After a quick scouring of the goblins, the party descended into the lower levels of the keep. They thoroughly investigated the lower level, finding an ancient armory and storerooms long since plundered of anything valuable. Hearing no sounds of goblin activity, they proceeded further down into the depths of the ancient keep.
The stairs opened into a large fungus garden, Torra could see where this was once a well thought out garden of medicinal fungi, the intervening years (or centuries) caused the garden to grow out of control. A large crack in the wall let the fresh air of this place into the sub-basement, but also allowed local vermin a way into the keep. Everything was covered with tiny spiders.
At the end of the fungus hall, a doorway opened into an obvious interrogation room. Although missing some of the more lethal instruments of persuasion, the presence of this room was jolting compared to the rest of the keep. Two other doors led out of the interrogation chamber. The first led to a narrow hall down which could be seen several barred doorways before it turned into darkness. The second door showed a room filled with a pinkish mist that seemed to pulse with its own light. Torra felt for the emanations of magic and determined that the mist possessed a powerful aura that in some way affected arcane power.
Proceeding down the dungeon hallway, the party passed several cells before and after the turn until reaching the last doorway on the left that opened into a storage chamber. Beyond this room was another doorway filled with dull gray mist. As Torra began to read the aura, a spider, large as a man, stepped out of the mist and attacked, followed by swarms of small spiders.
With little room to fight, the party backed away slowly past the corner so that everyone could help to eliminate the threat. There Diego, assisted by Torra’s spirit companion Shiva, walled the spiders in, allowing the rest of the party to attack at range and defeat the vermin.
In the storage room, they found some valuables, remnants of groups who did not fare as well against the spiders, and Myrphon spied even more in the gray mist. While no one was initially willing to enter the mist, finally Torra did so, assuming that the mist affected arcane powers and would have no effect on her. When she proved herself correct, Myrphon darted in and collected the valuable lying around the spider’s lair.
The party tried collecting some of the mist from each room, but even in a sealed jar, the mist dissipated once outside each chamber. Seeing no other stairs or chambers, they left the ancient keep.
Though they felt like they were being watched, no one struck against the auction house that night, and the rest of the night seemed dull and boring. Even the night itself felt less alive, less vital compared to what they had seen on the other side of the doorway. Scilla showed up about an hour before dawn, her golden eyes easily seen in the darkness as she approached. The five watchmen opened the doors so she could see with her own eyes the portal beyond.
Heading to the room they rented at Seven Trees, they looked through the bags of loot that the goblins had collected and the other valuables they had found. Of particular interest was the book they found on the desk in the secret chamber. It was titled “The Travels of Alaron Zadormere, Part I.” Each letter of Rellanic in the books seemed to be replaced with every other letter in the alphabet in a constantly changing pattern. Looking through the other books they found two rituals, Book Cipher and Transcribe Writings. Torra determined that the Book Cipher Ritual was making the book unreadable, while the Transcribe Writings ritual may have allowed Alaron to write the book while he traveled the world. From the ritual, Torra explained that to unlock the code, they would have to find the five unique runes that Alaron used to create the cipher.
During the next few nights, the party fulfilled their contract as night watchmen at the Green Feathers Auction House. Nothing happened for the rest of the tenday. During the day, they split up. Diego gathered the valuables and proceeded to the House of Finwarin a local mercantile house whose owner was infatuated with all things elven, while Torra and Brost did some detective work.
Torra and Brost began at the The Halls of Books, and met with the Head Librarian Cimrion. Cimrion had heard the name Alaron Zadormere, but wasn’t really sure where he had heard the name. His associate, and old man named Gilmedor who mumbled through the entire conversation, knew Alaron as a bard who lived in the City of Hawkmoon and passed away some time ago.
They then wen to Bardschool, and spoke to Triana a director of the school who remembered Alaron well, if not fondly. They got the impression that Alaron was an egotistical lout who felt he was better than others, especially humans. They learned that he had passed away not even a decade ago, but she knew no details beyond that.
Diego didn’t have as much luck as he thought, at the House of Finwarin, he wasn’t allowed to see Findegil, the elven enthusiast, but spoke to another functionary named Ortano, who appraised his items as worth approximately 80 gold hawks, and would be willing to part with 50 gold hawks for the collection. Diego chose not to accept the offer and left with his valuables.
After again gathering at Seven Trees, the party chose to go to Groveside and the Temple to the Seladrine to inquire about Alaron Zadormere. They were met by Jondelar Taemelson and given an audience with the ancient Jaemanthar. Alaron definitely didn’t make lots of friends. They were told that Alaron’s manservant, Ondath, still lived in Groveside and may know more of his master’s dealings.
Finding Ondath’s home, the party spoke to the cantankerous elf. Torra figured out that by praising Alaron, they had a better chance of getting through to Ondath. After a long conversation with many near disasters, Ondath finally chose to assist the party. In the corner of his living room, a statue that Alaron had carved of an imperious eladrin lord holding his left hand high and his right hand wrapped around a book rested on a small table. Ondath pulled the book out of the right arm and turning the book around, showed them one of the runes. He let them know that the rest of Alaron’s things were auctioned off by the Green Feathers Auction House, and agreed to meet them there in the morning.