Before heading back to the Rusty Dragon for dinner, Zendo asks Corvus to buy him some gear for their next expedition tomorrow at the Sandpoint General Store. Ven Vinder does not seem happy to see the young wizard, but begrudgingly sells him the needed wares, though Corvus is sure that he is being overcharged. Since he is spending Zendo’s money, however, he isn’t too concerned.
The men also call upon Aliver Podiker at the Pillbug’s Pantry, purchasing a healer’s kit from him for Gellius to use. Podiker seems amiable enough, though a little suspicious and apprehensive.
The next day, the men go to the Cathedral and meet with Father Abstalar Zantus to return to the catacombs and put the undead there to rest. Father Zantus is accompanied by [name needed], the stout, serious priest of Abadar in Sandpoint, and [name needed], the impassioned priestess of Sarenrae. All three of the clerics are cautiously equipped, and seem grimly determined. The men then call uponBrodert Quink, who seems much more eager to accompany them, though he insists on bringing along several boxes of equipment, including a theodolite that he is quite overprotective about.
The men tramp into the tunnels, greeting the guards at the Glassworks basement with familiarity.
Once inside the catacombs, Quink is quite animated. He fusses at Corvus for misidentifying the lovely, but enraged female statue as a deity. Given her appearance and ranseur, the sage identifies her as Runelord Alaznist, one of the rulers of ancient Thassilon. Quink, warming up to the opportunity, explains that Thassilon was founded by wizards from Aztlant, and organized on the principle of seven virtues, symbolized by the seven-pointed star, or sihedron, found on the book of the statue. Accordingly, the seven domains of Thassilon were also ruled over by seven Runelords, who were believed to epitomize one of each of these seven virtues, and who ruled their domains accordingly. Thus, the statue is not one of a worshipped deity, but instead, a statue that paid homage to the ruler of the Thassilonian realm of Bakrakhan.
Quink now believes that the elaborate ranseur wielded by Ragnar is, as the heroes claimed, an ancient relic, easily thousands of years old. A hurried bartering session ensues, with Quink quickly backing down from his ‘priceless’ estimate and agreeing to exchange his well-used wand of Cure Light Wounds, a useful tool in his archeological delvings, to the group in exchange for the relic. Zendo insists that Quink must acknowledge, in his writings, that the men were the discoverers of the catacombs, though Quink points out that technically, either the goblins or the smugglers were actually the ones who uncovered the structure. He does agree to give credit to the group for being the explorers responsible for bringing this ancient structure to the knowledge of modern Varisian scholarship.
Brodert Quink is excited to have such a pristine site to examine, but the rest of the exploration does not go as smoothly. The next room is the old prison cells, and the sage is disgusted by the mutated remains of the goblin ‘hero’Koruvus, while the three priests mutter darkly about the mouldering bones of prisoners left here ages ago. The torture chambers beyond lend further credence to their dim view of the catacombs, and even Brodert cannot muster a defense when the heroes mention the mutated skeletons locked in cells beyond.
Once in the room of pits, the priests quickly lay to rest the unquiet dead as a shaken Brodert Quink muses on how long these zombies may have stood groaning in darkness in the earth, possibly even since the fall of Thassilon thousands of years ago. Father Zantus and the other priests have already formed a dire opinion of the catacombs, but the heroes insist that they should see the entire area.
The men take the priests and the sage past the crumbling, collapsed stairwell that seems to go deeper into the earth, with Brodert and Corvus agreeing that this should be explored further, while most of the others feel that it is already best kept sealed. The clergy are confused by the strange spherical room, which, while obviously magical, does not appear to be intrinsically evil, while Quink, though nauseated by the floating, rotting bird corpse, is amazed and bedeviled by the crackling black lighting which seems to form Thassilonian runes too quickly to be read.
The group backtracks to the fountain where they encountered the vargouille, and beyond, to the stairs which would seem to spiral upwards, were they not blocked by rubble. Zendo, not distracted by hideous monsters this time, seems to think that the stairs would, if clear, lead upwards to a small alley near the Old Light. Quink theorizes that the pool would be used for ritual ablution, washing away the dust (and possibly the concerns) of the world above before entering the catacombs.
Finally, the heroes lead Father Zantus and the other clergy to the temple. The small altar outside the ‘temple’ is regarded with much loathing, as the priestess of Sarenrae identifies the water within as the ‘Waters of Lamashtu’, a vile flavor of unholy water which, in addition to the normal malevolent effects, will drive the drinker insane and twist his flesh into monstrosities. The gathered priests seem united that this horrible fane must be sealed off forevermore, and even Corvus seems to equivocate on his earlier ideas about making the tunnels a local tourist attraction.
Entering the temple proper, Quink is overcome with the amount of runic script on the walls, which will take many days to transcribe properly. He does point out that the temple itself, while unmistakably grim and forbidding, does not have any icons or signs of Lamashtu worship, so the object of veneration remains unclear. Despite the heroes recounting their experiences with the narrow, triangular well and its bubbling, glowing fluid, neither the sage, nor the clerics, can offer any suggestions as to the ultimate provenance of the strange, seemingly inert basin.
The men escort the priests and the sage back to the Glassworks with their thanks. They return to the tunnels underneath Sandpoint to explore the other branches of the twisting passages. The eastern branch runs some distance before ending in a tunnel collapse, evidently quite old. There is no signs of passage here, though, based on their maps, this tunnel would seem to head towards the Turandurok River.
Following the northeast passage is more fruitful. This tunnel runs a considerable distance, but seems to terminate in a dead end. Hikage’s keen eyes spot a concealed door, and, upon opening it, the men find themselves in a large cave littered with the camping supplies of a number of goblins. The cave opens onto the narrow beach at the base of the cliffs of Sandpoint’s north shore. Corvus believes this must have been where the smugglers originally dug a tunnel years ago, as it would be easy to approach the town unseen from the north and carry supplies from a boat into this cave. It cements his theory that the smugglers unknowingly broke into the older Thassilonian tunnels and bricked them off after encountering something horrifying beyond. Zendo makes quick use of his newly purchased pitons and uses two to wedge the trap door shut from the tunnel side, preventing easy use by other goblins.
The men make their reports to the mayor, and suggest that the smuggler’s tunnels need to be blocked off at the goblin cave first, and possibly blocked off again at the other tunnel entrances, though they do agree that, properly supervised, Quink’s research should be allowed, as further clues may still reside inside.
Planning on going to Thistletop as soon as the sheriff returns, the men march off to the general store to equip themselves, but find that Ven Vinder is having none of it. Despite Hikage’s indignance, Gellius’s pleading, and Ragnar’s bluster, Ven refuses to sell them anything, perhaps irked by Corvus’s poorly concealed snooping around for Shayliss Vinder. Frustrated by their failure to secure bedrolls and tents, the men retire to the Rusty Dragon for lunch, and purchase some blankets from Ameiko Kaijitsu, who seems more than a bit confused by their insistence on buying them, until Zendo explains their plans.
Later in the day, after re-equipping themselves at Savah’s armory, the heroes see Sheriff Belor Hemlock riding into town with a detachment of soldiers from Magnimar. After he takes the troops to the Garrison, Belor speaks with the group. They fill him in on their discoveries beneath the Glassworks, and he thanks them deeply for their courage and commitment. When they share their determination to pursue the matter to Thistletop, he gives them some unwelcome news. First, he cannot send the soldiers to Thistletop. Sandpoint is a protectorate of Magnimar, but the men seconded to him are there solely to be used in the defense of the town in case of an attack, and will not obey orders to march out into the wilds. Given the history of Magnimar itself as a former Chelaxian outpost, this is not surprising. Second, he has been given word that just the previous night, merchants traveling down the Old Coast Road were ambushed by goblins near Thistletop, and barely escaped with their lives. Finally, he reminds the men that Thistletop is the notorious lair of the Thistletop tribe, and Chief Ripnugget has elevated the standing of his tribe through the impressive retreat that they command. Acting against the Thistletop goblins is not to be undertaken lightly. Zendo has a clever plan to pose as merchants and lure out another raiding party, however.