After returning the dryad to her home, the party continued exploring the massive cavern. In the southwest corner they discovered strange markings unlike any other tracks that they’ve seen before. The “tracks” led them to a concealed passage which opened into a series of smaller caves. Within they found strange substances related to gardening, massive gardening tools, and finally a massive laboratory where they encountered the corrupted treant Nockmort. Nockmort informed the heroes that they had come too late to stop the dragon cultists from achieving their goals and then attacked. After he had been defeated the party explored the laboratory and found many notes related to the development of new plant species, including the “dark treant.” The source of the mutations was identified as the purple stones embedded in the ceiling of the main cavern, which apparently fell from the sky many years ago. They also identified the antidote for the disease which had turned the residents of Garland’s Fork into trees and secured a large supply of it.
Moving onward, the group located a profane chapel. Inside they fought a dire wolverine guarding before finding a hidden staircase leading down into another complex. Further explorations led to an encounter with a pit trap and a brief battle with some hobgoblin guards followed by the discovery of a sealed room full of ghouls. The heroes wisely decided to unseal the room and the the ghouls loose so that they could be eliminated for the sake of any future explorers. Having reached a dead end, the party then backtracked towards the stairs and on their way discovered a secret door that had previously gone undetected.
The secret passageway led to a guard station where the guards had clearly been alerted and taken up defensive positions, but a fireball made quick work of most of them. Continuing onward, the group discovered a very long straight stairway leading downward into darkness. Stepping on it unleashed a huge torrent of water, washing some of the heroes down towards the bottom. A series of miscommunications led to the trap being triggered an additional two times, but eventually the entire group ended up safely in the lower level. Near the drain they found some flopping fish and the drowned corpse of a gnome wearing a ring of swimming.
After an encounter with a sea hag posing as a corpse, the party eventually entered an elaborate bedchamber with a small corridor leading to an enjoining room. The sounds of some sort of ritual emanated from the back room. Trying to go down the corridor triggered a series of both magical and physical traps that the party had to fight through. Eventually, the druid was able to take the form of a small animal and navigate the series of traps. He found two cultists, one of which had just completed a ritual involving a glowing glass orb and a massive dragon skull hanging on the wall.
As the characters fought with the cultists, the skull began to levitate and glow. The ghostly image of a skeleton appeared at first and it gradually grew more and more substantial. As the last cultist was slain, the dragon’s corpse let loose an earth shaking roar and tore through the ceiling. The heroes had arrived too late. Pyraxus had been reborn.