The party, now rested and prepared to press forward, scouted out the area surrounding the orc den. They soon learned that the next obvious course of action was to investigate an unlocked door north of the orc’s lair. The party’s torches sputtered and sparked as they neared the door, which Ian confirmed was unlocked and free of traps.
Opening the door, a room filled with trash lay before them. The air was heavy and acrid, burning the eyes. A door on the opposite side of the room, invited them forward. Maur warned the party members to seek cover, then tossed a torch in the room, bracing himself.
BOOM! The explosive gas ignited, gutting the room in a sudden burst of flame. So sudden was the explosion, Maur was caught in the blast. Only by sheer luck and dwarven stoutness was he able to avoid being blown back into the sewer channel behind them. Needless to say, he was singed, smoke and dust forming a cloud about him. “It’s all safe, now,” he said assuredly, unfazed by how close he came to harm.
The party crossed the room, opened the door and entered a hallway beyond. Growing wary of traps, Ian led the way, slowly…cautiously.
The passage ended in a large room with a grid of narrow catwalks. Below these catwalks were a series of cages. A pair of columns supported the ceiling. As Ian deftly scurried across the catwalks to another hallway on the opposite side, a pair of Aspis stepped out from the behind the columns, wielding swords and darts.
As Maur entered the room, he realized the entire room was a giant trap. If anyone was knocked from the catwalks into the cages below, large grates would slam shut, sealing them in the cages. A precarious battle erupted between the party and the aspis.
The battle ended with both aspis dead, and Brynnan trapped in one of the cage traps. A third aspis emerged at the far passage, challenging the party as they tried to free Brynnan. As this one fell, Ian, Maur and Gideon charged down the hall, only to be jumped by a fourth aspis, this one brandishing a thw-handed sword. Once he was dispatched, the control room for the trap, still holding Brynnan, was found.
With Brynnan now rescued, the party pressed forward, finally arriving at their goal. A large room outfitted with numerous cages holding slaves. A wave of orcish guards confronted them, but were quickly dispatched.
As the orcs lay dying, the party moved to release the many slaves. Scanning about, they noted that while Yara was not among their number. A young woman that nearly matched her description was, however – it seemed that Ashton had spoken true, with what little he had to go on. One of the slaves, Lewis Hudson, was more talkative than most, informing the party that a group of three slave buyers had fled down a south passage as the party fought the orc guards. He also mentioned that the leader of the slave pit, Sturm Buckholtz, usually left through a passage to the north.
Feruch and Brynnan volunteered to escort the slaves out of the dungeon, via an entrance to the Undercity Tunnels they located near the orc den. The party entered the north passage to confront Buckholtz.
The hallway to Buckholtz chambers was rigged. Despite Ian’s best efforts, somehow the trap got by him. The hallway ended at a narrow stairway dropping ten feet and then blocked by a door. As Ian opened the door, the steps suddenly tilted forward, like a chute, sending him sliding through the doorway down thirty feet into a large, round, well-lit chamber. As he came to rest, he was instantly pelted with a barrage of crossbow bolts from all directions. Most bounced harmlessly off his armor or the stone floor, but one dug painfully into his thigh.
He was on a central hub surrounded by deep pits of sewage with an outer stone ring circling about it. Four stone bridges spanned between the outer ring to the central hub, like spokes on a wheel. Ten orcs, armed with swords and crossbows were spread along this outer ring, hastily reloading for another volley. To one side, Ian saw a large nook massed with several crates and barrels. A wooden table sat in the middle of this nook, where Ian saw Buckholtz rise to his feet. Several large weasels, half as tall as Ian leaped across the bridge, scurrying between the orc’s legs, charging towards the halfling.
“Kill them all!” Buckholtz yelled, quickly taking a sip from a potion and disappearing.
A desperate battle erupted, as the weasels mobbed Ian, threatening to tear him to pieces. Maur, Gideon, Bel, Ronas and Uetha, in turn, quickly slid down the chute to Ian’s aid. Volley after volley of crossbow bolts tore through the party, as Stavislav hurled spell and arrow from above to aid the heroes.
As the last of the weasels fell, Gideon pressed across a bridge to silence the orcish bowmen. Ronas rushed across another bridge, intent upon buying time for Uetha to heal the badly damaged halfling and dwarf. At this moment, Buckholts appeared next to Uetha, driving his dagger down towards her. Surely the Elder Gods were with her, enabling her to catch sight of him from the corner of her eye and spin at the last moment. She barely avoided the thief’s backstab, quickly bringing her long sword to bear.
Stavislav cast a spell outlining the would-be assassin in a purplish-blue flame, preventing him from becoming invisible again. Maur lunged forward, driving the slave lord away from the priestess. With a series of swift blows, he disarmed Buckholtz, knocking him unconscious. Meanwhile, Bel and Gideon finished off the last remaining orcs.
Uetha quickly finished healing the rest of the party. Their wounds were grievous and plenty, and while her spells were now depleted, she managed to stop their blood loss, reviving their strength and giving them the resolve to continue.
Searching Buckholtz’s lair, they found many food supplies, chains and shackles, as wells as a Letter from Edralve to Buckholtz.