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Tuesday, 6th September, 2005, 10:07 PM #1051
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Ryltar
Friday, 9th September, 2005, 07:41 PM #1052
Of course Shemmy just delighted in slowly revealing that connection to me piece by agonizing piece. 'Loths; 'nuff said.
Friday, 9th September, 2005, 09:40 PM #1053
That was a great update to a fantastic stroy... Who doesn't love unkillable assasins. And Rakshasa's really don't come up often enough in my gaming experience - great to see!
I wanted to read Tristols diary - unfortunately, the link I had doesn't seem to be working. Would be cool if anyone could help with that?
Friday, 9th September, 2005, 10:44 PM #1054
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Lupinals, Rakshasas, Arcanaloths... when did we start playing Ironclaw?!?!Originally Posted by Inconsequenti-AL
Saturday, 10th September, 2005, 01:19 AM #1055
Originally Posted by Shemeska
I'm reading the 2nd story hour as well, but still playing catch up.
Saw you suggest a link to this WoTC thread in the general forums - that ripvanwormer guy had some really great stuff. Got a shiny bookmark for planning my next campaign!
Saturday, 10th September, 2005, 01:35 AM #1056
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by Inconsequenti-AL
And yes, Rip has some fraggin awesome stuff. I got the chance to have him in a game I ran at GenCon this year.
Saturday, 10th September, 2005, 02:04 AM #1057
Originally Posted by Shemeska
Sunday, 11th September, 2005, 06:26 PM #1058
Novice (Lvl 1)
Originally Posted by Inconsequenti-AL
Tuesday, 13th September, 2005, 12:13 AM #1059
Originally Posted by Tristol
Saw mention of it earlier in the thread and want to give it a read now I'm up to date with the story hours.
I'll try not to read further ahead than this has gone. But might fail my will save.
Damn that joke makes me feel cheap.
Saturday, 17th September, 2005, 07:50 AM #1060
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Familiar plane, different neighbors***
“Why do I have to carry the scaly b*tch?”
That was the first thing that Skalliska heard when she regained consciousness. Her hands were bound behind her back and she was inside a rough burlap sack hefted over the shoulder of the owner of that first voice.
She could hear her captors through the material of the bag, and it was the same group of men that had assaulted her in Sigil.
“Because you’re the strongest.” Came one voice.
“And the dumbest…” Another voice said, one that that obviously belonged to that damned quasit.
“Scrappletoe be quiet.” Came the voice of its master.
“Shut up or I’ll make bets against you in the Bottle and Jug on Baatezu night.”
That seemed to quell the demon more than a bit.
“Should’ve gotten a normal familiar. A rat, or even a little bird. But no…” The sorcerer’s complaints faded away as he seemed to mess with something.
The quasit bitched and moaned some more, but it was ignored as Skalliska listened more and tested out her bonds. They were tight, but not impossible to escape from.
“A tuft of fur from an animal killed by poison. Interesting portal key…”
Sh*t, they were leaving Sigil and going to who knew what plane. She was good as dead if they did. She couldn’t let them, and so Skalliska savagely fought against her bonds, struggling for a few brief seconds to get loose before she was knocked unconscious by a flurry of heavy punches. Had she managed to stay still for a few moments more she might have heard her captors discuss where they were going.
“Well missy, serves you right, but hell if I care. We get paid pretty much regardless of what condition you arrive in.” The ogre said as he looked into the bag and tightened her restraints.
Behind them the portal was open and glowing and the sorcerer gestured them through and out of Sigil.
“Gentlemen, welcome to Carceri.”
Everyone was looking at Nisha.
Well, they were after a few discordant minutes of violent cursing, some more futile attempts to scry her location, some time spent closing the inn and cleaning up the wreckage in the taproom, and the agreement among them all that they were going to immediately make any attempt needed to find the kobold.
Then they all looked to Nisha.
“What?” The Xaositect asked, pausing and glancing at everyone, wilting a bit under the sudden attention.
“So…” Florian said, looking at her.
“You’re our resident expert on the Hive.” Clueless said. “You know about this place in the Slags?”
“That second word there – Slags – not – Hive-.” Nisha said, putting the Factol Hashkar doll on her shoulder and going into lecture mode. “Very different.”
Kiro looked confused, both from being suddenly thrown into his current circumstances with people he barely knew, and from not having the slightest clue about what those people were talking about.
“What are the Slags? And what’s the Hive for that matter.” The cleric asked tentatively, very obviously out of his element and wholly new to Sigil.
“If you would Nisha.” Tristol said.
Nisha stuck her tongue out and hugged the Hashkar doll. Back on the shelf the Factol Karan doll looked sullen and dejected, wearing a comic pout on its face.
“Fine fine fine…” She said, launching into her explanation. “The Hive, where I grew up, it’s a giant slum, a shantytown, and altogether icky place with lots of easy marks.”
Toras raised an eyebrow.
“And by easy marks,” Nisha said smoothly. “I mean rich fiends who like to make donations to me to sooth their consciences.”
Clueless chuckled and the tiefling continued.
“Aaaaaand the Slags are a portion of the Hive that’s even worse.” She said. “But you’ll find that out shortly I suppose…”
“Nisha had, or rather still does have, at least one get away on the border between the Hive and the Slags.” Tristol said.
“Hey the land was cheap.” She said with a shrug. “And by cheap I mean nobody else is crazy enough to want it.”
“You make the place seem dangerous, not just run down… why?” Kiro asked.
“Random least Tanar’ri, vargouilles, undead, aaaaand cinnamon scented killing machines.” She said, saying the last part rapidly, glossing over it.
“What was that last one again?” Kiro asked.
“The Kadyx.” Nisha said.
“Which is?” The cleric prompted.
“Beats the hell out of me. No ones ever seen it… and lived…” Nisha said with a melodramatic shake of her hands and mock fright.
“Every so often people show up dead in weird and crazy ways, murdered with extreme irony, and people just blame this thing called the Kadyx.” Nisha explained. “It’s probably just a bunch of random murders and an urban legend built up over the centuries.”
“Well, we’ll not find out hopefully.” Tristol said as his ears drooped to either side.
“Yeah, it’s probably just an urban legend.” Nisha said before pausing. “Or it might be an unstoppable fiendish horror from the Abyss.”
They could only give a polite, nervous chuckle after that while Nisha detailed the route they would take, the preparations they would make, and what they expected to be waiting for them.
An hour later they were walking through Sigil’s urban wasteland known as the Slags. It was desolate, marked by dusty ashen soil, odd smells, centuries old rubble and the shells of collapsed and burned down buildings. The only signs of any life at all were scant numbers of insects, rats, tracks of some sort of fiend, some scattered bones of dubious origin, and a single cranium rat that watched them motionlessly from the edge of a ruined fountain, its exposed braincase glowing ominously.
But nothing attacked them or truthfully saw any need to make itself known as they followed Nisha through the remains of the Slags, the ugly scar upon Sigil left behind in the wake of its only known Blood War spillover. The War Eternal had touched even the City of Doors, and once so marked, the carnage had simply festered and the wound upon the Hive had been abandoned, never rebuilt and never resettled for a multitude of reasons.
“Grrrrr! I’m the Kadyx! Grrrrrr!” Nisha said as she took heavy, long stomping paces behind the others. “Run from my ironic gallows humor and fear my yummy cinnamon breath! Grrrrr!”
Kiro looked back at Nisha surreptitiously and then walked up closer to Clueless, motioning back to the tiefling.
“Is she, you know… all there?” He asked the bladesinger.
Florian snickered, overhearing Kiro’s question.
“In a word: no.” She said. “But she’s ours.”
Kiro just raised an eyebrow and glanced back at the Xaositect again.
“She’s there enough.” Clueless said. “She’s not the amnesiac.”
Kiro was left to ponder that as the bladesinger didn’t answer just who was.
“Grrrrr! I am the urban legend that smells like a pastry shop! Grrrr!” Nisha gave a few more emphatic stomps before devolving into a few minutes of giggles.
“She’s something alright.” The spindly cleric of Sutekh said with a chuckle.
By the time Nisha had stopped laughing at herself, and come to dryly hope that ‘I hope the real Kadyx doesn’t show up’, they had gotten deep into the Slags and in sight of the building that the Rakshasa had directed them to.
It had formerly been a temple of some sort, or perhaps a meeting hall for some organization. Regardless, it was now an empty shell of beige stone walls, open arches where doors had once stood, and a domed roof still covered over with blue ceramic tiles faded by the passage of years and the acrid Sigilian air.
There was no sign of recent usage, or any footprints in the dusty soil to indicate that anyone else had arrived. Unless they had flown or teleported, and they realized this as they tentatively approached the open doorway, gazing into the dimly illuminated interior.
Fyrehowl moved in first, and as she entered the empty interior of the building she saw only the age ravaged walls and floor, its once expansive mosaics worn down since its heyday, and there in the center of the room a fist sized, octagonal stone.
“Guys, there’s something like a sensory stone in here and nothing else.” She said as she floated above the floor, wanting to avoid any possible traps that had been lain in wait for them.
Fyrehowl approached the sensory stone and knelt to examine it.
“Weird.” She said. “There’s something else…”
There was a spark on its surface and she dropped dead.
Skalliska regained consciousness and blinked, trying not to move and alert her captors. They were slowing down, talking, stopping for some reason.
“That’s going to carry us all? You’re barmy.” One voice said, muffled as it was by the thick burlap of the bag Skalliska was in.
“Complain about it too much and I’ll dump you over the side.” Came another voice.
The ogre carrying her moved again and the ground seemed to shift, wobble, rock. There was the sound of lapping water. They were getting into a boat.
“Dump me in the water and you’ll have a knife between your ribs.”
“You can try.” The second voice said. “Who knows which parts of the swamp here are water and which parts are fed by a Styx tributary though.”
“Dip in the Styx’ll do you wonders…” The quasit. “Now shut up before you attract a ‘leth.”
Skalliska held silent and still as her captors boarded the skiff and pushed off from the shore. An hour or so passed before they began to talk again, presumably because they were getting close to the location of their employer, or somewhere safe from the normal natives of the plane. She’d managed to remain silent that entire time, slowly loosening her bonds and managing to get them to the point that with a quick burst of movement she’d be able to break free.
“So how much are we getting as a bonus do you suppose?”
“Hell if I know.”
“Don’t say hell… pissant little plane…”
“Tell your imp to shut up.”
There was a low snarl from the quasit and some curse in Abyssal.
“Insult my familiar and you insult me.”
“Then I’ll insult you. One stiff breeze and you’d snap in half.”
There was a sudden sizzling sound, a sharp cry, and a splash.
“Our bonus is proportionately larger now gentlemen.”
“All thanks to this little bitch in the end.”
The quasit leapt onto the sack Skalliska was in, rubbing itself against the burlap exterior.
“Tell Scrappletoe to please refrain from getting himself off on something I’m holding. You can’t kill me in one shot, not before I could kill you and him both…” The Ogre finally spoke.
The ragged breathing and obscene thrusting from the quasit ended abruptly. The fiend hissed some minor curse and decided to take out its frustration, sinking its teeth into Skalliska through the bag. The poison was quick and the kobold blacked out in short order.
Fyrehowl opened her eyes with Florian standing over her and whispering the last fading bits of a prayer to her deity. She’d been dead, snuffed out. The b*stard had left a symbol of death waiting for them along with his message.
“Son of a…” The lupinal snarled as she got to her feet. “Thank you Florian.”
“Not a problem, I understand that first part wasn’t said to me.” Florian replied. “I’m just damned glad I’d memorized that today. It’s not something I ever wanted to have to use.”
Fyrehowl gathered up the stone and glanced at it warily, half expecting another trap. The symbol engraved on the rock sparked and hissed as its dweomer faded and died. I had been just out of sight when they entered and set to trigger when they approached.
Snarling and breathing heavily, Fyrehowl activated its message.
Siddhartha’s voice rumbled out of the stone, echoing around the domed shell of the building, a petulant, mocking croon.
“Alas,” The Rakshasa said. “Sigil lost its charms to me many years ago, and so I’ve taken the pleasure of leaving for more comfortable regions. Do follow indeed.”
The Rakshasa, or its servitors, had left the stone there as a taunt, or as a death sentence if possible. Now that they stood within the center of the chamber they could see that the tile patterns upon the floor formed a bound space, presumably a portal to wherever the fiend was waiting for them; wherever it had Skalliska at his mercy.
“The stone is the portal key.” Tristol said as he glanced at both of them for a moment, whispering the words of a spell.
They nodded and drew their weapons. Each of them knew full well that there would be a likely ambush on the other side. The portal flickered a telling shade of scarlet and they emerged onto Colothys.
Siddhartha stood at the edge of a crumbling marble balcony, carved figures of petitioners and demons cavorting across surface in high relief: prisoners and torturers. Which one of them he felt more like at the moment was certainly up for discussion as a breeze smelling of rot and corpsethorn blossoms drifted up from the scarlet jungle lowlands below.
The updraft ruffled the long hem of his robe as he inhaled deeply from the Gehreleth bone pipe at his lips. He savored the taste for a few long seconds before his whiskers twitched in amusement; he felt the portal alarm in the jungle trigger. Seconds later he smiled as he then felt the pair of symbols of pain at the same location activate as well.
“A prelude.” He thought to himself. “A taste of what I have suffered because of your actions on the Astral.”
He turned and glanced over at one of his servants who stood in the doorway behind him, motioning for the tiefling to approach as he slowly exhaled a thin stream of smoke from his nostrils and from between the fangs in his mouth. The pungent tobacco swirled in tiny eddies, seeming to take the form of dozens of screaming faces caught in the currents of ash and hot breath.
“Prepare a full meal and a set of guest chambers for my guests.” He instructed in smooth, cultured tones that obscured the roiling hatred he felt. “They are competent and at least some of them are likely to survive to reach this place. Make them feel comfortable till I deal with them.”
“Yes my lord.” The tiefling replied with utmost obedience as she was dismissed. Somewhere, lingering in the back of her mind was a tiny fragment of free will weeping against the influence of the blackened symbol burnt into her left hand.
The Rakshasa snuffed his pipe and glanced out from the balcony where he stood. His eyes focused with a whisper of infernal and a wave of one paw. He saw his paid mercenaries approaching quickly by way of the boat left for their use; they were only a few miles away.
“The sooner you mortals arrive, the sooner I can be done with you and have some satisfaction. The sooner I have this episode in my penance complete, the sooner I’ll be out from under her yoke.”
He snarled with fury, tightened the silk rope around his waist and softly padded out of the room, the tip of his tail flicking side to side as he sought to calm himself. It would be worth the wait in the end.
They stepped out into the second layer of Carceri: Colothys the Scarlet Jungle. It was oppressively hot and the jungle surrounded them on all sides, growing up thick in all directions around the clearing they stood within. They could not see the sky through the roiling, snarled tangle of trees, vines and all manner of grotesque flowering plants. Bloodthorns, corpseblossoms, and even more esoteric varieties of deadly vegetation, they seemed to move and sway like cobras to the piping of a demonic jungle shaman, twitching on their own accord like they could smell the approach of bodies, soon to be corpses to feed their poisoned roots.
It should have been dark. After all, the jungle blocked out the sky. But the jungle was lit crimson, like it was painted with blood, not from the sky but leaking up hot and sickly from the ground like the flesh of the plane was hemorrhaging.
They warily glanced around, expecting at any moment for the jungle to come alive with rampaging beasts or psychotic Gehreleths. Their portal had been one way, and there was no evidence of a bound space or natural portal there in the clearing they had arrived in. But, as they adjusted to the bloody red corpse light of the plane, their eyes brushed over another glimmering rock, another message left for them to retrieve, and a pair of delicately placed symbols.
The pain came quickly and lingered till their vision was dotted with floating, wandering spots of alternating color and darkness. They lay on the ground with bodies jerking in agony as the Rakshasa’s dweomers engulfed them. Some of them managed to resist the immediate wave of pain, shrugging off the effects in a manner of seconds rather than minutes, but they could do little but watch the others jerk, spasm and scream, waiting for the spell’s effects to end.
“I’m getting tired of this a**hole.” Toras said as they all picked themselves off the ground, wincing at lingering traces of pain in limbs and joints where their muscles had pulled hard, nearly to seizure intensity.
The fighter didn’t notice that anything was amiss, he wouldn’t have by virtue of what he was, neither did Tristol or Fyrehowl for the same reasons. Clueless didn’t notice anything either, the gem in his ankle did that thanklessly, a side effect of the intentions of its original creator’s intended purposes for him. But as the pain of the Rakshasa’s symbols faded, the others still felt something amiss, and it was growing.
The air was thick with a stench of rot, a minute drizzle of pollen and sap that hung like a sickly mist, oppressive with the pungent, sharp tang of acid. Their eyes began to water within seconds, their faces grew flush, their breathing became more labored and stung with a taste like that of rancid vinegar on their tongues. Less than sixty seconds later their skin began to hiss, smoke and burn.
“Holy hell!” Florian shouted as the acidic air burned into her skin as well as Nisha’s, and caused a slow corrosion to creep over the clothing of several of the others.
Tristol leapt into action, calling to mind a simply protective dweomer to shield Nisha, Florian and Kiro from the very air of the layer they stood upon.
Kiro waved him off gently as he folded his hands and inaudibly whispered some manner of prayer to his own deity, invoking the same protection upon himself.
“Lovely place.” Fyrehowl said.
“Why can’t this b*stard be a normal Rakshasa and live in Acheron?” Toras complained. “At least then we wouldn’t end up ruining our clothes just by walking around.”
"Because he's an exile." Tristol said. "Him and his sister both. For whatever reason back on Acheron they no longer have house or title, and so here they are."
"Popular place for exiles, Carceri." Fyrehowl said with a roll of her eyes and a twitch of her nose. The smell was getting to her more than the others.
"Better here than one layer up..." Clueless said with a shudder that drew a curious stare from Kiro. He brushed it off and didn't elaborate.
Tristol finished casting his protective spells and brushed some of the acidic sap off of his robes as Florian complained about the environs to Toras.
“You worry about your clothes, I’ll worry about my skin and my lungs.” Florian said as she recovered from the brief exposure to the unmitigated fury of the scarlet jungle.
Nisha knelt down and picked up the rock on the ground, a modified sensory stone intended to broadcast its message in a wide area, not just the one person activating it. She made a feline hiss and acted like she was a tiger before smirking, twitching her tail and tapping the vessel of their welcoming message.
The stone contained a simple recorded voice message, polite on the surface but with an inflection of contempt. For the second time in a short period, Siddhartha’s voice washed out over them mockingly.
“Twelve miles to the north my children. Assuming… the jungles do not hamper your flight entirely too much, or the Gehreleths, or other creatures. But now, that would be the point of bringing you here would it not? To kill you most…deliciously?”
“Well,” Kiro said. “He’s certainly full of himself.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Florian said.
The cleric of Tempus poked an elbow into the ribs of the cleric of Sutekh with a grin.
“I’m starting to like you more and more.” She said.
Kiro just shrugged and gave a weak smile. “It seemed appropriate to say at the time. If I said something wrong, I…”
“Don’t worry.” Toras said. “None of us are going to dispute you on it.”
Fyrehowl rubbed her nose. “No way in hell we’ll know where we’re going in that jungle. Twelve miles of blind wandering, and I don’t have a clue which direction is north.”
“That’s the point I think.” Clueless said. “Tell us where he is, and then watch us fumble around getting ourselves killed trying to find the place.”
“Fits him.” Tristol said as he looked around.
“Go ahead scry boy.” Nisha said to the mage.
Tristol’s ear’s swiveled around towards where the tiefling sat looking at him. He shook his head as he took out a mirror and whispered the words of a scrying spell.
Several minutes passed as they waited for the aasimar to determine where they where heading. Eventually Tristol squinted, gave an odd expression, and sighed.
“There’s nothing there.” He said, throwing up his hands in frustration. “The whole area is blank. Wherever they have Skalliska, it’s warded the same way that they warded their operation in the Astral.”
“Lovely.” Fyrehowl said, pacing back and forth and twitching her nose amid the sickly sweet aroma of the flora of the Scarlet Jungle.
“There’s no way to break through the wardings or just concentrate and try to find some detail?” Florian asked.
“I can try, but I really doubt it.” Tristol replied.
“Wait,” Toras asked. “How big of an area are we talking about here that’s hidden from divinations?”
“Something like 200 square miles?” Tristol said. “That’s a wild guess though.”
The aasimar tried again at Florian’s suggestion, but eventually he gave up in disgust. It was honestly pointless. The power of the wardings was something that was clearly beyond his own ability to fracture, or even fully understand in the first place.
Clueless pondered something before reaching into a bag of holding at his waist.
“Hey,” The bladesinger said. “I’ve got an idea.”
Clueless held a crystal ball in his hand, blood red, bordering on crimson near the surface in tiny internal flaws and fissures. It was the crystal ball that they had taken from the arcanaloth, ‘Parphinias’ during their siege of the (decoy) tower in Elysium’s layer of Belarian.
Despite its unhealthy appearance, and its unholy origin, a tool was a tool. Plus, given that Tristol had not memorized any more scry spells for that day, Clueless figured that the object would serve his purposes nicely.
“Didn’t you get that from that arcanaloth we killed?” Fyrehowl asked.
“Yeah, the one that disintegrated Skalliska.” Clueless replied.
“Points for the irony.” Nisha said, looking over from where she was picking flowers.
“So why the scry globe?” Tristol asked. “I already tried to scry where she was, and the whole area is warded against it.”
“Exactly.” Clueless said as he flicked his wings and began to ascend up above canopy of the jungle.
“That doesn’t answer my question!” The aasimar shouted up at the bladesinger.
“I’m not scrying on Skalliska. I’m not even looking for her at all. I’m looking for where she is or where she’d have been taken.” Clueless shouted down. “Wherever the warding is coming from, that’s likely where she is, and where the Rakshasa is too. I’m looking to see what parts of the jungle are warded and which aren’t.”
Tristol thought for a moment before realizing the tactic.
“Look for the boundaries of the wards and then head for the center.” He said. “And with the globe you don’t have to keep casting the spell over and over.”
“Sutekh approves.” Kiro said as he gently kicked at a vine that was creeping out of the undergrowth and moving towards where Nisha was picking its blossoms.
High above them, Clueless went about his task without difficulty, activating the powers of the scry globe. He spent the next fifteen minutes roughly plotting the boundaries of the warded region of the jungle, noting that it seemed to be centered upon a thickly forested plateau that rose up over the jungle perhaps twenty miles from their current location. To reach it, they would have to traverse the jungle, though several miles ahead the scarlet landscape seemed to change, giving them two alternate routes of travel. Towards the west it seemed to descend into a waterlogged lowland swamp, while to the east it opened up as the jungle receded before a strangely placid looking grassland.
“Alright,” Clueless said as he shifted his wings. The bladesinger drifted down on the pungent currents of air swirling over the jungle that smelled of rot, blood, and aromatic pollen, touching down next to where his companions stood casting wary glances at the unbroachable depths of the undergrowth.
“About twenty miles from here is where the wardings seem to be centered, though it does shift a little bit and isn’t perfectly symmetrical.” Clueless continued. “That’s also where the land rises up into a nice vantage point.”
They all nodded.
“So then, let’s go.” Florian said. “I want a new rug for the inn before the end of the day.”
And so, without complaint or any further ado they began to make their way into the depths of the jungle, heading northwards towards where the Rakshasa was waiting for them.
Were that it was that simple however…
As they vanished into the rancid jungles Clueless put away his scry globe and thought nothing else of it. But something had. Something sparked and awoke in the bladesinger’s mind, germinating and taking root without the bladesinger being any the wiser. Two planes of existence distant, something watched with absolute amusement in the brief moments of time that it had to spare to such frivolities.
Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 17th September, 2005 at 02:28 PM.
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