The group do not get to pause for a breath at all, as the oozes slither out of the cauldron and surround them. Merri tries to resuscitate Elo, fails, so turns her attention to the slime. Darius and Felix take turns zapping the two slimes, while Aurianna concentrates her flame on the right hand one. Together they manage to bring down the left ooze, but the right one, though badly hurt, remains. It decided it wants to cuddle-eat Darius and does so.
‘I can save you, if you don’t mind being on fire’ – Felix
Merri finally manages to resuscitate Elo, who totters over to Darius, and heals him a bit while the ooze is finally taken out, then hands him a full healing potion.
As he recovers himself, and Merri finishes healing Aurianna, Elo wanders up to the top of the stairs where the lackey’s body has kinda gone a bit goopy. She pokes at it, while Felix and Merri also come up to look. Merri mentions they’ll have to find a way of getting the remains back to the church, as it’s going to count as evidence. At that, Felix suddenly remembers he has a list of names, and passes it over to Merri who scans it to see most of the Gimebeard clan names on it. While they are talking about this, Elo has noticed that the wall doesn’t really look right. She takes a closer look, and even pokes it, noting it has a strange rubbery surface, like jelly. As she looks deeper, she sees a skeleton, seemingly in the distance, but a few blinks later, it seems to be getting bigger, and bigger, until it reaches a bony hand out. Elo squeals and backs up, almost tripping over the body. The grinning skulls whispers ‘See you soon’ and cackles, as Felix cries out a dispel, making the strange window vanish, and making the wall just a wall again.
Behind them, Darius also shrieks, and they hurry down to him. While the others saw a skeleton coming from the black ‘window’, Darius saw something much worse. The window enlarged and grew tentacles, tiny white eyes opening all over it. It reaches out for him and in a strange echoing voice says ‘On the other side…’, then Merri is holding him down and Elo has forced a potion down his throat and he’s back in the real world again.
Terrified and gibbering, he is lead back into the temple, while the others collect the oozing cadavers of the lackey, and the bones of the gnome. The lackey is passed over to the high priest, while arrangements are made for a casket for the gnome’s body, and transport to the temple of Garl Glittergold. Felix accompanies the body and takes it into the temple while the others take a still wibbling Darius home and put him to bed.
In the temple of Glittergold, Felix passes over the remains of the unknown gnome to a cleric and, absolved of duty, wanders into the main body of the church where he meets a very interesting lady gnome, named Dwena Diamonddust who turns out to be a planeshifter. They chat, and she seems very taken with him. He even shows her his squidly diddle, and then mentions about Darrius apparently being ‘plane touched’. She gets very excited and asks if she can meet him, so he says yes, and brings her home to meet the family.
Felix lets himself in and introduces Dwena to the group, and, in Felix-like innocent abandon, tells them he told her about Darius, and then starts trying to explain about the kobolds living with them. Elo and Merri quickly try to shush him, especially as he starts talking about Aurianna. Elo asks Felix to go and help Mrs Higgins prepare an evening snack of tea and sandwiches, while she takes Dwena to the parlour and carefully explains about Darius, even though he is asleep. The gnome’s excitement fades when she learns that Darius is a human child, and she looks more saddened as Elo explains. Finally Dwena says that all they can keep doing is feeding him dispel poison potions, and try to keep him away from wibbly things, and he will most likely have a permanent psychosis for the rest of his life. Dwena goes on to say that she didn’t mean to cause issues about their unusual companions, and that she will keep shtum.
At that point Merri and Felix come in bearing tea and sandwiches, and they all have a nice little chit chat until Dwena leaves, saying she will see Felix again sometime, and the group head off to bed.
In the small hours of the morning there is a sudden explosive noise. Merri and the others are awake instantly, Elo wants ‘five more minutes’. They look out the window, and Merri sees a fire coming from the dwarven district. It seems centered around the Temple of Moradin. She panics, throws on her vestments and after hollering at Elo to get the hell up, she leaves. Elo and the sorcerers take a moment to don armour and prepare themselves before heading out.
They don’t manage to catch up with her, as the moment Merri is close to the temple, she sees a horrific sight – there is a crowd of torch wielding humans, ringing the temple steps, and on the door is a blood-soaked cleric, pinned to the front door. Merri backs away and finds the side door of the temple, where she is roughly pulled in.
She is told that only a little while earlier there was some kind of fight, blaming the dwarfs for the problems of the city, and the young dwarf currently attached to the door got swept up in it somehow and ended up beaten bloody and crucified for his troubles. As she’s now in, the dwarven clerics start to put wards and shields on the doors. Not a moment too soon either, as suddenly there is the thump-thump of a battering ram against the main doors.
The high priest curses out the humans, and Toreguard – claiming the whole city is now been placed on the book of grudges – and declares that no dwarf will ever leave via the front doors again, and that all clerics will leave the city for Fangthane via the tunnel under the church. His rant basically turns into a ‘Fie upon this place’ speech.
Outside, the others have finally caught up to the mess. The Watch are surrounding the body, trying to prevent anyone from defiling the body further, and have somehow stopped the battering ram attack on the front door. Elo pushes her way forward and tries to talk to the officer, but he’s too busy trying to stem any further aggression on the church. Instead she asks around and they learn that there was someone ranting about how dwarfs were terrible people. Outside a dwarf bar. In which were drunk dwarfs, made angry at the words. Basically, the inevitable happened – and a fight broke out, then got way out of hand, and the poor sod attached to the door was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. At least, that’s how Elo hears it – the people speaking are a lot more angry and accusatory at the dwarves.
Felix mutters something about Garl – they know he got away, and he can control how he looks – so elo presses the people who were there, to see if they thought the instigator maybe didn’t look like himself exactly, and there are murmurs that might have been the case, but by this time too many cross words have been said, and things have gone too far to come back from.
At that point the doors open and a team of dwarves come out on to the steps with a ladder to take the poor unfortunate down, and the crowd stirs up. Elo shouts and speechifies at them to just go on home, and eventually it works. She then approaches the ring of watchmen and dwarven defenders, because Merri has come out the help remove the body. She tells Merri they think that the Grimebeards are behind this, and Elo hopes she’ll see Merri on the morrow. With that, she takes the sorcerers home.
Merri spends the night at the temple, while the dwarves are moved out, and is ordained as an inquisitor. It’s a bit soon, Starhammer says, but needs are as they must.
The next morning she speaks to the high priest and tells him that she has to go and talk to Elo to see what might be done, and he says he can’t stop her anymore – not that he could before, mind – but now she officially outranks him, so she should do what she thinks is best. She leaves via a back door that opens out into a pub, and is instantly recognised by her new vestments – they do make her stand out a it. She approaches the exit, and is offered the use of a plain traveling cloak – her vestments and her own cloak make her stand out a bit.
Back at the house, Mrs Higgins brings a missive for Elo as they are quickly consuming breakfast. It is from a Captain Calico, and states that for their own protection dwarfs must travel the streets with an non-dwarf, or be arrested for their own protection. Since they have no idea where Merri is, they can only hope she’s safe in the temple. Elo says they need to get to the watch house as soon as possible, but before they leave, Mrs Higgins hands them each a wrapped parcel – sandwiches, she says, because she knows they’re not likely to be back for a while. She also offers them a hip-flask, which Elo takes gladly. They thank her, and she asks them to be safe. They say they will try, and then tell her the same.
They hurry out to the watch house, a pall of smoke from last night’s fire hanging heavy in the cold, damp air. The watch house has been fortified and, once Elo flashes her badge, they are admitted. They quickly find Derren and discuss the night’s happenings and he tells her he has news – Captain Calico is supposed to have defected and joined the ranks of the street mob, but Derren and Erwin have discovered something interesting; Captain Calico doesn’t exist. They think instead that she is some kind of professional, but they have no idea what she wants, and all Cobleskater’s attempts to find out have met with dead rats.
Just then, there is a commotion outside. Merri has arrived, and brought ‘friends’. Elo hurries out, and is faced with a wall of angry people. It seems Merri left the safety of the temple, and hurried over here, only to be spotted and chased by every dwarf opposer in the city. A shouting match ensues between the guard on the fortifications telling Merri to get inside, and threatening to shoot the rioters, and the rioters telling Merri to come over, or they’ll burn the watch house. Merri dithers, unsure, until Elo, just wanting to get a word in edgeways, screams at everyone to shut the hell up.
She gets her wish and is faced with a stony silence, which she desperately tries to fill with a reasoned speech as to why this whole thing is stupid, to go home and quit being dicks to dwarves. It doesn’t go down well and more shouting ensues. Eventually though, Elo does the only thing her panicked mind can think of – she challenges Calico to a duel. Just her and the ‘Captain’. Sated, for the moment, the mob turns away to pass the message on. Merri probably scowls at Elo, and they go back into the precinct. They are accosted by Derran and Edwin who take them down to the canteen where the Captain wants to speak to them, and his office is too small.
Fugit calls on Cobbleskater to explain some more, and the gnome expounds upon the idea that ‘Calico’ is a fiction, being played by some kind of Drow assassin. Elo explains about her ‘plan’ to meet this Calico head-on, but is going to revise it a bit. If this woman is an assassin, then she’s not going to play fair, so they need traps. At the very least it will slow her down. To that end she sends Auriana to fetch the Disciples, while the others are generally displeased at Elo (as if that’s new) and she outlines their parts in her ‘plan’ – that the sorcerers will set up on either side of the street, and Merri – after setting a stone spike trap – will remain inside. The dragon arrives with the kobolds in a bag sometime later, and Elo sends them off to set up some traps for the drow while she and the others prepare themselves.
At dawn the next day, Meri asks Elo if she should go out and set the Stone Spike trap up? Distracted and nervous, Elo says yes – but to take Darius with her. The dwarf and the human go outside and pause just beyond the door, shocked. Before them, littering the square and draped over the riot gear are the bodies of all 14 watchmen who were on guard. They look around, and Merri starts to push Darius back towards the door when there is the shrill whine of an arrow, and Merri drops dead – an arrow hole in her chest.
Darrius cries out and backs towards the door, as a drow appears in front of him, thrusting with a rapier. He narrowly misses getting stabbed and pushes the door open further. Elo and Felix hear the bang of the door and hurry into the main office. They see the drow trying to attack Darius and Elo calls out to the drow to leave him alone and take her on instead. The drow accepts her invitation and brushes Darius to one side, as Felix circles around her flank.
The fight is short and fierce, with felix taking the killing blow. When the drow is down, Elo blesses her soul, and then looks up. As the assassin and Darius came in, the double doors were pushed fully open, and Merri’s lifeless body is on full display. The full impact hits them all; Darius starts bawling, Felix cries out in anguish and Elo drops her sword, staggering towards the body and falling to her knees. The woodling starts to say a prayer over Merri’s soul and vows vengeance, when she suddenly is reminded by the new vestments that the dwarf is much higher in the church than before, and if they hurry, maybe she hasn’t slipped away completely, and can be brought back. Elo cries out to Aurianna for help, and between them they load Merri’s body on to the dragon, and Aurianna carries Elo and Merri away to the temple of Moradin, with the sorcerers following on behind.
Elo unloads Merri onto the steps of the dwarven temple and cries out for help from Starhammer. The high priest and another come and grab Merri’s body from her. The sorcerers arrive and they are all dragged into the church, presented with beer and instructed to drink, while the two dwarves set Merri upon the altar and start to cast. In the mortal realms, the statue of Moradin turns and inclines it’s head towards Merri, prone on the altar.
In the Gods’ Waiting room, Merri has been flicking through the out-of-date magazines and drinking insipid vending-machine tea, when Moradin appears next to her. He says there’s some people on the other side – in the halls of her ancestors – who’ve been waiting a long while to see her again, but at the same time, there are some folk who are trying awfully hard to bring her back to the world of the living. It’s her choice, he says; she can stay in his Halls and receive the rewards she so well deserves, or she can rejoin her company and continue to fight the good fight. But if she does decide to live, and not loose some memories or skills, she will have to take a geas of sorts – Moradin wants his young inquisitor to finally end Darkhide’s life. He has permission of Wee Jas, and Merri needs only to deliver Darkhide’s head on a silver platter for the tribute to count, and everyone will be happy.
She choses life.
Merri comes back to the world of mortals and is handed a beer and told not to scare everyone like that again. She drinks the beer and gets attack-hugged by Darius, cuddled by Felix and embraced by Elo. For one second, the world is at rights.
Then they remember that the city is still on fire, they killed their only lead and Elo flew a golden dragon over the city in full daylight.
In the Light I will trust; In the Light I will find Courage. Though Darkness crowds me, the Light will sustain me. I will not waiver in my resolve; I will not avoid the path I have chosen.
By Cuthbert’s Eye, may I see Truth
By Moradin’s Arm, may I find Strength
By Galana’s Grace, may I find Forgiveness
By Fharlanghn’s Staff, may I be Humble
By Pellor’s Light, may I Vanquish the Dark
By Sashelis’ Mind, may I Learn (to not be so stupid)
By Kutulmack’s Will, may I Survive