With the threat of the gray dwarves and demons dispatched, your two groups started uneasy discussions. You exchanged your stories, telling tales of how each of you ended up in the Underdark. The elves were taken prisoner by the Drow, but executed a daring escape leaving them far from the surface. The human and tiefling were sent to the Underdark on some mission for Sune's clergy, but were ambushed and taken prisoner by the gray dwarves.
After more discussion, you came to the conclusion that it would be far better to travel together than apart. You all seem to be traveling towards Sloobludop, where you hope to get a ship across the Darklake.
Interrogations and Fitful Dreams
With an alliance formed, you turned your attention to the gray dwarves you had taken prisoner. Initially, they sneered at you, speaking in their native language. But after Lancel approached them and used some silver-tongued tactics, they became more amenable, if only for a little while. They told you that demons seemed to be everywhere in the Underdark, attacking and ravaging everything in sight. This news seemed startling indeed.
Later, while you were resting, several of you had horrible nightmares that left you shaken. For some, you saw writhing tentacles reaching out of the darkness. For others, you felt as if you were entombed in some kind of jelly or ooze. Yet others dreamt of being eaten alive by some cackling growling creature. Many of you woke more ill-at-ease than the night before.
A Ghostly Gorge
At the end of your rest, you left the gray dwarves behind to venture towards Sloobludop. After several hours, you came upon a gorge measuring some 400 feet across and going to an equal depth. In the middle, a twenty-foot wide rock with its top shaved off floated in mid air. It was attached to both sides of the gorge with huge chains with glowing runes. This seemed to be some kind of 'barge' that could travel from one side to the other. Nearby, a inscription sat on a small monument. Written in Dethek runes, it stated:
Survival requires prosperity. Prosperity requires commerce. Commerce requires paths below. Yet, only the worthy are granted passage.
Speak ‘I seek a path’ aloud and you will be judged.
Ralxus spoke the words in the dwarven tongue aloud. That is when a ghostly dwarf in plate mail and with a braided beard appeared. Behind him, in the midst of the gorge, a steady cascade of other dwarven ghosts floated slowly downwards, only to reappear at the top again. Slowly, the ghostly dwarf intoned:
I am Dunren Hornrock, Bridge Keeper of the Deep Paths. Our dwarfholds seek partners for commerce, but will not forsake our defense. Emissaries are welcome, but must prove their legitimacy. Traders will be accepted, but must prove the value of their wares. Messengers with word of threats to the dwarf-holds will be received, but must prove the direness of their words. If this is not your intent, you will not pass. Make your claim swiftly.
Each taking turns to make their arguments, you stepped forward to reassure the ghostly dwarf that your party did seek to provide value to the dwarfholds. Not long after, the ghost nodded his head and affirmed his approval. As he disappeared, the chains of the floating earthmote started to grind as it moved to your side of the gorge. As it approached, you could see that there were several dwarven bodies, long since dead, on the top of the rock. You found several useful items, including an enchanted rock, a suit of plate armor, a warhammer and several axes. You immediately took a rest to investigate their abilities.
Gnolls and Hook Horrors
Pressing on, you entered a set of cavern tunnels where you could hear cackling and howls. Venturing forward cautiously, two hook horrors came into sight. They didn't make any aggressive moves towards you. You left nothing to chance and attacked on sight.
In the midst of the battle, several Gnolls appeared around the corners. They slavered while attacking the Hook Horrors, yipping and howling. While you could not understand their intent, they clearly stated the word Yeenough, their deity, several times.
Not long afterwards, you defeated all but one of them, who fled down the tunnels. You stand there in the tunnels, a single torch for Lancel to see, deciding what to do next.