BQ-75: Ascent out of Candlekeep

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

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Tasha’s Kiss is no longer under the big tent, and the magical pageant wagon is not on the Material Plane. In its place, there are slightly fewer than 53 local villagers, 350 bonus villagers, and the Herd.


Crowded under a circus tent, the recently regurgitated people have been traumatized, as most regurgitated people are. Have you even SEEN Anaconda (1997)? Jon Voight got straight up eaten by a snake, swallowed up, then puked out in front of J Lo and Ice Cube. He’s all falling on his knees and bumping into her midriff and shit, winking with all the stomach juice on him, begging her to dump a bucket of Pepto on him.


Nasty moment, right?


Now imagine that but times like 400 people, and some of those people got vines for arms and legs and necks and butts, and some of those people aren’t even people because that clown bitch preyed on tons of civilizations over many years, their homes spanning across all walks of planar existence. Old squabbles start popping up between classic enemies: dwarves bully elves, humans punt gnomes, and a group of surly ogres lash out at everyone. Panic kicks off in the circus tent as everyone loses their shit.



The tent sways and wobbles, threatening to collapse under the violence of the confused mob.


Tallest springs into action and shouts in every language he knows, “Stop your bickering and help me with this tent!”


His command goes over everyone’s heads, and he’s promptly ignored because nobody acknowledges the ruling supremacy of the heightly privileged.


“Oy, listen to the cunt,” Harken the cop yells. Enough people obey to avert the disaster.


WIth the tent stabilized, the Herd examines the crowd. The diverse races of peoples display a complementary range of emotions. Some are subdued, some are annoyed, some are angry, but most are just freaking out, man.


One person snarls from the back of the tent and spreads large leathery black wings. Oh shit, that isn’t a person. That’s a juvenile baby black dragon! The ferocious creature flutters back and forth, unable to find a way out of the tent. The dragon shrieks in frustration and confusion, threatening to douse the whole tent in its own stomach acid.


Double yuck!


Sfiros of Gond, ever the devout minotaur, prepares to slaughter a child. “Do we have to kill that?”


“It wants a way out of this tent, and it’s not finding it,” Tallest says. “We should let it out. I don’t think we should fight it.”


“It could grow up to be super evil,” Sfiros recites a passage of scripture that applies to all sentient creatures.


The Blade of Ahn-Nunurta buzzes at Tallest’s side. “Or it could grow up to remember us, as the ones who let it out of this tent,” Tallest points out.


The scythe Silence hums on Sleipnir’s back. “That’s true,” Sleipnir agrees.


The two minotaurs wielding the cursed weapons—the magical prisons for the Chaos gods’ champions—feel the evil leaking into their souls. Wield not monsters in your weapons, lest the monsters wield you. The malevolent influence fogs their judgement, and they convince the holy cleric of Gond to spare the child’s life.


This is weird.


They dig around looking for the tent’s exit flap, which turns out is the same as the entrance flap, and they hold it open for the dragon to get out.


“They have long memories,” Sleipnir adds, watching the dragon soar. “They’re like elephants with wings.”


The black dragon hears this among the cacophony. He twists toward Sleipnir and sussurates, caustic acid drizzling from its maw, “What did you call me!?”


“It’s a minotaur thing, sir,” Caeus tries. “It’s respectful.”


“We revere elephants!” Sfiros puts in. “They’re even bigger than we are.”


“You worship elephants!?” the dragon hisses.


Revere more than worship,” Sfiros clarifies.


“Respect and admire,” Caeus adds.


“We appreciate them for their size,” Sfiros says.


“They’re mighty and they’re herbivores,” Caeus says. “Which we like.”


“And their face horns,” Sleipnir adds, touching his mouth.


The Herd moos in agreement.


The juvenile black dragon huffs and flutters through the tent’s exit flap as the Herd holds it open.


“What’s your name?” Sfiros shouts.


“Can you write it down?” Caeus asks as Tallest pulls out his autograph book to a fresh, blank page.


“I don’t have any dragons in this book yet, and I hope to have a whole page worth,” Tallest beams.


“What makes you desire a dragon’s sign!?” the dragon asssks. We put a lot of S’s in that dialogue tag to let you know it’s real hissy when it talks!


“We want proof that we met you,” Sfiros says.


“My name is Hexagrysttl,” the dragon hisses back.


The Herd moos in enthusiasm.


Caeus chuckles and points a finger at Sfiros, “He changed his name to ‘Sfiros of Gond,’ when it could have been ‘Hexagrysttl’ this whole time?!”


The flattery stops the dragon mid flight. “It is a glorious name, but only for a glorious dragon,” Hexagrysttl sssays. “I am the son of Grysttl’kurd, Great Annihilator.”


The Herd moos in awe.


“I will let my father know that you helped me,” Hexagrysttl bows in the air, “and that flying elephants are sacred among your people.” The juvenile black dragon flies off into the air, never to be seen again maybe.



“We’re the Herd, by the way!” Tallest shouts to the dragon’s back.


The hundreds of remaining townsfolk, cityfolk, hamletfolk, cavefolk, and native-inhabitantfolk stampede the exit, bottlenecking past the Herd.


“We’re the Herd, by the way,” Tallest says as the mob storms out. “Refugees are welcome at Baldur’s Gate, about a day’s ride north. You will find refuge and honest work.” Tallest turns to the Herd. “We need laborers for our Dis-Missives and other business ventures.”


The people storm out of the circus tent, most of them ignoring the minotaurs entirely.


A few of the people meander in the nearby village, picking up their old lives. But many of them still have plantlike tentacles replacing their body parts.


Caeus hands them pamphlets of what he knows about genetics, because of course he has those with him. “You can probably breed this out in a couple of generations if you’re careful.”


“If the body parts were replaced like that, it probably doesn’t pass down through the generations,” Tallest points out.


“Depends,” Caeus says. “It could have magically altered their DNA. These could be magically genetically modified tentacles.”


“Is that what your pamphlet says?” Tallest demands. “‘Magic did it’?”


“It did!” Caeus argues. “A clown. A real clown. Not someone dressed up like a clown, a real clown did this!”


As they debate genetics, the hundreds of folk run around in chaos. Families huddle together for protection. Grifters trespass homes. Various humanoids scatter over the hills. Some people find pitchforks and try to defend their property.


Everything is fine.


Until the Herd notices strangers pilfering through their cart and horses.


“There will be no pilfering of our stuff,” Sfiros declares.


“No, nonono,” Caeus moos. He charges a goblin thief. The goblin dodges away, and Caeus’s horns get wedged in the cart.


The goblin thieves scurry away mumbling, “I don’t want a cart if it’s got a minotaur stuck in it.”


Ellison, Falaster, and Gentry are back in the story now, and they walk up to the cart and see Caeus sticking out of it. They were just standing off to the side for a while, you know. Ellison and Falaster were, at least. Gentry was off playing. They sent him off to play for a bit. For no reason at all.


“What happened?” Ellison asks. “Where did all these people come from?”


“They came from behind that door,” Sfiros fills them in on the last episode.


“That’s a shitload of people,” Falaster says, looking at the shitload of people.


“TA-DA!” Sleipnir adds. “And for my next trick, I’m going to spit acid out of my mouth.” Sleipnir spits one point of acid damage on the ground.


“Did you find the townspeople?” Ellison glances at the tentacled folk. “They look a little different.”


“This is what happens when you clown around,” Caeus jokes.


They send Gentry Holl back to his mom. Another job well done. Xp please?


They short and tall rest, and Harken serenades them with his rat flute. Without helping anyone else, they abandon the restless mob to figure it out for themselves.

The Herd continues down the road to Candlekeep.


“Oy, that’s where me mum's from,” Harken mumbles.


“Tell us more about her, Harken,” Tallest says. “What should we expect?”


“I’ll tell you in about thirty minutes or so,” Harken says.


“Deal!” Tallest says. “But don’t dodge. You have to answer the question.”


“And you can’t pretend to not know what we’re talking about when we bring it up next time,” Sfiros adds.


“Fair’s fair,” Harken agrees.


They travel for four days, and each day the weather on the coast worsens. Dark clouds release heavy rain until the roads are thick with mud. They trudge on, passing friendly northbound caravans.


On the fifth day, the rain subsides, but the dark clouds remain. They come to a path branching toward the sea. A raven perches solemnly on a leaning post bearing two signs that point like arms to the west. One says ‘The Way of the Lion,’ the other says ‘Candlekleep.’


In the distance, they see the massive library fortress, its chthonic towers emerging high from the mountain. Spires pierce low clouds, and overhead a pair of griffons bearing riders soar towards the tallest of the towers.



Falaster and Harken, being the only ones who have been here before, lead the Herd up the high pass and into the front gate of the castle. At the gatehouse, they’re greeted by three monks in purple robes: a human, a shield dwarf, and a sun elf. They each wear the symbol of Deneir around their necks, a lit candle above an open eye.


“Welcome to Candlekeep,” says the elf in common. “A gift is required for admittance. You must donate a book or scroll that isn’t already in the library’s archive.”


Caeus hands over the smut book Fifty Shades of Ulfire.


The elf flips through the book, intrigued. “We definitely don’t have this in our library! This will have to go in our forbidden texts,” he says, sneaking it into his pocket.


The monks knock on the gate, and the portcullis opens. Inside the keep, the Herd sees a massive courtyard with multiple stairs. Fountain sculptures of angels and griffons splash cool mountain dew in the late Vengeance air.


The entire castle is self-sufficient, filled with various shops and homes. Every person they see is reading something, transfixed by the written word.


The Herd decides to stop at the first bar they find to get Harken a drink before he faces his mum. A prominent establishment called ‘The Hearth’ is as good a place as any.


Falaster steps inside and takes in the familiar setting. “This place is always open, and the fire never goes out.”


“Is it a continuous flame kind of fire?” Sfiros palms his flaming Symbol of Gond.


“No, it requires stoking,” Falaster adds.


They spot an ogre at the bar with a flat square hat. He is reading a book and sipping intellectual mead. The ogre is easily ten feet tall—taller than Tallest—so the minotaurs approach him to pay proper respects.


“Hello, friend, can I buy you a drink?” Tallest asks.


The ogre looks up from his book and over his glasses. “Sure, I do not mind, tall one.” He holds his hand out to shake. “You can call me Little One.”


“Is your name really Little One?” Sfiros of Gond asks.


“Yes, I adopted the name myself,” Little One smiles.


“I love it. Very big of you,” Tallest says.


“I like that. ‘Very big of you.’” Little One smiles.


They order their drinks, and Little One begins his tale.


“A few years ago, I was an ogre like many others of my kind: brutish and cruel,” Little One explains. “But then I met a little Halfling adventurer wearing this bright hat. I killed him for it. When I attuned to it, it grew in size allowing me to don it. And then, suddenly, I knew things."



The ogre's eyes glisten with empathy and regret. He pauses, considering his life before and his life now.


"I learned the error of my ways, and had to seek out a better life," Little One continues. "I adopted the name Little One to honor the Halfling whose life I cut short."


"What a beautiful story," Sfiros smiles. “It’s a pity that we can’t relate to your story about a regretful murder.”


“Some of us can!” Tallest cries.


"Dur-Dur-Dur has a hat like that," Caeus says. "Have you met Dur-Dur-Dur?"


"Yes," Little One wipes away a tear, and his mood brightens. "I met him here. He kept telling the bartender how to run the bar. She had to run him out!"


The Herd laughs and nods.


"I wonder where he got a book to get in?” Sfiros ponders.


“They shelved his book in the 5th Archive, Shelf H, Row 124,” Little One recites, squinting his eyes.


They chat and drink with Little One for a while longer. He points out his favorite study halls, workshops, and spas.


When Harken is finally liquored up enough, they ask him again about his mum.


“42,” Harken says.


“You promised you’d remember,” Caeus says.


“That’s the thing… the mum…” Harken trails off. “Sylvira Beremon. She’s kind of a hard bitch. And a researcher here at Candlekeep.”


“What’s she research?” Caeus asks. “Why’s she going to be good at puzzlecubing?”


“She’s big on the Abyss and the Nine Hells,” Harken says. “You know. Puzzle cubes. Demonic shit like that.”


“Let’s go see her!” Caeus puts in.


Harken shrugs and stumbles over drunk. “No reason not to, right?”


The drunken bard leads them through the labyrinthine library castle with Falaster Fisk correcting Harken at nearly every turn.


The towering edifice houses hundreds of monks, wizards, and scholars. The archives hold uncounted thousands of books, scrolls, and tablets. They pass a weird array of researchers, scribes, and pupils. Everywhere they turn they discover a new form of learning, becoming less the Herd and more the Nerd.


You get it you see I made a little pun with their name and the books and


FInally, Falaster shows them a door with a brass plate inscribed ‘Beremon.’


“Oy, I think this is it,” Harken says, reading his own name. He fumbles through his keys and opens the door to his mother’s sanctum.


The walls of this circular tower are punctuated with arched, shuttered windows. Bookcases filled with eldritch volumes stand between the windows, while tables cluttered with specimen jars and alchemical equipment are cluttered in the haphazard arrangement of a disconnected scientist.


Engraved on the floor of the chamber is a large, nine-pointed star. Perched on the corner of the table nearby is a spindly little demon with warty green skin, wide buggy eyes, and a sharp pointed tail. It purrs at the Herd as they enter.


A middle-aged tiefling woman dressed in wizardly robes stands by a window. She’s caught in a fugue of intense contemplation. Though draped in billowy fashion, her stern cheekbones and wide shoulders give away that she is far from weak-bodied, and her mass of curly hair towers in a messy bun between her proud horns.


The tiefling woman looks up from her thoughts and sees her son. “I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see you,” she says, her eyes assessing her guests in a calculating scan. “What else have you brought me?”


“Your favorite only son?” Harken suggests.


“How long has it been?” Harken’s mum asks him.


Harken considers this. “Three years? Maybe?”


His mum also hasn’t been keeping track. “Don’t forget to say hello to your father.” She points to a wicked halberd mounted on a display rack above the door.


“Hey, Dad, you’re looking very sharp,” Harken says to the halberd.


He receives no response.


“We’re the Herd, by the way,” Caeus interrupts. “We’re with Harken.”


Harken reacts the way they usually do about him. “Hold up, hold up. ‘With me’ is a strong assumption there, mates. Mum, these are my associates. They call themselves the ‘erd.”


Sylvira Beremon, interrupted from serious concentration, considers this. She ponders the most succinct and inspired way to tell her son and his friends to go to Hell. But someone else piques her interest.


“You, Hellrider?” Sylvira points at Ellison.


“I am a Hellrider of Kinchasa,” Ellison says, stepping forward.


“Kinchasa?” Sylvira frowns. “I’ve been suspicious of Manzibar Kreeg. He made all citizens of Kinchasa to swear an oath called the Creed Resolute, which binds them to defend Kinchasa.”


Ellison, Hellrider of Kinchasa and Oath of Devotion paladin, nods. “Yes, that was done.”


“I met him years ago, and my instincts told me he was a charlatan,” Sylvira says. “I suspected he cut a deal with one or more powerful devilish creatures. I wish to prove my theory. I believe the evidence is locked away in—”


“In something like a puzzle cube?” Caeus interrupts.


“Precisely,” Sylvira nods. “Where is it?”


“First, you have to tell us some things,” Tallest says. “What’s inside?”


“She just told us what’s inside,” Sfiros says, not listening.


“Oh, ok, open it then,” Tallest says, also not listening.


“I don’t know that yet,” Sylvira Beremon sputters in astonishment at the insolence. She has never experienced anything like it until—


“Wait,” Caeus interrupts. “We need to prove this is the real lady before we give up our puzzle cube.”


The Herd moos in agreement.


“Lady, ask your son something only Harken would know,” Caeus says.


Sylvira glares at the minotaurs and turns to her son. “How did your father die?”


Harken has not read the backstory he wrote. “Would Harken remember this?” he asks his mum.


“Yes,” she says.


“Then I would say, my dad died crossing somebody on the Syndicate,” Harken decides.


The halberd in the back of the room gives an aura of affirmation.


This is good enough for the Herd. Nothing unusual about weapons possessed by souls.


Sylvira eagerly takes the puzzle cube, flips it around, and examines the exterior. She furrows her brow and says to her demon familiar, “Jezebel, go fetch the flask with the dark liquid.”


The demon happily obeys, itself eager and curious to see what mysteries they can riddle out of the puzzle cube.


Sylvira examines a maze on one surface of the cube. “I’ve seen these mazes before,” she admits. “They match the mazes of the Chultan deity, Pretzelcoatl”



She pours a drop of the liquid on the maze surface. A single black bead forms inside the maze, following the contours of the tiny labyrinth.


Eventually, the box begins to unfold. Nine chain-linked plates, cast of dark iron and stamped with infernal runes, rise up out of the puzzle cube.


“What is that little cur?” Caeus points at the demon familiar that’s been there the whole time.


“That’s Jezebel,” Sylvira sighs.


“I like him,” Caeus says.


Sylvira turns back to the demonic runes escaping the puzzle cube. She reads over the infernal document, frowns, and hands it to Harken.


Harken reads for everyone, “Be it known to all that I, Thavius Kreeg, Zanzibar of Kinchasa, have sworn to my master, Zariel, Lord of Avernus, to keep the agreements contained in this oath. I hereby submit to Zariel in all matters and for all time. I will place her above all creatures, living and dead. I will obey her all my days and beyond with fear and servility.


“I recognize the dispensation of the device called the Black Star, hereafter called the Sphere of Damnation. In my capacity as Manzibar of Kinchasa and its vassal territories, I acknowledge that all lands falling under the shadow of the Sphere of Damnation are forfeit to Zariel. All persons bound by oath to defend Kinchasa are also considered forfeit. Upon its emergence, the Sphere of Damnation will return whence it came, taking Kinchasa and its oath-bound defenders with it, if that is Zariel’s wish.


“All this is my everlasting pledge… signed, Thavius Kreeg.”


Ellison, Hellrider, sworn by oath to protect Kinchasa, faints immediately.


“Did she just die again?” Sfiros asks. He turns to Sylvira. “She’s died once before.”


“This knight of the Hellriders has died before?” Sylvira repeats.


“And went to Hell!” Caeus adds helpfully.


“If she saw Hell upon her death,” Sylvira points to the runes upon the nine plates. “Thavius Kreeg has sworn all the souls of Kinchasa to Zariel, who is now Lord of Avernus.”


“Seems like he shouldn’t be able to swear other people’s souls away,” Caeus says.


Sfiros of Gond gently slaps Ellison awake.


“I’m going to be sick,” Ellison panics. The realization that the Creed Resolute, which pledged her to Kinchasa, is damning her to serve Zariel in Hell overwhelms her.


While the Herd calms Ellison down, Sylvira notices the scythe Silence that Sleipnir is carrying.


“Don’t touch my scythe, lady!” Sleipnir screams.


“I’m not here to take it,” Sylvira says. “That scythe is a symbol of good’s triumph over evil. The force bound within was a demon sent by Azmodeus to corrupt mortals on the material plane and to mass a following to rival gods. Rotund’jere, he is called.”


“Round Jerry,” Caeus corrects her.


“In that way, he is his own demigod. Having worshippers increased his power. My, how the mighty have fallen,” Sylvira smirks at the evil trapped within the scythe. “That scythe has the power to corrupt everything around it. The Hune family has kept it in Baldur’s Gate for years now. Doubtless, they’ll want it back. But this scythe should not be taken to any place where thousands of mortals reside. It should be locked away in interdimensional space, away from any corruptible souls.”


Sleipnir’s Silence says more than words ever could with its muteness. I don’t know how that makes sense, but it just does!


“Do you know where we could find one of these dimensions we could trap the soul in?” Tallest asks.


Sylvira ignores his question and points to his scimitar, the Blade of Ahn-Nunurta. “That’s a beautiful weapon you have there. ‘Gargauth’ is the name I’m hearing echoing in it.”


“What’s he saying?” Tallest asks.


Sylvira listens closer. “It says if you take it to the Nine Hells, it swears to serve you faithfully as both a guide and an advisor.”


“Deal. I believe that,” Tallest says immediately.


“A small part of me will be relieved if you take this down to the Hells where it belongs,” Sylvira exhales, finally telling these fuckers to go Hell.


“I’m not going to Hell, lady,” Tallest says. “I just wanted to find out what was in that puzzle cube. And I found out. Now give me a new mission.”


Sylvira tries again. “The Black star that wiped out Kinchasa… I’ve only heard of the Sphere Damnation appearing on two other occasions. Once, it appeared when Dendar fought Guja. The most recent appearance was when it was condemning the city of Omu. The only person who can control the Sphere of Damnation is the lich Acererak.”


Silence fills the room.


No, not Silence silence. Real silence. But Silence silence is in the room at this particular time.


“Sounds like a real nerd,” Caeus spits.


“Why would Acererak want Kinchasa sent to Hell?” Sylvira ponders. “But who am I to wonder what a lich would want? No one has seen him since the heroes of Chult fought him. If there’s a Sphere of Damnation, then he’s up to his evil plots again. That means Kichasa is not gone, it is trapped in Avernus: the outermost plane of the Nine Hells. The Sphere of Damnation must be destroyed. That I don’t know how to do. I do know powering the sphere requires a soul of a powerful, noble, good heart.”


Sylvira turns to Sleipnir and shudders.


“How badly do you want to be heroes?” Sylvira asks.


“Yeah,” the Herd moos. “Pretty badly.”


Sylvira Beremon turns her tiefling gaze toward Sfiros of Gond and says, “Holy one, what makes you want to be a hero?”


“I want to bring glory to Gond,” Sfrios says.


“Tall one, what makes you want to be a hero?” Sylvira asks.


This has never occurred to Tallest before. “Respect? Because I’m tall.”


“Metal one, what makes you want to be a hero?” Sylvira asks.


“I’m always down to clown and fight some demons,” Caeus shrugs. “What’s the point of making thunderfists if I don’t get to punch something?”


This satisfies Sylvira.


“Plus merch,” Caeus adds. “Probably above all merch.”


“Dirty one, what makes you want to be a hero?” Sylvira asks.


“I already am a hero!” Sleipnir pouts.


“Son one, what makes you want to be a hero?” Sylvira asks.


“Me mum’s approval?” Harken tries to say. “No, I couldn’t give two fucks about that.”


Pause.


“Welp,” Harken moves on.


“If you’re going to Avernus, I can give you this,” Sylvira hands them a map.


The Herd is astonished that this woman legitimately has a map of hell.


Sylvira shrugs. “I’m part devil.”


“Question on that point,” Sfiros says. “Why do you have a demon?”


“Oh, that little thing?” Sylvira frowns. “He’s my son.”


The Herd moos.


“Can we take your husband into Hell with us?” Sfiros asks.


Sylvira snaps her fingers, and the halberd disappears from the display above the wall, reappearing in Harken Beremon’s hands.


“Mum says not to take you to any more whorehouses like last time,” Harken says.


“Getting to Avernus is difficult,” Sylvira says. “I cannot go there. If I go there, I will be unable to leave.”


“Why?” Caeus asks.


“Because my soul belongs to a devil down there,” Sylvira says matter-of-factly.


The Herd bombards her with personal questions.


“Do you need a devil killed?” Sfiros beams. “That sounds like the kind of thing we would like to do.”


“Fair enough,” Sylvira says. “I had to make a deal with Arkhan the Cruel.”


“Is he at the place marked ‘Arkhan’s Tower’ on this map?” Caeus asks.


“Yes,” Sylvira nods, relieved that the Herd can at least read a little bit.


“Right next to the ‘Monument to Tiamat!’” Caeus exclaims.


“We can tell Tiamat about our new friend Hexagrysttl!” Sfiros says.


“If you meet Arkhan, he likes to make deals,” Sylvira warns. “I had to find out who killed Ezekial, my youngest son.”


“Bat’s gone crazy,” Harken says. “Ain’t no other son, just me.”


Sylvira slaps Harken.


Caeus slaps him, too.


“It wasn’t a fucking invitation!” Harken holds his face.


“That is no way to speak of the dead!” Sylvira snaps at Harken.


“I would know if I had a little brother,” Harken shakes his head.


“Harken, you’ve talked about your brother,” Sfiros says.


“Yeah, you called him a pervert,” Tallest points out.


“I have no recollection of calling anyone a pervert,” Harken says.


“You called him a ‘purple-haired freak,’” Sfiros says.


You said he died in a pile of ashes, and they identified him with his cock ring,” Tallest says.


“What kind of pervert—” Harken tries.


“Totally normal to be identified by your cock ring,” Caeus adds.


“I truly don’t remember any little brother,” Harken says.


Sylvira sighs and tries, once again, to tell her son and his fucking friends to go to Hell.


“A wizard named Traxagor lives in a tower twenty miles from here. I’ve loaned him a spellbook or two, so he owes me a favor. He can use a plane shift spell to take you straight to Kinchasa.”


And straight to Hell, she doesn’t say.


“Even more importantly, Traxagor is tending to a friend of mine,” Sylvira continues. “Someone with a history of battling devils in the Nine Hells. Her name is Lulu.”


“Send us to Traxagor and to the Nine Hells!” Caeus packs up his things.


“Should we do any research before we go there?” Sfiros looks around at the infernal workshop, and examines the map. “This map of Hell doesn’t have Kinchasa on it. If you were guessing where Kinchasa would go…”


“That’s the fun thing about Hell,” Sylvira says. “The locations are always moving.”


“What?” Sfiros asks.


“There are also no cardinal directions,” Sylvira continues.


“What?” Sfiros repeats. “Old bitch is off her rocker again.”


Sylvira pretends not to hear this. She points the Herd to their preferred focus of research.


Tallest speeds off to peruse over the different types of devils and demons while Caeus analyzes the map, trying to make sense of it all. Sfiros, eager to spread his theocratic knowledge, races through stacks of textbooks covering the deities of Avernus. Sleipnir seeks out any and all rumors, which mostly consists of books featuring succubi and succubi boobies. Harken checks out several scrolls covering the flora and fauna of hell.


This is all a really neat montage that plays to awesome 80’s music.


Together, they meet up and head to the 5th Archive, Shelf H, Row 124 to find Dur-Dur-Dur’s book exactly where Little One said it would be. They find the blank spine of a beat up, battered book. Sleipnir opens the book and sees that it’s full of drawings! These three confuse him the most:



Sfiros takes the soul jars he stole from Tasha’s Kiss to the closest shrine in Candlekeep: a shrine to Ogma. He releases the souls. They wisp out and flutter away, free of all hellish treatment. He feels pretty good about it!


That evening, Sylvira ushers them to a platform with a stunning view of the sea. They meet large griffons with instructions to fly them to Traxagor’s tower.


The griffons take flight through the mountains and to the sea, flying just below the clouds. Tallest feels taller than ever, and none of the others dare to fly their griffons higher than his. The library fortress looks majestic in the air, but grows smaller as they soar westward. Large rocky islands pass below them, and beyond them lies the open sea.


After a long journey, they see a windowless, doorless stone tower, floating in the sky ahead. The griffons pass through jagged holes riddling its conical peak to land on the top floor, which has a staircase spiraling down.


The Herd disembarks, and the griffons fly up to the rafters to rest. They look around and see nowhere else to go but down the stairs of this floating stone keep.


Down the stairs, they find a cluttered chamber illuminated by various objects lit with continual flame. Scurrying around the room is a little otter dressed in a tiny red cassock.


The otter mumbles to itself in common, mentioning something about a tuning fork.


“Are you Lulu?” Sfiros asks with delight.


The otter perks up with its cutesy wootsy feet and takes notice of the Herd. “Lulu, wake up. Our guests have arrived.”


A small elephant with golden fur appears from under a pile of blankets on the table strewn with alchemical equipment. The elephant takes to the air with feathery wings and lets out a loud trumpet sound.


The Herd moos in glee.


This day might be the best day of all days.


“I was saving this for a special occasion,” Caeus pulls out his coconut, breaks it in half, and hands it to the otter and the floating elephant fairy thing. They gobble the coconut eagerly.


Caeus drops to his knees and swears fealty to the otter and the elephant fairy.


“He sure is a friendly one,” the elephant trumpets.


The otter bows and says, “I am Traxagor. I am the wizard of this tower.”


“Hello wise Traxagor,” Sfiros says.


“Sylvira Beremon has sent word you are to go to Hell,” the otter says.


“If that is your bidding, master,” Caeus bows deeper.


“She also instructed us to collect magic items and gold on the way down,” Tallest adds.


“I don’t know if I can give you any of that, but I know someone who would be willing to go with you,” the otter looks at Lulu.


The elephant shoots out her trunk and tweets, then rolls upside down.


<I know how to fight devils and demons. I’ve done it lots of times,> Lulu speaks to them telepathically. <I’m a hollyphant. I don’t remember too much about each time I go down there.>


The Herd hears this in their minds. Delighted, they think-listen to Lulu’s tale.


<I was with the angel Zariel when she assembled her army of Hellriders to attack Avernus,> Lulu thinks. <Through the gates we went, tearing through devils like a song through air. Victory was within our grasp until some of the Hellriders betrayed us. They retreated through the gate and sealed it behind them. Before she was captured, Zariel told me to hide her sword so that it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands. Someone helped me hide it, but I don’t remember who. We found a place to hide it, but I don’t remember where. I escaped Avernus, but I don’t remember how. Most of my memory is gone, and I don’t remember why.>



“I know what symbol is going on our merch when we get back home,” Caeus says.


“Would you like to join our herd, the Herd?” Sfiros asks.


<Yes, I would!> Lulu trumpets in triumph.


“You can get us to Hell easily, right?” Sfiros asks.


“Sure can!” Traxagor starts drawing a circle on the ground.


“Not yet,” Sfiros stops him. “How do we get back?”


Traxagor pauses. He shrugs and mumbles, “I dunno.’ The otter wizard hums happily and draws an arcane circle around the Herd.


Sfiros tries to copy it down, and Caeus makes a note that they might lose their memories.


“And, onward we go!” Traxagor the otter wizard exclaims as he completes the arcane circle.


Immediately, everyone in the room disappears.



< Episode List >

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