Zerak and Jobi rushed across the "falling ceiling room" and quickly entered the blasted laboratory to check on their friends to make sure no one was seriously hurt. Kel was hurt a bit and required some healing but nothing the party couldn't handle. Soon after everyone was done healing the other two doors oout of the previous room burst open and out poured more of Zarr's troops investigating the explosion from the lab. Fully 7 hobgoblins, 7 kobolds, and two small red dragon like creatures known as fire drakes. Half of these creatures came after the party still holed up in the lab and the other half went after the rescued prisoners, which included Enda, the halfling rogue who knew where Rutherford was last seen. At first the party was really only concerned about fighting the ones directly in front of them, but when one of the fire drakes started to breathe fire on the rescued prisoners and killed one, that's when Asphodel and Zola moved out of the room aa fast as they could to go and help them out.
Even though the hobgoblins and kobolds that attacked the party were definitely skilled in combat, they were just no match for our band of heroes (and the falling ceiling too) and soon died violent and untimely deaths. Soon after the battle, Asphodel went to check out the closest set of doors that Zarr's forces came through and saw a long, wide hallway stretching on beyond eyesight. So the party took the time necessary to rest and heal up their accumulated wounds and to move all the remaining freed captives (and Enda, the blind dwarf, and the paladin) through the "falling ceiling room" and to relative safety of the hallway before them. Moving slowly down they discovered that it ended several hundred yards away at a pair of steel double doors. It was very difficult to hear anything through the doors, although some faint sounds may have been detected, but not for sure. Blackwell was able to detect no traps on the doors and was able to unlock them as well without any issues. Asphodel attempted to open one of the doors very slowly and quietly, but luck was not on their side at that moment for the door started to squeal loudly in protest of being opened. SO she swung it open hard and fast to maybe help gain at least a little bit of the element of surprise, but alas, Zarr and his forces were alerted and ready for them.
Initially our heroes saw a human fighter standing near the edge of some upturned tables, obviously the one in charge. Also there were two hobgoblins out in front of the tables and a half-orc behind the tables who appeared to be some sort of adept or wizard. The room also contained a funny looking ballista in the corner opposite the doors the party came in at, five 10 foot diameter heavy rugs on the floor were spaced irregularly around the room. And there was another double door on the same side of the room but at the opposite end as the door they came in at. Zola shot at the one hobgoblin directly opposite her and managed an excellent shot that brought the hobgoblin low and left it to bleed out unconsciously and then immediately rushed in the room, but not being able to rush the full distance to close with another enemy. The ballista then shot at them by itself and was shooting three magic missiles a round at seemingly random targets (but always at the party members, never Zarr or his forces).
The the half-orc did something with a small item in his had that glowed red. Suddenly Kel was transported from being next to Asphodel to being directly in front of Zarr. No one else was even close to Kel when Zarr savagely attacked her, nearly killing her in one short round. Kel went down and fortunately was able to stabilize, avoiding bleeding out on the cold, unforgiving stone floor of Undermountain. The rest of the party advanced as quickly as they could into the room to try and stop the half-orc and Zarr from causing any more casualties, but luck was not initially with our heroes. Blackwell got tied up with one of the hobgoblins and made it only a few feet into the room before trading blows with the enemy. And then four kobolds popped up from behind the tables gaining sneak attacks on the party!
Zola and Jobi began shooting at the kobolds with limited success. Zerak decided to use the last of the large fireballs from their necklace of missiles and landed a great shot between Zarr and the kobolds and the half-orc. He killed a couple of the kobolds, badly damaged the half-orc, and squarely hit Zarr, but he seemed un-phased by the hit even as his clothing smoldered. Then Zola was able to get behind the tables and continue attacking the kobolds and hlf-orc. But the half-orc was able to do his teleportation trick again and this time Jobi ended up right in front of Zarr. When Zarr struck his two blows at Jobi, it would have been the death of her if not for the heroic efforts of Zerak. Zerak found his inner strength and rushed to put himself in between Jobi and Zarr, knowing full well that the blows he would be receiving in Jobi's stead would also be the death of him. But as fate has a strange way of smiling on some of us, Zerak remembered the boon he received from Halaster's puzzle with the mists and ghosts and all of Zarr's attacks just missed him and caused no damage! Jobi was knocked down to the floor and suffered some mild bruising but other than that, both Zerak and Jobi were unscathed, which gave Zarr some pause.
But Zarr recovered quickly from that small bit of bad luck and pulled out what appeared to be a card of some sort.
He made a ranged attack against Asphodel by just holding out the card in his hand and pointing it at her. In a flash of brilliant light, Asphodel disappeared with no trace or sign of her having been here at all!
Shortly after her reappearance, a group of three bugbears burst into the room from the other door and ran in to join the fray. Almost immediately, Zerak used his near signature spell and vomited up a swarm of poisonous frogs to chase the bugbears down. The half-orc adept waa brought low finally by Zola and then she turned her attention to Zarr. By now Jobi had been able to crawl over to Kel and pour a healing potion down her throat Once she was conscious again, she drank another one and stood up to attack Zarr. He was distracted by Zola attacking him from the opposite direction so she was "safe" for the moment. Blackwell finally got free from the hobgoblin he was fighting and began to engage the other enemies in the room. Now Zarr had Zola, Zerak, and Jobi attacking him with melee weapons and spells. So he had to use one of his cure potions to keep going.
Between the poisonous frog swarm and Blackwell taking shots at the bugbears, they quickly routed and tried to escape as they saw Zarr fall shortly after he had drank his potion. Kel advanced onto the magical ballista and hacked the thing nearly in half, which was all that was needed to shut it down and finally end the battle.
This was our heroes deadliest encounter yet, but they had managed to defeat Zarr without any permanent fatalities. They began to search for loot even as they were healing themselves and planning to make a camp here and rest till they feel they are ready to continue the search for Rutherford. Hopefully there aren't any more enemies along the way now that they had decimated "Zarr's Army."
Tune in next week for our continuing adventures...