Previously, on Phoenix Rising…
… The mastiffs were now dead as well as the three guards that had been in their midst, but the female was not and continued her assault on them. After some time it dawned on them that she must be some type of undead – probably something powerful. Kel scored a very big hit on her with her searing light spell, but it wasn’t enough to drop the enemy.…
Eventually the vampire bitch made herself known again and this time the heroes were able to destroy her. She had awoken the last of the deep slumbering guards, but once he was up and able to fight again, he found that he was the only one left. He immediately threw down his sword and flung his arms up in surrender, in hopes that the attackers would not run him through.
As this was happening, Zola was able to calm Asphodel down enough to get her to drop out of her uncontrollable rage, but not before making sausage out of the skilled fighter that had faced the group in the other room. Asphodel then, after hearing the surrendering of the last soldier, decided that she just needed to rest against the cool stone wall of the building and slumped down into a seated position.
The group started asking him questions about the layout of the place and his role in all of it. They found out that he was just a hired mercenary that decided to quit here before being skewered. So Jobi attempted her charm person to get the man to change his ways, like she had done before. After a while, however, it was apparent that she wasn’t really getting through to him about a full change of heart. The only real piece of information they got out of him was that whoever went into the basement never came out – except for the high ranking people here (i.e. the ones that the group had already killed). Nevertheless, she did manage to convince him to look for more upstanding employment in the future and he did agree to leave immediately and would not take up arms against them again. He had asked to take his sword, but the group did not let him. Zola watched him walk down the stairs and out of the castle, but not before he bent down to grab another sword just before leaving. Shortly after, Zola heard the sounds of swords clashing outside, then she went back upstairs to rejoin the rest of the group.
So our heroes searched all the rooms upstairs thoroughly, gathered all the worthwhile treasure they found and then barricaded themselves into one of the rooms in order to get a proper rest so they were at full capacity when they were to go into the basement. Luckily they were not disturbed during their rest and were able to get to the basement stairs unmolested.
Once down at the bottom landing, they found themselves in a semicircular room with one set of doors leading out. They didn’t really hear much beyond the door and so Asphodel kicked open the door to reveal the other half of the semicircular room filled with half a dozen more guards all with composite bows just waiting for them. The fight that ensued was rather short lived – for the guards here were not much of a match for the party. Some injuries were sustained but nothing major.
Soon they were exploring the rest of the area around the circular center room and found another circular hallway around the room that led to four other short passages to other rooms. What they encountered in that hallway and in two of those rooms was rather ghastly. There were sets of manacles driven into the ways and floors in every five foot square of the rooms and all along the hallway’s walls. Everything – manacles, chains, floors and walls had a coating of blood on it – mostly dried, but some in places was still coagulating. It appeared that many beings hand been chained and bled here, but for what purpose was not readily identifiable.
The eastern most room was where they found something quite unsettling. The room was a long rectangular shaped room with open brick ovens on the south wall. In front of that was half a dozen zombie-like creatures – each working at a table using meat cleavers to chop up things into smaller pieces and tossing those pieces into the ovens. In front of the tables there was a stack of desiccated humanoid corpses, neatly piled and about 4 feet in height running from east to west – some thirty or so feet in length. The zombies ignored Blackwell as he entered the room and even as he got close to the pile of bodies. But once he fired an arrow at one of them, they all turned their attention to the intruder and scrambled over the corpses to attack. The rest of the party had waited in the hallway, waiting to see what would happen, and for a moment, joked about closing the door and leaving Blackwell alone. But of course, our heroes did nothing of the sort and soon the zombies were dispatched and nothing left stirred except for the flames in the ovens.
This led the party to the last passageway out of the circular hallway – this one led to the west and also ended at a single door. This door was trapped and Blackwell handily disabled it for them. Then Asphodel listened and heard some sounds of voices, but nothing definite and decided to open the door wide.
Inside, they saw a very large chamber with quite a few things going on. To the north, there were six slabs with six naked humanoids lying on them, strapped down, silently writhing and in various states of desiccation. All of them had an object protruding from their chests – objects that looked like the same object that Arrealla had jammed into the chest of the man she had savagely raped and murdered in Zola’s vision-dream. Attending to the six humanoids were six more of the zombie like beings. Along the north wall there were at least a dozen more naked humanoids beaten and bloody – all chained to the walls and floor with manacles – apparently waiting their turns on the slabs.
The back wall had many shelves and some of the shelves had those strange vial-like objects on them – probably two to three dozen of them. And all of them had a sickly greenish glow to them.
The southern wall had an alcove where there was a strange human height pillar jutting out of the floor with three places that looked kind of like seating positions equidistant from each other. There were tubes and skull caps and other strange things protruding from the pillar at each seat location as well as round receptacles in between in each seat. They had three holes spaced around the outside rim of the receptacle which made them look like they could accept the strange three-pronged vial-like objects on the shelves.
Also in the room there were other creatures and people. There were a couple of obviously undead warriors – very powerful looking, a human warrior type and a female cleric of some religion, though without careful study of her, the religion was not apparent. She addressed the party as the door opened up, “Ah, you finally found your way here. Arrealla sends her regards. Too bad you won’t live to meet her.” And the battle began.
Blackwell decided that he was going to take on the zombie-like creatures since he had had some luck fighting them in the oven room. Zola went for the closest undead fighter and began her smiting evil to help in the battle. Zerak decided to use Black Tentacles to try and pin down the human fighter and the female cleric, but the fighter broke free easily and made his way clear of the tentacles. Asphodel went after the second undead fighter. The cleric was able to conjure up several wights to add to the parties troubles.
And this is where we have to leave our band of heroes until the next exciting episode of Phoenix Rising…