The party continued exploring to the east, somewhat shaken by the fight with the sea wights. They now came to an empty room with doors to north and south — except it was not totally empty, as Lune’s superior dark vision could just see the spectral shapes of four figures. They were very transparent, to the point of being nearly invisible, but soon the party could see them (if the light was good and they were focused). They appeared to be spirits or specters of some sort, appearing as well-dressed folk (but unarmed). They were also largely immobile, not reacting except to slowly turn to watch the movements of the party. The party was curious as to them, but took no hostile action as they seemed not hostile themselves. Pandemonious tried using ESP but detected nothing (he also detected nothing to the north, but the barest hint of a weird and terrible evil to the south). No attempts at communication were successful, and the party decided to not have Perudo try turning the things, at least not yet.
At this point, Perudo cast Locate Object to try to located the aspergillum, but without success. After a brief discussion, the party decided to go north and bypass whatever lay to the south. North, they followed and passage briefly, coming to another large room, this one with yet more of the spectral folk, who they realized were following them. With this new larger group, they experimented by sending Lune off alone, to see if the finger drew them, but it apparently did not. They also tried shutting doors on them, but they simply passed through them. As they continued exploring, they shades followed them. As time went on, periodically, additional ones would join the ranks of the following as a sort of eerie rearguard. In one nearby, oddly-shaped room, five narrow vertices were filled with shadows. Jimmy tried throwing a coin in one, which disappeared but could be heard to hit the ground. A short time later, a bright ball of light rushed out of one bit of darkness and into another. He then tried tossing coins in other dark areas, and used his spear to fish them back out. It was all quite odd and inexplicable, and they decided to push on.
Nearby they ran into a room with four Ghouls feasting on a corpse (it was apparently a dead peasant or slave, not well dressed like the shades). Perudo easily turned them and forced into a corner, allowing the party to examine the room. An alcove led to a shaft up into darkness and, given the blood stains and chips in the floor below it, the party took to be a garbage chute or disposal pit with the ghouls as clean up. Rather than fight and slay the ghouls, and thus upset whatever system as in place, they left them and closed the door behind them; the ghouls seemed content to return to their grim feast.
The party now came to a natural cave through which flowed a river, likely the same one they’d followed up from the beach. Following it, they found a side cave across it that seemed to have once been the river’s natural course, but had been dammed off to reroute the flow. The party decided to take a look down this passage and decided to leap across the river, it being only 6-8 feet wide. All went well until Jimmy made his jump and, despite his tremendous dexterity and what looked like a (barely) adequate landing, slipped on something and fell into the stream and was swept away. He tried to stab his spear into the bed to anchor himself, only to jar it from his hands and lose it to the current. Perudo, though, was able to toss him a rope and by good fortune Jimmy managed to grab it. Drenched in cold (but fresh) water, he retrieved his recently acquired spear from his bag of holding to replace the one he just lost (one of those pretty funny sequences at the time, thanks to Dexter’s masterful invocation of Joe dice rolls). Interestingly, the shades or ghosts did not cross with the party, but congregated and paralleled them on the opposite bank.
Trying the old river bed cave, they came to a sharp, 25′ drop off. below was a larger cavern with a large pool of water and a stronger than usual briny smell. The water was not still and they theorized that this was a pool of seawater connected by flooded tunnel to the sea (and thus the drowned zombies they’d encountered earlier). Jimmy had himself lowered by rope to the cavern below, as he wished to check for secret doors along the west wall (facing the beach) to check for sentries or spy positions that might spot their hidden boat. The others remained atop the cliff, with the rope left in place. As Jimmy searched, he was disturbed by a loud splash behind him. A very large, birdlike thing had dropped from a previously unseen hole in the roof of the cave into the water. It leapt from there at Jimmy, a 6′ tall, very broad thing that resembled a mix of pelican and man. Jimmy fled back to the cliff face and set his spear as the thing leapt at him, and he took it squarely. However, the thing was very powerful, and tore at him. So, Jimmy tossed his spear up to the party and then began to climb up as fast as he could, though he was mauled somewhat when he turned his back on the monster. The rest of the party helped haul him up or shot missiles at the thing, as two more also dropped into the cave below.
Three of the things were gathered below as the party began to heard heavy footsteps coming towards them from behind. Pandemonius took position to lightning bolt anything coming from behind, just as two of the bird things leapt the full 25′ and landed amidst the party. A melee ensued (the third and wounded bird thing did not join in). And though the footsteps were heard constantly, they never seemed to actually arrive, and the party soon realized it was an illusion of some sort. The bird things, meanwhile, proved very tough in combat, and Jimmy in particular was mauled significantly. Worse, several of the hits seemed to drain his strength, making him very weak by the time the fight was done. but the two things were at last slain (simultaneously, by magic missiles from Pandemonious).
Somewhat shaken, the party decided to backtrack – with creatures like this guarding the seaward approaches, it was unlikely there was any other sentry or observer on the beach. Backtracking, they rejoined their waiting shades and continued exploring, periodically gaining a few more shades. Eventually, one of the shades “attacked” Perudo. This happened a few times and, most of the time, the cleric realized that one of his memorized spells was lost, while the attacking Shade vanished. This later happened to Pandemonious, as well. Perudo and Wulfric tried turning them at one point, but with no effect.
One room nearby was found to contain a large bronze or brass statue, badly crusted with verdigris. The party speculated that it might be a very old golem of some sort, and decided to leave it be. Further on, they found a secret room that contained two large chests, and both of those contained a sizable treasure, clearly very old and long forgotten. There were numerous magic items here, as well, including a few of unidentified nature. This room, they decided, would be a good one to rest in, and they settled in for the night, finally getting a good night sleep after one last attack by one of their ever present shades.
– Experience: 8470 XP each!