Adventure Date: September 20, 2008
Last Updated: November 25, 2008
The group huddled in the hallway and assessed their situation. The hallway moved east, and a rhythmic clanging could be heard coming from the direction they wanted to progress. Padriac and Ewart, Swan's new "friends", were secured in a stable; otherwise, there were no other signs of life.
Kilzadi clutched his shoulder. "Brother, I bleed." Gideon removed a feathered barb and gently brushed his shoulder with his magical wand. Immediately, the bleeding stopped and the wound closed. Kilzadi tested his range of motion. Though a little stiff, his arm was serviceable.
"Time to take a quick look-see around." Swan quietly padded off down the hall, melting into the shadows. She hadn't moved very far when she reached the juncture of a four-way intersection. The passageways stretched out to the four cardinal points. To the south, she could see a stairway leading down into the bowels of the fortress. To the north, there seemed to be an armory, but she couldn't get a good look at it. Partway down the hall, a half-wall blocked her view. With no signs of life, Swan continued her exploration.
"Where is everybody?" She continued east and the hallway became a T-intersection. Glancing north and south, the hallways continued in both directions. The only difference was that they were lined with many doors. Not desiring to abandon her companions again (in case they needed her help), Swan doubled back and quickly described the lay-out that she had seen.
"The armory might be a good place to set up a starting point for our explorations," Okul mused. "The half-wall would be easier to defend and would limit the number of opponents that we would face at once." As they entered the armory, they noticed racks of weapons and armor lining the walls. Parts of unfinished armor and weapons were piled neatly on the floor, as well as what appeared to be a pile of damaged equipment. The party spread out to examine the area, as well as restock any used ammunition. Neon, curious about the staircase to the south, moved to explore it further, dragging Risca along.
Neon called Gideon over to the pile of damaged equipment. "What do you make of this?" he asked as he pointed at 3 suits of leather armor, torn in several places. What was most prominent on the armor were spider and elven motifs. "Drow," Gideon quickly replied. "But I don't recognize the insignia. They could represent a particular family, or perhaps a specific deity. I'll have to think on this."
Kilzadi scanned the armor and weapons for magic, and was drawn to 2 chests found near the half-wall. They seemed ordinary enough, but they were covered in magical glyphs meant to harm unwary thieves. Concentrating, he tried to determine if the chests' contents were also magical. Okul peeked over the half-wall. A smithy could be seen inside a 15' by 20' area, but it too seemed abandoned. Various items, their purpose unknown, were scattered in the area. A small bed, presumably the blacksmith's, was found on the wall farthest north.
A loud clanking noise rang out. Turning quickly, the party saw a portcullis dropping down to isolate the armory and smith area. Swan, thinking quickly, rushed forward towards the falling portcullis. Placing a spike to stop the portcullis' motion, Swan's hand was almost crushed as the spike bent and snapped. Risca rolled under the portcullis just as it slammed down. Neon, too stunned to react, was trapped on the opposite side, away from his friends. Quickly drawing their weapons, they scanned for approaching enemies.
The bed mattress flipped over as a diminutive humanoid sprang out from his hiding place. His crystal blue eyes were in stark contrast to his dark skin, tanned all the more by the heat of his furnace. Standing no more than three and a half feet, he seemed almost comical, with an oversized tinkerer's belt that held an abundance of hammers, pliers, and other tools. The crossbow he held in one hand, aimed at Okul, made the situation more serious. His other hand held a slim stick that he waved menacingly.
"Aha!" the gnome cried out in Damaran. "You are trapped in here with me now!" Except for Swan, none understand the gibberish spouting out of the gnome's mouth. "Surrender now!" The gnome's aim shifted from person to person, trying to keep everyone at bay.
Swan stepped forward. "They don't understand you, only I do!" Perplexed, the gnome focused his attention on her. "Why should we surrender to you?"
"You aren't surrendering?" He seemed embarrassed. "Ah, pooh! I can't scare anyone." Pulling himself up to his full height, he addressed Swan. "I am Jebalek. I am a mastersmith extraordinaire! All the wonders you see, I have created. Look at this," he said as he pointed at a sarcophagus. "It is my latest creation. A person is placed inside, and, as the lid closes, spikes will pierce their body. The lid can be closed quickly or slowly, though I do prefer slowly…" Swan couldn't hide the look of disgust that crossed her face. "Though I am well-respected, and well-paid, for my creations, it saddens me that I don't scare people."
"What about the portcullis?" Swan inquired. "We didn't even see the mechanism for it. It was hidden very well." Jebalek's chest swelled with pride.
"Worry not," he said slyly. "When, and if, I want to free you, the portcullis can be easily removed."
Swan could tell that Jebalek was a self-absorbed and selfish person. Playing upon those flaws, she continued to gather more information. Swan gushed, "Could you tell us a little about yourself? You are so skilled and seem so important. It's difficult to imagine why you would choose to be here, when you could be selling your gifts around the Realm."
Jebalek blushed a little, but his confident grin never left his face. "I was hired by the Captain when her band of adventurers staked this area as their base of operations." He continued to brag. "I helped to design this fortress and create its defenses. Though I am not the religious-type, I crafted the Temple of Bane found in the lower level. Its splendor is awe-inspiring."
Glancing at the heroes, Jebalek turned back to Swan. "You are not part of the Captain's troops," he stated flatly. His expression turned sour. "If you were, you wouldn't have needed to ask these questions. So, who are you?" As he spoke, Jebalek made subtle passes with his hands and mumbled under his breath. Kilzadi, though unable to follow the conversation, was watching Jebalek carefully for any sign of attack and knew he had cast a protective Shield spell over himself.
Thinking quickly, Swan replied, "We are new recruits and are seeking the commander."
Jebalek seemed to relax somewhat, though he didn't put away his weapons. "In that case, let me help you on your way." With a wave of his hand, the portcullis disappeared. Grinning again, he simply stated, "Illusion." Putting on a more conversational air, he continued. "If you are new recruits, here are some words of advice. First, don't take anything from my smithy." Though he grinned, his eyes were cold. "Second, the fiendish dogs are a nasty bunch of animals. They are smart enough to do things to infuriate you just so they can roast you for dinner. Third, Captain Malvina runs a tight operation. Never cross her. The moment you do, you are dead. If you decide to explore the fortress, try to avoid the temple area. They keep the prisoners in a dungeon found by the temple, and they don't appreciate any unplanned visitors. There are many grates and gates down there that lead to some very nasty surprises." His grin became more malicious.
Neon, unable to understand the conversation, became very bored and sauntered up to the chests. Before anyone could say anything, he started to examine the chests' traps and locks.
Jebalek's face went red. "Tell your friend not to take anything! Those are Captain Malvina's personal items!" Without giving Swan a chance to say anything, he said in an angry voice, "It is time for you all to leave." Pointing his wand at Okul, he called out gnomish words of power. His eyelids suddenly felt very heavy; Okul shook his head to clear the cobwebs and turned furiously on Jebalek.
Kilzadi, waiting for just such an event, immediately struck Jebalek with a bolt of mystic fire. The sounds of their combat rang down the fortress' passages as the party engaged Jebalek. As the battle started, Risca entered the hallway to ensure that anyone alerted to their presence would not catch them unawares. Scanning the 3 other passageways, he heard a door open and close off to the west. "Could you guys hurry up in there?" He asked. "We may have company soon." Upon hearing this, Gideon moved out into the hallway to join Risca.
Weapons slamming into him, Jebalek realized that he was outnumbered. In a desperate attempt to even the odds, he tried to cast a spell to knock out his opponents. As he closed his eyes to focus his energies, Jebalek provided an opening that Okul gladly took. Slamming him in the chest with his spear, Okul knocked Jebalek unconscious before he could release his spell.
Gideon rushed forward to tend to Jebalek's wounds. "We may need him for information. He seems to know a fair amount about this place." With that, Gideon staunched his blood loss, tied him up and then gagged him.
Swan began moving down the western hallway. "I'm going to go see who or what is banging around out there," Swan called out as she left. "I'll call if I find anything."
Back inside the smithy, Jebalek was stripped down. Jebalek had been carrying a few useful items, such as a tanglefoot bag, 3 sets of keys, as well as a magical wand. Neon also found a small metal box under his bed that held many gold pieces, as well as some gems and a pair of gem-encrusted gauntlets.
The magically warded chests proved to be more troublesome. "We have no way of knowing what spells are on these chests, and we're unable to remove them," Kilzadi pondered aloud. "We could try to open the chests and hope for the best, but that seems very reckless. Anyone who does try will have to be strong enough to resist the spells' powers…"
Risca stepped forward. "Give me the keys." Snatching them out of Neon's hands, Risca reached down and unlocked the first chest. A magical aura emanating from the chest traveled up Risca's arms and encompassed his body. The aura flared, seeming to focus on Risca's eyes, as he cried out. His eyes turned milky-white; he was blind. "Guess I wasn't strong enough," he said in a strained voice. "Ah well. Now I have nothing to lose." Before anyone could react, he opened the next chest. Another aura engulfed his eyes, but did no further damage.
"Please tell me that this was worth it," was all he said.
"It was worth it," Kilzadi replied. "Thank you for what you did." An awkward silence fell as he examined the chests' contents. The chests contained many curative and useful potions, which were passed out to everyone, as well as many scrolls.
A voice cut through the silence. "Trouble's coming!" Swan cried out.
Running to join her, the party could see she was not exaggerating. Though blind, Risca was still eager to join the fray. Neon guided Risca to battle and quickly described the situation. "From the west, fiendish wolves are rushing towards us as well as 5 humanoids. Some are human, some are half-orcs. Here's the big surprise: werewolf on the ceiling. Okul has engaged the werewolf. When I yell 'left' or 'right', that's where they're going to try to hit you. Otherwise, they are straight ahead. Got it?" Risca simply nodded. "Stay on your toes, swing your sword and we may still win this."
"Where's your optimism? You've got me on your side." Giving a wild cry, Risca moved to engage the enemy and ended up facing the wrong way. Breathing a brief sigh, Neon turned Risca by his shoulders so he could face their enemies. "Take care of him," he said to Swan.
The werewolf's claws dug into the corridor's ceiling as its legs pumped. Blood-hungry, it rushed forward to attack Okul. The plan was simple: terrorize the opponents, pin them down, and let the others tear them apart. The plan was sound, but the werewolf misjudged Okul's reach. Okul struck twice viciously with his spear, but the wounds closed almost as quickly as they were made. "I will tear your body apart and feast on the bloody remains!" the werewolf promised. His words were almost lost in his growl, but Kilzadi recognized Alzhedo when he heard it. Not understanding the language, but getting the gist of the threat, Okul remained undaunted and prepared his spear to strike again.
Kilzadi, seeing that they were outnumbered, pulled out one of his newly acquired scrolls and began to chant. Three archers toppled over, fast asleep. Moving forward to bolster Okul, Gideon struck at the werewolf with his morningstar, calling upon his deity. The werewolf, though powerful looking, proved nimble as well. With a perfectly-timed side-step, it managed to dodge the blow completely.
Seeing that their strikes weren't hurting the werewolf, Neon rushed into the hallway and launched a silver arrow at it. The silver barb ruffled the werewolf's shaggy mane and careened off the ceiling.
The fiendish wolves dashed forward and lunged at Okul and Neon. Okul, distracted by the werewolf, was badly bitten. Crying out, he lashed out with the butt of his spear to dislodge the beast. Neon proved more fortunate and was able to dodge the leaping brute.
Seeing two more soldiers, spearmen, show up, Swan realized that the entire party was needed to deal with these enemies. Swan gulped down a potion of Cat's Grace; her nerves hummed and she felt her reflexes sharpen. Grabbing Risca by the elbow, she guided him into battle.
"Swing straight ahead. Take care of these mutts!" Neon shouted to Risca. As he moved forward to gut the wolves, Risca didn't realize where his allies were situated. Okul swung his spear in a flurry to keep the werewolf and wolves at bay. Risca walked into Okul and got his head swatted. Thinking it had been an enemy, Risca became infuriated and started to swing wildly. The wolves dodged and bit at Okul and Neon, managing to bloody Okul once again.
Dropping his bow, useless at close-quarter fighting, Neon drew his rapier and slashed one of the wolves. Though its wound bled profusely, the wolf was still eager to maul these intruders.
More and more soldiers appeared at the end of the hallway. Heavily armored swordsmen, as well as lightly armored archers and spearmen crowded the area. The melee fighters ran forward to dispatch the heroes. "We've got to even the odds." With that, Swan tumbled forward and launched a tanglefoot bag at the werewolf. The bag exploded on contact, spewing out its contents. The werewolf was caught up in the sticky miasma, its legs pinned to the ceiling. Taking advantage of the situation, Okul buried his spear deep in the werewolf's guts. Giving a twist, he pulled his spear out. Okul gave a surprised grunt. The wound should have been fatal, but it seemed to close on its own! The werewolf, stung by the pain, clawed Okul's shoulder.
Drawing out another scroll, Kilzadi began his chanting anew. Focusing on the greater threat, a pair of archers and a plated soldier dropped to the floor, asleep. Okul was losing blood quickly and his motions seemed painful. Stepping up behind him, Gideon drew his slender wand and called out a word of command. Immediately, Okul felt better as his wounds started to heal.
Risca's sword struck the werewolf, but failed to pierce its thick hide. Neon was having better luck; he danced forward and slashed the wolf across its throat. Unable to even whimper, the wolf fell over, moved its legs in a feeble manner, and died. Swan nocked a silver arrow and let it fly at the werewolf. The werewolf's head snapped back as the arrow pierced its eye and embedded itself in its brain. Out of the fight, it hung limply from the ceiling. Just to be certain, she fired another silver arrow to match her first one. With an arrow protruding from each eye, the werewolf died.
Risca focused on the second wolf's panting. Using his hearing alone, he slashed down and cleft the wolf's skull. Tugging out his sword, he turned towards the other sounds of combat. The battle became more intense. A spearman lunged forward and struck Neon. Though he knew his spear had hit his opponent cleanly, there seemed to be no wound. In fact, Neon taunted him. "You misbegotten spawn of a snake, can't you hit any harder!" Seeing their allies fall to this small group so quickly unnerved the rest of the fortress defenders. A spearman broke first and began to run. Then the rest followed suit. As they turned to flee, the companions struck at them from behind. Several fell and were unable to rise. Peppering the rest with projectiles, the bowmen still managed to flee.
"We need to deal with the sleeping ones," Kilzadi said grimly.
"As well as the werewolf," Swan corrected.
As the companions dealt with their sleeping enemies, Swan cut down the werewolf so she could burn its remains. She quickly stripped down its body of anything valuable and pulled out a flask of oil. As she poured oil over its body, it reverted to a human form. He was male, and not unpleasant to look at. With a heavy heart, she struck a spark. The flames quickly devoured the lycanthrope's corpse. Kilzadi seemed drawn to the werewolf's remains. Examining his items, Kilzadi recognized the style of the werewolf's leather armor. "So, another wanderer from Calimshan. I wonder what drew him from our hot climate to this chilly land?"
Gathering interesting and valuable items from their fallen foes, the party piled them up in the smithy. Amongst the armor and weapons, the heroes' found several keys and some useful potions. "A potion of Spider Climb," Kilzadi mumbled. "So that is how the werewolf managed to run along the ceiling. Tossing it to Swan, he continued to search for other magical items.
Swan grew bored as the rest of the party made a quick inventory and healed their injuries. Moving quietly down the eastern hallway, she began to check the doors that were found in the area. Without warning, Swan felt pressure on her throat. An arm appeared, wrapped around her throat, as she felt a blade slice into her back. Even as the blade entered her, Swan twisted with its motion, negating most of the thrust. The wound burned, more than it should have, and she felt poison pumping through her veins.
"Ambush!" Slipping out of her opponents grasp, Swan turned to face a young, human female. Dressed in leather armor, her dagger dripped a sickly fluid that mixed with the crimson of Swan's blood. She seemed amazed that Swan was still standing.
As soon as they heard Swan's cry, the rest of the companions ran forward to help her. As they approached Swan, another human, dressed in flowing robes, appeared. He intoned arcane phrases and pointed in Swan's direction. A vivid cone of splashing colours sprayed from his finger, engulfing Swan and Kilzadi. Closing their eyes, they both managed to avoid getting blinded by the magical spray.
Kilzadi recognized that the wizard as the greater threat and moved to spear him with a bolt of fire. Wiping his face to clear off the dripping colours, he turned to spy the wizard pointing at him as he completed his spell. A sluggish feeling washed over him and he collapsed, asleep before his head bounced off the stone floor.
Gideon, seeing Kilzadi fall, ran to his side trailing Risca. Seeing no apparent wound, he realized that Kilzadi was under a magical sleep. Shaking him violently, Kilzadi woke with a start. Realization of what happened crossed Kilzadi's face, as well as a look of pure rage. Pushing Gideon aside, he quickly climbed to his feet and began his spell.
Seeing that the intruders weren't seriously injured or agitated by their appearance, the wizard and the thief realized they were in over their heads. Moving to escape, they were hedged in by the heroes. The wizard's reached into his pouch and tossed a small bag at Okul's feet. Even as it hit, Okul tried to jump aside. A sticky goo erupted from the bag, but its contents mostly missed the agile spearman.
Even as the bag left the wizard's hand, Kilzadi launched a bolt of fire that impaled the wizard's eye. The wizard stood straight up, impaled by the fiery missile, quivered once, and fell over dead. Desperate, the thief struck out wildly at Kilzadi, hoping to take him down with his poisoned blade and give herself an avenue to escape. The blade struck his arm superficially and its poison spewed harmlessly onto Kilzadi's sleeve.
Risca's sword clipped the thief's side, as two arrows struck her body. With a single cry, she collapsed and died.
"Who's the better shot?" Swan taunted Neon.
"You assume your arrow was the fatal one," Neon replied. "If you look closely, it was mine that did her in."
"Are you mad?!? It was clearly my arrow, buried to the feathers in her chest, that killed her." As the friendly banter continued, the rest of the party examined the two assailants.
"At least the dagger's no longer a danger," commented Okul as he examined the thief's dagger. "It seems to have run out of poison." Swan walked closer and looked at the dagger. She could see remnants of a green liquid on the blade. "I wonder if that is the poison?" she asked herself. After a quick search, they found a pair of unlabeled vials on the thief's body, one green and one white, and surmised that the green one was a poison and the white was the antidote.
"Take a look at this," Kilzadi called. "Oops. Sorry Risca." Risca only shrugged. Opening the wizard's shirt, Kilzadi exposed his elaborate tattoos which covered his body and arms. "An important member of this band, I'll wager." Finishing their search, they found several more useful items, as well as more keys.
Neon began to speak. "We've got all these keys. They must open the doors in this area where we will, no doubt, find lots of treasure!" Wringing his hands in anticipation, he sprang for the closest doors.
The first 2 rooms were non-descript, seeming to be the housing for common soldiers. The only items of interest were two leather-bound books. The next room proved more fascinating. Unable to open the door with any of the keys, Neon stepped up to unlock the door. After a few frustrating moments, Neon stepped back and cursed.
"Amateur," Swan teased. Stepping closer, she inserted her lockpick and quickly snapped it in half, leaving part of it lodged inside the lock.
"I see I stand in the presence of a master," Neon chuckled dryly. Swan's eyes threw daggers.
"I see it's up to me," proclaimed Okul. Taking two steps back, he lurched forward and slammed his shoulder into the door. The hinges began to buckle and the door hung loosely. Stepping back again, Okul repeated his lunge and burst the door.
As the door toppled, a sickly herbal smell wafted out. A quick glance showed the room filled with various arcane paraphernalia. "Jackpot!" Neon cried eagerly. After a quick search, the party found many packets of dusted jewels and other important spell components, and pocketed them all.
"Hey, another book," Gideon exclaimed. Reaching for it, he quickly opened it to peruse its contents. A streak of silver flashed by his face as a dagger flew past and embedded itself in the ceiling. "Whoa." Continuing their search of the other rooms proved most profitable. The party found more treasure and coins, which they quickly stored.
Coming upon the last door at the end of the hall, Neon stepped forward so he could have the first crack at any treasure. As the door swung open, he glanced around and saw that it was a dining area. There were four doors in the room, with two large fireplaces in the back southeast and southwest corners. There were also five large, over-turned tables with soldiers waiting behind them holding drawn bows, spears and swords. A woman at the back, in platemail, threw her arm down in a chopping motion as Neon's head poked into the room. A single, sharp twang sang as six arrows flew towards him.
Hugging the door, Neon managed to avoid all of the arrows save one, which lodged painfully into his shoulder. "It's a trap!"
Okul leaped forward and launched a burning flask of oil into the room to buy them some time. Neon followed suit with his own flask of oil and began to back away. Kilzadi and Swan moved back to the intersection in the halls, and checked for other enemies. The enemy rushed forward to swarm the party.
Opening another door, the soldiers hoped to flank the party's position. Captain Malvina shouted orders at her soldiers from the rear. "Bring me their heads!"
"They're trying to outmaneuver us!" Swan shouted. Okul dashed past Kilzadi and Swan, and set himself to meet the onslaught. His spear became a blur as it spun in his hands so quickly it hummed. Lashing out, he slashed, stabbed and slammed the charging soldiers, stopping them dead in their tracks.
"It will not end this way," Risca asserted. Stepping forward towards the door Neon opened, he braced himself to stem the tide of opponents. Surrounded by enemies, his sword lashed out repeatedly and bloodied his foes. Chanting a prayer to Marthammon Duin, Risca fought on wildly. He knew the odds were against him, but was determined to give his friends enough time to prepare a strong defense. A feral snarl escaped his lips. His lips frothed as battle-madness overtook him. Fighting even more furiously, he took many hits.
Swan was alarmed at how many opponents they faced. "This is not going well." Inspiration struck her. Running forward, she leaped past Okul and dashed towards a cluster of soldiers. Thinking she was fleeing in terror and an easy target, they swiped at her with their swords. Hurdling the first sword brought her within reach of the second. With a gut-wrenching twist, she narrowly avoided the second sword, and then was running clear down the hallway towards the stables.
"Open up, boys!" she yelled as she banged on the door to Padriac's and Ewart's hiding spot. "I need a horse as quickly as possible. The biggest one you've got!" The door swung open and the pair of stableboys led a warhorse forward. "Thanks! Now get back to your hiding spot!" Swatting the horse on the rump, Swan sent it running down the hallway back to the combat. "This should distract them long enough for us to take them down."
Swords, axes, and spears slashed viciously around Okul's head. They missed more often than not, but he bled from several wounds, some quite severe. A robed human stepped forward and shouted words of power. Glowing missiles struck his body unerringly, and Okul cried out in agony. Blinded by pain, Okul sensed motion behind him. Before he could lash out, he recognized Gideon and suddenly felt a warm, soothing sensation permeate his body. Removing his wand, Gideon stepped back and checked on his other companions.
Suddenly, a warhorse dominated Okul's field of view. Hearing the thrumming of hooves, a spearman turned back to see a rearing horse. Panicking, he struck out. Stung, the horse lashed out with its front hoof, knocking the spearman flat on his back and out of the combat. Swan dodged past the horse and engaged the enemy from behind.
Neon's and Kilzadi's missiles flew past Risca's head. He held their opponents' attention, but wouldn't last much longer. Though his blindness reduced the impact of his blows, he fought on doggedly. Pain flared in his side as a sword stabbed deeply into his torso. Gideon, seeing Risca being buried under his opponents, rushed forward to help. Calling on his deity, he tapped Risca with his wand and healed him of some of his wounds. Running back to Okul, he prepared to heal him as well.
"This is taking too long!" Captain Malvina complained. "My soldiers cannot be so incompetent that they cannot defeat a small group of interlopers!" Malvina drew her silver bastard sword and strode forward to engage Okul. "Wizard! Improve the odds."
Nodding his head, the wizard twirled his hands in front of himself, as if playing with a small ball. Suddenly, a ball of flame appeared in his hands. Throwing it at Okul, it singed the hairs off his arm as he tried to dodge it. Instead of finishing its arc, the ball stopped and reversed its direction mid-flight, and followed Okul.
Kilzadi saw the threat approaching Okul and knew he had to do something. Summoning the last of his mystical energy, he launched a fiery spear at the wizard and impaled his thigh. Yelping in pain, the wizard hobbled away and fled down a flight of stairs to the basement. The ball of flame pursuing Okul stopped and burned in place.
Launching a furious attack at Okul, Captain Malvina struck at him with powerful blows. Okul was forced to go on the defensive. His spear thrusts seemed clumsy in comparison to the rapid strokes of his opponent, and his spear never quite seemed to reach her.
"Risca, to your left!" Neon cried, but he was too late. Even as Risca raised his shield to block the sword stroke, the blade slashed deeply into his shoulder and almost severed his arm from his body. Blood poured from the wound as Risca collapsed. Neon dropped his bow as he drew his rapier and charged forward. "Gideon, Risca's down!" Savagely attacking the soldiers, Neon managed to push them back to give Gideon the chance to save their friend. A look of alarm crossed Gideon's face as he saw Risca's body. Praying fervently to his deity, Gideon touched his wand to Risca's grievous wound and saw it begin to knit. Astounded the dwarf could survive such a heinous blow, Gideon continued his ministrations.
More foot soldiers fell and Captain Malvina realized that they couldn't stop these interlopers, not at this time. Grinding her teeth in frustration, she moved toward the descending stairwell without informing her minions. She hoped their deaths would ensure her safe retreat.
As the combat continued, the soldiers finally noticed their leader had abandoned them. Cries of fear began, and a general rout ensued. Chasing the soldiers to finish them off, the heroes were still unable to catch them all. Some turned to engage their pursuers and felt the bitter taste of steel for their troubles, but the rest fled.
"Don't get too separated," Gideon cautioned. "I'm almost out of spells, and the wand is almost out of charges. We must focus on our mission and find who we are looking for." Dressing the party's wounds, they decided to finish their search of the level.
"I don't want anymore nasty surprises," Neon declared.
Risca was checking his healed shoulder. "Agreed."
Collecting anything valuable from their fallen opponents, the party moved out. Going to the remaining rooms, they turned out to be more private quarters. Searching them carefully, the party found many gems, coins, and a mysterious, metal box that defied their ability to open. Taking it with them, the party decided to follow their fleeing opponents down the stairs and finish them off.