This week, we were short two members of the group, with another joining via video conference (isn't modern technology great?). I have a quorum rule that a simple majority of players must be present, so in this case, 3/5 was enough. Given that the party had to come to some agreement as to what to do next, less players probably helped make things go more quickly.
Sarril was very concerned that Iuz would, at the very least, have demons waiting for them when they went leave, if not deal with them in-person, so time was ticking away. Having touched the skull in order to operate the throne, Sarril knew that Iuz was aware of his location, despite the Amulet of Proof Against Detection that he now wore. The rest of the party decided it was worth the risk and they should do a quick search of the level for any treasure or other things of importance while the strength spells were still in effect. And so the party spent a few turns searching, turning up with some more magic items, including a second Wand of Fire and a Daern's Instant Fortress. The players immediately thought about how effective these two things could be together in a battlefield (i.e. the mage goes inside the indestructible adamantine tower and shoots fireballs out of the arrow slits), which inspired Sir Gerard (whose player was absent, so the DM took liberties) to insist that these items needed to be brought to Castle Hart immediately to assist in the coming battles against the Horned Society/Iuz/whatever that was certain to happen.
While the party was sifting through these items, Jarrus was busy prying gems from Zuggtmoy's throne. He managed to pull out 33 diamonds worth about 5,000 gp each, which he made clear is NOT "party treasure" as he placed them in his backpack. The party also found a map of the Flanaess on a wall in war room, which they rolled up and placed in the portable hole (DM's Note: this translates to the party being able to use the fold-out maps from the Greyhawk Boxed set whenever needed, which makes my job much easier). The search was cut short when the party entered a room and saw some mushrooms growing on the floor. Realizing this isn't a video game and they can't press "save" before continuing, they decided to get out while they were ahead.
Sarril used the skull to raise the throne back up to the ground level of the temple, where they expected to have to fight their way through demons. On the way up, he realized that he no longer felt the presence of Zuggtmoy through the skull, though the hateful gaze of Iuz was still upon him. As the party emerged into the upper part of the temple, they were nearly blinded by a bright light emanating
The deva asked Sarril to reveal the skull and place it upon the ground, which he did. She then explained that she cannot destroy the skull herself, but she will tell the party how to destroy it, and provide them with what they need, if they will agree to destroy it right now. Sarril agreed, upon which the deva provided exact instructions to the party, which were to expose the skull to a hurricane force wind, strike it with a maul made of pure granite, expose it to a fire as hot as a forge, then immerse it in freezing cold water. All of these things must be done in quick succession (within one combat round). The deva even provided the maul to be used (how convenient. . . and suspicious). She then thanked the party for the service done for the cause of good and said this would not be forgotten, then disappeared.
The party started by preparing the freezing cold water using an Ice Storm, and setting that aside. Then Sarril and Luapan got ready with scrolls of Gust of Wind and Flamestrike, while Jarrus stood by with the maul. Sarril cast Gust of Wind, Jarrus struck the skull, Luapan hit it with a Flame Strike and then Shan Ju knocked the glowing hot skull into the pool of freezing water. The gems shattered and the skull cracked. Shortly after, the ground began to shake and pieces of the temple roof began to fall. The sealed front doors blew open and crumbled. The party ran for the front door and out into the temple grounds.
And thus ended the adventure of The Temple of Elemental Evil (aside from a few loose ends, of course).
The arguments about where to go next were few. Jarrus wanted to go see his mother, who has since been revealed as the Countess Rhavelle of the Gold County in Furyondy. Sarril wanted to go to Greyhawk. The group recognized that if they go to Verbobonc, they would be right across the river from the Gold County, and they could take a boat from the same river directly to Greyhawk. After some brief discussion, they decided they would take a boat to Greyhawk first, then back to Furyondy. This would require a hike Southwest to Hommlet, then Northwest to Verbobonc (thus avoiding the swamplands, which everyone agreed should be avoided). The entire trip would take about 5 days on foot, during which Sarril would be identifying magic items. The first night in the ruins of Hommlet were uneventful. The second night spent on the road in the Kron Hills were also uneventful, as the party got to spend the night inside their new instant fortress. The third night was another story.
It was the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime. Jarrus was on watch at the top of the tower, sitting in an unpleasant rainstorm while the rest of the party was sleeping in the floors below. Suddenly he was engulfed in complete blackness as he felt three spears impale him from all sides. While the attack didn't kill him, he was very near death and would not survive a second blow. As he yelled for everyone to wake up, he reached in his bag for the Potion of Extra Healing that would save him from his demise. He was able to grab both the potion and his Continual Light coin at the same time. The Continual Light cancelled the darkness, and Jarrus was able to see his attackers. Three Babau Demons, withdrawing their spears from his body as he desperately drank the healing potion. This immediately exposed him to their gaze attacks, which had the effect of a Ray of Enfeeblement spell. He was able to save against the first, but failed the second (the third was behind him), and without his strength, Jarrus was pretty useless to continue fighting, and chose to dive down the trapdoor into the tower.
Once down in the tower, Sarril spoke the command to close the trap door. Unfortunately, one of the demons managed to slip through by polymorphing into a dragonfly and slipping through before the door closed. Jarrus, Gerard and Shan Ju attempted to hit the dragonfly unsuccessfully. After moving into the corner of the room, the demon reverted back to its normal form and went on the attack. Sarril dispelled the enfeeblement on Jarrus to make him active again while Luapan healed him. The party then began throwing everything they could at the demon, which proved to be a formidable foe. After a Prayer and Chant from Luapan, combined with Gerard's Protection from Evil bonuses, the party was able to get the upper-hand on the demon, with the final blow coming from Shan Ju (whose player rolled double 20s) punching through the demon's chest with his fist, grabbing its spine and ripping its skeleton from its body in a move worthy of the most gruesome of Mortal Kombat fatalities. Celebrations were short-lived, however, as three more babau demons gated into the room, spelling certain doom for the party. In response, Sarril ran out the front door where he saw two of the demons heating the metal of the adamantine tower to a bright glow. Sarril then spoke the command to return the tower to its portable cube form, trapping the party and the demons inside in statis.
DM's Note: The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide does not describe this property of a Daern's Instant Fortress, however, the ToEE module states that Hedrack possessed such an item and that he would use it in combat to summon forth a force of bugbears. This suggests that the bugbears must be in stasis inside, and thus I described this property when Sarril identified the item. This also led to the players discussing some interesting, and quite possibly overpowered, use of the item, so we'll see where that goes.
Lucky for Sarril, he had already cast Mirror Image earlier, and thus was able to survive the first round of attacks from the two demons outside. This gave him enough time to grab the cube and teleport away to the University of Magical Arts in Greyhawk, where, as chance would have it, the Patriarch of Boccob was up late studying, and agreed to meet with him.
It is late in the evening of the 19th Day of Flocktime in the City of Greyhawk. Sarril is alone with the party, and three badass demons, locked in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress. He is actively seeking the help he needs to deal with these demons and get the party back out alive. It looks like we will be doing some one-on-one gameplay online for the next two weeks. Stay tuned. . .