Grasp of Orcus

Worldend - Chapter 4

The Battle of Worldend (September 14, 2013)

All the party of heroes wanted to do was find their friend. Instead, they found political intrigue, warfare and chaos.

Having found the barely conscious Tracker and rescued him from the dungeons beneath the city, our heroes found themselves running for their lives from Chloe Malvera and her Peacekeepers. Little did they know, however, that by weakening the Peacekeepers’ power and demonstrating that they could now be killed, they would start a riot that would engulf the city of Worldend.

When Melech appeared at the head of a column of Desertkin airships and invited the party to fight with him against the already rioting city of Worldend, each individual party member made a different choice.

Upon seeing that the city’s turret towers were the only serious danger to the airships, Born leapt to the rooftops and made a beeline for the southern city wall and the nearest turret, intending to destroy it from within. He still carried Tracker’s unconscious body in a sack over his shoulder.

Bree and Tinway each asked Melech to give them command of one of his ships, but he obliged only Bree, in deference to their shared worship of Ioun.

Honest Bob attempted to steal one of the airships, but was not successful. When he asked nicely, however, Melech put him in command of ship as well.

Berensir was given command of a ship as well, leaving Tinway the only party member who, for reasons known only to Melech, was not favored with his own command. Instead, he boarded Bree’s ship and began swinging down on ropes to assault the turret crews on the northern wall on foot while Berensir and Bree fired upon the turrets themselves from their ships.

Berensir made fine use of the ballistas installed on his ship, while Bree cast her spells through the magical amplification prisms built into hers, allowing her to blast fire into the turrets in much greater quantities than she could unaided. Tinway’s swashbuckling, meanwhile, went into overdrive as he repeatedly swung in and out of turrets while they collapsed around him, slaughterings enemies and never taking a scratch himself.

Born, meanwhile, had reached the first turret on the southern wall and, with some help from Honest Bob, captured it, then turned its ballista upon the next turret. Using Born’s strength to increase the stress on the ballista bow, they managed to extend its range enough to strike the next turret. Bob lit the bolt aflame before firing it, turning into a flaming missile of death. When their supercharged, flaming shot killed the loader on the turret they were firing upon, Born leapt down to the wall, believing he would be safe from attack long enough to reach the other turret and kill the gunner. Unfortunately, there was already a single bolt still loaded, and the gunner turned it upon the charging minotaur, very nearly smashing him to bits. Melech, however, witnessed the events from his place on the lead airship, and used his psionic power to hurl Born out of harm’s way an instant before the bolt struck.

The force of Melech’s psionic thrust carried Born into the very turret he had been trying to reach, but he failed to land solidly and slid right out the other side. This proved fortunate, as the turret collapsed from fire damage the instant Born smashed out the eastern side of it. The clumsy minotaur then fell several stories, where he landed upon the roof of the Resurrector’s tower, and found himself face to face with the mysterious mage himself. Knowing that he had neither the power to fight the Resurrector, nor the diplomatic skill to negotiate with him, Born took advantage of his lingering telepathic contact with Melech to give the Tiefling psionic control of his voice.

Through Born’s mouth, Melech told the Resurrector that the party had the power to free him from his imprisonment by the Malveras. This succeeded in confusing the creature enough that he left the roof and ceased taking active part in the battle, thus allowing his Peacekeepers to be slaughtered by the mob.

By this time, Berensir, Bree and Tinway had successfully destroyed two of the towers on the northern wall, and Honest Bob had returned to his airship, towing along a second one, which had been damaged in the fight. Born took control of the damaged ship and together, he and Bob engaged the final turret on the southern wall.

Seeing, however, that the last southern turret was not in range of their final goal at the Champion’s Palace, Born broke off from attacking it, instead spurring his airship crew on to ramming speed and crashing the vessel into a ball-and-chain tower on the eastern wall. By slicing open the airship’s balloon before impact, Born filled the tower with poisonous gas, rendering any immediate repairs impossible. Three of the Desertkin crewmen from the ship died in the crash, but the rest jumped to safety.

Escaping to the wall while yet another of the city’s defense towers collapsed into ruin behind him, Born found himself still holding one of the ballista bolts from the ship. This he threw at a nearby party of Peacekeepers, but missed them entirely.

The final ball-and-chain tower, in the northeast corner of the city, now had Born and his seven surviving crewmen in range, and launched their weapon at him. The ball missed its target and flew over the eastern wall, Leaving Born unscathed.

Honest Bob, having witnessed Born’s actions, now ordered all the crewmen off his own airship, then turned it toward the final ball-and-chain tower in the northeast corner, adjacent to the Champion’s Palace. Moments before what would have been another spectacular impact, however, Bob produced a magical amulet from beneath his shirt, held it up to one of the ship’s magic amplification crystals, and somehow vanished in a flash of light, taking the ship with him. Bob reappeared moments later without the ship, and fell to the rooftops below, sustaining only minor injuries. He never explained what he had done with the airship.

Berensir, Bree and Tinway used this time to demolish the final ballista tower on the northern wall, leaving the way to the Champion’s Palace open to them.

Meanwhile, Born and his allies stormed across the extended chain directly into the tower that had just missed then with its metal ball. The crew there, having already bailed once due to Honest Bob’s near collision, ran away again at the sight of the charging minotaur, this time with no intention of returning.

Now that all resistance was routed, Bree, Tinway, Berensir and Bob all snuck into the Champion’s Palace, in search of anyone or anything who could lead them to the emerald mines where Stern was imprisoned. All they found within was the dead body of last year’s champion, confirming that the Malveras were indeed killing the Champions and keeping it a secret in order to maintain control over the city.

Born, meanwhile, used the giant metal ball from the tower he had conquered to smash Wall-Eyes, who had previously betrayed him in the tournament.

Wall-Eyes had been heading for a secret exit from the city, and the companions followed his route until they discovered it. They discovered a secret passage leading out across the desert to the entrance of the emerald mine.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Urn Elrich was already in the mine, having been lead there by Chloe Malvera, who he had once again seduced while the rest of his friends were fighting a battle. Urn had been lead in safely by Chloe, but the rest of the party now found their path blocked by a chained dracolich. How such a powerful creature could have been restrained was not apparent, but after a few failed attempts to get past it, Bree released it from undeath using a free prisoner ritual she had acquired from the Book of Nerath in Winterhaven.

The heroes flew their airship as far as they could into the mine, then got out and walked. Along the way, they found a prison cell and rescued Stern. Surprisingly, he was at full strength and his paladin’s faith had actually increased as the result of his trials. Together, the entire crew descended to the bottom of the mine, where they found Chloe Malvera and Urn Elrich standing in an emerald chamber, where a barrier of emeralds had sealed off a section of the room with a glowing portal in it.

Despite Chloe’s urging not to do so, the party chose to smash the barrier. Only then did the Resurrector enter the chamber. Dark energy flowing from the now unblocked portal infused his body, and he recalled who he truly was: an aspect of the demon Orcus, enslaved these many centuries by the Malvera family in order to maintain their power over Worldend. It was through him that the Peacekeepers had been both controlled and empowered.

Now free, the demon attacked immediately. The entire party, now including Born, Stern, Saul, Bree, Berensir, Urn Elrich, Honest Bob, Tinway, Melech, and Chloe, joined forces to deafeat Orcus and, with great effort, managed to drive him back into the portal. At this point, Chloe cast a spell causing the mystical emerald cage to again encompass the portal, sealing Orcus off from the Prime Material Plane forever.

Upon returning to Worldend, the party found the city destroyed and enflamed. With the Malveras’ hold broken, the residents had continued rioting until the place was a ruin. Now the party members were welcomed as heroes, but the people demanded Chloe’s head. Lovestruck, Urn Elrich grabbed her up onto Scott Bakula’s back and rode away with her to safety.

With their business in Worldend concluded, the remaining party members were then hired by Princess Corvyre to escort her and her entourage across the desert to the city of Kandahar. At the urging of Stern, who seemed to have some previous connection with Corvyre, the party accepted.

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