Descent into Avernus

Descent into Avernus Episode 04 – Life’s Rollercoaster

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The adventurers continue their delve into the cultist’s lair. They find old lady Nebra, a florist who was kidnapped by the Cultists of the Dead 3 and brought down into the dungeon as a slave. She explains to the group that during her time there, she learned of their secret entrance nearby. Toph insight checks Nebra and feels that there’s something off about her. She attempts to console Nebra by gently grasping her arm, but Nebra pulls away. Toph soon shares her insight with Liam who doesn’t seem too surprised by it.

Nebra leads the group back down the stairs and points out where the secret door is. Sir Nedir and Liam both attempt to open the door, but are unsuccessful. Nebra then steps up and is eventually able to activate the hidden mechanism. The door opens to another chamber with foul stagnate water. Before moving on, the group decides to take a short rest back in the room where they found Nebra. Reluctant to go back to the room, Nebra voices her preference to leave immediately for the surface. Toph offers to go with Nebra back to the surface, but the group convince them it is better to stay and see this through (Never split the party!).

Commenting that she is starting to feel dry, Liam offers Nebra his waterskin. She politely declines, but thanks him for his offer. As they make their way back to the room Toph, Nedir, and Elder Storm enter first. Liam waits for Nebra to enter, but she insists he enters first (a standoff begins). Liam explains that in order for them to protect her properly, they need to cover both in front and behind her. Nebra proceeds to enter the room, but instead begins shutting the door. Alarmed by the sudden action, Liam attempts to stop her by disorienting her with his Bo staff. He misses and Nebra proceeds to shut the door, locking 3 of the party members inside. Nebra turns to Liam and immediately goes invisible.

Toph checks the room’s sarcophagus, which is filled with blood, but is unable to sense anything of immediate concern. Nedir attempts to break through the door that Nebra just shut. The door takes some damage, but holds firm. Liam, now by himself, attempts unsuccessfully to attack the old lady that’s now invisible. She reappears, but not as the old lady they saw. Rather she’s a woman in her late 20’s, wearing tight leather armor and covered head to toe in blood! She stabs Liam with her dagger, dealing enough damage that he falls to the floor unconscious. Going for the kill, she attacks again causing Liam to fail two death saving throws!

Storm, Nedir, and Toph continue to beat at the door attempting to break it down. Liam rolls his potentially last death save (NATURAL 20!) and stabalizes with 1 HP. Infuriated that he’s still alive, the cultist attacks Liam again, causing him to fall back unconscious and failing another two deaths saves. Storm and Nedir are finally able to break down the door. Nedir rushes out to find Liam bleeding out on the floor. Toph rushes up and casts Cure Wounds on Liam, bringing him back from death’s door once more. Nedir feels something brush past him, but he is unable to make contact with it. Liam rushes to follow her, but is once again caught off-guard as she appears behind him and stabs him again. Liam falls unconscious for the 3rd time. Storm gets to Liam and casts another Cure Wounds. The party then gets in formation, blocking the hallway and secret entrance (which is now open once more). They hear crumbling bones off in the distance as one of Storm’s skeletons is taken out by Nebra. Liam rushes back to the room where they found the Tiefling girl, Vendetta, who lies dead on the floor. Nebra appears once more behind Liam and tries to take him out again, but is unable to make contact. She goes invisible and manages to flee.

With the combat over, the group returns to the room with the blood filled sarcophagus. They take a short rest, regaining some of the strength. Having come so far, they decide to continue clearing out the lair. They go through the secret entrance and quietly trudge through the stagnate waters. They hear fighting up ahead. As they move forward, they find a human man, gravely wounded, with four dead cultists nearby. He is being attacked by another figure, a man whose head is a skull with no flesh (Death Head of Bhaal). Hearing their approach, the Death Head rushes up the stairs to the north.

The party cautiously approaches the wounded man. He introduces himself as Mortlock Vanthamper, the keeper of this establishment. In exchange for amnesty, Mortlock offers to tell the party whatever they wish to know. They agree. Mortlock explains that his family (the Vanthampers) run this place. They hired the Cultists of the Dead 3 to kill people around town. The goal was to make the Flaming Fists appear as though they couldn’t handle the situation, causing the city to drive them out. Once the Flaming Fists were gone, his mother (Duke Thalamra Vanthamper) would be able to step up as the new Grand Duke. That was the plan anyway. It seemed Mortlock was betrayed by his brothers who sent assassins to kill him. Not wanting any further involvment, Mortlock offers the stashed treasure horde to the group. The stash consists of 4 large locked chests. Nedir hands the keyring he snagged from the jailor to Toph, who uses mage hand to open the chests. Inside the chests they find a bunch of coin, two red crystal vials with gold stoppers, ten eye agates, a delicate porcelain dragon mask, and a bronze crown w/ 5 dragon shaped sapphires. Nedir recognizes the crown to be in honor of Tiamat, the chaotic evil dragon god. It appears this cult is tied with Tiamat in some way….