Tuesday, April 5, 2011

EPISODE XLVIII: The Banewarrens, Act IV: The Inner Vaults IV - Death Knight of the Demon of Destruction! The White Wizards Three Meet Their End

Augustar 12

Emeris the shadowcaster, born of a shadow dragon and a human, has to somehow convince the powerful Saggarintys to allow him and his allies go deeper inside the Banewarrens. The “cover story” (which was conveniently true) of needing to retrieve of the Sword of Lies seemed to be insufficient to convince the silver dragon that they had a right to go deeper.

Emeris’ only chance is to rely on the dragon’s desire to see the Banewarrens closed and its contents inaccessible to dark forces. He explains that Navanna of House Vladaam has the hand of Danar, and Saggarintys knows the Banewarrens cannot be sealed to her if she has it. He also reveals that his company possesses Yaeshla, the sentient piece of the broken Staff of Shards -- the implication being that if the staff were reassembled, it could be used to destroy the mummified hand. He also emphasizes the magnitude of how 20,000 years have passed since the Dread One was defeated, and he offers the Rosegate Company’s services as something of a facilitator with regard to the modern world.

Meanwhile, new factions entered the Banewarrens. Firstly, followers of the Demon of Destruction Vazdah had completed a ritual to restore their “favored soul,” Aelrich, so that the hunt for the Sword of Lies could continue. Aelrich had died previously in a fight against the Rosegate Company, but now his soul was infused with necroticfire, then grafted to a new suit of abyssal plate mail, and he had become a death knight in the service of his demonic lord. One of the cult’s evil wizards used teleport magic to dispatch them to the site of Aelrich’s previous demise. Aelrich’s party consisted of Sharah Nestor, the dark paladin, Vaesillian the elven dark paladin with arcane magic, Mostoq, a strange, fat purple humanoid cleric of Vazdah, Zumo the rogue, Gazry the monk, and Helgert, the butch human warrior woman.

Shortly after, the agents of the Inverted Pyramid, an adventuring company of elven magi known as the White Wizards Three teleported into the Banewarrens as well. They had been here two days prior without incident, and were back to explore further and hopefully learn how to seal the place up. They are led by Caltanis the enchanter bard. The other two members are twins Zem and Zim. Zem focuses on evocation attacks, and his sister Zim is a mystic theurge. The group is joined by its promising apprentice, Galenor the conjuror. If he turns out great, they will have to become the White Wizards Four. They are fearful of encountering the Rosegate Company because of what they have heard about them (brutal, heartless, and very powerful).

Saggarintys, the mighty, arrogant and self-righteous silver dragon, finally accepts their cooperation, and transforms into a handsome human form with silver hair. Early, Emeris, Vatex, and Dziga accompany him to the closest warding generator so he can “analyze the status of the Banewarrens.” He says he will be able to determine which vaults have been breached, which banes are missing, among other details. He is seems most concerned about the Baneheart. The group is thankful it not carrying any banes at the moment -- that might upset their delicate allegiance with the dragon!

Eastward, past the sanctuary of the Betrayed, the party follows Saggarintys’ directions and find the warding generator on this level to the south. Saggarintys touches the inactive generator and tells them it will take some time to complete the analysis, which uses mysterious dragon magic. Emeris proposes that they explore the southern corridor and its vault doors, to make sure they haven’t been opened. The silver dragon cryptically says if those vaults had been opened, “it would probably already be over for us.”

The group waits for a while, rather bored, while the dragon sort-of meditates at the generator. Suddenly, they hear a massive explosion shake the complex somewhere to the northwest. While the dragon stays behind and continues analyzing, the group hurries to investigate.

It seems the followers of Vazdah had encountered the White Wizards Three. The wizards had been surprised by Zumo and Gazry, but the two cultists were killed relatively quickly by magic. Then the rest of the Vazdah followers began chasing them up to the Inner Vaults. The battle was now taking place in the sanctification chamber, Galenor being killed by Vaesillian and the rest of the wizards devastated by Aelrich devastating blast of abyssal fire that shook the dungeon itself.

Dziga and Vatex approach from the south, and Early and Emeris from the east. Zim and Zem stumble, burned and bleeding, through the door to be face to face with the shadowcaster and the warblade. Rosegate Company! A few words are exchanged and a temporary truce is forged to deal with the situation. Zim and Zem temporarily retreat to drink healing potions.

Vatex and Dziga rush into the room. Dziga vanishes into shadow and reappears before Vaesillian, Asura stabbing into his heart and killing the half-elf instantly. Caltanis uses one of his most effective prepared spells and puts Helgert and Mostoq into a deep slumber, so they collapse where they stand, helpless to the battle around them.

Aelrich steps into the room and hacks at Caltanis with a purple-bladed sword of evil flame, nearly killing him. Emeris joins Caltanis and blasts killing shadows into the room, blasting everyone and slaying Helgert.

Vatex takes down Sharah in a flurry of steel, and Early and Emeris fight off Aelrich while Caltanis retreats. Zim and Zem rejoin the battle, but many of their spells would hurt the Rosegate Company as well as the enemies, so they are restricted to some weaker spells to contribute. As the battle intensifies, the company convinces Zem to use a powerful spell upon them -- his haste spell! The group accelerates, dodging more attacks and striking more telling blows.

Aelrich calls upon the power of Vazdah and unleashes a powerful blast of purple fire that fills the chamber. Emeris blasts more killing shadows at the death knight, which also his Mostoq who awakens. The Vazdah cleric takes the favored soul’s place, and Aelrich falls back into the narrow corridor. Dziga cuts Mostoq down despite his array of magic defenses in place.

The corridor is only wide enough for one person to fight Aelrich -- so Vatex leaps to the challenge. His blades clash against Aelrich’s mighty armor and he is struck by the abyssal blade of the death knight. Though foiled by the powerful armor many times, his blades hit true many times as well. He is not rewarded with blood, but with the spurt of purple flame that is death knight’s lifeforce. Yet he is not sure he can defeat Aelrich by himself. Aelrich in his undead form is much, much stronger than when they met previously.

Emeris foils Aelrich’s tactical advantage by grabbing onto Early and calls upon his dark power. Together, their shadows stretch through across the floor, through the walls, and they appear behind Aelrich! Early simultaneously extends his mind through the Vajra, compelting the Death from Above maneuver and aiming for a precise gap between the plates protecting Aelrich’s neck. Cryssaegrym plunges down through the collar and into Aelrich’s chest -- with the final gust of purple fire, the death knight is defeated.

The group heals up and chats with the White Wizards Three. Vatex and Emeris tell them they are in over their heads and should get the hell out of this place. Caltanis says that he doesn’t trust the Rosegate group because they didn’t want to work with the Inverted Pyramid to seal the place up, and now they want the White Wizards Three to go -- the group that is pursuing the “good” mission?

Zim tries to talk down a fight, but there is no chance to reconcile the conflicting interests here. In the ensuring fight, Caltanis dies quickly. Zem activates greater invisibility and assaults the party with a magic ice storm that batters and freezes them. As Vatex cuts into Zim, she tries to hit him with a wave of grief spell, but he resists. Zim surrenders and Zem runs away, deeper into the Banewarrens. When Early, Vatex, and Dziga pursue Zem, Emeris kills Zim with black fire. Though invisible, Zem is unable to escape his pursuers and ultimately Vatex guns him down.

The group takes this time to explore a little more. They find a couple of empty vaults, and a hall of statues where progress is blocked by a prismatic wall spell. They find that the statues correspond to the notable piece of prose they found earlier. By moving the position of the statues in the order corresponding to how they were mentioned in the written passage, they are able to disable the prismatic wall and move beyond the doors on the other side.

Vatex’s owl starts going crazy, and he sends it away to wait on the other side of the room. Dziga sends his shadow through the door to scout the next room and finds the source of the owl’s distress -- there are three spectres of former Dread One servants, animated by the evil presence of banes. The spectres regard the shadow curiously, as if wondering whether or not they should attack it.

Next time: The Rosegate Company dealt with one spectre back in the Outer Vaults easily enough -- can they handle three with the same success? Can Emeris get the Book of Inverted Shadows’ 751st page before Saggarintys figures out what he’s up to?

Random Elanian Factoid: Some shadier folk speak of strife among the Forsaken, the vile undead worshippers that live in the Dark Reliquary with the demons. Tales of undead fighting undead and of Forsaken cultists and sorcerers betraying each other and foiling each other’s plans, grow more common of late. No one seems to know what the fighting is all about, or what will happen when one side or the other actually achieves victory. One particularly nasty fellow was heard talking about how one of these Forsaken factions was planning to resurrect a shigmaa called called “Khyron” to aid them.

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