Our heroes find themselves back in the Magister’s office, with Cognate waiting for them. He is glad that they succeeded, but dissapointed in the chaos and loss of life they caused the Lemurians. He explains that the people who live inside the portal are the descendants of ancient Lemurians kept hidden there by a powerful wizard as to keep the Lemurian culture alive. This wizard knew that the machine the Lemurians used to weaken the gods would end up destroying the Lemurians. The machine, the same that Coyote wanted the heroes to find, is also connected to an evil demon Thrazidun. Cognate knows that there are three parts to the machine. One is the sphere the group already recovered from the ruins. The second is a crystalline bird. Cognate swears to assist the heroes if they should try to help him destroy the machine. Eager to get the children home, and to get the hell out of these creepy ruins, the party agrees to take Cognate along, if only to stop him from swearing loyalty.
As they emerge from the ruins, Sir Redgar and Iron Hearts greet them. They are impressed by their success and, after the kids throng the heroic Sir Redgar a la Captain Hammer, he offers to put up the Warriors of Wisdom 2.0 in the Iron Heart fortress for the night. Agregar and Alasse are dead set against it, but Redgar manages to guilt trip and corner the group into staying. Magellan the warlock is very happy to see Elmer, who reminds him of his long lost Uncle. Redgar is interested in Cognate, who looks like a statue at first. He convinces Agregar that it is a powerful golem. Agregar slyly orders Cognate to punch Redgar in the face, which he does with great force, impressing the now black-eyed Redgar. Nevertheless, the party is forced to spend an awkward and uncomfortable night in the Iron Heart keep before returning back to the colony to report to Faranir.
After they arrive home, it isn’t long before the party begins to go on the lookout for the crystal bird. They catch wind that the infamous slave trader Axgor has put a bounty of 50000 gold pieces on the bird, even hiring a seer to divine the location of the bird. Redgar himself and his Iron Hearts has taken up the gambit, and has begun to search where the seer has instructed them. Frustrated, the group returns to the shantytown to uncover where the Iron Hearts headed off to. After asking numerous adventurers, all armed with 10 foot poles, mind you, and the prospector who’s business is now booming thanks to the ten foot poles, the party decides to take a break in the inn. The innkeeper, and his nosey wife, immediately forfeit that the Iron Hearts headed into the ruin, but are split on whether the Warriors of Wisdom should follow them or seek out the seer. Rol’in opts for the direct approach, whereas Alasse trusts the innkeeper’s wife’s instincts. In the end, they head directly into the colony, following a trail that is all too clear.
Deep in the caverns, the group has opened many doors from good distance, kept sharp eyes for tripwires, and Agregar has been holding a lantern for a long time. Finally, they come to a large open chamber, filled with treasure. Rol’in begins carefully eyeing treasure away behind one of the pillars. Agregar moves forward, not noticing that the great black shadow ahead of him doesn’t fade away with his lantern’s light. He stumbles on something and falls atop a large object, cold to the touch, but pulsing with the obvious feel of a heartbeat. The lantern flies through the air and hits something with a crash, extinguishing the flame. In the darkness echoes a startled roar. Rol’in ducks to the ground, drawing his bow. Alasse summons Laird, her beark companion, and Elmer lights up the room with his cantrips. Immediately visible is a great black dragon, the evilest of the chromatic dragons. Agregar wastes no time and cuts into the beast, roaring back and gaining the attention of the dragon, as if he hadn’t already. The dragon misses with a great bite as his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, but a glob of acid burns Agregar, who recoils by breathing fire into the dragon’s open maw. Rol’in releases a powerful shot that hits the dragon in the throat, but not enough to do serious damage. Alasse sends in Laird while Elmer fires his pillar of flame, igniting the dragon once more.
The fight rages on, Elmer casting spells, and pushing the dragon away from Agregar, who keeps on swinging at the beast. Rol’in fires shots into the wounds cut open by the claws of Laird. Alasse tosses Agregar a healing acorn which keeps the effects of the acid to a minimum. Rol’in sneaks behind the dragon and stabs it. Agregar blinds the dragon with holy radiance, only to have it snap its teeth at him on instinct. Agregar’s sword is now cutting deep into the dragon’s hide, spurting acidic blood at him. He steps back, and the dragon crushes Laird underfoot as he recoils from the sword. Alasse, furious, charges forward, leaping into the air with her staff above her head. The dragon twists its head and prepares to spurt acid at his flying target, but Elmer casts a powerful shock spell that knocks the dragon off balance for only a moment, stunning it with immense electrical force just long enough for Alasse to release a heavy blow from her staff that crushes the dragon’s skull. The energy she exerts into the head of the dragon allows her to flip over the corpse and land on her feet. But as the dragon’s head crashes into the stone floor, a fang, covered in acidic blood breaks from the jaw of the beast and flys outward towards Alasse. Agregar leaps ahead of the fang and takes it in the chest, in an amazing show of reflex, if nothing else, as he can’t normally tell if he’s above ground or not.
Despite their victory over the dragon, Rol’in can tell something is amiss. There is no way the Iron Hearts came by this passage without getting destroyed by the dragon or killing it. He surmises that they must have left a false trail as to throw off anyone who would come looking for them. This can mean only that the Iron Hearts aren’t as friendly as they seem. Or that they’re just good at faking trails. Either way, I guess.