We rejoin our party as they continue to intrepidly explore level 2 of the Horn of Abbadon.
Finding a room full of wrecked statues they perceptively realise that there's one more head than the number of limbs and torsos would suggest. A rather paranoid conversation ensues about the possibility of encountering a medusa or similarly petrifiying foe, and considerable thought is given to who should be carrying the stone salve.
Some more rooms, leading off the rather grand atrium with its fountain, are explored without incident, until our villains reach the room at the northwest corner. Opening the door they see a room which clearly contains a hole to the outside, as it is rather full of vegetation. Fitch enters first to check for traps, and promptly falls asleep in the middle of the room. Adelea and Grumblejack instantly nod off too: this room contains two verdurous oozes, and the sleeping gas they exude has been wafted to them by the opening of the door.
Luckily Sam is just outside the range of the effect, and has the presence of mind to throw a rope into the room while the oozes are still waking up to the presence of food nearby. Creel wakes Grumblejack who wakes Adelea, who pulls mightily on the rope that Sam has animated and ordered to wrap itself round Fitch's leg, and the woozy rogue is dragged free of the clutching vegetation and away from the deadly oozes. Creel's iron will lets him shrug off the sleepy gas and firmly shut the door, and after a brief but heartfelt conversation:
Sam “oozes are horrible, if we want to fight them we're going to have to strip”
Fitch “if there's holes to the outside here these things seem like perfect guardians”
Our villains decide to come back later to secure and indeed trap the door, so they can laugh at people trying to break in this way being killed by the oozes.
Moving on the party encounters a shrine to the loathed sun god, Mitra, which makes evil spells considerably harder to cast on this level. (Later, they come back and thoroughly desecrate it)
They also discover a headless statue, a very detailed statue, who they quickly realise is a) the owner of the spare head, and b) a once-living person who has been turned to stone. They debate using the stone salve:
“he could givve us valuable intel on the Horn”
“we're not ready for guests yet!”
They leave him in place.
There is a very fancy pillared chapel on this level, corresponding to the similar space on level 1. Thorough examination shows that the pillar on this level, corresponding to the hollow pillar below, is also hollow! However there's no secret door…
If that pillar is hollow and there's no door, and this pillar is hollow and there's no door, and we didn't find any doors in the caves…
maybe there's… a… secret door?
There IS a secret door! It is very secret but they do eventually find it. The stairs they find wind up and up and up, through the pillars on level 1 and 2, and all the way into a secret section of level 3 contain the demons Hexor and Vexor, who politely inform the party “Good afternoon intruders, I'm terribly sorry but we'll have to disembowel you now”. However Sam forestalls this by stating they're here to free Vetra Kali.
The two demons approve of this plan, but are less than convinced that Sam and her party have the chops to pull it off. They therefore decide to refrain from disembowelling them for now, and to give Sam information in response to questions about what they can expect in the Sanctum upstairs. Unfortunately, on the axis between "helpful" and "amusing to two greater Ceustodaemons", the answers are skewed towards the latter.
The party climb towards the sanctum in the knowledge that there's a big green statue up there, and that it certainly has a lively atmosphere.
There is a big green statue up there. It has a big silver seal on it, radiating goodness. And there is a lively atmosphere too, in the form of a greater lightning elemental that leaps to the attack! After the first flurry of zappy smashy blows however, Creel is able to increase the party's resistance to energy (although not to being smashed). The elemental is somewhat resistant to being hit with a sword, too – but not nearly resistant enough, as a hasted Adelea chops it into bits.
The party bottle some of the blood, and dunk the eye in some more of the blood to activate it. The portable foe-butchering-station cart thing they had been talking about earlier does actually seem like a decent idea at this point.
Grumblejack has been complaining of dizziness and unquenchable thirst since entering the Sanctum. The villains eventually hit on the idea of putting some water in the reservoir of the statue, where it instantly turns to unholy water. This quenches GJ's thirst, and also reveals his half-fiend heritage. Grumblejack can fly now! Who saw that coming? (Well, me. I've got the book).