The party searched Leucis’ body for another gathering scroll that they could use to hopefully extract a larger mana amber crystal from the large stump in the back of the room. They did indeed find another scroll, and were able to extract a the crystal they had been looking for. As they prepared to take a rest, the one student that Shamash had burned rose to his feet (a staggering 4 feet tall) and removed his hood with an annoyed expression. He seemed familiar to Shamash, and there was no doubt who this was once he opened his mouth. “You stupid lizard, you’ve ruined everything!” This halfling was none other than Merric, Shamash’s old rival. The rest of the group merely watched as unpleasant words were exchanged between the two until Shamash, still battered and bloody, challenged Merric to settle things here and now. Arcs of fire met and thrashed against each other for a moment, but in a flash Merric had ducked under them pressed his cold dagger into the dragonborn’s gut. Shamash crumpled to the floor, unconscious and quivering.
Merric proceeded to rip off a length of cloth and stabilize the wound, and turned to the rest of the group and explained that he had infiltrated this group because he believed a teacher was luring new students into some sort of dark cult. Pulling back Leucis’ hood revealed the horned visage of a tiefling. And not just any tiefling, it was none other than Professor Darkflame. They made their way back towards the academy, resting for several hours in creature’s village first. They used the smaller crystals they had found to buy equipment, a shield for Eglath and a bow for Jackson, each made from the blackened wood of the nearby trees as well as massive sword whose blade was made of mana amber for Marmaroth.
The group attempted to interrogate Leucis, but he merely led them in circles, speaking with a nihilistic demeanor about how he was already dead and nothing the party did to him would make a difference. After a while, they gave up, and headed back towards the academy. When the reached the edge of Woodhaven, they saw the smoke rising from the city in the distance. They rushed into the panicked city and made a beeline to the academy. In the lobby, the asked the golem secretary what was going on, but were met with hostility as the golem fought alongside several cultists that rushed down the stairs. The party defeated the golem, but as golem’s plating cracked and fell, inside the golem was a barely conscious Headmaster Quarion.
He said that Darkflame had lead several students on a coup-De-tat of the school and locked the other teachers in their offices. The party was confused because they thought they had captured Leucis, but when Marmaroth tried to ask their captive what was going on, his blade slipped and killed it, reverting it to its true form- Darkflame’s imp familiar. Just then, an image of the tiefling appeared in front of them and explained that each teacher was trapped, and that any attempts to interfere with his operations would result in the throwing of a kill switch that would activate all of the traps, killing the teachers. Furthermore, he announced that the school was rigged with one of the stolen mana bombs, and it would detonate in two hours. The party told him they would stop him, but he insisted he wouldn’t have rattled off his plans if they could actually succeed.
The academy was designed as a semi-circle with the lobby at it’s center. Each office was about 15 minutes from the lobby. Merric insisted on getting the Archmage to safety and left to get him out of the city. The party decided that the first thing to do was save Adeya, who had helped construct the original mana bomb. When they reached her office they were confronted with 2 of the creature they had seen in her crystal. The creatures were made of living mana and had made a corporeal shell out of her potions and alchemical items. Each attack delivered and recieved by the party splashed them with all manner of liquids ranging from alchemists fire to antivenom. They planned on defeating one and escaping, but upon it’s defeat its incorporeal energy returned to Adeya. These creatures were made from her own mana. The party defeated the second, but it cost them precious seconds. The barely-conscious alchemy professor was unable to fight, but at least had the strength to escape, so she set out, giving the party a rack of healing potions.
They decided they could save time by following the outside of the circle and going directly to Malaggar’s office. Inside they found themselves in a preened courtyard at night, with no sign of an entrance or exit. They were attacked by an Oni that attempted to flee when it realized it was overpowered. It tried to impersonate Malaggar, but the party was only fooled for a minute before they turned on it and struck it down, causing the illusory area to fade and reveal that they were actually inside Malaggar’s office. It seemeed he had passed out after being forced to ingest his own poison, and, like Adeya, was too weak to fight at this point. He left, but offered them his Ghostphase Cloak as a reward.
Continuing that pattern, the next stop was the Archmage’s tower, which showed clear signs of a battle and had been ransacked. Whatever they were looking for was probably behind the already-open hidden stairway that led down under the courtyard. At the bottom was a large double-door they they could hear Leucis barking orders through. They not to call his bluff and save one more teacher before going after Darkflame. Shamash asked that they save Krogal Gro-Dok, as he always treated Shamash with respect, and had earned his in turn, so the party made for the gymnasium. Inside, arcs of lightning bounced, shards of enchanted wooden target dummies flew, stars rained and the dummies themselves began fighting the party. They were somehow able to subdue the half-orc, but they didnt have time to wait for his injuries to heal, they barely had enough time as it was to reach the double-doors under the Archmage’s tower as it was.
There were less than two minutes left when they threw open the doors to see the black-haired swordsman leaving via a teleportation circle that closed behind him, leaving Leucis and his homunculus guardians facing the party. At Leucis’ end was the detonator for the mana bomb. When the party entered he said “and so you have made your choice, heroes. You would sacrifice a few teachers for the good of the city.” He snapped his fingers. “And now they are dead, and their blood is on your hands, heroes. Not that it matters, you will all die soon enough.” He conjured several black orbs that pulled the party in and made them feel heavy.
They eventually muscled through the dark orbs and got close enough to strike at Leucis. Shamash melted the homunculi, unloading everything he had in him. Argas was blinded by Leucis’ curse and tried haphazardly to fight back. Eglath charged the tiefling as soon as he could. Jackson made every effort to support the others. As time ran short, Khashana’s face took on the visage of something… sinister. As it did, Leucis screamed in horror as he and Eglath saw something horrifying. Eglath threw him from the edge of the world and Leucis’ mind seemed to crack. He tried desperately to fight but was backed up against a pillar. Suddenly a portal appeared on the pillar and Merric lept out, grabbing Leucis and putting his blade to the warlock’s throat. “Any last words, traitor?”
Just this, Leucis said, and his voice shifted to something horrible, and the words he spoke felt almost painful to hear. “Meus animus, fio unus per obscurum. Murucsbo rep sunu oif sumina suem!” Merric slit his throat. but instead of bleeding out, the tieflings boddy burst into flames, leaving only a small pile of dust on the floor. With less than a minute left the party set forth to destroying the detonater. Finally both the school and the city were safe.