The party, looking to gather more allies, left the smithy and backtracked north. One unexplored passage led to a filthy but unoccupied lounge. Past it, they discovered what appeared to be a prison wing. One door led to an empty cell, while another stout portal was found to be locked. Grumble, perhaps enraged by the indignities inflicted on his fellow dwarf, proceeded to try and bash the door in with his steel-toed wrestling boot—only to have his blow rebound ineffectively.
From beyond the door, the sound of snorting and grumbling was detected. A voice, speaking in a gruff, unknown tongue shouted something out. Baragkus’ magic helm deciphered the phrase to be, “Idiot! Use yer key!” The party banged on the door in response and the grumbling continued, getting louder as the speaker approached the door. “What? ‘Cho loose it agan?” came another inquiry as the door swung open.
The surprised bugbear opening the door was greeted with an axe to the chest and a sword through the gut. Another of his kind, obviously just awakened and rising from bed, rushed for his battle axe but was cut down as he lifted it above his head. In moments, the party had overcome the prison’s guards. In a locked chest, the party found a suit of leather armor, some weapons, and an obvious set of thieves’ tools. Undersized for bugbears, these must belong to another denizen of the prison wing and the band moved along down the hall in search of that person.
A third door was encountered just as they heard the sound of the lounge door behind them swinging open. They spun about to see a quartet of silhouettes emerging from the dimly lit room beyond. Hobgoblins! As the two forces rushed one another, a hail of arrows brought down three of the orange-skinned bastards before the party’s fighting men clashed with the sole survivor. With two-to-one odds, the hobgoblin found a quick if not painless death.
The party opened the door they had been interrupted at to find a morose-looking human male imprisoned within. He too was relieved to see human and demihumans faces and introduced himself as Cullen, a “freelance procurer” who had run across a hobgoblin patrol on his way to Fort Wolf’s Head. Cullen was agreeable to help out the party in return for a cut of any loot found and the party returned to him his equipment, arms, and tools of the trade.
With now two more members and only a seemingly empty cave where water was collected remaining in the north wing, the party headed back the way they came and decided to see if they could find the evil priest’s quarters. Many of their number were still injured and the prospect of liberating some healing potions or curative scrolls was an alluring one. In fact, wounds had gotten so bad that Mars Markus graciously offered his sole remaining potion of healing to Grumble provided he replace it once they returned to civilization (hee hee).
The party headed east and found a long corridor that eventually turned south and passed several doors. The first portal, located down a short side passage was bypassed, but the next two were cautiously examined. Both were locked and beyond the ability of Cullen to pick, so Baragkus and Grumble went to work with their crowbars.
As the party worked to pry one door open, they suddenly found themselves under fire. A patrol of goblins had been shadowing them and took the opportunity to rain arrows down on Korlack and Mars, the party’s lantern-bearers. Korlack took a grim wound, but the missiles bounced off Mars’ seemingly impenetrable plate mail. Baragkus and Gareth charged into battle, sending the goblins scurrying and dying. As they chased their quarry around a corner, they encountered more of the green-skinned guards and the battle continued in a surprisingly simultaneously manner (The party and I tied initiative rolls consecutively for three or four rounds. No lie.). Ultimately, the goblins were slain and the door was pried open.
The room beyond contained an office. Comfortable benches lined the walls and a large desk stood in one corner. A small pumice statue depicting the sloth-bat thing the party had encountered in various places around Hob’s Hill sat atop the desk. Korlack swiftly collected this ornament as Grumble opened the first of the desk’s two drawers. After being reminded of traps, Grumble looked down to find only a sheaf of plain parchment, quills, and stoppered ink. Now, more cautiously, he called Cullen over and had the “guy who knows a guy” inspect the second drawer. No trap was found, but it was locked—a lock which Cullen quickly dismantled…triggering the poison needle trap in the process. Luckily, Cullen made his saving throw and the party was able to collect a pouch full of small, badly cut pieces of amber and a scroll of cure light wounds.
Feeling emboldened by this discovery, the party attacked the second door in the hallway and again demonstrated that brute force and a crowbar beat any thief in the business. Behind the portal lay a cozy salon. Niches holding beeswax candles lined the walls and a low table stood in the corner flanked by four chairs. A shelf hung on one wall and held four fine crystal goblets and two cut glass decanters of purple-black wine. Baragkus and Korlack availed themselves to the vino while Grumble, his suspicions raised by the party’s mapping efforts, began to inspect the walls. A secret portal was found in the west wall.
The party ventured down the occulted corridor and found the secret chambers of the evil priest. Interrupting him as he wrote his homily of evil for his next service, the evil priest didn’t have time to complete his invocation of “Tsathoggua, aid me!” before he took an arrow in the face. Moving into melee distance, Baragkus cut him down while Grumble rolled around on the floor…or at least that’s what it looked like. The dwarf’s attempt to slide under the priest’s worktable and attack were less than effective.
With the priest dead, the party rifled the room. Korlack collected the priest’s papers, which appeared to be written in the Black Speech, the tongue of Chaos. Under the bed, a long, narrow chest was discovered and it contained coins, a vial of clear liquid, and a grey-green cloak. Risking the wrath of whatever evil god the dead priest paid homage to, Korlack took the initiative to don the garment...and become dim. It must be a legendary elvish cloak! Baragkus, his magical helm perched atop his head, discovered that priest’s mace bore runes that could be read as “Tergel” when glimpsed with the helm and collected the weapon as his own.
Finding no other means of egress, the party returned to the secret passage and found another concealed portal that led the back to the main corridor. They paused to investigate the door they had passed, but it led to an empty albeit well-used torture chamber.
Heading into now unexplored territory, the party took a southbound corridor at their first intersection and came across an array of doors. The first, again pried open with much grunting and swearing, revealed a sizeable cache of supplies. There were enough torches, cloaks, rations, and other supplies to meet the needs of two hundred hobgoblin warriors.
The next door was locked, but a pair of sizeable double doors across the hall from them proved unlocked and the party ventured inside. Several of the adventurers felt an unnerving chill crawl down their spine as the passed over the threshold. In the dim light of their torches, the party saw a row of rough-hewn wooden benches marching towards a towing statue of pumice. The carving again depicted the bat-sloth deity, and the glint of gems was detected in the effigy’s eye sockets. However, the statue’s prodigious pot belly would make scaling the sculpture difficult, so Grumble and Baragkus headed back to the storeroom to loot some useful deity-climbing tools.
Unfortunately, unlike the first duel with the bugbears, these three proved to be formidable opponents. As the two fighting men stood their ground, each suffered horrible wounds and their cries for aid roused the rest of the party to come charging to their assistance. As Baragkus tried to disengage from combat, Gareth rushed to his side. He traded blows once before he found himself facing two of the beasts and was swiftly dropped into unconsciousness by their attacks. Meanwhile, Grumble also found himself in dire circumstances and tried to move into a position where others could aid him. This left Cullen exposed to the brawny goblinoids blows and the thief, demonstrating the battle sense of his chosen profession, said “Skut this!” and scampered away in retreat.
Korlack, ignored by the bugbears thanks to his newly acquired magical cloak, was able to move into position and dropped two of the creatures into magical slumber. The last bugbear, enraged, charged into the midst of the party and began to assail Mars Markus with his broadsword. The Spider God, perhaps taking pity on the fact that Mars’ player was absent from the session, intervened and allowed the cleric’s proxy dice-roller to generate a natural 20, slaying the bugbear before he could breach the priest’s armor.
Although no lives were lost, the party was badly beaten and without spells. A suggestion was made to secure themselves in the chamber with the statue, reinforcing the doors with the benches. However, an alternate suggestion was fielded: Return to the priest’s secret chamber and take refuge there. This was decided to be the wiser course of action and the Society of Planewalkers slinked back down to the hidden quarters and prepared to get some rest…
We’re off again this coming weekend. Recaps will return after April 3rd.