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Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 02:46 AM #941
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Not your parents' Gautama obviously
“Back back back! We don’t want to be seen!” Florian said.
They withdrew back beyond the border of the illusion that seemed to cloak the godisle. Hopefully it worked both ways they figured, shrouding the persons and constructions beyond, and likewise shrouding anything outside from detection from within.
“Ok, not anticipated.” Toras said to Skalliska. “Later on we give you to the bloodthirsty tiefling.”
“Muahahahaha!” Nisha said without skipping a beat, rubbing her hands together as she latching onto Toras’s random comment like it was second nature. And for her it just happened to be.
The others warily glanced at one another before looking down for a reaction from Skalliska regarding what she wanted to do. The kobold wasn’t looking at them however as she glanced down at her map again.
There had indeed been no mention on it of anything like this surrounding the corpse of Maanzecorian. But there was something else, something that had not been on the map previously: a new section of script and a small glowing symbol.
“Guys…?” The kobold said. “There’s something new on the map.”
“Let me guess, the friend who sent you that letter and map knew exactly what was going on here, and now there’s a catch to this?” Toras asked with a smirk.
“Yeah, you could say that.” She replied.
The new passage of text on the map read as follows:
When this is visible you will have come within two miles of the corpse of Maanzecorian, or at least what is left of him. Yes, I and those I serve were aware of something involving this particular godisle, and several others. However, we did not wish to have our knowledge of this, nor our involvement made aware to those unknown persons responsible. As such, you provided a convenient, if unwilling means for me to gain firsthand information on this place and those involved.
When needed, I have provided a summoning symbol upon the map which will call me to you when you wish to talk face to face. For your aid in this matter, we can discuss terms of your payment then.
- Yours in service to Tiamat and Bel
“I don’t like being used.” Skalliska said with a frown. “You want to talk, we’ll talk now.”
The kobold reached down and pressed the tip of a claw to the glowing symbol of Baator upon the parchment.
“Don’t!” Florian said. “You want the githyanki down there to see us?”
It was too late however. The symbol on the page gleamed with emerald light and briefly caught fire, singing the ink into the surface of the paper as the spell’s latent energy was expended.
“Most definitely you don’t wish to be seen.” The voice came out of nowhere to address them.
Weapons were drawn almost immediately as they scrambled to locate the source of the voice. There was an amused laugh in response.
“No, put those away. I’m not with them, nor am I going to raise their attention to you. I take it that you’ve been following my letter Skalliska.”
They paused and waited. Skalliska’s eyes narrowed.
There was a brief shimmer in the air as a figure dismissed their invisibility. A woman with pale white skin, sea green eyes, and a pair of white-feathered wings. She was dressed in a plain white tunic and skirt, a few bits of jewelry and nothing else. The woman smiled and fangs appeared over her ruby lips: an erinyes.
“Greetings.” She said as she flexed her wings.
The baatezu looked around, briefly sticking her head past the barrier, then frowned. “Hmm, I didn’t think that you’d have summoned me so early. But, too late to change that. A bit of an explanation I suppose would be in order.”
Tristol pointed down towards the godisle and its illusion cloaked inhabitants.
She waved a hand. “They can’t see anything beyond the barrier that keeps –us- from seeing –them-. It’s powerful but it isn’t perfect, even if I have no idea how they’re powering it.”
“So who are you?” Skalliska asked cautiously.
“My name is Marissa the Serpent Touched, a servant of Bel, the Warlord of Avernus, and also in this instance a servant of Tiamat.”
“What does this have to do with me?” The kobold replied.
“Nothing really.” The Baatezu said. “But given your interest in looking for dead gods, it gave me a chance to have someone else look into certain regions of the Astral. It allowed Lord Bel to keep his hands free of this.”
“And what is this?” Fyrehowl asked.
“That’s the question on a great many people’s minds.” She said. “On one hand the Githyanki are concerned with a number of traitors that seem to have banded together and then vanished from the scopes of the Knights tasked by Vlaakith to hunt them. Vlaakith seeks to devour their souls obviously, and she is enraged over this failure to find them by all accounts. Likewise, this has gained Tiamat’s interest. The five headed Queen, by way of Ephelemon’s pact with the Githyanki race is curious as well. By way of Tiamat, Bel has expressed interest as a way to improve relations with that goddess.”
“Yay entangling alliances.” Clueless said.
“Indeed, there’s no other kind.” Marissa replied. “But what we find here is most disturbing, because I do not know what they are doing.”
“How did you even know about me?” Skalliska pressed. “How did you know that I was searching for my old pantheon and would eventually be looking for astral corpses, just so you could send me passing over a few that held your own interest? Answer me that if you would.”
“Your deity, Kurtulmak resides within Baator.” The Erinyes replied. “It’s as simple as that.”
“Kurtulmak is not my deity.” Skalliska spat.
“The god of kobolds would disagree.” She said with a shrug. “But regardless of your feelings on the matter, and his, I really don’t care mind you, information flows readily from those deities within the Pit to its overlords. Your name was passed on to us by Kurtulmak who seems to have wished you to see the fate of your old pantheon in the hopes that it would bring the wayward lamb back, so to speak.”
“But you came to my lord’s attention, and Tiamat expressed her own interest.” Marissa said. “From there I was tasked with prompting you onto your current path. And now, here I am asking for your help in this. What is your price?”
“I’ve been asked that too many times before.” Clueless said with a shudder.
“How do we know we can trust you?” Toras asked.
“Because of what I am.” She said, looking hurt. “I’m not a Tanar’ri or a Yugoloth. I want to formalize our working relationship, do this on a firm contractual basis so we know where we stand and what we are and aren’t obligated to do.”
“Considering what you are,” Fyrehowl said. “Let’s keep the formal agreement as informal as possible.”
Marissa’s ears perked as the lupinal continued.
“Let’s consider this a favor for a favor. We help you find out what’s going on down there, help you fight them if needed, and in return you, or your lord, owe us a favor in the future of equal merit.”
“My lord will hold to this.” The Erinyes replied with a nod. “A favor for a favor then. Are you all in agreement with this?”
They looked at one another for a long moment, but there was no dissent. Of them all, Nisha stuck out her tongue at the Erinyes after nodding in the affirmative, and while Fyrehowl was suspicious of the fiend, she gave her assent.
“Well then,” Toras said. “What’s your idea for what we do next?”
Marissa glanced down at the corpse and then back towards the Astral Dreadnaught slowly circling at a mile out.
“I’d like to get a look at the tower they’ve built on the surface, and the surface itself. Whatever they’re doing we’ll find out down there, and I also suspect that something in that tower is what’s keeping the Dreadnaught at bay. Remove that and the Dreadnaught slaughters them all.”
“But if it did that, you’d have to pick through the rubble to find out any answers.” Toras said.
“Indeed.” She replied with a sigh. “So that’s out as an immediate option.”
“Besides,” The fighter said. “They’d be all over us in a minute if we went directly down to the surface. It’s crawling with githyanki and those other things; didn’t get too good of a look at them, they looked like goblins maybe.”
Clueless nodded. “Then we sneak into one of the two buildings in orbit, find out what we can, and try to take down whoever we find.”
“That’s really the best option I think.” Fyrehowl said.
The Erinyes stretched her wings slightly. She seemed unused to the lack of gravity, or the lack of an atmosphere in which to use them.
“I suggest that we be invisible when we first approach the building.” She said. “And then pray to the Lord of the 9th that they don’t have any warlocks capable of still seeing us.”
Tristol, Clueless and Skalliska provided the spells from their own limited number of castings, and Marissa blinked out of sight on her own accord. They agreed to go towards the building on the left, cautiously enter and take care of any guards while their invisibility was still active.
With that, they launched through the glistening barrier surrounding the godisle, and then shot towards the two buildings suspended in the gravity well. Despite their paranoia about being noticed by the githyanki below them, there was no indication that they had been noticed. On their way however, they did manage to discern a bit more detail: the githyanki were forcing goblins into manual labor on the surface of the dead Illithid god. They had a Rakshasa after all, was it too much of a stretch that they would then have an ample supply of goblinoid petitioners from Acheron? It seemed likely, even if that still didn’t answer the question of what that Rakshasa was doing there on the Astral, on Maanzecorian’s godisle, in the first place.
They skirted past the row of four githyanki carracks on the metal bridge between the two buildings. All of them showed signs of battle damage, likely inflicted when they were seized from their original crews by force, or in battles against other githyanki perhaps. They were a motley collection by any standard, comprised of a merchant vessel, a heavily armored but lightly armed treasury ship, a scout vessel, and a larger dreadnaught that bristled with catapults, ballistae, and a number of odd metal tubes with fire scorched ends.
But they would worry about the ships later. As it was, none of them seemed occupied, all of them tethered to the dock. They passed them by and stood collected outside the entrance to the leftward building. The door was wooden and seemed to be only barely reinforced. The githyanki had not seemed to anticipate or even worry about a siege or any sort of attack, given that they were almost wholly shielded from outside attention and notice.
They quietly drew their weapons and waited. Nisha pushed the door open and glanced through with a mirror in her hand. Four armed, but bored-looking githyanki warriors sat within the room beyond. The tiefling withdrew her hand and whispered what she had seen. It took little more than that and the door was kicked open to the utter surprise of the gith defenders. Bleeding wounds erupted across their bodies before their attackers had even faded into view. As their invisibility spells dropped, the gith were either already dead or bleeding out onto the stone of the floor. But one of them had shouted for help.
Clueless slit the gith’s throat with a single, smooth slash of his sword.
“Sh*t. Get ready if he was heard.” Toras said as he raised his sword.
Fyrehowl glanced at the staircase that led up from the single room that occupied the ground floor of the building, and then down at another stairwell that led ‘up’ into the other half of the tower, githyanki architecture being what it was in the Astral plane. The attack however would come from neither of those places.
There was no warning before the arcane flashes of dimension door spells lit the room and nearly a dozen githyanki appeared in their midst screaming with rage. There were at least nine warriors, but with three other individual gith that appeared distinct and more of a threat. Of that trio, there was a lightly armored ‘yanki with a pair of long daggers, a gish, there was a robed warlock, and there was an ornately armored githyanki who wielded a massive two-handed sword like it was weightless: a knight, one of the so-called githyanki anti-paladins.
There was no time to shout a warning, nor time to regroup and think over tactics. It all went to hell in the space of a few chaotic seconds. All they did was react on instinct.
Fyrehowl of course was used to such action, and it was almost as if she had started to move before the githyanki had arrived. A series of sword slashes disemboweled one of the assaulting githyanki warriors a moment after he appeared.
Tristol backed away and hurled a spell at one of the warriors who stood poised to swing his blade at Clueless’s back. The warrior froze in place in an instant, his flesh turned to solid stone with a single incantation from Tristol’s lips. Clueless still ducked and only a split second later realized what had happened. He gave an appreciative glance to the wizard before hurling a lightning bolt from the tip of his own sword against the gish that was charging forwards.
The others did less obvious things: Florian chanted a blessing upon them all, Marissa simply vanished from sight, Skalliska began to move faster, and Nisha immobilized one of the gith warriors with a wand.
It was harder on them from that point on. The gish wasn’t so much as singed by the bladesinger’s spell as it semi-cartwheeled and semi-levitated, diving out and over the path of the bolt of electricity. The warlock meanwhile stared in shock at one of his fights having been turned to stone, and a moment later he hurled a column of ice showering down on Tristol and Skalliska.
The two of them managed to evade the worst of it, but the frigid burns were painful and distracting. Still, Tristol hurled another spell of petrification at another warrior adjacent to the gith warlock.
By then however, the knight had closed ranks with Toras and Clueless both, not looking intimidated in the slightest. The anti-paladin had no need to worry. She was surrounded by a dozen lesser warriors, and they were confident in their own supremacy, both racial and in terms of skill.
The knight struck first, screaming out some invocation to Gith and empowering her blade with a reverse of the same holy power that a paladin might use to smite an evil foe. It struck and Toras spun away to the side from the force of the impact. He hadn’t been expecting that, but in a testament to his own ability to recover, he was picking himself up off the ground soon thereafter and slashing back at the knight’s legs.
The next seconds or minutes, they all lost track of it, was a flurry of blades and spellcasting. In the end it took Clueless, Toras, and Fyrehowl combined to finally take down the githyanki knight, and not without injuries of their own to show as a result when they turned their attentions away from the lesser warriors.
At the same time as they were occupied with the knight, Florian had waded into a number of those other gith that were harrying her companions, hacking at them mercilessly with her axe. Somewhere below waist height, Skalliska was darting and slashing at legs, exposed heels, and the back of their knees. More than a few githyanki were hamstrung before Florian dispatched them with a cry to Tempus.
Tristol, after having petrified two gith, had made himself a target, and only a lightning bolt at close range had kept a number of the githyanki from charging him directly. That however did not prevent the gish from getting to within a direct, unimpeded line of sight.
The gish drew a pair of long daggers and prepared to throw them at the aasimar, but by the time he had moved his arms back to throw, it was too late for him. With an obscene scream of fury, the erinyes spread her wings and dove onto the githyanki. He let out a startled, frantic scream as she landed on his shoulders, gripped his head with her claws and wrapped her wings around his body, obscuring it above the waist. There was a thrashing and an erratic spray of blood, then the gish twitched and collapsed.
There was a peal of thunder as a bolt of lightning struck from the warlock and onto Toras, Clueless, and Fyrehowl. The githyanki wizard was screaming invectives at them while the wave of electricity shot towards them as they stood over the corpse of the knight. Clueless shot up towards the ceiling with a quick flicker of his wings, only receiving a few minor jolts from the larger area of effect, but Fyrehowl and Toras didn’t so much as move. In fact, the two of them smiled back at the warlock as the spell coursed through them and caused them not the slightest discomfort.
A few feet away from the panicking warlock, Marissa stood up from the corpse of the mangled gish and folded back her wings. Blood coated her mouth and her hands. She scowled at the corpse with disdain as she licked the blood from her lips and hands, cleaning herself with compulsive detail. The warlock watched her and changed his course of action considerably.
Shouting out something in githyanki, he called out to the three remaining warriors who moved and stood before him like a wall, cutting him off from the erinyes and the warriors he had just seen kill the knight. That done, he turned and bolted up the stairs in full out retreat. Marissa screamed out a mocking insult in Infernal as the spellcaster fled. The three other githyanki that blocked the stairs were dead a minute later.
“Oh hells, there’s no way that we’re letting him escape.” Florian said as she hefted her axe and made for the stairs.
The others ran after her, up to the second floor of the building. No sooner had they gotten within sight of the top of the stairs than there was a thunderous roar and a belch of flame swept like a wave down and over them with the smell of brimstone. Two goblin petitioners, a smoking metal tube as large as themselves, and the grinning warlock faded into view.
As the smoke from the tube’s blast cleared from the air, the stairwell was covered in blood and soot. Tristol was nearly unconscious, Toras and Florian were both badly injured, and only Skalliska and Nisha had seemed to avoid the blast in any way at all. The warlock was still laughing at their plight when a fireball detonated on top of him and the two petitioners, catching the yet unused powder charges alight and setting them off directly in their midst.
For a second time in as many seconds, the staircase was awash in blood.
The warlock blinked through a bloody haze and staggered to his feet. The goblins were dead and his body ached with burns and the grapeshot charge that had left bits of metal dug into his flesh. He hadn’t expected that; he’d hoped that the cannon would kill or disable all of the intruders. It had to have been a misfire from the cannon, or a bit of powder had caught from the first blast and smoldered atop the other charges. He’d seen their wizard nearly killed, and he’d never expected that they would have any others capable of hurling any spells that might have touched off the powder.
The warlock screamed as Fyrehowl and Clueless walked out of the smoke, swords raised. His pain ended shortly thereafter.
“F*ck…” Toras said bluntly as he staggered to get back up. He was badly wounded as it was, and the surface of the stairs were slippery with his blood, his companions’ and the rapidly evaporating guts of the petitioners.
“What the hell was that?” Skalliska shouted out from where she’d landed at the bottom of the stairs.
“Bloody gnomish contraption.” Tristol cursed.
“Hmm?” Florian said as she was already calling prayers of healing into her mind.
“It’s a cannon.” The aasimar replied as he stumbled up the stairs to look at it. “Alchemical explosives and either a ball of iron, or smaller pellets of the same.”
“Either it’s something from Acheron,” Marissa said. “Or they just picked up the things from a planar arms merchant. They’re not unknown, not to me, we’ve used them in the Blood War, but they’re not up to snuff compared to what a single wizard can do.”
“You can train idiots to use those however.” Tristol said before wincing in pain from his injuries. “It doesn’t take the years to train a wizard to do the same effect by magic.”
“Enough.” Marissa said as she picked gore from out of her wings and glanced about. “There might be more. And some of you need to heal yourselves before doing anything else.”
“There aren’t.” Clueless said from up above. “There’s two other rooms up here, and there’s no one around.”
The Erinyes nodded. “Pray that no one heard all of this…”
The minutes passed as they recovered from their wounds, either by potion or scroll or prayer, and while they expected another set of githyanki warriors to appear out of nowhere, screaming for their blood, none came. Improbable as it might have been, they hadn’t been noticed outside of the defenders of the current building. And that building, as they searched its rooms, was occupied only by them and the corpses of the newly dead.
The building was fairly spartan, typical for githyanki architecture. There was a barracks for the githyanki warriors, and a separate room that was likely to serve as the same for the goblin petitioners. Then there were the cannons. In the top chamber of the tower sat five of the iron tubes and a small supply of powder and shot. They didn’t seem to be in use, or planned use. Most likely they were to prevent attack and siege, but with the magical shroud that cloaked them from detection, what was the use of it?
The only chamber of interest though was the shrine.
“Hey guys,” Florian said as she looked into the chamber. “What do you make of this?”
“Hold on.” Clueless said. “Nisha, you want to check the door for wards or traps?”
“Already did.” The Xaositect replied. “Nothing there.”
Florian nodded and stepped into the room. She was rewarded with a surge of electricity that arced from her head and left by her feet before it knocked her backwards. She blinked and moaned before her head cleared enough to let her feel lucid again.
“Nothing there huh?” Florian asked over towards Nisha.
“Nothing I saw.” She said obstinately. “And I checked it. There wasn’t anything there that I saw. I’d have told you if I’d noticed.”
“Don’t worry Nisha.” Toras said. “You missed one. No problem. Just play it safe from now on and double check the doors.”
Nisha frowned with a bruised ego, as her tail twitched and the bell that hung from its tip jangled with irritation like the tip of a rattlesnake’s tail.
The small room was bare except for an elaborate rug covering the center of the room, and a shaft of silvery light that descended down from a plug of crystal set into a circular hole in the ceiling. On either side of the chamber there were two altars, but they were mirror opposites of one another.
On the right there was a gilded shrine to Gith, complete with panels depicting her victory over the Illithids, and the flight of the Githzerai to Limbo. The glimmering idol of the Great Liberator was surrounded by lit candles and the burned out remains of blocks of incense and bits of blood. It was something clearly in use by the inhabitants.
“Doesn’t the Lich Queen dissuade actual worship of Gith?” Clueless asked.
“In a way, yes.” The Erinyes replied. “This is out of the ordinary.”
What was truly out of the ordinary however was the other altar. It was covered in the dried remnants of spittle, and the idol of a female githyanki lich with burning eyes, bedecked in gold and carrying a scepter in the shape of red dragon’s head, it sat in a puddle of urine. Cracks ran down portions of the panels of the altar, the impacts seeming consistent with blows from githyanki fists and heels. The altar of Vlaakith the Lich Queen was an object of detestation.
“Holy…” Fyrehowl said.
“Nothing holy about any of this.” The Erinyes replied with a smirk before taking a deep breath and seeming honestly astounded by what she saw.
“They’ve turned against the Lich Queen?” Clueless said. “Why?”
“Not a clue.” Florian said. “But the knight that almost took you apart down there was probably looking at having her soul devoured if she ever stepped foot back on Tunarath.”
“That’s one reason.” Toras replied.
“Things get more interesting.” Marissa said, musing to herself out loud. “Renegade githyanki who by all appearance have forsworn Vlaakith, banding together with an Acheronian fiend, mining the corpse of at least one dead power… why?”
“Speaking of which, you know, we’ve still got that fiend from Acheron who’s strip-mining a dead god…” Florian said. “He’s still alive around here, and it’s probably only a matter of time before we’re found out.”
“We’re damned lucky that the ‘yanki on the surface don’t realize that we just cleared out one of their towers up here. We’re screwed if all of them turn on us at once.”
“So…” Nisha said. “What do we do now since there’s still that freaky handed tiger walking around like Florian said?”
They nodded to one another, conspicuously ignoring that Skalliska was shoving no fewer than three of the cannons, and as much powder as she could fit, into a bag of holding. As soon as the kobold had finished ransacking the powder keg, they descended back down to the ground floor and picked over the bodies for what useful items were present. None of them once considered looting the shrines of Gith and Vlaakith.
“We can’t risk going down to the surface to look at that one tower,” Clueless said, as he looked at a dagger the gish had held. “Not yet anyway. We should probably go after the other building up here in orbit before we even think about the surface.”
“Agreed,” Marissa said as she flicked an errant drop of blood from her fingertip. “We can’t risk the presence of spellcasters behind us. And they’re accorded status among the gith enough that they wouldn’t likely be serving to herd petitioners down on Maanzecorian’s corpse.”
They glanced across to the second building and the bridge that linked it to the first. If they ran, they probably wouldn’t be noticed.
“Preemptive wheeeeeeee!” Nisha whispered a moment before she bolted across the neck between the two buildings.
The Erinyes flickered out of sight as she exited the building, followed soon after be an invisible Clueless. The others made up for their lack of such wards by running as fast as they could. Suffice to say, Fyrehowl was the first to the other side despite having been the last out of the door.
Thirty seconds later, they huddled in the shadow of one of the carracks there tethered to the bridge, nestled inside the doorway to the second building. Skalliska peered warily down at the figures on the corpse of the god far below. It did not appear as if any of them were yet aware that anything was amiss high above them.
“They’re comfortable in their security.” Marissa whispered with contempt. “They’ve kept the Dreadnaught at bay, and no one can tell that there is anything amiss on the surface. They have no need to expect anyone. Baator does not suffer the incompetent.”
“How’s the door?” Clueless asked.
Nisha glanced at it and the doorframe for a few long moments before giving a shrug. The door didn’t appear locked. In fact, it didn’t have a keyhole or a lock at all. It was a simple latch and nothing else. And as far as the tiefling could tell, it wasn’t trapped in any way.
The tiefling tentatively opened the door and swung it open. The crackle of discharging magic made them jump back. Something lanced between them and stung their eyes before it flickered out of sight, but nothing seemed to happen.
The tiefling shot an agonized look at her companions. She honestly seemed on the verge of tears since for the second time in under an hour she had simply failed to notice a lurking ward. Her grief turned to anger almost immediately and she began to quietly sulk, avoiding looking at any of her companions.
Tristol felt bad for her. To an extent he felt like he should have been helping her out in looking out for wholly magical wards. Of course, given the Xaositect’s already wounded pride, that might mess with her own sense of worth and ability if she needed help. Still, the warding hadn’t affected them as far as he could tell. Presumably they’d all resisted its intended effect, or it was something that wasn’t meant for them in the first place.
Something wasn’t right. Fyrehowl felt a nagging feeling in her gut, but she couldn’t really discern what it was in the slightest. Still, she felt no different.
Past the door was a large, open chamber with a curving stairwell along the outer wall, rising up to a chamber above. The air was warm, the illumination was bright but not harsh, and the room smelled of faint incense. No githyanki lived here. The walls were made of richer material, the wood paneled floors carpeted, and decorative accents applied wherever it would have been appropriate. Everything spoke of wealth and nobility: the tenured position of any powerful Rakshasa.
The cautiously walked into the chamber and looked up above at what seemed to be a massive library in the upper chamber. Fyrehowl noticed oddly that the others had put away their weapons.
From above, a mellifluous voice called out to them.
“Please, step inside. It’s much more pleasant in here I assure you. Standing on my doorstep expecting a block of iron to fall on your heads if you enter without my approval. Tsk tsk tsk. There’s no lock for two reasons: I’m a reasonable man, there’s no need for you to expect me to slaughter you like I was some Tanar’ri. I have culture that they lack. And secondly, I have absolutely nothing to fear from any that might wish to speak with me.”
They hesitated and looked up. The richly robed figure of a white furred Rakshasa stood at the lip of a balcony above them. The fiend looked down on them as he smoked a large pipe from the corner of his mouth, and held a cup of tea in one of its backwards paws.
“Get off of my doorstep like reasonable people.” He called down to them calmly. “I extend you my invitation and welcome, be polite and mannered and accept it.”
Tristol and Fyrehowl only vaguely realized that the others had considered it and moved to ascend the staircase. Marissa had a confused look on her face, which she quickly suppressed as she motioned the wizard and cipher to follow.
The upper chamber was dominated by an ornate and well-stocked library. In the room’s center was a small table, a number of chairs and divans, and a bubbling samovar of what smelled like chamomile tea. The Rakshasa had already taken the largest chair and was sipping at his cup, motioning them to sit as well.
Simply out of habit, Toras concentrated and tried to detect the presence of evil, wondering if the fiend had any associates lurking nearby. The fiend glowed, and so did everyone else with the exception of Tristol and Fyrehowl. But somehow, that didn’t so much as phase the fighter. There was no sign of lurking assailants, and the Rakshasa had politely invited them to sit. What harm was there in that?
Before they realized it, they had made their introductions to the charming and well-cultured fiend and were sipping tea along with him. Marissa was playing along without pause, but Tristol and Fyrehowl were just sitting there holding their cups with dumbfounded looks on their faces.
“And who would you be?” Clueless asked.
“You may refer to me as his Lordship Siddhartha,” He said, as he removed his pipe from his mouth and a cloud of scented tobacco drifted lazily away. “Noble of the House of the Blackened Paw of Acheron.”
“I must profess that I didn’t expect quite so much of a formal welcome, devoid of violence.” The bladesinger stated appreciatively.
“That would be impolite.” Siddhartha replied with a soft feline chuffle.
“But you can’t really be pleased at what we’ve done to the gith that you had working for you.” Toras said.
“Am I pleased regarding my warlock, gish, and knight that you seem to have killed?” Siddhartha sniffed at the air and frowned. “Their scent lingers on you, as well as their blood. No matter. I can find more where they came from. They’re chattel, worthless compared to my goals here. Just a means to an end.”
“And those goals would be?” Marissa prompted in a polite voice.
The Rakshasa ignored her.
“Still, I confess that you’ve done me a favor in a way. If my servants died by your hands, they were not fit for the work I had entrusted to them. Ultimately you’ve done me a good deed, and I properly must thank you for it.”
“A pleasure to be of service.” Clueless said.
“It was actually rather fun.” Nisha said with genuine malice as she raised her teacup in a salute to the fiend. “I don’t have too much opportunity to slit throats like that. Thank you.”
Tristol blinked. He’d never once heard the tiefling actually speak out like that. He’d rarely even heard her sound angry. This wasn’t the Nisha that he knew, nor were the others acting like themselves either. The symbol on the doorway, it had to have altered their state of mind, made them more agreeable and willing to talk.
And with that, they descended into polite chitchat and small talk. Nearly an hour later, Tristol realized that the Rakshasa had spent most of his efforts in trying to convince his magically influenced comrades that he was up to nothing untoward at all, without giving them any specific details. In fact he was even openly suggesting that they join him, given that he had open spots, what with his best githyanki being dead and all. But as the hour progressed, the tiger-headed fiend was growing increasingly more agitated as he was unable to persuade them all to his point of view and his whim.
Whatever spell had affected them all, made them open to influence, it probably had a time limit of an hour, or very close to it. That hour was rapidly reaching its conclusion and the fiend wasn’t happy. It was likely that their apparent change in morality might be permanent if they did agree to his terms before that limit was up, and if not, than there would be blood spilled. It was not a short wait for that result.
“And if we have already had a better offer from elsewhere? If we don’t wish to work for you?” Marissa said politely, much to the other fiend’s displeasure. “Being such a polite gentlemen, surely you’ll wish us farewell on a pledge to not spread word of your work here atop Maanzecorian’s corpse?”
His whiskers bristled and his tail was twitching in agitation behind his cushioned chair.
“You must realize that I cannot allow the knowledge of my activities here to escape beyond the confines of this godisle.” The Rakshasa said bluntly. Marissa clutched the side of her head and winced like a drill was boring into her skull. “Especially when it would leap to the ears of a second rate draconic goddess and to the Lord of the 5th.”
“Bel?” He scoffed and sneered, black lips curling up over ivory fangs. “Your motives and allegiances are entirely transparent my dear. And to the rest of you, from the moment you stepped within the confines of my warding about this place you were never going to be allowed to leave intact. To think otherwise is the depths of foolishness.”
“And so my dear erinyes,” The Rakshasa said with a rough hiss. “It has been an hour, and I grow tired of your prattle.”
And with that, he flicked the fingers of a backwards paw at the other fiend and snarled an invocation. The erinyes’ scream was brief as she spontaneously combusted, leaving behind naught but a pile of ashes where she had been sitting. The Rakshasa seemed entirely indifferent to the entire affair originally, calm, proper and mellow, but having been growing more ill at ease by the moment, he was starting to fray at the edges.
The fiend sighed and put down his still steaming teacup on its china saucer. He seemed entirely bored with the situation, like it was nothing to him at all to simply execute a greater Baatezu. And for the others, they were simply fools beneath his station.
The only exits out of the library were directly over the edge of the balcony, or by way of the stairs down to the ground floor. Without word from the Rakshasa, or pause in his conversation with them, a wall of force shimmered into place a few feet before the balcony and a second githyanki warlock appeared behind it. A moment later, blocking the way down the stairs stood a ground of four goblins, each holding smaller versions of the cannons that they had seen before, crude constructions of iron and wood.
The Rakshasa stood up, took one last puff of his pipe and exhaled the bitter smoke at his guests.
“Your attention has been appreciated for our time together,” He said with a tone of finality. “But I regret that we were unable to reach some matter of agreement. A pity.”
Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 9th July, 2005 at 04:50 AM.
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 03:21 AM #942
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
And once again - he thought he was being cute with the naming of this particular cat. He looked around the table and the entire group was giving him the hairy eyeball. It was a very very fun session. *grin*
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 04:15 AM #943
“And so my dear erinyes,” The Rakshasa said with a rough hiss. “It has been an hour, and I grow tired of your prattle.”
And with that, he flicked the fingers of a backwards paw at the other fiend and snarled an invocation. The erinyes’ scream was brief as she spontaneously combusted, leaving behind naught but a pile of ashes where she had been sitting. The Rakshasa seemed entirely nonplussed at the entire affair, but having been growing more ill at ease by the moment, he was starting to fray at the edges.
The fiend sighed and put down his still steaming teacup on its china saucer.
But a great update
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 04:51 AM #944
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by Dakkareth
[Prince's Bride]"I do not that that means what you think it means" [/Prince's Bride]
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 11:38 AM #945
Gallant (Lvl 3)
- Join Date
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ø Block demiurge1138
Very nice update; that's really how a rakshasa should be played. Still, isn't Bel Lord of the the First Hell, not the 5th as you referred to him? Or is this homebrew cosmological tinkering?
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 01:14 PM #946
“Considering what you are,” Fyrehowl said. “Let’s keep the formal agreement as informal as possible.”
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 04:22 PM #947
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by demiurge1138
She said she was, but she's not. Tiamat, yes. But which archfiend she's allied with, the Rakshasa seemed aware of: Lord of the 5th, Levistus.
Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 9th July, 2005 at 04:26 PM.
Saturday, 9th July, 2005, 06:15 PM #948
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Dakkareth
... This becomes relevant later.
Sunday, 10th July, 2005, 02:48 AM #949
Well, with evil people you can deal. It's the Evil people that are problematic.
And I was reminded of Fire and Dust where there's a Cipher acting on instict but without knowing (as another Cipher would put it), but maybe Fyrehowl knew it was going to turn out ok. *shrug* You never know with those Feel-the-Cadence types ...
Sunday, 10th July, 2005, 03:09 AM #950
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by Dakkareth
They didn't fall for the 'join me' speech though, and as the time limit for that symbol wore off, it got ugly.
Fyrehowl's cadence thing was hit or miss sometimes. I'd give hints to her player, but I have a tendency to be far, far too vague at times to the point where my hint might be useless. In this case though, she was curious.
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