The party descended the switchback steps to the crevasse floor. A fortress emerged from the darkness. The subterranean citadel, though impressive, seemed long forgotten, if the lightless windows, cracked crenellations, and leaning towers were any indication. All was quiet, though a cold breeze blew up from below, bringing with it the scent of dust and a faint trace of rot.
The narrow stairs emptied into a small courtyard, apparently the top of what was once a crenelated battlement. The buried citadel had sunk so far into the earth that the battlement was now level with the surrounding floor. That floor stretched away to the north and south, composed of a layer of treacherous, crumbled masonry, which reached to an unknown depth . To the west loomed the surviving structure of what must have been the Sunless Citadel. A tower stood on the west side of the courtyard, and a closed doorway promised access.
Despite her misgivings, the group convinced Karyl to check the door for any traps, and sure enough, as she approached, a section of floor opened up beneath her, but she managed to spring out of the way. Using pitons, Hammer was able to hold the trap door open and Karyl lowered herself down to investigate the remains of goblins. Once she had climbed back out, the group opened the doorway and continued onward.
They found themselves inside the shell of the tower. This circular area was cobbled with cracked granite, upon which sprawled the bodies of four goblins, apparently slain in combat. One corpse stood with its back against the western wall, the spear that killed it still skewering it and holding it upright. Three wooden doors led from this area. A hollow tower of loose masonry reached thirty feet into the air, but the intervening floors and stairs were gone, except for a couple of crumbled ledges. A door led to the north-west, and another led to the south-west.
Osric pulled the spear free from the goblin skewered to the wall, and behind the body he could see strange runes, written in Draconic, carved into the wall. None of the group were able to read the words, so after a brief search of the room and the goblins, they chose the southern door and moved into the chamber beyond.
Here, they found that the masonry walls of this twenty-foot-wide hall were in poor repair. The far end had collapsed, filling the southern section with rubble. The western wall was in much better shape than the other walls, and it held a stone door with a rearing dragon carved in relief on it. The door had a single keyhole, situated in the rearing dragon's open mouth. Upon investigating the keyhole, the group was able to determine that not only was this a complicated locking system, but there seemed to be some arcane works done on it as well. Realizing that, right now, this was probably beyond their skill to get past, the group returned to the tower shell and decided to investigate the opposite door, beyond which they found a short hallway with three doors.
One door stood out from the others. This stone relief-carved door sealing this chamber portrayed a dragon-like fish swimming. Upon investigating, they discovered a ten-foot-square chamber hewn from stone. It contained an upright keg fashioned of rusted iron. Rusted pipes led from the keg into the floor. Osric approached to investigate, finding a large metal bung fit into the top of the keg. Upon removing it, two mephits – one steam, one ice – that were trapped inside flew free and attacked the party. The group was victorious, though injured, and discovered a handful of small sapphires inside the keg. They moved on to find an empty room to the north, and then decided to search west.
Westward, they entered a large chamber. Crudely executed symbols and glyphs, scribed in bright green dye, decorated this irregularly shaped, crumbling chamber. A large pit in the center showed evidence of a recent fire. A metallic cage in the middle of the southern wall contained a gaping hole and stood empty. A small wooden bench draped with green cloth was next to the cage, and several small objects rested on it. A bedroll lay near the wooden bench, and the sound of whimpering came from inside it.
Inside the bedroll, Morthos discovered a weeping kobold. Speaking broken Common, the kobold said its name was Meepo and did not want to die. It babbled about being the Keeper of Dragons, about goblins, invasion, and a missing dragon name Calcryx. Meepo promised rewards if the group spoke with the kobold leader, Yusdrayl. The group agreed, Karyl swiped a small jade figurine from the small bench, and Meepo took them to meet with Yusdrayl.
Meepo led the group westward, around a few bends, and eventually into down a double row of relief-carved marble columns which marched the length of a long, large hall. The worn carvings depicted entwining dragons. Skulking among the columns they could see patrolling kobolds. Meepo led them past all of them and to the end of the columns, where a short throne stood near the west wall, constructed of fallen bits of masonry stacked against an old altar. On the top of the altar sat a variety of small items. The portion of the altar that served as the throne's back featured a carving of a rearing dragon. A metallic key was held firmly in the dragon's open jaws. Seated on the throne was a robed kobold, rings on her clawed hands. Meepo introduced the group to Yusdrayl.
Yusdrayl explains how the kobolds were heir to dragons. As the mightiest among her people, she led a brave few to this ancient holy site, where dragons were worshiped long ago. She also talked about how The Outcast lives below, and how he grows fruit which he gives to the goblins, and how the goblins were responsible for the theft of the kobold's pet dragon. Yusdrayl knew of the human adventurers, and how they went off to fight the goblins but never returned. The group agreed to investigate and return Calcryx to the kobolds in return for the key that decorates Yusdrayl's throne.
With that, Yusdrayl commanded Meepo to lead the group to the goblin's section of the ruins. After a long rest, the group struck out to investigate the goblin presence in the ruins, and to search for a kidnapped dragon.