Dawn rises and the party prepares for their journey to the archaeological site where London was killed. While shopping and preparing, the party notices that all of the Blackwell mercenaries are missing, having left before dawn. Liyal stays behind in town to keep London's mother company while she grieves for the loss of her sons.
The party heads out on horseback, picking their into the Forest of Ishtar. The party travels for the better part of a day until noticing the signs of battle. Smoke rises from behind a fortified earthen wall.
The party stops and moves in quietly, sending Dael in first. She sneaks in and investigates the grounds. The dig is covered in loose sand, blood and broken arrows. A total of 12 humanoid corpses lay charred to the bone on a pire. Dael keeps investigating but notices every weapon or item of value seems to be missing and cart tracks head south.
Dael finds a haggard human archer asleep against a barrel near the large tent. By his clothes you can assume he's a Blackhorn ranger. He appears to have been shot by a dragonpowder weapon. He is stable but unconscious.
From behind a corner, Dael catches a longsword to the shoulder and shouts for help. The Blackwell guard is wounded, but does not stop his attack against the ranger Dael. The rest of the party rush in to bring him down. Alistyr uses his magic to convince him that they are friends. The guard refuses to divulge personal information claiming that anonymity is part of the job, but tells them that they were attacked by Blackhorn Rangers.
"They took everything. They chased us into the digsite, but our tents couldn't protect us from their hail of arrows. They had us pinned down for over an hour before they broke down the gate. Baelen Blackwell and two other guards went down into the dig just a few hours ago."
He asks for his sword back, but Rilken refuses, instructing the guard to keep watch by the gate.
Shalazar glances over at the wounded Blackhorn and sees Illiaph whispering something to the now conscious ranger. The bandit convulses wildly and dies. Shalazar looks away uninterested and tells nobody.
The team move into the central canvas tent. A meter wide hole leads down into the solid rock of this hillock. A dreadful pounding sound is just barely audible from somewhere down there. Block and tackle lay nearby ready to lower someone down into the darkness...
The party cautiously take turns lowering each other down to a small stone ledge and again twice more. The party finally reach the bottom of the stone shaft. A small room marks the end of the shaft and aside from a two meter hole blasted in the west side, the only other marking is the splatter of dried gore in the corner. Shalazars knowlege of medicine alows him to identify the blood, hair and a leftover tooth as that of a halfling. Dael becomes visibly disturbed at the thought of this being the spot of London's death. The party share a silent moment and move on. The half burred sandstone structure has been meticulously picked over by workers. The air down here is heavy and wet. The sound of trickling water comes from somewhere ahead as does the pounding.
The party navigates a series of tunnels, finding some of them blocked by cave ins and some with leftover supplies, probably used by the workers. The party sticks close together, when they notice an 80 foot long stone bridge spanning a crevice. The crevice looks like it was carved by water trickling down the sandstone walls. Unfortunately the water has caused a thick build-up of slippery black slime. The party moves on to other tunnels to try to find another way around.
Picking her way through the tunnels, Dael trips a wire and sparks fly from a dragonpowder cask hidden in a crevice near her head.
The cask's deafening explosion echoes through the ruin, loosening debris and nearly killing Dael. Rilken rushes to her side and manages to stave off her death with the blessing of Mortus. She survives, but they don't have any method of curing her severe injuries.
The party decide to tie some ropes together and send the fattest person across the bridge. Alistyr the dwarf volunteers as fattest and crawls across the mucky bridge with a rope around his waist. Suddenly he stops, leaving the shadowy illumination of Rilken's torch, he notices a Blackwell guard with his dark-vision. Illiaph takes a shot with his eldrich blasts but it has no obvious effect. The armoured figure simply sways side to side. Alistyr continues to crawl forward the armour suddenly quivers and begins floating backwards towards the party. Alistyr sees, almost too late, that the armoured figure is trapped in a transparent jelly like cube. Alistyr scurries through the muck, almost losing his footing as the cube easily glides across, gathering all of the black muck into itself forming a central black orb. A few blasts and arrows manage to take it out at a distance and as it perishes, it releases a torent of foul slime onto the boots and shins of the heroes.
With the bridge clear, the party moves forward towards the pounding sound.
A massive cave in has closed off the passage ahead all but a narrow gap, just large enough to crawl through. Once again Alistyr volunteers to go first and begins to crawl through the gap. He spots a lavish ceremonial chamber, with heaps of jewelry and a marble alter. What he finds disturbing is the mound of full plate and pulverized meat. Behind which stands a 3 foot humanoid silhouette with a similarly flickering mace. The humanoid repeatedly beats the mound before noticing Alistyr and running back into the dark. Alisyr shouts and attempts to back up but Rilken is blocking the way. An opaque black hand reaches from the cracks beneath the rubble and into Alistyr, sucking the very life from his marrow. The party flees as Rilken identifies the shadow halfling and detects undead in all directions. Fleeing to the bridge they hear human voices and men approaching the bridge from the other side. They dodge down a corridor and Illiaph throws an illusion up to block the entrance.
Terron Blackwell is identified by the men shouting to him and orders the area searched. The party try to stay quiet but Rilken is suprised by the shadow as it emerges from a pile or rubble. The mace in its hand comes down on the party, dealing some damage and draining their strength. The shadow is dispatched, releasing a chilling whisper in an all too familiar voice. The mace drops to the floor.
Rilken picks it up as Terron Blackwell shouts to his followers.
"You have two minutes to find who did this before we blow the bridge and bury whatever is down here!"
Rilken suggests they approach Terron Blackwell before they're buried alive. The party agrees and Rilken moves through the illusion into a hail of gunfire. Blackwell soldiers threaten him and call over Terron.
Terron Blackwell, dragging a tarp with the remains of his brother Baelen. He looks at the corpse and eyes up Rilken's new mace.
"That's it. Give that to me, crow. It's what we came here for and it and despite your savage murder of my brother, you just might have my thanks..."
Rilken hands over the mace.
"You have my thanks. Bury them."
Rilken and the party, wounded and exhausted don't try to fight their way out, and their protests are dismissed.
"Don't worry, we'll say hello to London's mother for you. We'll say goodbye as well."
Terron sets a dragon powder cask on the bridge but Illiaph explodes it with his eldrich blast before Terron gets far enough away to be unscathed. The bridge is more than scathed however and collapses into the abyss. Additional explosions are soon heard further in the dungeon. The party has been buried 400 feet underground.
They warily move into the ritual room. The 7 pillars in the room each have inscriptions followed by an unmarked lever. They find several bits of jewellery and a mysterious fiendish skull covered in gold leaf and set with black opals. Shalazar takes the skull and notices 7 small buttons on the alter. Illiaph, realizing that the passages are in ancient Vasharan manages to solve the riddles and hit the buttons in the right order.
The marble alter moves to the side, revealing a passageway bellow. Following the passage, the party finds themselves about four miles north of the ruin in the Forest of Ishtar. The party tries to camp, not lighting a fire as to not attract attention from bandits. Hours later, Dael finishes her trance and notices a faint red on the horizon in the direction of Crimbury...