The party routed the kobold ambush party, and discovered a tunnel leading out of the dungeon to an ancient dock on the banks of an underground river. There they discovered the kobold group who actually had the Egg, who were bickering amongst themselves as to whether to simply leave (or at least go back and find out what was delaying the other kobolds) or follow orders and stay put. Using a Spider Climb spell on Jack Scabbard to get the element of surprise, the party made short work of the kobolds and retrieved the Egg.
The party noted that the kobolds could not have transported the gunpowder barrels on their rickety raft – they also noted that whilst there was a human-made boat at the dock (and evidently quite a magical one, with a figurehead clutching an orb with Continual Light on it and a rope tying it in place in time as well as space to as keep it secured) there was no sign of anyone who might have piloted it. (More disturbingly, the figurehead was, on the surface at least, a depiction of the Burning Judge, but Vaclav noted certain inconsistencies which suggested it was actually a disguised depiction of the Tyrant.)
Returning with the Egg, the party were able to have it returned to the Archbishop of the Church of the Kindly Messenger, ensuring that the diplomatic negotiations with the Zetanians concluded successfully. Whilst waiting for the process to finish, the party had a chat with Professor Athjiari, Vaclav’s former tutor and magical advisor to the Barthory family, who had decided to oversee a thorough investigation of the dungeon areas beneath the palace. The Professor noted that there were indications of the worship of several deities of Evil in the dungeon, suggesting that it was home to a powerful cult of the Tyrant (since as the exemplar of pure Evil the Tyrant encourages its followers to cultivate and foster the other cults of Evil).
He had also used magical means of persuasion to speak to the kobold the party had captured, and learned that the kobold clan in question had turned away from the worship of the Burning Judge (who bestows a certain degree of protection on some humanoid monsters and allows them to live on the surface world in return for them living like surface worlders – having children, getting old and dying in their turn) and sworn the Tyrant’s Pact – a vile oath of fealty to the cults of pure Evil which allows monsters to, through the bloody sacrifice of all dependents in their tribe, create portals to the underworld that full-grown reinforcements may come through, so that the humanoids in question may undertake nigh-suicidal missions in the name of Evil. The kobold group in question apparently came from the wild lands north of Arcol, where society had collapsed entirely in the plague of some years ago and several monster groups operated freely. The Professor said the party was welcome to help with the exploration of the dungeons; their role would likely involve a lot of mapping, a lot of fighting dungeon inhabitants, and a lot of extracting ancient treasures from the depths.
Next, the party spoke to Countess Barthory, Vaclav’s mother, who congratulated them on their recovery of the Egg. She mentioned that the negotiations had concluded peacefully, the Zetanians agreeing to set aside the ruinous reparation payments that King Manfred had agreed to in return for Arcolian help in their own struggles against Evil plots which had been causing them some trouble.
Vana noted that when the Laughing Wolf stirs in the depths of the earth Evil tends to erupt everywhere; other party members wondered whether there was a closer connection. The Countess declared that she had very little way of knowing whether there was a connection, and that was part of the problem – it looked like the new post-royalist government of Arcol would be highly decentralised, with local nobles and rulers holding a lot of sway within their own territory. This concerned her because she felt that the central government needed to be proactively seeking out dangers to the realm, rather than waiting until parts of the Commonwealth were being actively eaten before swinging into high gear. She had convinced the Commonwealth Senate to allow her to conduct a Grand Survey of the realm; Surveyors would be charged with travelling around to document which settlements were still extant after the war, what state they were in, what resources they possessed and so on, and would also be authorised to deal with any problems or trouble as they saw fit. She was keen for Vaclav to take part in this, though she was willing to let him keep his own schedule since part of the job would entail prioritising what to investigate.
The Countess also mentioned that Athard, who had been guarding the Egg’s chamber with Jack, had gone missing – a serving boy thought he saw him sneaking out of the palace but otherwise there were few clues as to where he had gone. She rather wanted Athard found on the off-chance that he was involved with the plot to steal the Egg in some way.