Shilsen's Eberron SH (Die Hard 7 - Just DIE Dammit : 11/11/12) - Page 22





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  1. #211
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    Nearly three hours later, the Angels stand in the ruined basement of Burning Keep, looking at a blank stone wall. Six straightens from where he has been kneeling. “The tracks end here all right. Only going in. Looks like the other Flamers didn’t make it, Gareth.”

    “Don’t call them Flamers,” says Gareth, giving Luna the evil eye. “It still doesn’t excuse her taking their things.”

    This time, Luna looks unabashed. She pats the backpacks slung across her shoulder and grins. “Just giving them a good home.”

    “And, as I said before,” comments Nameless, as he scans the area for ambient magic, “You didn’t have trouble with it before you found out about them being Flamers. So quit complaining now.” He looks around. “No magic that I can detect. It must be very well concealed. So, let’s try the phrase.”

    Korm looks at the wall and intones loudly, “Darwaza dikhao*.”

    Immediately, a six inch deep recess in the stone appears, forming the shape of a rounded doorframe a dozen feet high and about eight wide. Five finely cut dragonshards are set into it at well-spaced intervals. The door is a solid slab of stone, with no sign of a handle or a method for opening.

    “Guess it works,” says Korm. “Let’s get ready before I try the opening phrase. If this guardian thing is as bad as she says, we’ll need all that we’ve got.” He and his compatriots cast a number of their standard preparatory spells. “Good thing Vraria took care of that Taint for us,” says Luna, before changing into a bear.

    “Yes,” nods Korm, before looking up at the door again. “Okay – here goes. Darwaza kholo.”

    Again, the effect is instantaneous. The stone doorway disappears, leaving behind a five foot stretch of tunnel. The tunnel disappears into a dense, thick fog, which the Angels recognize immediately. “Solid fog,” says Nameless.

    “I can walk through it just fine right now,” says Korm, who has just used a freedom from movement on himself. “I’ll go ahead and check. You be ready.” The big orc steps into the tunnel.

    As soon as he does, a surge of invisible magical energy assaults him. Korm staggers at the unexpected assault but shakes it off. “Aargh! There’s some kind of magic trap here. But I’m fine.” Undaunted, he does not even stop to heal himself, but proceeds into the fog, heading on with a hand on the wall to guide him and his sword extended to check the area ahead.

    As soon as he takes a few steps, he hears the sound of soft giggling some distance ahead. Korm’s slight alarm at the sound is tempered immediately by his irritation as a question floats through the darkness behind him, in Six’s unmistakably metallic tones. “Korm – why are you giggling? And what’s wrong with your voice?”

    “It’s not me! It’s something ahead.” As he speaks, Korm emerges from the fog, having covered what he estimates is sixty feet of tunnel, into the large chamber beyond it.

    The walls, ceiling and floor of the square, forty foot long, room are featureless, made of a dark grey stone, which barely reflects the numerous continual flames that light it, which have been cast on apparently random locations around the chamber. Some are on the two rows of pillars that stretch down the room, holding up the ceiling twenty feet above. There are other flames (and more pillars) in an adjoining room too, which Korm can see through an open door to the side.

    An odd feature that Korm notes is the little holes, smaller than the diameter of his little finger, which fill the room, covering walls, floor and ceiling. His attention, however, is mainly drawn by the only denizen of the room beside him.

    Ten feet from the far wall stands a little gnome girl, maybe ten years old at best. She is dressed in a simple frock, worn under a long red hooded cloak, which ends right above the similarly colored boots on her feet. A wicker basket hangs on one arm.

    Her eyes and Korm’s meet for a moment. Then, the little gnome girl smiles. And Korm’akhan, pride of the Gatekeepers, berserker bearer of the meteoric sword, who has faced mind flayers, beholders, dragons and rakshasas, turns and runs back into the fog.

    Seconds later, he emerges on the other side. “What happened?” asks Gareth, surprised at Korm’s hurried arrival. “Did you see the guardian?”

    “It’s a little girl,” gasps Korm.

    “Wait,” asks Six, “Did you just run away from a little girl?” Luna gives a puzzled growl too. Nameless asks, “Was it something disguised as a little girl?”

    “No idea,” says Korm with a scowl. “You didn’t let me finish. It’s a little gnome girl.”

    “Crap!” says Six, “That changes things,” and Luna again gives a corroborating growl. Nameless and Gareth immediately begin to cast a couple of extra protective spells, as does Korm. While they are doing so, Korm describes the details of the room.

    Once they are done, Nameless calls through the fog, “Hello?”

    A childishly female voice answers, “Hello.”

    “Who are you? What is your name?”

    “Name?” The voice sounds a little puzzled, and then amused. “I do not … really have a name. But you can call me Red. Won’t you come and play with me?”

    Suspiciously, Nameless asks, “What do you mean by play?”

    “Um … play games?” There is an accompanying amused giggle, which doesn’t have quite the same effect on the Angels.

    Luna growls and gestures around her chest, causing Six to ask, “Do you have an amulet there?”

    “I dunno. If you come here, maybe I can help you look?”

    “Why don’t you come out here?” asks Gareth, holding Kizmet, which emanates a feeling of combined curiosity and confusion.

    “I can’t come out. You should come here. If you spend more time you’ll make Wolfie mad.”

    “Wolfie? That doesn’t sound good,” mutters Korm. “I didn’t see anything else in there with her, but there were lots of shadows, and there was an open door to the next chamber.”

    There is no other sound from beyond the fog, and Nameless finally shrugs. “Let’s just go in there and try to deal with it. We’re as prepared as can be.” The Angels prepare themselves to head in, Korm and Luna entering together, while Nameless plans to dimension door the rest past the fog.

    Again, as soon as Korm (and this time, Luna) cross the threshold, they stagger under the impact of a magical assault. At the same time, Nameless casts his spell, but nothing happens. “Hold it!” Nameless casts a detect magic and soon says, “I detect a moderately powerful abjuration. Considering how it affects you whenever you enter, I’m guessing it’s a forbiddance. It’ll hurt us all as we enter, but once in, we’ll be fine. Unfortunately, it blocks all dimensional travel spells, including dimension door and teleport, as well as all summonings.”

    Luna growls her irritation, as the alienist continues, “Anyway, can’t be helped. Let’s go on.” Luna, Gareth and he enter, wincing at the pain, and then the Angels stop to restore everyone to complete health. Having done so, they proceed through the solid fog. As they are doing so, Luna feels a whiff of air behind her. Reaching back with a rear paw, she feels it slide on an incredibly smooth and hard barrier, though Nameless, turning around to look, can see nothing. “Ah, great!” says Nameless. “I think it’s a Wall of Force.”

    With no real option, the group continues carefully through the fog. They emerge into the chamber Korm described, to face the smiling visage of the little girl. “Ooh!” she squeals in excitement, “Lots of friends.” She peers at Six. “And a tin and wood man!” Then she lifts up her basket. “Do you want a treat?”

    Korm looks around at the others, shrugs and steps forward. “Sure.”

    Red steps forward, lifting the cover off the basket, to show that it is full of flat biscuit-like creations, brownish-gray in color and shaped like little bones. “Have one?” says Red.

    “All right, I’ll try one,” says Korm, picking one up. As he is popping it into his mouth, he asks, “So, can you help us find this amulet we need?”

    “Okay,” says Red, with a happy smile. “Do you like the treat?”

    Korm chews and finds that the ‘treat’ is made of dried, solidified meat. As he swallows, he finds it has little specks of a harder substance in it. One larger and sharper piece catches in Korm’s teeth and he pulls it out, to see that it is a little shard of bone.

    As he looks at it, Red says, “Give me a kiss?” She spreads her arms to be lifted, and as he looks down at her, Korm suddenly feels a powerful will insinuate itself into his mind, pushing aside all mental barriers and compelling him to obey her commands.

    “Sure,” he says, or at least his body does, while his psyche claws desperately at the magical bonds from the back of his mind. To no avail. Korm picks Red up and kisses her on the cheek, while she throws both arms around his neck.

    At her touch, Korm immediately feels a strange weakness** overcome him. His movements slow slightly, his thoughts become a little fuzzy and he feels his two most powerful dweomers slip from his mind. His companions, who have been watching with bemusement, see his face turn suddenly and deadly pale.

    On the positive side, the effect breaks the control she had exerted over him and, with a startled cry of mingled pain, fear and anger, Korm hurls the little girl away from him as hard as he can. Red too lets out a startled cry as her small form flies through the air, but she never hits the ground. As she is thrown, both Luna and Six notice that her shadow is absolutely huge, much larger than should be, and moving in a manner that doesn’t fit her movements.

    Now, moving with breathtaking speed, the shadow wraps around Red, stopping her fall in midair. As she hangs suspended for a second, more and more shadows wrap around her, expanding in size and taking on solidity. Within a second of Korm hurling her away, instead of Red there stands an ogre-sized creature, its heavily muscled form covered in what seems to be sleek ebony skin, its two long arms tapering down to large hands with cruelly hooked claws. Even more strangely, it has no head, its torso ending where a neck should be. Instead, Red’s head, still covered in her hooded cloak, protrudes from its chest.

    She wears an expression of mild concern, and says, in an admonishing manner, “Now see what you did, silly? You made Wolfie really mad!”

    Even as she speaks, the Angels burst into violent motion. The two druids are the fastest, unleashing claws and blade against it, but they might as well be attacking a mountain, for all the effect their weapons have, bouncing off the creature’s ebony hide without scratching it. Even as they charge in together, Nameless casts a spell and the air ripples, a bolt of sonic energy sliding neatly between them. To the alienist’s surprise, his target, large as it is, nimbly sidesteps, letting the attack pass harmlessly by.

    Its movement takes it closer to an onrushing Gareth, who calls aloud upon the Flame, bringing Kizmet down in a gleaming arc that trails silver fire in its wake. Even Red, turning her head from where it protrudes from the chest of ‘Wolfie’ comments appreciatively, “Ooh – pretty!” And then Wolfie’s arm moves with amazing speed, deflecting Kizmet just enough that the blade hits its shoulder at an angle and bounces off.

    !” says Six, as he dives by to try and catch the enemy between them. “We’re in trouble.” Deciding to try something different, the warforged swings low, his chain wrapping around its left leg. He tugs as hard as he can, and then stumbles off balance as Wolfie pulls back with much greater force. With a curse, Six lets go his chain and reaches for another. More cheerfully, Red says sympathetically, “Oopsie!”

    Wolfie pauses to kick away the chain around its leg and then turns to Luna. Suddenly, a dark, wolflike head appears above its shoulders and it howls wildly. Overly muscular arms reach out to sink claws deep into the bear’s side and then rip and tear, while the head snaps long teeth into her back. Luna groans, feeling a similar draining sensation to the one Korm just felt, spells fading from her mind as well. Wolfie howls again in triumph and then its head fades away as quickly as it appeared.

    The next few seconds are full of fear, frustration and fleeting relief for the Angels. Wolfie moves with unusual speed and its rocklike form blocks most blows. Even when sword and spell do connect, they inflict less damage than they should, and the wounds are closing, if ever so slowly. And to round things off, the creature seems resistant to magic as well.

    Nevertheless, the wounds do accumulate. Six is soon pulling a third chain from his magical haversack, but the distraction he provides lets the others have a chance to hit. Nameless, having quickly cast the assay resistance spell Saala Torrn gifted him, batters Wolfie with magic missiles. The Silver Flame finally comes through for Gareth, Kizmet blazing a deep wound across the creature’s chest. And, unlike the wounds left by Korm’s sword, Six’s chain and Luna’s claws, this wound seems completely unaffected by the creature’s ability to absorb some of its wounds.

    With an angry growl, Wolfie lashes out, laying Gareth’s arm open, draining him just as it has the others. And then the shadows in the chamber seem to rise up and swirl around it, and both Wolfie and Red are gone.

    “What the hell?” says Korm, looking around, as do his companions. “Is it gone?” He concentrates and his nose and mouth lengthen into a muzzle, the hairs on it standing to attention, and he sniffs the still air around him. Though neither he nor the others can see it, Korm’s now heightened sense of smell lets him pick out a strange scent, dry and desiccated. And it is moving, passing behind and around a pillar to come up on the side of the Angels, who are looking around for it.

    As Korm shouts a warning, Luna emits a similar growl, her sense of scent having pinpointed the same target. Even though she knows precisely where it is and is looking right at the spot, she sees nothing. But that’s not going to stop me, thinks the druid bear, lifting a claw and gesturing, while she growls an incantation. Immediately, a lavender glow appears in the area, outlining Wolfie’s form for all to see.

    And target. As the surprised creature, which has been enjoying the chance of sneaking up on its enemies, pauses, the Angels rush it. And this time, luck seems to favor them. Wolfie is in the middle of a step when Six’s chain wraps around its leg, and the warforged hurls himself to the side. For a moment, Wolfie teeters and then crashes to the ground. Immediately, Luna and Korm are on it, hacking and slashing, while another spell from Nameless smashes into it. Most damagingly again, Gareth steps forward and slashes down at it with Kizmet.

    Wolfie howls again, this time in both pain and rage, and then its form falls apart into a mistlike vapor. The reason for the holes is immediately revealed as the vapor flows into the floor and disappears.

    “Did we kill it?” asks Six. Nameless shakes his head. “I doubt it. And I just realized what it is. The ability to drain our energy and to assume gaseous form? It’s a …”

    “Vampire,” completes Gareth, grimly. “No wonder the damn thing was so resistant to your weapons.”

    “Not yours, however,” comments Korm.

    “I’m special.” Gareth smiles slightly as he calls on Kizmet to heal his wounds.

    “No time to waste,” says Nameless. “Let’s check the other room.”

    The Angels hurry through the connecting door and short tunnel to find themselves in a similarly lighted – and perforated – room, but much larger, and with multiple rows of pillars. They quickly spread out and begin to search the room, but neither magical nor mundane checking reveals anything hidden.

    A minute has passed, when Nameless is very unpleasantly surprised by a cloud of vapor, still outlined in lavender light, which flows out of the ground next to him. Even as he calls a warning, it transforms back into the form of Wolfie. The ebony form still bears the scars of some of the wounds the Angels had inflicted, but most of them have been healed. Red’s face still protrudes from its chest, and she smiles cheerfully, and says, “I spy, with my little eye – you!”

    “Spy this!” mutters Nameless, stepping back and unleashing a spell. The alienist throws all of his magical energy and knowledge into it, crafting the most powerful fireball that he has ever cast or seen***. And as the magical flames blossom, he screams in frustration as Wolfie nimbly dodges between the bursts of fire, leaping out and away from their path.

    Focused on the magic as they are, both Nameless and the creature have missed a more mundane factor. Even as the fireball is exploding, Luna is charging forward. Seeing the creature leaping away and hearing Nameless shout in anger, she abandons her planned attack and simply throws her bulk into Wolfie. Nearly two thousand pounds of angry bear slam into it, smashing it back into the heart of the flames****.

    It screams, as flesh melts, chars and falls to dust. And this is when Wolfie makes its second mistake. The first was to return to the attack before it was fully healed from its wounds. And now, badly wounded, it should flee through the holes, where the Angels cannot follow, and return later. But it is both pained and completely infuriated. Bound to this place centuries ago, the guardian lives a strange semi-life, doomed to remain in stasis until intruders appear, fighting and destroying them, and then being returned to stasis shortly afterwards. Its only function is to destroy, though the strange humor of its rakshasa creator displays itself in the twin personality of Red and Wolfie that he put together into it. It is only sentient in a limited sense. And it does not completely believe that it might lose. In all the years since its creation, whatever it has faced, whether human, orc, elf, ogre, giant or rakshasa, it has destroyed. And nothing has ever hurt it quite as much as the Angels have. Whatever veneer of sentience the creature has is lost as it focuses purely on destruction.

    It howls its anger and pain, before lashing out at Nameless with all its power. He is lifted from the floor and a flurry of claws and fangs lay his chest and throat open to the bone. Even so, the alienist might have remained barely conscious, but the additional, automatic draining of energy is too much to bear, and he drops into a rapidly spreading pool of blood.

    But even as he goes down, his allies swarm all over the enemy. Sword, chain and claw strike home, and again, Kizmet strikes the deadliest blow. This time, Wolfie’s body falls apart into streamers of shadow that flash out of existence. All they leave behind is Red’s falling form, which turns into another cloud of smoke before it hits the ground. It seeps through the holes, a parting bolt of flame from Luna passing harmlessly through it.

    “Did we kill it?” asks Six again.

    “Not really,” says Gareth. “If it’s a true vampire, it will return, after taking time to recover in its coffin. That can take hours. But we beat it.”

    To underline his words, there is a loud ‘click’ and a large panel flips open in the wall, to reveal a peg from which an amulet hangs, while a number of items, mostly clothing, are arrayed beneath it. Korm, Six and Gareth hurry to it.

    A loud growl interrupts them, and they turn to see Luna standing over Nameless’s form. She shakes her head in disgust at them and then channels as powerful a spell as she can. The alienist convulses, as many of his wounds close, and groggily opens his eyes. “Since I'm still breathing, I presume we won.”

    “Yes,” says Korm. “And we found the amulet.”

    He turns to examine it, a dark metal oval shaped into the snarling head of a rakshasa, hanging from a similar dark metal chain. Korm reaches out to pick it up. As he touches the amulet, he feels a wave of weakness wash over him, similar to what the guardian’s touch did, but twice as powerful.

    With a curse, Korm drops the amulet, and the feeling of weakness instantly disappears. “O-kay!” He carefully picks the amulet up with a cloth, making sure not to contact it, and sticks it in a bag. Then he and the others quickly grab the rest of the items there. “Let’s get out of here.”

    Nameless, shakily having climbed back to his feet and then onto Luna’s back, nods. “I just hope that wall of force isn’t there. If it is, we’re screwed.”

    Luckily for the Angels, it isn’t, and seconds later they are back in the basement of Burning Keep. As they emerge from the secret chamber, the stone door flashes back into existence behind them, so close that it shaves a few hairs off Luna’s tail. Seconds later, there’s a rumble from the surrounding stone. Even though it has apparently stood for centuries, cracks begin to appear in it and dust streams down from the crumbling ceiling. As the Angels hurry up the stairs, the rumbling gets louder and turns into the sound of crashing stone, as the lowest level, followed more slowly by the penultimate one, and then the one above it, collapses in on itself. As they emerge into the top level, a thick cloud of dust billows up the stairs after them. Waving away the dust, they see that it is blocked from only a few feet down with debris and rubble.

    “Well, nobody’s going down there again,” says Six.

    “Good riddance,” says Nameless, while Korm and a now shifter Luna begin to heal the group one by one. “At least we got what we wanted and came out alive. I’m just curious what kind of bastard would design such a thing and put it down there.”


    * Why, yes – fiends do use Hindi for all magical passwords.
    ** 2 negative levels
    *** Rolled a 53 on 10d6
    **** More mundanely, that was me allowing Luna’s player to throw in an action point (Nameless already had asked to do so and rolled but not well enough) to lower the enemy’s save to the point where he failed to make it. See – I really am just a pussycat.
    Last edited by shilsen; Tuesday, 21st November, 2006 at 10:57 PM.
    shilsen is broken - Crothian (and this is why)

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  • #212
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    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!

    -Vorp

  • #213
    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!

    -Vorp
    Glad you're enjoying it. Shil should have another update in the next couple of days. There's been a fair amount of banter with the Night Hag.

    If you're looking for another good read, you might want to try the Chronicles of Burne and Some Others of Lesser Importance. That's the tuesday campaign Shil and I are in. It's funnier and has a higher pun quotient, though it's not quite as dramatic as Shil's campaign. There's a link in my sig above.

  • #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!
    Thanks. I couldn't have done it without the fairly insane combination of players I have.

    And that's the first time anybody's ever mentioned that I protected them from Hebrew class

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::
    Sadly, we're not playing till the weekend of the 2nd/3rd December, but I should have one more up in a couple of days. Things are rapidly coming to a head with the Angels and the rakshasas.

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!

    -Vorp
    Thanks again. I think it's fairly obvious that I really like the setting (at least partly because it has many built-in preconceptions and tropes that I was always fond of using), so I'm glad I might get someone else to try and enjoy it.
    shilsen is broken - Crothian (and this is why)

    My Eberron Story Hour. Updated (Finally!) November 11. The Grand Finale!

    My world's worst paladin thread. Vote and throw rocks!

    My Sexism in D&D and on ENWorld (now with SOLUTIONS!) thread. Pop in and tell me what you think.

  • #215
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    Handled between sessions:

    Once it’s clear that the rest of the tower is not about to fall, the Angels stop to rest and heal up as much as possible. Despite the healing, everyone besides Six bears the marks of their encounter with the vampire guardian, and there is nothing at hand to be able to deal with it. They also take the time for Nameless to study the magical auras of the items that they recovered. He is fairly certain of most of them, but two are difficult to determine, namely one ring and the belt.

    Luna immediately offers to try both on. The ring provides no signs of its nature, but the belt, after experimentation, appears to have the same effect as the greater magic fang spell she likes to use. Interestingly, when she wears it and wildshapes, the belt remains active and changes to look like a dark strip of hair (or feathers, as a bird) encircling her midriff. Luna’s great pleasure at the discovery is slightly lessened when Gareth points out that it draws attention to her middle and makes her look fat.

    Nameless, meanwhile, also studies the amulet, without actually touching it physically. He finds that it has strong auras of abjuration, conjuration and transmutation, but can make out nothing else about it.

    Once all of this is done, the Angels head back towards Rotting Blade. The return trip takes longer than it should, since they have to detour around half a dozen creatures, which are currently feasting on the bodies of the three giant lizards the slew on the way. These look like large predatory cats in general shape, but have reddish scales and a row of foot-long spines growing down the middle of their backs, as well as an extra set of legs. Considering their condition, the Angels decide to swing wide around them, rather than risk another unnecessary battle, and manage to do so successfully.

    It is late afternoon by the time they reach Rotting Blade. Though night falls early in the Demon Wastes, it seems to be doing so much faster this day, with the sky seeming darker than it should be when they near the village. Or perhaps it is just a particularly thick pall of smoke from the many volcanoes and flame pits of the area.

    When they enter the village, the people again say nothing to them, though the Angels notice more of them are watching covertly. Gareth picks up a fair amount of curiosity in the minds he passes, as they return to the central tavern. Once there, they find Siyal waiting in human form, who quickly leads them through the back room, down to the cellar, and to the room where they had met Vraria.

    Vraria is there, talking to Uthcheq, who is still in his orc form. He moves away and takes a position opposite Siyal and beside the door, taking on his true form (as Siyal already has). Vraria, also in her true form as a night hag, looks at the Angels with gleaming eyes. But as she looks around, noting that all of them are there, disappointment grows clearly in her eyes.

    “So,” she says, “Since you are all here, I presume that means you did not encounter the guardian?” Hopefully, she adds, “Or did you?”

    Nameless replies, “Ah – that information will cost you extra. There are a number of things you might be interested in knowing about that tower. But we can discuss that, once we have satisfied ourselves as to the quality of the information you have promised us.”

    Vraria frowns slightly but then smoothes her countenance. “Maybe. But more importantly, do you have the amulet? And if so....”

    She extends a hand.

    Nameless shows her the amulet, make sure she gets a good look at it, and then drops it back into the bag of holding.

    ”I don’t wish to be rude, but we have just faced down a most ‘interesting’ guardian to retrieve this on your behalf and we do need that information. Before you raise the obvious objection, we WILL live up to our half of the bargain. If for no other reason than that we have no desire to make additional enemies. The ones we have currently are more than sufficient and I am getting very tired of people screwing with us.”

    Nameless pauses to smile broadly. “Besides, I’d never hear the end of it from Korm, if we didn’t live up to our agreement. Do you know that he actually insisted that we negotiate in good faith with a mindflayer? And he’s a Gatekeeper.”

    He ignores the dirty look from Korm and concludes, “So the information first please.”

    Luna pipes in at this point, raising a hand to attract Vraria’s attention. “Hi. Would you happen to have a restoration or something lying around nearby? And feel free to remove this Taint any time.”

    Vraria stares at Luna for a bit and then says, “You are insane. Still, that can be taken care of – and in fact, I can handle that more easily when I have the amulet.”

    She looks past Luna and speaks a few syllables to her servitors. Only Nameless understands, since the language is Fiendish, the command to be, “Watch the wizard. If he, or anybody else, tries to flee with the bag, kill him.” The intent, however, is clear to everyone, as both of the naztharunes step forward quickly, shortswords appearing in their hands, to position themselves behind Nameless.

    As they move, Vraria quickly adds, this time in Common, “Do not be alarmed. There is no danger – as long as you keep your side of the bargain. If you try to leave with that bag, you” (she looks at Nameless) “Will die for sure.”

    Vraria then takes a seat and says, “Here is the information - and I have a little extra for you. Zathara has, for centuries, been interested in the Lake of Fire, or more precisely, in what is bound beneath it. The Lake of Fire is a few miles from here, and though I don’t know who lies beneath it, I know it is one of the greatest of the Rajahs. Whether Zathara wants to awaken him, or it, or simply to leach some of his power, I don’t know. Whatever benefits Zathara most, I presume.”

    “I have worked with him for short periods before, mainly because it benefited me and there was never any fear that he might succeed. I don’t want one of the Rajahs out any more than you, I presume, do. There’s no way to predict the results. I have a very comfortable situation here, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

    “Whatever he found in your lands, I don’t know, but I know Zathara was more excited about it than I’ve ever seen him. He clearly thinks that it’ll help him succeed at whatever he has planned. When he stopped here, that was only to inform me to slay you if you ever showed up.” Vraria looks speculatively around the group, which does quite look the worse for wear now. “For some reason, you have him worried.” She shrugs. “Well, you did defeat the guardian, whatever it was, and I know it has slain rakshasas before, so maybe he has reason.”

    “Anyhow, I know he was going to a lair he has to the north, in order to recover some things and make preparations, before returning here. As soon as you left, I sent Uthcheq here to the volcano. And he returned only minutes before you came. Uthcheq – tell them what you saw.”

    The panther-headed rakshasa speaks, but the blades in his paws, only inches from Nameless’s back, don’t move. “I was watching the Lake of Fire from a distance, and after an hour, I saw three figures appear on the lower slopes to the West. I quickly moved closer and verified that while all three were rakshasas, one was an ak’chazar. It must have been Zathara. He held up a small object, like a rod made of crystal or a large dragonshard, and an amber beam shone from it. A doorway appeared in the side of the volcano and the ak’chazar, and one other, this one carrying the blade that Nethatar wields, entered. The other rakshasa waited by the doorway. As soon as the two entered, there was an explosion.” He looks at Vraria. “I hurried back to tell you. As I was coming, I heard a loud rumbling and the Lake began to spew smoke into the air, and I think I saw a small eruption.”

    As he ends, Vraria says, “And there you have it. They are at the Lake of Fire, where Zathara is trying to achieve whatever he has been seeking to. You must have seen the darkness in the sky when you were arriving. That is the smoke from the Lake. You have no time, so hand over the amulet, let me help you as I can, and leave.”

    There is a moment’s silence as everyone digests what she said, and then Nameless quietly takes the amulet out of the bag and hands it over to her, saying, “Well, it sounds like we are all about to run out of time.”

    As he is doing so, silver flames erupt in a diagonal line down Gareth's back. Luckily for Nameless, the naztharune are very well-trained, and Vraria did tell them to kill him only if someone tried to escape, so the blades at his back move barely an inch closer before they stop.

    “What th...,” begins Vraria, before she recovers to quickly grab the amulet from Nameless's hand. She quickly drops the chain around her neck, letting it dangle on her withered chest, and then completes the original sentence. “What the Hells is that?”

    It is now clear that the flames, which continue to burn, are running up and down the sheathed blade of Kizmet. They do not harm or burn Gareth in any way, but those near him can feel their heat. Gareth, however, notices something extra. For a moment, there is a voice, a harsh, metallic voice, in his head. “The Lake of Fire. You must go to the Lake.” A scene flashes in his mind, the scene from his dream where he holds the Key in one hand and Kizmet in the other. Then both voice and scene fade, and, a few seconds later, so do the flames.

    Silent for a moment, more due to shock than anything else, Gareth smiles happily, his face masked behind his helmet. As the flames die down, he says, “She is correct. We must go to the Lake of Fire. There we will defeat our prey and complete this holy quest.” Silently, the paladin gives a prayer to the Silver Flame, thanking the Flame for its help and guidance.

    Vraria looks a little suspiciously at Gareth, and then settles for a comment of “You need to be careful with that sword. Do that in the wrong place and you’ll be dead before you know it.”

    Then she switches her attention to the amulet. She looks down at it and smiles, before stroking it gently in an almost lascivious manner. “Just to make sure...,” she mutters, and then looks back up. “Would you,” (she points at Nameless) “Please detect magic on me, and you,” (she indicates Gareth) “Detect my thoughts?” Vraria puts her hands on her hips and waits.

    Nameless shrugs and complies, detecting the same magical auras as before on the amulet and also picking up a few magical auras on her. Gareth, meanwhile, picks up the surface thought, “I'm thinking that you very likely are screwed.”

    “So,” Vraria asks, “What did you pick up?” When they answer, she grins toothily, and then places a hand on the amulet. After a few seconds, she says, “Now try it again.”

    This time, there is no effect whatsoever. As far as Nameless’s spell and Gareth’s divine ability are concerned, Vraria might as well not exist. When they explain what happened (or rather, didn’t), she smiles broadly, and says, sounding just a little relieved, “I always did want to experience the joys of a Mind Blank.”

    Vraria sighs contentedly and says, “It is the Amulet I wanted. You have done very well – better than I really expected. Since you have little time, let’s make this quick. What sort of help do you need?” She looks at Luna. "A restoration, you said. And a cure for the Taint. Anything else?”

    “Most of us could use a restoration, except for him.” Nameless jerks a thumb at Six. “Also, if you can speed up our transit to the Lake of Fire, that would seem to be advisable. I lost my teleports when I was drained by the guardian. There’s also a ring we recovered from the guardian. It would be nice to know if it’s useful.”

    Vraria is about to reply to Nameless, when Luna breaks in. “Do me first! I’m already molting and retaining water! I simply can’t also have taint and be energy drained too! It’s unseemly! And I feel all cross and put out! And like I can’t enjoy killing things or even playing with our new magic items in this condition!”

    The night hag smiles thinly at her words. “You people really are a little insane. Hopefully that makes you the right ones to stop Zathara.” The tone of voice betrays a little uncertainty about that.

    ”To that end, I’ll do what I can to make things easier for you. After all,” she adds with a real smile this time, “I might as well try out the limits of my new toy. All those who need healing, hold hands.”

    When they do so, Vraria reaches out and touches Luna’s shoulder. Luna feels a warmth flow in from her hand and spread instantly through her body. The next person feels the warmth flow in from Luna’s hand and spread through and to the next person. And so on, till everyone feels it. Vraria closes her eyes, raises her other hand to grasp the amulet, and concentrates.

    After a couple of seconds, starting with the last person, the warmth recedes. And as it passes, so does the feeling of weakness that they have had since the battle with the guardian. And even the least lingering traces of the Taint. As Luna feels the last of the warmth drain from her, Vraria staggers, even her purplish-black complexion paling, and almost falls. The two naztharune rakshasas tense, their blades ready to strike if needed, but Vraria gestures quickly. “Stop – I’m fine.”

    She straightens, still looking weak, and again closes a hand around the amulet. She closes her eyes and, after a second, her normal blackish-purple complexion reasserts itself. “Aaah!”

    Reopening her eyes, she says, “That’s as much as I can do for you right now. And I can’t get you to the Lake of Fire any more quickly. It’s almost directly to the northeast. Four miles. You’ll see it easily enough once you get past the second set of hills in that direction. With what’s going on in the sky, I don’t think you can miss it. The door’s easy enough to see. To the southwest – right, Uthcheq?" The naztharune nods silently.

    “There you are. As for that ring you mentioned...,” Vraria stops and walks over to a cabinet and produces an ornately carved chest. She opens it and after rummaging inside for a bit, pulls out a scroll and tosses it to Nameless. “That should do it, but you’ll have to use the spell.”

    “And now, I suggest you leave. Quickly.” Vraria pauses and looks around at all of the Angels, clearly weighing their potential. “And, paladin or not, I suggest you all pray.”
    shilsen is broken - Crothian (and this is why)

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    ::crosses fingers that Gareth's next move will be to smite the night hag::

    Just to, you know, spice things up a bit.

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    <grabs popcorn and settles in>

    Ohhh I feel a big climactic battle coming up. I hop ethat the Angels do the job and stop the Rhakshassa's.

    or failing that all die trying with Gareth completeing that final smite beofre he falls into teh lake of fire and dies.

    That would be cinematic.

    A shame but a cinematic shame...
    Avatar courtesy of Sialia!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by delericho
    Sadly, the reality is that many people don't realise that "no, you can't" doesn't always reduce fun, and "yes, you can" doesn't always increase it. So, very often, they find themselves working against their own fun.
    My idea of faith: The All Black's WILL win the World Cup - it's gonna happen people!!! (so long as we don't get France or Oz in our semi-final).

  • #218
    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    ::crosses fingers that Gareth's next move will be to smite the night hag::

    Just to, you know, spice things up a bit.
    I don't know if this will please or frighten you, but this is exactly the sort of suggestion that Shilsen is always making to us. He was even trying to tempt us to screw over the Hag with regards to the Amulet, despite the fact that it was causing 4 negative levels to anyone (presumably non-evil) who was touching it.

  • #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rackhir
    I don't know if this will please or frighten you, but this is exactly the sort of suggestion that Shilsen is always making to us. He was even trying to tempt us to screw over the Hag with regards to the Amulet, despite the fact that it was causing 4 negative levels to anyone (presumably non-evil) who was touching it.
    I deny the accusation. The fact that I provided a couple of indications of how full of yummy goodness the amulet was has purely for flavor reasons. It has absolutely nothing to do with trying to get the PCs into even more trouble than they already are. Nothing, I tell you.

    P.S. The amulet actually messes up non-outsiders. So once Nameless has achieved apotheosis he can go back and kick Vraria's ass and take it. It's a minor artifact, BTW.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidekick
    <grabs popcorn and settles in>

    Ohhh I feel a big climactic battle coming up. I hop ethat the Angels do the job and stop the Rhakshassa's.

    or failing that all die trying with Gareth completeing that final smite beofre he falls into teh lake of fire and dies.

    That would be cinematic.

    A shame but a cinematic shame...
    Yes, I think it's safe to say there's a climactic fight coming up all right. And in all honesty, I don't know how this one will go. In all of the fights the PCs have had so far, including ones where they got beat down, I could generally predict which side would win. But this time, there are going to be enough elements in play (including a couple that the PCs don't know of) that I just don't know. Of course, with my action point rule, the PCs aren't likely to lose unless they all lose, but that just means it's likely to be an 'everyone survives' or TPK.

    Speaking of which, I'm going to be dropping action pts for this fight and doing something different. The one downside with the action pts the way I do it (rerolls are always an 11-20 on d20) is that a PC literally can't fail on one of their good saves if using an action pt. And with me allowing 2 action pts per session and usually having only 1-2 fights, they can invariably always choose to use one. While I don't like action pts to be used with no result, I don't want them to mean auto-success on saves either.

    So what I'm going to be doing is replacing them with swashbuckling cards. We use them in a game I'm in run by Rolzup (the author of Burne's Story Hour, in my sig) and they've worked very well. They're more random than action pts but can often be much more effective. And are usually funny as heck. They will also be able to prevent death, as the action pts do, but will be a little more cost-intensive in that area. I've been meaning to try them out in my game, and what better time than in a climactic fight where the fate of Khorvaire can be decided? It's not as if anything might go wrong
    Last edited by shilsen; Monday, 27th November, 2006 at 03:38 PM.
    shilsen is broken - Crothian (and this is why)

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    Quote Originally Posted by shilsen
    P.S. The amulet actually messes up non-outsiders. So once Nameless has achieved apotheosis he can go back and kick Vraria's ass and take it. It's a minor artifact, BTW.
    It had better be!!! An amulet that provides a continuous mind blank... Every PC I've ever played is drooling.

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