Sucked into a planar portal as the White Oubliette collapsed, Kaddik, Rufus, Sláine and Caleb – but not Ballast – regain consciousness in an icy tower, being ministered to by Janda-Shen, a strange woman with purple skin and golden crystals for hair. She tells them that she thought giants would be taller; after all, they came through a planar portal created by giants, albeit one left unattended for 40,000 years.
Janda-Shen is a genasi from the plane of Kythri, the Elemental Chaos – which is where the heroes have emerged, in an ancient giant stronghold now encased in ice. The bad news is that the portal (which Janda-Shen was hoping to use to escape the efreeti pursuing her) has stopped working; the much worse news is that the tower is floating on a great river of electrified lava and is heading for the Abyss, the infinite pit from which all demons spring.
After dealing with a group of angry ice elementals, the heroes find a crumpled letter (that came through the portal with them) to Miraan, leader of the Storm Hammers, from someone in the Liondrake’s Roar who signs their name “T’”. Apparently they had a deal to trade monsters (‘ fell taints’) to the Storm Hammers in return for a fortune in dragonshards, and to build the Hammers up as a terrorist threat that only the Liondrake’s Roar could defeat, letting the Roar take over from the Iron Watch as Stormreach’s elite military – but the Storm Hammers are breaking their half of the agreement. The letter could be valuable evidence in uncovering the conspiracy and rescuing Kaddik’s master, but that’s not much help right now.
Analysis shows that the portal isn’t functioning because the power source is missing; the records Janda-Shen found in the City of Brass say that the giants imprisoned powerful demons to use as power sources. They hurry down to the basement to find a goristro – a 15-foot-tall bull-headed demon – breaking through the wards that kept it imprisoned in an ‘engine pit’. While weakened by being impaled on power-draining spikes in a deep pit for 40 millennia, the goristro is powerful and tough. While the others distract it, Sláine and Caleb string a rope between two columns in front of the engine pit. Janda-Shen blasts the demon back into the rope with a whirlwind, tripping it into the pit, and Rufus infuriates it into blundering onto one of the spikes. With the power restored, the heroes tear back to the portal and jump through, scant seconds before the tower lurches over the edge of the Abyss and hurtles into oblivion.
Where did they go? What happened to Ballast? And where has Spark been while all this has occurred? Find out next time…