Despite Jenma’s reservations, Juma persuades the party to press on in search of Jagadamba and the missing young girls without an extended rest. Hrothgar lifts up the trapdoor and heads down the steps, followed by the others. At the bottom of the stairs, the gnoll hunts around for tracks and then heads off down the western tunnel on the trail of the Witch of Flotsam. After some time, the party come to a pair of ancient double doors. Listening intently, scrabbling and digging sounds can be heard from the other side which the dungeoneering experts in the group identify as the sound of umber hulks. Gil suggests that Hrothgar might have taken a wrong turn and the PCs double back for a while, before realising they might well have lost the trail.
Returning to the double doors, Juma picks the lock and the party enter the large chamber beyond. An umber hulk stands in the centre, close to a large well in the floor. Hrothgar charges in to attack but falls victim to the umber hulk’s confusing gaze and blunders into the well, falling 30 feet. As he tumbles down, he goes past two more umber hulks who are climbing out of the pit!
The other PCs advance, soon realising there is an illithid by the door on the far side of the room. Undeterred, Gil casts mass resistance to protect everyone from psychic damage, then moves into the middle of the chamber and unleashes a fire shroud. The second umber hulk snatches hold of Jenma as the third one stops climbing out of the well and jumps down instead to pummel the prone Hrothgar at the bottom. Ulthar heals the gnoll, then moves up to help Jenma, roaring as he smashes the umber hulk with his axe. The dragonborn uses her sorcerous wings to fly away from the monster and then slays it with acid orb. Meanwhile Gil and Juma are battling the original umber hulk and the mind flayer. Juma uses his lightning lure and seed of fire spells to move the two opponents around, while Gil actually teleports next to the mind flayer to attack him in melee. The PCs aren’t the only ones capable of teleporting though – the illithid uses its psionics to exchange places with its thrall and wraps its tentacles around Gil’s head. Luckily, he doesn’t manage to eat the wizard’s large, tasty brain and is killed soon afterwards. Then, Ulthar kills the last umber hulk left in the room and Gil uses magic missile to finish off the one Hrothgar has been trading blows with at the bottom of the well.
Hrothgar climbs out the pit, Ulthar heals everyone and the PCs loot the mind flayer’s body. Tired and low on healing surges, they settle down for an extended rest. While he is on watch, Juma notices Hrothgar tossing and turning in his sleep and muttering loudly to himself. The gnoll wakes up with a start, but refuses to answer Juma’s questions and is in a bad mood for the whole of the following day.
Rested, the PCs open the double doors leading out of the well room. Beyond are the living quarters of the mind flayer, complete with moss bed and a magical pool decorated with frescoes showing Varuna, the Sampuran god of water. Ulthar goes to pick up the glossy black stone paperweight on the illithid’s desk but realises just in time there is something “not right” about it, and leaves it well alone. Gil casts comprehend language to translate the mind flayer’s papers, discovering that the alien creature is looking for an unknown object in the tunnels below the city.
After searching for secret doors and not finding any, the PCs realise they have lost Jagadamba’s trail and return to the city above. To try and find out where the young girls have been taken, the Juma Associates decide to visit a few well-known information brokers around the Old Quarter.
Hrothgar and Juma Jh’od Ji’ad head to the Seven Jugs Caravanserai in the Caravans Ward to see Mahmood, renowned barber and notorious gossip. As he combs the tangles and lice out of Hrothgar’s fur and waxes Juma’s intimate areas, the fez-wearing Mahmood answers the PCs’ questions in exchange for 500 gp, revealing the existence of a second, darker temple to the Black Mother deep beneath the city. A halfling named Brandil Hollowreed has apparently been there and can be found in the halfling camp outside the Camel Gate.
Meanwhile, Gil, Jenma and Ulthar visit the Drake’s Rest near the Marjani Minar and talk to the alehouse drake, Kordillian, finding out much the same information for the price of a few pints of beer and cheese pastries. Just in case there is more information to be learned, Juma spends 1,000 gp on a session with Madam Firmina at the Fallen Angel – the dominatrix tells him that thuggee assassins are hunting for Brandil Hollowreed to stop him revealing any more about the Black Mother’s secret temple.
At the halfling camp, it doesn’t take long for Jenma to intimidate a hapless cheese vendor into revealing where Brandil is hiding out. But, Hrothgar senses trouble – there are several suspicious looking types wandering around the market, presumably looking for the halfling too. To create confusion, Ulthar gives the stall-holder enough money to buy all his cheese, and tells him to announce “Free cheese for everyone!”, creating a small stampede to his stall. Then, Hrothgar tries to pick a fight with one of the suspicious characters by shoving into him. When this doesn’t work, Juma tells him that he knows where Brandil is hiding and starts leading him away from the other PCs. The thug follows, along with five of his companions, with Hrothgar tailing behind. Soon it becomes obvious that Juma is leading them on a wild goose chase, and the men draw their war picks and strangle cords from their robes. Juma and Hrothgar make a run for it, and although the thuggee land a few blows, they manage to escape.
With the thuggee out of the picture, Gil, Jenma and Ulthar enter the blue and white striped tent where Brandil is hiding and quickly reassure the halfling they have come to rescue him, persuading him to climb into their bag of holding so they can smuggle him out of the camp. Back at the PCs’ apartment, Brandil says he is willing to tell the PCs how to get to the Black Mother temple once they have retrieved the urn holding his mother’s ashes from his place in the Poor Ward. The place could well be under observation by the thuggee so some kind of cunning plan may well be needed....