FOUND it… jeezus… diggin thru 20 years of gamefiles takes 4EVER
Krail, guardsman for the east gate in the city of V’ral yawned mightily as he woke from his nightly nap. Keeping watch over a gate wasn’t very exciting at night, especially when the town Obelisk would give a warning chime if anything dangerous came within 5 miles of the city. Manning the gate was akin to the unwelcome job of door greeter in one of the many bathhouses which now festooned V’ral since the Great Resurrect.
Krail rubbed his eyes and peered blearily into the darkness, trying to locate the odd noise. “Frigging Moondark…can’t see my own nose out here” grumped the guardsman. Krail blanched as he remembered the last unwanted visitor, one Wolfgang Shadowjack - a prison bitch of “The Forsaken”. Wolfgang showed up on the perimeter of the Obelisk Control Zone infected with crystalline Kyuss worms, apparently to attack the Obelisk. Krail knew that the dayguard had personally wet himself when he saw the doppleganger approach, wriggling from within, and that many more in the city had done the same when the Obelisk screamed and vanished from the town square.
Krail reached across to a gemstone set into a niche of the wall and his eyes flared with a reddish glow. Glaring suspiciously into the night, his Truesight showed what could not be seen by normal vision. He quickly surveyed the landscape, looking at and through everything for intruders of an Alchemical nature. Setting his other hand on the alarm pull, he continued to watch the night.
Locating the direction of the sound, the guardsman catches a hint of movement over a hill. Warily, he stared at the spot until a slender figure crested the hill and came walking towards the gate, a bucket in one hand making the disagreeable noise. A few moments later, a lumbering halfgiant followed with something humanoid slung over one shoulder. Slowly, one by one, the remainder of the odd group came into sight of the gate. Krail relaxed as he recognized the motley figures of the Fallen Legion, the town’s heroes. Taking his hand from the alarm, the guardsman shouted back at his fellows on the inside of the city “Activate city approach lights and summon the city clerics, the Fallen Legion has returned - and they don’t look to be in very good shape!”
Slowly the Legion makes its way onto the dusty, dark road into V’ral. As they approach closer to the city, a contingent of city guards rush out to meet them and help drag their fallen comrades the rest of the way into the city. Several yawning holy men come out of a nearby barracks and anxiously await the approach of the Legionnaires. Tired, wounded and hungry, with a few
of their fallen comrades on their backs (or in buckets), the heroes make it past the city gate, passing V’ral wizard and Obelisk scans alike.
As the ‘Fallen Legion’ makes it past the eastern gate, Ethos spins around to address the party…“Legion, I need you to rest, heal, eat, drink, and take care of whatever personal matters each of you may have. I must take my leave of V’ral for the moment, and I will return.” With that Ethos, Son of Daren makes his way toward the center of the city with his bucket squeaking back and forth, heading straight toward the obelisk.
Slowly, Ethos approaches the obelisk. Getting within arms reach of the obelisk, he stops and closes his eyes, as if mentally preparing something in his mind. After about thirty seconds pass, Ethos opens his eyes, and reaches his arm out to the obelisk. “Great Obelisk of V’ral, transport me and my bucket here to Argopolis please.” With a pulse of the weave, Ethos is gone in a flash. The air around the enormous crystalline entity seems to crackle, and a bass voice echoes from within “Oops”.
In a flash, an explosion of sand shoots into the air. Ethos opens his eyes face first into the sand dune he was just blasted into. Hacking and spitting out sand, the Son of Daren’s eyeballs and indeed entire eyesockets fall out of his head along with his tongue, mouth and nose. The doppler metamorphs into a large serpentine form and slithers about, trying to get his bearings. As he locates the surface, his head begins to focus clearer and he erupts from the sand dune. Regaining his natural form, he peers about frowning and realizes he’s about 70 miles from Argopolis. As he turns to the mountain ring that surrounds the center of Anauroch, he notes with alarm that the occupied mountains seem to be bristling. Dozens of titanic Dwarven Mountain Ballistae are pointed towards Argopolis, as if expecting an attack. “What in the nine hells is going on ?”
A small, tinny voice echoes through his head.
"Daerma Obelisk here, sorry about the transport Ethos. Apparently some Argopolis shields went up about the same time you tried to transport, causing a hiccup which dumped you out here. I’ve been looking for you for days now. You seem to have been thrown forward in time by several months."
Ethos reaches his mind out to the consciousness speaking to him “Well can you move me to the city now, or whats happening ?”
“Sorry, Son of Daren…I currently lack the power of cross-time transport. It looks like your stuck there. You’re going to have to get to Argopolis on your own.” The voice of the Daerma Obelisk starts to fade “Something nasty is attacking the city. I would approach with extreme caution…” The tinny voice slowly fades into silence.
Ethos frowns as he loses the communication link and walks over to where Erok’s head lies staring at him and
drops it back into his bucket. “No problem. Extreme caution is something I’m good at.”
Ethos casts a glance in the direction of Argopolis, and can already smell the familiar scent of 20th level magics being spent, and the smoke of burning gemstones. Scratching his head, he looks down at the bucket. "Well Erok, lets go join the party."
Ethos looks around, having lived here all his life, and realizes he’s much too close to the circle of mountains, housing the Anauroch dwarven enclave. Chances are he could probably negotiate a griffon ride back to the city, except the dwarves didn’t look to be in a talkative mood. Remembering the old dwarven proverb “Shoot first, talk later”, he decided that it would be in his best interest to find a different route. Taking stock of himself, Ethos noted that all his magic was spent and he didn’t have a single spell or psionic power left up his sleeve. Ethos mumbled to himself, looking down into the bucket “Well Erok at least we made it to inside the circle of mountains.” As he spun about to take a good look at every bit of a 70 mile walk to Argopolis, Ethos sighed and slowly began to start his walk.
After a mile, he stops walking and remembers something. Once, a long time ago, a Mul had come to Ethos’s rescue after Ethos went off into the desert to kill his first monster. Being a little over ambitious and power hungry, he ended up biting off more than he could chew, and this pack of desert minotaurs was going to eat him for lunch. That was when a pack of athasians lead by a mul named Taric had come to his rescue. Taric had eventually made it to the top of his game, leading one of the most elite fighting squads in Argopolis. Right now, however, Ethos was more concerned today with the trick Taric had showed him.
Slowly ethos changed into his species “true” form, showing his frail frame in the hot sun. He reached down and began chanting in a language only a select few could speak while tracing the outline of a tattoo that covered the entirety of his small chest. Slowly the tattoo on Ethos’s chest started pulsating with the beat of his heart, and magic trails began following his finger as he traced the runes tattoo’d upon his chest. Ethos’ heart started racing in his chest and his legs felt weak, barely able to hold up his own weight. Suddenly a explosion of sand blasted him back 50 feet, sending Ethos and his bucket flying. Then darkness as Ethos slipped into unconsciousness.
Eventually, light slipped in underneath the curtain of darkness as Ethos cautiously opened his eyes. As he panics and starts to look for his bucket, he realizes that Taric’s trick did work. There stands a pack of battle hardened desert Athasian Thri-kreen, their triangular heads swiveling back and forth as they peer down at the doppleganger with curious insectile eyes. Ethos was grateful for the fact that he was actually able to speak their language, that most could not. He summoned the language to the forefront of his mind, and began making a series of inaudible bug noises to communicate with the party of kreen.
“Ethos greets you, war-clutch.”
“Tok’hjar greets you, not-man” replied the largest, most elaborately painted of the kreen. "Not-man call, Tok’hjar look why"
Ethos smiled as his innate ESP allowed him to pick up the broadcast of the kreen’s meaning. "I call for aid. Help please ?"
Several of the other kreen chittered and clacked. “He want us hunt ?” “We hunt, we eat.” "Him not tasty elf"
The Alpha-kreen rubbed his back legs together, and the clattering of the other kreen died. “Help why ? Kreen not fight spiked big-man. Kreen not fight tasty white elf. Help why ?”
“Need help, get to city. Sire call, he blue not-man.” Ethos replied fluently.
More clacking from the kreen erupted. Tok’hjar turned his abdomen towards Ethos, then spun back around to face him. “You smell like blue not-man. Blue not-man friend of Tok’hjar, give clutch help. Tok’hjar help you.”
Ethos nods to the Alpha-Kreen, then looks around and finds his bucket with Erok’s head in it. Looking down at the head, Ethos says “Well Erok I know the city is under attack I just don’t know how bad it is.” Ethos looks up, and realizes he’s talking to a head in a bucket, with the pack of kreen looking oddly at one another. Tok’hjar peered into the bucket. “Him dead. No talk now.” Ethos stifled a laugh as he climbed aboard the Alpha-kreen. “Yeah, Tok’hjar. I know him dead. Him clutch-brother.” The large kreen swiveled his triangular head around 180 degrees to look at Ethos astride him. “Clutch-brother. No eat.” And with nary another word, the pack of thri-kreen sped off towards the distant desert city of Argopolis.
After a couple of hours the pack makes its leap over the last sand dune, and the city of Argopolis comes into clear view. Smoke rolls from the city, looking much more worse for the wear than when Ethos left it. “Well it won’t be too long now Erok, we’re maybe a half-an-hour away.” Ethos glares at the pack of kreen “Yeah yeah I know the head is in a bucket and its dead. Just leave it be.”
About 40 minutes pass, and Ethos finds himself at the outskirts of Argopolis. Leaping off the kreen with his bucket, Ethos looks at Tok’hjar and hands him an amulet. The amulet is covered with a strange assortment of runes which spark varying colors of enchantment. Leaning in mentally, the son of Daren speaks to the thri-kreen’s mind…“This amulet is given only to a select few…If you are ever in need of help, kreen, or in trouble…The city lords of Argopolis will look fondly upon you, and respectfully note that you have done something for one of their own. I will do what I can to one day return the favor to you.
Farewell, war-clutch of Tok’hjar. And good hunting !” Ethos gives the alpha-kreen a mental nod, and the kreen bound their way back into the heart of the desert.
Most of the outer rim of the city fortunately seems to be intact. Ethos makes his way across to a passive magical barrier with a light glowing line that seems to separate city from desert. As Ethos passes through the barrier, the sand on his body is whisked away, back into the desert of Anauroch. Mumbling to himself, Ethos keeps walking. “Lets see, now where am I” as he makes his way down a dark stone cobbled street. The doppleganger walks past one of the city warehouses, and glances up at the building. “Something doesn’t quite look right about that, the building doesn’t look so well.” Rounding the corner of the building Ethos sees that a big portion of the back half of this stone monolith of a warehouse is smashed flat. Some form of spiked giant lay dead in the street as dwarves of every manner stomped, hacked and cut at the dead corpse. Dozens of dead ogres lay over bodies of dead dwarves and muls. He knew, from the damage laid down to the warehouse, and the architecture of the facility, it must be one of Marchella’s personal warehouses. This looked like one that she used to service the dwarven enclave that surrounds the city. Ethos thought to himself "This one battle giant couldn’t of done this, " as he looked around at the dead and wondered at the number of dwarves that it must of taken to bring it down. “What kind of giant is that?” Ethos queried nobody in particular as he made his way past the stacked cadavers.
Ethos looks down at the bucket, “You know, Erok, maybe we should make our way to the western city barracks. It might be safer there.” Suddenly, the city started to shake, and a titanic nova wave of raw energy began crushing its way through the city. Ethos tries valiantly to keep standing as the city shakes, but eventually flattens himself into a puddle as another warehouse comes crashing down atop him. From underneath the wall Ethos hears a Bellow of Power echo throughout the city, followed by the unmistakable screech of a Bansheewyrm. The son of Daren shuddered uncontrollably as the draconic banshee’s cry rolled through the city, killing whatever it found. Moments passed before he reformed ears, then realized he’d dropped Erok’s bucket when he was hit in the face by a building. Cursing, he shifted to serpentine form and slithered out of the destroyed warehouse. Ethos, grumbling about dead ogre heads being too nosy, creeps down the street where Erok’s head rolled. Rounding the corner, he came into view of a completely ravaged barracks, with most of its outer walls breached. Three of those humongous battle giants lay dead in the streets, with hundreds of dead half-giants, muls, and dwarves littering the streets. The son of Daren’s eyes widened when he realized that the enchantments on the biggest barracks in the city were completely removed. The building structure of magically reinforced dwarven construction was now a mere pile of rubble, with just a small spire of it still standing.
As more explosions detonate in the center of the city, Ethos looks around and finds Erok’s head. “You know, for a dead ogre you don’t stay still very much.” He continues sneaking down the street, mumbling to the head. “Erok, I know a short cut through the temple district. Assuming its still there.” Walking past the training facility near the barracks, Ethos makes his way by the jewelers corner, where all the jewelry shops are completely flat. As he passes, Ethos whispers, “I can’t believe it,
Arg is really going to be pissed.” Completely taken aback by the devastation, Ethos falls again from the rumbling of the city.
This time Ethos bounces back up, but he seems to have lost Erok’s head again. "DAMMIT !!! How can one, VERY dead ogre head CONSISTENTLY keep rolling away ?? If you drop a kobold’s head, it goes plop and stays there. Ethos reaches up and pulls his own head from his shoulders, and drops it on the ground with a thud. The head opens its mouth and screams “And a dopplegangers head just sits quietly and DOSENT MOVE. WHY do OGRES have to be so DAMN DIFFICULT !!” After spending the better part of 20 minutes ducking flying shrapnel and running away from a spiky BattleBeholder, he finally finds Erok’s head.
Slowly maneuvering through the city, Ethos makes his way into the temple district. Here entire temples lay in ruin, and several battle giants lay dead nearby. Almost all the temples lay in ruin, many a mere foundation where a temple once stood. But what seems strikingly odd is the Temple to Istus lays untouched. Masked by the temples arcane glyphs and proud architecture,
its tall, dark starry double doors are closed against the carnage. The tall gem spires climbing high on each of the corners of the building, pulse with a magic Ethos wasn’t familiar with. The doppler shifts his eyes over to that of an eagle and peers at the temple, and lying dead upon front of the temple is Ranvor - Argopolis’ High Cleric of Istus. Continuing to scan around the temple, he notes that all of its guards appear to be dead, having attacked one of the battle giants. Ethos’ eyes widen when he sees a lone standing woman, quietly and patiently standing atop the roof of this great temple as if it were her own, viewing what is happening deeper in the city.
Ethos pondered the likelihood of that actually being the lady Istus, then realized he needed to keep moving and make his way through an ally in the temple district that will dump him out near the corner of the school of magic. Quickly, the doppleganger ran excitedly down the narrow alley to see how his old school, where he learned magic, was fairing the siege. As he peeked out of the alley, he felt his heart collapse as the once beautiful crystalline tower, with all its runes and sigils, the glow of its potent enchantments, and its strengthened presence of the magical weave, all seemed to have left here now…The once great College of Magic was nothing more than a shattered glass house. A dozen small battle titans lie dead nearby, mute witnesses to the fury of the archmages unleashed. No two corpses seemed to have met their end the same way. As he picks his way through the ruins of the college of magic, Ethos stops in horror at the sight of a familiar face. Striding shakily over to the pile of dead battle titans, he leans down and peers close at a severed head lying amidst the carnage. “I guess what they always said is true. Like father, like son.” Ethos muscles strained as he tried to picked up the boulder-sized head of Erok’s father, Arg. Giving up with an exhausted wheeze, Ethos frowned at the massive mug. "You know, you really need to cut back on the candy bars, Ogre."
Pulling out his own portable mansion, Ethos rolls the massive head of the PowerOgre into it. “Right, it’s payback time.”
Eyes glittering angrily, the son of Daren surveys the scene around him. “I’ll fix your wagon, whomever you are.” Growling, Ethos stomps over to the smashed college and shifts to protoplasm. Encountering bits of several of his favorite teachers, the doppler grows ever more angry until he reaches the crushed remains of the spellcasting chambers. Spooging his way to a somewhat collapsed table, the form oozes back to the normal form of Ethos. Taking Erok’s head from his bucket, the doppler shifts his head into that of a Illithid and sinks the tentacles into the dome of his brothers skull. “Leasssst now i’m not giving you a headache, eh Erok ?” As the two minds synchronize, Ethos’ eyes roll up into his head and he becomes one with his twin. Arcane trickles of energy wriggle up the tentacles to the son of Daren. Opening up his portable mansion, four more tentacles sprout from a second head which grows from Ethos’ hand, and sink into the skull of Erok’s father. Swirling eddies of magic start to twirl and twist through the destroyed chamber as Ethos begins chanting a spell even he didn’t understand.
From the outside of the school of magic, a lone BattleGiant studies the ruin, a look of satisfaction on his face. He had been tracking the strange outsider with a bucket for the last hour, trying to see if the odd being knew where a cache of treasure was hidden. He watched the skinny being shift into protoplasm and wriggle his way into the smashed school of magic where a dozen of his brethren died. Eyes narrowing, he approached the ruin and prepared to stomp the shapeshifter when it came back out carrying treasure. As the giant readied his massive sword, an ill wind blew through the ruined site. Straining his ears, he could barely make out an arcane whisper, felt goosebumps as something within the dead school awoke.
A ghastly scene lit the interior of the smashed college. A two-headed mind flayer feasted on the dead brains of a small ogre and a massive ogre, chanting all the while. The mouths of the two heads he grasped echoed his words as he spoke the ancient phrases. “Gadurm, Daragoth, Tulus, Frizzenroth. Demodand, Saragen, Aeroden, Janaten. Calamos, Heracite, Shimytan, Pyracide. Rise forth, in this place of carnage, the twelve lost lords of Netheril, keepers of the Lore. Aggravangion, Tetrahandion, Supremagus, more. Awaken the dead, resurrect the rage, return the magic, come back to life. By Paramus, by Daravius, by Karsus, by Kreeth, let the Fallomancers, the Biomancers, the Terramancers return. The Shadowcasters, the Metalmancers, the Posicasters, Negamancers as well, come back, ancient ones…from the fiery pits of Hell. By Damius, by Jaleran, by Tangras, by Shadtar, I summon you. Let the FIRST phase beeeeegiiiin !!”
As the words of the oddest being to walk the land echoed throughout the smashed city of ogres, a pause in the fighting occurred, broken only by the soul-wrenching scream of a lone battlegiant standing by the ruined college of magic.
In the center of Argopolis, the Great Obelisk pulsed once, as a titanic amount of magic was pulled from its depths through the ley line that ran away from it, through the blasted college of magic. As the Obelisk bellowed in pain, the black-winged figure in the sky finished crushing a small, blue figure and popped it into his mouth. The dark being spun around and looked at the two remaining blue figures floating in the sky above the square. “You’ll have to do better than tha…” he gloated until the Obelisk interrupted him. Spinning in place, he glared at the crystalline entity. “And you, shut the hell up !!” Clapping his hands together, the sky erupted in a thunderclap as sickly green lightning struck the Obelisk. The lightning arc turned black, and the Obelisk screamed again, this time interrupted by the howl of something coming from the school of magic. All figures in the sky turned and shuddered at the sight of a Voidgolem, the first that had been seen since the dawn of time. The bansheewyrm turned at the last moment, and gave a final soulsplitting shriek as the Voidgolem pulled it into its dark embrace. The two remaining tiny blue figures looked nervously at the white, pointy eared figure, who looked nervously right back.
Ethos refocused his eyes and groaned. Damn, that Undead Summoning spell took a lot outta me. I wonder what kind of spectral juggernaut I called up ? Shaking his head, he got to his feet, collected the two ogre heads, and splooged his way out of the ruined college of magic.
Slowly making his way across the field of the dead, he quickly surveyed the area for a nice area to take cover. Taking
note of his surroundings, he found himself near the once great School of the Way. Created of a stone so compact
that a disintegrate caused no more damage than a hammer does to a mountain, the completely psion-crafted school now stood half destroyed. It’s psion masters still holding a badly wounded small battle titan at bay, were quickly losing ground. Ethos decided to change directions, and work his way north and out of harms way of that battle. Glaring down at the bucket, the doppler grumped “You shut up…I know you would have attacked it, and then I would have to drag your sorry ass back here again. I’m not you, which is why I don’t have a problem like having no body. Unlike TWO certain ogres I could mention.”
After a couple of minutes goes by, Ethos makes it to another rock strewn alley heading north. Cautiously, Ethos peeks out from the alley gazing distantly across the quad upon the Great Library. This amazing structure has not faltered, though there are signs of great cracks along its walls and a few holes blasted into the front. However, the great pillars that hold its ceiling up and the white marble stairs leading up to the gargantuan admantium doors are still holding steadfast. The son of Daren mumbles to himself “Dad’s gone to be glad the library held,” then jumps into the shadows and makes his way to the next alley. Silently padding on feline feet along the wall, he shifts back west, peering out to the end of the alley and finally making it to the center of the city.
Ethos’s blinks several times, as if doubting his eyes at the sight of the once Great Obelisk that stands at the core of Argopolis. A spire of gemstone that reached to the highest point in Argopolis, with a facet for each spell the Obelisk knew, when the light hit, it was like a thousand prismatic rainbows that would shoot through the city in a myriad of colors. Now, the massive crystalline entity was in a pulsing black goo of some kind and impaled on the crystalline Obelisk was a gigantic BattleTitan Master. The crystalline facets were darkening and turning an evil shade of purple. As the goo seemed to infect the entity, it screamed horribly again. "Dad once said the Obelisk is even somewhat divine, but what could make something that could dampen its powers ? The black layer of goo, resembled a kind of black jelly or pudding, but this was no ordinary pudding. Ethos has seen those before; this was something far nastier. What ever it was it soon seemed insignificant, because something overhead just blocked out the sun. As Ethos looks up, he finally sees his two copies of his father, Daren and one whitish Zap. Across the center of Argopolis, its massive wingspan blocking out the rays of the sun, flies something out of his father’s nightmares. "Oh holy Clockmaker on high, what numbnuts battlized an Anti-Solar ?"
The enormous form of the Dark BattleSolar wrestled with the insubstantial form of the Voidgolem, as the other 3 figures huddled in a conference. And, as he took in the magnitude of the battle before him, Ethos unconsciously shifted form into a (mostly) human barbarian and let out a womanly scream.
Daren and Zap looked down and noted the arrival of the Powermaster’s youngest son. Instantly his father’s voice filled his head. “Ethos, son get back. We’re about to try something unwise.” Nodding numbly to his dad, Ethos shifted form and flew up, high in the sky above the battle in eagle form. He watched as the two forms of his father clasped arms with the magnesti below, then before his very eyes he saw the two Powermasters change into pulsating blue-white spellform. Zap absorbed the two powermasters and he could hear and feel his father’s scream as the magic was passed into and through the magnesti’s braincell. Zap’s forehead pulsed alarmingly once, twice, then a third time as he used the very essence of his friend to craft magics never before imagined. A whitish flash filled the sky, blinding anyone looking in the vicinity of Anauroch as Zap unleashed infinity magic at the warring pair. Ethos regrew eyeballs again and again, until he could see an enormous figure 8 fly across the sky and slam into the two wrestlers. Both forms opened their mouths to bellow or scream, but not a thing was heard as the infinity class magic hurtled away, out of the atmosphere and out of sight.
Zap slowly sinks to the ground before the Obelisk, looking tired. Making a few hand gestures, he causes another Daren to appear. The Powermaster looks at Zap with wide eyes. “Lordy, lord Zap old boy…that was some rush I got before the SDDS burned away.” The wan face of the magnesti smiles at Daren “Well, that was my trump card that I’d been saving for this Obelisk whenever he started giving me attitude. Now I’ve got to find me another one. But first, we need to fix the Ogre’s gemtoy so he won’t be all cranky when he gets revived.” The pair talk back and forth, and all the while the obelisk is beginning to pulse a deeper shade of purple, and the dark goo is getting darker and more evil looking, slowly making the obelisk look worse and worse. Ethos lands beside the two old friends and clears his throat. “Ahem, I’d just like to mention that your obelisk is starting to get a nasty look in its eye as it’s watching the two of you talk. I’d probably do something fast.” And with that, the son of Daren ran away. FAST.
Sharing a snicker, and a “like father, like son” look, the two finally agree on what to do. Daren nods, and vanishes for what seems almost a second, and then pops back in. In one hand Daren wields a staff, which he hands over to Zap. Zap’s brow furrows and he begins talking to the staff. Not making sense of what the magnesti is saying, Ethos with eaglesight just continues to watch. Finally with a thunderclap, the staff awakens. With a nimbus of silverfire around the staff, Zap begins chanting and a solid stream of intensely bright silverfire shoots at the heart of the evil black Obelisk. After bathing the surface of the crystal with the silverfire, he starts to burns clear the mana-eating evil black goo. Slowly the obelisk begins to break free of its imprisonment, as Zap continues to burn away this foul semidivine ooze.
After a bit, Ethos blinks and notices Zap and Daren split up. Ethos mumbles to himself “I guess they must be splitting up to check on the rest of the city.” Shrugging his shoulders, he gives a hand and burns a couple of hours using a city geode and healing the wounded. Eventually getting back to his mission, he approaching the Obelisk. "Hey Obelisk! Is everything ok ? Are you still alive?"
With a dark, tired voice, it speaks "I am fine…though I’ve been better. Things are much clearer now"
The son of Daren quirks an eyebrow at the crystal. “Uh ok, could you bring Erok and Arg back please? Oh and I need a ride back to V’ral too…” Ethos, not watching where he’s putting the bucket, sets it down over a patch of scorched black goo. An arc of power surges from the face of the obelisk and strikes the bucket, which explodes as Erok reforms. A different arc shoots into the massive head of Erok’s father, which Ethos wheeled out of his mansion a moment before. The arc rebuilding Erok sparks and changes color, from a healthy blue to a dark purple. Ethos, watching the whole thing, sends out a warning ping to his father who instantly arrives on the scene with a soft pop. Daren frowns at the arc of energy and casts a spell of his own, which strikes the arc and changes its color back to the normal blue. Erok awakens, looking and feeling different. Arg also clambers to his massive feet and peers around at his city. “Sum’bitch…we’re gonna need a whole lotta brooms. Yup yup yup.” The powermaster and his son both burst into laughter at the simple comment of the Ogre, who turns and looks at them with innocent, curious eyes. "What ??? We will …Look at 'dis mess !! " which only causes the pair to collapse with laughter.
Arg sticks out his bottom lip and shakes his head. “Dopplegangers…weird folk, never understand 'em.” As father and son laugh themselves into hysterics, Arg looks over at his boy. "You changed your hair ?? Why ??"
Erok pulled out a mirror and studied himself in it. His hair color had changed to black and now hung straight from his head. His eyes were still sparkly green like his dad’s, but he felt weird. “Dunno pops, I didn’t do it. Tell ya one thing tho. I feel like doin somethin naughty. Don’t know why.” As the dopplers regained their feet, the 13 foot ogre plodded over to his boy and took a mighty sniff, and Erok’s helmet (the only part of his armor which survived) flew up the Ogre’s nose. The two dopplegangers resumed laughing as Arg pulled the helmet out of his massive schnoz. “You smell funny too, Erok. Not BAAADDDD, just different.” Shrugging his massive shoulders, Arg led his boy and the two dopplers off to clean up the city.
Later, Ethos and Erok return to V’ral on the wings of a teleport spell. “No oopses 'dis time, hey ?” says Ethos as they disappear. With a brief surge of energy Ethos, and Erok are standing back in V’ral blinking at one another, feeling different…
[DaermaDM]: we break fromt he timelime now to go back to a week ago when ivan disappeared…
[Ethan]: ((o k))
[DaermaDM]: The crow flies over the plains of the Shaar, a silent witness borne aloft on the currents of hot air which seem to pulse from the very ground below. As it flies overhead, it peers down with hungry curiosity, seeking a morsel of food as it continues on it’s errand. Strewn about below are broken and battered husks of great dwarven war machines, some of which still sputter aflame. All around, the sickly sweet stench of death permeates the air, but the hungry crow sees not a single body, severed limb, or bit of flesh. Cawing angrily, the crow swoops lower, noting vast bloodstains where armies must have died, yet it still fails to spy any carrion. Finely crafted dwarven hammers, axes, swords and armor lie scattered across the field, seeming as if their owners melted away or stripped naked on the field of battle, then vanished. Boots, belts, teeth and eyepatches are evident in bunches, but no trace of edible stock lies rotting in the dusty plains. Far ahead, miles away, a slender black tower juts toward the sky
[DaermaDM]: like an massive spike, trying to pierce the heavens themselves. If only the crow knew how apt the analogy was.
[DaermaDM]: The blasted dwarven machines below got larger and more impressive looking as it neared the dark spire. Within a mile of the imposing edifice, odd looking pillars of stacked skulls peered at all who approached. Dodging a mosquito the size of a parrot, the crow circled one column of skulls, peering hungrily inside eyesockets. As it darted close to a giant’s skull that faced the black tower, the mandibles of the bony face snapped hungrily at the bird, who flapped away startled, crying mournfully.
[DaermaDM]: As it approached the black spire, the bird could see the tower itself had no obvious windows, nor any noticable ledges to perch upon. A great, twenty foot thick wall, easily sixty foot high surrounded the ominous structure. The crow fluttered down to perch on the wall, and studied the tower, which seemed to undulate as if breathing. Anguished screams and unearthly bellows could be heard from within the evil edifice, and the avian doubted the wisdom of its master in sending it here. Abruptly, the crow felt something strange ooze across its feet. It vainly attempted to hop away, and started flapping its wings to escape. The hand of a small child held firmly to the bird, and the voice of a little boy spoke “Familiar, Crow. Backtracing mental link now” as the crow was pulled into the surface of the wall itself. Moments later, not a feather of evidence remained.
[DaermaDM]: Meanwhile, up in the tower itself, a hellish experiment was taking place. A gore-covered figure busily extracted three eyeballs (a blue, a green, and an orange) from the bleeding body of a beholder, which has its outer carapace cut open and stretched out on hooks anchored to the painrack from which it hung. A slender intestine, filled with the marrow of a BattleTroll slowly dripped blood into the catatonic spherical creature. The gore-covered female carefully takes the eyeballs over to a table where she is preparing Varalla’s gift, mumbling something to herself about “slow regenerative rates of eye-tyrants”. She looks up and affixes her gaze on a seemingly normal human male, looking quite out of place in this godforsaken laboratory.
[DaermaDM]: The human tenses visibly and fearfully meets the gaze of the female. “Yes, milady ?” the man’s voice quavers and he attempts to swallow his fear. Curiosity gleams in the maddened eyes of the female as she says “Tell me again, Wolfgang, why I’m making this gift for Varalla.” Wolfgang sighs with relief at not losing any of his vital parts, even though she’s asked him this same question over a dozen times today alone. “Well, milady, many many years ago, long before you delved into the dark arts of Alchemy, you actually adventured with her. Varalla and Sorvani were companions of yours for a brief time. And I just thought, since Varalla is about to ascend to full daughter after all these years, and there’s gonna be a big party, that it would be delightful to pay her a visit for old times sake.”
[DaermaDM]: Ayla glares at the human angrily, who begins to droop as he loses his shape and reverts to his doppleganger form. “I’m making this gift for THAT ??? WHAT is in it for ME, Wolfgang ?” A small trickle of greenish urine trickles out of the leg of the doppleganger as his soul, or what is left of it, realizes it’s in danger. Thinking quickly, he stutters “Um, er, yes…well Ayla, you see it’s like this. Erm, you’ll be attending a party where the world’s first drow powermaster is in attendance, as well as, er, ah, several deities probably as well. Not to mention, em, that you’ve never even seen what sort of creatures live over on that continent, ah, em, and think of the reagents you could acquire !!!”
[DaermaDM]: Ayla’s brow furrows as she begins to ponder the dopplegangers fearful excuses and slowly the anger fades from her eyes. Wolfgang wipes his brow and sneaks quietly away as she rebegins work on Varalla’s gift. “The last piece of the puzzle is how do I get past that blasted Obelisk” she mutters to herself.
[DaermaDM]: ((pause for everyone to catch up))
[Hosenfeffer]: ((ok, I’m good))
[Ivan]: ((done here))
[DaermaDM]: Hours later, elsewhere in the blasted world of the Forgotten Mess…
[DaermaDM]: [Ivan]: “Hey Erok, you told me you had one of Ayla’s journals?” [Erok]: “yeah, i do Ivan…though i am loathe to loan it out to one not of the Legion…” [Ivan]: “I am loyal to you, as a friend, if not a leader.” Erok grins stupidly at Ivan…“Got you…sure, here’s 'da book…i was just messin with ya…a little payback, that’s all…” Ivan chuckles “I see.”
[DaermaDM]: Ayla looks up from disemboweling a blood red gorgatar, a strange beast hybrid of minotaurs and gorgons. “Is that a ringing in my ears or is someone speaking my name ?” Standing up, the bloodsoaked Forsaken walks out the door of her laboratory and into a gruesome hallway, where bead curtains made of teeth and fingerbones sway in the warm breeze which wafts through the living tower. Ropes of intestine are arranged artfully upon the walls, depicting fairly accurate, if wholly disgusting scenes of alchemical triumphs. Pausing before a door fashioned from hundreds of multicolored fingers, all interlocked, Ayla pushes open the twitching portal and strides through. Inside, a vast wall is covered from ceiling to floor with ears of every shape, hue, and size. Furry, scaly, even metallic ears are arranged in some bizarre pattern that she alone understands, around a large draconic pair of lips. “Replay for me, my pretty, what was spoken about me” she tells her Aural Juggernaut.
[DaermaDM]: “Hey Erok, you told me you had one of Ayla’s journals?” speaks the behemoth in perfect imitation of Ivan the Mad. “Hmmm,” says the mistress of the tower as she walks over to a gargantuan head which fills the corner of the room, from floor to ceiling. “Let’s just see who’s reading my diary…” as she speaks, Ayla reaches into the mouth of the oddly shaped head in the corner and pulls the tongue. The single giant eye opens on the undead creature’s forehead and she intones “Reagentball of Monster Seeing, Magical and Look…Someone’s got my diary, show who has the book.”
[DaermaDM]: Mist forms in the undead eye, then suddenly clears away, drawing both itself and the milkiness of death from the orb. Inside the glassy surface, Ivan the Mad eagerly dancing in place as Erok lets him into the Portable Mansion. “Erok, one of Arg’s brats, milady” echoes a sephulcural voice from the doorway. Ayla glances over to see a floating demi-lich skull hover into view with a low whickering buzz noise. “The other idiot is named Ivan, called the Mad by his fellow travelers. He fancies himself an Alchemist, great one.” Ayla looks back into the orb, and mutters “They will both make fine reagents, yes indeed.”
[DaermaDM]: Ivan retreats to the room in Erok’s mansion where he has his lab set up, gleefully clutching the book [Ivan]: “Hmmm… I wonder…” Ivan leaves the mansion, and wanders over to the Obelisk. Arriving at the square, he waves at Vince and lays hands on the Obelisk [Obelisk]: “Yes crazy One what can i do for you?” [Ivan]: “Crazy one?.. Anyways, I’m told you really like magic, and know much of it.” [Obelisk]: “I sense you desire for Alchemy. So yes, Crazy. That is a truth Ivan, I do.” [Ivan]: “Excellent. I was wondering if you could do me a favor.” [Obelisk]: “Ask.” [Ivan]: “Teach me everything you know about magical alchemy, and Greater Alchemy.” [Obelisk]: “The most i know about magical alchemy is simple. and can be summoned up in the school of transmutations. As for Greater Alchemy, I do not understand it very well at all. I know what happened to a few people who followed that path. and they are no longer welcome under my protection except in very extenuating circumstances.” [Ivan]: “So, theres
[DaermaDM]: nothing you can teach me about it? Know you where I might find a teacher?” [Obelisk]: “Seek the one called Ayla. She currently resides on Faerun in the Shaar, near the Great Rift. She is the only master of Alchemy upon this planet that i know of, although the GR most assuredly brought some others back.” [Ivan]: “I’ll do such. Thank you for your aid.” Ivan bows deeply, and sets about making preperations for the trip Ivan then heads back to the Obelisk [Ivan]: “I don’t suppose you could send me there?”
[DaermaDM]: ((pause again))
[Vince]: ((afk for a few, smoke detector’s goin off…))
[Ivan]: ((What an odd coincidence, We get into this and All along thecrooked way comes on. “Young man, hang your head and cry. It’s time to suffer, it’s time to die. She will crush you, she’ll excite you, she’ll destroy you, she’ll ignite you, she’ll take you to a world of darkness and death” Maybe the gods are trying to tell me something…))
[Erok]: (( i’d believe 'em…))
[DaermaDM]: shal i continue?
[Ivan]: ((Yes, please))
[Hosenfeffer]: ((I think vince is gone?))
[DaermaDM]: Ayla looks back across the room at the floating skull. Her eyes clear with a moment of lucidity. “Xan, tell Wolfgang that we will both be in attendance at the party, I’ve found a way past the Obelisk. Oh, and tell Mephistopholes and the Wall that a guest will be coming and I require his soul and his body, though not necessarily together.” The floating skull dips once in the air, as if bowing to her. “Yes my Forsaken queen, at once.” As the skeletal head streaks off, Ayla bellows at it “XAN !!! Tell Wolfgang that I will require sex tonight, and I wish him to don the Spiked Manticore outfit.” The bony head stops mid-hover in the hallway. Grimicing, the skulls color shifts from bone white to sickly green, and it turns and vomits a glob of gooey ectoplasm on the floor. Dizzily, the head whirrs off to find his quarry.
[DaermaDM]: [Obelisk]: “If that is your wish to be irrevocably altered should you survive to enter her Tower. Yes i will send you.” [Ivan]: “Allrighty then.” [Obelisk]: “Very well.” There is a faint pop and Ivan is gone.
[DaermaDM]: Moments later, with the woosh of a redirected teleport, a very disoriented Ivan find himself standing in front of a three-horned BattleTroll BloodWarrior Chieftain. Just as Ivan’s vision focuses on the enormous figure, his blood crystallizes and perforates his brain, heart, and circulatory system. The last words he hears before the world goes dark is “Sucks to be you” in a baritone from the troll.
[DaermaDM]: A while later, how long he’s unsure, Ivan regains consciousness but seems unable to move or form more than rudimentary thoughts. He can feel a suffocating amount of pain in his lower abdomenal area, like something is moving about inside him, but cannot lean his head down to see. Gathering his strength, more of his mental faculties wake up and his eyes start to move again. Ivan sees that he’s missing some of his limbs, and what appears to be his spine is hanging on an ogre magi horn across the room. His chest cavity is open and he’s being suspended in mid-air by his own intestines, which are hooked to the ceiling. Wondering how he is still alive, or even conscious, Ivan sees various tubes running into him, colored green, blue, black and brown. The gore-covered form of Ayla the Forsaken walks across his field of vision, hold what appears to be an odd-looking set of blue lungs. Atop her head is perched an intact mind-flayer head, with it’s tentacled driven deep into her skull. Its hungry eyes
[DaermaDM]: look into Ivan’s, and he hears a voice, both physically and mentally at the same time. “Thank you Ivan, for now I can attend the reagent gathering. However, I will have to take that pesky soul away from you, as it might cause problems while I’m inhabiting your body.” She reaches forward into his chest cavity and affixes the lungs within. Ivan looks worriedly across the room and spies a doppleganger directly across from himself, also strung up by his own intestines, also with chest cavity opened. However, the doppleganger seems to have adapted better to such treatment, as his smiles and waves at Ivan. “Don’t worry old boy. It only hurts until you die. It’s much less painful once you’re dead. Usually.”
[DaermaDM]: Ayla smiles grimly at Ivan, and the voice once more intones in his head and ears “Time to scream…” A torrent of pain rips through his body, causing every cell to feel afire and as Wolfgang’s voice echoes “For life is quite absurd, and death’s the final word…You must always face the curtain with a bow” Ivan’s vision goes dim once more.
[DaermaDM]: Later that evening, Ayla the Forsaken looks down on the finished Ivan, lying on a golden dragon scale slab, minus one soul. “He should be ready” mutters the alchemist as she spins to face Wolfgang, who stands there idly rubbing his ass. “You are ready as well, Wolfgang. You know what to do once past the Obelisk outer defenses, correct ?” The doppleganger bows, then shapeshifts into the form of a beautiful half-elven maiden. “Of course, my Forsaken lover.” Ayla speaks a long stream of alchemical phrases over Ivan’s corpse, then reaches over and pours a black potion over the body. Shortly, the corpse trembles and begins to animate. With a wicked grin and a twinkle in her eyes, she mischeviously slaps the elven maiden on the ass. “Your date to the celebration is ready, Wolfgang. And don’t forget the present for Varalla.”
(DaermaDM whispered to Ivan): that is wolfgang…
(DaermaDM whispered to Ivan): read it again
(Ivan whispered to DaermaDM): Oh okies. That rocked man.
(Ivan whispered to DaermaDM): I was wondering what she did to me for a moment there.
(DaermaDM whispered to Ivan): Ethos type up the orig, and erok fleshed it… i had nothing to do with it.
[Hosenfeffer]: ((vary good story telling cloud, makes me almost won’t to be there))
[Ethan]: ((yes the dopple ganger turned into a female half-elf))
[DaermaDM]: Halg-Giant and psyberdwarf take some bows… that is their story…, hell their characters…
DaermaDM moons Psyberdwarf.
Erok bows…“Thank ye, thank ye…”
[Ivan]: ((That was damn good))
[Hosenfeffer]: ((ok then, HG and dwarf, vary well writin and play out))
[Ethos]: Ethos bows…“This is why we don’t utter her name aloud!!!”
[DaermaDM]: ((back in characters…at the beer tent…shall we??))
[Hosenfeffer]: ((I now know how sick she is, I have some thing to go by))
[DaermaDM]: (((and we are off)))
[DaermaDM]: you all gather around a table with Ethan sitting on a overlarge chair…
[Hosenfeffer]: ((what time is it about?))
Ethan orders a round for the table
Erok waits for Ethan to hand him a beer…“My, MY this is good beer…MUCH better than my own brew…” Erok looks over his shoulder…
[DaermaDM]: late afternoon/early evening.
Events leading up to the current timeline –
Several months before the transferance of V’Ral, Delving Hold had received word that a particular Rolandite was interested in the services of a Runepriest and was requesting his audience in V’Ral. The first message made it to the Rune Priests of Delving Hold, but the messenger had already been slain at the hands of a Drow. For several years now Delving Hold had been under continuous war with the Drow and the Runepriests couldn’t spare anyone as their situation was very dire. Not entirely understanding the importance of the Rolandite request, the Runemasters ignored the repeated attempts to contact them but focused on the current problem at hand the war with the Drow. As time marched on more and more messengers came and continued to make attempts to get their message to Delving Hold but with no luck. Finally, one fateful morning a boom boom boom, comes from one of the minor entrances to Delving Hold, previously thought by the Dwarves to be entirely lost to the Drow. Boom Boom Boom, comes from the entrance, finally a small dwarven party makes their way over to the entrance to investigate worried the Drow may have found a way to breach their hold, peering out beyond the safety of their walls they see a lone White bearded Dwarf armed to the teeth, and a pile of dead Drow standing at his feet shouting insults at the remaining Drow, continuing to wrap his hammer on the walls of the entrance…Boom, Boom, Boom. The remaining Drow trying to retreive their dead. Hear the growls of this white bearded dwarf…“These are my dead Drow… by Damar’s name get ye own”!!!, along with several more expletives about their Drow mothers. The Delving Hold Dwarf party immediately recognizing the marking of the Forge Gods, quickly giving entrance to Durgin Grandmaster Forger, and 1st apprentice to Damar. Durgin, following instruction from the Rolandites that sent him on this mission greased the wheels of politics in Delving Hold with some of the triplets finest beer stock to gain audience with the King. Once he had gained an audience with the Runemaster, and King of Delving Hold, Durgin expressed the importance of the Runepriest to be in V’Ral in the coming months time, the King and the Runmasters were reluctant … there was a war and they needed every resource to defeat the Drow. Durgin seeing it was unlikely they would release a Runepriest for this mysterious endeavor, he decided to make a proposition I (Durgin) will take the place of the Runepriest place and fight in the battle against the Drow until the Runepriests return. The Dwarves were at first reluctant, knowing the how dire their situation is, Durgin sensed this, dropping his non-detection concealment on his own equipment… the King and the Runepriests quickly agreed and a bargain was struck. Kargin was chosen, newly out of this apprenticeship he would venture to V’Ral and an seek audience with this mysterious Rolandite and only then discover what she wanted.
[To be continued – more coming]