We heal up and I sneak forward once again. I come around a corner and see light and fire. The brimoraks like fire so they’re probably up there, about fifty feet ahead. So I unload with all the preparatory spells I’d memorized this morning: Bull’s Strength, Cat’s Grace, Mirror Image, a scroll of Bear’s Endurance, my Shield still has a couple of minutes, and after telling the others what’s up, Invisibility and move forward once again.
I see a large cavern, very hot, and hear banging and clanging. I hear cackling laughter of what sounds like one of those abrikandilu. I see a staircase and curse, thinking the brimoraks aren’t here. But as I get closer I see them: small hairy bastards bristling with heat and melting the stone beneath their hooves. The staircase just leads to a higher ledge which winds around the far side of the cavern up to… a cage suspended from the ceiling over a pit of lava. The abrikandilu is amusing itself by throwing rocks at the cage to knock it down while the brimoraks watch gaily on. Inside the cage Auciell is suspended, unconscious. Swallowing my rage for now, I sneak around the wall of the cave to get to those stairs. The demons don’t seem to hear me.
Soon enough there is the distraction I need: the others clanking down the cavern corridor. The brimoraks are ready though and a fireball shoots down and nails them. Figuring they can take care of themselves, I get up the stairs to the ledge and fish an invisibility potion out of my pouch with my tail. One of the brimoraks starts to ascend after me. What’s the fucker doing?
Susannae moves forward in the corridor and fires an arrow, nailing the brimorak who’d thrown the fireball. Though a Holy arrow, he still lives. She begins to feel her armor heat up from a brimorak spell but she resists it. Another brimorak finishes summoning a fourth one. I stretch out and grab the bottom of the cage and pull it closer to the ledge, close enough to pour the invisibility potion into Auciell’s mouth. When she disappears, the abrikandilu gives a little cry of alarm. I let go and the cage swings back and forth a bit over the lava. I hope it holds steady.
The newly arrived brimorak wastes no time and tosses another fireball at the party who cringe and burn. Then the one up on the ledge hits them with a third. I wonder if they are still alive. One of Kostner’s arrows, a demonbane one, answers my concern by striking the summoned one and Neva emerges into the cavern, missing the demon with her ranseur. Halved follows her in.
The abrikandilu screams in anger and starts hustling up the stairs to the ledge. In the hallway, Susannae takes out her healing wand and uses it on herself. smirk
A brimorak engages Halved with its flaming longsword. He also feels his armor begin to heat up be he also resists it. I’m able to grasp the swinging cage, open the door and pull Auciell out onto my shoulder, Sphex in my other hand. We’re all invisible. If we were to fall into this lava no one would ever know we were even here.
Neva begins to feel the heat as her armor turns red hot. Kostner shoots the summoned one again as Neva scrambles for a potion to heal up. Halved goes berserk and slashes and bites at the brimorak in front of him. As he does so, its blood, lava hot, splashes on him and burns him as its smoky breath makes him feel sick. I suppose it wouldn’t be an adventure if Halved weren’t throwing up at some point.
The abrikandilu, rattish eyes glinting comes rushing to the ledge close to the cage. I sacrifice my invisibility to trip him with a quick riposte from Sphex. It tumbles towards the lava but manages to catch a claw on the rocky edge. The brimorak on the “secure” higher ground eyes me perhaps with alarm.
Susannae returns to the fray with her sword as another brimorak steps up to swarm Halved. I take a step closer to my own brimorak, pouring half my remaining arcane pool into Sphex, enhancing his power and turning him into a frost weapon, knowing the brimoraks are vulnerable to cold. Then I use the rest of the arcane pool into an elemental strike of cold. Sphex gleefully carries it through and the demon staggers from the powerful combination of ice magic and cold iron. Sometimes I like my job. It tries to strike back but my defenses are too strong. He doesn’t even pop one of my dupes.
Kostner, realizing that they may be in trouble down below, uses his dragon scale to align his bow against evil. Neva takes a strong cut at the summoned brimorak. Halved slashes another one up twice and suffers the burning blood as it falls. One down.
The abrikandilu tries to climb up but I’m close enough to cut its hand while it is in a vulnerable position and it tumbles into the lava, oddly splayed on the surface and not yet sinking down. I hope he prepared a death speech.
Susannae takes a swing at the summoned fourth brimorak but it still stands. Another one spews a vomitous stream of boiling blood all over her, Neva, and Kostner in return.
I somewhat gently drop Auciell and take a step away from her, not wanting a similar fate for her helpless self if someone gets a little pukey near me. Then I run my opponent through with Sphex, leaving him with an Arcane Mark of my cuddly blue dick. The abrikandilu glances up as he sinks to see the brimorak fall and I flash him the bird. Three down.
Kostner plugs the summoned one with another couple of arrows. Tough bastard. The heat from Neva’s armor becomes too much and she falls unconscious in searing pain before she can drink another potion.
Halved moves on to another brimorak and resumes slashing and taking burns from the spattered blood which seems to only fuel his rage more like he could go on like this for hours. Susannae scrambles back to grab the cure wand and use it on Neva. I pour my strongest healing potion into invisible Auciell and feel her stir a bit.
The summoned brimorak vomits boiling blood on Susannae and Neva. Neva, already in bad shape, feels that plus the heat of her armor combine to be but a hair’s breath from killing her but her living steel armor seems to melt and reform itself at a more livable temperature and Neva holds on by a miracle.
Kostner fires a pair of arrows killing one than the other remaining brimoraks. For now, it seemed the battle is won.
I speak quietly to Auciell. “Better stay hidden. Are there any more coming? Your daughter is over there. She’ll probably be glad to see you.”
“What?” she asks, fuzzily. “Dusk? What’s going on? I.. I don’t think there is any more danger. Though it has all been very confusing. I have drifted in and out of this nightmare, never sure what was real and what was not.”
I say, “Do you know why Secothbenoth had you taken?” She replies that she thinks the cultists were aspiring to gain his favor and were going to trade her to the succubus Zelmudria. When I ask what happened to the cultists she says that some of their eyes had turned black and then they’d started killing one another. It appears that we weren’t the first victims of the shadow demon.
As Susannae heals Neva back to consciousness, she feels a hand on her shoulder and looks up to see Auciell as she becomes visible. Susannae gives a cry of relief and hugs her mother, telling her she brought her holy symbol.
Auciell thanks her for coming after her and says she knew a day would come where she no longer needed to care for her daughter and her daughter would care for her.
We hear the storm still raging outside and the floor of the cavern beings to shudder. Rocks fall from the ceiling to bounce off the cavern floor or splash into the lava. Keeping distant from the family reunion, I spot what looks to be a scroll case in a pile of refuse. I fish it out and see one is another Cause Fear scroll, useless to me, and the other is a powerful spell I have only ever heard legend of: Greater Teleport.
At that point the ceiling collapses and we are all killed instantly.
Or, I manage to figure out how the scroll works after a couple of tries and teleport us all back to the Defender’s Heart in Kenabres.
Write your own ending, motherfucker. I’m done here.