We start the session in the Caverns Tavern.
Day 15 out of Midhaf
Kiranth is practicing the "Transmute Party Funds to Beer" ritual. Marilena is busy with her indenture at the library, and we're trying to figure out what the next step is in our quest to restore water to Midhaf.
He tells us that the aqueduct was built in ages past by a fringe sect of the church of Moradin. They are widely regarded as a "bunch of mystics", and live today in a small monastery perched on the eastern slopes of the Firetip Mountains.
Orcs from the invading army have been exploiting a series of abandoned mine tunnels that lie between the monastery and the firetip caverns. The guard thinks that they are using these old tunnels to move troops and supplies to the armies that beseige the gates.
Our mission is to go to the monastery, warn the monks & gather information about the aqueduct, then return to the caverns by means of the mines, collapsing key points to prevent their use by the invading hordes.
After some discussion about what is in it for us, we come to an agreement that Tormore will look the other way as we cut our vigilantic (?) swath through town, in exchange for our accomplishing the tasks above. We tell him that "The Dispensable Ten" are on the job.
He gives the party a map (more or less useful) to the monastery.
It takes some skill to travel the mountains. Luckily Hrunthernn has an idea of the direction from some previous conversations with these strange clerics.
There's a skill challenge on the way - we barely pass, it costs us 1 or 2 healing surges each (this becomes important later).
We don't make too many missteps, arriving at the great wall surrounding the monastery in a few days. Come to monastery in afternoon of 3rd day out of FTC (day 18 overall).Quickly, we see, it really needed a great door to accompany.
50' tall walls, 30' tall double gates leading in. Gates are ajar. Wall not continuous above gates. Monastery main building is octagonal, apparently topped with some sort of dome, and is much taller than the walls. Has a nice view. Back wall of courtyard is the mountain itself.
Smoke is rising from inside; blood and dead dwarves are visible through the entry way; the smell of bbq wafts through the chill mountain air.
There are plinths involved.
Pretty routine - plan A - get'em. A charge through the door, the archer takes the high ground scrambling up some stairs at the wall's interior. The orcs don't stand half a chance. Statues line the path to the monastery. Its door, too, is unhinged. We approach...
Fought a bunch of Orcs in the courtyard. Orcs were dining on remains of Dwarves, being cooked, some in their armor, over open fires. Made a reconnoiter of the courtyard, and then proceeded into the main building. Immediately inside main building entrance is a chapel.
Inside, the altar has been desecrated. A craven, filthy wretch of a witch is spewing her venom and .. well . . polite company, across Moradin's emblems. She dies too but not before playing a little hide and seek and calling on some help.
Fought a bigger bunch of Orcs in the chapel. Under the main dais, which had been defaced, was a trapdoor that leads down a bit. Spiral stairs below lead to the hall of heroes.
The help came from below - a stair descending on the far side of the altar. Let's just say it didn't get prettier, cleaner or more friendly. Really no problems until we get to the lower level.
Fought another, larger, group of Orcs in the hall of heroes. Terrain control was our friend. Hall of heroes consisted of long, wide hall, with high ceiling. Lining either side of the hall were a series of pillars and loft-like sleeping quarters for the monks/residents. We have yet to see a live resident. Huge statue in the middle of room of a dwarven hero, slaying a Hydra. Manage to defeat the Orcs and clean up some of the Dwarf bodies.
Proceed further into the mountain, down several flights of stairs & landings. End up around the level of the bottom of the valley outside (~100' down from entrance of monastery). Stairs open out into a deep shaft with stairs lining the walls, and a deep chasm in the middle. We fight a bunch of Orcs on the stairs (plus 1 drake). Bruk manages to hit no one out of 6 targets but Kiranth with a burst of Dragon Breath. The dice were not really with us in this session.
At the bottoms of these stairs, the party enters the catacombs. The catacombs lead down further into the Chamber of Works. large-ish room, where dwarves used molten lava from teh heart of the mountain to forge the ancient might of Moradin into hardened steel. At least until these Orcs got here.
Room is somewhat torn apart. A spreading fire takes up one whole corner of the large room. Here a great Orog is beating the living daylights out of a left-over naked dwarf, trying to get the answer to where something is. There are also two elites and an Eye of Gruumsh. The Orog proceeds to beat the snot out of us too.
We go with Plan A ("Get 'em!"). Hrunthernn commands one to jump in the flames "You! Go jump in the healing fires of Moradin!"
Things go badly for the party. The Eye of Gruumsh buffs the baddies and the Orog hands out massive amounts of badness.
The bulk of the party is down to one or two healing surges each, and we've only got at-will powers by the third round. We also can't seem to roll well enough to hit the Orog. He's dealing out lots of damage. We try to heal the Paladin (Kaleed, Paladin of Moradin's Penitents), he starts laying on hands and fighting for us.
Bruk goes down, but is stabilized by tHrunthernn. Bruk gives his falchion to Kaleed ("He's naked, but he's got JUSTICE").
We almost all go down.
Most of us have been down and brought back.. some of us are still lying, prone, bleeding on the stone floor. We can't get past the sweeping arcful, hateful attack of this thing ... He's got our number and then a dull twinkle comes to his dull eye. "I need to know - the path to the Firetips!" he says. "I'll kill you all, slowly, if you ain't gonna say... Ha.ha ha.. "
"Sure, um .. just a second.. No problem .. we'll tell you, honest," one of the crew pipes up. "Just.. you've really handed it to us - just need - to -catch - our breath." A few minutes pass .. we line up, ready to the point the way - straight to plan A. This time he's got no chance. Can't believe the bluff worked .. and he can't believe it either. Finally his dull eyes close and he falls with a dull thud.
He may have been dismembered and thrown into the fire for good measure.
Kaleed gives the party a sacred marker (calls in a favor from the order at the monastery at some time in the future - after they rebuild to more than the one guy). We patch ourselves up - the prisoner's still on his feet - he explains the sneak attack.. Seems we cleaned that up - and hey - if one monk's alive - well - that counts for something, right?
We head out the next day and seal the remaining mine shafts leading towards the Firetips, spend a week longer cleaning up the place, and return to the Caverns proper. That last loner stayed in his church - gave us some devotionals to hand out - needs new recruits, I suppose.
We journey into the works, where we re-jigger the machines and turn the aqueduct back on. Doing so floods a number of the tunnels being exploited by the Orcs, effectively sealing them.
With literature in hand, we head back to the FTC, collapsing the other tunnels on the way.
Arrive back at FTC, return to the Caverns Tavern to plan our Next Move.