The Trespassers stand in a place betwixt—a node along the titanic roots of the World Tree—safe from the fallen angels that entered the mortal they have left behind. With them is the slain head of the House of Irythil, Lord Nesterin, his chronicler Langwen, and a loyal retainer. Langwen notes that fate may have guided the Moonblade of Nesterin Irythil into Nevena’s hands. Nevena attempts the binding ritual that would see her mind bonded with the will of blade. Such an act would garner profound respect and authority for Nevena among elvenkind, allowing her to found a new elven Household. She completes the ritual, but is found wanting. Nevena resolves to remain a custodian of the sword, but will be unable to wield it without suffering its rebukes.
From their strange stone perch along the roots, distant pathways along Yggdrasil can be seen. The Trespassers and Langwen will take one of them. Nesterin’s loyal retainer, however, will not risk taking his lord’s body into the unknown vastness touched by those mighty roots. He will stay behind and hold vigil for his lord. Looking out, the Trespassers see one root arching up into sky, well beyond the clouds. Another spans the horizon, out to the sea, where the many swaying necks of an unfathomably large leviathan or hydra gently sway. The third way wends down into deep shadows. Down that way the root splinters into smaller limbs, each appearing to terminate around twinkling lights.
The Trespassers, with Langwen in tow, take the lower path, and head down into the shadows toward a diffuse green glow. This Yggdrasil pathway deposits them into the Dark Meanders, a cave system of such ancient and buried shadow that the elven eyes of Nevena and Langwen and the dwarven eyes of Songberg are no better than Eira’s human eyes. Yet there is faint illumination at hand. Luminous green mushrooms have sprang up around the ethereal closeness of the World Tree. The mushroom patch is home to a lair of ‘hook horrors’, blind hulking beetle men armed with flesh-rending hooks for limbs. As the Trespassers call out for each other in the dark, clanking in their noisome armor, they disturb these creatures who rush in to protect their eggs. There’s a fierce and terrific battle of chittering and clicking and scraping. Hooks tear at armor and flesh alike, yanking them about. The weapons of the Trespassers crack and smash the chitinous bodies of the insectoid brutes. In the end, only Søngberg’s miracles of Tyr carry them through. The half-dozen hook horrors are dead or scattered and the group considers their next move.
Søngberg then uses his True Sight boon to search the nest of the hook horrors for a way out of the Dark Meanders. He does perceive the touching down point of the Yggdrasil root hidden away from them, in the ethereal realm. Søngberg can sense, just as angels were present when they first stepped onto the world tree, that again the presence of the divine—in one form or another—is necessary to reach it again. So they rest in the pitiless dark. Upon waking, they wander, burning lamp oil and clutching on to faint chunks of glowing mushroom. They go mostly where the cave allows them, avoiding hazards such as deep, still pools of frigid water and steep walls.
After crawling through a narrow hole, Eira finds a skeleton half-buried in fuzzy, crystalline mineral deposits. Laying with the bones is a scrap of flesh or leather with a skill tattooed on it. Eira is wary and leaves that strange item alone. In continuing their search, they reach more still water. Tiny, translucent fish flit from their light in its cold clarity. Though her elven eyes cannot pierce this deeper darkness, Søngberg convinces Nevena to try her elven water magic which would allow them to walk upon the pool’s surface. Ahead, they see an enchanting blue light flickering under the water’s surface. Eira dons their ‘cap of water-breathing’, and wearing her mariner’s armor, she dives in toward the light. Eira discovers the preserved remains of a fish-person huddled beside a wand burning with blue-flame, a flame which burns underwater. As Søngberg and Nevena look on, still standing atop the water’s surface, something large and snake-like dives in after Eira. At first it seems like a fallen stalactite from the cave above, but this thing has tentacles and a beak and it swims toward Eira with alacrity.
The cold water saps her strength. The cave-creature enmeshes her in its tentacles. It is all she can do to escape and swim away—without the curious burning wand. Nevena pulls her friend up onto the water and they make a stand against the creature. Smaller forms of this despicable bottom-feeder, its progeny perhaps, also drop down. The slithering beasts are dispatched. Eira is shivering and rattled from her close-call. Søngberg soothes her; Nevena decides it is her turn to try to achieve the curious flaming wand. The cold water is too much for the elf and she does not resurface. Søngberg dives in after her. The dwarf too is nearly done in by the cold water, but he returns with his friend and the strange flaming wand. Nevena is even worse-off than Eira; she is too weak even to shiver. They rest then and there.