As the body of Tharos lay sprawled out on the ground, Branan walked over to it and wondered if there was anything of value that he could scavenge from it. At first he tried to remove a tooth, but it was lodged in too tightly. Then, he summoned his trusty burning hands and attempted to burn through Tharos’ scales, although, when he did this, he was suddenly repulsed away from the dragon’s body. Frustrated, he stood there trying to figure out what was going on.
Meanwhile, Serine began yelling down the hallway to Nerryn (who was carrying the rune), who eventually made it back to the group after a few minutes. Sensing that it would take more time than they had to pillage the dragon’s body, they all decided to head down the long hallway that Nerryn had just come from in order to explore more of the palace.
At the end of the hallway was a set of stairs, and as they began to walk down the stairs, Nibil suddenly remembered a story he had been told about black dragons. He told the group that he suspected that Tharos, due to all of the dark energy present in this place, was not dead, but was merely regenerating his strength and power. He suggested that they move as quickly as possible to destroy the rune so as to not have to face Tharos a second time. Although both Alatir and Branan argued to go back and find a way to slay the dragon once and for all, the group voted and decided to move forward.
The stairs emptied into a large hallway that went to the left and the right, with a series of rooms in the center that could be accessed by the exterior hallway. On both sides of the stairwell were two narrow hallways that started off the main room and headed the opposite direction. After some discussion, Serine surmised that the narrow hallways led to a room underneath the pedestal room above them. The group headed down the narrow hallways to see if Serine’s deductions were correct.
The hallways emptied into a small chamber that had the same exact dimensions as the pedestal room above them. As they entered the room, they noticed that the walls were covered in a very ancient form of dwarvish. In the center of the room was a stone pillar that ran from floor to ceiling, presumably connecting to the pedestal above. On a hunch, Serine opened the book she had found in the library and suddenly saw that the same dwarvish writing on the walls was now magically appearing on the paper of the book. After a few moments of silence, Marduke recognized the writing as some kind of summoning spell, although he couldn’t figure out any of the specifics.
After searching the room carefully, they decided to head back through the narrow hallway and into the main room. Suddenly, as they began to get close to the end of the hallway, they noticed a hobgoblin on patrol—fortunately they had been quiet enough so that the hobgoblin didn’t even know they were there. They quietly discussed ambushing him, and as they were doing this, Marduke begin to chant to his ancestors (in order to summon a powerful attack spell) but Alatir placed his hand over his mouth so that they would not be discovered. Nerryn quietly slipped on the other side of the hobgoblin, who after hearing a noise, had summoned some other goblins over to him. When they were all in position, they pressed their advantage—the hobgoblins were taken by surprise, and easily routed.
After the battle, they began to explore the rooms that were in the center of the main room (the hallway completely encircled the center rooms.) Most of the rooms were full of rotted vestments and destroyed furniture, although they did discover a mysterious dwarven cloak that was somehow still well preserved. Nerryn remembered a story she had been told about a magical dwarven cloak that could make its wearer invisible, although when Marduke tried it on, nothing happened. He bundled the cloak up and they headed towards a set of stairs that led down to the next level.
The stairs opened up into a large room with openings along the walls on the left and the right that led to mine shafts—in the center of the room were large pieces of equipment used for mining. Most of the doors that led to the shafts were dwarf size, however, they did notice a gaping hole towards the end of the room (along the right wall) where they assumed Tharos had broken through. The doors on the right connected to bridges that spanned a great chasm, while the mine shafts along the left wall led straight into the mines.
As they moved further into the room, they noticed a powerful looking mage blocking their path ahead. He asked them how they had made it past his master (the dragon), and they told him that they had killed him. The mage didn’t believe this was true, as he would have most certainly felt the death of his master. The mage told them that he could not let them pass, and so naturally a fight ensued.
The mage called out for reinforcements, although Serine was able to cast a hold portal spell to keep half of them trapped on the other side. The mage turned out to be a formidable opponent, as he completely knocked Nibil out on his first attack. Eventually, though, after a great deal of fighting, the battle was won. Going over to the mage’s corpse, Nibil noticed that he had been wearing a rather nice set of chain mail. Seeing as how it was nicer than what he was currently wearing, he took it off the mage’s body—as he did this, though, he suddenly felt very sad, and he didn’t know why…