Thursday, December 10, 2020

Part 11: The Devil Finds God, and the Priest Serves the Devil


Before setting off into the city again to find Duke Ravengard, the party asked around the camp for ideas of where he could possibly be, with most people suggesting that he was last located in the Grand Cemetery, not far from the High Hall. A cemetery. In Hell. Naturally, this was something the party wasn't exactly thrilled about, but considering they offered to do what they could to help the city, off they went.

Carefully sneaking their way through the ruined city, dodging raiding groups of fiends, the group slowly pushed towards Grand Cemetery. However, on the way there following the directions that they were given, they heard some pounding coming from inside a door of a building. Like, people trapped inside but couldn't get out.

At least, that's what we were supposed to think, but thank goodness we'd learned from the previous experience with shut doors, because Faust opted to quickly Detect Magic, getting a reading of a ton of necromancy behind the door. Which made sense. The door wasn't locked or blocked as far as we could see, and the building certainly wasn't on fire. It was probably just a bunch of zombies that were trying to get out to where the food was but too stupid to figure out how to use the door.

"Let's...just ignore it and continue on," Seliph suggested.

Faust, instinctively rubbing his chest that had been torn open in a similar encounter previously, nodded in agreement.

"The two of you are uncharacteristically cautious here," Rylee observed.

"Bad previous experience," Seliph replied. "We'd rather not talk about it."

Rylee's player was legitimately curious here so she asked out of character what had happened, and we took the time to explain for her benefit (since Rylee wasn't with us at the time) that the last time Seliph thought, "Ah, this won't be too bad, we can take 'em!" and conducted the usual strategy of Seliph kicking in the door and blocking the doorway while the rest of the party pelted the undead within with magic, Seliph was knocked out and Faust died. Now sure, the party had grown quite a bit in strength since then (new dedicated support cleric, as well as Sissy turning herself into a miniature hurricane with the amount of destruction she was capable of causing), zombies in 5e are really irritating to deal with. While most monsters have the courtesy to die when running out of HP, zombies have a chance to just kinda shrug off any mortal damage and keep attacking.

Anyway, the decision to just bypass the encounter was the right call, as the DM informed us afterwards that there were twelve zombies piled against the door waiting for something to open it for them. As a reminder, last time it was six, and they were positioned in a way that Seliph was able to block the doorway for a while, whereas I have my doubts he would have been able to contain the avalanche of zombies behind the door of the building in Elturel.

So the party left the building, continuing along their suggested path until they reached the cemetery, where they saw the expected. Graves, wandering undead creatures, and fiends galore. As they wandered the cemetery the group found a small chapel, and Kalista suggested that Ravengard might be hiding inside. She snuck closer to the building to get a closer look through one of the windows, with Faust sending his familiar Stitches as backup. However, while Kalista is (obviously) an expert in stealth, Stitches is...not. So although Kalista effortlessly slid up to the window to get a glimpse inside, Stitches made a lot of noise, not realising what he was supposed to be doing.

This started to draw some attention, including that of what was inside the window, which could be somewhat made out despite the cover of magical darkness within. She had to squint a bit, but when she was able to identify what was inside, her eyes widened in fear.

Faust, seeing through Stitches' eyes, also was able to recognize what was inside the chapel, three minotaur skeletons. The group began shouting for Kalista to quickly get away once Faust let them know what he saw. I guess their attention spans were really short, though, because we expected them to let themselves out of the chapel and into the cemetery proper, but that didn't happen for some reason. Faust, Kalista, and Rylee got the idea to use a mirror to reflect light from Rylee's light spell into the window to see if they could either get a better look at the minotaur skeletons or get their attention, but neither ended up happening either.

Yeah, I'm paraphrasing a lot, but we had some really mediocre rolls this session. It's just kinda what happens, sometimes. You get ideas, you try things, and the dice just kinda say no. Totally natural. Happens to everyone. Actually when the dice dictate the story it's pretty likely.

So the party decided that the front door might not be the best way into the chapel, wondering instead if there was a possible back entrance. Well, there was, along with a large crater behind the building, which Sissy tripped and fell into having failed the stealth check we were asked to make.

Not that the rest of us did any better, so in the end you had Kalista walking somewhat quietly to the back of the building while everyone else completely failed, between Seliph's and Rylee's armor and Sissy falling into the crater.

Anyway, shock of all shocks that because we were making so much noise, a man came out the back door of the chapel shouting at us.

"Who are you people, and why are you making so much of a racket? I am trying to accomplish something in here!"

The party quickly looked the man up and down.

Faust opened his mouth first. "You...wouldn't happen to be Grand Duke Ravengard, would you?"

The man furrowed his brow. "Never heard of him. I'm Gideon Lightward, a priest of Lathander, and there's a bit of a problem with demons inside the chapel. There's a portal in the basement from the Abyss that they're coming out of, and it needs to be closed, so unless you're going to help me, get out of here."

"Maybe the person we're looking for has holed up inside," Kalista offered. "Anyway, demons are a problem, we'd be happy to help!"

"Excellent, come in, come in." He beckoned them into the small room at the back of the chapel. "Feel free to make yourselves ready for battle in here, say a prayer if you feel like you could benefit. The paladin in particular looks like a particularly spiritual man. I'm going to go take care of the minotaur skeletons in the next room."

Between that statement, the DM's voice acting as this man, and, well...the picture (specifically the long nails and red eyes) we as the players didn't trust this guy at all, but unfortunately the poor rolls continued, so our characters weren't able to latch onto anything in particular he was saying that was sketchy, and when pressed on his being a priest of Lathander (whose nickname is The Morninglord, so a god of light and life, something wasn't adding up), he got defensive, but stated that he was cast out because he was corrupted, but he still had a desire to serve Lathander. Specifically, he said that there was a weapon blessed by Lathander somewhere in the chapel.

Seliph wasn't so certain about that and declined the suggestion to pray, but Kalista of all people decided to give it a try, and whaddaya know, her "faith" was rewarded with a nat 20 and a glowing weapon appearing in her hands, specifically a +2 Shortsword.

Surprised that there was a positive response at all, Kalista shouted, "Thank you, God! My mom was wrong about you my whole life!"

"Excellent," uttered Gideon. "That should help us handle the demon problem. Wait here while I take care of the minotaur skeletons, and I'll open the door when its safe."

Indeed, the door was opened not long after, with the darkness dispelled and the minotaur skeletons just gone. Gideon gestured towards the other end of the room, from which the sound of battle were slowly growing louder. At the top of a stairway stood two mezzoloths, fighting against a giant scorpion and five dretches.

Some context, yes, again, devils and demons both exist in the D&D universe. Just roll with it. The two factions/races/whatever are from different locations (devils from the Nine Hells, demons from the Abyss) both have different goals, and as such, both groups are bitter enemies. Hence the fighting at the top of the stairs and the fiends/devils not wanting them to get out into Avernus proper.

Interestingly, Gideon was focusing on killing the demons, but not bothering with the fiends. Again, seems kinda sketchy.

Another sketchy thing is the fact that during the battle, he was severely injured by an attack that Lulu used. You see, she has an attack called Trumpet of Sparkles, essentially a magical girl sparkle attack that does a ton of radiant damage, with one specific caveat: evil creatures have disadvantage on their save (meaning the attack is more likely to be super painful for them) and good creatures aren't hurt at all from it.

This isn't the first time Seliph bunched a group of enemies together, just for Lulu to sparkle them to death (though it's the first time I've mentioned it because remembering details is something I struggle with when writing these things).

So anyway, sparkles. Completely bypassed Seliph and severely hurt all the enemies. And Gideon.

No, the guy with red eyes might be a bad guy? Who knew?

Naturally the party had some questions for him after the fight. After all, he seemed to be throwing his lot in with the devils and he got hurt really badly from an attack that shouldn't have done anything to a priest in service to Lathander, or as Kalista kept referring to him, the Nice Treasure God.

I guess the constant badgering touched his last nerve though, as he then said, "For the last time, Lord Lathander is not a god of treasure. I'd hoped to get you lot to help me with the portal before killing you and taking the devil girl's sword, but even my patience isn't endless." He then snapped his fingers, and the minotaur skeletons reformed.

Kalista then shouted, "Wait! Let's close the portal before you fight us!"

And that' the session ended. I mean, I'm sure him turning on us was supposed to be a big twist, but was less subtle than this.

So next time we've gotta fight this guy and his minotaur skeleton friends. Oh, and he started healing when the fight was over, so y'know, that's annoying.