Our heroes – Mortimer, Jack, No Name, Rima, The Bard and Günther – stand in a room amidst the bodies of the bugbears they have just slaughtered. The sound of approaching minotaurs is getting closer. Meanwhile, Carreg is still in the temple chamber, copying the stone map in ever more detail, oblivious to the oncoming danger.
Günther searches the lead bugbear for the key to the door – he finds a key , but there is no time to find out what lock it fits. The Bard conjures a cloud of daggers at the bottom of the stairs leading up towards the room, in the hope of slowing the minotaurs down, and Jack adds a further obstacle in the form of writhing, eldritch tentacles reaching out from every surface in that area.
After a quick and heated debate, the party decide to go back to the temple to get Carreg, and then attempt an escape. Günther and Jack remain behind to cover their exit, taking up positions by the corners at the top of the stairs while the others rush off.
Looking down the stairs, Günther and Jack can see that the minotaurs are gathering but not advancing, presumably waiting for the spells to end before continuing their assault. They take pot-shots at any minotaurs who stray into the line of sight, causing a few injuries and encouraging them all to keep down and out of sight.
In the temple, Carreg is determined to carry on map-making until the last possible moment, if not beyond. The rest of the party prepare to be attacked, apart from No Name who puts her wilderness skills to good use with some remarkably efficient map-making.
With the spells about to fade, Günther urges Jack to rejoin the others. Jack heads back down the corridor to the temple, where the map-making continues apace.
The daggers and tentacles vanish, and the minotaurs charge. Günther blocks their advance, shooting rapid-fire crossbow bolts at the two in the front rank and bottling the other 28 up behind them. There is only one way this mismatched combat is going to go, but Günther uses all of his endurance and the last of his luck to hold them back as long as possible.
At last, the party in the temple decide it is time to move out. Carreg is still reluctant, but Mortimer forces the issue by grabbing all the map pages with his disembodied hands and running down the corridor towards the bugbear cave, beyond which is darkness. The others follow, No Name transforming herself into a wolf for an extra turn of speed.
Running through the darkened corridor, they quickly come to edge of a collapsed section, with a stream running down into it and two tunnel entrances on the other side – one rough and one finely finished in stone. The chasm is narrower near the rough entrance, so they party all jump across in that direction, safely making it into the tunnel.
After making the jump, Mortimer hesitates. Should he go back for Günther? He could easily return to the stairway by magical means, albeit expending some power that he may well need later, and putting himself into mortal danger in the process.
Just then, a vision of the great mushroom demon appears to him. “If the Nisse wishes to sacrifice himself,” she says, “I have other plans for him.”
The vision fades. Mortimer interprets her words to mean that she has plans for Günther post mortem, and turns to rejoin his colleagues who are exploring down the corridor.
Günther’s last stand, meanwhile, is coming to an end. A minotaur’s greataxe swings straight into him, inflicting a mighty, and mortal, blow. As the strength leaves his body, he just manages to whisper his final words:
“It’s hard to be a Nissemand…”
Thirty pairs of hooves trample over him, crushing his lifeless body into pulp.
The surviving members of the party soon find themselves by an underground shoreline, looking at the waves on the sea. There is another corridor leading off, and a stairway going upwards. The cave has tide marks around seven feet up the walls, and Carreg’s extensive subterranean experience allows her to deduce that the water periodically floods this cave – and that the next flood is coming soon.
The way up the second corridor is blocked by a solid metal barrier, evidently opened by means of an old and rusted mechanism that none of the party can manage to shift. While they are trying to move it, Rima stealthily scouts up the stairs, finding a room with a set of large double doors, emanating from which is a green spectral glow.
Brute force may have failed to turn the opening mechanism, but magic prevails, and soon the metal barrier is raised. Beyond it is a large cavern with a deep, wide pit in which is another old and broken mechanism that seems to be some kind of water wheel. Mortimer is convinced this must be the Spell Forge, operated by allowing water to flow into this room at high tide. He sets about trying to repair the mechanism.
But no sooner has he started work than a floating, glowing skull rises into the air from the mud at the far end of the cavern. It cackles maniacally as it approaches, while behind it a dozen zombies pull themselves out of the mud.
The skull drops a fireball on Mortimer’s position, blasting everyone around the mechanism but causing no casualties. None of Mortimer or Carreg’s magical attacks seem to damage the skull, and the zombies are getting closer.
The party begins to panic. Rima blasts most of the zombies back over a precipice at the rear of the cavern before retreating with No Name towards the stairs. Jack follows, pausing only to toss a silver mask to Mortimer – the same mask that used to control an undead mage. Mortimer puts it on, and nearly succumbs to its power before he can remove it, but is treated to a horrifying vision of the enemy forces – numberless pits full of undead, directed by hundreds of battle mages with glass staffs.
At the top of the stairs, the fleeing adventurers come face to face with the occupant of the room behind the glowing doors – a Beholder!
Jack calls out to it “Father!”, which baffles it so much it decides to let him live. By great good fortune, Rima’s insouciance is even more perplexing to it, and it returns to behind its doors, warning that it should not be disturbed again.
Back in the cavern, the skull finally succumbs to attack and explodes in a burst of fragments – just as a group of minotaurs appears at the far end of the cave, having reached this place by an a alternative route…