Pelorday, Marantus 12, 1018 A.G. – At the Ruins of Fastormel, late afternoon
As we approached the hillside, we take note that the gushing flow of acidic water has diminished to a dribble. We know however, that another gush comes every 6 seconds on average – some stronger than others. Just as we made note of that, we see a Dragonborn Cleric come staggering out of the cave entrance, clutching his chest which displays a holy symbol on his robes. As he falls and rolls down the hill, we hear him mumble “Pelor save us all, it cannot be so!” As we rush to assist him, Ungus quickly tells us the symbol is of Pelor, the god of sun and agriculture, whose day it is today. Ungus heals him and starts asking him questions. I recognize that this is Katuun Opokor, a fellow I encountered when I first started out adventuring in these parts. As I recall, he worked as an assistant priest in service to The House of the Sun, a temple of Pelor in Fallcrest. He is telling Ungus that he has been out here investigating “things” and his worst suspicions and beyond have been confirmed. He says someone is attempting to create a permanent gate to the 90th level of the Abyss. As Morthwyl asks if he has any idea of who might be doing this, a loud tidal wave sound hits our ears. Looking up, we see another gush of reddish brown briny water come cascading down the hillside toward us. Katuun cries out “Oh, the folly of not clearing away from this area!” as we scatter, trying to get clear of the oncoming “water”. Tumbling down with the filthy liquid stench is a group of 7 creatures – they look something like wolves but with scales and fish heads with sharp pointy teeth. Six of them are of medium size while one of them looms larger than the rest. PLUS, standing in the cave entrance is a creature looking more like a gigantic shellfish. (We know they are all Demons of one type or another.) The briny water hits Katuun, Boldra and Morthwyl – the rest of us managing to step away while Ungus summons his cloud chariot and floats above it. From my distant location, I immediately enter battle mode, quickly making fish stew of two of the fish-heads with my arrows. As the larger fish head lunges forward toward Katuun, Kuiperia runs and attacks it while Groa moves into range to cast a burst, killing two of the medium fish heads and wounding the larger. Ungus flies around in his chariot, casting a rebuke on the big fish guy while the one remaining medium fish guy tries to attack Kuiperia. Then the demonic Lobster Man lumbers out of the cave mouth, charging downslope to attack Kuiperia. Seeing it do that, Morthwyl charges and, despite his attack being lessened by the aura of stench about it, does pretty good damage to it. Katuun runs for shelter. As I yell he is a disgrace to his race, he admonishes me telling me he is not as great and powerful as we are and not equipped to fight these creatures. Well, I think he could still help a little with his breath weapon! The battle continues for a couple of minutes, concluding with all enemies dead and rotting under the warm spring sun.
After taking a short rest, Kuiperia and Groa drag the bodies out of the brine area in order to search them. Kuiperia opens the Lobster Man’s pouch and finds a crystalline cylinder statue with an empty space inside. Recognizing it as summoning magic needing a ritual caster to make sense of it, she hands it off to Groa. Groa is perplexed by this one and hands it off to Ungus. As a Divine Oracle, it triggers a suppressed memory of a prophecy he once had. In this prophecy he saw a Balor inside this very cylinder. He understands the inscription of the vessel is a ritual to summon and then imprison a Balor after battling with it. The ritual requires the caster to know the true name of the Demon. Ungus then gasps out it was the story of how Acererak summoned, battled and imprisoned his father Tarnhem. But once again, he reminds us that prophecy never came true – at least not yet! As Katuun comes back to join us, I smarmily ask him, “Are you OK honey?” He growls, ignoring me and telling us he saw this in the cave before he was attacked. He speaks of there being more foul creatures inside, engaged in foul rituals, attempting to open a permanent rift between Abysm and Arantus. (Yeah, you said that already!) He then says he managed a glimpse of 3 people in there, heading up the ritual. Looking sideways at me now, he tells us there are two Eladrin and one Human in there. One of the Eladrin is a young noble and the other is an old, warped and wretched one, bearing some resemblance to the younger. The third person is a Human who they called Vadin. Katuun says that although the older Eladrin is helping, he doesn’t seem to have his heart in it – it’s almost as if he is being forced by the younger Eladrin. The center of their attention is on a large Golem-like form who they are raising and ushering in more energy from the Abyss in honor of one of two Demon Lords. Groa knows that level is shared by Demogorgon and another of the most feared of all Demon Lords, Dagon! In this case, it looked to Katuun as if they are trying to open a rift in order for Dagon to spend time here in this world, feeding on the creatures of our lakes and seas and devouring our lives for upwards of a century. He also tells us he believes the young Eladrin has some kind of motivation for enabling this to happen. I tell him he must be mistaken – no Eladrin would be doing this – he must have seen two Drow. But as I fume, he insists they were Eladrin. For the moment I have no clue as to their identity – neither does Katuun so we will just have to find out. Katuun also mentions the Human Cleric is a vile nasty man who only wants to destroy this world. Morthwyl asks Katuun about obstacles we might encounter in the cave system. He tells us the biggest obstacle is this wretched, irregular flow of acid water that keeps gushing out. Beyond that, there are only the three opponents – and maybe the demonic golem if they have animated it. Groa hands the crystal cylinder back to Kuiperia who gingerly wraps and places it in her pouch for safekeeping. Ready to proceed with our mission, we all climb into the cloud chariot. Katuun says he will stay on guard out here so Groa asks him to be on the lookout for our friends. We chuckle, telling him you can’t miss them – a large flying black elephant being towed by a giant blue Beholder! He’s is awe, saying he has heard of The Blue Warden and will be honored to meet her.
Bidding goodbye to Katuun, Ungus commands the chariot to rise up to the cave entrance. As we start to make our way in, Kuiperia looks ahead to inspect and locate the briny acid water’s source. She can tell my some of the wet markings and strewn boulders that the force of the water coming thru this narrow channel could knock us off the chariot and push us all away and back out. She wants to anchor the chariot down but since it is made of clouds, she cannot. So she jumps off and finds superior cover for herself. I climb out of the chariot onto the back of the horse. Then Ungus, spotting the brine welling up for another surge, quickly moves the chariot and horse away from the water as best he can, backing it up toward a safer looking area, near a locked door. We are relieved when the welling subsides and only a trickle of water flows thru the chasm. Morthwyl, in the back of the chariot is closest to the locked door. Without hesitating, Morthwyl bashes it open with his hammer. As he looks into the next chamber, he sees the three opponents spread around an altar upon which stands a strange, fanged Demon Golem. With the element of surprise on our side, we engage in battle even though we are not yet inside the room. Groa casts one of her amazing spells on all four of them, sliding them together into a group. Kuiperia runs up to join us, standing under the chariot. Being furthest away, I just barely make out the Human Cleric and set my sight on him, shooting him. Ungus tells us it is Vadin Cartwright who we encountered at Gardmore Abbey. Furthermore, he tells us the two Eladrin are Berrian Velfarren and Zandrian Velfarren! I reel backwards, foaming at the mouth, smoke coming out of my beautiful pointy ears. I knew Berrian was no good but I had no clue he would stoop so low. I picture his grisly death in my mind, my arrows jutting out from all his body apertures, one in particular!
Ungus, not surprised by what he sees, unleashes one of his attack spells on the whole lot just as another gush of briny water hits all of us except Ungus. We are all washed out of the chariot, ending up scattered a good 40 feet downstream and knocked prone. Not one for taking a setback, Morthwyl runs back up past the chariot and right into the enemies’ chamber. Groa also moves up, taking cover under the chariot while Kuiperia follows Morthwyl and goes invisible. I stand up and, engaging my boots, also run into the chamber, cursing unprintable words at the fiend Berrian. He yells back at me saying he is trying to save the Feywild. Ungus casts a spell on them, dazing the Demon Golem and 2 others, while preventing them to make attacks on us. Morthwyl then charges the Demon Golem, hammering its face and bloodying him. The three opponents shuffle around, readying to engage in melee battle while Morthwyl take the opportunity to kill the vile Human “Cleric”, Vadin Cartwright. Zandrian, acting all paternal and looking at Berrian like he wants to spank him, says “Berrian, it is time we cease this foolishness!” Then he begs us not to kill his son who is arguing with him, wanting to destroy Shinaelestra in order to save the rest of the Feywild. Groa moves into the room, away from the brine, casting a huge burst, boosting our attacks. Kuiperia then moves up right next to Berrian, attacking and bloodying him, then shifting back away. Eager to fulfill my fantasy of making a pincushion out of Berrian, I focus my sight on him. But Zandrian warns me that if we kill Berrian, he will not give us the secret to save Shinaelestra. Fine! Grumbling to myself, I re-focus on the Golem, bloodying and immobilizing him while Ungus casts another spell. Morthwyl follows up by charging the Golem again, killing him. As the Demon dies, his body flies outwards in deadly shards, hitting Morthwyl and Berrian, killing the fiendish Eladrin. I whoop in laughter and jump up and down as Zandrian tries to throw his javelin at me. With his decrepit arms, he only manages to drop the javelin harmlessly to which I laugh at him again, whereupon he surrenders to us! The battle over, Kuiperia stabilizes and binds Berrian while I compose myself. Ungus then brings him back to consciousness, wanting to hear more of his explanations. (I think – I have heard enough and wish Ungus would gag him!) He starts ranting and raving about how if we save Arantus we are risking destroying the Feywild. Groa leads us in telling him off. Then Zandrian tells us about his master Tick Tock – another one of our past acquaintances – who is on a fast path to tyranny and has been granted powers by none other than Dagon. It seems Tick Tock and Dagon have worked out a deal. Dagon helps the beholder achieve the powers of an Ultimate Tyrant, one of the fiercest of all beholder types. Tick Tock plans to use his new-found powers to establish himself as supreme ruler of Arantus. In return, Tick Tock opens a permanent portal to Abysm, allowing Dagon to enter the world and feast on its aquatic life forms whenever he pleases. As an unwilling servant of Tick Tock, Zandrian Velfarren had no choice but to help carry out his master’s wishes by participating in the ritual. Yeah, well we know others who have had nefarious plans too and we put a stop to them!
Berrian Velfarren, meanwhile, has cemented his own deal with Dagon. Berrian will assist the demon lord in summoning the Eladrin city of Shinaelestra into the Abyss. In exchange, Dagon will help Berrian close off all portals between the Feywild and The Elemental Chaos (including the Abyss), ensuring that no further damage is done to the Feywild by the recent cataclysmic destruction of The Elemental Engine. Since Shinaelestra is a city in decay to begin with, Berrian feels that this is a reasonable trade-off. After hearing all this ogreshit, we settle down for a long rest, right here in this chamber, after closing the doors.