The black pudding was huge, and stank ferociously. The Red Order wasn't going to stand for that.
Of course, the stench was almost overpowering as The Order closed on the beast, and a pair of four-armed demons came running in from the other side of the cavern. Kawaii and Arthur flanked the pudding but soon ended up ensnared in its goo, along with the unfortunate demons.
That's when the lights went out.
Lenwe backed off the way that the party had come, while Shibboleth flew around the side of the cavern. Ralvereon was caught at the centre of the seemingly sentient patch of shadow, which managed to somehow stab him with a blade.
Arthur, in between teleporting to the pudding to attack it, kept up a conversation with a hooded figure in the corner of the cavern. In Abyssal, the demon explained how it would allow The Order to pass through the caverns safely if they agreed to help his demonic brethren escape from the cursed city with them. Sounded very familiar...
With the demons variously devoured by the pudding or slain by The Order, all were free to concentrate on the smelly goo, shooting and stabbing it while trying to keep out of the shadow-generating demon that was duelling with Ralvereon. The warlord took time out from this action to command Kawaii to strike true. Finally the pudding exploded!
Inside was an even worse smelling demon, which Kawaii took a particular offence to. Once it was dead, the shadow fiend proved less elusive, and the simple expedient of repeatedly shooting into the darkness killed it eventually.
As for the demon making a deal? Well, if The Red Order was not prepared to strike a bargain with the Iron Duke of Hell, they were unlikely to stoop to parlaying with some elemental nutcase. Arthur refused the offer by having Lenwe shoot the demon.
Proceeding through the tunnels, it seemed as if the denizens were giving our heroes a wide berth. The only demons to appear as more than an echoing cackle were a trio of vulturic Vrocks, and only one of them was slow-witted enough to still be present by the time the party closed.
In pathetic tones it offered to guide The Red Order to the lair of the dread lord of the domain himself, and only wanted not to be immediately killed out of hand. That sounded like the sort of relationship The Red Order could get behind! En route, the demon explained that its dread master was Zebukiel, an ancient dragon that had betrayed Arkhosia to Bael Turath and was thereafter cursed to eternal life. The demons had been enslaved by him, and wanted him dead as much as anyone else, but were too weak to manage the feat.
A cliff-face led up to a cave, within which was darkness. A voice from within greeted our heroes, and Zebukiel bemoaned his immortality while also attempting to coerce the party into retrieving more items for his hoard. The Red Order talked while scattering sun rods about the chamber, but since Zebukiel's offer amounted to not killing the party if they got him some loot from the same tomb where the Banner of Arkhosia was located, they told him to stuff it. It was time for the betrayer to pay for his crimes and the city to be freed!
Epic level dragon fight time.
Laurence J Sinclair