Seventh Expedition (July 24, 2011)
The party returned from the Sixth Expedition with a total of 370 gp value in copper funerary items and gems. They spent several days resting and recuperating while preparing for the next expedition. Medium-Veteran Albert Fairbreeze and Veteran Rost the Dwarf were called away for other business, but Exior the Mysterious and Medium Jace du Rush were able to rejoin the party, while three new members were recruited, bringing the total party number up to an even dozen, plus two hirelings:
Bravo-Prestidigitator Exior the Mysterious (m elf 1st level Assassin/1st level Illusionist)
Medium-Veteran Smoke Cloud (f elf 1st level Warrior-Mage)
Scout Raylin the Outcast (m half-elf 3rd level Ranger) with his hound Cur
Acolyte Him, Cleric of Somebody Somewhere (m human 1st level Cleric)
Medium Jace du Rush (m elf 1st level Magic-user)
Acolyte Fin Thorbergr, Cleric of the Dwarf Gods (m dwarf 1st level Cleric)
Veteran Dane Gerous (m human 1st level Fighter)
Veteran Wulfgar the Stout (m dwarf 1st level Fighter)
Veteran Jalden of Iron Mountain (m human 1st level Fighter)
Apprentice Quickleaf (m halfling 1st level Thief)
Warrior Margit the Halfling (f halfling 2nd level Warrior) with her dogs Rufus and Blake
Medium-Veteran Ellan the Elf (f 1st elf level Warrior-Mage)
Galen the Link Boy
Latimer the Pack Boy
The party, together with 10 hired guards, arrived at Stonehell with no troubles. The guards were left topside to guard the horses and wagon, while the 12 adventurers and their hirelings went once again into the depths. Having poured over the maps in the previous week, it had been decided to explore the southern corridors of the catacombs, with the hope to find a further connection back into the central body of the dungeons, that there would be a second escape route to the stairs to the outer world…
Thus continuing south down the north-south catacomb corridor, the party discovered an effective “T” in the route; the one to the right was followed, and was quickly discovered to end in a pair of stone doors covered with writing in Kobold, “Kobold Neutral Ground.” When the doors were opened, it was discovered that the short corridor beyond ended in a small room, blocked off by a gate. Debris was strewn about the room, and further writing on the walls in Kobold spelled “Bad Juju;” whether it was this or the lack of interesting debris is unknown, but it was decided to return to the corridor and investigate the other branch of the T rather than enter the Bad Juju Room to check out the door on the eastern wall.
The other corridor led to a large room, wherein was seen a stone bridge crossing a deep pit filled with nasty, stagnant water; the water contained rotting bits of flesh. Quickleaf and Jalden quickly crossed the stone bridge, the thief having declared it free of traps; unfortunately, before the dwarves could move up and check the quality of the stone, Raylin crossed and discovered that it crumbled beneath him! Fortunately Cur was already past the bridge when it crumbled; down went the ranger. To his horror, he found that the water was filled with horrible grubs living in the rot; these quickly burrowed into his legs! Jalden pulled him up with a rope, and Quickleaf quickly applied the tried and true anti-grub weapon: burning fire, and lots of it! Fortunately, the fire killed the grubs before it killed the ranger.
After much debate, a rope bridge was built across which Him the Cleric crossed the pit; he healed the ranger of most of his burns. Only Ellan was brave enough to cross to join the portion of the party on the other side. It was decided, after consulting the maps, that the two groups would meet in the Grand Chamber of Flesh and Bone, for it was apparent that (ideally) the southern east-west corridor would eventually meet up with the exit south of the Grand Chamber.
The far-side group (Raylin, Quickleaf, Him, Ellan, and Jalden) quickly made their way down the corridor; they encountered many doors, and Quickleaf stopped at each to listen. In one he heard voices, and in another he heard stirrings. Their trip to the Grand Chamber was otherwise uneventful.
Unfortunately for the near-side group (Wulfgar, Dane, Margit, Jace, Fin, Exior, Smoke Cloud, Galen, and Latimer) when they neared the Ruined Temple they discovered that their stakes had been uprooted and the door closed; when opened, five skeletons attacked! However, Wulfgar and Dane were in the front and made quick work of the things. They continued on, once again staking open the doors behind them (fortunately, as it turned out), and made their way into the Grand Chamber. There they took up a defensive position in the corner, as they had in the previous expedition, and waited for their comrades to join them. They didn’t have long to wait, and the party was reunited (and it felt so good).
Filling the near-side party in on their discoveries of the many doors in the southern corridor, it was decided to go with a “Doing Dong Ditch” plan, wherein the party would ready themselves in a gauntlet oriented toward the southern entry and the fastest member of the party would kick down one of the doors and run through… drawing the monsters into the gauntlet of death!
The plan worked quite well the first two times, with three skeletons and then three ghouls being quickly and efficiently disposed of, with Quickleaf as the bait. Exior decided to be the bait on the third try, and as they say, the third time is the charm… as he readied himself to kick in the door on the southern side of the corridor, the door opposite on the northern side of the corridor opened and out stepped several black-robed men! Surprised, they grabbed him and stabbed him through the heart with their wavy daggers before he could even scream!
The sound of the scuffle carried, though, to the readied adventurers, but even as they rounded the corner to help their friend they heard his death rattle, his life-blood pooling around him. They saw the door close, and before the cultists were able to barricade it, Raylin and Wulfgar had burst it down and were engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The others piled in behind them, and three of the cultists were down in quick order, with Wulfgar laughing off the leader’s mystical cry for him to “Die!”
“Surrender now and we’ll kill you quickly and mercifully!” Wulfgar shouted… and surprisingly, surrender they did! They were tied up, and the leader, obviously a cleric of some unpleasant deity, was gagged. Raylin questioned the other cultist, fruitlessly, as was apparently more afraid of his master than of the ranger; he was quickly gutted and dropped to the ground, dead.
They then carefully questioned the cleric, who told him that the cultists were in the dungeons looking for someone named “Malfrecles Nauld (?),” apparently a powerful being, seeking to get him to join their cult. He would say no more, and thus being a dwarf of his word, Wulfgar quickly and mercifully slit his throat.
In the cult’s lair they discovered an unfortunate fellow trussed up in a corner; this was Veteran-Prestidigitator Mijiltur the Elf (m Elf 1st level Fighter/1st level Illusionist), who claimed to have been the last remaining survivor of another party of adventurers who stumbled upon the cult. He was asked, “You remind us of our slain friend. Would you care to join us?” And he did.
At first underwhelmed by the cultist’s 32 electrum pieces, they were better rewarded by the discovery of two healing potions and, potentially, a magic item, when it was realized that the cult leader’s staff might be a snake staff! They also took the daggers, mace, unholy symbol, and the black robe of the leader, to perhaps use later in a disguise, if necessary.
After looting the cultists the party decided to try the “old way” on the door that Exior died trying to open; to their chagrin, they discovered it was the lair of 10 giant rats. After much grinding, slicing, and dicing (during which Jalden earned the epithets “Mr. Meat Snack” and “Tasty Bacon”), the rats were dead. It was decided to finally loot the three rooms; the rat room contained dead rats and rat feces, the skeleton room was empty, and the ghoul room had several sarcophagi, one of which was filled with 200 platinum pieces!
Wulfgar thought it was best to leave at this point; most were wounded, a few badly so, and most of the cure spells of the clerics were long used. 2000 gp in platinum was a worthy treasure! But no, it was decided to try at least one more door…
It’s ALWAYS that door too far, isn’t it?
The party fortunately went back to the Ding Dong Ditch tactic for the fourth room… when Mijiltur (“He of the 19 Dex”) kicked in this door and ran, something… very… bad… followed. A black cloud of clicking, buzzing beetles, a huge swarm of flesh-eating scarabs!
Everyone else was confused at the sound and the sight of the black cloud, but Wulfgar, who, prior to his days as an adventurer worked as a bear-baiter and animal trainer, knew a Bad Thing when he saw one. “RUN!” was all he cried as he bolted, dragging the torch boy and pack boy with him. And the party ran… though only most of them followed him. Raylin, Jalden, Quickleaf, Jace, and Fin ran to the north-western exit, while the others followed Wulfgar to the south-western exit closest to the known exits. He and the main party made a beeline for the Ruined Temple, where they pulled up the stake and slammed the door shut behind them…
The others had rather more trouble, as the swarm descended on them (karma, really, as they thought that being the smaller group, the bugs would follow the OTHER guys); droves of beetles ripped bits of flesh off of them, the unarmored Jace and Cur the Dog taking the worst of it. As they decided finally to follow Wulfgar’s lead, they turned down the corridor paralleling the Grand Chamber and out popped four zombies from secret alcoves! Desperate battle ensued. Fin turned three of the zombies; Jace and Raylin took the opportunity to flee further down the corridor after the zombies, while Quickleaf and Jalden were stuck fighting the fourth. The beetles followed the ranger and magic-user; Jace fell under the bites of countless beetles, and Raylin fled back into the Grand Chamber when he saw the door had been slammed shut!
The swarm followed Raylin; the rest of the party, in the Ruined Temple, counted heads and realized they were missing several companions! Said companions, minus Raylin, made their way to the Ruined Temple, and there again encountered the zombies cowering against the door; they made short work of these, then pounded on the door begging exit. Raylin fled into the Room of Dead Rats, slamming the door behind him just in time to cut off the swarm…
The rest of the party was allowed in the Ruined Temple, quickly, and then they waited a while to see if Raylin would follow. Soon he did, as he cautiously checked the door to see if the swarm had left, which it had. He then ran at speed to the Ruined Temple, and gained entrance, dragging the stripped bones of Jace behind him.
It was decided, finally, it was time to leave! The trip out of the dungeon and back to Shady Hollow was uneventful…
Monster Slain: 8 Rot Grubs, 8 Skeletons, 3 Ghouls, 5 Cultists, 10 Giant Rats, and 4 Zombies.
Treasures Won: 32 ep, 200 pp, two potions of healing, and a snake-headed staff that MIGHT be magical; also recovered 2100 gp in gems and 185 gp from Exior’s body and 76 gp from Jace’s body. Ellan paid the party 402 gp for Jace’s spell book, and Mijiltur paid the party 200 gp for Exior’s spell book. Total Value: 4,998 gp.
XP Gained: 2,668 total
Comrades Lost: Exior the Mysterious (Cut down by Cultists), Jace du Rush (Eaten Alive by Beetle Swarm).