Chapter 9 – The Second Gate

The two cultists and the foreman lie dead at the group’s feet. Searching the cultists, they find several curious items. Both of them are wearing a reddish pendant with the symbol of a tower, but they seem to have been cracked in half. Investigation into their magical potential turns up nothing. One of them is wearing a ring with a large claw protruding from it parallel to his finger. It is determined that the ring is used to deliver poison to whomever the claw scratches. They both also have brown weaved armor underneath their cloaks. The mining foreman has a longsword and a purse with some silver and copper pieces in it. The group takes these items and pushes the corpses down the tunnel.

Before the group continues, Atentir volunteers to check out the situation. He transforms himself into a bat once again and flutters down the tunnel. He hears a lot of commotion and hammering. The stone door is nowhere to be seen, and neither are the stone “half-walls” that Erag previously created. They were apparently blown out into the room when the stone door gave way. In the room he sees several dead bodies about, ostensibly from the impact of the stone door or the rush of water. Three robed men remain, and six workers. The robed men seem to be guarding the room while the workers that are still alive are scrambling around through 2 feet of water, picking up pieces of metal from the ground and pounding them together. In the middle of the room stands two silver metal spires curled towards each other, creating a huge gate similar to the one from the South Tymirr Castle.

The center of the Gate is glowing and two piercing yellow eyes are seen. A hissing voice is issuing commands to the people in the room. “You fools must work faster! Assemble the final pieces before those interlopers return! Too late, they are upon you!” One of the robed men seems to sense Atentir’s presence and whirles around, beginning an incantation. Atentir streaks from the room and is nearly caught in a poison cloud. He returns to the upper cavern and relates what he saw to the other members of the group.

It is decided to travel most of the way down the tunnel and have Erag create another tunnel through the wall of the cavern, hopefully catching the enemies below by surprise. Erag says the incantation and invokes the spirit, which begins to carve a 10 foot wide tunnel upward through the rock. The group follows behind Erag, hoping that the noise will not alert the enemies of their presence. As they travel down the tunnel towards the last room, the mages again feel their magical power increased. When the tunnel breaks through to the larger cavern, it is almost 30 feet from the ground. The enemies, three robed men and six workers, are completely caught by surprise and open to attack. The party begins firing arrows and spells at them, and Galandil catches one off-guard by opening a fissure under his feet. The man slips under the water and struggles to reach the surface again.

As the battle continues, the party pelts the two remaining mages with more arrows and spells, and they are driven back to defend. Galandil opens a fissure under each of the spires, causing them to nearly collapse. Several of the miners who were working on the Gate are thrown off into the water. The shadowy face in the Gate begins to distort and fade. It says nothing, glaring at the party angrily.

One of the robed men, seemingly the leader, casts a devastating poison spell on Neith, driving her back. The others strike him with several arrows, and he turns seemingly to flee. Just at that moment, however, it appears that the remaining miners have finished nailing the metal plates to the spires. The leader gestures and incants a spell, which causes the seams in the spires to disappear. The shadowy face disappears from the center of the Gate and a black orb appears in the center. Neith strikes the man with another arrow, and he stumbles forward into the gate and vanishes.

Presently the Kaern men, on orders from Elowisyl, rush down the tunnel to cut off any of the surviving miners from escaping. The spellcaster who Galandil nearly drowned resurfaces, only to be dunked again when Galandil opens another fissure beneath his feet.

The orb quickly begins to expand, despite additional fissure spells from Galandil to attempt to topple the spires. A huge beast emerges — a 20 foot tall humanoid-shaped insect with glowing red eyes and vestigal wings flattened to his back, resembling a genetically altered ogre. It roars and bares its fang-like teeth, rushing towards the party to attack. Galandil fires one last desperate fissure spell before his mana is depleted, and the spires topple. The gate implodes behind the insectoid creature.

The party begins to retreat, and the beast begins beating its wings to pursue. It takes flight briefly and lands inside the tunnel that Erag created, slashing at the party members with its claws. It catches Neith the worst, throwing her against the cave wall and slashing her armor to pieces. Atentir rushes to heal her, but he himself is struck badly.

Galandil continues to pelt the creature with elemental bolts while the others get the wounded away from the battle. He then follows them down the cavern, outrunning the beast. Meanwhile Elowisyl sees that the Kaern have defeated the remaining miners, but the last spellcaster has surfaced from the water and is attempting to flee. He catches up to and slashes the man with his sword, killing him instantly. The man slumps over and the amulet around his neck snaps in half.

Though they have the opportunity to flee, the group decides that they must face the insect beast. Elowisyl leads the charge back up the cavern Erag created to face the creature. However, he stops short when he sees that the creature is no longer pursuing them and looks very confused. His eyes are no longer glowing red, instead they are a deep black. Elowisyl tosses the insect some dried meat, and it sniffs it before devouring it. He then looks at Elowisyl as if waiting to see what he will do.

Elowisyl consults with the group and they decide that the beast must be killed so he does not escape and terrorize nearby villages. The party attacks him again and Elowisyl manages to bring him down with one of his arcane bolt spells.

After the beast is killed, the battle is finally over and the party members begin scouring the scene for any useful items. Most of the supplies and tools that were down here have been destroyed or waterlogged because of the flood, but the spellcasters’ cloaks are still intact. Broken amulets are found on the two men and also the same armor weave that the previous two were wearing.

Two magical items are also detectd here. A thin silver circlet with an ornate eye carved into it is discovered by Galandil, who finds that it is a Circlet of Dark Vision, granting the ability to see in complete darkness to the wearer. A second item is a ring with an eight-pointed star on it. Galandil finds that this is a Ring of Direction, which gives the wearer the knowledge of which direction he is facing at all times.

Also inspected is the insect creature. It appears to be some sort of ogre-insect hybrid and has a thick chitinous shell. Elowisyl decides that the shell would be useful for creating armor. Using their weapons, they cut it off of the beast and carry it with them.

The party then consults the Kaern to figure out which way to go. The cavern with the crude steps in the corner of the room will take them to the east side of the mountains, where going back will take them to the west side (where they entered). They decide to go back and are led by the Kaern through the tunnel for two days until they reach the surface.