Wrath of the Righteous

Dusktales III: Nan's Rules
almost fifty years earlier...

The demon was not supposed to be out of the house alone. Nan had given him lots of reasons and he had crafted an argument against each of them and carried them like arrows in a quiver on the chance that she woke up before he got back and he’d had to explain himself, which was low, he figured. Nan had hit the whiskey tonight, the good kind she kept tucked behind the pickles brining in the cellar. It was the anniversary of her daughter’s departure into the Worldwound, his mother. If he’d ever known her, he might be melancholy himself, but he wasn’t. It was just another night. He might not be sad but at least, he’d chuckled to Nan, mom had left him blue.

He hadn’t expected the blow to come as fast as it did from an old lady or sting as hard. Her backfist had smacked his temple and sent his chin hammering into the kitchen tabletop, blood filling his mouth from his bit tongue. He’d sprawled on the stone floor and gazed up at the woman who had raised him as she stood and staggered out of the room, not bothering to see if he was hurt or not. She likely believed him unkillable, if the “accidental” leaving out of various toxic cleaning products while he’d toddled about nineteen years ago were any indication. But he’d survived, much to her disappointment.

Lying on the floor then, he’d contemplated killing her. It would be easy. His mind had filled with visions of cutting her throat and then carving away her skin. If only he were strong enough to do that in reverse order, well, that would be something to savor.

Then he’d shaken his head and pounded a fist onto his own skull, “No! No, stop it! Stop it!” he’d hissed a whisper. “Nan can’t help it. You are the monster, Dusk. That’s why mom and dad left. That’s why Nan is sad all the time. It’s your fault. She knows you think those things, those evil things! Bad! Bad!”

He’d dug his nails deep into his own blue furred scalp, pressing his heels of his hands against his yellow eyes as if he could rip the dark impulses out of his own skull. His pointed tail had thrashed back and forth and he’d lifted his head off the floor and struck it down again and again until the voices stopped when everything had gone black. After he’d come to, night had descended and into it, he’d slipped, heavily cloaked and aimless.

The demon reminded himself again of what he would tell Nan when she inevitably voiced each of her reasons again. One, he would be killed if someone spotted him. He was a demonblood in a city of demon-hunters. Theoretically, the paladins and crusaders of Kenabres would only kill someone if they’d done something wrong. They were the epitome of law and goodness after all. But, in a war, no one would blame one of them for cutting his head off based on his appearance. Hearing that he was the child of a pair of Riftwardens, the mysterious organization of arcanists who studied the myriad planes of existence, would likely merit an apology and a shrug.

Dusk would tell her he wouldn’t get near any crusaders. Being out at night, he could spot anyone with his inhuman eyesight long before they saw him in the shadows. He’d also learned how to call upon an innate power to darken his close surroundings like the lowering of an oil lamp. Nan didn’t want him doing it in the house but he liked it. It was like pulling up a blanket all around him, not that she’d let him have any of her blankets. His indifference to cold temperatures led to her indifference in trying to keep him warm. He did like it by the hearth, though, and sometimes even climbed inside to sleep curled up on the dying embers. Nan’s distaste for him openly betraying his unnaturalness so conflicted with her realization that the scent of brimstone which accompanied him when he was excited in some way dissipated up the flue when he parked himself there.

Two, even if he weren’t killed outright, he would bring great shame upon Nan and his parents should his connection to them come to light. His father D’karik, a sorcerer of whom Nan claimed dabbled in forces that should not be dabbled with, had already shamed them enough with his violet eyes and slightly pointed ears. A half-elf he’d claimed himself to be, but Nan was not convinced. Dusk’s mother, Liana Clarseen, had fallen for him, likely through enchantments, Nan had claimed. The two were almost never apart since arriving in Kenabres to tell Nan they’d been wed. And when Liana had come to her ninth month of pregnancy, the tale spread was that their child had been stillborn and the grieving planar travelers had gone to forget about their loss.

That part might be true, Dusk had to admit, but he had been born as alive as he was alien: covered in soft blue fur, already growing teeth, smelling of foulness, and with a nub of a tail that his father had refused to allow Nan to cut off. Nan said shame had driven them away but Dusk still believed it was their work which had taken them from him and they would return when he was grown to join them in grand adventures.

A child’s fantasy he knew, but was he not still a child? Even after years of watching human children who were born the same year as him grow into apprenticeships and courtships and other adult things, his body still sought simple pleasures and his mind arrived at the easy conclusions of a much younger being. Though physically he seemed to only lag slightly behind. He was not particularly tall, but could pass for a human teenager at least, so long as no one looked under his cloak.

At any rate, he would tell Nan if he were found, he would never give her name. He would say he lived in the streets. He half-believed he would have a better life there anyway. Stealing and scrounging were often what he’d had to do at home anyway as Nan figured his otherworldly appetite could be sated with rubbish — rinds and bones and stale crusts — just as well as fresh food. After the events earlier that night, he was contemplating not going back at all. It was not like he’d any possessions of his own to go back for and he worried about one of them killing the other before too long.

The third reason was the worst of them. The times he’d been out before, cloaked and wrapped such that none would see him, he’d asked Nan why he couldn’t go play with the other children or even talk to them. He’d watch the nobles of Kenabres parade their families with pride down the boulevard on a sunny morning on their way to a shrine or temple, most likely dedicated to Iomedae. Or sitting on a bench while their children frolicked and laughed in the grass of the park. They seemed so happy. The demon wanted to join them. No, Nan, always said. If he were to ever talk to another child, they would be denied their place in the glorious upper planes when they died and suffer torment forever. He didn’t want that to happen.

But that was the easiest reason for him to tell her he could be out on his own. He just wouldn’t talk to anyone. Then they’d be safe.

So with these thoughts in mind, Dusk flitted from shadow to shadow, the pain and anguish of hours earlier forgotten in the excitement of freedom to go where he pleased. He’d always liked the district of Old Kenabres the best, with its huge stone structures and cobbled streets, so he made his way to higher ground.

He had a marvelous time, hiding and watching people as they went by, never guessing that he was there. He even dared to make some rude noises as a man and woman tried to have some private mushy time when they thought no one was looking. That was funny. But just as he was thinking it was time to get back home, he spotted a too-bright light in the distance.

By the time he arrived, there was a lot of shouting and noise. A big house had a fire on the inside. He could see flames at every window. Four or five people had gathered in front. A man and a woman were coughing and lying on the ground covered in a blanket. A bell was ringing but no one had come to put the fire out yet. The man was trying to crawl back into the house but the other people wouldn’t let him. The woman was pointing to an upper floor and Dusk could hear the faint cries of a baby.

His mind raced. He thought he could get through that fire just fine. It didn’t burn him as badly as it did Nan or other humans. He could go save the baby for those people. But then everything might go wrong. They might try to kill him. They might know about Nan and mom and dad. Or worst, he would make them all have to go to the Abyss when they died if he talked to them.

Then, he suddenly had an idea. He concentrated and clutched his cloak and suddenly all around him in the alley where he’d watched, it got pitch dark. If they couldn’t see him, they wouldn’t try to talk to him. Then he raced towards the open doorway, the flames dimming into shadowy illumination.

It was a lot hotter than he’d expected and kind of hard to breathe but he was able to see where to go. Up the stairs and then towards the front of the building. When he grabbed the doorknob to the baby’s room, it burned his hand. Still, he pushed in and then saw, miraculously, a pretty little girl and a white kitten curled around each other in an undamaged corner of the room. It was not clear who was protecting whom but they both opened their eyes wide when he walked in.

His unnatural darkness battled with the light of the fire and in shadow he approached hesitantly, trying to open his arms in a show of harmlessness. He took his cloak off as he knelt down before them.

The girl had been sobbing and now looked at him in apprehension. He knew he couldn’t say anything so he just held out his hand and his tail to see if she’d grab on as he’d seen other babies do with their parents.

The tail swaying before her eyes seemed to capture her imagination and she took it in her hand and felt the warm fur of it. She stopped whimpering and sniffled a little. The white cat unarched its back.

“Kitty!” the girl mumbled, smiling at him. “Boo kitty!”

He smiled back to her. She let him wrap the cloak around her and her pet and then he lifted them, pressing the bundle close to his chest as he bent partly over to take the heat of the flames upon himself, and left as quickly as he dared.

When the sphere of darkness moved out of the building and engulfed the small group outside, the people were even more alarmed. But when the mother felt the familiar weight of her daughter pressed into her lap along with the frayed remains of a filthy cloak, she called to her husband joyfully, “It’s Auciell! Our Auciell!”

“Thank Sarenrae!” he cried aloud as the darkness receded towards an alley, and he beheld his baby once again, kissing her small hands. “Thank you, Sarenrae!”

“No, Papa!” the demon heard as he legged it back towards the Ring District. “Boo Kitty! Bye, Boo Kitty! Bye!”

The demon slipped back through the basement window and checked if Nan was still sleeping. She seemed to be. The whiskey bottle lay on the floor near her bed along with the open locket painting of her own little girl, Liana, who had gone off to save the world again and left her own problem here.

Dusk liked to think about telling his mom when he saw her how he’d done a good thing tonight too. She’d be proud of him and she and dad would take him with them next time, to places where it would be safe to talk to people and they’d like him. He picked up the whiskey bottle and sniffed at it. There was some inside and didn’t he deserve some kind of reward?

He was just finishing off the last of it when the pounding came at the door, waking up Nan. The Inquisitors had seen him and he was wanted for questioning regarding a mysterious fire at the Ferre house. To this, he didn’t have a ready answer.

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Session 18: 4718AR, Arodus 21
Choices and Consequences

Dusk here…

We ask Irabeth what the layout of the upper level is and decide to spring into what we believe to be a large altar area. The door is locked. I use the chime and it doesn’t work. Neva, Halved, and Irabeth smash the door down.

We see an alabaster basin filled with entrails pulled from undead standing around it. We file in to fight. Halved cleaves through a couple and Susannae does another.

I assume they have things in hand so I sneak up the stairs to the third floor. Sphex concurs: “Why waste time with empty bags of flesh? You do enough of that already.” I hear breathing of a large beast around a corner at the top of the stairs and catch a glimpse of dented helmets on pedestals in the guttering shadows. I Vanish.

Downstairs, Halved wrecks another zombie and Susannae strikes another down. I step around the corner and see a short hall ending in a door. In front of the door is a giant minotaur with red fur and glowing yellow eyes and vestigial wings. It holds a very large axe and its horns look very dangerous.

I recognize it as fiendish, granting it resistances to acid and fire, magic resistance and damage resistance except against lawful weapons. I slip the wand of magic missiles into my tail thinking maybe the strategy should be to shoot it from here as it would have to squeeze into the staircase.

As Neva and Halved finish off the zombies, Susannae notices I’m not there. She complains about it but Irabeth and Halved remind her I’m probably doing something helpful. Irabeth leads them up the stairs but I stop her before she reaches the corner and warn her about the minotaur. I suggest she make some noise to make it easier for me to sneak alongside it and she, joined shortly by Susannae, begin to pray loudly. I slip in, worried about how good the beast’s nose is but I’m able to get next to it as it focuses on the paladins approaching. Irabeth calls for a charge.

Susannae beats her to the beast, smiting it in the name of Iomedae. It retaliates with its axe. Irabeth follows and smites it too. Then as the others come out of the staircase, I recall Shocking Grasp and deliver it through Sphex, stabbing the beast through the heart and electrocuting it to death, despite its spell resistance.

Halved wants to start looting it and picks up an interesting looking horn, the blowing kind, off the minotaur. I urge him to forget it for now and hurry and get through this door. He, Irabeth, and Neva set to it again.

They smash the door down and we see a round room with a cage on a pedestal containing a translucent shard, what must be the last piece of the Wardstone. A deformed and twisted woman with unmatched limbs including a clawlike arm and holding a broken scythe snarls at us and empowers herself with the favor of Deskari. We also smell a disgusting stench as another dretch belches forth a noxious cloud and the room is full of the awful fog.

Susannae is nauseated. She steps out of the fog and begins to take out her bow. “No!” I cry, rushing towards her, “Susannae, the Rod!” I am able to resist the stench and put my hand on the Rod. Doubt flickers across her features momentarily but then she lets go. I recall Vanish and then do so. Doubt now lingers on her face.

So, I could leave, I realize. I could leave right now and doom all of the plans of all of these humans who have kicked me at every chance they’ve gotten. Areelu’s plan would be fulfilled and I would likely be rewarded beyond my wildest dreams by Deskari and Baphomet if I could trust those fuckers. Faint whispers that I have long suppressed flicker at the edge of my thoughts.

Meanwhile, Neva and Irabeth are unable to clear the dretch from the doorway. Halved, sick again himself, staggers out of the fog. Kostner can’t do anything with the demon either. The withered demonic cleric moves through the fog. Her eyes glowing red, she sucks some of the life energy out of Neva.

Pathetic. They’d be dead without me. Sure, I could screw them over big time. Them and everyone they care about. Plus, Eloise and a lot of people who don’t deserve to suffer any more. I realize I’m doomed to always take the side of the underdog… just can’t stand to be what I hate the most. So I take a deep breath and run back into the fog, barely resisting its power and tumble past the dretch.

Neva, despite starting to go blind, picks up her sword and stabs at the dretch as it steps up to claw her. The weird priestess does not seem to have noticed my presence and tries to curse Neva but she resists it.

I reach the Wardstone shard and strike it with the Rod. The artifact’s power is strong though and it resists breaking. I become visible just a few feet from the cleric as she turns and sees me, crying, “No!”

Neva, just in time, finishes off the dretch. Irabeth enters and engages with the cleric followed by Kostner and his sloth, Ajax.

Kostner’s positioning keeps the cleric from being able to get to me so she slashes him with her scythe. I once again am able to resist the nausea but realize time is short so I cast an Arcane Mark and deliver it through the Rod to get an extra chance to destroy the Wardstone shard. It resists destruction again but my second blow gets through. The Wardstone shard explodes in spears of light.

All of the energy of the Wardstone flows outward. When it touches my companions and myself, we feel ourselves fully healed and recharged as we were at the start of this long day. The demon cleric, whose name is Jeslyn we are suddenly aware, is scorched almost to death by the light. Irabeth finishes her but the rest of us are stunned and cannot move as we see visions.

We see visions of the present: all of the Wardstones are infused with a golden light. We see the demon armies at the front of the incursion destroyed. We hear the cheers of the armies of crusaders.

We see visions of the past: To 4639, when the Wardstone was erected with the aid of the Hand of the Inheritor, an angel who was the herald of Iomedae. To 4665, when we see a young Hulron leading the burning of witches in front of the Wardstone. To 4692, when we see the Storm King’s first attack, cracking the Wardstone before being killed by Terendelev. To 4712, when we see Irabeth pursuing Staunton Vayne, a burly dwarf, who is burned by the Wardstone when their battle presses against it. He gains the upper hand against the half-orc paladin but at the sight of an approaching mob, flees on a giant wasp before he can finish her. To only days ago, when we see Minaco, a demon, and Jeslyn, place the Wardstone shard in the cage and cast a powerful Wish on it to seal it there.

We see visions of a future that is now denied. Areelu Vorlesh changes the Wardstone with her magic, turning the crusaders at the border into half-fiends and the beginning of the end of all of us.

Then we see an image in the room, happening now, no longer in our minds. It is Areelu Vorlesh in a portal. We were just in time, it seems. She is beautiful, so beautiful, with large batlike wings and glowing eyes. She says, “This only delays the end for all of you mortals. For you few who have thwarted me today, I will hasten yours.” Irabeth rushes her but is tossed aside like a cigar stub.

Areelu Vorlesh then casts terrible magics I can only guess at the power or effect but nothing happens. She continues, “Maybe the Wardstone protects you from my spell but not my slaves.”

Behind her comes an army of demons. Six Babau enter and my throat begins to seize up in terror. Behind them are more powerful ones… Vrocks, Hezrou, Glabrezu, and Calistria save us, is that a Marilith?

But the Wardstone shard shines again, throwing Vorlesh back and breaking her bones. She screams and the portal closes leaving us with six Babau demons, any one of which could likely tear us all apart. Probably too late for a do-over.

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Ajax Slothbros
Kostner and Ajax getting along

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Session 17: 4718AR, Arodus 21
Housecleaning

Dusk, here.

Susannae has a divine inspiration and realizes she can call for a horse because she resides in Iomedae’s favor. I think to myself I can call for a half-dozen horses because I wield the mysteries arcane but don’t need to rain on her parade.

We ask Irabeth to describe the layout of the Grey Garrison and she tells us which doors go where. We enter a shrine and see an empty bracket by a sunburst icon. The room is befouled with blood and excrement. I ask what was in the bracket. She says that is where a sword should have been. Irabeth and Susannae insist on cleaning up the shrine while Neva and I want to move on, because, you know, the entire city might be destroyed at any minute and the poop can get wiped up in an hour. It’s not going anywhere.

We lose the argument and as the paladins pray they see written on the wall: “Let us inherit thine arms, Iomedae” in glowing runes. I listen to the exit and hear the ratty grunts of abrikandilu behind the door. We line up and Irabeth opens it. We see two decapitated crusaders and lots of smashed up antiquities and two abrikandilu.

Halved rolls in and cracks one badly. Irabeth follows, slashing it, and Susannae shoots it too before Neva finishes it. The second one bites Neva and snaps at Halved as he rushes in, slashing it. Kostner shoots it before I finish it. It had been holding a magic morningstar made of adamantine. As Irabeth and Susannae pray over the fallen crusaders, I suggest instead of burying them right at the moment, why not avenge them with their weapon. Irabeth agrees and Susannae wryly notes my dripping sincerity in the sentiment.

We find a hallway with exits to a main temple area and a staircase landing. Kostner hears low sporadic talking. Behind the other door, at Neva’s suggestion, he hears the labored breathing of a demon. I prepare and cast Cat’s Grace and Mirror Image on myself. Irabeth opens the staircase door where we see two dretches and a dark green-skinned tiefling. As we rush in, the tiefling legs it.

Neva splatters one of the dretches. The other takes a step back and sprays us in a cloud of sick. It makes Susannae and me nauseous. Halved slaughters that one. We quickly move to the other door and open it to find white statues that have been defiled. There is a dais and a hideous centipede-like stitched-up effigy of severed limbs on it. There are also three human cultists of Deskari. They begin to call for prayers of protection.

One moves to the doorway. I tumble past him and stab him as Halved follows and finishes him, clearing the doorway. Kostner steps through and shoots another one who rushes up and wounds him. Irabeth cracks the shot one and Susannae finishes him through the eye. The last one calls upon evil power to damage us all slightly as Neva takes off after the green tiefling up the stairs.

A door I hadn’t noticed opens right behind me and a crazed tiefling brimming with protective spells tries to hit me with a flung vial. It hits Halved instead and lights him on fire. I step in and deliver a Shocking Grasp with Sphex, stabbing him through the heart and electrocuting him to death. Kostner shoots the last cultist with a couple of arrows, clearing the temple room.

Neva reaches the upper story to find an ambush of tieflings forming a crossbow crossfire gauntlet. She steps up and hits one as they let fly with their bolts, but most do not get through her armor. The rest of us head up the stairs as more tieflings and cultists file into the upper hallway. I recall Chill Touch and slay a cultist as he rushes out. Halved slaughters a tiefling and Kostner plugs another from the other flank through the eye.

The cultists try to Cause Fear in myself and Halved and we falter but shake it off thanks to Susannae’s calming presence. Irabeth reaches the phalanx of tiefling crossbowmen and begins to wreck shop. One cultist causes Halved to drop his sword as Neva and I combine to take down the other.

Kostner takes out another tiefling and his sloth Ajax takes one out with a bite. Irabeth finishes another and Susannae shoots the last tiefling. Neva and I combine again on another cultist and take him out. I shift into a position to give Halved a flank on the last cultist and he makes him pay for the sword drop. Kostner finishes off the last tiefling and Neva finishes off the last cultist. Ninety seconds: Nine dead tieflings, seven dead cultists, and two dead dretches.

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Session 16: 4718AR, Arodus 21
As the Worm Turns

Dusk, here.

Deciding that since we are at pretty decent strength and we don’t know when Arilu Vorlesh will arrive, we decide to not waste time and head right to the Grey Garrison, after purchasing some supplies. Aravashnial claims there is a hidden cache near the Garrison as well. With Susannae carrying the Rod of Cancellation, much to Sphex’s relief, and Irabeth in tow, we head out. Other forces of Kenabres will form a distraction so we can head right in past the walls. Indeed, Kostner and I see the guards leave their posts in response to something and we get through.

Coming upon the gates to the Garrison, I see two bloated and deformed humans, one appearing to be the former Prelate Hulron. The other, Susannae later notes, Kandro Nyserian. I also realize that their bodies are there merely as armor for a couple of wormlike Vermleks. I signal to Kostner to wait to bring the others closer on my signal, to the cover of a nearby burned-out building.

I use Ghost Sound to make a loud screaming noise near another burned-out building and the sentries turn that way, not attacking but asking in Abyssal, “Have you come to serve Deskari?” As the others get closer they ask again in Common. At an impasse, we watch them and they do not move. So Kostner plugs one.

Halved moves up and the Nyserian Vermlek begins to undulate and ooze and a cold feeling comes over both Halved and Susannae. They shake it off for the most part but have been inflicted with Light Wounds and the Vermlek seems to have healed itself of the arrow damage. The Hulrun Vermlek follows suit against Halved and Susannae and also Irabeth.

I approach and speak to one: “Hey, Hulworm. Not only are we not going to to serve Deskari but after we grind you two into the ground and every other demon in this place, and you wind up squirming before him in your failure, tell him we’re coming for him next.” At that, the Vermlek is properly terrified and starts vomiting all over its fleshy suit.

Irabeth and Kostner attack the other one a couple of sound blows and Halved decapitates the vomitous Hulrun. A wounded five-jawed worm, the Vermlek’s true form, slithers out the back of Hulron’s skin trying to get some distance. Susannae shoots it and then I run it through with Sphex.

The remaining one does its Cause Wounds trick again against Irabeth and me and also slips its skin-bag. Susannae, I, and Neva, finally arriving, finish it.

Irabeth and Susannae then do some blessings over the former Prelate’s corpse and also Nyserian’s. I search for Aravashnial’s cache and find some good healing potions, magic arrows, a couple of wands, a couple cold iron weapons, and a chime of transmutational magic that I can’t quite figure out the purpose to.

There is a window above the large doors to the Grey Garrison. Neva levitates up and sees through the bars of a large window a cage for messenger birds and a door to the interior. As the front doors are locked, Halved climbs up to the window to try to break the bars. Even with Neva’s help they can’t do it. It occurs to me to use a small bit of acid I’ve been carrying but we reason it won’t be enough. Then it occurs to me that the chime might be a Chime of Opening. I sound it and on the third try, the large doors open.

There is a foyer with a frieze of crusaders in battle which has been defaced. There is also a small guard room with half a dozen tieflings of various degree of hideousness playing some kind of card game using scavenged body parts as currency. They see us but we get the drop on them and dash in and cut them down before their crossbows can hurt any of us. Despite Halved’s acrobatic leap atop the playing table, he is the only one of us not to fell one.

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Session 15: 4718AR, Arodus 21
The Play's the Thing

Dusk, here.

Counting the guards around Old Kenebres, we spy at least a couple dozen. That’s just on the walls. We hightail it via hidden ways back to Defender’s Heart.

As we get to the Gate District, we see a makeshift stage has been constructed. Two quasits fly around some unhappy humans being forced to perform acts upon one another that amuse the quasits. I sneak closer while the archers prepare to pepper the flying tormentors.

Susannae and Kostner nail one of them. I blast the other with magic missiles. The arrowed one turns invisible as our warriors rush up. I dash forward and finish off the other with a Chill Touch delivered through Sphex before it too can vanish.

The human performers are ordered to attack us even though they might guess we are a bigger threat at this point. One gets in a lucky shot at Halved. The remaining quasit reappears and Kostner slays it before it can act. The humans give up and Halved punches out the one who injured him. We accompany them to Defender’s Heart. One asks Halved quietly if they trust me but Halved tells him to shut it.

Susannae reunites with her father. She shows him the note from the cultists which annoys me and we argue about whom to trust. Her father suggests we show it to Irabeth, which was my original suggestion. Kostner collects 1000gp for the Hala. I ask Neva for the lockbox with the business papers and the bag of loot I’d collected on the way back from the fleeing crusaders.

Irabeth gives Susannae a bag of 2000 gold. Irabeth says that once she found a traitor in the Hammers of Heaven, named Stauton Vhane and that he may have been behind the destruction of Drezen. Irabeth was knighted for discovering him. She believes that he is the “S.V.” in the note.

I find Eloise and ask her to take a look at the business records of Nyserian Manor with me. I give the bag of loot to Kimroth to distribute as he sees fit. I then return to the makeshift shrine Eloise has constructed of a few cots and some incense.

Irabeth is worried about the mention of Nahyndryan crystals and that far worse than has already happened may be in store for us. She asks Susannae why I am not with the others. Some clerics identify our items still shrouded in mystery.

Eloise doesn’t find anything odd in the transactions. But she tells me that the “I.T.” in the record is for a sword sold by Irabeth herself to Lord Nyserian to pay for a gender alteration spell for her wife Anevia. I wonder if this is how the cultists got hold of Yaniel’s sword. I rejoin the others and ask Susannae to show Irabeth the sword. Irabeth did not seem to recognize it. Susannae then chews me out over trust issues.

“It’s time,” Irabeth says to a companion and we remove to a private location. She brings along a character with a claw tattooed on his face. They both say the worst is yet to come. The worst in 75 years. Deskari, Lord of Locusts, has his followers defending Old Kenebres. A witch is coming, Arilu Vorlesh, to reverse the field generated by the Wardstones.

Most Crusaders have left to guard the border of the Worldwound and are far from here which is likely Arilu’s plan. Irabeth muses that they probably wouldn’t even return if they knew of the danger. They believe the Grey Garrison in Old Kenebres houses the last piece of our broken Wardstone which Arilu needs to reverse the field for all the cities’ Wardstones, opening up the way to the Abyss rather than holding it back. Thus, they want the shard destroyed.

Irabeth introduces “clawface” as Quednys Orlun. He, along with Aravashnial, are the last remaining Riftwardens. Orlun shows us a Rod of Cancellation which will destroy the shard.

I point out that this plan sounds a little shady. Neva catches my drift and Susannae gets more angry with me. Irabeth says she would come along and we could possibly retreat once to try again based on resources purchased by a big donation from Horgus Gwerm.

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Session 14: 4718AR, Arodus 21
Grease is the Word

Dusk here.

We rested. With the dawn came the revelation that Kostner had found a small sloth in the debris of the warehouse. He is going to adopt it and train it to ride on his back and gesture in a distracting way to his opponents. Also, a magical haversack was found which can hold vast amounts of items.

Neva dreams of a helm with burning eyes beneath it. She wakes up and sees a broken helm before her in the rubbish.

I saw my problems and I’ll see the light
We got a lovin’ thing, we gotta feed it right
There ain’t no danger we can go too far
We start believin’ now that we can be who we are

I suggest we return to Defender’s Heart through Old Kenabres so we can look for Susannae’s mother. Upon reaching the wall to the Ring District, Neva levitates up and lowers a rope for the rest of us to climb. We walk along the wall to the northernmost tower which still stands and proceed down the stairs. Kostner spots some movement in the Ring District. We skirt a giant crater on our way to St. Clydwell Plaza.

Scouting ahead, Kostner and I see some men in greenish metal armor with scythes. Six, attempting to set an ambush. We rejoin the others and Susannae heals us.

They think our love is just a growin’ pain
Why don’t they understand? it’s just a cryin’ shame
Their lips are lyin’, only real is real
We stop the fight right now, we got to be what we feel

I suggest Halved pretend to enter their ambush alone and then use his superior speed to evade them and lead them into our own ambush in a narrow alley. Halved has little trouble playing dumb. When they see him wander out, they cast protective spells on themselves and then pursue him. Susannae blesses Sphex much to his consternation. After Halved escapes the alley mouth, I drop a Grease spell down in their path. Three fall down and another hangs back to try to Cause Fear on Halved but he resists. One climbs over some rubble to attack me. Another comes around a different corner. Kostner shoots him.

As the cultists struggle to stand, Halved, Neva, and I cut them down. I mark mine with a glowing blue dong. The two that came around the other corner are dealt with quickly as well. Susannae identifies them as Deskari cultists.

As we are about to leave, we see that Old Kenabres is guarded very heavily by large forces of cultists and tieflings along the walls. We may need a different plan.

We take the pressure, and we throw it away
Conventionality belongs to yesterday
There is a chance that we can make it so far
We start believin’ now that we can be who we are

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The Hala Demon

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Session 13: 4718AR, Arodus 20
Dusk in the Wind

Dusk here…

I cut the girl loose and ask Susannae to tend to her shock. She says her parents are nearby. Neva finishes the wounded off. I suggest giving the girl all the money. The others don’t agree. We tell her to go to Defender’s Heart. Still disguised, I tell her I am named Witchhunter Dickbreath. She says that Prelate Hulron is dead.

Moving on again, Kostner and I see some more Baphomet cultists approaching. We slip back and prepare an ambush of our own. We pepper them with missile weapons and they prepare Protection from Good spells. I finish one off, then I put the crossbow away. Neva steps out and cuts one up as they charge us. He retaliates.

Another comes up to me and tries to Cause Fear in me but Susannae’s proximity helps me resist. Kostner finishes the one Neva injured. Another one charges and strikes Neva. Halved steps out and splatters him. Susannae finishes the last one.

Nyserian Manor is ruined. We search around for clues. Neva finds a small lockbox. Halved and I open it up. There is a bag of gems and a bunch of transactional records for us to study later.

It begins to rain as we approach the Warehouse District. We don’t see anything. Susannae comes closer to detect evil. I can tell the increased wind is magical in nature. Susannae detects the evil coming from the building ahead’s second floor.

We see the Hala appear, a cyclopean beast with needle fangs and wings. It shrieks a cry and hailstones fall.

I cast Vanish and move closer to the beast. Susannae draws her sword and protects herself from the cold with her shingle. So does Halved and he and Kostner and Neva move up.

The Hala buffets its wings and a blast of air slams into Neva but she holds. I climb up to the roof of the shelter where he was perched but he moves to another building. Neva begins to levitate with her shingle.

The Hala brings more punishing hail down. Susannae’s arrow is blown away. Neva’s ranseur attack is ineffectual. Halved climbs up and tries to taunt the demon. The demon bites Neva and then responds to Halved’s taunt by returning to the roof, landing next to me.

I call upon my arcane pool and Sphex’s to power him up. I cast Chill Touch and stab the Hala from my invisible position. Halved takes up a flank and strikes him too, well.

The demon turns on him, doing a lot of damage. Then I cut him down. He shrieks very loudly and dies. Kostner says it probably has treasure nearby.

We find a suit of living steel half-plate which self-heals and breaks weapons which strike it. Amazing. We also find a scroll of Magic Missile, oil of Purify Food & Water, and a potion of Guidance. What a waste of craft.

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The Moral Toll

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