Jin led the four to a natural cave entrance. Once an alternate entrance to the mountain, the tunnel had not been used by the tengu in living memory because of the dangerous monsters infesting it. Other than the presence of a tengu guard post on the other end of the tunnel, Jin couldn’t tell the party what to expect.
It was decided that Jin would go ahead with the party, while Verge remained with the two prisoners, Ketchikark and the wounded tengu, to rejoin them later once the tunnels were cleared.
The cavern was the opening where a waterfall from the rift valley above cascaded into the headwater of an underground river below. It is to this waterfall that the tengu have always committed their dead, giving their bodies to the roots of the Mountain. At the waterfall’s base, though, it became clear that someone had been fishing the tengu corpses from the pool at the bottom of the falls and, from the assortment of bones and fabric scraps nearby, cannibalizing them.
Heading deeper into the caves, the first obstacle they encountered was a crevice spanned by a narrow bridge and guarded on its far side by a pack of ghouls led by a ghast. The ghouls’ paralytic touch proved ineffective on the clockworks, but the ghast’s same ability almost proved efficacious against Nameless.
From here, the natural caverns unexpectedly joined with worked passageways of geometrically cut stone, precisely laid out and marked at intersections with carved ruins of unknown origin. A recently installed crossbow trap sprung at the party upon their entry to this area.
Beyond, a wide passageway continued in a straight line, while slightly narrower cross passageways, lined with evenly spaced niches holding dust and skeletons, stretched off in both directions as far as could be seen.
Shortly after finding E7, the four came upon an intersection where a caved-in opening rejoined the natural cavern system to the catacombs. Someone had cut an open sewer trench into the catacomb floor. This trench appeared to slope downward into the natural caverns with its origins farther ahead in the catacombs.
The four decided to explore the side passage. It quickly opened into a dank cavern whose floor was broken up by several large pits full of fetid muck. An eye on a massive tentacle emerged from one of the pits to regard the party, at which point Harrow and Jin variously identified the creature as a horrid dragon or an angry elemental. The four fled, not sure how to deal with such a powerful creature.
The catacombs continued, as did the sewer trench. Further evidence that ghouls had been active in the area led the party to discover E7 Tracer Birch in a pile of ghoul bones in one of the side passages.
They then came to the apparent source of the sewer trench, a heavy door. Inside, they surprised a party of small, pallid humanoids who were wrestling to control a lone ghoul using long poles with lassos on the ends. They loosed the ghoul on the party and gave battle. The gnomes were defeated, but not before their illusionist and one other could retreat beyond the fortifications on the other side of the room.
Soon after the gnomish gate was barred against the four (now five), archers within began firing to drive them off. The five retreated into the catacombs, to a location they deemed defensible, and debated what course to follow next.