February 18, 2009
XP Awarded: 870 || Total XP: 4,268
16 Sowing, around mid-day
Apparently the horrors confronting them were too much for the cowardly Morthos, or perhaps he was simply never as reliable as he appeared. Without a word, he threw up his hands and fled the area, leaving the party to venture forth on their own.
Upon entering the unholy cathedral, a number of pale, fanged forms rushed out of the darkness – vampire spawn. After a fierce battle, the party managed to defeat the lower priest of Orcus and his undead minions. The battle left them low on resources, forcing them to return to the trapped statue room to rest.
17 Sowing, morning
Waking the next day, there was still no sign of Morthos, but the party did not concern itself with an obviously unreliable ally. Returning to the bloody cathedral, they looked around and concluded that the only way to go was down, into the hole in the floor through which the blood drained.
Boldly going forth, Mellum climbed out onto the chain and slid down, the blood making the fifty-foot drop very rapid. The dwarf descended into a nightmare. Crimson streams spilled from above his head, forming a pool of blood in the center of the chamber.
A yawning, black portal dominated the northern wall of the chamber. Something strained against the darkness within, as if it were a thin film keeping back a vicious clawed beast. A set of blazing runes had been inscribed before the portal.
Opposite the portal stood a massive statue of Orcus, pointing toward the darkness with a skull-capped wand. To the east, a series of steps led to a platform where a small pit was flanked by two smaller statues of Orcus. To the west another set of steps ascended to an altar of bone flanked by wide pillars.
In front of the gaping portal stood a human clad in heavy armor, carrying a skull-capped rod, flanked by two skeletons in armor. His eyes were focused on the dwarf, a malicious glare in his eyes, very irritated at the intrusion.
“Foolish interlopers!” he spat. “You will feel the wrath of Orcus before you die, and then you will suffer through all eternity!”
The rest of the party quickly descended into the chamber, Paelias sliding down partway before stepping through the Feywild to appear away from the messy pool of blood. Kalarel’s other ally – for who else would be waiting for them here but the mysterious leader of the cultists? – appeared near the two smaller statues of Orcus, a dessicated corpse still upright and walking.
A long and bloody battle ensued. The deathlock wight by the statues managed to keep Mellum from approaching Kalarel by immobilizing him with dark energies. and Shinto engaged the cult leader in melee, managing to keep him out of the glowing circle of runes. An important task, since they noticed that some of his wounds healed over when he stood within the dark light. Paelias remained behind columns opposite the wight, sniping at Kalarel and the skeletons as he could.
Another surprise came when Shinto approached too near the dark portal. Night-black tentacles lashed out of the darkness, attempting to strike or ensnare those careless enough to remain within range. Shinto wisely opted not to get too close.
A long and bloody battle ensued, with grievous wounds given and taken on both sides. Eventually the skeletons fell, and Kalarel found himself facing the party alone except for the wight. Even so, and Shinto, and even Mellum, were nearly ready to collapse from their wounds before Kalarel finally dropped to the floor at a blow from the paladin’s sword.
“You will regret this,” he coughed, blood spattering the ground at his feet. “You will—what? Noooooo!” Unseen at first, one of the tentacles from the portal latched on to the cultist’s leg, dragging him screaming with his last breath into the inky blackness of the portal. Those who fail Orcus seldom rest well, even in death.