The party settled down to an uneasy reset in the ruined gatehouse, taking turns on watch. Hours past, with Bjorin handing off to Yunaan, Yunaan to Roondar, and Roondar to Torash. As the end of Torash’s shift approach, distant shouting began to be heard in the cavern, far away and indistinct. Torash awakened the rejuvenated party members and Glithas went on ahead to scout the way. He returned minutes later after having heard the sounds of battle and a loud peal of thunder.
The party progressed towards the city center and the sound of the battle, through the dead and deserted city. Roondar was able to ascertain that the city was human from its architecture, but not much else. They came upon the remains of a public square, filled with weeds living off of the meager sunlight that came in through the fissures overhead. In the center, a statue of a knight stood atop a dried-up fountain, and slumped against the statue was a huge tentacled creature, dead. Two of its tentacles had been severed and its eye gouged out. Also in the square were the bodies of two men, one slumped over a stone bench, the other leaning against the base of the fountain. A quick search revealed the men to apparently be mercenaries, or some form of muscle.
Increasingly perplexed, the group continued on to the city center where the domed building they had seen from the cave mouth lay. They found it bracketed by statues of men in robes and ringed by shattered windows, its walls carved with mysterious linear symbols that Roondar and Torash identified as pre-Sundering. From inside was coming a soft white light. Glithas scouted the building once more, seeing its inside strewn with bizarre growths of growing crystal that seemed to have emerged from its stone floor; in the center of the room was a tunnel, ringed with the crystals, one of which had a fresh blood smear on it.
The party reluctantly entered and progressed down the tunnel after Bjorin confirmed the magical nature of the phenomena. The tunnel was hot and claustrophobic, its walls lined with the pulsing crystals and leaking small streams of water to form dual channels. Gradually, its ceiling parted and the walls became shorter, as the water became thicker and more opaque. The tunnel levelled into a chamber with a viscous, opaque pool of the white ooze that the channels flowed into, surrounded by a low crystal wall. Beyond it, a bridge ran into the cliff face.
After some debate regarding how to approach the pool, Roondar picked up a stone and tossed it in. The stone sunk from view, but the ripples on the pool gave way to the rising humanoid forms of two figures, their anatomical features gone except for hollowed out areas where their eyes and mouths should be. The golems charged the party. Bjorin stepped forward and sunmmoned the power of nature to blast the pair with sand, stunning them and stopping the charge cold. The rest of the party attacked while Torash called upon Reimar’s might to enlarge himself to almost 12’ tall. The seemingly formidable golems found themselves surrounded; Yunaan pressing in from the rear, the massive Torash holding the front, and Bjorin and Glithas stabbing from the side while Roondar ineffectually fired from farther down the tunnel. The golems curiously began leaking blood as blows were struck, indicating there were not perhaps entirely composed of the mysterious ooze.
While the golems landed serious blows on Torash and Yunaan, they were soon brought down, with the monstrous Torash landing the crushing blows on both of them. As they fell, the ooze began to slough off, revealing a human and a half-elf beneath; already dead before the fight began, and apparently animated by the power of the ooze. Bjorin attempted to discern the properties of the ooze by detecting magic but received uneven results; Yunaan and Bjorin coated their weapons with it to no effect.
The group progressed across the bridge and down into a fresh tunnel. Upon hearing voices, the party sent Glithas to scout, who found a bowl-shaped room spread out beneath a 10-foot drop from his position, where a quartet of armed men faced a bleeding, darker man. In the center, a pedestal of upthrust stone held a brightly shining crystal. Glithas summoned the rest of the party, who arrived in time to hear the men bickering, addressing the man in the center as Aldman and claiming the cavern had become too dangerous for no reward. As Aldman reached for the crystal, Glithas’ intellectual curiousity overwhelmed his common sense and he stood, suddenly and asked ‘What’s that?’.
The surprised mercenaries rushed to form a cordon around the drop-off while Aldman tried to seize the crystal, but was repelled. A brief skirmish erupted, with the mercenaries rapidly losing taste for battle after Aldman teleported out and abandoned them. Their poor position was not improved by the party raining down projectiles on them, and when Yunaan unleashed an intimidating roar and Roondar appealed to their common sense, they soon surrendered.
The party learned Aldman had hired them to explore the cave, claiming there was treasure, and paying them each 50 gold, with another 50 promised afterwards. They had encountered the first tentacled creature during their descent but Aldman had managed to dispatch it, his fireball causing the explosion that first lured the party down. After camping, they were ambushed by the monster the party had found at the fountain, losing two men and with Aldman receiving a serious wound. The ooze pool had jumped at them as they passed and claimed two more. The party decided to relieve them of their gold and weapons except for daggers and turn them loose.
Meanwhile, a curious Glithas approached the crystal and examined it, but, unable to glean much from a visual inspection, touched it. He saw a vision, a blur of images; a city of gold and marble, a worried middle-aged man, a vast chamber filled with red-robed people listening to a young man, screams and darkness. He flew out of his body, over Termecia and into Norhelm, seeing a glade in the mountains west of Klaring that he knew he could now point to right on a map. Finally, the clearest part of the vision; a voice, whispering Forgive us. We did not know.
The party, its attention drawn by Glithas being thrown to the ground, turned its attention to him as the mercenaries fled. The crystal dimmed, but when Bjorin tried to maneuver it into a backpack, he found himself subject to the same vision. After explaining what had happened, Torash and Roondar also subjected themselves to it, while Glithas insisted on finding a map. Unfortunately, Glithas also became aware that his sense of magic had dimmed, and began to panic; the party was forced to withdraw.
Now, with only a vision and a sense of dread to guide them, the heroes have sent out to the mountains of Norhelm to find what lies in its snowy peaks…