Leaving the statued, mutilated, de-statued to quickly go into shock and bleed out from the massive head wound, and looted corpse of the Abbot slumped against the wall our intrepid villains make their way further through the basement of the Cathedral. Fitch scouts his way ahead, all sneaky-like, and peers round a corner into a small room mostly full of two huge, brassy, constructs. He hastens back to the party to tell Sam what he saw, and they immediately start trying to work out what they are dealing with. Sam is just saying that these are almost certainly extremely dangerous and the party should use caution when Adelea steps into the room to engage them.
There is a spirited discussion as to whether this is the best course of action. Adelea withdraws to rejoin the party, followed by a great big golem, its metal bulk filling the corridor and scraping the walls. It follows her to the entrance to the Abbot's room, breathing a cloud of smoke and burning cinders, and swipes at her with its great big brass sword – but our villains soon work out that it's only prepared to follow them to the door of the Abbot's room. As they withdraw into a further room the two constructs stomp back to their guard positions.
They can't see invisible, let's invis up! (Narrator: they can totally see invisible)
After this false start, the party realise they can use the golems' programming, and the fact that constructs are idiots who are incapable of learning, to kill them. Fitch is sent sneaking down the corridor, there to go “woodle-oodle-oodle-oodle-oodle”, flick the Vs, and run away, while Adelea and Grumblejack wait by the doorway ready to attack the brass golem (because that's what it is) as it predictably rumbles up.
Creel helpfully casts communal fire resistance on the party, and throws the odd heal, as the extremely dangerous constructs are despatched with relative ease.
Sam has correctly deduced the words which will open the vault the constructs were guarding (four names in order: Suchandra (the phoenix, the first dweller in the vale), Ara Mathra (the teacher), Macarius (the founder) and Angelo (the maker of the vault).)
Inside is a trove of unholy paraphernalia confiscated from Asmodeans, and also the artefacts mentioned previously in the book of Angelo as being apparently too cool and evil to destroy:
The stygian mirror is a full length mirror made
of bone and black obsidian. Bound within it
are two bone devils – Skaerabus and Skraeth.
They sleep for now but can be awakened
by spilling sentient blood upon the mirror
Once awakened they can be
bargained with. They will trade nine years of
service for their freedom. To be freed, the mirror must be broken. If the mirror is without a
pact, they attack, eager for vengeance. You can
of course keep the mirror intact and use them
as permanent advisors. The mirror forces them
to answer any question posed to them honestly.
(Sam effortlessly works all this out with her knowledge of spellcraft and also planar denizens)
The chalice of Aurelius Vestromo is a powerful vampiric artifact. Hey, it's that chalice that the vampire prince wanted, it's like Vampire Viagra for him or something.
Helbrand is here – a blade of greenish black steel graven with infernal glyphs. Alas that only its blade is here. If it could be reunited with its jeweled pommel and hilt it would be fantastic weapon in the service of evil. The blade has had its tang wrapped it in leather so can still be wielded.
However, incomplete is is merely(!) a +3 good outsider bane greatsword. Still when held it whispers to its wielder: “remake me.” It says nothing else…for now.
Adelea picks up Helbrand. It ought to come in handy for slaying the good outsider the party are just about to go and fight…
Sam hands a chunk of the Saint's remains to Grumblejack, a mummified hand with a wristbone sticking out, and he chucks it against the wall of fire from safely outside the aura of heat radiating from it. As it strikes the wall the flames gutter and die.
Ara Mathra rises as the Wall of Fire fades and readies himself for battle. He has felt every death inside the vale. He knows the villains' every crime. He says nothing to them. He does not try to convince
them to turn back. He knows that hour has long past. They are irredeemably locked into their path of villainy.
He readies for a fight only pausing to shed a few tears.
He does not cry for those who have fallen in battle against our villains and their horde. Those valiant martyrs have left this world and beyond this veil of tears they dwell now forever in paradise. He weeps for those who still suffer at the hands of evil. He weeps for those deluded into following the way of the wicked. And most of all he weeps for these villains who now stand before him. They know not what they do.
Adelea and Grumblejack, hasted, charge through the cavernous star-shaped chamber and engage the four-armed angel before he can take to the air and start shooting arrows with the bow in one pair of hands. He replies with a blizzard of blows from his flaming holy scimitars, but Adelea dodges and blocks, and the blows miss or smash into her armour and slide off with grinding screeches leaving dents and scrapes. Only one blow gets through, and while it is a critical hit it's not even close to enough. Sam demoralises Ara Mathra by laughing maniacally while further mutilating the remains of Saint Macarius, and after this psychological attack comes the physical one. Adelea and her new sword cut down the angel Ara Mathra. The most powerful being the party have ever faced, the representative of the god Mithra, goes down in a welter of blood and feathers, choking out the words “it will be the Son that brings your doom”.
As the angel dies the holy flame he was protecting gutters and dims, as if in mourning. As per the now standard procedure, Izavell desecrates it and Grumblejack pisses a foul stream of thick and stinking demon-ogre urine onto it to put it out. (Maybe he should hydrate more, but what is even normal for demon-ogres, I don't know).
The party's mission has been a success. There will be no army of 5000 (ish, if Sam's “always divisible by three” theory of ghost martyrs is correct) Ghost Martyr Paladins. The sacred flames are extinguised and will not be re-lit, which is going to make a serious dent in the ranks of replacement Mitran divine spellcasters in Talingarde. The imminent victims of the Tears of Achlys are going to stream to the Vale seeking succour, and find instead a wasteland of ashes and death. It is unlikely that this will be good for morale amongst the Talingardeans.
Tiadora teleports in and in a break from tradition appears genuinely impressed and grateful, and not sarcastic at all. She hands over a pouch of 50,000GPs in sapphires, along with Thorne's thanks and some instructions – clearly there is no rest for the wicked.
Alas, that there is still more that needs doing to complete Asmodeus’ will. With the coming of spring, the FireAxe moves his horde against the city of Daveryn. Your army, what remains of it, is needed there. You are needed there. Our master Cardinal Thorn instructs you to depart this place and find passage to Daveryn to rendezvous with the army of Sakkarot Fire-Axe. You may even help personally with the sack of the city if you wish. Once Daveryn is ashes we will speak again.
The party make preparations to gather the army and depart as soon as remotely practicable, but first there's a bit of crafting to do through the depths of winter, and a chalice to hand back to a very pleased vampire prince, who assures them they will always be welcome in his city.