The 12th full game session. Dean (Thic Duc), Mary (Kriselle), Larry (Michael), Matt (Barron), Mariel (Leah), and Nathan (Kevin).
As we left the party, Barron had just returned to consciousness following his not-just-near-death experience. He found it inspiring. He was filled with zeal for revenge against the dolphins, and as soon as he was able to walk, headed to the market to acquire several flasks of lamp oil, a large cut of raw steak from the Merry Memory Moss Tavern, and a 100gp vial of poison from the local herbalist. The rest of the party took a few days to level up, heal, and prepare for their next excursion. The rest of the party was not as pleased with the idea of poisoning the killer dolphins, however, and argued that simply placing a sign over their exhibit would be sufficient. (This Duc did not participate as he was busy fighting off panic attacks from being used as dolphin bait).
After Kriselle bought paint and wooden construction materials to manufacture a warning sign, Michael begin to feel unwell. Thinking it was the odor of the paints, he went outside for fresh air. Opening the door to a massive lightning storm that somehow included rainbows, he decided fresh air wasn't quite worth it and remained inside. However, this didn't make him feel any better. Applying his healing skills, Kevin the druid diagnosed an acute case of gas orc spore poisoning. The party sent Barron to gather the necessary ingredients from the herbalist Bheanneh, but the herbalist argued passionately for respecting the natural life cycle of the gas orcs.
Eventually someone remembered that the party had an insurance policy and went off to get cure disease spells cast on the party members who felt sick (ie, failed their saving throws versus gas orc spore infestation).
Barron made time during this process to track down Cullum and hire him to burgle Merrang the Enchanter's office to search for the missing courier's note.
After taking additional time to rest and level up, the party proceeded to enter the dungeon and followed the passage west from the cafeteria area. The passage was liberally labeled with "This way to tremendous monster of gigantic proportions" signs, counting down from 500 feet to 0 feet in 10 foot increments. At the end of the passage they found a room with a large, circular cage in the center, the door of which had been ripped off and thrown against the wall. There were large bones in the cage, which were identified by Leah and/or Kriselle as mammoth bones -- real ones -- complete with tooth marks and mammoth flesh. The only other feature was a passage leading north labeled "Large Herbivore Exhibit".
The party attempted to sneak up the passage, which opened into a large natural cave area covered in grasses, lit only by a large bonfire at the northwest corner. Near the fire and clearly preparing for a meal was the cretin, a huge humanoid creature with two heads and two clubs, wearing only a loincloth. Next to the fire was an improvised cage holding a robed man captive.
Barron descended into the "large herbivore exhibit", attempting to sneak up on the cretin after offering a prayer to his newfound diety. The prayer called for a wisdom check, on which he rolled a natural 20 and inspiring curses from the game master who had previously set his mental expectations for prayers to "Maybe it will work on a natural 20". Damnit. However, no obvious effect was visible.
Approaching the cretin, Barron successfully moved silently, but failed to hide in shadows. Luckily, the cretin was facing the other direction and didn't notice anything unusual. Zanto, however, immediately began frantically waving at the party to attract their attention and begging (in pantomime) to be rescued. Barron ignored him and continued to approach, but the cretin eventually noticed the frantic gestures and turned around to see what the big deal was. This resulted in a brief argument between the two heads, one staring right at Barron and insisting there was someone sneaking up on them, and the other insisting that it was nothing to worry about.
When both heads (and the body) finally turned around to face the party, Kevin cast his Entanglement spell. The cretin was held in place by the thick grasses covering the floor of this cavern, and a wiser party might well have backed off and finished the fight with missile weapons. A wiser party would not have chosen the moniker The Band of Misfits, however, so instead both Barron and Michael continued to close on the cretin.
Barron was closer, and threw one of his flasks of oil at the cretin. He missed -- and tripped, faceplanting just across the border of Kevin's Entanglement. Unfortunately, he was within range of the cretin's long arms and large clubs. The cretin attacked with a huge club, smashing the thief into unconscious pulp with a single blow, and winding up for a second attack.
Seeing the thief's plight, Kriselle took careful aim and declared a called shot between the eyes of the right-hand head of the cretin, rolling a natural 20 and knocking that head (and arm) out of action for most of the fight. "You killed Fred!" said the cretin in horror... and, as Barron's body was the only character within reach, wound up for another strike next round. With Barron already unconscious and bleeding out, entangled by the grasses, spreadeagled on the ground staring death in the face with unseeing eyes... a voice was heard to say, "Don't expect this sort of thing on a regular basis", and the cretin's furious swing impacted the creature's foot instead of Barron's face.
Meanwhile, Michael had been approaching the creature in foot, sticking to the far wall outside the radius of the entanglement spell. Glancing at the cage that held Zanto, he saw there was no ready way to open it, so turned to attack the cretin. Michael's hammer swing (with a natural 1) connected with Fred's dead head... and woke Fred up to rejoin the fight! Fred and his fellow head furiously retaliated, knocking the cleric out of action.
Leah and Kriselle's arrows brought the cretin down permanently shortly after that... right on top of Michael. It took Thic Duc's strength to lift the cretin off of Michael, and Kriselle and Leah combined their efforts to drag Michael's unconscious form (and his heavy plate mail) out from underneath the giant creature.
With the cretin dead and Zanto still locked in a cage, negotiations began. The party eventually agreed to 5% of net profits after a year (per party member, totaling 25%, with 5% going to a charity on behalf of Thic Duc) in return for the rescue and helping with recovering exhibits as needed. Documents were signed to that effect.
Zanto explained the source of the monsters in the Petting Zoo is a small room with a strange glowing wall. Sometimes, monsters just appear in that room, and he finds a place for them in the Petting Zoo as quickly as possible. He has no idea why they appear there, or why they aren't quite normal monsters.
He does, however, know of a deeper dungeon level. It is concealed in a hole under the desk in his private office, secured by a trapdoor and covered by a rug. He also has a map, suitable for turning in to Herzog the Merely Worried.
The party took a brief detour to visit the land sharks and verify that they were safely confined before returning to the surface. As it turned out, their cage door was unlocked, but still closed, and the land sharks were all present. Kriselle in particular enjoyed tossing them meat just barely out of the water and seeing them walk on their hind flippers to retrieve it. Thus amused, they left the dungeon, turned in the map in return for a bank draft, and discovered that the minitaurs had escaped their captivity.
To be continued...
After the game, a question about backstabbing with a crossbow lead to viewing The Gamers, which is made by Dead Gentlemen Productions and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment