The Worlds of Elia

Chapter 4: Temple of the Dragon Goddess

A few months have passed since the team of adventurers quelled the peasant uprising. They have made themselves a new home within the slums of Cardia, and have spent their days working to improve conditions around the city. Sentinel opened up a smithing operation in the city, teaching common folk how to meld iron into weapons and armor. Flint, with help from Sentinel and his new craftsmen, built an orphanage in the poorest part of the Cardian slums. Dingleberry began training his own unit within the Cardian militia, teaching them in the ways of the agnostic monk. Even Zelvan pitched in, and worked with the Merchant’s Guild to train fisherman and help secure fishing boats for out-of-work peasants.

All was going well with their new life in Cardia, when Sentinel, Flint, and Zelvan awake one morning to a loud knock on their door. On the other side iss Oswald, asking to come in and discuss some business. Oswald begins by sincerely thanking the group for all their service to the people, and tells them he’s got a big job. Sites like Ratatoskr’s tomb have been popping up all over Gravenholm, and Oswald has a lead on a new one that is not known to the Confederacy. He believes the treasure here could be even better than what was in the tomb, and urges the group to go before the Confederacy is able to find it and claim the treasure for their own. Whatever is in there he feels will be misused under the Confederacy’s control, and should be given to the people. Oswald then introduces Buldge and Solarius, two men he’s hired to be his personal guard, and instructs him to accompany the group.

On the way to the dig site, the group hears distant screams in an intelligible language, followed by what sounds like clashing steel. They run toward the sound and see their old companion Varis engaged in melee combat against a trio of otherworldly creatures. They then notice a dimensional tear closing up, proving these creatures have come from another plane of existence. The group immediately jump in to help Varis fight off the githyanki jailors. On the verge of death, the leader of the jailors attempts to pull Varis and Buldge into the void, but Varis retaliates with a fatal blow with his scimitar. Now safe from his former captors, Varis agrees to help the group raid the tomb.

The group arrives at the site, and are met by a large brass door carved out of a hillside. The door looks like it has been blown open by force. They walk in to a large, empty chamber. Toward the back stands a bronze statue of a bipedal creature with one arm and two heads. Upon further inspection, it appears as there were originally five heads, but three of them were broken off, along with the left side of its upper torso. Solarius draws upon his draconic heritage to conclude this statue is of the goddess, Tiamat, and that this is not a tomb but rather a temple built to worship her. Behind the crumbling statue to the right is like pile of rocks caved in on what was once a hallway, and an open pathway to the left.

The group continues on through the long hallway, and are immediately met by a dozen of dead bodies scattered along the floor. It seems there were a series of traps that have already been set off. There are bodies impaled by large arrows shot from panels in the wall, false panes leading to spike pits, and at the end of the hall lies two more bodies crushed under a large stone door. Upon further inspection, the group spots a few of the dead are wearing Cardian militia armor, but most are just wearing common clothes and aren’t armed with anything more than a simple dagger.

The group continues carefully through the hallway to come across another open area. Inside lies another dragon statue similar to the one seen at the temple’s entrance, but completely intact. As soon as the group walks in the room, a metal gate slides down from the ceiling, locking them in. Once inside, they can make out the golden statue’s figure of an imposing humanoid figure with five dragon heads. Solarius confirms his suspicions that this is, in fact, the Dragon Goddess, Tiamat. On the walls are mounted statues of five individual dragon heads, all facing the center of the room. The mounted heads are all colored differently—red, blue, green, white, and black. Sentinel and Varis then notice a jeweled chest at the statue's foot, clearly once used for worldly offerings. They agree that opening the chest is the only way to press on, and inspect the exterior of the box, hoping to disable a trap.  

Varis is unable to detect any traps, and so he opens the lid of the chest. Unfortunately, the mechanism lying inside of the box activates, and sprays Varis' eyes with a corrosive liquid, blinding him. The rest of the group hears a loud 'CLICK' as the red dragon head begins to move. Another CLICK and the red dragon head breathes a pillar of fire right onto the group. CLICK This time, the blue colored dragon head begins to move. The blue dragon head opens its mouth and unleashes a burst of electric energy. The lighting surges through Zelvan's body and neutralizes his body's nerve ending, paralyzing him from head to toe. It's at this point the party of adventurers notice the carvings on the floor.

There are a series of six tiles, each depicting elements representing that of the dragons on the wall. Flint makes note that the tiles tend to light up as soon as someone steps on them, and tests his theory a few times. CLICK Meanwhile, the green dragon head comes to life and releases a cloud of poisonous gas onto the group. Varis and Solarius start to feel the effects of the poison as the gas reaches their lungs. The group then splits to all stand on each tile—6 people for 6 tiles. The tiles all light up at once, and then go dark. The room falls silence for a few seconds, and then…-CLICK- The white dragon springs to life as the group scrambles to find a new solution to the puzzle.

The white dragon rears its head and breathes a cone of icy wind toward the party, dealing heavy damage. As the white dragon recedes into the wall, the group tries to decipher other ways to activate the floor tiles. -CLICK- Sentinal, Flint, and Buldge stand toward the outer ring of the room, in an attempt to not activate the floor tiles. Unfortunately, they aren't fast enough as one more -CLICK- stirs the final black dragon head, which spews a thick, corrosive liquid onto the group. The liquid burns clean through Sentinal's body, as well as Flint and Buldge's metallic armor.

One by one, the party leaps to the side of the room, successfully deactivating the floor tiles. As each adventurer slides up against the wall, the remaining dragon heads once again become active. All five heads begin to breathe in unison, and the group ducks toward the wall to withstand the blow. Fire eminates from all walls of the chamber, directed entirely at the center of the room. The fire increases in intensity for a few more seconds, until CLICK With that, the metal gate opens and the heads once again become motionless.

With each adventurer nearing death, Sentinal carefully leads the group out of the chamber one by one. He carries the paralyzed Zelvan, followed closely behind by now unarmored Buldge and Flint, along with Solarius guiding a blinded Varis. They make it back to the temple entrance and are met two more men dressed in Cardian armor. The men look surprised to see the group emerge from the chamber. As the men draw daggers on the group, Flint notices the purple armbands each man is wearing, and concludes they are definitely not friendly. 

Despite being on the verge of death, the group makes short work of the assassins, and takes a minute to collect their thoughts. It's become clear that not only had Oswald already cleaned out whatever had once laid inside this temple, but also had meant for them to die in the dragon head chamber. The group sets up camp inside the temple entrance, and spends the night healing their wounds and thinking through a plan.

The next morning, the team makes the long trek back to Cardia, fearing what they might find. The journey is quiet and melancholy, with each person trying to think back to how they might have seen through his lies. The group's fears become real as they get close to Cardia and see a tower of smoke in the distance. When they finally arrive to the city gates, they are greeted by a horrific scene. Hundreds of people lay dead in the streets, while homes burn to the ground behind them. They notice City Hall has been completely laid to waste, and now exists as a pile of smoldering ash. The group heads toward their home in the slums, and can see piles of dead bodies littering the streets. The only shred of hope lies in the carvings on the side of a few buildings: "SURVIVORS TO TALINDEN"

Everything is decimated, and the few still alive are fleeing the scene. Just then, the sky around them turns to a deep crimson, and the ground they walk on turns to scorched earth. The ruins of the city and everything around it are transported to another dimension, and the group watches as a Black Dragon materializes in front of them. They fight back the vengeful spirit, and the group is returned to the ashes of the city they once called home. The group decides at once to walk the long road to Talinden, in hopes of meeting up with any survivors.

Chapter 3: Cardian Uprising

The team of Sentinel, Flint, Zelvan, and Dingleberry arrive back in Cardia late into the night. Since the Magistrate is gone for the day, they look for an inn or some other type of lodging. A traveling villager points them in the direction of the residential district toward the inland side of the city, and so they make their way inland to find place to stay.

As they navigate their way through the crowded streets, they wander into the residential slums, where the poorest of Cardia's poor congregate. As they walk, Zelvan feels something brush against his backside, and soon realizes he's been robbed of 40 gold. Zelvan and the rest of the group chase after the figure escaping them, and tracks the figure to what looks like an abandoned shack. Flint kicks down the door to find a group of three children in ripped blankets huddled around a fire. He surmises that the oldest of the three is the thief, and attempts to calmly ask for the money back. The girl spits at his feet and the two younger boys run out of the room.

Flint, Sentinel, and Dingleberry try again to reason with the girl, while subsequently restraining Zelvan from forceably taking the money back. They eventually agree to let her keep the gold, in exchange for letting them crash for the night. The girl agrees and thanks them for the money. Flint, overcome by guilt, offers to make amends by repairing their door.

The next day, the group walks outside and encounters a mob of angry citizens in the making. A man is yelling phrases like "Down with the Highborn!" to the group of people, who are responding with an equivalent tone of anger. The whole situation looks as though it could escalate violently, so Flint and Dingleberry decide to approach the mob and try to calm them down. Sentinel and Zelvan, meanwhile, head to the Consulate to meet with the Magistrate.

Flint walks up to the mob, who immediately grow silent and all stare back at the outsider. The man leading the group tells them to leave and mind their own business, as this is no place for outsiders. Flint urges them that he is a commoner just like them, and is able to convince the man to let him help. The man introduces himself as Oswald Pegason, and explains that he and the rest of the common folk have had enough of the class difference in Cardia. The commoners in the slums work all day on the fishing boats and risk their lives, and only the coastline reaps the rewards. He tells Flint and Dingleberry that they are going to change things, and asks them to join in arms to help them. 

Flint and Dingleberry, not wanting to have this blood on their hands, try to instead diffuse the situation. Oswald agrees to back off if they can convince the Magistrate to speak with him. And so, Flint and Dingleberry run to catch up with their comrades at the Consulate.

Meanwhile, Sentinel and Zelvan meet with Zanamros, and present the flaming axe as the relic he's been looking for. The Magistrate is pleased, and sincerely thanks the pair for their hard work. Zelvan tries to warn Zanamros that a mob is forming in the residential district, but Zanamros plays it off as the simple lies of a common swindler. The Magistrate's hurried tone and overall tense demeanor make Sentinel a bit curious to his intentions. Knowing of the axe's great power, Sentinel asks why the Magstrate needs it, but the Magistrate does not give an answer. Sentinel fears he is being played, and attempts to take the axe back from the Magistrate, but it is too late. Zanamros calls in his guards to forcibly remove the two.

Sentinel and Zelvan meet up with Flint and Dingleberry outside of the Consulate. Now that they've all heard a different side of the story, they try and figure out who to trust, and how to stop a civil war from breaking out. They group decides to go back to Oswald and convince him to lay down his arms. 

They find Oswald in a pub right outside the city slums. Oswald is already a few drinks in, and barely seems to remember his conversation with Flint only an hour before. Flint approaches him at the bar and asks what can be done to stop from attacking the citizens. Oswald responds with vague rhetoric about the rich taking from the poor, and how his people put themselves in danger all the time just to pay for the wealthy livelihood.

Finally, Oswald gets to the point, which is money. He says a large sum of money will be distributed among the people, and will keep them happy and contained. He wants to use the money to start rebuilding the slums, and to eventually improve his people's quality of life. Flint agrees and goes back to the group to discuss Oswald's proposal.

Most of the team seem more than eager to part with their newfound wealth in order to prevent a potential crisis, but it is Zelvan who needs more convincing. Flint takes Zelvan with him to the pub to speak with Oswald face-to-face. Oswald pleads his case once more to Zelvan, who seems skeptical at first. Oswald is eventually able to convince Zelvan, and he and Flint hand over most of the remaining gold and trinkets found in the tomb. Oswald thanks them and offers them with an empty house in the residential quarter as gratitude. He tells them they are welcome in Cardia anytime, and can think of this as their second home.

As the group walks over to check out their new house, they decide to pay the Consulate another visit. The Magistrate is gone, but the Historian is sitting at her desk, and looks absolutely relived to see the group made it out of the tomb alive. She is energized by their story of the ghosts in the tomb, and asks them if they found anything down there. Flint shows her the glowing red necklace he took from the woman's corpse, but declined to give it to Thola, fearing the power to be too great. Thola understands but it disappointed, and politely asks the group to leave.

On their way back to the house, an odd man muttering to himself walks right into Sentinel without looking. He quickly recognizes the group as the adventurers who braved the Tomb of Ratatoskr. He then introduces himself as Kevorin Droverson, president of the Cardian Merchant's Alliance. He explains that he works with a lot of rich clients throughout the continent; many of whom would pay high price for rare artifacts. Flint shows him the same glowing necklace, and Droverson offers them a hefty sum of gold right on the spot. They negotiate a price as well as a discount to his store, and happily hand over the necklace.

Charged by the fact that they prevented an all-out civilian war and turned quite a profit, the group settles in to rest in their new home in Cardia.

Chapter 2: The Tomb of Ratatoskr

The port city of Cardia is one of the three seats of power within the Gravenholm Confederacy. The majority of its economy comes from shipping and trade, and is the primary importer/exporter for the Confederacy. Cardia provides the rest of the Confederacy with trade goods and commerce in exchange for military support.

At the center of the city stands the Gravenholm Consulate, which is the working office of the Cardian Magistrate, Zanamros Serpenthelm. The consulate divides the two halves of the city: the port side and inland side. The wealthiest citizens have built extravagant homes among the commercial buildings and tourist attractions along the coastline, while the working class lives in the slums of the inland residential district.

Sentinel, Flint Gemhide, and Zelvan Zendark arrive in Cardia after reading about the job posting related to the caves recently discovered outside of the city. Upon reaching the city gates, they head straight to the Consulate and speak with the Magistrate. Zanamros hires the traveling party to explore the caves and find the ancient tomb thought to be buried deep within. The Confederacy believes the relic buried inside the tomb will provide useful, and puts pressure on Cardia to deliver. After losing a dozen men to the caves, Serpenthelm fears whatever is down there, and refuses to waste any more of his soldiers. He asks that the traveling adventurers are able to face whatever evil is down there and return the relic.

The three then stop over to meet the Cardia Historian, Thola Dumein, who provides them with more information on the tomb's history. She explains the tomb is a monument to the Dragon-King Ratatoskr. The one and only dragonborn of his time, Emperor Ratatoskr used his godlike powers to conquer several wandering tribes and appoint himself as their new ruler. He enslaved those who disobeyed him and tasked them to build a lavish tomb in his honor. She then asks the team to consider donating any other ancient artifacts they find in the tomb to help further the study of the Dragon-King’s reign.

While on their way to meet with the soldiers stationed outside of the caves, they run into another traveling adventurer named Dingleberry. Dingleberry is a traveling monk who has recently left his monastery, and is looking for adventure. He originally came to Cardia for the same opportunity, and so joins the other adventurers to recover the ancient relic.

Along with their new companion, the party heads to the caves. They meet with the soldier posted outside of the entrance, who provides more info on the soldiers that have already been sent down. So far, a total of nine soldiers have been sent down to the caves, all of whom have not returned. They are presumed dead, but the soldier asks the team to look out for them to find out what happened. With that, the group enters the cave.

As they begin searching through the sprawling cavern, the party quickly feels an overall sense of evil and decay. One by one, they find the remains of first half of the scouting teams, accompanied by bodies of half-human half-spider monsters. They come across a rocky ledge overlooking a seemingly bottomless expanse. The path picks up roughly 10 ft away, but they find that they have no other option but to jump across the gap. Zelvan uses his magic to easily step across the gap, and Dingleberry is able to tap into his innate dexterity to traverse the walls along the side. 

Unfortunately, the gap proves too unstable for Sentinel. As he lands on the other side of the cliff, the weight of his heavy metal armor forces the loose rock to break and fall, and takes him along with it. Flint, fearing a same fate, uses a rope to crawl across the now larger expanse. Without knowing how far the fall goes, the remaining team decides to keep pressing onward in hopes to reconnect with Sentinel. They find a few more soldiers' remains outside of a narrow passageway leading deeper into the cave.

Meanwhile, Sentinel awakes to find himself in pitch blackness suspended in mid-air. He gathers his bearings and realizes he's landed on a giant spider web, which ironically enough saved him from death. He carefully crawls out of the web and onto solid ground, and light his torch. Sentinel starts looking for a way out when he comes face-to-face with a giant choldrith beast. 

The choldrith covers Sentinel in a thick webbing and climbs on the ceiling while she prepares to devour him. Fortunately, he is able to break free from the web and starts swinging at the beast while she is overhead. Unable to reach her, he then cocks his arm back and throws his sword like a spear right at the choldrith's legs. With a powerful toss, he is able to sever a few of her legs, bringing her to the ground. Before the choldrith is able to react, he quickly grabs his sword and slices through her head. He picks up and continues searching for a way back to his teammates.

Flint, Zelvan, and Dingleberry go deeper into the cavern until they come across a large wide open area with two gigantic closed stone doors. Since the cave has been very narrow up to this point, they felt a small wave of relief once the area around them opened up so dramatically. But, they had little time to rest, as they watched as a mass of bones and torn flesh started to materialize before their eyes. The bodies of all the dead Cardian soldiers began to magically take form and, one-by-one, breathed into undeath as skeleton warriors. The skeletons all jumped at the party with their rusted swords and tattered armor. Zelvan retaliated with a series of spells blowing burning acid on the skeletons and melting their bones. Dingleberry then used his elemental attunement to unleash a flurry of flaming punches against the remaining undead.

Once the skeletons were finished, they approached the smaller of the two stone doors. On the other side laid a closed casket, accompanied by a pile of ancient golden statues. They opened up the casket to find a corpse of a woman with a glowing red necklace around her neck. Thinking this might be the relic the Confederacy was looking for, Flint bent down to grab the necklace. He grabbed a cloth from his pack and carefully cut the necklace's chain trying to preserve it as best he could. As he got back up, he jumped back at the sight of a ghostly figure now floating above the body.

Sentinel made his way through a winding tunnel to come across what looked like a giant stone wall directly blocking his path. He then noticed a small hole that looked like it had been blown open, and crawled through. On the other side was a huge, beautifully decorated tomb. All over the tomb was decorated with gold, and a small offering plate stood at the corner containing a number of precious jewels. He saw rudimentary carvings along the walls, which seemed to tell a story through pictures. In the center of the room stood an ornately decorated coffin, which he determined must be the final resting place of the Dragon-King. Sensing the great evil contained inside, he exited out through the large stone door in front of him to continue searching for the others. When he opened the door, he was stopped by a terrifying shriek coming from ahead of him. He busted down the smaller stone door to find the rest of his team cowering in fear in front of a floating banshee.

The team regained their collective sanity and struck back at the ghostly figure. Dealing blow after blow, the team was unable to do any substantial damage to the ghost. In a moment of inspiration, Flint imbued his hammer with divine energy. As he struck down on the banshee, a bright light appeared from his hammer and filled the room. The light was quickly followed by a loud shriek, as the banshee dissipated into a collection of swirling energy.

The energy dissolved and reformed into the ghostly image of a young girl, now calmly standing atop the casket. The ghostly projection explained that the Dragon-King took over her village when she was very young, and murdered her family in cold blood in front of her. Instead of killing her as well, he decided to enslave her as his bride. He gave her the magicked necklace as proof that she was his. She spent years in isolation and fear, until she eventually killed herself. She thanks the party for finally letting her spirit rest, and asks them to take the necklace away so she can find peace.

Sentinel informs the group of what lies in wait in the next door, and the group moves into the Dragon-King's tomb. Inside, Zelvan is distracted by the jewels and other gold trinkets, and starts to pocket whatever he can carry. The rest of the group approaches the large coffin to find the perfectly preserved body of what looks like a man with a dragon's head, all decked out in heavy plate mail. Beside the body is an expertly crafted axe, with smaller jewels carved into the hilt. As Sentinel picks up the axe, a magical flame bursts on either side. Fearing the evil magic, he runs and throws the axe far over to the other side of the room. He watches the sharp side of the axe wedge right into the stone wall only for a second and then disappear entirely. He looks back to see the Dragon-King's body floating above the coffin and start to come to life. The Dragon-King's body stands upright as the flaming axe now materialized in its hand.

The Dragon-King looks out among Flint, Zelvan, and Dingleberry, reels back his neck, and channels his otherworldly powers to let out a burst of flame from his mouth. Watching the rest of his team get pummeled with flame, Sentinel leaps at the Dragon-King from behind. Unfortunately, he is unable to pierce the Dragon-King's thick plate armor. The Dragon-King turns toward Sentinel and two clash swords together, each trying to overpower the other. Zelvan, meanwhile, begins charging up a powerful fireball spell, but the fire is only a minor inconvenience to the animated corpse. Drawing upon the successes of the last fight with the banshee, Flint once again channels divine energy into his hammer, and delivers a strong blow against Ratatoskr's back. The hammer shines with boundless energy and cracks through the heavy plate armor. Dingleberry then summons his remaining ki energy to conjure a whip made out of water. He flings the whip right at the Dragon-King's side and manages to rope his arms together, forcing him to drop the flaming axe. Sentinel, now with the advantage, raises his sword above his head and strikes down right on the Dragon-King's chest. The evil spirit is finally destroyed, and the corpse once again becomes limp and lifeless.

Without a doubt that the magicked axe is the relic in question, the group takes the weapon and heads back to Cardia to reclaim their reward.

Chapter 1: Kal Durand's Counterfeit Kingdom

There have been a number of rumors circulating about the town of Theid—suspicious figures, strange magical energy, and people going missing. Sentinel and his travel partner, Xelvan, decide to go check it out. They find themselves deep within the woods, when all of sudden a large patch of colored lights appear overhead. They become enthralled with the lights and both pass out to awake hours later in a dark jail cell.

They are met by three other adventurers, Flint Gemhide, Varis Blackhart, and The Alabastard, who all fell victim to the same hypnotic spell. The five quickly agree to work together to escape from their prison and find the source of the strange magical energy. Sentinel and Varis overwhelm the two patrolling guards with brute force, while the rest of the team breaks away to gather the team's equipment. The party escapes the dungeon to be greeted by a band of bugbears, who have ransacked the cabin holding them captive. The group quickly dispatches the bugbears and escapes to the nearby town of Theid.

The group arrives at the front gate to Thied, which is manned by two guards. Flint and Sentinel attempt to communicate with the guards and plead them to allow entry, but the guards show no sign of acknowledgement and instead draw their weapons. Varis and Xelvan begin fighting back, but Flint quickly intervenes. He detects a strong presence of evil magic, and believes that the guards might be under some sort of magical control. He convinces the rest of the group to take the guards out non-lethally. Meanwhile, Xelvan uses magic to teleport across the other side of the gate and opens it for the rest of the team. 

While inside the city gates, Xelvan notices a mob of villagers huddled together in the pub near the town entrance. The mob starts shuffling toward him, in the same hypnotic manner as the guards they encountered outside. Alabastard feels a sudden surge of magical energy in the direction of two houses toward the far side of the town. He leads the team to a cottage and finds a small Dwarven woman.

Flint uses their shared ancestry to forge a connection with the woman, and is able to break the spell controlling her. Once awaken, she explains that an evil illusionist named Kal Durand has taken control of the town and villagers, and has holed himself up in a manor in the outskirts of town. She also mentions remembering seeing odd creatures going in and out of the his house across the road. The group walks over to Kal's house to see a giant red dragon sitting right inside the house.

Varis charges forth and shoots an arrow right at the dragon. He watches as the arrows fly right between the dragon's eyes and passes right through it, dissipating the illusion. The team searches the house and finds a glowing orb connected to a staff. Xelvan picks up the staff and starts showing signs of madness. Sentinel's protective instincts kick in as he knocks the staff out of Xelvan's hands, shattering the orb. The hypnotic spell on the town is broken, and the villagers begin coming to. The team goes back outside to find a bunch of groggy villagers mulling around in a state of confusion. It's made clear that their problems won't end until Kal is taken care of, so the group decides to go to the manor to confront him.

They approach the manor and walk right through the front door. The interior is adorned with hundreds of gold decoration, and treasures displayed throughout. Directly in front of them is an ornate rug lying in front of a large staircase leading up to a balcony. Flint starts walking toward the back of the room as he falls straight through the rug illusion and lands in the basement. He looks up and is ambushed by three ambling scarecrows. Sentinel jumps down to help while Alabastard, Varis, and Xelvan shoot from above. The spellcasters exploit the scarecrows' weakness toward fire and quickly eliminate the creatures before any damage is done. Flint and Sentinel check out the rest of the area and find a side room containing three treasures and some gold pieces.

The group reconvenes back at the entrance of the manor as they investigate the remaining rooms. They come across what looks like a guest room, complete with five beds. They move on to the library and run into a displacer beast. Flint acts quickly by enfeebling the beast with magic, thereby negating its phasing power. The group eventually takes the monster out and heads upstairs, led by Sentinel. Once upstairs, Sentinel turns the corner to enter the parlor room, where he is met face-to-face with a giant lamia.

Xelvan charges from right behind Sentinel and fires a set of supercharged magic missiles at the lamia. The lamia slashes back at Xelvan in retaliation and does mortal damage, nearly killing him. Flint brings Xelvan back to life with a healing spell while Varis and Alabastard run around from behind to finish the beast. After a few well-timed arrows and an eldritch blast, the two take down the lamia, and the group continues to search through the manor.

Sentinel heads back to the main balcony area and dispels the illusory wall hiding the manor's elaborate ballroom. Standing by the far side of the room on a slightly elevated stage is Kal Durand, staring confidently back at the group. Varis leaps into action and fires an arrow at Kal, right as the image of the illusionist disappears. Kal's figure reappears across the room seemingly without a scratch. As Sentinel charges toward Kal, the clear image of the illusionist begins to blur. Sentinel sees past the double image and strikes Kal, angering him. The illusionist shifts focus to Sentinel and places him in a dream state, ready to evoke a terrifying nightmare. Varis takes a beat to investigate the rest of the room and notices a glowing orb places on top of the stage. He runs over to grab the staff and shatters it. Now without his extra font of power, Kal loses his mental grasp on Sentinel, and Alabastard and Xelvan are able to better focus their magical attacks toward him. In one last-ditch effort, Kal starts conjuring the same pattern of hypnotic lights that originally tricked the group back in the woods. His efforts are cut short, as the group resists the lights' power. Flint delivers a mortal blow to Kal, sending him to his knees. 

Kal, on the verge of death, starts pleading for mercy. He explains that his actions were not his own, and that once the orb was shattered he could finally start seeing things clearly again. He vowed to help repair the town, in an attempt to repent for his crimes. The party escorts him out of the manor and into the town's custody. As they head out, they realize that the elaborate decoration and gaudy trinkets adorning the walls were all part of the illusion, and that the manor was really an old, abandoned building. Xelvan was especially disappointed to find the pile of priceless treasures he'd collected had turned to sand inside his bag. 

The group succeeds in saving Theid and receives a summons from the office of the Magistrate of Cardia, one of the major cities of the Gravenholm Confederacy. Together, they set out to uncover the mystery behind Durand's mysterious rise to power.

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