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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.

The priest of Torm assembles a new group, drawing on his contacts in the church and with the assistance of Malchor, they are returned to full strength. The long journey to the Barony of Botkinburg is accomplished with a minimum of fuss, and the group manages to obtain a couple of potions they hope will aid in the defeat of the Witch Queen. Which queen? Witch Queen!

All made invisible by Malchor, they manage to find the secret entrance to the lower levels, after narrowly avoiding an encounter with some robe-clad humans that have some sort of discussion in the courtyard before heading off in the direction of Ludensheim. The entrance is opened and the trap is disarmed.

Once inside they seek out the lower level of the place and (after suitable magical preparations) quickly make their way to the throne room, where it appears that the queen has been expecting them. The ogres have been upgraded to trols and there is a squad of 20 uber-orc warriors standing by as the cleric and company roll in.

The cleric gains the initiative and promptly hurls one potion at the throne where it incinerates two of the trolls and the concussive blast sets much of the contents of the room to smoldering, As the first fireball is lifting towards the roof, he follows up with a blast of fiery breath courtesy of the second potion – and manages to take out the remaining trolls and damage the now airborne witch. Malchor’s magic missiles ends her ascent and the sight of the falling queen and the roasting trolls breaks the orcish morale and the squad flees in panic.

The group takes advantage of the confusion to quickly exit the complex and hide in the woods. The ranger is left behind to spy invisibly upon the area while the rest of the group recovers. They wait a few hours and regain spells. The group assembles near the pyramid of death and the wily elf dons a hat of disguises. Based on the description provided by the only person to have seen the Witch Queen and lived, the elf mimics her and the group boldly approaches the main avenue. This causes much consternation, but there is enough uncertainty that they manage to ascend the step pyramid and bypass the guards.

They seek the lower levels and spend time investigating and plundering and killing the few things they encounter, though there aren’t many minions willing to directly challenge the Witch Queen no matter if she isn’t quite like herself, They haul their loot stash to the top of the pyramid and post guards while they rest and sort out what they have plundered. The ranger tells them of the exodus of bolts of silk from the weaver’s quarters and how they were carried towards the city of Ludensheim. When the dawn comes, the question is raised again…now what?

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.

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