Session Date: October 10, 2014
Game Date: Pharast 15, 4713 AR
Following the second great victory outside the walls of Midgard, a celebration was held in honor of the Arcadian soldiers who’d attained such a magnificent victory. General Malgos and Primarchs Ralga, Aspen and Amaya received commendations even as the Prayers accompanying the Siekounor as well as aligned Callistrian priestesses moved about healing those who were wounded in the battle. The elves of Hymbria and the Mivon mercenaries are given special attention. Food and drink are plentiful, and bards sing hastily crafted masterpieces developed on the spot by Saalus. Astoroth and Saalus depart to Callisto, the bard beginning to delve into the mysteries of Zudigger’s Picnic, the book recovered by T:BAS as chaos descended over Pitax’s streets. The Autarch began fashioning a magical being in the image of the crag linnorn the group had destroyed for Old Tusk, the awakened mammoth.
Plans are set into motion. As the armies begin to disperse, only a few of which remain in Midgard, Knallheart reconvenes in Equestria. Turning things over to Team Overkill with some hastily-explained instructions, the group stands around Saalus and disappears into the Shadowlands.
The evil-looking ruins of the Plane of Shadow are superimposed over what the group knows as the real world, a twisted nether-realm just beyond their vision. Swiftly, the bard’s magic propels them through the darkness, and as they hurtle through what would be Midgard on the prime material plane they see a great shadowy dragon, looking around as if it could somehow sense their presence. It is estimated to be 70-80 feet long, immense.
Something to think about.
The plan set, as always with plenty of allowance for improvisation, Knallhart proceeded to perpetrate the most brutal and efficient coordinated tactical strike one sovereign nation has ever dealt another. At least, since Choral showed up with his red dragons, way back when.
The Shadowlands are not perfectly aligned with their material counterparts; Knallheart emerged from the nether a few hundred feet from Irovetti’s stronghold, the Palace of a Thousand Doors. Suddenly appearing inside a well-appointed house, the group saw a woman with her two children, standing up with a terrified look and opening her mouth to scream-
Astoroth said something soothing, and the look of panic was replaced by deep and sincere affection. She was convinced to take her frightened children with her to work on doing the dishes, or laundry, or some other triviality Knallhart has long since stopped having to worry about themselves. Being the ruling class of a kingdom has many advantages over common adventuring.
With the palace visible through the windows, Knallhart readies. A coruscating series of ripples in the fabric of reality is visible to Astoroth’s arcane sight, a multitude of protective and offensive spell effects and enchantments falling into place. In the corner, the hulking form of the bone devil crouches, invisible and waiting.
Tensely, the group waits for the moment of dislocation, where you’re both here and there and you need to attack, immediately. But nothing happens. It’s blocked, by the very thing Ralga was investigation to use as protection from Nyrissa, forbiddence.
Determined, and unafraid of even massive damage in the pursuit of their own brand of justice, Knallhart took off through the streets, heading towards the palace under various invisibility effects. The two trolls stationed outside of the servants’ entrance fell to a wave of fists and bladed talons and magic. Some folks on the streets, were going about their business as usual (martial law being a thing of the night), and looked at the suddenly-visible members of the group. While they re-established invisibility, the bone devil was commanded to generate some quick illusions, showing armored trolls where we had briefly appeared. When the figments began heading in their direction, the streets quickly emptied of all sentient life.
Syzygy was poised to tear the door down, but Ralga was now close enough to see the forbiddence spell’s aura. Rolling up her sleeves, she activated her karmic bead and lashed out with the magic of her ancestors. Perhaps it was some lingering remnant of her star elf ancestry and that mysterious race’s connection with planes and gates, but Astoroth saw the immense wall of protection shatter into a billion sparkles that were swallowed into the astral plane.
Even invisible, Knallhart shared a significant glance. With Astoroth’s quick direction, the group dimension doored into the Palace of a Thousand Doors, their original plan suddenly fitting back into place perfectly.
King Irovetti sat staring at his untouched plate, insides twisted in an unfamiliar sensation he hadn’t felt in years. He idly watched the crone at his left pick away at her food, foul teeth stained with the decay of age somehow more disturbing than her spotted, withered flesh. The man across from him at nothing, drank nothing. In fact, wasn’t much of a man. That he’d shown up now, just as this troublesome, meddlesome group threatened to show up at his doorstep had been the kind of perfect serendipity Irovetti’s life had seemed to be dominated by. An errant thought considered this once again, the fact that he was somehow chosen. Destined to be great.
His other thoughts were dominated by the news. Or rather, the lack of it. What had happened to the army? The spies had no urgent missive detailing the fall of Drelevtown, what these fools had decided to arrogantly rename as Midgard. Looking at the third figure at the table, this one to his right, Irovetti felt some solace. Surely, the Poisoner’s guild held the solution to his problems-
What was that? Out of the corner of his eye, Irovetti saw a sudden motion. Leaning around one of the half-dozen trolls who stood watch over him every waking moment, he saw something that made his bowels turn to water.
Two clusters had suddenly materialized, bristling with magic and righteous fury. Immediately, his eyes were drawn to the strange, monstrous creature that stood, flexing talons nearly as long as a man, it’s hideous, insectile face seeming to home in on him and him alone.
The brief second of shock was over, but the cursed interlopers were already rushing forward. His trolls, though slow to respond, were numerous, and twenty of his top bodyguards were placed throughout the room. He had the Gynoran witch-leader, a master assassin, and a vampire monk on his side. Reaching into his bag for his scroll of Time Stop, Irovetti began to stand. The spell-turning ring could wait a few seconds. “Kala you fool, you promised we were safe!” was all he had time to get out before the chamber that was literally the seat of his power was transformed into a horrible place of nightmare.
Black tendrils engulfed him, pulling him down into a vortex of silence and madness. The vampire monk disappearing in a spray of blood and mist, trolls were being scythed down, hacked apart, mangled pieces quivering impotently on the floor, ignored by the grim-faced squad of assassins who’d nearly been his undoing.
Irovetti let out a defiant chuckle, readying himself. Somehow, they’d broken through his protection. But it didn’t matter. If they thought things were going to be this easy, he’d show them the error of underestimating him. He reveled in the pain—it meant that his contingent magic was ready to teleport him away-
“Nooo!” he cried, or would have cried if not trapped within a zone of silence. He felt his protections fail, cascading fizzles removing his last, and really only, chance left at survival. The emerald-green ray that shot out of nowhere illuminated him in a nimbus that trapped him from any other extradimensional travel. Held down by the black tentacles of shadow, he noted with outrage and panic that those very tentacles still held random body parts of the old crone, the assassin and a troll.
It would be nice to believe that, as he watched the monstrous form of Syzygy approach, talons dripping with trollish ichor and mouth-tentacles writhing madly, Irovetti would have been granted the solace of acceptance. A momentary sense of fatalism that would have brought about the kind of near-death epiphany each of us secretly hopes for. An instant to reflect on the course of his life, see how the past had influenced the present, a quick glimpse of the meta-picture that would provide him with a measure of comfort as he transitioned from one phase of existence to the next.
Unfortunately, that seems unlikely.
“Well. That went… perfectly.” Astoroth looked surprised. The loot was already being stuffed into various extradimensional spaces, along with a few important corpses.
A large cloud of mist entered the room, solidifying into the thirty foot long undead dragon. Krysanothax informed them of the route traveled by the vampire-turned-mist. Setting off, the group followed the directions and soon found the creature’s secret lair. Krysanothax pondered whether it could drain the monk vampire to death, but ultimately Ilya staked it, then we beheaded it, and its remnants were washed with a liberal dose of holy water before being burned to a fine ash.
Further exploration led to an understanding of just how confusion this palace’s layout was. After several hours, the group found another secret entrance, this one leading into the depths below. The tunnel led to a room, which Ralga scouted through, becoming incorporeal. Upon returning, she became very passionate about getting inside the room. Someone figured out she was charmed and dispelled the effect, but not before the door had been opened and the curtain beyond pulled back.
It revealed a hauntingly beautiful fey creature, which the group recognized as Nyrissa. Some were influenced by her charming gaze, but she was quickly brought down after a dispel and a charge or two. Her true form revealed her to be one of the snake-bodied naga.
Deeper within, resting inside another pool of water, the group recovered Briar, the sword that may spell Nyrissa’s doom.