The party awoke without having been bothered through the night, though some of them had been troubled by dreams of fire and death, and a heavy cold greyness that seemed to leave them dull and listless. Lune had slept well, though his physical appearance had deteriorated significantly (Charisma 3) After some healing and other activities, they set out, passing the Lich scarecrow and coming to the weirdly-shaped humming room. Here, Perudo cast silence on a coin and then Jimmy cautiously walked into the room. The spell apparently worked, as he was able to walk to the far end without any negative results. But, after a brief and unfruitful search for secret doors, he returned to the others before the spell wore off.
The young thief now slipped to the secret door leading back into the black marble hall, He peered out carefully and could see a slight glimmer of reflected firelight coming from the far end of the hall, from outside somewhere. He slipped quietly down the hall as the others waited behind but, as he neared the end of the hall, he made a bit of a scuffing noise. As he slipped quickly back behind some of the monk statues, he saw a human guardsmen with a torch come up to the entry of the hall. The man did not enter, but did peer about for a moment, clearly having heard the slight noise. He looked for a moment, then turned back too the south and disappeared. Jimmy slipped forward again, this time without making noise. He could now hear two of the guards speaking quietly in their unknown foreign tongue (Angren, presumably, the language of the Sea Empire) . They were clearly sentries of some sort, stationed near the recently ransacked treasury. And they were clearly very alert.
Jimmy returned to tell his tale. The party now spoke a bit and decided that, with the death of Pandemonious, they needed further help, and the only possibility of it might come from the dungeon they’d passed through previously; so there they would go next. Then, he and Perudo slipped back to the entrance once more. Perudo then came around the corner and cast hold person on the two guards before they could react. Both were frozen. To the north, the party could see another torch with two distant figures by it, and what looked to be another torch much further north. As it was clear the dwellers here were alert to their presence. Jimmy slipped down quietly to the two men, mindful to avoid being silhouetted for the others to the north. He then quietly slew the two guards and propped them up so the distant guards would not notice anything amiss. There was some consideration for trying the door across from the black hall, but the position of the torches made it problematic.
So, the party now reformed and began to walk up en masse towards the next set of sentries, coming more or less single file to hide their numbers. As soon as they came in range, Perudo cast his second hold person, freezing one in place. As the other started to realize what was happening and turned to run or warn his fellows, he was shot down by Wulfric and Jimmy. Far beyond was a third torch with a pair of guards, who seemed to notice the noise, but before they could do anything, the party had picked up the slain guard and “walked” him back to his post and propped him up; the held one was also slain and propped up. This ruse would not hold long, but it gave them a little time to proceed.
They now backtracked through the series of workrooms and storage spaces they’d come through previously, all unoccupied. They moved slowly and as quietly as they could, hoping to avoid a pitched fight that would bring the whole place down on themselves. Eventually they came up into a passage that Jimmy was sent to scout. Far to the north was another torch and pair of guards. A side passage to the west opened into a room where Jimmy spotted six skeletons standing motionless, which had not been there when they came this way previously. And, to the east, where they’d fought their way through a few guards previously, there was more torchlight reflecting. Peeking, Jimmy could see more skeletons, but also hear multiple voices around the corner. They seemed nervous from their tone.
The party was not worried about the distant guards (they were too far to see them), and decided to make a bold dash into the guard room, as they needed to pass that way. Rushing in, they found five guards and a half dozen skeletons; two of the guards were focused closely on the passage and stairs down to the lower level (which the party had come up previously). The guards rushed to attack, their sergeant barking orders in their own language. A few seemed to be trying to break through the party, likely to warn their fellows. The skeletons also joined in the fray, though Perudo sent them scurrying down the stairs and out of the melee before he was stunned by a blow from a guard. The guards were soon slain, though, except the last one who surrendered. This one clearly pleaded for his life, so the party pointed t the stairs down and motioned him to go — he did, rapidly.
They now made their way into the prison, though when Wulfric burst through the door, a pair of waiting guardsmen struck at him (they were clearly waiting in ambush). but, they were both quickly slain. The party now took stock of the various prisoners in their cells, of which there were several men, one of the ghoul-men, and the body of a woman. The prisoners were:
– a wererat, who seemed to recognize or at least notice Lune and made his way to him, until he was stopped by Wulfric, thereby revealing his character as he clawed at the Paladin to get at the half-orc (slain by Wulfric), and clearly under the influence of the finger of Kavkaz;
– a cleric of Magnus, one Xarxen, who’d obviously been tortured badly. He claimed to be from a rival sect, and had been abducted and tortured for information on his own sect, which was an enemy of the Blood Monks, he said. Though evil, and also a follower of Magnus like the monks here, he said he was willing to work with the party in exchange for a chance to escape. When told of the Aspergillum, he seemed a little uncomfortable, but said he was willing to help steal it, as it would gravely hurt this sect;
– a guardsman of the monastery, one Filos. Though he did not speak Common, Xarxen translated for him. He said he expected to be executed for minor offenses and was also willing to aid the party for a chance to escape. He would provide a good deal of information about the monastery.
– another cleric, this one of Maladominus, one Aial Askabad. He claimed he’d come to proselytize in the Sea Empire but been taken and given over to the monks for some foul fate. He was more than willing to join the party, especially given that they told him they were sanctioned by the Holy See.
The human female was dead, having clearly died quite recently; a speak with dead spell revealed nothing of any particular use. The other prisoners did not know who she was, but said that since the party came through the dungeon two days previously, they’d not been fed or given water, and she must’ve died in the interim. The party now provided sufficient healing to allow the released prisoners to move without aid (the ghoul-like Servitor, as Filos named them, was not freed). Filos also told them that the entire complex was alerted to their presence, though they clearly thought the party had retreated to the lower levels where, he said, dwelt many of the Servitors but also a great many unnamed and deadly monsters that they’d been told made that approach by intruders almost impossible. The monks and guards, he said, were usually complacent (he referred to the monks as “lotus chewers”) but had slowly gotten organized for defense, it appeared. To the north was the barracks for this level, while to the northwest was a staircase up, which the party wanted to find. The only bad news he had for them was when they discovered that the guard they’d allowed to escape downward would certainly run into the Servitors and could alert them of the party – worse, there were monks down below, he believed. Oh, and they learned that the enemy knew of their boat and had apparently sent Servitors to destroy it – their plan of escape seemed problematic now.
The party now move quickly to avoid that possible trouble and headed up towards the barracks, deciding to take it out en route to the stairs. Filos pointed out two doors, one was a monk’s quarters, he said, and another was a place the monks would enter regularly, but no guard was allowed to ever pass. As they approached the two guards with torches they’d seen earlier, they decided to send Filos up to lull their sense of security. However, apparently the guard decided that he could redeem himself by a heroic action, and Filos tried to warn the two guards. The party saw what was happening and shot him down, as well as one of the other guards. The last one fled into the barracks, clearly raising the alarm. The party moved to block egress and a brief attack by guards with spears failed, so they fell back. But, the party could not stand there forever, as time was against them, so they eventually attacked and finally wiped the guard force out (it was clearly far less in number here than usual, as many were assigned to stand sentry throughout the complex). During the fight, Perudo tried his wand of wonder for the first time, with the unfortunate result of sounding an extremely loud bell for a time, so loud as to make speech impossible. A quick search revealed no other exits from the barracks, and the party considered where to go next.
– Experience: carried over.