Having not found a key, the rogue picked the lock, and was rewarded with the a satisfying click. Preparing for whatever lay beyond, the barbarian and cleric positioned themselves at the door, ready to charge in, while the rest lined up behind them
As they shoved the doors open, the party entered a large room carved from obsidian. The floor was lined with six, large pillars, and there was an altar at the far end. Standing on the altar was the obsidian and marble likeness of an ancient god with one large eye and six splayed arms. However, none could ponder the identity of the god, as there were five bugbears and a half-ogre waiting for the party.
The barbarian got the drop and charged in, swinging wildly at the first bugbear. Then all hell broke loose as spells were casts, arrows were fired, and weapons were swung. The battle was brutal, and loud, as Shatter spells did much damage to the bugbears, as well as the statue, which lost two arms, and nearly half of its head.
With most of the bugbears down, the barbarian had the half-ogre cornered. The wizard slammed her flaming sphere into the being, causing him to finally fall to the floor. But, just as she was about finish him off with a well-placed spell, a voice boomed in their heads…
(This was read aloud to the players at this point)
"STAY THY WEAPONS!"
Suddenly you all feel yourselves compelled to stand still, your weapons dropping to your sides, the words to spells being cast dying on your lips. In front of the cyclopean idol appears a man. He is of medium height and build, with dark, angular features, and flowing black hair. He is dressed in simple black clothing of indeterminate design. He gazes at you appraisingly, as a smirk creeps across his face. He begins to casually walk among you, hands clasped behind his back, as he speaks in a casual manner.
"So, you are the current pebbles in my boot." He stops and gazes at Graz and Colette’s holy symbols. "Impressive. I see that the All-Seeing One is doing well. And though I do not know her personally, the Wise Warrioress also seems to be well-established. Good, good." He paces about a bit more.
"When we were first brought to this world, I had thought to maybe re-invent myself. After eons of my old ways, I thought perhaps I would ‘turn over a new leaf,’ as you say. Start fresh. Entice followers, and gain divine glory. Become a force the others might respect." He pauses to chuckle to himself. "But, I suppose old habits die hard. Besides," his grin widens, "this is so much more fun!"
He grows a bit more serious. "Be that as it may, you have successfully thwarted my plans for this region. Well-played, adventurers. Well-played. Let it not be said, however, that The Sly One does not have a sense of fairness. I shall concede to you your victory here. You shall no doubt receive accolades for averting a costly little war, and saving hundreds of lives." He pauses and furrows his brow in thought for a moment. "I foresee a great future for you all…." He pauses for a moment, then smiles. "Well, most of you, at any rate. The future is always so unclear, even to us."
He stops pacing in front of the half-ogre's body. He looks down on the half-ogre, and his face grows a bit more stern.
"This one, however, is mine. You shall not harm him further." He looks at you all, and his visage softens just a bit. "He is a dumb brute, but he is useful." He pauses and smiles, as if recalling a pleasant memory. "In fact, he reminds me a bit of my dear brother." He waves his hand and the half-ogre disappears in a flash of light.
He gazes at you all again, and his amused expression slowly turns to one of annoyance.
"You know, if word gets out that I simply let you walk away without exacting some kind of ‘punishment’ on you…well, let’s just say I have a reputation to uphold. So, on that note, enjoy your walk home!"
He waves good-bye, and the world disappears in a brilliant flash of light.
The light fades to black, and your senses slowly begin to return to you. You first realize that you are laying on warm stone. Then you sense that the air is much more warm and humid than you last recall, and smells strongly of vegetation. You hear the sounds of abundant wildlife, and a breeze rustles through trees. As you slowly peel your eyes open and groggily sit up, you see that you are in an empty, square room, approximately 30 feet on each side. The walls, floor and ceiling are all made from rough cut bricks of dark, somewhat greenish stone. There are crevices between several of the stones in the walls, and from one side beams of sunlight pierce the darkness. On the side opposite the sunlight is an arch leading into a hallway. You have all of the equipment you were carrying.
Thus ends the first chapter of this arc. Where are they? How will they get home? And what perils will challenge them for their very lives? It should also be noted that the barbarian and ranger appear to be missing.