Silt Striders of Balic

The Sundering of Hell

Fleeing desperately from the portal to Lutherna, Samm, Rikard, Tarek, and Tan dive through in to Dispater’s iron tower once more. Tan’s escape is cut short by the talons of an angel of the Raven Queen, and they dig deep in to his calf shredding the muscle. He cuts the leg off at the knee to escape, being carried by his able-bodied friend Tarek.

Realizing very quickly they need someone who knows portals to shut down this entryway before both armies can spill in to Hell, Rikard begins rapidly casting the Raise Dead ritual with the trapped remainder of Althaea’s soul. Samm bottlenecks the encroaching horde and puts himself between Rikard and them, while Tarek and Tan hold off the forces of Dispater from the other end. Eventually, Althaea’s soul is raised and the portal is sealed, for now.

Meanwhile, back in Dispater’s chambers Vorelixen, Titivilus, Baalzebub, and Keltinjin leap in to action, trying to secure both Dispater and Hamanu before the two can flee. It becomes readily apparent that these two beings are far too powerful to be corralled in this way, and that they’ll have to focus on a single one to apprehend allowing the other to escape. While this scrambling fracasse is going on, the heroes downstairs have split up to navigate the treacherous and winding route through the Iron Tower, relying on their muscle and wit to defeat the many obstacles set by the paranoid devil lord above.

Eventually the group arrives, just in time to see Hamanu cement his escape through powerful planar magic Althaea has trouble tracking. When the brawl ensues between the group and Dispater, Dispater stands little chance and is eventually beheaded by Vorelixen, who claims his skull as part of her trophy collection. The crumbling of the rulership of Dis has other repercussions however, as the constant planar tweaking by creatures like Althaea and Hamanu and the dissipation of the protective wards weaved by Dispater himself has exposed the plane to outside invasion. The planar tearing accelerates ripping massive holes to the far realm and other places already conquered by it, and all of Hell goes to war on multiple fronts. Demons sense the time is right to invade and in mere minutes the plane is a whirling maelstrom of demonic shock troops, infernal defenders, devil lords including the mightiest Asmodeus, millions of unknown Far Realm creatures, and at the head of it all is Mara riding an enormous and bloated Beholder going toe to toe with the prince of Hell himself.

The group is swept up in it while trying to make their escape, and while they’re able to watch the trapped souls of Hell escape they shortly find themselves in a ruined village. Corpses piled up appear to have been partially eaten, while thatched roof homes are on fire. Numerous other corpses are here as well, horrifically tortured troll victims. Althaea is quick to point out that this appears to be a realm of Hamanu’s construction, where he must vent his anger and frustration on these trolls. This miniature plane appears to be the village of Deche, a long forgotten hamlet that Hamanu dwelled in before discovering the power that made him a sorcerer king. Following them here was Vintner the star cultist and the one-legged Tan, though the rest of their friends and allies were nowhere to be found. Though a few other Hellish denizens wound up deposited there as well, Althaea’s grasp of planar travel enabled them to return to Athas.

They found themselves in front of the city of Altaruk, though the night sky was dotted by an ominous purple star that seemed to hang low in the sky, tempting stargazers to look upon it. The Star of Madness had arrived, and to view its light was to go insane.

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Kowal

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