A now teenage-looking Liera led the party away from the creepy carnival to meet her “friend”. As the party traveled down a dusty path, there began to be transparent patches within the path. Through those patches, stars and cosmos could be seen. Eventually, there was more stars than path, and the party had to take a step of faith. Despite there being no visible path, the space still supported the party, which decided to continue toward a bright red beacon in the distance.
As the party approached the beacon, they were now completely surrounded by the stars and cosmos, recognizable as if viewed from Aber-Toril. Overlaid on those cosmos were places of power; looking “up”, the party could see the reams of the good-aligned gods; the neutral powers were “ahead” and “around”, while the evil powers were “down”. It was as if looking at the locations in the Astral Sea from above or below rather than on the sea itself.
Each party member saw a web translucent ribbons emanating from their person and connecting to all the other objects and locations in the Astrolabe. Almost all the ribbons were grey and lifeless, but the ribbon connecting themselves to their god’s demesne shone bright with power in the color of their god. (King Oris the Dragonrider took the opportunity to pull himself up by his own ribbon and swing around a bit.) The party also had ribbons connecting to one another.
The Cards of the Deck held by Verde showed very strong connections to each other, a strong connection to Verde, and these other connections:
– Connection to the beacon ahead of the party
– Connections to Hell
– Other connections were visible, but their destination could not be discerned.
When the party approached the formerly-distant beacon (which took only a few minutes’ travel), the adult Liera came into view. Blood streamed from her ears, eyes, and nose, and she was bound to a ritual table with chains. A contract is clearly visible in the chain, which details the very unfavorable terms Liera agreed to when selling her soul for a temporary sliver of Asmodeus’ power (i.e., being a Warlock). The contract clearly states incapacitation as sufficient grounds for her soul to become due and payable. Muted ribbons of power connect her to vestiges of power, but a thick ribbon of dark power connects Liera directly to Hell. In her hands, she grasped a locked golden box.
Verde attempted to cut Liera’s chain with an arc-weld of lighting. Oris tried to blast the contract with religious radiance, Kavi attempted to find a contractual loophole, and Aeriarthia stood watch on the outside of Liera’s mind in Moonbane Prison. Asmodeus accepted the invitation.
The Aspect of Asmodeus arrived in the confines of the Astrolabe within Liera’s mind, and like the gentledevil he is, proceeded to parlay with the party. All he wanted was for the party to go away… and leave Liera behind. He offered to solve the cash flow problem that the party faced for their cooperation. The party began to protest they had no such cash flow problem when Inky contacted them via sending stone and explained that in exchange for their services, Ixy and Grax (the gold and silver dragon the party rescued from Inky’s scheme) demand that Dragon Cavern at the Cult’s Earthmote be remade… in sold gold with silver accents. By any standard, that is a VAST, VAST expense. The party said they would call Inky back.
Kavi wanted to know why Asmodeus was taking Liera’s soul now when she still had more power to gain with time. Asmodeus declined to make a villain expose, instead offering the party an NDA to hear the reason. The NDA would wipe the contents of the conversation from the memory of the listener once the conversation was over; any attempt to retrieve the contents would allow Asmodeus ownership of their soul. Kavi talked Asmodeus down to a penalty of one contiguous hour of sole soul ownership, to be returned in exactly the same condition as it was acquired. Verde declined the offer as did Aeriarthia; King Oris was still considering when Kavi accepted. Asmodeus constructed a field of isolation, and told Kavi [REDACTED]. Kavi now has an Asmodeus-unholy-symbol-shaped hold in his memory, but remembers stealing [STEALTHED] from Asmodeus.
And that’s when the brawl broke out. Liera’s chains were suddenly released and a red glow replaced her usual blue. Verde pleaded Liera not to hurt her, so Liera hurt other party members instead until she was gently taken down by non-lethal-owie damage. Asmodeus dominated most of the party, yet King Oris the Dragonrider suffered an uncharacteristic streak of bad luck and missed most of the party. Drawing on the power of Card Flame, Kavi drew exclusive and 5 HP-shy-of-lethal aggro from Asmodeus. Shanra kept the party from slipping into unconsciousness, the searing light of Amaunator burned all evil, and Verde fought the devil like Gandalf, with lightning-infused sword of fury. His first defeat by mortals in centuries, the Aspect of the Lord of the Ninth was destroyed in the stage set by Liera’s unconscious mind.
The party rushed to Liera’s still form. Liera was, once again, clutching the sealed golden box. Teenage Liera offered the party a key to the box, which opened to reveal one of Liera’s most closely-guarded secrets: a map to a Ring of Wishing. The ring appears to be secreted away in Myth Rhynn, an ancient city lost in Wealdath (aka the Forest of Tethir), north of the Starspire Mountains.
With Asmodeus’ defeat, Liera’s contract and bindings were weakened and quickly destroyed by the party. Liera’s most powerful ribbon of power was now free of Asmodeus and Hell, and the party cast it to the heavens, where it bound to the bright realm of Amaunator. Upon her release, the party was forcefully ejected from Liera’s mind.
And there, in a dark cell of Moonbane Prison, the remnants of the battle blown out of Liera’s mind were laid plain to see. Asmodeus’ Aspect was carrying Card Gem, and Liera’s key had been a psychic manifestation of Card Key. Asmodeus’ Aspect also had numerous exceptionally powerful magic items (one Rare item for each PC; clear with DM for items above L22).
After the battle, Kavi and Verde enlarged Verde’s card-carrying pouch to 4 cards max, and created a 2-card pouch for Kavi.