The Starhunters arrive at the massive stone doors of Lost Lokken—Leonidas having just seen the invisible force that assailed them vanish through the cracks. They use their might to push the doors open, achieving only inches of progress. Worried the old doors will fall and crush them, they consider other options. A’Kelah, though voiceless for now, has a strong enough connection with the Lurker-in-Waves that she can summon one of its servants from some adjacent hot springs; she conjures a roiling tongue of steaming mineral water to act upon the doors.
Curiously, before the water servant can even touch the doors, they give way to it. Fiery swirls dance over the carvings and the dwarven portal yields amid sounds of grinding stone and falling dust. The scene inside is vacant, dusty, and dark but the Starhunters make haste into the mountain hall. Without A’Kelah’s spell-light, Aodh lights his lantern and takes the lead. They move through grand but empty halls, hewn ages ago into solid rock, where only cobwebs, bits of broken glass and ceramics remain. Aodh knows always where the ‘orb’ is and follows after like a bloodhound, but stumbling through dark and unfamiliar chambers leads to many dead-ends and back-tracking. Continually Aodh leads them down and down again as this is the only way to proceed deeper into Lokken.
Throughout all this meandering, Fendrys, Aodh, and A’Kelah take steps to avoid getting lost—and it works for a time. A’Kelah avoids her temptation to slow down and study the ley lines and magical energy of the place. Leonidas too curbs a desire to slow down and examine the places he passes through; he will have less to sing about the history of Lost Lokken. One diversion they do afford themselves is into a natural cavern. Gage explains he can sense another dwarven chamber beyond the cavern. The Starhunters enter the cavern, traipsing through guano and under sleeping bats as they go. Aelish, Gage, and Leonidas enter the chamber which Gage described. They find barrels of phosphorous and broken tools within. Worked seamlessly into the wall are dragon bones arranged in a heraldic manner. A disembodied voice whispers in the dwarven tongue. Aelish’s noble education allows her to understand the voice,
What would thou ask of the Watcher-in-Flames?
She converses with the spirit, asking, among other things, “What happened here?” and it ultimately tells her she ‘died here’. Then it laughs. Disturbed, Aelish urges her companions to leave the chamber and they do.
Pressing on, they find a collapsed corridor with a small opening that only Aodh can squeeze through. However, as he does so, the rubble collapses further and he is both crushed and separated from his companions. Aodh, sorely hurt, but still able to walk, dusts himself off and willfully deserts the rest of the party in a deeper search for their prize—using only dim vials of phosphorous for illumination. The Starhunters call out, and when Aodh does not respond, they set to work excavating the collapsed hall which is exhausting work costing them hours.
Aodh and the Starhunters eventually reunite deep in the heart of the old dwarven stronghold by the sound of mysterious ‘Birthcrafter Golems’. Their chisels pinging in the darkness is the only thing to disturbing the silence in Lost Lokken. The golems work at a glacial pace, carving life-sized dwarven effigies from cold bronze. A third, headless golem in a central chamber along with some stairs is found nearby. Following Aodh again, who senses they must go up, they take the stairs up two levels to an area filled with smoke and steam (NICHE NOTE). Unable to see or breathe on the third level, they descend one level. There they find an obsidian shield which Aodh takes and another, more elaborate ritual chamber with a similar wall of dragon bones. Again Aelish speaks with the Watcher-in-Flames.
Just as Leonidas before her saw something he did not reveal to his fellows, so too does Aelish here see a vision that goes un-shared. The watcher laughs at the priestess a second time. Again she is disturbed and wishes to leave.
Not far from there, they are attacked by shadow demons and their thralls which arise from a fracture event, no doubt caused by the Meridian’s continued instability. Aelish turns the shadows with her Figure of Eladriel, but this only serves to manifest their true, hideous form of corrupted and demonic flesh beneath. The spells of the Starhunters are enough to defeat these monsters though Aodh immediately flees in terror through the darkness, through the very shadow-form of a demon itself.