Yesterdays session went a little differently, however. In the first real battle against enemy mages, the party kicked the door in on the Ghoul King's council chamber and attacked the council. The leader of the council arrogantly ordered their immediate surrender - which they didn't do. The party leader was hit by magic missile after magic missile and in one round went from full health to being pounded to the ground and knocked prone. That was a shock to the system!
The party rallied quickly, however, with the party mage passing on his broach of shielding to negate the effects of further pounding. Battle commenced for real now, with the council members proving to be no match for the fighters at close range. The party mage even went one on with his quarter staff and started cracking skulls. Mirror images did not help the council, soon they were all dead. The group learned an important lesson here though; No matter what your armour class - even though the Wyvern Hunter's is -2 - doesn't matter a jot against magic missiles!
A little later, the party entered the throne chamber of the Ghoul King himself. Guarded by a skeletal dragon, the party were happy to talk with him a while, discovering he intended to 'emerge from the shadows with his army and sweep upon the world like a plague of rats'. I think this probably confirmed to the players that they should get rid of this guy. However, they did not feel they were in a fit state to attempt this and so made a deal with the Ghoul King. He would let them live, if they agreed to steal his ally's dark magics. His ally is the Queen of the Serpent City. The group agreed to this and rested up to full health in the tower.
Now at full power, they stormed back in to the Ghoul King's throne room and attempted to rid of the world of this guy once and for all. It went disastrously wrong for them!
The two fighters got within ten feet of the skeletal dragon and hit its aura of fear. Two failed saving throws later and both are cowering in fear on the floor. The dragon then advanced and began clawing and biting one of them, bringing him almost to death.
The party immediately surrendered, having been well and truly humbled. They received a prompt telling off from the Ghoul King after he ordered his dragon back to his side and the party once more agreed to steal dark magic from the Serpent City for him. After resting up, that's exactly what they set off to do - well at least it was their destination - as they now intend to tell the Queen that her ally is betraying her and come back with some Snakemen to help finish him off!