Kingdom of Arboria, Year 5, Month 9
After the dust storm, we retreated back to Candlekeep. Gelros had devised this ingenious cross-planar communication system: a scroll and a charcoal crayon, upon which he wrote "Bring Us Home." Which Baern did, thankfully.
Everyone looked the worse for wear. Jaric banished the voices from within my head. He then attempted again to heal Narzeth, who doubled over with a wracking cough and then collapsed on the floor. (Oops.) As Shella and Gelros were also looking feverish and wasted, Baern went out for some antiplague, Jaric went out for some healing supplies, and I scrounged up some cots. We camped out right there in the mirror room for a few days to rest, and strategize.
That was nearly a week ago. We're all much better now. In addition, after purchasing some very expensive scroll, chanting, and muttering for an hour while caressing Narzeth's eye socket, Gelros has announced that the place we are looking for is called the Temple of the Eye and he's fairly confident that Jaric can use some strong magic to point us there. So, tomorrow, back through we go again.
Abaddon: It's a Trap!
We stepped through the mirror into this now-familiar hellscape only to notice something a bit odd: all of us were standing a few inches off the ground, as if hovering in midair. Gelros tapped at the ground a few times with his spear, which was enough to dispel the illusion. Instead of where we wanted to be… well, wanted is a strong word. Instead of where we intended to be, we were on a stone platform, facing three guant figures with scythes. One spoke:
Thanadaemon: "My master sends his greetings, and bids you to stay."
Gelros: "Who is your master?"
Thanadaemon: "Well, you shall meet him soon!"
If you've been keeping up with the story thus far, the next few seconds went about as you might expect: the daemons summoned more daemons (fangy, froglike ones this time), we killed some daemons, fireballs EVERYWHERE. But then, one of the most surreal experiences of my life happened. For maybe 10 seconds, the ground shook violently. Then, a deep voice seemed to come from everyone at once: "STAY." It wasn't an invitation, but rather a command.
After the voice, things were a little different: the thanadaemons we had been facing attempted some summoning magic (even I can recognize it by this time), but no new monstrosities appeared. Then, a thanadaemon tried to teleport away; that also failed. Within a minute, we had mopped up the rest.
That was maybe 5 minutes ago. In those five minutes, we've deduced a few things:
- Planar travel, and indeed teleportation of any sort, has been barred.
- This is highly unusual. Gelros speculates intervention by a deific entity, and further speculates that it is likely temporary, as permanent banning of teleportation would have adverse side effects. (In other words, it seems likely to start a civil war.)
- Narzeth has consulted with his eyeball and believes the focus cannot be far off.
So, we're stuck here. Might as well find this temple.
Hand of Gorum
I'm no poet or bard, so I fear my account of the end of our adventure in Abaddon will hardly do it justice. Nevertheless, here it is. After the ambush, which we handily turned into a rout, Jaric imbued me with route-finding magic I've never experienced. Somehow, I knew where the Temple of the Eye was and how to get there, despite the landscape before me being totally unfamiliar. Let me skip over the flaming hills (fire resistance for the win), exploding bodies (no one got sick this time), and the soundless valley and get straight to the main attraction: the Temple of the Eye.
We found them template after several hours of fast marching. At first glance, it looked like a standard temple, not far removed from the one Jaric built to Iomede. (Indeed, Narzeth and Gelros speculate that once it may have been in the material plane. How it got to Abaddon is anyone's guess.) However, the normalcy is dispelled as soon as you realize that the mortar is made of crushed and broken people, moaning in perpetual agony. Quelling the urge to flee, or vomit, we moved through the doors, which whimpered as they swung open before us. Beyond, in the antechamber, we saw burning piles of bones and four daemons standing at attention, clicking their their single mandibles at us.
As happens so often when we meet daemons, they started a fight. The opening moments of the combat saw some more (failed) summoning magic, a lot of reeking gray-green fog, and Shella slicing a daemon's arm off at the elbow. A couple of our chittering spider friends appeared. (You know, the ones from Armag's tomb? That place seems so tame in comparison.) Avariel threw up a blade barrier to block their path, but they seemed not to notice it. Narzeth's spells weren't landing well either; this place is full of antimagic resistances. Fortunately, Shella unleashed a radiant burst that (I came to realize later) reduced the daemons' defenses against magic.
For a moment, we were in danger of being overwhelmed. Kris found himself covered in army ants, and Avariel temporarily succumbed to the mind-numbing fear unleashed from the chittering spiders. However, I took out said spider, Jaric burned off the army ants with a flamestrike, and Gelros rescued Avariel from her mind prison. Right about then, a new daemon appeared: this one made of chains and blades and bidding us "Welcome!"
I've think I've finally learned something about Kris, which is that he feels a need to always be standing in front of the biggest, meanest thing in the room, whether or not getting to said thing is advisable. In this case, Kris voluntarily sprinted through two blade barriers to go stand in front of our new lady-friend. He also took one of her chains to the face. I do have to admit, though, whether or not he's bright he's at least brave and stoic. Jaric, looking somewhat confused at this turn of events, shook himself into action and channeled a beam of healing energy through both Shella and Kris.
Kris distracted the chain-lady for at least one exchange of blows. Meanwhile, the remaining psychodaemons kept attacking and messed up Avariel and Shella a good bit. After chanting some spells, Shella, looking particularly battle-crazed, dropped two more psychodaemons with three deft swings. Avariel felled hers as well (it was the one with a missing forearm), which left us all staring through a ring of blades with Kris and the chain-daemon beyond.
Getting nowhere with Kris, the Lady of Chains cast something and disappeared from sight. This was mildly concerning, but not more so than Narzeth's incoherent babblings, which cut clearly through the sudden silence. A moment later Gelros had pulled out a scroll (I learned it was of True Seeing) and was casting a spell on Shella. This in turn led to a rapid sequence of events, ending in the daemon's demise:
- Gelros casts True Seeing on Shella
- Shella, pivoting her head, rushes forward, flinches to the side very slightly as wounds open on her cheek, and engages what appears to be the air with several mighty and loudly clanging swings.
- I, judging from Shella's swordwork, place an arrow designed to trip up an opponent. To my amazement, we hear a crashing sound.
- Gelros, following the path traced by my arrow, casts Glitterdust, outlining a prone, chain-covered figure in golden sparkles.
- Narzeth scorches her with multiple rays of fire, then disintegrates her. Or tries: she's still twitching.
- Kris and Shella (mostly Shella) chop her apart.
As her head was severed from her torso, the daemon-lady cried, "Master will be displeased…" And so, just about a minute after it began, it was over, and we were back to the quite crackle of the bone fires. The people-mortar had stopped screaming, which was welcome but somehow terrifying all of itself.
I've never robbed a temple before, but maybe there's a first time for everything. We hastily plundered anything valuable looking from the side chambers, while Narzeth moved with purpose into the inner sanctum. On the pedestal was a skull. Narzeth reached out to pick it up, but stopped suddenly, as if stunned. So, naturally, Shella came up behind him, plucked it off the pedestal, and turned it over to examine it. Narzeth then shook off his torpor, only to find that the Eye was nonfunctional.
We tried a low-level summoning spell; but it still fails: still stuck in Abaddon. So we began walking out the old-fashing way. At about this time, the walls started murmuring. Gelros started singing to drown them out, but I distinctly heard someone shout "Run!"
"Um, Gelros? The walls said 'Run'."
As we exited the front doors, the temple imploded behind us. I looked back and saw that a giant daemon-thingy had appeared behind us. To which I said, "A giant daemon-thing has appeared behind us! Maybe we can leave now?"
It didn't take long for Gelros to catch on: after testing teleportation with a quick dimension door spell, he pulled out another scroll and opened a gate back to Arboria. "There is a horseman primarch chasing us! We should leave!"
As we stepped through the gate, we found ourselves interrupted a bout in the middle of the Hand of Gorum's primary arena. As Gelros closed the gate behind us, it sliced off a tentacle of the olethrodaemon that we had just escaped. I bet they don't see that in the arena every day. Jaric and Kris calmly walked over, bagged the smoking tentacle, and took it off to dispose of it.
Narzeth took his new skull off to find it a new "place of power." He tried his tower; apparently no good. So he brought it back to the war room, where I happened to be studying maps. Shella walked in too just about then: good timing, coincidence, or (if Shella is to be believed), the guidance of her deity. Shella spent the next half an hour expounding the glories of Gorum and attempting to convince Narzeth that he should give the eye to Gorum. "You may not be Gorum's usual material, but you're just as vigorous in battle as Avariel in your own way. Join Gorum in battle!" Lots of fervor, blah blah.
Well, I'm not sure if Narzeth would have bought it, except for the following: he set the skull down on the table (I guess he was tired of holding it?) and it pulsed with power. Strong power; we could all feel it. So Narzeth slowly took his hand away. The Eye shifted from black to red. Something changed, for sure. Shella says that Gorum has claimed it as his own. And perhaps he has. In any case, Gelros now says we can worry somewhat less about the effect it is having on Narzeth. I wonder. But we've bolstered the defenses around our war room, which now doubles as the treasure chamber for an artifact of great power.
That's done, and everyone's off. Gelros has kingdom business to attend to and most everyone else has something going on. Me? I'm going on vacation.
- Surviving the thanadaemons (76,800 XP)
- Surviving the temple (115,200 XP)
- 50 PP, 757 GP, 430 SP, and 3,000 CP
- Gems (2097 GP)
- Gold Figurine (7300 GP)
- Greater Caster's Shield
- Pirates Eye Patch
- 2 soul gems
- 20 PP, 5,187 GP, 2,180 SP, and 13,800 CP
- Gems worth 4,575 GP
- Art objects worth 8,798 GP
- Bracers of Sworn Vengeance
- Soulbound Eye
- Tyrant's collar