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The Dawn Of The Scarlet Sun: wherein the ambiguous arcanist Voxel assembles an unlikely team of "specialists"; a half-ogre former gladiator named Oarg, and a strange tiefling calling himself Byragh. Voxel drives his unlikely squad onward towards his own esoteric purpose; the acquistion of the Shard of Pride.

GM Resources lists the various opponents and challenges the adventurers will face in this adventure, including the fiendishly powerful succubus Avalexi and her minions.

Session 2 (Magnimar Underbridge District)

Meet And Greet, And The Big Idea

Underbridge

Voxel led Byragh out from Underbridge to a run down but discrete inn called The End Of The Line secreted in the pocket of Dockway on the far east side of Underbridge.

Voxel had rented the entire establishment for several days, and thus all the rooms on the top floor were empty save for two; the room Voxel had chosen for himself and the room at the very top of the stairs which turned out to be occupied to capacity by a single very large Ogrekin in Voxel's employ.

Voxel introduced Byragh and the Ogrekin, named Oarg, and then immediately got down to business. Voxel eruditely explained various doings in the shadows of Magnimar of late, including a series of grisly murders involving the collection of hearts from priests of Sarenrae that had thus far been unsolved by the Watch. Apparently not realizing that neither of his two companions were as well educated as himself, he was oblivious that much of his high-browed language was going well over his hireling's heads. Nevertheless, the pair were drawn in by his powerful voice and commanding tone and thus were too enraptured to interrupt with questions.

Voxel somehow knew not only who was committing these crimes, but why, and where they were hiding out. According to Voxel the perpetrators were a small Cult of Shax attempting to establish themselves, led by no less than a succubus.

Yet, stopping the murders or capturing the murderers, or even preventing an evil cult from gaining power were all subjects of no interest to Voxel.

Voxel's only concern was that the cultists had been getting sloppier, and it would only be a matter of time before the Watch or some random adventurers figured it out and raided the cult's hideout beneath a failed shrine once dedicated to Sarenrae within the Underbridge neighborhood.

That simply would not do, as then someone other than Voxel might come to own an item of value thought long lost from the world that was currently possessed by the leader of the Cult. It would even be disastrous to Voxel's long term plans if mere knowledge of the item's continued existence became known. Voxel was determined to acquire the item before it was too late.

That's where Byragh's participation entered into play; Voxel explained that the catacombs had at least one deadly magical trap keyed to trigger when encountered by non-fiends. Voxel's theory was that due to his fiendish lineage Byragh would not set off such traps, and thus should be able to simply sneak into the catacombs and steal the item.

Oarg's services were being retained in case things did not work out as planned and a more direct and physical solution proved to be necessary.

Winding down the exposition, Voxel was somewhat aggravated by Byragh and Oarg's tentative followup questions which revealed that neither had really understood his explanation of the situation.

Grinding down his irritation along with his back molars Voxel started over, using small words, sketching out a basic map, and keeping it simple. Afterwards the two underpriveleged minions seemed to get the broad strokes of the plan. Wasting no further time, the trio set out to put it into action.

The Shrine Heist

The Old Shrine

Byragh was able to use his local knowledge of Underbridge to lead the trio stealthily to the abandoned shrine to Sarenrae, and they infiltrated an abandoned building abutting the shrine's property.

Voxel cast a spell on Byragh to enhance his grace and sneakiness, and peering over the wall to the shrine's courtyard pointed out to Byragh the concealed doorway down to the catacombs, just past three graves with headstones.

Clambering over the wall into the courtyard, Byragh failed to notice that the three graves had recently been dug up and refilled. Skirting the wall he snuck around to the catacomb door, only to discover that unlike the rest of the collapsing shrine the door and jamb were quite solid. Also, the door was secured by a new heavy iron padlock.

Byragh first attempted to force the door, then to snap the lock, and then to pick it with his pointy dagger, all to no avail.

Not to be discouraged, Byragh called upon his inner fire and melted the lock into useless slag, allowing it to simply run off his fingers to splatter upon the ground in a pool of cooling metal.

However, the flashy display of his flame powers did not go unnoticed, and suddenly a large rocky winged monstrosity dive bombed in, raking claws at Byragh's head. Byragh ducked underneath the claws and quickly opened the catacomb door, rolled around the door jamb, and closed the door behind him.

Pausing a moment to take stock, Byragh began to wonder what exactly he had gotten himself into...but his urge to power asserted itself, and he decided to press on.

Into The Catacombs

The Catacombs

Sneaking to the bottom of the stairs, Byragh paused at the corner and listened hard. Hearing shuffling and groaning sounds, he peaked around the corner to see three undead things with glowing eyes shuffling around a long hallway.

Concentrating, Byragh stoked his inner flames, and then leaned around the corner, emanating heat from within. Choosing the closest wight, Byragh unleashed an air-melting blast of fire, immolating the undead monstrosity instantly.

The other two wasted no time in lamentations, and rushed Byragh. One blocked off the stairway passage and the other attacked around the corner. Byragh fell back onto the stairs to avoid their claws, and then roll-vaulted into a leap over his attacker's head and immediately sprinted down the long hallway at top speed.

Momentarily confused, the wights gave up a slight lead to Byragh before turning to pursue. The chase took a left turn to proceed down a second long corridor, and Byragh rounded a second left with a solid thirty foot lead only to come face to face with closed double doors.

Whirling to face back the way he had come Byragh once again stoked the forge of his inner power and prepared for a desperate fight, but as the wights rounded the corner and lunged at him...a pair of glowing abyssal symbols appeared upon the walls on either side of the corridor. The symbols each released a devastating blast of fiendish flame, catching both wights in their twinned blasts.

Thinking quickly, Byragh released his own built up fire to augment the flames further, and both wights went up like Tian candles, incandescent heat oblitering them in an instant.

Turning back to the doors, Byragh listened at the jam and could make out two or more alarmed female voices from within. Feeling like his luck had about run out, Byragh decided he wasn't getting paid enough to take this much risk on his own, and turned tail to run back outside.

The Scarlet Son

The Scarlet Son

Exiting the catacombs and unsure of the location of the winged beast that attacked him previously, Byragh decided to make a fast dash across the courtyard in the hopes of avoiding another swoop attack. Vaulting the wall into the alley between it and the abandoned building where Oarg and Voxel were supposed to be, Byragh nearly landed on the head of a cloaked Voxel who was pensively waiting.

Stopping to apprise Voxel of the situation, Byragh didn't notice the shadow of a plummeting winged predator until it was almost too late. Byragh threw himself flat to avoid the plunging claws of the beast, but Voxel had his back to the monster and was caught unawares. However, the creature's grasping talons were deflected inches away by a shimmering blue arcane aegis and Voxel, though surprised, was unharmed.

Disappointed in its diving ambush, the monster gained altitude and attempted to fly off, but Voxel shouted out a word of power that shook the very air, and cracked the creature's rocky hide with magical sonic vibrations, sending stone-like chunks to rain down. Afterwards, Voxel shouted, "OARG! Knock it from the sky!"

Not bothering with doors or windows, the hulking gladiator simply ran through the dilapidated wall of the abandoned building he was hiding his large frame within. Seeing the monster flying somewhat ungainly about 60 feet up, Oarg simply chucked his giant mattock into the air in a massive overhead toss. Whoosh whoosh whoosh the humongous hammer sailed end over end through the air to slam into the creature, knocking it tail over head into a rolling fall to crash to the ground nearby in a thundering collision.

Byragh ran towards the creature's position and unleashed a blast of fire, but even cracked as it was the beast's rocky hide deflected the blast to no ill effect, and the monster took to the air once more.

Determined, Byragh propelled himself into the air on a column of intense flame to pursue.

Voxel sent another wave of magical sound at the monster, causing further destruction of it's stony exterior. Oarg ran down his hammer from where it had fallen and chucked it again to knock the monster out of the air once more.

The monster started to recover, but the rocketing Byragh slammed into it like a bolt thrown from a seige weapon, driving both of them downward.

Voxel, seeing Byragh going down, shouted out a new spell with the ability to arrest the tiefling's plummet to that of a falling feather.

This time the beast crashed through the roof of one of the buildings bordering the shrine's periphery, which proved to be inhabited by a couple of Sczarni criminals.

Byragh drifted comfortably down through the hole in the roof and landed beside the beast.

Oarg clambered onto the same building's roof to recover his hammer from where it had fallen, half embedded into the eaves, and the rafters groaning under his weight. Voxel, sighing at the total loss of stealth and the sad demise of his tidy plan, hitched up his robes and jogged to catch up.

Back in the house of the two Sczarni, to the surprised inhabitants both of the interlopers in their humble home looked pretty monstrous. One of the Sczarni pulled a hand crossbow out and shot both Byragh and the monster, while the other Sczarni picked up a wooden chair and chucked it across the room at Byragh, who ducked it. Aggravated, Byragh released a pulse of fire in a bubble around him, igniting the entire dining room and the busted rafters and thatch above.

The closer Sczarni fled from the dining room area, and both Sczarni proceeded to try to escape the burning death trap their home had just become through a boarded up window.

Up on the roof, Oarg noticed the roof nearby him go up in smokey flames, and wasted no time rolling off the eaves into the building's front yard. Landing on his feet with a ground-rattling thud, Oarg used his recovered hammer to smash the front door in, fortuitously opening up a clear line of sight inside for Voxel as he came around the edge of the building.

Voxel, though puffing a little from his jog, took advantage of the opportunity and let the monster have it once again with another air-shaking sonic shout.

Flaming roofing raining about its head, rocky skin fractured to uselessness, and overmatched by the determined adventurers...the creature took to the air once more.

Oarg stepped back to get a better angle and let fly with his hammer once more, but missed; the hammer landed somewhere within the shrine to Sarenrae amidst a loud clatter. Byragh took to the air again with his rocket trick in pursuit of the flying monster. But this time the beast gave it all it had left and managed to make good on its escape.

Let's Get This Done

Realizing he could not catch the fleeing flying rock monster and spotting his ally's giant hammer on the floor of the shrine below him, Byragh threaded his way down through the collapsed roof of the shrine to land next to the hammer.

"One of them is in here!", Byragh heard from nearby. Peering back over his shoulder he saw a very disturbing fellow tiefling in rather exotic attire standing in the open doorway out to the courtyard.

Flicking her deadly-looking sword, causing a bluish flame to spring alive down the swords edge, the tiefling started to thread her way through the broken debris and detritus clogging the shrine...obviously intent upon doing Byargh bodily harm.

Dragging the massive hammer with him, Byragh ran for the nearest wall where bare remains of a once-ornate stained glass window offered a rapid exit from the building. Launching himself out an open pane, Byragh almost got tripped up by the hammer's massive head lodging in the frame but managed to pull it loose with a shower of new stained glass shards.

Meanwhile Oarg was making his way towards the shrine to catch up, but paused to rip off the boards over the window the two Sczarni criminals were still attempting to escape their rapidly burning home through. Seeing the fearsome Ogrekin suddenly appear on the other side of the window frame, the Sczarni with a hand crossbow shot Oarg. Fortunately, the small bolt simply bounced off of the former gladiator's thick hide. The other Sczarni leaned out the window and attempted to club the Ogrish Oarg.

Voxel rounded the corner in pursuit, and seeing the two alarmed street thugs attacking his hireling barked out an order, "Leave off you fools; we are not here for you. Flee before you burn to death!"

And due to the power of Voxel's voice, the hapless Varisian low lifes did just that. Leaving them to their fate, Voxel and Oarg pressed on, running towards the shrine.

The tiefling magus closed the distance and thrust her sword out the window in an attempt to impale Byragh, but came up mere centimeters short of her mark.

Seeing Oarg and Voxel approaching, Byragh sprinted towards the lumbering bulk of Oarg, dragging the heavy hammer behind him to hand it off to the Ogrekin.

Taking up the comforting weight of the massively heavy weapon, Oarg charged forward at a speed alarming in one so large, to unleash a massive overhead smash on the tiefling assailant as she extricated herself from climbing over the window sill.

With a sickening crunch, the tiefling's shoulder and collarbone crumpled from the impact of Oarg's giant hammer and the fight seemed to go right out of the tiefling.

Lurching back from the massive pulverising attack, the strangely dressed tiefling magus turned tail and ran.

Voxel, trailing the two more physical members of his team, had just cleared the edge of the shrine's wall and thus had his back to the gap between the shrine and the burning house.

He must have seemed like an easy mark compared to Byragh and Oarg; an evil-looking half elf woman leaped from hiding to stab at Voxel's seemingly unprotected back, but again Voxel's arcane aegis shimmered into visibility and deflected her vicious looking dagger.

Turning in place, Voxel began to chant a spell but found his voice muted...but not to be undone he spoke a word of power that crushed the magical weave of the woman's Stone of Silence and then imperiously thrust a scintilating blue blast of arcane energies at his attacker, sending her hurling back into the wall of the buring house behind her.

Striking the wall with a jarring impact and a gust of displaced air that fanned the spreading flames around her, the dagger weilding ambusher made a small cry of pain and panic.

Hearing the noise of Voxel's blast and the crunching impact of the woman, Byragh turned to look back and seeing Voxel in conflict started to run towards the fight.

Injured, discouraged that her stand-by stone of silence trick had not worked, and seeing her ally flee, the murdering cultist decided to run for her life as well and ran back down the alley.

Grimacing at the course of events and unable to line up a good shot at either of the fleeing women's backs, Voxel turned and hustled to Oarg's position by the busted stained glass window of the shrine, gathering Byragh into his wake in the process.

"We must hurry now; reinforcements may be coming soon.", Voxel commanded, and gestured for Oarg and Byragh to preceed him into the shrine via the busted window.

All three entered the shrine and proceeded across its debris-ridden floor and out the door to the courtyard, then around the corner and down into the catacombs.

As he walked down the stairs, Voxel cast a quick spell and a ball of glowing light sprang into the air casting sharp illumination into every nook and crevice.

Scanning everything for sign of magical traps, Voxel had a look of pensive concentration on his face. Byragh said, "There was a trap around the last corner, but it went off".

"Well then, let us hope it does not reset itself. Also, there may be others. Lead us on the exact route you took earlier.", Voxel replied.

Byragh led his two companions down the hall past the remains of the first burnt wight, around the first and second lefts, and stopped in front of the other two fried wights. "This is where it was; two glowing marks on that wall and that wall pushed very hot fire out.", Byragh rasped.

Voxel stared intently at both walls, and the double doors beyond. Finally he said, "The trap appears to have expended its energy, but I sense dangerous magic seeping around the edges of those doors. Something waits for us beyond. Come closer for a moment."

Voxel lightly touched Byragh and Oarg's arms and chanted another spell; shimmery blue sigils danced across all three adventurer's skins for a moment. "I've extended my aegis to both of you. It wont last long but should shield you somewhat from an initial mystical assault. Now, Oarg, if you would be so kind...", Voxel gestured to the doors and then stepped back around the corner...just in case.

Looking at Voxel using the corner for cover and Oarg, unsure what to do, Byragh opted to advance with Oarg and shelter with his back to the stone wall to the side of the jamb. Oarg put a large foot up and push-kicked the doors in with the sound of cracking wood.

Demonology 101

Dlaxia

Beyond the double doors was revealed a descrated chamber complete with profane altar! Spiky abyssal runes drawn in blood decorated the walls and at points around the room the bodies of various birds were impaled upon sharp sticks and thorny hooks. The stench of decay lay thick, with no ventilation.

Near the back wall a boulder with lumps of rotting flesh rested before the sigil of a feather dipped in a pool of blood; the Sign of Shax. On the left and right walls were archways set with barred doors.

And in the center of the chamber floating in mid-air above a glowing red circle of protection inscribed in abyssal glyphs, a darkly beautiful arcanist grinned at the grand entrance of Oarg, looking over the edge of a unfurled scroll held low before her. With a taunting voice she called out, "Finally, you've come to play with me. I was beginning to think you'd loiter out there into the wee hours!", and laughed.

Glancing down at the scroll, she playfully said a few arcane syllables, and a thick wall of blazing flames sprang into existence between her and the double doors, stretching from wall to wall.

Not afraid of the flames, Byragh whirled around the corner of the door jamb and dashed inside, running through the wall of fire without harm. However he was stopped dead in his tracks by an invisible column of power emanating from the circle of protection the crazed arcanist floated above. Aggravated, Byragh shot forth his own flames but the blast parted harmlessly in a circle to briefly illuminate the perfect column of magic protecting his target.

Less enthusiatic but determined, Oarg shielded his moon-like face with one beefy arm and ran thru the fire wall, singing his clothing but his thick hide proved to be sufficiently resilient, along with a little help from Voxel's aegis spell. Winding up for a massive over the shoulder hammer strike, Oarg nearly lost his grip when the massive mattock collided with the invisible circle of protection and bounced back.

Voxel looked around the corner and seeing the situation moved up to the double doors. Peering through the flickering wall of flame, he uttered a reverberating Word of Power which caused the abyssal glyphs of the circle to flare up and then extinguish as if blown out.

Not liking that development, the hovering spell caster levitated up and over the wall of fire, shot past Voxel to the end of the hallway, and whirled around to face back at her attackers. "No fair, lovely. That's cheating!", she taunted Voxel.

Quickly making mystic passes with her lithe arms and whispering an incantation, she caused a mystical darkness to bubble up from the flooring and rapidly fill both the altar room and the hallway in front of the doors.

Voxel's arcane light guttered and then was consumed as the darkness enveloped the area. The blazing wall of fire granted some faint illumination immediately next to itself, but otherwise the darkness was total.

Byragh and Oarg were momentarily unsure of what to do and hesitated. Voxel, as ever, was more decisive. "Byragh, you should be able to banish this darkness if you try. Oarg, find one of the barred doors and smash it in, then find the other! We must be swift!"

Then Voxel attempted to suppress the wall of fire...but appeared to suffer a rare failure!

Taking Voxel's order, Byragh concentrated on the darkness and tried to dissipate it. He could feel it starting to give way, but he momentarily lost focus and couldn't quite do it.

Oarg was more successful...using the faint illumination of the wall of fire to find the nearest wall, he ran one oversized hand along it to find the first archway and swiftly ripped the locked door open with his vast strength. The cell-like room on the other side was outside the spell of darkness, and Oarg was able to see a sleeping chamber, some bags of supplies, and a locked chest against the wall. "Found it boss!", he called out in a booming voice.

"Oh, that wont do!", the demonologist muttered. Though it was unseen by the adventurers who were mired in mystical darkness, still hovering with legs akimbo she sat up straighter and focused. Eyes briefly lighting up as if illuminated from within, she pointed an imperious finger and unleashed a seed of rapidly moving fire which expanded as it traveled to fill the entire passageway.

Feeling the blistering heat, Voxel turned his face away and focused on holding his aegis steady. The aura around him flared up to a rare intensity, but held. Voxel's robes smoked slightly and sweat sprang from his brow, but he was unharmed.

The fireburst continued its course into the chamber of the shrine and expanded to fill most of the space, incinerating everything it touched and catching both Oarg and Byragh in its area.

Byragh of course was relatively unaffected, feeling a slight tingle of excitement as he was bathed in fire and seemed to somehow absorb the heat into himself, not even singing his tattered clothing.

Oarg was not so lucky, and howled as his tunic caught fire and the thick skin of his back crisped. Grabbing at the front of his ruined flaming shirt, he ripped it off and cast it aside. The last vestiges of Voxel's protective spell upon Oarg dissolved; if not for its aid Oarg's burns would have been much worse.

Get Your Rally Caps On

Gritting his teeth, Voxel focused his will and cast a wall of force across the hallway to block the dangerous sorceror and buy some time for his team to rally. "Byragh! We need this darkness gone!", he shouted into the gloom.

Briefly wondering why Voxel, the mighty warlock, didn't dispel the darkness with his magic Byragh concentrated intensely shutting out all external distractions and embracing his fiendish lineage. The effort was tiring, but Byragh felt the darkness respond to his will, and give way.

With the darkness rapidly fading, Oarg swallowed his pain and ran across the chamber to the other archway, pushing the door in with ease. The other cell had several bed rolls and stank of close inhabitation, but nothing of real value stood out.

Voxel once again attempted to extinguish the wall of fire, trusting his force wall to fend off the opposing sorcerer. However, he failed again and the wall continued to blaze.

Pouting, the sorceress began a summoning ritual, brought forth an assaulting demon from the Abyss, and set it upon Voxel.

The burly, horned little demon launched itself at the wall of force and began rending it with its wicked claws.

Emboldened by his success at getting rid of the darkness, Byragh turned his attention to the wall of fire. Rather than attempt to dissipate it, he instead attempted to siphon its flames into himself...and it worked!

Feeling the tide of battle shift in their favor, Voxel turned his full attention to the whimsical sorceress with a look of determination and resolve.

"Byragh, Oarg! It's time to finish this!", Voxel called out. Then, dissolving his force wall, Voxel blasted the hideous little demon into nonexistence.

Byragh and Oarg moved out of the shrine and joined Voxel in a line in front of the double doors. Squaring off, the three adventurers tensed to leap into action in a concerted effort.

However, the sorceress had used the time to unfurl another scroll. "Hmph! You're spoiling all my fun. I don't think I want to play anymore.", she sulked, and then called out the final phrase of the enscribed spell. In an instant, she winked out of existence.

Lets Get Out Of Here

Shrugging, Voxel turned to the other two. "Well done. I chose well when I hired you both. Now, Oarg, show me what you found.

Oarg nodded and led Voxel to the first cell. Seeing the chest, Voxel allowed a small smile to touch the corner of his mouth. Pointing to it Voxel said, "Excellent. Pick it up and let us be gone from this place. Byragh, gather up these sacks."

Oarg squeezed his bulk through the archway and lumbered over to the chest. Sticking his giant hammer haft through his belt, Oarg bent over and picked the chest up as if it weighed nothing. Simultaneously Byragh came in behind Oarg to grab up the sacks per Voxel's orders.

Unfortunately, another abyssal sigil was hidden beneath the chest and once revealed it exploded. But, for no obvious reason, the blast fizzled out having almost no effect.

The three adventurers comically did a double take, collectively shrugged, and made good their escape back to the inn.