The party re-entered the caverns of Sely Stodeley, Master Necromancer, after healing in Kukgul. They explored the few caves they had not seen earlier, but found nothing but trouble. First they were attacked by a disembodied knife, and though the knife could not penetrate their armor, neither could they stop the attacks. Josette attempted to banish the spirit wielding the knife, but failed. The knife, frustrated by its inability to harm them, drove a giant crab from a pool to attack them, but again the warriors’ skill was too great and the adventurers retreated to safety, where the crab’s armor proved too thick for their arrows. The crab returned to the water, the party left it alone.
The party then explored the lair of Hamond Scawsby, one of the ghouls of the caverns. Hamond retained some of his mind and after Brendan gave him his hat of Seveysas skin, Hamond shared some information with the ranger. The ghoul told him that the women they had encountered earlier and killed had been called Hegelina, but that she had left now. Brendan tried to get more data from the ghoul, but he retreated into a tunnel and vanished. Meanwhile, the knife had returned and was again attacking Josette and Alexios with little success. Brendan spent some time reading Hamond’s journal, in which he described himself and other captives of the coastal pirates being sold to the necromancer, who turned them into various forms of undead.
The tunnel that Hamond had gone down was narrow, and most of the party members were quite large. George the earth elemental was asked to expand it, but when he tried, he instead disappeared into it as well. Josette tried Shaping it herself, but found she could not. Brendan was the smallest of the party, so he stripped off his armor and equipment and squeezed through the tunnel. He found himself in a dark earthen cavern with George but could do little, especially as George only communicated through Josette. Josette used Telepathy to speak to him, and the party sent his equipment through. He was able to light a lantern and look around. Josette tried to squeeze through as well, with Brendan pulling on a rope and Ian pushing from behind, but she got stuck and Ian broke her arm as he continued to push her forward. Dislocating her shoulder, she was able to get through, and again the party sent through her armor and gear. The fire elemental and Selkie stayed in Hamond’s lair.
Brendan and Josette found themselves in a 1 m. x 1 m. earthen tunnel, with a partially excavated coffin above them and a partially eaten arm extending from it. They explored the tunnels and eventually came out in a dimly lit forest, a forest in twilight. Both recognized that they were again in Faerie, and re-entered the tunnels to find their way back. They made the unwise choice of tunneling up near the coffin and found themselves in a land of horror, filled with the undead. Was it Ravenloft? Land of the Deadites? Whatever the creatures were, they were numerous and hungry and charged the two adventurers as they ducked back in the hole. George filled in the tunnel behind them, but the creatures pursued them and for the next eight hours, the three of them Shaped tunnels ahead and closed them behind, staying ahead of a multitude of digging undead. Eventually they worked their way back to the entrance to the mortal plane. As they exited, they hoped the undead would not find the entrance as well.
Meanwhile, Ian and Alexios had waited for them and then gone outside. Ian built a fire outside and waited. Alexios went to Kukgul for help. Eventually Alexios came back and got Ian, and a few hours after they got back to Kukgul, so did Josette, Brendan, and George, though they were exhausted and filthy. Once they healed and cleaned, they returned to Restwell, and prepared to open the tunnel pass to Amidst. They took with them two of the Lost Boys, Brendan’s hunting dogs, and several combat-trained donkeys. Ian brought a goat, just to be contrary.
Sir Wharff was working with the villagers preparing wood for the construction of an inn. “Hiyo milords,” said the aged Far Ranger, “I hope you don’t mind but as I had so little to do, I took it upon myself to start on an inn. Nothing cheers up a town like an inn!” The villagers blurted, “Oh milord! He has been telling us about the Crane Knight of Sondit, who once fought a dozen men to save his daughter from kidnappers from Riverton. He rode the rapids home!” After learning that the party was heading out for Amidst, Sir Wharff told them that, “No one has gone there and returned for a very long time, perhaps fifty years. There is undoubtedly some terrible danger in the tunnels, so beware. The Spinners and Cave Horrors will undoubtedly be the least of your worries. You are skilled warriors and should have little trouble with them. But you should speak to Ulad bu Aita, the Priestess of Ithrak, before you go. She is the sole survivor of the last adventuring party that tried to open the Pass.”
They then went to Ulad, who told a sad tale. “There were seven of us,” she said. “Dront Berden was our leader, an even-tempered warrior if ever there was one. Ishrat Hamerton was the finest warrior I have ever seen, with plate mail and a sword of renown. I doubt I will ever see her like again. I think she followed Dront out of love, though she never spoke of it. Chandranath was a Ranger, and as fine a shot as any. Ellize and Kibwe were archers, not as skilled as Chan, but stout of heart and faithful comrades. And then there was Oodiudra, a friend of mine from the East. We had roamed for many years together, Ithrak keep here. We entered the tunnels but never reached Amidst. Instead we were ambushed by Trogs and pursued them foolishly into their caves. We lost the Trogs and ourselves. Dront and Ellize were killed by Spinners. Eventually we found a Fungus Forest and were able to rest for a time. Then we were attacked by a Blue Goo and Ishrat met her fate fighting a rearguard action for us. Chan, Kibwe, Oodiudra and I escaped, and wandered those caves a long time. Ood and I were the last, and she died in our final battle against Spinners. It was soon after her death that I found the tunnel again and was able to reach Restwell. And here I dedicated myself to the memory of my comrades, worshiping Ithrak in their honor.”
“Most of the tunnel is carved from existing caverns,” she continued, “and there are many side passages that connect up to it. The floor has been made as level as possible and the tunnels expanded until two carts could pass. The tunnels are at least 4 m. wide and 4 m. tall. In places the road has been washed out by streams, but the tunnel is largely constructed of dry caverns.”
The party then traveled through the birch forest and marshy lowlands east of Restwell to the tunnel entrance. Before they entered, Brendan shared his expertise as a Ranger: “The tunnels will probably have Spinners. They are giant spiders that get as big as a horse. There may also be Cave Terrors, who usually drop on you from above. Don’t walk under any dark spaces in the ceiling if you can avoid it. There will be Grebs of course, but those are no problem unless they become rabid. And undoubtedly there will be Trogs in the area. Those are the typical dangers. There may also be Fungus Forests near the tunnel, though I doubt they will be in the tunnel itself. The biggest fear is running into a Blue Goo, but from what I hear, the official tunnel is mostly dry, so hopefully that won’t happen.”
Once in the tunnels, they occasionally encountered small Spinners, which they easily repelled. The goat was mildly injured, as was one of the dogs.
At one point, Alexios spotted Trogs watching them, and began to negotiate a possible trade agreement with them. The Trog scouts affirmed interest, but told him that such an agreement would have to wait until their King Gold made a decision. The Trogs felt certain the party would not return from Amidst, but Alexios reassured them that they would return. And there the party ended for the night.