We go to the mess hall to eavesdrop and try to find information about where Leucis might be. Flint begins a conversation with a cultist, casually asking about some of the people he says he used to know, and dropping Leucis’ name. The cultist, who has been there two years, doesn’t recognize the names. Flint makes an excuse to get up and move away when the communicator starts buzzing in his pocket. Lydia engages some women in conversation, to no avail.
Flint goes to the outhouse just in time to get a spoken message from Leucis, who tells Flint he is in the Serpent Hills, in an underground base. He is shocked to learn we are inside the compound as well. Leucis explains that he is a prisoner and also a servant of Lamentation. He can sometimes hear chanting when the door to his room is opened, but he has no idea where he is within the compound. He only sees Lamentation and his guards.
Flint grills him and learns that a crate of food is delivered every week, that Leucis prepares Lamentation’s meals, and that he believes he could put poison or drugs into the food if we are able to smuggle it in to him.
Arjhan tells us that the sanctuary is where chanting would be heard. As we discuss ways to impersonate the guards and enter the prison room, a cultist passes by and passes a message to Flint. It is from Pensiar, and includes a token which she instructs Flint to use to bypass the guards in the armory.
We go to the armory, and are waved through when the guards see the token. Inside, we approach an open door and we are waved in by a blond woman.
The woman explains that she is not Pensiar, but that she comes from an alternate world much like ours. She is who Pensiar would have been had she been born in this other world. She knows Flint’s counterpart in this other world as well. She explains that a couple of weeks ago she was ripped from her reality and found herself in ours, face to face with a half dragon named Sultana Pyre. Sultana is fascinated by her world, and has pulled several people here. When she does this, she has to send the alternate to the other world – which is where the real Pensiar is now.
She states: ‘Since coming here I have been scouring your history, trying to determine the extent of the differences. I believe I have found the root event that distinguishes our worlds.
“Several centuries ago, in my world, the Cult of the Dragon existed as well. Sultana Pyre lived then, too, though she was a minor player in the ranks of the Cult, rather than its leader.
“Then, as now, the Cult was seeking dragon eggs, and occasionally attacked villages that were reported to have them. She personally led the attack on a small outlying village.
“Four champions were staying in the village. Wolfwyn. Hadlock. Lathlaeril. Alleyn. They challenged Sultana Pyre to combat, and were obliterated. The Cult proceeded with its plan, which was the resurrection of the Dragon Goddess Tiamat. They were successful. Tiamat reigns supreme over my world. It is a bleak, dangerous land, and we survive as best we can.
“But in your world, the champions survived. They challenged Sultana Pyre to combat. Sultana won, and left them for dead. These champions recovered, and led the assault against the Cult, ultimately preventing their plan to resurrect Tiamat.
‘When I was brought here, I was offered a bargain. Answer Sultana’s questions. Serve the Cult faithfully. And then Sultana would return me to my world. That of course was not enough to earn my obedience, so Sultana made one more concession. Tiamat’s secret.
‘I must return to my world, Flint. I must. I know how to banish Tiamat. I know how to save my world.
‘“I trust you more than I ever would Sultana. And you have a vested interest in returning me to my world, so that you can see your fiancee again. I will fight for you.
‘In my world, there are no elves: they’ve been wiped out. But there are…lots and lots of dragons. And this should explain to you why Sultana Pyre is such a dangerous foe…She KNOWS that it is her fault. If she had been more careful, dragons would still soar above the skies.
‘She is alone. No dragons to call kin. Only her half elvish blood keeping her locked in this world instead of passing on to wherever the dragons are now. She blames herself. She would do anything. ANYTHING, to fix this. She is the most dangerous foe you are likely to ever face.
The difference between our worlds lies in Sultana’s actions. In yours, she left those 4 champions for dead. In mine, she made sure of it.
She is fascinated by my world because it gives her a glimpse of what could have been.
She sees what the world would have been if she had killed the four champions.
I believe the elves are tied to this. In my world, they are gone.’
After explaining all this, Pensiar asks how she can help.
Flint explains that we are here to kill general Lamentation, saying “We had thought to use the portal to bring in a small army to kill Lamentation … but it is well guarded. We have a possible ally who works as a servant for Lamentation on the inside, and thought to smuggle him herbs to knock out Lamentation. We are still trying to develop a plan…’
Pensiar tells us that she will help us achieve our goal of killing Lamentation, and wants Flint to figure out how to get back to her own world. She was transported to the village of Oakshield a couple of weeks ago, at the same moment the Pensiar of our world was transported to the other world.
Pensiar states the first stage is to clear the summoning room of some of the Cultists. She can get 5-10 guards to go thru the portal with her, but doesn’t feel that would be enough.
After some discussion it is decided to poison the drinking water of the guards with berbolo bush root, which will only kill evil creatures, and which Flint has in his possession. Pensiar leads them into the kitchen and Flint surreptitiously adds the tasteless herb to the food and vats of ale.
We go to the teleportation room, where groups of guards take turns going to the mess hall. Those just returning begin to look ill and fall over. Soon most of the groups have fallen ill, and we prepare to attack them.