The party left the castle and returned to Portalis early in the night, as a reward for returning several of the owls to Keeper Arvis they recieved two healing potions, and then rested for the night. In the morning, they went to the mayor's office and found Maxentius no where to be found, with head councilman Orin Brandis in the office instead. He explained that due to several mysterious murders and a bar fight at the Tavern last night, several of which lead back to the mayor, Maxentius has been temporarily suspended and should be found in his home. After some further questioning, they headed to the Mayor's house and were greeted by his son Lursk at the door. The (former) mayor seemed happy to have some time off, and not too concerned about getting his position back shortly.
He filled the party in a bit on what happened in Portalis while they were gone. The party decided next they would investigate the murder of the merchant and his servant, and so they headed to the graveyard before the bodies were buried. Finding a group of workers in the mausoleum in the city graveyard, Teodora and Istarya convinced them that they needed some time with the corpses, and Teodora proceeded to conduct an autopsy on both of the bodies. After some time, she discovered that the body of Samuel Tindell seemed mostly normal aside from the blackened knife wounds, but that the body of his servant Harlin had been dead far longer even though it exhibited the same knife wounds they did not seem to be as bad or darkened as much.
Heading back through the wilderness around Portalis, to the north-east, the party made their way back to the Castle Artegia. Passing the dragon statues and the entrance to the castle above, they made their way further along the cliff path and came to a large area that appeared to be a ravaged campsite with knocked over tents, dead bodies, and a weird wooden structure in the center. The bodies strewn about were those of humans and dwarves, many of which were bloated, rotting, and eviscerated gruesomely and emitting a foul stench.
As the party investigated the camp, they discovered goblins hiding in small holes beneath the collapsed tent and proceeded to fight a large pack of goblins along the cliffside. The cliff path descended down to a large cave opening beneath the Castle far above, inside a large series of halls looking as if they were built by giants appeared to be abandoned for ages with signs of recent ransacking. Through an old armory, the party came to a main hall decorated with a large mozaic dedicated to Bane along the far wall and large columns running the length of the hall.
Carric attempted to pry some gems out of the symbol of Bane on the wall and was shocked by a lightning trap. Discouraged, they moved down the hall to a joining room filled with hanging curtains that appeared to be an old temple. Inside the temple the party surprised a large cave troll with a group of goblins and a choker lurking along the walls. A tense fight ensued, ending with Teodora lighting the curtains on fire and tangling the troll in them and the goblins/choker eventually being dispatched. Activating the crystals on the mozaic to Bane, a doorway opened to a large chamber beyond filled with the dead bodies of goblins and trolls, at the very end stood an altar with a cloaked man standing in front of it and a glowing red sphere of stone sitting atop it, and off to the side an alcove with a coffin on a stone plinth. After a brief discussion, the cloaked figure erupted into a large mass of black shadow and tendrils, and attacked the party.
A shrieking insanity filled the party's minds, and the mass of shadow seemed to writhe and split into smaller, moving masses of tendrils when attacked. Through a combination of attacking the mass of shadows and the stone upon the altar, the party defeated the stranger. Istarya carefully picked up the stone and the party exited the Ruins beneath Castle Artegia.
690xp – Carric, Istarya, Lel, Teodora, and Rex
Loot: +1 Lifedrinker Axe, +2 Dwarven Chain Armor, 2 healing potions (from Arvis)
450gp as reward (from Maxentius)