The Road to Hell

Chaos, unpredictable Chaos
Decadre, 2nd Clerk day (Taker's Day)

When they woke up, Fox went to the Hive Ward to scout out the location described on the note they had received. Meanwhile, Kamau visited the Armory once more, only this time he utilized his brand new Taker membership, claiming he had arrived to collect taxes, in order to cut through the crowd. To his disappointment, the Sinkers randomly distributed a single weapon to everybody, certainly of good craftsmanship, but nothing special and certainly not magical. Therefore, he demanded to see Ely Cromlich who he convinced that, as an above-average warrior, he required a fitting weapon, one he was willing to pay. Playing on his hate of the Harmonium, he managed to convince him to buy a blade made out of Baatorian green steel. He was told that it would be forged in about ten days, but until then he had to give a downpayment of 2.000 gold coins and pay 3.000 more upon receiving it. Thus, he placed the order, left the advance coin and left to meet with Fox.

The meeting point was a house with several broken windows in the Hive Ward. The doorman, after being shown the red token stamped with a slaad, guided them to the back of the building and down a hole in the ground. In that underground hallway, they met several groups of various hirelings of every gender, race and class. Some small talk later, they discovered that everyone had been invited in a similar manner to hear an offer of employment from a Xaositect high-up. Also, every group had a similar token, although colors and stamps varied.

Before long, a group of 15 Xaositects entered the room. Eleven of them were identical male githzerai, dressed alike. The rest included the plump aasimar that Kamau had met the previous night, a muscular blonde man, a towering human female and a bariaur. The latter introduced himself as Possel Peckich and adressed the crowd, while the aasimar passed around the people and gathered their tokens in a sack.

_"Factol Terrance of the Athar – gone. Factol Pentar of the Doomguard – gone. Indep high-ups Bria Tomay, Lethea and Lysander – gone. And our informers have heard of other Factols who haven’t seemed to be around during the last week or so, though that’s unconfirmed and denied by the rest of their flocks. You’ve probably seen those Eschaton berks out in the streets, proclaiming these are the end times. Well, we don’t know what’s happening. We just don’t want it to happen to us. And it won’t… One Factol is a sitting modron,. But eleven? With eleven, the promise of chaos will see us through. With eleven, the truth och chance will keep us safe.

While the real Karan spends the next few days in safety, these eleven decoys will roam The Cage in full public view to draw out those behind the – well, behind whatever’s happening. And that’s where you come in, friends; To make each look like the real one, they all must be guarded by a gang of capable bodyguards. It’d look too odd for a Factol to walk alone through Sigil at a time like this. Make it look good and you will be amply rewarded – coin, magic items, portal keys, information, whatever you want, we’ll get it for you"_

As he was talking, the aasimar had gathered all the tokens. Now the githzerai were drawing from the sack and as they announced their pick, a large image of it appeared above the heads of those it had been given to, a minor illusion used to match decoys with guards. The red token with the slaad was among those picked, actually by the eighth decoy. Once that was finished, Pekich resumed his speech.

“Eleven false ”/characters/karan" class=“wiki-content-link”>Karans. Eleven stalwart groups to defend them. Each party, step up and meet your assigned decoy, then escort him out into the city. Remember that he must be treated like the real one at all times, you never know who’s watching. Respect him and follow his wishes. Return here in three days’ time to claim your reward. And to any groups whose tokens weren’t drawn from the sack, sorry that you weren’t needed. As you leave, my assistants here will give you a little gift as compensation for your trouble."

The unmatched groups left indeed and the githzerai went to meet their groups. The one assigned to Fox and Kamau had a fake moustache and told them he was assigned to roam the Market Ward. However, once they hit the streets, he announced that he had changed his mind and wanted to walk around the Lady’s Ward instead. On the way he chatted with them to know them better, while pulling small pranks to people around him, such as giving wrong directions or baffling them with his chaospeak. Things got a little more serious when he stole an apple to give to a beggar, but his guards intervened and paid the angry merchant.

Once they were at the Lady’s Ward, they noticed several Harmonium patrols “questioning” people, especially those they deemed the wrong types. However, their escort suggested to stop for lunch at a popular place there, the Fortune’s Wheel. Upon entering, he basked at the glory of being recognized and bought drinks for everyone inside. While enjoying their lunch, they noticed Shemeska the Marauder with her tiefling guards sitting alone at one table. After eating, the decoy Karan decided that he wanted to spin the Fortune’s Wheel inside the establishment. He kept winning and winning, buying drinks for everyone around, until the staff politely but persisently asked them to leave.

During their stroll, they passed from the plaza outside the Prison, a place called Petitioners’ Square. Standing there on the gallows was Arwyl Swan’s Song and a few Mercykillers, with Duke Rowan Darkwood in the background. The paladin began a long speech about the faction’s purpose and the importance of justice, so Fox and Kamau shifted their attention to the crowd’s gossip. Nearby, a tiefling made a sarcastic comment about the Duke hiding behind the Red Death. A githyanki answered him, praising the Duke for his bravery to make a public appearance after receiving death threats from a barmy that had escaped from the Gatehouse, unlike his darling Alisohn Nilesia who didn’t show up for something that probably had to do with her own faction.

Meanwhile, Arwyl Swan’s Song announced that an “unfortunate incident” had shaken the Mercykillers to its core and caused the faction to splinter. More than 600 years ago, when the Lady of Pain had limited the number of factions allowed, the violent and brutal mercenaries who called themselves Sodkillers had joined with the noble Sons of Mercy to form the Mercykiller. Now the faction was breaking down those lines again. Denouncing the Sodkillers and Nilesia’s poisonous leadership, the paladin promised that the Sons of Mercy would uphold justice. After thanking Rowan Darkwood for his efforts to help the Sons establish themselves in these dark times, he announced that the Sons of Mercy would be reviewing over 1.000 cases of imprisoned people, releasing those who had been unjustly jailed. Furthermore, executions were held back indefinately and punishment would now be assigned to truly fit one’s crime. After finishing, he drew his sword and in a symbolic move cut the noose hanging from the gallows. The crowd exploded in a mix of cheers, booing and pleas to free a specific person, as the paladin and his team left to return to the Prison and begin the process they had announced.

The triad decided to retire for the night and think the events through. However, this was not meant to be. On their way to The Bounded Space, their escort tickled one of the boys that were lighting the street lights. In his surprise, they boy dropped his things on a nearby fence, which caught on fire that spread to the garden inside. Before there were even screams about a fire, a patrol of twelve Harmonium guards led by a lieutenant appeared, accusing the githzerai of arson. Despite Fox and Kamau’s complaints of it all being an accident, their escort surrendered and tried to calm everyone down. He was certain everything would clear out at the court, however he required that they notified Pekich of what had happened. Before he could finish his sentence, the guards slapped their planar mancatcher on him, obviously frustrated from trying to do all the process by the book.

Pekich would have to wait. Besides, the githzerai was just a decoy.

The gathering storm
Decadre, 2nd Guild day

Kamau woke up early in excitement and dragged a groggy Fox for breakfast. Passing in front of the reception desk, the young man working the shift handed them mail that had arrived for them. One piece of paper was a handwritten note from Alyah, in which she said that the Oarsman had burned to the ground and she was going to investigate. The other was a flyer from a bathhouse or spa called “The Other Place” and the final was a letter from Unthar that prompted them to speak their names out loud. So they did, and a magic mouth spell was activated, informing them that according to the Duke’s command, the faction would now accept Namers with only a basic background check to exclude spies. Since they had expressed their interest in joining, Unthar thought they would like to know.

Their early visit to the Armory was a disappointment, since the entrance was already crowded before the gates were opened, perhaps more crowded than the previous day even, since the word had spread around town. They walked on to the Barracks to ask about their gem reward. The gate guards stopped them and after transferring their question, responded that Tonat Shar had been extremely busy as of late but assured them that the matter would be taken care of within the next few days. Moving on through the Market Ward, they ran into Ghal in the Grand Bazaar, who told them of the last meeting at the Red Pony and how Fulgarn drew the ire of him and others, cutting the meeting short.

Next stop was the Hall of Records, where they met Unthar and signed up as members of the Fated. Afterwards, Fox withdrew to the Bounded Space to spend the day copying a spider climb spell to his spellbook, while Kamau decided to try and find a direct portal to Dis, his mind already on returning there. He returned to the Sill, the place where they had begun their journey to Baator. After apologizing to Cedlic Marr, the landowner, for his behavior the last time he was there, he asked her whether her establishment had portals to other parts of Baator. Although the answer was negative, she pointed him to the large green tower at the Bazaar, a shop called Tivvum’s Antiquities that sold portal keys. The ground floor was littered with barrels and cases full of bulk items and not a soul was around. Climbing the central spiral stairway, he ascended to the first floor. Although the scenery was similar, he had a chance to talk to the owner, an elderly tiefling who introduced herself as Lu. She couldn’t help him either, but told him of a woman called Lissandra the Gate-seeker who travelled around Sigil and recorded the locations and mechanisms of portals. Her method of operations didn’t provide her with a steady location where she could be found, but she often visited Tivvum’s Antiquities for work so Kamau left his contact information for when she returned.

Since he was in the neighborhood, he visited the tavern that Alyah had taken them two days ago in hopes of seeing her again. Instead, he met Elisa and Morgil, who invited him to their table. They seemed to be regulars and the reason, explained Elisa, was that Morgil was a Sensate and occasionally performed there as well. While they were chatting, a group of five hardheads in a nearby table were teasing an old man sitting alone. They identified him as a Sinker and called for his faction to “vacate the Armory and save them the trouble” as it would be shame “if the same thing that happened to Pentar happened to other Sinkers as well”. Before long, a bariaur and a tiefling dressed in the colours of the Free League stood up and challenged the hardheads. Kamau interfered and asked the Harmonium watchmen to take their attitude to another place, as four half-elves joined the fray. The hardhead in charge responded with an insult, sparking a brawl that left the tiefling, one half-elf and all the guards dead.

As he made his escape, Kamau was stopped by a plump aasimar. From his jumbled speech pattern, he could tell that he was a Xaositect. The aasimar praised his fighting skills and asked for his help, passing him something wrapped in a piece of paper before he left: Three gold coins, a red token stamped with the image of a slaad and directions to a place written on the paper. Of course, the words were not in the right order, so Kamau decided to call it a day, return to the Bounded Space and tell Fox of his day before sleeping.

Home... sweet home?
Decadre, 2nd week

Still upset with the failure of the town’s Ascension, Tonat Shar explained to Fox and Kamau that any issues concerning their involvement with Daneel would be buried, as long as they kept the latest events in Fortitude to themselves. With that, he demanded that they left for Sigil immediately, ensuring them that any loose ends, namely the gems they were supposed to receive in Ribcage, would be sorted out in a few days.

So, they returned to Sigil. By now it was already the second week of Decadre, the mid-winter month dedicated to the faction of the Doomguard. Ironically, their Factol had mysteriously disappeared a few days ago, something they blamed on the Harmonium. Picking up on the local news since they’d left, they heard that in response to accusations, the hardheads demanded that the Doomguard vacate the Armory and turn all weapons to Harmonium control, which of course they refused. To make matters worse, just the previous day before their return to the Cage, leaders of the Free League as well as several Anarchist cells also disappeared, a fact that sent faction members raging against “_the oppressive forces of the Harmonium_”. Just as they thought they had dealt a serious blow to the hardheads in Fortitude, they felt like they were back to square one. When they visited the Styx Oarsman to discover it closed and sealed, they thought whatever was going on would definitely get them involved.

They returned to the Bounded Space, left their gear and set out to the Hive and then Clerks’ Ward. On the way they met Alyah, who seemed very happy to see them again, since she was afraid they would never return from Baator. She took them to a tavern near the Civic Festhall, one with fine drinks and excellent musicians that was popular with the Sensates. There they briefly spoke about their adventure out of the Cage while Alyah told them of the latest news, the appearance of a group of street preachers and doomsayers called the Eschaton and of her suspicion that it was the Harmonium that was responsible for the shutdown of the Oarsman.

The next day, Fox stayed inside to copy the knock spell from a scroll to his spellbook. Kamau kept him company and slept until the afternoon, when he set out to visit the Red Pony. There he met Rakk, who told him that three more Factols had gone missing: Factol Darius of the Signers, Factol Ambar of the Godsmen and Factol Terrance of the Athar. The Athar loudly blamed the Signers and vengeful priests of Sigil, while the other two factions responded that their leaders had ascended. Because of all that, explained Rakk, the inter-faction Inner Circle that used to meet at the Red Pony was crumbling. Tensions were building, sportsmanship went down the drain and the fistfights got real.

When he got back on the streets, Kamau heard that the Sinkers had opened the Armory to the public and were distributing free weapons to anyone who would vow to use them against the Harmonium. Hoping to get one, he visited the Armory but the crowds were massive and the gates were soon shut for the night. Disappointed, he visited the Black Sail nearby for a drink. The place was without its usual Doomguard clientele, filled with all sorts of armed miscreants instead. After a small chat with the barman on recent events, he returned to the Bounded Space and went to sleep with the intention of waking up as early as possible to get to the Armory before they opened the gates once more.

Some people just want to watch the world burn...
No idea of date or time

Their plans were cut short when they woke up from the roar of the crowd outside and strong light coming through the shutters and curtains. Looking out from their room’s balcony, they saw the entire population of Fortitude marching in the most orderly fashion possible to the town’s square. Sensing that the ceremony of the Ascension had begun, Kamau put on his chain shirt armor, enjoying the cold feeling of the metal against his skin after all this time in Dis and rushed out as Fox followed. On a pyramid of white stone in the middle of the town square stood a brazier with a green flame in it. Standing in front of it was the paladin Daneel flanked by two elderly dwarves in ceremonial armor. He was holding Guardian on his left hand, as the right was still missing, a fact that didn’t seem to trouble anybody but Fox and Kamau.

“Beloved citizens of Fortitude!” began Daneel. “Truly on this day thou art blessed, for on this day shalt thou ascend into the land of perfection, the land of harmony, the land of all that is good – our most noble and rapturous Arcadia! I stand now before thee a humble servant, willing to lend my aid in ushering this city into a new age of amity, truth, and sun-kissed serenity. And now I beg of thee, good people: Lend me thy hearts – lend me thy minds – lend me thy bodies and thy spirits, and let the celestial hosts themselves weep from the glow of our assembled fellowship!”

The green flame behind Daneel grew taller. On the horizon beyond the city’s walls, the blurry forms of proud mountains and gigantic trees began to appear. As everyone was lost in the collective trance, Fox was the only one to see a red sparkle on the tip of the paladin’s blade, one that flew down to his forehead. Suddenly, his worry was gone. He knew Dispater had something in store that would prevent the town’s transition into Arcadia. Signalling to Kamau, they waited for the twist. Indeed, Daneel lowered his sword and assumed a more casual pose. “Know what lads, I think I’ve had a change o’ heart. What this town needs is a slap in the face” he said and swung his blade, taking off the head of the dwarf next to him. The crowd gasped in shock, while Fox and Kamau struggled to hold their smiles and excitement. Still riding the shockwave, Daneel stabbed the second dwarf and began laughing. “Oh I’m sorry” he said in a mocking voice. “Truth hurts, don’t it? Stick with me, I’ll show you the lies you’ve all been putting faith in. Ol’ Daneel’s gonna celebrate alright.”

As the second dwarf hit the ground, the green flame blazed and a group of celestials jumped out. However, the flame clinged onto their wings, setting them ablaze as soon as they were done with their entrance. They fell to the ground screaming, their voices creating a choir of horror as they mixed with Daneel’s hysterical laugh. “Thought you’d just march in and fix things, huh? Guess the truth makes you a little… hot under the wings. Useless hypocrites!” said the paladin as the archons and devas burned alive, then he jumped down behind the pyramid. With the stage empty, the crowd began to react. Fox checked the horizon, which was nothing but a blur of light. They were stuck between the planes and a riot was brewing.

Using the arrow of direction to locate Daneel, they looked to the pillar erected in the middle of the town. Normally, up there stood an orb that produced light and darkness for the town, but now flames were burning and the sound of people screaming could be heard. When they made it to the base of the tower, the arrow pointed to the graveyard. There they found the paladin walzing around as the noble heroes buried there were rising from their graves as skeletons and zombies. Calling to him, or whoever he was now, Fox and Kamau offered to help. With a smirk, he asked for the leader of the town to be brought before him. Indeed, they went to get Tonat Shar who followed them to the graveyard, but Daneel was gone again. Discreetly slipping away in the chaos, they let Shar and his men deal with the undead and set out to locate the paladin again. They found him behind some enraged men that were ripping out the tiles of the street while he was directing some others to destroy the flowerbeds. All around fistfights had broken out between the faithful and the disappointed. Fox and Kamau told him they would bring the town’s leader, but he had to stop running around. When he agreed, they went back to the graveyard and brought Shar to where they had last seen the paladin, who seemed lost and unable to resist arrest.

Daneel was led to a tiered pit called the Confessionate, formerly used by the locals to publically confess their sins and throw themselves at the mercy of the crowd. There he was charged of spilling innocent blood, committing evil and destructive acts, betraying the faction and preventing the ascension of Fortitude into Arcadia. Although he had only the faintest of memories and swore he was acting under the influence of something or someone controlling him, he assumed responsibility for his actions. Convicted after his confession, he was put to his knees and decapitated. Fox once again noticed the crimson light in the severed head’s eyes as it faded out. He was not sure, but he thought he saw the eyes of a man in the crowd lighting up with the same glow.

Escape, at last
No idea of date or time

When they woke up, their whole body ached from the uncomfortable ground. Thanking their rings of fire protection for allowing them even this little rest, they set on their way back to the city of Dis in order to find a portal to Fortitude or Sigil. By asking around, they managed to find a local drinking hole. What they were served burned their throats like the hottest spice, but the barman told them, after receiving a hefty sum, of course, that there was indeed a portal around that led to Fortitude, but its exact location, as well as passage allowance, involved the King, of whom he would say no more.

So, Fox and Kamau went out to the streets and began asking about the King. It was no surprise that minutes later, a group of armored thugs came to them and offered to take them to him. The King turned out to be a slender but muscular tiefling clad in black leather armor and stationed inside some warehouse, a setting that would very much fit the stereotypical leader of a thieves’ guild. Since he was controlling the market, they inquired about their employer’s intent to set up shop, which the King accepted, as long as they were willing to pay the standard fee of 500 gold coins and a 60% share of the profits. Negotiating on his terms, they were able to try out the balance between those two numbers, but the best they could get was 300 coins and 90% of the profits. Considering they only had 200 gold coins on them by now, plus that the letter of intent was their only safe pass in Baator, they decided to pass and inform their employer, in order to receive money from him and return to seal the deal. As for the portal, they were able to play on the King’s confidence, getting a good offer for access to the gate to Fortitude, price not including the gate key (which they already had anyway). So, they were led to some alley of Dis and an arch between two buildings that held the portal to Fortitude.

The portal led them to a walled city in oval shape. The roads were paved with white flagstone of extreme craftsmanship and crossed in perfect angles, while the buildings were orderly, practical and left plenty of room between them for public spaces that had been filled with gardens, fountains and parks. Setting out to explore more of the town, one of the guards in ceremonial armor that stood in every corner began shouting “Evil! Trespassers!” and pointed towards them. Before they could react, they found themselves circled by concerned citizens. Four guards, a dwarf followed by three humans, broke the circle and demanded to know where they came from. Instinctively, Fox and Kamau began shouting to bystanders that they had just returned from DIS where the STOLEN SWORD of DANEEL had been safeguarded. Clearly in stress, the guards asked them to do this the easy way, just be silent and follow them. With a wide smile on their faces, they did.

They were led to a large cubic building that was built to resemble the Barracks in Sigil. There, they were brought before Tonat Shar and demanded to receive the gems that supposedly would be given to them in Ribcage before they handed over the sword. Shar explained that he had sent them through a trustworthy faction member and was surprised, but still agreed to honour their deal and retrieve them for Fox and Kamau. He also paid them their promised reward, in platinum coins no less. Before handing the sword, they made a note that they hadn’t forgotten how the faction tried to frame them and blackmailed them into going to Dis, but Shar’s reality check of where they stood brought them back in line. Their exchange complete, they were afterwards led to Stonehammer, who removed the limitations from their arrow of direction and rings of fire protection and a Harmonium mage that cast a spell to conceal Kamau’s aura of evil, so that they would be able to wander around town.

Fox and Kamau went to the local inn, named “The Tears of Tyr”, and loaded with money and rough times on Dis, ordered the best food, drinks and housing the establishment had to offer. After a power nap on their new quality beds, they went out shopping. Fox visited the local magic shop, while Kamau went to a weapons vendor and bought a military grade Scythe. Despite its beauty, they found the town could get pretty boring pretty fast, so they returned to the Tears of Tyr to rest a little more.

The Iron Tower pt. 3
No idea of date or time

Varg.jpgUsing their new flower of holes , they returned to the huge cavern with the floating stones. This time they made the jumps without being tied to each other. Halfway on, they were attacked by some hideous shrieking creatures that resembled flayed heads with bat wings where their ears should be. Even though the fighting ground was to their disadvantage, Fox and Kamau managed to destroy the monsters without getting really hurt. When they made it to the cave wall, they slapped another portable hole on it, using a petal inscribed with the new symbols they had found.

The next room had a single feature in its middle: a living woman, held in the searing metal up to her shoulders. Around her head was a circle of sharp blades, making her a cruel mockery of Sigil’s Lady of Pain. Despite the pain from the hot metal, she remained silent, although her eyes followed them around the room. Once their brains got around the sight, they reluctantly came closer. Any attempts at communication failed, however they noticed that the blades were stuck on her neck, creating slowly bleeding wounds. With caution, they each removed a blade. Kamau felt something on his head, and touching it he realized with horror that his hair had been replaced by hideous writhing worms stuck on his head. Fox on the other hand, felt like his mouth was filled with cotton. He was no longer able to speak. Even after they put the blades back in place, the change was irreversible. Despair was setting in, as Fox pulled a petal with the symbol leading to the Library. The good news was that the devil was no longer there. The bad news was that neither was Kamau’s falchion. Before they went on, he took a minute to shave his worm-hair. Despite the pain it caused him, in the end he felt much better.

Trying the other petal with the new symbol, they ended up in a small study, featuring a wooden desk and chair, as well as a small tin bucket filled with some of the searing metal in liquid form. Over the desk, nailed to the wall was a skeletal hand gripping a sword. Even though they were suspicious, since the room seemed extremely normal, thus out of place in the Iron Tower, Fox decided to risk it and stood on the desk to reach the sword. As soon as he plucked it from the skeletal fingers, the whole room began to shake as if an earthquake was taking place. The liquid metal shot out of the bucket like a geyser, creating a rain of burning droplets. Soon as they hit the ground, they began concentrating on a specific point, rising up to create feet, then legs, a torso. Finally, the grand form of Dispater himself stood before them, while behind him teleported his personal guard: 9 fiends like the one they had met when they crossed the portal to Avernus, 9 insectoid fiends like the one that took Guardian and Daneel’s arm off and 9 pit fiends, all in 3 orderly rows behind their master. Suddenly the room felt extremely small.
“Come to rid me of that dreadful nuisance, have you” he spoke in a deep voice. “Well, it was only a matter of time, I suppose. Although I have to admit” he said as he looked over them “I’m a bit surprised… I was expecting a grand invasion force, perhaps a host of noble paladins descending upon my palace in the name of righteous retribution and so forth and so forth… Instead I find you, a couple of – excuse the expression- ordinary thrillseekers, mercenaries and all-around troublemakers. I thought I deserved better.” Noticing Fox’s struggle to answer, he snapped his fingers and removed the curse. Fox then told the archduke about the force that had died on Avernus and of the fiends’ actions in Sigil (“An attempt by some of my followers to impress me, I assure you I was not involved and certainly not happy to receive their prize”), the Harmonium’s blackmailing behavior (“I have neither knowledge nor interest of these ‘factions’ you are talking about”) and proposed to the archduke to work together, actually, take advantage of their intentions and use them as pawns, in order to achieve their common goals. Fox explained that they were looking for a way to harm the faction, so Dispater could use their presence in Fortitude and the sword to open a gate for his invasion force to take over the town. “I am already extremely busy fighting the Blood War, I have no interest in the little town you mentioned” explained Dispater. “This blade you hold has only brought me problems. It has incited a race among my followers trying to impress me. It has me waiting for someone to come and reclaim it. Plus, I have heard several rumors about the Lords of other layers being jealous of my possession. The last thing I need right now is internal struggle and civil war. Please, take it away and trouble me no more.”

They did not dare to deny the archduke’s request. Upon agreement, he snapped his fingers and another pit fiend appeared. “Please Kri’ik, accompany our honored guests out of here, will you?” said Dispater, as Fox and Kamau were trying to hold their jaws from dropping. The pit fiend obeyed without question and teleported them and himself out of the tower and back onto the skull road that led to the city of Dis. There, he exclaimed that the deal involved stealing the sword, not receiving it with its owner’s consent, thus they hadn’t honored the agreement and he would kill them. Fox and Kamau fought for their lives in what was a desperate battle, hoping for something to save them. Indeed, Dispater’s form appeared from the ground after a few seconds that had felt like centuries. “Dear me, Kri’ik” said the archduke, shaking his head at the stunned fiend. “I am truly saddened by this cowardly betrayal. And to think that it was I that guided your ascension over the millennia. Why, I remember when you started as a squiggling larvae – such a waste… Ah well, this hurts me more than it does you, Kri’ik. I hearby revoke the powers granted to you as a greater baatezu. Go and never darken my door again.” He then turned to the humans. “You know, I hear the jawbone of a pit fiend can bring quite the price in the right places. I’m sure our friend here wouldn’t mind losing his.” The archduke’s form melted back to the ground. Morale was on Fox and Kamau’s side and they turned the tide against the enraged pit fiend, especially since he no longer had his spell resistance protecting him. Fox stabbed him with Guardian and Kri’ik screamed in pain. Reading the battle, he was forced to a shameful retreat, vowing to return and get his revenge.

Once he was away, exhausted and feeling protected by the Lord of the layer himself, Fox and Kamau collapsed on the spot, trying to get some much needed rest.

The Iron Tower pt. 2
No idea of date or time

They had no idea how long they were asleep, but thanks to Fox’s healing spells and Kamau’s enchanted belt, they were quickly back and ready to go on. The next petal led them to the torture chamber where they had started, only this time one of the prisoners was fashionably dead, his chest ripped apart as if something had burst out from inside. It dawned on them that there had to be a connection between the rooms and symbols, in some way resembling organs of a humanoid. Still, such a theory told them neither where to go next nor where the sword was hidden. As for the arrow of direction , it was as confused as them. Venting out his frustration, or perhaps preventing future anatomical surprises, Kamau murdered the second prisoner as well. Faced with his companion’s sociopathic impatience, Fox took a chance and pulled another petal quickly.

They were inside an octagonal room, each wall a bookcase rising up as far as they could see and filled with black, leatherbound tomes inscribed with infernal runes. In the middle lay a single block, much like a desk or an altar, with a few stacks of books laid on top of it. Fox flipped through a few until he stumbled upon one that seemed completely blank. Instinctively, he ripped it from the book, just as they heard the by-now-familiar sound of someone teleporting near them. hamatula.jpgIt was a 7 ft. tall devil with sharp claws and a body filled with spikes. Before they could talk to it and almost certain that it had been summoned in response to Fox’s actions, it attacked. Kamau’s confidence quickly turned into panic as his sword barely scratched the fiend. It struck him with both claws and pulled him into a grapple on its barbed body. Fox managed to slip a simple Daze through its spell resistance, but it was enough to allow his friend to escape the death grip. Kamau dropped his falchion and cowered in a corner as Fox pulled a random petal. It seemed like a lifetime until the small black thing grew into a full-size portable hole and for a second, he thought they were going to die. Just before the fiend struck again, he managed to grab Kamau and pull him along through the hole.

Next thing they knew, they landed inside a tower-like cylinder with circular stairs going up, where they could hear soft whispers, and down where they could hear a stream or river flowing. Fox took out a rock from the pouch he had found and dropped it down, but never heard a splash. Sensing this room was another trick, he placed some rocks on one step and they began descending. As expected, they soon found the exact same rocks in front of them, while the sounds had never gotten any stronger or dimmer. Trying the same but going up, they had the same result. Quickly deducing that this room was designed as a trick or sick joke, they created another hole and went through.

They were inside some big long cave, standing on a slab of rock floating in mid-air. A line of similar rocks ran across the cavern. The arrow pointed towards the wall on one side of the cavern, so they tied themselves just like when they had crossed the river Styx and began jumping. Not surprisingly, the less athletic Fox missed his second jump, pulling Kamau down with him. They both crashed on the floor of the all-too-familiar by now torture chamber. Nothing had changed since their last visit, plus the chains on the roof had slowed down their descent a bit. With a sigh, they pulled another petal.

The next room was round and its walls were adorned with all kinds of gems forming circles in various sizes. Despite their attempts however, they could not pull them out. As they were trying, the wall inside one of the circles became blurry and formed the image of a desolate grey wasteland. It didn’t take long for them to realize they were staring at an activated portal before a small spiky devil jumped out with a sack on his shoulder. Thankfully, it was the small type like the ones that had been driving the work crews around town, nothing like the beast that almost killed them in the library. Stunned to find anybody there, let alone a non-baatezu, the devil took a while to speak, proposing that it would answer questions in return for gems. Fox seemed willing to give it a try, although he knew he was almost broke. However, Kamau was in a less negotiative mood and bullied the little fiend, which responded by dropping its sack and releasing the larvae inside. The ensuing battle was short. So short actually, that Kamau slew the baatezu before Fox could hold him back and propose interrogation or something similar.

The next room was circular but had a domed ceiling made of glass. Looking out, they realized they were somewhere near the top of the Iron Tower, providing them with a stunning view of the city below. That’s when their brain kicked in: the city was infinite, yet somehow they were able to see all of it. Puzzled as they were, they never heard someone teleporting in the room. “You should not be here” a voice said. Turning to face the newcomer, they saw a large spiked fiend, similar to the one they had faced in the Library. Or was it the same, chasing them from room to room? Not waiting to find out, they defended themselves as they could until the last petal had changed into a hole, which they slapped to the ground and jumped through.

They were standing at a crossroads of two corridors, with walls made of bones. From one they heard mumbling and saw a man advancing towards them. He was wearing ragged clothes, much like those of slaves they had seen in the city’s streets. His long hair and bushy beard were white, while he was holding a broken bone and a gold coin. When asked, he identified himself as the Keeper of the Maze and inquired if they had seen his fish. Even though he was clearly barmy he seemed to know his way around, so they convinced him to take them to “the Armory” where he claimed the holy blade was kept. On the way, he named them deputy Keepers and lost track of whatever they were doing, so they let him go. Checking on the flower of holes they saw that from its center had grown a new single petal, with the symbol of a leaf inscribed on it.

The new hole led them on top of a hill made of actual dirt. Beneath them lay a garden with rows of black flowers, tended carefully by two pit fiends. They crawled down to take a closer look and hid behind a tank filled with some transparent liquid and balls of glowing light. To their terror, one of the fiends began walking towards the tank, but just seconds before they were discovered, a third pit fiend teleported in the garden and summoned the other two to another post. The three monsters teleported away, so Fox and Kamau came out of their hiding place to explore. On the other side of the tank, which seemingly had no way to be opened, they found a single cut flower, a bucket of blood and a long thorn. Quickly grasping the concept, Fox dipped the thorn in the blood and began inscribing the petals. It was no easy job, but despite botching several symbols, he got more than a few right as well, including two inscribed with new symbols that he had found written on a piece of paper he had taken from the trinket-filled skull before. Meanwhile, Kamau had destroyed an entire row of flowers for his own reasons. Fox stopped him from causing any more damage, explaining to him that besides Dispater’s potential wrath, he was also destroying their only source of new flowers to use for travelling the tower.

The Iron Tower pt. 1
No idea of date or time

With a wicked smile on his face, Mordred wrapped his chains all around Fox and Kamau, spikes digging into their flesh. When they felt the chains loosening again, they let them fall to the floor. They were inside a large room full of strange and sickening torture devices. Black chains hung from the ceiling down to the walls like iron webs. On two corners of the room were humans hung from the walls who, upon closer inspection, seemed to be alive but unconscious. Fox felt warmth from the pouch where he kept the crystal sphere with the flower of holes. When he checked, the glass was blurry and stuck to the leather pouch like glue. He took it out and the glass at once melted to reveal a blooming black flower with twelve petals, each inscribed with a unique symbol in some glowing crimson ink. Since they couldn’t find anything else inside the torture chamber, they plucked a petal and went through the portable whole that it created.

They came out into a tiny square room made of some seamless material that looked like cured hide. Before they could explore it, the room sprung into life and began shrinking. Before it was able to crush them, Fox plucked a random petal and created an emergency exit.

The next room was triangular and shaped like the inside of a pyramid. On each of the three corners was a hound archon with live snakes serving as its shackles. All three of them begged for release, but also warned them that one of the three was actually a shapechanged tanar’ri. To his surprise, Kamau discovered that his journey through Baator and the thoughts it had caused him to make, had also given him the power to read the auras of the out-of-place archons. Using this to his advantage, they were able to sort out the tanar’ri, but were still at a loss as to whether to release any and which prisoners. Such an action inside the Iron Tower risked invoking the wrath of Dispater, plus none of the prisoners had any useful information or was willing to help in any way. Still not the ones to leave an advantageous situation slip by, Fox and Kamau offered freedom in exchange for a future favor and released the archons which teleported back to Celstia, counting on their lawful nature to keep their end of the deal, as opposed to the chaotic tanar’ri that was abandoned in its prison.

The following room was uneven, fleshy and reeked like a goblin’s bladder. Also, it pulsated with a steady beat that was strong enough to shatter one’s ears, mind and sanity. Kamau stabbed the floor to make it stop, but instead the beating intensified, while blood sprayed out of the wound all over them and kept flowing, slowly flooding the strange room. Once again, Fox plucked another petal from the flower of holes and, when it had grown to become a portable hole, slapped it to a wall.

They found themselves inside a long chamber, lined with torches along the walls, while the one at the end of the corridor was made of some reflective surface. Fox consulted his deity through an augury spell to ask about a specific petal marked with a skull and whether going into the room where it led would be good for them. While he was practicing his magic, Kamau examined the mirror and noticed a huge pit fiend standing behind their reflections. When he turned around he saw nothing, but the fiend inside the mirror began talking to him. “Hi there lads” it said in a guttural tone. “Glad you showed up, we’ll have such a good time. Ol’ Zaggutch knows just the way to do that”. Just as it finished speaking these last words, Fox finished his spellcasting, receiving a positive answer. Looking up, his excitement turned into horror, as he saw the pit fiend in the mirror. The baatezu stopped talking and attacked their reflections, tearing them into chunky heaps of flesh. Shocked and disgusted, they plucked the petal marked with a skull. Before they went through, they caught a final glimpse of the pit fiend in the mirror. “See you real soon, lads” it said with a grin.

They emerged in a cave-like room with a single feature in the middle: a huge skull, vaguely human in its shape except the two horns on its sides and something metallic gleaming on top of it, roughly 15 feet from the ground they were standing on. So, they climbed up and discovered it was a hatch, which of course they pulled open. Inside, the skull was filled with all kinds of trinkets, some of which even faintly radiated magic, according to Fox. While he was taking his time sifting through the trinkets in search of something useful (pocketing, among others, a small gem, a bag of rocks and a journal written in some obscure language) Kamau was able to hear clicking from beneath them. The digging had disturbed three giant scorpions that were nesting inside the eye cavities and although the ensuing fight was brief, it left Fox nearly dead but fortunately for them, none seemed to be poisoned. With injury added to their exhaustion, they decided to risk resting where the scorpions had been living.

Dealing with the devils on a shaky ground
Once upon a time in Dis

Despite the abishai’s snarls, he could do nothing but let them pass once they showed him the merchant’s letter of intent. Once they made it to the base of the mountain, they discovered that the path was not laid with cobblestones but humanoid skulls, half-buried in the dark ground. The path had seen its share of use, as some of the skulls lay cracked like empty eggshels. Since this was the only path visible, even though they couldn’t see far enough to tell if it led into the city, Fox and Kamau decided to follow it.

They began to pass outcroppings of dull iron that rose from the ground like blocky, metallic trees. At first, only a few dotted the plain, but soon the landscape was cluttered with more than they could count – the path snaked through a thickforest of gray iron slabs. The metal seemed to smolder with uncomfortable heat, strong enough to slow them down and drench them in salty perspiration. Struggling along the path, they heard a voice near them. “Made it this far, have you? Good, good… Of course, without my help you wouldn’t have, and you won’t make it out with all your organs in one place”. By the side of the road, atop a slab of iron, sat a shabby man dressed in rags who introduced himself as their “”/wikis/across-the-wasteland" class=“wiki-page-link”> friend from the wastelands“. He explained that he was willing to help them steal Guardian from the tower of ”/wikis/dispater" class=“wiki-page-link”> Dispater and in return he would reward them with “a ruby the size of a maelephant’s head!” His offer and motives were questioned hard, forcing him to reveal that he wished Dispater embarassed by the theft, potentially allowing him to claim the archduke’s position. This would spare them from the vengeful wrath of Dispater as well as gaining them the favour of the next ruler. The removal of the sword was enough, what they wanted to do with it was not his concern. After more pressure, he mentioned that to get inside the tower they would have to be able to “see in the dark. Or simply think in it.” and he offered them a black rose inside a crystal sphere. As he told them, the tower’s rooms were not connected by stairs or corridors, since all baatezu teleported from one room to another. However, petitioners and supplicants used flowers of holes like this one. Once removed, the flower’s petals became portable holes that allowed travel from one room to another. Fox and Kamau were still reluctant to accept, fearing the reprecussions of their actions, but the man refused to budge any further, mentioning that since they were doing it anyway, he only wished to help as it served his interests as well, but he could not force them into agreeing. As a prequisite, they asked for his name, which he said after they had sworn that they would not mention it along with his plans. He said his name was Kri’ik and they closed the deal.

Moving on, the path became narrower. After a sharp turn, they suddenly found themselves staring down a long, narrow street of the city. Looking behind, the alley went on. Somehow they were inside the city, without ever passing any gates or walls. Crowds of fiends and humanoids pushed each other in the narrow streets. Raw heat made the air ripple, as all buildings and streets inside the city were made of the same searing-hot metal that forced Kamau to remove his chain shirt. Screams were mixed with the sound of construction in a distance. Once they moved out of the alley, they discovered the source of it all: a pack of lemures, pushed around by a small spiky fiend holding a trident, began tearing the street slabs apart and tossing them around, screaming as they touched the burning iron with their bare hands.

They stopped a passing man in a rusty-red cloak to ask for the nearest inn, which he named “The Whip and Chain” that stood “somewhere over that way”. No sense in directions, they realized soon, as everywhere work crews of lemures and the occasional humanoid slaves tore streets and buildings apart only to have another crew build them up again after a while. On their way they were nearly swept away by what can only be described as a stampeding pack of lemures, eventually though they made it to the Whip and Chain, a charming little inn run by a tiefling woman under the name of Zadora. Even though the place and furniture was made out of the same burning iron as everything else in the city, most surfaces were covered by leathery carpets and tapestries smeared with a shining oil that, heated by the iron, gave out a heavy scent of orange and cinammon. They had a little chat with Zadora, who told them that if they wanted to establish their little spice shop, they’d have to deal with “the King” but refused to say more, assuring them that if they went around asking, his thugs would find them eventually. Rooms cost 7 copper pieces per night, so excited as they were to be having real food, drinks and beds after their trek of Avernus they gave her a dozen gold coins or more in order to stay and receive royal treatment until they decided to leave. Then they went up to their rooms, where everything was again made out of iron and covered in hides, which they didn’t seem to have a problem with. After a hot bath, they decided to sleep and be lazy for a good long while.

When they finally woke up, Fox decided to take advantage of the inn and stay in to study one of the spells in Karris’ spellbook that he’d found in Avernus while Kamau would explore the city. After dodging more work crews, he realized that no matter how much he walked towards the tower, it always seemed to be in the same distance. He found a blacksmith shop manned by a strange-looking dwarf named Caril, who told him he forged weapons made out of green steel mined in Baator. Most important of all, he was assaulted by a working slave who pleaded for his help, but was quickly lashed back to work by a winged woman not unlike Zinnia . She introduced herself as Sauraphine, but their conversation was cut short when Kamau mentioned Zinnia of which Sauraphine seemed to have a very poor oppinion of. Not making much progress and tired of running into work crews that appeared in front of him to tear down things or build them back up, he made his way back to the Whip & Chain only to find Fox in a mood that he had come to understand by now: the sage had spent his whole day studying to no avail.

While they were sleeping, Fox woke up to the sound of the ground boiling, a sound that reminded him of the experience at the Maggot Pit. When he opened his eyes, he noticed traces of dust falling from the ceiling while the ground was shaking as if in the middle of an earthquake. Quickly realizing what was going on, he urgently woke up Kamau grabbed their stuff and barely made it out of the inn before it collapsed to the ground. Zadora would have to find a new establishment and they would have to find another inn. En route to their next stop, which had been described as “an inn with a sign of two dice in flames” Kamau recited his explorations of the city. They were interrupted by another lemure work crew and instinctively pulled back to dodge a spiked chain that flew in front of them. Turning around, they saw a kyton, commonly known as a chain devil. “I heard you’ve been looking for me” he said, in a voice that Kamau immediately realized as Mordred . He didn’t seem to be in a very friendly mood, but they managed to convince him to go to the nearest bar and talk things through over a mug of ale.

Mordred took them to a place called “The Planar’s Delight” where the hides smelled of mint and allspice. He described himself as an artist, explaining that he had personally skinned the lemures that became the covers for this establishment. This was the only light discussion though, as was brief, blunt and unfriendly. He questioned the couple hard, trying to make them “confess” that they had come to visit Zinnia but had no success. When he confirmed that he and her were the ones that had attacked Daneel they told him that they were visiting because of hardhead pressure but wished to use Guardian to actually harm the faction. Musing with their plans, Mordred offer to get them past the guards and inside the tower. However, in return he wanted Zinnia erased from their thoughts, hearts and minds. Kamau passed on the deal, only to be made fun of by the fiend, who stood up to leave. Realizing that they would miss a good opportunity to bypass a lot of obstacles, Fox rushed to tell his friend to rethink, hinting that other factors were on the table as well. Maybe they’d never see Zinnia ever again anyway, maybe they could find a way around the deal, but they needed to seal it. Just as quickly, Kamau swallowed his pride and caught up to the fiend when it was going outside.

Too many deals, they thought. And probably conflicting each other. Deep inside, they knew eventually at least one of them would go bad.

Across the Wasteland
Sometime in Baator...

The two men walked downstream along the bank of the river Styx, fought some wandering lemures and went on, until they noticed a cloud of dust on the horizon. It was no incoming storm though; inside it they could make out the towering form of a pit fiend, surrounded by an honour guard bearing banners of war. Hordes of lemures marched under its command, prodded around like cattle by spear- and trident-wielding abishai. Over them, a dozen more of the fiends flew in formation. Fox and Kamau attempted to hide under a large rock, but two of the black abishai broke off their ranks and flew towards them. They immediately attacked, unresponsive to the men’s shouting to pause and talk. In the short battle that ensued, they were slain by Kamau’s blade, as Fox had trouble breaking through their spell resistance, but not before one was able to bite Kamau and poison him. Afterwards, they tried to drag one of the corpses and throw it into the river, but the unlucky Fox slid on the muddy riverbanks and fell into the dreaded river. He was able to swim back ashore, but when he came out, he seemed lost and had no recollection of their journey since they arrived onto Avernus. With no time to explain, Kamau showed him the approaching army and bid him to hide. Utilizing his magical powers, Fox cast his rope trick spell and they waited inside until the fiendish host had passed. When they emerged, the realization hit Fox: they had noticed that the pit fiend wielded a large curved sword instead of the greatsword that baatezu of its status use. And the one depicted wielding such a weapon was Bel, the Lady of Avernus.

After recovering from the shock, the duo talked about the river’s effect on Fox and the risk of crossing it. Ultimately, they had no choice but to jump on some skeletal corals that grew over the surface, hoping they wouldn’t fall in the Styx and lose all memory, cursed to wander Avernus until they were dead (and maybe even after that). Just in case, they wrote down some basic information on a piece of paper and made a run for it. The athletic warrior managed to get across safely, while Fox took two more dives into the black waters. Without any patience left to explain things over again, Kamau told him to just read the paper and move along. They walked until they could walk no more, but their problems were far from over. Since Fox had used his rope trick spell to evade Bel’s army, they were forced to sleep on the sharp rocky ground of Avenus, under the blasts of fireballs going out in its blood-red sky. Kamau tried to stay awake for as long as he could, safeguarding Fox until he had rested enough to replenish his magic. When he woke up, Fox returned the favor to his friend, healing him and creating a safe place for both of them to rest utilizing the rope trick spell once more. Coming out of their dimensional haven, they were assaulted by a gang of nupperibos, which they managed to slaughter.

They set out on their path again, soon coming near a peculiar sight; a large rock with the armored legs and feet of some poor soul who seemed to have materialized half inside the solid stone sticking out. Coming closer to examine, they realized this was no botched teleportation. Several other rocks had similar legs sticking out of them, while more rose from the ground, as if people had been half-buried upside down. They dug one out, a warrior bearing a tabard with the symbol of the Harmonium. “A real pity they weren’t prepared” boomed a voice from behind them. They looked around, but could see nothing. The voice asked them what they were doing here, to which they answered that they were traveling to Dis to set up a spice trading route. Not convinced, the voice called out their bluff, revealing that he knew they had been trying to contact hardheads while still in Ribcage. That’s when Fox decided to be brutally honest and said they were out to reclaim the stolen sword, the holy avenger “Guardian”, but their intention was to use it in a way that would harm the faction. His honesty amazed whoever was talking to them, who said they’d need his help to get the blade. They would meet again later in Dis to hammer out an agreement, but until then they had to prove they were tough enough for the deed. Once the voice was done speaking, four of the buried corpses shambled out of their graves as zombies, while two hideous glaive-wielding bearded devils, the same kind of baatezu that had been carrying Bel’s battle standards, materialized out of thin air. Softened physically and magically by their encounter with the nupperibos, they fought a desperate battle, which they eventually lost.

The two men woke up wrapped in chains from their ankles up to their shoulders, hanging upside down from a rock. A group of kobolds were poking them to see if they were still alive. Fox spoke to them in the Draconic language and asked for their assistance. The kobolds managed to release them and asked for directions to Nibelim, a place in the lands of their god Kurtulmak. As the men had none, the kobolds asked for weapons, armor or magical items that would help defend their pack against the fiends. Fox offered them rations, but they needed none since they were petitioners, with no need to eat or sleep. In exchange for a few healing potions, the kobolds advised them ‘not to fly over the pit’ and the two groups went on their separate ways.

Once they felt the need for a break, they made for a nearby clearing, only to discover several slain lemures, nupperibos and the corpses of an adventuring group; an armored bariaur with a broken lance next to him, a githzerai priest, a tiefling loaded with throwing knives and a dead wizard, which they managed to identify as Karris, the one they had met back in Sigil before they began their latest planar trip. Obviously they had been surprised while resting. The duo took anything useful they could find, including the dead wizard’s spellbook and tried to find another place to rest. They did, but they could make out a low gurgling noise in the distance, as if the ground itself was boiling.

After they had their break, they set out to discover the source of the noise. What they saw was a great ditch filled with maggots and slime. Lemures and nupperibos crawled out of it and set out to a certain direction, as if hypnotized. Most important, right after the maggot pit rose a huge mountain, whose whole side opened into a colossal cave; definitely Tiamat’s lair. Hoping the maggot swarm was solid enough to support their weight, they swallowed their disgust and activated their magic boots to help them make it across. Unfortunately for them, they sunk inside it, but were immediately blasted out again, as a large red abishai dripping with slime landed on the ground in front of them with a warning to leave the larvae alone. They said they still wanted to get across, to which the fiend replied they needed a pass to do so. He was offered some gems as a bribe, which he took “as a donation” and explained that while he was willing to let them across, he was also bound by the laws that still demanded a pass. He was offered Lord Paracs’ pass, which ignited in his palm. “This is worth less than your lives here even” laughed the fiend. The men tried with the merchant’s letter of intent, which seemed to do the trick at last. Afterwards, they asked the fiend to safely take them across, which he was willing to do for a price. Once they paid him, he grabbed their collars with his feet and flew them over the pit. Their feet touched the ground for a split second before the abishai flew them back to their original position. “I took you safely across” he exclaimed. “We never had an agreement to leave you there as well”. Barely containing their anger, mostly because if they killed him, they had no way across, they were forced to pay him the fee again, only this time they were careful enough to phrase their agreement in the most exact wording they could.

Finally on the mouth of Tiamat’s lair, they made their way down into the gigantic cave. Fortunately for them, the dragon queen was not there and the arrow of direction spared them from any accidental meetings with any of her consorts. They had to walk for a while across the colossal cave to get to their destination, a rusting iron door that stood twenty feet tall. Fox climbed on Kamau’s shoulders to reach the handles and wrap the rope around it, which they pulled together afterwards. They entered with caution, only to be assaulted by a spider that came out of a side-tunnel. The monster was no match for their power and was quickly disposed of. However, once they ventured further into the tunnel, they heard a voice from the ground announcing that “Those who wish to enter Dis must crawl!” After a few crawls around and across the tunnel, Fox attempted to divine what he could through a Detect Secret Doors spell. Although he was searching for a portal (and lacked the necessary Locate Portal and Analyze Portal spells) he was able to discern that the iron doors were the portal’s frame. In a spark of inspiration, Kamau walked out back to the cave and crawled through the doors, activating the portal in a green and gray flash of light.

When their eyes recovered from the flash, they found themselves on a mountainside under a sunless sky not unlike that of Avernus, only this one had a greenish glow behind iron-grey clouds. From their vantage point, their eyesight stretched on forever until their mind hurt, unable to come to terms with the unnatural event. Of in the distance sprawled an enormous city, maybe large enough to fill the cavern they were standing in a while ago. Dominating the cityscape was a grey, parapet-choked tower that stabbed the sky as far as their necks could go back to reveal. It seemed to be made out of molten iron, constantly mutating and changing shape. They couldn’t wrap their minds around what it looked like. The city was surrounded by high mountains like the one they were standing on, but the way distance and size was warped here, it was unthinkable that they could hike around them. On the base of the mountain they could make out a path of white cobblestone.

Turning behind them, they saw the iron gate shut. A few yards in front of them, one bright red and three swampy green abishai were crouching over the remains of a humanoid, torn and chewn beyond recognition. Sensing their presence, the red fiend paused his meal, stood up and turned to face them with a crooked smile. “Welcome to Dis, brave fools.”


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