Erathday, Marantus 13, 1018 A.G. – Early Morning at the Ruins of Fastormel
Once again, during the night our gods have bestowed ever more powers upon us. Yet we were warned to use them sparingly here in Arantus. Oh to know such power and be held accountable! Damn!
The night passed uneventfully and quietly, thank the gods. If that Berrian creature had opened his mouth I would have gagged him so quickly. His decrepit old fool of a father started yacking this morning though. He speaks up in pitiful desperation “I know this may be too much to ask, but if you slay my Master, I would be free from his years of servitude.” He’s right, it is too much to ask! He then starts to give us details about some of the 666 levels of the Abyss, saying Demogorgon and Dagon share levels 88, 89 and 90 – together known as the Abysm with Demogorgon ruling both 88 and 90 and Dagon ruling 89. Well, isn’t that special! He then tells us we have to jump into the chasm where the briny acid water is coming from. Yeah, that stuff! Ungus, Groa and I lost some of our healing abilities just spending the night here! Of course Morthwyl the tank didn’t. I call out, “Kuiperia, how you feeling? Kuiperia? Kuiperia?” She’s nowhere to be found! Now where did that girl get too! Anyway, Zandrian is still babbling away, spittle dripping from the corner of his mouth – urging us to be quick and depart since he is not sure how long the rift will stay open. Morthwyl asks him if we can use the same ritual to close the rift and he tells us it is possible but the ritual must be conducted on both ends simultaneously. That would mean us going thru, Groa performing the ritual on the Abyss side and leaving Zandrian and Berrian on this side, with Zandrian performing the ritual on this side. Of course I am hesitant about leaving Berrian alone here with his creepy father – he just may set him free under Tick-Tock’s direction. But then when Groa asks if closing the rift would mean the Demons are barred from entering Arantus, he tells us that his Master would probably just find another way since a multitude of rifts have opened recently. Groa thinks he is sincere – Berrian is still thankfully silent, detached and sullen – just staring at the floor, occasionally adjusting his binds. In a moment of half-jest, I pull the circlet out of my haversack and ask Uncle Crogan if he would like to take possession of Berrian’s body. Ha! He says he just wants to be set free in order to complete his journey to the Land of the Dead. Morthwyl says he could smash the gem but is told that might hurt Uncle Crogan. There is no way to set Uncle Crogan free right now. Zandrian, changing the subject, is confused why Tick-Tock has not yet appeared. We still want Zandrian to help us close the rift by performing the ritual on this side but he tells us he most likely will not be able to do that as long as Tick-Tock is alive and wandering the Abyss. I comment that last we knew he was wandering Arantus. So Groa sighs and says then we must go thru, kill Tick-Tock and THEN close the rift. Berrian speaks now. (I knew it was too good to last!) He says we have fallen for Tick-Tock’s ruse and starts calling his father names for helping him. I yell for him to shut his trap as Groa’s extraordinary insight tells us to trust his father. I then say “Gag him!” But Morthwyl does one better by stomping over to him and knocking him unconscious with his fist. Oh yeah! Groa asks Zandrian what to expect when we get there. He tells us our journey down will be like riding a cascading waterfall. We might get hurt a little but nothing we can’t handle. We will arrive on a sandy beach at the edge of a deep blood sea. There will be an island 300 yards out – if we fly there, we will find his Master, Tick-Tock being anointed as an Ultimate Beholder Tyrant – whose goal is to spread darkness and madness over all the worlds and planes. He tells us one of Tick-Tock’s strengths is he cannot be petrified and that his central eye can daze and slow us. We all drink some beer for breakfast, do our hands-on “Go Blue Scarabs!” thingy and prepare jump into the rift. Morthwyl wants to protect our healer from damage so asks Ungus for his Bag of Holding. Ungus hands it to Morthwyl who holds it open as Ungus climbs in. Then Morthwyl hefts it over his shoulder and we all jump into the rift.
As we float ever downward we pass over seven waterfalls and watch scores of levels pass us. At last we are dumped, scattered into a briny, acid river with a fast current. Morthwyl, Groa and I take some damage from the acid, as does the Bag of Holding. Looking around we see we are in a cave whose ceiling is 25 feet high with a large fortress on one side, 15 feet up. On the other side is a smaller fortress with floor to ceiling walls. Downstream in the river is a closed portcullis spanning the river beyond which the river empties into the outdoors with spiky stalagmites. The river embankment is 3 feet above the water. Not surprisingly, there is a “welcoming” committee looking at us. One creature is standing guard in the large fort, identified as a Fire Demon. Another one is nearby. Suddenly a ghastly creature appears, floating in front of the portcullis, at first glance looking vaguely like a Beholder. But closer looks reveal instead of tentacles, it is wielding living chains with hooks on the end. As the acid is really starting to burn us, I teleport out of it onto dry land near the small fortress. As I land, I detect a fiery light behind one of the window slits and see a Fire Demon lurking beyond. I quickly shoot it, immobilizing and bloodying it. Morthwyl, still holding Ungus in the Bag of Holding, jumps out of the water, right over the short wall to the large fortress, dropping the bag a short distance away from the Fire Demon. As he lands right next to it, he smites it with his Anvil of Doom and notices it gives off a damaging fiery aura. Nevertheless, he causes it much damage, stunning it in the process. Ungus climbs out of the bag and summons his Cloud Chariot and climbs in. The chain creature, called a Sibriex then flies toward the Dwarves, stopping at a small bend in the river where it sends a blast against them and one of the Fire Demons. Now two Acid Demons pop out of the water near Groa who has not had a chance to get out yet. The Fire Demon in the small fort shakes off his immobilization and attacks me while the two in the river attack Groa with bolts of acid – then one moves upstream and one moves downstream. Groa is bloodied from all the acid damage, casts a spell on Sibriex but misses, then swims to shore. I shoot my Fire Demon again, missing and back up slightly. Morthwyl somersaults over the low fort wall onto the sandy “water’s” edge and charge attacks the Sibriex but also misses. We all seem to be having a lot of misses right now. Could it be this place? Ungus casts his summoning spell, teleporting Groa out of the river and into the chariot next to him, then he casts a spell on the nearby Fire Demon while healing Groa and me. As the Sibriex starts flying, Morthwyl hits it with an opportunity attack but once again misses. Continuing on its way, it flails its long chains onto him, Groa and Ungus causing Ungus and Groa to fall prone. The Fire Demon shoots Morthwyl, bloodying him but Morthy reacts by healing himself. I also take fire (get it?) from the Fire Demon, followed up by one of the Acid Demons bloodying me. Groa stands up, casts one of her mighty spells on the Fire Demon and Sibriex simultaneously, bloodying the Fire Demon, dazing the Sibriex and boosting the Dwarves’ attacks. Being very badly hurt, I engage my Wildrunners to run far away from these things and then depart this plane for a quick Audience with The Queen. (That would be Queen Tisandra of the Archfey.) Morthwyl attacks the Sibriex, damaging it and pushes it across the river then charges after it and attacks it again, then pushes it again and attacks it again, knocking it prone. He likes a mad man! Ungus casts Sacred Flame but misses and then casts Healing Word on Groa and himself. The Sibriex attacks Morthwyl while it is prone, immobilizing him while he laughs at the thing, antagonizing it. Then it attacks him again and knocks him prone. Meanwhile back on the chariot side of the river, the Fire Demon attacks Groa and misses then flies over the wall and takes cover behind the base of the wall. The Fire Demon in the small fort moves over to another slit and fires at Morthwyl who takes heavy acid damage and gets bloodied but continues laughing and laughing. If I were there to see that, I would have questioned his sanity at the moment. Groa casts a thunder spell on her Fire Demon and one of the Acid Demons, sliding the Fire Demon into the acid river, killing him. She also slides the Acid Demon up out of the river. I return from my little side trip, mostly healed but then take immediate damage from the acidic environment, getting bloodied again. Damn! But changing my Hunter’s Quarry, I attack the Sibriex, immobilizing it. Morthwyl stands up and power attacks it twice, smashing it, greenish pulp slime splashing all over him. But he just laughs and whoops it up! Ungus then flies the chariot across the river and heals him and me. The Fire Demon in the small fort and the other two Acid Demons join forces to shoot Morthwyl while Groa casts a spell on them with Divine Bolts but misses. I then turn my attention on the Fire Demon across the river and bloody it. Morthwyl heals himself, runs to the shore yelling out for us to watch his awesomeness! As he reaches the river edge he launches himself across the river, landing right behind the dry-docked Acid Demon. He had planned to attack it as he was landing but he missed. We applaud him anyway. Now Ungus flies the chariot back across the river, healing Morthwyl and me and buffing up his attacks, then he attacks the Demon next to Morthwyl. The Demon in the small fort moves back to one of the slits facing the river and shoots Morthwyl. Also, the Demon next to Morthwyl attacks him then teleports himself back into the acidic river. A third Demon also attacks Morthwyl as Groa castigates the bloodied Demon in the river, killing it! Then I shoot another Acid Demon twice. Morthwyl moves backward, gets a running start and jumps the river a THIRD time, hurtling past the chariot while Ungus fist pumps the air. Ungus then casts his famous Prophecy of Doom on the Acid Demon in the river which retaliates by attacking him. Groa then attacks the Acid Demon with Divine Bolts, bloodying and dazing it and sliding it out of the acid once again. Then I shoot the one that is still in the river, killing it. The only one left now is the Fire Demon in the small fort. So Morthwyl moves around to the back door and knocks on it saying “hellooooo!” Too funny. Ungus heals me and himself and the Fire Demon in the fort shoots Ungus. Groa jumps out of the chariot, falls down, stands up and throws a lightning bolt right thru the slit, dazing it. I then move right up to a rear window slit and noticing it is still focused on the direction of Ungus and Groa, I let my arrow fly killing it!
We take a very short rest and then we say we should search the area but before we can even start, we hear a big splash and see something coming down the same waterfall where arrived. On guard! But we are pleased and astonished to see a big black elephant tethered to a blue Beholder rise up and come floating toward us. It’s Tantron and Gabbe! The door to the hut bangs open and out pops Ressilmae Starlight. He’s yelling for us to come close, saying we have been duped. Hurry, Tick-Tock is in Arantus, conspiring to destroy it. Hammerfast is under attack by the evil Red Dragon, Gharwar and a hoard of Chromatic Dragons. He’s still yelling to us to run and come onboard, there is no time, we must return quickly. Really perplexed, I ask Gabbe who calmly says “I urge expediency Blue Scarabs.” Well, allrighty then. We all get into the hut and exchange small talk with the “kids”, Tress, Bastion and Ace. Morthwyl addresses Gabbe saying he thought we were not supposed to use our powers in Arantus. She tells him this will be the last time we can expend our greatest powers in Arantus, in order to save the Nentir Vale. As Gabbe floats us up and back thru the rift, picking Kuiperia up along the way, Ressilmae further explains that Tick-Tock duped Zandrian into believing there were pacts being made with the Demon Lords of the Abyss. In reality no such thing was happening. It was all a charade played out as a diversion to get us out of Arantus. (It pains me to admit it but Berrian was right! Just don’t let him know that!) We leave the Ruins of Fastormel at top speed. In the distance we see the native Chromatic Dragons battling the invading Dragons. A particularly familiar White Dragon spies Ungus looking out of the hut’s door and flies straight toward us. Pulling up short, next to a nervous Tantron, the old female Bitterstrike asks Ungus to mount her. She advises us that Gharwar is devastating Hammerfast and Tick-Tock and several smaller Beholders are there as well. My head is spinning as I contemplate what happened to us. . . .