Twilight part 11 : The Mighty Demonic Skull!!
"So you're saying we can cook him?" Gerty said as she regarded the large fishlike corpse of the aboleth.
"Is there anything you won't eat?" Glyill snarled in disgust.
"Hey, everything tastes good laced with turnipsauce and a little garlic or curry," Gerty announced.
"But have you never wondered why no one wants to sleep in the bedroll next to you for days after one of your pig-outs?" Glyill smiled.
"Or why we won't let you sleep with your back to the fire?" Lenny chuckled.
"Oh, you are the greatest friends," Gerty pinked away a fake tear. "You give me space and keep me from rolling into the fire!"
"Something like that," Shivon said, looking up from his task. The young elven mage was in the process of determining where the aboleth's massive head could be separated from the body. After the nasty task of removing the head of carefully as possible, they would boil off the flesh in one of the hot-springs Lenny had found. Combined with Shivon's magic, the water might just be hot enough to do the trick. In the hours it would take, though, Glyill would have to cast many Zones of Sweet Air, no doubt.
"I don't get it," Gerty said. "We're working our butts off here, trying to get this fish fillet cooking and Vierna went out frolicking with Brimstone..."
"Vierna had to work out some issues," Shivon said, seeming more than a little concerned about his Drow lover.
"Ah, I know that," Gerty sighed, "but I wish she could have taken off after she had helped us get this head cooking."
Vierna sighed. She had been walking alongside the underground lake quite some time, until she found an outcropping of rock overlooking the dark waters of the lake until far into the distance. Now, she was sitting cross-legged on a large shale, her faithful Brimstone standing next to her, eyeing the waters with suspicion.
Yes... Yes, this is a lovely place, Vierna thought to herself once more. This cavern, as high as the highest buildings of Calimport, was lighted by illuminating lichen coating the walls. Eons of erosion by water had created this cavern, making it even older than the world of man... or even elf. To Vierna it was a monument of the beauty of nature which she cherished so dearly.
But Vierna would soon again be lost in thought, and again she thought back to her outburst of rage earlier this day... or night... She had completely lost track of time.
Suddenly a horrible thought crossed her mind. Could it be... some remnant of... of... No... no, Vierna considered. No, momma and daddy had dealt with him, but that thought scared her even more, because that would mean her rage came from within herself, not from some dead diety. She wondered how deep it was buried, but she did know she wanted no more of these outbursts. Mother... I could always talk with momma about these things... she thought sadly.
Noting his mistress' sad mood, Brimstone, laying next to her on the shale rock, shifted and put his head lazily on Vierna's leg, drawing a chuckle and a scratch behind the ear from the young Drow.
Vierna picked up a small stone and tossed it over the water. It skipped six times over the surface of the water before disappearing below the water.
SIX?! Only six?! Vierna groaned inwardly. I used to be much better, Vierna thought sadly, thinking back to her childhood, when she had skipped a stone over the surface of lake Dragonspur for no less than fourteen time. But that was a long time ago, almost thirty years, Vierna thought sadly.
"It's funny, you know," she told Brimstone, who looked up to his mistress. "When I was young, I wanted nothing more than to get on the road to adventure in faraway places. But now that my career as an adventurer has taken off, there's nothing more I want than to return home..."
"Wuf!" was Brimstone's short reply.
Vierna grinned. Yes, going home... When this adventure is over, I'm going home... And I'm going to stay there for at least a year... or two... or three... or ten... To strengthen my bond with Rauva... To pester my poor brother Valas while he's writing a play... To hang around momma and daddy discussing secrets of the trade... Yeah, I would like that...
But immediately, her thoughts drifted back to her friends. A year, or even a decade was only a fraction of the elven lifespan, but her friends... Would they like to take so long a sabbatical? She didn't think so... But maybe, they could take it easy for a while, using Keep De'Arnise as a base of operations and limit themselves to adventuring through the lands of Amn, Tethyr and the Sword Coast. She was certain there were plenty of jobs for them in that region...
"Come on, Brimstone," Vierna said while standing up. "We've got a job to do..." But when that job would be over, Vierna had decided that she would go home...
"Yo, V.!" Gerty greeted as Vierna and Brimstone entered the site where they had defeated the aboleth. Vierna chuckled as she noticed Gerty standing on top of the beheaded aboleth with a frying pan in her hands. "What do you think?" Gerty said as she held up the pan against the aboleth. "Big enough?"
"Not by a long shot," Vierna giggled.
"Damn, and I was so looking forward to a fish-dinner," Gerty said, while she slid off one of the aboleth's fins.
"Hey, Vierna," Shivon said, as the two lovers embraced, "are you well?"
"Yep," Vierna said as she buried herself in Shivon's arms. "I'm fine... but we still have a job to do. We still have to find the Flower of the Nightstalker. The Sharran Vampire pointed out where they grow on my map. It's not far from here..."
"The skull is almost fleshless, Vierna," Lenny said.
"Good thing too," Glyill added. "I'm almost out of spells..."
They soon found out why these flowers were named so. After walking down an oddly illuminated tunnel, they found the most awe-inspiring spectacle. A deep, narrow cleft in the rock face, revealed a small valley below, where literally millions of flowers were located : mostly at the bottom, some on the sides of the cliff. All the semi-large multi-petaled flowers glowed brightly, and filled the entire cavern with a bright halo of green light.
"Wow," Lenny said.
"Ditto," Shivon agreed.
"But how do we snatch one?" Vierna said. The tunnel ended abruptly into a straight drop down.
"Not to worry," Glyill said, and took out a magical grappling hook, a left-over from her previous profession. "I will take care of it..." She started to connect the hook to the rocky end of the tunnel.
"THERE?!" Gerty yelled. "Come on, why not that outcropping on that ledge there?"
"Gerty," Glyill snarled. "I have scaled a lot more ropes than you have. Let me handle it..."
"Oh, come on!" Gerty chuckled and snatched the hook, suffering protest and mild profanity from Glyill. Before she could be stopped, the gnome twirled the rope and tossed the grappling hook.
"NO!" Glyill yelled. "That outcropping is unstable!"
But it was too late. The hook connected with a small rock, which connected with a slightly bigger rock, which in turn connected... To make a long story short, Gerty's move ended up creating a massive landslide. As the party ran screaming through the collapsing tunnel, the light behind them dimmed, and was snuffed out. When the dust settled, all the flowers were buried under tons of rock...
"Great," Lenny said. "There goes the most beautiful spectacle in Faerun... Trust Gerty to wreck it..."
"Nice going, impatient fool," Glyill snarled.
"This is... so sad..." Shivon said. "All that beauty lost... All due to a single careless act..."
Vierna said nothing, but merely directed an icy 'Thanks-for-wiping-out-an-entire-species'-look towards Gerty.
"Sorry," Gerty said meekly.
"Hey!" a gruff voice sounded from near the party-collapsed exit of the tunnel. "Who's the idiot blowing up the place?"
Investigation yielded the fact that the cave-in had given access to semi-large room connected to more tunnels. After some acrobatics, Vierna had managed to lower herself down into new chamber, which seemed vaguely crypt-like.
"I am Raymur! The mi..." A voice started to say, then sighed. "Hey, I'm supposed to be the one with the empty eye-sockets! Over here!"
While the rest of Vierna's party lowered themselves in the chamber, Vierna noticed the source of the voice was in fact a rather plain-looking skull located a pedestal in the middle of the small crypt.
"I am Raymur! The mighty demonic skull! FEAR me! Fear me, for I shall devour you whole! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Uh-huh," Vierna snickered.
"With my powerful demonic might, I shall use your body as a vessel to expand my evil empire of bones and undead insects... and even more demonic entities... Like yuppies and people who use the word 'Prithee'!"
"Demonic, huh?" Vierna chuckled. "Okay, prove it! Do something demonic right now!"
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHUWM ?ouy rof hguone cinomed siht ,woN ?eh ,reveileb-non a , hA" Raymur threatened.
"Well, that's pretty demonic," Gerty added. "Now, can you shoot flames out of your butt? That's pretty demonic too..."
"If that's your standard, Gerty," Lenny chuckled. "Remind me to contact the Order of the Aster, and have them label your family-reunions of gatherings of evil..."
"Lenny open mouthy, should be shut," Gerty snickered. "Lest I jam a turnip down your throat."
"I get the feeling you're not taking me very seriously," Raymur snarled.
"Forgive me, my good, errr, skull," Vierna said. "We were only seeking the Flower of the Nightstalker. Might I ask how you came to this state? You behave much like a lich, but you lack the magical power signatures..."
"Well, I am a lich, I just wasn't good at all that magic stuff," Raymur snorted. "But demonic might on the other hand... MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Will you... please stop doing that?" Glyill snarled.
"How can you be a Lich and not be good at magic?" Shivon asked. "Those two are supposed to go together as a Jansen and a turnip..."
"You can thank a certain zombie-pirate who shall remain nameless (but he knows who he is...)," Raymur sighed.
"Still, that doesn't explain why you are a body-less head," Vierna hinted.
"Well, it's a funny story, really. I had been travelling over the seven seas as a mighty demonic lich for several decades, when we stopped at Booty Island, also known as Evermeet..." Raymur said. "There was this pirate carnival, you see? And there was this near-sighted elf who was trying to shoot an apple off the head of a pirate with a cannon... That's how I found out the elf was even more near-sighted than everyone suspected... And I was standing ten feet behind the elf firing the cannon himself!!! But my powers increased tenfold soon afterwards... MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Fascinating story," Shivon said. "You've been to Evermeet?"
"Yes, I have been to Evermeet," the skull said, being sufficiently annoyed. "Weren't you listening to the story? Perhaps the forces of darkness will applaud me, as I stride through the gates of the Abyss, carrying your head on a pike! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Hey, hey, hey!" Vierna said. "Don't you dare threaten my friends, or I'll just have to see how far I can throw you!"
"Go ahead, try it! My unfettered demonic might has made me OMNIPOTENT! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Really?" Gerty asked.
"Well, no... It's an absolute immunity-spell that backfired. The spell's effect is now permanent... But, sadly, my own magic won't work anymore either, so I've been stuck here for quite some time. I'm just lucky I can still float : I told you I wasn't good at that magic stuff. But the fact that you've changed the scenery might give some distraction... for about three seconds," Raymur sighed.
"Well, we really have to be going now. Find more of those flowers perhaps," Vierna said uneasily. "It's been swell, but..."
"Wait!" Raymur said. "I need to be among the lesser people, causing pain and misery! And if you take me through this damp maze, I just might know where there's one of those pesky flowers..."
Vierna gave it some thought. "Deal!" she suddenly said.
"Excuse me?" Lenny said. "Are you sure that is wise?"
"Oh, I have a pretty good idea where to bring him," Vierna grinned.
"Well, here we are," Vierna said, while the party stood on the edge of the Sharran controlled part of the Muzad, guarded by an imposing temple complex.
"Ah, this is PERFECT!" Raymur raved. "And excellent spot to begin my reign of terror! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Now it's your turn..." Vierna said.
"Oh, fine, fine. Just reach inside my skull," Raymur said. Vierna grimaced and did so... only to pull out a single glowing flower...
"You had it on you the whole time?" Gerty asked.
"Hey, would YOU tell somebody when you've got a flower growing in your skull? It's a rather embarrassing medical condition, after all!" Raymur said.
"I'll take some seeds," Vierna said, "and I'll attempt to plant these in another cavern when I get the chance. For the spell we'll only need the petals..."
"He's already gone, Vierna," Glyill chuckled as Raymur floated into the temple.
A few moments later several feminine shrieks could be heard, followed by the voice of Raymur. "I am RAYMUR! The mighty demonic skull! I shall devour you WHOLE!"
"Eeek!" several of the Sharran priestesses shouted simultaneously. "Get out of our dressing room!"
Lenny, Shivon, Glyill, Vierna and Gerty shared a look and a chuckle. "Well," Gerty said. "At least he's happy..."
Brimstone, who had been smelling the flower suddenly sneezed loudly, drawing even more chuckles.
"Well, it seems we're done here... Time to get back to..."
"Vierna!" Lenny suddenly shouted. "Look!"
Indeed, just behind them, a shimmering portal took form. Having nasty experiences with shimmering blue portals in the recent past, the party readied their weapons and prepared for a fight to the death. A female shape took from, and soon she stepped through the portal with high grace.
Immediately, Vierna's weapons dropped to the ground, and a cry of mixed joy, relief, but mostly embarrassment escaped for her mouth : "MOM?!!"