When the party woke the next morning the rain ended and the fog parted. Dravis thought he heard a distant call from atop the canyon. The mysterious Druid Gydion felt a lure as well. Curious, the two investigated, and found an overgrown path winding up the western canyon wall. Meanwhile, as Draken and Silaqui broke camp, Turin and Asa appeared in the Chapel—they’d teleported in! Happy greetings were exchanged, but afterwards, Turin turned serious. The elf wizard explained that he had been researching an ancient artifact on behalf of Tyari Varvatos. He pointed to the direction it was located in: strangely enough, he pointed to te top of the western wall of the canyon. He told the group that they’d need Asa’s help, and some potions he’d brewed for them. Dravis asked if he could take some things with him, for example, the geodes they’d claimed from the Chapel’s hidden chamber (and other cumbersome things). Turin nodded. Then, grabbing the giant Bag of Holding and other treasures—and placing his gift of potions on the ground—the wizard wished them all good luck, and teleported away!
The group climbed the western wall for hours before finally reaching the top. There, a rough-hewn, ancient path was cut into the lichen-encrusted stone. The Giantslayers followed it as it widened, ending in a dark, dusty passage that headed west. It was blocked by large, iron bars set into the stone. Gydion sent a prayer skyward, breathed a Soften Earth & Stone spell into the stone, allowing Draken to easily remove a few bars with his great strength.
After a brief discussion, the group decided to let the fighter-rogue Dravis stealthily take the lead (buffed by a potion of Darkvision that Turin had brewed), followed by Draken and Asa, and then the others. Dravis soon found himself in a large room with two exits, one to the south and one to the west. He heard movement coming from the southern exit, and heard a whoosh of air from the western exit. But his attention was immediately drawn to the north side of the room, where he heard the call from earlier, but louder: “Come here! Set me free!” Upon further investigation, he found a dragon-bone cage upon the floor, with three pieces of smoldering coal inside. Wedged into one of the bones was a short sword, and the voice seemed to be emanating from it—but only in Dravis’ mind; his ears registered nothing. Drawn to the magic weapon, Dravis picked it up. It then telepathized to Dravis: “I am Dragonfang. You belong to me now. I can teach you a magic ritual which will allow you to shrink this cage to fit into your knapsack. Beware the lumps of coal—they are nascent demons!”
He wrested control from the sword and, snapping out of his telepathic trance, woke to see Draken and Silaqui heading into the south exit, and Gydion, Kingsley and Asa standing next to him (and the cage). Dravis relayed what the sword had told him, which spurred Asa into action: “Paladins and demons are a thing. Let me handle these lumps of coal!!” Dravis nodded and went to investigate the western exit. Gydion was loathe to leave Asa alone with the incubating demons, but he sent Kingsley away to assist Draken and Silaqui.
Draken, Silaqui and Kingsley soon found themselves in a large stone chamber, in the middle of which was a pitch-black sphere of Darkness. All of a sudden, Silaqui was nailed with a Lightning Bolt, followed by a Magic Missile assault on Kingsley. A Fireball exploded as well. The spells were emanating from the black sphere! A familiar laugh split the air, and the three adventurers knew they were facing their recurring wizard nemesis! Silaqui downed a Turin-brewed potion of Spider Climb and climbed the wall; she then loosed some Human-Bane arrows into the sphere. One of them hit, doing double damage! Then, Draken downed a Turin-brewed potion of Mirror Image as Kingsley warily circled the dark sphere.
Meanwhile, Asa buffed himself, opened the cage, and struck one of the lumps of coal with his magic short bastard sword, Scorch. The lump exploded in a concussive blast, and when the smoke cleared, a Vrock stood in its place. If the little halfling was afraid of the hulking demon, he only showed it for a brief moment before charging in to attack. He was a paladin of Iomedae, after all, and seeing a demon take form before his eyes awoke a fierce determination in him. “Back to the Abyss with you!” he cried, letting loose with a Smite Evil (enhanced by Eagles Spendor and Divine Bond flaming sword). Gydion backed him up with his +2 Flaming scimitar. After a few rounds, the evil creature was laid low by the paladin(despite the demon’s immunity to fire), who shouted “Get the Vrock outta here!” The Druid and the paladin then slammed the cage shut.
By that time, Draken and Kingsley had bravely entered the sphere of Darkness and were confronted by the scarred face of the laughing wizard they’d faced so many times before! Between the evil wizard and the heroes, however, were six hideous, deliquescing zombies! Calling upon his cleric training, the dwarf let loose a Channel Energy, destroying five of them. Kingsley ripped apart the remaining one.
After regrouping, the party decided to explore the western exit. They found a long, stone passage with multiple sepulchers cut out, to the left and to the right. Suddenly, a vampire appeared behind them, cutting off their escape! Asa and Silaqui, being the closest to it, pressed the attack. The others, meanwhile, had troubles of their own: the vampire had summoned a Swarm of rats, which was closing in from the far end of the passage. Dravis ducked into a sepulcher, avoiding some of the damage; Draken sang an incantation of Sanctuary, causing the rats to go around him; and Gydion stepped into a sepulcher, downed a potion of Fire Breath, and waited.
The next round, the vampire clawed Asa, depleting two levels from him! The paladin staggered to his knees as Silaqui and Draken double-teamed the undead abomination. Finally, the vampire cried out and disappeared in a pink mist, dropped what turned out to be a Bag of Holding. At the same time, the rat swarm was turned to ash by Gydion, who deftly breathed fire upon them from his sepulcher.
Inspection of the Bag of Holding turned up various powerful magical items (see below). Dravis discovered a Secret Door which led to a chamber containing a handsome treasure, a box full of dirt, and a ladder leading up. Assuming the box was the vampire’s coffin, the fighter-rogue defiled and dispersed the dirt before ascending the ladder, his comrades close behind him.
Treasure_: Staff of Healing, Ring of Protection +2, Robe of the Druid, +4 Headband of Charisma
Next: The Forbidden Valley