We continued to jog towards the city limits. Vall scouted ahead and reported back: several of the teeth-eye-things were lying in ambush. Going around would have been time-consuming, so we decided to assault them head-on and thin out the opposition.
There were about a dozen of the kind we’d met before, and two more that seemed different; they still had the many-angled teeth/eyes thing happening, but they were bigger and moved more deliberately, seeming more solid.
Still, they went down quickly enough. Zakaroth shot one of the big ones repeatedly and it went down quickly, Vall killed another. Faye charged in and attracted a crowd of them (of course she did); they scratched her up a bit, but she did all right. I called up a sphere of fire, which might have been effective if they hadn’t kept dodging, and then I shot one with my crossbow.
I had been concerned that using magic might strengthen them (being thaumivores) but I thought it better to test that theory than remain uncertain, and it didn’t seem to be a problem. However, when Chrysta called up an earth elemental, she experienced unexpected pain – perhaps because the city is in another plane, summoning is affected?
Anyway, I moved in to help Faye and knocked out four of the critters with a colour spray. One of them hit me as I was casting, but I kept my concentration, and with that the fight was pretty much over, with my companions having taken care of the rest. As they died, they slipped back out of existence.
Curiously, the guards accompanying us hadn’t moved during the fight. Apparently, from their perspective the fight was over too quickly for them to see.
Moving on, we encountered another ambush. We dealt with it quickly enough, but Val took the opportunity to test the guards; he poked one fellow, who came to and joined the fight. It seems that we’re able to snap them out of it by interacting with them. Very peculiar.
Approaching the gate, we found the party we’d left at base camp, fighting something large and ugly. It was standing on the city side of the boundary, casting spells at them (which fizzled harmlessly at the boundary) and throwing rocks, which were rather more effective. It was an ugly creature: tall, humanoid, with broad shoulders. Zakaroth told us it was radiating strong evil – some kind of demon or devil?
I bolstered Faye’s strength, and we charged in. Faye, Vall, and Zakaroth hit it with a series of well-aimed strikes, and for want of anything better to do I plinked away with magic missiles. It showed surprising resilience and fought back, hitting Faye hard. I smacked it with my staff from a safe distance, and Chrysta woke up our accompanying guards, who finished it off.
We didn’t have to worry about the old “is it really dead?” question because it exploded very convincingly, showering us with corrosive ichor. I cast Prestidigitation, which cleaned it off me, but I felt a flare of pain in my fingers as I cast it; I suggested running past the threshold, and Faye did so; when she did, there was a blinding flash of light, a smell of pork, and the ichor was gone.
(At this point I vaguely noticed that there were five guards on the other side, not the four we had left, but I was still rather distracted and didn’t think to investigate this as I should have.)
Zakaroth rode past the portal, cried havoc, and released the gods. A line of lights linked him to the mountain, there was a loud crack, and things changed: now the air in the city was the same as on the outside, and the magical boundary was gone.
(Meanwhile, Faye was terrified that something was going to hunt her down and eat her. Hmm.)
Returning to the city we found it still abandoned, similar to its previous state, but the atmosphere was much less oppressive. We returned to the temple district, beginning with the temple of Iomedae; Faye called on her, and she responded, much faster than on our previous visit.
The gods told us that the demon had come from another realm, and was trying to take over. Iomedae advised me to go to the temple of Nethys, which I did.
Faye visited Cayden’s temple again. He was doing rather better; still bandaged, but no longer smelling of gangrene. Iomedae told us that his soul had been separated from his body, but now that they were reunited, the spark of heroism will remain in our world and will no longer fade as it had previously done.
(This, I suspect, is going to shake things up.)
Then Cayden challenged Faye to a drinking contest, which went much as you would expect.
Visiting Nethys’ temple, the feeling of presence was still weak; I called on him, and once more Iomedae-acting-for-Nethys appeared. She told me and Chrysta that the blockage resulting from his absence could be circumvented, and touched us lightly. I was overwhelmed by the sensation – as was Chrysta – and it was several hours before we regained consciousness, but I can tell you that it was VERY much worth it. As she had promised, the blockage was gone – no, not gone, but pushed aside, held at bay – and I felt new power coursing through me. Iomedae told me she had placed a permanent part of herself inside me.
(I hope Iomedae is not too easily shocked.)
Zakaroth visited the temple of Asmodeus and, I am informed, found him strengthened like Iomedae. I am not entirely sanguine about this.
Iomedae asked us, and I understand Asmodeus gave similar instructions, not to let the outside world know about the changes that had happened to the gods. If anybody else wants to know, they can come here and find out themselves.
More good news, which will certainly shake things up: the travelling-stones can now be reactivated, though not remotely; we will have to go on a little tour. There is one in the Celestial City and one in the outer city, and we tested them, so that’s a start!
Shiny points: 17 carried over, +1 for summary -4 for rerolling to get decent HP = 14.