Summary: The heroes use the crown to enter the Demon Tower of Tharos. After fighting their way to the top of the tower, they discover the source of the cult’s evil power – and destroy it.
Demon Tower Demolition
Takes place 4th of Uktar (The Rotting) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)
The heroes returned with the Moaning Crown of Ndulu to Impiltur. The civil war between the demon-cult and the forces of the monarchy raged on. The adventurers were saddened to learn of the dismissal of the Brotherhood of the Griffon from the ranks of the monarchy supporters. Apparently, the Brotherhood had been set up by the cult to look like they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians due to gross negligence and incompetence. Morale for the newly created Impilturan monarchy was tenuous, and Ryu was forced to dismiss their services rather than risk the loss of popular support for his campaign. Kriv agreed to stay with the party at least until the demon-cult had been destroyed. While the forces of the monarchy had achieved some success against the Fraternity of Tharos, ultimate victory could not be reached as long as the cultists could retreat back into their impregnable Demontower.
The heroes prepared to enter the tower. Although the crown radiated pure evil, Ghryll bravely agreed to try and master it. As he placed the Moaning Crown on his head, Ghryll found out why it had that name. Cruel spikes protruded from it and dug into his skull. Ghryll pitted his will against the crown-wraiths contained within. As he won, the crown changed forms once again and this time yellowish-gold horns protruded from it to more closely match Ghryll’s radiant motif. The crown-wraiths were commanded to manifest and cloak the champions in their evil so that they could pass through the walls of the Demontower. As the rest of the party entered the tower, Tsol stubbornly refused to let his wraith merge with him. The wraith grew angry and told him that he could let himself into the tower then. In a burst of inspiration, Tsol blew his Horn of Demonfire and it opened a temporary hole in the wall (that was closing fast) which let him walk into the tower.
The party explored the first level of the Demontower. The interior of this level of the tower appeared to be that of a standard, non-magical keep or castle. On one of the walls they discovered a mural that depicted the ancient defeat of the demon Xonox by the Minotaur hero Targore and his companions. Eventually the party triggered an alarm and had to fight off wave after wave of cultists (not wizards!) and their bizarre, pet demons. The heroes managed to capture one of the cultists called Tattoo (so named because he was covered head-to-toe in tattoos of demons). In exchange foe his life and his freedom, Tattoo agreed not to commit any evil acts for a year and a day and also to tell the heroes what he knew about the tower. He went on to tell them that as the Demonstone fell into the possession of various demon-lords throughout the ages, each one of them had inscribed one of their true names into the stone. Thus, each level of the Demontower was beholden to a different demon. Because the Demontower was created from the power of the Demonstone, and the demon-names were inscribed into the stone, the names also appeared inscribed into the walls in various locations throughout the tower. To travel to a different level of the tower you had but to speak the demon’s name as it was inscribed on the Demonstone. The level of the tower that the heroes were on now once belonged to the demon Xonox. Because Xonox had been destroyed, the tower no longer held any of his power and therefore the level was used as neutral territory. The level was also used to house new or undeclared cult members like Tattoo. This also explained why Tsol’s Horn of Demonfire worked on the tower since it had been taken from the head of Xonox after he had been slain. Tattoo claimed he did not know which faction held the Demonstone or any of the other true-names of the demons. Ghryll consulted the crown-wraiths and they would not reveal any more information either. Tattoo told the party that only a skeleton crew of cultists remained in the tower (the rest were out fighting Ryu’s forces), but now that the alarm had been raised, they would surely start activating each level’s defenses. The adventurers searched the rest of the level and found the name of Adimarchus, demon-lord of madness, inscribed into one of the walls. They also discovered a secret passage and at the end of it hung a mask of a beautiful woman’s face. Madrakkar detected that placing a correct pattern of kisses on different locations of the mask (ending with the lips of course) would unseal another secret, magically-sealed chamber, behind the mask. Failure would result in a virulent poison that would almost certainly kill the kisser. The heroes deduced the correct pattern and opened the secret chamber. Inside was the inscribed-name of the demon-queen, Volisupula, Marchesa of Flensing. As the explorers reached out and touched the writing, a seductive, female voice spoke the correct enunciation of the name. The heroes chose to go this route, spoke the name, and were transported to her level of the Demontower.
The adventurers each arrived in a different chamber in Volisupula’s level. There they were presented with their darkest fantasies by female demons in the service of the Marchesa. For example, Alkorahil found himself in a hall of mirrors where a priestess presented him an image of his face restored from the decay of undeath and where each reflection was more handsome than the last. Tsol found himself in a hall of weapons where an amazon warrior told him that he could find Targore’s axe. Smoke arrived in a dimly lit bedchamber where several elven maidens pawed at his clothing and tried to undress him. Seductive demon-magic made it hard to resist the temptation. Some the characters managed to resist the spell while others fell under the demon’s influence. Eventually, either fighting a running battle or under Volisupula’s domination, all of the heroes ended meeting back up in the level’s main chamber. The chamber was an opulent, perfumed lounge, complete with plush pillows, extravagantly laid out feasts, and of course a large summoning circle. As the champions fought off the enchantment, the true forms of their seductresses were revealed. The worst of the bunch was Smoke’s temptress which turned out not to be several women as he thought in the midst of his feverish charms, but one demoness with six-arms. The Marilith and here sisters launched a vicious assault on the heroes. The champions of Impiltur managed to fight them off only after a hard won battle. Afterwards, the party tried to rest up, but was continually assailed by a host of small annoying demons that kept popping into the area and harassing them. With no choice but to move on, the adventurers searched the level for an exit. In the toilet chamber above one of the chamber-pots, the explorers discovered the inscribed-name of Juiblex, demon-lord of oozes and shapeless things and moved on to his level.
The adventurers arrived together in a large room filled with row upon row of various colors of gelatinous cubes that were in the process of decomposing different types of matter. Throughout the level, slime ran down the sides of the walls and the air stank with noxious vapors. The party explored another room filled with enough chemicals, vials, beakers, furnaces, and vats to produce mass alchemical yields. Stacked in the corner they spied several kegs and recognized the markings on them from their adventure on the Glacier of the White Worm. The kegs contained the cult’s mindfilth weapon and the heroes surmised that this must be where it was mass-produced from. After they had wrecked the room to make sure that it could no longer be used to produce more of the vile poison, they moved on and found a lone cultist of Juiblex inside of a summoning chamber. Although there were no other cultists present, he was guarded by several demonic ooze horrors (blobs of animate, sentient filth with thousands of eyes) and plague hurlers (robed, faceless, demons). The cultist himself was dressed in a suit of armor that was a cross between chainmail and a medieval containment suit. He was in the middle of summoning a greater demon known as Morthak the Everhungry. The heroes managed to defeat his guardians and stop the ritual before the summoning could be completed. Afterwards they found a chamber that didn’t smell as bad because it had multiple clockwork-powered fans spinning to ventilate the fumes. Carved into one of the walls they found the name of the arch-demon, Azazel the betrayer – ruler of the level of the Abyss known as Outcasts’ End. Speaking the name the heroes moved onto the next level.
The heroes arrived in lavishly decorated antechamber. Through the open, ornate double doors in front of them, the party could hear the sound of several people in the middle of more demon summoning. Their path forward was already guarded by several Nalfeshnee and Hezrou demonic guardians. The arcane-gifted party members could tell that the ritual was nearing its conclusion and they desperately tried to fight their way through the demons. They succeeded and found themselves inside of cross between a demonic summoning chamber and a church. Expensive red carpet covered the floor except where the summoning circles were laid out. A vaulted ceiling soared overhead. High upon the walls were stained-glass windows depicting acts of depravity. Scattered around the room was treasure and finery stolen from the wealthy families of Impiltur by the cult. Standing behind altars inside of five different summoning circles, were five of the most senior and notorious members of the Fraternity of Tharos.
- Count Banilt Bloodthorn: The Count had long been the main voice for the cult’s interests inside of the Grand Council. It was he that proposed the murder of the Moon Elves in order to steal their Star Sextant and had called into question Bahardim’s claim to his family title.
- Creoughgha the Rogue Red Wizard: This Red Wizard had been part of the forces of the Zulkirs that had assaulted Szass Tam’s armies in Thay along with the Brotherhood of the Griffon. He deserted in the middle of battle when the fighting got tough.
- Cajityb the Witch Doctor: The dark-skinned master of Voodoo had reportedly murdered over one hundred people in his home country before he was discovered and forced to flee overseas.
- Vescha the Traitor: This former cleric of Ioun had become so intrigued by the lure of the forbidden knowledge of demon summoning that he began studying it in secret. When discovered, his ironic sentence was to be cast into the Abyss. Somehow he survived, escaped, and joined up with the Fraternity upon returning to Faerun.
- Behroun Marhana: The head of the influential house Marhana and another former member of the Grand Council. Tavern talk had long held that magic of a sinister nature sustained the old man’s life. The wizened and little-seen man has been one of the founding members of the cult nearly eight years ago.
Lines of magical power laid out in the shape of a pentagram connected each of the villains and in the middle was none other than the partially-formed shape of the demon Ndulu. The heroes knew that disrupting the summoning this late into the ritual could have tragic consequences; possibly even letting the demon loose into the world with no restraints. However, Tsol could not control himself and he charged and killed the red wizard. This disrupted the bindings that were holding the demon into place but fortunately because the summoning was not yet complete he was only at partial strength. In a blind rage he struck out at both the heroes and cultists alike. In the ensuing chaos, the remaining cultists were killed and the party managed to inflict enough damage on Ndulu that he retreated back in the Abyss.
The group tried to rest again but was once more hounded by irritating minor demons. The heroes searched the rest of the level and were disappointed to find that the Demonstone was not in the possession of these cult leaders nor was there any documentation on where it might be. Next to a grand, pipe-organ the party found the inscribed-name of the demonic mad scientist, Haagenti. When the heroes reached out and touched the inscription, a raspy, metallic voice spoke the correct enunciation of the name. The heroes repeated it and went on to face their next challenge.
Haagenti’s layer had no individual halls or rooms but instead was one gigantic, cylindrical chamber. The walls were made of sterile, brushed metal. The air smelled faintly of rubbing alcohol and burnt ozone. Scattered around the room were various half-finished, clock-work experiments, alchemical distillation setups, partially dissected demon corpses, shelves of books, and even a functioning ballista. The party arrived in the exact center of the room in the middle of a bizarre experiment. They were standing next to an engineering device of some type that was connected by a series of pulleys and levers to a mechanical claw suspended overhead. At their feet lay a recently deceased cultist that looked like he had committed suicide by driving a dagger into his brain. Interconnected, runic, containment areas containing all different types of demons surrounded them. Beyond the demons, floating above its own runes of suppression floated a Sphere of Annihilation. The sphere was about two feet in diameter, absolutely black, and composed of complete nothingness. On the exact polar-opposite side of the room floated a pearly-white sphere that was similar in size. This was another powerful artifact known as the Eye of Tyr. As the heroes watched, the eye fired off a white-hot ray of judgment that completely disintegrated one of the demons. Then from the other side of the room, the Sphere of Annihilation let off a wave of irresistible, gravitational attraction that pulled one of the demons out of its containment area and into the sphere – destroying the demon instantly. The heroes quickly realized that if left unchecked, the artifacts would destroy everything in the room including themselves. Also the destructive pace of the artifacts was increasing! Taking a closer look at the demons in the room, the adventurers began to realize that many of them manifested a single, primary, elemental theme. Looking further, they deduced a pattern in the containment areas – the primary elements of earth, air, fire, and water were in the middle. Towards the Sphere of Annihilation, the negative reflections of the elements (tar, vacuum, ash, and salt) were contained. Towards the Eye of Tyr, the positive reflections of the elements (gold, lightning, radiance, and bubbles) were contained. The heroes identified the gaps in the pattern where the artifacts had destroyed the demons that were representative of an element. Two of the other containment areas contained a myriad number of other demons of different types. The arcane members of the party also noticed that the overhead-claw contained powerful magical runes to stun and capture a demon. Using the levers to operate the crane, the heroes used the “replacement” demons and some of Madrakkar’s elemental magic to repopulate the holes the elemental pattern and re-stabilize the containment for the artifacts.
With the danger averted, the party realized that the containment fields surrounding them provided perfect protection from roving demons and were finally able to take an extended rest. Afterwards, the explorers investigated the room. On one of the bookshelves they found the ancient journal of the famous, dwarven, architect, Bitriarch, and realized that it may contain the information they needed to finally locate his vault. Inscribed in one of the walls, they also found the name of the demon-lord Demogorgon. However, after solving some “demon-math” written on a chalk-board, it split open for the heroes revealing the emblazoned name of Orcus, demon-prince of the undead. The party anticipating the end of their quest was nearing as legends told that Orcus had been the original demon to possess the Demonstone. The heroes boldly repeated the demon’s marked name and entered his level of the Demontower.
Orcus’s level of the tower stank of undeath. The tiling of floor was composed entirely of various types of tombstones. The party arrived in the middle of an open area where three spotlights shone down on them from high above. Just outside the light, the champions could make out the gaunt features of an army of zombies. From somewhere out in the darkness a voice boomed, “Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, please direct your attention to the center ring for tonight’s entertainment.” With that, the heroes were attacked. They recognized their assailants as former members of the Lucky Stilt Circus, which had gone missing shortly after the war with the fraternity first started. Now, many of the performers were horrible, undead, twisted mockeries of their former selves. The servants of Orcus included the Ringleader, the Ventriloquist and his dummy, an undead Concession Vendor serving up human body parts, Clowns, the grossly obese Big Big Bertha, and Bobo the undead dancing bear. As the heroes marshaled their might against the abominations, the undead “audience” cheered on the former circus members. Somewhere in the background, organ grinder music hysterically played – up-tempo, off-key, and completely out of control. Finally the heroes prevailed against the undead circus and then dispersed the minor undead. They discovered several cultists among their number that had apparently lost control of their creations, been killed by them, and had been reanimated by the terrible undead power emanating from this level. The characters explored the rest of the level and were disappointed to find no mention of the Demonstone anywhere. Inside of a mausoleum-like room they found the name of Graz’zt, demonic master of manipulation and diplomacy. Figuring he must be the mastermind behind the formation of the fraternity, the adventurers spoke his inscribed name and moved on to his level.
The heroes arrived in room that was laid out like a giant chessboard. Alternating sections of white and black marble formed a checkered pattern on the floor. On the opposite side of the room, eight Mezzodemons occupied the pawn positions on the floor. Stone-skinned demons with stubby rings of horns atop their heads that looked vaguely like castle-crenelations inhabited the rook positions. In the knight positions stood two gangly, green-skinned demons with horse-like heads. Standing in the bishop squares were two cloaked demons, each with seven upturned blade-like arms that dimly gave the impression of them praying. Standing in the king position manipulating the pieces on a miniature chessboard was a Piscodemon. Piscodemons were known to be master strategists in demonic armies. Strangely, the square that was normally reserved for the black queen chess piece was empty. The heroes each arrived in a square corresponding to one of the major chess pieces. The pawns on their “side” were various soldier-like, clockwork automatons. In the square that was normally reserved for the white queen was a pile of rubble that might have once been a beautiful marble statue of an empress. Brother Thomas translated the Abyssal graffiti written on some of the larger remaining pieces of debris and indicated that it was, “condemning the fickleness of women”. When the party arrived, the Moaning Crown of Ndulu was ripped from Ghryll’s skull by some unseen force and was floating in the white king’s square. Below it, they could see an indistinct, ghost-like image but could not make out any details. The enemies began moving and the game of demon-chess was on. The heroes quickly discovered that moving or attacking outside of the patterns restricted by their corresponding game pieces inflicted penalties in the form of excruciatingly painful psychic feedback. They could also issue commands to their “pawns” to move or attack. Any damage inflicted on one of the “kings” was shared by the entire side. Eventually, the heroes outmaneuvered their opponent and slew him which destroyed the rest of his forces.
The moaning crown changed shaped once again and elongated into a shape that the heroes had never seen it in before – blackened with a ring of long, sharp talons of steel. A spindly, demon dressed in dark armor materialized beneath it. His face was entirely masked.
“Yes”, it whispered. “Finally I have the secrets to control Graz’zt and all of the others. Soon I will be unstoppable.” At first, the adventurers had to strain to hear the whispering voice, as if it was barely at the edge of their range of hearing. However as the demon continued to talk, although still a whisper, next its voice sounded as if it was coming from right next to their ear and then later, as if it were cutting across their very thoughts. The demon introduced himself as Tharos the Blameless – the Whisper in the Night, He that Lives Between the Folds of the Abyss, and Abides in the Blindside. He went on to explain that, “it was I who originally corrupted the Dwarfstone and changed it into the Demonstone. It was I who had originally crafted the Crown that corrupted the Nentyarchs. It was my servant Ndulu that recovered the pieces of the crown after it was broken. Both the Fraternity and the city bear MY name. As if some second-rate amateur like Graz’zt could accomplish that.” Tharos thanked the party for returning the Crown to him and for taking it on a tour through the other demon’s levels. Now that the crown-wraiths had learned the other demon’s inscribed names and whispered them to him, Tharos would use that information to wield power over them. With that being said, Tharos produced the Demonstone and used it to raise him and the heroes to the rooftop of the tower. He then ripped open a portal to the Abyss and used his new power to summon demonic aspects of Adimarchus (a ½ pink and ½ grey demon that was shaped like a humanoid-elephant and caused intoxication and madness), Volisupula (a queen bee demon that fired poisonous stingers and attempted to drop enemies off of the tower), Juiblex (a HIV demon made up from animate, diseased blood), and Azazel (a Zovuut demon – a former angel that was corrupted by the power of the Abyss) to do his bidding. The heroes were finally able to shake off the effects of Tharos’ mesmerizing words and fight back. During the opening rounds of the battle, they endured a blistering assault by the demonic forces as they pitted all of their willpower, arcane, and holy might against the portal in order to shut it down. Kriv’s griffon, Peter, swooped down out of the skies to fight along his partner. The heroes were pushed to the edge of falling off of the tower and to the edge of their limits but bravely battled back the forces of chaos. Finally, the death blow was dealt to Tharos, splitting his face and his crown into two. As chaotic energy leaked out of the laceration in his skull, in his hand, the party noted cracks staring to form in the Demonstone. They also noted for the first time that the top of the Demontower seemed to be shaped similar to Tharos’ crown and that a fissure had formed in it as well. As Tharos’ head exploded, so did the top of the Demontower. The heroes leapt off it just ahead of the wave of energy. Kriv and Peter caught some of the party as they were falling and the rest floated safely to the ground under the power of Alkorahil’s Ring of Featherfall. As the champions landed, the frightened people of Impiltur emerged from their homes and cheered on the ruination of the Demontower. The legends had done the impossible and broken the fraternity’s base of power. With nowhere left to run and their symbol of power ruined, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the demon-cult was defeated.