After fighting off the welcoming party, the party continued on through the maze of twisty little passages until they came to the area under the smoke-snake infested plaza, where they'd previously detected a bunch of portals -- maybe five. There was a large circular gear-shaped door that seemed securely locked, and a smaller door that led to an open stairwell in one corner of a large, smoke-filled room, that led down 30 feet to a pool of murky water. Scouting around quietly and aerially, Artican was able to tell that behind the large gear door was a corridor with open windows overlooking the 'lake'. There was also a large structure hanging over the water a little farther down the hall where they'd found the door to the stairwell.
So they decided to step onto the stairwell and head downstairs. The stairs were metal, so this was not stealthy. A smoke mephit appeared to check on the noise, and Ironhoof (still in velociraptor form) leapt on it and pulled it down into the water. This was REALLY not stealthy, and a bunch of enemies flew out of the smoke and attacked.
For some reason, Ironhoof had had his pet hover over where he'd fallen into the water, which made it the primary target for three bards (a fourth out of sight singing a stirring tune) and four smoke snakes throwing shuriken. The dragonne wasn't killed instantly, somehow, and flew back to Artican to beg for healing. The mephits followed, and took it down (but didn't quite kill it) just after it was healed, and took out Lilia's Eidolon for good measure. But then, before their random target selection could move on to actual party members, Alex opened up with a barrage of sneaky snipes from the side corridor which she'd climbed into while Ironhoof was playing around in the water. The surviving mephits couldn't even see where the shots were coming from, and decided to run out of line of sight of everything before the rest of them were killed.
That put them in the control room, so the smoke snakes shouted at them to open the doors and let them attack in melee, since shurikens weren't doing jack. And also they couldn't see through the smoke. Alex was ready for them as they came through the first door, into her corridor, and fired off a quick shot before dropping into the water to avoid being overwhelmed by the snakes. Before they could open the second door, Lilia summoned four acid-slime-coated demons and had them teleport into the control room to mess with the bards. The demons had trouble getting through the mephits' DR, but had DR of their own that rendered them nearly immune to the bard's annoying barrage of touch attacks.
Then the demons got their act together to start flanking, and the mephits had to run away. One of them even made it! Another managed to get the first door open, letting the snakes attack Ironhoof and the healed (again) dragonne, who'd retreated out of the water, up the stairs and into the original corridor. They did some serious damage to Ironhoof (they couldn't hit the dragonne), but then the demon pack teleported back to flank them and Ironhoof and Alex (climbing back up out of the wight-infested water)sneak attacked them to death.
Ironhoof sent the dragonne to chase down the last bard, but it got away.
Exploring the control room, they found the levers to open eight doors, of which they'd only seen two, and one of the portals to the plane of smoke, which they closed after slaughtering a surprised-looking snake monk who'd just arrived in response to the distress call from the fleeing mephit.
Then they started carefully making their way across the center room again, not wanting to risk opening the giant heavy doors.
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