A quick survey of the house failed to reveal anyone that might be the Learned Master, either upstairs or downstairs. Below the house, there was a mysterious sound of rushing water and caves leading off in the distance, occupied by some sort of giant beetles. Darnos discovered a secret passage in the basement, with stairs leading down. The group girded itself for a fight and descended the stairs. Two hapless guards at the bottom put up a brief fight before being dispatched.
A hall led to an underground “river” rushing through a 10-foot-wide passage. Using a rope mounted to the walls, they eased across, and then followed the rope down the passage to another aperture. Ili was sent inside to do reconnaissance, and a massive, temple-like room was revealed to Mazil. Knowing of three opponents inside, but numerous doors leading off from the large chamber, the group opted for the element of surprise, and sought to strike quickly.
One man on a raised platform clearly demonstrated magical prowess, and as the group moved to attack, another man in chains was revealed behind the platform. As more Society men poured in to join the fray, the key to the fight became a showdown between the two men near the platform: the Society leader revealed himself to be an oni demon, but the chained man was freed and was, in fact, a tengu weapon master. An epic battle ensued, but at the end, the Society leader assumed a gaseous form and fled, unable to withstand the might of the Learned Master.
Thanking the heroes for his release, the Learned Master answered their many questions. When asked about the Iron Duke’s scepter, he went into a trance of some sort, saying, “North, to the Weeping Fist. Seek the cave, lest you have to cross the Empty Valley, where death would take you before you knew it. Go down to go up, where you will find the Iron Duke.” The heroes were left to ponder these words, knowing another leg of their journey lay before them.