2 May, 103 CY
The adventurers woke in one of their fortified camps refreshed, if still a little tired. None of them had slept well – their dreams were plagued by the cackling image of Karavakos as he had appeared to them twice before. Shaking it off, they reflexively started to eat breakfast before realizing that they were still not hungry; the prison apparently took care of that biological imperative, as it had since they’d entered. Gathering their gear, they made their way up the stairs to the third tier of the pyramid to make an end of Karavakos and escape his ancient prison.
They returned to the section that had been guarded by undead, heading down the hallway to the west of the doors to the columned chamber. At the end of the corridor, they came to a pair of doors with a bony design. They could hear something heavy shifting its weight with a sound of bones on bones. With a sneer, Thrakath flung open the door to reveal the Palace of Bones.
All of the furnishings in the chamber were made of bones, some lashed together with leather cords or bound with iron rings, some held together by an unseen magic force. Hulking skeletons with massive femurs for cudgels loitered among the bony pillars that stretched from floor to ceiling and a pair of glowing flameskulls floated above a large platform that wrapped around the far side of the room. Then the Head of Vyrellis shrieked in fury as her eyes fell on a tiefling with purple skin and eyes that glowed with a sickly green light. His body was draped in a heavy mantle, with skulls decorating his shoulders and shadows pooled around him. “Destroy him,” she snarled. “Strike him down and we shall claim our freedom.”
Though they had some trouble with the grasping skeletal hands of the pillars, platform, and furniture, the heroes swiftly laid waste to the larger guardians before engaging the flameskulls and the necromancer. Kravak the Damned, as the wizard referred to himself, was a master of death magic, and more than one of the group fell senseless to the floor. Their allies, however, quickly propped them back up with their own magic and they brought the fight to the necromancer. Kravak teleported across the chamber to avoid being pinned in more than once, but the adventurers were tenacious and eventually prevailed.
A lurid glowing orb, the same sickly green color as Kravak’s eyes had been, floated out of the chamber and down the hall. On the necromancer’s body, they found a gold key. Cage was also elated to find an enchanted Talenta sharrash on the rotted corpse of a halfling that had languished in a cage before death. He swore an oath to avenge the nameless fellow and put the magic blade to righteous use.
Vyrellis then got Soveliss’ attention, warning him that with all of Karavakos’ splinters defeated, the wizard was likely gathering his strength. If they did not make haste, it was probable that their quarry would escape, and even possible that they would be trapped in the pyramid forever. The bard prodded his allies into action, and they returned to the stairs leading up and ascended to a hallway with three great sets of stone double doors, each set with a decorated keyhole.
Using the clues written on the keys, the message they’d read in the Hermitage, and the Elven script around the moon keyhole, the heroes handily solved the riddle and unlocked the way up a final stairwell. The stairs led to a narrow hallway set with three sets of double doors. No sooner had they stepped off the stairs then they heard a resounding voice echo from behind the doors, as though one person were speaking out of a multitude of mouths. “Who dares invade our Sanctuary?”
They opened the nearest door to see four identical tieflings, each adorned in wizardly robes and bearing arcane accoutrements. Feh Adaka Merope boldly strode forward and smashed his fist into the nearest foe, and when he struck the creature crumpled over before shattering like glass and then fading away. False shards! The others moved into the chamber to engaged the shards before one of them proved to be stronger than the rest. A blast of freezing cold enveloped most of the adventurers, freezing them to the floor. A heartbeat later, a blast of thunder struck them all, sending them flying backwards from the large ritual chamber. Belgarde dropped to the floor, overcome by his wounds. Karavakos sneered.
The adventurers began a desperate fight, dealing with the force blasts of the false shards and the body-swapping wizard himself, who only came near to the main combat long enough to strike out with a devastating spell. Eventually, the heroes were able to gain momentum, and began smashing shards left and right. When they were all destroyed, the group engaged the wizard in melee, between a pair of pulsing black plinths in the ritual chamber. Once bloodied by their continued assault, Karavakos stumbled to the center of the chamber and as a last gambit drew on the power of the arcane machine that powered the pyramid itself!
He looked refreshed, but it proved a temporary boon as Belgarde mind blasted the wizard before the others continued to attack. Feh landed the killing blow, and Karavakos gave him a mad grin as he stumbled to his knees. The tiefling leered up at the monk and with blood gushing from his mouth said, “Goodbye.” Then he went up in a radiant explosion, the flash burning everyone. Of the wizard’s body, there was no sign save a handful of black ash.
“Is he dead?” Cage asked suspiciously.
Feh stirred the ashes with one foot. “So it would appear,” he intoned.
Karavakos’ familiar laughter began to echo around the chamber from all directions before. It continued for several tense seconds before finally fading away. Then the floor beneath their feet suddenly started to shake. The strange devices at the heart of Karavakos’ lair rumbled and hummed. Even as the light around them pulses in bright flashes, the adventurers noticed the steadily brightening light of day filtering in through the walls of the room. Slowly, the forest outside took shape in their sight. After a moment, the walls of the room vanished entirely, and a cool breeze wafted across their skin. They were free.
. . .
Searching through Karavakos’ laboratory had revealed a tome containing a number of rituals of no use except for one trapped inside the pyramid. They must have been developed by the wizard during his long captivity, allowing him to appear to those within range of the pyramid, to move the prison around the world along leylines, and to send out the call to the dreams of those talented with arcane magic. However, there were a few rituals that could prove useful to the heroes, including a way to restore Kegan to his normal fleshy form! Soveliss immediately sat down on the edge of the pyramid and began teaching himself the ritual.
“Mon ami,” said Belgarde, taking a seat beside his friend. “Zees necklace we took from ze dragon while you were…indeesposzed – eet haz ze writing. Elven would be my guess.”
“Hmm?” asked the bard, distractedly. The tiefling showed him the clasp, and he translated. “To the king and people of Therund, in friendship, Celduilon.”
“Celduilon is an eladrin realm in the Feywild,” said Vyrellis. The two looked down to the orb containing her only remaining essence. “It was…my home before I joined Karavakos.” She was silent for a few moments before continuing. “I would…be grateful if you would take the time to return me there…should your journeys take you that direction.” She seemed to be choosing her words carefully, more civil than they had seen her thus far.
Belgarde smiled broadly and said, “Mai ouis, mademoiselle! Maybee too, ze king of ze Therund would like ze geeft returned, no?” He winked at Soveliss, then continued. “And ze kings, zey like to express zeir grateetude with ze treazure!”