Depending on how long it would have taken the party to catch up with the hired bandits/adventurers would have dictated how far along they were, how tired they were, and how much attrition would have eaten at their group.
The other group had encountered: carrion crawlers, 3 zombies, small wave of skellies and carrion crawlers before they laid down a suppressive fire and backtracked, 5 giant mosquitoes, 2 colossal beetles, and were currently engaged with a Gorgon (not the bull type - old style medusa/harpy combo ala Clash of the Titans). They had lost 2 of their animal companions, over half their healing potions and goodberries, about 50-60% of their spells, and about 1/3 of their missile weapons by the time the group caught up and was able to join forces and help.
What remained was 2 potential fights - 1 with the main lieutenant of the dwarf priest along with his own 5 count of zombies and 3 hellhounds (plus a nasty surprise of some crawling hand type things) - the 2nd with the dwarf himself and his remaining staff (including a 2nd necromancer AND a wraith that I've been holding onto since the beginning as it originally in the room with the dumped over wagon and the Matriarch and Patriarch - it's been spying on the group each time they've come in and reporting back to the dwarf of the party's capabilities). We hit the first fight this meeting, truncating it with a well placed use of our own priest of Apollo's fear staff - the 2nd and much more dangerous encounter would be the next meeting.
Write up follows:
Once all prepared and reloaded with goodberries and holy water/wine, we hightailed it back to the Griffanus Estate and the grove along the northern edge. Illana, and the other members of Castus’ group were there, meeting us and assuring the party that the others had gone in some time ago. Whistles had been handed out with the fore knowledge to blow it twice if they needed help. A blast of 1 whistle meant help was on the way.
They informed us that there had been some sounds of combat early on but since then, only faint echoes very far away. We thanked them, asked them to sit tight, and then descended to the cavern ourselves.
At the entrance room there was signs of a combat with one of the carrion crawlers but we moved on from here. Erd and Steiner each had torches for the front and middle of the group, while Funis had his enchanted mace help up for light. We travelled on, staying along the paths we had already been on, taking shields along the way as we expected to need them at the end.
In the cart room we had seen signs that three of the zombies had come out from the narrow corridor and Castus’ party had dispatched them. Beyond was the Death dog room, empty, and then the stairs over the pits – a bridge established there by the dwarf and his people we suspected.
From here we did not go north towards where we had lost Auri and the others, instead we travelled east – the corridor sloping very faintly down over 140’ of echoing footsteps. And then eventually we came to a new room. The walls were covered with a beautiful hand painted mural showing Hades and most of the legends about him. However, they had a decided slant to them in their depiction, aggrandizing Hades and his accomplishments and dimunizing others. Also, it was apparent that some sort of elven figured had been painted in as cruel and capricious creatures.
There was a single corridor out of here along the east wall, but there was also a section of the wall that had been defaced with pick – the part showing Persephone willingly and wantonly joining Hades in the underworld – direct opposition to the belief held by most followers of Demeter (and the other good aligned gods). The whacking of it by the other group though did reveal a passage (secret) behind the mural.
Looking down it went 20’ and opened to a room. However after entering the hall and closing the door, we noted a yellow a gray wavering light from the room and no one wanted to go down to see what was there – so we left it.
We took the main corridor and traveled along until we arrived at a chamber with 2 other ways out of here and some grit and filth on the floor. According to Tranis who spent some time scouting, it seemed that a massive set of prints went out and back in along the south corridor but only showed going out along the northern one – so we went that way. The corridor went for a while until we came to some bloody smears on the floors and some bandages discarded.
From there we then emerged to a very large chamber with two colossal dead beetles in it. Both had signs of combat trauma, arrows, and many signs of burn marks crisscrossed the chamber. One beetle was almost 8’ tall and a thousand pounds, the other maybe 5’ tall and 300#. There was also a dead dog here, letting us know that Castus had been taking some losses. We faintly heard some noises far ahead – so we pressed on.
We went down one set of stairs, and heard sounds of combat, with Castus hollering at Pecheri to, “stop fucking around and fucking shoot her already!”. We moved on, faster and with care, until we finally came to another set of stairs going down and then stopped to look.
The chamber was sizable and there was about 2/3rds of a peasant’s hut dropped here. A few figures (statues) were shown running from the house in obvious fear. Castus and group were on the far end of the chamber holding a battle line behind Torquil and the 3 oversized dogs, the entire room bathed in an Obscurement spell, reducing clear visibility to almost nothing.
They were fighting a 7 1/2’ tall winged woman with a snake’s tail, a javelin firing bow, asps for hair, and we assumed glowing eyes. Medusa…gorgon. And from here, we could see that one of Castus’ group had already been turned to stone.
We had to join up but did NOT want to get caught by the Gorgon. So we decided that we would one at a time charge across the 14’ of clear ground and dive behind the remains of the hut, coming around it to eventually join up with Castus and the others. Not all would go at once, some of the party would wait here until we could add our strength to theirs and then invite the others over.
Great plan. But Steiner decided that it was missing something so called upon Apollo to bless everyone – really loud. Which then made the rest of the group scramble. The Gorgon was still fighting the druids’ group, but the edge of the Obscurement spell was only 8’ to her south, and if she ran in our direction – her gaze could stone most of the party. Half the group ran backwards up the stairs while others charged out with eyes clenched shut and dove behind the house, Castus roaring for us to hurry up.
But while we were charging forward, it was Steiner who wound up getting stuck behind the house, his armor hanging on the sharp outcroppings of the wall. With no way to get past him quickly, the cleric dragging himself forward, we were in dire straits. That’s when Marcus took out Wipztar’s tome and thumbed across to the page marked, “Boil” – where he read it and pointed it in the Gorgon’s direction.
We had noted though that subsequent readings of the book seemed to increase in power – and this was no exception – as the Gorgon’s entire head was awash in pustulating boils, blood was flowing, then her head was steaming and she screamed before her brain boiled and the pressure burst her skull – killing her.
We all convened together and shook hands, sharing what had gone on to this point in time. Cururfin used his poisonry skill to milk a few of the asp’s venom from the Gorgon’s head and smeared it on a few arrows – which were then given to Pecheri. A huge group now, we moved on, heading towards the end of the dwarf’s lair.
Some turned brought us to a kitchen where a single table with a mug and plate sat. There was an oversized larder here with tones of dried foods and vegetables. But we got the feeling that someone had just been here and had moved on ahead. So we followed, bows spears and spells at the ready.
The passage went on until it was opening to a large chamber and a voice from ahead called out for us to “Stop.” We had gone far enough, Dardrum (the dwarf?) was done and tired of us and our interference and we should turn and go now. Failure to do so would result in only our deaths.
Our thoughts? Fuck this guy – and we charged in.
Long room, 3 hellhounds, 5 zombies, and one wild haired death loving necromancer hiding behind them all. The hellhounds were a pain in the ass immediately, extra fire damage, strong, determined. The zombies were also well behaved, fighting with tactics and in unison. The necromancer hurled a series of meteors at us, splattering them around the party. Tranis was beset by some of the hounds who tried to drive him backwards – towards a section of the room that sloped down to a pit and then somewhere else – garbage chute.
The lead three zombies hurled severed arms at the group who then tried to scramble up and attack us. But it was here that Steiner used his staff of fear and hurled a blast at the necromancer – sending him to run screaming from the chamber. Castus followed up with a Quench spell and the flames from the hellhounds ended. With Karstimis the necromancer gone, the zombies were no longer fighting with tactics and the group was able to take them down easier.
Just as we polished off the final one, we could hear from down the corridor angry voices, we assumed the dwarf Dardrum threatening to take us down, and then LOTS of charging figures coming our way. So we squared off, took ranks throughout the chamber, and got ready to face off with Dardrum and his horde of approaching undead.