The heroes had very little information to go off of, beyond the fact that those who had been kidnapped were now somewhere in the Larian Mountains. Deciding that the best course of action was to head back to Trinity, but not wanting to use another portal from Sindri if they could help it, the group set out in search of transportation that would get them to their destination sooner than they could on foot.
This led them to an establishment known as Schmitty-Wick’s Carriage Services. Greeting them was a gnomish woman with a very large wooden stick in her hands. She sad on a fence and began to negotiate with the heroes over different possible modes of transportation. After several attempts at getting prices lowered, and even more inquiries into what the woman could offer, the group decided that a portal would best serve them in this case as well.
Finding themselves back in Trinity’s sewer system after stepping through another of Sindri’s portals, they made their way back to the guild of arbiters where they found Goat in an extremely pleasant mood.
After a short conversation, they were told to go check in on Al’ev’s brother, Zell. They found him in one of the rooms of the guild lying naked on a bed. The group quickly found out that Zell had been looking into the crystal ball situation a bit closer and had discovered the location of the cave where Harry’s family was being held. He was kind enough to warn the heroes of traps and prepare a portal straight to the cave’s entrance. He held the portal open long enough for Al’ev to receive healing from the guild’s complement of healers. The group all stepped through the portal, Crim threatening Zell in case they were being betrayed.
The heroes found themselves on the side of a barren volcanic mountain, situated somewhere in the Larian Mountains. They all entered the cave and found carved out stone hallways inside.
The heroes proceeded into the cave system cautiously, T’lemya and Velius keeping their eyes open for traps. After locating only one they came to the first door. A large animated face appeared upon the surface of the door and it spoke, asking to feel the warmth of daylight. Al’ev and Harry worked on repositioning mirrors they had encountered along the way. Perhaps becoming bored with waiting, Caramel cast a daylight spell causing the door to open up.
The group again continued forward until they found themselves in another room. This one had a familiar looking stone sitting at its center, and as they stepped into the room, a familiar voice boomed out of the stone.
It was Azar and he told the heroes that he had a bit of a game in store for them. They would have to work together to clear several obstacle. In the end, they would be given a choice to either face him in combat, or take another route and flee.
Recognizing that they did not have much of a choice, they made their way towards the door that lead out of the room. But Harry caught something the others did not. Next to the handle near the door was a strange bit of stone that sounded almost hallow. Deciding to not risk opening the door until he knew what this was, he brought his hammer to bear. The weapon smashed through the rock as though it were thin ice and out poured a small pool of liquid that Al’ev and Harry identified as venom from a creature that they did not know. T’lemya then located the trap in the door which would have delivered the poison into whoever had tried to open the door.
Trap now disabled, they continued forward once more. They came to another room with an animated face on the door and found themselves with another puzzle on their hands. This door claimed that it was bored. It asked the heroes to play a game with it stating that it would allow them to pass if the heroes could catch it telling a lie using only three questions.
The heroes considered how to proceed for a long time before Crim started asking questions. Though the ninja had put thought into the questions, they did not work in tricking the door face into lying. Deciding that he had enough with the door, he used his ghost step ability to step through the door and found a level on the other side, forcing it open.
Again the heroes continued forward until they found a fork in the hallway. They could go left or right. Looking to Harry, the dwarf picked up the queue to use his tracking abilities while Neo used his own abilities to discover that evil was emanating from the pathway to the left. Harry discovered drag marks and, combined with a scent that his badger had picked up, realized that his family was through the path on the right.
T’lemya pointed out that there were several magic glyphs along both pathways and Al’ev identified them as alarm spells and glyphs that protected those spells. Whichever path they chose, whoever was listening to the alarm spells would know where they were going.
Deciding there were simply too many to disable, they ignored them and went down the right path. Azar’s voice rang out through the caves in a disappointed tone. He stated that they had chosen not to face him that day and that they would instead meet up with him again sometime in the future. And with that, the voice finished speaking and the heroes continued on their way.
They when they approached a series of doors that required them to work together to get by them. Eventually Harry made it through the final door in the series and found his family, unconscious, but otherwise okay.
Meanwhile, things back at the first door were not okay.
Al’ve, Sindri, Blasphemy, Velius and Caramel suddenly found themselves swimming in magical energy which quickly focused itself upon Caramel. Al’ev recognized what was happening attempted to dispel the teleportation spell that Caramel was about to fall victim to. He put in his best effort, but the power he was up against was far greater than his own.
He failed and Caramel fell through the portal at her feet before anyone could do anything else. In her place the heroes saw a short hooded figure that Sindri recognized as being very similar to the black dragon queen’s servant that he had made a deal with a while back.
Sindri began speaking with this being and found out that Caramel had been taken hostage by the Black Dragon Queen because the heroes had not yet finished their task to fill up the mountain with more “toys” for her. This being claimed to be there to assist the heroes in finishing the task quicker.
Al’ev glared at the creature and noted the distinct taint of necromancy radiating from the mace that hung at this being’s side.
With the series of doors open, the rest of the group saw what now stood before the heroes who had been grouped back by the first door. Caramel was no longer among them, but someone else was.
Neo immediately picked up the foul sent of evil coming from the being, and cautiously approached while it spoke with Sindri. Crim, on the other hand, was never one for caution, especially if Caramel had suddenly gone missing.
He sprung forward and tackled the small being before anyone could react.
Working together, the heroes managed to pull him from on top of the creature. He would not relent, however, and the heroes were forced to tie Crim up so that they could explain the situation.
Their words fell on ears that would not hear what the heroes had to say. After a short time, Al’ev untied Crim and he picked himself off the ground, telling the heroes that they were no longer friends. He grabbed his things and stalked out of the mountain, likely of to search for Caramel.
This left the heroes with the creature that was again on its feet. Though most of them may not have liked the idea very much, they now found themselves in a situation where they had to aid this being in restoring the Black Dragon Queen’s toys if they hoped to see Caramel freed again.
As Al’ev stepped through the portal that Sindri had made for them all to go back to Trinity, he couldn’t help but wonder if the Black Dragon Queen knew that she had just painted a brightly lit target upon her hide.
His mind furiously worked as the heroes made their way back to the Guild of Arbiters….