Refreshed by a break in the safety of the empty basilisk room, our adventurers turned their attention to clearing the remaining two rooms of dangers, intending to ease their path back out. The third room was of solid ice and held a prisoner beneath it’s frozen floor. Ferk and Vilhelm strung together a pulley system to extra a chunk from the top of the prison cell sunk below. They helped a tall, thin half-elf climb through the opening. The stranger introduced himself as Agave Orym, and explained that he had been kidnapped by Jarl. The warlock had questioned Agave about dimensional travel and some kind of device, but left him in the ice prison when the half-elf could offer no helpful information.
Now a group of five, the party continued on to the fourth room, in which lurked two dire wolves. Entering without hesitation, Vilhelm discovered that the room was ringed with quicksnow, which the others were then able to avoid as they jumped into action to slay the wolves. One was slain with blades while the other was hoisted by Gunnar and buried in the quicksnow. But now everyone was tired and desired to sleep before venturing further into the dark beneath the Arid Steppe. They elected to stay in the fourth room, using the quicksnow as a barrier to intruders but also rigging up alarms and complicated axe traps on each doorway.
They had barely lay down when the darkness in the room became denser and prevented them from even seeing the fire they had lit next to their makeshift beds. They prepared themselves for whatever danger lurked but, just as soon as it darkened, the space lit up, though now the icy cavern appeared to be a spring meadow. Noticing that the floor felt as before (including the areas of quicksnow) and that the axe traps hung as before, they quickly deduced it to be an illusion. By remembering the layout of the space and some clever maneuvers, they were able to return out the door they came and proceed further into the stronghold, where the illusion eventually faded.
As they made their way, a sinister voice began to ring out in some of their heads, urging them forward. Down a narrow tunnel, they spotted a flickering green light that recalled the magical fire seen at the gnome camp outside. Following the glow, they entered a large inner cavern lit by a massive green fire. Along the left wall, a blue wolf slept not far from a pile of gnome corpses. On the right, two stone tables with covered and surrounded by various detritus of metal, stone, and glass. A gnome, who Agave confirmed to be Jarl, paced between the tables and muttered to himself. When the party entered, Jarl was dismayed at their arrival on this auspicious night.
Sensing that the small gnome posed no danger, Vilhelm waded in to attack, but was rebuffed by a thunderwave spell and missed his strike. Ferk attempted to help but could also not cause the gnome any trouble. Meanwhile, the wolf approached them slowly and the voice in their head grew louder, eventually bending them all to his will so they could not harm the gnome or wolf. During a tense conversation filled with riddles and obfuscation, Jarl explained that the voice was Rahu, his patron, and that the gnome toiled away down here to make a device that would allow travel between dimension. Rahu, it seemed, had been imprisoned by Astrid and others but was seeking to return to his proper home dimension. The only way he knew how was to use a technology developed in this dimension, though the secret of its function was held by a race of sea people in Arissis, who had refused to reveal it to him.
Constrained and confused, the party reluctantly agreed to investigate the sea people and see what they could find about making such a device, though none were willing to fully commit themselves to Rahu. Eventually, Rahu came to believe they had an acceptable accord and he released the spell so the group (i.e. Vilhelm) could mount the wolf and smite Jarl, who was no longer of use to Rahu now that five great adventurers were on his side. Uneasy but exhausted, the group made camp in that dark inner sanctum, hoping this sleep would not be interrupted but illusions or the voice of the one who know believed them to be his team.