The party rested and continued south into the stronghold. They tried throwing some chairs into the first room, enchanted with a light spell. Nothing happened, so they entered.
Upon entering the room, they encountered a trio of ghostly spirits that hailed them. The spirits, a human claric, a dwarf paladin, and a female elf wizard, introduced themselves as former adventurers slain in this place, Valrog the Brute, Sir Terris and Mendara the Mystic. The spirits said they have been tasked with providing information to heroes that prove themselves worthy. The party attempted to impress the spirits, but ultimately failed. Nonetheless, the ghosts gave some advice:
This place is the Proving Grounds, a testing place for worshipers of the demon lord Baphomet. You must find four items: a knife, a mask, a bell, and a book. You must place each of these items on one of four circles of runes found in this complex. The items must be placed on the runes at the exact same time. Three of the items are held within chambers built to test Baphomet’s worshipers. You can find these chambers to the north, west, and south of where we now stand, through these eastern double doors and then through another set of double doors that leads to the west.
The ghosts then disappeared. The party continued on their way finding a complex of connected chambers – all empty, but with sets of double doors leading out of the complex in all directions: north, south, east and west. The farthest south doors intrigued the party as the doors were large and bore a minotaur head sculpture, and no visible means of opening them. The party ultimately mapped the entire empty complex, noting the four locations of the rune circles. The most interesting features were a river of blood perpetually running from an altar in the eastern-most chamber. A prison area full of manacled skeletons of sacrifices in the southeast. A room containing four different and different-colored pools in the southwest – one of which gave the drinker resistance against poison for a limited time. A statue gallery room to the west containing some old stone minotaur statues. And finally a large chamber in the center of the complex featuring a 15′×15′ well of unfathomable depth in the middle, and a pair of altars to the north and south.
Ultimately, the party entered a pair of double doors accessible from the prison – this led them to a room full of hideous pillars engraved to look like piles of living creatures stacked from floor to ceiling. Then the party realized the columns were actually moving – arms were squirming and faces contorting. One of the pillars howled an alarm, and a group of 5 Evistro demons and another Bar-lgura demon attacked the party. The fight was long and difficult, needing to contend with magical effects generated by the pillars as well as the demons. Eventually, the party emerged victorious from the melee, and Despair managed to make it to the rear of the chamber and grabbed the bell with no clapper sitting on the altar. Upon attempting to activate the magical power of the bell, spikes shot out of the handle and impaled Despair’s arm, attaching itself, and a clapper magically appeared. Upon ringing the bell, members of the party found they were filled with rage temporarily, but as there was nothing to fight, the sound ultimately had no effect. Despair was able to remove the bell from his arm and heal himself shortly thereafter.
The session ended here, with the party resting in the ghost room, and planning to head through the north set of doors next session, having recovered two of the four artifacts the ghosts requested the party to recover: the bell and the book.