But the characters still wanted to explore the rest of Storamere’s lair. After a good long rest, they again went deep underground (with Zophas’ new wizard cohort Ephendus Thal) to the strange ethereal island-palace. There they encountered one of Storamere’s bizarre progeny, a half-dragon/half-umber hulk named Udalaag. Rather than fight the pitiful creature (who had been persecuted by its half-siblings for hundreds of years due to its slow-wittedness), they befriended it, particularly Sister Mara. After much coaxing, Mara even convinced Ephendus to lend Udalaag his headband of intellect so that they could more thoroughly question him.

They also found an intelligent elvish dagger named Shayla. Shayla claimed to have been made by the wizard-priests of Ni-Gorth almost 16,000 years earlier. These wizard-priests were the very same ones who helped create the “Jewels of Parnaith,” which some of the group had heard about earlier from an intelligent magical pool in the Necropolis abode of Alchestrin. They had learned the Jewels were vital in their quest to stop the rise of chaos and the Galchutt’s return.

Now, however, Shayla told them that the Jewels were not objects, but places. Specifically, they were ethereal islands that could be reached by “colordoors” and the use of a magic item called the illitor. Eventually, they found the strange illitor in the dragon’s palace (a ring, a bracer, and a belt made of bronze, all connected by a bronze chain) and decided to return to the surface to learn more about all of this.

On their way back up, shadowdancers and shadowmages in the employ of House Sadar, one of the noble houses in Ptolus, ambushed them. The servants of Sadar demanded from Serai the key to the box of shadows, the very object that started the whole quest. After a bitter fight, the characters escaped—but now they realized they were hunted by one of the most powerful forces in the city. They knew they needed to find that box—and quickly!

Next: The Box of Shadows, Part 2!