The Runewardens found themselves summoned to appear before the Commissar and the Twelve Commanders in the fortress of Dalenguard. The Twelve Commanders were the Commissar’s special advisory council, made up of a dozen of the most powerful and influential people in the city. The Commanders were in no way related to the City Council, which usually concerned itself more with mundane matters; the Twelve Commanders specifically dealt with strange and uniquely Ptolus matters: powerful magic, horrible monsters, the actions of high-level characters, and so forth. Far from being mere advisors, the Commanders were often called upon to face some of these threats directly on behalf of the city.
The Commissar bade the Runewardens to give a report of everything that had happened regarding the barbarian incursion. He personally thanked them for everything they’d done, and the Twelve Commanders exchanged information with them about the forces of chaos and the tide of evil clearly rising in the city. The heroes said they had been told to find the ancient elven city of Dreta Phantas and suspected that the Urthon Aedar could help them do so. The Commissar called the Urthon Aedar—also known as the Wandering Judges—untrustworthy vigilantes whose true motives were unknown. In the middle of the conversation, a figure suddenly appeared in the meeting hall within Dalenguard. It was the Iron Mage.
The Iron Mage, with whom the group had once briefly had distant contact, was reputedly the most powerful wizard in the world. He defied the conventional appearance of a wizard in that he was clad from head to toe in armor, and each piece of the armor appeared to have come from a different suit or harness. Rumor had it that the mage had taken a piece from no less than 13 different suits of artifact-level magic armor and wore them all, somehow gaining the powers of each suit.
The Commanders displayed disdain and even fear of the mage, but he didn’t speak with them—he only addressed the Runewardens. If they wanted to find out more about the Urthon Aedar, he said, they should speak to a man named Dharrim Boch, who worked with a group called the Fate Weavers.
After the meeting, Serai went to his home, where he had taken the children he had rescued from the chaos temple. These were all children of the city who bore runes. One was even the nephew of noted crime lord Menon Balacazar. Much to the surprise (and unease) of his companions, Serai decided that the children would stay with him for safekeeping.
The group eventually found Dharrim Boch at the headquarters of the Fate Weavers in the Rivergate District. Dharrim was a human who wore the strange baroque armor of the Urthon Aedar. He told the heroes that he got the armor when he came upon and helped a dying Urthon Aedar named Nim Saravor. He explained that the Urthon Aedar were, in fact, elder elves, long thought gone from the world. They could to see into the future, he told them, and so the judgments and reprisals they made on others—which could be perceived as unfounded vigilantism at best—were in fact based on acts that the Urthon Aedar knew the person would commit.
The only way to reach them was via the Entropy Sphere, a magical construct created by Eslathagos Malkith, the Dread One, now housed within the Spire. The sphere was a huge whirling ball of pure chaos called into being by six magical gates called the Gates of Delirium. They drew power from otherworldly realms placed equidistant apart. (The half- demon lich Sokalahn used a spell long ago to destroy one of the gates, making the sphere unstable now. The backlash of the resulting energy blast allowed him to breach the legendary Banewarrens.)
To reach the Entropy Sphere, the group learned they must enter Goth Gulgamel, a horrible place they had visited before, during the black rain. At least they knew how to get inside the fortress: through the gate in the temple of the Watcher of the Skies, once run by Helmut Itlestein. Unfortunately, when Serai, Aliya, and Shurrin went to find the gate, they discovered it gone—officials from the Church had taken the pieces away.
A little investigation revealed that the gate was now stored within the Holy Palace. Meanwhile, the group heard the news that the Holy Emperor had led an army from far-off Tarsis against the retreating barbarian horde. There was great bloodshed in the clash. Almost immediately the Commissar decreed that Holy Emperor Rehoboth was not acting in the best interests of the Empire and forbade Rehoboth from re-entering Ptolus.
When the heroes arrived at the Holy Palace, they found it under siege again, this time by Lord Khatru under the authority of the Commissar. Everyone inside was to be arrested. Now how are they going to get the gate?
Next: Goth Gulgamel and the Dreaming City