With the succubus fleeing as far as she could, the party was left with needing to be especially cautious as they pushed on through the level. The library was fascinating to Remnus as it contained a multitude of tomes, mostly of arcane necromancy. A few scrolls, and a blessed book were icing on the cake for the party. Even more conveniently, they found a small tome with all the Emerald Spire sigils they had found up to this point… including two they haven’t yet found. A potentially useful find to be sure. While the party could spent a fair bit of time browsing the tomes, they quickly moved on to the next room which looked to be a small divination sanctum. Unfortunately, it was housed by a strange phoenix-like creature who greeted them very rudely. Apparently interested in Nhur Athemon’s experiments with life, the planar being was staying here and assisting the lich. There was a moment where the party was ready to leave her alone until Invidia decided that this minion of Nhur Athemon likely deserved a good killing as much as all his other minions. and it was killed… quickly.
The room the Jyoti occupied proved to be much more interesting than the conversation though, as a little experimenting with it soon revealed that one could view any part of the river kingdoms merely by closing one’s eyes and thinking of a spot. While a person could easily spend hours here gazing upon the happenings of the outside world (which indeed it seemed like the Jyoti was doing), Avarita was quick to remind the group that the lich knew they were coming and that they shouldn’t dawdle.
The team quickly unlocked the next room with the key they fetched off of Lady Estrekan. Knowing that Nhur Athemon’s traitorous apprentices were in there, the party burst down the door and prepared for a fight. Though the crystalline magicians had some tricks up their sleeves, Quesh entirely eliminated their ability to use their most crippling spells and when they gazed at the skulls Remnus had been given, they were shocked out of their ability to summon support and were quickly felled.
Avarita scouted the next door as usual and spied some curious green, crystal mirrors in the next room. Assuming it would be some sort of puzzle, she entered the room casually… only to come face to face with the lich Nhur Athemon. His horrible visage was frightening but the party decided this was a day they weren’t going to let supernatural fear effects make them turn away. The lich gloated that the party had arrived just in time for his hour of triumph. Though it was a tad cryptic, Remnus didn’t give a damn what his hour meant and quickly asked if he could compare notes on necromancy with the lich. Nhur Athemon seemed to be well aware of Remnus’ desire, suggesting a level of information on the party that was a bit uncomfortable, and arrogantly declared that the cleric would have the honor of being taken alive… unlike the rest of his party.
That didn’t sit well with anyone.
Regardless, the lich quickly showed how little he cared for the party’s wrath and summoned up a small squad of crystalline soldiers. When the party assaulted him and soldiers they quickly found the lich to be surrounded by a wall of pure force that was impenetrable by spell or sword. While the team tried to figure out a way around the barrier, Nhur proved that there were PLENTY more of these crystalline soldiers they’d have to deal with… things were looking a little dire. But the party’s unparalleled knowledge of arcane spells and Avarita’s ability to cast Dimension Door quickly proved to be a saving grace as the party’s whirling blender of death, Invidia was ported to the lich’s side with her sister and Remnus, leaving Quesh and Chaaz to bravely fight off easily a dozen of the crystalline soldiers. Though the lich was certain his mere touch would paralyze the heroes, luck and timely dodging allowed them to evade his devastating powers and Remnus gave him a rather harsh reminder that he was still, technically an undead with an immensely powerful Heal spell. Indivia quickly made sure Nhur Athemon was reduced to dust and the party mopped up the crystal soldiers with only a few injuries to go around.
It would seem the scourge of the Crowned Skull has come to an end. Next week the party will finish up on this level and maybe find out a way to destroy the lich’s phylactery so that they don’t have to repeat this fight in 1d10 days.