The party were up against mad cultists and encountering an odd assortment of rather strange characters.
They discovered the elf Bayleaf, a mercenary instructor of arms, chained to a desk writing a letter home requesting he be ransomed. After cutting the leg off of the table to allow the elf to walk with them, they then went looking for the mysterious pale skinned individual who had ducked down some stairs.
Merenk was waiting further down the hallway standing behind the animated corpse of the captain of the cult guards. They parlayed with the necromancer and despite the paladin's distrust and dislike, the party agreed to put aside hostilities and see if Merenk could assist or advise in exchange for safe passage to the mainland.
Merenk, it turns out, was also hired by the cult to shore up defenses by leaving undead "traps" about the island to drive off the pirates and anyone else that might bother them.
With Bayleaf, Merenk, and the zombie in tow, the party decided to take on some more cultists they had been told might be in the ceremonial chamber.
The party wizard did the honors of opening the door to the ceremonial chamber using a fire bolt spell to do what the paladin had failed to achieve, and that is when Merenk's information about a third mercenary came into stark reality.
Merenk mentioned that the cult had hired Silas, an elementalist wizard well versed in fire magic, to train the membership in how to cast powerful fire spells. The success of that training was about to prove very dangerous.
Leznar and his remaining adherents were poised and ready for battle, or so they thought. The party was fast on the attack with only one cultist able to blast a vicious fire spell taking down the wizard.
To the relief of the adventurers the rest of the fight went their way. The wizard was pulled out of harms way and later healed. The party managed to do serious damage to Leznar before he could unleash his spells, hoping to stifle and unholy power he might have in his arsenal. (my very first roll as DM on my new table was a concentration save for the evil high priest - natural 20)
The paladin stormed into the room to engage some of the cultists, while the ranger, and halfling barbarian/sorcerer unleashed ranged attacks at their enemies.
Leznar proved far more resilient than expected as he called forth a roiling mass of smokey black tentacles centered in the hallway and blocking the rest of the party from attacking. Meanwhile the remaining cultists acted to repel the troublesome paladin. (he had slain one cultist, been hit with a fire bolt, and was now dodging - and a cultist, terrible with melee weapons - had to roll with disadvantage when attacking - two rolls, one a natural 20, the disadvantage die was a 19 and a hit.)
Leznar never got off another spell. The ranger managed to fire a perfect arrow through a haze of writhing tentacles, through the doorway, over the raised dais wall, past a shielding cultist, and through Leznar's eye, slaying him outright. (natural 20 plus sharpshooter feat)
Mop-up was easy and resulted in a talkative prisoner, the last member of the cult.
Now the party became very suspicious of the strange company they were with. After rounds of questioning they bound the hands of both Merenk and the cultist. While this was going on, Bayleaf discovered a hidden storage chamber beneath the dais and recovered his personal effects, also showing the party some other valuables.
In the chamber were an arcane scroll, a chest with two old books, the captain's logbook the ranger was seeking, a history tome, and a very expensive looking small bottle containing a dark liquid.
Other loot from the dead cult leader and minions included a necklace of skulls that the paladin confirmed was evil, a single bracer later understood to have something to do with earth magic, either control or resistance (need the pair for definitive identification), and very valuable jewelry.
Moving on, the party opted not to risk going into the tower, understood to be where Silas likely was, and instead to continue with one of their main objectives, finding the holy book Interregnum of the Spirit, the sea priest asked them to recover from the crypts below the abbey.
Merenk confessed that the hallway he had hidden in lead to a false passage and not to the crypts, however there was a second way into the tower at the other end. The last cultist confirmed the fact that it was a false passage, but knew nothing of the secret door.
At sword point, Merenk led the party to the real passage, and to the first crypt. The party had learned from the captured cultist, of a trap of some type they would have to brave if they were to pass from the first crypt to the second.
While in the first crypt a brief search turned up little of any obvious value beyond a tarnished silver goblet.
With a plan in mind, the party opened the door that separated them from the trapped passages that the cultist feared. Endzique the halfling cautiously went forward to scout. He noticed an odd difference to the air - while the crypt was dry and musty, these passages were dry and smelled of earth.
It wasn't long before the trap was discovered. Hidden in beyond a somewhat narrow archway in a chamber between the passages was an animated armored guardian whose attention was now fixed on the diminutive scout. The guardian followed the retreating halfling, but refused to pursue Endzique into the crypt, instead continuing away down the right side passage.
Following the armored trap, the halfling watched as it went deeper into a seeming maze of halls. To try and lure it back, Endzique slung a stone striking the automaton. This only got it to turn it's head completely around to face him as it continued away.