Following the trio’s return to Grimstone, they are informed that the creature they killed, while a demon, wasn’t the hooked horror that has been slaughtering dwarven patrols. During the subsequent debriefing with the Commander, the Iacchtian Emberkindle collapses into unconsciousness. While he is whisked away to be tended by the temple, the Commander requests aid from the churches resolving what appears to be a demonic incursion into Jord.
The church of Svara sends a high ranking priest and a field agent to listen to the issues. The agent and Smithfield realize they know each other, though they haven’t seen each other in nearly 4 months. Anzula doesn’t spoil Gjalund’s disguise as Smithfield, though they both eye each other warily to see if potentially bad blood will discolor their present interactions.
Down one mage, and up one priestess, the trio proceeds back into the wilds of the Grimdark, aided by amulets from the ranking priest that should help protect against the corrupting influence of the demons present. After clearing out yet another spider nest, the three arrive at the unpassable tunnel. With the amulets bolstered by Anzula’s constant prayers, they manage to pierce the depths of the tunnel and emerge into a small spherical room with shocking contents: an active Gateway with no restraining arch!
Leery of passing through an unsupported Gateway, Anzula and Smithfield/Gjalund hang back and cover the tunnel while Niccolo, who has some experience with Gateways, investigates. The findings are grim, and no sooner does Niccolo step through into a blasted hellish landscape, than he is met with a dark creature melting out of the air less than 30 paces away.
He learns the creature is an old foe of the gods, and has discovered a way to pierce the Shield with a gateway, with the intent of the demon’s allies returning to Jord to rule it once again. Taking a gamble that he was faster than the demonic man, Niccolo rushes for the gateway, passing through just ahead of the creature. He barely has a second to draw a breath before the creature begins forcing it’s way through the Gateway.
The party rapidly moves into action, assaulting this powerful new foe. Moments after it passes through the Gateway, a second creature begins forcing it’s way through behind it. Redoubling their efforts to defeat the creatures mocking them while smashing them with powerful limbs and magic, they notice the Gateway appears to only be able to support a limited number of transfers over a given time, as the shimmering portal dims greatly.
Though at great effort, and a near death of Niccolo, they trio manage to defeat their two aggressors before any more creatures can force their way into the chamber. As soon as Niccolo is back on his feet, he and Anzula combine forces to try to collapse the Gateway on their side, and after a drawn out battles of wills and magic with whatever force is keeping it open on the demons’ side, the Gateway slams shut with a rush of power.
Collecting the remains of the demon matching the description of the Nightmare killing the patrols, the group returns to Grimstone for their rewards.