The party passed a night in their secret room camp uneventfully. Next morning, because Iban was still recovering from his wounds, the party decided to leave him behind. He thought to use the Horn of Valhalla in case of danger, but Rowan insisted on taking it with the party, as they were far more likely to need it in the dungeon. He reasoned that their secret room was safe enough, though Aldeberon noted that they’d not been using it that long so not to get too complacent about it. In the end, Iban handed over the horn, but Arduin volunteered to remain behind as a guard, provided the party cast invisibility on him (he reasoned that he could escape with the invisible Iban if something happened and that he wasn’t going to be as useful in a dungeon as he would be on the surface). Additionally, Rowan handed over the extra magic broadsword (Broadsword +1) he’d been carrying to Goody
This arranged, the reduced party set out to explore to the north. Passing through the small mazy area, they soon found a secret door at the end of a dead-end passage. Sadly, whatever treasure in the room was long gone; inside a broken chest they found a note saying simply “Jamal is Master.” Continuing north, they entered a large, irregular room with multiple doors entering onto it. Moments later, a strange, icy wind swirled through the room from every direction at once. This was followed by a strange wail of hate, also from no discernible direction. Moments later, a horde of wraith-like little creatures came at the party through each of the four doors in the room; literally through the doors, as none of them opened. Each looked like some sort of four foot-high goblin-like creature, like some incorporeal, misshapen human. Havok managed to attempt a turn, but the wraith-like creatures paid him no heed and rushed at the party – and then right through them, passing through their bodies with a slight chill and evil feeling but no other apparent effect. The little wraith things danced about for a minute, keening in hate, then just as suddenly rushed back through the doors to their original rooms.
Somewhat disturbed, the party began to check the four doors; Rowan could detect a low level evil throughout the area. Each door opened to a small room and each room contained a pile of mostly skeletal remains, all obviously quite old and dusty. The skeletons appeared human-like, but twisted and misshapen. Each had clearly been torn to pieces or otherwise slain cruelly. Anything of value had clearly long been plundered.
The party continued on to the north, though at one point Drogo scouting ahead hit a pit trap and fell ten feet into a room below the passage. The room opened to the east. Recovering the Halfling scout, the party continued north, discovering a number of passages that they soon realized connected to previously explored areas. Up[ one passage they came to a slot that led up a short stairs to a higher elevation room, and several Minotaurs; this room they fled and were not pursued. It appeared to be the same Minotaur room previously discovered but from a different direction. They chose a different path.
One way not previously explored was down a short, 10′ staircase to the south that led to a larger room across which ran a stone bridge connecting entrances back up at the elevation of the main level; another staircase climbed at the far end of the room. Rowan now tried boosting Drogo up the bridge, but as he did so, hairy arms with great claws reached out from a recess under the bridge and attacked. Drogo made it to the bridge (still invisible) as a great monkey-like creature leapt at Rowan and the party, screeching as it did so; a second one followed, also dropping from under the bridge where it apparently lay in wait to attack the unsuspecting. Adoward said that these were the same creatures that had nearly slain him a few weeks prior when he fell through a deep pit trap from the level above.
The monkey-like creatures were armed only with claws and teeth, but were immensely strong and fast. A brief melee ensued but, before the two things could be slain, Drogo heard doors and rapidly approaching footsteps and more screeching. He alerted the party and made sure he got out of the way. The two original monsters then suddenly leap back to the bridge and clambered out of the room as three more came in. From the opposite direction, Drogo now heard more noise and, fleeing from the bridge, rejoined the party as they fell back to the stairs out of the room. They managed to slay one of the monkey-things, aided by a backstab from Parker and a magic missile from Goody, as more arrived, but decided that retreat was a better option. The monsters did not pursue them.
Somewhat chastened, the party decided to retreat to rest and recover, hoping that Iban would be back with them if they returned. Thus, they retraced their steps and returned to their secret room without incident, only to find it empty (which was to be expected, since they left invisible people behind). Happily, Drogo’s fear that they’d find Iban with his throat cut and Arduin gone did not happen; the former was sleeping and the latter remained awake and watchful.
After another night of uneventful rest, Iban felt good enough to fight, and the full party now departed back to the area they’d previously been exploring. This time, however, they opted to take the path to the Minotaurs – and discovered that there were none in the room. The room was elevated about 10 feet above the main level of this part of the dungeon, with stairs down to passages north and east/south; in the center a was a deep pit into blackness, which Rowan thought might be an oubliette containing the missing dwarves. There were two doors, beyond each of which the thieves could hear movement and talking, and Rowan could sense evil.
Seeing an opportunity, Goody cast wizard lock on the southern door, as the lead fighters (backed up by Lune and Rowan with polearms) opened the northern door. Four Minotaurs were within and a fight in the doorway erupted. One of the Minotaurs held a spear and used it much the same was as the party, and in this manner they began to inflict wounds on the party, though the four fighters gave more than they got (except for when Lune accidentally struck Aldeberon; there were a LOT of criticals in this fight, both 1`’s and 20’s). Aldeberon was also soon struck by a Minotaur with such a crushing blow that he was stunned for several minutes and had to be dragged from the line. Havok’s prayer spell proved to be quite helpful, as well.
Meanwhile, the southern door was being battered ceaselessly and, much to the party’s chagrin, was burst open far more quickly than they’d hoped and four more Minotaurs escaped. The rest of the party was now as well positioned as the northern group, and a general melee ensured in the room (sadly, no one got tossed down the pit). And though the fighters were concentrated to the north, those in the south fought most heroically. Parker managed to chop the sword arm of one Minotaur clean off (no mean feat for a shortsword). Drogo also saw that he was needed and managed to backstab one before becoming visible. Though the northern fight was going well, it was all the others could do to hold the southern group off, and it was real knife work for the thieves, Havok, Iban and Arduin. But, in the end, the Minotaurs had nowhere to go and fought to the death. By good fortune, none of the party were slain, though many of them were very sorely wounded (Lune, Adoward, and Goody were particularly hurt).
The Minotaurs did possess a rich treasure, including a good deal of platinum coin and a large shield that appeared to be magical in nature. The party also took the time to examine the pit, which seemed to drop 50′ or so to a room below (but no dwarves). They took the time to hammer a dagger into the stone alone it to tie off a rope and dropped down en masse to explore what was below. They found a large, empty room below, with a few side rooms that were all unremarkable. They also found a secret door to a passage south, beyond which was another room. They retreated to the secret passage and considered staying here for a night to recover, rather than trying to return to their main base…
– Experience: 2536 XP each
– Fun session. That was a long battle and no doubt I missed a lot of detail, but it had a good “desperate rearguard action” feel to it, at least for the mainly non-fighters in the main part of the room.