The time is upon us, a raid on a Cannith prison Fortress. Will we free our friends or fail once again.
The plan is in motion, a week of preparations to stage an attack so we can slip into the prison and undertake the rescue. Chai spent sometime scrying, gaining an overview of the facility and the prisoners within. Since the destruction of the magic negation crystal, the prisoners have been harder to control, and left the guards stretched thin.
I packed a wooden box with a stable explosive, scribed a glyph of warding onto it, like the glyphed wooden desk we found on my first expedition with the guild, and strapped a sending stone to it, with Roza, we used the amulet to teleport to the island, and under the cover of darkness and an invisibility spell, we made our way to the outer wall of the prison, the opposite side to our intended entrance, finding the weakest part of the wall, I buried the box at the base of the wall, lying in wait to strike at its foundation and bring it down, hopefully to split their forces further, after burying the remote bomb, I used ‘word of recall’ to bring us home.
With our Rogue missing amidst coercion and betrayal, Radu hired a mercenary called Haltia, I haven't gotten to know him much, but he's more confident in his own abilities than anyone I've ever met before, I just hope Radu’s pockets are deep enough to keep him on our side.
Ront Axbrekka is also with us, he is a powerful monk and his skills may be incredibly useful during this mission, especially if they have another way to negate spell casting.
The morning of the extraction is upon us, we use the amulet to teleport us into place, Crystal Blackthorne has altered the amulet to allow a return trip, but it will only work once, we will have to join hands to allow it to transport all of us back.
Before the trip, I commune with Moradin, I see a vision, the presence of the Lodrom, Growbeck and Balthazar, deep below the fortress.
With a snap we teleport into place, the bulk of our forces attack the main gate with hit and run tactics, careful not to incur loss of life, Felix takes to the sky, strafing the ballistas.
I speak the codeword “Skaud” (Boom! In Dwarvish) into the sending stone to trigger the glyph, a explosive crack rings out as the wall of the other side of the fortress crumbles and collapses.
Chai uses stoneshape at our point of entry, making an entrance for us, we enter into a cell, a Goliath prisoner, clapped with manacles, starts screaming in anguish, Chai tries to calm him to no avail, he strikes out at her and backs away, manically blocking his cell door. I cast silence to bring quiet to the room and prevent the guards from overhearing. Haltia dashes forwards and swiftly cuts his throat, leaving the rest of us aghast, I rush to his aid, saving him and leaving him unconscious for the time being, Haltia deftly unlocks the cell door.
We go through into the hall, there is a central tower with stairs leading up, and an overview of all of the cells, but we can’t see a way down, a Gnome in a cell ushers us over, asks if we’re springing everyone, and if we can get him out, we ask if there’s a way down, but he says there isn’t, we ask about Lodrom, Growbeck and Balthazar, he’s seen them being taken to the lighthouse, right past the main gate and the heated battlefield, just our luck, Haltia springs him and we ask him to help other prisoners as he goes, particularly a halfling wizard Chai saw making a run for it, he promises to do so, I really hope he isn’t lying.
Chai messages Balthazar, he says he’s get ready for us, I try Lodrom, to no avail. Violet and Roza make the party invisible and we make a break for the lighthouse, skirting the edges of the battlefield, Felix is being pinned down by ballista fire, Roza breaks cover to launch a tremendous fireball, taking care of the main culprit, Felix shouts back a heartfelt thanks.
Re-triggering her invisibility, we make our way to the bridge, a small contingent of Cannith soldiers charge out of the lighthouse and onto the bridge, trying to flank our forces, Ront charges ahead, moving his hands in a swift flowing motion, a huge wave breaks and crashes onto the bridge, sweeping the soldiers into the watery depths.
Proceeding over the bridge, we reach the lighthouse and head inside, big empty walls at ground level, posters and propaganda above, very suspicious, Chai and Violet check the walls, while the rest of us check the rest of the room. They find an odd looking loose brick, pressing it triggers a mechanism under the floor, opening up a vast set of stairs heading down, deep into the dark, carefully reaching the bottom, we wind up in front of a large door with ancient, arcane runes etched deep into the grain. But Violet sees more, she sees them as a spectral horror, cogs whirring in her mind, we watch in awe as she sketches out a pattern with her hand, the runes singing with colour as she touches them in sequence, finally the runes dull and the door creaks open.
Before us is a long corridor, 3 archways on either side, covered by grills, in the first, Growbeck hangs by chains, he’s in bad shape, I cast healing word as Haltia fiddles with the lock, it’s ancient and in bad shape, he unlocks it, but breaks his thieves tools in the process. Growbeck stirs as we unchain him, his expression manic, and more unhinged than usual. Released, he pushes himself to his feet, eye darting around the room he lurches away from us, we ask him what’s going on, but he isn’t forthcoming, eyeing us suspiciously, he grunts that he’ll join the battle upstairs, he seems to be holding his axe, where in the hells did that come from?
Later we learn Growbeck was killed during his “interrogation”, while they brought him back to continue their line of questioning, what was mere moments in our world, was decades to him, decades spent fighting the blood war in Avernus, as per his deal with Zariel.
We continue down the corridor, the rest of the archways are empty, and we reach the door at the end, using clairvoyance, I check the other side of the door, it’s a laboratory, Balthazar is there, he’s tinkering away, his legs shackled to hinder his movement, two guards watch on.
I pass Haltia a spare set of thieves tools, to quietly unlock the door as the rest of ready ourselves to spring into action, the door swings open and the guards turn, but Balthazar is ready too, he pulls a peculiar looking instrument from the table, lightning shoots out, electrocuting both guards before sputtering it out, he casually throws it away, “took you long enough”. Looking over the room, I feel a familiar presence deep within my soul, Lodrom, but he’s nowhere to be seen, his hammer sits upon a table at the back of the room, I lift it, and feel his presence stronger than before, I reach out with a locator spell, but feel nothing else, just this hammer, is he gone, truly. Just his soul imbued to his trusty weapon?
Tears in my eyes, I clutch his hammer to my chest, feeling sick, it takes all of my strength to keep standing.
I turn to my friends, but they’re staring towards the lab entrance, the bandaged man stands there, striding into the room, he grasps him hand closed in the air, the tunnel behind him collapsing.
Balthazar is busy with removing his shackles as the party attacks, as I raise Lodroms hammer and empower them, Violet lashes out with powerful magic, but it bounces off him, he seems immune to magic just like before, retaliating, he cuts into Violet, knocking her back, Ront rushes forward, drawing air from his surroundings, thrusts his palms forwards, a violent gust envelopes the Bandaged man, but he barely takes a half step backwards, nothing seems to affect him, and he’s shrugging off everything that comes his way.
It all seems hopeless, but Roza takes pause, composing herself, she draws immense power from within, reaching out a hand, she points a single finger at the Bandaged Man, a thin, green ray springs from her finger, shooting out and hitting true, our enemy wretches in pain and hole is blasted clean through his chest and he collapses to the ground, roaring in pain, he slams his hand down, the room shakes and the ground moves…
Suddenly we’re rocketing skywards and the ceiling falls away, we’re standing atop a vast stone pillar shooting heavenwards, the sound of battle erupt around us as we fly blast the ground level battle, we catch a glimpse of Growbeck, naked as the day he was born, carving through Cannith soldiers.
The pillar reaches its peak, high above the battleground, the Bandaged Man flies into the air, the dark ooze beneath his dressings springs forth, forming into great claws, we barely escape his strikes, leaving trails of slime as he goes, they rise up, minions to keep us busy as he goes on the offensive again.
Ront pushes his palms together and flame erupts from them, catching the creatures and BM in the blast. I slam Lodroms hammer onto the ground, the stone shakes, below the vanguard slime, spectral blades, swirling upwards and clean through it, carving their way upwards and through the Bandaged Man, a maelstrom of blades dice through him, stripping away more armour and revealing the horror beneath.
Violet twists a Wall of Fire around the slimy servants and pushes the heat towards our greater foe, one of them bursts, covering Haltia in goops, much to his disgust.
The Bandaged Man tries to rally, gathering his power into a huge clawed tendril, he tries to sweep the platform, but the blades catch him first, enveloping him further, they slice and dice until can barely hold himself together, he hurtles downward, no longer capable of flight, but his magic was also sustaining the platform, without his power, it starts to crumble and collapse, Roza casts dimension door and pulls herself and the wounded Violet to safety, Ront deftly descends, Chai forms an orb around herself, bounding and rolling to safety. Balthazar has constructed himself some kind of parachute and floats down gingerly.
It seems only Haltia and I are left, we see Felix streaking across through the air, exchanging a glance we rush forwards and leap towards him, the elf seems to have springs in his feet, while I have rocks in my boots, he deftly lands on Felixs shoulder, but I fall short and start to plummet. Haltias landing though, triggers Felix to turn, he snatches me up in a great claw, I try to shout a thanks, but the air catches in my chest.
The bandaged man lies upon the ground below, surrounded by the debris from the pillar, there’s a break in the fighting as we regroup below, confronting his prone form. I call out to the Canniths to surrender as two rush forward to tend to him, when suddenly, tendrils shoot from his body and pierce them, draining them, the horror his armour contains starts convulsing and growing, taking the form of a colossal beast, claws, teeth and a spiked tail.
Its shuddering roar causes both sides to fall back in terror as the party ready themselves for round three.
As I look up at the beast, I feel an overwhelming presence, the spirit of Lodrom contained within the hammer I now hold.
I raise it aloft and call out to him, the ground quakes beneath me, and I’m rising once again, but this time the rubble has taken the form of Lodrom, standing proud in stone, I sit atop it, noticing the magnificent statue mimics my thought and movement, I look across at the vile beast, tightening my grip on the hammer, Lodroms form does the same, with a smile I charge forwards, he is with me, I swing the hammer down, the creature reaches up to guard itself, but we’re too strong, with the fury of Moradin, we drive the creature downwards, slamming it into the ground and pinning it there.
The party rushes in, and starts slicing and pummeling, Violet hurls an enormous fireball and it writhes in pain, Chai rushes in with a great Goblin war cry, she unleashes a guiding bolt at point blank range, and starts cracking its skull, fury of the small indeed.
Roaring out, it gathers its strength and starts to regain its footing, whipping its tail around, it strikes out at Chai, the spike piercing her stomach, a vile poison spreading through her body and blackening her veins.
But Haltia rushes forwards finding his opening as he thrusts his rapier deep into a vital spot, the creature staggers and slumps, collapsing to the ground, the ooze beneath starts seeping out once again, there’s no way we’re letting this thing get away again, as the power I summoned fades, I unleash it in the form of a Sacred Flames, burning away the ooze in radiant light.
But there’s no time to celebrate, the stunned Cannith forces have started to rally, Balthazar produces a makeshift cannon constructed from scraps and sets it off, scattering their vanguard. I cast mass cure wounds, joining hands across the battlefield, we connect with the amulet and teleport back to the Outpost, the amulet crumbling to dust.
But all isn’t well, looking down, Chai isn’t moving, the healing didn’t work, the poison prevented the magic from taking hold, I cast lesser restoration, and stem the spread of the poison, but she’s still not breathing, she is dead in my arms…
Rifling through her pockets, I pull out the diamonds she set aside and start casting revivify. I call out the Lodrom and Moradin to help guide her soul back to the material world.
Beyond the veil of life, Chai stands at a crossroads, her Goddess speaks softly, and asks, does she want to return to the land of the living, or continue her journey beyond? She says that she doesn’t think she’s ready yet, there’s still something for her to do, the Godess smiles and guides her as she follows the path back to us.
She awakens, but looks around with sadness, still in physical pain, something else is wrong, the world no longer looks the same, for her, all colour has drained from the world.
Haltia takes this opportunity to present the bill for his services, and Radu steers him away to discuss reimbursement.
We’ve accomplished our goal, but the cost has been great, and we’re still counting our losses.
I’ve lost my adoptive father, the Dwarf who raised me and guided my entire life is gone, but I still feel his presence when I hold his hammer, and I pray that feeling never leaves me, not while there is still work to be done.