Sorry this took so long. I won't lie to you, after finding myself unable to pay for DDO (due to a glitch their end, which they seemed bemusingly unwilling to solve) I re-subbed to WoW, and...well...I've played a lot....too much (it is evil). Anyway, here is the last game report. It's not looking too good for these guys either (I wonder why both groups are so very deep in the brown stuff lately?)
Anyway, here we go!
Anyway, here we go!
* * *
06:18 – 06:33 (04:46– 05:11 local time) – Swooping low over the impossible landscape beneath, the group soon discover that they need to get even lower, for the massive crystals have grown together in many places, forming a sharp-ridged roof over the terrain below, obscuring their view. At first this presents no real issues, for the avenues of glittering Duracite, chiming Tintinabulite, shining Relucite and sparkling Glimmerstone are wide and easy to fly down. The group quickly learn to keep away from any crystals that have grown too long, after the Veteran receives a deep cut to his body plate, courtesy of a thin, flat crystal that snares him as he hurtles past.
However, as they near the site of the ancient settlement where Edwin supposedly lives (finding their way within this reflective, confusing labyrinth of gleaming stone is a feat that Shadevia accomplishes using her ability to feel the angles of the universes shadows compared to the “real” world), the corridors get narrower as the crystals have had longer to grow. This forces the group nearer and nearer the ground, which itself bristles with sharp little clusters of Razor Shard and similar. Worse, the close proximity to the otherworldly crystals allows their strange vibrations to begin to affect each individual; ominous aches and throbbings thrumming through their bones and muscles. Not only that, but the air itself in these increasingly claustrophobic corridors shimmers with a fine mist of minuscule crystals, which begin to subtly shred the lungs of those that breathe (i.e everyone apart from Veteran), and after only a few minutes within the narrower corridors they find themselves struggling to breathe, the tang of blood strong on the backs of their tongues.
Eventually the group have to land and dismount, for Ormid realises that their mounts are increasingly at risk of being destroyed by the vitreous needles and hanging knives of crystal that jut from the leaning walls and thrust up from the jagged, cuspidate floor. Wincing as they feel the sharp crystals digging into their soles, they begin to move carefully towards their goal, inhaling deeply as they struggle to breathe in the petrifying atmosphere.
06:34 – 06:56 (05:11 – 05:33 local time) – By the time they have almost reached the ancient settlement, everyone is covered in a multitude of tiny painful cuts from the edges of the crystals, their clothes and hair glistening with minute fragments of the sharp, biting stuff. The corridors are now universally narrow, and are often blocked by criss-crossing growths of ghostly Transientum, fragile wands of some clear crystal they do not recognise, and massed mounds of scything Razor Shard, though now and then they suddenly open into vast geode like caverns, or high ravines open to the grey, drizzly sky.
Within the walls of crystal can be seen huge abstract shadows – the ancient structures of the lost township, now suspended and preserved within the crystalline walls – and the party know that at last, they have arrived. However, all is not well, for from somewhere ahead they can hear distant screams; reedy, male, and unmistakably filled with hopeless terror. They can also make out a dim metallic hammering, as if a multitude of miners are repeatedly and tirelessly slamming their tools into a heavy metallic surface. Slowing their pace, they ready their weapons and quietly focus their magics. They creep along towards the distant sounds, and ahead can make out a large open area, liberally studded with vicious hummocks of Razor Shard, though their view of the area is obscured by the walls of the jagged, uneven corridor they are in.
Ormid conjures a smooth bridge of arcane metal, and creates a clear path over the lethally sharp crystals that block the way forwards, and Veteran jogs forwards, his heavy feet clanking loudly off it. Shadevia raises her bow, sensing something familiar in the fabric of the thrumming air, and Ardwaine brings her hammer up, sparks crackling over its runed head.
As the Veteran moves forwards, Ferrous at his heels, the air about 50' ahead of him suddenly darkens, and an inky pool of shadows appears; a spreading smoky stain of utter blackness that exudes a wider aura of gloom. As he watches, the core of the mass takes on the shape of a huge dog – a heavy-set brute with a wide mouth and pale blue eyes of dim, crepuscular fire.
“Glym Hound!” cries Shadevia, firing an arrow, “Deadly pack hunters. Be thankful there is only one.”
Ah, but he is not alone.
Veteran closes the distance between him and this strange otherworldly hound, and with a roar, cuts a deep wound in it, his blade bursting into glassy, rainbow flames a moment before it strikes – suddenly imbued with radiant power by the artificer's will. The Glym Hound gives a whispering shriek of agony as the enchanted metal slices into its shimmering form, and the radiant aura sheathing it assaults the very fabric of its being. It responds with a vicious bite, which Veteran parries deftly, smashing its heavy head to the side, using the split seconds this move buys him to look over to his right to see those that accompany the hound.
A large patch of Razor Shard forms a potentially crippling barrier between the warforged and the others; four men, all preparing various attacks. One stands the other side of a large hole in the ground – the place from which the terrible distant screams issue, as well as the muffled hammering – who wears long midnight blue robes of heavy satin. His face is dark skinned and shadowy tattoos cover his features. He is in the process of casting a spell, his voice rising and falling in the eerie intonation of a spell, his fingers twisting like serpents as he draws the power into himself.
Two of the men are soldiers. One stands the other side of the deadly ripping crystals, and launches a long-bladed throwing knife at the warforged, its course swatted aside by his axe, whilst the second charges, a longsword raised.
The last male stands to the north of the group, using a narrow crystalline corridors walls to guard his flank. He wields a massive bow, which is substantial enough that he has to set its spiked base into the rock and use his whole body to draw it. From this he launches a massive arrow, which sails high into the sky and crunches into the ground next to Ardwaine, who has just charged forwards, stopping dead as she spies the men.
All of these men bear the same symbol upon their breasts; a circle of black fire. Spotting this the dundorin yells a warning to her allies, and upon hearing her description of their standard, Ormid yells back, “I don't believe it! Inner Circle agents! Members of an international criminal cartel who only vanished from our world when the Belief Wars occurred. We could be in trouble here!”
Shadevia launches an arrow at the hound, striking it, and Llewellyn lobs a shimmering dagger from his bracers – reluctant to close with the strange beast. The blade misses, and a wave of darting magical missiles suddenly spring from the mage's hands, striking at the warforged, the Iron Defender, and the dundorin cleric.
The missiles inflict horrific damage, and as the swordsman nears (his feet bleeding where the Razor Shard punches through his armoured boots), Ferrous unleashes a steaming blast of acidic oils, coating the ground and sending the warrior sprawling, face down, into the slicing growths, his flesh burned by acid and bleeding from the deep cuts.
Llewellyn cartwheels closer to the Glym Hound, and lands a truly devastating blow on it, his buzzing mace chewing a massive, smoking wound in its semi-solid substance. It snaps at him, and he just manages to leap out of the way. Then it throws its head back, and unleashes a howl...
...It is a sound of absolute horror; an ululation that speaks of primal fear, of soul shattering horror and the instinctive panic a prey creature feels when the predator is close. It resonates like a black burst of nightmare power through the air, and fills all but Shadevia and Ormid with fear, forcing them to flee, screaming from the monster. It also marks a turning point in this fierce skirmish, for the group suddenly find themselves more than hard pressed by their foes, despite the fact that the hound is slain moments later by Shadevia, her arrow seeming to appear by magic in its shadowed, slavering throat.
The archer is slain by the Veteran, the warforged bleeding salty hemolymph from walking over the Razor Shards to reach him, though only after he inflicts horrific damage on Ormid and Shadevia with his deadly bow. His screams echo strangely in the crystalline space, and he drops to the ground a ruin of gurgling, spurting crimson.
The soldier who fell in the oil patch finds himself surrounded by four members of the party before he is hacked and shot apart, his death coming at the merciless jaws of the Defender. However, he fights with a fanatical zeal to the last, and manages to land several telling blows on the warforged, at least one of them twisting up into his innards, leaving serious, long-term damage. As he dies, he defiantly spits a glob of bloody spittle at Veteran, and gives a grim, insane grin.
The mage is taken down only after he uses his spells to teleport around the area, unleashing huge blasts of burning cold and corrosive bolts of acid at the group, leaving them disoriented and seared, their efforts to fight off the wounds leaving them exhausted and trembling. He meets his end with a gurgling scream, his face literally torn from his skull by the warforged's axe, flying like a leathery mask through the air, to become impaled like some sick pendant on the shards jutting from the wall.
However, as the mage screams, the final soldier, who by that time battles Llewellyn on the far side of the pit - the vyrleen cut off from the others, bleeding from a multitude of serious stab wounds and deep lacerations and surviving only by calling on his innate luck and the healing properties of a construct summoned by Ormid – calls down the pit for help (not that any of the group are able to understand a word he says). In response a great roar is heard, then the sound of approaching footsteps from below. The soldier, himself critically wounded gives a grim smile, for he knows that although he may soon die, he has called a great doom on his killers.
But he is still alive when the form of a huge gorgoth, his dark green flesh cut with glittering, crystalline tattoos, explodes from below with a deafening roar. Impossibly muscled, and clad only in a kilt of animal skins, he wields a huge war cleaver two handed, and all eyes focus on him at once, for he emanates a brutal menace that eclipses that of any of the humans the group just battles.
“RRRRRRRAAARGH! FOR THE MASTERS!” he bellows in his brutal, snarling tongue, and the group, by now weakened almost beyond tolerance by the surprisingly vicious battle they have just fought in (and indeed, not yet finished), can only bite back their pain, and turn to face not only this new threat, but to finish off the one who called it.
Below them, down the pit, the distant screaming continues, but the hammering has stopped...
* * *
Here is the map as that last game ended. Pink is Ardwaine, Blue is Veteran, Bronze is Ferrous, Silver is Llewellyn, Yellow is Ormid and Gold is Shadevia.