Thursday, January 17, 2013

EPISODE 73: Queen of Lies, Part V: Drow Crushers

August 5, 754 YE


Dziga the shadowdancing rogue, Emeris the shadowcasting shade, and Vatex the dancing slashing urban ranger elf assault the guard post at the bridge leading from Tower I to Tower III.

The guards and their lieutenant are brutally slaughtered. Across teh huge stone span to Tower III, they can see ranks of drow lining up to protect the gate, but apparently waiting for something.

Then Dr Trivon Llaron, a drow expert in the field of hormonal therapy, steps through the ranks with two particularly big bugbears at his side. Dr Trivon says that he has biologically engineered a special rage hormone that causes the bugbears to become insanely powerful during their barbarian rages! He says he will prove the effectiveness of the hormone by crushing these surface attackers with his bugbears. Then House Vrama will put his hormone into mass production and create an army of super-bugbear barbarians. And he will become the greatest drow doctor...ever!

As the bugbears get ready to charge across the bridge, Emeris throws up shadow barriers in their way. Dr Trivon spazzes out, saying he is ruining the test! He orders guards to find some wizards who can dispel the barriers. The only wizards immediately available are unable to overcome Emeris’ shadow magic. The doctor, bugbears, and guards fall back... but Emeris goes invisible, teleports across the bridge, and nukes the guard post with a maximized blast of killing shadows! He blows away a couple of driders, a ballista crew, a cluster of guards, and injures the doctor and one of his barbarians. Emeris teleports back.

After the barriers go down, the battle really gets crazy. The Rosegate Company faces hordes of drow troops on the bridge, clerical and sorcerous driders, and deadly ninja squads. But that pales against the challenge they face when the bugbear barbarians come back, fully healed and ready to fight.

As the bugbears fighrt Dziga and Vatex, they begin to rage. Their blows become devastating and their reslience to damage becomes truly incredible. Dziga is forced to use the Deathstrike Bracers to even make them flinch. Vatex unleashes the most powerful attack sequences he can muster. The bugbears wear only leather armor, but their flesh is like stone.

Emeris’ aid would be beneficial, but emerging behind the group from Tower I is a drow gadgeteer and an entourage of Gorgoth-lol’s freedom paladins and he must face them. The gadgeteer first attempts to kill Emeris quickly with his Wand Gattler, which fires five lightning bolt ones on a single discharge. Emeris’ mighty spell resistance as a shade leaves him completely unscathed. As the crusaders attack him, the gadgeteer uses a different device which fires glob of burning plasma.  

Dziga and Vatex are battered and bloody, but they manage to take down the bugbear barbarians. Dr Trivon can’t believe it! He retreats into Tower III, vowing that they haven’t seen the last of him.

Emeris absorbs chaos crusader souls with the Shadowgeist Reaver, then goes after the gadgeteer who hits him a couple of times with plasma blasts. But it is not long before his soul too feeds the shadowgeist reaver.


The group falls back to heal and decide what to do. They hide when they hear someone coming. It’s an illithid coming down the stairs. They jump out of hiding and it pleads for its life, saying its just a visitor from a faraway illthid city and it just wants to flee.

They let the mind flayer go,  but not without surrendering some information. They learn the following:

> There is a drow ninja dojo in Tower III.
> There is a temple of Gorgoth-lol in the basement of Tower I.
> The leader of Ul-Drakkan and House Vrama is Alvolenz. The illithid is afraid of her power. Some say she is a half-demon, or a succubus in disguise. There is even the rumor that Alvolenz is a ZAUG, which is a low level Galchutt entity. Her chamber is at the top of Tower I. In any case, she is believed to be super-powerful. She uses both arcane AND divine magic.
> Ul-Drakkan was abandoned only a few years ago, and House Vrama in shambles. But Alvolenz reinvigorated the House, took back the fortress, and has overseen great improvement in the House’s finances.  
> Alvolenz has been visited by a mysterious masked illthid called “The Architech”. The nature of those visits is unknown. Nor is much known about the ostensibly unaffiliated Architech, except even other mind flayers are afraid of it.

They decide that although it would be fun to hunt down Dr Trivon and kill him in Tower III, it would be best to try and attack Alvolenz. They figure she is probably at the top of Tower I, so they head there.

They head up one level, and Dziga disables a series of traps. They find the chamber of a weird dark elf shadowcaster called Minilir, whose chamber is lined with shelves full of weird scuptures and figurines. For Dziga, some of these sculptures evoke the weird statue in the Rat God Temple, and the weird star-headed thing that manifested from his dreams.

Minilir seems to want no direct confrontation, but he doesn’t help them either. He reveals his is Alvolenz’s councilor. He denies the claim that she is a demon or a zaug, and finds those rumors amusing. He says if they try to fight her, they will die.

Dziga asks about the star-headed thing, and Minilir says they are a race of beings called “tyranthraxi” or “soul riders”  that can attach to other people’s souls. They have mastered the ability to travel not only through space, but through time as well. Not much is known about them.

They leave Minilir and trigger a trap in an adjacent corridor that causes a chaos spawn called a blorgoth to attack them. The blorgoth attacks with blasts of raw chaos power. It seems to distort reality around it, making it difficult to injure. Dziga and Vatex weaken it with a flurry of attacks, then Emeris attempts to absorb its soul.

OUCH! The Shadowgeist Reaver absorbs the ‘soul’ or whatever the chaos spawn possesses. Emeris’ great mind resists the mental trauma, but his body is affected right down at the cellular level -- the power of chaos MUTATES HIM! But, arguably, it ends up being the best mutation you can get -- a mutation that makes him more resistant to mutation. Score!

NEXT TIME: The showdown with Alvolenz and her guardians! But is there another power behind House Vrama's rise? Maybe. Will Ul-Drakkan and House Vrama be toppled for good?

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