When the fight in the Grimmerzuhl trading post ended the party looked around they saw five Duergar Guards and a Duergar Theurge lying dead on the floor. Orontor had “encouraged” this, and the Duergar Guards at the desk had invited Akta and Krstic to “close the door behind them” as their own form of encouragement, but you are conscious that you are, at least to some degree, still in the hall and subject to its precepts.
The Grimmerzuhl trading post was like a fortress built into one of the side walls of the Seven Pillared Hall. There were several windows that looked out into the great hall, but the windows were excessively dirty plus they each had a set of metal shutters that inhibited viewing out to – or in from – the hall. The front door had been closed and locked from the inside, but the back door was only closed, as no key had been found plus the “railroad tie” door bar had been left on the floor.
The Duergar specialized in rare ores, gemstones, liquor, poisons, and alchemical reagents. The set of shelves behind the table in the front of the trading post contained odd pieces of rocks, a couple of gems on a display, and several bottles and flasks of various murky colored liquids. The remainder of the post had two rooms with beds, a dining area with a table and several chairs, and a private room for the theurge. There was also the secret passage behind the chest that lead from this room around to the front room. There were also a few closets or storage areas with barrels and crates, plus there were more barrels and crates in the hallway.
The party started nosing around the trading port, but it was Krstic who had peeked outside through the shutters and dirty windows. Several inhabitants of the hall had at least noticed something going on inside the trading post and were headed that way. Krstic didn’t see any of the mages nor were any of the Bronze Warders on the move, but the party knew they needed to act quickly.
Eldred and Miave looked at the items on the display shelf – a coin box with 20 GP and 100 SP was found, plus eight 25 GP gems were on display and all were quickly pocketed. The bottles and vials were left behind as Miave determined that none were potions. Bogar looked to secure the back door, and Renny and Akta poked around the barrels and crates, but only found mundane supplies and food stuffs.
Oester and Jenneth looked in the theurge’s room, Jenneth going through the stacks of papers found on the table and Oester picking the lock on the chest in the corner. Oester grabbed 50 GP and a pair of boots that Jenneth later determined were magic, and as Jenneth grabbed the stack of papers the party made their exit through the back door. There was some initial discussion about going back into the hall, but it was decided that perhaps it was a better option to cool their heels somewhere in the labyrinth.
After spending some time getting away from the trading post and the hall the party found a quiet hiding space where they could hole up for a few minutes to rest and review what they had found. The papers were generally mundane business things, but there was a recent request to “procure foodstuffs” that the party decided was linked to the foodstuffs order that Akta and Oester had learned about. Several of the papers initialed off with a “K”, so the party decided the theurge was likely Kedhira, ostensibly in charge of the trading post.
But still the party didn’t know where Murkelmor was, nor did they know where the duergar fortress by the name of the Horned Hall was either. Rather than stumble through the labyrinth blindly, the party reviewed the papers again for any clues. There were several members that noticed that a handful of the papers had a “three circles in the shape of a triangle” in lieu of a signature, which prompted the thought that this was something they had seen before. It took a little bit of digging, but there it was – on the map of the labyrinth there was an unnamed location that consisted of three circles in the shape of a triangle. The passageway also has the same symbol occasionally marked on the wall, so the party decided to follow the rune marks and see if they lead to the Horned Hall.
Passage through the labyrinth was similar to what the party had experienced before. There were plenty of cross passageways, some just crevices, that lead off in different directions. Voices, footsteps, and wild laughter occasionally echoed from unknown locations, but the party managed to avoid any further interruptions.
Eventually the party came to a huge crevice, certainly several hundred feet in depth if not more, and maybe fifty to sixty feet across. The path continued on, the crevice on one side and a steep wall on the other, but still giving the party passage. As the party wound their way around the crevice they eventually came to a wall directly in front of them. A secret door was found, and the party crept stealthily into a tunnel that lead ahead about thirty feel and then turned into the darkness. The party cautiously moved ahead, and found another 30 foot or so of tunnel that lead to the back side of another door. Not knowing what to expect, the party opened the door and saw the Horned Hall ahead of them.
The three buildings looked like they had been carved directly into the side was of the cavern. Two bridges crossed the span and connected the buildings and each side of the crevice. Across the crevice the party could see an open rampart that if someone had been standing there they certainly would have seen the party emerge from the tunnel.
Around another corner ahead the party could see the entrance to the closest building. There was maybe sixty-seventy feet of open passage leading to a portcullis and a small torch on the wall provided some illumination. Two large orc’s leaned again the wall on the other side of the portcullis, the party’s presence not yet detected. As the party watched several other orc’s could be seen moving around, so while a final number was indeterminate the party knew there were several additional orc’s waiting should they decide to attack.
Krstic and Bogar held back because of their stealth issues, Renny moved closer to get a better view, and Oester was able to cross the open area to the wall next to the portcullis. From this forward position Oester was able to determine the portcullis – which usually lifted up – had been damaged at some point and the door had been jerry-rigged in such a fashion that it swung on hinges and was currently locked by a huge padlock.
Several party members moved up to get a better view, but the orc’s detected someone or something and yelled in Common, demanding to know who was there. Oester took the opportunity of the diversion to grab the padlock and began to attempt to open the lock, and the party members attacked. The orc’s managed to fire of several rounds of crossbow bolts, but Oester got the door opened just as the party arrived and the battle was underway.
Eventually six orc’s blocked the doorway and offered a stiff resistance to the invaders. The orc’s were tough to kill, and just when some of them got bloodied and seemed to be at death’s door they appeared to be at least temporarily revitalized. But the strength of the party was too much and when the next-to-last orc fell the final remaining orc decided it was time to hightail it out of there.
Even with the party in hot pursuit the orc managed to get to the door, open it and move into a small hallway outside the guard room. He attempted to get to another set of doors when he was finally overwhelmed. As the party looked around they saw:
6 Orc Berserkers, each wearing leather armor, wielding a great axe and a crossbow and carrying 10 crossbow bolts
The party pulled the body of the last orc back into the guard room and closed the door behind them. While taking a short rest the party inspected the room, finding a table and chairs in one corner and a fireplace, chair, and large woodpile in the other. No GP or secrets were found and each member of the party earned 145 XP for the encounter (and an Action Point).
The small hallway outside the guard room contained six doors, one from the guard room, and one of which the final orc had attempted to reach during his escape attempt. Next week the party will determine what surprises lay behind the remaining doors.
Scoreboard: For the two encounters the party had found 20 GP, 100 SP, 250 GP in gems, and Oester claimed a pair of Quickling Boots found in Kedhira’s locked chest. The party had earned a total of 290 XP for the two encounters, giving them a total of 5840 XP (7500 needed for Level 6).