Once back at the hole in the floor everyone was able to climb down the rope the fifteen feet to the lower level except for Jobi who ended up landing on her butt. It was obvious that no one had traversed these halls in a very long time for the dust and dirt on the floor was very thick and undisturbed (except for the party's footprints and Jobi's butt print). So they took a look down the hallways and found that there were three doors in the area plus a small corridor turned the corner and continued on. Blackwell decided that he was going to check out all three doors before anything else was done and discovered that none of these door were trapped, but all of them were swollen as if they had soaked up a lot of water over the years and were obviously going to be difficult to open.
So Kel got out his crowbar and him and Asphodel proceeded to pry open the first door in the hall. With the use of some muscle, they got the door open and beyond was the castle's formal dining room, complete with a grand table, lots of chairs, and petrified foods on the tarnished tabled ware. Everything was scattered about the room. A thorough search only revealed that the place settings, 12 in all, were made of solid silver and would be worth quite a bit once the tarnish was removed. One of the other doors in the hallway also led into this room so they left that one closed and gathered up all the silverware and made their way down the hall.
The next door to be opened led into what was once the main entrance to the castle. The main double doors were smashed off their hinges by the force of the castle sinking hundreds of years ago and more than half of the large chamber was filled with dirt, mud, and rocks, which left no way to exit the castle into the cavern. Also contained in this chamber was a broken statue of some wizard, presumably Holifax, and many bones, weapons, and armor sticking up through the mud covered entrance. A detect magic revealed that a magic short sowrd and magic halberd were among the many ancient weapons littering the area but nothing more.
The third door opened revealed the kitchen and pantry of the castle. The group cautiously entered and Kel went to look around the corner into the pantry to make sure nothing was hiding there. So he was not surprised to see two ravenous rat swarms coming out of the stonework looking for their next meal. It was at the same time that a poltergeist manifested right in the middle of the group, scaring Jobi and Kel down to their cores and they ran out of the room as fast as they could. This left the remaining four to deal with all three threats. Blackwell went after the rat swarms since he had no idea how to attack the poltergiest which was not only incorporeal but also invisible at the moment. Unlucky for him, he got so excited while trying to attack the swarms with his mace that he managed to swallow his tongue, stunning himself as he tried to disloge his tongue from his throat. This gave the swarms a great opportunity to feast on his flesh unhindered, which in turn, gave him their disease of filth fever.
The battle with the poltergeist was difficult but through the efforts of Zerak (using his burning hands and holy water), Zola (holy water and swinging that greatsword of hers), and Asphodel (holy water), they were able to finally guess the locations of it as it moved around the room telekinetically throwing old, rusty objects at them. And the rats were eventually done in with a combination of acid splash spells and a few weapon smashings (rat pate anyone?).
Around the corner of the hallway, they came upon the last door on the level. Plus at the end of the hallway, they noticed water and mud seeping out of the cracks along the floor and partially up the walls. Thye surmised that it must be from that tower where they had fallen into the stagnant water and muck where the ghouls were and ignored the area. The last door revealed an old baracks room. All the furniture had already been ransacked and was now rotting away. Nothing of any use was found in the mess. So now our heroes decided that they need to go out the window of the tower into the cavern beyond to continue their search for the elusive recipe book.
Tieing a couple ropes together, Blackwell was the first to descend. He grip on the acient tower wall slipped when he was nearly at the bottom of the tower, but didn't suffer any damages from it. Jobi was tied up with another rope and lowered down so she wouldn't have to actually climb down - a skill that is sorely lacking for her as was displayed again when the group had to climb up a rope to get out of the lowest level of the castle (she had to be lifted and pulled up out of the hole for the entire 15 feet). soon everyone except Zerak and Asphodel was down. Asphodel then dismissed her eidolon and jumped into the party's newest bag of holding. Zerak grabbed the bag and jumped out the window and used his feather fall ability to safe land on the ground sixty feet below, thereby avoiding having to climb down a rope entirely. Once on the ground, Asphodel was let out of the bag and then summoned her eidolon back again.
Once on the ground, they saw another tower. This tower was knocked over on its side but looked to be intact. Once they reached the base of the tower, they saw that a trap door was 20 feet up the wall (which in fact was the floor of the tower level). Blackwell climbed up the wal and opened the trap door to look inside the room. There was no evidence of any creatures, living or otherwise, so he jumped in and looked through the room's contents. THese were mainly battered and rotted furniture items and nothing stood out as valuable. The stairs to the next level of the tower were going up the side wall to a landing that had a closed door. There would be no way of actually climbing the stairs in a normal sense which meant that either everyone will have to climb up and down ropes just to get to each room or some other way would have to be found. Thinking of ways to get the entire party, they came up with the idea of smashing through the wooden floors (now actually the walls) at their weakest points. Kel was able to determine that point using his knowledge of engineering and it didn't take very long for the party to smash a hole through the wall large enough to allow everyone to squeeze into the room. They repeated this process for the next level, where they found another door to a room on the level. After everyone was in, they opened that other door and 4 giant spiders came at them with webs flying and fangs chomping. Blackwell and Kel ended up getting the brunt of the web attacks but that didn't slow the party down too much and shortly after the battle started, it was finished, our heroes triumphant once again.
The next wall gave way to the maces and hammers of the group in a similar fashion as the other walls and soon they were all in what was once a very elegant and expensive bedroom, albeit everything was in a jumble and rotting away. This time a detect magic search uncovered a magic dagger among the rubble of an old bed, but nothing else of value was found. So when it came time to move on to the next level, Kel was absolutely sure he found the weakest spot in the wall and Blackwell started to hack away at it. In only a few moments it was painfully clear that Kel was abit off the mark and probably found the one spot that was still as strong as the day it was built. So moving over a few feet proved to be what was needed and soon they had a small hole in the wall that revealed light shining through from the other side. This being the first light they encountered at all in this buried tower-castle complex, the party paused for a moment to peer inside. They saw a couple of skeletons standing guard with shortbows and upright tables, and book shelves with the books neatly arranged - obviously done after the tower had settled on its side after the Spellplague hit. Jobi tried to zap one of the skeletons with a magic missile but it was just absorbed, doing no damage to the skeleton at all! And Zerak used his ranged touch attack with his doll and it appeared to do some damage but didn't destroy the skeleton as was sort of expected. This lead the party to just go ahead and break open the hole in the wall large enough to pass through. But before they entered, Zola cast a hide from undead spell on Asphodel, Kell, and herself, so sneaking in unnoticed would be easier, so the theory went anyway.
The skeletons with the shortbows didn't budge from their spots as the three walked in, but when they peeked around the corner of the bookshelf sticking out in the middle of the room, they heard a skeleton speak. It was one sitting at a table with a small leather bound book in his hands and he said, as if the hide spell had no effect whatsoever, "Welcome. Are you intruder or visitor?" Kel, taken aback at first, decided on opting for the "visitor" status and the skeletal figure asked the party to join him and have a seat. Everyone was quite nervous about this development, except for Zerak, who seemed quite excited and entered the room very quickly to get a seat at the table. Zerak's training led him to believe that the creature seated before them was a crypt thing and that it could teleport its enemies away and be quite formidible in combat, especially with the four skeletons with the short bows, a couple more skeletons that were blood and gore soaked, plus what looked like a skeleton champion with a greatsword in the room to back the crypt thing up.
He asked about the outside world and how Luskan and the arcane Brotherhood survived the Spellplague and if the party had any books that he could trade for, being very bored without new material to read. The adventurers told him some about the outside world and gave him some books to look at to see if they might be worthy of a trade for the recipe they were looking for. The crypt thing took special interest in Zerak, offering an apprenticeship if he would go out in the world and bring him materials he needed for his research. But when the group started talking about a recipe book, the crypt thing became very agitated and aggressive, telling them to, "Leave now or die!" The situation quickly deteriorated at this point and he used his teleportation ability and was able to send Zerak and Blackwell completely out of the tower when the battle began.
The ensuing battle was very difficult for the party to win since the crypt thing was so resistant to normal weapon damage. Jobi's magic missiles came in very handy during this altercation, but unfortunately for her, made her a prime target for the crypt thing and she was severely wounded multiple times, nearly dying in the process if Zola hadn't healed her a couple times. Asphodel and Kel were taking on as many foes as is possilbe to help keep them away from the less hardy members. The skeletons shooting arrows into the group became very annoying since they seemed to concentrate all their fire on the same targets each round. And it took several rounds for Zerak and Blackwell back into the tower room to help with the battle. But as soon as they did get back into the fray, the tide began to change in their favor. And soon thereafter, with Zerak using his doll and magical attacks and Blackwell's sneaky bow shots, along with the constant wearing down of the other foes by Zola, Asphodel, Kel, and Jobi, they finally triumphed without any party member dying. After the battle, our heroes started gathering up all treasure they could find along with as many books that they could stuff into their bags. Then thoughts turned to getting out of this place and to the surface.
Our group's adventures will continue in two week's time. Until then, Happy Halloween, and don't let the banshees bite...