Leeroy fetches the rest of the party and they head toward the keep to join Sar’n and Riley. The others are unsurprised to find a considerable amount of damage to the location, Davros complains loudly about the ancient stone gates which are now a pile of stone. Climbing over the rubble, with varying degrees of grace, they find the courtyard full of the charred remains of large kobolds, scrawny orcs and some goblins. They did however manage to take one kobold alive.
They attempt to convince him to begin diplomatic talks, despite the Kobold’s trepidations. He manages to convince the guards to let them in to meet with the boss. Clarinette is rather cutesy today and confuses many a guard. The guard warns them to show respect to their leader who led them to freedom from slavery. Which leads to Clarinette bowing to a guard in the corner, embarassing the guard thoroughly until Riley drags her back to the group. Before the leader can even speak, Shiele teleports with Clarinette who noticed a shadowy figure slipping out the side door (several people did, but only a few of them were tactless enough to do anything). This immediately causes a scuffle, only Vilma manages to ram a guard before the encampment leader slams his weapon into the ground, shocking everyone into stillness once more.
With their more impulsive members behaving for the moment, they begin talks with the leader, informing of their search for a portal in this area. Some party members have difficulty ignoring the shadowy figure that slipped out the side door. The leader opens the door to show them an empty room and after a brief inspection, some party members resume talking with the leader. When they finally get to introductions, the leader introduces himself as Maelor. Shiele continues examining a strange contraption in the other room (an elevator), Clarinette joins her after she finishes flirting with Maelor. Sar’n manages to use a potion of detect thoughts and hears only a buzz from Maelor, seemingly confirming their suspicions that his constant pauses in speech are because he is being controlled.
Riley tries to keep Maelor on track, talking about finding the portal, while Sar’n is bent on tricking him into saying something. Shiele is now searching for a power source for the device in the other room. The conversation follows several different tracks simultaneously as the party attempts to confuse Maelor, which is less than successful. Eventually Sar’n calls out Maelor’s controller to Maelor’s face. The locals react only with confusion and eventually the conversation turns back to the portal they are searching for. Maelor admits that there is a complex in the corner of the city with some towers that has defied all their attempts to enter and killed anyone who did so. The shaman becomes upset and storms off, the party comes to an understanding with Maelor that after resting for the evening, they will attempt to gain entry to this portion of the city. At one point, Shiele teleports away with Davros to study some of the tomes they found out in the city.
The party is led to a small hall with several tables, benches and barrels, as well as a shelving unit, perhaps a store room, to rest for the night. Shiele and Davros later return, but Shiele of course wants to snoop around. They are nearly caught when Davros opens at door at Shiele’s behest. Luckily, Sar’n manages a distraction and casts invisibility on the pair. Davros sneaks into the room with the party, while Shiele continues snooping. Clarinette uses magic to disguise herself and heads out to join Shiele, bluffing her way past the guard. The pair snoop around together, finding a kitchen near a training hall and then head upstairs. Meanwhile, Sar’n spends several minutes casting Geas on one of the guards, causing him to immediately collapse.
Upstairs, Clarinette and Shiele run into some Goblins who speak in undercommon to the visible, but disguised, Clarinette. She responds in draconic and brusquely moves on as they try to explore the upper level before the invisibility wears off. Sar’n replaces the guard with an illusion and sends Davros into the pocket dimension to keep an eye on the guard until he awakens, which is almost immediately and looking to serve his new master. Sar’n even convinces Riley to knock out the other guard, who proves very susceptible to a Stunning Blow and is also replaced by an and illusion from Sar’n. RIley and the second guard join Davros and the first guard in Sar’n pocket dimension, where Davros heals the guard so he doesn’t die from subdual damage. Upstairs, Shiele and Clarinette find a nursery, which Shiele cannot handle the smell of.
Sar’n then disguises himself and joins Shiele and Clarinette in exploring, ultimately finding the shaman performing an augury with the entrails of a freshly slain goblin. The invisible Shiele vomits and gives them away, resulting in their sudden disappearance to the pocket dimension. Sar’n also fetches Vilma and Leeroy, now that their game may be up. He begins interrogating the captured guards and they decide to take action once more, primarily in taking out the shaman. After some rest and a few buff spells, they teleport back into the shrine to attack. The shaman is the first to fall as Shiele teleports in and destroys him with two strikes. Three more are eliminated by a spell from Sar’n and a blast of song from Clarinette removes the last two. Riley zips off down the corridors and scouts ahead for more enemies. Undetected, he returns to the party and they head in the opposite direction, finding a path into a lower level.
The lower level of the keep is recently carved out of Earth and rock, they soon find the locals finishing other similar rooms toward a more complete state, scrubbing, scraping and sweeping. They even find Maelor scrubbing floors, completely unresponsive to stimuli like the others. After some wandering and traps, they come across a room full of locals and an Illithid, who is foolishly confident, controlling them all. He turns out to be an illusion, but the party quickly dispatches most of the enemies. Shiele retreats to the next room after taking a hit from the enemy. The doors seal shut behind her and Maelor, or the creature that resembles him, turns out to be an illithid in disguise. Riley uses his ring on the door that has locked itself in an effort to get to Shiele’s aid, the door holds but the frame is badly damaged. Shiele really gets her bell rung as she was sitting with her back to the door and quickly crawls away to hide nearby. After the party dispatches the enemies, they catch up with Shiele.
In the next room, they find some bookshelves filled with strange books, which are promptly looted. Shiele heads into the next room and finds a tomb, which matches the architecture of the upper floors. The inscriptions seem to resemble the language they’ve seen elsewhere, which Vilma finds quite intriguing. Shiele is unwilling to loot this room as it seems important to Vilma. They turn back and head for the other door out of the last room. Riley, unable to find a trap, tries the handle. While he isn’t electrocuted, he does end up with his fur standing on end. Shiele checks again and opens the door. Inside, there is what appears to be a massive brain, surrounded by Illithids and the locals from upstairs.
Shiele instantly flees via teleportation, while Sar’n throws a wand into the room and detonates it with disintegrate. The wand explodes violently, as party members attempt to dive to the side in an attempt to shelter from the blast. The only one that really gets hurt is Vilma, who trips and lands on Davros who was knocked unconscious by the sheer mental power of the Illithid hive mind. The room is a smokey, charred ruin with nothing remaining, except for a single, wounded Illithid who escapes, warning that “This isn’t over!” Vilma is actually glowing now and even looks a little taller now, but only a few people notice this until Clarinette points it out. Vilma seems to have been imbued by the arcane blast of the exploding wand, although all she’ll say is that she’s not feeling well. The party decides to head out, looking for Shiele.
Shiele, who teleported towards the stairs leading back upstairs, collapsing in an emotional wreck, believing that all her friends are dead. A stranger, who was apparently being held hostage, tries to run past her. The panicked Shiele jumps up and they collide, ending up accidentally stabbing her in the thigh. The stranger, Lillith, turns ethereal and attempts to run away, despite her injury and Shiele’s panicked apology. Lillith only stops running away when Shiele offers a healing potion, she takes it, but is still unhappy about being stabbed.
When she hears Sar’n broadcast over the neural link, she gets excited and teleports back to the party, very happy to see them all still alive. Lillith panics and runs, but Sar’n manages to contact her mentally and convince her not to flee. Riley provides her with his spare monk robe as she is currently only wearing a dressing gown. After a brief chat, Sar’n teleports the party plus 1, up to the second floor in search of Lillith’s gear, which she can apparently sense. They find her equipment in a room littered with random detritus; gear, clothing, broken boxes, and many odds and ends.