Damnation Continued

Unkempt and with an odor that would challenge even Sveta, Cuthalion came down the stairs with a little spring in his step. “My friends! It has taken ages to find you!” he said with a stained toothy smile. Cuthalion moved about the room rambling as the stunned party looked on. Finally, after a lengthy speech about friendship and the many games he enjoyed to play he asked the question that the group knew was coming, “Where is Katsuo’s soul? Which demon lord was holding it?” Everyone knew that if Cuthalion recovered the soul and united with the evil within it that it would spell doom for everyone and everything. Joselin finally broke the silence, “we have nothing to say to you.” Cuthalion nervously began to fidget as his eyes darted around the room. Several of the party could feel his attempts to pry at their minds but they stood fast. “Friends do not treat one another this way Joselin,” he finally said. Joselin looked around at the faces of his comrades. Each of them knew that Cuthalion was more than a match for them. His eyes coming back to Cuthalion, Joselin replied, “Your actions are not that of a friend and I do not consider you such.” Cuthalions famous smile returned as he waved his thin finger at Joselin, “You see! Do you see! Only a friend could be that brutally honest!”

Cuthalion moved to the side of the front window and leaned forward to look out. The cries of many humans mixed with the guttural barks of the infernal tongue could be heard outside. “I have arranged a little game for us. The duke ruling over this area considers all mortals within Darkspine to be criminals and I have assisted in the capture of a few of the nastier rebels.” Sveta sprang to the window to see about two dozen women and children being herded to a wall that faced the front of the Pig n’ Poke. Six massive armored devils led by an Erinyes and bearded devil were driving the mortals into a tight group. “Tell me where I can find Katsuo or witness infernal law being carried out.”

Erinyes

Durge looked at Sveta, “This can’t be allowed to happen!” Cuthalion, leaning next to the window with his arms folded smiled and waited for your response. Raudrogdos, Sveta, and Joselin walked outside just as a massive armored devil grabbed a young boy from the group of “rebels.” Cuthalion followed as the rest of the moved behind. The only noise that could be heard was the cries of the children that had been captured and the wind that was blowing up the street.

Sveta whirled around and delivered a flurry of punches and kicks to Cuthalion who was sent reeling but began to laugh uncontrollably at the attack. Devils charged forward, some meeting Joselin and Raudrogdos, while others attended to more grisly matters. The Erinyes ordered the bearded devil away for help and took flight while she loosed arrows into Orek and Omar. Each of the party members were pressed to their limits trading massive blows with the devils while Jia and Grishma kept the party standing. After the last of the armored devils fell the Erinyes teleported away.

Joselin knew it wouldn’t be long before more devils returned and got the prisoners ready to go. Giving them what food the party had left he told them to flee, knowing full well that they had little chance of surviving for long. As the prisoners readied to leave Raudrogdos turned to Joselin, “This is where we part ways my friend. You and I both know they have no chance alone and I can’t allow that to happen. I hope me meet again.” With that, the giant who had struggled for as long as you knew him with finding his purpose became the guardian of the free people Darkspine and left the party.

By this time Cuthalion and Sumaki had taken a seat inside the Pig n’ Poke. Joselin quickly realized that Omar was sitting and speaking with them. To make matters worse, Cuthalion was giving Omar a couple of items as Joselin approached. “What are you doing Omar?” Joselin asked. To which Omar replied, “Hey man, I’m getting out of here.” Cuthalion, Sumaki, and Omar rose from the table and headed for the door. Joselin blocked the door and raised his sword to Omar. “What did you tell him?” By this time the rest of the party had gathered around the front door. Omar, nervously put his hands up, “Hey man, I don’t want any trouble. I just want to go home.” Joselin firmly stood his ground, “What did you tell him?” Omar backed up still holding his hands up, “I didn’t tell him anything. He is taking me home.” Cuthalion quickly cast an improved invisibility on Omar, telepathically telling him to hide upstairs until he dealt with Joselin. Instead, Omar moved away from Cuthalion and fired an arrow into Cuthalion’s side. Joselin and the rest of the party engaged Cuthalion but he only seemed to become even more amused by your attacks.

What happened next changed everything. Cuthalion dismissed Omar’s invisibility and dominated the weak willed rogue. “Who is holding Katsuo’s soul?” Cuthalion said in an unnaturally deep voice. Omar blankly replied, “Malchenthet.” Cuthalion smiled, grabbed Sumaki, and vanished.

Joselin wasted no time grabbing the devilish barkeep and demanding he go find someone in charge. The devil, who was incredibly shaken by what had just transpired, nodded nervously and vanished. Minutes later the street outside of the Pig n’ Poke tavern was filled with heavily armed devils. Bel, Arch-Duke of the First, had arrived. Bel knew that Cuthalion had come to Hell but had been too preoccupied with the wars on the prime material plane to do anything about it. He was content with monitoring Therizdun’s ward while keeping his focus on the Blood War.

However, with Cuthalion on the move Bel had little choice but deal with the mortals who had trespassed in his realm. After a short and heated dialog between Bel and Joselin it was agreed that the party would be allowed to speak with Furcas in an attempt to trade for the soul of Hans Drubal. Bel revealed that it was likely that Furcas was watching as it was the Duke of Rhetoric and not Bune who had brought the party to Hell. This fact only served to further unnerve the party as it was clear that everything had transpired according to Furcas’ plan and that the party was walking into a trap.

After a short dialog Furcas appeared and told the party that he would be willing to trade the soul of Hans Drubal for another soul of heroic stature. Joselin, fearing that there was no time to bargain, agreed to trade his soul. Furcas hastily drew up a contract to which both Orek and Joselin signed. However, their souls would only be forfeit upon their deaths and not immediately as Furcas had wished.

With the contract signed, Furcas presented the party with a seven foot tall mirror in which could be seen a naked man whose arms and legs were pulled taut by chains that ran into the frame of the mirror. On his head was a helmet that had no openings for eyes or mouth. Other than the tortured soul inside the mirror reflected everything normally. Orek and Grishma believed that the mirror would need to be broken in proximity to Ravage to give Hans Drubal the best chance to re-enter his body. From there the Champion of Pelor would still have to battle Ravage for control.

Bel gave the party access to the portal he had created to the Prime Material Plane which you used. Emerging from the portal the party found themselves in no better a position than they were in Hell. You found yourselves in a massive camp surrounded by Devils. Huge pens where countless mortals were being held could be seen to your south. A large winged and armored devil met you and led you to a tent where you found several tables that had large maps of Adoraith spread across them with troop positions marked across it. Each of the many dozens of maps seemed to have a different plan with different outcomes and contingencies detailed upon them. At the center of the pavilion was a map that showed troop locations as they currently existed. Dozens of fiendish creatures work diligently updating and modifying each map as news from the front came in.

From this devil you learned that most of the demonic forces emerged in Helegrod with a smaller force in Ohtar. Ravage had taken command of a large force and was continuing his push into Morodra. Joselin asked where Malchenthet’s forces were to which the devil replied “She has come personally to the prime and can be found in Khemit.”

The portal created by Bel’s infernal armies appeared in Merethil. Further to the west, the night sky was aglow with the fires of battle. Hell had clashed with the Abyss in the hills of Western Merethil and laid waste to the earth there.

The party left Merethil sickened by what had befallen their lands. In all directions the chaos of war gripped the landscape. However, the utter ruin that now spread like wildfire paled in comparison to the dread that was Cuthalion should he reclaim Katsuo’s soul. Needing time to regroup and rest the party made its way back to Freeport.

Freeport, even by night, was a bustling city but never in its history had it been so deluged by travelers. Soldiers, sailors, refugees, the sick, the wounded, and all manner of displaced people choked the city. The overcrowding led to serious shortages of all resources pushing Freeport to the brink of anarchy. The Captains Council still ran the daily affairs of the city but the defense of the city had been handed over to Admiral Cormanthyr Seastar, a high ranking member of the Tenraishima navy and brother to Cuthalion.

Cormanthyr had many questions for you regarding the fate of his father Lolinder and his brother Cuthalion but other matters were now pressing. He had assembled a massive army at Freeport that included virtually all nationalities and races. However, he was having major issues bringing the orcs under his command in line. They had set up camp east of Freeport and were looting as much as they could carry from the city. Durge and Sveta knew that they simply needed a strong leader to end the chaos and their current clan leader either couldn’t manage or didn’t care. Sveta promised Cormanthyr that she would take care of the situation and force the Ashblood Orcs to obey the admiral’s command or as she put it, “I will kick his ass for you.”

After speaking with Cormanthyr, Celia approached the party and told them that she had gifts and news for them. The drow had never been extremely forthcoming in the past so this came as a surprise. First, she gave each of you an enchanted saddle that she had borrowed from Dorin’s personal collection. “They were used by dragonriders once but I think they will serve us well in their new role.” You were initially confused but Celia escorted you to the front of the Well where Heavy Feather and his flock were resting. The Griffon and his kin agreed to serve as mounts for you during these troubled times.

Your excitement was dulled with her next words. “I was able to briefly speak to Dorin,” she said. Celia was a skilled diviner and used her magic to communicate with her missing mentor. “He instructed me to tell you to ‘Wake the sleeping giant’” The party was baffled by Dorin’s riddle. Did he mean the ‘black’ dragon on the north end of the island? What did he mean? No one in the party knew for sure.

Jia and Celia spoke at length about Sveta’s child Hope. Controversy surrounded the evil half of Sveta’s brood since the day they were born in the Abyss. Sveta had wanted Hope killed fearing that she would one day try to kill her twin, Rosie, but Jia would not allow the murder of an infant. Celia agreed to care for Hope in Jia’s place believing that “a drow matron is just what she needs to learn respect and discipline!” Durge agreed to stay in Freeport with Rosie but also wanted to be involved in the raising of Hope. With that, Sveta’s twins, Rosie and Hope, made Freeport their home.

Damnation Continued

Adoraith Adoraith