The characters continue through the complex, eventually having nowhere to go but down to the lower level. There, they come into a large room with a number of tables used for torture, and steps at the far end of the room lead to a raised platform upon which rests an ancient, ornately carved chair. On this chair is seated a skeleton in the cracked and faded garb of a torturer, and the figure is fairly difficult to see due to the webbing covering it.
The ceiling to the room is high overhead, and nearly completely obscured by the spider webs some 20’ above the floor. All of the characters look, and Elhara notices movement among the webbing. The ancient ruins have shifted at some point, and groundwater has slowly made its way inside over the countless years. As a result, many of the pits and lower areas of the chamber have completely filled with foul smelling water, and the air is quite humid. When the characters attempt to set torch to the webs, they find them too wet to burn. Their actions do, however, attract the attention of the spiders lairing above, and a few of them drop down while the remainder scuttle across the webbing to reach them. Due to where each of the arachnids was at the time of the encounter, the party seemed able to deal with them easily enough, despite any ongoing poison damage.
A few rounds into combat with the spiders, the action seemed to gain the attention of some other creatures within the large room, and several viscous forms flowed from the water-filled lower areas to where the characters battled and began oozing forward. This proved to be a much for difficult fight for the PCs, who were reluctant to expend their most potent and damaging powers, in the belief that the skeleton seated at the far end of the chamber would somehow prove to be their toughest foe. At one point, Kyden was engulfed gy the green slime, while Kesriel was repeatedly struck by the gray ooze, weakening her bones. Eventually, the sole surviving ooze slipped back into the water, and the characters continued their exploration of the chamber.
Six arcane portals were also located within the room, each of these encircled by a stone border etched with flickering runes. Although no one could immediately make out the writing, Vindurinn was able to deduce that they were flickering because the magic which empowered these portals was very old and was fading, becoming unstable. With paper and charcoal stick, he copied the runes surrounding each of the portals. Several members of the party next went to the figure seated upon the chair, which had still not stirred since their appearance within the chamber. The skeleton’s garb, one of studded leather, was obviously that of a chief torturer, and designed for maximum mental anguish, but was otherwise unremarkable. What was remarkable was the headdress it wore. It was shaped in the likeness of a spider, with the body of the spider covering the crown of the head. The legs of the arachnid extended down to the jawline in the front, the base of the skull in the back. Vindurinn was able to determine that it was indeed enchanted and allowed for the control of a given quantity of arachnids, insects, and other such vermin.
With their exploration of the ruins complete, the party retraced their route and climbed the rope, replacing the disc made by the elves hundreds of years ago. They then went back to the surface and camped with Irongate’s token force for one final evening before heading out again once more for Bale’s Retreat. Vindurinn was hopeful that the information gleaned in the ruins would be sufficient to grant him honorary membership into the Eternal Order of the Quill.
On the journey to Bale’s Retreat, the group received a message in the scrollcase they had received when initially dispatched from Irongate, only the second they had ever received. It was unmistakably in Scumbler’s scrawled handwriting, and read, “Go immediately to the community of Nulray and speak with the one known as William the Vain. Ask to speak with the elven fletcher.”
Not believing that a slight delay would cause any harm, the party continue to Bale’s Retreat and undergo the by-now familiar process of entering the city; asking for Keltos at the gate, and waiting until evening for him to arrive to vouch for them. As hoped, the information about the portals was enough for Vindurinn’s membership into the Guild. He was able to purchase rituals at a reduced cost, particularly the Enchant Item ritual, which made his party member all squeal in excitement like a bunch of schoolgirls. I think Lucan even threw his panties at him, but I can’t be sure about that. They also took this opportunity to acquire certain items and sell off others.
Leaving Bale’s Retreat, the rode south along the Taralandar River to Nulray, where they asked at the gate to speak with William the Vain. After nearly an hour, William approaches the gate, huddled in his cloak against the frigid wind. Looking somewhat less than enthused at seeing the characters again, he says, “You again.” It is obvious that he is beginning to view every appearance of the PCs as another sleepless night spent by the door of the inn.
Lucan tells him that they need to board their horses at the stables by the inn then speak with the elven fletcher. William’s posture immediately straightens and he replies, “Very well. Follow me.” He leads them into the town where they take care of the horses, then across the footbridge into the slums, among a collection of run-down houses with faded whitewashing. He points out one and says, that is the one you seek, before withdrawing to find shelter from the wind.
The PCs approach and knock, and a small spydoor opens, revealing an eye, around which the skin is scarred and pulled taut from a long-ago burn. The smaller door closes and the larger door swings open, admitting the group. They enter to see Arameekos, who shuts the door behind them. A short distance away, Scumbler is speaping with a bearded human who appears to be in his early 30s.
“It is good to see you again, my friends,” says Arameekos. “Though some faces I recognize, others I do not.” Introductions are made for Lucan and Kyden, who hadn’t met the tiefling previously, though the hin was certainly aware of his standing in the city of Irongate. Elhara’s disdain for the smuggler and innkeeper was evident, and he seemed almost amused as he commented on this. Although he passed the time with small talk, he gave them little information, preferring to leave this to Scumbler.
After a short time, the two men at the small table finished speaking, and the bearded gentleman withdrew into what appeared to be the only bedroom of the small home. Scumbler waved them over and thanked them for coming, informing them that their report on the occurances at Edenhall had set off events within Irongate which led to this point. Apparently Jendis Sloan, the Lord’s chief advisor and High Priest of Erathis was dissatisfied with Lord Ystan’s measured approach and launched a successful coup, one which was completely unexpected.
It is unknown where the loyalties of many of Irongate’s most powerful players lie, particularly the Brass Masks, whose support could be critical for either side.
When asked why they came to Nulray, it is learned that Mother Zubota, the large tiefling woman who rules the power base in Nulray is Arameekos’ half-sister, and he is quick to emphasize the “half” part.
Although Ystan is technically no longer a Lord, and they are not beholden to him, Scumbler has one more request to make of the PCs. He would like the to go to Irongate, into the family burial vault beneath Ystan’s Keep, and retrieve a scepter. When asked if it is magical, he assures them that it is not. When they ask why it is wanted, he informs them that it has long been in the Lord’s family, and that it is desired that it should remain with the bloodline. The PCs inform Scumbler that they would like time to think on this, and he agrees to await their answer in the morning. They return to the inn, accompanied by William, who remains by the door all night.