With the un-petrified people in tow, the party made the long trek back up the secret tunnel… only to find tracks in the tunnel of, presumably, serpentfolk since the tracks stretched from the tunnel leading into the Darklands all the way to the Spire. Sure enough, the party arrived to find two lone crates and a note attached to one of them. Though no one spoke Aklo, Gen’reiel the explorer tried his hand at translating it. Apparently a group of wayward clerics of Ydersius had found their way to the spire and were intent on restoring the shrine, with the crates being basic supplies for that task. Not wanting the serpentfolk to inhabit the level again and cause trouble, the party returned to the tunnel leading to the Darklands to seal it. Remnus came upon a stroke of genius and sought out a small curve in the passage which he stone-shapped to trail slightly off of the regular path, making sure that if someone tries to stoneshape their way through the tunnel, they would simply be burrowing into solid rock and not the actual tunnel. Denizens of the Darklands will have quite the difficult time just walking into the Spire now.
Deciding they want to keep the secret passage on level 3 a secret, the party teleported the wayward adventurers to level 1… where they found some rotting rabbit carcasses lying on the old table. Suspicious, the party sent the undead to explore the ruins again. Zombtaur barely had to open one door before it found a pack of 4 goblins resting in the barracks. Two mighty swings of its hammer felled two goblins in an instant and the rest fled as fast as they could out the back entrance. It may be a while before goblins try to reclaim these ruins again.
Though traveling through the spire glen was risky, the party managed to pass through without incident with the judicious application of Detect Magic and they soon found themselves at the familiar gates of Fort Inevitable. The gate captain, Kiera Wirt, while quite used to the party bringing back all manner of weirdness from the spire, was finally shocked enough by the party’s load to halt them. The undead dragons were… odd, the other adventurers needed to be registered, but it was the half dozen bodies of hellknights that had her question them the most. When they explained they were the corpses of the hellknights from the failed expedition, Kiera was more than a little shocked. She quickly ran off to inform the Lady Commander and the party was able to collect payment from Abernard before the hellknights requested their presence at an emergency meeting.
The recovery of Chaid DiViri’s corpse was apparently a bit more important than the party realized. The hellknights wanted to be sure of her identity and the party was asked what happened and how the found the hellknights. The party was forthright, as always, and the presence of Aoz (Chaid’s creepy, creepy familiar) was all but confirmation. Dandru was especially insistent that they contact the Lictor of the order of the Nail at once but the Lady Commander tugged on his metaphorical leash, as usual and ordered that they get full confirmation before contacting him and Oritian Hast was sent to use his magic to confirm it, though the Lady Commander’s castellan was a bit annoyed at having to depend on Oritain.
Full of questions, the party inquired more on these people and orders. It was explained that Chaid DiViri was the granddaughter of Lictor Severs DiViri: leader of one of the seven major hellknight orders, the Order of the Nail. This was significant since, of the 65 hellknights stationed here at the fort, a full 20 of them are directly from the Order of the Nail, which means they report directly to the lictor who’s grandaughter the party just found. It was almost pointed out that 40 of the hellknights in the fort are from the Order of the Pike, an order that had been disbanded in ages past but had only just recently (35 years ago) regained official status as a minor order, meaning it’s likely the order would have to defer to the judgement of the lictor should he have commands. In fact, the only hellknights NOT directly beholden to Severs Diviri are Oritian and his four signifers of the Order of the Gate.
This was not a figure to be taken lightly.
With the ability to cast Detect Thoughts, Oritian Hast was able to read Aoz’s thoughts and was able to confirm that it was, indeed Chaid’s body and a Sending spell was issued to the Lictor almost immediately. The party inquired with the Lady Commander and she said that a visit from the Lictor is very, very likely. Though he’ll probably take a bit over a month to reach town, he’ll likely come and resurrect his missing granddaughter. A visit from the Lictor is no joke and the fort will likely be EVEN MORE strict than usual as things are tidied up for the visit. Not letting any of this deter him though, Chaaz asked of the Lady Commander might consider training him. She answered by grabbing him and flipping him to the ground, though Chaaz made a truly impressive counter maneuver to drag her down with him. Amused, the agreed to train him with the warning that he would regret it.
The next day was finally a day the party could rest… or they would have rested if they didn’t immediately get to work on magic item creation. Chaaz couldn’t help, however, as he was up at dawn lifting extremely heavy objects and carrying them around the fort along side the Lady Commander, allowed only a lunch break to catch his breath. The party assumed naturally that he would be deterred from continuing training but Chaaz was more resilient than was probably wise. In any case, come evening Remnus and the party met with Jherao and informed him that they could use Plane Shift to send him home. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Jherao heaped praise on Remnus’ magnanimity and offered him a final chance at a reward. He would return to his father Ragathiel and advocate for a present of any item within reason. And we left the party pondering just how much they want to risk stretching divine generosity.
The next month will certainly be interesting.