Having rested and recuperated in the Watchtower for several days, the Pathfinders finally returned to Guiltspur. There they found the Giant encampments nearly cleared out, apparently cleaned by its prior occupants – who had fled as the heroes rested. Down below the cavern was now blocked by hand-placed boulders, slowing but not stopping the Pathfinders’ advance. With a few hours of digging, they finally continued on.
With three directions from which to choose, Hyourinmaru – the most adept at finding his way – chose a Northern passage. Iron Woman led the way, halting when she spotted a Cold-Rider Goblin flashing around a shard-looking metal object to a hill giant. The Goblin ran off into a mining shaft, riding the ore cart down the passage. The giant stood his ground, trying his best to hold back the Pathfinders – but was quickly overwhelmed.
The Pathfinders discussed what to do next for some time, finally deciding to follow the sound of a muffled voice in the direction of the Goblin. They followed down into the passage until they reached a round cavern. Across the chasm the Goblin held a tied-up Leroy Jenkin Dragonbane over a seemingly bottomless pit in the center. He warned the Pathfinders to lower their weapons or watch their friend fall to his death. Strange ignored the ultimatum, blasting the Goblin with magical rays – but unfortunately missed. The Goblin dropped Jenkins and began a retreat. Captain America quickly dove into action, literally, leaping into the chasm and grabbing the falling rope. Hyourinmaru followed, casting a spell of flight on him.
As Rogers and Hyourinmaru led Jenkins aside, Flash rushed the Goblin and exchanged blows. To the rear, reinforcements arrived. Two ghostly Vilkacis – ethereal werewolves – drifted from the walls. While one engaged Doctor Strange in physical combat, another possessed Iron Woman’s body and suit. Inexplicably, the suit transformed as well as her body, both forming a terrifying amalgam of beast and machine.
As the Goblin managed to slip away from Flash, the remaining Vilkacis slashed Strange until he fell. It then turned to Hyourinmaru, and the Dragon Disciple met the creature with claws and fangs of his own. Stark howled and rushed to Rogers, who was still untying Jenkins. Rather than leave his ally helpless, Rogers suffered repeated attacks as he finished untying him. Just as he was freed, however, Stark bit Jenkins – transforming him into a stocky, Dwarven werewolf. Outnumbered and overpowered, Rogers retreated defensively to Strange. There we revived him with a healing potion and worked at holding both Stark and Jenkins at bay. As Flash ran up to help, Jenkins bit him – creating yet another were-spawn.
Hyourinmaru and Strange magically destroyed the Vilkacis, allowing the group to focus on their cursed allies. Hyourinmaru prepared a potion of remove curse, waiting until Flash bit at him before shoving it down his throat. Cured of the lycanthopy, Flash helped them do the same for Jenkins – though the Dwarven warrior proved very difficult to subdue.
Lastly the group turned to Stark. Protected by her incredibly tough armor, Stark shrugged off most attacks as she unleashed her bestial fury on Rogers and Strange. Proving ineffective against his ex-wife, Rogers relegated mostly to defending others as Strange and Hyourinmaru blasted her with magic.
As Stark slowly began to weaken, Hyourinmaru took one final shot. To his surprise, however, the energy missile blast proved far stronger than he had anticipated. The blast of ice pelted Stark, sending her flying backward. She fell to the ground, her vitals and suit systems instantly powering down. She was dead.
Hyourinmaru watched in helpless horror and surprise at killing his own friend. Just then, however, JARVIS rebooted from a backup system. Stark’s suit flickered on and finally reactivated, along with several life-support systems. The suit revived Stark, and as she gasped for air it shifted and transformed back into its usual humanoid shape. Stark stood up, looking around at the Pathfinders huddled around her.
“What just happened? Please tell me no one kissed me.”