Five bandits remained: Elric, with his jeweled sword, Stormbringer; Syndra, clutching the twisted holy symbol of dark Cthuhlu; Eladin, sworn of Azi Dahaka, demon lord of ruin and storms; Seamus the Quick and his berserker battle axe; and Stephan, chosen of Yddgrrl.
The voice of Ira rang in their heads. His commanding curse told them to retrieve the skull of his champion, Vyache, and the mystical club, Alceon, or their bodies would wither. They went deeper into the complex only to encounter eight crayfish humanoids, hungry for flesh. These craymites leaped into combat, biting and clawing at Seamus and Elric. Brave Syndra entered melee while also calling upon Cthuhlu to heal her comrades. Stephan and Eladin cut themselves to power sleep and magic missile spells. As the last craymite fell, so did most of the party. Syndra’s plea to the sleeping one worked and mighty Cthuhlu revived the party.
They explored deep pools, recovering lost treasure. One watery pit led to an underground passage. Broods of craymites gathered in mucky passageways. The reavers avoided them and moved on. Stephan found another underwater passage and, tying himself to a rope, led the part to a dungeon complex. Crude glyphs depicted Ira’s foe, Gelihedres, the demon patron of muck and slime. Loin-clothed cultists with self-inflicted scarring greeted them in one room. They quickly put them to the sword. Senior cultists emerged from another chamber, some able to summon tentacles from their chests to grapple with Stephan. They made the few survivors talk – Bashkim, their leader, was conducting a ritual using the skull and club. He was behind a secret door and would finish soon.
Stealth was not their way. The door opened and they found the naked Bashkim kneeling over the decapitated body of a giant’s child, the skull and club nearby. His guards and a charmed woman attacked. As Bashkim invoked Gelihedres to summon a fiend, Eladin did the same, sacrificing his own blood to power a mighty magic missile that obliterated the priest forever. They killed the remaining cultists and rescued Adele, the charmed woman.
A passage led to the surface. Finally, they were free of the darkness. In a small village, Lark, they became celebrities as they freely spent coppers and gave out small treats to children. Adele now safe with her family, they made the day-trip to Blunt. Saul, the inn-keeper, was amazed at their appearance after nearly two months. The old keep on the hill seemed safe once again but they had assumed everyone dead. He gathered the village together to hear the (much-exaggerated) tale of the destruction of the beast men and annihilation of dark cults. Tales and memories were exchanged of the lost comrades, but especially of heroic yet simple Simon who single-handedly defeated the beast man scourge.
Fifty gold from Elric rebuilt the town within weeks, including a granary and the water wheel. Their celebrity grew. Stephan spent this time summoning his cranky turtle familiar, Gunter. Eladin did the same, pocketing a tiny, and lazy demon named Beelz. He also spent time in meditation to Azi Dahaka. In exchange for powers invoking his patron, Eladin had to destroy a habitation and displace a family (something he promptly did upon leaving town) and later melt down 2000 gold-worth of valuables.
One morning Saul alerted them of a new threat near Bradacre. That cursed village had offered virgins to the beast of the pit once to fend off its depredations; a warrior-priest having made a fell bargain with the creature in the ravine. But that was 20 years ago and the sacrifices no longer happened. Now it seemed that grey-robed men without faces led strange tentacles into town, attempting to kill or kidnap folk. So far, the townsfolk had driven them off. But they knew the larger beast was still deep in the ravine.
The promise of glory and treasure still fresh, the party walked over two days to Bradacre. After confirming the threat, villagers led them to the ancient overlook and the pit in the ravine from whence the creature once emerged. They followed ancient stairs around the rim, encountering grey-robed cultists. A Sleep spell from Stephan made quick work of them. A stone landing led into a altar with egg-shaped carvings at its top. A lone cultist attacked but was slain in one stroke. The cultist’s innards erupted in a mass of bloody tentacles. The creature lashed out, but the party crushed it and moved on.
Sliding aside the altar, they found a crawlspace behind it. They traversed this on hands and knees, avoiding spiders while Seamus took cuts from scythe traps. Finding another altar, Eladin Invoked Patron to strike down the lone cultist with an eldritch bolt. Looking once again over the pit, they noticed a cave fifteen feet below. Belaying themselves into the cave, they entered to find stone pillars, some with striking facial features. Out of the darkness slithered two giant lizards with golden horns. The mineral basilisks transfixed Elric and Syndra, slowly turning their skin to scaly stone. Seamus cut into one basilisk while Eladin used the Band of Fire to summon scorching rays. First Syndra was freed, then Elric as the basilisks fell.
Following the passage, they found a colossal, twitching tentacle writhing within a large pit. A rope ladder was attached to the tentacle, descending into darkness…