Picking their way over the dead half-dragon and his defeated undead minions, the group gathered in the main hall to assess the damage. Turns out the damage wasn’t that extensive and Syl’s mending spell was able to bring the bright orange gem to almost pristine condition! With that matter resolved they were ready to explore the rest of the complex. However, before they got very far, a mysterious apparition of a skull materialized in the air ahead of them.
“You must be the ones who destroyed that white half-dragon. Melas said you were a troublesome lot. He also insisted that a half-dragon would be useful to have around, and as far as I’m concerned that turned out to be complete nonsense. While I don’t lament the loss of that scaly abomination, you have now deprived me of many useful undead workers, and that will slow our progress”.
Initially expecting another physical confrontation at the sudden appearance of this creature, the party was more than a little taken aback, by its frank and straightforward communications.
“I am Rabastan, and, although I reside far from here and am speaking to you through a remote apparition, I am in charge of these halls. We believe there is a powerful magical fountain contained behind a magically sealed door in these ruins. The fountain is said to grant special blessings of life to those who drink from it. If you agree to aid me in this endeavor I shall forgive your slight against me and allow you to leave this place in peace.”
Immediately suspicious of anyone who appeared on good terms with Melas, the group attempted to discern if this Rabastan was deceiving them in some way. The illusory vocal conduit in the form of a float skull proved difficult to read, however. In the end the group decided that they had planned to search the rest of the halls anyway and agreed to help find a way past the locked door.
“Excellent! I shall instruct my apprentice to leave you to your work then. He should be around here somewhere trying to solve this puzzle himself. He is a dark elf like myself, and probably the only other living thing left in these halls. You should recognize him when you see him. Farewell!”
With these final works the apparition vanished as quickly as it appeared. The group pressed onward up the stairs in the direction from which the ghouls and shadow mastiffs had come. Entering a long room at the top of the stairs, the team became wary of several dark pools of some unknown substance. Peering in for a closer look, Alston’s keen senses identified the mysterious fluid as dog urine. The group quickly (but cautiously) made their way across the room.
A noise from the next passage caused a brief pause as one by one the wary adventurers peeked their heads around the corner to spot a drow standing over an alter clearly in the middle of some ritual. Upon seeing this Syl, followed closely by Igneel, walked calmly into the room careful not to impolitely interrupt his fellow mage at his work. Peering over the components Syl recognized some of what was being done. Bone, flesh, and grave soil clearly spoke to raising the dead. However, the wood was a mystery for a moment until he recalled the wood woads they had encountered in the forest. Quite pleased with his assessment Syl announced his conclusions as he prepared to stand and watch the ritual through to completion. Kiethri had a different approach. After learning of the necromanctic nature of the spell she immediately insisted the caster stop his spell. Despite Syl’s efforts to encourage her to not interrupt, the dark elf’s concentration had been lost and he dropped his arms to his side in frustration.
“What do you want? I have a lot to do and I don’t have time for distractions. Rabastan already told me you were enlisted to help get beyond the door, so, go figure it out.” Brushing some of his jet black hair back behind his exceptionally long ears, the dark-skinned elf impatiently answered the questions of the group. His name was Nyloth, and, after some probing, Syl was able to determine that he was approximately twice as skilled in the arcane arts as our young wizard (who began to eye the spell book of this necromancer with great interest).
The group learned that misty step, dimension door, and teleportation had failed to bypass the door. Satisfied with the information from Nyloth, and a gruesome report from Igneel of dismembered body parts and an ominous dark pit in the small room behind the necromancer, the party began to move on in the other direction.
Sharing Kiethri’s sentiments on the nature of the ritual, Kaven was determined to interrupt it somehow. As the party left the room, he hung back eyeing the necromancer with a dull stare and filling the area with an…awkward silence. Nyloth finally inquired after the paladin’s fine dragon scale armor, and Kaven used the opportunity to begin a long winded tale of all the groups conquests up to that point. Despite the displeasure clearly evident on his face Nyloth quietly listened to the tale for several minutes. When Kaven reached the point regarding the acid spitting insectoids encountered in Old Haré, he produced one of the vials of acid he harvested from the creatures, and (despite the quick reflexes of the drow) he managed to “accidentally” spill the vial of acid all over the spell components on the alter.
What patience Nyloth had left, disintegrated along with his materials and he fumed as he demanded Kaven leave his presence. The devious halfling barely containing his glee joined the group as they were trying to decipher the unknown script on a pair of columns in the next room. Incidentally , the script was in halfling and Kaven translated to the group a story of a barren valley that was blessed by mother nature with a pure water source that formed a lake which gave life to the great forest that now exists in the area. The door to the next room featured an elaborately carved Oak tree, and in the next room there was a raised dias in what appeared to be a religious meeting house. Again a prominent oak tree was displayed, this time carved into the stone of the far wall.
Backing out past the room with the two pillars the team found a room with beautiful murals painted on each wall and the ceiling. One wall featured the vast expanses of space, one a forested valley from the perspective of a high waterfall, and the last wall was that of a desert with a pristine oasis in the middle. The ceiling featured a painting intended to look as if the viewer were looking up through a lake from the bottom. Recognizing the prominence this temple placed on the oak tree in the last two rooms, Syl searched the murals for a similar depiction. Sure enough he found the oak which was an illusion covering a small space in the wall from which Syl drew a key.
The group found another passage leading to the main hall with the sealed door. Alston observed that the door in fact had a key hole that looked consistent with the key the group had found. There was one last hallway to explore. The one with the glowing gossamer strands dangling down from above. The curious monk decided to lightly touch one of the glowing strands and in so doing were just close enough to see a large spider-like creature hiding in the strands. The team thought it best to leave those alone for the time being.
Now convinced they had found the way through the door, the group planned their next steps. The group quickly decided Nyloth should be destroyed what with Syl hungry for the necromancer’s spell book, and Kaven and Keithri convinced of the dark elf’s evil nature.
A plan was formed. Foradjinn would inform Nyloth that a key had been found and lead him to the door. First they would pass the hallway to the room with the columns (in which Igneel would hide) down the steps to the four way intersection leading to the mural filled room (in which Alston would be hiding), to the hallway with the large glowing spider creatures, and to the hallway leading back toward the magical door where Syl would be standing with an illusion of the key drawing the attention of the unsuspecting Nyloth towards him by proclaiming loud excitement about their discovery. That would be the signal for Alston to step out and back stab the necromancer while the monk would fly down the stairs and shove the wounded wizard into the spider webs. At which point we would all stand back and watch the hapless drow get eaten. To add in an extra measure of defiance against his dark magics, Kaven would stay back and come in to destroy the rest of his components while he succumbed to our brilliant attack plan
Foradjinn was uncharacteristically unconvincing in his first attempts to draw Nyloth down to the trap. “Great job, bring me the key” was the insistent response. Nevertheless, the bard was not persuaded to go and fetch the key, and indicated that if Nyloth didn’t come they would just open the door with out him. Grumbling to himself, he quickly left his work to follow Foradjinn down the hallway.
As they rounded the corner and Syl shouted “Hey Nyloth! Look over here! We found a key! See the key?!” the poor dark elf didn’t have a chance to question the extreme exuberance before the lightning quick elven monk leaped down the stairs and relentlessly beat him again and again punching straight through his feeble shield spell. A final powerful kick sent Nyloth staggering backward down the hall right on the edge of the spider nest. Not finished the monk chased him down with another devastating flurry of kicks and punches. This time the wizard held his ground and stayed out of the spiders reach. Foradjinn joined with a thunderwave spell hoping to push Nyloth just the few more feet back to feed the spiders, but again the wizard resisted. Seeing himself cornered Nyloth tried to cash greater invisibility, but just as he was starting to disappear from view Syl used his own magic to disrupt the weave of illusions their foe was crafting and Nyloth, frustrated that he was still visible, chose to misty step to the other side of the spider webs as he called out “LADIES!!”
At his word three spectral women passed through the walls. Unknown to the rest of the team, as he was busy dumping arcane materials into puddles of shadow mastiff urine on the other side of the great hall,, Kaven became possessed by one of the ghosts. Kaven watched helplessly as the spirit possessing his body made him skewer Sai (whom Syl had sent to recover the spellbook left on the alter) with a javelin. Sensing the sudden absence of his familiar Syl investigated and found Kaven unresponsive to his inquiries. Not sure what to do he attempted to slow the paladin with frost, but continued to miss and soon took a javelin to the leg and began to hobble away seeking some cover.
Meahwhile, Alston attacked one of the other ghosts, while Foradjinn put the sword of Haré’s radiant glow to great affect against the final one. With Kiethri in between keeping them in good health, Igneel was free to pursue the wizard. With his amazing agility he slipped under the webs and proceeded to finish the powerful wizard off with a final flurry of attacks. As Nyloth’s consciousness faded he swore to return and exact revenge against us.
Ultimately, Kiethri expelled the spirit from Kaven and the team proceeded to defeat it while Syl left the exorcism to those more effective than he, and instead ran immediately (although still limping from his javelin wound) to the now dead necromancer’s spell book.