Back in the city, Zhuld-zir managed to make himself absent the entire night, while Iban went to the temple of Moradin to seek aid in his weird skin disorder (that seemed to be growing slowly). The chief priest (for a tidy sum) cast remove curse, and Iban felt as if something malign was lifted from him…but the skin issue was unaffected. The others in the party took care of sundry business, as well.
Next morning, the party headed out to the dungeon once more. While en route, they saw the evil faced dwarf watching them once more, grinningly most malignantly. As before, he disappeared into thin air before he could be approached. Back in the dungeon, the party made their way back to the lower level to continue exploring. In one room, they found a live dwarf, evil-looking and hostile. He began to speak — but ZZ attacked him. He proved to be a very worthy fighter and took some time to be cut down, and only after doing much damage to the party. He possessed a magic plate that filled itself with food and a mug that filled with ale on command, as well as a pouch of dried, grey fungus with a pipe. He also possessed a powerful dwarf battle axe named Draknûr.
Not far from this foe, the party entered a room with the ever-present eye carved in the ceiling. As they entered the room, the air grew chill and the walls dissolved, leaving the party in a vast grey plain of stone, with a stylized mountain in the distance — the same place they’d seen before. They felt as if they were suddenly rushed across this plane and into the mountain, finding themselves in a vast, underground hall of impossible dimensions. They found themselves before agreat throne that seemed blurred and indistinct (all else was sharp and clear). Atop it sat a great dwarf-like figure with a horned helm, and they felt its hostile gaze on them, appraised by a hostile entity of immense power and malice. After a short time,a cold, distant laugh as if from a deep stone well came from it, followed by “My time has come again. Despair, thieves, for your doom is nigh.” The party was wracked with intense pain at this point. Recovering, they found themselves back in the original room.
Other, oddly shaped areas were explored, including a long intertwining set of corridors carved with strange designs and the Eye of the Earth Dragon motif. A single strand of geometric design like a square-style of Celtic knot runs at waist level around the outer wall surface; matching designs encircle the four interior sections. At the entrance to them was a statue of a powerful Dwarf warrior, eyes open and seemingly staring with hostility at the party. If spoke when approached: “Know ye, that the way of the Earth Dragon is not to be tread lightly. For the Lord of Zagâsh knows naught of mercy.” At the other end was another statue of a dwarf in robes that spoke: “Ye have tread the path of the Earth Dragon and your souls are in Zagâsh. Now be ye marked with his sign that ye shall be known as his thralls evermore. Torment to all traitors; death to its enemies. Even its slaves will pine for death.” As this was said, tattoos appeared around the neck of all present, depicting an interlocking chain of diamonds (like a thrall’s collar).
The party next came to four different sunken rooms, all empty except for an ancient dwarf corpse. While in each, they saw a vision of what they decided were different forms of torment for dwarves: a lone dwarf in an open coracle under a blazing sun; a dwarf in a great hall full of treasures, but as he reached for each one, it would vanish; a dwarf working at a forge that, no matter how hard he tried, made everything defective; and a dwarf fighting to get through a narrow crack to get to a vast treasure just out of reach. ZZ found the place disturbing.
The party now considered the dungeon to be essentially explored. They rested for several hours to recover spells, and made a show of looking more wounded and worn than they really were — Cadwallider and Iban went invisible, as well. They then returned to the city where the dwarves on duty expressed concern at their condition. The party made some vague comments about great dangers and returned to their quarters.
Next morning, Orrin came, as they’d hoped he would. He was alarmed at the report that they’d “lost several members of the party” in their explorations, and at the grave dangers that they’d overcome. meanwhile, they questioned their employer about his uses for the dungeon and about his business partners, but learned little (he did not seem to know much, but it was clear he was a little afraid of whoever he was working with). He was pleased to accept a copy of the map (I believe that was handed over) and he would see that the remainder of their pay was passed to them. As he departed, ZZ slipped out to follow him and see where he went…
– Experience: 2000 XP (2200 XP for those getting +10%)