Having recovered their strength, the companions decide to split up. Raskel and Druvvaldis hold down the fort in Plamenka’s room, to defend their base, and direct attention away from the rest, who thoroughly search the non-family parts of the warren for the treasure chamber. They investigate all the dead ends, finding some to have been originally planned as more escape chutes, before the plans were abandoned. All are primarily stone rather than dirt, and appear to lack crevices that conceal portals behind them.
As they move through the tunnels, Chonkorchuk detects magical auras, to see if some sort of dweomer might be inscribed into walls, or concealed behind them. After finding nothing, and establishing to their satisfaction that the dead ends in fact lead nowhere, Chonkorchuk, Dmitri, Plamen and Lionia return to the corridor in the maze beyond the bone room, where the hermit did detect necromantic and transmutative auras before. Lacking the magical sigil to open the portal, Chonkorchuk orders his fefila to dig through the wall. After intensive digging lasting a third of an hour or so, it has created a one-foot tunnel into the room beyond. Unfortunately, though it is invisible, the creatures beyond are vigilant, and succeed in catching and dispelling the poor beast. Then, one begins to poke a rusty spear through the opening. The companions blast and hack at the bony limb that holds it, and succeed in wresting the spear away, but its holder retreats deeper into the chamber.
The band takes counsel about how to best draw out or destroy the skeletons in the chamber. Plamen proposes blasting them with thunder, but that is hard to do through a wall, and the tunnel is simply too small. He can also roll in a flaming sphere, as he did in the bone room, but the party members worry that the room contains treasure, and the fire would damage it. In the end, it is decided that the sphere is the way forward. Plamen rolls it around different parts of the chamber, but the sound of creaking bones suggests that the skeletons are avoiding it. Soon, something seems to burst into flame, and a sizzling sound is heard. Fearing that they are indeed damaging something valuable, the healer dispels the sphere.
Having failed to destroy or draw the skeletons out, the group decides to retreat a bit, so that the skeletons come out to them. Eventually, the ruse works, and four of the nezhit’ crawl out through the opening. Chonkorchuk blasts one (the erstwhile owner of the rusty sphere) in short order, but he and a tibia-wielding Dmitri have a really difficult time with a second. Meanwhile, Plamen holds back the remaining two with his staff, while Lionia deftly disposes of them with his sabre. Finally, the holdout is subdued before any further harm comes to the companions, and after enlarging the tunnel with their shovel, they slither inside the chamber.
Inside, they finally locate what they have been searching for this whole time. A wooden water pail was filled to the brim with copper and silver coins, but the wood was mostly burned by the flaming sphere, and now the treasure lies in a heap upon the floor. Fortunately, most of it was undamaged, but several hundred coins were melted together into slag. Though they are no longer contained, Plamen and Chonkorchuk both have cooking cauldrons, which can hold about a third of the coins, and Lionia produces a sack, which fits the rest. Thus loaded with precious cargo, the four return to Plamenka’s chamber, and begin counting the loot.
There is much kibitzing as Raskel and Druvvaldis try to count and separate the different types of coins, causing them to lose count on several occasions. Lionia insists on getting a full quarter-share, as was originally agreed on, and is not challenged on this claim. He mostly stands apart from the counting, watching the door, but he does interrupt several times, and at one point, his hand is seen hovering over the pile, precipitating an argument, and causing the counters to lose track once more. Eventually, he suggests that the counters begin again after they have slept, for the morning is wiser than the evening.
The night passes uneventfully, and in the morning (if that is what it is), the counters return to work. This time, they are interrupted by loud screams, and sounds of a scuffle reverberating off the tunnel walls. Chonkorchuk, who has not been involved in the counting, has spent time recalling his fefila from the Otherworld, and now sends it to investigate. The fefila soon sends him a telepathic message about an evil spirit near Plamen’s room. Not wishing to confront her, the band decides to wait her out, thinking that she does not stay in one place for long. In the meantime, the count concludes, and the treasure is divided up into proper portions – a quarter for Lionia, and an equal share for everyone else.
Before leaving, the band has one final discussion about what to do with the loot. Chonkorchuk makes a final pitch to return all of the treasure to Baba Yaga, though he is not sure whether the copper coins constitute part of the “pure treasure” or not. Plamen and Druvvaldis, who were not in it for the money from the start, are inclined to follow him, though perhaps going directly to the hermitage is a mistake, because that is the first place the villagers are likely to look for him. Lionia, for his part, insists that he joined the band only for the treasure, and feels he owes nothing to Baba Yaga, who, at any rate, never specified how much of the treasure is hers. He is unswayed by Chonkorchuk’s warning of the crone’s wrath, nor by promises of access to her realm, but does seem to hold to the promise of turning over the galumphing oaf, and says he will discuss the matter with his associates. But for now, he will be returning home, and tells all those going off with Chonkorchuk to seek him there. Raskel decides to accompany his fellow fox, while Dmitri says he will go and see if he can use the treasure to restore his lost limb.
|The band disperses. Last apperance together?|
Finally, the band is ready to leave the warren. At the main entrance by Plamen’s room, there is no trace of the evil spirit, though there is a dead body of a villager dressed as an armed servitor of the monastery, which looks like it is denuded of its life essence. The group leaves it, and exits the warren. There, some follow Chonkorchuk toward the river, and some follow Lionia in the direction of Medunitsa. Suddenly, there are sounds of crying villagers and monks approaching from the direction of Lazarevo. Lionia yells for everyone to scatter – those following him should meet him at home later. Chonkorchuk runs for the river, telling those following him to meet up at the hermitage.
*(How the muzhiks divided the buried treasure)