At the opening of the session, the party found itself in an abandoned kitchen in the old moathouse. While healers tended to Gabriel’s wounds, the rest tossed the kitchen, finding nothing but rats. There was much discussion over tactics and what to do next: while it was clear from the tracks that Valen found in he courtyard that someone has been using the moathouse, there’s been no sign of the brigands or Lt. Paul despite the parties several somewhat noisy encounters (the spider, the lizard and the giant tick). Unsure as to what might constitute “proof” of banditry for the mayor, the party decided to continue to systematically investigate the moathouse, hoping to stumble upon something which will allow them to go back to town with proof.
Proceeding down the hallway, the party encountered the first locked door they’d seen. After knocking politely but hearing no response, the party decided to continue on into the huge audience chamber rather than bashing the door down. After examining the huge chamber with its piles of rubble for only a few moments, the party was ambushed! Only Valen was unsuprised as a group of 9 Hommlet town guards dressed in uniform (dark cloaks & leather armor), led by Lt. Paul and the archer Jon Straw, descended upon the party. With the guard bowmen (Lt. Paul and two others on crossbows, Jon Straw expertly wielding a metal-shod extra-fancy composite longbow) concealed and firing on the party from many directions, and several other bandits with melee weapons menacing the group, the party quickly found themselves in very dire straights. Shecky and Gabriel (the lightbearers at this time) were the focus of the bowmens’ onslaught, and were both reduced to low single digits in a few rounds, and the rest of the party significantly damaged as well. While Ark managed to kill one of the swordsmen, both Schlomo and Gabriel lost their weapons in the combat (a greatsword and a short spear +1 respectively), and the party was forced into self-preservation mode, fleeing through an open doorway into what appeared to be an abandoned throneroom. The party closed the doors and barred them.
Inside the room, the party found many empty bedrolls, along with bolts of fine cloth, barrels of spices, and other spoils of bandit raids, including two small lockboxes whose locks bore a strong resemblance to a key Valen and Ark remembered seeing around Lt. Paul’s neck. Shecky looked out through a hole in the crumbling wall to see two forms crouched in the bushes on the far side of the moat, while the rest of the party heard the door to the room being barred from the outside. Lt. Paul yelled through the door, telling the party that they were under arrest for banditry. He’d posted bowmen outside in case the party tried to escape through the breach in the wall. He’d also sent some of his men back to Hommlet to bring reinforcements and the mayor. According to Lt. Paul, when the mayor finds the party trapped in their hideout, surrounded by the spoils of their thieving, they’ll be lucky to only be imprisoned for life!
While Ark piled cloth and other items in front of the breach in the wall to protect from bowmen (and potentially start a fire), Blars pocketed the incriminating lockboxes and the rest of the party searched for something useful. Valen stumbled across a secret door, long forgotten, which lead to a dark, dank stairway heading downward. The party ducked into the secret door, and Valen covered their tracks and closed the door behind them. They’d escaped Lt. Paul’s trap, but escaped to where?
After descending the dank stairs 80 feet below ground, the party emerged in a small room which contained the back-side of two more secret doors. Opening one, they found more stairs down to a system of tunnels. Valen left the party and stealthily investigated the tunnels for almost an hour, finding a few branches, and in one branch an increasing light source along with several low voices speaking a goblinoid language that was neither Kobold nor Goblin. He returned to the party, where he listened at the other door and heard the sounds of sloppy crunching and chewing.
The party decided, after much discussion, to deal with the issue at hand (the chewing sounds) before further exploring the other tunnels. They popped out of the secret door, and this time the party caught a huge Ogre (in the middle of the grisly business of eating a gnome) by surprise. With the surprise advantage, the party made swift work of the ogre. Shecky found a Cloak of Elvenkind in the Ogre’s pile of rags and, after much haggling, Ark gave Shecky his Medallion of Protection so that Valen may have the magical Elven Cloak.
Then, the part heard weeping sounds from an adjoining room, where they found and freed three prisoners of the ogre (2 humans, 1 gnome) who’d been badly tortured. They claimed to be merchants (save the gnome, who was out of his mind) who were abducted by bandits clad in black, brought here and tortured for no reason they can discern. The party hid the prisoners in a safe place, and proceeded to the torture chamber, where they battled a dozen zombies in a grinding zombie slaughterfest.
The party found, in the environs of the chamber, a secret door leading further downward into smelly blackness, two locked doors, and a full-sized stairway up to (they think) the room where the battle with Lt. Paul took place. Ark decided to sneak up the stairs and take a peek around, and triggered a trap on the stairs: a huge green slime (150 or so gallons of it) poured down from the ceiling, engulfing him and filling his mouth, nose, ears, etc. etc. The party frantically tried to remove it from him as he struggled to retain consciousness and the slime penetrated into his body, dissolving him from the inside and outside. With a combination of torchfire, frost touch and water, the party was able to remove the slime after several minutes, but not before Ark was plunged deep into unconsciousness. Even after magical healing, he remained extremely weakened and scarred nearly head to toe, with his clothes in tatters and all of his hair and much skin burned away.
The party then broke into the two locked rooms, finding a huge armory for a potential small army of sinister “bandits,” including arms, armor, arrows and 70 black cloaks adorned with a fiery red and yellow eye.
The party hesitated, unsure what to do next. In the world above, dawn was approaching. Will Lt. Paul soon return with reinforcements and the mayor? Will they be able to prove their innocence? With spells and hit points running low, is it safe to rest anywhere? Who are these black-robed monsters who capture merchants and torture them without reason? Are the town guard and the black-robed denizens of the dungeon under the moathouse the same group, or two separate groups?
And, finally, how did we play an entire gaming session without the party beating Gabriel unconscious?