When we left off, the Falcon had just landed in the rear (northeast) corner of the temple. Jarrus, Janziduur and their crew were at the northwest corner. As the fight began, Jarrus led his team east toward the Falcon in order to close the distance. Unfortunately, the Falcon was holding her action, waiting for that exact move. In response, she cast an Enlarge spell on the balcony over the group's head. The sudden change in size caused the balcony to collapse, bringing the massive stone structure
|The Falcon - and her many forms|
Luckily, a couple of the lower-level clerics were able to make a save to jump clear of the collapse. On the next round, despite Jarrus and Janziduur both having 18 strength, they could not make the rolls necessary to free themselves. Miraculously, however, one of the lower-level clerics with them was able to make a Bend Bars roll and free Jarrus, who immediately drank one of his two potions of healing (the other was smashed in the fall). But the Falcon wasn't done. As the group struggled to free itself from the rubble, the Falcon followed up with a Cloudkill spell, hoping to finish off anyone who was left. Everyone, including the lower level clerics, all made their saves as they finished freeing themselves.
At this point, the Falcon was forced to turn her attention south, as a Talasek, Luapan, and their clerical crew was charging north to intercept her. The Falcon saw Talasek's face and was horrified, believing him to be be Talasek's grandfather who had taken part in imprisoning her so long ago. In response, she unleashed her most devastating spell - Death Spell, which killed the clerics, including Luapan. But Talasek continued forward to intercept her.
In the meantime, Sarril was out front dealing a mage, two priests, and several cultists by himself while everyone else focused on the Falcon. But the most fearsome of the enemies appeared moments later. After having killed the mage on east balcony, a flying magic user soon showed up to give Sarril some trouble. The mage on the south balcony came back out to assist, as did the mage on the west balcony. The front of the temple soon became an epic magic battle, with lightning bolts, magic missiles, cones of cold and ice storms flying from every direction. The two clerics were soon dispatched, but the two mages were protected by Minor Globes of Invulnerability, limiting what the defending magic users could use against them.
Whoever this new threat was, however, he seemed to be able to take a lot of punishment. After trying, and failing, to kill the mage on the south balcony with magic, he flew over in a rage, raked the mage once with a clawed hand, the grabbed him around the throat as he drained the life away from the hapless wizard. That's when Sarril realized that this man was no mere magic user, but a vampire as well. In response, Sarril pulled out a scroll of Chain Lightning and read it, shooting a 16-die lightning bolt at the mage on the ground, killing him instantly. The chain lightning the arced to vampire now on the balcony, doing substantial damage and putting him near death, but not quite killing him. Since the original target was now dead, the spell ended as it had no more targets to arc to. This severely limited the affect the devastating spell, but it did allow Sarril to reduce the fight down to one enemy, buying him a few more rounds.
Back at the rear of the temple, Nestor Morden and his City Watch guards moved in on the Falcon, and protected her with a phalanx, proving what the party already suspected about his intentions. Talasek started a fight directly with Nestor Morden, knowing he would have to cut through him to get to the enemy. This bought the Falcon a few more rounds to cast spells. Her first spell was Evard's Black Tentacles, to the west, to try to stop the approach of Jarrus and Janziduur. The spell was effective in that it killed the remaining clerics, and slowed down Jarrus, who had to cut at tentacles to free Janziduur. Jarrus had Janziduur cast Silence 15' Radius on him so that when he moved close to the Falcon, it This bought the Falcon enough time to transform back into a bird and fly to the south, giving her space to unleash more spells. As Talasek turned to rush at her from the south, the Falcon unleashed a lightning bolt at him, though he was able to save for half damage end keep coming. In the meantime, Jarrus and Janziduur finished off the guards as Jarrus rushed at the Falcon and Janzduur took cover behind a stone wall in order to use Spiritual Hammer.
Soon, Jarrus and Talasek were both on the Falcon and, due to the silence, she was unable to cast most spells on her own. Her only move left was to use a Lightning Bolt she had stored in a Ring of Spell Storing, which she was able to hit both Jarrus and Talasek with. Both saved, and since Jarrus had just recently been healed by Janziduur, he was able to survive. The Falcon took some brutal hits and was barely hanging on to life when she turned into a bird once again and flew up to the east balcony to escape the Silence spell. From this vantage point, she was confident she would be able to finish off the troublesome melee fighters below.
Meanwhile, at the front of the temple, Sarril, with only a few hitpoints left, was having a showdown with the vampire, who seemed equally wounded and barely holding on to (un)life. Realizing that the vampire could attack him and potentially drain as many as four levels per round, Sarril put up a Mirror Image spell to protect himself. In response, the vampire used a Wand of Frost to hit him with a Cone of Cold. Sarril saved for half damage, which put him a -6 hit points, dropping him to the ground.
The vampire then lowered himself to the ground and started toward Sarril's body (which, thanks to his otherworldly familiar, was actually regenerating). Talasek, seeing this, began to rush at the vampire, forcing him to unleash his most devastating spell yet, which he had been holding in reserve. The spell was his own Chain Lightning, which he cast at Talasek. The bolt arced through Talasek, Jarrus, Janziduur and the Falcon, killing all of them utterly and completely.
The most tragic part about this TPK is that the vampire wasn't even interested in doing it - but self-preservation when facing down a paladin was more important. Once everyone else was dead, he approached Sarril on the ground, who was laying there drifting in and out of consciousness. Expecting to have his life forces drained, Sarril was surprised when the vampire reached down and grabbed Sarril's Bag of Holding, reached inside, and pulled out a bundled up cloak. As he unwrapped the cloak to reveal the black Ebony Skull of Iuz (which has the power to summon the fiend), he said "I'm not here to kill you. The time will come soon when you will need to call upon my master for help. When that day comes, I want you to be prepared." He then placed the skull down on Sarril's chest before grabbing the Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location and ripped it off of Sarrils neck, saying "You won't need this anymore."
As he did this, Sarril could see what looked like a purple and gray dragon flying toward the temple. As a final act, the vampire cast Banish at Sarril's familiar and scoring the extremely unlikely number needed to penetrate its magic resistance. With that, Krek blinked away, sent back to Concordant Opposition - not dead, but far enough away to be useless to Sarril. The vampire looked surprised and proud of himself before teleporting away.
Along with the dragon came Derider Fanshen, Constable of Greyhawk and cleric of St. Cuthbert, along with a large contingent of the City Watch. Soon Eritai emerged from the temple and began using her Rod of Resurrection to successfully bring everyone back to life (with the exception of the lower level clergy). The dragon was soon revealed to be Mizaab, the mage who originally imprisoned
|Mizaab Zalen - Greyhawk Dragon|
Over the next few days, the party assisted in clean-up efforts and divided the magic items they found between themselves and the Temple of St. Cuthbert. They discovered that the Falcon's shapechanging abilities were due to a Collar of Change (a Ring of Change enlarged into a collar) and that the Falcon's true form was that of a Naga. As a Naga has no hands, this severely limited her spellpower, so she used the collar to take human form, thus advancing to become a 12th level mage.
Two of the church's paladins returned, Bartholomew and Torval Mishka, both of whom had been fighting in the war up north. They told the story of how a black tower suddenly appeared outside of Admunfort and started blasting the enemy with spellpower, devastating their ranks enough that they were able to mount a charging offensive and break the siege. They could not say for certain that the war is over, but the Shield Lands have the upper hand at the moment, and are able to pull their armies back together, though the countryside has been lain to waste, with crops burned, so it will be a long and slow recovery. They expressed frustration that Furyondy never sent its forces to help its ally, to which Jarrus responded that they will be visiting there soon and plan to do something about that.
Finally, Janziduur informed Jarrus that her superiors in Verbobonc will not grant her the authority to bestow any knighthoods, but that the high priest of Tithereon has requested Jarrus to visit personally for evaluation. It seems that there was some skepticism over the story involving the Tarrasque that the church wants to verify before they deem him worthy of a knighthood. She warned that a title granted by the church may be more than just an honorific - that it may come with expectations. Jarrus agreed to go to the temple in Verbobonc and discuss the matter there.
And so it soon came to be the first day of Harvester, CY 580, on the Feast of Ralishaz, that a merchant ship came into the city carrying Pontus, Cadwin and Cassius. They arrived in time for the "ceremony" - whatever that was supposed to be. What adventures await the now reunited party? We shall soon find out. . .