With Drogo missing, the party decided to rest a night before beginning a search for him. Additionally, they took the opportunity for Rowan to check if Adoward was evil both before and after now nightly vanishing, though there seemed no change. So, after some healing and other preparation next morning, the party decided to begin their explorations to the east.
They first explored a room they’d peeked into before. Once again, it was empty. They first checked a door to the south to find a dead end hall of some sort (Parker did not sense any secret doors). Then, taking a passage further east, they came into a room where they found a human fight, sword drawn, with ten or so Bugbears with him. They were clearly waiting for the party, and the human had a hand raised for parley. This the party accepted. He claimed that he was aware of the party and their explorations. He had no desire for a fight, however, and wished for a truce to avoid any trouble. Parker, listening carefully, informed the party that she could hear other movements nearby – likely reinforcements if the parley went badly. When asked, the fighter told the party that he’d heard that a lone dwarf had wandered through this level a few weeks prior, but he did not personally see him or know what became of him. He answered Havok that his name was Willem, though he seemed somewhat hesitant to give it. The room they’d first come through was a choke point and there were no other ways in or out of his section. The teleporters were random in nature, though they could be avoided if one hugged the walls to avoid setting them off.
To seal the deal, Willem gave the party a sack handed to him by one of the Bugbears, clearly having it ready just for this. It contained 200 gold coins. Pleased, the party promised to leave him alone and avoid his followers. As they departed, Arduin volunteered to loiter behind a ways to ensure they were not followed; he rejoined them a few minutes later and said all was well.
The party now turned to the south and, as they entered a room, they heard the sound of flapping wings nearby but saw nothing.They did, however, find a secret door that led to a passage and another secret door, connecting two rooms. They were now near the teleporter they’d first run across and that presumably Drogo had went through, as well. The party speculated that the rotating Beholder statue nearby might determine direction of teleportation, but they had no real way to test this. As this was considered, the party was suddenly attacked by a Rust Monster. Lune rushed forward to use his hands to fight it, while Aldeberon drew his staff. It did not take long to slay however; it ran, but was shot down by Adoward.
The party now passed back through the Beholder room to the west, turning south a ways further to continue explorations in that direction, making occasional noise to alert Drogo of their presence should he be near (and risking much greater frequency of encounters with wandering monsters). They found a staircase up (and, a little later, one down). They also entered a room where they surprised a large number of the toad monsters they’d fought before. The party considered avoiding this fight for a moment, wondering if their pact with the Bird-thing applied, but attacked nonetheless. A sleep spell from Goody dropped ten immediately, as Havok incited bloodlust in some of the fighters to improve their fighting skill. The party pushed into the large room, a smelly lair of these things. The toad men began to drop quickly, inflicting only relatively minor wounds thanks to the fact they were caught off guard. However, as the party prepared to finish them off, two old women came from the two doors on the opposite side of the room. One was hit with an arrow almost immediately, disrupting a spell she was casting, but Adoward and Rowan were both hit with a hold person spell that took them out of the fight. Worse, one of the witches then threw a wide-fronted lightning bolt into the melee, killing most of her own surviving folk but devastating the party. Adoward went down unconscious, but the witches soon followed as most of the party rushed them to prevent further spells.
The witches slain, the party now commenced to plunder (after an aid spell by Havok for Adoward). Parker managed to safely disable a number of traps she found, while Havok dispelled magic on another. This done, the party found they had amassed over a score of potions, though many were poison. Several other items were also found, as well as a sum of gold and other wealth. Pleased (but somewhat weakened) the party continued exploring, at one point trying a locate object on Drogo in the hopes of finding him, but without success.
They now came to a wide hall leading to a door. Parker, scouting, immediately fell into a pit trap and was knocked unconscious by the sudden fall. Lune recovered her, but she was in bad shape and incapable of fighting or even walking much without a long rest. The party now proceeded very warily, finding three more pit traps. There was some talk of examining these, but the door was tried first. Beyond was a large room with a free-standing, sheet mirror on the far side. As the party approached, led by Lune, it seemed to melt and flowed into a vaguely two-dimensional human shape that lashed out at the half-orc. Havok now threw a hold person at the thing, but the spell bounced back and paralyzed him instead. It also proved to be fairly strong in melee but, what was worse, after a moment a false Lune appeared and began attacking the real Lune. When this happened, the party opted for a full retreat, grabbing their wounded and held and fleeing the room. They were not pursued. Briefly, they considered opening the door and attacking from range, but decided it would be better to rest and recover their many wounds first.
They made their way back towards the secret corridor they’d discovered earlier, having decided that their previous camp was now known by Willem and thus best avoided. They ran into a pair of Bugbears en route, who seemed almost afraid of the party, not the usual bravado of these creatures. The party let them pass, which they did so almost cringingly. They made a note to maybe ESP one later to see what they were up to.
The party then reached the secret corridor and prepared to rest another night, though Adoward was hardly looking forward to it. As for Drogo, they’d seen no sign whatsoever…
– Experience: 2537 XP each (except poor Drogo gets zero)