While they rested and unobserved by those sitting watch, a dark and deadly force crept among them. Sending its feathery tendrils into the room just inches from the ground, a silent killer rolled among the party’s sleeping forms, flowing into their noses and mouths. By the time Raven and Vyktor noticed what was happening, Gabriel and Vyktor’s mother had succumbed to its influence, as had Artas. Polycarp and Ignomine were able to resist its effects, while Drael was alerted by Vyktor’s cries of alarm before it engulfed him.
Vyktor’s mother, Father Gabriel, and Artas all stood up, guided by some foreign intelligence to perform its task. Most of them began walking to the room where the vord dragon was held captive, and Drael desperately built a Wall of Stone to wall off further influence from the Bane Fog’s malign influence. Unfortunately, this meant that Father Gabriel, who had started walking off in the other direction, was separated from the rest of the group and performing who knew what dastardly task.
Frustrated by conflicting motivations, Ignomine growled “Save him” to Drael before racing off to tackle Artas. Using his Paladin’s Sacrifice, Ignomine tried to take on the compulsion magic affecting Artas himself, but succumbed to it instead. He was rewarded for his hasty action with poison from Artas’ armor spikes as well.
Drael, rolling his eyes at Ignomine’s order, nonetheless teleported into the room and flew above the mist, but did not see Gabriel anywhere. Artas, now released from the compulsion’s effects and seeing Ignomine muttering “Free the dragon”, tackled him in kind and poisoned him. Vyktor’s mom, also acting under compulsion, demanded that her son remove the stone wall that blocked her.
Vyktor instead used Protection from Evil to clear Ignomine’s compulsion, who in turn tried to lift it from Vyktor’s mother and luckily succeeded. Drael continued to fly through the hallways, trying to find Gabriel, and noticed that the pit trap in front of the door to the control room had been triggered. He flew over and used Mage Hand to open the door.
With the situation with one half of the group resolved and with Drael relaying updates through Raven but not knowing if the mist was in the control room itself, she decided to take the one most likely to resist its effects and grabbed Ignomine to teleport him into the room. Gabriel was there, moving the crystals to a new (and presumably bad) configuration. Ignomine grappled the High Priest of Kharlin, forcing him to drop the crystal in his hands. Raven began trying to reset the configuration, even as one of the banks of yellow crystals began increasing in brightness.
Drael flew into the room and assisted in restraining Gabriel, stuffing a sock in his mouth after he began casting a spell that luckily Ignomine was able to interrupt or resist and pin him to the ground. Between Raven and Drael they were able to return the crystals to their original location, though not without some of the yellow ones starting to crack from an apparent overload. As the do, however, there is a brief moment where some of the party sensed some kind of dampening effect on their senses momentarily lifting. Vyktor teleports the rest of them into the control room, and the party resumes their attempt at resting, though taking care to have Polycarp disable the door to prevent new incursions of either mist or mind-addled party members messing with the crystals.
Incensed at what he assumed was the dragon going back on its word, Ignomine decided it was time to confront the ancient beast. After safely ensconcing the Invisibility-cloaked Vyktor’s mother and Father Gabriel in a Rope Trick, the group armored themselves up and strode into the dragon’s chamber to demand its life, only to be stymied by the dragon’s thick armored hide, Quickened Black Tentacles, and Wall of Force, despite its restraints. Having failed miserably, sensing an almost impossible battle, and starting to doubt the dragon was actually responsible, the party decided to explore for alternatives.
They found a room packed with the corpses of those that had apparently trapped themselves within, trying to wait out whatever apocalypse was chasing them. Two bodies outside also had letters in ancient Drow, apologizing for their failure and their fate. Among the desiccated corpses they found two amulets, both for Magic Circles though one for Good and one for Evil.
The next room they explored was full of drow ghouls, perhaps the very doom the ancient drow had been trying to avoid all those millennia ago. Vyktor dropped Black Tentacles, dividing the monsters and slowing their engagement while the party tried to take down the others. Two Grave Knights charged Artas and Ignomine at the front, allowing Ignomine to smite one to devastating effect. Drael finished it off with a well-placed volley of Magic Missiles. Polycarp unloaded on the other with his quiver of Daybreak Arrows.
Artas, seeing that the ghouls were getting free of the tentacles, cast his Grasp of the Dead. Despite this one of the ghouls was able to charge Artas, and their leader called upon its unholy god to smite Ignomine and revealing itself as a Grave Commander. Drael casts Invisibility on Polycarp, which allowed him to unleash an invisible fullisade of brilliant arrows against the Commander for a devastating 115 damage. The monster staggered but somehow managed to stay standing.\
The ghoul bowman abandoned its weapon and charged Artas, attempting to bite him but his superior armor and magical Shield prevented the pestilential attack from getting through. Ignomine meanwhile smote the Commander in turn and obliterated him. Drael continued to run interference, using his Aqueous Orb to harass and displace the other ghouls while he hit them with more Magic Missiles. Polycarp finished off the bowless ghoul bowman with some excellently placed shots just as it was attempting to feast on Artas again, finishing the melee.
Further in the room they discovered a side chamber with a diagram marked with all sorts of ancient arcane and drow symbols. Working together, Artas and Vyktor were able to piece together that it described the room in which the vord dragon was restrained, though its current state did not match the diagram. It appeared like it was an attempt to repurpose the sector’s defenses and use the dragon as a way to power them, while simultaneously containing it. They also discovered another room with crystal sconces, though they lacked operating crystals.
Finally, they found a door wedged shut. As they attempted to force it open by pounding on it, something on the other side responded with pounding on its own. Readying themselves for another attack, the group motioned for Artas for force it the rest of the way. As he did so, Artas’ doppelgänger fell through and collapsed into his arms, beaten and bloodied, gasping “I’m so glad I finally found you.”
Suspicious, they motioned for Raven to use one of the charges from her wand of Cure Light Wounds on the familiar stranger. The Artas-double then slowly changed, revealing itself to be the shapeshifted form of their Bronze Dragon! Ignomine immediately set to healing the rest of its wounds while it explained that it had been searching after the party for some weeks, despite GS343 assuring it that they were dead.
Overjoyed, the party gave it an update on where they had been (conveniently leaving out details about the Vord dragon) and discovering that this complex must have had a time dilating effect as well. They decided that since Artas was unlikely to be able to escape the containment field, and being unwilling to drop the field by killing or releasing the dragon (and thereby setting everything else in the complex loose too) their best option was to get GS343 to assist them in bringing down the field.
Vyktor went back to the Rope Trick to collect the two civilians, then led them and the dragon outside of the containment field to teleport back to their rooms. He returned shortly thereafter with GS343, who was overjoyed (if incredulous) that they were all still alive. Calling upon its curiosity, they convinced the construct to aid them in assessing the control panel and trying to disable the field long enough for Artas to escape, but without allowing all the other nasty things to be set loose upon the city of Kharlin above. But first, they had to get it through the containment field…
Fearing that the field might kill it just as it had nearly killed Artas, the set Vyktor on one side and Ignomine on the other prepared to cast Breath of Life as GS343 rocketed through the barrier. It made it most of the way through before collapsing in a heap, luckily brought back from the brink by Ignomine’s touch. From there, they surveyed the diagram room and crystal control rooms, before deciding on a plan.
Though they could theoretically use the ship control crystals to increase their odds, they decided to risk using just the existing crystals. Most of the group readied themselves just outside the barrier while Drael and GS343 stayed by the control room. Warned that there may be only seconds while the field was down, Drael prepared his Cape of the Mountebank to allow him to teleport himself and the construct directly to the exit. After a quick prayer to the fates by the party, GS343 began the sequence.
The crystals began sparking just as Raven relayed that the field was down, and Artas charged through. Met with heavy resistance, he nonetheless made it through the barrier. The control room meanwhile was engulfed in flames and explosions, just as Drael wrapped the construct in his cape and teleported them out, just in time for them to pass through and escape, and for them to make their way back to their rooms and safety.