The next day we encountered the Tri-click. They’re a strange, bug-like people. The iron ones seem to not be very smart, but a silver Tri-click escorted us to the gold skinned (if skin is the right word) Magister.
Jaridan was very excited; it seems the Tri-click had waffles, or at least, something similar.
We traded the orb for the gems as promised, and he thanked us for killing the Dark Dwarves. Unfortunately, he had no knowledge of my family. Apparently the Black-Skins took a different route to the Chasm. The Magister said he found the practice of slavery odd, a sentiment that immediately raised them up in my opinion. They did occasionally trade out the iron workers, but it they’re merely drones, much like ants, and not really aware of themselves.
The Magister was able to tell us more about the Chasm. It’s apparently a sort of bubble in the earth, with villages built on giant stalagmites. It’s filled with steam rising from the pools of lava far below. He warned us to be wary of the various monsters there, flying ones and ones that spat acid.
Jaridan had one of his strange ideas. Apparently using his parachute (which I admit did work reasonably well the fifth time) and the steam, he could theoretically fly from one stalagmite to another. However, getting the cloth needed to built the parachute would take more time than I was willing to wait.
We continued our journey from the Tri-Click. Camping later on.
I seem to be a magnet for the strange races down here. Tonight on my watch, I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the darkness. I hailed whoever it was in every language I knew, and he spoke back in several I could not understand.
I used the Tongues spell stored in the ring in order to converse with him. He said he was one of the Eared-Folk, and as he drew closer, I could easily see why.
He offered a secret in exchange for magic. When pressed, he revealed a key that would lead to a treasure in a nearby temple in the Chasm. I woke Brottor, for he carried the magic items we weren’t using, and some of the others woke as well. After some discussion (and a failed attempt to “give” him the Tongues spell), we offered him one of the demon orbs. He “ate” the magic from it, and discarded the now lifeless stone. I pocketed it, thinking perhaps it might still have some value.
The next day passed uneventful. The path took us downward, and presumably the Chasm was not far ahead. As we camped, Kyari used a spell to see Adriana. Disconcertingly, Kelas wasn’t with her. Other than that, she seemed to be okay, all things considered.
There was a complication the next morning, however. Ardan would not wake. When Kyari examined him, she found a large bug had attached itself to the back of his neck. After Jaridan and my conversation on the best way to kill the bug earned us a reproachful glare from Kyari, she and Isabelle came up with a reasonable solution.
Isabelle’s magic missile could kill the insect with little chance of harming Ardan. They used spells to increase his resistance, and I used my abilities to grant him Kelendenras’s toughness. It worked well, and the dead insect fell from his neck, where Jaridan promptly stepped on it. Ardan seems a little sluggish and more grouchy than ever, but otherwise okay.
We passed through a Black-Skin checkpoint and entered the Chasm. Giant bridges disappeared into the thick mist.
We were traveling one of these bridges when we found a large gate, finely crafted and covered in Dwarven runes. Beyond it was a massive column of stone that ran farther than I could see in either direction. This was the Pillar of Dorzun, home to a friendly group of Dwarves.
Captain Olib, was very excited to see surface-dwellers, esepcially Brottor, and invited us in to drink with him as he told us about the Pillar. Apparently the entire inside is a giant vein of adamantium. They’ve been mining it for generations and will be working on it for generations to come.
More importantly, from my point of view, at least, was the fact that they had somehow managed to create surface-style farms down here, meaning they had real wheat and pork!
Again, there was no sign of my siblings coming this way. While I’m sure we can pick up the trail again, I worry about the time it will cost us. We were able to get some information on the temple however. It is not far from here, but is apparently infested with undead monsters. With the skilled warriors, our powerful magics, and the gifts bestowed on me by Kelendenras, I doubt it’s anything we can’t handle.
As loathe as I am to take yet more time from our pursuit of the slavers, the shops here in the Pillar offer good examples of the powerful magical items we could be using if we had the coin to buy them. The sacrifice of a day or two here could spell the difference between a successful rescue of my family and dying, leaving them to their cruel fates.