Well we came to terms with Perconius and continued towards the entrance to the lower level. It was guarded by a massive metal golem. But as Kalli approached with the key, the bulky form shuffled off into an indentation in the wall, and let us pass into a sort of revolving stone door, which then led into a tiny dead-end chamber with a strange design in the floor. We all crowded into the cramped chamber and Kalli placed the key on the floor.
The floor design began to wriggle and writhe, and I became totally entranced. I could see Hrolf got what I was looking at too, but the others didn’t seem to notice the profound awe that could be seen by staring ever more deeply at the shifting designs. The whole floor seemed to swirl down into a surreal stairscape that took us through some kind of hyperdimensional space.
Before long, the stairs melted and flowed into shapes, designs, feelings, mathematical concepts, and galaxies. At one point I woke up and lived an entire lifetime as a giant cockroach. I mean, it was trippy! It reminded me of my days back in seminary. In any event, I came out of the trip just as we reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped out onto a broad concrete platform. One look at Hrolf’s dilated pupils told me that he was still tripping though.
To the left in a stone wall was a door. Kalli shoved it open, and a hot, musty wind wafted through. Beyond was a rough cavern, darlky lit by the warm glow of lava pools. Hot mud geysers could be seen burbling up sulfur bubbles. A winding path led through the cavern to a golden door on the far side. Looked too much like a trap.
Turning back, we went to the opposite door on the right of the concrete platform. As we approached, we detected a buzzing, staccato, almost musical sound. We opened the door to reveal a square chamber containing a wrinkled old man writing at a wooden desk. Every surface seemed to writhe however, and to our horror we realized there were thousands of insects on everything! The man would absently-mindedly pause in his scribbling to munch on a bug.
Kalli gathered her composure, and addressed the old man. He responded with startling gravitas, explaining that he was Asaru, the Keeper of the Hall. Kalli questioned him for a while, and he pontificated on the Chaos Lords the dwelt within the Hall, and on how they were much fabled for granting supernatural boons to those petitioners who they deemed worthy. They seemed to talk in circles for a bit, and the old man gloated over his writing, relating tales of Shiv, Nightlord, Kara the Traveler, Arcady the Reaper, and Erok the Beautiful. We finally left (and Blake spritzed some perfume in the disgusting chamber as we closed the door).
We inhaled deeply of the relatively fresh air on the concrete platform, and huddled to discuss our next moves. (Kalli rants about us check log)
After a moment, Perconious went on ahead to scout. But three winged apes swooped down from above, rhyming some devilish threats! see log We attempted to convince them that WE were the chaos gods, and unbelievably they bought it! They landed and began to bow to us. We commanded two of them to leave, and the third to dance for our amusement and give us back rubs.
Finally we moved forward and the platform narrowed into a corridor lined with ghastly statues. The first one we came to seemed to be the Shiv that the old Keeper of the Hall had spoken of. It was a horrifying amber impression of a zombified corpse, but with an antlered head and bat wings, glowing a sickly yellow. Blake and Perconious used their powers to become invisible, and attempted to sneak by it, but the statue began to move! It gestured for our unseen comrades to halt. It’s monstrous head tilted down to regard them and inquire about the nature of their supplication. Blake, thinking fast, sliced his palm and squeezed out some blood for the deity… but it wanted more. It wanted death. So, Perconious summoned the flying monkeys back, and Kalli unfeelingly slashed one of their throats. The others bared their teeth and began to resist, so Stefan, Syberian, and Reynard began beating one down, while the last was impaled by Blake’s electrified spear and conked by Hrolf’s hammer.
The Shiv statue’s stag head bent down and began to slowly swallow the nearest monkey corpse, opening its mouth impossibly wide and drawing the quivering body in like a python would. Then it stood up and offered us a prize! Blake and Hrolf stepped forward and were transported through a shimmering yellow gate, to a magical room they would later describe as full of disease and decay. There, Hrolf retrieved an amber mace named Typhus, and when they returned, the heretical dwarf seemed to fall in love with it, immediately discarding all other weapons and staring into its amber flanges longingly.
We continued down the hall. The next statue was a featureless humanoid, flickering with a yellow-green light. It began to screech as we drew near.