Zerak began examining the cavern (from a distance) and concluded that using any large fire based explosives in the cavern anywhere close to the fissures in the earth that had Spellplague energy washing up through, could potentially cause any explosion to magnify by orders of magnitude. Not being exactly sure where they were in relation to the city above and the fact that a really big uncontrolled explosion may bring parts of the city down on their heads (and possibly trap them here), and possibly kill innocents, resulted in a new plan of attack.
They placed one of the black powder casks in the tunnel leading to the cavern. Then they positioned themselves back away from the entrance, and proceeded to make loud noises to attract the monsters to come to them. When the three flumphs were closest to the black powder cask, Zerak used spark to ignite the arrow that Blackwell was going to shoot at it to set it off. That's when he and Zerak discovered what stage three of the strange disease infecting them was. Blackwell uncontrollably and with astonishing speed shot the arrow directly at Zerak and hit him right in the chest! Both of them were completely taken aback for a moment, but recovered quickly. Blackwell grabbed another arrow, lit it off of the now burning Zerak and shot at the cask, this time hitting his intended mark. Zerak, meanwhile, decided that ripping off his burning clothes instead of doing the drop and roll was a better plan to keep himself ready for battle. <i>(Later on, while thinking back, Zerak was truly relieved that Blackwell did not score a critical hit on him with that arrow, for that could have set off the necklace of missiles he was holding onto and resulting in everyone having a really bad day. But back to the story.)</i>
The flumphs were dazed from the blast of the black powder cask and before they could regain their senses, Asphodel threw a bead from the necklace of missiles that Zerak handed him before the ambush started and threw it right where the cask had been. The resulting exploding fireball caused enough damage to kill the three flumphs. Now all they had to do was concentrate on the last three enemies. The three cyclopsian creatures ran into the tunnel and attacked the party with their eye rays, causing several party members cold and electrical damage, but none of them were knocked prone from the eye rays, and generally fared much better against their attackers. Our heroes also figured out that if they used non-lethal attacks for the first strike on each of the two creatures they encountered before, the rest of their attacks against them each round hit hard and hit true. So the party ganged up on each of the creatures one at a time with the first party member's attack for the round being non-lethal and the rest going for broke on the same creature. This proved to be a winning strategy against the three creatures with only a small set back occurring when the larger creature was discovered to be able to rebound the first two attacks each round. But even that did not cause any lasting significant damage to any of our heroes.
After the battle the party gathered up the three newly deceased flumph carcasses for their monetary value in rare components (at least something in this whole dirty business was considered treasure), then carefully made their way past the Spellplague fissures so as not to come in contact with the dangerous energies. When they reached the entrance of the next cavern, they saw the source of the mind controlling disease in Neverwinter in what would have been an awesome display if it wasn't for the fact that it was so entirely dangerous to all living creatures. The cavern was just a maze of fissures in the earth, all spewing forth the telltale translucent blue Spellplague energies. Most fissures had the energies rising about three feet from the ground, but in some places the blue fire was all the way to the ceiling some twenty five feet up, and scored and pitted. And swimming in the middle of these blue flames was a very large aboleth - all scarred and burned from the Spellplague energies but seemingly reveling in it and soaking it all up as it "swam" in the flames. Around it were another six mutated flumphs, all seemingly enjoying the blue flames and the energies they imparted as well.
Not only was this a place extremely hostile to life, it was obvious that any type of black powder explosion would be amplified many, many times over and wound not be a good idea to use (unless they all had a death wish). So Zerak and Jobi both used scrolls of lightning bolt at the aboleth in hopes of damaging it at least a little bit. The lightning bolts successfully hit the aboleth and did indeed caused it some damage. Now that the aboleth and flumphs were aware of the party, they advanced and the battle was on!
Very early on, the flumphs used their sticky goop they spat out to good effect and had up to four party members stuck fast at one time. Zerak cast a very unnerving spell that basically peel his skin off his body and made a construct of himself by animating only his skin. His bloody skinned body was left further back in the cavern tunnel to keep it out of battle. This way he could be immune to any type of mind control that the aboleth may try on the group. Unfortunately, the skin-Zerak was gooped and had virtually no chance of breaking free until the goop wore off five rounds later. Asphodel tried using one of the necklace of fireballs missiles at the group and mad a great throw which landed in the midst of three flumphs and the aboleth. Unfortunately, the resultant fireball explosion appeared actually heal the creatures instead of harming them. And that was the end of using fire-based attacks.
The aboleth was able to use a very powerful psychic attack that not only caused damage to the party members, but also dazed them for a round each time it used the attack. This made it possible for the flumphs to do more damage and wear the party down as the battle wore on. It seemed that no one in the party was immune to taking lots of damage. When the aboleth was near, the flumphs proved that not only could they move in and attack with their tentacles, but if they grabbed a hold os someone with two tentacles, they could also start pulling them back to the aboleth. Somehow the flumphs were granted extra movement, possibly from the aboleth granting them some sort of psychic haste - or by using its bond to them to cause them to act.
In between rounds of being gooped and dazed, the party slowly beat down the six flumphs until only the aboleth remained "standing." Blackwell learned that if he engaged the enemy in melee without any ally nearby, then he wasn't forced to attack his allies before attacking the enemies. So after he fumbled his bow, he resorted to using close in melee attacks, while trying to keep away from the aboleth since he had also sustained quite a bit of damage. Jobi was a victim of the flumphs dragging her into the aboleth's range of its tentacle attacks as well and felt the full force of its rage. Were it any other less heroic person, the attacks that Jobi sustained would have surely been fatal. But by some miracle or luck, she was able to just barely survive the onslaught. And Blackwell rushed in and drug her out of harm's way so she could get healing in relative safety.
Asphodel also learned about the aboleth's caress, taking lots of damage from it's tentacle attacks - so much so that she also needed to back away and heal up before the next round of blistering attacks came her way. But she also got right back in its face and opened her own special can of whoop-ass on the aboleth a couple rounds in a row. When the aboleth was the sole surviving enemy and it had advanced into the middle of our band of heroes, they attacked it from all sides, causing melee and ranged damage all at once. Finally, the aboleth succumbed to its wounds and fell. But as it died, it was so infused with Spellplague energy that it exploded in a great ball of translucent blue fire energy, and bathed practically everyone in the party (except Blackwell, Jobi, and Zerak, who had decided to reunite his body and skin moments before this happened) with the unnatural energies. The blast killed both the Zeva and Abraham, the two Sarenrae clerics who had volunteered to help with this quest. Both were badly burned and scarred from the Spellplague fires that it was a blessing that they died from the blast. For if they had lived, they surely would have been infected with the Spellplague and even in death their bodies were obviously tainted with it.
All of our heroes survived the blast and realized that the strange unknown disease they had be plagued with was now gone and disappeared with the death of the aboleth. Neverwinter was now safe from the mind influencing poisonous thoughts of this aboleth. So our heroes set about healing themselves as best they could with their remaining spells and abilities so they wouldn't be too fragile to make the journey to the sunlit surface of the world. They gathered up the other six bodies of the mutant flumphs and the bodies of the two clerics and started the trek back to the surface of Neverwinter to report to Telliann the good news of their hard fought victory, and to deliver the fallen into the care of Sarenrae's servants at the local temple. And last but not least, receive payment for their services to Neverwinter and its people.
Next week our heroes find out how grateful Neverwinter and Lord Neverember can be. Until next week, good hunting...