Abraxas Silvermane (Connor), *Akkamas Mohaïva (Mike), *Braxton Chabbone (Steve), Jone Constance (Aaron), Kelwyn (Rodney), Tim (Shaun), & Dugan Whitefeather (DM)
The Hellblazers watched as the Alhazared farmhouse burned to the ground. General Silvermane gathered his advisors and returned to the city, inviting the heroes to join them in council should they so choose. Malhavok wandered off, disappearing into the smoke, as carrion birds and peasants descended on the corpses that littered the battlefield.
Deciding they had best investigate the farmhouse, to insure Vecna was killed, Abraxas and Jone used a litany of cantrips to extinguish the blaze. The building was, of course, in ruin, with most of the second floor completely destroyed. While Tim slipped off to scour the beastmaster giant for information and treasures, Akkamas entered the house, discovering a single body, huddled beneath the razed dining table.
Upon further investigation, it was determined that the body was that of Ocasta’s oldest, the boy named Jacen ibn Jace. The warlock used his eldritch powers to speak with the deceased child, verifying his identity and how he’d succumbed to the smoke and flames. He told how he’d become separated from his family, that his father and mother were arguing because Jace couldn’t bear to leave their son behind, but Ocasta was adamant — they had to leave then or they would all die. The last he saw of them, they were standing at the fireplace.
Braxton Chabbone followed, searching the hovel for signs of magic, uncovering a magical painting hanging above the mantle of the fireplace (that Abraxas was able to recall having been of a keep set deep in an evergreen wood with a silver-haired woman looking toward it) and a gem of true seeing that Chabbone apprehended with the help of Tim and his flying carpet.
Tim and Braxton exited the dwelling and tucked the gem, along with some sizable gems and potions that the elf had liberated from the giant, into the paladin’s folding boat.
Meanwhile, Kelwyn and Jone entered the farmhouse basement after the druid had uncovered the secret entrance into its depths. They were soon joined by Abraxas. In the cellar they found several more bodies — that of Alhazared‘s hired hands, but still no sign of the rest of the family.
Hearing a noise, another secret door was opened to reveal a grizzled ranger approaching through a smuggler’s tunnel that ran from the coast. Dugan Whitefeather introduced himself as a friend of Jace and Malhavok. He had been tracking the giants, but upon seeing the rising smoke from the farm opted to enter via the secret passage. The ranger agreed to lead them all to Malhavok so they could discuss the possible whereabouts of Ocasta, Jace, the other two children, and, of course, Vecna.
The group made their way into the ruined city of Venta Korum, headed for the fallen Kirk of Korum Hall.
Entering the Kirk, they found the Dragon Knights on alert. General Adair Silvermane was dead, his body laid out on the altar and being attended to by a Dragon Priestess and Silvermane‘s Vizier, Eldorai, while Velkor and an unnamed dwarf stood guard.
Approaching the altar, Akkamas reached out and spoke with Silvermane, pulling him back from the land of the unliving for a brief respite. It was learned that, after a tryst with a servant girl, he was approached in his chambers by a red-tressed temptress, a Vistani named Malesca Daemonrouge. She was, in fact, a vampire, and she bled the General, leaving his corpse behind.
While the rest of the Hellblazers dealt with the troubles inside the Kirk, Jone investigated the exterior, drawn toward a marble statue newly erected before the gates of an ancient boneyard.
The statue was of High Queen Audrina, wife of the last High King, Thorin Robrent Korum, who was rumored to have poisoned her husband in a bid to assume control of the kingdom. It was also said she and Malhavok were lovers.
Moving on, Jone took note of the statue of Dorin Robrent Korum, Thorin‘s father, who died during the War of Unification, leaving the son to assume the mantle of rulership. Finding a secret panel in the statue, Jone inadvertently set off a nasty poison gas trap. Once he regained his senses, he discovered a thick, leather-bound tome that was a complete genealogy of the Korum line.
Not sensing any value there, he left the book behind and, after a quick message spell, set out to reconnect with his compatriots.
Meanwhile, back inside the Kirk, the Dragon Priestess had suddenly become distrustful of the Hellblazers and ordered them to be gone. Rather than enter into a conflict, they followed Dugan to a stair that opened into a secret tunnel that led to Malhavok‘s favorite watering hole in Throat-Punch Alley.
They found the famed wizard well into his cups. He professed his love for Ocasta and the children. When Akkamas informed Malhavok of Jacen‘s death, he became inconsolable. Asking where the survivors might have escaped to, Malhavok told them the painting over the fireplace was a magical portal leading to Jocasta’s Keep, far to the North.
The party, along with Dugan, left, traveling along the coast and reentering the Alhazared farmhouse via the smuggler’s tunnel. Once back in the razed building, Abraxas used Ocasta’s Port Key to unlock the painting and the Hellblazers were transported to Jocasta’s Keep.
Kelwyn stepped forward, stunned to see that he recognized the fortress. Though it was greatly changed and in ruin, this was where he had lived for the years he spent in tutelage with the druid Baldham. He was, in a sense, home. Remembering a secret way into his master’s hovel through a root cellar, they made their way to investigate, but the cellar had yet to be constructed, being separated by millennia, after all.
There was, however, a sinkhole. Jone and Tim climbed in and discovered a burrow hole leading to the keep. Following it, with Kelwyn behind, Tim discovered a trap door into Jocasta‘s lair.
Tim raised the door and a voice whispered, “Who’s there?” Tim recognized Jacinda, Ocasta and Jace‘s middle child. “It’s the elf who stayed with you in Korum,” he replied. “What are you doing down there?” she asked. Tim looked about, then replied, “I’ve got a puppy.” Jone nudged Kelwyn, “Turn into a puppy,” he whispered and the druid complied. Tim picked him up and held him up to the trapdoor for the little girl to see.
Are the Hellblazers on the verge of finally catching up to Vecna once and for all? Will they be able to kill the wizard before he becomes an all-powerful lich-god? Stay tuned… the best is yet to come.