With the party back together and healed, Zakhar lurked in one of the passages waiting for the wandering ghouls to filter back into the open area that would give him the most targets for an opening fire bomb strike. The ghouls were wandering too slowly, though, and Altei got impatient and charged in, followed by Elsie and Kaito.
There were still plenty of targets for the bombs farther back, at least, and the ghouls were still fragile and easily punched or stabbed to death. The party pushed them back and back through the narrow corridors, only to find more and more swarming to attack them, until they finally saw an open chamber with a wildly fluctuating pool of seawater.
Elsie got herself paralyzed at a crossroads leading up to the larger chamber, and Kaito wandered down the side passage chasing after some stragglers, so it ended up being Val who charged into the room first, zapping a bunch of goblin-ghouls who'd swum up out of the pool of water with a Lightning Bolt. Altei was right behind her, but was quickly paralyzed... but between Val's trident, Zakhar's bombs, and Ash's Flaming Sphere most of the ghouls were killed or driven back into the water.
All this time, Alaena (I think? Aldern's wife)(I was calling him Aldin before because I hadn't seen it written down) was clawing and tearing at a stone door on the far side of the pool. Just as she tore the door in half and then ripped the remainder off its hinges, Kaito leapt into the room from the side tunnel (which had angled back) and landed on a narrow, slippery spit of rock above the pool. The last goblin-ghoul tried to jump up and drag him in, but didn't manage it, and he was able to kill it with a readied action when it tried a second time.
With the room apparently clear, he and Altei followed Alaena into the short passageway behind the door, and found her fighting a ghoul who looked like he might be Aldern, judging from the clothes. Altei snuck around investigating the creepy contents of the room -- pictures of phoof painted over pictures of Alaena in blood, weird sexual stick-figures of a tree-person mating with a human, and all kinds of rotting meat and fungal growths, including a weird human-shaped fungus plastered against the back wall.
Kaito ran up and tried to help the revenant Alaena get her revenge against Aldern. It didn't work so well. Aldern slaughtered her and then collapsed in a weeping pile. "I can't believe I killed her! AGAIN!"
That didn't stop Kaito trying to stab him, but when the others finally made their way around the pool and arrived (despite Altei's attempts to shield Phoof from the horrors of the badly drawn pornography) he backed off since they seemed to want to talk to him.
Aldern: "It's not me you should be afraid of. It's the Hunter, and the Sinnerman! If you kill me, he'll return!"
He explained -- kind of -- that after he'd 'accidentaly' killed his wife, he'd had to turn to some people in a foreign city for help restoring the house, and that he wasn't the ones behind the attacks, not really -- it was the Hunter, who wanted to spread the ghoul infection to as many people as possible, and the Sinnerman who was cruel and evil and just wanted to make people suffer. He himself was just an innocent victim...
Elsie wasn't fooled. She walked up and punched him in the face -- or tried to! He caught her fist in his hand, and his expression changed, and he started to giggle. "Oh, so we want to have fun then, do we? Eeeheeeheeheeehee!"
He was MUCH tougher than the other ghouls, with a much more powerful paralysis. Unfortunately for him, Altei, Elsie and Kaito (who were fighting him in melee) had much better saving throw rolls this time, and remained in-paralyzed for long enough to finish him off, while Zakhar supported them with healing bombs that kept them alive from the Sinnerman's damage. In the end, he fell...
Kaito: *stabs at the air* "Die! Die you stupid ghost or whatever was possessing him!"
Elsie: "Nothing was possessing him, he just had alternate personalities. It was all him."
Of course, it wasn't *all* him -- he'd been working for his masters, who'd approved of his ghoul rampage as a cover story for murdering several specific people whose 'overwhelming greed' could be harvested for a ritual. They hoped that they'd stopped him in time, but he'd memorized and burned the list so they didn't know who else would be target.
As for purifying the haunted house... the fungus-man was clearly what was left of the original owner who'd cursed it, but burning away the fungus was only a temporary solution -- it would grow back until someone consecrated the grounds. This seemed doable, eventually, but not immediately.
After looting the room, they decided to investigate the southernmost passage, that Noggin had scouted out and reported contained a 'bat man' and a bunch of bats.
Kaito: "We should talk to him, and see if he's a threat."
But he didn't want to talk, and was definately a threat. He was a worse threat because of the blinding swarms of bats that filled the corridor when they approached, letting him tear into Elsie without being seen. Elsie -- who'd almost died in the previous two fights and now was almost dying again -- decided that she'd had enough and retreated, leaving Kaito to try to fight the beast alone, while Zakhar tossed firebombs at random bats and Altei wandered blindly around in the room behind the man-bat trying to find somewhere that wasn't bat-filled, in vain.
Val and Ash saved the day, though, or at least the barbarian. Val cleared away the bats in a small area with a Gust of Wind spell, letting Kaito fight effectively, and Ash finished the giant bat man off with some magic missiles once he was visible.
Looting all the bodies revealed a treasure trove of magical items, which the party mostly passed out to people who could use them most effectively, although there were a few left for them to try to sell if they got back to town. Phoof also identified one of the ghouls as being the remains of a dangerous bandit with a large bounty on his head.
That left them still trapped in the house by the giant swarm of birds, and not wanting to sleep because of all the ghosts that were still haunting the place. So they set up camp in the basement and waited for morning, with Phoof telling ghost stories to pass the time and keep anyone from dozing off.
Sure enough, as the morning sun washed over the yard, the birds dispersed, and they were able to make their way back to the horses and put some distance between themselves and the house before taking a quick rest. Then they returned to town to report what they'd found and decide on their next step.
Actually very little drama this time, and everyone mostly worked together. Yay! n.n
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