Back into the chateau!
The party followed a lead from a pair of foreigner dwarves encountered many months before, Odd and Gathring, who had originated from portals deep in the heart of the Chateau d'Ambreville and were cut off from their dwarven company. An enchantress, Evangelista, was willing to sponsor their expedition, if they found some extra help. That extra help would be the Company of Crossed Swords (B-Team Edition).
Pritchard, suspicious of this deal, conversed with Evangelista and cross-referenced the Company's charter in discussion with Blanchfleur de Marais. It seemed Evangelista de Sylaire was in truth from the twisted house of Ambreville, bent on recovering her ancient birthright.
The company took her up on her offer, perplexed how otherwise to help the planar dwarves without semi-entering a contract with the Ambreville harridan. As enticement, the enchantress ladled over the party several potions and a quiver's worth of magical arrows. As bizarre accompaniment, she insisted a 7-foot naked stone golem with a glowing-disk-in-block head follow them, along with its wheedling gobling handlers, who wore sinister 'guillotine collars' around their necks.
After saying hello to their old orc friends of the Burning Brand, the party descended to the second level and beyond of the dungeons, with great trepidation. First they passed by one of the glowing, windy portals the party had discovered previously. These enter, it seems, into a bottomless, cloudy plane of air, where the portal stands on a floating island of grass, with other portals not far in the floating distance. A spike was sunk into the ground, with a stretch of rope draped from it, in case another portal is entered and the distance thereby gauged.
They went down to the fourth landing of the Grand Stair, where they stared creepily at a web and cocoon-filled corridor, while they had Odd and Gathring chip a message to their compatriots on the wall. The same was done on the third floor.
After a fruitless trip back to Malinbois, they returned and sought to find any trace of the dwarves on the first floor, heading beneath the North Ward.
They encountered a clutch of goblins eating an overturned spider. Their threats to bring Cutflesh, their leader, only bolstered the party, who attacked the bugbear and slept the minions. The bugbear was chased by a Rusty Buckles "Bestow Fear" spell, and he was found cowering beneath a desk. He was, it seems, a scholar, hoping to be a mage.
After killing the helpless goblins and cajoling the hands-tied Cutflesh into leading them to another group of goblins he knew about - the Night Goblins they had heard of before, rising toward the surface after the gnolls were vanquished - they marched southward back toward the gallery of the Serpents Tower.
Here they fought a room and corridor battle with around seven Night Goblins and their eerie mistress, a magic-casting she-bugbear named Hageater. Cutflesh sought the opportunity to flee and was struck down en route.
The fight went poorly, but was eventually won, although Rusty was clipped near death in trying to protect Pritchard, and Hageater used her own Sleep spell to temporarily knock out several of the fighters and a Charm Person to render Hop-Frog aimless for the entire battle. She also weilded a Wand of Light, spraying confounding brilliance into the eyes of the hapless invaders, making the combat very difficult. Eventually a Web, cast by Pritchard, impeded her and she was destroyed.
Before entering the Chateau, a letter arrived for Martin. The decision to open and read it was reached with a rapid, unanimous vote. The text of the missive was as follows:
Tracked V through Occupied Territories. Traced to TOEC. Mission complete. - Z.
Losses and Loot
The party slew five shadows, sixteen night goblins and the night bugbears Cutflesh and Hageater. For treasure, they gathered 161gp, 20sp, 5cp, a fine silver and jet badge depicting a crowned black unicorn, some crude jewelry (two silver bangles, seven gold bangles and a gold torc), a wand of light, an ivory tube containing two spell scrolls, a black glass vial containing an unknown liquid, a spellbook, a few crumpled-up pages of magical notes, and a variety of other curios, such as thirteen assorted books, a silver candelabrum, a winged silver helm, a sword adorned with elvish runes, a foot-long scale model of a sailing ship, a brass lantern, a human skull, several labeled bottles of earth and pebbles, a plaster cast of a cloven hoofprint, a dismantled mahogany desk, and a wax-encrusted severed human head.
For creatures defeated and treasures earned over the course of the session, the party members each received 487xp.