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.