The five prisoners held by the cultists, who were to be used for vile experiments, are now freed. Emeris, Vatex, Dziga, and Early sneak up to the second floor of the apartment building to clear out the rest of the place. Dziga overhears some whispering cultists of the talking about how they murdered one of their allies, and how they expect the Ebon Hand to betray them. Dziga opens the door and rolls a powder bomb inside. As the tall, heavily armoured chaos cleric named AUDON recovers from the stunning blast, the rest of the party’s volley takes him down. The other cleric, URANIK, calls for another venom-shaped thrall to assist him, and strikes back at Dziga, but he suddenly joins his comrade in death as Vatex’s rifle bursts his head like a melon. The thrall he summoned charges from another room and grabs the elf, preparing to hit him with a devastating shot of poison from its stinger. Dziga seizes the distraction and finishes the aberration.
They search the bodies. The murdered priest was REGGALOCH from the Ebon Hand. His body carries a note from another cultist named RHINNIS, which warns of planned treachery by the Brotherhood and how they must warn their leader, MALEK. They continue on from there and find find more cocoons, some hatched and some still intact. The group carefully destroys any and kills the thralls inside. In the final room, the come across another hatched cocoon which seems to have given birth to another monstrosity altogether – a disgusting protoplasmic blob covered in hundreds of eyes and mouths that appear and reappear amidst the amorphous body. They aggressively attack the vile monster, but Early is rendered incoherent and randomly violent by the incessant gibbering of the numerous mouths, and turns his blade against Vatex! Dziga can find no vital areas to which he can make a deadly strike. The gibbering mouther ignores the cut of his blade and begins to engulfs Emeris. Early, his mind filled with the nightmares of a lunatic because of the insane gibbering noise, quickly snaps a dagger free of his sheath and plunges it into the elf as Vatex and Dziga try to defeat the monster before it consumes Emeris. Emeris’ blood is being drained by a hundred tiny bites. The half-dragon bites back, tearing off a massive piece of the creature’s flesh and it dies.
They figure it is time to retreat for now. All the enemies in the apartment have been defeated, but the group is worn down and cannot continue. They spend the next day resting and selling loot, and acquiring equipment. Their next goal is whatever lies at the bottom of that deep hole in the apartment house. Vatex spends a good part of that day in an intense, specialized training ritual to more perfectly embrace the two-weapon fighting style.
The next day everyone is well-stocked with gear and newly identified magical items. Vatex the elven tempest, Emeris the half-dragon shadowcaster, Early the warblade-fighter, and Dziga the rogue all return to the cultist apartment house. They are surprised when they find the aasimar paladin Zophas, from the Pale Tower, already there finishing off a couple of cultists who had shown up. He says that since Early told him about what happened at the Temple of the Rat God, he has been investigating cultist activities concerning the “Night of Dissolution”. Eventually, word of cultist experiments led him here, albeit after the others had slaughtered everyone there. Zophas asks if the group will work with him to explore whatever is below.
They all descend the rope ladder down the hole in the apartment. It leads to the sewer. They search the immediate area, stumbling across a cowering ratling with a gun along the way, and eventually find a very clean, new-looking iron door. Dziga picks the complex lock and disables a simple wire-based trap. Beyond is a massive entry hall, empty and quiet and dark. Its dark stones in the walls, floor and ceilings are laid out in a strange pattern that catches the eye in a distracting, even disturbing manner that one cannot quite describe. A huge banner hangs on the western wall, but no one can identify it. The only other path seems to be a passage in the northwest corner.
The group starts looking around, with Dziga finding a tiny peephole in the eastern wall. When he looks through, it is obvious someone is looking back at him! Zophas and Dziga find a 1x1 secret door around the peephole, but no way to open it from this side. In any case, they have been discovered, and as the group prepares for battle while Dziga and Zophas continue searching the wall for a secret entrance to the eastern area.
Dragon rifle equipped ratlings charge into the entry hall from the northwest passage. Emeris puts up a line of black fire around them and they drop dead. This seems to stop further access for now, but suddenly the window around the peephole is opened and two spells are cast through it. One summons a couple of lesser devils around Early. The other spell attacks Early but the tough warblade shrugs it off. Zophas runs to the middle of the entry hall and blesses everyone around him with holy power. The secret panel is closed again. While Early and Dziga kill off the little blob-like devils, everyone else prepares for all hell to break loose.
The black fire blocking the northwest passage dissipates, and four ratlings and their ratlord dash into the entry hall firing their rifles. Emeris backs away from the sudden rush of vermin toward the opposite corner. Suddenly a spear-wielding half-drow woman called ZLITH dashes through an illusory wall and strikes a brutal wound against the half-dragon, screaming fanatically about something like “the glory of the Outer Reaches.” Dziga runs to the shadowcaster’s aid, hits the woman with a vicious wound from Asura. Then another comes through the illusory wall, a weasel-faced human in a hooded robe named GRELDEAN. He lunges forward with a short sword that drips with poison, trying to find an opening with which he can sneak attack Dziga before he recovers from attacking Zlith.
Next: Emeris, Early, Dziga, Vatex, and Zophas versus the Priests of the Outer Reaches!
Random Elanian Factoid: The so-called "Seekers of the Outer Reaches" was a cult that was run out of the Temple District by the Knights of the Dawn a few years back. They were accused of narcotic-fueled acts of depravity in their small temple, as well as the murder of four young women. There is a rumor that when their sect disbanded, the remaining members joined the Brotherhood of Elan.