The Shackled City

Ascending

2 Goodmonth, 592 CY (Continued)

After Deg searched the small bedchamber containing the demon fly’s fresh corpse, the party returned to the flesh golem lab. Then, something very peculiar happened. Bransen, the farmboy-turned-adrenalin junkie requested that the others give him time to see if he could summon the fallen celestial Saureya, whom he had met on Occipitus. The “sorcerer” decided that questioning the outsider might give the party greater insight that would help them defeat Adimarchus. Everyone decided that would be a good idea, and so they granted him his requested time.

They cleared as much space as they could, even going so far as to shove the large table against one set of the glass vats containing the flayed and faceless corpses. Bransen concentrated on the summoning for ten whole minutes, chanting and gesturing in ways that both Ashton and Greyjek could tell him were consistent with divine spellcasting. Still, the pair saved their breath as they knew their commentary would go unheeded. Jarvyk and Deg watched the exits as the minutes wore on, until eventually a light appeared in the center of the chamber. The somewhat startled figure of the astral deva, known to the Silver Phoenixes as Saureya, coalesced from this radiance moments later.

Bransen brought the celestial up to speed and then asked for him to tell the group everything he knew about Adimarchus that might be of use to them in defeating him. Saureya eventually did answer the question, after a fashion, stating that the Demon Prince was a true tanar’ri, with all of the physical traits common to that race. However, the deva also offered up suggestions as to the true orchestrator of their quest to seek out and destroy Adimarchus. They insisted that Kort had come from Moradin himself, giving them the key they would need to destroy the villain. Saureya scoffed and commented that the All Father was said to be a bit of a gambler. The entire thing seemed like one enormous set up of typical immortal proportions, and before departing he warned Bransen to consider the other possibilities and perhaps attempt to commune with a power he trusted. Then, just as suddenly as he had come, Saureya was gone.

The “sorcerer’s” commune spell revealed that the All Father was indeed being manipulated, but that it was not without His knowledge. Moradin did seem to be betting on the Silver Phoenixes, prodded toward Adimarchus by his servant Kort the Grey, into eliminating the Demon Prince, rather than letting him linger on in a cage that seemed to be failing. Nothing else they learned from the commune did anything to deter them from their chosen course, and so they decided to continue searching Skullrot for Adimarchus, that they might release him from his impervious cage and make an end of his meddling forever.

They swiftly destroyed a greater undead that Ashton called a devourer, which had been locked behind the other door leading from the golem lab, and proceeded to loot the study that it had been “guarding.” Among the magical items they discovered the remaining three Rings of Thirteen, a find which puzzled them more than a little. After bagging the treasures, they returned to the stinking central chamber and proceeded upward.

Dagonet chose to ascend one of the four sets of stairs quietly, while most of the others chose another. Greyjek eschewed the more conventional paths and instead levitated straight up from the center of the room, moving slowly so as not to outpace his companions. On the second floor they found four more hallways identical to the prison wings they’d seen on the first, again containing numerous outsiders of every origin bound within. Dagonet rejoined the others, then and they proceeded up to the third floor. Another pair of flesh golems and a massive hag known as an annis awaited them there.

The annis fell victim to Ashton’s finger of death after its initial charge, and mopping up the flesh golems was only a matter of time after Greyjek slowed them with a blast of cold energy. Deg efficiently looted the annis’s corpse, and the party proceeded upward.

On the fifth floor of the massive asylum, the cells changed. They were much smaller, and the occupants seemed mostly to be humanoids rather than outsiders. It was on the next three floors of Skullrot that the mystery of the Rings of Thirteen was solved. The Cagewrights who had fled from Shatterhorn to Carceri had apparently made their way to the asylum and become its newest inmates. Not one of the adventurers could keep a satisfied grin off of their face.

Quiet pleas for rest were overridden, and the adventurers continued upward, until they came to the very top floor of the asylum of Skullrot. The staircases led up to a twenty-foot-high chamber, the floor of which gave way to a forty-foot-wide square shaft in the middle of the room. A large iron cage was suspended over the shaft, its base level with the floor of the chamber. The cage itself was shaped like a coffin made of metallic bones, the bars studded with spikes and cruel hooks. No door was apparent on the cage, as if it had been constructed never to be opened. Slumped on the floor of the sinister prison was an angelic figure with purple skin, golden tattoo-like pattenrns crisscrossing its body, and wings of metallic gold feathers. It covered its face with its hands and appeared to be sobbing uncontrollably. The figure in the cage matched Saureya’s description exactly.

They had found Adimarchus.

His sinister warden hovered nearby.


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