... The four remaining Vrilya organized the party (joined at the last minute by Darnorth) and led them through the north door. Here they halted for some time, being told by the Vrilya the guards further ahead needed to be warned first; they did not like newcomers. As they waited, the party looked around the room. There was a table with papers all over it; a number of comfortable, but alien, chairs; and a thick rug on the floor. Sprawled on the rung the recently dead body of another Vrilya, and other signs of a struggle abounded in the room. Joined now by another six Vrilya, the party was marched out a door on the opposite side of the room, down a hallway and through another room. Here the lead Vrilya gave them a map, which showed how to reach both the troll halls and the elevator up. He also warned them once more to take care passing through the next room, as the creatures guarding it were vary of any non-Vrilya. With that, they all passed through the door into a roughly dug, irregularly shaped room. And were hit by a strong smell of cattle, sweat and blood. Along the east wall hung hooks dangling three fresh human corpses, and lurking at the edge of the dim light of a brazier were 5 creatures with the body of a man and head of a bull; minotaurs. A Vrilya warrior stood with them, talking to them in their own language.
The Vrilya made signs that the party had better go, so after a quick discussion, they decided to head for the elevator and back to Westmist to recover and refit before taking on the trolls. They followed the Vrilya’s map (which distressingly showed the only way to the troll halls from the elevator was through the minotaur guard post) through the crudely dug tunnels and were shortly standing by the elevator. It was a iron cage inside an iron frame, which rose through an opening in the ceiling and into darkness. Next to it was a metal box with 5 switches and a mass of wires leading to the elevator. Riley fiddled with the switches for a minute, and then he, Gurruk and the wolves stepped into the elevator. And were immediately electrocuted, as their fiddling with the switches had electrified the cage. Gurruk was able to leap free, but Riley and the wolves dropped to the floor of the cage and twitched as the power flowed through them. Kern traced a few of the wires and set the switches to a different configuration. Thankfully the electricity shut down, although the smell of dead roasted cleric and wolf filled the room. And the cage began to rise, so the rest of the party piled in for the journey up.
After a few minute, the elevator emerged into a huge cavern, too large to see the full extent of it. Around them were scattered piles of boulders and the remains of old fires. Leaving the cooked wolves behind, Darnorth threw Riley over his shoulder and the party explored the cavern. Numerous exits left the chamber, and the party first tried one to the west. Encountering another chamber with multiple exits, Kern listened at all ways out, hearing the sound of ape-like hooting at one. They decided to go back to the elevator chamber to try another direction. Kern prepared to explore one that lead north, but suddenly a half dozen ogres emerged from it to confront the party. The party, in no shape for a fight right now, tried to parley with the ugly beasts. It wasn't going well until Kern offered them the cooked wolves in payment for letting them leave. That seemed to work, and the ogres were more than happy to take the free meal and let the party leave without a fuss. They even told them which way to go (south, not north because “Clacker” wouldn’t be pleased to see them). The party didn’t need to be told much more, so south they went.
After dealing with a portcullis barring their way, and passing first through a strange mist and crystal filled room, they reached “T” intersection. Listening, Kern heard sounding of animal grunting to the east, so they choose the south exit instead. Shortly they entered a room with fire-blackened statue in the centre. It’s two faces looked at exits to the north and south. Suspecting a trap, Kern started searching around the statue and found a pressure plate in the north west corner of the room. He jammed this one to make it non-operational and proceeded to check a little further on, finding yet another pressure plate. As he was taking care of that one, the rest of the party was surprised when a small group of the gentleman ghouls appeared at the third entrance to the room. “Oh bother, not these cretins again” they sighed. Obviously they had heard of the party from their colleagues and were beginning to resent the constant uninvited intrusions by the party. They were making signs of hostile intent before Darnorth was about to placate them by saying the parties only interest was to get out with their dead comrade. That satisfied the gentleman, and they quickly shooed the party around the statue (“just walk right by it. It won’t hurt you, you fools”) who reached the stairs and scurried up and out of the dungeon without delay or further encumbrance.
Back in town, Riley was deposited at the temple for a little clerical assistance with that death thing. Kern received a message from Thuridici with information on the chest and the curse. The visage on the chest he identified as one of the devilish marshals, Malbec by name. That bearded devil carried a marshals baton with an orange tassel on the end which he was apt to swing around. Based on his research, something resembling the devils baton should allow opening the chest without triggering the curse. That made Kern thing of the key, which had an orange tassel on the end. Retrieving the chest from its astral hiding place, brushed it with the tassel and then opened it. No beard growth this time, so it would seem they had discovered the trick. Meanwhile, Kern also discovered two other thing, one good and one not so good. The strange crossbow he recovered from the Vrilya toll keeper proved to be a magical crossbow +1. He also found that his wondrous alien jumpsuit no longer protected him. However, he replaced the strange metal cube in the neck with the one Darnorth had recovered from the tower in Mor, and the armor worked again.
While Riley recovered and Erijay working on rewriting spells in her spell book, Darnorth, Kern, Bjorn and Gurruk decided to go meet with Sir Janus and fill him in on their progress on recovering Duncal. Getting their horses, they saddled up and headed into the mountains, reaching the site of Sir Janus’ camp on the second day. But neither Sir Janus nor anyone else was there. Several buildings had been burned down, others pushed over. Gurruk checked the area for tracks, and found a confusing mix of human and humanoid tracks at least a month old. Mixed in with them were some very large humanoid tracks, and those of some other unknown beast. Meanwhile, Kern’s eye came to rest on the burial mound where the dead from their last visit had been interred. It looked like it had been dug open, so he went over to investigate. Looking closer, it looked like the mound had been dug out from the inside. Scattered around the resulting hole were some human remains, but Kern immediately noticed something more important: Booh’s body was missing. Brains racing, they all realized that Darnorth’s wish must have brought the hill giant back from the dead! But where was he now?
They decided to head back to where they first encountered Booh, in the ruined tower outside the gnomes mine. Riding hard, they reached there in a few hours. As they road up the path to the hanging valley and under the tower, a gnomish head popped over the battlements and challenged them to stop. Which they did, then questioned the gnome about Booh. No, they hadn’t seen the giant since he went off with the party (but they did find his treasure, thank you very much). Inquiring after Hulgi the gnome chieftain, they were pretty much told the gnome wouldn’t be at all interested in seeing them and that they should pretty well bugger off and not come back. Once again getting the feeling they were not welcome, they turned their horses around and head back down the path. But they were still interested in finding Booh, hoping the dim witted giant could tell them what happened to Sir Janus. Then they remembered their map showed a fourth abandoned mining village, just on the other side of the mountain from the gnome mine. So turning around again, they led their horses over a low pass, and found themselves looking down on another improvised camp. This one was much cruder that Sir Janus’s old camp, consisting of just the ruined buildings covered roughly with brush to make them barely habitable. A large fire burned in the centre, and Kern crept in to get a better look. He saw gathered around the fire a motley mix of goblins, orcs and scraggy dwarves. After a short while, they were joined by a large figure emerging from one of the shelters. It was Booh. Going back to report to the rest of the party, they decided to go back to Westmist of now and wait for Erijay and Riley before contacting Booh.
At this point questioning stopped, for the giants companions had noticed his long absence, and were climbing up towards the party, calling his name ...