Though the armies cheer for their successes on Avernus, the group is in a period of mourning and honest surprise at Althaea’s death, as she had survived so much that seemed impossible for her to fall. Their various attempts to scry or raise her had failed, and the only means that detected her was a very special ritual performed by the vizier of the Imperator – Vintner Al-Ghaz, with a dark scry from his order.
This scry backfires, colossally, as the sensor works both ways and they are beset by the Raven Queen’s talons. Vintner suffers extensive injuries from her wrath before the scry is dispelled, and the challenge is made to Samm – if you want her soul, come take it.
Rikard reclaimed Althaea’s Bloodstone weapon after she fell, and on contact with the kin of its creator a new planar power was revealed to him – like a compass, it would point directly towards the nearest planar disfunction. In this case, down through the plug and in to Dis, towards the Iron Tower of Dispater.
As the army descends through the ruined plug of Avernus, their soldiers are assaulted by winged predators, choking ash, devilish assailants, and other horrors. The survivors regroup at the base of the landing before the main gates of the Iron City of Dis. In an instant, Samm observes a grinning devil with a hand upon a lever on the walls above. As instinct he uses his Boarding Boots and launches himself up the wall to prevent this satisfied devil from enacting whatever plan he’s hatched, and this moment everything begins to go haywire.
The lever is one of many which causes the landing to tip and bob in to the molten rock below it, where Rikard and Vorelixen still stand with most of their troops. Samm is unable to stop the horde of devils from reaching levers, but he can delay them. Meanwhile, Kwalish in his massive construct is attempting to smash down the gates of the city, but he is attacked by an enormous devilish creature some 60 feet in length. As the construct battles the devilish Kaiju, more and more of the troops (not to mention their Imperator) are overwhelmed by thousands of devilkin though eventually the mad inventor is able to dispatch his opponent and obliterate the gates permitting entry for their armies to penetrate Dis’ outer walls.
In the chambers of Dispater, the devil lord holds conference with a number of other figures. He spits some venom at one of his female guests before ordering his right-hand man, the Nuncio Titivilus, to claim a favor owed by the devil lord Glassya. Their conversation is interrupted by Mara, who is aware that Dispater will need something of value to offer Glassya in spite of this favor. She offers up none other than the tainted acorn used as Rikard’s phylactery, which she has looted from the old Bloodstone complex during their months away.
The protections of Dispater’s Iron Tower prevent any groups of interlopers from reaching his chambers with a number of sneaky ways thought up by its paranoid leader, though the greatest hindrance is that no group of 3 or more beings can find their way anywhere in there, often dying from the suffocating heat, enclosing iron walls, or simple starvation. To thwart these protections, Vorelixen and Hamanu move through the keep with the intent of finding Dispater at its heart, while Samm and Rikard split off to go find whatever temporal disturbance the Dolorous Blade directs them to.
The Blade leads them directly to Lutherna, where they are surprised by two friendly faces – Tan and Tarek, who’ve somehow out-stealthed the protective magics of the Iron Tower and tailed Samm and Rikard. The four of them enter in to the plane with an explosive arcane device created by Kwalish with the intent of staging a prison break for Althaea’s soul. With surprising effectiveness, they are able to break in to the Raven Queen’s museum of death and elude the attention of her or any of her guards until the very moment that their device is activated. At the same time, for reasons none could explain, a second device was activated causing the entire plane to split and a horde of far realm creatures to descend on it like vultures. While angels dueled far realm horrors, the four made their escape with a glass case containing Althaea’s soul.
Meanwhile back in Hell, Dispater’s chambers were tossed open by Hamanu and Vorelixen who had found their prey, though it was revealed to be a ruse as Hamanu had made a deal to bring Vorelixen to her former master in exchange for favors regarding the future of his city. The betrayal was short-lived, as Titivilus revealed his own betrayal bringing not Glassya, but Keltinjin of Cania back to the chambers. Another unwelcome guest was the devil lord Baalzebul, who also appeared at this time. With realization none of his plans will come to fruition, Hamanu’s shoulders drop.