Standing at the ritual site the Heroes catch their breath after finishing off the Beholder. They continue to take punishing damage by being so close to the Everspout, however Santos catches eyes with Faldraco and declares that there is still work that needs to be done. He grabs his holy symbol and casts angelic seal. Light begins emanating from Santos forming an expanding pillar that shoots up to the heavens. The ritual effigy shatters further when the holy light touches it. Eventually the light is so all-consuming the Heroes go momentarily blind. When they can finally see again Santos is gone.
From their boat three figures watch Santos. On the dark riverbank Santos approaches them and can see one is a plainly, but prettily dressed woman. Next to her is man with his arms folded across his chest; he’s dressed all in black which matches his jet black hair. Next to him is another figure who is very impoverished by comparison. “Time is running out, Santos,” one of the figures says. Santos replies that he needs their help. The figures ask if he is ready to make a sacrifice. “Yes, my life for many,” is the Cleric’s response. They agree to help and send him back to the land of mortals in a sad parting. This is likely the last time Santos will see the old Gods. His sacrifice is that his HP is now permanently halved. Everyone (including Santos) is then transported away from the Everspout into a forest clearing far south of the irradiated area. Surrounding them is a wonder none of them has ever seen for the trees themselves appear infused with Essence.
Seemingly in a peaceful place, the Heroes note the toll the Everspout has wracked upon each of them. Cirole’s aura is flickering, Taran has an involuntary shake in his right hand, Jeric’s hair is falling out, Santos’ dark skin is considerably lighter and his wings now have veins of blue running through them, Faldraco feels weaker and Axterrix and Eloric Jor feel magically… uncertain. As Jeric and Santos get into a discussion (again) about the Gods leaving, Faldraco steps away from them and casts Divination. As he looks down the path a sight of beauty quickly and unexpectedly turns dark causing him to shake uncontrollably until he is rustled out of it by his companions. It’s time for a magical dinner and a full night of rest (which, in itself, feels magical). The next morning Jeric wakes up to a pile of hair and as he’s examining his newly bald head reflecting off his armor. Alera walks by and quietly purrs that she likes this new look even better. Everyone else’s peaceful morning of waking up, eating or gathering supplies is interrupted by Eloric Jor. The old wizard mutters, then laughs to himself…then starts casting what sounds like a teleport spell. Everyone shouts, “NOOOOO!” and Eloric is tackled by those closest to him. Santos, instead, casts Find the Path. He is aided by an unusually clear and focused Eloric Jor who conjures a 3D model in his hand. The model shows a secret entrance into Magehelm and the magical path from the Cleric’s spell illuminates within the model! Eloric states this is the way he escaped Magehelm but it’s clear he has no intention of saying any more about the event itself.
After walking for over an hour in the direction of Magehelm the group wonders aloud about the increase in the temperature. Asesthma states that it’s hellfire. Ok, then. A new voice then speaks from the trees above, “You guys are loud, do you know that?” Holy shit it’s Sigfried! He looks different, it appears that he has fangs for instance, but he’s still holding onto his sword Redemption like he always has. He tells of Cathist having a vested interest in the status of Adremelich’s forces inside of Magehelm and that he has been waiting around for the Heroes for months. Sigfried confirms the Mages are not winning and Magehelm is about to fall. Pressed to join, Siggy says he can’t and leaves telling the Heroes to make haste.
A short time later they are upon Magehelm and the shimmering dome of Essence surrounding it. From a distance they can see demons trying to penetrate the dome and metal golems fighting them. The group teleports to the edge of the barrier and right into figurative hell: a giant demon battle. On the edge of the battlefield the Heroes see a massive, horned pig demon wielding a flaming whip and barking orders like a general. Asesthma informs them he’s a Balor. There are many different types of demons here. There are frog-looking demons (Hezrou), pig-looking demons, bat demons, demons that resemble scorpions and dancing bird-demons (Vrock) that are performing some kind of ritual. For the sake of brevity they will all be known simply as ‘demons’ from this point on. This battle was huge and was many rounds. Mighty blows were exchanged and powerful magic filled the air. Every hero in the group pulled their own weight and did some really cool shit…. and then some died. :( Here is every noteworthy moment in order: Faldraco casts Holy Word and obliterates fourteen of the footsoldier demons. That sounds like a lot… it’s not. Santos follows that with Dictum which banishes many more demons and paralyzes those that remain around him. Cirole has minor success with his best demon calming music. Santos starts taking massive damage from multiple attackers. Luckily Faldraco has cast Shield Other on Santos allowing the younger Cleric to absorb half of the damage Santos takes, saving Santos’ life in the process. Eloric Jor casts Acid Storm which damages many of the demons and his head swells to an unnaturally large size. Axterrix attacks with his favorite spell but it seems the demons are immune to Starfall. Taran cleaves, Jeric duskblades and Alera sneaks and each are effective eliminating a few more of the demons. The golems behind the barrier launch their combined attack to fire a volley of magic missiles which strike the demons and the Heroes respectively.
The Clerics are clinging to life now as the Balor comes upon them. He strikes with his flaming whip downing Santos. Due to the magical connection between the Clerics, Faldraco goes down as well. However, Faldraco’s armor launches some minor healing magic which keeps him alive. The giant demon isn’t done, however, and kills Asesthma leaving a minor demon to jump in and eliminate Faldraco again. Taran runs over and pours a healing potion down Faldraco’s throat reviving him, bravely taking damage for doing so. Cirole uses Mass Suggestion and says, “It’s a good day to take a walk” affecting several demons. By some ultimate (white) miracle, Santos fully recovers and stands back up. He brings Asesthma back to life and she attacks the Balor. In a red fury, the Angel does ultimate damage which causes the boss demon to roar in pain. Eloric and Ax cast Acid Storm and Disintigrate interrupting what looks to be a ritual that some of the demons were performing. The Heroes take another volley of magic missiles from the golems which prompts Taran to turn and tell them “Hey, we’re good guys, so knock that shit off.” It works. The golems all focus their next attack on a large Hezrou demon and twenty magic missiles equals obliteration. The Balor attacks again and entangles Santos in his flame whip. Eloric and Ax cast Acid Orb and Starfall on the Balor which finally brings it to a knee. The Balor defiantly stands bellows “I’LL TAKE YOU ALL WITH ME!” The Samurai takes this opportunity to charge and hits, bringing the demon down to both his knees. Asesthma’s wings flare up in the next moment. She flies up and buries her sword into the demon’s face. The Balor doesn’t just die but, instead, violently explodes. The force of the explosion takes out Jeric, Alera, Axterrix, Cirole and Asesthma. Santos casts his most powerful spell, Miracle, which revives all of his dead companions. The barely-living Heroes gather together as a group and run like hell towards the Essence barrier as new demons (including another Balor) start to materialize. The Bard shouts, “Let us in!” as the group rushes up to the magical wall. The demons will be upon them all in a matter of seconds as the golems look them over. The metal men finally decide to open the barrier just enough to let the Heroes run in. It closes behind them just in the nick of time. Santos, in the front of the pack, gets a spear in his face as one golem says, “Welcome to Magehelm. You are now our prisoners.”