A plague ship got to port to the south, so for the time being, the Frog Khan’s troops are shooting at anyone trying to come in from the Dust Road and they are living off a secret stockpile of reserves.
So, few people are in the mood to risk life and limb in the Lottery Dungeon. Fortunately, some are. Saedenn, Crazy Bear, Strings, and Shaddak headed down to take a closer look at level 3. They hired a Midianite torch bearer, Eduardo.
Into the Lottery Dungeon
As the grinding ceased, they strolled through the entry chambers, then opened the doors and entered the first level. Somewhat turned around, they explored for a while before finding the way back down to the second level… but the first level was eerie and silent.
They descended to the muggy unpleasantness of the second level, with its black stone and awful smell. Saedenn remembered where the secret door to the rest of the level was, and he ordered the collectors back as he took the invaders through it. By now they changed their mission parameters, instead searching for the holy bolt-hole they once found, to safely overnight.
However, a growing feeling in the group was that there was not much need for a secret hidey-hole. They could just murder anything that messed with them. Why even go out between expeditions? Their power was grown to the point where they should be able to slay things out of hand and do as they pleased, including offing the ghoul king; his protection is a step from worthless, and they could just keep killing ghoul kings until they learned their lesson.
Interspersed with this increasing confidence was the desire to check random walls for secret passages, pressing on vague memory in a place where things look much the same. They took their time wandering the level, increasing tension between Saedenn and Shaddek, with Crazy Bear and Strings feeling casually powerful enough to take any threats.
They found the copper dish, and Strings was quick on the draw with his copper piece, gaining a blessing. They also found the room with the block of green crystal.
The Dungeon Closes
The dungeon rotated, trapping them. Energies of death from the Wailing Labyrinth flooded the level, the undead shrieked, and something big loosed a horrific cry. They retreated back through a couple secret doors to the chill pool, and decided to wait it out. Strings played his fiddle to keep up their morale.
Apparently the pool was a portal to part of the Wailing Labyrinth, some shipwreck victims wanted him to finish his song. Then they were swept away as the level kept churning through the weird energies of the land of the dead.
An ethereal scout found them, but was slain before it could go report, Shaddak’s ravenblade making short work of it. That did not protect them from the ghoul king’s ability to track their marks, however. The ghoul king brought his collectors, and also something… bigger.
It smashed through the secret doors to get at them. Its head was a hazy cloud, and in it they could each see the faces of people they had slain. It had shoulders broad as an ogre or minotaur. Its hands stretched into sharp scissoring claws. Its lower torso congealed into a protoplasmic sluggish form. It reared tall, and offered them death.
They fought. Saedenn’s massive orbs of energy could not hit it, but the others hacked away with gusto. Strings found his arm disabled by its biting chilly might, and their weapons were nearly destroyed by touching it; Crazy Bear swelled up and shattered walls to get at the thing, and ever slap at it wounded his paws (even with their metal supports.)
Much to its surprise, they drove it back, and chased off the ghoul king. Freshly confident, they strutted out into the heavily fogged level.
Eduardo died of terror, in his sleep.
The Ancient Soldier
They encountered a bemused ghost of what looked to be a soldier of the World Above. He told them they were outside the time stream, where he could meet them. (Indeed, time seemed to stop, and the dungeon’s damage was rebuilt before their eyes by invisible hands.) The soldier could not speak a language they understood, so resorted to telepathy, but did not tell them much. He could only meet them because of the hole in the temporal shift because of a powerful being leaving in a hurry—like the Monitor.
Surviving the Second Level
Time resumed making sense, and shortly after the level turned. They hunted for a way out, prodding through the corners of the level and facing rising frustration between those who felt escape was a priority and those who felt it was no big deal.
After a brief argument, Saedenn separated to look for the way out while the others stayed with Shaddak to search corridor walls for secret passages. Shaddak was frustrated to reach a locked door, and he rejoined the others and asked Shaddak to open it. Shaddak did, and they faced a room with six collectors eating a corpse on a table.
Shaddak pointed a VERY rude gesture at them, and they attacked, hissing! The invaders’ casual amusement at the attack shifted abruptly as they faced the paralyzing powers of the collectors. The six were still dispatched easily enough, but there were many more on the level, and the invaders reached a vague consensus that leaving might be good.
They checked a couple exits, and found that the one they entered was again synched up. They headed back up to the first level, and found themselves running. They did not, after all, know which entry synched up with the exit, and they also could sense their time running out. The random and leisurely search for secret doors cost them time that they now wanted back as they raced through the first level.
Gambling on his mystic sight synching up with the weird other-time they accidentally experienced, Saedenn tried to see where the exit was. He got a sense of direction, and they followed him, dodging traps and running through the exit—just as the rotation started! They barely made it through.
They got out, and swaggered out before the Khan and the applause of the oasis. Saedenn asked to speak with the Khan before selling his map, an unusual move. The Khan did not want to discuss the matter in public, so Saedenn sold his almost-complete map of level 2 for 200 silver (!) and the invaders celebrated in style.
Only Shaddak had a carousing mishap; he was beaten, robbed, and left hanging upside down from a palm tree over the oasis pool—nude.
The next morning, they met with the Khan, who had much residual energy of that other timespace around him that they saw for the first time. He showed them where the secret bolthole was, and told them he would have use for them in the future…