Beyond Countless Doorways

Session 7

To Hell and Back?

As the party stepped into the portal in the town square time seemed to freeze as the mystical energy pulled at their very means of existence. The group was flung forward at an incredible speed as they traveled into a giant silver void that stretched far beyond what they could see or even comprehend. Barely able to make out shapes the group found themselves inside of what appeared to be a tube running through the void within a cluster of other similar tubes. As the flew through the tube they saw shapes shoot past them in the other tubes. The shapes moved much too fast for them to make out but it was possible that they were other people travel as they were.

After what seemed like ages, or perhaps just seconds, the group was flung out of the end of the tube with a great flash of light. Picking themselves off the ground, Anora and Baruke needed to shield their eyes from the harsh light that burned their eyes. As their eyes adjusted, they were set upon by an oppressive heat and a horrible smell of burnt ozone. The group found themselves standing in a box canyon hewn very roughly out of some strange rust colored stone, that not even Baruke could identify, despite his long years in the Dwarven Halls of his youth. Carved into this strange stone was an ornate lattice work in the form of an arch which was covered in a strange set of ruins that neither human nor dwarf had ever seen before. At the very center of this arch was a small glowing dot that winked out of existence just as the group reached for it. This disheartened the group as it was the only link they knew back to their home.

Yet before the duo could gather themselves they heard a gasp of fear from behind them. Turning the group found a short devilish creature that looked like the creatures that had just destroy Bogenhafen but of much smaller stature. Advancing towards the creature caused it to drop the small spear it was carrying and push itself further into the wall, as if it could try and hide by forcing itself into the stone wall itself. Anora began to explain to the creature that they meant it no harm but demanded to know where they were. The creature stood dumbfounded, frozen in fear of the duo. Thinking quickly Anora cast a charm spell upon the creature, calming it slightly and making it more comfortable to the party’s presence. After shifting through a few languages the small devil itself cast a spell, ending with a tap upon its own head, it then spoke in a tongue the duo could understand.

After a short questioning the party was able to gather that the creature was named Halitsu a Spinagon of the Baatezu, the creatures who inhabit the plane of Baator. More specifically the party learned they are on the first layer of Baator, named Avernus ruled by Bel, a Baatezu Lord. The little creature had no knowledge of the invasion of their world, suggesting that it may have come from any of the nine layers of Baator, but of course he is so low rank that he would not be told of any plans unless he was directly involved with the invasion. When the party began questioning him about the terms he was using Halitsu gained a little more confidence in himself asking if they were of the clueless and if they were then they stumbled into a heap of trouble. Bluffing their way through this the party was able to convince Halitsu that they were agents of Bel and that they had been working with Bell to bring about the invasion. They however needed to get off Avernus since they were on another mission. Halitsu was not willing at first to help but after threatening to turn him over to Bel for punishment, Halitsu suggested that they go to visit the The Mad Witch who had taken residence in the mountains to the east. Since she was a Planar like them then she might know of a way to get out of Baator.

The journey across the Plains of Avernus was not an easy journey as the land was not forgiving and signs of death surrounded the group. Occasionally the ground would shake like a earthquake and in the distance explosions could be heard, followed by great plumes of smoke rising into the sky. Eventually the party reached a river they had not spied earlier as it had been hidden by the hills the ran along side of it. The river however was not what the group expected as it was filled with what appeared to be blood. It was a gruesome sight as the blood sloshed against the rocks, scattered throughout the river, leaving behind stains that dyed the rocks red. After testing the blood, and finding no other choice the party walked into the river, fording their way across.

Leaving the river behind the group made their way up into the foot hills of the mountain, finding a trail that appeared to have seen some use recently. Following the trail the party made their way up-slope finding a dead corpse of a few scattered trees. Scattered through the woods were strange mounds constructed of debris. Stepping close to one the mounds, the ground began began to shake and suddenly explode as a skeletal figure raised itself up, drawing a rusted sword and shield. Striking at Anora, the skeleton did not prove effective in its fighting, as it swung wide allowing for Baruke to charge in an cleave the skeleton in two. The fight was not over however as the rest of the ward that had been cast over the woods triggered, causing the rest of the mounds to reveal more skeletons, as well as what seemed to be a champion of some sort as it was large and better equipped then the rest.

Baruke charged across the field of battle, flinging himself at the champion while Anora set to work shooting at the rest of the approaching figures. Making short work of the skeletons, equally due to the groups skill and the skeleton’s lack of it, the party turned towards the cave at the far end of the woods to find a small hooded figure that was the The Mad Witch. The old crone yelled at them that they will need to pay for destroying her guardians and that if they come any closer then she will have to use her magics against them. Anora tried to cast a spell against her but it was expertly turned aside by the old women, who cackled a the attempt. Beckoning them to come closer the Mad Witch told them that she would have to perform a test upon them before they could have any dealings. Throwing some Holy Water on the two party members, the old women shrugged to herself and said that they were either too powerful Devils for her magics to work or they were not Devils. Either way they might as well come in to talk, but they would have to leave the Spinagon outside. Halitsu protested saying that he feared the Witch and that he should return to his post. Not thinking this was a good idea Anora grabbed the creature and tied him to a post outside of the cave’s entrance.

Once inside the cave they were given seats by a small fire and offered tea. After the party politely declined the tea the Mad Witch took a seat by the small cooking fire and sipped some of her tea. She began by introducing herself as Hexla and answering the groups’ initial questions. This eventually led to an explanation of how she found herself in Avernus. The story began with her research on her home world of Raliel where she stumbled across the existence of the Multiverse while formulating a new spell that accidentally triggered a portal. The portal was too unstable for her to use and it lasted only a short time before disseminating. But the spark had been placed and it triggered an incurable desire to try and find a way to control and use portals to other worlds.

She delved into her research finding as much as she could about the use of portals and the multiverse that it lead too. Finally the day came when she was to perform the ritual that would create a portal. But somewhere in her spell she had miscalculated and the portal was unstable and beyond her control. It sucked her in and dropped her into Avernus. She has been able to scrape by since then with her magics but it has been a tough experience. She devotes most of her time to trying to reformulate the spell so that she may go home but her resources are extremely limited here.

The party quizzed her some more on the Multiverse, drinking in the tales she spun about the different planes and how they connect to one another. This of course led to the ultimate question of whether she knew how they could get home. Unfortunately since she herself was stuck here until she got her spell right, she was unable to provide them with an answer. However she was able to point them in the direction of the Pillar of Skulls, a collection of knowledge to say the least. Bidding their good byes the party left the witch’s cave to seek the Pillar.

A short travel to the south the party crested a hill to a grotesque sight. Before them stood a pillar that stood a few hundred feet tall and about twenty feet wide, but the pillar was not exactly constructed of skulls. Instead the pillar was made up of thousands of heads, of all species and race, all in various states of decay. The air was filled with a cacophony of sound as all the heads were yelling and arguing with one another. Upon the party’s approach the pillar silenced slightly as a few of the heads attempted to “organize” the rest. It was almost as if the heads were arguing for control of speech.

The party had a few short conversations with several different heads, including a Giant’s head, a Gnome’s head, a Dwarf Rune Priest, and an Elven Sage. All had different stories but a few commonalities emerged. The party should head towards Sigil, the City of Doors, where they could hopefully find a portal, or at the very least a person how may be able to point them towards their home world. How to get to Sigil was the point of contention however. Between all the stories three portals were suggested. There was a portal in Bel’s Fortress, one in the mountains to the East and a portal in the South just beyond the Great Road. Trusting in the Dwarven Rune Priest the party set off south to the Great Road to acquire a brick, which would act as the Gate Key to the portal.

After a few hours of traveling south from the Pillar the group re-encountered the River of Blood, which must have curved aback around the foothills. The river her though was much deeper and ran through some rapids, giving the river much greater speed. Thinking quickly the party tied a lasso and began traversing the river slowly but surely. Much to the chagrin of the party however two giant Blood Worms reared out of the raging torrents and lurched their way towards the party. Acting quickly the party moved towards the opposite shore so that they may gain some sure footing to take on their foes. The worms closed in quickly launching themselves at Baruke. One worm was able to latch its toothed mouth onto Baruke’s chest but the dwarf was able to pry the worm off without much effort. After some quick blade work the worms were vanquished with one fleeing, severely wounded and one missing its head.

Tired from the journey and the battle across the river the party took shelter by a rock outcropping and made a quick camp to try and some light rest.

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