62. High Hall, High Hall, it’s off to High Hall we go

Having scouted out Torm’s Blade and deciding that, with its small platoon of Hell Knights, it was Too Damn Scary, and not quite willing to commit yet to the terrifying backup plan of spider-climbing beneath the bridge and across the chasm, The Levellers opted to scout-out the other bridge, Torm’s Reach.

This one, they found, was in the control of a handful of devils and imps. The Levellers figured that with the new celestial weapons they were carrying they could probably take the devils out, but opted first to try to negotiate their way across. The leader of the devils, a spiny fiend named Gara, put forward several options by which they could pay their pay:

  • A soul coin each (including one for the semi-conscious cultist Katya whom Leofric was carrying, but not one for Lulu who could, let’s face it, just flutter her happy little way over the gap)
    • (Optionally, Tunwéya‘s double-soul coin could count as three, agreed Gara.)
  • Gara took a particular interest in Hinnerk, and offer to let the entire party cross in exchange for either a day of Hinnerk’s life, or else “a token of the love he carries” (which was implied to be the lock of Cinder’s hair in his backpack), but Hinnerk rejected both offers.

Eventually, the Levellers paid four regular soul coins and were allowed to cross. On the other side of the chasm the city seemed to be in better shape: it’s still very much a city in hell, but the quakes here were less-frequent and damaging and more structures stand. Investigating one such building – the long-disused Maidensbridge toll booth, Reya identified markings she believed to have been made by a fellow Hellrider.

Following a trail to a small campsite at the foot of Maiden’s Leap, the party met Sergeant Ulmara Eintin, a surviving Hellrider whom Reya had met previously. Ulmara greeted Reya with a salute, surprised to see a fellow Hellrider who had been believed to have been lost, and the two exchanged stories of their survival so far. Ulmara was on a three-day posting to this side of Torm’s Reach, watching for refugees making their way over from the East city and helping them find their way safely towards High Hall. She reported that:

  • High Hall came under two assaults from devils shortly after the fall of the city: its outer curtain wall has been breached and several towers destroyed, but the garrison there survived and has fortified the crypts beneath as a defensible seat of government for those that remain in the city (as well as providing shelter for many citizens).
  • Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard, Councillor of Baldurs Gate and Marshal of the Flaming Fist, was on a diplomatic mission to Elturel to discuss the growing issue of the Cult of Zariel when the city fell. He survived the fall and has rallied the leadership. Ulmara has suggested that Reya and her friends report to him.
  • Ulmara’s not sure about why some Hellriders avoided transforming into Hell Knights (at least, until they die), but suggests that if they’re interested in this the party might speak to Pherria Jynks, the highest-ranking member of the Church of Torm to survive, who is keen to voice her ideas.
  • The few surviving Hellriders, plus Ravengard’s Peacekeepers (as his entourage have come to be called) are patrolling the area between the Western Switchback and Maidensbridge to provide a safe corridor for refugees from the East city to get to High Hall. They’ve been unable to take control of the area East of the gardens or Helm’s Shieldhall, which are occupied by Hell Knights, and they’re wary of the area towards the Grand Cemetary, which since the fall has been crawling with undead.

As recommended by Ulmara, the party hugged the cliffs around to the Western Switchback, meeting Kerstina Kraii, a young Hellrider patrolling that route. They ducked into an abandoned townhouse to take a long rest before pressing on to High Hall.

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