The chamber beyond is lit with green flames and purple, arcane light, fitful and heavy with shadow. As is power’s way, a raised dais-like platform occupies the rear of the hall. Dozens of spiked and hooked chains dangle from the shadowed ceiling and two large iron crates line the walls.
On the floor before the dias, six more of the fleshy devil spawn, with razor teeth and bloated bodies are already moving slowly but purposefully toward the heroes. Behind them, perched like living gargoyles with small beating wings, are two of the spined devils, barbed forks in hand. Further back, behind the front line, are three armored men, wearing a mix of blackened chain and plate armor.
The two flanking the third have heavy crossbows with cruel stabbing blades attached to their fronts. They also have bulky looking, black bladed swords at their belt, longer than a man’s arm. The third at the center stands slightly taller and wears a stained and torn white cloak about his armored shoulders. Horns sprout from the full helm and a white, lashing tail, similar to Calder’s, whips in agitation at his back. In the blackguard’s hands, a deceptively slender hafted glaive with a two foot blade at it’s tip and a chain dangling from the haft that wraps several times around the warrior’s right arm.
Behind all this, standing tall, and shrouded in a multitude of barbed chains that writhe around it’s seven foot frame, is the devil spied ever so briefly at the standing stones, the one called Nalfesh, who rules this bastion of the shadowed realm.
There isn’t time for more than a glance at the enemy arrayed before them before the danger steals breath and draws the attention away from the wider perception. With a cry, Harrick rushes the nearest minion. His blade makes quick work of the devil. Falco let’s a bolt of fire loose, striking one of the knights as it raises it’s crossbow to fire. Calder ducks for cover and sends shot from his pistol at Nalfesh, scoring the leader’s armor.
From the hall, Cawyn cries out in a ringing voice in the ancient tongue of the druids of Aeranos. A mist rises from the floor at the entrance and eight, lanky timber wolves emerge along with the brief smell of earth and pine. In but a moment, they are lunging into the fray, ripping and tearing at the spined devils and fleshy minions, rending flesh and dragging opponents to the ground! Cawyn sags with the magical effort and Calder worriedly takes note.
From his place at the door, Calder sees Nalfesh’s head bob in silent laughter as several of the chains begin to writhe and then snake out at the wolves. He also sees the Chained lord of the hall say something to his half-blood knight. He makes out the word “darkness” and shouts a warning just as the blackguard draws all of the light in the chamber into his gauntleted fist.
The chamber is plunged into unseeable blackness. Wolve’s growl, devils hiss and stab, and crossbow bolts fly. All while the heroes strain to hear and sense the unseen conflict, perfectly aware their enemy is not so constrained.
Harrick is stabbed and shot as he lashes out in the dark. Abraxis shouts a battle prayer, “Gods of Golden Light, Quell this Darkness!” but there doesn’t seem to be magic to back up the words. Gritting his teeth, the tattooed Syvani draws his saber, which with a flick of the wrist becomes twin blades. He lunges bravely into the darkness, sword in each hand, bandages soaking with fresh blood.
Cynwen’s wolves never stop fighting, and more minions goes silent, but the sound of wolf flesh being rent away can also be heard. The howls are also quickly silenced. Harrick manages to keep his warrior calm and lashes out at the next enemy to draw his blood. His return strikes sink deep into Spined flesh and the winged thing flies away leaking precious devil blood.
But valor and bravery can only go so far. When the last growling wolf is silenced seconds later, Nalfesh’s laughter grows louder. The chains can be heard dancing in the darkness. There’s a grunt and a clash of blades, then the smack of several blows and blast of thunderous sound as Abraxis comes sailing out of the shadows to smack into the wall of the hallway.
Calder cocks his pistol and looks at the freshly wounded Syvani, then over at Falco and Cawyn. Inside, he hears Harrick hiss and grunt, then an ominous silence from his friend.
In each of the four heroes minds they then hear Sharhad Hasul, "My energy is at it's end. I cannot keep the gate open. I am sen-" then silence there as well.
Calder whispers, then yells, “Retreat... Harrick! Do you hear me? Fall back!”
The words are answered by a throatier laugh from the Chained lord, “Hehhehahaah! Oh no, please, stay! There is so much more I have to show you!
A moment later Harrick stumbles out of the darkness, creased with blood and wobbling dangerously, a black bolt buried deep in his shoulder. Calder catches his friend and channels what small amount of healing he can into the Oroka. Unfortunately, hot on the warrior’s heals are more ripping chains.
Though they try to evade, Calder, Harrick and Falco are entangled once more and yanked to the floor. Harrick fends off unconsciousness with his own tough resolve. Abraxis and Cawyn are already retreating toward the portcullis when this happens, and though the druid tries to help with his own thorn whip, he’s unsuccessful. A spined devil flies out of the shadows and stabs at Calder, but the writhing chains actually cause the attack to miss.
Heavy booted steps are approaching! The three grappled heroes struggle mightily. Harrick forces the chains apart with brute strength and a bit of well timed inspiration. Falco likewise calls on his last bit of luck in a wholly unlucky situation to wriggle free. Calder makes it look easy, but unfortunately rolls free and into the face of the blackguard who slashes and stabs three times and connects twice.
They break with the enemy and run now, knowing escape is their only choice! The blackguard and one of the dark knights runs in pursuit. The third mysteriously stops to crank the portcullis mechanism. Four of the crew make it under the rising portcullis and into the hall.
Behind, Calder makes it to the tined gate before the blackguard strikes again. Once, twice the glaive slashes, splashing tiefling blood. As the captain drops to his knees he looks at his friends, who are glancing back in panic,
A third attack sees the tip of the blackguard’s blade break through Calder’s torso and he sinks to the ground in a fresh gushing of blood. Abraxis looks back and then at the others, wordlessly asking the plan....