It turned out that securing the keystone was all the wood elves needed to end the war -- all the dark elves were coming from the 'Armageddon Echo' and without the keystone, well, they couldn't do that anymore. So the party collected their reward, and went home to sell the huge collection of masterwork weapons and armor they'd looted from their enemies.
The elves had asked them to come back for another job in a few days, so after resting up a bit the party headed back into the forest, where they were attacked by a giant... plant... thing. It tried to eat Kiet, but totally failed, and they chopped it to little bits. Inside, they didn't find any treasure, but they did find a treasure *map* inside an apparently indigestable scroll case. Clearly, this was fate!
It was a little out of the way, but not really very *far*, and soon they'd arrived at the hidden valley that was supposedly the last resting place of an ancient (formerly) flying city. Skirting the dangerous-looking jungle, they fought some wights at a waterfall, and then moved on to the city proper, which was *weird*.
Also, stripped clean, at least the ordinary buildings were. When taking a shortcut towards one of the more interesting-looking structures through an alleyway, they ran into a possible reason why -- a collasal slime mold thing, that they decided to run away from with undue haste. It was too slow to really chase them, at least.
The first odd building they examined turned out to be a sculpture of a giant glass flower. There were skeletons and other trash at the top, and the party was a little leery about investigating because hey, obvious trap? While they were arguing, they were attacked by a pair of randomly wandering invisible stalkers, but between Pix's faerie fire and Tales' glitterdust, they didn't stay invisible for long. Once they were visible, they didn't stay alive for long. Afterwards, Kijji said 'screw it' and flew up to search the trash pile, which to his surprise didn't try to eat him. He found a couple of magical shields, and also brought back a skull which Sin didn't want to waste spell points on casting 'speak with dead' on.
The next unusual building they reached was in the center of the city -- a sort of inverted purple cone. The inside was crackling with lightning, arcing up columns of metal that ran from the floor to the ceiling. The only apparent treasure was a staff embedded in a device past an intimidating collection of those columns, so Kijji brewed up a potion of resist lightning and flew over to investigate. He set off a bunch of lightning traps on the way, but he managed to dodge the worst of it and his anti-lightning shield absorbed the rest. Picks followed in his footsteps to avoid being shocked, since he thought he might be able to get the staff out safely.
It turned out that the only way he could find to remove the staff was to just yank on it. Every time you tried, you'd get shocked, but Kijji was resisting lightning, so who cared? He had to try more than a dozen times [and joked about taking 20] but finally, he removed the staff.
All the power in the building (and perhaps the city) instantly died, except for a lightning bolt that shot out of nowhere and zapped Kijji and Picks. They fled from the machine as fast as they could, but the lightning followed them! It wasn't until after it stopped that they realized that the lightning was coming from the staff they were carrying, and they probably should have split up.
Well, Kijji realized that. Picks was dead. Shirish, fortunately, had a raise dead memorized, along with some Restoration spells to deal with the negative levels.
The staff *was* a powerful magic item, at least... that only Sin could use, since it hated chaotic characters like Kijji and Picks. Specifically, it could cast a fifteenth caster-level chain lightning five times before needing to be recharged. OUCH.
Probably not worth losing a party member, but definately worth 2500gp raising one.
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