As twilight descended, the still invisible Kern and Erijay scouted around the ruined keep. Apart from smoke rising from the interior, there was no obvious activity. No guards on the crumbling walls or towers, no pickets in the treeline.They did find the main gate,which was closed and presumably barred or locked. Rather than force their way in, the two decided to position themselves near the gate, and hopefully sneak in behind some returning brigands. It wasn't long before they indeed observed a small party of men emerge from the woods, pulling a cart loaded with firewood, some small game, and casks. When the reached the gate, they called out, and a few minutes latter a guard appeared in the tower above. After a short conversation in a foreign tongue between the guard and returning men, the gate started to open. As the foraging party entered, Kern and Erijay slipped in quietly behind them. They passed into the gatehouse and through another gate (each raised by a separate windlass). From there they headed down a narrow passage, open to the sky, that entered into the inner courtyard. Kern and Erijay did not follow, having observed a number of campfires and a significant number of brigands gathered there.
Now left alone in the narrow passage, they decided to check out the doors they'd passed on the way in. Using a combination of listening at doors and searching for minds using the medallion of thoughts plucked from Jax, they found that three of the four doors appeared to have no one behind them. On the opposite side of the fourth door a number of human minds were encountered, including several brigands and a noble or leader of some type. Sifting through their thoughts, Kern was able to get a rough layout of the keep, including the fact that the main living quarters were not in the keep itself. Not sure what to make of that, the two went to investigate the other three doors. Two lead into the defenses surrounding the gatehouse, while the third led into a small, bare room seemingly carved out of the side of the cliff. Erijay decided to search for secret doors, while Kern started the process of summoning with the censor of controlling air elementals, to have it ready to summon in case all hell broke loose.
The duo raced back to their horses, and galloped west along the Road of the High Sun, reaching the city of Kunth the next morning. There, they once more requested the presence of their minder "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them back to Toi !lo's library to trade the recovered books for more information on the Wastes of the Loathsome Gods. Toi !lo let it be known there was little left of civilization in the blasted wastes. A scattered of insular villagers and nomads, long tumbled ruins, and loathsome twisted beasts of chaos spawned by the pure evil of the place. He suggested the best place to search for the Fetters of the Gods would be in the ruins of the capital of the once dreaded D'war empire, which had risen and fallen in power along with the fortunes of the Loathsome Gods. At Kern's request, the slug man also researched some gem combinations for the gate which could get them to or close to the Wastes. Toi !lo came up with three that should lead to gates in the general area of the Wastes, but could not say for sure which would be closest to the ruined city. He also, once more at Kern's request (and in return for another gift), provided a gem combination to a gate in the Land of 1000 Wizards. Erijay, again in return for more gifts, was able to get information on the four artifacts listed in the book she had recovered so long ago. The "Golden Mask of Nythal" and "Skull of Chodak" could be found in the Land of 1000 Wizards, while the "Machine of Radioactive Light" and "Throne of the Ancient Ones" were both to be found in the Burned Lands.
Thanking the illustrious slug-man, Kern and Erijay took their leave. Kern, recalling the treasure they'd recovered from the Hanging Tree while crossing the Untamed Lands with the barbarians, showed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" the signet ring recovered with the Kunth woman's skeleton. Examining it, he told Kern the wearer had been a member of the "Pearl" clan, a powerful human noble family in the city. In fact, the patriarch of the family was one of the 11 nobles who ruled the city in the name of the slug-men. The ring in fact had belonged to the patriarch's daughter "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". The young woman had disappeared some years ago, supposedly kidnapped and carried off by a secret lover. Kern, sensing the chance