We had taken a week break between the 1st two meetings for some of the party's personal plans they had already made. At this point, we had gotten much more accomplished.
Write up follows:
After breaking our fast with what little food and water we have been able to scrounge so far, the party discussed at small length the journal from the nameless slaver and then debated on the merits of going forward to the K'Tharkian's ahead versus going backwards and clearing out the potential threats behind us. Outweighed 4 to 2, the party voted to go back. We went back down the sloping stairs, through the scaffolding chamber, and past a section of the wall that sounded like running water until we heard the faint clinking of chains and entered a wider section of the hallway that had a rope dangling out of a hole in the ceiling roughly 6-7' wide.
Zoltan was nominated to climb the rope (poor bastard - chuckle) while the rest of us waited and kept watch. The party wasn't exactly quiet and two K'tharkian's came down the hall to investigate. Hedonim had us get ready but Karis grew impatient and instead engaged the lead one in battle. It was short and bloody. Hedonim shot the 2nd one dead on and the group figured it was safe enough to go down the hall. Puck drew an arrow in the dirt and grit of the cave floor for Zoltan who was presumably up the rope in case he came back down and didn't see his party members.
Speaking of our thief, he had climbed almost 70' straight up the stone chimney through some restless bats to a cavern that hosted an ancient dwarven winch that had rusted and fused in place long ago, a 22' length of thick usable chain still dangling off it's turnbuckle to which the selfsame rope he had climbed was tied to. Two corridors out, right and left. From the right he heard the sounds of many K'Tharkian voices and opted not to investigate. Instead he went the other direction and came to fork, where he examined both options for 15/20 paces and saw nothing - figuring he had pushed his luck enough at this point he went back to the chain and rope began climbing back down.
The party, following Hedonim who was seeking to get an arrow back, tried to warn the group the room ahead had half a dozen K'Tharkians and 2 mangy dogs in a room with trestle tables and other scavenged items, using machetes and knives to sort through pounds and pounds of all sorts of stolen vegetable matter. A fight ensued and magic missiles went flashing and Hedonim fumbled a statistic improbability by rolling a "1", then a "1", then a "1" again - a 1 in 8000 chance - which resulted in his shooting himself in the foot for 8 points of damage. Then to add insult to injury, one of the dogs began attacking him. Our ranger was in bad shape.
The struggle against the kobolds was swift but the tide was turned rapidly with the party's growing skill as well as a well timed "charm" spell from Detheron against the dog eating Hedonim...who now assaulted the kobolds instead! The last two decided it would be better to leap into the ravine as opposed to fighting Karis and Gwyn in hand to hand. One made the jump and survived - the other broke its neck on the fall. We scavenged bags, knives, and much needed food which made us feel marginally better. Zoltan rejoined us and we learned of what he saw. We traveled on.
Returning back the way we came, we went back up the sloped stairs, through the first warren, and proceeded with caution. We came to another room like we had first seen, filled with garbage and cast off items - but this room had already been scavenged deeper by the K'Tharkians so there was not much more of interest for us to potentially take. A number of kobolds were in here, three of them antagonizing a 4' wide green/grey angry beetle that had a glow coming from underneath it. Puck who hated injustice immediately magic missiled one of the K'Tharkian's holding the chain and a brutal fight ensued. The charmed wolf-dog (now named Fodder) aided us and within 2 short rounds of combat, the kobolds were dead. The beetle was agitated but did not attack us. Detheron took the chains off the beetle's carapace and the strange beetle decided to not attack, instead staying near the druid.
We moved on after more body looting, and emerged to a huge warren - almost a dozen kobolds in here. One of them was obviously a leader, wearing an ill fitting suit of leather, sporting a war axe. We had not been seen. The room would work to our advantage, but 3 of the kobolds had bows and there were an awful lot of their javelins about. Gwyn had the idea to take a broken banquet table the kobolds had scavenged from the other room and use it as a movable wall - giving us cover and allowing us to engage the K'Tharkian's up close.
The battle was joined and the table proved to be a giant help. Karis hurled oil at the massed kobolds and a few arrows and javelins made their way at us - blocked by the table. Puck caused one of the torches to explode in a 10' ball of flame, setting a number of the kobolds on fire - which in turn also set the oil on fire - which set more kobolds on fire as well as some bed rolls and other belongings. Some arrows and javelins on our end were tossed into the mix - as well as another vial of oil. G'Shnak, the kobold leader kept trying to entice the party to come down and face him in single combat (so far the first K'Tharkian we've met who understands Common) - but we continued to pick off his men until it was down to him and three.
They charged as far from us as possible, and two of them vaulted onto the ledge to do battle. Karis grabbed the table and charged them, hoping to knock them off, but misjudged the edge and fell over the side with his cover. G'Shnak hit him with his axe but the half ogre bounded to his feet and the two of them proceeded to fight. Fodder was sent after one of the two kobolds on our ledge, and the beetle followed as well to Detheron's amusement. It was over and the party did very well, also capturing G'Shnak in the process. We searched the room and Hedonim picked up a number of unfired arrows. Gwyn took G'Shank's armor (leather) for himself and the war axe went to Karis. While looking the room over, Zoltan noticed a hollow of stone where G'Shnak had been amassing a small pile of coins he had kept from his chief - of which Zoltan tried to purloin 2 of the amethysts but he was spotted and gave them over sheepishly (poor bastard - chuckle).
G'Shnak being held by chains and Karis led us along, we passed the room with the winch that Zoltan had seen earlier, and came to the fork where some threats to G'Shnak had the party go in one direction. We came to a room with a circle of daylight and a ceiling with scores of agitated bats. Zoltan tried to sneak across the room but G'Shnak pulled his chain out of Karis' grip and was leaping and jumping, trying to get the bats to begin flying (for some reason). Gwyn speared him swiftly from behind and it was over. The cavern beyond here was old and stale, and Zoltan retreated when he heard a loud trill of a cricket. Gwyn went instead - and was able to see the long dead body of some adventurer who had died here from K'Tharkian javelins. We went through his belongings, the ranger taking the ring mail, party taking more supplies and whatnot - but also found two undamaged healing potions - which the dwarf and half ogre drank down happily.
We went back to the fork and followed the other side which eventually brought us to a room with foul moving trash piles - where Fodder and the beetle assaulted one of them and scared a giant rat - making short work of the vermin. We left the other piles alone and went on - to another fork. We took left on Zoltan's advice and emerged to a room with numerous fungi all around. Detheron informed us it was fairly safe - even the ones called corpse fungus, but don't go near the big purple ones - they are shriekers and are there usually as a warning. Taking his advice we moved on to the a large worked area - mounded rock, a pool, slopes, and there at the end was a 7' tall, 300' bristly brown haired creature with a throwing spear at the ready. We decided to talk to it. Said it was a bugbear named Arnax from the Drywood clan. He and 3 of his clanmates had come here to see where Kuluk was getting his man-treasures from - and they had been found out. Three had died - leaving just him here. He is maimed, no leg from below the knee - a kobold chief named Kraygel who lives here took it.
Offered us a place to rest and relax, and after talking to Karis - made a deal that if he could take care of Kraygel - he could have his warrior charm - a leather thong with some ugly stones. It had warding magic on it, but what it does, party doesn't know.