After resting, and once the paladin had donated a hefty sum to the local temple of Pholtus, the party decided to return once more to the Castle of the Mad Archmage.There was an interesting new twist, however. On this particular occasion, a beggar dressed in mis-matched clothing was at the drawbridge, mumbling to himself “It’s my day, it’s my day, it’s my day…” over and over. Most of the party decided to place a g.p. or p.p. into his begging bowl, but Liberus did not, realizing (through use of his scholarly skills) that one of the things that was special about that particular day was that it was special to Ralishaz “the unlooked-for”, God of misfortune. Most of the party didn’t think much of it, and went into the ruins.
Now realizing they could reach active and interesting areas without the need to pay the dwarves a toll, they descended to the second landing of the central staircase and set to work exploring. Picking up where they had left off, they explored a number of passages, finding first a room they had previously discovered, where a particularly well-organized group of orcs (the “bloody axe” tribe) forced them to retreat whence they came (albeit with no casualties on either side), and then into an octagonal chamber with a life-sized statue of an ogre (sans one arm).
Eventually, however, the twisting passages led the party to a chamber, in which was a spectral form, dressed in robes. The paladin, who had opened the door, felt a wave of fear wash over him but managed to resist it thanks to his steadfast code. When the figure started to read from an equally-spectral scroll, however, the cleric attempted to turn it, but was himself overcome with fear and took off into the maze of corridors at full speed. The paladin then attempted to turn the creature, but failed. The party closed the door, and, seeing that the undead creature was not pursuing them, set off to find the fear-inspired cleric.
Luck led them to the self-same corridor the cleric had taken. They realized this when the henchman, Salvomar, fell into a covered pit trap, luckily landing on top of the cleric rather than impaling himself on the spikes at the bottom. Soon enough the pair were brought back up to the passage and healing was given. A side-passage, obviously some sort of bypass around the pit trap, but though the presence of a secret door was detected by the elf, a full half hour was spent in a fruitless search for the mechanism to activate it.
After a little more exploration without much of note, the party decided to double-back, figuring that one of the corridors on their map would link up with the far side of the pit trap. In the resulting search, the party managed to find the home of a tribe of gorics, “sprites of the stones” as they called themselves. The party immediately turned back, figured out how the map could be reconciled, and then made off to a passage they had not previously explored.
At the end thereof, unfortunately, was a huge troll in the midst of what was some sort of ruined barracks. The party took quite a bit of punishment at the hands (and mouth) of the troll, with the paladin being brought low (and eventually returned to consciousness thanks to the savant). The troll itself was finally brought down with a massive blow by the half-orc, and the remains burned.
Unfortunately, the store was closing early that evening (a fact of which I was unaware until the owner came through saying “closing in ten minutes!”) so we hustled through the searching of the room, giving the party a huge bag of coins of mixed types, but mostly copper and silver. The party made back for the city of Greyhawk (the beggar having left at some point during the proceedings) and was safely back at the Cock and Bottle.