Last week on the Tuesday game...
The next cavern that awaited the adventurers featured a strangely-glowing pond and what appeared to be a small glowing mushroom thicket. Lured by the ornate shield and sword that a skeletal corpse in the mushroom thicket appears to be carrying, Taman convinces Gabriel to venture in to retrieve it. This he does with no problem, but finds himself strangely unable to leave the thicket no matter how hard he tries.
After trying several different things, Alistair decides to Firebolt the spores in the air. This causes a large explosion that knocks Gabriel away from the mushrooms, but also knocks the sword and shield back into the thicket. This time, Taman himself tries to grab the sword and shield, but to no avail: he finds himself stuck in the thicket again, and Alistair is forced to cause yet another fiery explosion to knock him away from the mushrooms.
When Delwynn inspects the pool, he realises two things: that there's a mysterious object at the bottom of the pool that may be responsible for the glow, and that the glow pulses, each time taking about two whole minutes to completely brighten and darken. Taman drinks from the pool and, although the water is mildly electrifying, he feels no better or worse after drinking from the pool.
At Alistair's urging, the party decide to not further dally and continue to give chase. They eventually arrive in what appears to be a library of some sort... although the iron golem in middle of the room, along with the pulped remains of a cultist in the corner, seem to give lie to the notion that this is an ordinary library. The iron golem appears to be slightly malfunctioning, but when the party walk past it, it slowly spins to life.
In his haste to get away from the golem, Gabriel triggers a trap; and, as the rest of the party watch in horror, an invisible force emerges from the opposite wall and pins the cleric to the bookshelves, right above the remains of the aforementioned cultist. Now fully awake, the golem makes a beeline for the pinned Gabriel, its intentions fairly obvious even to the thickest of the party.
After a painful battle that sees most of the party blow what remain of their magical abilities, the party manage to not only disable the golem but also extract Gabriel from the wall. Unfortunately, with half of the party being heavily armoured, the trap gets both Taman and Gabriel again, causing yet more damage. Alistair belatedly remembers that he can cast Tenser's Floating Disc and does so, and the rest of the party levitate over the trap's trigger plates.
A few tunnel passages later, and they eventually come before a large chamber whose corridor is lined with the corpses of most of the cultists. Alistair hears low ominous chanting from within and, feeling the buildup of magical pressure around the place, urges the rest of the party to take a short rest before rushing into whatever is inside. They do so, and an hour later they return to the chamber, where the chanting is still going on.
Arming themselves, they rush into the chamber and see the lead cultist from before holding Alatar's Sceptre - formerly belonging to Alistair - and standing above what appears to be a massive sarcophagus. On a nearby ledge, four sigils were etched into the ground, and from those sigils the cultist appears to be capable of summoning ghosts to do his bidding.
As Alistair and Gabriel kept the lead cultist distracted with Firebolts and Sacred Flames, Delwynn and Taman charge the ghosts. It takes a while, but Delwynn eventually manages to erase all four sigils: an act which appears to have catastrophic results for the cultist. Screaming in horror as the magical feedback from the sigils interferes with his ritual, he is lifted up into the air by the powerful magical currents in the room and, before the party's very eyes, crushed into a pulp.
Before the party could cheer the defeat of their foe, however, the levitating gore begins to warp... and slowly but surely, a familiar form begins to form out of the viscera: the spidery drider-like form of Ashotel, the demon supposedly imprisoned within the city of Amarath. Plucking his sceptre from out of the air and stretching it so that it becomes a wand, the massive demon - now towering above even the massive sacrophagus in the room - continues absorbing organic matter from all around as he grows yet larger and more solid.
While Taman rushes to the door and slams it shut, preventing more gore from the corridor from entering the room, Alistair and Gabriel try their best to hurt the creature with their cantrips, but to little effect. Delwynn leaps onto the creature's back and tries to punch the demon's exposed heart with a Stunning Strike, but to no avail: despite still being incomplete, it had already gathered enough mass to allow it to shrug off the monk's punches.
Desperate, Alistair leaps onto the sarcophagus (his old bones only allowing him to succeed on his second try) and reads the Teneran inscription carved into the lid. "This," it reads, "is the phylactery of the Black Dragon of Amarath, Woe betide him who stands in the way of His return." Reading the words hurt his head and stings the edges of his soul, but it does not help. From his position on top of the stone platform, however, Alistair spots something that might help: the scroll that the chief cultist was reading from.
Leaping back down and grabbing it, Alistair realises that the cultist was trying to bind the magic of the phylactery to himself and, to the wizard's surprise, was actually on the verge of succeeding: the ritual was nearly complete, and although the cultist was now dead, the spell still hung in the air, writhing and electric like a living thing. Watching his allies being smashed into a bloodied pulp by Ashotel, Alistair decides to throw caution to the wind and complete the ritual.
Time slows down, and in a sudden moment of clarity, Alistair sees the Pattern underlying all things. Just as a butterfly can flutter its wings and cause a storm, or how a pebble can tumble and causes an avalanche, all great things start from tiny things; and now, in this infinite, infinitesimal moment between two heartbeats stretched out into all of eternity, he is that butterfly, that pebble, that tiny thing standing thing atop a great thing waiting to happen.
Stretching out his arm and pointing at Ashotel, Alistair speaks words that drain colour and life out of the universe as they leave his lips. Confused, the demon turns to stare at the wizard... and its half-formed eyes widen in horror as all the magical energy of the room suddenly begins pressing down upon it. Screaming incomprehensible Abyssal at Alistair, the demon's form begins to buckle and warp as the magic of the Imprisonment spell takes a hold of it, forcing it ever smaller and smaller and smaller until - as if its presence in the world was nothing more than a trick of the light - all that is left of the great Ashotel is a tiny obsidian spider, clutching a fist-sized emerald atop a smoking quaterstaff.