Picking themselves up after the battle with the prison’s final guardians, the Empty Keg catches a small break when it seems that the intricate lock on the door has long since been broken (from the inside). Pushing the doors open, the adventurers find themselves at the top of a sort of hill surrounded by a lake of black glass. The landscape is bleak and barren, broken by tremendous spires of shattered stone standing at impossible angels. The heat and the dust are oppressive, and a ball of fire hangs high up in the red sky. The only structure is a bridge made of worked white stone, so the Keg heads towards it.
While crossing the bridge, the stones begin to shake as enormous fleshy appendages wrap themselves around crossing and begin to tear it apart. It isn’t long before the entire structure collapses, sending the Keg into icy black necrotic sludge while a titanic, oozing mass of tentacles pushes itself out of the morass and begins to feed. The battle with the abyssal kraken is lengthy and difficult — Barnaby stands toe to toe with the beast and flies into a berserk rage from which he almost does not recover, while Azera is pulled under the depths almost immediately and does not resurface until the battle is ended (had her divine heritage not protected her, she would surely have perished). Exhausted, the company manages to make it to the other side — an entire 500 feet from where they started.
Navigating the terrain proves difficult, but some timely ritual magic gives the Keg an idea of where to head. Trudging through the badlands is slow and tortuous work, and the company finds their way barred by an enormous crevasse which they use to take shelter from a howling sandstorm. Though there is no night, the Keg spends an uneasy period of rest hidden under tarps while dust devils run amok during the storm — only Joshua seems unconcerned with the conditions, almost taking pleasure at putting his training to use. Ominously, there are tracks of some kind of demonic bloodhound near the Keg’s campsite, but Azera is confident her ritual magic protected the group from their notice.
With the new day come new decisions. Rather than investigating a far off geyser or a patch of mist, the company continues along the edge of the massive crevasse until they espy a curious sight — a gypsy wagon resting in a patch of shadow where there should be no shadow. Investigating, Jack pierces the illusion masking a night hag and her bodyguard — a pair of fierce and massive Fir Bolg. The hag, Niamh, is startled and then irritated that her illusion, which works well enough against demons, was of no avail. She reacts with curiosity, asking what mortals could possibly be doing down in the Pit. After some back and forth, a few charming lies from Jack, and a veiled threat from Joshua, she reveals that she is a trader from Greywall. Though she is not willing to risk her livelihood showing the company her way in and out of hell, she is willing to treat with them.
Azera takes the hag aside while the rest of the party bicker over what they are willing to give up (souls? magical items? residuum?). The discussion between the deva and Niamh is brief and ends with the hag receiving a lock of Azera’s hair. When the two return, the hag agrees to give the Keg copies of her maps and to trade fairly for useful rituals to help them survive in the abyss. The company accepts the maps, but is unwilling to pay for anything more. With a shrug, the hag reminds Azera that the terms of their deal were that the Keg moves along immediately as she does not want to be anywhere near those that the First and Forsaken is pursuing.
“Your best bet is to seek out Kuru, a merchant in Morglon-Daar. I would not trust her were I you, but she can point you in the right direction if you seek someone who can open a gate back to Eberron.” She calls her phantasmal steeds into being and sets off in the opposite direction.
Abyssal Kraken! 1000xp
Hell is a Bitch 750xp
Hag’n Wagon 750xp