Taking turns rubbing your hands on its shiny obsidian surface, you venture into the black pyramid, entering the extra-dimensional space known as The Pyramid of Shadows. You arrive in a pit of disgusting charnal carnage and are immediately attacked by an Ettin, two Carrion Crawlers, and three Zombie Rotters who you dispatch with after a long battle. You find four heads stuck on hooks – a Shadar-Kai, an Orc, and two humans. In a fifth sack you find an obsidian orb.
Meanwhile, Hypatia prepares to begin study of Chapter 13, knowing this will require two days of study. Just as the Deva begins to immerse herself in intense study, there is a polite knock on the door. It is Alderaminis, the quiet and reserved high priest of Ioun at the temple in Ardmore. He says, “Forgive me, Revelator, I know how vitally important your studies are. But I think you should should see something.” He leads her to the temple steps where a small clan of halflings are gathered. They are from Underton. They have started their patrols around Harefolk Glen, and on the very first day they were engaged in an intense battle. They have something in a sack. They dump it out on the temple steps. It’s a vile, monstrous head with fangs, and a pair of wings where you would normally expect ears. Research on this creature reveals that it is a Vargouille (pronounced var-GWEEEL). The Vargouille are thought to be native to the Shadowdark (the Shadowfell equivalent of the Underdark). They haven’t been seen in Ardwen since The Mines of Kog were sealed a century ago.
Alderaminis tells Hypatia that he thinks he remembers coming across an old map of the Mines of Kog in the temple’s map room. He retrieves a detailed map of the mines and gives it to Hypatia.
The halfings convey rumor: a gang of strangely uniformed Orcs with packs of vicious wolves have been attacking travelers in western Ardwen. They are led by a big, powerful wyvern-mounted Orc. There is a second rumor: a strange race of humanoid house-flies (Fly people) are entering Ardwen in the Blithewood region. They are making camp in the swampy site that was fomerly the home of Mother Gerd. But they have not interacted with anyone else or attacked anyone. They do stink rather badly.
Lady Ryselka uses the wondrous mirror to contact you, informing you that there has been some commotion at the Temple of Ioun. Ki’mat casts a Linked Portal ritual and you return to the teleportation circle in Castle Ardwen. You arrive at the Temple of Ioun as the halflings are leaving. Hypatia shows you the Vargouille head and informs you of the halfings’ rumors. You visit Felgrim Cornerstone who suspects that the trouble is arising in the Kog’s Bane Hills. He tells you that if you decide to explore The Mines of Kog, then he had something for you to take along. Instead, you decide to return to The Pyramid of Shadows, this time with Hypatia joining you.
In the pyramid, you explore a verdant room and defeat two Arborean Reapers, a Howling Hag, and a Dire Boar. In a second room, you defeat an Arborean Watcher, an Arborean Reaper, three Shambling Mounds, and a Satyr Piper. The Head of Vyrellis chides the party for slaying a Fey creature (the Satyr). Ki’mat agrees to honor Vyrellis’s terms: he will only disable, but never slay, any Fey creatures for as long as he carries the obsidian orb artifact in which the Eladrin female’s severed head floats.
After a short rest, Agapanthus ascends to Paragon Tier as a Shinaelestran Guardian. He is the first Adventurer in all the Lighted Realms to achieve Paragon Tier without turning evil. The Head of Vyrellis congratulates him on his ascendancy while his fellow Adventurers gape in awe at his miraculous transformation.
Hypatia and Krum find themselves being rooted to the earth. The Head of Vyrellis tells you that Adventurers who fall out of touch with their Power Source are likely to succumb to the powerful Arborean magic influences present in this sector.
Entering a large temple with numerous trees and an altar, you defeat an Arborean Plant Terror, a Cave Bear, and the Arborean Speaker, Camnor. Searching a side chamber, you find a Guardian Shield. Moving into a second rooom, you kill an Arborean Watcher and two Arborean Reapers, while a pair of pesky Quicklings slash at you repeatedly and eventually manage to escape from the room alive.
You return to Krum and Hypatia only to find that Krum has been totally entwined in the plant roots and has had all life drained from him. Adugrain, The Creature in the Cone, engulfs Krum’s body, telling Hypatia that although Krum’s life cannot be saved, the Creature will free Krum’s spirit by unbinding it from the powerful Arborean magic. After completing the ritual to free Krum’s spirit, Adugrain helps Hypatia break free of the plant roots. Wolvar objects to Adugrain’s interference in the party’s affairs and its consumption of the party’s magic items. Some party members mutter threats to slay Adugrain but before any action is taken the creature returns to its cone.
You assault the final room in the Arborean lair, an illusory outdoor forest of black trees, slaying Arboreans and Ettercaps. The pair of Quicklings from the previous battle dash in and out of the room, slashing away at you with their blades. You fend them off but do not manage to kill them.
Hypatia senses a powerful threat in the area to the north: allies of Vecna are devouring knowledge, a serious affront to any devotee of Ioun. Quickly leaving the Arborean lair behind, you travel north to the Library of Whispers, engaging in combat with shadowy beings called Eaters of Knowledge. With the battle turning against them, the Eaters of Knowledge take on ethereal form and merge themselves into the stacks of library books.
Lady Ryselka contacts you through the wondrous mirror. She asks Hypatia to instruct Alderaminis to grant permission to have The Tomes of Power transported from the Temple of Ioun to the castle in Ardmore where they will be guarded by the centaurs. Hypatia appears reluctant to grant permission to allow the centaurs to remove the Tomes from the temple.
While Lady Ryselka is speaking, three centaurs appear behind her in the mirror. The centaur leader says, We could not find the Hobgoblin boy, my Lady, but we have beheaded the old Hobgoblin cook just as you instructed. Agitated at the timing of the interruption, Lady Ryselka yells, “Not now, you stupid oaf!” at the centaur leader, after which her image disappears from the mirror.
You hear a scream coming from the entry chamber to the south. Returning to the charnal pit, you find Dog Boy holding a sack containing The Tomes of Power. Beside him, badly beaten and unconscious, is the dwarf Felgrim Cornerstone. You revive Felgrim and rest the night undisturbed in the Arborean lair.