We were finishing up butchering the scorpion monster corpse when the entrance began closing. I ran for the door, but it closed just before I got there. A moment later the room suddenly went dark. I started feeling the walls, looking for a way out when my hand touched flesh. I drew my hand back, and realized that the wall didn’t end, it just stopped being stone and became flesh!
Rakust gathered us all around and created a wall of flame, circling us protectively. We could see a little in the magic light of the flames, and the wall was turning into a grotesque mass of body parts, like eyes, mouths, arms, and skin. Even the floor and ceiling were changing, though the wall of fire seemed to stop the floor directly under us from changing. We heard a god-like voice call out that if we wanted the rune here we’d have to go through it.
We started attacking the walls with ranged weapons and spells, but it didn’t do much good. Suddenly we realized that the wall was storing up our energies and was about to throw them back at us! We all managed to duck out of the way, and the blast went past us and opened a hole in the wall behind us, opposite to where the door used to be. Billy summoned a flying disk and took a couple trips with it to take us all out of the flesh room.
We found ourselves at the bottom of giant-sized stairs, looking up at the form of a giant. The giant at the top of the stairs didn’t seem to be moving. I got on Billy’s disk and we floated a little closer to see that it was a fire giant – apparently the one that had been helping us but got lost. It’s eyes had turned pure black. I shouted back to the rest of the party that it was Gragose!
The giant appeared to be fighting the transformation and losing. Billy and I attacked, but we only seemed to be helping it shed its giant skin and turn into something demonic. It laughed at us and said it was not Gragose, it was Gagose’s boss, Korva, ruler of the first of the Nine Hells! It said it was here to take our runes.
Korva smashed a hole in the wall next to it, but instead of the sky outside we saw a fiery inferno that I could only assume was the first Hell itself. Two cloud giants came up from behind Korva, and the demon easily disemboweled one with a flick of its tail, then tore it completely to pieces.
Billy called out that Korva was weak to sunlight and pulled out a scroll, causing the area to burst into bright light. Korva turned away, shielding it’s eyes, but then realized it was not actually hurt. As it turned back we were all holding hands, and Rakust said, “See ya!” as he Plane Shifted us out of the tower.
The next thing I knew, there was so much light that I was completely blinded. And I was falling! I was starting to panic when something caught me, and I realized that it was Sira! Somehow she had grown to about three hundred feet long, and had swooped to catch us all. We landed safely, and as we got off of her back she returned to a more normal size, but she had changed color slightly, and seemed to have amethyst clusters in place of scales every so often. Her tail had a high cluster of amethyst, like a mace.
Rakust told us that he had taken us to the realm of Pelor, since Pelor was a mortal enemy of Korva, and Rakust figured Korva couldn’t follow us here. The area around us was a pleasant meadow, and we could hear a brook a little ways off. We headed for the brook to set up camp. Aris began fishing (there were big golden fish in the river), and we discussed how we were going to get home. Rakust said he could Plane Shift us back to the Material Plane, but he couldn’t pick exactly where we’d end up. For example, he had been aiming to put us exactly smack in front of Pelor’s throne, but we were obviously nowhere in sight of his palace or mansion or whatever.
Now, I have a policy of noninterference with the gods. I stay out of their way and they stay out of mind. I never thought it was a good idea to draw the attention of any god in my line of work, but since we were sitting here on Pelor’s home turf there wasn’t much I could do when an adult golden dragon swooped down to us and asked us why we were here. Without thinking about it, I muttered, “Fear.” I guess the dragon may have interpreted that as I was scared of him (I wouldn’t say “scared”, more “wary”), so he morphed into the form of a well-built blonde human wearing golden armor with Pelor’s sunburst all over it and told us there was nothing to be afraid of here.
The servant of Pelor told us that they had been watching us for some time (creepy!) and that Korva had somehow sabotaged our armor. He magicked it off of us and showed us how it was made to stick spikes into our flesh at the wrong moment. He also mentioned that the final rune was in the ninth level of Hell. Great.
Five more metallic dragons appeared and prepared to take us to Pelor’s castle. Billy looked down at his dragon’s feet and started picking up gemstones! They had apparently fallen out from between the dragon’s scales. I was about to start looking around at the feet of my dragon when Billy’s dragon glared at him and asked for the gems back. The other dragons found this terribly funny. Billy gave the gems back.
At the castle we met Pelor himself. He appeared as big as a titan and sat down in a huge throne made of some metal I couldn’t identify. He spoke with us a bit, then summoned a table full of all sorts of different kinds of food. When we sat down at the table he walked over, shrank to our size, and sat at the table with us. It was extremely awkward, at least for me. I went from staying out I’d the gods’ way to supping with one. I kept wondering if he could see into my skull and if he was going to kick me out or send me to hell at any moment for the things I’ve done. I was starving, damnit! I couldn’t—
Well, never mind that. While we ate, the topic of Gragose’s sword came up. Pelor told us that it had not been destroyed after all. It had been given life somehow, and a desire to destroy everything. Pelor also told us that although he and the other gods were not allowed to interfere with us directly we had come to him, and he could help us while we were in his realm. Dragons in the form of humans came over and gave us each a package.
We all got new magic armor to replace what Korva had cursed. I got a set of leather armor (complete with boots) that was supposed to let me see hidden doors. (OOC: Leather armor +2, also grants DEX +2 and the ability to auto-detect secret doors) Alex got a set of armor that looked almost exactly like mine, plus a bow with a string that wasn’t there until he shot it. Billy got a purple and gold robe (OOC: same as his last robes but with +2 AC) and a staff with the sunburst of Pelor (OOC: staff of the summoner). Rakust got a set of plate with the insignia of Joramy on it. It wasn’t magic yet, but Pelor said he would help us Plane Shift home near someone who could bless the armor in the name of Joramy. Aris got armor that had apparently been worn by her father, then improved by Pelor’s workmen (OOC: armor of protection +5 ac). She also got a holy lance (OOC: holy lance +3 or +5 against evil), and Syra got barding (OOC: barding +2).
While we were unwrapping the presents, Rakust started talking about how superior Joramy was to Pelor. The rest of us tensed up and were ready for Rakust to get smited, but the god only laughed and tapped Rakust on the forehead, granting him some sort of minor blessing. Pelor said he appreciated Rakust’s honesty. (OOC: Rakust can memorize one extra spell of half his level, rounded up.)
Pelor had another couple of gifts as well. He gave Billy a golden pearl and told him that the pearl would give Billy the ability to “cast the power of the sun in my name five times.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. He also gave Rakust a scroll that Rakust read and learned right there. It taught him how to call down a firestorm or something. (OOC: The spell works like call lightning except it does fire damage instead of lightning, struck creatures get an additional 1d4 scorching damage per round for 1d6 rounds, and it doesn’t cause extra damage when cast in a stormy area. Rakust can cast it three times per week in addition to his normal spells.)
When we were done eating the dragons led us to our rooms. Each room seemed to be customized for us. Rakust’s room was very hot, my room had a buffet table with more food, and Billy’s room was a frickin’ library. I think the goblin stayed up all night reading. I didn’t see Alex’s or Aris and Sira’s rooms.
I was about to head to my room when Rakust pulled me aside and said we were exploring. He had his usual sparkling personality (not), but he only pulled me aside like that to go sightseeing. While we were walking he was asking my opinion on the artwork in a tone of voice that sounded like he was interrogating me. It was strangely touching, like he wanted to be friends but he’d only read about “friends” in a book and wasn’t quite getting the details right. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or traumatized.