The following morning after the Busters’ initial excursion into the fallen temple, the team awoke to find that Elminster had departed with his compatriots to inform the Veritas Council of the intel that had been gathered the previous day. Taking the morning to prepare themselves and to allow Iseri to repair Bugsy the clockwork spy, the team made ready to move into the lower deeps of the temple grounds. Coming back to the bridge way, the group found the pass still secure and open from their previous visit. The area beyond the pass was filled with a thick, almost tangible darkness. Deciding to risk the unknown, Iseri rallied her comrades and led them through the pass. Moving through the dark left the team with a sensation akin to moving through gelatin, but their hardy constitutions were able to withstand the disorientation and avoid any nausea.
The group found themselves in a central hall linked to a series of passages that each had the color of one of the major elements. The walls were carved with demons and elemental monsters and each led to a massive set of doors. Taking the time to explore led to a confrontation with a lonely Hezrou and a band of mutated sleeping trolls. Traps were in fine supply as well. Halls lined with poisoned spears, rooms with falling ceilings and floors that dropped into bottomless pits! Iseri managed to clear the halls and Kiba through ingenuity and a clear head avoided having his body ground to pulp. The group found that many side rooms along the main halls contained vast murals and mosaics that detailed the glories and victories of the temple of Tharizdun during the height of their ancient power. Wars against the elves and druids, the barbarian tribes of the far North and even the military might of Cormyr. Each room also contained carefully hidden switches that led to hidden repositories of ancient treasures from pillage and battle. Kiba found another Efficient Quiver, this one filled with Slaying Arrows for humans, Chaotic Outsiders and Fey creatures. In addition, a magical golden bowstring was used by the Ranger to provide his already powerful bow with even further accuracy to aid him in his archer’s pursuits. Iseri was sucked through a portal of darkness into the secret treasury, filling her bags to the brim with lucre for her future crafting endeavors, though the group wanted a few gems for their severance pay. Gargantuon was pleased to come into possession of an ancient double bladed axe etched with demons on the blades and a strong aura of necromancy, though it meant parting with his beloved Eliminator. The last storage area contained a footlocker containing about 10 lbs of unworked Solarite ore, a rare but prized mineral to the temple of Lathander. Seeing that it was too heavy and volatile to haul around, the group decided they would need to come back at a later time to retrieve it and decided to focus on the double doors at the end of each hall.
The western way brought the group into a large open chamber inhabited by a murder of Vrocks! These demonspawned vultures proved to be no match for Kiba’s slaying arrows and Elsbeth’s mind affecting spells. The north room was populated with a troupe of salamanders, but Elsbeth’s ice magic and the might of Sprocket the construct and Dave the Serpent of Steel were able to quench their wrath. The eastern hall contained a seashore guarded by a coiling sea serpent that managed to catch Elsbeth in its awesome jaws after she tried to bathe it in flames, though Gargatuon’s axe was able to send the beast back to the briny depths. Finally, the south room contained a vast cavern inhabited by a creature both amphibian and tentacled horror! Iseri was the lady of the hour in this chamber going airborne and then blasting the creature with a fearsome Disintegration spell that blew off a portion of the creature’s mass and exposed a fair number of its disgusting organs! Finishing the creature off proved simple after such a massive attack. The group was then brought back to the central hall, where a new portal awaited them leading into yet more unknown territory. Steeling themselves, the Dragonbusters moved into the light.
The portal led to the innermost chamber of the old Temple. There the team was greeted by a lone man in the robes of a high priest of Tharizdun. He claimed to know Iseri from a previous encounter, though he was a mystery to the elf. Dislocating his hands at the wrists and shedding his human form revealed the man as Salakh the Rakshasa of Calimport!! He revealed that he had been the one responsible for the latest incarnation of the Temple and that he had supplied the latest leader with the Orb of Golden Death to inspire followers to the call of the Elemental Eye! A new temple was finishing construction and soon plans would be set into motion to begin Tharizdun’s transition to the mortal realm, though the Rakshasa indicated that this was only a cursory portion of his true plan and with that began yet another terrifying transformation…..
Massive wings ripped free from his back and from the rest of the body was torn to shreds as a hulking form revealing itself as a Balor Lord revealed himself to the heroes!! He identified himself as Halfeshnegor the Dread, high captain of the armies of Tharizdun and the consort of the demon lady Zuggtmoy, servant of Lolth. With his lady’s favor, the balor led many successful battles against the free realms of Faerun. Their pairing was sundered at the destruction of the original temple, when a band of heroes managed to kill Zuggtmoy’s mortal body and banishing her essence into the depths of the Abyss. Halfeshnegor escaped the temple’s defeat and spent hundreds of years seeking a way to restore his demonic love, a goal at last within sight as he planned to beg Zuggtmoy’s resurrection as a boon from Tharizdun for bringing the god onto the mortal plane. The demon concluded this lengthy bit of monologue with a challenge to the Dragonbusters to come and face him at the new temple when the time came for the final ceremonies and the advent of Tharizdun and teleported the adventurers back to the surface. The group ended up outside the temple grounds and fortunately for Elsbeth, the demon included her Solarite, saying that the mineral caused him irritation and he felt no use for it.
The group reconvened in Sandpoint a few days later and shared their adventures with Elminster once again. The mighty wizard grew pale at the mention of the balor lord and explained that Halfeshnegor was one of his earliest and most powerful opponents, not someone that he had ever thought or wanted to face again!! Still, the sage was pleased with the group’s progress and said he would look into finding the new temple of Tharizdun. After his departure the busters took a 2 week rest while the temple of Lathander borrowed Elsbeth’s morningstar and solarite ore for a commission from Craftholme. The time passed and soon the final product had been wrought: The Disruptor had been reconstructed and infused with Solarite to forge a weapon of the most potent kind against the legions of the night! Elsbeth accepted it gratefully, eager to test it against her mortal foes! Growing bored by this time, the group decided to follow up on the news of Zephus’ disappearance from Westgate prison and using a coin from the Paladin’s purse, set off to Raven’s Watch to locate the wandering knight.