Monthly Archives: June 2010

SOW Chapter5: For In That Sleep – Bingus

For In That Sleep – Bingus

The truth is revealed

Trackless desert marks their way

Death is in the air

That night

“Why do you have your bag out?” asks Bingus

“What bag?” responds Jeroen. …

“The bag you always carry, the one in your hand now.”

“Now you’re just being silly. Here, I’ve brought you back your hat. I found it over there lying on the ground.”

Jeroen approaches Bingus unfolding the bag such that it might easily fit over Bingus’s head and looking strangely like a hat.

“Stay back, this isn’t amusing, not at all.” Q uickly Bingus rises intent on backing away only to find that his legs are not cooperating. Try as he might he cannot step back, worse as he tries to force the issue he accidentally steps forward closer. Jeroen is nonplused or maybe even cheered as Bingus stumbles forward. As he comes within arms’ reach, suddenly desperate Bingus yells but instead of shouts for help, giggles and laughter escapes his mouth; it is as if his very body has turned against him.

Smiling, Jeroen reaches out fitting the bag over Bingus’s scalp and then in a smooth deft maneuver he pulls the bag over the gnome’s face while lifting and spinning him at the same time. Blinded, Bingus can feel his feet kicking idly at in the air, like a small child spun upside-down, then with a final jerk and a bounce the world disappears as Bingus floats in a space like no other.

Muted light, both bright and dim simultaneously in a sky marked by diamond sparks of brilliance, speckled but impossibly distant, and the gnome believes rotating or even dancing in the sky. Reaching outward with his intellect, Bingus realizes that more likely it is he who is moving and then he sees it, a strand of silver line, pooled out an amazing length, too far for measure, tethers to his body, but not like a rope. This line does not tangle or catch and it is not tied nor can it be touched yet still it is attached to Bingus from somewhere well beyond his sight.

“What is this place? Am I alone?” Bingus reaches out to the silver line but he is unable to touch it as it passes like quicksilver through his hand. With no foundation and no point of reference Bingus struggles adrift for an indefinite time.

“Do you know that spider’s travel thus? Adrift, on bubbles spun of web; to where, they do not know. One might land in the ocean and thereby drown while the next sail in the midst of an open flame and be drawn to a fiery death, and the third, bliss, a paradise where the passenger will feast on bugs like you might suckle on milk and honey living off the fat of the land.”

Looking about Bingus sees nothing but the mutes spectacles his mind has yet to define.

“What do you suppose will come of you so far from your home? Have you ever really known what wonders wait behind the closed door? There is a names for it, many names, I know them all illuminations of the mind–Pandora, The Apple, Nyarlathotep, Merlin are just a few. The quest for understanding, without purpose, action without guidance … arrogance, reckless, hubris … I know your type. You might be me in miniature or am I you expanded? Protogenoi … the son of Iapetus and Themis, also known for his wily intelligence suffers to this day in ways beyond even his comprehension and he shares the blame for humanity’s unenviable existence."

 


SOW Chapter5: Den of the Destroyer, Finale

Den of the Destroyer

The gnolls are dead now
Chaos rift is sealed again
Amyria restored

 

Den of the Destroyer, Finale

Bairdyn listened at the double doors and whispered, "Definite chanting in some strange language sounds like it might be gnolls but I can’t be sure. There’s at least a few different voices though."

Yu came forward and listened, "Hmmm…nope, I can’t hear anything at all through these sturdy doors. You have amazing ears young fellow."

All priests of Bahamut are touched by their god in different ways but many are blessed with what is called Dragon-Sense, the almost supernatural ability to reach out with dragon-like senses and perceive their surroundings, James reached out now with those senses and replied, "There are three voices engaged in the ritual. There is a smell of fear and I heard the soft struggle of someone gagged and bound probably a sacrifice. There are laughing barks reminiscent of hyenas though it sounded slightly different from what I have heard before, three or four of the creatures would be my best guess. There is also a disquieting murmur of at least half a dozen other creatures probably more though I can not tell who or what they may be. There is a roaring draft like a wind, perhaps a fire or a vortex or a whirlwind, though the place smells of the foul presence of the abyss it could be the sound of the chaos rift. All of the sounds have an echoing distant quality that indicates that either they are distant or that the room is rather large."

Bhenedict suggested, "Let’s take a quick peek then and just rush in and slaughter the foul beasts and be done with the dogs."

The group nodded ascent to the plan and so Bairdyn quietly inched open the door and glanced inside to see a horrible scene. The camber itself was circular with a curtained balcony surrounding the edge looking down. In the center was an altar that had been converted to the worship of Yeenoghu. Chanting on the altar was the gnoll leader Fangren flanked by his two disciples. Surrounding the altar were three large braziers of fire. Behind the altar was the chaos rift from which was erupting burst of foul energies that seemed to dance in time to the chanting of the foul ritualist.

Ritual Chamber

RitualOn the main chamber were eight oblivious abyssal wretches and four crocottas who were not unaware of the party’s entrance. Taking the opportunity the party struck while they had the element of surprise on at least most of the foul ritualists.

Bairdyn burst open the door and maneuvered himself into a place of defense and tossed a dagger at one of the wretches sending back to the foul elemental wastes that it was spawned from.

CrocottaMax and Bhenedict each charged forward to send another wretch back to the abyss. Notaku roared with primal fury and charged one of the crocottas, causing it to whimper in pain from the bloody gash that he caused. Yu, seeing another opening, encouraged Notaku to charge a second of the crocottas, which he did.

The crocottas moved forward the two of them surrounded the dwarf while two of them went for Max and Notaku.

James and Bingus moved into positions where they could more easily attack. And then the fighting began in earnest.

FangrenHand of YeenoghuJames took the lead by calling on the power of Bahumat, he swore an oath to destroy the foul creature that was practicing dark magics and then warped space and moving forward teleported the gnoll Fangren next to the dwarf and pierced him with his spear. Before the shocked gnoll could react Yu encouraged first the dwarf to smash the gnoll with his trusty hammer and the yelled for Shaden to make a surprising attack that left the gnoll bloodied and near death. Unfortunately not quite dead as the creatured called out to its foul demon prince and a Hand of Yeenoghu appeared from the brazier nearest the party and lifted the dwarf high into the air, its foul fires not only burning away at his flesh but also at his soul.

Bingus summoned a fire warrior to set fire to the curtains the surrounded the chamber and to attack the gnoll archers who were taking pot shots at the party from the ballistraid and after he had done so split his time between giving the creature commands and assisting with an occasional cloud of daggers.

James called down a flame strike on the disciples that remained on the altar and then was called upon to use his healing arts to assist the party in recoveirng from the burns that ate away at flesh and soul from the Hand and later on from the Chaos Rift and the occasional lucky attack of the wretches.

Notaku make short work of one of the crocottas but found himself struggling with the second one once a third came to assist. His primal energies make short work of the wretches that came near him.

Shaden lended his wickedly fanged blades to help James and Bairdyn dispatch Fangren and then went to assist Notaku.

Yu assisted everyone with their attacks and quickly helped everyone get out of the way of the Hand once they party realized the havok it could wreck on them.

YeenoghuSoon the major threat the party faced was the still active rift withing which still could be seen the vague shape of what could only be Yeenoghu and the still active Hand. Bingus went to focus his energies on the rift. He pulls out his tome and uses a seal portal ritual the the sword, Amyria, was able to provide for him. He began the arcane ritual that would seal the rift. Yu moved to assist channeling divine energies, but found that the rift was so steeped in abyssal taint by this point that there was feedback that sapped his life as he tried to cleans the rift, still he continued as long as he was able. Eventually, he too, needed to change tactics and he began to utilize rituals that he was familiar with to supplement the ritual that Bingus was casting to reinforce the sealing of the portal.

Amyria, sword formA vortex of brilliant energy opens up in the air as the platinum sword is gently pulled from Bingus’s hand. It rises to hover in the air before the newly formed conduit, tendrils of silver light reach from a heavenly backdrop, reaching out to touch the sword. You are blinded by a brilliant flash as they touch, then an instant later, the ritual chamber falls silent.

Amyria, Deva formWhere the sword had been a young female appears before the conduit drifting slowly to to ground, a girl of unearthly beauty and grace. Her hair of spun silver flows down her back, below her gaze a brand of dark rouge pigment frames her glowing sun -like eyes. She is garbed in the scantest of armors made of slender silver bands, a shoulder overlay and a bikini of pure gold. In her hands silvery light burns like a flame of the gods, one hand directed upward and the other towards the ground; then as the light fades, in one hand, the one held up , a leather-bound tome appears, and in the other, the platinum longsword reappears.

"I am Amyria," she says, "Who are you, and why am I here?"

"I remember that I am Amyria," she says softly, "and I have lived many lives. I was in the sword. I remember you freed me. The ritual you performed transformed the planar breach in this place, allowing it to channel the energy of the Astral Sea. Energy necessary for my transformation." She looks at you, eyes dimming but still bright. "I have been reborn with purpose, even if that purpose is yet unclear to me."

After searching the bodies, the party found two letters on the gnolls:

Fangren's Instructions Sarshan's Note


AlysAlys looked over at Maxyzne, "Shall we go with them and help?" she asked as the rest of the party left to fight what remained of the gnolls.

MaxyzneMaxyzne looked down at the body of Gilgathorn and she reached into her belt pouch and took out the bag of black pearls that he had given her. She felt a brief pang of regret that she had not found out what he had wanted her to do. "I return your payment having not completed my task," she said as she dumped the stones into her hand and let them fall onto the dead elf’s body. As she did one of the stones stayed in her hand and did not fall.

In her mind Maxyzne hear a whisper:

We were not his to give, thus we do not return to him. We choose to go where we choose. We now choose to stay with you, Maxyzne.

Alys looked at Maxyzne as she stood still, unmoving, "Maxi, are you okay? Maxi?" Maxyzne didn’t respond. Moving over, Alys noticed that Maxyzne’s eyes were closed and that she was barely breathing. Gently she touched Maxyzne’s shoulder and tried to move her but Maxyzne was stuck where she was unmoving.

"Who are you?" Maxyzne asked.

In her mind a chorus of whispers answered:

We are the hunted, the bounty, prey. We are those who have been killed by the wielder of The Black Stone. We can help you to kill others if you will listen to us. We can tell you of many ways to kill. We can tell you of all the ways we have been killed. Of how Ruk was killed when an assassin slipped a dagger into his heart from behind a curtain. Of how Talena was killed by drinking from a poisoned cup. Of how young Ned was smothered with a pillow by his mother in his sleep. Of how the Tribe of the Severed Claw was slain by Hrothgar the Mighty and many more.

Alys answered, "It’s me, Alys. Maxyzne, are you okay? You don’t seem quite right." Alys looked at how Maxyzne was holding the jet black stone in her hand and wondered if that was somehow causing Maxyzne to behave in this odd fashion. She started to reach for the stone and immediately Maxyzne’s hand clenched in a fist about the stone.

"What do you want from me?" Maxyzne asked.

The chorus of voices continued:

We were created to study death. You can be our instrument of death. We will help you be a better assassin and you can help us learn more about death. You need only let us observe you when you kill and one other thing. When you have marked your prey you must not falter, you must not turn away. You must slay your prey. Will you be our new owner?

Alys stepped back, "Nothing, Maxi, I just want to make sure that you’re okay. You’re acting kind of strange. Are you sure you’re okay?"

"Yes," Maxyzne answered and opening her eyes Alys saw that Maxyzne’s eyes had turned into blackened orbs, exact mirrors of the stone that was in her hand. Maxyzne released the stone and it rose into the air and began to circle around her head, slowly at first but then picking up speed.

The whisper prompted:

Will she be our first prey? There are many ways that we could kill her. Yes, we could…

"No!" Maxyzne interrupted the voices.

Alys looked confused, "You’re not okay? Or you are?"

Maxyzne shook her head, "No, I’m okay just give me a minute." And thinking to herself she tried to communicate with the voices without speaking out loud.

I agreed to be your owner and I will decide who I kill. Do you understand?

Of course, we seek only to see death. You decide who lives and who dies. We have often been carried by those who prefer to hunt those who seek to evade authorities and we relish the hunt in those cases as it gives us a better perspective on death and killing in battle.

Maxyzne continued, "Okay, I’m ready. Let’s go help the boys kill some gnolls!"

As they started to go Alys asked, "What did that stone do to your eyes?"

Maxyzne stopped, "Huh? What do you mean?" She rummaged through her pack and pulled out a mirror. Looking at herself she saw what Alys was referring to.

What did you do to my eyes?

That is what happens to our owner when we are tasked with seeking out a new prey. We recall this happening a few times before when we first joined with a host in the past. It will pass when you rest. We seek only to see death.

Maxyzne put the mirror away, "Apparently it will go away in a day or so. But it may come back. Side effect of this stone."

The girls got to the chamber just as the boys were finishing up.


The party continued on to the meditation chamber where they battled Githyanki Psionic Echos and Githzeria Mindscrambles in a strange room that altered ones perceptions. Maxyzne took the win for most kills. Most everyone else kept falling into the pits.

Meditation Chamber