Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Fanaxia: The Abyssal Palace

 OOC: We’ve lost a player, so we’re rearranging the parties again. We’re also kind of resetting party treasure and possessions. However, a lot of this is going to have to wait until we finish the current narrative arc. 

So, picking up IC after an extended discussion of logistics…

Geddy is missing after drawing from the Deck of Many Things. The northern half of the island is more or less under control, with the enemy troops largely disposed of. The dragon has turned out to be the white dragon reborn, so it’s good we didn’t try to fight it before we knew that. Young Crowe controls the seas, and we combine the remainder of the Kuldas Keep forces and put Lady Merrowin in charge of it. We also still have the airship, and we might be able to remove that, take it back to Sol Povos with us, and maybe install it in another ship. Zilv, the high druid, looks pretty rough; he’s been keeping the sun over the castle for a week now. He thinks the rain is linked to something in the west wing of the castle. 

Marshall asks Zilv what seems to be coming from the west wing of the castle; it’s demons, but other than that he’s not sure. Most curiously, there are dozens of nightwalkers and nightwings on the building and they’ve just… left us a path inside. Zilv thinks we can defeat Richlieu and his friends; he doesn’t think we can defeat Cimarron, even with all the forces we’ve rallied. 

So, Zilv is going to try to deal with the swamp. We need to go into the castle. Does Zilv have any advice on dealing with Demon Lords? Cold iron is key, good-aligned weapons are key, they’ll have a lot of elemental resistances, they probably just communicate telepathically. There are various sorts of demons: babous, babilith spider-demons, and retrievers that are huge demonic constructs and have eye rays. There are succubi, Vrocks - who can work together to create big booms – and the bosses will be Hezrous (large, stinky, spells) and Glabrezou and Malfeshnee (spellcasters), Merrilith and Balors. If we have to fight any of those, be aware that they might have some sort of revenge aspect in death. 

The undead do not look like they’re going to attack us; we make some preparations and walk in. The castle has seen better days, and it’s a good thing we didn’t have to fight our way in; there are enough undead here to wipe out everyone in Fanaxia. There are no humanoids here, until we get to the throne room: a bigger than normal Nightwalker introduces himself as Cimarron. 

“Lieutenant of Vecna and leader of the forces here in Fanaxia. Richlieu disagreed with this meeting and has excused himself.” 

Marshall: “That’s fine, we really didn’t want to see him anyway.”

There’s a sense of oppressive evil here. 

Tavros: “We have come. I assume you want something from us. Would you care to explain?”

Cimarron: “We would be your allies for the salvation for Fanaxia. When Baldur came to the throne, he wished to reign in our Master. Unfortunately, her attempt to unseat him failed. Richelieu believes that this is a secret that I should not share without a trade; but we need you. Our master had already begun the process of turning herself into a lich. She had contingencies when she began her coup. But she was not killed, but banished to the Abyss. So she cut a deal with Asmodeus: he would make her a god, and she would open a portal to the abyss and allow his demons to stream out. But she had already put in place her own religion here in Fanaxia, and we spend a great deal of our power holding them in. So: I will leave Fanaxia and take my shadow army with me, if you will destroy the portal and stay out of the way of Richlieu’s plans to rule Fanaxia.”

Marshall starts talking, but Cimarron ignores him. He pulls out a gem. “Yesterday, we came into possession of this soul gem. I believe it belongs to you.” 

It’s Geddy’s soul. 

Martini tries to bargain for more stuff, but Cimarron isn’t having it. There’s a Balor named Behemoth that we have to kill, which will close the portal. 

Marshall asks how Richlieu being in charge would work out for the centaurs and the Bakunawa. Probably badly. 

Tavros: “Your terms are acceptable.” 

Marshall asks about the Balor’s weaknesses. Also, Cimarron says we should not listen to the demon or believe his lies. Any offer he makes will end with us in the Abyss. 

Cimarron: “Leaving Fanaxia is the last thing we must discuss. Assuming you hold up your end of the bargain, you do have two items that belong to my master. Place the sword in the hand and it will lead you to the tower. The ascent should be made with a partner; that is the key to the puzzle. You will have other choices to make: the body you need to resurrect Kroni and free Sacha is at the top of the tower.” He hands over the soul gem. 

We take it and use True Resurrection to bring Geddy back and a Limited Wish to bring back his equipment. Geddy: “Ho-leee shit, guys.”

The undead lead us to a door and one of the shadows makes an opening in the shimmering field around it. Marshall and Azrael float off to the side of the small ledge we find ourselves stepping onto, and everybody but Geddy and Leira hits the ground. Tavros and Alexej land hard; Ruin does the superhero landing. 

The west wing used to be three stories tall; now it’s been hollowed out all the way down to the basement. There are remains of rooms hanging open on some of the walls. The entire room is filled with webs; the floor is covered with rubble and garbage. There are demons all over the place, clinging to the walls and ceiling. The whole place is Unhallowed; it's basically the antechamber to the Abyss. 

Azrael: “If we dispel the webs, they'll come back in about ten minutes.” 

Katarina, from Kaz’s mansion, walks out onto the ledge of a central structure. “I was wondering when you guys would get here.” 

Four massive robot-spider things stand up out of the rubble. These would be the demonic constructs known as Retrievers.

Katarina starts calling for the other demons; she is not well-disposed towards us. Then she gestures, and swarms of hell-wasps erupt from nests on the webbing of the ceiling. Azrael immediately Fireballs the swarms. Ruin gets ready to take Tavros and start clearing succubi off the central structure. The demonic constructs fire their eye rays at Geddy, Alexej, Tavros, and Leira; Leira takes the worst of the damage, and responds with Sunburst. Burning light fills most of the room. (And, OOC, our DM suddenly has to do a lot of math.) A huge chunk of our enemies are suddenly blinded, and burned. 

The succubi move towards the party, assuming the form of party members; however, a bunch of them are blinded, which makes them very easy to spot. 

Alexej: “Look! Is many Ruins in the ruins.” However, those of us who are in the party still have our backs to him, so it’s pretty easy for him to tell. He starts attacking succubi, and kills one. Martini stabs the two closest to her, hitting them both with her Dagger of Death and killing one. Tavros is confused and attacks Ruin, damaging him and then hits Alexej, damaging him; then he swings at Marshall but misses. 

Marshall casts Earthquake. Rubble comes down on most of the room, and the spellcasters will have difficulty casting; basically, the whole central part of the room collapses. The medium-sized creatures near the central structure are buried in the rubble; the Retrievers aren’t pinned, but they’re still damaged; and five demons that were a bit further out are similarly damaged but not pinned. Ruin takes out a succubus, and the hellwasp swarms descend. They swarm over us. We attack them as they come in, doing some damage, but they fly around in a particularly nauseating fashion. 

Geddy uses Greater Shout on some of the wasp swarms, stunning a bunch of wasps and preventing Martini from being nauseated. Azrael is injured by a wasp, and some of them are trying to crawl into his ears and possess him. Azrael drops Horrid Wilting, wiping out a huge number of wasp swarms; the ones around Azrael and Geddy survive. The Babou around us are also damaged badly; the ones who were already damaged all die. The succubi suddenly turn back into their beautiful female forms and then do the full Indiana Jones dry-out-and-turn-to-dust death scene. Ruin steps under Marshall and cuts down two of the Babou. The constructs are moving in, and they fire their eyebeams at Geddy, missing him but hitting Tavros, Marshall, and Alexej. Tavros, however, is half silver dragon and he’s immune to the cold rays they’re firing. Alexej takes a bunch of damage, and Marshall somewhat less. Leira conjures an animated trident in front of the nearest Retriever construct. It attacks and hits, doing decent damage. 

Alexej turns and attacks the two remaining Babou, killing them both. Martini turns invisible. Tavros charges the same construct that Leira is forking with her conjured trident, and slices into it. Geddy does Greater Shout again, killing the hellwasp swarm around him – which is good, because they were trying to crawl into his brain – and damages one of the Retrievers. Marshall casts Implode, targeting the one in the back. It collapses in on itself and ceases to function. 

The wasps are continuing to crawl into Azrael’s ears; he uses Scorching Ray to clear them off. Ruin charges up next to Tavros and finishes off that construct. The two remaining constructs continue to move up; one of them engages Alexej, who’s starting to feel the wear and tear. It hits him with a claw and an electricity beam, and the other one hits Ruin with an Electricity beam. Leira disintegrates the third construct, and Marshall implodes the last one. 

We make our way carefully across to the back of the room. The room beyond used to be a banquet hall, and is now full of demons who don’t even have the decency to be wearing proper dinner garb. There are Vrocks and Hezrous everywhere, and some more powerful things towards the back near a portal. We've found the bulk of Asmodeus' demonic army.

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