The battle with the gargoyles raged. Our heroes fought bravely, but these gargoyles were made of stiff stuff (literally). As Samera and Tanwyn took down one, another managed to get a hold of Lavinia. The creature dropped her from the bridge and she fell 50 feet to the hard rock below. The blow nearly killed her, but the stubborn halfling managed to hold on. Nundro, fearing for his companion, instantly set to retrieving her while the other two finished off the rest of the gargoyles. When the dust settled, Nundro helped Lavinia back to the bridge and our heroes continued on.
Using a small magical illusion, Tanwyn covered them while they made their way deeper into this strange place. What they found seemed to be a ancient dwarven fortress of some kind, probably dug out and constructed thousands of years ago. It may have been abandoned at one time, the dust and debris evidence of this, but it certainly wasn’t abandoned any longer. Strange men wearing heavy sets of stone armour spoke with bugbears in black armour with the Earth Cult symbol on their chests. Our heroes managed to make it by them unseen. When they came to a very large room that looked as though it had seen a fierce battle eons ago, they stopped for a moment. There were several doors and they knew enemies could come from any of them, so they quickly found stones to use as wedges and secured the doors. As they were doing this, voices came from down the hall. A strange looking man in stylized stone armour (not as thick and heavy as the previous man to done such an outfit) approached, surrounded by four hobgoblins. As soon as they were within reach, our heroes sprang into battle.
But it would not be a simple skirmish. Just as our heroes thought they were getting the upper hand, a team of expert diggers – the Duergar – smashed their wedged door from the wall itself. With their picks and axes in hand, they joined the fray. Using their innate powers to enlarge themselves and to turn invisible, our heroes were not so certain of victory any longer. One of the duergar made his way to the other side of the room and removed the wedges from the door. A pair of Earth Cultist Priests emerged and their thunderous spells shook the room. Samera and Nundro both fell from vicious blows and our heroes were rough and ragged. They still fought on.
Soon, though, a voice called down the hall. One of the priests ordered a moment of respite. He cried, “Miraj wishes to see them! Let them through!” Our heroes were battered and nearly broken, so they hurried a few potions down their throats. Without much else to do, they walked down the hallway and into a large alchemical lab. Besides the eerie stone golem standing motionless in the corner, the only other form in the room was a skinny earth genasi; Miraj. He had an offer for our heroes. If they would cease the murdering of his fellow Black Earth members, he would present them with a deal. He had learned that the Cult of the Eternal Flame had begun posing as Druids. They’d put out a call, claiming they needed druids from all around to gather at Scarlet Moon Hall, where they would use their combined powers to perform a new spell called the Ritual of the Wicker Giant. Miraj wanted this ritual stopped. If our heroes could do this, he promised to return a delegate, Rhundorth.
In a hush discussion, Samera pointed out that this was their first solid lead on finding an actual delegate. They all agreed that they should chance it and go along with this deal, so long as they could see Rhundorth before they left. Miraj agreed and they began to wait. While they did so, Tanwyn had a few extra questions. Miraj was quite closed off and proved mostly useless when posed with questions. That is, until Tanwyn asked if Miraj had ever heard of someone named Vennifer. Miraj perked at the mention of this name, a small smile came to his stone lips and he studied Tanwyn a little closer. He hadn’t recognized her at first, but upon closer inspection he claimed to know her face. “You’re Tanwyn the Betrayer, aren’t you?” he asked. Tanwyn stepped back a moment, not sure how her new travelling companions would take to hearing a name of hers not often used. Miraj confirmed that he had indeed hear of Vennifer and that he knew she was looking for Tanwyn, going so far as to confirm that it was her hellhounds that had come upon Tanwyn and the others a little while ago. The last thing he mentions is that if our heroes were in successful in stopping the Ritual of the Wicker Giant, then they would be certain to attract Vennifer’s attention sooner than they’d think.
Not long after, Rhundorth was brought into the lab. He was allowed to say his name and was promptly taken away again. Our heroes, though not completely happy about the situation, agreed that this was enough to take the deal. They were swiftly taken back to the entrance and left to their own means. The morning had left them drained, so they spent most of the day resting. After this was done, they made haste (with flour) to Scarlet Moon Hall.