The party hunkered down in the Jailer’s quarters, deciding what to do. While some wanted to leave the bugbears Ark had tricked alone, the group decided it was best not to leave any witnesses. A clever ambushed was devised, relying on Wonnilon’s former prisoner status and the bugbears’ belief Ark was an underjailer, and the party dispatched them quickly. While several party members looted the bodies and scouted the area, Blars, Valen and Shecky, against Gabriel’s wishes, crossed the hallway to a room with a large pit, and we promptly caught in a trap which dumped Valen & Shecky into the deep, smooth-walled pit, which was soon filled with a huge swarm (hundreds) of ravenous giant rats. They were rescued after a few rounds of yelling for help, but not before taking a good deal of damage from rat bites. After their rescue, again against Gabriel’s wishes, the party filled the pit, still teeming with rats (eating the bugbear corpses they’d flung in), with oil and lit it, burning hundreds of rats alive – the hallways echoed with their screaming.
The group fanned out to explore more of the immediate area of the dungeon. As they came upon a huge, dark room lit only by phosphorescent mold, they heard approaching footsteps. Once again, Ark took matters into his own hands, leading the patrol of guards who’d come to investigate the noise of the buring rats on a chase, allowing the rest of the party to attack with surprise from the rear. They took all 10 guards, including their leader, in a quick battle, and burnt the bodies as they’d done with the bugbears (again, despite protests from Gabriel). Most notably, Schlomo layed in a great slaughter with Biter (and, upon rolling a nat 20 and doing massive damage, found himself partially healed by the carnage), and Ark defeated the leader single-handedly, managing to avoid death by sword.
The guard leader was kept alive for interrogation. The party got little information from him, apart from knowledge that he worked for the Earth temple, that the party dare not defile the temple itself, and that all adventurers who enter the temple have been killed by him and his guards. More telling was the conflict between Gabriel and Schlomo (who kept poking the prisoner with Biter) and Gabriel and Blars when, at the conclusion of question, Blars bashed-in the defensless guard leader’s head, killing him. After an angry confrontation between Gabriel and Blars, the party proceeded to the Earth temple.
At the NW doorway to the massive Earth temple and it’s central, packed-earth pyramid, the party paused to decide what to do. Unsurprisingly, while they discussed, Ark slipped into the room, slinking along the wall, in an attempt to cross to the far NE door. Wonnilon followed. Gabriel begrudgingly followed as protection (group1). Schlomo, Valen, Shecky and Blars stepped only a few feet into the room and waited (group2).
Once group1 was about 30ft into the room, four huge earth elementals rose up out of the thick soil, one near each corner of the room. The elemental in the NE corner of the room was very near group1. The elemental in the NW corner was very near group2. Ark charged-up his staff and threw it at the NE elemental (and missed), he then bolted out of the room to the NE exit. Gabriel, without the movement to exit the room, sprinted to the pyramid to retrieve the bronze box there (obviously a part of some ritual). Wonnilon also ran toward the pyramid, but was struck by the NE elemental and knocked unconscious with one blow. In the NW corner, Schlomo engaged the elemental to provide cover for group2. Blars surrounded the elemental with a wind wall, hoping to confine the thing with an opposing element. Shecky retreated to the NW hallway, as did Blars. Valen and Ulo crept stealthily along the W wall heading south to another door.
Then everything went pear-shaped. Valen, who was apparently not stealthy enough to fool an Elemental, was crushed in just a few hits from the SW elemental. Gabriel rescued Wonnilon and got him (and the bronze box, which contained a bronze hammer, a small bowl and a bronze knife) to Blars, who healed the gnome. Ark retrieved his staff and, racing at top speed, investigated the two small rooms in the south wall. Ulo dragged Valen to safety while Gabriel distracted the SW elemental – Gabriel was crushed by the beast in the process. Schlomo continued to battle the NW elemental using the bronze hammer found in the bronze box, with little effect.
Blars healed Gabriel, and the party was about to retreat when Ark and Shecky discovered that blood dripped atop the pyramid caused the Elementals to stiffen to attention. This changed the game to a fast-paced game of cat & mouse: Ark, Shecky and Valen racing between the pyramid and the doors, exploring the room, Schlomo hammering away at the semi-defenseless NW Elemental with the bronze hammer and doing massive damage with each blow, thanks to the hammer’s assumed enchantment, and Gabriel leading the remainder of the party across to the NE door and into the hallway, all the while doing their best to avoid the thus-far slow-moving Elementals. Just as Schlomo destroyed the NW elemental single-handedly (not a single other player had caused damage, tho Blars’ spell had contained the beast), and celebration began, Valen (still badly wounded) went one last time to the top of the pyramid. At this point, about 1 minute of combat had passed. As he squeezed blood from his palm, all three remaining elemntals sunk rapidly into the earth, zoomed to the base of the pyramid, huge, racing mounds of earth showing their passage, and rose up at the perimiter of the pyramid, rippling arms reaching toward the pyramid top. Valen scrambled back to the NE exit.
The party regrouped in the NE hallway. The elementals remained ringed around the pyramid. The group argued – Schlomo, Valen and Ark argued that, now that they presumably knew the Elementals’ weekness for blood, they could (and should, given their geas) kill the remaining three. Gabriel and Blars argued against risking it – they were down on spells, and this new movement from the elementals to the pyramid was very disturbing. Shecky, in the meantime, peeked around the corner just a bit investigating the new hallway.
Ultimately, the party decided not to try and take on the remaining elementals. Still, Schlomo and Ark were very keen to see what happened when the bronze hammer was used against the incredibly dense, weighty stone Ark had found in the SE storage room filled with different kinds of earth and strange pebbles. Despite Gabriel’s vehement opposition, Schlomo decided to risk it, and raced across the big room at full speed. Schlomo easily reached the room. He smashed the bronze hammer down on the stone with all his might … shattering the hammer. Still, Schlomo could not help but believe the stone was important, so he hefted the 8 inch diameter, 250lb stone and began to carry it slowly back to the party. But as soon as he set foot on the deep soil, the SE elemental charged, lightning fast. Schlomo dropped the stone, which sunk deep into the earth, and ran, but did not have the speed – the elemental caught him and, with a crushing blow, rendered him unconscious.
Unwilling to leave Schlomo to die, Blars raced into the room, chased by the NE elemental. He reached Schlomo. With help from Ark, he healed Schlomo. Ark raced back to the NE hallway to save himself. As all three elementals closed in, it was all Blars could do to pull Schlomo, barely conscious, into the SE room and throw the thick ironwood door shut.
Gabriel, Valen, Shecky, Ulo and Ark, all wounded and nearly out of spells, crouched in the NE hallway, while two Earth Elementals resumed their patrols of their areas (NE and SW corners, respectively), and the SE elemental crashed angrily against the wall and SE door. Blars and Schlomo, each badly injured, huddled in the tiny room filled with earth and pebbles.
Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 14 hours