Having retrieved the last item they needed from around Sigil, the party returned to the tower, collected the Gith, and climbed up to the portal chamber. There, there was a hologram of Sigil -- which was in ruins, and getting worse by the minute -- and of the battle at the base of the spire, that the forces of evil were slowly winning. Only a single, narrow strip of light remained, the rest of the base of the tower shrouded in darkness, from which shadow creatures would periodically surge forth and attack, only to boil in the light and evaporate. Good's counterattacks were likewise futile, as the face of Celeste's mother would emerge from the darkness and eat them, whenever it looked like they were making progress.
So, portal! The stairs continued up until they ended, so they figured that's where the portal was. Asm ran up the stairs... and there was no portal. Fortunately, she could fly. They eventually figured out that they needed to use the ash and the silver sword to reveal and open the portal, and them Asm went through, sucking Beware with her for some reason. Celeste tricked the rest of the party into following them before her, promising to be right behind them -- and then tried to sneak off, not wanting to face her mother, and be transformed into the Lady of Pain even if they won. But the gith was having none of that, and shoved her through.
As each person passed through, they were interrogated by Aio, the God of Gods, and asked to choose between 'Insight' and 'Power'.
"Power," Beware said.
"Very well. The forces of evil will have parity in this fight, in the name of balance."
"Fine, fine, I'll go with insight. I'm sick of the damn balance -- it was balance that got us here."
Presumably, the other conversations went in a similar fashion. Varnix, Asm, and Beware chose insight, while Heyyou and Ariel chose power.
They found themselves in a white room, with the battle below faintly visible in ghostly form, and duplicate evil versions of themselves across from them -- only with Celeste's mother in place of Celeste. Each side knew that they had to kill the others, if they wanted to save the world/ensure the world's destruction. (The room also wrapped around to either side although that turned out not to matter much.)
The people who'd chosen insight were given the ability to always hit with any attack, while those who chose power always did maximum damage if they did hit. Their counterparts had the opposite ability. The evil Beware cackled in glee -- the party's nads were weak, and he could kick them in the nads very hard.
On the good side, Celeste cast her treasure chest to lure several of the enemies (Evil Asm, Evil Varnix, and Evil Heyyou) into a cluster, where Ariel and Beware (and Celeste herself) blasted them with AoEs. Beware tried to focus on Evil Varnix, while Heyyou and Asm tried to cross the battlefield to take on Celeste's mother before she unleashed her evil powers. Unfortunately, while the dark mother didn't do much (she was slowed, distracted by the battle below) she was almost impossible to attack -- anyone who tried changed their minds and had to attack someone else. In Asm's case, this generally made her lose her turn.
Evil Beware likewise went after Varnix, who'd been left all on his lonesome after a crashing wind power by Evil Ariel pushed everyone else away from him. Evil Ariel and Evil Asm used smaller AoEs or pseudo-AoEs to hit several people, but the good side wasn't as bunched up as the bad side -- and in aggregate, evil was taking more hits. Evil Varnix was taken down, came back from the dead with his epic power, was taken down again and came back from the dead thanks to Evil Beware 'sacrificing' himself to save him [it really just cost him a turn], and then was taken down a *third* time and stayed down. Evil Asm also got taken down twice, out for the count, while Evil Beware bounced twice but was still up and Evil Heyyou bounced once.
The only casualties on the good side were Beware -- who bounced thanks to the rage of the winter phoenix -- and Ariel, who resurrected as a thunderstorm, but since they were only taken down *once* each they were still fighting.
Oh, and the good gith got caught in some splash damage and killed, because she was a minion. The evil gith dissolved into goo and vanished, about a round later.
A round after the two evil adventurers died, Asm (who was hurting badly) and Varnix (who was at -50 hp, on the verge of death) did NOT dissolve and vanish. Instead, they were instantly brought back to full health, with all their used powers refreshed!
...and Celeste's mother (who'd shown off a bit of her power in her slowed state, dominating several members of the good party and making them attack each other) turned her attention from the battle below to the battle going on in front of her, desperate to regain the momentum the evil side had just lost.
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Eric was NOT happy with another mirror match. "New rule for the group. NO MIRROR MATCHES." Other people were kind of overwhelmed; several of us were playing two characters because Varnix and Asm's players were missing, and we had to play both the good and evil versions of each character. Three rounds of combat -- we got to the top of turn four -- took about four hours.