Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:11 am Post subject: Long Overdue
Druid’s Log, Entry 108 (Continued)
We now stood in the presence of one we had only suspected the existence of until now; Eldeza, the Lich and self-proclaimed Queen, commander of the sorceresses and undead, and employer of the orc band we had encountered and thrashed only a few days ago (it seemed quite some time ago, really). This unnatural cavern, carved from under Hollowbrook’s graveyard, lit by large, barely smoking braziers, and adorned with black banners and a throne of bones and rock, just exemplified her desiccated and pale figure, and proclaimed for all to note that it was her domain. She didn’t even leave her identity to doubt, proclaiming it so loudly herself. What followed then was her talking down at us, while I made mental contact with Fits. He seemed mostly unharmed, but still somewhat frightened. Eldeza insulted Alan, and Sir Fel indignantly declared that he was the leader of the party. After taking it in turn to insult each one of us as personally as she could manage with her limited information, and with the four skeletons and her little demonic familiar standing guard around her, she offered us a chance to join her, and even offered to give back my “obviously more effective” familiar. This made me utterly furious (not because it was wrong, but using Fits as a bargaining chip was just asking for it), and Alan then went and called her out, saying none of us would join her (Sir Fel was again indignant that Alan would speak for him, even if speaking the truth; we didn’t give much of a picture of unity to Eldeza in hindsight). Alan then Fell to his knees immediately, and after a moment, mumbled something about “distant great aunt, sister, parents.” The rest of us (Shin, Drobro, Yolo, Langston, Sir Fel, and myself) readied for battle, and the skeletons charged; the imp/demon creature then flew towards fits, perhaps intending more than torment that I had witnessed before through Fits’s eyes; it would find this to be a mistake.
I immediately channeled my fury into my greatest transformation; a bear, and Fits changed as well, busting through his cage, dazed for a moment, but unharmed (he even takes hits better than me; I would be jealous if I wasn’t in awe of him). This frightened the imp, which promptly turned invisible and vanished from perception. Yolo sank into the earth to try and sneak-attack Eldeza, or at least perhaps counter or avoid the Earth Elemental that helped her. Eldeza acted against me first by raising a barrier of stone around me, cutting me off from the others; foolish, as this only let me cast Concentrate, to fully ready myself and Fits for battle. Alan got to his feet, and acting in a clouded state, struck at Sir Fel, who parried the blow easily. Alan was being controlled, and was briefly our enemy, under Eldeza as the other sorcerers had been. The skeletons advanced, and Sir Fel moved forward, taking a serious hit, but remaining standing. Langston struck at another one and broke it. Shin and a third exchanged blows but did no harm to each other. Drobro moved back and prepared a shot at Eldeza. Then Fits charged forward and smashed a part of the throne of bones, making Eldeza shift on her feet, but not knocking her or doing more than annoying her; she did, however, take a moment to teleport to the other end of the tunnel we had come through, thus escaping the heaviest hitters and cutting our escape route in one motion. Drobro shot at the last non-engaged skeleton but did nothing to it. Alan kept trying to attack Langston, but Langston knocked the sword from Alan’s hand, and Alan tripped when this happened. Sir Fel, after gathering himself and wincing at a great pain in his right arm (due to the coin still stuck there; Eldeza had seen it when Sir Fel mentioned it, and said it was an old, powerful curse that would deliver greater suffering to him than anything even she would do), moved over and kicked Alan. Shin broke free from the skeletons, however, and made a mad dash at Eldeza, taking a near-stumbling effort to draw her sword of Spectral Slaying, and made a mad attack at Eldeza. The blow was desperate, swung wildly… and struck Eldeza with such great force that she was nearly cleaved in two with that single strike. Eldeza gathered herself and survived (well, kept together; she was still heavily hurt by the blow, but the wounds would not slow down a lich), but the blow destroyed her concentration. The barriers around me fell, and Alan suddenly snapped back to awareness (she had used a puppet effect on him, as it turned out). Fits moved over and crushed another skeleton. However, Eldeza, wounded but not inconvenienced, then showed the greatest single act of dark power we would witness here.
Eldeza waved her hand and shouted “Rise!” Five new skeletons rose around Shin, two new ones rose near the rest of us, and one of the destroyed ones reconstituted itself and rose again. These skeletons massed their attacks, but there was little they managed to do to Fits, Alan, Langston, Me, Drobro, and even the wounded Sir Fel. Shin, however, was ganged up upon, and the Earth Elemental rose out of the ground to attack her as well. One skeleton near us spontaneously broke apart; Yolo, invisible and now above ground, was supporting us, even if only a little. He had somehow gotten past the Earth Elemental (he told me later that it was because he met it while burrowing, and said he was a representative of the Hidden God, who watches over those who live in the shadows and the dark; this was enough for it to leave him alone, and say that it helped Eldeza only because it had to, but while it could not turn on her, it could let Yolo pass. Neither knew at that time Eldeza had already teleported). He then reburrowed to try to get at Eldeza again, though he unfortunately didn’t manage this. Langston, Sir Fel, Fits, and the now freed and rearmed (if bruised) Alan moved against the nearby skeletons and struck them down in swift succession. One held me up, however, and another did stick to Langston. Fits then sniffed the air, glanced past the skeletons we were still fighting, and charged at a little shape; he had found the familiar that had tormented him, and struck at it with great force. It survived, but was shaken by the attack. I moved to go past the others and aid Shin, who was holding on but only barely, while Drobro managed to shoot down one of the skeletons on her. Eldeza struck at Shin, but missed, then moved back to let the skeletons and Earth Elemental finish her. I got to and struck the elemental, but didn’t even annoy it. When the skeletons had been reduced to one near them Sir Fel stood and braced himself behind his griffon shield; he had found its trace of power, and sought to use it on this last skeleton, as Eldeza was too far away. He struggled against his pained arm and his wounds (he mentioned later that if he had failed to hold his concentration, the shield’s power would have hit indiscriminately in an area, and that the shield was meant to be used only by “pure fighters,” or those that didn’t fight with magic explaining it’s less useful nature in Alan’s hands), but he channeled the power of the shield; a great griffon, made of magic light, manifested and lunged at the skeleton, and brought a massive force down on it. It was not merely destroyed, but rendered to dust and gas, if even that, by the titanic focused blast. Shame, as we later found out, that it takes a week for the shield to charge between uses of that attack, and that it hadn’t been able to be used on Eldeza.
The others started to move towards Shin and aid her as well as attack Eldeza. Fits was still fighting the imp familiar, which was simply trying to get away and failing, but not really taking damage. Eldeza, however, then took that moment to teleport into Alan’s face, and make one more statement. “You are of my blood, and I offer you one more chance. Join me,” Eldeza stated. Alan responded with a simple “Never.” Eldeza then poked him with her hand, and he suddenly got very pale; his life was drained away, and he only barely remained on his feet, conscious, and alive. The Earth Elemental struck at me, and shook me, but I held on, thanking the Lord That Watches Over The Wilds that I had bothered to remember the concentration-aiding spell. Shin was hurt but took down one more skeleton and was still withstanding their onslaught. Then, the great miracle of the day occurred.
Drobro saw Eldeza standing before Alan; nobody else had yet gotten close enough to her to strike her again. He had spent two arrows uselessly already in this combat. He drew and knocked an arrow, and said a prayer to the Sun God that had so blessed him before, and begged for aid guiding his shot to bring down this affront to justice, life and honor. He took his stance, drew the arrow fully, and fired at Eldeza’s chest. It was a direct hit, but it seemed to only annoy her. Then the arrow glowed, pulsing with power. It showed its nature as blessed by the Sun, but it seemed not to damage her. But then, in the greatest divine presence I have felt in this mortal realm, the sun blasted through the ten or so feet of earth above her, engulfing her and Alan both, blasting them with a beam of pure, divine sunlight so strong it made the underground brighter than high noon. There was no scream, no chance to move, and no reaction that anyone else could have but awe; even the skeletons and the Earth Elemental stopped at the sight. Eldeza and Alan were impossible to see, and the beam persisted for about ten seconds. We were still standing in awe, struck nearly blind, when the beam went away, and Alan was on the ground, having fallen back out of it somehow, and not burned. The cursed coin dropped from Sir Fel’s hand, no longer cursed, purified in the light of the sun. Of Eldeza, there were not even ashes, not even scraps of flesh or cloth. She had been blasted out of existence, purified into true death, and all of her dark accoutrements with her. Only a stone was left at the site of the sunbeam, and the Earth Elemental moved to pick it up, then sank into the ground. He would hand the stone off to Yolo, who had missed this sight while burrowed. Eldeza’s familiar simply vanished from in front of Fits in a puff of smoke, and all of the skeletons crumbled to piles of bones (even the hundred-strong army in the other part of the cavern, as it turned out).
Yolo then rose out of the ground, and dropped his spells. I did the same, and fell to my knees saying “Praise the God of the Sun!” Fits then flew over and landed on my shoulder, which was followed by my profuse apologies and declaration of never sending Fits alone to danger, and to trust his gut feelings from here on, and to help him get whatever he wanted for food or whatever else; I owed him quite a lot, after all, for putting him in such a position so foolishly. At any rate, Eldeza was gone, the threat ended, the skeletons rendered peaceful, her mortal minions dead, and we had somehow all survived the conflict (well, not Hrodgier, but that was long ago, at least to our feeling. Was it really only six or so days? What an odd time flow this week had felt like).
We took a short while to heal ourselves. Alan was severely shaken by something; when pressed, he mentioned that he had been given a vision that showed that he was descended from Eldeza’s sister, and by extension Darius Hollowbrook, her husband. I thought that was an odd thing to have seen, but it was part of Eldeza’s move to control him, and made those earlier comments make sense. I also asked him how he had survived that vaporizing sunbeam, as it had seemed to envelop him, but he just mumbled something about not wanting to talk about it and needing to see Praxis again when we got back to the town. Shin managed to patch us up, lamenting not having the healing plant which she carried the seed of to aid her, but we managed to patch everyone up well enough, and got to deciding what to do from there. Drobro had run and checked that the army of skeletons was indeed disabled and no longer active, but otherwise we had not searched the area. The Earth Elemental, however, made a note that he wanted the stone he had given to Yolo destroyed, as it was what held him (I use “him,” but elemental spirits have no gender) under Eldeza’s thrall, and what held him in this unnatural form. We agreed, and Yolo moved to break it. He needed two tries, but he smashed the rock, and the Earth Elemental’s form instantly crumbled, its spirit freed to be again one with the earth in full. However, we hadn’t thought that through entirely as it turned out.
The Ground began to shake. The cavern walls started to vibrate. Rocks and dirt fell from the ceiling. We were really stupid; we had forgotten that most of these tunnels would only be capable of holding up with magic, and we had just released the spirit, and therefore broken the spells, holding everything up. Everyone but me started running down the tunnels to get out as quickly as they could; I, knowing I could not run fast enough, simply turned into a songbird and flew, with Fits, up the hole the sunbeam had made. A shame the others couldn’t follow me this way. At any rate the other six of the party ran out as fast as they could. Yolo helped Alan, and Shin stumbled a bit, while Drobro and Langston managed to get out of the tullel under the tombstone of Darius Hollowbrook easily enough, but the other four were almost crushed near the exit. However, Sir Fel, showing strength belying how badly he had been hurt just half an hour prior, used his shield to hold up some earth, and let Shin, Alan, and Yolo escape. He then moved out of the area just before the ground completely collapsed over him, and we stood in the middle of the Graveyard, just outside the once-hidden bulwark soil door, as most of the ground around us collapsed, including Darius’s great marker, which caved in and crumbled. After about two minutes, the rumbling stopped, the smoke cleared, and we saw that the tunnels had all collapsed. The grave marker stones were all in shambles, and mostly broken beyond repair.
We then had to climb through the newly-made ditches to completely clear the ruined graveyard, though this was only a minor inconvenience, and made to go back to Hollowbrook, when we noticed a stranger walk up to us. He introduced himself as Leon, the half-elf marksman of Lockenwood (clearly taking more after his elven side, unlike myself, who was closer to human in my mannerisms) and he had apparently been watching the area for a few minutes looking for us. We questioned this, and he mentioned that he had been sent by Praxis, who had left for the North on a task of some sort, and gave Langston a note. Langston read the note, grew pale, and then he let the rest of us look at it…
I have seen your actions, and have been inspired to go and make one last act of great endeavor to aid in the cause of justice, and finish some old business. I can tell you that I want you all to come North to aid me and Grunbar. When you have finished your tasks in Hollowbrook and restored order there, come north to Sindow, and meet me in the Triple Hook Inn. The business is serious; I have found that Eldeza was only a pawn in a greater, darker scheme.
Come as quickly as possible.
(P.S. The Triple Hook Inn is renowned for its golden rock bass. I recommend it highly when you get there.)
We saw this note, and were rendered in a grave mood (ha ha, graveyard etc.). Our prior exaltation at defeating Eldeza and escaping the tunnels dimmed, but not removed. Drobro mentioned that he actually had to go elsewhere, as his cause and his god were calling him (and after what had happened, how could we argue with that), and wished us luck, then walked off in a different direction, not likely to be seen by us again for some time, if ever. Leon, being somewhat privy to Praxis and his ways (being a hired messenger for him, after all), offered to go with us, seeing the seriousness of our tasks ahead. We accepted the offer of aid, and went back to Hollowbrook with him now in place of Drobro.
When we returned to Hollowbrook, we were immediately surrounded by the townsfolk. They had seen the great beam of sunlight hit the graveyard, and had heard the rumbling of the ground collapse, even if they didn’t know the exact cause of yet. When we explained what had happened as much as we could (barring the details that Praxis and Grunbar would want us to keep hidden, of course), everyone started cheering, and a great festival was called for by Tyrian and the other town elders. It would be hailed as the day they were saved from the old threat that had so taxed their town (in monetary, livelihood, and personal means), and the name of the great festival would be “Roganart Fel Day,” in honor of the leader of the party that had brought about this change.
Alan was not amused. However, everyone was too busy preparing for the night of partying to hear his objections. I talked to Tyrian, though, and asked what they would do about the ruined graveyard. He said that he would post guards to watch the area, and then the bones of the dead would be dug up and reburied in a new graveyard, one free of the taint and bad reputation of this old one. I asked if I could go back and take care of some business I had remembered (Yolo also had business; he wanted some of that 10,000 gold, but I didn’t mention this), but Tyrian said he didn’t want any more messing with that area, and forbade me going back. I mentioned there was a potential hazard in an old piece of tech, Dwarven made, and he got slightly apprehensive. Even after I tried to cover for this mention by saying the magic items/technology was likely stolen, he would hear no word of me going back there, and simply encouraged me to go party with the others. Sir Fel was greatly enjoying being the toast of the town, while the others got their fair accolades as well. However, before the party died down and we went to sleep to prepare for the next leg of our journey, Yolo and I snuck out to go to the graveyard for our own purposes.
Druid’s Log, Special Entry (Night After Log Entry 108)
Yolo and I approached the now-guarded graveyard as stealthily as we could. Once we were close enough to see the guards, we concluded that getting closer would not be useful and pointlessly antagonize the people of Hollowbrook. Fortunately, Yolo was able to use his power to have both of us burrow underground, and we first moved toward where the Dragon Head device and the 10,000 gold had been stored. We reached the area and I used my power to clear out the cavern area around that space. The dragon head had been smashed, and the gas pipeline closed completely by the earth collapse (fortunate). Unfortunately for Yolo, we found the bags, and they were mostly empty; only about 300 gold of the 10,000 was left, and it seemed that the gold had actually been cleared out before we got there, not been lost in the earth in the tunnel collapse, as there was nothing else around the bags. Yolo punched the wall in frustration, but agreed that we should move on so that I could accomplish my goal; speaking to the Spider Queen we had killed in these tunnels by divination.
We moved to the area where her corpse lied. After clearing out a small hollow, and Yolo sat aside to wait, I meditated, and cast out to speak to her spirit. I found her and apologized as best as I could, as we had walked into her home, killed her children, and then killed her, even if it was in self-defense. I asked why she had come here, and she said she “Followed the darkness.” I then asked if any of her children had survived, and she said “None.” I said if there were any survivors, I knew where they could be safe, but she reiterated “There are none left.” I apologized one final time, and she said “You are released” before I lost contact with her. Yolo and I then burrowed out of the area. I walked off for a brief detour, however. I first found the bears that we had seen some time ago (which took some searching, but Fits helped from far away), and told them of a cave they could use to hibernate in for the coming winter, one now free of dark magic; this would shelter them, and cover the locale from being searched (it was the cave where we exited the dwarven ruins after the collapse of those areas). Then I left a note for the nature spirits and fairies regarding the plans of the people of Hollowbrook, knowing that I couldn’t help if they came to conflict, but could at least explain the reasons behind their actions. I hoped I had done enough, and moved back to Hollowbrook to get some sleep, however little.
Last edited by Hatless_Nuance on Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
When morning came, the party I was part of prepared to leave for Sindow. We had come to the conclusion that the fastest way there would be to get to Bentenshire by road, then take a boat through the Sindow Straits to Sindow. We bought the horses the town had, and I was given a pack mule by the miller, that he said he had gotten just recently. I talked to the mule with my power, and it was the same one that I had asked Grunbar to watch. Thinking this a weird development, considering that Grunbar had said the mule was lost and could not be retrieved, I nonetheless thanked the miller and our party departed following a brief shopping spree to get the food and water we would need for the trip of a few days. That day and the next were slow going, but were a welcome peaceful reprieve.
Druid’s Log, Entry 110
As mentioned before, a peaceful and otherwise uneventful day of traveling. Alan and Sir Fel got into an argument about Sir Fel having named a holiday, while the only day Alan could name would be the one he burned his village on. Alan tried to cut his hand off, but was stopped from doing so as it would make too much difficulty in the long run, though he still glowered at the arrogant elf noble.
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