Holy Emperor Rehoboth was no longer welcome in Ptolus. By order of the Commissar, troops under the command of Lord Khatru had surrounded the Holy Palace. But the Runewardens needed to get inside, where they hoped to find a collapsible magical portal that had been confiscated by the forces of the Church—a portal that would lead them into Goth Gulgamel, the ancient fortress of Ghul, the Half God.
Sister Mara and Zophas suggested to Lord Khatru that they could go inside and help mediate a truce. The group got in and found that the Emperor and his retinue were leaving the city. Figuring that this was for the best, the group instead turned toward the matter at hand and looked through the vaults for the pieces of the magical gate. They were gone! Further investigation revealed that Satorranis, one of the holy mages who worked in the vaults safekeeping the dangerous stored materials, had not been seen for a few weeks. Following a hunch, they asked for his address and left to find him.
Sure enough, as the heroes approached the wizard’s home in the north part of Oldtown, summoned monsters attacked them on the street. They fought their way inside, found Satorranis, and slew him. From his apprentice, they discovered that the mage had suddenly started acting very strangely; he had kept the lad tied up in the house for the last few days while he attempted to reassemble the pieces of the gate.
Zophas and Serai were able to determine that Satorranis was a victim of the Soulriders, a mysterious group that somehow was able to take over and “ride” the souls of others, controlling all their actions, thoughts, and emotions. They had briefly run afoul of these beings before but never understood their motivations. Worse yet, they wondered, how do you fight such thing?
Doing what they needed to secure Satorranis’ home, Serai, Shurrin, Mara, Zophas, Aliya, Canabulum, Udalaag, and the Fate Weaver Dharim Boch all went through the reactivated gate.
The gate they used had been created by Helmut Itlestein, who had learned to build it from the intelligent battlestaves of Ghul that he had recovered. Helmut had used the staves to seal the Holy Palace in an impenetrable force field on the day of the black rain, then used the gate to get to Goth Gulgamel, where another gate had been set up to take him through the palace. The magic of the gates, it seemed, could bypass any barriers, no matter how powerful, as long as one end of the trip was in Goth Gulgamel. Thus, despite the fact that the citadel of Ghul was well sealed from intrusion, the group was able to gain access for the second time.