The group stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity—it’s not every day that someone successfully seals up rifts in time and space. Eventually, though, the silence of the room was broken by Nibil who wondered aloud what their next course of action should be. Of primary concern was whether or not Tharos the Vengeful was awake from his protective slumber, and whether or not they’d have to fight their way past him again. As the group headed back into the forge room, they debated the option of taking one of the tunnels out of the palace, although Marduke seemed fairly confident that they would only lead deeper into the mines. Deciding that there was no other real option, the group headed up the stairs and back the way they came.
As the group approached the next floor, Serine sensed a frantic shift in the energy of the palace—she surmised that since the rift had been closed, that all of the entities and beings that had been tethered to its dark energies were now let loose. The group hoped that if Tharos had indeed woken up from his protective slumber, that perhaps he would have already left the palace upon realizing that the source of dark energy he had been feeding on was gone. Hesitantly, they made their way to the set of stairs that would take them to the floor where they had last encountered Tharos…
As they came up the stairs, they suddenly heard the flapping of wings—making their way to the main part of the room, they discovered that Tharos was indeed gone—they surmised that he had made a quick exit through the massive hole above them—Branan boasted about his eagerness to engage Tharos one last time, although most everyone else was eager to never face him again. Feeling lucky, they ran to the set of stairs that would take them back up to the main level of the palace.
They made their way through the ground level as quickly as possible, hoping to avoid any major conflicts. As they approached the ante-chamber that was connected to the throne room, they came upon a group of leaderless goblins who seemed surprised at their presence in the palace. Branan, seizing the moment, convinced the goblins that Dark Serine was their queen, as she was the mighty one who had slain Tharos. Serine, sensing that the goblins weren’t quite sure if this was true or not, quickly lit one of them on fire—convinced of her god-hood, they fled from them in terror.
Running through the palace, they eventually reached the outer courtyard where they encountered a second group of goblins. This group was led by a mage who was unimpressed by Branan and Serine’s subterfuge. At one point, after Branan attempted to speak on behalf of Serine, the mage demanded to hear from the “dark queen”. Serine spoke…Alatir held his breath…and a battle quickly ensued. The goblins, though, were easily dispatched.
On the outside of the walls of the palace, the group took some time to rest. Nibil remarked about the increasing sadness he felt—why did he feel sad about destroying goblins? Branan continued to question Nibil about why he was at the palace to begin with, and expressed some frustration at not getting a clear, honest answer. After the conversation died down, they set a watch and rested for the evening.
The next morning the group decided to head back to Forge and find another secret way into the city (the way they had come down was blocked due to the cave-in from a spell that Serine had cast.) After passing the point at which the sewer had dumped them onto the road, they followed the road as it meandered up toward Forge. Eventually the road narrowed down into a tunnel—after some conversation, the group decided to head inside. As they walked through the tunnel, they suddenly saw up ahead, just to the right and in a small alcove, two dwarves sitting around a small fire. Determined to avoid a conflict with them, they all decided to quietly sneak by.
Alatir, Branan, Nerryn, Nibil, and Serine successfully snuck by the two dwarves. But as Marduke attempted to get by them, he tripped over his own feet, causing his mace to clang loudly against his armor. The two dwarves looked up and saw him immediately, and quickly began to approach him. Just as Marduke was about to speak, Branan spoke in the most feminine dwarf voice he could muster, although this caused the two dwarves to rush towards Marduke more quickly.
When the two dwarves had finally approached Marduke, they asked him if he was there to worship their god with them. Not sure what else to say, he told them that he was. Excitedly, the two dwarves told Marduke to follow them, as they were just about to start the ritual to summon their god. Marduke followed the two dwarves into a small opening cut out of the alcove the dwarves had been sitting on…the rest of the group quietly followed behind.
The first thing that Marduke noticed was the thick webbing that encased the summoning room. The tunnel they had walked through opened up onto a large ledge that fell off into a deep, deep cavern. The two dwarves began to set up the rats they had been carrying as a sacrifice to their god (this relieved Marduke somewhat.) As they were doing this, a voice called out of the darkness, from below the ledge, thanking them for bringing her such a sweet treat. Marduke, sensing that he was the sweet treat, pulled out his mace and struck one of the dwarves over the head. The two dwarves, who were genuinely confused as to who the sweet treat was, suddenly focused their anger on Marduke, who had just lashed out at them. The rest of the group jumped from the tunnel to join Marduke on the ledge, just as the dwarven “god” climbed up to join them.
Standing before them was a great beast of the deep, a drider. Pleased at the many excellent meals that had just appeared on the ledge, she viciously attacked them. Marduke was knocked out cold, and Nibil quickly followed him. Alatir fought bravely, although many of his attacks seemed to miss. Branan and Serine took to lighting all the webbing on fire, and Nerryn courageously jumped on the drider’s back and dealt many a devastating blow. Finally, after a long and glorious battle, the drider and her two dwarven followers lay dead on the ledge. The group, badly injured, healed what they could and scavenged the drider for everything they could carry. Heading back to the tunnel, they hoped the journey to Forge would get easier…