Pan and Mellvin were almost certainly inside the strange warehouse structure. The door was unbolted thanks to Blueblood’s unseen servant. The party was ready to kick the door in and storm the place, not really knowing what they would face, when a strong, manly grip grabbed Smith’s arm and stayed his hand. It belonged to a man in a flowing robe, face hidden by the cowl. He said that if they went in there now, they would likely all die, and that they should come with him. They were sceptical, but it was true they knew little about what lay inside, so they went with the shadowy figure. He ran them through the back alleys of Terrkan, before coming to a locked basement door. Without warning, the hooded man disappeared into the wall. This obviously was some sort of magic, and it was Vargas who attempted to follow, only being greeted by a stone wall to the face for his trouble. After a few more moments, the basement door opened, and the party were led down the stairs into the cellar. It was a difficult fit for the ogre and centaur, but they somehow managed it.
In the cellar, the man pulled back his cowl, and revealed strange and intricate markings not just on his face, but his neck, and even on his hands. Presumably his whole body was marked with these designs. He introduced himself as Vanbenten, told the party again that they do not realise what kind of powerful foe they face, and that he saved their lives. When they informed him their elven friends were enslaved inside, he simply nodded, and told them that they were best off forgetting about them. They were not dead – they were under the power of a mighty creature called an ilithid. This race of creatures had enslaved Vanbenten’s people in the rocky mountains, and although he was unwilling to share much about his own people, or their gift, he was prepared to say that his people were dominated, and not only his, but the other race that lives within those mountains – the myconids. He also told them that the myconids take these slaves back to the mountains for the ilithid, who turn some of them into mindless thralls, but most are devoured by them – they eat their brains. Apparently, they have a taste for elf brain, although the reason is unknown. They can hear people’s thoughts, and are very difficult to fight. He told them how an ilithid would come from the mountains when the myconids had a new batch of slaves to take across the flood plains, would enthrall them all, and then lead them, levitated, across the flood plains with nothing more than a goat tugging them along. The reason for this was not made incredibly clear, but certainly it would limit any tracks that were left.
If they were dead keen on getting into the warehouse, though, he said he could make for them a way. The party even went and scoped out this possibility, but it was not going to be fruitful, regardless of what they did – especially if the strange mind-controlling creature was as powerful as Vanbenten said. And so they pooled their minds into a brains trust, and considered many and varied tactics for getting their friends back. They decided, in the end (after plans including advertising free drinks at the warehouse and using the goblins who turned up as a shield), that they would try and ambush the floating slave caravan somewhere in the wild flood plains, from a distance far enough so as to be out of range of the beastly ilithid’s mind powers. And their plan was to strike at the heart of the caravan – by killing the goat.