The following morning, the party returns to Scumbler with the news that they will accept the mission to return to Irongate and retrieve the scepter from the burial vault beneath the Keep. Both Scumbler and Ystan seem relieved at the news, and preparations are made for the group to depart Nulray, along with Arameekos, in a few hours.
The return path chosen takes the PCs past Byrnehold, where they stop to speak with Adrian Byrne, the younger brother and marshall of the community, and inform him of what they learned of the changes at Irongate. Adrian tells them that he he already aware of this, and that his brother has been involved in some particularly tricky negotiations with a new delegation from Irongate, attempting to remain on good terms without directly allying with the large city.
The group leaves Byrnehold and travels northward along the Kendrichee River, encountering a large force of about 20 or more individuals, some mounted, some on foot. Their obvious leader dismounts and steps forward, introducing himself as Mellett, formerly of Irongate. He tells the party that his holdings and possessions have been siezed, and that he and his followers find themselves nearly destitute, and that they must regrettably request any coin held by the party. The PCs refuse, of course, and things begin to get tense, when Arameekos steps forward and tells Mellett that he should seek easier prey. The displaced noble questions why he should take the advice of an innkeeper, when the tiefling suddenly disappears, only to reappear again behind Mellett. He grabs the noble, then the pair again vanish. They reappear a few seconds later, smoke billowing from both and Mellett’s clothes smoldering, while his skin shows signs of being burned. He drops to all fours, in great pain.
Several of his followers break and run at this point, with the rest looking unsure. Vindurinn uses prestidigitation and his fey step ability to mimic Arameekos’ recent movement, and the remaining host flee. Elhara steps forward to heal Mellett, and Lucan tells the noble to relinquish his weapon and armor, and that they can do this the easy way or the hard way. Mellett states that he will not do so, and stands to defend his few remaining possessions. But of course, the combat was against all of the PCs, and so did not last long before Mellett, gravely wounded, was forced to yield.
Rational thought then snuck up on the party, winning initiative and pummeling them in a cascading barrage of coherent ideas. They realized that, due to his number of followers even as a renegade, Mellett must be charismatic. They also learned from Arameekos that he had been loyal to Lord Ystan. So they decided to let him retain his weapon and armor, with the promise that he go to the community of Fairflow further downriver, and await any more refugees from Irongate. He would form any of these willing into a force to come when called by Ystan. The noble drew himself up straight and gave his solemn word, before being rejoined by his followers and continuing south.
The journey resumed as the group now traveled westward along the foot of the Northern Rim. They saw a lone man sitting at a camp, who rose and left when he spied them, without saying a word. Arameekos rode his horse into the camp and dismounted, hitching his mount and seating himself upon a log. The PCs followed suit, with most trying to get come rest. Night came, and the party was awakened by several more individual arriving who seemed to be known to the tiefling. Cloyingly-scented hoods were placed over the heads of the characters as they were led for nearly an hour, frequently spun and turned to prevent any tracing of the route. Finally, the hoods were removed, and the PCs found themselves in an alley not far from A Wicked Grin, where they went and took rooms.
The next morning, they went to the servant’s entrance of Ystan’s Keep, where they were met by someone who had been waiting for them. The servant led them to her superior, who in turn led them to to burial vault and unlocked the door before leaving. The PCs entered and saw the object of their search on a granite stand before them, in the antechamber of the mausoleum. It was encased beneath a clear housing, and since glass in this era is transluscent and not transparent, this had to be something else. The scepter was of brass and silver, 32" in length, and appeared to be fairly heavy.
It was about this time that Lucan brought up the possibility of availing themselves of the opportunity of procuring other treasures which might be found among the sarcophogi, an idea which was quickly denounced by the other party members. One would think that such recurring comments and actions would make his fellows begin to question the character of the ranger.
A search of the stand revealed numerous small holes, as if for the discharge of gas, and the PCs removed tapestries from the wall and wrapped the granite in hopes of countering the trap. Kyden also found a small pressure switch which would activate when the clear top was removed. He slid one of his narrow thieves’ tools between the top and the switch before Lucan and Kesriel removed the top, preventing the switch from triggering. The possibility of a second triggering mechanism beneath the scepter was mentioned, and a discussion followed on how this might be dealt with.
Eventually, Kyden handed control of the tool holding down the switch to Vindurinn, and all characters except the eladrin left the room. Vindurinn then grasped the scepter and, using his fey-step ability, joined his companions with the scepter, leaving a cloud of gas seeping up from behind the tapestries wrapping the granite stand. The adventurers made their way back to the servant’s door to make their escape, but as they neared the door, they turned at the sound of rushing feet to see four keep guards and one spellcaster in pursuit.