Starday, 14 Lamashan, 4733
In the Thistletop dungeon, the party considers their next move. They ask Orik about the goblin chieftain Ripnugget and learn that he wears a cheap crown. Zavian uses locate object to identify the crown’s location.
Rather than take the main stairs up, the adventurers decide to return in the direction they can, from the secondary stairwell. The rooms beyond they discover have been rigged with traps, which they warily make their way past and into the courtyard.
Outside is a bonfire, with bored-looking goblins milling about on the ground and up in the two towers of the fort. Astrid fights with the goblin infantry in the southeast corner, while Lea engages with the mounted goblins to the southwest. Marcus, Zavian, and Amelia hang back to support. The horse locked in the shed is agitated by the sound of fighting.
Goblins in the two watch towers fire arrows down onto the party. The adventurers realize that they can use the smoke of the bonfire for concealment, and that the eastern tower only has line of sight on half the courtyard.
Ripnugget arrives not too long after, riding his lizard and accompanied by three war chanters. The goblin chief charges into battle, slashing at Lea and then badly wounding Marcus, who falls to the ground unconscious.
Ripnugget trades barbs with Lea as he rides his giant gecko Stickfoot across the yard and up onto the stockade wall. Amelia, meanwhile, brings down the warchanters with a well-placed sleep spell.
Zavian summons a spider to try to distract the war chief. This proves successful at distracting the goblin’s giant gecko mount, which stubbornly tries to eat the spider and tumbles to the ground.
Marcus, having been revived, blasts Ripnugget and his mount with fire, bringing the gecko down. Across the yard, Astrid struggles to prevent the surviving goblins from reviving the sleeping warchanters, while arrows pepper down from the guard towers. Lea finishes off the warchanters, then ducks inside to avoid the goblin snipers.
Ripnugget staggers to his feet, struggling to evade Zavian’s hammer blows as he tries to flee back into the fort. Amelia uses ghost sound to startle the goblin chief into thinking the horse had broken out of the shed. Confused, Ripnugget stumbles into the bonfire at the center of the courtyard, and is finally laid low by Zavian.
Astrid and Marcus countersnipe the remaining goblins in the towers and the party takes stock of the scene.
Lea releases the penned up horse and manages to calm and feed it. They leave the creature in the care of Shalelu and proceed to loot the bodies and the fort. The goblin corpses, they burn.
After picking the fort clean, the adventurers descend back into the depths of the dungeon below to continue their exploration. At the top of their list is the gold pillar carved to look like a pile of gold coins. Close examination reveals that the gold is merely an illusion. They do discover two hidden coin slots, and after feeding them gold, the pillar rises up to reveal a hidden chamber with three doors.
The first door leads to a throne room where a ghostly figure of the same man with the book and glaive whose visage has been repeated on every statue in the dungeon is speaking in a loop. Marcus translates the Thassilonian—it appears to be some sort of final message message, which the man pledges to destroy “Alaznist.” Based on the name on the fake coins in the pillar, the party suspects this figure is Karzoug the Claimer.
The next room contains several cages with strangely warped humanoid skeletons, as well as a set of masterwork surgical tools and a strange seven pointed star made of metal that they deduce is the the key to the third and final door, made of stone.
The chamber beyond is illuminated by a large, burning bed of coals at its center. Marcus and Zavian detect multiple magic auras, including illusion, coming from the center of the room. They move in to investigate, but as they draw near the fire they suddenly wink out of view from their companions.
At the same time, a terrifying shape appears charging towards them, a snarling monster the size of an ox. The rest of the adventurers here only roars and shouts until a bloodied Marcus staggers backwards, casting shield on himself and warning of the hidden monster.
Astrid and Lea press forward to attack and soon disappear from Amelia’s view. They come across the monster and Astrid finds that her blades cannot overcome the foul strength that propels it. Lea, meanwhile, smites it with the wrath of her goddess. Unable to see anything, Amelia calls out to the party to inspire them to feats of courage.
The monster counterattacks and savagely wounds the paladin. The party wavers, trying to decide between fight or flight. Fortune smiles on Lea as her earthbreaker slips past the creature’s guard and smashes into its ribs. She falls back with the others, as they notice that the seemingly unstoppable fiend now seems badly weakened. Where they had been about to retreat, they now decide to press the attack.
But the monster, which they are now certain is Malfeshnekor, still has fight in it. The beast charges forward, its eyes blazing with hate for the paladin that wounded it, while its ribs are already beginning to knit back together.
As the fiend bears down on them, Marcus readies his ranseur while Zavian lays a reassuring hand on Lea’s shoulder.
“Our faith is our shield,” the cleric reminds her, his eyes blazing blue.
Bolstered by his words, she can feel the grace of Iomedae and the resoluteness of Abadar fall upon her. A glow spreads from her holy symbol until her entire armor blazes with holy light as Malfeshnekor’s claws rake uselessly against it.
The fiend’s fury can find no purchase and the adventurers press the attack. Astrid slips around the monster to set up a flank with Lea, who land her hammer down on the beast’s head. Malfeshnekor, is no more.
They retrieve its head as a trophy, and also acquire an ancient ring of force shield hidden in an alcove of the chamber. After patching up their wounds as best they can, the party decides to continue exploring the dungeon level.
They enter an ancient crypt with another statue of man with the glaive and book. here, they are assailed by several vengeful wraiths. The spirits start to sap the strength form their bodies and can only be harmed by magic. Zavian blesses Astrid’s dual sword and the party rallies to put the spirits to rest.
Afterwards, they discover a secret passage that leads what may have once been a great treasure vault. the walls are decorated with images of indescribable wealth, as well as a picture of a city in the shadow of a mountain carved to look like the face of the man in the statues. Half the room appears to have collapsed and been flooded, but in the water they can still see sparkling treasure.
Marcus enlarges himself and wades out into the water to retrieve an enormous gold helmet, only to find that it is serving as the lair of a giant hermit crab. Already weakened from previous fights, the wizard beats a hasty retreat, but is not fast enough. The crab leaves him bleeding an unconscious on the shore before it too is dispatched.
While Zavian and Lea tend to Marcus, Astrid and Amelia strip out of their armor and go diving for treasure in the waters below. The adventurers then decide to return to the upper level and rest.