The Heroes 4 Hire, with Sarge and his three troopers, finished their long rest hidden in the charnel house, gathered their things and headed up the ramp to continue their assault on the middle level of Darkshelf Quarry. At the top of the ramp they came upon a small encampment of goblins and immediately attacked. The eight goblins were shortly reinforced by four goblin miners who were working down a shaft a short distance past the camp, but the team quickly overwhelmed and slaughtered them to the last. A short search concluded the engagement, loot was gathered, and the tunnel where the goblin miners had come from was followed to a ventilation chamber, the bottom of the long vertical shaft that led through the top level of the quarry and eventually out the top of the bluff… discovered by Neistor’s agent Kwon and reconnoitered by Alton Beeblebrox.
They party reversed direction to the encampment area and proceed down the other tunnel, coming to a T-intersection with a large open shaft going down. They recognized this large opening must be the shaft above of the southern rubbish heap, and decided to take the western tunnel. This tunnel continued for a distance, passed another passage departing to their right, and they ended up in a large chamber with a huge pyramidal spire of dark stone marbled with white alabaster, narrow and sharp as a dart, measuring nearly 8 feet on a side and 20 feet tall, with a single, staring, bronze eye adorning each side. The unholy relic, found in the garbage heap with the zombies, was an exact replica of this spire. Fire pits dug into the sandy floor were well stoked with coals, and the yellow-blue flames gave off an odd smoke that lightly hung in the air of this chamber, this Temple of the Elder Elemental Eye. Near the spire, chanting in supplication and worship, a single cleric wearing the same garb as the one down below in the mudtiger breeding room sprang to his feet when he saw the trespassers.
The cleric shouted an alarm, and then retreated around towards the rear of the spire. Diplo and Beeblebrox gave chase, as the rest of the team prepared for the reinforcements they heard coming from a passageway leading south from the cavern. The cleric moved towards the edge of a slime-ringed pool that lay behind the spire, found himself seemingly cornered and turned to face his pursuers, pulling out a stone-headed mace. Diplo and Beeblebrox closed in, and two mudtigers sprang from the pool, passing the priest, and closed with the Heroes to open the festivities with their signature shocking attacks. Metal magnetized as electricity coursed, but Diplo managed a crushing attack with his warhammer on the cleric, knocking him unconscious. Beeblebrox heard Illyia yell about the coming reinforcements, and reversed direction to take up an ambush position just around the corner of the southern passageway.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party prepared for the coming horde… which turned out to be a squad of goblins and another Cleric of the Eye. One mudtiger followed Beeblebrox to come bite him on the butt, while the other attempted to chew through Diplo’s platemail. The goblins rushed the party, splitting up to take each person man-to-man…er…goblin. The cleric opened up with a Fear spell, that sent Dajjal and the three guardsmen (not the Sarge) running for their lives. He then also drew a stone-headed mace, as he cast Spiritual Weapon and had it engage Diplo from across the room. The goblins held their own, keeping the Sarge, Illyia and Beeblebrox pinned in melee combat, and the Cleric then cast Spirit Guardians. Beeblebrox was the first to drop his goblins and then closed with the cleric, finding out what Spirit Guardians does the hard way. Diplo came running with a mudtiger in hot pursuit, saw that the spirits encircling the cleric and attacking his teammate had a vaguely fiendish shape, and cast Turn the Unholy. He then stood there slack-jawed for a moment, as the turn was cast, went into effect, and did nothing.
The mudtiger on Beeblebrox continued chasing him for a nibble, and for a moment the Heroes and the Sarge were being fought to a draw exchanging blows, slashes, spells, arrows and blood. One mudtiger let off another of their signature shock attacks, yet again remagnetizing Diplo and everyone’s metal items. Finally, Beeblebrox finished the mudtiger chasing him, decided his magnetized short swords were more trouble than they were currently worth for a fist-fighting monk, and tossed them at Diplo with the intent of using his armor as a magnetic weapons rack. However, the polarity of the short swords and that side of Diplo’s plate were common, so instead his swords made a sharp turn in mid-air as they were repulsed by the magnetism and flopped uselessly into the sandy floor. Diplo finished the other mudtiger, Beeblebrox beat the remaining cleric to death, and after that and a few more fatalities for the goblins the remaining goblins fled for their lives. The team switched to bows and cut all but one down as they ran.
Illyia pursued the one goblin that managed to round the corner to the passageway heading north before getting shot. He closed the distance and then lashed out with his whip, catching the goblin by the neck and holding him fast. Beeblebrox was in close trail, punched the goblin on the way by killing him, and then proceeded past the corpse into the multi-way intersection and a group of goblin miners coming to see what all the commotion was about. Illyia, seriously hurting from the previous combat, stayed back with his bow and Beeblebrox engaged the five in hand-to-hand combat. The rest of the team caught up a few moments later, and the five goblins were finished. The party retreated to the temple area, searched and looted the bodies, the goblin guard station and cleric’s chambers they found through the southern passageway. They then took note of their current state of health and their reduced numbers, sent Sarge to go search the lower level for the fleeing guardsmen and Dajjal, and found out that they were nowhere to be found and both rowboats were missing as well. They decided they could finish the assault with just the four of them, and took a short rest to heal up some wounds and prepare for the next round of combat.
When they were readied, they backtracked to the T-intersection with the southern garbage chute and continued down the eastern hallway. They walked down a long corridor and came to a set of iron bars impeding the tunnel with an iron bar door in the middle, like in a prison cell. The door was locked from the other side, so Illyia took a knee and reached through the bars to do a bit of reverse direction, no-look lockpicking. A bugbear stepped out from a concealed alcove just on the other side of the bars and stabbed a spear through the bars at Illyia’s head, just barely missing him. The bugbear then yelled for help, and another bugbear came running from a chamber farther down the corridor beyond the iron gate. A strange standoff developed, where they really couldn’t fight the bugbears because of the iron gate, but they couldn’t unlock the iron gate without fighting the bugbears.
Beeblebrox and Illyia figured out that range and thrusting weapons were the only weapons that had any success through a set of iron bars, and they covered Diplo and Sarge as they used Illyia’s portable ram to start bashing the door open. It took several smashes to get the door down, bending and deforming the metal with each successive hit until the latch and hinges could be forced. The bugbears started fighting more aggressively as they realized the door wouldn’t hold much longer, and this gave Illyia the opportunity he needed to Misty Step behind the bugbears unseen and sneak attack from behind, killing one bugbear outright and seriously wounding the other as the door came crashing in and the rest of team finished him off. They then searched the several tunnels of what turned out to be a rather large prison complex. They found slaves, nearly 30 of them, in the last four cells of one tunnel… possibly only a fourth or a fifth of what the prison complex could easily house at a time. They took inventory of the slaves’ health and condition, and discovered Kwon hiding among the slaves, undercover to allow himself to be sold as a slave and trace the larger slaver network. He was a little miffed about his efforts being thwarted by the actions of the team, but calmed down when he learned it was on Lord Neistor’s order that they came looking for him.
Kwon had a hand-drawn map of the entire quarry complex, surprisingly accurate, stashed inside the crotch of his trousers. He had been releasing his manacles with a set of picks he had stashed, and slipping out of the prison through the garbage chute that lead to the northern garbage heap the party had discovered below with the zombies. There was a small tunnel between the two garbage chutes’ shafts, about halfway down, which Kwon utilized to slip out of the prison without the bugbear guards knowledge to explore the quarry complex. He knew about the mudtigers, the temple and the clerics, the goblins, the troglodytes, the beach… basically everything except the presence of the ghouls and the ghast. The team decided to stay put inside the protection of the prison for a short rest and some healing.
The remaining three Heroes plus the Sarge decided the best plan was to walk the entire group of slaves, plus the captured cleric, straight out the ‘front door’ of the quarry in broad daylight, expecting that any remaining conspirators would have difficulty engaging them in combat in the full witness of the innocent mine workers from Darkshelf. So at mid-morning, 27 rescued slaves, proceeded by the three Heroes, the Sarge and Kwon, force marching a captive cleric, climbed the ramp to the upper level of the quarry and the din of the morning mining operations. Quarry workers stopped and stared as the combat fatigued party escorted their charges out of the tunnels into the large entrance cavern, and the last two human guards. These two men could not believe their eyes and nervously started for their weapons when the Sarge commanded them.
“The jig is up, Gentlemen. I’m here to take you into custody. You’ll receive a fair trial with representation of counsel. I have 24 troopers garrisoned in the guardhouse, and we have exterminated your entire operation below. Surrender, and you’ll receive fair and humane treatment. This is the only time I will make this offer.” The two guards moved their hands away from their weapons and surrendered, but the party saw one steal a quick glance toward an alcove off the south wall of the entrance cavern. Illyia and Beeblebrox circled back and followed the side tunnel Beeblebrox had reconnoitered five days ago, and found four goblins sleeping in a small chamber. They sneaked in silently, and delivered the coupe d’ grace on all four in their sleep.
With that, the group marched the two guards and the cleric, along with the 27 freed slaves out the mouth of the quarry entrance cave, across the open quarry pit and to the guardhouse where Dajjal met them as he climbed back up the road from Darkshelf. There they found the garrison had managed to surprise Bazili Erak as he returned to the guardhouse and taken him into custody. While arresting him, they had discovered that Bazili Erak was not a dwarf at all, but instead a exceptionally short and slightly deformed half-orc, who with a little stooping, his underdeveloped lower tusks and his flame red hair and beard, had learned to pass himself off as a dwarf to all but the most discerning eye. The garrison had not, however, heard or seen anything about his assistant, Glyrthiel. It appeared she must have become aware of the assault, arrests and garrisoning of the quarry, and as such fled for her life and freedom. Prior to midday, the entire group of rescued slaves and captured conspirators were back in Darkshelf, being tended to by healers and being incarcerated, respectively.
Will Glyrthiel ever be found and brought to justice? What will Lord Neistor’s men find out as they depose the rescued slaves and prisoners about the greater slaver network? What lies in store for the Heroes 4 Hire next?
Find out next week! On “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”