Flaming Gnome Attack are:
Robelar, Dragonborn Paladin (Jeff)
Tort, Gnome Warlock (Joe)
Vondella, (female) Dwarf Barbarian (Dave)
Aethelred Aquilonius, Human Ranger (Elliot)
Garbondor, Half-Orc Monk (Tim)
Fis’Ting, Goblin Thief
Mortaqui, Deva Cleric
Radlum, Half-Orc Assassin
Zoltar, Human Wizard
Adamus Aquilonius, Human Bard [dead]
Halan Barnagran, Human Swordmage [dead]
Lokus, Minotaur Avenger [dead]
Cocktoesin, Shifter Druid [dead]
Automatic Johnny, his wolf [dead]
Blade, his wolf [petrified, left for dead]
Rochester, his hawk [fled, presumed dead]
Our heroes cleaned the oni blood from their weapons and congratulated themselves on their most recent triumph. The monstrous guardian of Blackrazor was dead, but in his lushly appointed foyer remained a mirror that had turned their bold dwarven companion into a double-jointed, blue-bearded female and a mirror that appeared to be another portal to the dimension of Ctenmiir the vampire. The party decided to bundle up the reversing mirror and chuck it into their bag of holding, and cover up Ctenmiir’s mirror and place it face-down on the floor.
Tort, Aethelred and Garbonder then took off to explore Quesnef’s bedchamber, hallway and workshop, while Robelar gave Vondella’s new genitalia a thorough examination. The paladin’s extensive training in the healing arts and careful probing of Vondella’s soppressata (presumably a drarven euphamism) led him to conclude that the dwarf’s new gender was no illusion. Robelar assured Vondella that the procedure was merely a scientific one and there was nothing untoward about it, though Vondella lamented that “It’s not gay. It just feels gay.”
Meanwhile, in the hallway Tort discovered a food and water bowl, apparently belonging to a cat named “Scrimpins”. In Quesnef’s magnificent wood workshop, Aethelred laid claim to several quivers full of magical arrows, then pried loose a dozen gemstones from the former occupant’s headboard. Garbondor discovered the privy, which consisted of a gelatinous cube living at the bottom of a dark pit. In the final room, the group found a dark, chimney-like shaft leading up and out of the mountain, along with a large burned out stick of incense. They concluded that Quesnef had been using magically enhanced incense to lure various surface-dwelling creatures into one or more pit traps, which would drop the unfortunate victims directly into his lair.
With that, most of the group settled in for a rest, but two things were nagging at the inquisitive gnome warlock: why weren’t there any tools in the woodworking shop, and where was the cat? Using his ring of true seeing, he discovered a set of wondrous invisible tools dangling from the ceiling of the workshop. And using the power of his Ioun stone, he located the cat in a small chamber hidden by a secret door.
Once discovered, the door was easy enough for Robelar to lift, but just as Garbondor and Tort stepped into the room beyond, the door reached its highest point, triggering a hidden blade that cut loose the counterweight, sending the impossibly heavy stone door down toward all three adventurers. Nimble Tort stepped quickly into the room, but Robelar could not get out of the way in time. Garbondor braced himself to try and catch the stone slab, but Robelar, knowing the task was an impossible one, kicked the monk out of the way, leaving him to absorb the full weight of the stone. He was crushed to within an inch of his life, the bones of his sword arm reduced to powder.
The thunderous noise brought the rest of the group running. They braced the door with planks of wood from the workshop, and Vondal—bolstered by a giant strength potion—managed to lift the slab just enough for the group to pull Robelar out from under it. In the meantime, Tort was facing down what looked to be a very ordinary cat sitting atop a treasure chest. The warlock sensed danger, and attempted to telepathically convince the cat to leave, but to no avail. On the other side of the door, Vondella attempted to use the scent of her new dwarflady parts to lure the cat away, but somehow the creature resisted the pungent aroma. Out of ideas, Tort simply blasted the thing into a bubbling puddle of hair and necrotic goo, then claimed the treasure it had been sitting on, which included a huge diamond that radiated powerful magic.
Tort’s curiosity satisfied, and rewarded, the party settled in for some rest, but no sooner had they done so than Ctnemiir, in gaseous form, drifted out of the mirror and into the hallway. But Flaming Gnome Attack were ready. On guard duty was Aethelred, and he quickly alerted his companions to the danger. Robelar struck the mist such a mighty blow of radiant energy that the creature was forced to take corporeal form, while Vondella and Garbondor smashed the mirror to hinder its escape. The heroes then unleashed hell on the undead villain, slashing, blasting, shooting and cursing it to within a hair’s breadth of oblivion—Tort even going so far as to taunt the blood-sucker, sneering “I’ll grasp this guy’s iron tower”. But before the final blow was struck, the vampire once more turned to mist and floated up the incense chimney and into the wider world.
With no further interruptions from triggered traps or vengeful creatures of the night, the comrades finally got the rest they’d been seeking. And after breaking camp they headed back toward the valve wheel, which Sir Bluto (may he rest in peace) marked as the entrance to Keraptis’s ominously named Indoctrination Centre. As they passed the sphinx, she cowered at the sight of Tort and his two light-drinking artifacts Blackrazor and the black Ioun stone.
Turning the valve wheel to the right did indeed open a hatch to a thrumming spiral staircase below. At the bottom were two doors. Through the eastern door, the adventures found a large room lined with numerous bells and curtained on the far end by a steady flow of lava. Aethelred spied a room beyond the lavafall, and Tort theorized that the markings below each of the bells corresponded with rooms of the dungeon above. So the bells would indicate which rooms needed service, prompting one of more of the dreaded efreets to emerge from the room beyond the lavafall to do its duty. Fortunately, no bells were ringing, so no efreets were emerging.
Through the wester door was an even larger chamber, this one a combination library and laboratory. All manner of strange stonework was visible here—some rocks glowed, others absorbed light, others still seemed to bleed. At the far end of the chamber was a huge door framed by a continual lava-flow from a pipe descending from the ceiling. The doorway was open, and beyond it was a strange, luminescent darkness. Between them and the door was a large writing desk, and sitting at the desk was a small figure, scribbling away furiously. The figure perked up as they entered the room, and when he turned around, Flaming Gnome Attack beheld a familiar, if wholly unexpected, face: that of Douven Stahl, elderly gnome archaeologist and explorer, whom the group had rescued from the clutches of Lord Kalarel’s minions early in their careers.
“Master!” exclaimed Tort joyously at the sight of his old mentor. “I thought you were dead!” And he ran happily into the outstretched arms of the old gnome.