Grand Duke Ravengard, from The Plot, is writhing on the ground. He grasps at his head, unable to pry off the cursed helm. His screams of agony fill the chamber, making it almost impossible to focus on anything else.
The Herd focuses on looting. There are plenty of corpses, including the minotaurs that came through that weird portal.
Sleipnir recalls his arcane histories on minotaur lore and demon lore and hell lore. Apparently this Baphomet demon lord is an evil entity over minotaurs… but Sleipnir be damned (he is) if he recognizes the social contractual allegiance declaring authority to this autocratic entity! Did Baphomet come visit him when he died twice? Nooo! It was Brom all the way! Internet bullshit is “bull” first, “shit” second, and Sleipnir is made of both!
The sneaky minotaur spreads a rumor that Baphomet can turn non-minotaur followers into minotaurs. Baphominotaurs! A heretical idea to these purists! They got their minotaurism the clean, natural way! The Herd spits.
Guided by the Blade of Ahn-Nuruta, Tallest amputates the legs from the minotaur corpses so that they may forever be shorter than he is.
Sleipnir finally notices the Grand Duke and asks his scythe, “What happens when we cut him?”
“Don’t cut his legs off!” Sfiros shouts, keeping precise count of the current limb-chopping.
“My scythe said he is useful,” Sleipnir pouts. The sorcerer pokes at the Duke, each time eliciting a scream.
After the fifth or sixth scream, Tallest orders Ellison to carry the Duke upstairs to Gideon Magician.
The Herd leaves the crypt beneath the chapel and reunites with Gideon and his little roach buggy buddies.
“I no longer sense the incursion from these DEMONS!” Gideon cries out.
“He says ‘demons’ like someone that you would be friends with, Sfiros of Gond,” Caeus laughs.
“What does that mean?” Sfiros asks.
“I don’t know, the people who say ‘DEMONS’ are usually your type,” Caeus says.
“You mean religious fanatics?!” Sfiros screams. “How dare you. I’m not a fanatic, I’m just really devoted to Gond.”
“Didn’t you eat iron?” Caeus asks. “You still have some guy’s tooth.”
“I made him do that,” the Blade of Ahn-Nunurta laughs at Tallest’s side. Even swords like a good chuckle every now and then, especially swords who were once demonic entities who had fully infested a prominent church.
“Do you know how to get this helm off?” Tallest asks the magician, pointing at the still-struggling Duke and his still-attached helm.
Gideon examines the helm of Zanzibar stuck to the Duke. “It’s cursed. Any acolyte at the cathedral would know how to remove it. I cannot use that type of magic because I am undead.”
“I’ve never encountered a gingerbread man,” Sfiros says.
“What?” Gideon responds.
“How did you die?” Tallest asks instead.
Gideon faces out the window and stares at the sphere of damnation lurking in the sky. “I died when the Black Star collapsed on the city. When Kinchasa was dragged to hell, I found my soul still walking, still treading this world,” Gideon says wistfully. “It seems my magic worked on myself. I am still here, a loyal servant to Kinchasa.”
This is all the reassurances the Herd needs to fully trust Gideon Magician, the undead necromancer.
Harken spreads some hay and casts his tiny corral again, and they pile in for the night. The space is cramped, the air is hot, the noise from Grand Duke Ravengard shouting in jibberish is cacophonous, and the company is lousy. But after their first day in hell, the Herd sleeps through it all.
The next morning they feel stronger. On a scale of 1 to 20, they feel like a 6… which is a suitable number for something hellish!
They decide to really make themselves at home in this chapel. Caeus sets up a workshop to infuse more items. Sfiros hangs up holy symbols and ‘corrects’ Gideon’s books critical of Gond. Tallest and Sleipnir find two mezzoloth exoskeletons as a prize.
The nearest window is also the largest. They crash through it because they don’t want to go through the door, and they find a massive, ominous pit outside.
The pit has no discernable bottom, and necromantic energies emanate out of the hole.
Tallest throws one of the mezzoloth exoskeletons in the pit. Nothing happens.
“What are you doing with my pit?” Gideon screams as he storms outside.
“Nothing,” Sleipnir lies and hides the other exoskeleton.
“This is my undead pit!” Gideon shouts about his pit. “Throw dead things in, something else comes out. Those exoskeletons aren’t dead, they’re just skin,” Gideon laughs. “I need to find more bodies to refresh my fortifications that someone destroyed.”
“How about this,” Tallest proposes. “There are three legless Baphominotaurs downstairs. If we bring them to your pit, you make them zombies, but we get to keep one.”
Gideon’s eyes flash in amusement. “Deal,” he says.
Tallest and the Anacos brothers eagerly retrieve the Baphominotaur corpses from the chapel basement. They toss the bodies into the pit while Sfiros chants about something being an abomination.
“It will take an hour,” Gideon says.
Ellison frowns. The Herd ignores the writhing Duke Ravengard from The Plot and shrugs. “We’ve got an hour,” they moo, fully distracted by this side quest.
An hour later, Gideon’s house is fully redecorated to the worship and praise of Gond. Skeletal zombie Baphominotaurs emerge from the hole, eager to serve their master as best they can while struggling around on their nubby legs.
“You can have that one,” Gideon points at the most normal Baphominotaur. “If you promise to use him to fight DEMONS!”
“Moo,” the Baphominotaur says, so the Herd names him Moonion.
They wave farewell to Gideon, expecting an easy stroll to the cathedral haha fuck no I got like d10 random encounters in this section and I didn't read them all for them to not be used!
On the way back, Tallest accidentally spots demon ghasts eating a family, meaning they probably have a random encounter to randomly defeat.
“They’re already dead,” Sfiros tries to avoid the fight.
“This is exactly what we promised to fuck with,” Caeus says. “I’m going to try something.” A cannon the length of his arm pops out of his power armor. A blast of shatter immediately explodes from the cannon, zapping the ghasts and triggering the sphere of damnation.
An explosion of predictable fury erupts from the sphere, scattering and enraging the feasting ghasts.
Everyone has to fight at least one, even Moonion.
A ghast sneaks up on the sneaky character, Sleipnir.
“Ah!” Sleipnir screams, slapping it with a shocking grasp.
Again, the sphere erupts in fury and blasts the point between Sleipnir and the ghast.
“I forgot!” Sleipnir cries as the lightning fries everything around him.
Caeus thunderpunches another ghast. The sphere is disappointed as it strikes again, killing the ghast. Caeus’s armor absorbs the lightning, storing it for later.
With all the ghasts dead, they find a live human child for Sleipnir to talk to.
Ellison intervenes, taking the child under her protection.
“I’m here, too!” Lulu says as she flies up to calm the child.
“You didn’t help at all during that fight!” Sleipnir says. “You’re the worst guide here!”
“At least I didn’t blast us with lightning!” Lulu screams. “Look at this house! You struck it with lightning!”
They bicker all the way back to the catacombs.
“Was that one of you?” Pherria frowns at Moonion as the herd enters the place beneath the cathedral where everyone is hiding. “What is that?!”
“Moonion,” Sleipnir says.
“We’re keeping it,” Tallest says.
Pherria stares at them. “Can you keep it outside?”
Moonion drops Ravengard on the ground like a bag of chicken wire and waits outside.
“He’s cursed or something,” Sleipnir points at the Duke.
The acolyte examines the helm of Zanzibar and nods. “We’ll need to perform the Ritual of Returning. I’ll need some help.”
“We’re help,” Caeus shrugs.
“Can you carry out a ritual of Tyr?” Pherria asks.
The Herd pushes Ellison forward and nominates Sfiros as a backup.
Pherria, Ellison, and Sfiros drag Ravengard to the altar of Tyr, an anvil below a massive raised hammer.
“Pray to Tyr,” Pherria commands. Ellison lowers her head in prayer. Sfiros mumbles stuff about Gond.
“A physical symbol is needed for this ritual,” Pherria says. “Do you have anything to symbolize courage and self-sacrifice?”
Sfiros produces his iron eating tooth.
“What… is this?” Pherria asks.
“It is a symbol of courage and my devotion to my god. I sacrificed a lot to have this tooth,” Sfiros says.
“He ate a lot of iron,” Caeus adds.
The Blade of Ahn-Nunurta laughs.
Pherria takes the tooth and places it on the altar next to Ravengard. “I’ve never done this before,” she admits.
Holy radiance of Tyr glows out of the altar. The cathedral rumbles and shakes, and the altar grows brighter around the tooth and the Duke.
The hammer above the altar moves, quivers, then smashes the Duke repeatedly in the head!
“The devil has been beaten from him!” Pherria says.
“Yay!” Sleipnir says. “Is he dead?”
Cling cling cling…
The helm of Zanzibar clatters to the ground.
“Am I back at the cathedral?” the Duke comes to quickly, leaning up and rubbing his head.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Caeus asks.
“Minotaurs!” Ravengard shouts. “Children of Baphomet!”
“No, we’re the Herd,” the Herd moos.
Ravengard sees Lulu, who is also there.
“You,” he says. “When I put on the helm, I had a vision. I saw you. With a Hellrider, like her.” The Duke points to Ellison. “I saw her with a bright, gleaming sword. I saw bird people, vehicles… and violence.”
“I remember!” Lulu remembers remembering. “The Hellrider was Yael, Zariel’s second. The three of us deployed Zariel’s sword and hid it away. If we can get her sword, we can save Kinchasa! We can save–” Lulu remembers something else. “Chukka and Clonk! Fort Knucklebone! We need to go to Fort Knucklebone! There’s just one problem.”
“What’s the problem?” Sfiros asks.
“It’s five hundred feet below us and then miles that-a-way,” Lulu says, pointing ten miles that-a-way. “Kinchasa is shackled up here with these malevolent chains. And there are armies of devils and demons down there.”
“I’ve got feather fall on this thing,” Caeus points to his power armor.
“I’ll stay here and protect Kinchasa,” Ellison says. “I’m dedicated to Tyr, but I’m contractually obligated to serve Kinchasa.”
“Good thinking,” Duke Ravengard says, drawing his sword and standing with Pherria. “We shall rally a defense to keep any of the villains from encroaching upon this city. Besides, four minotaurs and a tiefling would blend in much better in the wastelands of hell than us holy knights.”
Sfiros finds a forge to fix the ripper plate armor from a few episodes ago. He donates his old splint armor to Ellison, and Caeus infuses the new armor with a mind sharpener.
The Herd group prays at Tyr’s altar to restore their health and grant them good fortunes on their journey.
“Have you heard of the Herd?” Caeus prays sarcastically.
<Yes,> Tyr replies. <Save the city. Save Uul’valaar!>