Slavers defeated, our heroes quickly freed the captives from the prison wagon. They only had a few moments to notice the anti-magic runes etched into the wagon, similar to those on the walls of Velkynvelve’s slave pens, before a new crisis fell upon them.
The handful of bugbears and goblins that had fled the battle before the party’s blades and spells could catch them were now returning at a run, screaming all the way. They were pursued by a living cloud of corrosive red mist. The goblinoids didn’t make it, and were devoured one by one while the party kicked it into high gear, loading the freed slaves and the body of the dead knight on their giant lizards (including the ones pulling the wagon) and fleeing from the cloud as fast as they could.
The cloud’s pursuit had slowed considerably by the time the group reached the chasm of floating stones, and they were able to secure the stone ferry for the return trip across it.
After crossing there were no further sightings of the mist, and the rest of the return to Velkynvelve was uneventful.
Brogin and Aurelio had recovered from their despondence and were eager for news from their friends. Unfortunately, Wizzleficks had not.
The party rested in Velkynvelve to regather their strength and raid the outpost’s supplies to help provision their new base at Xazax’s former lair.
While the heroes slept and took watches guarding there own one of the former slaves, an orc named Ront, was gruesomely murdered. The body found the next waking period, gutted with its entrails carefully arranged in some ritualistic pattern.
Aurelio and Brogin questioned the captives in a zone of truth created by the former. The spell aided in ruling out about half of the former slaves, and from there the investigation lead to a confrontation with Buppido. The derro admitted it freely, convinced that he was the avatar of a god, and that his physical form was unimportant. He was quickly restrain and stowed for the trip back to Xazaxia.
Brogin cast a spell to prevent the knight’s corpse from corrupting and the group headed out, using Wizzlefick’s maps and Lio’s uncanny recall to navigate the Silk Way without a guide.
During the journey Theadric was attacked by half a dozen phase spiders. After the battle the werebadger fell unconscious, whether from the spider’s poison of from a private vision from a displeased Spider Queen, the heroes would have to wait to find out.
On reaching Xazaxia they heroes found the way barred by a newly installed gate, and after a brief challenge the guard, one of the Order of the Chapeau, quickly recognized them and allowed them to enter.
Nero had been busy, and his efforts were apparent. The main area was now well lit, and gates barred of of the entrances into the outpost. New provisions could be seen along the was and a simple lift had been installed to access the ceiling.
To accomplish all of this Nero had had purchase some of the supplies in credit, and was about a thousand gold pieces in the red. The party provided him with the head priestess of Velkynvelves enchanted armor (scale armor +3) to liquidate, which to his pleasure was worth a great deal more than the debt he had incurred. The party also asked him to be on the lookout for high-end diamonds, so they could attempt to raise the knight from the dead.
Tobias told the veterans of the Order about their fallen knight, and that they hoped to locate a diamond of sufficient quality to give him the opportunity to return from the dead.
One of the scouts and a couple of the Zil agents had gone down to Darklake to acquire water for the outpost any were many hours overdue. When the heroes investigated they discovered a hag had slain them and eaten their hearts. She attempted to make a meal out of them as well, but was killed for her trouble.
The next day Lio took Buppido to the shores of Darklake to answer for his crimes, before the freed slaves, and the grimly apporving Order of the Chapeau. No one spoke in the (presumably) mad derro’s defense, and Buppido was given a swift execution.
After some discussion the party decided that their next goal with be to take the freed captives to the svirfneblin city of Blingdenstone, from which there was an exit to the surface. On the way they would stop at Sloobludop to return Shuushar to his home, acquire proper boats for traversing Darklake, and attempt open trade between the kuo-toa and Xazaxia.
The group left the next day, consisting of the heroes (including the comatose cartographer and languid lycanthrope), Khalessa, Shuushar, Sarith, Tenna, Topsy, Turvy, Derendil, Jimjar, and Stool.
During the preparations Lio made a pass at Khalessa. The elven spy neither rebuffed nor encouraged his attentions. Perhaps it was too soon after news of the baron’s passing and romantic entanglement was the furthest thing from her mind.
As they neared the kuo-toa settlement on a pair of makeshift rafts the group was approached by some rather angry kuo-toa warriors who Shuushar wasn’t able to talk down. The were apparently worshipers of the new god in town, a deity not particular big on peaceful interfaith relations.
Brogin summoned a whirlpool, capsizing the aggressors and pulling them under with crushing force. Those kuo-toa that survived attacked the rafts, but were quickly defeated.
Upon arriving the party was brought before the chief/king/high priest of Sloobludop, who was a great deal more friendly. He told the party that he was currently dealing with an internecine religious war. The worshipers of the new god, Dagon, where lead by his own daughter. He then tried to talk the heroes into a crazy-ass plan to have the heroes pose as captives which he would offer to her as a peace offering, at which point the heroes would kill her, breaking the opposition with the least amount of overall bloodshed. The heroes have yet to agree to anything.