The rickety basket goes ever deeper into the stone and the air gets rather cool. The shaft opens up into a large natural cavern and from the height of the ceiling they see towering clumps of giant mushrooms growing throughout. There’s a slight glow, as if from a lantern wending its way beneath the oversized caps towards the spot where the basket will eventually land. As they bump to a stop, a group of bandits wearing the iconic yellow and black step towards them. “What… What the hell are you doing in our elevator?” They ask, reaching for their weapons.
After giving the password, the party explains that Zorell Gnast has given them permission to use it, setting aside the details of the deal they’ve made. Seeming satisfied with this and mentioning that they doubt they could have taken the whole cave by themselves, they leave the subject. “Well, working for the boss, eh? Alright then. Need anything before we leave?” None of the three could think of anything they could ask of the bandits, despite having just been dropped into a completely unfamiliar area of the dungeon, so the rope was pulled and the elevator started to rise up into the dark. “Good luck!” The Beggars yelled back, just before the basket disappeared into the shaft.
Picking a direction, they walk into the next open area of the cavern to see a strange coating on the walls. It’s an incredibly thick and viscous black substance with what looks like bright red glitter specks suspended in it. It seems to be oozing directly out of the Rock and it pools in large, thick puddles on the floor. Scott decides to taste some, because why not. It tastes a little like peanut butter… It doesn’t seem to do anything to him though. They think of collecting some, but nobody has anything to put it in so they leave it alone and go on through the adjoining passage.
Here the passage goes left into a smaller chamber and into a tight right turn. They poke their heads into the chamber and get a very strange tingling sensation. They almost feel more than hear a slight tinkling sound. The walls are striated with some sort of dark ore. They figure this one is best left alone for now so they head down the passage.
Soon, the passage turns into carved, straight passages like they’ve been used to. Almost immediately this spits them out into a round room with exits in the four cardinal directions. The walls are painted to look like a vast desert with rolling dunes and huge pyramids in the distance and the sky is the brilliant blue of an open sky. The passages to the right and left are closed with portcullises and the winches are on the inside of the round room. On the floor next to the portcullis on the right they see the ground is oddly clean as if bleached. The bars next to the clean patch seem pitted as if eroded as well. They leave via the left passage relative to where they came in after the winch breaks and Bractoon muscles the bars up and into place.
Soon, they’re in the large room with columns where Sieglinde had the unfortunate run in with the giant toads. They’ve neatly bypassed the orcs’ outposts closer to the spiral stairs and are on the left side of where she saw the sign posting that that area was Orc territory proper. Figuring they should check out the other door in this chamber, not the one that had two giant pissed off frogs in it, they head over to it. Sieglinde Thaumaturgies the door open and they see a figure standing in the small room, facing the wall next to a shield sitting on the ground. Before they can react, the figure turns around… It’s Beg! His eyes get wide and he runs past them, out into the columned chamber, down to the corner where they came in.
He stands there and beckons them over with his hands. He doesn’t speak. But his body language definitely feels urgent. He very much wants them to follow him back into the room with the desert painting. Sieglinde is definitely surprised by all of this and wants to help him out if she can. They follow him and by the time they get into the room, he’s barely squeezing through the bars of the portcullis on the opposite side of the room. When he makes it through, he stands in the corridor, which turns to the left, and beckons them again. He seems intent on having them follow him.
Bractoon walks up to the winch and begins to turn it. As the portcullis begins to move, a large patch of green slime falls from the space where the bars would fit in the ceiling! Thinking on his feet, Scott yanks the warlock out of the way at the last second as the patch of slime hits the floor and bars, filling the room with its unmistakable septic stench mixed with the chemical smell of metal being dissolved by acid. As they recover from this, the party sees Beg standing with his arms at his sides, expressionless. He then turns and walks down the hallway.
Following in the same direction on their side of the gate, they find themselves in another circular room in the same format as the one they just left. However, this one seems to be painted to look like a turbulent seascape with white capped waves on three of the walls and a ragged, rocky cliff above a thin beach on the fourth. The ceiling is a roiling tumult of grey and black clouds. They don’t really take any time to look too carefully, however, as Beg is standing on the other side of another portcullis, beckoning them urgently to follow him.
They do take a second to look over the bars and winch. Again, they see the floor and bars pitted by acid. Another slime trap! Figuring that if Beg could do it, he could, Scott tries to fit through the bars. Barely contorting himself enough, he squeezes through to find that beg has continued down the hallway and is standing at another corner, urging Scott to follow, still completely silent. The others decide to take the time to squeeze through as well, instead of continuing down the hall they’d been following.
By the time they all get through and follow Beg into the next room, he’s disappeared! This room looks like an old meeting hall, with a large stone table in the center and broken bookshelves and such around the walls. A long dead fireplace lies cold on one wall and a loose pile of broken chairs is piled up in the only other entrance to the room. Looking carefully in the thick dust that covers everything, they see a set of footprints leading to a wall… And vanishing! Investigating, they find a hidden mechanism that opens a panel on the wall, leading into another passageway that turns immediately to the right. Beg stands at the corner, motioning for them to follow him, face slack and without emotion…
Bractoon is about to step through to confront the silent weirdo when he notices a line of holes around the doorway. Looking closer, he sees the points of sharpened spears just beneath the surface of the wall and a pressure plate on the ground. Scott’s done with this shit already, so he jumps over the plate towards Beg, rolling as he lands and grabs the silent elf’s foot. As he does so, his hand doesn’t grasp the cloth and flesh he expected to, but rather it feels like he’s gripping a cold lump of potter’s clay. Even the cloth feels like it’s made of this material. Surprised by this and taken off guard by the things quick reflex of pulling its leg away, he loses his grip.
Suddenly, the thing they thought was Beg has a face full of emotion! It looks like anger personified, as if a person caught in a mania. It bares its teeth and holds its arms like claws ready to strike. Before it can do anything though, three quick strikes from each of the party puts it down, finished off by a bolt of Sacred Flame from Sieglinde that slightly melts it. As it lays on the ground, slumped like the forgotten work of a mad sculptor, a thing of clay painted to look like a living being and given a false sort of life, they remark that it never made a single sound…