Upon returning to the world, the party discussed the situation and decided to return to the fiery realm in search of further information. It became clear that the inhabitants of the mysterious fortress posed some degree of threat, so Setah decided to research the history of the area further and discover what else there was to know about the history of this portal and the relations between the inhabitants of the complex and of the realm on the other side.
After some mention of a research facility located near the portal but remembering seeing no such thing when they had last visited, the party decided to make another trip to scour the deeper parts of the complex further. Their batlike friend used his powers to clear one of the collapsed passageways, beyond which they found the ancient remains of the mentioned research area. Though mostly deserted and ruined, a few traps and the like were still active, and they found a few mysterious inhabitants—fire spirits and flaming skeletons—who did not seem to notice their existence.
Deep in the labs, they found a mysterious sight: a freezing room in which floating blue crystalline formations provided an eerie sort of light. Upon further inspection they found a very old, and very conscious, skeleton who talked to them about some of the history of the area and his role in it: apparently he had once been the head researcher—the one mentioned by the local scholar’s notes as having taken over the research project by order of the government—and over time his interests had strayed to other things. While many of the researchers had continued their research into harnessing the fire spirits and investigating through the local portal, he travelled and visited elsewhere, and through details he seemed reluctant to share had somehow found or developed powers over cold.
He mentioned that he had a history of conflict with a few notable members of the group on the other side, notably the winged woman from before, who he called “Lile”. He said that while he estimated the power of the group was far beyond the party’s capabilities, he would indirectly help them if they insisted upon pursuing the conflict, since he had a grudge against them and wished them disposed. After leading them to a seemingly empty storage room, he retrieved a very old and curious blade from a pillar in the centre of the room: it glowed with an eerie blue light and emitted an uncomfortable chill to all nearby, but the wielder felt perfectly comfortable.
After thanking him, the party proceeded back to the Zhejun encampment, encouraged by their good fortune and prepared to discuss another incursion into the fiery world. Zinnanda in particular was not convinced that she trusted the skeleton’s motivations and felt that he was no doubt hiding much from them, but the rest of the group seemed happy enough for his assistance, and Setah in particular was interested in learning what he had to offer. It seems that the party is poised at the brink of some sort of conflict with the fortress on the other side.