Chapter Five: Ashton and the Closed Door
Reality has escaped our investigators as they find themselves amidst the cosmic soup of the Astral Plane. Before them, the dark magician Ashton Connors stands in a summoning circle, calling an Old One to him with the help of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth that he took from Arthur Godson’s painting.
As the party approached the sorcerer, they became aware of demons lurking in the cosmic soup. There were three in total, two appearing as wretched, horned abominations, while the other, a demon of despair, took the form of Gene Simmons (yes you heard me right…sadly).
John Winslow was first to notice the great, glowing eyes of the creature that Ashton called to him from a rift in the Astral Plane. John grimaced and took aim at the Magician, choosing to strike with the rest of his allies, while the demons cackled and moaned all around them.
Liam ignored the infernal creatures, choosing to fire at Ashton, hoping to slay the magician. To the reporter’s surprise, the bullet flew over his target’s shoulder, curved around the summoning circle, and flew in his direction. Liam was barely able to dodge the bullet as it soared this way and that, before finally loosing momentum and falling to the ground. From this the group learned of Ashton’s skill at defensive magic.
Bastien and Arthur, knowing that bullets would be of little help, decided to test Ashton’s defense against both devilish and angelic steel. The flames of both weapons scorched the lich’s flesh as Bastien and Arthur, who had assumed their true forms, let loose a flurry of blows.
Dan and Neil were more careful, attempting to place their shot where bullets were most needed. Neil drew the ire of the Gene Simmons look-alike with a few well-placed shots, while Dan attempted to use Ashton’s own ward against him. Both tasks succeeded in part, and brought valuable information to the table…And then the demons attacked.
A terrible, devil-like creature recognized Bastien and Arthur and ordered them to leave, that their place was elsewhere. A brawl ensued, with a similar combat erupting with Liam and a dog-faced demon, as well as John, Neil, and Dan, who battled Gene Simmons.
The battle was long and bloody, with Ashton Connors paying no mind to the combat around him, watching instead the eldritch creature on the other side of the great rift. It seemed that Ashton was nearly invincible in his summoning circle, having managed to heal the wounds that had been dealt to him by Arthur and Bastien.
Bastien, thinking on his feet, preformed a wing buffet that destroyed a number of candles that stabilized the circle. Realizing that the entire plane shuddered after only a few candles were destroyed, Bastien resolved to destroy every candle in sight, urging his allies to do the same.
Soon the entire party had gathered around circle, destroying candles while Ashton grew increasingly impatient. The magician couldn’t leave the circle and stop the group without ruining the ritual, and his guardian demons had been scattered.
Disorder spread to the enemy ranks even quicker when the devil-like demon fell, followed by Gene Simmons. The dog-faced demon abandoned his battle with Liam in order to heal Gene, which was mistake, for it allowed his enemies time to destroy the remaining candles, and the circle as a whole.
Now the cosmic soup had closed in around them, banishing the demons back to whatever world they had come from. Ashton Connors turned to flee, a gleam in his eye telling the party that he was in trouble. Dan took no chances and tackled the magician, forcing him to stay and face whatever punishment he deserved, even if it put his own life at risk.
The party watched in awe as a great hand made of stardust emerged from the rift and closed over Ashton Connors…and Dan Remington. The two of them, locked in a clash, were pulled into the cosmic rift and vanished from sight, dispelling the party from the Astral Plane and returning them to Caliburn House at long last.
The guests had been sent home and the murder, solved, thanks to the rag tag party of occult detectives. Landon Connors rewarded the group handsomely for their efforts in defeating his father, whose death had been obviously exaggerated. Now the group was free to do as they wished, though not before Alethea Hill collected each person’s contact information, explaining that Landon Connors may need the party’s help in the future, especially if they wanted to rescue Dan Remington.
“Well until then,” Arthur said, turning to the group. “I’ve got more alcohol back at my place if anyone wants to join me. And besides, I think I have a wonderful idea for new painting!”