The chilling cold lasted only a fraction of a second, but Ivo shivered as if doused with an icy wave that soaked him to the bone. His hand stuck to the silver wire he held. Carefully he peeled it from the palm of his hand so that none of his flesh came away with the metal. "Back again," he said to himself.
The chamber appeared the same, two mist-filled doors, one to either side; the floor crisscrossed with lines, lengths of silver wire showing where they had risen from the cracks. Ivo was glad that the magic of the portal was playing no tricks on them. There were problems enough for a lifetime just dealing with the giants, they needed no more distractions only a place of rest and safety. So far they had found only trouble and mysteries that they did not need and had no time to solve.
He pulled on the wire signaling the others that he was safe and about to return. A step took him into the mist, his long nose touching the swirling surface, but a voice called out and stopped him.
"Ivo!" Talberth exclaimed, surprised but very pleased.
"Talberth!" Ivo let the silver wire slip from his hand. "Where have you been?" a note of caution crept into the old gnome's voice. His fingers flexed suddenly aware that he had dropped the wire. With reflexes that belied his age Ivo snagged the silver strand just before it disappeared into the mist.
* * *
"This place is amazing," there was a childlike wonder in Talberth's voice. "Ivo, these enchantments must be from the days of the imperium."
"Evil days," Ivo said. He pulled hard on the silver wire several times and waited for a reply. Strong hands dragged at the metal strip from the other side of the mist.
"We must explore, there is so much to discover here," Talberth went on not listening to the gnome.
"That will be up to Telenstil to decide," Ivo told him. "We are not here to search ruins. Remember that Talberth. I'm going back to get the others you stay here." Ivo looked over at the mage. Talberth had turned away, he examined the door-frame that surrounded the reddish mist as Ivo watched and did not say a word. "You're not listening. Talberth!" Ivo shouted.
"What?!" the mage spun, startled by the call, he had drawn an enchanted wand from his sleeve quick as a back-alley thug might draw a knife and held it ready, a word of activation on his lips.
"Come here, I'm not leaving you behind," said Ivo wagging a finger at the mage. "We will go through here and collect the others."
"That is the way I went," Talberth said, "well, that is where I was thrown, but it was through there that the skeletons caught me."
"Yes, we had the same encounter," said Ivo. "Harald made short work of them."
"They should listen to me now," Talberth shook his head. "If only I'd realized what they were saying at the time. They were trying to talk, I'm not sure what they tried to say but they were speaking ancient Suel no doubt."
"They are still rattling about," Ivo lead him to the mist, "we can let one pull itself together and you can talk with it all you like."
"I don't want to..." Talberth objected.
"Nonsense," said Ivo as the old gnome nudged him through the doorway and into the mist.
* * *
"Curse it, what is Ivo doing?" Harald complained.
"It's that portal, hells," muttered Harold. The halfing gnawed at his thumbnail in frustration. "We couldn't find some cave, no, we had to come here. I hate ruins, I hate the woods, I hate the stinking giants. When we get out of here I'm going back to Greyhawk and I'm not leaving it again."
"Wait," Harald felt the silver wire shift in his hand, "something is happening, I'm getting a signal from Ivo." The ranger stumbled back and a good length of wire came through the mist. "What is he playing at, there's the signal again. Harold stop complaining and grab your knife, there is something strange going on."
"You drop that wire and grab your sword," Harold told him.
"I'm not letting go till we find out what happened to Ivo," Harald replied, but he shifted the wire to his left hand and balanced his claymore as best he could in his right. Three strong tugs were placed on the silver strip and Harald gave back two short pulls. "That is the signal, he's coming through."
"That's not Ivo," yelled the halfling.
Harald let the wire slip from his hand and grabbed the hilt of his sword with both. "Talberth!" he exclaimed as he brought the blade back and prepared to strike.
"Wait!" it was the halfling's turn to yell. "How do we know it's Talberth. Where is Ivo?"
"Don't move," Harald warned and brought his arm back again.
"Don't be stupid," Talberth put up his hands as if to ward off the huge steel blade. "It's me! It's me!"