The party continued their explorations, now to the northwest, to examine some previously unexplored areas and to hopefully find the edges of the level. While they walked on, in one area their lights grew dim, and even Lune’s strange nightvision was affected. Fortunately, this effect did not last long (and as did not seemed tied to a specific area but moved with them). Further on, they came to an empty octagonal room. As they moved through it towards a door opposite them, six Shadows came from the six walls without doors. The party quickly made a circle to repel the attack, while Perudo tried to turn them (it should have worked, but the Shadows seemed to shrug off his efforts). Fortunately, the Shadows did not do much damage, though Perudo, Jimmy and Ash were all weakened by their chill touch. But, even as the party started to gain the upper hand on them, two more stepped from different wall surfaces. Letholdus counseled a retreat, but Lune and Jimmy urged the party to push through to the opposite door while they seemed to have the upper hand, albeit only for the moment (all feared more Shadows would appear). They decided to push ahead, cutting down a few of the Shadows to do so.
Letholdus kicked in the door and the party noted that another octagonal room was beyond, this one filled with strange shadows, and one great Shadow creature that came forth. This one seemed to emanate some degree of menace, and Ash began peppering it with magic missiles (now slightly attenuated in effect by his possession of the Stone of Wrath). The greater Shadow was clearly a good deal stronger than the others, and proved a tough foe. It’s touch strongly affected Perudo and Letholdus, though both shrugged off the terrible draining of their strength by it. Finally, the thing seemed to cast a spell, of sorts, summoning a plane of or window of blackest shadow through which it fled; as it did so, two more Shadows stepped from the walls again, but they simply rushed into the same window to flee, though one was cut down by the party as it fled. The shadow window remained in the air for a few minutes before fading and disappearing. Likewise, the other shadows in the next room also faded, leaving a simple, stone room. however, it was filled with a variety of strange items. These were later identified as a Shadow Window, a Wand of Shadows, a Candle of Past Shadows, and a number of other minor items and coinage. The party was most pleased and decided to continue, backtracking and trying new paths to the south.
In a sunken area some 15′ below the main dungeon level they found a temple to another devil. This one was filled with a white mist and was quite cold. Jimmy, rather abruptly entered despite the misgivings of the rest of the party. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened. Atop a low dais were two coffers or stone urns from which burned a strange white fire, intensely cold and the source of the mist. at the back of the dais was a bas relief of some great devil, with a snaky lower half and holding forth a great horn; the mouthpiece of the horn stood forth, as if ready to be blown. Nobody in the party though it wise to try blowing the horn, so Jimmy contented himself with using it for a latrine break. Also found in this area was a room probably containing Lemures (based on the “squishy” sounds in it), which the party avoided. another corridor smelled of sulfur and was warm, which the party had encountered before.
Further south, the party came to a series of parallel alcoves down a long passage. They decided to search them all in sequence for secret doors but, before they found one, were attacked by one of the green-scaled devil. The thing had only seen Ash (the others being inside the alcove). the magic-user cast invisibility before it reached him and the others jumped it, Jimmy doing a backstab. It was quickly slain and the Aspergillum of the Blood of Kings used to send it back to Hell for good. Shortly thereafter, the party discovered a huge trove of treasure in a secret room, capping off the most profitable day of exploring they had had in recent memory. Pleased, and a little weak from previous wounds, they decided to return to the lemonade room and rest for several days, which would also allow Perudo to identify the many items of unknown property that they had discovered.
After three days of rest, and much lemonade and cookies from their hostess (and with no more strange events like had occurred with the wererats previously), the party decided to forgo exploring the loose ends of this level and proceed deeper, using the closer of two staircases not far to the north of where they were now. Moving down some 30 feet or so, they came to a large room where every space of wall and ceiling was carved with a leering devil face. From time to time, some would seem to have a spark of life in the eyes, but nothing untoward happened. Continuing on, they found a passage with two doors. The one at the west end of the passage led into a very large space with a high ceiling, but a 15′ high block of stone in the middle, like a building in a larger room; all was of light blue and white marble, and was lit from glowing lights atop the central area. But, behind the other door, Jimmy had heard some mumbling as if praying. they decided to go there before continuing on, lest they leave a threat behind them.
Outside the door, Ash cast ESP to learn more and determined that the single person beyond was deeply engaged in praying to the Arch-devil, Mephistopheles. That was enough for the party, who burst in on the praying devil-worshipper and attacked. Though surprised, he recovered quickly and hit the party with Hold Person, freezing Jimmy and Letholdus in their tracks. Ash moved to dispel magic on Letholdus (successfully) while the rest of the party continued to attack the evil priest. all seemed to be going well, despite some bad luck in melee, when the priest invoked Mephistopheles, following which a pair of Horned Devils appeared. These creatures proved to be very difficult to hit (though they were hit repeatedly at first, a little later they seemed almost untouchable). Worse, the wounds inflicted by their barbed tails caused wounds that would not close. Though Letholdus had come back tot he fight, with Jimmy paralyzed the party was hard pressed in the fight, and the Cleric had refreshed himself with a potion of some sort. And then, disaster struck, as the evil cleric was able to call down a flame strike on most of the party. Ash was immolated instantly, the magic missiles he was casting simultaneously striking the cleric. The others were also in terrible condition after this, with only Letholdus in passable shape, having been outside of the flames. Lune and Perudo had to retreat to prevent passing out from blood loss, leaving Letholdus to fight alone. Fortunately, Ash’s dying spell had weakened the cleric, and he was slain moments after. It was a terrible fight, but in the end Letholdus won the day. but the price was very high. Ash was…ashes. Lune and Perudo were extremely weak. And Letholdus had countless wounds from the devils. Even Jimmy, who was hors d’combat throughout was hurt from the fire. Worse, much of Ash’s magic items were destroyed (but not all, including, unaccountably, his spellbook). The devil-worshipper was plundered and the party retreated back to the lemonade room, lucky to have not all been killed (NOTE: as close to a TPK as I’ve seen in some time!).
Oh, and they encountered a curious goat on the way back.
– Experience: 7670 XP each!