"A mind flayer? But why? Why on earth would a mind flayer care about Korthos Island and how does even a mind flayer control a dragon?"
"Lars, there's not much time but let me tell you what I know quickly. This is no sahuagin territorial dispute. It's bigger than you know. The mind flayer is Darastrix Achthend and he's trying to free the Lord of Eyes!" Dalsamira was intent.
"Trying to free Belashyrra? How can this be?" Heyton was aghast.
"When the Lord of Eyes and the other Daelkyr lords from Xoriat were imprisoned in Kyber thousands of years ago, the Gatekeeper druids created seals over the various portals to Khyber to prevent them from escaping. Apparently, one of those seals is here on this island."
"A gateway to Khyber? On Korthos Island? There's no mention of it in any historical document that I know of!" Lars was skeptical.
"History or no, apparently this mind flayer found out about it. He is eager to release his Lord Belashyrra and has carefully hidden himself here on the island to manipulate the sahuagin tribes. When his simple revolt started to go poorly, he decided to use the tool given to him by the Lord of Eyes to enlist the help of a dragon. Lars, he's got a Quori mindsunder crystal! He's using the crystal to manipulate the dragon. You must destroy it."
Lars looked thunderstruck.
"It all makes sense now. If that seal is broken, our entire plane of existence will be jeopardized. Mayor Storr has been a fool to keep this quiet- we need help!"
"There's no time now. That's the most important thing I came to tell you. The seal can only be broken when the moons of Eyre, Vult and Barrakas are waxing in alignment and that happens tonight. Lars, the portal could be opened tonight if we can't stop that mind flayer!"
"But where is the seal?" asked Twila.
"I don't know that," admitted Dalsamira. "But that mind flayer does. We have to stop him."
"Warn the villagers and tell Ursa to hold the gate a little longer. Talk to Ingram when you are ready and he will direct you to Amalgam who will bring you to me when I am ready for you."
"Mr. Heyton," Faith interrupted nervously, "I've been working with Cellimas, Jeets and Talbron trying to find you. But I'm not sure where they are right now."
"They're here? This is good news. I sent them word not to come here, but it must have not made it in time. I have an idea of where they might be. Remember, warn the villagers, have them guard the gate then talk to Ingram. And call me Lars, dear," he patted her shoulder kindly.
"Um, can I ask you something personal?" Faith lowered her voice.
"Of course," Lars raised his eyebrows.
"Kaja... well, Kaja thinks you are in love with her, and that you are going to get married," Faith felt awkward saying it.
"Kaja... what? Married? Oh dear, no. She's a sweet and wonderful girl but she's like a daughter to me! I can't imagine how she got that idea," Lars said.
"Well, just so you know she's been crying for you every day you've been gone," Twila drove the point home. "You could have told her you were leaving."
"I didn't want her to be in danger," Lars explained. "If she knew about me, the sahuagin might have kidnapped and tortured her. I told her I was going to talk to her parents about her future, I thought she'd understand what I meant."
"She thought you meant her future with you," Faith said.
"I'll deal with this later, we don't have time now," Lars dismissed them. "Go. Take this tunnel, you will get there faster."
He pulled a string hanging from the ceiling and a round door split into two halves and opened. A ladder lowered from it and they could see a purple force field blocking the way further up.
"This is how Ingram brings me supplies- it opens up near the village gate," Lars waved a hand and the force field disappeared. "Although you've destroyed the barricades and traps I've used to block the main entrance, this way will allow you to avoid most of the wilderness. Hurry now."
They climbed up through the tunnel and although cramped, there was room to walk in the long, narrow passage. A small ladder led up to a grate that swung open. They found themselves near the village gate. Dalsamira went back to the village with them, thanked them for their help and walked away across the village square.
Ursa looked relieved to see them pass through the gate.
"Thank goodness you didn't kill yourselves. You found him?" she asked.
"Yes, but we are going back to finish things with the dragon," Kal told her. "Keep protecting the gate."
"Most of the staff and guards are out there at the moment," Ursa indicated the wilderness behind them. "They've gone out to clear as many sahuagin and cultists as they can find. Not many people left in the village anyway,"
Ursa gave them each a cloak, one with a magical feather spell.
"These are yours, for your help. You can use it once a day to fall like a feather," Ursa told them. "It's very useful but remember, only once per rest."
Holman Kyerrh pushed past them, heading out to the wilderness area and shoving the cultist with the swirling pink cone on his head in front of him.
"Come on, you are going to show us where it is!" Holman said to the cultist. "I'm tired of your games. Take us to the catacombs."
Compel, Rodryn and Valtyrr followed him closely. As the rest of the party pushed through the gate, Compel pulled Faith aside.
"Are you well?" Compel asked. "It's been a long day."
"Fine," Faith smiled at her friend. She had no idea she'd ever feel this fondly about a warforged. But she wasn't inclined to confide in Compel when she was following Kyerrh. "We've found some things out but are in a hurry. Have you found the d'Jorasco woman yet?"
"On our way to get her now, I hope." Compel answered. "Be careful, all of you."
"You too," Faith placed a hand on Compel's shoulder. "Take care."
"Everyone, get something to eat in the tavern and meet me back here in ten minutes," Kalvenor told his team. "We don't have time to wait."