Before entering the shrine, the party found an unconscious halfling priest named Erkel, a worshipper of Mick O’Delving, merry god of halflings. The little man’s energy was infectious and he offered to help them rescue Urol. They entered the shrine and the bronze double doors thundered closed, trapping Keahilani and Jimmy in the hallway on the others side.
Urol began the descent into the fiery pit below, dangling from a chain 40 feet above. He screamed and thrashed as fear overtook him and he saw his salvation in his traveling companions. Bertram spider-climbed up the wall and handed a potion of Fly to Aleister. Aleister flew himself to the captive gnome only to be violently thrown to the floor by an unseen force. The bar-lgura leader became visible on one wall cackling at his use of Telekinesis. “You thought me destroyed, but my master is strong. The Lord of the Abyss! So long as this focus exists, I cannot die and you cannot leave!”
The four smaller statues in the east and west alcoves animated, their sneering clay monkey heads clacking as they moved. Two of them bore long swords and attacked Ono and Erkel. The other two removed long bows and began firing into the party, filling Bertram, Ozzy, Crikey and Aleister with ancient feathered shafts. Hooting, the bar-lgura clambered around the walls, teleporting back and forth as he attacked Ono, Bertram and Aleister all in turn. More disturbing, the larger statue near the altar, a replica of Demogorgon itself, flickered to life, slowly moving one tentacle, then another.
Ozzy summoned many crocodiles and shape-shifted into one himself. Along with Crikey, they tripped and attacked the statues, doing little damage but keeping them from the more vulnerable members of the party. Ono, full of arrows and cuts from long swords nearly fell. Aleister managed to avoid the bar-lgura and thrust the potion into the thrashing Urol’s mouth. The gnome was alarmed, but Aleister provided one simple instruction, “Fly!” With that, the frightened gnome, still tethered to the chain, began to wildly fly in circles and zig-zag motions to the limit of the chain, screaming the entire time.
Bertram started taking shots at the statues, removing one. Ono, Crikey and Ozzy destroyed another. The archers didn’t last long, but managed to fell Aleister twice, especially when the Bar-lgura attacked from behind. The elven witch was down and Erkel, himself gravely wounded channeled all the power of his happy god to revive most members of the party.
It was then that the visage of Demogorgon came to life. The golem stepped off the dais, moving with a sinuous grace that belied his stony form. It let loose with a mind-shredding shriek. Some in the party were shaken, but upon a second shriek, Ozzy panicked and clawed at the bronze doors to esape. His summoned creatures went into disarray. Though the bar-lgura fell, one archer construct and the golem waded through the party.
Ono stood toe-to-toe with the golem. As Urol shrieked and spun around the top of the room, Aleister again lay unconscious, bleeding out. The demogorgon construct’s tentacles seemed to wither and drain life force. Ono shriveled and weakened, falling himself. Erkel revived him, but only just. Bertram escaped up the wall out of reach. The last archer fell and, once Ozzy freed himself from the fear effect, he managed to bring down the bar-lgura with Bertram and Ono’s assistance.
At last, only the demogorgon golem remained. Ono ran. Summoned creatures fell before it and could not harm it. Crikey went unconscious. Aleister stopped bleeding but was motionless. Bertram continued to fire into the animated statue, inflicting little damage. Ozzy confronted it, keeping it from killing the rest of the party, but couldn’t last long. Finally, all of his healing gone, Erkel joined Ozzy to confront the statue. Ono flanked it. Each in turn was grappled and drained of energy. Though Ono escaped, Erkel could not free himself. The party watched in horror as the happy halfling withered and was drained into a lifeless husk.
Ono made his last stand, trembling before this tiny bit of Demogorgon’s might. Just before he fell, Bertram came behind the statue and emptied a bullet into it, creating a crater in the statue’s head and turning it into rubble. A veil of darkness lifted and the bronze doors opened. They looted what they could and freed the spinning Urol from the ceiling. Rejoined with Keahilani and Jimmy, they exited the cursed temple and found their traveling companions.
Montgomery and Jenky had fulfilled their promise to watch over the rest of the party. Amellia was frightened, but overjoyed that they rescued Urol. Even Avner seemed to reluctantly congratulate the party and welcome the gnome. The mist cleared over the next hour and, at last, they exited the valley. With Urol’s help, they found a game trail, traveling for two more days before finding a small village named Tanaroa, populated with a distant branch of Tulita. The villagers understood that they needed passage to Farshore and arranged long boats to take them to the small island to the south.
It was clear that something was wrong. As they neared Farshore, they could see smoke. In the docks was a ship flying the banner of the Crimson Fleet. Other Crimson Fleet ships could be seen in the distance, closing on the island. A spark of hope lit when they saw the Blue Nixie at the docks and Lavinia and the Jade Ravens battling pirates near the ship.
Montgomery, Jenky, Keahilani and Jimmy secured Avner, Urol and Amellia and then battled pirates to the east. Fires burned in the settlement. A church was being razed. And a young lass was chased by a gruesome one-eyed half-orc. The party put out fires using magic and intimidated pirates attacking the church before cutting them down and rescuing villagers inside. Ono took out the half-orc and they all took part in small skirmishes.
A pirate captain and part of his crew were cutting down the settlement’s militia until Aleister and Bertram confronted them. Aleister cast a slumber hex on many of them while Bertram strode up to the leader, firearm in hand. The captain was filthy, greasy blond hair covering one side of his face. A deep red burn mark covered his throat. “Ye’ll not take me, matey! Slipknot Pete has escaped death before!” Pete twirled his rapier, showing deft skill with the blade. Bertram lifted his weapon and fired point-blank into Pete’s face. Later tales would tell of how Slipknot Pete’s nickname changed within seconds to pumpkin-head Pete, an apt description of what was left, smoking and spread across the grass.
The initial attack disrupted, the party regathered and met Lavinia. She instructed the Jade Ravens to gather the townsfolk and fortify what defenses they could. Though happy to see her old friends, Lavinia’s expression turned grim as she saw the other three ships close with the shore. From one ship, many fireballs lobbed into town, a hooded, serpentine figure casually flicking his wrist as other serpent-folk scattered about the deck. Another ship docked. Flesh golems lumbered forth and began tearing down buildings. Materializing in the air above the party, vulture-like demons appeared in a puff of brimstone.
And, from the lead ship, flew a bat-winged demonic humanoid with small black horns on his head. Though far away, he noticed the party and, seemingly surprised, yelled, “Lavinia! My sister! Finally, we will be reunited!” Lavinia cried in horror, recognizing the creature as Vanthus, her brother. But something was terribly, horribly wrong. Vanthus waved one arm, flying back to his ship and the demons descended towards the party…