The travelers left the dessert behind as they entered the mountains, eventually finding themselves in a swamp. They pressed forward until they found a clearing containing a large circle carved with runes similar to those in the room with so many portals. Consulting the black book, Gemi was able to decipher a few of them and the group decided this was yet another portal—one they certainly needed in order to chase The Black Hand to their origins.
As they inspected the portal, a group of Lizard Men approached. Communication was difficult at first, but the party soon understood that the Lizard Men had destroyed the portal to stop the Black Hand (who they called “bads”) from coming into their home. They reluctantly agreed to fix it if the party would help them defeat a large serpent that had been terrorizing the area. Once the monster was defeated and the portal open, they also agreed to watch over Buttercup until Cillian came back to get her.
[someone should write about that side adventure that BB, Cillian, and Bastion had at this point]
They arrived in a fortress of some kind and battled their way through it until they finally interrupted some kind of sacrificial ritual and discovered Jaryn on the altar. His face was nearly gone, replaced with a swirling maw of chaos, but before they reached him Cillian, Bastion, Gemi, and Meriele fell through a trap in the floor and had to fight their way back to their companions.
They roasted a dire boar in a pit of fire, much to his master’s dismay, fought off a necromancer and her minions, and dealt with a dwarf who had apparently been hired by the Black Hand to work in their dungeons, sending him back to his people. Eventually they made their way back upstairs to their friends and Jaryn.