The Shields decided to raid the hoard of Glawmgraunt, the Black Dragon. The Shields worked their way further into the swamp to the sunken lair of the Dragon. Flea and Dinnan dived into the dark, filthy, murky cesspool that was the pool of Glawmgraunt. Berradin cast a breathe water ritual upon the scouts.
They found a n iron banded chest made of polished cedar which was locked. There were glyphs upon the wood that drew the eye, but Flea ascertained that they were explosive runes. Dinnan unlocked the chest which then filled with the filthy water, which destroyed the many scroll parchments within.
Dinnan then brought the chest to the surface to further examine, and prevent the destruction of any other arcane items. Flea kept scrabbling about below the water and found a golden figurine the size of a human head that was cast to resemble Tiamat. It was magical and Flea attempted to activate it. He made contact with the mind of Tiamat and Flea quickly stopped the communication.
Once everyone was back on the surface, Dinnan opened the chest again and removed the, now empty, metal scroll holders so he could see the loot beneath.
The chest contained 6 garnets[200gp each], 8 aquamarines[380gp each], 5 diamonds[1300gp each], 14 blue quartz[25gp each], 1 blue diamond[6300gp], 3 black pearls[500gp each], 5 light aqua potion vials, a dragonscale shield [level19], 8d12 on a crit], and Daern’s instant fortress.
The group left the fortress with Berradin to try and work out the activation word. Nesh took the shield.
The Shields decided to head back to Brightshire, the mostly halfling village, to recover from their battles. They rested overnight after letting the people of Silversands know that they could now return home, as the threat was eliminated and their gold dragon overlord was on the road to recovery.
The Shields headed off early the next morning on Berradin’s summoned phantom steeds. It took them until early afternoon to reach the Chaos Scar badlands. The outside crater, a stark reminder of the impact of the falling Chaos rock that struck here, stretched for many miles. gorges and broken land were laid out before them, but so was a massive man-made structure many miles further into the Scar. It was in the direction of where the mossy lichen, that was the main component of the green poison, grew within these lands.
With a sense of foreboding, the Shields rode onwards towards the structure. As they got closer it was apparent that the structure was likely the size of the whole of Brightshire, but was in the early stages of construction, the framework had gone up and several smaller ancillary structures next to the building but most of the walls had not yet been filled in. Deep red bricks were being used to build the walls.
Before the structure was a large, open mining pit where many people were carrying buckets of a deep, red ore from far below to the surface. There were many tiers within the pit. Each tier was 10 foot deep and had a ladder leading down to the next tier. The miners would cart ore from one level to the next, where another miner would move the bucket to the next level, and so on. Around the edge of the pit stood many overseers in the deep red chainmail of Iron Circle soldiers. On one hip was a whip and on the other hip a longsword.
The Shields approached the pit and were welcomed by a guard. The guard directed them to the “Cathedral” to see the leaders.
From one of the smaller buildings, the site HQ, came two priestly looking figures at the head of a procession of Tiefling soldiers. One was a dark-haired dwarf, the other was a golden-haired half-elf. They both wore the holy symbols of Asmodeus: God of Devils, ruler of the Nine Hells, Master of Order, Protector of the Iron Circle. Some of the Shields recognised the two leaders as Arch-Bishops of the Church of Asmodeus, level 2 in the ruling class of the iron Circle, second only to the Emperor himself to have influence with their great, Dark Lord.
The Half-Elf introduced himself as Brother Tomass, and the Dwarf as Brother Riven Stoneheart. Behind them were their 10 Sworn Furies.
They knew of the Shields and politely explained that they were constructing a hall that would aid them in their war against the evil Draconics to the South, that they were at war with. A war that they were losing.
The Arch-Bishops explained that all the moss that the group were seeking had been torn up during the digging of the pit and groundwork of the Cathedral. They had saved a small portion to brew up antidotes and offered a small amount to the Shields to help treat their friends.
The arch-Bishops offered the moss in exchange for the Shields leaving without bloodshed. They were more than willing to allow any of their workers who wished to to leave with the Shields. The amount that Nesh placed in his belt pouch could make up to 6 antidotes.
Dinnan questioned some of the “miners”. They were of the slave class of the Iron Circle and reluctant to give any information to the party.
Apparently, the remains of the Chaos Meteor that they were mining within the pit had an unusual property. The ore, when treated with the right processes, could enhance arcane rituals and powers. The Cathedral to Asmodeus, that they were constructing here would be able to increase any ritual to the size of that construct. In essence, they could open a very large portal to hell to increase their army’s power. The treatment required to activate the ore was a ritualistic blood sacrifice.
Flea had turned into swarm form and was surrounding one of the Iron Circle guards at the pit to attempt to have the guard attack him. The guards iron discipline prevented an incident occurring.
The Priests explained that all sacrifices here were willing. Victoria had heard enough. She offered to let them sacrifice themselves for their God. The Shields attacked.
The Shields spread out and engaged both arch-priests, their sworn furies, and a minor devil. The Iron Circle soldiers stayed in place around the pit, maintaining order and preventing any workers from leaving the pit.
The Shields hit hard and fast, with Dinnan and Victoria combining their area attacks to kill most of the sworn furies. Saran attacked the devil, while the rest of the Shields attacked the arch-bishops. The arch-bishops were dazed but managed to teleport and switch places with some of their furies.
The arch-bishops called on the power of Asmodeus to lay down destruction among the Shields. Nesh very nearly died from one assault but stayed standing near death while Flea was driven close to death by the Asmodites’ attacks.
The Shields wore them down though until only the Arch-Bishops were left. Brother Tomass with his dying breath incinerated Nesh’s belt pouch containing the moss. Brother Riven muttered a more powerful curse which used the life-force of all Asmodeus’s followers in the area. He released a powerful fiery blast that hurt, but did not kill, the Shields.
The curse unfortunately also ignited the Cathedral’s “residuum” walls and the Shields jumped into the pit just ahead of an explosive wave that levelled everything above ground in the Chaos Scar crater. All magical properties of the area were expired, as was the remaining moss.
During the combat Victoria had cured critical wounds on Flea, once he went unconscious, and it had the unexpected side-effect of curing Flea’s poisoning. Flea enacted a ritual that allowed Victoria to have a full rest in an hour, and when she was rested she cast the same spell on Nesh which also cured him. Divine healing seemed to be the antidote for this type of poisoning.
The Shields lead the ex-slaves out of the crater towards Brightshire and organised for supplies to be brought for the thousand freed slaves from the nentir Vale via flying ship.
The Shields pondered where to go next. South to enter the Iron Circle and view the war, or East to Karkoth where the Horned King’s followers created the poison, and had their death plague.