Training under the belt and gathering background completed, the company agreed to take the 500 Griffon ransom for the four hostages the bandits claimed to be holding. Guided to Bard’s Hill by Sean O’Leary, the party make the appointed meeting with Olberat, the bandit leader. Yoriek begins by requesting to see the captives and shows that they have the gold. By distracting him, Chiad is able to cast a Charm Person spell on him. Successful, she convinces him that instead of the full ransom, to accept on 150 Griffons and the magic horn she possessed. Without bloodshed on either side, she saved part of the ransom, unloaded a cursed magic item, and secured the release of the hostages. Additionally, she was able to determine that the bandits were leaving the area and heading toward Hommlet or Dagger Rock.
Deciding to return immediately with the hostages, they return to Lo Reltarma. Pleased with the return of the students and a good portion of the ransom, she offers to pay them to finish the mission of the missing Janus and party. The party accepts and they set off to return to Bard’s Hill the next day.
When they arrive, they find dead bodies of humans in the entry tunnel. Concluding that they were companions of the bandits, they pressed forward and found evidence that Mij’s passing by this area. In the entry, they found the bodies of the dead vulchings. Taking the passage to the north, they surprise a group of nine kobolds. Using that to their advantage, they are able to kill most of them before they can react. Combat goes their way and they finish them off without taking any casualties. They find about a hundred Bits, ten Griffons, and an unusual amulet.
Continuing on, out the West exit, they traverse a long hall to another chamber where xvarts are crouched behind a pair of turned over tables in a defensive posture. Having heard how quickly the combat went with the kobolds, the xvarts decided that an attack wasn’t worth it. The asked for passage to leave, that their issue was with the dead kobolds. Wary and suspicious, Yoriek made the decision to let them go. The xvarts used the opportunity to escape the vicinity and they departed without incident.
Deciding to leave by the north exit, a short corridor led to a narrower but longer chamber, that judging from the dust, had not seen a visitor in some time. Yet despite the dust on the tables, the lamps, and the strange hook with a tripod, the cabinets had been moved to block off the northwest corner from view. Exploring further, the party discovered a leathery skinned bipedal winged creature sitting in an apparent comatose state. Despite attempts to awaken it, there was no response from the creature. Finding little of interest, they decided to retrace their steps and check out the southern exit from the previous room.
They discovered a large circular room that seemed to be a hub of some sort for the carts they found about the complex. Unfortunately, this room also made a great home for several hundred bats, which the light from Chiad’s magic sword disturbed. While a bit scary, the party was mostly unscathed by the encounter, just a couple of minor bites from the bats. After about six minutes, the bats had cleared the room and the companions could see central hub more clearly. They came to the realization that the east-west exits were a continuation of the main entry corridor. Deciding that answers were more likely found deeper in the complex, they chose the west exit. A large gate blocked their progress and a door in the gate was locked. They made the call to be on the lookout for the unusual triangular key that appeared to be needed for the large lock.
As they continued south out of the main hub, Yoriek began to understand that the layout of the complex was symmetric. However they found the chambers to the south had more damage, not only to the rooms themselves, but the documents and accouterments contained within. In the next two chambers they found nothing alive. First they came across a dead Al-mi’raj, its head nearly sliced completely off and its horn carved from its skull. Pushing on to the next chamber to the south, they found the remains of Janus, Mij, and Samirah along with several bullywug corpses. While sad for their loss, they were not so sad to prevent them from taking the treasure the dead party had acquired.
They explored the southern end of the complex further, looking for the key to the gate off the west end of the hub. The discovered the rats nest and the papers that the rats had destroyed for nesting material. Finding no key, they had just made the decision to go back to the strange comatose creature, when it surprised them and attacked. Argus took the brunt of the attack by sheer virtue of location. Argus was injured, but well placed arrows from Artemis and Arella pierced the creature, while Argus gathered his wits and was able to finish it off. Yoreik used a spell to heal his wounds. Collecting the gemstones it was carrying, the rushed of to where he was located originally.
Arriving there, they found that the creature had treasure, but no key. They were perplexed until they realized that the hook and tripod item on the dusty table was, in fact, the key that they were looking for. Sensing that they were near the end of their search, they hurried back to the gate and unlocked it. The antechamber beyond contained a cart and the wall was partially crumbled. Their inattention and the camouflage of the attackers led to them being surprised by a pair of vilstraks. Sustaining some minor injuries, they were finally able to kill the rock creatures. The crumbling wall was where they had hidden some of their treasure that the party quickly collected.
They were about to enter the final repository when the columns came to life, swords drawn and blocking the way into the chamber. The warrior women that the columns had become said that they could not pass without the authority and the key. It took a few minutes but, Chiad realized that the key was in the document Portia had found. The key was the phrase, “Knowledge is Power”. Yoriek came to understand that the authority referred to the mantle of office mentioned in that same document. He was able to figure out that the strange amulet taken from the kobolds was that mantle. Presenting these to the columns, they were granted passage. Here they found they tremendous treasure trove of information that Portia was seeking. Taking the magical items they found and sample of some of the books they found, they returned to the capital, paid taxes on their gains, and retired for the evening.