The crystal cave is absent of anyone or anything as the Drow’s Bane enter and inspect. Naismith picks up the magical horn, horseshoes and feather along with the marid’s tunic and vest. The party swims toward the back and enters each of the three corridors; each corridor leads into a small cavern where a blue-and-white shimmering portal stands in the center. Talina inspects the first portal, “I think this is a portal back to Olhydra’s location, wherever that may be.”
“I guess we must go through the portal as our next step,” says Royce.
“Is that what you remember from your images?”
“Unclear as I only see the images leading me through the crystal cave into a corridor and then darkness, but I continue to travel through it.”
“Let’s inspect the other two portals as we need to decide which one to enter,” says Naismith.
After inspecting all three portals, the Drow’s Bane decide to enter the middle one. Nong goes first, walking through the portal only to appear behind it in the same room. The others look at Nong surprised he did not vanish into the portal; after an hour of getting creative, the party is still unable to figure out how to enter. Naismith, dressed in the marid’s tunic, vest and holding a bag of mined crystals, enters the portal only to pass through it in another failed attempt.
“You see! I told you dressing up as that marid would not make much difference.”
Nong laughs, “Well you looked quite funny in its garb, so that was worth it.”
The party continues exploring the cave for clues; they comb the platform with the stone chair on it, the sacks and tools but nothing seems to unlock the portals. Eventually, Naismith inspects the back walls of the three caverns and discovers a clue; the middle cavern’s back wall is an illusion.
Naismith yells out, “Hey everyone over here!”
“What did you find?”
“This wall is an illusion. I think we are not meant to travel by portal but through this wall, which behind it is a corridor that continues.”
The party moves through the illusion, with Nong in front followed by Royce and Naismith; Talina escorts a frail Mordrock from behind. The path is a dark ten foot corridor that continues onward for hours. After four or five hours of travel, the party begins to hear strange sounds coming from up ahead; Nong can make out that two hundred feet in front of them, the corridor widens. “The corridor is widening ahead, maybe into a cavern of some sort,” says Nong.
The strange sounds are getting louder, however no one is affected by their magical luring. The Drow’s Bane approach the cavern entrance. On the ceiling are two huge sea anemone creatures, who are making the noise; their long tentacles reach out into the cavern below them. The party realizes they can crawl along the center of the floor to avoid coming into contact with the tentacles. On the opposite side, the pathway continues into darkness.
Everyone successfully crosses the cavern and continues down the path. By the end of the day, they notice the water has become cloudy and tainted making it more difficult to swim through; the corridor also widens again. Thanks to last night’s Heroes Feast, no one is poisoned by the tainted water. Nong sees a few dark shapes swimming towards them. He signals to the group and the party grips their weapons preparing for danger. A large fiendish creature appears before Nong, taking him by surprise. The fiend’s gurgling voice speaks in abyssal, “Nong Sung Roc, it is time to come home. Surrender the wand to me now then we will kill your comrades together.”
Nong looks back at the party, who stare back at him wondering what is being said. Nong answers the fiend, “Send the master my regards,” and attacks. The fiends screech and spit acid at the party. One fiend attacks Nong while the other sprays the party with acid spit. When Nong kills the first fiend with quivering palm, the other attempts to flee, only to be caught by Royce’s sentinel attack. In short time, the second fiend is nothing more than a pile of black ichor on the cavern floor.
“The path continues onward but it’s getting late, we should rest,” says Talina.
“Let me take us to the Ethereal Plane for the evening then,” replies Mordrock.
Modrock casts the spell and the party spends another night in the Ethereal Plane camped out in a fortress dedicated to Tempus, except for Nong of course.
The next day, travel continues with Nong leading the pack; for several more hours the party travels down the narrow corridor until something changes – the corridor begins to ascend. Nong, Naismith, Royce and Mordrock recall the vision implanted in their minds and it checks out with what lies ahead.
“This is right, I know it,” says Nong.
“Yes I agree, let’s quickly move on, as we may be close,” replies Royce.
Without realizing what just happened, Nong crests the water into oxygen filled darkness. He halts the group behind, as he inhales the stale cold air and then descends under water.
“There’s a large air-filled cavern above,” proclaims Nong.
Naismith swims up, “Let me have a look around.”
For the first time in many days, Naismith inhales air as he looks around, making his way onto cavernous dry rock. He now notices the foul smelling air and cold dampness of the cave but continues forward. The cavern is large with a few pathways leading out of it; he tries to recall this image from his memory but only sees darkness in his mind. Nong peers out of the water as the others follow suit. Naismith feels an extreme cold near him but does not see anything in the darkness. He pauses for a moment, as he hears the others ascend onto dry rock, then makes his way back to the party. He moves closer to a stalagmite near the water and inspects it, but finds nothing out of the ordinary; Nong, runs up another and looks out across the dark cavern.
Suddenly, there’s movement ahead and all eyes dart to the cavern center. Everyone hears the raspy voice before seeing the figure rise up from the ground, “You cannot defeat him, he’s unstoppable…you are a fool to have refused the calling back to home and now it is too late.” The shadowy figure, dressed in full plate has pale white skin and red angry eyes. Mordrock freezes, his mouth agape as he recognizes the undead creature hovering to be none other than his fellow companion of Adventurers Incorporated, the fighter known as Rupert.
“This is your last stand Nong Sung Roc, and your companions too,” as Rupert turns and stares into Modrock.
“We will take back the wand and deliver your souls to the Prince of Undeath!”
“Modrock! Who is this?” screams Naismith.
Mordrock stutters, “I…know…him. He’s…a fellow companion of mine, Rupert.”
“Not anymore it seems to me,” replies Nong as he attacks Rupert with the wand only to realize it does not respond.
Rupert draws from his back a humongous two handed glowing green greatsword. Nong see’s in his periphery another shadowy figure, forty feet up towards the back of the cavern move; the monk blinks and sees four identical shadowy figures instead of one. There’s something familiar about the robe the four figures are wearing, especially the six stars around the neckline. Nong peers at the faces and sees pale skin, angry red eyes and…high elven ears.
“Oh god this can’t be!” exclaims Nong as he dodges the fell sword swipe.
“What is it?!” shouts Royce.
Unfortunately, no one but Nong can see the invisible undead Kendall hovering above them.
Royce and Naismith close in on Rupert and attack when they hear a familiar yet broken voice from the cavern ceiling, “DROW’S BANE! YOU CANNOT DEFEAT HIM. I COULD NOT DEFEAT HIM AND NOW I SERVE HIM JUST LIKE YOU WILL!”
“No, no! That’s…” says Royce.
“Kendall…” replies Naismith as he barely misses the magical freezing cold air blasted from where the voice was heard. Everyone except Naismith, feels the bitter cold engulf and pummel them.
Rupert takes advantage of the opportunity and wounds Royce; Royce feels a gash open up from the hit and winces as the pain seems to linger longer than normal. Nong responds with a burst of quick hits to Rupert as he watches Kendall from his periphery. Before Nong can devise a plan to attack the wizard, a female voice is heard in the cavern.
“You failed to protect us, Royce and now you will be corrupted as am I. You cannot stop Him. Resistance is futile.”
Royce cries out, “This can’t be, He got to Illian too! Damn you Orcus!”
The sound of a horn being blown overtakes the cavern as the Drow’s Bane glance up toward the corrupted ranger, hovering near a stalactite. Illian waves her hand in front of her as multiple beserker spirits rise up from the floor, battle cry, rage and charge the party. The beserkers spread out and surround everyone. Talina braces herself as spiritual battleaxes hit her, the same goes for Mordrock; Naismith, now standing on top of a thirty foot stalagmite, looks wide-eyed as several beserkers fly up and attack him.
As if things could not get worse, the party hears an unnatural squeal as the large undead boar companion, Tusker, charges from the shadows and flattens Royce. The party screams in response, “Nooooo!!!! He got to Tusker too!”
A crackling sound is heard from the cavern floor and Nong is nowhere to be found. Naismith is the first to see the quadruple Kendall appear for the first time; he fires an arrow at the wizard and sees the quadruple become a triple. “Damn YOU!” screams Naismith. Kendall pulls a star off his neckline and flings it toward Naismith; the star flies toward the rogue transforming into seven darts that connect with their target causing Naismith much pain.
Royce, surrounded by Rupert and beserkers, casts Spiritual Guardians which do not last for long once Kendall takes notice; the wizard immediately dispels Royce’s spell leveling the playing field once again. Mordrock and Talina, surrounded by beserkers, use their magic to hit as many enemies as possible but are quickly interrupted by Kendall’s countering. The battle is difficult for the Drow’s Bane, but they eventually get a moment of respite as Royce takes down Rupert and his nasty two-handed sword of wounding.
Meanwhile, Nong stares up at labyrinthine walls he finds himself in. He is confused as to how he got here but sprints down one of the paths hoping to quickly return to the fight. Unfortunately, he does not get his wish.
Illian sends lightning arrow after lightning arrow towards Royce; the damage fries the cleric who is now badly wounded. Seeing how Mordrock’s healing spell was interrupted by Kendall, Royce takes a risk and casts Mass Heal; Kendall pauses and lets the healing spell occur, realizing he may need an escape. The tide begins to turn, like it has in previous battles, once the warm healing energy washes over everyone, restoring them to full health. With a new sense of confidence, the Drow’s Bane press on as beserkers begin to dwindle in numbers. Naismith gets another good hit on Kendall making him a double from a triple.
And then…Tusker is the next to fall by Royce’s blade.
Illian lets out an unnatural scream in response and instantly vanishes from her position to appear next to Royce striking him with both scimitars, vanishes and appears next to Mordrock attacking him, followed by Talina and finally Naismith. Illian reappears five feet from Talina, who sees the undead ranger covered in bloody tears streaming down her face. Naismith and Royce pounce on the ranger and quickly take her down; as Illian falls she looks at Royce and Naismith and whispers, “thank you for freeing me…”
Kendall quickly understands he is outmatched as the party moves toward his location. He proclaims,
“You are stronger than I thought Drow’s Bane but I have learned a lot from you today. We will meet again!”
Moving his hands in front him, Kendall finishes the last words of a spell causing everyone to instantly freeze in time. He flies toward the ceiling, casts another spell and vanishes.
Seconds later, time returns to normal as the party almost collides into Nong, who looks happy to be back in the fight.