Garmeth and Lucan rejoin the party in the ruins, but Tam’elanath stays in Lakeside to continue his work as a bowyer. They proceed further, fighting more gnolls until, in the final room, they meet with a carrion crawler, an aberrant creature not unlike a giant poisonous millipede. Atop a dried-up fountain they find the Golden Claw, and return it to Vulyar, where Artauche’s agent pays them and tells them his employer has more work for the party, to be given by him directly at his estate in Vedykar.
No lightning rail runs between Vulyar and Vedykar, but they hold sister guilds of mages, so the party uses a linked portal to travel between them. After spending the night in a particularly disreputable inn, they go to Mr. Artauche’s estate. Artauche asks them to go to the Thunderspire Labyrinth, located in the Ashen Spires mountain cluster, which is an independently run settlement controlled by a small group of mages. He wants an artifact found in the labyrinth. The party hits a slight roadblock when he asks for a company name, but eventually they settle on “the Eclipse Collective”.
Notes: Garmeth and Stahlstrauss spend some time at the bottom of the well with the carrion crawler, trying to decide if they should press further into the crawler den (they decide not to). The inn, called the Horse and Ass, is where Garmeth has his much-repeated “bar of soap” conversation. The discussion on what the company name should be takes a very long time.
Mol, Barrakas 9, 998 YK (Day 23).
During the interval in which they rest before proceeding to the next part of the ruin, the party is rejoined by Garmeth and Lucan. Garmeth’s inability to accompany the group in the first place is explained by him as “severe illness, due to eating nothing but rats and insects for so long in Winterhaven.” The group decides not to press the matter. Meanwhile, Lucan’s return is apparently incidental, and his acquisition of information on the party’s whereabouts and current business is mysterious, but is possibly best explained by his connection to House Medani. Tam’elanath, however, remains in Lakeside; he contemplates as he has before if the life of an adventurer is really meant for him.
After the brief reunion concludes, the six open the double doors and proceed into the next chamber, which is mostly empty save for a deep well in the center and a side room splitting off at the side. Here, they are met with another group of gnolls, including one particularly savage-looking one outfitted in human remains and wielding a large flail. They are attacked immediately upon entry, and are forced to defend themselves.
The battle proceeds more or less as expected, until one of the gnolls is pushed into the well by Lythanis’ telekinetic abilities. At this point, the party hears some loud crunching and muffled screaming; they pass this off as an ideal success in killing the gnoll.
Some time later, however, a different creature arises from out of the well. They are able to identify it (with some difficulty) as a “carrion crawler,” a bizarre millipede-like creature that survives off of animal remains. Awakened by the gnoll pushed into its domain of the well, it rises to the surface of the room and joins the fray.
The toxin it emits is, initially, a little daunting for the group, and its paralytic effects prove surprising and somewhat difficult to contend with. Eventually, however, once Stahlstrauss and Eshunu have cleared the rest of the chamber of gnolls, the party is able to kill the creature. The room now safe, the party investigates. In the adjacent side room, they find the Golden Claw atop an old, long-dried fountain, which is handled by Lythanis.
Meanwhile, Stahlstrauss and Garmeth decide to descend into the well from which the carrion crawler emerged, and using lengths of rope supported by Lucan and Eshunu (and to some tiny degree, Lythanis), move to the bottom of the well. Here, they find nothing but darkness and a tunnel that descends further into the earth. It ends in a blocked off passageway, which they decide to break open.
They see only a larger passageway within, but hear strange sounds. The ensuing dialogue at this point is as follows:
Stalhstrauss: “Should we keep going?”
Garmeth: “I don’t know. I’d give it 50/50.”
Stahlstrauss: “I hear… millions of tiny claws.”
Garmeth: “Our odds aren’t good here. I don’t even think I could heal you if something happened.”
Lengthy pause. The silence is filled by distant skittering.
Stalhstrauss: “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Garmeth: “Yes. Let’s.”
They attempt with some difficulty to escape the well, and the party emerges from the chamber just as more carrion crawlers burst from the well. They shut the door behind them and run from the ruins, leaving them behind.
They return to Vulyar, where after additional confusion as to where to meet the agent, they finally return to him at the Singing Serpent and give him the claw, receiving their reward. The agent also tells them that Mr. Artauche has more work for them, and would like to meet them at his home in Vedykar, if they are so inclined. The party agrees, and works on how to get to Vedykar from Vulyar, as there is no lightning rail line between the locations. They eventually locate a small guild of mages in Vulyar which has a sister guild in Vedykar, and for a small fee the knowledgeable dwarf custodian allows them to use their linked teleportation circle.
One disorienting teleportation later, they arrive in Vedykar, and stay the night at the “Horse and Ass” inn, a shabby establishment in which many questionable drinks are had and Garmeth is given a bar of soap. Garmeth and Lythanis have a heated argument about eating rats (as Garmeth did in Winterhaven); Garmeth calls Lythanis uncivilized, who takes great offense at the accusation. Lythanis and Zil’dejin play a card game. Everybody finally goes to rest.
Zol, Barrakas 10, 998 YK (Day 24).
The party tours various shops around the city, including Davran’s Magical Items owned by a snarky halfling, and Dorragan Coalstriker’s smithy, where Stahlstrauss learns a bit more about the Coalstriker family and their distribution throughout Karrnath. They also visit a guild of mercenaries, the Bladed Arms, where they are summarily kicked out.
Finally, the six goes to meet Mr. Artauche in his manor on Wealth Street. They are admitted on official business, and meet Mr. Artauche himself, who introduces himself as ‘Remelius Artauche.’ He is a tall, slender man with a serious face, clean-cut appearance and extravagant clothes. In his office, which is littered with various devices, he explains he has a contract to adventurers willing to go to the Thunderspire, the tallest of the Ashen Spires to the north where a small group of mages has control over a former minotaur labyrinth. He is looking for an artifact from there, and believes the party has proved themselves capable of retrieving it.
The party considers it, and finally agrees. He has them sign a series of contracts binding them to his business; one for each party member, and one that collectively represents the party. He asks them to sign the name of their adventuring company; the party needs to take a moment to consider what this is.
It takes much longer than expected.