The group reached the northern edge of the city and prepared to delve into the forest along a narrow trail that would eventually take them to the Polyandrium. A voice greeted them from somewhere in the canopy of trees “Aren’t you forgetting something?” it asked.
The voice belonged to a creature claiming to be a servant of the demon Ghada. It explained that its master wanted the magical skull the group had agreed to recover from the dragon’s lair, delivered sooner rather than later.
The adventurers explained that they would deliver the skull in due time, but that they first had to complete their quest. The messenger was sceptical and said that he would inform his master thus. He added that Ghada was growing impatient and that he would be most displeased should they fail to live up to the agreement.
Entering the burial glen of the Polyandrium, the group quickly spotted a patrol of a dozen goblins accompanied by one of Zaxaris’ monstrous Flesh Golems. The group waited until the patrol approached, then attacked suddenly, catching the goblins by surprise and swiftly slaying them before any could escape to bring word back to their master.
Following the fight, a figure emerged from the forest nearby. She introduced herself as Giana, a human rogue and adventurer. Apparently the sole survivor of yet another adventuring group which had been attacked by a force of goblins and Flesh Golems, one of Giana’s companions, a half-elven ranger named Ryden was captured and taken into Zaxaris’ lair. The rest were killed and she only barely managed to escape. She asked the group to rescue her companion and offered a reward, should they succeed and bring him to Hillsfar where she would be staying. She declined a request to join the adventurers, saying she had seen quite enough fighting and death for one day.
Moving through the burial glen, the adventurers approached the front of the crypt that they knew led down to the Illithid’s subterranean lair. Inside they spied movement. In an attempt to dispatch the sentries swiftly, Cyrien donned the Crown of Stars and sent a Meteor Swarm through the doorway, immolating everything within in four deafening explosions. However, to the horror of the party, the Crown of Stars disappeared. The artefact was gone!
Cursing their misfortune, the group decided to see through their plan to slay the Mindflayer and proceeded down into the lower levels of the crypt. It was eerily quiet within, only the echo of goblin voices could be heard deeper down.
The party bypassed several traps before cautiously entering the lower level of the lair. Entering they felt the hair on the backs of their necks stand on end as Zaxaris spoke to them via telepathy. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Tis rather rude to force your way into another’s lair and kill their goblin minions. I sense why you are here. You should have gone through with the trade. Such a pity, Vindicator could have been yours. I also sense that you have lost the Crown, and for that you will die as my next meal, or perhaps serve me as slaves! Come mortals!”
Zaxaris was ready for the adventurer’s attack, having assembled four of his Flesh Golem servitors as bodyguards and twenty or so of his goblin minions.
The battle was brutal. The Illithid’s Mind Blast power stunned most of the party, leaving them helpless. A lightning bolt, which miraculously bypassed his spell resistance, wounded Zaxaris but it was not enough. The lightning bolt fire by Woz also caught a prisoner chained to the wall in the corner, instantly killing him. It was the half-elven ranger Ryden that the group had only just learnt about earlier.
In moments, the Mindflayer latched on to Obsidian’s face with its tentacles and ripped out the paladin’s brains, devouring the grey-matter and instantly killing him! Woz was next to fall, slammed to the ground and stomped to death by a Flesh Golem.
Cyrien was also beset by two of the Flesh Golems. Realising just how grim the situation was, he appealed desperately to the Elf Shadow within the Moonblade Shaeveril, awakening the weapon. The spirit of the sword spontaneously manifested. In a hasty exchange, the spirit offered Cyrien the chance at escape, or instead, he could fall along with his companions. The offer came with a warning that his decision might determine his suitability to wield the sword. Cyrien choose to stand and fight to the death along with his adventuring companions.
A few moments later, he fell under their massive blows of the Golems. The elf lay prone and dying as one of the Golems raise a huge foot to finish off the Bladesinger. Suddenly there was a flash of bluish light as the sword pulsed with power, as it faded, Cyrien was gone leaving Shaeveril lying on the floor.
While stunned, Gaz-Borg was grappled and captured by two of the Golems and was then swarmed by goblins who struggled to keep the big half-orc at bay. Kipah decided to beat a hasty retreat, saying the fight was hopeless and that he’d go for help. Both Bolder and Hawke suffered the same fate as Obsidian, as Zaxaris devoured their brains!
In the end, only Thorgrimm, Nuzool and Owen remained. The trio beat a hasty, fighting retreat towards the exit. The battle was not quite over. Zaxaris, in his haste to try and prevent any of the adventurers from escaping, moved in behind the group, leaving the protection of his Flesh Golem bodyguards and exposing himself to attack.
Thorgrimm and Nuzool leaped to the attack and managed to strike through the Illithid’s many layers of magical protections and wound him.
Zaxaris wasn’t finished, rushing forwards he latched onto Thorgrimm’s face this time, his tentacles driving up the dwarf’s nose and latching on to his brain. In moments, the dwarf’s brain would be torn out! Drawing deep on his reserves of strength, luck and perhaps a little of his goddess Halea’s power, Thorgrimm achieved the impossible. Bringing his greataxe up into the Mindflayer’s guts, he drove it home deep into its flesh and simultaneously tore himself free of the aberration’s tentacled death-grip!
Zaxaris stumbled back, now sorely wounded and bleeding from the terrible wound Thorgrimm had dealt. Casting a hasty spell, Zaxaris disappeared from sight.
Thorgrimm slashed his axe through the air, guessing the Mindflayer was invisible. He was right and his axe struck home again. With a satisfying ‘thud’ the remaining adventurers could hear the body of the Mindflayer drop and a large pool of blood pooled on the floor.
Believing Zaxaris dead, Thorgrimm, Nuzool and Owen fled up the stairs. Gaz-Borg managed to slip free of the rope which had bound him, leaped over his goblin captors and dashed at full speed, escaping past one of the Flesh Golems. The four surviving adventurers made for the surface and freedom, sorely wounded, alive, but minus their slain companions.
Vindicator, the weapon they needed to destroy the shade Gothyl was lost.