Unleashed Continued

Up to this point your ocean voyage had been fairly uneventful.  The signs of battle were all around but your skilled captain managed to avoid all but a single combat.  While debris from warships was encountered daily no bodies were ever found in the wreckage.  At least until the ship was but a day from land when the water became choked with corpses.  As unnerving as seeing so many dead was it was even more unsettling to see that each and every body you inspected had no visible wounds whatsoever.  It was almost as if their very life force had been wrenched from them.  The presence of some unnatural evil was magnified by the complete absence of wildlife.  No sharks, fish, birds, or creatures of any kind could be seen for miles around.   With land in sight the party decided it would be safer for the crew to leave the ship behind and take flight aboard their griffons.  An additional griffon had been brought to carry the massive mirror which bound Hans Drubal’s soul.  Now in the air you could see a growing darkness to the north towards Morodra.  It filled the entire horizon and seemed to pulse and flash as though it were a violent lighting storm.  You had heard stories of the Morodran Hobgoblins simultaneously battling devils and demons even while the warring outsiders clashed.    You estimated that it would take about three days to fly to Dolug Nir where it was reported that Ravage was orchestrating his war from.  The only problem was finding the demon once arriving.  Dolug Nir was a huge complex of fortifications and towers that was undeniably the most impenetrable fortress in all of Adoraith.  As they had done so many times before, the party resolved themselves to crossing that bridge when they came to it and push on.

Despite it’s notorious reputation, Helegrod’s massive eastern forests were some of the most beautiful to behold. However beautiful they were to behold you knew that the beasts that dwelled beneath the canopy of trees were nothing to be trifled with. In the distance the griffons caught sight of what would normally be a disturbing site. A huge flock of wyverns were flying due south with great haste. Even more peculiar was the fact that they were bringing their young with them. Several party members speculated that they were fleeing the Blood Wars to the north.

After flying inland nearly 60 miles thick storm clouds brought rain that forced the griffons to land. As you descended you could see long plumes of coming from a break in the forest. Landing nearby you found an orcish village that had been completely destroyed. Only two survivors were found. One was a young orcish boy of probably 8 years and another was an orc who seemed to be aiding a ravenous demon that was devouring every villager it could find. After killing the demon Orek used his teleport spell to deliver the boy and fugitive orc to Durge in Freeport.

After setting camp a watch was set and most of the party fell asleep. While Joselin was keeping watch a knock was heard at the door to the secure shelter. Answering, he saw an incubus standing outside. The incubus wished to parlay about “events most dire.” he explained that his mistress Malchenthet has been stricken with a madness and locked herself away in her Khemite palace. She refused to see anyone but asked for several party members by name. Panic struck the party as nearly all of you realized what she had done. Consumed by her desire for more power she greedily devoured Katsuo’s soul and the fragment of Tharizdun along with it. The incubus offered a piece of information that would be paramount in defeating Ravage in exchange for the party’s word that they would come to Malchenthet’s aid. Reluctantly, the each of you agreed to try to find a way of freeing Malchenthet from her madness without harming her.

As promised the incubus told you that Ravage made a powerful enemy when the abyss was unleashed upon the Prime Material Plane. The deomonic army that he now leads was under the command of a Balor named Miranon. Miranon had visions of farming souls and spreading destruction until Ravage relieved him of command. The Balor was now in seclusion in the belly of the volcano Karatholos which was about 100 miles east of Dolug Nir. The incubus believed that he would aid you against Ravage if you could convince him that the demon could be defeated. Of course, the Balor was just as likely to kill you.

Armed with a new plan the party once again took flight and made for Karatholos. The volcano was less than a days flight from your current location. The clear skies made flying easy but also made the griffons easily visible from the ground. After arriving at the mountains that snaked their way up the center of Helegrod the task of finding Karatholos was extremely easy. After Miranon had moved into the volcano it had become violently active once again. A huge plume of smoke rose from its caldera and it occasionally belched huge pieces of pumice and rock with loud explosions. The east face of Karatholos was steep and sheer and impossible to climb under these conditions. However the west face slowly sloped down into the ashen fields that lay between the volcano and Dolug Nir.

As your Griffons carefully navigated to the west face of the volcano you could see hundreds of orc slaves hauling powder kegs up the side of Karatholos. Demon overseers were prodding and pushing the slaves into vents and tunnels where the kegs were deposited. A Babau was perched atop a huge boulder near the summit of the volcano trying to coax Miranon from the belly of the mountain. The demon promised that Ravage would bring the mountain down on top of the Balor if he didn’t submit to Ravage’s command.

The party selected the furthest vent from the horde of demons, killed the two overseers there, and sent Joselin and Orek into the mountain. The vent was incredibly hot and required Orek to cast spells to protect against the heat. Descending further you didnt have to walk far before you were standing on a ledge overlooking a flow of lava. Wallowing in the lava and occasionally heaving large boulders about, you would see Miranon the Balor. You found it odd that a being of such immense power would be pouting like a child but this only made you realize just how powerful Ravage must be.

Joselin called out to the demon who swung his great mass around spraying lava against the walls of the cavern. Miranon let out a hideous roar causing Orek to lose his nerve and flee up the tunnel. Joselin stood fast and told that demon that he and his companions had the key to Ravage’s undoing. The massive Balor moved to the ledge where Joselin was perched, the demons burning eyes only inches from the Paladin’s. After several tense moments of discussion, which included the presence of Hans Drubal’s soul, Miranon agreed to help you enter the fortress and unseat Ravage.

Balor

Miranon ascended the great volcano sending demons and orcs fleeing down the mountain. The Babau, believing that he had come to serve Ravage, stood his ground only to be crushed under the weight of the great Balor’s foot. After routing the enemies in the area, Miranon told the party that he will go to Ravage himself and issue a challenge. Before anyone could say a word the Balor teleported away. Joselin felt that this was suspicious. Demons rarely exhibit such courtesy to one another. “Issue a challenge?” Joselin said thinking out loud. “He is up to something…”

A short while later Miranon reappeared and in his usual abrupt tone told the part to prepare themselves for battle. “Very shortly” Miranon barked “you will be facing Ravage’s champion in a battle to the death.” With that the demon teleported the entire party into what you presumed to be Dolug Nir. You were standing in the middle of an arena. Perched high in lavish private seating was Ravage wearing full plate and his Tharizdun tunic. At his side were his demonic consorts. On the other side of the arena was Mirnanon. The stands were seething with demons of all types and sizes. Smaller demons who were foolish enough to join in the crowd were devoured by the larger demons.

Ravage lifted his hand and pointed to one of the massive gates at the west end of the arena. The clatter of chains pulling the enormous portcullis open echoed over the roar of the crowed as the roar of Ravage’s champion revealed that something extremely large was waiting for the party. The entire party was stunned when, from the darkness of the chamber beyond stepped a silver dragon. It was Dorin, still under the command of Ravage.

The great dragon was weakened from months of mistreatment at the hands of Ravage but no less fearsome. As Dorin sluggishly pulled himself into the arena Sveta wasted no time charging the bewitched dragon. The force of her blow striking Dorin flush and knocking him off his feat. Dorin floundered like a fish out of water but finally lifted his head and breathed a cone of ice and sleet striking the bulk of the party. Orek fell lifeless from the attack but, by the grace of Pelor and the Robes of Petron Jia was able to use her Deaths Door ability to save his life. Joselin and the rest of the party fanned out around Dorin while Mirari stood with the mirror.

Even in Dorin’s diminished state he put up a ferocious fight. However, the party was able to bring him down but was careful to render him unconscious rather than killing him. Ravage, seeing that the party was not going to kill Dorin, declared victory as the battle was to the death. Miranon began shouting to the party to kill the dragon. Joselin still was unsure if this was indeed Ravage and delayed in giving Mirari the order to smash the mirror. He needed more time to be sure so he lifted his blade and finished his friend.

Ravage began laughing uncontrollably just as a Hezrou teleported into the arena and attempted to grab the mirror from Mirari. Sveta was ready and delivered a series of blows that left the Hezrou gasping for air on the ground. Mirari then lifted the hilt of her blade and smashed the mirror. Rather than shattering Mirari’s hand plunged into the mirror as if it were thick silvery water. As the mirror began to consume Mirari Hans Drubal pulled himself free. Ravage, whose plan was to watch the party kill their friend and steal the mirror, began to stumble back towards stairs that descended out of the Arena. As Hans Drubal emerged from the mirror he began to struggle with the helmet that was fixed upon his head. Now fully free of the mirror, Hans appeared as a translucent spirit even while the helm on his head remained of solid iron. Joselin stepped forward and grabbed the helm helping Hans force it off of his head. As the helm pulled free and rattled on the ground hand Drubal dropped to his knees letting out a long scream. You could see into the helm and you realized to your horror that the helm showed precisely what Ravage would see. Over the last half a millennium Hans Drubal had to witness each and every one of Ravages evil deeds first hand. Hans, now free, stood up dragging the helm off of the ground. The spirit then leaped into the air pursuing Ravage down the stairs.

Unleashed Continued

Adoraith Adoraith