After a fruitless search of the Tree Altar room, Raúguey and Locky start to backtrack, intending to go through the Grate Room and then down the West Hall. As they pass the pile of stores, Locky tests the liquid on the floor, which seems to be water [clear, odorless]. He pokes around in the crate of dried meat, and is about to nibble a sample, when he notices an ear. A human ear. It's shriveled up and dried out, but it's definitely an ear. "No jerky for me," he mutters, half-gagging. He lets the crate cover drop and follows Raúguey into the West Hall.
Unwilling to engage the lizards (at least unwilling without Raúguey and Locky), the south party heads north toward the Grate Room. They meet up with the wandering pair in the West Hall, and each side fills in the other. Raúguey seems quite interested in seeing the lizards and immediately grabs one of the trog corpses to do a little more feeding. Durego and Ohwatoo mutter among themselves about wasting time, but Rawon and Mordikarr shrug and grab the other corpse.
The party goes back to the door to the lizard room [officially dubbed Reptile House], and Ingvild listens for a moment, then shrugs. He and Maro take position at the door and the thief unlatches it, opens it a tiny bit, and peers through. Then he pushes it wider. The light spilling in shows a large, dark stain on the floor where the first corpse was, with smears and streaks of the same dark substance leading to the center W and the NW exits from the chamber. Only one lizard is in sight, stalking around the N end of the room. "Quick, toss in a corpse!" says Maro, nervous eye on the now-stopped lizard.
Raúguey complies, using his great strength to heave the remains most of the way across the room. They come to rest against the W door. He grabs his blade and watches in fascination as the lizard charges the new target with surprising speed, ripping at it with claws and fangs. Motion at the middle opening in the W wall catches his eye, and he sees a second lizard peering into the main room, a lower leg and foot protruding from its mouth.
There's a sick squelching, tearing noise from the corpse as the lizard rips an arm free from the remains and gulps it down. Rawon, on guard behind the others in the hall, bow at the ready, says, "I'm glad I prefer ranged weapons."
"Quick, let's toss in the other corpse." Raúguey and Mordikarr grab the third trog and toss it through the door, a bit to the NE. As they do, the third lizard makes an appearance via the NW opening, scales glistening in the dim light. The second lizard tilts its head back and finishes swallowing its appetizer, then the two move forward. One catches sight of movement at the door. It freezes in place and stares at the group with yellowish slit-pupil eyes. Then it charges, claws clattering on the stone floor.
"Ack!" Raúguey slams the door, and then braces it with his shoulder.
THUD. The lizard runs into the door, which shudders, but holds. Ingvild waves for quiet and puts an ear to the wooden panel. After a minute he says, "Sounds like it moved away. I can hear movement in there, but it's not very clear."
"Let's go get the other trogs Mordikarr. It shouldn't take too long," Raugúey is already headed for the West Hall, and Mordikarr and Locky follow.
"We'll stay here," says Dagmarten, indicating himself and Ingvild.
"I don't know why we're going to mess with a bunch of lizards. Clearly they were used in The Pit. Just dumb animals. I'm going to look down the stairs here, just a bit." Durego, lantern in one hand, mace in the other, starts down the broad steps, pausing every few to listen and look. Ohwatoo trails along behind him, curious to see where the downward passage leads.
Rawon looks at Maro and shrugs. "I'll go with Raúguey and the others. Keep an eye out here." Maro nods and takes station between the E doors and the stairs.
Tesso whispers, "Is it always like this?"
Maro smiles, "No, sometimes it's actually disorganized."
The trog group goes N up West Hall, then cuts through Trog Den into the angled hall. Raúguey stoops to search the corpses, but Locky says, "Maro and I already searched these." The big guy nods and starts dragging one of the dead creatures back to the Reptile House. Mordikarr does the same for the second, and Rawon and Locky manage the third. Slow but steady progress, as...
Durego descends 20... 40... 50... "This goes quite a ways," whispers Ohwatoo, peering back up the stairs to the dim light of the lantern at the top of the stairs.
"Just a... ah, a landing." Durego peers at the small 5x10 foot landing, door to the south. "What's this?" he mutters, more to himself than Ohwatoo. There's some sort of narrow opening in the W wall. He motions for silence, then draws his cloak over his lantern and waits a few moments to let his eyes adjust to the dark. The momentary silence is broken by the sounds of clattering armor and heavy sliding noises from above.
"Fool of a fighter," mutters Ohwatoo. "Hear anything?"
Durego uncovers his lantern and shakes his head. "Not from down here. Didn't see any light either." He retreats until his lantern-light just illuminates the door and landing. "We'll wait here a bit. No sense climbing all those stairs." He shakes his lantern. "Gonna have to refill this soon."
Upstairs the trog-brigade gathers at the door to the Reptile House. Ingvild listens, and then shrugs. Raúguey, backed by Mordikarr, opens the door as quietly as he can and peers into the room. Empty. There are more drag marks leading to the two NW openings, but no sign of corpses or lizards. "Let's toss in another," whispers Raúguey, and he joins Mordikarr in heaving another corpse into the room, this time aiming for the NW openings.
Nothing happens for a few moments, and Raúguey is about to move into the chamber, when a head peers out of the S opening. The fighter freezes in place, watching. The lizard crawls over to the corpse, claws it a couple of times, then bites down on a leg and starts to drag it back NW. The dragging noises become irregular as the lizard disappears, and there is a distinct *splash* followed by silence.
Lather, rinse, repeat. The second corpse disappears in the same manner. "I think that was a different lizard," whispers Raúguey after the second corpse disappears. "Different banding pattern."
The third corpse goes untouched.
Mordikarr nods, "Lizards eat much. Sleepy now. Maybe we go look."
A hasty discussion follows, leading to Mordikarr, Ingvild, and Raúguey taking point. Locky and Rawon will take position just inside the door and watch the two openings for movement. The point group will go to the remaining corpse and toss it into the middle opening and retreat to see what happens. If no lizards come out, they'll start checking the open areas. Maro sends Tesso down to relay the plan to Durego and Ohwatoo, and the stranger decides to stay with the pair near the bottom of the stairs. Maro and Dagmarten maintain a watch in the hall near the doors to West Hall.
The plan proceeds. The point group enters the room, grabs the corpse, tosses it onto the stairs down, and retreats a ways. It remains undisturbed, then is dragged out of sight. More splashing.
"Let's check the open areas, leave the lizards for last," whispers Raúguey, and the others nod. Avoiding the scattered bones and scat on the floor as best they can, they start with the S opening, an open door leading into a small chamber. Broken furniture, a table or cabinet, and a bed frame, are all that they find. They skip the closed W door for the moment, and check the NE door, which leads to what must have been storage of some sort. There are shelves and a series of hooks on the wall.
"Lizards or door?" whispers Ingvild.
"Door. See if we can open it quietly."
The thief nods and does his thing while the others watch. It's a simple mechanism and there are no obvious traps, so it's the work of a few moments to open it. The door leads into a short right-angle corridor, ending in another door. "Keep watch in the room," says the thief. "The floor here is thick with dust, it's probably empty." Raúguey and Mordikarr stay at the outer door.
Still no movement from the lizard room. There's a bit of noise from the passage, and a faint splashing to the north. Ingvild returns a few moments later. "Nothing. Just an empty room and broken furniture. Let's look in the last room, then we'll pull out and regroup." The others nod.
The two N openings in the W wall are short stairs leading down, which quickly vanish into water. The log-like shapes of two of the lizards can be seen floating in the brownish water, and one of the trog corpses is floating in a corner. Sharp-eyed Mordikarr points to the edges of the room. "Deep there. Maybe pools or holes?"
The lizards seem content to hang out in the water, satiated by their recent feast. As the trio retreats they scan the floor, looking for anything valuable or interesting, but all they see are bones and scat. The bones are a mix of beast and humanoid, some large, some small. Most are cracked and broken. Seeing the group pulling out of the room, Maro calls down the stairs, "They're coming out. Come on up and let's see what they found."
Durego, Tesso, and Ohwatoo climb the stairs, and the group gathers in the Well Room to discuss options.