In a hallway not far from an entrance to the Cistern Room on the 4th Underground level of the Moonwatch fortress, the Heroes have encountered a forward party of their Khör Dwarf allies.
These Dwarves had just finished off a pesky squad of Duergar resisting their advance. Questioned by the Heroes, the Dwarves inform the Party that two areas of combat remain on this floor: A major battle in the Common Area; and another near the large Storage Room that has open stairwells leading up.
Deciding to assist in one or both of these fights, the Heroes hurry along a previously unexplored corridor, torches held high, spirits ready for war. It is Jaques, Genive, Kartug, Lester, and the Dread Pirate Wobberts who sweep the long, straight passageway toward the growing sounds of combat.
Almost to the intersection into the Common Room, the Heroes are met by a lone Dwarf Scout. The Scout stops the Party, announcing that he had been dispatched to find the Heroes and update them on the latest intelligence.
The Scout relates to the Party the discovery of a command group of Duergar. Located in the Tavern on the floor above, this tactical group gives orders for the 3rd Underground level, if not their entire company. As the Duergar operate by rigid military hierarchy, the Scout says that it is likely that a successful strike against the command group could shatter the Duergar resolve.
The Heroes confer quickly as the Scout hurries off and vanishes into darkness. The Party is still healthy and in possession of many spells, and more than up for a challenge. They continue on toward the end of the passageway, glimpsing their Dwarf allies overwhelming their Deep Dwarf opponents in the Common Area. Then they come upon the winning side of the fight against Duergar and an Umber Hulk; victory assured despite several Dwarven Defenders staggering around under the effects of the Umber Hulk’s Confusion gaze attack.
Dwarves are pouring into this floor from a nearby stairwell up from the 5th Underground level. The Heroes intercept several; one Paladin and seven Defenders, enlisting them into the Heroes’ service for a strike mission upstairs. As they build a coalition, Genive decides to pickpocket the Dread Pirate Wobberts for a lark. Though Wobberts wants to use DEX to Spot the Pick Pockets attempt, he instead uses WIS like everyone else, and ties the Spymaster’s attempt. Genive sheepishly admits defeat. It is a curious sidebar.
When the Umber Hulk fight is over, the Heroes and their strike-force attaché transit the battleground unhindered. Genive generously donates a couple arrows to the Make Sure The Umber Hulk Is Dead fund. Now they have entered the large Storage Room that has two unobstructed stairwells up to the 3rd Underground level.
The Paladin and Dwarven Defenders take the lead up the stairs. Cautiously, quietly, the Heroes follow, one flight behind.
At the top, the Paladin and his men peek into the hallway, then boldly, quietly, slip out and set defensive positions. It is relatively clear. The Heroes follow and see for themselves.
To the right, about eighty feet away, is an intersection. Beyond this intersection, the Heroes can make out the near side of a Duergar defensive palisade, with Deep Dwarf soldiers engaged in defensive measures. Beyond the barricade, the hallway is well lit, and the sounds of shouting and fighting are clear.
To the left is darkness. There is the entrance to a stairwell across the hallway, leading up. It is blocked with tables and crates and debris.
As the Heroes observe down the hall toward the light, they are startled to witness a Minotaur and five Duergar Rogues, dash through the intersection from the left into a room on the right, taking no notice of either side as they pass. The Party decides to keep a close eye on the hallway in that direction.
Genive and Lester will make reconnaissance in the opposite direction. Genive uses her ring for Invisibility, Lester casts Greater Invisibility on himself, and the two sneak down the passageway towards the Tavern.
Unfortunately neither has Darkvision, so they must rely on what little light filters down this end of the hall from their allies and the barbarians’ light further away. Stealing up to its entrance, the Tavern is completely dark. For some distance within, there comes the sound of orders being given with authority, and discussion amongst others. It is all in Undercommon.
A few steps past the entrance to the Tavern room, Lester decides to create a defensive structure of their own. He casts a Stone Shape spell, re-forming eleven cubic feet of stone into a portcullis-like grating across the twenty-foot-wide-by-ten-foot-high passageway. The obstruction is thin but it is solid, and barring earth-moving equipment or Aberrations capable of the same, it will hold back flankers. Or at least, for as long as it needs to.
Moving Silently, Genive and Lester return to the group. Both believe they were not heard as they again passed the Tavern doorway. One of them is correct.
The Party agrees that the best approach is flat-out attack; especially against an enemy that should not know they are coming. The group quietly advances to the Tavern entrance and, weapons and spells at the ready, storm into the pitch-black room, bringing their light and fury.