Return to Greyhawk – Ep. 19: Expeditious Retreat

Having caused quite the kerfuffle in the Bone Palace of Iuz, our heroes find themselves exiting the sewers and returning to the rented manorhouse for temporary safety. Merrick, having suffered grievous wounds in the escape, lies down to rest and Luciano expends the last of his magics to heal him. Exhausted and running out of options, they argue briefly about their next course of action. Panicked and desperate to save her parents, Nilly reaches out to Queen Yolande through her gifted locket, begging for help to escape. Queen Yolande responds, telling Nilly that she could use the locket to open a portal, but the Queen cannot guarantee where the portal will lead, due to the powerful magics surrounding Dorakaa. With the portal as a last resort, Luciano convinces the group that the best course of action is to try to make it back to the docks to escape. The group eats quickly and grabs some rations, then leaves the manorhouse behind, venturing toward the docks. Knowing that the group requires some rest, Alesa casts Tiny Hut in a dark alley, and everyone piles into the hut on top of one another for some shut-eye, while Kallic keeps watch outside.

Upon waking, our heroes retrace their steps to the Fiend Gardens where the dark, demonic revelry continues unabated. Grotesque forms couple in both violence and lust all around them, as the group makes its’ way through the fetid, dank grounds. Suddenly, a monstrous winged creature lands ahead of them, with a whip of flame and a blade crackling and hissing with lightning. If this isn’t enough of a shock, Luciano turns to find a giant dragon descending from the sky above, with an elderly rider that is familiar to a few of the heroes. Iuz the Old himself dismounts the giant winged lizard and proceeds to both congratulate the group for disrupting his plans and promising them both a long painful torture session, yet a swift release if they should ask him nicely.

As the party is closed in on both sides, and with no path to freedom, Nilly throws her locket to the ground and calls to Queen Yolande in perfect, ringing Elvish. A concussive blast blows outward from the locket, as a glowing portal opens just in front of the huge demon and the forms of elven archers and the Queen herself can clearly be seen standing on the other side. The archers open fire on the huge demon and it lumbers into the portal to engage them, while a giant insectoid demon flies into the fray from the skies above. Iuz the Old begins attempting to close the portal, but Kallic casts his last Fog Cloud on the path in front of Iuz as our heroes make a break for the portal. One by one, the group jumps through the glowing gateway, and as they turn, they realize they are missing someone. Helplessly, the heroes look through the portal behind them to see Luciano standing on the path looking back.

Luciano watches his friends escape through the portal, and as the fog cloud dissipates, he pulls the Necklace of Stasis from his neck and throws it through the portal. With a mighty blow, Luciano brings his mace ‘Calamity’ down on the locket and with a flash of energy and light, the locket shatters and the portal blinks closed, leaving Luciano alone on the path. Turning toward Iuz the Old, Luciano charges down the beaten brick path, channeling the power of Olidammara into ‘Calamity’ and landing a solid blow against Iuz’s ancient face. Iuz turns back, his eyes glowing red, and points his finger at Luciano. With a surge of pain and anguish, Luciano’s heart stops. As he falls, the creatures of the Gardens swarm his body as his vision fades and the last thing he sees is the face of Iuz staring down at him.

Our heroes, shaken by Luciano’s actions, see the portal close and are immediately drawn into combat with the demonic forces of Iuz that have crossed into the Fey Lands with them. Queen Yolande steps forward and at her side is a familiar figure to Nilly; her grandfather, Kithral Belovar, wielding an ornate greatsword and ancient elven armor. Yolande commands the attention of the massive demonic balor, and as it turns to face her, the party strikes! Merrick wades into the fray with his blade aflame, while Kallic and Elara strike with their weapons, opening gashes in the beast and spraying its’ foul smelling ichor across the group. Lashing out, the balor’s flame whip wraps around Merrick, burning him severely. As he cries out, Kithral steps to the side of the creature and with two swift strikes, cleaves his blade into the balor, causing it to bellow in pain. Blows are traded back and forth, and as the party is slowly becoming overwhelmed, the scene fades and we are left back in Dorakaa.

The feeding frenzy has abated and Iuz has left the torn and desecrated body of Luciano laying on the path. A voice rouses Luciano, and his spirit stands, looking at his wrecked flesh and the vision of a older woman holding a silver goblet of wine. After a brief conversation, the woman presents her elbow to Luciano, he takes it and they walk away. The evils of Dorakaa fade from view and the two figures are walking an ancient hallway, the sounds of revelry and laughter echoing around them. They approach a large wooden door, and it swings open.

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