Under 90 feet of water, surrounded by inert clockwork soldiers, in the palace of a dead king, the odd stare-off continued. Aulthunn stared at Zelcor. Helanda stared at Aulthunn. Scratchy moved into a flanking position, and Milacent stared back at Aulthunn, though no one could tell because she was wearing the nightgaunt mask. Aulthunn regarded the increasingly hostile party moving into a circle around her, and quickly realized the jig was up. “Very well,” she sighed, and wispy tendrils of arcane energy extended out toward the Zelcor.
She was trying to take control of the gnome’s mind, calculating that if she controlled him she would also have use of the iron golem that he commanded. It was a strong opening gambit, except that the party had had quite enough of its members being turned against them, and were now powerful enough that they could do something about it. That morning they had cast Mind Blank on each of their members, hiding their minds from the intrusion of enemy magics. The tendrils of energy tried to wrap around Zelcor’s mind, but found nothing instead.
The spellcasting was the signal for the fighting to begin, and begin it did. Helanda and Milacent pounced on the new enemy, while Zelcor, Scratchy and Theodora attacked from afar. Aulthunn let out a piercing shriek, then changed into her true form: that of an aboleth, the mistress of the two the party had encountered outside.
The battle was violent but swift. Robbed of her ability to control others’ minds, the aboleth was outnumbered and surrounded, and quickly succumbed to the party’s blows. Its last action was to try to teleport away, but the magic of the palace’s walls prevented it from escaping, and it died cursing both the party and the dead king Xin.
With the death of Aulthunn (or whatever her real name was) the party was free to explore the rest of the flooded level. Moving cautiously, wary of traps, they found a trio of clockwork golems in another construction chamber, but little else of interest. And with that, it was time to return to the room up above with the teleporter, the one they had avoided before. The sihedron rune was still there, shimmering with magic. They knew from the previous vision that touching a tine of the sihedron to the appropriate arm of the rune would teleport them all, presumably to one of the vaults they had seen being constructed. Theodora stood before the rune, contemplating the danger that no doubt awaited on the other side of the teleportation. There was no more putting it off, however; it was time to see what Xin had in store.