PCs present: Thorg, Mike, Baldwin, Huggra, Grunk, Reeny
We find the party where we left them, in the armory of the hobgoblin chief, Mogogek (may he rest in pieces). Inventory was made of the arms and armor, and the party decided to come back for the equipment over several trips, once they had safely cleared the area.
Pressing on toward Mogogek’s quarters, the remaining guards were easily defeated. The quarters were thoroughly searched and looted, Grunk having the misfortune of finding and chugging a potion of poison, since Grunk drinks everything he can get his hands on.
The party coerced a guard to tell them where prisoners might be held, and they hastened to the far end of the cavern complex. There they defeated two torturers and freed a half dozen prisoners: Turkey and Squirrel, the escaped slaves; Yarnas and Gorto, a human and dwarf who had been on the same mission as the party but never returned; Yurgirg, a gnoll and Chukaarak, an orc, who were uncooperative and thus relieved of the burden of continued breathing. Yarnas and Gorto escaped with Turkey and Squirrel and vowed to contact the party soon, after they had assured the safety of the other escaped slaves.
Loaded with as much loot as they could safely carry, the party returned to the Keep through an unusually quiet forest, despite spotting several figures who appeared to be shadowing them.
After an evening spent gambling, carousing and hitting on the one-eyed, one-armed and one-legged Zorga (some orcs carry very large swords), the tavern keep and war veteran. The party then retired to rest and recuperate.
During the night, however, the garrison was awoken by a series of loud pops, unintelligible screams and then a loud explosion as the alchemical lab in the Lower Bailey erupted in flame. Troops and craftsmen alike were quickly on hand to hoist buckets onto the burning ex-guildhall. Even Grunk was slapped out of his drunken stupor and contributed to the effort. Dame Carspadmir conferred urgently with Zeleth, the prefect, and the head jailer, since it turns out that the ragged human captured a few days earlier attempting to sneak into the keep had escaped through a hole in the wall, the holding cell being directly adjacent to the alchemy lab.
The Dame reluctantly informed the party of the escape and asked for their aid. The lab had been heavily guarded around the clock and no one really knew what projects were in the works but the cat was now out of the bag – the dwarves, too, had been searching for Moradin-knows-what. Zeleth was visibily displeased that the cagey dwarves had kept this information even from him, the commander of the mostly-human garrison. Thorg, not hesitating in the least, plunged into the burning building with just his sword and night clothes, Huggra and Reeny following close behind. Inside they discovered a hole where the hardwood floor boards had been pried loose, very close to the apparent center of the blast. Thorg dove in head first, the others following, and slithered and crawled down a narrow passageway, some natural and some chipped away by tools to widen the way.
Down they went at a sharp angle until they finally reached a wall of curved masonry which Thorg surmised was the well in the Lower Bailey. The passage plunged straight downward at this point, hugging the wall of the well, until finally Thorg and the others dropped 10 feet into a wide and high cavern. Reeny lit a torch and illuminated an underground lake, the only sounds being their own breathing and the intermittent plunk of water onto the still surface of the lake.
Then they became aware of a form moving through the water and two feral, glowing yellow eyes reflected the light of Reeny’s torch. Suddenly, it leaped shrieking at Huggra, barely recognizable as a man, or once a man, but with canine legs and facial features, baring sharp, yellowed teeth. It’s stench was horrible and it’s hands and feet were webbed.
The party’s defense was swift and decisive, the creature being cut in two as Reeny caught it before it could fall back beneath the water. They would have to return later to study this thing.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the party helped to douse the flames. Carspadmir gave them a choice: follow their mates down the narrow passage without armor, or find a way into this cavern from the store rooms beneath the Keep; a choice between power and speed. They decided to collect their own gear, as well as the gear of the other three, and hurry to find some way to meet them beneath the Keep.