Moving swiftly down the creaking, rickety stairs of Foxglove Manor, the men steel themselves for whatever they might find in the basement of this haunted house. Gellius and Zendo have tended to the physical hurts that the heroes have suffered, and Corvus has surrounded himself with a magical aura of protection.
Descending the stairs into the basement, the heroes find a large kitchen, littered with rat droppings. Ominous cracks appear in some of the basement walls. Searching carefully, the men find a very fine silver dinner set and a dozen crystal decanters. They also locate a loose brick in the chimney, which conceals a nook containing a clay urn. Opening the urn carefully, the men find a few violet garnets and some dried pine cones. They spend a good deal of time trying to work out the significance of this discovery.
Gellius explores further, and enters a room which was probably the quarters for the staff, but it is empty save for a few bunks and a single chair. Zendo then goes to explore another door, which Corvus predicts to lead to the pantry. Instead, it leads to a pantry full of rats! Hundreds of stinking rats swarm out of the pantry, and all over the dismayed bard. Quick action by the men swiftly scatters the swarm of rats, which flee into the cracks in the walls, leaving behind only a foul, stinking room littered with fur and rat droppings.
The men open the next door more cautiously, but find only an empty wine cellar, the floor littered with broken glass. Searching carefully, Zendo finds a hidden compartment in the back wall of the top shelf, which conceals eight bottles of fine wine from the Vigardeis vineyard in Cheliax.
Down a long hallway, the heroes come to a door of iron, locked securely. Hikage produces the copper key, and unlocks the door. Opening the door reveals a workshop of some sort, with books and iron bird cages on a workbench on one wall. On the opposite wall are two stained-glass windows, though the men know this room is underground! One depicts Vorel Foxglove drinking a brew of greenish fluid, and the other depicts Vorel in a triumphant pose, arms raised, but in a state of advanced decay, as his lower body swirls into smoke and spirals into a seven-sided box. Closer inspection of the windows reveals that they are chiseled out of the cliff face and look out onto the gulf as well. Corvus examines the books, but they are so mildewed and fragile that it is difficult to even turn the pages, though he can tell that someone had made frequent notes. Gellius looks at the cages, finding each of the to be holding one dead, but clearly diseased rat.
As the druid examines the cages, he is suddenly drawn to the books, and begins flipping through them quickly, tearing the fragile pages and smearing many to mush. As Corvus protests, Gellius suddenly stiffens as a flood of images wash through his mind. As if depicted in the stained-glass windows, he sees Vorel Foxglove research previous liches, gather the components for his own potion, and construct his own phylactery. The vision culminates in Vorel drinking his own transformative potion, and doubling over as his body began to rot away. Gellius is overwhelmed with Kasandra’s shame that her husband could be capable of such an act, but is able to fight through the compulsion to find Lorey and flee the house.
Zendo examines the iron birdcages further. Though finely crafted, they do not appear to be magical or trapped. Each birdcage has a lockplate marked with a pig with a mouthful of lockpicks peering at a keyhole, and lableled “Pug’s Contraptions – Magnimar”.
Another door leads out of the room, and the men follow it down two sets of stairs to a single, ominous room. A foul stink of rotting meat wafts upwards on a cold breeze from a pit in the center of the room. Piles of stone, dirt, and ruined pickaxes line the edges of the room, and an ancient set of stone stairs spirals down the pit into blackness. When Zendo sets foot into the room, he is suddenly assailed by a vision of a sweaty, filthy, wild-eyed Alden Foxglove frantically digging away at the stones of this room, and knows that he is somehow the cause. As Aldern breaks through the floor, revealing the ancient steps, a horde of ghouls emerges from the darkness and seizes him. Zendo senses the ghouls turning towards him next, but quickly shakes off the hallucination.
The men cautiously descent the ancient stairs, entering into a limestone cavern dripping with moisture. Black and blue mold grows in spiralling patterns on every surface, and rubble and bones litter the floor. A deep, rhythmic sound, almost like breathing, echoes through the cave through tunnels to the north and west. The heroes decide to explore the most recent looking tunnel, and discover dangerous yellow mold, as well as a magical pick. Corvus carefully burns a safe path through the mold, and the heroes advance into a small chamber, but are ambushed by ghouls hiding in the darkness beyond. Ragnar slices one ghoul in twain with his sword, but is paralyzed by another. Other ghouls move to flank the men, circling through the tunnels to emerge behind them. Corvus quickly burns the remainder of the yellow mold to keep an escape route open, as Hikage and Gellius, and a summoned wolverine, quickly dispatch the ghouls. However, the commotion attracts more of the foul undead, but Hikage avoids their diseased touch and strikes two down in a flurry of fists. The other ghouls are brought down by the men, including a recovered Ragnar.
One of the ghouls has a crushed skull, with a small stone wing embedded in it. The men are confused at first, but eventually realize that this ghoul must have once been a man in the study with Aldern’s wife. Not only did Aldern choke his wife to death, but he must have also struck down this man. The heroes aren’t sure how the victim became a ghoul afterwards, but now they understand the murder scene in the study more clearly. Aldern must have ambushed his wife and her ‘lover’ in that room.
Deciding that they do not wish any more surprises in the tunnels, the men retrace their steps to make sure there are no more ghouls lurking in the tunnels to their rear. To their dismay, there is one: a skaveling, a massive, ghoulish dire bat. As they enter its cavern, it swoops down upon Hikage, biting him viciously, and the monk succumbs to the ghoulish poison and collapses, paralyzed. The skaveling then strikes swiftly against Ragnar, nearly biting him in half. Corvus quickly sets it aflame, and Gellius smites it with lightning, before Ragnar rallies and chops it down with his sword. The men treat their wounds and carefully search the cavern. They find a narrow exit through the well leading up to the old servant’s quarters, as well as several corpses. One of the bodies is equipped with some gold and jewelry, as well as a magical hat of disguise and a adamantine longsword. Recognizing the odd combination of unusual items, as well as a missing hand, Corvus realizes that the body is that of Shaz“Redshiv” Bilger, a bandit responsible for dozens of raids along the Lost Coast over the past decade. The men decide to present his head (and gear) in Magnimar in hopes of a reward.
Exploring further, the men find another chamber filled with gnawed, cracked bones, too damaged to identify as human, and then enter into the vent, a cathedral-like cavern. The roof arches high overhead, and the floor drops to a pool of foamy seawater thirty feet below. The surging waters produce the rhythmic sounds heard in the caverns. A steep stone ledge spirals down the interior of the vent to the waters below, glistening with moisture and mold. A stone door is visible across the vent, halfway down the slope.
More disturbing are the giggling, rotting goblins which emerge from the shadows and crannies of the vent. The goblins are pale and moist, their clammy flesh loose and rotting. A horrible stench fills the air as the tiny ghasts caper to the attack. Ragnar charges forward, almost loosing his footing, and slices one in two with a mighty swing. Hikage carefully steps forward and trips one of the ghastly little monsters, but it clings tenaciously to the slippery surface. Gellius rushes forward to the attack and looses his footing. Sliding over the edge, the druid grunts with pain as he slams into the stone and slides into the surging waters, which quickly close over his head. Zendo bravely steps forward to duel with the ghouls, but their claws quickly paralyze him and he slumps to the ground. Gellius emerges from the surf battered and soaked, but not defeated. Between Corvus’s hasty incantations against undead, and the swords of Hikage and Ragnar, the ghastly goblins are dispatched, and all that remains is for the men to carefully make their way to the stone door…