Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour (Updated 29 Jan 2014) - Page 23




What's on your mind?

  1. #221
    Amnesiac, possessed, and grafted with some sort of evil gem.
    The real question of course is who controls the gem- its pretty clearly the thing allowing for the possession. I'm going with either the Shemeskra or maybe Shylara the Manged (did I spell that right?).

    My bet's on the Maurader though. From what I know about her, she has a horrific temper, and is more than willing to beat the living daylights out of anyone who crosses her or does something stupid and the incredable number of insults she can roll off. The female pronoun's not a bad hint either.

    The desire to hide the female pronoun implies that its not supposed to be known to Rule-of-Three (which makes sense, him being something of a chant-monger if I recall correctly). It also means that Clueless is probably being set up for the fall, assuming that he's not scheduled for execution.


    As always Shemmy- an excellent update. I didn't see the flaying coming at all. (Before this post I mean. I saw it coming once I started reading.)
    Last edited by Ohtar Turinson; Saturday, 18th September, 2004 at 04:05 PM.

 

  • #222
    Webmonkey
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    *chuckle* Watch for what Clueless does in reaction to this though... Technically some of this is out of order to how it occured, but it's all close enough to not be too bad off.
    Visit Shemeska's Story Hour I and Story Hour II
    Webmonkey for Planewalker and Planewalker's Forums

  • #223
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    What a great update!

    ..."and the Wheels are turning"...

    Greetz,

    DaL

  • #224
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    Updated early due to NC Game Day, pardon the lack of time spent checking on grammer

    'Your world has spikes on his back and he wants to lay down on you
    Don't like what I say, you best not go away
    Take a look into my bag of wonders
    I'll pull out something special just for you
    Don't tell anyone
    It'll be our secret
    A weak and tainted soul I stole from you know who
    You want to buy it back, I'll have to charge you for two...’ –Godhead ‘I Sell Society’


    Mydianchlarus, the Oinoloth of the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin strummed his fingers over the massive arms of the Siege Malicious and looked out over the countless miles of blasted wasteland that surrounded his tower. His tower was the symbol of his rule and the centerpiece of Yugoloth accomplishment that rose up out of the forsaken earth like a bloated fungal blight watered by the Styx and grown fat on the marrow of the dead god whose spine it was carved from entirely, nearly forty miles in length all said and done. And here he sat upon his throne, Mydianchlarus the Oinoloth, the Ultroloth Prince, and he was facing a challenge to his supreme rule.

    “Typhus has already pledged his loyalty to your rule my liege. The Infernal Front marches now two days hence to the Wasting Tower to await your command. I speak in this matter as the Altraloth’s spokesman. We stand at your side, Oinoloth of the Tower. Our allegiance is not in question.”

    The Oinoloth glanced at the speaker, a stick thin Ultroloth from Niffleheim wrapped in the sickly yellow and mottled green livery of the mercenary warlord Typhus. There was no subterfuge in the envoy’s mental voice, only confidence and a slight undercurrent of arrogance. But, those flaws aside, it and its master were loyal at this moment; its life would be forfeited any otherwise. Of course after the looming conflict it was likely that Typhus would once again become the free agent that he had always been, selling his services to the highest bidder. But now as a force threatened the pinnacle of their race’s hierarchy, the wayward mercenary had come home to where his true loyalties sat. Ideally anyways. More likely than not the Altraloth was simply attempting to curry favor with the Oinoloth, so be it.

    Mydianchlarus nodded his approval to the Ultroloth and the gathered assembly of advisors, speakers, scribes and servants shuffled amongst themselves, jockeying for position and turn to speak to their master. Ultroloths reduced to scrambling like dogs for scraps, hoping to curry favor and gain but a word to or from the Oinoloth who looked at them all with amusement. Dozens of Ultroloth lords, barons, generals and tetrarchs from the breadth of the three planes of conflict offering unasked for advice, seeking to place their rival Ultroloths into a poor light and their forces into weaker positions of battle so as to personally gain from their dismemberment in the coming war. Dozens of Ultroloths and their attendant scribes and aides, mostly Arcanaloths and a scant few Nycaloths as well to comprise that omnipresent but effectively powerless class of persons that swarmed about and amongst the petulant overclass of the Ultroloths. Except for one of them.

    Otherwise buried in the midst of the others who had flocked to the Oinoloth’s council, Vorkannis the Ebon, Overlord of Carceri and Master of the Tower of Incarnate Pain stood and gazed up at the Oinoloth, like a blot against the background of Ultroloths who swirled around, but never truly paid him heed. Not that the over glorified arcanaloth seemed to mind or pay them heed either, rather he seemed to stand distant and distinct from their midst without any seeming attempt on his part to stand out. And for the briefest of moments, the sable coated and cobalt robed jackal met the gaze of the Oinoloth. The arcanaloth’s crimson, piercing albino eyes lanced out into the swirling multicolored orbs of the Ultroloth Prince that gleamed a dozen sickly colors as they slowly wept blood across its featureless face.

    Mydianchlarus beckoned towards The Ebon, his arm leaving a gelatinous trail of partially congealed blood smeared across the arm of the throne of Khin-Oin. The constant bleeding, regenerated in seconds only to run like crimson sweat the next moment, was the duality of the Siege that was at once both a blessing and a curse. The mark of the most ancient of thrones was indelible.

    “What have you to offer up to us? I am aware that your armies are yet depleted from your conflict with your predecessors. Your position is known, but what aide you offer is not. Speak and show your betters here that you might yet be worthy of promotion after this war is fought and finished.” The Oinoloth’s voice rippled across the ether like a current in the smoke wafting up from a field of burning flesh.

    The Ebon bowed deeply as the Ultroloths grew quiet and parted to allow the Oinoloth full view of the jackal headed fiend, yet his eyes never ceased their lock with those of his superior. And, when he spoke it was with certainty and respect as befitting the station of those surrounding him; there was not a hint of arrogance or contempt, though locked within his mind it festered like a burning, gaping wound filled with salt and poison.

    “Indeed. My own armies are constrained by two factors, the defense of my own unfinished tower and that they have not yet regained the numbers they possessed under the joint command of Bubonix and Cholerix. In the… absence… of my former lords I can nonetheless offer as many Mezzoloths as possible without risking the tower itself from Gehreleth assault. I leave that to your discretion my liege as the completion of the tower is not solely my purview, but all of ours.”

    Mydianchlarus nodded at the nearly hypnotic melody of the jet-furred arcanaloth’s voice; smooth as honey blended with adder venom, sweet and pleasant even as it killed. Something about the lesser fiend struck a dissonant note however, something that the Oinoloth couldn’t place. Something familiar about the face or the voice that was intimately familiar to him but inexplicably slipped from his thoughts. There would be time later though to ponder those improbable thoughts when, after killing his predecessor Anthraxus, he planned to drink from his hollowed out skull.

    The Ebon bowed again and backed away as the Oinoloth turned his attention to others. Questions were raised and advice given and ignored by all of them. The ignorant fools were drunk with their own power and blind to their flaws and their own feet that would soon set them stumbling. And, already the noose was wrapped around each and every one of them to break their fall when they did. It would be a harsh awakening, but one that had been building for far longer than any of them knew, suspected, or had even existed to contemplate.

    The advisors and confidants of the Oinoloth discussed the amassing of troops, the merging of armies and transport of supplies and devices of war. They discussed who amongst them was a traitor to the great cause, and who within the camp of the Decayed was still loyal to their cause. They discussed with uncertainly the pall of silence that had fallen over the Baernaloths and that envoys to the Gloom Fathers and the Crawling Citadel of The General of Gehenna had either not returned or been granted no audience. They even discussed the fact that Xenghara the Fallen had vanished without a trace, his keepers having been skinned alive, fused wrist to ankle while still breathing, and suspended in the air like an obscene living wheel. The Altraloth Xenghara had always been unstable, mad even for a fiend, and the implications of his vanishing were put aside for the moment, as was the symbol that had presaged the event.

    The pale corpse light of the Waste reflected off The Ebon’s fangs as he turned away from the pack of Ultroloths and their servants, gleaming as he licked his lips to taste the faint scent of uncertainty upon the air from the gathered toadies and sycophants of the elite. They weren’t convinced that they would win. A good portion of them had already made contingent plans should their former master re-ascend to his throne and they’d bottled their thoughts so deeply in their festering minds to convince themselves of victory and Mydianchlarus of their fealty. Their thoughts were like open books to the fiend who stood in their midst as the conspicuous inferior. Irony that deserved bloodshed in due time…


    ***


    Clueless sat alone in the darkness of his room and pondered over his memories that had returned to him at the prodding of the Ciphers’ former factol. It was getting late but he’d already been sitting there next to his window, staring out into space as the light outside had first dimmed and then finally died down to be replaced with the glow of lamplight and sorcery through the haze. Nothing more had sprung to his mind as he’d been sitting there, but key parts of his past were still locked up tightly and before he ran running off to the Styx Oarsman he wanted to know just who it was that was pulling on his strings, and how.

    It was that need to know that now had the bladesinger opening the small golden vessel he had taken from the dead former factor of the Incantifers and dipping his index finger into the thick, syrupy liquid inside that fairly hummed with latent magical potential. He rubbed a single drop of the material between two fingers and concentrated, blindly attempting to call forth some spell effect that he knew some mages used to search through the past of a place, person, or concept.

    The Legend Lore spell sprang forth in his mind, rushed through his body, and burned in his blood like a potent drug as the magic unleashed itself and violently ripped through the remaining holds upon his memories. Given the nature of the substance, not that Clueless truly understood what it was, that there was resistance at all should have been a harrowing thought. But, an indeterminate time later as he regained consciousness, the spell returned and he slipped into his own memories.


    The chamber was pitch black and cold, but all around was the sense of something that was alive. The tower in Carceri, built from untold millions of still living petitioners in constant agony. Clueless was inside it, held motionless and floating in the air by some unseen force while his two companions hung likewise beside him.

    Two figures stepped out of the shadows just out of Clueless’s line of sight, Vorkannis the Ebon, Lord of the Tower of Incarnate Pain, and walking with him, strolling into the chamber on his arm was a female arcanaloth, Shemeska the Marauder. She was dressed in a skintight gown that seemed to have been cut from the still supple hide of an immature silver dragon and she might as well have been poured into the dress given its cut. As she stood beside The Ebon, they were a play of opposites both in gender and with her bright copper fur contrasting readily with the sable color of his own.

    “These three should satisfy our needs? All but dropped into our collective laps. This has been a guilty pleasure to so violently screw them over when they came to me in good faith. Alas.” She smiled demurely and placed a hand over her breast as she laughed and walked over towards the three captives as they hung suspended and senseless in the air.

    “I’ll admit I find the elf attractive as far as mortals go. I think I shall select him as mine.” Shemeska smiled and ran her fingertips across the cleric’s chest.

    The Ebon turned to her and smirked, “The godslave is already spoken for, select from one of the other two as you wish and Helekanalaith will take the remaining.”

    She paused and sneered, “Feh, don’t be so petty as to deny me something simply because you can. I’m not under any pretense of equal partnership here, simply being conspirators, but why not?”

    The Ebon gestured in the air to summon forth a trio of gleaming blue gems that hovered above their intended hosts, then he turned back to The Marauder. “I appreciate the irony of controlling the cleric as my own puppet, and the decision was made far in advance. But besides, if you find him attractive and you’re in such dire need of something to f***, you’ve always got the friendly one in Sigil already…”

    “Son of b****…” Shemeska spat like she’d tasted something vile and glared at The Ebon who was chuckling at her expense.

    “Take what you’re given, the others are hardly of lesser quality. I could have made insinuations involving you and a Goristro, but I didn’t… shall we begin?” Vorkannis sneered as he walked over towards the Bladesinger, the half-fey’s body placed between himself and The Marauder.

    “Very well Vorkannis, this one shall serve well. I gave you an answer to your question; now prepare me this tool and you’ll have your results…” The fiendess said as she floated over towards Clueless and waved at his face as she snickered at the conflicting emotions of rage and fright that surged through his face despite the magical constraints on his body.

    “The memory blocks will fall into place as soon as the orb is implanted, though certain portions I’ve chosen to simply erase. Let’s leave the fool wondering which memories are true and which are fabricated. Weave those as you wish.” The Ebon’s eyes glowed in the darkness as he gestured to three Nycaloths who stood in the shadows of the room’s periphery.

    “The rest of it is set up and should fall into place within the week, though I may procure a few more patsies in case any of them die or I think it needed. More toys to play with at the very least…” She said with barely constrained delight before she turned to look at Clueless and run the back of her hand, painted claws and all, down his cheek like a valued pet.

    “Didn’t I tell you that there was no deal that Shemeska the Marauder couldn’t make? That all that mattered was the price to pay?” She smiled and leaned down till her lips nearly graced the bladesinger’s face and her whiskers tickled at his throat like lesser versions of the razorvine tiara curled atop her head.

    “Payment is due…” Came Vorkannis’s harsh whisper into the half-fey’s ear as he released the magical constraints and the bladesinger screamed as he was hurled and pinned down to a hard stone surface by a trio of Nycaloths at The Ebon’s direction. And as the Archfiend implanted the glowing gemstone into his ankle without concern or care for the blood and pain involved, all Clueless could hear ringing in his ears was the mocking laughter of The Marauder through it all, doubly so when she was handed a smaller stone to match the one buried deep within his leg.

    Even magically amplified and recreated the rest of the memories were a blur of agony filled with the screams of his companions as they too underwent the same torture as he. Through it all were the distant wail of petitioners that made up the tower and the snickering fiendish laughter of their tormentors. The last remnant of the memory was the voice of The Ebon snarling to one of the Nycaloths as he pointed to Clueless, “Take this and dump it in Hopeless, everything beyond that is arranged, you know what to do.”

    The memory of the pain flushed Clueless back to the present and he slumped against his mattress, exhausted from the recollection of the past. It was not a pleasant thing at all, not with what it brought to light regarding the jewel deep within his ankle and the personage that lurked behind it.

    “B****, you’ve been playing me for a fool this entire time…” Clueless said as he glanced down warily at the gem…


    ***


    Florian and Toras sat in the tap room of the Portal Jammer watching curiously as Tristol first set up the pieces and then began to teach them both the rudimentary basics of a game of wizards’ chess. The mage was smiling as he set up the board, happy to have two enthusiastic beginners to teach the game to; that and having more people to play with was an added bonus he wasn’t about to turn down.

    At the moment, Fyrehowl was out at the Great Gymnasium and Skalliska was off doing whatever it was that kobolds did when you yet them out. Probably stealing from gnomes or something like that. But Tristol’s attempts at teaching his two new eager students were abruptly put on hold as Nisha waltzed through the front door of the inn towards the stairs to the second floor. Tristol’s eyes followed the tiefling as she walked past whistling and her tail swinging, and jingling with a small silver bell tied to its tip.

    Florian commented first, “So what’s up with the new jewelry and everything?” He pointed to the half a dozen bracelets, necklaces and earrings the rogue was sporting, as well as the fact that she was dressed in a new suit of overly tight leather armor. The latter was not at all lost on Tristol who was suddenly smiling much more so than from his chance at teaching wizards chess which was rapidly slipping from his mind.

    Nisha grinned like a fool and pointed down to where her hooves were sparkling with a golden shine from what seemed to be a pair of golden horseshoes tacked onto her feet. She was also hovering around an inch off the floor. “My boyfriend was really good to me today.”

    While the tiefling giggled and jangled the bell on the tip of her tail, Florian raised an eyebrow. “You’re boyfriend huh? So when will we get to meet this fellow?”

    Tristol was trying hard not to gawk, but was failing miserably. He was saved by the fact that Nisha’s attention span was probably less than most species of fruit flies, and if she’d noticed him staring it probably simply slipped her mind.

    “Hmm? Who?” Nisha asked, twirling a new ring around her finger.

    “Your boyfriend?” Toras asked with some skepticism.

    “My what? I don’t hav… oh… him! Yeah…. Um… you wouldn’t know him.” The tiefling stammered.

    “No no, not who is he, but when do we get to meet him?” Florian asked again.

    “Uh…at some point in the indefinite future?” She asked while her tail, bell and all, curled into the rough shape of a question mark.

    “Riiiight. So who’d you bob for all the new stuff?” Florian asked with a grin.

    “Nobody! It was my new boyfriend who got it all for me, in a manner of speaking.” She was getting more flustered by the moment.

    “Ah, a new boyfriend he is now. And a ‘manner of speaking’? Hmm…” Florian said as Nisha stuck out her tongue and darted upstairs to her own room to avoid any further questions.

    “Tristol you’re liable to drool if you don’t stop staring. It’s cute and all, but she’s already taken I think. And the boy’s got jink too by the looks of it.” Florian said as Toras reached over to poke the aasimar who still had a goofy smile on his face. Tristol composed himself again and started going over the opening move of wizards chess, but the whole time Toras and Florian were glancing at each other then at Tristol, more amused by his apparent fancy to the thief than at the game.


    ***

    It was dark when Clueless slunk out of the Portal Jammer towards to Lower Ward and the Styx Oarsman. In fact he hadn’t told any of his companions that he was going there, in his mind it would have raised too many questions and possibly led to them worrying about his trustworthiness. After all, he had a bitch of a fiend using him like a puppet, apparently at her fickle little whim.

    It all seemed like a plan and it all seemed to have gone off without a hitch till he was three blocks from the establishment and a familiar voice whispered into his right ear, and a soft jingle of bell rung out.

    “We need to get you to work on this whole sneaking around thing. You’re not quite as good as you think…” Nisha sounded far too chipper.

    Clueless paused and sighed, “How long have you been following me?”

    “Since I went downstairs to make a snack and saw you slip out the front door? I got curious and I didn’t have anything better to do. Besides, factol Darius was getting on my nerves, and factol Sarin was threatening to have me arrested if I didn’t ‘behave in an orderly fashion’. Can you blame me?”

    “Alright… this is sort of personal though. Promise not to tell anyone else if you stick with me tonight?” Clueless said with some seriousness.

    “No problem, Xaositect’s honor.” Nisha said with a jingle of the bell on her tail. But, despite the happy go lucky tone of her voice, she seemed serious enough about keeping Clueless’s trust on the matter and so he didn’t complain as she tailed along with him right up to the door of the Styx Oarsman.

    “Ugg… you sure you want to go in there? The beer is nasty and they threaten to eat you if you steal from them…” Nisha frowned as she looked up at the building whose walls were somewhat yellowed by the persistent smog of the Ward and spattered in a few places with the stains of old bar fights, magical scorches, and spilt food and alcohol. Otherwise, it seemed well kept for a fiend bar.

    “Yeah, I’m certain I want to go in there. I was there the other night, just not quite as myself… and I may have sold one of my old companions into slavery in the process, as well as handing over all those maps we got from the mercane into the hands of that Nycaloth who got flayed the other day…”

    Nisha’s ears perked at the mention of Garroth the Blind, “Yeah… speaking of him… well, tell you tomorrow, the doorman is looking at us weird.”

    True enough the muscular tiefling who stood outside the door of the bar was staring at the two of them with what appeared to be a silver wrapped club with a flared end. As the two of them approached the doorman sneered and lowered the ‘club’, actually a dwarven or gnomish blunderbuss, at Clueless and looked at Nisha.

    “Fiends only. You can head on in honey.” Clearly the man was enjoying his job.

    Nisha stepped closer up to him, took out a small package from her satchel and pressed it towards his hand, "How about he comes in with me? I promise he won't be too much trouble. How about it?"

    Clueless gave the slightest of a head tilt as he watched the doorman’s response to the idea, keeping his hands off his sword hilt. Nisha smiled with utter innocence as she then ran her tail across the underside of his hand as he took the package and examined their contents. Rolling out into his open hand were what appeared to be a collection of marked silver balls and small packages of gray powder with a slight acrid smell.

    He grinned and pocketed the bribe, stepping to the side, his eyes lingering on Nisha’s backside as he opened the door. Clueless nodded to him as he walked past, “Thanks…” murmured dryly as he walked in on Nisha’s heels. For her part she did her best to ignore the rude stares she was getting from the tiefling with the gun.

    As the door opened, the acrid smell of pipe smoke, alcohol, and unwashed fiends assaulted their nostrils, seeming to permeate the foul air. The bar was dark, save for a few candles on one or two of the tables that dotted the floor of the taproom. Their eyes quickly adjusted however, looking out at the glittering irises of a number of fiends, almost uniformly Tanar'ri, nursing drinks.

    Clueless scanned the place on alert for the person he recognized from his memories of the event, he was also keenly on alert for any faces that seemed to recognize *him*. While he didn’t immediately see the old githzerai, Rule-Of-Three, he did see a number of persons of note scattered amongst the forty odd patrons that populated the taproom. The owner of the establishment, a shriveled looking githzerai Bleaker by the name of Egonz Vlaric who stood behind the bar, washing glasses, and the bright green quasit sitting next to him on a perch behind the bar who actually seemed to the be the one running things for its mentally numbed ‘master’.

    To the rear of the chamber, a hydroloth, a hezrou, and a green slaadi sat at the same table near the back of the room by the far exit; and, leaning against the stairs up to the second floor, a cambion dressed in a rainbow colored, garish outfit, and a hulking mezzoloth nearly three times his size stood next to him keenly watching the patrons. Clueless made mental note of the two bouncers by the stairs as he took a seat next to Nisha at an empty table.

    Clueless tried to stay calm and relaxed, letting himself slip into that dangerously alert mindset that presaged the beginning of the bladesong as he stayed alert for any signs of being watched at that point. He was just as alert for warning signals from his ankle as well, not that if it activated on him he’d have much of a choice in the matter…

    Taking note of Clueless, the cambion started to walk over towards him and Nisha, though the hulking Mezzoloth stayed put near the stairs. Clueless noted him but otherwise tried to act like he was supposed to be there as Nisha walked back to sit down next to him with two drinks.

    “So, you little s***licker, what the f*** are you doing back here so soon?” The cambion sauntered over and spoke as he stuck a booted foot up on the table. Clueless could only mentally think, ‘F***, I pissed off the bouncer here? Damn…’

    “Oh I'm just here to see if the scenery improved..." Clueless said in that way that's not an insult, but might be taken as one.

    Nisha looked up at him too, "I see YOU haven't changed a bit, as ‘colorful’ as ever…" She rolled her eyes at him.

    He chuckled but left his foot up on the table, "So what did you actually come here for? The clientele may take a shine to at least one of you eventually, and I'd like to keep the peace, if not any order to the place."

    "I'm interested in talking to some of the folks I was in here last with actually, if you've seen them around." Clueless said, still trying to act as if he was in exactly the place he was supposed to be.

    The ‘Colorful Cambion’ took his foot off the table and crossed his arms, "Selling her this time? Busy boy. But lets see, Garroth is dead, Schliphis is over there…” He said, pointing to the table with the slaadi, tanar’ri and hydroloth, “and Rule of Three is upstairs."

    Clueless glanced over at the table and took note of them before he nodded back to the bouncer, "Thanks."

    The cambion hung around for a few minutes, chattering with Nisha, hitting on her but not getting anywhere. The tiefling played along but wasn’t giving anything away certainly, in any sense of the word. Eventually the bouncer wandered off as a Vrock several tables down tried to eat the face off of a rutterkin sitting next to it.

    Clueless gave a low chuckle at the vrock then shook his head and looked at Nisha "Well, you up to playing along with this one?" He gave the slightest tilt of his chin in the hydroloth's direction.

    Nisha looked up at him, "Tell you one thing I do know." She leaned in and whispered, "Now, I wouldn't work with them, for a number of reasons, but they're called the 3 Toads, and they run a fencing business, a good one. But they've got ties to somebody else’s purse, and I don't care to speculate on whose it is. I have my own people and I don't have to worry about them randomly eating me."

    Nisha rose to get up from the table, "But I'm right behind you if you're going over there."

    Clueless gave a low laugh "Well, I'm curious what I sold them in particular..." The statement was muttered but he nodding to Nisha and stretched for a half moment before getting up and heading in the direction of the 3 Toads, making it look like a casual stroll as best he could.

    The two of them walked over to the rear of the bar as the mezzoloth bouncer walked past them both abruptly and they heard a dull thud from a few feet behind as something hit the floor with a pronounced crash. Looking back, the vrock was laying motionless on the floor, the 'loth standing over it with the blunt end of a green steel glaive aimed at the other tanar'ri's head while the cambion began motioning the other patrons to ignore it and go back to their drinks.

    Clueless looked sharply over his shoulder since Nisha was right behind him after all, a slight rise of his eyebrow before he shrugged and turned his attention back to the Toads. As he walked up to their table, in unison all three of them looked up at him.

    The Slaadi looks up and spoke first, "Doing you are how? Us with business more?" The hydroloth was eyeing them very warily and the hezrou was looking bored and off in another direction entirely.

    The bladesinger gave a wry smile, not really reassuring but a little creepy, "I'm doing fine... I was curious how you'd found the deal last time to be?"

    The 'loth looked up at him and hushed the Slaadi who promptly started playing with a crack in the table, pouring ale into it, and muttering in little voices about a big flood washing folks away...

    "There was no deal last time. You just...." Schliphis narrowed her eyes and clammed up abruptly, a look of suspicion crossing her features.

    The Hezrou looked over, and while eying Nisha, then Clueless, she spoke up, "Talk to my boy Rule of Three, he's more talkative than Schliphis.”

    Nisha gave an uncomfortable look at the mention of Rule of Three, but otherwise she didn’t say a word.

    "I just what?" Clueless questioned the ‘loth who only stared back at him, a bit of uncertainly playing across her face.

    "Take his advice and talk to Rule of Three, I shouldn't say anything more. I follow what I'm told just like you did." She said, the fiendish stonewall very much falling into place.

    Clueless stared hard at the ‘loth for a moment, then nodded, "Deals can always be made... I will let you think on that."

    Having said that, he jerked his chin at Nisha to follow him. She panned her eyes back around the room and then fell into place behind him, “Whatever you say…”

    The two of them headed towards the stairs and neither the Mezzoloth nor the cambion made any move to block them from walking up to the second story where a single open door faced the railing around the border of the awning surrounding the taproom. Through the doorway a single, wizened githzerai sat at a table nursing a trio of drinks.

    Nisha stood by the door, letting Clueless enter first, though she let her gaze wander down to the taproom below and the puzzled, and wary expression that played across the face of the hydroloth whose gaze lingered on Clueless and her as they entered Rule of Three’s office.

    The githzerai looked up from his drinks, looking for the most part calm and unsurprised, "Three toads there, three of us, they talk much."

    "And three of us to the table, if ye will instead of four." Clueless replied.

    Rule of Three smiled serenely and gestured for his guests to both sit, "What to discuss?"

    As Clueless sat down he pulling out the three gold ingots from the mercane’s treasury and arranged them in front of the gith in a triangle, lightly tapping them in a circular fashion.

    "My price paid, I take it, speak with me."

    Clueless repeated the circle, making it look idle, twice more, "Curiosity runs high. I am ignorant, of past dealings."

    Rule of Three sipped his drink three times, slowly, then looked back up, "You arrived here at this inn, we spoke, but WE did not speak."

    Another three sips, "Gold, a friend, and betrayal."

    The githzerai tapped his index finger on the ingots three times each, "But was it betrayal, or forced upon you both, by gems and others?"

    Clueless replied, "... forced upon myself and him, there are three of us as such, and *I* do seek them."

    "You sold him, but not all, took something too." The gith smiled and continued, "Garroth the Blind, now dead, was here as well." A second smile and he continued once more, "Schliphis the toad, took from you, what you took from the elf." A third smile and a last statement, "A gem, blue, black."

    Clueless swallowed slightly and nodded, "The elf no longer carries it?"

    "Yes, perhaps, no", Rule of Three shrugged and pointed at the bladesinger, "But, that was not our deal. We discussed only the sale of the elf. He was valuable, in the right places, to the right buyers."

    Clueless nodded and the gith continued more, "Missing more than a stone you left him, without freedom, and without memories."

    Clueless took a slow breath and queried Rule of Three, "... was he the only I have sold as such?"

    "Yes for now."

    He nodded back, "Where is he, for how much, to what fate?"

    "To Tanar'ri slavers, 30,000 jinx, and to fight the Baatezu on the Waste.” The githzerai smiled as he sipped his drink, displaying rows of yellowed, crooked teeth.

    Clueless gritted his teeth almost to a grind before asking another question, “Price of return?”

    "That is no longer possible, I serve as only the arranger of deals, not the owner." He tapped the ingots, "I can however tell you where the elf was sent by portal to meet with his new owners. That is free. Words come cheaply."

    "Gratitude as well." Clueless responded quickly.

    "Death of Innocence." The gith replied.

    Clueless seemed confused, "Hold meaning to you, not to me… to you?" He said, looking at Nisha. The tiefling shrugged three times before the gith answered again.

    "Niflheim, the second of three glooms, a shelter from the waste...", He smiled with sage-like wisdom that yet seemed malevolent despite the aid he was providing. And a moment later he continued, “Near the realm of Annwn, it staves off the gray gloom, but none know why."

    "Know you more?" Clueless asked.

    "Little more, I do not ask questions when yugoloths are at fault, they repulse me." He paused and drank a draught of firewine, "But to their face do I say that? Perhaps. No."

    Clueless gave a soft grin as he nodded, "I do not like them, find myself bound to them, and wish free of them..." The tone of his voice was one of agreement more so than prodding.

    Rule of Three smirked, "As all would." He inclined his head and said once more, "Ties bind tight, reigns not loose, contracts upon contracts." He then leaned backwards and whispered, more to himself, “But not forever…”

    Clueless nodded in agreement - silent for the moment as he took a breath and digested the information. Nisha had remained largely silent and uneasy the entire time. She knew more about Rule of Three than Clueless apparently did, prime among her knowledge being that the elderly githzerai was anything but what he appeared to be, and he frightened her terribly…

    Finally, Clueless asked one other question, "Words are easy, explanations maybe too, wheels within wheels?"

    "That means nothing to me. The term is unfamiliar. To you perhaps not." Rule of Three shrugged honestly. "Portal to the Waste in the Lower Ward, ask the mezzoloth, the yugoloth traitor."

    Clueless and Nisha both blinked slightly and their eyebrows went up at the statement as Rule of Three continued, "He lives for now, they allow him, not forever though if even Garroth is expendable."

    Rule of Three collected his payment off to somewhere behind the table and asked a question of his own, "Garroth was said a traitor or deserter as well. True? False?"

    "Unknown…" Clueless said after a brief pause "... traitors may be higher, or none at all. I know not."

    "Finished? More to speak? Or no?" The githzerai asked, looking to Clueless and then to Nisha, standing perhaps to leave to other business himself.

    "For now, none. Later visit perhaps. Meanwhile... thank you." Clueless said as he pondered his next course of action and he and Nisha stood to leave quickly.

    "Indeed. Certainly. Farewell." Rule of Three whispered, his eyes vaguely trailing down to the gem that was lurking hidden behind the bladesinger’s pant leg and boot.

    And, perhaps in a prescient moment of luck, the owner of the other half of the gem in Clueless’s leg was occupied with other things and, for the moment, unaware of her errant toy’s actions. Not that it would have much mattered to her anyways, he was, after all, only a single cog in the turning of the Wheels and her prize was far more important than any chance of his gaining his freedom. If nothing else it would only prolong his torment before she ultimately disposed of him after he lost his utility, but such was an afterthought as she carried out her own portions of The Ebon’s vision.
    Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 25th September, 2004 at 02:57 AM.

  • #225
    Excellent way to render Rule-Of-Three's convoluted speaking style. I'll have to try to work him into my own game now -- that sounds like too much fun to play.

    How would/did you deal with your players trying to circumvent this plot twist? I mean, if I were Clueless's player, I'd right away be either a) searching for or commissioning a wearable magic item with a continuous Protection From Evil effect, or b) looking for a good-aligned cleric willing to cast Regeneration on me immediately after a friend hacks off my leg at the shin. No way I'd still be walking around with that thing in more than half a session after I learned what it did.

    Players are such contrary things.

    Miscellaneous edits: The second sentence of the first paragraph is a run-on. Last sentence of "Two figures stepped out of the shadows..." paragraph is seriously confused, pronoun-wise. Can't tell whose pelt is whose.

  • #226
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    I'm remarkably... nice. That and to be honest I grew up in Shadowrun - I *know* what a ticked off crimelord is like. If I'm going to take that gem out - I've got to take it out in such a way that she won't send people after me. (I still have it in my leg even now, but there's other reasons for that.)

    Considering that we now know who made it... Prot Evil probably wouldn't be powerful enough a spell to disrupt the effect.
    Last edited by Clueless; Saturday, 25th September, 2004 at 02:32 AM.
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  • #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fimmtiu
    Excellent way to render Rule-Of-Three's convoluted speaking style. I'll have to try to work him into my own game now -- that sounds like too much fun to play.
    Fun yes. Nightmarishly hard yes. Both Clueless and I did that meeting with Ro3 over an AIM chat. All I did was transcribe it into story format, but the dialogue is the same as when we did it on the fly.

    How would/did you deal with your players trying to circumvent this plot twist? I mean, if I were Clueless's player, I'd right away be either a) searching for or commissioning a wearable magic item with a continuous Protection From Evil effect, or b) looking for a good-aligned cleric willing to cast Regeneration on me immediately after a friend hacks off my leg at the shin. No way I'd still be walking around with that thing in more than half a session after I learned what it did.
    I'm rather amazed this plot hook worked as long as it did. Other plot hooks lasted even longer, though they havn't sprung up in the story yet and won't for a while.

    What Clueless said. He put up with it till he could find out what he'd fallen into fully, and till he could nullify it without risking her sending something or someone after him (like say, Adamok Ebon, her pet bladeling who has been ever so fun in that threatened capacity over the two years of this game...).

    Eventually antimagic field came into play whenever he wanted to be certain that he was alone in his head without any lurkers. However, the 'hack the leg off' idea was considered briefly if I recall, especially once the others found out what the heck the thing was.

    Miscellaneous edits: The second sentence of the first paragraph is a run-on. Last sentence of "Two figures stepped out of the shadows..." paragraph is seriously confused, pronoun-wise. Can't tell whose pelt is whose.
    1st one I have little to no idea how to rectify that, thus it stays.
    2nd one I worked on a tad, hopefully it's better.

    I've had little to no time to actually proofread this update before posting it, hopefully it doesn't show too badly. Grammer is not my friend.

  • #228
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    "His tower, the symbol of his rule and the centerpiece of Yugoloth accomplishment, rose up out of the forsaken earth like a bloated fungal blight. Watered by the Styx and grown fat on the marrow of the dead god whose spine it was carved from, it was nearly forty miles in length all said and done."
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  • #229
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    My communities:

    Great update!

    As long as we're grammar-nazifying:
    While the tiefling giggled and jangled the bell on the tip of her tail, Florian raised an eyebrow. “You’re boyfriend huh? So when will we get to meet this fellow?”
    Indeed, if Nisha is a boyfriend now, I understand Florian's raising of an eyebrow.

  • #230
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clueless
    "His tower, the symbol of his rule and the centerpiece of Yugoloth accomplishment, rose up out of the forsaken earth like a bloated fungal blight. Watered by the Styx and grown fat on the marrow of the dead god whose spine it was carved from, it was nearly forty miles in length all said and done."
    Maybe it's just me, but I get the sense that he was compensating for something
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