Our adventuring party has been through the depths of hell, on the surface of the material plane. They have fought, slaughtered, sacrificed, and forced their way to the last known bastion of civilization over the course of the past five years. Each party member comes with his own unique backstory of how he has arrived in Aldenlight, and it is not until the fateful night of the winter solstice that happenstance forced them together.
The party awoke at the midnight hour to the sound of the alarm bells going off. These bells trigger frequently as the darkspawn of the world attempt to savage the world, however this time the bells seem to have a fervent speed to their ringing. It almost sounds as if the bell ringer’s despair can be felt through the cold empty tones of the bells toll.
Immediately the rogue darts out of the garrison all of the party members are bunked in and is able to see other defenders who have geared themselves charging to the walls. He can just make out what appears to be the slender red four fingered hands of some exceptionally wicked demons scattered about the walls as they are trying to climb over.
The Sorcerer sends his scorpion out the back of the garrison and immediately detects the presense of some form of magic coming deep from within the huge chapel of Balthazar in the center of the city. The Sorcerer can also detect a haunting melody that seems to be in the air, a sound of mourning and despair. He quickly tells everyone around him what he has seen and the group mostly comes with him. However, the diminuitive gnome and the muscular barbarian, while standing in stark contrast of one another, both seem more interested in setting up a barricade behind them first to prevent anything from following after.
As the Sorcerer ushers everyone he can coax out of the barracks, a paladin in noble white armor charges straight to the Chapel as he fears the worst. The paladin runs headlong into a sphere of the darkest negative energy and causes a trap to fling a necrotic blast at him which he takes on the shield without a second thought. A grizzled druid with a huge pet bison also charges into the darkness, and while the druid was nimble enough to get out of the way of the expected blast, the Bison screeched in agony from taking a blast directly in the face. It was gravely wounded but pushed on toward the chapel. The sorcerer had little issue with the necrotic bolt and moved to follow suit.
Meanwhile back at the barracks the doors are being hewed in by the fleeing guardsmen from the walls as they seek to escape the demons and undead that have managed to make it over the wall. One guard sticks his sword through a breach in the barricade made and slices at the rogue screaming “Cowards! You’ve left us to die!” Suddenly, a massive arm crashes through the doorway and a demon with great wings and towering legs thickly roped with muscle tears the roof off of the building with a single hand. With the other hand the demon pulls a crackling whip that seems to be bathed in black and red fire from seeming nothingness and swings it at the guards, obliterating them in a flash of ashe and screaming.
The Barbarian is no coward, but he is no fool either. He scoops up the little gnome and the two of them charge out the back as the massive demon begins to demolish the stone building as if it were made of matchsticks. Only the central beam of the barracks seems to give resistance to him, and he jumps up onto the roof of the barracks as the gnome and the barbarian dive into a roll to dodge a breath of fire and a necrotic bolt simultaneously, entering the blackness that exudes from the Chapel.
The Paladin fears for the corruption of his temple, and charges toward the door of the Chapel. He is suddenly struck down by a black lightning bolt that seems to be radiating from the keyhole of the massive double doors of the Cathedral. The druid pulls the paladin aside and reveals a trapped pressure plate that the paladin stepped on and the paladin is able to stand back up, his pride injured worse than his body.
The gnomish rogue and the barbarian arrive and the rogue sets to work to try and pick open the doors. Impatient, the barbarian shoves his entire fist through the door and the rogue smirks as he reaches in and unlocks the door, pulling a strange key out of the lock from the other side.
As the party moves forward the sorcerer asks for the key to the door so that he can reseal it magically and protect them. “That’ll cost you 10 gold.” says the gnome. Stupefied that the gnome would barter in the face of certain death, the sorcerer hands over ten gold pieces and begins to channel a spell to seal the entrance to the church just as the hordes of demons are charging toward them.
Inside the church the party gets a brief respite, as the magical barricade made by the sorcerer seems much stronger than the one made by piling bunkbeds infront of terrified victims. The paladin immediately kneels to pray. While the paladin is praying, the party searches out the main cathedral and discover that the sidewings have been magically locked. Suddenly a bright light envelops the paladin and a deep rumbling bass voice can be heard to say “well done my faithful servant, but there is much that I must ask of you. At the heart of this Cathedral you will find a powerful demon. He will warp your mind if you are not careful. He is using the soul of a powerful lich to summon his armies from the infernal plane and he must be stopped if you are to restore this land.”
Revitalized in his faith, the paladin shares his information with his party. The group moves down a long corridor and finds a trap has been set midway down a spiral staircase, when the party triggers the trap, the stairs flatten into a slide in front of them. The paladin readies his shield and goes down first, as he is going he loses his balance on his shield and ends up riding it to the bottom. At the bottom there is a field of spikes that have jut up out of the floor and the paladin’s shield skips across them to the cold stone on the other side.
The party spends quite a lot of time trying to get down these stairs safely, until eventually the druid simply jumps on the back of his bison and rides it into the back of everyone. The gnome suffered the most from this as he was trampled over and impaled on the spikes. The druids conscience was pricked, so he healed the gnome to make amends for his actions. As the paladin leads the party into the next room the dirge seems to be growing to a crescendo, the music is so intense it has an unsettling effect on the rogue who seems trapped in a daze of terror for a few moments before he remembers where he is.
Before the paladin stands two little girls blocking the pathway. They seem neatly dressed but their hair is over their eyes, cascading down their faces in blonde sheets of light. The paladin gingerly walks up to them, and one reaches out and touches him. As she does, the paladin seems to grow in age by several decades, wrinkles spreading across his face, his skin sagging, and his hair thinning and turning white. The little girl by contrast seems to be getting taller, with a fuller body and more adult features.
Upon seeing this the druid quickly fires a lightning bolt at the two little girls. The one girl who hadn’t moved yet is vaporized in an instant, but the other girls skin seems to slough off and then quickly grow back. The druid sends his trusty bison companion charging down the narrow corridor hoping to break the paladin free from the clutches of unspeakable evil. When the bison runs into the paladin and the little girl turned woman, the little girl quickly latches onto him. The druid watches in horror as his bison ages, then dies, then seems to shrink down into a withered husk a fraction of his former beastial glory. The woman is now over 7 feet tall and is swinging left and right grabbing at the party members. As the party hews her down she regenerates the damage they deal, quickly at first, but then slower over time and she seems to be shrinking in height back to the little girl she was.While this is going on, the Sorcerers scorpion pet detects that behind them, zombies flooded down the stairs and demons stepped over the bodies, standing at attention. The scorpion sees one of the demons has a horn that has been crafted out of a human skull in his hands. The horn is sounded, and the party members hear what sounds like the shrieking of a thousand souls in pain. The party quickly finishes off the little girl creature. The scorpion sticks around just long enough to see a beautiful woman, tall and slender with pale skin, and a black ankle length dress on that seems to have spindly vestiges coming out of the back of it, walk into the precursor room to theirs. The woman quickly launches a bolt of necrotic lightning from her eyes at the scorpion as he scampers away.
The party decides it would be foolish to try and fight this unknown woman, and break the support beams to the doorway of the room they are in, causing a massive cave in. The druid gets his legs stuck under some rubble, but a quick tug from the sorcerer of all people helps to get him out. The party can see a black miasma starts to slowly filter through the rubble and they quickly run to the next antechamber.
The room the party bursts into next is a large amphitheater shaped room. In the center of the room the party members can see a man in a blue robe with eyes patterned into it is standing by a large altar with a pulsing, glowing crystal that the sorcerer in the party refers to as “the heart of the darkness.” around the man is 12 people. Each of these people is wearing white priests robes and appear to be mounted to some form of wagon wheels. Their limbs have been broken and weaved in between the spokes of the wheels, and the people are laid out in a circle around the man. The dirge seems even louder at this point and when the party enters the room the man looks up at them and starts to chant.
The paladin, enraged at the thought of innocents injured, charges down the steps of the amphitheater and smashes headfirst into some form of invisible shielding. Undeterred, he quickly begins slashing at the invisible wall, and is able to make visible cracks in it. Unable to reason with the paladin, the other party members throw a grappling hook and pull themselves up on top of the invisible wall. While this is happening, white clouds seem to forming in the room around the outside of the invisible wall, and the miasma that they witnessed seeping into the previous room is now flooding into the amphitheater.
The Sorcerer attacks the man in the middle with his scorpion and shoots an acid arrow at the pulsing crystal. When the man is stung by the scorpion he yells in pain and stops his chanting. The clouds seem to darken somewhat, and slowly start to creep over top of the wall force that is keeping the paladin out. The acid that the sorcerer shot seems to go through the heart and the sorcerer yelps in pain as he feels acid hit him in the shoulder. As the barbarian and rogue drop down inside the wall, the rogue notices one of the corpses on one of the wheels seems to be smiling at him.
On a hunch, the gnome takes a swing at the smiling man on the wheel. When he does, the dagger he has in his hands seems to glide through empty air. At seeing this, the Sorcerer casts a dispel magic, and the room they were viewing changes. The bodies of the 12 men on the wheels all slump to the floor and the party can see they are holding daggers that are plunged into their own hearts, as if they killed themselves. The man that the sorcerer’s scorpion attacked shimmers and his robes disappear, great bloody furrows appear all along his skin and he seems gravely injured. Another man appears now, this one in a pristine black suit with a blood red tie and platinum blonde hair. He is beautiful to gaze upon with a strong jawline and muscular features, and his iris’s are a deep red abyss to look into. “Oh but you material plane people have all the best ideas,” says the man in the suit.
The gravely injured man is now recognizable to the Sorcerer, who knows him as the Mage King Alden. As in the man who is single handedly responsible for the small remnant of life on the plane to even exist. Without him, the sorcerer knows that all would have perished years ago. While this is going on, the paladin is still outside the wall of force and the miasma has engulfed him, the party can hear him coughing in pain as he attempts to batter his way into the wall of force. A cascading white light seems to be slowly filtering out of the clouds in the room, and where it touches the miasma outside the miasma hisses and retreats.
The miasma in the room seems to be retreating and coaelescing together, and as the paladin looks on he sees the woman from before begins to emerge from the smoke. The barbarian decides to take matters into his own hands and shatters the warding on the heart of darkness with his axe. When he does so, the heart changes shapes too and now looks like a small glass vial with a sliver of flesh inside. The druid knows this to be a phylactery and that it contains the soul of a lich.
When the illusion of the heart shatters, so to does the wall of force keeping the paladin out. The archmage Alden shouts “You fools, you will destroy us all! I have managed to bind Arioch to a corporeal form, and you are undermining everything!” At hearing that the Sorcerer casts a spell and sprays a rainbow of colors from the end of his staff directly into the man in black’s face. The gnome quickly rushes over, ever an opportunist, and rummages through the mans pockets before the barbarian picks him up and heaves him straight in the air, toward the cascading light. The man doesn’t quite make it to the light, and lands on the altar, crushing it partially with what seems to be unearthly weight.
The gas completely coalesces and the woman begins to assault the paladin who has retreated to the rest of the party. The man in the suit snaps his wrist back and a black and red flaming whip appears in his hand as he lays open the barbarian. The barbarian and the rogue slice at the phylactery and destroy it, then slice up the piece of the lich inside. When they destroy the piece of the lich the haunting music is silenced. This sends the man in black into a rage and his corporeal form seems to flicker between that of a human and that of a titan of a demon with black and red skin that seems the colors of cooling magma, and massive arms the size of tree trunks. The demon seems to tower at thirty or more feet in height and the ground shakes as he turns to face the archmage. He returns to a human form yet again, but the party has no idea how long he is going to stay in this weakened corporeal form before he is unleashed.
“This world should not be this way, this world should not be destroyed!” shouts the Archmage. “You can prevent this, you can stop all of it from happening! The Lich, Arioch, All of this can be prevented by you!”
The Archmage begins to swirl his arms about his head and rather than chanting it seems he is almost screaming in a fevered pitch. The man in black seems to recognize what the mage king is doing and wraps the flaming whip around the neck of the mage king. Even though his flesh is sizzling, the mage king smiles, facing death with true courage, “We have a chance, now…” as the mage king’s dying breath leaves his body, a blue light emanates from him. The light grows to quickly engulf the party members and the demon king Arioch as it spreads, and with a wink, the light disappears and the party is gone. The only thing left in the center of the amphitheater is the battered and greatly injured body of the mage king Alden, and the demoness snarls her face in contempt as she can see the smile on his corpse.
End of Chapter 1.