To Baator and Back
Hell is paved with good intentions."
Dates: 3rd Market to 3rd Guild, Accordant.
A typical day in Sigil: planewalkers are arriving in the City of Doors for the first time. They include a bariaur druid from the Outlands, named Knell... a pair of friends, arriving from Ysgard, an ogre named Selgar and an aasimar named Jesdin Marthair... a dark warrior from the depths of the Abyss, released from his service by the whim of his master, named Grälf Thyer... a grim, violent, grudge-holding xvart who also escaped imprisonment on the Abyss to find succor in Sigil, Mirx of Raxivort.
All of them walk the Hive Ward, oblivious to the chaos which is being sown right this moment by the Revolutionary League. Public bread rations from the more affluent sections of Sigil have dwindled to a trickle, and the disenfranchised have taken to the streets. Bolstered by Anarchist organization, the mobs are headed by spellcasters who wield destructive magicks.
Our amateur planewalkers find themselves thrown together quite by accident. Confronted on one side by a rampaging mob of looters and Anarchists, and on the other by a massed formation of pike-wielding Harmonium, they duck down an alley and find themselves in a seemingly abandoned building. But dwelling here in a back room is an old man, sitting on his own in the dark, his face haunted by something greater than he can express in words.
As fireballs and lightning bolts rock the sides of the building, he explains he was once Sigil's ambassdor to the city of Dis, on Baator, and that in this very building is a one-way portal to Baator's first level, Avernus. He offers the key to the desperate visitors, and before they can think, they are standing on a artificial platform high above the blasted red plains of Avernus.
Guarding the portal on the Baator end is a leering spinagon wielding a cruel fork. The party speaks with him, and he tells them of the existence of a portal back to Sigil, near a great natural mesa. But the spinagon is a devious breed, and this one tries to escape and warn his masters. The party knocks him unconscious before he can escape. Selgar is given the odious task of carrying and safeguarding the foul imp.
The party trudges across the crimson plain, stopping only to ford a stinking clotted river of blood winding its way across this evil land. Once across the River of Blood, the mesa is easily spotted, and the party makes its way to a cave at the bottom of the mesa. Surrounding the cave entrance are seven basalt posts. Smoke can be seen coming out from the cave in a trickle. As the party approaches, a white-haired, red-robed human female is seen emerging, and, as she does, making a series of gestures and speaking some verses in the language of magic.
The party mostly evades the magical web that sprays towards them, anchoring to the posts outside. The party rushes in to confront the witch. She surrenders quickly, promising the party a way out of the plane. If they ask the Pillar of Skulls, they will receive the right information. During all this, their spinagon friend vanishes.
Feeling the heat, the party high-tails it over the hills and into the valley of the Pillar of Skulls. After confronting a giant Baatorian bloodworm in the River, the party sights the macabre landmark. The name is a misnomer; the heads making up the pillar aren't skulls, but disembodied animated heads. They seem to be controlled by an ogre head with prodigious mental powers. As soon as the ogre head offers his opinion on the location of the portal back to Sigil, the other heads proffer their opinions on the matter, causing a cacophony. Eventually, the party realizes that neither the ogre head nor his main enemy, an elf head, have the right idea, and instead, a small, inconspicuous gnome head, half-buried in the dirt, provides the correct response: they must go back and take a piece of basalt to the portal, a free-standing archway, in the hills.
The party makes it to the portal, where a much more determined baatezu sits guarding. This baatezu, however, seems happy to see them, and beckons them forth from their hiding place. His fee for allowing the party to enter the portal is for them to carry a parcel into Sigil. The party agrees, seeing the huge army of abishai massed on the crest of the valley, and, at the last moment when the party enters the portal, Jesdin, who was carrying the golden orb, flips it out of his hand. At this moment, the baatezu, enraged, rushes after them, but upon finding himself in Sigil, he flees into the city. The party is safe, for now, but the possibility of the baatezu's return leaves the party with a lingering discomfort...