The shifters were formidable foes, though the small clearing did lend a bit of an advantage to the adventuring party. The shifters put up a fight, but they soon fell to the teamwork of the group, and two of the shifters even fled. The leader, Arathluth, was captured and forced to lead them to Serigala. Once there the party members did some shopping, and a few were curious about the seemingly impenetrable wall near the far end of town. The town elder, Elgin, told them that within the wall was the holy symbol, but nobody could access it unless they defeated the guardian. The group then ventured to the Dark Heart to face the guardian, who turned out to be none other than Grigori, the stranger that helped them out with some advice back in Springfield.
The fight against Grigori was tough, and his immunity to certain types of damage made him a hard foe to defeat, but in the end they were victorious, and from his corpse they obtained the Death Key. They used the Death Key to remove the barrier around the holy symbol, only to find that the holy symbol of the shifters was another key, the Sickness Key.
The key had been resting on top of a large Phoenix egg. Once the key was removed, the egg began to crack, and the Phoenix within broke free. He thanked the group for removing the key, which had been preventing him from hatching. In return he offered to transport them to the domain of the first of the final battles. First, the group wanted to rest and recover, and returned to the Phoenix when they were ready.