Where the Companions enter the Well of Demons, and exit the storyâ€¦
Finally bolstering your courage to assault the Well of Demons, and successful in convincing Torment to accompany you, you nervously journeyed down the Deep Stair to the lightless tunnels leading to the Wellâ€¦
After several haunted hours of searching, you found a plaza in a cracked, high-ceilinged chamber.Â At the back of the chamber was an archway, and littered about this entrance and the attendant ruins were the remains of other camp sites â€“ previous adventuring parties who had also journeyed to this desolate location.Â In short order you passed beneath the archway, and disappeared into the Well.
The first chamber you came to was unassuming; barren except for some columns and a well or cistern in one corner.Â The sharp-eyed Paelias, however, observed what he thought was a creature lurking behind one of the far pillars.Â Emboldened by the meager resistance, you rushed inâ€¦
â€¦only to be surprised by creatures camouflaged against the ceiling! â€“ these cavern chokers used their prehensile arms to snatch up Salib and Marbryndan, impeding their progress.Â The creature Paelias had first observed â€“ a ghoul - rushed forward, joined by a companion from a side tunnel.Â The fight clustered at the chamberâ€™s opening as you and your companions desperately jockeyed for battle position.
As the chokers used Salib and Marbryndan as human shields, the ground suddenly swelled beneath you, and a tentacled horror erupted from some lightless warren below the chamber.Â Using itâ€™s long tentacles to great effect, it pinned Balasar and even Marduk, as the ghouls cut a bloody path through the party, using their ghoulish bite to further stun and incapacitate your companions.
With the tentacled horror and the chokers controlling the battlefield, and the ghouls wounding you at will, the battle turned against you quickly.Â Torment valiantly tried to stem the destruction, before retreating to the Wellâ€™s entrance.Â Marbryndan attempted to flee as well, but found his avenue of escape cut off as he was grabbed by a choker.Â Torment threw arcane energy at the choker, but the beast used Marbryndan as a flesh shield; the hapless thief absorbing the warlockâ€™s blasts with his own body before falling unconscious.Â Meanwhile, Balasar stood tall in the middle of the fray, challenging any who would approach him, where he was ultimately pinned down by tentacles and pulled apart by ghoulsâ€¦
Marduk, who had ended up on the far side of the battle, tried to find escape, but was trapped by the tentacled horror.Â The doughty dwarf was crushed beneath the heavy tentacles and wrenched into an unspeakable shape.
Seeing their ends, Salib and Paelias tried to fight their way free, but remain trapped against one wall of the chamber.Â Salib went down to the rampaging ghouls, and Paelias, as he flitted at the edge of unconsciousness, spun his Flaming Sphere with abandon, trying to beat the creatures back.Â His last vision, however, was of the bloody fangs of a ghoul, tearing into the flesh of his outstretched armsâ€¦
Torment fled the Well of Demons, making her way back to the safety of Seven-Pillared Hall (or did she?).Â For many minutes the sound of feeding continued: the breaking of bones, the sucking of marrow, the drinking of blood.Â In time, however, the creatures retreated into their lairs, and slowly silence returned.
If one could look into that chamber where the Companions died, one would see drying stains of blood, pieces of bone and skin, the torn bindings of a book, a bent buckle or empty scabbard.Â Eventually these things will fade, or be scooped up by the other predators that haunt the Well.Â One item, however, will not be touched.Â All other creatures will avoid it, sensing its malevolence, giving it a wide berth.Â It will sit, patient and undisturbed, on the cold stones.
It is a brightly colored feather, adorned by a living eye.Â A dimly glowing eye that stares coldly, alien, into the utter darkness.Â Waiting.
* * * * *
Thus closes the First Codex of the Companions.Â It is the end of Balasar, Marbryndan, Marduk, Paelias, and Salib, but not the end of the The Bannerlands â€“
Or the Storyâ€¦.