Shieldbashers

Queen of the Demonweb Pits

After destroying the multi-verse ending weapon, Timesus, the Shieldbashers chased Orcus to the throne of the Raven Queen where they witnessed her mortal wounding and Orcus’s ascension to Godhood. In an epic battle, the Shieldbasher shattered Orcus’s defenses and beheaded the demon prince.

In an act of ultimate sacrifice, Rosa Moonshadow drew the shard of the abyss from the heart of the Raven Queen, leaving the Goddess of Death mortally wounded but not dead. As the dagger left her heart, Rosa burst into cloud of ash, plummeted deep into the Far Realm, lost for an eternity.
Stepping outside of the Raven Queen’s temple, the Shieldbashers witnesses the arrival of the Chaos Ship of Lolth, the Queen of the Demonweb Pits. It appears the Queen of Spiders herself plans to capitalize on the weakened state of the Raven Queen to take the title as God of Death herself.

Only the Shieldbashers stand in the way.

Lying next to her throne, the Raven Queen’s immortal blood flows onto the stone floor of her dais.

“I have little I can give you for the battle you face ahead, my friends.” Her voice is barely a whisper. “My own forces have been cut down by Orcus’s own army. My power is but a flicker of itself. I cannot return your companion to you, but I can give you her shadow.”

The Raven Queen draws a silhouette upon the ground, the features remarkably like your ranger friend. The drawn figure soon stands up, features sharpening in ebony. You see the form of your companion returned, but looking into her dead eyes, you are clear on one thing. This is not Rosa Moonshadow. She might fire an arrow as true as the sun but the real Rosa lies lost in the swirling madness of the Far Realm.

Rushing outside you see Lolth’s massive chaos ship, a giant iron spider, smashing across the remains of the Raven Queen’s city. Webs stream from the ship, enveloping what remains of the Raven Queen’s army. Using chunks of rock stuck to the acidic webbing, you manage to climb up near the starboard gangway of the chaos ship where a pair of powerful arcane ballista hammer away at the remaining defenses of the Raven Queen’s forces. On your arrival, the ballista turn to you.

As the battle grows quiet, you see the crushed form of one of the Raven Queen’s Sorrowsworn. An arcane bolt pierced it to the hull of the chaos ship, yet the mighty warrior still lives.

“You must stop Lolth. She cannot slay our mistress and become the new God of Death. She would twist the paths of the dead and use it to fuel her own twisted agenda.”

“Her ship entered this plane through a huge rift between the Demonweb and the Shadowfell. The opening of that rift took a great deal of energy. That leaves this ship mostly defenseless. Only the Spider Queen’s high temple and her personal throne room remain protected by a prismatic barrier even you cannot pierce. The engine of this ship must be destroyed before that barrier will fall. Find the engine room and destroy the engine within. Then seek out Lolth’s high temple and her personal chamber in the bow of the ship.

I do not know if any of us possess the power to slay a God, but we must try. Fight well, heroes.”

Stepping into the hull of the chaos ship feels like stepping into another world. The walls are of dark iron carved into intricate patterns of webs. Deep violet crystals illuminate the halls and rooms of the structure, changing the colors of your skin and clothing to deep black, glowing white, and scarlet. The smell of electricity and acidic residue hangs in the cool air.

After dispatching a small group of drow guards, hardly prepared for your infiltration, you find yourself at a stairwell leading down into the lower levels of the ship and a hallway that leads towards the bow and stern. Strange glyphs glow along the walls, a language only known to Lolth’s most trusted followers.

The air grows hotter as you descend down a large staircase and enter the engine room of Lolth’s chaos ship. A massive pillar of energy swirls from the center of the room. It stands on a large block of iron venting green gas. Four pedestals surround the beam. On three of these stand a dark elf sorcerer pouring energy into the column. Beams of red, white, and blue stream from their hands.
Seeing you enter, one shouts to the others in dark elven. They redirect their beams and begin chanting spells.

As the engine collapses, you see a tall figure of gray skin lying naked in the center of the engine’s core. The stubs of wings, clipped off, sit off of his shoulder blades. Turning him, you see eyes of swimming mercury. He is a Solar, one of the most powerful of angels, trapped and channeled for a thousand years to power Lolth’s ship.

Words come to his lips like foreign things. How long has it been since he last spoke. “Thank you. I know not who you are. I know not who I am. I know only one thing. She must die.”

“Yet she is a God, and Gods do not die easy. Your weapons, as powerful as they are, cannot slay her. There is only one thing in this ship that can. My lifeblood. Pierce me through my heart with one of your weapons. Let my life flow into it. Than use this weapon to pierce her and my blood will poison her. She will not be able to discorporate. She will die.”

Looking at the body of the Solar you realize one thing. Slaying this being, no matter what circumstances, will be an unforgivable act you will all carry for the rest of your days.

Charging hard to protect a mortally wounded Raven Queen, the Shieldbashers infiltrate Lolth’s chaos ship, a massive walking spider. After cutting through the outer guards, the Shieldbashers rescue a prisoner within Lolth’s planetary dungeon and then break down the ship’s diabolic engine, a twisted machine drawing energy from a captured Solar. In their darkest act yet, the Shieldbashers pierce through the heart of the Solar in order to coat Envy’s weapon with the Solar’s divine blood, the only substance on the ship capable of actually killing Lolth.

Now the Shieldbashers head to the bow of the ship where they face Lolth’s most loyal worshippers and soon the Queen of Spiders herself!

The prismatic shield down, you kick open the doors to the Court of Lolth. For ten thousand years worshippers of the Demon Queen only dreamed of stepping foot into this unholiest of sanctuaries. Garish onyx statues leer down from the curved walls, eyes illuminated with violet gems.

On a platform ahead stands Eclavdra, High Priestess of Lolth, dressed in but whispers of black satin and silk webbing. She stands in front of a dark altar radiating necrotic energy. Four dozen of Lolth’s devout stand with her. A swirling rod of tentacles sits comfortably in her hand.

The high priestess of Lolth’s voice commands over her servants.

“Slay them and feed their souls to the altar of our queen!”

Lolth’s most loyal followers answer the call.

The massive black doors open into Lolth’s personal throne room. A huge glass wall gives her a panoramic view of the destruction of Orcus’s assault on Letherna and her own attack. You see the Raven Queen’s temples surrounded in the acidic webbing of Lolth’s arachnid chaos ship.

Four portals along the walls open to other worlds. One of them reveals the icy plane of the Iron Wastes. Another opens to the swamps of Abysm. A third shows the endless streaming of the Blood Rift. A fourth opens to what appears to be the eternal webwork of her own plane, the Demonweb.

The Demon Queen of Spiders herself stands on the platform of her throne. Red silk and black webwork adorn her perfect onyx body. All of your bravado falls before her as you realize you stand in front of a God – one who does not like you very much.

“You steal my artifact, break into my home, kill my most loyal servants, and expect to walk out of here alive? Such hubris. But if it is combat you seek, I shall not disappoint.”

The spider queen’s huge bloated body falls to the floor of her temple. With a terrible cracking and shifting, the body reforms into her beautiful dark elf form. She stands with great difficulty, her many wounds marring her otherwise perfect body.

“I have heard of the power of the Shieldbashers but I never guessed at how powerful it truly was. You are indeed the mightiest of heroes.”

“You could slay me with a single stroke of that glaive, I have no doubt. Perhaps you might mount my head on your wall. But I can give you something greater. What good is one head when I can lead you to many.”

Lolth points to the portals around her chamber. In each you see the shifting forms of abyssal layers.

“Grazz’t, Demogorgon, Baphomet, Kostchtchie, Dagon. I can give them all to you. You might fight for a thousand years to find them buried in their worlds, but I can get you right to them.”

“Further, I can do what the Raven Queen cannot. I can help you recover your ally, Rosa Moonshadow. I know where she is and I know how to get her back. It will not be easy, but it will be far easier with my help than if you trek into the Far Realm yourselves.”

“In return, my demands are simple. Let me return to the Demonweb where I shall stay for one thousand years. All will know of my defeat. It will take me nearly that long to get back the power you have taken from me. I will never threaten the Raven Queen again.”

“And one last thing, you may still have your trophy.”

Lolth draws up a large gem in the shape of a spider with a dagger pierced through it’s body. The power of this artifact is breathtaking.

“Kill me and you have none of this. No pathways to the demon princes, no guide to return your companion, and no Crystal of Ebon Flame.”

“The choice is yours. Ask yourself what use I am to you dead instead of in service to you alive.”

The party chooses to keep Lolth alive.

“You have chosen wisely, friends. I will return to the Demonweb. This chamber is now yours, for I have not the power to return it to my realm. These portals will remain active and my image can return here to shift them to the lairs of the demon princes you choose to hunt.”

“I will not delay you any longer.” The demon queen smiles. Her image shifts and bursts into strands of shadow. In her place sits the onyx spider artifact, the Crystal of Ebon Flame.

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The God of Death

Arrival in Letherna

You step through the portal into a world of war. Fires burn all across the plataus of Letherna, scorching the gray skies in black clouds of sooty ash. The corpses of both demons and the servants of the Raven Queen litter the ground in front of you. Overhead, two dark angels of the Raven Queen rip into three winged balors. Lightning cracks and the head of one of the angels tumbles to the ground splattering blood of liquid silver. Then the group is lost in the dark clouds overhead.

As you travel up the hills of Letherna to the Raven Queen’s citadel of Zvomarana, you walk past dozens, hundreds of dead angels and demons. You step over severed arms still clutching hilts of gold and platinum. Ahead of you, you see smoke rising from the upper reaches of the Raven Queen’s most holy of temples.

The Demonic Host

As you reach the courtyard you see large pools, once filled with the cool soothing waters of the afterlife, now filled with the black tainted blood of demons mixed with immortals. The gateway to Zvomarana lies ahead. From its shadows slithers Shonruvvu, the Keybearer, six arms wielding sharpened runed scimitars. High up on the gateway, two fat blue demons grin and giggle at you, bellies writhing with screaming faces and clawing hands. X large and powerful demons, massive clawed hands from their broad shoulders and smaller claws growing from their chests step from the east and west.

The God of Death

The splintered doors of Zvomarana open before you to a scene from your worst nightmare.

Upon the dias in front of you kneels Orcus over the body of the Raven Queen. His shard of the Abyss lies plunged into her breast. You see only the faintest breath on her lips. Orcus looks up from her prone body to you.

Four servants of the Raven Queen have been impaled on huge barbed spikes. Splashes of blood draw out dark sigils on the floor underneath them. Each of the four seems enveloped in strange elemental auras. One is encased in ice, one has skin like stone, one is enveloped in fire, and one is swirling in gusts of air.

“Welcome to the rebirth of the God of Death, Shieldbashers. The threads of a half million years come down to this single moment. Soon you too shall be reborn into the most powerful of my servants. Come.”

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Pulling the Crystal

Note: Rosa chose to draw the crystal from the Raven Queen’s breast.

As your hand touches the crystal, you feel your very existence begin to crumble. It takes every ounce of your will to hold on and draw the crystal from the breast of the Raven Queen. You feel your heart disintegrate and your internal organs turn to dust. As the poisoned shard leaves her body, you see her take in a great gasp of air. Her eyes meet yours. It is the last thing you ever see.

The Death of Orcus

“Time to end this,” says Orcus. The green eyes of his wand glow brightly, signalling the death of the next creature touched. He touches the wand to Envy. Envy falls to the ground but something deep within her stirs, the Harbinger of Doom within her will not fall so easily. Orcus turns to face his next victim when Envy stands, draws her vorpal glaive back, and beheads Orcus, the Prince of Undeath.

The pyramid of shadows

Deep in the emptiness of the Far Realm, a torn and tormented soul screams across all space and time. Once it knew mortality, once it had touched immortality. Once it had been something but now it was nothing. Yet it still held on, still touched that distant pinpoint of light that once it had called light. For untold millions of years it stretched across time.

Until she pulled it in.

In the vastness of the Far Realm floats a pyramid of pure blackness, a pyramid with no seams and no entryway. Within it, an entity reaches out and touches the screaming soul. It grasps it and pulls it in. Though insane with the boundlessness of infinity, it formed once again into the mortal being it once was. It opened its eyes and beheld the beautiful Eladrin.

“Welcome back, Rosa. My name is Vyrellis and you and your companions saved my life.” She smiles at you. “Now we’re even.”

The Demon Queen

With the calm of battle behind you, you step out from the noxious air of the Raven Queen’s temple to the steps leading to her courtyard. You feel the weight of years of battle on your shoulders. You dream of the beds that call to you in your safehouse below the Three Wishes, floating in the Elemental Chaos. You dream of further adventures, dream of retirement, dream of serving the Gods directly that you once served in mortality.

Yet none of these will find you this day. With the wounding (death?) of the Raven Queen, a great opportunity has made itself clear and the first of many beings steps forward to claim it.

Off on the horizon, at the base of Letherna, a massive metal spike pierces the holy ground. Another pierces the ground further up the hills, smashing an ancient mausoleum to bits. Another and another. The first one pulls up, arches over, and pierces the ground once again. Your eyes follow it up to the great metal body of the Chaos Ship of the Queen of Spiders.

Your vision pulls out, the distance rushes past, and you see the beautiful and powerful body of Lolth herself standing on the upper deck of her massive spider-shaped ship.

It would seem the Demon Queen has left her web, and her target is the throne of Death.

Your weariness begins to twist and boil turning into a great surge as your hand falls to the hilt of your weapon and you once again leap into war.

62

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The Black Star and the Heart of the Abyss

Scene 1: Through the Blood Rift

Layers of the abyss roar past you as Captain Vlaxx plummets the Sheviathon through the Blood Rift deeper and deeper into the Abyss.

A world of black snow covers you in a cold sooty ash. You feel your own will begin to break as you pass through the Woeful Escarand. Dust flows past the Rainless Waste.

Galun-Khur, the Noisome Vale, The Steeping Isle, The Marsh of the Pierced Men. Each layer is more horrible than the next. The forest of Living Tongues, the Flesh Forges, The Endless Maze.

Soon they begin to blur past as time and space begins to stretch and twist. Horrible storms begin to crash against the hull of the Sheviathon.

“The Sheviathon was never built to handle these stresses.” Shouts Captain Vlaxx, her eyes burning with psionic energy as she steers the chaos ship. “She’s not designed to go much further than the upper layers of the Abyss. While I was repairing the ship I dug down under Plains of Hunger and found a lot of ruins of old cities, old worlds. I found some large sheets of strange metal and beams of hardened wood that I stored down below. If you think it will help, you might shore up the Sheviathon’s frame. Otherwise you might give the psionic engines a boost. Beyond that, you might pray to whatever god you believe in to give us a hand. Otherwise, I fear this might be a one-way trip.”

Scene 2: The Landing

“There it is!” shouts Captain Vlaxx. As you look out over the bow of the ship you see a swirling storm of red and black. In its center is a multi-colored multi-fasceted crystal of enormous size. You see Orcus’s Chaos Ship, the Black Skull banking around it. Ruined platforms of stone and twisted metal swirl around the crystal. Upon a larger one of these platforms you see a red pentagram pulsing and flaring. Numerous figures surround this circle. One of them is unmistakable. Orcus.

As you watch, bolts of black lightning smash into the hull of the Black Skull. Powerful forces seem to twist the ship and then it breaks apart spilling out the twisting white plumes of its spiritual engines. The pieces of Orcus’s ship seem to twist around the crystal in some form of terrible orbit.

Near the crystal, a huge being of black stone laced with red pummels the crystal with its black iron fists. Each hit results in blasts of chaotic energy that would rip the existence out of any being – yet this being remains unharmed.

“The storm is too strong to land near the platform. I’ll have to drop you off over there.” Vlaxx points to a larger platform orbiting further out. Flames erupt around it and parts of it break away yet it seems to be the most stable area in the heart.

Vlaxx steers the ship near the platform and you leap onto the strange stone and metal surface of the platform. You feel the entire platform shift under your feet. Overhead, the storm roars with chaotic life. In front of you the stonework breaks upward as X two-headed worms break out from the ground below. Chaotic beasts forged in the very heart of the Abyss, they scream at you with blind rage.

The party fights the Ancient Abyssal Worms and kills them.

Scene 3: The Heart of the Abyss

Leaping closer to the Heart, you see Timesus smash again into its surface. Thin cracks form along the crystal’s edge. You can imagine the rending of worlds every time that crystal breaks. How many millions has he already destroyed? How many worlds have broken apart with each hammer of his fist? The very thought is staggering.

To your right you see Orcus with a host of demons around him. One of them you recognize, the Marilith Shonruvvu, Orcus’s Keybearer. Her hands swirl with red energy holding open a large portal. You see a large host of demons has already gone through into the gray world that lays beyond. (Religion DC 30, it’s Letherna, the homeworld of the Raven Queen; Perception DC 30, you see war has already broken out beyond the portal).

“The forging of a God is no easy thing,” shouts Orcus over the roar of the storm. “We must all sacrifice much and take many risks. Stop Timesus, save the multiverse, and watch the creation of a new God!” Orcus holds his black hand to the swirling sky. In it you see a single long shard of the Heart of the Abyss in his hand. Any other mortal hand that dared touch it would result in complete annihilation but in a hand forged from the stone of Timesus, even Orcus might handle the most deadly weapon ever created.

“When you finish here, when you stop him, come to Letherna and mourn the death of the Raven Queen. Then kneel before I, your creation, the new God of Death!” Orcus steps through the portal, Shonruvvu follows, and the portal snaps shut behind him.

With another smash of Timesus’s hammering hand, the crystal cracks again.

On Timesus’s Death:

One hundred and seventy years ago, an old farmer wept over the body of his last child, his eldest son, who had succumbed to a fever. The farmer hugged his son and as he let go, he left behind all of the love for humanity he had left. He watched his wife die under then hands of brigands. He watched his youngest son starve to death after he made the choice to feed his oldest. Now he cared for no one. For one hundred and seventy years, Arantham sought to wipe clean the sins of his past. One hundred and seventy years later he nearly had his wish. But now he watches as his hands crumble to dust and his spirit flows into the crystal forever destroyed.

Scene 4: The portal to Letherna

As the gateway to Letherna opens to you, the smell of angellic blood and burned flesh flows past you. You see the Raven Queen’s homeworld ablaze. Demons fly past chasing winged sorrowsworn. As you watch, one throws barbed trident through the back of one of the Raven Queen’s servants. Bands of the demons smash against the Letherna’s defenders leaving hundreds of trailing bodies in its wake. Though dormant for tens of thousands of years, the Blood War has found the doorstep of the Raven Queen.

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Orcus and the Heart of the Abyss

Orcus stood on the bow of the Black Skull watching the infinite layers of the Abyss roar past him. Behind him he felt the engines of the chaos ship, engines fueled with the rending of a thousand souls an hour, roaring beyond their capacity. The ship would not survive the trip but Orcus cared not. It was a one-way trip anyway.

They soared through the blood rift, a wound created in every layer of the Abyss by the piercing throw of the Chained God as he threw down the crystal shard of ultimate chaos into the very bottom of the Abyss. There it pierced through very existence itself, creating a breech between the multiverse and the Far Realm.

For millions of years it sat there, its pulsing creating all of the twisted evil the Abyss had to offer. It became the Heart of the Abyss. Even Orcus owed his existence to the Heart.

Though surged with the greatest strengths of chaos, no creature dared touch it for no creature could survive contact with such a power. Only one substance was ever created that might touch it, a substance built by the primordials five hundred thousand years ago in the peak of the Dawn War, the final war between primordials and the gods.

The primordials built a weapon, Timesus the Black Star, the only creature capable of destroying the Heart of the Abyss. With such a weapon in their control, the gods would dare not to continue their war. Who would risk the destruction of everything?

But even the primordials feared it. They buried it and ended their war in defeat rather than risk the destruction of all. It laid buried in Death’s Reach until Orcus’s agents recovered it and fueled it with the perfect soul capable of fulfilling the Black Star’s destiny – the infinitely wounded soul of Orcus’s high priest, Arantham.

Now, in the back of the Chaos Ship roaring to its final destination, Arantham’s soul encased in Timesus the Black Star, prepared to enact its destiny.

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Everlost

At the doorways of Everlost, the party met and defeated Orcus’s prime general, Glyphimhor, and his powerful Zythar sorcerers. Within the entry hall the party faced a pair of terrible Molydeus guardians. One of these carried a vorpal glaive acquired by Envy.

In a set of chambers carved like twisted versions of Eladrin construction the party found the quarters of the lich Harthoon, Orcus’s advisor. They also discovered strange half-baked simulacrums of nobles of Sigil.

Heading into another chamber the party found the kitchens and slave pits of Everlost where the appitites of the demon prince were fed with thousands of enslaved mortals. After defeating the Nalfishnee slavemaster who guarded the one remaining slave, the party met the dwarven architect of Orcus’s false hand, built from the stone and metal of Timesus.

With two keys in hand, the party entered Orcus’s throne room. There they faced the prince of undeath and in a massive battle, the party defeated the demon prince only to discover he was a super-powerful aspect built from Orcus’s dismembered hand. The real Orcus rides on his Chaos ship, the Black Skull, towards the Heart of the Abyss where he plans to release Timesus the Black Star and end the entire multiverse.

>>>>>>>>> Flavor Text for Everlost >>>>

With Oblivion’s End behind you, you find yourself at the doorway of Everlost. The very sight of Orcus’s fortress makes your heart sink. Built from the blackened crushed bone of millions, the keep’s sharp battlements reach to the swirling gray clouds overhead. The black walls are broken only by hundreds of skulls from all manner of beasts and all different sizes. Two massive skulls flank the black door of the citadel. A deep chasm surrounds the massive black keep and a crumbling bridge spans the chasm. The chaos of the lower Abyss swirls below. Battlements guard the opposite side of the bridge.

You begin to realize that the entryway to Everlost is eerlily quiet.

As you step out onto the bridge you hear a roar overhead. A huge beast, a balor larger than any you have seen, sweeps past. Lightning cracks the ground and you feel the bridge crack underfoot. The balor crashes to the ground.

“You have come a long way, Shieldbashers. But it ends here. For ten thousand years I,Glyphimhor, have ruled Orcusgate. I’ve killed a thousand like you. Your journey ends here.”

He raises his hand and bursts of flame reveal winged fire demons atop the battlements.

The lord of Orcusgate, second in command of Thanatos, attacks.

>>>

You step foot into the very den of the Prince of Undeath. Every stone under foot, every crushed-bone brick of the keep, all of it seems at odds with life itself. Two pillars twist with screaming faces near the front of the hall and a large statue of the Prince of Undeath himself sits further in the hall. On platforms above you see two large black ballista armed with wicked bone-tipped bolts manned by a pair of rotted winged beasts.

A terrible stench comes from a large portcullis on the south side while an eery blue glow eminates from a chamber on the north. A massive black door flanked by a pair of strange clockwork mechanisms resides in the eastern alcove. On one of the clockwork mechanisms you see a embossment of a crescent moon. On the other you see the empty embossment of a small skull. They must be keys of some kind.

The iron portcullis has a large six-bladed key of some sort and is adorned with foreboding glyphs. Even the most skilled thief is unlikely to pick this lock.

A teleportation platform glows with strange shifting lights. The stonework around it is different than the rest, intricately carved ivory and sandstone.

>>>

Three huge scrying portals illuminate this sparse chamber. A large crystal ball sits in a stand of swirling ivory in the center of the room. The room itself appears to be of eladrin design. Delicate figures dance in the beautifully carved ivory. It is only every so often, from the corner of your eye, you see the beautiful figures ripped apart or brutalized by unseen terrors.

DC 35 arcana check to re-establish the last viewed locations. One is Sigil where a great hole is opening up further, swallowing the city. Another is on Lethernia, the citadel of the Raven Queen. The last is fixed on a massive red stone surrounded by violent orange and black storms.

>>>

Large metal and glass tubes connect three iron sarcophagi to large vats of a horrible green liquid. Pumps push the liquid into the sarcophagi. Other vats of a black tarry substance also sit in this room. A long table sits against one wall supporting a glass jar with a pink organic thing pulsating within it.

A desk of petrified wood is cluttered with various scrolls and dusty books bound in blackened human skin. (DC 35 Arcana check to read it without taking 3d10+20 arcane damage). An old journal lies on a pedestal recently written in red-black ink. (hand out the pages) Another teleportation circle is against the opposite wall.

A hulking figure lies strapped to a stone table.

Opening one of the sarcophagi you see a perfectly preserved man of noble stature. You recognize him as one of the nobles of Sigil, yet his face and head are hairless. He opens his mouth and green liquid begins to pour out. His body immediately begins to deteriorate into black sludge.

The hulking figure roars and rips free from its bonds. Green liquid begins to flow onto the floor at an alarming rate.

>>.

Traveling through the last teleporter you find yourself standing high Oblivion’s end. Vertigo flows over you, making your knees weak and your vision shaky. You stand high above Everlost on a platform only thirty feet across with no railing. (DC 25 perception / arcana: There is a sphere of force protecting the platform). You can see past the Lost Hills to the city of X and even further to smoke rising from Lash Embarer where you battled the Wraith Dragon and the capital city of Orcusgate. You can watch thousands of bands of undead tearing across the plains of Hunger in search of mortals.

Turning behind you you see the sharp spires of Everlost and behind it you see the Black Skull, Orcus’s Chaos Ship. Thick tendrils of souls twist around the hull, pouring into a center funnel that feeds into the massive black ship. The ship is powering up. It hangs suspended over a swirling vortex of black and red, twisting deep into the lower Abyss.

You see the ship break away from the platform to which it was attached. It turns with a deep rumble and then plunges into the vortex, diving deep into the lowest reaches of the Abyss. You can only imagine what horrible cargo it carries and what horrible place it carries it to.

>>>

The smell of rotted flesh, blood, and sulphur flow past as you step down the stairs into the kitchens of Everlost.

In all of your travels you have never seen a place as horrible as the kitchens of Everlost. The smell of burned flesh, smoking blood, and sulphur hang thick in the air. Massive iron pots, huge firepits, and hanging barbed chains fill this large chamber. Eviscerated headless and limbless corpses hang from large bloody hooks above. In one of the iron pots you find a terrible concoction of boiled flesh and internal organs in a thick black soup.

However no creature, demonic or otherwise, resides in this chamber.

>>>

The spiral staircase leads deep below the halls of Everlost. The wet heat brings beads of sweat on your skin. The smell of feces and rot thickens. Soon the staircase opens up into a roughly carved cavern. A walkway leads to a pair of large sunken pits. Hundreds of bodies fill the pits in various states of decay. On the walkway above stands a huge demon with the head of a pig and tiny wings.

“You are the last, dwarf. I don’t know why our master waited this long but my wish is now granted. Come to me so I might have one last feast on mortal entrails.”

Hearing you, the demon turns its massive bloated body in your direction. As its gaze falls upon you, you feel yourself weaken. Suddenly the vast experiences you have fall away. Your fingers forget the feeling of your sword and your tongue tangles as you attempt to cast your spells. You raise your defenses weakly as the creature steps forward, black lightning crackling from its thick fingers.

>>>

Red torchlight spills into the halls ahead as you push open the doors to Orcus’s Inner sanctum. The hall is massive, with a vaulted 100’ ceiling and three large platforms. Terrible depictions of mortals being raped, torn, and devoured by all manner of demons adorn the walls. Pools of blood, some ancient and dry and others wet and recent, span the floor. A pair of large demon heads flank a vent of red and white flowing energy.

A robed figure stands on the right-hand platform near a burning red glyph. Four iron sarcophagi rest along the walls, black smoke rising from their eyes.

None of this, however, captures your attention like the being in front of you – a being that haunted your dreams for your entire lives. A being you have hunted for decades. A beast that threatens life itself.

Orcus, the Prince of Undeath, smiles at you.

“Long have we known of each other, Shieldbashers, yet never have we met. Come, my children, let us embrace.”

>>>

This chamber might once have acted as Orcus’s pleasure parlor. A huge bath of red blood sits sunken into the stone floor. All manner of instrument of torture decorate the room. Much of this has been pushed aside to make room for the creature that once laid here. It was here, you realize, that Timesus was reanimated. You find the remains of the black orb stolen by Doresain’s expert ghoul orb capturing squad.

A stairway and hall lead to the upper decks of Everlost.

>>>

You stand on a large platform that hangs out from Everlost’s upper spires. Below you swirls a massive vortex that leads deeper into the bowels of the Abyss. Above you, the red-black storm spirals into a funnel. You hear a roar overhead as a shadow passes. A ship comes along side the platform. You breathe a great sigh as you identify it.

The Sheviathon has come.

“Come quick,” shouts Captain Vlaxx in your mind. “The Black Skull has four hours on us. It’s going to be a shaky path but we must start now if we hope to catch it.”

“It’s time to go save the multi-verse.”

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The Awakening of Timesus

Arantham screamed. He knew pain his whole life but nothing like the pain he had felt since falling into Doresain’s black orb. Within the black sphere he had been ripped apart and rebuilt a thousand times. He had watched his children starve to death again and again. He had watched his wife raped and murdered over and over while he cowered in fear. Every moment of agony he had known, every moment that defined his turn to darkness, relived itself fresh every moment.

Then his eyes opened. The pain was still there but the environment had changed. He felt heavy. His vision had changed, tinted red and with colors he had never seen before. Torchlight radiated a purple hew all around the room. He raised his hand in front of his eyes and saw a black stone fist laced with red.

The Prince of Undeath knelt over him.

“Welcome back, old friend,” said Orcus. All around him, black flames seemed to roll off of his body. He was not nearly as large as Arantham had remembered. He also seemed to remember much more than he had before. He remembered being built, constructed by a dozen of the most powerful primordials. He remembered the hundreds of thousands sacrificed over him, drenching him in blood and filling him with souls in terror. He remembered his eternal sleep in the vaults of Death’s Reach.

“What am I?” said Arantham. His voice rumbled through the chamber, reverberating through the stone under his massive body. Within Orcus’s hand was Doesain’s black sphere. Orcus casually threw it over his shoulder and it shattered into dust – it’s energy already spent.

“You are Arantham, you are Timesus, you are the Black Star.” said Orcus. “All the pain you have felt. All the anger you have within you. You can end it all.”

Arantham stood. He towered above Orcus’s servants. His body felt strong, filled with a blackness and a hatred he had never known. He felt power roaring through his red veins, a power he had never dreamed of.

“You will travel to the Heart of the Abyss, the crystal of pure evil that separates our Multi-verse from the void of the Far Realm. Only you can destroy it. Only you can breech the splinter between both worlds and end everything we know. Your pain will be gone. The agony of your life will have never existed. Everything, everywhere, every time, will end.”

“Come with me, it is time.”

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I, Glyphimhor

Glyphimhor sat on the upper reaches of Everlost and looked out over Oblivion’s End. The soul storms continued to rage across the wasteland of bone dust. A leaning tower of a city long buried the wastes due to the long corruption of it’s leader pierced out like the finger of a dying god. The clouds of black and red swirled above in the ever raging storms of the Abyss.

Glyphimhor watched them come. A half dozen figures, mortals, walked across a land of a hundred billion souls, as though it meant nothing to them. They had defeated the Bonegougés, but that had been expected. The Tarrasque, though. Glyphimhor would not have thought that possible at all. He had watched that beast swallow an army of devils in less than an hour. Now it lay buried under the sands for another thousand years until the corrupt earth rebuilt it.

If that corrupt earth still existed at all.

Below, in the nearly empty chambers of Everlost, his master set about his final preparations for his most ambitious plan. A plan none of them could ever walk away from. He fueled a beast of utter destruction with the corrupted and insane soul of his most powerful high priest.

His master had given Glyphimhor the last order he would ever give him. “It matters not,” said Orcus to him. “Whatever end finds us will happen within the next two days.”

Sentimental words from a creature Glyphimhor had seen devour an entire city of mortals over the course of an evening. He couldn’t even wait for them to go through his slave pits and kitchens; he had them teleported right into his throne room so he could eat them all in front of the king who had broken a pact that should never have been made.

Glyphimhor turned and looked upon the Black Skull as it powered up, soul engines roaring to life as it prepared to depart in short few hours. It’s cargo was the most dangerous thing ever created by man, God, or primordial and it was headed deeper than any creature dared to go, to the Heart of the Abyss.

“Remind them what it means to cross the Prince of Undeath,” said Orcus to Glyphimhor. “Show them what the General of Thanatos is made of.”

I will do so, thought Glyphimhor.

To whatever end.

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Oblivion's End

Summary: In the wastes of Oblivion’s End, the party was attacked by a pack of twisted Bonegouge Assassins. Demons sent from Everlost to harry the party. Though the assassins fell hard, they laid the path for the most terrible beast ever faced by the Shieldbashers, the legendary Tarrasque. The beast ripped and tore into the party but their great power overwhelmed the beast and it returned into the dark earth from where it came as the party traveled to the doorway of Everlost, fortresss of Orcus, the Prince of Undeath.

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Valley of the Crypt Things Part 2

Summary: In the valley of the Crypt Things, the Shieldbashers continued to face the challenges built by Orcus’s oldest priests to test those who dared to stand in front of the Prince of Undeath. Traps of cunning and villainy threatened them at every turn. Poisoned blood gave the party strange terrible curses. They forced a Pit Lord of Hell back into the prison from which it had been summoned. They faced the terrible decision to sacrifice a Solar servant of the Raven Queen. Giving the creature back its life they faced terrible curses as they traveled further. Finally they faced the master of the Crypt itself, a demilich of great and terrible power. Defeating it, they stepped out into the wastes of Oblivion’s End.

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The River Styx and the Valley of the Crypt Things Part 1

Summary: After defeating the Wraith Dragon in Lash Embarer, the party, now covered in the aura of the dead, travels along the River Styx led by the Oarsman. Soon they come to the Valley of the Crypt Things where they are greeted by four Wight Kings, a mist hag, and the Retreiver Holocaust, a primordial weapon of ultimate assassination.

After defeating these foes, the party enters and successfully navigates the first two challenges of the Valley where Orcus’s most loyal subjects are tested before they meet the Prince of Undeath.


The chaos left behind you in the city square of Lash Embarer gives you easy passage to the docks at the River Styx. A boat awaits you, ragged and rotted. Frayed black ropes tie the boat to the chocks. A humanoid figure stands at the stern of the boat, when it turns to you, you see strips of flesh hanging from a blackened skull. Eye-sockets full of squirming maggots behold you.

You look of death, and you smell of death, but you are not dead. Why should I take you across the River Styx? What do you have for me?

The oarsman takes the party across the river Styx for one gold piece.

The journey along the river is a nightmare you wish never to remember. The black river is thick with the twisting and writhing bodies of the damned. They reach for you wailing for help. Theirs is an eternity in torment. As the river bends within a large canyon of razor-sharp obsidian, you see demons pouring more nude bodies into the river, stabbing at them with spears and claws, taking bites out of their flanks and letting red blood flow over their demonic bodies.

Within the mass of bodies through which you travel, faces seem familiar. As they call out to you, screaming for help, you find yourself drawn to pulling them from the sludge of the river regardless of the life-stealing nature of the dark waters. Only your own strengths might help you resist such a call.

The rotted wood boat comes to rest at a curve in the river. The oarsman beckons you off and you step foot onto a beach of broken bone. A distance ahead of you, the ominous ragged peaks of the Final Hills splits into a narrow valley. Two massive carvings flank the valley entrance, each nearly nine hundred feet tall, hooded, arms crossed across the chest and twin curved blades in their hands.

For thousands of years, the highest acolytes of Orcus traveled to Thanatos to pay homage to their patron. Many stayed within the city of Lash Embarer, Orcusgate, and Lacrymosa but some dared to travel to Everlost itself. Orcus built a pathway for these travelers through the Lost Hills known as the Valley of the Crypt Things. There, his faithful would be tested by his own fallen servants in a series of trials. Only the strongest of his servants with the blackest hearts would manage to survive the trials of the Valley. It is said that only one out of thirty survived the passage. On the other side, they were changed people. Any innocence they had, any goodness in their hearts, was gone. All they had left was the ruthless patronage of the Prince of Undeath.

As you stare into the valley you imagine those servants of Orcus you had faced that must have passed through here. Arantham, Kalarel, Zirithain. All of them must have come through here. What horrors might they have faced inside these halls? You will soon find out.

The valley is dead quiet as you walk carefully through it. Soon the valley tapers further. Four statues of kings, stone crowns on head and stone swords in hand, flank either side of the rock walls as the valley narrows down and twists further into the rock ahead.

A voice calls out from the cavern ahead “Who dares to face the tests of the Prince of Undeath? Which of you believes you alone can serve our dark master?” An old crowe steps from the shadows surrounded in thick mists. She leans heavily on a large staff. “Let us find out.”

You hear the ground break and four armored humanoids claw their way out of the ground. They are the Wight Kings, the first of the Crypt Things, once loyal servants of Orcus in their own world, their betrayal of the Prince of Undeath leaves them as guardians to his only passageway to Oblivion’s End.

As the battle begins, you hear a terrible roar. Something massive drops in behind you, a huge spider with razor-sharp talons and black rays beaming out from its numerous eyes. It is a retriever, one more deadly than you have ever heard of and as old as the dawn of the Primordials. The dust of five hundred thousand years coats its onyx carapace.


Demonic skulls buried in the hallways above scream out jets of flame in the hallway ahead. Through the hellish flames you see a massive iron portcullis blocking the far end of the hall. Above the door Abyssal script reads “Only by traveling through the fires of hell will thou serve me.”


Ahead of you, the hallway splits into three. Each of the hallways leads to the swirling mists of red, blue, green, yellow, all shifting in colors. Above each of them you see a symbol: Over one is the symbol of a hammer. Over another is the symbol of an eye. Over a third is a symbol of a feather.


The party teleported into the Room of Separation:

You find yourself in a large chamber split in two by a wall from floor to ceiling. Alcoves along the opposite side contain large iron sarcophagi. Ahead two platforms stand above the surface of the ground. A thick oil seeps from the walls beneath them. Directly ahead you see a fountain decorated by a beautiful half-woman half serpent. Her eyes gleam with red rubies. It is with horror that you realize you are separated from your companions.

Two serpentine shapes slither out of the gray mists on the platforms ahead. Pinpoints of red light gleam from the empty eye sockets of the skulls at the top of their serpentine spinal bodies. As you step forward, the sarcophagi open up. Poisonous gas emanates from the torn bodies of two large mummies that lumber out to face you.

For those who appeared on the far platform.

You find yourself above the fountain itself next to a huge stone sarcophagus. Filled with terror, you watch as the lid of the sarcophagi tumbles over and a large four-armed skeletal crypt thing crawls forth brandishing four razor-sharp scimitars. A blood-red line on the edge of each scimitar gives you the impression that the right cut from any of these blades might hew your head clean off.

As you approach the fountain a vision flows into you. You see Arantham along with a dozen other high priests of Orcus. Many are battling the mummies in the rear of the room while two are praying to the Lich Nagas. Blood pours off of the upper platform as the Crypt Thing beheads one of the priests it battles. Arantham grabs another priest by the hair and pushes his head into the fountain. You see Arantham’s muscles tightening as the man struggles. Soon his struggling ends. The lich nagas smile as the room grows quiet, the mummies and Crypt Thing returning to their sarcophagi.

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