After dispatching the last group of possessed guards, we came to the Keeper’s hall. Before us were doors too heavy to force open with no discernible latches or handles. My witchfire acid made short work of the doors, but we were too late.
On the floor lay the fragile body of a young girl, too young for the burden of the church, and far too young for death. Around the room were all manner of creatures, including some creature pretending to be the queen. I could see the illusion magic wrapped around its form, but still, I confirmed the queen’s presence with Arorra. Our enemies were not few in number: shadow demons, demons whose appearance were akin to birds of prey, a boar-headed demon, priests, and blue-gray demons wielding fiery swords. Most were spread throughout the room, but the priests surrounded the hierophants, and among them I could see Thokishtay, cut and bruised.
Lukar was the first to gather his wits, calling upon what I suspected was a birthmark ability, which summoned undead. While our enemies made short work of the ghouls and ghast, I’m glad they absorbed the hits for us. Then the 5 shadow demons cast shadow fireballs at our group, and Gilroy’s aura of resistance saved all but Arius and I. Even still, Arius’s will was too much for him to believe in such illusions, as was mine. Seeing the failures of the shadow demons, the bird demons stopped their manical dancing and screeched, stunning Lukar, giving the “queen” an opportunity to say: “If you do not leave this place we will be forced to kill all of them.” In response I shouted “PRETENDER” and cast summon swarm to gather the necessary power to summon the 3 sisters. During my casting, the boar demon tried feebleminding me, but my strength of will, bolstered by Gilroy’s grace helped me shrug it off. Arius used sensory cascade on the vrocks, overwhelming their senses as he recalled knowledge for each creature in the room. Gilroy channeled, healing many of us, floated his shield in front of him, and then lit in a golden fire as he called upon his pact to smite evil. The boar demon was his target.
The shadow demons tried their luck at possessing someone, probably Lukar, as he was still stunned by the Vrocks. They were not successful, as his mind was protected from evil. Braun moved with me, readying himself to attack, as two vrocks broke through the sensory cascade and attack Gilroy and Lukar. The blue-gray demons spewed boiling blood onto the hierophants as the queen moved to pick up the keeper’s body. Just then, I felt the power of nature flow through me as I called Sinlay, Mindolin, and Sandara. They appeared with looks of disgust upon their faces, struggling to see me through the crowd of enemies. They began striking the boar demon, but its hide proved resistant to their attacks. I moved into the room next to them, the Vrocks attacks passing through my stardust form. Then the nalfeshnee tried dispelling me, but the dust form again protected me from its power. Sensing the urgency of the situation, Arius assaulted the “queen” with his power, and disintegrated her, saving the keeper from what I assume is a fate worse than death. Jayden, struggling to decide his best course of action, summoned a wall of blinding light around the hierophants, protecting them, but also blinding them. And while the light was bright and beautiful, it paled in comparison to the radiance Gilroy began to emanate as he turned into an aspect of the heavens. The wall of light and Gilroy’s transformation scared the priests into moving away and turning invisible.
Though stunned, Lukar activated another family power: death ward, as the shadow demons fled from the room. Braun came to my side again, preparing to assist the sisters and Gilroy, as Captain Malik came in through the hallway. He looked tired, angry, distressed, changed, covered in black flame. “You killed her!?” pointing to Gilroy with his great sword, calling upon his own malevolent pact. Sensing the additional danger, Gilroy spread his holy light out to the sisters, giving them holy power to dispatch the nalfeshnee. I tried holding Malik in place, empowering it with my crown, but his will was too strong, like an evil version of Gilroy. Arius whipped egos while Jayden created a fire storm, burning almost every enemy remaining the chamber. Then, Gilroy ran forward and jumped into the Flame.
I’m not certain if Gilroy has shared everything that happened with us, but I know his faith was confirmed that day, and nothing will break it now. I think he saved the Flame, and I think he saved the rest of us. An instant later, he returned and all the fires in the room changed to a golden hue. And much to his relief, Gilroy called out for his companion, Valefor, and in a rush of golden fire and scintillating scales, he appeared, announcing his greater strength with not only a verbal statement, but a flame strike. Guards tried to attack Valefor, but they fail, while Malik attacks Gilroy and almost kills him. I pierced the magical resistance of Malik, lowering it for the others, but failed to do the same on the nalfeshnee. Taking advantage of his lower resistance, Arius inflicted pain on Malik, and then brutalized his wounds. Ifreet, who Arius summoned seconds earlier, created a river of flame through the seven blue-gray demons, killing all but one. Jayden cast banishment, return two vrock from whence they came. Gilroy called upon the golden flame to smite Malik, but Malik struck a mighty blow, killing GIlroy.
Lukar studied new targets to attack as Dazen asked that he help Gilroy, who was brought back to life by Valefor, who announced “I will bring him back as many times as it takes to put you down”. Braun moved up next to Malik, in preparation to fight with the sisters and Gilroy. But again, Malik smites Gilroy and kills him, though Valefor, true to his word, brings him back. Frustrated and scared, I tried sending Malik into the beyond, but he resisted, however, Arius took advantage of the distraction and used dissipating touch on Malik, killing him once and for all.
With the battle over, healing energy poured over the room from Gilroy, Dazen, and the hierophants, and just then, golden flame erupted around Thokishtay. Apparently the flame, like Gilroy, has matured, and decided a grown woman was a better choice for the role of Keeper.
Once the deceased keeper’s body was put to rest, her body burned in golden fire, bursting to life again as a phoenix sprang from her ashes. The phoenix’s voice was that of a child, and she asked politely if she could join with “Mr. Arius”. I haven’t seen Arius smile much in the time I’ve known him, but at the question, he grinned. Thokistay informed Gilroy that should he have need of it, the power of the Golden Flame will join with him. I suspect it will give him the level of abilities I receive when I called upon the Green Mother. And she also tells him that the knights of old will come to his aid if he calls on them. Obviously pleased, Gilroy too was smiling as she announced his new title.
In private, Thokishtay asked us our thoughts on the politics of Thrane. Should it be run by the Church, or the royal family? Or something else? I know my feelings… we’ll see what the others have to say.