In this update, the new rescue party is following the path of the party that's been captured by Benthoc on level four. Two of the captives were able to escape and will meet the new party soon.
Banthum was disappointed. So much for the challenge of Castle Whiterock! So far he had found nothing worthy of battle. It was as if the creatures (if there were any) were hiding from him. And worse yet, he hadn't found a single tin groat. How would he pay for ale back in Cillamar if there were no monsters or treasure in the most infamous dungeon in all of Morrain?
The barbarian kicked a loose stone, which flew like a bullet from a sling and ricocheted off the far wall and smashed the wizard Marvin in the back, between his shoulder blades.
"Gah!" he squeaked as he was knocked to the ground from the force of the blow. "We're under attack!"
"If only." thought the barbarian.
Ariella the hunter studied the tracks in the room.
"These are old, but there was a large battle here and in the halls beyond. It looks as though at least thirty orcs fought with a handful of adventurers." Ariella stood gracefully and glided further into the dark, cold halls, following faint signs only she could see.
She led the group into a crude throne room, dominated by a fire pit, now cold and dark.
"This is where the final battle was fought." She crawled around the edge of the pit. "Bring that torch closer Wren. I think I can see..."
Ariella moved to the far end of the room, behind the large carved throne and touched a spot on the wall. A hidden door sprung open revealing a spiral staircase descending into the depths.
"Hold! How many times have I told you, you don't touch doors, hidden or otherwise until I have a look. I wouldn't want you to walk into some sort of mechanical trap. Who would look after Willow?" said Elriond the rogue, gesturing to the hunter's large white tiger. He was finding himself constantly having to chastise the young hunter for her enthusiasm.
Wren wrinkled her nose. "Can you smell that? It smells of death and blood." The witch peered into the darkness.
"I feel restless spirits below. Be on your guard." This was the sort of mumbo jumbo her adopted mother routinely spouted. Was she turning into her mother?!?
Marvin, who had been reading a treatise on the interplay between light and dark pustules when attempting to summon creatures from the 73rd overplane suddenly slammed down his tome.
"Spirits?!? I cast Magic Missile!" he looked about for a target and saw naught but darkness. A light bulb seemed to go off over his head.
"I shall cast Magic Missile at the DARKNESS!" he solemnly intoned.
Wren smacked him in the ribs before he could complete his spell.
She looked tired as she attempted to explain to Marvin she was speaking metaphorically about spirits.
Banthum pushed to the front of the line and stood at the top of the spiral stairs.
"I tire of this. Come. We find something to kill now. Follow." With that, the barbarian trudged down the stairs.
Rather than going down the secret stairs the DM led them to, the stubborn party wandered off, into the nearly empty level once occupied by orc slavers.
They meandered from empty cavern to empty cavern until finding a secret door in one, which led them into a small office where a dark dwarf was busy packing up pagers. The fell on him like a pack of homeless junkies on a clean needle.
They trussed him up and found that the ledgers he had were records of slaves being moved from the orcs down into the Underdark. Ariella found that her missing father had been captured and shipped off to something called the Bleak Theater, which was a large gladiatorial and meeting center (like Epcott Center) where slaves were sold, traded, and forced to battle for the amusement of their derro and drow masters (again, like Epcott Center).
The party discarded the derro accountant (yeah, they murdered him), and explored the secret door they found in this room. It led to a chamber with a large shaft in the center and a complicated mechanism of ropes and gears that raised and lowered a pair of gigantic mushroom cap baskets from this level to level 7, currently broken.
Wren cast light on a stone which she popped into her mouth, as well as a fly spell and glided down the shaft. She made her way down 60' before seeing the floor another 40' below her. At this point she saw small, dark creatures scurrying to attack. Acting quickly, Wren spit out the light stone and began flying back towards the surface, but not quickly enough. The creatures fired their crossbow bolts at the witch, and managed to hit her several times. The damage was not the problem, it was the poison on their bolts. Wren was rendered unconscious and began floating gently down towards her attackers.
Banthum saw what happened and acted quickly. He leaped into the pit (wearing a ring of feather falling) and when he got close to the fallen witch, pushed her into one of the mushroom baskets. She was safe, but Banthum was only just able to grasp the side of the basket, and was a tempting target for the creatures and their poisoned bolts.
Marvin took advantage of the situation and peppered the creatures with multiple fireballs, from which they had no protection. And while he was unable to kill any of them, he did succeed at driving them off and buying time for Elriond and Ariella to repair the elevator mechanism and pull the basket with their companions to the surface.
After securing the elevator once again, the party searched the rest of the level and found it empty. They had no choice but to go to the stairs I had put them at several hours earlier.
On the third level the group found and disabled several traps (as well as triggering one, which shattered many of Elriond's ribs).
Heading into the hall, looking for signs of troglodytes (which their noses told them were near), the party heard the sounds of a great number of creatures running down the hall in their direction. The group quickly set up to receive them and waited.
Suddenly a somewhat plain, though nearly nude human woman ran into view, followed by a beautiful elven woman, also nude save for a loin cloth. Hot on their heels were several armored troglodytes, out for blood.
A short battle ensued, and this is where we start next week.