After last week’s successful delve into the Temple, we found ourselves back in Oakridge, looking for a new swordhand to flesh out our ranks. What we found was Greven of Eldar’s Swoop. Greven was a pirate before turning his attentions away from the sea and towards dungeon delving. The loot we carried with us was more than enough to entice this greedy human to join us. (Since we needed a fighter, I rolled up two characters – the first one had a low Str and Con and really had no place as a fighter, whereas Greven at least has a Strength of 13, and a fair Dexterity and Charisma – a swashbuckling type of fighter.)
When we arrived at the Temple ruins the next morning, there was already a major encampment on site. A quick look and it was obvious they had set guards on the entrance to the site, and who knows how many had entered, leaving two dozen to guard the way in and protect pack mules and carts. As we approached we were hailed and told in no uncertain terms to depart.
Not wanting to have to deal with them all at once, we headed over to the Halfling village finally, settled into the common room of their inn, the Ankheg & Lettuce (one of six buildings in town with ceilings tall enough for us – and even then most of the building had halfling height ceilings, just the common room and four guest rooms were human sized). Rudrick went out into the town to check on temples and so on (to back up the rumours we had heard) while the rest of us spread some gold around the A&L and asked about the Temple of Illhan, the excavations and the latest encampment there.
By the end of the day, we found Bethunel engaged in eating competitions with the locals, our elf sitting on the floor in a halfling-height side of the room chatting about the various human nobles and “less than nobles” that were exploring the ruins, Coruhn in a philosophical discussion with the village sherrif about trying to hold to one’s faith in an environment where another faith is ascendant (for the halfling it was how the village had survived during the time of Illhan the Binder even though the halflings had no love of her strict laws and stricter punishments, for Coruhn it was about being the priest of one faith while working in a team under the command of another church and it’s representative). By the time Rudrick returned to the Ankheg & Lettuce with an “all clear” we were at ease with the locals and had decided to use the back entrance we had discovered to the dungeon instead of the main entrance the halflings had uncovered earlier.
We travelled back to the ruins in silence after sunset and slipped in through the secret entrance, and climbed our way back to the chimney shaft on level 1 that leads to level 3. From there we began our explorations again, fighting and negotiating our way through a colony of troglodytes and then into a long half-collapsed corridor with multiple traps along the length. After negotiating a pit trap, avoiding mechanically-flung spears (or in Coruhn’s case, catching one in his shoulder) and digging through rockfalls, we found a series of old tombs. The first was occupied only by robber flies, but the next two were pay dirt.
Fighting and destroying ghouls we plundered the two tombs. One had a magical sword (+1, +3 vs undead) and a magical shield, and the other contained no less than a full set of magical plate, a magical shield and an enchanted mace. The second tomb, unfortunately had all this equipment on a powerful ghoul who fought us to a standstill. It seemed proof against our turning attempts, and between the armour and it’s high hit points, we found ourselves fighting a retreat as it pushed us back into the hallway, leaving Rudrick and Moruth paralyzed in the tomb, and when we tried to fight our way back into the tomb, it slew Greven with a mighty blow of it’s magical mace. Then it paralyzed Bethunel after she struck it a heavy blow, and it became a near duel between the ghoul and Eseron of Elder Baughs while the severely injured Coruhn tried to engage it with sling stones, keeping himself out of the direct combat. Once the ghoul realized that Eseron was an elf (after failing to paralyze him, but dealing him down to 4 hit points), it went back to it’s mace. It was only a lucky hit from Coruhn (with his last sling stone) that finally downed the undead monstrosity. (Amazing how scary an AC 0 ghoul with maximum hit points can be).
We left the temple as quickly as we could, knowing that we had likely discovered the treasures we had heard about. We rested the remainder of the night back at the halfling village, and then returned to Oakridge the next day to find yet another swordsman (and I was roundly cursed by the party for rolling up a fighter instead of a halfling who we could have recruited at the Ankheg and Lettuce).