For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Once amenable arrangements had been solidified with the quelled gargoyle clan, the group gathered up their newfound wealth and treasures before brokering a night of rest within the relative ‘safety’ of the aerie. While sleeping Meryk dreamt of dark recesses–while Brother Vang received a vision of a great bastion of light hidden away deep within the reaches of the rift. Upon the morrow, the party commiserated before concluding upon a venture to the very heart of the canyon beyond the aerie–and there, they would seek out the source of Brother Vang’s portentous dream.
Making their way down the cliff from the aerie, the party deployed their newly acquired folding boat and began to row their way along the waters in the canyon; soon a growing current began to make itself evident, and from the air Anselme spied an immense waterfall trailing off into a terrible abyss at the very end of the canyon. Quickly the group made their way to the wall of the canyon to halt their continuation of the currents–and stood at the cusp of the falls, a distant structure spied hidden away in the recesses of the canyon beyond.
Down below the opposite cliff stood more than six hundred feet out and away from the waterfall–while the powerful current carried a further drop of what could be hundreds more feet into a blackened abyss. Wary of such an unknown and utilizing a variety of magics, the party thereafter began to climb their way down and away from the sun, poised precariously over that frightful drop into the underworld realms as they ventured to the hidden stretch of land in the rift.
Shrouded in shadows, the party advanced once a solid footing was found–and after scarcely an hour soon came upon what appeared to be the site of some long-displaced burial tomb. At the base of the cliff sat a structure of white marble embedded into the cliff–while an immense stone slab blocked passage into the site. Nevertheless the visage seemed all too familiar to Brother Vang–and so the party proceeded to investigate it further. No sooner had they drawn near to the place than several noxious clouds erupted over their midst, blinding and choking the adventurers as stinking banks of fog engulfed them.
The party was waylaid by small jackal-headed azizou demons flitting in and out of invisibility; most struggled to hurry free from the growing collection of clouds, that they might regain their breath and footing. Soon enough, Anselme was able to encapsulate his fellows in bubbles of breathable air–and as the demons gathered about Meryk in an effort to slay the inquisitor, Cassandra loosed a timely fireball as the man dimensional-stepped to safety, ending their foul-smelling threat.
Weaking the stone slab with further magic, the group stood at the ready as Emma made short work of the barrier; beyond, Pandora ventured ahead into the long undisturbed recess. The chamber was found quiet and peaceful, with cracked murals depicting images of the life of a pious man in white robes tending to the sick, the poor and the needy. All throughout the structure were signs of disarray–with canted floors and cracked ceiling and walls suggesting it had been displaced by some great movement in the past.
Spying a flask of iron sitting in the center of the room, Pandora was immediately suspicious–and swiftly identified it as the trap that it was, with lemure demons compressed curiously in a small space beneath it. Disarming the trap, Pandora turned to a small adjoining chamber with a tan floor askew with the rest of the structure. Again suspicious, the drow was quick to recognize a dun pudding lying in wait–and with an expeditious casting of resistance to acid, the huge ooze was quickly dispatched with minimal threat to the party.
Finally, the group shored up and advanced deeper into the sepulcher, entering into an anteroom and discovering therein an immense, ram-headed daraka demon–its body covered in a writhing carpet of living scorpions. Immediately the beast loosed a spell which rendered Pandora feeble of mind–and as the drow wandered away from the fight and began conversing with the golden statue of Asmodeus she’d received from the gargoyle treasures–Emma, Anselme and Leone engaged the frightful beast while the others struggled to find space to enter the fray.
Heavy blows hammered down as the daraka danced with its foes, while Leone soon shied away from the beast once its pelt of scorpions had dealt the lion significant dosage of poison; all the while, the group began to discern the gleeful calls of a smaller voice–and after several punishing rounds with the daraka and mis-fired glitterdust, between Cassandra’s magic and Leone’s sense of smell a quasit was revealed and pounced upon.
Professing himself to be ‘Rat-Bait’, the quasit was swift to bargain for its safety in light of the now-slain daraka’s passing; Brother Vang agreed to a more ‘peaceable’ banishment of the quasit to its origins once it had woven the tail of the being in the chamber beyond. Meryk was able to peer past the doorway ahead with his powers, discerning what appeared to be a vulture-headed vrock woman–but ‘Rat-Bait’ spoke of an angelic hope whom had stood as guardian of the sepulcher. Having failed to dispatch her in prior engagements, the quasit and his daraka minion had instead loosed a beguiling chain upon her which twisted her to her present state.
To the chagrin of his fellows, Brother Vang called upon divine magic to banish the quasit home–though ‘Rat-Bait’ was quite pleased with the outcome in lieu of being slain. With this, Brother Vang elected to utilize a scroll to seek a planar ally from Iomedae, with the hope that such might help to establish some parlay with the entity beyond; the lady Azla, a legion archon arrived to aid Brother Vang and his companions–and the party enlisted her services in driving back the forces of evil for three days hence.
With their new companion, the party ventured into the next chamber whereupon they were beset by bow fire from the twisted guardian; in startlingly short order however they were able to subdue her unharmed–quickly seeing to the removal of the chain which bound and twisted her form. The beguiled hope was freed then, and upon her recovery spoke of her role in guiding pilgrims who sought to visit the last of the Justicars of Aroden interred here. The angel showed the party the path to the burial chamber beyond before resuming her timeless vigil.
Descending a ladder and making their way down a long passageway, the party arrived in a vaulting subterranean chamber with a high domed ceiling. More murals were painted, though these were far more vibrant and vivid than those observed before–depicting painted rows of kneeling pilgrims all facing the far end of the room. Above, the dome was painted as if a cerulean sky rife with angels and celestial beings, all weeping and reverent of the far end of the chamber.
There, at the back of the room a pedestal was found holding a massive spear point with a broken shaft, forged of some dark metal pitted with corrosion and foul ichor; beside the wicked weapon was a large blacksmith’s hammer of cold iron–while between the pair lay a cloven skull. Beyond the pedestal rested a crystal bier upon which the beatific form of a handsome knight–indeed, the very many depicted by the precluding murals–lay in peaceful repose. Covered in shining plate armor, the figure was marred only by a gash in his breastplate–while his gauntleted hands still clutched a sword which glowed with holy light.
As the group explored the chamber, Brother Vang bore first witness to the emergence of an apparition over Sir Gerrant’s remains–the Justicar himself speaking directly to the inheritor crusader. Sir Gerrant recounted a betrayal most foul in battle against the hordes of Orcus, wherein a captain of the Army of Light–their name stricken from memory by the gods for their betrayal–led their company into a terrible ambush in order to lure Sir Gerrant to their aid.
Upon his arrival, Sir Gerrant found the company gripped with undeath, his former allies turning upon him; beset, the Justicar smote the betrayer and struggled to route demon and undead alike–but in his moment of distraction, a foul cloud giant of demonic blood struck a mortal blow with a spear forged of darkness. Now, Sir Gerrant was ever more denied his final respite–and implored Brother Vang and his fellows to seek out the anvil upon which the spear had been forged, for its existence yet anchored his spirit to this realm.
To this divine charge, Brother Vang agreed and the spirit of Sir Gerrant departed; the angelic hope entered the burial chamber, providing the party with the blessings of Iomedae–before imparting upon Brother Vang access to ancient divine power which would allow the inheritor crusader to wield a holy sunspear against wicked foes.
Emerging from the sepulcher after paying their respects, now refreshed and revitalized, the party once more turned to magic in order to make their ascent; with an eye turned now towards revisiting the box canyon and cave from which they’d previously fled, the group began overland through the chaos rift to seek out their fates again.
For the better part of the day they marched together, though thankfully finding scarce the force which had so frequently plagued them; instead margoyles were crossed, though now peaceable to the party–and soon enough they returned to seek the lair of the ettercap that they might rest again. However, in the party’s absence some force had obliterated the cliff-side den–and further, had set out a collection of petrified adventurers, their bodies broken and smashed alongside a sign planted with warning, demanding to be left in peace.
Roused and undeterred, the group rallied and set about preparing themselves mentally and physically–enacting magic that they might fly or swiftly climb into the maw of treacherous cavern ahead and engage their unknown foe. Just as a powerful burst of lightning lashed out from the cavern’s maw, Emma suddenly snapped–revealing a deep schizophrenia which she had contracted from her ordeal with the allips nights prior!
Swiftly the confused barbarian attacked Gurg nearby, in turn provoking the hill giant to return blows–and with this unexpected infighting, the party’s advance became split, with Anselme and Leone breaking off far in the lead. A bolt of lightning again arched out from the rear of the cave, seemingly cast by the statue of a man with his arm outstretched towards the entrance; Leone was first to reach the denizen beyond however and Anselme swiftly drew back when the lion rather suddenly was turned to stone.
With this, the battle had truly begun: Old Death would not go quietly. As Meryk, Pandora and Cassandra made their way up and into the lair, Brother Vang was able to abate Emma’s condition in the interim and placate Gurg from his fury. Azla flew onward at the vanguard of the group and joined by Emma and Gurg, the trio moved most directly to attempt to engage Old Death in direct combat; together they faced a terrible and monstrous foe, half-dragon and half-basilisk with many wickedly powerful limbs and a devastating breath weapon.
Advancement against Old Death was slow as he continued to withdraw deeper into his lair–and for a time the way was obscured by a cloud of volcanic ash rendered by Anselme. Pandora recognized a derro sorcerer casting from a hidden ledge and broke off to pursue the under-dweller, exchanging blows which soon startled the lady drow before the pair clashed with arcane energies; after receiving a vicious injury, the mad sorcerer rendered himself invisible and began to flee from Pandora–who was now joined by Anselme and Cassandra in the upper tunnel while Meryk cautiously advanced to enter the fray in the main caverns.
An earth elemental was summoned to sense the derro and with it, Anselme and Pandora were able to flush the sorcerer out of the tunnel–the creature narrowly escaping death as they continued a hot pursuit and managing then to elude their further attentions. By now, Old Death had viciously torn through the considerably durable duo that was Gurg and Emma, with both laid out before him as he exchanged blows with the archon Azla; with her flaming greatsword the divine legionary managed to narrowly remain engaged once Brother Vang advanced to offer powerful aid to his allies.
Old Death was driven further back, now forced against the wall–and fighting with all the furious fervor of a mad beast against the invading adventurers. Blood soaked the cavern floor as bodies lay strewn about, battered and on the verge of death–while between Emma, now revived, Azla, and Meryk a martial onslaught continued, joined by powerful magic loosed by Cassandra from the upper ledge nearby.
Time and time again Pandora and others could feel themselves beginning to petrify, only narrowly avoiding a stony fate by virtue of heroic hearts; Old Death began to show signs of wavering, but in turn the party had drawn very near to a route themselves as jaws and claws tore at them in relentless fury. From his vantage afar, Meryk was suddenly assailed by an unseen enemy–a high priest of orcus revealing himself and attempting to slay the inquisitor with a single stroke from which the man only narrowly managed to shirk the brunt of the foul magic.
With an unexpected ally in the priest, Old Death roused to a final bolstered assault–but at long last collapsed under the continued assault of the party, unable to contend with so many foes in such a weakened state–and with his fall, a great terror of the Chaos Rift had been slain. Terrified that the high priest would all too eagerly animate the half-dragon’s corpse, the party managed to put down that servitor of Orcus before he could muster such an effort–and were left then in their exhausted, bloodied and battered states to regroup and recollect themselves.
Though pushed very near to the brink themselves, the party managed to avoid any fatalities or further petrification–and once Old Death’s blood had been collected, Leone was restored to flesh and blood again. Not only had the battle served to further season the adventurers in their experiences however–for their hard-pitched fight had earned them access to their dread foe’s considerable hoard of treasures and wealth, a find which was met with much rejoicing.
Between this and their bounty from the gargoyles secured, the group at long last had found funding with which to better equip and prepare themselves for the trials in Tsar to come–but first, they would need to make their way back across the desolation–and to see to satisfying their agreement with Otis and Lortis. For now, the party rested as Anselme all too eagerly began to count coin and tally their findings; after the battle which they had survived, the adventurers had most certainly earned such a respite, however brief it would prove to be…