Last week on the Tuesday game...
After a long rest in the gore-filled room housing the phylactery, the party decide to make their way out of the dragon's tomb. Following some kerfuffle involving the iron golem that we will not go into (except to mention that it involved a levitating cleric, Alistair being squashed by Taman by an invisible Bigby's Hand against the bookshelf, and Delwyn dancing circles around the golem), the party eventually make it to the mushroom chamber with 500gp and an enchanted breastplate in tow on a Tenser's Floating Disc.
In the chamber, Delwyn dives to the bottom of the pool and successfully grabs the orb that was causing the entire pool to pulse and glow. Unfortunately, the monk makes the mistake of handing it to Taman, who promptly puts the orb in the water to see if it will make the pool glow again... whereupon an invisible underwater force promptly snatches it away. Delwyn dives to try and recover it, but the orb is nowhere to be found: it has disappeared from the pond, and the water in the pool is now nothing more than murky mushroom castoff water.
Back outside, Delwyn catches a cold running around in his wet clothing, and the party ransack the researcher's tents to find nothing more valuable than a small sack of rubies. They try to head back down the mountain, but upon arriving at the top of Gorakmor, they notice that a couple of mindflayers have taken the entire orc village hostage, and that the mindflayers appear to be led by a red-haired woman in her 40s.
This, they surmise, is one of the Talons of Biatos: Zennar the Red, also known as the Fury of the East, the Unbroken Steel, and the Baroness of Flame. Dressed in sensible snow clothes over a breastplate, the middle-aged woman carries two shortswords that are strange twins of each other: one with a black basket hilt, and the other with a silver cruciform crossguard.
The party decide to send Delwyn down dressed in one of the mindflayer's robes, but the ruse immediately falls apart when one of the mindflayers begins questioning him in Deep Speech about something. Noticing that he is not one of her mindflayers, the lady gestures for him to approach and tells him that the orc village is now under her control. Until they say otherwise, she continues, travel in or out of the tier is forbidden; he should now disarm himself and join the rest of the orcs in the middle of the village until the "so-called adventurers in the mountain" have been caught and killed.
Delywn makes the mistake here of denying that he knows nothing about the adventurers, but his exhaustion - coupled with his inability to actually lie convincing - rouses the woman's suspicions. Gesturing at a nearby mindflayer, she orders the monk to be brought into a nearby tent for further questioning.
While all this is going on, Alistair and Taman take the opportunity to sneakily climb down the goat staircase, and Gabriel uses this time to put on the breastplate they had found earlier. Unfortunately, Alistair slips on the treacherous ice, and the woman notices the wizard's overly large motions and involuntarily yelp. Picking up the orc leader's bow, she fires an arrow at the wizard, and Alistair plunges sixty feet to the ground as he loses his grip on the icy ledge.
The lady sends yet another mindflayer to go retrieve Alistair, and as the duo are on the way back into the village, Taman decides to break cover and charge the mindflayer. His first hit stuns the creature with overwhelming force, but as the battle rages on, the party find themselves in an increasingly bad position: not only are they severely exhausted and outnumbered, Gabriel was still halfway through putting on his new armour and thus unable to join the battle.
Flanked by mindflayers on both sides, Taman finds himself grappled by one of them and, unable to wriggle out of the abomination's grasp or fend off the probing tentacles reaching for his ears, lets out a single piercing scream as the outer edges of his brains liquify under the power of the ilithid's will. Taman's last thought, before his visual cortex is pulped and emptied from his skull, is a fleeting sense-memory from the mindflayer: that of a rabbit being skinned and bled before it is tossed into a pot for stew.
Watching in horror as one of their allies collapses in the ilithid's arms, Alistair and Delwyn decide to run back up Gorakmor. Surprisingly enough, the remaining four robed figures do not appear overly concerned with giving chase and instead appear to be content simply holding their ground at the orc village.
Now with neither paladin nor gold (most of the coin from the dragon's hoard was lost when Alistair dispelled his Tenser's Floating Disc in order to properly sneak down the staircase), what remained of the party make their way solemnly to the third tier, in the hopes that some light may yet remain at the end of this dark and dangerous tunnel...