This session carried straight on from last week’s encounter, with the group retreating to the entrance to the dungeon and the door they hadn’t previously taken. Before exploring the catacombs further, they decided to make sure they weren’t leaving any of the cultist guards behind them to cause problems.
They had expected a counter attack when they entered the hidden corridor last week, which was why they’d been so split during the early parts of the ghoul encounter. This week they went to investigate whether they had been worrying about nothing. It was a decision that brought more questions than answers.
Waiting behind the door that had stayed closed during all the previous fighting and noise were the animated skeletons of four humans in battered and torn armour. On seeing the party, they bashed their shields to alert the people in the next room, and advanced on the party. Totally outmatched by the adventurers, the undead served only to delay them while the cleric cultist in the next room marshalled his forces.
The initial wave was a seemingly unending wave of more skeletons – a mix of human and hobgoblin bones given a mockery of life. Behind them a human cleric in dark robes and four gnoll bodyguards took up positions among carved columns. The fighters in the party quickly carved their way into the main room, where the gnolls engaged them, but there was something unusual going on in this fight. At a word from the cleric leading them, the gnolls became more bestial, their skins smouldering, swelling and blistering as if they were burning up from the inside.
Their metabolisms boosted somehow, their wounds began to rapidly heal, almost as fast as the adventurers could try and inflict them. The skeletons fell swiftly, but the super-charged gnolls seemed to be holding their own. Then one of the gnolls simply exploded. Undamaged in the fight, the fierce energies now coursing through his system completely overloaded him and he burst into a ball of flame that scoured through the chamber. The cleric meanwhile had spat a poisoned dart into Bumperklart and stepped sideways through a hole in space to appear behind the front lines.
As the fighters sought to finish off the remaining gnolls before any more explosions could take place, it fell to Ruin in his primeval yeti form to deal with the cultist. The battle was brief and ended badly for the cleric, his rent body quickly falling to the bone-strewn floor.
With the immediate danger past and small lingering fires quickly stamped out by Yeeves, a small stash of freshly excavated items and the huge silent form of an old executioner chassis warforged could be examined. There was a brief debate, but on the balance of probability the option of having an extra warrior on their side to replace the fallen mage seemed to win the day. Healing magics were applied, with partial success, and the living construct knew life once more.
Fortunately he turned out to having nothing to do with the cultists, having been lost on this island when the band of barbarians he had fallen in with fell to a rival group of adventurers. He pledged his swords to help the group, and was soon to prove his worth in combat with another group of gnolls found further into the complex.
These additional gnoll troops also wore the same dark robes and inverted pyramid symbol of the forces they had already met. Some of the gnolls fought and died quickly, buying time for the remaining gnolls to begin the now familiar smouldering and swelling. A desperate battle to contain the mayhem soon broke out.
Keil’s Stone Spike spell contained the perimeter, allowing the fighters to do what they do best, but they still couldn’t prevent a couple of the gnolls from exploding, and the shock shut Madrigal – their new companion – back down.
The group decided that they had to hole up and rest. All their reserves were gone, and they had to hope that there were no more reinforcements on the way…