After Tidingston and myself had successfully knocked out and tied up the guards the wizard Soma arrived and informed us that yes, our party members had in fact gotten into trouble. It turns out that sending Meda to assassinate Foechuckle was not the best plan, by which I mean the entire operation had been botched and they had killed three guards and seriously wounded Foechuckle who had taken refuge behind a wall of chains. Normally a wall of chains is not a particularly tough obstacle, especially compared to a stone wall. (Although considering we have a treant in the party walls in general aren't so much obstacles as minor inconveniences, as Grovetender had proven on Foechuckle's house.) However, when it turns out the person you're trying to kill is a chain devil and can manipulate those chains into a fifteen-foot long razor sharp whip of spikey death, then it becomes a bad day for everyone. Especially for the giant frog that Soma summoned, I'm still cleaning bits of blood out of my hair from that one. Anyway, with the wall of chains we were sort of stuck with just chucking things at him hoping they'd hit, and Meda eventually took him down with her longbow.
The entire reason we had decided to assassinate Foechuckle was because we had been lead to believe he had the artifact we'd been sent down here to find. Well, all right, I was in favor of killing him because he was an asshole, but loot is always a bonus. Unfortunately for us all we found were some odds and ends and a locked drawer in Foechuckle's desk. Which I of course broke open and which proved to be filled with paperwork including a note that said the artifact we wanted was with Tallcrippler the gatekeeper. In my frustration and rage I set Foechuckle's chair on fire and left it burning merrily in the middle of his office. Now, keep in mind by this point we have wrecked a good portion of Foechuckle's house, have killed not only him but three other people, have very obviously broken into his desk in search for valuables, and set everything on fire. It seemed we were well and truly boned, but Tidingston, silver tongued genius that he is, decided to try and salvage the situation. Out of a feeling of companionship I decided to go with him in case his words proved inadequate and swords might be more useful. Soma, having decided he'd had enough excitement for one night and was completely out of spells, decided to run away and hide.
I think the trick to telling lies is you have to tell one so big or so unlikely that everyone has no choice but to accept that it's the truth. At least that seems to be Tidingston's school of thought. When we reached the center of town Tidingston gathered a number of workers and a couple of guards to reveal that Foechuckle had been releasing poisons in the cavern that not only caused the bleaching but also weakened the gnomes to make them unable to finish the wall, so that he might lord over them as a petty tyrant for eternity. Somehow the gnomes actually bought it and a few suggested they go confront Foechuckle themselves. Tidingston then interjected that upon our own discovery of this subterfuge we went directly to his house to confront Foechuckle who then attacked us and we were left with no choice but to defend ourselves and ultimately had to kill him. At this point I helpfully added that there was a terrible struggle inside his house which smashed much of the furniture and because Foechuckle was a devil he tried to kill us with fireballs which was responsible for the fire that I had personally left merrily raging. Again, the audacity of the lie somehow added legitimacy and the gnomes accepted that, as well as our recommendation that Palaveen, the cleric, be their new leader.
Now, normally I would not leave Palaveen in charge of anything, much less the town of No Fun as we've begun to call this hellhole. Fortunately for us he seems interested merely in getting the pointless wall finished so the gnomes will be free of the contract and able to go somewhere else. I may disagree with his methods, as he's making everyone work overtime to get the dam thing done, but I can at least understand the sentiment. Palaveen also told us that Tallcrippler the gatekeeper has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Considering the gnomes have been down here for four centuries and they're on at least the fifth generation working on the wall, the fact that Tallcrippler is mysteriously older than everyone else does not bode particularly well. Soma was in favor of sneaking back to the surface past Tallcrippler, letting the Pathfinder Guild know we found their precious artifact, and then let them go through the effort of killing him for it. We concluded this was a rather good plan and wished Soma luck on is journey, fully never expecting to see him again. Imagine our surprise when fifteen minutes later Soma returned to inform us that Tallcrippler had seen through multiple levels of illusions and had turned Soma around back into the settlement. The wall should be finished soon, but I get the feeling if we ever want to get out of here we're going to have to kill Tallcrippler ourselves. Which is a shame because the bodies are really starting to pile up.