The Hands that Move the World

Into the Breach

Olarune 1, 1000 YK

The party arrives at the Starpeaks, and there they are reunited with Stahlstrauss, Marlamin Tarmikos, and Cecil Morris Duran, all of whom have brought their own unconventional armies. Zan-kyri has also arrived, bringing with him the Frozen Colossus. After a short meeting to learn that the portal will be held open by some kind of binding in the Bronze Citadel near the portal on the Baator side, the portal opens, and the armies enter. The initial breach comes with several casualties, most of which are peasant rabble and Valenar elves. The march to the Bronze Citadel is fraught with danger, and more damage is sustained, including the destruction of the Excavators of the Mournland and the constructs build by House Cannith. Finally, besieging the citadel itself, despite the highly effective use of the Double Penetration Maneuvre, results in a great number of additional casualties before they break through.

The remaining armies pierce to the heart of the citadel, where the party meets a large number of legion devils commanded by Bralgazor: the same war devil who first emerged from the portal years ago. They break his retinue apart and slay him, allowing Stahlstrauss to rip out its skull and mount it on his back. But the malebranche was only protecting the entrance to the Bronze Tower, where the real binding is to be found. Within waits Bel and Dispater, two archdukes of hell. They are keeping the portal open by using the barley-alive, constantly-tormented Lucan’s body and soul. The devils fight the party, a long and difficult battle. Though Tam’elanath, Cecil, and Zan-kyri are all killed (Cecil only killed after trying to become a new archduke), they emerge victorious. Tam’elanath’s and Zan-kyri’s bodies are taken away as Stahlstrauss loads the room with explosives, and they float away in the Fat Dragon, detonating the Bronze Tower behind them.

The armies cheer and shout as they return to the portal, and the Arcane Congress closes it behind them forever.

Experience Gained: 19,062 XP (4150 from Skill Challenge, 4150 from Legion Devil combat, 7562 from Archduke combat, 3,200 from quest completion)

Main Characters: Tam’elanath Edroin d’Thuranni, Zil’dejin Firebane, Stahlstrauss, Cecil Morris Duran, Zan-kyri, Marlamin Tarmikos, Derli d’Kundarak, Xulgos Adinimys

Olarune 1, 1000 YK

Aboard the Phoenix Eclipse, the party arrives at the Starpeaks. The Arcane Congress has leveled the peaks themselves and almost entirely dismantled the observatory, leaving only the formerly-hidden structure that contains the portal to Baator. When they land, they meet with Nimozaran the Green and Coref Irvallo, and are surprised to see that the armies are greater in number than they expected. Stahlstrauss, Marlamin Tarmikos, and Cecil Morris Duran have arrived, bringing armies of warforged, the undead, and bound demons, respectively.

A brief summit is held where the Eclipse Collective, old and new, discuss commanders of armies, marching orders, and strategy. After meeting the obnoxious First Warlord Adal ir’Wynarn of Aundair, they learn that the portal is fully under the devils’ control: they can hold it open by binding it to something powerful, which the Arcane Congress believes to be located in the Bronze Citadel, just past the portal. They decide to assault it.

Soon, the portal opens, and is thrown wide by the Arcane Congress. They advance, with High King Vadallia’s Valaes Tairn entering first, along with their Kel Gryfaen elites. Next is Stahlstrauss’ Resolved warforged and Marlamin’s Blood of Vol undead, who witness the Valenar elves under assault. The Resolved break a shield wall set up by devils, mainly erinyes and infernal armour, giving a clear path for Marlamin’s charge to save the struggling elves. He succeeds eminently well, rescuing many. Zil’dejin arrives next with the Titan’s Aegis mercenaries, only to be ambushed by assassin devils. They tear through his ranks and wound him significantly, and though he slays them all, very few mercenaries are left standing. Zan-kyri, on the back of the Frozen Colossus, is assailed by chain devils dropping from the sky. With their barbed chains, they bring the colossus to the ground, where it remains until Xulgos and the Excavators of the Mournland enter the portal and launch a volley to slay the chain devils. Derli enters with an army of assorted rabble calling themselves “Sovereign Crusaders,” who responded to his call for just that. However, shortly after they enter a batallion of sucubi and incubi charm them away, and drain their souls, leaving him to join the United Mror Clans instead, lead by Red-eye. At the rear, Cecil’s demon army is attacked by an entire legion of legion devils, but they hold strong, taking minimal casualties as the legion devils break along their defensive wall. The Fat Dragon, a flying castle built by House Cannith, enters. It is captained by Tam’elanath, who orders it to “fire everything” at flying spined devils who attack it. The flying devils are utterly destroyed.

Moving up the hill towards the Bronze Citadel, a division of shock troop devils — huge and heavily armoured — barrel down the slope. Derli prepares to charge them alone, but Stahlstrauss and his warforged meet them first. He plants his banner in the ground and holds fast, and by enduring many attacks the Resolved are able to break the powerful line. Hell knights, on the back of flaming horses, charge forth, but Derli is ready to meet them, and rallies the dwarves with a prayer and a blessed charge, destroying the knights with holy light. Marlamin finds his undead beset by burning devils, but raises the Altar of Fury of whip his undead into a fervor, destroying them quickly. Zil’dejin, now without an army, notices the flanks being attacked, including the Prince of Bones’ undisciplined trolls and ogres. He rushes in and commands them, forcing them to adapt tactics to repel the attack. The Excavators find themselves in the midst of a swarm devil who ravages the inner forces, including his own. The excavators, including Zebith, are almost entirely wiped out before the thing dissipates. Meanwhile, Cambions fly from elsewhere on Avernus towards the rear, but Cecil assaults them with fire magic while his demons lay into them, stopping them before they do too much damage. Zan-kyri’s Frozen Colossus comes under the attack of mutant rage devils, but he uses the colossus to lift one up and use him to smash apart the others, leaving none behind.

Confronted with the foot-thick gate to the Bronze Citadel, the party begins to hatch a plan using siege weapons to break it open. Zil’dejin and Stahlstrauss stop them before anything is decided on, and nod to each other. The Double Penetration manuevre, not seen in almost two years, is employed. Zil’dejin slides low and Stahlstrauss whirls overhead, their collective force blowing open the thick gates, rocking them nearly off their hinges. They find themselves further into the citadel when ice devils arrive to attack the remaining army, spearing and destroying much of the Aundairian Regiment before Cecil brings his demons forward to unleash fire upon them. A cambion hero soon launches from the walls to attack Zan-kyri and decapitate the Frozen Colossus, but Zan-kyri has the Colossus launch him directly into the cambion’s path, punching him so hard as to collapse his spine before the construct catches him. An infernal engine, a construct of metal, fire, and bone, emerges from the gates to run down the armies, but Derli and his dwarves go to meet it and hold fast. At the same time, a pyramidal structure, meant as a deployment siege engine, floats out of the citadel, only to be met by Tam’elanath and his flying castle. They lay waste to the citadel itself while bringing down the infernal embassy, sending boulders, explosives and all manner of destruction down. Hell knights sortie to try and mitigate the damage, and Marlamin goes to meet them. While he manages to defeat them, virtually all of his undead are sundered in the process. Not long after, warlocks of all descriptions appear along the walls and rain hellfire on all, doing damage across the armies but especially to the Karrnathi Mages Alliance. Xulgos, acting alone, flies into the air and blasts them with eyebeams, giving time enough for Nimozaran to unleash a powerful spell to stop them.

The worst of the assault is over, and despite many casualties the armies are in decent shape, able to push clear into the heart of the citadel, where the greatest challenge still awaits. Nimozaran the Green, using scrying magic with the aid of Adal ir’Wynarn — also Aundair’s Minister of Magic — have discovered that the focal point of the portal, the keystone holding the gate to Baator open, is at the heart of the citadel in what they refer to as the “Bronze Tower.” There are large numbers of powerful devils between the Collective and the Bronze Tower, but the party is undaunted. Collective moves further in, and as the space tightens further into the citadel they are forced to abandon their siege weaponry, including the Fat Dragon and the Frozen Colossus. Adal ir’Wynarn attempts to join them, to take the credit and impress his men with his heroism, but Stahlstrauss denies him, refusing to bring dead weight to be killed unnecessarily by devils. He is dissuaded from following by being put in charge of the remaining Starpeaks Alliance forces waiting near the entrance of the citadel.

Further into the city, the party reaches a keep: a sort of inner gatehouse protecting the heart of the Bronze Citadel where the tower awaits. The keep is commanded by a malebranche (war devil): the very same one who killed Lucan Vrinsk d’Medani in 998 YK and who first switched the direction of the gate to Baator. The malebranche has a platoon of legion devils with him, standing beneath him while he perches atop the gate, spurring the others forward. The party drives forward, with many of the legion devils wiped out by a powerful spell cast by Cecil, which spins a pillar of flame through their ranks. In response, the malebranche directs all of the remaining devils to attack Cecil, and throws his trident as well — but Stahlstrauss intervenes, taking the trident but seemingly emerging unscathed. The rest of the legion devils are mopped up and the party confronts the malebranche after years of waiting. Stahlstrauss stuns the monster, Marlamin slashes him deeply, and Tam’elanath, who has recently been knocked to the ground, leaps up to his feet in one fluid motion and fires off two arrows that puncture the war devil and end its wretched life.

The way is clear, so they take about thirty minutes to bandage wounds and recover before going further inward. In the Bronze Tower, they meet two of the Archdukes of Baator: Bel, Lord of the First Hell, and Dispater, Lord of the Second Hell. Lucan’s emaciated and tortured body is strung up at the far end of the great fiery chamber they wait in, and it soon becomes clear that it is Lucan’s soul that is being used to hold the gate open.

Bel and Dispater will not allow them to take the soul easily, and so a fight begins. Dispater engages the Collective’s ranged combatants by levitating above a pit of fire and levying spells against the party. Tam’elanath is his primary opponent in the first half of the fight, and while Dispater soon knocks him out, he had prepared for this eventuality by consuming a nightshade draught that restores his consciousness even while his body fills with poison. He grievously wounds Dispater before he finally succumbs to poison, at which point Cecil takes up the brunt of the fight, joining Dispater over the pit of fire. He holds his own for a long time before falling into the flames himself, only narrowly escaping.

Meanwhile, the melee combatants deal with the fierce warrior Bel. The towering pit devil slays Zan-kyri relatively early in the fight, but Derli and Stahlstrauss hold him effectively. Even though they are both taken down — repeatedly — they are able to keep his blows away from the others well enough to protect the others. Bel is defeated, although some of the party remains unconscious. Those who are still standing join Cecil in finishing off Dispater, and finally the way is cleared. Lucan’s body and soul are freed, allowing him to finally depart from Baator.

In a surprising twist, Cecil attempts to sit on Bel’s throne and become the new Archduke of Avernus, but as soon as he sits Marlamin reacts, and severs Cecil’s head from his shoulders in a clean sweep. They gather up the bodies of Tam’elanath and Zan-kyri, but they realize that neither of them can be raised from the dead until their souls are freed from the grasp of the First Hell. Stahlstrauss volunteers to stay behind and search for their souls for as long as it takes, at which point he will find a way out. The others bid him farewell and offer him thanks before leaving him with a cache of explosives they brought with him. He loads up the tower before heading in one direction, while the party floats away in the other direction on Project Fat Dragon. The Bronze Tower explodes behind them to a chorus of cheers from the battered armies below, ending the Starpeaks Invasion.



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