The cart was repaired, with new wheels made of old bows and a temporary weightlessness enchantment so that a single horse could pull it, and transferred to the south gate, which was half-destroyed in a strange way -- the half that was destroyed was enchanted, from the *inside* to look as if it was still whole. It really didn't make any sense to anyone.
Kit's dog Muffin was already waiting there, though. Joyous reuinion!
Anyway, after hiding the cart in a corner under some debris, they decided to head for the south tower where they'd seen an intact alchemy lab. The south gate didn't have any way inside the city proper either, so they were still just looting the wall.
But the corridor to the south tower was full of unstable fire traps. They used the same 'throw a dead body' trick on them, but it didn't work quite as well this time -- one of the fireballs turned into a hostile 'bomb' (which Leen smooshed with an ice block) and another sprayed them with knives (which Cho's energy-shield blocked). So, it worked, but they were put in some danger during the process.
Then they were at the south tower, which seemed suspiciously clean and lived-in. Mira listened at the door, and heard kitchen noises behind it -- not having any reason to suspect there was loot in the kitchen, Kit enlarged the door to jam it shut, and they explored below.
Below was a storeroom. there was a giant (dead) lizard in it, which was odd because there were not doors large enough for giant lizards. Kit moved the giant lizard by animating its corpse, then dismissing the spell as it tried to attack, and behind it was a secret door... into the city! At last, they could go explore the ruins of the missing castle for a back way into the lair proper! But first, looting the south tower.
The third floor (with first being lizard and second being kitchen) was a church and barracks. An empty barracks, and a church to the dragon. They set a simple trap (namely, levitating the statue 'until someone touched it' in the hopes that someone would first touch it from below) and moved on.
The fourth floor was the throne room. The door was locked and trapped, so Leen blew it down with a chunk of ice. Behind it was the King of the Salamanders, looking extremely surprised to see them.
Kit didn't speak his language, but his suggestion spell wasn't language-dependant, so he charmed the king to answer all their questions, planning to drink his potion if the spell hit (and expecting it to fail and someone else to kill the king, like always happened). But Cho could already understand the king somehow, and was able to ask questions that were then answered -- questions like 'how do we get to the dragon's lair secretly' (there are secret tunnels, but the displacer beasts control them) and 'where is *your* treasure?' (in the room over there with my harem). Kit charmed the king further to follow them around and tell his people not to fight them, while they snuck up on the dragon, which worked again -- the king was apparently pretty weak-willed.
The king wanted to tell his Shaman not to attack them right away, since he was just upstairs. The shaman instantly recognized that the king was charmed, and started working a counterspell... so Kit tried to paralyze him and the king both, but managed to get the king only, wrapping him up in vines so that he couldn't move or see or hear (it being the extremely *thoroughh* version of the entangle spell). Then Leen squished the Shaman with a giant ice block.
It seemed like this might mean the jig was up, but Kit had a rather silly plan -- he stacked one of the displacer-beast corpses the shaman had been harvesting for parts on top of the flattened shaman, with the fatal ice block on top of it as if it had killed it, and animated the other to appear threatening. When the king broke out of the plants, he was quickly hurried downstairs before he could see the tableaux clearly, and Cho fast-talked him into beleiving the shaman had thrown in with the displacer beasts to try to assassinate him, but that they'd wrapped him up for his own protection and fought off the beasts.
Mira went up 'to make sure they were all dead' and looted the shaman of several magical items and a bunch (12 each of three different types) of unidentified potions.
The plan was to have the king then lead them to the tunnels, and hand him over to the displacer beasts as a gesture of good faith, for safe passage to the dragon's laire. The king wasn't told the second part of that, of course.
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