After their ordeal against the damnable Leng spiders, the cousins decide to risk one more night of madness-inducing dreams rather than continue forward. They retreat once more to the myconid colony and set up their magical tent and steal what rest they can during the nightmare-plagued slumber.
* * *
14 Calistril (II), 4721
The party passes through a couple of former art installation rooms then senses something unseen in a long north-south hallway. Nova casts true sight and notes a pair of invisible duergar. A brief fight ensues, and the duergar are clearly outmatched. When only one remains, it rambles about a mental link with a cousin in the dark dwarf stronghold and describes the events of Nova’s concert night in terms of it happening a few hours ago. Unfortunately, his face is filled with worms and Nasti mercy-kills him.
A harshly enchanted black stone door gives the cousins momentary pause before Amaya kicks it open, alerting six more mind-slave duergar doing chores – cooking and cleaning – within. Another brief combat occurs, with the duergar shouting about keeping the lights on and bemoaning the blood-soiled laundry. Nasti finds a couple of potions and Amaya listens at the two doors that exit the duergar common room. They choose the east door and open it to reveal the Vast Gate itself.
Past the metallic door lies a vast quadruple-valved chamber lined with nephelium, the crystal heart of a god hollowed out to contain vast energies. From the central focus of the chamber streams a light of near-blinding intensity from a brilliant sphere. It pulses in time to a heartbeat, forging light-reflections which race across the glassy walls. Strange shapes seem to move with sinuous silhouettes within the walls, now and again skimming the shining skin, but then losing interest and receding before their true forms are revealed.
At the center of the chamber, piercing the air itself, a sphere of pure light 30-feet in diameter hangs only a foot above the crystalline floor. Immediately bracketing this pulsing light are three columns of crystal, equidistantly spaced, rising uninterrupted from floor to ceiling. Directly west of the sphere is what appears to be a podium of crystal firmly mounted to the floor. The podium holds a large book bound in coarse black leather. Seeming out of place about the periphery of the room are three tables of stone spread with parchment and metal tools, a wooden chair, and a stone shelf holding various arcane items.
Duergar occupy the mundane accoutrements, an white-haired older human man stands near the podium and just past him stands Madreus, who turns to regard the intruders. “Oh, I did so hope we would not meet,” the alienist intones.