The group had an unexpected surprise before they took the teleportation circle to avoid having to sneak past the wall of Montbelliard. Athravan revealed that he was staying behind to advise the Army of the Grand Alliance on the Spire’s capabilities. Kresh announced that he was a member of the hated Montbelliard Secret Police, and that he would be staying behind to advise the Army of the social structure of the city.
The group received three new recruits. Bhavya Minmei is a giggly female tiefling devotee of Erathis. She was a member of Sugorim’s reconnaissance squad encountered when the Saint first teleported the group outside Montbelliard. She obviously had a crush on Athravan when she first encountered him, but now her attention seems to be focused on Ashur.
Ashur was chosen as a replacement for Kresh’s martial skill. This tall, lean Deva is nowhere near as strong as the daring dragonborn, but he is fiercely intelligent, and he seems to use that intelligence to devastating effect in combat.
Midmardan is by far the most unusual member of the group. He is a wilder, a creature of the Feywild, and he is a master of the wild. Aethanier, the elven general of the Army of the Grand Alliance, emphasized that Midmardan may not be as streetwise as the rest of the group, but he is a master tracker and “a master of the heart.”
After some debate on the best way to use their new assets, the group decided to proceed to the teleportation circle that would take them below the keep.
After the jump, they realized they were in the remains of Dolsha Kiran, the dwarven fortress upon which Montbelliard was built. Charged with finding their way out, Midmardan took the lead, seemingly navigating through the twisting labyrinths of Dolsha Kiran as if he was born to the environment.
The group proceeded carefully through the tunnels for four hours until they encountered a trap that had already been activated, pinning a wererat by the arm on a set of vicious spikes. Only the arm remained; there was a bloody trail leading up a flight of stairs. The heroes carefully disabled the trap and followed the trail, where they were set upon by some terrible ghouls, another ghoul which threw black globs of necrotic filth at them, two swarms of rats and a mysterious, floating jellyfish type creature.
The group sprang into action. Vellus used his natural mobility to great effect, flanking a ghoul and plunging his blessed dagger into its pockmarked hide, sending it back to the grave. The darkness of the halls of Dolsha Kiran were split apart with the brightness of the magic unleashed by Antioch as he burned the ghouls with radiant, holy fire. Bhavya Minmel called upon Erathis to smite the foes, sending one ghoul careening into a far wall. Meanwhile, Midmardan transformed into the Primal Beast, a being of fur, fangs and claws, the Feywild’s fearful guardian. He immediately assaulted the necrotic filth-flinging ghoul, pursuing it, hounding it, and eventually tearing it to shreds.
The rat swarms proved to be the most difficult foe. Individual sword thrusts proved ineffective, and even Ashur’s sweeping blade strikes missed when they were most desperately needed. Still, the heroes managed to persevere, while the mysterious jellyfish-type creature floated away and out of combat.
The group spent about a half hour catching their breath, tending to their numerous wounds and listening to Bhavya’s prayers. In the immediate vicinity, they found a fountain that had become covered with a viscous slime after centuries of disuse. Vellus identified it as a monument to Ilea Stormhammer, a dwarven medic who had tended to the wounds of the king of Dolsha Kiran when he was mortally wounded during a fight with the “foul beasts below.” Her actions saved the king’s life and he was able to turn the battle to his favor and drive the foes back. Vellus felt it necessary to clean the fountain, but a variety of methods were considered and discarded. Then Ashur realized that a prayer may work, if properly administered. Bhavya channeled the divine spirit within her, and the fountain seemed to glow with a radiant light. The foul slime evaporated, and water began to flow from the fountain once more. The heroes drank from the water and felt themselves restored.
Midmardan turned to navigation duty again, expertly guiding the party through the labyrinth of Dolsha Kiran as if he was reading the directions from a map. After four more hours, they arrived at a mighty ziggurat of black stone. Four mighty, rectangular slabs surrounded the ziggurat at the corners, upon each were carved a mighty, 70-foot tall statue of a dwarf warrior in plate armor. The far end of the chamber was hidden by the mighty ziggurat, but at the apex of the structure, the heroes could see more than a dozen of the strange jellyfish type creatures circling and darting as if they were moths to a flame.
Vellus spotted a piece of paper stuck on the ziggurat about a flight up its steps. He ascended the steps and immediately spotted glyphs etched on the ziggurat that matched symbols he had seen in a journal in his possession. He immediately disregarded everything to examine things. Ashur joined him and recognized the symbols as being primordial, though it was apparently in a code that he couldn’t divine. Vellus offered Ashur his journal so that he could try to decipher things. Antioch joined them, holding aloft his magical torch so that Ashur could read.
That attracted the attention of the creatures circling the ziggurat, and a few of them swept down upon the party. Ashur hurriedly commanded all his comrades into a tunnel to take away the creature’s advantage of flight. Vellus, intoning the motto “Fortune favors the bold,” instead went forward, intent on reaching a point in the ziggurat where he could enter the structure. He was immediately set upon and lashed, stung and assaulted by the floating jellyfish creatures. The group turned to the offensive to save the poor halfing, and when we last left our heroes, they seemed to be successful in turning back the assault.