3rd Quintilis (contd.)
After studying the three tunnels leading out from the mine entrance, the PCs take the third passage which shows signs of recent use. Caverns the party pass through show signs of recent mining activity, though on a much smaller scale that the dwarves' operations of old. Here and there, dwarf skeletons are strewn across the rocky ground, rusted weapons lying nearby. The dwarves of Karak appear to have slain each other in the end. Many of these skeletons are missing their skulls.
The PCs come to a vast cavern with a vein of strange red-glowing stone running across the floor of the chamber. Hrothgar leaps over the vein so he can see further into the room. As the others advance, two undead dwarf mines stagger to their feet to attack, joined by a swarm of tomb spiders. Shortly after that, a barlgura demon appears and two crag drakes burst from beneath the stone floor to ambush the party who find themselves surrounded.
It's a long, tough fight with Juma and Hrothgar facing the spiders, one miner and one crag drake, while the remaining monsters attack the three PCs on the other side of the glowing red seam. The barlgura and miners try to stand on the vein of stone whenever they can as this gives them increased power. Both the miners and the spiders have attacks that can immobilise the party, making it hard for them to move around. Juma Ji'ad employs his mighty dwarf wall of fire while Hrothgar manages to strike his crag drake even after its melded into the floor. Sora makes the first kill - one of the miners - as Ulthar uses his cloak of the shadowform to go insubstantial and keep the barlgura occupied. Juma teleports around but runs into trouble after the demon is bloodied. The genasi had been laughing at the barlgura's unimpressive attacks but the smile is wiped off his face when the demon reduces him to 3 hp with a double attack.
Finally, Ulthar kills the barlgura and the battle is over. One of the crag drakes is still lurking around somewhere so the PCs keep their eyes open while Ulthar heals the party. With Hrothgar and Sora down to just two healing surges, the PCs continue on.
Ahead is a circular cavern with a wide crevice that pulses with a lurid red glow blocking the way forward. Two four-armed mezzodemons stand on the far side. Behind them is Queen Shephatiah, a naga, coiled on a bed of hundreds of dwarven skulls.
Gil is first to act, casting his new phantasmal killer spell at the Queen. Unfortunately it doesn't do much. Hrothgar leaps the rifts but gets skewered by the mezzodemon's trident before he can get up close and personal with his greataxe. The naga blasts the PCs with thunderstrike, dazing Ulthar who fails three successive saving throws to shake off the effect. Gil stands too close to the rift and also gets impaled by a mezzodemon's trident. Just when things can't get any worse, two firelasher elementals appear from the rift and nearly knock Gil, Sora and Juma into it! Luckily, all three PCs manage to stop themselves falling in.
The PCs all get themselves over to the other side of the rift. By this stage Sora is down to no surges and Hrothgar runs out soon afterwards. Gil is teleporting back and forth, still on his hands and knees. He doesn't get up, and spends the rest of the battle crawling around, pinging opponents with magic missile (all he has left). Ulthar kills the first mezzodemon. Sora uses knightly intercession to put herself in the way of the firelasher attacking the wizard, then kills with a commander's strike from Ulthar.
While the other PCs battle the surviving mezzodemon, Juma Ji'ad bravely takes on the Queen single-handed. Unfortunately, she appears resistant to his dwarf wall of fire and blasts him with two words of pain for 50 hp damage for presuming to attack her. Gil's magic missile finishes off the demon, freeing Hrothgar up to join the genasi. The naga uses her tail slap to push the gnoll back but he charges in. Eventually a commander's strike from Ulthar allows the barbarian to finish her off.
Exhausted and down to at-will powers, the PCs are nonetheless well enough to look for treasure, finding gold and three unusual items - a primordial ring, an elixir of flying and a treeform box. Several pieces of parchment reveal that the Queen had reopened the mines under orders from the Bey of the Amethyst Labyrinth.
The party take a well-earned rest.
A thorough examination of the remaining tunnels and caverns reveals nothing further of interest.