After a tough fight, the party continues to pursue their foes... or do they?
The party holds a hasty conference in the hall, debating the merits of pressing on versus pulling out and heading back to camp for rest and recovery. As the louder members of the group debate, Ingvild does a careful check of the small shrine. After checking for traps, he picks up the golden wheel and attempts to clean it off. Dagmarten keeps watch over his brother, sling in hand.
"We can't waste the spells and potions," argues Raúguey, "that necromancer was south I tell you. I'm not sure why we're going this way."
"I'm not sure why we're advancing at all. You look dead on your feet, and the rest aren't much better," grumbles Durego.
"We need to make them pay for Locky's death!" says Maro. The elf is clearly angry. "We can't let him get away again!"
"And when we find him, what then?" asks Ohwatoo. "We're in bad shape, sorely wounded and our spells are expended. Likely if we meet the necromancer he'll simply add a few more zombies to his army of the dead."
"Ohwatoo is right. We also have roaming kobolds and those zombies that fled to worry about," says Rawon. "I think we should back up, deal with the corpses, and get poor Locky out of here."
"Let's check our back trail too. And maybe now is the time to check out that door by the pit," says Ingvild, rejoining the discussion. He holds out the crude gold-painted wooden wheel. "Nothing else on that rock pile, and this is valueless, but I hate to leave it here."
There's further discussion, but the tide has turned. It's time to go, with a minor detour or two. The group backtracks into the death pit room. Mordikarr and Raúguey start dragging undead corpses back into the pit, after cutting off heads. Durego, Rawon, and Ohwatoo keep watch at the various doors. Maro, Tesso, and Ingvild wrap fallen Locky in his cloak and with varying degrees of reluctance [or greedy glee] they go through his meager belongings. Ingvild takes the magical brass ring and slips it on. Maro pulls out the weird eye amulet and hands it to Ohwatoo. "Best you keep that for now I think."
Most of the rest of the gear goes to Tesso, who has little but the clothes on his back and Raúguey's borrowed mail. "Still no shoes," he mutters as he pulls the pack on.
The cleanup crew moves on to the bugbear corpses. A search uncovers two pouches, each containing a handful of gold and silver, but nothing else of value [48 GP 23 SP]. Finally the job is done. All the hacked and hewed remains are back in the pit, and the entire party smells of corpse rot, smoke, and death. Locky's remains are in the hall, near the doorway to the fire room. The group pours several oil flasks over the remains and Maro lights them up. Everyone piles out into the hall, and Raúguey spikes the door closed. "At least the smoke will go out the other doors," observes Ohwatoo.
"Let's check the bugbear lair and that door beyond the illusion pit," says Ingvild. "Then we can get out of this place." The group heads into the bugbear chamber, and eventually end up with Raúguey and Mordikarr forming a sort of human ladder for Ingvild, who then uses his considerable climbing ability to reach the door from the bottom of the pit. [the mirror did not show anything unusual in the room, or about the door]
After obtaining a precarious perch on the tiny threshold, Ingvild goes to work, first checking the panel for traps, then trying to pick the seemingly simple lock. The proper tumbler combination eludes him however, and a few thumps on the panel show that it is exceedingly solid. [as with other doors in the complex, this one is iron-bound oak] The thief tries to use the crowbar to pry open the door, but his position is precarious and there is almost no place to fit the bar's point.
Meanwhile, the others keep watch in the hall and out the door leading south. "I could swear I heard something down there," mutters Rawon, gesturing past the open south doors.
"But we spiked those doors in the hall, or at least two of them. You don't think they're back in the arrow fort do you?" asks Maro.
"Don't know, but maybe we should look. If they're in there, they're trapped."
Rawon and Maro inform the others, and while Ingvild, Mordikarr, and Raúguey clamber out of the pit, the two elves, along with Tesso and Durego, check the arrow fort. Empty. "I guess we know where the enemy went," says Durego, gesturing out the west arrow slit. The western door in the pool hall is open. "We should get moving. They may have gone for help, whoever they are."
The party packs up and moves out. Back up the hall to the fire room, through the statue hall, and up the stairs. The reptile house is quiet, and the west hall doors are closed, just as the party left them. East through cross hall, north up east hall, then around the corner, through the statue room and summoning room, and up the stairs. Crypts, pillar hall, and then more stairs to the surface, out into the hazy, hot, humid sunshine, blinking from the intense sun. Immediately the mosquitoes descend, unfazed by the corpse-rot smell.
"Wish we could take a swim," says Dagmarten, studying the blue-green waters of the nearby lake.
"After the noise we heard the other night, I'm not sure that's a good idea. Let's get moving," answers Rawon, remembering the giant thrashing sounds from the party's first night near the lake, seemingly eons ago.
The group takes another winding, indirect route away from the lake's edge, squishing across the swampy ground, taking what cover they can in the scant trees. Mordikarr looks back toward the ruined keep. "We making big mess around here. Need care when leaving or dog heads and lizard heads find trail." As the rest of you look back you can see signs of coming and going, southeast, south, southwest, north... North?
"Hey we didn't make that trail!" exclaims Rawon, pointing to the faint line of broken reeds and grass. The trail exits the ruins and heads for the lake edge. "Wait here. Mordikarr, let's check it out." The elf and wild man head back to the ruin, and circle to where the trail leaves the stoney ground. They're back in a few minutes. "Six or eight human-sized creatures. Looks like they went to the lake's edge. The mud is all messed up there. I can't tell if they had a boat or what."
"Those trogs are still around I'm guessing," says Dagmarten. "Maybe out there." He gestures at the little isle and its ruined keep or tower out in the lake.
"Best get moving, they could be watching us right now." Durego leads the way, with Mordikarr and Rawon trying to cover tracks. South and east, and then back around south and west, a winding trail that takes the group across one of the many small streams that crisscross the area. The group stops here, to rest, and eat, and clean away the stench of smoke, blood, and corpses. It... works, sort of. Refreshed and rested the group continues, hitting the old road, and following it past the camp, and then cutting back.
It's near dark by the time they stumble into the site. Gorvil, Jonquil, and Saurabh are a bit surprised to see the party. "I thought you guys were going to be gone a while," says Jonquil. "Isn't that why you carry all that food?"
"Plans change, Locky was killed," answers Ohwatoo. "Saurabh, you may want to heal Raúguey, he took a beating." The disgruntled and wiped out fighter is barely paying attention, half-asleep on his feet. He and Mordikarr had to haul Locky's remains across the miles between the Maze and camp.
Saurabh moves to take care of his wayward charge, while the other two hirelings start preparing a hot meal. There is little to report from camp. A few antelope out on the plains, a bear off to the west, and not much else. Maro tries to give the two lynx kits some attention, but they'll have little to do with him, or any of the others. "You guys really smell terrible," says Jonquil.
"Should have smelled us before we cleaned up," mutters Maro.
After a grumble-filled, but otherwise quiet meal, the group settles down and shares the story of their most recent foray with the hirelings. After that it's time for sleep. Watches are set and those not on duty drop off. It's quiet all night, though a gusty wind kicks up in the early morning, bringing cooler air from the northwest. First order of business is a couple rounds of kettle draught for the wounded. Followed by healing spells from the clerics. After that, there's little to do but hang around, rest, and recover. And bury Locky.
The group finds a small clearing to the west and dig a shallow grave. Durego and Dagmarten each say a few words, but no one is particularly comforted, and no further words are spoken as the group fills the grave and mounds small boulders and rocks over the site.
The rest of the day passes quietly. Ingvild, Raúguey, and Dagmarten, fully recovered from their wounds, decide to do a little exploring around the camp site, heading north into the more open ground there. They spend a few hours traipsing over grassland and scrub before returning. "There's a whole herd of wild horses out there," says Dagmarten, "at least fifteen or twenty. This would be good country, good farming, if it weren't for the Maze and all the things living in it."
By evening people are feeling better. A couple hot meals, even mushy porridge and jerky, improve morale, and the wounded are recovering. As night falls, talk turns to the future, and plans for the next descent into the Maze. As the sun goes down again, Dagmarten sniffs the air. "Gonna rain soon. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon."
Everyone is fully healed, all clerics have expended all healing spells today, and both kettle doses have been used. [New players, in addition to healing spells a full 24-hour rest cycle provides 1d3+CON recovery]
Spell casters need to declare their spells for the next day.
Ohwatoo can make one continual light object today, if he so desires. You may want to make one for the guys in camp, since they sit out here all alone at night...
Burning the pit and lantern use consumed FOUR flasks of oil. Durego, Raúguey, Ingvild each expend one flask. Dagmarten will expend the fourth.
End Date: September 2, Year of the Badger, nightfall
End Status: Next?
End Location: Base camp west of BPM