The session opens with a brief argument between the PCs: Trahaern was awarded with a fine weapon, and Ariana has her shiny new armor, but Hloomawl hasn't gotten anything except castoff orcish gear! Why's he being left out, huh? Nesta is feeling equally left out of the 'fantastic gear' bonanza.
Ariana, who has basically been living in the forge all week, is short on patience: She's just following the whispers of Völundr, she makes what he tells her to make, there's only one of her, she'll get to things for Hloomawl - and others - as soon as she can, unless someone else wants to join the priesthood with her which would actually be nice.
The complainers back off, still pretty peeved. Ariana then feels bad about the outburst and stays up all night channeling Völundr's inspiration to make Hloomawl a new big flail. She drops it at his feet the next morning and stomps off grumbling.
Finbar, meanwhile, has asked the Resistance leaders still at Camp Liberty to investigate an oddity: on a hill next to the orcish fortress, there's a fence. Behind the fence is a stone wall, topped with spikes. Beyond the wall - visible from the top of the fortress' watchtowers - are what looks like pillars with something crystalline on them, and some ruined buildings. It'd be nice to know what's in there. The group gathers (with Ariana still quite tired) and proceeds to discover that whoever built this wall and this fence seriously meant to keep out the curious.
- Just past the fence, someone's dug a lot of gopher holes, and dumped caltrops in the bottom of them. Ariana discovered these by putting her foot into one, fortunately taking no damage because she's wearing DR 11 boots.
- Laying down heavy planks to cross the field of gopher holes, we discover that a trench has been dug around the stone wall's perimeter, then covered with a light lattice and some grass. We manage to detect this before anyone falls in.
- Climbing to the top of the wall, the spikes aren't much of a problem if we go slowly.
- There's a trench inside the wall, too. The orcs were obsessive.
- The six pillars are topped with crystals. Nesta gets close to one and narrowly dodges a bolt of lightning, which appears to burn the crystal out. Ariana hunkers behind a large wooden shield and gets blasted backwards by the next pillar; turns out you can't Block lightning bolts.
The PCs' solution to this is to wrap Ariana in three layers of the heaviest leather armor we can find, and have her walk into the middle of the trapped columns. This, much to my surprise (and Mark's amusement) works: the other four crystals zap her for no effect.
With the traps neutralized, the PCs discover that the pillars with the crystals atop them were surrounding... a hole in the ground. It appears to lead into a basement underneath the ruins. Naturally, we investigate: Mikael and Hloomawl hop down (with a light source) and immediately hear angry hissing and cries of 'FLESH! EAT THEIR FLESH!'. A pack of ghouls swarms out of the darkness.
Ariana leaps down to join them, Nayla prepares to defend her friends from above, and Nesta - clearly wholly invested in her compatriots' survival - keeps getting a rope set up to climb down carefully.
The fight against the ghouls takes most of the session, and is mostly - though not entirely - one-sided. A well-armored undead knight (it looks like the plate is bolted on) is shot in the eye by Nayla. Twice. Mikael peppers smaller ghouls with arrows; Ariana needs a moment to get to her feet, but then begins simply staving in skulls with her blacksmith's hammer. Hloomawl smashes most of the brains out of a ghoul and then blocks for Mikael. When the Ghoul Spellcaster blasts Ariana in the back with a deathbolt, Hloomawl charges off and engages, keeping the ghoul wizard contained while everyone else finishes off the other monsters.
Nesta takes her time getting the rope ready. After all, it's dangerous down there.
All in all, after a bit less than ten seconds of pitched combat, the PCs stand victorious (though not unscathed) and the ghouls are all dead. Well, dead-er. Looking around, while none of the PCs is terribly familiar with pre-Empire worship practices, this is clearly a temple that's been desecrated, smashed, and burned; it also looks like there are crypts off to the side. What looks like a door to the north has been blocked off by stacked rubble that has been piled to keep something *in*. Naturally, the PCs clear it away, and while they don't hear anything beyond, something back there stinks to high heaven...