Book Five: Garret’s Angels II
Having been separated from the Harbingers in the city of Tirumala, Garret hires a crew of mercenaries: the half-orc fighter Gorndawn and a pair of monks, Shriishu the kenku and Bryel the tabaxi. They meet with the city’s malevolent ruler, the Grand Rajah, from whom the city derives its name. Tirumala delights in tormenting his foes and transforming them into undead, who dance endlessly in alcoves around his throne room. He is pleased to help Garret enter the Hells on his mission for Gargauth, and he reveals that Nishri has paid well for Garret and his company to be left out of the Grand Rajah’s schemes. With his help, Garret and his so-called Angels are transported to a barge on the River Styx.
The ferryman is an altraloth who claims to have once been a Halruaan lord, Rysar Golenoi. His punishment for his arrogance as a mortal is to ply the river for eternity, and for his schemes to recruit voyagers to his aid to always fall upon deaf ears. He deposits the party on the shores of Avernus, a blasted heath where the Blood War has raged since time immemorial. The sands of the Styx are an expanse of crushed bone there. Caught up in an assault from the Abyss, the party is rescued by Erinyes and brought to the Basalt Citadel, where Garret expects to meet Zariel. Instead, he is brought to her regent, Lucien. The former Keeper left the Prime Material Plane after the defeat of his comrades in Luenath and returned to Avernus to honor his oath to Zariel. But Zariel is missing, and rumors suggest that she has been redeemed as an angel.
In order to venture into the Abyss, Garret and his cohorts need to find portals leading them deeper into the conflict of the Blood War. In Lucien’s employ is an arcanoloth, Oromestis, who has the ability to sniff out such portals. He offers to let Garret use Oromestis, but only if Garret will perform a mutually beneficial task first. Lucien wants Garret to go to the Armamentarium Infernum, a warded fortress enchanted so that an individual can only enter once in their lifetime. Lucien’s rival, Bel, has gone into the ancient armory, and Lucien wants him killed so that he can consume Bel’s heart and become an archdevil.
The erinyes take Garret and his party to the Armamentarium. They fend off the guardian that Bel has left behind, a vengeful black dracolich, and descend into the Armamentarium. All is not well within the ancient fortress. The ravages of time have caused it to develop a fault, which makes overcoming its tricks and traps even more challenging. The Armamentarium is meant to provide each individual who enters a deadly challenge that tests their mettle, and then to reward them with a weapon tailored to their greatest needs. Garret is instead diverted into another challenge, a forest besieged by undead.
Within, he discovers Hamo Himo, who came to the Armamentarium seeking a weapon that would help him avenge his family and friends. They were murdered by a death knight called Lord Soth. Hamo has been trapped within the Armamentarium for years, tormented by his own inability to escape his challenge: confronting the death of his people. Aided by Garret and the rest of the party, Hamo faces his fears and escapes his challenge, attaining the bow Narn Saboth in the process.
While resting after saving Hamo, the party encounters a group of dwarves that dwell in the Armamentarium. They are the descendants of dwarves engineered as living weapons during the Blood War. Their leader, Felgrin, was another of the Keepers. After that party’s dissolution, he dedicated himself to curing the dwarves of the hellish disease that was inflicted upon their ancestors. He speaks balefully of Lucien, whose ambitions he fears, and warns Garret that the Armamentarium is dying. After giving the party blessings from Kelemvor, Felgrin sends them on their way.
Garret descends into his own challenge, which takes the form of a fight with Auseus Grey. The reality-corrupting powers of the Far Realm seem to make the manifestation of Auseus aware of what is happening, and he shatters the area of Garret’s challenge, sending the half elf plummeting into a fault in the Armamentarium. In the deadly pit below, Garret encounters an old man, who guides him to manifestations of the Harbingers. These, he tells Garret, are the essences of his former allies, still linked to him by the long-ago gift of the dragon Sarsaros, which they all share. Garret gathers up his allies and confronts his true challenge, a manifestation of Gargauth himself at the height of his powers. After the ‘Harbingers’ defeat this manifestation, the old man reveals that he is an avatar of Bahamut who had taken advantage of the failing Armamentarium to influence Garret’s challenge. He offers Garret redemption in the form of a new weapon: Talhamat, the Ashen Edict, a powerfully good sentient dagger meant to keep Garret on Bahamut’s path. It is a weapon powerful enough to slay an archdevil. Garret says a farewell to the manifestations of his friends, and he and Hamo return to the Armamentarium proper.
Upon reuniting with his Angels, Garret hunts down Bel. The fiend attempts to offer him a deal, but Garret refuses, and a pitched battle ensues. Bel is vanquished, and Garret cuts out his heart with Talhamat. With the Armamentarium crumbling behind them, Garret and company summon the erinyes and return to Lucien, who consumes Bel’s heart and becomes the true ruler of Avernus.
True to his word, he has Oromestis lead Garret into the Abyss. He also offers to send his forces against Graz’zt’s as a distraction. In the Abyss, Garret and his party are joined by Nishri. With Oromestis waiting for them near a portal to safety, the party travels to a twisted mountain where the Shield of the Hidden Lord was forged. Garret throws it into the magma of the mountain, and Gargauth is freed. He travels with Garret to the capital of Azzagrat, where Graz’zt welcomes them graciously into his Argent Palace, heedless of Lucien’s sortie into the city below. Graz’zt offers to make Gargauth his vassal, which provokes the devil into fighting. The battle against Graz’zt is violently destructive, nearly shattering the palace, and Nishri is almost killed. Against all odds, the party prevails, and Gargauth is restored to his throne. Honoring his pact with his former servant, Gargauth frees Garret and sends him home, but not before revealing that Asmoda and Khymerus are his descendants, and that their squabbles are meant to make way for Gargauth to conquer the world.