The party arrives to the dwarven fortress-city of Dheg Kuldir, the massive stone walls around the city and melding into the mountain as if an extension of it creating an impression of sturdiness and power. Before reaching the gates of the city Etir mentions that he remembered hearing that many dwarven cities were a beurcratic nightmare to get into, having waiting lists and having to properly vet the visitors with proper authorities before being allowed in.
Saneic, remembering her message stone, asks Gamer if he has a way into the city for them. He responds a few moments later, telling her to wait patiently, but he can get them in with little issues. Indeed half an hour later the party, now hiding in the trees by the road, see a small lore dwarf leaving the city tossing something up and down in the air, Saneic noticing that it is a pair of dice that seem loaded. Smiling at the party and telling them to wait, she approaches the dwarf and makes a subtle hand gesture that he returns and then introduces himself as Bramgus, an ‘associate’ of the Gamers. Handing her the papers from his pouch he tells them to wait a bit longer for him to leave the road and then to head to the gates, that everything should be taken care of and tells her good luck.
After waiting for Bramgus to leave sight, the party moves to the city gate and hands over the paper. The guards gaze at the paper and then look at the party questioningly, double and triple checking the papers before telling them that they are allowed into the city but to behave themselves as they will be watching them. This is shocking as even with proper papers and vetting it still takes a few days before visitors will be allowed into the city.
Once inside the city the party makes note of just how many of the dwarven buildings are surprisingly above ground though they are still made with metal dwarf design in mind being short and defensible more then homey, reminding somewhat of the city of Istrus. Walking around they question a few of the locals on how to get to the Emberforge residence and more importantly, how to get inside. The villagers questioned are more then happy to inform the party the best way to get into anywhere important is with a gift, either something of dwarven historical purpose or some very very fine alcohol, preferably also of dwarven quality.
Questioning about dwarven brewers the owner of the Gruesome Tree pub is mentioned more then once and so the party heads that way to ask about purchasing a keg of the best alcohol they can. Getting to the pub, the owner Votdrilla Brewhide points them to the Gruesome Tree Brewer instead of the pub, saying she sells by the pint, not the keg and has no way of transporting kegs back and forth outside of the shipments from the brewery.
Getting to the brewery they meet with the head of the business, Kastun Bonebrew, who seems untrusting of selling an entire keg to outsiders. When they explain why they want the keg, to get an audience with the head of the Emberforge family he relents and offers them a barrel of Garnet Ale, for a hefty price of course. Etir asks what the price of the keg would be and the old dwarf smirks and sets the price at 900 GP a barrel. Etir, unwilling to part with that sum of money readies himself to try and haggle Kastun down when Saneic jumps in and plops the sack of gold down. The dwarf is surprised but happy with the quick transaction and quickly orders the workers to get them a barrel of the ale which Draka easily shoulders and the party departs for the the Emberforge home.
With the mention of the Garnet Ale, the vanerable dwarf happily allows the party into his home, a grand but tastefully built mansion that seems oddly well guarded for a simple home. Grateam Emberforge brings the party to his study where he drinks a glass from the cask happily as the party introduces themselves. As he finishes the glass he peers at the party over his fingers and wonders aloud why a simple band of adventures would be coming to a simple mine with such a prestigious gift. Zarik explains that they were sent by Mettius Paesentius Maltinus to search for supposed ruins of an ancient Zheechdrain city that may or may not be in the recently excavated branch of the mine.
Some tense negotiations later and Emberforge grants them access to the new branch with the following conditions. 1) Anything found in that branch of the mine is his, as it is his mine and his property. Anything to be given to Mettius is to be shown to him first to see if he wants it. 2)Once in the shaft, they will be trapped inside, as the creatures who slaughtered the exploratory force sent into the caverns are still down there and he is not willing to risk unleashing them onto the city. 3)They will not be allowed back out unless the guards and Grateam are convinced they are not attempting to escape from some terrible monster by getting past the heavy stone doors that were erected to keep the beasties in that shaft. The party agrees and the shaft is opened long enough for the party to get in and then sealed behind them.
As the doors are sealed behind them Saneic and Khyber are left in complete oppressive blackness, being the only members of the party without dark vision. Etir hands Khyber a sunrod to see with and Saneic stays close to her, their elven blood allowing them to see much further then they would otherwise. Almost right away they are set upon creatures made of the same metal as Sonny though shaped like insects. Zarik’s magic makes quick work of them and some of the remains are placed in the bag of holding. Picking a random passage way to go down, the party descends deeper, even finding a pile of kobold corpses and other goblinoids that no one in the party has seen before.
The party, growing tired from being down the caves for an unknown amount of time, start looking for a place to camp for the night before hearing the muffled sounds of music and the smell of food. Growing cautious and wary of what might be making them, the party slows down and clumps closer together, hoping not to run into a party of kobolds and others. Soon however, when the party reaches a three way split between in the caverns, they find a strange and ornate wooden door seemingly placed inside the cave walls and from where the music and smells seem to be coming from.
Shrugging to each other, they open the door and are awed by the sound of music and the pleasant homey atmosphere of the room behind the door. Etir mentions hearing of this place, naming it as the Silver Leaf Inn, a magical inn that seems to appear and disappear at random, who’s barkeep gives food and drink for free and staying the night costs not money but strange things such as the color of ones eyes, the feel of their hair, or favors to be named later. Boney and Steve seem stuck outside the inn, and Etir mentions that undead creatures are barred entry, and that all forms of violance and ill-will are forbidden here, so Zarik tells him to stay outside and guard the door.
Soon after walking into the inn a small gnomish creature appears before them and tells them that someone is here to see them as he tells them to wait and goes upstairs to fetch their guest, at which point a blast of thunder and a portal open up, a man stepping through as a audibly annoyed voice comes from down the stairs, chastising the man from the second floor, stating that he hates it when the man does that.
The man and Shar know each other and begin to converse. It quickly becomes clear that this man is a fey-demon, the court of they fey Shar worships and that he has a mission for her. An extremely powerful and dangerous force was recently released and it needs to be stopped before it can form physically telling her to seek the Obsidian Blades for help. He tasks his druid with this errand and gives her his name ‘Waltru’ the druidic word for death. Shar accepts the quest eagerly, and he offers her a ring to help her accomplish this before saying his goodbyes. The small gnome reminds Waltru of their deal, to which the annoyed fey demon nods confirmation vanishing with a crack of thunder and portal again, much to the small gnomes irritation.
Finally introducing himself to the party, the small gnome calls himself the Smiling Man, at which point Saneic notices how many fey are in this inn (indeed all the patrons except the party are fey) and quickly pulls up her hood, scanning for her twin sister and her friend Aysu. Relieved that her sister is not their and saddened her friend is also missing she turns her attention to the Smiling Man. Shar mentions that the Smiling Man is an extremely powerful neutral fey, strong enough to resist the courts and stay unaligned.
He grins at this and motions for Saneic to follow him to the bar as the rest of the party begins to take seats and eat from the food that appears without prompting from the plates set out. Following him, Saneic doesn’t notice Khyber and Shar sitting close by, eavesdropping on the conversation to make sure the Smiling Man means no harm.
At the bar he tells Saneic he is always surprised to see an unaligned fey in his bar, let alone a half fey. He does note, however, that he relatively anonymity is currently keeping her safe from the machinations of the courts, at least for now. Switching topics quickly, he asks her what she knows about her mother as well as mentioning he knows how nasty her father was.
Saenic mentions that all she knows is that when her mother and father met, she had blue eyes which she passed down to her daughters as well as that according to Aysu, she was a member of the forest court, which Saneic used to justify her closeness to the forest court. The Smiling Man motions for her to come closer and explains about her mother.
He explains that the Aysu was wrong, but this was because she herself did not know the truth about Saneic’s mother. He tells her that while she had been an ally of the forest court at the time, she was more powerful then powerful enough to stay neutral and tells her that her mother is known as The Blue Lady. The mention of this fey cause the eavesdropping Shar and Khyber to choke on their drinks, relaizing that The Blue Lady is a fey strong enough to go head to head with the lords and ladies of the courts and win.
Letting the information sink in the half fey just gazes at the Smiling Man for a few moments before he asks her is she would like to meet her mother, motioning towards a woman standing by the fireplace covered in blue cloth and light blue skin. Saneic moves towards the woman and then stops short, wondering if she wants to meat the creature who had left her to her father’s cruelty. Before coming up with an answer herself, the Blue Lady turns around and notices her, asking Erdudvyl what happened to her face and mocking the half fey to be more careful with the fire she loves so much.
Saneic, taken aback by the casual snide remarks from her mother tells her she has no idea what she is talking about, that her father caused these burn scars and causing the powerful fey to realize that for the first time she is speaking to her other daughter.
They converse for a time, causing a commotion as they begin to exchange heatedly in an argument. At one point Khyber even stands up from her seat in jumps into the conversation, trying to stop the fey’s cruel comments about Saneic’s fondness for the mortals, especially her friends and teammates. Shar quickly grabs the ranger and forces her back down and telling her that no matter how much they may wish too, they can’t interfere in this. Soon the Smiling Man comes into the conversation, seeing the anger and rage growing in Saneic’s mother and reminding her that no violence is permitted in his Inn. One final jab from Saneic sends her over the edge and she moves to attack her daughter and is quickly shunted out of the Inn to parts unknown.
Turning to the half fey, Smiling Man mentions that he thought that the exchange would go in a very different direction then it did, seeing as how the Blue Lady has been to the inn many times and knows the rules very well. Here Shar and Khyber run to her and hug her tight to comfort the small girl, though she seems to have no emotions towards the encounter as the Blue Lady was only a mother in the most basic sense of the word. Shar and Khyber announce that at this point they plan to get her drunk anyway with Saneic mentioning that the only person she had ever viewed as a mother has long since died and the only father figure she has is the Gamer.
The Smiling Man laughs at this, mentioning that he knew the Gamer well, though he had never mentioned her. Saneic chuckles sadly and says she had figured it was a one sided relationship and that he had more then likely known her heritage from day one and only seen her as a very powerful tool. Smiling Man cocks and eyebrow at this and says it is equally likely she was never mentioned to protect her, as though violence is not allowed inside the bar, information can travel fast and far from words spilled here. Saneic thinks to ask him about the marking on her glove the Corpsewalker had left on it. He goes quiet and grim before telling her that explaining about it would risk his neutrality but let her know that is was not good and to watch herself. He bows to them and explains that Waltru had bartered for rooms for them for the night, so that may rest freely here before leaving them to themselves.