As it turns out, the party *was* in the stands of the Arena after all! Unfortunately, so were their enemies -- namely, Saul and a beastmaster with a giant pig for a pet!
No, wait, scratch that, a normal sized pig. Huh. Kijji's tossed bomb turned it into bacon and lit the beastmaster on fire, and Kiet finished him off while Sin dazed Saul until Kiet could finish him off, too. It was actually a pretty anticlimactic fight. There was also no sign of money or treasure here, either -- where had Saul hid all his money? And where were the troglodytes they'd smelled?
This called for a thorough search of the hidden area with the arena in it. There was an abandoned bar, clinic, and less-abandoned (but still pretty trashed) beast pen with some mistreated animals in it, along with the entrance to the actual fighting pit. They left Jade to take care of the animals, while Kijji drank a potion of detect secret doors and scanned for more of them. They found one under the arena floor, buried under some sand.
The second secret door led to some smuggler tunnels -- at first it seemed like a twisty maze of passages, but it quickly became clear that there was only one real path to follow. It led them past a crazed ghoul (that Kiet slaughtered), a lair of a four troglodytes (that Kiet slaughtered), another lair of FIVE troglodytes (that Kiet -- you get the idea now), and a pool surrounded by strange glowing crustals, with a pair of Grig at the bottom. After being shot by their pathetic miniature longbows, Kijji decided they were no threat, and convinced the party to leave them alive after Sin put them to sleep. They did tie them up so they wouldn't attack again once they woke. And no, it wasn't just because their upper torsos looked like beautiful women.
The next chamber was a luxurious bedchamber, full of lots and lots of treasure, which the party looted on the theory that they owned the casino now, and this was all in the basement. They were pretty sure that whoever the room belonged to wouldn't be happy about that, but...
No. No she wasn't. She was in the very next room, and as they entered, attacked them after a brief exchange regarding Saul's status ('rotting corpse'). She sicked her pet demons on them, and shot Kiet with a crossbow bolt soaked in drow poison, instantly putting her to sleep.
Fortunately, Sin was a dynamic sorceror and was able to cast 'delay poison' to wake her back up. Because none of the rest of the party would have been able to take out the dretches.
But Kiet could! Kijji flew forwards, drinking defensive potions and making a target of himself while she worked on that, which worked mostly because of the stinking cloud ('demon fart') that one dretch used to obscure the rest of the party. His defensive spells didn't stop him from getting shot, but he managed to shake off the poison's effects on his own.
Once the demons were down, the party burst out of the cloud of stinking smoke and started chasing after their dark elf mistress -- but she had slippers of spider climb, and fled right up the side of one rune-covered wall. Up and up and up, with the party climbing and/or flying after her, mostly unable to hit her because her AC was insane, until they were above ground and realized that they were climbing up the giant magic arch. The chase finally came to an end when Kijji used a tanglefoot bag (she wasn't nearly as hard to hit with touch attacks) to slow her down, and Kiet caught up and stabbed her. NOT killing her, for once, although that was purely by accident. They took her back underground to loot her, since stripping her naked with the whole city watching MIGHT have caused some questions to be asked.
The party asked questions about why it was taking so long for Kijji to strip her naked and search her. "I need to make sure I found all the treasure! I'm taking 20 on my cavity search."
She had a lot of good stuff, including some very nice armor that Sin got (passing his previous 'very nice armor' drop on to Ishtar), a kind of nice buckler for Kijji (that he could wear and still use his bow), the slippers of spider climb that Shirish took (since she hadn't been able to climb the arch at all), and an admantium chisel that they were sure they'd find a use for at some point.
She also had a book written in elven -- which several of them were able to read -- talking about how she'd been the cause of the strange magical effects plaguing the city since she'd been using the chisel to change the runes on the arch. "The magical effects should vanish once I complete my work. I hope no one realizes what this means in time to stop the coming apocalyse. Although there really isn't any way to stop it at this point." There was also mention of 'Devil's Elbow' island, a bit offshore, where more runes had been carved.
They delivered her alive to the gendarmes -- everyone had seen them fighting, so murdering her in cold blood seemed like a legally unsound idea -- sold the treasure they weren't using, and decided to rest the night at least before worrying about the apocalypse. In particular, they didn't rush to Devil's Elbow to investigate what was going on there, which turned out to be either a good choice or a very very bad one depending on whether or not there was something to find there before the meteor fell out of the sky and obliterated it the next day.
There was also a tsunami that killed a bunch of people, but it was really kind of lame for an 'apocalypse'. "I think that was probably more of a test firing," Ishtar remarked.
Oh. Yeah, that could be bad.
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