Awakening

I awoke with a throbbing pain in my head, standing in a very hot balmy room, bound to the floor with red-hot shackles. Clare and Alistair were beside me, bound in similar methods. The smell of brimstone and burning hair were all around us.
“Welcome to Hell, Mr. Jones.” A grotesque being stood on a raised platform above us. He held a gavel in one hand. We spoke to him a while, and he gave us a brief (and rather dry) summary of the sins we had committed in life. He deemed us worthy of eternal suffering, and banged his gavel. The floor below us sprung to life and began humming with energy. It was about to send us to our individual planes of torment.
But, for some reason, it failed. For some reason, we all felt strangely powerful. Clare and Alistair were the first to act, breaking free of their shackles with sheer, brute strength. Our gear appeared on us as well, and we drew our weapons with a determined blood lust. The judge sprang up, and ordered his guards to attack.
Each fell to one attack after another, and just as we were about to deal the killing blow to the judge, he opened some sort of portal. A great demon wielding a flaming whip and a lightning sword entered the chamber. A Balor. Perfect.
Knowing we were outmatched, we fled. There was a teleportation circle on the other end of the room. It was our only chance for escape. We took our chances.

Once again I awoke, this time it was cold. And there was sand in my mouth. I tried to move, but a throbbing pain in the right side of my chest prevented me from doing so.
“We’ve really gotta stop meeting like this, Wilward.” I looked up to see Zecht standing over me, grinning. I had washed up on shore somewhere.

He helped me to my feet and half-dragged my to a nearby cave where Reginald was attempting to feed Clare some stew. She looked to be writing around in pain, trying to strike at imaginary enemies. Or perhaps she was just getting friendly with the floor.

I was laid to rest on a mattress, and my gunshot wound was swiftly cauterized. Apparently Gilder had used special bullets that would cause us little harm, and dissolve with the seawater. It turned out that the bastard was on our side all along. The upside to this was that Varsuviux now believed us to be dead. I ate what I could, and fell asleep when Alistair had been dragged into the cave, looking like a drowned sea rat.

The next morning, we had all but recovered. Miraculous, considering what we had endured. Reginald told us that Gilder had made a dead ringer phylactery that he was to present to Varsuviux. He then handed me the real deal. Osirus the minotaur was also on our side, for what that was worth. I told him that we would set out to Artorshade to help free Winfrey and Gilder, recover the antidotes to our poison, and banish Varsuviux, but first I had some preparations to do.

I spent all of the next day researching the books that I had stolen from the Arcane tower. After much careful work, I was able to plant a curse on the phylactery that would blind Varsuviux, and return none of his original power.
Clare got her gear primed up and in order, while Alistair went out hunting. When he returned, he had found and domesticated a wolf. That night, Reginald and Zecht brought us gifts: magical cloaks with Black Dragon emblems on the back.

We wasted no time in drawing up a linked portal to the Gootham central hub. Once we arrived, we found our caravan, with Oscar still inside, right where we left it. There was some graffiti, but we decided to clean it and let it slide. With little time to spare, we left for Artorshade, and set up camp a short ways into the forest. Clare went to rent some horses while I warded our campsite.

We found the mansion, but it was surrounded by a magically warded iron fence, and guarded by dozens of snake people. Osirus the minotaur was posted as a guard, and Alistair got close enough to whisper to him. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but after a couple minutes, he gave me the ‘attack’ hand signal.

Clare led in by throwing a sunrod. I hid behind a gravestone and a fight broke out. It wasn’t easy; they had reinforcements in the form of a lightning boar, but with Osirus’s help, we cleaned them up quite nicely.

Now that we had access to the mansion, it was time for the final hour of this conflict to unfold. O gods I hope Winfrey is alright.

—Wilward Jones

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