Once the werebeasts fled, the party continued making its way to the ruins of the ancient elven city. Soon the woods became silent, and Xamanthe explained that they were now in the Encircling Wood, an enchanted stretch of woodlands surrounding the ancient ruins. The uninitiated find themselves taken on a path around the city and completely bypass the city without ever knowing any better. She taught the rites necessary to overcome the Wood to the group and soon they entered the ruins.
A cloud of gray blotted out the sun withing the Encircling Wood, and a gray ash fell like snow and covered most buildings. Brushing aside some of the ash on a ruin they passed, the party soon realized that the ash was eating away at the very stone of the buildings.
Passing a lake to their north, Xamanthe explained that the ruins north of the lake were overrun with demons, and though the demons were not legion, the fey find replacements for those demons slain every time they enter the ruins. Moving to the west, they encountered a recently slain fey patrol being picked over by a pack of ghouls. Before they could engage the pack, the ghouls looked to the north and fled the scene. As the party took cover behind the ash-covered ruins, a squad of demons came into view. The large wolf at the head of the demons transformed before their eyes into an incredibly attractive demonic man. Three of the short, mannikin-like demons with claws the size of daggers loped up behind the shapeshifting demon and spied the party hiding behind the ruined buildings. Soon the battle was joined. The barlgura demons entered they fray. After taking some serious damage from Zin, the shapeshifter smiled at Diego and possessed the warrior.
Diego was able to fight off the incubus, which immediately jumped into Zin’s body. It was unable to keep Zin under control however, and soon the entire party targeted the demon, ignoring its minions until the leader was dispatched. Soon the incubus was slain, and turned to sludge on the ancient street. Soon the final two demons were fleeing north from whence they came. Unfortunately, they were not fast enough and both lay moldering on the ground.
Following the directions Xamanthe was given, they took the street south to the nearest intersection and followed the street on the left north which would take them to the religious quarter. At the next intersection, they heard the sounds of a blacksmith at work to the south, but chose not to investigate.
As they neared the end of the street, they hid from a patrol of wraiths led by a banshee. Taking refuge in side ruins, they spied the nearby temples. The ivory tree of Corellon was free of ash and had golden leaves that seemed to be in bloom, a large passage entered the trunk at ground level, and many openings existed in the trunk like windows or arrow slits looking out upon the city. They could also make out the symbol of raven-cloaked Labelas Enorieth, God of Longevity, a Temple dedicated to Sehanine the Moon Goddess and Goddess of love and stealth, and a temple with decidedly dwarven motifs. The last temple was a smaller building, but they were behind the building and could not see any motifs.
While they waited, Elias asked Ioun if there was any knowledge of Argent in the ruins and received a negative response. Soon the patrol was out of sight, and they made their way into the circular courtyard between the temples. In the center of the courtyard was a huge fountain of the elven pantheon, untouched by the ash. The symbol on the last temple was of a large open book, above which floated an all-seeing eye. Knowing that this was Ioun’s temple, they entered.
The main level was taken up by a large worship area and was dedicated to the elven god Mnenesenia, Goddess of Wisdom and Study, unknown by modern-day Eldar. There was apparently a huge battle here in the past, though it was obvious that many of the combatants had been removed, or had risen where they fell.
Making their way up to the second floor, they found the burnt-out husk of a library level. On investigating however, the large pile of ash and bodies in the center of the room rose and attacked, bursting into flame as it did so. Emerging from the cinders three zombies also burst into flames, and finally two skulls became wreathed in black flames and rose to attack. As the zombies moved in, the flameskulls began firing off rays of black fire while the cinderhouse rolled its bulk to the attack. The fires around each were so intense that even proximity to the undead burned the party. The tables were turned however when Elias used his gifts from Ioun to smite the undead multiple times. Soon the zombies fell, and then the cinderhouse. The flameskulls however, flew out the arrowslits and headed north.
Frustrated, Zin and Xamanthe used every trick at their disposal to stop the fleeing skulls and managed to destroy one before it got away. However, one did escape.