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Thursday, 21st October, 2004, 10:52 PM #281
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by Dakkareth
Last edited by Shemeska; Thursday, 21st October, 2004 at 10:57 PM.
Friday, 22nd October, 2004, 12:27 AM #282
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Speaking of things to while about. Or that you'll make up for us... *proceeds to pester regarding a *very* long ToDo list.* And good luck with the thesis stuff....
Last edited by Clueless; Friday, 22nd October, 2004 at 12:49 AM.
Saturday, 23rd October, 2004, 01:47 AM #283
Lack of updates? Bah. I updated Monday and you'll have another one on Friday.
But Planescape: Torment, while impeded by the mechanics, is wonderfully done and serves to fill my holidays
And good luck with the thesis stuff....
Saturday, 23rd October, 2004, 03:47 AM #284
Superhero (Lvl 15)
With the turning of Wheels
“This letter was left for you, though I’m afraid I didn’t see who brought it in. There isn’t a name on the envelope either.” The head of the serving staff said as she handed Florian a sealed envelope.
“Oh? Addressed to me?” The cleric asked.
“Oh, no sir, it was addressed to all of you.”
“Really?” Florian raised an eyebrow as he walked into the back room with the others.
“Just as long as it’s not a ransom note for Nisha and Clueless I’ll be fine with it. Bills, less so. And another offer to buy the inn, that goes right to the fire portal…” Toras said.
The envelope was simply marked to ‘The Owners of the Portal Jammer’ and contained a single short letter and a map. Fyrehowl sniffed at the air as the letter was unfolded and placed on the tabletop for all to read.
“Him again.” The lupinal said before the letter was fully laid out.
The letter read: “Greetings my past collaborators and may I once again congratulate you on a job well done from when last we saw fit to work with each other. While two of your companions are off rushing headlong into the Gray Waste on errands of their own, I have information for you that should perk your interest severely. I am aware that you wish to investigate certain… trade routes… mentioned by the Imshenviir mercane, as well as their shipments to ‘alleviate hunger’ there in Elysium’s layer of Belarian. I have information relating to this that may be vital to you, and once again this appears to be a case of mutual interest. Meet me in the ruins of the Temple of Eternal Darkness in UnderSigil at antipeak this evening.”
The letter was signed ‘The Cheshire Fiend’ and emblazoned with the triple circled symbol of the Wheels Within Wheels. The map gave a rough route down into the sewers, tunnels, and warrens below the streets of Sigil to a point and instructions to ‘follow the trail of silver’.
Fyrehowl looked up at the group, “As much as I know I really shouldn’t trust a self admitted fiend who arguably used us once already to set up an assassination, I’m worried about what may or may not be going on in my home plane. If he has information that I can pass on to the lord of Rubicon, I need to find out at least what he has to say and then judge it from there.”
“I’ll have to agree with you, as much as I don’t trust him as far as I could throw him.” Toras said.
“…you could probably throw him halfway across the room without really trying. That cliché really doesn’t work for someone built like you Toras…” Skalliska said with a smirk.
Toras smiled, “But I really trust you Skalliska. Shall we find out just how much?”
Skalliska huffed slightly as the half celestial flexed a bicep for a moment before Tristol interjected. “Has anyone here ever actually heard of the place he’s asking us to meet him at?”
There was silence all around before the kobold answered, if tentatively and with a pause in her voice. “I’ve never been there, it’s too close for my comfort to some rumored cranium rat hives and a few unmapped catacombs of unknown origin, definitely not Dustie. However, it was supposed to have been a Yugoloth stronghold within Sigil itself that they used to spy on the dreams of Sigil’s residents.”
Florian was about to ask a question before Skalliska cut her off, “And no, I don’t have a clue how they could do that. Some artifact or some such they were said to have. However the whole place was nearly demolished and then abandoned in the final days of the Faction War. At least that’s what I heard.”
“From this letter I wouldn’t be so sure that it was ever abandoned.” Tristol mused.
Clueless and Nisha hovered and looked at the massive monolith that dominated their view of the plane around them. Nisha glanced off at the horizon and pointed towards the walled city that lay several miles away.
“Well… we’re close enough to see Center…”, she said before motioning back at the monolith, “But whatever that thing is, it scragged my teleport.”
Clueless nodded, “…good enough then I guess. Maybe it’s some form of protection for the city?”
“Well, that’s no form of infernal that I’ve ever seen.” Nisha said as she pointed to the bizarre and glowing runes carved into its surface. “In fact, I’ve never seen any language even close to that, and I speak 6…”
Clueless peered at the runes on the obelisk closely, "You’re right, I’ve never seen it either.... I'm thinking we just shouldn't mess with it huh?"
“Sound’s good to me, it's something to ask Tristol or Skalliska about certainly.”
Clueless nodded, "Definitely."
Nisha took out a pen and started modifying her map of the Waste. As she concentrated on the map, Clueless watched with concern as the monolith began to hum just below audible range. But, while not hearing anything, he felt it vibrate through the thin membranes of his wings and he could feel the ground shaking, sending little trails running through the dust. As that occurred, the runes on the stone began to shift from red to blue and Clueless felt a wave of negative emotions rushing outwards from them like a tidal wave of crushing despair orders of magnitude worse than the normal misery of the Gray Waste.
“Um… Nisha? Uh oh…” He hastily blurted out as he reached over to grab hold of the tiefling, “…fly time.”
“Eeeep!” Nisha said with a squeal as Clueless burst into the air with her at his side while he tried to gain distance between themselves and the monolith.
Looking back at the stone spike rising up from the Waste like a headstone in the multiverse’s graveyard of morality, the runes seemed to be pulsing, almost like they were written upon a living being’s heart. The emotional agony melted away as the two grew further and further away from the stone, the emotional draining of the Waste seeming to retreat as the monolith grew more and more distant. Eventually, when they were approximately a mile away from the obelisk, it vanished, like desert mirage into a haze, and then was gone without a trace, swallowed up by the Waste.
“Disappearing monolith… fun fun…” Clueless said. Whatever the stone spire was, he felt a lingering dread at having seen it, and also that in some way it was something that was best left unseen and untouched.
Over the next few hours Clueless and Nisha approached to within twenty or so miles of the city of Center, making good time on a combination of the half-fey’s wings and a spell of expeditious retreat. Growing closer to the city they noticed a great flurry of activity on the ground that surrounded the city, though Center was more properly a fortified, iron walled citadel than it was a city. Death of Innocence was a city full of refugees; Center was, in great contrast to that safe haven, a gigantic mercenary camp.
While it was likely more of a trade city proper months or weeks prior, Center was currently surrounded by a sprawling mass of tent cities still popping up around the walls with masses of figures from dozens of races going through combat training. Scattered about they could also see mages here and there practicing spells and fiends marching about between the mercenary camps and the city itself which seemed as if it could barely hold the numbers straining to fit within its steel shod walls.
While Clueless and Nisha approached Center from its Niffleheim side, as the city had one side bordering on each of the three layers of the Waste, there was a massive contingent of Yugoloths camped outside the Pluton approach of the walls. They seemed to be keeping a safe distance from Center, however there was a large amount of foot traffic between their camp and many of the mercenary camps sprawling for miles around; recruiting…
Clueless hissed through his teeth briefly at the sight of the ‘loths as he looked for any visible night hags. Looking down the bladesinger noticed a few figures that might have been hags, each of them herding larvae and looking like they were selling them to the fiendish mercenaries, but having no luck selling them to the ‘loths.
Continuing to fly towards the city, they were within two miles of the gates, and they were not the only persons flying towards or around the city. A good number of Alu-Fiends and some cambions were flying above the ground clutter simply to avoid it and expedite their own travels, and near the Pluton gate there was a wizard or sorcerer with wings of flame, but they appeared to be the result of a spell and not a natural gift.
“Well,” Clueless said as he and Nisha looked for a spot to land, preferably a spot where people seemed to be registering or entering the city proper.
“Not the Pluton side please…” Nisha pleaded, “Fewer Yugoloth the better…”
Slowing his speed to a milling hover, they looked down at the city itself. The Yugoloths did have a large amount of traffic and there was a grandiose palace at the center of the city. The town was split into three distinct, separate sections, one of them being fully walled off from the other two, the Oinos bordering section of the city, likely to quarantine that portion of Center to avoid spreading the occasional plague from the Waste’s first layer into the other two sections of the populace.
After some deliberation between Nisha and himself, Clueless landed within one of the few open areas leading up to the Niffleheim bordering gate of the city. Mercenaries of nearly every lower planar race were passing by, to and from the city and their own contingents and companies surrounding the city. Nisha looked distinctly uncomfortable but followed along after Clueless, one hand on her sword. The bladesinger as well had loosened the wrappings on his own blade, Razor, so that in the event of a confrontation he could draw it easily.
While it took some time to work their way up to the gates, there were really no guards to speak of, no tax to enter the city, and no carts or wagons being checked. There was no security whatsoever, the encamped armies of Yugoloth allied mercenaries and the Pluton based ‘loth army that numbered well over a few hundred thousand was likely enough to dissuade any but the insane from causing anything above a drunken knife fight. However as the two walked through the open gates and into Center’s Niffleheim district, a man was shouting out that travel to the Oinos side of the town was restricted, requiring teleportation in, and a two day enforced quarantine to exit back to the rest of the city. Likely it was both for plague prevention, and that one half of the Yugoloth conflict was based on Oinos while the other side was firmly entrenched in Pluton; being that Mydianchlarus had personal command over the plagues of Oinos, it was likely that both precautions were tied together intimately…
Once they had passed by the gates it seemed that on each street corner there were posted signs directing new mercenaries to register for employment with the Yugoloth recruiters at the palace at the center of Center. Clueless kept his eyes peeled for anyone who might look like they’d be good and open to ask directions or locations. The half-fey also retracted his wings since he didn't want to risk some clueless yelling ‘Eladrin!’, pointing at him, and starting a massive riot.
“And where’s Kylie’s folks when you need them?” Nisha quipped as they passed a group of hooded Reaves and a cluster of fiend-touched lizardmen marching opposite them.
“Somehow I doubt that they have touts here Nisha.” Clueless replied as they walked further into the city.
The city streets rapidly branched out in a multitude of directions, all of them packed with people of every stripe, prime or lower planar, all of them. On some streets they passed the occasional random fight or brawl, all of them seeming to be on the law/chaos axis between Tanar’ri spawn and Baatezu spawned mortals. On the side of the street they passed a wild haired man in black robes who was alternately chanting and shouting out to passersby.
“The glory of the lower planes be unto Anthraxus! He shall reclaim his seat upon the Wasting Tower and the false lord shall be cast down to true death and so too to all those who support him!”
Of those who filled the streets along with Clueless and Nisha, no one seemed to be blinking at the crazed man’s statements, in fact the crowd actually seemed to support him, as he received cheers of approval from a large number of the mercenaries passing by. Clueless inhaled deeply at the whole matter and thought to himself that yes indeed, he certainly knew which side of the conflict Center and its inhabitants were on…
Some fifteen blocks away from the center of the city the area was filled with mostly inns, buildings converted to armor and weapons repair and making shops, wizards hawking their services, and everything else a sellsword might want, including the omnipresent brothels and whorehouses that were catering to persuasion and species one might imagine possible.
Nisha poked Clueless in the ribs, “Why do I have the wonderful feeling we'll eventually need to talk to a 'loth...”
"Cause we probably will..." He replied darkly, "Typical."
“Lead on, I'm following, and I really don't want to be alone in this crowd. It could be ugly if I run into any of these mercenaries drunk... though ten pounds of smokepowder will do wonders to clear a space in a crowd....” Nisha said as she patted her satchel with a loving smile.
"I'll have to... you have!?" Clueless gave a startled look at her before shaking his head.
The tiefling just grinned and patted her satchel again, “Antimagic field? What antimagic field?”
"Riiight." Clueless said as he smirked. "Well, lets go find us this Hag."
Several blocks more of wandering drew them closer to the palace and Clueless and Nisha continued looking for either any night hags or anyone who looked like they might be able to help them find her. While they didn’t find any hags, they did notice a number of tieflings wandering about who seemed like wandering recruiters. All of them wore a green and black uniform and they all seemed to be canvassing the people newly arrived to the city.
One of the tieflings approached the pair as they headed in his direction. The male tiefling, spiky hair and all, looked at the pair and smiled as he addressed them, “Looking for employment in the coming war? I can direct you to the right place.”
Clueless smiled back while Nisha tried to look normal, "...actually we're looking for someone. A night hag by the name of Marian Ravelsdotter."
The recruiter furrowed his brow and thought about the name for a moment. “I wouldn't know, but if she's signed up, she'd be on record with the scribes at the palace. That's where Palinarus is handling the entire recruitment effort before shipping out troops to Pluton to meet up with the larger force. One of his Lordship's assistants might know. They're available if you have good reason, He...” The tiefling paused and seemed to pale slightly, “ He isn't. Understandably, you don't just ask for a meeting with an Ultraloth.”
Clueless nodded back and added quietly, “Alright, and yeah, you don’t.”
Nisha smiled, and thanked him along with Clueless, before the recruiter pointed them towards the palace and walked away to accost a wizard and begin extolling to him the benefits of registering for the war with the Arcanoloths, they being in charge of any wizards recruited, pay being in jink and spells. The tiefling recruiter had spoken softer whenever he had referred to the Ultroloth Palinarus.
The pair slowly walked towards the center of the city, the crowd rushing around them, pressing in, fairly tight packed as they drew closer. Thirty minutes later they neared the palace that was built of black marble rather than the iron that was used to build most of the buildings in the Nifleheim portion of Center. In the blocks immediately surrounding the palace, traffic thinned out considerably, with most of the rank and file recruits not entering, but rather allowing their group leaders to sign them. As they looked up at the heights of the palace as it rose above the surrounding portions of the city Nisha made a disparaging comment regarding those who walked into the palace being the ones who could read and write, the rest being those who just did as they were told.
The palace was roughly four stories high, with three towers situated at the sides bordering the three layer specific portions of the city. A vaulted dome stood at the palace's center, it having a single spire rising up, overlooking the entire city and dwarfing the rest of the buildings in the entire city. Standing at the massive gates into the palace were posted five Mezzoloths in glimmering, rune scribed platemail and a Piscaloth dressed in the same; all of them carried black iron tridents scribed with golden sigils and swirling patterns. The guards seemed to be giving all those who entered the palace a cursory glance, though every so often they asked an entrant for their reasons for being there, perhaps using some form of magical thought detection.
Of those entering the palace it was mostly mercenary leaders along with individual warriors not aligned with a group, but the larger group was a mixture of wizards, sorcerers, and clerics. The clerics all seemed a dour or fanatical lot, all of them wearing the holy symbols of evil deities, mostly those associated with domains of death, disease, war, and conquest. Some of those entering the palace were of neutral aligned deities, but all of them being powers of war who, regardless of the exact nature of the conflict, the war furthered the power’s portfolio.
Clueless glanced at Nisha, “Under any other circumstance I’d say ladies first, but I was the one who dragged you into this, so I’ll be the brave one.”
And with that the bladesinger walked towards the gates. As he walked past one of the guards, the Piscaloth held up a ruby topped rod at him and Nisha, waving it slowly over them both. Neither Clueless nor Nisha felt anything, and it turned away from them both and did the same to the next group passing by behind them. Having cleared them apparently, one of the Mezzoloths waved its Oinian steel glaive at them and motioned for them to continue on inside.
Past the gates, a long marble hallway led to vaulted chamber near to the center of the palace, the first portions of the palace’s solid dome rising overhead, apparently freestanding. A large gateway on the opposite side of the chamber that likely led to the very center of the palace was closed and blocked by another group of Mezzoloths. In the center of the room was an armed tiefling who was directing new entries towards one doorway or another, or one of two staircases leading up into the palace’s central tower.
“Greetings cutter, how might I direct you?” The tiefling said in a courteous, businesslike manner as he approached Nisha and Clueless.
“I’m looking for someone, and I was told that they may have registered here. Marian Ravelsdotter? A night hag.”
He nodded, “Soldier, spellcaster, fiend, prime, what sort? Ah yes, spellcaster and fiendish… you’ll need to head straight and give this to the guards by the stairs, they’ll admit you.”
Clueless was handed a single black stone bearing a glowing arcane mark, and he swore that the tiefling had smirked as he handed it to him. The guards at the staircase the tiefling had indicated were two heavily armed and armored Nycaloths, not simply Mezzoloths. As Clueless and Nisha approached, one of the fiends simply held out his hand, the other had its hands on a sword on each hip.
“Here you go…” Clueless said as he handed the stone to the Nycaloth.
The Nycaloth said nothing as it took the stone, fingered a ring on its other hand, looked closely at both Clueless and Nisha and finally stood to the side and allowed them to pass. Clueless inwardly swallowed nervously, realizing just how deeply into things he and Nisha were getting, given that whoever they were being sent up to was guarded by a pair of Nycaloths, greater Yugoloths themselves.
Clueless and Nisha ascended the stairwell which led up and forwards and that eventually curved around in a long spiral, leading most likely to the top tower of the castle atop the central dome. Both of the pair looked nervously at one another as they ascended. Finally, winded from the climbing, the stairs eventually reached a single room, all of the other doors off from the stairs being locked or magically sealed.
The room they looked into was more a long gallery that had been converted into an office more than anything else. Two more Nycaloth guards flanked the open doorway but make no move to stop the pair, they only glanced at them but made no comment.
Past the door they could see in front of a large window overlooking the city a large stone desk stacked with maps and papers, and two figures. One, clearly the larger one, had its back turned to the pair, silently overlooking the city. The other was holding a long scroll and taking notes dictated from the other, though neither of them appeared to be saying anything.
Nisha’s tail quivered in time with her lower lip as she looked at the one turned away from them which stood some nine feet tall, dressed in a plain black robe, bald and sporting a disproportionately long cranium.
Clueless looked at the Ultroloth and whispered with incredulity, “…F*** me… and bend me over too.”
The one taking notes from the Ultroloth was, as was typical, an Arcanaloth. She was female and dressed in pale blue and purple wizards robes, looking much like a cut-rate Marauder, almost like she was trying to actually affect that one’s style of dress and mannerisms.
“…and here I was just looking for a night hag…” Clueless muttered under his breath as the arcanaloth held up her hand and gestured for him and Nisha to remain there for a moment as she finished scribing something.
Finally, she blotted her pen, in reality extinguishing the glowing red tip of the iron stylus in a pot of water next to the slowly wriggling Gehennan petitioner laid flat on an iron frame.
“Yes?” She asked impatiently.
“…I was looking for a certain Marian Ravelsdotter. I was told that if she had registered she would have done so here?” Clueless said nervously as Nisha tried to be as unnoticed as possible.
The Arcanaloth replied almost immediately, “A night hag, yes. She had a number of assorted sellswords and 'persuaded' help with her as well.”
“Do you know where I might find her, or more specifically, the persuaded help? I have business with them.”
Behind them, the Ultroloth began to turn around. Clueless blanched and immediately worried that somehow the fiend had recognized his voice from some portion of his past that he himself still didn’t remember. And for that brief moment he entertained the suicidal notion of drawing his blade and trying to kill it and its servitors, all of them.
As it turned around, its gray skin reflected ambient light, its luminous eyes glowing a pale orange and scarlet, unblinking. There was suddenly a voice ringing inside their heads with a sound like shattering glass and twisted iron nails being ground together, but otherwise it was merely uncomfortable.
“I have fools for guards, they know not to bother me with trivial matters. They're to send me wizards, not people looking for them. Do not waste my time idiot mortals.”
Clueless snapped his attention to the Ultroloth feeling cowed and intimidated. Nisha was on the floor, clutching her head. Clearly the Ultroloth’s displeasure was affecting the tiefling more so than Clueless.
Clueless bowed his head, “…my apologies.” However he looked up at the Arcanaloth since his question was still there to be answered.
The Arcanaloth was looking at the bladesinger, then at Nisha, raising one furred eyebrow like she had seen it before and was still amused by it even after all of her time serving Palinarus.
The Ultroloth’s voice crashed through Nisha and Clueless’s brains again, “Shylara will answer your questions, but I have more important things to do. Leave before I flay you alive.”
Clueless’s mind immediately paused at the Ultroloth’s mention of his scribe’s name. He’d seen the name before, and recently even. She had been mentioned in the notes of Dalmar Imshenviir, listed as having accompanied Vorkannis the Ebon to the mercane’s demiplane. Then what the hell was she doing there in Center, serving an Ultroloth as a recruiter for Anthraxus?
Clueless remained locked to the notion as Shylara nodded and walked towards the door, snapping a finger and having one of the Nycaloth guards bodily pick Nisha up from the floor to haul her out of the chamber as well. As the three of them exited the chamber, the Arcanaloth motioned at the door and it slammed shut with a resounding crash.
Clueless was tensed and his hand once more nearly reached for his sword as he would have sworn that the ‘loth seemed at once, both surprised and dreadfully amused to see him. But yet he couldn’t fully tell if she did in fact recognize him at all, and he wasn’t willing to ask in case she didn’t…
Nisha rose her feet, rubbing her temples, from where the Nycaloth had unceremoniously dumped her. She remained silent as the ‘loth looked to Clueless, “Now, as to your question?”
Clueless reached out a hand to stabilize Nisha as the ‘loth continued. “Ravelsdotter is likely near the Oinos side of town. If not actually outside the walls, then wandering the Pluton side, selling larvae, or a number of slaves she had with her. If I might ask, why the interest in the hag?”
Cautiously Clueless responded, "It was more one of the slaves she had. I had some personal business with him that needs to be resolved."
Shylara nodded, scratching at some terribly persistent itch on one of her ears. “Slave or free, we all have a place in the war to come, and it likely won't be long now. I hear tell that Anthraxus grows impatient, among other rumors.”
Something in the ‘loth’s tone sounded haughty, vain, belligerent even if one suspected her to be anything but utterly and completely loyal. Or perhaps Clueless was only reading too much into her tone considering who he had seen her name in connection with before.
Clueless looked to where Shylara was urgently scratching at some perceived itch with bared claws, "Um, excuse me, if I may? That seems... an awkward position for you to get at. Would you like help...?"
She stopped itching and chuckled, “No.” The answer was rather firm and Nisha noticed that where the ‘loth had been itching the fur wasn’t displaced or even tousled despite the almost frantic scratching with bared claws that she had been engaged in.
Clueless nodded, "Very well, I felt the offer would be appropriate at the least. I've actually heard of you… outside of this city..."
She snapped back, “I would doubt you have, I keep busy. In the coming days however, that is apt to change.”
Nisha jabbed Clueless in the ribs, sharply, as he said again, "No. Truly, I have."
And again Shylara answered in measured, forceful tones, “The hag likely won't remain in the city much longer, she's apt to travel to Anthraxus's camp in the next day at most. Allies flock to us like flies. Xenghara the reaper has allied himself with Lord Anthraxus even. What more can I say when the Lords of the Grey Waste increasingly choose sides, and ours at that. Now go and find your hag.”
As she turned to leave, Clueless said to her, “Good day… well wishes to your plans madam.”
Dismissing Clueless’s last statement the Arcanaloth turned and walked back into the office, immediately appearing to grovel as she opened the doors and stepped back into the Ultroloth’s presence. Her tone was abruptly different with Palinarus than it had been with Clueless.
Clueless bit his tongue and held back from adding, “And tell the Ebon hello for me!” as Nisha kicked him in the leg and tried to drag him back down the stairs.
Nisha stared heavily at Clueless on the way down the stairs, looking like she was on the verge of flipping out on him. Still, the tiefling winced and held the side of her head on occasion as they quickly descended the stairs.
“Berk was doing his best mind flayer impression in there…” She complained with another wince.
“Yep… that’s what they do… Listen Nisha, I’m sorry, - that – was unexpected.” Clueless said to her.
As the pair reached the bottom of the stairs, Nisha groaned and held the side of her head again. One of the Nycaloth guards took back the black stone they carried and the other chuckled at Nisha’s plight. Clearly they had seen it happen before and clearly they found it to be a veritable riot. Without a word to the fiends, Clueless and Nisha quickly left the palace.
Once outside Nisha looked Clueless, “You know, I don’t think she wanted us to be there.”
“Probably not. In fact, I’m sure that she’s not a happy camper right now on multiple levels.” Clueless replied.
“Good for her, overgrown puppy…” Nisha said with a smirk.
Clueless leaned over to whisper in Nisha’s ear, “…fleas.”
“Or something…” Nisha said as she looked to Clueless, “So, where to now? I didn’t exactly hear most of what all went on in there. I had a damned gray noodle with eyes trying to screw my brain through my nose…”
They had spent two hours walking within the pitch black tunnels of The Great Below and had seen little alive or moving, though the signs of frequent passage or habitation littered the forgotten vaults and passages that wormed their way like the midnight exploits of drunken dwarven miners. While they never saw any cranium rats alive, they did find their corpses, most of them dead without any exterior signs of damage that Tristol made mention of appearing to be due to magic of an unusual nature that he wasn’t familiar with.
“So, Fyrehowl, any luck on smelling anything?” Toras asked the lupinal.
“Why do you ask?” She replied.
“I figured that an underground fortress of Yugoloths must be permeated with whatever smell they give off. Shouldn’t you be able to smell it before the rest of us?”
“It’s pretty nasty down here anyways, and there’s not much air movement to help me tell where anything was coming from, even if I did smell the place. Plus, like Skalliska said, the place has supposedly been abandoned for onwards of five years. Smells linger, but not that strong after so many years.” Fyrehowl shrugged as they continued walking.
“Anyways, we’re almost at the end of the map here, so start looking for a trail of silver, whatever they meant by that.” The kobold glanced down each of the side passages they passed while she kept the map levitating out a foot or so above and in front of her snout for easy reference.
“Well hello…” Fyrehowl said as the architecture of the hallways changed abruptly over the next fifty yards of the tunnel. The rough hewn stone of the passage melted away first into smoother and almost finished stonework before transitioning into walls of fitted and polished black marble that gave the look of a mirrored ocean of darkness whose waves lapped at the light of their torches as they approached.
Skalliska hastily put away the map and looked down at the floor of the passage where their current hallway intersected another at right angles perhaps thirty feet ahead, “Nobody step into the center of the intersection up ahead.”
They all paused at the periphery of the junction and glanced at the circular seal that was cut and molded into the floor. Decorated in a mixture of precious metals and covered in glyphs and symbols in a mixture of Infernal and Abyssal, each of them carved and decorated in some meticulous pattern or symbology, the seal resembled nothing so much as one of the oddly beautiful manadalas of certain religious sects in Sigil’s Lotus Blossom District. However where they gave off an aura of peace and tranquility, the seal set within the mirror polished black marble gave off an aura of despair and malice.
“And damn if that thing isn’t magical…” Tristol said, a moment after he jerked backwards, following the completion of a cantrip to detect magic.
“Any idea of what it is, or if it’s trapped?” Fyrehowl asked the wizard.
“Nothing that seems malign actually, unless you count a series of forbiddance spells worked into in. Undead, cranium rats… and Dabus… are warded against entry down three of these corridors, just not the one we came here from. There look like there are a few remnants of alarm spells, and a few already triggered contingencies that looked… pretty ugly.”
“And there’s our trail of silver.” Fyrehowl said, pointing at a twisted symbol that emerged from the edge of the seal and protruded several inches into the corridor to their right. The silver etched into the marble called into mind that of the Gray Waste, while a gold and an iron symbol that were similar to the sigils of Carceri and Gehenna protruded down two of the other corridors.
Glancing at each other, they proceeded down the marked corridor with unease. The corridor retained its mirror bright polish as they continued past a number of equally decadent side passages, turning to follow the direction of the silver symbol at each of the intersections they came to. The corridor gradually expanded in breadth and they passed a number of fragmented and long expanded wards and spelltraps intended to obliterate intruders, all of them growing in power as they approached the final destination of the passage.
A single, cavern-like chamber stretched out around them as they emerged from the hallway. Fyrehowl, Toras, and Florian immediately winced from the nearly palpable weight of the unhallowed air that swirled around them. At the center of the vault was a massive cylindrical shaft of cracked, blood colored crystal that swirled with motes of darkness frozen into its matrix. However, the shaft was scorched by flames and broken halfway up its height and the rest of its bulk above there lay dashed across the floor of the sanctuary, broken and forgotten.
Several chambers lay at the periphery of the vault and those of the companions who had hair on the back of the necks felt it rise in the telltale, uncomfortable sign of being observed. Toras’s hand gripped his sword and Fyrehowl tensed as they and the others looked across the abandoned temple’s expanse at the abandoned and broken fiendish weapons and armor that littered the ground where their owners had fallen in battle. But despite the signs of abandonment, the temple was by no means forgotten or wholly abandoned by all of its former kin.
The smell of fiend was oppressive to Fyrehowl, and it surrounded them on almost all sides from the ruined chambers of the abandoned temple. The lupinal’s nose detected the heavy scent of Mezzoloths, as many or more than in the mercanes’ demiplanar castle, and a large number of Dergholoths, Piscaloths, and Canoloths; though none of them showed themselves openly.
“Well,” a cultured and mellifluous voice said as it rippled across the chamber like poisoned honey, “My appreciation and thanks for answering my summons, I will endeavor to make this worth your time.”
The voice came from a figure that hovered slightly off of the mirror polished black marble of the sanctuary floor, dressed in, or rather composed of, a black robe that was trimmed in gold, a pair of black gloves that hung in place at the cuffs of the robe, and a brilliant blue smile that hovered where a normal being’s head would have been. The illusory projection of the Cheshire Fiend smiled, as always, as the group approached.
“Your letter was interesting, and you certainly have our attention, if not absolutely our trust at the moment.” Fyrehowl said to the illusionary avatar of their would-be benefactor.
“Indeed, such is to be expected I figure, being what I am and all, I don’t have the most sterling reputation of being honest or being straightforward. However, be that as it may, this is very much a case of mutual interest as it was last time.” The fiend smiled wider and paced across the chamber, as best it could without having feet.
Fyrehowl glanced warily at the adjacent chambers of the sanctuary as she questioned the fiend, “So what can you tell us about the mercane and Belarian?”
“And what exactly is it you want from us for that information?” Florian added.
The blue grin chuckled, “Trust me on this…”
“Let us simply say that I exist as part of a specific faction within the Yugoloth hierarchy.” The Cheshire Fiend held up one ‘hand’ and a shimmering illusion appeared in the air of the triple circle symbol of the Wheels Within Wheels. “War is brewing on the Waste between those of my race loyal to the former Oinoloth, Anthraxus the Decayed, and the current Oinoloth, Mydianchlarus. Within the conflict that is coming there exists opportunity to conveniently dispose of one’s rivals within the haze of events before, during, and immediately after both sides erupt into open conflict. Suffice to say, I wish to see certain groups rise while others fall.”
The fiend paused and allowed his words to sink in before he continued. “A small group of my kind has taken refuge in Elysium, of all places, working with a nearly fallen lupinal for mutual benefit. They seek to obtain a certain prize that exists upon the plane, and the guardinal seeks, in his own way, to atone for a stain upon his home plane and upon his race. Ask Duke Jalinon, the Leonal commander of Rubicon to explain what I mean by taint. It’s your race’s secret after all, I shouldn’t go and spoil it.”
Fyrehowl looked at the Cheshire Fiend with suspicion as it continued to speak.
“They aren’t making as much progress as they would like, but that’s where the mercane came into play. They were delivering living mortal slaves and a number of other supplies to the fiends in Belarian. ‘To alleviate hunger’ most certainly… Suffice to say I wish to see the inhabitants within their hidden tower in Belarian to perish to the last, butcher them all. Those upon Belarian are loyal to Mydianchlarus, though they only recently they came into power in a coup over the former faction that was loyal to Anthraxus. The Wheels would have those currently in power removed utterly.”
“So you’re willing to help Elysium, even going so far as to do something ‘good’ just to score political points in the civil war that you have brewing, so you say?” Toras asked bluntly.
The Cheshire Fiend responded to the question with a fervor that dripped with hatred, “Very much so. You rid yourself of fiends in the heart of the plane of pure good and we rid ourselves of a bothersome element of our enemies. Our plans are not petty little machinations. The death of Mydianchlarus was foreordained. Wheels Within Wheels.”
Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 23rd October, 2004 at 03:50 AM.
Saturday, 23rd October, 2004, 04:45 AM #285
Novice (Lvl 1)
They're actually falling for it.
Saturday, 23rd October, 2004, 06:23 AM #286
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by dal673
They've also done some seriously unexpected things to me too in all fairness, but you'll all find out eventually.
Saturday, 23rd October, 2004, 01:10 PM #287
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Originally Posted by dal673
Sunday, 24th October, 2004, 01:42 AM #288
Great! What was that about Clueless walking out of situations he shouldn't survive? I guess, it will get much worse still, but ...
Mmmhh, random thought:
DM: The ultroloth's eyes seem to burn right into your mind. Two minutes later you find yourself lying on the floor, only now recovering from the terrible pain and bleeding from eyes, nose and ears.
Player: But ... but! Don't I get a saving throw? That's unfair!
DM: I rolled it for you and got a natural 20. Good for you, too ... >:>
Player: ... !
Sunday, 24th October, 2004, 06:57 AM #289
Novice (Lvl 1)
Originally Posted by Dakkareth
Sunday, 24th October, 2004, 06:08 PM #290
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Actually no - that's what a ring of mindshielding is for.
And Gerzel - *thank you for publicly insulting me*.
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