We picked up where we left off, except I retconned a little. I had the familiar with Loremastery warn them that the lizardmen were almost certainly infected with lycanthropy. They debated for a few moments but ultimately decided (thanks to White Scar asking) to let the tribe take the chance with them. So they healed them up and then escorted them from the dungeon.
Outside, they found that Alfric and his hirelings had turned up at the camp. The player returned from his trip overseas so was able to jump in on the game. Alfric (whose face is covered by a Kinslayer tattoo) and Grimnor got on like oil and water. Several insults led them to nearly coming to blows until Lilith and Long Tom intervened. Those two are going to come to blows before all is said and done.
The party rested, but forgot the fact that they are camped across the river from a massive necropolis cursed by Chaos. The lookouts in the waning hours of the night heard the sound of something approaching them through the river. The cry went up and then gaunt figures appeared in Grimnor’s darksight. Three cadaverous humanoids with two white, skinned, desiccated beings behind them.
Archers managed to drop two of the ghouls before they even finished getting up the beach. Grimnor grabbed the weird skull mace and charged at one of the wights. The other wight ran at Cronyn who was set for a spear charge. He impelled the creature, but it just kept crawling up the spear until it reached him. One blow of it’s mighty fist shattered Cronyn’s shield and left his arm useless and numb. The ghoul meanwhile jumped in amongst the mercenaries. It tore into one of them, driving him into the ground, before leaping on to another and paralyzing him with its claws.
Now the party was up and quickly retaliated. Long Tom channeled Sethi’s might and the two wights stumbled back in fear. Alfric kicked the unbalanced wight’s feet from beneath him and then severed its head with a single stroke of his enchanted blade. Grimnor flew into a rage and caved in the side of his adversary’s chest. It turned to flee and he grabbed its grave-clothes and, with a mighty roar, beat it down into the river muck until there was nothing left but shattered bone fragments.
The hirelings and mercenaries finished off the ghoul. And then silence fell on the camp. The healers managed to save the mercenary, but his back was hurt in the fight and he’ll always have an aching back to remind him of nearly being killed by an undead fiend.
While the party congratulated themselves, Lysander looted the two wights and found some golden torcs.
The next morning, after the casters had some extra sleep, the party returned to the Lichway. They made it back into the room with the Imperial statue, where they met four of the fishmen. The party rushed them without preamble and killed two of them, before the other two swam away into the hole in the wall (to warn Otho).
Continuing on their journey, the party went back to the room with the Susserus in it. It went nuts again, reaching for their fires, but they left it alone. They then marched single file into the narrow corridor. They found a room with dire rats feeding on a corpse. Lilith approached and started talking with the rats.
As an aside, when Lilith uses her Speak with Animals ability (I let the player swap one of the Witch’s class abilities, the Apostacy ability, for always on Speak with Animals…something that could be done thanks to the Player’s Guide for ACKS, and feels quite ‘Sylvan’ to me) I always imagine the Rats of Nimh…so the speaking ability in my head kind of makes the speaking animal a little anthropomorphic.
Anyway, after a conversation and offering the rats some of their food, they took a backpack that was lying near the corpse the animals were feeding on. They found some treasure and equipment. They asked if there were other treasures similar to the coins in the bag. The rats thought about it and then told them there was, there were some similar shinnies in a room underneath them far away, and in another room that was vaguely ‘that way’. The party made a deal with the rats to bring back more shinnies in exchange for an equal weight of food.
“Best way to loot a dungeon,” Alfric said as the rats disappeared into cracks in the wall.
They found a room inside which they heard snarling dogs. The rats had mentioned ‘burning dogs’ and when Lilith couldn’t speak with them, they decided to just spike the door and walk away. Probably a good call being they were hell hounds in there.
Finally they came to a room further down the passage. After busting the door down, they found a group of characters facing them with weapons drawn, a table between them and the door.
A man in black plate called out to them, saying that they’s been waiting and what did the pcs think they were doing, invading this dungeon they’d claimed. The pcs spent a few moments bargaining with them, saying they were after Otho and did not care about these guys, especially when they heard that the people in the room were only mercenaries hired by Otho and not particularly loyal to her. But all of this was simply a distraction while the party waited for Anika to come forward so she could cast sleep on them. From her position, she could only see the two hiding behind the table and not the archer and the guy holding the torch. But when they cast, someone from behind the wall gazing through a peep-hole cast their own sleep spell and dropped the entire front line.
At this point, things devolved into chaos. The tunnel was clogged with large sleeping warriors and tons of equipment so getting people to the front of the line was proving problematic. Meanwhile, the torch bearer tossed his torch on the floor causing oil that they’d hidden underneath the hay and detritus, causing a fire to burst in front of the doorway.
Grimnor was running through the entrance just as the fire burst up around him, but he dodged most of the fire. With one stroke of his mighty axe, he dropped the archer.
Inside the tunnel, people rushed around, trying to wake as many of the sleepers as possible. Again, the dark cloud wafted from the wall but this time they stood more resolute. Dar, the explorer who’d been firing arrows at the torch-bearer as he rushed to awaken the people on his side, fell, as did Grimnar. Rage Claw did not. But the fire held him back, while Thorsigar and Thorwell rushed through the flames (at great personal cost) to finish the torch man. The sleeping priest rose and tried to cast a spell, but their blades (and Rage Claws fangs) ended him, his dark chants gurgling in his bloody throat.
The party, in an uncharacteristic display of bloodthirstiness, made certain that no one was getting up again…ever. I wonder if this was in part because Long Tom’s player had to leave.
They ran through the door near the peep-hole and into an empty chamber with a door on the opposite wall. They kept going and busted into a well decorated room, with four horrific fish men standing in it. Battle was joined but ended quickly as they cut the batrachian creatures down. But of the wizard, there was no sign. A quick search of the room led them to a southern door that stood open and on to a bedroom. They found a hidden compartment that was open and empty underneath the bed. Rage Claw saw the pool on the northern side of the chamber and realized this was the room he had first seen Otho in. So they began searching for valuables and evidence of where Otho had gone. Alfric asked Lilith to cast Detect Magic to see if the items they found were of any value.
And that’s where everything went wrong for poor Otho. She’d been hiding invisibly in the bed room, hoping to sneak out once they’d searched everything and left. But overhearing the request at a detect magic meant she was going to get seen. And true enough, Lilith walked into her room and spotted the glowing yellow cloud that indicated something invisible was in the room. Thorsigar tried to block the doorway out of the room, but she made it through before he could. She used her wand of fear to try and empty the room of PCs. But with so many people, only three failed their saves and fled. Revealed, Otho growled and tossed the wand on the floor. “Well, that certainly didn’t work like I’d hoped.”
Everyone stared at her for a moment as she raised her hands. “I surrender.”
Rage Claw roared, “It’s too late for that,” and charged. But the faster moving Long Tom and his hirelings jumped in the way fearing he was going to murder her, leaving everyone glaring angrily at each other.
And we ended the game there.