For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
This write-up was so lengthy that I decided to split it into two parts–check out the first part here!
By now, travel to the temple-city had grown more swift for the adventurers with their available means–and with the Children of Steel bivouacked in control of Kirash Durgaut, passage into the lower city had been made easier. Nevertheless, the threats within the city remained numerous and potent–all the more so among the higher tiers beyond.
Making quick time, the adventurers made their way to a derelict ruin where the Khanjar was believed to reside; soon after their arrival, they were faced with a great many of the enigmatic dragon’s monk disciples–the path barred as a booming voice sought the reason for their visit. The party presented in parlay a desire to form an amenable relation with the woodwrack dragon, insisting that since the Khanjar had a pulse he was intrinsically opposed to the arrival of Orcus on Golarion.
Ultimately, the meeting was something of a stalemate–but the group was able to glean from the Khanjar two locations of interest: the Foundry, said to be the site of an experimental super-weapon intended to fell even the likes of gods, an the Cathedral of Pain–a site of vile worship and great evil. Departing from the Khanjar’s lair, the party began to traverse the Harrow Lanes once more–but it was not long before they were accosted by a strange knight in brilliant red armor with a sword aflame.
Pandora recognized the fellow as Red Sun, one of the trio of servants of Baba Yaga herself; hailing the party and announcing himself, Red Sun singled out Pandora–demanding that the drow accompany him to meet with his mistress, such that perilous consequences might arise if she refused. When questioned why, the knight spoke of Pandora’s mother and the plans of prophecy the potent diviner had construed.
After a moment of hesitation, Pandora refused–and a quick, brutal battle ensued; having bombarded the party with fiery magics, Red Sun withdrew and ceded the field–vowing that it would not be the last the group would hear of the debacle. With Mordecai’s Doom well in mind, the party decided to venture to the Cathedral of Pain while awaiting Meryk’s return from his own sojourn, reasoning that they might scout the site before their rendezvous with the ranger. Little did they know, incredible peril lay in wait within those wicked walls…
Entering the great black-stone structure were Emma, Anselme, Cassandra, Brother Vang, Pandora and Gothroc. Within the massive cathedral, the party was soon assailed by ghoul stirges emerging from smoky reaches above, a frightful combination of undesirable foes; not long after the battle had begun, ghast ashborn arachnae spiders joined the melee, further heightening the opposition. Emma and Gothroc tore fiercely through the growing number of foes while Cassandra and Anselme loosed potent magics; Brother Vang had entered his well-practiced tempo of protecting and mending his companions–and for a moment, everything seemed well under control.
It was the broodmother’s arrival which spelled ruin for the party–lowering herself from the smoke above, the ashborn arachnae matriarch boasted a far fiercer mien than that which had been encountered in the Ashen Wastes. Her head instead resembling a frightening skull-like visage, much like her children she was revealed to be undead–though of a terrifying sort–a grim reaper unto herself. Loosing a wail of the banshee, the broodmother leveled fully half the party in a single stroke–with Anselme, Leone, Cassandra and Brother Vang dropping dead in an instant.
Panic set in swiftly as a mad scramble ensued; Gothroc and Emma were quick to fell the remaining undead at the ground level before engaging magical flight with help from Pandora and a potion quaffed. Emma and Gothroc both sought to engage the broodmother–but Emma was unnerved when nearing the creature, born both from her fear of spiders and of the fearsome aura the broodmother held. With the barbarian forced to flee, Gothroc flew to engage the vicious arachnid above as Pandora struggled to help from below.
Amid the carnage, Gothroc was forced to temporarily withdraw and regroup with Pandora, the pair having suffered debilitating wounds; freed briefly from the battle, the brood mother claimed Brother Vang and Anselme’s souls with binding magic, trapping both among her glittering eyes. By now, Meryk arrived on the scene to join the battle–but was nearly killed outright by a finger of death, managing only through narrow luck to remain alive. With ruin laid bare, the surviving party regrouped outside the Cathedral of Pain–but it was quickly decided that they could not afford to depart without recovering and destroying the black gems which contained Brother Vang and Anselme’s souls first.
Once they had recovered from their injuries as much as they were able, Gothroc, Emma, Pandora and Meryk delved back into the Cathedral in pursuit of the broodmother; after clearing the smoke in the main hall, however, she was nowhere to be seen–and so the four entered the great domed chamber beyond, determined to find their foe. There, the four were faced with a gaunt and skeletal looking man in bishop’s attire; with no sight of the broodmother but further smoke above, the party was wary–but Gothroc charged ahead, soon joined by Emma–for it was decided the bishop was a foe which must also be faced.
Gothroc found himself faced with a ghostly choir which emerged above; the fighter moved to fight them, cutting against the keening spirits–only to have their united resonant wail mirror that encountered in the great hall from the broodmother herself. Though Gothroc was stout and strong, his heart gave out–and the fighter was laid dead, leaving only three to carry on the fight. Eschewing engaging the choir, Emma charged straight for the bishop–leveling powerful attacks against the fellow only to discover he was not actually undead. Meanwhile, Meryk and Pandora were able to reveal the broodmother above with fairy fire–for she had been invisible thanks to magic instead.
Emma drove powerful blows against the bishop, a vicious and furious assault–yet in turn, the potent cleric loosed destruction against the barbarian which rendered Emma unto so much ash! Two souls remained, faced with perilous odds. With the broodmother revealed, Meryk focused a barrage of potent arrows against the monstrous creature–while Pandora, utilizing scrolls reclaimed from Anselme’s remains, cast a sunbeam against the undead matriarch. The broodmother descended, dealing a grievous wound to Pandora–but with another salvo of arrows and a second sunbeam, the pair were able to destroy the vile creature.
However, the dark bishop remained as the groaning spirits swarmed Meryk and Pandora alike; Meryk began loosing arrows against the bishop while Pandora managed to destroy two of the six spirits in the chamber. Maneuvering and dodging about, the pair worked to avoid the spectral attacks–with Pandora saved by the scroll of death ward she’d recovered from Anselme’s belongings. Before long, the duo had managed to begin gaining an upper hand against the bishop–only for both to be surprised when he charged headlong after Pandora, entering a feeding frenzy!
Pandora took to magical flight, but was grappled by the gauntling bishop as she went–and the two begin to climb ever higher towards the peak of the dome above. With her frenzied foe gnashing and gnawing at her legs, Pandora loosed a sunbeam down through him while Meryk continued to fire away from below–and just as the pair, wracked and struggling reached the apex of the cathedral’s dome–the bishop was slain, his body falling to crumple at the center of the chamber.
With the threat momentarily abated, Meryk and Pandora quickly set about looting as many valuables as they could carry–for the cost to resurrect those that had perished would be considerable. Once treasure was stowed and bodies recovered, the pair made for a hastened exodus from Tsar–returning to the Camp to sort out corpses and leverage loot against the great deal of diamond dust they now required. Once resurrected, Brother Vang among the others noted that the Cathedral of Pain had proven a costly mistake.
Resurrected, regrouped and at long last prepared, the party made measures to embark on a trek to the shadowy stairs within Tsar where Mordecai’s Doom lurked in wait. Returning to the city, the group neared the accursed site before layering extensive magical boons both arcane and divine upon themselves in preparation for the fight ahead. With this complete, the adventurers steeled their resolve before entering into the darkness of the stairs.
It did not take long for the party to come upon the evil that was Mordecai’s Doom–a towering undead devourer, clearly once a demon of some kind, with the writhing and tormented soul of the patriarch Mordecai still visible within its ribs. The Doom lashed out immediately with powerful magic–black tendrils rising up from the stairs to grapple and seize the party while it loosed a sickly green ray of disintegration in an effort to destroy Brother Vang; the cleric was able to resist the brunt of the magic, and soon after Emma cleaved through the tentacles to sever the magic outright–destroying the magic with a fury.
With this, the battle was engaged–with Gothroc, Emma, Anselme and Leone bearing down on the devourer while Meryk provided support from afar; Brother Vang maneuvered carefully, providing daylight to combat the darkness and efforts to supplement his fellows–but the party lacked Cassandra or Zantric to further back their assault upon the cursed steps, and Mordecai’s Doom suppressed healing magics outright. Each passing moment, Mordecai’s Doom loosed multiple spells–the severity and raw power of its magics staggering and difficult to resist.
As blows rained down, the devourer became harder pressed and dug deeper to ever more terrible magics; loosing blasphemous shouts, the devourer destroyed Leone outright as well as elementals Anselme had summoned. Tearing through the party, Mordecai’s Doom slew Gothroc with deathly magic–before being driven to take flight and vanish into the gloom between Emma and Meryk’s assault. In this brief reprieve, the party was swift to regroup–but the devourer returned nearly at full strength again and the vicious assault was renewed.
Once more a brutal exchange ensued, with arrows and blows aplenty; Mordecai’s Doom yawped further blasphemies, loosed devastating disintegration rays and soul-draining slashes of its claws. Anselme was nearly laid low, fleeing from the steps altogether in a desperate attempt to escape the reach of the devourer’s aura of suffering such that he might mend his wounds; Meryk was knocked free from the stairs and plummeted into the swamp far below.
While Emma and Brother Vang continued to engage the devourer shoulder to shoulder, Pandora slipped past the wicked creature and hurried further down the steps–discovering Mordecai’s weapon where it lay, the Hammer of the Three Gods. Near instantaneously the drow found herself faced with the devourer herself, awkwardly swinging the immense hammer against it before receiving grievous wounds which very nearly drained her soul. Hastening a withdraw back up the steps, exhausted and nearly dead Pandora delivered the hammer to Brother Vang’s waiting hands–and with grim resolve, the crusader set aside his sword and shield before taking up the patriarch’s sacred maul.
Mordecai’s Doom was back swiftly in the fray once more, bitterly fought by Emma and Brother Vang in tandem; after time, Meryk had managed to return to the stairs with magic and rejoined the fray as well. The devourer seemed dauntless, unceasing wounds from the adventurers scarcely seeming to slow it–yet slowly but surely, it had been whittled down, beginning to draw more and more upon the trapped soul of the patriarch to rejuvenate and renew its assault. Still, the tide was slowly shifting–an end within sight.
When at last victory seemed at hand and Brother Vang prepared to deliver a final fell blow of the artifact hammer–Pandora was seized with sudden realization from the divinations in her pursuit of legends and lore; the very same circumstances which would doubtless repeat once again, the very means which had led to patriarch Mordecai’s downfall–and there, Brother Vang was on the cusp of that same-such fate.
Seizing the moment, Pandora interposed herself immediately between Brother Vang and the devourer, loosing a cry that the fates must be swayed–the outcomes changed–and in the absence of Aroden, in a world of prophecies gone awry, she and her companions must forge their own futures. With the interjection, Brother Vang was knocked back along with the others as a powerful shockwave of evil energy was loosed from Mordecai’s Doom; the same curse which had devastated the patriarch centuries ago had been triggered–but in that same stroke, Pandora sacrificed herself that Brother Vang might be spared such a fate.
With both the patriarch and Pandora’s spirits trapped within the devourer, Brother Vang, Emma and Meryk attacked the monster with renewed fervor–divine vigor wreathing the trio then as they fought with a furious resolve. Mordecai’s doom began to devour Pandora’s soul swiftly to power its magics–but with Orcus’ reinforcement of the creature broken and the fates severed, at long last the trio were able to fell the foul, legendary monstrosity together.
Bloodied, beleaguered and short of breath, the three left standing exulted in their victory; Emma took a powerful stride before loosing a mighty yell, a sweep of her blade cutting through the very darkness itself before shattering the remnants of its cursed shroud–bringing light once more to the steps. Patriarch Mordecai’s soul was released, taking now the form of a white dove with an ethereal glow; Pandora’s spirit was loosed as well, the drow left physical and alive once more–exhausted against the steps.
Mordecai’s spirit offered thanks for release from his eternal torment–and bid the heroes to recover the anvil ahead, that they might bring salvation to the last of the Justicars. With this, the patriarch departed amidst a brilliant light potent enough to briefly breach even the pall over Tsar.
Having banished the darkness, slain the dreaded Doom and freed the patriarch of old–the survivors left standing turned their gaze down to the bottom of the steps and the dark forge which loomed ahead. For all that they had endured and their struggle for victory–their work was not yet done; with a worn but stout resolve and Anselme rejoined, the remaining party began to descend the remainder of the steps that they may face what yet lurked ahead and free those dear to them…