The party interrogated the guard that surrendered to find more of what the monks and their minions knew of the party. Apparently, there has been a “rain of blood” outside that had the entire monastery in an uproar of fear and confusion. They linked it with the party’s attack on them, but really had no idea what was going on, and this scared them. The guards had been warned that the intruders “came from below” and that they had likely retreated thither, but it had been feared they could return. As for information on layout, he reiterated what they’d already heard from the late Filos, that the nearby western door led to a monk’s quarters and the eastern door to a “room where only monks were permitted to enter.” Stairs to the ground level were nearby to the west. On the level below, Servitors (the ghoulish sub-humans) were also on watch for the party. Perudo, meanwhile, took the opportunity to try a locate object spell to find the Aspergillum, but without results. The party needed rest badly, many of them sore wounded and their spells nearly depleted. But, the guard barracks did not seem like a good place to remain.
The question now arose as to how to deal with the prisoner. The last one released had certainly run into the Servitors, the party knew, and had likely provided information on their numbers. Xarxen now intervened and said the choice was clear -t he guard must die, and he was happy to do it. Coming up behind him, he slew the guard and then proceeded to take his armor and shield for himself. Aial also took the opportunity to armor up. Plundering the few coins from the slain guard force, the party decided they would clear the nearby monk and examine the “forbidden” room. The monk’s room proved to be empty at the moment, though the party did acquire a few more flowers (one was strangely transparent) along with a bottle of black wine and a little brass box (which they chose not to open lest it explode on them). Xarxen looked disgustedly at the flowers – the blood monks were known to be “lotus eaters” he told them.
The other door was the one they were most interested in, as Jimmy theorized there might be some more secret way between levels for use by the monks. That door had strange writing on it, which Xarxen told them was in Ulmish, the secret language of the priests of Magnus. He told them it said “remember to be humble before the god of the underworld.” Jimmy was able to confirm this by quietly deciphering it himself. So, after picking the lock, he and Wulfric opened the door while on their knees, humbly. Inside was a sparsely furnished meeting room with no other exits, and a mirror directly opposite the door on the far wall. As the two looked around, suddenly from the mirror leapt exact images of themselves, who rushed to attack. The false-Wulfric hurled a javelin that flashed into a bolt of lightning and nearly slew Jimmy outright. This was followed by false-Jimmy rushing out to attack with a spear. False-Jimmy was soon cut down, vanishing without a trace, but false-Wulfric had entered the melee, as well. he proved quite difficult to slay. In fact, he was dealing immense damage with his sword on several in the party, who could not seem to hit him, despite his being surrounded. But, finally, Wulfric slew false-Wulfric and he also disappeared instantly.
Averting his eyes, Jimmy entered and threw his cloak of elvenkind over the mirror and the party commenced searching the seemingly uninteresting room, soon discovering a secret door behind the mirror. Beyond was a short hall and a door that opened into a small, low-ceilinged room that was decorated profusely with artwork related to Magnus (themes of avarice, ambition, death, judgment, etc) and a slight smell of exotic spices. North opened under a carved black crown into a huge hall with a higher ceiling and pillars, assumed to be a temple. Across the room, which Jimmy duck-walked across to “remain humble,” the party passed another door and into a room filled with racks of bejeweled ceremonial robes, altar service ware, and the like. A detect magic from Perudo revealed that necklace of beads and a small amulet were magic (and the black wine and small box picked up earlier also radiated very slight magic). Jimmy slashed up the robes once he realized that they were way too flashy to use as disguises, and the rest was plundered and placed in the bag of holding.
There were two doors from here, north and south, and Jimmy could her a little movement to the south. So, in the party went, finding a lone monk in his quarters. Perudo silenced the room to prevent spellcasting and the party moved in, quickly slaying the lone monk. But, in the midst of the silence, the party did not notice when a second monk came from the other door. He first cast slay living on Aial (?? I think – I might be misremembering who he did that on ??) but the spell failed to slay him, though it seriously wounded him. He also managed to get a poison spell off by touch against Xarxen, who he called an “apostate” but that, too, failed. Unable to cast further spells, he produced a flail with which he began to tear into the party. Before he was finally slain, he’d nearly killed Jimmy, Aial, and Xarxen. The party was almost uniformly in very bad condition, seriously injured, tired, and resource depleted. Plundering the rooms and bodies (Xarxen took a holy symbol of Magnus from one, while the party recovered more lotus items), they decided they would risk resting right there. There was some debate on this point, but the party decided to trust to luck. It failed them — less than two hours into their rest, a door opened as someone entered, knocking over a lit candle placed by Jimmy onto oil-soaked robes and starting a fire. The party was warned but the intruder turned and fled, surely to raise the alarm once more.
The party had to move once more. Passing around their last healing potions, they fled the monk’s quarters. As they passed the small room, Jimmy quickly scouted north while Lune used his superior dark vision to look north, realizing that indeed that way was a huge temple to Magnus. not seeing any doors, the party returned to the corridors and decided to make a rush at the stairs up. out in the corridor, they met a group of five guards — Wulfric hurled his javelin of lightning at them, blasting them all. Passing the bodies, the party made for the hoped-for stairs up, only to run into more guards and a monk. The latter then nearly destroyed the party for good, for he cast hold person and Askabad, Xarxen, and Perudo (all three clerics) became paralyzed. The remaining party members attacked the cleric to prevent further spell casting, but more guards were coming. Lune used one of his few remaining fireballs from the necklace of missiles to kill a number of them. But, even with the enemy temporarily cleared away, there were only three men standing and three paralyzed.
The first north passage they followed led them past a waterfall that fell vertically form the center of the ceiling of an octagonal room right into a pit in the floor. this was followed by an ossuary of immense size, with skeleton piles perhaps 15-16 feet high, the room threaded by extremely narrow passages. A quick check revealed no other egress from the room. Moving back then still further west, they at last found the stairs up. Climbing quickly with their burdens (who began to recover now), they found a passage north and one east — the latter led to a bridge over a stream upon which more guards were stationed, so the party went north. now more than ever they needed rest and recovery. Things had become so desperate that they gave a potion of invisibility they’d recently found to Lune, with the understanding that he would take it at the first sign of trouble and abandon the party, who would martyr themselves so he could escape and continue the quest (wisely, Jimmy later left the Stone of Justice with his, knowing it would be needed at the end of the Crusade).
Jimmy scouted ahead down the north passage, passing a few doors until he turned a corner and discovered a number of guards at an intersection, very alert. Knowing they likely could not survive another large fight, the party fell back a little and decided to check the doors instead. The first one they tried opened to quarters for a single person, but a slight amount of dust seemed to indicate it was not used often. Here, they decided, they would try to rest, as continuing on would certainly lead to their deaths and the failure of their mission. However, first Jimmy would try to lead pursuit away from this area. Taking one of the two doses from the potion of invisibility, he returned to the level below and began to systematically lead guards to the south and east, towards the stairs down to the level below. He noted immediately that all the ones they’d slain were gone, and the guard presence had been reinforced. Hopefully, his efforts would be a success, though there was no way of returning. Still invisible, he returned to the party’s hideout and sat down outside the room to rest himself with his back to the door (fortunately, the door sat in an odd angle such that people passing would not get too close to the door, unless they were going to enter it). As he sat there, periodically guards, messengers, and even monks passed to and fro, clearly agitated and all with weapons in hand. Meanwhile, Lune sat in the room with the potion of invisibility to hand for use in the last extremity…
– Experience: 4350 XP each
– I must say, quite the dramatic night! Kudos on avoiding the two or three potential TPKs!!! But, there’s always next weekend! (I believe at one point 4 people, including Xarxen, were down to 3 HP or less).