Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 12: Into the Cultists' Lair

Wrath of the Righteous, Part 12
April 9, 2017

Character level: 5th

After the team attacking the Gray Garrison had disposed of the two vermlek demons and their Baphomet cultist minions outside the fortress-like garrison, they searched the remains but found no key to unlock the heavy iron doors that had been locked behind them. At first they feared this would bring an end to their mission to enter the garrison. But Jiro made an attempt to pick the lock, and with the aid of a set of fine quality lockpicks that his monkey mysteriously produced, he was able to get it open. Asami, who had just discovered that she was now able to communicate verbally with her familiar Kirara, was confused when Kirara laughed at Jiro's efforts. It wasn't until afterward that Jiro remembered he had in his possession a magical chime that might have opened the doors with less effort.

The iron doors opened into an entry way decorated with a mosaic of Crusaders in battle with an army of demons. The mosaic had been defaced with vile graffiti, and the floor beneath was stained with fresh blood. As the attackers stepped inside the dimly lit entrance, shadowy figures emerged from a doorway to their left. Jiro exclaimed, "Cultists!" and began casting a spell. Asami stepped up behind him, as he held his lantern aloft and it illuminated the foyer. Half a dozen tieflings wearing the insignia of Baphomet cultists had emerged from a side chamber, where playing cards could be seen on a table. Asami sent three missiles of force from her newly acquired wand and one of the cultists collapsed.

As three of the mongrelfolk fired their bows at the cultists, one man rushed out and ran past the attackers into another chamber on the right of the entryway. A second man ran after him but was struck by Jiro's club. A man maneuvered behind Runa, who was standing next to the doorway from which the cultists had emerged, and stabbed her in the back. Two of his comrades also stepped into the entrance. Then darkness filled the area.

Zosta moved into the room to the right of the entrance, which proved to contain a small shrine to Iomedae that the cultists had attempted to desecrate. The man who had fled there was about to open a door on the far side of the shrine, but before he could do so Zosta tripped him and then stomped on him, crushing his ribs.

Asami could no longer see the cultists, but Kirara whispered in her ear and she directed Jiro's arm to attack the cultist who was standing directly in front of him. The mongrelfolk, who had no trouble seeing through the magical darkness, fired on the man who had stabbed Runa and slew him. Irabeth and Runa were also not troubled by the dark, and Irabeth killed another of the cultists. The last remaining man fled out the entrance of the garrison. One of the mongrelfolk outside fired on him. Then Jiro raced out after him, and Asami stepped outside to bring him down with more missiles from her wand.

The room the cultists had come out of proved to have no other exit and contained nothing of interest, other than evidence that the men had been gambling with severed body parts. The shrine had been smeared with blood and excrement, but the cultists had been unable to deface an inscription in the language of the Celestials that was on the wall above an empty sword rest. Runa took out a scroll and read it, granting herself the ability to read the inscription, which was a prayer to Iomedae that Runa found so moving it brought tears to her eyes. Jiro conjured up some water and an invisible servant and set his servant to washing the shrine clean. He knelt down to do some of the cleaning himself, and as he did so he noticed that the ornate script of the inscription formed the shape of a sword with different words inscribed on it. He called this discovery to Runa's attention, and she saw that the sword's message read, "Let us inherit thine arms, Iomedae." Encouraged by this, Runa tried placing her weapon on the stand and praying to Iomedae, but she didn't sense any change to the weapon, only a feeling of peace.

Leaving Jiro's servant to keep cleaning, the group opened one of the doors leading out of the shrine. They were immediately faced with a gargantuan demon filling the space beyond. This sight so terrified Kirara and one of the mongrelfolk that they both fled. But the rest of the group realized that the demon was far too large to occupy the space in which it appeared and must be some sort of apparition rather than an actual creature. The room in which the demonic vision appeared was actually quite small, but had three doors leading out of it. Zosta listened at one of the doors on the left and exhorted her companions to go through it.

The door opened into a room containing a smashed sideboard and an ascending staircase. It also held three creatures that the companions recognized as dretches, having met such demons while they were trapped under the city. Irabeth rushed into the staircase room to attack the dretches. When one of them made a move toward her she laughed and remarked, "You're trying that? I'm protected by Iomedae!" Her sword slashed into the dretch. Then one of the dretches released a cloud of foul-smelling gas that filled the room and spread into the small chamber beyond, blocking sight and causing Zosta to retch and vomit. Kirara was also affected and the little white cat began to retch into Asami's pack.

One of the mongrelfolk archers pulled Zosta out of the gas cloud. Runa started to step into the room with Irabeth, but Irabeth called out to her to wait and that she would lure the dretches into the other room. Jiro cast a spell on Runa. Irabeth moved into the small room and the dretches pursued her. Runa and Aegron attacked them and Aegron killed his target. Jiro cast another spell upon himself, but was distracted by the sight of his monkey, who seemed to be trying to lay hands on himself as Jiro had seen Irabeth and Runa do, though the monkey seemed to be struggling with this action. In the meantime Aegron and Irabeth slew the other two dretches. Once the creatures were dead the malodorous cloud dissipated.

Zosta had recovered from her sickness by this time and warned her companions that she had heard booted footsteps before the dretches appeared. Since the demons didn't wear footgear there must be someone else in the garrison. Then the doorway at the end of the small room opened, revealing four cultists who wore the insignia of the demon lord Deskari rather than Baphomet, and a fifth figure who was suspended from the ceiling. Like the Baphomet cultists at the entrance, all of the new foes appeared to be tieflings. Runa moved to attack and the man on the ceiling hurled a vial into the small room that exploded in flames, dousing everyone nearby and setting Irabeth on fire. Asami, Jiro, and Zosta were spared as they had all remained or retreated into the shrine room. Aegron moved forward to attack the cultists in the doorway. Jiro summoned a tetsubo of force to attack the suspended tiefling, but found him a hard target to hit. Irabeth patted out the flames and stepped to one side to lay hands on herself for healing.

Asami directed missiles from her wand at the suspended tiefling but they were deflected by a magical shield surrounding him. The mongrelfolk fired on the four cultists in the doorway, leaving one of them badly wounded. Runa then created a burst of brilliant radiance that left the cultists dazzled and the severely wounded man slumped to the ground. The man on the ceiling hurled another vial into the small room, this time setting Runa aflame. Zosta, who had finally recovered from nausea, moved into the room and disarmed one of the cultists. In turn she was struck by one of the others who wielded a scythe. Jiro ran into the room and channeled divine energy to heal his companions, and Irabeth laid hands on herself a second time.

Asami moved a step closer and sent a spell into the room where the man was suspended from the ceiling, wrapping him and the three remaining cultists in sticky vines. Unfortunately the vines also wrapped Aegron and Zosta, but they failed to entrap the man on the ceiling. The ceiling hangerthen hurled another vial that shattered and splashed Runa, who moved into the space occupied by the vines and set them on fire, then collapsed.

Two more of the cultists fell dead after they were burned by the flaming vines. Asami shot a magical arrow coated with acidic sap at the man on the ceiling but Zosta observed that the acid appeared to do him little harm. Jiro healed Runa and she got back on her feet, but the suspended foe hit her with another vial. Asami tried hurling one of her spears at him and missed. When he tossed yet another bottle of liquid Zosta slapped it out of the air, which caused it to only splash everyone instead of setting Runa on fire again. Jiro's tetsubo finally managed to hit the man, then vanished, the magic spent. Jiro then ordered his servant to shut the door into the shrine to prevent the man from exiting into the other room. He called upon the spirits of his ancestors to grant boons to Zosta and Runa. Zosta then grabbed hold of the suspended tiefling and lifted herself up by his arms, wrapping her arms and legs around him so that he couldn't move. Asami threw another spear but it also failed to connect with the man on the ceiling, who was surrounded by a magical effect that made him difficult to see clearly. He tried to drink a potion, but spilled it instead. One of the mongrelfolk managed to hit him with an arrow, then Runa then rendered him unconscious and Zosta dropped him to the floor.

Next: Part 13




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