After receiving their revelations about what was about to occur on Avlis, things got really quiet for the heroes. Angadar informed them that he needed some time to think and plan what he would do about his predicament. This gave the heroes a lot of time to relax and wander Angadar's realm. Almost immediately, Andrinor, Ari, Tupaia, and Orianna gravitated towards the library where the shades there were very helpful in helping them select tomes for improving their personal qualities. The other adventurers decided to take the free time as a vacation from the horrors which they recently went through. This lull proceeded for around seven days, as near as they were able to tell by the unchanging crimson skies of Baator. On that seventh day, Stephanus and Bobil came to the door of Jade's dwelling and informed the party that they were being summoned to Angadar's audience chamber over in the palace. When they got there, the usually smug deity looked very grave. He immediately greeted the heroes and launched into a long oration about how it was necessary to foil Valok's plans for the sake of his own life (and, oh yeah, the lives of lots of others too). In foiling Valok's plans to enter Avlis, he informed them that they will also be foiling his plans to shift the vortex of magic origin from the plane of Arborea to Baator. This he cared little for, but it was a side effect nonetheless. In order to do all this, he explained, a full scale assault on Valok's realm would be necessary. For Angadar and the adventurers it would be suicide to directly challenge Valok. But Angadar meant only to disctract him, while the small party of powerful heroes sneaked in through a back realm. The plan was to use a full assault on the gates of Valok's realm as a decoy battle. The adventurers would then be teleported by Angadar to a little known realm at the heart of Valok's fortress. This realm belongs to the goddess Tianna, Valok's lover, and the matron of Deceit and Trickery. They were to navigate their way through that realm which would put them close to the center of Valok's fortress where nearby a ritual conducted by Quilan and some powerful mages would be in progress. When they got there, they were to stop the ritual at all costs.
Angadar announced that they would need further preparation before they left. At this point, he summoned a planetar into the room. The planetar was an agent of the god O'ma, whom both Tupaia and Vanoviel worshipped. In a lofty gesture, the planetar announced the arrival of O'ma's avatar to the plane. The god's likeness appeared in a flash along with some other minor avatars. Van and Tupaia were stunned by the appearance. The rest were respectful, if impressed. O'ma looked down on all of them and smiled benevolently. He introduced himself and his companioins, and then reiterated that Angadar's plans were for the greater good of Avlis, and that their goals were in agreement on this. Valok must be stopped. He announced that he had constructed some items for the party in cooperation with Angadar. They would need them in the battles ahead. To each hero in turn he gave enhanced items to help them on their way. Ari was given a powerful shield with the ability to reflect magic spells back on the caster. Orianna was given bracers to help her steady her bow aim. The others were given items of like strength, and more. The last person covered by O'ma was Vanoviel. To her he gave an important title. She was appointed as the head of his new holy order of warriors: The Champions of O'ma. Her new orders were to immediately start training new members for the order upon arriving back on Avlis from Baator. In the meantime, he gave her two gifts. One was an extremely powerful sword crafted with god magic. It lent its weilder the ability to resist spells, as well as the ability to inflict minor amounts of pain on weak demigods. The other gift was a matching short sword which was able to provide its weilder with a measure of protection like armor. With these weapons came permission to use them, for up until this time, O'ma's clerics and templars were forbiddent to use sharp weapons. Van accepted them graciously, and immediately after, the party was wisked away to the battlefield by Angadar.
Once there, Angadar said they would mount the attack immediately. All of Angadar's army of followers were present in formation with O'ma's cohorts. Directly in front of them lay Valok's fortress.... and unimaginably large metal building with numerous towers and parapets and multiple layers of battlements. Above the fortress and in front of it swarmed countless devils and petitioners.
With a second wave of his hand, Angadar placed the party into Tianna's realm. At first, the heroes thought they were inside a castle, like any other. But once they started to walk through the halls, they realized that things were not what they seemed. Walls were sometimes illusionary, and hallways were often just walls. The layout of the place also made absolutely no sense when they tried to decipher it. They were in a maze that in effect could change its own route. As they wandered, they became restless. Andrinor suggested using magic to find their way, but he had none that would do the job. Tupaia was also unable to use her direction sense. They were going blindly. Eventually, a curious figure showed up. She was a female with dirty blonde hair and a girlish figure. She was short of stature and dressed in very roguish finery. She eyed the party down and asked them why they were intruding in her realm. When the heroes failed to offer a feasible answer, she decided it was time to "play" with them. Upon hearing that, Van rushed in for an attack and hit her with her sword. The curious lady took the hit and squealed in alarm that such a weapon would harm her. She then became very angry and opened a pit at Van's feet which she fell into. The spikes at the bottom of the pit cut her sligthly. The other party members saw this as an illusion, but Van did not. At that point Andrinor gated in a planetar to fight the woman. When the planetar arrived, the woman looked unnerved, and immediately split into two identicle copies of herself, both of which tried to dismiss the creature. The dismissal failed, but when the planetar swung his great sword at one of the ladies, it passed right through them without harm. The demigoddess laughed. But by this time Van had climbed out of the pit and attacked the original copy of the goddess, thereby dissapating its form. The other form scowled at him and disappeared into the wall (after throwing a fireball down the hallway at the other adventurers for good measure).
The adventurers then came to the stunning realization that they had just fought against a demigodess, and she was only toying with them. This lead them to the conclusion that they had better find a way out of her realm fast. They asked the planetar for help and he tried as best he could for the duratio of the gate spell.
He led them close to a doorway which opened into a series of rooms (after Orianna checked it for traps of course). The room was crowded with hundreds of thief petitioners still engaged in the wheeling and dealing that occupied their mortal lives. Andrinor tried to talk to one about where to find the exit, but he was not very helpful, even with payments in shadow gold from Van. However, his advice led them to stumble on the door not long afterwards.
Once through the door, they found themselves in a castle courtyard. To one side the sky was alight with flashes and the sounds of battle. There was only one door leading out of the courtyard, not counting the one they came in from. During his battle plans, Angadar informed them that there would be a cavern under the courtyard where the ritual was being cast. They had to find the entrance to the cavern and enter. Andrinor used his clairvoyance abilities to spy on what was going on. He caught the mages as they were just finishing the ritual to open the portal! Alarmed, the heroes jumped into action. They clung close to Andrinor while he hasted them all, and then casted a timestop spell. From there, he teleported them all down into the cavern and used the rest of the timestop spell to obliterate all but one of the mages in a single onslaught. The last mage alive was a lich named Xackon. He was impressed, but once his turn came, he used a timestop as well and hurled an onslaught of his own against the party thereby killing Ryn in the process. Before his timestop ended however, he teleported away.
Stunned, the heroes looked at the carnage before them and realized that the portal was open. Valok could go through at his leisure. Nothing they tried would close the portal. At that time, Tianna showed up again, and she was angry. She explained that she would kill them now, but not by toying with them. She immediately changed into her true energetic form. Just as she was about to permanently smite them all, another form of energy swooped down and pushed her through the portal. The form then coalesced into the smugly smiling form of Angadar. He watched her go through the portal and compact into her physical form. She looked confused, but once she realized where she was she became alarmed. At that point, a giant hand came down from the sky and wrapped around her. It then squeezed her until she exploded into thousands of tiny shards of energy. The hand then changed into the form of an impressive warrior in steely gray full plate armor and a glowing gray rune etched sword. It was Mikon, god of Neutrality, and creator of the humans on Avlis. He stepped throught he portal into Baator and Valok's realm. Valok himself, a warrior in bronze full plate armor with a rune etched sword of his own appeared next to the party. He looked angry. Mikon then launched into a tirade at Valok for trying to get into the Prime. Valok explained that Mikon was not supposed to know about it, but Mikon told him that a cleric of O'ma named Sarmon informed him and Sarmon heard it from the adventuring heroes themselves. This angered Valok, and so did the death of his lover, Tianna. Mikon then explained that he killed Tianna as punishment and a warning that no god should try to enter the Prime Material Plane. He then looked at Angadar gravely. He told him that he was doomed for as soon as he left, Valok would kill him. He could not help him there, but as a consolation he would give Tianna's mantle of Deceit and Trickery to Angadar. Mikon opened his hand and a blue ball of energy flew out of it and went into Angadar, who immediately changed back into his energetic form. The energy form that comprised him then got larger and brighter. Angadar cackled with glee. He was now what was known as an intermediate god, and he ruled over Deceit and Trickery, as well as his previous followers.
Mikon then bowed and left through the portal, closing it behind him. Valok screamed in rage and swore he would kill them all right there. Angadar was fast, however, and he managed to teleport them away back to his realm.
The heroes thought they were finally safe, but Angadar was unnerved. He grabbed a staff with a red gem on it. As soon as he did that, the bottom level of his realm exploded, and Valok's scream could be heard coming through after them. Angadar said that they were being chased and it was time to flee. He had a spell in the staff that let him open a portal capable of pulling his entire godly essence through it. Such was not possible with normal magical gates. Gods could send avatars through, but not their entire essence. Angadar needed to get off of Baator entirely, else Valok would surely kill him. So he opened a portal and everyone went through.
They emerged on a barren land made entirely of iron. The sky was a dark gray. All around them, large iron cubes floated through the air.... some of them were miles across. It then occurred to them that they were on a cube too.... all around them on every cube there were battles taking place, including theirs. On one end an army of goblins approached an army of orcs coming from the other end. As soon as these realizations hit them the armies clashed all around them. They were caught in the middle. Angadar then said, "Welcome to Archeron... land of battles. Hold them off while I rest, will you? That spell is exhausting." While the adventurers and O'ma fought the orcs and goblins on all sides, Angadar rested in the center oblivious to the swords that would pierce him occasionally. Soon after the great battle started, Valok burst through a portal of his own on a neighboring cube. Angadar was horrified. He never thought Valok would take his entire essense onto the neighboring plane to try and destroy him. The chase was on....
Angadar immediately got up and casted a mass fly spell. He told them all to go straight up and look for some kind of crack in the surface of the cube. They found a crack running along one length that turned a few times at right angles. At the end of the crack was a small glowing portal. Angadar said that portal would lead to another cube. They immediately made for the portal, and after interrogating an orc on where it lead they went through. They emerged into another crack on a faraway cube. This crack was occupied by fire giants who were very annoyed at the intrusion.... another fight broke out. Angadar said soon he would be ready to open another portal. After ten more fire giants met their deaths, Angadar opened a portal. "Next stop, Mechanus.", he said.
The crew emerged on another metal surface, but this one was that of a gigantic cog, more than a mile in diameter. Another cog interfaced with it on each end forming a seemingly endless chain of them leading into space in all directions. Angadar told them all to rest, and that the safest thing to do on Mechanus was stay in one place and not talk to anybody. Unfortunately, this peace was short-lived, for the next cog over to them exploded into tiny shards as Valok popped in after them. Angadar told them all to flee for their lives. The destruction of the cog summoned hoards of modrons to investigate the area. They were not pleased with their findings, and they immediately went after the adventurers to detain them for questioning. When Ari realized what was going on, she suggested that they all surrender themselves so they could be taken away from Valok. The rest of the party thought this was a good idea. They were then wisked away towards the Ciminal Investigation and Processing Center Alpha-2473. Upon arrival, they were placed into a cell and quickly separated for interrogation. Each member of the party was submitted to exhaustive questioning invariably ending in threats of arrest and "correction". Just when they couldn't take it anymore, Angadar gathered them in the cell and opened a new portal.... this time to Arcadia.
O'ma was apprehensive about Arcadia. He told them that the plane had a tendance to force people to "sacrifice" themselves for the greater good, and that anyone who was found to be evil was immediately attacked. He stated that for a goodly plane, it was not so good all the time. Angadar took refuge on a hilltop overlooking a town with perfectly rectangular streets by fields with perfectly straight rows of crops and a perfectly straight river that ran through it and made a right angle turn exactly a mile down stream from the town. Even the forest nearby had its trees arranged in straight rows. O'ma gathered the heroes up and told them they should go into town and inform them of Valok's arrival. At the local tavern, Andrinor whipped up an audience and explained to them that they should quickly mobilize a force to distract Valok while they make their getaway.... because it was for all their greater good. Oddly enough, they fell for it and a dwarf in the tavern summoned a planetar friend of his who was immediately set to the task. Just then, there was a clamor on the hilltop.... Valok had come through early and was engaging Angadar. The heroes and O'ma quickly returned to him, and Angadar opened a portal, this time at Andrinor's suggestion the portal opened to the Outland plains on Concordant Opposition. From there, O'ma used his true form in Elysium to open a portal for them from the other side, and before they knew it they were safe... for the time being.
O'ma explained that if Valok came to Elysium he would battle him personally on his own home plane. But in case things got ugly, he needed the heroes to retrieve an item from his realm.... the item was familiar to Angadar, for he was the one who took it from Nemeril the evil wizard during his mortal days.... this was the same sceptor used to slay the Emperor Curass, and used to ban O'ma from Avlis. O'ma's dismissal from Avlis was ended by Angadar, which brought about their odd friendship. The sceptor was affectionately known as "The Sceptor of Godslaying", for although it could not actually slay a god, it could banish a god's influence from a plane....
The END: Chapter 13
"Truth has no form."
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