The Price of Peace

Session XXIV

Dénoument

6/21/429, Thursday

Sir Frederik Kuhlricht returns, with a brand new pair of angelic wings. The party greet and hug their old comrade. They wish to go celebrate with the rest of the city, though Frederik insists that he is here for a singular purpose, though he shall accompany them. Queen Amélie talks to Professor Zionysus and gives him a scroll of greater luminous armor. She tries to return to the Guardians who have gathered, but Horace manages to persuade her to take the evening off and accompany them to the various taverns, in disguise. They all (except Frederik) drink perhaps a bit too much. Amélie succumbs to an endless fit of giggles at the party’s antics, and she accepts when Willow and Horace suggest a sleepover with bacon and waffles in the morning.

That night, Frederick casts neutralize poison on Amélie, which she greatly appreciates. He asks if she’s aware of where she is and what has occurred. She is, and she thanks Frederik for his concern.

6/22/429, Friday

When everyone wakes up in the morning, Willow’s kitchen staff makes an outstanding breakfast. Most of the party are nursing hangovers, and Horace wonders how Amélie is so awake when she had as much as he did. Eventually, they walk her back to the Palace. They agree to set out to finish Taqualik the next day. Zion conjures up more money by selling more found equipment, and they stock up on fiendslayer crystals and wands of orb of electricity and sound for Horace and Dorien, respectively.

6/23/429, Saturday

They meet in the palace courtyard, where about 30 Guardians have gathered, many from outside of the city. Cain Stone has also been summoned from Sanctuary. Amélie аnd Weiss give pep talks. Prince Benoît watches from behind a column, nibbling on a cookie the size of his head. Amélie sees him and hugs him, telling him to listen to Uncle T’Lavios and be a good king for the people while she’s gone. Benoît tells her that he doesn’t want to be king, and Amélie reassures him that she’ll be back soon.

Selenia conjures a flutter of violet butterflies that land on the back of each person’s hand. It glows and fades into the skin, leaving a tattoo. She tells them it’s an insurance policy: should they take wounds that are too grievous, the butterfly will heal them, though only once. She then opens a gate with a sinister landscape on the other side. They bid farewell to anyone left behind and step through.

The landscape is very barren, the sky a dark reddish-black, and to their left, a tower stands majestically on an island surrounded by a river of lava. They approach the bridge to the island, where a lone imp stands guard. He asks them what their purpose is, and Cain tells him that Inquisitor Cain Stone has arrived to destroy his master. The imp conjures a small notepad, flips through some pages, and nods, saying, “Ah, master Taqualik is expecting you. Go ahead.” They proceed across the bridge and enter the wide open double doors to the tower as the majority of the Guardians engage a devil encampment behind the tower.

In the center of the room, a glossy black column extends to top of the room, possibly a support pillar. It has a wet, slimy appearance and trembles ever so slightly. Four stone altars encircle the column, each with what appears to be a human on it. They breathe shallowly as if asleep, though their eyes stare pleadingly at the newcomers. A human-like woman with red eyes, and two small horns protruding just below her hairline smiles at the party and says, “Welcome to Phlegethos.” Zion recognizes her as Fierna, the archduchess of the fourth circle of Hell, or at least an aspect of her. She attempts to coerce Cain into leaving his comrades and joining her for an exciting night in Hell. He refuses and a battle ensues. The men on the altars rise, apparently dominated by her. Dorien sings and fascinates most of them. The aspect of Fierna is defeated handily. The dominated men are freed, and they identify themselves as paladins that were abducted. They are recruited to join the party in the fight.

The column in the center trembles more violently as they reach the second floor. The large room is empty, with no decorations or candles, though the light of Zion’s and Amelie’s luminous armor makes the room quite bright. More stairs lie on the opposite side of the room. As they cross the room, a face seems to form in the column, pushing against the black ooze, until a man tumbles out, black tendrils still clinging to him. It is none other than Kendall Oakes, his face is contorted in anger. Dorien uses whirling blade to throw his falchion at him, but it seems to pass through him. The party realizes it is just an illusion, so they continue on.

At the top floor, they see the large ooze-like mass in the center of the room, reaching the top and spread across the ceiling like jelly, threatening to fall on their heads. A man-like figure with bone white skin and two curling horns in black armor and wide black bat-wings steps out from behind the ooze column, brandishing a scythe. Dorien recognizes him from the legends as Taqualik. He is swathed in a hellish ring of fire and blasts them with an explosion of hellfire. They fight, and eventually Zion uses telekinesis to grapple Taqualik, and multiple stabbings and orbs of electricity later, he is destroyed.

When he falls, the column thrashes violently, and the tower seems about to fall. Portions of the wall fall outward, and the floor beneath the party feels weak. Using mass fly, they leave. Once outside, they quickly realize that the tower wasn’t collapsing, only reforming into something sinister: a 60 foot tall version of the devil they just faced.

The good guys crush this infernal evil. When at last the devil falls, the stone blocks that made up his tower crumble to dust, then are absorbed into a black pit of ooze. the ooze quivers, then attempts to rise to form a black shape with a multitude of tentacles. They all attack and the Golden Star, Silver Star, and Imperial Medallion glow brightly, enveloping the ooze in the white light, then in a brilliant explosion, Taqualik is gone.

The Guardians return with wounds but no casualties. They all go to the gate and return home, and there is much rejoicing.

Epilogue

Wandalynn & Steelhand
Prof. Zalomon
Galenka
Captain Kega
Queen Amélie II
Weiss
Selenia
Cain Stone
Horace
Willow
Zionysus Zindigger
Frederik Kuhlricht
Dorien Arsisen

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