For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Having vanquished once and for all the evil that was Mordecai’s Doom–and freed the spirit of the patriarch himself–the party descended the remaining steps towards the plateau which remained beyond: there, the Cursed Smithy of Larach-Umbriol could be seen, and it is there that they hoped to find those whom were sought so dearly. A steel gray dome towered over the structure on the cusp of an overlook of the swamplands far below; atop it stood a massive iron statue of a man clad only in a loin cloth, muscular and powerful as he skewered the very sun on a spear of blackest steel. Among the group there was no doubt–this had to be the site the spirit of Gerrant of Gilboath had spoke of.
Entering the immense archways of the smithy, the party found a massive forge fashioned in the shape of some strange and demonic frog–the smell of veritable brimstone on the air as dark shadows still lurked beneath the manse of the dome itself. No sooner had the adventurers began to set foot within the smithy than they were assailed by iron figures like that of the dome above–four iron golems fashioned in the likeness of Larach-Umbriol launching an attack, each toting huge ranseurs wreathed in evil energy. Much to Emma and the others’ astonishment, these golems fought with skill and tactics–utilizing potent maneuvers with deadly precision as a great melee unfolded. For constructs, such was unthinkable–but after a tense and brutal exchange, one of the golems was felled only to reveal a greruor–a frog-like demon within, piloting the creation!
Slowly but surely the party began to mette out a victory, for they had come too far and fought too hard against the doom to be deterred by such wicked creatures; as two of the golems and frogs were felled, it was discovered that the demons had been gated to Golarion–for their remains stayed where they had been slain. With only two of the golems remaining, the party ventured deeper into the smithy–and it is then that a colossal shadow began to descend from the dome above! A titanic shadow centipede revealed itself, lashing out with a terrifying spread of strength-sapping negative energy; however, the adventurers unleashed their full fighting prowess against their remaining opposition and swiftly destroyed the shadow and routed the remaining demons with a ferocious finality.
All the more weary and beleaguered from their battles, the party set to quickly exploring the wings of the smithy–and there discovered Iramine and the matron alike, suspended by strange chains over pits encircled by runes and elaborate symbols. Surrounding these pits were the dessicated remains of several cultists to each side, seemingly struck down by unknown vile magics–while within the pits, frightful tentacles slowly grew skyward far below, recognized by Cassandra’s arcane knowledge as a veritable embodiment of gluttony. Whatever foul ritual had been in mind, Meryk and Brother Vang would have none of such–and set about quickly to rescue the pair from their fates.
As Pandora and Gothroc worked with Brother Vang to recover the Matron and Meryk Iramine, at the center of the smithy Emma found herself fascinated with the immense black anvil above the wicked forge. With an eerie feeling of deja vu, the barbarian approached the forge as if compelled to do so–hauling herself to rest upon its surface; there, Emma was struck with strange visions of a towering, shadowy figure not unlike the likeness of the statue above the smithy–striking fiercely upon her vantage with a massive hammer as heat and resonance flared. Some distraction roused anger from the shadow giant, drawing him away–and Emma found herself with the sense of being swept up by another, before being carried through a dimensional door.
While Emma lay in her seeming trance, Cassandra in turn felt a flare of heat from on her person–discovering it to be the sizable ruby she had received from the Sunset Captain; the ruby appeared to be reacting to the heat of the forge–and after some hesitation, Cassandra approached such and thrust the gem within its flames, feeling an immense well of intense heat as the center surged around her. Through the ruby, Cassandra was then able to observe a gathering of efreeti with a djinn before their ranks amid a sea of fire and ash; the djinn seemed to regard the sorceress with bemusement, stating that it had taken her long enough to make the connection.
Having long pined for contact with genie-kind, Cassandra was overjoyed–and in their exchange, learned that the djinn and his fellows could be called upon once by the sorceress, and that they would have much to discuss in the future. Able as well to utilize her teleportation magic through the ruby as a focal point, Cassandra found the contact closed–but the sorceress had been changed, an aspect of her being revealed–and to all others assembled, the sorceress’ hair had become a bright red as the heat of the forge blazed on. Within the wings, however, all was not well–for it was discovered that powerful magic had been inlaid into the chains and markings surrounding the captured duo–vile magic of Argonax the mad!
In tandem Iramine and the matron were forcibly freed, but not without a backlash of potent magic washing over their would-be rescuers; Pandora and Gothroc were changed by the vile magic, as too were Meryk and Anselme–though to what ends and what means, none present could truly discern. Hastily gathering up treasures and supplies from within the smithy, the party set out to flee its confines–though not before recovering the great anvil at its center. Molten slag began to bubble forth from the forge with its removal, and as the party fled the smithy of Larach-Umbriol the legendary giant’s statue toppled from the peak of the dome, collapsing onto and crushing much of the party. To their relief, no one was killed–and recovering their fellows, the party was swift to depart the temple-city of Tsar and return to the Camp.
Back at the camp, the party set about recovering from their ordeals and preparing to return to the Chaos Rift that they might finally lay Gerrant of Gilboath’s spirit to rest. Iramine shared what she had observed in her captivity–for several cults, it seemed, had centered their activity within the temple-city of Tsar now. The Whispering Way’s presence had grown all the more potent, a Black Ark spied near to the mountains at the peak of the city as it had at the Isle of Terror so long ago. As well, strange men and women resembling members of the Cult of Razmir had been present–though to what end, she could not say. Emma went on a sojourn to the Children of Steel to seek out their leader, Inaris–for she was as well as high priestess of Gorum. Sharing her troubling visions, Emma sought guidance from Inaris–who declared that the signs Emma bore on her person were a maker’s mark–and indeed, that the barbarian may truly have been a weapon of some magnitude. Emma was troubled, but decided that she yet had much to contemplate ‘neath woeful tidings ahead.
In their rest, Meryk sought Cassandra’s aid to transport Iramine and several others to Vigil for safe-keeping during the interim; with this accomplished, the party gathered together and prepared to teleport to the site of the tomb of the Last Justicar deep within the Chaos Rift–but Cassandra’s magic could only take a few individuals at a time. As the sorceress arrived with Emma, Gothroc, Meryk and Brother Vang en Tow–the five were immediately ambushed by several high priests of orcus lying in wait, the gathering wreathing Cassandra in dimensional anchors! Abruptly then an immense and terrifying undead apparition emerged, a Death’s Hand–capable of claiming the souls of the slain with powerful attacks.
What followed was a tense and terrible battle as the five struggled against staggering odds; back at the Camp, Pandora and Anselme soon grew worried at the prolonged absence of Cassandra’s return, seeking out the Usurer to purchase a scroll for their own teleportation–but by the time the pair had arrived, death had already been dealt in great measure. Cassandra’s efforts of a prismatic spray had inadvertently turned Gothroc to stone in the course of laying waste to several of the high priests before she herself was slain–and only Emma and Brother Vang still stood in the face of the fierce foe that was the Death’s Hand.
Their numbers swelled and spirits rebolstered, however, the party renewed their fight; Brother Vang and Emma fought in tandem against the Death’s Hand, provoking the wicked thing to lay Emma low and dying; through heroics, the barbarian managed to stave off death for a moment–only to be dealt a coup de grace by a wicked priest of Orcus thereafter, determined to destroy the party once and for all. Leone was killed by the Death’s Hand as it pursued Anselme and Brother Vang then, the duo loosing powerful divine magics from their arsenal in an effort to destroy the fiend. As the last few of the high priests began to fall, Pandora utilized strange magics recovered from the Crooked Tower–and managed to swallow the last of the high priests whole with a Gruesome Appetite, much to the unsettling of her fellows.
As sunbeams and divine power were unleashed in zealous fervor, the Death’s Hand at long last withdrew from the field with an ominous call–leaving the trio to see to those who had died on the cusp of Gerrant’s tomb. Doing what they could to recover those remains, the party ventured into the Justicar’s resting place and sought out his restless spirit with the dark anvil on hand. Entering the innermost sanctum of the tomb, Gerrant of Gilboath appeared once more before the party as a soundless sigh seemed to fill the chamber as the altar was returned. Gerrant thanked the party dearly, stating that his soul had at long last been freed–yet though he was now called to Iomedae’s side, their actions had not gone unnoticed.
Gerrant of Gilboath rewarded the party with his powerful weapon, a holy bastard sword fashioned of raw positive energy and light–that they might carry it once more into the glorious battle against evil for which it was intended. As well, the Last Justicar offered a solemn boon to the heroes before him–that he would leave the halls of the immortal Justicars one more tame upon their call, to fight at their side and lend them aid in the most dire of times. Such could only be done once, however–before he would return forevermore to Iomedae’s service. Bidding the adventurers to venture forth against the darkness again, Gerrant of Gilboath’s spirit departed from the tomb–a hard-earned sense of peace descending over the party. Their quest complete, the adventurers prepared to return to Camp–for there was ever more work to be done within the temple-city of Tsar if they were to thwart the vile machinations of Orcus and the many cults therein…
Pandora’s Story (Part II) has also now been posted, you can read it here!