Saturday, August 22, 2020

DnD 5e Interlude: White Plume Mountain 6

We're looking at the trident and the beast in the burning bubble.

Character Recap:
Jhuni Blackfire (she/her) - enthusiastically pyromaniacal Sorcerer/Wizard
Thelmor Irdro (he/him) - Blood Hunter of the Lycan persuasion
Nil (they/them) - badass Cleric
Snow (she/her) - Swashbuckler and Gloomstalker Ranger
Sunrise (she/her) - Lore Bard - and Honey (she/her) her homunculus familiar
Perfect (he/him) - Battlemaster fighter
Grey (he/him) - Assassin/Illusionist

Sunrise has an interesting plan involving Dimension Door - basically, just bamph out to the trident, grab it, and bamph back. Likely the beast will show up the moment she appears out there, but that's the best of several plans that we've talked through. Sunrise takes a deep breath and teleports out to where the trident is.

She can feel the sweltering heat coming form the walls around her. (This would make amazing sauna.) The trident is sticking points-down in the sand. She steps forward, grabs the trident, and... it's stuck. Not like it's in sand, but like it's in rock. She starts to carefully pull it loose, and something shifts beneath her feet in the sand. She knees and tries to brush the sand away from the base of the trident. The surface beneath the sand is... rocky and bumpy, not smooth, and vaguelly familiar: it's some kind of chitin.

Yeah, there's something under the sand, and the trident is stuck in it.

As Sunrise is wondering what to do about this, she feels everything starts to shift again. She messages Nil: "New development. The trident is stuck in a giant crab. I think he's going to notice me at any minute."

After a brief consultation, Sunrise uses Dimension Door to return. She explains the situation. Options:
-Restore spells by resting, then try it again with someone strong. 

-We could try to sedate it; Nil has brought along an alchemy kit. 

-Grey could put together a poison and dope up the remains of the dead ogre from earlier, and we could just throw that in there. 

Crabs are scavengers, but the creatures here may be trained to prefer living flesh. Still, it might work...

How big is it? Well, big enough to stand on, obviously; Sunrise thinks probably 10x10, maybe as much as 20x20. (OOC: Large or Gargantuan.)

As we're discussing this, something glances off of Grey - like an attack that just barely missed.  Nil gets an impression of something behind him. Apparently, we're back in combat. Grey is not actually surprised by this; he spins in place and comes up with dagger. He stabs, and hits... something. We're suddenly now hearing a sort of whistling wind, but we don't see anything. Sunrise can't really perceive the thing, so she draws her rapier and says: "I don't think you're our enemy; why don't you come out and talk to us. She settles back into a defensive position. We hear the sound of wind without seeing it; Nil makes out some hint of Auran words, something like "found" and "target". Nil casts a spell and reads its thoughts: It feels like they're on to of a mountain; there's wind and air and clouds and it's almost dizzying; it's mulling over impressions of our party members, almost as if it's been given a report about us. "Master's targets. Must kill. Can only go home by killing Master's targets." As a knowledge cleric, Nil can try to influence the thing's thoughts; they attempt Suggestion and suggests that it go home to Master. It's convinced. 

They say, "This is a creature of air; it's been sent to kill us, but I am sending it home to its master." Grey looks impressed.

Jhuni considers this, then decides to hold her action. Thelmor can actually see a faint shimmer in the air, slightly displaced shadows; he knows where it is. He holds action against it attacking any of us.

It sweeps away down the corridor, leaving us behind.

Nil: "It was an invisible stalker; they're summoned monsters, which are given tasks. They don't generally don't have free will; they're basically either fetches or magical assassins. This one was after us specifically. Someone knows we're here and is moving against us directly."

We go back to the where we felled the ogre and grab us a chunk of Ogre meat; it's a bit rat-gnawed, but still there. We mix up a couple of batches of pretty strong poison and inject it into the meat. We use Mage Hand to pile the meat inside the door, and Thelmor throws one last piece of meat and actually managed to hit the trident with it. The trident begins to rise up out of the sand.

The crab is about 15' across; it's easily the biggest crab we've ever seen. This is the great-grandaddy of giant crabs. The trident is sticking out of its back, and on its right claw the crab has a band of shiny bronze or copper metal. Elven runes are etched into the metal: protection, bravery, loyalty... It may be a magical band, or it may just be crustacean friendship bracelet. We're not sure.

Beside being quite large, the crab seems kind of battered; the shell is cracked in various places. A lot of places. The crab should actually be dead. So... we may have wasted a bunch of poison. The eyes at the end of stalks are misty, not the shiny black we were expecting. Nil, using Arcane Eye, also spots another bracelet on the other claw to defend it against turning. Yes, definitely undead.

Nil and Grey are annoyed; Keraptis is probably laughing himself sick. Thelmor, looking at his axe. "Well, there are some things magic won't turn." Nil thinks we could probably take the thing, but it's going to be rough. Nil casts Shield of Faith on Thelmor, and Grey has conjured a semi-illusionary horse and turned it over to Thelmor. The plan is for Thelmor to move in close enough to teleport up onto the crab's back.

As we walk into the room, we notice that the crab is out and wandering around; it hasn't settle back into its burrow. We have a clear target, at least. And the trident isn't the only thing on its back; there's something else up there. Or someone; it's a blue-skinned elf, and he pulls out the trident easily. He points it at us, challenging, and the crab gets ready for an attack.

Grey, thinking to himself :So each of the weapons presumably has some sort of "owner" here in the dungeon.

Grey makes an illusion of himself, but thirty feet ahead of the group. The Elf on the back of the crab is not at all fooled by this.

Thelmor, on horseback, in Elvish: "Are you the one responsible for the condition of this crab?"

With an old-time accent, the elf answers: "This is not my doing, but by my enemy's."

Thelmor: "Then do you wage war against us?"

Elf: "It is not my wish, but I do."

Thelmor slows the horse. "What compels you to attack?"

Elf: "My master compels me to destroy you, one way or another."

Thelmor: "And if we destroy you?"

Elf: "I long for the dark sleep."

Thelmor: "Are you undead? Did this master raise you from the dead?"

Elf: "You speak truth."

Thelmor: "Well... for your sake and the sake of the Raven Queen, we do what we must."

Elf: "I will thank you in the afterlife. For now, I will do my best to kill you." He resumes a battle stance.

Thelmor, to the rest of us: "We must slay him! There is no other way!"

Thelmor advances on the illusionary horse.

Nil and Jhuni are sad that they don't get to seduce him. Thelmor dismounts and readies his axe, but doesn't immediately attack.

Jhuni attempts to persuade him: "Are you sure you wouldn't prefer to destroy me... in bed?"

He looks at her blankly, then looks back at Thelmor. So... Jhuni fireballs him, placing the explosion carefully behind him to avoid immolating Thelmor. Sunrise strolls forward, playing her lute and asking if he understands common. He looks directly at her, but doesn't answer. She plays a wandering melody: "I'm sorry for your situation. We don't want this any more than you do. Drop the trident, and we will make it quick."

He is not persuaded. "My apologies, but no. To battle!" He attacks Thelmor, who has gone werewolfy, and hits him. Thelmor was expecting this, and attacks and does some damage. The crab attacks the illusion, and the claw goes right through it; if they weren't clear on it being unreal before, they are now. Perfect calls encouragement to Thelmor, who gets to attack again. He smacks the elf with his axe again.

Nil throws up Spirit Guardians, and flying angry angels fill the air around us, attacking the elf and the crab. Nil looks troubled. Thelmor motions, and suddenly his axe has little sparks of lightning dancing around it. He smiles, and attacks, and does more damage. Jhuni drops another fireball, but the damage doesn't seem to be as much as it should be; the crab responds flawlessly to his guidance, allowing it to avoid the worst of the damage. Sunrise moves up, still playing a winsome melody. "We have a common enemy. Throw down your weapon, and let us take revenge on the one who did this to you." He shrugs off the magical suggestion, and guides the crab around to a new position; he attacks Thelmor, and hits. The crab attacks also, and slams him with a claw. Thelmor pries himself free before it can pick him up, and snarls at it.

Perfect moves in and attacks the crab, but the Elf intercepts the blow for the crab; we each see a sudden blur of overlapping visions; old memories, perhaps, from the elf. Perfect's second attack slices into the sea elf for quite a lot, and he steps back to pose. "Come now, let's see what two magical weapons can do together!" He seems to have the sea elf's attention.

Nil moves over and drops some healing on Thelmor while their conjured angels do more damage to our opponents. Thelmor wags his tail in appreciation. (OOC: we're not a hundred percent sure that a Lycan Blood Hunter has a tail when he transforms, but... this one does now.)

Grey, meanwhile, slides in and puts a dagger under the latch on the metal bracelet and pries; he bends it a bit, but fails to wrench the bracelet off. Grey uses his Cunning Action to get back out of range.

Thelmor attacks the crab, hoping to damage it while it's distracted; but the Sea Elf again intercepts. Still, Thelmor does a pretty good amount of damage. Jhuni drops another Fireball on the Sea Elf and his crab, doing more fire damage. Sunrise attempts another Suggestion, trying to get the elf to throw down the trident. The Sea Elf says, in Old High Elvish, "I cannot throw down this trident; it is a part of me as I am a part of it. I will hold back until you have defeated my mount." He sits cross-legged on the back of the crab.

The crab moves away, absorbing attacks from Thelmor and Perfect in the process. It moves quite a ways back and assumes a threatening posture. Perfect moves after it and attacks again, and hacks one of its legs most of the way off.

Nil observes the amulet on the sea elf's chest; it's another of the ones designed to make turning undead impossibly difficult. The spirit guardians are still active, but Nil honorably exempts the sea elf from their attacks. The crab, however, is still getting attacked. It takes damage from the angels, and then Nil drops some Necrotic damage on it as well. The elf twitches, but manages to remain still.

Thelmor teleports over beside the crab, putting himself uncomfortably close to the edge of the bubble, and attacks. The crab counter-attacks, but misses. Jhuni moves up and tries to zap the friendship bracelet with Scorching Ray. One ray, two rays, three rays... but the fourth one misses. It's enough: the band gives up and falls away from the claw.

The crab looks confused, and perhaps alarmed, but not especially damaged. And it still looks hostile. Jhuni blasts it with firebolt, and without its band that's enough to hurt it. Sunrise trades her lute for her rapier, and moves in to thrust at the crab. She catches a soft spot, and bubbles and foam begin to come from its mouth; it collapses, and she can feel the powerful necromantic magics disperse. She looks up at the sea elf: "Sorry, friend."

The Sea Elf stands, looks at us, and raises the trident. Then he charges at Sunrise and attacks, hitting twice with the trident, then follows up with a palm strike and then a kick. Perfect is annoyed by this, and steps in to attack; he hits once, and looks at Sunrise: "Just because everything has to be perfect doesn't mean you have to die perfectly." He gives her 6 temporary HP.

Nil re-tasks their guardians, who turn on the Sea Elf again. They also touch Sunrise, and restore some hit points. Nil: "Wait, are you an ancestor of Selanar Qivaris?"

He looks at Nil and nods. "I married a woman who gave me her last name, Quivaris."

Sunrise: "What is your name?"

Elf: "They would probably best know me as the wave-splitter."

Grey slides around everyone, comes into the spot where his illusion has been standing all this time, and stabs the Sea Elf - not for a huge amount of damage, but there's something to be said for suddenly replacing your illusion with yourself. The Wave-Splitter looks startled and displeased; he was not expecting this.

Thelmor follows up with a move-in-and-attack, damaging him further.

Jhuni attacks with Scorching Rays, hitting him twice and burning him more.

Sunrise attacks with her rapier, crits, and does a respectable amount of damage.

Wavesplitter attacks Thelmor, and attempts some extra effect which fails. He manages to slide out from the middle of us, and moves away down the field to put some distance between us and him. Perfect switches to longbow and positions himself beside Grey; he looses two arrows, missing with the first. The Sea Elf catches the second and throws it back at him in a full-on Monk move.

Sunrise: "Now that's just dirty pool." She uses her bardic ability to disrupt the attack, but it still hits and Perfect actually takes damage. Finally.

Nil moves up to bring her angels into range again; she then tags the Elf with Toll The Dead. Grey moves up a little and tries Color Spray, but Wavesplitter is still hale enough to be unaffected. Thelmor: "Why do you run away from that which you seek?" He moves in, brands him with a spell, and attacks.

Elf: "You dare brand me!?"

Thelmor: "The Raven Queen calls. You dare run away from your fate?"

Jhuni moves up and throws another Scorching Ray and then uses sorcery points to add a fireball. Sunrise moves up and casts Detect Thoughts, asking: "Would you like to be remembered? What is your story?"

Quick flashes of memory: a war between the tribes of the land and the peoples of the sea, growing from raids to battles; then a woman enters the picture, a woman who fights fiercely but spares his life. She smiles. She is trying to kill him; she is sparring with him in secret. There's a wedding, that carries with it a peace treaty. He is passing Wave to their child. He is old and dying now, surrounded by their family as he prepares to let go. 

Sunrise is already composing a ballad in her head.

The elf attacks Thelmor: "Do not hold back anymore!" He does a big chunk of damage, sticks the trident in the sand, and tries unarmed attacks; one hits, doing a bit more. Thelmor grins as the brand zaps him. Perfect: "Are you really going to take that?" He gives Thelmor an extra move, and Thelmor slams his axe into Wavesplitter and cuts the elf down. The trident falls, and the elf looks stunned. Then, as he starts to fall, he smiles. As he hits the sand, the body comes apart into small balls of light that float up and away. The necromantic magics dissipate around them as the lights form back together above the trident. His skin is now a vibrant turquoise and he smiles; a tiny ghost-crab circles his shoulder. He smiles at all of us, bows, and says: "Thank you so much for freeing me. You must end the wizard's curse, and defeat him once and for all."

Thelmor lets loose with a mournful howl before he transforms back. We stop for another long rest.

(The band on the crab's claw was a protection spell that prevented charm, fear, and paralysis.) We'll pick up next time with treasure and other follow-up; we're out of time now.

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