The long battle | Wrath of the Righteous (2023)

Illustrated version

The party continued their expedition into the Ineluctable Prison. Before setting out, the party dug one of the pit fiend skeletons out of its cage and stashed it away in the Sanctum as a gift for Gith when he returned. They then began searching out the labyrinthine halls of the Prison. Sometimes squads of demodands would accost them, but the skill and power of the party was too much. The fights were short. As they adventured, a strange apparition appeared to Wase. The hand of a halfling floated up to him, with a holy symbol of Iomedae around its wrist. All could see the hand, but it focused on Wase. The hand was beckoning and seemed to want the party to follow it. They hadn’t been going anywhere in particular before, so the party followed. Poonisher scouted ahead, sometimes picking off guards. Mysterious sounds echoed off the endless walls.

Eventually the party arrived at a collection of cells. One cell was occupied by a hunched halfling woman in the tattered remains of cleric’s garb. Four tarry demodands guarded her.

The party approached and the guards raised their swords for a charge. Without warning, Poonisher’s arrows lanced out, the first curving through the air to hit multiple targets. One demodand died instantly and the one next to it fell to its knees. Hook screeched and leapt on the wounded monster. It died quickly, but then the dinosaur was trapped where it stood. One sickle-claw was stuck fast in the demodand’s tar-like body. Wase charged as well, and Radiance too was stuck fast in a demodand’s lungs. One demodand was still unhurt and tried a spell. What it was we will never know, for Tane blocked it with his own magic. Another round of arrows from Poonisher ended the battle.

Many shenanigans then ensued to free Wase’s sword and Hook’s foot. After the Holy Avenger suffered treatment rather undignified of a righteous artifact and the velociraptor’s ankle feathers were sacrificed, the party turned their attention to the halfling prisoner. After she came up clean on both Detect Evil and True Seeing, the party let her out with a hidden button she pointed out.

The prisoner emerged tearfully praising Iomedae’s deliverance before giving her story. Her name was Waxberry, and she was a cleric in the crusade against the Worldwound. She described how a 12-armed, two-headed, demonic snakewoman had appeared on the field of battle in Raliscrad not long after the crusaders’ commander conjured the Herald of Iomedae to aid in the fight. Waxberry attempted to protect the Herald, and she was swept up with him by the demon. The next thing she knew, she was huddled in a great cavern of bones, watching from a ledge overlooking a lake of boiling tar. The Herald was standing on a circular disc floating in the tar, and for years, Waxberry was powerless to do anything but watch as the Herald was tortured by Baphomet. Apparently, time flowed more slowly in Baphomet’s realm.

In the end, Baphomet tore out the Herald’s heart and gave it over to the prison’s 12-armed warden. Through sobs, she explained how the herald finally submitted, pledged its loyalty to the darkness, and became corrupted. It was now the Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth, but Waxberry was convinced it was still not too late. She believed that the reason she still lived and Iomedae had lead the party to her was so that the Herald could be redeemed. She believed that the Herald’s heart would be key to saving him. She knew that the warden, who was named Ylleshka, had placed the heart in the prison’s vault. The Herald would likely also need powerful magic, such as an Atonement spell. Waxberry was very pleased to hear that Iomedae had granted uses of the spell to the party. Surely, she said, they wouldn’t need to use such magic on themselves.

Waxberry had also heard a prisoner named “Alderpash” mentioned with dread by her guards. She suggested it might be wise to seek Alderpash’s aid, if the guards were so afraid of them.

The party continued searching through the prison, now with Waxberry by their side. In a few minor encounters with demodands it became clear that despite her valor, Waxberry simply wasn’t powerful enough to survive at the party’s level. Tane opened his portal and Waxberry was given a temporary home in the Sanctum with the familiars. It was not glorious, but Waxberry had helped as much as she was able.

The next event of note was another cellblock. Strangely, an empty cell was locked. Wase, and only Wase, felt a cold wind emanate from it. The party failed to find anything in it with magical scanning, but opened the cell anyway out of curiosity. The wind burst out, affecting everyone this time, and gathered together into the image of a forlorn woman in rags and bleeding from the throat. In life, she was Lady Cessily Mantiel, a devout paladin of Sarenrae who, along with her husband Kestoglyr, went on a daring raid into the Ivory Labyrinth long ago. When Kestoglyr succumbed to Baphomet and betrayed their team, Cessily tried to reason with him, only to be turned over to Baphomet by her husband. She was imprisoned here, and in time her despair drove her to suicide. Although the knowledge that her husband betrayed her hurts, the thing that drove her over the edge was the knowledge that the potent weapon she had been entrusted by the church to defend was taken from her and corrupted. This weapon was Dawnflower’s Kiss, a “scimitar made from one of the dawn’s first rays.”

Cessily asked the party to bring it to her, for she felt her lingering spirit could scorch out the corruption and restore the weapon as an act of redemption before she could finally rest in peace. She knew the weapon was taken by one of Baphomet’s high priestesses, a vile woman who dwelt in a shrine elsewhere in the prison. She would send a cold wind to lead the party to her without the confusion of the maze. Someone recalled that Kestoglyr was the graveknight the party killed to steal his barge. Cessilywas relieved to have the closure, and asked if the party still had the Staff of Healing they took from her traitorous husband. They did, and Cessily infused it with her soul, upgrading it significantly with the power to heal and raise the dead.

The party began following the wind. On the way, they found another notable cell. Inside this one was a dead angel. He was almost beyond help, but thanks to Tane’s careful recordkeeping the party found a scroll of True Resurrection among their treasures. Waxberry was briefly called back to use it. With various magical and mythical bolstering to ensure she wouldn’t fail, Waxberry resurrected the angel.

After getting his bearings, the angel introduced himself. He was an astral deva named Malaika. In the party’s minds, this quickly distorted into “Mike”. He had stormed the Abyss in a foolhardy attempt to rescue the herald of his goddess, acting without her leave, and for his troubles was captured, tortured, and mutilated to death. Mike the angel had been greatly humbled by the experience, and pledged to aid the party in a support role.

Mike had picked up some information before his death, which he shared. He advised that it would be wise to defeat the prison’s more powerful wardens and sub-wardens before attempting to save the herald, to prevent a situation where all of the prison’s powerful defenders come to protect their greatest prisoner at once. Malaika knew that the warden Ylleshka, the prison’s high priestess Svendack, and the tarn linnorm Uffrandir were significant forces in the prison. Mike also acknowledged that there may be more.

Mike stated that Baphomet knows all that goes on in his prison, but he seemed to be content to let the prison defend itself. The
demon lord may eventually send some favored minions to bolster the defenders’ strength, however, particularly if the linnorm
Uffrandir is slain, as Baphomet particularly favored this beast. Mike didn’t want to ask for the party to risk themselves on his behalf, but he knew that his hammer had been taken and tossed into the cesspit where Uffrandir resided. He could lead the party there, if they so desired.

The next prisoner was no sad hero. Poonisher was telepathically contacted by the immolation devil known as Suurlahetas. Suurlahetas
politely asked to be freed. The party decided to investigate, and found the unfortunate devil. It stood ten feet tall, and looked down with proud eyes.

The devil explained that he was an ambassador from the second level of Hell who had sought to hire a legion of labyrinth minotaurs and ally briefly with Baphomet against a mutual foe. This alliance might have resulted in a critical blow against both the Knights of Ozem and the Pathfinder Lodge of Katapesh had Suurlahetas managed to convince Baphomet of the wisdom of the plan. Suurlahetas promised to give the party information if freed. Perhaps figuring that the enemy of an enemy is a friend, or perhaps just feeling merciful, the party outvoted Poonisher and released him. Being a Lawful devil, Suurlahetas kept his word. He explained how various pentagram shaped teleporters in the prison might be used by the guards and how certain statues of Baphomet could heal powerful guardians.

Suurlahetas also said that stepping onto one of the pentagram portals with at least three of the five keys used to open the Ineluctable Prison’s front gate would allow access to the prison’s most secure cell. Three of the keys were held by the warden, but the location of the others was a mystery. Finally, Suurlahetas told the party the location of the prison’s vault, making it much easier to find in the maze. He then bowed his head and vanished.

The party continued to follow the cold wind. Turning a corner, Poonisher saw a trio of tarry demodands like all the others the party had beaten so easily. Drawing back his bow, Poonisher prepared to silence them. Suddenly, a blast of fire knocked him back. The demodands were in fact accompanied by the drow high priestess of Baphomet herself, Svendack. One of the most powerful mortals alive, possessing her own mythic powers and an enormous repertoire of magical powers, Svendack would offer a battle remembered in legend forever.

It took a long time, her minions died and she lost but she got away with a portal.

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