a sight."
Pushing his cloak back over the hilt of his weapon, Dirk begins an immediate search of all possible spots where someone, or something, may be hiding in ambush. Under the bed, behind curtains, behind dressers, etc.
You literally rip the rest of the room apart, figuring there's little left that hasn't been destroyed; even going so far as to try prying up / turning over some of the floorboards to see if there might be some kind of secret crawl space underneath the floor.
Nothing. No body, no attackers, no weapons, nothing. Not a trace of the former occupant or it's attacker other than the obvious mess.
Monsters, bandits, assassins, could be almost anything, though I would assume whatever it was was not concerned with the noise or mess it made. The blood here is still at least marginally fresh, probably no more than a few days old. However, whether it killed some random beggar using an abandoned tower in the woods to get out of the cold, or the actual owners of this abode, I'm not sure we can say.
Looking around with a critical eye, Armand continues:
I doubt the answer to this mystery is in this room alone. I recommend we continue, but carefully, there is no sign that whatever was here has actually left. Be on your guards.
Lash first checks the area around the chest as best she can to determine any traps attached. Finding nothing, she slowly drags the small chest out from under the bed to better examine it. Finding nothing she pulls out her lock picks, cracks her knuckles and stares intently at the small lock on the chest. Pulling a pair of picks from her kit, she starts fiddling with the lock and in moments the clear *snick* of the lock popping open can be heard by all.
The contents of the chest are in disarray. Whether the owner was simply slovenly or whether the chest has been rifled through already you cannot tell.
The contents look to be clothing and personal effects, a few nick knacks, and some weapon care supplies (a well used weapon/armor oiling rag is prominent among them).
Floors 1 and 2 do not have windows, floors 3 and above do. If you look at the tower map Here, look at the 3rd floor in the lower corner (you might have to zoom in on the picture by clicking on it) you'll see one section of the exterior wall in room 3.1 that is not a solid black line...it's 2 lines with white space between them...that's a window.
Sorry Lash, didn't see your "next room" comment, we'll move over one room to 2.4.
Dirk: Mirror shards are all semi-largish, of the two you've seen, this one is smaller than the first one on the ground floor by a significant amount. The ground floor one was maybe a foot and a half on each side (semi-triangular), whereas this one is more squarish and only about 7" or so on a side. Keep in mind when I talk about mirror shards or pieces of mirror glass they truly look like shards from a broken mirror, not squared off, nicely cut blocks or shapes...so when I say a piece is roughly triangular don't think isosceles triangle with sharp perfectly cut corners and smooth sides, think "oops I dropped a mirror on the floor and it shattered into 15 separate pieces one of which vaguely resembles a triangle"
Could the pieces fit together? Absolutely possible given the limited data you have, but unless you find significantly fewer of them scattered throughout the rest of this tower and/or much smaller pieces, the final "fit together" mirror would be enormous. You can certainly see no way for the piece on the ground in this part of the tower to fit or directly lock into the piece of mirror you found in the entry chamber on the ground floor...unless they go long side to long side in which case it could mean anything. You certainly don't get the feeling that the two mirror pieces you've found are a well fitting puzzle yet.
As to the destruction/blood/etc. Without examining the body it's tough to tell obviously, but a rather viscous animal attack or another large and careless trauma could account for the blood spray and mess you've seen in this room. Teeth or claws, dull weaponry, even systematic torture can cause messes like this. If anything it's actually more likely to be physical damage than magical damage as the cause of the state of the room.
All that said, all of this MAY be OOC knowledge. Most of your characters may not be familiar enough with pure unadulterated butchery to recognize this...so magic may be your answer to that. As an outdoorsman Mird may have some insight into my comments above having seen what large animal attacks could do. I'll let each of you make your own determinations as to how much of the above you've figured out. The answers I've given above aren't hidden and don't need to be "searched" for, so much as the character has to have the experience to string the details together to come to the conclusions. This may be a case where the characters have more knowledge than the players would living in this kind of environment, or this may be a case where the sight of the state of the room is too overwhelming to a character for them to be able to comprehend the magnitude of what might have happened. I leave it to each of you to act on the above information however you feel your character would.
Armand nods slowly at Dirk. "You may be on to something with that idea. It would certainly explain how a corpse disappears into thin air like this...ignoring the obvious, and very distasteful thought that the body was simply eaten."
Moving out of the room back into the hallway, the party turns north east to the near door (Room 2.4) and enters a wide but shallow room.
This 40x20' room is a kitchen of sorts and is a complete mess. The chamber has a large double fireplace spanning almost 20' across, and an interior window in the north west wall (on the wall to the left as the PC's enter the room, giving a view into room 2.6), which would seem to allow the castle cooks to pass food directly into the soldiers mess hall to the west.
Tables line the center of the room, long and thin, which would provide good working spaces for cutting, chopping or other cooking procedures while still allowing good movement throughout the room. Other tables, in the corners or along walls, provide room for individual cooks to work on various dishes without the need to interrupt or get in the way of other cooks. Each of the separate tables in the corners or walls contains a large oak cask / bucket which could be used for washing dishes.
While you're sure organization was once a large part of the kitchen routine, this room is anything but organized at this point. The room looks like it's been ransacked, pots, pans, chopping blocks, cleavers, knives and other silverware lay strewn about the floor of this room and in disarray on the various tables. A large iron cauldron has been knocked out of the fireplace and lays on it's side on the floor. It's contents largely coagulated and obviously rotting at this point, it looks like this pot held some kind of stew not long before.
Not even residual heat comes from anywhere in the room, meaning the fire to these cooking pits / fireplaces went out days ago.
A large shard of mirror glass is propped up against the fireplace facing out into the room.