Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Farewell my friend

My dear friend Auctus,

I write this letter on the likely eve of my death, but do not weep, fore if we are successful in our task, all of Golarion will be saved, and is that not cause for celebration?
I thank you, my closest friend, for all of your guidance and support these many years, both in our days in Promise, and during the struggle we have been fighting since arriving in this blasted land, so far away. I ask one final favor of you, seek out my tribe, the people of my mother, and tell them of my journey. If my club can be recovered, return it to them, after you have satisfied your own curiosity in studying of course.

Good bye my friend, live well,

Barca Sechabo, Child of Mwangi, Exile of Promise, Knight of the 5th Crusade, and Martyr of Golarion

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Letter to Trynna’s Father

Dearest father,

This message is for both you and mother, delivered only by the grace and love of Iomedae whom I served as faithfully as I could over the last few weeks of my life.

I am sorry for abandoning you and mother. I had to leave, to find my own way in the world, but it must have caused both of you pain, sadness, even anger.

I traveled far and wide, experienced the depths of pain and depravity, and the heights of exaltation and redemption. I made friends worthy of eternal respect and love. And I did my best to learn the lessons of sacrifice and commitment that were necessary to save those I loved along with those I would never meet.

Please know that I never stopped loving or missing you and that I fully intended to return home one day to share with you whom I had become. Alas, that was not my fate.

I hope you will think of me with fondness rather than anger or sadness, but I cannot control that.

I wish you both health, happiness, and the rewarding feeling of service and commitment until the end of your days and beyond. I hope to experience your love again if that possibility exists in the afterlife.

Your loving daughter,
Trynna

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Locke’s Letter to Riva

Dear Riva,

If you are reading this letter, then perhaps Golarion has been saved and the Worldwound has been closed. If you are reading this letter , then it also means that Barca, Trynna, and I have passed from Mortal Life for the greater good of all mankind. I do not know that if in death we shall cross paths again so I am writing this letter to you to let you know that we could not have come so far if it were not for you. We were sad the to be separated from you and saddened even more when you chose not to be resurrected. You like all of us, have suffered much while bearing the burden of saving mankind. But I cannot begin to imagine the turmoil and suffering placed upon your psyche, much less your soul by the spirits that haunt you. I only hope that your soul is able to find some small measure of peace. Maybe one day, You, Barca, Trynna, and I will be reunited.

-Sir Locke Truestrike, Hand of the Inheritor

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Plane Shifting
Trynna's Journal 14

Saved by Nocticula again.

But then a vision of her bargaining with (manipulating?) Queen Galfrey and our friends?

I feel so far out of my league. But Iomedae put her trust in us — in me! — so we must be on the course that is true.

Will all of us make it to the end? What will happen at the end? I am trying not to think of the debt I owe, but seeing her again is a cold reminder of a dark eternal future.

Iomedae, give me the wisdom to accept or counter my fate, whatever it may be! And if there is a chance for a full redemption wherein my soul can serve you rather than Our Lady of Shadows, let grant me the strength and resolve to make that happen!

I am glad we save the Herald and avoided a substantial amount of conflict in the process. There is too much at stake to fight every possible battle. The end of the war is in sight, and there will be evil ones who will escape Justice if we reach it. That is the way of the Universe, so it should not be surprising, even if it is disheartening. All who should pay, will not, and many who shouldn’t, in fact, will.

Survive. Protect my friends. Close the Worldwound.

That is what should be in my mind, eternal soul notwithstanding.

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Heart of the Herald

We found the exact location of the Herald. It seemed almost too good to be true. I know little about the arcane arts so I am always nervous that we’ll end up in some obscure location or precarious predicament. We teleported right in to the chamber of Herald with his heart in hand. We were sure to atone the heart itself first. However, the Herald was alerted immediately to our presence and so a battle ensued. We outnumbered the Herald but soon enough , the Warden showed up, a Lilithu. By the grace of Iomedae, our Lay on Hands kept us alive while we waged war with the corrupted Herald and Warden.

We came out victorious. We took the newly atoned heart and placed it back into the chest of The Herald. We cast out last atonement spell in hopes of bringing the Herald back into the Light.

Nothing is ever that easy though, soon Baphomet appeared before us but now even more powerful and within his own realm. Strangely enough, Nocticula appeared before us again to take on Baphomet while we escaped. To think that we have a Demon Lord, the lady of the Night, as an Ally against Baphomet. I wonder how Iomedae feels about our ties to Nocticula?
Nocticula provided enough distraction for us to use the Stole of The Inheritor to Plane Shift us out. Nocticula now faces Baphomet in his realm, I wonder if she will prevail or if she joust wanted to provide us a means to escape? Where do we go from here? WE have to close the worldwound and end this madness.

-Sir Locke Truestrike

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Hark, the Herald tried to kill us

I think devil’s must be easier to deal with than demons, or maybe we just got lucky. The devil we freed from Baphamet’s vile prison actually helps up his end of our agreement and gave us a means to anyone find those we are looking for. Not do lucky as to get directions directly to the Herald, but we could find the cleric, or the warden and go from there.
The devil’s directions led us to the cell of Waxberry the cleric, but she was already gone, leaving behind a puddle of blood on the floor and the gist of a strange woman.
The spirit was the wife of the antipaladin, whose journals we found, and we were able to convince her to help us find Waxberry.
A battle ensued and Waxberry was killed, but we collected her remains in hope of a later resurrection spell, and somehow we managed to teleport directly to the cell of the Herald. He was not happy to see us…
Having been corrupted by Baphamet, the Hersld tried to kill us as we tried to weaken him enough, without looking him, so as to replace his heart.
This battle rages to the ragged edge, and the Warden, alerted to our presence, joins the fight as well. On the brink of death we manage to stay the Warden and replace the Herald’s hear, but or victory is short lived as Baphamet himself appears darkening the room with his mere presence. I was she we were dead, but Tryna called out to Nocticulla and amazingly, she appeared, at least long enough to distract Baphamet and allow Locke to teleport us back to Golarion.
I don’t know how we are still alive, but we will keep moving forward, I will keep fighting, until the Worldwound is closed or my heart no longer beats.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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