29th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Not wanting to continue lingering in the hall they thought that they might be able to take a rest in Lareth’s office, hoping that it was still somewhat secure. Moving that direction while applying a little bit of healing they found that all the heavy secure doors that they had left behind had all been ripped from the hinges and only broken pieces of wood left behind. Dancer took a small foray into some of the tunnels and found that it was just a nest of narrow somewhat freshly dug out passageways.

With ISAC continued to scout ahead finding blood splattered hallways.  The walls and floors covered in claw marks the way forward proved to be gruesome, although oddly enough, no bones or anything else in the hallway besides the dried blood.  Continuing forward he found more holes in the walls, more warren tunnels and eventually through one passageway he was able to see it led to a much larger room. Updating the party, they gathered around to do some strategizing.

Having dithered sufficiently long enough, more of the ravening ghouls came running out of another hole nearby racing to attack the party.  Once again, while individually they were not very tough, but the constant waves of them was wearing out the party somewhat rapidly, especially since they seemed very intent on those that were more wounded than those less wounded, in fact they seemed to be in more of a frenzy with their attacks when blood was exposed.

Ravening Ghoul

Starting down the corridor toward the office they attempted to move as silently as possible, but with both Angelica and Vladimir clad in plate armor, that was difficult. Trying to avoid to anything within the cavern, ISAC snuck passed to the office finding that its door had always been removed forcibility.  In fact, every door that had been there had been removed. With his immediate scouting complete, he informed the group of what he found. They were concerned that they had only found ghouls and no sign of the missing dwarven soldiers.

Deciding to poke the nest they knew about, they hoped to decrease the number of ghouls they could encounter later on. Yllanys and Dancer snuck forward to look closer into the room.  Taking a peek in the large cavern to one side they were able to see that it was filled with blood, bones, many carcasses of undefinable creatures, and a large mass of the ravening ghouls. Perhaps being surprised at the size of the cavern, or the quantity of ghouls, Yllanys stepped on a small bone breaking it and causing everything in the room to immediately look at him. Dancer leaped in front to defend, the ghouls swarmed forward and fighting a retreating battle with a small Thunderstep jump they led the ghouls back to the party and a massive combat ensued in the hall.

Sometime in the middle of the battle more ghouls showed up in the rear as well as attacking the middle of the group from another tunnel. While it seemed hours of effort it was only but a couple of minutes before the battle was completed.  Now with everyone heavily wounded and needing some rest, the shifted most of the bodies to one side to provide an escape route and then they started moving to the office.  On the way more ravening ghouls came running of a tunnel and engaged the group once again. With so few this time, they were dispatched quickly so the party was able to move into the office.

The office had been destroyed and there were two tunnels leading out from it.  Moving all the furniture into the two tunnels as far back as they could, hoping that this would provide enough of a barricade to warn them, or better, keep the little mouthy ghouls away. While the furniture was being moved around Dancer wandered down a few of the passageways to see what was immediately near them.

Vladimir used the time to send a few messages with his Book of Notes.

“Quite infested, making our way through. No dwarves yet.”

“Quite infested, making our way through. No dwarves yet.”

“Infested with what?”

“Undead ghouls”

“That is very bad – have you encountered a leader ghoul?”

“No, what is that?”

“Larger warrens will have a leader in a dug-out cavern.”

“May have found cavern. Will update tomorrow.”

“Yes”

They shifted into watch mode with each group trying to keep aware of anything happening.  During most of the watches they could hear dragging and eating noises from the corridor where they had left all the bodies. As the watches passed, the noises slowly got closer to the room, but those on watch wisely kept out of sight and were not discovered.  It seems that the large piles of dead ghouls they had left behind was enough of a distraction to occupy the rest of the ghouls that had wandered by.

Besides the somewhat constant noise of bodies being dragged are chewed on, the long rest was somewhat uneventful.

30th of Kythorn of the year 1492

It was about 2am when the party completed their rest and wanted to make some progress on finding the Dwarves.  With the information Vladimir had gotten they knew that they most likely would need to go into the warrens more and seek out a possible ghoul leader.  With the long rest also came some growth with most of the party members as well as new capabilities.  One of those was that ISAC could finally manifest Keirin after all this time and having frequently mentioned him.  Using Dancer and Keirin to explore a bit more of the area they found another large cavern with ceilings over 50 feet high and something disturbing on the other side.

In the heart of the cavern, your eyes are immediately drawn to a figure seated upon a throne constructed from bones, a macabre monument to her victories. She radiates an imposing aura of sovereignty, cloaked in shadows that seem to ebb and flow around her form. Her skin is eerily pale, casting a luminescent glow in the faint light emanating from the lichen-covered walls. Her eyes, imbued with a chilling intelligence and a malevolent gleam. Her fingers, slender and reminiscent of skeletal hands, are poised elegantly on the throne’s armrests, each movement she makes is imbued with a dark grace.

Surrounding her, four towering guardians stand in silent vigil, their visages a grotesque blend of the human and the monstrous. Their mottled grey skin stretches over robust forms, and their eyes shine with an unyielding loyalty to the figure on the throne. Clad in patchwork armor forged from the remnants of battles past, they present a formidable front, a clear warning of the violence they’re capable of unleashing. Despite their fearsome appearance and battle-scarred gear, they move with a purpose unified by the will of their sovereign.

With the party hiding in a passageway leading to the large cavern only Keirin attempted to start approaching, but the rest were not as silent as they had hoped, and a voice rang out to them.

“Ah, so the living dares to tread within my realm,” she muses aloud, her tone laced with mockery. “You stand now in the court of shadows, where life and death converge. Tell me, mortals, have you come seeking power, redemption, or is it perhaps the folly of heroism that compels you?”

“Do not think me unkind,” she continues, her voice a whisper that carries a palpable chill. “For I offer you a choice—serve me in life or serve me in death. Decide quickly, for my patience, unlike my reign, is not eternal.”

The party moved into the cavern, and it was revealed to be larger than they had thought with the floor in multiple tiers of height first going down a couple of levels, and then up again to a higher tier than where they entered where the ghoul queen and her guardians were watching.  Because of the distance, only ISAC could see her and describe what he saw.  The rest could only squint hoping to catch a glimpse of what he described. A small amount of banter occurred until ISAC noticed that she had a plate in her hands.  A plate full of small thick worms things.  It was a plate full of Dwarven fingers.

Ghoul Queen

Shield Ghouls

Thinking there was not any room for negotiation, he began the attack with the party trying to get to the other side and be able to inflict some damage to the unseen foes.  She was able to drop in a Phantasmic Death spell on the entire party damaging most of them and causing Keirin to be forced from this plane and back to his resting place. Angelica brought out her Driftglobe and lit up almost the entire cavern with daylight.  Unlike some of the other ghouls they had encountered, these did not seem to be bothered but the bright light, but it had at least provided light for everyone else who could now see what they faced.

The combat was fierce and heavy, and the guardians proved to be much tougher than expected and it seemed that they were able to shield her from any spell and damage and took that damage in her place.  Their constant healing made them more difficult to kill quickly.  Eventually they and the queen were killed and the cage full of fingerless Dwarves were saved.  ISAC applied a little bit of healing on them to try and make sure they were not on death’s door and would survive at least another day.

From the seven Dwarves they found out that they had started with 31 soldiers but through attrition in the swamp and the attacks of the giant spiders upstairs they had suffered man casualties.  The told the party that they thought some might still be alive above since they saw spider capturing Dwarves when the ghouls had broken through and grabbed a bunch of the Dwarves.  They complained about some sort of necromancer or cleric of some type showed up and healed them so that the queen could continue dining on their fingers. The Dwarves knew that Banmin back in Red Larch would be able to heal them once they would be able to escape back to there.

Dancer and Fwoosh began the process of digging through any loot while Yllanys pointed to anything that seemed to be radiating magic.

And this is where the session ended.