Dakkon

Orcus's Labyrinth

In which the party remains a step behind

It becomes clear that we must take some rest if we’re to continue on, so we use the Exodus Knife to give ourselves a safe place to recover and hopefully begin to heal Jalmari.

We spend eight hours in the extradimensional space, recovering and resting. After eight hours, we find ourselves back in the cathedral and not completely in agreement about our next move. Jack is compelled to continue south towards the Darkspine, pulled in that direction to attempt a rescue of his sister Helena, but I’m less certain that this is what I want since Jalmari is very weak and in no condition to be anywhere near a battle. I’d like to make our way back to the portal and see him safely to Gloomwrought, where Addis assures me that his family would help Jalmari’s recovery process.

Jack has no patience for this, but I try to point out the very real problem with taking Jalmari with us: there’s nowhere to keep him safe, he’s too weak to fight or defend himself, and if something happens to us, he’ll die after we’ve just rescued him.

Addis interjects at this point and offers to help by recharging the Exodus Knife with the power surrounding us in the cathedral. This would give the knife the ability to be used again immediately, rather than forcing us to wait another 24 hours. This would mean 8 hours of safety within extradimensional space, a perfectly safe place for Jalmari to rest, but it would also mean leaving him potentially unprotected if we’re not back in time. It’s for this reason that I’m still hesitant, but Jack’s concern for Helena wins the day and I reluctantly agree to allow Addis to recharge the knife. I put my foot down at the suggestion that we should carve the space in the cathedral, though; instead, I argue that he should travel with us until we reach the mountains and create the space there. This would allow us to protect him while we travel and only use the knife at the last minute, thereby guaranteeing him as much time in the space as we can provide.

This decided, we look to Addis, who looks nervous but is concentrating. He holds his arms down and his muscles flex and his teeth grit, his whole body straining. He asks for the knife, which I hand over, and the energy that he has pulled from the room and into himself flows into the knife.

That task accomplished, I put the knife away and we get down the business of how to transport Jalmari with us. He is not strong enough to walk on his own—especially given the uncomfortable heat outside, the concentration that walking through the cinderstorm requires, and the sheer distance we must cover. After some discussion, Aideena is able to conjure a floating disc that can easily handle his weight and move with us as we travel. To make sure that he doesn’t fall off, we secure him to the disc and begin our walk through the plains to the south of the cathedral, the dark mountains on the horizon growing ever larger as we proceed.

The journey is largely uneventful, though Targoth is hit once by the cinderstorm and there’s a near miss with Aideena and Jalmari.

After about four hours of traveling, we reach the Darkspine. We see a series of caverns at the base of a volcano and, as we approach, we notice a door which bars the entrance to the caverns, with a horrid face and eyes that follow us as we move. I turn to Addis and hand him the exodus knife, asking him to stay with Jalmari in the extradimensional space. He uses the knife to open the space. When it’s open, I go through my pack and come up with some rations and water for the two of them, which I hand over to Addis. Then I turn to Jalmari.

“Thank you,” he says, his voice still weak.

“Stay safe,” I tell him, staring intently.

He nods. “I will.”

Addis hands me the knife back and helps Jalmari off the disc and into the space. With one final look at them, I close the space behind them and turn to the rest of the party.

We focus on the door.

Aideena inspects it and feels a demonic tinge to the arcane energy that is engulfing it. There are runes in a script that most of us don’t recognize, though apparently Aideena does. She indicates that there should be a key word or phrase that is going to open the door and then says something in a language that I don’t understand.

At the sound of her voice, the eyes in the door focus on her and spits acid at us. Luckily, we manage to dodge out of the way before being hit.

We take a closer look at the door and see that there are runes along it. The runes are a list of demon names, but Aideena notices that one—the lord of the 9 hells—is missing. Eben notices this, too, and he also knows that the one missing is the greatest nemesis of the Raven Queen.

Orcus.

When Eben says the name aloud, the eyes in the door swivel to him. Aideena, since she speaks abyssal, says the name in that language. At this, the eyes close and the door opens.

Beyond the door is a long, wide stone corridor. It continues beyond the vision of those present, including those who have darkvision. From what I can see, there aren’t any traps.

To help those who don’t have darkvision, Aideena creates some motes of light that float a little ways down the passage.

The sense of the corridor is the same as the door we’ve just opened—mostly arcane magic with a hint of the demonic.

As we look down the corridor, there are two things that draw my attention: 2 skulls that sit at the top of two columns at the far end of the corridor, and then a small shadow near the ground 20 feet from the skulls. There’s a reflected light about a foot from the ground and I recognize it as a trip wire. We figure that the skulls are either surveillance or weapons and they sit about 11 to 12 feet off the ground.

Jack, being Jack, advances down the corridor and steps over the first trip wire, only noticing at the last minute that there’s a second. One skull stares at him and Jack feels a burning in his chest and is pulled forward towards the second trip wire. Jack is hit and pulled forward all the way down the corridor. From our end of the corridor, we see something open and pour acid on the floor, which then begins filling the corridor. The rest of us rush forward and are attacked by the skulls. We manage to defeat them fairly quickly and get out of the corridor.

Targoth leads us into the next corridor, which opens into an antechamber. There are three different doors we can choose from, and Jack decides to head to our right. Neither Targoth nor Aideena sense any arcane traps, and Jack doesn’t see any mundane traps. The door, however, is locked. It appears to require a password to open, and Aideena joins us to look closer at the door. She tries saying Orcus in abyssal, but nothing happens.

Eben looks at the door and feels that it is sealed by the demons opposed to the Raven Queen. He’s confident in his ability to counter whatever they’ve done to the door, so he kneels in front of it and—with Jack placing a raven feather against the door—he says a common incantation to the Raven Queen. His implements glow, as does the door, and then it clicks and begins to open. Eben thanks the Raven Queen as Jack and I walk through the door.

We see something floating in the air and it’s not until we inhale that we realize it’s death mold. As we look closer, we can see the mold creeping down the walls. Targoth sticks his head in and blows his dragon breath; the motes in the air fall to the ground, frozen.

In the room, there are a couple of chests, but only one draws our attention. I try to sense if there is any arcane energy, but fail utterly and decide to just open and lift the lid. Within, there are gems as well as a ring with a blade on it, 2 silver keys, and approximately 20,000 gp.

Also in the chest is a stack of raiments, which are sky blue and silver. They’re very old and covered in brown stains; some of them have been so badly singed that they’re little more than useless rags, while others are in slightly better shape. All of them have dragons on them. I ask Targoth if he recognizes them. He’s able to identify them as Arkhosian. In amongst the clothes is a sky blue scabbard, which Targoth takes and keeps.

The other crates have nothing of real use.

When we exit the room, I give the ring to Eben and he recognizes it as a war ring.

None of us know what the keys are for, but we hold onto them just in case. We then move over to the door on the left side, which Jack checks for traps.

Aideena tries to sense anything from the door, but doesn’t sense any arcane energy. Eben senses no religion, either, so Jack opens the door and we find another large room. In the center is a strange rune on the ground and hovering above it is a strange blackness.

Around the room are some crystals, but there’s no time to inspect them as we’re attacked by a few demons and what looks to be a bat lady. As we battle, I get too close to one of the crystals and get sucked into it. From inside the crystal, I’m able to see the battlefield in a fractured, disorienting sort of way; this allows me to realize that I can see out of most of the crystals. I manage to get out and we continue fighting, eventually defeating the succubi and banishing the last demon. Eben destroys the abyssal breach and everyone who had been sucked into the crystals is restored to the room.

After the fight, we move into a treasure room. Initially, Jack and I don’t find anything of value, but Aideena sees a hat and a ring and picks them up. We also eventually find 6000 gp in platinum. The hat she gives to Jack and the ring goes to me. The hat is a hat of disguise and the ring is a ring of forgetful touch. Aideena initially tries the ring herself and she gets the sense that the ring will allow memories to be changed and/or forgotten. The rest of the contents of the room are barrels of pitch.

We head back into the antechamber and go through the door that leads forward. We head down a corridor that opens up to a cliff with a bridge over it. The bridge leads directly to a set of doors that are open. We aren’t really able to see or hear anything that is happening in the room beyond the bridge.

As we move close to the bridge, Aideena especially notes that it seems to be shimmering. And also that our proximity to the bridge is making it appear weaker. She points this out to us and we all move back and let Aideena go first since she can teleport.

She steps out onto the bridge and gets halfway across it when a mist flies up from the abyss and gets into her nose. It makes her dizzy, but she is able to breathe the mist out and hold her breath. She warns us to hold our breath when we try to head across the bridge. She then fey steps back to our side of the abyss since the doors are open and there are enemies waiting for us. Before she fey steps she hears ritualistic chanting in abyssal.

Jack heads across the bridge, but unlike with Aideena, the mist affects him, driving him temporarily insane, which causes him to charge back to our side and begin attacking me. He luckily misses me, but I decide to make my way across the bridge by running and jumping to the other side. As soon as I land, I get attacked. Jack comes running across next, followed by Targoth. Eben almost falls into the abyss, but Aideena teleports him the rest of the way and completely into the room. Once in, he feels a powerful compulsion to rip gems from the altar in the room.

Writhing tentacles reach for me and Targoth while Aideena makes her way across the bridge. She tries to talk Eben out of his fixation by the altar, which almost works, but Eben is still fixated. Aideena, too, becomes fixated on getting gems from the altar for a brief moment, but breaks out of it quickly and tries to destroy the altar. Eben takes a few moments longer, but he too breaks free from the illusion and is very upset. Aideena destroys the altar and hurts the two remaining demons.

Jack and Targoth finish them off and we see two identical doors at either end of the room. Targoth opens the left door and I open the right. In the room that Targoth reveals is a fresco and a treasure chest. In the room behind the door I open is nothing of interest except for a freaky looking door at the other end.

Targoth and Jack notice that there are 4 tiles that look like pressure plates which are in front of a treasure chest. In the room there is a ghostly mist that resolves into tentacles. These tentacles creep towards Jack and Targoth before attacking them, but they are able to dodge out of the way and then move toward the chest. Jack opens it and Targoth joins him, finding a cloak of translocation for Aideena and a dark green triangular object that feels demonic.

Meanwhile, Aideena joins me and we both inspect the door at the far end of the room. Beyond the door, I can hear voices in abyssal which don’t make sense to me but Aideena hears them too. She can tell that the voices are talking about someone and, from context, believes that it’s Helena.

A closer look at the door shows an ugly face similar to the one that led into the labyrinth. There is a tooth missing in the mouth and a hole in each nostril. I move closer and decide to put the two silver keys into the nostril. When I put the first in, my hand gets caught and I’m attacked by the door and held. My hand and the key are rejected. Targoth and Jack join us with the dark green triangular object which proves to be the missing tooth. Once this is put into the mouth, the door swings open.

Jack peeks inside and sees what he came for: Helena. She is physically unbound but her head hangs down and she appears unable to move. She’s surrounded by stone that looks dark and wet. Beyond the stones immediately surrounding her are some demons and other stones that glow and look like lava. There are also a couple of huge demons guarding the entrance to the room.

Jack rushes in and the rest of us follow. Aideena snarls at our enemies in abyssal, and Jack yells. This causes Helena to lift her head and she screams, “Fritz, get out of here!” She also warns us that this is a trap, but that doesn’t prevent us from continuing to battle to rescue her.

At one point, Aideena whispers to Jack and he responds. None of us can hear what is said, but Jack suddenly appears near to Helena. Helena warns him not to touch her bindings, but he ignores her. When his hands make contact with it, he vanishes. One of the demons places a hand on Helena and she also vanishes.

The demon tells the rest of us that, “No one shall have her.”

The rest of us defeat the demons, but as the last one explodes, the devil tells us that this is just the beginning.

We all vanish and reappear in different places. Aideena, Targoth and I appear in an archipelago that is floating in space, the islands ripped from time. On the largest island in the middle of the group, there is a large design of some kind and runes surrounding it. None of us recognize the script. Eben, Jack, and Helena are nowhere to be found, but we have little time to contemplate this or our surroundings before we are attacked.

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