Without even pausing to look back over his shoulder at the dragon, Nuzool made his escape. A gush of hot air washed over him as the dragon took flight, close on his still invisible heels. As Nuzool flew down the chasm, the dragon unleashed a sheet of flame which only just fell short, singeing the end of his cloak and his tail! Due to the narrowness of the tunnel the dragon could pursue no further.
Narlgathra shouted a threat after the thief “You dare steal from the great Narlgathra? Wherever you go thief, I shall hunt you down. You will suffer in agony before your inevitable death!”
Meanwhile, on the surface the rest of the group stayed hidden and waited tensely for Nuzool to re-emerge. Hearing the rumbling in the earth, the orcs guarding the tunnel mouth looked around in confusion. Their leader sent two of his warriors down the tunnel to see what was going on.
A few moments later the huge red dragon shot up into the sky out of what must have been the main entrance to the lair. It banked left and flew down to the rear entrance tunnel, landed and positioned its head just inside the tunnel… and began breathing great gouts of fire down the tunnel!
Fleeing back into the massive hall, Nuzool could see more orcs pouring out of side corridors, alerted by the dragon’s roars. The ratkin flew easily over their heads undetected and began his ascent back up the rear tunnel entrance of the lair. He flew over a patrol of two orcs, before seeing the flare of fire up ahead as he neared the surface… Realising the dragon had already flown around to cut him off and knowing that the only other exit was guarded by a demon, Nuzool took out the Crown of Stars and placed it on his head, accessing its arcane power.
Rushing forwards, Nuzool unleashed a hail of meteors that struck the dragon in the chest, causing it some harm, but far from devastating. The fire from the blasts washed over the beast without effect. The orcs who were standing guard weren’t so lucky, most being killed in the explosions. The rest of the adventuring party saw the explosions, but continued to wait and see what would happen.
The dragon lowered its head and unleashed a burst of fire down into the tunnel, this time catching Nuzool with its full force. Nuzool’s unconscious, scorched body fell to the ground and the dragon chuckled with pleasure. Two of the remaining orcs went down to retrieve the body and Crown.
The rest of the group acted quickly. Gaz-Borg made a hasty disguise and dashed out to try and bluff the dragon into leaving so they could secure the Crown and save Nuzool. Bowing down before Narlgathra pretending to be one of her orc minions, Gaz-Borg explained that demons had attacked him and were heading for the main entrance to the lair. Narlgathra seemed to buy the story, assuming that it was demons behind the theft. The dragon took to the skies and circled westwards.
The group emerged, killed the remaining orcs, rescued Nuzool and gained the Crown and jewelled skull.
The adventurers proceeded back through the tunnel network below the ruined streets, returning to the north of the city. Shortly after emerging, while discussing their next move, the group spotted what at first looked like another adventuring group speaking to a demonic-looking bird-man close to a tall stone archway.
Cyrien recognised one figure, the group’s leader – it was his brother Renack! Cyrien cried out in rage and, drawing Shaeveril charged to attack him! After a brief confrontation between the brothers (who hadn’t seen each other in over 60 years), the two groups conversed, although the strangers seemed on edge and secretive.
In respect to being accused of betraying his own people and carrying out genocide against the Blackstar Clan, Renack passionately claimed that it was not his intent to wipe out his people, but instead a tragic error. He claimed that the ruling council of the clan had become corrupt and that certain members had attempted to assassinate him. He made a deal with powerful mages capable of summoning demons, which he planned to use to kill the traitors in the ranks. Renack did indeed lower the village’s defences to let his allies in, however something went horribly wrong. The mages lost control of the demons, which poured in in greater numbers and set to slaying everyone.
Renack seemed to show genuine remorse for what had happened all those years ago and admitted he was ultimately responsible. He too wanted to re-build the clan anew, as Cyrien did.
Cyrien and Renack also spoke in private for a short time. Cyrien could see Renack was wearing his father’s magical Starsteel breastplate. When Renack went to examine Shaeveril, upon touching it, his hand was horribly burnt. Cyrien offered magical healing. However his Celestial fire only caused Renack even greater pain, confirming his evil to Cyrien. Renack was furious at his wounds, but said he wished to speak with Cyrien further. They both agreed to meet again in ten days time back at Cyrien’s inn in Daggerdale.
Gaz-Borg identified one symbol, which several of the strangers wore on their belt buckles – a version of the holy symbol of Shar, the Dark Goddess. One of the female members of the other group (a rather flirtatious woman in dark make-up) inspected Woz’s cursed arm with great interest. She also had a great deal of bad things to say about ‘the pathetically weak goodly deities’ of the Realms.
The two groups alluded to their respective missions in Myth Drannor. Renack explained that his group was in search of a particular ‘pool’ but gave few details. Thorgrimm and Cyrien told him that they were in search of a weapon with which to slay an undead shade. The two groups then finally went their separate ways.
Making their way further northwards, the group spotted three fresh corpses lying face-down in the street ahead, close to the foot of a huge stone statue of an elven warrior. Approaching cautiously, several of the party could make out fresh blood on the statue’s blade and shield. Sure enough, the statue animated and attacked. The adventurers managed to take it down. The statue crumbled to pieces to reveal a shining jacinth at its heart.
The party continued northwards towards the Polyandrium and Zaxaris, intent on using the Crown of Stars to destroy the insidious Illithid.