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Returning to the room of evil tiles – the group retraces its footsteps but someone is left in the complex, for when they open one of the concealed doors discovered during their last outing they trigger an alarm. While Lad looks for the source of the noise, a dagger sprouts from his thigh and the battle is on. Within twenty seconds, the battle is over and a bugbear lies dead on the floor while the other surrenders.

Brief communication is attempted and while some answers are forthcoming the group is suspicious of the motivation of their captive and ‘persuade’ him to walk in front. While the group is investigating a firepit and piles of straw a commotion rises at the end of the line. The group has been seen by a trio of orcs, and the orcs flee pell-mell.

The group gives chase and ends up following the fleet-footed trio through a harem of scantily clad goblin ‘women’ , into and over a pair of surprised harem guards, but the group steadily loses ground with each new encounter. Eventually, loud shrieks are heard from the area of the throne room. The group investigates to find the three are dead, and the tiles of evil are probably to blame.

Steps are retraced and the group enters, discovers and crosses a large underground lake courtesy of Goldpiece’s folding boat and investigates an labyrinth of collapsing halls and ceilings before finding a repository of records kept during the occupation. Many boxes, scrolls and vellum sheets…and a guardian whose wail is so terrible as to cause half the party to flee in fear. Gala unlimbers her oath bow and slays the beat in a matter of seconds. Much time is spent in finding the fleeing party members and the rest of the labyrinth is explored. The last room is a sacrificial altar dedicated to the Horned One, who apparently stands above the dukes of hell. The record hall is further explored and the discovery of hundreds of unique signet rings raises more questions than cash.

Leaving the underground goblin cemetery, the group searches for further victims to pillage and plunder and within a week, the ranger has detected the lair of critters. Turns out the critters in question are kobolds and rats, but the party doesn’t care and presses on until they are in the midst of a giant trap – as dozens of the critters start hurling missiles at the intrepid group. A fireball destroys the bulk of the attackers and the party overlooks a large cavern full of the yapping yipping yelping creatures.

As the group backtracks a bit, they hear the sounds of hundreds of rodents and a distant flute, both of which draw closer at an alarming rate. Malchor casts spider climb and stands on the ceiling with his wand of frost at the ready…

Venturing within reveals a warren of rooms, ending in a throne room tiled in evil tile bisected by a line of black tiles that are not evil.. Not good perhaps, but not evil. The evil tile paralyzes the first person to set foot upon it. There is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for setting foot upon the tiles. A plan is hatched to defeat the evil tile, and additional exploration is undertaken by the spider-climbing mage. This reveals a series of hidden cells and a passage out of the throne room. Before the group ventures further, the case is made for securing the various unexplored passages. More exploring is undertaken. The results of this inquisitiveness is a trio of gnolls – apparently working as independent contractors for the red hats. They are swiftly slain and their meager plunder is plundered.

Further exploration reveals a red hat goblin party in full swing. The goblins seem pleased about something and are boozing it up. The party sneaks up on an outlying group near a keg of beer and slays them in a few seconds. They blitzkrieg onward and when they see a well-stocked bar surrounded by a dozen or so goblins, the Mantit lets fly with a fireball. The high alcohol content of the kegs leads to a spectacular conflagration. The captain and his sergeants and their gambling buddies are swiftly dispatched with a cone of cold a few seconds later. When reinforcements arrive, they are cut down like weeds, and the assault ends. There isn’t much in the way of plunder and the group hastens to backtrack to a room of respite – a barracks that shows signs of habitation, but not recent – probably (so they hope) a patrol – so they hunker down for a couple of watches to recoup some power. A returning patrol sees the carnage wrought by the party and flees the premises a few hours before dawn.

The plan is made and the group prepares to move swiftly. Malchor will cast floating disc and spider climb. Various party members will sit in the disc and be towed across the room while Malchor walks on the ceiling to avoid the runes.

The onrushing guards encounter a sleep spell followed by a volley of arrow fire. The survivors are bound and offered a choice – death with the old regime or an opportunity to be part of something new, and remain breathing. The sergeant is a wise man and accepts his promotion. He tries to negotiate with the captain and the rest of the guards, but the captain is not as wise as his sergenat and within moments he is no longer among the living.
The party rushes the Duke’s bedroom, surprising his wife – who faints at the sight of a bloody band holding the severed head of the Duke. They bind her and toss the bedroom, then venture downstairs to confront the rest of the guards – Goldpiece (disguised as Miles) holds the duke’s head in one hand and the captain’s head in the other. Resistance in the Duke’s compound melts away.
Next, the intrepid regimistas take on the quartet of towers that guard the bridge by which Miles’ troops plan to enter the city.
Parely is attempted, then a fireball is used to punctuate the proceedings. Once the cries of the flaming troops are heard echoing across the water, the rest of the Duke’s forces capitulate.

Miles and his forces enter the city and take control of the gates. The city guard helps out and the members of the wool merchant’s guild try to help identify members of the cabal that was attempting to control the city. It becomes increasingly clear that this is all part of an elaborate plot to return the entire region tot he control of the Horned One.

A journey to Botkinburg and consultation with the mage allows the group to glean information about the axe carried by the Duke. It is clearly a tool of evil, and the group learns that it originated in a place called Festung Akt, a fortress somewhere in the blighted landscape that lies beyond Ludensheim. Equally alarming is the prospect of further raids from the Blacktooth Ridge. The group is concerned that Mile’s grasp on the region may be dislodged by an attack from the ridge while the group is away, so they decide to investigate and lead a punitive expedition.

The journey is largely uneventful and eventually the party enters a complex of tunnels and begins to investigate…

Drawing on the information made available to the group by Miles and the gnomes, the group knows that there are people inside Ludensheim that are ready to see the end of the Duke’s reign. They journey through the town and see the sights, few that they are. They make note of the upgraded silk merchant’s guildhall and eventually make contact with both the leader of the civil guard and the head of the wool merchant’s guild. They manage to convince each one of the veracity of the charges laid against the Duke and his legs.
Alas, though the group has a wide range of popular support, they lack a fighting force upon which they can depend. A plan is concocted and a few days of information gathering are undertaken. Eventually, while allies in the city set fire to a silk warehouse and create a diversion, the group scales the walls of the central keep and gains entrance to the central tower. Shielded by invisibility, all goes well until there is a chance contact between party member and a guardsman.
Moving rapidly away from the scene of the confrontation, party members quickly explore a few rooms and decide they need to double back. Abandoning caution, they charge the main guardroom and smash through a door to gain access to a central staircase. As the alarm rings out all around them, they swiftly climb and manage to surprise the Duke and an assistant in a study.
The still-invisible group charges the assistant and hacks him to bits – everyone knows old men with staves are far more dangerous than they would appear. They then turn to do battle with the duke and despite some ferocious blows delivered by the Duke’s axe, the group is triumphant,
A quick debate ensues about the possible courses of action that may be taken – it has to be quick because there are indications that reinforcements are on the way to the ducal chambers.

The group departs the region and journeys back to Impiltur to settle accounts with the church and dispose of some items collected. Papers and scrolls are read and analyzed, and it becomes clear that the spider silk operation is being used to generate money to fund the infiltration of the region by the forces of the Horned One.

The cleric gets advice from the church: “get back out there and uproot the evil, root and branch”, so the group saddles up and travels back to the region. Along the way they make contact with Miles and his band, as well as the gnomes of the region. Both agree to help the group with securing the pyramid and establishing a base of operations. Eventually the goal is to restore Miles to his rightful position as the ruler of Ludensheim.

The journey is mostly uneventful, but upon arrival they are attacked by a huge spider. The beast is defeated and the group goes to explore the ziggurat, They find it and the nearby buildings are largely abandoned, and there is little left to plunder. Additional papers are found that further implicate the silk merchant’s guild in the overall trouble in the region.

The group sets up a small defensive force and sends runners to Miles to move the bulk of his ‘troops’ into position so they can secure Ludensheim, should the party be successful in their attempt to overthrow the usurper.

On the morrow, they will ride to Ludensheim and start the process of regime change.

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