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Throne of Cards 82


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#1 Laufey

Posted 20 August 2020 - 05:09 PM

Aha, the Attic is back online! Have a fresh chapter to celebrate with. 

 

Throne Of Cards 82 – Mixup And Mayhem

 

Preparation is one key skill a would be adventurer should cultivate to help things go right. Another one is improvisation, for when things go wrong all the same.

Excerpt from ‘Ruminations Of A Master Bard’

 

Mithykyl the Mindflayer wasn’t bored, as such. Illithid were all devoted to serving the Elder Brain of their colony of course, and the Elder Brain had decreed that Mithykyl be here at this time. Still, this Sendai…that a lowly creature such as that should have dominion over illithid felt plain unnatural. The proper order to things was that there were illithid, food and slaves. For food to be commanding illithid was truly inconceivable.

 

And yet it is so. Was the thought Mithykyl’s own, or a message/warning from the Elder Brain? Hard to tell, sometimes. Even so, there was knowledge, a cool reminder flashing through the illithid’s mind. This Sendai, this one food/slave had provided many more food/slaves for the colony. In return it was Mithykyl’s duty to carry out certain orders.

Do not wave your tentacles at me, Mithykyl! Sendai had snarled, her face twisted with fear/anger. The Bhaalspawn had been receiving worrying news, apparently, and it showed. Mithykyl’s wide, pale eyes focused on Sendai’s face, reading minute twitches and flickers with practiced ease. The woman’s brain would be perfectly flooded with lovely adrenalin right now, a heady cocktail of fear that Mithykyl longed to devour. Even so, there were orders, and tentacles stilled, dribbling the odd bit of mucus onto the polished stone floor of Sendai’s private chambers. You know what to do, Sendai continued, clamping down hard on her fear. That Bhaalspawn…Zaerini…must be stopped. Her and her companions. Kill them if you can, but at the very least delay them. Your special little trick.

 

Yes, this made sense. This particular technique wasn’t something every illithid could master, but Mithykyl’s colony was quite old. Its Elder Brain had absorbed many thousands of its children upon death, all their knowledge and skills returning home to be used again as was best for the colony. Mithykyl’s hatching had been an experiment of sorts, the larvae that would eventually grow into Mithykyl had been deposited in the ear canal of a human with actual psionic powers of its own. As that larvae grew and feasted, it learned what it could, mixing and mingling knowledge. Humans were no match for illithid in raw power of course, but knowledge was always, always useful. Now it was time to apply that knowledge on a larger scale than before. The tunnels in this part of Sendai’s enclave were fairly narrow, twisting and turning back and forth, the perfect place for an ambush. Several lesser illithid had been sent ahead, a necessary sacrifice in order to draw attention. Now there were sounds of combat some distance ahead, and the presence of several non-illithid minds. Seven. Hmm. An even number would have been better, easier to cope with, but it couldn’t be helped. Mithykyl reached out carefully, so carefully, to taste the surface eddies and currents of those seven minds while they were otherwise distracted. Nothing invasive enough to be noticed, nothing as crude and basic as a psionic blast of pain. This was a delicate procedure, and one that needed to be carried out simultaneously on several minds at once at that. Still, eventually the matrix had been fully formed, and Mithykyl was prepared for transfer. There. Install, and…reboot.

 

-*-

 

Zaerini later wondered if there was anything she could have done to prevent the disaster, but she couldn’t think what. After all, they had known the mindflayers lurked ahead and taken what precautions they could against domination, braindrain and confusion spells. It had worked, at first. Though the tunnels in this part of the caves were narrow and twisting to the point where it felt like she had turned around about ten times, that had to some extent worked to their advantage. It meant the mindflayers couldn’t reach the weaker members of the party and had to face the meatgrinder that was Minsc and Sarevok. And then it happened. Just as Sarevok kicked the still twitching corpse of yet another illithid off his sword, the large warrior stumbled, his eyes rolling back in his head until only the whites showed and he sagged to the ground. Next to him Minsc was toppling as well, and as a now very alarmed Rini turned around she saw it happening to all the others as, one by one. They all still breathed but seemed to be completely out cold. But I feel just fine…why didn’t it affect me? She didn’t get any time to contemplate this mystery though, for now there was the soft sound of shuffling flat feet coming towards her, and she could see twitching moist tentacles under a set of alien pale eyes. The approaching mindflayer wore a black robe that seemed more intricately decorated than those of its fellows, and it was larger than most of them too. Whatever had happened to the others, this seemed like the likely culprit.

 

Will they be alright if I kill it? And then another, unpleasant thought. Can I kill it? The Slayer was tempting her, growling on the edge of her mind, promising protection. Another way to lose my mind. But if it saves them…then again, what if I lose control and kill them all?

 

She didn’t have time to think about it any further. The mindflayer was  nearly upon her by now, its shining pale eyes staring intently into her own. Eyes…yes. A pathetically simple spell it was, a mere cantrip, but right here and now it was exactly what she needed. A flash of bright white light flared between her splayed fingers and the mindflayer shied back with a desperate keening sound. Not for the first time, Zaerini privately thanked the library of Candlekeep for its extensive collection of lore on all topics, including the denizens of the Underdark. It only makes sense, they’re adapted to deep darkness. A bright light like that must feel like I just set its brain on fire. It wouldn’t last very long, so she followed up as quickly as she could with her sword. It wasn’t a perfect stroke by any means, and she missed its heart. Do mindflayers have hearts? She did manage to slice into its side as it twisted around though, and it shrieked again. Before she had the time for another blow, her head was filled with fog and mists. She couldn’t tell where she was, where her friends or her foe were, and barely what was up and down. No! She stood still, the sword trembling slightly as she held it between sweaty palms. Where is it? Where is it! She didn’t dare strike blindly, then she might easily hit one of her friends, but if she didn’t….

 

Soft, slithering moistness against her cheek, leaving a repulsive trail of mucus and the first pinprick against the base of her skull, taking careful aim. Nonononono! The Slayer roared, and this time she couldn’t hold it back, not all the way at least. She felt the change overtake her, claws and teeth, muscles bulging even as she twisted around to face her attacker. Then the pain suddenly fell away, and the red mists in her head gradually receded along with the mindflayer’s psionic confusion. Zaerini stood very still, panting as she tried to catch her breath and when she could finally see straight again she saw an unmoving lump at her feet. There were a pair of rather large holes in its head, above its eyes. I think that was the claws. I hope it wasn’t my teeth. Oh gods, if it was my teeth I think I might be sick. Was that faint taste of salted octopus in her mouth real or just her twisted imagination? She choked the bile down and resolutely made herself move on. The mindflayer was definitely dead, so that was good. But what of the others? Thankfully, at least some of them were beginning to stir slightly.

Her heart was still hammering hard in her chest but beginning to slow down at least. She knelt down next to Edwin first, anxiously touching his face. He was still out cold, but breathing steadily at least, and his colour was good so there didn’t seem to be any obvious injury. Now there was a faint rustle behind her and she twisted around to see Dekaras getting into a sitting position, looking slightly dazed but otherwise unharmed. That was definitely a relief, and somebody practical and sensible who could help her check on the others would be very…

 

Before she could finish that thought, she looked into the assassin’s black eyes and saw them light up in a way that was simultaneously alien and oddly familiar. He was smiling too, a bright, relieved smile, and while the emotion itself wasn’t out of place given they’d just survived a fight to the death, that display of it seemed strangely obvious for him. “Hey, are you alright?” She asked and then she gave a muffled squeak as the assassin launched himself at her like a pouncing cat, wrapping her tightly in her arms and kissing her ardently. For a few seconds her mind just sparkled and fizzled with utter, utter shock and astonishment, and then she managed to push him away enough to give him an outraged glare.

 

“What in the Nine Hells are you doing?!” She shouted. He actually had the nerve to look surprised and a little hurt at that, but before he had the time to say anything in his defense Rini found herself yanked off her feet. She was dangling by the scruff of her neck, held by a massive fist and as she painfully tilted her head to the side, she saw a very outraged Sarevok staring down at her. The large warrior had what can only be described as a pout on his face, and his golden eyes were flashing angrily.

“No fair, sis!” Sarevok shouted. “You’ve already got a boyfriend, remember? And besides, you’ve got some nerve to tell me I shouldn’t smooch him and then doing it yourself!”

“I DIDN’T SMOOCH HIM! He’s gone insane or something, and so have you! Since when do you want to smooch…”

“Aaargh!” That was Minsc, crouched in a fetal position on the floor. The ranger was staring at his own hands, his face twisted into a mask of horror. “My face…my hair…my…my EVERYTHING! This is a nightmare, a horrible nightmare!”

Imoen had got to her feet by now and was growling quietly. “I will slaughter whoever did this and DRINK THEIR BLOOD FROM THEIR OWN SKULLS! GIVE ME MY SWORD!” She staggered over to Sarevok with a grin of unholy glee on her face and tried in vain to yank his huge sword off his back. Sarevok barely seemed to notice and just swatted her away. She landed on the floor with an outraged shriek. Next to her, Viconia sat up, blinked and patted the pink-haired rogue on the head with a gentle smile.

“Not to worry, little Imoen! Minsc knows how to do sparkly feelgood magic now and will fix you up right away!”

“Minsc?” Rini asked, feeling more than a little faint. “Is…is that you?”

“Yes, Little Rini! Isn’t it funny? But not to worry, Minsc is still Minsc is Minsc and always will be!”

 

Oh Gods. And that means…

 

“Hellkitten?” Dekaras asked her. “What…is something the matter? (Do I have some repulsive illithid slime defiling my beauteous features?)”

“You…you don’t exactly have your beauteous features, Dread Wizard,” Rini replied, trying to hold back a hysterical giggle. “You’ve got somebody else’s. Look.”

He frowned, then looked down at his hands and body and went suddenly very pale and quiet. At the same time ‘Sarevok’ finally let go of her, and then caught her again as she nearly tumbled to the floor.

“Rini?” The big man asked. “When did you get so short? And I’m sorry I shouted, I just…”

Immy and Sarevok scrambled. Minsc and…Viconia? And Eddie and…

‘Edwin’ finally sat up, examining his own hands carefully. He was…giggling. Or possibly cackling. “Yes,” He whispered. “Oh yesssss.”

“Vadrak?” Zaerini said, feeling a sharp spike of alarm. “I know it’s a shock, but try to calm down, or I think you might….”

 

FWOOOOSH

 

The giant ball of flame that shot out of his hands probably wasn’t aimed at her, or at anybody in particular, but she still had to throw herself flat on the floor before it could burn her to a crisp and she thought she could smell the tips of her hair smoking. “Immy!” She shouted. “Vic! Just…just sit on him or something, I don’t think he can control it just yet!”

Between them, the two women currently inhabiting the bodies of Minsc and Sarevok managed to subdue the still hysterically giggling mage before he could set fire to anything else. He didn’t seem to mind too much, but then she rather thought he was so drunk with the sudden influx of arcane power that he wouldn’t have minded an anvil falling on his head. So much for ‘somebody practical and sensible’.

A few minutes of frenzied discussion later, the situation had not been resolved in the slightest, but at least everybody agreed on who was talking, arguing, or in the case of Sarevok angrily sobbing and pretending not to. The warrior did not approve of being unceremoniously dumped into the body of his younger sister by freakish mindflayer powers, and he was very vocal about making his opinions known. Viconia still seemed in a state of frozen horror about being stuck as Minsc, while Minsc was being Minsc and perfectly at ease at being temporarily not-Minsc. Imoen was worried, but simultaneously fascinated by her new muscles and kept trying to pick Sarevok up which did nothing to improve his mood. Edwin was a frayed mess of nerves, and trying not to show it but failing miserably and Dekaras was entirely too intoxicated with the heady rush of arcane energies flowing through his newfound connection to the Weave to even pay attention to the discussion, much less contribute. Mercifully he’d been persuaded to give the fireballs up for now, but he was lying on his back on the floor with a wide smile on his face and making floating sparks of excess magic form themselves into various shapes and squiggles.

“It will wear off eventually, won’t it?” Rini asked, trying to ignore the tight lump of pure worry in the pit of her stomach.

“It…might,” Edwin said, twisting Dekaras’ face into a grimace of disgust. “But I don’t know for certain. I never heard of a mindflayer capable of something like this.”

“Who cares about psionic theory!” Viconia shouted, pounding Minsc’s fist against the wall until it cracked. Then she went white with pain. “Ow.”

“Minsc will fix it!”

“NO! Stay away from me, you oaf, you haven’t got the first idea of medicine, healing or anatomy and I don’t want my hand to end up attached to my nose by mistake!”

“Just drink a potion then,” Sarevok snarled before he went back to chewing on the ends of Imoen’s pink hair. “This is intolerable! How am I supposed to fight like this?”

“You can start by not giving me split ends,” Imoen said, lightly swatting the back of what used to be her own head. “This is bad enough as it is, right?”

“Maybe I should just get us back to the pocket plane?” Rini suggested. “I’ve got powers in there that I don’t have here, maybe I can sort you all out.”

“If you can’t, we’ll have wasted precious time though,” Sarevok said. “There is no telling what Sendai is doing right now.”

“Yeah, but if we go and fight her right now all of you guys will have to fight her in the wrong body, with the wrong skills! I don’t like those odds, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Vadrak, you agree with me, don’t you? Vadrak?”

But the assassin-turned-mage was nowhere to be seen. Edwin spat a curse and rushed down the nearest hallway, and she followed as fast as she could with the others right behind her. He couldn’t have got far, surely? To be sure, it wasn’t long before they caught up with him. He was standing in front of a very tall and wide ornate door made from pure black rock and engraved with…well Rini didn’t want to look too closely at those engravings, to be honest. There were Drow, and other denizens of the Underdark. Some of the scenes depicted were of conquest, or torture. And then there were the other ones. Is that umberhulk wearing high heeled boots and a strapped on…no. I think I’d rather watch a rerun of Daddy Bhaal’s Greatest Visions than this. Dekaras in Edwin’s body was standing very still, seemingly deep in thought. As Edwin caught up and grasped him by the shoulder he barely seemed to notice, and simply turned his head and gave him a distracted smile.

“What are you doing?!” Edwin snapped. “This is a dangerous place; you cannot simply run off like that!”

“Mmm?”

“Sendai is probably right behind that very door, are you trying to get yourself killed or merely being negligent with your own…my…both our health?”

“Mmmmm…”

“See? See! You are in no state to cope with anything complex or delicate right now, and I insist you step back and let me handle things!”

“Mmm?”

“Are you even paying attention to what I’m saying? Do I have to repeat myself? Or, dare I say it, forcibly restrain you until you come to your senses? (I could probably do it right now. Surely the body knows the way instinctively?)”

 

The assassin nodded, the smile on his face widening. It was open, bright, joyful, and had very, very little sanity to it. “Mmmmagic.” He raised his hand, and a sickening green orb formed around it, swirling with black specks. Then he aimed it at the door, the orb coalesced into a thick green beam and struck the door with a bright flash. There was no bang, or explosion. There was simply a faint hiss as the door disintegrated into a cloud of grey dust that made everybody cough. Behind the door was another cave, a large one this time. At the far end, there was an altar, flecked with dark stains. All around the walls was a complicated system of glass tubes and machinery, sparks now and then leaping from one part to another. There were cages as well, so many cages, and in the cages…

 

Oh. Oh no.

She hadn’t expected the missing villagers to turn up alive, but the reality was still a grim sight. The corpses were packed into the cages, jumbled together like refuse, and they were…withered. Grey husks, like…like an earwig she’d once seen after a parasitic worm was done with it. She’d had nightmares for days until Gorion finally got her to tell him what was wrong and helped her sleep. But there was no Gorion here. This one was all on her to handle. And there, by the altar, stood Sendai. There could be no doubt. She wasn’t the tallest or strongest Drow, nor the most beautiful. At first glance, she even seemed rather weak and plain, despite her fine clothes. Yet, there was a powerful presence around her, the legacy of Bhaal evident in every glance, in the slightest motion. The woman fairly radiated power, and as she turned to face the intruders there was a wild look on her face.

“You!” She shouted. “Do you think your minions will aid you now, sister? Aid you against me? You are too late, much too late. I sought to delay you with slaves and servants, and it worked. The ritual is complete. The glorious life essence of all these slaves, drained and channeled, and finally reborn. You face not Sendai alone and cornered as you thought, but all of Sendai and all that she can be!”

There was movement in the shadows along the wall and another Sendai stepped forth, this one dressed as a warrior with a nasty curved sword held steadily between two hands. Then another one, moving with the casual ease of a rogue. And another…and another…and another…until there were seven in all. The original Sendai crowed with laughter and winked out of sight as the clones all approached, weapons at the ready.

 

Great. And here I was hoping we’d have the time to discuss some actual tactics first. Prepare protective spells. Maybe even have a light snack. Not just rush into the room with everybody’s brains still scrambled. No, not everybody’s. Not mine. There were seven of us, three pairs and one left over. Mirror images flashed into existence around her body, followed by a shield of flickering flames, and then a haste spell covering the rest of the party. Let’s hope that will be enough. She moved towards the closest clone, the warrior, making her sword spin with a flourish intended to distract and confuse her opponent as much as her illusions might. Still, she knew she could only keep it up for so long, the other woman was stronger than she was.

 

“Foolish Drow!” That was Sarevok in Imoen’s body, moving up at her flank. “THE CHILDREN OF BHAAL WILL NOT BE STOPPED!” He clearly intended to make a bulwark of himself, but unfortunately Imoen’s slight body and short sword weren’t well suited for that task. The clone nearly took his, or rather Imoen’s head off as he attempted a sword stroke ill suited for his greatly reduced height and bulk.

“Move!” Viconia in Minsc’s body snarled as she pushed the pink haired girl aside. “Find the casters instead!” Sarevok startled, but then he disengaged, edging towards the walls of the room in what was probably an attempt at stealth. Meanwhile, the enraged Viconia proceeded to headbutt Warrior Sendai and beat her face into a pulp. “RRRRRRAARRRRRGH!” Viconia roared. “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS INDIGNITY! YOU WILL ALL PAY!”

I’m…not sure if that’s Minsc’s body berserking or Vic herself. Maybe both? Either way, she seems on top of things for now.

 

Zaerini took off after Sarevok, having decided that her brother was one of the more vulnerable people in the room right now. Especially since I can’t see him sneaking if his life depended on it. Which it probably does. To be sure, that bright pink hair was clearly visible and even though she thought he was doing his best he simply couldn’t help striding rather than sneaking. Sarevok was clearly trying to reach a clone who was in the process of summoning nasty skeletons and elementals all over the room. At the last moment, he apparently remembered he was supposed to be stealthy and tried to edge around outside of the clone’s line of sight, a process that made it look like he was performing some kind of odd dance. It did at least cause the clone to break off in her casting to watch in puzzlement.

“HA!” Sarevok shouted, a sound that sounded just a little less impressive in Imoen’s voice than in his normal bass. “SNEAK ATTACK!” He threw himself forward with his sword stretched out in front of him, and undoubtedly the move would have been very impressive if it had actually hit anything. As it was, he carried on at full speed straight past the clone and landed on the floor. Her heart in her mouth, Rini launched several arrows at the clone hoping to get it off her brother…sister…well, both of them really. It worked, to the extent that now the clone was focusing on her instead. It was also casting something that made it feel like her heart was about to be torn straight out of her chest. She groaned, her bow clattering to the floor from suddenly nerveless fingers, and little white flecks floated in front of her eyes. And then the pain ended. The half-elf sagged to her knees, gasping for breath. Once she could see properly again, she spotted the clone, dead on the floor. Sarevok was on the floor next to her, with a bloodthirsty grin on Imoen’s face that looked rather out of place. This time around, he hadn’t bothered to get to his feet, but simply stabbed from a sitting position, hitting the Sendai clone straight in the vitals.

Imoen, meanwhile, was having some difficulties of her own. As amazing as it was to be able to not just lift but to swing Sarevok’s great sword, she wasn’t really used to wielding it properly. Right now, she was trying to hold off a swarm of skeletons and fire elementals that were being summoned into a dangerous position behind the group. Dekaras was standing close by, still looking rather out of it. He had summoned a few skeletons of his own and was enthusiastically egging them on, but he kept wanting to make things explode and Edwin kept having to bodily grab him to keep him from landing a Fireball too close for comfort. As for Edwin, he was probably trying his best, but he really had no idea about how to fight as a rogue. He’d managed to find and draw a long dagger but was holding it rather awkwardly and hadn’t really managed to do more than scratch his opponents.

 

Not that I’m much better, Imoen wildly thought as she wildly swung Sarevok’s sword once again. It did hit the elemental she was aiming for, but she’d underestimated her own strength and nearly tripped over her own feet. She ended up face to face with one of the Sendai clones, the rogue. Hm. Well, at least I know what kind of moves she might use. Sarevok’s body was huge and strong, but he wasn’t clumsy, not at all. Sure, she couldn’t fight the way she was used to, but she could still move. So, when the clone tried to feint in order to sneak around her and get under her guard, Imoen was ready for her. She spun around, and her elbow hit the clone right in the throat. Had she been in her own body, it would certainly have hurt, and she would have been able to easily follow up. In Sarevok’s body, the clone’s throat simply exploded in a shower of red drops, striking a wide-eyed Imoen straight in the face. Wow. It’s probably a good thing Sarevok doesn’t know these tricks on his own, or we’d never have beaten him back in Baldur’s Gate. Triumphantly, she turned to strike another elemental, only to find she’d underestimated her strength yet again. The huge sword simply flew out of her grip, spinning out of control through the air, and straight towards her friends by the entrance. “WATCH OUT!” She yelled in Sarevok’s best and loudest voice.

Edwin heard the warning, and fortunately for him his borrowed body reacted instinctively before he had the time to consciously think and decide what to do. He dove for cover, pulling Dekaras along with him. They both landed on the ground in a rather undignified heap, but at least they both had their heads still attached to their bodies. Unfortunately, the elementals were rapidly closing in, and so was one of the clones. This one was another warrior, and Edwin really didn’t fancy his chances at entering a duel to the death with her. In his own body, yes, but as it was, he felt as if he were trying to operate some sort of complicated and lethal machinery without a manual. The best he could hope for was to not have it blow up in his face. He’d only dared to grab one of the more obvious weapons, and he was frankly afraid to even attempt to explore the contents of his father’s many hidden pockets. Yes, there were assuredly many concealed weapons of clone destruction in there, but the problem was that he could easily self-destruct by touching the wrong item in the wrong manner.

 

“Fireball?” Dekaras croaked under him.

“Not NOW!” Edwin hissed, struggling to get to his feet and pull his father along by the collar while also attempting to keep the elementals at bay. He waved the dagger at them in what he hoped was a suitably intimidating manner, but he knew that would only work for so long. But I cannot fault him for currently having a one-track mind, Gods know what it must feel like to suddenly be able to access magic after so long…

That was something probably best not thinking about right now. There was a persistent dull ache in the farthest reaches of his mind, one that he tried to ignore but couldn’t entirely. It was a desperate emptiness, a void that yearned to be filled but never would be. I knew, but I did not understand. Not until now. Still, this was not the time or the place to contemplate such matters. They needed to get to safety, and he had precious few options open to him. Hoping that he wouldn’t get them both killed, he let instinct take over once again. Without thinking, he let his hand move, and felt his fingers reaching for a small device hanging from his belt, unhooking it. Ah, there comes the deathly weapon of clone destruction, to be certain! It didn’t feel like a dagger, but Dekaras certainly used other weapons as well, including some that Edwin didn’t even know the names for. The thing was a smooth handle and fit snugly into his palm. There was a button on the side, and as far as Edwin was concerned, buttons were made for pushing.

 

WOOOOOSH!

A small, but extremely sturdy grappling hook, attached to a mithril-enforced cord, shot out of the handle and into the air, disappearing into the dark recesses of the cavern ceiling. There was a distant ‘twang’ as it attached itself to something, and Edwin could feel the reverberation all the way into his arm. Shocked by this turn of events, he did the first thing he could think of and pressed the button once again.

 

SWOOOOSH!

The cord rapidly retracted itself back into the handle, just the way it was designed to do. The hook end was firmly attached in the ceiling. The Edwin end was not firmly attached to anything, and so he was pulled rapidly into the air, screaming bloody murder as he went. Since he was still holding onto Dekaras, he was pulled along as well, though with greater equanimity than Edwin felt. In fact, he seemed to be laughing, which Edwin felt was a callous disregard for their current predicament. Eventually, they came to a halt, just beneath the cavern ceiling and entirely too high above the ground for Edwin’s comfort. Why, if I am inside his body, didn’t I get his head for heights? That is just plain unfair! Clearly jumping down was not an option, and he only hoped that they wouldn’t fall and end up splattered all over the ground. He was desperately clutching the mage’s robe with one hand, and the handle of the accursed grappling hook with the other, and he felt as if both his arms were about to be torn out their sockets at any moment. Far, far beneath them, the chaotic battle still raged.

“Fireball…” Dekaras repeated, sounding quite pleased with the idea.

“Yes…nnnngh…I would certainly say so! Only…try to apply my usual finesse and restraint and…”

BOOOOM!

“…and enthusiasm, yes, quite so…”

Meanwhile, on the ground, Zaerini threw herself to one side as the battlefield suddenly turned into a raging inferno. It wasn’t just fire either. Clouds of poison drifted lazily across the ground, skulltraps screamed out of the sky to explode in showers of sharp shrapnel, giant chunks of ice rained down from the ceiling to be followed by jagged lightning and finally a howling wind of death took out what clones remained as three Horrid Wilting spells in a row landed on them. The clones burned, froze, gagged, and in one memorable case, simply exploded into meaty chunks of flesh and a spray of gore. Fortunately, she and her friends remained unharmed, so there must have been some aiming going on even if it hadn’t felt like it. Only the original Sendai remained, bleeding heavily as she staggered out of a poison cloud.

“You…you think you have won, do you?” She spat. “But know this, with or without me the plan will still proceed! Our Father will rise again.” She wiped some blood out of her eyes. “It was Balthazar, wasn’t it? That…disgusting little traitor! You cannot mean to trust him!”

“Who says I trust him?” Zaerini asked. “Now, as for you…”

“Hold on, Little Rini!” That was Minsc, his bright and beaming smile looking very out of place on Viconia’s face. “Minsc has the healing thing all figured out now, and Boo agrees! Minsc will heal the Evil One who is Many, and Boo says we can in-terr-gate her after. Now watch, the glowy hand will do it!” Slender, dark fingers reached out for the trembling Sendai’s brow, just touching. There was a flash of light, and the Drow Bhaalspawn collapsed in a heap, her body rapidly dissolving into a cloud of glittering dust. “Oh,” Minsc said, frowning. “Or maybe it was the other glowy hand spell, Boo says.”

I’d certainly say so, Zaerini thought. Let’s hope I can get everyone sorted out properly before Minsc tries to heal one of us. Then, darkness closed in around her, and her consciousness was swept away into chaos, landing her in a very unexpected place indeed.


Rogues do it from behind.

#2 Theodur

Posted 22 August 2020 - 04:17 PM

 

Aha, the Attic is back online! Have a fresh chapter to celebrate with. 

 

 

Whatever happened to it, was certainly strange to suddenly have it just wiped away.

 

Yes, this made sense. This particular technique wasn’t something every illithid could master, but Mithykyl’s colony was quite old. Its Elder Brain had absorbed many thousands of its children upon death, all their knowledge and skills returning home to be used again as was best for the colony. Mithykyl’s hatching had been an experiment of sorts, the larvae that would eventually grow into Mithykyl had been deposited in the ear canal of a human with actual psionic powers of its own. As that larvae grew and feasted, it learned what it could, mixing and mingling knowledge. Humans were no match for illithid in raw power of course, but knowledge was always, always useful. Now it was time to apply that knowledge on a larger scale than before. The tunnels in this part of Sendai’s enclave were fairly narrow, twisting and turning back and forth, the perfect place for an ambush. Several lesser illithid had been sent ahead, a necessary sacrifice in order to draw attention. Now there were sounds of combat some distance ahead, and the presence of several non-illithid minds. Seven. Hmm. An even number would have been better, easier to cope with, but it couldn’t be helped. Mithykyl reached out carefully, so carefully, to taste the surface eddies and currents of those seven minds while they were otherwise distracted. Nothing invasive enough to be noticed, nothing as crude and basic as a psionic blast of pain. This was a delicate procedure, and one that needed to be carried out simultaneously on several minds at once at that. Still, eventually the matrix had been fully formed, and Mithykyl was prepared for transfer. There. Install, and…reboot.

 

 

Are they going to repeat the trick from the Underdark with pouring some strange Rashemani concoction on the mind flayers?

 

Before she could finish that thought, she looked into the assassin’s black eyes and saw them light up in a way that was simultaneously alien and oddly familiar. He was smiling too, a bright, relieved smile, and while the emotion itself wasn’t out of place given they’d just survived a fight to the death, that display of it seemed strangely obvious for him. “Hey, are you alright?” She asked and then she gave a muffled squeak as the assassin launched himself at her like a pouncing cat, wrapping her tightly in her arms and kissing her ardently. For a few seconds her mind just sparkled and fizzled with utter, utter shock and astonishment, and then she managed to push him away enough to give him an outraged glare.

 

 

Okay, I wasn't expecting that. If this is Sendai's plan to delay them, I guess it succeeded in that at least.

 

Imoen had got to her feet by now and was growling quietly. “I will slaughter whoever did this and DRINK THEIR BLOOD FROM THEIR OWN SKULLS! GIVE ME MY SWORD!” She staggered over to Sarevok with a grin of unholy glee on her face and tried in vain to yank his huge sword off his back. Sarevok barely seemed to notice and just swatted her away. She landed on the floor with an outraged shriek. Next to her, Viconia sat up, blinked and patted the pink-haired rogue on the head with a gentle smile.

 

“Not to worry, little Imoen! Minsc knows how to do sparkly feelgood magic now and will fix you up right away!”

 

 

Minsc as a healer would just frighten me. Though he can do some basic healing spells... I never could actually imagine him knowing what the hell to do with it.

 


“Maybe I should just get us back to the pocket plane?” Rini suggested. “I’ve got powers in there that I don’t have here, maybe I can sort you all out.”

 

“If you can’t, we’ll have wasted precious time though,” Sarevok said. “There is no telling what Sendai is doing right now.”

 

 

If she wasn't so scared, she'd be laughing her ass off.

 

Imoen, meanwhile, was having some difficulties of her own. As amazing as it was to be able to not just lift but to swing Sarevok’s great sword, she wasn’t really used to wielding it properly. Right now, she was trying to hold off a swarm of skeletons and fire elementals that were being summoned into a dangerous position behind the group. Dekaras was standing close by, still looking rather out of it. He had summoned a few skeletons of his own and was enthusiastically egging them on, but he kept wanting to make things explode and Edwin kept having to bodily grab him to keep him from landing a Fireball too close for comfort. As for Edwin, he was probably trying his best, but he really had no idea about how to fight as a rogue. He’d managed to find and draw a long dagger but was holding it rather awkwardly and hadn’t really managed to do more than scratch his opponents.

 

 

It feels as if they're doing much better than they should be. :) somehow!

 

“Fireball?” Dekaras croaked under him.

 

“Not NOW!” Edwin hissed, struggling to get to his feet and pull his father along by the collar while also attempting to keep the elementals at bay. He waved the dagger at them in what he hoped was a suitably intimidating manner, but he knew that would only work for so long. But I cannot fault him for currently having a one-track mind, Gods know what it must feel like to suddenly be able to access magic after so long…

 

 

Ironic, I seem to remember it always being the right time to Fireball as far as Edwin was concerned!

 


The cord rapidly retracted itself back into the handle, just the way it was designed to do. The hook end was firmly attached in the ceiling. The Edwin end was not firmly attached to anything, and so he was pulled rapidly into the air, screaming bloody murder as he went. Since he was still holding onto Dekaras, he was pulled along as well, though with greater equanimity than Edwin felt. In fact, he seemed to be laughing, which Edwin felt was a callous disregard for their current predicament. Eventually, they came to a halt, just beneath the cavern ceiling and entirely too high above the ground for Edwin’s comfort. Why, if I am inside his body, didn’t I get his head for heights? That is just plain unfair! Clearly jumping down was not an option, and he only hoped that they wouldn’t fall and end up splattered all over the ground. He was desperately clutching the mage’s robe with one hand, and the handle of the accursed grappling hook with the other, and he felt as if both his arms were about to be torn out their sockets at any moment. Far, far beneath them, the chaotic battle still raged.

 

 

Edwin makes a better Batman than Ben Affleck, that's for sure.


“Hold on, Little Rini!” That was Minsc, his bright and beaming smile looking very out of place on Viconia’s face. “Minsc has the healing thing all figured out now, and Boo agrees! Minsc will heal the Evil One who is Many, and Boo says we can in-terr-gate her after. Now watch, the glowy hand will do it!” Slender, dark fingers reached out for the trembling Sendai’s brow, just touching. There was a flash of light, and the Drow Bhaalspawn collapsed in a heap, her body rapidly dissolving into a cloud of glittering dust. “Oh,” Minsc said, frowning. “Or maybe it was the other glowy hand spell, Boo says.”

 

 

Well, at least it was a mercifully easy exit.

 


Edited by Theodur, 22 August 2020 - 04:18 PM.

The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold


#3 Laufey

Posted 24 August 2020 - 05:56 PM

 

 

Aha, the Attic is back online! Have a fresh chapter to celebrate with. 

 

 

Whatever happened to it, was certainly strange to suddenly have it just wiped away.

 

I hope it sticks around now. Also, I hope the spambots think it's still dead. 

 

Yes, this made sense. This particular technique wasn’t something every illithid could master, but Mithykyl’s colony was quite old. Its Elder Brain had absorbed many thousands of its children upon death, all their knowledge and skills returning home to be used again as was best for the colony. Mithykyl’s hatching had been an experiment of sorts, the larvae that would eventually grow into Mithykyl had been deposited in the ear canal of a human with actual psionic powers of its own. As that larvae grew and feasted, it learned what it could, mixing and mingling knowledge. Humans were no match for illithid in raw power of course, but knowledge was always, always useful. Now it was time to apply that knowledge on a larger scale than before. The tunnels in this part of Sendai’s enclave were fairly narrow, twisting and turning back and forth, the perfect place for an ambush. Several lesser illithid had been sent ahead, a necessary sacrifice in order to draw attention. Now there were sounds of combat some distance ahead, and the presence of several non-illithid minds. Seven. Hmm. An even number would have been better, easier to cope with, but it couldn’t be helped. Mithykyl reached out carefully, so carefully, to taste the surface eddies and currents of those seven minds while they were otherwise distracted. Nothing invasive enough to be noticed, nothing as crude and basic as a psionic blast of pain. This was a delicate procedure, and one that needed to be carried out simultaneously on several minds at once at that. Still, eventually the matrix had been fully formed, and Mithykyl was prepared for transfer. There. Install, and…reboot.

 

 

Are they going to repeat the trick from the Underdark with pouring some strange Rashemani concoction on the mind flayers?

Sorry, they're all out of that stuff. :) 

 

 

Before she could finish that thought, she looked into the assassin’s black eyes and saw them light up in a way that was simultaneously alien and oddly familiar. He was smiling too, a bright, relieved smile, and while the emotion itself wasn’t out of place given they’d just survived a fight to the death, that display of it seemed strangely obvious for him. “Hey, are you alright?” She asked and then she gave a muffled squeak as the assassin launched himself at her like a pouncing cat, wrapping her tightly in her arms and kissing her ardently. For a few seconds her mind just sparkled and fizzled with utter, utter shock and astonishment, and then she managed to push him away enough to give him an outraged glare.

 

 

Okay, I wasn't expecting that. If this is Sendai's plan to delay them, I guess it succeeded in that at least.

 

Absolutely! 

 

Imoen had got to her feet by now and was growling quietly. “I will slaughter whoever did this and DRINK THEIR BLOOD FROM THEIR OWN SKULLS! GIVE ME MY SWORD!” She staggered over to Sarevok with a grin of unholy glee on her face and tried in vain to yank his huge sword off his back. Sarevok barely seemed to notice and just swatted her away. She landed on the floor with an outraged shriek. Next to her, Viconia sat up, blinked and patted the pink-haired rogue on the head with a gentle smile.

 

“Not to worry, little Imoen! Minsc knows how to do sparkly feelgood magic now and will fix you up right away!”

 

 

Minsc as a healer would just frighten me. Though he can do some basic healing spells... I never could actually imagine him knowing what the hell to do with it.

 

I know, right? I can easily imagine him fusing all the patient's organs together. 

 


“Maybe I should just get us back to the pocket plane?” Rini suggested. “I’ve got powers in there that I don’t have here, maybe I can sort you all out.”

 

“If you can’t, we’ll have wasted precious time though,” Sarevok said. “There is no telling what Sendai is doing right now.”

 

 

If she wasn't so scared, she'd be laughing her ass off.

Pretty much. I know I was. :) 

 

 

Imoen, meanwhile, was having some difficulties of her own. As amazing as it was to be able to not just lift but to swing Sarevok’s great sword, she wasn’t really used to wielding it properly. Right now, she was trying to hold off a swarm of skeletons and fire elementals that were being summoned into a dangerous position behind the group. Dekaras was standing close by, still looking rather out of it. He had summoned a few skeletons of his own and was enthusiastically egging them on, but he kept wanting to make things explode and Edwin kept having to bodily grab him to keep him from landing a Fireball too close for comfort. As for Edwin, he was probably trying his best, but he really had no idea about how to fight as a rogue. He’d managed to find and draw a long dagger but was holding it rather awkwardly and hadn’t really managed to do more than scratch his opponents.

 

 

I

t feels as if they're doing much better than they should be. :) somehow!

They're alive at least, that's something. 

 

 

“Fireball?” Dekaras croaked under him.

 

“Not NOW!” Edwin hissed, struggling to get to his feet and pull his father along by the collar while also attempting to keep the elementals at bay. He waved the dagger at them in what he hoped was a suitably intimidating manner, but he knew that would only work for so long. But I cannot fault him for currently having a one-track mind, Gods know what it must feel like to suddenly be able to access magic after so long…

 

 

Ironic, I seem to remember it always being the right time to Fireball as far as Edwin was concerned!

But only when *he* is the one doing it!

 

 


The cord rapidly retracted itself back into the handle, just the way it was designed to do. The hook end was firmly attached in the ceiling. The Edwin end was not firmly attached to anything, and so he was pulled rapidly into the air, screaming bloody murder as he went. Since he was still holding onto Dekaras, he was pulled along as well, though with greater equanimity than Edwin felt. In fact, he seemed to be laughing, which Edwin felt was a callous disregard for their current predicament. Eventually, they came to a halt, just beneath the cavern ceiling and entirely too high above the ground for Edwin’s comfort. Why, if I am inside his body, didn’t I get his head for heights? That is just plain unfair! Clearly jumping down was not an option, and he only hoped that they wouldn’t fall and end up splattered all over the ground. He was desperately clutching the mage’s robe with one hand, and the handle of the accursed grappling hook with the other, and he felt as if both his arms were about to be torn out their sockets at any moment. Far, far beneath them, the chaotic battle still raged.

 

 

Edwin makes a better Batman than Ben Affleck, that's for sure.

I think his landing might be a little less graceful though. 

 


“Hold on, Little Rini!” That was Minsc, his bright and beaming smile looking very out of place on Viconia’s face. “Minsc has the healing thing all figured out now, and Boo agrees! Minsc will heal the Evil One who is Many, and Boo says we can in-terr-gate her after. Now watch, the glowy hand will do it!” Slender, dark fingers reached out for the trembling Sendai’s brow, just touching. There was a flash of light, and the Drow Bhaalspawn collapsed in a heap, her body rapidly dissolving into a cloud of glittering dust. “Oh,” Minsc said, frowning. “Or maybe it was the other glowy hand spell, Boo says.”

 

 

Well, at least it was a mercifully easy exit.

 

One Bhaalspawn down...a few more to go!

 

 


Rogues do it from behind.

#4 AlphaMonkey

Posted 29 August 2020 - 07:53 AM

So, do you remember when someone commented on your AO3, saying that this place was back up?

 

I forgot I use a different user-name there.

 

It was me. :D



#5 Laufey

Posted 01 September 2020 - 02:39 PM

So, do you remember when someone commented on your AO3, saying that this place was back up?

 

I forgot I use a different user-name there.

 

It was me. :D

Aha, that was you! :) Thanks for letting me know. Now let's hope the spambots doesn't find the place again, I had to purge dozens of them. 


Rogues do it from behind.




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