a lively curbstomping
Hello, Smithers, you are quite good at turning me on
The consoles in front of Livius, Sora, Abraham, Casimir, Natalya, and Nahk light up and go beep boop. The water shakes around them in the underground grotto and light peers down above them. They swim rapidly to the surface, afraid of what the tremors mean. Could it be that they freed this demiplane from 600 years of banishment?
Livius emerges first, soaked to the robes and the under-robes and the beard, splashes out. A familiar voice calls out to him. “Meh!” Livius stares up at a small group of Duergar pointing weapons at him.
“Meh! It’s the sandwich guy!” says a voice as you see Xarog tell his compatriots to put their weapons down.
Livius tells the others the coast is clear, and the heroes make their torturous way back up to the surface, bypassing the whole labyrinth business. Natalya passes a door on the way and briefly pauses at her small laboratory where she made her home for centuries, under the beck and call of Lady Margo who forced her to create sirablood recipes for her.
The heroes somehow make their way back to the ship only to find Hobbes and the officers and sailors and bugbears under the threat of three Deathless Ones.
Wow, what if it was just a third character that went against the party?
They fix their eyes on their sister Natalya, returned at last. They make a plea, based on their familial bond, but Natalya, after everything she has seen, after witnessing the 600 years of fallout because of the decisions she and Aramestes and Malory Whisperbottom and The Hidimba made, is resolved to her mission: To stop the Deathless One. “My brother died long ago,” she might have said, I don’t remember, but something like that. And she recounted how much she learned from her new friends:
- From Mallory, she learned to not obsess about knowledge and power to the detriment of others
- From Rho, KB, and Sora, she learned about right and wrong, and that it’s, uh, complicated
- From Abe, she learned about the power of love to overcome all obstacles, even, um, torture and enslavement? Let’s move on
- From Hobbes and Nahk, she learned to stand up for others who are treated badly for their differences and that our differences make us unique
- From Livius, she learned that being undead is not so bad and that necromancy can be used for good, whatever that is, and also how to make a sandwich
- From Casimir, she learned what damage alchemy can do, on a personal level, and to only use it for good, unless it means hurting people who are doing bad. It’s, uh, complicated
- From the officers and crew, she learned some great sea shanties
- From Baltsaros, she learned how to be a good friend and support him through his cognitive dissonance and stirred tea and just said, “Oh honey” a lot, in her Spill the Tea Circle with Teo Ramsen, the Argoti official and technically Livius’s subordinate; Baltsaros; and the chef Hungry Hamboy Hugo
- From Luigius, she learned love, at least in my fanfic
With the power of friendship, the heroes are able to–oh fuck, Nahk just got dragged into the ocean. It’s so scary looking on the inside! Half of us are stunned! Oh fuck! Oh god, oh god, everyone relax! Calm down! I’m not screaming, you are! Livius in a panic banishes one of the Deathless Ones.
Oh shit, they just banished Livius right back!
Nahk is twice engulfed by the Deathless One’s engulfing void. When the second creature engulfs him, he sees all what the Deathless Ones see: The white void of the banished demiplane Livius sent one to; a Deathless One commanding a fleet; another commanding an army. As the darkness enters his nostrils and mouth and eyes and ears, he is unable to scream, or if he does, he cannot hear it.
Through the chaos, as the creature is busy consuming Nahk, Sora sees an opening and sinks an arrow into the Deathless One’s body, breaking its concentration, allowing Livius to return to the material plane again. Boy, I get out but they pull me back in, amirite? Livius sinks a lightning bolt into the Deathless One and as its smoke starts trailing away into the air, it is suddenly sucked back into the Binder of the Dead.
A bunch of the darkness spills out of one of the Deathless Ones and goes into another one, which causes the first one to explode! It blasts just a couple people real bad!
Nahk manages a hit on the second one, sucking in the darkness into the Binder of the Dead again. Oh boy, hope that doesn’t do something bad later.
Anyway, the gang surrounds the spot where the banished Deathless One was banished from and Livius drops concentration. Everyone gets a hand on the ball as they smash the fuck out of the Deathless One, with Livius’s swing of Goremond being the coup de grace, probably, it’s been a while, but it’s fun that way.
The darkness is pulled into the Binder of the Dead. Probably nothing to worry about. An eldritch blast scorches the deck where the Deathless One was standing. The gang looks up to see, Hespero, like Gaunter O’Dimm, stepping down from the air onto the railing of the ship.
“Guess I was too late!” he calls out, clapping his hands. “Greetings everyone!” Hobbes turns a few different blanched faces upon seeing his former boss. Abraham scrowls to see the guy who orchestrated the murder of his master. Sora frowns, having just seen Hespero at the Icosahedradome, annoyed with the knowledge that he could’ve probably helped them out of the demiplane at any time. And Casimir knew that too, see The Damage Sluts Adventures in Wonderland, when they ran into each other in the Feywild! Livius of course was hung out to dry during the trial against him in A completely avoidable international incident. I mean, not to mention all the other shit, what with Malbec Riesling, Hespero’s lawyer, betraying them all to Zulon, and oh yeah, making this demiplane in the first place and also orchestrating a multi-generational revenge scheme against them. Baltsaros also definitely hates this guy who enslaved him. Captain Barty, sorry Admiral Barty Cromwellus, is also hecking pissed to see Hespero, after everyone on the crew shared enough stories to realize that this guy was a real jerk to all of them in one way or another. And even the bugbears chafed under the Bakasura, who was Hespero’s general!
Heck, I guess everyone is seeing their old boss, even Natalya who secretly worked for the Hidimba while stealing secrets from him during The War of the Devils and the Dead. Or, hmm, actually, “I don’t know you, bugbear.”
Nahk crosses his arms and brushes hair out of his eyes.
“Actually I’ve never heard of you.”
Hespero is speechless.
It is day 40 (!) since the Battle of Aurochs Island, the first engagement in the Argoti-Mineosi War.
All islands completed. All three keys have been retrieved and have been slotted into the Demiplane Engine.
Malory Whisperbottom is on the material plane.
You have three solid cubes with keyholes and a ring of seven keys:
- One of the pine wood cubes is on the floor of the ship
- Livius Anastasius Cratius has the cube made of bone found in Iskos Valley Village’s elders’ hut
- Natalya has one of the pine wood cubes and the ring of seven keys; she dropped the obsidian cube containing her heart into the ocean
You and the 13 Islands are on the material plane, and Zulon has been on the material plane for ten full days.
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While you were out: The 40 Days Campaign Diary