Standing upon the green fields surrounding the ruined city that spanned a giant river, the halfling pondered for a long moment as to where the group actually ended up. It was the massive tall bridges that stretched across the river that finally unlocked the knowledge: the group was at the fabled fallen city of Zhentil Keep. Destroyed almost a century ago by the Shadovar for conspiring with phaerimm, the city was now mostly empty save for a few roving abominations and some sort of group inhabiting the portion of the city on the south side of the river with schooners and a few small frigates.
Using a fishing boat they found on the north side, the group made their way across the river to investigate the activity on the south side. Much to their surprise, they found a band of pirates calling themselves the Black Moon Brotherhood had taken up residence. They had turned the ruined city into a sort of pirate haven to sell and trade goods captures on the Moonsea. Not wanting to get entangled with pirates, the group decided against entering the haven and stayed at the edge of the river to discuss their next course of action. After a long discussion, they decided to use the bone portal key to travel back to Krast’amar to finally finish the original quest that had started their adventure.
Using the river as their source of water, the group stepped through the portal and found themselves once again in the familiar portal room and the bodies of the dead captives they could not save from the shade orcs. Jord noticed that there was one key difference about the scene, there was a set of overly large bloody footprints that navigated the carnage to the exit. Curious as to who or what it was that arrived, the group followed the tracks to the torture room at the end of the hall. They then led up to a wall and just stopped. Convinced that there was something more to the wall, Ruby made a closer inspection of the rough nature stone wall and found a catch that opened a secret door.
Beyond the door was a hallway unlike the series of rooms and hall behind them. This passage was or a finely worked stone blocks. Along the center at about chest height for an elf was a band of black and gold roughly a foot in width. At the center of the band was an old Elvish script. Upon closer inspection, Kalenthor began reading and much to his surprise, determined that the script was the Lisastril, an epic writing that retold the story of the Crown Wars.
Stretching down the full length of the hallway, the story told of the five civil wars between the drow and the high elves and how the drow were eventually driven underground more than 13,000 years ago. The story came to an end at a large set of double silver doors with gold embossed image of two elves locked in combat. Curious as to where the door led to, the group cautiously opened the door.
Beyond the door they found a massive cavern roughly a mile long that held a city with a dome roof that was fully painted with a mosaic of the Crown Wars. At the center of the dome was a crack that led out into the night sky of the Stonelands. The group then realized that the large rock they saw earlier from the tower was actually a dome cover for the city they were now standing in. From their end of the city, they found the most ruined portion with most of the building collapsed and unusable. Beyond, however, they could see and hear activity that announced the presence of someone living in the city.
THe group began their investigation, using the ruins to hide their presence. They decided to head towards a pulsing red glow to their left and found an open forge where four shade orcs were crafting weapons and armor. Assisting them were several slaves in chains. Not wanting to alert the orcs to their presence, the group left them alone and continued their investigation, finding several other workstations such as leatherworks, food, and some form of engineering, all of them worked by shade orcs with slave assistance. At the far right side of the ruins the group found the slave quarters that were mostly with the exception of a few slaves that appeared to be sick.
The realization that they handed stumbled onto a large problem, the group began to piece together that this city was housing something akin to an invasion army and the nearest target was Cormyr. Their fears were then realized as they pressed forward towards the center of the ruins beneath the large crack in the dome. This area was void of any buildings, apparently having been completely by whatever caused the crack. The open field now held a training field spanning the entire width of the city. At each end of the field was a massive column thirty feet high and roughly twenty feet around. Massive six foot long chain links hung from the top and ended at manacle that could encompass more than five men. Upon the field itself where shade orcs practiced formations and swordplay under the watchful eye of drow instructors.
The quest to find Talthar Everstone had uncovered something much larger than the group anticipated, but also left them with even more questions. Why was Talthar captured to begin with and why was he singled out? Why were the drow helping orcs and using magical items developed by the Shadovar? Why did they have shackles that were large enough to hold a dragon? Not having answers to these questions and with their bone portal key in need of recharging and thus no means of a quick escape, the group pulled back to ponder their next move.