It was in the morning of Moonday, the 3rd day of Wealsun, in the Common Year of 580, when the Righteous Vanguard ventured into the lava tubes that would eventually lead them to what was once known as the Indoctrination Center of White Plume Mountain. After having fought and defeated two creatures, later known as fungus hulks, the band continued their investigation of the lava tubes, which, as the band eventually discovered, created a huge network of fissures that formed a maze within the mountain. Most of these fissures were large enough for a human to walk through and mats of fungus coated the floors, walls and ceilings of these oppressively hot and moist passages. A scant few patches of this growth were weakly bioluminescent, providing a bit of light in these areas. But the vast majority of the fissures were dark.
Because of this, Nicholas and Book, both of whom were enhanced with magical darkvision, scouted out ahead of the rest of the band, which followed along using various magical light sources. Due to the maze-like quality of this network of fissures, the band used a number of means to help them make their way through the tunnels, such as taking advantage of Nicholas’ skill at tracking to determine the more commonly used tunnels, and placing marks on the walls at intersections to try and prevent them from getting lost. And whenever there was any question about which tunnel to take, they generally tried to stick to those tunnels leading downward, hoping these tunnels would eventually take them to the Indoctrination Center.
After approximately one and a half hours spent wandering through the lava tubes, at about half past nine, one of the tunnels finally came to an end at a door. They checked the door and found no traps, nor did it appear to be locked. But there was a flickering orange light coming from under the door and the door was very warm to the touch. So Nero cast an invisibility spell on the door knob, which allowed them to look through it and see what lay in the chamber beyond.
There, off to the left of them in a vast chamber, they saw scarlet light streaming through a set of thick crystal panes set into the west wall, which stained the white-tiled room blood-red. The crystal window looked out on a layer of thick, white mist rolling over an expanse of violently agitated magma. On a 10-foot high marble dais in the center of the chamber stood an iron observation chair, positioned to allow a perfect view of the fury beyond the window. Small leather straps attached to the arms and back of the chair gave silent evidence that not all viewers were willing to watch the spectacle. Near the door through which they looked was a 15-foot-diameter pit, from which a steady stream of white smoke rose up. And to the far, northern side of the chamber could be seen three more doors.
Seeing no occupants in the room, the band cautiously opened the door and stepped inside. But a few members of the band were momentarily taken in by the mesmerizing effect of the awe inspiring scene that lay beyond the window, and failed to take note of the threat that soon emerged from the smoking pit which lay to the right of them. Most members of the band however, watched in horror as an immense humanoid creature suddenly rose up and stepped out of the rising smoke. At eighteen feet in height, the creature towered above them and appeared to be made of glowing red coals covered with white-hot cinders. A wave of intense heat washed over the band as the burning humanoid stepped towards them with the obvious intent to attack.
Several members of the band fought back, but it soon became clear that the huge creature was unaffected by most magic, leading some members of the band to the conclusion that it was a golem of some kind. It struck with tremendous force and whenever it landed a blow, a shower of glowing cinders poured down on top of the recipient of the blow, threatening to burn the victim in the process. Fortunately though, the band had suspected that something like this might occur, and each of them had taken measures to magically protect themselves from fire before entering the room. Still the golem pounded on Nicholas despite the fact that he was immune to its fire damage. And to make matters worse, a second one of these burning golems began to emerge from the pit right behind the first one.
Gildor however, came up with an idea and reached into his backpack to find the decanter of endless water, which the band had recently acquired. He pointed it at the first golem and spoke the command word to release a geyser of water at it. As hoped, the water extinguished the fire around the golem and even slowed it down a bit, but it did no damage to the golem and ended up knocking Gildor on his ass as he tried to control the geyser. Kieranen, in turn, used his Crystal of the Eight to help keep the second golem at bay, and Book cast a haste spell, while Nicholas chopped away at the first golem and Ael threw bombs at it. Seeing as how the golems were so very difficult to harm, even though the first golem was taking heavy damage and was about to fall, Book called out to his companions to quickly move way from the golems so he could cast a wall of force and hold them off.
As the band was in the process of following Book’s direction however, the first golem uttered a terrible, magically enhanced cry which sent a wave of shivers through the band and caused Ael to run away in fear. Then, the dominated gnome Kabyle, under Book’s command, tried to run past the first golem and was crushed by the golem’s fist and killed. The feebleminded gnome Oasen however, who had been tied with a rope to Kieranen and was under his protection, managed to make it safely around the second golem. When all the members of the band then were well away from the golems, Book cast the wall of force spell, thereby cutting off the two golems, but also cutting off the entrance to the room through which they came. Meanwhile, at some point during the battle, a wall of fire had appeared on the far side of the room, but no one could determine its source.
Now, with a wall of force on one side of the room and a wall of fire on the other side, there was only one door left unobstructed to them, which was only visible to them as they approached the center of the oddly-shaped chamber. It was to this door that Dravos ran and began looking for traps.
At about the same time, Nero cast a dimension door spell and transported himself out into the lava tube just beyond where he expected Ael to have run to. When Ael then ran towards him, Nero tried to grab him but missed. So rather than chase after him, Nero cast a black tentacles spell which stopped him but also began to slowly strangle the life out of him. Unfortunately, at this point, there was nothing that Nero could do for Ael but wait for him to calm down and regained his composure.
Meanwhile, back in the chamber, the troubles continued for the rest of the band, as the second golem then let out a cry of its own, causing Book to panic just as Ael had. But since there was nowhere for Book to run to, he cast a dimension door spell as well, taking himself to the bottom of the spiral stairs that led out of the mountain. From there he continued to flee up the spiral stairs, only slowing down due to the exhaustion of climbing the stairs.
By this time, Dravos had discovered no traps on the one unobstructed door leading out of the chamber, so he opened it to reveal a passageway beyond. He was soon joined by Kieranen, Oasen, Gildor and Nicholas. But at the end of the short passageway, they saw another pit just like the one in the chamber, and out of it climbed two more burning golems. Not wanting to deal with these golems, Kieranen threw a bead of force down the passageway, landing so that, after exploding, it formed a sphere of force in the passageway and thus prevented the golems from approaching any closer.
Once more, the band appeared to be left with only one option – a single door that stood in the opposite wall of the passageway. After checking again for traps, they opened the door to reveal a room that appeared to serve as both a storage room and the quarters of two people. Standing in the center of the room were two drow, one a male and one a female, both with swords drawn and held out before them. The male drow spoke in common saying, “You are no allies of Keraptis, therefore you must die!” The male drow then stepped forward to attack with his sword, while the female drow moved in behind him to cast a magic missile spell. However, the male drow quickly discovered that he was out matched by his opposition and suffered several critical wounds, forcing him to hastily withdraw back into the room, where he stumbled and fell.
Seeing the male drow so badly wounded apparently had some kind of effect on the female drow, and without warning or any obvious reason, she screamed as her eyes rolled back in her head. Then she covered her face as she too fell to the ground. This in turn, caused the male drow to react in horror and apparently forget, for the time being, the threat that stood before him or the wounds that he had just received, his only concern being that of the condition of the female drow. He called out her name, Camille, and tried to drag himself towards her prone body.
Watching all of this occur before them with some confusion, Nicholas and Kieranen moved into the room and threatened to finish off both of the drow, when the male drow called out for them to wait, saying that he could make it worth their efforts to let them live. The male drow told them he could provide them with valuable information. So with weapons held at the ready, they told him he had better start talking. The drow, whose name was Wilde, told them that they had been working for Keraptis, the one that the band knew as Killjoy, and that their job was to gather food for the rest of Killjoy’s followers. However, due to what had just happened to the female drow, Camille, whom Wilde obviously had a strong affection for, it was clear to him now that both he and Camille were both doomed unless they put a stop to Killjoy’s plans – for it was obvious to him that Camille had just become subsumed. He told the band that he had suspected this might happen, but not until after he and Camille had been tricked into reading one of the Keraptis scrolls. Now, it was only a matter of time before he too would become subsumed and his only hope to save himself and Camille was to aid the band. He also told the band that he knew much of the way around this level of the complex and could provide them with further information.
Upon hearing all of this, the band agreed to spare the lives of the drow. Meanwhile, Gildor examined Camille and confirmed that she appeared to have become subsumed. So the band tied her up, as Gildor healed up many of the band’s injuries, including those of Wilde, who now offered to fight along side them. The band reluctantly agreed to let Wilde work with them, though he was issued a stern warning from Kieranen not to betray them. When this was settled the band turned their attention to other matters, such as returning to the large chamber and finishing off the golems there and then going after Killjoy whom Wilde claimed they could find beyond the wall of fire.
So the band, the larger portion of it that is, made their way back to the large chamber. As it just so happened, Nero, Ael and Book were also returning to the chamber at about this time, and when they learned that Killjoy could be found on the other side of the wall of fire, they became more interested in going there than in dealing with the golems. So they put up another wall of force to hold off the golems, as the duration of the first wall of force was about to come to an end.
With the band all protected from fire, the first one to venture beyond the wall of fire was Dravos. He quickly returned however, when he saw what waited them there. So Nero and Nicholas stepped through the wall of fire. There they saw a line of twenty-one subsumed gnomes and behind them stood a large bald man with tattoos on his head and a large two-handed sword that shown like a piece of the starry night sky. Assuming the bald man to be Killjoy, or one of his followers, as he appeared to have a magical globe around him to protect himself and some of the gnomes, Nero and Nicholas quickly realized they were about to be blasted simultaneously with as many as eight spells, and they understood why Dravos had retreated.
Fortunately, Nero proved to be quicker to react and let loose with a forceball spell, killing about half of the gnomes which stood outside of the sphere of protection. Following this however, the remaining gnomes and the bald headed man, who was indeed Killjoy, unleashed a wave of spells in return, including a black tentacles spell that caught a few members of the band, a cone of cold that blasted them and took down a portion of the wall of fire, a feeblemind spell that crippled Book, and what appeared to be a finger of death aimed at Nicholas who managed to avoid taking any mortal injury from it.
Following this, those members of the band who were able to, attacked back using whatever means they had at their disposal and the remaining gnomes were rapidly eliminated. Meanwhile, Ael threw bombs at the burning golem which had been badly damaged earlier, and managed to finally take it down.
Seeing that his gnomes would not last much longer, Killjoy assumed his true form, that of an efreeti, and, rather than retreating as he could have done easily, he chose instead to use his sword, which was of course, Blackrazor, to take the life of one of his subsumed gnomes. Doing so apparently granted the life force of the murdered gnome to Killjoy, making him even more powerful. But it proved to be a costly mistake for him, as the Righteous Vanguard then surrounded him and cut him down despite his added power. Even Wilde, one of Killjoy’s ex-followers, was able to strike the efreeti with his sword, thus gaining some measure of satisfaction on his former master, and for the time being, keeping his word as an ally to the band.