After a day of unpleasant yet undisturbed travel through the marshy mangrove swamps, the party rested in a dry clearing. As they made camp, Oracius questioned one of the elven party, Lia’Thoran, on elven ways, curious about their culture after a lifetime in the city. He learned of their reverence for nature, their strong sense of tribal unity, and their martial traditions.
In the morning, the party traveled the remaining distance to the large depression in the swamp where the ziggurat lay. They broke into a large clearing where they saw the massive stepped pyramid, sunken at an angle into the mire of the lake so that only two and a half tiers emerged from the water. After a period of observation they noted the presence of lizardfolk guards stationed near the huge stone aperture at the top of the ziggurat, as well as a small company of lizardfolk patrolling around the citadel. The party approached the citadel from the back, hoping to avoid alerting the guards by the door. Rhaleban, who speaks Draconic fluently, tried to communicate with the patrol when it passed by them, hoping to intimidate the lizardfolk into standing down. However, the lizardfolk patrol split up upon hearing his words, with one member swimming towards the front of the ziggurat and the other moving to attack the party. The lone lizardfolk was easily dispatched, but the other had alerted the company of guards at the front of the ziggurat. The party, with their elven allies, swam across the deep still waters of the marsh before reaching the sunken ruins. On the slimy, vine-choked blocks of ancient stone, the party did battle with the lizardfolk guards, including a powerful blackscale brute and a swamp shaman. In the battle, one of the elves was toppled into the murky water and the massive blackscale moved to seize and drown the elf. Oracius, leaping from the ziggurat, single-handedly attacked the blackscale. The lizardfolk released the elf and grappled with Oracius, who struck at the beast again and again but could not bring it down. With overpowering strength the lizardfolk dragged Oracius beneath the water, and when the battle was finally won, he did not return to the surface.
The party, swearing a brief moment of remembrance for Oracius, had no choice but to sorrowfully continue into the maw of the ziggurat on their mission of cleansing.