The party continued their strange meeting with the vescavor swarm known as Verbovezzor. The swarm was eager to know how the party had defeated Baphomet. Bendak corrected the swarm, informing it that it was actually Nocticula who had defeated Baphomet. The swarm was no less impressed, however. The swarm listening with unsettling joy at the tale of how Baphomet’s daughter had fallen. The swarm rewarded the party with secrets of its own, chief among them being that Baphomet had not just fled Nocticula’s realm. Nocticula had actually slain Baphomet and forced him to reform in his own realm. It also knew the way to the Ineluctable Prison where Iomedae’s Herald was likely being held.
It told the party that the prison was located in a region called the Breathless Mountains. It also knew of a tunnel shortcut under the mountains. However, that would require going through the Lightless Maze, which was inhabited by the mighty Father of Worms. If the party could make him bleed and somehow store the blood, they’d have an acid capable of burning through even the Ineluctable Prison’s gates. The swarm chuckled at this and thought it impossible, not knowing that Iomedae had given the party her goblet for just that purpose. With no more to discuss, the party said farewell to the thought-eating bug monsters and went on their way.
As the party was carefully on their way out of Blackburgh, they noticed that someone was following them. Poonisher invisibly doubled back to find a pair of coloxus demons stalking them through the streets. Poonisher eavesdropped on them and heard them discussing their master, a local ruler named Orengofta. Poonisher decided to approach the demons and crept up behind them. The demons managed to not die of fright at his sudden appearance and immediately began squeaking that they meant no harm. They merely wanted to bring the party for a visit with their master. Poonisher marched them over to the party. The group agreed and followed the demons. Through alleyway mazes and many turns the demons brought the party to Orengofta’s throne room. The chamber and throne was all ivory, and the ceiling rose high above. The piglike Orengofta himself lounged on the throne while holding an enormous sword. A crowd of coloxus servants gathered around the edges of the room.
The nalfeshnee demon waved at his attendants for silence and spoke.
“Ahh… so you are the Inheritor’s lapdogs. You seem a little out of place in this town. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with the likes of you, but the reason you’re here disturbs me. I do not condone any act that endangers Mother Abyss, and the abduction of a goddess’s favorite pet does just this. You are here to correct this situation, and I would see you do it, for the alternative is not something I wish to contemplate. I do not condone Baphomet’s actions, but neither do I wish to work directly against them. For me, the faster you fnish this quest, the better. I take it the same would be true for you, yes?”
Orengofta went on to detail his idea. He would pretend to have captured the party, and send them into the Ineluctable Prison as captives. Once inside, the party would escape and free the Herald before Iomedae herself felt forced to intervene. After all, "Surely heroes as great as you can’t be held long by mere prison bars?” The party debated the idea amongst themselves for a long while. Mostly they focused on how they would manage to keep their gear while prisoners, occasionally badgering Orengofta for more details.
Finally, Orengofta tired of the discussion and rose from his throne while announcing in a loud voice that “This is no longer a request.” Raising his sword, he unleashed a burst of light that stunned Bendak’s dinosaurs. Wase charged forward and clashed blades with the demon ruler. Orengofta was himself a mythic creature, and proved a worthy opponent. The demon and the paladin circled about, trading blow after blow. All the while, arrows and spells steadily whittled away at Orengofta’s strength. The minor demons rushed about and mostly tried to get in the way. Finally, Orengofta found an opening and downed Wase. However, it had taken all his strength to get that far. Just before Tane cursed his sight, Orengofta saw Bendak revive Wase. Once the blindness had taken hold, Poonisher finished him off.
The party gathered themselves up as the coloxus demons teleported away. Whether or not the offer had been genuine, it was no longer an option. The party decided to rest before they went further. Bendak was preparing to conjure his extradimensional meadow, but Tane took the opportunity to show a new trick he had gained from his Mythic blessing. After some concentration, he summoned a door in the air. On the other side was a resplendent Archmage’s Sanctum.
(Cue awesome Mage-fortress montage)
It was very impressive. Fee flitted off to her own miniature wing. From now on, she could teleport back and forth from the mansion at will. The rest of the party wandered off inside to sleep. The next day, the party set off for the Lightless Maze. On Tane’s suggestion, the party stoneshaped a hidden area in the Abyss. Tane then set up a contingency spell to teleport any who were near death to the little room. With that done, the party made their way to and through the Lightless Maze. There were some monsters on the way, but they weren’t worth missing or were blown past with Wind Walk.
As its name implied, the caverns of the Lightless Maze were utterly dark. The party used various means to see in the dark and were unaffected. Poonisher went ahead, wafting silently through the void on simian wings. Eventually, he spotted the Father of Worms. The centipede-like abomination was clinging to the rock ceiling far above.
It took a moment for the thing to spot Poonisher, so he contacted Arueshalae through their telepathic mark. He then described the creature to her so she could relay the information back to the party. The Father of Worms then noticed Poonisher and began rushing down the wall. Humanoid shadows dislodged from its back as it went. Poonisher flew back to the party as they began preparing spells. The shadows were the first to attack. Their incorporeal hands phased up through the floor and began grabbing ankles. Strength and life died away at their touch. The Father of Worms then arrived.
After a moment of simply watching the battle, it lunged forward and swallowed Tane whole as Wase, Bendak and Hook fought the shadows. Poonisher emerged to unleash his usual torrent of arrows, but the Father of Worms survived to retaliate. Inside the monster and dying from acid, Tane summoned a magic sword. Thankfully, he had been the one to carry Iomedae’s goblet. The sword slashed away at the Father of Worm’s innards and Tane grabbed the freed blood. After getting it, Tane was forced to teleport back to the party’s safe zone just before the acid could dissolve him.
Meanwhile on the outside, Poonisher was downed by the Father’s bite and sting. Poonisher vanished and reappeared still alive in the safe zone. Wase scorched the shadows with channeled energy and his mighty sword, but their strength-draining touch eventually overcame him. Wase fell, and his shadow rose up of its own accord. Thankfully, it was weak and stunted compared to its kin, and flickered out moments after its animation. Wase’s pitborn soul was just not composed of the right material for such a thing. Wase’s spirit was grabbed by Tane just before the sorcerer teleported out, and his lifeless body went to the safe zone. The dinosaurs then killed all the shadows and found themselves one on one with the Father of Worms. Bendak fought mightly, but eventually he too was sent away.
Tane and Fee used wands to revive their wounded and battered allies, before Tane triumphantly unveiled his goblet of captured monster blood. The party now had their way into the Ineluctable Prison.