As soon as they stepped out of the safe house were they beset by an angry group of goblins who been attracted to the dark energies of the Rune of the Grey. Although the goblins were easily dispensed with, the group decided to quicken their pace, in case others might be looking to ambush them as they made their way out of Forge.
Marduke led them to a dimly lit alley about 20 minutes from the safe house—stopping, he bent over and lifted the sewer cover from the road. After some discussion and much hesitation (Alatir, in particular, seemed very resistant to heading down into the sewers) they all slowly climbed down the hole.
Fortunately for them, the sewer had two pathways on each side of the sludge, keeping them dry for the moment. The smell, of course, was another thing, and they did their best to ignore it. As they walked along the elevated path above the sludge they noticed ahead that it vanished into the side of the sewer wall. Beyond the end of the path they saw the metal grate that Marduke had gone through on his way into Forge so many years ago.
It was difficult to see from the end of the sewer path whether or not the hole that Marduke had cut into the grate was still there. Serine volunteered to swim to the grate and inspect it herself—she climbed into the muck and slowly made her way over, discovering that the hole Marduke had climbed through had never been repaired, and that it could definitely be made large enough for each member of the party to pass through. After some work, each of them climbed through the grate, waist deep in the muck of Forge.
After passing through the gate, the flow of sewage made a sharp left turn and headed down a slight incline. Marduke assured them that the sewage flow opened up into a large cavern ahead, where it joined up with an underground river. From there, they could wash off in the river and continue on their way to Thog Tahrir.
As they headed down the slope, they noticed that the sewage was rising above their waist. As the muck rose higher and higher, they realized that a part of the tunnel had caved in ahead, forcing the sludge to back up. Realizing they were quickly running out of options, Serine summoned a quick burst of magical energy, and blew the obstruction away. They floated down the river of sludge, finally entering a vast cavern that joined up with the freshwater river.
They pulled themselves out of the sewage and walked upstream into the fresh waters of the underground river. As they were washing themselves off, they noticed behind them that the flow of muck from Forge was decreasing in its flow, until it completely stopped. Serine surmised that her spell had caused a further collapse of the tunnel roof after they had passed the blockage, meaning it wouldn’t be long until the muck of Forge backed up into the city. Marduke suggested they rest only briefly, and then make haste down the road to Thog Tahrir. After a brief respite, they set out on the dark path down into the deeps.
The path followed the river for some time before eventually veering to the left and down into a deep tunnel. The road itself had at one point been a major thoroughfare between Forge and Thog Tahrir, although centuries of neglect and abandonment had taken its toll. As they continued along, the tunnel opened up into another large cavern—the path stayed to the right of the cavern wall, while a sheer drop appeared to the edge of the path on the left.
As they walked along they came to a small turnout on the left—they noticed that there was a headless dwarven statue holding silent guard over the road. As they came in for a closer look, they were suddenly set upon by a group of goblins, led by a particularly demented and insane goblin shaman. The staff he carried seemed to give him a special kind of power—just before the fight began he summoned a great goblin beast from the shadows—it was the largest goblin that any of the adventurers had seen before.
The fight turned out to be more difficult and interesting than any of them would have imagined. Branan’s trusty burning hands spell seemed to escape him for most of the battle, and the great goblin beast packed a mighty punch. At one point, Hermia attempted to shoot an arrow at the shaman, only to accidentally drop the Rune of the Grey in the process. The shaman caught a glimpse of the rune laying on the floor, and the mere sight of it energized him and his minions.
Meanwhile, Serine had successfully knocked one of the goblins off the side of the road with one of her cantrips, although it managed to grab hold of a rock on the way down and climb back up into the battle. In the confusion of the battle, the dwarven statue somehow became animated, turning to the left and right at the hip. As the goblins were hewn down, the shaman was kicked into the waiting hands of the dwarven statue, who immobilized it while Serine gave the final blow.
After the battle, Serine went over to examine the staff that the shaman had dropped. Upon closer examination, she realized it was the Staff of the Underworld, a dwarven relic that had long been thought to be lost. As she dropped her old staff and equipped this new one, she felt a renewed sense of power flowing through her—she knew from her schooling that the holder of the staff could wield greater magical energy while in the depths—she wondered what would happen as she moved closer to the surface.
After tending to minor injuries and resting for a moment, the group decided to continue down the path—no doubt darker and more dangerous surprises waited ahead.