The group returned to the first village by way of Dimensional Folding.
van Rijn (assisted by Zell) and Joliffe negotiated before Joliffe found a hidden jeweled bracelet which she used to open a portal much like the one the Mercane
The negotiation was over the group staying in Ambartzumian to deal with leftover problems. Zell pointed out that it is unlikely the Mercane will consider this too favorably given that they would expect the group to clean out the yuan ti for their own reasons.
Dimensional Folding was used to return to the lizard folk village. More elven villagers had escaped from the lightly guarded temple the yuan ti dwelled in. They thought there might be more captives but didn’t know.
Phantom Steeds used to climb the stairs with a shrunken Ariel carried by Wendeam. Along the way there was broken terrain with the signs of a legendary monster, the chimera, along with some other bizarre beats. One was found dead—-signs it once was a histachii—-surrounded by dead vultures and no insects. Its flesh appeared poisonous.
Eventually the ruins of the temple were entered. There were many, and clearly the complex had been built on many times by many different people. Near the main temple there was a penned-up Beast of Chaos, which Wendeam identified as being created from ordinary creatures mutated when the Queen of Chaos’ attention focused on a world. However, it seemed to be staked out like a domestic animal. When approached it charged and attacked, and was put down, though it appeared to be quite dangerous and likely to pass its instability onto those attacked.
There appeared to be no sign of the yuan ti.
Inside the temple there was a statue showing a vaati of the haikjadeam caste, the paladins. Other statues were copies in the style. As Wendeam advanced, several horrible wolf-headed and spider-bodies demons, the dreaded spyder-fiends that are the degenerated offspring of the Queen of Chaos and Miska the Wolf Spider, dropped down from hiding in the ceiling. There were several smaller ones—-kaaku and spithraku—-led by a larger one, the dreaded phirasazu, which was festooned with weapons, including a mechanical crossbow and some double sized scimitars.
The always sharp-eyed Zell was the only one not surprised. The spyder-fiends attempted to use their webs to trap the group, but were foiled by good dodging or by Rings of Free Action. Zell, not being able to make use of sneak attack, threw adamantine spheres at one of the lesser fiends, injuring it. The sypder-fiends also began changing blasphemous statements which shifted odds in their favor. In addition, some of them began summoning others of their kind and the greater fiend used Mirror Image on itself and took shots with the crossbow.
Recognizing how great a threat fiend summons were, Andra used fireball, though not to nearly as strong an effect as he’d hoped, as the spyder-fiends proved to be resistant. However, they were not resistant to Wendeam’s spear or Ariel’s fractal blades, and many of the lesser ones were dispatched before they could summon more. Zell picked off some, and van Rijn, using Oil of Impact, enchanted some bullets to attack the greater one. He later used Magic Missile to strip the phirasazu of its images to help his companions attack it. Andra used a Chromatic Orb to attempt to paralyze it, but it resisted.
The phirasazu proved to be a mighty combatant, however, and managed to knock Wendeam down, nearly slaying the vaati. However, Ariel’s fractal blade once again bisected it, sending it back to whence it came.
Rest was in order and the Dimensional Folding was once again employed to return to the elven village, but not before Zell found several more villagers who had been hiding and ascertained that the vaati statue in the temple hid a secret door. After receiving some healing from the grateful villagers and Ariel’s spells, Dimensional Folding was used to return to the temple, making haste in the event that someone else—-Lord Steiner being a prime suspect—-arrived first.
Zell puzzled out the lock and opened the door. All felt that something momentous was about to occur.