Black Sun

Ending the Nightmare of the Living Flesh

Narciso landed gracefully on the ground, his years of mental and physical focus allowing him to descend from nearly any height easily and he proceeded to help his friends from the bag of holding. Leon had been wounded by a weapon in the extra-dimensional space, but his faith allowed his wounds to divinely and immediately heal.

Behind them, the tower came to life to respond to their escape, rivulets of dead flesh streaming from the windows, doors, and cracks in pursuit of the group. The adventurers ran for their lives, the flood of molten flesh relentless in its pursuit. Finally, as the group approached the Resistance Headquarters, the putrid growth behind them could go no further and it tore at the air before coming to an unsettling stop at the edge of the headquarters.

The Resistance had been through a battle itself, the battle coming to an end as the adventurers approached. Greshnak appeared to have made a full recovery, the alien growth upon his weapon gone and strange squealing noises coming from his gullet. Of Anlu, there was still no sign and the worst was feared by the defenders that had seen him leave. Briar Rose had even aided the defenders, and her exhaustion was still evident, but she recovered quickly by draining the fallen of magic and whatever remained of their lives.

Jared called the group over and had them explain what happened in the tower and his dismay was more than evident. After learning what had occurred, their meeting was interrupted by reports of beholder-like creatures growing from the wretched land itself and approaching the keep by the hundreds. In the distance frolicked a noqual goblin and a strange crystalline companion, tossing the beholders around like toys and gathering something from them as they did. The duo rushed to the keep as they saw the defenders loose their first volley at the approaching creatures and introduced themselves.

The goblin turned out to be Flicka and his calm insanity among such a desolate landscape brought a bit of life back into the defenders. His companion was a gargoyle that had taken on the properties and coloration of noqual after such a long exposure. The gargoyle introduced himself as Obirith and was strangely friendly for a gargoyle. Jared broke from the group and spoke alone with the massive creature, striking some sort of deal after seeing how the gargoyle was able to turn the corpse ground into crystal as it tread across it. Obirith quickly set himself to the task and lifted off. Jared ordered his men and the adventurers to take this time to rest and prepare for the battle ahead.

The adventurers are allowed to rest for only two hours before they are woken up by Jared, his voice in a panic. He recounted the situation and told the adventurers the time to strike the prophet was now or all would be lost. The forces arrayed against the keep continue to come, spawning from the dead themselves into just new and even more abominable forms. The Uga Tribe had sent assistance and were slowly clearing the growth with flamethrowers, but time was running out and the defenders were beyond exhausted. A crystalline path stretched through the nightmarish landscape and it was this path that the heroes were sent on. As the twisted through the inhospitable landscape, more of the noqual gargoyles could be seen clawing paths along the ground, forming a network of the crystal within the dead city. Along the edges of the hero’s path, eyes formed to watch along the ground, silently taking note of everything. When the adventurers finally reach the tower again, everything has changed. The tower has come to life and a massive eyes stares down at the group hundreds of feet in the air. Ropey tendrils flail from all levels of the tower and snatch the dead along with anything else that moves and tosses into the confines of what used to be the towers entrance. Taking a step forward, the tower immediately responds, shooting a web of sorts of pulling Leon forward into the towers domain. A massive tendril spikes into Leon’s side, piercing through his armor and the left side of his body before flinging him into the tower. The mouth of the beast opened and Leon crashed through the needle-like stone projections on his flight into the tower’s interior. The rest of the group raced to the tower, avoiding the fate that had befallen Leon and making their way to him before anything else could.

Leon was found unconscious and bleeding on the ground, the tower beginning to reach for him, but the rest of the group made it to him before the tower subsumed him completely, waking him and allowing him to call upon the divine power of Lathander to heal his wounds. The inside of the tower is a hellish sight and gore lines everything. Bodies are impaled all along the walls, slowly being drained of their fluids and added to the growing beast. A central pillar runs in the center of the tower and extends all the way to the top, tendrils sprouting from it to defend it against any that would attempt to climb it. A central strand of flesh only a foot thick winds itself around the pillar, providing something to stand upon for anyone attempting to climb against the odds. As the party approached the tower, something struck the tower from outside and it began to topple over, its support ripped from the ground around it. As the tower fell, the heroes reached for anything that could support them and braced themselves for the drop ahead. With the tower now on its side and quakes running through it from whatever creature was assaulting it from outside. The streams of gore along the walls now rained down upon the heroes, coating them in red.

Out of the basement came forth a huge gibbering mouther, its meal down below interrupted by the tower’s fall. The adventurers downed the beast as quickly as possible, but still sustained a few injuries. Leon did what he could to heal the damage. Then the real test began and the group began to ascend the walls of the tower to reach the next level. They reached the central pillar and made their way into the next layer. The strange gibbering obelisks that the group had faced last time they had been here had become something else, hatching into huge insectoid woman, her lower half the bloated white segments of a maggot while her top half a horrific mix of bug and insectoid features. Three inch nails dripped a deadly black venom and the creatures moved to assault the party. With time being of the essence, the group decided to run instead of fight and Leon cast a spell to blind the beasts as the party made their way, hoping his heavy armor would protect him from their attacks as he attempted to escape as well. The group managed to make it to the other side and the tower shook again as the battle outside raged. The tendrils of the central tower began to frantically squirm and the central pillar became increasingly difficult to cross. A mass of webbing blocked the entrance into the next room, but Archana easily cut through it with her flaming sawtooth saber and the group proceeded into the next room.

The burning webbing caught the attention of the hundreds of denizens of the next chamber and three of the largest began to approach the flames. The corpse of the Ravener lay at the bottom of the room, only its chitin plating still intact and now being used as a shelter by the smaller members of this rooms new denizens. The creatures were spider-like monstrosities born from the Ravener, but still too young to develop into what it was or acquire its mental capabilities. The group tried to avoid this fight as well, but without much success as the entrance into the next room was nowhere to be found. The creatures were defeated, but at a heavy cost as their venom coursed through the bodies of the heroes, draining their strength away. Leon again called upon his divine spells to restore the strength of his allies, while Archana and Greshnak worked to cut open an entrance into the top chamber to finally reach the prophet.

So eager to reach the end, they rushed into the final chamber, ready to take the Prophet down. They found him, suspended above a massive portal to the Far Realm, the corpse of his false god pulled partially through. Corpses of cypher mages surrounded the portal, shaped into the needed runes to form the magical gateway. The Prophet was expecting them and spoke to them, taunting them, and foretelling of their defeat at his hands and how they will become the greatest of his minions. A huge creature outside crawls atop the massive oculus, blocking out the light and causing a massive quake to spread through the tower as it moves along it. The Prophet was momentarily distracted and the heroes took this momentary surprise to rush their attack on the Prophet. The momentary advantage was quickly ripped away and the Prophet returned the attack with spells and strikes. Eruptions of black tentacles kept Greshnak and Leon distracted and at bay, while webs, grease spells, and blinding glitterdust worked to protect him from Archana and Narciso. Archana, annoyed at the Prophet’s ability to float away from her blades and noting that his attachments to his dead god kept him in the center of the where the massive creature’s eye had been, had the brilliant idea to use a potion she had the goblins craft for her that created a temporary extra-dimensional pit and threw it on the ground, the tendril nearest to her dropping ten feet and pulling the Prophet towards her. With a wicked smile, she sliced into him, cutting deep wounds. The Prophet, unwilling to give up the power his attachment to his false god gave him refused to move away and stayed where he was, drawing the final reserves of strength from the dead entity. Greshnak was finally able to make his way tot he Prophet and his massive axe ached for the Prophet’s blood. It drank deeply of what it found within the enemy. The Prophet knew he had to move and cast dimension door to teleport to the edge of the room. With his spells unable to destroy the heroes, he knew his defeat was near and went down fighting, knowing he would be reborn; for they had yet to learn his little secret and they could never win. He went down laughing maniacally and his body began to bloat and merge together, his face and hideous laughter the last to join the grotesque mass. Four massive tentacles sprouted from the mass and began to assault the party. This form was quickly taken down and many of its blows failed to harm the adventurers, Narciso’s shadow draining the beast’s strength and slowing its movements as the beast became less and less able to move. The party made short and gory work of the mass and it eventually ceased to move. From it sprang an eerie green light and the mass rose into the air, pieces of it falling away to reveal the body of the Prophet, his wounds healed and a sardonic smile on his face.

With another taunt of his status as a god, he teleported himself to the center of the room again and asked if the party had had enough and were willing to submit. Then the gravity of the room shifted and the party found themselves standing around the oculus. Confused, but thinking it a trick of the party, the Prophet activated a cube of force and began casting a devastating spell, floating ever higher as the spell formed. Knowing his victory was at hand, he summoned ten of his fell creations to surround the party. As he did this, the oculus, frozen solid, began to crack. As the creatures approached and the prophet’s laughing intensified, his insanity showing through more than ever, his creations each burst into black flames and burnt away. The cube of force he was protected by let out a resounding crack and trapped in it along with the prophet was summoned a magma ooze, burning away everything but the prophet’s bones. The cube of force splintered and Prophet and ooze both plummeted into the cavity of the false god’s eye socket.

The massive creature above the oculus finally proved to be too much and the oculus fractured, its pieces falling into the same pit as the prophet, their chill putting an end to the magma ooze and whatever life still remained within the Prophet. An immense centipede covered with plates of dead-black, chitinous armor burst into the tower through the massive hole that had formed, easily filling the twenty foot gap of flesh and stone. The creature coiled around the portal, devouring the bodies of the fallen mages acting as the runes and closing the portal. Upon its brow rested Jakalyn, who vanished into the creature before reappearing behind Narciso, whispering in his mind to stay still. Narciso complied and felt the hand of death inside and the pull of the object she was removing. A black gem was removed from inside of Narciso and as the Prophet rose, Jakalyn crushed the gem, allowing the dust of what used to be the Prophet’s phylactery settle over him. The air around the prophet became distorted and heated, wisps of black flame appearing in the air around him. The adventurers felt their bodies lift and no longer under the influence of gravity. “You destroyed one of my favorite cities, but then I learn you killed my daughter. For that, not even Pharasma will be able to judge you. Only oblivion awaits you.” With that, the signal was clear that it was time to end the prophet and the heroes finally destroyed him for good, his form collapsing to dust and the remnants of his soul ripped out of the air by Jakalyn.

As you touched the ground, a bright light filled the air and a portal opened and an older lady of the nobility stepped out, her hair touched with gray but well kept, and her iron-gray eyes missing nothing. Her clothing showed the jeweled purple of the true nobility, with a silver chalice and adamantine scepter in her hands, and a tiara carved from a single diamond on her brow. She identified herself as the Siamorphe and told Leon that the upper realms had taken notice of him and his presence was requested. As the woman took a step out of the portal, Jakalyn threatened her life, consumed with unprovoked rage at the woman. Archana stepped in to defend the woman and Jakalyn lowered her blades. The Siamorphe motioned for Leon to follow and he did, reappearing on the Eternal Sun, another plane in the multiverse. He was taken to the throne room, where he expected to meet the archon he had promised to aid when called upon or maybe even Lathander. What he learned however, was that his god was no more, the morninglord had awakened to become Amanuator, and the greater deity was the one to summon Leon, bestowing upon him the powers of a sunmaster and the knowledge of his god’s transformation. Leon took on a transformation himself, his skin gaining a silvery sheen and metallic wings sprouting from his back. He returned to the tower after this revelation, his thoughts trying to collect themselves and sensed his allies had gone through changes themselves.

As Leon stepped through the portal, his guide, the woman known only as the Siamorphe followed behind him, and turned to Jakalyn, “maybe next time, demon,” before following through after him. With the closing of the portal, Jakalyn opened her own, the smell of brimstone appearing with it. With a nod to the colossal black-plated centipede, she turned to Archana, “time to meet He Who Walks in Blood. Come with me, I’ll be your guide to in the Infernal Realm.” Archana stepped through the portal quickly, her excitement growing at meeting her deity. The portal opened upon the Realm of Avernus, the first layer of Hell. Following closely behind Jakalyn, the duo quickly made their way through the barren layer, passing by wandering souls, lakes of hellfire, and the armored bodies of countless fallen invaders. Eventually, they came upon the shore of Achaekek’s domain; a lake of blood surrounding Achaekek’s hunting grounds. The two found themselves able to walk across the lake, a sign of the demi-god’s approval. In the center of the island, Archana found her god in meditation, silence all that greeted her. Following Jakalyn’s lead, Archana began to meditate and her mind was filled with her god’s wisdom. A greater proficiency with her blades was instilled into her mind. When she opened her eyes, she found herself alone in the hunting grounds; a portal back to the tower in front of her. Her body ached as she rose and thousands of razor-sharp cuts adorned her body; seems while her mind learned the forms, her body perfected them at the guidance of another. She returned to her companions, her mind racing and found them changed as well.

As Greshnak and Narciso watched both Leon and Archana leave, they found themselves alone with the giant bloated corpse of the Far Realm entity and the monstrous centipede-like creature coiled around them. As Jakalyn closed the portal behind herself and Archana, the creature she had ridden in the tower began to stir once more. Its massive body raising itself high above the two, several unblinking red orbs among the shadows of its body staring down on you. In Narciso’s mind, a dark voice whispered, “The heart of shadows embraces few, pray that it does not consume you and he felt himself being pulled by several shadows into the darkness, the void entering him even as he fell into it. He found himself weightless and surrounded by nothing, but thousands of whispers filling his thoughts. It was impossible to make out anything specific, the voices mingling together with so many and it felt like an eternity, his mind nearly crumbling into oblivion. He managed to turn his thoughts inward before insanity overtook him and only the most ancient of whatever dark entities surrounded him were able to overcome his defenses, filling his mind with secrets of the shadow realm known to them. The essence of the realm itself fused with his soul, instilling him with even greater powers of shadow. Out of the darkness he felt himself pulled and when he opened his eyes, it was himself pulling his shadow from the void, his eyes now filled with dark motes of shadow. He regarded his companions and found them changed as well.

Greshnak was the only one left standing as each of his companions had been taken away or pulled into other realms. The colossal black centipede-like creature towered over him and stared down at him with great interest, but spoke in a manner Greshnak did not expect from such a creature. The creature’s voice intruded into his thoughts, “The last of the heroes of this wretched city, and the only one that I wasn’t given orders to not harm. I see the taint of Hell within you, fleshling. I know the secret you hide under the skin. I think it’s time for that secret to show on the outside.” A gate appeared behind Greshnak, opening onto the same plane that Archana had been taken too, and the massive creature began to charge Greshnak; rushing him through the portal and into a great lake of hellfire. The hellfire engulfed his body, the vileness of the flames reaching into his soul. The wretched flames burnt infernal runes into his flesh and he emerged charred and in agony. The colossal nightcrawler waited at the edge of the lake and a portal formed for Greshnak to pass through when he could finally overcome the agony wracking his body. A low rumble came from the beast, something that could be akin of laughter before burrowing its way through the soil of Hell. When the searing pain finally faded to a tolerable level, Greshnak forced himself to stand and walked through the portal. The people he had met after his ship crashed had returned as well, each one changed somehow and appearing stronger than before.
The heroes each noted how the others had changed with their otherworldly departures and then noticed that almost no time had passed in this world, the corpse of the false god still fresh. As they took in their old surroundings, unfamiliar to them after where they had been for what felt like at least a day or two, bits and pieces of flesh began to tear themselves from the false god and form green clouds as they joined together. A slight hum filled the air as hundreds of the clouds formed, the body of the false god disappearing before your eyes as those that were trapped within reclaimed their freedom. The swarms of flesh identified themselves as the Silthilar, an ancient race of fey creatures that had found themselves bound to this Far Realm entity as their ancient spell tore the plague from their bodies even as it tore their bodies to pieces. The entity had waited for this moment and claimed the newly created Silthilar as prisoners for thousands of centuries. For releasing them from their eternal torment, the Silthilar granted each adventurer a graft to enhance their physical forms. As the heroes embraced the swarms, their vision faded and they blacked out. When they came to, they found themselves encased in crystal, Silthilar swarms guarding over them. The crystal cells opened at a touch and they stood, slowly as their bodies reawakened. Each could feel the changes in their bodies and the vitality bestowed upon them by the ancient fey. After thanking the creatures, the group left the tower, now a crystal spire, and ventured outside.

The city of Riddleport was no more and a city with buildings of green crystal and paths of the same crystal crisscrossing the city. An electrical buzz filled the air and constructs, noqual goblins, and swarms of Silthilar filled the streets. Shocked at what had become of the city, the party decided to try and find Jared and the refugees. They found the complex that had housed the resistance empty; the site appearing abandoned. Confused, but ready to return to Korvosa for their reward, the group traveled to the Uga’s central core where the tribe greeted them as heroes and offered them the chance to ride upon the back of the noqual gargoyles. The party accepted, eager to finally be on their way back to civilization.

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DM_Alucard

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