The Heroes clear the Office area quickly, finding another dead human soldier in the short hallway from the reception area to the offices. Two other rooms were the workplaces of lesser commanders, and clerical workers. Even more paper has been tossed about in these rooms, and the content of these sheets are even less interesting than dull day-to-day memos.
At the second entrance to the administration section, the Party stops and listens. Once again, just about the level of quiet, they can hear talking coming from what their maps indicate to be a long Common Area to their right.
Knowing they must pass that way at some point anyway, the Heroes prepare for a fight and head toward the voices. They pass another stairwell leading up to the 3rd underground level. This, too, is impossibly blocked. Lester and Genive are curious as to why.
At that same time, one of the Duergar in the Common Area believed he heard something. He was walking in that direction when he noticed a faint glow of torchlight. Then he spotted intruders -the Heroes- coming around a corner. He bellows alert to his comrades, and a fight begins.
There was a large contingent of Duergar which, up until right now, had been lounging in the Common Area, in the quiet comfort of the dark. Ten Fighters, and two Clerics. Alerted to intruders by their comrade’s shout, this force was on its feet and ready for action.
Lester is the first to act in the fight. Seeing his own side clustered close in a traveling pack, the Halfling is able to cover all of his side with a Haste spell. Their speed and reactions boosted, the Dwarf Paladin and his four Dwarven Defenders rush forward to attack the Duergar.
Several front-line Duergar Fighters Enlarge themselves to block off the passageway, which in this area is forty feet wide with twenty-foot ceilings. Genive takes to the rear, readying her bow. She hurls a 6d6 Fireball from her Necklace of Fireballs. Faldorn, still in Huge Scorpion form, reaches out and easily Grapples a Duergar, gripping and crushing the Fighter over the heads of the Dwarves in front of him.
The Duergar Clerics cast spells with modest success. Kartug Igmutin is hit with a full-power Moon Bolt. He succeeds in the Fort Save, and loses only 4 points of Strength. The Dread Pirate Wobberts resists a Curse sent his way.
At his next opportunity, Lester makes a Summon. It is one he has not made before, and given the arid conditions of this underground fortress and the ample clearance above the fight, he believes it could work out nicely.
The Heroes and their Dwarf allies wage fierce war against the Duergar. Genive with her bow, Faldorn Grappling and stinging enemies, Wobberts in the thick of the fight at the front line, and Kartug roughing up foes in his reach.
Lester’s Summons arrive; they are Salt Mephits – chatterbox, annoying little imps that fly above the Dwarves. On their next action, they spew Cones of Salt at the Duergar. Half of the enemies fail the Save, and become encrusted with salt, weakening their attacks and lowering their Armor Class for a few rounds until the abrasive crystals can be shaken free.
In the next two rounds, the infuriated Duergar focus exclusively on the Salt Mephits, hacking at the pestering little critters until the last of them is finally killed. Those few Fighters not swinging away at the imps have set their War-Axes against Faldorn, slashing away at his thick exoskeleton, until one Fighter lands a solid Critical Hit.
This massive blow drops Faldorn to a comatose state. If the Fighter had realized at the time (and not several minutes later) that his weapon actually does TRIPLE-damage on a critical hit instead of the double-damage he thought, the Druid Hero would have been killed. As it happens, this lucky misfortune (read : DM oversight) saves Faldorn’s life.
Some Duergar have been badly wounded, two have dropped, and the Clerics continue to cast unhindered. Lester discovers a new, remarkably effective strategy. The Halfling casts an Orb of Electricity and holds his action, opting to delay hurling the damaging sphere until one of the Duergar Clerics is spotted casting a spell.
Through the rest of the fight Lester will employ this device a few times, also with an Orb of Force and Lesser Orb of Cold, and it works brilliantly. The Conjurer’s spell hits the Cleric as he motions to cast a spell, and the Cleric must succeed in a Concentration check with a DC equal to his intended spell’s level plus the damage he just took. No small feat, and not one that either Cleric manages to accomplish in what is left of their lives.
Faldorn, fortunately still in Scorpion form, stabilizes after one round of unconsciousness. After the Duergar Clerics are killed, Lester makes to administer a Healing Potion, but honestly cannot even begin to guess what or where a scorpion’s mouth might be.
Against the left-side wall, the Dwarf Paladin and the Dread Pirate Wobberts make inroads against the Enlarged Fighters. Wobberts had suffered another Mark of Doom spell before the Clerics dropped, and is hit with 1d6 points of damage on each of his attack actions. On the right-hand side, Kartug and two Defenders charge the Duergar there. The Clerics are slain, the Duergar line falls back slightly, and the Heroes’ two thrusts come together against those foes that remain.
The fight is finally brought to an end, and the Party is victorious. But not without a cost; Faldorn is comatose, one of the Dwarven Defenders has died, and the Heroes are battered and exhausted from their efforts on this impossibly long day.
The Paladin sets to healing his Dwarf allies as the Heroes quickly disarm the Duergar and collect their valuable gear. Lester and Wobberts figure out a way to dose Faldorn with a Potion of Light Healing, and the Druid awakens.
Now seems like a wonderful time to fall back to the lower floor, find Captain Ironhaul’s base of operations, rest and regroup.