This is how I remember it, please offer corrections…
After a large battle defeating the army of lesser devils before the Palace, the party met the Prince of Synerg’s sons, two half-dragons; Ulrich the wizard and Patrick, the Knight of Siron. They pleaded for the party’s aid to help their Father. After getting aid from the Gnomes in the Temple of the Great Wanderer you and the half-dragons crossed the central bridge in Synerg.
You hear the sounds of battle; you see before you a city on fire. A large oval hemi-sphere of the darkest black hangs over the central part of the city. What at first you thought to be smoke from the fires, you now realize is some magical barrier to sight and who knows what else. (Moriah’s scrying cannot penetrate)
To the north, you can see the 5-story merchant’s guild building burning among the others. A second army of devils along with multitudes of undead surround it, blocking the way north.
Toward the east, just south of the impenetrable black dome, lay the cemetery the Lich had told you to meet her in when she communicated to you in the dungeon.
The party made their way east toward the cemetery. They move past a couple of smaller houses which turned out to hold undead. After dealing with them, came up to the south end of the cemetery. The entrance lay on the west side, but was guarded by undead. The group felt it better to scale / levitate over the fence.
Upon entrance, you see the Lich, Liquwener, standing in the center of the dark graveyard, her attention focused on a gap in the otherwise impenetrable black dome that lay just beyond the cemetery. Her hands are raised toward the done, in an unwavering spell gesture. The gap is actually the back side of some kind of portal, allowing you to see though the dome barrier, but not into the portal itself. You feel waves of vile darkness and evil beyond description emanating of the portal. Tendrils of unknown magic snaked from this oval toward an enormous dragon, seeming to drain his essence away into the void.
Surrounding the Dragon was an army of Devils and undead. They were locked in ferocious combat. The Great Devil the party previously encountered in Craven’s dungeon stood in front of the now collapsed and burning spymaster, (Percy) headquarters. He grappled with the Dragon, while fireballs exploded around them. More devils streamed out of the burning merchant’s guild building on the opposite side of the Dragon. Through the commotion you can surprisingly hear Craven’s voice yelling out viscous commands to the devils. Hundreds of dead bodies surround the Dragon, protectors who have now perished.
In the cemetery, floating beings, half-shadow, half vampire, circle Liquwener protectively. As the party approaches more shadow vampires emerge from the dark places of the cemetery. They quickly surround the party. Someone yells out to the Lich (think it was Jerock or Quill). The Lich turns toward you at the call and the shadow vampire stop motionless just as they were about to attack.
In a voice that is quiet in volume yet cuts through the noise and command you attention as if shouted, she says, “Finally! You have waited until the very last moment! Do your puny brains comprehend what is as stake here!” Her furtively dart to each of you. “Do you have it? Quick you must show it to me!”
After some short, nervous indecisiveness by the party Thuynder ( I believe was carrying the Lich’s book/phylactery ) passes the book to her. The Lich focuses on the book immediately and appears to cast some sort of spell over it. The party did not know what to expect, but the despairing moan that came from the Lich took them by surprise.
“I cannot focus on it. Even now in my hands, Craven’s magic somehow prevents me. So we are lost, and must continue to bend to his will and end things.”
The Book of Nergal that Binoll held then spoke to him. “I know the spell she tried to cast. Perhaps I can do it for her, through you?”
Binoll passed this on to everyone, but the Lich shook her head. “You need Trap the Soul, Soul Bind and Greater Dispel. Do you have all these?”
Nergal had the two necro spells but not greater dispel , but Moriah had that. The party then agreed to cast the spells for her, but the Book of Nergal revealed then to Binoll that the only way to do this was for Binoll to allow it to take control of his body. Binoll agreed and warned the party of this. Jerock kept close watch on Binoll.
During this discussion the assault on the Dragon continues and the Dragons two sons are impatient, and insist the group goes to his aid. The Dragon utters a tremendous roar at that point; to hear a dragon roar is fearsome enough, but to hear one riddled with pain is quite unnerving. The Great Devil’s laugh rolls across the battlefield and ground shakes like the skin of a war drum.
Thuynder’s staff had also been urging him to rush to the Dragon’s aid. Now, the staff will wait no longer, it insists on going now or it will break its word and take over Thuynder.
Thuynder agrees, and as the Binoll/Nergal takes the Lich’s book and casts the spells Thuynder, Ulrich and Patrick race off toward the Dragon.
When Binoll finishes, he looks a bit perplexed, and Jerock is concerned about him, but Moriah steps up and casts the Greater Dispel. At that same moment Craven materializes in the graveyard.
“You fools! I warned you not to trust this creature. Now give me the Book.” He gestures to the blue Book which suddenly flies out of Binoll’s hand toward Craven.
“No!” Faster than the blink of an eye, the Lich flashed across the tombstones and intercepted the flying book. She disappeared before touching the ground.
At that moment, the undead in the city turned against their former allies, the Devils. The shadow vampires fled the graveyard (and Craven) to join the battle.
Craven was livid. :I will kill you all, grind your bones to dust, and turn your souls into screaming masses of burning despair! And then I will retrieve the Book, end the Lich and your efforts will all have been in vain.”
The battle with Craven starts then as the party attacks and he responds with spells.
Meanwhile, Thuynder, Ulrich and Patrick fight their way through to the Dragon. It is a tough fight, but thanks to the Staff granting protection from Fire, Thuynder makes it through, taking out a few enemies in the process. The Dragon lies in the center of blackened and desolate area. The Devil now sits atop the ruined spy headquarters watching his minions finish the job. He shows no concern for the three newcomers.
Tendrils of darkness still feed off the Dragon and snake toward the open maw of vile darkness floating nearby. From this side Thuynder can only see the deepest darkness. The Dragon dies and his sons howl in despair. The Staff however, demands to be brought to the Dragon. It believes it can Raise him from the dead (Special Dedicated power of Intelligent magic item)
The Devil flies off the building and lands abruptly in the midst of Craven’s battle with the party. His sudden appearance brought an anxious pause to the battle as the party feared they would have to battle the both of these powerful foes at the same time.
The Devil rumbles out a command to Craven. “I must interrupt your play time here. My agreed upon task is done, the Dragon is dead. I demand my payment.”
(The party will remember that in the lowest layer of the dungeon they had encountered the Devil and learned he had made a pact with Craven to protect the Book and it other guardians and also kill the Dragon in the final battle. The Devil had tried to get the party to help him break out of this agreement.)
Craven, a little surprised at how long it was taking to kill these trouble makers offer the Devil double if he kills the party. HE refuses. “My payment now or your protection ends.”
Craven grimaces; “It lies in the second level of my retreat, in a secret room, off the Necromancer’s room. It lies buried in the floor and will reveal itself at the password –Triumph.” The Devil instantly teleports away and Craven turns to attack the party again. He uses Death touch, blasphemy and other spells. His armor hurts anyone who attacks him though Yrock seems to be able to resist the effect of the armor.
Thuynder reaches the Dragon and uses the staffs magic to Raise the Dragon from the dead. Ulrich and Patrick guard Thuynder from the surrounding devils while he does this. The Dragon opens his enormous eyes and focuses on Thuynder, staring into his soul.
“You are touched by the Dragon above” the Dragon whispered in wonderment. “I know what brought you here, even though I am in awe of it, but your efforts and His are in vain. I am too weak to survive unless this portal closes. It is meant to me and will close upon my entrance, but I would perish forever in that Shadowy plane of Death and Craven and his devils would have free reign here.”
Thuynder asks if there is anything he could do to close the portal. The Dragon stares at him for along moment before responding. “You could fool the portal into thinking I had entered; you and your Staff have the Dragon essence, but you yourself are not powerful enough, it needs to feel a great and powerful soul entering. Perhaps if there were another of you, another good soul, a cleric perhaps, it would be enough.”
Thuynder immediately thought of Jerock and the staff agreed. Thuynder explained his idea to the Dragon.
“Yes, this might work. IF you do this for me, I will do my best to get you back and restore you to life.”
Thuynder and the Staff make their decision and head back to the party stumbling right into the battle with Craven.
Quill made some amazing shots with his bow that hurt Craven. Jerock and Binoll hurt him with spells and Yrock had cut him with his axe, but he seemed unstoppable. So far Jerockand Beales were keeping everyone alive with healing spells, but he was nearly out of healing energy.
The Devil reappeared then, but was double his previous size and glowed with an angry magic energy. “YOU DARE TO CHEAT ME?” it roars. “IT IS NOT THERE.”
Craven himself then grew larger and yelled back, “I do not break my word, ever! These interlopers tramped through my retreat. They must have taken it…” but as the Devil turns toward you, the Dragon roars as it reneges in battle.
Craven trembled with rage. “you dare to accuse me when you have failed to finish your task? Either you are a liar and a cheat, or you are stupid enough to leave behind a body to be raised.”
The Devil stared toward the Dragon in shock, “I will finish him for all eternity this time.” He spread his wing and flew toward the Dragon. This time the party did not wait, they attacked Craven the moment the Devil spread his wings.
Thuynder arrived soon and offered his aid while trying to explain what needed to be done. At the same time the Lich reappears.
Craven bellows at her, obviously losing control of himself, “I am going to destroy you and the very memory of you will be wiped from this plane or any other you dishonorable beast!”
The Lich cast strong ropes of black energy at Craven while sending a mental message to the party that Craven is too strong while the portal is open. They must find a way to close it.
Thuynder in frustration yells out, “I have been trying to tell them I know how to do that!”
The party quickly confers in between attacks. Jerock feels he is too vital in standing up against Craven to leave,(the The Great Warrior’s influence is driving him to not leave a battle that is joined), but Beales gloriously volunteers, as he is partly a cleric of The Great Wanderer and a holy bard.
Unfortunately, after the arrival of the Lich, large number of devils swarmed around and into the graveyard, apparently summoned by Craven. There was no way to fight their way through so many.
Moriah had been supporting the party with her spells and staying clear of Craven’s deathly spells, but now she saw her chance to really help. She had her flying spell active. She cast Bull strength on herself, then grabbed Thuynder and Beales and flew them over the masses of attacking Devils. They flew straight toward the black portal and Moriah let go of the two at the right moment for them to arc through the portal. When she tried to veer up to avoid the portal herself though, the tip of her feet caught the edge, and she entered along with the two of them. The portal collapsed moments after entry.
The Lich and her enthralled undead were able to keep the masses of devils back while the others fought Craven. He was seriously hurt by now, but he still had no fear of them. That changed when the portal disappeared. He screamed, despair, terror and pain in his voice all at once.
As Yrock swung back to land a killing blow on the now kneeling Craven, he somehow teleported away. The party was furious at his escape.
At the disappearance of the portal, the black dome covering the city disappeared. The Dragon roared a new kind of roar, a triumphant, somehow prayerful roar.
At that point the Heavens opened up in a thousand tiny stars (though it was daytime) and hordes of celestial beings, angles, poured onto the battle field. They drove the devils back, destroying or banishing them. The Dragon clashes with the boss Devil with renewed strength. It was over in a few short minutes, viscous destructive but short minutes.
As the celestial beings finished the battle and cleaned out the city, the Dragon descended on them, landed menacingly right in front of the Lich, staring eye to eye with her.
They negotiated back and forth (I forgot the exact words) and it seemed that the Dragon had forgiven her involvement, placing the blame fully on Craven, but when she refused to make a promise, he suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed her. Spitting out the pieces of the Lich before the party (Binoll, Jerock, Amaryllis, Yrock and Quill) be addressed them, “She is not destroyed. She knows I know of her other bodies and phylacteries. This was a lesson to her to stay out of my Kingdom.
The Dragon Prince then gave the party his eternal gratitude especially the three who entered the portal. Jerock asked if there was anyway to rescue them. The Dragon told them, no. It was almost certain that they had perished in the other Plane, but he would try to resurrect them after he put his city in order and regained his strength.
The moment they entered the portal Shadows grasped at them and drain some of their strength. Thuynder tries to use his staff to plane shift away, but he cannot maintain his concentration. Beales and Thuynder cannot focus on cleric spells, but they still feel their god, though distantly. Moriah is dazed and confused, but can cast her spells. The plane is an endless plain black shadows flickering like candles flames from one fire to the next. Hundreds of shadow creature surround them, but are confused and do not attack. It seem the three adventurers were not what they expected.
They immediately engage and destroy the Shadows attacking them, but the activity bring more shadows and they must fight them off as well.
An NPC (a cleric they rescued in the bottom level of Craven’s dungeon had recently taught Jerock how to use his turn undead to slowly fill an area with positive holy energy which would bless an area and remove or suppress negative, evil influences. Jerock had taught this to fellow clerics Beales and Thuynder
After some battling with more shadows they notice the shadows arriving are getting stronger. In the distance they see a giant shadow approaching and behind him, something the size of a mountain moves. They realize, they have very little time.
Now, Beales begins to use the turn undead ability to surround the area with positive energy, hopefully enabling Thuynder to use his staff to plane shift them back to their home plane. This leaves Moriah and her spells to keep them safe, free from shadow touch until enough positive energy can be released and Thuynder can concentrate.
She manages to fight off the giant shadow, but the mountainous shadow nears ever closer…
As everyone pitches in to clear the city Jerock grows concerned about Binoll. When he presses him for answers he reveals that during the spell casting on the Lich’s book, Binoll’s soul ended up in Nergal’,s book and Nergal in Binoll’s body. Nergal claims not to know how this happened. and aid the wounded, one of the Celestial angels approaches the party. He seems very interested in Binoll. With his help, Jerock’s concerns are confirmed. In fact, the Celestial being knew of this Nergal, and expressed grave concern about his spirit still being active in the world. After much negotiation, Nergal agreed to not fight the spell to remove him from Binoll, and the Angel restored Binoll to his body, but took possession of the Book of Nergal. Binoll was disappointed to lose Nergal’s knowledge, but was relieved to be free of his evil influence. (He did however, retain many of the spells Nergal had taught him.)
I forget how the main party found out that Thuynder, Beales and Moriah were still alive, (the Dragon prince?) but they did get word that those three were alive, back on this plane, but far, far to the north.
Thuynder, Beales and Moriah had plane-shifted, luckily, to this right continent, only around 500-1000 miles from their friends. In fact they were close to Mythagem. So after some rest, Moriah flew them into the Mythagem mountains and Thuynder’s family connections there got them aid and a place to rest. The next day he arranged for a teleport to Synerg to rejoin their friends and help the city and the Dragon Prince of Synerg.
Their time in the Shadow plane however, had not left them unaffected, ..far from it.