Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 11: We Must Destroy the Stone

March 19, 2017

Having received a reward of 4,000 gold pieces from Irabeth for their investigations into the two Ivory Labyrinth safehouses, the new Eagle's Watch team decided to sell some of the items they had acquired and divvy up the remainder among the group members. Runa found a priest who could make the broken phylactery whole and decided to wear it herself. She also claimed a couple of scrolls, while Jiro took the others. Asami sought a curative potion as she had been so badly wounded in the tower, and her comrades agreed that she should have a protective cloak in addition to the potion. Once she received her share of the coin, she used some of it to purchase a wand that would fire tiny unerringly accurate missiles of force at her chosen target.

While the group were taking care of this business, they heard some tales of a terrifying demon that had been seen about the city. The description of the demon sounded familiar to them, and they soon realized that it was not an enemy but an ally, the demon known as Rhino who had helped to train them in demon-fighting techniques under the supervision of Cennami. Zosta was especially eager to disabuse the city folk of their fear of Rhino after he had given her the gift of the magical punching gauntlets.

Irabeth had told the party that they should talk with Quednys Orland, leader of the Riftwardens, and they decided to do this after their trip to the next safehouse, Nyserian Manor. They made their way through one of the most damaged parts of Kenabres to reach the manor, which had completely collapsed into a heap of rubble. It was difficult to tell if the manor, like the other safehouses, had a subterranean level. They encountered a local resident who told them that she had seen a surprisingly large number of people fleeing from the manor during the demonic attack, and that they had all been wearing unusual robes. The group members recognized the description of the robes as those of Baphomet's cultists. The woman also knew that the manor had a basement, but as far as she knew it had no side entrance or other access. The basement now appeared to be completely filled with the fallen remains of the manor.

While they were talking with the woman she made a reference to someone named Kandro. Jiro and Runa recognized the name as that of the man who had purchased a sword stolen from Irabeth. He was also the master of Nyserian Manor. Our of gratitude for the information the woman had provided, Jiro healed her minor injuries. The group then decided that removing all the rubble from the manor's basement to search for more evidence was more work than they were willing to commit to, and they returned to Defender's Heart.

At Defender's Heart, Irabeth took them to meet Quednys. They discovered that he was unaware that Blackwing hadn't been completely destroyed or that Aravashnial had survived the attack on the city. He was pleased to learn both pieces of information. Afterward he and Irabeth told the group that they feared the attack had merely been a prelude to something far worse. They suspected that the demons were plotting to turn the power of the Wardstones back on the mortal world, releasing the demonic forces to invade through the Worldwound. The cultists had taken refuge in the Gray Garrison after the attack, and Quednys believed they held a fragment of a destroyed Wardstone there. He and Irabeth believed that this fragment must be destroyed to prevent the demons from using it to gain control over the other stones. They wanted the new Crusaders to help them attack the Gray Garrison and seek out the fragment. Quednys presented Asami with a forked rod that held a green stone between its two prongs, which he said would nullify the stone's remaining power.

Irabeth explained that the other Crusaders would attack other cult locations in an attempt to draw the defenders out of the Gray Garrison and deny them reinforcements, while Irabeth would go with the group to seek the stone. She admitted that they might not be successful in entering the garrison on their first try, as it was well fortified. But she had some aid to help them in their attack: six mongrelfolk had come from below ground to lend their aid, and they were all accomplished archers. Despite her still broken leg, Irabeth's wife Anevia would lead her old squad in one of the decoy attacks.  Kendys then sent a messenger to Blackwing.

Before the messenger could go far, he returned in the company of a second courier who had been sent by Aravashnial. The second messenger carried a magical pack full of equipment, including another wand like the one Asami had just purchased but more powerful, several strong healing potions, a group of cold iron arrows, a chime that could open any door or gate, a wand that would cancel magical darkness, a cold iron greataxe, and a cold iron longsword. Asami took the two wands and one of the potions, Aegron took the greataxe, Runa the sword, Jiro the chime, and the remaining potions were given to the mongrelfolk along with the arrows. Irabeth explained that the decoy attacks would begin once the party attacking the garrison were in place. At that point, the group set out for the Gray Garrison.

Most of the buildings around the Gray Garrison had been reduced to rubble, but there were a few partial walls nearby. As soon as the group neared the garrison, the gates opened and a group of cultists emerged, preceded by what appeared to be two bloated, naked men. As the attackers came closer they saw that the two naked men resembled Kandro, lord of Nyserian Manor, and Lord Hulruun, former leader of Kenabres. Zosta suddenly remembered a type of demon called a vermlek that would wear the flesh of the dead. Clearly both Kandro and Hulruun were dead. The two vermleks ordered the cultists to attack, and the cultists responded by casting spells on themselves, which Asami recognized as protection against the energy of good.The attackers all moved toward the garrison's defenders except Asami, who hung back to use long-range magic.

Asami was the first to act after the cultists cast their spells. She used her more powerful wand to send three missiles of force at one of the vermleks. To her disappointment the missiles seemed to have little effect on the disgusting creature. One vermlek cast a spell at Aegron and Zosta, who were both near to it, inflicting wounds without any weapon. Aegron and Zosta attacked in return and observed that the vermleks' stolen skin closed over the injuries they suffered.

Jiro summoned up a wakizashi of force to attack one of the cultists. Asami decided that the human cultists were better targets than the demons, and sent three missiles at three cultists. Runa called on the power of Iomedae to bless her companions, while Zosa tapped her new gauntlets together and exlaimed "Little Sister!" to ignite their flames.

One of the demons struck at Aegron with the scythe it wielded and dealt him a grievous blow, nearly severing his hand. That injury, combined with the wounds the demon had already magically inflicted on him and the attacks of nearby cultists, left Aegron too weak to stand. After he collapsed, Irabeth rushed to his side to defend him and extended Iomedae's healing mercy to keep him from death. Runa then cast a spell that caused a burst of radiant light to engulf the demons and several cultists. The demons withstood the magic, but two cultists were left blind.

While the companions and Irabeth faced the demons, the mongrelfolk archers picked off cultist after cultist. Jiro's floating weapon was suddenly wrested from his control and moved to strike one of the demons, at the same time transforming from a wakizashi to a tetsubo. At the same time, Asami noticed several force missiles coming from the top of a broken wall nearby. She glimpsed a furry white paw holding a stick taking cover behind the wall, and realized that her newly-acquired wand was missing. She didn't take time to think of how curious it was that a monkey could use a wand. Instead she took Telendrev's silver scale from her pouch and applied it to her wooden sword, aligning the sword so that it could inflict damage with the power of good.

While Asami was engaged in this, the vermlek that had attacked Aegron had dropped its human guise, revealing its true form as a worm-like creature that lacked limbs to grasp the scythe. Irabeth then stepped up to it and with one blow of her sword nearly sliced it in two. The second vermlek began to recite the words of a spell, which Runa recognized as one to summon another creature. She called out a warning to her companions. Asami moved closer to where the remaining vermlek stood and hurled her splintered spear at it. Despite the fact that Irabeth and several cultists were between her and the demon, Asami's spear hit it, and she was rewarded with the satisfaction of seeing that it had wasted the spell it was casting. Two dretches had started to materialize nearby but after her spear hit they faded away. Zosta then turned her powerful blows on the vermlek and it joined its comrade in death. The remaining cultists were slain by the mongrelfolk archers, with the exception of the two blind men, who were encouraged to attack each other by one of the mongrelfolk mimicking the vermlek's voice.

Next: Episode 12, Into the Cultists' Lair

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