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So off we went to Arik, Bel, Walis, Voran, Sun-Ok, me and Port. With Durok leadin’ the way. Or Port doin’ the leadin’, dependin’ on how ya was lookin’ at it. Men is like that ya know . . . each one o’ em always wants to be doin’ the leadin’.

Anyways, ta get to Arik, ya first gotta get to Bal’ynaz, the Duergar city. A long walk through Thrym’s pass and a short walk through a cave’ll at the end o’ the pass’ll get ya there, but there’s also an express wagon you can take, what leaves from Foothold every couple o’ minutes. Takin’ the wagon’s much safer and that’s what we done.

After ya gets ta Bal’ynaz, ya gotta cross the timeless desert to get to Arik and there ain’t no wagon fer ya to be jumpin’ on. Nope. Ya gotta walk. Now the timeless desert’s directly under Thrym’s control and he ain’t likin’ anyone traipsin’ across it, ya know? If he’s payin’ attention, and he sees ya trespassin’ in his desert, he’ll start droppin’ things outta the sky on top o’ ya just outta sheer meanness!

Awful things! Frost giants! Dozens o’ ‘em! Woolly Mammoths! They’s like hairy ele-fonts only much bigger and they tries ta squash ya under their feet and gore ya with their tusks! And Dragons! Oh geez! Mayhap four or six at a time belchin’ their fire at ya! Winter wolves howlin’ and snappin and tryin’ ta rip ya to pieces!

But . . . Thrym musta been busy with somethin’ else and he ain’t seen us, cause we made it across the desert without havin’ any problems. Soon we was outside the walls o’ Arik and makin’ our way to the gate so’s we could get inside the city, and oh geez, all hel broke loose! Aloonies! A whole bunch o’ ‘em popped up outta nowhere and jumped right over the wall and came straight for us!

Now Aloonies is somethin’ like mind-flayers, dressed up in dark robes and havin’ squiggly tentacles hangin’ outta their faces. But they’s got a much stronger magic, and it’s a real chore ta battle even one o’those things, never mind five or six!

Well, since I was nearest to where they’d jumped over the wall, o’ course they attacked me first! I ain’t even got a chance ta raise me sword before everything went black and when I awoke, Garm was standin’ there above me, mumblin’ somethin’ ‘bout if I decided ta stay awhile, he’d let me have a nice room with a view! I told him no thanks, I’d be goin’ soon. Then I felt somethin’ tuggin’ on me, pullin’ me away from Garm and his fire and back to the spot where the Aloonies had attacked.

Ya know. . . when ya goes ta Arik, yer half expectin’ you’ll be seein’ Garm if ya stay there long enough. Yup! The longer ya dally in Arik, the better yer chances o’ makin a visit to Garm! But . . . I ain’t even got inside the gates yet when the Aloonies took me. I’ll tell ya, dyin’ before I even got inside the city, put me in an awful snit fer the rest o’ the night!

Anyways the aloonies had moved on and we made our way to the gate that led into the lost city of Arik. Frankie was needin’ a seed, I ain’t sure why, and we was gonna look fer it in an ancient part o’ the city.