As the day wears on the party marches resolutely through the forested hills of the Tangle Downs, questing for the Ruined Monastery, spoken of by the Duke's huntsman. Burnt, stunted and twisted trees demarcate the area that the group searches for, but after a solid half day's march nothing like this is to be seen.
Truth be told, I rolled and the party was slightly off course, instead of trending straight north, as the huntsman directed, they were heading slightly north north east. But as the group broke for lunch Safara decided to climb a tree and get her bearings. She noticed that the distant ridge was slightly further to the south than it ought to be. She was smart enough to course correct and eventually the party was back on track.
A couple of hours later and the vestiges of an old forest fire became evident, they had found their destination. The rocky knoll mentioned by the huntsman was indeed covered by stunted scrub oak and blood brier bushes, the air thick with malice and the rancid feel of death. Old, weather-worn stones, a rusted chain hanging slack between them, mark an old road that winds its way to the top.
Safara, Ember, Sir Pelinor and Halister decide that all but two of the henchmen should stay at the bottom of the hill and tend to the horses while the rest of the party climb to the top to search the sharded ruins for any clues or treasure. After an hour of searching, Ember comes across a partially concealed wooden doorway lying flat upon the old Monastery floor. They check it, ready torches, and throw it wide, revealing worn stone steps that descend into the black.
Safara takes the lead and slowly descends the stairs, her ten-foot pole carefully tapping the way. An archway leads into a large room with massive square pillars supporting a rent roof, an obvious crack lets in light and water. Which, mixed with the dark cool stone, proves the perfect breeding ground for molds, mildews and fungus, which cover most of the surfaces next to the puddle and one crumbling pillar.
Squeaking from the dark corners indicates that the party is not alone...as rats, large as dogs, come out squealing, scampering towards the intruders. Swords, staves and knives flash. One henchman goes down screaming as a couple of the hungry rodents leap upon his back and set to eating anything soft. Eventually, after a few nicks here and there, the rats fall to the victorious party.
After a thorough search the group finds a small, finely carved wooden statue and a silver candle holder. Each is secreted away in a backpack and the group decides that they shall continue.
Safara, again in the lead, taps the way south through a short hallway, into a circular room with a stone pool on the floor and a small diameter hole in the ceiling through which the outdoor sky could be seen. Possibly some sort of room in which to worship the sun, moon or stars? Hard to tell. Now though, the floor is covered in some kind of green fungus or slime.
Safara, ever the careful one, pokes the floor with her staff and the slime actually seems to stick and climb up the pole. She shakes it loose, turns and grabs a torch from one of the henchmen and tries to burn the stuff. The goo flinches back and Ember grabs a flask of oil to help speed the process. Soon the room is clear of the nasty menace.
A careful examination of the room (Safara says she's searching the bottom of the murky pool with her pole.) reveals a finely crafted silver globe. It is hinged, and once opened it disgorges a strange yellow stone. After a bit more fiddling, it turns out that the "stone" is indeed the tip of a finger bone.
Yet more research reveals that it does not react identically to all members. It sits warm and snug in Embers palm, yet Safara feels ill at ease with it. Strange... It's use is not easily discerned and the party moves on, deeper into the labyrinth.
Here ends part 2. Next, a tussle with some ill-tempered Fae.
And finally, this is a pretty neat little questionnaire (culled from a gleemax forum post) to present to the new group before DMing, in order to get a little feedback on what they're expecting from a game: