We returned to our Southern heroes, trapped underground in an ancient, partially ruined dwarf city. The party had been separated after an attack by blind cave-alligators, and only Roland, Fenfaril, and Baldur remained together, Bors and Baddon having disappeared into the darkness.
Sneaking about the city, the heroes stumbled upon a line of chained, enslaved villagers. They defeated the slavers in a tense, pitched battle, and upon freeing the slaves realized that one of them was their old acquaintance Raymon the Bard.
Raymon explained that he and the villagers had been captured by orcs and sold to the dark ones at the orc keep back on the surface. The panicked villagers revealed that many of them had been taken to a stalactatite tower nearby and had not returned.
Investigating, the party found that the tower belonged to a deranged, mutated dark one who was experimenting on villagers by implanting greenstone in them. Exploring his lair, the party stumbled on their old friend Aloyisius, priest of the order of St. Tottlemus, chained to a stone slab. Together, the group confronted the mad dark one, slew his two zombie manticore guards, and put the mad scientist himself to the sword.
Our heroes successfully performed emergency surgery on the afflicted villagers, removed the greenstone implanted in them, and turned their attention to the jail that held the remaining human slaves.
Assaulting the jail, the party fought a pitched battle between themselves, trash-eating xorn, blind cave alligators, and an entire unit of dark dwarf guards and clerics. Our heroes triumphed, freed the villagers, and managed to lead the people back out of the city by going up the same precarious stone stair they entered by.
Of course, the complication remained that the stair led directly to an fully manned orc keep…