Komè’s demeanor was soured by the pointless death of Trethix, but the others consoled him with the fact that it was now possible to move forward with their plans. Reluctantly, he used the residuum gifted by Scaramandar to open the way to Tu’narath with a casting of the Linked Portal ritual.
In the space of a breath, they found themselves in an alleyway in the Market District of the City of Death. Legion shook with anticipatory glee as he felt himself enter the presence of the dead god, whom he referred to as Amaan. Zan-kyri quailed at the realization that he stood on the corpse of a deity, but was soon distracted as a number of dragonborn rounded the corner towards them.
Apparently, the coordinates that Scaramandar had given them were not as secure as Blank had hoped. One of Zetch’r’r’s kill squads had arrived to deal with them, led by a githyanki dread knight and an undead blackweaver. Swiftly, they closed on the party on both sides of the alley, but the Champions were ready. Komè warded off the dragonborn reavers’ triple flails with powerful words of peace, while Zan used a strange crown to change his lightning magic into radiant energy, which he used to unravel the blackweaver. Legion scuttled up the wall, far out of the reach of the enemies, and rained eldritch havoc on his cursed foes.
Stumbling free of the ambush with the kill squad dead at their feet, the Champions wandered into a central square of the district, where a robed dragonborn approached them after seeing Komè’s standard. He introduced himself as Ionen, and claimed he was destined to inherit the power of Io, father of the sibling dragon gods. The group was wary of this stranger – for any dragonborn in Tu’narath had to be working for Tiamat. Ionen freely admitted that he was, but only to further his own goals. He had been following the Coalition’s progress in the war for some time now, and came to the realization that the quickest end to this power struggle between Bahamut and his sister would be to help the Champions end the war itself. Ionen summarized by saying that any quarreling between the two deities was undesirable to him – if either of them were to be slain, it would make it impossible for him to reclaim Io’s power from them.
Before the party could agree to trust him, seven angels descended from above the rooftops, blocking off three sides of the square. Down the fourth lumbered a great blue dragonborn, easily a dozen feet or more in height, and carrying a gigantic falchion that crackled with electricity. Ionen ordered him to leave, but the bluespawn merely snorted an insult in the draconic tongue, and intoned that it had grown tired of Ionen’s heretical views. It had worked with him long in the city, but now it seemed happy to execute this traitor.
The battle was extremely brief, with Zan and Blank dispersing the angels readily. The bluespawn launched Ionen around the square with awesome blows, but as his allies were slain and his wounds becoming more numerous, Ionen managed to convince him that victory was impossible. “Go and tell the others of my power,” he said. “And that Tiamat will lose this war.”
Having shown up even Legion in destructive arcane power, and proven his allegiance by allowing the divine servants of Tiamat to be killed in his presence, the group was convinced to let Ionen come along, if only for the moment. A crowd had gathered to watch the battle (at a distance), and the sorcerer had the means to offer them temporary shelter from further kill squads until they could determine their next move. He led them to an abandoned home, former property of a githyanki sergeant slain during one of the many battles on the Mortal World. It was more tightly locked than he remembered, but Zan used a teleportation trick to get inside from the second floor. There they slept, safe from the githyanki patrols while Legion kept watch alongside Blank’s dream form.
After consulting with Ionen, the Champions’ goals became clearer. Bram Ironfell was likely taken to one of the githyanki battle platforms orbiting the city: the Fortress of Three Sorrows. To get there, they’d need to commandeer an astral craft, and the simplest way to accomplish that was to get in touch with the Separatists, rumored to be based in the Morningstar Inn. So, timing their sprint to slip through a pair of patrols, they managed to make their way across the district, where they met the acquaintance of Gharvag. He informed them that he could had no such power to authorize an alliance between them, not with their leader in Zetch’r’r’s custody. The Champions were frustrated to be sure – they had come so far, only to be denied the one goal which Amyria herself had tasked them with.
“It cannot be helped,” assured Gharvag. “Our leader is Vlaakith herself, and our forces will obey no one else.”
Vlaakith? How? The Lich Queen had been dead for a quarter-century! Eagerly, the Champions asked Gharvag to explain how she could be back. He corrected himself: he was speaking of a new Vlaakith; the 158th of her line. Still, it seemed incredible – the 157th had suffered no heirs in her paranoia that she would be usurped. This new Vlaakith was not named so because of her heritage, but because she knew things about githyanki history that only the original Vlaakith I could know. Because of this (and the fact that Zetch’r’r had abandoned the Eternal Crusade and so was unfit to lead), the Separatists had rallied around her… but without her they were uncoordinated rebels with no good replacement to put on the throne.
As it happened, Vlaakith was also being kept at Three Sorrows, so the heroes decided to kill two birds with one stone and headed out as soon as Gharvag could get them an astral skiff. They landed in the fortress’ hangar unchallenged, and in true Coalition fashion, blitzed their way through the unprepared defenders until they reached the room where Vlaakith was held.
Rather than face more githyanki guards, the Champions found themselves face to face with a pair of barbed devils, an archangel of Tiamat, and most unexpectedly of all: Dispater. The Iron Duke, Lord of the Second – an archdevil of terrible repute and prowess. What was a being so powerful doing here of all places?
Zan rushed forward, his impulsiveness getting the better of him as a fragment of the Gates of Hell slammed shut behind him. Without his friends to help him, he was quickly cut down, left to bleed out on the floor. The gates did not stand for long, however, and as soon as they descended, Legion, Komè, and Ionen surged through the doorway. The kalashtar set to reviving the foolish young genasi, while Legion and Ionen fought fire with fire (literally). Blank stood back from the action, littering the room with reality-distorting psionic explosions and throwing the devils into decorative piles. Dispater seemed more than capable of matching them blow for blow, until Legion proved his better. By using a little-known spell that drew on a pact Dispater often made with mortal warlocks, Legion was able to completely catch the archdevil off his guard and critcally wound him with his own power. His bodyguards defeated and the angel wounded, Dispater attempted to flee, but didn’t make it far before being killed. His body disintegrated into darkness – it was only his shadow.
Vlaakith thanked them for saving her, but Komè refused to release her from her bonds until she answered his questions. She revealed that she was not in fact, the Lich Queen, but Gith reborn. As part of the githyanki’s original pact with Tiamat, Gith had agreed to be a prisoner in Hell in exchange for the service of the red dragons, provided that Tiamat would never attempt to interfere with the Eternal Crusade. Now, with Zetch’r’r ignoring the Crusade to focus on the war against the Coalition, the original pact was broken, and she was free to return to Tu’narath, where she’d been attempting to lead her people out of bondage for the second time.
Satisfied with her story, the Champions left. One floor above, Bram sat in his cell, forgotten.
Back at the Morningstar Inn, Gith used her influence to call a meeting of githyanki nonloyalists, and gave the Champions the opportunity to win them over to their cause. With inspiring words by Komè and an amusing (but believable) sob story by Blank, the leaders unanimously voted to form an alliance with the Platinum Shield Coalition. In gratitude, Gith promised that if she were to gain the throne, she would institute a thousand years of peace between her people and the Mortal World, and begin more diplomatic relations with their lost kin, the githzerai.