(Short version: Our heroes had prophetic dreams, out-smarted a hydra, shot an ooze in a barrel and then Amadis went to live with the Orcs. Which is not a euphemism.)
Our heroes sleep was troubled that night. There were dreams of an ash-filled sky and murder. A bony hand offered a key. A robed figure betrayed everyone else. Amadis in particular dreamed about how he would rule the world once his teammates were dispatched. Abdul saw Vecna--the god of murder and evil and evil magic and evil murder--fill the sky and sear the land. Orzul had a different dream. She dreamed of a pleasant underground grotto and a kindly old woman who issued warnings and handed her something. When she awoke, the something was in her hand. Orzul did not share this last detail with anyone.
A brief meeting was held by the stakeholders in Windfall (i.e. everyone but Nahks) as to what the next goal should be. Amadis suggested that following Didion Graytongue's map may lead to treasure (helpful in rent-paying) and glory (helpful in securing more jobs) and since there were no other leads on hand, everyone agreed.
But first a trip back to Briarton was in order. Nahks decided to stay behind and hold funeral rites for his slain brethren.
In Briarton Abdul sat himself down in a cafe and poured over the ritual books they'd obtained, puzzling out their secrets. Taru visited the Magickal University (MU, school colors: pale witchfire, iridescent violet) to get her silvered arm looked at. She had a full range of motion, but their was a distant numbness and a certain uncanny character to the limb now. The guards tried to stop her, but between her acid-flecked exterior and her seven-foot glaive she convinced them to send someone out to hear her petition. Myrour ven Clivensoften, apprentice to the assistant in charge of healing draughts, emerged from the building and pronounced the arm unknowable without further study. We shall tastefully ignore his attempts to cut off Taru's finger.
Orzul hit the merchant district and laid in some new arrows. Amadis found a seedy cafe in a disreputable district and partook of the local narcotics. Then everyone opened a bank account, spoke with the local deputies and headed back to the collapsed tower of Dana Briar.
When our heroes returned to the tower they found that Nahks had carved a passage around the magic seal in the forge room, and our heroes descended into the depths under the tower. A spiraling passage lead to ancient flag-stone corridors, cracked with age and covered in mold. Further on the hallway widened and an underground stream crossed the path. The water was murky and filthy. Orzul did some quick mental Dwarven math and realized they were under the well. The well which when they glanced into it before they distantly saw writhing scaled huge things. All the heroes stepped back.
At the left edge of the pool was a path constructed of rickety planks of wood. Orzul, the acrobatic Dwarf, sprinted across these with ease before the enormous hydra sprang up from the water. It was ten tons and four heads of starving, sickly angry. Abdul sat down to go through Didion's journals, reading about the hydra. Amadis went back upstairs and fetched Deputy Rye's headless corpse out of the pit trap, and then fed it to the hydra. While it was feeding he tried to run past, but the hydra was a quick eater and scared him back.
As our heroes prepared to fight the behemoth, they noticed magical bands about its necks and chains leading from the collars into the water. The journal told of how Didion caught the hydra in a swamp elsewhere and installed it here with password-keyed magical bindings. A cryptic sentence said "Knowledge is the key to all." Our heroes tries many words and phrases and commands (Sit!) before speaking that phrase aloud causing the chains to tighten and drag the four-headed beastie under the mucky water.
Then stirges attacked from above. Stirges are essentially monkey bats with noses like daggers and a thirst for blood. These particular ones had been feeding off the hydra for weeks. Our heroes drove one off, killed another, and freed the hydra temporarily so she could feast on the third. The justice, she is poetic.
Past the hydra were three branching tunnels. One lead to Umber Hulks (bad news), one lead to the enslaved Kobold miners and the last lead to the Kobold's former master--and Nahks' boss--Scorch the black dragon. Scorch had been trapped behind a cave-in by Didion and knocks was worried for him. Our heroes took the center path.
200 Kobolds were chained and forced to mine while three Wyrmpriests stood watch over them. Our heroes easily killed the two priests and then Geon the Rogue picked the lock on the master chain holding a group of fifty Kobolds captive. Now freed, the Kobolds stomped the last priest to death. The collective might of the 200 Kobolds (plus Nahks) left to dig out their master, Scorch. Nahks promised a boon in the future, told them of the Orcish army and the Corpse Fields.
Further down the hallway was an immense barred steel door. Our heroes unbarred it and went through, deeper into the undermountain. The opposite side of the door was dented and scarred from attempts to get through. None had been successful. A fork in the hallway perplexed our heroes. They consulted the map and discussed whether it would be safer to take the Orcs head on (the right passage) or attempt to find a back entrance through the catacombed halls of the Corpse Fields (the left passage).
Windfall decided to look at the Corpse Fields and then decide.
The Corpse Fields are a spectacular natural cavern under the mountain where creatures of different races drop their dead and their refuse so that mushrooms may grow and feed them all. They are graveyard and food court in one. Our heroes stood on a rocky outcropping, hundreds of feet above the floor. Frayed ropes trailed from the cliff. Across the expanse Drow could be seen, that is: Dark elves that worship a demonic spider, delight in torture and evil and spiders, and trust no top-sider. Our heroes decided it may be better to take the Orcs on face to face.
Down the other hallway they found a crevasse in the floor filled with a pseudo-intelligent corrosive slime monster known as an Ochre Jelly. But it was trapped in the pit and so Abdul and Amadis scorched it with supernatural magics until nothing was left. The resulting pit was full of bones and treasure. Yay treasure!
Beyond the jelly-filled crevasse our heroes encountered an Orc scouting party and an Orc berserker. They fought the closest fight of their careers, made even more close by Amadis' betrayal. He had been an agent of Vecna, whom these Orcs uncommonly worshiped. All Orcs--save these--worshiped Grumush, Orcish god of slaughter. This was a mystery.
After a knockdown drag-out fight our heroes were victorious against the orcs, but they were trapped under the mountain and Amadis had escaped to alert the rest of the Orcish army as to their presence.
Things looked bad.