With the arrival of morning, the party had breakfast, tended their mounts, and prepared to descend into the mines under the monastery. Once down the stairs, they proceeded to scout the various tunnels. Dame Azinell made a point to mark their progress with a piece of chalk. They encountered no one, but did find a long tunnel that led to the outside about a quarter mile from the monastery.
Noting the exit for later, they turned around and headed back to the mines. As they got back, they were suddenly ambushed by a group of duergar. One pitched battle later and the party was victorious. Taking a moment to check their inventory of supplies, they then proceeded to the stairs with the locked gate that went even further down than the mines. Remembering the keys that they had captured the last time they had been to the monastery, Nasim quickly got the gate open and then they began their descent.
After descending a few hundred feet, the party discovered a passageway, which eventually led to a chasm with a stone bridge. The party almost immediately saw a trio of gargoyles. Inexplicably, Maluth Clanguard Caragavi ran across the bridge, only to be engaged and almost pushed off by one of the gargoyles. The other two engaged the party, eventually being vanquished. The paladin’s opponent managed to flee, flying through a wide crack in the cavern wall.
That hurdle taken care of, the party moved on through the narrow passage on the other side of the bridge, finding themselves in a courtyard. They were immediately assailed by spell and crossbow fire. While the rest of the party sorted that out, Organnac (the 3rd) charged across the courtyard and through the broken gate beyond, intent on finding a way to their hidden assailants. Unfortunately, he found himself confronted by a terrible beast, a bulette, with a cultist astride its back. Clanguard quickly joined that battle, though the beast came close to ending his adventuring career. As they were finishing the beast, its rider and the hobgoblins present, duergar came through one of the doors and attacked. After several tense minutes of battle, the party stood victorious.
Needing a moment to catch their breaths, they retreated through the door that the duergar came through, finding that it led to one of the arrow slits that had been used to fire crossbows at them. They barricaded themselves in and rested a bit.
After about an hour, they noticed activity outside their chamber. Before they knew it, another bulette and rider smashed their way through their barricaded door. Behind them came a couple of the stone-clad guards and some run of the mill cultists. The battle was swift and brutal, and once again the party was victorious with no casualties.
Moving deeper into the underground dwarven complex, they discovered a crude statue of some sort of elemental god. Organnac and Clanguard decided to smash it, which of course made a lot of noise, and of course brought a dozen or so cultists running, along with one of the earth priests. The cultists were easy fodder, but the priest managed to escape.
The party decided to hold up for a bit in the barracks that the cultists came out of, while Arboro Vesto went on ahead to scout out where the priest may have gone. He returned a short time later, reporting that the priest had collected five ogres and was returning. Deciding discretion was the better part of valor, the party withdrew entirely from the complex and returned to the monastery above.
Noah and Clanguard spent some of the evening investigating the scriptorium in the monastery. discovering a number of books that covered a range of topics relating to the elemental planes. They also found some so-called insights by Marlos Urnrayle, prophet of the Cult of the Black Earth. Lastly, they found some magical scrolls, which turned out to only be of use to Arboro. With that, the party retired, preparing for a second run at the Cult of the Black Earth.