On the left side of the doors, the half-elves Z’alden Silverflame and Tira Duskmeadow waited. On the other side, Skamos Redmoon, Felsmon, and Barrick also waited for the acolytes of Kalarel to pass through the doors and spring the trap. Skamos’ Tielfing tailed twitched in anticipation. The wizard had placed magical coins a few feet in front of the doors to distract the acolytes. Z’alden had thrown a sunrod into the middle of the room to make sure that they were distracted. Unfortunately, Azural and Mingot were indeed distracted and stopped, too soon, before Skamos and the dragonborn Felsmon could use their attacks without harming their comrades. Then, Z’alden spied the hands of these servants of Orcus and realized from his cleric trainging that they were not of the living, but rather, they were undead Wights. His eyes glistened, another chance to destroy evil incarnate! Bright radiance flared from his holy symbol of Bahamut and burned the two. The power was so great, Azural was pushed away towards the sword-wielding statue in the room. Immediately it began to swing at the Wight even as he was rendered immobile from the holy light.
The other wight, Mingot, was less powerful, and the combined forces of Skamos, Felsmon, and Barrick had him quickly restored to the dead. Tira’s warlock energy flew into Azural, wounding him. Then Azural did something remarkable. He pointed at Mingot and up Mingot rose, restored to his undead state. The group quickly determined that they must concentrate on Azural, who seemed able to avoid the swings of the statue without any problem. Realizing that the necrotic attacks of Azural and his resurrecting abilities had to be put to a stop, the mighty dwarf fighter charged towards the statue and Azural, biting into him with his axe even as leapt over the statue’s sword. Moments later the adventurers had triumphed, both acolytes were down, never to rise again.
The group paused to catch their breath and to discuss a plan for how to enter the room with Ninaran, knowing now that she was not the cult leader Kalarel. The Tielfing wizard and the half-elf cleric put on the robes of the Wights, and loosely tied the other three as prisoners. With a few minutes of chanting, Skamos materialized a floating disk to hold their weapons out of view. Leading the prisoners, Skamos and Z’alden advanced into the massive chamber of blood towards Ninaran. Reaching almost 60 feet into the chamber unimpeded, Skamos began to wonder if the ruse might just work. But, then, a zombie shouted, “Intruders!”
Seeing the zombie and the three more that appeared at the shout, Z’alden’s eyes almost glowed. “A chance to destroy more undead. This is good,” he thought. Searing light burst forth from the symbol of Bahamut, wounding all three, and sending one zombie to the north of the chamber and another to the south end, both immobilized.
The dwarf and the dragonborn charged up to Ninaran while Z’alden, Skamos, and Tira dispatched the zombies. Tira’s eldritch energy ripped into a zombie sending muck everywhere. From the wizard’s staff, a ray of light seared a zombie, exploding it. Soon, the zombies were dispatched, and Ninaran was on her knees. “Don’t kill me,” she pleaded. “Why should we let your evil live?” the dragonborn Paladin growled. “My brother Numien is a captive of Kalarel’s. Kalarel forced me to serve him or else my brother would be killed.” Z’alden asked,“Will you fight with us?” “I cannot, Kalarel would kill my brother.”
Barrick scowled,“Lies and more lies. Let’s kill her now.” But no one could detect any lies. Z’alden said,“Let’s find out of her story is true, first. We would have your dagger and anything else of yours that could help us in the fight with Kalarel.” Reluctantly, Ninaran pulled out an ornate dagger and handed it to Tira. Tira could sense the Warlock nature of the dagger – it would allow her to teleport an enemy. It felt good in her hands. She flung it across the room. It immediately returned to her. The dwarf scowled,“Teleportation. I hate teleportation.”
When asked about whether any other magical items were in the room, Ninaran pointed to a ragged pile in the corner containing the goods taken from the sacrifices. The adventurers looked at the pile of the victim’s goods. In the pile were two sets of magical boots – one of fine leather that Skamos believed would enhance stealth, and another solid and sturdy to empower a bull rush. Skamos put on the leather boots while Barrick shod himself with the sturdy boots. Additionally, a small metal shield brooch appeared to be magical and afford the wearer protection. Despite his reservations about magic, Barrick accepted this, too.
Then, Barrick bound and gagged Ninaran, all the while, Tira muttered, “We should just kill her. She’s probably lying.”
Felsmon, Z’alden, Tira, and Skamos stepped onto the platform that they had seen Kalarel and the acolytes use earlier, and Barrick lowered them. He then quickly descended on a chain. On the way down, Z’alden was bitten by an unseen foe, hearing only a swooshing sound that was gone too fast for him to fire his loaded crossbow. They descended into a massive chamber, the same size as that above. The platform stopped in a pool of blood. In front of them, 25 feet across, the Rift shimmered darkly. Far to their left, the cultist leader himself, Kalarel, chanted, his ram horn headdress moving up and down rhythmically with each diabolical syllable. An evil metallic dog at his side growled at the group. Neither moved. Behind them, a huge statue of Orcus towered. Between these three points, beams of living blackness pulsed stronger and stronger with each chant of Kalarel.
“You are too late!” the acolyte of Orcus roared triumphantly. The beams darkened and the tentacles of some horrible Thing in the Portal advanced out of the Rift. A massive bat flew down at the group, its wings swooshing. Two undead creatures moved forward from near the Rift towards the group. These vampire spawn immediately attacked. The battle had begun.
Z’alden gleamed as he saw the undead advance. This is what he lived for! Divine radiance bathed the creatures in pain, sending one back towards the Rift. Barrick and Felsmon engaged the other. The bat tore into Skamos, wounding him severely. Tira waved her wand, and the bat felt the power of the Warlock’s curse. Kalarel advanced, pointed his rod at Z’alden, and necrotic energy poured into the cleric, weakening him. Z’alden smiled, though, as his hands glowed, and he restored Skamos. Though weakened, his healing abilities were unimpeded.
Blades flashed, the bat attacked, and energy flew, as the battle raged. Skamos pointed his staff at Kalarel and a magical arrow, dripping acid, tore into the cultist. The acid flew towards the evil hound, wounding him as well. Kalarel’s rod continued its damage, weakening Barrick. Both the dwarf and Z’alden shook off the effects and engaged the Spawn. Felsmon waved his hand and divine runes scattered on the floor, creating a ward that protected the group. An orb of force appeared at the tip of Skamos’ staff and flew towards Kalarel. Its shards caused the cult leader to shriek in pain, and more shards pierced the dog making it howl.
Tira glared at Kalarel, cursed him, and threw her new dagger into him, striking true. Instantly, Tira could sense that she could teleport Kalarel. He shimmered, and she moved him closer to the Rift, from which only seconds earlier, the tentacles of the Thing had tried to attack one of the vampire spawn. Perhaps the Thing did not discriminate friend from foe!
Even as the adventurers were starting to gain the upper end, it became clear that the Thing was not attacking Kalarel. In fact, he smiled evilly and moved further over, towards a glowing blue disk on the floor. The acid arrow in his chest dissolved, and he breathed deeply, restored. Then evil energy radiated from Kalarel, restoring the bat and the Spawn. And the tentacles of the Thing advanced further as the Rift opened more. Z’alden extended his arms and a form of Bahamut appeared. The dragonform weakened the vampires even as it breathed on the wounded members of the group, restoring them. Z’alden continued to have a faint purple glow of enhanced healing powers, even as the dragonform dissipated. Despite this hope, the adventurers were not sure how this battle would turn out.
Kalarel continued to send necrotic energy at the group, wounding Felsmon and causing some of his scales to begin to peel off. The crossbow bolts of Z’alden could not hit the cultist in his circle of protection. The spells of Skamos and Tira seemed weaker as their energy went towards the slave of Orcus. The tentacles extended far beyond him now. No one in the group could reach him or seem to hurt, and he continued his attacks with impunity. The metal dog, teeth bared, bit into Barrick’s shield with no effect. “Nice doggy,” the brawny dwarf mocked. Then, seeing the ineffectual range attacks, Barrick did the unthinkable: he rushed towards the tentacles and toward Kalarel! Felsmon did the same, and slammed his magic sword Aecris into Kalarel, pulling him out of the circle. Wounded but unphased, Kalarel made it back into the protective glow.
Then, Barrick drove the toes of his new magic boots into the ground, ripping into the protective energy and shoved Kalarel out of the circle even as he dodged a tentacle.
Tira and Skamos turned their attentions to the vampire spawn, the dog, and the bats. Soon, the Warlock was gloating – dog down! bat down! The tide was turning.
As Kalarel tried to return again to the protective circle, the mighty dwarf swung his axe, cutting deeply in Kalarel. All of his companions marveled at the excellence of the swing. And then, they all marveled at something else. As Barrick, pulled the axe back, the dull, bloody blades fell off, as though made of paper, to reveal a shining, gleaming axehead. Barrick swung at Kalarel again and again with the enchanted weapon. “I love magic!” the dwarf exclaimed, as Kalarel staggered. As the tentacles of the Thing flailed at his armor, Felsmon’s grasped Aecris and ripped into the wounded Kalarel, sending healing energy to Barrick even as the sword crushed his foe. Kalarel was teetering from the onslaught of the warriors. Finally, Barrick tore the magic axe into the evil cultist, sending to him to his dark lord.
Soon, the last spawn was defeated. But, the black beams still grew strong, and the Thing began to push hard at the Rift. Four of the group worked together to topple the altar of bones. The Wizard put on ruby glasses that allowed him to read the evil ritual book and recite the ritual backwards. The beams weakened, and the Thing pulled back. Still, black energy still coursed from the stature of Orcus to the Rift. Guided by divine intuition, Z’alden attempted to heal the evil statue. Pieces of it fell off, wounding Z’alden. The beam weakened further but still it pulsed. Then, the adventurers found four eye hooks. The statue could be toppled with the loose chains hanging down the shaft. Quickly attaching them, Barrick pulled hard and soon the statue of Orcus was collapsed and destroyed. The beam shattered, and the tentacles of the Thing retreated back inside the rift.
At the north end of the chamber, the adventurers found a previously unnoticed pit. In the pit was chest of treasure and jewels, some strange magic items, and an elf , Ninaran’s brother Numien, imprisoned just as Ninaran had claimed. The group untied Ninaran and reunited her with her brother. The seven left the chamber into the outdoors through the lighted entrance.
The item was a box with colored sticks of several colors. Skamos could detect their magic qualities, chalk that would allow the artist’s picture to remain for many days. A wonderous item, indeed.
Treasure and magic items in hand, with Ninaran and Numien in tow, the five returned to their horses and rode slowly towards Winterhaven.