Deciding the south door was their next step, they moved to examine it. A piece of paper had been taped to the door with the handwritten message: "DANGER! Do NOT Open!". Confident that this message was intended for someone else, the party gave the door a push. It was locked, but that proved little challenge for James' skills.
As the door opened, a strong musky odor rolled out, making the party retch slightly. The room beyond was a complete mess. Tables and chairs were overturned, and crates and barrels broken were open and their contents scattered about. Several scorch marks were clearly visible on the floor and walls, and may have been related to the open chests or containers nearby. At the far end of the room a large cage could be seen with its door ominously open, but the party saw nothing living in the room. Near the cage, another set of double doors were in the east wall.
The party moved cautiously into the room, alert for any escaped animals that the stench and the open cage promised. Initially, they saw nothing, but as they began to spread around the room, a number of small, scaly, green creatures with enormous ears suddenly popped out of barrels, crates, and other hiding places around the room; some even seemed to materialize out of thin air. They were ~3’ tall, and wore odd mis-matched pieces of clothing. They had three-fingered hands ending in long talons, and their grinning mouths were full of sharp teeth. They cackled with glee as they leaped to the attack.
The party immediately began having difficulties. They found that the Pranksters were almost impossible to hit, apparently having outrageously high armor class and other defenses. Meanwhile, the Skulkers kept shifting around invisibly, leaving the characters unsure where the next attack would come from, and often targeting empty space with their attacks. The Deceivers were the only relatively easy targets, and the party concentrated much of their firepower on them. Ice found himself crawling around on the floor, unable to stand but unwilling to give up on the attack.
Things were starting to go against the party until once again, the critical hits began to flow like crazy. Phil was being hard-pressed by one of the Pranksters, until he scored a critical with his Look at This! power, slapping the creature's hand down and around until it hit itself in the head, and promptly died (while they were almost impossible to hit, the Pranksters apparently died pretty easily once you managed to score a hit). Chuck immediately followed up with a critical Avenging Light against one of the Deceivers, killing it. Joe maneuvered himself into the center of a cluster of gremlins, and then used Hito-kaze's Flashing Blade to kill all three creatures (including a critical against the Prankster).
Soon the only creatures left were the invisible Skulkers, but they proved to be very difficult to bring down. They apparently had very good Stealth, making it difficult for the party to sense their location as they shifted all over the battlefield; the party suffered considerable damage from opportunity attacks as they unknowingly moved past unseen opponents. But the party gradually began to triangulate on their location. Ice got an idea of where one was, and promptly unloaded all four of his Donkey Kong barrels on the hapless target, scoring four hits and leaving it stunned, prone, and visible. Phil tempted another to reveal himself by starting a Pie Fight, which could have gotten hilariously chaotic had Chuck not missed with both the pies he tried to throw. Jerry began casting Magic Missiles, and while he never succeeded in Igniting one of the invisible Skulkers, he did whittle down their HP, and soon the last Skulker fell.
As the party stood panting among the fallen bodies, Jerry checked the Gatestone. From here, it pointed northeast, leading him to conclude that they were getting very close.