We proceeded to our last hope, the well-hidden door with Hargrim carved in runes around it. Although we can make out the runes, none of Prestley can see that there is a door. In fact, upon further investigation, Prestley discovered that the door was actually covered over with a thin layer of rock on our side. Having seen something similar before, José checked to be sure the layer of rock wasn't merely an illusion. It wasn't. There was obviously some sort of magic here, but he couldn't tell what it was. Prestley reported there weren't any other traps or locks.

Goldrim then stepped up to give his opinion. He saw no other runes or other hints of a door. Also, the stone really was the same as all the other stone here, as far as he could tell. He set to work, carefully chiseling a door-sized hole, with Prestley's guidance, while I set to my healing task. After almost 4 hours, everyone was completely well, and I had recovered my strength. With all of us ready, Goldrim explained we could simply open the door, and the thin layer of rock should stay on the door's surface and move with it. The door opened out.

Goldrim opened the door, and it was as he said. On the other side, we saw what Prestley already had: a hallway leading straight away from us. Again, we lined up to follow the passage: Kyuskay, Prestley, José, Goldrim, Miara, me, Carmella, Sun, Bark, and Ashe. Before Kyuskay took his first step into the hall, Prestley shouted, "Stop!" By this time, Kyuskay recognized that word, at least, and complied.

Prestley explained that the floor from here to as far as he can see was a whole series of pressure points. And the ceiling ess very loose. The rock above the passage ess all loose rock. Obviously, setting foot on the floor would bring all that rock crashing down on our heads.

Kyuskay suggested he could "walk" along the walls, since the passageway was narrow enough for it. But he couldn't carry Prestley with him, and Prestley is the only one who can see the traps. I considered using air elementals. I'm turning to the thing more and more often, which worries me. I didn't bring it up immediately. Perhaps there was a better way.

Prestley told us the rock ceiling wouldn't fall catastrophically, but instead rain down. We could probably run through it fairly safely, but it will keep falling and will fill the tunnel, trapping us.

Apparently there wasn't any other way. I took out my rock and just flew: I picked up Prestley and carried him with me, dead center in the tunnel. I told the others to wait: we'd scout ahead and see if there was a way to turn the trap off.

Just a few feet in, Prestley said the tunnel ended in stairs down after about 50 feet, and the trap ended there, too. There wasn't anything else of interset in this tunnel.

We reached the stairs, I put Prestley down on the safe part, and I stopped my flying. The stairs went down about 10 feet to a landing, which did a u-turn in another 10 feet. More stairs another 10 feet down led to a hallway that ran perpendicular to the stairs. North-south, I figured, once I updated the map. It ran underneath the passage we were standing near. Preatley said the landing was also trapped with more pressure plates; this time he couldn't tell what they did. Nothing good, we were sure.

Prestley said the northern hall dead-ended after about 40 feet, and the southern hall opened into a rectangular room with rounded corners. It was about 25 feet long and 10-15 feet wide. The near end was mostly empty space, but there was something he couldn't see causing a pattern of shadows and darkness along the walls. The far end was full os something, but he couldn't tell what; the entire room swirled with streaks of light and dark shadows, of blue, grey, and white streaks in a mist of green There were no other exits. And no sign of how to deactivate any of the pressure plates.

I flew him back and we reported our findings to the group. There was only way to get us all there. I summoned an air elemental, just one so I could control it more easily, and sent everyone down to the hallway past both the traps, one by one. I was last. Once there, I banished the elemental. For the first time, though, I had to make myself put the damned rock away.

In the hall, we only saw the passage north, and it had a door at the end. That did not match what Prestley saw. That door was elaborately carved, with Hargrim's name, and crowns and hammers, all inlaid with gold and silver. Prestley said the lock was one of the most intricate and complex locks he'd ever seen. Despite the fact that it led only to a very nasty trap, it was intriguing enough to make him want to open it anyway. But he didn't.

We turned to the south, which was just a wall. Prestley said beyond the wall was a 10 foot passage that led into the room he'd seen, but this wall was just a 3-inch thick wall. No traps, no locks, no doors. José said there was no additional magic, and certainly no illusion: the wall was really there, and it was just a wall. The decoy was probably enough to take care of anyone lucky enough to get this far.

Goldrim inspected the wall and said he could judicially chisel strategic weak points in about 15 minutes and then use his maul to "open" the wall.

As soon as he planted his chisel against the wall, I heard a terrible shriek behind me that clawed at my soul. Turning, I saw several dark, writhing, humanoid shadows with glowing red eyes come through the pretty door at the other end of the hall at us. I swear I felt them shred my soul and the world went dark to me.

I awoke just a few seconds later, I think, fealing somewhat weak but still alive. A circle of fire surrounded the wraiths. After a few seconds, they tried to push through it, shrieking with pain, but Ashe move the firewall, keeping it in constant contact with them. Before they found their way out, each disappeared in a swirl of fire and ash.

Some of my comrades looked injured, as was I, but before I could do anything about it, Goldrim did something with the Stone of Stone. I believe he was trying to melt away the stone barrier. Instead, he melted everything around him, about 10 feet out. The stairs and the floor beneath us vanished, and we all fell a foot or two to the earth beneath the stone.

We all heard an evil, rumbling laugh, from all directions at once. It melded in a very unsettling way with the ripping of the rock out of this universe. It faded away, and we all looked at each a moment. Tzeentch, of course. Our best enemy.

We made out way up into the south hallway. At its end was a plain door that led to the interesting room. It was not trapped, locked, or magical in any way, and was just a plain wooden door.

Goldrim opened it, and nothing happened to us. We saw the room, and it was much as Prestley had described it to me. But our attention was immediately drawn to the huge, disembodied dwarven head floating in the middle of the room. It said something in Dwarven to us, and Goldrim translated it for us: "Be warned. You aproach the sacred tomb of Hargrim. Go back! Go Back! Go back or bear the consequences of your impiety!"

I was still not myself from the attack of the wraiths and Goldrim ripping hard stone completely out of existance. This was just too much for me, and again my world went black. When I came to myself again, I felt drained, exhausted. The head had disappeared, thankfully.

The room was roughly 15 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. Each side wall was lined with a series of pillars about 18 inches in diameter. They pointed inward at the top to form a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Mosaics depicted scenes from Hargrim's life (mainly his victories) on the walls at our end (north). Between the pillars at the south end were four statues surrounding Hargrim's sarcophagus, shiny luminous white rock shot with grey. It was plain except for a big rune (an H, Goldrim said) in the middle of the top. The pillars were hung with tapestries with gold and silver thread tracing out verses singing his praises.

José said the whole room stank of magic, not that we couldn't guess that. It was filled with swirling streaks of blue, white, and green mists. This and the lake were certainly effects of the Crystal of Water.

Prestley looked inside and saw the perfectly preserved body of a dwarf, dressed in fine raiments. On his head was a simple and battered iron coronet with a single pearl, about the size of a humans' eye -- the Pearl of the Lake. His right palm faced up and held a crystal. Prestley said he could see that the mists in the room emanated from the crystal. It glowed brightly in response to the other three crystals, which were still glowing as brightly as ever.

Remembering Goldrim's vision of the four crystals ripping the world to shreds, I suggested Ashe, Goldrim, and I should stand away from each other a bit. We did so, but only for a moment. Goldrim said he'd use the Stone of Stone to open the sarcophagus. He, Miara, and Asheall stepped forward at once.

Specters of a dwarf, a couple of orcs, an elf, a troll, and an ogre stepped out of the murals. Fatigued and simply soul-sick by now, I again lost several seconds.

I awoke to a near-disaster. Ashe, Miara, and Goldrim were all helplessly paralyzed on the floor, although Ashe had somehow summoned up a curtain of fire to separate the specters from them. I heard a deep rumbling, and dust floated out from the stairs behind us.

I pulled out my rock again, and gazed deeply into. It was glad to see me. I looked over at the sarcophagus, and Prestley told me, "There's a second chamber over main chamber with the body, thin and empty." I tried to conjure up a wind to push one of the specters into Ashe's flames, but I was weak and I failed. Ashe flicked his flames out a bit and burned them some. The stairs behind us vanished under a shower of rock and debris. I guessed that Goldrim was trying something with his Stone, too, but he cannot control it. I again tried and failed to conjure up a wind. Ashe finally managed to flame them all out.

I stepped towards the fallen and asked Ashe to dismiss the fire, and he did. I inspected the three of them, but it was a psychic paralysis that I am helpless to fix. They seemed otherwise uninjured, and I hoped they would recover soon.

I considered again the sarcophagus, but I realized I just couldn't reach the air inside it: the rock blocked the crystal somehow. So I asked Goldrim to open the sarcophagus with the Stone of Stone. I don't know what I was thinking.

Immediately, rocks rained down on us. One hit my head and I fell senseless to the floor.

I awoke to Ashe giving me fist aid. I was bruised, exhausted, weak, and sore, but I was awake and mobile. We were surrounded by destruction. There's a ramp leading from here impossibly high up, and out to the top of the mountain. Rocks and dust are everywhere. There was a 40-foot deep pit in the floor where I had last seen Goldrim laying paralyzed, and the remains of the sarcophagus and Hargrim were at the bottom.

We were all badly injured and on our last legs. And Prestley was dead. I tried, but that thin empty chamber had held a poisonous gas I recognized from its effects. The rest of us had fought it off, but Prestley, small as he was, was now dead. I cannot cure death. Sadly, I realized Carmella and I are the only ones left alive from the entertainment troupe we joined so long ago. And Carmella is really only a shadow of herself now.

Miara picked up the Crystal of Water. She said she'll caryy it for the moment, until we decide who should really carry it. We gathered ourselves together, picked up Prestley, and walked up the stairs to the top of the cliff that Goldrim had created for us.

Up there, we saw the battleground between the dwarves. Nothing but crows. Everybody was dead. Only death won this one.

There was no easy way down, but after a couple of hours, we worked our way back to the cliffs above the valley and looked down. We saw the same scene, but much cloaser, of course. Many dead dwarves from both sides. No living at the gate guards: only dead dwarves. Goldrim was quiet and morose; he had been since before we left the mountain.

We entered the valley to see if we could figure out what had happened. We just saw a lot of dead dwarves. We found Mendri's body. And nearby, Sundrim's body. Some died from magic, but most of them died from standard battle wounds. We made a rough estimate of the dead, and came up with about what we figured to be both the armies. If there were any survivors, they very few indeed.

Ravenna, A Monk of the Biancan Order

Part the First:
Blood and Mud

Part the Second:
Murder and Mayhem

Part the Third:
Puzzles and Crystals

Part the Fourth:
Dwarves and Rocks

Part the Fifth:
Diplomacy and Daggers

Part the Sixth:
Crystal and Chaos

Part the Seventh:
Sheer Insanity

~ The End ~