Templeton quickly communicated the layout of the room beyond the bronze plate tapestry. Especially the part about Vanifer waving Tinder Strike in front of an altar and the huge form of Imix emerging from the pulsing sphere of the fire node. Badding grabbed hold of Puck and flew into the huge room, past the invisible Templeton and right adjacent to Vanifer. Puck then cast a wall of force spell creating a 30 foot long 10 foot wide tunnel of force with a roof encapsulating and trapping both them and Vanifer inside. There was one 5 foot opening facing opposite the location of Imix. Vanifer suddenly came out of her exultation at the completion of her ritual and looked quite surprised by the Aarokokra and gnome that were right next to her. As she decided what to do about the intruders, Templeton slipped invisibly inside the wall of force via the opening and took careful aim. A heavy crossbow bolt slammed into Vanifer’s thigh severing a major artery as Templeton faded into view. Vanifer cried out in pain as blood poured down her leg. Quintus ran up and jumped with his magic ring enabling him to close the distance and get inside the wall of force. Brenn ran up as well to get just outside of the wall of force entrance. Imix’s gigantic form was alive with burning flame yet he made no noise whatsoever. He eerily pointed his hand at Puck and Badding. Two huge bolts of fire blasted into the wall of force doing no harm to them. Imix seemed to gather himself as if he were taking a huge breath and then released it outward in a storm of fire that filled the entire room and flowed into the area inside the wall of force via the opening. The heat and fire did damage to some but even worse added a level of exhaustion to most including disadvantage to saving throws for Puck and Quintus while Brenn and Badding experienced the next level of exhaustion – cutting their speed in half.
Vanifer sensed she was in trouble so she tried to misty step out of the trap to get herself beyond the wall of force. But Puck had something to say about that. And that something was … counterspell! With her escape spell ruined, Vanifer bit her lip and shrugged. She followed it up with a fireball that filled the entire inside of the tunnel of force with fire. Badding’s aura of magic resistance helped lower the burning pain by half for all party members and Templeton was able to avoid it completely with this evasion ability. Quintus cast protection from fire on himself. Templeton used his mage hand to gently rub Vanifer by the breast to distract her. This allowed him to fire Sky Piercer with advantage. Another heavy bolt tore into Vanifer, this time in her shoulder quite close to her neck. Brenn then swiftly closed the gap and lit into her with his longsword reserving the final attack for a commander’s strike, encouraging Templeton to fire again. Templeton needed little prompting. Another deadly heavy crossbow bolt hit Vanifer this time squarely in the throat. She gasped and fell to the floor, her entire form turning to ash. The only thing that remained was Tinder Strike lying in the ashes.
Imix floated closer and unleashed a wall of fire that closed off the entrance and exit to the wall of force. There was now no way for party members to get out of the assembled walls of force without getting burned by the wall of fire. The wall of force had served its purpose – to cut off Vanifer from Imix and let the party focus all of its attacks on her. Now that Vanifer was destroyed, Puck let go of his concentration on the wall of force spell in order to better allow the party to attack Imix and possibly close the gate. Puck went for it and cast banishment on Imix. The fire elemental prince of evil failed his save but used his legendary resistance to make the save instead. Later Puck cast the banishment spell again. This time Imix made his save, but Puck used his Lucky feat to force Imix to try and save again. The second time he failed his save and was forced to use his legendary resistance again to avoid being hurtled back to the elemental plane of fire by Puck’s magic.
There was a great deal of lava between the altar and the fire node. It was floating about 20 feet above the top of the weeping colossus which was about 100 feet off the ground. Badding was slow from exhaustion but he still could make it as it seemed flying would be the only way to get to the fire node. Badding reached down and grabbed Tinder Strike. He paused for a moment gazing into its obsidian blade. He then shrugged and tossed Tinder Strike into the lava next to himself. Imix floated down towards the party from on high to close into melee. As soon as the dagger left his hands he realized what a terrible mistake his clouded mind had made. Badding seemed ill equipped to deal with the powerful artifact and the power it had over him. But the paladin tried again. He desperately reached down into the lava and pulled the dagger out. But the red hot lava burned away parts of his hand and he pulled away unable to withstand the pain. But Badding looked up at the behemoth form of Imix floating down towards him and then looked back at his ruined hand as Tinder Strike began to sink beneath the lava. With a powerful squawk! he plunged his hand into the lava to firmly grasp the hilt of the dagger. The acrid smell of burnt feathers and his own burning flesh wafted over his nose holes. With his beak clenched in pain he pulled it out and held the dagger just long enough to toss it onto the ground at Puck’s feet. Puck snatched the dagger off the ground and touched Badding who was doubled over in pain gently on the shoulder and said, ‘Come my friend its time to end this!’ Puck swirled his Cape of the Monteback and teleported both himself and Badding adjacent to the fire node. Badding’s flapping wings held them both aloft as Puck gathered himself to plunge Tinder Strike into the fire node.
But before Puck could strike another huge form burst out of the lava below them. Halinaxus flew up and with a mighty pulse of his huge wings hurt Puck and Badding and forced them back from the fire node. The huge red dragon then interposed its scaly body between them and the node. Halinaxus looked down at Imix as if seeking the Fire Elemental Prince of Evil’s approval. Templeton yelled out across the huge cavern, ‘Halinaxus, you two timing double crosser! We had a deal! We have at least 4 hours left in our arrangement.’ Halinaxsus let out a loud scoffing noise, ‘Why would I honor an agreement with you petty fools when I can impress Imix with my loyalty and prove my worth to him.’ Templeton frowned, ‘I will remember this Halinaxus. Your casual tossing aside of our deal will have consequences… dire consequences… A Daltrey always pays his debts…’
Meanwhile Quintus, Brenn, and Templeton played pound the Imix. Templeton used his mage hand to distract Imix allowing him to fire with advantage and sneak attack. The deadly enchanted bolts hurt the creature but it was hard to tell by how much. Clearly it had an enormous wealth of hit points. Brenn launched strike after strike trying to his goading attack to force Imix to attack only him. But Imix made all of his saves and resisted the urge. Even worse, every blow that Brenn landed on Imix caused nasty burns and fire damage on Brenn’s body. Quintus hit Imix with another banishment spell but Imix saved.
The mighty head of Halinaxus drew in a long breath. Badding and Puck who were both terribly wounded grimaced. They knew what terrible fire was about to be unleashed upon them. But suddenly before Halinaxus could use his breath weapon, something large and fast moving detached itself from the shadows. Another huge Dragon but this one formed of shadow came hurtling out of the darkness to smash into Halinaxus with her fierce claws. It was none other than The Dark Lady.
As Templeton and Brenn continued to fight Imix down below. Brenn exclaimed at the sight of the Shadow Dragon. ‘Ah ha!’ said Templeton, ’That’s right you missed the part earlier on when we met The Dark Lady in her lair. Of course at that time she was in the form of a beautiful drow woman. I convinced her to help us after a bit of parlay with her and a bit of a game of wits. Clearly my powers of seduction and eminent charm had an effect on her.’ Brenn burst out with a huge guffaw, ‘You seduced that thing?’ pointing at the huge shadow dragon. Templeton frowned, ‘yes… well… you should have seen her in her drow form… Much more appealing indeed.’ Quintus winced, ‘Are you two done blabbin’ yet? Come on, there’s more ass kickin’ to do. Let’s get to it!’
Although Brenn, Templeton, and Quintus were doing tons of damage to him and should have been occupying all of his attention, Imix seemed suddenly drawn to the aerial dragon battle above. He seemed to look right past it, however, and focused on Badding flying closer to the fire node and what wee Puck was holding in his little hand. Faster than a blink of an eye, Imix disappeared and reappeared directly adjacent to Badding and Puck.
Imix unleashed a torrent of fire that burned through Puck and Badding’s body. A holy nimbus of power, however, surrounding Badding, protected both him and Puck. If it weren’t for this paladin’s aura, Puck would have died and Tinder Strike would have fallen into the lava below. Barely clinging to life, Puck steeled himself against the searing pain of the heat and fire. He yelled, ‘This is for you Scandarian!’ and thrust Tinder Strike into the fire node. With a horrible sucking sound the obsidian dagger was consumed by the fire node and disappeared within it.
Imix’s form suddenly shuddered and seemed to be drawn closer to the fire node. The two dragons continued to attack each other ferociously. And Badding carried Puck away down towards the ground where Templeton, Quintus, and Brenn watched down below. As they descended, through the lick of the flames, the party all saw a humanoid form stride into the room from the south. It was a drow male. Templeton and Puck exclaimed in unison. They both thought instantly that it was Vizeran Devir. But how could that be? That was the drow wizard who had actually forged the The Fane of The Eye and crafted the legendary weapons of the various cults.