Outside Thornkeep. Lharvion 17-18, YK 1006.
With most of the party gone, Deyna and Grok pass a boring few days in the shop. On the night of the 16th, Deyna is awakened in the night and hears a thudding in the men’s dorm. Going to investigate, she just spots a dark figure leaping out the window. Rushing to the window, she catches a glimpse of red hair disappearing into an alley. Deciding the pursuit is unwise and unfeasible, Deyna returns to bed instead rummages through the men’s footlockers (not for the first time) and discovers that Thonnak’s journal is missing.
The next day, the others return with the stolen residium. Kalyassa and Thonnak return to the shop and hear the report of the mysterious visitor. They mention their own mysterious redhead met in the Thirsty Ogre, and while they decide the two are likely one and the same, they have no way to confirm it, nor are they any closer to understanding her motives.
Unwilling to leave the shop unguarded, the party decides to hire temporary security from the Blue Basilisks, promising 2gp/day on their return. That done, they reunite and set out for Echo Cleft. Once in the cleft, they are attacked by a Moon Spider, which drags Thonnak up into a tree. Kalyassa, Grok, and Iozef clamber up after it while Beren and Deyna shot or cast at it from the ground. Shooting from the unstable wagon, Deyna trips and shoots Beren in the side. Grok grapples the spider and pulls it from the tree. Once on the ground, Kalyassa dispatches the spider with Hakuur’s katana. Thonnak pauses to remove the spider’s poison gland, but is unsuccessful in his attempt to remove the web gland and gets a face full of webbing. This done, they investigate what appears to be a concealed doorway. Upon knocking they are greeted by a goblin who demands their business, but he is soon replaced with the face of an older, terribly scarred man, who opens the door.
Thonnak recognizes their host as Krenar, a former professor at Morgrave University. The two seem to have some tension between them, but the exact nature of it is unclear. Krenar sends his goblins (many of them appear to be subjects of strange mutagenic experiments) to unload the cart. The creatures not only unload the cart, but dismantle and carry off most of the cart itself. Meanwhile Krenar invites the party to sit for tea and discusses various topics, though he remains vague about his use for 300 pounds of residium, simply saying that it is for ‘projects…’ A few minutes into the conversation, the party blacks out.
They wake up four hours later with their faces covered and their hands bound. A few moments later they are unblinded and find themselves facing a wild-looking man who matches the description of Briar given to them at the start of their mission. Deyna – a longtime Aundairian – finds herself surprised and disappointed at the change wrought in the folk hero of the Reaches. Where the Briar of story was a talented bard and a man of charm and merriment, this Briar is distant and easily distracted, often seeming to lose the trail of his thoughts and lapsing into long, strange silences. The change evidently worries his comrade as well – the man from the bar. Eventually, the party are given to know that he has brought them here because he is pleased with their work so far and has decided to employ them on a potentially lucrative – albeit dangerous – mission. Briar is sending them to explore the recently discovered Enigma Vault of Nhur Athemon, a legendary wizard credited with discovering most of what is known about planar magic. In particular the party are asked to look for anything bearing a particular sigil. Anything else, Briar says, they may take as they wish, but they are not to touch anything with the sigil, returning only with a detailed description.
Seeing as their mission is to get close to Briar, the party accepts the job and are guided blindfolded to the excavated entry to the Enigma Vault. Descending the stairs, they find themselves in a hallway with a long shelf of books, which crumble upon being touched due to age and exposure to fresh air after so long in the dark. Pressing on they find a map of the planes that surround Eberron and then a stone bridge guarded by a ghostly demonic image. The image demands to know who they are sent by, and lets them pass upon hearing the name of Nhur Athemon, though he warns them to touch nothing ‘let ye be purged.’ This warning, the party cheerfully ignores.
They next come to a cave with a chasm in the middle. Crossing it,they are confronted with a pair of skeletal two-headed clawfoots. Grok manages to dispatch both, while Iozef falls into the shallow chasm and finds an Eberron dragonshard.
Following the path around, the party comes back to the circular pit crossed by the bridge. They are able to lower and rotate the bridge with a lever and press on. They come to a massive, cathedral-like space with columns marching down it and lit displays in alcoves along the side. Rushing to examine the mysteries, the party is ambushed by a group of rogues. The rogues seem not themselves, terribly scarred and dead-eyed. They fight mindlessly to the death. Once the room is clear, the party examines the items along the walls. Many of the discoveries are strange and interesting, but not useful, but several they decide to take with them, risking the guardian spirit’s wrath.
- A strange weapon labeled as being from Darguun in 1230, 200 years in the future
- A set of bloodstones which add magical properties to potions into which they are dissolved
- A strange, three-fingered spiked gauntlet, useless to the party-members, but interesting and potentially valuable
- An empty case is labeled as containing ‘alien fungoid equipment.’ The party infers that the rogues took this item and it caused their transformation.
At the end of the hall, they find a case containing a spear which Thonnak identifies as cursed, as well as what appears to be a bag of holding and a tan bag of tricks. However, when Beren searches the bag of holding, it bites down on his arm and attempts to swallow him. Only the timely intervention of his allies frees his arm. This crisis past, the party retreats to the cavern with the chasm to camp for the night.