Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus

The Darkest Night

Goodmonth 7, 636 CY

Dearest Thereca,

There is so much to cover in this letter, I hope you’ll excuse me rushing ahead. We went to the city of Hollowfaust to confront the Suel Lich that had caused Kylie so much pain and trouble. The necromancers in the city were all too happy to let us deal with the problem as they feared being possessed by the lich once his current host was dealt with. We were given a room that was warded and a pretense was used to get him to the location.

It turns out he was a summoner in life, so Loreli wasted no time in calling forth her Rainicorn to battle his eidolon — a giant undead bat. The Rainicorn made quick work of the creature, firing one of his prismatic rays that plane shifted it to a positive energy plane. We charged the Lich and managed to do a significant amount of damage very quickly despite the petty undead he summoned to try to protect himself. The fight seemed over very quickly, except that his soul somehow managed to escape the wards. We paused for a moment, wondering what to do next.

And then the roof was torn off. The Lich had fled to the Bonewrack — a construct crafted by the necromancers from the bodies of three dragons a long time ago as a weapon to protect themselves. While many of us found the very thought utterly abhorrent, Kylie promised that the intent all along was to lay the dragons to rest. With our purpose clear, we assaulted the creature. Again, the fight was far faster than we had expected, but mainly because of an explosively good shot by Idrys. Striking it’s weakest point, he broke open the box that contained the dragons’ hearts and crippled the construct.

It plummeted from the ceiling and was met by Faern’s mighty hammer which has the power to lock things in place. Jeremy used his abilities to pull the Lich from the construct and sealed it away for good. With our job done, the Hollowfaustians gave us lavish accommodations and some time to regroup while some of our members attended to important matters.

We were only there a short time when we heard the footsteps of something gigantic headed our way. I immediately grabbed Devil Breaker and headed outside. Where I was greeted by the looming stone face of an animated statue of Nerull. The Night Father declared “Beware the darkest night!” and turned to leave. I suppose I should have showed him more respect, but I’ve honestly had my fill with cryptic warnings. He had nothing more to add, however, and seemed tolerant of our frustrations.

Concerned, we took the airship back to Greyhawk City where my colleagues went to do more research. Ardes had returned from the Amedio Jungle in time for our jaunt to the home of the necromancers, but seemed to have someone he wanted to pay a visit to before he told us what he learned. Faern, Tulla, Jevan, Qui, Marsys, Villius, Idrys and I all spent several days at the library. I will confess that my own research was far more mundane than theirs. I’ve been trying to decipher the convoluted mess of betrothal and wedding traditions of our ancestors. A bit embarrassing, in comparison.

One night, out of the blue, we heard alarms beginning to sound in the great library. The staff seemed confused, but the sound of loud explosions drew us to the windows. We saw a black, opaque dome suddenly around Castle Greyhawk and, far worse, a strange rift in the sky that shot forth a dark energy that blasted apart the tower where the Circle of Eight was meeting! The rift shifted and fired another beam which Jevan realized would have struck the school of magic. The sky was utterly black as no moons or stars could be seen. The moons were there, Tulla explained, but there was no light for them to reflect to Oerth. Something was wrong with the sun!

I questioned the staff about the alarm and they alerted me that it would summon every mage in the city. But the library was not under threat. I realized immediately something was terribly wrong and asked how I could turn off the bells. The librarian, dismayed, told me that someone was near the roof ringing the bells manually. Tulla, Qui and I hurried up the many stairs.

Meanwhile, Marsys, Idrys and Faern went to the courtyard where they discovered bombs filled with more of Bartholomew’s worms. Only these vile things were designed to infect magic users and eat their power. Marsys began disarming them while Faern used his divine blessings to consecrate the ground.

I wasn’t surprised to see Bartholomew standing by the bells when Tulla and I arrived, but I immediately felt a presence much more powerful than the Black Rider’s pawn. The evil was nearly overwhelming, and I instantly felt sick. Devil Breaker alerted me that it was Asmodeus possessing him! The King of All Devils seemed amused by us until Tulla cast a flamestrike spell on him, and I struck him with Devil Breaker. Obviously weakened by being in Bart’s body, Amodeus still seemed shocked that he was harmed at all. We pressed our attack, and he pulled out a nasty trick — a sphere of annihilation. With little other choice, Tulla, Qui and I continued the assault.

Fortunately for us, we had an ally waiting in the wings. The Hand of Chance arrived and dropped down to stab the Devil King with a key shaped sword. Staggered, Asmodeus lost control of the sphere, and Tulla was able to capitalize on his broken concentration. She dismissed the dangerous thing immediately. Frustrated, Asmodeus leapt away from us to the ground. I intended to follow, but barely managed to block a strike from the suddenly appearing Death Knight, Badr al Din. Rolling us off the roof, I was able to make sure he hit the ground first.

At this point, all of my fellows had gathered from the rest of the city and were prepared to fight. It seemed we were unneeded, however, when a strange old man arrived. Asmodeus made to cast a powerful spell, but nothing happened. Obviously cut off from his magic, the Devil King and his death knight fled rather than risk defeat.

We questioned the old man, who Tulla realized was the embodiment of the Gem of the Flanaess spoken of in the stories about the Heroes of the Key. He told us that the castle was sealed off, but that the Lord Mayor was harassing the unwelcomed fiendish guests. Pelor was trapped in Zagyg’s infamous god trap, and we would need a fragment of the sun god in order to free him. Our first thought was the Emperor of the Isle of Pearls, but that was dashed by the revelation that such a thing would be fatal for Akihiro.

Jack and his crew arrived in time for the explanation. Hesitantly, in a way that surprised me a bit, Jack revealed that he knew where to find such a fragment. There was a lost temple of Pelor hidden under the sea and, evidently, his old pirate mentor would be able to help us find it. He was reluctant to go see the man since he would also have to explain that his uncle was missing. Something that would likely upset this “old man.” In the end he was willing to go, but suggested we go to the Isle of Pearls while he was setting up a meeting. Akihiro and his people might have further information for us. And we would probably have to persuade the brave emperor that his sacrifice would not, in fact, be required.

The conversation then turned to the fact that Devil Breaker was able to harm Asmodeus at all. I was confused, thinking that it was merely the fact that Asmodeus was weaker in his borrowed body. Others did not seem to think it was such an obvious thing. Devil Breaker explained that it was Heironeous who had charged Arnd with the forging of six holy items, including Arnd’s invulnerable coat and a shield. Our ancestor was not merely a follower of his, but a true companion. My sword seemed to have it’s proverbial blood up from all the excitement and declared the other items to be “slackers” and felt that our ancestor shouldn’t be considered “second” to Arnd considering the fact that we, his descendants, had remained on the righteous path. Devil Breaker mused that Balthasar likely has Arnd’s coat somewhere.

Greyhawk City — and yes, it’s strange to say that — suggested that Aislin might provide us with some help since Bartholomew was her brother’s creation. He seemed to believe she might be freer to work her powers and assist us with her brother now that the Mad God’s prison was more fully sealed. Villius then posed that we speak to Taren about what she knows of our enemies plans.

Things seem quite grim at the moment, but we have a plan of action. I admit, I’m interested in meeting the old gentleman who taught Jack to be a pirate. I wonder what he is like…

Oh, and after reading through those books on Oeridian wedding traditions, I finally understand why our second cousin buying his fiancee a rooster was considered such a hilarious, if ribald, joke. Some of our customs are very strange indeed.

Yours devotedly,
Wilhelmina Stalwarth

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