|GM of the Crusade|
|GM of the Crusade|
Kenabres, city of the crusaders. Normally filled with nervous dread and vigilant eyes, those have been replaced with a few moments of relief and celebration. Armasse is here!
A traditional day for scholars and historians to come together to learn from wars past, since the death of Aroden and the opening of the Worldwound, this holy day has become more about training commoners in weaponry, choosing squires, and ordaining new priests. In Kenabres, the event is widely anticipated, as it provides a brief relief from the horrors of a never-ending war.
The weeks leading up to today, 16 Arodus, has seen smiles on the faces of the usually grim. The entire town is celebrating, with jousting competitions, mock duels, battle reenactments, and other festival events taking place. The opening ceremony happens at noon in Clydwell Plaza, and this is where you currently find yourself.
Take a second to introduce yourself and describe a few things you were doing in the past few hours at the festival, and we'll get this thing started!
Angahaar woke early, as was the custom of many of the Scions. Evil never slept, and while they still had to, it was best to be up as soon as possible. He goes through prayers to Apsu for a safe and joyful Armasse, and runs through combat drills with his cousins. His family would reprise their traditional role of training the commoners to protect themselves from the demons, maybe even pick a few squires to support their fight against evil.
With the early morning's duties done came one of Angahaar's favorite times of the day: breakfast.
The Scion's affluence served them well, and hearty meals were made for the several dozen-odd members of the family, along with their staff, guards, and other retainers. Of note, Argixaran had notified the family that an old acquaintance of his would be staying with them for Armasse, a gnome by the name of Naomi, and that Angahaar should look out for her for the duration of her stay in Kenabres.
Once breakfast was done, he checked in with Naomi, grabbed his gear, his sword, and his armor, and made ready to depart for the festival.
If it's possibly to look completely nonthreatening while riding a wolf into town in the dead of night, Naomi does so.
She's had to push through on little sleep to finish the last leg of her journey in time for Armasse, but her eyes are alive with a giddy excitement as she finally arrives in the hours before dawn. She cranes her neck to stare up at the towering buildings of Kenabres with the look of someone who know's it's a tourist cliche but doesn't care.
In the back of her mind, Naomi is aware she should probably be more on guard. It's not quite a brand new city full of complete strangers, but it's just a fraction of a step less dangerous. She's been to this place as an infant, and she knows the name of a man who helped care for her then, though she doesn't have memories of either. And she has no idea if Argixaran is expecting her, whether he got the letter sent ahead with the last group of merchants.
Any thoughts of these troubles are scattered when for the first time Naomi encounters a group of people on the town's quiet streets, workers putting up a stained glass windows in an Iomedaean church in preparation for the festival. Immediately drawn in by the twin excitements of a craft to learn and people to talk to, she approaches and offers to help. They accept with a bit of confusion, once convinced that the wolf is tame and they're not being robbed. So Naomi busies herself fetching tools, holding ladders, and lending what aid her night vision can provide, chatting all the while. By the time the windows are complete the sun is starting to creep through them, and one of the workers is able to point her to where she can find the Scions of Terendelev.
Her (re?)union with the Scions is somehow a much more awkward exchange. Oh, they are certainly welcoming, especially Argixaran, who speaks fondly of Shelyn's delegation in the crusade all those years ago. It's just that she isn't quite prepared for the sort of family who has breakfast feasts brought to them by servants, and it's all a lot to take in. Before she knows it, she and her wolf Calliope are fed, watered, and heading off to Clydwell Plaza next to a silver-scaled human whose sword is taller than she is. She's feeling a little like she's out of her depth, but also like that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, she chose this. She wanted to see the world? Well, here it is. I'm ready, she tells herself as the opening ceremony begins, for whatever comes next.
Shella doesn't have to attend the festival, but she quite enjoys dressing up and seeing all the people of Kenabres in a daytime context. She watches some games of chance before she spots one of her family members working the crowd and leaves to avoid giving the game away. She eyes some of the food vendors' wares hungrily, but she decides she cannot afford to indulge in delicacies, especially when the prices have been inflated for the event. One day, though, I will be able to have whatever I want, whenever I want, she thinks.
She senses her familiar is drawn more to the libations than the comestibles, and she subtly frees the wasp from her pouch so that she can explore the smells unhindered. "Careful, mother," she says quietly, "do not go far." She sizes up the shopkeepers and a couple of big spenders to try to decide if it is worth her time to lavish attention upon them in the hopes of courting their custom, but decides her prospects are slim while the sun is still high in the sky. "Let's look elsewhere," she whispers to her familiar, gathering her back up into her pouch.
She admires the many would-be crusaders out wearing their fine arms and armor. Knights certainly like to show off their armor, and they are very proud of their swords-- long or short. She smiles to herself and cheers some of the warriors as they pass. Was that a lingering look? she wonders, as one strapping soldier rides by on a horse. Just in case, she blows him a kiss and follows the procession to Clydwell Plaza, where she sees that the opening ceremonies are about to begin.
|GM of the Crusade|
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Regardless of what activities you were involved in before, the three of you find yourself in front of the podium in Clydwell Plaza, shortly before noon.
Armasse officially began as the sun hung directly overhead, with the blessing of the festival by Lord Hulrun himself, ruler of Kenabres. The festival slowed, activities and jousts coming to an end as the crowd gathered in Clydwell Plaza. The people quieted down as the aged inquisitor took the stage, clad in shining, resplendent armor. He cleared his throat, but just as he was about to speak, a bright light shone from the west, as if the sun were rising from the wrong direction. Hulrun’s shadow fell huge and distorted across the cathedral’s facade. A moment later, the sound of a thunderous explosion ripped through the air and earth, along with a violent tremor.
To the west, the fortress known as the Kite—the location of Kenabres’s wardstone—had vanished. In its place, a brilliant plume of red fire, lightning, and smoke erupted into the heavens.
Just a second later, a powerful roar accompanied a welcome sight rising from the crowd—Kenabres’s greatest guardian, the ancient silver dragon Terendelev, who had until that moment been attending the opening ceremony disguised as a human. Her glittery silver scales reflected both the midday sun and the spreading fire around the Kite.
What few crusaders still kept their wits about them quickly attempted to spring into action with calls to arms, but all of that ended when another form appeared, as nightmarish as the dragon was breathtaking. A humanoid shape three times the size of any man, with skin coated in fire and lightning, gripped a flaming sword and whip. The creature’s identity was immediately obvious: Khorramzadeh, the Storm King of the Worldwound, had come to Kenabres!
As the ground continued to shake and disgorge demons into the streets, the dragon and the balor lord clashed above. The fight was over in a few harrowing moments, as the balor cut deep into Terendelev’s body, swooping down to strike the dragon and arresting her charge. A few more blows, and the titanic duo spiraled downwards toward the crowd.
The sight of Terendelev, Kenabres’ most devoted defender, smashing into the facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell is one no witness would ever forget. At that moment, a massive demon erupted at the far end of the plaza, reducing several buildings to ruins as it smashed into this world. The rift it created shot across the plaza, and this time there was no escape—it opened below your feet, angling away into darkness.
Even as you fell, she noticed your plight. Though Terendelev saw death standing over her, she seized this final chance to save a few more souls. After she uttered a few arcane words and stretched out a bleeding talon, you felt her magic take hold of you, slowing your plummet into the darkness as if you were feathers falling into a pit.
“I can’t…let them…d-“
Her words were cut off, quite literally, as the last thing you saw before continuing your steep dive into the darkness was the Storm King standing before the ancient silver dragon, his sword lashing out and cleaving full through her neck. As her severed head clattered against the brick pavement, a last painful cry echoed around the square, before Terendelev lay silent for the last time.
Finally, the rift above you slammed shut, and the light of the world above was gone.
For a moment Naomi's mind is simply unable to process what is happening. She stares in shock and horror as the massive explosion shakes the very ground beneath her feet, and as the Storm King bursts into the world of mortals to rain blow after blow on their draconic defender. When Terendelev crashes down into the Cathedral of St. Clydwell an absurd thought flashes across her mind, completely out of proportion to the immensity of the crisis.
They must have spent so long on those windows.
Then the thought is gone and the ground is gone and Naomi snaps out of her stupor, lunging toward Calliope and clinging tightly to her fur as they begin to fall. Spinning awkwardly through the air, Naomi is facing upward just long enough to see Terendelev slow their fall and get murdered before the rift snaps out of existence. Naomi's vision still pierces the darkness, and she catches brief glimpses of other figures falling around her. That man with the greatsword — what was his name? She must have been told it a million years ago this morning. And another young woman with dark hair, just a blur against the deeper black of their surroundings.
Naomi holds even more tightly to Calliope, and the wolf in turn nuzzles into her shoulder. As they brace for impact, Naomi does the only thing left to do. She prays. Naomi and Calliope cast guidance on each other.
Angahaar's jaw drops as Terendelev rises from the crowd. Never had he seen her in her full draconic majesty. Whatever crisis might arise, Terendelev had in well in hand...
Khorramzadeh had killed her. His burning, blasphemous sword had cleaved her head from her body. Angahaar could not comprehend it at first. How could it be possible? It could not happen. It was an impossibility. And yet there was her body, slamming into the grand facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell.
The magic of her dying gasp protects Angahaar as he falls into oblivion, the draconic magic singing through his blood. His mind swims with fear and sadness and rage. What had happened. How had it happened? How did the demons infiltrate Kenabres?
Who had to pay?
Shella's expression darkens as Hulrun appears on the stage, and she mutters to her familiar some choice words about his parentage and physical attributes that cause the wasp to redden slightly. She turns away to scan the crowd and happens to be looking right at the Kite when the explosion tears through the crowd and the fortress vanishes. She stares in disbelief and begins to look wildly around at the others nearby, to confirm that they are seeing the same things she is. A tall human male in heavy armor with a greatsword, and a small gnomelike woman with a large canine companion, catch her eye and she stares at them unable to formulate a thought as everything collapses around them. She tumbles slowly through the air, head over heels; she cannot believe this is happening, and to her it feels like a dream as the silver dragon reaches out to them and then falls, decapitated by the demon lord. So beautiful, she thinks. Like the moon falling from the sky...
Once she stops tumbling, she realizes she is laughing hysterically in the darkness. She gasps and coughs, and peers around through the gloom, her demon-gifted eyes easily piercing the shadows surrounding them.
|GM of the Crusade|
Even with Terendelev's spell keeping you from splattering across the sides of the hole on the way down, the trip isn't any less terrifying. Rocks and rubble accompany you the entire way.
Once you land, however, you discover you are part of the lucky group. The ones that made it out of the fall alive. The land slide of the rubble of Kenabres that followed you covered the bodies of those Terendelev could not save-here and there the arms or legs of victims who didn’t survive the fall protrude. Looking around, you see the ceiling and far walls of this vast cavern recede into darkness, and notice that you are not alone.
A younger human woman sits against one wall, her leg bent in an unnatural angle as she winces in pain and attempts to keep it still. A much older male elf carrying an interesting looking staff stands off the far side, a bloody bandage completely covering his eyes. And to top it all off, a heavyset human male is worryingly running his hands over his clothes, either looking for something or trying to find some wound.
Beyond the humanoids in the immediate vicinity, a disturbing shape looms in the darkness. Nearly the size of a horse, what appears to be an immense black spider crouches silent and still on the ground. Apparently these three strangers haven't noticed the spider, as they immediately turn towards you upon your arrival.
The human female on the ground grunts and raises her eyes to the group.
"Friend or foe?"
You can tell she desperately needs a friend right now.
As he lands, Angahaar snaps back into reality. Is this reality any better, though, than the fate that befell those who weren't saved?
He shakes his head, trying to banish the thought from his mind. It does nothing. The darkness that surrounds him is overwhelming, a cloying thing, almost physical in it's anger. His face twists into a mask of anguish, tears welling in his eyes.
How was any of this possible? He looks up towards the ceiling, searching for any sign of daylight. All he sees is darkness, and the crushed bodies of those who did not survive the fall. For a moment, he feels as if his consciousness will slip away entirely. His head spins as he grits his teeth to power through it, bitter determination washing over his face.
The woman speaking just barely snaps him out of his state. He clambers slowly to his feet, taking stock of the cavern. The confidence and bravado of his voice that Naomi had heard earlier in the day is utterly gone as he speaks, replaced by confusion and despair, "Friend?"
His hand moves towards his greatsword as he sees the beast lurking in the darkness. The words barely flow from his mouth as if his mind can barely form the words past the anguish that assails him, "Spider. Behind you. It will strike."
|GM of the Crusade|
The woman looks over at Angahaar, noticing how upset he seems to be, but not speaking on it.
"It's good to see another friend in these dark times, even if we aren't exactly friends just yet." She shakes her head, seemingly still in shock over the events of the past half hour.
"Name's Anevia. I would get up and offer to shake your hand, but I seem to have injured my leg. Obviously."
She looks down at her broken leg, and then over towards the spider.
"I'm not sure what's up with that thing, actually. It was there when we landed here in the first place. Hasn't done anything or moved since. I don't know..."
"I am Angahaar, of the Scions of..."
His voice trails off as the color drains from his face. His hand drops limply to his side as Terendelev's execution at Khorramzadeh's wicked hands flashes before his eyes again.
He falls to his knees, sighing heavily. His breath is ragged, and he's barely able to hold back tears. It is a small, sad voice that comes from his mouth, "Of the Scions of Terendelev..."
Angahaar shakes his head. Who was he, wallowing in self-pity as a wounded civilian suffered right next to him. He rises to his feet and says, "I am sorry. Terendelev was," he pauses, composing himself, "Deeply important to me. Her blood runs in me, and her loss cuts to the core. But you are wounded. I must help however I can." He looks to Naomi and the other survivor, "I am a poor healer. Can anyone here mend wounds, magically or otherwise."
When Naomi rolls to a stop, the first thing she notices is the sound of wild laughter. Pushing herself up on one arm, her eyes fall on the young woman she saw during the plummet, just as the woman's laughter turns into a choked gasp. "You okay?" Naomi manages, clambering to her feet and waiting for a response.
At the exchange between Angahaar and Anevia, Naomi's attention gets pulled back to the rest of her surroundings, and she shakily speaks up. "Yeah, I know a bit of the healing arts." She hurries over to the injured woman, drawing an old oak twig from her belt and offering one end to her. As she closes her eyes and concentrates, she adds, "I'm Naomi, by the way. And I'll take whatever friends I can get right now, looks like that's just about all we've got going for us." Cure Light Wounds: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
The wound starts to knit closed, but excruciatingly slowly. "Sorry, the magic in this thing is starting to run out. Think you could walk now with a bit of support? Whether it's been moving or not, it would be nice to get further away from that... creature." She glances at the spider suspiciously, then at the cavernous space around them. Knowledge (planes): 1d20 + 5 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 5 + 1 = 25 Anything she can figure out about the creature or environment?
|GM of the Crusade|
”Nice to meet you, Naomi.” Anevia responds, taking a sharp breath in as you touch her, obviously in a great deal of pain. ”I think that should get me walking, but I won’t be of much use in combat until we can get it healed properly.”
It’s now that the heavy set man speaks up, his voice rough and gravelly. One full of experience.
”Your wife has always been the fighter between the two of you, anyway.”
Somehow, the man makes even this compliment sound like an insult, but Anevia doesn’t take any noticeable offense.
”Now, now, Horgus, you and I both know she’s been through a lot. No need to say such things.”
As for the spider and the room, Know (nature) is much more likely to be of use. It does appear that the rift was natural in origin, if what caused it wasn’t. It appears to be a giant spider, just motionless.
|GM of the Crusade|
Upon hearing Angahar’s words, the last stranger in the room, the older elf, turns towards the group and finally addresses them. It quickly becomes clear that he cannot see, as the bandages completely obscure his vision.
”I’m sorry to hear that, stranger. You have my condolences on your loss. What relation did you share with the grey silver dragon, if you don’t mind me asking?” His voice is sincere and reverent, even though he’s not actually looking in the correct direction to speak to Angahar.
”I feel worse for you than that meddler with the broken leg.” the elf whispers under his breath, so quiet you question whether he actually said it aloud.
Shella gets herself under control and smiles her most charming smile at Naomi. "I am a little shaken," she says lightly, blinking her eyes several times, "but I seem to be uninjured." She watches the little woman tend to Anevia, and stares intently at her patient. I wonder if Anevia remembers me, she thinks. Probably better if she doesn't, or if she does that we keep each other's secrets.
Out loud, she says "It is a great pleasure to meet you, Anevia, and you also Naomi, though of course I regret the circumstances. I am Shella." She gives a little sideways curtsey, looking curiously at the others through half-lidded eyes. "We will need to fashion some kind of crutch for your leg, good lady. There must be something in the debris here that we can use to help you. Excuse me, sir knight? Angahar? Would you help me lift some of these stones? Strong man such as you, your prowess would very much come in handy as we search the rubble for materials to fashion a splint."
”She is…was an ancestor of mine, generations back. The dragon blood is strong, and persists in the veins of my family to this day.” The thought creeps into his mind, ”If they are even still alive…” He steels himself against it, persistent though it is, as he nods to Shella, ”Please, just Angahaar. I am no knight, just a warrior for the side of good. But yes, I will help as I can.” He heads over towards Anevia and begins moving rocks so that the woman might stand again.
Would you want a strength check to move the rubble, GM?
|GM of the Crusade|
It doesn’t take too much effort to search some of the rubble, just a handful of minutes, amd you do manage to find something to make into a crutch for Anevia. What looks like a snapped off wizard staff will do nicely, you think.
”These aren’t exactly the best of circumstances, unfortunately.” Anevia says, grimacing as she remembers what happened on the surface.
”You think so?” comes Horgus’ sarcastic retort, before she can finish talking.
”But we’re not dead yet, so that’s a blessing from the Inheritor herself. And I don’t intend to waste it, personally.” she says, taking the staff and managing to push herself to her feet.
The broken staff is not all you find in the pile of rubble, however. Broken swords and hewn off pieces of armor litter the floor, but the most valuable prize of all lays in three shining silver scales, one for each of you. As soon as you pick one up, you immediately understand that a small portion of Terendelev’s soul stuck with each one, granting them s fraction of her leftover power.
1. Three times per day as a standard action, a scale can be used to cast Disguise Self. While disguised, the target gains a +4 bonus on all Bluff checks made against evil creatures.
2. Twice per day, the scale can be used to cast Resist Energy, but only against cold or electricity.
3. Three times per day, the scale can be used to cast Levitate. A pillar of roiling clouds rises below the levitating object or creature, growing and shrinking with the target’s altitude. This pillar is 5 feet in diameter (regardless of the target’s size) and provides concealment (20% miss chance) to any creature or object wholly contained within.
Naomi frowns at the harsh words from Horgus and the elf, her mouth tightening. She seems hesitant, but takes a breath and speaks. "Excuse me, is there some sort of conflict between you three the rest of us should know about? I don't mean to pry, but you seem awfully snippy for people who are each other's best chance of surviving this cataclysm."
At that Calliope gives Naomi a nudge, holding out a shining scale in her mouth. Naomi reaches down to give her a quick scratch behind the ears and accepts the scale, her eyes widening as she feels the power it contains. But her gaze stays locked on the other survivors.
|GM of the Crusade|
”She is nothing more than a common thief. I suspect she broke into one of my warehouses back up top. I’m sure it was to reclaim that sword her wife had to sell from me.”
His glare at her cuts the air between them, and Anevia freezes, almost seething in anger.
”You know nothing about us.” her reply is short and definitely not sweet, as Anevia doesn’t throw any insults back, curiously.
”Oh but I do, don’t I? And you!” Horgus cries out, turning towards the elf. ”Mr. Aravashnial himself. The conspiracy theorist, attempting to ruin my good name. Saying I was in cohorts with the demons, my funds made available for their use. How dare you?” the larger man is quite obviously under an extreme amount of pressure and out of his comfort zone. Although the reaction of the elf, who you know now as Aravashnial, tells you that what Horgus is saying isn’t necessarily untrue.
Shella clucks her tongue as she listens to their new companions air their grievances. "Yes, it is unfortunate that we have all been forced by circumstance to struggle along together," she purrs. "But fortunately, all is not lost. Come, master Horgus, you can walk with me, and tell me more about the life to which you will return once we reach the surface again." She brushes her hand against his arm as she helps him forward, and as she meets his gaze she gives him her most charming smile.
As Shella leads Horgus away, Naomi blinks, stunned. She turns toward Anevia, stepping close to help her keep her weight off her leg and murmuring under her breath. "We just saw hundreds of people get slaughtered and he's worried about a sword? If your wife's a fighter like they say I hope you did steal it back. I'm sure it has much better odds of slowing down a demon in her hands then it does in one of his apparently-plural warehouses."
Angahaar picks up the scale. This was a piece of her...of Terendelev. Her sacrifice would not, could not be in vain. Finding a place to socket it in his holy symbol of Apsu, he takes a deep breath and steels himself for whatever is to come. With Naomi helping Anevia and Shella handling Horgus, he approaches the elf, Aravashnial, and says, "Do you need help in finding your way?"
As Shella draws out Horgus, she notices Angahaar and Naomi's companion collecting glittering scales, and she peers over at the collection to take one of them for herself. She winks at Naomi as she leads Horgus a little further away from Anevia and Aravashnial.
Can Shella have the one with the disguise self effect? Bluff is one of her primary skills, and she will both feint and seduce people regularly. :)
|GM of the Crusade|
Horgus’ attitude seems to immediately change, as the attention of a woman apparently reminded him of a better time than the one you are all currently living through.
”Well, hopefully whatever demons are and were up there didn’t destroy my family manor. I am sure whatever rabble I had hired for guardsmen flees shortly after everything…happened, but I do hope that the estate itself is in good hands. I have much of value there, should we be able to make it back to the surface…” He continues to ramble on about this and that as Shella leads him away from Anevia, who is visually grateful.
In a quiet tone, she replies to Naomi.
”My wife is a Paladin of Iomadae; I can tell you that she is a very competent fighter indeed. Don’t be too harsh on Horgus, though, he is just extremely out of his element. He is used to pompous affairs and wine, and dead giant spiders and dark caves are just not his forte. He’s a good man on the inside, I assure you.”
Aravashnial, however, seems to be quite lost, both literally and emotionally. You’re not quite sure how he should speak, but most elves don’t speak or act as frantically as he is right now.
”I-uh…help? Finding my way? Well I can’t currently see, so yes I would like some help. Getting back to the surface so I can get my eyes healed. The Rif-“ he abruptly cuts his sentence off before picking back up again. ”I have friends up on the surface that can help me. I’d like help making my way back to them, yes.”
Going back to Shella for a second…
As Shella walks away from Anevia, whether she meant to or not, she has to walk Horgus towards the dead spider. Perception check please, Stella!
Angahaar takes the elf’s hand and places it on his arm, ”Take my arm, then. If battle must start, I may not be able to guide you, but I will make sure you are not close to the fray. Come then, we must move. No way out of here but forward.”
Having purpose, especially that of helping the vulnerable, reinforces Angahaar’s resolve. The pain and loss of the day weighs heavy on his heart but there is work to be done and people to protect.
Naomi returns Shella's wink, then listens closely to Anavia's words. She gives a quick nod. "Understood. I know none of us are in a good place right now emotionally — or literally, for that matter. I hope he makes it back to his warehouses, and I very much hope you make it back to your wife."
On Angahaar's comment, she surveys their surroundings more thoroughly. Appears from the map that her darkvision would reach most of the walls, let me know if that's incorrect. "Looks like we're boxed in on that side, but there might be an opening over there," she comments, pointing. "If nothing else maybe we can find somewhere more sheltered to rest for a few minutes and I can pray for further healing — Shelyn lends me a bit of her magic. I'm afraid I don't think I can do anything for your eyes, Aravashnial, but I could take another shot at fixing Anevia's legs."
Then Naomi's eyes fall on Shella, Horgus, and the spider. Perception (per discord): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
|GM of the Crusade|
As Shella and Horgus approach in the direction of the spider, two horrifying facts come to light: a muffled crunching sound is coming from somewhere in that direction, and there appears to be a bulge wriggling inside of the masisive spiders' abdomen. Or...two? Three?
Perhaps not the best news, but at least you are fairly certain that the spider is, in fact, 100% dead. Maybe.
Horgus sees the things moving beneath the carapace of the spider, and screams out in horror before moving several feet backwards. Recoiling, he obviously wants no part of whatever this involves.
|GM of the Crusade|
Sure! Heal: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Naomi tenses at the sudden movement, her hand reaching instinctively for Shelyn's symbol around her neck. She lets go of Anevia, but not before muttering an incantation to deliver one last spark of bolstering magic. Naomi casts virtue on Anevia. On her other side, Calliope's ears flatten back against her head. Calliope casts guidance on herself. Together they wait, scarcely breathing, for whatever might emerge from the spider's corpse.
|GM of the Crusade|
While we're at it, why don't we all roll initiative? Or should I roll it for the whole group at once, to save time?
I'm fine with either going forward, but in this case I can roll my own. If you do roll them for us in the future, you can assume that unless I've told you otherwise or already used it on something else, I'll use Naomi's Inspired trait to roll twice and take the best on my first initiative check each day.
Initiative Roll 1: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6 Initiative Roll 2: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Fine with me if you roll it, GM! It does make things go quicker, especially if we go in blocks afterward.
Well, if everyone else is doing it... :D
Initiative: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
|GM of the Crusade|
Init 1: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (4) - 1 = 3
Init 2: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (8) - 1 = 7
As the group focuses on the movements inside the spider, two giant wormlike creatures explode from the corpse, throwing viscera everywhere. They undulate forward and slowly begin sliding across the ground towards you, their mouths wide open exposing rows of sharp teeth. However, beyond their usual disgusting features, something seems...off. The maggots have small red spikes along their sides, and their flesh seems to be tougher than normal.
Maggot 1 and 2
Shella, you're up!
Attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Damage: 2d6 + 8 ⇒ (6, 3) + 8 = 17
Crit Confirm: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Crit Damage: 2d6 + 8 ⇒ (4, 3) + 8 = 15
Angahaar lets out a furious roar and charges forward, his greatsword crackling with arcane energy and he slices into the maggot with the pent-up fury of Terendelev's slaying.
Wow, nat 20 on the campaign's first attack roll! That's a good omen if ever I've seen one.
Naomi stares at the creatures with equal parts fascination and horror. Knowledge (planes): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (16) + 9 = 25 to see if those spikes and tough flesh indicate extraplanar origins. At Angahaar's bellow she blinks hard twice, then seems to snap into focus. "Circle around back," she mutters to Calliope, "but wait for my signal to strike. I'm not sending you in alone." Her eyes showing a glint of understanding far greater than any normal animal, Calliope bounds forward and slinks around to the far side of the maggots, teeth bared. She takes a move action to move 50 ft. and end up directly south of the uninjured maggot, assuming standard compass orientation for ease of reference.
Naomi trails after, still clutching her symbol of Shelyn, the wooden songbird around her neck. She breathes slowly, concentrating. Come on, you can do this... just like in the temple... In the air before her, a much larger copy of the symbol appears, at first just an outline but quickly growing more and more vivid as though sketched by an invisible hand. Just when it seems like it couldn't possibly get more lifelike, it comes to life — a brilliant multicolored songbird the size of an eagle, with beak and talons like jagged stained glass.
Activating her summon monster I SLA as a standard action to summon a celestial eagle with Diehard. I'm good with saying it has Deft Maneuvers instead of Weapon Finesse if that works for you, though I doubt that will affect this fight. It appears 5 ft. above ground level and 5 ft. north of the uninjured maggot. Assuming it takes a 5-ft. step forward, uses smite evil, and full-attacks that maggot, which leaves it flanking with Calliope and attacking from higher ground. Don't know if these things are evil so I'm not factoring it in, if so add another point of damage on each of its successful attacks.
Talon Attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13 Talon Damage: 1d4 ⇒ 1
Talon Attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21 Talon Damage: 1d4 ⇒ 4
Bite Attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24 Bite Damage: 1d4 ⇒ 4
Fly: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11 DC 10, to remain flying after moving less than half speed.
As the bird sees the foe before it and swoops in to strike, Naomi cries, "Now!" Calliope lunges forward to snap at the maggot as well. Attacking with Power Attack and guidance.
Bite Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25 Bite Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Crit Confirmation: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8 Crit Bonus Damage: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Whew, summoning really is a lot! Still, easier to manage in writing than at a table. GM, I'll send you images you can use if you want to make tokens for Calliope and the bird and assign them to me.
Shella moves forward in front of Horgus, circling to try and get behind the maggots so she can flank with the other heroic attackers.
Attack (unarmed strike), flanking, Power Attack: 1d20 + 4 + 2 - 1 ⇒ (7) + 4 + 2 - 1 = 12
Damage (bludgeoning), Power Attack: 1d6 - 1 + 2 ⇒ (4) - 1 + 2 = 5
Damage (bludgeoning, sneak attack): 1d6 ⇒ 4
|GM of the Crusade|
With the help of Angahaar’s mighty blow, Naomi’s eagle, and Shella’s flanking, you manage to take down the maggots rather easily. Turns out the most dangerous part of them was the image of them bursting out of the spider.
Anevia laughs as the second one falls, unamused by the threat they posed.
”Well that was easier than I thought it could be.”
”Indeed.” Horgus agrees, slowly losing a bit of the shakiness he first showed upon the maggots’ arrival.
Naomi looks shaken but nods, starting to relax as it becomes clear that the violence has passed. Calliope returns to her side, while the eagle perches on a nearby boulder until it gradually fades in the same manner it appeared. Naomi turns to Shella and Angahaar with a little bit of awe.
"Truly impressive, both of you. Still, maybe we should try to get moving before anything else crawls out of this rubble? Something must have laid the eggs those maggots came from, after all."
Shella regards the corpses with a look of disgust, visibly contemplating what sort of creature would have laid these eggs. She shakes herself and nods. "We had better make ourselves scarce. Who knows what other horrors hide nearby, listening to us and plotting our demise?"
A soft buzzing sound comes from the large, bird-sized wasp hiding inside Shella's cloak. "Oh, where are my manners? This is my friend, who I call Mother. Say hello, Mother. Do not worry, I have not been infested!" She laughs merrily as she extends her palm with her familiar perched in the center, but the wasp crawls back up her arm and ducks back into her clothing.
|GM of the Crusade|
Horgus has regained most of his cool, and takes the first bit of interest in leaving this cave seriously.
"I think we can all agree that we should move on, and quickly. Go on, the more adventurous of us, take the lead and show us where to go.
Anevia seems a bit weirded out at the mention of...'Mother', but does a sort of half wave to the wasp before it disappears.
"With that out of the way, should we get out of here?"
Naomi raises her eyebrows but smiles at the sight of the wasp. "Speaking of which, I don't think I've formally introduced Calliope, she's a good pal of mine. Calli, why don't you lead the way? That nose of yours should keep us aware of any more critters." Naomi points toward the far edge of the cave, where it looks like there might be an opening. Calliope starts toward it and Naom follows a bit behind, closer to the center of the group. She pauses to survey the space one last time, and as she does her eyes seem to shimmer. Activating her detect magic SLA before we go and concentrating on it while we walk.
|GM of the Crusade|