The party found a fairly secure room to rest in, and when they were rested had a fairly intense discussion about where to go next. They had passed a pair of double doors earlier, when they were hurt, and on the theory that double doors generally led to something important, they decided to head there. When they opened the doors, they found a large room whose width was taken up entirely by a 10′ deep pool, and a dark passageway beyond. Scratchy went up to the edge of the pool and saw three roughly humanoid forms, plus webbed feet and gills, swimming around inside.
“Um, later.” they decided.
There was another passage they hadn’t explored that led to a room with a magic rune circle that stretched from wall to wall, and in the center a flame that hung in the air, burning without any visible fuel source.
“Ah ha!” exclaimed Zelcor, “that’s a pinhole portal to the elemental plane of fire!”
“And this is a magical circle of protection,” replied Theodore, “something I certainly don’t want to cross.”
They decided to check out a different way.
They entered a third passage and heard the sound of two creatures fighting from up ahead. Creeping forward, they peeked around a corner and saw two nupperibos jabbing each other with spears, while two tiny winged creatures (“Imps,” Theodore informed everyone) watched and cheered from a raised balcony. Unfortunately, the party’s light gave them away. The imps ordered the nupperibos to attack, but Theodore and Milacent’s polearms made short work of them. Then when Milacent moved forward to get up close to the imps, the two of them simply disappeared.
“What? Get back here and fight us!” Scratchy demanded.
Theodore, on the other hand, just smirked. If they had gone invisible, as he suspected, he had a trick up his sleeve for just that occasion. He closed his eyes and called upon Nethys to let him hear the thoughts of any creatures, visible or invisible, down the corridor they had last seen the imps fleeing into.
Sure enough, there were two minds, and then a third, all thinking some variation of “Who are they? What are they doing here? Did the Suzerain send them?” Then suddenly he could hear the thoughts no more.
Theodore opened his eyes again. The things had probably turned a corner or gone through a door, causing their thoughts to be blocked, but he’d already sensed all he needed to. “Three creatures,” he said. “Let’s get them.”
The party followed where he indicated, coming to a stone door. As the spell was still active, Theodore could still vaguely hear the frightened thoughts beyond it, and today he was in no mood to negotiate.
The party threw open the door and Zelcor fired a sleep spell inside, hoping to hear the thud of an invisible creature falling to the ground. Instead he saw a fairly revolting creature hovering above a table in the center of the room. It’s head and torso were those of a pudgy human infant, but its lower body, wings, mouth, and eyes were those of a giant housefly. Milacent went to stab it and it disappeared. “Come inside,” she said to her companions, “And close the door.”
What followed was a great deal of flailing at enemies that would make themselves visible only long enough to attack, and then go unseen again. It was a good tactic, or would have been if the room had been large enough to get out of Milacent and Scratchy’s weapon range. As it was they were trapped in a small space, and Milacent knew a thing or two about striking at enemies she could hear but not see; soon the imps were bloody corpses on the ground. The other thing they struck a few times, and then it never reappeared. The adventurers guessed that it had teleported away, which was good enough for them.
Whatever the half-fly thing was, it had left behind a significant number of coins, contained in a silver coffer that the party ascertained was worth more than the coins themselves. There was also a wooden zither which Theodore recognized as being of ancient Thassilonian design, and they took that too.
Looking around, the party saw a door opposite from the room where the imps had fled, but this other door was blocked with a mound of rubble. Hoping to find more treasure, they cleared away the rubble and then Milacent forced the door open. Inside they found not treasure but two more lemures. Because they were close to the door, Theodore tried to bash at one with his morningstar, but it didn’t hurt the creature at all. Then Theodore stood back and watched in frustration as Scratchy and Milacent slew the two devils with their polearms.
“You know,” he said, “devils can resist weapon damage, but not from silver. If we just had a silver weapon I could contribute to these battles.”
“You’re doing fine,” said Milacent, “now heal our wounds.”
Scratchy, meanwhile, was trying to remember something. “Silver, eh? There was something about silver … what was it?”
They set off down another previously unexplored passage, and found a strange contraption sitting abandoned in an abandoned storage room. It looked like a three-legged, four-armed humanoid made of iron and brass, and inside it were all manner of gears and levers and other machinery. Scratchy had some experience opening locks, and so he knew a thing or two about mechanical devices, but this was by far the most complex machine he had ever seen. The only thing he could deduce about it was that it had a keyhole. Where the key was, no one knew.
Leaving the strange device, the party heard a strange squishing sound in a side room off the main corridor. They lined up at a corner, then peeked around it to see two lemures milling about. Scratchy and Milacent went ahead and killed them, while Theodore stood around feeling useless. “Just one silver weapon, that’s all I need.” he muttered.
“Yeah, silver. What did I forget?” Scratchy said in reply.
They moved on, finding another door. Listening at it, they heard the sound of something speaking in the infernal language of devils. They readied themselves, then pushed to door open to reveal another two lemures.
“And once again I do no damage.” complained Theodore as the others slew the creatures. (It should be noted that Zelcor couldn’t hurt the devils either, but he didn’t seem to mind so much.)
They began to search the room for treasure, but as they did they heard a high-pitched voice chirp out in Common, “Excellent! You’ve passed the first test! I am the Suzerain of Little Erebus, and I command you to slay Lord Baz and bring me back the two lemures he stole. Do so and you will all enjoy positions of power and privilege in my mighty kingdom!”
Scratchy looked around. Invisible things were starting to annoy him, not that he had ever really liked them anyway. “Your kingdom? You mean this room?’
“It is small now, but once I have my property back, we need only wait for more subjects to come through the gate. Soon we will have a mighty army, and power and victory will be ours! It should only take a few centuries.”
Milacent wasn’t really enjoying this either. “Is Lord Baz a kind of half fly, half baby kind of thing?”
“Yes, that’s the one. Slay him.”
“Oh, he’s dead. We already met him and killed him.”
“Excellent! Now bring me back the two lemures he stole from me.”
“Can’t. They’re dead too.”
“What? And you killed the two I had here? That’s four I have to replace! I had the beginnings of an army, and now I have to wait again!”
By now the imp (it was almost certainly an imp) had talked enough that the party could guess its location. Scratchy stabbed at it, but hit nothing. He apparently came close, however, as the voice became agitated. “How dare you attack me! I’m am the Suzerain of Little Erebus! You could have been powerful lords in my new kingdom! Now you will be nothing!” it screamed.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Keep talking so we can find you,” answered Scratchy, and with that the voice decided it had had enough. The party was left to search the rest of the room in peace, though they found nothing of value.
Now the only place left they hadn’t explored was the passageway beyond the pool with the creatures swimming inside it. Theodore, however, was out of healing spells again and wanted to rest. He also wanted to head back to Magnimar. “Why?” asked Milacent, “What are we going to do back there?”
“We can sell some of this treasure we found,” Theodore answered, “plus I want to buy a silver weapon of some sort, so I can do damage against these imps and lemures we keep meeting.”
“Ah! That’s what I forgot!” interjected Scratchy, and he began rooting around in his backpack. Presently he pulled out a finely crafted silver dagger. “Here, take this.”
“What? How long have you had this?”
“It was in the puzzle box we opened when we first met Sheila Heidmarch. We’ve had it this whole time.”