Neon had run until his legs burned. Just as it seemed like he was getting nowhere, the tunnel suddenly changed from stone to knee deep mold. The mold made a creaking and stretching sound as it continued to expand down the tunnel. Massive ten foot tall mushrooms and a sickly haze floated in the air as a light breezy started.
Neon plunged into the mold and found that the mushroom would burst poisonous blinding spores when he passed close. He did his best to minimize the toll the spores would have on him and proceeded to wade through a quarter of a mile of mold before finding the hole.
Neon racked his brain for any option of how to return to the company of his companions safely. The paladin made his decision by grabbing his holy symbol, said a prayer for guidance, and dove into the hole.
When Neon passed through the portal, he landed in the trench that the Crusty Wench had created, but stopped well short of the cliff edge.
The paladin was blasted continuously by grit and after surveying the surroundings, found that he was surrounded by wasteland, twenty dust devils, and a chasm that had no visible opposite side and stretched to the horizon to each side.
Embedded in the side of the chasm, Neon found a massive spinal column that stretched up at least a mile and descended into the chasm beyond where light could reach.
Neon heard a screeching as a flock of at least 40 demons raised up from the chasm darkness and headed for him. Thinking of retreat, he turned around and found that the twenty dust devils had joined together and formed three large ones.
Down in the chasm, Thom and Azrukal could hear the scratching sounds of creatures approaching from across the net. Azrukal ran across the net behind the side laying flatbed as Thom climbed on top of the engine and leapt to the top of the flat bed. Two demons scrambled to join Thom, while two more began to launch bolts of dark energy into the bard.
Neon drew his sword as the first few demons arrived. He dispatched one of them as the other three raked him with their wicked claws. The fight seemed to be under control until he noticed that the three large dust devils were now one giant cyclone.
Thom and Azrukal battled hard throwing the demons off of the flat be and one over the side. The demons savagely attacked with evil smiles, enjoying every moment. The two of them found that the evil creatures seemed to resist their attacks and forced them to switch from their normal tactics.
Neon felt the wind pick up and ran toward the massive spinal column, but found his efforts strained against the strong gale. The demons pursued the paladin and continued their relentless clawing. However, the cyclone winds soon chased off the flying creatures who left with the rest of the flock for the safety of the chasm darkness.
Neon focused all of his efforts on reaching the spine. As he made his way the final ten feet, he recognized the outline and handle of a door in the side of the spine. Neon shoved on the door with all his might, and found it unmoving. On the other side of the door, a gruff voice let him know that he couldn’t come in without the symbol.
Neon put on his most convincing tone and held his holy symbol forward and proclaimed it the right symbol. The tower door opened for only a moment as a large goat like eye peek out and quickly shut. The gruff voice told the paladin that it was the wrong symbol, but that he could get one in the city below.
The demon inside the spine let Neon know that he had called for a shuttle to pick him up and take him to the city. Neon knew this wouldn’t help him as the cyclone slammed into him, lifting him in the air and dropping him into the chasm where he began to fall.
Thom and Azrukal began to feel the demonic fight taking its toll when their fairy companion Shiny emerged from the passenger car of the train and charged the nearest enemy. The tide changed and Azrukal killed two of the demons as Thom healed their bodies. When the second to the last demon died, a voice called out from the cliff area for the fighting to stop.
Neon fell for three full minutes. His only comfort was that even though he had never fell this far, at least he hadn’t reached the end of the spine embedded in the chasm wall. With little time to react, he landed into a steel netting that without his armor might have cut him into six pieces.
Azrukal and Thom didn’t even react as Neon righted himself in the net and rejoined them. For the first time the group regarded exactly where they were. The sky above them was pitch black, as was the hole below them. The area was dimly lit by luminescent fungus and lichen that grew from the wall.
Beyond the net was a sprawling city made of all shapes of dwellings, some carved into the rock, some even made of dead bodies. The demon speaking to them wore a leather smock and gloves and had a head covered with many small horns.
The demon told them that they needed to play for the damage to his net and for the killing of his helpers. Thom told him that they were merely defending themselves. The demon let them know that he was friends with the blight lord Lady Akaama and that they had to pay him.
Thom asked him how much he wanted and he told them he wanted ten soul larvae. The demon then began asking questions about the Crust Wench. Thom let him know it was a terrestrial transport and not of much worth. The demon told them that it was build very well and he might be able to reuse it, but demanded that the group bring him payment first.
Thom told the demon that he didn’t have any larvae. The demon pointed them to the nearest inn a place called the Craven Talisman. He told them that travelers frequented the inn who might have value in gold. Thom told the man that he would return with the larvae, but the demon demanded Shiny as collateral.
Azrukal asked Shiny, and the fairy allowed herself to be boxed by the demon as the group headed toward the Craven Talisman.