The party begins by trying to identify the potions they claimed from the town. Agiz is able to tell them, and after getting rid of two rohipviagrahols, they pocket the rest. The ziggurat stands before them, massive — at least 750 feet wide. The party enters a large open space. A copper statue of a stern looking man, old beyond his years, dominates the area. A plaque bears the name of the artisan as well as its subject: .Kalid-ma.
Agiz and Riska find a strange door with no visible means of opening. Neither Kayl nor Iora can identify it, although Iora is pretty sure it has some sort of summoning magic attached. Riska is able to peer through the doors, seeing some sort of lift with dead zombies behind it. She also picks the locks to the north and east, finding only more strange locked doors — and, to the north, a horde of zombies.
Agiz and Iora make short work of the zombies and the party sets up another flight of stairs, this one in an extremely wide hall with ornate carvings, where they encounter yet another closed magical door. Having had enough of this, Kayl decides to use the master key to open it. As soon as he strikes, the door grows eyes, fists, and a mouth. Thanks largely to Trapspringer and Kayl, the door is eventually defeated, dissipating to reveal three guards. The party makes short work of these three, binding the surviving guard.
A frustrated Riska lunges for the bound guard and starts torturing him in an attempt to learn where Kalid-ma might be — not to mention the location of the orb. Agiz breaks in with a particularly well timed bluff, convincing the guard that he too worships Kalid-ma. At Riska’s request, Agiz attacks her and claims to lead the party in service of Kalid-ma. The guard buys the story and agrees to lead them safely to his superiors.
They reach the roof the ziggurat, a lush, beautiful garden with a domed roof, a pair of babbling brooks, and a stairwell across the way. The roof is decorated with flying creatures, and about 180 feet up is a glowing orb that — although they can’t be sure — looks very familiar. Agiz fails to bluff the guard into stopping, and Riska runs him through.
Agiz casts fly on Riska, who drifts to the ceiling, works the orb loose, and carefully drops it into Iora’s bag of holding. Instantly, the natural world begins to shrivel and die, and the sigil ofAhm Helmok burns her hand. As Riska reaches the ground, a portal erupts behind her. Correctly assuming this to be their way home, the party jumps through and finds themselves once more in the temple of Ahm Helmok, who is waiting to reclaim the nature orb.
Once he smashes the orb, it flows into him and the Marlin/Ahm Helmok combo starts to look a bit more human. Ahm Helmok needs a night of meditation to prepare, so the party camps outside to recover. Upon their return, Ahm Helmok opens a new portal. Riska hopefully theorizes that he must be too tired to allow Marlin to rematerialize, but Ahm Helmok promptly dashes that hope by allowing Marlin to bleed through. Disgusted, Riska nonetheless jumps in and tells Marlin that she sold off everything in the house and pretty much trashed their reputations in Opara, primarily in the hopes of finding him. Marlin doesn’t believe her motivation at first, but eventually thanks her. Riska, flustered and also desperate to prevent Kayl from talking to her foster father, pushes everyone through the portal, offers Marlin a quick hug, and follows.
The party finds themselves in yet another temple of Ahm Helmok. When they try to step outside, alarms shatter the silence as they find themselves in a large metal building. A crew of armored halflings with strange weapons opens fire, knocking EBK (everyone but Kayl) — and then Kayl — into unconsciousness.
The party reawakens in some sort of cell, segregated by a shimmery purple wall. Across the hall is another cell, holdingSimkin, his raven, Chhakuk (minus an eye), Iora (remarkably unchanged), Kayl (minus an arm), and Reece. As the party staggers to the divider, they hear a smattering of conversation from the halfling guards: “So, another group came through, did they?” The two battered groups stare at one another in bewilderment…