Upon exiting the portal to the Shadow Realm, the party found themselves thrust into a perpetual twilight, a dark and twisted version of the world back home. The same forest stood in front of them, but gray and dead and uninviting. The mountainside cave lay behind them as well, but something black and scaly replaced the red dragons that lay within.
Having seen them exit their portal carrying eggs of stone, the old Shadow Dragon recognized in the party the fulfillment of an old prophecy, and beckoned them to him. He told them he would not hurt them if they followed him, that he had foreseen their coming, and that they would be welcome inside where the winds of smoke and the denizens of the shadows would not follow.
When the party re-entered the cave, what they found was similar in size and shape, but wholly and completely different otherwise. The once smoke blackened stone of the interior was now shiny and sharp volcanic glass, and the interior of the cavern was lit with colorful magical auras. The air smelled of sulfur and hot metal, and the tall creatures which almost slithered with silent purpose across the floor in dark flowing robes were not kobolds, but Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers. Mind Flayers, unlike any creature the party had encountered before, were creatures of unparalleled intelligence, tall and bipedal, with slimy green and purple skin, Cthulu-esque beards of tentacles hanging from their squidlike beaks, some tied together with strips of leather. A group of them stood casting magic into a cauldron filled with magma, and only a few of them took more notice of them than one would a stray cat. By comparison in both size and intelligence, the party may as well have been just that, a small herd of cats.
Soon, a retainer appeared. An Illithid in slightly more human lookign clothing introduced himself and said that the Shadow Dragon had instructed him to bring you further into the cavern, to the dragon’s grotto. Waiting in the grotto were several more opulently dressed Illithids, who seemed to teem with excitement at the sight of them, unlike the others in the outer caverns. They were soon approached by a group of these, who turned out to be priests of the great intelligence, and who related the prophecy that had been given to them so long ago. A group of men and women, bearing eggs, would appear to lead the Illithids back to their rightful home, and help them place the rightful king, whom they had raised themselves, back onto his throne.
A grand feast ensued, with music and games of intellectual (and telekinetic) skill, and introductions to the young Prince Volfkinder, a quiet and intelligent lad with a neutral demeanor and a wild head of black hair. The party was given leave to explore the temple home of the Illithids at their leisure, though they were warned not to go lower than the highest level, as the lower levels were much more dangerous due to their lack of influence over the normalcy of the realm beyond the reach of their magical auras. Even Illithids who ventured into the lower levels came back… different, changed, and not in a good way. Surprisingly, the group acquiesced, and kept to the upper levels, choosing to explore, converse, and shop, rather than explore the dungeon below.
Lisa, in an effort to gain some leeway with the Illithids, introduced them to some of the greatest composers and sheet music of our time, and the Illithids, in exchange, promised her discounts, and a very special gift later on. Ethan and Andrew took part in games of chance, in turn gaming the Illithid running the games by preventing him from reading their minds and actually making the rigged game a true game of chance, which they lucked out and won. Others took the time to converse with Prince Volfkinder, finding out that he was the illegitimate son of the now-lich lord Maximus DePelorgras, and therefore, one of the true heirs to the Kingdom of Sanguinous Imperium.
After spending some weeks preparing, Ethan brokered a deal with the Illithids to bring them back to their home, and when the Illithids were safely through, parted ways with them to return to the party’s keep. Prince Volfkinder elected to remain with the party, which was accepted, and the group made their way back to the keep where they would prepare to rescue Ethan’s captured Airship.