PCs: Toad, Saad, Urisk, Xeal, Ginko
Ring of NPC: Nazareth, Garnidelia, Jack of Spades
20th-21st of Phara, 179th Year of the Goddess
11 days left til Iomedaea
Having handily slaughtered the population of Casta, the party decided that they had best move quickly to prepare Toad as best they could for his “date”. Grabbing the town’s horses, they galloped the four hours ride to Huxton, where Toad had previously spotted a small chapel. Their ride was painful for some members of the party who developed riding sores from the cheap saddles, but otherwise uneventful.
The group arrived in Huxton at around 10 in the evening, riding into town quietly and without fuss. The village was quiet, with most of the villagers being in their homes and settling down for the night and only a few stragglers making their way in from the fields. It was the chapel that was of most interest to the party, however, and those in the party with keen eyes and ears quickly realised that it was occupied by some of the faithful engaging in a late service.
Urisk immediately volunteered to sneak up and get a closer look, stealthily making his way to the door of the chapel and peering inside. In the chapel were five armoured individuals in prayer with the heraldry of an eagle on their tabards- Urisk identified these as Knights of Egalite, likely here to collect the offering of grain from the village to take back to Iomedaea. Unwilling to face the odds of an even fight, the group quickly threw together a plan of deception centered around their newest member.
With a Hat of Disguise activated to hide his Mask of Stony Demeanor, Xeal burst into the chapel, faking exhaustion, terror and panic. The cleric quickly moved to comfort him, and Xeal spun a realistic tale of death and destruction in Casta with such artistry that two of the Knights immediately rode off to investigate. The half-orc cleric introduced himself as Father Gregory, and did his best to comfort the weeping Xeal while the other two paladins standing awkwardly to one side.
Having succeeded in bettering the odds, the group made preparations to storm the chapel in force, Saad summoning his ghostly pirates and Toad making ready to summon his hell hounds. Urisk quickly checked for any extra entrances, deciding that entry from the bell tower would be the best way to get in (natural 1 for perception). He managed to maintain his stealth, however, quietly slipping down the tower without sounding the alarm to the whole town.
With everyone in place, Saad directed his ghosts to go first, the surprised paladins quickly being subjected to multiple attacks from all directions. Urisk joined the fray, twin short swords striking deep into the gnome paladin and drawing a grunt of pain from him.
Meanwhile, a solitary figure rode into town on horseback, looking for shelter for the night at the chapel. Toad, standing at the chapel doors, quickly lied to the stranger, saying that the house across from the chapel was a tavern and that the chapel was not friendly to strangers. Believing him, the elf tied up his horse and strode across to the house, ready to be received warmly and instead being greeted by a half-asleep and slightly grumpy villager. Realising at this point that he had been deceived, the elf turned back to see Toad slip into the church, and the door close solidly behind him.
Inside the church, the combined force of ten or so creatures bearing down on the paladins quickly brought them down- the human was the first to fall, falling unconscious to a shocking grasp from Xeal then ripped into pieces by the hell hounds, and the gnome falling to Urisk’s blades. Saad took a little time in grappling with the cleric but was able to easily subdue him once enlarged by Toad’s spells. As the combat wound up Saad secured Father Gregory with the Rape Shackles while Urisk and Xeal did their best to loot the chapel (there was, unfortunately for them, little to find).
It was then that the door blew in with explosive force and flames, making Toad leap forward for cover. The elf outside had quickly grown impatient with the situation, and chosen to fire an alchemical grenade at the doors to remove the obstacle. As the majority of the party stared with horror at this stranger who had just destroyed any chance of their being subtle, Xeal chose to speak up and try to convince the elf that he had just intruded on a normal church service. Being successful in the lie, the elf was convinced, but indicated that he didn’t really care.
Before things could descend into combat once more, a familiar brown-robed figure walked into the chapel, clapping slowly as he did so. Saad and Toad quickly recognised this as Emmett, and demanded to know what he was doing here. Being cryptic as usual, he introduced the elf as Ginko, and said that he would be joining the group on the way to Iomedaea. This was (unsurprisingly) met with negative reactions, the group protesting that Ginko had likely spoiled their plans of subterfuge with a large and conspicuous explosion. Emmett offered to deal with this, however, and swept off into the night to attend to the villagers.
Shrugging off the odd circumstances, the group got to work preparing for Esveralda. Toad was handily aware of the appropriate rituals as a priest of Asmodeus, and set out a summoning circle of blood, three skulls (one having to be obtained from the graveyard, the other two being ripped from the dead paladins’ corpses) and a variety of small cutting instruments.
Esveralda made her appearance at midnight, being met at the door by Toad and led by hand to the sacrifice. The next three hours were a gory nightmare of violence and pain for Father Gregory as Esveralda took great pleasure in slowly escalating the torture she performed. Between strewing the priest’s intestines around the room, she offered Toad a kidney, which he unwillingly took a few mouthfuls of, marking his first taste of cannibalism.
Overall, the “date” went without a hitch- the erinyes sat with Toad on the altar beside the remains of the cleric and had a quiet chat about how things would pan out from here. The important points of the conversation included:
- Esveralda is trapped on the Material Plane until Toad dies. She doesn’t seem to mind being stuck here, but did say that she would need certain pursuits to occupy her
- Any creature summoned from a Book of Hell will attempt to kill you, regardless of what it may say to the contrary
- Despite a long and unnatural life, she was unaware of the List and what it might mean
After what was an amicable conversation, Esveralda kissed Toad goodbye, and left him thankful that he had avoided her wrath once more. With that particular danger unlikely to surface again for now, the party now has a sermon to prepare for in a few hours time…