Had to cheat by referencing the guide at gamepressure. Seems that after clearing an area of baddies a spirit will appear to provide a password to unlock options for opening a door that leads to stairs to level 14. After clearing the area, this spirit will not speak with me no matter what I do and as a result, I cannot get to the next stairway "down". Stuck. No way to progress.....unless I'm missing something.