The Hammer of Virtus continued down the dangerous corridors of the crypts beneath Thrax and found a large room with a Medusa inside who welcomed them and promptly attempted to add them to her collection of statues. They successfully defeated the Medusa and a violet fungus — which attacked Hogarth with a rot-causing tentacle, destroying one eye — and found the frozen statues of a kender and a sorceress, who they managed to restore via a found Stone-to-Flesh staff. The kender, Obed Ovechkin, held a copy of the Book of Storms in his arms, and together they continued to the end of the crypts, battling half-fiend minotaurs and a gorgon released by the kender in an act of curiosity.
The final room held Farengar, who was finishing a ritual that sucked the life from a few commoners and unleashed a large lightning bolt upon Thrax, utterly devastating its outer walls. Instead of waiting to see if Farengar would let them pass, Hogarth cast a fireball at him. This act of violence unsettled Farengar’s pet dracolisk, which immediately attacked the heroes. A second fireball killed Farengar and the dracolisk burst through the ceiling, landing in the market among a crowd of confused, panicked commoners.
The Hammer of Virtus hurried to the surface to aid in the defense of Thrax, which was now being overrun by the Order of Malum and Blackwall (in separate attempts to destroy Thrax). As they fight the dracolisk, Rawlin Adair managed to get the patrons and employees of the Green Dragon out of the building as the Order of Malum entered. All, that is, except for Boren, their trusty barkeep.
When they entered the Green Dragon, Thanatos threatened to take Boren’s life if they did not reveal to him the location of the Heaven’s Shield. When Dietrich attempted to rescue Boren, Thanatos slit the barkeep’s throat, instantly killing him.
A battle ensued in the Green Dragon with the remaining members of the Order of Malum, who set the building on fire and nearly killed the heroes. During the pitched battle, Ivae’ess was slain.
After defeating the Order of Malum, the PCs brought Ivy out and encountered the wagon carrying Priestess Runa Callisto. As she cast Resurrection on Ivy, the remaining PCs joined with Davward and Crank to protect her from the Order and their hellish beasts conjured from extraplanar dimensions, including hellhounds and a nightmare.
After Ivy was resurrected, the Priestess requested they rescue Prince Reginald, her cousin, from the keep. Thomas told the PCs he would take the survivors to the Blackguard Mines. They fought their way to the keep and encountered Lieutenant Thresh (Hogarth’s uncle), who was wearing the colors of Blackwall. They magically bound him and headed into the keep.
At the top of the keep, they found Prince Reginald speaking to a dragon’s skull and weeping. He cried out to Malum, asking if the payment wasn’t enough and, if not, what he needed to do to protect his city — effectively outing him as a conspirator to Malum’s cause, albeit indirectly. When confronted by the PCs, he summoned Malum in a final act to re-enter Malum’s good graces. If Malum was given information about the Hammer of Virtus, the prince assumed Malum would be pleased.
Instead, Malum swooped down and devoured the prince, then attempted to kill them with a breath of fire. The PCs barely escaped the keep and made it out the walls of Thrax.
They headed to the Sartre Monastery. The next day, the surviving members of the Double-Blooded Crusade appeared in the distance, badly beaten and blooded. They carried Farengar’s body and requested sanctuary, as the Order of Malum was seeking them out. Dietrich decided to give them sanctuary and returned the final griffon egg, which was readily accepted by the griffons. After six weeks of attempting to train them, Ayla finally decided they would best be used as allies, to which the griffons readily accepted. Dietrich sent the surviving members of the Double-Blooded Crusade on a mission to search for survivors in Thrax.
Obed found writing in the walls of Head Monk Plius’s quarters that read, “Go to Brookfield”. When they engraved the word, “Why?”, the word “ANSWERS” appeared.
They went to Brookfield and met Aoric, the headmaster of the Brookfield College. He allowed them to look through the Astral Observatory, which revealed the presence of dragons all along the Heaven’s Shield. Then he showed them graphs of Shieldus’s population — which was slowly decreasing — compared to Shieldus’s monster population — rapidly increasing, suggesting that within 10 years the entire continent would be overrun by beasts.
He suggested they search for dragon eggs, which he could use to create massively destructive weapons, as well as visit Balor, a demon with a strange tie to the city of Brookfield.
On the way down to Balor’s Lair, they encountered a name engraved in glowing glyphs on the wall: “VERMYNTHERINAX”.
Balor gave them little information, but revealed that Dietrich is a descendant of his and that the only way in or out of Shieldus is through Hell itself.