After that story by Jan, the party staggered over into the Copper Coronet.
Nalia: OOO...I feel like I've been hit on the head. Several times.
Hellocthul: OOO...me too, sweetheart. Here, lean on me.
Anomen: Hello there, fair lady,...Nalia? Nalia De'Arnise? Lady Nalia, what are you doing in this den of filth and inequity?
Yoshimo, in a low whisper: I did not think people used the word "inequity" in an actual sentence.
Jaheira: Only if they get brainwashed by Helm's Witnesses. Sad, sad state of affairs.
Nalia: Little Ano! Little Ano Delryn! What are you doing here? What, weekly meeting of the Drizzt-teers cancelled? (giggle)
Anomen: I no longer belong to that infantile organization. I have burned my little Drizzt ears and no longer watch the insipid weekly episode of Drizzt Do'Urden Club on the crystal ball. I no longer sing that atrocious song wherever I go.
Who's the coolest drow that ranges far, just for you and me?
D-R-I-Z-Z-T-D-O-Apostrophy-U-R-D-E-N ('cause only cool heros have apostrophys!)
Drizzt Do'Urden, Drizzt Do'Urden,
(In a falsetto, Anomen sings the Cattie Brie counterpoint.) Cattie Brie, Cattie Brie!
We can throw Wulfgar's Hammer High, High, High, High, High!!
So Come along and join the fun, Drow Ears for you and me,
Drizzt Do'Urden, Drizzt Do'Urden,(Cattie Brie, Cattie Brie!)
Yay Drizzt! Yay Drizzt!
Nalia: Urm, Ano, you just sang the song.
Anomen: I most certainly did not. Anyway, what are you doing here? I have no doubt that your aunt and father would not approve. And who is this vision of beauty you are with? Surely such an enchanting creature must have some good and worthy quest appropriate for a novitiate knight of Helm! Surely she needs the strong arm and...
Jaheira: Weak brain. (Jan giggles at Anomen's expression)
Anomen: And the valor of a Man such as myself to shield her from the dangers of a world that desperately needs the strong firm hand of the Order. (he glares at Jaheira)
Jan: Isn't it amazing that he was able to get all that out in one lungful of air? What is hidden inside that platemail armor, anyway? A strap on lung? (Jaheira coughs, hiding a giggle)
Nalia: HEY! Who do you think you are, you male egotist, stuck up poopie-head! (Blush) This is my girlfriend, and she doesn't need a man, she has me! And she certainly doesn't need a "shield", she can whip your tush (blush again) with both hands tied behind her back and blindfolded!
Anomen: Miss Nalia, I am certainly aware she is your girlfriend, but what I was saying is that it is the natural order of things that Heros such as myself should become the defenders of such beautiful women as your friend, and that often times such situations lead to love and the sanctity of marriage.
Hellocthul: He just doesn't get it, does he?
Hellocthul holds Nalia in her arms, and gives her a deep and passionate kiss. Nalia's knees are visibly trembling when they come up for air.
Jaheira holds up a cardboard sign with 8 written on it: Good form, good control, and even some tongue. You get an eight from the Tethyr judge.
Jan holds up a 7: Well, you could have worked up a turnip theme somehow, otherwise a good one!
Yoshimo holds up a 6: Needs more work. The Kuran-Tur judge votes a 6.
Minsc holds up a 9: Boo says you are both excellent kissers! From Roshamon a nine!
Anomen looks like someone just hit him on the back of the head with a wooden board. (Only Jaheira notices Jan tucking a wooden 4 by 4 into his tunic.)
Anomen: BUT, BUT, YOU ARE BOTH WOMEN!!! Oh crap, just when I thought I was finally going to get some nookie!!! Its just not fair!!! Waaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!
Jaheira quickly lifts Jan up in her arms as he pulls a paper packet out of his robes. He carefully tears open the packet, and drops the powder down the back of Anomen's Platemail Chest plate as Jaheira holds Jan up high enough to reach it.
Anomen stops blubbering, and suddenly gets a surprised look on his face.
Jan: Now lassie, is a Knight of Helm smart enough to remove his armor before trying to scratch an itch???
Nalia: Nope, I guess not. Opse, now he's taking off his armor. Now he is taking off his shirt, and now he is taking off...OH MY GOSH! (Nalia is giggling and blushing at the same time)
Jan: Amazing potency, I must remember to note this recipe down.
Jaheira: Just what is the recipe? I know I am going to regret this, but what is it?
Jan: Troll Lice Eggs. They instantly hatch when they contact moisture.
Nalia: JAN! Do you know how they de-louse people? Especially troll lice, which can regenerate!!! First they give him a bath in this lye based solution that will give him a rash all over his body, next they shave off every bit of his hair, and they make him live alone for a month. Hahahahahhahaha!!!
Hellocthul: Let me repeat again Jan, welcome aboard!
After Hellocthul orders up some lunch, and ale for herself, minsc, Jan and Yoshimo, and some nice elven wine for Jaheira and Nalia, they toasted the humiliation of the Roenalls.
Nalia: Isn't it so free and so open on the road? I can trust any of you with my life, in fact I do, and you trust me with yours. It was never this free back in my family keep.
Hellocthul and Jaheira looked at each other, and nodded. Time enough later to tell Nalia of their suspicions about Yoshimo, how "fortunate" he came by when he did. So far he has not done anything to prove their suspicions one way or another.
Lethanian: Well, it looks to me like a fine bunch of adventuring friends, I assume. It looks to me like you can use some, ahem...excitement.
After the party found out what Lethanian had in the back rooms, lunch was forgotten as they headed for the beast master's quarters.
As the fireball left Nalia's fingers, the beast master and all his animals fried in a surge of superheated air. Hellocthul used a low powered cone of cold to damp out the blaze.
Nalia: Look, an enchanted Tulgan Bow! Wow! I've never seen such craftmanship before!
Hellocthul: Its yours, and has anyone found the key yet? (The party was poking the charred embers of the beast master's quarters with their swords. One of the nastier effects of the fairly common fire based destruction spells was the charred state most of the loot ended up in. Fortunately magic gear usually survived a roasting. )
After Hendyk killed the slave master Lethanian, they set off to rescue the child slaves.
At the foot of the stairs, the party readies their weapons. Minsc is hefting Lilacor, trying to find the right balance for the large and heavy two handed sword.
Lilacor: Hey, that tickles! Not there, you idiot, up a little higher! You're choking me! Gasp, puff...puff!
Hellocthul: Nalia, meteors, and short sword. Minsc and I will hit the main body. Jaheira, take out any spell casters with insects. Jan, a mirror image to confuse our numbers. And Yoshimo, take Nalia's bow for a while, and you cover us. Game Faces, everyone!
Nalia felt the skin tightening effects of the stoneskin spell. Her skin felt like it was stretched and hard, like it was cracking under heat, but without pain. And whenever she moved, she felt like her joints were covered with tiny grit, which squeeked and cracked like tiny crystals of rock rubbing against each other whenever she made a gesture. She took her lightly enchanted short sword in her left hand, and tried to make her gestures as gracefully as Hellocthul as she cast Melf Minute Meteors with her right hand.
The party burst out of the long neglected sewer door in the slaver compound. Hellocthul and Minsc were whirling dervishes of destruction as their enchanted swords cut thru the leather armor of the slavers like cardboard. The slavers had a mage among them, who fell quickly to Nalia's meteors after he was hit by a swarm of biting, stinging insects, which prevented him from raising magical protections. After the last of them were down, they heard a childish scream of fear.
Hellocthul: Minsc, the door!!! Jae, find the key!
As Minsc and Hellocthul bashed the door with their boots trying to force it open(the knock spell Nalia cast failed), Jaheira found the key to the enchanted door, and Minsc and Hellocthul rushed in to see a scene of horror.
In a room filled with heartbreakingly small bones, two hungry trolls were advancing on a little 10 year old girl, dressed in dirty rags.
Hellocthul sprinted in front of the little girl, and involked the rune of Chain Contingency. She instantly selected Abi Dahzim spells, and chose the conditions for their invocation.
Instantly, the trolls were surrounded by the clouds of magical energy, manifesting itself as ochre clouds of dense smoke. The spell targetted any creatures or enemies with hostile intentions tword the caster, and the trolls stopped, as their bodies began to shrivel and shrink as all the water in their flesh was extracted by the deadly spell. They fell over, wrinked and shrunken like mummies, and Nalia placed two minute meteors in each skull.
The little girl instantly ran to Nalia, the only woman in the party who wasn't covered with blood, and began to cry.
Hellocthul cast multiple farsights, assessing the deployment of the remaining slavers. The group had a quick conference.
Hellocthul: We have two groups left, one in the main room up north, and a couple of snakes in the side room. We also have some more kids in the cells to the side.
Weeping Child: Those are my friends, Ari and Shauna. P..pppp...pplease save them, ma'am!
Nalia: Don't worry, Hellocthul is a very powerful warrior and sorceress. We are going to save your friends, and make all the bad ones go away. I promise.
Hellocthul shaped her fingers into the spell, and muttered the vocal component of the Evocation spell. The eye-hurting black lethal form of the black blade of disaster formed from her right hand.
Jaheira: That weapon will drain their souls into the Negative Energy Plane. A fate far worse than death. I approve, Hellocthul, those slaver scum will know the horrors of the Abyss first hand tonight!!!
Jan quickly disarmed the traps guarding the rest of the compound, and the slaver guard captain's key released Ari and Shauna, who like their friend Miki, ran over and clung to Nalia.
Hellocthul: Mislead time, Jae, the snakes. Everyone else, except Yoshimo, pull back a bit. I really want to introduce these slavers to Orcus personally.
Hellocthul cast improved haste, and mislead on herself. As the decoy containing the shadow and form of the caster appeared next to Hellocthul, Nalia reached out and grabbed it by the hand, preventing it from shadowing Hellocthul, giving her presense away to the slavers. As the invisible Hellocthul crouched and moved tword the remaining slavers, her decoy mimiced her every move, but was prevented from rejoining its source by Nalia. Hellocthul attacked the remaining slavers, while Jaheira killed the Yuan ti in the next room.
Hellocthul attacked the remaining slaver guards, who died with surprise on their faces. The mislead spell "blinked" the sorceress between true invisibility, and improved invisibility. True invisibility, despite the name, really had nothing to do with sight or appearance. The invisible spellcaster was simply forgotten by any observers as ever being there at all. Improved invisibility merely blended the caster with the background, thus movement was detectable by enemies, but the difficulty of simply seeing the caster clearly made the fighter-mage, with improved invisibility deadly difficult to defeat. The mislead spell "blinked" Hellocthul between improved invisibility, whenever she attacked, to true invisibility when she finished her opponent and spun to the next one. The combination of a target barely seen at, and instantly forgetting she existed at all disoriented and confused the slaver guards, who fell like rows of wheat to a scythe. The black blade parted flesh, bone and armor like tissue.
The mage who was obviously the leader proved different. He started casting a spell, and Hellocthul threw her left handed sword at the mage. The sword bounced off several inches from the mage. She grabbed a plain steel shuriken from her belt, and threw it at the mage. The shuriken punched through the protection from magic weapons spell. The mage, even though he was protected by a stoneskin spell, was still human, and flinched from the metal star coming straight for his eyes, and lost the spell. The violet rays of a breach spell took care of the mage leader's spelled protections. Hellocthul sliced off the mage's right hand with the blade of searing she had in her left hand. The burning blade instantly cauterized the stump.
Hellocthul: Talk! Who is your patron, and your boss!!! Talk now and I won't feed your soul to my little friend here...(The black sword hissed and screamed its protest at being denied. The mage knew enough magic to know his soul was forfeit unless he complied)
Slaver Mage: We...we..serve the Twisted Rune, in all things. And we obey the Strong Ones, in the temple district, next to the Temple of Lathander...
Hellocthul then pulled out a steel dagger, and buried it in his right eye.
Nalia just stood there, shaking.
Hellocthul: I promised not to feed him to the black blade, I never promised to spare his life. Are you ok?
Nalia: No, not that, he said "Strong Ones"...like Torgal said, the "Stronger"...
Jaheira came in, wiping down her scimatars with a rag. She saw Hellocthul and Minsc start searching through the large pile of bodies. She lifted an eyebrow at the number of corpses.
Jaheira: Impressive. Who are you, "Lina Inverse"???
Hellocthul smiled at their old joke.
The party took the children to the Copper Coronet, where Hendak promised to arrange passage for the children on a trading ship he trusted. Hellocthul gave Hendak 500 gold to defray the costs. The former slaves had decided to run the inn until everyone had enough money to go home again, or enough to arrange for their families to join them in Amn. But tonite, of all nights, it was time for a celebration for their freedom and lives.
Hendak gave the party some of Lethian's loot, including a nice suit of platemail that Jaheira claimed immediately. So the party decided to sell some of their loot from De' Arnise hold tomorrow, and visit the dwarf Cromwell in the docks to get the suit fitted for Jaheira. Then take a look at the government district. The party settled down on comfortable chairs, eating their supper, since by now it was dusk. And to drink, of course.
Hendak sat with them, still trying to adjust to finally being free. He told the party about his former life in the highlands of the north, where he herded reindeer and mooses in the frozen fields of the Icewinds of Dale. He spoke of his guard moose, Anargh, and how he and his sons depended on the trained and intelligent moose to act like a guard dog.
Jan: You know, my sister was bit by a moose once....
He was pelted by bacon rinds and small bones.
As the party left the Coronet, the final event put the perfect capper on the entire evening. A wailing voice cried out "MMMMOOOMMMMMMMYYY!!!!! MOIRRRRRRA!!!" and they heard the familar voice of Anomen passing by the entrance of the tavern, and the sounds of booted feet chasing him, with shouts of public indecency and orders to halt in the name of the guard.
Nalia: It really was an aweful thing to do to him. He is going to lose his beard and moustache, and I still remember him trying to grow one as a child. Heehahhahhahah!!!
Hellocthul: Nobody messes with my girl. Lets go, honey.
Hello Cthulhu #10
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