The city of Bannertown lay in a state of near open war. Armies of varying loyalties surrounded the city, though the open war seemed to have subsided. Haerak led his friends though the main gateway, a hefty bribe ensuring they had no trouble from the guards.
Some straightforward investigation led them to learn that the young dwarf Grestmaul had been imprisoned by his enemies, and that he was held by one of the great houses of Bannertown, house Hussard. Haerak was able to secure a meeting with the member of the house in charge of such matters, and the man was amenable to a bargain. He offered Grestmauls freedom, in return for Haerak securing a transfer of two of the prisoners from the prison/vineyard where they are held, a man named Lyle Benedict, and a mad priest known as the Blessed of Breis. Haerak agreed, and set off to find this prison, and free his dead friends son.
The trip to the vineyard was uneventful, though upon arrival, Haerak found the place in disrepair, many of the fields left fallow, though not all. Clearly the prison had fallen upon hard times. Likely the war was to blame, though Haerak and his companions approached with caution, not knowing what to expect. They were met by a guardsman, who ushered them into the wardens office after looking upon their transfer papers. The warden, a handsome, hard looking man, was wrapped up in negotiations with a fat, and rather drunk merchant.
The warden explained that they were desperately short staffed, and that Haerak would have to secure the prisoners release on his own, he provided keys, and sent the Barbarian on his way. Haeraks mind reading cloak could not penetrate the Wardens thoughts, though the merchant seemed to be oddly delighted by a deal he was negotiating, and Haerak sensed a great deal of fear of the prison from the man at arms who led them. Still, Grestmaul was in the depths of the prison, and so it was there that Haerak would go.
The prison elevator was a cleverly devised cage, it sealed perfectly with the stone of the top and the bottom of the prison, and was operated from above only, so without intervention of the guards above, there was no obvious exit to the prison.
Shortly after entering the dungeon, Haerak and his companions learned the reason for the fear of the guard above. The prison had become a place of madness and horror, many of the prisoners were consumed with a terrible insanity, they attacked without reason, tortured and killed each other horribly, forcing Haerak to trap them in their cells. Worse still, the creators of this madness stalked freely, spreading terror and insanity throughout the prison. The horrors were terrible, evil, little creatures called meenlocks, they slipped though the shadows, tearing at the minds of the prisoners, as well as Haerak and his companions as they attempted to navigate the prison, striking from shadow and returning just as quickly. There were still a few among the prisoners with some semblence of sanity. A man from the Phazian empire named Ferinetty gave them some information on what had happened, and begged that they return for him, if they could find a way to open his cell. Fjensir attempted to keep a murderer who had a small vestige of sanity remaining with them, though the man ran at the first opportunity.
Deeper in the prison, they encountered a terrible man, a famed serial killer from Bannertown, chained within his cell. Haerak managed to intimidate the man into giving him the keys to the rest of the cells, as he had managed to secure them in the commotion by killing a guard, but was unable to remove his restraints to make use of them. Haerak threw the man a dagger, telling him that he would not be freed, but that he could end matters and avoid the fate of the horrors of the dark.
The mad priest, the Blessed of Breis seemed blissfully uncaring at the situation in the prison, though even his once powerful mind was likely stressed to the breaking by the mental assault of the creatures. He simply informed the travellers that he would not be leaving the prison unless all of his imprisoned brethren were freed.
Further still they found the warden, partially transformed into one of the hideous creatures. K’larsh put the man out of his misery with one strong blow, angering the creatures, who took this opportunity to attack the intruders who seemed so bent on spoiling their fun. A blast of soul quaking fear hammered into the group, already staggered by the repeated mental assaults of the creatures, they found themselves too terrified to move, trapped and helpless as the little creatures crawled from the dark and set to destroying their minds.
Somehow Haerak, Fjensir and K’larsh were able to weather the assault long enough to recover from the terror, and though Haerak and K’larsh’s minds were little but vortex’s of terror and madness, they grasped their weapons and attacked, ripping the little monsters to pieces before the last of their sanity was lost. In the confusion of the battle, they realized one of the guards from above had joined them against the creatures, now nursing a nasty headwound. He identified himself as none other than Lyle Benedict, and gave Haerak and his companions an abbreviated version of what had happened.
With the keys, and a respite from the horrific monsters, they hastily freed the surviving prisoners, knocking out those who had fallen victim to the madness of the prison, and acquiring the assistance of those who still had sense to help drag the unconscious.
One of the prisoners, a one legged man named Teriam Trust, was a skilled hand with lockpicks, which he recovered from his wooden leg, long since confiscated by the guards. He was able to open the locks to the wine production area, and from there, they found a second elevator, and made their escape from the madness and horror of the prison.
Though his mind was nearly shattered, Haerak and K’larsh sought vengeance against the warden, now identified as a rogue named Rook. Enlarged by K’larsh’s magic, they burst into the main building and cut down Rooks guardsmen. Rook himself fled when he realized the battle was lost. His men bought him a few moments, but he could not make it far, Fjensir tackled him, and before long Haerak and K’larsh were upon him, their enormous forms making escape near impossible.
Rook threw himself upon their mercy staying Haeraks blade, and K’larsh’s claws. He explained that the merchant was set to buy the bulk of the estates wine, and that he would cut Haerak in for half of the take if he helped maintain the illusion that Rook had built with the wine merchants.