22:03 – 22:07 – Resolutely trying not to think about the putrefying gore that smears every surface in these tunnels, the stink of rotting flesh and body fluids a choking nightmare for those that breathe, the group enter a confusing maze of low, pitch-black corridors. The tunnels meander at random, and seem to have been ripped out of the rotting, waterlogged stone of the cities bowels by the undead with claw and fang. Zaruel lights the way with the white flames of his sword, and more than a few times, the reflective eyes of ghouls are seen glinting in the distant darkness a moment before their owner flee back into its embrace.
“Maybe we scared them and they are not going to be any more problem?” mumbles Ardwaine, her voice clearly suggesting that she does not think this likely.
“Huh, maybe.” Growls the paladin.
“I truly hope not.” Replies the Veteran, his flame-wreathe axe crackling with pent up energy, “I'm just getting warmed up, nice and ready for those Syndicate bastards when we find them.”
22:08 – 22:09 – The ambush, when it comes, springs in an intersection between three different corridors. The enemies are many and varied; four of the normal undead cannibals, one of the hulking brutes with the massive jaws, another ghoul like the one outside shrouded in unnatural growths of toxic mould, and finally, an eyeless horror infused with moaning flames of necrotic power. The group respond with practised ease however, and quickly adopt a fine battle formation from which to hack, blast and crush the unlife from their enemies. Despite the monsters paralysing venom, filthy claws, unnatural magics and unliving tenacity, the party soon destroy their foes, leaving the crushed and blasted remnants of the foul things mingled with the seared gore caking the tunnels' walls.
22:10 – 22:14 – The sounds of battle and stench of roasting flesh sends a tremor of agitation through the warrens, and the group move as quickly as they can, crouched over and slipping in the unthinkable slime that lies inches deep in the tunnel, searching for a way out. Ormid, trusting his sense of direction and the dundorin's natural affinity for subterranean exploration, leads the way taking Ardwaine's advice, and after a short while they begin to feel a slight change in the atmosphere, though the stench grows worse if anything.
“Brundor's cock!” Blasphemes Ardwaine, “What the bloody hell is that stink?”
“More rotting flesh. A lot of it, like a mass grave or something.” Answers Zaruel, apparently unmoved by the stench.
Now in a long curving tunnel marked by gouges and the ubiquitous rotting gore, the group become aware of gibbering and howling screams echoing from the darkness behind them. Risking a look back, Shadevia spots a large pack of ghouls, easily four times the size of the one they fought outside, rampaging towards them in a frenzy of hunger and killing glee.
“We need to find a way out right now. MOVE!”
They do, none of them relishing the idea of facing a group the size of the one behind them. Following the eye-watering stench, the group run as fast as the awkward confines and darkness allow, each one catching a limb or their head on the hard, filthy stone walls. They turn suddenly into a corridor that is clearly man made; dressed stone discoloured by the putridity that covers it – some cellar linked to a structure in the city above no doubt. However, the initial relief fades, for the group realise that it is a dead end, the blocking wall hidden behind a noisome mass of liquefying flesh, gory bones and squirming carrion grubs. However, with dawning shock, they realise there is a larger chamber beyond, and the the entrance to it is plugged with masses of rotting bodies – this forming the “wall” before them. They also note the bite and claw marks in the sickening mess; clear evidence that the ghouls frequently mine this vein of deliquescent horror and feast here.
This then, is the source of the maddening stench.
Closer now – too close – the massive pack of undead are only moments away from catching the group in the corridor, and realising that drastic actions are needed, the Veteran dips his head and charges the disgusting wall of corpses. He hits it with devastating momentum, and at once the fragile balance between the physical structure of the rotting mess and the diseased fluids and gasses within it is broken, the entire pile vomiting forth into the corridor in a nightmare eruption of liquefied flesh, fats and slippery, boated entrails. The repulsive mass erupts over the party, covering them from head to toe, its smell driving the undead into an absolute frenzy.
Drenched in ghoul bait, the party do not allow themselves the luxury of horror, and follow the slipping, skidding bulk of the gore cloaked warforged into the space beyond the ruptured mass. The first ghouls launch at them; dead eyes wide and glinting yellow, mouths filled with filthy teeth like those of a shark.
“GET IN!” Roars the Veteran, his massive paws wrapped around the heavy trap door within the chamber, clearly intended to seal the chamber before it was forced by the hungry undead.
Everyone dives through, the lead ghoul barely missing Llewellyn's back with its snapping jaws, and the warforged throws every last ounce of his strength into swinging the heavy stone and wood portal shut. The massive thing slams firmly into the frame with a wet boom and burst of oily filth – the dismembered head of the lead ghoul plopping wetly into the seething rot this side, as its neck is crushed to the point of snapping by the doors weight.
It is only now that they become aware of all the other corpses.