DM practical note: This game was all theatre of the mind.
Having stopped the Troll incursion on Mountainhold, our heroes the Hellbenders were offered to stay with the dwarves to learn from them before heading to Phlegethos to seek revenge on Hammelthal, the Orthon who had assassinated Seipora.
To get back to hell, the dwarves gave the heroes direction to a room far down in the basement levels of the Hall of Grudges. The room supposedly had an old portal to a long abandoned dwarven embassy in Abriymoch, the capital of Phlegethos.
However the dwarves cautioned that there were rumours the portal had somehow been eaten or swallowed by a Demon.
Going down through the well maintained sub levels, the party arrived at the room and with no signs of traps and no sounds coming from the room they carefully stepped in.
The Embassy Gateway room
The room they saw was well-lit by a magic chandelier, had shelves, bookcases on all walls with opposing mirrors on the left and right wall, a big round carpet on the floor and a huge wardrobe at the end.
Carefully and cautiously, our heroes made their way across the room until Kaari threw a small sentient mushroom she had carried with her since the beginning of their journey across the room all the way to the wardrobe.
The small creature screamed as it flew across the room but landed safely in the other end of the room. Pestilence, having feline reactions, jumped after the little mushroom and also landed in front of the wardrobe.
At that point the huge wardrobe opened up to reveal a gigantic maw full of huge jagged teeth and with a portal in the middle.
Tentacles shot out and the heroes started fighting the odd demonic creature/ furniture.
But Pestilence, with her Arcane intuition were sure the portal indeed was the actual portal to Phlegethos. How it had ended up fused with the demonic maw, she didn’t know, but as she shouted the fact to the team, Kaari simply took a chance and leapt through the portal fighting her way through the rows of teeth.
Thorga was quick to follow suit and grabbed Pestilence and Misty Stepped to the portal. Unfortunately the Maw had a magical barrier preventing him from stepping all the way through the portal, but with his brute strength he forced through the jagged teeth and went through.
The heroes landed in Styxhaven, the small harbour town at the edge of River Styx.
Kaari and Thorga immediately recognised the place, while Pestilence, new to Phlegethos, took in the heavy dry and dusty heat.
They saw Hell Delight, run by the sensual Penelopix Lust-Lashes, and as they headed to the tavern they saw Penelopix argue with a drunken scruffy looking figure, who she threw out.
Picking itself up, the clearly drunken figure in polite manners explained their intent to fully pay their bar tab of 27 Soul Coins as soon as they could.
Hearing the voice, Kaari and Thorga immidiately recognised James Brimstone, their old guide to Hell.
He had fallen upon hard times after his former employee, the fallen angel Azrael had gone mad with grief as her lover the Angel Archon had failed to appreciate her efforts to bring them together here in hell.
The heroes were quick to hire James as a guide and Kaari and Thorga decided to go and talk to Penelopix while Pestilence stayed outside to introduce himself to James.
Pestilence and James
Pestilence told James she worked for Belial to make sure James would do has he says. James in turn told Pestilence that he was working as a lawyer in Strict Side (the half of Abriymoch ruled by Belial) before his employment with Azrael.
Pestilence told James not to share her connection with Belial with Kaari and Thorga, who at this point in time has no idea Pestilence is a Warlock with a Patron.
Kaari, Thorga and Penelopix
Meanwhile Kaari and Thorga caught up with their old aquitance Penelopix and broke the news of Seipora’s death as they knew Penelopix had had a bit of a thing for Seipora.
They learned that Hammelthal is an Orthon, a devil tracker and hunter normally working for the hellish authorities. And that it was unusual for an Orthon to venture into the material plane except to hunt a serious transgressor.
To Penelopix, stealing a few Soul coins, like our heroes had, didn’t quite match the profile of a serious and dangerous crime worthy of dispatching and Orthon, which both her and Thorga conclude that Hammelthal had gone rogue.
This in turned opened the question: Why would anybody smuggle Soul Coin, money of the standard currency, into Abriymoch? One could just have walked in with it in a coin purse.
Heading to Abriymoch
as the heroes convened, they decided to take the Night Diligence to Abriymoch.
To avoid paying, Pestilence quitely threathened the coach rider by revealing he worked for Belial. Kaari and Thorga noticed the quite conversation but thought nothing of it and off the party went.
Welcome back to Abriymoch
Entering the humogous gate James gave a quick overview of how Abriymoch is divided into Sin Side (ruled by Fierna where all the pleasurew and party happens) and Strict Side (ruled by Belial where the Infernal Courts and bureaucracy was to be found).
He also quickly described how Phlegethos came to be ruled by the Belial and Feirna together as all other levels of hell were ruled by a single Arch Duke or Arch Duchess.
Belial had been the sole ruler of Phlegethos, but had in his devilish arrogance initiated a coup against Asmodeus, the ruler of the nine hells.
Unsurprisingly this failed and Asmodeus as punishment forced Belial to share power with Fierna his daughter/sister/lover greating a constant tension between Fierna’s highly volatile, impatient and passionate nature and Belial’s more cold, calculated and scememing politician nature.
while James was recounting the history of Phlegethos, a huge Devil landed in front of them.
A Pit Fiend. Second only to the Arch Dukes and Arch Duchesses of Hell. A general of the hellish armies.
As the creature landed, everybody cowered in fear including our heroes.
Disgusted with the fearful behaviour of the tiny cowering creatures around him, the Pit Fiend pulled out a scroll and threw it directly at Pestilence’s feet and flew away paying no more attention to the crowd.
A summoning from Belial
The scroll read:
Pestilence, my hellish prospect.
I know you and your comrades have arrived in my city to seek the extacy of revenge but i will have you slow your thirst.
See me at once in my office. Show this letter as proof of passage and my staff will let you pass.
Your master in life and beyond.
Pestilence quickly cast Illusory Script on the scroll to change the content into an advertising flier promoting a sale at a store called “Fiendish Finds” and showed it to her companions.
Kaari, having a brain, figured it was strange a mighty being such as a Pit Fiend would be delivering advertising fliers so she cast Dispel Magic on the scroll, but Pestilence’s deception held and Kaari was left puzzling what it all meant.
Let’s go shopping at Fiendish Finds
as it happened James Brimstone knew the Fiendish Finds store located in Cinderblight Arcade in Strict Side. Excited he led the party towards the shopping arcade and in the progress took Pestilence in the right direction towards his master.
Unfortunately, the shop was closed for the day and the heroes briefly thought about retiring for the night at a nearby tavern called “The Abyssal Anchor”.
But having only 6 Soul Coins left, they decided to leave Strict Side and visit their friends, the Brothers Deville in Sin Side who had promised the heroes could always find shelter in their workshop.
Old friends and new stories
Indeed the brothers were happy to see the heroes again. Being Dwarven souls trapped in huge Stone Golems of their own making, the brothers were keen to hear of news from the Material plane.
While Thorga and Kaari caught up with the brothers, Pestilence had to come up with a plan, a good plan and fast. A summoning by Belial was not the kind of summoning you ignore…