Leskin warns the group before they settle for the night that they should cover up to stop the local mosquitoes biting them. He then staggers off to his own tent, telling the party to sleep where they like and to “leave my god damned students alone”.
01:45 – 03:45 – Ormid, concerned about Leskin's warning works through the heavy rains of the night on two health bolstering potions – one for him, and one for Llewellyn. Unfortunately by the time he has finished them, he is already infected (as is the Vyrleen), his immune system weakened by the lack of sleep and the soaking. Whilst he does this, Llewellyn dozes, Veteran enters his autistic mode and the Dundorin snores loudly, apparently unbothered by the heavy rain.
04:00 – Ormid gives Llewellyn the potion he has made, and wearily slumps beneath the cover of a palm tree, dropping almost instantly to sleep.
06:00 – After a poor night's sleep, the group awaken to thick fog, and to a shirtless, barrel-gutted Leskin pissing loudly by their resting place. He grins at them, wishes them a good morning, and puts himself away before informing them that he will work a spell of protection on them before they leave, to stop them being instantly slain by the volcanic conditions within the mount.
Both Llewellyn and Ormid feel dizzy and shiver with the beginnings of pyrexia, whilst Veteran and Ardwaine seem none the worse. Leskin sees this and tuts loudly braying “I told you to cover up. Why does no one ever listen to me eh?”
06:00 – 06:20 – The group eat a cold breakfast, and Ardwaine examines the two shivering wretches, noting with concern their pale skin, greasy perspiration and violent shivering. She promises to do what she can when they have time, but tells them that there won't be chance until they next rest.
06:20 – The group meet with Leskin, who uses an ancient scroll to work a potent warding spell over them. He tells them that it will last until the next day, and outlines briefly where he believes they need to go, pointing to a hidden area halfway up the vast volcanoes precipitous sides.
06:25 – The group leave the camp.
06:25 – 14:30 – The group push through the suffocating embrace of primal jungle; ancient and untouched by any blade or flame for long and long. It takes the group a good eight hours to slog through it, though they encounter nothing more threatening than the mosquitoes and howler monkeys that seem to be ubiquitous to the area.
The group are aware of the constant, deep rumbling that thrums through the ground as they scale the volcano; a hint of the destructive forces seething beneath them, and minor tremors shake them almost constantly. They also come across the occasional fumarole, brilliant yellow with sulphur crystals, the area around it devoid of any plant life, save a few, scrubby shrubs with coppery stems and long curved thorns (this is Devil Thorn, a common plant that is thought to have originated in an infernal plane, and which grows in volcanic areas in the physical plane. It's thorns can be used as fishing hooks, and its tubular flowers emit a strong, musky aroma which has been used as a ritual incense in the past).
By the time they clear the jungle and reach about halfway up the side of the cinder cone volcano, the party are sweaty and light headed from the high altitude. Ormid and Llewellyn have developed agonising headaches, and are a ghastly pallor.
From their vantage point the party gain a fantastic view of the surrounding land, and can see several other volcanoes in the distance, at least one spewing huge columns of ash, smoke and fire into the skies.
14:35 - After another scramble over bare scoria and ash, they suddenly find themselves looking at the shattered and jumbled streets and petrified humps of ancient structures. A sense of ancient loss hangs in the air here, and most of the buildings are little more than formless masses of concrete like ignimbrite.
Little is evident to point to who built the structures, and it seems that apart from the odd scorpion or the large shiny black ants that scurry everywhere, that nothing lives here.
14:45 – The group move further up the side of the Volcano along the sunken, devastated streets, the suns shining brightly onto them, the air becoming radiant with shimmering heat and the whispering chatter of grasshoppers. Ormid and Llewellyn both stumble and groan, their headaches only growing worse in the thin air and brutal sunlight.
Suddenly, they see something ahead – ancient, but far less so than the buildings – massive totems carved from Obsidian. Each is roughly 10' across and 60' high, every inch of their glassy surface painstakingly inscribed with solid looking runes and representations of fearsome, scowling faces, like those of Dundorin but strangely proportioned. Indeed, in many ways it appears to be a massive work of Dundiir art, though Ormid and Ardwaine pool their knowledge and quickly identify them as the works of Zargor'Gigori – Fire Giants!
Beyond the black totems the group can see a massive portal of cracked obsidian, carved with more faded Zargor'Gigorim runes, leading to a massive space in the volcanoes side. Thick clouds of whitish-yellow smoke and steam belch from the top of this 30' high doorway, and great crystals of sulphur hang like stalactites from the top of the structure; jutting fangs growing from a sparkling coating of volcanic crystals.
14:48 – Llewellyn and Ardwaine move forwards a little towards the portal, whilst Ormid continues to study the Zargor'Gigorim totems, watched over by Veteran and Ferrous.
Peering through the heat haze, the Vyrleen and Dundorin can make out a jumble of obsidian, basalt and ignimbrite beyond the impressive frontage, all of it encrusted with sulphur. Llewellyn stumbles ahead of the warrior priestess, and she shouts a warning to him to be careful...
...A moment too late, for something huge and armour plated skitters forwards, venomous stinger raised, rune marked claws wreathed in a blaze of magival flames; a vast scorpion.
A moment later and two smaller scorpions, their claws flickering with crackling sparks, burst out from behind it. Then, all three scuttle in to attack...
14:48 – 14:50 – A truly vicious battle ensues. The larger scorpion’s venom ignites within its targets and its mighty claws allow it to pin, crush and burn anyone it grabs. The smaller invertebrates move like the lightning that wreathes their claws, dancing around the group and stabbing with their venom laden stingers.
All the party are seriously wounded, though it is Llewellyn and Ardwaine who fare the worst – the former because of his disease ravaged fortitude and the latter thanks to pure bad luck.
The battle moves through the portal and into the volcano as the larger scorpion drags the Dundorin in there to devour her undisturbed, and the group feel the toxic, searing gasses whipping out at them – negated by the thin web of abjuration magic around them. They also catch a glimpse of shattered obsidian streets and looming, smoke wreathed structures glinting redly in distant, rutilant light.
the monstrous bugs are slain in time, and after a failed attempt by the artificer to remove the venom from the smaller scorpions, and a few healing incantations from Ardwaine, the group turn their attention to the black streets of the shattered Zargor'Gigorim dwelling, and head into the guts of the volcano.