Reya told them that she was going to stay in Elturel and help Ravengard to protect the city. She was Fighting back tears as she knew that they would soon be headed to Avernus and they would not likely see each other again.
They had a light meal and started the discussion on how to get down from Elturel to Avernus. Build parachutes was offered by Lulach. Tharja said we do have Polydamas who could fly us down but it may only be one at a time. Calmers said that would take awhile and would create a possible easy target. Tharja and Luluch had access to the Polymorph spell. The ideas really started flowing. Tharja could Polymorph into a giant ape carry 2 maybe 3 while she climbed down one of the chains. Or a giant eagle and fly down but only carry one ally. Calmers was convinced that they would be attacked no matter how they decided to get down to Avernus. This is what they settled on. Tharja would polymorph into a giant eagle and carry Jazulon. Tharja would polymorph Nym into a giant eagle and then wildshape into a mouse who would then ride in Calmer’s pouch. Jockrates would ride Nym and Calmers would ride Polydamus while Lulu flew down on her own.
They decided to look for materials in Elturel to create harnesses for Jazulon and Jockrates to use while riding the giant eagles. On their way to a general store to look for supplies they saw a known magic shop and they went inside to see if they could find anything useful. The shop specialized in potions. They found the following; potion of climbing, potion of flying, 2 potions of healing and a potion of clairvoyance.
They went on down to the general store. They found leather strap, metal fasteners and other bits and bobs that Lulach and Nym thought would make good riding saddles/harnesses for Jazulon and Jockrates. They then thinking about the best place for them to descend to Avernus. Tharja realized that the secret passageway under High Hall was too small to a pegasus and two giant eagles. They decided to leap off behind High Hall. They then headed back to High Hall to get some water and rations, to get more holy water. Lulach spotted a weapons shop. They went in and found 8 arrows, 3 daggers and 2 javelins.
They looked down from the place they had chosen to fly down from. They could see:
Armored legions of devils encircle the enormous posts of infernal iron that anchor Elturel to the rocky ground. Squads of demons fighting ten deep in some places hurl themselves into the devils’ ranks. Most of those abyssal troops are lowly manes and dretches, who die quickly in vain attempts to drag down devils so that stronger demons behind them can strike killing blows .
A dark river cuts a path across the blasted landscape and flows directly beneath the city. The River Styx. Floating on the river are demonic barges being assailed by squadrons of winged devils under the command of a terrifying pit fiend wearing an eyeless helm and clutching a battle standard.
They would position themselves so as not to get the attention of either the devils or demons on their way down. Thankfully, pegasi and giant eagles fly mostly quiet.
Calmers remembered the map of Avernus that had given them in Candlekeep. He laid it out for all to see and they started to look for anything resembling a junkyard. They saw a couple of places that were drawn as such but no mention of Mad Maggie. They decided on one to aim for that was furthest away from the main Blood War battle.
Nym created the harnesses. Calmers tapped off his holy water flasks and retrieved more holy water just in case. Tharja polymorphed into a giant eagle. Nym put the harness on Tharja showing the others how to do it once he was polymorphed. Then Lulach polymorphed Nym. He then wildhaped into a mouse and Calmers picked him up and put him in his pouch. Jazulon and Jockrates strapped into the harnesses. Calmers climbed onto Polydamus and saying a farewell to Reya and Grand Duke Ravengard, they leaped off the side of Elturel and began to fly down.
They had gone around 160ft when they saw two vrocks flying straight towards them. They vrock hit hard focusing on the riders on the back of the flying mounts. One of them tried to attack Lulu but she was too nimble and moved out of the way as they others moved in front of the vrock to protect her.
The vrock instead attacked Jockrates on the back of Nym the giant eagle in hopes of knocking him off his mount. It did hit but Jockrates had no problems staying on. Nym atacked back with talons and beak doing some damage to the vrock. Polydamus flew alongside the vrock so Calmers could attack with his rapier. Calmers hit and the vrock let out a screech from the silvered weapon.
The other vrock attacked Thraja and Jazulon. Its attacks altered between the two targets doing most damage to Thraja but was able to maintain Concentration on her polymorph spell. Making a wild attack, Tharja dropped 10ft really fast just below the vrock. She missed but Jazulon unhooked the harness and jumped up and attacked the vrock from below. He did a full attack and hit all 4 times. It did not take the vrock out but it was hurt pretty bad. It dropped on Jazulon’s next attack.
The first vrock seeing its companion had fallen pressed its attack but Jockrates was not missing with his silvered greataxe. Neither was Nym and Calmers. It was not long before that vrock too was defeated and its body fell into the River Styx.
They had a great view of Avernus. They looked around but were not sure where to head other than away from the Blood War battle. They decided that Nym should be their navigator even though he was still in eagle form and could not talk. The Shield of the Hidden Lord spoke to Calmers: look to the northeast. Calmers did and then pointed to the others what he saw.
A fortified compound sit s atop a low plateau that rises out of a crater-pocked landscape. At the center of the compound is a hill of rust-colored stone that resembles a hand clawing out of the ground, with gaps between the fingers. A jagged wall mad e of rock, bones, and metal debris surrounds this hand-shaped hill. Other highlights visible from this distance include a gatehouse , atop which s tands a half-dozen small figures. They would need to get closer.
“That is Fort Knucklebone” said the Shield. “That is where Mad Maggie resides.”
Calmers told the others. Fort Knucklebone had not been on the Avernus map. Nym estimated that the fort was 10 miles or so away. He caw-cawed to Tharja and the two eagles with Jazulon and Jockrates handing on took off towards the fort with Polydamus, Calmers, Lulach and Lulu close behind.
They landed about 20ft in front of the fort. 6 small men or large gnomes were all set along the front gate at various places as guards. They stood around 3 to 4 feet tall and weighed around 50 pounds They had hunched backs, wiry muscles, leathery skins, and evil smiles filled with wickedly sharp, protruding teeth. They wore heavy iron boots, leather pants, and the bright-red, blood red, leather pointed caps. As they got closer the group could see that the caps were soaked in blood.
“Redcaps and that is blood on their hats” whispered Nym. “And see that other one that looks similar but perhaps more feral? Those are madcaps. They dip their hats in demon ichor. Fey are unpredictable but redcaps and madcaps take this to another level.”
One of the redcaps moved forward and spoke to the group:
“What is the password?”
Calmers said that the password was (I cannot remember the word and number sequence). There was silence and then another redcap said “We do not have a password. They had to stand on one foot while pouring Phlegethosian sand into their left pocket.”
Calmers repeated the password from earlier.
They lead redcap finally said. “There is no password! Come into Fort Knucklebone and have a rest. Avernus is not a nice place, that is for sure.”
They came in and immediately in front of them was a large machine of some kind. There was a redcap and a madcap. Around the topside of it two bird like creatures appeared. They were in deep conversation. They halted when they saw the group. The larger of the two waved in the group’s direction as if telling them to remain where they were.
“What a deal! Patience is a virtue! Can’t keep the boss waiting!” He runs off into one ofthe trash structures.
It had spoke to them with a heavy duergar accent but it was in Common.
“Kenku” said Nym.