The party was discussing whether to look further into Paldemar, who had broken into Valthrun’s tower, or create a public service announcement about the joy of moat digging, while sitting on the sun deck of the pyramid. They were interrupted by the sound of prunes smashing against the side. A small mob had formed and were shouting at the party. A spokesman came forward and called for and end to city protection for the corrupt prune empire. Dreadbeard tried to calm the people down, but was unsuccessful. Gin decided to face the allocations of the mob. The spokesman claimed a witness had sen them burn the Nentir Inn down, leaving the bartender to die inside. Gin began to talk around the issue, pointing at the cult and demanding to know who the witness was. Alexandra Thwipwick, stepped forward. Gin asked if they can talk privately and she consented. He took her inside to the second floor of the pyramid where the beginnings of a prune bar were forming. There they talked over prune juice:
Alexandra: “What were you doing there?”
Gin: “We had evidence that a cult of Zehir was operating out of that inn. When we went there we found a yuan-ti had been mind controlling others into working for him.”
Alexandra: “Who started the fire?”
Gin: “How do you feel about dad?”
Alexandra: “Terrible, he tried to further your prune business with criminal activities… you’re becoming him!”
Gin: “… Come with us, help me find the right path!”
Alexandra: “Really? You want help changing?”
Gin: “For you, sis, anything.”
Alexandra told the crowd that Gin had seen the error of his ways and asked her to help him find his way back to his moral compass. The crowd slowly dispersed.
The assistant to the Seneschal approached to let Dreadbeard know that a magical message awaited him in the keep. When they got there, Orontor explained that the eldritch machine they had found in the tower of Vecna had been taken. The party decided that they needed to address this immediately.
Meanwhile, Trident had gone to the bounty hunters’ guild to describe how dangerous the cult of Zehir is. He told them to watch out for any signs of additional cells of the cult, and to be suspicious of anyone who talked negatively about either Dreadbeard or prune juice as the cult’s primary goal had been to undermine Dreadbeard and the party. He further ordered them to not act on anyone until the townsguard had arrested them, but then to take over the investigation.
The party gathered at Nimozaran’s tower, hoping to use his teleportation circle to get to the Tower of Vecna quickly. Before teleporting though, they told Nimozaran that they would need him to learn more about deep crows, capturing creatures for the moats, Cryonax, Bartimaeus, dragons and giant lances. To help him have the energy, Gin gave him two double shots of prune juice.
When the party arrived in the base floor of the tower of Vecna, they immediately noticed that the arcane energy was diminished from their prior visit. The walls were not screaming at them. As they headed up to the second floor, they found the experimentation rooms unused in months. They also found a room with an arcane summoning circle on the floor. As Aegis investigated it, it syphoned some of his arcane energy, and summoned a large, horned, winged beast. Standing twelve feet tall, brandishing a sword crackling with lightning and a whip made of fire, the beast looked at the party. Dreadbeard attempted to make a deal with the demon, asking it to be their jailor in the pyramid. Gin further offered that it would have full run of the jail, and have no oversight in the treatment of prisoners. The demon offered to shake on it, but when Gin crossed the plane of the arcane circle, the bonds holding the demon in were broken. He immediately lashed out at Gin, but not before Dreadbeard knocked him down and back. The party realized they were out matched, and began making a strategic retreat. Trident stepped through to the Feywild, then Aegis, followed by Dreadbeard and Gin fled up to the next higher level. When Trident returned, believing the party would try to head back out through the teleportation circle, fled away from the balor down to the lower level.
On the top level, Gin found a ritual book, with a ritual for teleportation that did not require a teleportation circle, only material components that were sitting next to the book. He began to cast the ritual, trying to fix the prune fields outside of his home in his mind. Aegis began using his practiced barrier, trying to seal up the room, despite lacking Trident. Dreadbeard worked to activate the columns that contained arcane energy to strengthen Aegis’ barrier. A skeletal man, similar in build to Paldemar, tried to enter the chamber through the side door, but blocked by Aegis’ barrier walked into the foyer, saw the party, and scowled before leaving down the stairs.
Trident heard the approach of the balor. Waiting for the perfect moment, he slipped past, but was pulled back by its fiery whip. Using all of his speed and cunning, he slipped away again, running past the skeletal figure as he rushed up the stairs.
Over the next few minutes, Trident could hear the sounds of fighting, but did not risk going back down far enough to see it. Dreadbeard convinced Aegis to open a hole in the barrier to allow Trident access, which he did as soon as Trident was ready.
Just before Gin finished opening the portal, an explosion rocked the entire tower. As soon as the portal finished opening, ignorant of what had happened in the lower levels, the party quickly jumped through.