15/5/13268 K.C. 00:00 – 00:20 – Each adventurer spends a few moments gathering their wits. Ormid and Ardwaine mutter prayers of healing; salving burns and closing wounds, and the rest try to clear their minds for the dangers ahead.
After a short while, Ormid and Llewellyn turn their attention to the section of wall that the Zaidir had been moving towards, and quickly deduce that there are complex magical systems set within it; several tied to a portal somewhere, and the others tied to some kind of opening mechanism. Ormid accidentally charges the systems with a small amount of arcane energy, and with its guts vaguely outlined by this power, the rogue sets to work activating the primary system. He draws strands of crystalline wire between certain almost invisible points on the wall, and with a burst of white sparks, kick starts the walls artifice.
With a light, tinkling sound, the wall directly before the group begins to fold back on itself in discrete strips; each individual strip rolling back along its own length to reveal a portal frame of black stone, carved with smooth runes of devilish origin. Moving carefully forwards, Ormid peers at this, and begins to try and deduce the meaning of the glyphs. However, the vyrleen darts in front of him, and deftly connects several of the runes with his wires and picks, causing another burst of sparks to leap, sizzling from the portal.
At once the air becomes charged with resonant arcane energies, and all the group feel the prickling sensation of a dimensional contact being forged. Within the frame of the portal a thin skin of malachite energy manifests; shifting through bands of black and dark green light, and with nary a glance back at his allies, the vyrleen leaps through it, giggling.
00:21 – 00:26 – His laughter dies in his throat a split second later.
Llewellyn finds himself sinking into a thick morass of moss, warm putrid waters and clutching mud, at the end of a vast stone chamber, brightly illuminated by a sourceless golden glow. The air is heavy with humidity and heat, and stinks of growth and warm bog water. The ceiling is some 60' above; a great vaulted thing of dark stone, discoloured by rampant growths of algae and moss, and six massive alcoves line the chambers walls, three on each side. Within these stand huge metallic tanks, each groaning with its contents, their rusty skins leaking a horrible glue of organic filth, which pools in rank puddles across the chamber. The middle of the chamber is studded with three stone platforms, each 10' x 10', which rise just above the level of the rampant growths that cover most of the floor. They too are thick with mosses and tiny mushrooms, but offer stable and dry footing in this damp, sweaty place. Between these are several deep pools of turgid, green water. Like everything else in this place, the pools are alive with plants and insects, their surface partly covered by delicate water lilies and frothy duckweeds.
At the farthest end of the chamber, opposite the area in which the vyrleen arrived - some 90' away and 10' off the ground - is a smaller chamber who's entrance is clouded by twisting lines of silvery power. Within this area floats an obese daemon of some kind; naked, and bloated it seems with writhing souls, all of which push against the rubbery flesh of its enormous belly, stretching the flesh to the point of transparency. Short brownish horns jut from the grey flesh of his jowled head, and his sunken eyes burn like muted yellow discs within the hollows of his eye sockets. A look of pure fury is etched on his moist, puffy features, and it is clear that he intends to speak.
And he is far from alone. The first beings to catch Llewellyn's attention as he manifests within the chamber are the three hooded humanoids that are stood upon the stone platforms; one only 15' away, the other two almost at the other end of the chamber. Each has dark green skin, which the rogue quickly realises is covered in large, smooth scales, and pale green, pupilless eyes. Heavy bows of some kind of ebon wood are brought to bear at once by each, and each carries a green metal longsword strapped to their belts, who's edges glint with liquid light.
Worse, on the right of the chamber, almost unseen amongst the scrambling frenzy of shrubs and dripping foliage, hulk two massive plants. Each has the bulk of an elephant, and is a stooping thing of coiling tendrils, pulsing tubes and panting, oily flowers. From the heart of their forms grow a number of thick stems, each of which are terminated by large, leaf-like jaws, almost identical to those of bear traps, but rendered in vegetation rather than steel. Within the embrace of these drooling structures weep more tubes and orifices, all flushed a dark crimson like raw meat, which begin to exude a honey like aroma, that sends a warming wave of pleasurable numbness through the rogue. Snaking amongst these mantrap style growths are smaller masses of tubes. These each end in a fungous bulbil, which leak threads of whitish slime that fumes where it touches the floor.
Behind the vyrleen, the air shimmers and the rest of the group arrive in the chamber, each appearing slightly taken aback by the miniature jungle they have entered. As Ardwaine enters, the daemon – almost certainly Fungloop – begins to speak in a nasal, peevish voice.
“Ah, and so the last of your murderous cabal arrives! How dare you come to my home, kill people in my employ and the violate my private sanctum!”
“We've come for the chronolily devil!” shouts the Veteran, his axe ready.
“Oh have you?” Replies the daemon, “The plant I sought for myself in the void, and brought here legally to grow for my own, entirely legal and harmless ends? The plant I have cared for, paid to cultivate, and which would have caused not a single death had you and yours not invaded my home and slain its wardens?”
Ormid looks like he has been slapped in the face. “I, I never really thought of it like that.” he mumbles, looking suddenly very sheepish and a little upset. “I -”
“He's a daemon!” snaps the warforged, “and I no more believe he is innocent, than I believe he legally obtained his damned plant”.
Funglop's pudgy chin wobbles with rage, and the souls in his guts become noticeably agitated, a fiery light welling from deep within the daemon, outlining them as tormented silhouettes against his taught, gelatinous belly meats.
“Well, we shall see what the Xilloth have to say about that.”
“Veteran, I think we might need to rethink what we are...” Begins Ormid, but the warforged is not listening.
“Wrong answer scum.” He yells at Funglop.
However, it is Llewellyn who is first to attack; cartwheeling towards the nearest of the humanoids, mace in hand. He lands a solid blow against the creature, but is dismayed when it merely hisses at him in anger, and slashes at him twice, its venomous blade seeming to appear by magic in its hands, before flashing in a blur towards him. With combat initiated, the devil screams at his soldiers to “Kill them!”.
Veteran joins the vyrleen and lands several solid blows against the humanoid, whilst poisoned arrows hiss venomously from the bows of the two further back, rattling off the living constructs armour. Shadevia launches her own arrow after summoning a biting swarm of vermin to cover it. The missile thunks into one of the bow wielders, and the cloud of insects around it explode into an angry swarm, distracting them somewhat. However, suddenly she, and the vyrleen become aware of the powerful musky aroma issuing from the deadly traps of the plants, and although some tiny part of her mind screams that she should ignore it, she finds herself dazedly wandering, arms by her sides, towards the slavering carnivorous plant. She is vaguely cognizant that the rogue is also shambling towards the same plant, a blank, dreamy smile on his face, and manages to somehow ignore the instincts screaming inside her to do the opposite when she allows the plant to roughly drag her inside its trap, and to pour numbing, corrosive enzymes on her...
Around the chamber the battle is gathering speed. Ardwaine charges the sword bearing humanoid, and lands another heavy blow against it. However, like the blows from the normally devastating warforged, these merely dent the armour and body scales of the creature barely seeming to cause it any real trouble. Ormid activates his artifice, and unleashes a blast of sonic force, which pushes the nearest drooling plant away from the vyrleen and seeker. However, both adventurer's are enmeshed in a cocoon of corrosive filaments, which continue to sear their flesh as they fall to the ground, and it is only through pure luck that they are able to tear free.
Ormid looks around desperately, suddenly realising that everyone in the party bears at least moderate wounds, whilst their foes are hardly touched.
And then the worst thing possible happens. Funglop, his eyes blazing with a dead yellow light, raises a flabby arm and points towards the Veteran. An unseen wave of psychic magic dances between the two, and suddenly Veteran swings his axe at Ardwaine, laying her back open to the bone, and sending her sprawling forwards. Cursing, the dundiir stumbles forwards, barely parrying another blow from the swordsman, and Shadevia tumbles across the chamber, desperate to put some distance between her and the plant, for its musky aroma is once again tugging at her mind, and she is finding it harder to resist returning to its deadly embrace.
Ferrous has leapt in towards the mantrap, and the air ignites as he spits a cone of lightning at it, blowing several chunks of foliage off it. The other ambulant plant begins to spray jets of stringy slime across the chamber, barely missing the rogue who, upon seeing that the warforged has been dominated by the devil, is determined to keep away from him. Shadevia is shot by an arrow, and feels a wave of agonised chill run through her blood as the venom covering it goes to work. Panicking somewhat, she is grateful when Ormid hurls a healing draft at her, and summons his medicating construct, its surface graven with restorative runes, its guts a complex of healing artifice.
Dodging another rain of arrows, the artificer screams to his remaining allies to take the daemon out. Ardwaine charges the nearest humanoid, and manages to land a blow that splits his armour and draws a spatter of oily, black blood. The monster responds by throwing back his hood, and concentrating his terrible eyes on the dundiir, and those nearby. A moment too late and Ormid realises what the humanoids are – Maeder; the male equivalents of medusae – and he is able to shout out only half a warning before a venomous burst of psychic hatred blasts into his mind. Ardwaine, Ferrous and Ormid are thrown back by the sheer power of the maeder's gaze, their vision blurring, the taste of blood thick in the dundiir and humans' mouths. Nose bleeding, Ormid looks over towards Shadevia, who has moved forwards a little on her belly, desperately trying to avoid the arrows zipping at her from the other two maeder. He then looks back towards the warforged, who is striding with purpose towards his pet, and with true desperation screams out “Somebody take that bloody daemon out!” He looks back over his shoulder to the wall behind him, and recognises the tracings of the artifice buried within it – identical to the wall that lead to this place. For a moment he seriously considers running, even if it means the others are killed, and even takes a step towards the wall.
“Ormid” screams Shadevia, ”Help!”
Wounds burning from the poisoned arrows, Shadevia tries to find some calm within herself. Spattered in mud and blood, she reaches out and draws upon her weariness, focusing it to summon a primal wave of sleep. Hands outstretched towards the grinning, flabby devil, she manages to throw a concentrated wave of psychic power at him, her spell catching him full force. With a yawn, Funglop's eyes dim. He gives an angry growl, realising with dawning horror what is going on. “No.” he manages to slur before the full weight of Shadevia's spell hits him, a wave of irresistible darkness falling over him like a cloak...
...The daemon collapses into a pile, fast asleep. At once the Veteran also stops moving, his eyes dimming and becoming unfocused. Spotting his chance, the vyrleen calls upon every trinket and trick in his repertoire to ensure he can get to Funglop and kill him before he wakes. He summons magical winds with one of his ensorcelled rings, which carry him halfway along the room. There, he smashes his dully glowing mace into one of the bowmen, before activating his boots and teleporting to the devil's side. As always, his passage between dimensions is heralded with a burst of searing fiery energy, and both the bowmen are burned by this, their angry screams ringing out over the din of battle. Grinning from ear to pointed ear, Llewellyn looks out into the chamber – and at once sees that both of the carnivorous plants are closing in on his allies at the far end, their blows causing them to eject mordant clouds of spores, which further ravage their tortured and rapidly weakening bodies. Worse, the swordsman has renewed his attacks, driving the warrior priestess back with increasingly deadly blows of his cankered, green-bladed sword.
The sound of the mace hitting Funglop's head is a heavy slapping crunch. His skull is surprisingly tough, but the mace, forged from adamantine, cracks it with little effort, his smouldering, tarry brains slopping out with a caustic hiss. The daemon begins to fit, but to the rogue's horror, is still clearly alive. Several arrows rattle off the walls around him, and he realises that the maeder are trying to have their revenge for their burning. With a silent prayer to Vaenya, the vyrleen adjusts his grip on the fiercely enchanted weapon, and throws every ounce of his wiry strength into his blow. Stinging gore spurts into his face as the weapon bursts the daemon's head like a boiled egg. However, impossibly, Llewellyn realises that even this sickening wound has not been enough to kill him, and indeed, as he watches, the unnatural meats of his brains and the slimy material of his skull begins to seethe and to pull itself back together.
“He's healing!” screams Llewellyn, his voice cutting off as a poisoned arrow suddenly blossoms from his shoulder, its venom coursing agonisingly through his body.
Hearing his screams, Shadevia looses an arrow at the devil. It hits, but is still not enough to kill him. Meanwhile, Ardwaine has called upon her magic to mend the wounds of several of the party, and finally the Veteran is shaking off his dominated torpor – though he remains mostly oblivious to his allies desperate situation.
Ferrous' armoured body plates shimmer with fey magic as he activates his displacement field. Alas, the carnivorous plant has no eyes and is not fooled, for it senses him through the ground, and is able to drag him closer with oozing, acidic tendrils – at least, until he is pulled into one of the ponds, whereupon he effectively becomes invisible to the mantrap.
Desperately, the rogue lifts the mace above his head. He can see the fizzing frenzy of regeneration at work in Funglop's shattered head, desperately trying to repair the damage he and the shadeling have wrought, and he knows that unless he can kill the thing, there is every chance that he will awaken and once again take control of their most deadly warrior.
“Vaelya, Leorn and anyone else who might be listening, let this kill him...please!”
The mace sweeps down. There is another stomach churning crack and once again the caustic brains and putrid materials within the daemon's head erupt in a spray. This time however, the damage is too much to repair, and as Llewellyn staggers back, another pair of arrows clacking off his armour, he watches as the daemon's entire body begins to seethe and melt; a throat-grabbing stench filling the air as Funglop sags and boils away into a sticky, tarry puddle, the souls within him erupting in a luminous cloud of screaming, warped lights.
With their leader slain, the battle is over fairly quickly. The maeder try to surrender, but are given no quarter, and with Veteran back to himself again, his blade a fiery brand against the highly combustible plants, the group soon find themselves alone again – agonised but alive.
00:21 – 00:30 – The group enter the area at the opposite end of the chamber to the one they entered, and being careful not to step in the filthy mass that was recently Funglop, they turn their attention to the sphere of ghostly light that floats there.
“It's a dimensional bubble,” explains Ormid, “A very small but quite stable pocket dimension.”
He spends a few moments observing the play of distortions across its watery surface, before placing his hand, fingers spread, a few millimetres away from it, and closing his eyes. At once the group feel a tension gathering in the air, and the bubble begins to expand rapidly, immediately swallowing the party...
...They are in a no place; a place of silent void. Ormid immediately tells them, psychically, for there is no air here to allow normal speech, and no time here to allow suffocation, that this is an artificial facsimile of the psychic plane, the “space” between universes, and the natural habitat of the Chronolily. As soon as he thinks this, the void before them parts, and the group find themselves looking at a lush cluster of massive flowers, growing directly from a small knot of dimensional ripples.
Realising that these are what they have come – and technically murdered – for, the group quickly take what they need. Ormid then sends a mental command outwards, and at once...
...The group find themselves back in the herbarium.
“I'll open a portal out of here.” States Ormid immediately, “And then we should probably lie low for a few days, until we are due to meet TocToc.”
The rest of the group agree.