Episode summary Edit
Despite the information they received from the Rahjs being almost a month old, they're fairly confident that Zaheer is still within the Shadowfel equivalent of Grandmount, known as Mount Pillar, so they will have to either teleport to the Fadelands equivalent and then planeshift or planeshift and then teleport within the Shadowfel. They choose the former, bringing Mora and Daggerface but leaving Liz, GE-7 and Rainbowdash behind due to the limits of the teleportation spell.
After a brief aside on the use of worker constructs to remove Rainbowdash's faeces, Draven uses sending to coordinate with The Hand through Tobin, arranging for soldiers to guide the site of their linked-eye ritual in the Fadelands. He also takes the opportunity to ask about Vladimir, and learns that he was a rumoured but not previously confirmed fifth king. He also learned that Mount Pillar contains a maze, which jogged Mora's memory of a lost bardic tale concerning a Lich being enslaved by a Vampire King somehow tied to Mount Pillar.
Warned by this knowledge and yet still confident, the party teleport to Grandmount and meet up with Hand agent Westshire Wes and his men. Draven casts the usual buffs, along with mass fly, and the group proceed to planeshift over just outside the range of the spirit shackle within the mountain. They find themselves in the middle of a field of zombies, but since they're all flying it's no big deal. Draven casts hide from undead and begin to ascend the mountain, eventually discovering a ledge on which an 8-foot man is standing between the entrance and what appears to be a 3ftx2ft tombstone engraved "In memory of our beloved Alice; she was taken from us far too soon".
Remembering that they cannot defeat him, the party fly closer and begin to parlay. The man introduces himself as Balvan the Millstone and reveals that he has pledged to Swayne that he will not allow anyone access, although he is not happy about this. He also reveals that Alice was his daughter. There is something of a conversational impasse, but eventually he notices Black's ring of sloth and offers to allow access in exchange for it, claiming that it was taken from him some time ago by Swayne's other servants. However, he will have to pursue them and after 24 hours he will probably catch them. Draven enquires about breaking his bond to Swayne, but all that he learns is that it is "beyond his power" and that it is "more complicated" than simply Swayne holding Alice hostage. However, Balvan definitely wants Swayne dead, although he would consider it dishonourable to kill him himself.
The party enter the mountain, which is dark enough that they need a light source for Black and Mora (the only two party members without darkvision), but thankfully there's a torch built into the photon accelerator. Black casts find the path and requests a route to the spirit shackle, assuming that Zaheer will be held nearby (and regardless, they need to destroy it before they can planeshift out). They go down a spiral staircase and find a narrow passageway lit by green torches. The light is heatless and harmless, like a continual flame spell. The passage diverges into three natural tunnels, one going up, one going down and one level. On the advice of find the path, they take the left branch, heading up. After crossing some water, they come to a wall containing a hidden door and find that they require one of the green torches to open it (find the path is a really useful spell). Angel runs back and grabs a torch and returns within five minutes. The stone slab slides away and they continue.
After a few steps, however, a haze of darkness begins to encroach on them, growing closer with each step. Eventually they are swallowed by the darkness and then ... they are in a village. The village. Their village. They are digging with the other child slaves, exhausted and starving. They yell out in pain as Ralph's whip bites into their shoulder in retaliation for their pause. They spin around and strike his head with the edge of their shovel, then hit him again and flee, having taken the keys to the shackles from his belt.
Black and Angel, having passed their saves, understand on some basic level that they are trapped in an illusion, but the others are fully immersed.
An after credits scene reveals what would have happened had Little One ballista thrown Balvan off the ledge: Balvan would have survived the drop and immediately jumped straight back up. Balvan is not to be trifled with.
This was the first episode to be uploaded via Youtube's "premier" function.