We continue exploring, beginning with the door propped closed with the chair. A long corridor stretches out with two doors along the left side and another at the far end. As we approached the middle, a secret door opened on our right with a long corridor sloping upward – apparently triggering on our approach. As we moved away again, the secret door closed again. All three doors in this corridor appeared to be locked/barred from the other side.
Doubling back and investigating the original main hall, we uncover a horrible, stinky room with a strong lock on the inside that would require a key to get out. I realize this is a room where flesh golems are created. Between Menelaus and Tarak, we determine that flesh golems can be very dangerous, being immune to many magical spells and requiring significant magical weaponry to hit. There is a book that has recipes and similar describing the process. By skimming this, we determine they are relatively stupid and about our speed, are slowed by fire and cold, but made stronger by lightning.
Across the hall, we hear some chanting and prayer. We prepare for an ambush and quietly rush the door, taking the four low-level acolytes praying to a statue of Unklar by surprise. Closing the door behind us to minimize noise. We quickly dispatch three, upon which the remaining one readily surrenders. He has had second thoughts of late and will happily help us. The golem wanders all the corridors, but appears to leave the robed priests (and anyone led by them) alone. He says Nepherus (the fancy quarters we found) holds great sway over Heimer. If he’s not down here, he is elsewhere up in the keep. He is a great manipulator/wizard; he carries spellbooks with him.
He is supposed to avoid Nepherus’ quarters and the Black Pits. Two priests above them whose commands they must obey; they are quartered further down the halls.
No visitors that Nepherus has ever shown deference to; he is a very self-contained and competent man.
He explains the secret door leads to the palace cellars and out into the keep proper, then into the city. The corridor behind them leads to guard rooms that are shut/barred to keep the flesh golem out. Priests are to knock and enter to retrieve the guards for shift changes (the guards prohibited from leaving on their own for their safety…)
After letting the one acolyte escape to rethink his ways, we discover a long room with tables and 5 fresh corpses laid out (presumably awaiting incorporation into a flesh golem…)
Another smaller room has several empty cages. The next room has racks of coats and robes.
A very long (but lit) corridor extends further away and turns to the right and shortly hooks back towards the guard rooms, exposing a medium sized room with dried rations and several doors. As we explore this and the first pantry off of it, we see a flurry of arrows coming from slits that we hadn’t noticed the first time through.
Avonde tries to bash down a door, but fails; Kiint succeeds, but then a burst of sound echoes through the room, stunning Avonde and Menelaus and doing damage to the group. Several guards rush through while a wizard hides in the corner. Tarak cast Hold Person on the priest. Avonde rushes in and kills several guards in a single blow. Tarak takes out another guard at the door, Menelaus hits a guard defending the priest and Kiint kills another. Menelaus finishes off the remaining guard and the priest looks very uncomfortable (even while Held). As we close the door behind us, Avonde binds and gags him and removed all possessions.
Tarak casts Detect Magic and determines that the very fancy White Ermine Cloak (from Nepherus’ room; Avonde carrying), and fancy Hammer (Tarak takes) and Leather Jerkin (Kiint takes to carry) from this priest all detect magical. We dispatch the priest and continue searching onward.
Another sound burst hits us as we open the next door, stunning Tarak and knocking Menelaus out. Four guards and a priest huddle in the room and we hear commotion from down the other corridor. The priest cast Hold Person on Avonde as two more guards come and begin attacking Tarak. A crescent room (former shrine) was being worked on to repurpose; it was beat up and sculptors were working on refinishing it…
We find a guard dog tied up, who begins barking, but we knock him out or dead.
To our best knowledge, we have cleared and mapped this level. We release the other guards down the pit (lowering them down the rope), warning them that the keep has been taken by indescribable evil and their only hope for redemption is to escape through the sewers and not return.
We rest in one of the guard rooms, listening for anyone to do a shift change, and manage to get enough rest to heal up and prepare spells.
Deciding to head up into the keep, we begin ascending the ramp and soon enter an area of magical darkness. This lasts for a short distance and we emerge from a false panel/pitch black mouth. Upon entering this room, we hear a deep moaning that causes us (all but Kiint ) intense fear at ever entering the mouth again. Kiint and Tarak find a secret door that leads into a 20′ × 20′ room. Avonde opens it and surprises four guards. We make quick work of them.