Wrath of the Righteous

In which evil gets Poonished

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The party rested and took Irabeth home. The flight back took two days, which Tane spent working on a Cloak of Resistance. The party took a few days of downtime to work on personal projects. Tane toiled to craft more magic items, and Poonisher looked for leads with the followers he had collected. Poonisher also connected the group’s houses to his completed subterranean lair. Gith did his own research, and found out about a place called Seeker’s Gully that seemed to be connected to his own late Riftwarden parents. While object reading a chest he found, he saw a vision of his parents battling a spirit of some sort.

After a few otherwise uneventful days, the alarm was raised as demons launched a raid against Drezen. The party soon found themselves battling a pair of drakeriding incubuses. The party worked to bring the drakes down and deny them from being able to attack from above. It took some doing, and not a few lance wounds and drake blasts were absorbed, but the party eventually slew the drakes. The demons fled. One teleported away, while the other tried to retreat on foot. The velociraptor chased him down and killed him.

Things soon went back to normal, or as normal as they can be in the Worldwound. Tane had a dream of a succubus fleeing some danger and pleading for help. Soon, the party decided to go visit Seeker’s Gully. It was a small town and had been abandoned when the Worldwound opened. Gith warned the party that they would find a restless spirit there that they would need to befriend. The party stopped by the cemetery and soon met a ghost who looked unmistakably like Gith. The ghost, in a rather curmudgeonly manner, “asked” the party to slay a demon defiling Gith’s family crypt. The ghost provided one day to accomplish the task or he would kill them. The target was a nabasu glutton demon named Skullgrym.

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The party marched into the crypt. The entrance was dominated by a defaced carving of Iomedae. The party first checked some tombs for anything of note. The treasure had been carried away by demons long ago. In one tomb there was a powerful bodak undead. It would have used its deadly gaze against the party if Poonisher had not mowed it down before it could so much as blink. Gith read the corpse and found that the creature was a friend of the demon. The party moved on. They came to a wide stair leading up to a large chamber. At the top was Skullgrym. The demon prepared for battle, raising its terrible claws. And then Poonisher shot it full of arrows and Gith finished it off with a few arrows of his own and the help of his pet skeleton. Gith found an enchanted axe in the crypt, and then the party returned to the surface so Bendak could Hallow the tomb. The party had to spend 24 hours in the town as Bendak worked.

The ghost thanked Gith for letting him rest in peace. With a trail of glowing lights, the ghost led Gith to a treasure chest before departing. The chest had a special bow for Gith and various other magic items. The party then went back to town for some downtime. Tane did some more crafting while Poonisher and Gith worked on a secret plan involving psychic runes of blasting, a magic blanket, and a horde of uncontrolled skeletons. Eventually, Anevia contacted the party with a lead. The scouts had found a cave outside the city that seemed to be used by cultists. The party headed out to investigate.

The cave had a massive entrance with stairs flanked by statues of the demon prince Baphomet.

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Three cultists stood guard outside. Tane made Poonisher invisible, and then he lined up a shot. He fired a single arrow at the cultists, which looped back to hit them twice. All the cultists died from the single shot. Gith read them for information, but didn’t find much. The party began to advance into the ruins. They found one cultist sleeping, and Poonisher promptly shot him.

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Trials by Fire

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The party planned their next move from the top of the lavafall. By plan, I mean of course that they decided arbitrarily. Bendak spotted a plume of smoke in one area, and some activity in a lava crater. With neither option looking particularly better, the party went to the smoke plume. Bendak turned into a massive quetzalcoatlus pterosaur to carry the non-flying party members over.

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The party arrived at their destination to see a giant hall structure. The smoke originated from a hole in the roof, presumably from a cooking fire. Some tribesfolk milled around outside looking miserable. Poonisher invisibly flew in through the fireplace. After a few moments of putting out his now-burning clothes, he put out the fire. It was a small room, empty of all but the cookery. After Bendak alighted over the entrance like a freakish bat, the others clambered down. Bendak switched to become a raptor and followed.

I hope the reader will indulge a brief change in perspective. Two warrior women sharpened their swords in the darkened hall. They had the honor of being the Master’s chosen. They had been taken from their families for their strength and beauty. If they had names, they weren’t important anymore. All that life ever was and ever would be was to serve and please Master Marhevok. The bruises made sure they remembered that. Suddenly, a band of intruders opened the door from the kitchen. It was a surprising sight. Dragonlike animals, an undead, a bird-monkey, and a pair of mages stood before them. The women raised their swords and rushed to die with honor. Their strength had been honed for this moment. Their strength didn’t matter. The mages overwhelmed them with a blast of water and mental curses, and the creatures bound them with ropes. They did manage to gash the monkey a bit. The strangers began to ask the women about their tribe. One of the mages stated that the women weren’t evil after casting a spell. The women simply informed the intruders of their fate. Marhevok was near. Marhevok was all powerful, and would crush them with his demonic might.

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One of the beasts, the one they called Bendak, seemed strangely pained by his very name. The foolish strangers were eager enough to test themselves against Marhevok and soon opened the entrance to his chambers. The women watched and waited to see Marhevok punish their blasphemy. The women heard his voice from the other room. He seemed to be trying to convince Bendak to join him. Surely, that one was greatly blessed! Or perhaps not. A defiant hiss broke off Marhevok’s words, and the sounds of battle began. In a matter of seconds, it was over.

The women looked on in shock. Impossibly, the strangers all lived, and one of the mages carried Marhevok’s crushed head in his hands. An arrow dangled from the remains of his jugular. One asked quietly if the Master had died with honor. The monkey responded cavalierly while cutting Marhevok’s remaining ear off. “Well, he stumbled around and gagged a bit. Does that count?”

It is now useless to describe how Marhevok’s slaves felt, as those people didn’t really exist anymore. All that remained was two women with a very shaken worldview.

After that, the party gathered up the tribe and ordered them to stop engaging in the cannibalistic practices Marhevok had taught them and also to stop living in the Worldwound like a pack of morons and move to Drezen. The party rested there for the night before moving on. Bendak felt that Marhevok held some connection to his past. However, Marhevok was dead now and Bendak wasn’t one to dwell on such things. He had Gith do a bit of object reading on the bloodsmear that passed for a corpse, but didn’t find much useful.

The next day, the party rode out on Bendak to the place where they had seen suspicious activity before. The place was a pit-lake of lava dotted with rock islands and huge dark purple crystal growths. On one of the wider islands, Irabeth the paladin was held captive being subjected to a fell ritual by a band of vrocks. The vrocks were holding her down and trying to make her drink a potion. Their leader carried a scythe. Poonisher recognized the leader. He and Wase had once escaped from a similar ritual. He knew this demon’s name. It was Vorimeraak. She had taken his tail before he escaped. Poonisher still didn’t know what horrible magic she must have done with it.

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Vorimeraak began to cast a spell, only for Tane to offhandedly squelch her magics with his own as he cast a spell that would make Poonisher invisible even if he attacked. The other vrocks took wing and attacked the party. Bendak used his greater size to shove through the creatures. The demons clawed deeply into him, but their wings were tangled and they fell into the lava to burn. Vorimeraak started to fly above the battle, but was then slammed back down by one of Poonisher’s arrows. As she grappled with summoned dinosaurs, Poonisher fired again to fatally slam her into the lava. The other two demons survived their initial lava bath, but were put to sleep by Gith before they could get away and ended up incinerated anyway.

The party rescued Irabeth, who thanked them profusely and explained the situation. The demons had managed to capture her with a surprise attack a few nights before. The reason they had brought her here was that these crystal had both empowering and corrupting abilities. They had been trying to turn her into a champion of evil. Gith drew a magic circle around the crystals and someone put up a warning sign. The druid and the vigilante felt that dealing with the demons from their past had made them a bit stronger, in a subtle way.

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Drezen rises

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Drezen had been retaken by the Knights of Kenebraes, but there was still much work to be done. The city needed to be rebuilt and protected. More crusaders arrived with craftsmen, priests, and merchants to work on the city. A cleric of Shelyn arrived and started up a temple for anyone of any good faith to come and worship. Artists were also welcome. Although the party had imprisoned him after finding him possessed by the shadow demon, Aron had apparently behaved well enough afterward for Irabeth to make him captain of the guard. Of the party’s other allies, Anevia became the spymaster and Querm became the treasurer.

Gith’s return proved fortuitously timed. He used his necromantic powers to raise the skeletons of demons and put them to work tirelessly repairing the city, managed by living supervisors. The paladins and the clerics there ferociously objected, but Gith cunningly exploited loopholes in their religious texts to force them to allow him to “redeem” the undead. Gith also endeared his undead to the common people by allowing the children to decorate them in bright colors and name them. For more secretive reasons, he had his undead workers include a small image of his face in every building they worked on and made contact with a qlippoth abomination that he named Reginald. Qlippoths are nightmarish beings that inhabited the Abyss before the demons. They hate demons for stealing their home, and they hate mortals for spawning the demons with their sins.

Poonisher used his free time to wander a certain neighborhood around the wall and do mime reenactments of his alter ego’s accomplishments in order to build his renown. Once he was popular enough, he used his influence to begin to have a huge vigilante lair built underground and magically ward it against detection.

Tane toiled away creating new magical items and using the redeemed Corruption Forge. The antipaladin’s sentient evil glaive Soulshear was the first to be transformed by the now-Redemption Forge.

Finding himself in a wasteland with few plants and no dinosaurs, Bendak had little to do as a druid. He decided to open a magic shop in emulation of his merchant parents.

During this peaceful time, a letter arrived from Queen Galfrey. The letter was heavily perfumed to the point that it was hard to read, but the party was able to gather that they should investigate the area around the city and follow up on any leads they had found in the siege. Soon, the party marched out to do that. The first threat they came across was an villainous incubus riding a drake. Those two were quickly and efficiently dispatched.

Next, they saw a woman who looked like a cultist with a strange mutant dog and a cage of normal puppies. Poonisher shot the mutant and Bendak stomped up in allosaur form demanding to know what was going on. The woman vanished. Bendak cast a spell and spoke to the puppies for information. All he got was quick cries of “She’s mean to us!” before the woman came back casting fire at him and Hook. Two more came out chanting summoning spells. Poonisher took aim and fired three arrows. The arrows flew to the women’s side, then curved in midair. A slashed throat and two pierced heads later, the cultists fell as one.

Tane and Gith identified the cultists as followers of Lamashtu, goddess of monsters. Her cultists often work to breed monsters. They related this information as the others secured the loot and puppies.

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Moving on, the party found a canyon with a lava flow. After everyone was bolstered with Resist Fire and Air Walk spells, they began exploring. Soon they found a surprisingly normal looking wooden chapel in a cavern. Gith assigned his personal bloodstained undead vrock in to take point. He explained that the blood was charged with energies that would regenerate the creature so long as it wasn’t killed by holy means.

The interior of the chapel was a wretched sight. The walls and floors were stained with blood, and a warning in Abyssal had been carved into the walls. The party found a rare book in the rubble. It was the teachings of a heretical sect of Erastil worshipers. Erastil is a benevolent deity of rural life. According to the writer of this book, city dwellers were inherently corrupt and every 54th member of a community was evil and needed to die. It also said that an Erastilian hero was buried nearby. Gith used his object reading and saw visions of a man in the chapel practicing a fear spell.

Poonisher soon found the tomb. The party entered and saw the hero ensconced in a massive crystal near a lake of lava. Atop the crystal was the man Gith had seen in the temple. He declared that he was a failure to his religion before preparing to throw himself into the lava. Everyone rushed to stop him. He avoided the undead vrock’s attempt to grab him but then Tane shoved him to the ground with water, Gith put a psychic block in his mind against suicide, Poonisher telekinetically tied his shoelaces together, and Bendak grabbed him in his jaws. The man tried to teleport. Bendak’s teeth flashed green and the man was held in place, unable to escape even by magic. The man dejectedly frowned as Gith put him to sleep.

After the man was securely tied up and Bendak wrapped a claw around him to prevent any teleporting, Gith used object reading on him. Gith saw him trashing the chapel. A demon wandered into the scene, and then suddenly leapt out and attacked Gith in the real world. Without missing a beat, Poonisher barraged the demon with arrows and destroyed it.

Poonisher took the freed man and flew him back to the Shelyn priest’s temple for magical aid. Bendak dug at the crystal with Stone shape to get the treasures out. Inside was a suit of Celestial armor and a powerful weapon known as a Talisman of Pure Good. Suddenly, the crystal disintegrated. Shortly thereafter Poonisher returned and informed the group that he and the formerly possessed man were now lovers.

The party then found a 200ft tall lavafall that gave a good view of the surrounding terrain.

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Sword of Valor

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After slaying the vampire, the party interviewed his victim. The nearly drained man was a crusader named Idrian Vosner. Unfortunately, he knew little of value. The party helped him escape the citadel before continuing on their merry warpath. With the vampires gone, there was nothing standing between the party and the Corruption Forge. It was a place where holy relics were fouled. Bendak’s sentient mask was particularly offended by the place. The Forge was a shadowy and industrial place, with movement between various pulley elevators being needed for most. Bendak cast a spell to let everyone walk on air however, nullifying that. Tane also cast Resist Fire on everyone. Swoop and Fee of course didn’t need any help.

Four evil snake-man salamanders were manning the forge. Their spears did little to protect them from a rain of monkey arrows and dinosaurs.

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Tane looked at the Forge and knew that it could later be turned to reverse its purpose and serve good. That would have to be done later. A secret door was opened and the raid continued. The door lead to a blasphemous shrine to the demon lord Deskari. Murals depicted him striking down various good deities. What seemed to be the Sword of Valor banner stood prominently displayed in an iron frame. Wase marched up and grabbed at it. His hand phased through the illusion, and the room’s trap was activated. Five cursed were revealed, and five illusions struck Wase, and attempted to reveal five of his greatest fears. These fears would strike so deeply as to warp the soul of anyone. However, a paladin knows no fear. Wase simply endured, and the curses faded.

The next room was a walkway around a shadowy pit. A statue of the four-armed marilith general Aponavicius stood on a raised pillar out of the pit. There were telekinesis traps to push the unwary into the pit, but the Air Walk spell made that irrelevant. Past the traps was an important looking door. Poonisher silently opened it and peeked in. Inside he saw many crystals decoracted the walls of a chamber. In the middle was a marble slab with a red banner tossed across it. On the banner sat Aron, the Knights of Kenabraes’ scout. He had disappeared some time ago, and had somehow found his way here.

A black, smoky demon came out of him and went into Poonisher while nobody could see him. At the same time, the room became pitch black. Under the demon’s influence, Poonisher turned and told the party that everything was fine before blasting them with a dark fireball. Everyone dodged and took minimal injuries. Bendak summoned an anklyosaurus to club Poonisher into submission, with hasty warning to leave him alive. The possessed vigilante ducked the club as it cracked the door just behind him. Before he could rise and let loose his arrows, Tane cast a Protection From Evil over the whole party. Since the demon was unable to control Poonisher’s body through the warding, he fell into the pit with the demon inside him.

With a nasty sound, Poonisher landed in a sticky mass of flesh eating green slime. Wase flew down to get him out. Even after he was removed from the pit, the slime stuck to Poonisher and continued devouring him. Bendak burned it off with a weak fire spell just in time. Thankfully, Wase didn’t hesitate to believe the floating raptor demanding that the paladin’s friend be immediately set on fire. Tane then used a powerful spell to drive the demon out of Poonisher. The smoke trail went back into its room. After Poonisher was healed, the party marched into the dark for the next round.

Wase was attacked first since he lead the way, since the demon had gone into Aron again. Again, Tane drove him out. With Tane’s wards protecting everyone from possession, the demon was forced to fight in its true form. Tane dispelled the darkness, exposing the shadow demon.

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For quite a while Wase dueled the demon as Bendak and Hook slashed ineffectually at the shadows while Tane and Poonisher contributed spells and arrows. Poonisher decided to take a gamble, and fired a rare demon-slaying arrow. The arrow struck true and annihilated Eustoyriax, the mythic shadow demon. The banner on the slab was found to be the true Sword of Valor. With their goal achieved, the party easily finished off the remaining threats. A dark portal opened as they worked, but for once it wasn’t a new threat. Gith-Fa-Rha-Ha the elf occultist had returned to lend a necromantic hand. Wase felt that it might be best if he went off and helped more directly with the rebuilding of Drezen for the time being.

With the fall of the Citadel and the recovery of the Sword of Valor, Drezen was reclaimed. As the party returned to their camp, a magic message informed them that Queen Galfrey would soon arrive to see their handiwork.

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Vampire hunters

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The party rested after the grueling battle with Staunton Vhane in the extradimensional space. During the night, Wase was awoken by a sharp pain. The old hero the party had rescued was stabbing him. Thankfully, the blow failed to kill him. The “hero” then transformed into a succubus and vanished. Although Tane had long since all but eliminated the need for sleep with a magic ring, the attack came during his nightly two hours of rest. The next morning, Vhane’s brother lead the party to the castle’s underground levels. The party descended after a few spells, leaving the dwarf behind. There was an unhallowed darkness to the dungeon that sometimes assaulted the minds of the party as they explored here. The party found themselves in a prison area. Iron bars of cages and torture equipment decorated the chambers. The spectres of mangled knights floated through the walls. Evenutally, two of the spirits attacked.

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The incorporeal claws ripped into Wase, draining most of his life away. Wase retreated as Bendak cast an ineffective flame strike. Poonisher fired a volley of his best arrows, dissipating one of the attackers. As Tane was casting his spells, the surviving undead dove forward and tried to drain him. At the last moment, Tane turned briefly into wind, dodging the blow. With the remains of his strength, Wase stepped up and put his fellow knight to rest.

The party decided to continue despite Wase’s crippling. The party continued to traverse the grim halls, and eventually came to a torture chamber full of vampire spawn.

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However, vampire spawn are just a shadow of their progenitors. They were all exterminated in short order. Before going, they were able to drain a bit of Bendak and Hook’s strength. Nearby was a cell enclosed in an antimagic field. Inside the cell, prayers to Lady Luck and hundreds of butterflies were carved on the walls. Outside that cell, starved corpses lined the walls.

After that room, the party came to a large two-leveled chamber with a pair of babaus. The demons shrieked with delight and raised their spears. One was promptly shot in the throat by Poonisher before Bendak summoned three ankylosauruses to crush him between their tail clubs. The remaining demon summoned another of its kind behind Tane and tried to dispel the sorcerer’s spells. Both were foiled by his greater magic. Wase finished off the new demon and an ankylosaurus struck off the other’s head.

As the fight ended, everyone felt something trying to take over their minds. While fighting off the mental assault with all his will, Poonisher spotted someone looking at them through a tiny peephole in a metal door nearby. He opened fire, but sadly didn’t manage to shoot the stranger’s eye out. A moment later, Hook and the ankylosauruses bashed the door open. Behind it was a vampire cleric wielding a vicious dagger. A man drained of blood was also on the floor beside a bookshelf. Before anyone could attack him, the vampire turned to smoke and vanished. The party rushed in and began looking around his room.

The vampire rematerialized behind Tane and attempted to cut him down. Tane turned into wind again but the blow still managed to hurt him. Wase began to duel the vampire. As the knife and sword clashed, Poonisher lined up some shots. The arrows were loosed and the vampire was blown against the wall and shredded. The vampire turned back to smoke to retreat to his coffin. Bendak tried to trap the smoke in egg-shaped stone, but missed a few tiny holes that the vampire escaped through. Wase also tried to finish the vampire off with channeled energy, but was unsuccessful. Poonisher soon found the coffin through a secret door behind the bookshelf. Wase and Poonisher teamed up to stake him and cut his head off and dip his head in holy water and harvest an ear. To be fair, one of those was only Poonisher’s idea.

The party noticed now that the drained man was actually still clinging to life. Poonisher tied him up and Wase revived him.

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The pitfalls of evil

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After finally resting inside the extradimensional space Tane created, the party prepared for battle with the fiendish minotaurs. Wase’s sword became alight with divine energy, Bendak became a raptor, and Tane cast beneficial spells. When all was in readiness, the party entered the officer’s quarters and the battle was on. The room was a large office, with a door or two on all sides. The aforementioned minotaurs were present, and also three babau demons guarding a haggard dwarf at desk. The dwarf looked listlessly over tomes and scrolls. Wase and the dinosaurs charged, meeting the minotaurs in a pitched melee.

Poonisher flew in through the shadows and considered his shots. He had felt he wasn’t contributing enough, and had spent some time improving his skill and practicing with his mythic blessing. Now it was time to test his new methods. The following flurry of arrows skewered the minotaurs and even blew one off his feet and pinned the corpse to the wall by the throat. Poonisher was well pleased by this result. Tane then made him utterly invisible, making him even more deadly.

A babau was picked off and the dwarf seemed inspired. He threw up his hands. The babaus turned and tried to finish him off. Thankfully for our diminutive defector, Tane was ready with a Glitterdust spell that blinded the demons. They flailed about attempting to kill the dwarf, but were slaughtered. Noting the high ceiling in this room, Bendak became an allosaurus to help end the fight.

There was no time for the party to catch their breath after the demons were slain. The doors in back flew open, and two babaus and two minotaurs filed in. They made a dramatic corridor for a dwarven figure that marched in behind them. Staunton Vhane, antipaladin betrayer of Drezen, stormed into the room.

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Staunton struck his glaive on the floor and summoned one more babau before sending his minions against the party. Poonisher opened fire without even a hint of surprise. The minotaurs pushed forward to Bendak, horns clashing with saurian jaws. While Bendak was thus occupied, Staunton moved up and brought him down with both an unholy parody of a Paladin’s smites and Vhane’s own mythic power. Before Vhane and the monsters could finish the job, Tane dropped the antipaladin in a magic pit while Wase and Fee deployed healing magic. Rather than get into the fight, the babaus tried to kill the dwarf at the desk. A loud buzzing sounded from down a hall. Bendak revived thanks to the healing magic and reached a claw over to the pit. Warping the stone of the floor and wall, he created a cap to keep Vhane in. At the same time, Tane created two ice walls to block whatever was making the buzzing sound.

Without their corrupt master, the remaining demons were swiftly slain. Tane made Wase into a giant for more efficient exorcism-by-exsanguinations. The party picked themselves up and prepared for the final round. A huge stinger was chipping through the ice, and Vhane was digging through the stone cap with a returning throwing axe. Bendak summoned an ankylosaurus by the pit, waiting to swing its clublike tail. Poonisher readied arrows.

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The walls broke. A giant fiendish wasp burst through the remains of the enchanted ice and dove into the hole. Vhane hopped onto his steed and it began climbing out. Before it could escape, Poonisher blasted it back to the bottom with an arrow before finishing it off with subsequent shots. Recovering, Vhane used the same mythic speed as Wase to climb out of the pit. Vhane leapt out and rolled under the ankylosaurus tail to cross blades with the giant Wase. They dueled for a long moment, dodging around dinosaur claws and clubs. Ultimately, Vhane brought Wase down. The villain raised his weapon to gut the hero. Before Vhane could strike the fatal blow, the anklyosaurus finally landed a solid club blow to the back of his helmet. As Vhane reeled and howled through the horrible ringing, Tane tripped him with a grease puddle underfoot. Bendak helped Wase stand back up. Vhane lay on the ground, struggling to recover. The dinosaurs and the knight pounced, attempting to subdue him. Vhane laughed at their attempt at mercy. He was warded against such nonlethal assaults.

This posed no obstacle to Poonisher. With a final arrow to the throat, Poonisher killed Staunton Vhane.

After the fight finally ended, the party talked with the desk dwarf. He was Vhane’s brother, tricked into helping Staunton in his dark efforts by managing a Corruption Forge that tainted holy relics for the demons. He gave the party much information on what dangers remained within the castle. The Sword of Valor was being kept underground, in the sublevels of the fortress. As most of the defenders had been vanquished, the party roamed around and captured a fortune in loot. The treasures might serve them well in the last dungeons of Drezen.

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adventuring or somesuch

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So Wase was upset about his armor having curses so Tane fixed it sort of. The party went about the dungeon castle to find that flag they needed. Poonisher lead. Eventually they heard some arguing behind a door. They listened at the door and it was some lady arguing with herself like Andy Circus. Poonisher opened the door after Wase was stopped by a lock. Behind the door was a mess of dead folk and the woman, who was a barbarian and had a sword and dark armor. She attacked the party.

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She was very difficult to hit, but then Bendak made a lot of snakes and Wase was a giant so she died. Next the party fought some other demons that made you insolent if you got near them. Wase and Hook were affected before Poonisher shot them all. The paladin and the raptor were thus made insolent for a time.

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Eventually they got over it.

Nxet up was a jail cell that had a crazy old man who used to be a swashbuckling hero. His icy sword was nearby so he was given that. He wanted revenge because the demons killed his girlfriend. The party teamed up with him and killed some normal demons.

Eventually they found the officers room. There were some fiendish minotaurs there. The party decided to sleep before fighting them.

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Vrock and roll

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The party prepared to battle the vrock demon standing before them. Bendak continued to fight archers in another room as a compsognathus. Wase’s sword Radiance glowed with Smiting light. The vrock released a screech that momentarily stunned all but Wase. Unable to fly, Poonisher crashed to the ground. The vrock used the opening to make a bunch of mirror images of itself. In an instant, Poonisher stood, picked up his bow and dissipated an image with an arrow. Tane looked the demon in the eye and dispelled the images. The vrock stomped towards him, scarcely paying heed to the paladin and raptor on either side. It pulverized him, kicking and tearing with its claws and beak. At the same time the vrock released a toxic spore cloud. Hook was unable to avoid breathing it in. Vines and fungal growths began to grow from her head and mouth. Tane staggered back as Poonisher swept him out of the room.

The demon and dinosaur locked onto each other. Ignoring defense, the two monsters savagely leapt at each other. Hook latched on and crushed the vrock’s sternum with successive kicks. The vrock collapsed half her ribs with a blow. Wase used the opportunity to cut the hamstrings of the vrock. It turned to swat and howl at Wase. Hook then tore at the vrock’s face. It yanked the raptor off, sacrificing an eye and a good deal of the surrounding face to do so. Grabbing Hook from both ends, it twisted. Hook fell, yelping and dragging now useless legs. The vrock crawled forward to finish the job. Before the last blows could be struck, the vrock reared back as Wase punctured a kidney. Its beak opened in agony just in time to show Radiance’s blade impale through the skull and emerge out the throat. Wase tore it free and the upper jaw flipped to hang alongside the lower for a moment as the demon finally fell. Wase stepped over the carcass and healed the raptor of its injuries and infection. Everyone was healing when the tiny dinosaur druid finally hopped back dripping blood from colorful feathers and wondering what he missed.

Moving on, the party heard noises from the next room. Inside was a woman dressed as Iomedae and a bunch of cultists. They were taking turns with the Iomedae-lookalike. Despite the blasphemous scene, Wase did not detect evil from anyone. Poonisher shot all the cultists anyway. “Iomedae” tried to convince Wase to protect her. Obviously, the party hadn’t actually randomly come across a Lawful Good goddess in a demonic temple. After much confusion, the woman was unmasked as a succubus demon resembling a human woman with bat wings. Some fighting took place and Wase lost some of his life essence to her claws. The battle ended when Tane opened up a pit and swatted her inside with a blast of water. She teleported away before the party could finish her off. It was found that one of the cultists had been asleep and so missed Poonisher mowing them all down. After being tied up, he explained that the “cultists” in this room were actually men who the succubus had kidnapped and enslaved. Wase said a prayer for the arrow victims. The survivor offered to lead the party to the demon’s treasure room in thanks. He gave his name, but was promptly rechristened Tripwire

Tripwire lead the party through tainted halls and darkened stairs until they reached the vault behind a secret door. At first it seemed that the treasure was gone. Adventurers will not be denied gold though. The party searched high and low until they found another secret door. Inside was the treasure, including a suit of resplendent armor and the Sword (Banner) of Valor held by a statue. Poonisher invisibly took point. After he saw no immediate threats and was unable to remove the banner, Wase walked up and reverentially attempted to remove the relic. It stuck to his hand. The statue was a mutated demon mimic.

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It attacked him, augmented by dark power. Tane stepped back to cast a spell, but then his hair was caught on another mimic statue. Things seemed dire for a moment. Wase was forced to use his handaxe and the casters casting fizzled. Bendak was forced to go back to human form. Fortunately, the endless torrent of arrows from Poonisher eventually put the mimics down. The party healed up and got to looting the room. The banner was a forgery. The real one was presumably kept elsewhere. Wase took the shining Armor of the Pious. However, every time he tried to put it on he felt something groping him. He decided not to wear it yet. The next room the party found was an armory. Poonisher got a new set of Elvish chain armor. Wase tried on his armor again with the same result. He asked Tane to fix it.

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New Friends

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The three roars echoed as a massive beast shot up from behind the ruined buildings of Drezen and swooped down on the party. It was the mythic chimera Soltengrebbe, the Beast of Drezen. From forty feet above, three heads blasted out ice and snow over the party. Bendak turned into a massive quetzalcoatlus pterosaur, larger than the chimera, and tried to ram Soltengrebbe out of the air but was knocked halfway to the ground by his claws. Tane hasted all his allies as Poonisher fired some arrows. None found the throat though.

Soltengrebbe tackled Bendak out of the air and slammed to the earth atop him. As soon as he was on the ground, Wase charged and put his sword to work. Hook latched onto the beast’s side and struggled vainly to dig her claws and teeth in through his fiendishly reinforced hide. Bendak also stabbed desperately with his sharp beak. Hopes sank as Soltengrebbe weathered or shrugged off all the blows. With supernatural quickness he left Bendak torn and dying while nearly carving a claw through Wase’s armor. As the chimera chewed on Wase, Poonisher flew in close and revived Bendak with a curing rod. Soltengrebbe reared up to lethally pounce upon Wase. Bendak intercepted a claw, holding back the arm with a talon.

The monster was knocked slightly off course, allowing Wase an opening. The paladin drove his sword into the chimera’s exposed elbow and bolstered his own strength with divine power. He still fell beneath the many claws and bites. Poonisher saw him drop and realized he needed to grab the creature’s attention or in another moment Wase and Bendak would be little more than a few chunks of canned meat and a side of wings. His arrows had been bouncing off its hide, so he spoke to it in Draconic. “Hey you, the walking menagerie!” he said with a rude gesture. The creature looked up and huffed at him in cruel amusement. Poonisher continued in the dragon tongue:

“Sunvaar Los Pook!”

This horrid statement has been left untranslated for the protection of innocent readers. Soltengrebbe knew what it meant. Infuriated, he forgot his victims and focused on Poonisher. Capitalizing on the chimera’s distraction, Tane hit him in the face with blinding glitterdust. Bendak used the opening to become an allosaurus. Poonisher shot one of Soltengrebbe’s throats and revived Wase with the rod. Thrashing blindly, Soltengrebbe breathed a blizzard at Poonisher and slashed at Wase as the paladin stabbed into another opening Bendak provided. Hook switched her target from the side and climbed up to claw at the dragon head’s eyes. The chimera heaved back to try and dislodge the raptor. Once Soltengrebbe’s heads were back, Bendak shoved them together with his claws, opened his jaws wide and chomped. The saurian fangs sheared open three necks at once. Bleeding a river from a trio of jugulars, Soltengrebbe took a step onto the ground, choked on what was meant to be a roar and thudded to the dust.

This trial had pushed the whole party to their limits and beyond. The power they had inherited from the Wardstones had permanently increased. They set about applying it. Tane discovered a new ritual that would allow him to attract a more powerful creature to be his familiar. However, he was only able to have one at a time. His fox was a little hurt to hear this, but relieved to no longer have to spend any time in dungeons. Tane spent a few hours with his fox, playing and giving it extra treats. When the time came, he severed their bond. The fox would still accompany the Knights of Kenebraes, but was no longer a familiar.

Now that he was able, Tane made a little summoning circle and played a cheery tune on a blessed set of pipes. High above, the smoggy clouds above Drezen parted for a moment to let a ray of starlight through. In the circle, the light solidified into a tiny naked woman, standing three feet high and bearing butterfly wings on her back. Remnants of the light remained in the form of subtle rainbows and sparkling lights. She looked about her, scowling in disappointment at the defiled urban wreck all around. With a curtsy she introduced herself. “Name’s Fialonitariadyranticelquine the Lyrakien Azata, oracle and servant of Desna, goddess of beautiful starlit skies! But, you can call me Fee.”

Meanwhile, Bendak also made a friend. After much pestering, Tane had got around to putting some wisdom enchantments on Bendak’s raptor skull mask. Now that it was bolstered by the arcane energies, Bendak was able to try an idea he had without fear of destroying the mask. Accompanied by Swoop and Hook and iIn his by now rarely seen human form, Bendak removed the mask. With an effort of will, he channeled a part of his mythic gift into the item. At first it glowed, then it hummed. Then the bone jaws flexed on their own. The animated skull tested it’s movement and then looked up at its creator. It spoke in a spectral hiss. “Why..do…I…exist?” Bendak held the skull at eye level. “I serve the dinosaurs and all that walks in scales, great and small. I live for this purpose. I awakened you to help me, if you are willing.” The mask paused for a long while. “It…is…why…I…exist.” “So be it. You shall be called Fossil.” Bendak threw back his head and celebrated with a ululating howl. The two animals joined in, followed by the skull. Poonisher walked by with an arched eyebrow.

The other two party members reacted to their improved power in less dramatic ways. Wase just became a bit better at smiting evil and Poonisher seemed to be holding his power in store.

The next day the party went to attack Citadel Drezen, where the Sword(banner) of Valor was being kept. The party entered through the front gate. After a quick mission for Poonisher to scout, the gate was bashed in by Allosaur Bendak and a pair of brimorak demons went down with sword wounds and throat arrows. The party went through a garden of macabre statuary. To no surprise of Poonisher’s, a quartet of gargoyles swooped in. Poonisher snapped off a throatshot. A gargoyle attacked Tane and was snapped up in Bendak’s jaws. Tane dodged a reaching claw and hasted all his allies. After a few more seconds of violence, the dinosaurs finished them off.

The next room had more arrow slits. On Poonisher’s advice, Bendak shaped them shut. Bendak also switched forms to a sparrow sized compsognathus once the allosaur could not fit.

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In another area, arrow slits waited behind a wall of rubble. A portcullis was also visible on the far side, and a shape passed by. Wase tried to walk over the rubble and vanished without a trace. At the same time, half-orc cultists began firing arrows at Poonisher. In reality, Wase had simply fallen into a pit covered by an illusion. Poonisher wasn’t fooled for a moment and threw a rope to help him out. The dinosaurs charged across at the slits, attempting to avoid the spot where Wase had vanished. Fee hopped onto Bendak’s back and imagined herself a warrior queen on a mighty charger. Hook failed to dodge and fell into the pit with Wase. She climbed out easily enough. Bendak had intended to leap through the arrow slits since his current form was narrow enough to fit. Once he got there, he realized the flaw in the plan. While he was thin enough, he couldn’t reach the slits from the floor. He turned to Fee. “Throw me.” The fairylike azata found it a bit embarrassing but managed to lift the druid/snake/bird from the floor and, as daintly as possible, toss him in. An unfortunate cultist took an unexpectedly hard bite to the nose. The rest of the party began looking for another way around and went into a hall. They were greeted by a eight foot tall vulture.

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Drezen invaded

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As the party approached Drezen, Hook suddenly collapsed with a ragged hiss. Bendak rushed over to treat her. Somehow, the combined exposure to the Abyssal energies of the Worldwound and the druid’s mythic power had mutated the raptor. Fortunately, Hook’s change was nothing terrible. Hook grew to six feet tall and 300 pounds. The feathers Tane’s amulet had given rooted in permanently irregardless of the amulet’s continued presence. Hook would significantly more deadly at her new size, after a few days of bumping into things and bullying the party familiars of course.

The Knights of Kenebraes prepared for the liberation of Drezen. To the suprise of some, Anevia arrived in the camp with her leg fully healed. Irabeth explained that Anevia had been following in secret to provide rescue or warn Kenebraes if the quest should come to disaster. She had kept her presence hidden to protect her plan from being betrayed, whether by treason or coercion. Now though, she would use her roguish skills to help coordinate scouts heading into Drezen. The army was nervous about the upcoming battles, despite the mime who kept mysteriously showing up among the troops.

After planning and selecting targets, the invasion began. The first blow was struck against two armies of cultists, one tiefling and one human. Basing their tactics on experience with Wase’s capabilities, Arava used well-placed spells to confuse the enemy and turn their own spellcasting against them. During the ensuing chaos the paladin army struck for law. The tieflings were annihilated without a single death on the side of the Knights. Ironically, their lack of magic meant that the humans put up a bit of a better fight. Their dirty tricks delayed the end, but determined Smiting soon finished the cultists off. The army took plunder and began to dare to hope for victory. The next opponent was a ghoul horde at the graveyard. In another situation that might be a terrible threat, but the paladin army simply smashed through them.

In the graveyard, one crypt the size of a small house seemed especially foreboding. Poonisher flew around it. He saw there was only one door leading out. The crypt seemed to emanate darkness and evil. Tane declared that it was obviously permanent Unhallow and Darkness spells cast on the area. The party began to move in. Nobody seriously considered actually using the door. Bendak became a raptor and prepared to warp the stone of the wall and create a tunnel entrance. At the same time. Tane handed out spells to ward off evil and speed the party’s movements. Nobody reached the crypt before the inevitable fight began. A withered, ghostly hand emerged from the ground and wrapped around Wase’s ankle. The rest of the creature emerged, a winged and translucent corpse.

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Tane called it a berbalang, an undead with the power to split its body and soul. It ripped into Wase, draining his life away. With some contributions from the others, Hook and Poo dissipated with claws and arrows. Wase struggled to stay on his feet, the berbalang having stolen nearly all of his life force away. Tane knew that the only way to end this battle would be to track down and destroy the berbalang’s physical body. The party used a scroll of restoration to cure Wase’s damage. It was the only one they had. Bendak opened a small rounded tunnel through the wall. A stale stink emerged from within. Raptor-Bendak and Hook entered and began sniffing around for the berbalang like reptilian bloodhounds.

Poonisher and Tane followed just after. Wase then rushed through like the wind. Despite his armor, he ran as fast as a warhorse. He had been developing his mythic powers in that manner. Due to his speed, he glimpsed a figure darting out through the front door and shutting it behind them. He zoomed to the door and sounded the alarm. At the door he heard the sound of wings taking flight. The raptors darted out through the hole and saw the berbalang reluctantly flying away. They followed on foot, hissing and challenging the undead. Poonisher exited the hole and began shooting it. He made sure to go for the throat of course. Tane gave Wase the ability to fly as Bendak switched shape to a pteranodon. The fliers charged and took swings at the berbalang.

Tane then cast another spell and overwhelmed the berbalang’s mind with feelings of its own earthly responsibilities and moral significance. These thoughts carried literal weight and forced the berbalang to land. Wase charged and struck a mighty blow. The monster then assaulted his mind, but his heroic willpower stopped it. Up in the sky, Bendak changed forms again. Seconds later, the berbalang vanished as Allosaurus-Bendak landed atop it. After the dust shockwave and new crater had settled, Bendak gave a pained roar of victory.

Wase reconsecrated the crypt and the army rested for the night. During the night, some knight’s steeds spooked and fled. These horses had seen many battles in the crusades. For them to be afraid was taken as a bad omen and dampened the army’s spirit, despite Poonisher attempting to convince them that the opinions of equines should not be taken so seriously.

The next target chosen was Paradise Hill. Once a storage area, it had now become a prison for captured crusaders. The army had to cross a certain bridge over a dry riverbank to reach it efficiently. The cultists guarding the bridge had some huge aurochs bulls chained to the supports. Their leader was an especially repulsive tiefling with a hunched back who waited to sound the alarm.

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A direct attack would spook the bulls and destroy the bridge. Bendak turned into a common lizard and spoke to the abused aurochs, promising them relief and convincing them to refrain from destroying the bridge. After that the party took up positions for a surprise attack. Poonisher swooped out and shot the leader in the neck. The arrow only grazed his jugular, and the tiefling stayed standing. Before he could do anything nefarious, the lizard druid chirped a few magical words and finished him off with a 40-foot geyser that exploded from under the cult leader’s feet. Without him, the other cultists swiftly fell. The aurochs were freed. They were taken into the Knight’s forces after being healed and fed. This victory restored the troop’s spirits.

Paradise Hill was guarded by an army of goatlike Schir spite demons.

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The paladins charged in with swords shining in the sunlight. The schir were more powerful than the other troops that the army had faced before. The Knights had trouble hurting them and the demons began pushing them back. Then, all across the field, holy symbols of righteous gods were raised. Holy power energized the forces of good and so they held strong. Gradually the tide turned. What could have been another of countless demonic victories in these crusades became a rout. Paradise hill fell and its prisoners were freed. The 200 crusaders there more than tripled the Knight’s troop count. On the horizon, three booming roars echoed in anger.

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