As large as a building and twice as angry, Haruman manifests above the Brazen Bulls. Rage seethes from the narzugon like fire from a flaming steed. It’s super badass and metal and guitar sounds like “twayayaaaaangYAAAO!” and explosions. He’s all covered in evil, black armor with red stuff blasted all to hell and back. And he’s got a flaming nightmare horse that looks like a camel after I tried to draw it! And the camel horse is flying! It’s probably the baddest of ass things in the whole game.
JUST LOOK AT HIM!
The trees themselves seem to come to life as dozens of mosquito-like stirges swarm angrily off the branches, filling the air with the sound of their wings! You can tell how loud their wings are by the all caps “BZZ!” in the previous paragraph.
“Close in on the interlopers!” Haruman commands.
The stirge swarm descends on the Brazen Bulls like a swarm of mosquito demons on a herd of bovine humanoids. Their mighty proboscides impale Tallest, Harken, Caeus, Sleipnir, Sfiros, and even Lulu, the magical flying hollyphant. They begin draining the adventurers of their precious blood!
They need that blood!
Tallest slices two stirges in half with the Blade of Ahn-Nurunta, the Tzeentch-blade chuckling at the ease of the kills.
Harken aims a lightning bolt into the swarm, and three stirges pop like balloons, spraying stolen blood everywhere.
Caeus casts thunderwave, exploding the nearest five stirges.
Sleipnir twins magic missile, popping six stirges easily.
Sfiros positions himself in the middle of the remaining swarm and casts word of radiance, killing only one stirge.
“Really? One?” Sleipnir judges, then writes Sfiros’ achievement down in a rumor book.
“Why can’t you be more like the evil sorcerer?” Tallest chides Sfiros.
“That’s what you get for trying to cast a holy spell in Hell!” Sleipnir says.
“Sfiros, this is going to tickle a little,” Lulu warns. She floats up and sneezes deadly glitter sparkles over the stirges that survived Sfiros’s spell. Two of them burst in a beautiful explosion equal parts blood and confetti, yet Sfiros remains unharmed because he’s “good of heart.”
“Love it!” Sfiros beams as confetti, glitter, and blood rain down upon him. “That’s amazing!”
“Even the elephant got two!” Sleipnir grumbles.
But the hellmosquitoes aren’t the only hellbugs doing hellthings. As the stirge swarm dissipates, a hellwasp flies into the fray, its bulbous body dwarfing the minotaurs. Tallest embiggens and slashes at it. But the hellwasp ignores the massive minotaur, instead buzzing towards Lulu!
In a fit of rage, the hellwasp stings the celestial elephant, poisoning her with paralysis. The hollyphant drops into the hellwasp’s clutches, and the creature turns to flee from the fight with its prize in hand!
Haruman’s laugh drowns the sounds of the Brazen Bulls’ collective gasp. The warden lashes out a call into the hellscape, his terrifying command frightening Caeus, Sfiros, and Tallest.
“I can be scared,” Caeus shrugs. “I can run.” The armored tinkerer runs through the battlefield and positions himself away from the oversized warden. “Gigantamax battle! Tallest, I choose you!”
Caeus unclips a spherical nanobot from the side of his armor. The nanobot shoots an energy beam at Tallest and transforms into a much larger sphere. With two hands, Caeus tosses the large sphere to cast enlarge on Tallest. New battle music blares from his power armor. Satisfied, Caeus overcomes his fear.
Sleipnir follows his brother’s lead and buffs Tallest with haste.
Sfiros turns away from Haruman and shoots a guiding bolt at the fleeing hellwasp, smattering a critical hit. The hellwasp shrieks, but clutches Lulu tighter and it limps away.
Tallest, frightened, but also embiggened, enlarged, and hasted, stampedes across the field and slashes at the hellwasp. The blade almost misses, but Tallest is tall enough to decide it hits anyway.
It’s super effective.
Tallest catches Lulu and she falls from the fainted monster’s grasp, and he decides he isn’t scared of Haruman anymore, and rushes back to the battle.
With Sfiros’s back turned, Haruman and his flying flaming steed dive the cleric. Just as the horse’s hooves smash into the back of Sfiros’s head, a cloud rune portal opens between Sfiros’s helm and Haruman’s face.
“You must die for us, fucker,” Tallest says.
Haruman cries in rage, terrifying Sleipnir and flailing his fire lance wildly. Sfiros gets smacked in the head, but the cleric’s soul of the forge (of Gond) resists the flames.
Caeus zaps Haruman twice with his lightning launcher. “Go get him, Tallest!” he says and runs behind the fighter.
Near the battlefield, a tree erupts from the ground with a wooden banner that reads ‘CAEUS: ASSAULTING AN OFFICER’ with two tally marks. What is this? Some kind of infernal rap sheet?
Harken thunderwaves the stirges stuck to his limbs, and they explode in a rain of blood.
Sfiros swallows a greater healing potion and casts a shield of faith on himself. He steadies his resolve, turns to face Haruman, and says in minotaur, “You shall not pass!”
Sleipnir upcasts shatter at the warden and his steed. Another tree bursts out of the ground. Its banner says ‘SLEIPNIR: ASSAULTING AN OFFICER’ with one tally mark. If this sort of criminal record system existed back in Baldur’s Gate, Sleipnir would have a whole forest replanted by now!
“Catch, Caeus,” Tallest tosses Caeus the fainted hollyphant and rushes the warden. “Not so scared now, am I?” Tallest taunts. He swings the Blade of Ahn-Nurunta five times, critically hitting once. A tree emerges from the depths of Hell, detailing Tallest’s crimes.
Haruman’s enraged fiery eyes lock with Tallest, and the narzugon heals himself. He dismounts, meeting Tallest face-to-crotch. The flaming steed air-gallops to Sleipnir, the littlest minotaur, meeting him snout-to-hunch.
Sleipnir blocks the incoming charge by casting shield, then misty steps behind his brother. Had he taken the hit, his haste spell would have risked being lost on Tallest, causing the minotaur to be easy pickings for the warden on the hill.
Caeus zaps the horse twice, establishing dominance as a superior ungulate.
Harken drinks a potion of healing, and Sfiros casts spiritual weapon.
“It’s not a stoking tool anymore!” Sfiros exclaims, seeing his spectral Gondish weapon graduated to the form of a blacksmith’s hammer.
Tallest critical hits Haruman with the Blade of Ahn-Nurunta again, and the blade chuckles at Sfiros’ insistence that he doesn’t use stoking tools anymore.
Haruman flails in pain, his fiery lance smacking Sfiros over and over.
“I’m fine,” Sfiros lies, collapsing unconscious. There is no confetti accompanying the spray of blood this time.
Caeus sees Sfiros fall to the ground, right next to Lulu, who he forgot he was responsible for. He does nothing with this information.
Instead, he zaps the steed with a lightning launcher, killing it as it dissipates into a puff of flame and smoke.
“Loot the horse!” Caeus says to no one in particular. “And watch Lulu!” He launches lightning at Haruman.
“I’ve been saving this one,” Sleipnir says. He raises the scythe Silence and through the soul of Rotund’jere, the sorcerer casts vitriolic sphere at Haruman.
Acid explodes over the warden, and Sleipnir hears his scythe laugh and say, “The lesions for the legion.”
Tallest slashes the warden again, and their eyes meet. The warden stabs Tallest twice with his lance, burning the massive minotaur’s relentless endurance.
Caeus sees the huge Tallest with 1 HP, casts sanctuary to protect him, and critical hits Haruman with his lightning launcher.
Harken runs to the fallen Sfiros and wakes him up with cure wounds.
Sfiros, overwhelmed with joy, casts mass healing word on all his friends. To conclude his prayer, Sfiros stares at Haruaman and beams, “I think I want to kill him.”
The cleric of Gond takes out his silvered mace. As he swings it, the mace takes on the form of the blacksmith’s hammer from his spiritual weapon. The hammer smacks the side of Haruman’s head, smashing his skull apart as the fiend crumples to nothingness like that scene in Return of the King!
“Witness me, Lulu!” Sfiros screams instead of “I am no man!” which he also is not!
The hollyphant wakes up to Haruman’s iron trees rusting and withering away in the harsh hellish winds. She witnesses nothing.
The buzz of distant hellwasps grows louder and closer.
“Loot and run!” Sleipnir suggests. The evil sorcerer follows his own advice to the letter: he snatches the fiery steed’s evil magical reins and runs back to the vehicles.
There, the Brazen Bulls find Grubba waiting patiently and quietly like a good little NPC.
“Hey guys, what’s going on?” Grubba asks.
“I hope you’ve got that engine started, because we’re getting out of here,” Tallest says.
“The engine doesn’t turn off, it’s got the soul coin in there,” Grubba shrugs, having left the vehicle in idle during a gas crisis.
Goblin Behnie’s screams of agony funnel through the engine and out the bull contraption, eliciting a moo pleasing to minotaur ears.
Caeus snatches Grubba’s madcap and wipes himself clean, soaking it in plenty of demon ichor to keep the psychopath at bay for a while.
Sfiros pulls out a vial of ichor (do not drink) he’s had since episode 59. The cleric compares it to the demon ichor soaking Grubba’s madcap, and determines they’re a similar variety.
They decide that they had better not drink Grubba’s cap, either.
Lulu decides she wants attention. “I glimpsed into Haruman, and I saw two ways to get the Sword of Zariel,” she says. “We must follow the Path of Devils or the Path of Demons.”
In other words, which ramshackled series of events is the party going to go down in this campaign?
“I call dibs on driving this time!” Sleipnir sneaks into the driver’s seat of the Scavenger.
They venture off, heading through the Path of Devils to the Demonzapper, which Lulu says will have the clue to the next portion of their quest to find Zariel’s sword and save Kinchasa.
After hours of traveling, they feel the Hellish winds change and the sky split open. From the wounded sky, a spaceship the size and shape of a castle descends upon Haruman’s Hill in the distance.
“We should totally turn around,” Sleipnir says.
“Yeah, we should free that. Just like we’re going to free Kinchasa,” Tallest agrees.
“I didn’t know that was a choice for vehicles,” Caeus says. “Otherwise, we definitely should have picked that.”
“Maybe they’ll trade,” Sleipnir says and does a quick U-turn, the beaten up Demon Grinder rattling behind on its chain.
Lulu, desperate for attention again, makes a bunch of weird elephant noises.
“What do you know about this?” Sfiros asks, sensing some serious plot going on.
“It’s Zariel’s Flying Fortress!” Lulu cries.
That is some serious plot!
“Fuck yeah, we can get this done right now!” Sfiros says, ready to take on the endgame boss at level six.
Zariel’s Flying Fortress is a solitary force, a mountain of power. Shaped like a sword blazing through the sky, it cuts through the atmosphere with hellish power. No sane adventurers would confront her without first obtaining the Sword of Zariel. That would be suicide!