The adventurers needed to take stock, and secure in the knowledge that Keil’s protective spells would secure the perimeter for the next eight hours, they decided to rest up in the remains of the gnolls’ camp. The remains were carted aside, while the warforged set themselves aside from the resting organics to undertake repairs using blacksmithing skills.
One undisturbed night later, they decided to return to the surface and contact the Black Lantern by way of a spell in Ruin’s repertoire that allowed him to pass messages through trees. Remembering that the Glass House had trees from various countries in it, he was able to target the communications through them, and to ask for guidance on how to proceed.
The return of the pouch of documents delivered by Spugnoir was still deemed to be important, but the descriptions of the cultists and their strangely empowered gnoll allies had the Black Lantern wanting further investigations. An old cult active around the beginning of the Last War had built the fortification they were investigating, and there had always been questions around why this particular location had been chosen. The strange behaviour of the gnolls suggested the involvement of Mindflayers of Thoon – an obscure cult of which not much was known beyond a willingness to infiltrate and engineer magical change in their thralls for specialised purposes.
The group was instructed to return to the dungeon and find out what the cultists had been unearthing. If they could find out what the Thoon were up to as well, that would be a bonus. Reluctantly they gathered themselves and made their way back down. Further exploration brought them to the chambers used by the human cleric they had previously encountered, but additional bedding suggested that there were more cultists still to be found.
More importantly, once a trapped chest had been dealt with, the diary of someone called Felstrath was found, detailing the cult’s activities until recently. Sent by The Masters, and worshipping the Elder One, the cultists had begun excavating until interrupted by the arrival of the dragon that the adventurers had managed to kill earlier. Trapped in the complex below the fort, they had continued to delve, hoping that a relief force would come find them if too much time passed, or that the dragon would get bored and move on. The writing and language grew ever more erratic, and made mention of monstrous allies, but wasn’t clear what they were. It did however pinpoint where the dig was happening – in the old well room.
With a renewed sense of purpose, they carried on, and soon approached the area that had been pointed out. The sounds of winches and metal on stone could be heard, so some stealthy scouting was called for. Three cloaked figures could be seen, levering an odd statue off a platform suspended over a deep hole in the bedrock.
Some fevered conversations and planning among the group led to Daria the bard disguising herself as the cleric they had previously met. She took Bumperklart with her into the room, dressed in robes taken from the other corpses, and attempted to persuade the cultists there that they had been rescued from the threat of the dragon.
She was hoping to trick the cultists into telling her where all the items excavated were meant to be sent, but a disastrous skill check roll saw the close-knit plans unravel when she mangled her words, used the wrong accent, and possibly did the cultist equivalent of offering proscribed food as a snack.
Two of the cultists used Command to try and force her and Bumperklart to drop their weapons, while the third revealed himself to be a troglodyte cleric, who summoned a fiendish adder at their feet. Daria ran for cover, and Bumperklart unleashed the fearsome destructive power of the giant’s tooth – invoking a Word of Chaos.
As the cultists were all deeply chaotic, not to mention evil, this did nothing at all to them, and so as a cliffhanger, battle was joined…