As we approached what must be considered the “center” of the Gloaming, we saw a group of guards wearing the Emerald Claw emblem. There was a brief period of combat, but they were no match for us. We would soon learn the real challenge lay below.
I dominated one of the Guards to get some quick information. While he did not possess an overwhelming amount of useful knowledge, we did learn there were others beneath our feet, underground through one of the holes, and they were doing something to/with the Gloaming. He confirmed they were spellcasters and at least one of them was talented with undeath.
Soon after, an invisible man dressed in dark armor with a greatsword wreathed in black fire flew out and stabbed Gilroy in the throat, then said “blind” in my direction, but his target was Arius. Power Word spells are very strong, and very dangerous; this man was no simple guard.
Following the dark stranger, a woman with a scythe emerged from the hole. She, too, was flying, and opened with a Silence spell on me. With the help of the grace bestowed upon me by Gilroy, I shrugged it off with ease. It was at that point Jayden and I heard something else coming from the hole in the ground; he acted quickly to create a dome-shaped wall of ice to keep whatever was coming from getting out. A second later, several bursts of red glowed from inside the dome until part of the wall exploded outward. What emerged was a rabid corpse-like creature, standing on four legs with a crook spine and large pustules across its body.
Arorra moved as she pulled her dark patterns of writing around her, giving her eyes a glow. Apparently able to see invisibility now, she focused her power out at the dark stranger, but missed him. She would have hit him, had it not been for the displacement spell I now recognized. At that moment, Jayden and I noticed skeletal hands clawing from the ground; they would emerge in a matter of seconds. Wasting no time, Gilroy flew away from the dark stranger who tried to hit Gilroy as the opportunity presented itself, but he couldn’t. Upon reaching Arius, Gilroy laid his hands upon him to cure his blindness in a beautiful spectacle of healing light.
I asked Braun if he felt he could handle the woman, and he nodded nonchalantly, so I focused my power into the strongest dispelling magic I know, greater dispel magic, and targeted the dark stranger. I ended his invisibility and two other spells that must have been strong magic, because the displacement was still active, or its source was not a spell. Arius, with his sight back, used brutalize wounds on the woman. Then, true to his word, and with help from Arius’s power, Braun moved forward very swiftly as his features became more artificial and elven simultaneously, like when I wear the Crown of Stars. He lashed out with his staff, hitting the woman while casting corrosive grasp, causing dark energy to flow out from the staff, onto the woman, then back into him; she passed out, apparently dead. Mirroring the attack on his female companion, the dark stranger charged at Arorra, hitting her with his greatsword, as Jayden cast wall of light around the hole, as an additional deterrent.
Inside the hole, Jayden and I heard someone casting dispel magic, but we didn’t notice any change to the hole or otherwise. Arorra took a quick step backward as she fired her pattern magic at the stranger, but he pushed it off with a very recognizable look of worry on his face. Then the skeletons emerged from underground, many moving toward Arorra and attacking her, but all failed to break through the pattern of magic around her. Many of us took notice the skeletons were former Emerald Claw soldiers, as their armor indicated. Now worried Arorra was in danger, Gilroy summoned Valeforastin, mounted him, flew over to Arorra, and teleported the three of them 20 feet into the air as Valefor made Arorra invisible. Arius turned his attention to the dark stranger, who resisted a mind wipe, just as I tried hitting him with witchfire that passed through his displacement. Braun moved up beside me, which I must admit, makes me feel much more comfortable than I originally anticipated. The dark stranger flew over to the woman, prayed and cast heal on her, bringing her back from the brink of death. Lesson learned: finish the job. She tried dispelling the wall of light around the hole, but failed, as Jayden attempted to contact and summon the Lady Eldeen, but couldn’t. The rabid-dog-like-creature tried attacking the soldier under my control, but missed.
Arorra blasted one of the skeletons with her magic pattern, destroying it as the patterns burst out destroying two more skeletons. The remaining skeletons attacked the soldier under my control and killed him. Gilroy dismounted and flew over to the dark stranger and woman, both of them trying to attack him but missing. With a few words, Gilroy summoned the male unicorn we met briefly, who started smiting the woman, hitting her three times. Valefor tried hitting the dark stranger, but missed as Arius tried mind wiping the stranger again. He resisted the power, clearly strong of will. Then I reached deep into the tome of stars and pulled out strands of starlight witchfire that obliterated the woman, thanks to Arius’s brutalize wounds still affecting her, and then chained it over to the dark stranger hurting him as well. Braun used the wand of fireball, killing the remaining skeletons, and injuring the rabid dog, as the dark stranger uttered a word of chaos, banishing Valefor as he screamed. The unicorn was fine, and Gilroy resisted the dangerous power. Suspecting more enemies in the hole, Jayden flew over it and cast a flame strike down into the darkness, cleansing it with holy fire.
Maybe a second later, two invisible and burned men in cloaks with crossbows on their backs emerged from the hole, holding their eyes, and started to run away. Arorra chased after them, shooting her pattern out, killing them both. Then, in a flurry of blows, Gilroy and the unicorn attacked the dark stranger dealing a massive amount of damage to him, but still, he stood. Sensing his opportunity, Arius used brutalize wounds on the dark stranger, which the man no longer had the will to resist. I shot witchfire at him, hoping to destroy him like he did the woman, but the displacement saved his life. Then Braun moved down to the dog creature, shoving his staff through its face as dark energy flowed up the staff into Braun.
The dark stranger moved past Gilroy and the unicorn, both missing attacks of opportunity because of the displacement, flew over a different hole and said “the power is mine”, and then let himself fall downward in a thump. Jayden moved but couldn’t see far enough down. Arorra asked if we were pursuing as Gilroy asked the unicorn if he was ready to continue. Arius flew over to the pit as I flew into the hole and said, “The light of my people will guide us”, summoning dancing lights from my Crown. Braun stayed at my side. Jayden changed his shape into a magma elemental and began skating through the earth.
Arorra made herself invisible as I sent the dancing lights ahead of us, asking Jayden to look around. It was a hollowed out cavern with many emerald claw corpses, and some civilian corpses, piled together. Strangely, none of the corpses were rotting. I mentioned they must be fresh, or their being kept fresh by some type of magic. Gilroy detecting evil on the corpses, but detected none, as Jayden found a dark portal set into the wall. He detected no magic on it, and Gilroy detected no evil on it. I sent my dancing lights in, but could not bring them out, so I created more. I asked Arorra if she knew anything about it, and she stated what we all expected: this was the portal to Mabar. Looking for answers, Jayden began using his divination ability as his eyes went dark like the void in front of us. He learned that the source of the problem was not here, that it could be on the other side, that there were Emerald Claw soldiers on the other side, and that the issue is definitely not fixed yet. Jayden requested we stay down near the portal, in case the mage that must have run away comes back. Arius setup mind links on everyone, and we split up to different parts of the cavern. We gathered up the different spoils of combat, but after an hour we all felt negative energy permeating our bodies.
We resigned to waiting outside the cavern where we fought the dark stranger and woman. We began to rest. I drifted to sleep very quickly, having depleted a fair amount of my power. I thought about the dark stranger’s last words: “The power is mine”, which we had heard once before when we were mugged in Sharn…
The next thing I remember is waking to Jayden’s voice saying, “Everyone needs to get up, NOW!”