The bottom of the stairs opened up into a large chapel. Old pews lay scattered throughout the room, and a long neglected altar was built into the center of the wall opposite from the stairs (this wall also had seven half-columns built into it, with the altar jutting out of the base of the center column.) Marduke made his way through the chapel and to the altar at its center—in his haste, though, he tripped over a small table, making quite a bit of noise. Suddenly, just above the altar, the pillar door (which they had not noticed had been cut into the stone) began to slide open. For a moment, nothing happened—then, several hobgoblins burst out, catching them by surprise.
The captain of the hobgoblins demanded to know what they were doing in the chapel. Branan, once again, attempted to reason with them, and miraculously, the captain began to have a conversation with him (no one in the group had ever had a conversation with a goblin before…) After a short conversation, Branan convinced the hobgoblin to take him to their leader. The group stepped up on the altar and walked single file through the door, not knowing where they were being led.
The hallway opened up into a strange, dark room flowing with intense, magical energy. At the center was a pedestal that had an indent in it that roughly fit the shape of the Rune of the Grey. Flowing from the pedestal were seven trough-like grooves that moved to and under the surrounding walls. As Branan was talking to the captain, he was suddenly interrupted by a deep and dark voice. At first, no one could see where the voice was coming from. It asked them what they were doing here in Thog Tahrir, and seemed surprised that they had made it this far past all of his patrols.
After some conversation, the voice finally revealed his name to the group—Tharos the Vengeful. Serine remembered from her studies that Tharos was rumored to be an old and powerful black dragon, an entity attracted to places of powerful, dark magic. Tharos, realizing he had the upper hand, offered to make a deal with the group—all they had to do was simply give him the Rune of the Grey and in return, he would let them leave alive. Knowing that their mission all along was to somehow destroy it, they refused. Tharos, amused by their defiance, ordered the hobgoblins to attack.
Although not as easy as the first fight with the first set of hobgoblins, the group overcame them with relative ease. As soon as they fight had ended, Serine, Nibil, and Nerryn made for the door in order to escape. As they did this, they saw it shut in front of them before they could get out. Meanwhile, Tharos began to make them all the same offer again—hand over the Rune of the Grey and he would let them live. Branan attempted to barter on behalf of the group, explaining to Tharos that they had to destroy the rune lest it brought about the end of the world. Tharos told them that he could not stand the idea of the rune being destroyed, as he desired it greatly. He offered to keep it safe from anyone else who may come in search of it, as he was quite sure that he was powerful enough to fend off any attacker or would be thief. Tharos also revealed to the group that the rune was the bane of the dwarves, as they had attempted (unsuccessfully) long ago to harness its powers.
While Branan, Alatir, and Marduke were speaking with Tharos, the other three were trying to find a way to open the now shut door. Eventually, they were able to pry it open just enough to make an escape. Joining up with the three who were talking to Tharos, Serine let them know that the door was open and that it would be possible to escape without having to engage the dragon. Alatir and Branan, however, convinced the group that the only way to destroy the Rune of the Grey was to destroy the dragon who was blocking the path that led deeper into the palace. And so, the fight against Tharos began.
It was, to say the least, a brutal fight. Tharos unleashed powerful attack, after powerful attack, and many of the group fell numerous times. About halfway through the battle, Tharos offered to spare all their lives if they would only give him the Rune of the Grey, but they refused, so the fight continued on. As the battle waged on, Tharos suddenly moved from his defensive position and out into the open. They all quickly pounced on him, except for Nerryn who ran down the hallway now open due to the movement of Tharos.
It’s not clear who landed the final blow, but at the end of the battle Tharos lay motionless on the floor before them. They stood there, stunned into silence…who would ever believe that they defeated Tharos the Vengeful?