With Flash near-inconsolable after the death of Iron Woman, Dove remained by his side to try to ease his suffering. With little time to spare, the others decided to continue on without them.
Leaving the torture chambers behind, Superman, Wonder Woman, Loki and Hyourinmaru continued out onto the cliff face skirting the edges of Azrinae’s fortress. A deep crevice dropped sharply to the side, and buildings smelling of charred flesh stood before them. On investigating, the group spotted a troop of Drow soldiers. Unfortunately the Drow spotted them too and sounded an alarm. The two forces collided, the Drow proving hopelessly outmatched by the powerful Pathfinders.
One of the Drow escaped into a nearby watchtower. Hyourinmaru and Loki ran to cut him off, leaving the Justice League elders to deal with the Drow reinforcements on their own. Loki stabbed at the fleeing minion, but accidentally let his grip slip – passing his alien weapon to the Drow. Hyourinmaru flew up into a window to cut him off, and the Drow attempted to use the staff to blast him – but the force of the staff’s energy was apparently weak.
As Loki tried in vain to retrieve his staff, a powerful blast of magic struck him from behind. He felt his body turn to dust, only to somehow will himself whole once more. While he caught his breath, Hyourinmaru cast see invisibility on himself, and saw the form of the one responsible – a Drow illusionist of House Azrinae. Hyourinmaru and the Illusionist swapped spells, blasting at each other with little effect. Meanwhile the soldier who had escaped earlier sounded an alarm, a loud horn which summoned a swarm of alien akata to the watchtower.
The akata flowed over the watchtower like a tide, clawing to get inside any entrance possible. The weight caused the ancient structure to buckle and lean. Finally it gave way, collapsing off the side of the cliff. Though Hyourinmaru and Loki and followed the Drow mage out of the building, Azrinae cocooned them all with her against the watchtower. Killing herself in the process, the building and heroes fell and rolled down the hill. With incredible concentration, Hyourinmaru managed to cast a disintegration spell and blast a hole in the wall. He crawled out and clung to the cliff face. Superman grabbed Loki and flew out just as the building crashed into the canyon floor below.
Together and safe, the group continued on to the edge of the cliffside trail – the entrance to Allevrah Azrinae’s innermost sanctum. Spending time to properly protect themselves with every means of magic possible, the Pathfinders decided to let Loki do the talking. They knocked on the door, and a tiefling invited them inside cordially. Inside they beheld the majestic Azrinae Hall, a massive chamber of polished marble and velvet rugs. The building was rather well-lit for a Drow building, and reeked of opulence and nobility. Allevrah herself stood from her throne to greet the visitors.
“Well,” she began. “If it isn’t the famed Acolytes of Doom. Led by the trickster, no less. I don’t know how you made it this far, but you will go no further. You have lost.”
The Pathfinders looked among themselves in curiosity. “Acolytes? Us?” Loki asked.
“Tell me,” Allevrah expanded, Where does Doom reside? Oh, that’s right. You never sought him out. You never hunted him, as you have me. Why is that, I wonder? If you are not Acolytes, then you are blind fools. Whether by design or arrogance, you have done his bidding. Every Drow you killed, every monster you slayed, has been Doom’s plan. He set the path, and you have followed – at every… single… step."
Hyourinmaru nodded and muttered to himself, having suspected this for weeks.
“I presume you came for the Shard,” Allevrah deduced. “I also presume you are ignorant to Doom’s intent.” Finding no answer, she continued. “The Sihedron controls the fate of anyone or thing the wielder chooses. Doom sees Galactus as a weapon. He doesn’t want to destroy him. He wants to control him. With Galactus as his slave, he can shape entire galaxies at his will. But he needs this Shard. He couldn’t claim it himself, so he sent you after me. But we can stop him. Together. I can show you where he is.”
With that, Azrinae summoned a mystic portal that could teleport the group strait to Doom himself. As they decided on what to do next, Hyourinmaru urged Loki to ask why she had summoned Galactus in the first place. Azrinae explained that Golarion had grown “corrupted” and twisted over the centuries. Galactus would wipe the slate clean, forming a new foundation from which the Drow could rebuild. Though Hyourinmaru, Superman and Wonder Woman will still rather ignorant of Galactus’ abilities, Loki merely shook his head at the naivety of the Drow.
Azrinae once more offered to transport the party, but first required the Shard of Wrath as a “token of good faith.” Loki said they didn’t have it and – in a brief lapse of judgement – mentioned that it was on The Watchtower. Azrinae then said she would claim it herself, and though Loki offered to get it himself, she insisted. The heroes knew that Azrinae would soon, then, attack the Watchtower in an effort to retrieve the Shard. As Loki had no commitment to the Pathfinders, he merely shrugged in defeat and stepped through the portal. Enraged at his “betrayal,” Hyourinmaru drew his katana and chased after him. Superman and Wonder Woman, stood back-to-back. Though resisting Azrinae would likely mean their own death, they were not about to let the Watch Tower – its people, equipment and treasures – fall into Dark Elf hands…