- With information of Areelu Vorlesh‘s plan in hand, the party return to Defender’s Heart to report on their mission successes. They find that the stronghold had just suffered another attack from the demons and tieflings and it was the third in the last 24 hours. It appears that the demonic host want them out as soon as possible. Tarric is found, bloodied but alive and he bows before his master before falling into line.
- Finding Irabeth Tirabade, she escorts them up to their rooms so they can do a full debriefing. Passing one of the rooms, they find Sera has set-up a small trading post, a place where the survivors can swap and trade for the necessities they want. She was told however, that food was off limits, all food had to be shared to the community at large.She seems to have been quite successful in her venture.
- While sharing the news of the upcoming ritual involving the broken Wardstone the group are given fresh food and wine. Irabeth is chocked by the revelations but agrees that it ties into the reports of a heavy demonic presence around the Grey Garrison. Taking the other reports, she grants them leave as she goes to talk to several scholars and leaders about the demonic plans.
- Heading out, Nyissa Veil checks in on her young protege who seems to be struggling under the pressure and busyness of the trading post. She has “hired” some orphans to help her with inventory and is also brokering sales for other people, taking a nice profit for the work. Noticing her master now watching, she becomes even more flustered and is thankful for the relief of duties when she is given some gold and allowed to head downstairs. Nyissa immediately takes over, much to the dismay of the traders who know she is going to be a much harder sell.
- Meanwhile, Alaenora Thalanis heads downstairs with Tarric to speak with the lost and leaderless paladins and followers of Iomedae. Their faith has been shaken with both the loss of their masters and leaders and the apparent wide-spread corruption in their ranks. Taking them to task, the elven paladin takes command of the men and women and fire them up to go out and do their duty to both their goddess and the crusade. She hands over the holy symbols that she had collected and they place them on a makeshift shrine to Iomedae as tokens of reverence and remembrance. However, she is interrupted by a drunk and belligerent Ekira Corum who is finding her faith at the bottom of a bottle. She is also verbally reprimanded by Alaenora and she slinks off, cursing her name as she goes.
- Ralthanar looks around the defender’s defences and checks on the scouting parties, many of which have returned to help stem the tide of assaults. He is distracted by some yelling and a troop of men are seen running for the walls with demons on their tails. They are escorting a wagon as well as Horgus Gwerm and the woman and baby. They safely make it through and the rich noble is happy to see the barbarian’s face. Red faced and puffing, he admits to doing something nice and donating his stockpile of weapons to the war effort, something that obviously pains him. He shouts the barbarian to some drinks and they while away the day.
- In the evening, Aravashnial enters their room with the aid of Anevia Tirabade. He knows what is coming up for the party and has had men recover a cache of supplies that were owned by the Riftwardens. He welcomes them to take what they need for the battle ahead. It is a veritable assortment of magical supplies and cold iron weaponry. He also presents Nyissa with a potent Wand of Magic Missiles and gives her permission to use with impunity. (She does)
- They leave as Irabeth returns with another man, an aging scholar and former head of the Blackwing Library, Quednys Orlun. After several hours of discussion with the various remaining scholars and leaders, they have decided that the Wardstone fragment is too dangerous to leave as it is. It must be destroyed. Noticing the shock on the party’s faces, they go on to explain that the wardstone wall is failing anyway and that if it falls into Areelu’s hands, then it would be devastating to the remaining armies and countries. They believe that she will turn the magic back on the crusaders who are marshaling on the borders. In one foul swoop, they could destroy every man, woman and beast who have lined up to fight them back. By destroying it first, it takes a potent weapon out of the demon’s hands, despite the great loss to the Crusade.
- As for the strike, they want it small and fast hitting so that the Grey Garrison cannot call for back-up in time. The remaining crusaders and the newly arrived Descendants from below will head into the city and skirmish to keep the remaining cultists and demons distracted. Irabeth informs them that she could never ask someone to undertake such a mission if she was not willing to do it herself. And so, it is agreed that the new Triumvirate; Alaenora Thalanis, Nyissa Veil and Ralthanar along with Irabeth Tirabade will make a daring assault on the garrison and destroy the legendary wardstone before Areelu can arrive. With that, they are told to rest and prepare for a dawn strike.
- Tarric informs Alaenora that he has volunteered to go with the various skirmish teams. He has a red ribbon on his sword hilt. As for Sera, she will stay safe in the Defender’s Heart Inn and asked flat out for magical protection in the form of a wand. While her training is really yet to start, she feels safer with it. Before they step out, Aneevia stops them makes them promise that they return her wife to her safely.
- As dozens of crusader teams strike out in a sunburst pattern, the small strike team keep a low profile and head for the garrison. The city is dimly lit in the early morning light and they easily avoid most patrols as they have been drawn by the noise making crusaders. As the garrison comes in sight, they are ambushed by a half-orc in red plate who calls Irabeth out. He had been apparently waiting in her house for either her or Aneevia to return to due to some old grudge. Shattering Irabeth’s weapon is about the only offensive attack he makes before getting cut down in a flurry of blows and magic missiles.
- Pushing forwards, the khellid scout tries to circle the garrison looking for alternate routes but with the area around it blasted to rubble, there is a lot of open ground. Leaning against a remaining wall of someone’s home, he finds it is weaker than it looks and accidentally topples it, alerting the two demons standing guard outside. The naked, bloated bodies of Prelate Hulrun and the noble traitor, ___, are armed with scythes and await outside the doors of the garrison. Both have been inhabited by vermlek, a foul work like demon who wears the skin of the dead. With such an affront to decency, the party charge and attack, weathering some of he channeled unholy healing before destroying the creatures. With care, the two bodies are placed to the side to be recovered later.
- With no other obvious way in, the Triumvirate and Irabeth use the Chime of Opening they received from Aravashial and hear the sounds of the inner door bars slip and fall. Ralthonar bursts into the small foyer and immediately spots a half dozen surprised tieflings in a side room who were gambling with body parts. With Irabeth at his side, the charge into their midst and start swinging. Nysissa glided into the foyer and with a flick of her slender, manicured hand, blinded several who started flailing in fear. Sweeping past the elven arcanist, Alaenora loosens Radiance from its sheath and stand before Nyissa and begins to strike down any that tried to get past to the defenseless mage. In little time, the disgusting and depraved tieflings are brought down, Ralthonar’s axe causing many an arterial spray over the walls.
- As the remaining tieflings are mopped up, another door opens and two abrikandilu, wrecker demons, sneak in and try to use their magic to make Nyissa flee. Bolstered by their swift victory and by Alaenora’s presence and grace, Nyissa ignores the magical compulsion and lets loose with her wand. Quickly, the barbarian, paladin and half-orc join the fray against the destructive little demons, spilling their blood with abandon. Taking a quick breather, they peer into the room they came from and see the museum wing has been completely trashed. The bodies of several paladins are seen sprawled out on the floor.
- Stopping to take stock of the situation, they explore their immediate surroundings. Nothing of value was in the sitting room where the tielflings were and the foyer’s majestic frieze has been vandalised. In the next room, a small shrine to Iomedae had been set-up and an empty rack sits against the wall. Irabeth informs the group that it was the resting place of Radiance before it was stolen. She is surprised when Alaenora produces it in its new form and speaks how it has been inert since Yaniel’s death. No paladin had managed to light the holy fire of the weapon but it seems to have bonded with the elven paladin, causing the half-orc to look upon the woman with new reverence. The rest of the shrine has been damaged and covered in trash and fecal matter. With both magic and manual cleaning, it is quickly restored and a feeling of tranquility falls upon the shrine. Kneeling on the small prayer stool, Alaenora stares up at the celestial script which reveals a hidden message to the pious.
- Heading north, they push into a small passageway with several doors and choose north again. Opening into a long room that ends with a destroyed and desecrated alter. Six statues line the hall and despite being broken and defaced, the images of Count Magnus Darcarus, Fru Brynhild Eirensdottir, Lady Aspexia Wintrish & Queen Galfrey can be recognised. Three Cultist of Deskari are resting but react with surprising speed to the attacking heroes. While two gather themselves, the leader rushes the door to block them and takes to the barbarian with a savage blow with his scythe. The defiance is short lived as both magic missiles and a greataxe crash into his body, dropping him lifelessly to the floor. With an opening now available, the elven paladin dashes through to meet the other cultists but is suddenly showed in splinters as another door smashes open and a half-finished alchemical golem enters the room, tubes and needles covering his body.
- Aleanora stifles a scream as the creature plunges it needle tipped hand into her, chemicals pumping through into the wound, but strengthened by her divine grace, she resists the foul liquids. Irabeth quick joins her, smashing tubes and hoses with her mace. In the shadow of the door, another form appears, a tiefling clad in leathers and covered with belts filled with potion bottles and bombs. With glee he sends bombs crashing into the barbarian but soon screams in frustration as both paladins start to lay waste to his creation. Nyissa starts a bombardment of magic missiles into the foul alchemist as he continues to rain fire back. As the golem crashes to the ground, the momentary distraction proves his downfall and his brough down by the combined might of the party. Searching his small office and bedroom, they discover Irabeth’s sold sword, bound and ready for a note. It appears that it was about to be sent north to Drezen, to be corrupted and wielded by Staunton Vhane’s brother. The goup kindly return it to Irabeth to wield.
- The alter chamber has been defiled and again, excrement has been smeared over the walls, statues and alter. Several body parts have been stitched together in a bloody and crude symbol of Deskari, Lord of the Locust Host. As they cleaned it off and restored the shrine, a faint blue line traced on the wall beside it. After eventually reciting the secret message from the smaller shrine, a secret door opened up revealing a hidden armory, filled with useful weapons and armour. Once equipped up, the party backtrack slightly and find a room with stairs heading up. There were three dretches feasting but they are quickly taken care of.
- Appearing upstairs, they are ambushed by another half-dozen tieflings in a wide, long hall. Again, magical blindness took some while Ralthonar’s axe cleaved through armour and flesh with ease. Alaenora opened up with a flask of acid for one murderous thug before cutting down his friend. As the fight tumbled into a war room, four Cultists of Deskari rise in surprise but a burst of light from the elven paladin’s shield burned into their corneas, leaving them helpless to the elf’s and orc’s onslaught. Back in the hall, one blind tielfling fell down the stairs while the remaining were struck down with axe and wand. Before they could even catch their breath, a new demon appeared, a schir, charging out of a library with a gore and spittle covered halberd. Despite its ferocity, it struggled to land a decisive hit on the barbarian and slowly it was backed up into the library where all four heroes brought it down.
- Taking a chance to explore, they found they library was heavily destroyed except for some book son war, one magical. Another room, a dining area is covered in gore and several bodies lay with their hearts ripped out. No creature came for them. After slaying some demonic flies in another, the team turn their attention to the remaining doors. Opening, they discover a grand room that is dominated by a large font of water that was used for scrying. It has been befouled and the guardian paladins were slain and raised as zombies. With heavy heart, Irabeth led the charge in but as some are cut down, she decides they should feel Iomedae’s radiance one more time and channels energy, destroying them.
- Taking time to clean the font and re-filling it, the waters shift and reveal a hideously scarred half-elven woman in a panic. She is talking to a fiendish minotaur, ordering him to prevent the attackers from reaching her until she can call for back-up from a glabrezu or Minagho herself. With that, the Triumvirate rush up the stairs in this room and manage to catch the minotaur stepping through a doorway. Despite the size of his axe and horns, he fails to hurt the motivated and courageous party you tear him down in seconds, their goal only a door away.
- Emboldened, Ralthonar throws the door open, only to be met by an fiendish boar. It is slain in one arcing blow and Irabeth charges in, the room somewhat empty except for the a fragment of the Wardstone and a woman called Jeslyn hiding behind it, waiting to cast spells. When her Hold Person fails to land on the enraged half-orc, panic and fear washes over her face, she is obviously over her head and has been abandoned by her superiors. Before she can react, Alaenora is beside her and Radiance, burning with holy light, cuts a vicious wound over her wrecked body. She is quickly joined by Ralthonar, Irabeth and Nyissa in the back, throwing spell and magic missiles one after another. Putting up little resistance, the unfortunate creature is slain where she stands and Nyissa reveals the Rod of Cancellation and approaches the broken artefact.
- With a pause, the enormity of what she is about to do crashing through her mind, Nyissa looks to her companions and finds solidarity. With a nod, she touches the warstone and it shatters into hundreds of pieces, a golden light erupting from it and lancing out into the heroes, lifting them off the ground as the sound of a chorus of angels fills the room. Irabeth is thrown back and slumps for a moment, as Alaenora Thalanis, Nyissa Veil & Ralthanar float in the air, golden fire erupting from their bodies as visions wash over them. They see the demonic armies that have pushed up against the border of the Worldwound get almost obliterated in an instant as every border stone erupts in golden fire and lances deep into the abyssal horde.
- Other visions soon come over them:
Round 2: Still stunned, they receive a vision of the first wardstone being erected in the Kite here in Kenabres in 4639 ar, in a ritual involving the aid of the Hand of the Inheritor—the herald of Iomedae: a golden, winged angel with a halo of small swords around his head. This event happens soon after the Second Crusade begins.
Round 3: In the year 4665 ar, the heroes see a vision of a 20-year-old Hulrun leading the burning of dozens of supposed “witches” in the courtyard of the Kite before the wardstone. This event launches the Second Crusade.
Round 4: In the year 4692 ar, the heroes see a vision of Khorramzadeh the Storm King leading a brazen attack on Kenabres. The Storm King manages to strike a resounding blow with his sword against the wardstone, which suffers only the tiniest of cracks as the balor’s sword shatters. Khorramzadeh is then attacked and forced to f lee when the silver dragon Terendelev nearly kills him—this event launches the Fourth Crusade.
Round 5: In the year 4712 ar, the heroes see a vision of Irabeth chasing a burly dwarven man—Staunton Vhane (leader of the Hammers of Heaven mercenary group) into the courtyard containing the wardstone. Both paladins are heavily wounded, and as Staunton backs against the
wardstone, smoke rises and he screams in pain. He ducks to avoid one of Irabeth’s blows, then manages to smash her knee with his hammer, dropping her to the ground. Staunton seems ready to deliver a death blow, when she lashes upward with her sword, severely wounding him. In pain and with the sound of approaching soldiers he decides to back away and summon a fiendish giant wasp that he swiftly mounts and then flies away to the north, abandoning Kenabres.
Round 6: The PCs see a vision of Minagho, a beautiful demonic woman with a long thin tail, clawed hands, and curling horns protruding from where her eyes should be, placing the wardstone fragment in this room and of Jeslyn using a wish granted by Minagho to create the cage around it before Minagho teleports away.
Round 7: The PCs see a vision of an event they know will now never happen— Areelu Vorlesh using a deep purple Nahyndrian crystal the size of a human’s head to corrupt the fragment, causing the entire border to flash with nauseating mauve fire that devastates the border cities and transforms countless crusaders into half-fiend slaves of the Worldwound.
Round 8: Areelu activates a device called an imago lens in the Abyss that allows her to use a project image spell to appear before the PCs.
- Seething with anger, Areelu prepares to slay the heroes where they float, trapped in the holy essence. Irabeth charges the woman but with a simple flick of wrist, she cast Mass Suffocation but the Triumvirate are spared the effects. Irabeth hits the floor holding her throat. Annoyed that her spell didn’t work, the witch spreads her wings out wide and casts a mythic spell, pulling the room into the abyss and ripping apart the wall to reveal an encroaching army of demons that include mariliths, vrocks, glabrezu and even a balor. Six blood demons, Babau, do get into the room but at that moment, the walls flash with the symbols of Iomedae, Nethys, Gorum, Sarenrae, Desna, Shelyn and Torag. Above, in the dark, swirling abyssal sky, a fiery streak appears and like a metour, roars down into the room in front of Areelu. Stepping out of the crater is Fru Brynhild Eirensdottir, blazing with holy power and speaks on the behalf of the gods, this is not yet the land of demons. Some of the golden energy flowing through the heroes bends towards and through her which she unleashes as an enormous blast into Areelu. Areelu’s scream can be heard over the sound of the roaring energy as her wings are shredded and body burned terribly. Brynn than angles the energy outward, searing into the encroaching demons, reducing them to ash just before the mighty spell ends, restoring the room to the mortal realm. With a sweeping bow, Brunnhilde smiles to the heroes as they are finally freed from from the golden pillars of light but find themselves surrounded by six babaus. Their bodies alight with power, they attack.
- Glorious battle is joined as powerful frost magics lash the demons while Ralthonar cuts a bloody swath through the hapless creatures. Channeling the power of Sarenrae, Alaenora smites demon after demon, cutting them down with graceful strikes. Soon after, not a demon stands and the three find themselves staring at each other, the obvious mark of the divine upon them. They positively thrum with power, an inner reservoir of power that now nests in their souls as the magic of the Wardstone settles in new hosts. Helping Irabeth up, she is stunned and awed by the three and what they have accomplished. Quickly looting Jeslyn, they leave and spend time recovering the bodies of the fallen and desecrated and returning to Defender’s Heart them. A sudden tiredness overtaking them, like adrenalin bleeding away. The place is quite, most teams still out in the field.
- Taking the opportunity, the party take to their beds while Irabeth goes looking for commanders to get reports. Once asleep, they all dream a shared dream. A beautiful woman, clad in pale plate mail and sporting short, choppy black hair approach their sleeping forms. Leaning down, her hands gentle upon their faces and a look of sadness on hers, she speaks “I thank you for your kindness and service. I am saddened that I cannot help you in the future, but I can give you a token of my appreciation”. With that, she kisses each on the forehead, divine power coursing into them. With that, Iomedae turns and disappears in a ball of golden light.