Saint stood in the entrance of a hallway. He quieted his senses, and once again searched for the presence of evil. The presence hit him like a ton of bricks. He had never sensed wickedness like this before. He almost felt a tangible pressure as he stepped into the hallway and urged his friends to follow. Tentatively, they did so.
Saint stopped in front of a door. “The great evil is certainly behind here, friends. Let us go and vanquish it.” Saint attempted to open the door, but it did not comply. He began kicking the door, but it did not give way.
Gabriel looked away from the paladin, and saw a small, grotesque figure standing further down the hallway. “Come this way,” it squeaked. “Why, what’s down there?” Gabriel asked. “It’s a surprise,” squawked the creature. “I think it’s a quaist,” said Gabriel to the rest of the group. With a final “come, come,” the quasit disappeared around a corner. Gabriel and Jace began to follow the creature as Saint finally knocked the door down.
“Come friends, a great evil awaits,” commanded Saint. “The quasit told us to follow it,” complained Gabriel. “What if it ambushes it while were fighting this ‘great evil’?” “We should deal with the lesser threat first,” added Jace. Saint replied “Then we may be too weak to deal with the greater threat,” and strode in the direction of the evil presence. Keryassa, Ives, Lucas, and Maximilien followed close behind, while Jace and Gabriel headed in the direction of the quasits.
Peering around the corner, Gabriel saw a disturbing sight. A man stood in the center of the room with his arms suspended from the ceiling. The mark of The Iron Circle was branded into his bare chest. Four quasits clung to him, pawing at him, massaging him, and whispering dark secrets into his ear. Undaunted, Gabriel drew his scimitars and strode into the room.
Meanwhile, the others encountered one of the most fearsome creatures they had ever seen. Standing eight feet tall, the monstrous demon resembled a cross between a frog and a lizardman. Its armored scales glistened, and its large toothy mouth gaped below a pair of hungry, reptilian eyes. A horrible stench of rot and decay wafted from its body. With a cry, Saint charged the fiend. He dealt it a grievous blow, but the demon returned the favor with its teeth and claws. With a healing touch, Lucas helped Saint back to his feet. Maximilien and Keryassa attacked the creature, but its scales protected it from the worse of their assaults. Still weak from exhaustion, Ives hung back and pleaded with his friends to flee.
Gabriel cut down the first quasit in front of him, but the others disappeared. Before he could react, one appeared behind him and raked its claws through his leg. The wound was not deep, but Gabriel felt his mind and reflexes slowing. “Their claws have poison,” he shouted. The madman in the center of the room cackled as he restored the quasits’ health. “Kill him!” shouted Gabriel to Jace. Another quasit fell, but their continued pinpricks were slowing draining the fighters strength. He fumbled for a health potion, then retreated behind the wizard. Soon, Jace also felt the effects of the quasits’ poison coursing through his veins.
In the other room, the fell demon once again knocked Saint to the ground. Roaring in triumph, it turned its attention toward Keryassa. The dragonborn could not long withstand the demon’s fury. Maximilien rushed to her side and administered a healing potion. Then, drawing his sword, he turned to face the monster. Lucas helped Saint to his feet. “I cannot heal you again, Saint. My magical reserves are depleted.” “Then I must make this final blow count,” replied the paladin. With that, he charged toward the demon, running it through, and dealing the final blow.
Meanwhile, one final quasit remained. It continued to elude the wizard’s and fighter’s attempts to silence it. Finally, with the great evil vanquished, the paladin appeared and ended the demon’s miserable existence. The adventurers eagerly began looting the remains of their fallen enemies. Lucas found a strange, yellow diamond on the body of the great demon. After examining it, he discovered it had the power to summon a earth elemental one time. In the other room, the adventurers found a chest with gold coins, quartz stones, and an unsigned note. It read, “Master Telesphore, I hope this letter finds you well. There is much to discuss. I apologize for not coming in person, but I have much to do. The wererats have not had the effect we hoped for, but they have distracted the guard enough for our purposes. Continue to work on summoning demons to augment our ranks. Delacroix will supply you with any reagents or materials you require. Soon, the Iron Circle will make its move. Bonifant will be ours, and shortly thereafter, all of Vitalio as well. We will be able to rebuild this city as it was meant to be. Remain patient, my friend, for just a while longer.”
After pondering the note, licking their wounds, and exploring the rest of the secret basement, the adventurers decided they should remain in case other Iron Circle agents came to investigate. The next day, Gabriel went to deliver news of their triumph to Meldy. He found her in her usual haunt, but with a companion! Gabriel recognized the newcomer as the infamous mercenary Revy the Hunter. His attempts at conversation were characteristically rebuffed. His offer of assistance was rejected as well. Dejected, Gabriel left, but not without giving Meldy a means to contact him and his friends. “The bard Selker Falwythe knows how to get in touch with me.”
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, and the adventurers decided to take more direct action. The note they had uncovered was yet another piece of evidence connecting the Delacroix family to the Iron Circle. So, the adventurers returned to the Delacroix manor for a third time.
Idelle recieved the adventurers gracefully. Saint and Idelle made small talk while they waited for tea. Once Saint’s tea was prepared to his liking, he handed Idelle the letter claiming she was supplying the Iron Circle with reagents to summon demons. Idelle denied doing any such thing. Then, the adventurers turned their attention to Idelle’s bodyguard, Kai Lang. “We can stop playing games now, we know who you are and who you work for,” said Lucas. “Shut up and die,” retorted Lang. Over Idelle’s protests, battle was joined.
The adventurers rained arrows, lightning, and fire upon Kai Lang. He dodged some blows and absorbed others. He advanced upon the paladin. Saint managed to deflect some blows, but the ones that landed carried more than just steel. Kai Lang’s blade was coated in poison. Within only a few seconds Saint’s heart stopped, and Lucas lay unconscious as well. Kai Lang’s triumphs were not without cost however. Wounds covered his body and his breath came in ragged gasps. He turned to taunt the survivors over the death of their friends, but the words never left his mouth. “Shut up!” yelled Maximilien, as he loosed an arrow towards the man. The arrow pierced his throat, and Kai Lang collapsed, his lifeforce ebbing into the ground. The battle was over, but at great cost.
“What have you done?” asked Idelle. “As soon as the Iron Circle finds out, they will kill my father, my mother, and everyone here. We have no time; we must leave at once, and rescue him before the messengers from the Iron Circle arrive. I will make preparations.” With that Idelle left the room. The survivors debated whether she was leading them into a trap, but decided to go with her. First though, Pontermercy had to be warned, and Saint’s body needed to be taken to the Temple of Torm. As the adventurers prepared to exit the Delacroix manor, they saw the household staff leaving as well, their belongings on their backs. A few carried Idelle’s bedridden mother out on a litter. Another servant informed them that horses were waiting for them. Idelle was against informing Pontmercy, and claimed that the Iron Circle had spies among the guard. Keryassa insisted, but agreed to go by herself to attract less attention. Everyone else headed to the Temple of Torm on Saint’s final journey.