Feeling remorseful for Ivellios's theft of Zumneroth's board game, Lin spends the remaining hours of the party's recuperation in the dungeon creating a replica of the game with magic. The party leaves the infested dungeon behind them and begin the trek back to Minsirith's tower. Upon passing Zumneroth's grove, Lin gifts him the replica game, and Zumneroth offers further information as a reward. He expresses his confidence in Minsirith upholding his bargain, and tells them about the Underworld – seen by the party as an endless wall parallel to their travels in Pluton, and foreshadows their journey to Gehenna. Erthim offers to send back tokens of their travels, in hopes of cleansing whatever taint addles the old tree's mind, causing the scent of evil to waft off of him. They continue on their way, and present Minsirith with the statue.
The lich affirms the statue is the item he needed, and secrets it away to an upper floor of his dilapidated tower. After some preparation, Minsirith announces he is ready to transport the party out of Hades. He insists that each person make contact with his desiccated hand or arm, and begins casting a powerful spell (which Lin ascertains as Wish, and is relieved at their decision not to battle the powerful Lich). With a sickening lurch in their stomachs and a puff of inky smoke filling their vision, the air clears to reveal them standing on the shore of a small river flowing through a long underground cavern. A chill wind blows through and Minsirith informs them they are now in Krangath, part of Gehenna. He states his intent to travel upstream to a city called Hopelorn, and they choose to follow. Casting another spell with a mournful whistle, a boatman appears from downstream, plying his gondola against the lazy current. Minsirith completes a parchment contract, and gives it to the boatman with five larvae reduced in size to fit in a glass bottle. The party board the boat, and begin the journey silently.
After a time, Erthim boldy strikes up conversation with the lich about his unnaturally resurrected state. Minsirith explains that his unlife is merely a worthy continuation of his mortal life, allowing to extend his will across the millennia, performing his chosen purpose far longer than a few short decades. Erthim questions this, explaining his purpose is set by his god Heimdall. The lich asks why, then, Erthim couldn't use the eternal soul within him to better effect as an agent of Heimdall's will for thousands of years. By this point, Ivellios has become curious in the conversation, and asks how one achieves this indefinite stay of death. Minsirith tells them that they merely need to foster the spiritual power that lies dormant within all mortals, and study the means to properly harness it. Only then can they be unshackled from the frailties of mortality and exercise their will over the world for hundreds or thousands of years.
Erthim counters by pointing out the weakness of undead – surely they can be slain by the sword, or even destroyed by the sounding of Erthim's holy horn. Minsirith scoffs and says that such undead do not function of their own will, but are merely hollow puppets directed by some other being. Such creatures are far below those who have achieved eternal existence by magic, such as liches or vampires. Surely, Erthim would find such powerfully self-sufficient undead nearly impossible to destroy. Having whetted Ivellios's curiosity and rested Erthim's arguments, the rest of the journey proceeds in thoughtful silence to the giant cavern city of Hopelorn.
The domed cave stretches for miles in every direction, and the party see a massive city glowing with colorful auroras of necromantic magic. The sheer force of the auras and wards alert them that little in this city moves by mundane means. Rows of docks line either side of the river, with ships of various sizes moored in the harbors. The boatman deftly guides the gondola up to a dock, and the party disembark. Minsirith gives them a final warning that the living are not viewed so tolerantly by Mellifleur, the master of this place, and warns them not to use positive energy magic lest they offend this ruler. Without a goodbye, he turns and stalks off to his business with surprising alacrity.
Left to explore on the own, the party wander the empty, broad avenues of the city. They see warehouses filled with alcoves, each containing a casket. They see a handful of skeleton laborers performing menial tasks. They see in the distance a giant tower, seemingly crystalized from some sort of metal, glowing at each of its intricate edges with crimson cinnibar. Eventually, they find a single shop with the door propped open by a skull. They enter to find a pale man dressed in elegant robes preening his collection of valuable artifacts. He introduces himself as Stastagro and invites them to do business; the party are relieved to trade in some of the treasures they've found along the way for more useful arms and armor. He directs them to a couple other shops in his district that would consider dealing with mortals. When Erthim expresses their desire to find hospitality for the night, Stastagro directs them to a small community of humans burrowed deeper into the rock on the other side of town. With their business completed, they set out for Marrest.
Descending stone steps over a hundred feet below the broad avenues of Hopelorn, the party finds a small town in the middle of a bustling day. The villagers are farming, trading, talking, eating, and living life. After some cautiously probing questions, the adventurers are enchanted by the quaint and friendly village, and head to the local inn for food, drink, rest, and much-needed baths. The locals are happy to provide, and are fascinated by Erthim's tales of their travels. Erthim gathers a number of demurring young women, all interested to listen to his stories or answer questions. He discovers that the insular community is nearly self-sufficient, with certain services provided by revered advocates from the city above. The villagers stay willingly, kept happy and safe by these benefactors.
Meanwhile, Ivellios slinks off and heads back the surface, spellbound by the ideas planted in his head by Minsirith. He seeks out the city's grand library, the Nehorai Aethenium, just at the foot of The Oriculum, Mellifleur's tower. He gets less than a cozy welcome at the Aethenium until he expresses his interest in lichdom and the art of unlife. He eventually is let in to the Aethenium, albeit a smaller, cordoned-off area. There, he is allowed to read a small tidbit about the liches, mostly penned by outside observers and marveling at their magnificent power. The attending librarian offers that the Aethenium's knowledge is attainable by doing service to the ruling council – services that will provide more knowledge and power to be secreted away in the vaults, for study by those that rule Hopelorn. With that, he is sent away, the gates closing behind him with an unceremonious thump.