To face this mysterious sky lizard, we kept a team scrying its lair in order that we would know when it returned. When the mage on duty ran away screaming, Mr Tiddles teleported us into the cavern entrance. When we came back some time later, the horde of treasure was with us and took several days to catalogue. If you want to know more about the fight, you’ll need to find someone who’s heard Alexei’s Ode to the Battle. That shouldn’t be too hard…
The corrupted gold dragon had spotted the scrying sensor and breathed acid upon us as we arrived. I threw down the adamantine fortress of being a small cube most of the time that Alexei had made Svetlana for the two of them to hide in whilst the others started laying into the beast. Husbit summoned an ice devil to assist us, as Alexei had learnt this creature was vulnerable to cold. I managed to hit it once with the crossbow and on my 2D10 of damage rolled… 2.* The dragon summoned a meteor to take out the fortress, as it was right in the entrance to prevent the beast escaping. It was utterly destroyed, but saved the lives of Svetlana and Alexei trembling inside. Husbit jumped to the Ethereal plane and hid in the rocks after I’d made use of Alexei’s cloak of shadows to shadowstep further into the cave.
Despite taking massive amounts of damage and being very, very grateful for Alexei’s ranged healing (courtesy of the mythic hierophant ability ‘faith’s reach’) and Kieran’s ‘heal mount’ (without which we would be one griffin down), we prevailed. As Kieran swung his bastard sword round to deliver the killing blow, he and Svetlana (and possibly Aaron) saw it lean its head in towards the blade, as though it wanted to die. The head flew off to land at Svetlana’s feet… and we suddenly were back in Drezen surrounded by treasure. The fight had lasted maybe 30 seconds but a day had passed.
Alexei quickly explained that we must never speak of the creature to anyone in Golarion. It was a member of a race that had lived here previously but had become too powerful so various deities had banished them. This one had either managed to avoid that or had managed to find its way back, becoming corrupted along the way. But the deities had removed all record of these beasts from the minds of mankind and if we were ever to speak of it then they would similarly remove us from history. It would be ok to speak of the creature in general terms – as per Alexei’s Ode (this being Husbit’s fourth natural 20 on a perform/craft check to produce artwork when he doesn’t have skills but insane charisma) – but we must never describe it. The only reason we remember it is because Alexei/Husbit didn’t think we’d want our heads messed with more than they already were, with the being taken out of time whilst Alexei and his patron dealt with the aftermath before returning us to Drezen. And that’s why this is being told OC – don’t want to risk losing my lovely Svetlana!
Alexei’s Ode is very popular and, after that poem he wrote at my wedding and the painting he did of Natalya, he’s finally been caught by a fan-boy who wants to be his apprentice, Graycen Silversong. And every time I think of my wedding and my husband and my motherand my friends outside the Worldwound, homesickness threatens to overwhelm me. Noleski chats to me often, keeping me up to date with the news from Brevoy, but it’s not the same as being there with him and I can’t speak to Mum or any of the others.
But back to the task at hand. Whilst the treasure was being sorted and prepared for transport back to Brevoy and the Dawnlands, Alexei rested to recover from his part in the battle, dealt with Mr Silversong and then started scrying for the succubus Arueshalae. He found her sitting in the bell tower of a church in the ruins of a castle with demons starting to surround it – she looked up, seeing the small sensor, and Alexei introduced himself to her. She quickly gave some landmarks to help us find her, roughly 3 days’ march away. We hopped onto Brutus and were there in a couple of hours to deal with the hag and small group it led trying to reach Arueshalae. She was, at least, protected by the bell tower, an artefact extending a field the demons could not enter. As we approached the tower, she came running out armed with a bow to assist us in dispersing them – surprised and pleased we’d already finished the job. She was also pleased to hear the Sword of Valour had been restored and Drezen was safe once more.
Her greatest concern was these nahyndrian crystals that were mentioned in Staunton Vhane’s journal – the ones that gave him his power and created the monstrosity we fought on the bridge. She knew they were mined and refined at various places in the Worldwound, but didn’t know where. Her best lead was the Ivory Labyrinth… but she didn’t know where that was, either. What she did know, however, was the location of an outpost run by Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth and she could lead us there. En route, Alexei quizzed her about someone named ‘Jerribeth’. Arueshalae explained Jerribeth was a Glabrizu demon, second in command and given the ability to shape-shift by Baphomet – a dangerous individual.
The outpost was a shrine cut into the side of a cliff. Statues stood guard at the entrance, and many more inside. The first room had at its head a statue of the demon lord Baphomet; the surrounding statues had been corrupted from those celebrating Abadar. Kieran winced as he entered, quickly casting a hallow effect that caused the goat-headed statue to crumble. The feeling of oppression lifted and we continued in.
As Evander (who has been acting more and more erratically of late) entered, noisy in his armour, a group of six Templars ran through the door that had been obscured by the statue. Alexei summoned his deepest voice and thundered at them to surrender or die: two turned to flee the room but were prevented from leaving by a third. The other three charged towards Alexei, to be tripped by Evander and his flail. Four of the Templars were killed in the short skirmish that followed – Evander abandoning his flail and short sword to beat one to death with his fists. The remaining two were unhelpful as the others tried to question them, so I let my curiosity get the better of me and snuck away through the door.
I followed the corridor along through the mountain until I reached a room furnished with a bed and a writing desk – and occupied by a woman and her beastie. She fired her crossbow at me – a small bolt in my shoulder, just enough to hurt rather than cause any real injury so I approached, rapier drawn, to fight off the beast. A pit opened beneath – magic, I suspect, rather than a trap – and in I tumbled, feather fall protecting me from harm. She took pot shots at me as I used spiders’ climb to get me out of there. To be honest, we were pretty evenly matched – neither able to do much damage. She summoned a shield of spinning knives around her, so I focused on her pet eidelon and eventually she managed to paralyse me with hold person and teleport away – just as the others realised I was missing and came to rescue me. Ah well. In her writing desk were papers from which we were pretty sure we could locate the Ivory Labyrinth itself, and off we went.
An illusory wall by the Green Gate – to the east of the Marshland and the west of the road. Actually fairly easy to find once you have a few clues and know the former extent of the forest known as the Green Gate. A small group of basilisks lazed by the entrance, but Keiran befriended one and gently guided the others out of our path. Bernadette, as he named his new friend, helped us when we reached the gate by petrifying one of the minotaurs standing guard on the other side of the portcullis – he left her eating its remains once we had dispatched the rest and were inside the courtyard ourselves.
We went inside the ‘labyrinth’, slightly apprehensive with our awareness that only Baphomet had previously escaped its confines. Skulking around the ground floor, I accidentally woke two minotaurs. As they stood and prepared to charge us, Alexei apologised and closed the door… that they promptly charged through, making them easy pickings and allowing us to liberate a few more items rendered ownerless before continuing round to another room, furnished with a writing desk and an enormous bed. A huge elven woman with long, green hair lounged there beside the corpse of a Templar. From the tang of blood in the air, he hadn’t been dead long. This was Jerribeth. She shifted into her true form – scaled, with extra arms – but it wasn’t enough to save her from a paladin’s wrath.
*To be honest, it was a bit of a night of rolling 1’s: we’ve just hit mythic tier 6, unlocking ‘force of will’ which enables us to use a mythic chip to re-roll a D20. Most of my mythic chips went on that, and I still ended up with critical failures.