Dusk Riders of Chondath

Pt. 33 - Crimson Chamber of the Minotaurs

As the Dusk Riders continued their search throughout the Well of Demons, they found a barracks and carefully entered the area. Inside, the Riders came across two Tieflings resting and eating provisions. Equally surprised by the other’s presence, the two groups warily questioned each others in order to check for ill intent. Banner led the interrogation on behalf of the The Dusk Riders and questioned the Tieflings about how they reached this location and why they were here. The Tieflings claimed that they were mere adventurers exploring the Underdark. The Tieflings were adamant that they sought the party no ill and then requested to leave without bloodshed. Confident that the Tieflings were what they claimed, the Riders let the Tieflings pass and then explored further. Shortly after, The Dusk Riders discovered large doors that were obviously the entrance into a shrine to Baphomet. The Dusk Riders burst in and surprised an orange hewed demon that shrieked out a war prayer to Yeenoghu before attacking. The palpable evil in the air was no deterrent to the Dusk Riders and they immediately joined the fight. As the Riders introduced the Demon to their cold steel and the Demon’s own blood, a Gnoll Demonic Sourge suddenly joined the battle and brought a cowardly attack from the rear. Despite having the element of surprise, the Riders delivered the wrath of Chondath and sent the two beast back to their wretched makers.

The Riders then found a new chamber to explore, The area stank of fear and sacrifice, but it was the multiple stains on the floor that spoke most towards the atrocities committed within these halls. Carefully, the Dusk Riders proceeded further into the halls to a point where a sudden chill filled the area and the Riders could suddenly see their breath and hear their own hearts. “What fools dare walk these halls,” thundered a disembodied voice. As the Riders looked for the source of the voice, three apparitions appeared. Each specter carried themselves with in a regal manner, but occasionally their forms would flicker and suddenly offer a glimpse of their death expression. THe three ghosts demanded to know why the Dusk Riders had entered this area and why would they be so foolish as to expect to depart ever again. The Riders did their best to explain their goals within the Well, but the haunts did not believe them. In fact, so convinced were the spirits that the Riders were actually looters, the specters dissipated with a cruel prediction that the Riders would soon be joining them soon.

The Riders continued their search for the mysterious Well of Demons. Shortly after, the Dusk Riders found an arcane circle within an altar chamber. The Riders continued their search and soon after discovered a large room filled with mirrors. Fearing an unholy intent, the Riders proceeded deeper into the room while trying to avoid gazing into the mirrors. Despite their best efforts, Baern and Banner caught the gaze in the mirror and were made physically ill as they were teleported to another mirrored pillar within the room. Both were momentarily disoriented, but quickly regained their bearings and rejoined the other Riders. Shielding their eyes, the Riders made their way to a large curtain and pulled it back. Suddenly, the Riders were set upon by Boneshard Skeletons. The Skeletons savaged the Riders, but the Riders were quickly able to regain their composure and begin shattering the Skeletons. As if the skeletal rampage was not enough, when the Boneshard Skeletons were severely damaged, they would spray the area with tiny sharp fragments of bone and, worse yet, repeat this horrid storm when destroyed. Once the battle had ended, Banner discovered the black wooden Face of Baphomet – a mask that could be worn.

After a short rest, the Riders made their way back through the mirrored hall while doing their best not to gaze at any mirror. The Riders returned to where they were questioned by the spirits and found a small room in which to secure the door and rest. As the Riders tried to rest and regain their advantage, their antechamber was burst open and a Minor Demon – an actual emissary of Demogorgon appeared in the door. This profane and vile beast wished not to attack the Riders, but instead proposition them. The hellish terror offered to answer three questions for the price of a thousand gold. Disgusted at the notion of imparting a single coin into the palm of this travesty, Horatio brilliantly intimated the Quasit, forced it to cower and then scared it off – a monumental achievement given that this thing answered to Demogorgon itself. As the Quasit flew away, it’s deep fear quickly evolved into glee from the delicious notion of the Riders pillaging this chamber of Baphomut and Yeenoghu. As it left the area, the Demon called out “Continue your defiling of this chamber fleshlings…these actions please Demogorgon much…”

The Riders were finally able to complete their rest and collected themselves so that they could move on. After finding another door, the Riders discovered an enormous chamber filled with blood. In the middle of the chamber, two huge minotaur statues holding whips stood high above the crimson pools. The Riders nervously exchanged glances before Banner realized what must be done. Gaining a running start, Banner was able to leap the expanse and land on a pedestal containing a minotaur statue. Inexplicably curious in the presence of the bizarre, Baern dipped his foot into the blood. This minor gesture suddenly triggered the closest minotaur statue to animate and whirl into a slashing whip storm. Despite his hulking form, the power of the Minotaur Statue’s motion knocked Munn prone. Recognizing a need to act fast, Banner leapt across the blood from the near statue and landed upon a walkway that cut across the center of the room. Hoping to catch his breath, Banner was unnerved by the fact that standing upon the center walkway was triggering the same reaction as Baern’s earlier experiment. Both Minotaur Statues now whirled in a deadly fury and nearly knocked Banner into the blood pool. Unable to prepare, Banner rushed his jump and failed to cross the expanse and tumbled into the blood. Immediately upon becoming immersed, Banner began immediately suffered a toxic effect. Banner did his best to ignore the mounting sickness and make his way through the blood, but Banner was no alone in the pool. A demon, hidden in the blood, attacked Banner and raked Banner’s spine with its claws. Turning a blind eye to the attacks, Banner was finally able to climb up on the platform that had, high above, the hilt to the blade mentioned previously when the Riders first entered the Well of Demons. While Banner momentarily rested, hilt in hand, as Munn and Horatio attempted to disable one of the statues, but in their clumsy attempt, the statue whirled its horrific dance and knocked Horatio prone from the impact of the blow. Not wanting his fellow Riders injured, Banner bravely took to his feet and urged the others to quickly leave the room and risk no further damage. Banner then deftly used his rope to lasso the statue holding the naked blade and climb towards it. Fatigued from the near endless assault, Banner tried to make the crossing towards the blade, but fell into the blood and was immediately set upon by a submerged demon. Again, Banner let none of the pain or illness he was suffering stall him for even a second. Instead, Banner climbed out of the blood and onto the final statue platform. Banner then dashingly leapt over to the blade and collected it. As soon as Banner connected the two pieces, an energy field hit engulfed Banner and knocked him into the sickening pool of blood. Banner waded through the grisly morass until reaching the stairs in the center. Sadly, as soon as Banner rested a foot upon the stairs, a Minotaur Statue knocked him senseless into the blood again. Not able to watch the suffering of his trusted brother any longer, Baern then entered the room in order to provide some distanced healing. Recognizing the need, Horatio reentered the room and threw a rope right next to Banner. Despite his heroic intent, Horatio was not able stand strong for long as, Banner’s position in the blood triggered the statue to strike and thereby causing Horatio to be knocked into the blood. Horatio spit the foul fluid from his mouth, collected the rope Banner held and dragged Banner to safety outside of the blood pool. Before extricating themselves, poor Banner was again harassed by another demon, but finally, Banner was triumphant and the Riders could depart the room.

Comments

Wow, that Banner… he’s my hero!

 

I agree that this episode certainly does make one forget the whole, “I’m not going to sleep in my armor” moment from Season One…

 
Stichey

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