After balking at Blank’s mysterious dream form, the Champions used a teleportation circle, arriving just outside of the Citadel Mercane. They found themselves at the base of a crimson mountain, at the beginning of a series of switchback footpaths leading up the slope, ending at a giant cleft in the rock. Blank – in a colorful, evocative tone – identified the locale as Blood Mountain, and that the Citadel was built inside of it.
The four (or perhaps five, if the tiefling counted twice) of them set to trudging up the arduous path, and after passing a mound of stone adorned with scraggly, leafless trees, three figures came into view. The first was a strange, blue-skinned male dressed in robes, cowering at the sight of two fearsome four-armed savages. As a native of the area, Blank immediately identified them as blood fiends – vicious abominations who used terror as well as their claws to obtain their meals.
But they were hardly a match for the Champions. With their new ally’s help, the party quickly trounced them, and the frightened bystander only suffered a single scratch, which Komé mended. He introduced himself as Mayhem, and immediately offered his services to help the heroes navigate the oft-confusing Citadel.
The inside of the mountain was a unique sight – the entire thing seemed hollowed out, the walls lined with giant red crystals stabbing outward. Mercantile stalls, booths, platforms, even entire buildings orbited in the air around a miniature planetoid in the center of the mountain, on which were built several large buildings.
Suddenly, a chorus of screams rang out as a large demon broke free from its display cage – exotic goods, indeed! It smashed around for awhile, while the Champions attempted to placate it, and eventually a team of maruts arrived to wrangle the thing back into its cage. With the threat eliminated, a woman calling herself Trethix arrived to thank them for their efforts in keeping the peace, and rewarded them with a small bag of platinum coins.
Blank urged the Champions to press onward to see her employer, Scaramandar, who could be found at Night, one of two taverns adjoining the largest inn in the community, the Dreaming Spire. They found the cambion surrounded by a harem of comely mortals, and he dismissed them quickly to offer a wide-armed welcome. Komè inquired as to the motivation behind his hospitality – not only was he loaning them Blank, but also giving them free board at the Dreaming Spire – but he was not forthcoming. He merely stated that it would be beneficial for him to make friends with such influential individuals. Unable to pry him any further, they asked for the whereabouts of their contacts in the Separatists, and were directed to the bartender in Day, Night’s sister tavern.
“Good luck,” he offered, smirking. “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing each other again very soon indeed…”
The bartender hadn’t seen their githyanki contacts, though he had seen Bram Ironfell pass through, who left behind a package for the Champions. Upon taking it to their room, they discovered it was a fail-safe message he’d left, advising them that since his mission had failed, the only way to contact the Separatists would be to journey to Tu’narath itself.
Scaramandar’s last words left the Champions highly suspicious of his involvement on the matter, but Blank claimed ignorance of any foul play on his part. Mayhem, upon having Bram described to him, informed them all that he’d seen the dwarf captured by a creature resembling a huge blue dragonborn, accompanied by a half-dozen or so dark angels bearing Tiamat’s symbol. They slew his githyanki associates, but for some reason, the maruts who patrolled the Citadel never showed up to stop them.
Lacking further leads, the party returned to Scaramandar to consult his knowledge on the matter. Komé, refusing to take chances, asked Legion to cover them stealthily from a hidden vantage point. The grinning merchant said he knew nothing of their contact’s fate, but he did have a way for them to get to Tu’narath if only they would do him a favor – kill Trethix.
The party argued for some time over what to do next. Legion and Blank opted for the assassination option, while Zan-kyri and Komé held out hope that a less morally reprehensible option would present itself given time. In the end, the two do-gooders were placated by gathering the opinions of the Citadel’s inhabitants, who pretty much agreed that Trethix was responsible for the deaths of the previous rulers, and likely deserved whatever fate was in store for her, whether by their hand or not.
Still, Komé persisted in attempting a diplomatic approach, and met Trethix by the entrance to the Inner Sphere with his friends’ weapons sheathed. Trethix seemed livid at the fact that they seemed to know where she would be, and had dared to approach her with any weapons at all at the one point in her day where she was most vulnerable. She claimed that she was warned about them, and refused to listen to reason, ordering her marut guardians to attack.
Blank did away with many of her guards, while Zan-kyri hopped into the middle of the Sphere’s sealed portal, giggling as the lightning from its wards danced harmlessly across his skin. The battle went on for some time, and reinforcements started to pour out of the seal, until finally Legion blew Trethix’s head off with a well-placed Eldritch Blast. As he scooped up her head, everyone made a break for safety, leaving Legion to be pummeled with greatswords. Under the rain of steel, he clambered onto Trethix’s levitating palanquin, and took off into the sky before the maruts could manage to knock him out.
Battered and feeling guilty for being forced to kill a woman they didn’t even know, the party reconvened on the outside of Blood Mountain. There, they met Scaramandar, who rewarded them with a small box of residuum and the sigil sequence to an isolated spot in Tu’narath. To Blank, he also awarded a strange hourglass, and released her from his service.