Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Return to Glory
Locke’s Journal

The mining of the nahyndrian crystals has been put to an end. Barca, Trynna, and I infiltrated the mines . We avoidied an umbral dragon and temporarily allied ourselves with the “queen”, a “shit “demon taking on the looks of Areelu Vorlesh.

We found Baphomet’s Daughter, Hepzamira. She made short work of us but We were saved by a time stop spell from Nocticula. Trynna wouldn’t say directly what she bartered and only replied that she did “what had to be done”.

After recollecting ourselves , barca and Trynna managed to defeat her .Then to our surprise, the visage of baphomet appeared but was soon ripped apart by Nocticula herself.

She gave us a portal back to the material plane so we saved what crusaders we could and traveled back to Golarion.

After returning to Queen Galfrey, Trynna, Barca, and I encountered something unexpected. Suddenly, we were no longer on Golarion, we were standing before Iomedae, The Inheritor herself. She gave us a most important mission, to rescue her Herald from the Ivory Labyrinth or lay him to rest . Being surrounded by her grace and holy light, I felt a comfort that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Iomedae’s blessings have returned to me!

We have an important mission before us. For the sake of all Golarion, we must not fail.

Death Becomes Hepzamera

Did I just die again?
That feels like the rejuvenating power a a heal spell, OH Damn! That is a great pick still stuck in my chest!

Tryna explains what happened as she tends to Locke and I. I owe her so much these past few days, this is the second time I’ve needed to be revived in that time.

The next 16 hours are a blur, with time stopped we fully explore the area and gather anything of use or value to further our cause and prepare for a second attempt at killing Hepzamera.

The world speeds back up, or we slow down, and my club feeds. It hums in my hands as the blood of the daughter of Baphamet dies. Our victory is short lived though, as Baphamet himself emerges from her corpse, we are going to die; but no, Nocticula has used us as a trap; as Tryna explains, it must be part of why she was willing to assist us. She absolutely evicerates Baphamet in possibly the most satisfying display of horrifying gore I have ever seen. Mama tastes the blood of a Demon Lord tonight.

We eventually make it back to the Queen and our friends, saving a number of imprisioned crusaders along the way, but an event more life changing and shocking and beutiful and clarifying wisks the 3 of us away. We have been summoned to the realm of the Goddess Iomede.

Being in the presence of Nocticula’s incredibly powerful aura of beauty and lust was terrifying and quivering, but this makes that experience seem like childish fumbling.

I have been changed, we all have been changed. Traditionally I have mostly prayed to the Goddess of my ancestors, and I still do, but I have been in the presence of Iomede, felt her grace, and accepted her charge. Shime-magalla is still with me, always, but I can feel a divine power directly from her grace, Iomede, that is giving me powers I have never touched before, and I will not squander it.

Cohort’s Conversation

This is too hard to format in OP, so I took a picture.

Please let me know if you cannot read it clearly.


We End the Mining!
Trynna's Journal 13

Success, respect, a new mission, and a higher calling?

I feel invigorated! Though the future for my soul looks bleak after I promised it to Nocticula, I can’t help but feel optimistic about what we have left to achieve before the time for my final passing comes.

The three of us performed magnificently today, shutting down the mining operation, killing Hepzamirah, watching Baphomet rended limb from limb by the power of Nocticula, and then ending our day rejoining Queen Galfrey and the remnants of the 5th Crusade.

Oh, and then we met a God!

Iomeddae. In her realm. The three of us.

Unbelievable… Though at this stage in my life, with what horrors and ecstasies all of us have experienced, I guess nothing is truly unbelievable.

And in the blinding righteous white light of the Inheritor’s throne room, when my small footsteps were leaving inky black marks on the floor, I sensed only respect and understanding from the Lady of Valor and her servants. Despite Nocticula’s jagged thorny crown tattoo having burrowed its way to encircle my heart and blacken my thoughts and desires, the great Goddess was showing no judgement or blame towards me for my recent actions. I can only begin to describe the feeling of relief at being part of that acceptance. The crown loosened its grip, and I could feel my old self reasserting its control.

Of course my fate still looks bleak, but for now, I can only but feel and sing the praises of the Inheritor. She recognized Locke’s careful steady devotion and determination by rejoining her connection with him and restoring him to full power. Once more, he can shine as a beacon of goodness and strength with her full blessing. And young Barca was also transformed! Somehow, the abyssal stain on his heritage removed, and like Locke and I, rejuvenated and fortified into better, stronger, more effective versions of ourselves.

And we have a new mission to rescue the Inheritor’s Herald… or avenge his death if necessary from Baphomet’s realm. The minotaur god’s corporeal form was pulverized by Nocticula’s energies, but we understand that he has reformed in his realm and has but 365 days to endure before regaining his immortality. But if we come to face him again and manage to slay him, he will be dead forever! I don’t know if we are up to that task, but if that becomes necessary, I know the three of us will give everything we have to make it so.

After we left the barge, we flew up river intending to surprise the gate guards, kill them quickly, then go up to the cave of the “Fulsome Queen” the Omox demon called the “shit” demon in the writings of Kestoglyr. We waited for the fearsome umbral dragon to pass overhead in search of food, knowing we had a limited time to sneak into the cavern and sneak past or slay the Omox.

The first part of our mission went stunningly well. Invisible, I snuck up to the first tiefling guard and killed him within seconds. Locke had almost killed the second guard, but the fiend almost got away were it not for my quick reflexes and a fast charge. The two Hezrou appeared, and I got nervous for a second. But Barca put a world of hurt on one and we finished it off so quickly that the second Hezrou teleported away in fear.

Knowing that reinforcements could come, we raced up in to the cavern, where we found the Fulsome Queen. Surprisingly, she showed us great admiration and respect — genuine we all believed — for how efficiently we had dispatched our previous foes. Barca, showing once again his diplomatic skills, took the lead in engaging in conversation with the Omox. I followed suit, showering her with respectful titles and reinforcing Barca’s suggestion that the three of us could ally with her to eliminate the demons in the mines interfering with her peace and quiet. She encouraged us to move quickly before the dragon returned and gave us a great deal of useful information on the location of Hepzamirah and her minions. She even promised to back us up in combat, taking care of some of the less powerful opponents so that we could clear the mines quickly.

It worked perfectly. Again invisible, I dispatched the first of a group of Kalavakus demons quickly and easily. Then Locke and Barca emerged and we all began shredding and pincushioning them like lightning. At one point, Hepzamirah’s second in command, a Glaberezu named Kralisq, emerged. After a brief moment where we evaluated the situation and threat, we struck quickly, almost killing him and causing him to teleport away.

We flew down the final corridor towards the room where we knew Hepzamirah would be focused on working methodically to refine a Nahyndrian crystal. We came into a chamber where we found the Imago lens (a 3’ diameter disk of amber contained in demonic jaws) and a well-locked door. I was able to disable the lock and we opened it successfully.

I did not, however, detect the most powerful trap I have ever encountered.

We were hit by the mighty blast of a magical symbol trap. It dropped Locke, practically cut Barca in two, and greatly wounded myself. Knowing that certain death faced all three of us, Barca and I immediately began healing up our little party, while Hepzamirah cast a wall of stone between herself and us. When I had revivified Locke and got Barca and I back to a decent level of health, Barca began to bash through the wall.

It took less time than we had thought it would for him to get through, and we weren’t healed enough before Barca opened up a big enough hole for us to get through.

And then calamity struck. Figuratively and literally.

Hempzamirah moved forward and in one or two mighty swings of the Blancher, an enormous enchanted pick, killed Barca outright.

We were all going to die.

So I did the one thing I knew had to be done and called out for assistance from Our Lady of Shadows — Nocticula herself. I knew the price to pay would be my soul, but I was prepared to pay it. The three of us had decided when we stepped into Shamirrah’s hall that our souls were expendable in order to save the world.

And I was not going to let Barca, nor Locke and I die in vain.

Time froze. Unbelievable. Not just a “regular” time stop, but some sort of epic, even mythic, version. Nocticula gave us 16 HOURS to recuperate and prepare to rejoin the battle with Baphomet’s daughter.

We healed fully, rested, explored Hepzamirah’s chamber, backtracked and scouted the dragon’s hoard to see if there was anything useful, and — most importantly — took Blancher off the ground where Hepzamirah had dropped it in a moment of hubris and bluster and put in our bag of holding.

I moved around Hepzamirah to flank her with Barca, and Locked moved back into her chamber to give himself plenty of room from which to loose a hailstorm of arrows.

In my mind, I gave the signal to Nocticula and time began passing normally. Surprisingly, we did not get the actual drop on Hepzamirah and she was able to act first. It took her a moment to orient herself to this new reality that was so different from what she had just experienced in her consciousness. Barca was alive and preparing to swing with his club; I was behind her with my rapier poised, and Locke’s hand was drawing his bowstring taught. And she didn’t have her terrifying weapon in hand, and it was not even in sight!

Hepzamirah summoned a barrier of whirling, razor-sharp blades around her, but I didn’t care, to be honest. This was our one chance to finish what we had started, and I had already paid the most expensive and terrible price. What was bodily harm going to mean to me? Nothing.

I stepped in and unleashed a maelstrom of piercing strikes into her flesh. And Barca made blow after blow with his mighty club, the wood drinking in her blood. I think we ended her within maybe 12 seconds, perhaps a bit more.

Then shit got weird. From out of her body, her father Baphomet exploded! He cursed us with all manner of expletives and promised that we had earned the attention and anger of another powerful being or beings — I can’t remember now.

Again, we thought we were doomed, for this was a demon lord, but we readied our attacks. Then, the voice of Nocticula rang out. She seemed almost giddy that Baphomet had taken the bait and entered her realm in the flesh. It had been her plan all along to use our efforts (and triumph over Hepzamirah) to lure the great Minotaur into her domain. Using some sort of unseen supernatural power, she obliterated Baphoment in a burst of fur, and blood and horns. It was terrifying… and magnificent. I was proud to be her servant at that moment.

After the rush of battle receded, Locke and Barca decided we should liberate the crusaders who had been tortured and kept as fuel for sacrifices. I thought it was a waste of time, since they seemed pretty close to death and would probably just hinder our escape.

Now, I see that that was the influence of Nocticula on my thoughts, but at the time it seemed reasonable.

Nocticula opened up a portal to Golarion and we took the crusaders and ourselves through it to the Midnight Fain.

I used the Imago lens to contact first the old necromancer we had redeemed and then tried to find Arushalae in Galfrey’s castle, but it had been destroyed. Eventually we made contact with her minions and they were able to teleport to us and take us all to somewhere in Numeria.

There we had a somewhat tense (at least between me and Galfrey’s paladins) reunion where we reported on our success and reunited with Barca’s friends from Promise.

And then we had our mystical, magical, AWESOME, encounter with Iomedae which I still have to discuss with my friends. Something has changed within me, but I don’t yet know what it means. Perhaps my friends will know.

In the meantime, I hope we have time to rest and procure gear for the next foray into the Abyss. We have brought back much treasure from Hepzamirah’s room, but I don’t know if we have time yet to use it.

But we have a new mission, and I feel like I have a new lease on this life for now. Perhaps there is a way to save my soul, perhaps not, but I will use what time and free will I have left as well as I can.

Mo life, mo problems

This room; I am in a room?
There isn’t a single scar on my body. Is this still my body?
Tryna, Locke, they too are here and in seemingly perfect health, but Riva…
No time. If we are alive, we have a new opportunity to save Golarion, and we must take it!

Nocticula, so no, we are not as clean as we look, but I accept this darkness, this layer of scum floating on a serene and otherwise pure body of water.
We must succeed.
Nothing else matters.

Alive again
Trynna's Journal 12

But for the power and self-interest of Our Lady in Shadow — the mighty demon lord Nocticula — myself, Locke, and Barca would be dead along with the hope for Golarion to seal the Worldwound and avoid global catastrophe.

The last thing I remembered was the searing pain as I sunk into the magma in Shamira’s throne room.Then, as if an instant later but also as if after an eternity, I awoke on a firm but pillowed table in a muslin draped chamber. My body felt AMAZING. All wounds, scars, and blemishes as well as the crushing fatigue and despair had been expunged from my flesh and spirit. Though disoriented, I also felt at peace. Strong. Rested.

And then I noticed the succubi assistants moving quietly and gracefully around the room, busy with tasks and then when they saw I stirred, moving to minister to me. I scanned the room for clothing to cover my nakedness but none was there save a soft white robe. Neither my cold iron blade nor any of my gear was anywhere in sight.

I saw Barca beyond a gauzy curtain, also waking up on a massage table. And on the other side of him, in yet another curtained chamber was Locke. We met in Barca’s section and whispered to each other of our recollection of events and our guesses as to what was now happening. We only had the briefest time to mourn Riva, who clearly had not been saved from a fiery doom, before we learned that we were in the care of the patron demon of assassins, darkness, and lust. And when we had gathered our wits and reaffirmed our commitment to accepting whatever would come next in order to continue our noble fight, we were lead to Nocticula herself.

As we approached, an almost overwhelming lust washed over me and my companions in wave after building wave. To stand in her presence was excruciatingly difficult. All I wanted to do was throw myself into her arms and taste the pleasures of her flesh…and be tasted. I could see Barca and Locke struggling with similar urges. Quite astonishing, really, to feel so powerless against that type of energy.

As he did before Shamira slew us, Barca again spoke for our group answering Nocticula’s gentle questioning with direct honesty. It was not news to her that the Nahyndrian crystals were being mined without her permission, and she didn’t betray much emotion of any kind regarding Minagho, Hepzamirah, or any of the other major players. But she agreed to let us attempt to disrupt or destroy the mining operation and claimed from each of us our word that when the time came, she would ask each of us for a favor, and we would be bound to comply.

We all accepted, and both Barca and I went so far as to indulge in her blessing, administered by a surprisingly simple kiss. The power I felt after that kiss was astounding — making what I had been given by Arushalae feel almost insignificant. I could tell that both my agility and my stamina had been boosted significantly, and I felt like I could now got blade-to-talon with even the mightiest of beasts! And, incredibly, I also knew that I could now see in the dark — even magical darkness! One of my biggest weakness erased with but a peck from the great lord’s lips. Astounding. If I ever wanted to be an assassin myself, I certainly now would be much better suited for it.

We were teleported to the the densely jungled island of Colyphr where the mining operation was being run, but had no map or thought of were to go next. What we saw immediately upon arrival was a giant obelisk with the markings of the Klippoth being practically caressed by the tentacles of some giant mostly unseen creature. Very unsettling but, honestly, not as unsettling as when the mythic sorcerer Atepna — yes, the powerful evoker among the fallen Heroes of Kenabres — came strolling around the obelisk, apparently studying it. She saw us and started to cast, but quick thinking Barca hailed her as if we were her long lost acquaintances just hoping for a quick chat and some directions.

Incredibly, she did not vaporize us on the spot, which I found most comforting having been melted only a week or so before. Atepna asked us what we were doing here; Barca told her; and she pointed us in the general direction of the mine. Surreal to say the least.

It was at that moment, however, that a headless biped wielding a great sword flew down from the sky to attack us. Barca, brave fool that he is, completely forgot our standard tactics and flew up into the sky to engage the foe on his own. Why, when the creature had no ranged weapon, Barca would do this, I can’t say, but I’ll chalk it up to having been recently killed by one demon then raised from the dead and kissed by another. In any case, Barca was cut to pieces and falling from the sky by the time I could join the battle. Locke, apparently having lost HIS wits, rushed to join us and instead ended up right in the grasp of a giant tentacle which practically squeezed the life out of him!

I managed to finish off the sword wielding foe and then rushed to the ground to administer magical healing to my headstrong Mwangi friend and then tended to Locke.

Idiots, the both of them. But I still love them, of course. We need to get our shit together now that it’s just the three of us, though. Find our combat rhythm and fast!

What followed was a harrowing journey through the jungle where I almost became liquified after being engulfed by an acidic ooze sweeping across the ground with blistering speed. I barely managed to escape, and the three of us continued in the air following a river upstream until we reached a barge grounded in the middle of the water.

It was manned by five bodaks and a grave knight who we managed to kill (though not permanently, since the knight’s body plunged into the river and washed downstream). Locke picked off the bodaks with his arrows and we rested in the barge after discovering the knight’s journal, personal affects, and a fully charged Staff of Healing. Turns out the knights had been Kestoglyr from the Order of the Burning Fist, but he had been turned by Baphomet and his man transformed into the bodaks, all of whom then manned the barge transporting Nahyndrian crystals from the mine upriver. Eventually, however, the barge was replaced by faster means of transport, and the knight and his men abandoned.

From Kestoglyr’s journal we learned that there is a gate in the river protecting the mining operation that is 20’ tall with 20’ under the water and guarded by 2-4 human guards and 2 Hezrou under the water by the gate as well as Omox demons (of living slime) also in the water. Beyond that, the mine would be carved deep into the mountain and some sort of “shit” demon who calls herself a “queen” shares a cavern with a massively old umbral dragon.

So that’s all ahead of us.

May Our Lady in Shadow grant me the skill to kill what is necessary, and may the great drinker provide libations for me and my companions to celebrate our triumph thereafter. And may all our souls survive this madness, chaos, and confusion along the way.

Don't fear the Reaper
Barca's Log - Abyssal - 5

We are out of options.
We have missed or squandered our last opportunities to gain enough noteriety to get an audience with Nocticulla.
Galfrey says we are on the brink. Every day we don’t succeed more die.
The demons are winning.

What is left?
We are in a sorry state; Locke has lost his blessings from Iomedae, and even after his atonement, her Herald refused to allow his gifted powers to return; Tryna seems to have recovered from her madness, but I worry our failures and those weeks of distrust have rocked her confidence; and Riva, I am most worried about her. She is not much older than me, and we were still children not more than a few years ago, yet we have regularly looked to her for guidance and leadership these last months. I worry this burden has begun to weigh on her, and she has not been the same since we entered the Abyss. I worry the price we will have to pay to keep hope alive may be to much for her, she has sacrificed much already.

Time has run out, there is only one last dark avenue for us to explore, and I don’t have confidence it will even work, but we have to try; I have to try. We must beg for the favor of Shyamarra, no matter the cost. Only she can grant us audience with Nocticulla now.

The plaza in front of Shyamarra’s Hall is enormous, and filled with other petitioners. I feel like I am moving in slow motion to the gallows, but we somehow get noticed and invited into her Hall.

The inside is more intimidating than the outside as we see the flame haired succubus floating above a pool of lava. I cringe reflexively before I can stop myself, remembering my last encounter with fiery molten earth.
Shyamarra, curious as to what this odd collection of individuals wasting her time could possibly want, demands to know why we have disturbed her.
There is no bluffing or bargaining with this being. Our only choice is to accept whatever price we must pay, or to give up and await the end. There is a pause among the group, I step forward, palms open by my sides, and speak the truth.

Surprisingly, Shyamarra doesn’t immediately kill us, but rather makes us an offer. We have to make a decision that could forever taint us, but sometimes a sacrifice had to be made to save what you hold most dear.
I don’t even take time to comprehend and consider the real cost of this deal, and voice my acceptance.
In a fog of anguish and determination I await my fate, our fate. Another voice echos my own, then another…

Shyamarra sneers and raises her fiery bow, shooting multiple arrows in rapid succession past my head. I turn as if in a dream, a nightmare, and see the glow of magic fading from Riva’s hands as she falls back to the stone floor, arrows rising from her chest like miniature flag poles.
A rage like I have never felt fills my heart, and the world turns red. The heat from the rage inside me feels like it could burn the world, but another heat flows and crushes me from the outside. All is fire. I’m sorry Mama.

Fire and Fury and Dying
Trynna's Journal 11

Damn you, Riva!

You’re dead, Barca is dead, Locke is dead, and now I die.

And as we do, so will Golarion!

How could you have been so selfish that you thought your precious morality or brief seconds more with your family was worth more than all the souls of the world who deserved our commitment and sacrifice?!

If there is an afterlife in which I have any consciousness, it will be very hard to forgive you you beautiful tragic fractured woman! I loved you and the two brave men in our party more than anyone else in the world. The despair and madness afflicting me over the past weeks had only just been lifted, and I saw again as clear as through still water how dedicated I was to all of you and, I thought, were you all to me.

But that cannot have been true for you if you couldn’t see the necessity of a deal with Shyamarra! Do you think I, or Barca, or Locke — for Iomedae’s sake! — didn’t understand what we were sacrificing? Did you not understand what the sacrifice was for? I have to believe that you weren’t thinking clearly to have betrayed the rest of us so, and betrayed all of Golarion. It was obvious that our and humanity’s ONLY hope of surviving was for us four to stay united and do whatever it took to seal the Worldwound! Certainly at the cost of our pride, and even at the cost of our souls.

It’s been clear to me for weeks that our souls could possibly be the final payment to make, the final Harrow card to draw and wield. I thought we ALL got that. Did you really think the nascent demon lord would let the rest of live if you escaped? That’s insanity. And if you didn’t think that, then I misjudged your judgment and your friendship — for you would have known that your fleeing would result in the rest of our deaths. And you were okay with leaving us there, all of us knowing that?

We have made egregious mistakes in judgment, strategy, or tactics many times over, but I had thought it was clear what the final stakes were and what might ultimately be the final cost.

Perhaps that is how the Heroes of Kenebres fell — ends justifying the means — but I don’t think so. None of us four quested for the power or knowledge which seduced our predecessors. Our only hope and effort was in closing the Abyssal rift threatening all.

Now it all burns so hot.

All burns out.

All —

A strand of Hope
Locke’s Journal

When I felt Iomedae’s grace fade from me, I thought it was all over. I felt so hopeless, so alone. The last light of hope I had, flickered in the darkness. How could she abandon me when I needed her most!? I had always remained faithful and vigilant, yet she abandoned me in my time of need. In her absence, I was left with Nocticulla’s temptation .

Alas, I was wrong. I am not alone. My friends, my companions, Trynna, Barca, Riva, they never left my side. Even when I turned on them, they never gave up on me. It was their voices that cut through the darkness. They are my strand of hope. Their faith in me even ,when I had none in myself , drives me to push on.

By the grace of Riva’s abilities, we were able to leave the abyss for a little bit . After navigating our way back to the material plane on Golarion, my companions got me the help that IMy mind feels much clearer, my heart, less heavy. A great burden has been lifted from me.

I prayed and sought redemption from the Inheritor herself. I saw her smile upon me but her Herald intervened. It is not my time yet . Perhaps when I prove myself, Iomedae’s grace with ko return to me. Until then, I must continue forward with my companions and put an end to this abyssal mess.

Club Sechabo, a family business
Barca's Log - Abyssal - 4

No no no no no…
It was all a lie.
Everything was a lie!
This unknown woman in my visions and in this club is my real mother?!
Who was the woman I talked to months ago in my dreams before these other, I guess REAL visions started, she said she was proud of me, and told me about my heritage, and told me…my tribe was gone.
But that wasn’t my mother, my real mother was betrayed, my real tribe was betrayed…by my mother’s grandfather. I was to be the final sacrifice, but I was saved.
This club…this club is truly family now, not just an heirloom. I will go back to my people one day, after this wound on the world is sealed, and set the record straight. I will rid OUR LANDS of demons, and crack open that giant ape’s skull with this very club!…and I will find a way to help you mama, and while you are with me you will not go hungry.


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