We've been leaving off on a lot of cliffhangers recently, which is good, because it keeps the players coming back. This time, we left off with a severely injured party, two members dead and one just teleported away to the gods know where. So where did Sarril go? Here is his story (we played this party out online, in preparation for our next session). . .
It turns out the touching the garnet power gem instantly transports the wielder to the center of the Fire Node, an oppressively hot dungeon full of carved hallways and doors. Within every crack in the floor spewed hot lava, making it an inhospitable environment indeed. Sarril was out of touch with his familiar, Krek, and unable to gain the extra benefits provided by him. Lucky for Sarril, the power gem made him immune to the environmental effects of the Fire Node. As he was collecting his bearings, another human walked into the room. The man carried a sword and shield but wore no armor. The stranger immediately said to Sarril "if you want to live, take off your armor now!"
Sarril wasn't sure what to make of this man - was he threatening him? The man repeated "I'm serious, take that armor off now. The heat of this place will kill you." Realizing there might be something to what the man was saying, Sarril removed his armor and stripped down to the bare minimum of clothing. The man immediately offered to take Sarril to a safe place, and Sarril followed.
The two walked down the hall to a door which was stuck tight. The man slammed his shoulder into the door and forced it open, then went inside with Sarril, and forced the door closed behind them. He then offered food and water to Sarril, and Sarril responded with his own Decanter of Endless Water, which was a welcome item to have in this place. The man introduced himself as Sir Gerard of House Hugard, from the Viscounty of the Reach in Furyondy, a paladin of Heironeous and proud member of the Order of the Hart. He could sense that Sarril was not evil, and that makes him a welcome addition to this place.
The two spoke for a while, introducing themselves and explaining how they got to where they are. Sarril told about the party he was with and their quest to find the gems necessary to destroy the evil artifact - a quest that Sir Gerard found to be noble. Sir Gerard explained that after many years serving as a squire for the Knights of the Hart, he was finally raised to full knighthood as a paladin and on his very first mission, he was given the honor of being part of Prince Thrommel's cavalcade as he rode to Veluna to be married. He doesn't remember what happened on the road as he was knocked unconscious by a spell early on, but he woke up in a cell inside the Temple of Elemental Evil. He was tortured and questioned for months about troop details at Castle Hart, but he never provided any answers. One day, out frustration, he was tossed into a portal and ended up here. That was years ago, by his estimate. Since then, he has watched many people show up here - almost all of whom eventually become food for the dragons or other beasts. But Sir Gerard's strong will and quick wit have managed to keep him safe. This is a test from Heironeous, who is saving him for some greater purpose. Perhaps Sarril's appearance here is a sign.
Sir Gerard also explained to Sarril all about the four nodes and what types of creatures could be found there. The water and air nodes being the most dangerous because they are open-air and therefore the party would be most susceptible to the dragons hunting overhead. Each node has multiple dragons. Earth = black, Fire = Red, Water = White and Air = Blue. Sir Gerard goes to the water node only to collect water and to kill some of the aquatic creatures for food, but returns as quickly as possible, avoiding the other nodes. He also explained who some of the other inhabitants of the nodes were - all of them evil, so Sir Gerard would never ally with them to try to find a way out. But the arrival of a party of non-evil adventurers on a quest for good is what he has been waiting for.
Sarril then mentioned that the rest of his party would be looking for him, and he needed to get back to them immediately. Sir Gerard then equipped himself and escorted Sarril through the hallways of the Fire Node dungeon, opening stuck doors and closing them behind as they went, until they reached a portal leading to the Earth Node, and stepped into it.