Deciding there was no time to waste, our heroes decided it was time to head up the lava tunnels to the caldera where the odd-shaped temple resides. Marching up the tunnel, they arrived in the temple’s blue tower area. It was about 120ft across with odd angled walls. Other colored areas were visible in the distance. Above them, they could see the planar rift and Tiamat struggling to come through from Hell.
Valin, O’Dell and Caesare cast protection from energy (acid, fire, and lightning) on Orik. O’Dell cast death ward on Klang. O’Dell decided that was enough for the buffs and rushed in, knowing time was short.
Six red wizards were positioned throughout the temple with one floating in the air in the main apex of the temple before the planar rift, wearing the fully assembled mask of the dragon queen. They were all fully engaged in the ritual of Tiamat’s return, and were prime targets for ranged attacks.
There were some who noticed the blue mask was present and questions ran through their minds. Caesare had no such questions as he cast a fire bolt at the nearest red wizard. O’Dell, having rushed ahead, was taking in the scene at close range. Klang and Orik rushed to his side. Klang cast beacon of hope to help the three survive what was about to come.
Rolen moved far ahead along one wall, stopping just short of the next red colored area to use the wall as cover and launched his attack at the flying/floating red wizard with the mask. Valin and Caesare joined Rolen’s position and launched their own attacks.
Then the devils arrived, 10 in all, each of a different variety – barbed, bearded, horned, chain, ice, erinyes, lemure, imp, bone, pit fiend. And for some reason, the pit fiend felt is was necessary to bring his hell hound along for fun. Snosare (the construct Caseare made of himself) was the first attacked by the devils, but he successfully dodged. Valin and Orik were poisoned when struck by the devils. Klang and O’Dell both took hits from the devils as well.
O’Dell reached for Klang, saying “T’is my time good friend to put an end ta dis. Ye are warded from death, so be sure to bring me back.” Then O’Dell misty stepped away to the flying/floating red wizard, who he recognized as Severin – the leader of this insanity. O’Dell knew he had made the right decision coming up here. “Never bother with the minions if the leader is in sight”, his pappy had always said.
Klang meanwhile looked up as O’Dell’s misty form vanished to lock eyes with the pit fiend and his pet hell hound, leaving him and Orik flanked by several devils. Shaking his fist at the pit fiend, Klang shouted, “Ye bastard O’Dell, ye dodgy paladin running from devils, yer gonna o’ me for dis!” Then he pulled out his holy water, but not to throw it. He new the pit fiend was the worst of the bunch, so he clenched it to his breast, the words coming to him as in prayer as he waved his other arm about, and cast banishment on the fiend. The fiend disappeared in a sudden silence followed by a “pop” sound. Then the hell hound was upon him.
Rolen had become engaged in mêlée with the devils and was successfully applying his sneak attacks. Valin, having spotted Rath Modar, successfully targeted him with his arrows and forcing him from participating in the ritual – a seemingly key part of stopping the ritual.
Snosare moved into position to line up several devils and released a lightning bolt, striking all of them and killing one. Caesare also moved into a similar position, lining up several devils, and released a lightning bolt, killing the imp. The remaining devils attempted to strike down these formidable foes, but the protective magics they had on prevented most of the damage, with one devil dropping his glaive. Caseare took a hit, but it wasn’t fatal.
Other devils picked what seemed to be easier targets. The chain devil grappled Rolen in chains.
O’Dell, recognizing his foe, unloaded on him with a smite of vengeance that won’t soon be forgotten. While Severin had taken a few ranged hits from Rolen and Valin, what O’Dell unleashed crushed him into a bloody pulp; a fleshy mess is all that remained. It was an odd scene as Severin’s body continued to float in the air, his blood falling to the floor below.
An image appeared in O’Dell’s mind of an ornery dwarf wielding two axes, yelling at him, “TAKE THE MASK AND FLEE YOU FOOL!” Never one to ignore divine guidance, O’Dell set to extracting the mask from Severin’s crushed corpse.
Klang, busy with his own problems, dropped sacred flame on a devil, then cast sanctuary on himself. He needed to keep that banishment spell going for a minute to ensure that pit fiend wasn’t coming back. Orik kept the nearby devils busy, but the hell hound was having none of it.
Right about then, the armies arrived with Raven at their head. So that’s what she’s been doing all this time – Harper’s sneaky business. The giant’s flying castle and the metallic dragons had begun their assault outside on the temple and chromatic dragons. The Order of the Gauntlet was guarding the entrance and laying low those outside with the Emerald Enclave. It seems the Red Wizards would have kept the devils in check, but there was not use worrying about that now.
Now was time for the Arcane Brotherhood to start taking down the red wizards involved in the ritual. And so it went, with red wizard after red wizard falling to Arcane Brotherhood. Not that the brotherhood didn’t suffer losses as well. But the tide of battle had changed and there were now signs of hope that Tiamat may not return.
Rolen attacked the chain devil that had him grappled. Valin attacked several devils. Snosare cast another lightning bolt. Caesare used his staff to cast an ice storm on five of the devils, killing one. Raven joined combat, killing one devil.
The DM blurted, “Wizard bullshit!”
The devils struck back, hitting Orik, Valin, Rolen, Caesare, and Snosare. Having finally extracted the mask from Severin’s remains, O’Dell started flying for an exit…at a poky 25 feet per turn. Seems dwarves don’t fly any faster than they run…must be air resistance.
Valin noticed the planar rift was slowly closing after devils had thrashed him. The red wizards abandoned the ritual and turned to attack the Arcane Brotherhood. Klang cast healing on Valin. Rolen attacked using his feats, dealing continued damage to the devils. Valin got off a good shot on Rath Modar, killing the bastard.
Then it was Snosare running for the exit. Caesare cast his final lightning bolt on three devils. Then it was a quick death for the remaining devils and hell hound. The Arcane Brotherhood killed the remaining red wizards and the planar rift was gone.
Tiamat’s return had been foiled by the Goblin Stompers.
There was the usual body looting and plundering the remaining lava tunnels, all the treasure of which was turned over to the council to divvy up between the 15 competing interests. While the Goblin Stompers were one of those 15, they were not particularly concerned with money at the moment. In fact, if they had been more concerned, O’Dell would have insisted on returning most of the stolen loot to the rightful owners, effectively pissing off everyone who fought in the battle. No, instead, they were all just thankful to be alive. They remembered to bring out the prisoners from their short stay in the magical mansion with some not wanting to leave.
The dragon cultists and their dragons had been beaten and now they fled from the Well of Dragons. The immediate threat to Faerûn was over. The Goblin Stompers had won the day.
No milestones were technically achieved. No increment in class levels were attained. But the DM was harangued long enough that he conceded to grant some magic items to most involved.
Each received a little something, some (not Valin or O’Dell) gained divine blessings:
O’Dell received a dwarven thrower.
Klang received dwarven plate mail 7 damage on critical hits)
Rolen received studded leather armor +1.
Caesare received gray robes of the archmagi.
Raven received as short sword of 9 lives and the silver Horn of Valhalla.
Valin received a ring of protection +1.
Then they took some long overdue downtime.
Orik learned new languages: giant, elven, and draconic. He also started a new barbarian tribe that worships Bob and created a mercenary business.
Valin spent time honing his armor’s features, adding a +1 to it.
Klang traveled (as his deity is fond of doing) to gain political influence among the cities of the Sword Coast, visiting any temples to the dwarven pantheon along the way.
Caesare gained proficiency in religion.
Raven worked with Valin to improve her armor’s features, adding +1 to it.
O’Dell worked on building an army with the Lord’s Alliance for a “drow hunt” in his mountain home.
Just for fun, we duked it out with Tiamat for an hour, just to see how we’d fare. Under ideal conditions, we managed to kill her…but it took several rounds of healing to keep the team on their feet.
With the players needing a little downtime, we agreed to reconvene in a few weeks, leaving it to Paul to put something on the calendar. Perhaps our characters will travel to Phlan yet! Mostly because the Goblin Stompers had seen enough of the Sword Coast…or was that the Sword Coast had seen enough of them?
“Clangeddin don’t go ‘round givin hand outs to jus anybuddy. Ya gotta earn it. Tiamat was jusn peeking her heads out inta this world. She knew better than to try to come in. This was just a side quest for old O’Dell, I gotta mountain fulluv dank drow to exterminate and my family’s honor to restore. My reward comes when I’m feeding da mushrooms under da family garden back home. Then I’ll have time to rest in Clangeddins great battlefields, takin in the glory of honorable conflict. Now dis here throwin hammer is interesting, never thought it was a good idea to throw one’s weapon away, but I guess I’ll try it out onna few drow skulls. Who’s wit ol’ O’Dell?”