Everyone was still quiet in the morning, but some of the better-humoured Dwarves attempted to pick up everyone's spirits with jokes, and a few of the more serious ones stated quite firmly that Bani's death couldn't be in vain.
This time we moved as a whole group, and I discovered that it was just the four Dwarves I was grouped with who were light on their feet. The rest were somewhat less careful.
This didn't cause much of a problem, however, because there was nothing and no one to encounter for quite some time. It would have been a pleasant stroll if not for the dry, intense heat. Of course, when we did finally encounter something, it only worsened the heat.
And we had to kill them.
I've heard stories of elementals, but I'd never actually seen any as close as I did today. The closest I'd ever been is back in Hillsbrad two months ago, when I was sneaking around in Durnholde Keep. I don't recall what the elementals back there were embodiments of, but these were very definitely made of fire, and the only thing giving their 'bodies' form were a few lumps of molten rock. They were incredible. They radiated heat, almost too much to bear, but fortunately I was not killing them alone, so they dropped quickly.
We were close to the bottom of the Slag Pit at this point, so Oilfist told us, and you could believe it. It was so intensely hot that I was surprised my sweat wasn't just steam, but what was not surprising was that the elementals remained in that part of the cavern rather than further up. They were likely quite at home there.
I was soon told that at the deepest point of the cavern was Archduke Calcinder. I asked if we were going to be able to kill him, but they scoffed at me, then told me we wouldn't be killing him 'anyway' and that we were banishing him instead. They said, quite rightly I suppose, that the remaining Dwarves would be able to summon him back in no time if we were to kill him - which also made me realise that killing the other elementals was merely a way to remove them from our path, and that they still existed back in the Firelands.
I can't count how many elementals were at the bottom of the Slag Pit, but once we truly reached the deepest point, I almost passed out. The water in our skins would have evaporated the day before had spells not been put on the skins themselves, so fortunately, we had plenty to drink, but whenever I wasn't drinking, I felt as though I might truly shrivel up and die. It was not an experience I'd like to have again.
When we finally removed the last of the fire elementals, Oilfist gave one of the Dwarves a device. He said that this device would banish the Archduke, but, due to his certain strength, Calcinder would have to be weakened before he could possibly succumb to the device's power. And that job fell to the rest of us.
We hydrated before taking on the strange-looking elemental - he was almost like a fire Naga. Being that he was surely of great elemental power, he could probably cook us all where we stood. The few casters among us - myself included, once I was shown the spell - shielded everyone else and ourselves against fire as best we could before committing, and I think we can all say that we're glad we did. The floor beneath our feet turned to magma while we fought, and if not for one caster's quick thinking, we'd have sank into it. Instead, we were kept afloat in the air, and continued to attack the Archduke, until, finally, he was banished.
We didn't take long to celebrate our victory, because the heat and exhaustion from the fight would have surely killed us. We were teleported out as a group by the casters, and I swear I've never been so cold in my life. I don't know how deep the Slag Pit was, but I wish never to go to such a place again unless I can maintain a suit of ice around my skin. Many Dwarves, and myself included, collapsed on the ground as we came out. We rested there for what must have been half an hour before heading back to Thorium Point. Mountain-Lord Rendan and all of the Dwarves he had brought with him headed back South, towards Iron Summit, where they had come from, leaving the Thorium Brotherhood to head back to their own refuge. They were adamant to keep me with them, and I certainly wouldn't refuse. I'm still not so sure I'll be ready to travel for a few days after that exhausting work, and I had to admit that the heat had brought about a rather strong headache, and I was keen to sleep on my skins, rather than on hot stone.
My head is still pounding, particularly around the area I hurt back in the Badlands, but I slept better last night than I had while in the earth. Though that was hardly surprising.
Today should be a rested day, for all of us, but I believe they're conducting a funeral for poor Bani later in the afternoon, which I want to be a part of.
I don't know when I'll leave and head on my way, but for now I'm content to stay here at Thorium Point, and the Dwarves seem to be happy to have me.
-- Atherya Sunleaf