Though he was bound and helpless, Balgron the Fat proved quite effective at wreaking havoc among the party. Indecision raged as you debated how to handle him. Balgron attempted to convince you that the sealed section of caves actually contained Kalarel’s treasure, and even though you saw through his bluff, you decided to investigate it nonetheless. When you opened the fungus-covered door, you found a seemingly quiet room that had once served as Nerath Keep’s cistern. The pool had since stagnated, and an island in the middle of it contained two decaying bodies surrounded by treasure. Before you could investigate it, a blue slime erupted from the water, dazing most of you and lashing out at the rest. With frequent explosions of caustic slime bathing all of you in acid, you had your hands full with this new jelly. After a few desperate minutes, the slime was dead, and you went to investigate some of the northern chambers of the keep.
What you found there was an empty torture chamber, its inhabitants having been killed in the previous clash in the hallway. In one cell was Splug, a member of the goblin forces that had apparently been thrown in the jail for cheating at dice. Though he offered to help you in return for his release, you did not trust him enough to let him out. Putting Balgron in a neighboring cell, you went to take a rest in his room before finishing your exploration of the caves. As you entered the southern chamber, you saw a pit filled with the body of a kruthik. The chittering and scuttling that echoed throughout the cavern told you that this one was not alone. The walls around you soon overflowed with kruthiks of various sizes, lunging at you with pointed claws and firing poisoned spikes at you from their tunnels in the rock. When they finally lay defeated, you helped yourself to their treasure.
Following this was another critical decision over which the party nearly came to blows. Unsure of how to handle the terror runes you encountered in the northwest section of the keep, Gronnell suggested tossing Balgron onto one of them while he was bound. Lindir was vehemently opposed, taking the moralistic stance that it was not right to subject a helpless creature to potentially fatal magic. In the end, it became moot as Gronnell attempted to leap over one of the runes and landed squarely upon it. An explosive scream erupted from the floor, gripping your minds with magical fear and sending you fleeing. Once you shook off the effects, however, you found the rune to be quite harmless. The next rune, however, proved to be just as dangerous to Gronnell, and he fell under the same effects a second time. Once he was again under his own control, he used his strength to lift the rest of you over the rune, allowing you all to move on.
Beyond the runes, Zoren detected a secret door, which you opened to reveal an empty room. At least, it seemed empty until you realized it was enclosed by an illusory wall. Stepping boldly through the wall, you were beset by zombies that had managed to find the secret armory that was concealed there. With your divine friends making short work of the undead, you looked around at what you had found. The only thing of note was a suit of armor, protected by an arcane riddle. Correctly reasoning the answer, the enchanted suit of armor was yours.
You continued down the stairs to the next level of the keep to be met by hobgoblin guards. They called out a challenge phrase to you, “Shadow seeks shadow!” and you answered with the phrase you had taken from Ninaran’s dead body, “From the ground some magic was found!” This, unfortunately, was a false passphrase, planted by Ninaran to ensure that even her own death would not allow you free access to her master. The guards cried “Intruders!” and kept you pinned in the narrow stair case while their comrades freed a vicious looking spider. As you cut down the guards attacking you, the spider leapt dozens of feet across the room to attack you. Your armor was too thick, however, and your reflexes too fast for it to ever land a blow. The guards, meanwhile, proved to be exceedingly difficult to kill while they worked in formation, shielding each other as they battered you with their vicious flails. Though you took a beating, you eventually emerged victorious over the guards and their pet, and paused for a while to clean the blood – both yours and theirs – from your weapons.