The party stood around the trap door in the tower barracks, contemplating their next move. Valen and Gabriel interrogated the prisoner – a scrawny, underfed human who quickly gave up all he knew. The party learned that:
1) The guards changed posts only once every 7 or 8 days, and this guard platoon had been in the tower for only a day
2) The guards were swapped-out (along with provisions) over land, through the front door. They used to use the tunnel, but can’t anymore since the tunnel collapsed.
3) The temple was comprised of five separate churches (fire, water, earth and air – who did not get along well and squabbled and fought for position – and a neutral “temple” faction, who worshipped “the Lady” but took no part in the squabbles of the other churches).
They gagged the guard again and talked over what they’d learned. Given that the guards weren’t due for a change for 6 or 7 more days, it might be possible they could rest and make an assault on the Temple from the tower here. The talk of the collapsed tunnel unnerved them, though. If the tunnel he was talking about was through that trapdoor, Captain Samton may not have escaped at all, but may simply be lurking in the collapsed tunnel below. No one could agree on whether that was better or worse. Finally, given Shecky’s state and their general lack of all spells and other firepower (save swords), they decided to use the rest of their healing ability, set double watch and rest. Gabriel and Schlomo took first watch.
Less than two hours into the first watch, Gabriel heard a soft scraping from below the trapdoor. Upon listening, it sounded like someone shovelling dirt. He woke the party, who decided that, since it was only one man, it couldn’t hurt to investigate. They opened the trap door and stared down into the darkness. No sound came from below. They dropped a torch into the hole. It landed 30 feet below and stayed lit, illuminating a portion of a dirt-floored room. Ark decided to head down the ladder first, stealthily. After clearing the first ten feet, the ladder separated from the wall (it’s moorings having been dug out), and, as Ark began to fall, the trap door (which had been rigged with a close-rope no one noticed) was pulled shut. Above, Gabriel and Schlomo saw Ark land on the ground, mostly rolling to avoid injury, just as the trapdoor slammed closed. Immediately, Gabriel and Schlomo were joined by Valen, who began pulling on the trapdoor, which had been somehow fastened shut.
Below, Ark heard a scraping sound of rope on metal, and then a sharp intake of air. He turned just as Capt. Samton emerged from the shadows, moving with uncanny speed, and swinging a huge dark blade which shimmered and seemed almost to disappear in the shadows. The blade gouged into Ark’s side, causing massive damage, and rendering Ark immediately unconscious.
Above, Valen, Gabriela and Schlomo succeeded together in wrenching the trapdoor open, just in time to see Ark’s legs as his limp body was dragged out of sight through a pool of blood, and the torch they’d thrown down was extinguished. With the ladder dislodged there was no easy way down into the dark. Valen began anchoring a rope to lower himself down. Garbriel, instead, simply lept into the hole, rolling as best he could with the damage as he crashed, prone, onto the ground. Shecky, looking to add light into the hole and distract the assailant, cast a light spell upon their prisoner’s belt, and Schlomo threw him into the hole as well. The terrified guard’s back snapped as he landed on Gabriel, but he lit the room brightly.
Captain Samton shot out of the shadows again and jammed his wicked black blade between Gabriel’s shoulders as Gabe struggled to regain his feet, again causing massive damage, which he barely survived. He rose to face off against Samton. As Valen lowered himself carefully into the pit (followed by Shecky), Schlomo climbed down the ladder to where it broke and flung himself at Samton. Between them, they managed to kill Samton, who appeared to have been jacked-up on a speed potion. Schlomo took Samton’s dark-hued bastard sword (which whispered it’s name to him – “biter"), and Gabriel took Schlomo’s old +1 longsword. Other items were found on the captain’s body, including a Mithril Shirt, which Valen claimed.
When the battle was over, the party found that Ark was not merely unconscious, but completely dead. After a brief debate, they gathered Ark’s body and rushed back to Nulb, in hopes that Y’dey could resurrect him. They reached Nulb and found that Y’dey was willing to do so, for the greater part of their wealth, and only if they agreed to be geased into a quest to defeat the evil elements brewing at the temple or die trying. The party agreed, and after a long night of prayer and magic, Ark was revived, though there appear to be a handful of side-effects of the resurrection.
The party returned to the temple grounds to find the tower much as they’d left it (they’d been gone about 24 hours). With 5 days left before the guards were to be changed, they excavated the collapsed tunnel under Blars’ direction, creating a passage through the rubble which led to a long tunnel. They followed it, and at the end emerged into a complex of tunnels below the Temple. Valen, Ulo, Ark and Shecky scouted ahead in the tunnels until they heard the cries of someone being tortured. At Gabriel’s insistence, they followed the screams to a torture chamber, where a human and a bugbear were torturing a human prisoner on a rack, with two human females and two orc prisoners awaiting the same fate in separate cells. When diplomacy failed, the party attacked, making swift work of the torturers. However, the battle was not over. As Gabriel worked to free the prisoner from the rack, and Schlomo freed and subsequently hit-on the captured females (who returned his affection with grateful kisses), Blars rushed to the orc cage, broke the lock with his mace and, despite their being unarmored, attacked them! Despite Valen and Shecky’s attampts to hold him back, he killed one prisoner in cold blood. Gabriel and Schlomo stepped into the fray. Ultimately, Blars was calmed only after Gabriel punched him repeatedly in the face. The orc was calmed as well, and agreed to escort the humans out of the dungeon, but before he left, he vowed revenge on Blars for the murder of his brother. Ark watched them all escape into the maze of tunnels, while Gabriel berated Blars, Shecky looted the bodies, Valen fed Ulo from the corpses and Schlomo regaled the group with stories of his (moments before) sexual conquests. The party decided they should don the cloaks they’d taken from the Moathouse – black, emblazoned with a fiery elemental eye. The cloaks, having been kept in the Box of Holding, smelled faintly, unpleasantly of meat.
The party then struck out again into the maze, stumbling upon a group of prison cells. Most were unoccupied, but in one they found and rescued an outgoing, charismatic gnomish adventurer called Wonnilon, who offered to join the party. Ark armed him with his short sword +1 (for which Wonnilon was very grateful), and they continued their exploration.
The party then came upon a room where they heard bugbear voices. Ark motioned for the party to wait while he entered. Through sheer force of personality and clever revealing of his scarred features (and the stupidity of the bugbear guards), he silently convinced the bugbears he was the new assistant to the torturer/head jailer. He passed through the chamber and into the jailer’s private quarters unmolested. Inside, he found a secret door (which allowed him to let the rest of the party in), as well as a stash of the jailer’s possessions, including Wonnilon’s lost adventuring gear.
Inside the jailer’s quarters, the party paused. They had some time until the slaughtered tower guards would be found, and perhaps less time until the killed jailer and his assistant were recovered. What to do next?
Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 16 hours