What are you doing here?

As Karzoug’s minions begin testing the walls of their hastily erected fort in the gateway to his demiplane, Balekh hurriedly applies magical protections to the party. As prepared as they’ll ever be, they all prick their thumbs, smear the blood on the crystal lens, fight against the nausea caused by seeing two planes at once, and simultaneously thrust their hands into the mystical brazier.

Their sight clears, and each is standing spread about an immense, circular stone platform, having apparently been decanted from one of several burning pyres arrayed about its circumference. Behind them, surrounding the platform, are sheer vertical walls of swirling soul-stuff. In the center of the platform, a tremendous, glowing blue pool lit by its own pyres must be Karzoug’s runewell. Centered is a massive, gold-bound purple gem, pulsing with light and, above that power focus, the Claimer himself.

The exact instant of their appearance was apparently a surprise to each. Though each side has had time to prepare, when their feet hit the floor, the Saviors of Sandpoint react moments faster than the lord of Greed. Haggor and Taeva fly into the air, held aloft by Balekh’s magics to surround the mage while the others throw arrows and spells. Weathering the barrage, the runelord gestures and time seems to crawl.

In what seems only a second to the heroes, Karzoug is now standing in two places: his original location and across the platform. Deadly mist, grasping black tentacles, and viscous grease have appeared at the feet of the land-bound heroes. Unfortunately for Karzoug, this is where it all starts to go wrong. Balekh’s vast array of spells has virtually immunized the entire group to such effects (perhaps, Karzoug thinks, in ways that they shouldn’t have for a caster more firmly tied to normal spell theory). Shayliss saves the killing cloud to affect her later, Balekh declares the black tentacles not a threat, and Veshenga is simply to agile to worry about a slippery floor.

Not caring about the obvious image, Taeva and Haggor again charge after the flying tyrant while Veshenga lays into him with arrows and Shayliss flings spells. Balekh waits for the archmage to cast, and, when he does so, unleashes a synchronized ray of the two most destructive spells from each of his spheres of study. Unable to complete his main working, and reeling from the attacks, Karzoug does manage to float back and use his rod to fire off a Wish for healing.

This merely delays the inevitable for a few more seconds. Now in easy grasping range, Haggor frees his full fury in a blinding barrage of blows, pulverizing the primordial prognosticator. Taeva slips forward and calmly detaches a kidney. Then Veshenga ends it with a single arrow into the eye.

As the once-mighty corpse of a man who had styled himself god-king of Shalast dessicates as drifts to the ground, the party is subjected to a blinding light from the crystal at the middle of the chamber. When they can see again, the room is no longer a demi-plane, but lodged at the base of the runelord’s tower. The runewell is frozen over in the frigid cold, its magic dissipated into the aether, and the walls of souls are gone. They take a moment to strip Karzoug’s corpse down to his shirt and then flee the mountaintop as the archmage’s lieutenants descend, returning to their bolt hole with the skulks.

Over the next few days, they watch as Karzoug’s last apprentice and chief priest fight over the remains of the domain, splintering loyalties and losing most of their rune giants, and then sweep in to eliminate the victor. Without their ancient taskmasters, most of the giants break free of the mystically-enforced loyalty and begin the long trek home. Once again, the dead city can become a myth, ruled only by the distant cousins of the Varisians who have no need of its immense wealth.

The party returns home to a society that will never appreciate the true enormity of the evil from which it was just saved, and prepares to celebrate victory.

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