After the debate concluded, the Champions rested for a time in the hidden rooms of the Morningstar Inn, where they would be safe from the probing eyes of the now-constant patrols of Zetch’r’r’s kill squads. As they made ready to leave, they caught sight of a strange collection of arcanists gathering in the square outside the inn. It seemed they were casting a communication ritual of some kind.
Unable to disrupt the ritual without calling attention to the inn (and therefore endangering Gith), the five were forced to wait until the mages cleared out. Upon the spell’s completion, a larger-than-life image of the Emperor was called into being, towering over his minions. He called for the unconditional surrender of the Coalition members in his city, or at least for their traitorous abettors to cease sheltering them. To demonstrate his resolve to expunge his city of the outsiders, he made an example out of a traitor he’d already found: Bram Ironfell. As the Champions watched helplessly, Bram was led into the perimeter of the image, where he tearfully apologized to his nephew Thoradin before being impaled on Zetch’r’r’s sword and fed to a huge red dragon.
Legion snickered. He’d been well aware of how close they came to rescuing the poor dwarf before the rest of the group simply forgot him, and bringing the failure to Komè’s attention was endlessly amusing. Ionen denounced the kalashtar as a failure and a hypocrite, but was silenced as the cleric roared in frustration and ordered that the group focus on the task at hand: bringing the fight to Zetch’r’r.
Gith revealed her plan: she would rally the githyanki in the city who were not loyal to the Emperor and stage a violent coup. With her forces scattered throughout the city and able to commandeer numerous astral ships, the pawn of Tiamat would have no choice but to dispatch all the forces at his command to quell the uprising. Without reinforcements, they would surely fail, but the Chromatic Bastion (the Emperor’s fortress) would be largely unguarded, open to attack by the Champions. If they could remove him from the throne, the outcome of the battle would no longer matter, as Tu’narath would still be free from his rule.
And so, the Champions set forth, easily making their way to the front door of the Bastion with no opposition while the patrols dealt with the Separatists. It resembled an overlarge cathedral, complete with intricate windows of stained glass surrounding the doors of solid iron. In the entry room waited a single obstacle to their further progress: a floating, black, gem-studded spine. Zan-kyri correctly identified it as a demilich, created using the remains of Vlaakith. Its power was vast, and were it not for Zan’s ability to turn his lightning spells to radiant energy, the battle would have been far more difficult. Despite its disadvantage, in the moment before its defeat it was able to capture the soul of Legion, which it stored in an amethyst soul gem.
With good reason, the Champions were less than shaken up about the loss, and continued on.
In the next chamber, two young red dragons crouched at the far end of twin pools of burning naptha, the heat so oppressive that it blurred the vision of everyone but Blank and Ionen. Ever scheming to apply his elemental prowess in new ways, Ionen summoned a storm of frozen energy to quench the fires, returning the room to a normal temperature. After that, one of the dragons was quickly vanquished, while the other submitted to Ionen’s overbearing presence. It revealed the location of the throne room – behind a statue in the next room – before fleeing.
Continuing on, the Champions were ambushed upon opening the next door, and by none other than Do’kan. He and his companions – a kryizoth fire mage and a pair of ghostly sentries – put up a valiant resistance, but in the end were bested by the Champions’ superior firepower. Blank convinced the lieutenant that a second Coalition team had infiltrated the fortress at the same time, and that the Emperor was already dead. Robbed of his purpose for fighting, Do’kan threw down his true silver longsword and quit the fortress to throw in with Gith.
The statue they’d been warned of was warded against nongithyanki, but Komè and Zan-kyri still bore the whitefire marks given by Bejam, and had no trouble moving it out of the way. As they entered the Emperor’s chambers (a small three-story tower with the ceiling open to the sky), they heard him arguing with someone: the huge dragon they had seen devour Bram. It introduced itself as Vraxanault, the red exarch of Tiamat.
Zetch’r’r materialized through a teleportation platform, dealing an impossibly deadly blow to Zan-kyri before the genasi could react. Seconds later, Zan lay dying on the floor, his robes alight from the dragon’s fire. Komè returned him to vigor with a word of healing, while Ionen pummeled Vraxanault with piercing cold magic, and Blank forced the two uneasy allies to attack each other. Dazed and battered, Zetch’r’r fell to the onslaught all too soon, forcing Vraxanault to accept that he was now battling alone against a superior force, and with no reward for victory. He fled the tower while Komè cursed his luck – now he would never be able to recover Bram’s body to return him to life.
Still, the battle was over, and the future of Tu’narath was secured. As they prepared to leave by the way they’d came in, the Sacrifice appeared above the tower. Erdanen and Mr. Paradox had arrived too late to join the attack, but the ride (and the food they’d brought) was none the less appreciated. Ionen and Blank made their introductions, and the ship changed course to visit the red dragon caves at the south end of the city. There, Gith presented the scepter of Ephelomon liberated from the Emperor’s corpse, and shattered it.
“Children of Ephelomon, I release you from the pact,” she said. The dragons seemed angered, but understanding. They took their leave peacefully, but warned her that they were returning to Tiamat, and would be enemies henceforth. As the wyrms vacated the city for the first time since its founding, Gith thanked the heroes for all they had done, and bade them give her best wishes to Amyria. The Coalition’s War was over.