We needed rest, so we holed ourselves up in the fancy bedroom, and barricaded the door. The night passed uneventfully, except for Cohl hearing something moving around in the wee hours of the morning. The next day we prepared ourselves for what we hoped was the final confrontation with Nualia. This narky place reeks of goblins, and I can’t wait to leave. Patrick was able to identify some of the gear we had picked up, including some useful scrolls, and a magic cloak.
We set off for the stairs behind the secret door, with me scouting the way. As we approached the stairs, we heard a moaning coming from below. Quietly checking ahead, I found a door. Cracking it open, I saw Chief Ripnugget and two of his cronies waiting for us, despite the fact we had killed them the day before. The slackness of their features, the low moans escaping from their throats, and the fact they still bore all the wounds we delivered yesterday led me to conclude they were now zombies. Great. The only thing worse than a goblin…. an undead goblin. We rushed into the room and in no time flat we had re-killed the green pests. The room we were was canted severely to the west, making it an uphill climb to reach the door on the other side.
On the other side of the door was a curiously shaped hallway. About midway down there were two alcoves on either side, each bearing a statue. Each statue held a metal glaive. On the far end was the remains of another statue, and a stone door on either side of that. Dead center, between the statues, was a strangely polished section of floor. I snuck up to that section and checked it for trap mechanisms. I didn’t find anything, but that only served to heighten my suspicion. I nimbly leapt across, avoiding the polished area. Nothing happened, so I began inspecting the statues. Other than noticing that the arms of the statues were designed to move (almost guaranteeing that this was a trap), I found nothing. Chaff came forward with the body of one of the goblin zombies, and dropped it squarely between the statues. Sure enough, it sprang a deadly trap. Portcullises dropped down, sealing the small area, and the statues started swinging their glaives around, chopping the carcass to bits. Then the floor gave way, dumping the pieces into a pit.
Now that I had seen how it worked, I tried again to find and disable the mechanism. I made on statue inactive, but the floor and the other statue eluded me. We decided that jumping the spot was the only way past. Cohl and I moved ahead, trying the door on the south side of the hallway. Finding another short passage, we moved in to give the others room to land. With us all on the other side, we preceded further into this hellhole. We came to an “L” shaped chamber, with double doors on one end, and what appeared to be a huge pile of gold coins on the other. While I inspected the doors, Chaff did the same for the coins. I found nothing of interest, but Chaff determined the coins were an illusion. It was just a stone carving, but it had coin sized slots in it. We agreed to drop a gold piece into one of the slots. When we did so, the whole column of coins shifted, and rotated in. Beyond was another chamber!
As I entered to scout the room, a strange and menacing voice filled my head. “Let me out!”, it said. As I started a mental conversation with the voice, I determined it must be Malfeshnekor, the trapped thing from Tsuto’s journal. I tried to gleen more information from it, but all it offered was the “honor” of a swift death. Not exactly the best bargaining I’ve ever heard. It did mention a key that would open its door, though. We decided to let the bastard rot a while longer while we explored more of this floor of Thistletop. In one room we found bones, torture implements, and lo….. the key to Malfeshnekor’s prison, a seven pointed star. Chaff pocketed the key (I believe the crazy half-drow wants to open the door and try to kill whatever or whomever Malfeshnekor is). Beyond the third set of doors in this chamber we found what can only be described as a permanent illusion. The image of the same glaive wielding man depicted in the statues, saying something in a strange language, but the message seemed to be stuck repeating itself.
Determining that we found all we could in that section, we moved on to a new area. Beyond the double doors in the “L” shaped chamber we came upon what looked like a crypt. Along the walls were sarcophagi, standing upright in separate alcoves. One section of wall was conspicuously void of an alcove, so I examined it for a secret door. Sure enough I found one, and once I opened it, we could hear the sounds of fighting coming from down a set of stairs at the end of a corridor. Hurrying along as fast as we could while trying to stay silent, we came to a small chamber that opened to the water of the bay on one end. A lone human swordsman was battling what appeared to be a giant helmet with crab legs. Assuming the warrior to be Orric, the only underling of Nualia we hadn’t found yet, we moved in to help him defeat the helmet crab. We figured that he would be answering no questions if he were dead.
We vanquished the helmet, and turned our weapons on Orric. I demanded he drop his sword, but promised he’d live f he gave us some information. Looking around, and realizing he was injured and outnumbered, Orric complied. Actually, he was refreshingly candid. He told us he was a mercenary, hired by Nualia to co-ordinate the defense of Thistletop, and her operation there. He said Lyrie, the lady mage we killed, had also been an employee, uncharged of helping the research. Unfortunately, Orric didn’t know much more than that. What Nualia was trying to accomplish here, or what Malfeshnekor was, was beyond his pay grade, apparently. He did tell us Nualia could be found in her study, through the one door we hadn’t tried yet, and that she was guarded by another Yeth Hound. For his honesty, and his cooperation, we allowed him to leave the island by a rickety boat moored in the cove. Honestly, it looked far from seaworthy, and I doubt we all would have made it to shore in the doomed vessel.
Knowing that the fight with Nualia was coming p next, we formulated a plan. Chaff blessed us with the divine power of his god, and Patrick cast a spell on our weapons, imbuing them with magic. Chaff then made me invisible, and Patrick used a scroll to create an illusory double of me. Prepared thusly, I opened the door to our enemy’s study, and my double rushed in. It was soon met by a charging Yeth Hound, who tried to close its jaws around the illusion. Nualia and I traded a few verbal barbs as I moved into the room silent and unseen. Cohl and Chaff also moved in, past the Yeth Hound, and Patrick tried to draw its attention with his bow, after hitting it with a Tanglefoot Bag. The Hound chased Patrick out into the corridor, and the other boys and I quickly surrounded Nualia. Chaff laid into her with his maces, bringing down righteous judgment, and Cohl flew into a frenzy of powerful blows. My kukris found the weak spots in her armor, cutting deep. Nualia called down sickening power, sapping us of our life essence with negative energy. Despite her attempts to ward us off with her power, we able to take her down in less than a minute. Patrick, in the other hand, was not so lucky. Just as Nualia dropped, we heard Patrick also fall to a viscous bite by the Yeth Hound. That was the last thing the Hound ever did, though, as Chaff met it half way and crushed its skull in.
I rushed over to Patrick and determined that he yet lived. He was unconscious, but stable. We were all hurt. I had blood trickling out of my nose from Nualia’s blasts of harmful energy, as did Chaff and Cohl, but we had done it. We had defeated Nualia and her threat to peaceful Sandpoint. All that was left was to revive Patrick, search Nualia and her study for clues, and, if we could, take out Malfeshnekor. Oh, and get the hells off this rock……