Mel and Alva are in the office deliberating on whether they should continue to search it, or if they should make their escape and link up with the rest of the party. Before leaving however Melanth attempts to open a locked safe, disabling the lock. Wise to Rindlecup’s traps, the dragon has his enthralled ghost open the safe, and is immediately grateful when caustic dust showers the hapless undead. The dragon has the ghost retrieve a wrapped item from within it; revealing some valuable gems and a blob of what appeals magical mercury.
250k worth of gems
Magical substance (Venom)
They proceed down the stairs to what appears to be a planetarium, into which the observatory’s telescope penetrates. Gnome ghosts labour about the planetarium, though they pay the party little attention. Some of the equipment seems to have curious Saris fist shaped holes in it. Mel and Alva weave through a barrage of bottles and quickly duck out of the door, coming to a floor full of work cubicles. Pipes lead into the central area before vanishing deeper into the observatory- whilst the resident ghosts are frantically trying to extinguish fires breaking out amidst their work. Guessing that Nathanew has recently passed through, they pause whilst Alva speaks with one of the ghosts, asking what they are doing making potions for a mostly undead army. At the prompting of one of the gnome ghosts Melanth takes a potion they offer, finding that it heals him but inverts his scales colouration.
From the gnomes they learn that the rest of the party has headed further into the facility, likely in pursuit of Rindlecup. Both Mel and Alva snag a few more of the random colour-changing potions on the way out.
Random colour morph potion of dubious use
Continuing downwards, they find the lowest floor with several rooms coming off, most of which show signs of damage. They hear several voices coming from the side rooms, one of which of Pern. The raven informs them that Rindlecup is near the front wall, which is heavily guarded. He leads them to a janitorial closet with a trap door in the centre, though the three are spotted and immediately come under fire. Melanth orders his thralled sniper to cover their retreat as they dive down the trapdoor and make their way into an underground tunnel and storage annexes.
Wandering lost for a time, Alva and Mel find a spilled box of metal components in what seemed once to be an infirmary. A body still lays stretched on a litter, missing its legs the area from when the Observatory was overrun. Alva treats her wolf companion as they take a short rest, looking through the books before continuing. Further down the corridor, they find a locket and the remains of an explosion, along with a gnome’s legs. The blood trail from the infirmary seems to lead to this point. Alva opens the locket, finding that contains a short message to the dead gnome from their loved one; Aga take is into her possession. They are showered with damaged glass from broken bottles as they fight their way through the musty darkness. One of the more useful things they uncover is a crate of healing potions, which they all use, Lorn included.
After finding a dead end, they finally see signs that they are beginning to catch up; scorches on the wall, a rat that has been exploded by a punch. Eventually they come to a rickety staircase, and cautiously tracking up it, they find a way back into the observatory. They are apparently near the front entrance; through the doorway they spy many gnomian ghost snipers and Rindlecup being treated by his frantic Saris apprentice. Deciding that they weight of numbers is not in their favour, the three retreat back into the tunnels and rest for a time, drinking some ale they uncover in one of the gnome’s abandoned casks.
Backtracking, they eventually manage to track down fresh tracks that indicate the rest of their party has recently passed through, following them to a nearby entrance. Hearing voices, they pause to confirm it is indeed their friends. Linking up with the rest of the party, Nathanew casts invisibility upon them, and they manage to slip through gaps in the enemy patrol and return to base.
From there they return the note to Gristgear only reluctantly, their suspicions piques even further as the gnome gives them the cold shoulder regarding what exactly it is they are seeking, and hints that he has an even more dangerous assignment lined up; Rachival. The party immediately takes umbridge, seeing a suicide mission in the very definition of the term, and retreat to the bar to nurse their wounds. Melanth is lous in his opposition to Gristgear, and begins to hatch a plan…