Terror of Nagash
Episode 17 - Well of Demons, Part V
The Well of Demons – The Proving Grounds – The Inner Sanctum:
With the path to the inner sanctum cleared, the party decided to rest before advancing.
Strapping his shield to his arm and raising his axe in the air, Balomir boomed, “Right! Let’s dae this!” before charging forward into the misty hallway. A set of doors blocked his way but only for a moment as he kicked them wide open.
The doors opened into a chamber dominated by a leering idol depicting a howling minotaur warrior armed with a massive axe. Before the idol was an iron cauldron filled with bubbling liquid that gave off a thick mist. A short staircase lead to a raised area that overlooked the idol. Three more cauldrons were set on this upper area, along with a stone alter. To the east of the alter, a series of green, ghostly runes had been scribed into the floor.
A halfling stood within the glowing runes – Sting’s brother Eirich. He appeared to be in some kind of trance.
A gnoll with large bat wings and curved horns stood behind the alter. He grasped a rod in one hand and a sheaf of parchment in the other. A massive apelike demon stood beside him, while a small pack of carnage demons snarled at the party from atop the raised platform. Looming over all of them was a massive skeleton of a minotaur clutching a greataxe.
“Release the halfling, ya dog-faced bastard!” Balomir called out before charging at the winged beast.
With a shrill howl from the gnoll, the monsters moved to attack.
Barrelling through the carnage demons and pushing aside the massive bone crusher skeleton like it was made of paper, Balomir vaulted atop the raised platform, his axe cleaving into the gnoll warlock’s shoulder. Barking and shrieks of pain came from the foul creature’s mouth.
As the rest of the party advanced into the room, the bone crusher lashed out, striking Noluck with it’s massive axe and knocking the warrior to the ground.
“C’mon ya drunkard, get aff yer arse!” Balomir called down.
Still wincing in pain, Maldrake Scarmaker continued chanting his ritual. Now, the halfling’s skin seemed to be stretched thin, veins below the surface bulged and pulsed. Foolishly, the dog-beast attempted to blast Tempest with his cruel magics.
“Ha ha, not today, punk,” Balomir laughed as divine energies radiated down, engulfing the gnoll and searing his fur.
Noluck, getting back to his feet charged forward, driving his sword into the bone crusher.
Paelias hurled his dagger, striking the giant skeleton.
Tempest moved further into the room and engaged the carnage demons.
Woodie, raising her wand, blasted the bone crusher and one of the carnage demons with horrid whispers.
Calling on the power of Kord, Balomir unleashed divine energies on the bone crusher. The beast was wreathed in glowing white flames as it lurched upwards before crumbling to dust.
Turning his attention back to Maldrake, the dwarf lashed out with his axe again. A decorative splatter brightened the room as the beast’s arm was severed. Howls of pain echoed through the chamber.
Running forward, Paelias jumped up beside Maldrake and attempted to skewer him with his dagger. The thrust was brushed aside before the gnoll blasted the eladrin with his dire magics.
Moving toward the balgura, Noluck challenged “come and get it” before striking the beast with his sword.
Tempest continued his attacks on the carnage demons.
Woodie blasted the monsters with a repelling sphere.
Seeing his comrade battered and bruised, Balomir once again called on the powers of Kord, this time healing energies brought Paelias back from the brink of oblivion. “Take care laddie, I’ve got this bastard meself,” he called out before his axe savagely ripped into the gnoll’s side.
“Thanks, Balo. I owe you one,” the rogue replied before leaping down from the raised platform and hurling his dagger at the balgura.
With blood spraying from his snout, Maldrake continued chanting his foul incantations. “You can’t stop me, bark! bark! The ritual is almost complete, arf! bark! Once I take control of the temple away from the minotaurs, bark, my lord, Nagash, will become even more powerful! Bark! And once Paldemar brings back Kalarel, we will control the Spire! Bark! Bark!” The halfling’s body started convulsing.
“Woodie, can ye no see if yer magic kin put a stop tae this?” Balomir called out.
“That’s a great idea Balo, why didn’t I think of that?” the wizard replied before she started chanting words of power she learned years before in the arcane libraries of her people. The halfling’s convulsions ceased.
Trading blows with the balgura, Noluck was in rough shape and staggered.
Surrounded by carnage demons, Tempest appeared small and frail, his strength draining from his broad shoulders.
“By Kord, you’ll pay fer yer actions, foul beast,” Balomir called out before one last mighty swing of his axe cleaved through Maldrake’s skull. Before the corpse hit the ground, the dwarf warrior was leaping down from the platform, “Don’t worry lads, I’m on me way.”
Noluck’s sword struck the balgura again and again to little effect.
Tempest slashed and weaved through the carnage demons, his blade ineffective against the creatures.
Woodie continued chanting arcane words. The halfling’s skin seemed to recover it’s natural colour, the veins settling back down.
Paelias thrust out with his dagger, striking the balgura a glancing blow in the back.
“Ave I tae dae everythin meself?” Balomir called out before his axe ripped a massive wound in the balgura’s side. As the eviscerated creature’s life spilled to the floor, the beast screamed out in agony and collapsed in a heap.
“What ‘ave you lot bin up tae while I was trainin’ the hound?” Balomir asked as his axe swung wildly into the ranks of carnage demons.
And carnage it was as blood sprayed from the dwarf’s vicious blade. Howls of pain echoed through the chamber as limbs were severed, bones splintered and brains dashed. “Back tae the Abyss, evil spawn.” Balomir called out as he destroyed the last of the demons.
Standing in a sea of blood and gore, Balomir whispered thanks to Kord as his comrades gathered round him; “three cheers for Balomir…”
“Wha… what are yea daein ya big, blue, bastard?” the dwarf spoke in a groggy voice.
Shaking the paladin’s shoulder, “Wake up, my dwarven friend. We must find Maldrake and save Sting’s siblings,” Tempest spoke as the dwarf slowly came to his senses.
“Oh, aye, let’s dae this,” Balomir quietly spoke as he wiped the sleep from his eyes.
The Well of Demons – Return to the Seven-Pillared Hall:
With Maldrake’s ritual stopped, Sting’s brother slumped to the ground. Running to his side, Sting lifted his brother’s head in his hands, “Eirich, brother, you are safe now.”
Searching the gnoll warlock’s corpse, Paelias found a silver key and a cloak crafted by the elves. “I think this might come in handy,” the rogue whispered to himself as he slipped the finely crafted cloak around his shoulders.
After a short rest, Eirich was able to stand. “I’d love to take a longer nap but maybe not in here.”
“Come on, let’s head back to the Hall,” Tempest spoke.
Arriving back at the Seven-Pillared Hall, the party made their way directly to Rendil’s inn.
“Welcome back my friend’s,” came Rendil’s warm greeting, “ales and stew for everyone… including your new friend?” the halfling spoke while gesturing towards Eirich.
“Yes, please. I haven’t had a decent meal in weeks,” Eirich said as he made himself comfortable.
Before the rest of the party had a chance to join him, the mysterious, hooded woman, Tarina, stepped forward from the shadows at the back of the room.
“My friends, you have done well,” she started, “but we are not safe yet. Paldemar still works towards disrupting the balance of things. His ritual grows in strength. It is only a matter of time before he can bring Kalarel back from the darkness.”
“Is there nothing you can do?” asked Woodie.
“As an emissary of the Raven Queen, I cannot interfere with these things. I am not permitted to alter the balance. That is your job. You must stop his ritual.”
“Can we no have a wee rest before we tackle the bastard?” Balomir asked.
“Yeah, I could use a drink or four,” Noluck added.
“Yes, you can rest before you proceed to the Tower of Mysteries.” She responded. “You will need all your strength to defeat Paldemar.”
“I don’t want to leave my brother,” Sting spoke.
“You’re brother is safe now, master halfing,” Tarina spoke softly. “I will see that his wounds are tended to and that he gets some rest.”
“Rendil, what do you know of the Tower of Mysteries?” Tempest asked their host.
“Well, the name says a lot,” Rendil replied. “I know it’s not hard to find the entrance but getting in is the mystery. I can give you instructions where to find it if you like.”
“That would be good,” the blue warrior spoke.
“And what dae ye know aboot finding a good stable fer the thundertusk?” Balomir asked.
“Well, I know the old dwarven cleric, Ulthand Deepgem, used to have one as a pet. Maybe he can help you out,” the halfling replied.
“Very well. I’ll head o’re there as soon as I’m done wi’ this stew,” the dwarf said as he stuffed his face.
“Ahhh! Gurdis!!! Where didja find ‘er,” Ulthand yelled as he ran towards the dire boar before wrapping his brawny arms round the creature’s neck.
“She was doon in the Well ‘o Demons,” Balomir replied. “Some bloody gnolls were treatin’ er wi’ nae respect. I returned the favour an’ gave em what they deserved.”
“Thanks fer bringin er back tae me, brother,” the old dwarf spoke. “I’ll no let ‘er oot me sight agin.”
“Aye, nea bother. She’s a right fine beast, you take good care o’ her,” Balomir implored.
As Balomir turned to leave, Ulthand beckoned the paladin closer, “it’s nae much but here, take this wee stone as a token o’ ma appreciation fer takin’ good care o’ Gurdis when I thought I’d lost ‘er.”
As the two dwarves shook hands, Ulthand passed a small gemstone to Balomir.