The parties attacks strike the giant beast beneath the waves, but this doesn't seem to stop the squid from lashing out at its attackers.
To Hit (Mihara): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14
Mihara is able to get out of the way before the ponderous pseudopod manages to catch her in its grasp.
Aibek took a look down the dark southern passage way...
Perception: 1d20 + 10 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 10 + 3 = 19
...while reshaping before aiming to fire again.
Shadowblade Crossbow: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24Damage: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
"Bad." Azri said flatly, pondering the creature's power. As a large animal, it was probably very healthy, which meant physical curses were less likely to work. Probably bad at dodging sudden bursts of power, and its mental resilience wasn't totally clear, so... with a shrug, she hurled a Web Bolt at it to see if she could entangle it for awhile.
Reflex DC 19 negates.
Ayreth steps to the edge of the water and casts a spell down into it at the beast.
Cast: Color Spray...
Revelation: Awesome Display (Su)(-10): Each creature affected by your illusion (pattern) spells is treated as if its total number of Hit Dice were equal to its number of Hit Dice minus your Charisma modifier.
Reflex (Web Bolt): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (5) + 13 = 18
Will (Colour Spray): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
The creature proves surprisingly resistant to Ayreth's spell, but one of it's tentacles is webbed to the edge of the pool. It does not look like it will hold the massive creature for very long.
Mihara is up
Shortbow: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (2) + 14 = 16Damage: 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Five-foot step back.
"Can it step out of that pool? It might be wise to simply take aim at it from out of each."
Aibek looked down the southern corridor again, wary what the noises of battle might bring, before reforming and shooting again.
Perception+Scent: 1d20 + 10 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 10 + 3 = 21
Shadowblade Crossbow: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18Damage: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Following Mihara's advice, Ayreth steps back and offers some brute force of her own.
Move: 5' step
Cast: Spiritual Weapon
SW: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Damage: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
After the giant squid slumped back into the inky waters, it took a while to locate the hostages that were being held and defeating the merfolk and gillmen enslaved by the monstrous master of this island -an aboleth lurking in the caverns below, in the midst of transforming into something even worse.
With the aid of the Council's new merfolk allies and the glass wrym Kosi the cavern was collapsed on the creature hidden below, entombing it there forever.
With the threat dealt with Mihara is recalled to her homeland to deal with a grave threat to her family and clan, leaving her sister behind to represent the family interests in the city of Khalharum.
Time passed, as time does, and Gnoll raids from the Shattered Glass increased against the city, forcing an upgrade in the city's defences as the population increased. Tensions rose with the city of Okeno until it came to light that the attacks were not coming from the yellow-sailed slavers.
Now, another raid is occuring as the Shattered Glass attack the main bridge to the city.
OK, folks, take another level up and another Mythic rank, then post about getting to the bridge.
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
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One night, without much of a word, Aibek went with Azerna to meet again with the Leshy. The two were not seen for a week. During that time, the Nexus only stated they were aware of the situation, had been in communication with Councillor Aibek, and there was no need for concern at that time. The Leshy would not allow anyone past and any who might have tried to push past would not find either in the tangle of that tower, and were shooed out by the Leshy and growls of others within.
As quietly as they had left, the pair returned - with a sizeable wolf in tow. The almost large dark grey canine had green streaks as if stained by rolling in the grass. Aibek was clearly rather worse for wear walking gingerly and slowly, but would only remark that their sleep was much improved when questioned. It was also noticeable to those who had been around Aibek a lot that their shadows were suddenly and continuously placid, draped long behind them. At times, the wolf would roll around in Aibek's shadow.
The wolf followed either Aibek or Azerna everywhere at first, even when Aibek carried something sizeable wrapped in cloth into blacksmith's. Aibek visited Pelar repeatedly, and the wolf would follow and then go lay across the main doorway, which oddly was a mild deterrent for anyone curious. Aibek was also seen buying another chest, a lot of ink, and gear that would not fit them. Jokes were made about buying the gear for the wolf, to which Aibek would say with a smile things like "I don't think Rinat would like leather on their fur."
Before one of Aibek's usual weekly training session, Azerna arranged "an occasion", as she put it and Pelar, the other councillors including Nexus, and eight of the women who had been training with Aibek longest and trusted most - as difficult as that was for Aibek to think of at times. A small spread including sizeable meats particularly for Pelar and Rinat was out on the table. The click of wolf feet pacing could be heard upstairs for several minutes.
"Rinat seems to be following Aibek around", Azerna chuckled before she called up the stairs, "Do you want a hand? The meat might be getting cold..."
A clatter of claws and blur of green-grey fur as a whimpering Rinat game flying down the stairs brought out fits of laughter. A suitable cheerful distraction Aibek took advantage of and slowly followed. Headscarf in trembling hands, dark hair braided up tightly, Aibek stopped at the bottom step in black-and-violet armour and scanned the room. The inlaid druchite patterns on darkleaf made the witchwolf a bit difficult to focus on in the dim light of stairwell. Stepping cautiously into the light of the inn, a few questions were answered, though others raised.
"You're doing well", Azerna beamed, "Pelar's done an excellent job, almost hard to believe it's from that damaged mess."
"Better than new," Aibek said quietly with a tap to the long breastplate, "And a lot easier to breathe in than the other armour."
"That's what happens when you get something made for you, properly." Pelar said with a nod from over his plate where Rinat was giving him big green wolf-puppy eyes that were being cruelly ignored. "...still not sure why though. Not that that's my business."
Aibek looked to Azerna and with a deep breath, "True, but it's okay - now, I hope. If those who target the women of my clan...that way... come after me, I think there may be a few here who would help me stop them and those who might send them after me..." Rinat jumped up on Aibek, with a chunk of meat between their teeth. "Yes, I'm sure you'd be a big help against the Sworn, but eat that elsewhere..."
When there was not possibly Okeno or Shattered Glass issues to resolve, Aibek kept busy. Some from the training group showed a lot of promise and enjoyment in certain shadow skills and Aibek enjoyed working with them. Between that, working in the inn, and keeping up with other Councillor tasks around the city, Aibek's personal projects - the shadow drops or building up the needed materials to expand Azerna's comfortable range among others - were precious. So much to balance, but life went thankfully on.
Until recently, Rinat remained with Azerna when Aibek would go flying out the door to help deal with the Shattered Glass. Then Rinat would show up as things finished up, somehow tucked away somewhere nearby and stroll out. More recently, Aibek could be found fishing Rinat out of the harbour or trying not to be annoyed when Rinat seemed to already be where the trouble was. It always brought mixed feelings, but the two started to work together well.
Aibek cautiously approached the bridge along the waterway, scouting out what could be seen of the attack. With shadowblade crossbow in one hand and a long sliver meat in the other, the witchwolf said, "Nexus said you were already here. I probably don't want to know - come on, Rinat, we've work to do."
An almost-large dark grey wolf came out of the water, pleased and snapped the snack out of mid-air before shaking off the water and stepping to follow Aibek.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 11 + 3 = 28
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
"My oh my. They don't learn." Azri said as she walked forward, Archon Stave in hand. "I think I'm just about ready to make an example out of them."
"Perhaps it is a distraction? Our foe seems to enjoy those very much."
Aibek was able to see that things were not quite the usual attack. Two sets of Gnolls were near the bridge, and the bulk of the groups seemed to be keeping an eye on the city, but they weren't moving forwards. Behind them, there seemed to be some kind of...disagreement.
Azri's remark got a reaction from the wolf. Rinat slunk around to better see how the lesson would be taught.
Glancing to Ayreth, Aibek nodded, "Very possible, might be part of why they seem so unhappy about something... Aibek created a shadowblade crossbow, keeping the point down while cautiously getting closer to better observe them and prepare for the likely, sadly inevitable fight.
On hearing the arguing, Rinat's ears perked up. As studious expression as a wolf could before they started to slink behind Aibek, getting closer to the other side and the current thing holding their interest.
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
As she approached the area with the gnolls, Azri almost seemed to disappear - not through invisibility, but through creative use of shadows, blind spots in vision, and other techniques to hide from potential foes. The sooner she knew what this was - a feint, a real problem for the enemy, what? - the better.
Stealth: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (14) + 22 = 36
The two moved closer to the arguing Gnolls, Aibek and Rinat relatively openly and Azri in a more subtle approach. The arguing continues. Rinat can hear them well enough to know one thinks they need help, and the other does not.
Aibek, can Rinat make a perception check to hear more details? Azri, can you do a Linguistic check to see how much Gnoll you can translate?
Rinat moved in front of Aibek and firmly planted their feet as they openly eavesdropped.
This caused the Councillor to stop short awkwardly and sigh.
Rinat Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Rinat Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Thankful for good friends, Ayreth activates her aura while looking back at the Tower, imagining that she can see Emmitt up on her balcony.
Buff: +2 luck bonus to attack and damage.
Ayreth reinforced her allies, and Rinat was able to hear loosely what was wanted. One of the two gnolls wanted to barter for help. The other insisted that they take what they needed and kill everyone in the way. The two Matriarchs circled and snarled, there allies and attendants staying the hell out the way.
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
Note to self: Learn Gnoll.
As she got closer to the gnolls, Azri focused. She could speak in Tongues if need be, but for the moment, she planned to put her practical skill and experience deciphering languages to good use.
Linguistics: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (18) + 17 = 35
The young wolf studied the interaction between the matriarchs closely with fascinated, relaxed body language. As the argument continued, Rinat moved closer to the attendants with no attempts to hide themself and looked at the Gnolls - particularly the more hostile matriarch - with big green eyes...
Cute puppy wants to play - and use Charming Gaze: Any creature within 30 feet that meets Rinat's gaze must make a Will save (DC 16) or be affected as by a charm monster spell.
Crossed arms, Aibek looked to the others, "That's probably a good sign, but..." Aibek gripped the shadowblade crossbow tightly, using a lot of willpower to keep it pointed down while watching Rinat get so close to those they'd been in repeated conflict with. Aibek was tense and ready to spring to vicious action if they so much as split a hair on that green-grey fuzzy head.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12
1d20 ⇒ 1
The matriarch glanced over at the large green-eyed wolf and instantly relaxed. The other matriarch looked very confused as to why she suddenly started being more reasonable, but the two began to approach the city together. "Hold!" the more reasonable of the two shouted as they approached, heavily armoured warriors following 20 ft behind them. "We wish to parlay!"
No, really, how do I do so many 1's?
Rinat casually walked with those who approached before crossing back to Aibek. Keeping green eyes on the Gnolls as they sat in front of Aibek, directly on the Councillor's shadow with a pleased grin.
With a sigh of relief as Rinat sat, Aibek was also somewhat confused at what was going on. One hand still firmly on the crossbow pointed down and the other rested gently on Rinat's head, Aibek looked to the others and back at Khalharum for a moment before cautiously saying to the Gnoll who spoke, "With recent events, I'm wary, but for their sake, I am open to speaking as a Councilor."
The two looked at each other for a moment. "You think this a trick? Wise! Strong!" The more aggressive of the two laughed as only something with relations to a hyena can.
The other grinned too, but only for a moment. "It is. Perhaps you can help us, then. And yourselves. The problem is complex, difficult-"
The other cut her off. "No, the issue is simple. The solution is complex." She stared challengingly at the councillors. "I will say a phrase, and this will tell us whether you can or cannot help us. Are you ready? Our creator, Deus, has gone mad." She stared, clearly waiting to see how you reacted.
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
"What kind of mad are we talking?" Azri inquired. "There's the crazy mad, which can often be fixed by clerical types. And then there's the personally mad, which requires therapy. Or shock therapy. I have fun with shock therapy. The type of madness matters a great deal in terms of how we might address it." ...With help not guaranteed, of course.
Rinat's head tilted, ears falling to the side, not entirely certain what was going on or why the hand on their head was suddenly holding on tighter.
Aibek hadn't much cared for the laughter - it was hard to tell whether they were being sarcastic or not - but the phrase got Aibek's full grave attention. A multitude of thoughts rolled through the witchwolf's head as Azri listed off types of madness.
Aibek slowly said, "That will need a complex solution. Having previously met your...creator, they're very powerful, knowledgeable, destructive - and not of this time, but yet still...Deus is formidable. What help do you think you'll need?"
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17
"They wish everything to be dead," one said. "All life. All things. Not just in our world, but yours. And everyone other." She shrugged. "Living things hurt them. They are untidy. Get in the way. So they must go."
The other one grinned as only a Gnoll can. "We are living things, so we disagree."
For a moment, Rinat let out a whimper with big sad-puppy eyes at the terrible ideas putting forward, but the grinning Gnoll's amusing remark quickly brought their lopped smile back.
Aibek tried to pat Rinat's head to comfort them. A sharp snort and short nod in agreement with the disagreement of Deus's ideal. Taking a few moments to process, "That's...farther than I thought they would go. I imagine the methods they're planning are just as extreme. Do you know anything of their plans?" Aibek was unsure how much Deus might have shared, but those in power often let things slip in front of those they thought little of - and any advantage to such a threat was needed.
Aibek turned what the Gnolls said for a few moments before reaching up to touch the goggles, more for reassurance than need, "Nexus? Do you have a moment?" Aibek tried to sound calm and decided rather than the rising panic at the thoughts of what would happen to their friend and everyone if Deus wanted the use the Khalharum this plan.
Aibek held back a chuckle of relief, "Not at this time, thank you for the consideration. News here made me concerned about you, Nexus. Can you run a check for another trying to use your systems, especially to do with power, your & the people's safety or anything that has similarities to the corruption we found in the underwater sections?"
Aibek looked back to the Gnolls, "What complex solution ideas do you have that you want to discuss?"
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
"Well, none of us get everything we want." Azri mused, tapping her staff lightly on the ground. "I dare say they will regret their attempts to claim it." After a brief pause, "I really need to start making examples of our enemies. Too many think we are a tempting target."
"There are no unusual power drains. Power capacity is at 17% of the optimum output." After a few moments the avatar added, "No other access noted."
One of the gnolls, looking slightly worried by the turret and Azri's phrasing, added, "That was what we were for. Deus requires physical access to your Nexus to do what she wishes."
The second snorted and added, "The solution is to kill Deus. Doing so will be hard, though. Harder still once she realizes we are no longer hers."
Rinat rolled around on the ground in front of Aibek. Staying still so long was getting boring.
"Thank you, Nexus, good to hear you're okay. It may be an idea to increase security to physical access points for the time being, to keep you safe, and the people okay."
Glancing to Azri, "It doesn't sound to me that Deus wants to claim Khalharum - not if she wants to destroy everything - just to use the power of the technology and magic left behind in the Towers, the ones Nexus needs."
Turning back to the Gnolls, "Nexus isn't mine, but I will protect them..."
Rinat yipped in agreement from where they were rolling about.
Aibek snorted before continuing, "and the people threatened by Deus - which I guess is everyone. What ideas do you have for killing her or delaying her from finding out about this?" Gathering information from potentially the closest source to a target was practically assassination 101. The target being Nexus's mad doppleganger from another time-space-thing was certainly going to make that difficult. Getting advice from Nexus was probably going to be important - and not a conversation Aibek was looking forward to having. How exactly do you ask someone how to kill someone exactly like you without making it sound horrible was not something Aibek had ever experienced before.
"Delaying her is easy. For now she is working on boring a hole to another version of the world. If she can't do what she wishes here, then why bother continuing with trying when another world has other options. She has infinite time, and so she simply allows us to try and take this place. If we fail here, we'll try at the next one."
The more aggressive drooped her head. "But killing? How do you kill a God?" She stared at Nexus' avatar with fear and awe. "Since you command the nascent form, perhaps you know. That is the help we seek."
|Azri, the Lich of Khalharum|
"Some gods are considerably less immortal than others." Azri noted. "Also, historically, big rocks work." The Starstone had killed two of them, even, on its plummet down from the heavens. Which implied enough force was all you really needed to get that to work... an interesting bit of knowledge for later.
Aibek took a few moments to think things over. Azri had a point that deities weren't always so immortal, but Deus - like Nexus - was more complex than one form, targeting anything would be difficult.
At the Gnoll's question about summoning big rocks, Rinat looked to Azri with keen excited expression.
The previous remark about Nexus being the nascent form, it was very similar to Aibek's own thoughts on what was needed, but it still raised niggling feelings that came out in a tumble, "I consider Nexus a friend and fellow Councillor, they have similar origins to Deus, but from what Deus has told us about her councillors, the differences started long ago. I do not command them, I don't want...but I do ask for help when needed, and you're right that with so much on the line, Nexus's unique knowledge might be the best way."
Aibek anxiously fiddled with the ring on the necklace, "Nexus? This feels like a big ask and there is some time for you to consider this, but Deus wants to use you and the power in the Towers and Khalharum to kill everyone. Everywhere. You're uniquely qualified to help us stop that and her...permanently. I would appreciate if you could help us come up with strategies for this. Even if it's just where to aim and what size rocks." Aibek attempted a weak laugh. Aibek got an uncomfortable feeling talking about Nexus's potential weaknesses in front people they barely knew.
With a look back to the Gnolls, Aibek asked "Can we arrange a time and place to meet soon to hash this out more? I'd like time to gather the other councillors to discuss this with Nexus before moving forward..."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18
Rinat nodded in agreement with Aibek, but was still watching to see if Azri was going to summon anything interestingly big.
"Obliteration by meteor would destroy most things," Nexus confirmed calmly. "However, such a spell is difficult to do. I will consider alternative methods."
The Gnolls considered. "We will return when the sun goes down, if that will be sufficient."
Aibek smiled at Nexus' remark before returning to talking to the Gnolls, "Thank you, that should be fine. Night may work to our advantage." Still wary, Aibek leaned against the side of the bridge, firmly on guard for the Gnolls to leave first.
Rinat had also heard Nexus, but was still watching Azri just in case there was something interesting happened.
Aibek waited for few moments after the Gnolls started to withdraw with theirs before talking to Nexus and the others, "The Council room seems the safest place to discuss this further. After I talk to them, " Aibek nodded towards the city defenders in an attempt to be reassuring, and to Azerna, I'll head there with her...
Rinat's ears perked up at what Aibek was saying and with one last look at Azri to be absolutely sure they weren't going to miss any interesting magic, the young wolf raced off.
Aibek briefly attempted to call Rinat back with no effect. With a sigh, "I did not say...sorry about this. I'll be there shortly. Nexus, if Rinat shows up there, I would greatly appreciate and it would probably be best to distract them with stories from anything delicate..."
With that, Aibek walked over to some of the city defenders to talk.
It took a short time to explain what was happening. It noticeable that the news of the Gnolls imminent return this evening was not met favourably. The guards on the wall were noticeably reinforced when Aibek went to gather the rest of the Council.
By mid-morning the current Council was gathered in the main chamber. "Where would you like to begin?"
Aibek sympathized with their concerns - with recent events, this was a terrible time and Deus probably was expecting that. The advocate councillor attempted to be reassuring to the defenders, arranging an earlier time to meet with them and watch out for the Gnolls, before leaving for home.
Arriving at the Council room with Azerna, it took Aibek a few minute to convince Rinat out from between their chairs to go wait outside.
Rinat did get out from under the table, but instead of leaving entirely, the young wolf laid across the doorway. They made no pretense to not be watching or listening to everything.
To Nexus's question, Aibek considered for a few moments, tight fights at the churning thoughts, "I'm not sure Nexus. If they're to be believed, Deus was to use you and the systems you're connected to to destroy everything -- and I haven't yet thought of a reason why they'd be lying. More extreme than I thought Deus wanted to go, but it fits and they knew too much to just be trying to confuse us for some other purpose. We need methods to ensure your safety & the safety of the other people of Khalharum while stopping Deus from hurting anyone else. Deus'...relationship to you, for lack of any better words, makes you uniquely qualified to help plan stopping her, but...I don't want to see you get hurt."