It became obvious that the elderly scribes were commited to purchasing with their lives the much-needed time to secure their knowledge, and that there was little the PCs could do to convince them to turn any of it over to the forces below. As the party prepared to depart the solemn scene at Edenhall, the scribe who had been tending the priest of Kord approached and informed the individual they had been speaking with that the priest had been given a tonic, one which would render him useless for the upcoming fight, and probably for several days following. If, as suspected, the attacking forces were indeed professionals, they would not slay a helpless figure.
Elhara was somewhat distressed by this.
Dust still rose from the ruins of the last defensive gate, and the party said their final goodbyes, recognizing the finality of the situation. The old scribe joked that this group of old men might still have some surprises left, and the group began the twenty minute trek back down the mountainside. As they neared the foot of the mountain, they could see the forces amassing for their final assault, and they went in search of whom they believed to be the commander, attempting to delay the inevitable. They were unable to buy time, however, and the troops began the climb at dawn.
Vindurinn sends word via the scroll tube to Scumbler about the events.
Still having the intent of exploring the nearby ruins, the party crossed the road and began to pick their way among the weathered stones, finding few areas which might possibly conceal anything of interest. Only a short time had passed into their search when the area of the mountain up by the monastery became alight with orange fire, and the screams of the attackers could be heard echoing off the stone face.
The characters resumed their exploration and went through several small basements, though nothing of any particular interest. Finally, they came across a larger underground structure, one of several rooms connected by winding corridors. These had long ago been stripped bare, save for the largest chamber, which contained four stone statues placed equidistant around a heavy stone disc on the floor, some 8’ in diameter, secured with 4 metal hasps. There was an insignia etched upon the surface of the disc, as well as elven script. For some unknown reason, Lucan, the ranger, recognized the symbol as that of the evil deity Torog, while Elhara was able to translae the script as reading “Below is the domain of the King Who Crawls”. Elhara also recognized the statues as dedicated to Pelor by the insignias upon their shields, though unlike every other one she had ever see, these were facing downward, directly at the disc. A discussion followed, with Lucan wanting to move the disc and venture beyond, while everyone else urged caution, some even suggesting travelling to the nearbly elven community of Astonei.
Eventually, it was decided to go into the High Forest and see if a representative of the elven people could be found, so the group left the ruins and made the short trip into the largely coniferous forest where Elhara called out, not really expecting a response. Shock and disbelief were apparent when an elven woman silently stepped out from the brush, but although she answered any questions put to her, she seemed unconcerned about the events at Edenhall and had no knowledge or curiosity of what lay beneath the ruins. She suggested that some of the more knowedgable elves at Astontei might better be able to help.
The group made the four day ride to Astonei, and there found a sprawling community in the trees, at varying heights, all connected by bridges of woven rope and wooen planks. They inquired into the reason for their visit, and were directed to an elf named Lyethon at the Circl of Studies. As they made their way, they noticed that no point along the various paths was granted shelter from the multitude of elven archers located about the community.
Eventually, they approached Lyethon, who suspended his conversation with several other elves with the arrival of the newcomers. They told him of their find, and he in turn told them of the history of the statues and the disc, that both had been placed there by his father when he had been a young man to protect against the lingering evils of that place. Evils both prized by Torog and Jubilex.
Armed with this information, and with the fact that the eveil has been in decline for nearly three hundred years, the young adventurers spend one night in Astonei before beginning the return trip to the ruins. Upon their arrival, they see that the bulk of the force has departed, leaving only a small contingent behind, most of whom seem to be camped where the larger force had previously been. Elhara notices a glint of metal high on the mountain’s face, one which she almost instinctively knows to be the reflection off a Brass Mask, one of Irongate’s Prefects.
As the PCs introduce themselves to the soldiers and try to get information, they learn that the scribes had managed to secret their works away in an extradimensional pocket, and that the Brass Mask is attempting to somehow find the key to access that space. When asked if there were any survivors or prisoners, they are told that there was but one, a man found in a torpor so deep as to be likened unto death. A description was given, and this was determined to be the priest of Kord whom had caused such an unusual reaction in the priestess of Pelor.
Depsite the priestess’ protestations that the actions by the forces of Irongate against the sages were unacceptable, and the party’s attempts to encourage the sages to barter for their lives by parting with their tomes and scrolls, Elhara now quickly turned on the man who actively came to the defense of those sages, and gave a sworn statement attesting to the storm priest’s actions on behalf of Edenhall.
Returning to the ruins, the PCs returned to the stone disc, where it took the collective effort of most of the party to move the heavy barrier and reveal the darkness beneath. A glowstick revealed a scene which made the priestess recoil. The area which could be seen was home to a multitude of spiders, insects, and centipedes, which crawled along every surfece. After Lashing a rope around one of the stone statues, the adventurers lowered themselves down, one by one. Literally, no step could be taken without causing a crunching sound underfoot.
The smaller creatures proved more of a nuisance than a threat, but the group did encounter a pair of giant spiders and a large beetle, which they dealt with successfully. As the moved through the complex, the constant chittering noise grew louder, and they came to an area where a series of steps led down into a large room filled with a unknown depth of the crawling vermin. A pair of monstrous centipedes were in this room, feeding on their smaller kin, and Lucan produced his bow and shot an arrow into it. The creature reacted by charging the ranger, drawing attacks from both Kesriel and Kyden. The poor beast, which was simply trying to feed, was killed in short order.