Having been given a place to rest inside Undermountain’s Dungeon Level, the party began making more extensive forays, looking for clues to The Calling. They encountered a number of dangerous encounters during these incursions.
The first significant battle they fought occurred upon a rope bridge overlooking a wide but shallow natural chasm that carved its way through the man-made dungeons. While on the rope bridge, Tenri Taverick was attacked and grappled by flying darkmantles, monsters that resembled flying tentacled octopi. Because of this attack, as well as the earlier assault by Squammulsh, and a random encounter by a roper, Tenri began to develop a phobia of creatures with tentacles: an unfortunate condition given the frequency they tended to encounter tentacled aberrations.
The second major encounter fought by the party came in a narrow corridor coated by a few feet of oily water. In this hall, the party twice encountered a type of undead known as “dreads” under the control of a flameskull-lich. The second encounter was particularly pitched but the party managed to defeat the dreads and forced the flameskull to retreat.
Eventually, the man-made dungeons gave way to a more dwarven make of cavern. In these tunnels, the party found a crypt of a long-dead Dwarf-King and his generals. It was here that the flameskull-lich – Brainburn – was making his lair. The party narrowly defeated Brainburn, located his phylactery and destroyed it, thus annihilating the flameskull once and for all.
The party located a pair of portals in this area of the Dungeon Level. One was closed, and they would later learn from Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun, the famed Arch-Mage of Waterdeep, that this portal only opened on the night of a New Moon. When that happened the portal’s glow would turn from blue to green, and could be used to travel to a faraway Forest Kingdom, a haunted forest known as Myth Drannor.
The second portal, which could be used by walking through an archway backward, seemingly led to the second level of Undermountain. The party has not yet attempted to use the portal however.
The party fought another round of creatures including more ropers, some juvenile grells (and thus more tentacled horrors for Tenri), and a Summoning Ooze and its spider bodyguards.
Finally, the party came upon The Falling Stair. This location was actually an entryway to the Citadel of the Bloody Hand – a preserve of living spells that escaped the influence of Halaster during recent troubles. The spells are commanded by the former apprentice of Halaster known as Jhesiyra Kestellharp, who has been transformed into a living spell herself – an arcanaweave.
Jhesiyra had no interest letting the party cross into her territory, into the Citadel itself, but she was impressed by their tenacity and cleverness in deciphering the puzzle of the Falling Stair. Having circumnavigated the deadly magical trap that covered the stair, she sent a pair of living fireballs their way, which the party summarily defeated. At this point, she decided to quit teasing them and offered them a treasure, one which particularly enticed Dog, because the circumstances of its offering eerily matched the vision he had received during the Calling. Dog, because of his nature, was extremely suspicious, but he did eventually follow through on the specifics of his vision by reaching his hand into the spell-weave that was Jhesiyra. When he withdrew his hand in it was a magic ring.
The ring, which had to be identified by Khelben, was in fact one of the legendary Horned Rings, given to each of Halaster’s apprentices. Fashioned by Halaster, these iron rings had pairs of tiny curved horns curling out and back toward the wearer. Only eight horned rings were known to exist, and nearly all were accounted for among Halaster’s ex-apprentices. Jhesiyra Kestellharp had one in her possession, but it vanished centuries ago along with her.
During this time, Brutram, the Druid of their party, had begun experiencing strange and disturbing dreams. During these dreams, Brutram would see himself, through someone elses eyes, bloodied and dismembered. He would look down and see hands that were not his own. Upon waking he would awake in a cold sweat, but he would also feel more empowered, as though he was physically stronger. Then sometime later, during his waking hours, he began to notice ripples and tremors that would flow through his skin around his hands. These strange occurrences have begun to worry Brutram that there is something wrong with him. Khelben has promised to try and find an expert druid, who might be able to find out what could be possibly wrong with Brutram, but it would take some time, for such a person to arrive.