Monday, 27 January 2014

Session 59 RL17 - 31/6/1480 Die Zirithian Die

Theme music for the session - "Two Steps from Hell" - link courtesy of Tim (Quinn).

Lirael's account:
“It’s a horde coming at us!” shouted Paelias from his high vantage point. He set a few arrows flying, not stopping to even see if they hit, and scrambled down the wall.

There was a brief moment as everyone looked first at each other and then at the black portal leading into the pyramid. Did they have a choice? It seemed not. With one accord, they all began running towards the shimmering inky darkness, slathering on the foul smelling slime the hag had given them at the same time. What lay on the other side? Lirael motioned to Pealias, and the two of them dragged Jorah’s lifeless body along with them. He would have no need of the salve.

The darkness was absolute and all-consuming. They were falling and not falling at the same time. Lirael heard an oily voice inside her head. “You yet have some strength left…but will you keep it for yourself or give it freely for your friends?” She wasn’t sure she could trust the voice or even what it meant exactly, but she thought of Pealias, bloodied but resolute and Jareth, steadfastly ignoring the many wounds he had earned. “Take what you must,” she said, “and may they be saved if it is in my power.” She felt a sharp wrench of pain, a deep horrible twist inside, and then a blinding flash and the ground beneath her feet.

She stumbled, bumping Jorah – Jorah! He stood, blinking as she did against the gauzy grayness of the featureless Abyss. Jorah, but still with the cloak of death about him. He saw her looking and shrugged, as if to say it is what it is. She gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze and looked around. Everyone was looking around uneasily, waiting.

“Only the dead may continue,” said a voice. “And I smell the stink of life on some of you yet.” They turned as one to see a tall dark figure pointing a bony finger at them. “If you would go on, you must prove yourselves.”

Quinn stepped forward, her words spilling around the man – was it a man or a thing? – until the sheer force of her personality seemed to convince him. Then Jorah looked the creature in the eye, raised his palm in the air, and stuck an arrow through it. “You may pass,” the Keeper said, nodding his approval.

Pealias stepped forward, thinking to prove himself the same way, but fool the Keeper with his fast hands. But the trick went wrong in his already weakened state, and he could not keep himself from flinching as the arrowhead bit into his hand.

“You lie,” said the Keeper. They all saw as Pealias’ name appeared within the book the Keeper carried. “And Orcus has taken note.” The Moon Elf paled even more than normal and stepped back.

Lirael stepped right up to the creature, hoping to distract it. She stuck her hand up to its face. “Smell of my dead flesh,” she said in what she hoped was a suitably dull tone, “and let me pass.” He let her go on. The bluff had worked. In turn, the rest of them submitted themselves for inspection and passed, Dunstan suffering a smashed finger in stoic silence, Arya covering the flow of blood with magehand, and Jareth’s legendary endurance proving itself once again.

What would be next?

Orcus. The Demon God himself, standing in front of them on his powerful goat legs, his bloated body slick but as wrinkled as a maggot. He flapped his great wings and the smell of death surrounded them. He carried a skull-tipped rod, the hollow eyes seeming to stare through them. They each heard his voice in their heads and each answered him in turn, not knowing what the others were thinking.

When it came her turn, Lirael readily agreed that she would kill Zirithian. It was no lie. She could tell Orcus did not trust her completely, but he could tell that she was not lying. She would do everything she could to kill Zirithian. “And pledge to bring the sword Nightbringer to me,” continued Orcus.

“You shall see the sword again,” she thought to him. And so he would – hopefully as it embedded itself in his eye.

Then it was time. Lirael stepped closer to Jorah but then suddenly they were elsewhere, stumbling into each other at the sudden transition. Jorah slumped to the ground, completely lifeless once more.

They were in the hall of the Rotted Throne, the smell of blood thick in the air. Multi-colored lights glowed from the room ahead of them and thick stone paved the hallways around them. Was that a low, evil chuckle?

“Show yourself, Zirithian!”

Instead, they heard the shuffling of many feet ahead and to the right down a dark hall. And ahead of them, the tall menacing figures of some Boneclaws in the throne room, visible around the side of a large statue.

“Coward!” Bellowed Jareth. “We named you a coward before, Zirithian, and now you hide behind the skirts of your minions!”

Some ghouls crept out of a room to the right. And there was a crackle and a hiss of flame somewhere to the left.

They went forward as a group, Jareth leading the way into the throne room.

“Is this how you would prove yourself exarch?” sneered Lirael. “We have been weakened in battle and you cower behind your allies. Come out, Zirithian, and fight!”

The Drow finally appeared, followed by Lord Dust. He laughed at them from across the room. “I am here,” he crowed. “And you, as promised, shall fall and bring me to my glory!”

Lirael muttered a prayer to Meliekki and drew an arrow from her quiver. She had a shot at him and knew she had to take it now. She had never tried this tricky shot before and the last few times she had tried any attack of great skill she had failed. She could not fail this time. “For Jorah,” she whispered as she loosed the first of three arrows. Amazingly, they all found their mark, embedding themselves into Zirithian’s dark flesh. No one was more surprised than he—and Lirael.

Dunstan, in the back, moved to engage a group of ghouls, placing himself between them and Arya. The wizard in turn cast a spell weaving a cage of lightning, immediately immolating some vampire spawn that had come at them from the dark hall. Pealias sidestepped an attack and weaved his way to a better position.

Quinn sent a viscious attack Zirithian’s way and then all stilled as Jareth began a charge towards the Drow. He tried to squeak past the towering Boneclaws but they were not fooled. The first merely wounded him, but the second took him down with a clatter and he slid across the floor. The gem in the eye of the dragon statue gleamed for a moment.

Zirithian summoned the Winds of Deadhold against Lirael but could not sway her as she stared in horror at Jareth’s still form. He tried again, this time ensnaring Quinn and dragging her to him in the room with the pit. He turned himself into a swirling mass of bats and hovered above the pit, laughing coldly as Quinn struggled, her feet stuck to the spot.

The ghouls and Boneclaws and spawn attacked, some falling, some failing to hit, others successfully drawing blood. Then Pealias fell and the dark eye of the dragon gleamed again.

When Quinn found enough strength to fight, she struck back at Zirithian, surprising him for the last time. The cloud of bats exploded or imploded, it was hard to tell which, and Zirithian was no more. The sword Nightbringer fell into the pit and the very walls shook and rumbled.

The hand of Orcus rose out of the pit on one side and his eye on the other. They all felt his voice echoing inside them as he demanded, “Give me the sword!”

Quinn splashed into the pool and grasped the sword. She turned to Orcus’ hand and held out the sword, then shouted triumphantly, “The Dark Lady says hello!” and cast the blade directly into his eye instead. There was a howl of anger and the walls began to crumble.

Lord Dust cried out, “Flee, you fools!” and ran. But the rest of them stayed where they were, staring openmouthed at the sudden appearance of two goddesses in the throne room, their beauty in stark contrast to their surroundings.

The final battle:
Zirithian - Level 17 Elite (compare Al'Ahz'Ahmin the Rakshasa Level 19 Elite)
Lord Dust, Lich Keeper of Midnight Ziggurat - Level 18
4 Abyssal Ghoul Devourers - Level 18
2 Boneclaw Impalers - Level 17
12 Vampire Spawn Bloodstalkers - Level 14 Minion
Immolith - Level 15

Al'Ahz'Ahmin escapes: 0
Stopping Donald the Slaughter Wight: 2,000  
Escaping Hordethrone (instead of doing a '300'): 8,000
Through the Gate of Shadows, the Three Challenges 10,000
Defeating Zirithian 20,600
Total: 40600/6=6766
+412 session account XP=88000
Need 83,000 for 17th level
Need 99,000 for 18th level

 Time is 4.10am 31/6/1480 DR
Can extended rest 2pm

Postscript: GM: Dust and rubble fall from the ceiling as the Rotted Throne begins to collapse. Lord Dust and the other undead are fleeing for the exit. Shar and Selune beckon you, and you hurry into the swirling black vortex, those in better shape helping Jareth and Pealias along. As the portal begins to close, looking back you see the large feline form of the Rakshasa Tyrant Al'Ahz'Amin emerge from a side chamber, arms loaded with piles of Hordethrone's treasures, a golden crown cocked at a jaunty angle on his head. He sees you and gives you a wave and cheery grin. Then the portal closes, and again you fall Into Darkness...

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