The Company of the Black Lantern continued to poke around the cave where the slain red dragons lived. The PCs managed to ally with a strange creature named Monmorath, a sort of fungus druid. He told them of a group called the Pactlords of the Quan, a confederation of monstrous creatures. (They would encounter Monmorath again much later, but in a more surprising form….)

But the Pactlords would have to wait. The company members had obtained a key that allowed them into fabled Dwarvenhearth, and they had put off their journey there long enough. Fighting through umber hulks, orcs, and giants, they reached the sealed gate and crossed over into an old, untouched subterranean city. The dwarves who lived there evacuated the place and sealed it tight hundreds of years ago, so it would not fall into the hands of an evil entity named Ghul.

Dwarvenhearth was vast—larger than the characters had even dared to speculate. Inside, they ran afoul of devious dwarven traps set up to keep out intruders. They found that some of the dwarves had sacrificed themselves to become eternal, unliving guardians of the city. They also encountered Erebaccus, small bands of insane dwarves who had been left behind (or rather, the children of those left behind). Worst of all, though, they learned that a few dark elves had gained access to the city and were setting out to plunder its wealth. The dark elf leader, a vampire named Zachean, was in particular after something relating to the long-dead dwarf King Stardelve, also known as the Dayking. The dark elves ambushed the Company of the Black Lantern and drove the group from Dwarvenhearth.

Meanwhile, Aliya, Shurrin, Mara, and Serai were unsure what to do next. They had learned many strange and arcane secrets—that children born with strange runes would bring about the city’s doom; that these runechildren heralded the return of beings called the Elder Gods, absent from the world for millennia; and that the creator of the world, Praemus, was perhaps the only force that could oppose them. But was opposing the Elder Gods the right thing to do? And if so, would Praemus do so? Helmut Itlestein certainly believed that the runechildren brought doom. However, the characters’ friend Kaira Swanwing thought otherwise. She belonged to an ancient order, the Knights of the Golden Cross, that revered the Elder Gods, whose return the runechildren heralded. And even more confusing, all this seemed to tie in with the return of a moon that had been missing from the sky since the days of the Elder Gods, and with the wickedly evil and equally ancient Galchutt. The cultists who served the Galchutt hinted about something called the Night of Dissolution that would come to pass soon. Was this related? The adventurers did not know.

As a diversion, and to raise some funds to continue their quest, the characters decided to help another friend, a powerful wizard named Jevicca Nor. She had learned that the city’s most mysterious (and powerful) spellcaster, the Iron Mage, was soon to accept a shipment at the Docks. It was well guarded and obviously magical—and for some reason, its handlers were not transporting it by magical means, but by ship. Jevicca simply wanted to know what it was.

The group agreed to find out. Disguised as city guards, they intercepted the boat at the docks and confronted those guarding a strange chest. (The PCs had to travel to the nefarious Dark Market under the city to purchase their disguises, which they did—but only after buying the slaves sold there and setting them free.) After being befuddled by illusions, the characters got into a scuffle with the chest’s guardians—a pair of githyanki, a swordfighter named Vlad, and a bard named Urieth. The fight brought a number of real city guards and an Imperial official to the scene. In the ensuing melee, Serai made the chest invisible to see what was inside, and inadvertently triggered the powerful device that lay within. In a flash of darkness, they disappeared: all four of the group’s members, all four of those guarding the chest, the six guards, the official, and a paladin of Lothian who had just arrived in the city.

They reappeared in some sort of teleportation nexus called the Tourbillion. This, apparently, lay within an ancient stronghold of one of the Galchutt—a being named Shallamoth Kindred. The displaced characters formed a quick alliance, including the paladin: an aasimar named Zophas Adhar from far-off Rhoth. They began to explore the stronghold filled with magical traps and horrible demonic creatures. They had no idea how they would ever get out.

Next Time: Aliya discovers she has a strange affinity for mirrors. And more is learned of the Galchutt, the Vested of the Galchutt, and the nature of demons.