Monday, 29 June 2009

4ed Campaign - Session 27 - 21st June 2009

In which diplomacy is a vorpal weapon, and the ghosts of games long since played arise to threaten the company...

Roster
(Party Level 5th)
Azurami - Eladrin Wizard
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin (off-stage)
Jonas - Human Ranger (off-stage)
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord

Leaving Finial and Jonas behind to watch the rear, the party plunges neck-deep into a connecting tunnel, swimming their way through weed-choked water to another vault, much like the one they just left behind. Magical illumination reveals stagnant, hip-deep water, with the space between the four pillars choked with sharp fronds that look like petrified versions of the rubbery weeds they've been wading through.

According to Luhnarstes' map, the way forward is through the lair of the "green-skins" to the south, but in an explorative mood, the company decides to head for another opening to the east. Hugging the wall, they're unnerved by the sensation that there are heavy... somethings submerged in the water, bobbing against their bodies as they walk. Xavier takes it upon himself to stab one of them, resulting in a cloud of milky, noxious-looking chum bubbling up from underneath, and after more examination, it appears to be a humanoid body of some kind, wrapped in weed, and tied off to the weed-bed under the water. Careful not to desecrate the tomb any further, they push on to the north-eastern vault.

The next room is unusual. A viscous scum, like egg-white, appears to have collected around the edges of the vault, and the entire south-eastern quarter of the chamber has collapsed inward... and unnaturally so, as if a great explosion or other event deep in the rock pushed hundreds of tons of rubble into the room. The mucus-like substance, upon closer inspection, is shot through with colour... much like the flurock, and a degree of speculation ensues as to the nature of the substance, and its relation to the mysterious rock.

Within the collapse itself, the company discovers a strange void, about a foot across and worming its way through the rock. The interior surface is lined with a chalky powder, also determined to be the strange material that originally brought them to Saruun Khel, and the party cogitates on this new information. Is the flurock excreted by some kind of underground creature, or food for ir, perhaps? Are Paldemar and his mages using the stuff to attract some kind of burrowing worm, perhaps as an engineering tool or for some other nefarious purpose? No answers are to be had here, and with the rock-fall completely blocking the exit to the south, they have no choice but to put their theories on the back-burner and forge on for now.

Expecting trouble, they cautiously make their way down the duct to the middle vault of the cistern... only to find it completely plugged with a mass of dried weeds. Although a submerged valve does provide a way to circumvent the barrier, Berend is understandably reticent and in the end, the company attaches a rope to the weed plug and pulls it forcibly down, retreating whence they came.

No attack is forthcoming, although the hissing sibilants of a language no-one understands reverberate out at them through the tunnel. Xavier boldly proclaims their purpose -- that they intend no harm, and simply want to pass -- and after what seems like an interminable wait, a lizard-like creature with four arms, wielding a barbed trident and with a leather mask draped over most of his features, emerges suspiciously from the tunnel. It is a sahuagin, far from its normal home in this dank, festering basement. Calciferous tumours cover much of its body like a disease, once again the the same hue and texture as the flurock.

There follows a tense stand-off as both parties strive to understand each-other across the language barrier. Pantomime diplomacy enthusiastically applied on Xavier's part, and the gift of a sword to the saguagin emissary, eventually seem to communicate their intention not to do any harm, and several other sahuagin emerge, all sporting the same strange growths on their bodies. Surrounding the company, they urge them forward. With little option but to trust that their efforts were successful, they're led into the sauagin enclave.

Inside, the room is dark with weed and algae, growing far up the walls and across the ceiling. Large outcrops of crisp, dry weed have been gathered around the bases of the pillars, forming islands of sorts, and in the far corner, what looks like the jaws of a giant shark, wrapped reverently in overlapping strands of weed, has been strung from the ceiling. As the party is led through the chamber with dark, unblinking eyes watching their progress, they spy what might be the sanctuary's priest, a slouched, crooked beast with four segmented tentacles where his right arm should be. The creature hisses at them in disgust as they pass, but doesn't interfere.

Soon they stand no worse for wear in the next vault, having passed unscathed through the sahuagin lair, and with the entrance sealed unceremoniously shut behind them.

Pushing on, the atmosphere begins to change. The water they're wading through becomes icy cold, as does the air in their lungs, and the fungal growths in the cistern take on gigantic, deformed proportions. Access to the final vault on Luhnarstes' map is via an ascending pipe that is almost blocked by these festering growths, dripping slime onto the adventurer's heads and necks, and decomposing into mold almost before their very eyes.

The final chamber is similar, but writ large. Massive, rotting mushrooms and other plants line the walls, pillars, and ceiling, and a constant dripping rain of slime has created a standing layer of vitriol on the floor... but it's the minotaur corpse lying half-consumed by fungal growths near the door that grabs their most immediate attention. The creature is skeletal save for a thin layer of skin that appears almost blanketed over its skull, and is lying slumped in death, one hand clutching an aged sword.

Xavier cannot resist -- after all, he has to replace the sword he gave to the sahuagin -- but unfortunately, touching the minotaur appears to activate a ghostly trap. Suddenly from all around, the distant sound of applause begins to swell, growing from a mere echo to a thunderous roar which washes over the room. Several spectral shapes appear near the center... ghostly minotaurs, dressed in gladiator's garb. They salute the unseen crowd, which shouts its approval, and advance upon the party.

The fight contracts around the entrance to the vault, and becomes nasty. The party is outnumbered and Berend quickly finds himself surrounded on almost all sides. Azurami unleashes a storm of thunderous energies, smashing her attackers back again and again, but still they keep coming... and she suddenly notices something odd, that their reactions to her attacks, although realistic, seem a little forced... theatrical, almost.

The mystery resolves itself when Berend shouts a challenge at the watching crowd -- "I'll not play your games any more!" -- causing their boos and whistles to turn to deafening applause as his axe smashes through one of the gladiators... who then suddenly winks out of existence. Picking up the hint, the others do the same, playing the crowd as best they can and eradicating their opponents one by one not only through their own firepower, but also on the sharp edge of audience approval.

At this point, however, things take an unexpected turn. The nearby skeletal minotaur creaks to life, rising to its feet as several others push their way out of the the deep folds of the festering vegetation. The battle commences with renewed ferocity, much to the audience's delight, but Xavier is almost overwhelmed as he desperately fights off multiple attackers...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

4ed Campaign - Session 26 - 7th June

In which the Lord of the Mages of Saruun is infinitely unamused, a careful trust is finally established, and a the party finds a would-be king presiding over a drowned kingdom...

Roster
(Party Level 5th)
Azurami - Eladrin Wizard
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Ranger
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord

Orontor leads the company to the teleportation circle and utters the command word -- "Cantratos!" -- without any attempt to disguise it (experts in the party conclude this is most likely a name, rather than an invocation). There is a sickening lurch as reality contracts around them -- especially disorienting to the eladrin in the group, and a very different trip to their familiar jaunts through the Feywild -- before they find themselves in the audience chamber.

It is a stone room, perfectly circular, with a door to one side and a series of round porthole-like windows around the edge (although what they look out onto is impossible to see, as they are sealed with metal shutters which are magically locked). Orontor looks unexpectedly confused, and admits he has never been here before, but suggests that the party waits patiently nonetheless. After a few minutes, a melodic chime sounds out, footsteps are heard on the other side of the door, and it swings silently open revealing a short corridor, and another, similar room opposite this one. Orontor, whispering into Xavier's ear, identifies the three men that stand there.

Two are side-by-side, and a third is at their back. One is a tall, stocky youth with hair cut around his head in a bowl, a pinched face, brown leather britches, and a red poncho draped over his chest. Orontor identifies this mage as Passeract, no small amount of dislike in his voice. The other is a taller, thinner man with a twitchy, squinting demeanour, and is dressed similarly; this mage Orontor introduces as Emerjis.

Behind them is Paldemar himself. He is nondescript of face, sporting a mop of stringy black hair, shot through with grey, and a large moustache of similar hue. A silver-clasped cloak is draped over one shoulder, although there is, unusually, not one ounce of gold or silver anywhere else to be seen on him, while the rest of his body, aside from tall black boots, appears to be clad in ribbons of multicoloured cloth and silk, bound about his midsection like a mummy's wrappings. His eyes alight on each of his visitors with an air of supreme dominion.

Passeract introduces "The most gracious Lord Paldemar", steps aside to allow the Lord of the Mages of Saruun to take a seat, and invites questions, but quickly, so that his "most esteemed and valuable time" is interrupted no longer than necessary. The party asks about the Court of Cloaks, flurock, and the Bloodreavers, but gets short shrift from the mage, who seems more distracted by the quality of his manicure than in anything the company might have to say.
He admits to having imported "a few kilo's" of the strange material known as flurock, and even examines the sample they have brought with them... whereupon, in his grasp, the rock begins to malform and elongate like clay. This draws gasps of surprise from the party but, when questioned, he simply explains that it is "one of the many properties of an otherwise uninteresting substance", and returns it to them.

On the subject of the Bloodreavers, he tells the party that he knows of their escapades, and asks Orontor directly if their excursion to the Chamber of Eyes was done at his behest, to which the mage, now even paler than usual, is forced to admit that it was. Paldemar shows neither anger nor approval at this, causing Orontor to fidget even more nervously than before.

Xavier tries hard to press home the issue of the kidnapped Kingsblade, attempting to convince the mage that is in all their interests that the slaves are found and rescued quickly, before word spreads to the King, and that a certain... package which is the property of the Court of Cloaks is also recovered before the Court comes looking for it Themselves.

"A fine institution, but of no interest here. They hold no dominion in the Labyrinth. If they have a presence in the Hall, I suffer it by virtue of not caring." -- Paldemar on the Court of Cloaks.

Neither the Court of Swords nor the Court of Cloaks appears to concern him much, that is until the party begins insinuating that they have contacts in the Court, and it may actually be in their interest, if not Paldemar's, to draw some attention to the Seven-Pillared Hall. The atmosphere turns a chilly at this point, with Passeract enraged that they should threaten Lord Paldemaar in this way, but the leader of the Mages, despite all claims to the contrary, eventually seems inclined to avoid unnecessary confrontations with the Courts of the King, and intimates that he is receptive to an agreement.

The company's proposal is simple: help them gain entrance to the Horned Hold, and do not warn the duergar that they are coming. Paldemar agrees, and instantaneously, information on how to reach the Hold resolves itself in all of the company's minds as if it had always been there. This small concession markes the end of the meeting, however. Ordering Orontor to stay behind to "have a little talk", Paldemar, his entourage (daggers of contempt firing from their eyes), and the terrified mage all depart.

(Orontor returns a short time later, and to their surprise appears renewed. Gone are the dirty, hand-me-down robes he was dressed in before, replaced with a resplendent set of clothes adorned in fine jewelry. Delighted, he tells them that Paldemar not only thanked him for dealing with the Bloodreavers, who, it turns out, have been a thorn in the mage's side ever since he gave them residence in the Hall, but also promoted him to the inner circle of the mages! "No more holding that great oaf's leash," he says in reference to the ogre Brugg, "now I get treated as an equal!")

Talk turns to their next step, but the conversation suddenly turns prickly, as Jonas reveals what he saw of Xavier's visit to the duergar, and the issues which have plagued the two of them since the dragonborn joined the party are finally given voice. The discussion is terse but fruitful. Elumai also opines that trust has been difficult to give to Xavier, given his authoritarian tone (and revealing a little of her noble background in the process), while Berend (claiming a title himself - "Heir to the chieftainship of the Moddison Branch of the Hrafnkells") is, as usual, phlegmatic about the whole thing. The discussion comes to a cordial end, but a feeling of unresolved tension still lingers somewhwat over the proceedings.

Using the teleportation command to return to the Hall, they examine their options. The mental instructions transmitted to them from Paldemar suggest two approaches. First, they can use what is essentially the front gate, but since they know the Hold is in effect a duergar fortress and likely to be stuffed with dwarves intent on killing or capturing them, this is not an attractive option. Second, and more interestingly, there is apparently a hidden entrance accessed by traversing the abandoned cistern beneath the Seven-Pillared Hall. This old and disused facility is, by repute, haunted by memories of its ancient past, but this serves more as an enticement than anything else, and they decide to make use of it.

Jonas scouts the entrance -- a grating into which the river running through the Hall plunges at its north end -- and declares it cold and wet, but serviceable, and the company drops into a frigid pool below. Following the mental map in their head, they delve into a broad, half-submerged pipe, which ultimately culminates in a collapsed dead end. However, built into the floor is a valve of sorts, leading into a slimmer underwater pipe, which Berend, being the smallest member of the party, volunteers to investigate.

He emerges into a large inner chamber, but before he can investigate further, is hauled back by the rest of the company. His hair and beard are covered in tiny white pods like seeds or sports, and within a few minutes, he starts to feel ill. Upon inspection by the rest of the party, he is found to have contracted Delver's Cap, a fungal disease known to thrive in stagnant water. This news does not put a smile on his face... however, he points out that if anyone had to be the first to catch it, better it was a dwarf.

Navigating the confines of the access pipe, the party emerges into a square, vault-like room supported by four pillars that arch up into the ceiling and about a hundred foot or more to a side. About three feet of stagnant water covers the floor. In the center of the room, a shallow circular bowl of stone appears brightly illuminated, and upon closer inspection, appears filled with a strange, glowing plant. Above, a recess in the ceiling contains long, dangling fronds, all glowing with the same phosphorescent light, and the party wisely decides to circumvent this obvious trap.

Jonas uses his exceptional climbing skill to traverse the walls and ceiling, but suddenly finds himself under attack from a dark corner. Arrows whistle ineffectually past him in the dark, clanging off the walls and sploshing into the water, riding on a wave of verbal abuse from someone as yet out of sight:

"Villains! Green-skinned pirates! You'll not assail this kingdom, my life upon it!"
"Foul demons! You see my strength of arms! You'll find no revenge here! Retreat, or welcome Luhnarstes' wrath!" -- Luhnarstes at the approach of the party.

Guided by magical light provided by his friends, Jonas closes in on the voice and finds an island of refuse built of wood, cloth, wire, and seemingly anything else that might have been washed into the cistern, built into one corner of the vault. Crouching behind a makeshift rampart, he spots what looks like a tiefling, although the man's horns have been filed or snapped off just behind the ear. Dressed in rags, thin of form and with leathery tan skin, the man's crazed albino eyes look out from under a makeshift crown fashioned of crooked forks and spoons, and he exhorts Jonas with promises of pain and damnation if he comes any closer. Eventually, the tiefling stands, launches a poorly-aimed spear which splashes into the water over Jonas's shoulder, and retreats to a corner, cowering in fear.

The party approaches, but the derelict, who calls himself Luhnarstes, seems inconsolable, muttering variously about green-skinned devils, the rise of the pale moon, the fact that "he is not worthy of revenge!" and other nonsense which makes very little sense. Slowly, gradually, with the combined skills of the party brought to bear, he at least calms somewhat, and although questions about his own situation and how he came to be down here result only in frantic gibberish, they're able to ask him for help on the matter of the cistern itself.

In fact, with the proper persuasion, he is able to scrawl a map for them, showing nine vaults in a 3x3 pattern, interconnected by a network of pipes and tunnels, some of which have collapsed. The "green-scaled pirates" that occupy so much of his banter appear to reside near the center of the complex, but he also warns the company of the "horned ones, who will make you but players in their devilish game!"

Thus armed, the party clears away the flotsam accumulated by Luhnarstes over the exit tunnel, and pushes on into the darkness...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

4ed Campaign -- Session 25 -- 31st May 2009

In which Berend finds interest from an unexpected quarter, duergar schemes are brewing in the cellar, and trust doesn't come easy in the company of heroes...

Roster
(Party Level 5th)
Azurami - Eladrin Wizard
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Ranger
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord

With nothing to do but wait for Orontor's return, the party decides to explore the Hall and follow up on some of the things they've already learned. Finial, Azurami, and Xavier wish to pay a visit to the Temple of Hidden Light, the Hall's only chapel, while Jonas, Berend, and Elumai decide that the Grimmerzhul Trading Post may be a better bet.

At the Temple, the adventurers find a simple and austere chapel chiseled out of the western face of the cavern. Within, stone benches face an altar, on which is displayed a contraption of arresting complexity. Gears, pulleys, and chains, powered by a slender column of water running from a finger of metal pipe punched into the ceiling, keep a sequence of metal balls rolling in perfect, perpetual synchronicity up and down the length of the machine. Xavier is immediately struck by the device, and engages the resident priest, Phaledra, in conversation.

The simply-dressed young woman is a worshiper of Erathis, goddess of law and civilization. She commissioned the device from a dwarven family far to the south, she reveals, to represent, most obviously, the action of numerous pieces working to the advantage of the greater whole... although what it does for her own personal spiritual betterment is knowledge for her alone. She invites all three of the company who have come to visit her to look into the machine and take whatever lessons or education from it while they can, before she is required to move on. The Temple's portfolio, she informs them, changes regularly at the behest of the mages, and none of the priests who have served here have been allowed to stay for more than a few weeks, a month or two at most. Xavier diligently maps the workings of the device, and leaves a sizable donation behind as well, before they all move on.

The others make their way to the trading post. It's a single-story building constructed of large, uniform blocks; surrounded also by a shallow, crenelated stone wall like a rampart, the feeling is of a little fortress within the Seven-Pillared Hall. Three duergar, armed and ready for a fight, lounge about the place, but do not impede the party as they pass through an open iron gate towards the shop itself. Jonas slips around the outside, darting between mounds of refuse piled haphazardly against the inner side of the wall.

Inside the shop, neat arrangements of bottles, vials, jars and jugs of all kinds are on display, and the proprietor, a duergar woman names Kedhira, greets her new visitors with polite nobility, inviting them to look around while entertaining questions on her inventory from Elumai. Things take a sudden turn for the strange, however, when out of the blue she asks Elumai how much she would be prepared to take... for Berend! She claims to have buyers lined up who would pay good money for a dwarf in his condition, but Elumai, after due consideration, reluctantly declines the transaction. Berend himself is ignored during this discussion, but seems more amused than insulted.

Outside, Jonas spies two entrances into rear of the premises: a hatch probably used to load supplies into the cellar, and a separate staircase leading down to a sturdy-looking door. Avoiding the patrolling guard, he slips into the cellar, there to find a treasure-trove of alchemical goods and material, as well as a sophisticated looking assemblage of jars, stills, pipes and condensers. Another door opens onto a room in which three duergar appear to be at work bottling various malefic-looking substances, with another dark stairwell leading down into the depths, but Jonas leaves them well-enough alone... that is until an uncharacteristically clumsy exit rouses them from their work. He is forced to fight his way out but eventually escapes into the Seven-Pillared Hall, where, clambering up to the high vantage of Krand's chambers, he lays low until he can make contact with the others.

Finally, before the meeting with Orontor, Xavier decides on one last course of action. Leaving the others, he walks alone to the Trading Post and confronts Kedhira directly, quickly dropping all pretense and offering her above-market value for the Kingsblade slaves that he knows the duergar have bought. Kedhira remains coy, never admitting to the truth, but seems open to Xavier's offer, nonetheless. She considers it for a few moments, but in the end, whether it's the company kept by the dragonborn, the likelihood of betrayal, or the possibility that these particular slaves have a value not measured in mere currency, she turns him down. Xavier, hinting that this is a decision she will live to regret, leaves peacefully, but unbeknownst to him, his visit to the duergar has taken place under the watchful and suspicious eye of Jonas far above.

Later, as the trade bell tolls its command across the Hall, the company meets with Orontor. He is no less nervous and bemused by what he is about to do than before, but nevertheless, after accepting a copy of the receipts and accounts salvaged from the Chamber of Eyes (edited by Elumai to remove any mention of the Necrotech Coffin), he leads them out of the inn and to their scheduled meeting with Paldemar, leader of the Mages of Saruun...

Monday, 1 June 2009

4ed Campaign -- Session 24 -- 24th May 2009

In which they don't make carpets like they used to, the theory that dwarven beards always grow back thicker is put to the test, and hallelujah! It's raining duergar!
Roster
Azurami - Eladrin Wizard 4
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 4
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 4
Finial - Half-elf Paladin 4
Jonas - Human Ranger 4
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord 4

The fight against Krand and his duergar allies heats up very quickly... not least because the expensive carpet with which he has covered the floor of his hideout bursts into flame at the slightest provocation, creating a conflagration which spreads rapidly across the room.

The fire sprites leap excitedly into the midst of the party, dodging several blows to get into position, and suddenly ignite into columns of flame which roar upward and singe the stone roof above. More than one of the adventurers is set ablaze by this attack, and the heat of the creatures forces them back, but Krand appears unphased as the sprites take up position either side of him, the sparks and flames of their auras obscuring the hobgoblin from sight. Meanwhile, the invisible duergar takes this opportunity to strike, phasing into existence alongside a distracted Azurami and dealing her a serious blow before vanishing from sight once again.

From here the fight is as much about avoiding going up in flames as it is about defending themselves and dispatching their enemies. The fire gradually eats across the room, pushing the adventurers further towards the ledge. As Xavier and the melee specialists do their utmost to pin Krand and his allies into position, Elumai ducks into the bedchamber to escape the heat, and spots a couple of interesting things.

In one corner is a patch of gellatinous slime, spilled out across the floor as if evacuated from a container of some sort. Amongst the thick, jelly-like humours are stringy ropes of matter like thin coils of pipe, and other fleshy masses float like large exploded blisters on the surface. In quiet desperation against the encroaching heat, Elumai splatters some of the jelly onto the expanding fire... where it immediately extinguishes the flames and hardens into a thin, transparent patina on the floor, keeping the flames a few steps at bay from the bedchamber at least. Apart from the strange goop, a wooden chest also catches her attention, and a quick look inside reveals a few coin and some gems. She doesn't waste time searching the entire thing for now.

Outside, a tenacious defense has dispatched all of their foes except for Krand and the duergar scout, now both retreating through the flames to a hidden escape route through the back of the fireplace. Berend charges through the inferno in pursuit, gritting his teeth against the heat and flames, and pins them down, allowing his allies to deal the killing blows from behind. At the same time, Xavier and Azurami heave what's left of the carpet back onto itself, rolling it up in a successful attempt to beat back the fire. Soon, the blaze is out, leaving only the scorched, smoke-filled interior of Krand's quarters... at least, what's left of them.

In return for victory, the wooden chest turns up an impressive pile of booty... but not before Elumai, unwilling yet to share the full haul with members of the party she does not yet fully trust, has secretly pocketed several gems. Otherwise, a set of Bracers of Defense go to Azurami, a Master's Wand of Magic Missile +1 goes to Elumai, gratefully received to enhance her staple attack, and Krand's Magic Longspear +1 goes to Xavier. A selection of potions is handed around, and a bundle of duergar beard quills, tied with string and sitting at the bottom of the chest, is a mystery to the company, but taken nevertheless.

Of separate interest is a sheaf of accounts, showing the dealings of the Bloodreavers over recent months. It lists individual slaves (quality rated on a scale of 1 to 5), codenames for their buyers, and the price fetched. "2 x Human female, Kingsblade" stands out amongst the entries, as does "1 x Elven child", a prize which was sold to a buyer codenamed "Arak" for 2500gp, a sum far in excess of any of the others, even the Kingsblade.

Finally, they find a collection of letters between Krand and none other than Kalarel, the scion of Orcus who was behind the plot to open the portal to the Shadowfell near Winterhaven. It seems Kalarel had promised to deliver the "expendable" occupants of the town to Krand once his plan had come to fruition, but annotations in (presumably) Krand's own hand reveal that Kalarel was foiled by a group of strangers staying in Winterhaven at the time. His final note, underlined at the bottom of the final letter from Kalarel, simply reads: "Find these bastards."

In a separate chest of drawers, the party discovers a selection of ceremonial outfits, all expensively tailored in Krand's size, representing characters from various religious festivals in support of all of the Gods of the land. What he used this garb for remains a mystery.

Fearing a visit from Bloodreaver reinforcements, or perhaps the Ordinator Arcanis after all the trouble they've caused, the party bolsters their position and takes a rest. Jonas enjoys the opportunity of spying on the activities of the Hall from the high vantage, seeing little of note except, perhaps, for what is presumably a mage, who appears in a flash of light on the teleportation circle and pays a lengthy visit to the Grimmerzhul Trading Post, an establishment which Jonas knows is run by duergar.

The group follows Krand's secret escape down a series of stairwells and chutes back to the Seven-Pillared Hall, where they return to the Halfmoon Inn to meet with Orontor (and, later, are forced to make a brief and somewhat sheepish return visit to the Chamber of Eyes to find and collect Rendil, whom they had left trussed up in an unexplored room).

Orontor meets them as promised, delighted to find them having returned in one piece from their mission, although he is somewhat sickened by the presentation of a bloody sack containing Krand's head. He innocently enquires after any "packages" which they might have found, any unusual artifacts delivered to the Bloodreavers which he suspects may have been destined for Paldemar, but the party chooses not to tell him about referenced they found to the mysterious Necrotech Coffin. Nevertheless, he pays them the princely sum of 350gp, and agrees to follow through on his promise to arrange a meeting with Paldemar... if only he could take the paper accounts they found, for study. The party promises to make him a copy, and Orontor goes on his way, dissatisfied but with no other recourse, and tells them to meet him back at the inn when the Trading Bell tolls later that evening.

This leaves the party with a sack full of unanswered questions, and an entire afternoon to kill...