They are halfway down the stairs when Darius decides to act, and starts preparing to jostle his guard. Elo looks towards the portal and sees a giant demonic spider – red eyes glowing malevolently and mouthparts dripping. Her scream of panic causes the others to glance over also, and though none of them can quite make out the full horror, it is enough to make them all fight back themselves.
Darius strikes at his guard with his quarterstaff, and sends the man off the edge of the stair, breaking his neck and damaging two others. The adrenalin of seeing the creature causes some of Elo’s fog to lift, and she instinctively drives up with her dagger. Her guard foams at the mouth as she cuts into his trachea, and he drops her. She lands unsteadily as he falls down the stairs and knocks over four others. The drow at the bottom of the stair, stood either side of the portal, begin to fire at them, and Felix throws up a magical shield. Zege shouts out ‘Up or down?’, wondering if they should run for their lives, or if they should take down the portal. Before anyone can answer him, however, he looks to the top of the stairs, and sees a terrifying apparition – and decides that down, and away, is the correct option. Meredith calls down a flame strike on the drow who were shooting at them and annihilates them, then she and Felix also look to the top of the stairs, but instead see through the illusion at someone she had hoped not to see again so soon – Cece, the deranged cleric of Olidammara.
Cece has killed the four elves who stood at the top of the stairs – an impediment to the group’s escape – and has reanimated them as zombies. As she stands there, the apparently lovelorn cleric recites a soliloquy about the transient nature of man (“What a piece of work is man!” – from Hamlet), then demands to know where Alphonse is. They object to this line of questioning occurring right this very second, and ask if it can be put off till later, but Cece is insistent, and wields her zombies slightly to prove it. To keep the cleric quiet, Elo calls out that he drowned in the underbelly of Fangthane, and that he was buried in state, with full honours, in that same mountain. She says she’s damned sorry, but he’s gone and to kindly leave it at that.
Enezege meanwhile is trying to work his way through the remaining drow, but not getting very far and so Merri calls down another one of her immense flame strikes, and solves the problem so he can come and rejoin the rest of them at the top of the stairs.
Merri pointedly requests that Cece stop animating the dead, and she, Elo and Zege all behave coldly towards the cleric. Felix points out the poor lady is grieving, so to be nicer, but Elo says she didn’t bat an eye when she murdered the whole North Gate precinct. There is clearly some bad blood there, and Felix and Darius give each other significant looks. Merri tells Cece she is not to go anywhere near the dwarven capital, while Elo thanks Cece for her services, but could she kindly go away forever now? Cece tries to make one last gift of the reanimated Inquisitor, even offering to bring him back fully after she has passed over his effects, but Elo is glared at by Zege so she has to say ‘No thanks’. Cece sighs and huffs a bit and finally, after a touch more poetry, wanders off.
Elo and Merri then go and find Auriana and the Kobolds, while Zege explains about Cece to Felix and Darius, while the latter three return to the portal. Now the demon spider is gone – taking the portal caster unwillingly with it – Felix is able to dispel the demon portal, and then finds a book on how to use the portal.
Elo and Merri return with the Disciples of the Vassal and Auriana as their self appointed protector. Auriana insists that both Felix and Darius are ‘too little’ to cast the portal spell, so does so instead. First she dials into a beautiful looking pastoral scene – the afterlife of the elves, which they say is lovely and all, but they need to return to Wyrmholm first. So instead she dials into a nasty, sooty looking throne room, complete with Evil Red Dragon who blinks at them in surprise.
Drakemar congratulates Auriana on managing to dial into his home, and she shrinks back. He then looks at the rest of them, and says ‘Well, come in then – if you’re coming. Do wipe your feet’, and they enter the throne room.
Drakemar then summons Vaul to him, and they present Merri with a large golden urn that contains the rest of the God Clay. The Evil dragon says Merri will have to put something of herself in the god to resurrect its soul, as well it’s heart. At this point they blink a bit, and mutter that nothing was said about it’s Shashelish’s soul, but Drakemar has moved on. He says that of course they have come all this way, they must be tired and hungry and to stay the night, at which Elo grudgingly accepts, recognising that they can’t just charge of into the elven heaven without giving Merri a change to fully rest and recuperate.
They are shown to rooms, and are given simple robes to wear while their own clothes are laundered. During dinner Vaul expresses interest in what’s going on with Toreguard these days, and when asked why he’s so interested, he reveals that he use to be a mage called Fai Lumidas. The group give each other significant looks, and Felix mentions having met his apprentice. Elo, with aggressive politeness, suggests that he should drop a note to the poor (mizumi?) to say Fai/ Archon is well and safe.
Vaul then tries to talk to Darius about his abilities and Elo interjects with more aggressively polite comments about the dinner and the hall, and Felix follows up with comments about his fledgling undergarment business. Attention then turns to Merri, who is, despite her calm exterior, trying desperately not to get stabby at the pair of vampires. Zege notices her recalcitrant sentences and rescues her by talking about his destiny. Drakemar is especially fascinated by his mention of Githzerai, and they have a fair conversation about it before the dragon turns to Elo and says he may have a gift for her, after they get back from saving Shashalis. She is suspicious of accepting more gifts from the creature that she also wants to get stabby on, but he assures her the offer is genuine. The last paladin who came to slay Drakemar, one Oren Lancaster, perished in the attempt and left behind a sword. A sword that the dragon says was never really his to keep, and that he thinks will do better in her hands than in his horde. The others are flabbergasted, including Vaul – no dragon ever gives up something from it’s horde. Ever. Elo is a little saucer-eyed and short of breath; she recognises the name from the crypt where she was ordained. Drakemar goes on to explain that he wants there to be order in the world, not chaos. It is difficult to rule a land in turmoil, and he has every faith that she and the rest of the group will be able to make that difference. He then leans back and asks if they have any other questions, and they try to press for a little more information on what might meet them around the dead God’s body and the dragon gives them some vague lines:
“An orc that is not an orc, who serves He Who Sees With One Eye;
He who was the dolphin king, not dare touch his toes to water, stands pinned to a tree”
With that the meal is finished, and they head off to sleep. Later that night, Elo is awoken by footsteps outside their rooms, and listens as Drakemar and Vaul discuss how everyone is being manipulated by himself into doing his vision, even though he was at least partly true in his explanation to the adventures – he really does want to see a stabilized Allansia – it’s far easier to rule that way.
They wake the next morning and are presented with provisions, and then make ready to head out to the ancestor lands of the Elves.