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Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 02:08 AM #981
Portal works . But I won't go THERE again, not now ... maybe some other time .
Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 11:13 AM #982
Superhero (Lvl 15)
The last section might offend those of delicate sensibilities, don't say I didnt warn***
They stood there stupefied at the sight of it all, mouths open, eyes wide, just gawking at it even as their eyes watered from the acrid, coppery ammonia tang of blood and festering flesh.
Nisha swallowed hard as she stepped further into the room, the others followed behind her as they took in the full magnitude of the gory details that sprawled across the walls.
“Where the hell did this all come from?” Toras asked.
Clueless pointed to the ravaged githyanki corpses.
“No.” Toras said. “You think the Rakshasa up there did all of this? A tea sipping perfectionist who might have you flogged for not using a coaster under your drinks at dinner. This is messed up, like he’d gone insane.”
“Tanar’ri interior decorators…” Nisha said, wincing at the burning, cloying stench.
“No, I see where you’re going. It doesn’t entirely make sense, not from what we saw of him before.” Clueless said.
“Whoever did this was pissed at someone or completely f*cking insane.” Florian said. “But I think we’re safe to assume that a Rakshasa did in fact do this…”
The cleric pointed to the bloody footprints that tracked across the rocky godflesh of Maanzecorian, and to the paw prints on the walls. There was no mistaking the shape; they were distinctive enough to be certain. But it raised the specter of not one, but two Rakshasas.
“Take a look at this.” Fyrehowl said as she looked down at something on the floor.
Two things actually: a gleaming silvery sword that was impaled several inches into the floor, and the severed head of the githyanki who had once wielded it.
“That’s her.” Clueless said as he looked at the head, the silver sword, and the ravaged body.
“Who?” Skalliska asked.
“The githyanki knight who had been traveling on that derelict ship we came across.” The bladesinger replied. “She fits the description the captain of the ship wrote in his journal.”
“Beheaded with her own sword…” Fyrehowl said, wincing.
“There’s the irony. But she did find what she came looking for.” Toras said with a frown. “A hell of a way to go however. Gods above what that must have been like…”
“And then there’s whatever is above us.” Fyrehowl pointed up where something glowed with a faint silvery-blue light on a floating platform nearly two stories up.
Clueless looked down at the Knight’s sword, impaled in the floor. It was beautiful.
“Hmm…” The bladesinger said as he looked at it, then curled his fingers around his own sword, the only one he had used in perhaps decades, maybe longer.
The githyanki blade was one of the liquid metal blades of the githyanki, one of the so-called silver swords. The githyanki considered them to be holy artifacts, and the secrets of their manufacture were jealously guarded by the gith who crafted them; some were even said to be created by the Lich Queen herself.
Clueless touched the other sword briefly, considering taking it even more briefly. Glittering jewels floated within the flowing matrix of the silver sword’s hilt, and the letters of a githyanki hymn ran along the center of the blade, true artistry in contrast to the bloody horror that spattered the walls.
Finally though, he moved away from the dead knight’s sword and shook his head. He was more than happy with his own blade, and more importantly, he was comfortable with it.
The bladesinger turned away from the sword impaled in the ground and joined the others in looking up towards the platform above them.
“So then, shall we check it out?” He asked.
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Fyrehowl said as she covered her nose with the sleeve of her robes. The smell was seriously making the lupinal wince, even more so than any of the others, and she was eager to hopefully escape from the range of the gagging odor.
As so as they turned to ascend towards the platform, where all of the bloody poetry seemed to spiral up towards and converge, Florian had a nagging thought stick in her mind. What if the githyanki corpses were undead, or might animate if the tower’s wards were interrupted? What if the Rakshasa-come-bloody calligraphist had used their victims as something more than simply inkwells?
“You alright Florian?” Toras asked, noticing the pause on the cleric’s face as she glanced over her shoulder at the bodies.
Florian waved away the fighter’s concern.
“Yeah, just a dumb thought I had in my head.” She said. “Nothing to worry about.”
The moment they began to break free from the gravity well, half a dozen eyes opened…
Silently, with a minor mental struggle against the gravity of Maanzecorian’s corpse below them, they ascended up to the floating platform. It was spartan, but while the platform itself was simple, the bloody writing upon the walls proceeded the entire distance up from the floor and onto the vaulted ceiling of the tower. There, directly above them, pointing to a pedestal in the center of the platform, the ceiling inverted into a sharply descending spike. The bloody script wrapped around the spike like a dagger pointing at a victim. And indeed, in a manner of speaking, a power’s corpse did indeed lie below.
Atop the platform and below the spike in the ceiling was a simple metal pedestal, though its smooth shaft was painted reddish brown in elaborate, ascending patterns writ in blood. Hovering an inch off the pedestal itself was a plain iron bowl filled to the brim with a shimmering silvery liquid, glowing with the pale wan light they had seen from below. Tristol looked at it curiously. His reflection played across its surface, polished like a mirror. It was liquid metal, almost like mercury in a way, and similar perhaps to the liquid metal used by the githyanki for their Knights’ swords.
In fact that’s exactly what it was, the enchanted silvery metal known to the Githyanki artificers as ‘godsblood’. The githyanki extracted the liquid from the bodies of certain dead gods by a technique considered sacred and holy to their race, and never shared with outsiders.
But then the surface shifted and changed, for a moment clouding over like drops of blood had fallen into water to dilute and disperse, clouding the previous purity of the surface. In that moment the bloody painted lines on the pedestal, bowl and interior of the tower itself all seemed to converge on the bowl and its liquid interior, completing the unholy dweomer like an artist’s signature upon a masterpiece with a mental impression of the disjointed, collective screams of the dead githyanki below. In the space of a second they witnessed the githyanki being slaughtered through the eyes of their killer.
Tristol stepped back, white as a sheet.
And then, without a sound, it was gone and the bowl’s interior was but glistening metal once again.
They heard them first; the snap of bones locking back into dislocated sockets, the wet slump of organs shifting in chest cavities open to the air, the intake of breath into slashed or torn throats, the clatter of broken armor as it moved, and from one of them a snarl as it retrieved its severed head and ripped its sword free from its godflesh scabbard.
“Oh sh*t…” Florian said as she whispered a prayer to detect the presence of undead.
The cleric’s eyes went wide.
They all turned and looked over the edge of the platform, but it was the worst thing they could have done. Below them, looking up, the beheaded corpse of the knight pointed its glistening, silvery sword as its eye sockets erupted in a greenish flame. The other six corpses were on their feet as well, and they each stared upwards, eyes burning with an utter hatred of the living. Six puissant gazes each polluted by a death at the hands of an evil great enough to linger on past the original unholy act, they stared upwards…
Florian clutched at her chest and toppled over the edge of the platform. Skalliska crumpled and dropped to the edge, lifeless.
The others looked into the eyes of the githyanki bodaks and felt something reach out from the eyes, wrenching into their chests, seeking their souls to snuff them out like candles.
“Gaaaah!” Toras shouted as pain flooded through his body for a moment before receding.
The same cries of pain came from the others, but also when the shouts were finished, they were all still breathing, all still alive.
They stood there in shock at the sight of Skalliska laying still and cold at the platform’s edge, and Florian’s body some forty feet below, sprawled on the ground with her neck twisted at a freakish angle.
Tristol went first, turning his gaze from the bodaks and hurling a tiny, sparkling bead down towards them, narrowly avoiding Florian’s body at the same time. The ball of fire erupted amongst the undead and caused them to snarl and shriek with inhuman voices.
“Don’t look at them. Avert your eyes and they can’t affect you.” Toras shouted.
Below, the solitary death knight cackled and pointed its sword at the fighter even as Clueless repeated Tristol’s previous spell and Fyrehowl loosed a frigid cone of ice upon the pack of shambling bodaks. Their aim might have been poor, their nerves shot from the shock of watching their friends die only moment’s before, but it was sufficient to leave all but one of the bodaks burnt or frozen, dead once more, upon the floor of the tower.
The death knight was untouched. The spells had either failed to affect it, or never touched it, the magic simply being absorbed like water to a sponge. And the unliving blasphemy was laughing at them as it returned their efforts full force.
Toras was hit first, and then Fyrehowl and Nisha as well. Erupting from the glistening, flowing metallic tip of its silver sword, a roaring column of black fire lanced up towards the platform where they stood. They dove for cover as best they could, and Clueless and Toras both jumped over the edge to fight the creature in close combat.
The remaining bodak was simply standing there, looking down at the crumpled githyanki bodies around it, then at the bloody walls. It screamed and clutched its head, then it ran its fingers across the mass of unbleeding wounds that had caused its death originally. It was remembering what happened to it and how it died. It was reliving the death of its fellows and then finally its merciful own.
Taking the initiative while the last bodak was stunned, not wanting it capable of using its gaze against her companions once more, Fyrehowl flung her sword at its head in a single fluid movement. There was a sickening crunch, a sound of bone and flesh crumpling as it fell to the floor, and then the clatter of metal on stone as her sword hit the stone a moment later.
Lacking anything that could cross the distance, and being rather ill equipped to fight the undead, Nisha simply stepped back and cringed. That of course lasted all of a few seconds before she hopped on top of Skalliska’s body and began to yell at her corpse about how she was ‘never going to go on any of her bloody adventures anymore. They were too dangerous. And too gross. And they smelled. And they had undead! She was going to stick to less dangerous pastimes… like tickling Slaadi or drinking in Tanar’ri bars!’
Meanwhile, on the surface, Toras and Clueless were both fending off the blows of the undead githyanki knight. While they would have been a formidable foe in life, in death they were as much an unholy terror as possibly the creature than had fashioned them as a watchdog for all intents and purposed. The death knight’s style of fighting was bizarre, and its sword was never the same shape from moment to moment, slash to slash, and stab to stab. They could only guess as to where exactly to block, or parry.
Still though, they had the odds in their favor, and eventually sent the pitiable creature back into death’s embrace more surely perhaps than the corpse of the god whom they fought upon.
Clueless put his foot against the death knight’s chest and freed his sword from where it had become lodged in the undead’s spine in his final, killing blow.
“Told you that you were better than any damn silver sword.” He said to his own sword like an old, cherished friend before impaling the knight’s sword back into the ground.
“Florian can raise them.” Nisha said as she descended down with Skalliska’s body held by the tail.
Toras looked at her like she had a hole in head.
Nisha dropped the kobold and looked at the cleric’s corpse.
“Wait…” She said, her tail drooping. “Sh*t…”
“Yeah…” Fyrehowl said as she too descended down. “Our only cleric is dead.”
“And we have bigger problems than that however.” Toras said. “Bodaks.”
“Which we killed.” Clueless replied.
Fyrehowl winced as she realized what Toras was implying.
“Oh hells…” Clueless said.
“Yeah.” Toras added. “We’ve got just under twenty four hours to get them raised from the dead or consecrated, or else they’ll be raised for us, and not exactly in the way we want.”
“Well what about all of this up here?!” Tristol shouted from above.
Nisha danced about nervously.
“Do what I’d do!” She shouted up to the aasimar.
“How the hell should I know what you’d do?!” Tristol shouted back down. “Since when are you predictable? I don’t know what you’d do.”
“Neither do I!” Nisha replied. Then in a softer voice, “That’s disturbing, ‘aint it?”
Tristol didn’t reply as he glanced down at the magic flowing through the pedestal. The sheer complexity of the wardings on the tower that extended out for nearly two miles, it boggled his mind, and the raw power floating through it was like almost nothing he had ever seen. He didn’t have a clue where to begin in unwinding the dweomers and dispelling the wards, and that assumed that he was powerful enough to accomplish that to begin with.
He glanced down over the edge to where the others had gathered Skalliska and Florian’s bodies, removed anything sharp, and dumped them both in a bag of holding. Tristol fidgeted nervously, much more so than perhaps he should have. The feel of the spells focused a few inches away were almost intoxicating, and the feeling was at once both distracting and enthralling. He simply couldn’t concentrate on what he needed to do.
“To hell with this.” He said, opting instead for whatever it was that Nisha might do.
Tristol kicked the pedestal as hard as he could, a spur of the moment action that seemed appropriate at the time. Not that he was really thinking, and in that Fyrehowl might have approved, but it wasn’t as if he’d had any great perception on what was appropriate or not, he just did it randomly for lack of any better idea.
The bowl of liquid metal rattled and tipped over the side of the pedestal, wildly careening to one side and spilling its contents over the spirals of bloody tracings, poetry and designs that it had previously been channeling and amplifying. As simply as that, the godisle’s warding was broken irrevocably.
A tremor raced through the tower and the bloody script scrawled upon its walls began to smoke and sizzle. Sudden, terrified screams could be heard dimly through the entryway.
“The Dreadnaught…” Fyrehowl said bluntly.
They looked at one another and bolted from the building.
The surface was a scene of absolute pandemonium. The githyanki were in full flight, abandoning their goblinoid slaves and scattering about in confusion. Some of them were simply vanishing in the glow of planeshifting magic if they were capable of it, and others stayed still in shock and terror, but most of them were making for the two buildings tethered in orbit, and the astral carracks docked along their connecting bridgework.
That was the worst thing that they could have done.
The silvery, timeless solitude of the Astral was broken in that moment as an ear-shattering roar washed over the surface of the godisle, jarring and terrible to behold. The Astral Dreadnaught bore witness to what had hitherto eluded its sight, flaunting and mocking its charge, and the beast was enraged beyond all reason.
Its silver chord spiraling back into the infinite depths of the Astral behind it, they watched as the Dreadnaught, servant of the Guardian of Dead Gods, crossed those two miles with frightening velocity, hurtling like a falling star towards the buildings in orbit, and the astral carracks that were just then hurling away the tethers to their moorings. It was too late for them.
The Dreadnaught slammed into the first of the buildings, ripping it fully in half with a single swipe of one massive arm. The rubble hurtled off into the silvery depths, and the beast opened its slavering maw as if to roar once more; that it did.
There was no sound. That was the first thing that they all noticed. But something else, something that erupted from the Dreadnaught’s mouth a moment later, they saw rather than heard. A rippling wave expanded from the Dreadnaught, currents of force slamming into the githyanki ships, rocking them forwards, sending one of them crashing into the second building were it erupted in flames as its magazine or magical engines detonated. The flames billowed over the Rakshasa’s tower in dribbling spheres as the lack of gravity caused them the ripple and wash like a liquid through the entirety of the structure.
The flames gutted the tower in those few moments before the wave of force from the Dreadnaught crossed the space between and blasted it into a cloud of broken stone after shredding the githyanki ships one by one in agonizing sequence. Twisted deck plates, broken timbers, and shattered stone hurtled off at random, mad trajectories through the void while a fine red mist drifted up like bloody froth from the largest remaining portions of the gutted ships as they spun off out of sight.
There could have been no survivors; the destruction was almost absolute. And oddly, the Dreadnaught never once looked down at the mortals who had broken the wards keeping it at bay. By luck or intent, its terrible, magic nullifying gaze passed them over and its fury never gave them worry. Not so for the few remaining githyanki or the hapless petitioners upon the surface though. In the next, scant few minutes, the Dreadnaught crushed them in its claws or simply devoured them whole, picking them out of the air or scooping them up from the surface as it passed back and forth over the godisle.
Perhaps ten minutes later and it was gone, back off into the void with only the dead and its mortal accomplices left upon the surface. In astonishment they looked up after it for some time, gazing speechlessly at the carnage orbiting within the gravity well of the godisle, a cloud of blood and ruin.
“…” Nisha opened her mouth but nothing came out. Whatever she had planned to say, it simply stuck in her throat, the statement stillborn.
“Holy f*ck!” Clueless said after some uncertain time in which they’d just stared without a word said.
There was little else to be said, truth be told. And while they still had the remainder of Skalliska’s original journey to complete, the kobold was dead, and so was their cleric. They had twenty-four hours to return to Sigil, or anywhere that they might be able to raise them both before they rose on their own accord as bodaks. Neither Levistus nor any other powerful patron owed them any favors; this would be entirely their own problem to fix, and time was passing…
With only a cursory check on Skalliska’s planar sextant, hoping to find an appropriate portal or color pool, they shot off into the silvery void without another word, praying that they wouldn’t run out of time.
The room was awash in blood. The githyanki watched on as it happened, though truth be told, they were sickened by it, and they watched only out of fear of their Rakshasa mistress and her brother who lay immobilized and under her knife, gutted open but somehow alive, conscious, and utterly silent through it all. He had not said a word as she slowly tore him apart, inch-by-inch; not a single scream, not even a whimper. Nothing.
She stared into Siddhartha’s eyes, glowing and quivering against the pain. She smiled and twisted the knife more. Eventually he would break and he would scream, admitting to his failure and his inferiority in station compared to her. She flicked the tip of the blade against the 10th cranial nerve, applying just the right amount of pressure to make it fire. The magically immobilized Rakshasa’s gut twitched and jerked, his bowels voiding themselves uncontrollably upon the floor.
“And that is what you are to me now.” She said. “Sh*t. Filth. Waste.”
He looked up at her, somehow remaining conscious through it all, but he did not reply. She would have her enjoyment and then it would be over. He was too useful to her to be killed. Like any feline predator, he would be toyed with before she killed him, and there was still far too much time, far too much to accomplish, for her to care enough to dispose of him. He simply had to wait and endure. He had no say, he had no choice in the matter, and his failure had simply given her the opportunity to indulge herself.
She snarled and twitched the tip of her tail impatiently. Her hand held the knife in place but her mind reached out to caress the 9th cranial nerve, touching it, manipulating its pattern of information that his brain would interpret as coming from his tongue.
“As I said.” She whispered lovingly. “That is what you are to me now.”
He gagged at the taste that flooded his mouth. He said nothing in reply as her snarling, feral maw came closer and her mind touched his.
I must commend you on your show of endurance. After all, you couldn’t appear weak to the githyanki that will serve you once more after this is said and done. But we have days before I set you loose to make amends for your failure. Till then however, and shortly from now, all pretense is dropped, I dismiss our servants, and I begin to take this personally you do realize…
Softly, Siddhartha began to whimper.
Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 01:18 PM #983
Novice (Lvl 1)
Note to self........never EVER piss off a dreadnought!
Nice update Shem.
What level are the group to fall under the gazes of some wussy Bodak's? You just can't get the staff these days!
Also, Clueless, what is that blade you wield? Must be something special to not want to take that silver sword?
Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 01:20 PM #984
When in doubt, kick it . And nothing like having your enemy beat itself. Disturb some warding circle, provide information to the right persons, destroy the only thing keeping an astral dreadnought away from them ...
Edit: Baatorian Greensteel and his only reminder from before his amnesia, that's what I remember. Also you don't *keep* silver swords without making a lot of enemies and Clueless sure has enough of those ...
Last edited by Dakkareth; Saturday, 23rd July, 2005 at 01:25 PM.
Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 01:57 PM #985
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by Darmanicus
Clueless had a sword that was getting rather weak by that point, but as a bladesinger he can't just pick up a new weapon without taking a year or so IIRC to acclimate himself to it before he can use any of his bladesinger abilities with it.
And yeah, the fact that the githyanki will hunt you down mercilessly if you have it. And yeah, it was indeed a +5 vorpal one. And I put it out there wondering if anyone would bite. And they didn't. I was proud of 'em
Edit: and yeah, that greensteel sword will be getting better fairly soon. Nearly killed himself in the process too.
Saturday, 23rd July, 2005, 05:56 PM #986
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Darmanicus
As a bladesinger, Clueless has probably an equal respect for his blade as the knight did for hers. Switching blades 'just because this ones cooler' would have been an insult to both blades and his training as a bladesinger. He left the silver sword as a testiment to its owner.
In either case, Razor *does* make improvements later on as you'll see. By the end of the campaign, Razor is an artifact. (Fey + Heavy Magic = Much Risk Taking and DM Fun)
Originally Posted by The Fuzzy One
Last edited by Clueless; Saturday, 23rd July, 2005 at 06:02 PM.
Sunday, 24th July, 2005, 10:57 AM #987
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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ø Block demiurge1138
Wow... just wow.
Excellent update, Shemmie. It went from bad... to worse... to even worse. And that's the best use for bodak's I've seen. Also, the female rakshasa seems to have learned a few torture tips from the vaathi.
Monday, 25th July, 2005, 08:09 AM #988
Novice (Lvl 1)
Originally Posted by Shemeska
I saw that end coming though. Of course the Baern weren't doing for altruistic purposes... I thought it might have been something a wee bit different, like being a lodestone of misery stretched across the multiverse... it is "rooted" in the plane of ultimate evil (though devotees of the domain of dread may disagree).
Bravo... give them a moral quandry that interferes with the timeline of their original goals. Would hate to want to play an Exalted character in your campaign!
Monday, 25th July, 2005, 09:08 AM #989Originally Posted by primemover003
Tuesday, 26th July, 2005, 02:38 PM #990
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Hey wow - this SH is mentioned on the front page! Cool!
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