Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Guardians of Sol Povos: The Grand Escape

 We level up; Tavros adds more Natural Armor.

We scramble up onto the line of boulders, and see a cave mouth. We hop down on the far side of the boulders and head for the cave, which seems to be the only way through. Just inside the cave mouth is a large pile of refuse and garbage. Leira uses the wand to Enlarge Alexej, and Marshall starts casting buffs on himself. (OOC: Because of this, we move into Initiative, so we can keep track of buff durations.)

Alexej moves in first, and promptly falls in a pit; his feet smash the spikes at the bottom. The pit is forty feet deep, and goes wall to wall in the cave.

Marshall uses Stone Shape to make foot- and hand-holds for Alexej. Tavros tosses Leira across, and she lands prone on the far side. Alexej starts climbing back up, and gets about a third of the way up. Marshall looks at coming across the pit, but instead warns us that he's spotted a giant bear. Tavros turns and ducks aside just as the first of two giant bears takes a swipe at him.

Leira turns invisible, then stands up. Alexej keeps climbing, and is able to emerge from the pit. Tavros attacks the bear closest to him, hitting twice and cutting it up; Marshall tries to Dominate the one in the back, but fails. The second bear moves up and attacks Alexej, hitting him; The first bear attacks Tavros, but misses.

Leira make Tavros invisible, then moves a bit away. Alexej shoves past the bears, and they try to attack him but miss. Alexej then tries to trip the bear that's focused on Tavros, and it goes down. The bear is prone... and confused. Tavros follows through and stabs it, hurting it fairly badly. Tavros cuts it up again, and it's looking pretty rough; Marshall dominates the other bear, and has him attack the first one. All three attacks hit, and he basically just shreds his buddy.

Leira moves up near Alexej, who fails to notice a pair of giants sneaking up behind him. They smack him in the back, doing quite a bit of damage. Two more giants move up behind them; one has white hair and a beard and is probably the elder.

Tavros moves up invisibly and attacks one of the giants, hitting once; they're wearing some armor, and he misses on the second attack. Marshall sics the bear on the giants. The bear charges, and the giant hits him on the way in. "Bad bear!" except it's in giant, and only Leira understands him. The bear slams into him, and grapples the giant. Marshall casts stone shape and makes himself a bridge, then moves across it.

Leira renders Alexej invisible. Alexej takes a step back and trips the giant. He stabs him a couple of times; then the giant tries to stand back up. Tavros slashes him on the way up; Alexej trips him again and stabs him some more.

The other three giants throw rocks at the only visible target, Marshall. Boulders are extremely painful. Tavros slices the nearest (prone) giant, and takes it down. Marshall orders the bear to pin the giant it's grappling with, which it does. Marshall moves to the side and drops a cure critical on himself.

Leira drops a Fireball in the middle of the giants, and does some fairly serious damage. The mother-giant makes her save; none of the others do. Alexej moves up and tries to trip the mother; she tries to stay upright, but goes down. Alexej follows through again, but misses. She immediately tries to get up again, and Alexej takes her right back down. This time he stabs her after she hits the ground.

She tries to swipe at Alexej, but misses.

The elder moves further back into the cave, and tries to throw another rock at Marshall. It connects, so it's a good thing he healed. Tavros attacks Mother while she's grounded. The bear tries to finish the pinned giant, and gets shoved off. Marshall casts Sanctuary on himself, to avoid being hit with further rocks.

Leira throws Scorching Ray at the big giant, burning him fairly solidly.

The giant tries to throw the Nemean Bear off, but fails. The mother tries to crawl away, and Alexej and Tavros both try to attack her and both succeed; she goes down. Daddy Giant: "Maaargrot!" He drops to his knees and starts pleading for mercy from the Dark Gods and these spirits they have sent.

Tavros doesn't understand the words, but the meaning of the gesture is apparent to him; and Leira, of course, speaks giant. Leira speaks everything.

Marshall has the bear continue attacking the giant; it pins the giant again. Leira explains that the giant seems to think that he's angered the Dark One. Alexej: "Mister Big Man, show us out of cave, we not murder you."  Leira translates that into Giant.

Giant: "Oh! Yes! This way. Please! Spare Gorm, call off bear!"

Marshall sends the bear back to squeeze into the pit.

Gorm gets up, and throws Mother and his brother into the trash pile. Athis, the leader, leads us out of the cave; Marshall throws a cure critical at Alexej.

Tavros is hearing a voice -- Amon? Sasha? He isn't sure -- urging them to move faster. The giants lead us into the next room. It's a sort of living room; the entrance to the cave is small, and blocked with rocks.

Sasha's voice fills the room: "I can't hold him back! He sees you!"

Leira: "If you hurt my Sasha, I'm coming for you!"

Voice: "There is no Sasha!"

Tavros: "Everybody out of the cave!" A rumbling sound fills the cave. He's gesturing for the giants to get up there and shove the boulders out of the way.

That's about the point where a purple worm comes up in the middle of the room, and tries to swallow elder Athis. Athis manages to push the jaws open and fling himself out. It also pops a stinger out and stabs the giant with it.

Leira makes herself invisible again, and moves back. Alexej moves up and attacks, but misses. He attacks again, and does some damage to the giant smegging worm. Marshall moves in under cover of Sanctuary, and tries Slay living; it takes some damage but doesn't die, and Marshall's sanctuary is gone.

Gorm runs for the door; the worm attacks him as he passes, and swallows him. Athis clubs the thing as hard as he can, and Tavros follows his fine example with a pair of *very* solid power attacks (DnD 3.5 Falchion plus Improved Critical, plus the house rules allow for extended criticals; so double and triple damage, respectively, on top of the addition from power attack) and kills the thing. Gorm pops out, and Tavros helps him back to his feet. Gorm looks... stunned.

Leira explains that, yes, Tavros is a god. Athis comes and pledges fealty; Tavros has Leira explain that they must accompany us so that we can deliver them. The bear can come along as well.

Leira: "The bear is coming with us! No dominating. He says he can control it."

Alexej: "Bear-master come with us?"

They go pull Ralph the Bear out of the pit, then come back and move boulders out of the way. There's a path through the mountains and down to the village.

Athis, to Leira: "The village is full of small people." Leira is confused by what "small" means in this context.

Leira: "He says there's a village of small people, our size, called Phanax; there's a lord with a spear on his shield, who kills centaurs. Apparently this lord gets off on killing them. So, what, do you want me to avoid the lord, talk to the lord? Oh, the Chosen One is supposed to make a decision."

Tavros: "Does he know how to get us out of this land?"

Leira asks.

Leira: "He says this is the only land, there's no way out, and small people have searched but found nothing since they are stupid."

Leira comes and grabs Tavros' arm; Athis is impressed by this sign of her worthiness. Tavros: "Marshall, how did you get out the last time?"

What actually happened: "We were immaterial; we met the magiknights at castle Dematin, and went to the cemetery where the dark one and his cohort were buried. We wound up fleeing towards a portal, and when we went through we woke up as skeletons."

What Marshall actually says: "There was a goddam light, and it whisked us up and we wound up in skeleton bodies. We should take a different direction."

The giant would like to be healed, and it sounds like we're going to have to kill the Dark One and clearly (as far as he's concerned) we're going there right now to begin Armaggedon or some giantish equivalent.

Tavros: ::sigh:: "I don't suppose you know where this Dark One is? It wouldn't happen to be a tower in a swamp, would it?"

Leira... "Tower gone? Is the Dark One dead? Great. We need to kill a ghost who's haunting the entire world. The king rules the castle unseen, and the priests run everything."

Leira continues carrying on an oddly one-sided conversation with the giant.

Tavros: "Come, let us go and talk to the humans. What would it take to heal the giants?"

Marshall: "A bit of effort."

He heals Athis up, but Gorm and Alexej and Marshall are still injured. Marshall drops some additional curing, and we head on. It takes us a few hours of walking through the rain to get to the human town. The giants stop us when we get to an area of farms and compounds. The banner from the nearest compound is a soldier impaling a centaur. The giant thinks the lord dwells in this compound.

Tavros: "Come! Let us greet this human lord!"

The giant nods and comes along with us.

As we approach the compound, there's... a barn. And it looks very familiar to Alexej. "Oh, no! Pig lady barn!" (OOC: reference to something way back.) Then: "May be barn with my friend inside! We check."

As we get down next to the compound, there are some soldiers that have been turned to stone. (They... probably shouldn't have looked up at the sky just as Marshall waved the Medusa head at the vision back in the tower.) We come to one of the windows, and see Cristobol chained to the wall.

Alexej: "Eh! Is Cristobol!"

Cris: "The guards will hear you!"

Alexej: "The guards are stone!"

Cris: "The madness has taken me."

We come round the corner to the door, and find ourselves facing two guards; Athis grabs their spears and kills them. Leira flickers, oddly; she herself doesn't notice. Gorm pokes her to make sure she's still there. Leira: "Ow."

Tavros kicks the door in.

The guy inside is wearing an iron collar and is chained to the wall; he's dressed in the colors of some minor lord. It's the same emblem: the centaur being impaled.

Guy: "Who are you?"

Tavros: "I am Tavros, newly-appointed Solari and apparently Chosen One for this realm, though we're none of us too sure about that last part. Alexej, my good man, come and greet your friend."

The giants set up as bodyguards.

Alexej: "My friend!"

Cristobol: "You shouldn't be here!"

Alexej: "Why not? We rescue you!"

Cristobol: "But I am dead!"

Alexej grasps his hand. "I am not dead, you see?"

Cristobol. "You must be, to be here. I am sorry for all the things I've done. You must understand, it was Maldeos!"

Leira: "Likely story."

Cris: "I would never betray my soldiers or my garrison."

Alexej: "You should come with us."

Tavros moves towards the chains, and Athis steps up and rips the chain out of the wall and then hands the chain to Tavros. Tavros sets the chain down and makes the "take the collar off" gesture.

Leira brings the giants up to speed: "Do not question the Chosen One."

Athis drops to the ground in supplication, then rips the collar off Cristobol.

Cris: "I know of one ally in this place, a man called Rygar, who leads an ancient order called Magiknights. The priests here serve the dark one, and the magiknights fight them and live in a magically protected castle."

Marshall flickers, this time.

Alexej: "Cristobol, can you lead us to the castle?"

He starts drawing us a map.

Marshall disappears.

Leira, looking at where Marshall was standing while Alexej looks at her: "I can make him invisible, I can't make him uninvisible."

Athis starts asking Leira questions. Leira: "Not totally sure."

Alexej starts flickering a little bit. He grabs Cristobol's hand.

Cris: "It's a vision!"

Tavros starts flickering a little bit and Leira grabs Tavros' hand. Tavros sticks his hand out towards Athis, who grabs it.

Alexej winks out; he's just gone. Cris: "What's happening??? Alexej???"

Leira starts swearing in Formorian.

Tavros: "Cristobol! Over here! Grab one of us! I've no idea if this will work."

Flickering takes us out of people's hands. Tavros whips Cristobol over his shoulder, but then he flickers out and Cristobol drops.

The stone giants and Cristobol all look at Leira. Leira: "How should I know what to do?"

Cris: "Surely you must have some guidance?"

Leira is pretty sure that whatever sent us here is breaking down or failing. Cris: "I'll go to the castle. Look for me there!"

Leira tells the giants to follow Cristobol to a place where they will make ready to face the dark one, and absolutely do not, in the name of the Chosen One, do not eat Cristobol."

It's a bit awkward for a few minutes after that; then Leira flickers out too.

...And we're back in the tower, and Sasha is there and the cage has been smashed. Sasha: "Leave, you must leave."

Leira tries to hug Sasha. He nods, affirmed. "There is good left in me, I swear it."

Leira: "Remember, when you're feeling better we're getting married."

Sasha {gapes at her}: "I destroyed the apparatus. The eye, I must take to my master. The field is gone."

Leira: "Excellent. I'll see you later."

Sasha intercedes before Tavros can take a swing at the eye. Under the circumstances, Tavros decides to respect that. We leave. 

At this point we've successfully disrupted the soul-harvesting/skeleton creating operation, and we'll pick up with the Elvish party next; but in between, we'll run a couple of weeks of the Saltmarsh campaign.

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