The druid's attempt to turn into a roc to carry the dwarves was stymied by the unfortunate fact that a roc was a magical beast, and the druid was only able to turn into 'medium' magical beasts and needed something 'huge'. The fastest 'huge' thing that Ironhoof could manage, that flew, was an unusually large pterydactyl. Since in that shape he was almost as slow as the dragonne, they decided to stick together, with both Lilia and Alex tied to the dragonne's back.
They encountered several monsters which had no way of reaching them in the air, and were actually over the highest point of the pass, on the way down to their destination, when they finally ran into some air bandits -- a bunch of crow-like humanoids dual-wielding katanas. They almost missed each other, in fact -- only noticing each other when they were very close -- and then the enemies... disappeared. And started to slice the party to ribbons, invisibly.
They took a few blind swings at the spot where they thought the enemies were after attacking them, and hit a few times, but decided that fighting invisible creatures was a losing proposition, especially tied together as they were. Lilia cast Haste to make the dragonne and pterydactyl faster, and they flew into the clouds so that *both* sides would be blind, and tried to outrun their attackers. It took another haste spell -- and a summoned air elemental to dissuade the most persistent of the Tengu -- but they eventually managed to elude pursuit.
Finally, they reached Rally, and decided to land outside and approach on the ground. The guards at the gate asked their business, but 'we're here to resurrect all these dead bodies' didn't seem to phase them. "Temple District's that way." The only opposition they found was the persistent, sickening smoke that blanketed the entire city, seeming to come from the large fortresslike compound in the center. They weren't too curious about it, though -- they already knew that tons of coal were being shipped here, so something huge and burny wasn't a big surprise.
So, soon, everyone was alive again, and the dwarves wanted to go home. Home home, not Black Run, but Alex shamed them into agreeing to fulfil their contract since the Black Run folks had just paid thousands of gold to get them brought back to life. There would be no pterodactyl ride back, though -- at least not right away.
Ironhoof and Alex needed to do some studying, so they spent the rest of the day on that. Ironhoof wanted to reasearch the Seed without arousing too much suspicion, so he found a druidic library and paid the sage who owned it to let them have it for the day, with no one else hanging around. There were various scrying and spying things in the library, but a once-over by Alex blocked or obscured them so that they could have real privacy, and then Ironhoof spent the whole day... not finding out very much. He was sure the answer was there in the books, but he wasn't quite skilled enough in the relevant kinds of magic to interpret them. What he *did* gather was that artifacts of this type were generally one-shot items with an area effect measured in miles -- he just had no idea what it might do.
Alex spent the time scribing spells into her own spellbook from a book she'd stolen from the ice-naga wizard they'd defeated in crossroads -- she'd decided to learn magic but was starting from scratch.
While they were in a major city, they decided to take another day and do some shopping -- they had plenty of crap to unload. Including the very expensive and very contraband Banner of Crusades, which would only function in the hands of someone dedicated to the cause of a god. The legally correct thing to do would be to turn it in to the city guard and hope that there was some sort of finder's fee for keeping such a dangerous object out of the hands of cultists, but the more profitable thing was to find the black market and sell it there.
It took a couple hours to find directions to the black market that seemed legitimate -- it was hidden in the sewers, among the undead. On the way there, in a circular room with a huge pit in the middle, they ran into a pack of zombies. Alex was in front, scouting, and took out two of the two dozen zombies instantly; Ironhoof summoned a flaming sphere and took out another... and then five of the zombies charged faster than expected and starting flailing around with HORRIBLY VICIOUS CLAWS.
They soon determined that only the fast zombies were a threat, but the dragonne and eidolon (and Ironhoof himself!) were badly wounded by their... suspiciously axe-like claws. Everyone who fought them quickly discovered that the zombie disguise was just an illusion. But with Artican back, turning the real undead (to dust) and healing the people who got hurt, the were eventually able to kill all the 'zombies' and unmask them as more Duergar mercenaries. One of them had a note -- they'd been sent after the seed -- but there was no indication of who had sent them, other than that the note was in orcish so, maybe an orc? They were in the orcish capital, though, so that didn't narrow it down much.
At the Black Market, they were met with some suspicion that their banner was real, since it was currently blank, since no one present believed deeply enough in any god to activate it. It *identified* as a Banner of Crusades... they were offered 25k immediately, or 50k the next day if they let the buyer take it and put it through the wringer to dispel any magic aura spells and verify that it was really what they claimed, and they decided to take option 2, leaving it in the criminal merchant's hands in return for the promise of gold later.
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