After a night spent in the kitchen recuperating, the group headed back down to the room where they had encountered the giant hell slug. Three doors presented themselves. With nothing to go on, they headed to their right.
Their progress was almost immediately halted by a 30 foot circle of runes, in the middle of which bobbed two large flames. There was no way around the circle. Knarra quickly scanned the runes and informed that party that it was a magical barrier that lawful creatures would be unable to pass. The creatures within were fire elementals.
Nigel approached the rune circle, and for no discernible reason began to yell and berate the fire elementals. They bobbed away from him, seemingly intimidated.
Exasperated by Nigel’s antics, the rest of the group pulled him back the way they had come to try another passageway.
They took the center door from the previous chamber this time, and found a set of stairs leading down to yet another hallway. The hall branched, but they kept to the straightaway, and eventually came upon a room with two pillars, one at each end. One depicted another of the women wielding a ranseur; the other showed men holding pieces of the Shattered Star.
Curious, Queck laid a hand on the pillar featuring the woman. As she touched it, she felt a thrill of strength travel up her arm. Excited, she ran to the other pillar and slapped her hand onto it. She immediately felt the extra strength drain from her. With a yell of frustration she went back to the first pillar and tried again, but nothing happened. The others touched the first pillar and felt that same strength. They were smart enough not to try what Queck had, and left the other pillar alone.
Finding nothing else in the room, the party moved on down the hall, and they eventually came to another set of stairs, one going up, one down. They headed up, and came to a room occupied by two skeletons. Surprised, the party drew their weapons and moved in.
Kevin and Queck were first to the skeletons, but couldn’t seem to do any damage. With a roar, Thark ran forward and smashed one of the skeletons into powder. Lester fired an arrow at the remaining skeleton, but it glanced harmlessly off the creatures collarbone. Knarra followed up with an acid dart, but it again found no purchase on the bone. Kenzo, seeing there was nothing for it, let fly with a flurry of blows that broke the skeleton to pieces.
Their enemies dispatched, the party searched the room. Finding nothing, they headed back down the stairs. They came to another long hallway, at the end of which stood a door. As stout as it seemed, Thark kicked it open easily, revealing more skeletons.
Thark smashed the first one through the door, as Knarra quickly summoned a dire rat to join the fight.
Queck and Kevin darted forward, and the axebeak managed to nip one of the skeletons in the ulna. Lester and Nigel fired arrows from the fringes, but again they did no damage. Kenzo unleashed a powerful attack that pummeled one of the skeletons into the ground. Thark turned and dealt with the final skeleton, shattering its bones with his club.
The skeletons dead, they paused to take stock. The room they were in was crusted with salt and smelled of the ocean. They knew they were far below sea level at this point, and the fact that it seemed like sea water had permeated the room recently was worrisome.
There was another door at the other end of the room, which Thark forced open with Lester’s help. It opened to a small room, with a door on one side and stairs leading down. They were covered in water, but with some sort of magical barrier at the very top. Knarra informed them that the barrier was there to keep the water from flooding the room, but that solids could easily pass through it. Queck experimented and put her hand through the barrier. It passed through easily enough, into the cold water beyond.
Seeing no reason to interfere with the magic that kept them from drowning, they turned their attention to the other door. As they approached, they heard wailing from the other side. Some creature must be trapped! Thark forced the door open, and the party stumbled through to a tiny chamber.
The walls were covered in ichor and what looked like crude finger paintings. The artist sat before them, resembling a large slug made of poop. He continued to wail as they approached him.
Knarra spoke to him in some language the rest couldn’t understand, but which the creature obviously could. He stopped wailing to respond. Knarra translated that he was hiding in the room from “bullies”. He offered them treasure if they could kill the bullies, who were apparently like him, but, well, mean.
Not wanting to upset him further, the party promised to do what they could, and left him alone in his room, carefully shutting the door behind them. They returned to the hall and continued on.
The hall widened eventually, leading to a room with yet another statue of a woman with a ranseur. As Queck stepped into the room, smoke started to drip from the blade of the ranseur. Disconcerted, Queck backed up, into the hallway. Knarra determined that the magic producing the smoke was of evocation, and possessed raw destructive power.
Lester and Kenzo approached the statue as smoke continued to ooze from it. As they moved closer to the statue, the smoke stopped, and a fireball erupted from the ranseur, engulfing both of them in flames. They staggered back, both of them badly scorched. The rest of the party rushed forward, concerned, and smoke again began flowing from the ranseur. Stepping into the room must trigger the fireball mechanism! And the smoke was the warning!
As soon as they realized this, they scrambled to get to the other end of the room. A second fireball exploded, again catching Nigel in its blast. The others had made it safely across in time, and Lester dashed back, grabbed Nigel, and pulled him back to the entrance to the room. He hastily cast cure light wounds on his companion, then stepped into the room and back out to trigger the fireball. Several seconds passed, and then again, a fireball erupted. Lester and Nigel immediately ran across the room to the far side where the rest of the party waited.
Shaken by their brush with such deadly magic, the party moved on cautiously. They came to a large room covered in murals that seemed to have been a laboratory at one point. There was nothing left but old and rusting tools. They passed through a door at the far end, which lead to another hall and two doors. They took the hall.
It eventually led them to another door beyond which the passage continued, but in such twists and turns that they couldn’t see very far ahead. The walls of the passage were covered in massive metal plates inscribed with runes. Knarra studied them for a few minutes before explaining to the group that the entire passage, turning around on itself, was a focus for planar energy from hell. As she spoke, they could hear scratching and growling coming from somewhere in the center of the twisting passage.
Knarra elaborated, saying that if they managed to destroy ten of the plates, then they would deactivate the entire thing. Everyone immediately started to pry at the metal plates, but they were stuck fast to the wall, and incredibly thick. Thark began bashing a plate with his club. After several minutes of concerted smashing, the plate cracked and fell off the wall with a resounding clang. The rest of the party encouraged him to keep smashing, so he turned his attention to a second, and when that cracked, a third. As the third plate buckled under his club, there was a flash of light, and a creature manifested itself in the hall.
It was a poop slug, like the poor creature who had been holed up in a room. This must be one of his bullies. It was accompanied by some sort of demonic dog, growling and slavering. The entire party turned on the creatures.
Queck and Kevin darted in for a quick attack as Knarra cast magic missile at the poop slug. Lester fired two rapid shots from his bow, as Kenzo moved in to punch it in its slimy face.
The dog slunk around the party and went for Nigel, landing a bite on his leg. Thark roared, hefted his club, and smashed it with all his might into the poop slug, reducing it to a smelly ooze.
Lester turned his arrows on the hell dog. He made one shot, and as the arrow pierced the dog’s hide, it burst into flames. Kenzo and Nigel rounded on the creature. The dog turned towards them and opened its mouth, letting out a blast of fire. Never one to stand by while his friends are incinerated, Thark unceremoniously clubbed the dog in the skull, crushing it.
Demon dogs and poop slugs dealt with, Thark returned to smashing the metal plates. As he worked on destroying a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth plate, Kenzo wound up and punched at a seventh, eventually denting it beyond repair. Kenzo and Thark trade blows on an eighth, then ninth, then tenth plate.
As the final plate cracked and sagged from the wall, there came a distant rumble from the center of the labyrinth. It built for a moment, and then subsided into quiet. Knarra informed them the magic aura had shifted; they had successfully destroyed the rift siphon.
They continued down the twisting passage, but found nothing of interest. They eventually came to the exit, but it was blocked by a portcullis, and the winch to open it was on the other side.
Thark tried to lift the portcullis, but it was too heavy. Knarra cast prestidigitation and attempted to move the lever, but her magic didn’t have enough dexterity. They spent several minutes ineffectually shooting and throwing things at the lever in an attempt to trip the winch, and finally, Lester made his shot. The lever shifted, and the portcullis raised.
On the other side they find nothing but a skeleton that had been draped over the winch. He wore old, rusty half plate. Lester, ever resourceful, cast a quick mend spell and thus became the owner of a new set of masterwork armor.