…when danger reared its ugly head, they bravely turned their tails and fled…

Girding loins both physical and metaphorical, the group re-enters the ground floor of the skyscraper of evil. They gain access to the lobby and beeline towards the stairs they saw during their last visit. As before, passing within 25′ of a pillar surrounds each party member with a shimmering globe of (individually colored) light. As before, they are swiftly confronted by a demon/devil/extraplanar evil of some sort. The cleric dismisses it in short order and the group presses onward. As they approach the stairs, the way is sealed by a wall of ice that springs up. The cleric is struck unconscious by some foul arcane means The elf counters with a wall of fire – take that! – and as the ice starts to melt, a pair of skeletal horrors land in the party’s vicinity. They do combat with the group. They attack with bony hands and skeletal scorpion tails, causing grievous damage to the group, felling the paladin and elf with blasts of lightning. As the group scrambles away. the pursuit is half-hearted at best.

Regrouping in their temporary lair, the group does a bit of soul searching and finds their position to be untenable for the moment. They lack sufficient intelligence to feel confident about locating Coburn, and entry through the main hall seems fraught with peril. Either better intelligence is required, or a different entrance route is needed. Wounded and a bit freaked out, the cleric opts for a tactical retreat.

The group retraces its steps down the causeway, bypassing each set of towers and taking great pains to avoid detection. BY and large, the attempt is successful. They give Grafika a wide berth and sneak across the scrublands with only a few minor encounters before heading back to Ludensheim and Botkinsburg to share their intelligence with the Duke, Baron and court mages. A boat returns them to Impiltur and they seek an audience with the church. Kormier delivers a report and the group is questioned at length about all manner of detail.

If an army is to march from Impiltur and the surrounding regions, to threaten the Horned One’s city requires passage through the Great Dale. The dale is flanked by forests tot he north and south, and the Rotting Man controls the northern forest. Concern over the possibility of the Rotting Man working to support Coburn is palpable. The ruler of Aufstrag is undying, and the lifespan of a lich is long indeed…perhaps they know each other! Augh!

The decision is made to scour the wilderness and dispose of the Rotting Man. With his power broken, the full attention of the region may turn eastwards in preparation for what will surely be a titanic struggle. Thus, the group sets off on a river voyage, passing through the forest and then skirting its northern edge as they seek for signs of the Rotting Man’s forces or fortress.

It appears that the bulk of the troops are stationed deeper in the forest – closer tot he Great Dale and there are few causes for alarm. After a few days, a vast raised mound is discovered – with three distinct entrances. The first leads to a dead-end, which becomes sealed with a stone block once the group has passed, but they manage to escape certain death. The next entrance gets the cleric’s careful attention and all manner of traps are found to line the entrance hall. The group wends their way through most of them, although the mage falls into a pit and is trapped beneath a stone block until he goes gaseous. They press on through a small maze of secret entrances and trapped rooms until they are forced to stop and rest.

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