The Grand Illusion

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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Wed Jul 27, 2016 2:53 pm

Leal can't actually *speak* the formian tongue with her current enhancement in place, though she can at least understand them. She hopes they can understand at least a little bit of the Common tongue as she speaks. "Greetings, friends! We apologize for the intrusion, but we come looking for a friend of ours. Can you help us?"

The small creatures make no attempt to communicate, though their antennae twitch as if in response to each other as they simply push forward...

Common may simply be too complex for what these formian workers are accustomed to...

Arelliano remains where he is at the ready.

Roxie stays put, hoping the big nice formian guys are willing to ignore the group, or even help find the gnome.

Leal narrows her eyes as she studies their movements, and mutters. "Oghma's blood. They don't understand, and they certainly don't like us."

Roxie considers.... or... after hearing that....

"We're probably going to have to defend ourselves, but try to do it carefully? I'd rather not fight an entire hive if they've come back in numbers, not least because we'll never find Gemwir that way."

Roxie pulls out a scroll and casts from it.

The formians are actually only about 3' long, from head to the tip of their hindquarters, and come upon them 2x2...

Leal tries again more simply, hoping maybe that will have a slightly better effect. "Hold! Peace!"

No effect.

Confused after hearing Leal," Umm how do we defend ourselves carefully?" Zion goes against the wall and is prepared to go to total defense if the ants attack.

"Hold them back, try to stun or incapacitate rather than killing them. I'm honestly not sure, I don't exactly carry a lot of options for that myself," Leal admits.

"Nice! this should be fun then." Zion holds back for now.

Leal does have one option to hand, and she figures this is as good a time as any to use it. If it stymies them and delays, great, if not, it's at least good for keeping them stacked up rather than overwhelming her friends and the way out of here... She chants hurriedly, her words of power clipped and precise, and suddenly the tunnel the formians are emerging from is covered in a slick, greasy layer of black slime.

One of them comes forward without seeming to notice the magic, but its follower slips in the grease behind it...

The others enter into The range of Leal's spell without hesitation...

"Maybe we should move down the hall while they're stuck here?" she says after the grease spell goes off.

The other formians seem to have little trouble with Leal's magic, barreling forward...

The forward formian misses Leal, but their intentions are clear. Its comrades crawl over their struggling companion...

"Lets go...while they are delayed,” Arelliano encouraged.

Leal nods to Roxie and Arelliano. "The tunnel ahead turns left, then opens up leftward after a ways, but I couldn't tell what lay beyond. Maybe fewer giant ants, though, so possibility of improvement."

"I'd rather not have us fighting in a hall again if we do run into more,” Roxie says.

Arelliano moved forward 5 feet and attempted to trip the lead fomorian with his spiked chain. “Get behind me...and go"

Zion listens to the talk behind him and is ready to move when they are," And away I go then!".

Arelliano delays his action hoping that they will do what he asks...

The group moves down as Arelliano moves forward and tries to buy them time with his chain!

Arelliano can move all the way up to the position in front now, and attempt to trip, with the spiked chain.

The party shuffles about in the hall, allowing the big man room to do what he does.

Arelliano misses horribly.

Arelliano's swing goes high, the formian hesitating an instant to throw the big man's timing off, it continues

Leal moves back to give everyone else some more room to work, and to put herself in better position to retreat away from the advancing horde. At the same time, she's suddenly feeling more than a little exposed, and she pulls out a scroll. She chants, her voice echoing with someone else's voice as she advances through the litany of power words, and swirling fragments of blue-white flaming energy crystallize into a field of force about her person.

Roxie takes off down the hall and looks around the corner. She sees a long hall that looks to open up into a large room, but she can't see much more far into the darkness...

Zion moves to follow the two that already down the hall.

The party moved away, leaving Arelliano to fend for himself against the formians, who moved to overwhelm him... The first formian makes a swipe at the Big Man and misses badly, then attempts to skitter between his legs to get behind him...

Arelliano manages to drag the beast to the ground. Since he is not trying to kill anyone he does not follow it up with another attack...

As the creature ducks under Arelliano, he whips his chain out and turns it belly-up, preventing any of its mates from advancing forward! Some of them slip in the grease!

As the creatures attempt to push forward relentlessly, Arelliano moves back, covering the party's escape...

Leal keeps moving quickly down the tunnel, her light at the read as she tries to figure out where the tunnel ahead goes--hoping it's not to more formians. She feels silly doing this so unsubtly, but with Arelliano holding the rear, she gets the sense she needs to figure out if the way forward is safe quickly, lest the big man get overwhelmed and the way out be closed.

Roxie'll hold her ground for now then. She pulls out a scroll in case the opportunity comes to use it.

Zion fishes out his two candle bright red Chaser's Glowing Orbs, in his one hand while holding his sword in the other hand. He moves toward Arelliano to give him some light as he retreats. He moves toward Arel about 15' to give him some light then. "This is the best I can provide for a light source, Arel! I hope you can work with this."

The formian before Arelliano tries to right itself, exposing it to the Big Man's attempts again... He keeps it on its back and retreats down the hall, motioning for Zion to do the same...

With her walking stick held high in one hand, lighting the way, she jogs further on down the hall, looking into the next room for obvious threats as the passageway opens.

Roxie casts the spell from the scroll and an angelic looking fire beetle appears in the hall and charge towards the formians.

The beetle is truly glowing, illuminating that portion of the hall. Roxie nods at her handy work and then takes off down the next hall.

Leal calls out down the tunnel. "Some sort of prison up here, it looks like. I don't see an obvious way ahead..." But she moves in to check the room out further, as quickly as she can. They must have taken a wrong turn somewhere--unless Gemwir's in a cell, he didn't come this way, and he probably didn't head past the formians...

The celestial beetle goes to down on the indefensible formian, nearly killing it!

Zion turns and runs to catch up with Roxie and Leal

The one nearly dying formian attempts to right itself again, while the others bunch up behind it...

The beetle attempts to finish impailing the formian, but instead the formian rights itself and scoots back, allowing its ally forward! It's mate misses the beetle, however...

Arelliano moves back further to cover them...

No obvious exit. The area is obviously a prison, but its workings are alien to Leal, having seen the guts of the Watch's holding cells. Even the doors look awkward. It looks like they may slide from one side to another, or up, even, but their mechanism is foreign to her without further investigation. Bones lie within 2 of the cells along with remnants of clothing...

Roxie runs down the hall to catch up with Leal. Meanwhile, the beetle bites again.

"That's not good..." Leal mutters and then moves back around the corner to look at Roxie and Zion. "No way out ahead. We have to either lure them down here to fight in the open, or force our way through and back the way we came. I don't even think I can work the cells to try and somehow trap these things, at least without a little study."

Roxie's beetle is unable to inflict any more damage to the formians, despite its efforts.

Zion catches up to Roxie yet again to hear the bad news.

Even as she says that, though, Leal notices something on the wall back in the room. "Actually..." A moment's pause. "Maybe that's not true. If we want to try, I might be able to get the doors working."

The uninjured formian snaps at the Beetle again, the others waiting behind it to move forward at the first opportunity...

It's too small to do anything effective against the beetle...

Leal sees Arelliano falling back further, and figures that's that decision made, at least for the moment. She heads back into the prison to see what she can figure out with the cells--if she can get them open, she can perhaps work them in such a way that the party can get the formians in them.

The beetle fades into nothing... The formians try to move forward.

Roxie runs after Leal. "What's up here?"

In response to Roxie, Leal gestures to the wall in front of her, where four levers sit in the wall at a little under her waist height. The middle two levers are up, the outer two are down.

Zion keeps moving to catch up with the others

Logically, it would seem these levers are associated with the 6 cells around them, all closed.

Two of the cells have the remnants of humanoid prisoners, bones and the like. There are old, elevated platforms/tables, though they are not humanoid height. It is uncertain their purpose. They are moveable.

You note there is no metal here, the entire place is made of a dark stone. Is it stone?

Roxie seems to be distracted by something in one of the cells.

The formians methodically continue their advance, without any sort of urgency, even the wounded one.

Arelliano cursed in Giantish. "Company coming." He falls back to the only defensive position he can find. Now he and Zion are covering Leal and Roxie to ensure they can hopefully do whatever they plan to do.

Leal ponders the levers for a long moment. Given a notion of how the machinery might work, she decides to test her understanding by flipping both outer levers up, which she expects to open all the cells. With a great groan all cell doors rise up into the ceiling...

"Okay, I can go all-open and all-closed at least. If we can lure them into one or two of the cells, we can trim the numbers a bit and hopefully not provoke anything that might be higher on the ladder than these guys."

With the doors open, Roxie steps into one of the cells to grab something.

Everyone notes the Hin dip into one of the cells and remove something from it.

Roxie seems to be grabbing something from one of the cells occupants.

Zion steps back 20' and stops there," I hope the open doors can distract them into going in them then.", he says as he guards the area he stops at.

Leal ponders. "Roxie, can you summon another creature? With Arelliano being the one who's aggravated them most, I think we can use him to catch most of them in one cell without putting him at too much risk, but I have to have a piece to knight-gambit with."

Roxie replies, "I can. I have one summon spell left." She says that as she looks at the parchment she just took.

Everyone notices the parchment in her hands... Except for Arelliano, as he is some distance away.

She nods, and then finds herself distracted. "What is that?" Leal, looking curiously at the parchment, seems like she would drop unconscious to the floor.

"I saw this in that cell," Roxie says while reading.

With Zion guarding, he doesn't look to see what Leal and Roxie are doing. He waits for the ants

Just as she seemed to lose herself, Leal suddenly recoverd, if by some sort of miraculous happenstance. She wobbles for a moment as she glances at the parchment, a sudden fugue coming over her...and then there's a brief glint of light from beneath her silken shirt, and she snaps back to full consciousness!

Arelliano waits to lure in the formians, while the others try to do what they can to help. Meanwhile, it looks like Roxie has uncovered some sort of map...

"Oghma's burning books," she breathes as she realizes what nearly happened, and suddenly thinking the amulet might be worth something to her after all besides hilarious levels of awfulness...
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:21 pm

When last we left... the steady, formulaic advance of the formian workers echoes down the hall...
Leal doesn't feel particularly sanguine about her plan the more she ponders it: Use Arelliano, perhaps accompanied by some illusory partymates, to lure the formians into one or two of the cells, then lock them in and transpose Arelliano out with a summoned creature. But she may be stuck with it at this point, unless any of her allies have a better idea...

“How about if we just blast them whil they're still coming down the hall?” Roxie wonders.

"The tables...we could use the tables to force them into the pens,” Arelliano offers.

"I'm trying my best not to kill the bloody things,” Leal comments, “Gemwir implied they have a hive-mind, and I figure we're going to run into bigger--and more importantly, smarter--ones at some point. I'm hoping if we do, leaving these alive will weigh in our favor if we're forced into diplomacy."

"Force them into one of the cells by blocking off the rest of the hall, and then lock the door on them?"

"Yes," Arelliano says.

Leal considers. "...That's substantially better than my idea, yeah."

"Well, we can't butcher them,then this is what we have to do then,” Zion shrugs. "Works for me then too."

Arelliano will move the first of the tables.

Leal glances over them. "We should only have to move a couple, I think--flip over the middle two, then take the nearest two to those and flip up one on either side to angle against the wall, funnel them into each of the first two cells? Are they big enough for that?"

"I think they should fit in one cell,” Roxie notes. Roxie angles the table to form a wall. Or at least a wall for normal height people like herself.

Leal moves up to help flip a table forward and block the path to the formians, hoping the controls are light enough that she can work them from here.

Zion helps with turning any tables over to appear wall like when it is his turn

The party has to turn the tables vertical, otherwise the formians can see over them and subsequently, see you. Likewise, to span the distance of 20' from cell door to cell door requires *more* than 4 tables. If the tables are set in diagonal squares, more tables will be required to cover the gaps.

Roxie also braces herself against the table in case these guys want to try to push it out of the way.

A bit of mental math and scrambling has the party forming a wall of 5 4' squares by the time the formians get to the room, they turn the corner immediately and seem confused, not seeing over the tables and subsequently split their number 3 to a side. Three go into the left cell, but they are there before the other three...

Zion tips a table over and turns so it appears like Arel's and Roxie's. He then ducks down behind it to brace against the table from being moved by the ant people.

Leal grimaces, not having had quite enough time to figure out the levers beyond "All up means all open, outside two town means all closed." As she crouches behind one of the tables at the back to ensure the formians don't see her back there, she watches the left-side formians move into their side's cell first, and waits ready--if the formians on that side start to move out before the others move in, she'll try to flip one lever first rather than doing them both.

They enter until they cannot move forward, then turn up. Of course, the cell bars let them see the party! Antennae go up! However, it seems the other half enter the cell fully and turn to see them, as if also confirming the silent communication!

The timing is right, thankfully, despite the formians' staggered entry, and she pulls both of the outside levers down.

The cell doors groan and shudder...

Then slam shut.

The formians mill about within for several long moments, and then begin slowly to carve at the stone cell bars, stacking on top of one another and focusing on a single bar...

And they shut just as Arelliano's adrenaline rush subsides and he sits down breathing thankfully that this is done for the time being."

This gives you some time to get back by them, but eventually, they are going to chew their way out...

Leal exhales, in at least half-disbelief that this plan actually worked, but then sees the formians' new plan. "Yeah, that just about figures. Let's move on quickly, and see if we can find Gemwir."

"Are we done here?” Roxie asks, “If so, let's get out of here quick."

Watching them work away at the bar, Zion notes, "They don't give up." He start to leave listening to Leal's advice

Leal nods to Roxie, and starts heading back the way they came, jogging as close to a full run as she can to avoid barreling into walls or unknown places, then pausing just around the corner from the room the formians came from, peering in to ensure there are no new threats to be wary of.

Roxie follows along behind as quickly as she can.

Arelliano follows the ladies as best he can trying to quickly recover from the sickened feeling...

There seems to be a dim light source in the room beyond. It looks like it's full of square columns.

Seeing some sort of light source, Leal decides to investigate, moving a little more cautiously but still at a pace cognizant of the threat chewing its way out in the darkness behind her.

Zion takes the end of the group to keep them guarded from any more trouble, and till Arel is feeling better.

What Leal finds beyond is a very large room full of square columns that rise up about 15' to the ceiling. The columns themselves are crystalline in nature, as if very fine grains of what looks exactly like sugar. There are several dozen columns here.

There is a soft, magical light illuminating the entire space from above. Probably continual flame.

Roxie peeks around the corner and waits for a signal from Leal.

"...fascinating," Leal breathes in the pale light. Not being accosted by anything from the corners, she moves on in, giving Roxie a gesture to follow. She's tempted to take a small sample of one of the columns, and if it looks like she can snap away a small piece as she moves by, she'll go ahead and do so (cramming it into an empty spot in her component pouch) before moving on towards the exit of the room.

Arelliano followed along.

Roxie scampers into the room as Leal moves onward.

Beyond this room, several other identical rooms lie waiting down a long, dimly lit hall. There are no doors or furniture here, just the feeling of a warehouse storage facility.

The place is deathly quiet. The only sound, your footfalls and occasional wonder.

Zion follows behind Arelliano, fascinated by the crystal like column. he takes the his hand and takes a piece of the crystal if he can for later inspection.

The column is a bit crusty, but easy to extract a sample from.

Leal finds the transition from crusty crystalline columns and magical light to mundane warehouse a little jarring, but so long as the way remains safe, she continues on, moving as quietly as she can in her haste.

Zion puts the piece in his pouch for a better time to examine the fascinating object he has now.

Roxie moves along too while wondering what the formians were doing in here.

The rest of these rooms are mostly fully preserved sugar storage. There is some sort of outer casing protecting the organic material from quick decay. You can see through layers of dust the formians were busy here, protecting the vast store of foodstuffs for their fallen society. Only a few rooms down this loooooong hall and the sugar storage has folded in on itself and rotted. The floor is slick with the decay of the sugary substance. Apparently, those 6 were only in charge of caring for that particular section of the storage facility.

The place is massive. Empty. Your footprints are now the first in what look like a very, very long time.

She's also looking for any place that could conceivably hide a secret door, or not so secret door, out of this place. It's unfathomable that this is nothing but sugar storage.

After following the others for a bit, Zion wonders, " Does anyone think the Captain went this way?"

Leal gives a little grimace at the sticky floor and what is sure to be a potent combination of musty tunnel and rotting sugar smells. And then she sighs, speaking quietly. "I'm becoming pretty sure Gemwir didn't come this way. Too much dust, too much tarry residue on the floor, not enough footprints."

"Would have been hard for him to do so and get past those things wouldn't it?" Arelliano comments.

"You're probably right on that,” Roxie agrees. “Let's go check out another passage before the antmen come back."

"I haven't found another passage up here,” Leal says, “we'd need to go back downstairs."

"The Captain has magic and could've gotten past any ant things down here." Zion mumbles and continues to follow the others.

"This is also true," Roxie says to Zion.

Leal nods. "I could easily see him using invisibility to get past the formians. I'm just not sure how he'd have avoided leaving any trace at all, unless he's packing flight or some sort of climbing spell as well."

"Well if he didn't come this way then we should probably get out of here as quickly and quietly as we can," Arelliano suggests.

Roxie walks to one of the walls and seems to be looking up at it, or something on it. "Say.... Do those spots on the wall look like footprints to anyone else?" She points at something on the wall.

Zion stops and then moves closer to what he finds along the side of the wall about 10' up. "Would those be considered gnome footprints?" he asks as he points to what he is looking at.

Leal glances over to where Roxie's looking...and facepalms. "Yes, they look like a gnome using a climbing spell. Because I'm an idiot, of course he has one of those too."

Roxie and Zion seem to be looking at the same thing. A faint trail along the side of the wall, about 10' up. Footprints appropriately gnome-sized.

“We are going the right way then,” Zion pats Roxie on the shoulder,"You have a good eye of catching those marks on the walls."

Roxie shrugs. "Maybe."

"Nice catch." Leal smiles wanly, clearly getting a little frustrated at the inability of her senses to keep up with what even her brain thinks ought to be there. "Let's move on ahead, then--and let me know if I miss them splitting off somewhere."

"Yup." Roxie begins following the trail on the wall.

Now that it seemed apparent the gnome was galavanting about the place in a fashion uncustomary to the group, everyone's senses seem to dial themselves up a notch.

Eventually, these rooms open into a broad processing center, an open area for what looks like shaping and forming blocks of the sugary substance for storage. You do, in fact, spot an occasional disturbance in the floor, typically around some sort of degraded portion of the place, as if it were being studied, where the footprints dip from the wall curiously. The stairs leading up clearly mark the gnome's passage.

Leal moves alongside Roxie for a bit, keeping her eyes peeled but trusting the halfling's sight as much as her own for the moment. She ponders idly if there's any apparent pattern to the disturbances that Gemwir apparently noticed, even sparing a moment or two to look one over in a little more depth as they move. Once they hit the stairs, Leal glances on up to see what lies ahead.

From this huge workspace the way ahead is almost as broad as a street. The stone steps move up and the place remains dimly lit by the lingering magic of its former occupants. It is approximately 20' up the broad stairway to the next level.

Roxie continues to follow the footprints.

This space feels very open. As you step in, a broad avenue stretches before you, with a large column of stone rising into the ceiling of this naturally formed cave. Other, natural formations also spiral up here, in this large space. It is truly an underground city!

Roxie look in awe and the huge vacant city. "Who built this place again?"

Leal doesn't seem to learn anything interesting from looking at the stone, at least nothing she feels is worth bugging the rest of the group with, though she continues to look singularly impressed as she realizes the implications of some of the architecture...and that's even before the place opens up into subterranean civilization, which truly renders her speechless.

Following the others and keeping an eye on the walls to follow the footprints has kept Zion preoccupied until they come into the natural formed city cavern, he stops and stares in disbelief," I really didn't think it was possible to have an underground city, but I've just been proven wrong!", he says quietly but excitedly

Roxie pulls out that map again and compares it to what they see around them.

What perhaps you all would consider glassless windows circulate in ascending fashion around the stone formations that rise from floor to ceiling here. You could imagine thousands of formians milling about here, and there is space for not only their workers, but for much larger creatures to move through here as well.

The top of this cave is perhaps 100' above you. You all see around the edges of the place, this cavern stretches for perhaps a quarter mile. Its vastness is indeed staggering.

"And one dragon destroyed this city?" Zion whispers. "Unbelievable."

Leal shakes her head at the sheer spectacle, exhaling a little bit. Then she nods to Zion. "Indeed. It's not just what it clearly took to build this city, awesome in itself...but what it must have taken to seize it from the formians."

Stairs criscross the walls, and there are hundreds of places those stairs lead to. It would take the four of you months to look through the whole place. It is all aruin as you move further in, however. You can see the remnants of an ancient battle. The stone is blasted to glass in places, burnt black in others, melted in yet others. Large chunks of the walls and ceiling have likewise collapsed. From the entrance, you find the terrain gets trickier the further in you move.

Roxie rolls the map back up and puts it in a scrollcase. "That's for another time I guess." then, looking around, she adds. "Obviously this place was built with more than just formians in mind. Those doorways are bigger. We might want to start marking our trail so we don't get lost."

Leal smirks, albeit with a bit of a grimace behind it. "I did figure we might meet something bigger at some point, based on what Gemwir said."

"Good idea, Roxie,” Zion says, and he looks around to see if any of the Captain Gemwir's prints have marked where the gnome might of went.

"All the same,” Leal replies, “still thinking I'd rather avoid them than try to deal, whatever they are. And yes, we should definitely be marking our trail now." She digs into her ever-present hip pouch, but instead of the journal she carries everywhere, she pulls out one of the charcoal writing sticks alone.

As you move further into this space, the dust seems to do little to the stone here, in other words, the place is so vast tracking footprints through it might require a bit more skill.

Leal ponders as she continues trying to follow the increasingly difficult-to-find trail. "You know, we've kept to his path so far even when we didn't know where it was, in part because we know where he wants to go--and it's the same place we want to go. Locate a focal point where we might find a ship, and he'll be heading that way."

"That sounds logical enough to me,” Roxie comments. Lead on."

“Sounds easy enough," Zion agrees. " But where do we head now?"

After a moment to consider her own words, Leal speaks again. "Maybe we should actually head up one of the columns and get a better vantage of the city? A destination might become obvious in better context."

Leal's words seem to bring about a bit of clarity. Looking for an airship? Up might be good!

“Sure!” Roxie replies eagerly. “At the very least it'll have a good view."

"I knew there was a good reason I decided to stick with you two in the beginning,” Zion smiles, "and even happier with Arelliano joining us too."

Before you there are three of these 'chutes', which will you ascend?

Leal nods and glances towards the various columns. She looks for one that appears to have ample views out over the city--and failing that, looking for the one that reaches the highest. If both of those tactics fail her? Take the one closest to the middle.

The center column before you is bigger than the other two, but not the largest that you can see. All of them reach the ceiling.

In another reality, where Leal isn't a bookish scholar with decidedly non-mainstream views on that sort of thing, she might crack a joke about whether size matters. As it stands, she merely glances to the others and shrugs. "Hm...take the biggest one and go from there?"

Zion nods," Sure sounds good to me."

You investigate the chutes before you to see which might give you ample vantage, and find the interiors of them to be mostly crumbling. Views from their upper tiers reveal more columns before you. Ascending to the top takes a while, and a bit of maneuvering, but you manage. There you find a series of dizzying tunnels that seem to connect all of the other columns so that the formians may travel to and from above, below, and all around this central hub. Eventually, you come upon a view that impresses you beyond even that which you've already scene. Ahead, the entire wall is lined with crisscrossing stairs and quarters. There is another main stair leading up. THis wall is perhaps 100 yards across x 100' high and is set with military precision. Arelliano recognizes it instantly as the colony's barracks.

"At least the terrain in these columns is a little better than what it looks like down on the streets..." She breathes a little heavily as they ascend, concentrating on maneuvering safely through the crumbling wrecks...and then they come upon that Escherian latticework of stairs and quarters, and her brain takes a moment to twist it into something coherent.

You are perhaps 150 yards from it and the stairs to the next level. About 50 yards from you are the last columns into the ceiling. Before you are several squat, square structures and open grounds that look entirely built for training and maintaining an army. All ravaged, ruined, and routed by the monstrous efforts of the great wyrm...

Arelliano sees them first, then Leal, then Roxie, who points for Zion.

Easily visible at the foot of the broad stair leading up are a pair of large, reptilian creatures. Their thick, pebbly skin is grayish-brown, fading to dun on the belly. They have yellow, egg-shaped eyes with horizontal slit pupils. Their limbs protrude from their sinuous bodies at odd angles. Their heads swing from side to side atop thin necks. Their narrow skulls have sloping foreheads that end in protruding brows. They stand about seven feet tall, and remain almost completely still except for their eyes, which scan their surroundings in earnest. Each bear a pair of broad curved blades on their hip and lean back on tails that must be almost 9 or 10 feet long, supporting themselves languidly. Each bears a third khopesh strapped across their back. What these creatures can do with 3 such weapons is anyone's guess. It's obvious to all of you they guard the way up. They are bigger, even, than Arelliano...

Leal darts behind some sort of nearby cover upon getting an eyeful of these things, racking her brain not just to try and figure out if she knows what they are, but also what purpose they might be serving here...

Seeing that they need to hide, Zion hides also.

Arelliano follows suit trying to conceal his large frame if possible.

"I actually remember these, I think. They remind me of one of Zamir's stories about the stingtails, the most dangerous of the species they called asabi."

"Great. So what are they doing here?" Roxie says quietly.

Leal closes her eyes as if remembering a particular tale. "They're brutish but capable in combat, and the tails are prehensile. And they're dumb enough that they're almost certainly working on someone or something else's behalf."

From your vantage point you see that you will have to make your way down into the former military grounds in order to approach these lizard-things. There are plenty of places to approach and hide, but the terrain might not be so nice...

"Not so dumb as the formians from earlier, mind,” Leal adds. “But I don't expect to parley with them."

"I'd rather avoid them if possible," Roxie remarks.

They don't seem to be working on any sort of pattern of patrol. They simply stand there, almost immovable, scanning the area ahead of them with their narrowed yellow eyes.

"I would agree,” Leal adds, “If we can cut around somehow, that would be preferable, even if the terrain slows us down. They're right at the base of the stairs up, though--if we want by, we're either going to have to go through them or do something really creative."

"Do you have any illusion spells memorized?" Roxie asks.

"I have a couple of scrolls for making simple figments,” Leal replies.

The stair, set amidst a military stronghold, boasts nothing in your field of vision that would indicate circumventing its entrance. This is most likely the point.

"So we need to come up with something that would get their attention,” Roxie offers, “but is simple enough for a basic illusion."

Zion frowns as he listens.

Based on your opinion of the situation, it is likely, provided you take some precautions, that you could find somewhere to recover your strength and plan your attack as well as rest nearby. The formians don't seem to have followed you out, and there's no sign of the gnome. Yet.

"Do you think we could sneak into the ruins and find a place to rest?" Arelliano asks them.

"Probably,” Roxie replies. “This place is huge, and those guys don't seem to be moving from their post. As long as we don't run into the next shift someplace, we should be fine to rest up."

The tunnels along the ceiling or any of the chutes could provide such respite, some of them were rooms of a sort, though there use is alien to you, their furnishings carved from the very stone.

The vantage point where you sit now would even suffice. THere is enough room here for you all to move around comfortably. However it is likely you'd want to guard yourself from any unexpected guests from above or below (or just above, or just below, wherever you end up).

Leal nods. "A rest sounds good. I'd say let's see if we can't move to the top or bottom of this column first so we have one less point of entry to guard, but otherwise this area seems fine."

Let's back away from these guys and find someplace where our lights aren't going to attract attention,” the Hin suggests.

"If we could get a spot where we only had to worry about something approaching from below, we could rest and have the tactical advantage of high ground," Arelliano adds.

Zion nods in agreement with Arelliano but says nothing.

Continual flame spells (or some version of them) dimly light the entire area.

"It sounds like we're in agreement,” Leal says, “Find a high spot, ideally one where any extra light we conjure beyond the ambient won't draw attention, and settle in for a bit."

Toward the end of the tunnels, they open into a broad expanse where the entire are forms a shelf of sorts, with no obstructions to viewing the field below. Set back further away from its edge is a large oval chamber with a raised platform and etched in the stone, a map of the entire colony. The war room. Two massive stone doors, now shattered, once barred entry to all save those sanctioned, long ago.

This seems as good a place as any to try and rest.

"Wonder of all wonders, that we stumble upon a room with a map." Zion casually states.

"I like that," says the Hin.

As Leal realizes that along with this room comes a map of the colony, she smiles broadly--for the first time in quite some time. "Indeed," she responds to Zion. "Outstanding."

Though there is really no way for a dragon to have ever fit in this space, despite its quite large size, and its sort of amphitheater nature, the map is clawed in several places. These markings are old to your eyes.

"It is nice," Zion adds.

Arelliano nodded. "So it would seem.”

"Except for the creature or person that clawed it some, we might be able to make use of it?" Zion asks the question in general to everyone

"Anything is better than what we know now, which is virtually nothing," Roxie notes.

Clawed in places or not, Leal immediately grabs her journal again, and with what bits of charcoal she has left from marking their path, she sets to trying to replicate the map. If there's any text, she just happens to have a second use of her interpreting spell handy, and uses that to translate as needed.

“True." Roxie frowns as he looks at the map.

Arelliano for his part simply stared at the map trying to memorize it as best he could.

Roxie looks it over, then looks for a place to rest up for a while.

The language of hashes and dots she deciphers well enough with her magic. She learns exactly what they have discovered thus far, that it is, in fact, the ruin of Dorion. That you have come up through its wasted disposal level, through its food storage facility, and are now in its war room. There is one more level above, and looks like THIS...

The dot-and-hash language intrigues Leal as well; once she translates the text and her interpretation spell expires, she goes back and transcribes the text onto her map again in its original form. Perhaps it will be useful later in trying to translate the language if it appears on something else...?
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:20 pm

When last we left our intrepid adventures, they'd found a place to get a full night's rest and reflect on what they've learned so far...

From their observations, the choke point for where they would begin their attempt to circumnavigate the guards narrows their field down considerably...

Arelliano looked over the situation trying to figure out how they were going to get past the creatures.

The far wall is ziggurat-like in construction, row upon row rising to the height of the cavern ceiling some 100' up, while the stair disappears into its center. About 40' above the entrance, the structure closes off any would-be-attempts to climb over the barracks compound and to the stair.

Roxie studies the map they found, then sneaks a peek at the stairs. "So either we need to lure those things away from the stairs, or we need to figure out a way to beat them."

Leal recounts the information that she recalled from Zamir's stories about these creatures, which she identified as the stingtail variant of the asabi, a lizard-race native to the region.

Arelliano looked the brutes over and grunted. "One alone....I could best....two." He grimaced and shook his head.

"For the record," Leal speaks quietly as she looks along with Roxie, "I'm not as concerned about not doing violence to these things in order to preserve diplomacy with the other inhabitants. I am concerned about not doing violence to these things because they look like they might be better at it than we are."

"I can conjure up some helpers," Roxie suggests. To Leal she adds, "That's kinda what I'm concerned about, too."

"Don't forget that I can fight, too,” Zion says quietly.

While you all consider the merits of the straightforward approach, you must, yourselves, approach...

Arelliano says, "Sorry Zion I did not mean to discount your contributions...I actually meant all of us."

Zion replies, "Understandable."

Leal looks to Roxie. "I've still got the scrolls to conjure up some illusory help as well. I suppose if I augmented your real helpers with some extra fakes, it might convince them a bigger threat approaches, and maybe urge them into distraction more effectively?"

Arelliano lookes on. "I wonder if you could lure them away with this decoys?"

"That's what I was wondering,” Roxie says, “But then we'd have to worry about them being at our backs. I'm not sure if that's such a good idea, either."

Zion listens to the plan, content that there might be a good chance to deal with these creatures

Arelliano grimaced at that she had a fair point there.

"So maybe we can focus on ambushing and pummeling them here,” Roxie suggests.

The absolute silence of the place is still awe-inspiring, yet, there, in the background is the feeling of foreboding as, with the silence, comes the realization that you stand within a civilization that has been all but wiped from the face of Faerun.

"Any fighting we do might alert others,” Zion notes, “with the silence in the place, am I correct?"

"Probably,” Roxie says, “assuming there are others to alert. On the bright side it might also get Gemwir's attention too."

In looking around, Leal notices something even beyond the asabi ahead. "Hmm. That's...interesting."

Roxie tries to see what Leal is looking at. "What?"

Leal gestures to the ground in the area. "Looks like we're not the first ones through here even recently...and I don't mean just Gemwir. Check out these tracks...mostly humanoid, not sure how many-they're pretty muddled. But they're fresh, and-" She pauses, then points to a particularly odd set. "-and one of them walks on hooves." She motions towards another, smaller set. "Gemwir came this way, at least, so we're still on the right track. But now we know we're not the only ones."

"Is it possible those brutes would let us past?" Arelliano wonders.

"Did it look like they fought anything?" Roxie asks.

Intrigued with what Leal observed, Zion asks, "They don't appear to be creatures of diplomacy, but is it possible to negotiate?"

"For all we know, the brutes were put there by whomever was here before us." Leal shrugs to Arelliano, then again to Roxie. "I'm not sure in this mess., woodcraft really isn't my skill, but mostly looks like they're just wandering. All I can tell is more than one humanoid, one of them gnome-sized, one of them with cloven feet. Really *big* cloven feet."

Roxie peeks at the guards again.

A moment's contemplation seems to see Leal confirming her hypothesis to herself. "Yeah, my bet's on the asabi being rear-guard."

Roxie can see their yellow eyes moving back and forth, scanning the area.

"So maybe they weren't there when Gemwir came through?" Roxie asks.

"That or Gemwir made it through under cloak of invisibility,” Leal answers. The stingtails aren't supposed to be all that bright. He could have beaten them here, though; all the tracks are fresh, but I can't tell which were laid first."

"Does he had a cloven hoofed construct?" Arelliano thought to ask.

"Nothing so large as what we're looking at here, as I recall,” Leal replies. These prints are bigger than a draft horse's."

"Dumb enough to be lead away by a distraction?" Arelliano asked...

"Possibly dumb enough to be distracted away,” Leal replied, “possibly dumb enough to ignore any distraction not obviously stabbing them in the face, or orders to that effect. Only one way to be sure."

"I could make a ruckus...” Arelliano suggested, “...try and get them to chase me...while you lot sneak up the stairs."

Roxie moves out a little ways and uses some ruble as cover. She wants to get a better look at these things.

"Then we're one man down,” Leal says, “'cause I don't see you making that kind of ruckus and then getting around them to rejoin with us. I think we have to commit one way or the other: distraction to fight, distraction to sneak, or Option C, Fill In The Blank Here."

After a few seconds Roxie stands upright and in plain view of the stairs. "Or, you know, we can just ignore the illusions."

Leal pauses for a long moment at that. "...Seriously?" After another moment, presuming in which the asabi don't charge the halfling, she rises as well to stand next to Roxie.

Areillano blinks and curses in Giantish about no good finger wiggling tricksters

Zion frowns. "Illusion?" He mutters some curses in Rashemi," Really am starting to hate the evil Magic wielding folk."

Zion moves out to the corner to help protect Roxie if need be.

"They're sneaky, whoever they are," Roxie says.

Arelliano shook his head and followed along.

Leal shakes her head, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "I am a rank amateur. Spot the tracks, miss the illusions. Nice catch, Roxie." As she comes around the corner, she pauses almost by Reflex--the asabi look real enough, even with Roxie's words.

Roxie moves towards the stairs to get a better view of the area.

And then she shakes it off, confirming the illusion to her own satisfaction once and for all by grabbing a nearby rock and chucking it at one of the lizard-men.

Arelliano too shakes off the illusion.

The asabi shudder and then fade from view...

Zion shakes his head still about the use of Illusions, and starts to follow Roxie and Leal.

Leal shakes her head again as the pebble pierces the illusion once and for all. "Illusionists, Oghma's bleeding books. I knew I should have studied figments harder."

With the guardians of the stair gone, you are once again enveloped in silence.

Leal considers a moment. " wary. The caster may still be nearby."

"True," Roxie notes.

"How long do those sorts of things last?" the Big Man asks.

For the benefit of the non-casters, Leal explains. "An image can be conjured and maintained at some distance, but it requires sustained concentration to maintain the image. The caster has to have remained within a hundred meters or so to keep it going."

“Then it is likely he or she is here nearby now," Arelliano notes.

"Unless it's one of those super powerful illusions that doesn't need to be concentrated on. In which case we had really better be careful of the guy who cast it."

You are reminded, as you move forward in the vast cavern, that 'nearby' can also mean 'on top of you.'

"It would be ironic if Gemwir produced those creatures," Zion commented.

100 meters on top of you...

"Lovely...” Arelliano comments, “lets move quickly then."

"Right. quickly." So the hin hurries up towards the stairs.

Zion is quick to follow along , no need to draw attention on them.

Leal nods. "While I could be wrong, it looked to me like a basic silent figment." And then she smirks at Zion. "Wouldn't it, though? I don't expect getting that lucky, but one could hope."

The party continues toward the stair.

And Leal follows along as well.

Arelliano moves forward.

The humans can easily pass Roxie if they're hurrying.

The dim light shows the buildings in passing, most likely the formian armory and most definitely their barracks.

Zion slows down to stay with Roxie. No need to pass the ones you need to help protect.

Lightning has turned the stone to glass in many places, and the formian craftsmanship is ruined elsewhere by what looks to be a monumental battle. You are uncertain if the crumbling dust beneath your feat is actually that, or the decaying carapaces of what once were the citizens of this great underground city...

The party posts up to the wall of the barracks before the stair and....

Leal pauses for a moment as they pass the armory, then thinks better of stopping. If there's more formians about, it wouldn't be well to tarry or otherwise attract more attention than necessary at this juncture. Plus, given the illusion, it seems time may be of the essence--whoever is ahead of them apparently believes a delay tactic is useful.

Leal looks around the edge of the barracks to ensure the stairwell is clear, not wanting to get trapped in another narrow passage with no egress. If they are clear, she begins climbing the stair.

The stair rises up to a landing some 40' above, and seems to do so, several more times. It is impossible, however, to tell if there is anything on the landings themselves, from this vantage point, at least.

Zion stays back to be the rear guard for now, making sure that everyone is moving along and no one falls behind.

Roxie slowly creeps up the stairs.

As Leal moves toward the stair and sees a clear way, along with Roxie, no sooner are they alighting the second step of the stair, when the sound of a handbell rattles loudly, echoing throughout the cavern to alert anything nearby of their presence!

From the landing above, true asabi are revealed! They draw their weapons and move to attack! These ones are quite a bit larger than their illusions, too! Towering at least 13' tall!

"Oops" Roxie says quietly.

The trap was cunning. Illusion, once dispelled lured a confident, and perhaps arrogant foe forward, while the simplest alarm gave the true threat fair warning and ample time to arm themselves while they moved to block the party's progress ahead!

"Yeah, rub it in," she mutters as if to some unseen narrator in her mind.

They were gigantic, these lizard-brutes, and looked like they would do their best to eat the Hin alive!

Leal backs away from the stairs and the onrushing lizard-giants, getting back out of sight behind the edge of the stairwell and giving herself some more room to work with. She begins conjuring, and a field of flaming sparks coalesces about her in a tightly-woven matrix of arcane energy. She's not killing shit, but she may have a big of a plan to hold them off a moment depending on how quick they are on Roxie's heels...

Arelliano looked at the two giants. "Aww this isn't going to be pleasant."

They're not all too smart, one of them barrels down the stair to the most obvious threat, Arelliano, while the runs up to the hin with all intent to squash her...

Sounds like they're really quick on Roxie's heels. On to plan B... as soon as Leal figures out what that is.

Arelliano lets loose a Battle Cry and launches his spiked Chain at the charging gaint. His spiked chain launches forward and draws a trendous amount of blood from the creatures midsection.

With an odd sound, a mix of a roar and a gasp of pain, the Stingtail assumes a wary stance before the Big Man.

Zion draws his Composite Longbow, notches an arrow as he moves to get a clear shot at the lizard thing fighting Arelliano. He shoots when he has a clear shot.

Roxie does what any self-respecting caster would do: move to a more practical location for casting. she moves carefully out of harm's way back down the stairs... or tries to.

Zion's arrow hits the Creatures Left arm, causing the creature to drop his sword in that arm and it hangs limp from the arrow protruding from his arm.

The hin tries to escape her fate, but is whalloped as she retreats from her foes, both of them drawing blood in the sheer savagery of their onslaught!

There are still 5 gigantic curved swords weaving a deadly path down the stairs for the four of you!

Seeing how badly savaged Roxie looks as she turns the corner, Leal decides to go for a variant of her original plan--rather than try to wall off the creatures, she tries to attract their attention away from the things that are actually doing them harm for the moment. Backing up a little further, she goes for a scroll; illusory fire is still fire, and thus she feels quite at home as she conjures up a figment of her own.

She chants, and a ring of fiery eldritch glyphs appears on the ground just behind Roxie, shimmering with ruby-red light. Then the ground within the circle becomes a sea of fire, from which emerges a crackling, writhing, crimson-black monstrosity of fire: an elemental thoqqua, fienish and bloated to nearly the size of one of these lizards!

The creature comes forth silently, almost ominous in its quiet.

Another enemy on the field, to your foes, is what it is, and one of them advances on their primary target, lashing out with its sword, the other, wounded by the Big Man, can only do what instict has told its species to do for centuries: Fight to survive!

The Big Man is nimble, and of the 5 attacks aimed in his direction from the pair of large, deadly asabis, he is only blooded by 1...

Arelliano grunts taking a 5 ft step away to put some distance between he and one of the beasts homing that at least one will address the illusion to his left

And then he launches another chain strike at the one he hit before.

Arelliano's Chain stirkes the same spot it had previously this time doing irrepairable harm as the creatures entrails spill out onto the ground. And the big man roars in triumph

The creature falls forward, attempting to collect its bowels before it shudders finally in the stillness of death. It's mate roars defiantly.

Zion moves some more, to put distance from the Asabi and then shoots at the remaining creature left alive. His arrow flies true and hits the other Asabi in the shoulder. It pains the lizard creature some what, but not enough to stop it.

Roxie moves farther away from the battle and hopes nothing else is out here ready to pounce. She then casts a spell, launching a beam of fiery magic at the remaining creature.

And it doesn't stop, coming in full force at its nearest target, the murderer of its ally!

Leal continues her intense focus on her 'conjured creature.' She hopes to draw some attention with it as it silently stalks forward towards the asabi, dripping bits of flaming ichor that smolder on the ground as it moves in, rearing up to position itself alongside its apparent ally, as if prepared to take advantage of any opening given... Meanwhile, she circles around slowly, sidestepping to swing in behind Arelliano and her illusion. As she focuses, sweat beading on her brow, she grips her walking-stick, ready to replace illusory fire with real fire the moment it's called for.

It takes Roxie's flame ray full in the face, but its boiling eye is still focused on Arelliano!

Try as the big man might, one of three of the lizard-thing's massive blades get through, scoring a bloody gash along his ribcage...

Arelliano Launched the spiked chain at the creature.

The spiked chain rapped around one of the creatures legs and nearly pulled it from it's socket as the big man drew the chain back

Zion stays at his spot and fires another arrow at the Asabi.

Hobbled but not out of the fight, the Asabi hissed at Arelliano in some unintelligible language...

Arelliano has to duck to avoid being hit by the spiritman's stray arrow, then takes a 5 ft step backward

This time Zion aims poorly and his arrow flies badly.

Roxie casts again, this time conjuring up a dagger made of pure ice. The dagger spins through the air and towards the asabi.

The dagger goes flying way past its intended target.

Roxie then moves even farther away from the fight.

Leal growls in frustration, seeing that Arelliano has made himself so much a target that not even her illusion can catch her foe's gaze. And it's not like she can do anything about it either, at least with the illusion itself. It can serve one last purpose, though...and as her concentration on the illusion falters, purposefully, the effect is much like the creature exploding even as Leal suddenly shouts a word of power and sends a burst of molten blue-orange plasma flying through it towards the unsuspecting lizard-man!

The bolt of plasma explodes in a spray of swirling flame across the asabi's hide, searing and charring flesh and quickly filling the stairwell with the thick, cloying scent of cooking lizard-meat!

Leal's magical onslaught brings the creature closer to death than it has ever known, in a panic it lashes out at its nearest target, attempting to overwhelm their biggest threat and in doing so win some sort of opportunity to flee their disastrous magic!

The Asabi's ferocity overcomes even Arelliano's great strength, every blow the creature strikes draws blood, until the final, sneaky tail runs the Big Man through! He slumps to the ground, his lifeblood ebbing onto the floor... If someone doesn't get to him NOW, his life is forfeit...

Zion makes a crazy decision and rushes to Arel's side to give him a healing potion. He hopes the others can cast something to protect them from the Asabi.

Zion emptyies the draught of life over Arelliano's bloody lips. The ragged, bloody spasms of his dying are eased, suddenly, and the man, still unconscious, still fights for his life...

Roxie thought this was not good. Not good at all. Roxie moves back into view but a little farther away and casts again. This time a swarm of snowballs bursts in the area of the asabi.

Arelliano is no longer bleeding to death, but he is not out of danger yet! His unconscious breathing comes in ragged gasps, what could Zion possibly do here, but look to end the threat to all of their lives!

After being scorched by flames and ripped apart by a chain, the asabi finally succumbs to a flurry of vicious... snowballs. He gets pelted by the things until he falls down.

The ice overwhelms the cold-blooded foe, and it crumples to the ground in the Hin's onslaught, right next to Arelliano's prone form...

Zion takes another CLW out and pours it down Arelliano's throat. He's careful not to choke the big man, but hopes this helps out better than the last potion.

Zion's efforts are not unrewarded. Arelliano may cough a bit as the draught washes down his throat, but it brings him back into the world of the living, and his eyes flutter open at last...

That is enough to knit and mend the barbarian's large frame enough that he wakens sputtering and cursing in Giantish.

Shocked at the sheer violence dealt to the hulking man in front of her--the last of their group she'd expect to have fallen, even to these giant lizard-men--Leal's eyes flash to Zion, who's a step ahead of her as the man rushed in to save their friend. As he manages to keep Arelliano on the cusp of life, and Roxie launches her cloud of ice and snow to end the visible threat, Leal moves to protect the healer in his task. The gem atop her walking stick pulsing with blood-red fury, she hovers over the kneeling man and the fallen to guard against anything else that might be waiting atop the landing while Zion's potions do their work!

It is their blood mingled on the stones of this place now. For some of you, it is likely a place you will never forget...
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:32 pm

Arelliano, as soon as he is self aware enough to do anything, utters a command word activating the healing in his Bracelet

After the fighting is over Roxie guzzles a potion before moving anywhere else.

You also notice something icky about the stingtails... well... tails. Some sort of ichorous substance coats the underside of them.

Arelliano looks over his wounds and then to the others..."Told ya...I could take one..." he says with a chuckle that he winces through and coughs again. "Ow."

Having remained unharmed in the most recent fight, Leal remains on her guard for the approach of more foes while the rest of the party patches themselves up. She squints and gives a look to the glistening ichor on the asabi tails. "Hmm. Poison, I suppose?" She ponders whether she has the skill to harvest any of it without affecting herself.

Roxie checks out the potions on the corpses. "Cure Light Wounds," conveniently labeled. " Anyone mind if I try one of these?"

Zion stands up, after giving Arelliano the potions and with his bow, stands guard also with Leal.

 No one says no, so she tries her luck with one of the new potions.

Arelliano remains sitting on on his ass...waiting for the healing from his bracelet to finish knitting his wounds. As the magic subsides he utters the command word again because he is still quiet seriously injured.

"You going to be alright?" Zion asks Arel.

Roxie's wounds heal up much better after the second potion.

It's not an easy process, the healing. The magic does not take away the pain as the healing process is fast-forwarded by the magic.

Arelliano grunts in reply, still waiting on the magic to finish from the second usage. When it finishes, the big man still has a number of injuries, some severe. So he utters the command word a third time, and over the course of about 3.5 minutes he heals what would have taken weeks if not longer. The process does not look particularly pleasant.

Leal considers the stingtails for a moment, and then hesitantly reaches for the utility knife she keeps in her belt. Though she's been harvesting parts from the various vermin they've faced so far, something seems to be nagging at her. She pauses a moment, before looking to Roxie. "So, looks like the asabi had poison sting-tails befitting the name. It may some in useful later, but I don't want to take the risk of trying to get a sample now. I've been grabbing samples from the other creatures we've faced...would it be weird to do so here, or is that just me?"

Roxie is looking better. "There are some more potions over here if you want them." To Leal,"I don't think it would be weird. I'm carrying a bag of critter shells, here. What's weird about collecting?" She grins.

Once Arelliano is fully healed the big man finally rolls to his feet a little shaky but upright.

Arelliano's wounds finally close, though his clothes and the floor beneath him are covered in his blood. He is sore, unlike he has ever been before.

"I mean, I could very safely take one or both of the tails to process later,” Leal says, “I think it just feels...odd to do that with something sentient." She considers Roxie's words for a moment, and then nods. "I suppose that's fair, though. They did just try to kill us, after all."

Zion glances at Roxie and Arelliano every so often to see how they are healing, and then keeps watch.

The eerie silence falls over the place once more.

"I would assume that there should be some company coming with the fighting we did. It wasn't exactly a quiet fight we had." Zion speaks to the others to hear. "Even Gemwir should have heard us."

"True,” Roxie replies. “But whatever is up there hasn't come looking. either they're way far away or they're waiting for us. Or they just don't care."

Leal looks to Zion for a moment, as if making sure he's got things covered without her assistance, and then sets to her grim work. The eerie silence is punctuated with the eerier noises of a knife slipping through something both moist and tough, and after a minute or so Leal is looking a little peaked--both sweaty and a little pale, clearly a bit torn but erring on the side of 'making the lethal threat useful' for the moment. She coils a tail as best she can, wraps it in a spare shirt--muttering about ruining perfectly good clothes--and slips it into her pack. Then she hefts it--and grunts. "Oghma's bloody bindings. I'm only grabbing one of those, I think."

Arelliano speaks up. "Take the beasts poisons, as spoils of our victory."

The extra weight leaves Leal a bit unbalanced at first.

Seeing Leal's look to him, Zion nods to her and then steps away from the others to keep an eye around them for now.

"We shed blood for it, it's ours by right," Arelliano says, "Or yours...rather."

Leal nods. "I'll cut the other one if someone else wants it, but my back is only so strong, and those...things were huge." Yeah, that's it. Things. That'll help.

As you recover from the fight, you recognize your two options. Continue exploring here, or move up and likely toward your goal. Obviously, *someone* up there wanted to know if anything down here would be coming up after them.

"I'll carry the spoils if needs be," Arelliano offers.

Roxie scoops up the other potions unless someone else speaks up.

Leal nods to Arelliano, taking that as a 'yes, please do,' and sets to repeating her grisly task with the other stingtail. It doesn't take quite as long this time, as she's committed to the task now and knows a little bit more about the anatomy she's working with, and soon she has a ready bundle for Arelliano. Wiping her brow with the cleanest part of one forearm, and hopefully not smearing anything unsightly on herself in the process, she then looks away from the spoils and glances around with Zion. "Once we're ready, I think we need to move on fairly quickly. It seems to me that whoever is ahead of us, besides Gemwir, prizes their head start. And is prepared to use it to lay traps for us."

The stairs rise above you, the first landing and beyond. They curve away after what looks like the second landing, moving to the right and disappearing from your vision, despite the dull light that illuminates the whole place.

Arelliano takes the package and puts it among his other things in his pack

The unfortunate part of any sort of field dressing is the smell. Either of you carrying these things are going to stink a bit at close range.

"That said,” Leal continues, “I have a scroll that will allow me to conjure an immaterial servant for a bell. I'm tempted to suggest we use it, give the thing a torch, and let it scout ahead--perhaps trigger any further alarms in our stead and let the enemy respond to phantoms instead of us."

Arelliano nodded. "That's a good idea."

Zion nods in agreement with Leal's wisdom," Sounds good to me, Leal."

"Sure," Roxie agrees.

Leal's pale, wan complexion is not aided by the stink of the beast-part in her pack, a consistent reminder of the last few minutes' work even beyond the face-punching aroma itself. She focuses for a moment, exhales, then slips through the broad pouch on her right hip for the top of the scroll in question with determination. The organizer is stuffed full, but she finds it near the bottom of the pack. "There we go." She begins to read, and a translucent figure comes into being, a formless being that resembles little more than the waves of radiant heat that had enveloped them all on the surface.

Arelliano watched and shook his head at the finger wiggler's tricks thankful that some of them worked to keep him alive.

Arelliano remained silent and watching.

The Tethyrian sends her minion ahead, a lure for whatever may lurk above. It is slow traveling, and they must give it time to move on before they themselves can do the same.

Zion walks around with his bow ready with an arrow looking around for any trouble coming towards them.

The hin watched and waited for their turn to follow.

"I need to stay within twenty or thirty paces, so it can't go too far ahead of us, but it should give us at least a few moments' warning," Leal says as she cracks open a sunrod, filling the area with more golden light, and hands it to the servant before giving it a little mental nudge to proceed forward... And then she follows it up the stairs, taking advantage of the group's reduced speed to locate shadows, nooks, crannies, and other places to stay concealed as best as possible along the way. (She will feel pretty dumb if it gets spotted only for herself to be visible right on its tail.)

The action shows the intention of the party to ascend, and so they do. They discover 5 of these landings, however, that twist up about 100' to the bottom of the next level. From the map you found in the War Room, the last level of this, the ruin of Dorion.

Arelliano follows behind Leal about 10 to 15 feet behind following shadows as best he could.

Zion will go last to be the rear gaurd.

Roxie will stick with Arelliano.

As the party moves up behind their lure, keeping to the shadows as best they can, and likely trying to keep quiet... are they as silent as their trapspringer?

Arelliano is trying to do just that.

The big man proves once again why he is normally up front having this trying to kill him directly, as he is not particularly stealthy or quite.

Leal flits in and out of said 'nooks and crannies' - some of her comrades even lose sight of her here and there...

You come to the final landing. Here, the signs of combat are more striking. You see fallen formians, or at least their husks, and their ancient, ruined weapons. Light is more sporadic, as some of the places the light would be expected to be found, instead, there are scorched areas of glass along the walls. Gigantic claw marks score the halls as you arrive at the top landing. What the map shows as a double door has been blasted off its hinges, though the doors themselves have fallen and look undamaged. It is the rock to which they were attached that gave way... As you come upon these massive doors, blown inward, any of you with a knowledge of metal could attempt to discern their makeup. They are about 10' wide each and 15' tall, 2' thick.

Leal exhales softly at the spectacle of the ruin atop the stairs. She glances at the doors, attempting to discern their construction, but metallurgy is not precisely her strong suit. <<Gods-damned dragons,>> she might mutter if she was of a mind to make even the slightest bit of noise right now.

The metal is dark like Iron and hard like steel, perhaps even harder, if you had some way of telling that... But it is neither. What it may be composed of is your best of guesses.

Arelliano muttered, "It's not Steel or Iron."

"Now if only we could take a sample of that," the Hin quietly muses.

“Probably not the time," Arelliano notes, "On the way back..."

Leal wonders idly if she has anything that could possibly damage that material to let her take some with her. Thinking better of it and not really wanting to make the noise that would be required for such in any event, she looks to see if there's any bits or pieces nearby--a pin, bolt, or the like. She only takes a moment to do so, however, and then moves on. Arelliano has his priorities in order.

In the dim light, there is nothing to be found small enough for her to carry along quickly with her. The bolt she does spot is at least 4 feet long and half again as wide. It probably weighs more than Arelliano.

And that's clearly not happening. Leal moves on ahead, content to make a mental note to look into the matter later, pending survival.

Zion remains quiet, but ever watchful behind them. He follows along staying about 10 feet behind Roxie.

You move in, having to step on and over the doors to do so. Ahead of you, the torch floats along, doing as it has been instructed.

You all get the faint echo ahead of you. Arelliano and Roxie place it somewhere up ahead and right of the next doorway. It is far enough away, but ... it sounds like a horse. It stops and pauses, then continues, fading out a bit. If you were to guess, you'd say it's emanating from either the 2nd or 3rd entrance on the right hand side of the vast chamber.

Arelliano signals the direction of the noise to Leal and everyone else silently.

Roxie looks puzzled and silently mouths the phrase, "A horse?"

Or, at least, it sounds like the footfalls of a horse. Clop, clop, clop.

"Something like it at least." Arelliano said quietly

Zion waits, quiet but intrigued with what they can hear up ahead.

Leal pauses as well, and gives a little mental tug on the ethereal servant to hold it fast as she tries to locate the noise. She peeks her head out of the shadows long enough to make sure Roxie and the others know where she's at, and gives them a quizzical look as if to ask, <<Which way?>> Then she mutters and slaps her forehead, realizes she doesn't need to try and convey through quizzical looks, and whispers a brief invocation. Then she actually mouths the words, which her party mates each hear as a whisper directly in their ears. "Which way?"

Roxie points towards the sound.

Leal can follow Roxie's gesture well enough, and gives the servant another mental nudge in that direction.

g closer gives Leal a better sense of which one it is, it's just going to head down the right passage, and I guess we'll see if its light reveals any giveaways.

As you pass the first set of passages, the doors are also blown off. Here there is only darkness. The light has been extinguished in these halls. Doors lead to what look to have once been some sort of offices are also ruined. Left and right it is found destroyed this way.

Leal shakes her head thoughtfully at the damage done down those passages. Clearly the noise comes from further on--and as she moves on ahead towards where Roxie was pointing, she realizes something and mouths silent words that become whispers in the ears of her party. "Not a horse. The tracks downstairs--remember, one set belonged to something on cloven feet. Bigger than a horse, and bipedal."

The hoofed footfalls sound again, as the torch-bearing cantrip moves toward a larger hall that slides off to the right. There is a bit of noise as it rounds the corner... Voices! You have a singular opportunity to either move directly toward it or find some place to hide!

Since Zion is last in line, he waits to see what the others are doing first before reacting

Leal's instinct is to hide, and she does so! There's not a lot to be done with the light, of course--if there's something for it to slide under or behind, she might try that, or if there's torchlight in the area, move the servant near that to hide it 'in plain sight' after a fashion.

Roxie slips into a nook or crevasse, or any place that a hin can disappear into... or try to. She also covers her glowing skull.

Seeing Leal, disappear from his view, Zion decides that's what everyone else will do . He decides it's time to hide in the shadows.

The easiest place to hide would be in the burnt out corridors you just passed...

Roxie ducks into the dark hall on the right.

Zion follows Roxie, and hopes that this hiding will work

They don't leave a lot of room if their enemies are coming that direction, but they're dark and give lots of ways to break line-of-sight, which make those corridors as good a stopping point as any. Leal decides to duck just inside the corridor on the left, however--it gives her a vantage point to the path the unknown voices appear to be coming from, and if one or the other part of the party is seen, the other might yet have the element of surprise.

Arelliano hugged a wall.

Roxie is actually inside the right hallway, keeping still and listening.

He grimaced and fell back a little behind the cells. He wanted to be able to move into position quickly and not prevent the wizards from doing their work if needs be.

Zion is just behind the Hin staying quiet as possible.

Leal's floating torch moves along down the hallway, moving toward the nearest light source, which sits on the same wall of the left corridor. From her vantage point she sees what all the fuss is about.

Four asabi, akin to the illusion they first saw and not nearly as big as the stingtails they fought emerge from the right hall. In their hands are crossbows, and they scan the area as they move in. Behind them comes a towering and terrifying beast. Its shaggy fur is crimped into heavy armor, its large, powerful legs ending in cloven hooves that strike the ground with unabashed sharpness in the silent, dead city. In its massive hands is a greatsword longer than Arelliano was tall. On its broad, thickly furred shoulders, the head of a bull! Long horns tipped in black curve out before it as it swings its massive head about. No one has to be told what they see. It's a minotaur. Every childhood story comes to them now in this dark place beneath the unrelenting sands.

Leal grimaces at the appearance of the beast as she thinks back on the stories she read as a girl. Not as large as the stingtails, but more cunning in its way, and probably more dangerous...and she likewise scans the asabi, looking for signs of a Practitioner--someone conjured up the illusions down below, after all.

They do not see you. Yet. They move toward the western passage.

Leal mouths silently in the direction of her friends, the disembodied whispers coming to them again from the darkness across the chamber. "Minotaur has a magic sword and belt. Nothing magical on the there's still a caster unaccounted for."

Hearing Leal's whispered message, Zion frowns.

Leal's magic message adds, "They may be on we may have to move soon."

Not knowing if they can be seen by Leal or not, Zion nods in response to the warning

As the patrol moves toward the 2nd left hand hallway, the forward-most asabi leans over and looks right at Arelliano, despite his efforts to press his large frame agains the wall. He puts his crossbow up to his shoulder and says something unintelligible to the other asabi, who snap to. The minotaur, seeing this, looks after them, but does not follow their line of sight...

With the asabi and minotaur outside her optimal range, she decides her best course of action to start with is a distraction to try and split their numbers. She goes back to the scroll organizer, back to what's becoming one of her standbys, and speaks as quietly as she can while still infusing her words with the appropriate power. Suddenly, from the passage north of her (the one the asabi were headed towards initially), rough humanoid voices ring out. "Hey, did you hear something out there?" "You think they found us?" "Take no chances, find cover and prepare for battle!"

That gets all of their attention. They turn toward the hall. The front left asabi stays on task, having, in fact seen Arelliano, it looks to the minotaur and says in common. "Looks like more boss, that way." It motions its head toward the hall. "But I seen that one there!" It points.

"Take care of it, lizard," the minotaur grunts in Undercommon. "Go with him." He motions to another. "You two, with Krong." He moves off to the hallway to investigate the sounds.

Two of the asabi creep toward Arelliano. One of them calls out to him in Common. "You, there! Stop! Weapons down, hands up or dies!"

They move fast! Their crossbows are trained on the big man, waiting for him to make a move, it looks like they would fire immediately!

Arelliano replied in Giantish to the creatures. " speak common."

With his bow ready, Zion hears the voices and prepares for the worst. He steps forward about 15 feet to see any targets (the leading asabi), and fires an arrow at the lizard then!

Seeing his negligence to follow their orders, they point their crossbows at him, then the ground, ready to shoot Arelliano if he doesn't comply... Then, they find themselves under attack!

Arelliano tried to figure out who was attacking the creatures...

Zion aims and shoots at the leading Asabi, the arrow flies true and hits the lizard thing in it's chest, severly wounding it but not killing it!

Zion's attack is nearly fatal and comes just as the minotaur and the other two asabi disappear down the hallway...

Caught completely by surprise, the two asabi before the party, one bleeding from an arrow in its liver, seem frozen in shock, but they still have their xbows pointed at the Big Guy.

Roxie doesn't know exactly what's where, but she knows what those creatures are. And she knows the value of meatshields. She starts casting.

Arelliano knew if he did anything but hold his hands up they were both going to try and riddle him with cross bow bolts, so he held up his hands and continued to speak in Giantish to them. "I'm sorry I'm lost... I can't.." and Arelliano bolted into the right hand corridor.

A pair of shots go off as Arelliano makes a dash for cover! One bolt sails past the big man, the other looks on target, but he knocks it away at the very last instant...
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:14 pm

When we left our party of would-be spelunkers, they had managed to split their enemies, and currently faced a pair of asabis, while the other half of the patrol had ducked after Leal's ghostly sounds...

The bulk of the enemies bit on her trap for the moment, but Leal is determined to keep them held off as long as possible--or at least to make them pay for their lack of intelligence. While the rest of the party deals with the now-outnumbered asabi arbalists, she mentally calls her invisible servant back to her and hands it a small twig from one of her numerous belt pouches. Then she begins conjuring, her words taking on a thick, almost slippery accent, and suddenly the floor in front of the door the others went down glistens and shimmers with a thick layer of oily black grease! As she chants, the twig floats lazily over to the grease-puddle and swoops lazily down to hover just above the floor, as if ready to strike! With luck, she considers, the minotaur might even be the first one back through the door. That greasy, shaggy pelt should immolate nicely!

The Asabi move forward, one turning at the words of magic and the other trying to home in on its original target!

One bolt smacks into the wall next to Arelliano... Leal gets a quarrel fletching deep in her thigh for her troubles! Nothing from the upper hallway, as of yet. The two asabi look wary and ready to move back toward the direction they came from...

Zion wastes no time with drawing an arrow out of his quiver, notching it to the bow string, pulling back till the bow was taut and fires another arrow at the Asabi that was hit the first time! His second arrow flies true and hits the Asabi and finishing the Snake/Lizard thingy's life for good!!!! He gives a satisfied “Hmmph!” After seeing the life go out of the Asabi,"One down and who know's how many more to go,” he announces.

Leal stifles a curse, biting her lower lip hard as she reflexively hobbles further behind the edge of the stone wall, gripping the arrow shaft with a hiss. Can they see in the dark, or was that just a particularly lucky shot? That's a question she'll be pondering later on, but for now she's just working on shunting the pain out of the front of her mind.

Roxie's spell finally goes off. Out in the hall a Giant Celestial Bumble Bee winks into existence. It immediately attacks the remaining asabi.

As its comrade goes down, the remaining asabi starts shouting immediately for backup!

The bigger-than-life-bee charges at the asabi and strikes the creature.

Having never seen such a creature, the asabi looks ready to flee in terror!

Roxie steps up a little to see what else is out there. Not seeing anything for the moment, she casts again and conjures up a snowball, which she proceeds to hurl at the asabi. But the snowball splatters against the far wall instead.

The asabi steps a bit awkwardly, trying to shake of the effects of the giant bee sting...

Arelliano moved quickly into an attack position with his spiked chain and lets it fly on the remaining creature. And once again the Big man launches at the creatures midsection and when he pulls back the creatures entrails spill onto the floor.
Leal thinks back to her reading on the tales of old adventurers, particularly the ones that described when things turned bad and they had to deal with getting rid of inconveniently-placed bolts and arrows. And then she replicates that advice as best she can recall, grunting as she disposes of the arrow and immediately pilfers through her pouch with a blood-caked hand for a curative.

Arelliano signals towards the doorway towards where the other creatures disappeared.

Even above the sounds she's making as she wrenches free the arrow and downs her potion, Leal hears the rumbling of the half-ton monstrosity. "Reinforcements coming back!" She hisses just before she wipes off her hands, tensing and hefting her fire-stick once more. And just as the creatures that turned off down the tunnel make to return to the main chamber, the floor beneath them bursts into a pool of crimson flame and choking black smoke that reeks of whale oil, guano, and the black blood of the earth!

From the hall comes the rest of the patrol, the two asabi go down, falling on the slick surface created by Leal's magic. The minotaur barrels through, however, roaring through the fire as it jumps out into the main hall!

The lizard-men scream as they fall on the flaming floor... the minotaur seems not to pay attention to the flames licking at the shaggy ends of its ankles...

Their flesh sizzling and popping, the asabis scream in terror, but it must be their juiciness that keeps them from catching fire fully!

Leal dares a glance back around the corner, the flames catching her eyes alight as she pumps her fist briefly at a job well done. Some background part of her scholar-brain makes a note that minotaurs apparently aren't as flammable as she thought, but her primary thought process shifts to what's going to have to be done next to deal with the bovine menace.

Zion reacts with firing an arrow at the Minotaur! The arrow sails wide.

With the Monstrous Minotaur charging through, Zion had never seen before, was enough for his arrow to fly off course and hit the cavern wall in the distance

The mighty bee flies straight at the minotaur. Bzzzzzzzz...

Meanwhile Roxie throws a snowball at the minotaur.

As the bee closes to attack range, the large minotaur gets a swipe at it first!

The hin's snow spear sticks the minotaur good, but the beast cuts the busy bee in half before it ever gets a chance! It roars in fury and triumph!

The mighty bee winks right back out of existence.

Arelliano falls back to a position where they can create a crossfire not wishing to be surrounded if those Abasi do get up. He sets his feet and prepares and action.

The minotaur whirls its large greatsword about its head and stamps its hoof, causing sparks to come up off the stone. It snorts and lowers its head, prepping for its own action, scanning ahead for what it considers the greatest threat...

Leal brings her black-charred wand to bear, the engravings upon it gleaming with fire as she prepares another invocation--deciding to take another chance at testing the minotaur's flammability while she has a clear shot. The beast is just outside the comfortable range of her spell, though, so she holds the last couple of syllables, waiting...

The asabi manage to get out of Leal's fire grease trap without further burning or dying... They don't look like they're keen on hanging about, however.

Meanwhile, the minotaur calls out a challenge to Arelliano, the only enemy brave enough to stand before it, and it salutes him with its sword before charging forward, its long, black-tipped horns bent down to try and run the big man through!

Arelliano hooks the charging minotaur and lifts with all of his might, tumbling the creature heavily to the stone floor with a grunt and a subsequently furious roar.

Then he proceeds to whip the thing with his chain as it lies prone before him!

Zion notches another arrow, takes a deep breath to clear his head , aims at the Minotaur and releases the arrow into flight. Still his concentration is off and he misses yet again

The arrow bounces off the floor just in front of the minotaur!

Roxie debates, Snowball or sparkles? The sparkles win. She casts again and a burst of pretty sparklies rain down on top the minotaur.

The hin's spell elicits another roar from the minotaur, as her magic blinds it! It has known magic, however, and, though furious, begins snorting and sniffing at the air in front of it...

The Big Man attempts to whallop the beast with his chain once again, moving to the most advantageous spot to do so, if there is one.

This time, the Big Man nearly pulls the thing's eye out of its head! It roars and shudders in pain, but it's not dead yet!

Leal moves in a little bit, unable to reach the smoking asabi with her magic as they limp away, but thoroughly capable of dealing with the massive minotaur as it lies blinded and thrashing on the ground. She finishes the last words of the invocation she'd held earlier, and unleashes a torrent of orange-sapphire flames from the flame-stick! The flames cast their baleful orange-blue glow back on the advancing wizardess as she pours the magic on, literally drowning the writhing, screaming beast in her magical fire, which quickly engulf it! The beast's flesh is consumed ravenously by the unnatural flames, reducing it to naught but cinders, smoking meat, and echoing screams. Her focus is intense as she continues channeling the magic for several long seconds, which seem to stretch even longer in the minotaur's death-cries, and then she finally rears back, the charge spent, and leans against the wall to support her still-injured leg.

The minotaur could not ultimately escape the wrath of the lithe fire mage, it would seem. It's death screams echo through your minds long after their sounds reverberate of the walls of this dead place. You can only then hear the skittering of the asabi as they flee ahead of you.

The only thing left of its smoldering remains are the gleaming greatsword, smattered with bee guts, and a shimmering silver belt made from many thick, interlocking links... Both are unharmed even by Leal's magic fire...

The hin is definitely NOT chasing the asabi.

She blinks a bit at the charred ruin, still smoldering in the center of the room, recovering her focus after a long moment of getting lost in the scene. She wipes the beads of sweat from her upper lip--then spits as she realizes her hands are still bloody. Adventuring is a messy business, but an educational one, as she recovers enough to utter a somewhat-shocked, "Hm. So it was as flammable as I thought it would be. Moreso, even..."

Smelling the roasted meat of the Minotaur, Zion says, "With the battle and the smell of roast in the air, I don't think we have much time before we have more company. The two asabi's might come back with more of their friends also."

"Yeah,” Roxie agrees. “Let's grab what we can from here and keep moving. we still haven't found Gemwir."

"If we ever find the Captain that is." Zion grumbles.

Leal shakes her head slighly, wincing a bit at whatever thought just crossed her mind, and then looks to the others. "Yes, let's leave this mess and move on. We know there's still a caster lurking about, who I can but hope isn't any more dangerous than the minotaur, though I doubt it."

"Well we can't get out of here without him," the Hin comments.

You did see the asabi flee directly from you and past at least the next hallway ahead of you on either side.

Arelliano, never one to deny spoils picks up the sword and the belt

The sword is lighter than expected, but still quite a large weapon. It may well be one of the finest swords any of you have seen.

The belt has dwarven markings on it, if any of you can read them. What sort of dwarf makes a belt the size of a minotaur's fit?

Zion has his bow and arrow readied for action and he keeps his eyes and ears open for any coming trouble. "I'll stand gaurd while you folks decide upon a course of action and checking the dead for anything useful."

The two dead asabi have a pair of crappy scimitars, 2 fairly decent light crossbows, and between the 2 of them 30 bolts, 1/3 of those of old, and of questionable quality.

Roxie can read dwarven. she'll translate if given the chance to look the belt over.

Leal nods to Arelliano. "I'd say those are definitely best left in your care for now. As for course of action, I think our options are narrowing--follow the asabi, keep an eye out for signs that they split off the main path, otherwise head straight ahead with caution until we have an excuse to do something else?"

Arelliano is more than happy to have Roxie look over the belt.

Leal can't natively read Dwarven, so she'll let others have a go at it, since they seem more knowledgeable.

Arelliano nods to Leal's plan. "That sounds like a solid plan...are you injured badly?"

Leal shakes her head to Arelliano. "Potion took care of the worst of it, thankfully, it's just not fun putting a lot of weight on the leg. Note to self, I'm pretty sure they can see in the dark."

Arelliano nodded. "Good, if everyone else is uninjured we should get moving, as soon as Roxie is done examining the belt."

The hin reads: "Imbued with the strength of Clan Ironeater, presented to Heargorn by the Council of Axe and Arrow on this day, 615 DR"

Zion moves past the burnt Minotaur and watches ahead of where the Asabi fled.

Roxie has to pull a few scorched hairs from it to read the whole inscription, but that's the gist of it... After Roxie reads the inscription aloud, she hands the belt back to Areliano. "That's what I think it says."

"I have no idea what any of that means other than the date means it's very old," Arelliano admits.

Arelliano moved to put the belt into his back pack. as well as tucking the over-sized sword away. "Lets continue onward.”

Leal likewise moves upwind of the smoking remains, sticking close to the wall as she looks ahead with Zion, listening to Roxie. "None of the names sound familiar, but they sound like the sort of thing I can find out about from the Blackstaff library when we get back. It does coincide with what I gleaned from it with the Weave-sight, probably enhances the wearer's strength to some degree."

All business, Arelliano gets the party moving again.

Roxie is happy to move on.

Arelliano looks at the belt.."Do you think I should try weaing this?”

"It wouldn't hurt to wear it,” Zion glances back to Arelliano quickly to answer and then begins to move forward with them all.

Leal nods to Arelliano. "Might as well try it, at least. I'm fairly confident in its general effect, though I couldn't guess the specifics if it needs to be activated or the like. Worse comes to worst, you're a little shinier than normal."

On an impulse Arelliano sees if the belt will fit him.

As the Big Man snaps the belt around his waist, it is initially way too large, even for him, but then suddenly shrinks into place!

It pinches him as it moves ever tighter about his waist, though!

Arelliano grimaces, "Umm...”

Then, most likely to his relief, it eases, and resizes itself to fit around him comfortably...

"Ooh!” Roxie exclaims, “It fits! Do you feel any different?"

"Oh... that's better...,” Arelliano comments, “and wow... I feel... stronger."

You move up through the central corridor until you come to what looks like was once the city's main throneroom. The wall here is perhaps 40' high, and is honeycombed with thousands of small crevices, that look like they may have incubated something a very long time ago. One HUGE depression sits at the bottom of this wall, and the traffic to and from this place has worn the floor there to make it noticeable, though the ruins and walls have collapsed around it here and there. You get the impression this is where the main fight took place.

Everything looks blasted and charred. Husks and weapons lie haphazardly everywhere, in various states of ultimate decay.

"Now we need to find belts that will make us faster and tougher,” Zion casually comments after Arelliano.

Roxie does a little dance as they make their way through the halls.

Leal simply nods to that, pleased at correctly sussing out the item's effects, before moving on. As they proceed further into the catacombs, and then into the throne room, Leal looks upon the scene with an intense wonder, immediately attempting to piece together in her mind's eye the events that resulted in this formian abattoir.

The damage is old, but the claw marks are apparent, as is the sign of great magic. But the only thing left here is death. And tracks! There are tracks in the dust leading this way and that...

Looking around, wary of not seeing any Asabi yet, Zion asks, "Now where do we go?"

Leal tries to figure out as best she can which tracks are new and which are old--and failing that, which ones are gnome-shaped. She mutters, and then her eyes narrow, glinting with interest. "Hmm...No sign of Gemwir on the floor at least, at this point he's either clambering the walls or levitating outright. We can follow the asabi, though. Bonus for frightening them mindless, I guess."

"Psst! I heard something skittering down that way,” Zion whispers to the others and looks towards the right handed passage way.

Leal nods to Zion. "That's where the tracks go."

"I see the tracks, too," Roxie says.

All signs pointing to a singular location, the four of you head out.

"Okay ,so I hear better than I can see,” Zion whispers in a mutter.

The big man readies is weaponry and prepares to lead the way in that direction, unless someone tells him not to...

The party moves out, heading after the rather obvious (now that its been pointed out) trail in this, the final level of the ruined city of Dorian.

Leal ponders a moment, and then nods. "I'm wary of more illusions, but for the moment at least I'm guessing our enemy's not prepared to lay a false trail for us."

Roxie nods in agreement.

And Leal she follows Arelliano.

Zion also follows Arelliano, close behind him, if he can't be beside him in the hallway.

The Big Man takes point, trying to remian watchful.

The trail takes you down the right hall, and continues right, where you step up a few steps as you pass through what can only be described as incubations stations. Here it seems, is where the formians harvested the fruits of their queen's efforts. As you come upon what looks to be the final room, you notice a much brighter light emanating from it, almost the strength of daylight! Through the wide doorway, it looks like a cave-in has taken place here, collapsing the ceiling and letting light in from above... As you come carefully through the doorway, bits of rock skitter down from above, as if something was climbing up there. Upon looking, when/if you dare, no one is to be seen. It would seem your quarry has climbed out of danger, for now. The cave-in has left a climbable face approximately 70' above you. You can see it opens up into another massive cavern, from what you can tell. It is not the sky, but the ceiling is darkness above, yet, daylight streams in, brightening the entire place.

Leal mutters to herself. "This is why most wizards have familiars."

Arelliano pointed upward and then motioned silently moving from thumb up to thumb down questioningly.

Zion points to himself and looks to see if they want him to climb up the wall.

Roxie'll give him the thumbs up for that idea.

Leal nods to Zion. She's thoroughly terrible at the climbing thing, and Zion probably isn't.

Zion looks to Arelliano to see if he's fine with himself going to check first.

Arelliano nodded.

Zion smiles and shoulders his bow andstarts his climbing , the one thing he is good at.

Leal brings her flame-stick back to bear, just in case Zion moving up the walls provokes something hostile into showing itself...

"It's safe enough to climb up! You have to see this!" Zion calls down to the others from where he stops.

Arelliano looked to the two ladies. "I could climb up and drop a rope down and assist you in coming up."

Leal puts the stick away, its ensorcelled inscriptions fading as it slips back into her belt. She girds herself, her aching leg, and her lack of any any all aptitude for climbing, and moves to grip the wall--and then pauses at Arelliano's words. "That...would actually be much easier."

"That would be good," Roxie agrees.

Arelliano nodded and made the climb up.

As you all make it to the edge of the cliff face, what you see before you is no less than awe-striking. You stand in an enormous cavern. Half of it behind you and to your left is solid bedrock of the Anauroch desert, the other half, what looks to be the ruin of some ancient city, lying three-quarters on its side as if it fell from the sky and pierced the very mountain itself! It is nearly upside down. Ahead of you, the cavern floor slopes down and there is some green, perhaps even water somewhere, where you can see the asabi fleeing perhaps a few hundred yards before you. A giant gash stretches the width of the cavern floor, what you think might have been some tower gouging itself into the rock there. The sloping floor rises on the other side of this gash, where you can see the source of the daylight! A giant opening lies here, created from the ruin of the crashed sky-city and the bedrock of the desert! It is maybe a mile or two from you, and perhaps half that wide! In the light, you see what looks like the curved bones of some ancient structure. In fact, it looks like the side of some great SHIP! You've found it! Maybe a mile or two through this incredible cavern, but that has to be it!

"We're here," Roxie says simply.

Arelliano squinted and blinked. "Wow."

"Now we need to get there,” Zion adds, “Get the piece off the ship and find Gemwir also. Fun.”

"...that would seem to be the case." Leal nods to Roxie and Arelliano, her voice aloof as her brain races to take everything in.
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:45 pm

Continuing on... You all decide it's better to make camp, be it below in the ruin of a once great formian city or above in the vast remains of what must have been an epic disaster.

Roxie thinks making camp sounds like a great idea. "So do we want to camp out down there, or hole up someplace here?"

With the uneven ground above, it wouldn't be difficult to find a semi-sheltered, easily defensible spot to get some well-deserved rest.

Zion agrees that resting would be best, " I would say we camp where we can see the ship and know where to go next."

Roxie nods. "That sounds like a good idea."

Arelliano nodded, looking for a spot to shelter at.

Zion looks around to see a good spot to camp.

Leal nods to that. "I'm reluctant to stop now, as close as we are and knowing that we'll soon be expected, but I'm just about taxed. If we are going to be dealing with a well-prepared adversary, we might as well be as fresh and prepared as we can be ourselves."

After looking around, Zion says, "One area looks as good as any other spot to me. Someone else have a better idea of a defensible spot to camp at?"

Roxie shrugs. "Not really."

Arelliano points out a small outcroping above. "We should be able to set up camp there."

Leal evaluates the various options as well, but defers to the judgment of those with more tactical experience when it comes to identifying a defensible spot. When Arelliano points out the outcropping, she nods. "That should let us keep a fair eye on the surroundings, yes. If I were that caster we know is out there, I'd be tempted to take a poke while we rest, and seeing it coming will be important."

"That spot will work for me then." Looking at the spot where Arelliano pointed at Zion starts to head there.

It is not a difficult climb and soon you are all set up, ready for the watch order and some much needed rest.

Leal offers to take the first watch so she can sleep thereafter.

"I'll take what ever shift that is given to me,” Zion comments to everyone when they are deciding.

The small outcropping fits the four of you easily enough, and gives a great view of the scene below. It looks like at some point you will have to cross that chasm, about halfway between you and the ship, and daylight. Unless you try your luck attempting to navigate the ruins of a floating city turned on its ear.

Roxie will take last watch. That way she gets a solid however-many hours of sleep. She can worry about crossing the grand canyon later.

Arelliano will take whichever watch is best for the casters to get their rest.

Leal quietly surveys the scene, letting her mind churn as the awesome nature of the cavern settles in and shifts to a more practical assessment. She ponders just how the group is going to navigate that gap--none of them can fly, obviously, but trying to navigate the city is going to be a mess, and likely delay them even further...quite the conundrum! In the back of her mind, she also lets the day's events settle in, slipping into a sort of aware trance; while much of her conscious thought chews on the various questions and lessons of their trip through the caverns so far, her lizard-brain keeps its senses ready for danger.

Since it's left to Arelliano and Zion for the middle of the watch, Zion offers to take the 2nd shift.

Arelliano is left to third watch, and set about at getting some sleep before that time.

Once her watch-shift is over, Leal settles back against a wall to catch some shut-eye. Rather than sleeping immediately, she lefts her mind continue chewing on something that seemed to be gnawing at her. She loses herself in the gaze of the amber gemstone sitting in the dragon's mouth atop the short walking-stick she carries, watching the magical embers dance idly within it. It's with this sight that she settles off finally to slumber, trusting her party-mates to keep their eyes out as she dreams of golden fire.

"Those Asabis managed to get down there pretty quickly somehow,” Roxie comments. “There should be some kind of path around here."

"We can check again in the morning,” Arelliano says.

Zion grunts in agreement with Arelliano, "We will find out how they got away so quickly."

A meal and some rest does everyone well. The time passes without incident, except for the occasional odd sound, the creak of stone, the occasional sharp echo which let them know that while at least for the time they were safe, they were not alone in this place. You are all refreshed from your time at rest. Some of you feel that having rested, you are more prepared to face what lies ahead than you've ever been.

Roxie finishes studying her book, packs it up, and then seems to bounce with anticipation. "Let's go!"

As she awakens, Leal digs out her understated leather-bound arcanabula--but rather than reading alone, as one might expect of the studious wizard, she actually begins taking notes. She lacks the inks for a proper scribing, but she seems to have a little insight into something she's been thinking about for quite some time, and almost ferociously jots it all down.

With the needed rest, Zion go through his stock of arrows , muttering" I'm going to need to get more arrows eventually. I'm slowly dwindling on my supply."

The cavern has darkened during your rest. The sun set perhaps only a few hours after you made camp. For all you can tell, it should be sometime in the wee hours of the early morning...

"Do we want to wait until there's more light?" Roxie asks, a little less hyper.

Looking to the others, to see what they think first, Zion stays quiet for now.

Once that's done, Leal wipes off her graphite-stained fingertips as best she can--glad for something to stain her black rather than red for a change--and notices the apparent time of day. "I hope that means we'll see daybreak about the time we hit the chasm, if we're going that way. If not, I'd say we might want to wait a little bit to ensure such; I don't relish the idea of taking on creatures that can see in the dark without at least a little aid of the sun."

"Lets get to the Chasm and see where we are from there," the Big Man suggests.

"OK," the hin agrees.

Leal nods. "That sounds reasonable. If we get there and decide we need to head down into the chasm to get across, we can always wait for daybreak at that point."

Zion shrugs, it doesn't matter to him. He gets his composite longbow out, grabs an arrow and has it notched to the bowstring, best to be ready for trouble down here. It seems they keep running into it all the time.

You descend toward the downward sloping edge of the chasm. It would probably be unwise to do so without a light source or some way to see in the dark.

Roxie pulls out the glowing skull necklace and puts it on. Light.

Arelliano takes point on the way down.

Zion takes the rear guard position as they move downwards to the chasm

Leal hangs back a bit, allowing Roxie's light to illuminate the way forward without backlighting her to anything waiting in the shadows ahead. She narrows her eyes, picking out what details she can in the darkness against what she observed yesterday before they bedded down, and proceeds slowly--distinctly letting the short-legged halfling set the pace.

Arelliano doesn't move ahead of his light source, so Roxie is truly setting the pace.

The terrain is uneven, certainly not worn by the travelings of humanoids, but as you near the chasm, which you can see is perhaps a hundred yards wide, the way becomes a bit less tiresome. Perhaps an hour walking this way, tense and wary, and you come within 50 yards of this edge of the large chasm.

Roxie looks at the edge and hopes for a path of some sort.

Leal shakes her head thoughtfully as they progress through the darkness. "The further we go, the more distinctly I'm thinking we'll want to progress further by daylight."

With Roxie setting the pace, it becomes a casual walk underground. Zion keeps his eyes and ears tuned to seeing or hearing anything coming up on them as he slowly follows along.

Arelliano does peer over the edge.

While the others look over the edge, Zion watches behind them from where they came from. He doesn't want any body sneaking up on them.

"Well at least it doesn't look too deep,” Roxie observes. “Maybe 80 ft at most? But the climb is going to be rough. I think we should wait for daylight. By the way, how much rope do we have?"

"Looks to be between 40 and 80 feet deep at its deepest,” Arelliano confirms, “the climb won't be easy, but it won't be impossible either, we should absolutely wait till sun up." To Roxie he says, "I have multiple lengths: Two 100 foot lengths and one 50 foot."

You may search in either direction for a bit easier of a climb, if you so choose.

Since they have time...Arelliano does so.

"Ok, plenty then," Roxie says.

Now that she can look at it from closer up, Leal tries to gauge exactly how far across the chasm is. She agrees with the party that waiting for daylight is the better option, though she suggests starting quickly once they start to get more light rather than waiting for full brightness--the day will pass quickly, and if they run into trouble or delays, she wants to be in and out of this mess before nightfall returns.

A couple of hours go by and the cave starts to lighten, soon, the daylight makes Roxie's charm unecessary. Now you all can see clearly into the chasm, where it looks like some ancient tower gouged the rock into a jagged scar as the fallen city crashed to the ground.

"I can try and go down first,” Arelliano offers.

Most of the floor of the chasm is rubble.

As the light starts to reveal the task before them, Leal gauges the distance and considers, as satisfied as she looks like she's going to get. "This looks manageable."

Zion takes a quick look at the chasm .

Roxie squints to get a better look at the floor of the chasm.

Zion does a double take and stares a little bit longer, whispering to the others." I think I see something like a person, maybe......but it's not moving."

Leal blinks at something in the chasm below. There's a brief pause, as if thoughts unbidden have rushed into that lizard-portion of her brain. Then the pause is more thoughtful. "Hmm. There's some sort of statue down there."

"A statue?" Zion asks, still whispering

"Statue?" Roxie echoes. She is also speaking very quietly.

"Yeah, that," Leal says to Zion, indicating that he's seeing the same thing she is. "It seems like a statue, anyway--looks like it ought to be moving, but isn't. Something about this seems a, though."

As one is revealed, so then, are others. You continue to look as the rising sun begins to better illuminate and find perhaps half a dozen more statues below in your field of vision.

"There is a statue down there,” The Big Man notes.

Roxie decides this is a good time to cast just a bit of protection on herself.

Leal is definitely glad they waited for daybreak as the sun reveals more of the statues, and that little digging feeling of wrongness blooms into a full sense of danger.

"This doesn't appear natural,” Zion whispers grimly.

"Not at all." Leal shakes her head. "The fact that they're unbroken suggests they're newer than the damage to this place. I'm wondering if...something hasn't set up shop in a little nook or cranny of this chasm."

"Why would someone decorate the chasm floor with statues?" Zion wonders quietly, a little bit confused too.

"Could those be petrified intruders?" Arelliano guesses.

Roxie swallows hard. “~Gulp~ I hope not. Maybe these were moved from the city?"

"Maybe we should avoid this area and try a different route to the ship?" Zion whispers.

Arelliano nodded and tried to see if there was any way across the chasm other than climbing down and back up.

"Can we tell if that's the way the asabis went?" Roxie asks.

Leal blinks again as she continues gazing over the statues for another moment while the others discuss their strategy. "One of the statues has...something." She seems a little frustrated at continuing to be vague, but her eyes are only so keen, no matter how hard she tries. "Can't make it out from here, but it's glinting in the sun, so it's not rock."

Zion shrugs at Roxie's question," I have no idea."

"It's also not our objective, though..." She seems intrigued at the idea of finding out what it is, especially given the context of her having sighted it...but not quite so much as to climb heedlessly into the bizarre tableau at the base of the chasm to solve that particular mystery, at least at the moment.

"Could this be the mage that you are concerned about, Leal?” Zion asks, “Could have used spells to turn people into statues?"

"I can't see anything down there." Arelliano scowled, irritated.

"The thought had occurred to me briefly, but so far as I know, that's the realm of arch-magic," Leal says to Zion. "Casters that control the Weave to that degree usually don't set silent figments to fool gullible pursuers."

"Do the statues look like they're in a standard pose, or do they look like people caught in motion?" Roxie wonders out loud.

There's a faint sense that Leal's convincing herself with that statement as well, or at least assuaging the little corner of her mind that this adventure has quietly jaded, but she also largely seems to believe it.

Roxie can see the statues herself. They most certainly look like they were in the midst of negotiating the terrain down there. She frowns. "Maybe there's another way around?"

Still tugged by the mystery of the shiny thing, Leal manages to pull herself away with a distracting thought--just how difficult and long would it be to navigate around the chasm? And she glances about to try and gauge exactly that.

Arell started looking for that answer now.

The chasm stretches the width of the cavern. The end to your left, some distance away is a sheer bedrock face. To your right is the city, a tilted kaleidoscope of ruins. Without further investigation you are uncertain they are even navigable.

"Worst case scenario we can conjure something to go ahead of us and draw out whatever monsters may be down there," the hin offers.

"Interesting idea, Roxie,” Zion comments quietly

Leal considers that, her face falling a bit as she gets a better glance at just how long it looks like traversing that fallen city might delay them--if it can be safely navigated at all. "That's starting to sound like a workable approach, honestly."

"Maybe Captain Gemwir is down there, one of the statues?" Zion shakes his head if that's really true.

For a long moment, she continues looking towards the rubble of the fallen city, as if evaluating it as a potential way around the chasm, leaning forward on the pommel of her walking stick as she does. But after that quiet moment of contemplation, she actually shudders. "Yeah...despite what seems to me is likely a trap, the chasm also seems our safest choice. We want no part of traversing those ruins."

"Agreed,” Roxie adds, “I don't want to think about trying to climb the side of a building, or up a street."

"That would be the least of our worries there. I believe that's a Netherese ruin, and if it is, the few things I've read about what we might find in there make my blood run a little cold--which I suppose is saying something for the desert."

Zion shrugs,"Alright then, it's decided."

Arelliano nodded. "So..I'll go down first, and wait for you lot, yes?"

To Arelliano she says, "I like Roxie's idea of trying to bait out anything that might be lying in wait. If she can conjure some distractions, it might prove better than any of us going first."

"I would need to be near the bottom,” Roxie says, “otherwise anything I conjure up would fall to the floor."

“That said,” Leal adds, “Arelliano leading the way is probably best when we do go. Aside from the dangers, you're the best suited to getting a rope back up the other side of the wall," she says with a wan smirk.

There seem to be a couple pairs, one trio, and perhaps some behind larger bits of rubble you can't quite see.

"If Roxie has to get close to the ground,” the Big Man says, “then I recommend we climb in tandem most of the way down, she and I. I have climbing gear to secure he in place long enough to cast her spells."

"Sounds like a good plan,” Zion says, “and we can keep an eye out for anything coming towards you two then too."

Arelliano looked to Leal and Roxie to see if they agreed.

Leal nods to both men. "That sounds reasonable. Zion and I will keep an eye out as you climb down, and we can follow once you near the ground and Roxie casts her magic."

"I can do that,” Roxie says. “I can conjure something up to 35 ft away, so I really need to be close to the ground. That way it can also move around and draw out whatever might be down there."

Arelliano nodded. "So we will climb down to about 10 feet off the ground and you can do your work?"

"I may need to be on the ground, or someplace I can stand on the wall."

Roxie and ARelliano have no difficulty using the rope to navigate down the wall.

Leal looks again across the chasm and the field of statuary beneath them. As it looks like she and Zion are going to be on lookout duty to start, she decides to try a little experiment--seeming more confident with her magic today, she invokes an invocation she hasn't used previously (and something a little more complex-sounding than her past magics), enunciating slowly to make sure she doesn't stumble over anything. As she completes the drawn-out chant, her eyes flciker briefly with some sort of eldritch light, before fading to appear the color of lamp-oil on water. And then she reappraises the chasm from a new perspective.

Arelliano leaves that choice up to Roxie, she knows what she needs

"Let's get to the bottom. Just be careful."

While Leal is casting, Zion keeps his ears and eye alert for anything suspicious.

Roxie and Arelliano touch down, and can see, revealed to them beyond a boulder they could not see before, a pair of statues that look very much like the fleeing Asabi they had pursued earlier. Behind them, something stirs!

Leal seems satisfied with herself, for just a moment...and then she freezes. She seems to do the slightest hint of a double-take, and then she swallows hard. She does her best to control her voice so as not to sound explicitly like a cry of alarm, focusing her voice down the rope to the other two. (She might succeed, Oghma only knows, she's clearly not an impartial observer.) "Basilisk!"

Of course it starts to reveal itself just as she shouts, rendering her caution moot, but it's the thought that counts. Maybe. If, y'know, they don't all likewise end up as masonry.

Half of the party up, half of the party down. Here's to hoping the rest of them know what Leal's so urgent about!

Zion takes a look down, to see if he can shoot it with an arrow.

Roxie and Arelliano clearly hear Leal say the word, "Basilisk!" Whatever that meant.

The basilisk is within range of Zion's bow, but the boulder it lies behind currently gives it partial cover.

Unless you move to get a clearer view, the creature is about 30' from the edge of the cliff, behind a rock near a pair of very statuesque asabi...

Leal realizes she can aid the party in two ways at once--not just by engaging the threat, but also by helping the rest of the party keep tabs on it. As she braces herself at the edge of the chasm and focuses her mind, she shouts to anyone who might not know, "Try to get some distance and not look at it, or you'll wind up like the others down there!"

Zion aims and releases the arrow into flight to the basilisk creature. At least it might distract the thing if he doesn't hit it.

Zion's arrow flies true, but bounces harmlessly off the creature's thick hide... It brings its head up. It looks like a long, 300lb lizard whose body and tail are about 12 feet in length, total... It has... 8, yes, 8 legs..!

Leal spares no more time to convey knowledge for the moment, focused as she is at actually dealing with the beast itself. She feels the magic coming to her, the insights she dreamed about in the night, and she focuses on fire--not as indiscriminate force, but as the living, ravenous creature she's coming to know it as. Her chant is hoarse as waves of heat are expelled along with her voice, and just then a swirling, amorphous form materializes in the air about the basilisk, a clawed horror of red-orange flame that shrilly shrieks as it sears the air and whirls about the beast's face and hide!

"Now what are we dealing with!" Zion exclaims loudly when he sees it fully revealed

Instead, Leal's magic heats the stone of the creature's prey as it dips back its head in a rather turtle-like fashion!

Leal's eyes are alight with the embers of magical fire as her hands curl into a claw, swiping along with the fiery form as it whirls about the basilisk, but only ravaging the stony forms of its asabi victims nearby. Her forehead beads with sweat as she continues concentrating, but answers Zion between rapid breaths as she wields more powerful magic than ever before. "It's a magical creature, basically an animal imbued with powers of the Weave. Slow and dumb, but its hide is thick and it can cast you to stone at a glance!"

Roxie takes Leal's advice to heart. She starts casting where she is, up against the wall (at ground level) but facing the ground. She doesn't need to see her target. she only needs a general idea of it's location. She won't need to stare at it to accomplish that. She starts casting....

"We should be safe up here, but that won't do Roxie or Arelliano much good."

As Roxie goes into her trance, the creature slithers forward slowly, head moving about to assess its prey, a tongue slashing out of its mouth, it eyes Arelliano... who had his head down looking at the ground...

The beast ambled forward directly for the Big Man, charging at it despite is slow, languid movement... It snaps at his leg and attemps to wrench it from the Big Man's body! It comes away with fresh blood in its maw.

Arelliano grunted in pain taking a five foot step away from the first and and unfurled his chain doing his best to strike at the beast while keeping his gaze averted. He misses badly with his swing cause trying to hit something you aren't looking at is hard!
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:03 am

Part 3: The Bones of the Windjammer, the Lair of Ghondalaath

The gnome recommends you all prep and rest, once you've finished your plans. He has a crude sketch of the ruin of what he calls the Windjammer. "Most of the wood is gone, rotted off or the like," he explains. "What's left are the metal bones. It is a vast ship."

The hin speaks up. "How big is 'vast'? And how much are you wanting to take with us when we leave?"

"Wouldn't fit in Waterdeep harbor," he grins.

Roxie raises an eyebrow.

Gemwir continues, "I've localized the most likely place to recover something of value to my ship. It's dead to most divination, lead-lined, be me guess. There may be some power coils or dare I hope an elicum."

"A what?" the hin inquries.

Zion frowns as he listens, but he pays attention. No reason to miss what they are after.

Leal listens to Gemwir's description of the ship and what components he's looking for, though part of her mind is elsewhere, strategizing on how to deal with the phaerimm and their slaves.

Arelliano was thinking that very same thing.

"Elicum, my dear hin," he replies. "Eh-lee-come." He puts his gnome hands together and makes a sort of invisible cylinder-like shape with them. "I dun' know how to describe it. It can provide a tremendous power boost to the engines of the Swallow's Tear. 1000%, I'd wager!" He shakes his head. "It's a perpetual motion device, my dear," he adds.

"So that's what you're looking for?" Roxie asks, "Something that's always in motion?"

"Doubt the dragon would've missed it," though, Gemwir admits.

Gemwir nods. "They can be problematic, though, lass," he admits. "Some of them phase in and out of dimensions when faulty." He shrugs again. "Among other things, it is said."

"Does it make noise?" Roxie continues her role as inquisitor.

That description of the elicum is enough to snap her out of Leal's strategic reverie, and she seems intrigued. "I'd guess you're right that the dragon would have grabbed it if it could, but if sufficiently small and/or malfunctioning, it's at least worth keeping our eyes out for."

"So this eluctrum is something we need to grab and bring back to you for your ship. What does it look like , can you give us an idea at least?" Zion asked.

"I'm goin' with ye," Gemwir replies. "But... It should have two metal caps, be about 9 inches or so in diameter, and about 18 inches in length. But be careful if ye tries to handle it, especially if it's *still connected.*"

"So it looks like a metal like wand.......sorta like the one you found, Leal. Right?" Zion looks to Leal for confirmation.

"Grab it telekinetically if it's hooked to anything. Got it." Leal nods emphatically to that. She shakes her head to Zion. "It'll be a fair bit bigger than the one I found, it sounds like."

"Not as big though," Zion shrugs," Gotcha."

"How fragile is it, Gemwir, should the phaerimm start throwing around battle-magic in its vicinity?"

The gnome fixes Leal with a dead stare. "You see anything but the wee Phaerimm and its bodyguards, and ye runs, lass, all o' ye? That clear?"

"Something tells me we won't have to debate the issue if it happens," Roxie replies.

"If we get the chance to run."

Leal nods. "Don't worry, that's my plan. The phaerimm and asabi sound bad enough, anything more dangerous will absolutely be beyond our ability to handle. And as much as I want to make it back home, throwing myself into the maw of a suicidal fight isn't a good way of getting there. The desert still gives me better odds than that."

Arelliano mutters, "If the Phaerim flys it means I won't be tripping it."

"But Zion and Leal can shoot it," Roxie says cheerily.

"Yes, so Ellowyn and I will try to draw them all out," he says, "like we planned. Get you in, and hopefully out. The gnome tosses Roxie a small metal tube that looks remarkably like a whistle. "If you find and recover it, blow 'ard into that 3 times and it'll bring the Swallow's Tear. I won't be far behind."

"Need more arrows to shoot down a bag full of floating Phaerim then," he mutters.

She ponders quietly for a moment. "Quick thought, you mentioned before that the asabi were probably being mind-controlled to follow the phaerimm. How confident are you about that?"

"It is how they operate, the Phaerimm," Gemwir replies. "Otherwise the Asabi'd kick and run back te their own kin!"

"So Areliano can take on the Asabi and Zion and shoot the Phaerimm," the hin recommends.

Leal nods. "So while I'd have to get close to do it, it might be worthwhile to try and shake that control off one or more of them. It's a thought, anyway."

Zion listens and mentally prepares to make his last of his arrows count when he has to use them.

Leal rifles through her mental inventory for a bit, and nods again. "Yes, I think I can make that work."

Gemwir leads you all toward the ruin of the Windjammer. The metal bones of the ship, are, in fact, tremendously massive. The ship looks to have crashed directly into the city, from the look of it. Its front is buried in the streets of the ruined Asram, so it too, lies on its side, nearly turned over. It looks more like a small city itself. The rear of the ship is your goal, Gemwir tells them, for that is where the remnants of the ship's gigantic propulsion systems lie.

Before departing towards the ship, Leal has laid on some basic magical protection. She then follows with all the silent discretion she can muster, something the others have already seen in practice, but then she's brought up short by the up-close sight of the vessel. The scale and alien nature of the Windjammer's graveyard stuns her for a long moment before he continues following, as if she's taken a moment to commit to memory the sight of something whose like she may never encounter again.

Roxie has also cast a protection spell and is now in awe of the sights they are walking to/through.

The tableau is a mix of the ruin of the flying city, the ruin of the flying ship, and the natural formations of the Anauroch. You spy the latter pushing up through the mixture of ruin, and a natural rock formation, from which a waterfall flows.

The big fella moves as quietly as he can to the ship boneyard.

Zion can only stare in amazement at the wonders he has seen on this adventure so far, he shakes his head to get back to the job at hand. First they have to survive this to get back home safely.

The better part of your journey finds the Gnome casting abjurations between both he and Ellowyn. Soon you come to the Windjammer itself. It feels more like the land around you has grown over this tragic place, but sharp edges of metal stick out of the ground and in some cases the stone itself around you.

The mental image of the Windjammer in flight, and the scope of the technology and magic required to make that happen, is enough to stagger the mind. In the back of Leal's mind, there's a tiny architect running numbers and magical theory, pondering the possibility of someday resurrecting a project of even aspirationally similar scope, while simultaneously making airplane noises like a ten-year-old girl.

Arelliano does his best to keep a sharp eye out as the journey continues on.

You come to a place where a glittering rib the ship's frame arches high overhead. More of them lie beyond. What can only be described as enormous, cave-like structures made of some obsidian-like stone dot the ground beyond this place. They are probably a hundred feet in diameter, at the largest of them. They seem clustered together, and you can see through some of them.

"Main engines," Gemwir comments. "What we seek is near." He dips down behind a rock, turning to them.

Leal brings her mind into clearer focus as they enter the wreckage of the vessel itself, remembering why they've come. She takes a moment to crouch low with Gemwir behind the rock, and murmurs an incantation over one of the scrolls in the organizer on her hip. Her form flickers with quicksilvery afterimages as she moves, suggestive of speed barely restrained, and then she nods to the gnome.

A waterfall off to your right falls through the multi-layered terrain before you, the small stream it creates snaking throughout the structure, creating little mini-waterfalls as it changes elevations, creating small pools in some places.

Zion has an arrow ready with his bow, quietly he nods to Gemwir, even if the gnome doesn't see it.

Arelliano crouched down and pointed along the right arch. "Unless we need to, I say we try to move parrallell to that arch. Unless you think we should be moving from covered section to covered section though that doesn't appear to be possible exactly."

"Good luck t'ye," Gemwir smiles brightly. He produces what looks like a small swallow's feather, recites and arcane incantation with a swish and a flick. Then, he rises into the air over the reckage, spinning a bit so as to put his face toward the ground beneath him, speeding away from them toward the strange conical-shaped formation he called "engines," leaving you to investigate the area.

"Right..." Roxie says as the gnome flies off. "Following a path we can actually walk on sounds good to me."

By your reckoning, that frame rail is likely the indicator of the level of the ship where whatever you're looking for may possibly be found.

Arelliano closed his eyes shook his head muttering in Giantish a curse about arcanists.

Zion shakes his head as he watches Gemwir fly off. "Time to get to work," he says quietly.

Arelliano looked to the others, "Unless you object, I will take point."

The clockwork owl trails faintly behind the flying gnome, who is quickly out of earshot and moving away fast.

You all hear the twang of a crossbow, and both Arelliano and Leal spot it's weilder a couple levels above!

Leal's eyes narrow at the noise, and as she follows the flash of motion to its source, she immediately casts her gaze about for a visible path up to that level.

Roxie looks for cover and looks to see where their attack(s) may be watching them from.

Suddenly the entire cave flashes and there's a resounding thunderclap. The after image of Gemwir blasting something with a lightning bolt ghosts in your vision, but it was not directed at the asabie there.

The asabi fires again.

Leal immediately bolts, using the distraction of the gnome's arcane assault to start working her way forward, while hoping to stay beneath the notice of the asabi sniper.

Roxie casts another spell on herself, then begins the long task of catching up with the bigger folks.

Zion is quick to follow Leal's lead with Gemwir's actions giving them a possible chance to get moving. He follows after Leal since he didn't see the sniper.

Arelliano's desire to take point aside, Leal has a plan, and her last layer of magical reinforcement means she's moving substantially faster than the rest of the party. As she nears that last level before reaching the asabi, she glances around for a path with some cover to make her final approach...

As they advance, she gestures with two fingers before pointing at the asabi and motioning to her crossbow as if suggesting there are two shooters.

Zion nods at Leal.

Roxie nods as well.

Arel nods over one shoulder. He thumbs at his chest, as if to say, 'me first?'

Leal shakes her head, and points at herself, even as she begins a new invocation, but in an odd combination--to those who know the Draconic tongue, it's a protective ward, but rather than targeting herself or her allies, she exerts a bit of effort to hold her focused will in one hand, as if preparing to use it as an attack.

Zion frowns but waits to see what will happen now.

The cave alights again as magic is slung back and forth some distance from you. It echoes across the place, and you feel the shockwave roll over the top of you...

And then, light of foot and fast as the Weave can carry her, Leal sprints from hiding up towards the reptilian arbalists!

Arelliano is ready to spring forward!

Zion shrugs. Maybe this was the plan to rush the Asabi. He joins in the chase to get to the top as quick as possible.

Roxie follows along behind Zion.

With silent footfalls Leal approaches the distracted asabi crossbowman, and it barely has time to register the light weight of her touch upon its neck before it is enveloped in the protective ward she had conjured! And now she has at least a split-second to recognize her position and hope she didn't just do something incredibly stupid...

Arelliano has time to dash within attack range as the creature and its companions are caught totally flat-footed and by surprise!

Leal, presuming both that she was right and that the thing can understand the Common tongue, speaks quickly and quietly. "With any luck, you're yourself again for the first time in a while. Help us out and we'll try our best to make sure you stay that way."

Stunned, suddenly the creature looks about, spots the other asabi, sees the little floating gasbag of teeth and claws, looks beyond it, and flees in terror!

...or it could flee in abject terror. That's also an option, Leal supposes. Dammit.

Yeah, being released from mind control automatically prompted the creature's ALL lizard brain to do the one thing it's been wanting to do for longer than it can remember, which was to high-tail it out of there!

There is a low groaning rumble. The entire cavern shudders. Some dust falls from above. More flashing lights from afar...

Zion has his bow ready to fire at any enemies attacking, he comes into view to see what's going on first.

As Leal comes face to...ringed maw of non-Euclidian horror-death with her first phaerimm, even though it's but a juvenile, her own lizard brain leaves her thinking she can't entirely blame the asabi for its reaction. That's terrifying in a way even the striga were not, the face of an ancient and primeval horror from deep in Faerun's Weave-addled past...

The hissing gasbag turns at Leal's presence, making some strange, otherworldly sound at her, but the creature's mind greases over her own... and anyone else's within a hundred feet. Ssstay calm. Sssstay there. I willllll come to youuuuu. We will sssspeak, yessss? We will know the sssecretsss of thisss place, togetherrrr. It's slippery voice is smooth, emotionless.

That eerie, wind-swept monotone tries to seep its way into Leal's brain like a leeching poison, but deep within the folds of her caftan, her little amulet shimmers warmly, and the words slide off like a grease-slick on flowing water. She shivers, her skin running cold. And then she recovers her senses enough to continue with step two of her plan, and she sprints quickly at the second asabi, no longer so focused on stealth as she recites the protective ward and sweeps her hand forward...

Still distracted by events around it, Leal catches the reptilian flat-footed, nearly punching it with her final gesture as she lays her palm upon its chest and completes the invocation. The asabi's eyes clear as the influence of the Weave-horror is purged from its mind, replacing that control with a wave of nauseating horror, and it too sets to panicked flight!

First the creepy feeling in his mind, the small fear that started to grow in him, and then the anger and ferocity kicked in, and he shook it off for now. With his adrenaline kicked in with his bow ready , he moves forward into view and fires at the first enemy he sees!

A shudder and shiver goes through the small aberration. Theyyy run to my siiirrrrre, foolssss. I willl destroyyy you noww, and he willll reward meeeee.

Zion thought his aim was true but somehow the arrow misses the floating little gas bag.

Recognizing the same expression and intent in the fleeing asabi, Leal immediately whirled away from the creature who is no longer a threat to face the eldritch terror that awaits, reaching quickly for her slim conductive rod. Her mind reinforced by the power of her amulet, she confronts the levitating creature now with more revulsion than pure terror, focused on removing its taint from the face of Toril.

Yesss, run in fearrrr! As you sssshoouuld!

The creature shudders and shakes, undulating its rows of teeth in the round maw that is it's head! A wave of fear washes over you, and the only thing you can think of is to flee!

Leal, though, stands firm.

Roxie moves up enough so that she can see the scene through a gouge in the rocks. It's not enough to fight through by any means, but enough to get a general idea of where their enemy is. She casts, and a bright cloud of sparklies burst around the phaerimm.

Leal starts to hyperventilate for just a moment, the magical fear crashing over her, and then she again feels that soothing calm radiate from her chest, blocking that black miasma of dread from her mind. She grips her silvery rod firmly, and raises it high, trailing gold-azure sparks in its wake. The smell of ozone wafts forth as she speaks. "The time of your kin is past, creature, and your sire will but reward you in the Fugue."

The creature spins about in Roxie's magical glitter-cloud, seemingly unaffected! Except that now it looks like a razor mawed glitter-rubbed pork tenderloin! With claws!

Arelliano flees with all due haste, as well as do the asabi, clearly outpacing the big man!

Leal's voice takes on tones of power as she speaks a few Draconic words and gestures with the wand, sending forth an arc of brilliantly coruscating golden lighting!

Sickening fear creeps into Zion like he has never felt before. He is scared to death, and all he can or wants to do is run away from that terrible sight of the floating mouth of teeth!

The hovering creature is wickedly fast, and the phaerimm is merely caught in the trailing off-shoots of the lightning arc's wake, which do little but burn off some of the glitter and render a patch of its wispy form a little numb.

Laughter fills your heads, it is skittering and manic, welling up and washing over you. The creature floats above the effects of the hin's magic, turning and spinning and tossing a bit of it back upon the closest visible target, that being Leal...

Blinddd meee? I will ssshoww you howwww!

The creature lifted its claw at Leal, poiting two talons at her eyes, it made hooking motion, as if it was trying to tear the very vision from her... but it is unsuccessful!

Leal winces and shakes her head with a bit of a stagger, but then whatever was affecting her momentarily seems to dissipate as quickly as it began, and she glares back at the dreadful beast, regaining her composure and preparing for another attack...

Roxie notices the lack of bodyguards around them and starts casting again.

Arelliano continues to flee in terror.

Leal grits her teeth and tenses up, her chant far more forceful now than before as she repeats her previous invocation, her wand flaring again. Any sense of subtlety is gone--as Roxie and the phaerimm conjure glitter and darkness to blind and misdirect, she seeks now to purge and destroy, and brings forth another arc of furious golden lightning towards that end!

There is a gigantic explosion from the area the gnome had flown off to, causing the Phaerim to turn, distracted!

In its distraction, Leal's arc of lightning lances cleanly across the dorsal side of its wispy form, and a blinding flash gives way to smoking and smoldering flesh where the bolt dug neatly across and through its body! The phaerimm knows pain now, and Leal's morale surges as she confirms this creature is subject to the same forces as everything else they've faced so far!

Something sails over head, smoking, spinning... over and beyond where you are currently... It looks decidedly gnome-like...

Zion is still fleeing from the scene.

Roxie's summoning comes to completion, and there again is the celestial bee, buzzing after the lightning-singed gasbag! It jabs its stinger right into the tail end of the Phaerimm!

The creature's stinger is left in the Phaerimm's side as it pulls away, an odd ichor dripping from it that seems to get into the aberration's innards!

Roxie follows up with a sting of her own--this one of ice, as she conjures forth a knife of frozen vapor that flies forth and explodes in a cloud of swirling, jagged bolts that envelop the beast like shrapnel!

The Phaerimm shrieks in all of your minds, but its ego doesn't quite let it flee as it should, it's young mind still hasn't grasped the fact that its an escape you all could likely not prevent...

The daggers fizzle in the vicinity of the magical aberration... which gives it confidence to attack again!

Strands of goo spray from the things mouth, pinning both the hin and Leal to the ruins around them!

Nowww, I willlll havvve youuuuu... the thing's voice in their minds... Bitttt.... byyyy.... bitttt

Were she not quite so distracted, Leal might scoff. Perhaps it's because the creature is a juvenile, with more raw power than experience with which to wield it? Why else would it waste time pinning in place a foe that hasn't moved throughout the fight? Either way, her anger and the sick feeling of fear combine to fuel her casting as she conjures again, her voice stone and power echoing on the still underground air as her rod starts to glow with the heat of even more lightning funneled through its shaft!

This time her aim is perfectly on target--as the phaerimm floats back towards the ground, its bizarre maw slavering at the prospect of inflicting tortuous death on its now-captured prey, Leal's final bolt flies straight down its gullet, and with a brilliant crimson-gold flash of light the terrifying creature explodes, reduced in an instant to a cloud of ichorous mist and scraps of flaming meat!

Zion and Arelliano suddenly feel the sensation of absolute panic flee from their minds...

And Zion stops running!!!

Arelliano stopped and stood there in a cold sweat his brow furrowed in frustration.

A bit of Phaeri-goo lands about Roxie and Leal, and upon, too, perhaps, as creature's magic eventually fades out...

The Big Man stood seething for a few more seconds before turning and running back to his campanions full tilt. "Is anyone hurt?" he asks on arrival.

"O me 'ead," comes a familiar voice. A singed and charred Gemwir trudges up to the group once you've all gathered back together. Ellowyn he holds beneath one arm. She isn't moving.

Leal snarls as she angrily begins ripping the magical webs off her person, the magic already dissipating into inert protoplasm with the phaerimm's death, as she wipes the last sticky remains away with the misty viscera of the creature. "You'll have me, all'll have my power right down your throat, you smug, disgusting waste." As she catches her breath, trying to get the creature's influence out from underneath her skin, she moves to check on the others--and then Gemwir and Ellowyn once they return.

Sickened from his adrenaline rush and the fear stopping he makes his way gradually back to the others

The gnome looks weary beyond knowing, his eyes heavy. He looks to the hin and says to her, "Got that whistle lass?" then makes a motion with his head, signaling for her to use it. Roxie does, blowing on it 3 times, as instructed. No sound is forthcoming, though. "Dinna worry lass," he says. "Gary n Beary'll be right over, I'm certain."

"Now what?" Zion gingerly asks to anyone who will listen to his question.

Leal gestures to Ellowyn beneath the gnome's arm. "Is she...just damaged? Fixable? Anything we can do?"

Gemwir sets Ellowyn on a boulder. The clockwork owl is completely still, its wings folded. In its center, there is a perfect hole, passing entirely throug it, as if disintegrated by some powerful ray.

...and that answers her question, Leal supposes.

"I dunno lass," he says, a bit misty-eyed. He winces at some pain or other, you are uncertain if it is emotional or physical. "Aye, maybe the chassis," he shrugs softly, "Maybe life could come again to that body. But the soul is gone. Ellowyn, is gone." He seems distraught, yet, resigned.

Arelliano stood silent vigil trying not to let his battle failure affect his resolve to see this all through.

The gnome sets his large pack down, unshouldering it with a wince and a sigh. His coat is singed and one of his eyebrows is gone, a blister forming on his forehead.

"I'm sorry, Gemwir." Leal puts a gentle hand on the gnome's shoulder. She has no familiar of her own, so she doesn't know that sensation of losing one, but she understands it conceptually, perhaps as well as anyone else here might aside from Roxie. "Did you at least find what you sought?"

Gemwri shakes his head at Leal after patting the proffered hand. Then, spotting something, he limps down the trail. "Now, see here," he tells them, "Those lines there?" He points to something nearby that look simply like natural undulations of the terrain. "Power lines." A closer look and you can now tell that the natural lies atop what may be something else entirely. The gnome moves into the ruin a bit further, coming up to a slab of metal sticking out of the ground. He motions Arelliano over. "C'mere, Big Guy," he says. "Lend your strength here. You too," he says to Zion.

Zion follows along keeping an eye out for enemies, until he is called by the gnome.

Leal follows his gesture questioningly, then moves along behind the gnome as he moves on ahead, but allows the men to take the lead--seeing as they appear to be called upon for some manual labor.

Zion shoulders his bow and puts the arrow back in the quiver,"What do you need us to do?"

Arelliano does as he is bid.

"See if ye kin get it to budge," Gemwir says, pointing at the corner of the slab, and pointing in a direction he asks them to try to force it toward.

Zion does as instructed, with Arelliano's help

The two men put their weight into it. Nothing.

"Again," the gnome asks. He begins walking to his pack.

Zion shrugs and then wait to assist Arelliano.

Petite as she is, she's never been one to shy away from getting things done, and if there's room for her to help, she'll lend her admittedly limited stature and strength to the cause.

The second time, and the gnome turns at this, Arelliano and Zion get the metal thing to tilt on some unseen corner beneath the dirt and grime of Time. Leal moves up to help them a bit as well, and it slides over enough to let you see what lies beyond!

Zion's curiousity wins over and he looks to see.

Pressure from within is released into the air around you with an ancient sigh. Some of you are overcome by it, but it does not seem to harm you. You stare into what looks like an empty room, except for perhaps 9 small, what look like storage containers which are evenly spaced across what is perhaps an area of 18x24'. From each of these containers, a tube runs into the wall behind them. There is a door there, blown ajar. 6 of these 9 containers look ruptured or damaged. THey are all covered in runes.

"By Gond!" Gemwir exclaims. "Intact? Inconceivable!" It is then you hear a low thrumming from above.

Arelliano looks up.

Leal draws her walking stick with the gleaming gemstone in its tip, and holds it forth to add a little light to the room beyond. She takes in the odd containers and cylinders, and almost reflexively utters a soft invocation allowing her to translate the runes.

There is the Swallow's Tear, floating slowly down to land on the small plateau of their victory above, the metal bear at the helm.

Leal blinks a moment as her magic fails to translate the runes as she expected. Then she mutters as it dawns on her, and she utters a second, different spell.

"Wow," breathes Roxie.

"That's what I wanted," Leal says as things suddenly become much clearer to her, and she knows what this room likely was--and that it's very much what they were seeking based on Gemwir's earlier statements. She seems contemplative, however, as if piecing together an odd little mystery presented by the scene.

Interesting but not understandable to him, Zion glances up as the ship glides down slowly, "Ah the first mate Bear has safely brought the ship here."

A third spell doesn't seem to help her out much, but does inspire her to add some more notes to her little journal, which appears to be getting fairly close to full.

The gnome glances up at the ship before entering. "Yes, now, let's see..." out comes a notebook of his own.

Zion sees the similarity with the two notebooks and shakes his head, but waits quietly.

Gemwir looks from the notebook to the container. Manipulating something on top of the container that looks like it slides and turns. There is a lot of clicking and the front of the container slides up, revealing a tube like thing. He looks at it curiously, then shakes his head. He moves along to the second intact container.

This one, he cannot get to open. Which brings him to the third. This one does not open, either.

Arelliano simply waits and watches

Shrugging, the gnome turns back to the first, pulling at the glass-like cylinder. He grunts and struggles with it until it pops out in his hands but he loses his balance and falls back on his bum. "Oof!"

The cylinder rolls to Roxie's feet. "Ooh!" she says, picking it up and examining it.

There are runes along the metal caps and the glass is unbroken, but within is dark, and you cannot see through it.

Gemwir stands. "Careful now," he advises. Funny, since he just dropped it.

Leal is likewise reduced to watching intently as Gemwir does his work--and quickly moves to help the gnome up when he stumbles, before moving over to look at the cylinder now in Roxie's possession.

Zion watches to see what's next in this operation.

After just a moment, she flinches...and then she gazes more intently, fishing in the front of her caftan. "Hmm...Zion, you might have been more prescient than you knew."

"Let's get that out into the light so we can see it better, eh?" the gnome suggests.

"Ok!" Roxie nods. "Doesn't look broken... but it doesn't look working, either does it?" the gnome comments as they come out of the room into the light.

Leal nods to the gnome. "Indeed."

"What's that?" Roxie asks, now outside with the device, turning at staring at Leal's... chest.

Zion hears Leal's comment but he's not worried about any reply right now.

It's buried under multiple layers of silk, but Leal eventually manages to (modestly!) produce the tiny wand they found earlier after their fight with the basilisk. "As soon as I came close, it started reacting to that piece." She feels it pull in her hand, and Roxie's eyes widen as there is the faintest of glows within the cylindrical piece.

"Let's get it on the ship, first," Gemwir suggests.

And then Leal pauses a moment, her eyes closed, her expression far away as the piece tugs at its...companion? She slowly recovers her focus, looking again at the two pieces before nodding to the gnome. "Yes. I don't think there's much sense in staying here longer than we have to."

Watching everything happening, Zion chuckles."It appears that Leal has carried the key to your prize Gemwir."

You take it aboard the ship, just barely aboard the ship, when a voice comes to you from a ledge not far away.

"Why are you here?" it asks.

Arelliano's head snaps around to the voice.

You turn and see a tall man in fine, flowing clothes. His dark blue hair is tied up in a long tube and trails out behind him with a sudden, stirring breeze.

Zion stops chuckling after hearing the voice

The man's eyes, even from the distance he stands from you, about 50 feet, are clear and blue, and piercing like none other you have seen.

Gemwir is suddenly prodding Leal. "To the helm, lass!" he whispers urgently.

There is a staff suddenly in the man's hands. "WHY ARE YOU HERE?" he asks again, the voice booming across the cavern.

"Quickly now!" Gemwir urgers, "Gary!" The mechanical monkey appears from above, slipping down the ropes to land in front of the gnome, who passes off the cylinder.

"Why, Master Ghondalaath," Gemwir smiles, turning. "Just passing through, you know?" The gnome stands at the portion where the deck meets the gangplank.

Leal starts at the appearance of the voice, prepared to let Gemwir do the talking as the leader of their expedition, but when he suggests she should head to the helm, she heads to the helm. Nobody who appears from nowhere and gets that irrationally angry that quickly is going to be a happy person to deal with, especially after a day of phaerimm and lizard-men.

"Seein' the sites, visiting old friends..." Gemwir motions to the chasm beyond where the basilisk had lied in wait for them.

"Fool tinker, you trespass in my demesne," the man says, suddenly standing half the distance from them. His eyes scan you all, and land, finally, on Leal. "What do you hide?" he inquires calmly. Obviously he felt in full control. "Tell me," and a wave of dominance passes over Leal, to the point it almost freezes her. Her chest gets hot with magic, though, and she yet withstands it. This makes the man's eyes widen considerably.

Zion sighs, "I knew something was going to stop us from getting home," he mutters.

The gnome panics! "GO GO GO! Red button!!!" he ordered Leal. "Gary!"

The gnome has no need to say it twice!

The monkey leaps into action, Leal reacts, slamming the button as the monkey slides the lever forward. Gemwir grips the deck as do you all as the world goes sliding away beneath you.

With all the panic, Zion is ready to do as instructed by the Captain Gemwir.

You see the man point his staff at you, and a noxious cloud the color of bile billows in your direction! "Blueee buttoonnnn!" The gnome cries. "Bearrrry!" The metal bear is suddenly at his side....

"Whoa!" Roxie cries, gripping a rope nearby and holding on for life!

Arelliano grabs onto something to hold onto for dear life.

Zion grabs the closest stable item he can reach, the railing as he watches what is going on below them.

"Who is that?!" Zion's question is more of a shout with all the commotion.

Leal hits the blue button, and the air around the ship suddenly shimmers and shudders, the green vapor that would have engulfed and quite killed eveyrone suddenly only envelopes you, as if the button activated some sort of artificial atmosphere.... You zoom out of the green cloud and toward the exit!

Suddenly Leal is touching the wand to the cylinder and it shines brightly with a strange blue-white light from within!

The monkey takes the cylinder below decks. Then, there is a roar from behind you, as you're spat out of the noxious cloud, that makes even Gemwir go white...

You turn to see a gargantuan blue dragon, its wings spreading almost across the entire cavern (at least that's how it seems!), launching into the air behind you, after you! It will easily overcome you!

The roar would seem to confirm what she suspected, as she answers Zion's question. "That was the dragon! Is the dragon!"

Arelliano groans. "Well of course it was."

"Ok," Gemwir says to them, "You're on your own from here!" He looks to the metal bear. "Ready?" he asks. The bear turns, a seat uncovered by a sliding panel, which Gemwir mounts. "When Gary plugs that in, hit the GREEN button, yes?! Keep her straight, fly her high! You won't get another chance!"

A lightning bolt streaks past you, and the wheel jerks in Leal's hands, as if of its own volition!

"OH! Of course, how stupid of me!" Zion shakes his head and groans, "This isn't going to end well for us." making a statement of the obvious.

The whole ship tilts and only barely avoids the blast! Your hairs all stand up with the static of the bolt's discharge!

"Farewell!" the gnome cries, leaping off the deck, soaring into the very maw of the dragon!

The glint of the metal is all you see before the terror of the dragon causes you to remember what you're doing! There is suddenly a ghostly image of Gary. "Galactic Alliance Reconnaissance Interceptor online. Ready when you are, Captian." The holographic image of the metal monkey's face appears just above the wheel in Leal's hands. Likely it means HIT THE GREEN BUTTON!

"Green button, got it," Leal says as the wheel jerks, nearly pulling her off her feet--and then she gapes at Gemwir as he leaps off the deck. That...makes about as much sense as anything else that's going on at the moment, and when she gets the word, she hits the green button as ordered, her brain pretty much on autopilot at this point.

Lines of power seem to light up the ship. Leal slams down the button and there is a burst of power, projecting them up and out of the cave and into the sky, faster than any dragon, regardless of its power, could hope to fly!

"Destination, Captain?" the interface, G.A.R.I., inquires.

The word comes unbidden to her--nothing else makes sense at the moment, and they all know where their ultimate destination sense not heading that way right now. "Waterdeep."

And the land, and the danger fall away behind them. And their thoughts now, homeward.
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:32 pm

Epilogue: Aboard the Swallow's Tear

During the return trip home, you come to discover two things: 1st, that the Swallow's Tear is, in fact, an intelligent, self-aware creation of Elder Magic. G.A.R.I., or "Gary" as Gemwir called it, is, in fact, the ship's mechanical, flying monkey interface. 2nd, you also discover that the ship had been discovered in desert near that very ruin, hardly functional, and had been an elite part of the Windjammer's reconnaissance envoy. The ship has and is still currently seeking parts to repair itself so that it may return to its fleet (which it lost communication with centuries ago, if not millennia. It stoutly believes, however, that the Galactic Alliance, whatever that was, is still alive and quite well and is eager to receive the Tear's report. Roxie and Leal can guess in wonder at its age, considering it was around the fall of Netheril that the Windjammer came to collide with the floating city of Asram. Likewise, the impression you get is that the ship was not originally created as a sentient thing, rather, that this occurred through some sort of accidental happenstance. Considering its likely involvement in the greatest magical catastrophe known to have occured on the face of Toril, it is not entirely surprising.

The ship is entirely accomodating for the 4 of you. It could perhaps fit at least 2 more. All of you find your places assisting in various tasks as you return to Waterdeep. It will be up to you to decide which roles you would fill. One thing is certain: Gemwir was left behind. The Tear knows you are not up to the task to rescue him, yet, if he even remains alive, and so has turned its thoughts to you to help recover parts and restore the ship so that it might enter something it calls the Phlogiston and navigate it safely so that it might return to its fleet. It asks you if you will help it in this task, and if not, it will adhere to the wishes of its previous Captain and return you to Waterdeep. Even if so, Gary agrees to obey the new Captain's orders, as long as generally, they lead it toward its ultimate end goal: Restoration.

If you accept the ship's mission, Gary will describe in detail a catalogue of items needed for the ship to be properly repaired and readied for travel outside of Aebir-Toril's Crystal Sphere and into Realmspace, as it is called. Gary welcomes you to use the ship and any equipment you find as reward for assisting it in finding the first of the 3 elicum it needs to power its main drive (which led to its subsequent increase in speeed, and your ultimate ability to escape the maw of the Gondalaath). In your perusal of the ship, you find (some after a bit of magic/study), several items of interest.

With your return to the Waterdeep, you may decide that it's best if your ship approached the city in a more conventional fashion: by water. Gary assures you the ship is seaworthy, and after a mad scramble to keep the ship from sinking once you made a successful water landing, you do find the craft manageable at sea. You arrive in Waterdeep nearly 2 months after having left it. Some things have changed, some have remained the same. In the back of your mind, you all remember your reasons for fleeing the city in the first place as you step back on the shores of the Dock Ward...

(( Fin, for now... ))
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