The party spend the morning after the Great Demon Attack in the abbey licking their wounds and waiting for Father Ulric to finish his ministrations and return to speak to them. After some hours he rolls up looking strained and exhausted, and asks the party to join him shortly in his chambers.
They arrive, and Ulric begins by thanking them for their help so far. He says there is little that the town can offer them other than its thanks, but that they have that in spades, and would be made honored guests and given free good and lodging any time they chose to visit.
He goes on to say that, of course, the group are free to do what they want from this point, but that he still had great concern about the threat to the village. Should they decide to probe further in the quest for the location and cleansing of Castle Vyn and the Demon gate they would be welcome to keep everything they find within. This perks up the ears of various party members.
After some hemming and hawing the party generally agree that looking for the castle would be the right thing. There is some concern for the safety of the village while they’re away, so they head off to Konnar’s to see if they can find anyone from the Wilder Company. Konnar’s is a total disaster when they arrive, looking as though everything had been torn from the walls and rafters, with the worst stink of alcohol and vomit anyone had ever encountered handing in the air. It seems as though some patrons reacted to the events of the night prior by going on legendary binges. There aree several customers slumped over tables around the perimeter, and one very tired looking barmaid continuing to over-serve the few who were still moving.
The ask her if any of the Wilder Company are about; she says that most of them are upstairs in various states of insentience, but that the big harry lump in the corner that’s moving ever so slightly is Wergen. They attempt to prod him out of his drunken stupor to enlist his help in protecting the village, but only manage to get a slurred commitment out of him to defend the town. They figure this is the best they will be able to get and leave.
They return to Father Ulric to let him know they are about to head out, and beseech him for any extra help he can give them. After some contemplation, he grudgingly leads them up into his chambers where he dives into the secret compartiment in his footlocker and hands them five items: 3 potions of Cure Light Wounds and 2 Scrolls of Detect Evil. He tells them this is all he has to give.
The party head up towards the bluff to attempt to find traces of the castle. As climbing it directly would be too monumental a task (yuk yuk), they decide to head about an hour north, following the spine of the ridge as it descends. They get to where the ridge meets ground level and begin their ascent back up the ridgetop. As they climb, the vegetation goes from pine forest, to scrub, to mostly barren rocks. From near the top of the ridge they can see for miles around the rise and fall of the Meres, including several plumes of smoke rising in the distance.
As they examine the terrain, Edmund and Gwannyn put their heads (and knowledge of mapping and geology) together and come to a realization: they had been steadily climbing, but the party have now descended into what appears to be a broad depression. This causes the party to look around at the scenery in a new light, and they realize that the ground around them i slittered with very large rocks that do not appear to have gotten there naturally.
Edmund pieces this together and comes to the conclusion that they are standing in a large caldera formed at some point in the past by a massive explosion that essentially blew the top of the mountain off.
Thinking that they’re perhaps beginning to figure out what had happened here the party keep their climb up the ridge going; by this point the width of the ridgetop has narrowed, and the terrain becomes increasingly rugged. The gang decide it would be best at this point to tie off to each other as they continue their explorations. They reach the point where they’re standing over Arwell’s worksite. From here, the bluff falls off steeply into a loose jumble of stones.
Seeking to avoid falling off loose footing to their doom the party tie themselves off to trees now and let the more dextrous members of the group continue to explore down the steepening face. After some few minutes, they notice what appears to be the top of a parapet sticking out from the rocks. They all draw close to the site, and determine that someone had previously been here and worked on clearing rocks from what was, up close, clearly the top of a tower of some sort.
There was enough of the tower top exposed to present an opening to the interior through a window. A torch thrown in showed a circular stone room, about 20’ across, mostly featureless aside from arrow slits, a trap door in the floor leading downwards… and a giant, smooth stone arch with eldritch writing carved into it. I believe we have found the demon gate.