We had left our heroes just after the battle royale with Zarr and his forces. They had emerged triumphant but not wholly unscathed:
In her close encounter with Zarr, Jobi had witnessed something she could only describe later as a vision from Sarenrae which had the effect of making her immediate future goals come much more sharply into focus and she 'knew' what path her life must take.
Asphodel also experienced what could only be described as a life changing event, although at this point, it was very unclear if this event was for the better or not. She was currently huddled up in a corner of the room rocking back and forth and unintelligibly mumbling to herself. Zola stayed close to her and tried to comfort and reassure her that all was safe now. Jobi and even Zerak attempted to also make her feel better (though Zerak, well.. let's just say this isn't his strong suit and leave it at that).
The party, the paladin, the blind dwarf, Enda, and the rest of the rescued prisoners rested in the room where Zarr was defeated for a day while Asphodel slowly regained her composure. They all gathered up everything of value that Zarr's forces had and packed it all up. Just after the battle, Asphodel had found a strange magical card, like a playing card, on Zarr that had a crude drawing of a cell with heavy iron bars and the word "donjon" written on the bottom of it. When she first held it, it seemed to her that the card "told" her everything about its magical powers - as if it <i>wanted</i> her to know and use it. Being on now real mindful cognizance, she secreted it away the card and did not share any of this knowledge with the rest of the party.
Soon Asphodel was up and ready to go on, though she had not the will nor the confidence to summon her eidolon. Everyone agreed that just sitting in this room was not a great idea and that they should start moving. So Enda pointed out the way that they should go in order to reach the area where Rutherford had disappears (at least the way that she remembered). Blackwell led the group check for traps along the way. His luck did not hold out for him though and he found a pit trap the hard way. The floor broke free when he was right in the middle of the trap and he just wasn't able to catch himself before falling. The pit was 30 feet deep with many foot long spikes sticking up from the bottom and he managed to impale himself on six of the nasty things, severely injuring himself. At this time, Jobi remembered she had a climbing kit and got it our so they could get Blackwell up quickly and get him healed. (Its unclear as to how long she has had this climbing kit and if it would have been useful the several times that she had to actually climb).
Blackwell then failed another attempt to find traps and nearly got pummeled by a gaggle of small darts firing out of the walls. Fortunately for him, his quick reflexes saved him this time from suffering any damage. Soon after they came upon a chamber that was the last place that Rutherford was seen. It was maybe 60 foot square and there was a body of a half-orc in the middle of the room surround by miscellaneous debris from battle plus what looked like old papers and books. The books started to crumble away as they were touched, so Asphodel used her mending spell ability to try and fix one of the them. She then picked it up and saw that it had something to do with a place called Sigil. Zerak recognized that name as belonging to the city that is supposedly at the center of the multiverse on the plane called the Outlands and decided to keep the book for later reading. Searching the rest of the room they didn't really find anything useful until Asphodel noticed the faint outline of an archway. Enda was sure this was the place and then spoke the passphrase she hear Rutherford speak in elven, "Show Me Sanctuary."
Once this was spoken, the faint outline of the archway began to glow all the way to bright daylight then went out. Left in its place was an open archway that only black was seen beyond it. Zola and some others were wary of continuing on into the unknown with Asphodel in her current state and felt that they should continue to find the elevator out of Undermountain and come back once she had regained her confidence. Zerak pointed out that there was no guarantee that they would be able to find this place again easily since the nature of Undermountain was always shifting and rearranging itself. So Kel used her remove fear spell on Asphodel and that seemed to give the halfling just enough confidence and courage to attempt summoning her eidolon again, and this time she succeeded.
Blackwell stuck an arrow into the black archway and pulled it out again, just to make sure that stepping into the blackness would result in some catastrophic or fatal injuries. The arrow came out just as it had gone in so at least that much of it seemed safe. And then everyone went through the portal.
The heroes found themselves in a large, dimly lit room that resembled a large library mixed with a wizard's laboratory. Lots of book shelves with hundred of volumes lined the room. At one of the long heavy tables sat two men. Both were very pale looking; one was around his mid thirties, and the other late fifties and they both looked at the party in unison. The younger of the two asked, "Who are you and what are you doing here?" The party kind of stumbled on their words with no one really taking the lead in the conversation. The two men were patient and polite, never showing any aggression to the party and tried to get them to talk about their purpose of their intrusion. Finally it came out that the party was hired by Lady Lestra to find Rutherford or evidence of his demise.
The younger one then announced that he was Rutherford and that the other man was indeed his father, Lord Quarren. Rutherford was only mildly interested in the fate of his fellow members of his adventuring group, for he thought that at least some of them were hired by Lestra to be his undoing, just like Lestra had done to his father over three years ago. Lord Quarren had survived the betrayal but it was not made clear to the party why Quarren hadn't returned years ago to confront Lestra. The story about Rutherford hearing his father call to him was in fact actually true. And Rutherford had succeeded in finding him despite Lestra's treachery. Rutherford asked that the party report to Lestra that he was dead and that would play into what he and his father had planned very nicely. But he did not elaborate on that plan and our heroes didn't ask. Rutherford gave the party his signet ring and his family dagger to give to Lestra as proof of his "death" and the party agreed to deliver the items and relay his demise. It was at this time that zerak started to make a realization. He had been casually wandering around and looking at the place and discovered a coffin behind one of the book cases and started to get a little creeped out. He took a long hard look at the two men and started to see something - unnaturally pale complexions, tightly drawn skin on the hands, a very commanding presence about them. He tried to subtley let Jobi and the rest of the party in on what he was thinking - so everyone started to be a little more observant and each of them smelled the faint sickly sweet aroma of death, and see a small pile of corpses in the far back corner. So they quickly took their leave of the men and headed back out through the archway, which on this side, was an arched wooden door. The men bid them farewell and said that they should visit the Umbrusk manor in Waterdeep one month (or later) after they give the news of Rutherford's death to Lady Lestra and they could thank them properly for what they had done for the two of them.
The heroes reentered the room when Enda and the rest of the people had waited for them. They told Enda that they had found Rutherford's remains and showed her his ring and dagger. She was saddened for she had really liked Rutherford, but not surprised that he had met his end. And so they traveled on to find the elevator back up to the Yawning Portal Inn, which turned out to be only another half hour of traveling away from their current location. once they got to the elevator room, Asphodel flew up to the surface just to make sure that nothing fishy was going on up there, all the while with Zola covering her ascent via readied crossbow.
Asphodel's emergence from the well caused quite a fright in the taproom but quickly erupted in shouts, whistles, and claps of joy once she was recognized as one of the group of rescuers that descended into Undermountain a week earlier. She told the crowd that they had rescued more people and to send the elevator down to get everyone. Duncan and the crew gladly obliged, knowing now that more people would again brave the depths (and pay him for passage) now that a group had successfully returned true heroes. Once everyone was brought up, the patrons (and Duncan) were very impressed at how many people were rescued, not to mention the fact that all the heroes survived. Zerak decided to play the piano and did a fantastic job, further increasing the party atmosphere. Then Blackwell delivered a rousing tale of their adventures in Undermountain - with the whole party gaining reputation especially when the tale of the battle with the green dragon came up - a tale made more impressive by the fact that the green dragon parts were brought back by the party for all to see (and a local happy wizard to buy). Old Stannoc paid out everyone's bets on themselves, obviously not very happy with having to pay out so much platinum, but not too depressed for he knew that there would be a new uptick in business because of the party's success.
The adventurer's also sold off some more of their spoils, had a feast fit for heads of state and a very restful night, enjoying the best rooms in the house. Before retiring for the night, they made some new purchases of magical gear, other supplies, and Jobi even got herself a magical tattoo around her right eye, allowing her to read magic whenever she wanted to. All in all it was a profitable adventure in Undermountain. The captain of Lestra's ship was also in the bar and said that he was ready to leave in the morning if they wanted to go back to Neverwinter. The party made plans to join him at his ship in the morning.
The next morning when the party was walking on the docks, they got an uneasy feeling just as they were ambushed by some unknown assailants. Asphodel was the first to notice the attackers on the roof of a nearby warehouse, but too late to do anything about it - they got the jump on them. First they were targeted with tanglefoot bags - Zola, Zerak, Kel, and Blackwell all got hit by them feeling their constraining effect, but only Zerak got glued to the spot from it. The next moment, three small creatures materialized right in front of the party and by the looks of them the party believed them to be demons known as a dretch. Zola was the first to act after the initial assault (surprise, surprise) and advanced slowly on one of the dretch and scored a great hit on it, though they seemed to have some type of damage resistance for the hit didn't seem to do as much damage as expected.
There was obviously a wizard somewhere for the party was next hit with a magical ice storm that pummeled everyone hard. The dretches attacked Zola and Kel and had some success against them with their claw and bite attacks. And Asphodel felt herself targeted by a hold person spell but she resisted its effects. There turned ouot to be six soldiers, three on each of two warehouse roofs who fired heavy crossbows at the party. They were also trained well for each group of three concentrated their attacks on one target, hoping to bring one down as quickly as possible. Blackwell and Zerak were the targets for the first volley, each of them getting hit three times by the skilled crossbow users. Zerak went down from the injuries and started to bleed out.
A quick look around by the party members confirmed that no city watch guards were anywhere nearby. They had been obviously paid off not to be here and not to interfere. They were on their own with this fight.
Meanwhile, Asphodel flew up to another warehouse roof to confront what she believed to be the wizards causing the massive damage to the party. The wizard was obviously well protected with some kind of spells for her normally massive damage attacks were not doing much damage to this wizard at all. It looked like the battles where creatures attacked Blackwell to no effect. But she kept her concentration on this wizard so he couldn't attack the rest of the party. And so the wizard release two scorching ray spells in a row at her, while the other combatant kept trying hold person spells on her. All this damage made something snap in Asphodel and she went into what could only be described as a wild rage - concentrating all her power against these two.
As this was going on, the of the soldiers were able to score more crossbow hits on Blackwell forcing him to run for cover and attempt to drink some healing potions, lest he fall like Zerak. Zerak had managed to stabilize and was in no immediate danger of dying outright. And Jobi was able to charm one of the soldiers and convince him to attack another soldier before she too fell from crossbow fire. The charmed soldier and his former compatriot fought until they killed each other. Kel managed to heal Zerak so he wa just barely conscious, but that was all he needed to heal himself and then use an ogre plague zombie from his robe of bones. He tossed it our right in front of the demons who concentrated all their attack on the new threat. Soon the demons had destroyed the ogre zombie, but its explosion also caused one of the demons to die. Soon Kel and Zola had finished off the demons and Zola went to heal Jobi. Asphodel had finally managed to kill the wizard and the other one who turned out to be a cleric. And then turned her attention to the last remaining soldier on the one warehouse roof, flew over and basically tore him limb from limb. After which she descended back to the pier and slumped with fatigue. The heavy strain of the last few rounds showing heavily on her face and body.
Meanwhile Blackwell was able to sneak up on the other warehouse roof where there was still three soldiers to contend with. He made a sneak attack attempt by failed, which alerted the three of his presence. Zerak put one of the three soldiers to sleep using his slumber hex. Jobi charmed another one, convincing him to attack his former allies. And Blackwell and the last remaining soldier kept on trading blows, with Blackwell missing quite frequently. Zerak also successfully put that soldier to sleep with his slumber hex and so Blackwell slit the sleeping soldiers throat from ear to ear. Zerak flew up to the roof and dispatched the first one he put sleep just as easily. So the last remaining soldier was still charmed by Jobi, (his name was George) asked him who he was working for. George said, "Margon the wizard." This was no help since they didn't know who Margon was working for and neither did George. They did find a note on his body that read:
No one could think of anyone the had met with an initial of O, assuming that it was an actual initial for someone's name. So Jobi now decided to try and give George some special suggestions about his future. She told him that he should contemplate on his life thus far and the choices he had made. She suggested that he should go to the temple of Sarenrae and devote his life to her service in an attempt to make right for all the evil he had done in his life. And George, with an expression that showed he was really thinking about all the horrible things he had done, nearly broke into tears and agreed to go right away and seek atonement. And with that, George went to find his new destiny at the hands of Sarenrae.
Now Zerak decided that the dead cleric would be very useful to him and performed a little spell of his that turned the cleric into his very own undead skeletal servant, complete with half-plate armor and weapons. And the party decided that they should take Margon with them on the ship so that Zerak could cast a speak with dead spell a bit later in order to get some more information about who their employer was. And with that, Blackwell shifted back into human form and the party continued down the pier to Lady Lestra's ship. Though how they were going to convince the ship's captain to allow them on with an undead servant and a dead body is a question for next week's adventure...