Receiving the map and the shard from Amhapar, the group departed directly for the City of Glass, hoping that the great dragon could give them some insight into how to defeat Montu Chezzak. Shackleton led them through the desert sands, following the ancient landmarks and the clues given to him by Amhapar, until finally they stood in the spot where the city should be. All around them, the desert sands twisted in the emptiness, showing no signs of the ancient ruin. But when Tierel held the glass shard up to her eyes, she was suddenly able to see the towering city walls in the light of the setting sun. When they grew closer, the city itself suddenly appeared like a shimmering heat haze, the last rays of the setting sun refracted through the glass walls.
As the sun went down, the group cautiously made their way into the city, wary of the unknown terrors that might lurk within. As they traveled the ancient streets, they noted that many of the features of the city still remained, but all was turned to glass. Giants, elf slaves, animals, plants, strange vehicles and buildings – all were now statues of blackened and sand-scraped glass. Giant figures stood frozen in running positions, or cowering from some terror above them. Others sat inside the glass houses, still feasting on dishes that had turned into glass with their eaters, and drinking from glasses that had contained no liquid for millennia.
As they approached a small crossroads, Ral stopped to examine some plants in a small garden that had been petrified, their brittle leaves snapping easily off in his hand. Looking up, he saw three gigantic figures moving through the darkness towards the group, one from each of the roads leading to their position. Finding themselves trapped, they fought bravely against the animated statues of the ancient giants. The giant’s hands were broken and cracked, making their attacks that much more dangerous from the sharpness of the broken glass. Anton took a wicked hit from one of the giants, laying open his side and nearly felling him. After finally defeating the giant statues, Anton healed himself with holy power and the group continued their explorations.
Moving further into the city, the group found themselves walking along a curved street, the houses above them decorated with odd glass statues and gargoyles. Mal was distracted by the walls as they walked past them, noticing that the pattern of light reflected through the broken and chipped glass had a familiar pattern to it. Stopping to examine it, he realized that the patterns constantly moving through the glass resembled Dragonmarks. Ral suggested that perhaps the city itself had some connection to the draconic Prophecy, which caused Mal to reel back away from the walls, warning the others about the dangers of trying to understand too much about the Prophecy. Suddenly, the group was set upon again by more glass giants, now accompanied by glass mephits who used their breath weapons to heal their larger allies. The battle was hard fought once again, but the group prevailed, shattering the statues and driving off the mephits.
As they moved towards the middle of the city, they found a large open courtyard, filled with blowing sand and dust devils. Overhead, the moons shone brightly enough to give a clear view across the empty space. As they began to enter it, the ground itself rose up, and a massive dragon’s head the size of a house emerged from beneath the ground. As the great dragon Sunataderapophis stepped out of the earth, it closed neatly beneath him, and the massive being regarded the little intruders to his domain. Mal stepped forward and politely addressed the dragon, presenting the glass shard and apologizing for the intrusion into his city. The dragon collected the shard, and in a voice like the rumbling earth asked Mal what boon the Asherati had come to ask of him. Mal told him they had come on behalf of all the desert to ask the dragon’s aid in defeating Montu Chezzak.
The dragon sat back and considered this for a moment. As he thought, he turned his head side to side, examining the large buildings on either side of him, apparently studying the dragonmarks as they shifted and changed on the glass around him. Finally, he declared that it was apparently time, and agreed to aid the group. From his massive scales he produced a large flat violet stone, sparkling from within with power. He told them that this was a Shard of Arcane Endowment, and that if one among them that could use magic were to strike Montu Chezzak with it, it would turn him to glass just as the giants of the city had been. However, they would need to get close to him to use it, and land a solid blow for it to have effect. Mal graciously thanked the dragon for this gift, and the dragon informed him it was a loan, not a gift, and he expected it returned. He also informed them that the price of this gift was that they were to bring the remains of Montu Chezzak back to him, along with the Shard.
Looking around at his companions, Mal felt emboldened to ask for another favor. Addressing the mighty dragon again, he asked if there was anything else he could give that would aid them in getting the prize the dragon wanted. The mighty beast narrowed his eyes at this request, but after considering it for a moment reached back beneath his scales and produced six rings, casting them unceremoniously onto the sands between them. He told them these rings would protect them from the worst of Montu’s magic and perhaps even the odds in their battle. However, he said, bringing his massive head down to their level and fixing them with his powerful gaze, the rings were very valuable and must also be returned when their task was done. His gaze seemed to linger on Tierel for a moment, and then he turned and dove back into the sands, vanishing like a stone thrown into a pond. Their audience at an end, the group quickly left the haunted city and made their way back to Al Shiraz once again.
Montu Chezzak was far more powerful than the PCs, as was ably demonstrated in the battle in the Valley of the Marru. The rings the dragon gave them were Epic Rings of Fire Immunity, which would allow them to shrug off the worst of his magic (including the dual fireballs that killed Malaxder), but Montu also had a feat that would allow him to damage creatures with immunity to fire. This meant that the group would be mostly safe from the worst of his magic, but I could really pull out the stops with Montu and have him use his most powerful abilities without having to worry too much about killing everyone first turn. When I told them the market value of the rings (240,000 gp), Tierel actively considered trying to find a way to keep them. I warned her that would give her a dangerous enemy, and she decided it wasn’t worth it. :)