Aaron, Variel & Narsius awake to find their companions missing. The Innkeeper Toven Grimm claims they checked out at the crack of dawn, before they arose. Taking him at his word, they check out themselves and head out of town to the Crooken Kin’s campsite, where they discover their comrades never arrived.
Heading back, they spend much of the day scouring the city for their friends. Nisca they find about lunchtime, shopping in one of Tamrivena’s better clothiers. She hasn’t seen the others, however, and joins in their search. Though they come across many rumors of disapearences, most attribute them to Orc spies or raiders. Their best lead, however, comes from an old Scarzi out in the slums, who claims his daughter was kidnapped and brainwashed, and is now working in the Black Goat as a mindless barmaid!
Late in the day, as they are traveling back to the Black Goat, they are ambushed by three assailants who prove to be none other than Auric, Versithe & Ozric! The three prove no match for their former friends though, confused as they are, and the gang manages to disable their misled allies and take them prisoner. Dragging them back to the Crooked Kin’s camp where they can be tended to and watched over. The three seem to be suffering from some sort of madness or enchantment, mumbling about “He who sleeps in Darkness” over and over.
Now night, the gang heads back again to the Inn, where they find the place bustling as Selros the Black performs his tricks on-stage. When the magician asks for a volunteer, Narsius steps up, and the Selros closes him up in a box, from which he shortly vanishes! The rest of the gang charges the stage, demanding to know where their friend went, but before Selros can even answer, Aaron’s old rival the Phase Spider makes a surprise appearance! Pandemonium erupts in the Black Goat!
Selros quickly casts a spell, filling the stage and surrounding area with a thick mist, allowing him to slip from view. Aaron too disappears, whisked away to a private duel with his rival on the Ethereal Plane. Nisca & Variel climb onstage & manage to find a trap door, from which they spot Narsius fighting off three mechanical men (and winning)! The two provide supportive fire that helps Narsius fell them before dropping down themselves.
Meanwhile, Aaron finds himself fighting for his life against the amorous “Feaster in Watery Shadows,” who still hungers for his flesh (to plant her babies in, she claims)! Although poisoned and trapped on another plane, he still manages to defeat her and force her to return him to the Physical world, where he quickly rejoins his comrades in the caverns bellow the Black Goat.
Working their way through a series of secret doors, they eventually find a large cavern containing a glowing circle etched in Aklo runes, encircling an eye, and beyond, a black pillar covered in hieroglyphs. They are interrupted in their investigations by setting off a dart-trap, however, which doesn’t do them much injury, but does heighten their caution. They are also surprised to discover a rather confused Ursus stumbling out of a nearby tunnel. He tells them of how he too was ambushed when he came to meet them this morning, and only awoke when he heard them working their way through the caves.
Together they continue on exploring first a moist set of caves containing an underground river and a strange glowing pool, before heading don another tunnel containing ancient stairs leading deeper under the earth. The stairwell opens up to a small chamber lit with ever-burning torches, showing two doors and a hallway leading off to a large, vaulted chamber.
Strolling in to take a peak, Aaron & Nisca find a dark pit surrounded by more walls covered in hieroglyphs. A voice speaks in Aaron’s mind, asking “are you here to free me?” As Aaron converses with the voice, he soon senses great evil from the shadowy pit. But by then it’s too late! He and Nisca find themselves increasingly confused, leading the entire gang quickly into a frightful battle with the Sleeper in Darkness as they try to rescue their friends, as each in turn also find themselves on the precipice of madness. Though Nisca falls under the creature’s sway & shoves Narsius into the pit, and Ursus begins wildly swinging at the bevy of mind-controlled barmaids while he himself struggles with the mind-numbing confusion (slashing at the very girl they’d be asked to save!), Aaron, Variel & Narsius (when his head is clear enough) all manage to bring the Sleeper low.
After digging Narsius out from under the monster’s corpse, they manage to save the lives of all those they’d fought that had been in the Thing’s thrall. Selros tells them of how they’d stumbled across it while doing renovations to the Inn, and promises them a big reward for their help breaking it’s spell. The gang turns to explore the two unopened doors before they head back up, discovering an unholy chapel. After desecrating(?) the font of unholy water, they find a tome made of black metal plates writen in ancient Aklo, the same foul language used elsewhere in the caverns. They decide to keep the book, in hopes someone at the University of Lepidstadt might pay well for it.