With the battle over the gang begin to explore the now safe ruins. A quick search of the bodies reveals a small amount of gold (35gp). The lizardfolk creature has a set of keys on a ring, which we take with us as we investigate the rooms around the ruins.
One room to the south has a sturdy looking door, but the keys soon provide access. Within appears to be the spoils of bandit raids; various barrels of goods, mostly food stuffs such as flour. There is also a chest which contains 250gp and a pair of gauntlets of ogre power.
Expecting to find some slaves in the other rooms we continue on, and find in the lower west building a group of small children behind locked bars. Again the keys open the bars and we free the children, unshackling them. The children look in reasonable health, if a little under nourished, so trail rations are handed out.
We talk to the children and try to find out what has happened. They are all from various farms around Loudwater, and tell similar stories of being captured by the bandits, thrown into barrels and then travelling by water to this ruin. When asked about any particular people they saw all mention the lizardfolk man, but a few mention a lady with long waist length raven hair, who the bandits talked to near the Dire Woods. She looked like some kind of priestess.
The children say that there used to be more of them, but that some had already been taken away, possibly to Najara or even to Cormyr. There was mention of a Eladrin child amongst them, but most seem to have been human.
We also interrogated one of the surviving bandits, who managed to trap herself behind a barred gate. She seems to know little beyond what we have already established, but is suitably cowed when Milvus rips the door from its hinges to get her out.
Food is foraged from the surrounding areas by Milvus and Oakheart and we set up camp for the night. The following day we set off back to Loudwater, each horse taking one or two children, the prisoner being forced to walk, tied to a saddle. After two long days travel we make it back to Loudwater and hand the children and the prisoner over to the Loudwater Patrol.
We decide to find Zark and ask him some very specific questions about the slavery. He knows of the priestess, who was in town about 14 days ago. She seemed to be investigating the town, working out who its movers and shakers were, and taking to various groups, including Zark and the Lady of Shadows.
He also reveals that the Lady of Shadows is a Shade, a humanoid creature originating from Nethril.
Brocc mentioned to everyone that the only real movers and shakers he knows of are probably Zark himself, the Lady Moonfire (Loudwater mayor) and Curuvar the Brazen, a wizard of some renown in Loudwater.
The group decide to go and find Curuvar, who often drinks at the Green Tankard. Once they ‘introduce’ themselves and begin talking he confirms that he was approached by the priestess ‘Madreen’. She asked many interesting questions about the town, interested in any seats of powers, large gangs, and its military strength. Curuvar worked out she was a priestess of Shar.
Curuvar suggests that if we are searching for answers we should consider a trip to the Spellgard, where the Lady of Spellgard is said to answer a single question for each person she deems worth. Spellgard is a large ruin, and may still yet contain hidden treasures, and unknown dangers. Some say she favours those who work to rebuilt the ruins, others talk of different tasks that gain her favour. Curuvar visited the ruins but nothing much happened and he got bored and left. He points out that many people stay at the Monastery of the Precipice, a place for people searching out the Lady and her answers.
Unsure what to do next the group decide to stake out Zark, and the tenement building to see if the Lady of Shadows returns. Zelthasand Scrag follow Zark, with the others going to the tenement building.
Zark ends up down by the river docks, again loading a barge with the help of two humans. Suddenly one of the dock workers topples over, falling into the river. Seconds later the other follows. From the shadows emerges a mysterious figure, The Lady of Shadows presumably, surrounded in a dark veil. She approaches Zark, and talks to him. Zelthas and Scrag try to get a bit closer but are spotted, at which the lady darts down the quay, out onto a jetty and dives into the water.
Zark refuses to answer their questions unless Zelthas and Scrag help hide the bodies, so while Scrag takes on to the tenement building Zark tells Zelthas that the Lady and her remaining crew are abandoning Loudwater and heading to the Thunderspire, an underground trading post in the Thunder Peaks. It appears she still has some kind of base in town.
The group discusses the prospect of heading to either Spellgard or Cormyr, with the favour being to head to Cormyr. The decision to follow the Lady of Shadows is finally reached, with only the route to be chosen. The more direct route is to head directly south through Najara, but the safer route is to keep to the trade routes and go via Daggerford.