The next morning, the well-rested adventurers ate some toast and dried fruit. They packed their gear and prepared to leave the confines of the mortal realm. They gathered around Skalmad’s throne and activated the magical device. The sensation was an odd sort of rush – as though they had drunk too much wine. In a blink, they were no longer in an underground throne-room. They were in a sun-lit forest glade. The colors were so vibrant that it was surreal. It was like they had stepped into a painting of the perfect forest.
The landscape and the glade matched the outline of things in the mortal world. A large stone stood where Skalmad’s throne was and other features roughly matched the terrain of their home-world.
Elvish singing wafted through the air and the party went to investigate.
A troop of eladrin warriors, startled at first by the group of mortals, welcomed them.
“Hah! You are too late, my friends! The Eladrin of Ceduilon have slain the foe!” they cheered.
“And not much of a foe he was! They should have sent us after him first!” cried one of them.
“Oh, don’t be too hard on the mortals, Grey” said another. “I’m sure they tried their best, but they are just men and elves you see.”
“Wait… What are you talking about?” asked Medev.
“Skalmad the terrible will haunt you no more. You need not fear or hide any longer, for we have killed him!” said the leader of the eladrin troop. The rest of the warriors cheered.
“Nonono! You killed him?! What happened to his body?!”
“Ellid here speared him through and he erupted into flames! The gods suffered not even his body to pollute our land and the troll vanished into ash.” Ellid, a younger eladrin with the troop, took a bow and the rest of the eladrin applauded him.
“Oh no!” cried Krod. “He will be reborn at the Caldron now! And he will be even more powerful – almost a troll-god if the legend is correct!”
The eladrin looked confused. “These poor mortals are still afraid” said one.
Coreth offered a bet to the eladrin that Skalmad was still alive – and the eladrin joked with Ellid that his honor was being questioned. Ellid’s pride was wounded by Coreth’s claim that he did not kill the troll king – and the jests of his friends led him to take Coreth’s bet.
The rest of the troop left to return to Ceduilon, but Ellid stayed with the Fallcrest Crue – eager to prove his claim and claim his reward of gold from Coreth.
“Who would slay one of my kinsmen? I will have the head of whatever beast did this!”
Medev and Krod discovered that the entrance to the stronghold would only open if smeared with eladrin blood. They didn’t want to profane the dead eladrin in front of Ellid, so they distracted him and took him for a walk while he sang a song for fallen warriors.
Bitter hacked the dead body, painted the stone door with its blood, then unceremoniously threw the remains of the slain warrior into a nearby river where it floated a few feed before it became stuck in some twigs near the shore.
Ellid and Krod returned from their walk and song and Ellid said “We must dig a grave for him. Where is the body?” he gasped.
“Yeah”, Krod asked Bitter. “Where is the body?”
“Oh, um – fairies. Yes. Little fairies came and carried it away while you were singing. Yup. It happened.”
Ellid’s eyes lit up in wonder. “He must have been a great warrior. My song must have called the fairies to honor him.”
“I’m certain of it.” said Bitter.
The party moved though the secret and mysteriously red, wet stone door and into the ruined fortress.
The party defeated her and battled other foes – ghostly trolls who could glide through the walls of the fortress.
“Skalmad is using the cauldron to create an army of undead trolls!” Medev said. The party and Ellid discovered that hundreds of ghost-trolls were assembling to attack Ceduilon.
“But the walls of Ceduilon are protected from the undead” said Ellid with a worried expression.
“The ghosts are not assembling to attack the walls – they march to the mortal world – to Moonstair. They will pass under the river and up the rocks and through the Moongate – right into the center of Ceduilon. Hundreds of ghost-trolls. Your city will not stand a chance.” said Coreth. “By the way, you owe me one-hundred and fifty gold pieces.”
Ellid frowned, and pulled a gem from his pouch.
“Later” said Krod. “We may be able to stop this invasion if we can destroy the Cauldron. It is the source of Skalmad’s power and the source of the ghost-trolls. Whatever they are after in that city must be more powerful than a Cauldron that can create an undead army! We can’t let Skalmad or the Lord of Ash take it.”
Coreth took Ellid’s gem anyway and then turned to Krod. “A bet is a bet” he said. “Now, we can go save the world.”