Once the heroes caught their breath, they explored the rest of the house. A back bedroom contained a rotting corpse so foul that Maggie, Nip and Azrak emptied their stomaches and turned green for several minutes.
Once recovered, the group moved downstairs and found an empty tannery room. Hearing a chinking in the neighboring room, Maggie opened a door into a chilled chamber with hanging hooks and slabs of meat. As her eyes adjusted it became clear that the carcasses were skinned humans. And then one of them jumped down. The flayed corpse charged the heroes with black dagger-like claws.
Remy and Nip scampered up the wall readying a strike against the undead foe. Albi charged into their path earning him a pair of ratspeak curses. He also received a fetid slash from the flayed one that continuously oozed leaving the gnom weakened. Maggie tumbled into a flanking position while Remy unleashed a flurry of tiny blades that stripped the profane muscle away until the creature dropped to the floor. (The ratfolk noted that only the foulest necromantic rituals could create such an abomination – this was clearly the work of a erudite and wicked foe.)
The next room was packed with crates and boxes floor to ceiling. Even the ratfolk could not reach the back of the cluttered chamber.
A low moan from the remaining door piqued Maggie’s interest. She opened the door and a found a battered ranger chained to the opposite wall. He weakly lifted his head and croaked, “Watch out! The blades.”
Then a pile of machinery shuddered and stood the size of a draft horse. Five-foot-long blades emerged and started swirling about as it moved toward the doorway. Maggie charged in striking at the construct earning a long slash that continued to bleed.
Meanwhile, the previously battled trio of red caps returned and attempted ambush the party from behind. Expecting treachery, Mal, Lilith and Azrak easily defeated them.
Remy scampered over the debris and tore into the machinery. Metal joints were jammed and hoses sprayed causing the bladed machine to shudder. Remy pushed forward but suffered a scythe slash that nearly dropped him. Albi used the opening to fling a bomb which erupted with a series of explosions resulting a cloud of oily smoke. The machine sputtered and died.
Azrak moved into the choking exhaust and began to free his ranger leader and brother, Jakardros Sovark. His coughing subsided once outside and he explained how his men tried to take back Fort Rannick but were repelled by countless ogres. Then they suffered several casualties in the Sanos Wood despite an expert knowledge of the terrain and usual inhabitants. Lastly, he explained that after being captured he was fed upon by a red cap vampire who was attended by a black-cloaked damphyr. The evil pair mentioned in his hearing something about finding “the next key in Jorgenfist.”
Before leaving the the charnel house, the party found a chest with valuable gear including that belonging to Azrak and Jakardros. One of the fallen red caps also wore a magical broach shaped like a red dragon.