Minotaar's GWJ Overwatch D&D Campaign

Lighting the Pyre, Part 1

“Part of me very much wants to go with you and find my father,” Esh says, “but I’m needed here, with them. And also, they haven’t lied to me.”

Maleshira silently nods, wiping small tear at her eye. “I understand,” she says. “Call upon me if you need absolutely anything, and I will be there for you.”

Azarek uses the Amulet of the Planes to transport them to Gauntlgrym, and they immediately see themselves surrounded by rock. They are in a giant cave of dwarven buildings, many with old broken religious iconography upon them. Everything in this place seems oversized, not only for dwarves but for any humanoid creature. As they collect themselves they see the ghosts of dwarves past, and are warned by Yorda to leave them be, and they won’t harm them in return. They’re in the Iron Tabernacle of the old dwarven city, and are headed to a former shrine even further down that was repurposed for the worship of Kossuth, toward the Great Forge.

IMAGE( https://www.elventower.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/22-GauntlgrymL-1200x869.jpg)

Yorda shows them to a formerly magical mine cart system, now largely powered by gravity and some machination of sooty rocks, water, and a lot of hissing. The mine carts take them ever downward and they eventually pull in to another much smaller area of buildings, and are greeted by Klebbar, the Pillar of Flame in this sect of the Church of Kossuth. Introductions occur on behalf of Yorda, and they are offered tea and rest by the acolytes. They share their reason for showing up, as Yorda delivers her tithe of the Brazier of Fire Elementals. Klebbar is most impressed. Valka’s nightmare is mentioned, and Klebbar lets them know that removing a Night Hag’s curse is tricky, but within his powers. He asks a favor of them in return – assist the church with a ritual of its own.

IMAGE(https://i1.wp.com/img10.deviantart.net/ebe6/i/2011/153/9/9/arvos_jadestone___dwarf_shaman_by_nightblue_art-d3hvz3v.jpg?zoom=2)

Klebbar explains a brief history of Gauntlgrym, and how the occupants of this city had magically enslaved Maegera the Inferno, one of the Dawn Titans and a Primordial of fire, far beneath the city and had used it for millennia to work their Great Forge. Klebbar intends to summon another Primordial of fire, Achazar the Raging Flame. By Achazar’s power they will free Maegera so it may return to its home in the Elemental Plane of Fire.

IMAGE(https://www.worldanvil.com/uploads/images/325265a20ad8f18313f0587f182d46c9.jpg)

Questions flare up, wondering what guarantees they have that the Primordials simply return to their home plane, or do any kind of harm to this city or its neighbors. Klebbar speaks to the freedom of Maegera, and that’s the most important thing – life will continue regardless. He offers to take them as far down as they can go, to Maegera’s Fiery Pit.

The cylindrical chamber they arrive at is astoundingly large, and intensely hot. Above them extends beyond what they can see, but pockmarked into the walls of the chamber are vents, likely used at one time by other sections of the city. Below where they stand they see a craggy array of rock and magma, hundreds of feet across. Klebbar says that to the best of his knowledge, that’s a piece of Maegera’s shoulder. Klebbar reminds them that this creature has been bound here for thousands of years, and nothing deserves that kind of treatment, especially not a being that helps shape the Elemental Plane of Chaos. He leaves them alone with the Dawn Titan to consider the exchange of favors.

Much deliberation ensues. Azarek attempts to speak with Maegera by amplifying his voice with magic, and using the language of the Primordials. When Maegera speaks, the chamber quakes. Maegera initially speaks somewhat incoherently, but after several questions responds with, “Grant me my freedom, and you will not regret it.”

Deciding to push onward and agree to the ritual, they head back to the Church of Kossuth and Klebbar begins preparations for Valka’s cleansing. Yorda assists in helping coordinate the circle, and explains that each of them that was present when the hag cursed Valka need to assist her. They will enter into a dream state during which the ritual will commence. A special tea is brewed to aid them in sleeping so they do not wake during the ritual.

Pure darkness begins their shared dream – Valka feels a mesh of wood and leaves, and tosses it aside. The dim yellow glow of eyes and teeth are the only thing she sees as she’s pelted with arrows! The laughter of goblins echoes down a cavern tunnel as they flee. She gives chase and easily cuts them down.

They’re back in the hag’s lair.

Marching forward they find a cavern room with a pool, and a stalactite holding a blue crystal from the ceiling. Struggling to remember what happened here weeks ago, they know a wrong move sends a crashing wave and sea creatures at them. The crystal glows brighter as Valka gets near it, and instead of immediately smashing it, she simply grabs it. Once she does, words illuminate on the water of the pool –

Don’t rush to meet them so soon
Explore and gather the boon
It might look familiar
But it’s not so similar
The right one can capture her doom

They remember finding the Ghost Lantern in this cave, amidst spiders and zombies and grubs. They head to the west and find almost precisely that, yet…different. Swarms of rot grubs surround the stake where the Ghost Lantern should be, but rather it’s on the ground, and no blue spiritual light emanates from it. Once they push forward into the room the giant spider crawls from behind an escarpment and then magically splits into five smaller spiders. Easily vanquished, they grab their prize. Once it’s in Valka’s hands, the top of the lantern pops off and a gentle vacuum effect occurs. They immediately piece together that this is meant to trap the Night Hag. Realizing they cannot sleep while they’re sleeping, they choose to take a short rest. Valka is beset by an image of Arlin atop the lycanthropic stone slab, Lucy’s white werewolf form hovering over him to strike. Valka is too late to react, and Arlin is mauled by the werewolf. When Valka is able to look back, small humanoid Lucy stands astride Arlin, covered in blood and crying. Valka’s vision comes to – but she was unable to benefit from the rest – and neither was Arlin.

They had forgotten the room before they encounter the hags, and this time it’s filled with not with zombies, but wights! The wights are not like their former selves, however – they use no bows or swords, just their icy necrotic grip. They seem to be gathered around a pyre of body parts, and a strand of energy tethers them to the fire. When destroyed, the wights come back immediately, reformed at the blaze to come after them again. Apple sets out to put herself in the middle of the danger, deftly dodging the attacks as she uses the Decanter of Endless Water to drown out the fire. Their tethers undone, the wights are dispatched and they take a final short rest before the hags. Again, Valka’s vision goes dark, then shifts to a wooded area. Apple is crossing the swamp but gets a foot stuck, behind her the rising head of Chartilifax the green dragon appears, about to swallow Apple whole! Valka reacts quickly and deftly, leaping over Apple to strike the dragon with Shatterspike. Chartilifax howls in pain and disintegrates, leaving Valka and Apple the ability to rest.

Heading in to the lair of the hags, they find it lacking a cauldron. Now, though, there are four eyes of energy on the ceiling in a square, magical energy beams connecting each. Our heroes fan out, determined to try and destroy whatever these things are first. As the hags reveal themselves from their hiding spots, they begin to chant in unison –

Our eyes are everywhere
We see and can prepare
There’s much strength in cunning
So you’d best be running
Flee Valka! We are your despair!

IMAGE(http://gowdb.com/assets/cards/Troop_K19_08.jpg)

Esh quickly casts a counter charm, and Apple uses the Sinister Glove to protect Valka from the Fey. Their magics are still potent with enfeebling spells, lightning bolts, counter spells, and phantasmal killers. The battle rages on, and the hags are difficult to hit while their glowing energy orbs are still present on the ceiling. Arlin shifts into a spider to quickly web up the Green Hag, Apple and Esh quickly dispatch the Sea Hag despite its horrifying appearance. Esh was once again polymorphed into a toad, but he’s more experienced now – he jumped off a small ledge, damaging his form and reverting himself to a proper half-elf, loosing many arrows afterward at every hag he could see. Valka was enraged and kept up the pressure, but eventually fell to her wounds, rebounding by bardic healing. Azarek polished off the remaining energy orbs and weakened the hags. With her sisters defeated and now on the retreat, the Night Hag couldn’t make it far before she was cut down, her corporeal body separating from her ethereal one. The Ghost Lantern’s top popped off once more, now its vacuuming power quite mighty. Valka aims it at the Night Hag, who gets sucked into the tiny purple prison.

And then they wake.

Lighting the Pyre, Part 2

Waking up from their shared dream, Yorda greets them, asking Valka how she feels. Valka says she's feeling better than she has in a while, refreshed and healthier than ever. Yorda is pleased, and tells the group that they have some time, as Klebbar must rest and concentrate on the ritual to come, since he just completed this one. She says they are free to explore Gauntlgrym and highlights some of the areas in the city that the mine cart system reaches.

Azarek chooses to remain at the temple, transcribing spells and studying magic, like a wizard does. He sends Hootley along with the rest of the party who goes freewheeling back through the Iron Tabernacle and straight to Moradin's Throne Room. Like everything else in Gauntlgrym, this is an oversized chamber home to a giant throne of gold, embellished with beautiful Dwarven knotwork. They see that an ashy layer of dust covers the floor, no one's been here in many years. The throne itself, while impressive, doesn't appear to contain hidden features, though they do carefully smash the altar in front of it and find golden prayer coins and a ring of fire resistance.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/UadqdBo.jpg)

Wandering to the Vault of Kings, they see the remains of a civilization here, many smithys and shops lay in ruin, central to residential districts in tunnels nearby. They come across a library, and while it has obviously suffered a fire at some point, there are still books remaining. They find an old tome that mentions Maegera, though it's in an ancient Dwarven dialect they're not familiar with. Lucy and Valka come across a large and heavy set of stone slabs, with odd rectangles and lines carved into them, bound together by metallic rings. They don't know what it is, but it's interesting. So they take it with the notion of delivering it back to Azarek.

Amidst his scribing, Azarek is interrupted by the return of the party. They deliver the book and stone slabs, and Azarek refuses to be swayed by temptation - he knows the carved stone tablet is a Mind Flayer relic - but he finishes his transcription before diving into new academia. Then he dives into the Dwarven book. It talks about the Delzoun, an ancient Dwarven civilization, and discusses the possibilities of why they shackled Maegera. Theories include revenge against the primordials for destroying the Spine of the World and many Delzoun settlements, along with history on Achazar and his rumored domination of a city on a different plane, on a world called Abeir.

The stone slab is written in Qualith, a language developed by the Illithids. Instead of proper letters and symbols, the lines on the slab are infused with the psychic energy of the one who wrote them, allowing the "reader" to directly tap into the thoughts of the author. These stones detail accounts of the Illithid's elder brains instructions on the creation of the madminds. Madminds, or illithiderro, are crossbred humans and Dwarves with purple skin and a penchant for sadism. It's mixed with notes about the illithiderro overpopulation, and concerns on how the Illithid plan to contain them.

Klebbar and the acolytes are finally ready for the ritual itself. Minecarts are loaded and everyone heads down to the Fiery Pit - a stunningly large circular chamber, with a ceiling higher than one can see. In the center of the pit is an opening, within holds some part of Maegera that looks like rock and magma, shifting ever so slightly. The heat near the pit is unbearable, so the congregation (as well as our heroes) stand in a semicircle some distance from the altar Klebbar has erected. Klebbar is much nearer; he must have protected himself from the intense heat somehow. He begins his chant, and our heroes take their own fire-precautions. After some time, he concludes with, "powerful Achazar, the Raging Flame, we call upon you to free your fellow primordial, Maegera the Inferno, who has been locked away in the bowels of Gauntlgrym!"

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/bdwYVQ4.jpg)

Achazar appears as a pillar of fire a hundred feet tall, hotter than even the church members of Kossuth can stand. They begin retreating as Klebbar takes a stand and offers gifts, many baubles and trinkets, atop an altar where sits the crown jewel, the Brazier of Fire Elementals. Achazar pulls in the treasure, a wind created from nowhere ripping the pieces from the makeshift altar. Several acolytes and party members are taken off guard by the sudden gust, and begin falling toward Achazar and the incredible heat. Klebbar, being near the altar, is far too close and tumbles forward violently. Valka and Apple spring into action, Valka staying her ground and tossing her magical rope to Azarek and Esh, lassoing them around the waist before they tumble forward further. Apple darts toward Klebbar, and Arlin uses Entangle to slow the dwarven priests tumbling. This allows Apple to seize him before he gets too close and combusts instantly, like the magical brambles begin to do.

Once all of the trinkets and offerings get close enough to Achazar, they melt and let loose the trapped elementals, sprites, and spirits inside them. Different beings of fire, including the large fire elemental once summoned by the brazier, are now free and they head toward the pit, disappearing below. Achazar's column of flame surges downward, enveloping the area of rock and magma believed to be Maegera, and just as quickly flies directly up the tall ceiling of the Fiery Pit and disperses through the tunnels above. The chamber begins to rumble, starting slow, like when Maegera spoke, but then cracks in the Fiery Pit emerge and rocks begin to break loose. The acolytes look happy, but nervous as they've completed their goal. Yorda tells them to run for the carts.

As the Fiery Pit begins to collapse, Klebbar tells Apple to leave him be - he wishes to commune with Maegera. Apple barely even gives it a first thought, let alone a second, before she sprints back toward everyone else as they're loading into the mine carts. It's a good thing Valka took time earlier to study the workings of the mine carts, as she's able to assist everyone to get in, but there's too many people for the amount of carts they have - so Azarek opts to cast Fly upon himself and Arlin shifts into a compact rodent for easy travelin', and they set off!

The city is awash with explosions of lava and fire! They race through the city and are beset by many switches and paths ahead and they must navigate the right way. Rocks fall upon their path, a piece of Maegera bursts through a city wall overwhelming them with heat, and Apple sets out to jump off a cart and kick a rail switch only to slip on a rock - Valka had magically tied her rope around her waist for safety and with a strong pull, hauls Apple back into the cart, hitting the switch with Apple's body on the way!

IMAGE(https://i.pinimg.com/564x/25/81/ac/2581acb4cc6b8c89ba924f5bcda52168.jpg)

At the city's exit stands a massive pair of doors made of mithral that only open a small bit because falling rock is blocking their path - Azarek casts Spider Climb on Valka who goes and smashes one of the door's hinges with Shatterspike, while Esh uses some inspired bardic casting to magically unhinge the bottom pin from the door, letting them escape! As they run down an intensely long tunnel they see daylight at the end, but that daylight is filled with ash and fiery flying rocks.

IMAGE(https://i.pinimg.com/564x/16/dc/c0/16dcc051a2b0c82605036d028a1b83ec.jpg)

Our heroes run down the summit, Esh using a plant growth spell to make it easier to traverse than the pure sifting gravel that'd cause them to slip. Valka sees a pair of acolytes about to get smashed by falling rock, so she grabs a typically unused shield and throws it down like a snow saucer, grabbing a acolyte in each arm as she slides to the bottom!

Now at the southern base of Mount Hotenow, they see a gargantuan limb made of rock and magma burst from the top of the volcano, followed by the mightiest explosion they've ever heard moments later, the sound taking a moment to travel. The wide set top of the volcano crumbles to pieces, Maegera climbing free. High above, a giant red dragon roars in hatred, dwarfed by the primordial, who pays it no mind as its lair has just been annihilated. Maegera now freed, it turns to face the column of flame racing away in the distance and bellows after it. "Achazar, traitor! I will find you and I will destroy you!" Maegera lumbers off his perch, and heads toward the Spine of the World.

IMAGE(https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/powerlisting/images/8/86/Maegera_the_Inferno.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/516?cb=20180212204850)
Maegera the Inferno, unleashed