Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

Breaching the Secrets of the Festival

The main hall before the heroes and the keys in hand, they stepped forward and opened the doors. As they did, they saw only darkness before them.

Fearing yet another magical trap, they attempted to shed light on the room inside. But nothing, magic or mundane, was able to get the job done. Finally deciding to risk it anyway for they were getting nowhere fast, the heroes eventually stepped into the dark hall, but took a collective misstep and began to feel the sensation of falling.

Brimstone and a sense of wrongness was waiting for them when they landed unceremoniously. It did not take long for them to figure out that they were no longer in the material plane. Al’ev announced that they had stumbled into a plane of Hell, though he was unable to determine which one from what they saw around them.

If this was just another part of the breaching festival, albeit a sinister one, they did not know until proceeding further into the maleficent halls they found themselves within. A short ways in, they found the dead body of Magrand, the academy spellcaster who had entered the festival. It was clear that something terrible had happened to him.

Finding themselves with three directions to choose from, they tried a hall that lead into a room that could have once been an office. But the room was a mess and full of dust. The books on the book shelves held nothing but blank pages and in the corner was a pile of bones that had once belonged to many various creatures. On one of the walls the heroes saw words carved into an archway that read “The Breaching is a sham. Get out, get out now.”

With that the heroes tried the other branch of the main hall and soon found themselves in what could only be a torture chamber. There they found Illia, the rogue who had also entered the festival. But unlike Magrand, she was still alive, though obviously had been roughed up quite a bit.

Spouting nonsense about some tentacle lady, the heroes removed her from her restraints and were getting ready to leave when they were attacked by an invisible foe.

The battle was quick, though some heroes found it hard to concentrate in such a foul place. By the end of the skirmish, a bone creature similar to ones they had fought in the material plane before, lay on the ground before them. Illia, who was clearly not all there, had attacked Al’ev in the middle of the fight, but the heroes showed restraint and did not kill her. They warned her not to do it again or she would die in this place.

The heroes continued on the only other direction they could and soon found the creature that was responsible for Illia’s murmurings about a tentacle lady behind one of the doors in a lengthy hallway. But the creature did not rush to engage the heroes in combat and so they closed the door before anything more could happen and continued down the hall.

The heroes tried the next two doors opposite of the tentacle demon’s door and saw a massive library where books were flying every which way. Within was a man who was desperately trying to put the books back in order, but it was clear he was never going to complete the task. The heroes left him alone as well and continue on a bit further until they heard what sounded to be two voices in a deep argument over something.

Sindri, Al’ev, and Harry decided to try and see what was going on while the rest of the group decided to try and find out what the man in the library was really up to.

They split up.

Blasphemy, the black dragon queen’s representative Stryd, and Coal entered the library and soon learned that the man was trapped there until he could find the book that was his. Blasphemy asked if it was ever mentioned that his book was in that room and he admitted that it wasn’t. The heroes began a search of the other areas of hell that they had passed and soon found themselves face to face with the tentacle demon.

The demon attempted to negotiate for two souls, including Illia’s, but Neo would have none of it. He charged into battle before anything more could be said and Coal, Blasphemy, Stryd found themselves battling for their very souls. The fight proved to be difficult as the demon was resilient and resisted many of the attacks that the heroes threw at her. But with a swarm of wasps conjured by Blasphemy, the demon was felled and the man’s book was found among her belongings.

Meanwhile, Sindri had used a spell to transform himself into something resembling a demon. Al’ev and Harry enhanced his outfit by allowing Sindri to ride upon Harry’s badger’s back. Then, acting as though they served Sindri as their lord, they proceeded towards the arguing voices.

They soon found a Devourer demon named Valshune and a Bearded Devil named Nagxif in the middle of a large arena that was otherwise empty. The two turned out to be arguing over the fallen academy mage’s soul.

The three heroes soon forced themselves into the argument with the hopes of turning the two evil entities against one another and then finishing the one that was left standing. The plan worked until the Bearded Devil quickly showed why his kind were feared by many and he impaled the Devourer demon with the barbs in his beard.

Sindri, Al’ev and Harry soon found themselves arguing with the Bearded demon who was not convinced that one so small as “Lord Sindrius” could control as many souls as he claimed. Eventually the three heroes were backed into the situation of rounding up the rest of their group and then were to meet with the contract demon, Chevrrum.

The heroes all reunited and handed then went into the library where they were ambushed by invisible spirits that had been moving the books about. After a few close calls, the heroes beat the evil spirits through magic and might. They then found the man and handed him his book. He was in mid-sentence when he promptly vanished from before them, leaving the heroes with only one option, Chevrrum.

The headed to the large doors at the end of the hallway that had provided the adventurers with danger after danger and soon found themselves looking at the massive form of the contract demon, Chevrrum.

The bearded devil who Sindri, Al’ev and Harry had encountered earlier began to plead his case, but was soon banished for incompetence. The contract demon was not fooled by Sindri’s disguise and the conversation soon turned to another negotiation. The contract demon proposed the heroes give up one day of their life in his service in exchange for being returned to the surface. Not one hero was willing to do this so willingly, but when a few items were cleared up, Blasphemy was the first to sign the document.

One by one, the heroes begrudgingly accepted, though some did so with elaborate terms inserted into the document, and eventually they were all returned to the material plane. Even Illia had been returned as part the agreement that Neo had signed. They emerged from the Academy’s rear exit in time to see Blasphemy declared the first winner of the breaching festival in over seventy years. The Gnomes were not restrained in their celebrating for the alchemist’s success.

The heroes returned to their lodgings and enjoyed a good night’s rest. The following morning, Blasphemy was approached by one of the tournament’s officials who told him that Headmaster Tofton
wished to speak with him before the feast that was to be held in his honor that night. Blasphemy agreed to do this and told the official that the rest of the heroes would be joining him for this meeting and the feast.

They were brought back to the magic university and left in a large room where Headmaster Tofton and his wife were waiting next to two large statues. As the heroes approached, the Headmaster congratulated Blasphemy on his success once more. But as he spoke, it was obvious to some in the group that something was off. They soon found that he was under the effect of a spell and though Al’ev managed to dispell it, the spell was placed upon him again and before any heroes could stop him, the Headmaster pulled two familiar looking purple gems from his robes and placed one each in the chest cavities of the statues. The statues then began to come to life and glass shields slid down in front of the crystals to protect them from any harm.

The headmaster announced that he had one more test for blasphemy and combat ensued. The heroes quickly disabled the gem powered constructs while Stryd, Neo, and Blasphemy were able to expose the culprit behind the charm spells. The being was behind the walls and constantly moving about until Stryd managed to catch the being in a powerful black tentacle spell. Meanwhile Harry uncovered a secret door that lead to the area that the culprit was in. The heroes approached from both sides and quickly soon found themselves face to face with a succubus. The fight was difficult in close quarters with this creature who constantly tried to bend their minds to her will. But the heroes won out once again, freeing Headmaster Tofton from her seductress charms.

In doing so, however, they found that the headmaster’s mind was no longer intact. He had been the victim of mind affecting magic for too long. The succubus had probably been posing as his wife for many years. They recognized this even as Coal wrapped the elderly gnome up in carpet from the main hall.

Unsure what to make of this half-elf who had been following them about for the past couple weeks, the heroes decided to dig around a bit, most choosing to do so in the rooms that were at the ends of the hidden hall. Stryd, however, was quite content with digging about the succubus, cutting pieces of the felled seductress for herself.

The heroes found plans and parts to the synthetic bodies that had housed the crystals in the fight they had just been in. These bodies were clearly experiments and the implications were quite disturbing, but at the same time it caused Al’ev to have an idea.

These bodies appeared to give the souls in the gems what they were missing. If they could figure out the secrets, they could give the souls in the gems bodies once more, though it wouldn’t quite be the same. Not only could this lead to appeasing the black dragon queen, but it could also do so much more.

The thought was lost when the heroes returned from a hidden nook behind a solid wall with two soul gems that Celestrus said contained bits of green dragons.

There was silence in the group for some time before they realized that they needed to get to the feast.

Along the way, the headmaster, who was still hidden in Coal’s carpet, was taken from Coal by a pair of servants. The heroes continued on and began to the feast and pretended all was well until murmurings about the absence of the headmaster and headmistress became the only topic within earshot.

Then the two servants who had taken the carpet away burst into the banquet hall and explained that they had found the headmaster after dropping him and kicking the carpet.

Stryd was quick to jump all over their words and put the two of them in a bad light. When the head official at the gathering promised the young man would never pass another test in the school, Stryd said she would offer a different punishment in the form of whip lashings.

The heroes suggested that something must have happened to the headmaster to put him in such a state and, upon leading several of the teachers back to where they had left the headmaster, the heroes suggested he had been the victim of long term mind control. When the instructors didn’t believe them, they lead the group to where the succubus still lay.

The instructors were much more willing to believe the heroes then, and even after Coal managed to get himself arrested, the heroes resolved the situation by explaining all that had happened. Coal allowed his mind to be read by one of the instructors who confirmed the adventurer’s story.

The heroes were then lead to the headmaster’s room to search for the winnings that Blasphemy had rightfully won by finishing the Breaching Festival. They did so after disabling a magical trap involving liquid magma and a magic lock on a safe.

When they opened the safe, thousands of gold coins and jewels poured out onto the floor and kept spilling out. They soon found the room’s floor covered in a layer of coins nearly two feet thick.

After a long bit of counting, Blasphemy was given the award. He then turned around and split his winnings up evenly amongst the adventurers.

Pokets filled with coin, the heroes left the academy knowing they had much to do still….

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Azcatryo

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