The sun was high in the sky as the adventurers approached crested the final ridge to finally sight the Monastery. Built into a wide chasm cut into the hillside the monastery had a central stone keep, possibly millennia old, with a more modern building attached around it. Knocking in the door was met with rebuke, as the monks wished no visitors, no questions, and no new members.
Frustrated Anabelle and Argus continued to push the monk, asking more questions and getting the monk more frustrated. While the monk had the small door open Anabelle was able to snatch the his gargoyle mask away. In response the monk grabbed her wrist and in one smooth motion snapped her wrist. In pain and getting nowhere, the two adventurers pondered their next move.
Taking a different path saw Sagluan, Bruce, and Sendrina investigate the monastery's perimeter. In the northwest corner they found a walled garden, and were able to jimmy the door open quietly. Although parts were overgrown, the paths were clear and the statues of gargoyles looked well tended. Although suspicious of the statues a thorough investigation assured the adventurers they were simply statues. Until one of them began to attack.
The Gargoyle defeated, the adventurers began to check doors leading off the walled garden. One was magically warded, another simply too difficult to unlock, and the third was finally cracked by a combined effort. Sneaking as best they could, they opened a door to find a distillery manned by two of the monks. Quickly and quietly Sendrina and Sagluan attacked the monks, with Bruce finishing one off with a well placed firebolt. Although effective it was loud, alerting the abbotess, Hellenrae, and her sparring partner to the intruders.
Emerging from the dojo the monk was quickly killed, but allowed enough time for Hellenrae to come from behind. Enraged she unleashed kung-fury upon the adventurers, her stunning blow and flurrying fists almost proving too much. But for all her skill she was no match for the adventurers cold steel, and she fell cut to pieces. They then found time to 'acquire' several dozen bottles of strong brandy from the distillery, with Sagluan ensuring he sampled the wares.
Emboldened they proceeded into the next room, and stumble into a Lich buried in his studies. He showed no interest in the adventurers, repeatedly telling them to leave or he would destroy them. Although he was pushed to within a single word of destroying them, they got smart and retreated from the Lich's chambers.
After raiding the chambers of the now deceased Hellenrae the group found a Scriptorium where two monks diligently scribed texts. They were no match for the adventurers, and their death allowed investigation of the tomes. Here they found evidence of the true nature of the Monastery, that it was in fact a secret temple for the Cult of Black Earth and deep below was the true temple fashioned in the ruins of a Dwarven stronghold.
Some more exploring led the adventurers to the entrance of the central keep, and it was here they had their greatest idea. In the interest of caution they rolled a barrel of brandy to the door, cracked it open, waited ready with fire, and then knocked loudly on the door. Of course one of the Cult Guards opened the door, and was promptly launched back across the room to a concussive death. Now alert to the intruders Qarbo, the priest, and his single remaining guard moved to attack. The guard did not last long, but Qarbo was able to hold his own with a combination of glaive and powerful earth magic.
When the dust settled, literally, Sagluan was down, Bruce was out of spells, and Sandrina was almost dead. The adventurers were exhausted and desperately needed a rest, so they retreated to Hellenrae's room to barricade themselves in and rest. Just after first watch their rest was interupted by two Duergar investigating the Monastery. The explosion in the Shrine of Stone had caused the remaining monks to flee below, sending the Duergar up during the night to clear out the intruders. Sadly they failed as the adventurers killed them both and finished their rest.
In the darkness of early morning they rose and continued to explore the Monastery. Unbeknownst to them it was now abandoned, so they cautiously progressed to explore and loot the entire building. In the Shrine of Stone they discovered that the altar was once dedicated to Moradin, but has since been desecrated by the Cult for their own nefarious purposes. They utilised their barrel skills again to destroy an Umberhulk kept below the Shrine. The stairs were rigged to turn into a ramp, leading to the Umberhulk and what would have been certain death for anyone not prepared.
Finishing their looting adventure the adventurers found a staircase down and descended into the mines below the monastery. The first chamber was the guard room, manned by three orcs and an ogre. Expecting a fierce fight they threw bottles of brandy at the orcs hoping to be able to set them on fire. Instead the orc 'commander', Jurth, asks for the pass-sign. Thinking quickly Sandrina makes the symbol of the Earth Cult with her hands, which convinces Jurth to allow the adventurers to pass. Once plied with brandy the orcs even provided directions around the mines.