Celysion - The Looming Darkness
Episode 15 - Demons and the Vanishing of the Swordmage
Tylor (DM & Tsuki)
It was a bittersweet success to have arrived at the further end of the underground labyrinth. The twists and turns of the ancient walls were beginning to fatigue their sanity. Coupled with the overwhelming silence, and the periodic bursts of unrecognizable sound, low rumbles, and guttural echoes, were bringing chills to the heroes’ skin, despite the dense humidity. Seeing the large, black-scaled lizardfolk just yards ahead going down the large staircase brought back a sense of urgency. There, amidst these ruins built by a psychotic Arkhosian empire leader, there in front of the adventurers was a present foe. One could see the fear in the faces of the large Blackscales as they set their eyes upon The Shadow Slayers. Since the first day these beasts encountered The Shadow Slayers in the Dreadwater swamps, their tribe has never known fear such as they are able to instill in them. And yet this time, there seemed to be a hint of defiance in their glare. Perhaps these apparently powerful foes feel safe being in a temple dedicated to their deity. The walls of the Ziggurat are corrupted with darkness, evil, and instability. And while the Blackscales have sought after these attributes themselves, one gets the feeling that they are but a childish attempt at the true practices of The Chained God. What Arken knows of the deity of light has given him some insight into this being of darkness. What Pelor is in goodness, light, and order…Tharizdun is in abomination, void, and chaos. The powers of He Who is Bound are not so much an offensive, grotesque evil… but rather, they are the chaotic, borderless atrocities of a brilliant but unstable mind. Tharizdun seeks not destruction, but annihilation. Desecration over rebellion. Obliteration over power.
At the base of the long staircase was a small landing. There were two heavy iron doors. A carved and ornate emblem is carved into the door, although it has no distinguishable form. The two handles prepared to pull open the door, are made out of deteriorated tiefling spines, reinforced with steel. When the group quickly reached the platform after the lizardfolk had shut the doors, they realized that all humidity had ceased. They felt nothing but cold. And from the other side of the door were the horrific sounds of the lizardfolk meeting their untimely and apparently painful end.
Sokuyo opened the door with caution and tossed in a Sun rod, to try and get a quick glimpse. The rod showed three apparent passageways leading into a larger room. Down the passageway in front of him lay the mangled, eviscerated, and shredded bodies of the Blackscales who had entered the chamber just moments before. He could see something moving on the edge of the light. The adventurers steeled themselves and then charged in after a small and slightly fearful debate. Quinn broke right and Sokuyo broke left down opposite passages, as the rest of the group prepared for a frontal assault. However, they traded caution for haste, and both Quinn and Sokuyo set of pressure plated traps beneath their feet. Our quick adventurers were too skilled for even the ancient foresight of a crazed Arkhosian Lord. Blades sprang out of both sides of the hallways they were traveling down, seeking to dice and impale them, but they were too quick. They dodged each of the blades, and contorted their bodies so as to be pinned between the blades without being harmed.
A dark, wicked looking creature flying about 30 feet away fired a shadowy bolt of chaos towards Trel which wrapped around his neck and burst in a violent yank. At the same time several Brutish looking, red-skinned, demon creatures appeared. These Evistro Demons struck out with their claws and fangs ferociously at the heroes. Nobby, who had entered the room with an extreme cloak of stealth was able to remain hidden from sight for the entirety of the battle. He quickly darted left towards Sokuyo and made a quick inspection of the trap, deactivating it with a hidden lever. He then darted across to the right hall and with a flick of his wrist freed Quinn from the blade trap. He then made for the left side of the room, using his small stature and quick thinking to remain out of sight from the Evistro Demons waiting around the corner.
In a matter of seconds the battle shifted into two divisions. Quinn and Sokuyo were fighting with several demons on the right side of the room, while Nobby decimated those on the left, all while hiding. Trel stayed in the middle of the room firing psionic energies in all directions. Arken broke left and assisted Nobby for a moment. The room contained three peculiar locations of swirling grayish mist that Quinn deduced were partial rift openings that could be used to teleport around the room. Arken misunderstood, believing they would empower him and he dove headlong into one, only to suddenly materialize on the right side of the room next to Quinn and Sokuyo. A few moments later he dove back through and ended on the left side of the room.
After downing one of the demons, Quinn made a decision that perhaps felt tactical to him, but Sokuyo thought was a weakness in his reasoning. Quinn teleported through the rift following his friend Arken, leaving Sokuyo alone. Trel who had been injured during battle quickly ran back to the entrance of the room. A few vicious claws later, Sokuyo fell to the ground bleeding and unconscious, but let out a yell. The demons who were being massacred by Nobby soon began to flee, but after Sokuyo’s fall the returned with gusto. Arken began burning the ground beneath them with Radiant light. Trel, despite his better judgment returned to the portion of the room he had just left. Seeing his friend on the ground bleeding, he heroically pulled a potion from within his robes and administered it to the dying Sokuyo. A few intense seconds later the demons had been felled, and the battle ceased.
The group panting and bleeding regrouped to one another, tending to their wounds. Wondering what the hell had just happened, what sort of dark evil was at work in these lower levels of the Ziggurat, they had to make some decisions on how to proceed. Reasoning that they would certainly need to rest and get nourishment before continuing on, they needed to find a way to camp. Quinn theorized that he and Trel would be able to channel arcane power into the three rifts in this cold dungeon, fusing them together and create a sort of portal to outside of the Ziggurat. The others rested and searched the room, gathering a few coins off the Blackscales bodies. Quinn and Trel worked on channeling their energies for the next half hour. Towards the end of the arcanic work, when the three rifts had been fused, Quinn exerted all his energies to complete the portal, and grant the group safe passage to a camping spot.
This is when an event happened to alter the permanent history of The Shadow Slayers. The violent fury of these unknown forces that Quinn and Trel were meddling with overcame Quinn’s powers. Suddenly he was sucked into the rift against his will and disappeared from sight of the party. Trel let out a scream after his brother trying to quickly grab him but missed. For a few agonizing moments nothing happened, and after a long time had passed Quinn did not return. The group, frantic, began debating what to do.
“I’m not leaving him, we must go in after him,” Trel demanded.
“Aye, Quinn may be in trouble…I’m with Trel,” Arken concurred.
“We mustn’t be so haste to jump in after him. Perhaps all of our lives will be jeopardy. We know not where this rift leads, and it’s no use giving up all of our lives. Let us set up a defensive camp here and see if Quinn returns to us sometime during our rest,” Sokuyo reasoned with the others. Nobby was busy fiddling with the new shackles he pulled from the fallen Blackscales. When the party was in agreement to camp and wait for Quinn’s return, Nobby set to work securing the two iron portcullis’ at the further end of the room. He then reset the traps so if any intruders entered from the north, they would be warned. After choosing watches over the rift, they began their rest.
During the 3rd watch, while the others were sound asleep, Arken sat pounding his hammer against his hand and keeping a drowsy eye on the two iron-barred doorways. Unbeknownst to him, an intruder had infiltrated and picked Nobby’s lock without him ever noticing. The intruder found Nobby huddled in the corner, attempting to sleep under his best disguises. She was a extraordinarily beautiful Eladrin woman with silky bluish hair. She wore a covering over her face, and was donning dark tight clothing. She held a blade to Nobby’s neck and roused him from sleep.
“What business does a son of the Father have in this crypt so far away from home?” she demanded in a quiet but forceful voice. Nobby, waking startled, realized this stealthy woman was making a reference to Nobby’s gang, The Family, back in Vandromar.
“Who are you and how did you get in here?” Nobby responds keeping his voice low. The Eladrin woman’s eyes, startlingly beautiful above her face covering, squint at such a response. Her eyes then bended with a furious frustration.
“You of all people know the etiquette of interrogation, and as I’m the one holding the blade, my question is the one that will be answered first.”
“We have been sent here in search of someone.” Nobby conceded.
“What business have you with Selyth?” continues the mysterious woman.
“Selyth? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Nobby’s face was scrunched up at the sound of that name, the other half laying lazily unattended as usual. The woman then yanked Nobby from his sleeping quarters and escorted him at knife-point towards where Arken sat on watch. Speaking from the shadows she startled the dwarf,
“Make one rash decision and your friend dies.” Arken spun around weapon in hand, appalled that he was hearing such a statement. Seeing Nobby held captive, he let out a small disgruntled sigh,
“That halflin’ and I aren’ friends,” and his mustache and beard moved a little from his warm breath in the cold dungeon. Right then Nobby attempted to stealthily nick himself with his dislocation dagger, but his captor caught him and seized the dagger from his hands.
“What has brought your party here in search of Selyth?” The woman asks. After a moment of silence from Arken the woman attempted to expedite her answers,
“I don’t have time for games!”
It was much too early in the morning for Arken to waste breath and time trying to convince an Eladrin of his motives, especially for the sake of Nobby’s life. Arken quickly raised his hand and blasted a powerful ray of Pelor’s light toward the Eladrin, searing her hand and flesh holding the dagger. Dropping the weapon she let out a scream. Nobby dove for the shadows, and the Eladrin woman disappeared into the darkness. Trel and Sokuyo were now risen at the commotion and came out demanding of Arken what had happened. He explained the situation and they waited, Nobby cutting off one of the exits. A few moments later the beautiful woman appeared on the other side of the room holding her dagger out in parlay,
“I mean no harm, but I’ve had to be careful traveling in this defiled crypt in search for my target.” She explained.
“No harm?! You just had Nobby at knife-point!” rebutted Arken.
“Yes well, he comes from a band of thieves that is run by children. If you knew even in the slightest the way that those infants handle themselves in the great city of Vandromar then…” she criticized.
“WE know exactly the things Nobby has done.” Arken interrupted, “explain yerself!”
“My name is Tsuki. I possess a particular set of skills that many find valuable, and so I have been hired by the Church of Pelor to search for a lost band of their followers. My investigations have led me to this lizardfolk man named Selyth. He is involved in some strange rites within this Ziggurat, and I must question him. But I have been unable to get through a passage way further down. I heard the commotion you caused hours ago so I came back, and then I saw this disgrace of a rogue lying on the floor. You see, I originated with the Valtrecci Blades, the only gang worth mentioning in Vandromar. After a time my skills exceeded their opportunities and I ventured out on my own. What have you in this crypt?”
“We search for a hidden relic, and we know nothing of this Selyth” Trel spoke for the first time.
“Perhaps our goals have aligned for a time. I have been unable to decipher the illusions that have been placed on this dungeon by the ancient magicians…if you will but help me proceed and find Selyth, then perhaps I can be a lending blade to find your relic.”
“We must wait here. One of our party has been sucked into this rift, and we are awaiting his return. I will not leave him.” Trel responded.
“Nor I!” spoke Arken.
“You must be foolish. The cleverness of these old magicians is great. You can’t wait here longer, for I have seen the monstrosities that infest this Ziggurat. Your lives will all be forfeited if you do so. Honor your comrade by moving onward and completing your task. If he is meant to return, he will.” Tsuki reasoned.
The party was divided in their decisions. But after some deliberation they decided it best to move forward and recover the artifact, and then return for Quinn. After a few more hours of rest they readied themselves and headed through the portcullis. Several rocky formations staggered from the hall way, and malicious blades stood fixated.
Several sharp yards later the jagged tunnel opened to a narrow room with a vaulted ceiling. The only two distinguishing features of this room other than the high ceiling were a double doorway and across from the doorway was a massive statue made out of dark black stone. The statue was a disturbing bust of Pelor. A carving of Pelor’s head hanged upside down, the entirety of his head about the size of a Blackscale bruiser. Where his eyes should have been were jutting blades of black stone, and symbolized puss pockets. Upon closer inspection, they saw that his head was hanging by a chain with manacles on the end, fastened around his neck.
Trel then walked between the statue and the doorway, and the room was silent except for his echoing footsteps. Suddenly a rush like wind funneled from the doors. Before them materialized three hazy bluish Dragonborn figures. Their demeanor was decrepit and decayed. Their large hands seemed to be restrained behind them as if they were trying to escape whatever was behind the doorway. Their eyeballs were pure white but they seemed to be staring straight through Trel. The one to the left spoke, and with every word, a scream seemed to echo just behind his voice.
“There is no straight course to the hearts of Anathema. The King of the Slaughter was only a minion and servant in his mad purposes. Only misery awaits. Turn back, turn back. Ours souls are tortured and imprisoned, but if there is any power left in us, we will not let you continue onward. Save yourselves. Flee.”
“Good spirits, we seek only passage so that we may destroy the artifact that has done this to you,” Trel countered.
“You cannot defeat this evil. The experiments that were done on us at the time of our lives have caused us Eternal imprisonment and torture.”
“Well you best get out of our way, as we are moving through anyway,” Arken spouted as he severed one of the spiritual chains bound to the door and the third spirit vaporized.
“Back down you fiends! We are servants of The Chained God, and we command you to move aside so that we may pass through to our master!” Lied Nobby, conjuring the greatest ferocity he could. He terrified the ghosts and they fled back through the door way, removing their chains. Nobby picked the lock, and the group opened the door the cold room.
As he opened the doorway, he waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness beyond. However, that moment never came. But a minute amount of light was able to make its way into the room. At first the structure of the room made no sense. The walls were jagged, and unorganized. In the center of the room was a carved & jagged stone structure. On the portion of it facing the adventurers was a curved glass shield that had collected dust over the centuries. Inside was a swirling bluish gray mist, which seemed like it was pouring over a somewhat humanoid scaly figure. At the end of the stone structure was a large rectangular table with dusty vials, beakers, boxes, and various chemicals sitting untouched. There seemed to be a hanging darkness. As Trel levitated a sun rod into the room, all light from it was suppressed. He deduced a spell had been cast to remove most light, and so he took a moment and then was able to dispel it with the focuses of his mind.
The light from the sun rod burst forth showing a quick glimpse at the crazed room as they entered. The walls were so jagged only a psychotic mind could have designed them. A glowing red crystal in the center of the room spouted to life and burst flames towards Sokuyo and Trel but they quickly dodged them. Right then, three crypts opened next to the three glass panels, and out came three massive looking Dragonborn Gladiators. They had obviously been preserved somehow. They cracked their necks after their long slumber, and then took up their massive swords and rushed towards the adventurers!
Though they were outnumbered they hit with an intense fierceness. Arken’s shield could not stand the blows and he was knocked back and cut several times, taking severe wounds. Nobby destroyed the glass panels one by one. As the plasma like liquid spilled to the floor it instantly evaporated. And the trapped spirit in the liquid was released, clearly weakening their undead material counterparts. Though the gladiators struck hard with their weapons, they were no match for The Shadow Slayers. The slayers became unified and took down the enemies in quick time, Arken even causing them to flee for a time as he turned undead with his holy light. As their broken bodies fell to the floor, the heroes regrouped to plan their movement further into the Ziggurat.
XP Each: 1050 XP
-Evistro/Rift Walker/Wall Spikes: 2300 XP
-Great Role play with Quinn’s disappearance and Tsuki’s appearance: 500 XP
-Apparition Skill Challenge: 300 XP
-Dragonborn Gladiators and Ancient Experiments: 2150 XP
TOTAL: 5,250 XP
-100gp Red Gem
-2 Blackscales Shackles