3 Goodmonth, 592 CY (Concluded)
Backed down the stairs to talk quick strategy and spell up. Then they rushed the room and threw down with Dark Myrakul and the demonflesh golem. Started a little dicey with 60% of the party getting dazed in round one by blasphemy, but the party took control of the fight and ended the chief warden of skullrot and his patchwork minion in just over thirty seconds.
Bransen “felt” the key left by Kort the Grey calling to him from his haversack, and so he pulled it out and immediately knew how to open the cage imprisoning/protecting Adimarchus. Ashton cast fly on everyone except Jarvyk, who was already astride Fer Lomarcan, then everyone but Bransen descended the shaft to the first floor of Skullrot. The paladin and his mount took up a guard position on the exit, and everyone prepared to put an end to the threat behind all of Cauldron’s troubles.
Bransen touched the key to the winching mechanism that held the cage suspended over the pit, and this immediately set the wheels spinning as the cage plummeted to the ground floor 160 feet below. When it impacted, Adimarchus’s prison smashed spectacularly into countless shards of arcane metals. The demon prince stood undamaged and blinking in surprise in the center of the room.
Deg broke the ice with an arrow, but when the shaft impacted Adimarchus, the golden tattoos flared briefly and the missile shattered. Cursing, the halfling tried the scroll of flame strike that Bransen had loaned him after his frustration during the fight against the gaoler. The spell washed over the demon prince harmlessly. The fallen angel flapped his metal wings and shot toward Deg, striking him with the bladed gauntlet strapped to his right hand. He felt the impact and narrowly resisted the killing magic accompanying the blow.
Then, something peculiar happened. The angelic visage melted away, leaving in its place a bald, dark-skinned man with four mouthed tentacles in place of wings. The gauntlet and whip were gone, too, replaced by a black greatsword that seemed to trail ash as it swung easily in the demon’s hand. Adimarchus dropped to the floor and stared up at the flying adventurers like a predator cat stalking birds.
Jarvyk closed next, bringing his holy avenger down with a vicious smite. The blade carved into Adimarchus’s flesh and drew his attention away from the halfling. The spellcasters lent their aid, Greyjek determining that either the demon was immune to mind-affecting powers or was protected by something. When he tried a targeted dispel, he didn’t feel his power tearing apart anything at all. Low on power and frustrated Greyjek snapped, pulling his crossbow and floating to the floor to wield it like a club agaisnt Adimarchus. It was to be his last act in the fight against the demon prince. Bransen and Ashton had some difficulty penetrating the demon prince’s magical defenses as well, but still they fought on, Bransen toying with an idea for a particularly clever miracle.
Over a minute passed, with Adimarchus freely shifting from one form to the other, neither of which seemed to be particularly more vulnerable than the other, although the demonic visage, lacking the golden tattoos, did not seem to be protected from lucky or well-placed strikes. Greyjek, wrapped in his self-manifested blanket of power resistance also resisted all of Bransen’s magical healing, and so remained in a deathless stupor. They’d made some progress, but it was becoming clear that they simply did not have the resources to carry the fight to a successful conclusion. And so Bransen made the choice to use his final miracle.
He felt memories of some of his more recent experiences flowing from his mind as he tapped into his very soul to fuel the spell. Each member Silver Phoenix Adventuring Company felt themselves refreshed, healed of all their wounds and with all spells and abilities restored. Bransen could not sense his most powerful abilities, but he could tell he had everything else, and he smiled. With renewed vigor the party set to work once more, hitting Adimarchus with everything they had. Even the demon began to tire, not having engaged in mortal combat in over five decades. Still, in his great arrogance, he would not back down from the insolent mortals who thought to make an end of him.
Until they succeeded.
The demon form fell first, the focus of most of Ashton’s loving attentions. The body just could not withstand the enervating energy that made it through Adimarchus’s protections combined with Greyjek’s unrelenting disintegrations. Taking the angel form down took more time, considering its protective tattoos, but the adventurers were unrelenting, and still the demon’s hubris prevented him from even attempting to flee.
And then he fell.
At the death blow, the howls of Skullrot’s inmates reached a deafening crescendo. After Adimarchus’s fall, the party dismembered the body and scattered the pieces. They took his equipment as trophies, then made their way back out to the asylum’s balcony. Taking one last look at the landscape of Carceri, they exchanged satisfied smiles and plane shifted back home.
. . .
5 Goodmonth, CY 592
Adimarchus’s weapons and armor had vanished the day before, almost exactly 24 hours after his death. Ashton and Greyjek had gone to the Bluecrater Academy immediately and set about researching what anyone knew about the death of a demon prince. They were up late into the night, but they did discover an obscure bit of lore about the body returning to the plane of their rulership, and the possibility of resurrection. The Silver Phoenixes had gathered around the table and discussed a return trip to Occipitus to try to kill Adimarchus on his home plane, the only method, so the lore said, of permanently destroying such a creature.
Jarvyk was anxious to finish the job once and for all, but Bransen had had enough. “If the All Father wants him dead, he can finish the job himself.” Nobody was willing to take on Adimarchus in his place of power without Bransen’s healing to support them. It was decided that they would stay alert for future threats and fight whatever else might come their way if the demon prince decided he wanted revenge. Greyjek plotted getting word to as many agents of Graz’zt – the one responsible for locking Adimarchus up in the first place – about the demon prince’s return, hoping that they would keep one another busy for a long time.
10 Goodmonth, CY 592
Ashton clasped Evane’s hand tightly as they walked from his father’s execution. She had still not fully recovered from the time her soul had been trapped by the necromancer, but she was on the path to mending. That morning, Bransen had cured the man’s insanity and Primus Maximus had railed impotently against his captors, threatening death and worse to all of them. Satisfied, the judge convicted him of the murder of Ashton’s mother and the subsequent kidnapping of Evane Delia-Chord and ordered his immediate execution. There were stains on the magus’s soul, and he knew he would never be fully rid of them, he felt that he, unlike his father, would not succumb to the evil.
23 Goodmonth, 592 CY
Bransen found himself the attention of way too many would be lady suitors. His popularity as one of the heroes of Cauldron had only gone up when they returned with the story of having defeated the orchestrator of all of Cauldron’s troubles. Fighting against cosmic evils was one thing, but navigating the twisted quagmire that was a woman’s mind was something completely mystifying for the young man. And he had to deal with more than one! Still, it was a pleasant enough diversion from all the blood, pain, and death that his life had become since coming to Cauldron in the first place. He was more than happy to push more of the administrative duties off on Zachary Aslaxin, while he focused on more…life affirming pursuits.
4 Harvester, 592 CY
Deg may not have liked Karamus, but he had to acknowledge the man’s business acumen. He’d used some of the money he’d made in his brief time with the Silver Phoenix Adventuring company to take control of Cauldron’s underground enterprises. Since his purchase of these interests, they had started forming into a well-oiled acquisitions conglomerate that skirted the laws without ever actually breaking any of them. In working with Skylar Krewis, the new Captain of the City Watch, Deg found it much easier to do business, and he put all of his men’s energy into worthwhile adventuring projects that benefited the city that continued its recovery efforts.
13 Harvester, 592 CY
Greyjek return to Niol Dra after the completion of his assignments in the Cauldron region and took up teaching, sending some other poor schlock out to do the wetwork so often needed in the Council’s many interests. He began devoting himself to the research of immunities to mind-affecting abilities – such a nuisance with his preferred power suite – and ways to circumvent them. He brought all the knowledge of his experiences to the Elan, and their information in the south was greatly enhanced.
28 Harvester, 592 CY
Jarvyk liked his position as the Belmek ambassador to Cauldron. It was the day before Brewfest, admittedly his favorite of the four seasonal holidays, and the strong relations he had managed to foster between his home nation and the city of Cauldron ensured that there would be plenty of his favorite beverages available for the festivities. He felt a pang of regret at what he considered unfinished business with Adimarchus, but the demon prince had not seen fit to visit any obvious manner of retaliation upon the town or anyone involved with taking down the Cagewrights. Perhaps Greyjek had the right of it, and the elan’s overtures to the cult of Graz’zt were truly hampering any such effort Adimarchus might desire. Jarvyk desired closure, even after Ashton had delivered him to Mount Clangeddin itself so that he might speak with a proxy of his god. A powerful exarch of the Father of Battle had reassured that he’d served the Silverbeard well. He sighed, shaking off his heavy thoughts, and made his way back to the the Silver Phoenix house – now his house, he supposed – to rest up for the start of the Autumn festival.