004: Ruffled Feathers

Our adventurers spend the night split between the comfier rooms they have at the inn (paid for in advance by the King's Own as they wait for Gundren to arrive) and the back room of the butcher's. During Kemina's watch, a small group of townspeople advance on the lockup. Kemina wakes Khamul and the two confront the angry citizens. An argument ensues, but Kemina's sensibility and Khamul's intimidating presence soon sends the would-be lynch mob packing — but not before Kemina overhears them making plans to "just try again tomorrow night."

Back at the inn, Taelyn and Baat learn from Sylvia that Gundren had arrived at Nettleton earlier in the day. However, he had decided for some reason not to enter the village, and instead sent a messenger to let the party know to meet him on the road as he continued ahead. Baat was of a mind to fly off then and there to catch up with Gundren, but some caution from Taelyn and subtle collaboration from Sylvia convinced him to stay the night. Still concerned about this unexpected change of events, though, the party went into the village and hired a willing man to act as their messenger to Gundren; carrying the message that they would not be leaving immediately, due to responsibilities and circumstances that had come up as they'd waited in town for him, but would be delayed two days.

Morning dawns, and the party decides to return to the cottage and continue their investigation from the day before. Kemina, Khamul, and Tasi go ahead to the cottage while Baat takes a detour to the temple, and Taelyn stops by the general store. Baat is distraught by the state of Eli, and offers a prayer to Ortessa and Tanfana for help. Taelyn stocks up on light sources, drops off her pet Sable to help watch Grindol while they're out, Baat sells a surprising quantity of feathers, and the two then rejoin their waiting party members.

Reluctant but determined, the adventurers descend again beneath Nightwall Cottage. They quickly notice, however, that things are not the way they left them the night before… Items are missing, or tidied up. They continue cautiously, their friend Tasi growing more and more agitated and disconcerting the further they go, and along the way, Kemina discovers the seeming purpose and power of the elemental dice she's been carrying. 

The group comes across an obviously cultivated part of the cavern where the stone floor is covered with tiles, and braziers (which illuminate as the party approaches) sit in the walls before a large wooden door. Taelyn touches the door as she seeks traps, and the door opens automagically. They enter a simple room adorned with a bed, desk, and worktable. The shelves on the walls bear horrifying items of study, and the worktable is covered in tubes, vials, burners, dishes, mortar and pestle, etc. bearing chemicals and pieces of flesh for terrible tests. Tasi investigates the writings and books on the desk, and determines that whoever has been studying them is utterly mad.

The group crosses the room and sneaks a peek through an opposite, smaller door. The room opens to another large cavern, filled with even more worktables and a pile of gathered filth (some of it recognizable as having previously been scattered throughout the caves) in one corner. As they enter, they are surprised by a group of four skeletons standing and staring at them from beneath a tall stone statue of Bane. The skeletons do not attack, or even move as the rest of the party enters. Kemina casts detect magic to investigate the room, but can't find the tiny "shooting star" effect she had seen before. Unnerved, the group skirts around to an exit in the cavern that continues another direction. 

The tunnel in the cavern ends abruptly as the group discovers they've almost come full circle, standing over the sloshing, wave-like effects as the river they'd seen before comes to an end. Kemina's spell alerts her to the feeling of something related to abjuration nearby in the cavern, and the group decides to continue exploring forward. They climb down and walk around the edge of the river, and wind up back at the bankside where Khamul had first seen the cleric's body. They continue down the tunnel they'd never explored before, finding evidence of some long ago fight, and at the end, they discover an abandoned greathammer. Kemina realizes this is the magic she'd been sensing, and Tasi identifies it as a magic weapon. Baat goes to grab it, but snatches his hand back at the feeling of stone-cold metal. Khamul takes the greathammer, not minding the cold. 

The shaken, uncomfortable group takes a short rest beside the river bank, and Khamul gets familiar with the new magic weapon.



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