Azurami - Eladrin Wizard 4
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 4
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 4
Finial - Half-elf Paladin 4
Jonas - Human Ranger 4
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord 4
Two hobgoblins remain standing, and neither of them seems to have the stomach for a continued fight. Under heavy attack, one of them falls, while the other barges through the company to attempt an escape down an unexplored corridor to the north. He finds -- not much to his surprise by the looks of it -- that the door at the end is locked. With half the party, led by Finial, on his tail, he hammers desperately on the door, but no-one on the other side comes to his aid.
Meanwhile, three goblins emerge from the south only to walk straight into an ambush laid by Jonas and Xavier. The ground underfoot flash-freezes and the air in their lungs turns to ice as the wizards unleash their attacks, while Jonas applies multiple arrows to the cause. One of the goblins, spurred on by his mates, is killed within seconds, while the other two make use of the distraction to flee back whence they came. Doors slam as they make good their escape.
To the north, Finial dispatches the remaining hobgoblin, but is dismayed to hear the sounds of armour being donned behind the door. Trying to take advantage of this opportunity, both he and Elumai batter their way through it to find themselves face-to-face with two armoured, grey-skinned and red-bearded dwarves... duergar!
Their opponents were clearly waiting for them, whipping their heads around and unleashing a flurry of razor-sharp spines from their beards straight at Finial. The attacks draw blood, and he feels cold poison seep into his muscles, but being resolute of body he soon shakes it off. Alarmingly, the dwarves then burst into flame, molten fire pouring from their warhammers and the roaring fireplace nearby flaring up in sympathy. Elumai keeps it partially in check with a simple cantrip, but as the imminent battle goes on, tongues of flame begin to lick out from the fireplace and creep across the floor.
Elsewhere, the others set about securing the area. The goblins appear to have disappeared behind some solid metal doors, similar to the ones they saw outside. From within, a voice is heard shouting orders in Common -- "Lobkorr'll see 'em away, into position you rats!" -- along with other sounds of a defense being prepared. Azurami does her best to tie off the doors to give them some time to decide what to do, and Xavier briefly lends his considerable body-weight to the task as well.
The battle with the duergar gradually attracts the rest of the party, and soon the dwarves find themselves facing a whole company of well-equipped adventurers. One of them is able to successfully beat a hasty retreat, sprinting down another easterly corridor and behind yet another door, but the other is cornered and, despite being able to use the flames in the fireplace to regenerate his wounds, is brought down.
On his person, they find a few gold pieces, and a note written in Deep Speech. Fortunately, Finial is able to read it. It appears to be almost a shopping list of sorts, not for goods, but for people!
Item Value 2 x human captives 1500gp 1 x elven female 800gp 1 x necrotech coffin 2500gp
This causes a bit of a stir with Elumai, who recalls late-night ghost stories of the 'Necrotech Surgeon General' who would visit innocent children and... modify them in ghastly ways. She had dismissed the tale, and a hundred others like it, as nothing but superstition, but now both she and her friends are forced to reconsider the possibility.
Further, quiet investigation of the complex reveals a mess hall, kitchen, and store rooms to the south, and a couple of innocuous-looking doorways which they leave unexplored in the corridors to the north. The party eventually decides that they're going to have to assault the large central room to make any progress, but they decide on a two-pronged attack, Elumai and Jonas entering from the north, through the door which the duergar used to escape, while the others rush the double-doors at the front.
Inside, they find what looks like a prison pen. Six cages are recessed into the floor such that one could walk straight over them without missing a step, with pulleys like meathooks suspended on runners above. Steps on either side ascend ten feet to a walkway and an upper balcony, where a statue of Torog, in his now-familiar guise as a disembodied hobgoblin head with multiple, tentacle-like legs, leers down over the scene. A dire wolf feasts on the remains of what looks like the body of a Kingsblade, while two hobgoblins use spears to toy with the animal from above, angering it even more. Other hobgoblins stand poised with longbows, and the duergar who escaped them before also lies in wait.
In the center of the room, a massive seven-foot human with a grimy, half-naked and muscular form, close and haphazardly-shorn hair, and a scarred wasteland for a face, stands ready for them. He wears a spiked gauntlet on his left hand, and carries a long chain in the other, one end coiled around his fore-arm.
"Fresh meat, eh? Walking straight into a Bloodreaver slave pit? Brave or stupid, your fate is the same!" - Lobkorr the Strangler.
The company does not shy from the battle. Berend and Finial leap forward to attack their enemy, dodging spears thrown from the hobgoblins above, while Elumai and Jonas enter from the upper door. Lobkorr quickly shows how he got his nickname, by lashing out with the chain and lassooing Finial around the neck -- "You're Lobkorr's little doggie now!" -- catching the paladin in a grip which slowly crushes his windpipe. Berend charges past with the full fury of his axe, and it's a massive blow, carving a great slice of flesh from Lobkorr's shoulder... but the huge barbarian, although staggered, still has the energy to laugh as he pulls the choke-chain ever tighter around his new pet's neck...