Well there you have it. We created boat that can float on lava, how sweet is that!? Of course it took nearly all of our available residuim but the end result is worth it. After well needed rest we decided to take the tunnel on the right and see where that lead us. Ghesh strapped himself to the skull in the front, Kildrak and Adrik ran the ores, Mizzy manned the helm, and I tried desperately to hold together the amalgamation below us. The way was rough but with my knowledge of geology and volcanic rivers(helps when you are born in a volcano) I managed to take the safest route. I knew soon that we would be coming up on a lavafall which gave us enough time to plan an escape from the Bahamboat. Ghesh was not willing to part with all of it so he kept the skull as we watched the raft fall down the huge flow. Looking back the sight was impressive, it appeared as if we were expelled from a giant maw. Creepy enough but of course Ghesh enjoyed it.
We floated slowly through the canyon on the lift looking for anything worth stopping for. On the far side through the haze we could see a similar opening with a horizonal lock system heading up to it. The other interesting feature of this lake was a sizable island near the middle, Adrik and I could feel a large amount of binding necromantic energy cascading from it. After a short discussion we assumed that this was the work of Hectopichoche similar to what she was doing to Kildrak’s hammer. If we wanted to hold up our end of the bargain to the abolyth we needed any edge that we could get so we decided to land. Once we landed we were greeted by three ghostly aberrations; one hobgoblin and two bugbears. Their translucent garments looked familiar and I recognized them as the style from hobgoblin empire of Zythaari and the hobgoblin was dressed as a great lord or some other important noble. They put up their hands as to not let us pass but they didn’t draw up arms against us. I asked what who they were but they seemed confused and spoke back in similar gibberish. It seemed like Mizzy could understand them and explained that they were speaking goblin, an older dialect but it still checked out.
Through her converstation we came to find out that this was the last emperor Zythol and that they have been bound to this island by the dracolich around a month ago. She had tricked Zythol after offering a chance for glory. She convinced him to raise the ancient hobgoblin army which he could lead into glorious battle against the denizens of the underdark. But once the army was raised and organized she attempted to banish him back to the netherworld. In a last desperate act he was able to pull the souls from his most loyal retainers and shunt the spell to this island. We mentioned that we had defeated the dracolich once but failed to destroy her completely before she slipped away and are looking for any way to finish the job.
Zythol explained that he chose this island as it is where Zythaari high priest would bless the warrior dead before burying them. Part of this blessing included binding spell that would bring them back the empire needed them. It was this binding that allowed Hectopichoche and Zythol to raise the army. They would be in the best fighting shape as they were in the prime of their life. He has been working on a way to break this spell ever since but doesn’t have enough energy to do it by himself. After talking with it over we mention that could help. All this while Ghesh who was mourning the death of the Bahamboat lets out a scream of success, it seems that the boat found skull that he had saved. As we were completely out of residuim we thought the only option was to destroy the boat. Ghesh wouldn’t have of it. Adrik calmly offered up his old warhammer, thinking that the magical energy bound within it would suffice. Soon we started the ritual to break the spell. After a grueling half hour or so the beam was snapped. We saw power rush back into the emperor and his retainers. He mentioned that the hobgoblin army had been weakened but they were still bound to the dracolich, maybe now just mindless as their souls were resting in the netherworld. He could also leave the island.
We asked where we might find Hectopichoche and said to follow the locks on the far side for before this place was filled with lava it was normal lake with the locking system allowing further passage into the empire. He asked if he could join to get his revenge, we all agreed thinking no ill will could come from this, after all we just removed his binding and released the souls of his soldiers. But that was not the case for as soon as we exited the small cave his bodyguards attacked. I was incensed! Not only did we free them we used our materials for it. How could they betray us like this?! With battle lines drawn we on teaching these foolish ghost that they should have just came peacefully. Though our blows were not as effective due to their incorporeal bodies I could still trap their mind and force them to attack each other. Ghesh and Mizzy battled off the summon mephits while I used all my gnomish might to bring down one of the bodyguards. As as the body dissipated I drew up all my courage and magic at my control to convenience Zythol the great error he committed.
Zythol fell to the floor trying in vain to scoop up his companion’s essence, but there was nothing left. He spoke, in common, that he underestimated us and to please have mercy on him. When his power was restored he thought that could go straight to the lich and we were just fodder in the way. Reading his will I found him to be true, Zythol was truely remorseful for his actions his fate was in our hands. We spoke about what to do, if there was anything that he could offer. Zythol mentioned there is an armory within the keep that has many powerful artifacts that could be used. He also said that maybe with a combined attack we could take down the lich, something we intended on doing prior to his betrayal anyways. Though we couldn’t completely trust him his knowledge of wards on the vault were invaluable so we decided to have him join us, but his retainer could not come. With that Zythol spoke to his bodyguard to gather whatever troops he could for a final attack, Kildrak mentioned that final battle would be heard with a thunderbolt.
So we took off to the locks on the far side of the lake. When we got it we were very impressed with the workmanship, even wondering how the locking system worked. Zythol a little exasperated explained to us how we can toggle the levels to close the gates and raise the lava between locks. An impressive feat of engineering, but something I could see an intelligent race doing, nothing fanciful as a mile long bridge. Because we were dealing with lava instead of water Mizzy to resort to using her spider cloak to climb the walls. I steered in the mean time and did a fairly good job, we lost a few ropes but luckily we had some backups to still use. After we got through the locking system we sailed through a shallow canal. Zythol has us stop at a dock that lead up some steep stairs. He said the vault is just beyond these doors.
What will we find when we get there?