Over the night waiting for the ceremony at the Temple, Tessa entertained her guests and showed them her magic circle, used to keep in touch with a soldier she had kept in touch with and with whom she briefly had a romantic fling. Tanien also took the opportunity to explain to the party all about Barbanath, the Occuria, and the Summoning Dagger.
Led by Tessa in the morning, the party attempted to sneak into the temple through the basement, where refugees and impoverished would often spend the night. Along the way, the girl kept close to Veré and repeatedly shapechanged, though the group doesn’t realize why. Needing to pass a guard to enter the temple, Veré disguised himself (polymorphing secretly) to avoid looking like his wanted poster, the rest of the party hooded and feigning fatigue.
Just past the gates, though, the quarters loaned to poor petitioners were found to contain only dead bodies. While Tessa was greatly saddened, Father Cole found the group and he, with his minotaur servant and many summoned demons, set upon the party. They were unsuccessful, but gravely wounded the heroes. Of note is that the minotaur carried a magical axe known as “Rahkas”, which Ul’harr was happy to take off the fallen foe.
Tessa asked to leave, having seen more than she could bear, but while the party excused her, she almost immediately screamed out and was gone, leaving behind her Great Soul and Fragment but no other trace. The party pressed on into the sanctuary to stop the ceremony.
In the central chamber, Barbanath was with several hooded priests around a magic circle. The room was filled with dead gnomes and in the back, Tessa was within a silver cage, and the silvery mirror-like portal seen before when Salamand spoke hung over the room. The hooded figures chanted repeatedly:
Occurian souls of ancient make, young and innocent blood to take
Slain kin of gods with their spirits rent, divine power to mortals sent
As they finished their ritual, killing the last of the gnomes, Tessa cried out and lost consciousness, the mirror cracked and fell to the floor, and Barbanath grew in size and energy. Salamand whispered to the party that he could do little for them but release the suppressed and tainted power within the weapons taken from Fathers Cole and Dorn, the greatsword, crossbow, and greataxe the party now wielded. The overflowing energies also swelled in Tanien’s staff, causing all four weapons to gain limited intelligence and power.
Wasting no further time, the party lunged at Barbanath and fought him and his priests. Using everything at their disposal, every last potion, every healing spell left, even ripping the silver bars from the cage to use as improvised spears, the party fought to the last of their strength. Barbanath fell and the hooded priests fell, but the barghest would not stay down. Relieved of his flesh, his bones rose to summon demons again and resume the fight. In nothing short of a miracle, literally as Tessa awoke to pray to Salamand for what intervention he could offer, the group narrowly managed to slay the would-be god Barbanath and scatter the magics holding him to this world.
Barbanath is truly and finally dead.
Leaving the temple, the party returned to Tessa’s hidden burrow in the woods to recover, the wounds serious enough that even with magic, two days we needed. (60 days). They then called her friend for help. Geoffrey answered the missive, saying he would arrive in a day to bring the group home and help them however he could. (59 days).
Days to Festival: 59 days
Experience: 5325 XP (Party reaches level 6)
Treasure: “Rahkas” intelligent greataxe, “Thoas” intelligent greatsword, “Seriade” intelligent crossbow, “Ur’arca” intelligent quarterstaff, Aesh Fragment, Incendar Soul
Body Count: 1 minotaur, 1 cleric summoner, 5 dretch demons, 1 advanced greater barghest lich “Barbanath”, 6 human priests, 2 whitespawn hoardlings