Though Cawyn does his best to persuade the old treant, Hollyhorn will not be convinced into joining their assault on the temple. He is very thankful, but seems determined to use the energy they’ve given to make it to the gateway and back to the Elder’s glorious light. Somewhat crestfallen, the Druid still wishes him well and asks that he swat down a few cruel sprites if he gets the chance at the gate.
Hollyhorn waves a broken fingered hand, “Huumrmm-grmmmmrm, Rest assured I shall young Druid! The Elder’s blessings upon you in your quest against the darkness!” He disappears into the gloom, trailing shadows that follow at a wary distance.
As the party hikes back toward the temple, they devise a plan. Though the captain is somewhat apathetic and quiet, thanks to the influence of Cairn nan Arq, the rest feel refreshed and optimistic about their chances. They sneak right to the doors of the dark temple, after ensuring the shadows and the fiends have not been replenished as guardians.
As per the plan, Abraxis, restored once more to his power, cloaks Harrick in a mantle of protection against infernal evil. Falco cloaks himself in a magical disguise as one of the black armored knights of Sevos. As the topping to their assault, Cawyn summons an elemental servant he dubs, ‘Mossy Rocks.” An eleven foot behemoth of stone with thick durin-like limbs coated in a partial carpet of moss and dangling lichen for hair, Mossy Rocks has a slight feminine appearance, but her voice is pure gravelly terran when she asks, “What is thy bidding master?”
Cawyn tells her, and the barred doors of the temple come down with a CRUNK! CRUNCH! under the sledge fisted assault. Even Calder smiles briefly, grimly, at the display.
As the destruction echoes throughout the temple, the group follows their walking siege tower inside. Down the stairs and to the right Harrick is the first to spot the dread weaver as the fear inducing power descends upon he and Falco. The rogue succumbs, being forced into a mini montage of disturbing events that end with him being once more shrunk and stored in the pocket of the Archfey, Laird Turath. In the shadowfell, he drops and curls into a fetal position upon the stones.
The power slides off of Harrick, thanks to Abraxis’ protections and the hulking fighter throws a dagger at the spider as a means of pointing out the tiny fiend. The blade misses, but it allows Calder to see it. A lightning draw from the hip and a ringing crack from the Syvani-made pistol puts an end to the bug, with a wet splat of fiendish ichor on the wall.
As Mossy Rocks heads around the corner and sees the lowered portcullis, the THONK of heavy crossbows can be heard as bolts break upon her torso. She needs little urging to begin her charge, though Cawyn gives it anyway. As Falco sends a blast a fire and Calder shoots from cover, the elemental builds up momentum, using her formidable arms to cover her face. Seeing the elemental’s intent, Calder smiles again, whispering near silent, but heartfelt encouragement.
The two knights behind the bars hastily send another round of bolts that do even less, and barely have time to crouch as three thousand pounds of rock (and a tiny bit of soft moss) collide with iron! KRAAANG! Stone pavers shatter and ceiling gives way as the entire gate breaks from its moorings and flies into the faces of the stunned knights. One manages to shift, taking a glancing blow from the flying metal but the other is thrown with it, ending smashed and pinned beneath.
Stepping up beside the heaving behemoth, the rest of the party makes quick work of finishing the knights, who scarcely have time to cry out before they are cut down by blade, bullet and magic. Once again, the echoes of the conflict die away as they approach the main doors to the altar room.
And once more Cawyn’s servant of stone prepares to rip doors asunder. More crunching, this time taking a whole four hammer blows, and the heavy iron doors embellished with the icons of the Master of Chains lie smashed and ruined. From within, a flurry of missiles hit Mossy as a tide of inky darkness extends outward. Arrows break upon her as she wades into the gloom.
The darkness only lasts a moment before Cawyn’s druidic counterspell ends it. Abraxis lets loose a shout of angry joy and Harrick barrels forward into the room as Falco and Calder aim spell and shard. With speed and skill Harrick somehow not only covers the distance, but takes two good swings, one which finds a gap and draws blood. The tiefling blackguard and his devil master meet the assault with chain and glaive.
Like Harrick, the blackguard seems to be cloaked in his own mantle of protection that causes Calder’s shots to go wide. For the moment, he holds his own against the onslaught. Nalfesh’s chains snakes from the ceiling and grab up Harrick and Falco, ripping at them with barbed hooks while the devil himself and the tiefling lashes out at the elemental. Cawyn sends a gout of fire that melts the chains holding Falco. Soon enough, they break free through strength and agility.
Abraxis shouts out a Command and the blackguard drops his glaive to the ground with a surprised look on his white face. Falco summons a shadow blade that slices into the half fiend knight. All the while, Mossy Rocks does her best to make a paste of the tiefling, and he does his best to dodge the furious blows.
Calder switches targets, putting rounds into the master since he could not hit the servant. The shards hit their mark as the Chain devil’s torso rocks with the blasts. In his mind, he hopes his sire can see it. The blackguard rolls and picks up his weapon, following through with a flurry of attacks that end with a black burst of energy that swirls briefly about the head of the elemental.
Abraxis crosses his blades and raises them high, “Golden Three and All the Court of Light and Shadow! Through me, fill this place with YOUR power and chase away the taint of the Beyond!”
With the ringing words, sparks of golden light illumine the darkness and send terror into the eyes of the fiends. Even Calder shudders momentarily with fear. But the blackguard and Nalfesh actually shrink back in horror. Nalfesh, in a fevered attack, sends all of his remaining chains at Harrick, who has instilled his own intimidation into the chain devil. The attacks are hurried, but some still connect. Harrick is lifted into the air and ripped at. Nalfesh joins his guardian at the rear of the altar room, shaking off the fear with deviled determination.
Then, having re-coalesced his dark blade, Falco sends it once more streaking toward the distracted devil. It appears as if by magic through the eight foot devil’s heart, sunk to the shadowy hilt. With a groaning, hissing curse the chained one slumps to the floor and perishes.
Seeing the destruction of his master, the blackguard goes wild. Abraxis charges. A thunderous clash of gold light and black shadow war as the two trade smiting blows. Mossy Rocks lumbers in as the tiefling redoubles his doomed attacks.
From the rear of the chamber, Cawyn points a stubby durin finger over the cluster. A thin, black beam of withering energy snakes between the thrusting limbs and heaving forms. When it connects, the blackguard shrieks and stumbles backward. When his body hits the wall, the armor is already falling in on itself. Where once supported by living flesh, it now collapses on withered muscle and brittle bone.
Together, the party watches as the black helm slips from a skull caving in on itself. Lips like crumbling parchment whisper fading curses before the last juices leak from eyeless sockets, black blood gushes from a fleshless nose and mouth, and turns to dust before hitting the floor.
Heavy breathing, grinding elemental stone and the quiet spitting of green flame braziers are the only sounds left in the chamber.