Pausing to rest, the party exits the basement of the apothecary, strange plant in tow. But their way is now barred. A severe-looking blonde woman now sits in front of the entrance. As they shuffle into the main room, spectral chains spring from the walls, creating a barrier between the party, the woman and the exit. At her feet lay 2 corpses — the watch members who had been watching the exterior.
“My apologies. I had hostages but you were down there such a damn long time,” the woman says, by way of explanation. Obviously probing the party for information, she eventually reveals herself as Vecia, leader of Talona’s forces.
Vecia blocks all of the spells the assembled heroes throw at her and asks calmly if she could persuade them to stop interfering with the coming plague. Vahn will have none of it. The woman’s logic and vision for the future impress no one.
“Very well,” she says, and goes to leave. But not without a parting gift. A small mote of flame leaves her hand and approaches the group.
“Fireball! GET DOWN!” Smack roars.
The heroes scramble or are blown back downstairs by the expanding ball of fire. Alchemical components along the walls begin the smolder and explode. The building, while sturdy, was not designed to handle both the volatile reactions and the initial arcane attack. The roof collapses, leaving everyone trapped downstairs.
Pausing only to help themselves to some soon to be destroyed potions, the group locate a boarded up section of wall and burst out. They find themselves back in the city sewers. Fortunately, only one path is before them.
As they move forward, guided by magical light sources, a scritching noise catches their attention. They’ve stumbled upon some of the less saviory inhabitants of the dark — Carrion Crawlers. These giant pasty worm monsters normally feed on other’s kills, but with numbers on their side they have no objection to attacking sentient beings. If they can fell one member of the group, they will break off and drag away the body, never to be seen again.
The crawlers inhabit a large water basin with walkways on either side. Preparing for a fight, the party presses them towards the water. But another inhabitant makes itself known. A giant scaly head rears out of the water and drags a crawler into the deep.
Sense more tender fare, the giant crocodile stalks the party as they cross the pool and attempt to remain behind cover. They harry it with arrows and use clever applications of light and illusions to draw it out. The crocodile is driven off, leaving the party to cross a second stretch of open water in safety.
Finally, they spot a friendly inhabitant. Or at least not hostile, for the man angrily informs the party that there is not treasure or adventure to be found down here.
They explain the situation that forced them underground. The man identifies himself as Jhalen Turnstone, of the guild of plumbers and pipefitters. He leads them back aboveground.
“Oh, watch out for the giant crocodile!” Vahn shouts back as they leave.
“Wait, the WHAT?”
Back at headquarters, the party enlists the help of the wizards of Blackstaff Tower to identify the plant they’ve captured. Achemel, apprentice researcher reveals it is no mere plant. From what he can determine, the odd red crystaline structure is that of a demon lord known as Malgarius.
Known otherwise as the Demon Tree, Malgarius is a resident of the infinite planes of chaos known as the Abyss. He or it was thought subdued by another demon. While Talona’s cult must have mounted an expedition into the abyss to obtain this seed of Malgarius, why its required is unknown. They present the demonic entity to Kali.
The captured cleric had not been briefed on the cult’s full plans, but based on the brief research she believes this is the intended distribution method for the plague. The virus can be introduced into the roots and the mature seed will distribute it into the air.
Was capturing this seed and destroying the others enough to stop the cult’s plan for good?