After their meeting with the wizards, Genevieve, Adrian, and Kinselton took George with them and contacted Pillars in an abandoned building in Torpedo Bay (Genevieve knew of it from a recent crime report she helped the cops sort out.) What could she tell them about the Oracle of Orcus, and peering through it to Dekovarian?
Pillars (herself a succubus) was sobered by what they wanted to know. Orcus was a High Archdemon of Undeath, a vastly powerful creature. He tended to punish those who challenged him by forcibly melding them with a treasure, and putting them in a vault prison, one of the many tiny suburbs of Hell. The Oracle of Orcus was an object, yes, but embedded in a powerful demon. It was used to look into a secret vault of Hell, Dekovarian; she wasn’t sure what was in it. Maybe the Oracle could unlock it, too.
They were determined to try and get to the Oracle of Orcus, so Pillars agreed to help them after she got some supplies together. She cautioned them that the way would not be pleasant. They would have to travel to nearby suburb of Hell, the Well of Orcus, and get into it. Then move some distance down it, and exit at the right place; delicate work. She went to get “supplies.”
While they waited for her to return, Genevieve telepathically updated the Ghost on what was going on. Adrian decided to meditate with the stone Marcher gave him that was supposed to teach him transmogrification.
Adrian sensed a gray mass as he was meditating, and steered into it. There he found a wrapped corpse that called itself the Tutor; it claimed Marcher had promised it someday it would meet his apprentice.
It taught him that the power of Hell was necessary to have transformational magic; since living things were made of changes, subtle and unique all the time, layered on top of their natures as blended creations, change disrupted them permanently. So, they required a taste of Hell because in Hell nothing changes, not ever. (From a certain point of view.)
Adrian could shuttle his being and personhood back into that changeless stasis, and then his energy and body could be altered without threatening to change who he was.By rocking back and forth between fully occupying Prime and his body, and retreating into that demonic stability, and then moving back out to fully occupy Prime, he would be able to protect his essence even through changes. (Adrian finally understood why the arcanists outlawed practice of this magic–it requires demonic power.)
Adrian learned the foundation of transmogrification magic, and by the end of the encounter he was the one in the bodybag and the Tutor wore his shape and face. Then Adrian retreated back to Prime, out of his meditation with the stone.
Pillars eventually returned with two bound Lords of Air. She told everyone to strip, and she tore out life-sustaining flesh from the demon hosts, along with smoky chunks of demon, and used that material to paint letters of the Correspondence on them, one each, burning their skin with the wicked power of the sigils. That used up one of the Lords of Air. She then tore the other and painted on the floor with its viscera and smoke, creating a portal, and they fell through it to reach the Well of Orcus.
They arrived somewhat the worse for wear, and saw hundreds of shallow-grave-looking undead leftovers standing around the pool. Pillars warned them that all the remains were desperate for a ride in something that would not vaporize them going into the Well, so be prepared for a desperate rush.
She assumed her true demonic form, which was somewhat distressing. The Tutor emerged from the stone, pleased to breathe the motionless air of a Hell-adjacent space once more. He looked like Adrian, and Adrian once more appeared in the bodybag shape.
The shine of the Deep Umbra was working through Genevieve’s disguise and Correspondence sigil, so the Tutor flensed himself to become an undead version of Adrian, wrapping the skin around Genevieve. They tried not to think about it too much.
Freshly disguised and brassy, they followed Pillars as she forced her way through the dead, and they were all embraced in her wings as she leaped into the Well of Orcus.
The ride was dismaying. Their sanity and bodies were torn by the sluice through to where Pillars finally slit the vein-like wall, and they tumbled out in an afterbirth-style welter. They found themselves in a monochromatic dimensional prison like an old ruined manor, invited by an old ghost to come and see the Oracle, who was (of course) expecting them.
Pillars was incapacitated by what she went through to get them there, so they left the Tutor to look after her, and the rest went to see the Oracle.
The Oracle of Orcus
It appeared to be an impossibly tall man in a very natty suit, and its neck was a raw nerve that rose and crooked, with a head-sized black ball mounted like an eye. The Oracle put its hand in the ghost and worked it like a puppet to talk to them.
Indeed, it controlled the Oracle; it sought to spy on Orcus once and was punished by this oracle being fixed in it so it had to stare into one of his secret vaults forever. It was happy to give them the oracle, if they could carry it back through the Veil to Prime. There, it had a cultivated host who could hold it, powerful as it was, without burning out. It had a fallen angel to hunt, a grudge from long, long ago.
They asked about Dekovarian, and the Oracle told them it was a secret vault of Hell. Kinsleton took a look through the Oracle, pressing his face against its plastic surface. He saw an impossibly huge vault, and within it a vast giant corpse of an undying God; it was the avatar of ANU, the Sumerian king of the Gods, lord of the constellations, spirits, and demons. ANU was banished from Prime when the Veil coalesced at the dawn of time. Then Hell salvaged the avatar and used it as a mighty engine to fuel part of Hell’s industry.
Convinced, they knew it was time to depart. They collected the Tutor and Pillars, and Kinselton agreed to carry the Oracle; he was the only one who could. Because the Oracle could not escape its prison, it folded the whole prison into Kinselton, gambling that moving to Prime would break it so the Oracle could crawl out of the dimensional wreckage.
Return to Prime
Genevieve held them together as the dimension folded around them, impossibly piling into Kinselton’s life force. She tore loose the edge of the membrane of Hell’s suburb, triggering a gush of infernal energy into some corner of the Penumbra. Escaping that, she guided them back to the back of the mirrors of Edgarton, and picked a big one to help everyone get out.
They shattered a wall-sized mirror in the yacht club, seared by the Correspondence painted on their bodies and concussed by the hard landing. They staggered out, naked and bleeding, and Genevieve healed them supernaturally as they hid for a few minutes. Then they stole a car and drove back to Torpedo Bay, finding their clothes where they left them. They dropped Pillars off with her Debtor guards, and headed for the docks, stealing a boat to head out to sea. They needed to get the Oracle to Lydia, the Key.
Meanwhile, the powerful demon that hosted the Oracle had a frank conversation with Kinselton. It actually planned to use him as a host, if he was willing. His pacting with the Outer Powers had created a connection to the Void in him, which gave the demon enough elbow space, so it would not burn through him quickly. If they could work together, it would help him, and in exchange he would help the Oracle hunt the fallen angel. Kinselton agreed to host the demon, who happily set about making a lair in Kinselton’s life force.
They closed in on the yacht, and Genevieve warned Mugsy (the shapeshifting dog captain of the boat) that they were coming, and that they would stink of Hell. Their stink offended him pretty desperately, so he kept as far away from them as he could as they boarded and closed in on where Lydia, the Key, was sleeping.
Kinselton “kissed” Lydia like feeding a baby bird, and the Oracle power slid into her energy matrix. The demon offered to help her walk, and they generally agreed; it sent some of its essence into her, possessing her (because though it was an arch-demon, it was still a Lord of Air at its root; still, it was capable of being in more than one host.)
Assault on the Brass Embassy
Equipped with the Key, they sensed a rush in the Periphery, and sensed that time was running out. It was time to make ready at the gates of the Brass Embassy. They never did find out where the main entry was, but they knew the back door was in the guts of the abandoned-cathedral-turned-nightclub, Sanctuary. They loaded up and headed back to Edge City to return their stolen boat and close the gates of Hell.
They strutted up to Sanctuary, sensing all the infernal energy inside. The Oracle Key felt contempt for the place, and teleported them into the middle of the crowd inside. The numerous Lords of Air inhabiting bodies, acting as guards, reacted violently.
Genevieve fell in a hail of bullets, and George pulled her into his protections as the others chopped through the defenders with magic bolts, limb-lopping spectral razors, and brutal telekinetics. They made short work of the Lords of Air, when a Wrecker was released to deal with them.
They recognized it as a Hound of the Resurrection. Adrian battered at it with powerful magic, and Kinselton found he had become mighty, surviving a hand-to-hand tussel with the regenerating demon. Adrian put it down with a gush of destructive magic, and Genevieve caught the spirit rising from its corpse and bound it to Adrian’s Hell-stone so it could not reproduce. The corpse fell to ash.
Meanwhile sirens closed on the confrontation. Geneveive quickly contacted Lena Wilts (head of the anti-meta task force) and told her to keep her people in a super-wide perimeter; this was beyond them. Lena grudgingly complied.
The doors battered open and a massive yuan-ti abomination slithered in flanked by less dramatic snake men. The snake monster hissed, demanding to be given the Key.
Still, the Embassy had bought enough time to field four powerful pure-blood physical demon hunters. They strode out, well armed and ready to kill.
That’s when it all came apart.
Something burst down through the roof with enough force to shatter some of the flying buttresses outside, and crush a crater in the stone floor. Onaga himself rose up. He effortlessly slew the demons, and rounded on the Key, effortlessly vaporizing its demon driver’s fragment of essence. (The rest of the demon was still safely locked in Kinselton.)
Genevieve steadily approached the last nephilim on Prime, mighty beyond reason, ancient beyond time itself. She showed him the Key, realizing Onaga had a powerful connection to ANU. With the Primordial Spark, and the zeroed in location of the engine vault of Dekovarian, he might be able to shift ANU a bit. The only way to move through the Veil for something as powerful as Onaga would be to reduce to the tiniest sliver of his true power, and move through an existing breach in the dimension’s protections.
The Seventh (and final) Seal that they had to break to close the Brass Embassy for good was for the last nephelim to commit suicide at the doors of the Embassy. And that’s what happened.
Onaga sloughed off almost all of his life force, taking the Primordial Spark and Oracle from the Key, and tearing through the gates into the outermost region of Hell; the force of that passing collapsed Sanctuary into a crater and crushed the door to the Brass Embassy on Prime shut forever in this place.
As some reflexive gesture, Onaga sent Lydia teleporting up above the wreckage, so she was on top and easy to find. Still unconscious, she was rescued by Adrian using stealth magic, as Genevieve telepathically warned Lena Wilts that they were going to take their friend and go; the Wilters could have the rest.
They escaped clean, battered and burned and exhausted. But, in the end, victorious.