As the party settles down to prepare dinner, they hear a series of roars in the distance- a lion, ram and dragon- all in unison. When they investigate they find a chimera roaming the valley below their cliff. Mounting a clever ambush, they roll a boulder onto the beast!
Before it had time to react, Hedge and Erick leap into the fray and descend on the beast with plunging strikes, while Grumbar and Crixus pelted it with spells from above. The beast only got to take one turn before it was destroyed (although it gave Hedge quite a fright).
During the battle, Crixus attempted to envoke the power of Soriadar, the Draconic Goddess of Magic and Gems, but instead his prayer was answered by Zotha! Zotha gloats that after the party freed him from his diseased body, his astral form was transported to the Plane of the Draconic Pantheon. While all of the Dragon Gods were weakened from the sudden loss of all their dragon worshippers, Zotha was stronger than ever.
He took out Soriadar first. She was the weakest, for she lent much of her power to Crixus (and received not so much as a concerned word in return, because Crixus.) She cried out for her only follower as Zotha tore the divine spark out of her.
After he steals her magical portfolio, he moves on to dethrone the rest of the Dragon Gods. All of it belongs to Zotha now.
They returned to camp and wrapped up their night, and awoke to level 5! Brimming with confidence, the party enters the mouth of Mount Mourngrym.
As they search the cave, Grumbar demonstrates a curiously thorough knowledge of the mountains layout. He leads them through a passage so well hidden that even a perception of 20 did not reveal, passing through an illusion to discover a beholders tunnel leading straight up; farther than the eye can see.
They realize that Hedge could make the climb, but nobody else could without taking dangerous levels of exhaustion. Deterred by the difficulty of the climb, they return to the entrance and pass through an underground river. As they pass, Erick loses a boot in the mud. When he retrieves it, he disturbs a school of jellyfish! The squishy little beasts attack madly until the party escapes to dry land. All of their possessions, including their torches and lanterns, were soaked in the process.
They exit into a well lit room full of extremely lifelike statues, all with faces contorted in terror. Most of them are humanoid, but there are some minions such as kobolds to be found as well. Vincenzo recognizes two of his co-workers from when he worked with Flagg – (don’t forget that Flagg’s true nature is only known to the party) -
Steve and Jane.
Crixus retrieves from his pouch a single potion of softening that he had purchased from Jiggerslug, and the party revives Steve. Steve is dressed in rags, like a goblin, and appeared emmaciated and beaten. He tells the party of the terrifying beholder tyrant Vexamir that rules this mountain. His lair is at the very highest levels, as well as his arcane workshop and the chambers of his most favored servants.
The lower levels are populated with lesser beholders, such as spectators and gazers, which Vexamir tolerates because they amuse him; as well as the slaves that tend to the maintenance of the lair.
As Steve concludes his tale, Hedge notices a single seashell clinging to Steves temple. It looks just like the one they saw on Dark Vincenzo and the three they took from the Aboleth they slew. Hedge asks about it, but Steve seems to be unaware of its presence. Hedge snatches the strange device and shows it to him, but Steve is unable to perceive it at all, simply saying “it doesn’t look like anything to me.”