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Friday, 2nd July, 2004, 06:48 AM #141
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
This session was also about when folks started realizing "DM Plot Hook" was on my character sheet, right next to "amnesiac", and "funky thing in leg". Expect a lot more 'odd' things to get put on my character sheet as this goes on, I think Clueless has become the official party holder of anything wierd, dangerous and/or likely to get one mazed if you have it in your possession.
Saturday, 3rd July, 2004, 03:32 AM #142
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by dal673
I've got over a year of game material to catch up on, I'll likely be continuing this storyhour after the campaign itself is over
I enjoy writing it, glad you're enjoying reading it.
Monday, 12th July, 2004, 09:44 PM #143
Novice (Lvl 1)
I don't want to sound to whining or something like that, but....
when will your next update be posted in this thread?
I'm dying out here...! ;-)
Tuesday, 13th July, 2004, 09:36 AM #144
I, too, pine for an update. If you could squeeze one into your busy schedule of preening, gossiping, and beating your servants with razorvine, that'd be wonderful!
Wednesday, 14th July, 2004, 01:21 AM #145
Superhero (Lvl 15)
No no, I beat -other peoples'- servents. Good flunkies are tough to findOriginally Posted by Fimmtiu
*goes back to preening and gossiping*
Friday, 16th July, 2004, 08:23 AM #146
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Update is written and submitted to my players. They'll have till friday evening to ask for changes, and then if not I'll post it Friday around 7pm or so.
Friday, 16th July, 2004, 08:58 AM #147
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
*taunts with advance copies* Taking bribes now in the backroom of the Portal Jammer.
Last edited by Clueless; Friday, 16th July, 2004 at 08:58 AM.
Saturday, 17th July, 2004, 04:26 AM #148
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Like an episode of Moonlighting, except they hate each other, and one dies
“Shekelor was our factol in the years before our exile to the mazes. The Spellbreaker and myself were two of his factors and confidants, though our rivalry began during his –prolonged- absence from Sigil.”
Clueless stared at the lich and spoke again, impatiently, “Why did he leave Sigil in the first place. I’m well aware of the circumstances surrounding his eventual return and his death, but refresh us on that matter in case you know the details better then I. Did he say –anything- to you or anyone else within the Wanters before his public incineration?”
Valdros paused and stared at Clueless for a moment. Perhaps something unspoken passed between the lich and the bladesinger, but regardless, the lich answered.
“As you likely know, Shekelor left us at the apex of his and our power. He claimed to have found the location of a black gem that contained the essence of a wizard who had challenged The Lady, and nearly won. It was said that She could not kill him, but only imprison him forever, locked within a gleaming black sapphire prison. That mage was an inspiration to our faction, and perhaps it was he who laid the framework for our eventual formation. Such is lost to the past however…”
“We distanced ourselves from his statements on the matter publicly. In private we hoped that he might succeed. He claimed that he would return to bring The Lady to Her knees. Such was not the case however and he descended into the bowels of Pandemonium. We heard nothing of him for nearly five centuries.”
Clueless stared hard at the lich, “But you did eventually hear from him?”
Valdros paused again, “Allow me to continue and you will learn. You’ve bought my words, you may as well listen to them.”
“The years passed and any of us thought the factol dead. His factors, myself included began a slow jockeying for position and prepared ourselves for him never returning. Eventually we would need to elect one our own rank to take Shekelor’s position. However the factor was supremely powerful. More so than any of us his seconds, and that by itself prevented us from making our ambitions too obvious for the first few hundred years. Age was of little consequence to us, and so we presumed he was out there in the depths of the howling plane itself, wandering and searching.”
“All good things come to an end however, and we eventually began to break down the wards upon his private chamber. One by one each of use would weaken one ward or snuff another, never more than one at a time for fear of being accused of a crime by our fellow factors. Over the years we finally broke them all down with no sign of Shekelor having noticed. With the doors open we tentatively entered and began to plunder the factol’s personal belongings. The Spellbreaker took much of his material before the rest of us did the same, though the bulk of the spellbooks are in my possession currently.”
The lich paused again before continuing, “There was no sign that the factol had returned to his chambers in all of the long years since he departed. We were nearly ready to declare him dead and duel with one another to take his forsaken title for ourselves, but then he contacted us.”
“He returned?” Clueless asked rapidly as his companions continued to stare at his back with perplexed expressions.
“No, he did not. He contacted us. With us inside Sigil, and he outside of the City of Doors, he contacted us.”
“That’s not possible.”
“Oh but it was, and he did. He told us that he was not successful in finding the Labyrinth Stone, but that in his wanderings he had found something else there among the screaming winds and winding tunnels of Pandemonium. Something that had frightened him. He said that he was certain he had found something that would aid him in his claims and that soon he would return triumphantly to us from there. What he said exactly…”
Valdros floated over to a wooden chest of drawers and removed a small gem from the interior. “A sensory stone of the event. I will project the contents to you.”
He touched the gem and a voice flooded into the minds of all within the chamber, a haunting voice that seemed carried upon a nonexistent breeze that emerged howling from nowhere and vanishing back to the same. From the depths of the winds of lament it drifted unbidden into their heads, an eerie echo of the dead from an equally dead and buried past that now lay stillborn within the mazes.
“I call to you, my factors, from the peak of Howler’s Crag here within Pandemonium. The Lady be damned, my words will reach your ears. Of that much I am certain, though the how eludes me still.”
“I have grown weary on crawling through dank, fiend filled tunnels, the winds of this plane howling through my mind. I have failed in my efforts to find the Labyrinth Gem. But I have stumbled upon things of perhaps even greater portent yet. I speak of the Harmonica, and I speak of a path to its center.”
“… is vast, some fifty miles by …. miles…seven hundred seventy seven cubic miles in volume exactly. Legends say that somewhere here in the vastness of it all there lays the secret to true planeswalking without spells, psionics or portals. I nearly wandered to the core of this place years ago before I realized that it was far more than it was claimed, and not what I sought.”
“…was horrified to my core at what I found therein. They… filamentous… burning through the planes…”
“I fled and spent the next two centuries scouring the dregs of creation in Agathion. My wandering brought me to the Crag where I now stand and I tell you that I have found something here that connects some half dozen sites scattered throughout the planes. A bit of writing here within the crag itself that I marked with my own sigil. Mithardir, Pelion, the plane of white dust that is Arborea’s third layer, said to have been the home of a race of titans, or titan-like beings of deific might. They are gone, vanished, and little to no trace of them remains. Nothing but a scattered word, a scattered symbol or phrase…”
“Patches of writing here match those within the massive steps carved into the pillars and crags of the Harmonica… those found upon the infinite spire… 25 miles up, hundreds of yards tall and dozens of yards wide. Not enough to translate, never enough to translate. But they match those on Pelion and those locked within the ice in Cania, buried beneath the foundations of those who would call themselves ancients.”
“…unspeakably ancient, unknown in origin… translate into musical notes? I… my return shall herald the fall of The Lady, though I shudder in fear with what I will find beyond that door in… you will see me in the Tower Sorcerous within a tendays time. If not, then I am dead and for your own lives and souls do not… I shall… the howling winds themselves… I am certain… seek the divine spiral.”
Clueless was perched at the edge of his chair, his knuckles white and his eyes burning with curiosity as the voice faded away.
“Anything else? Anything else at all?”
“Nothing else to us until he returned… a harbinger of our own fate that it may have been. In the middle of the Hall of Speakers, Shekelor emerged from a hitherto unknown portal from Pandemonium that had not existed before that point, nor since then. He was wild eyed, his clothing and hair unkempt and disheveled. And he was shedding light through his skin like his own funeral pyre had been lit and ignited within him. He screamed out a single phrase, “THE SPIDERS!!!!” and dropped a handful of gemstones to the floor before the flames erupted from within and incinerated him to naught but ashes in front of some seventy witnesses.”
“Would that I could have been granted a quick death…” Valdros muttered softly to himself as he turned from the party. “I have a number of those gemstones if you are curious. I made a point of questioning the witnesses and collecting the gems that were recovered from the scene of Shekelor’s death. They are singularly uninteresting. Non-magical, flaws in places, and blank as far as divinations are concerned. They are most definitely of a type only found within the 2nd and 3rd layers of Pandemonium however. I am certain of that.”
As the lich finished his tale, Clueless nodded and then paused. The bladesinger blinked his eyes and for a moment appeared confused. Behind him, Florian watched as the glow of evil that had swirled through her companion’s form moments before to permeate and dominate the colors of his own alignment as it normally stood out fade and swirl down towards his ankle before vanishing. Florian said nothing but glanced nervously at his companions, motioning them to do the same.
“What did I?… nevermind…” Clueless muttered and brushed off any concern. Inwardly though he was frightened by what had just happened. A feeling that he had vanished and been forced to watch himself perform actions and ask questions not of his making.
Valdros looked at Clueless and answered him, “I was just answering your questions.” There was a lingering stress upon the word ‘your’ and if the lich had any eyebrows remaining on his withered and stretched flesh, he would surely have arched them at that moment.
“So… Archmage Valdros. What can you tell us of the Spellbreaker, and what we need to be ready for since we’ve agreed to help you. You told us what we were sent here to find, we’ll hold to our part of the bargain.” Tristol addressed the lich with a mixture of awe and unease.
“Those who sent you here… did they give you the location of the exit portal to this maze?” The lich rotated in the air to address the group bluntly. They paused and a chill passed over the chamber in their minds.
“No. No they didn’t. Supposedly they’ll be sending someone to find us. Supposedly.” Fyrehowl broke the still.
Valdros gave an unbreathing sigh and began to pace the room slowly, “I should not allow my hope to rise unnecessarily. I was placed here for a purpose and I have my doubts that I can escape till I am the last of us here alive. We shall see shortly what fate is to do with me and what She would have me do for the rest of my days.”
“But as for the Spellbreaker. She and I are roughly equal in skill, though my own talents are focused towards necromancy and transmutation. She is primarily focused towards abjurations and conjurations. She has a number of unique abilities and our strengths and weaknesses have largely blunted each others’ advances over the long years to a perfect standstill. She is a master of counterspelling, adept at hurling an opponents spells back at them with the same force or stronger.”
Tristol winced at the Lich’s descriptions of the other Incantifer’s powers. “How can we affect her then?”
The lich, was he capable of it, would have smiled like a teacher to a student, “She and I will blunt each others effectiveness as we have always. All of you however will be able to physically attack her and assault her with additional magics not centered upon her person exactly. She will eventually be overwhelmed regardless of how well prepared she is. You are all a most wonderful and unexpected change into she and my conflict.”
Valdros continued, “Her section of the tower is warded, like mine, against teleportation and summons of all forms, save that of the owner of that portion of the tower. That is less a worry. Most of her traps are designed entirely with myself in mind. Spells designed to rupture my connection to the negative energy plane, to destroy my undead form and then encapsulate my essence before I begin to reform. There are likely spells intended to undo the dweomers upon my phylactery, were I stupid enough to physically carry it into her domain.”
The lich laughed. “Little chance of that…”
“You should rest for the moment and be at your best before we assault the Spellbreaker’s domain. I will leave you and return in a number of hours, then we will make haste.” With that, the lich vanished in a blurred mixture of green light and dancing shadows.
The group exchanged wary looks and settled into the chairs within the room. Florian spoke first, “You know, I’m actually getting worried about them sending anyone to get us. Otherwise we –don’t- have a way out.”
“He’d have found it already…” Toras remarked grimly.
“Well, maybe not. He’s been sealed away in here with her all this time, and the spellhaunts out there were enough to make them cooperate to protect themselves from them.” Nisha mused.
Tristol shuddered, “Don’t even say that word. They give me the creeps.”
“Spellhaunt.” She teased.
“Stop it.” The aasimar protested.
“Spellhaunt, spellhaunt spellhaunt!” She continued with a grin.
“Aaahhhh!” He said exaggeratedly with a cry.
“Don’t keep poking at the wizard that way. They have a nasty reputation of turning people into toads and things like that.” Clueless warned.
“Or incinerating them.” Toras mentioned.
“Or turning them to stone.” Florian said with a smile.
“But… but I wouldn’t be any fun any of those ways.” She smiled and twitched her tail happily.
The others, Tristol included, chuckled at her antics before getting more and more adjusted into their chairs for a rest. Tristol had taken out his spellbook to study and was soon followed by both Clueless and Nisha who made do with the jury-rigged spellbooks they had been given by the wizard in the first place. Florian began to pray softly while Fyrehowl stared off into space, unable to sleep, and Toras gradually drifted off and slumped to one side, eventually followed by the others as well.
Roughly seven hours later the lich reappeared in a sparkle of magic. With their bodies rested and healed and their spells replenished Valdros’s newfound allies stood and followed him down the hallway back towards where they had first encountered him and his counterpart.
“I will stand to the rear. As I said before, the vast majority of her wards and traps are designed to destroy me. Many of them will be unlikely to even harm the rest of you. Those that will I will dispose of them before they give you much trouble. Otherwise, please proceed.”
“Alright then…” Fyrehowl nodded to the lich, Toras drew his blade and Clueless drifted forwards with a push from his wings.
Tristol whispered the words of a spell to detect magic and examined the area surrounding the doorway that the Spellbreaker had first emerged from. Like everything else in the tower they had seen outside of the Lich’s domain, it was devoid of even a glimmer of magic.
“She wouldn’t have wasted her efforts here. Continue.” Valdros intoned as he drifted in the air over to the door. Tristol nodded and stepped into the room cautiously. Seeing nothing erupt in flames or any sound of alarm from their companion, the others guardedly entered the chamber as well.
The room was wide, some thirty feet in diameter with a single staircase starting at its far end to slowly rise upwards, spiraling along the edges of the chamber’s white alabaster walls to a single doorway high above. A pale yellow glow was spread out over the mirror polished black stone floor, radiating from a small crystal sitting at the center of the room. The crystal vibrated slightly as a tiny figure within appeared to beat upon the sides before doubling over and screaming in agony.
“Aren…” Nisha blanched as she saw the trapped form of their companion. Fyrehowl’s ears perked to the soft sounds of the entrapped soul’s torment. All of them turned to regard the gem as one.
“We can’t just leave her.” Nisha protested.
“Ware… the room is heavily enspelled. Aasimar, can you see any visible dweomers within the room?” Valdros warned from the doorway, he had yet to enter the room.
“No…” Tristol replied.
“Then leave the gem untouched. We may return for it after killing the Spellbreaker when we will have the time to deal with any potential traps. She would not have left such an object sitting here in the open to taunt you with unless it was a lure for a trap that we have neither the time nor the resources to spend undoing it or blundering into it.” The lich gestured them towards the stairs and they followed his cue, though not without regret at leaving their former companion entrapped.
“We’ll come back for you Aren…” Nisha whispered as they stepped towards the stairs. Clueless however, either curious or unwilling to leave the succubus in torment darted towards the gem. Before the others could react his hand had closed upon the gem which blinked out of existence to reveal the glimmering lines of a magical rune beneath the illusory image. The center of the chamber erupted with a concussive wave of force that hurled the half-fey back against the wall and staggered the others. Still standing in the doorway, Valdros was not amused.
From somewhere overhead a voice rang out to meet the dazed ears of the party, the laughing voice of the Spellbreaker. With blatant malignancy crawling around her laughs she goaded them, “Oh, but the fun has yet to begin. Climb higher Valdros, I’ve been waiting for this for centuries.”
The lich’s swirling liquid silver eyes glimmered with a flash of light, but otherwise the archmage said nothing as he finally entered the room and ushered his allies up the stairs. As they climbed and nursed bruises, Nisha looked to Clueless. “Not my fault this time. That was entirely yours. Sodding magical traps.”
Several minutes later they emerged at the top of the stairs within a similarly sized chamber. The floor surrounding them was constructed of panes and stained glass, a mosaic that sprawled out around them depicting a scene of hellish magnitude. One quarter of the floor was a scene of infernal dominion and tyranny overlooked by a scaled, whip holding Cornugon taskmaster. The next showed a trident wielding insectoid fiend standing upon the flaming surface of a great volcano floating before the backdrop of three other volcanic mounts. The shadow of the Mezzoloth formed images of a tall, cloaked fiend with burning eyes and a featureless head, and another robed fiend with the head of a jackal. The next panel of the mosaic showed a disgusting, tar dripping fiend standing upon a blasted, rocky wasteland radiating red light up towards a black sky. The final quarter of the mosaic showed a vulture headed fiend wielding a lightning wreathed spear from a boat floating upon a sea of scorpions and flies.
“Great, vacation spots of the lower planes. Perfect for that getaway with the Maralith that you’ve been dating.” Nisha quipped as they looked out at the images on the stained glass floor.
“And why are you looking at me when you say that?” Clueless asked with a bewildered look.
“Because you’re crazy. Trust me when I call someone nuts, I know what I’m talking about.” The tiefling quipped back with a smile.
“Says the person who lived in the Hive.” Fyrehowl muttered.
“Land was cheap.” Nisha said with a grin. “Squatting can get you some amazingly low rates on your taxes. So can punching members of the Fated in the face when they walk in your door, but that’s just nostalgia for you…”
As the last of them stepped onto the black disk of stone that served as the hub of the lower planar mosaic there was a throb on the air as a contingent spell took effect.
“Oh pike it, what is it now…” Nisha muttered.
“Not me.” Clueless said as he readied his sword.
Valdros looked up at them from below, as a glimmering wall of force appeared over the stairs, sealing them off from the lich while a second such wall solidified into place above the only doorway leading out of the room. With a shudder and groan of metal against glass the figures in the mosaic began to peel themselves up from the floor.
“Oh hells…” Nisha muttered again as the stained glass figures of the Vrock, Cornugon, Mezzoloth, and Kelubar Gehreleth advanced on them with jagged weapons at the ready.
Walking towards them ponderously with erratic movements, the fiends attacked. The stained glass Cornugon struck at Toras with its whip of jagged glass fragments to draw a line of blood across the fighter’s arm and neck. The Mezzoloth jabbed its trident at Fyrehowl as the Vrock launched itself at Clueless. The Kelubar had barely moved when Tristol struck it with a spell. A wave rippled the air between him and it and struck the beast with the force of an angry Goristro. The glass on its chest ruptured into dust and it nearly fell from the first blow before slowly standing again with a ragged sound of rending metal and glass.
Tristol stepped back with eyes wide, “That was the only shatter spell I had guys. These things are immune to magic otherwise; so don’t bother casting at them. Just smash the heck out of them.”
Toras hacked at the Cornugon while Nisha kicked at the kelubar and the others divided their time between the other two. As the kelubar finally ceased to move and crumbled to powder, Fyrehowl had nearly dismembered the Mezzoloth on her own though her mouth was cut and bloody from an ill-fated, if instinctual, attempt to bite at the construct’s legs. The vrock was hacked to pieces by Clueless and Florian seconds later and the Cornugon was the last the fall, but not before it had struck at Nisha and Tristol with its whip of broken, jagged glass.
“I like this woman less and less the more she tried to kill us you know?” Nisha said as she stared at a random bit of glass and the way the light sparkled through it. She paused and handed a potion to Tristol and Toras as Florian began to heal Fyrehowl as the lupinal growled and plucked bits of glass from her gums and tongue.
Minutes later after they had all healed themselves they looked at the exit, still sealed by an invisible, if solid wall. Valdros rose up through the stairway after he projected a green ray at the wall that had sealed him off from his allies. A second later he brought down the other wall of force by the same method. Tristol looked more and more impressed by the moment. Valdros said nothing but motioned them through the newly opened door.
As they advanced through the doorway they emerged into a long shaft of a chamber that climbed up into the higher reached of the tower. A crystalline staircase rose up into the darkness above them. Nisha glared at the group as she strode ahead and began to examine the stairs one by one for traps, both mundane and magical, all the while muttering under her breath and chiding the others for their blunderings in the past. Five minutes later she paused her muttering and turned around with an impish grin, “But I still love all you poor sods, don’t worry.”
The crystal was cold to the touch and seemed to hum slightly, shedding a soft white light. Inside, though it may have just been a trick of the carving of the structure, there seemed to be slowly moving and shifting ghostly forms passing through the glassy material. Forced into touching the railings and trodding upon the stairs, the companions avoided looking into the surface to avoid the feeling of unease it gave to them. Nisha made faces at the figures, being Nisha and all.
Some time later they had managed to climb roughly half of the stairs and Nisha had yet to find any traps. “Nisha… I don’t think there’s any traps on the stairs. I think we’re just waiting our time.” Florian said with minor irritation.
“Nonsense, I’m just being careful is all…pike it.” Nisha said as Florian pushed past her. Three seconds later the first trap was triggered.
“Well, vindication is vindication. Malign or otherwise.” Nisha sighed as magical dweomers began winking out on members of the part before her own detection spell faded and vanished from the area dispel that Florian had triggered.
“Good job Florian. Wonderful, you first from now on.” Tristol muttered as his own lingering detect magic spell was snuffed. From below at the base of the stairs, Valdros made no response.
Three steps later, Florian set off the next trap and a wave of glowing energy washed over the entire party, save the lich far below them. They cringed and braced for the worse when the blast hit them but paused as the light felt warm, pleasant even and they found themselves feeling refreshed, invigorated, and their bruises from earlier vanishing.
“Hey… wow! I don’t mind that last one.” Florian said as he smiled.
“Thanks evil magic eating woman! We appreciate it!” Nisha yelled up the staircase.
“Positive energy. As I said, many of the traps are focused towards harming me. While it healed you, it would have had dire effects on myself I assure you. Proceed.” The dry voice of the lich echoed in the minds of the group as the lich began to ascend the stairs to follow behind them.
At the top of the stairs the landing opened up into long unlit corridor. It was difficult to make out any details within from only the dim light shed by the stairs. From the top of the stairs, Fyrehowl wrinkled her nose and frowned. “Who brought their pet fiend? It reeks of brimstone from in there.”
“Don’t blame the tiefling.” Nisha smirked and stepped into the room. A second later she hurriedly stepped back out of the room. “I’m not going in there.” She said as the entire hallway erupted in sheets of flame from wall to wall, illuminating the entire length of the passage. Somewhere at the passage’s end a second wave or rolling explosion erupted and raced down the hallway towards the stairs before withering away and dying a scant few footsteps from the group.
Fyrehowl looked to Valdros, “Some help perhaps?”
“You are perfectly capable of surviving this on your own. You are not perfectly capable of surviving what comes later. My aid will be given if you are incapable of otherwise surviving.” The lich’s response was dry and carried a note of finality.
“So… who wants to figure out when those larger explosions happen, and when to time it to run…” Nisha grimaced as Florian began to pray for spells to ward them all against the flames coursing through the hallway.
“Lack of a plan aside, that sounds like a plan. You first Nisha?” Tristol chuckled.
“Race you all.” Nisha said as she bolted into the corridor with a flurry of curses streaming from her lips as she dove into the raging flames.
“I’m not getting outdone like that.” Toras said as he too jumped into the corridor and ran. The others stared at each other dumbfounded before they too shrugged and ran.
A minute later, breathing heavily, covered in ash and soot, and nearly cooked from their dash through the flame filled corridor the group paused and rested. Valdros hovered back at the entrance to the fire wreathed passage waiting for news of the new chamber before he entered into it himself. The room was small, constructed of blank, gray stone walls that seemed pitted and scarred in placed. Otherwise it was unoccupied and a single door on the far end opened into another chamber.
“Ok, looks all clear in here. You can probably c…wait… oh s***!” Clueless shouted back to the lich, then to himself as the Spellbreaker herself walked into the room with her hands outstretched and her lips moving in the words of a spell. At once, Clueless and Tristol launched into spellcasting as the others dashed towards the sorceress.
At once, disaster struck as the mage’s and bladesinger’s spells sparked from their minds and into reality. They knew it as the spells left their minds and crystallized into corporeality. Something grabbed at their magic and twisted, hard. Something rewove the patterns and altered the spell’s polarity as a cone of acid flashed into being to wash over the would be assassins of the Spellbreaker, fueled by their spells’ raw energies.
All of them save Toras scrambled for cover as the acid sprayed across armor and flesh alike. Clatters of metal of stone and cries of pain echoed as Toras cleaved through the Spellbreaker… and the image vanished. As his companions grimaced from their injuries as the acid evaporated back into nothingness, Toras of Andros looked up at the doorway the illusory wizardress had entered from to see the real Spellbreaker standing there and laughing at their misfortune. Her spell erupted in their midst and she vanished in the telltale flash of a teleportation before his words of warning reached the ears of his already injured companions.
The spell erupted in a concussive blast of ice and lightning. Of all of them, only Nisha escaped unscathed as she dove sideways back into the hallway where she nearly collided with the lich. The next few minutes were spent by all of them nursing their wounds with potions, gritted teeth, and spells of healing from Florian. Valdros seethed at the delay.
“And she will be even more prepared now as you pause to lick your wounds. You may feel better for the moment but may soon feel nothing if she snuffs your lives as I know she is capable of. This was not meant to kill you, but to slow you down.”
“So be it. I can’t survive more than one of those that she threw at us. It was either stop and heal myself now, or next time I wouldn’t be getting up to do the same.” Florian shrugged to the lich and cast another spell of healing upon Toras.
“Sorry for almost falling into you. Didn’t mean it.” Nisha smiled at Valdros, trying to inject at least a moment of light heartedness into the gloomy affair. Valdros made little response but to float away from the group and say nothing more till they moved on.
Eventually the room opened into a hallway, and from there into a great library. The chamber was stacked nearly floor to ceiling by cases and shelves of books, sample jars and assorted baubles and curiosities. A long golden carpet stretched down the length of the library and into another room at the far end that glimmered with light.
Valdros hung back, uncertain with the circumstances. “Beyond is her bedroom and laboratory. Most of the books here are those on mundane subjects and non magical in and of themselves. They are warded however.”
The words had scarcely left the lich’s fleshless jaws when there was a sharp crackle from one of the bookcases. In front of the books, Nisha was clutching one of her hands and staring daggers at the inanimate objects on the shelves as the sharp stench of ozone wafted over to her companions.
“Bad Nisha. Loot –after- you kill what’s guarding it.” Clueless chided the tiefling and Toras chuckled. Tristol’s eyes were wide as he looked at the contents of the library. Centuries of material and knowledge. A soft tearing sound followed by a yelp, another crackle of lightning, and yet another ozone rich cloud of smoke garnered the group’s attention once again.
“Stupid bookcases… they’re warded from the back too…” Nisha said, sucking on her singed fingers and once again staring daggers at the warded books.
“Anyways, we should get going. And there’s a few wardings to the left and right of the entrance to the room at the far end of the library, so watch out for them.” Tristol said to the others as he stepped onto the carpet and slowly walked closer to the Spellbreaker’s personal chambers. He had crossed roughly halfway down the length when the carpet jerked sideways, sending the mage sprawling on his side with a sharp exhalation of breath. Suddenly sprouting legs resembling tousles of golden yarn, the carpet furled to half of its normal length and began to constrict the wizard trapped within its coils.
“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me…” Toras said as he held his sword up and moved to flank the animated rug.
Clueless took to the air and Fyrehowl moved opposite Toras while Nisha dropped her intentions of pilfering the library. Florian began to chant a spell while Valdros once again hung to the rear and watched the entrance to the Spellbreaker’s room to the exclusion of the current battle. Temporary alliances meant little to a being consumed with a centuries old rivalry.
Tristol was struggling to speak but couldn’t manage a word as the Rug of Welcoming constricted tighter. Already he was starting to turn blue in the face as Toras and Fyrehowl began to stab and hack at the construct’s sides. Florian threw out his hand to conjure a glimmering, transparent battleaxe in the air emblazoned with the symbol of Tempus which began to batter at one of the carpet’s legs.
“Tristol? Crap he’s not moving!” Clueless shouted as he dove at the animated rug and began to slice at the bands of material wrapped around the unconscious mage. Minutes later he was joined by Nisha who barely avoided the rug’s attempts to trip her with a loose coil of carpet before it lashed the heavy material out like a whip to send Fyrehowl tumbling backwards. The attack was the carpet’s last significant struggle though as the combined cuts and slashes of its attackers took their toll and its coils gave slack and then went limp.
“Come on Tristol, wake up for me. Come on.” Florian muttered as he cast a spell on the unmoving mage. Tristol groaned, coughed and inhaled sharply as the spell took effect.
“I hate constructs. I really do hate them.” He managed to say hoarsely as he stood back up. Nisha smiled at him, “If it makes you feel any better I hate bookcases. These ones anyways.”
Clueless landed on the remains of the animated carpet and looked towards Valdros. The lich pointed towards the room and began to float forwards, finally accompanying his allies side by side. “We finish this now or we all die, one or the other.”
The room was part arcane lab and part bedroom, lavishly equipped and lavishly decorated. The floor was crafted of what appeared to be solid slabs of polished adamantium that glistened like a giant mirror underfoot. Two large windows graced the walls on two sides, open to the air of the maze through which a gentle breeze wafted in. An ornate summoning circle, useless within the maze graced the floor in a third of the chamber and stacks of books and piles of jewels, magical paraphernalia of all types and larger piles of the same that had been drained of magic and tossed to the side like rotting food scraps.
The party spread out and look at the Spellbreaker where she stood next to a partially transparent golden globe filled with some manner of liquid. She had not moved an inch but was staring firmly at her undead counterpart who, like her, was simply hovering there waiting for the other to make the first move. Then they launched into a flurry of spellcasting.
Bolts of flame leapt out towards the lich as a half dozen or so multicolored beams erupted simultaneously from the Spellbreaker’s hands. The flames vanished halfway to their target and a snarling loop of lightning from Valdros launched from his hand to strike at her. She made several motions and the lightning snaked back towards the lich to strike him full in the chest to no apparent effect.
Both of the archmages paid no attention to the party as they took out their vendetta on one another. Rage pent up over centuries of isolation in the mazes was being loosed by flame, acid, lightning and energies even more rare yet. Florian threw out his hands to call down a pillar of divine flames that struck the Spellbreaker to some effect. But it also garnered her attention.
In rapid succession she hurled a bolt of black force at Toras and a hailstorm laced with acid at Clueless, Florian and Nisha. Toras nearly crumpled from the blow and he was staggered when he finally cleared his head and looked for the screaming sorceress as she and the lich traded spell after devastating spell. She was covered in blood that seemed to seep back to her and heal by the minute while the lich was scorched and fire blackened but otherwise whole. Then with a sharp gesture she vanished.
Valdros paused and scanned the room, his hands up and ready to defend himself. He didn’t have to wait long before a pair of orange globes flickered into being across the room from one another to fly at him. He dispelled one, but the other erupted in flame across his side. Fyrehowl stopped and eyed one section of the room, her ears perked and her nose testing the air. Toras edged opposite the lupinal to flank the area as yet more spells erupted against Valdros. Toras nodded to Clueless who flicked his sword in the direction his companions had moved towards and a nimbus of flickering faerie fire rushed over an otherwise invisible figure; the Spellbreaker.
Limned by the flickering colors of the bladesinger’s spell, Fyrehowl and Toras rushed at her. Still obsessed with her spellbattle with the lich she failed to notice them fully before they had closed. She took two separate hits from them both before some manner of contingency tripped and she vanished as a fireball blossomed at her feet. Fyrehowl leapt and rolled out of the area and Toras dove for cover, escaping much of the flames. A moment later the Spellbreaker reappeared across the room, a fresh wound still showing on her left shoulder and her gut. She snarled and gestured towards the enemies she only considered to be gnats.
Suddenly a second Spellbreaker stepped out of nothing and turned to hurl a spell at her secondary targets. Her hand issued forth a burst of rainbow colored beams that struck at the group. Clueless narrowly avoided a scorching burst of flames, Fyrehowl was struck by a blue beam to no ill effect, Nisha was struck by an indigo beam to no apparent effect, and Florian was hit by a violet beam with again no effect; Toras however was broadsided by a ray of acid and a cloud of noxious gas. Tristol was untouched by the magic and he quickly took the initiative to aid the lich as he dispelled the second Spellbreaker.
She seemed on the verge of hurling yet more magic against the party, even as a green beam from the lich nearly severed her right arm. But then the room shuddered. The lich ignored the event but his opponent’s gaze was momentarily distracted by something that had shaken the permanent semi-permeable walls of force set inside her windows. Out there, deep out into the maze there had been a massive explosion that her eyes, so well trained in the subtleties of magic, could at once tell had been the death throes of a spellhaunt created from the warped casting of a meteor swarm. Over the fading light of the fiery cataclysm there was a flock of winged beings moving slowly out into the maze.
The distraction was all her opponents needed. Nearly at once the Lich dispelled her physical protections as Fyrehowl and Nisha stabbed her in the stomach and the throat. Contingencies erupted like sparks upon dry wood into flame, and were immediately quenched by the lich as he floated towards her, snuffing the regenerative and healing spells that would have then otherwise taken effect.
Areya Fenthellis, factor of the Incanterium, The Spellbreaker, whimpered and shuddering in pain as her blood washed out over the floor and her magics sparked and died. She looked up into the emotionless face of the lich, her rival and fellow prisoner for the past nine centuries. A tear fell from her swirling silvery globes of eyes as the light in them faded and the lich smiled as she died without a word.
Valdros knelt down and physically picked up the body from the floor, he seemed stunned, uncertain and shaken with the culmination of nearly a millennia of struggle and hate. And then he opened his mouth and his eyes flared in their silver intensity as he devoured her essence, her magic and perhaps even her soul.
Seconds passed on to minutes and Valdros dropped the corpse to the floor and drifted over to a window. He placed his skeletal hands upon the frame and sighed.
“Almost a thousand years. I gave up my mortality to allow this day to come in the blind hope that after all of us had died but myself, that maybe then the lesson would be learned. Maybe after all our struggle, pain, and death at each others’ hands The Bladed Queen might have mercy upon me for my crimes. A thousand years and it is over.”
Valdros seemed to look out onto the maze, looking for answers that seemed as elusive as catching a star in one’s hand or bottling moonlight in a jar. He was given no reply. Had he been mortal he would have wept.
“Freedom is not mine today, nor is death. Perhaps one day the time will come and She will set me free from this cage of my own making. Just… just not today…”
Valdros looked around at the room and its contents. “Thank you. Our deal is concluded then. You may rest within the confines of my tower as long as you wish even if your minders do not come to reclaim you. I will not act against you so long as I am left alone to my thoughts. My mind swims with much at the moment.”
“Thank you for holding to our bargain Archmage.” Tristol said with respect.
“As for The Spellbreaker’s possessions I lay claim to only a few items, the rest you may dispense among yourselves as you wish, provided you can carry it with you. Her more potent spellbooks are mine, as is her staff and the greenstone amulet around her neck. The rest… do with as you see fit.” Valdros picked up a yellow gemstone from the pockets of his dead rival and continued as he held it up for the others to see. “I suspect in some time however that you will have company. Another group has entered the maze looking for your now dead companion Tanar’ri. Her spells that had cloaked her from detection by her former lord are likely gone and the Abyss will come to reclaim the essence of that which it holds to be a traitor.”
Last edited by Shemeska; Friday, 30th July, 2004 at 07:54 AM.
Sunday, 18th July, 2004, 05:02 AM #149
Ahhhhh, that's the stuff... ought to curb my addiction for another week at least.
Clueless: I can't believe you ran in there. Man, she couldn't have made it any more obvious that it was a trap unless she put a big neon sign saying "SPELLBREAKER'S TRAP EMPORIUM -- ADVENTURERS WELCOME!!!" right above the gem. I bet you were roundly pelted with pencils and dice for that one.
Sunday, 18th July, 2004, 07:39 AM #150
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Fimmtiu
Beyond that, at this stage of the game he's an incredible goofball. (Not *nearly* so much by the point we're currently at right now, but I'll leave that for Shemmie or time to tell.) Watch for the pattern... amazingly enough, he's not dead yet, and there have been sometimes when he *really* should have been but talked his way out of it.
Last edited by Clueless; Sunday, 18th July, 2004 at 07:40 AM.
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