With Dr.Ganglion and the ghost of Percy Engel in tow, the Tubthumpers used them to gain access to William Valdar‘s inner sanctum where his phylactery was secured. Percy and Ganglion were placed in the beams of red light coming from the eye sockets of Valdar’s large, ornate, skull doorway. The doors opened and the Tubthumpers cautiously ascended the staircase before them, leaving Dr. Ganglion tied up at the foot of the stairs and Percy under the watch of Gerald Valdar.
William Valdar’s Phylactery Defense System
The Tubthumpers came into a large, chamber with huge columns and a center platform that was topped with Valdar’s phylactery. Valdar’s voice echoed throughout the chamber as he remarked on how unremarkable the Tubthumpers seemed when he first saw them in Boxia. He assumed they would just be more wood for the fire, and it never occurred to him that they could do so much damage. Mod remarked on how that made him pretty stupid as Lyndon charged the phylactery. The phylactery responded by floating away from the center platform and out of Lyndon’s reach, over to a throne made of bone at the back of the room. The throne began reassembling itself around the phylactery until it took the shape of a large bone golem with the phylactery at its center.
The fight ensued immediately, with all the Tubthumpers battling the against the Valdar controlled bone golem. However, as the Tubthumpers damaged the bone construct, its pieces fell off and assembled into smaller bone golems which attacked the group. Though it left them somewhat worse for wear, the Tubthumpers were able to keep up with and destroy Valdar’s smaller bone golem minions while fighting the main bone golem carrying his phylactery.
Just as one of the bone constructs looked like it was about to get the better of the Tubthumpers, an arrow flew from the doorway into the construct. The black powder at the end of the arrow then exploded, blowing the construct to smithereens. Mr. Thompson had arrived to assist the Tubthumpers, and they were able to quickly tear apart what was left of Valdar’s constructs after that.
Gaylord Jiggens Arrives to Save the Day
Valdar’s phylactery began generating a swirling shield around it as it floated back over to the center platform. As this was happening, Mr. Thompson told them that he had arrived with backup. Unfortunately, they had left the doors open behind them, and the tide of undead from the pit were moving towards their location. To make matters worse, the team he was a part of was being led by Gaylord Jiggens, the new head guard.
Gaylord arrived on the scene with several minor, recurring characters at his side along with a couple new ones. He asked the Tubthumpers to keep Valdar distracted while he and his team delt with ‘the real threat." They then set up a defensive choke point at the door to hold of the tide of undead. Valdar’s wraith form then appeared from the phylactery and began attacking the Tubthumpers as Gaylord and his crew were engaged by the tide of undead.
The Tubthumpers were unable to immediately attack the phylactery as it was being shielded by a magical shield. They were instead forced to engage Valdar’s wraith form. However, Valdar wielded powers that they had not seen before. Not only did he unleash cold and necrotic attacks against the Tubthumpers, but he was able to temporarily call forth the spirits of the dead to attack his enemies and sap their life force. He was also able to cause periodic tremors that threatened to knock the Tubthumpers prone.
After the Tubthumpers destroyed Valdar’s wraith, the shield blocking the phylactery dissipated, leaving it vulnerable. They immediately began doing as much damage to it as they could, but within seconds the shield came back up and not one, but two wraiths appeared and began attacking them.
While the Tubthumpers struggled with Valdar, Gaylord and company were slaying droves of the undead. Because most of the undead were inept zombies and fragile skeletons, Gaylord was able to take the time to make all his combat moves look really dramatic and impressive. This annoyed Jan somewhat.
The Tubthumpers were able to defeat the two wraiths and once again began attacking the Phylactery, and once again it quickly raised its shields again, limiting the damage they were able to do. The now worn and ragged Tubthumpers now had to contend with three wraiths. Brunie morphed into a mighty gorilla whose sacred presence gave even Valdar pause, and the Tubthumpers fought Valdar’s wraiths with all their might.
Victory and Loss
As the battle reached its climactic zenith, Valdar caused another violent quake that knocked Jan prone. Seeing that he was already weakened and now vulnerable, one of the wraiths flew at he running its ghastly hand through is heart and taking his life. Before he died, Jan managed to deliver one last humiliating kick to the Valdar’s butt, telling that it was from his dad. Jan dead fell dead.
Filled with righteous fury at the sight of Jan’s death, Lyndon ran the wraith he was fighting through with his sword utterly destroying it before charging at the wraith that killed Jan. Gorilla Brunie and Mod were also able to crush the third wraith that they had been contending with. Lyndon dueled the final wraith that had killed his companion and was able to slay it, leaving the phylactery vulnerable once more. Lyndon charged forth and delivered the final blow to the phylactery, causing it to shatter and expose Valdar’s vulnerable spirit. With a ghastly cry of terrified despair Valdar’s shadowy spirit raced around the chamber before disappearing.
The undead assaulting the chamber collapsed, and Lyndon rushed over to check on Jan. Protected in Jan’s hands was his precious frog: Dat Boi. Lyndon sheltered the frog and also found a locket on his person containing a picture of his family. The Tubthumpers rested for a short period of mourning.
Valdar Will Not Go Quitely into the Night
After resting, the Tubthumpers began searching for any secret treasure vaults Valdar may have had hidden. Gaylord and his crew searched as well, insisting that they were entitled to a cut of the treasure. Lyndon found a lever that opened a panel at the back of the chamber. In the chamber they saw Valdar’s hidden treasure horde, but as Mod and Brunie approached it, a trap door opened from beneath them, causing them to slide down into another dark chamber that seemed to be part of Valdar’s undead pits. The pit was filled with piles of dead bodies and Mod and Brunie did not have a way out.
A massive shadow began moving through the pit, causing the dead bodies to twitch and animate as it moved through them. Lyndon jumped down into the pit to assist Mod and Brunie as the shadow moved into one of the piles of bodies, causing them all come together and form a huge blob of writhing dead which formed arms made of dead parts with which to attack the remaining Tubthumpers.
Mod drank her potion of hill giant strength she had been saving, causing her to become super ripped and go into beast mode. She then began swinging her hammer into the animated pile of undead, knocking scores of bodies out of it with each swing. As she knocked bodied out of the main blob, some of the shadow would separate from the main host to animate these detached bodies into their own undead blobs. Lyndon began engaging these animated dead as Brunie provided healing support.
Help From Beyond
Suddenly, a portal opened up near the group and they heard a distant, but familiar voice beckoning them through it. They crossed to the other side and found that the portal had been created by the long lost spirit of Arius Tiran, and that the voice had come from the ghost of none other than Jan. They also saw the shadow for what it really was: the desperate spirit of William Valdar, fearfully trying to keep from passing on from the world of the living.
Arius told them that the only way to banish Valdar’s soul for good would be attack his spirit directly from the Ethereal Plane, which he could open portals to for them. However, only the spirits fragments that were separated from his host were weak enough to destroy, and the best way to separate them was to tear apart the pile of undead he was animating on the material plane.
Mod and Lyndon began alternating between going to the Material and Ethereal planes to fight Valdar wile Brunie continued to provide spell support and healing. Ghost Jan and ghost Arius fought Valdar from primarily the Ethereal Plane and Arius provided the portals for plane shifting to the still living Tubthumpers. Valdar fought back with huge strikes from his piles of dead, even going so far as to hurl zombies at his enemies while they were on the Material Plane. On the Ethereal Plane Valdar spewed all the necrotic energy he could muster at the Tubthumpers.
Despite Valdar’s best efforts, the Tubthumpers and Arius were able to systematically destroy each shard of his spirit as it detached from him. Every time they did, it collapsed into a small vortex that seemed to be siphoning away at Valdar’s spirit, pulling him into the next life. They opened up vortexes this way all around Valdar until he was being pulled at from all directions. To add insult to injury, the ghost of his own father, Gerald Valdar, watched from above, commenting on how William was finally getting what was coming to him.
Valdar’s Terrifying Destruction and Jan’s Peaceful Goodbye
Finally, with his spirit weakened and teetering on the edge of the abyss, William Valdar receaved his finishing blow at the hands of his long time enemy, Arius Tiran. William Valdar’s spirit began collapsing in on itself into a swirling vortex funneling itself into the next life, like water going down the drain. Valdar let out a wail of terror and despair as everything he was collapsed into nothingness. Arius shifted the still living Tubthumpers back to the Material Plane, but Valdar’s spite managed to catch them in the vortex regardless. Mod, Lyndon, and Brunie held onto each other as they began spiraling into the shadowy vortex being created by Valdar’s departure from this world, with Arius and Jan unable to do anything but watch helplessly.
Suddenly, a fishing hook came down from the treasure room above and snagged the Tubthumpers. Joe had come to the rescue. He used all his skill to reel the Tubthumpers out of the shadowing vortex and up to safety. As he pulled the still living Tubthumpers to safety, he beheld the ghost of Jan. The two of them exchanged a long look of sorrow and respect, and a single tear ran down Joe’s cheek as he watched Jan’s spirit fade away.