The party decided to enter the large double doors that Orna said belonged to the Temple. Quintus led the way and once inside was promptly attacked by a black pudding, 4 black earth cult guards, and 1 black earth cult priest. Chained to a large pillar in the room was an unconscious deep gnome. The battle was difficult with the black pudding using its acid attacks to destroy both Kareep’s studded leather armor and Quintus’s plate armor. All the foes were slain except for the priest. He was captured for interrogation. At the end of the fight the party found that the guards stone armor became rigid and unusable. But the priest was wearing splint mail which Quintus put on since his plate armor was destroyed.
The priest was interrogated but provided very little new information despite Quintus intimidating him rather severely. The female deep gnome, Rukh Glitterstone, however, was much more willing to talk. She explained that she had been captured by the earth cultists while she was sneaking around and exploring this area. She had never seen Marlos Urnrayle but confirmed that he is indeed a male gendered medusa with the power to turn whomever he looks at to stone. She also confirmed that there is an ancient drow temple in the levels below the black earth cult stronghold. There are also elemental nodes down there where the cultists have some sort of connection with the elemental planes. Rukh Glitterstone was given the choice as to the fate of the cult priest that had been captured. She said she wanted to get home and had no care as to his fate. So he was left chained to the pillar in her stead. And Rukh slipped into the shadows to begin her long journey home.
With that the party moved in to the lair of Marlos Urnrayle. They approached from a secret stair to the east instead of going through the main door. They found the room lavishly decorated but empty of Marlos himself or any other creatures. Much treasure was recovered, however. 1100 SP, 130 PP, a dragon tapestry worth 400 GP, a beautifully carved lyre worth 250 GP, an embroidered silk robe worth 80 GP, and a suit of elven chainmail that Puck put on. The Master Party Treasure List was updated.
At last the party decided to attempt a descent down the stairs to the deeper level. They were met, however, by a battalion of earth elemental myrmidons. The four creatures not only blocked the stairs leading down but pounded into the party with terrible ferocity. When the party retreated they sealed the passageway with a thick wall of stone that became permanent. The party considered having Quintus tunnel through the wall with his Claws of the Umberhulk, but they instead decided to head back to Red Larch to repair their armor and spend some of their well earned coin.