After the party and Zoe exchanged their tales, Jorli, the gnome who had confronted them in the forest initially, stepped forward. He addressed the party carefully at first, and somehow without explicitly stating his opinion regarding Zoe’s “leader” status, but made it clear that he had some misgivings about the situation.
He let them know that he and the rest of the gnomes who kept this post did not work for Miyoko, saying that the kaenti was respected, and an ally, but only, at best, an advisor and friend. The gnomes respected his word and trusted him, and so had accepted Zoe as the emissary of the Golden Child. That said, Jorli was not convinced of it, nor that they should trust the strangers to actually be on the same side as he and his.
A long conversation ensued in which Jorli questioned the party closely as to their intentions and motivations. He seemed convinced of Sister Briar’s intentions, if not her actual status as the “chosen one,” and seemed to have no difficulty believing that Elliane was on the right side. His greatest skepticism seemed reserved for Flori’x, whose origins he doubted vocally, and Nanai, who he seemed to worry over the most, though she responded mostly with a knowing look and a bit of palsied nodding.
Jorli and the gnomes seemed especially concerned about the locations of the scrolls of Dan’Tsu, and wanted to be sure that the party was being careful with theirs.
Ultimately, Jorli seemed satisfied enough to accept their help, and offer it in return, based largely on the word of Briar and Zoe.
The gnomes shared their knowledge of the situation. Their were around 15 of them holed up in what had once been a sacred place where fey folk of all sorts hid from the fomorians that ruled most of the Feywild. When the eladrin had come, it had been abandoned and forgotten.
When Khalipanofax’s temple in Mana’era had been destroyed, it’s fey reflection had quicly collapsed and fallen into disrepair. A bit before the redemption, the dragon Razcoreth had taken up residence inside the hollow hill that had grown over the ruins. The gnomes of Fliklee had been dealing with the dragon’s machinations ever since.
Razcoreth was, as far as any of the gnomes knew, the last of the green dragons, and he was fey touched in a way that made him even more deadly than a regular dragon of his age. He could teleport, and some thought he could turn invisible. They were very skeptical regarding the party’s chances of defeating the dragon.
So they suggested another option.
They revealed, to Zoe’s surprise, that they had been digging a tunnel towards the dragon’s lair. They believed, Jorli explained, that the scroll of Dan’Tsu lay in a sub-level beneath the main temple. They didn’t think that Razcoreth’s lair extended to those levels, and were trying to tunnel their directly so that they could simply…bypass the dragon.
The party was delighted by this option.
It was, the gnomes told them, Jehnaran the 10th. They thought they would reach the temple basement by the nightmark of Jehnaran the 12th.
Flori’x revealed that he had contacted Miyoko’s mind, and that he thought that either Miyoko or Dorratham and the Stillborn or perhaps all three would reach the dragon’s lair within a day or two. The party agreed that they needed the tunnel to be done as soon as possible.
They rested, and prepared to roll their sleeves up on the morrow and help dig.
By the end of the next day, they were being harshly banished from the excavation by angry, dirty gnome architects. Despite Flori’x adding guidance by communing with the roots of an ancient tree while assisted by a pair of strange bald gnomish twins, the party had managed to interfere enough with the gnomish mining efforts that there had been a small collapse, losing them more than a day’s work.
As the party contemplated whether or not to return to the plan of attacking the dragon, they decided they wanted more information on when Dorratham and The Stillborn might arrive in the area. So they sent Zoe and Elliane out to scout the forest along with the gnomish patrols, while Flori’x sought out Gomen, the gnomish warrior who’s panther they had fought in the forest. Flori’x wanted to speak with the cat.
Gomen was not friendly, but he allowed Flori’x and the creepy twins to speak to Sheeri the pather, who, after much flattery, promises of petting and a fresh goat carcass that Nanai inexplicably pulled from her magic bag, agreed to some long-range reconnaissance on the morrow.
The next day was mostly waiting for those who were not out scouting.
Sometime after mid-mark, Sheeri returned and reported to Flori’x and the twins that Dorratham and the Stillborn did indeed seem to be approaching swiftly, and that they would likely reach the dragon’s lair shortly after morningmark on the 13th.