A door beyond the crystal platform rolled open and Jeets rushed out.
"Hurry, in here where it's safe," he called.
They quickly moved into the small room as Aussircaex began to beat her wings. The icy wind generated by her wing buffet started to blow the gold coins in the room around like leaves. The door rolled shut and they heard the winds slam against it.
"Thank you, mortals," they heard her say just before there was a sharp crack and a whoosh. She was gone.
"You've done a splendid job," Lars told them.
"How did you get in here?" Faith asked Jeets.
"Ah, piece of cake," he answered. "Talbron here cast invisibility on us when we reached the crystal room and we just ran across the floor into the tunnel that leads to this room."
"Did you hear what he said about the seal?" asked Twila.
They had not. Twila repeated the conversation they had overheard with the sahuagin leader.
"So he's on his way to unleash a giant scrag on the island, one that's too strong even for them to deal with."
"This is Troll Island!" Faith said suddenly. "The song, the one the bards sing, about a great troll frozen forever on an island. It's this island!"
"Let's get back to the village quickly," Lars said and with a wave of his hand, a glowing blue door of light appeared. "Walk into this dimension door."
They did and each was teleported to the dock of the village harbor. Captain d'Thuranni nearly had a heart attack when ten people suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
"Lars Heyton, you're alive!" he said in surprise.
"Yes, for now," answered Lars. "But we are all in danger still. Have the Mayor meet me in the Wavecrest as soon as possible."
It was dark but for the first time since she arrived, Faith realized it wasn't snowing. Already the snow and ice were retreating around the little village as the tropical weather asserted itself. A warm breeze blew in off the harbor, carrying the scent of fresh sea air.
In the short time it took them to walk from the harbor to the tavern, the word had spread. The dragon had left! The sahuagin were vanquished. Lars Heyton had returned and everything was going to be OK.
As they entered the tavern, Dalsamira rushed up to Lars and hugged him.
"You're alive! I've been so worried. Did you take care of the...?"
"The mind flayer is dead," he spoke quietly. "But we have other problems."
Kaja, who had run across the tavern to see Lars had stopped dead in her tracks to see Dalsamira throw herself into his arms. Now she was in a rage as she approached the pair.
"Where have you been? Why are you hugging her?" demanded Kaja, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
"Kaja, we need to talk, my dear. I think we have a misunderstand-" Lars stopped abruptly as Kaja smacked him square across the cheek. She then turned and ran into the kitchen, sobbing. The entire tavern went silent.
"I'm going to go talk to her," Lars said to no one in particular then disappeared into the kitchen. Conversation in the room immediately resumed.
"He might be busy for a while. Let's regroup outside," Kalvenor said and the team left the tavern.
Once outside, he led them to the gate. The light of three nearly full moons brightened the landscape and they could easily see around them.
"Where could you hide a giant troll on this island?" he asked the team.
"Hmnn," said Ardan. " There are many, many tunnels and caverns on this island, some natural, some built by giants or maybe even Quori and some by sahuagin. But if this creature has been around since the time of the giants, he must be in either a natural cavern or a giant-made one."
"Logical," agreed Kalvenor. "So where do we start?"
"Darastrix mentioned the harbor. There is a sewer grate in the middle of the lagoon just outside the harbor that I've never been able to get in as it is always heavily guarded. I think we should start there."
"Is everyone ok? Are you up for this? I don't know what we are getting ourselves into," Kal warned them.
"I don't much like the alternative of allowing some ancient troublemaker from Xoriat to escape and drive us all mad," Thysmac said. "I don't see that we have much choice."
The rest of the party agreed.
The gate was no longer guarded. Former cultists had started showing up at the gate, disoriented and asking to be taken in. With the mindsunder crystal broken, many of them barely remembered their own names. Most of the cultists had been taken from ships and were not familiar with the island, so the villagers were reaching out to them, careful to separate the true cultists from the mind-controlled. There was much confusion and chaos.
Ardan led them out of the gate and directly to the small overlook just off the path. They saw a small lagoon below and as they watched, two sahuagin raised the lid on a small manhole cover that protruded just above the surface.
"I believe that's a water intake tube for the ancient sewer system," explained Ardan. "But it doesn't look like it's being used. We should investigate that area first."
One by one, they jumped off the cliff and into the lagoon. Swimming over to the manhole cover, they were able to raise it and drop in, sliding down a rope just like the sahuagin had. They found themselves in a stone tunnel, much like the ones where the captured villagers were being kept. They heard voices ahead and Kalvenor motioned for everyone to back up to the shadowy wall near the rope.
"Is it true? The dragon is gone?" one voice said.
"How should I know? My orders are to come here and set the beast free," answered another fishy voice.
The voices moved further away and Kal motioned for everyone to follow. They stuck to the wall, moving as quietly as possible. The tunnel sloped downward and split into two tunnels. They saw the backs of the two sahuagin going through the right tunnel and followed. At the end of the tunnel, a door led into a large room with a floor made of thick ice. A huge spray of frosty air came from the far wall, blowing out every few seconds.
They snuck into the corner of the room and watched the two sahuagin approach another sahuagin who was standing next to a round opening in the floor.
"Are you the last?" he asked.
"Yes," answered one of the newly arrived sahuagin.
The three of them dropped down the hole. Ardan snuck across the room and looked down the tube. He could see nothing but the icy floor below but he could hear the sahuagin. He motioned for the others to come.
"What about the ice spider?" they heard one sahuagin ask.
"We'll have to kill it as well," answered a voice they recognized as Vekz Spluhr. "We won't need it to guard the thing after tonight anyway."
"How do you plan to kill Kraak? We put her here because she is so deadly," another voice asked.
"Why are we doing this at all? The dragon is gone, the mind flayer is dead!" cried one of the newly arrived sahuagin. "It's time to save ourselves and leave this island."
"What?" asked Vekz. "How do you know this?"
"I saw the dragon fly away. I've seen the cultists fleeing, no longer under the control of the crystal. All is lost, I tell you," answered the sahuagin. "There are not enough of us to kill this troll, he will be the end of us."
"We will not sacrifice ourselves," agreed Spluhr, slowly realizing that the plan he was following was not his own. "We shall leave this place. It is too late to stop the scrag from awakening, he is nearly awake now. We must move quickly."
Ardan waved everyone back and they moved quickly into a side room where a couple of crates hid them as a dozen sahuagin climbed up and out of the tunnel and ran quickly back the way they had come.
"So, we have a vicious ice spider and a groggy giant frost troll down there..." Thysmac assessed the situation. "Should we go back for help?"
"I don't think we have time," answered Kal."Let's get down there and see what we are up against."
They climbed down the ladder and found themselves in a small alcove that housed a rest and a resurrection shrine. This level was still an active part of the sewer system and water flowed down a long ramp towards them. In the distance they could see more icy mist coming from something.
"Be careful," warned Kalvenor. "There's an ice spider in here somewhere."
As they walked slowly up against the flowing water, they could hear a chittering sound up ahead. It gave Faith shivers.
"Why spiders?" she heard Thysmac mumble.
They reached a raised platform where the water rushed through the grates underneath. From there, they could see a device at the upper end of the ramp that was blowing two jets of icy cold towards them. Beyond the platform with the ice jets, they could see heavy bars blocking the way. The spider could not be seen.
Carefully they walked towards the icy platform. As they reached the edge of it, Twila put up a hand. She sensed something.
"I think I can disable these traps, give me a second."
Twila found two boxes, one on each side of the hallway but still the jets pumped icy spray towards them, blocking the way forward. Beyond the spray and behind the bars, Faith could just make out the outline of something very, very large, moving slightly.
Without warning, a huge ice spider jumped out from a corner, taking Malut by surprise. With a yell he swung at it, but was too late. The deadly spider attacked him quickly, blowing icy spray directly on him. He fell over into a heap, lying in the rushing water. The creature took out Thysmac next with a few breaths of pure ice. Ardan backed up and shot it with his long bow but Kraak quickly chased him down and in seconds, he too was lying unconscious on the floor.
Faith was having trouble landing a hit on the monster as it moved constantly, jumping around before it ran down the flowing ramp to attack Ardan. She managed to get a few punches in as it turned to freeze Twila who had snuck up on its side to stab it with her dagger. She managed to land a killing blow just as it turned his attention to Kalvenor, incapacitating him as well. The giant spider let out a high pitched scream as it curled up its legs and died.
Faith was panting as she looked around at her friends, unconscious. She only had one charge on her bracers of aid. What was she going to do? Then panic froze her in place as she heard the sound of a massive body shifting. Looking over her shoulder, she could see the massive blue face of the scrag beyond the gate. It would be fully awake soon.
She made a quick decision, touching her bracers then Kal. He sat up immediately.
"Thank you," he mumbled, holding his forehead with one hand.
"Kal, get the others up."
"Working on it," he mumbled as he got unsteadily to his feet.
She looked carefully at the contraption between her and the frost troll. It seemed to be a puzzle like the one she had solved in the storehouse to get the scroll. A raised platform had tiles across the top and sides, each with a straight or angled line on it. The lighted paths provided power to the icy spray. Carefully watching and counting the seconds between sprays, she waited for a moment when the spray was resetting, then leaped onto the device. Quickly, she turned a few of the lighted tiles that connected the sprays and they stopped blowing.
"Nice work," said Kal who was leaning over Malut to revive him.
"Who interrupts my slumber?" boomed a voice.