The party rested throughout the day in the fold of the hills where the stream flowed into the channel and down into the monastery. It was quiet throughout the day, though after finishing their rest (and Perudo praying for spells) they heard commotion in the direction of the monastery. Jimmy and Lune climbed up to a point where they could stealthily overlook the monastery and saw that a company of soldiers had arrived, perhaps 80 to 100 in total. Based on their livery, they identified them as likely imperial troops. Jimmy surmised that they were probably from one of the nearby forts they’d seen on their brief voyage around the hills. Of course, this meant that it would likely be more difficult to continue their quest.
The party now turned to the slain monk they’d brought with them I the bag of holding. Perudo cast speak with dead and asked the following questions (somewhat paraphrased) and received responses from the monk’s spirit, along with plenty of invective and threats of doom: Where is the Aspergillum? (“It is beyond the Secret Temple, in a place you cannot reach”). Where is this Secret Temple? (“It is on the First Deep”). What prevents us from reaching the Aspergillum? (“It is ‘elsewhere’ in a place detached from this reality”). Perudo also took the time to cast identify (determining 3 packets were dust of appearance – these were distributed across the party), and locate object without result.
The party decided to rest the night to further recover and to regain the spells Perudo had just cast, knowing that this would allow the arriving soldiers to do whatever it was they were going to do here. But, the next morning, it allowed Perudo to cast speak with dead once more on the slain monk. How does one actually reach the Aspergillum? (“Only the Abbot ever takes it from its place”). Describe the Abbot. (the description matched the older monk Jimmy had seen previously; his most noteworthy item carried was a gold amulet that depicted four arrows pointed inward, which the party speculated might be some means of interplanar travel allowing access to the Aspergillum from whatever pocket dimension it was hidden in/on). Describe all the ways into the Abbot’s quarters. (“I only know of the stairs up”).
Leaving the dead monk there, Wulfric dropped a rope down the waterfall chute and tied it off from above to allow for future use of this as an escape route. Descending back down, the party now saw that a group of guards had taken up position on the bridge once more, controlling the choke point. Lune slipped into the water and down the stream unseen to just by the bridge, at which point he tossed one of his remaining beads from the necklace of missiles, blasting the force. One of them remained afoot, though, but before he could act, Perudo cast hold person. This proved potentially fortuitous, as the man proved to be a magic-user, not a guard. His throat was then cut and the bodies dumped in the stream to be washed away.
The party now made their way to the level below with the idea that they would find the Abbot’s quarters to kill or capture him and figure out a way into the place the Aspergillum was kept. Scouting ahead (on the level the party decided was the First Deep), Jimmy spotted another guard force with monks, these guards the same as the monastery guards they’d fought before and not soldiers. These were bypassed as the party went south, skirting past their torchlight. They soon found a watch room with a small window looking out over the beach; the remnants of food and wine indicating it had been abandoned in haste a few days previous. Another room was clearly unused quarters, but there were no signs of the “stairs up” to the Abbot’s quarters.
They now came to another large room that was seemingly empty except for a chest n the far corner. However, when Jimmy tried to slip towards it, he ran into an invisible wall. After some probing, he came to realize that the room was filled with maze of these invisible walls of force. he started to mark them with arrows and other items as he passed through, but then came to the realization that the walls were shifting. Not wishing to become trapped, he withdrew from the room and the party now turned north to previously unopened doors.
Several revealed storage rooms with all manner of oddities of an horrific nature – one room seemed to be used for vivisection, while another contained the stored remains of various human body parts (some in jars of liquid, some dried and wrapped in cloth, etc). Ignoring these things, the party next ran into an armed servant, who proved most adept as a fighter, though he was soon slain. He had a small bottle of blackish wine, which Jimmy tried (relying on his periapt against poison). After a few moments of disorientation, Jimmy realized he could now see things no one else could see. In his heightened state of awareness, he led the party back to the shifting invisible maze and realized he could see all the walls. He quickly made his way through the maze in the room and reached the chest. He now employed Pandemonious’ dagger to check for glyphs, and did detect magic writing but at the bottom or under the chest. Opening the chest, he found a hand written note saying “Thought ye that your greed would be rewarded? None steals from the Lord of Greed, God of the Underworld!” Unsure if this was magical writing, he did a more thorough search and found three scrolls in a false bottom.
The party now turned north to head towards the stairs down, as they could not find any further places to explore on this level. Taking a mapped (but previously untraversed) corridor, the party hit a pit trap that dumped Jimmy and Wulfric down 30 feet or so into a bare room. Moments later secret doors to north and south opened and a half dozen creatures appeared and attacked (they appeared much like great, grey apes with dead black eyes, great fangs, and vestigial wings; Wulfric could sense powerful evil from them, as well). Wulfric went down unconscious quickly thereafter under the fangs and claws of the monsters, as Lune dropped a rope and Perudo held one with a spell. Jimmy, meanwhile, threw down a caltrops of evasion, filling the floor around himself with spikes and thereby limiting the ability of the things to easily reach him. But, there were still at least two near Jimmy, so he leap for the rope and shimmied away, as the howling things with their bloodied feet dragged off Wulfric into the darkness. He was not seen again.
Much shaken at the death of the paladin, the surviving three retreated towards the Lich’s lair to hide. There, they found the Lich’s corpse laid out as if in state before the statue of the revealed Magnus. Despite this, they slipped into the secret room and back into his former lair to rest and recover. Half the party was dead and the survivors were unsure if the second half would be following shortly.
– Experience: 560 XP each.