Alithor, Raguel and Hanuman ventured forward to the next point in their memory, a dormant volcano to the northwest that contained pure fire to use in The Ritual.
On the way, Raguel noticed a series of explosions below the Sky-ship. The party decided to investigate and found a giant demon fighting a well-organized group of over 60 teleporting devils. The demon wielded terrible magics, a massive sword and a flaming whip, but the methodical devils slowly and surely tore the being apart without sustaining a single casualty.
Alithor questioned the Devils’ purpose on the material plane. He found that they were relatively simple, soldier-like devils, bound by someone with a long, dragon-like name, shortened to Linaro. They were bound specifically to remove demons and identify rifts in the material plane which opened up to the Abyss. Raguel wanted to tear the fiends asunder immediately, but Alithor wished to speak with their master, and convinced the devils to send Linaro a message.
The master arrived very soon after the Devils sent for him, appearing in human form. Again, Raguel wished to attack anyone who would bind evil outsiders, but Alithor wished to hear him out. After Alithor convinced the binder of the party’s innocence, he explained at least part of what he knew.
Linaro was spending most of his time closing rifts to the Abyss, where demons poured through without proper compacts, and destroying the demons who had already arrived. Apparently his “Legion Devils” were easy to call and quite skilled at destroying demons, when the devils were in large enough number.
He also stated his opinion that the Fallen Champions were, in fact, not directly responsible for the rifts opening. His divinations revealed that some other group of mortals had attempted to infuse Orcus with all the power of the material plane via The Ritual a few months back – shortly before our angelic heroes remembered any of their past – and their ritual had been interrupted by… someone.
The fact that Linaro did not know anything about how they were interrupted suggested the interfering party were highly protected against even god-level knowledge, which itself suggests the influence of Vecna. While the current situation is highly preferable to having no material plane at all, the catastrophe of a half-completed demonic ritual ended up opening rifts from the material plane to the Abyss… in an accelerating fashion.
Linaro stated that he was too busy to deal with all the mortals causing chaos on the continent. His time was spent divining, destroying demons, binding devils, and closing rifts. The devils, in his opinion, were a simple and effective tool. Raguel believed that any introduction of evil onto the material plane was a terrible offense punishable by death. Linaro mentioned something about it being in accordance with a compact, which the group recognized from their angelic past.
In spite of Raguel’s objections, the party did not attack the devils or the steel dragon, and they continued on their way. Linaro suggested that, should they find a rift, to destroy the demons and inform him.
While the party did not find a rift, they did find demons. Or rather, demons found them, teleporting in a somewhat-uncoordinated ambush. Raguel tore apart Hezrous and Nalfeshnees with ease while Alithor blasted with his wings and Hanuman shot away with manticore spines, but a small flying humanoid figure was attempting to charm him, and two massive figures approached from the ground.
The massive creatures were Goristros, huge minotaur-like demons with great power and toughness. In spite of charms and giant demonic attacks, the party methodically destroyed all but the humanoid figure, who jaunted away when all was lost.
Finally the party made it to a now-active volcano wreathed under clouds of ash caught in unnatural fire. The party had previously negotiated with the Enchantress some protections against fire, and so they could venture through the flowing lava with relative safety.
Here they found the fire-protected remnants of a lost lab with some interesting artifacts lying around. More importantly with some diving through lava Raguel found a side tunnel which made its way to an underground lair. The angels explored this lair and conversed with a voice in the tunnels, who explained that the group had intruded on its home. The angels, needing the element of fire, demanded to have it before leaving. The voice took offense at having to pay intruders to leave, and decided to attack the group.
The voice turned out to be a Sand Dragon, burrowing through the tunnels and taking pot shots with his breath of sand, with terrible stinging winds clinging to the skin, impeding movement and sticking in the area.
Ultimately, however, the party was able to ready itself for the dragon’s upcoming attack and nearly tear it to pieces. After which, the dragon retreated, and upon further exploration the angels found their prize, with a scrawled note in the sand to leave the dragon in peace. They did just that, and left to find the final component in the ritual…