When we last saw our heroes, they were waiting below the lightning-struck tree, debating on whether to go to the cave in the northwest of the forest or to go back to town, turn in the bandit leader Moira, and report mission complete to the priest. They elect to tie Moira to the lightning-struck tree and explore the cave.
After reaching the area marked on the map, they find no such cave or opening as they had expected from the crudely-drawn map. Upon closer inspection of the surrounding area, Shiki noticed some branches that could not possibly be growing out of one of the trees. Calling Bokas over to pull on the branches, they revealed a trapdoor camouflaged with leaves on the forest floor, with a descending stone staircase.
Upon entering the entrance, it was noticed that the whole thing had been carved out from stone, and that there were lit torches providing illumination. Upon coming to a crossroads with choices left or forward, they go left and find two guards at a table. Quickly dispatching one and leaving the other unconscious and weakly tied up, they go to the room next door. There are four bandits sleeping in bedrolls around the minimal remains of a campfire (ash, soot stains). Shiki attempts a stealth kill on one of the sleeping men, but she misses and deals a painful non-lethal blow that causes him to scream and wake the others.
After this fight, and searching the people and their bedrolls for things, they enter a small hallway ending in a dead end. They go to search the dead end for secret doors or switches, but instead set off a floor-based trap and take some damage. Smarting in the body and the ego, they enter the next room. This is a very large, long room, with almost as much space as the immense room that the four bandits were camped in. On one side of the room is a statue with dragon heads spitting water into a fountain. Immediately to the side of them is a door headed in the same direction they had come from but into a different room, and there is also a door opposite them at the far end of the long room.
Thinking they can always go back and explore the farther exits, they take the nearby door. This leads to a small room with a stone dais and an ornate reddish-orange tapestry with natural motifs and arcane character strings woven into it. After both shifting and lifting the dais and finding nothing underneath, Bokas is extremely vexed when Shiki looks behind the tapestry and finds a secret door. Inside the door is a chest with several goodies, including a copy of The Revised Encyclopaedia of Halflings.
Taking the door on the far end of the long room leads to a smaller room with a statue of a hydra and one exit. After manipulating the hydra, Bokas notices some of the statue’s heads have depressible tongue levers. Working together, Bokas and Shiki find all of the potential levers and hold them down simultaneously to make a section of the wall shift aside and reveal a secret hallway. It is decided for Shiki to explore a ways into the secret hallway while Bokas investigates the apparent door.
After trying to open the door, an arrow trap pierces Bokas’ chest and does a decent amount of damage. Shiki, after confirming the hallway wraps around and leads to a descending staircase, runs back to help Bokas by picking the door lock. As soon as the door swings open, a swarm of bats attacks, which they valiantly fend off. Inside, Bokas finds a skeleton with a money pouch, a scroll that was later identified to be gentle repose, and two items of foaming plaster.
Descending the staircase, they come to an ornate, gold-leafed, jewel-encrusted double door. Bokas opens it a crack letting out a terrible squeal. A small living quarter lies beyond, with a seated woman brushing her hair at a vanity. She notices the party in the mirror’s reflection, whips around and shoots up, demanding, “Who are you? How did you get in here?” To this, Bokas replies, “Well, we killed a bunch of people…”
She howls, making their ears ring with pain and magic, and summons a dagger with which to rush at Bokas. After a gruelling fight, in which she unleashed many magical sound attacks and morphed from a beautiful woman to an ugly creature with the human skin hanging off its green flesh like tattered rags of cloth, they finally slay the monster. Bokas finds a magical set of armour stored in the room, among other things, and the two decide to spend the night in the room, using the comfortable bed to recuperate.
After an extended rest, they set out, noticing on their way out that the first bandit they had tied up was no longer around. They return to the tree and are greeted by an irate Moira, missing footwear and bleeding profusely from the shins down. She explodes with anger at them, telling them that while they were gone all night doing who knows what, all the local wildlife had come out and she had been fighting them off, with her hands still tied up. Bokas apologises and binds her wounds before taking her back to town.
Upon entering the town, the authorities greet them before getting very far, as two adventuring types escorting a half-bloodied bound woman tends to attract attention. The guard asks questions about the events of the past two days, admonishing the two in the process for tying up and abandoning for 24 hours a woman in the woods, even if she was a criminal. Bokas, feeling bad for their actions, asks the guard if they could go a little easier on her, at least not giving her the death sentence, to which the guard agrees.
Shiki and Bokas head back to the tavern, where they again find the priest, this time hanging up a sign with a reward for information about their whereabouts. He is thrilled to see them again, and rewards them with some minor magical items (a magical implement for Bokas and an Amulet of Protection for Shiki).
To celebrate the success of their mission and their newfound wealth, they hit first an appraiser, then a blacksmith, and sell non-useful equipment and buy and silver new weapons. Shiki gives the blacksmith a rusted sword she found in the cave to repair, and Bokas buys and asks to have silvered a greatsword. Both tasks would be done in about a week.