Standing over 50 feet above the water, wondering what they should do next "I donít have the right spells" Tariel contended when the topic of heading into the salty depths to take on the brine dragon came up. Suddenly they all heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps behind them, footsteps of an individual clad in heavy armor. Quickly, they all turned around, readying their weapons. They saw a short, stoutish man with long read hair, pulled back in a pony-tail, wearing gleaming armor adorned with the Mandalorian symbol of Yahr, holding out a massive sword that illuminated his way. "Who goes there?" Shouted out Dr. Midnight. "Ah, yes, Dr. Midnight, good to see you are still alive. I am Rimer Harlis, divinate of Yahr. I am here for justice, much like yourself." He continued his slow, methodical pace towards them, not a trace of doubt or fear in his eyes, however, his teeth were chattering and the breath was quite visible from his mouth. "Who are these individuals with you." "Well Roundy," Dr. Midnight spoke, "this is the beautiful Tariel, priestess of...., " "Ursolas" Tariel chimed in "oh yeah, and this is Reynald, and this is ...." he pointed at Tasgi " I donít believe Iíve met you." Tasgi smiled "My names Tasgi, Dr. Midnight, Iím pleased to meet you and Roundy." "Okay, Tasgi, pleased to meet you. And this is Keldrake." Dr, Midnight scowled in Keldrakeís direction. "So what took you so long Roundy?" Dr. Midnight directed his question at Rimer. Rimer stopped for a moment and turned around, looking to see who thsi question was directed at. Realizing he was being referred to as Roundy, Rimer continued walking "I am not Roundy, Roundy is dead." He brought his hands up and performed some somatic components for a spell, and as far as everyone could tell, nothing happened. "Sure Roundy, I think I know where youíve been, in the pickle juice." With that he turned back towards the rest of his party and rolled his eyes. Tasgi smiled quite broadly. "Anywayí began Rimer "what are you doing, shall we not continue the search for Acheronius?" "Ummm, yeah, well weíre wondering what to do about the brine dragon" tariel giggled, and she took her blanket, which Reynald currently had stuffed into his pack, out and handed it to Rimer "Sorry you,re so cold, Iíd help you but I donít have any spells left. "Thanks. Well, waht is stopping us from an assault upon this dragon?" Rimer asked. Everyone stepped aside and pointed down into the chasm of the steel tower. Rimer cautiously approached and he heard the sounds of water lapping against the side of the tower. "Oh." "Well, we shouldnít just sit here and wait, we should go explore or something." Taril stamped her feet down to get everyoneís attention. "Weíve still got more riddles or something to figure out." She huffed, snapping everyoneís attention back from the water below. "Yahr has told me that the we must enter the water to make our way to the Fortress of Conclusion." Rimer spoke. "Well, we canít right now!" Tariel answered. "We should keep exploring, maybe we can find the Darkweaver." With that they discussed how to get across the floor-less tower to the bridges they saw entrances to. Tasgi volunteered to cast fly on everyone, and this went by without too much of a hitch. They all proceeded to fly towards one of the exits and found a bridge leading to a black crystal-like tower, taller then the rest. They stayed close to the bridge, lest they attract the attention of the bat-like creatures. As they got closer to the tower they did not find any entrance, rather they saw a very narrow staircase heading down into the blackness below.
Instead of flying down into the depths, they decided to try the other exit from the water tower. They came upon a tower whose function seemed to be medical at some point, evidenced by the very strange, very unsettling machine suitable for a person to step into. Glowing green globes, several; of which were shattered were all around the contraption, and as they ventured into other rooms, found a grey human looking being. With Tasgiís help thwy were able to understand her (Dr. Midnight recognized her white jackets as being medical) and she noticed they were slightly battered and offered to take them to the Dr. who would gladly help them. She led them upstairs and into a room filled with beds. Attached to the ceiling was a human/ machine amalgam, the upper half of which was human and the bottom half (which was connected by a long metal arm0 was metal, complete with multiple knives and needles and... all sorts of fun medical stuff). When they entered the room the Dr. silently moved down from the ceiling and the nurse directed Dr. Midnight to sit down and his injuries would be tended to. She also directed everyone else to lie down and the Dr. would give them a complete physical. As Dr. Midnight sat on the bed, the Dr. approached and a light green mist shot from his metallic body. Dr. Midnight immediately fell down on the bed, in a deep slumber. The doctor then began taking off his shirt and prodding him and as everyone else thought about their own medical conditions, they were horrified to watch the bad Dr. start savagely cutting up the good Dr. Reynald was quick to aid Dr. Midnight, firing a bolt of concussive force at the "Dr." slightly jarring him, but he continued his medical procedures. Keldrake and Rimer ran to aid Dr. Midnight, and when the slicing dicing Dr. turned to face them, the green mist shot forth and this time Rimer fell to the ground in s slumber. The nurse ran to detain Reynald, and in a panic he created a magical web around her. Due to her brutish strength, this merely slowed her for a moment and she took out a gleaming scalpel and began slashing at him. The bad Dr.ís many blades were cutting Keldrake to ribbons, but he continued swinging at the creature, ignoring the many wounds that the Dr. had given him. Tasgi attempted to cast a spell at the nurse attacking Reynald, but instead a wild surge surrounded Keldrake, but there was no visible effect. Keldrake finally stopped the Dr.ís attacks and Reynald and tasgi defeated the nurse, both of whom, after being defeated turned into amorphous liquid that sizzled away. Very creepy.
With Rimer and Dr. Midnight asleep they placed them under the covers of one of the beds and Keldrake remembered seeing wooden dressers in the rooms downstairs and ran to get one. With his small axe he took out of his pack, he chopped the dresser up and Tariel started a small fire in this high ceilinged room. Tasgi prepared them all some simple soup, that wasnít that simple at all. The subtle flavors lingered long after the warm broth went down their throats. They waited patiently for Dr. Midnight and Rimer to awaken. When these two bruiser finally did wake up, everyone else was ready to hit the hay themselves. Rimer told them that because of his being unconcious he still had to sleep for a full night, so Kleldrake volunteered for the first watch. After hsi watch, he woek Dr. Midnight up and crawled into the small tent where tasgi and tariel were sleeping and curled up next to Tariel. This incensed Dr. midnight to no end, and after a bit of fuming (and watching the semi-conscious Tariel and keldrake snuggle, he waited until it looked like Keldrake was asleep and squeezed between the two of them. Curling up next to the lovely Tariel, Dr. Midnight gently held her in his arms and slumber over-took him. Keldrake was the first to wake up, and seeing the man who as supposed to be guarding them as they slept, asleeep next to him, he punched Dr. Midnight in the side. Dr Midnight quickly woke up and jumped into air with a cry of "Justice!" Everyone argued for some time, but ultimately no one was hurt during the night, and quite red-faced Dr. Midnight promised to never let it happen again and sulked around a bit outside the room.
After the spellcastersí prayers and study, Tasgi made them a hearty breakfast and Rimer called Dr. Midnight over to him. To everyoneís surprise, in a moment, Dr. midnight backed away from Rimer with a shout of "Donít touch me Roundy!" this shocked everyone quite a bit and when Tariel asked waht was wrong, Dr. midnight reamed her a new one "What do you want to know for, trying to get somo more cock. Always looking for cock, for any opening really." This berating continued for some time, with tariel reduced to rtears and hiding behind tasgi. Rimer looked quite shocked and when Tasgi asked what was wrong, Rimer said he thought Dr. midnight was under some sort of curse. Reynald cautiously approached Dr. midnight and the good Dr. embarced him "Friend Reynald, good to see that youíve not lost your head. Letís say you me and keldrake havwe soem of that liquor Keldrakeís always drinking. Gods, I could really use a drink." With his arm around Reynald, the two of them sat down on one of eth beds and began having quite an animated, enjoyable diiscussion. Some time passed and Dr. Midnight stood up and looked perturbed that reynal;d was sitting next to him. When he approached Tariel, she shrieked and ran behind tasgi. "Beautiful Tariel, what is wrong?" Dr. midnight asked. "I think the curse has been lifted, Rimer reported with a sigh. That done with they began discussing plans for an assault upon the dragon. With all their spellsprepared, they haeded back to the water tower. Reynald would stay up top with tariel mentally linked to him, in case something went wrong, there was no need for them all to be trapped, or worse, dead. They all stripped down to their bare essentials, which basically included a single weapon, and soem undergarments. When Tasgi took out his wand and asked if anyone wanted and magical protection, Rimer asked if that wand was one of magical protection. Tasgi looked around at his comrades and respopnded with "Yes, would you like some." "Sure," Rimer answered. With that, tasgi pointed the wand and spoke itís activation words "Wand of Wonder" and sure enough, Rimer was now protected. Realizing he might be able to suffer less fatigue thsi way, he asked if other folks wanted similiar protections, to which they all responded yes. Keldrake was next, but instead of his skin becoming as hard as a rock, the wild magic surged around him and several moles grew on his face along with soem acne and everyone looked at him in horror, without trying to give away what had happened. Tasgi quickly tried again, and again, it did not work, finally he cast the spell himself, thinking to himself that Keldrake seems to be a magnet for wild-surges.
Finally, protected from the cold, made able to move easily in the water, able to breath in the briny depths, Rimer cast a spell that would lead them right to whatever was necessary for them to move onto the next puzzle. They descended the ladder into the water and with Tarielís spells did not feel the cold, though they knew how deadly it would be otherwise. As they swam into the depths with Rimer leading the way, the very salty water stung their eyes. The entered a huge cavern under the water and Rimer led them to a room where they saw the great brine dragon, eyes closed in slumber. He lay upon a massive treasure, and his tail was wrapped around white pillar atop which rest a shining silver key. The goal not being the treasure, Rimer swan towards the key, and as he approached, his sword clanged against the pillar and the beasts eyes opened. Rimer quickly grabbed thekey, but before he could retreat the dragonís mouth opened and he exhaled a cloud of acidic salt. Luckily, Rimer had read a protective scroll before they entered the water, but the rest of the party felt the acidís sting. Dr. Midnight, who couldnít swim, but thanks to Tarielís magic was able to move freely under the water, ran towards the beast and slashed towards its eye with his rapier. The beast pushed itself into motion and bit at him and swam towards Rimer. Dr. Midnight tried to stab again in the eye, but the beast moved too fast. It slammed Rimer into the wall just as Rimer called upon Yahr to create a wall of blades where the dragon had been. The dragonís great tail snapped to the left and avoided being caught in the blades and Rimer and Dr. Midnight swung their swords at it. Tasgi started cast a spell at it, but as the magical arrows struck the beast, they dissipated. The brute strength and battle prowess of Rimer and Dr. Midnight brought the creature down in a short time, but not before it had done quite a bit of damage to the party, casting several acidic arrows at Tasgi and attacking with itís powerful jaws and massive tail. As Rimerís sword sunk into the beasts skull, it fell back, and itís weight knocked Dr. Midnight through the wall of blades. The protective spell Tasgi had cast on him stopped the blades from cutting, and being in relatively sound condition, he closed his eyes and swam back towards the wall which Rimer dispelled. Having a dead dragon, the party did what most parties do, they began to loot the hoard. Tasgi cast a spell finding the best items (those that were magical) and stuffed them into a bag), and they began to exit. On the way out, they caught sight of some runes they must have missed on their way in. As tariel began to read them, a funny (not funny haha funny, funny peculiar, bad funny) came over all of them. Their spells were dispelling. Quickly, Rimer swam back to grab Tariel, Keldrake began swimming out of the cavern towards the surface, Dr. Midnight motioned to Tasgi to put away his glowing dagger, instead Tasgi grabbed dr. Midnight and with his last breath, shouted out "Wand of Wonder" trying to teleport them to the platform at the towerís entrance. Holding onto Tariel, Rimer began to swim out of the tunnel, thanks to Reynaldís necklace, which he had borrowed, he was still able to breathe, but the extreme cold was making it close to impossible to keep swimming. Tasgia nd Dr. Midnight teleported out, but not before they felt the effects of the cold. Those swimming to the surface knew that they were in a race against time. Rimer and pushed toward the surface, but Tariel fell limp in his arms, each stroke made him more tired, and it seemed death was sure to come. Finally his head emerged into the air and he swam to the ladder yelling for Reynaldís help with Tariel. Reynald cast a spell of flying and flew down grabbing Tariel whiel Rimer climbed the ladder, his joints freezing because of the cold, his fingers blue. When he got to the top, he looked around, and Keldrake had not yet made his way to the safety. He held his sword out over the water and saw a body floating. With no hesitation he jumped off the ledge. He tried to pull himself into a dive, but landed quite ungracefully, a 70 foot belly-flop, somebody call Guiness. He grabbed Keldrakeís body, which by now was blue and used the remaining strength in his body to get them to the ladder. As he hung on for his life, Rimer again called out for Reynald to come get another frozen body. Meanwhile, dr Midnight was huiddling over Tariel trying to warm her body, and beacuse tasgi had spent most his energy already casting spells, he wodul not be able to allow them all to fly. He created an invisible bridge, that was quite slippery, but he made his way across without any problems. Dr. Midnight, who had not suffered any cold damage (miraculously his spell warding off the cold had remained) grabbed Keldrake and began to make his way over the bridge. About halfway across, he lost his footing and as he started dropping, he tried to open up his cloak into bat wings, but was unable and he and Keldrakeís body his the water hard. Unable to swim, he began sinking until Reynald flew down to drag the two of them towards the ladder. Eventually they all made their way across the bridge, and fighting back death, they pushed on as fast as they could into the Medical tower. Reynald flew ahead and began afire for them. When they finally got to the room they had previously camped in, they all looked ready to die. Rimer sat down by the fire, Tarielís body was wrapped up and pulled close to the fire, and when they looked at Kerldrake they noticed that he was missing an ear, it had been snapped clean off after having been frozen. Eventually, Rimer and Tasgi fought back enough of the cold to make them less worried abut death and Tariel eventually gained consciousness. Tariel took out her her magiacl rod and stood over Keldrakeís body and restored life to him. Luckily the magics contained within, brought him back in full health (though that ear was till missing). Thankful to be alive, he reached up to kiss tariel, but she was repulsed by his homely face (something he still didnít know about). With eveeryone alive and relatively well, they poured open the bag of treasure and started looking through the goods. Tasgi cast a spell to identify the items, and after examining a hammer, they heard a cry from keldrake and watched him collapse, blood pouring out his mouth. Tehy quickly ran to him, but found they could do nothing to help him, he was dead again. Tasgi continued examining the items, and found a Rod similar to Tarielís and she again brought him back from death. With this horrific experience finally behind them, they huddled around the fire and ate a another delicious meal made by Tasgi and started talking about an assault upon the Darkweaver on the morrow.
With everyone alive and well (save the fact that Keldrake was still butt-ugly) they packed up their gear and made their way into the lair of the Darkweaver. As they entered the tower, expecting to find it filled with spiderís webs, they instead found it filled with webs of darkness. Their light sources barely gave off any illumination. Following Rimer and his glowing sword, they headed in towards the center of the tower, and as they did so, the webs became thicker and a feeling of unease, no doubt magical in origin, came over all of them. When they entered the central room, they caught a glimpse of the Darkweaver, and it certainly lookled arachnid. The glimpse was brief though, as all their light sources dwindled to almost nothing. Each felt an intense fear rush over them, and they heard a strangulated scream come from Reynald. Rimer quickly raised his sword in the air and light, not like magical light, but like sunlight started emanating from his body. This provided enough light to see that Reynald was gone. Rimer quickly turned towards the exit and felt a force pulling him back into the center. He pushed forward and the rest of the party tried to follow, but each felt something pulling them back into the center. Rimerís sword caused the webs of darkness to part as it shed itís light, but the tendrils of darkness quickly closed in behind him. Dr. Midnight and Tasgi followed, but soon lost track of the swordís light and each other. Soon, Dr. midnight found himself back in the center, and when he heard first a strangulated cry from Keldrake and then Tariel shriek he pulled out his rapier. In his haste to aid the damsel in distress, he threw his pointed weapon of justice into the darkness. As he started searching for it, Tariel began to assist him, but they lost track of each other. Rimer found himself back at the towerís center, and after scratching his head turned around again and headed out. Tariel, not see the good Dr. anywhere, but seeing his rapier, picked it up and followed her metal-clad companion. Soon, she lost track of him and his sword and once again found herself back at the towerís center. Rimer pushed on, and rounding a corner, saw a rune on the wall, and just glancing at it he felt not only the force pulling on him, and the fear, but knew that they were indeed in deep trouble. He screamed out "Oh man, itís over man. Weíre screwed man. Itís all over. Weíre burnt toast!" His companions did not hear him, they were problems of their own. Rimer headed back into the center of the tower, hoping to get his companions together to leave this infernal place. When he made his way into the center of the Darkweaverís lair, he did not see any of his companions. Gathering his bearings for just a moment amidst his fear and anxiety, he turned his head skyward and saw a lever set into the ceiling 10 feet above him. Realizing he must do something, he reached his sword up and pushed the lever towards the "+" symbol that was in one direction. The "+" symbol lit up and as he started once again heading out, this time to exit the tower, but as he moved towards the exit, the entire building started shaking. Quickly, he headed back and pushed the lever back towards the "-" symbol, and when the tremors did not stop, he returned the lever to the neutral position. This did not stop the violent quakes either, so he turned tail and headed out. As the shaking grew more violent, he saw pieces of the floor begin to crumble and fall into the void below, and he fell to the ground. As he tried to push himself up, he saw Dr. Midnight on the ground, but he wasnít struggling. Just as Rimer regained his bearings and got himself to a seated position, the floor fell out beneath them. He started falling into the void, and saw Tariel, Dr. Midnight and Tasgi all falling also, though none of them were struggling. Realizing this might indeed be the end, he breathed in deep and held his breath as he pulled himself over towards Tasgi, using the falling pieces of the tower to propel him. Rimer was no fool, and he knew what Tasgiís wand was, and although he didnít condone such chaotic magic, he knew he really had no other chance. As he grabbed the wand from Tasgiís pouch, he was plunged into absolute darkness. He felt fortunate that he had cast a spell protecting him from the life-draining energies common to undead on himself as he somehow knew he was on the Negative Material Plane. He pointed the wand in any futile attempt to get him and his companions out of here. With each charge, something strange happened. He was stricken with several diseases, felt an itching on his chest, looking down he saw a third nipple (canít let Tasgi know about that, he thought to himself, aware he had earlier teased the mage about his third nipple). Finally with his last breath, knowing his death was imminent, he shouted out...
"WAND OF WONDER!!!"
And he found himself on a harsh, rocky terrain. The smell of ash in the air. And although it did not look like a pleasant place, it was a better place than death. He looked around him at the bodies of his fallen comrades and saw all of them were dead. He started searching through Tarielís bags, knowing that she had two Rods of Resurrection. He had a bad feeling about where they were and knew he would want his companions alive to aid him in their quest home, and ultimately a Return to The Tomb of Horrors.
Rimer first revived The Good Dr. who immediately sprung up, ready for more action. When he realized where they were, or where they might be, he looked quite dejected. Rimer then brought back Tariel, so she could help him bring back Tasgi. But for now, he would have to be carried, Rimer volunteered.
Clouds of burning ash rolled past them in this infernal place, but finally they were all alive, and Rimer confirmed his guess that they were in the Abyss. They tried to return to their homeplane, but no avail, their power was weakened here.
Instead, they picked a direction and began walking that way. The smell of sulfur quickly overwhelmed then and they heard a hideous laugh behind them, and came face to face with a deomon over 20 feet high, with two head who informed them that they had been chosen to serve in the Blood War. Dr. Midnight, with all appropriate bluster, stepped forward and declined this request.
He was then told it wasn't a request. Rimer knew better, a demon on it's own home place woudl be quite a formidable foe, and the teeming mass of lesser demons that had gathered behind their foe did not make anything look better. Just then, they heard a females voice behind them, and they turned to see a marilith, as a matter of fact, it was the same marilith that had almost spelled their doom when they went ethereal in Acheronius' Tomb.
The two creatures heatedly spoke in their deominic tongue, that was quite painful to the ear, spit flying between these two creatures of evil and chaos. Finally, the marilith, whose name they had gathered was Jada, directed them to come with her. They were not exactly sure what had just transpired, but it looked like they were heading to a better fate....
Jada explained to them that she had bargained for them, as she had something she wanted them to do. Dr. Midnight swore he would never do the work of evil, to which she turned around and faced Dr. Midnight and said killing him would be easy. Dr. Midnight, his face red with anger leaped towards her, but he was caught by the strong arm of Rimer. Rimer explained that as this point they were in a world of trouble, and if she could get them home, and they could continue in their quest to smithe Acheronius, it might be worth it.
Dr. Midnight reluctantly put away his rapier, but swore vengenance under his breath. Jada brought them to her "house" a very small structure located in an infernal city. She told them to rest and awaken their companion (the still dead Tasgi), and she would return later to discuss what they had to do. Looking around, it was obvious that Jada had done something to piss someone off, as her dwelling was far from opulent. Finally returning tasgi to life, they discussed their options, and it really seemed they had no choice but to hear out Jada's plan.
Jada returned and explained that she wanted them to go to a party, at the High Mooks nonetheless (after hearing thsi Dr. Midnight got quite excited), and what they had to do would become obvious. While she was talking though, she took out a slightly writhing bag from one of her cabinets and proceeded to open it and pulled forth a squirming kitten, which she bit the head off and threw the rest out the window. The gasps around the room were quite loud, and Dr. Midnight jumped up to attack. "Put teh kittens down!" he yelled. But she just laughed.
"The heads are the tastiest parts, the rest is just garbage." Midnight swore he would never do her bidding, since it was obvious she was a twisted being of evil. Very well, she responded, you'll serve well in teh Blood wars. "I'll kick your ass, bitch." was Midnight's response.
"I don't think so. And before you go off doing something foolish, why don't you consult with your friends and see what they woudl have you do." Dr. Midnight looked around, and although, each seem disconcerted by her dietary habits, none seemed willing to do anything. Midnight then dropped to his knees and pleaded with her to stop eating kittens. Upon hearing this, she took another from the bag and cleanly bit its head off and threw the body at Midnight. The force of teh small kitten's body hitting his chest coincided with him fainting. With Midnight out of the picture, imer stood up and said they woudl be happy to do her bidding...
Next they found themselves outside of the High Mook's, with the same burlap bag at their feet. Midnight roused from unconsciousness and frantically began looking through teh bag, finding nothing but kitten carcasses, until at last, he pulled out a mangy grey kitten.
"Oh, thank goodness!" He pulled the kitten close and exclaimed "I'll call him Puddinhead." Everyone groaned at this, and even Rimer could admit that the kitten was somewhat cute.
They entered the High Mook's after introducing themselves, and explained the situation (as best they could). The High Mook was surprised they were back so soon, and wondered if teh great evil had been taken care of. Dr. Midnight, with puddinhead in his lap, raised his fist with a yell of "No, but I will smite that marilith!"
"Marilith" wondered the high mook.
Rimer chimed in "No sir, we plan on returning once this party is over." The High Mook's daughter had fallen in love with Puddinhead amd asked Dr. Midnight if the litle scamp coudl stay with her until they returned. Dr. Midnight thought this was a swell idea (after realizing a kitten-mascot in sub-freezing temperatures might not be a good idea).
After much merriment, tehy retired for teh evening, Rimer with several women on his arms, courtesy of the High Mook. They were all awakened when the High Mook's daughter ran into their rooms, crying that Puddinhead had been lost.
Dr. Midnight immediatly leapt out of bed, threw on his cloak and grabbed his rapier. Everyone else slowly pulled themselves out of bed and followed.
She led them to a small pool in the courtyard that was empty of water, and when Dr. Midnight walked out to the drain, the staue guardian came to life and moved to attack.
"Puddinhead's down here?!?" he asked teh crying daughter, and before her head could complete it's nod he leaped down the drain, grabbing his cloak as a cape with a cry of "For Justice, Little Puddinhead!!!"
The story continues: