Upon entering the strange marble door and closing the pursuing drow out, the Dragonbusters collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. Several hours later, 3 of them awoke. Gargantuon was so tired from being angry all day he required a few extra hours sleep. The others quietly moved into the next room to explore.
The next chamber initially seemed quite ordinary, until the group noticed a plaque on the wall. It showed four crude drawings, and below that a riddle. Upon solving the riddle, two panels slid over the pictures, revealing a clue: “To succeed, you must survive. To excel, combine the powers!” The Busters immediately connected this to the four switches on each wall. Zephus, carefully examining the room, found another switch on the ceiling. Each Buster stationed themselves by a different switch (including Dave) and Kiba dexterously used a lasso to pull the ceiling switch. With the switches combined, they had summoned Planet Golem! His mission: destroy trash! Perhaps if they had taken the time to examine the switches, they would have seen that each was labeled one of: earth, fire, wind, water, and heart.
In the next room, there was just that: loads upon loads of trash! As the group began to examine the refuse, several odd forms emerged: trash golems! At this, the Planet Golem from the previous room charged in, ready to battle his nemesis. Despite finding a new least favorite status ailment in ‘Trash Golem Stank’ that could nauseate nearby allies, the Dragonbusters compacted the golems with ease (with a little help from Planet). The riddle clue this time told them that ‘All that is gold does not glitter’. This led them to search the trash piles, discovering a chest and two parts of a key. In the chest was a Ring of Fire Resistance, a pair of Boots of the North, a pair of Boots of Striding and Springing, an amulet of Natural Armor, a Cloak of Resistance, and a rare Pink and Green Ioun Stone! . Using their ingenuity and dexterity, the Busters were able to reassemble the broken key and move on. Favorite quote from this room: “You really expected to find a whole key in a room made of trash?”.
The next room was even stranger than the previous two. It contained several shelves of books, and two beautifully carven columns flanked the exit door. These were no ordinary columns though: they were riddle columns! They challenged the party to identify the name of the dwarven hero pictured on a bas relief above the door in order to proceed, and a boon if they could also name his weapon. It was at this time that Gargantuon finally awoke and caught up with the others. They combined Zephus’ knowledge of various religions, Elsbeth’s disarming charisma, Gargantuon’s weapon rafting skill, and Kiba’s extensive lore of the leaf worm to correctly identify the dwarf as one Orndt the Drunken and his mighty hammer, Goblinplopper! The columns were so impressed that they not only allowed the group to continue but summoned a chest that contained a valuable Bag of Holding! And also an Efficient Quiver, a Pearl of Power, and a magnificent set of magical Hodag Fangs.
The next room was comparably small, only enough room for the adventurers to stand in with Dave curled around their legs. One final riddle plaque awaited them, this one revealing that ‘Each of you has a strength. Use it!’ Then they pulled the switch, and they all vanished.
Each member of the party reappeared in a separate room. Each room was entirely different except for a switch, ear and mouth mounted on the wall near their entrance and a teleportation circle beneath their feet.
Gargantuon ended up in a room with only a wooden wall at one end. Summoning up his considerable half-orcish strength, he rammed the center of the wall with his shoulder. The wood splintered asunder, but behind it was a solid stone wall! He grunted away the pain and decided to simply punch the left handed wall section. This one also shattered, but revealed another passageway! Here there was another set of switch, ear and mouth. He threw the switch, and a friendly voice called out, ‘Congratulations, you have won.” But nothing else happened.
Kiba found himself in a room with three identical people in it. After talking to them he found out the man on the left was named Bob, the man in the center was named Joe, and the man on the right Elminster. After getting over the fact that anyone could be named Elminster and not be an old and stupidly powerful magician, Kiba realized learned that Joe’s real name was Steve, and named him a liar. That was apparently enough to satisfy the challenge, and a strange voice rang out saying as much.
Elsbeth and Zephus had a little trouble settling on a challenge room. Zephus initially started in what appeared to be someone’s bedroom, because a man was sleeping in a bed nearby. Deciding to wake the man up to talk, Zephus found that not all sleeping people are conversational! A voice from nowhere informed him that his challenge had been failed, and he found himself back in the starting room. A second attempt had him discovering a key in the chair cushion, which unlocked a large door in the back of the room. The door was squeaky however, and, not having any oil, Zephus attempted to open it just wide enough to squeeze through. Full Plate does not allow easy squeezing, however, and having become stuck in the door, Zephus was left with a no win scenario. He tried to unjam himself but in doing so awakened the sleeper, and went back to the starting room. Sighing in exasperation, he tried again, this time arriving in a long narrow room bifurcated by a wall and shortened by a deep pit. At the far end were two targets, one being in view and the other hidden by the wall. He took out his bow, shot one target, sidestepped, and shot the other. Finally, he had won!Elsbeth, on the other hand, appeared in a long hallway, completely dark. She promptly cast Daylight, letting her see her surroundings, and also causing a strange vine in the corner to grow. Elsbeth, having none of that, threw the switch and returned to the starting room. Afterwards she made several attempts at a strange garden-like room with trees and squirrels, but not being able to make heads nor tails of it, she eventually settled on trying the sleeping man encounter. Ingeniously using some lantern oil to silence the squeaky door, the cleric entered into an office. Behind the wall painting she found a safe, and pieced together the combination from clues strewn about the room. Opening it while nimbly dodging the dart trap, she found the exit switch.
Now that all the Dragonbusters had successfully completed their challenges, they appeared together in a large, dark chamber. Gargantuon scouted ahead with his superior night vision, spying a huge sleeping form on the raised third of the chamber. A light spell revealed this form to be a beautiful Gold Dragon! While normally friendly, this dragon was guarding a recently laid egg, and questioned the Busters as to their purpose. They explained about the massacre at the research facility, and that drow had been behind it, when the dark elves themselves appeared! Apparently in closing the giant marble door, they had neglected to lock it! And now they had led the fiends straight to their prize!
The leader of the drow, a female wizard, thanked the party for clearing the way for her. She laughed yet again, and mentioned that she might perhaps let the party have the gold dragon’s tears, which would dispel the barrier to Black Fang’s lair, if they did not interfere. She then offered them a choice: let her have the dragon or die. The heroes chose a third option: fight. Battle was joined!
The Gold Dragon, Ansafarilonyxia, could not help the Busters much as she had to protect her egg. However she did manage to cast a protective spell on them. This was not enough, unfortunately, to protect the valiant Dave from the evil Drow Wizard leader’s Cloudkill spell! He fell beside his master, Kiba, who vowed revenge! Zephus and Gargantuon charged into the fray, with wildly differing results. Zephus met a well-timed Ray of Exhaustion, which, while he was able to shrug off the worst of the effect, still hampered his movements greatly. Gargantuon reached the enemy with his superior speed, and nearly dropped a puny drow elf with one attack. Elsbeth rained holy fire down upon the vile drow.
Revenge, however, was not so easily achieved. Drow crossbows twanged as they shot at the dragon, most bouncing off the fine gilded scales, but one found its mark. The poisoned dart instantly began pumping an unknown substance into the creature, causing it to spasm in pain and begin to lost control of its actions. The drow wizard leader threw up a wall of force, saying that time was now on her side, giving the party a welcome respite. Gargantuon finished off a few of the unfortunate stragglers, while Elsbeth attempted to revive Dave. The Dragon, though, did not have much time. She roared out that she had strength enough to teleport them to safety, if they would only take her egg with them. With hearts of gold themselves, the Busters agreed. Stowing the egg safely in their bag of holding, they accepted the dragon’s spell and were whisked away back to the forest ruins. Two tears had Ansafarilonyxia shed in the last moment before the party vanished, and the quick hands of Kiba and Elsbeth managed to collect them in an empty potion bottle and an empty beer bottle, respectively.
They all took slow, deep breaths and tried to calm down. So many questions rattled their brains: Who was the mysterious drow wizard? What was she after? What had been the Gold Dragon’s fate? Would Elsbeth ever acquire the full ingredients for her Dragon ale? Having no answers, the party started the long trip back to Sandpoint to rest and regroup.