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The group rallies and enlists one of Miles’ men and retraces their steps to the lair of the ‘witch queen’. They are all invisible thanks to the efforts of The Malformed and manage to navigate the steps to the 5th level of the zighurat. They begin searching for the concealed door that they know is present, but are unable to find it until the changing guard shift alerts them to it by exiting in the midst of the party. This begins a running battle that carries into the zighurat, and attracts the attention of the crowd in the town square. Eventually, the guards are slain, but the alarm has been raised.
The group swiftly returns to the area where the crystal vial of fire claimed the life of Kruss and explores further. A guardpost is explored and a grand meeting hall, and a curious sheet of darkness. Dudley and Thunderbear investigate, carrying the last firevial. Inside is a large audience hall, dominated by a large cauldron and a throne, flanked bya pair of large ogres, or perhaps small giants. As Dudley prepares for battle, the witch speaks a word of evil and sprouts demon wings. Thunderbear steps up to hurl the globe and promptly drops it at his feet. The ensuing explosion slays Dudley and severely wounds the barbarian, who falls victim to a command spell and is slain.
The scene that confronts the Torm cleric is grim indeed. He assesses the scene and decides a retreatbis prudent. The group escapes despite an organized pursuit and returns to Botkinsburg. They debrief the Baron, then obtain an escort to the coast road. The journey north is uneventful, and they sell the barbarian’s horses and book passage back to Impiltur.
The next few months are full of travel and settling of debts. They obtain the services of another Tormite paladin at the request of the cleric, and pick up an elf fighter through one of Malchor’s contacts.
The group plots another foray against the witch queen, and perhaps this one won’t be marred by such horrific luck.

Following the liberation of the gnomes and the removal of the local Redhat leaders, the group journeys to Botkinsburg with the news. They meet with the Baron and borrow the Baron’s personal prestidigitator to suss out a thing or three about the mirror of mind enslavement. They get news that it is a tool of the agents of the Horned One – in particular the Witch Queen – and some vague directions and a target – a ziggurat built when the Horned Lord ruled these lands, many centuries past.

The group dispatches itself to the regions surrounding the ziggurat and scope it out from afar. A massive seven-stepped pyramid caps the end of a broad avenue flanked with two and three- story buildings on either side. They approach and encounter slaves – downtrodden and dispirited, malnourished and sullen. They pay the group no mind, but the group notes that there is a robe hierarchy that exists and the bundle of spidersilk robes they looted may well come in handy. They don the robes and stride confidently up yhe steps that run from the ground level all the way to the top of the structure.

Upon gaining the top, they encounter a group of uber-orcs wearing magical chainmail and bearing magical weapons. The group attempts to bluff, but apparently chooses the wrong passageway to enter – which prompts an attack. The fight is swift and brutal and fatal for the guards. The bodies are hauled off to the side and the group hastens to descend. Within a few minutes of entering they have located and slain another group of guardians, then they are off and moving, passing by a set of huge trolls guarding the stairs.

They descend through several levels, having exceptional good fortune by not meeting anyone in a position to question them. Eventually they do make contact with a guard room, but bluff their way through. they journey onward and investigate little. They discover a few exits, though these exits only allow access to the stone tiers of the ziggurat and not an actual exit from the complex.

More descent eventually leads to trouble and the group finds itself engaged with a trio of uber-orcs. Two are slain, but one escapes to raise the alarm. The group pursues and finds their way blocked by another massive set of trolls. The group prepares to deploy the crystal fire-vials they found in the gnome complex while battling the drider. Kruss starts off the assault by dropping his vial on the ground in front of him. The resulting explosion vaporizes the hapless Kruss and nearly slays the rest of the party. Those that survive hurl a second bomb into the troll’s midst and slay them, but the poop is most surely en route to the fan blades, and it appears to be time for a decision. The group pursues, dragging the unconscious Bababobo behind them. The fleeing orce appears to have taken a narrow staircase that terminates in a glowing disc of runes.

Plunging in, the group finds itself in the courtyard in front of the ziggurat, facing the double line of buildings. It becomes clear that the alarm has been raised and the group bolts to the horses, flings themselves on board and ride like their lives depend on it – which they might well. They leave all possible pursuit well behind, then slacken their pace. Some executive decisions are made and they undertake a long journey back to the area where Miles and his crew are to be found. There they hope to hire a few fighters to help them in their second attempt to quell the evil of the Queen.

The group pauses for a moment and reflects on the fact that the orcs are more active at night, polish up their brass balls and saunter back through the orc squalor. Their luck holds and they ride back to the mines. There, they use water from the spring to restore the minds of the mining gnomes.
By the time morning comes, the party is backed by about 300 enraged gnomes that are armed with scaveneged weapons, shovels, picks and sticks. The tide sweeps into the village at dawn, slaughtering all who stand before them. The party rushes ahead of the rest and is unopposed until they encounter a pair of guards who are swiftly slain, and then the group has penetrated a second mine.
They creep about for so e time until it runs across a drunken orc and a basket of deep fried spiders…with tiny human heads. Ugh. The orc is slain and that which might be worth taling is taken. More creeping reveals little save a few spiders and a pair of nasty webbed tunnels no one is eager to explore. Oh, and the burial chamber of some sort of queen, or mayor, or other important gnome officiant.
They return to oversee the slaughter and present the gnome leaders with their finds. They are richly rewarded for their efforts and return to investigate the tunnels. Eventually they run into a juvenile spidercentaur, then a full grown version. A few rounds later, the threat is neutralized and the group finds itself having completed the accidental liberation of the gnome homes. They also find evidence of a more potent evil that oversees the operation inthe gnome homeland.

To round things out, they venture to thenearest village and engage the leaders of the red-hat goblins that have been terrorizing the area. They slay the leader, his advisor and most of his personal guard before the rest flee. They ponder future moves, including the possible destabilization and regime change in Ludensheim.

After a few more minutes of parley with MIles, the groups part ways. Miles heads off into the forests and the group explores the mines for an hour or so. They discover hundreds of gnomes – all bewitched in some way. They free the gnomes but find they are incapable of coherence. After a brief discussion they leave the gnomes and journey down a path which leads to a ridge that overlooks a small valley. The remains of the gnome settlement are visible. The gnomes discovered at the mine are surely the remnants of this town, right? Should they be avenged or forgotten?

The group presses onwards, riding into the vale of filth, past orcs that breed in the fetid squalor and towards an inn – of sorts. Therein they find a sextet of evil tainted gnomes that serve them passable food and add their fare to Mile’s tab. The group is a bit bewildered, given that Miles was declared to be aiding the gnomes imprisoned in the mines. Hmm. Stranger and stranger.

Riding their luck, the group rides towards a palisade-ringed encampment. A pair of orc guards are busy arguing and do not hear the party approach. A sleep spell buys some time and the group brazenly enters the courtyard. Therein they find an uber orc smith and a chained gnome as assistant. A guardhouse and a latrine and some sort of orc bunker complete the picture. The group talks with the smith, who informs them that there will be no more weapons until the last batch is paid for. As the group meanders away from the smith, they dismount and talk briefly while the cleric pretends to use the latrine.

As they talk, a squad of orcs leaves the bunker and marches off towards the mine the party looted hours earlier. As they depart, the party makes its move and slays the smith, the guard and the occupants of the bunker before freeing the gnome. He speaks with them and tells them of the fate of the valley and the charming of the gnomes by a magic mirror. He wishes to join the party as long as their goals and his align. He wishes to liberate his people and kill orcs. The group wishes to kill…orcs.

They search and collect what little plunder they can. As they are deciding what to do, the group of guards comes running back from the mines. The party decides that silencing them is important and allows them to enter the compound before shutting the gates and slaying them in a matter of seconds. Pausing only to make sure of complete lack of survivors, before sauntering through the orc villagers, the group heads towards a distant shrine they spotted on the way into town. Arriving around dusk, the group is attacked by harpies and half the party members are charmed. Despite the setback, the remainder of the group rallies behind Dudley and his magic blade. The harpies are slain or driven off and the charmed party members are pummeled into unconsciousness and tied up. The shrine is found to contain waters that heal the body an mind of those that drink it. As darkness falls, the group is exhausted and depleted- in a dead end valley, surrounded by orcs but with the means to restore the minds of the gnomes – provided they survive long enough to administer it, of course.

Departing the Barony, the group travels along a river ‘road’, stopping at the occasional village for food and gossip, The priest of Torm bestows minor cures and spreads the word. A few days out they encounter a trio of escaped slaves who tell a tale of imprisonment at the hands of Miles, the outlaw. This gets the group onto a side track off the main road and into the deeper wilderness.
They arrive at a dilapidated and ramshackle village – stuffed to the gills with armed toughs and sporting only a few bedraggled looking peasants. The group navigates the environment without starting a major event and so no blood is spilled – but information is gathered from some men in Mile’s employ.
The group journeys even further onward, eventually arriving in a collection of huts, scare large enough to be called a village. There they make contact with a large red-capped ogre and his human advisor. They inform the group that they are waiting for Miles, but do not know where he is. As the group is riding out of town, they make contact with a ranger who claims to be in Mile’s group. He explains that they are in hiding – for there are many bounty hunters about. Miles is apparently in the area, helping the gnomes – whatever that means.
The group rides into the woods, then sends back the invisible mage to spy on the place. Little is learned save one of the occupants is a dwarf. They seem careful to remain hidden from the main road.
Pressing onward, the group becomes hopelessly lost, and stumbles upon a mining operation where enslaved gnomes toil under the gaze of a half-dozen orcs and a quartet of burlier humanoids. The group gives battle and during the fight they are aided by Miles and his men. This prompts a parley and Miles reveals that he is the rightful heir to the seat in Ludensheim, but his place was usurped and he has retreated to the wilderness to fight a guerrilla war.
The group ponders the many twists and turns that the story has taken so far and wonders what to do next.

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