"Mushu, please, you don't understand, I need to have sex with you," – One of Faelookon's last words before being eaten by a dragon.
When we last left the party:
Having escaped a perilous journey through the Underdark, where they had been captives-on-the-run from the Drow, the party emerged onto the surface at the Northern Rauvin mountains with a newfound purpose. They, themselves, had witnessed the influence and power of the Demon Lords of the Abyss at work in the Underdark, and this great evil threatened everything they held dear about their personal lives on the Sword Coast. Determined to warn the free peoples of the Sword Coast, the party ventured to Citadel Felbarr, where an impromptu council meeting was called by King William Whetstone to discuss what could be done. In attendance were the leaders of some of the more powerful, wide-spread organizations in the region. However, the council was betrayed by the leader of the Arcane Brotherhood, who turned out to be a Lich in disguise named Tsernoth. Tsernoth stole the party's massive stockpile of magical equipment they had garnered from a Storm Giant King they aided in their travels, and kidnapped King William Whetstone. Among the chaos, it was discovered that war had erupted between the Sword Coast and Amn, causing faction leaders to disperse. In the absence of leadership, General Donli Gemheart rose from the rabble, and a plan was concocted:
- The party was to head to Gravenhollow library to learn, if they could, how the Demon Lords arose from the abyss, how many they are, where they are, and how they might be defeated.
- The party was to discover the location of the Arcane Hosttower where King William Whetstone was imprisoned by Tsernoth, and what Tsernoth's connection was to Orcus and the Demon Lord presence.
The party were declared Champions of the Citadel, and began their arduous journey westward to the Gravenhollow Library. Along the way, they encountered the aid of surprising newfound allies: a Paladin associate of General Donli, named Jaing, a Yuan-Ti exile named Mushu, and even an ancient Ultroloth, who the party freed from imprisonment in a commandeered airship that they discovered. Sailing across the land in their airship, Shadowier, piloted by their cleric, Captain Linwë, the party made great haste to Gravenhollow. Not even an Ulitharid, hell-bent on warping the party to his will, could stop their progress Westward. But the incessant hardships would only climax as they encountered a Demon Lord face-to-face within the bowels of the library – Graz'zt. In a climactic battle of the ages, the party slew Graz'zt, though three of their own fell in the fight: the Ultroloth, Finder, as well as Alaer and Brad. Thankfully, Brad and Alaer were resurrected by their cleric. Finder, however, was decapitated, and no such fortune befell the creature. The party then gathered about the Gravenhollow Codex, holding aloft the Stonespeaker Crystal, a cipher to decode the information within the transcendent pages of this legendary library. What would they learn?
From the Gravenhollow Codex, the party learned the following:
- The Demon Lords had been released after the Fall of Tiamat 80 years prior by Aaron – a warlock – and a spawn of Demogorgon, who opened a portal to the Abyss in the Underdark. After the defeat of the Dragon Queen at the hands of the heroes known as – ahem – Brothers from Other Mothers, a warlock tried to commandeer the summoning ritual to redirect it to the Abyss, to bring forth Demogorgon. He was nearly successful, and brought a Spawn of the Demon Lord through. However, the ritual was halted by the heroes mid-way, destroying the massive mountain known as the Well of Dragons in the process, and killing two of the heroes. An incompletely formed Demogorgon and the warlock tumbled hundreds of feet to a deep, watery cavern below, where they landed among the debris in a massive pool of water – part of the Underdark water network. Thereafter the warlock, who the party later recognized as Aaron, supplemented a physically feeble Demogorgon with the energies of magical artifacts that he searched for for days within the murky depths of the dark pool. From what the party could tell, he was gathering Dragon Masks, which he shattered in a dark ritual to infuse the Demon Lord with energy. Not quite satisfied, the Demon Lord demanded more sustenance, and Aaron performed another dark ritual using pieces of a broken, stone altar, to bring forth a shimmering, ogre-sized portal. A bearded wizard appeared to stop the pair, and a chaotic battle erupted. In it, Aaron was aged decades beyond his normal lifespan by the wizard's magic, and was nearly killed, but Demogorgon had gained enough power from the interplanar gate to crush the wizard completely. Finally, in one, last ritual of binding, Aaron – now a weathered, old man – sundered the staff with Eldritch magics, completing the connection between the Material Plane and the Abyss. They were not complete, though, as a great, skeletal gargantuan appeared from the gate, clad in black tattered robes and wielding a scythe as big as a giant. Jaing recognized him as Charon, the gatekeeper to the Lower Planes and the guide of the River of Death, Styx.. It appeared to order them to stop in some, unknown tongue, though words soon became blows as a second epic combat erupted. Again, Aaron almost died, and again, the pair won out against the would-be agent of law. The otherworldly creature was decimated by the tentacles of Demogorgon. But as he died, Aaron fell to the ground, clutching his head between his hands and crying in agonizing pain. It was over. The gate was final. A low, earthen growl of a laugh could be heard from Demogorgon's twin, ape-like maws as demons poured through the gate alongside a thick, translucent, green mist, as the laughs of Demogorgon resounded through the caverns. The last images of the weathered warlock were not in a stance of triumph, but in a crumpled heap, curled into a pleaing ball – babbling incoherently before the great Prince of Demons. The party had encountered Aaron before - a man whom they had discovered imprisoned within the Stonefist Brawler's Guild and freed, and who departed down the Darklake to search for Demogorgon, while the party and the other freed slaves ventured from Gracklstugh to Blingdenstone.
- There were 13 Demon Lords on the material plane, three of whom have already been defeated. Five exist on the surface, and five in the Underdark. The party learned of the Demon Lord's existences and last known locations. Listed in alphabetical order:
- Baphomet (Kingdom of Many Arrows, marching South at a fast pace with hundreds of Orcs and Minotaurs).
- Dagon (Moonshae Isles, where he was ravaging the piers of Rogarsheim)
- Demogorgon (In the Underdark beneath the Undermountain, beneath Waterdeep)
- Fraz Urb'luu (Imprisoned in a green emerald gemstone by Graz'zt, which is now in the possession of the King of Citadel Adbar)
- Graz'zt (Defeated)
- Jubilex (Neverlight Grove, a place of the Myconids that is over-run with oozes)
- Lloth (In Menzoberranzan, being served by many Drow)
- Malcanthet (Defeated)
- Orcus (Gracklstugh, alongside an army of Undead, including a Red Dracolich and Illithilich)
- "Snake-Snake" (Lord Daria Neverember – in a military camp near the mountains of the capital of Amn)
- The Pale Night (Portal – Underneath the former Well of Dragons)
- Yeenoghu (In King Hekaton's floating fortress)
- Zuggtmuoy (Defeated / Banished)
3. Some of the Demon Lords have been defeated before, either by each other or magical artifacts. The party learned that many of the Demon Lords have defeated one another in combat, and using the Stonespeaker Crystal they saw many battles between the Demon Lords, one such battle that took place in the very library they stood between Graz'zt and Malcanthet, wherein the Demon Lord of Deception decapitated the Succubus queen, and rendered her body a disgusting, ground-up play-thing for the mind-controlled orgy that stood before his throne. They had also seen that Orcus, the Demon Lord of Undeath, was defeated once in the province of Vassa by a great Paladin King who used the Book of Righteous Deeds, which then disappeared. The party learned the location of the book to be on the most Northwestern Isle of Tuern, where a great celestial guards it. They learned from the library that the ones who take the book must leave behind a replacement guardian, or else the book vanishes. Similarly, Lloth was once banished from the material plane using the Book of Vile Darkness, which is located on an island in the River Styx, which mitigates the travel between the lower Planes of Existence.
4. The Vonindöd was a metaphorical legend that never truly existed. The party learned, disappointedly, that the Vonindöd, a supposed garguantuan construct built by the giants to fight the Dragons in the thousand year's war, was but a legend; a metaphor for the titanic battle of Dragon Chess between Annam the All-Father, God of Giants, and Garyx, the Ancient Red Dracofiend, that decided the terms of their truce.
Equipped with this new arsenal of knowledge, the party then used Finder's amulet of Teleportation, which Linwë cut from his torso, to teleport to the ship. Once there, they took time to reassess their priorities and determine a plan of action. King Hekaton and Hashtag were still together with them, and King Hekaton insisted rather strongly that they make haste toward his flying fortress, which, as they had seen using the Stonespeaker Crystal, was occupied by Yeenoghu and ~80 gnolls and flinds – Linwë's (and Mielikki's) most hated demon-kin. Hashtag just wanted to fight shit. However, they had a more pressing issue. Two of their companions suffered extensively from exhaustion due to their resurrection, and Faelookon was suffering the effects of a debilitating curse from Wave of Sorrows, the greatsword of Graz'zt. While his minor defects – an obsession with physical wealth and possessions – was removed with a spell from the group's cleric, the Dragonborn found himself unable to sleep. Using a spell of identify on the greatsword from one of the many scrolls they had found in the library, the group determined the nature of this inhibition to be a terrible curse of the weapon – a curse that could only be removed by a Greater Denizen of the Lower Planes, or a Cleric who worships a Demon Lord. Faelookon would be unable to rest… until he participated in interpersonal sexual intercourse… every day… with a different person.
Shadowier set sail – or propeller – to the East, the last known direction of King Hekaton's flying fortress. The first day that passed, the group was confronted on the deck of the airship by a flying cult worshipping the Elemental Prince of Air, who requested collaboration in bringing forth the Elemental pseudodiety. The group refused, a move that the cult met with a curt threat before flying off on their blackened vulture mounts.
However, things became dire on the second day. On this day, the Shadowier and her crew had the misfortune of drawing the attention of a distantly flying Ancient White Dragon. The beast soared up to meet the airship at break-neck speeds, roaring with might as it turned to address the ship. Before a word – or breath – could be uttered by the Dragon, however, Hashtag leapt upon it, crying out that his moment of glory had – finally – come. It was not to be, though, and Hashtag slipped alongside the scales to grab onto the tail of the beast, only to be flung away as he fell, plummeting through the clouds to the inevitable ground, below.
The group's exchange with the beast was brief, and very one-sided. It latched on with it's talons to the side of the ship, caring little for the integrity of the thing as it spoke. It demanded subservience in the form of aid to re-take a flying fortress – the same flying fortress that belonged to King Hekaton – as it's new lair. At first, it suggested that the party would be forced to kill King Hekaton, who still laid, unmoving at that moment, on the deck of the ship. Though this turned out to be a ruse, a crude attempt at a joke. The party discussed their options with one another, though they found little opportunity to do so in front of the gargantuan Dragon, who eyed them warily. It devoured one of their Gryphons – that of Alaer – as Linwë found a moment to break away from the rest to adjust the ship, where he was eventually joined by the others to get some time to assess their options. They decided that – with Alaer and Brad still recovering – Fighting was hardly an option, particularly given their lack of Gryphons. While they spoke, however, they heard the crumbling and crunching of wood as the beast tore asunder bits of the ship to begin exploring it's new, temporary "home base". Rushing to the commotion, the party appeared just in time to see the craning neck and body of the beast stretching through holes in the second and third deck floors into the treasure room, where mounds of silver and platinum pieces lay, still strewn about. The clatter of coins could be heard as the creature declared "Ahh… perhaps I needn't require that fortress, after all…" The beast then demanded that Faelookon sing it to sleep as it began a rest for what would be an extremely stressful night for the party.
That subsequent day, they decided that they would reach a point of do-or-die. First, Faelookon decided he needed to rid himself of his curse. So, desparate, he approached each member of their group in turn, appealing to them to let him "remove his curse". His pleas fell on mostly deaf ears, as few were willing to sacrifice their dignity to that extent. However, both Alaer and Mushu bravely stepped forward, volunteering themselves to be subjected to a few minutes of Draconic Californication in exchange for Faelookon's fighting competency to return. Mushu was the lucky winner, as the pair left to do the slithery slither before Faelookon could finally – for the first time in nearly 72 hours – get some rest.
He would need it, it seemed. Not long after the scaly sexcapade, Shivyr, the Ancient White, peered it's long, scaled neck down to the lower deck, crawling between the floors of the ship in search of another Gryphon meal. What it did not know, however, is that Linwë and Brad had already dismissed the Gryphons, earlier, realizing that the beasts were ultimately doomed if they stayed with the party. The only Gryphon left was that of Jaing… and Shivyr's maw leapt right for it. But as the creature was clasped between the razor-sharp teeth of the Dragon… it disappeared. As the jaws of the beast snapped shut, Shivyr's sapphire blue eyes widened in surprise… and then fury. It roared a beastial thunder as it leapt upon the closest thing, Jaing.
Combat then began, whether they liked it or not. The beast bit and tore at everything in sight, slamming it's wings about and crunching much of the deck of the ship. Thankfully, Jaing was able to get away from the beast, Misty Stepping up to the second deck to alert Faelookon. On the lower deck, the rest of the group took their battle positions, while on the uppermost deck, Brad made himself invisible and began sprinting to rejoin his friends. The battle was fierce, and in it many triumphant blows were landed by both sides. Alaer and King Hekaton sundered the flesh of the creature with a blitzkrieg of punches and literal lightning bolts, while Linwë cast clerical magic to both aid his allies and impeed the Dragon. Mushu and Adran struck from behind, lashing out with swords, fangs and – in the Rogue's case – his bow, Taumaril. But something catastrophic happened then, as Faelookon leapt from the upper deck – aiming to land upon the Dragon with a fierce blow – but instead slammed his lower jaw on the deck below, immediately knocking himself into a dizzying spin as he tumbled down to the lower deck, where a propulsion of air from the sheer speed of the ship sent his limp form ragdolling into the beams behind King Hekaton, where he collided and fell before the prone giant with a sickening CRUNCH – unconscious. Jaing followed the barbarian, but Misty Stepped to safe ground, only to see the beast laugh a menancing tremor of chuckles as it bore down on Faelookon… and devoured the unconscious Dragonborn whole.
The battle only intesified then, Jaing unleasing furious blows upon the beast as the group followed suit. However, they had forgotten the creature's most powerful weapon that Shivyr had yet to unleash… a frigid blast of cold so chilling that only two of them remained – Mushu and Linwë, who called upon his clerical might to save himself. Jaing, unfortunately, was frozen solid by the frigid blast, clasped by the cold hand of death… the second of the companions to die that day. However, Alaer managed to shake the frigid chill from his bones and emerge from a shallow unconsciousness, as they decided, definitively, to abandon the Shadowier, and escape Shivyr's wrath. They had more important things to deal with. Gathering the unconscious group, Linwë held aloft the medallion of Finder and closed his eyes, imagining the sleeping chambers of King Hekaton's flying fortress. It was not a moment too soon, either, as the beast began to lurch forward to snap at the closest unconscious body… but they had all disappeared, gone to the would-be safety of the flying fortress… or so they thought.