For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Poised before the control room deep within the Foundry, the adventurers began to dismantle and destroy what they could of the mechanisms before them; the firing of the immense super-cannon had been prevented–and now the party deigned to take measures that it may not be engaged again. Through a small vantage port, however, a great shadow was spied coming to settle over the massive cannon beyond the bunker–and to the group’s dismay, the Black Ark had arrived–lowering four massive anchors down as golems began to secure them to the potent weapon!
Cassandra swiftly began loosing disintegration magic, hoping to damage the weapon beyond repair–while the rest of the party, observing through the clockwork spies which littered the facility, began to see figures in black robes and platemail beginning to enter the Foundry from outside. Emma quickly moved to form a blockade in the hall before the control room while Meryk joined Cassandra in attempting to damage the cannon; Pandora, with her breadth of linguistics, managed to deduce several apparent defense mechanisms within the control room and promptly began to activate them.
Through the vantage of the clockwork automatons, the party was able to observe several of the assaulting figures waylaid by a prism golem before being forestalled by security shutters and other constructs; this bought the others time as they continues their efforts to beat back the golems outside, but things went rapidly awry when a Deathgate opened up within the control room–loosing reapers upon the adventurers.
Carnage ensued for nearly a minute afterward, with the party divided between damaging the grand cannon, beating back the growing tide of reapers loosed from the deathgate and simultaneously attempting to close it with haunt siphons–and combating the darkly-garbed figures breaching the Foundry from beyond. Emma tangled ferociously with her foes while Zantric and Pandora fought with a trio of shadow dancers who managed to slip into the control room; Cassandra was slain by the assassins, but Brother Vang managed to imbue the sorceress with a breath of life before her spirit departed.
With the situation rapidly escalating but significant damage dealt to the cannon, the party withdrew from the site through words of recall and teleportation magic before suffering any further casualties. Once back at the Camp, a swift effort was made to tend to wounds and re-stocking supplies before turning their focus towards the Maze: there, a statue of the nine disciples had been spied before, yet now a frightful ultimatum had been laid out. From extensive studies of the statues recovered thus far and the energies coalescing in Tsar, a potentially devastating deadline loomed–if measures were not taking to interfere with the upper echelon of Orcus’ minions, in little more than a month doom would arrive in Golarion.
Taking the fight to Orcus’ strongest minions in Tsar would help the party to buy additional time–and from what the group managed to gather through divinations and discourse, General Plaguebone could be found within the High Church at the center of the Maze. Rumored to be counted among the strongest adversaries yet standing within the temple-city, the group went to great lengths in preparing their magical defenses and arsenal before setting out into the city once more, ascending to the high terrace that they might penetrate the Maze once and for all.
Packed, readied and prepped for trouble the party arrived at the border of the Maze and steeled themselves for the inevitable onslaught ahead; however, a mysterious robed half-orc emerged from a dark alleyway, signaling the adventurers down before approaching for parlay. Identifying himself simply as Kain, the stranger suggested that the group might benefit from his aid in infiltrating the Maze undisputed–in exchange for access to important resources within the Citadel, should they be successful in its return. Though dubious of the fellow, the party agreed with the conception that the enemy of one’s enemy may be a friend–and Kain spoke of his intent to use such resources to ‘rescue’ a close friend, when the time came.
With an agreement reach, the party donned robes and unholy symbols of Orcus and concocted a collaborative disguise before following their ‘guide’–weaving in and out among alleyways and side streets as they endeavored to avoid undue attention. In the course of their delving into the Maze, the party came upon a group of monsters which had slain what appeared to be another party of adventurers–but not wanting to shirk their ruse, elected to move on without incident, passing as well a bawdy tavern seeming filled with a menagerie of raucous creatures.
After a dizzying weave through the Maze proper, the party arrived at the precipice of the High Church–a vast and imposing structure singled away from those which surrounded its plaza, boasting derelict grounds and a wrought iron gate around its perimeter. Still intending to avoid incident, Pandora swiftly saw to easing the party’s passage through the gate with some skillful maneuvering before the adventurers quickly made their way inside the sizable doors of the front entrance to the church.
Inside the antechamber, the party was quickly plunged into darkness before being ambushed by darkmantles and a pair of bebiliths; such foes were far beneath the prowess of the adventurers now, however, and were quickly dispatched with little effort on their part. Beyond, Pandora found a small hallway with busts of previous bishops for the church–and as the party proceeded through, the mouths of the busts opened and loosed a wail of the banshee! Much to the party’s collective relief, no one was slain by the incident and the group hastened past the obstacle to clear it.
Ahead, the massive main hall of the High Church loomed with countless stone pews and a towering icon of Orcus at the center stage above a great altar at its apex. Trailing down the main aisle, the party began to hear a clamor from behind–and turned to find what appeared to be nearly forty vrocks in the midst of a dance of ruin of frightful proportions! Among the pews and aisle below, further vrocks were spied–and the party wasted little time engaging them in battle, the countdown to the dance’s completion perilously swift.
It did not take long to discover that the vrocks had been benefiting from the magic of mirror image, making them appear far more numerous than they truly were–but even with such a misgiving, nine of the vulture-like demons still posed a difficult obstacle, with many members of the ruinous dance in progress beyond most of the party’s reach. As the group took up better positions and began to engage the demons, the immense stained glass window above shattered–and in swept a hulking vrock bearing fearsome demon armor whom descended upon Brother Vang with a vicious fury: General Plaguebone had entered the fray!
Brother Vang would have been slain outright were it not for a dimensional intervention from Pandora–interjecting herself in the way of a fateful blow. Laid prone, Brother Vang struggled to escape the General’s wrath while the others doubled back to engage him–yet all found the champion of Orcus to be nigh impregnable and scarcely assailable with weapon and magic alike, his protective bulwarks mighty in their breadth. Wading into battle, General Plaguebone cut viciously against the adventurers with the blade ‘Soulcleaver’, slaying Zantric in an exchange of fierce melee–though not before the paladin had managed to deal the General significant wounds in kind.
Cassandra was laid low by the ruinous dancing of the vrock ensemble, Pandora similarly slain–while Brother Vang moved quickly, working to avoid the General and mend the grievous wounds his fellows sustained. Several of the vrock were slain slowly but surely, but the considerable force leveled against Plaguebone proved arduous–for most blows were turned aside by the anti-paladin’s considerable defenses and his resilience to magical assault was equally formidable. Changing tacts, the party instead endeavored to disable their powerful foe–laying Plaguebone prone and attempting to disarm him and sunder his shield; as the battle continued to unfold, ground was regained–and the adventurers began pressing their opponent with fierce persistence.
Beaten back and hard-pressed at long last, General Plaguebone seemed to issue a telepathic order to the vrocks assembled before teleporting away from the battle at hand; those demons who remained attempted to lay low the survivors of the party with another dance of ruin’s conclusion, but by now their own defenses had been assayed and the damage was lessened considerably with energy resistance and powerful healing. Once the remaining vrocks had been dealt with, the party quickly made their way to the rearmost chambers of the church where the disturbing pillar of energy had been observed from outside.
Once in what had at one time been the inner sanctum of a bishop, Emma and the others discovered an immense pearl beneath an impossible pillar of foul energy channeled from beyond the pall above through holes in the ceilings. Sundering the magic of the pearl, Emma brought it to barrel downward from the force of the beam–erupting a crater through the very floor as energy began to arc out of control. Anselme was struck by a stray blast and blown free from the room before Emma, seizing the moment again, delivered a sundering blow against the pillar itself–cleaving the wicked magic with a cacophonous boom!
Abruptly the pearl erupted from the basement of the church, catching Emma as it ascended with alarming speed and carrying the barbarian skyward; a shockwave rippled forth from where the pillar had collected, blowing apart furniture and loosing a terrible clamor through the church. As dark clouds rumbled and crackled above, Emma managed to dismount the cracked pearl and began free-falling back towards the church; acting quickly, Anselme met Emma during her plummet–the young druid bringing the barbarian to rest beside the very statue the party had so sought.
With palpable relief, the duo recovered the statue of the disciple before descending from the bell tower, regrouping with the survivors of the party in the chamber below. General Plaguebone was nowhere to be found, but the statue had been successfully recovered and–perhaps more importantly–the adventurers had bought themselves more time in their tackling of the remaining threats in Tsar. More yet remained of the High Church itself, however: the undercroft of the great structure had not been explored and the group was anxious to see what treasures might be hidden away within…