We are at last free of Araj, that hellish menagerie built by Invern the Shortsighted to keep his foolish specimens. We rescued him from a mighty devil, the Archdevil Conall by his notes, but we could not rescue him from his own folly. The acts we performed were worthy of legend, to be sure, but the cause for which we fought proved to be a vanity. Can we take credit for courage when we only pursued the only means to escape, trapped by a madman’s selfishness? Our only credit is that we were the first to succeed. I will at least do my best to recount our mighty battle before the arch devil:
Having rested and steeled ourselves for what awaited us, we passed the portal one last time. On the other side, we came upon a patchwork plane comprising all the layers we had encountered to that time in Araj. We searched it carefully, saving the study for last (my curiosity will forever be unsatisfied for a cellar we could not access and had not seen before).
In the study, Invern waited before the altar. As I approached, he made appear a chest before me and called for us to run. I grabbed the chest and made for the side door, seeing Juniper hidden behind a statue and Anduin retreating out the back. Before I closed the door, I saw Invern become a Balor (I recognized it from my religious studies in Aveliobris) and Juniper vanish. I knew that Conall would see her with his Truesight, so I when Anduin arrived I urged him to quickly strike. He grabbed some goods from the chest and we rushed in, attacking the Archdevil head on.
In my rage and the terror of the flames licking around me, I couldn’t take much notice of what the others were doing. I gather that I having told him of the Balor’s protection against fire and his Truesight, Anduin refrained from using his powerful fire magics and invisibility. He could do only a little to harm the devil with his frosty rays. Juniper, needing a magical weapon, used the unusual, bladeless sword to strike at him from a distance. In my rage, I refused to flag as the great creature repeatedly smote and the flames enveloped me.
I eventually succumbed, but Juniper revived me and as we fought on, Invern regained control long enough to give us new equipment and some time as he teleported away. With the time, I donned a cloak to protect me from the Balor’s flames, took a hoary blade that was a considerable improvement on my prior, powerful weapon, and healed myself with most of my magical ability. When they balor returned, we ambushed it in the door, and though it was clear I was taking a toll, my prior wounds were enough to threaten me before the battle ended. Anduin transported me away before I fell again and the Balor fled once more under our assault. We tried to press the attack, Anduin assuming the form of a small dragon! but were soon forced to withdraw into the study again when Anduin was returned to his form.
He appeared in the study, attacking in a fury, and nearly struck down Anduin and I! Juniper and I engaged, desperate to bring it down before we faltered. Anduin teleported me and him away from the balor and counseled that I wait for his cue to strike once more. The thing cast down Juniper, but Anduin cast a spell upon me and I charged, striking deep with my sword and slaying the creature! It exploded and I was barely able to shield Juniper from certain death with my cloak, myself also being driven from consciousness. Anduin roused Juniper, and then me, we had triumphed.
Invern seemed to think that we should have enjoyed the whole affair, but at least he allowed us to keep many powerful treasures. He has promised us some kind of boon as we sleep; something we will choose, presumably in our dreams. The only consolation I have from this foolishness is knowing that we have grown mighty enough to confront the dragons that stand against us through these trials; we emerge definitively prepared to charge into legends. I only fear that the months that have passed in the real world since we entered will have cost us dearly in the urgency of our mission. I advised us to take the eastern route to save us at best a week, and now we have lost months for a meaningless escapade that entrapped us along the way. I pray I have not brought about the downfall of Callecia for my hubris.
I hope never to see Invern again, and yet, can it be a coincidence that he has this name so related to the great house of Invrness and resides in a timeless realm? Did the patrol that tried to stop us know he was here? Is there something Royal Family Grey is hiding from Royal Family Damian? He claimed to know nothing of the dragons coming, and I suppose he wouldn’t, trapped for so long, but someone isn’t telling us everything.
We only had to cheese the Balor (well, super Balor, he had a little more going for him, like higher AC and health and some healing) a little, but what a fight! He completely countered RiH’s spell choices in every way, and Juniper could hardly damage him as well. It all came down to Raglan’s health pool and damage output with a lot of fortuitous magical equipment. If a Level 3 Bard/Level 5 Barbarian can be both tank and damage output in a CR 19+ combat with the help of a +3/+3 sword with 2d6 frost damage and a fire immunity cloak, what do higher level characters fight?
These journal entries are going to be in-character play reports from ByW’s campaign, which we are going to alternate playing with the Tyranny of Mundanity campaign. My character, Raglan “the Light”, admires RiH’s character, Anduin Damian and follows him believing his place in history will be as a companion of the royal adventurer. He is impressed with their elven companion, Juniper (played by BiW), but does not know her well.