The End of the Matter (10th September 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter (NPC)
Vox – Magic User
Zuggtmoy's Realm - Courtesy of TSR/WotC
The Throne – Thunorsday 4th September (Day 91) – early afternoon
The knowledge of how to use the throne mechanism in the main Temple above ground thrust itself into Bow’s mind. Now he knew how it worked the party had a second means of entry to the interdicted area inhabited by the demon queen Zuggtmoy.
He led his companions back up to the dais and throne in the Temple above and then gave them full instructions on which tiles to press, in which order and details of the passwords required in order to work the mechanism. He could get down using the powers of the Golden Skull.
Just as the party were about to approach the dais, they were disturbed by the tramp of many feet at the far end of the nave. Suddenly, the whole of the here-to-for gloomy Temple lit up as bright as daylight and each party scrutinised the other; the adventurers recognised that it was the military force from Castleford led by Prince Thrommel, the baron Tancred, the lady Mathilde and the High Priest Ralph, accompanied by several of their associates and scores of men-at-arms. The military contingent also recognised the companions and each wished the other party good luck as they set about their tasks; the adventurers to dispel the demon queen and the Thuringians to conquer the rest of the dungeon complex in order to give them the opportunity to do so undisturbed.
The party arrived one at a time into a throne room very deep below the ground level. The dais upon which the throne sat was constructed from large, seamless slabs of sickly-coloured porphyry whilst the rest of the room was coated in layers of slimes and moulds. Bow tested them with a variety of materials and found that they seemed harmless in themselves but they were slippery, so dangerous under foot.
When the party were all down safely – it took several minutes for each person to be able to come down after the throne returned to its position in the upper Temple – they cautiously made their way to the large set of stairs to the west that led further down into the depths. Their torches and lanterns lit the way through the maze of slime and mould trails but as they approached closer to the stairwell they could see a dim light source emanating from the bottom of the stairs.
The party split up with half moving across the throne room towards the doors on the opposite side of the room led by Tarquin, whilst the rest descended part-way down the stairs. Those that went down the stairs could make out in the half-light from the fluorescent moulds growing on the walls three columns of precious metal that rose to the ceiling, topped with the visage of a demon; one each of gold, silver and copper. The rest of the chamber expanded about halfway along its length to incorporate a large, round dark pit in the centre, and it culminated with a wall faced with a heavy dark purple drape with a very large gem-encrusted throne before it upon which was seated a black-hooded figure; they couldn’t tell whether it was a very small person on a normal sized throne or a normal sized person on a very large throne- their perspective was out by the juxtaposition. They decided to back up and follow their companions through the door on the southern side of the chamber to see if it would lead round the back of the throne and thus give them more of an element of surprise.
The party followed Tarquin through the more westerly of the two wooden doors (some members of the party could not move to within twenty feet of the central magically locked and shielded double valves – the same Antipathy spell affected this side of the doors too) and entered a small chamber that had a black wooden throne butted up against the eastern wall which looked directly down the western corridor opposite. Other than some ghastly murals painted on the walls, there was nothing else in the chamber.
As there was nothing of interest other than the black wooden throne, which Tarquin said to avoid, the party advanced past the murals and into the corridor beyond. Tarquin led the small band of adventurers into a second chamber beyond which had the same ghastly murals of moulds and fungi being ordered to carry out unspeakable acts upon innocent humans whilst demonic looking people looked on.
Unfortunately, the fighter’s attention was on the wall-paintings, and as he stepped into the chamber, the four suits of armour, set two on each of the north and south walls, came to life. In his haste to move into combat, he pointed his Wand of Wonder at the animated armour and spoke the trigger word. The room filled with flame as a Fireball ripped through it, but luckily only Tarquin and Bow from the party were in range and were the only ones slightly injured. The animated suits of armour seemed to bear no damage other than minor scorch marks.
The adventurers took the fight to the animations whilst Vox, who had cast a Flying spell upon himself, explored the main arrival room without having to touch the floor. After a while he got bored and decided to join the rest in the fight that he could hear emanating from the distant room. As he passed the entrance to the stairwell down to the pillared throne room he heard a cackle of laughter. He decided that as the fighters would most likely have everything under control in the fight, he would head back to the stairs down to see where the laughter came from. As he reached the top of the flight of stairs, he saw a bright, sickly purple light suddenly shine forth from deep within the room.
The party, however, were getting the worst in the fight and Tarquin had been seriously injured, so they decided to fight a retreating battle back out of the room. Tarquin went against his previous wary thoughts on the black wooden throne, and sat upon it in the hope that perhaps he could command the animated armour. Alas, this ruse did not work and they attacked him whilst he sat there none-the-less.
The party managed to escape the black wooden throne room and slammed the door upon their exit. They headed back across the slime covered floor to the stairs down where they joined their companions Vox and Johan, who had been first to leave the room in support of the mage.
The Three Pillars
Vox headed down the stairs still in Fly mode but his covetous thoughts betrayed him. A voice in his head said that if he wanted to take the copper pillar he could. He was sorely tempted to take the pillar but decided after a long pause to advance to the edge of the brightly glowing pillar of sickly purple light that now stretched from ceiling to floor from the central pit and lit the entire room to see what he could now see beyond it.
The party slowly filtered into the room but nothing seemed to change – the hunched figure still sat upon the large throne and the bright purple light neither dimmed nor grew in intensity. Eventually the whole party had moved up into a position where they could all see the throne and the person upon it. Tarquin touched the copper pillar on his way past and he too was asked within his head whether he wished to take it. He ignored the voice and the impulse to seek a way of moving the obviously extremely heavy pillar of solid metal.
The Ritual Begins
Vox, Max and Cormac advanced upon the dais to attack the black-cowled figure whilst Bow moved into direct viewing range of the throne. He set up the Golden Skull and readied the Sword of Solitude for the ritual whilst Johan drew a chalk circle and a variety of holy symbols around him on the floor of the throne room and then cast a Protection from Evil spell on the holy space. Tarquin and Theoderic took up positions in order to aid either group of their companions or defend them from any summoned minions that the demon queen may deign to conjure from the Abyss.
As the small party approached the throne they were all offered the precious metal pillars as an attempt to appeal to their greed but all of the party ignored the enticement; their goal was to call out the demoness and cast her back to her own realm. Seeing that her enticements were being ignored, the black-robed crone then changed tack. She tried a bit of reverse psychology and warned them not to take the jewels from the throne and then began to fiddle with some of the jewels encrusted upon the arms of the throne.
Bow had not started his ritual just yet, as he wondered what the black-robed figure was up to. He fired a single silver tipped arrow in her direction but it missed her and skittered away after hitting the back of the throne. He then began the ritual. At the same time, Vox cast a Lightning Bolt from his circlet, and Cormac also added a strike with his trusty sword. The magical attack managed to hit the figure upon the throne and then rebounded off the stone work to hit her again.
The old crone howled with rage but carried on threatening that no-one would get her treasures and fiddled more with the jewels upon the arms of the throne. She got herself worked up into a berserk frenzy and after just a few more moments of fiddling with the jewels encrusted upon the arms of the throne a variety of different coloured lights shot forth and struck the ceiling and floor of the chamber, blasting holes where it hit. One such beam though, reflected off a particular surface in the eaves and it rebounded to hit the crone and turn her into a pile of ash.
Johan saw all of this and reacted as if he knew what was due to happen next. He lit his Candle of Invocation and was lucky to Gate in a Valkyrie; exactly what he wanted to enable him to protect Bow whilst he conducted the ritual. Just as the Valkyrie appeared, a Babau demon also appeared right in front of the chooser of the slain. The demon then summoned another of its kind from the Abyss and the two denizens of the Void took up fighting the Valkyrie.
At much the same moment, the demoness herself appeared on the throne in all her tentacled and hideous glory and began to attack her assailants. She magically teleported most of the party back into the original throne room but Vox and Cormac stubbornly avoided the magical command. Bow was most annoyed as he had completed just over half of the ritual and would need to get back in place to complete it. What would the demoness do in the meantime to hinder their progress?
As the rest of the party rushed back into the fray, Vox and Cormac put up a brave fight against the demon queen whilst the Valkyrie held her own against the two Babau demons. Zuggtmoy summoned three strange looking mould creatures to her side, and they slowly advanced upon Bow’s vacated position but they were not quick enough to make it before the ranger could begin the ritual again.
The demon queen, annoyed that Vox had hit her again with his Magic Missiles (although this time it was not damaging) used her telekinetic abilities to pull him out of the air and dashed him into the ground. The impact knocked him unconscious and he slowly slipped towards death.
Max managed to slow one of the Babau demons enough with a back stab so that the Valkyrie was able to finish it off with her next blow. Cormac still hacked away at the demoness whilst Johan and Theoderic helped the Valkyrie against the remaining demon and prepared to defend Bow against the mould creatures.
Max then turned his attention to the demon queen to aid Cormac whilst Bow finally completed the ritual. A scream rent the air as a magical pull dragged Zuggtmoy and her remaining minions towards the glowing column of sickly purple light; the gateway to her realm. Unfortunately this magical draw also pulled half the party towards it too, but luckily there was someone close enough to each of those drawn thither to prevent them from being dragged to the netherworlds. Vox was moved to safety by the Valkyrie as a final act before she returned Valhalla.
When Zuggtmoy crossed into the purple light she let out a final scream of defiance and then the gateway shut. Everyone in the chamber was left temporarily blinded due to the brightness suddenly disappearing, but Johan was able to crawl to Vox just in time to administer a few Healing spells to arrest the mage’s descent into death.
Bow looked around for the Golden Skull and the Sword of Solitude, but these had also disappeared. Max advanced upon the throne to begin prising out the gems but Johan warned him that for every jewel prised out, a demon would be summoned. He said that this was best left to those with the knowledge of how to deal with such artefacts.