The massive stone chamber resonated with a feeling of unease; at last our three heroes — Lia, fair elven ranger and master of beasts large and small; Corin, learned draconian mage, whose thirst for knowledge and esoterica knew no bounds; and of course the strong-muscled and even stronger willed druid, Krosar, whose stern face and set gaze betrayed only subtle hints of a hidden barbarian fury — had reached the depths of the massive dungeon, having slaughtered numerous beasts and spent a night’s rest among dragon bones. They had not yet seen sign of the missing villagers, and now found themselves trapped in the final room, where Lia stood over a central altar, Krosar guarded, watching for any new threats and Corin looked after the small iron cage housing a human infant.
Lia eyed the altar before her, where sat, on a flat plane of granite, two spheres: one of bronze and one of brass. Both were perfectly round and polished, reflecting back the shadows that crept at the edges of the massive chamber. Between the two were written these words, in elegant script: “Make wisely thy choice and reveal thus the means of thine escape.” The elf thought for but a moment before reaching for the sphere of brass.
As she did so, three men emerged from the shadows. The three were foul cultists, the likes of which our heroes had dispatched numerous times during their descent through the dungeon. But unlike the feeble combatants so easily bested on the floors above, among these three strode a high priest of Bhaal, god of murder; a man who, much to the surprise of our adventurers, fit perfectly the description of one of the missing townsmen. He was indeed the very man our heroes had come to the dungeon to save — a loving father and faithful husband, as they had heard, who was known as a friend to all and a fine blacksmith to boot. But to our three heroes the truth of his soul was revealed: he was in reality a harbinger of death, a devotee to murder and a man fueled only by the hate of his wretched god.
The dark priest began a long-winded monologue, an epic piece of oratory describing in detail to our heroes the details of his vile plans, his betrayal of his wife and kin and his devotion to Bhaal, a reverence so great that he would sacrifice the life of his own infant son. But our heroes barely listened to his rambling, and the details of his speech have been long since forgotten. For as he spoke, Lia, still standing before the fell altar, continued with her choice, grabbing the sphere of brass. Immediately the whole chamber trembled. From the ceiling a glimmer of daylight descended as a vertical passageway opened to the surface. But as it did, flames erupted from the four corners of the room and began their terrible march towards hero and villain alike.
The cries of battle rose as flame swelled. Krosar, fueled by rage, transformed into the shape of a mighty bear, and snarling with beastial fury, attacked the foul cultists. Lia, caring little for combat, made for a hasty escape — producing a rope and grappling hook from her pack, she threw the hook up through the opening in the ceiling, secured the rope and began the climb to safety. Corin spun spells of flame and death, dispatching one of the cultists, before following Lia up the rope — the draconian also made sure to securely fasten the cage and the infant within to her belt, taking the precious cargo with her as she ascended.
The fire that surrounded them drew close, and as Krosar slew all but the final cultist, he came ever nearer to the blazing inferno. At last it was he and the high priest, locked in a terrible melee. The fire licked at his brown fur, and the massive druid reared back to strike a final blow. But before he could the wizard Corin, still ascending the rope, cast forth a ball of fire and struck down the vile priest of Bhaal, ending forever his pitiful life. Krosar snarled in anger, his ceaseless battlelust and ego bruised by the victory that was stolen right out from under his wet bear nose. But still he had enough sense to reach the dangling rope and escape before the flames all but consumed him.
On the level above, Lia, who was the first to reach the rope’s end, found a chamber full of treasures, which she quickly pocketed, unbeknownst to her fellow adventurers..
The party of brave heroes returned to the small village, and Corin gave the caged infant to its mother, who cried tears of joy and asked what became of her missing husband. Krosar, ever tactless, bluntly stated the man’s betrayal and devotion to the dread-god Bhaal, much to the surprise of the wary village. With a thanks from the mayor and the knowledge of good work done, our three heroes left the village behind to continue their journey to Baldur’s Gate.