Chapter 19 – The Silver Circlet

After gathering their gear, the party moves to the next cavern in the northern portion of the mine. This room is seemingly empty except for a pair of inert miner skeletons. The party takes no chances and destroys the skeletons in case they might arise.

The next room to the north has two zombies in it, but they quickly fall to the party’s attacks. However, with the recent pulse of mana the spellcasters are almost exhausted of power.

Moving on to the final room, the party finds amongst piles of rubble a group of eight ghouls and the ethereal form of Christopher Drem. Christopher appears as an translucent emaciated floating form with long dark robe on. His face is sunken and greenish, however his most striking feature is the brilliant silver circlet worn on his head.

The ghouls seem eager to attack, but he holds them back with a gesture. His voice is an ethereal whisper as nebulous as his form, and he says “Do not attack them, my children. We have not had visitors for many years.” He then turns to the party and says “Who are you? Why do you tresspass in my father’s house? Why do you kill my children?”

Galandil explains to him that they are here to research the wonders and mystery of Selena. Christopher does not seem to believe him. Galandil then asks why he is here. Christopher replies, “I am here to safeguard all that we have built here, along with my grandmother. Years ago I was a member of the Red Tower Cult, but during my training I was killed. Later I was resurrected by the cult and became as you see me now.” Galandil asks him who his father is, and he replies “You have not heard of the great Alexander Drem?”

During this time Meran moves to attack one of the ghouls, but Alexander tells him to stop or he will have his ghouls kill them. Soon after Elowisyl casts an invisibility spell on himself and begins charging straight towards Alexander. The specter seems to still be able to see Elowisyl and tells him to stop. When he does not, he sighs and tells his ghouls to kill the party.

Elowisyl continues to rush Alexander, but he and his sword pass right through him without causing damage. Galandil fires a magical earthen bolt at him and it does seem to cause him some pain.

A battle ensues and the party kills the several of the ghouls in the room. One of them is swallowed by a chasm opened by Galandil, and Meran tosses a flask of oil down upon him and lights it with a torch. Christopher flees from the flames and passes through Elowisyl’s body to get to the other side of the room.

Meran is struck savagely by one of the remaining ghouls and falls down, bleeding from his neck. Elowisyl rushes to heal him and uses the last of his magical power to do so. The rest of the ghouls are killed by melee attacks, but Christopher continues to pelt the party with cold spells, causing some damage. Melee attacks on Christopher continually pass through him, so the party decides that their attempts are futile. Elowisyl pulls out the magic scroll and begins to scrawl a message to Erillas.

Finally Meran runs for the door, telling the others that they must follow him or they will all be killed. At that moment Galandil has the idea to try and strike the circlet from his head. After several attempts from three party members and arrows from Meran, Galandil finally knocks it off and it clatters to the ground.

Christopher yells “No!” He seems to have become more corporeal without the circlet, and rushes to retrieve it. Before he can do so, Neith slashes him through the waist with her rapier. Christopher fades into mist and dissipates, the only remainder being his ragged robes which fall to the ground.

Immediately Galandil rushes for the circlet and puts it on his head. It seems to bond itself to him immediately and he can’t seem to move or remove it. Elowisyl searches Christopher’s robes and finds nothing there.

Galandil looks around the room and sees that his awareness has changed. All around them he sees a blue glow, which appears to be the magical leyline coming from the north to the south. Also when looking at his companions he sees that they along with their magical items are also glowing. Granted also to him by the circlet are two spells, both of which are related to cold magic. In wonder and awe by the new world he is seeing, he looks around the room as if he is drunk. The others are not sure what to make of his behavior.

A few minutes later, Galandil hears a low, booming voice speaking into his mind: “Ah, I recognize you now. You were one of the men I saw through the gate — one of the ones who murdered Duke Perius. Very interesting that you’ve made it this far.” The voice then fades away.

After only two hours of rest with Neith standing watch, the party decides to continue on and try to find the Gate. Remembering that Corrina Drem told them the Gate was above the Red Tower Cult’s lair, they journey back into the mansion and go to the third floor. As they pass through the tunnels they seem much less dreary now, more like a mine and less like a tomb.

Upon reaching the third floor they search the ceiling for clues, but are unable to find any. They decide to exit the mines and approach from the top of the slab at the peak of the ridge. Traveling to the north end of the mine where they entered, they again use the unbroken amulet to pass through the door, and find that Galandil’s tunnel is still intact.

Climbing up using the ropes they had tied, they ascend to the top of the ridge and survey their surroundings. Several of the party members see a dust cloud to the east, and Elowisyl is able to see that it is a group of Terrors coming towards them at incredible speed. Pursuing behind the Terrors he sees a group of riders on horses.

Finally reaching the slab, the party clears the accumulated sand off of it and begins searching for any clues. As Galandil approaches it he sees the two local ley lines, brilliantly blue, intersecting inside the slab. The whole area is aglow with ethereal light. In the center of the slab he sees a small area that is glowing orange rather than blue, and discovers a tiny slot. He places the ring that Corrina gave them into the slot, and the marble cube begins to quickly melt away.

The party members scramble to get off of the slab and on to the rock ridge, and they turn around to see a giant orb of orange light ascend out of the hole where the slab previously was. Within the light they see a landscape of pitted gray rocks and a purple night sky. This image fades and flickers, and sometimes they are able to see the normal landscape of the Erstland Wastes through it.

Galandil sees the ley lines feeding into the orb, but also a clear bubble around the orb itself. The source of this bubble is unknown.

Underneath the orb a platform raises up to ground level, with curled claws of reddish metal protruding from the edges. Around the platform are carved intricate runes which Elowisyl translates as “SELENA’S GRACE CAPTIVATES AND PURIFIES THE WICKED.” He speaks this aloud, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect.

At this moment Galandil again hears the voice in his head, which says: “You know what must be done. Kill your friends, for they are about to betray you!” For a moment Galandil resists the urge to act, but then succumbs. He turns and opens a fissure in the rock under Elowisyl’s feet. The elf falls and hits the bottom ten feet below with a thud.

The others swarm to attack Galandil and manage to restrain him. Meran hits him with the flat of his axe and sits down upon Galandil, holding him down and binding his hands. He also stuffs a piece of cloth into his mouth so he cannot speak.

Elowisyl climbs out of the fissure and decides that the spikes of the platform must be destroyed. He breaks them one by one, and the orange orb grows larger and larger. Galandil sees the clear bubble fade away as Elowisyl is doing this. Soon all that can be seen around them is the rocky landscape of the Ch’zak plane, and the tear seems to be continuing to grow in size.

Many feet below them they see spider-like Ch’zak crawling over the rocks. Some of them seem to be able to see the party through the tear, and start coming towards it.

Finally able to resist the spell that was cast on him, Galandil stops struggling and Meran removes the gag from his mouth. “I think I know how to fix it,” he says. Meran lets him up and he focuses his will through the circlet, attempting to close the tear in the nexus point.

At first it is very difficult, and he is only able to close it a few feet at a time. After several minutes of concentration, the tear is reduced to its original size. Neith turns and sees that the Terrors coming across the desert are only a few minutes away.

Using all of his willpower, Galandil shrinks the tear and it finally disappears with a flash of light. He sees the nexus point glow fully blue again, and the alien landscape is gone. Also gone are the pulses of magical energy, so the ambient mana is now stable. The voice in Galandil’s head subsides, and he yells in elation.

However, their attention turns to the matter at hand, with Meran suggesting that they flee into the caves. Elowisyl says that they must stand and fight alongside the pursuing riders. As they are coming closer they see that there are twenty-two Terrors, and eight riders. At the head of the riders is Neith’s brother Lionel.