After a night’s sleep on the surface, the party re-entered the dungeon, but quickly discovered they were not alone. Another group of adventurers, calling themselves the “Freeriders”, had been employed by Councilman Troyas to help clear out the dungeon and save the prisoners. Their leader, a young noble’s son named Ragnum Dourstone, insisted that the party leave the adventuring up the the Freeriders, but they refused. Downstairs, a large group of hobgoblin soldiers were waiting for the party, and when the Freeriders came to help, all of the them but Dourstone and Madrick, their grizzled and taciturn guardian, were fatally wounded. The Freeriders retreated from the catacombs, but not before Madrick made it clear that he blamed the party for the death of the young ranger Loris, and he would not forgive them.
On the second level of the catacombs, the party encountered growing numbers of undead and several more prisoners. Jalissa, an acolyte of Ioun, was bound to a sarcophagus and showed signs of torture, and even after being freed, she showed symptoms of serious mental trauma. Having learned of Sinruth’s location from the hobgoblin prisoner, the adventurers avoided his chambers and instead explored the rest of the catacombs.
Happening upon a massive blood-red devil trapped in a cage, the party decided to slaughter the creature while it was still imprisoned, and though it tried to escape, all its attempts proved futile. In a nearby chamber housing a chapel, they found some sort of priest attempting a summoning, and Auge von Sturm managed to catch him unawares so the group could interrogate him.
They discovered that Sinruth had hired Bairwin the necromancer to help perform a ritual for the undead inhabitants of the castle catacombs. Apparently, when the hobgoblins had claimed the dungeon, the ancient Lord Rivenroar had woken from his undead slumber, but far weaker than he had been before. In order to reattain his power, he needed fresh sacrifices, and a dark ritual to feed on their life-force. Bairwin admitted to helping set up the ritual and revealed that Thurann, the guard Captain’s son, was slated to be the first sacrifice. The party quickly imprisoned him in the same cage where he had kept his summoned devil and rushed off to rescue Thurann.
When they honor guard crypt, they found Alys, a messenger from Brindol, chained to a fountain. After freeing her, she told them that Thurann had just been taken and was somewhere ahead in the darkness. They surged ahead to find a throne room, where Thurann was trapped in a magic circle and a wight wearing a stone-and-iron crown was feeding off his life-force. The party quickly attacked, defeating the wight in a brave battle. While the magic circle seemed at first impenetrable, Auge managed to drop the barrier by reciting the inscription on the wall of the honor guard crypt, and the party stabilized Thurann before he was lost.
After a night’s rest in the crypt where they found Jalissa, the party gave Alys one of the mysterious blackblades and asked her to keep watch over the prisoners on the surface, at their old campsite. She assented, and they scoured the rest of the dungeon for the remaining prisoners. They found Mirtala the baker chained to an altar, sick with filth fever from the rats that had been locked in with her. They found Zerriska downstairs in another magic cirlce, defended by a fearsome snake-like beast comprised of the rotting trash in the hobgoblin garbage-pit. Finally, they turned their attention to Sinruth.