The text was a set of words rather than a sentence. They were “avail”, “bewilder”, “conquer”, “dismay”, “entreat” and “forget”.
Questions answered by Bruthwol Coalhauler:
A: "Pedestal is populated by many kinds. Drow, duergar, derro, grimlocks, kuo-toas and wererats are the most common. Pedestal has no central power. Several groups claim sovereignty, but during bad weeks, the city is little better than a war zone. Good weeks are meerly lawless. Anarchy rose in the collapse of the drow hierarchy. A terrible plague ten years ago wiped nearly all of 'em out."
A: "You're looking for someone? Well, I have been camped here for a few days. Not too long ago, a cloaked figure, a female humanoid by shape, though I couldn't discern much else, emerged from this very node. Perhaps she is your quarry? That person ignored my greetingss and stalked off down toward the Oceanbridge."
A: "If you want to locate someone, talk with Es Sarch. You can find him in the Dripstone Inn on the Street of Five Hanged, directly north three blocks from Pedestal's southern gate. He know everything about the city, but he's sure to want something in return for his help."
A: "This is the only node close to Pedestal. My trade route passes by this node and the yonder tunnel to the west. You never know who might use the node to travel quickly through the Underdark."
A: "House Dusklorn is a newly formed drow noble house established by low-caste plague survivors that did not leave the city and those brave enough to return in the aftermath."
A: "The Inheritors are a gang of derro, grimlocks and kuo-toas that want to take over the city and drive out the drow."
The fungus on the island give off digestive spores that eat the flesh of those who come in contact with them. This effect seems to be heightened in anyone that has spent any significant time in Pedestal.
The concoction that Es Sarch was talking about is used to treat a disease called ash doom. With proper alchemical preparation, the mushrooms are made into a powder that provides immunity to ash doom for a week. If used by someone already inflicted, the powder grants +6 to Fort saves made to resist the disease. Each dose of powder sells for 100 GP in Pedestal.
The terrible plague that laid Pedestal low originated on Noble’s Bluff, leaving a crater now called the Plagueburst. Average citizens avoid Nobel’s Bluff, because they fear a renewed outbreak of the disease.
The Plagueburst is still infectious, and it taints those who approach too closely with the ash doom disease. A victim of the illness gradually disintegrates into luminescent green ash, becoming one of the plague lost. The plague lost are ghostly beings that hate the living and exist to spread the ash doom.
The origin of the Plaguebusrt remains hotly debated. The top contenders among competing explanations are a brief manifestation of an awful god of pestilence, a mundane disease magnified by an alchemical accident, perhaps within the Necromancer’s Spike, or a magical attack on the city by illithids or another enemy.
A: I do not know of this organization but I will be mindful to investigate it.
A: Its name is Imaug. It lives within the Sullen Sea and preys upon those who cannot defend themselves. He has a pack of Skum that usually does his dirty work. Those that run afoul of the creature do not usually return to tell the tale.
A: The guild takes initial orders through their drop box. The order must include the victim and a location for where the requestor may be contacted. If the target is found acceptable, a representative will contact the requestor and collect half of the attempt fee up front. When a hit is fulfilled, the assassin destroys the victim’s head preventing easy use of magic on the corpse.
Fees have a base cost of 1000 GP plus 300GP per HD of the target. The other half of the fee is collected if the hit is successful. Either way the contract ends once the attempt has been made. Certain powerful people have paid far more than this fee to place themselves on the safe list.
After eliminating Elessawra, Es Sarch provided the following information:
“You have more than my gratitude for completing the tasks I set you; I also have answers for you. First, I have discovered that Fadheela lairs in the Necromancer’s Spike, as unlikely a haven as I could have imagined. But our fair Fadheela possesses resources that extend beyond Pedestal. She found a way to bypass the zone of decay that surrounds the column’s entry. And now I know that way too.”
“To enter the Necromancer’s Spike, one of you must carry this token. It will save you from the destructive magic protecting the first room within. Take care, however, for the ring suppresses the deathly effects of that chamber for only a minute or so.”
“Unfortunately, undead decay in the chamber even if they carry the ring, so I have been unable to learn anything else of the Vanguard of Sertous other than that the group’s arrival is recent here in the Great Grotto. I suspect this mysterious faction has found a convenient entry point into the Underdark, somewhere within the Necromancer’s Spike. Fadheela, as an associate of the Assissin’s Guild of Pedestal, is a perfect agent.”
“House Dusklorn has claimed the Spike. You’ll face soldiers at its entryway but not within. Unlike you and, ostensibly, this Fadhella, they have no way to get past the magic that protects the first room.”
“If you gain entry and survive, I hope you return and tell me all you learn. I can make it worth your while.”