With the extensive damage to the ship, the group was forced to put in at Waset and seek another ship to take them north to Al-Qods. They had little luck — with the Crusade on the way, few captains dared sail into Al-Qods; in fact, many were fleeing the war south. Accepting their docking fee, a warfinger (name of Wade) bid them good luck; sadly, none was to be found. To seal their fate, the city was flat-out refusing to allow ships to depart northward.
Desperate, the adventurers turned to the local nobility — the queen of Waset — for permission to depart, thinking they would be able to buy a captain so long as the way was cleared. After frustrating delay at the hands of the court advisor, they were ushered in to see… the advisor. Who refused them permission to depart. Once more frustrated, they turned to leave, only to be stopped by the queen herself, demanding their reasons for wishing to travel to Al-Qods — seizing the opportunity, they explained the nature of their mission, the Key of Knowledge, and the matching door in Al-Qods. Rather than allow them to depart, though, the queen ordered Uni, the bearer of the Key, detained. As the elf was marched from the room, the rest were banished — only the perceptive Abdul noticed her eyes briefly flicker red as she declared, “She has something that does not belong to her.”
The rest of the group sought rest in an inn/tavern in town. While there, they overheard a bum named Bobbo spouting a theory that the queen had been possessed. Intrigued, the group questioned him, and learned that the queen, who had a habit of making rounds in the residential regions of Waset, had never visited the slums of the city until a few days ago. He agreed to take them to another bum — Jimbo — who claimed that the queen had been switched for an imposter!
Jimbo took them from the city out into the vast southern desert, to an area where he claimed he had lost sight of the original queen (though, how he knew one place from another in the ever-changing desert was a mystery). Refusing to proceed further, he left the group to explore the area. They stumbled upon an odd stone chamber, buried by the sands; within waited a manticore. Abdul, fearless and immune to the creature’s venom, led the assault, slaying the creature in mere moments.
Behind its carcass was a door to a room containing the true queen, Sameera, whom they escorted back to the city, marching on the palace. The guards gave no resistance, allowing their queen past, until, in the study, she came face-to-face with herself. The imposter’s eyes flashed dangerously. Father “Badass Incarnate” Greg simply smiled and, walking forward, pressed the Amulet of Metatron against the imposter’s forehead.
“Hi Asteroth, old buddy; ready to get your face dicked in again?”
These nearly turned out to be famous last words; the demon, bursting forth from the imposter’s body, hurled Greg across the study; the priest collapsed at the foot of the bookshelf that had nearly broken his spine. But the words also turned out to be prophetic; in a few seconds, the adventurers had crushed the demon’s physical form — and any hopes it had about ending their quest.
Forced to retreat, it vanished, reappearing in the door to the study, and declaring that they were too late to save their elf friend, vanished again. Racing through the back door to of the study, the adventurers plus one queen arrived at the dungeons just in time to see Asteroth standing over an unconscious Uni. With a final growl, the demon vanished, leaving them to recover before once more setting out north.