The weasel-faced sorcerer-rogue Greldean moves in behind Dziga who battles the half-drow warrior. He attempts to find an opening for a deadly strike, but Dziga is too nimble and quickly covers his temporary weakness before it can be fatally exploited. Still, Greldean’s short sword manages to get through just barely, a minor wound but it burns with poison. Greldean leaps back, and Zlith drives her spear deep into the rogue. Emeris, awaiting this moment, leaps in when the half-drow woman’s attention is diverted and brushes his fingers across her hand, pumping shadowy magic into her which drains her energy. Then the trap door in the east wall opens, and an ugly harrow elf wizard named VOCAETUN casts a spell from his wand, attempting to blind the shadowcaster and burn his eyes, but the magic is too weak. Zophas rushes up and attempts to strike the elf through the hole, but he quickly closes it up again.
On the other side of the large entry hall, more ratlings and ratlords are charging into the battle from the northeast passage as the initial group reloads its guns. Half a dozen filthy dire rats scuttle around them, rabidly closing in on battle. They are apparently all led by a double-pistol-and-saber wielding albino ratlord who commands his entourage to gun down the intruders with a series of excited squeaks. It coordinates them into a system where one group fires while another reloads, keeping up a constant barrage of dragon rifles. Vatex takes a hit and fires back, striking the lead ratlord while he shoves another round into his rifle. The elf then rushes forward and cuts down a ratling, and Early attempts to help him slow the tide of ratmen by charging into melee as well, cutting down the ratlord Vatex had wounded moments earlier. Their rush is slowed when four dire rats attack them. Vatex spinning blades and Early’s katana and pistol take them down.
With a deafening staccato burst ratmen fire another series of rounds. Early and Vatex take a bullet. Another combatant enters the battle through the illusory wall, an armoured chaos cleric called THERAL, who wields a wicked mace shaped like a coiled asp that looks like its ready to strike. Dziga avoids his attacks while he keeps up his assault the half-drow woman, knowing to take her out of the battle is to eliminate a very dangerous opponent. Greldean jumps up and runs along the wall, flipping around Emeris’ reach to backstab him. Emeris’ scaly skin repels most of physically weak the attack. Zophas attacks Theral so that Dziga does not get surrounded again. As Theral carefully avoids the massive, swinging hammer of the aasimar paladin, he calls to Zlith to fall back and abandon Greldean and the ratmen. Early falls back from the press of ratmen to help Dziga finish Greldean. The weasel-faced rogue dies cursing the cleric while Theral and Zlith fall back behind the illusory wall.
The ratlings, nearly twenty of them overall now, have spread out in the corner and the rain of bullets is becoming more of a threat. Emeris deals with this by advancing towards them, ducking bullets and taking in a huge gulp of air. He blasts a devastating cone of shadowy breath over the vermin, few of which are able to desperately scamper out of the way in time. Ten of them fall, blasted by freezing shadow, while survivors trip and fall over the piled up bodies. The albino rushes out to join the surviving ratlord and ratlings, who are too shaken up not to flee without support. Vatex and Early fight side by side against the last rats. Zophas heals Dziga and the two pursue the cleric and the half-drow. Behind the illusory wall is a locked door. Dziga curses as he snaps a lockpick. Zophas tries to smash down the door but it holds.
Emeris joins them as Dziga gets the lock open. Dziga opens the door and finds a large room painted in a dizzying array of crazy colors, and finds Theral, Vocaetun, and Zlith waiting for him. Zlith was ready for as soon as he opened the door, and nearly all her previous, gruesome injuries seem healed. She strikes a nasty wound, and Vocaetun tries to get Dziga with his wand, but to not avail. Zophas sprints past the rogue as he disappears, and tries to force Zlith back. He suffers two terrible injuries but cracks Zlith’s skull with a lucky swing of his hammer, allaying the fury of that woman’s spear for a moment. Vocaetun activates a spell and is surrounded by three mirror images of himself. Emeris enters the room followed by Early, hurling arrows of dusk at Theral. The cleric dodges and retaliates with a sonic burst that stuns the warblade and the paladin, who drop their weapons and nearly fall over.
Zlith lunges forward, trying to take down Vatex as the ranger joins the melee, his swords still steaming with the slaughter of ratmen from the previous room. Vatex grits his teeth as the tip of the spear tears through his leg, but he maintains his footing and holds keeps Zlith locked up. Dziga appears suddenly behind her, his invisibility fading as he drives Asura into her kidney. Vocaetun suddenly turns his wand against the wounded half-drow, protesting to the companions that he will help them defeat these “vile cultists”. Vatex works his swords around the weakened parries of the dying half-down, slicing an X into her throat.
No one trusts Vocaetun, so Emeris casts black fire around him while causes the mirror images to disappear and fleezes the wizard’s flesh. However, while his wand had been unable to afflict anyone, the harrow elf’s significant protection spells made him nearly impossible to hurt with weapons. Blades would deflect off his protective circle, strike harmlessly against a shield of force, or simply pass through him! Still Vocaetun pleads for his life, saying that he had infiltrated the cultists for the purpose of defeating them, and he could offer help. His pleas are ignored by the heroes, who eventually cut him down amid much frustration, but Theral condemns him as a traitor and unworthy of the blessings of chaos. Enraged but helplessly outnumbered and outmatched, Theral too is defeated in melee.
The group considers its position. A staircase in this room leads to another level below them, and this level has not been fully explored. But Emeris’ shadow magic is depleted until he can get a good rest, and the group has suffered many injuries. They fill their bags with gear and treasure from their enemies, and return to the surface.
Zophas tells them they must return soon for the Temple of Deep Chaos will not delay in buffing its defenses back up. He tells them they must return to assault the Temple again in the morning, and in the meantime he will place some men-at-arms from the Pale Tower on guard duty to make sure no cultists gain access to the apartment house.
The group heads to the adventurers’ square, selling and identifying loot. The next morning, before joining Zophas, they distribute their identified loot and sell the rest. When they are done, they have much more money and Early has acquired a ring of jumping, Emeris some powerful bracers of armor, and Vatex acquires from gloves of dexterity. The group heads to the apartment house for the next stage of their assault on the Temple of Deep Chaos.
Next: Deeper into the chaos temple, and deeper into danger! Can the companions defeat the cultists and their powerful allies? And mostly importantly, can they find Khyron?
Random Elanian Factoid: Oldtown residents sometimes talk about the “shade tower.” On bright, moonlit evenings (which are not common in Elan), a passerby near the intersection of Vock Row and Ridge Road might spy on the ground a long shadow of a round tower, even though no apparent tower casts the shadow. This tower is Kadmiel, the Shade Tower. Few people know the name “Kadmiel”, and fewer people know how to enter it.