The group travels back to their “home” stone ring in the abandoned temple.
Upon arriving, the group find a message from Whispin:
“Greetings fellow Seekers! We have successfully negotiated with the Githerzai and have been granted access to the stone base of the Ring outside of Tammerland. We have people heading out to get the glyphs off the base as I write this, so depending on when you read this, we should be able to travel through the ring within a few days.
Gratian is back in power and Hadran is under house arrest. The situation here will be delicate as Gratian decides how to handle his brother and those soldiers and politicians who backed him. But that is not our biggest concern at the moment…
The Githerzai have filled us in on what the Illithid have planned. They want to use the Stone Rings to psychically link an unknown number of Elder Brains. They believe that if enough Elder Brains can be linked, a sort of psychic flare will occur, giving them almost unlimited mental powers. The Githerzai believe they are trying to achieve their goal through the rapid production of tadpoles, using the tadpoles to create more Illithid, and then immediately sacrificing those Flayers so that the brains can be used to form new Elder Brains—all of which would need to be near a Stone Ring in order for their plan to work.
There is so much more to say, but we will have to leave it until we can come to Astil. In the meantime, you must do what you can to secure or take back any Stone Rings that you know of. One less stone ring in the Illithid’s control means one less Elder Brain linked.
I have a few more things to look into here, but I will see you as soon as I can.
From here, our heroes head out to find the second gate they learned about from the Azlanti/Tuathan complex under the Everkeep Harbor prison. They are attacked yet again by a group of drow. They dispatch their foes in a hard-fought battle and eventually arrive in Hills Edge, a small village that is essentially a lumber camp.
The adventurers visit the tavern and learn that the city is about to bar visitors due to an outbreak of a laughing disease. The outbreak has shut down the commerce of Hills Edge and its sister town, Duskmoon. Travelling near Laugher’s Gorge hear laughter coming from the canyon and many have been attacked by bands of gnolls. Coincidentally, Laugher’s Gorge looks to be roughly where the Stone Circle should be.
While in the tavern, the party is approached by none other than Zerowyn Etronis. She confesses she knows what the Illithid are up to but that she also has a plan to stop them. She reveals that there is a “master gate” and that she is working on a crystal that will overload all the gates when they are interconnected. She tells the Seekers to come see her at her tower if they find the location of this master gate.
The adventurers head out to the gorge and descend 400 feet to the canyon floor. They encounter a patrol of gnolls with a mammoth. The party does battle with them and then prepares to strike out deeper into the canyon.