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.”