Shimmering strands of sunlight welcome you back home to Avesta, as you trek down from the eastern escarpment and stroll through the palm-lined streets. Hadaad the Ironfist, surrogate father of Sebastian, grasps his charge in a bearhug, and offers to set up the members of the adventuring group until such time as they can organize lodgings for themselves.
It only takes until the next morning, before you can wipe the last blurry smears of sleep from your eyes, for correspondence to arrive from the Sacred Flame, requesting the party to report on the Luca mission. Once again, you find yourself waiting at the sandstone steps of the holy Cathedral until a pair of robed acolytes gathers you into the glass church.
Ahead of you appears a nimbus of light, reflecting brilliantly through the mirrored hallways, growing in intensity until it is like an approaching inferno. From around the corner, a figure strides before you, tall and beautiful, a cascade of flaming hair trailing behind her that dances in the gloom, creating a playful performance of silhouettes against the walls. Sharp eyes regard you, as the girl steps over, clad in a uniform of pristine white shirt and jacket, with contrasting sections and designs of stitched black fabric. A bejeweled hilt sits within a silver scabbard slung casually at her hip, leather-gloved hands resting softly on the belt.
The acolytes escorting you through the Cathedral prostrate themselves immediately upon sighting the woman, uttering a short word of prayer.
The red-haired lady extends an arm, and speaks, her voice wry yet intense, friendly yet stern, “Please, rise from the floor. You can conduct great many works in the service of the Creator on two feet, rather than on your knees.”
She nods to you each in turn.
“Elika, Dharzon, Alheck, Sebastian and Hidnaan…”
Upon spying the two latest additions to your adventuring party, she pauses briefly.
“And for you two, who were not called here today, but I must thank equally for your aid in our mission, and its successful outcomes.”
She steps past the group, and heads down the hallway in the direction you have just come from. You feel compelled to follow.
“That will have to do for a show of gratitude for now, as pressing matters demand attention. Matters I think a group of individuals such as you are suited for.”
You find yourself descending the steps and exiting the Cathedral’s cloisters, as the lady leads you on, briefing you on a task upon your acceptance is already assumed. The blaze of her hair continues to leap behind her, like a burning rope.
“Invokers from a small shrine of our Lord Ahura Vairya have attempted to augur a communion with a lesser Yazata, Koptila. Through deception and deceit, Koptila has hid its corruption from the priests, and now it attempts to piece together an existence within the shrine’s walls from which is can spread its malicious corruption.”
You have been walking through the streets of Jamaga Ward, surrounded by the monolithic constructions of the temples to the Amesha Spenta, and each space in between filled with bustling hawkers, doomsayers and philosophers. There is a cluster of robed clerics outside one of the smaller shrines, observing a few of their members attend to a warding glyph that covers the barricaded entrance. The facade is dominated by images of the rising sun, flaming orbs and the forever extending horizon.
“The people of Avesta are lucky to count amongst their number such daring heroes that have experience in fighting the unwanted minions of the corrupt Daeva. I trust you shall not disappoint them with failure.” There is a flash of a cheeky smirk on the flame-haired woman, so brief, you are not sure if it was just your imagination. The sealed doors lie before you, and the clerics huddle around the group, pressing you all closer to the barred entrance. The sound of chanting stops as the glyph is dispelled, and the doors swing outwards. The press of bodies pushes behind you, ushering you into the shrine.
The girl calls out to you just as the heavy doors slam shut, sealing you inside the temple.
“The love of Avesta is earned through trial and fire. Trust in the Flame of the Church and the Flame Within, and it shall be returned.”
Aych grumbles in the darkness of the shrine’s antechamber,
“Who in the Nine Hells is that bitch?”
Elika’s reply confirms the suspicions of many.
“Ignis. The Executor of the Sacred Flame.”
Feeling your way through the darkness of the chamber, Dharzon strikes a sunrod, and lowers it to the ground. For a moment, it seems like the rod moves by itself, squeaking intermittently, before you realize it is being carried by a enigmatic rat; the warlock’s new familiar, Nebrakazool.
Sliding open the chamber doors, the party enter a prayer room. The stone walls are patterned and engraved with images and aspects of the yazata, lesser deities of the sun and day, yet still resplendent and powerful, worthy of worship. As Elika pushes forward to the door leading further into the shrine, otherworldly whispers stop her in her tracks. What once appeared as flickering shadows, ghostly wisps shape and take form. Confused and surprised, glorious figures of astral beauty flourish into existence. Without the guiding knowledge of their divine companion, the group stay their weapons in caution. The beasts mean them harm however, and cry out, leaping at them with feathered arms that end in large, club-like fists, and hurl barbed, steel wings.
The warrior-lady engages and holds up the larger aspects, suffering a brunt of powerful blows, as the ranged fighters hurl bolts of martial and arcane fire from behind, ducking and dodging the dagger-like feathers flung at them. It is only mere minutes before the group triumph, and begin to delve further into the shrine. Scouting ahead, Hidnaan returns with news of the room beyond: more astral beings lie ahead, deep in prayer, chanting over a religious glyph.
Armed with this knowledge, the party surprise the maul-winged aspects. As they trade blows with the astral warriors, divine energies curse the group. Your feet feel heavy, and your physical and mental constitution is taxed. The longer you fight, more and more of your comrades are afflicted by the curse. Gavri’el keenly observes the flaming braziers at the back of the room, noticing that they flare each time one of the party receive the cursing weakness. The party fight through the pain, and focus their attentions on defeating the hulking maul-wings, pushing away the spinning flail attacks of the commanding chain-demon. The effects of Angra Mainyu’s corruption are more evident in these fallen beings, and it brings peace to your soul when you defeat their debased forms.
Triumphant, but still weakened from the curse, Gavri’el tries to step past the burning braziers, only to be smitten by astral fire. Together, the ranger and rogue deactivate the smouldering pyres, and discover compartments beneath containing healing salves. Runes inscribed upon the steps between the braziers are incomprehensible to the group, none of them trained in the divine histories and alphabets enough to decipher its meaning. The curse remains on them, as they slowly trudge forward past the extinguished braziers.
Stepping into the private chambers of the now-corrupted shrine, you stand before a crackling portal of blue energy. Two faceless giants stand guard, and assail you with meaty fists. From beyond the swirling monolith of energy appears a hollowed suit of armour, a cackling, fanged maw in the place where a normal creature’s stomach would be. The beast spews forth insults from its twisted mouth, inviting you to enjoy your demise at the hands of Koptila the Accursed. Still cursed and weakened, you now must fight an aspect of divine power, a corrupted yazata, a lesser daeva.
With a beckoning claw, the demon sends members of the party into the realm of shadow for a brief moment, long enough only to glimpse a tiny second of the horrors and nightmares of the place beyond, before transporting them back, into the center of the raging monolith, stripping them of their life force.
Cutting down the corrupted sentinels is wasted energy, as the hulks rise again from the energies of the crackling portal whenever they are cut down. Dharzon notices at the back of the chamber, a glowing sun icon, that shares the same arcane properties as the monolith. Sending his loyal servant forward, Nebrakazool darts ahead to dislodge the icon from its berth. Shifting through the fey portals, the warlock grasps the icon and hurls it into the maelstrom of corrupted magic. In an instant, the portal disappears, leaving the gloating Koptila now frothing with anger and rage.
Without caution or thought, the Accursed swings wildly, attempting to destroy the party, but without the monolith, its hold on the material plane becomes tenuous, as it begins to weaken. Pushing Koptila into a corner, the party launches their last vestiges of strength against the corrupted yazata. With a final, unhallowed howl, Koptila’s body becomes insubstantial, and swirls into its maw, like an imploding vortex.
Rummaging through the quarters of the shrine’s clerics, you take whatever spoils you deem valuable before slowly moving back to the entrance. The locked shrine doors now open for you, and you are welcomed by the soft evening light of Avesta. Ignis stands amongst a throng of priests, albeit a smaller group than what was gathered outside the temple when you entered. You later learn that the priests responsible for the failed communion that led Koptila into this realm have been disciplined through holy fire. Such is the penalty for those not vigilant against the deceptions of Mainyu.
Ignis acknowledges you with a nod, and turns to leave. You wonder if this had merely been a test of your skills, to see if you are worthy of the rewards of the Sacred Flame. The lack of any monetary compensation so far, makes you wonder even more.
Group XP: +975 (8542 total)
Gold: +750 gp (2130 total after equipment purchases)
Treasure: Crown of Infernal Legacy, Potions of Healing x2