Therendor 1, 1001 YK
The Eclipse Collective is stunned for several hours while the “operation” apparently proceeds on Iadoes Lunaformer, though the ulitharid Quasator reveals little of its nature save for some images projected to Zil’dejin’s mind. It seems quite gruesome, but attempts to recover Iadoes are unsuccessful for the time being. Quasator promises he will be returned more or less intact.
The ulitharid also requests the party’s aid in clearing the 9th floor of the pyramid of Vult, which is occupied by enemy mind flayers (though he does not elaborate on their nature and refuses to say their name). In exchange, he will give back Nimozaran the Green’s brain. The party reluctantly agrees and goes back to the cargo bay to await docking at the pyramid, during which time they witness the destabilization of the clones as the majority of them die in pastiches of their real-world deaths.
The Nautiloid docks at the huge pyramid of glass, steel, and crystal. During the docking, the clones of Cecil and presumably Stahlstrauss die as well. They are followed by mind flayers accompanying slaves, which nearly drives Zil’dejin into a frenzy, though he resists the temptation to attack. Quasator gives them a choice of two paths to the next level up: through the slave district, or through the dangerous “Custodians’ districts”. They choose the latter to stop Zil’dejin from killing the mind flayers out of rage, and they head there after being given some strange stimulant injectors by the mind flayers. The follow into the Custodian district, repel an ambush by the elf-like Custodians (featuring the “Derli bomb” combo attack), and prepare to enter the next district when there is another Custodian ambush. Both mind flayer escorts are killed and the party is taken to meet Yaun Vax, their leader, who offers to guide them through the upper levels if they defeat the illithids’ leader on the second level, Verioth the Voiceless, who plots something involving the “Furnace,” a structure in the basement levels of the pyramid. The party agrees, but Yaun Vax cautions them against attacking the creature who is supposedly very powerful.
The Custodians guide the party to the “Grav Tubes,” allowing them to reach the pyramid’s second level, which appears also residential but of higher quality than the level below in terms of architecture. Here, Derli confronts Verioth and against several warnings and chances to leave, including an offer for Verioth to help the party in exchange for defeating a lunar dragon in the Furnace called “Tsaokeckos,” Derli challenges Verioth to combat. The battle is long and bloody, in which Derli dies twice. The first, he is raised by the Oinodaemon with substantially more corruption (making him more warlock than paladin and giving him a terrifying appearance), and the second he is revived by clone-Derli taking his place by absorbing his soul through the Blade of Greed. Derli rips off the head of the dragon after Zil’dejin wounds it to near-death.
The party rests for a moment. Zil’dejin has suffered a concussion and a broken arm, Derli is frighteningly corrupted, and both Rilic and Zil’dejin have sustained some psychological damage from the brainstealer dragon’s psychic intrusions. While they rest, they hear the Grav Tubes activate, and several mind flayers appear, called by Verioth’s psychic death-scream.