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Wednesday, 7th December, 2005, 09:33 PM #1151
Novice (Lvl 1)
you're both wrong, tristol's diary had lotsa spoilers
Friday, 9th December, 2005, 01:35 PM #1152
Just wow! What an update...
Thanks very much for all the effort you put into these two stories!
Sunday, 11th December, 2005, 12:44 AM #1153
*waits in suspense*
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 12:54 AM #1154
Novice (Lvl 1)
Nooo, need update!
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 01:06 AM #1155
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Writing it at this very moment. It ran away from me, so it's about twenty pages right now, which would be making it one of the longest updates I've had so far.
I'll post it when it's finished.
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 01:16 AM #1156
*laughs with maniacal glee*
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 03:46 AM #1157
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Cliffhangers and a moment of supreme DM rat bastardry.
“Oh Cyric’s scrawny *ss…” Florian said with a look of disgust. “That smells wretched down there.”
Fyrehowl gave a high-pitched involuntary whine as she stood looking down into the darkness. The stench was heavy and wet, something that had permeated the air of its source for some time, and something that was still present, not simply an old scent lingering on the air.
“Why couldn’t they just have just stayed with incense, gaudy flowers and bad art for their basement?” Nisha asked.
“Make room for the bad poetry?” Clueless asked with a smirk.
“Yeah, something like that’s around here somewhere.” Tristol said. “But this smells a bit different, and more like a working laboratory.”
“Laboratory?” Toras asked.
“Back in Halruaa.” The aasimar said. “Necromancers and some transmuters had workshops where they’d work with corpses. And this smells almost like those.”
“Remind me never to visit your home…” Nisha said, sticking her tongue out.
“It’s not all like that.” Tristol replied. “It’s usually much more pretentious.”
Kiro chuckled and stepped past Fyrehowl onto the stairs.
“There’s a single hallway down here.” He called up from below. “It’s dark, but that’s about it. No traps.”
There was a distinct pause from below.
“No –obvious- traps at least.”
Florian looked down the stairs before turning back to the others.
“He’s a cleric.” She said. “Go help him Nisha.”
Nisha nodded and followed along after Kiro, but, true to the cleric of Sutekh’s word, there was no evidence of traps or wards as they walked down the corridor towards the doorway at its far end. But there was something, though it was momentary.
Kiro spun around, looking for something behind them in the hallway.
“What was that?” Nisha asked him.
“Nothing.” He replied. “I thought that I’d heard something. Nothing there though.”
He hadn’t heard much of anything actually. But back in the darkness he could have sworn that he’d seen the stone ripple like so much open, standing water. And what was more, he’d been certain that the stone had rippled with the waves of something passing under its surface, cresting above the surface of the floor like a stone diving sea serpent before once again slipping back below the level of the corridor.
Kiro could only shrug. Whatever it was, it was gone and there was no sign of it reappearing as he watched. Still though, it was unnerving, and periodically he looked back to see if it was following them. But as they reached the end of the hallway, there was nothing there, and so he and Nisha called up to the others that the coast was clear.
Once they had gathered at the end of the hallway, they stepped into the chamber at its end. It was fairly small, and a closed door stood directly opposite from them as they entered. But that wasn’t all in the chamber. There were four alcoves inset within the wall, set in positions impossible to have seen before entering the room.
And, just as their maker had intended, flickering pinpoints of light erupted into being underneath the visors of each of the four elaborate suits of armor standing in each of the alcoves as beings other than himself passed under their gaze.
“Ah sh*t.” Florian said.
One of the baroque suits of animated armor flared with internal light as it raised a crossbow, firing a bolt of flame at Toras, striking the fighter in the side. The others raised melee weapons: an ice shrouded mace, a sword dripping acid, and a metal club sheathed in sparks and flashes of electricity.
Tristol acted first, turning one of the helmed horrors into a pile of dust outright with a disintegrate spell.
Meanwhile, Clueless was dodging a series of blow from one of the others, making it seem slow by comparison.
“Oh… you will regret that…” Toras said, raising his sword and ignoring his injury as best he could as he charged one of the constructs seeking to flank Clueless.
Moments later, thee of the constructs were destroyed and the one holding only a flaming crossbow was looking at them, seeming to waver between firing at them or giving up. When Clueless put his hand out, prepared to cast a spell, the construct dropped its weapon onto the floor and stepped back up into its original position.
“Well, that looks like it was the extent of the security.” Fyrehowl said, giving a hard glance at the single quiescent Helmed Horror.
The last guardian gave no reply, and remained still and inactive. Whatever limited self awareness its maker had granted it, it was apparently enough to make it realize that it was incapable of putting forward any effective opposition if it wished to remain alive.
Toras and Florian both kept looking at the helmed horror regardless though, even as the door was opened and the stepped into the chamber beyond.
“Looks more like a prison.” Clueless said with some discomfort.
The chamber was relatively spartan, resembling a cellblock more than a laboratory. There were six doors leading off from the room: three on the north side, two on the south side, and one larger doorway across from the entrance.
“Prison?” Kiro asked as he examined the two south doors. “Not quite.”
The cleric exhaled onto the glass window set into one of the southerly doors. The vapor in his breath spread across the surface, freezing almost instantly into a spider web pattern of frost.
“What the…” Fyrehowl said.
The lupinal walked across the room and stood next to Kiro, looking through the window of first door and then the other. Both doors were metal and both were frigidly cold to the touch.
“Not quite a prison.” Fyrehowl said. “Specimen storage. Frozen.”
Indeed, looking through the windows set into each door, they could see two small holding cells. The walls were caked in frost, and a single slumped corpse was positioned in the center of the floor, unceremoniously dumped there after they had apparently expired during torture or experimentation.
Inside the first of the frozen chambers was a naked human. His flesh was bleached and blue-white from the exposure to the cold, but it was evident that he had died long before he had been frozen. The body showed evidence of surgical scars and burns, and a caustic burn across its neck, but there was no evidence of the typical signs of frost burn and tissue death from exposure to freezing temperatures while the victim had still been alive.
“Poor sod.” Fyrehowl said with a sigh. “Got to wonder what he did to get on the fiend’s bad side.”
“Does he need an excuse?” Kiro asked. “It seems like he feels entitled, and anything not judged to be of a similar standing in power, wealth, or race is simply a subject to do with as he pleases. Whoever this guy was, Siddhartha didn’t perceive him as a person, just a subject for experimentation.”
Clueless frowned and looked at the other doors. It was likely that some of them contained living subjects.
The next chamber also contained a body, but one that was anything but human.
“What… what is that thing?” Fyrehowl mused, peering through the frost-dusted glass. “An Alu-Fiend?”
Slumped in the center of the chamber was a slim, lithe form with angular features, pointed ears, and a set of leathery, bat-like wings sprouting from her shoulders.
“Possibly.” Kiro said, peering at the corpse. “It’s odd to see a half-fiend based on mortal blood other than human, but Tanar’ri aren’t particularly selective I suppose.”
The elven half-fiend was marked in a similar way as the dead human one cell over. Surgical scars dotted her chest and abdomen, and from bruises on the inside of one arm, and blue-black tract marks across the other suggested that she had been repeatedly bled and infused with some substance or chemical mixture. Either way, she hadn’t survived it obviously.
“Not an alu-fiend.” Tristol said. “It’s a fey-ri.”
“Not one of my relatives for sure.” Clueless said, giving a skeptical look to first Tristol and then the corpse in the cell.
“Fey-ri. Not Faerie. Not fey at all.” Tristol replied. “It’s a specific sort of Tanar’ri blooded half-fiend gold elf. The name refers to half-fiend gold elves of a specific elven family that was largely killed off centuries ago on Toril. But she fits the bill: half fiend gold elf.”
“Ugly and evil.” Florian said. “Still didn’t deserve whatever seems to have happened to her though.”
“Nothing we can do for them now.” Toras said. “They’re too mangled to easily raise from the dead. And let’s be honest, we don’t know anything about them, so it might not be a wise idea to randomly bring them back.”
“No objections from me.” Skalliska said as she walked over towards one of the doors on the opposite wall.
The kobold wandered across to one of the doors and touched it tentatively, then the next, and then the next. She didn’t bother checking for traps or wards. After all, this was the fiend’s private workshop and laboratory as far as they could tell, or an antechamber to it, and it would have only been a hindrance to trap things that he might conceivably be using on frequent occasion.
“None of them are cold.” She said, turning to the others.
“None of them are unlocked either.” Clueless said as he tried the handle of the first door.
“Anyone inside them?” Nisha asked.
Clueless looked into the chamber through the glass plate and jerked back as a poorly dressed human banged at the door from the inside.
“Help me! You’ve got to help me!” The man screamed, his voice muffled by the thick door.
“Woah!” Clueless said, moving back a few feet.
The banging on the door stopped as the battered looking human looked at his potential saviors through the glass.
“Who are you?” Florian asked.
The man’s eyes twitched and quivered with nervous exuberance.
“Please! You’ve got to let me go before the fiend returns! He’ll going to…”
“Tell us who you are.” Florian said, cutting the man off. “We won’t let you go unless we trust you, and don’t think that you’ll be dangerous to us.”
The man tried to calm himself enough to answer.
“I’m a mercenary. The Rakshasa hired me to hunt someone down, several people actually, several months ago. We only managed to find some, but not all of them. He refused to pay us, and when we demanded partial payment, he killed some of us and imprisoned the rest of us here.”
“Hmm.” Florian said, glancing at the man.
True enough, he had the build for mercenary work, if a bit thinner from lack of food, and his clothing was correct for someone who would have worn armor atop it. Plus, the story fit perfectly with what they had come to expect from Siddhartha.
“Anyone object?” Florian asked her companions.
No one could find any real reason to say otherwise, and so Nisha picked the lock and they released the cell’s occupant. He shouted with glee as the door opened, and moved to embrace the first person he could, presumptively to hug them and thank them.
Kiro deftly stepped up and in between the released prisoner and Florian. The moment the man hugged Kiro, Kiro’s voice echoed in his head.
“Please leave now and do not attempt to touch any of these people here. As a greater doppelganger, you could do too much harm if you did.”
The man they had released stiffened slightly as he hugged Kiro, but was still smiling to the others, still crying with happiness at his release from captivity.
“Who are you?” The ‘man’ asked Kiro, projecting his own telepathic voice.
Kiro released him and answered calmly, still in his head.
“You’re free. Go about your way. I don’t have any say or stake in what you do after you leave this room. That’s entirely irrelevant to me, and that’s all you need to know. Smile at us now and be on your way.”
“Thank you all.” The released man said to them. “I can’t thank you enough. Do you have a spare blade I can use? I’ll need it in the jungle if I try to make my way back to the portal I came here though.”
He didn’t show outwardly any indication of his and Kiro’s mental discussion.
“Back down the corridor you’ll find some weapons on the floor left over from some of the guardians we took care of.” Toras said.
The man smiled and bowed.
“Thank you. Bless you all.”
He turned to leave, only looking back once to smile for one last time before leaving. In that moment though, minds touched one last time, first from the doppelganger and then Kiro’s response.
“We will not meet again. Nor would you recognize me if we did.”
“Indeed. And some might not recognize you, but you wouldn’t so much as even see me.”
“Well, there’s one good deed to our names.” Nisha said, beaming a cheerful smile around the room which Kiro made a point of returning equally.
“It’s a start.” Fyrehowl said. “I still feel guilty over the meal earlier.”
“Uggg, you had to mention that.” Florian said, looking a bit sick. “Especially with how much this place smells.”
“In any event, we’ve got two more doors.” Clueless said. “Nisha? Would you mind picking the lock to this one?”
Nisha nodded and picked the lock without complaint. Unlike the last door though, the second door, and the third as well, did not contain windows into the rooms beyond them. Unable to have any advance warning of what might be lurking within, they had their weapons out and ready as the door was swung open.
Nothing lunged out at them, much to their relief, and they peered into the chamber beyond.
Large and spherical, it was significantly larger than the first cell, and from the edge of the chamber where it met the door, extending several feet into the room were delicately inscribed warding sigils, all pointed inwards. The chamber was intended to keep and contain something, and that thing was immediately obvious.
“Uhh… close the door?” Florian blurted out as she looked into the chamber. “Now?”
A fleshy orb, roughly eight feet across hovered in the center of the wardings. At first they suspected it to be a beholder or some manner of beholder-kin, but it deviated from them in several ways. It had no central eye, nor did it have a mouth on its body. Rather, numerous eyes dotted its leathery body at random, and a number of thick tentacles extended out from its flesh as well. Some of those tentacles ended in eyes, some in fanged, almost reptilian mouths, and some were simply shaped for use in grappling objects.
“Holy hell what was that?!” Skalliska blurted out.
“He’s got a bloody Deepspawn.” Florian said.
“Which is what?” Clueless asked. “I’m not familiar with them, outside of having heard the name, and now apparently having seen one.”
“Bad things. Very bad, very hungry things.” Florian said, putting her foot at the base of the door, like it might help keep the thing contained in its cell, should its wardings fail.
“They eat people.” Tristol said.
“Like Skalliska if she was hungry and desperate enough?” Nisha asked.
Skalliska didn’t object. She just shrugged.
“They eat people and then can spit out copies of them after a day or so.” Florian explained. “Those copies have memories of the original person, and even skills, and they’re under the control of the Deepspawn.”
“It’s a monster factory basically.” Tristol said.
“Hmm.” Fyrehowl mused. “Well we know now where Siddhartha might be getting replacements for experiments he does.”
“So…” Skalliska said. “What do you suggest we do with it?”
“Well…” Toras began.
“How about we don’t?” Florian said, cutting Toras off abruptly.
“Why?” Fyrehowl replied. “If we end up leaving after killing Siddhartha, we’re just going to be condemning this thing to death by starvation. That doesn’t exactly leave me feeling good about myself, dangerous creature or not.”
“Is it intelligent?” Toras asked.
“Uh…why are we worried about letting it loose here in Carceri anyways?” Nisha asked. “It’s like letting a slaadi lose in Mechanus. Brief, but incredibly fun.”
Florian paused and held up one hand.
“Ok. Point.” She said. “Let’s at least see what it has to say then.”
The door swung back open to reveal the Deepspawn hovering much closer than it had originally been. It now hovered at the very edge of its magical prison; it had been listening to them talk about it.
Several of the aberration’s eyes swiveled and dilated, focusing on Florian, Fyrehowl and Clueless as they stepped into the room. From the doorway, Kiro peered in to watch.
“Who are you?” one of the Deepspawn’s vaguely draconic mouths said in a surprisingly glib tone.
Florian glanced back at the others before responding.
“First, tell us who you are, and what you’re doing here.” She said.
Several eyes the size of plates all turned to focus on her. The creature’s tentacles wriggled and two of them rubbed against one another, some form of bizarre nervous affectation like it was pondering the situation and how to properly answer.
“My name is Furnacefang.” The deepspawn replied. “I feed, I learn, I answer questions to he who feeds me, and I provide to him copies of those I am fed. My life is relatively simple. If I obey I am fed and I am spared the treatment given to those others within this place.”
“How long have you been here?” Clueless asked.
“Since the memories of my first feeding flooded my mind.” The creature replied, speaking in tandem through both of its tentacles sporting functional mouths. “… a considerable time. Roughly a century.”
“Why does your master feed creatures to you?” Fyrehowl asked.
“To keep me alive.” Furnacefang stated bluntly. “But that is secondary for him. He uses me to punish prisoners, to dispose of failed experiments, and to produce more subjects for his work.”
“And you enjoy this I take it?” Florian asked.
“It is what I am.” Furnacefang replied with an idle shrug of its left mouth and several more of its other tentacles.
“You are uncertain of what to do with me.” The deepspawn continued. “I would greatly prefer to be released from my prison cell in this place. I have everything I require, but nothing more. Understandably, my existence is a rather sterile one.”
One of Furnacefang’s mouths gave an audible sigh and several of its eyes allowed their lids to droop.
“One moment please.” Florian said, motioning the others outside of the deepspawn’s cell with her.
“I don’t mind letting it go.” Fyrehowl said. “It can’t do much more than devour fiends here, and it’s unlikely that it’ll do much more harm than that. It was imprisoned here intentionally, so some of the odd effects of Carceri might apply to it, with gates not functioning properly for it if it attempts to leave the plane.”
“I don’t trust it completely.” Florian said. “But that’s just my experience with them from back in Amn. Clueless?”
“I say we wait till we’re done looking around.” He replied. “Then we let it out once it’s safe to do so. It can’t do much harm out in the jungle.”
Florian nodded and stepped back into the room with the deepspawn.
“Have you come to some agreement?” Furnacefang asked, tilting its fanged mouths to one side in a strange approximation of how certain mundane animals expressed a questioning attitude.
“Umm…” Florian said. “Lets just say that we’ll release you. But only after we’re finished exploring the full extent of this place, once we’ve killed the fiend who keeps you here, and after we’ve broken the wardings on this place.”
Furnacefang hissed softly. It had been hoping for something more immediate, and two of its jawed tentacles undulated slowly in deliberation.
“If the wardings are broken on this place I can release myself.” The Deepspawn said slowly, speaking with one mouth while the other gnawed at the air. “The walls are simple stone, even if magically molded into their desired shape. The wards on this room are linked to the larger ones that extend over this entire palace. Break them, and I can handle myself.”
“And you will not harm us if we do so?” Florian asked.
“I have no need to do so.” It replied.
Kiro peered at the bloated aberration as if he was judging its trustworthiness. He shrugged and nodded in agreement to Florian.
“Fine.” Florian said. “When we’re finished here, we’ll break the wards and you’re free to go, so long as you don’t interfere with us, or anything that we’re doing here.”
“Agreed.” Furnacefang replied. “From what I know, gleaning from the memories of my food, the wardings for this place are contained behind a heavy, sealed door located in the laboratory that joins the room outside of my cell here. The door is likely protected by traps, though I do not know what sort.”
They nodded to the tentacle and eye studded creature before leaving and closing the door behind them.
“Well, we know what’s through one of these doors now at least.” Clueless said.
“How about the last cell though first?” Florian asked. “Hopefully it’s something a bit more mundane.”
“Maybe.” Clueless said. “But you’re right. It’s best to know what all the fiend has bottled up in here before we go in further.
Florian walked to the last cell door and giggled the handle. It was solidly locked.
“Nisha, if you could get the door?” Clueless asked.
“Deepspawn…” Florian said with a shudder.
Nisha unlocked the door and stepped aside, giving the door a tug and swinging it open.
What they saw inside, bloody and suspended in a column of light, made the deepspawn mundane by comparison.
The fiend hovered several inches above the ground, unburdened by the constant downward tug of gravity. In that tiny way at least, the Astral plane had something to offer him. Siddhartha’s robes dangled and drifted in the wind, really psionic currents of thought manifesting themselves as pressure or force in the silvery void. And out into the endless empty expanse of the void was where he was currently looking, staring out at nothing in particular as he stood on a balcony of the tower where he’d been summoned.
It was hers, her primary residence during their collaborative work upon the Astral, though he suspected that she kept at least one or two demiplanes accessible from her personal chamber which now stood at his back. He deeply wished to examine the room for evidence of such, to say nothing of simply being allowed to observe and learn from the patterns of magic that she had embedded into the tower’s structure to shield it from detection. That same magic, or some variant of it, also managed to shield the tower from the full force of the continent sized astral storm that seemed to perpetually rotate around the godisle down below where the structure’s foundations sunk deep, wisely or not.
The storm wasn’t natural; it was too large and too powerful to be. Yethmiil also suspected that it was her magic that kept the storm anchored in place, swirling around them and hiding their activities from the Githyanki, and most of all, from the Guardian. All other potential concerns paled in comparison to that entity.
Of course, he was seemingly relegated to a secondary role in it all, especially after his failure on one of the secondary godisles they had been stripping and mining. Of course, that godisle was far from the region surrounding her tower, its godisle and the storm surrounding it. The storm overlapped another eight islands of stone and forgotten faith, all of which were similarly shielded, and all of which ultimately would be of use to them.
“So why did you call me here?” Yethmiil asked without turning around.
She was there behind him, he’d sensed her approach, felt her eyes upon his back. In the purity of the Astral, he could even sense something palpable on the air from the very nearly living magic and dozens of contingent spells effectively painted on her person. Extravagance suited her.
“Because I can. Because you must obey.” She whispered back with a chuckle. “Do I need any other reason?”
“No.” He replied. “But outside of simply displaying your power, why did you take me away from my own affairs? I was busy.”
“You were amusing your own petty interests. They can wait.” She said, seemingly without regard for his own personal exploits.
“As you wish.” He said.
“My interests take precedence.” She continued, matter-of-factly. “And already you’ve been made aware of the price of failing achieve what portion of them I hand over to you. Or do you forget that exquisite intimacy?”
He didn’t give a reply. But none was really needed.
She stepped forward and out onto the balcony, dragging a claw across his shoulder as she passed him and spread her hands across the railing. She disgusted him at the very same time that he envied her and appreciated her power, probably the closest equivalent thing to feeling lust that he possessed.
“Ghyris Vast has outlived his usefulness.” She said, looking up and out into the tumult of the storm where the distant magical envelopes visible under her sight could be seen surrounding the other godisles she had claimed, much like holes punched in the silver sky.
“Oh?” He asked, honestly curious what she had done with the Bleaker.
“For the moment.” She replied with some idle satisfaction. “But in the event that I need him in the future I haven’t killed him, which was tempting. Idiot insane mortal. He’s brilliant for his kind, but it was a task getting him to focus enough to teach me what his research had shown, and how to construct the bloody thing. I ended up simply stripping his memories from him moment by moment. Immortality does not imply patience.”
“As you’ve made patently clear Mistress.” Yethmiil said rather bluntly.
Rather than take offense though, she laughed.
“Indeed I have, and you will never be in a position to know otherwise. But outside of my ability to pull your strings and make you dance in a puppet show for beings even more marionettes than yourself, I have something else for you to do when you are ready.”
He inclined his head curiously, letting her insults and pretensions pass.
“I want you to be ready to assume control of a cessation of our activities at several outlaying godisles in the next month. When the goblins and the gith are done there, you will handle the deconstruction of the towers and the stripping of any evidence to tie the two of us to the defiling of the unlamented dead. Cast the blame on Gith’s wretched mortal progeny, and if we’re lucky, Vlaakith can face the Guardian’s wrath in place of us, and perhaps even in place of her own renegades working in our name.”
He nodded silently.
“Give me the additional forces needed to ensure that there are no witnesses left alive when we cleanse them godisles of evidence.”
“You will have what you need.” She said, smiling a mouthful of fangs up at the void.
“Good.” He replied. “Then allow me to return to Carceri and finish cleaning up things of my own there.”
She shrugged and gave a dismissive wave of her hand. It wasn’t much of an answer, but it was all he needed as he strode back out of her chamber.
The figure suspended in a column of pale red light was a Farastu Gehreleth, and though it was horribly bruised, burned, and covered in both recent marks of torture and old surgical scars, it was alive. Slowly its fatigued and bruised ribcage expanded to draw in a ragged breath, exhaling it with equal labor a moment later. The creature hung onto life out of what seemed to be spite, something that its kind possessed in spades.
The light that suspended the fiend above the ground stretched from floor to ceiling between two rune scribed disks, while on a table just out of its reach, had it been free to move its arms outside of the light, sat a tray of various implements of surgery and torture.
Next to the tools of its tormentor hovered an orange crystal that sparkled with magic of unknown purpose. And then, there was the open book of notes and observations, all penned in the familiar hand of the Rakshasa. The book noted with a dispassionate medical style of observation the ‘subject’s’ tolerance to pain, its immunities to certain mind probing spells and psionic effects, and anything that it might have said during periods of excruciating pain or duress. The notes treated the fiend as chattel rather than a living being.
But what was perhaps most noteworthy, outside of the gehreleth itself, was that it lacked the obsidian triangle that was the prized birthright of each and every member of its race. That triangle was its link into its racial collective memory, and the link of its deity and creator into its mind. But there, on the other side of the room, a triangle of cold, black volcanic glass was held suspended from a chain within a localized antimagic bubble.
The gehreleth had been cut off from its race and its creator, made to be alone, truly alone, for the first time in its existence, and then taunted with the damningly close proximity to torture it even more. Perhaps Siddhartha had intended to attempt to draw information from the triangle’s link to Apomps, the deity/creator of the Gehreleth race. After all, with his palace situated in the jungles of Cathrys, surrounded by an unknown number of Gehreleths lurking in the depths of that scarlet hell of nauseating flora, he might have considered it a worthwhile attempt to tap into their racial memory if only to warn himself of any attack by others of their kind on his home.
Meanwhile, as they examined the chamber’s macabre contents, the ‘leth’s eyes were rolled back in its head, and two diamond shaped bumps surrounded by discolored scar tissue stood out against the slick brown and gray flesh of its head: the hallmarks of healed trepanation. It had been through horrors in that chamber that they could scarcely imagine.
The fiend groaned and coughed as it sensed them enter the room, spewing fine droplets of tar and bloody phlegm into the air and onto the floor directly in front of where it was suspended.
“He knows you Yethmiil.” It softly crooned, rage having long ago given way to wishful thinking and a complete disregard for its own chances of escape. “He knows you. He knows you well. The Three Faced Lord will torment you far more than you ever could I.”
Fyrehowl looked over to Clueless, and then to the others. Yethmiil? The name was new to them. And it was obvious that the fiend, in its depression and torture borne incoherence, had assumed that they were someone else entirely when they had entered its cell.
The gehreleth mumbled incoherently to itself for several moments before stopping and suddenly sniffing at the air. It gave a confused wrinkle of the fleshy ridges above its eyes, realizing that ‘Yethmiil’ whoever that was, was not the person who had entered its cell.
Fyrehowl was standing in front of the ‘leth when its eyes shot open with sudden ferocity, pupils constricting as its rheumy eyes focused on her.
“Who are you?” It croaked. “You are not Yethmiil. Nor do you wear his mark.”
“The Rakshasa you mean?” Fyrehowl asked, not flinching as the fiend glared at her with a fluid mixture of arrogant, implicit hatred of what she was, and almost pitiful levels of hope.
The gehreleth tilted its head to one side for a moment before answering.
“I/We knew him as Yethmiil. He may go by other names.”
“Lord Siddhartha.” Clueless answered the fiend. “That was what he called himself.”
The ‘leth snarled at the mention of the name. An almost unfathomable well of hatred was boiling beneath its skin as they watched it. The creature was struggling to contain it in order to have rational communication with them.
“What can you tell us about him?” Fyrehowl asked.
The ‘leth’s eyes turned towards the triangle across the room.
“Give me the triangle.” It said.
“Answer our questions.” Florian retorted.
The fiend turned to look at the cleric.
“Give. Me. The. Triangle.” It repeated slowly and tensely.
“What does it mean to you?” Toras asked.
“EVERYTHING!” The fiend screamed. It was shaking, trembling, losing self-control.
“I am alone…” The fiend whispered. “This…you cannot fathom this feeling. You cannot know what this means.”
The fiend was drooling and its eyes were glistening at the edges.
“I cannot hear Him.” It whimpered. “We are vessels for Him, and I have been emptied, made nothing, devoid of His whispers, His caress, His love. Everything that I am and was made to be has been stripped away from me. I have nothing left to give for I am nothing without that.”
The gehreleth hung like a rag doll in its suspending column of force, defeated, broken, begging for the only object that meant anything to it.
“Please…” The fiend continued, looking up at them, drops of watery tar dripping from the corners of its eyes. “Give it to me. I BEG OF YOU!”
“I don’t know…” Fyrehowl said. “We can’t trust you.”
“You come to kill my tormentor? We have something in common then.” It whimpered. “Please…”
The ‘leth hung its head and ignored them, not caring what they had to say to it. It didn’t matter, because unless they provided it with its link to Apomps, they could rot for all eternity. It continued to ignore them until it felt the weight of a metal chain around its neck, and something erupted within its mind, flooding its senses.
“I hope we don’t regret this…” Fyrehowl said.
The moment the gehreleth touched the obsidian triangle, its eyes went wide and it clutched the triangle with obscene, religious ecstasy. In fact, its entire body seemed to undergo a ferocious seizure before it began to whisper to itself, having a dialogue with a being that wasn’t present in the room.
“…yes… we shall… no… as you wish father/mother… I will…” The Gehreleth clutched the triangle and looked up at its would-be saviors. “No, they do not know.”
“Umm…?” Clueless said warily as the fiend smiled up at them and something happened.
As the ‘leth looked at them, for a single moment they watched as its eyes turned a solid, glossy black, and they had the sensation that something powerful, something terrible, was staring back at them –through- the fiend. It smiled, and then as it blinked, its eyes returned to normal.
“I/We will help you.”
Kiro stepped back into the room. It seemed that he’d stepped out for a moment when they had been deliberating about giving the fiend back its link to its deity.
“Alright. Talk to us then.” Tristol said, though Fyrehowl and Florian remained skeptical.
“I/We will give you what aid I/We can. Revenge for all these petty tortures. I/We do not forgive. Not anything. And your adversaries deserve torment more than most.”
The fiend’s earlier expression of weariness and depression was gone, replaced with utter and complete resolve.
“Why should we trust you?” Kiro asked. “Why do you hate them? Any specific reasons?”
“Does it matter?” The gehreleth asked, looking at the cleric awkwardly for a moment, a look of suspicion in its eyes, but it shook it off and continued. “I/We offer to you aid and information and ask nothing in return but that you break the wards concealing this place from the rest of myself/ourselves.”
The ‘leth motioned emphatically to its scars, bruises and even more graphic hallmarks of the tortures that it had been subjected to.
“This is the only reason that you need to know.” It hissed.
“So what can you do for us?” Clueless asked.
“Break the wards and we will raze this place to nothing but blood and scarlet glowing rubble under the void.” It replied. “But that it only momentary satisfaction for petty crimes against myself/ourselves. We can help you more, later.”
“How so?” Skalliska asked.
“Xideous. Xideous will help you. Return to Sigil and my/his/our eyes and hands will bring you to where he is. Xideous is one of our greatest, and you have earned a debt which he will repay for you when the time is right.”
“Where is he in Sigil?” Kiro asked, openly curious.
“That I will not say.” The gehreleth replied firmly. “Xideous has important work, and his/our enemies would slay him in an instant. He will find you and bring you to where he is hidden when the time is right.”
“Now go and find Yethmiil, Siddhartha, whatever name he calls himself presently. Slaughter him, cut out of his bleeding heart and feast upon it while he still lives. Take revenge for what he has done and what he is. He does not deserve to live upon this most blessed soil of the Father/Mother. His essence sullies it.”
They left then as the fiend began to once more whisper to itself, or the triangle around its neck, ignoring them entirely. The experience left them with the impression though, than the Rakshasa was involved in larger things than they had yet fully come to witness and understand the importance of. And so, with that in mind, they opened to door to his laboratory, hoping to find some further answers to the questions raised in the back of their minds by the fiend’s gehreleth prisoner.
What they had seen in the holding cells could not have prepared them for the horrors that sprawled out in front of them as they stepped into the fiend’s perverse laboratory. Dozens of bodies lay chained to slabs and workbenches that filled most of the floorspace in the chamber, while others were suspended, either living or preserved in death, within tanks of bubbling alchemical fluids.
“What in Mystra’s name was he doing down here?” Tristol asked with disgust as his eyes wandered across chamber and its grisly contents.
Several tables held mortals, and among their number, some of them were copies of the same original person, experimented on in ways that must have been attempts to further enhance the abilities of his unwilling puppet-like assassins. One human subject, breathing in ragged, forced motions of her chest, had apparently had gills grafted to her waist. Others had limbs, additional eyes, and even apparently internal organs grafted onto them from other species, all in some warped attempt to ‘improve’ them.
“This is sick.” Fyrehowl said. “At the very least, we need to put them out of their misery.”
None of the subjects appeared to have been given any drugs for the pain, and most of them were in comatose conditions, or their minds had simply given up any meaningful interactions with a world that only gave their bodies agony upon agony without respite.
Looking further, they saw an ogre nailed to a table with what might have been the eye of a dragon grafted into one of his own eye sockets, bulging and deforming the side of his head as the flesh had been coaxed to expanded and accept the alien organ.
But the mortal experiments were the least of the Rakshasa’s sins. Those were reserved for a half dozen minor tanar’ri, baatezu, and yugoloths. The fiends lay twitching and shrieking from the metal slabs they were bolted down to, and for a circle of the three types of fiends, it appeared that tubing, pulsing with flowing blood, reached between bronze valves implanted in their necks, sharing blood between them.
A spinagon twitched and gasped for breath while a pair of vrock wings grafted to its back twitched spasmodically, dripping puss from between the ensorcelled stitches that held them in place within swollen flesh that rebelled at their very touch.
Next to it, a piscaloth jerked in the midst of fever-wrought delirium next to an already dead amnizu. Their heads had been severed and reattached on one another’s bodies.
“What. The. F*ck.” Florian cursed. “What was the point of any of this?!”
“The pursuit of knowledge without ethics.” Kiro said. “He simply put to its furthest here. Or at least as far as he could, given that he seems to be exiled in some way or another.”
“I guess it makes sense.” Clueless said. “For him at least.”
Kiro shrugged. “In context it does I suppose.”
Fyrehowl closed her eyes briefly and snarled before walking over to where Nisha stood in front of a pair of thick bronze doors. The tiefling had walked past most of the horrors of the fiend’s experiments without glancing at them, and Fyrehowl, along with most of the others, likewise wished that they had done the same. The ghoulish experiments spread through the laboratory would be haunting them in their nightmares for some time to come.
“How does the door look Nisha?” Fyrehowl asked.
The Xaositect looked up from where she had been peering into the lock.
“Big, heavy and mundane.” She replied. “It’ll take some time, or a summoned Goristro to kick it in. And there’s a magical trap somewhere.”
“Hmm.” Kiro said, stepping up to peer at it.
Nisha wriggled her nose. “Smell the ozone?”
Kiro and Fyrehowl nodded.
“I wouldn’t suggest touching the door. Not… quite… yet…” Nisha continued.
“Allow me.” Kiro said, bowing his head in prayer.
“Suit yourself.” Nisha said, backing up a bit.
Kiro touched the lock and a shower of blue-white electrical sparks burst through the air as the cleric’s touch frayed and dispelled the wards on the doors’ locks.
“You might find it a bit easier now.” He said, helping Nisha back up to her feet.
Nisha smiled and went to work picking the doors. And though it took her some time to finally turn all of the tumblers into their proper position, finally they swung inwards a few inches with a dull, heavy pop.
Toras stepped forward to push the doors open, but as he did, a rush of air from beyond, and into the lab made their eyes water with ammonia, and the heavy stench of rotting flesh and spilt blood, even worse than within the lab itself, or their time upon the Astral.
Yethmiil left his keeper’s chamber with a sour mood stewing heavily upon his mind. His keeper. He preferred to call her that as opposed to anything else. It suited her, and it allowed him to deny her a bit of influence and prestige in his own mind, even if he had to feign obedience anywhere else. But she had power enough to enforce her mandates, and that extended to what he had to do as well, it was simply a fact of his current existence that he had to accept, even if he seethed under her.
“Our fortunes have changed before, and they will again.” He whispered to himself as he stepped out from the entrance of one of her towers and out onto the frozen, stony flesh of their godisle foundation.
“And the next time they do, I intend for our positions of rank to reverse themselves. Your contempt makes for a waste of my abilities.”
The stone was cold beneath his bare feet, and for the first time during his current excursion into the silvery void, he didn’t hover or fly, he walked. By some bizarre combination of gloating contempt, the dead power serving as a surrogate for what he could not express to his mistress, and also humble respect, Yethmiil chose to walk upon the bare flesh of the godisle.
The complex of towers that loomed behind him as he left, they had all been constructed upon that single massive godisle, one of the largest that he had ever before seen. Despite his own nature, the expression of horror frozen into the petrified face of the dead god beneath his feet… it gave him pause, and perhaps something close to fear. But he was in no position to question his collusion with his mistress there upon the Astral and there upon that broken corpse of shattered divinity. Such was his punishment, and he trusted that she knew what she was doing, or at least he was forced to trust her.
He glanced down one last time at that long fallen deity, its life snuffed out by its own transgressions, murdered and exterminated. He couldn’t help but worry about what they were doing while the silvery light glinting from the center of the godisle reflected back into the void and back into his own eyes. That gleaming reflection was the last thing of the Astral that he saw before opening a gate back to Carceri, back to his palace, and back to more petty matters of murder.
The heavy, reinforced door swung open into a single, enormous chamber lit by flickering, sporadic flashes of green light: excess energy bleeding off of the dweomers anchored into the stone like swarms of fiendish fireflies humming about and feeding upon the dead. And the dead were everywhere.
The floor of the chamber was littered with dozens of bodies, all in various states of decay, ravaged and tossed aside like trash and refuse after they had been put to brutal, sadistic use.
“Tempus…” Florian said with a hushed whisper as she covered her face with her sleeve.
Every inch of the chamber, the walls, the floors, and even the ceiling, they were all spattered with blood and gore, the fluid and entrails of the dead having been drawn and painted as patterns of runes in infernal, those runes then swirling about to form the shapes of other runes and higher order structures on the walls. In blood and bile, the magic saturated walls were an artist’s canvas and a poet’s tablet all at once.
“She’s f*cked in the head.” Toras said with disgust as they read the words upon the walls.
“With the scarlet litten orbs seeping hate and chaos into the starless void, so my own black heart burns with envy, hatred, and dispassionate rage.
Dancing among the dead I slather myself in their still warm blood and laugh at the yet living as they consign themselves to death, knowing full well that torment ends not there. My grasp is long indeed and I shackle them in chains of iron, envy, and fear, all fueling the inevitable.
Hatred within hatred, indignity and exile for the prisoner and warden of the doomed alike. Let the hatred rise and soar in pitch and effect and crush the souls of the objects of my loathing.
Bend, twist, and forge the fires of hatred and pain to mask from sight and scry both my servant’s home and the inviolable truth, the unseen rationale behind my bloodlust.
Let the skies burn and the seas boil along with my heart as it is unfilled and wanting. The screams of others as they die by my hand my only solace.”
“I can see that you appreciate my sister’s handiwork.”
Siddhartha’s voice rang out from behind them. The fading spiral of light from a closing gate backlit the Rakshasa, framing his robed figure in the doorway ominously as he appeared from out of nowhere.
“Accept my apologies for not having been present to kill you before now. I was busy elsewhere.”
The fiend extended a hand out towards them, magic already flickering from the tips of his claws.
“But unfortunately, you’ve seen too much, this game has gone on for far longer than I had intended, and now it will be ended.”
The fiend’s whiskers twitched and his lip curled as he prepared to invoke a spell. But before he could incant a syllable, there was a sharp metallic crack and a high-pitched whistle from Florian’s crossbow.
The bolt, a blessed bolt, shot across the distance in a flash, time itself seeming to hang still in a single moment of breathless uncertainty before it struck home, dead center on Siddhartha’s heart.
He looked down at the bolt in his chest as it buried itself inches deep, a mixture of surprise and befuddled confusion momentarily replacing that smug certainty from just moments earlier before his eyes rolled back in his head and momentum hurled him backwards. The impact splattered blood across the hallway and flung the fiend through the air and onto the floor, spread-eagled on the stone, motionless.
Last edited by Shemeska; Tuesday, 13th December, 2005 at 07:38 PM.
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 04:17 AM #1158
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dammit - I was just getting really, really fond of Siddhartha !
And where lies the rat-bastardry? The fact that they killed the guy they were so worried about with one shot? Assuming, of course, that they have killed him.
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 04:33 AM #1159
Novice (Lvl 1)
Nice Shot. (The real question is... did it take?)
Excellent update Shemmy. You keep making 'em longer and longer...
Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 05:16 AM #1160
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by shilsen
"Wait...Why are you smiling?" was one of the next things she said.
But as for what the case actually might have been, you'll have to wait till the next update.
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