A silent curse goes through the groups minds as the dragon stops falling and resumes it attack, seemingly no worse for wear. The party begins to to move back into formation to fight the beast when Saneic sees almost imperceptible magical threads connecting the dragon to the floating crystal nearby and calls for the party to break the crystal in desperation, thinking the crystal is somehow preventing the death of the dragon, while firing a barrage of arrows at it.
Without hesitation, Varren moves towards the crystal, ripping into it with his otherworldly powers and removing massive chunks of it, but it stays in the air, feeding the dragons power despite it. Zarik, seeing how heavily the crystal is resisting every attempt of the party so far to destroy it, comes up with a plan. Dodging around the now panicking dragons wild flailing, he grabs onto Shar (currently in the form of a magic enhanced flaming Rhino) and uses dimension door to jump them…a hundred feet above the crystal. Shar’s only thoughts before the fall being ‘That fucking necromancer.’
While Zarik’s magic stops gravity from rudely reminding him that he belongs on the ground, Shar has no such protection, and plummets horn first towards the gemstone. With a sound of screeching metal, she punches through the top of it and for a split second is able to marvel at the swirling vortex of color greater then even an aurora in the center of it before it violently reacts to the druids intrusion and explodes, Shar’s last conscious thought directed towards Varren ‘Please catch me’ as the impossibly sharp shrapnel tears through her body.
Seeing the crystal come to an end before it’s eyes, the dragon makes a snap descion and dives into the water. Draka attacks the dragon, wrapping his chains around the creature in an attempt to stop it, but either from its own sheer bulk or its panic, is able to throw off the chains and submerge into the dark whirling vortex of water around the city. The dragon gone, the party makes a dash for Shar.
Shyr, upon reaching her, uses his magic to help her regain consciousness as she slowly opens her eyes. The disoriented druid is suddenly swarmed by Khyber and Saneic as they hug her close. Chameleon jumps over everyone and lands on top of his master, curling around her as he makes sure she is ok. In an almost reverent and awed tone, Shar tells the party what she saw before the explosion and asks if anyone knows anything more about the crystal. No one seems to though and as the party turns to ask Meepo, they find him standing off on his own several feet away, taking the city into view and hearing him state he never thought he would see it.
The insectoid warforged are now noticeably silent and unmoving, Khyber taking the time to kick more then one of them in frustration. As the party stands in a group about what to do now, they begin gathering samples to take back to Mettius, taking several pairs of armor, weapons, one of the strange corpses, two of the warforged themselves, and some of the crystal and begin the slow journey through the caves back to the surface. One of the nights spent in the caves, however, the party feels the mountain shake and a terrible sound rip through the caverns and all look at each other grimly, all assuming it to be the dragon escaping to wreak havoc on the surface…
Getting back to the blocked up hole leading to the dwarven mines, the party talk Meepo into letting them put him in chains to lie and tell the dwarves that he is there prisoner, and he reluctantly agrees. Draka knocks on the stones loudly and calls out that they are alive, the caverns are cleared out, and the would like to get out now. The dwarves wait a few moments, and some of the party hear them send others to fetch Grateam and tell him the group is back.
They let the party out, who very thankfully take a deep breath of the noticeably cleaner and nicer air in the dwarven mines as the tension starts draining out of all of them. They are lead back to Grateam’s office and the elderly dwarf is currently enjoying the ale they brought him at their last meeting. His rosy red cheeks and glassy eyes taking them all in cheerfully and offering them a glass of the ale.
Although drunk, he quickly gets down to business, dismissing many of the things the party have and only taking an interest in the items made of Zheechdrain metal and claiming one of the warforged bodies. He is curios about Meepo but before he gets to ask to much, Amren licks him and Shar states that the wolf has taken a liking to the kobold and the party intends to give it to the massive canine. Being drunk, Greteam quickly changes the subject and does not want to dwell on the implications. Instead he gives the party a small chest of 5000 GP as thanks for the mine being cleared and sends them on their way, Varren discussing quickly plans for a weapon he would like constructed that Greteam agrees to have his smiths work on for him.
Setting out the next morning to head back to Mettius, the group shows up at his house in Istrus much to the shock of the gnome servant who opens the door. Quickly turning red when she misspeaks and calls them the suicide group, she rushes them inside to Mettius’ study and dismissing herself. While even less concerned then his servant with societal norms, he is none the less happy to see the group even stating he likes Meepo since no one else he has ever met is shorter then him.
When shown what was brought back, the normally quick speaking chatty halfling almost passes out when he stops breathing from shock, looking at all the items and hearing what the party found, mostly the cube they found which he calls a Thought Cube, and the corpse of what may be a Zheechdrian, as none have ever been discovered. Agreeing to attempt to avoid bloodshed, if only so he would not have to give hazard pay to whoever he brings down the mine with him, he starts making plans for a full fledged archaeological expedition down the caverns.
Given a moment to collect his thoughts, Mettius also informs the party he took the liberty to redirect their mail to his home and hands several party members letters, Shyr, Zarik, and Draka. Shyr reads his and glances from the paper to Shar, his mouth forming a grim line. Etir, once again forgetting boundaries, looks into Shyr’s mind and his expression mimics the cleric’s as Shar asks whats going on. Shyr merely states that he would like to discuss it in more private circumstances. Khyber asks for some books on the warforged before leaving and Mettius hands over several personally translated tomes to her, telling her good luck.
He gives the rest of the party 10,000 GP and says there is much potential for more to come there way for the discovery of the city. He also states he would be more then happy to work with them again and says he will send letters to Draka’s house in the capital if he has anymore work for them. Before leaving, Mettius asks Meepo to stay so they may discuss the goblinoid issue in the caves and he agrees, stating to the party he would like to stay at Draka’s house while waiting for them to come back form their adventures and take care of the place in their absence. The party agrees and wonders aloud if they should pay him.
Finally dismissed by Mettius, the group heads to the inn, Zarik heading to his room right away and closing the door. Shar asks again what Shyr’s letter said, and Etir blurting it out as Shyr tries to find the words to tell Shar he had one of his friends check in on her druid grove only to find out she had been excommunicated from it. Viably hurt, Shar says she was afraid that would happen and asks Saneic if she use the sending stone to talk to Gamer and send him a letter to get to the grove in an attempt to fix the relation.
Shyr takes the time to check on Zarik, the necromancer being rather short with him and telling Shyr he is fine and nothing is wrong. Shyr is not convinced but leaves him be, sternly warning Etir, who had gone with him, not to pry into Zarik’s mind and to respect his privacy.
The next morning the party slowly makes their way our of their rooms and down the stairs, to see Meepo waiting for them in new clothes and wearing a shiny new badge, which he is eagerly showing off, showing his new stature as a minor diplomat. The party makes plans to head to the capital to drop Meepo off at the house before traveling forward, when Etir, unable to stop himself, peers into Zarik’s mind to see the letter. Right away he is filled with regret and apologizes.
Irritated at the doppleganger, Zarik throws the letter down onto the table for the party to read. Its a letter from his father, who Zarrik explains, was thought to be dead by the necromancer, asking him to meet him in the town of Leptis Magna. He states he is not sure if it really is his father, or if its his birth father of the man who raised him, explaining to the party that neither of the people he called his parents were teiflings. After some discussion they all agree that they want to help Zarik with this, no matter what he decides to do, and soon the party makes plans to head to Leptis Magna, stopping by Mettius’ home to secure safe passage for Meepo, who wishes them all good luck and tells them a meal will be waiting for when they return.
The party then heads out, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, to the town where the letter tells them they will meet Zarik’s father…