Kel and Amris, carrying Dirdrik, stop for a moment to catch their breath. Brisstle was dead and Dirdrik nearly died. With great unease, they venture on.
The lines of the canyon walls have become straighter, less natural. They find themselves in a large opening, somewhat butterfly-winged shaped. There are two opening directly south opposite them, and another southerly passage off to the right. They didn’t see any signs from the catfolk pursuing, although they couldn’t see very far anyway. They would like to rest, but there’s not shelter and want to get farther away, so they take the middle passage.
They have seen several things like the stone trees in the cat village, but have been growing decidedly less tree-like and more like giant stone vines. They come to a point where the path splits around a giant stone. The stone looks somewhat like a building, but not quite as well defined and covered in many of the giant stone vines. A metal sign is spotted, half encased in stone. What they can make out is
In 75 years
Curious as to what the rest of the sign may say, they decide to rest here, wedged into a crevice between several of the vines, trying to stay out of sight. A fitful, troubled time passes otherwise uneventfully.
Upon waking, they notice that it is now towards dusk, as they slept the day through. Dirdrik is conscious again, and all 3 are meditative, contemplative for a few moments as they consider all they have recently gone through. Tordak, the companion of Amris and (longtime companion of) Kel, and long lost brother that Dirdrik never knew, is dead. Brisstle, their ally among the catfolk, who sacrificed himself so they could escape, who led them into the secret Dwarf courthouse, who sequestered Dirdrik away when he was most desperate instead of turning him in, who desperately wanted to leave himself, was dead. They did get some new supplies but lost many.
The moment passes, they relay the details of what happened after he got knocked out to Dirdrik, and they start to investigate the sign further. Amris casts a spell to turn the surrounding rock to clay, hoping to unearth the rest. But, alas, they only pulled the exposed portion loose, as the rest of the metal sign had apparently been turned to stone already. They look around a little bit more, but not finding anything and it getting darker, Amris heals them up and they start to bed back down for another night’s sleep.
When lo, about 40 feet away, they spot 5 pair of glowing red eyes approaching. They are attached to 5 creatures that look like Dwarf skeletons. Amris is somehow able to summon plants to entangle the skeletons in the lifeless, muddy battlefield. The 3 adventurers shuffle around some – do they want to attack here or withdraw first, sword or arrows, etc. Kel and Amris both produce flaming spheres and chase the skeletons around with them, who are occasionally able to evade but overall prove to be quite effective at dispatching the skeletons. Dirdrik finds somewhat less success attacking skeletons with his sword, and discovers that he cannot find the quiver of arrows for his bow. The skeletons get a couple of good licks on Amris and Dirdrik, but prove to be no match. Now they can rest and the night passes uneventfully.
In the morning they come to the edge of a chasm, with a vast, vast city on the other side. The stone city looks like a great part of it has been lifted up, twisted slightly and put back somewhat askew from where it had been lifted, with the chasm being the result of the skew. There are a good number of the stone vines crisscrossing the chasm, some only big while others are truly huge. The chasm also appears to be some sort of dividing line between the decay and overgrowth of the city, with everything on this side showing much more wear from decay and the encompassing stone vines. Dirdrik looks over the edge and sees no bottom within sight.
As they start to cross over one of the larger vines, Amris notices a tall figure in the distance, standing on another vine, cape blowing despite no visible wind. The figure crosses over and meets a contingent of other figures they now notice. The adventurers take cover. These others turn out to be Moord in his distinctive purple cloak, and several of his fellow Sha-huat Shamans. The tall figure they first spotted pulls back the hood of his cloak and is none other than Bardolf!
Moord and his troop kneel before Bardolf. Moord then offers something up to Bardolf. A sword. A sword none other than – Vaelin .
Bardolf smiles, takes the sword, then sneers and flicks the sword around. The shocked look is still present on Moords face as it rolls off his shoulders and down into the chasm, Bardolf kicking the rest of his body down after it. The remaining shamans are stunned and start to exclaim and gather themselves against Bardolf, who starts to let out a blood-curdling laugh which rolls over the plain. Suddenly the shamans start flailing themselves around, screaming as they burst into flame and then crumble into piles of ash. Pleased with himself, Bardolf turns around and begins to head back, pausing to give a cold stare in the direction of Amris, Kel and Dirdrik, who feel like he is staring directly at them. Nevertheless, Bardolf soon continues on and heads back into the city.