Dead Gods

6/24/14
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The Thunder Twins

• Prior to returning to the Black Gate, Fenix and Gullah decided to start without Desthro who had missed their pre-arranged meet time. Fenix informed Gullah they would be arriving in the air, so Gullah went ahead and put on his air walk. Unfortunately, Fenix did not tell Gullah how high he was going to place them, as they arrived over 100ft. in the air.

• What met them was surprising to say the least. What had not been destroyed in the Inner Ring of the Black Gate was now leveled by the thrashings of the colossal worm that had made its way out into the city still laying destruction as it flailed about as if in great pain.

• They also noticed the entire area was full of a variety of demons, particularly the winged variety. Of these the most numerous seemed to be chasme and vrocks. They screeched and buzzed around while Fenix blazed a path to the gate invisibly attempting to take control of the gate and force it open as before.

• For his own part, Gullah pushing his now all too slow air walk spell to the limit trying to run towards the Black Gate. He thought he might make it but it was going to be close. Although it took seconds, to him it felt much much longer.

• As he continued running, at what to him felt like in place, Desthro finally appeared above them with a fly spell already active. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten to prepare Karl-N, who plummeted past Gullah towards the ground being the first to reach Fenix who continued to struggle with the gate.

• By the time Gullah arrived Desthro was with him and Fenix had finally forced the gate to open where he thought they wanted to go. It turned out fortunately, to be very similar to the architecture of the previous abyssal fortress but this time they were below ground with the only light coming from a glowing river of molten metal with the sound of a forge coming from somewhere in the dark corridors.

• From another direction, Fenix swore he heard the sound of unrecognizable chanting. They decided to try that direction and this battle proved significantly easier than the last. Of the twins, they struck down one swiftly and demanded the surrender other. She surrendered, offering to tell them how to leave this level on the condition they let her live.

• Once the party agreed, she told them that all the demon-cysts were connected in some way or another. In the tributary of what was in fact a massive river of molten metal that fed the demon-forges. She told the party that if they attempted to follow the river either up or downstream it would take them to the bordering demon-cysts.

• The party then left the huge winged giantess to her fallen brother while returning to the river. First they made certain their energy immunity would protect them from the flames and heat. Certain it was working, they decided to risk it jumping in to head downstream. Their world seemed to turn off.

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The Master of the Abyssal Fortress

• Full of piss and wind, the party decided to make short work of the forts leadership to put a stop to any other resistance. Their captured abyssal giant led them directly into the central keep where the master of the cyst proved to be a hulking demonic figure winged in the long shadows. Before he could even speak, the party immediately attacked but found their most valiant efforts ineffectual while the snarling figure began to call in his friends.

• Over the next 30 seconds, that seemed forever the party, even Karl-N failed to harm the infernal, who in turn summoned four balors while the giant’s around him died like flies.

• The party found themselves frustrated however, as the majority of their attacks and spells proved ineffectual. They did manage to harm him in some ways, but what damage was done was healing faster than they could keep up the assault.

• Then, a moment of brilliant inspiration. The party turned all of their attacks onto the balors managing to slay them in quick succession, and the resulting implosions from their deaths was enough to slay the [infernal]] while Gullah and Karl-N struggled to keep healing the party, while everything else died horribly, especially all the abyssal giants and including Desthro’s last Karl-R.

• The party barely survived, but they had spent every resource at their disposal. They were then met with another shocker when Fenix attempted to teleport them out and his magic failed. Karl-N reminded them that they were in technically in the abyss and it would take more than that to escape, and once they were out there was no guarantee they could return here. Taking stock of their situation, the party decided to try and flee using Gullah’s gate which fortunately worked and Fenix was then able to teleport the party to Bulta.

• Just before leaving however, Desthro took a moment to leave a vivid illusion to the keep’s master dying over and over (with a bit of embellishment) to make sure the keep’s inhabitants understood.

• Then again, the party decided to take another personal day, which turned into two primarily while Desthro put his affairs in order.

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Crossing Over

• Over the following morning, Desthro’s new Karl-N told them much they had not known and left them certain they would need to cross into Val Murthag to find Tenebrous. They also learned that, in all likelihood Tenebrous had acquired what he sought in Telflamm, an artifact know as The Thief of Lost Charms, and why.

• This meant facing the haunted ruins, but Karl-N knew the way. In the plains beyond the city is where Fenix teleported them and they began to move towards the distant walls. They faced down undead demons but then came upon a party of adventurers doing the same. Several Damaran knights accompanying a priestess of some sort and a lithe figure introduced as their guide.

• After the introductions, a basic understanding was reached and cooperation agreed upon. No sooner was this decided than Desthro immediately attempted to dominate one of the knights ordering him to slay the other. At his command Karl-N attacked the priestess. It was over quickly but their guide dissipated into shadow escaping.

• Now joined by Karl-L, the party continued on facing huge undead troll creatures carrying battered unrecognizable harness. After finishing them, the party decided to pick up the pace and get to the Black Gate as quickly as possible to conserve their strength. They faced more of the trolls, but reached the inner court yard in good time.

• Initially unconcerned by the three vrocks perched atop the monolithic obsidian like double doors. It was when the vrocks did not attack they noticed a ghostly apparition kneeling down and casting something over the ground in front of him. Karl-N had warned them of the gates unpredictable guardian, one of the ancient demon-priests of the Narfelli Empire.

• They were close enough to almost make out his scowling visage when he vanished. They did notice what appeared to be an at first a earthworm growing rapidly between them and the gate. Rather than face it, Fenix remembered what Karl-N had said about usurping control of the gate to force open the doors. He managed to force them open against an opposing will that may have been the gate or the guardian. He did not care so much where it led as forcing it open.

• The entire party followed suit rushing around the thrashing worm while Fenix struggled with the gate. Once it opened they rushed through crossing over into what was likely a demoncyst, but found themselves in an ancient keep under alien skies. They had little time to wonder as they were almost immediately spotted by a number of unfamiliar giants. Of these most were soon slain, but one taken by Desthro.

• This one told them who was in charge within the keep and where to find their leader and laughed at their presumption.

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A Midsummer Night

Desthro claimed he needed a day to himself again, and the other two agreed happy to discuss amongst themselves what should be done next. Their general consensus was that they would have no choice but to follow the original path of the fel orcs into the ruins of Val Murthag to put a stop to the attacks. For his own part, Desthro began a new clone farm to ensure the survival of select Karl’s, most notably Karl-G.

• During Desthro’s absence, Fenix and Gullah noted the town of Telflamm was in the midst of festival preparations for Midsummer’s Eve, and the all day party that would be ongoing on Midsummer – tomorrow. Both of them however, were too perturbed over the notion there enemies were watching them to get into the spirit of the festival. That night however, with Gullah in a tavern room and Fenix on his isle, demonic assassins attempted to murder them in the night.

• It was not until late on Midsummer 1373 DR, that Desthro finally returned for Karl-B, bringing with him his sole remainig Karl-R as his personal guard wishing to find his erstwhile allies. Unbeknownst to the party, Desthro had also been attacked late in the afternoon by a strange, heretofore unknown demon on his own island but had defeated the demonic assassin.

• When Desthro stepped out from his Telflamm house however, he was the first to notice the current of panic spreading through the streets as he made his way to the seedy waterfront tavern. Decidedly un-festival like cries had begun to ring out from the city’s southern Shou town and smoke had begun to rise by the time he reached the tavern. Before he stepped in, he took a moment to cast a powerful illusion in the sky over the area to draw attention for his own inscrutable reasons, but sent Karl-R to investigate keeping Karl-B close.

• Within the tavern, he found it fairly rowdy and noisy and quietly found a seat near Fenix and Gullah while Sara fetched him a drink. Nobody seemed aware of what was going on outside, but he quickly discovered that Fenix and Gullah in the midst of discussing how they had both been attacked alone by demonic assassins but had proven victorious. Fenix had been at his own island when attacked while Gullah had been in his wooden hot tub.

• It was then that Fenix finally heard the ruckus outside, and decided to head out for a look. To the south, people were pointing and shouting but when he looked all he saw was another floating Desthro advertisement full of bright lights signifying nothing. Grumbling he went back into the tavern and finished his drink.

• That went on until a distant explosion and rumble shook the very tavern around them and everyone began to notice something was amiss. Grumbling again, Fenix headed for the door, this time in a flurry of theatrics cast aside his human guise becoming Fenix yet again standing proudly and waiting to be noticed. The regulars however, had become accustomed to this and went back to their drinking glad somebody not them was on it.

• Fenix flew up and south, but once outside he noticed people running panicked in all directions. He took to the air, and discovered now three columns of smoke were arising, one from the south towards Desthro’s floating billboard, another near the eastern gates, and another to the north within the keep proper. At random he decided to first investigate to the south.

• While he did this, Karl-R returned and reported to Desthro all that he had seen of numerous orcs and demons pouring into the city. Shou town to the south was already burning and many were dying. Gullah took Sara with him, and she helped him into his armor and then took refuge in Barthlemy’s secret cubbyhole. Desthro asked if Karl-B could hide with her, and she agreed. Karl-R on the other hand, he sent out to join the other orcs in pillaging the city.

• Fenix had returned swiftly by this point, and reported what he had seen to the south of an open gate, and the orcs pouring out. He was certain there were at least two other locations being attacked, and reported at least one of those huge minotaur like demons they had witnessed at Uthmere battering the walls of the great keep.

• After a quick discussion, they decided to put a stop to whomever was holding open the gate to the south. Fenix magicked them there and attacking from the air, the battle was joined and the open gate faded from view. Fenix and Gullah made short work of all the soldiers and demons still around the gate, while Desthro took down the armored orc and converted him to a new Karl, Karl-N. They were all troubled by the certainty that this was the self-same orc they had struck down outside the ruins of Val Murthag just the day before.

• There was no time for questions, and a quick recon suggested that the city was doomed even as Uthmere and they could not save it. So they returned to the tavern and fetched Sara and Karl-B. Uncertain of where to go that would be safe, Fenix suggusted an island none would think to check and successfully teleported them all there. An island named Bulta, one of those few islands which he had made tributary. Karl-R was left to sack the city with his former comrades.

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Delaying the Inevitable

• The party returned instead to the seedy waterfront tavern in Telflamm to recuperate from their struggle against Eltab fearing what might come up from the ruins while they were wounded and unprepared. Over another day of drinking, Gullah and Fenix decided to take a closer look at the passage of the orcs to the southeast. Desthro was not seen.

• As they moved through the haunted landscape that lay spread out before the distant cyclopean blackened walls, Fenix spotted an imp lurking among the ruins. He followed the creature and led the party directly to the imp’s mistress who was swiftly overcome by Desthro. Upon closer inspection and speaking with her, she revealed that she was in fact a Red Wizard come up from Thay to the south to explore these ruins, but her guards had been slain by wandering undead leaving her stranded in hiding. Until she became Karl-B.

• Following her capture and being deposited in Telflamm, the party continued exploring to the southeast for several days encountering a variety of undead and demons as well as ghastly conglomerations of the two. It only took a couple days of this to make them even less interested in crossing within those towering black walls.

• In the midst of those two days though, Fenix decided to check in on Fenris’ longship, The Harlot. To his surprise, Fenris was there back in charge. In a moment of strange delirium he recalled throwing Fenris’ body overboard on this very ship, yet Fenris greeted him claiming to have been restored to life by Desthro. To which, Fenix’s eyes burned and he immediately mazed Fenris and ordered the crew to sail or die. They sailed. By the time the maze came to an end, the ship had moved on and ‘Fenris’ dropped into the open sea.

• On their third day of exploring the haunted wasteland beyond the walls, their enemies finally made a move to stop them. Again as before, a gate opened and a handful of fel orcs rushed out around the party, who by now had learned the value of sticking together as they had been unable to shake the nagging suspicion that they were being watched.

• While it was difficult for the party to tell the orcs apart, they did recognize the fairly massive orc with the large clawed and bladed gauntlets. They were also fairly certain the last armored orc to step through had been the one who opened the gate. It was the blade-fisted orc they feared most however, and the party quickly took to the skies to leave the reavers scattered out below.

• Unfortunately, matters took a sour turn swiftly as the two Karl’s left on the ground were overwhelmed. Karl-Z was the first to explode into gibblets while the armored orc who had opened the gate laughed loudly and long at this. Karl-G found himself overrun by the blade-fisted orc and his compatriots, and was cut down. A number of warlocks were attempting to dispel the magical flight of the party and interrupt the party’s spells, but met with little success.

• Desthro and Gullah however, revenged the fallen Karl’s hurling deadly magic against the armored caster and the blade-fisted orc, while Fenix decimated the ranks of the orc reavers and warlocks quite successfully. At least until he found himself run through with a huge great-sword as the laughing ogre-mage he had met once before suddenly appeared attempting to finish what he had started before.

• Although the ambush had been ugly, it was over quickly with Fenix defeating the ogre-mage, Desthro defeating the blade-fisted orc, and Gullah finished off the armored spellcaster. In order to make sure he was not ambushed again, Fenix activated his dragon-eye ring to see the unseen, and was stunned to see they had attracted attention from the locals. An ugly gathering of incorporeal undead was beginning to amass, and the party wanted none of that. There was scarcely time for Desthro to grab what he needed from Karl-G’s remains and the party fled the scene.

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An Unholy Contract and an Abyssal Lord.

• Their recent internecine shenanigans were followed by another day off, after which it was decided that they would need to actually accomplish something other than drinking. Fenix of course, was always burning with impatience but now even Desthro seemed to have something else up his sleeve he was not sharing.

• Based on the information they received from Karl-Z, the party decided to make their way north of the Great Road following the trail left the rampaging orcs to the ruins of Val Murthag. The party was very torn over investigating these ruins in particular knowing how dangerous it might be, so Gullah and Fenix each scouted their own path while Desthro & Karl another agreeing to meet back at the most southwesterly portion of the ruins.

• On his own, Desthro had a fateful encounter with a stranger along the road who offered him a deal he could not refuse. According to him, beyond the ruins two demonic armies were clashing even as they spoke, and the tall well dressed stranger expressed his desire that neither of these powers should hold a majority influence over Val Murthag and asked what Desthro might wish for compensation to lead his group against their leaders. Desthro demanded gems, particularly several large diamonds.

• The stranger agreed, and offered Desthro a contract to sign, which Desthro did without even reading it. As he did not read, the stranger seemed to feel obliged to at least point out that in order to fulfill the contract and avoid a rather nasty fate, the abyssal lords that each of those armies answered too must perish. Of these, one was even now leading his side of the conflict while the other’s precise whereabouts were currently unknown. The one leading his army was the abyssal lord – Eltab.

• Fenix for his part, had already discovered this battle passing high overhead northeast of the great ruins and noted that these armies were comprised entirely of demons caught up in a swirling orgy of slaughter. There were none of their orcish foes to be found among their numbers. After observing for some time, he made haste to the agreed upon meeting point.

• Gullah on the other hand, encountered signs that armies of what he was certain were more fel orcs had passed further southeast of the ruins moving to he knew not where. He followed the trail as long as his time permitted before turning back to meet the others.

• Upon their return, Desthro explained the terms he had agreed to, and shared the diamonds he had been given with Fenix and Gullah in order to secure their assistance. With the information provided by Fenix, they determined that they might be able to face this Eltab now, before he either secured victory or fled the field while the majority of his forces were occupied with the enemy. They took the gems without much question.

• They followed Fenix circumventing the ruins and made a lightning fast attack against the massive demon Fenix had seen lurking behind one of the armies. Despite his size, he stood out against the others primarily due to his strange horned appearance and bestial countenance that was unlike any demon with which any of them were familiar despite the numerous demonic foes they had faced previously.

• The battle was vicious and short, but the party swiftly prevailed finding themselves fortunate that this Eltab (if it was indeed him) had few guards with him directly, but as is usually the case with demons, he had no qualms about summoning more of his own kind. He quickly oved more than a match for the party even with the assistance of Karl’s-Z and G. In the end however, Eltab collapsed inward in a burst of demonic energy leaving only a blackened wound on the cold plains.

• In an effort to make a swift get-away after focusing so much of their attacks onto their leader and avoiding his growing number of defenders, Fenix teleported the party back to where they had made the decision to attack Eltab. From here, rather than leave just yet, the party thought maybe they should take a closer look around the ruined landscape out the walls of Val Murthag to get a better feel for the place, but quickly reconsidered.

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A Detour

• While Fenix and Gullah had returned to Telflamm, Desthro returned to his own abode to acclimate his new Karl’s (R, R, Z, G). When Desthro finally returned to Telflamm, he was only accompanied this time by two Karl’s. Fenris then suggested that they investigate what Fenix had spotted in the forest north of the Great Road, nobody argued. Unfortunately, our numbers were too many, and the party was forced to use two separate teleports to arrive north of the road.

• Burning with impatience, Fenix scouted of ahead as usual while the remainder made good time on foot. Desthro took the time to fill in Fenris and Gullah what he had learned from Karl-Z. Apparently he was co-chieftain of a clan, while the other, Karl-G had an axe Desthro thought Gullah could use. Fenris decided to stick with his heavy pole-axe. Desthro had also sent one of the Karl-R’s to scout ahead. It then returned suddenly saying a scouting party would be upon the party shortly. Of Fenix however, there was no sign again, but he claimed the orcs were lead by a dark leathery winged demon of monstrous size.

• The battle proved short and brutal. The two Karl-R’s, and Fenris and Gullah charged headlong into the fel orcs and demons. None of the Karl-R’s survived that day, but sorely wounded. Gullah held his own slaying lesser demons not even hesitating when the flaming balor arrived. Desthro unfortunately, was attempting his usual shenanigans and failing when everything took an ugly turn. The winged monstrosity resembled closely the creature they had faced once before with a second mouth in it’s abdomen, jutting ouch from each side two razor sharp pincers. It was between these closing pincers, that mighty Fenris Olaffson, the Heavysack had his thick, red-beard maned head seperated from his body, both tumbling lifeless to the ground his winged boots becoming inert.

• Panic swept the party, outnumbered Desthro recalled the only remaining, but wounded Karl-R (a new one, and his only success of the battle), grabbed up Fenris’ head and with Gullah fled the remaining orcs and demons, but not before they both managed to finish the kluruchir that Fenris had begun.

• They had though themselves abandoned by Fenix, but unfortunately things had not worked out for him either. He had been scouting the murky, overgrown forest around the cleared section surrounding the tower when he noticed lurking orcs. Unseen he attempted to observe them, but noticed they were only observing the tower. Before he could return with news however, a massive blade had pierced him from behind while hovering above the forest. He moved on instinct, but found himself pursued by a swift ogre mage who laughed mockingly. His wounds were serious, but not fatal. Rather than face his attacker, he decided to wait for a more opportune moment, when not outnumbered by those below. Although he did manage to lose his pursuer, he arrived too late and saw nothing of the battle. He flew back and forth over their trail for sometime until he finally discovered the remains of battle, and with it the headless body of Fenris.

• Fenix picked up the body and left immediately. He then took some time to track down Fenris’s longship on the Inner Sea, a task made much easier with the help of Twink his familiar still on the ship. He informed the crew of their loss, then tossed Fenris overboard as he imagined appropriate. Fenix then declared himself in charge and would be returning in one month’s time for his dues. Until such time, the crew was free to do as they wished. One of the northmen disagreed and Fenix immediately struck him dead. There were no more disputes.

• Unfortunately, things had not gone the same on Desthro’s end. He had returned home, and with the help of Karl-T, restored Fenris’s body. It had gone wrong however, when Fenris’s soul refused to return to his body leaving himself dead. Irritated, Desthro instead shaped the body into a hideous undead crab crawler, but covered it in the illusion of Fenris. Once he felt the illusion complete, he found his way to Fenris’s longship as well with the help of the Karl’s. He then teleported there with ‘Fenris’, who attempted to resume command of his ship. The member of the crew placed in charge by Fenix protested, and Desthro immediately struck him dead. There were no more disputes.

• While all this nonsense was going on, Gullah was trying out the new hot tub that he’d had built in B’s seedy waterfront tavern. Even Sara loved it.

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A Failed Raid and Subsequent Ambush

• As it turned out, Desthro’s new Karl knew less than the old one. Desthro claimed he needed to see to some personal stuff, while Fenris and Gullah decided to get hammered in the tavern for what they felt was some well earned relaxation and griping. Fenris drank and bemoaned what the world had come too when honest men trying to make a living were beset on all sides by demons and sorcery saying there was just no place for the little guy in the world anymore. Gullah couldn’t help noting that what this tavern really needed was a hot tub, and Fenris retorted that Gullah was the worst orc at being an orc he had ever met and that his women would be ashamed of him. Gullah replied that just because Fenris was sleeping with them all didn’t make them right. On that note, they decided a quick detour back to the hidden cave fortress of Gullah’s people might not be a bad idea. Finishing their drinks, Gullah then teleported himself and Fenris far off to the western continent across the Inner Sea where the remnants of his tribe were in hiding.

• While all this was going on, Fenix had decided to scout the orc positions based on what the new Karl had reported. It seemed there was a lightly guarded fort to the south, farther east along the Great Road, but like the former southern fort most of the clan was off in the distant southern Forest of Lethyr. Karl also reported there was another clan operating north of the great road along the southern border of the Rawlinswood to some unknown purpose. Fenix began by lightly scouting the southern fort finding it as reported and then he moved northward back over the Great Road making good time to the southern part of the Rawlinswood by nightfall. As he passed over the Great Road, he saw the burnt out remains of a small hamlet with no signs of survivors. Once he reached the forest he discovered a section of the forest that had been cleared back surrounding an ancient tower that from where he was in the air, drew his attention by glowing red-hot in the night. Approaching for a closer look, he spotted what he was certain were orcs in the forest around the towers clearing. Swiftly going invisible, he moved as close as he dared and observed the orcs. As he did he realized that they were not entering the tower area, but only holding positions around the tower keeping careful watch. Fenix decided to try and detect magic on the tower itself and discovered it was radiating powerful abjuration magic, strong enough to dissuade him from interfering with the tower. Deciding he had seen enough he returned to Telflamm finding the party gone.

• The following day the party re-gathered in Telflamm and listened to what Fenix had discovered. They decided to pick up the journey south of the Great Road and head out in the direction the Karl had indicated there was yet another holdfast originally named Mavalgard, (having decided to push past the burnt out ruins astride the Great Road and the nearby fort) moving eastward. As they neared the hold, the party debated whether to pass it by, or if it was worth attempting a raid. They decided to give it a shot, and the battle was swift but the heavily armored orc within the fort escaped before they could finish him vanishing to they knew not where. The party then retreated and decided to try and push eastward towards the ruins of Val Murthag which seemed to possess a special religious significance to the captured Karl’s. They crossed northward over the Great Road into the open plains moving eastward with Fenix still scouting up ahead impatient.

• Suddenly, after many hours traveling a Gate opened before the party with seven fel orcs rushing out, soon followed by several varied demons. Two were heavily armored, while the third wore studded leather and bore two massive armored claws over his hands. The other two bore great-axes coming out behind him and they in turn were followed by two more lightly armored orcs and one in heavier armor and panicked chaos ensued. Cromlack wasted no time intercepting the first orc through with the blade-fisted hands, while Fenris intercepted the heavily armored orc with a massive heavy great-axe. The two warlocks in the rear each began chanting spells and both Gullah and Desthro found it suddenly difficult to concentrate on their own casting. The two Karl’s tried to intercept the two orc reavers with axes that had come through, but the other armored orc who had previously escaped them at Mavalgard, that had come through first was now opening his own gate and a flaming balor soon joined the melee.

• Desthro pushed through the mental distraction attempting to dispel any defenses over the orc that had opened the second gate, while Gullah found himself struggling to save Cromlack from the blade-fisted orc who was tearing massive chunks of blood and flesh and his swift onslaught overpowering the blonde barbarian. Fenris fared better, but not by much. The balor arrived and his first act was to summon another of his own kind as most demons did. The Karl’s held out as long as they could but soon found themselves overrun by the remaining orcs and demons with no-one to save them. Desthro ignored their plight moving swiftly and began to hammer away at the orc who gated in the balor ruthlessly draining the life and vitality from him with black bolts of raw necromantic power even as Gullah was still forced onto the defensive struggling to keep Fenris and Cromlack alive.

• Unfortunately, the large blade-fisted orc proved too much for Cromlack even with Gullah’s healing and there he fell mauled and missing massive chunks of his own flesh and was soon joined by the Karl’s. The large swift leather orc wasted no time in moving on to Fenris who now found himself pinned between two orcs and a Balor, whilst the arrival of the second Balor gave Gullah his own problems leaving Fenris no choice but to use his often forgotten winged boots taking to the air followed by the Balor.

• Fenix returned from scouting to find the party already engaged. He attempted to assail one of the armored magic-using orcs that had opened the gate, but not only found his magic flung back on him, the orc responded with a powerful spell decimating Fenix’s spells and enchanted gear. Fenix was forced to respond with his most powerful magic, forcefully unraveling the magic that had been used aginst him, but at great personal cost. He was then forced to replenish his own defenses costing him valuable time from the battle leaving the magic-user for Desthro and instead turned to lowering the enemies numbers, by targeting those he deemed the weakest and likeliest to fall.

• The armored orc with the axe turned from Fenris and made straight for Desthro who wasted no time in now in mentally dominated the onrushing figure forcing him to turn back against his own companions allowing Desthro to return his attention to the magic-user, while the blade-fisted orc turned his attention to Gullah who responded like Fenris who was fending off the Balor’s attacks and air-walked above the battle in an attempt to avoid Cromlack’s fate. Desthro used his brief respite to finish what he started on the previous orc he had drained the energy from and managed in his one chance to implant a cyst into the orc to ensure he would not escape this time.

• The blade-fisted orc now moved onto Desthro, who realized after its first charge that this would not do at all. Frantic, he successfully enveloped the cysted orcs brain and then in a panic inflated himself like a calloused puffer fish in an attempt to survive the large raging orc next to him. Gullah attempted to banish the Balor pursuing him with no success, but both he and Fenris survived their demonic magic for the moment. From the still open previous gate now came yet more orcs forcing the party to make a decision as they still rued the absence of Fenix who might have turned the battle. The large orc menacing Desthro and tearing out massive chunks of calloused rotten flesh made up his mind and he quickly ordered his new Karl, and the dominated orc (who failed to resist his commands) to join him. As they did he teleported out before the blade-fisted orc had a chance to interrupt his spell. Gullah followed suit fleeing with Fenris.

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The Karl Says...

• The new Karl-W it turned out had been able to answer a few questions. He revealed that several months ago the wandering grey orc tribes had gathered in the plains to the distant north-east of the Great Road for a gathering of the people. Nobody was exactly certain on how the fighting started or who struck the first blow, but before long the tribes came to blows. A few small conflicts quickly escalated into a furious frenzy with stronger tribes scouring the weak and absorbing the survivors worthy.

• This was the beginning of surviving clans that would rise to reclaim the might of their ancestors. From one of the strongest clans, a warlock revealed that he had discovered the way into the ruins south of them and convinced first his own clan, then the strongest clan followed them first descending into the ruins through the Black Gate to drink the blood of the prince, Tenebrous.

• While he was unable to reveal anything of this demon prince Tenebrous other than his secretive nature, he did reveal that all the large surviving clans had descended into the ruins to drink the demon’s blood from what he called the Well of Shadows, and these numbered roughly a dozen, and all of these had loosely unified under the strongest clan with varying degrees of success. Most immediately, the clan that commanded his own fort had been away deep in the forests south of the fort. The demon they had fought was of a kind known as klurichir, and was in the service of a two-headed ogre warlock commanding another fort north of the Great Road.

• After a quick discussion, the party decided it was worth another attempt to strike some discord into these orcs by attempting to slay or capture their warlord. With help from the prisoner, it did not take long to pin down an ideal spot from where to slip in. They decided to try their luck and slip in the same way as before, relying on the ethereal plane to slip through the fort’s defenders.

• The plan worked better than before, this time with the party able to make the first move. Fenix used his sorcery to seal off the entrance to the fort behind them while Fenris and Cromlack attempted to tear through the strange two-headed ogre mutant. Desthro wasted no time in thinning out the guards around them dropping them terror-stricken as Fenix had done before. Gullah attempted to silence the warlock but failed. Fenix moved to tearing through the defenders in Desthro’s place as the doctor set about acquiring another Karl. Within moments however, as if hearing his master’s unspoken call the klurichir appeared in the room entering the fray as his master rose up above the swinging blades of Fenris and Cromlack leaving them on the ground beneath him while he prepared to get serious.

• Switching tactics, Fenris and Cromlack moved their attention to those remaining on the ground, while Fenix and Gullah turned their attention to the mutant. The klurichir sent out his own call, and the swirling heat entering the room suggested what would soon be arriving. Desthro finished acquiring a fel orc raider even as his enslaved warlock fell. The appearance of the two balors while their main enemies still stood convinced the party that they would need to get serious to have any chance of salvaging the success of their raid. Fenix, Desthro and Gullah all hurled their magic at the ogre in the air above them, who now had summoned a marilith to join the battle as Cromlack and Fenris braved the klurichir’s attacks attempting to strike it down as swiftly as they could fearful of the flaming blades and whips of the two balors.

• It was Gullah who then took down the ogre mage in his rage calling on the orc gods and imploding the fel warlord while the spells of Desthro and Fenix sapped the vitality and energy from the klurichir allowing the two barbarians to finish it off. Deciding there was no time to lose, the party fled leaving the two enraged balors to their fate and returning to Telflamm to decide their next move.

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