Common Year 579

21. Planewalker

From 10 to 12 Wealsun, 579 CY

The party decided to sleep on the roof of the temple rather than risk whatever else might be lurking inside. During the night, Father Dominco received a visitation from Purge, the second emanation of the thought of Rao, with a great deal of accompanying thunder and lightning. (This is in contrast to Prayer, the first emanation, an overall gentler sort of being, with whom Dom had been dealing thus far.) Dom received an upgrade to his holy symbol for his adherence to the Raoist doctrine, and Hessa received a warning about the sword Blackrazor. If she were to let it, Purge said, it might one day lead her beyond the bounds of this earth.

Exploration of the temple resumed in the morning, but the party discovered little besides pits, collapsed rooms, unstable walls, and debris. Some orcs were present, but not in overwhelming numbers, and they seemed to know very little about the temple, except that the grounds had been rededicated to the worship of the one-eyed orc-god Gruumsh. One group of orcs had been infiltrated by a doppelganger for unknown reasons. A second group had been defiling holy symbols for days, acting on orders from “the boss,” but without knowing why.

Behind a recently fortified wall, the party found an inner courtyard filled with eerie statuary — victims, no doubt, of a basilisk’s gaze. Blackrazor informed Hessa that there were two living creatures nearby. After a tense and cautious search, aided especially by Devil Pancake’s cat familiar, the party felt confident that at least one of the creatures was hiding in the walls. Dom used the hammer Whelm to create a shockwave, which stunned any foes in the radius of the blast, while Zarra set up a mirror by the crack in the wall that the party believed was the entrance to a den, so that anything inside venturing out would end up seeing its own reflection.

The other basilisk appeared from behind a statue and attacked. Dom kept its attention focused on him, while his companions struck it repeatedly from behind or at a distance, and it soon succumbed to the party’s strength. But a third basilisk came up from the opposite direction, undetected by Blackrazor by being too far away. Devil Pancake was the first to notice it, and he met its gaze and turned to stone.

The party quickly subdued the basilisk and killed it, but no magic at their disposal could undo what it had done. They prepared to take Devil Pancake back to the Welkwood to seek assistance from Melf, but Melf was waiting for them in the temple stables. Melf agreed to restore Devil Pancake at the cost of one of the legendary weapons. The trident Wave went to Melf, and Devil Pancake reverted to flesh and bone. Melf also left the party with his blue ring, which can summon his aid three times.

The party spent the second night in the stables. During Hessa’s watch, a company of heavily armored orcs led by a fierce orcish captain approached the temple. Hessa went out to face them alone with Blackrazor. She cut them down with little difficulty. Yet each soul that Blackrazor consumed seemed to hasten Hessa’s transformation into what Melf had called a planewalker. Hessa had already begun to glow with a steady white aura, and now her animal companion, the spitting python Wes, transformed into a couatl — a winged planar being in snake form — for the duration of the battle. Hessa’s height also increased by two feet. Alarmed by these changes, she demanded answers from Blackrazor, who said only that it is her destiny and that he is hungry for more souls. She then sought comfort from Zarra and spiritual guidance from Father Dominco, who encouraged her to use the sword sparingly and reminded her that her destiny was in her own hands.


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