Once the heroes collected and shared all of their information on Khalik's deal with Quilan to betray and murder the god Angadar in exchange for helping Valok, they returned to Leire and Andrin's house to rest. There Jade told them about some of the dangers they would be facing in Baator when they went there to petition Angadar for help in stopping Valok. Later that night they did a LITTLE BIT of shopping in order to divest themselves of their funds and acquire better equipment for their trip. Along with an endowment from Andrin, they brought most of the dragon hoard that they liberated back at the Nixie settlement of Qwanderal.
After the shopping was finished, they went back to Leire and Andrin's house for the night, and after they were stocked up on supplies by Leire, they left for the nearest portal to Baator. The portal itself was located back at the Inn where they had last spied on Khalik. Carrying an apple as a portal key, they walked through the door to the firepit room and emerged in a burnt out street in some small ruined city.
The sky above them was crimson red with darker red wispy clouds. The air smelt of brimstone, and the occasional fireball would fall from the sky periodically and wiz by overhead. Some came close enough to feel the heat. At some point all of the buildings in the city had been damaged by these random blasts.
While the heroes were marvelling at the horific landscape and the forlorn settlers of Darkspine, a small group of Hamatula guardsmen came upon them. "Halt! Are you allied with our master, Bel?" When the heroes hesitated to answer, the guards attacked. The fight turned ugly and the guards fell, only to be replaced by four more. When the adventureres saw that they were fighting a losing battle, they fled. Turning a corner, Van was grabbed by somebody and dragged through a secret door in the alley. The others followed.
The woman who grabbed her introduced herself as Irena Nightwalker. She was a leader in the resistance of Darkspine. She explained that Darkspine was once located on the outlands in the neighboring plane of neutrality, but the evil actions of its citizens caused it to fall into Baator. The resistance was determined to liberate the town by instilling non-Baatezu belief structures in the current settlers, and attracting non-adherents to law and evil. At this point Irena questioned the travelers on their origins. When she found out they were from Avlis, she said it was curious, but that someone else from Avlis had just arrived.
She led them down a corridor deeper into the bunker. They reached a main chamber with other members of the resistance going about their tasks. Walking up to a door, Irena opened it to reveal a large meeting room with a long table. At the head of the table sat the shade of Lord Dagroth. He was recognizable as his old self, but he was a little hagard looking and pale. The heroes were stunned and annoyed to see him, but not suprised. They quickly figured out that he had been killed back home and that he came here in the afterlife. He however was upset by this knowledge. Jade further upset him by informing him that soon the plane would take his essence and convert him into a lowly Lemur, the lowest form of mindless devils. She said that the only reason why he wasn't converted right away was because he was powerful in life. However, it would be a matter of days or weeks at most before he finally succumbed.
Dagroth was not happy to hear this information. He asked the heroes where they were headed and they told him that they were looking to talk to Angadar. Dagroth begged them to take him along so that he could become a loyal petitioner of that god and not lose his identity. The heroes were clearly unimpressed with his request, but Dagroth pressed the issue and swore that he could be usefull for them. He knew of a devil who could shorten their journey to Angadar's realm which lies on the opposite side of Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells, or Baator. The party was skeptical, but agreed.
Irena led them out of the city through a secret underground tunnel so that Dagroth could call his devil friend. Once there, he summoned an Erinyes named Vrominestryx. She was a beautiful woman with feathery wings, and a sweet voice. She was more than happy to see Dagroth, and overjoyed when they asked her for transportation to the outskirts of Angadar's realm. She said she would do it for payment... anything of value. The heroes were immediately skeptical that she was about to request a soul. Andrinor in particular said that there would be no souls given, and she replied that she swore she would not take his soul. The party agreed to transportation, and once the deal was filled on her end she demanded payment. Payment was to be rendered in the form of Orianna's soul, for afterall, she swore she would not take *Andrinor's* soul. The party was not inclined to agree, and a fight broke out. After taking some hits, the devil lady casted an improved invisibility spell on herself and later enveloped Ari with a magical rope that tied itself to her and a rock. Tupaia eventually outlined her in a faere fire spell, and she took a couple more hits. At this point she was feeling very wounded and cancelled the deal and teleported away.... swearing revenge.
The party licked its wounds, recovered its new magical rope, and continued on towards the River Styx which lay right ahead. After a little contemplation, they allowed Rynn to put them in the bag of holding and fly them over the river with his newly acquired ring of flying which he got in the hidden magic shop in Sigil during the shopping spree.
Jade announced that Angadar's realm was not far off... just around the corner, and through "The Garden". When they rounded the corner however, they were greeted by a small patrol of about 30 lemurs and a hamatula which immediately attacked. The heroes made minced meat of them and breathed a sigh of relief, when all of a sudden, about 250 more lemurs and about 4 hamatulas came pouring over the hills after them. They immediately made for the garden ahead. When the reached the foliage the army turned away in fear. Jade explained that Baatezu were afraid of the garden.... no one knew why.
Not liking this, Andrinor decided to cut a swath through the army with a lightning bolt... and then another. Pretty soon, the bug spread to the rest of the party and they all attacked the retreating army of about 250 lemurs. After a long and gooey fight, every magic user in the party casted every offensive spell they had, and every fighter's weapon was covered in lemur slime. Van had waded right into the middle of the force and cleaved them on all sides of her. Tupaia had transformed into a Rhino and bowled them over. In the end, about 250 lemurs where dead and the hamatulas fled to fight another day.
The heroes took refuge and rest in the garden. Jade explained that no violence was possible there and that they would not be bothered. So they rested and slept. Feeling restored, they searched out the door to Angadar's realm. Eventually they found it under some vines. Jade opened the stones and lead them through a long corridor under the ground. The corridor opened into a cavern.
The cavern was immense. Part of it on the opposite end was open to the crimson sky. The rest of it was under a rocky roof and it contained a myriad of dark brownish-green skinned elves studying tomes of all kinds. Jade told the heroes that this was the first of three layers to Angadar's realm. It was where all his non-drangonari elven followers went when they died. There, they read tomes about all kinds of arcane knowledge. Whatever they read instantly went into Angadar's mind and knowledge base, thereby increasing his power.
At the end of the cavern which was open to the sky, there was a stone staircase. Jade led them up it and out into a forest. The trees in the forest were immense. The inhabitants here were much like the elves below except they also had scales and fangs. They were full drangonari elves. Jade explained that this was where the drangonari elven followers came when they died. Also some followers from the level below were sometimes promoted to this level if they did good work. They were converted to drangonari elves if this happened. On this level the petitioners were sometimes allowed to leave the realm for the purpose of recovering more tomes to be read below. Other petitioners here worked on their mental concentration and discipline. These were responsible for increasing the size of the realm and protecting it. Jade led them through this realm and up to a gigantic tree with a wooden sprial staircase wrapped around it. Two drangonari elves with leathery wings guarded it, but they immediately stepped aside upon recognizing Jade.
The adventurers went up the staircase and came to a large wooded platform city in the trees. This was the third layer of the realm. Jade said this was where those who knew Angadar personally dwelt. Many of them were responsible for the day to day operation of the realm. Others dealt with outside politics, and others were at the god's beck and call for whatever he wanted.
Jade led them through this portion of the realm to a small dwelling carved into one of the trees. She opened the door, put down her stuff and told the heroes to take seats. She then went into the pantry and started fixing tea. She said this was her home once, and it hadn't changed in over 50 years. She announced that soon there would be messengers of Angadar arriving.
As if it was timed, there was a knock at the door that instant. Jade answered it and there was a man standing there. He had short blond here and a catlike smile. He walked in with roguish grace and introduced himself as Stephanus, an attendant of Angadar. He asked the adventurers why they came to this realm, and what Jade was doing back there. They explained their story about what they heard Khalik say, and how Angadar was in trouble, along with the entire planet of Avlis. This troubled Stephanus greatly and he said he would bring the matter to Angadar's attention. Then he asked what Dagroth was doing there, and they told him he came to declare loyalty as a petitioner. At the moment, he split into two complete copies of himself. One copy beckoned Dagroth to come with him, and they went through the door. The other copy stayed and had tea with the heroes.
They asked him eventually about how he did that splitting trick and he told them it was an ability of all demigods. He demonstrated other abilities, such as his immunity to mortal magic, and mortal magic weapons.
After a while, the other copy of Stephanus knocked on the door and he had a huge muscular 9ft tall minotaur with him. The minotaur's name was Bobil. Stephanus then merged into one copy and said that Angadar wished to see them in his audience chamber. Along the way to the palace, the heroes witnessed Bobil do the same splitting trick that Stephanus did earlier.
They were then led to Angadar's palace. A metal construction of silver and gold, and other metals. It towered into the sky with six spires around it at regular intervals. When they came into the audience chamber they saw a blonde haired elf dressed completely in blue with a glass shortsword at his side and a staff tipped with a large red gem leaning on the wall next to him.
Angadar introduced himself and then asked the heroes to repeat their story. After digesting it and checking its validity, he said they were correct in that it was a grave matter. They had his attention. He said that he would think on a way to disrupt Valok's plans, but he would need some time. After toying with Andrinor's mind a little bit, he sent them on their way and told them he would be contacting them soon. He then split into four pieces and each one teleported away, except for the one on the throne.
The adventurers went back to Jade's dwelling. Later on, Angadar himself came to the door and summoned Vanoviel to walk with him. He confided to her that he was in dire trouble if Valok wanted to kill him. Valok was a greater god than he was and was more than able to finish the task. He confessed that the only way to disrupt Valok would be an all out assault. For this, he proposed that Vanoviel get help from her god O'ma. Angadar was holding a captured Planetar of O'ma, and he wished her to convince it to summon O'ma for his help with the attack. He then showed Van to a room with the Planetar and left her there. The planetar was startled to see a cleric of O'ma there, but he bore the development stoically. Van explained to the celestial agent what was occurring and he eventually agreed to go back to Elysium and inform O'ma of the troubles. At that point, Van left the room and was rejoined by Angadar who thanked her and freed the Planetar.
A little while after Angadar came to the door to get Van, he came to the door again thirty seconds later to get Andrinor. He pulled the tiefling aside and told him he wanted to make a deal with him. Andrinor's interest was peaked.
Angadar explained that long long ago when Avlis was young, there was a Tana'ri that came to the planet and discovered the mortal magic vortex. He wrote a book on that vortex that explained all its mysteries, but the book was only readable by one of Tana'ri blood who was of chaotic philosiphy, and who possessed great power. Angadar told Andrinor that he possessed none of those qualities except for great power, but that Andrinor was both chaotic in his thinking and of Tana'ri blood. Angadar told him that he possessed this book among his tomes, and that he would give Anrinor the great power he needed to read it in exchange for letting Angadar link to his mind and absorb the knowledge as he learned it. Andrinor asked some more detailed questions about the deal and asked for complete access to Angadar's libraries in addition. The god agreed and the deal was done. The two were wisked away with a wave of Angadar's hand down to the subterranean level of his realm. There, Angadar said he knew a spell that would instill great power and that he was casting it now. At the culimination of the spell, a great beam of energy shot out of Angadar's hands and instantly killed Andrinor, leaving his shade standing gap face in his place. Angadar smiled at the shade and told it to reconstitute itself a new body. Andrinor's shade was puzzled, but after a little concentration he managed to make a new body for himself... more powerful than ever, and with slightly darker skin, like a drangonari elf, but he still had the same look of a tiefling. Then Angadar handed Andrinor the tome and he began to read.
As he read, the pages turned faster and faster, and in a manner of ten minutes the tome was completely read. Andrinor found out everything about the vortex of magic and how to control it. He found out that in order to take control of the vortex, an infusion of good, evil, and nuetral energy was needed. One of these could come from the caster, but two of the energies must be from the true essences of gods. He also found a curious spell in the book.... it was a spell for breaking mental links... even if they were from a very powerful being.... hmmm....
Stunned, Andrinor went back to Jade's house and shared his knowledge with Van and the others, who did the same about O'ma.
The End: Chapter 12