Kwinsea (Aquamancer 4), with familiar Hermes
Chaff (Vivimancer 4), familiar Pretty Bird, and riding hound Stinky Dog
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Torak (Cleric 4)
Beuford Bumbletoes (Halfling 1)
Although their original attempts to form an alliance of convenience with their Eld captive wasn't successful, Chaff was determined to try once more. This time he tried grovelling and debasing himself (and his companions) before the "all powerful, and clearly superior to us unintelligent man-apes, super-being Eld". This seemed to work better than threats, and the Eld (whose name was Under-Commandant Xolt) accepted the party into his service as they tried to wrest control of the vessel from the ghuls. Xolt agreed to lead them to the control center for the barge, which lay in the tallest tower at the stern of the vessel. When questioned about the barge, Xolt snootily informed them that the barge was capable of inter-dimensional travel. There were also some heated words about the Eld Overmind, and the seeming lack of effort on it's part to recover the barge by sending enough Eld to do so. Xolt made it very clear that the Overmind knew exactly what it was doing, the sure brainless man-monkeys as the party could not possibly understand such higher functioning intelligence.
Once inside, Xolt took up a strategic position in the rear of the party and directed them to the side of the barge they had not explored ("Typical brainless vat-fuel. Not an intelligent thought among them!") He led them to a regular ebony door, which Abdul opened to reveal a very strange room on the other side. The walls and ceiling were lined with sacs made of a veined, flesh like material. He didn't like the look of that, so the fighter grabbed the glass ball from the weapon tower and tossed it inside. It burst into a fireball, and started to burn and crisp the sacs. "You fool!!" shouted Xolt. "You'll destroy the barge! Put it out! put it out!". A little hesitant at first, the party did rush in to put out the flames, and then to cut open some of the undamaged sacks. Out of them poured blood, gore and soft pinkish skeletons. More ominously was the sound of Xolt, who'd remained in the corridor outside, locking them in the room. Moments latter, a side door burst open and a half dozen ghuls charged in. These were cut down with sword and the last charge on Chaff's paralyzation wand. That complete, the party continued to cut down sacs, while Chaff checked the other two doors exiting the room. These led into nearly identical rooms with all surfaces covered in some sort of black, tarry substance. In one of the rooms, however, the light from Chaff's coin could penetrate no more than a few inches.
He couldn't look for long, however, as they were once again attacked by a half dozen ghuls. Swords and axes swung, spells flew, and the six were defeated. Only to be replaced by three more who had to be cut down, then two more after that! They ghuls were being drawn on the party likes bees to honey! In between assaults, Abdul el Abdul kicked down the locked door, only to find the Under-Commandant was long gone. But at least the onslaught of ghuls seemed to be done now, and the last of the sacs were cut down and destroyed. The party was much battered and bruised, but decided to push on to the last tower anyway, hoping to gain control of the barge. Heading out the door through which the ghuls had come, the party passed down a corridor and through a few valve doors along the way. As they passed though one door, Abdul el Abdul noticed the door ahead just closing. The party charged into the room, but found it apparently empty, except for the long pinkish divans along the wall and expensive rugs on the floor. However, as they pushed on across the room, they were surprised by a half-dozen more ghuls who'd been siting near invisible on the divans. Another desperate fight ensued, with Beuford falling dead to the ghuls axes and everyone else battered to within an inch of their lives. But still the party moved on.
Pushing through the next door, they found themselves at last at the base of the stern tower. It had the same metal mesh stairs going up. The center shaft was not open, but filled with a humming metal core. Taking it a bit more stealthy this time, Torak put on his ring of invisibility and took point up the stairs, the rest of the party following his lead. As the top of the stairs came in view, the cleric was greeted by an imposing sight. A 14' tall four-armed ape stood in the doorway, next to a pile of wooden barrels. It did not see Torak, but when the rest of the party rounded the turn, the ape picked up a barrel and hurled it down the stairs. Torak jumped out of the way, but the rest of the party was knocked off their feet and tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. More attempts to climb lead to more barrels and tumbling, until Chaff summoned the ebony fly and started to attack the ape from above the stairs with pistol fire. The apes aim wasn't good when trying to a flying object, and after some time the great beast fell dead in the doorway. At that, the rest of the battered party rushed up the stairs behind the flying Chaff, and burst into the room at the top of the tower.
There, against a backdrop of a weird wired throne and black flat panel displays, stood their erstwhile ally Under-Commandant Xolt and a second Eld, Major Xhom. With insults flying, the two tore into the party, and very quickly Kwinsea, Abdul el Abdul and Torak were all dead on the deck. Only Chaff escaped the slim sword and vibrating axe of the Eld pair, as he flew out of their reach and bombarded the two with oil and fire. The Eld endured this for a while, cursing the vivimancer, before turning and retreating down the stairs. Chaff followed, and continued to bombard the two (who were slowed by a rope Kwinsea had tied on the exit door when they'd come through the first time). The Eld managed to get it open though, leaving Chaff flying on the other side, trying to figure out what to do next . . .
16 translucent pink ghuls
1 four-armed giant ape
Abdul el Abdul