Ninth of Sunharrow, 474
After carting Siggrid up to Alaric‘s rooms, the party was ready to head back to the abandoned crypt…except for one thing. Filled with concern for Hedra, Maudrin went to the Kraken’s Maw to ask Jorlim if she had ever come in to work, or contacted him. She hadn’t. That meant a quick stop in Gallows Corner to check in on her before going to the crypt.
Leaving the Maw, Maudrin was stopped by a young woman dressed in the garb of a junior monk of Pelor. She introduced herself as Mica, and said that Brother Tarol had sent her to offer aid in the investigation of the crypt. He had, unfortunately, not sent her with any information about the black skull.
Swinging by Gallows Corner, they found Hedra’s street easily enough, and Alaric’s commanding tone was enough to convince a local to show them Hedra’s rooms. They were empty, and between Dove‘s sharp perception and Anu’s eye for detail, it was easy enough to determine that she had not returned after the party last night. Still, the zombie cult was a pressing threat, and it was always possible that she had gone home with somebody else, and was off enjoying herself, right? Right?
So, the party headed to the Garaphos ruins. Poking around the courtyard, Anu noticed a few footprints leading to the front door of the supposedly collapsed main structure. Investigating silently, she found an interior space that was battered yet functional, and four zombies standing guard. She returned to her friends, reported her findings, and they decided to go with a frontal assault. Squeezing through the narrow doorway one at a time, they quickly found themselves in desperate melee with zombies, skeletons, and members of the cult, who kept arriving in waves. Fiona was able to bottleneck the skeletons in a narrow hallway, then dashed past them to get at another group of cultists. A poisoned crossbow bolt nearly spelled her end, but she fought the venom long enough for Alaric to preserve her life with his healing magic.
Their foes dispatched or captive, the party turned their attention to the search. They found a secret trap door in the floor, and were able to move the bar using Maudrin’s Mage hand and a bit of good fortune. Downstairs, a dead humanoid huddled on the floor…or was it? As they entered the room, he leaped up, and his companions jumped from alcoves to launch a volley of sling bullets! Kobolds! Four of them were dispatched quickly, and the remainder fled rather than face the party on even footing. More cultists appeared during the battle and were dispatched. Anu managed to convince a kobold that they meant no harm; Alaric, however, proved her wrong. Moving deeper into the dungeon, the party encountered a pair of thugs in a guardroom, who tried to bluff them into retreating. No dice; the party mounted a sudden attack and the thugs fell; in the process, Dove put a hapless kobold to sleep as well. Waking him, Anu got some useful information on the place, including a crude map, and the remainder of the kobold tribe agreed to guard the prisoners upstairs, in exchange for the party promising them their home back when all was said and done.
Now knowing where the cult leader lived, the band of adventurers swept through the last few rooms on the level, slaughtering a few cultists along the way. In the last room their kobold informant had any knowledge of, they found a set of stairs leading down. Somewhere down there was the cult leader…and the black skull…