The party travelled for several days to cross the mighty river and wend their way through the hot, rocky and labyrinthine gulleys and clefts of the Westmost Sumber Hills in search of their quarry. Travel was hard on the party – hunting and foraging was scarce and their supplies were near-exhausted. During their travels, they observed many aberrant weather conditions – unnatural heat and dryness – lightning and thunder without cloud or rain – flash floods and frequent earth tremors. At some point on the journey, the Watchful Knight departed from their side one night and did not rejoin them.
After much hardship, they came across a hidden cleft in which lay a huge low stone building of ancient and unusual construction.
The party scouted the outside of the remote estate – finding a walled garden at the rear – and the rest of the few entrances and narrow windows secure. There were limited signs of habitation. A detect evil spell cast by the party revealed that there was great evil present, but not the nature of exact location. Eventually, the party decided to penetrate the complex through the garden.
The garden was unkempt – designed as a formal garden with a considerable number of lifelike humanoid statues, a dried-up fountain and scrubby planting. The West of the garden was a large hall and a short flight of stairs led from the garden to a door, to South had a number of doors into the low building. The East, too, had a secure-looking door with iron banding.
Several members of the party started looking around the garden, but then several things happened at once. Malcor was examining one of the doors to the South when it opened and he was grabbed by an unseen attacker and dragged inside. Simultaneously, the party was attacked by a pair of huge, hulking gargoyles that had been posing as statues in the garden. Their stony skin seemed impervious to the party’s blades and spears and without Malcor’s magic, the party was quite hard-pressed. The party was saved(?) by Thursh’s rage and power as he bodily lifted a gargoyle overhead and body-slammed it into the ground, and Geth’s unbridled fury at losing his brother and determination to retrieve him.
After dealing with the gargoyles, the party battered their way inside in pursuit of Malcor’s kidnappers, only to find their way barred by unarmed fighting monks of great skill and prowess. The fighting ground into a stand-off brawl involving wrestling, shouting and lots of energy, but little effect. The monks seemed determined to prevent the party from penetrating their monastery any further, and Geth particularly was not controlled in his determination to rescue his brother.
In the end, it was Malcor himself that returned, with one of the senior monks of the order, to restore some semblance of order. Malcor had been questioned and negotiated a cease to hostilities in return for the Gorgon staff that the party had liberated from the bandits on the road from Red Larch to Bargewright Inn. Malcor explained that the monks wished to be left alone, claimed no knowledge of the bugbears or missing delegation, but were willing to overlook the party’s breaking into the garden and destroying the monastery’s gargoyle defenders for the staff as long as the party were to leave immediately and never return.
Given how stretched they were, and the forces available to the monks to defend their home, the party believed the right course of action was to leave.