We consult with the Preceptor briefly, hoping there might be a quicker route through the crowd, but he only tells us to force our way through. We start weaving and pushing our way through to the tower that has the tainted bell, and are almost to the door, when The Grand Theogonist (Volkmar the Grim) begins his sermon.
He calls for the people to pray with him and help restore the emperor’s strength; so that he can once again take up Galmaraz and fight the empire’s enemies. He then signals to someone offstage and the bell rings.
Everyone is extremely pained by the sound and fall to the ground. The bell continues to ring regularly and a flagellant in the room cries in pain especially loudly. As he moves toward the pulpit, the prayer boxes chained to him start to smoke large plumes of colored smoke. As he reaches the pulpit, Longshot shoots at him, but the arrow slows down as it flies through the air, and splits into 10 arrows. 9 of the arrows strike the prayer boxes, breaking them, and the last hits the mutated flagellant in the place where you’d think his face is/was. When the smoke clears, we discover the Flagellant now has several arms and has otherwise mutated in major ways.
Shortly after, legions of goblin-sized demons begin to appear. They are swirling blurs of mercurial daemonic energy coalescing and dissipating on a whim, never maintaining a discernable form for more than a heartbeat. Whenever their mortal shell is damaged, they split into two daemons. They gleefully cackle as they bite, maim, and throw daemonfire at whoever they come across.
We fight, dodge, and muscle our way through the chaos that has erupted throughout the temple. The last few yards to the door are extremely treacherous.
As we enter the base of the tower, we find a man in black robes, his hood over his head, and a gold mask. We fight with him briefly, and longshot dispatches him with an arrow through the eye slit of his mask.
The party rushes up the stairs, throws open the door to the bell room, and enter. There we find 8 cultists between us and the bell, another pulling the chain to ring the bell, and one last one that is the leader.
The leader removes his mask to reveal that he is Baerfaust. He takes a minute to reveal and detail his plot. Fueled by the death of his family, in a pointless war ordered by Mariusz Leitdorf (the now-departed elector count of Averheim), he helped ensure the Leitdorf’s demise during the battle of Blackfire Pass. Expecting people to realize the folly of these wars, Baerfaust’s plan was foiled when the nobles preached the Count’s praises as a martyr of the empire, and the peasantry rallied behind the nobles once again. He realized he would have to extend his plans to destroy & defame all of the nobility. He heard rumour of the mask in the southlands, engineered its arrival, and even for it to be imbued with a shell of purity by The Flame of Ulric. Indeed, the bell remains tainted by chaos; the ritual merely allowed for the clapper to be smuggled into The Temple of Sigmar. He ended his monologue gloating about how the party helped bring this to pass and now all of the nobility would finally suffer for their hubris.
A fierce fight breaks out. The party focuses its attacks primarily on the man ringing the bell and dispatches him before he’s able to ring the bell more than a few times. Baerfaust almost immediately casts a spell that makes him ethereal. As the fight rages, more than one blow strikes true but somehow passes through him; mostly. His skin is damaged and torn from him, or sloughs off after having been cut, revealing blue and pink musculature underneath. Before long, Baerfaust is barely recognizable. The rest of his henchmen are quickly dispatched, including his lieutenant Arta Schaffer, whose body was sent tumbling down the sounding hole in the floor for the bell’s resonance. As the fight was nearly resolved, Baerfaust turned the stolen Runefang on Ath’drin, cleaving him at the shoulder and taking off his arm too. Ath fell, dead. Soon after, Edgar and Longshot shot the killing shots into this fledgling demon prince. The abomination that was once Baerfaust had been vanquished. Ensuring his demise, Longshot put an arrow in his head and Edgar used the Runefang to decapitate him.
Then, Edgar used the Runefang to cut the chain that had been used to ring the bell. This caused the bell to come loose from its moorings and it crashed to the ground below with a thunderous, and final, clang.
The bell disabled, the horrors of Tzeentch could no longer remain in the mortal realm, allowing for the warriors in the main hall to turn the tide. Those that had been transformed into chaos spawn were quickly dispatched. The dead were collected, the wounded treated, and everyone was forced to reconcile the gravity of what had just occurred.
A week later, the Emperor recovered, now free of Baerfaust’s poisons. The party, minus Casper, was summoned to the palace to be addressed by the Emperor. (Casper had grown a tail after being corrupted by the bell. The Emperor, graciously, granted amnesty to Casper for this corruption assuming the tail could be surgically removed.)
To Irinia, he informed her that Luminary Mauer had petitioned for her acceptance into the Light Magic College there in Altdorf. To honor his memory, and loyal service, they would be granting her entry to the college to be trained in the use of magic; if under particular scrutiny.
Longshot asked that aid be lended to the dwarven keeps, that they might be better able to retake fallen keeps. As “rock headed” as they may be, the Emperor agreed that he would open talks on the matter with the dwarven people.
Edgar asked that a statue of Ath’drin be erected there in the Temple of Sigmar to honor his memory & sacrifice. The Emperor agreed. Additionally, the Emperor remarked that, seeing as the normal electoral process had failed for the nation of Averland, he was instead appointing Edgar as the new Elector Count of Averland.
The party leaves the palace amidst great fanfare and cheering, finding their usual coach, bear, a new bear, and Von Kaufman to usher them in. Before they enter the coach, Kaufman informs the group that it has been reported that Ketzenblum is on the road to Averheim. Edgar thanks him for the information because, “we do have a bone to pick with her.” Then, Edgar also warns Kaufman that, “if you put you own needs above those of the empire again, it will cost you your head.” Kaufman bowed deeply, and quickly departed to his own coach.
Their coach is paraded out of the city, and they start the long journey home. In an Empire that has one less enemy, from within.