The party then found themselves looking up at a narrow staircase spiraling up into the great unknown. Malakar sent Shadowclaw up to scout things out. However, the trusty raven met with foul play, and when resurrected, told us there was a harpy waiting in the stairwell for us. Malakar wanted to send Thath’kul ahead, but Kobi advised against it. After all, there is a certain other member of our party who may be more expendable and even less trustworthy, and this certain elf happens to have excellent sneaking skills. And so Renleon was the first to begin the ascension up the stairs.
Once on the stairs, Renleon noticed “seams” that may have indicated that the stairs are capable of moving. He delicately placed one toe on the first step, and the stairs immediately shook under him and tripped him. From his new vantage point on the ground, he could see hinges and seams, indicating that the stairs could move, but were now trapped in the narrow corridor. With this knowledge, he continued up the stairs with extreme caution. The caution was to no avail, however, as when he came to the second level of stairs, they clamped right down on his foot. A harpy suddenly appeared, and the whole party began fighting it as Renleon struggled to release his foot. He was finally able to spot a means to disengage the trap – by sticking a dagger into a certain mechanism. As he freed himself, he daydreamed that he was actually sticking his dagger into a bright-eyed two-year-old child.
By this time, two gargoyles had joined the fray, and the party, oblivious to Renleon’s homicidal fantasies, had beaten them down. Before dying, however, they turned into stone. This reminded Malakar of a childhood game he and Leikos knew of, Reeg Rock, where they would push friends off of precipices. They put those memories to good use, and shoved one stone gargoyle over the edge of the staircase. The two tieflings then Put Their Horns Together In The Ancient Tradition, leaving Kobi to deal with the other gargoyle. He quickly disposed of it by doing an intimidating tap dance, and it crumbled where it stood.
The party ascended the rest of the stairs without incident. At the top, we saw hallways with demon idols on the walls with wide open mouths. Shadowclaw again was sent into a demon mouth as a scout, and again met with demise. Immediately, two berserkers and two manglers emerged from other demon mouths, and stated very eloquently, “We’re gonna kill you”. The demon mouths began biting at the air in front of them and saying, nearly as eloquently, “food, food, feed us now”. From another demon mouth, a grue entered and joined the 4 monsters already threatening to kill us. When standing near these monsters, the party members found themselves feeling slightly out-of-control, as though we may hit anything standing near us. Marie accidentally hit Malakar with her battle axe, but luckily it was in its fiery state and the tiefling took less damage than he otherwise would. Oops. Marie then went on to redeem herself by landing two critical hits on one bad guy, followed by another impressive shot at his companion. After the party had finished doing away with the monsters, and Marie had collected their teeth for her necklace, we fed the corpses to the famished demon mouths. They must have been grateful, as they spit back out a +2 flaming dagger which Renleon is now using (for the time being…)
We put up for the night in a small adjacent room that had two beds and some comfy-looking floor space. Malakar worked his magic and was able to lock the door for the night, but we couldn’t convince Thath’kul to join us. He insisted that he was too claustrophobic and would remain sleeping in the outer chamber through the night. In the morning, however, the demon had vanished! He must have run away from us. We had to break this news to Vyrellis and she was made to understand that we “sent him away” because of her great dislike for him. This pleased the head, and she is now back on good terms with Renleon.
As the party set out for the morning, we discovered a secret door in the Southern wall. On the other side was a large dimly lit room with three gates – one to the West, one to the South, and one to the Northeast.