Having defeated the cloth monsters in the lab, Theo pulled out his wand and scouted three secret doors. Benadrad and Theo found a chest with a tanglefoot bag, smokesticks and various other alchemical trinkets inside. Upon closer inspection Benadrad realized that the chest had a secret compartment, which he thought might house a trap or other such nastiness. He flung a bomb into the chest, cracking the compartment open and revealing a newly-singed wand of burning hands. It’s functionality had been hindered but a mending spell from Logahn took care of that. Many of the other rooms they now had access to were empty. They found a room with cabinets filled to the brim with potions. Benadrad’s investigations revealed that for all intent and purposes these were indeed the potions that their labels claimed them to be, but every last one of them was inert. The more they explored the dungeon the more they realized that the gnomes had left in a big hurry. After briefly investigating the rest of the rooms the party decided that they should advance on the location pointed out to them by the disappearing skulk as the the leader’s lair.
They left the lab through door they had originally entered and came up on the barrier of furniture and debris that had seemingly been built to seal something in on the other side. Carefully a hole was made in the detritus. Theo slipped through, staying in the shadows. Not finding any immediate dangers he motioned the rest of the party into what seemed to be a huge work room. Upon entering both Celestine and Logahnn felt the presence of a strange field of invisible magical energy that permeated the whole room. The force was extremely weak but noticable enough to make their skin crawl. Detect magic revealed it to be mostly Conjuration with a sprinkle of Necromancy. Celestine had questioned if this might be the source of the Vanishing curse.
At the north end of the room a large cog with an orb of glowing light was suspended by chains. In the southwest and southeast corners of the room stood two big spiral staircases. Theo and Logahnn headed for the one in the southeast corner, while Benadrad and Keygan mounted the staircase in the southwest corner. Celestine headed north to investigate the cog with the orb of light.
Theo and Logahnn didn’t make it to the staircase, as they got distracted by what seemed to be a the corpse of a dark crepper, picked to the bone. Theo poked through the backpack of the corpse and pulled out some potions, coins and a dagger with a compartment for poison. As Theo scooped up the loot there was a commotion on Celestine’s end of the room. She had heard sounds coming from the balcony on the eastern side of the room. A grumbly squawking suggested they were not alone.
Slowly making her way further north, a hideous form of a beaked brain trailing dozens of tentacles dropped off the balcony and attacked her. It grabbed Celestine, paralyzing her and holding her aloft as Logahnn and Theo ran to her aid. They set themselves on opposing sides, hoping to discombobulate the monster by attacking from two places at once. The beast managed to shrug off many of mighty Logahnn’s blows, but Theo was able to sneak in a few well-placed jabs into it’s tender brainy bits. Enraged, the freakish thing began a frenzy of blows, frantically flailing it’s tentacles at Theo, Celestine and Logahnn. By now Benadrad and Keygan had been able to take up an overlooking position and were throwing bombs and crossbow bolts down at the thing. One of the bolts shot by Keygan caused the monster to take notice of the cowardly gnome. With a sickening “bwaack” it dropped Celestine and flew up at the tiny duo on the balcony.
It’s frustration towards the gnome was for naught as Keygan duck away from the monster’s razor sharp beak that tried to snap at him. Without hesitation Benadrad grabbed the other gnome and heaved both of them atop the beast. Flailing uncontrollably the monster was able to snatch Benadrad in it’s tenticles and deliver it’s paralyzing shock to the pint sized daredevil, but not before their combined weight caused it to descend to the lower floor where Logahnn and Theo awaited. The monster practically fell on their waiting swords, and was soon finished off. Upon recovery Benadrad cut open the dead thing’s stomach, but found nothing of interest. While Celestine removed the beak of the hideous creature and tucked it in her pack. Without the inconvenience of grotesque aberrations whipping appendages in their face, the party was free to explore the room further. The room was most definitely a grand workshop where the gnomes of Jzadirune crafted their wonderous magical treasures. In an adjoining room they found a weaver’s workshop with spinning wheel cast in illusion.
The party was now ready to make their play against…whoever exactly it was that was running things down here. They cleared a path through a second barrier, and headed towards the chamber where their assumed nemesis was to be laying in wait. Theo scouted two open chambers along the way to be sure there wouldn’t be anyone coming up behind them when they got to the Dark Stalker’s room. He found a room with recently used cots and some treasure: coins, a gold comb and some gems. He also found the gnomes smithy. As they approached the final area they heard a humming which Benadrad recognized as another pulverizer. The Hand entered Yuathyub’s room, weapons drawn, but saw no one. The pulverizer stood, idling. Benadrad gave the command to turn it off, and when he did an eery voice broke the new silence. “Why did you turn off my machine?” Celestine approached the voice and out of the shadows appeared the Dark Stalker, sword wavering in anticipation. Theo noticed he was vanishing and warned the others. A dark creeper was spotted hiding behind the machine, and a skulk “unblended” from the wall flanking the party from behind. Theo’s scouting was not enough to spot the skulk’s supernatural camouflage.
Yuathyub opened the door for negotiations expressing that his job was becoming far too dangerous for his likings. Adventurers with pointy sticks and firery bombs was proving to not be worth the profits. He denied the party’s accusations that he was to ringleader of this operation, claiming that he was merely an associate. Yuathyub however was unwilling to bend and negotiations were fruitless, without complaint from the skulk who was protesting Yuathyub’s attempts at diplomacy. It mattered not as Logahn was done speaking with the contemptuous kidnappers. With a grumpy “I’ve had about enough of THIS,” he impatiently initiated the attack. Two more skulks appeared behind the party and engaged. The heros attacked with brilliant tactics that only a well seasoned group could pull off. Benadrad hurled the tanglefoot bag at the stalker, cementing him in place, while Celestine and Logahnn held off the skulks with some help from Keygan. Theo and Benadrad fought the creeper for control of the pulverizer, while they threw bombs and shot arrows at Yuathyub. Knowing he was defenseless the Dark Stalker cast fog cloud and proceeded to hack himself free from the goo. Celestine and Logahn killed one skulk and ran the other two off. Even Keygan showed his value by hitting the creeper with color spray, and then coup de grace’d the unconscious villain, an act that did not sit well with Celestine. After taking several hits from the gnome and goblin cousins, Yuathyub escaped before the party could kill or capture him.