New Latveria

Dust to Dust

Fueled by rage over the loss of his friend, Flash dashed off to rejoin his allies. He arrived to see Hyourinmaru chase Loki through the mystic portal, and overhear Superman try in vain to negotiate peacefully with Allevrah Azrinae. Realizing she was determined to raid the Watchtower, he felt no other recourse but to stop her. Wonder Woman concurred, launching into battle and surprising the Drow. She managed to cut Azrinae’s arm, inciting her wrath. Superman decided to take out the weaker soldiers protecting her, leaving Wonder Woman to contend with the evil priestess on her own.

Flash quickly joined in the melee, unleashing a barrage of fists and strikes on the unsuspecting Drow soldiers. They retaliated, meeting mixed success. Just as the Pathfinders were beginning to turn the tide on Azrinae, the dark elf unleashed a powerful destruction spell, vaporizing the valiant Wonder Woman before she could react. Superman watched on in horror at the sight of her death, shouting loudly. Enraged beyond measure, he launched headlong into battle with the Cleric herself. She held her own in combat, aided by healing spells from her priestess cohorts – one of whom ran off. Flash and Superman eventually defeated the lesser drow, surrounding Azrinae herself.


Meanwhile, blinking once, then twice, a patient awakened in a medical bay. Eyes still blurry, he tried to focus on his surrounding. Finally he realized where he was. The Watchtower. He realized WHO he was. Oliver Queen. How he was alive, he cannot recall – and still smelled the stench of burning mammoth hair in his lungs. Looking down to his chest, he saw what looked like a glowing arc reactor built into his sternum.

“You’re awake,” a gentle female voice echoed in his ears. Queen saw Aa’rya, the Chief Engineer on duty approach. “Stark said you’d come around eventually. She always did know her life support. How are you feeling?”

Arrow had little time for pleasantries. Hyourinmaru and Loki, after determining Castle Doomstadt was far too dangerous to handle alone, teleported onto the Watchtower to protect the Shard of Wrath. Soon thereafter the priestess Azrinae had sent away summoned a powerful, ancient construct known as a Clockwork Reliquary. The lumbering, skymetal-clad golem reached for Hyourinmaru, nearly felling him in one flurry. When the saurian backed off, the Reliquary turned its sights on Loki. Before it could destroy the demigod, however, Arrow arrived to intercede. He fired a single, powered strike into the golem’s back, shattering its armor. The Reliquary turned and mystically snatched the bow from Arrow’s hands, marching over to finish him off. Though weakened, Hyourinmaru found the strength to summon several spires of ice, which repelled and then tripped the colossus. It fell back onto an ice spire, running itself through. Green Arrow finished the job, unleashing a hailstorm of arrows – all infused with a new, psionic power. The threat finally eliminated, those in the storage bay at last caught their breaths.


Back in the Moonscar, Flash and Superman had their hands full trying to defeat Azrinae. They exchanged punches, spells, powers and lashes, all to no avail. At long last things were beginning to look in the Pathfinders’ favor, until the priestess mystically healed herself nearly to full health. Winded and running out of options, the Justice members bravely continued their assault.

Just then another magical portal opened in the same area as before. From its swirling vortex of energy stepped none other than Doctor Doom himself.

“Azrinae,” he quipped. “It seems you are now without an army. Not that they would save you, anyway. Your days as a thorn in my side are over.” With that Doom extended a hand, blasting Azrinae with a green energy ray. The drow screamed in pain, her body instantly turned to ash. Unharmed by the flames she had summoned, Doom stepped forward – speaking to Flash while looking down at Azrinae’s remains. “I presume you do not have the Shard?”

“No?” Flash answered inquisitively. Then without a word, Doom retreated through his portal again.

He reappeared in the Watchtower, flanked by a squadron of Clockwork Golems – or “Doombots” as they are commonly known. Arrow, without hesitation, fired several arrows at Doom – who harmlessly deflected them away.

“Queen. Good to see you have your strength back,” Doom warned. “You’ll need it.” Arrow tried again, only to meet the same result. “You test my patience, ‘Arrow.’ Lower your weapon. I wish only to talk…”


TOTAL XP

Dale: 344,420
Ricardo: 323,900
James: 301,700
Will: 301,400
Caitlin: 101,550

View
Ye Few But Faithful
[Pathfinders] - Day 75

With Flash near-inconsolable after the death of Iron Woman, Dove remained by his side to try to ease his suffering. With little time to spare, the others decided to continue on without them.

Leaving the torture chambers behind, Superman, Wonder Woman, Loki and Hyourinmaru continued out onto the cliff face skirting the edges of Azrinae’s fortress. A deep crevice dropped sharply to the side, and buildings smelling of charred flesh stood before them. On investigating, the group spotted a troop of Drow soldiers. Unfortunately the Drow spotted them too and sounded an alarm. The two forces collided, the Drow proving hopelessly outmatched by the powerful Pathfinders.

One of the Drow escaped into a nearby watchtower. Hyourinmaru and Loki ran to cut him off, leaving the Justice League elders to deal with the Drow reinforcements on their own. Loki stabbed at the fleeing minion, but accidentally let his grip slip – passing his alien weapon to the Drow. Hyourinmaru flew up into a window to cut him off, and the Drow attempted to use the staff to blast him – but the force of the staff’s energy was apparently weak.

As Loki tried in vain to retrieve his staff, a powerful blast of magic struck him from behind. He felt his body turn to dust, only to somehow will himself whole once more. While he caught his breath, Hyourinmaru cast see invisibility on himself, and saw the form of the one responsible – a Drow illusionist of House Azrinae. Hyourinmaru and the Illusionist swapped spells, blasting at each other with little effect. Meanwhile the soldier who had escaped earlier sounded an alarm, a loud horn which summoned a swarm of alien akata to the watchtower.

The akata flowed over the watchtower like a tide, clawing to get inside any entrance possible. The weight caused the ancient structure to buckle and lean. Finally it gave way, collapsing off the side of the cliff. Though Hyourinmaru and Loki and followed the Drow mage out of the building, Azrinae cocooned them all with her against the watchtower. Killing herself in the process, the building and heroes fell and rolled down the hill. With incredible concentration, Hyourinmaru managed to cast a disintegration spell and blast a hole in the wall. He crawled out and clung to the cliff face. Superman grabbed Loki and flew out just as the building crashed into the canyon floor below.

Together and safe, the group continued on to the edge of the cliffside trail – the entrance to Allevrah Azrinae’s innermost sanctum. Spending time to properly protect themselves with every means of magic possible, the Pathfinders decided to let Loki do the talking. They knocked on the door, and a tiefling invited them inside cordially. Inside they beheld the majestic Azrinae Hall, a massive chamber of polished marble and velvet rugs. The building was rather well-lit for a Drow building, and reeked of opulence and nobility. Allevrah herself stood from her throne to greet the visitors.

“Well,” she began. “If it isn’t the famed Acolytes of Doom. Led by the trickster, no less. I don’t know how you made it this far, but you will go no further. You have lost.”

The Pathfinders looked among themselves in curiosity. “Acolytes? Us?” Loki asked.

“Tell me,” Allevrah expanded, Where does Doom reside? Oh, that’s right. You never sought him out. You never hunted him, as you have me. Why is that, I wonder? If you are not Acolytes, then you are blind fools. Whether by design or arrogance, you have done his bidding. Every Drow you killed, every monster you slayed, has been Doom’s plan. He set the path, and you have followed – at every… single… step."

Hyourinmaru nodded and muttered to himself, having suspected this for weeks.

“I presume you came for the Shard,” Allevrah deduced. “I also presume you are ignorant to Doom’s intent.” Finding no answer, she continued. “The Sihedron controls the fate of anyone or thing the wielder chooses. Doom sees Galactus as a weapon. He doesn’t want to destroy him. He wants to control him. With Galactus as his slave, he can shape entire galaxies at his will. But he needs this Shard. He couldn’t claim it himself, so he sent you after me. But we can stop him. Together. I can show you where he is.”

With that, Azrinae summoned a mystic portal that could teleport the group strait to Doom himself. As they decided on what to do next, Hyourinmaru urged Loki to ask why she had summoned Galactus in the first place. Azrinae explained that Golarion had grown “corrupted” and twisted over the centuries. Galactus would wipe the slate clean, forming a new foundation from which the Drow could rebuild. Though Hyourinmaru, Superman and Wonder Woman will still rather ignorant of Galactus’ abilities, Loki merely shook his head at the naivety of the Drow.

Azrinae once more offered to transport the party, but first required the Shard of Wrath as a “token of good faith.” Loki said they didn’t have it and – in a brief lapse of judgement – mentioned that it was on The Watchtower. Azrinae then said she would claim it herself, and though Loki offered to get it himself, she insisted. The heroes knew that Azrinae would soon, then, attack the Watchtower in an effort to retrieve the Shard. As Loki had no commitment to the Pathfinders, he merely shrugged in defeat and stepped through the portal. Enraged at his “betrayal,” Hyourinmaru drew his katana and chased after him. Superman and Wonder Woman, stood back-to-back. Though resisting Azrinae would likely mean their own death, they were not about to let the Watch Tower – its people, equipment and treasures – fall into Dark Elf hands…


TOTAL XP

Dale: 234,420
Ricardo: 233,900
James: 211,700
Will: 191,400
Caitlin: 101,550

View
Rest for the Weary
[Pathfinders] - Downtime
(The Pathfinders rest for the night, and are granted 7000 XP – One CR 14 encounter – as we attended Sarah’s Going Away Party)





-—————-

TOTAL XP

Dale: 210,820
Ricardo: 210,300
Will: 191,400
James: 188,100
Caitlin: 101,550
View
Hench for Life!

The Demise of Maggott

Exploring through the depths of an underground fortress, Maggott was with his party members fighting off various infernal beasts. After having defeated a mid-level Gnome sorcerer who used the room he was in to spin the party in hopes of turning them into soup, Maggott felt that he could jump through the door that was left open in order to escape the spinning room.

Unfortunately, he failed to negotiate the door that flickered quickly by, and getting caught in the door was slowly chopped into slices of his former self, much like a good delicatessen would make a good mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.

~

Sabretooth had traveled north in search of a pink elf he’d heard was helping out the elves of Crying Leaf. He’d been surprised at the devastation he’d encountered on his journey. A massive tsunami had struck all along the shores of the Varisian Bay. The people in the area were doing their best to recover, but the number of homeless families and ruined businesses didn’t bode well for the coming winter. He’d done what he could to help any refugees he’d run across, but to be honest there was little he could do besides helping fight of raiders, and share out what little food he’d brought with him. It was a day like most others, he’d gone out to help clean up some of the wreckage on the beach, and help search for anything that could be used by the people of Riddleport. It was around noon when he heard the screaming, he took off in that direction immediately. Orcs had been raiding for weeks now and while strong they were rather stupid, he wasn’t worried that he could take them.
He was rather surprised to see what appeared to be a rusted suit of armor strangling a woman in the surf. It took a moment for what he was seeing to make sense. “Shit” He said dismay and frustration clear in his voice. The sound must have carried because the creature on the beach turned to look at him. There was a flash of red in his eyes as he flung the woman away from him and began marching up the shore towards Sabretooth. Suddenly a beam of blistering hot energy shot out of creature once known as Vision and scorched the sand nearby. As more bolts shot out Sabretooth began charging down the beach…though apparently dodging wasn’t necessary. That might have had something to do with the can that seemed embedded in the side of Vision’s head. The smell of ozone was strong enough to block the scent of the sea, by the time the two men met, Sabretooth attacking with tooth and nail didn’t seem to be making much of an impression on the man of metal.
Vision had been at sea long enough for barnacles to grow and his exterior to be covered in rust. He seemed completely unimpressed with the blows Sabretooth managed to land and was instead focused on causing the man as much pain as possible. A solid punch knocked Sabretooth to the ground, but he soon found himself dangling from Vision’s grasp a full foot off the ground. “Bye-Bye” Vision said as he materialized his other hand inside Sabretooth chest. With a laugh he jerked the still beating heart out and dropped Sabretooth to the ground. “Kali-ma,” He said before dropping it to the sand and continuing his march up the beach.
Sabretooth lay there for a few moments, confused by this turn of events…sad that he wouldn’t find Blink…if it was Blink…and pissed that he’d lost a fight to a can opener.

~

She was getting rather bored with wandering around in tunnels under the ground all the time, it was wreaking havoc with her chlorophyll production, so she was rather pleased to come across a room dedicated to three large…though rather anti-social plants. They were moon flowers. She’d never seen one before but she’d read about them in books…and they didn’t seem healthy. Clearly they hadn’t been eating properly. She glanced back at her companions and briefly considered whether any of them were expendable. It wasn’t as though she disliked any of them…but on the other hand…they were only people…and her babies really did have to eat. Of course…the food didn’t have to be fresh…so she sent Tug after a few of the bodies they’d left in one of the earlier chambers. It was as he was pushing the last body into the door way when the accident occurred. Apparently the woman wasn’t actually dead…she reached out and grasped Ivy’s leg as she was being served up as dinner…dragging the lady in green with her. Tug went crazy and charged into the writhing vines. The two struggled in vain to extricate themselves from the moon flower’s grasp, but were quickly pulled under, never to be seen again.

~

he waves fall on the ship as pirates, team rampage and wererat zombies alike battle on board. Deathstroke shoots one zombie in the face scattering its head all over Blink. Blink squeals as the remains slide down her face. She quickly throws a javelin teleporting a pirate off the ship. Deathstroke smiles at Blink’s misfortune. Her goody-two-shoes attitude has been getting on his nerves but it’s also lead to this carnage he’s currently enjoying. Deathstroke fires another shot to his left killing a pirate and then fires another to the right killing a wererat zombie. Deathstroke then spots a ghost pirate and pulls out his longsword charging at it. He jumps up onto a banister, sliding down to the deck below and slips on the blood soaked wood. The sword flies from his hand bouncing off a crate. It continues high into the sky. Deathstroke keep his eye on the ghostly buccaneer, he pulls out his gun to fire. The airborne sword returns into view landing straight into Deathstroke’s skull. Deathstroke collapses onto the deck while the carnage still continues around him.

~

Doomsday’s immunity hasn’t been a problem before. The Hellwasp venom coursing through his body has created an unexpected reaction. Doomsday’s body was swelling and it was swelling fast. Light crackled across his skin. His immune system was working overtime and it was killing him too. He would have roared if he could breathe but as the last moments of his life came to an end he could only think of two things, his cat George and the mess he’s about to make. Doomsday’s body explodes sending his shards throughout the room killing the mass of hellwasps.

~

Rogue had survived the quest underneath Kaer Maga. Although it was horrible to see her teammates die, she felt a sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to work with such horrible people. She leaves the tavern and looks up at the sky. She remember peaceful nights with friends and even lovers staring at those stars. Well, not those stars, she couldn’t even spot a single constellation she knew. It honed in deep that she was in a strange world. She notices a falling star and in hope that maybe wishes actually work here, she wishes that she’d be taken away from this awful world and be with her friends. The star grows larger. Rogue looks perplexed and then realizes that it’s heading right for her. She could barely move before it hits her and turns her into fire and red mist.

View
Dark of the Moon - Pt. II
[Pathfinders] - Day 74

After freeing Wonder Woman from her torture chamber, the explained that the Drow had captured her because of her power and celestial blood. They had been conducting horrid experiments on divine creatures, torturing them slowly as they conducted their research. Once the group healed her of her wounds, they moved on to the next room of the crypt. Water cascaded from a quartet of demonic mouths that opened near the ceiling of the cylindrical chamber. The water fell passed dark lunar class pools on sporadic balconies, before descending into a whirlpool. Mist covered the floor area, which Hyourinmaru dispelled with a magical gust of wind. Yet some mist remained, those gaseous forms of four Hezrou Demons. The lurching brutes coalesced and attacked the Pathfinders, using their size and strength to slow their movement. They could even teleport, at one point dividing the party in two. Soon, thanks to new addition Wonder Woman and the powerful upgrades to Iron Woman’s suit, the group finally destroyed half of the demons. The other two, intimidated, turned to vapor and fled.

In the next corridor, the moldy ceiling was littered with hanging chains, most of which were full of broken prisoners wearing sharp, seven-pointed crowns of iron, their wails of suffering echoing through the tight space. Other rent bodies covered the floor, their forms torn limb from limb and left to rot slowly. Following Dove’s inexplicable disappearance, Loki remained the only healer in the group – and the others implored him to heal the surviving torture victims. He initially refused, but Hyourinmaru finally convinced him to spare some of his precious magic. Mending the wounded and sending them on their way, the Pathfinders continued to the next chamber – the largest they had yet seen in the underbelly of the Moonscar. Hanging gibbets swayed from the ceiling of the massive cylindrical chamber above the mist-covered ground below. On the floor a black vapor obscured the surface. As Iron Woman started scanning the area for magic, two rifle shots rang out – the bullets bouncing harmlessly off her armor. They came from two of several Clockwork Soldiers, robotic guardians of such dark places. When Superman and Wonder Woman flew in to investigate, the black mist vanished. Unfortunately it was because the mist, a powerful demon in vaporous form, possessed Wonder Woman. While the others tended to the rather weak Clockwork, Wonder Woman quickly turned on her companions. Before he could react, Diana wrapped Loki in her magic lasso and tied him to a nearby gibbet – dangling him helplessly. When Hyourinmaru tried to free him, Wonder Woman turned on him as well. With furious fervor her attacks grew stronger with each strike, as did her Amazonian rage. Superman tried to subdue her, but couldn’t grapple the seasoned warrior. Iron Woman moved to help Loki as well, but upon realizing the Lasso of Truth’s purpose began questioning him instead. She tried to get a straight answer from him on his true purpose for helping them, but even in the grip of a magical truth serum he managed to avoid revealing any condemning answers. Getting nowhere with the interrogation, Iron Woman and Flash finally freed Loki. Meanwhile, Superman and Hyourinmaru at last pinned down Wonder Woman and tied her up.

Shadow demon2Helpless in this form, the shadow demon vacated his host and formed his own visage. The colossal figure towered over those in the room at a height of 30 feet. Superman quickly freed Wonder Woman, but the demon lashed out – nearly killing her in a single barrage. With arms that could reach anywhere in the chamber, the demon raked and bit at the Pathfinders at every turn. The incorporeal fiend was resistant to their attacks to the point of being nearly immune, and even magic seemed to be of little use. Things look dire as the demon began ripping the Pathfinders apart.

It was then that Natasha Stark, using an identification prototype in her suit, focused in and scanned the demon. She detected that at its heart was an alien engine, not unlike the arc reactor in her own chest. She fired on it, cracking the empowering device – but inadvertently triggered a self-destruct countdown. The Pathfinders tried to scatter and retreat as quickly as possible, but the demon would not let them flee so easily. He sealed off their passage with a thick wall of stone, and hampered their magic with a resilient sphere of force. Flash warned everyone to leave, but was grabbed and ingested by the shadow fiend. Mere seconds remained until all trapped in the room would be vaporize.

Finally Stark sped over to the demon, grabbing the core at its heart. She flew up out of the room through a small hole in its roof. Soaring quickly above the surface of the dark moon, she sent a final and brief message back to the ship. Then, holding the detonator close, Stark and the heart exploded in a wave of fire and ash. In an instant, all that remained was the fine vapor of disintegrated metal.

Down below, Flash watched helplessly as his old friend sacrificed herself. Screaming in vain, he watched as the night sky once again grew dark. From the destruction and silence, a single remain fell back to the ground. Stark’s helmet which, still burning, bounced and rolled to Flash’s feet.


TOTAL XP

Dale: 203,820
Ricardo: 203,300
Will: 184,400
James: 181,100
Caitlin: 94,550

Sarah: 210,000
View
Dark of the Moon - Pt. I
[Pathfinders] - Day 74

After recovering from the attack on the watchtower, the Pathfinders decided to split forces. One would venture to Somal, the planet’s moon, while the other would try to locate and delay Galactus – who had recently arrived planetside. The primary group – led by Loki – dressed as Asgardians and flew in Stark’s magical bottle-ship to the moon’s surface.

Descending into a chasm near the southern pole, the vessel docked in an entryway guarded by half-fiends and demons. One particularly terrifying demon marched up to face the intruders, proving strong-willed against even the silver-tongued Loki. He demanded the good-aligned “Asgardians” – which included everyone except Loki – to remain in the ship. Loki decided to scout ahead alone, searching for the back-entrance to Allevrah Azrinae’s mystic sanctum.

To do so, he needed to first enter the opulent harem of the Vampire Mistress Euphrixia. At the entrance to the perfumed building stood two nude Alu-Demons. The pink-skinned and pointy-eared beauties enticed Loki to join in their revelry. Though he tried to talk his way out of it, the demons turned the tables and magically charmed him into participating. Just as Loki got down to business, he realized the churning and writhing mob was little more than an collective of bodies, which grabbed and ripped at him instantly. Loki took considerable damage, pulled to the floor by the masses. He tried to cast spells that would free himself but was unable – especially when the “offended” Alu-demons returned and attacked him as well.

Just as things looked most grim, the matron Euphrixia entered and dismissed the demons. Apologizing for their rough welcome, she healed Loki’s wounds and invited him for a chat. Loki asked for her to pull some strings for his companions, and let them enter the Moonscar. She agreed, under the condition that one of his cohorts be willing to “appease” her Alu-demons, who have been starved for physical attention as all their other play-things have died. Using her damage resilience and penchant for nude women as reasons, Loki asked Iron Woman to take one – two, rather – for the team. Stark reluctantly agreed, spending half and hour ensuring the Alu-demons wouldn’t walk straight for some time.

Their business over, the Pathfinders were at last allowed in. Euphrixia escorted the group into a secret chamber beneath her lair, which would eventually lead to Azrinae. Into the lightless cavern below, the Pathfinders didn’t get far before they were attacked by vicious creatures. Three tentacled, worm-like somalcygots lashed out with wrenching tentacles and acidic jaws. They blind-sided Loki and Flash, who suffered heavy damage. Superman rushed to their aid, taking the attacks for them – immediately grappled and repeatedly shredded by the monsters. Fortunately his incredible durability kept him alive. The others gathers together, trading spells and blows until finally – after an intense and lengthy battle – they finally destroyed two of the creatures. The third, alone and defenseless, ran off.

Deciding not to pursue the survivor, the Pathfinders headed into the next rooms – first a ravaged ancient library, and then a torture chamber. While Loki tried to get everyone to keep moving, some decided to investigate the bodies left bound and dangling in the pit of pain. Among them was what appeared to be an aasimar, a celestial woman bound and beaten to near-death. Seeing her still breathing, Hyourinmaru flew her aid – only to be snatched by a living trap in the floor. The tongue-shaped trigger lashed out at Iron Woman and Loki, swallowing them as well. As Flash and Superman looked on helplessly, Hyourinmaru quickly expended energy to gain insight on an unfamiliar spell – one that allowed him to possess the trap. Controlling it long enough to rescue the torture victim, the Pathfinders quickly cleared the area.

Once free of the trap, the woman’s identity was finally revealed. It was none other than Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, somehow transported to this world and subsequently tortured by the demonic residents therein. As the group healed the warrior princess, she finally became coherent enough to recognize and speak to her rescuers.

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TOTAL XP

Dale: 163,820
Ricardo: 163,300
Sarah: 151,350
Will: 144,400
James: 141,100
Caitlin: 94,550
View
Dead Space
[Pathfinders] - Day 72

The assembled Pathfinders gathered aboard the Watchtower to discuss the fate of their recent captive, Loki. Those who knew him didn’t trust him, and those who didn’t considered his help in finding the leaders of the Drow entrenched on the moon.

“It seems you’ll need some help if you want to stop him from entering this world completely," Loki suggested to the group. "Someone who has seen the structures of Moonscar and arrived at such a beneficial moment to aid you.” Loki spoke softly, Dove close and ready to disable him should he try anything. He remained bound and his head was bowed in contrition. “Of course, I can always go back to my cell and imagine the fires of the world burning if you’d like.”

As most of the heroes returned to duty on Golarion, a handful remained behind to plan their assault on the Moonscar. Before they could finish, however, a loud explosion rocked the space station. Alarms blared and Batman announced the arrival of numerous unwanted guests. Soon these intruders appeared – vicious spacefaring plant creatures called Mi-Go. The Mi-Go seeped in through the solid walls of the station, surrounding the outnumbered Pathfinders.

Several Mi-Go surrounded Hyourinmaru and attacked with their razor-sharp pincers. Others faced off against Superman, Flash and Batman. With Hyourinmaru taking heavy injuries and doing his best, lashing back with draconic claws and fangs, new recruit Dove hurried over to heal his injuries. Iron Woman reluctantly gave Loki his scepter back as they too joined the fray.

When two of the Mi-Go knocked out Batman, even more rushed into the room and crowded the Pathfinders. Hyourinmaru continued to face the foes as well as possible. Iron Woman, while constantly grappled by the plant-things, struggled to feel very effective against them. Superman and Flash, however, fared better. Fighting side-by-side they pummeled two of the creatures into submission. Later Superman joined the others and unleashed a powerful blast of ionized heat energy, burning through a large wave like acid.

As the group tended to the remainders, a dire warning came across the PA system: “Self Destruct: Initiated. T-Minus two minutes and counting.” Wasting no time, Flash dashed off around the group and took the lift into the lower-level Engineering Bay. There he came face-to-face with a second wave of invaders – Drow-designed cyborgs called Damascene Drow. The Damascene Drow opened fire, all missing the scarlet speedster. Rather than run away he heard the sounds of a struggle nearby and decided to investigate.

In the next room, Flash found Natasha Stark’s protege Aar’ya being slapped around by one of the Damascenes. He swung and punched the machine, but broke his knuckle against its solid head. Aar’ya, though severely wounded, bravely jumped on the robots back and hung on for dear life. Flash struggled to recuperate before rejoining the fight.

Meanwhile the rest of the team had made it downstairs. Superman once again unleashed a devastating blast of fire energy, nearly destroying most of the Damascenes. The others took turns attacking as well, corralled and pinned down inside the lift. Eventually they destroyed the mechanical army and moved to the security door in an attempt to stop the self-destruct timer.

After Flash rescued Aar’ya – and received her thanks – he decided to check out a disturbance in the artillery room he has spotted earlier. As he opened the door, however, he revealed that the room had been blown open. The vacuum-sealed room erupted, nearly pulling Flash into space instantly. Others slid across the door as well, rolling and falling toward the vacuum.

Superman flew over in a blur, quickly grabbing onto Flash’s hand. As he strained to pull him in, Iron Woman toppled backward and collided into them. With magical help from Hyourinmaru, Superman found the strength to hold onto his Justice-League teammate. Flash was finally able to climb up to safety, but Iron Woman flew out behind him. Superman grabbed onto her, saving her from the void of space. Fortunately, as things seemed most dire, the emergency systems of the Watchtower reset its protocols. The force-field disabled in the blast returned, sealing the area and ceasing the vacuum. The locked security door also opened, and the self-destruct timer deactivated.

Loki quickly rushed into the security room at the same time, coming face-to-face with an imposing, metallic figure. It was an Inevitable, a lawful and interdimensional being that generally only arrived in the Material World to rectify a shift in cosmic balance. The Inevitable kicked Loki out of the way, turning to face the Pathfinders – battered and exhausted – who contemplated their next move…

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TOTAL XP

Ricardo: 150,500
Dale: 150,020
Sarah: 138,850
Will: 131,900
James: 126,800
Caitlin: 81,850
Hunter: 81,250
View
For Wrath and Ruin
[Pathfinders] - Day 69

With Iron Woman revitalized, the other Pathfinders caught their breath a moment and recovered from their civil skirmish. Jenkin Dragonsbane, still raging on adrenaline, decided to search for the runaway goblin by heading down the corridor behind them. Deciding to move on without him, the rest continued on.

In the next room, Stark detected high levels of toxic radiation emanating from the abysium in the caverns. Flash was at first struck by the radiation, but quickly overcame the effects. The others were unaffected.

Beyond the irradiated hall was a massive, circular chamber with no floor in the center. Above, the smooth conical walls extended upward twenty-five feet before tapering to a point, while below, a churning cloud of blue-green fog obscured the shaft-like interior after a drop of twenty feet. The group deduced the fog was actually a physical manifestation of mage’s private sanctum, a portal to a pocket dimension. When they recalled hearing rumors of an dark cult, powerful sages and an ancient dragon, the Pathfinders quickly dismissed the thought of jumping in after them.

They moved on to a secret door, detected by Stark, where they heard giants conversing on the other side. Flash bluffed the guards, feigning to be a fellow giant in distress. The guard opened the door, only to be greeted by a lightning bolt by Doctor Strange, a shield toss by Captain America, and another spell by Hyourinmaru. The giant retreated, and another stepped up to attack. The two were rapidly overwhelmed by the Pathfinders, however, who quickly secured the area.

Further down they came to the center of the subterranean spire. There the giant Chief Jubbek held a private celebration, watching two hill giant battle each other while surrounded by concubines and a sabre-toothed Smilodon. Flash, made invisible by Strange, reconned the area and spotted a shard of the Sihedron – the Shard of Wrath – fixed to Jubbek’s morningstar. Devising a plan, the Pathfinders opted to bluff the giant chief. Hyourinmaru, disguising himself as a blue half-dragon, claimed to be an emissary from Cadrilkasta. He claimed the ancient dragon ordered him to return her shard. Enraged at the recall, Chief Jubbek demanded more violence. He called for a fighting tournament, to be civil, and allowed the Pathfinders to pick their opponents.

Strange went first, and called for a hill giant. After getting struck painfully in the opening skirmish, Strange cast invisibility on himself and moved away. He blasted the giant several times with bolts of fire, easily felling the confused foe. Jubbek, furious at the “cowardly” display, decided to change the rules of the next fight. He sent two giants – one fire and one hill – against Hyourinmaru. The Dragon Disciple unleashed a flurry of frost spells, decimating them both. He took a few hits, but soon flew away where his powerful magic finally eliminated both giants.

Even more enraged, Jubbek declared “best four of five. In fact, best four AGAINST five.” Jubbek ordered two of his concubines, a hill giant guard, and the smilodon to attack the party of five. The giants rushed in, engaging the Pathfinders. The smilodon leaped into the air, catching Hyourinmaru by surprise and clutching him in its claws. Slicing into him, Hyourinmaru had few defenses. Finally the furious feline bit onto Hyourinmaru’s neck, snapping it violently.

Doctor Strange rushed over to help, casting a healing spell which brought Hyourinmaru back to life. As the other Pathfinders slowly tried to turn the tide of battle, the smilodon pounced on Strange and – in one violent flurry – ripped him asunder as well.

Suddenly, from a stone Port-O-Potty that inexplicably appeared against the wall, a relieved Deadpool stepped out and warned everyone not to go in there. Upset over missing out on a good fight, Deadpool rushed in. His first act was to draw a strange black disk from his belt pouch. He—


“Ok, I can explain this. See, it was a nifty little Insta-Portal I bought off of the Acme website. Pretty sweet. I threw it under the cat thing and it went Bye-Bye!”

“Yeah, well it’s not the first time you lost a good pus—”

“That will do, thank you. There are minors reading this.”

“Who, Rico? He’s not a minor. Just looks like one.”

“What about Hunter?”

“…Touchè.”

“Anyway, moral of the story? I saved the day. Carry on.”


After the disposal of the smilodon and soon the giant reinforcements, Jubbek himself joined the fray. He wailed on Deadpool several times as his two remaining concubines prepared to fight as well. Before they got the chance, however, the Pathfinders – possessing dragon’s breath bestowed on them by Hyourinmaru – lined up and blasted the area with cones of frost. The concubines fell quickly and Jubbek tried to resist, but was no match for the unified Pathfinders.

The killing blow came from Deadpool, who whipped out his double pistols. Clustering his rapid shots under Jubbek’s chin, he blasted the head off the raging giant. (“Giggidy”)

Having cleared the area, the Pathfinders took stock of who they lost – and gained – and finally took possession of the Shard of Wrath. They scoured the area for whatever loot they could carry, and finally returned to the Watchtower to rest and regroup.


TOTAL XP

Ricardo: 141,500
Dale: 139,520
Sarah: 129,850
Will: 123,900
James: 117,800
Hunter: 81,250
Caitlin: 72,850
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Back Into the Dark
[Pathfinders] - Day 69

Having rested and recuperated in the Watchtower for several days, the Pathfinders finally returned to Guiltspur. There they found the Giant encampments nearly cleared out, apparently cleaned by its prior occupants – who had fled as the heroes rested. Down below the cavern was now blocked by hand-placed boulders, slowing but not stopping the Pathfinders’ advance. With a few hours of digging, they finally continued on.

With three directions from which to choose, Hyourinmaru – the most adept at finding his way – chose a Northern passage. Iron Woman led the way, halting when she spotted a Cold-Rider Goblin flashing around a shard-looking metal object to a hill giant. The Goblin ran off into a mining shaft, riding the ore cart down the passage. The giant stood his ground, trying his best to hold back the Pathfinders – but was quickly overwhelmed.

The Pathfinders discussed what to do next for some time, finally deciding to follow the sound of a muffled voice in the direction of the Goblin. They followed down into the passage until they reached a round cavern. Across the chasm the Goblin held a tied-up Leroy Jenkin Dragonbane over a seemingly bottomless pit in the center. He warned the Pathfinders to lower their weapons or watch their friend fall to his death. Strange ignored the ultimatum, blasting the Goblin with magical rays – but unfortunately missed. The Goblin dropped Jenkins and began a retreat. Captain America quickly dove into action, literally, leaping into the chasm and grabbing the falling rope. Hyourinmaru followed, casting a spell of flight on him.

As Rogers and Hyourinmaru led Jenkins aside, Flash rushed the Goblin and exchanged blows. To the rear, reinforcements arrived. Two ghostly Vilkacis – ethereal werewolves – drifted from the walls. While one engaged Doctor Strange in physical combat, another possessed Iron Woman’s body and suit. Inexplicably, the suit transformed as well as her body, both forming a terrifying amalgam of beast and machine.

As the Goblin managed to slip away from Flash, the remaining Vilkacis slashed Strange until he fell. It then turned to Hyourinmaru, and the Dragon Disciple met the creature with claws and fangs of his own. Stark howled and rushed to Rogers, who was still untying Jenkins. Rather than leave his ally helpless, Rogers suffered repeated attacks as he finished untying him. Just as he was freed, however, Stark bit Jenkins – transforming him into a stocky, Dwarven werewolf. Outnumbered and overpowered, Rogers retreated defensively to Strange. There we revived him with a healing potion and worked at holding both Stark and Jenkins at bay. As Flash ran up to help, Jenkins bit him – creating yet another were-spawn.

Hyourinmaru and Strange magically destroyed the Vilkacis, allowing the group to focus on their cursed allies. Hyourinmaru prepared a potion of remove curse, waiting until Flash bit at him before shoving it down his throat. Cured of the lycanthopy, Flash helped them do the same for Jenkins – though the Dwarven warrior proved very difficult to subdue.

Lastly the group turned to Stark. Protected by her incredibly tough armor, Stark shrugged off most attacks as she unleashed her bestial fury on Rogers and Strange. Proving ineffective against his ex-wife, Rogers relegated mostly to defending others as Strange and Hyourinmaru blasted her with magic.

As Stark slowly began to weaken, Hyourinmaru took one final shot. To his surprise, however, the energy missile blast proved far stronger than he had anticipated. The blast of ice pelted Stark, sending her flying backward. She fell to the ground, her vitals and suit systems instantly powering down. She was dead.

Hyourinmaru watched in helpless horror and surprise at killing his own friend. Just then, however, JARVIS rebooted from a backup system. Stark’s suit flickered on and finally reactivated, along with several life-support systems. The suit revived Stark, and as she gasped for air it shifted and transformed back into its usual humanoid shape. Stark stood up, looking around at the Pathfinders huddled around her.

“What just happened? Please tell me no one kissed me.”


TOTAL XP

Dale: 126,720
James: 126,420
Ricardo: 122,500
Sarah: 117,050
Will: 111,100
Hunter: 81,250
Caitlin: 72,850
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A Disarming Situation
[Pathfinders] - Day 67

After defeating General Stom and her crew, the Pathfinders continues clearing the building. They next barged into a sitting room, which was occupied by three drunken plains giants seated at a table. The heroes quickly surrounded the giants – who Stark somehow recognized as Gorg, Grig and Fecundor – and beating them into submission. Gorg surrendered, only to be knocked unconscious by Captain America. Stark pummeled Grig with a powerful blast from her repulsors, knocking him against a wall. The others quickly surrounded Fecundor, and within moments he too fell to the overwhelming numbers.

As the Pathfinders scoured the room, noting a locked iron chest in one corner, Stark decided to try her hand at a magic trick – ripping the table cloth from the table without spilling the drinks. She failed, and the loud crash of the table and its toppings echoed throughout the building. Before they could react, two hell-hounds emerged from a nearby room, immediately blasting the area with cones of flame. The heavily-wounded Pathfinders made a hasty retreat from the room, with Flash dragging the near-death Strange into a nearby pantry. As he healed his wounds with a potion, Captain America did his best to protect the other evacuees. Stark, pelted with flame, fell to the ground as her suit once again shattered. Mangled suit in hand, she fell back to the central hall. Hyourinmaru cast several Ice-Wall spells, slowing the hell hounds and allowing the Pathfinders to retreat safely. Once Strange awoke, he teleported himself and Flash to safety. The duo regrouped with the others, taking stock of their wounds and losses.

Unwilling to risk waiting several days for Stark to rebuild, Rodgers suggested she return to the Watchtower while the others proceeded. Stark had no option but to comply, and the Pathfinders moved on. When the investigated the room from which the hell hounds emerged, they encountered a small Wyrmling tied to a roast. Rushing to his draconic kin, Hyourinmaru quickly untied the young one. The Wyrmling introduced himself as Spyro, and as Hyourinmaru caught him up to speed on the goals and history of the Pathfinders, the rest of the group pressed on.

Down below the Giant’s Hall, the stairs descended into a half-chiseled cavern. Natural lava flows hollowed out side passages, but the majority of the area was artificially excavated. In the center of the corridor stood three fire giants, laughing to one another in their lax security post. They stood idly by a large statue, which looked like an armed giant. Silently sneaking in, the Pathfinders prepared for a repeat of the quick take-down above. However Hyourinmaru, flying above, accidentally hit his head on a stalactite and alerted the giants. Even so, the Pathfinders were quite efficient at defeated the towering foes.

As Flash began looting the bodies, the statue in the corridor suddenly sprang to life. It lifted its razor-sharp sword, slicing Flash’s arm clean off. In shock, he staggered backward as Captain America did his best to pull him away. The statue – identified as a Caryatid Golem – marched forward, and just as quickly sliced off Captain America’s arm as well. Hyourinmaru and Spyro rallied to attack the golem as Strange teleported the wounded allies to safety. As he tended to their wounds and shock, the draconians below flew out of range of the golem. The golem tried to throw its sword, but it was ineffective. Before it could make another hit, Spyro blasted it with corrosive acid, crumbling it to the ground.

Regrouping once more, the Pathfinders retreated to the Watchtower. Realizing the medical bay on the space station was empty and underutilized, Hyourinmaru – the wealthiest of the party – returned to Kaer Maga. There he enlisted the aid of doctors, nurses and a powerful healing sage. Employing them as staff aboard the Watchtower, the new medical bay immediately tended to the wounded heroes. The healer regenerated the arms of Rodgers and West, and the rest of the party decided to rest there for the night before returning once more to Guiltspur.


TOTAL XP

Dale: 115,120
James: 115,020
Ricardo: 110,900
Sarah: 105,450
Will: 97,600
Hunter: 74,050
Caitlin: 72,850
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