After taking out the slimes, the party approached the stairwell. This spiral stairwell appeared normal -- with walls and everything. It also appeared trapped, when Heyyou took a step onto it. ASM proved to be the best at finding traps (Celeste was normally good at this, but at 12 she hadn't learned to do that yet) and about half the steps were trapped -- randomly.
So Celeste did some ritual magic and summoned a bunch of floating disks for the party to ride down the stairs, bobsled style. Just in case it was actual sledding and not 'kachunk kachunk kachunk' as the slowly levitating disks dropped down each step, they tried themselves together in a makeshift bobsled, two people on each disk. Then -- Geronimo!
...it was a bobsled ride. This was good, because the disks did somehow set off all the traps -- they were going fast enough that most of the traps missed them. They were also going fast enough that when they got to the bottom, they went careening across the room, out of control. Luckily for them, there were some helpful gelatinous cubes to break their fall. Thanks, guys!
Unfortunately, there was some disagreement over whether or not 12-year old adventurers were edible, and they were forced to destroy the cubes, mostly from the inside.
The next room was full of cats. It was a giant sphere like the X-men's radar room thing, with them standing on a ledge halfway up one wall. The walls were where the cats were, roughly sorted by color around six platform/cube combos arranged around the room (NSEWUD). Red cats, orange, yellow, blue, purple, indigo. In the center, floating in the middle, was a giant green sphere. It only had one cat -- a sphinx.
The cubes looked like magical elevators, and were covered with runes labelled 'go', so they all piled onto a cube and (after discovering that the every side of the cube was 'down', and the runes pushed the cube in the opposite direction to where they pointed) travelled to the center, where they explained their mission to the sphinx. The sphinx was unusually forthcoming, and told them to bring the six cubes along with the six cats' whiskers to the center. They noticed that there was a little statue or something on the platform they'd come from (covered by the cube, when it was back in its rest state) which had to be the whisker.
Distributing the party to the six cubes was not a problem. Driving the cubes with one person each was not a problem. Grabbing the whiskers wasn't really a problem either -- the cubes returned to their rest state very slowly, and the rune you needed to push to avoid being crushed was right next to where you'd stand if you were in danger of being crushed.
But the whiskers were attached to the platforms -- they streched out like long wires as the cubes were piloted towards the center... and the cats started swarming and climbing along them, heading for the cubes. Celeste (on the red cube, they were doing them in order) was the first to notice this -phenomenon, and thought nothing of it until she realized that the cats were going to push all the control runes and send the cube spinning wildly out of control! So she positioned floating disks around the wire where they'd form invisible cat barriers, to keep the cats at bay.
Arial used a different technique, and just blasted the cats when they tried to get close. ASM and Heyyou used a similar technique, although since Heyyou didn't have any at-will AoEs he started shaking the rope to dislodge the cats after the first batch. Beware activated a damage aura to keep the cats at bay. That left Varnix, who didn't want to hurt the cats, and decided to let them cover the whole cube -- enough cats would balance everything out, right?
That sort of worked, except that the cube was then stuck perfectly motionless, about halfway to the green orb. So he went to the rune in the direction he wanted to go and shoo'd the cats off it so that the net force was inwards... the problem being that now he was standing right where the cube would crush him. So he was eventually forced to relent and use his breath weapon to clear away the cats from that face of the cube without standing on it, letting the cube crunch the last few feet into place.
With all the whiskers connected, the sphinx cackled and proclaimed, "It is done!", and the orb became a swirling vortex which sucked the party in and dumped them in a dark cave.
They recognized the cave, although it had been in much worse shape the last time they'd been there -- it was the back entrance to the dwarven mine! They'd been sent back in time to get the root while it was still with the dwarves! The sounds of battle implied that they were not a moment too late, and they ran down the passage to the room with the antimagic pit and the bridge, which was swarming with zombies, surrounding a single dwarf, who fell as they watched.
The zombies weren't alone -- there were some goblin archers and weird arachnoid mages mixed in, who started pelting the party with arrows and spells while the zombies formed a wall. Beware, ASM, and Varnix charged into the wall of zombies to hold the line, while Heyyou charged around them and started knocking them (and one of the goblins) off the bridge, to get to the fallen dwarf. He managed to grab the dwarf and get him back behind party lines (while the party finished off the first wave of zombies and started to charge and shoot at the mages and archers), but Varnix wasn't able to save him -- he'd been horribly poisoned, and healing magic had no effect.
Varnix was busy with the second wave of zombies, so the dying dwarf was handed around and eventually ended up with Celeste, who promised to take care of him and find the root. While ASM leapt into the pit to battle what would have been the third wave of zombies if ASM hadn't killed them in place, Heyyou charged back around the bridge and out of sight to chase down the fleeing mage-arachnoids, and Beware and Arial tossed flaming death around the room at range (because they were still dazed from the annoying thunder spells the arachnoids used), Celeste tried to suck the dwarf's blood, only to realize just in time that he was poisonous.
The dwarf didn't notice the vampire bit, though, and whispered to her, "Save the root... hold it up to the cleft of the stairs, to escape!" Indeed, they did need a way to escape, since they hadn't kept the diamond backdoor key and had no way to open the back door, and fighting their way out through the mythal, with its swarm of enemies that had almost killed them at level 13, when they were level 2-6, probably wouldn't work.
So after all the enemies were dispatched, Beware dragged the dead dwarf back into place on the bridge where they'd found his bones thousands of years later, Celeste gave back one of the mithril hammers she'd looted from him so that there'd be one for them to find, and they held up the root to where the stairway down into the pit met the stairway back up out of the pit on the other side, which was (coincidentally?) where there had been a huge gap in the wall leading to the river, the first time they'd been there.
As expected, the root cracked open the wall, but instead of being flooded, they were sucked into another portal!
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