The group and Garmudden Stonesinger return the pendant to the lock box, which they give to Pingtu for safe keeping, along with one of the keys. Garmudden keeps the other key. As the adventurers, Pingtu, Garmudden, and others discuss agree to find the drow weapons (which are inside the temple of Segojan Earthcaller in The Ruby in the Rough), a young gnome (Kizzo Dragonbot) runs in with eyes wide and tells Pingtu and Jalless something. Jalless leaves immediately for the infirmary, and, as Kizzo leads Pingtu, Pingtu explains that Kargien has been wounded in an orc attack.
At Kargien’s quarters, they see the two guards, Togford and Teknik. They ask the guards what happened, who say that they know little of the plan, except that they were going to take advantage of the orcs retreating back to the far north by setting a trap. Instead, they were attacked by orcs who came in from all the exits. Kargien bravely lead them back, keeping all gnomes focused on one exit and one push. They and 3 others were left to guard barricades, but they heard the fight as the gnomes and orcs fought just outside the Ruby barricade. Of all them, only Kargien, Miglin Crackedquartz, Kizzo Dragonbot, Sparkbert survived standing upright. A couple of others as well as Sparkbert were taken to the infirmary.
The adventurers split up: Sasha and Bennet make their way unseen to the temple entrance while the others go to speak with the wounded Kargien, who lies in his bed with a huge gash in his side. Pingtu shakes his head and looks to the adventurers.
They ask Kargien to explain what happened. In wheezes, he describes how in one of the caverns north of the Hall of Miners, he was going to set a trap for the orcs, who still seemed to be in retreat. However, they found a group of orcs (5) there. Kargien decided to attack with his force of 20 gnomes. After a few minutes, they soon found themselves surrounded by orcs attacking from other passages and cutting off their escape. They fought their way back, losing gnomes as they fought the guards at the Trader’s Grotto & Glamours barricades rushed to help but the losses were heavy. Of the 27 gnomes, only 5 survived, including a mortally wounded Kargien. 2 others were badly wounded, and 3 were wounded but likely to survive (Sparkbert, Kizzo, and Miglin).
“We have lost most of our soldiers. We killed half their number, maybe more—20 or so. It was hard to tell. But there were more than we thought. Our old and badly worn weapons did not help. The rush of our guards probably made them think more would soon come, so they fled from the tight quarters around the barricades. But we are now to down to a handful of guards. They might soon discover our weakness, and we would be too few to defend so many positions. It’s time to retreat or attack.”
He exhales a long, gurgled breath as his eyes begin to glaze. Dying but not dead, Kargien seems to fall unconscious. Pingtu does what he can to ease Kargien’s suffering. Thorn tells the two guards to find Miglin and to tell him to join them at the Speaking Stones.
Sasha then picks the lock to Kargien’s chest and finds several notes rolled and tied, the same notes that they had seen Kargien gather before and put in the chest. These secret messages indicate that Kargien might have been influenced by a mysterious group that promised their aid to some common goals. They rolled the messages and took them.
Meanwhile, Bennet and Sasha enter the temple and see an open hall that leads downward, which they follow. They see the door to what seems a large room but hear noises inside. Bennet casts the sound of orcs, which results in some shrieks and skittering.
They stand at the doorway and look inside to find 2 cave rats and 1 dire rat running to hide in alcoves in the room. They kill two of the rats and send the last one running away in fear. At the back of the room, they approach a raised platform with what seems to be the stone coffin containing the bones of Bendekik. In a small shelf above the coffin sits a sapphire, and at the foot of the coffin rests a box of drow weapons. They take the box and go back up. Confirming that the guards cannot see, they run to the back of Kargien’s quarters and place the box there before joining the others.
Ferreting out the Rat
With the drow weapons and sapphire, the group and Pingtu return to the Speaking Stones to complete the ritual. Pingtu places the different stones and prepares the chant as the group break the drow weapons and place them as indicated in the journal entry that they found. The remaining gnomes gather to watch.
With Kizzo, the guards, and Sparkbert in tow, Miglin Crackedquartz enters and demands to know what they are doing. “We need to prepare for the orcs! We should gather what forces we have to attack them now! We can’t possibly defend all of Blingdenstone!” When he understands what they are doing, he is more emphatic that they desist. “Stop wasting time! We are in danger!”
Gravel tells him to shut up because they know there are traitors and that he will not fight with traitors at his side. Pingtu carries on with the chant. They then see the monoliths vibrate and their shapes of the gods become clearer. Pingtu then welcomes the gods and asks about the traitors. The group hears faint, vibrating sounds, although the gnomes, Pingtu and Garmudden in particular, seem to hear clearly. After a couple of minutes, Pingtu turns and interprets, “The gods say that two traitors are here among us now.” They cannot get more specific.
Sasha comes up with the idea of getting everyone to sign an oath to Blingdenstone, so that they can compare the writing with those in the notes that Kargien had received. As each gnome writes, Sasha compares the writing. Fendrick Pestle sort of has a similar writing but not an exact match. Although her writing does not match, Krell acts suspiciously and Thorn presses her, but she does not admit anything. Finally, Miglin writes the oath. When they examine it, the writing matches, and Sir Paul causes the paper to burst in flames (for a nice dramatic effect).
Miglin protests, but the adventurers say that it is proof that he is one of the traitors and tie him up. They also tie up Krell as the only other likely traitor. They leave the guards with Krell and Miglin, and they discuss their next steps. Garmudden says that the orcs are their greatest threat and that, even though he’s not a fighter, he would go to attack the orcs while they might be at their weakest. Gravel also suggests that he could try to heal Kargien, so they return to his quarters to find him still alive. Gravel casts and Kargien’s wounds start to magically heal, as his eyes begin to clear once again. Still weakened, he wakes.
They discuss plans for attacking the orcs, and Thorn suggests that they talk to Gallus to see if the Pecks would scout the orcs and give them information about how many there are and where they are. Gallus agrees because it could end the orc terror and leaves to scout.
The night’s session ends.