View Full Version : Streets of Atalya Volume Two: Tentacles

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2007-07-31, 03:33 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"Xan Yae, eh? I've never had much contact with her acolytes or servants--you being the first I remember. What is her doctrine? And what drew you to her worship?"

2007-07-31, 06:32 PM

Horacio pulls out a black lotus holy symbol and hangs it around his neck.

"Xan Yae is a seeker of truth and balance. She believes that when you achieve perfection, you melt into the universe, become one with it, seeing yet unseen, felt yet unnoticed. Not just perfection of the body, but the mind as well. After all, 'What use is power without the will to control it and the knowledge to aim it?'

"When I realized that, I sought Her out. I learned from Her. I improved. And She showed me how to find the unseen paths. That is why I follow Her.

"...that, and there are so few deities kind to those who live in the shadows."

Horacio frowns for a moment.

2007-07-31, 07:11 PM

At the sight of Horacio's lotus holy symbol, Daewell cranes forward for a look, and then relaxes.

Well, that's something of a relief. With all of his portentious talk of shadowy gods, I'd half been afraid he was some kind of Nerullite, or Vecnan. Xan Yae. Yes. I suppose that would match the philosophy Horacio espouses.

2007-07-31, 10:29 PM
The other side of the door reveals a short hallway that leads to a long, winding staircase leading down. Along the walls are frescoes and other atworks detailing notable events in the goddess' life, as well as gods and mythological figures associated with her. At the end of this stairwell is a large, manmade, underground room.

As the party enters it the room is lit up by a series of glowing runes arranged around the walls. In the center of the room, which seems to have no other entrances, there stands two statues, one of them a representation of a demonic creature in flight, wings spread and carrying a great sword. In front of it stands the image of Xan Yae herself, smiling enigmatically, clutching a large scroll protectively to her bosom. The statue of the demon is carved from red sandstone, while the lady herself is done in exquisite obsidian. Perfunctory examination of the two statues reveal that their props- the sword and the scroll- seem to be removable.

Horacio is aware that the trick here is to select the tool that any intelligent adherent of the lady would rather have on their side in a tight spot. And the answer is obviously the sword, because even if it's a bit too large for subtle work any weapon is better than a whacking useless piece of parchment when your bollocks are against the wall.

2007-07-31, 10:40 PM

Horacio smiles and pulls out the sword.

"Of course, sometimes the direct route is best..."

Horacio continues leading them deeper in, solving the puzzles they come across.

As much as I'd like to watch them figure it out, we need to be prepared by tonight. Maybe I'll walk them through it on the way out tomorrow morning...

2007-08-01, 08:56 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Although he was the second one into the room, Tokugal was the last to leave it: he was trying to study each of the paintings in turn. It's always the same in any museum: nobody else in the group pays enough attention to the exhibits. You'd think it was a time trial.

He sighed and quickened his steps so as not to be left behind.

Yes, I'm one of those who's always lagging behind in a museum. Why am I there if not to examine, read, and experience everything?

2007-08-01, 04:54 PM
Dai quietly memorizes the path being taken, and looks back at the way they've come periodically.

"I take it there isa way out as well, yes?`"

2007-08-01, 05:07 PM

Horacio grins.

"There's always a way out."

2007-08-01, 11:12 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"A pine box, if nothing else," the elf quipped.

2007-08-01, 11:16 PM

"No, they just dump bodies into the sewers."

2007-08-01, 11:30 PM

Vodette's eyes slid over her surroundings as she tries to take it all in.

We're not in any danger, are we? I mean, more than usual. I'd rather not have to experience how they dispose of their dead.

2007-08-01, 11:31 PM

Horacio just laughs. He looks like he's enjoying this too much.

2007-08-01, 11:51 PM
The removal of the sword causes a panel on the left wall to open up, leading to yet another hallway. As this one moves along the manmade brick slowly gives way to more natural walls, until the party is passing through a limestone cave.

After a few minutes, the tunnel branches. One branch has a symbol that resembles the twin masks of tragedy and comedy carved into the ground in front of it. The other branch is marked by a symbol that kind of looks like a mace crossing a rapier.

You're on your own here- they change this one every week. Horacio does know from past experience that the right symbol is usually the one that makes the least sense. The wrong symbol still leads to the temple, for the record it just makes you take a bit of a detour...

2007-08-02, 12:05 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal muttered something about Terry's ass not being able to fit through the holes in a sewer grate and then fell silent, to allow Horacio time to choose the path properly.

2007-08-02, 12:52 AM

Horacio grins.

"Oh, this is a new one."

He turns to the others and shrugs.

"I have a good idea which one's correct, but since we're risking a horrible fate, which way do you think is right?"

Horacio's first senseless choice is the Comedy/Tragedy sign.

2007-08-02, 01:00 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

"Hm. Let's see. The mace and the rapier--two ideologies in conflict, perhaps? The masks...a bittersweet journey? I don't know. If I had more time to inspect those paintings back there--" there is the briefest of meaningful pauses "--I might have some better idea of how your order (or whatever it is) represents itself. So far I haven't been able to fathom the trick of it; so I doubt I'll be able to do so now."

"And please say that you're absolutely certain of which path to choose and are just toying with our minds, instead of having no real clue and hoping to cover it up with somebody else's bright idea. I'm allergic to being chopped into small bits to fill the bellies of sewer rats."

2007-08-02, 01:04 AM

Horacio just grins.

2007-08-02, 01:46 AM
Terry scratches his chin.
"Well, she's about truth and becoming 'unseen,' you said? The theatre masks are too obvious. The mace is the obvious threat while the subtle knife--rapier, anyway--is the true, veiled danger. I think it's the weapons."

2007-08-02, 08:26 AM

Staring at the masks, Daewell adds.

Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel. Perhaps this church is suggesting the correct path between these two modes of being with the masks.

2007-08-02, 09:12 PM

Horacio nods and thinks for a moment.

"Looks like we're taking the Masks route, then."

Horacio leads them down it, unless anyone has anything else to add...

2007-08-02, 10:27 PM
As Horacio steps over the masks, the group hears a noise like a small child giggling.

It's the most disturbing giggle any of you have ever heard.

2007-08-02, 10:51 PM

Although Horacio pauses for a moment upon hearing the giggle, he keeps going, unless he knows that giggle's bad news/means they're on the wrong track.

Listen: 31 to tell the source/direction of the sound.
Listen check (1d20+19=31) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1189664)

2007-08-03, 12:04 AM

Horacio confidently moves forward.

2007-08-03, 04:10 AM
Terry's not at all reassured by the creepy giggle, but on he goes anyway. Given he's toting what might be one of the most powerful artifacts in existence as a bloody cloak, he's probably in more danger already than any trap could put him in.

2007-08-03, 05:09 PM

Well, at least someone's enjoying themselves.

Keeping that teleport spell top of mind...because, you know, you never know...Daewell trots off after Terry.

2007-08-03, 05:49 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"Is it too late to change our minds? The last time I heard a laugh like that was when a Splinterwaif was making its nest in Old Randime. It had some sort of deformity that left its neck twisted and its voice high. Unfortunately, that made it sound like a young child. Urchins in the neighborhood would think they were hearing a new playmate, and--spack!--you had a new thornbush growing. Nasty, nasty business. Every time it got another one, it would giggle, just like what we heard back there. Terrified the whole city for weeks."

"Yeah, I'm kind of creeped out right now."

2007-08-03, 05:59 PM

Vodette spins around when the sound of giggling fills the room. She casts a worried glance over at Horacio. Vodette's hand rests on her rapier. It feels like a small demon child is about to leap out and attack her.

Horacio, are you sure this is the way? It sounds like your church has demon children, or something.

The color drains from Vodette's face as Tokugal tells his story. She mutters to herself about the story "not being what she needed to hear".

2007-08-03, 06:33 PM

Horacio just laughs.

"They'll be glad to hear the trespasser wards are working fine."

Horacio keeps a hand near Tahlion, just in case.

"But keep your eyes open."

Spot/Listen: 22/24 for Trouble
Spot; Listen (1d20+17=22, 1d20+19=24) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1191370)

2007-08-03, 06:52 PM
Assuming the party is in fact following Horacio doen the tunnel, they find themselves walking through a tunnel. Largely unremarkable compare to the othetr tunnels they've been through in the past few days, really.

Then they hear voices ahead of them. First a woman, her voice carrying a trace of a lower class accent, clearly perturbed. She is almost yelling at a man with a deep, gruff voice, who sounds simultaneously amused and irritated by the whole conversation.

"You are NOT welcome here!"

"We have to talk. All of us have to talk."

"Not here, this is MY sanctuary, and nobody, least of all YOU, is allowed here."

"You can try to make me leave, if you like, but I think it would be easier if you just listened to what I have to say."

"There's nothing you could say that would-"

"The six hundred and sixty six legions are on this plane."

"... what-"

"A new god is about to be born."


"And the poor shmucks I'm counting on to deal with this are right behind us."

"Wh- damnit old man!"

There is a noise like a tiny explosion in stereo, and then silence.

2007-08-03, 06:57 PM

Horacio's grin disappears from his face and he walks faster.

(OOC: Did either voice sound familiar to me?)

2007-08-03, 10:10 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal's fingers itched to wrap themselves around the hilt of his rapier; but this probably wasn't the place to barge in waving naked steel.

"Remind me to fire our herald," he muttered. "That wasn't the most flattering of introductions."

2007-08-04, 06:07 PM

Not quite sure what she's about to walk into, Vodette wraps her fingers tightly around her rapier. She glances over at the others and tries to get some sort of read on them. She gets very uncomfortable when she sees that the grin has vanished off of Horacio's face.

We have to take care of an unborn god? Could they mean Guademus?

2007-08-04, 06:20 PM

"Perhaps. Question is, is Gaudemus the god or its midwife?"

Horacio is on the verge of sprinting forward now.

2007-08-05, 05:46 AM

Great. As though we aren't having enough trouble handling the gods we've got. Not You of course, Lord.

No guarantee that it's a god we WANT to have born either. Any god born from tentacled masses...

Grimacing, Daewell also picks up his pace as they move towards the voices.

2007-08-05, 06:28 AM
"I don't suppose there's any hope there's another unlikely band of mismatched heroes with an appointment here tonight?

No? I did think that was a long shot."

Dai follows, but with some hesitation - as fascinating as this all is, it's also probably something that rushing into could have negative consequences.

2007-08-06, 02:47 AM
[The voices did not sound at all familiar.]

The party rushes forward- and find themselves in front of the temple of Xan Yae.

It is not, despite all the build up, anywhere near as grand as they might have expected. Nothing about the building is obviously magical or particularly impressive- it kind of looks like a multilayer bunker. But the architechture is elegant in its simplicity, and despite the long shadows it casts, it nonetheless seems rather homey. A plump, middle-aged woman in clerical robes is sitting beside the door, holding a polearm and snoring gently. The door is wide open and rather inviting.

2007-08-06, 03:24 AM

Horacio rubs his chin, then picks up a pebble and tosses it by the "sleeping" guard. If that doesn't work, he goes up to her and taps her, dodging out of the way of the inevitable polearm thrust. When she wakes up, he bows solemnly.

"Greetings, Lady. We heard some commotion coming here. Is everything alright?"

Sense Motive: 30 on guard's response/behavior
Sense Motive on Guard (1d20+16=30) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1195013)

2007-08-06, 10:18 PM
Myrtle, the temple's guard, usually doesn't have to do much- the temple is really hard to find if you don't already know where it is, so she rarely has to do anything but sit there and look not terribly fierce. Horacio is aware that she's a lot more dangerous than she looks, however.

When he taps her, she immediately wakes up, shaking her head and blinking.

"Oh dear, did I fall asleep? Hello there Horacio. Commotion? No, I don't think so... that would have woken me up, I think. Everything's alright as far as I know."

Her eyes focus on the rest of the party and her grip on the polearm shifts just a little.

"Who are your friends?"

[She seems genuinely disoriented at first, but she snaps out of it remarkably quickly. As far as Horacio can tell she's entirely sincere.]

2007-08-06, 10:38 PM

Horacio smiles and relaxes a bit.

"Friends, comrades, and potential customers or converts. We've discovered a few things more... obscure than usual. And important enough for me to take them under my cloak and see what we can find in the shadows."

Horacio grins.

"And it's good to see you, too. You're looking as harmless as ever. We might even have some time to get caught up later. A lot of excitement topside. But for now, we need services and a visit to Vera. In the meantime, treat my friends as you would myself. I don't want any of them barred from entry if we need to check something in a hurry."

After that, Horacio leads them into the temple and straight to Vera's chambers, trying to think of just what might've happened with those two voices...

(OOC: Does Myrtle often fall asleep, or would Horacio suspect that to be an enchantment?)

2007-08-06, 10:39 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal looks around the nearly deserted temple, with its lone (apparently sleeping) occupant. Nobody who would have been recently engaged in conversation.

I think the long road has finally marched its way up our own kiesters. Well, well. What do you have in store for us now?

2007-08-08, 11:11 AM

Looking up and around at the temple, Daewell is openly interested in the unadorned and simple architecture.

Hm. Sincere and earnest, and somehow charming for all that. Not to my taste, but I can see how some would like it.

Glancing over at Terry and his unnerving cloak, Daewell proceeds inwards.

2007-08-08, 01:28 PM

Vodette raises an eyebrow at what she considers rather 'lackadaisical' guard duty, but decides to just continue on.

How didn't that shouting wake her up? We heard her all the way in the hall.

2007-08-08, 02:22 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal nudged Vodette. "You notice that the only person here was sleeping like a stone? What are the chances that we just heard Xan Yae herself talking to that big brainsucker? I have no problems with gods as long as they tend to their own business and don't rope me into their squabbles."

2007-08-08, 02:31 PM

Vodette nods to Tokugal, and whispers back to him.

Right. How did we get cornered into some god's birth? What if we like this god? We don't know anything about him...her...it. And with all that shouting we heard, don't you think the guard would have woken up? She was out of it until Horacio touched her.

2007-08-08, 03:45 PM
"Don't tip our hand. Let's just try and find some context first, okay?"

2007-08-08, 03:55 PM

Horacio just stays silent and looking around, although the way he keeps glancing over at you, you supect he overheard.

2007-08-08, 08:10 PM
Terry remains quiet as they venture inside. After his childhood brush with a god of death (LONG story :D) he's found keeping his mouth shut and his suspicions to himself is a good idea,

2007-08-10, 10:45 AM

Not wanting to be disrespectful in the house of another god, Daewell's curiosity nonetheless gets the better of him. In examining the architecture, he also begins to take in information about auras present.

Starting to use detect-o-vision.

2007-08-11, 04:15 AM

Horacio closes his eyes and smiles warmly, for a moment, as he enters the temple. For a moment, he looks like a soldier returning home after years of combat.

"It's good to be back..."

He opens his eyes and gestures for the others to follow him into the back.

"My mentor's in the back. She's waiting for us."

2007-08-11, 10:56 PM
The inside of the temple of Xan Yae isn't actually deserted- as you enter, you find a number of brown-robed priests and worshippers in various types of attire shuffling around. A number of them smile and wave or nod at Horacio as he enters.

The architecture inside mirrors the design outside- simple but elegant, resembling more or less any other temple the party members are likely to have been in, with the central sanctuary dominated by a large altar engraved with the goddess' symbol. Horacio leads them towards the back, however, which seems to be composed of small multipurpose rooms and dormitories.

2007-08-11, 11:04 PM

Horacio grins and nods back at a few of them. However, he strides quickly (for a halfling) towards the back, winding through the hallways like he could (and probably has) navigated them in the dark.

He walks up to his mentor's door, opens it, and heads in.

2007-08-11, 11:22 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal follows the halfling closely enough that it is clear that he is part of Horacio's group, but loosely enough that the rogue has a chance to warn anybody who needs to know that the party has been invited--not that anyone unwelcome would have made it this far unmolested.

2007-08-11, 11:26 PM

Horacio stifles a laugh for no apparent reason and just grins sheepishly as he continues. He does, however, glance at Kumoru a moment. He continues on until he finds a door with a bloody illithid head carved into it, then opens it and heads in.

2007-08-12, 01:26 PM

The wizard lags a bit behind, smiling and absorbing the surroundings. He follows a bit behind Tokugal.

2007-08-13, 01:18 AM
Horacio opens the door on a small sleeping room- it'll be big enough for everyone to crowd in and find someplace to sit, but only just. It's barely furnished, with a simple cot, a chest of drawers with a water bowl atop it, and a well-worn glaive with an ice-blue blade leaning against one wall.

Sitting cross-legged on the cot is a slender woman with gray yellowish skin and an oddly shaped face- she barely has any nose, and her skull is slender and almost comes to a point at the back, though this is obscured by her brown hair, which is currently tied into a tight braid. Her vivid green eyes slide over them slowly, testing them.

She's also stark naked, but that shouldn't be high on anyone's list of priorities right now.

"So..." says Vera in a deep voice, "You're Horace's friends, hmm? I've 'heard' a lot about you already, but it's fascinating to meet you all in person. Please, have a seat and we can begin."

2007-08-13, 02:03 AM

Horacio enters the room and walks towards her, hugging her like an old friend. When he's done, he turns to the group, smiling, looking at each of them in turn.

"Daewell, Vodette, Terry... Kinslayer... Tokugal, Dai, Firethena, Kumoru, Tahlion... this is Vera. Githzerai psion, flayer hunter, planewalker, old comrade, mentor... friend. You all sit down and I'll get her caught up so we can cut straight to the chase."

Horacio looks at Vera, glancing at her torso for the strange wounds as he "speaks".

Vera, I'm ready for the probe so you can get caught up on what's happened- and see what that flayer took from me- but first let me check you for those parasites. Tahlion, could you do a quick detection on her?

If she's clean, Horacio sits next to her and close his eyes, ready for Vera to dig deep into his brain.

(OOC: I assume Vera can do that, right?)

2007-08-14, 04:06 PM

Vodette walks into the room and notices the naked woman sitting before them right away. Her hand flies up over her eyes and she is just about to ask for the woman's forgiveness for their intrusion, but then Horacio speaks up. She peers over her hand and lets it flop down at her side. It'd probably be rude to cover my eyes.... She does, however, try to look everywhere but at the woman's nude body. She gives a slight bow, eyes locked on the floor, when Horacio introduces her.

2007-08-14, 07:59 PM
(... did we lose everybody else? *poke poke*)

2007-08-15, 03:33 AM
Terry's remarkably less taken aback by the nudity then one might expect.
To Slayer:
Please don't make another comment like you did at Firethena's. I can't take you anywhere.
He opts to stay back and give a respectful nod. He takes a seat near the wall and lightly rests against it, perhaps to keep part of Kinslayer pinned in case he acts up.

2007-08-15, 11:50 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal is more interested in the woman's features than in her nudity: there was a small group of gith that came through his hometown when he was young, and he vaguely remembered some sort of disturbance associated with the event. The curious blade of the woman's weapon also caught his attention.

2007-08-16, 12:19 AM
She looks pretty clean to me.

She raises an eyebrow at that. Horacio's visual inspection yields more or less the same results. Afterwards she wraps her blanket around herself and sets Horacio on the floor in front of her where she can get her fingers on his head.

"I hope you'll forgive my current state of undress. Laundry day and all. Anyhow, I'm just gonna probe Horacio Hornblower here for a little while and try and figure out if the squiddies did anything untowards to him without buying a drink first... why don't the rest of you tell me about yourselves?"

Firethena introduces herself and shakes the woman's hand warmly. Kumoru seems content to sit in the corner and grump. Kinslayer has taken up randomly poking Terry in the back. If Terry knew morse code, he'd know Kinslayer's streadily cursing like a sailor at him. As it is the treatment just gives him goosebumps.

2007-08-16, 12:45 AM

Horacio glances at Kumoru.

"By the way, Kumoru, Vera figured out you're some sort of psionic undead. She might have more to add later."

He looks up at Vera and smiles.

"Ready when you are."

Mindprobe:During the mindprobe, Horacio emphasizes the Devourer's visit, the skinstealer victim they saw earlier today, Kara & Gareth's visit, Scarlet's dream speak from the night before, and Vodette & Daewell discussing their dreams.

2007-08-17, 01:02 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Vera's preliminary identification of Kumoru sent Tokugal's mind into a flurry activity; but he really knew next to nothing about the psionic powers of the mind. Apparently I've neglected an entire field of possible inquiry. Hm. Maybe I can ask Horacio about it later.

He resurfaced from his reverie to realize that his companions were also silent. He felt abashed that nobody had accepted Vera's invitaiton to introduce themselves; so he stepped forward and made a slight bow of his head.

"I'm Tokugal Ardolin, ma'am. I'm a long way from home--I grew up on the Plane of Fire--but I've found that there's more to see that interests me here on this one. I'd love to talk to you about Xan Yae or these psionics some time, if you aren't too busy. If you are, though, maybe Horacio can answer my questions." He saw her eyes flick to meet Horacio's, and thought that perhaps he had said enough. "Anyway, I presume that now's not the time. It's nice to meet you, though. Fascinating blade there."

2007-08-17, 01:37 PM
Terry takes Tok's cue and speaks up himself.
"Bit hard to follow an act like that, but I'll try. Terrence Randall, pleased to meet you. Reformed bandit and expert get-your-nose-where-it-ought-not-be-ist. Not the greatest at it, but I've made it this far. As of late, I've become the luckless steward of Kinslayer here."
Terry flops his new "cloak" and tries very hard to not see the bat-wing-esque motion.

2007-08-17, 09:42 PM

"Well, Tokugal, I'd love to answer your questions, but I'll be as busy as Vera tonight. There's a lot to meditate and think on. However, as I said earlier, I've taken you under my cloak. The priests here will treat you with the same respect they give me. You can get plenty of info on both from them, although I'd recommend you have some info to exchange in return. That shouldn't be a problem for you.

"Say Vera, does the temple have any party rooms empty? We might need a secure place to stay for a few nights.

"Oh, and Kinslayer, you can switch back to your usual lovable self now. The people around here aren't nearly as touchy about undead and evil talking swords as, say, the standard stupid commoner."

2007-08-17, 11:27 PM
"Daisilodavi Daerthin... I'm nobody of any particular importance, I'm sure. 'Tis an honour to be allowed here."

OOC: Seriously, this is not a highly interactive scene, and I hate posting 'me toos'.

2007-08-18, 01:35 AM
Vera smiles thinly, her eyes taking on a slight purple glow as she gently probes Horacio's scalp with her fingertips.

"Oh, don't be so modest Dai... I'm sure you're very important to someone."

Kinslayer doesn't respond to Horacio's prompting- it seems content to r emain in cloak mode for now. In fact, it stops jabbing Terry and simply lies ther listlessly.

Kumoru is paying rapt attention to Vera, his ears perked up as he listens to her, but he doesn't reply yet.

Her eyes flicker to Tokugal next. "The plane of fire, hm? Fascinating place, I'm sorry to say I've only ever been there once... fun to visit, but not exactly condusive to long term habitation. The glaive is just an abomination-bane weapon. I'm... not sure why it's that color, actually."

She pauses. Her eyes roll back slightly towards the back of her head for a moment.

"Hunh... he did a number on you Horacio... flayers are fastidious by nature, but there's only so much cleaning up you can do after rifling through so many drawers in so short a time... I don't think he was trying to make you forget anything, but... I think... there's a hiccup... can't figure out what it could be though. Give me a few more minutes."

Her eyes take on a more palpable glow.

"You guys have quite a quest ahead of you... I remember hering tales of Gaudemus... he visited our monastary once, many years ago... he laid down the heads of twelve illithids at my grandfather's feet, for the right to study under him for one month... they say he left behind more knowledge than he took with him..."

She shakes her head, and her ponytail flails around her shoulders. Sweat begins to bead up on her forehead.

"Horacio... I think I figured out what the Devourer did to you... it was a clever trick... he didn't take anything away... he put something in..."

She coughs. Something crimson flecks her lips.

"He wants you... to himself..."

2007-08-18, 03:30 AM

Horacio grins slightly at Kinslayer, easily noticing his change in demeanor.

"Oh, and just a tip, Kinslayer, you should stay on your best behavior while you are here. The priests are pretty tolerant as long as you don't cause trouble, but if you do... well, they are quite fond of unarmed brawling. And ways of obliterating weapons so it's a 'fair' fight. No doubt you could slaughter everyone here, including the special rust monsters they keep for 'disturbances', but I'm sure you would experience new levels of pain doing it.

"On the other hand, there are some rare services available here. I could arrange some for you, provided I'm sure you won't cause trouble and Terry doesn't mind someone lifting the 'burden' off his shoulders for an hour or two. Tell me, have you ever been polished by a renegade drow with a weapon fetish?"

And before you get jealous, Tahlion, I was planning to arrange the same TLC for you. That is, if you have nothing against drow.

Horacio glances at Kumoru as he leans back into Vera.

"Strange, huh? I was wondering where the psionic powers came from myself. Was it a result of your spiritual trip, or were they already there? Perhaps that 'experiment' left you more powerful than anyone thought."

Horacio closes his eyes as Vera continues, mentally helping her maneuver through his mind. He stirs a bit when Vera mentions Gaudemus's visit.

"Crud... he had all his corners covered. Please tell me he didn't learn much about psionics while he was- stupid question, he didn't go there to learn cooking..."

Horacio sighs.

All that knowledge and power... I'm tempted to think he's overwhelming, and that anything we do against him is doomed to failure. But there has to be a vulnerability somewhere...

"Can you estimate how many decades ago it was, and anything you remember about the tales? We have almost nothing on Gaudemus's activities over the past century, or even how he changed since he left Atalya."

Horacio goes silent as Vera gives her diagnosis.

Tahlion, could you heal Vera for me?

He frowns, head turned down, thinking silently to himself. His voice, when he speaks, is soft and melancholy.

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth... a minion for a minion... I knew that promise would turn out to be bull..."

He glances up at Firethena and chuckles.

"And here I thought he'd punish me by taking you!"

Although he still could've. Could you check Firethena later and make sure he didn't do the same thing to her? He said she could alter reality under his sway. Why would he take me, but not her?

Horacio closes his eyes again and shudders for a moment.

"I assume it will be hard to remove it. Perhaps near impossible, given the circumstances. There has to be a way, though. But even if we do..."

Horacio chuckles bitterly and shakes his head, scowling in fury.

"Years of fighting and bleeding for this city, losing friends and comrades to these abominations, and this is the thanks I get? Scorn from those I saved, betrayal by my lover, and my life destroyed by my worst nightmares come true!

"Gods damn it! I never expected a reward, but is it too much to ask that I could live in peace?!"

Horacio grimaces and slumps over, rubbing his temple, futilely trying to fight back tears.

(OOC: Hmmm, when I wrote this, I assumed Vera was finished with the mindprobe. Did I interrupt her halfway through?)

2007-08-18, 07:37 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

A shocked and speechless elf put his silent hand on Horacio's shoulder in support.

2007-08-18, 05:40 PM
Damn it. Should have thought of that.
Terry's expression betrays more disgust than fear or surprise.
"Don't worry, Horacio. We'll get rid of it. There's ways."
He doesn't add that the only way he's really sure of it to kill and revive the subject with powerful divine spells.
"Well, Slayer, you've got to be loving this. Going to gloat?"

2007-08-19, 12:27 AM
(Vera ended the probe when she started coughing up blood.)

Kumoru continues to look stricken. Firethena puts a comforting hand on Horacio's shoulder, but can't seem to think of anything to say at the moment.

Oh you are all just a bunch of wusses.

Kinslayer shifts. Terry finds the relatively loose and flowing cloak becoming a somewhat more constricting garment- in point of fact, he is now wearing the meanest-looking suit of spiky armor any of them has ever seen. And he finds himself more or less helpless to resist as Kinslayer stands up and walks across the small room to Horacio and the ailing gith.

Keep your trap shut, kid, I can't do this without a body to form around and you'll thank me later.

He proceeds to grab Tahlion's hilt and yank it out of Horacio's sheath/grasp.

Hey! What are you-!?

Don't t ell me you remember how to do it? This kind of damage takes more than a simple cure somethingorother wounds.

A blue glow surrounds Tahlion, and a moment later an identical one appears around Kinslayer's left gauntlet, which he proceeds to place on Vera's head. Her eyes roll back and she slumps against the bed, unconscious. But still breathing.

... where do you GET this stuff from!?

I'm just that good.

(Sorry if the NPCs are hogging the spotlight, btw. I hadn't planned for this sidetrip and I couldn't think of much to give you guys to do besides holding a conversation, and I apparently couldn't start one. So I'm gonna try and make this short and interesting to watch instead.)

2007-08-19, 12:34 AM
"Heironeous on a RAIL, Slayer, warn me when you do that, damn it!" Terry half-sputters.

2007-08-19, 12:38 AM

Vodette steps forward with Tokugal and tries to sooth Horacio by rubbing her hand over his back. She gives a sad frown.

Poor guy.

After Kinslayer forms around Terry and decides to take matters into his own hands, Vodette stars in shock her mouth slightly agape.

Terry what are you doing? Kinslayer! What are you doing to them? Let her go!

Even though she hardly knows the woman, Vodette rushes forward to Vera when she slumps over. She checks the woman's vital signs and tries to wake her.

2007-08-19, 03:33 AM
Dai keeps a tight watch, and when blood started flowing he moved to help... but did not get in the way. Afterwards...

"Life - and that sword - keep coming up with new ways to reinvigorate my sense of wonder."

2007-08-19, 06:24 PM

Horacio's self-pity instantly evaporates when he sees Vera's not improving fast enough. He grasps for Tahlion when Kinslayer pulls it out of his grasp, but doesn't interfere, watching Vera and Tahlion closely for any signs of stress. He pulls Vodette back a bit when she tries to wake her.

"Gently, Vodette. Kinslayer, can you give me Tahlion back?"

Horacio takes Tahlion back from Kinslayer, if he offers it.

Tahlion, contact Vera telepathically. Try to prod her awake if you can. See if she's alright...

Horacio gently brushes the hair from Vera's face as he places one hand on her forehead and holds her hand with another. He smiles sadly at her.

"Thank you, Vera. We really put each other through some sh*t, don't we?"

He looks at Kinslayer, his expression stern.

"...Looks like you've both earned your polishes."

He looks at the others.

"Someone grab a cleric outside, tell him Vera encountered a mental trap and needs some treatment. Kinslayer, could you change back so you don't freak out the doctor.

"We're staying here for the night, possibly several. I'll talk with the priests, tell them we might be expecting... company. Figure out what you need and we'll find it. Services, equipment, information, whatever. Let's figure out what we're going to do about Gaudemus."

He turns back to Vera and lowers his head, closing his eyes.

"Any suggestions?"

(Horacio will suspend any talk about Gaudemus when the cleric enters, then send him back out as soon as possible.)

(OOC: Damn, was Vera really in that bad a shape? I thought she was just strained from the effort, not dying!)

2007-08-20, 04:45 PM
Even Vodette can tell that Vera's vital signs actually improve fairly rapidly- she remains unconscious, but she's pretty clearly out of danger now. Kinslayer hands Tahlion back to Horacio without comment, then stumbles backwards and wordlessly melts back into his familiar sword shape, hanging limply from Terry's cloak.

I think that did him in for the moment. Criminy but that was a hell of a thing. You've got a nasty little brainworm in your head now, Horacio- it almost shut down the parts of her brain that give her her psionic abilities. The good news is it'll do that or worse to almost anything trying to read, probe, invade, or otherwise molest your mind. Think of it like a sonky for your brain.

The clerics are very eficient about their work- Vera is wrapped up in a blanket and propped up and awake and apparently feeling alright in a trice, though she still looks a little tired. The party is also informed that there are several rooms readily available for their use, whenever they feel like using them. One of the female clerics makes a pass at Kumoru, who just looks unnerved. After the hustle and bustle is over Vera is smiling weakly at them and munching a ration bar.

"I'm gonna tell you something right now, Horacio, of all the crap I've dragged you through, I never thought you'd put me in a situation as bad as that in my own bedroom. Well, the leeches say I'm gonna be fine, so where were we? Something about finding this Gaudemus character and giving him a solid kick in the groin?"

2007-08-20, 04:57 PM

Vodette had remained relatively silent throughout the rest of Vera's recovery. She nearby the group and pulled out some trail rations and munched away on them.

She muttered to herself: Yeah. Give him a kick right in his little metal groin.

She clears her throat and looks up at the group.

So whatever Horacio has that attacked you...could we all have it? Why would it only do that to Horacio?

2007-08-20, 05:04 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal looked sidelong at Vera through slightly narrowed eyes. "You're made of stern stuff, lady, to get back to business so soon after almost dying in a mind trap--that's what it was, right?--but that resilience is probably what got you where you are now. Very impressive."

"And you, Kinslayer. I still think you're cursed and more than a little crazy; but that was a pretty piece of intervention you did. Resourceful and effective. Dare I even say perhaps a bit noble?"

"Anyway. Thank you, Vera, for getting Horacio fixed. It was clear that the squidfa--uh, the illithid creature did something to him. It'd be pretty spooky having to walk around not knowing what it was or when it'd be triggered."

[OOC: Tokugal is under the impression that whatever Vera did was dangerous but ultimately successful, since he wasn't privy to the telepathic conversations that indicated otherwise.]

2007-08-20, 05:23 PM

Horacio thinks silently, although not to himself...

To Tahlion:That's... interesting. Not something I want, but at least we can gain a strength from it. So what's the bad news about it? How will it try to destroy me? Will it interfere with my telepathic communications? Would it contaminate any merge we do?

And Tahlion... we need to practice. We need to relearn you. I do not want that accursed damned sword knowing how to use you better than either of us. Vera could help us with that.
He looks at Vera for a moment, then looks down.

To Tahlion & Vera:Vera, I'm sorry. I thought it was bad, but I didn't think it was that bad. I'm just glad you're okay now.

Unfortunately, I think over the next few days we'll need your powers more than ever. Do you think you have enough energy left tonight? There's a lot to do. We need to contact someone that's hundreds of miles away. Tahlion & I need to practice mind merging. And then there's everything else.

It sounds like we're the trail of an apocalypse-level event that could destroy this world and usher in some Nightmare God into the universe. And... well, I don't think we're ready for it quite yet.

Horacio looks down.

Especially me. I doubt nimble fingers and a sharp mind are enough anymore.

...I would like to resume those mental exercises with you.
Horacio glances at Tokugal a moment.

"I'm not fixed, Tokugal... But I'm not going to die tonight, either. I'll manage."

He glances back at Vera before addressing the group.

"More like finding him and beating some sense back into him. He has enough power to blow up a small city by sneezing; the direct approach those blunt Cudgelers want will do jack sh*t besides peeve him off.

"What we need right now is info; on Gaudemus, on those parasites, on that cult, on the planar experiments he was doing. Once we know what we're dealing with, we can figure out which angle to attack it from.

"Gaudemus is the trickiest; no one around here's been near him for a hundred years. We know of some people who have, but they're far away at the moment. I was hoping you could help us contact them.

"The parasites, your area of expertise, I'd say. Between the abominations and those damnable slaad, I think you could give us all some pointers on them."

He glances at the glaive.

"A couple specialty weapons wouldn't hurt either.

"The cult is tricky. If anyone knows about them, it's Snake Eyes. I'll arrange a visit as soon as possible, but someone else may have to go in my stead." He glances around. "As much as she respects me, she's too paranoid to let me anywhere close to her with a mindworm in my skull.

"The planar experiments are your area of expertise again. I figure you and the arcanists can figure out just what he did, how he did it, and what went wrong. We even brought a planar gate puzzle box for you.

"There's a few other things we need to take care of, but those are the main problems." He looks at the others. "Anything else I'm missing? Suggestions?"

2007-08-20, 05:31 PM

Horacio looks at Vodette.

"If you have it, I'm sure you'd know. It felt like he popped out a piece of my cranium and... replaced it." He frowns. "None of you felt something like that, did you?

"As for why he'd do it to just me, I don't know. Maybe he wants me as a minion. Maybe it's meant to be help, in some twisted, perverted sense. Or, perhaps, it's just revenge for all the trouble I gave them back in the Silent War." He sighs. "The past keeps catching up with us..."

2007-08-20, 05:48 PM
"Not sure if I have much to add, what with missing the deeper meaning to half of what just happened and all.

Sounded like you were pretty on to it, though."

2007-08-20, 06:00 PM
Horacio: "What, Dai?"

Oh yeah, Vera, might want to check Dai sometime. Says he was trained to be an assassin, but got better. I don't know... there seems to be something erratic rattling around his head.

2007-08-20, 06:51 PM
Terry sighs as Kinslayer's form drapes around him again.

"If you'll permit a little macabre, I don't think we're getting out of this alive. We're in too deep, and we're too exposed to our threats. We're in a three-way pull between Gaudemus, the Devourer, and Hell itself."

He grins morosely.

"Let me finish. I might well and truly think we're all going to die, but that doesn't mean we will before we succeed. It's amazing what you can do when you abandon self interest, after all. We can do it--we will do it, because we have to. I just don't fancy our chances of joining that happy ending. Don't get me wrong, I still can hope against hope we make it out of this, but...

He smiles. There's no trace of fear, or putting on a brave face.

"I think before this is over, we'll cheerfully die."

2007-08-20, 09:47 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal snorted; the wry temper of a wanderer was back. "Cheerfully? Aye, that'll happen just as surely as Vodette'll seduce Blitz with a lapdance. Personally, I have hopes that we'll be able to get through this thing without the need for me to cast Gentle Repose on anything other than a bit of sushi."

2007-08-21, 04:10 PM
"If you've ever been killed for showing up to class late - and I'm not saying I have - 'to the death' loses some mystique. Although mentioning the pain likely to be involved in all this is a mite discouraging.

Either way though, uh, greater good, innocent people, wurble wurble fish and kittens?

Sorry, not really born hero material."

2007-08-21, 04:16 PM
Terry grins.
"Well, that's okay, I was just putting it out th--


'Wurble wurble?'"

2007-08-21, 04:16 PM

"How about vengeance? Taking the b*stards down with us? Getting the last laugh? Those more your style, Dai?"

2007-08-21, 05:39 PM
"I'm going to wear their skull as a hat?

We're going to win, they're going to die. Everything else is a little up in the air, but it's the basics that really matter.

Also, yes, wurble wurble. My mind tends to gloss over the middle sections of heroic speeches."

Dai grins and nods.

2007-08-21, 08:49 PM
Kumoru thumps Terry heartily on the shoulder. "I wouldn't be so sure of that kid. You guys are up against some pretty intimidating stuff, but you're not exactly chopped liver yourselves. If we can find my brother and get him to see reason, then our chances of getting out of this mostly intact are pretty good."

Vera strokes her chin pensively. Tahlion pipes up.

As far as Horacio's brainworm goes, I don't think he's in any kind of trouble- what the Devourer left in his head is basically a kind of psionic trap. Anything trying to access certain thoughts in a certain manner gets hit with a jolt of Horacio's latent psionic power, which in turn shorts out their psionic power center. So there isn't anything physically wrong with him or even physically altered, it's a psychic reflex that's been implanted in his mind that operates without him even knowing about it. ... and if Slayer has a little energy left, Vodette, I think we -might- be able to hook the rest of you up.

Screw you, I'm tired.

We get to do a mindscape sequence.

... you want to put ME in a mindscape with them? Are you insane?

I'll be there too.

Oh. Well that takes all the fun out of it.

Vera's eyes glitter. "That actually seems like an ideal idea to me... while we're there, I can tell you guys what I know about what you're getting into... and when we literally put our heads together, we might think of something we wouldn't have otherwise."

Her eyes take on a vague blue glow, and you can feel her voice tickling the backs of your minds.

All you have to do is relax, and let me do the driving. What do you say?

2007-08-21, 09:11 PM

So that thing that Horacio has in his head is actually a good thin-gahhh

Vodette reaches up to her ear and tries to relieve the pressure in her ears that has suddenly popped up from Vera speaking inside her mind.

This just keeps getting stranger and stranger! Where are we going?

2007-08-21, 09:21 PM

Horacio grins faintly at Kumoru. "See reason, yes..."

Horacio thinks to everyone: Are you sure, Tahlion? I don't trust anything by the Devourer, but if the stakes really are that high, I could see him giving us this "gift" as a perverted way of helping... Well, I'm not the psion expert & flayer hater here. If Vera's alright with it, I'm game.

But once this is all over, I want to look into it. I do not want the Devourer controlling it later, if he can.

Horacio relaxes & looks over his companions, Kumoru, and Firethena.

And you can drive, Vera, but only if I'm the navigator.


We're going inwards, Vodette. Inside our own minds. Think of it as telepathy & memories turned into a place.

Sense Motive: 33 on Vera's answer about whether spreading the mindworm's a good idea.
Sense Motive: Vera on the Mindworm (1d20+16=33) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1219123)

2007-08-21, 10:03 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal's yellow eyes glimmered with an awakened fire. "Are you kidding? That would be incredible! You need relaxation and meditation from us, right? Conventional sorts of concentration? Okay, I'm there."

He closed his eyes, shook his head a couple times, and then let his muscles go limp. He twitched his nose as if it itched; but after rubbing at it, he seemed to attain the mental and physical necessary state.

2007-08-22, 05:47 PM
"Ah, the other magic... well, it should be an illuminating experience, anyway, and I'd hope I have the mental discipline for this.

After all, mental discipline is what I am, isn't it?"

He centres himself in a moment.

2007-08-22, 10:33 PM
(pausing briefly while I try and figure out where Toliudar got to o_O)

2007-08-23, 09:41 AM

As instructed...and instructed...Daewell has been content to remain silent. This ragtag group may lack the organization and dedication of a real church, but they didn't seem completely useless, anyway. This Vera woman, in particular, seemed quite capable.

I have no objections to, er, letting you drive, Miss Vera. But I must ask...if Horacio had the, er, prophylactic mental protection, and retains it, isn't it likely that the rest of us have it as well, and that by engaging in some form of, er, mental communion, we run the risk of setting off other booby-traps?

Spellcraft (1d20+26=31) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1221274) to get a handle on what's being proposed.

Sorry, guys: a series of 16-hour days as I opened three plays at a festival this week.

2007-08-23, 03:50 PM

Horacio glances at Daewell.

"I think you could answer that, Daewell. I felt something happen to my brain when he inserted it; I just didn't know what at the time. Since no one else has mentioned feeling a brainworm be implanted, I'll take that as a good sign I'm the only one infected.

"As for the risks, I doubt a mental communion would set it off again. Vera wouldn't go through with this if it would. Have some faith in her, Dae."

2007-08-23, 10:46 PM
Vera's eyes slowly drift close. The world seems to go slightly out of focus.

The mindworm only attacks if its charge is threatened- if Horacio is communicating with us willingly, then it will not attack. We simply need to avoid attempting to probe deeper into his mind than the surface, which is what I attempted to do earlier. That will not be a problem with the mindscape set up the way we're doing.

Spreading the worm around, now... that -will- entail some amount of risk because... well, basically we have to chop it up. It can't kill you or physically harm you, but if it can it will destroy the pathways of your mind that allow you to utilize psionic abilities. Since none of you utilize these abilities, and Horacio is the only one with the natural talent to really develop them, and he is the only one the worm will not attack... there is not a great deal of harm that could come to any of you. But you needn't participate in that if you do not wish you. Primarily, I want to commune with you all directly because it's just plain faster and easier to explain the things I have to explain. If that is acceptable...

Horacio recognizes the edge to her voice- she's having the time of her life, stretching her abilities to their limit, and learning something new in the process. But she's firmly in control and has every confidence that they'll all be fine. She wouldn't be doing something like this otherwise.

Assuming that nobody really objects, you find yourselves suddenly diving down a tunnel of blue light and arriving in a world of swirling color. After a moment the colors solidify into a large, spartan stone chamber, and you are free to look around.

Vera is sitting on a reed mat in the center of the chamber. She is somewhat changed- her hair flowing out behind her in a crimson wave, her eyes solid orbs of blue light, her body unnaturally thin and long, but with an unearthly grace.

In this place we are merely mental constructs of ourselves. Our form changes to suit function and to mirror our innermost selves.

Kumoru has become a bestial black-furred humanoid with the head of a jackal and glowing red eyes. He hefts a simply massive battleaxe, and his body is surrounded by an aura of livid violet flame.

Firethena looks almost the same, but the lines of age and worry are gone from her face, and her hair has turned all the colors of the rainbow. Her cloak spreads out behind her in a tableau of ever-shifting colors and images.

Terry is clad in shining silver armor, and a pair of great white wings flutter on his back.

Dai is clothed entirely in black, and his face is covered by a featureless white mask. Other masks of every concievable description are placed elsewhere on his body.

Tokugal's flesh appears to have turned into magma, and his hair and clothing are composed of brilliant orange and golden fire.

Vodette is tall and stately, her skin burnished gold, her rapier a thin spike of silver longer than she is tall and sharp as a razor. Delicate fairy-like wings frame her shoulders.

Daewell is clad in heavy wizard's robes and a long cloak that hangs from his shoulders and spreads out around him in a closed circle. His belt is hung with money bags, but they are all empty.

Horacio stands tall and valiant, shining armor largely hidden by a black cloak. On his brow sits an iron crown studded with purple gems.

Perhaps the most dramatic change comes to the runeblades- standing beside Horacio is a tall, powerfully built elf with long strikingly silver hair, clad in simple but elegant white garments and wielding a wicked curved sword. Behind Terry stands a black metal demon, splashed liberally with bright scarlet blood and grinning with a maw filled with huge fangs, a single horrible eye staring out of the middle of its forehead as its mechanized wings creak and stretch open to nearly ten feet on either side.

Slowly and hesitantly, Tahlion reaches up and prods what appears to be a very impressive set of bazooms.

"... bloody hell, now I remember, I'm a woman."

Kinslayer falls over and pisses itself laughing.

2007-08-23, 11:42 PM
Terry is surprised by the sudden and drastic change, but has the presence of mind to step away from the rolling demon.
"...If I ever wanted to counsel troubled people, I'd learn how to do this trick..." He warily runs his fingers along one of his wings.
"Our innermost selves. Hm. Not big on subtlety, are we?"

2007-08-23, 11:48 PM

Well, we might need to... but let's make sure that flayer didn't leave any other surprises in it first...

Horacio looks around to see how his companions have changed without glancing down at himself. He smiles when he looks at Firethena.

"I didn't realize how beautiful you could be, Firethena. Maybe it's because you're not frowning...

"And Vodette... you look lovely as well.

"And... Tahlion?"

Horacio stifles a chuckle.

"Well, uh... I guess we have more to find out about you than we first thought. You... uh... well, wielding you will be awkward with that image in my mind. But I'll manage."

Horacio grins and sends a private message to Tahlion.So, does this mean you want me to find a male drow to polish you?
He turns to Vera and points his thumb back towards the walls.

"Well, shall we destroy this cage and get the sightseeing started?"

(Horacio concentrates and helps Vera with the mindscape as he can, to get back in the hang of using psionics.)

2007-08-24, 10:11 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal flexed his arm and watched the 'skin' on the magma crackle and flex. "Wow! This is--" The sound of his own voice startled him. It had an echoing quality, as if the same voice were speaking in a poorly synchronized unison with itself; as if there were internal disagreement on how best to express itself. "Well, that's interesting," he remarked, more thoughtfully. (At least, two of the voices sounded more thoughtful.)

His gaze slowly moved from his own form to those of the others, taking each one in turn. The glowing cracks that marked his eyebrows ascended when he marked Terry's form, with Kinslayer behind him. That's a formidable match! He did a double-take when he saw Tahlion--not out of disbelief, but because she struck a rather impressive figure for an elf.

He started chuckling. "Don't worry about it, Tahlion. I'm sure Scarlet would still swing your way given the opportunity. As for the mixup about your gender; well that should be expected when you spend so long in a form with so many suggestive associations."

2007-08-24, 10:59 AM

Daewell swirled his robes a bit, feeling the weight both bolster him and draw him downwards.

Associations? What ass...oh. Ah. Right.

Colouring a bit, the wizard experimentally drew his legs up into the air, coming to sit crosslegged, and leaving only the hem of his robes brushing the ground.

Seeing all of your inner selves is a privilege, and one that I will honour. And Tokugal, I would suggest that if anyone looked a fitting match for Scarlet right now, it would be you.

He smiled at the fiery elf, then seemed to catch himself. Reminded of the seriousness of their quest, he looked eagerly around to see what would happen next.

2007-08-24, 01:01 PM

Like most of the other members of the group, Vodette glances around at the others before she glances down at herself. Her mouth falls open. Everybody looked so amazing! Her voice has a light, ringing reverberation that seems to come from everywhere. There is no direction to her voice.

Terry! Armor and wings? I had never figured you for armor. It looks good on you. You look like a knight...in shining armor.

Dai....I'm sorry that is really creepy. What does it mean? Expressionless void and you only wear masks? I hope thats not how you really are. But I'm sure there is some meaning there.

Vodette smiles when she looks over at Tokugal.

Well, Tokugal. I'd say that seems very fitting for you. Is it warm? Having magma for skin, that is. It seems like it would be dreadfully uncomfortable.

Dae, you can float? Thats so cool! What else can you do? What do you have in those pouches on your belt?

And Tahlion! You're beautiful. I had an idea, but this proves it. At least Firethena and I aren't the only females around now. Vodette moves closer to Tahlion for a better view. Her face has a warm smile on it.

Vodette finally realizes that she must have changed as well. She looks down at the enormous spike of silver she holds in her hands. Her eyes run affectionately up and down it's length. She steps back and gives the weapon a few thrusts. It practically sings as it whirls in the air. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the wings. Craning her neck to see, she wiggles her wings a few times.

Hmm, wonder if they work.

The small wings flicker a few times and then begin to beat in a blur. Vodette is lifted a few inches off the ground, her wings humming.

Amazing. Can we stay like this forever?

2007-08-24, 01:39 PM

Horacio chuckles.

"Of course he can float, Vodette. We all can. This is perception, not reality. And the only limitations you have..."

Horacio's eyes swirl for a moment. He suddenly dissolves into a puddle of silver liquid that slides beneath Vodette. Behind her, he twists back into his avatar form and taps her on the shoulder.

"...are the ones you assume you have."

He blinks and holds his hand to his face, noticing the shining gauntlet on it for the first time.

"Huh, that's a new one. I must've changed more than I thought..."

2007-08-24, 03:03 PM
"I think you're finally going to have to fess up that you're a good guy beneath that thief exterior, Horacio. And what do you mean by sightseeing? What do we have to see here, just our minds? That's gonna be telling..."
Terry stretches his wings and bobs just the slightest bit, ending up scraping the ground gently with one boot. While his voice remains exactly the same, it has a slight air of...warmth, perhaps, to it that's difficult to place, and sliding away the harder you try to get a feel for it.

Now that there's no fear of demon pee staining his armor he can look around more carefully.
"But--damn, Vodette, you do look good."

2007-08-24, 08:36 PM
Dai reaches for one of the masks, taking one with a downcast face (presumeably symbolizing tragedy) and holding it in front of his face. His voice is sad, yet clear.

"Well, I have heard it said of my kind of person, that our one true nature is that we have no one true nature. That is, I am who I need to be, no more, no less."

He swaps the mask out, selecting one that smiles, coincidently underlining his speech with barely supressed mirth.

"This pairing is highly symbolic... I shouldn't tease, but the real joke of the masks, is that it's the black and white that's the truth. All colours, yet none..."

The puppeteering continues with a third mask, one looking quite self satisfied; he sounds smug.

"That is, it is all me. I am always true to myself. How can I not be, and still be convincing?"

Finally, he settles on a stern and serious mask; very no-nonsense.

"Now you know.


Shouldn't we continue? I suppose I could attempt to analyze your inner natures, but that seems a trifle personal, doesn't it? Besides, I'm sure there's shades of meaning, as there was even where there weren't shades of colour."

Did the mask wink? The mask winked. He breathes heavily, as though winded.

"Okay, that was a little more difficult than anticipated. I think I'll stick to following instructions."

2007-08-25, 12:14 AM

Horacio glances at Terry for a moment, on the verge of a retort, when he closes his mouth and looks down at his gauntlets again.

"...Just because I care about something decent doesn't make me one of the good guys."

He doesn't sound too confident about that answer.

2007-08-25, 01:22 AM
Tahlion blushes a little and smirks at Horacio, tho0ugh she doesn't respond right away.

"It's wierd," she mutters, prodding herself again, "just feeling like I have a body again, I mean. The gender part doesn't even enter into it so much. I'm just glad to have limbs again."

Kinslayer regains its feet and seems absorbed in its own body as well, stretching its limbs and flexing its wings as if it had forgotten what it was like to have them. Vera watches everyone's reactions and smiles serenely.

I'd actually appreciate you didn't do any cage destroying, Horacio, since this is my mind. We'll at least be going into yours in a short while, though, so don't get claustrophobic. I suppose you could take tours of each toher's heads if you really felt like it was worth the time, but I have a feeling only a few of you are really up for it. In any case, let's get down to business. There were two things I really wanted to cover while we were here and this is them.

Behind Vera there appears a shadowy creature. It looks like nothing so much as a series of spiked tentacles twisted together into some kind of grotesque flying spaghetti monster. It curls and writhes in on itself and stares about with horrible eyes situated on the tips of its tentacles.

Firethena subtly sidles up to Horacio.

THIS is probably what we're dealing with. We don't know what they call themselves, so they're commonly referred to as skin wearers, mage eaters, and other more colorful epithets. We don't know where they came from, though what little we do know about their anatomy indicates that they couldn't have originated in any of our planet's ecosystems, but they don't appear to be extraplanar. We don't know what they want here, but we do know that they gravitate towards arcane spellcasters. The best information we have about the things comes from people who were possesed by them and lived to tell about it. This is exceedingly rare, but it has happened, and from it we have a few insights into their minds. Unfortunately, these insights seem to indicate almost universally that they are completely and utterly amoral, coldly logical, and indecipherably alien. They want magic, but we have no idea what they do with it. They want to keep their existence a secret, but we have no idea what they could be hiding from. Isn't it comforting to know all these things that we don't know? What worries me, though, is that so far they've only been observed to act alone. It sounds to me like you guys are up against a group. And that's probably some of the worst news I've ever heard.

The creature dissapears, replaced by an army of shadowy warriors that take up a place behind Vera, silent and threatening.

Want to know some more bad news? That conversation you guys overheard is ominous for a number of reasons, but primarily to me because someone mentioned the six hundred and sixty-six legions. There is a legend among my people that a great warrior descended of Gith himself once took it upon himself to make war upon the illithids by summoning forth a great army from a world beyond limbo. It was an army of horribly twisted and disfigured men, men who fought like demons and laughed as they drank the blood of their enemies. They were an unstoppable force, but they were also uncontrollable, and instead of just wiping out illithids, they attacked everything that moved. The warrior who summoned them sacrificed his life to return this great army to whence they came. And I probably don't even have to tell you, but it is said that the legions of this army numbered six hundred and sixty six. It's something of a cautionary fairy tale to my people, but given the circumstances... I'd say there's a possibility there's something to it, and it might behoove us to figure out what.

She lapses into silence. Kumoru's lower jaw has fallen so far open that it is currently resting on the floor. Kinslayer is giggling madly to himself in a truly disturbing manner.

2007-08-25, 01:48 AM

Vodette does her best to try and ignore Kinslayer. She disliked the sword, and she wanted nothing to do with whatever it "thought" itself to be. She listened quietly for the most part. When the image of the 'skin wearer' appeared, Vodette tightened her gripe on her long, deadly weapon, but made no move. Nothing would hurt her here. After everybody had finished speaking, Vodette simply said.

But those skin wearer things go after anybody. They don't just eat arcane magic because that other man was a cleric. Thats different. And this legion thing, I think I've heard something about it. My old mentor used to tell me stories about it, usually when I wouldn't leave him alone and go back to my cleaning. He'd say that the Legion of the Damned would come and take me away. Is that the same legion? And I don't remember who this Gith is. But this other army you're talking about: we don't know for sure it's the same one, right. It could just be a coincidence. Or they could be trying to use some scar tactic. I'm sure lots of people have heard of that particular legion.

Vodette gives Kuromu a sideways glance.

Whats the matter, Kuromu? You've heard of the Legion too?

2007-08-25, 02:02 AM

Horacio grins at Tahlion.

Heh, I always said it's amazing intelligent weapons don't go mad, not being able to move themselves. Then again, movement hasn't helped Kinslayer's mood any. We'll see what we can do about your movement...

Horacio listens carefully to Vera, only pausing to glance over at Firethena when she moves closer. After Vera's done mentioning the legions, he nods, a grin slowly forming across his face.

"The 666 legions... another piece of the puzzle. I can't thank you enough for that info, Vera. We might finally have a good idea what's going on here. Of course, we'll need to find proof... evidence... but now we have some places to look.

"We'll have to go to my mind and lay out the pieces, see what variations everyone else has...

"I wonder if the storm there's calmed down any..."

He turns to Vodette.

"The githzerai & githyanki were slaves of the mind flayers for millenium. It was Gith who taught them how to harness their psionic powers & rebel against them."

Horacio thinks for a moment.

"Vera, Firethena, how long ago was the first sighting of these mage eaters?"

2007-08-25, 08:14 AM

At the introduction of the term "mage eater", Daewell instinctively lifted a hand to create a defensive spell. Although no actual words emerged, a rainbow sphere of colours briefly erupted around him, obscuring his floating form for a moment before contracting and settling in under his skin. The wizard did not seem comforted by this.

A great warrior leading a bloodthirsty army against his ancient enemy...more shades and echoes of our current predicament.

And, Miss Vera, I'd say that knowing what we don't know is a great first step towards learning it. I'll guess, but hope that I'm wrong, that we also don't know any particular defence against these...erm...Mage Eaters.

2007-08-25, 11:20 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

"This certainly makes for a difficult set of circumstances." You notice as he speaks that some of the tongues of living fire that clothe him are moving as if to form the words.

"Prevention, defense, understanding...it's all knowledge. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a painful price to pay for it. There usually is." The strongest of his voices is clearly wistful.

Tokugal floated over to Kumoru. Heh. That's pretty neat. One of his hands blackened and hardened as he bent down and picked up Kumoru's jaw.

"I've heard that intelligent undead often feel as if they've lost a part of themselves; but isn't this a little much?" he asked as he handed back the errant appendage. "Seriously, though: are you alright? I wondered what this sort of experience would do for you, given what Vera said about your nature. It's not causing a disruption, is it?"

2007-08-25, 12:55 PM

Horacio glances at Daewell.

"Firethena said they usually target lonely victims, so no one notices the changes in time. Defending against them should be easy; they die when stabbed just like anything else. The trick is they take up space in the vacant parts of the body. Firethena can bring up a detailed anatomy, but you use reverse backstabs; you stab their host where their organs aren't. That shouldn't be a problem for most of us.

"I believe the mindworm can prevent them from taking over your body; right, Vera? It just depends whether you want to risk having a flayer pet in your brain or having that thing under your skin.

"Detecting them is the tricky part. Firethena, Vera, you think you could whip something up for that?"

2007-08-25, 06:01 PM
"It never rains but it pours. Legions of mindless killing machines, furthur evidence these infiltrators are uniquely dangerous now, and apparently this mindworm thing is more dangerous than it appears..."

The stern expression is exchanged for a maniacal grin.

"...we certainly are living in interesting times. Excellent. Wouldn't want to be bored - which is good, that's not on the cards."

2007-08-25, 07:43 PM

"Dai, they might not even be on the infiltrators' side. They might be summoned to kill them."

2007-08-25, 07:51 PM
A very sad, weeping mask cries slightly as it answers...

"Rock. Hard Place. Us between them."

...but is subbed in for a more action ready one.

"I'm not whining. Much. Yeah, we should be fine, really. What's the worst that could happen?

Rhetorical question!"

2007-08-25, 08:50 PM
"The whole cheerfully dying thing I was on ab--ah." Terry adds unhelpfully, curiously poking one of the theater masks at Dai's hip.

2007-08-26, 12:47 AM

A little overwhelmed, once again, by the amount of information being thrown at her so quickly, Vodette's silver spike begins to vibrate and a few bolts of red flicker inside it. It looks like there is red lightning contained inside the silver spike.

So what do we do first?

2007-08-26, 02:18 AM

The wizard floats down a bit, to better make eye contact with the others. A hand drops absent-mindedly to one of the empty bags at his belt, and an almost musical clinking comes from inside. Reaching inside, he withdraws a slender blade of straw, which he places in his mouth and begins to chew furiously.

There are indeed many avenues to explore. Attempting to ascertain Gaudamus' real objective. The relationship between the tentacled horrors and Gaudamus. Whether he is in fact the new god whose birth we are to either attend to, or stop. The goal of the tentacled things. The true intentions of Devourer and his ilk in all this. The action and utility of the rods and cube from the lab. Kumaru's role in the coming saga, and the purpose and identity of whoever revived him. The nature, and sender, of Vodette and my dreams. The role that Kinslayer and Tahlion are to play.

Glancing up at Vodette's face, he grins sheepishly and cuts himself off.

Of course, I don't HAVE to think out loud.

2007-08-26, 07:05 AM
A falsely stern mask is the order of the day...

"Hey! Quit poking at my potential responses to situations! Amongst other things, I have some limited feedback on where they are, which your poking just made quite clear!

Also, it's rude. Am I poking and prodding you?"

A more serious, but less stern mask change later...

"Indeed, we have much to do... but specifically, right now, we have one thing to do, and that is get infected by a mindworm... did I really just say that out loud and with complete sincerity?"

2007-08-27, 12:18 AM
Kumoru grunts and slides his jaw back into place.

"Just a little startled by the gravity of our situation. I'm fine, more or less. As fine as I can be anyway. You might as well tell them Vera. I KNOW you know."

Vera frowns a little. It's not really my place to tell but- alright, if you're sure. Kumoru is essentially a psionic lich- as near as I have been able to determine, he possessed vast untapped psionic potential when he was alive, but for one reason or another he never learned how to use it, and this caused it to... back up, I guess. When he died, it was released, and now it is animating his body. But there's only so much left because his brain tissues are dead and unable to regenerate energy the way living psionists can. He's already starting to rot- depending on how vigorous your activity is, I'd say you have about a month left.

Kumoru nods. "More than I thought. Well, I'll live with it. Or rather I won't. But it doesn't really matter, I've got plenty of time to do what I need to do."

Any chance of actually telling them what it is you're going to-

"Get off my back, I'll tell 'em when they need to know."

Vera shrugs.

Firethena, meanwhile, is talking to Horacio.

"The earliest mention of something fitting their description that I know of comes from a few thousand years ago in an obscure tome of magical history, so they've been around for a while. As far as detecting them, there's a couple of obvious methods like a detect thoughts spell or something similar, but there isn't a 'detect flesh wearer' spell as far as I know..."

Vera tries to brighten up. So! Who wants to go inside Horacio's head and cut piece off of his brainworm!?

2007-08-27, 12:35 AM

Horacio nods as he listens to Vera.

"Detect Thoughts should do it. We just need to see whether the number of minds matches the number of bodies... and if those minds are alien."

Horacio glances at Kumoru suspiciously for a moment, then turns to Vera.

"Well, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. While we're there, I can lay out my view of the situation..."

Horacio frowns and scratches his chin.

Vera, why would he put that mindworm inside me without planning to use it? What did you mean when you said he wanted me to him?

2007-08-27, 06:32 AM

Drifting closer to Horacio, Daewell shrugs expansively.

Ready to pluck an illithid's psychic trap out of a friend, and stick it into my own head? I guess it'll have to do.

This, er, procedure is going to be reversible, yes?

2007-08-28, 09:50 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

The light of the flames dimmed as Vera explained Kumoru's state. "So there's no way of replenishing it? That's awful! What about--what about some place sorta like this, a plane of existence saturated with that sort of energy. Wouldn't that...recharge you? Not that I've ever heard of one; but you never know."

It was clear that Kumoru didn't want to talk about it, though; and there were other pressing matters.

"Yeah. I guess I'm ready then. Are we sure that this little procedure won't set off the brainworm into some sort of attack? Mightn't it trigger a defensive reaction or something? Do we know what tearing off a piece of it will do? Certain systems or alchemical solutions: if you disrupt the dynamic equilibrium, the whole thing goes BOOM. Kinda fun--but only if you're doing it on purpose. Is this brainworm gonna go boom?"

2007-08-29, 12:12 AM
Vera blinks. Oh, of course it'll set off a defensive reaction. You're gonna have to fight the little bastard to get anything out of it, that's why there's risk involved- if you die in the game you die for real. And, for the record, you're going to have to be really careful not to screw up anything you find in Horacio's brain. I brought you to an empty place in my mind so we could talk without worrying about anything, but the worm will probably be somewhere in his head with lots of things that could get broken, so you'll want to avoid that. Basically hop into the little guy's head, tear a few strips out of the mindworm, and hop back out before it kills all of you.

And as far as the Devourer's motives go, Horacio, I really have no idea- we can get the pices we're putting in your friends out easy enough, but yours is... nasty. I think only the Devourer can get it out, and unless Imiss my guess that's what he wants, for you to have to go to him to get that done, and I don't know what he might want in return. If it helps, I don't -think- it'll hurt you... but I could very easily be surprised...

2007-08-29, 12:50 AM

"Go to... him..."

Horacio narrows his eyes. They flash red for a moment.

"There's always a third path..."

He turns to the others.

"Yes, leave the screwing up things in my own mind to me. Vera, can we take a look around my mind before fighting the mindworm? We might as well go over theories and plans while I'm there."

2007-08-29, 01:45 AM
Terry frowns.
"I'm sorry, Kumoru. Perhaps there's a way yet we could revive you from the dead normally."
He scratches his head, puzzled.
"As appealing as mental security sounds, I don't want to risk it, personally--at least, not all of us. Someone should avoid taking a part of the brainworm."
"We'll find a way, Horacio--hell, maybe if we can make a friend of him, Gaudemus could help."
He looks to Vera.
"Visit minds...? I've got to say, I'm very curious as to what my own would appear as...if we can, I'd like to see mine."

2007-08-29, 02:00 AM

Vodette seems to shrink in stature a bit and the glow of her spike lessens when Vera tells the group that what they're doing could harm Horacio. She lands back on the ground and shifts her weight nervously.

Maybe I'll be the one who doesn't do the mindworm. I don't want to accidentally damage Horacio's brain. Lord knows it's delicate enough as it is. Vodette tries to conceal her nervousness with an impish grin at her last rib at Horacio.

2007-08-29, 02:37 AM

"Well, Terry, if our foes can read minds, we'll all have to take the mindworm. Besides, Vera's confident it won't harm you & it can be removed, and I trust her. Plus there are two members of our team that don't need them."

Horacio points at Tahlion & Kinslayer. He thinks privately at Tahlion for a moment.
Tahlion, you can possess me if something takes me over, right?
He then looks at Vodette.

"Parts of it might be fragile, but you'd be surprised how flexible it is. Perhaps we can use that to our advantage during the battle. I'll have to think on it... for now, we should go in, review the plan, and scout the terrain for the battle ahead."

2007-08-29, 04:30 PM

The wizard smiles grimly.

Horacio, I congratulate you for your courage in this. I'm not certain I'd be so sanguine in the face of such an enterprise.

Vera, will my own abilities will not function on this abstracted level? If so, I would do a bit more to prepare, to minimize the risk to both Horacio and the rest of us. Otherwise...

The mage rotates his right wrist, and a small, single-bladed glowing dagger appears in his hand.

We should get going. I'll assume that we'll know the worm when we find it.

2007-08-30, 12:44 AM
(And I have no earthly idea how I'll be fighting on a mental plane of existence. Idealized weapon, or something?)

2007-08-30, 12:55 AM
(OOC: Tossing an angry devil at an enemy might be scarily effective.)

2007-08-31, 10:55 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

"So the only aspect of this environment that's under the control of your mental manipulation is yourself? Or could you, Vera, change some aspect of this room we're in?

I wonder: if we have control over our own personal aspect, how can we truly tear apart this brainworm? Are there strict limits to how one can manipulate oneself? Individual limits imposed by one's mental faculties and training?"

Tokugal held out his left arm and closed his fiery eyes in concentration. After a moment, he opened them again and gasped. "I just tried to separate my hand and send it over to pinch Tahlion's hard butt; but all I got was a little darkening around my wrist. Can't say that it was from lack of motivation, though." He grinned.

"This place has opened my eyes to an entire other world I hardly suspected. Thanks, Horacio."

2007-08-31, 12:45 PM

(OOC: Going completely off assumptions here. I assume Horacio knows what he's talking about from previous time with Vera, so just scratch anything that conflicts with Magnus's view.)

Horacio chuckles at Daewell.

"Courageous? It's my mind, Daewell. If I can't win a fight there, I might as well hang up my tools for good."

Horacio looks at Tokugal.

"Of course she can, Tokugal. Change your mind, change your environment. Sometimes it's as simple as thinking something would look better over here. There are some things you can't remove, though... I've tried.

"Our personal aspects are under our control, but that doesn't mean others can't affect them. Think of it like a debate, Tokugal. You can make any argument you want, but that doesn't stop others from finding a weakness in it and tearing it to shreds. And the limits are more self-imposed than anything. It takes a while to grok just how little the usual rules apply here."

Horacio concentrates for a moment, and his right hand twists and morphs into a scimitar. He looks at it a moment before reverting it back to his own hand.

"Hmmm... it's been years since I've done this.

"It also depends how you think the reasoning. We've taken forms similar to our usual selves because there's less strain on our minds that way; we can concentrate on what we need to do instead of how we look doing it. Simpler is better. You can achieve the same effect multiple ways; choose the cause that feels most natural to you. Try 'summoning' a spectral hand, or simply stretching your arm until you can reach her, instead of making it split off. Most people aren't used to controlling two separate bodies at once. Or you're a wizard, just think of the force occuring."

Horacio closes his eyes for a moment. The gems on his crown flash for a moment.Using a psionic force to brush the hair from Firethena's face & adjust her cloak.
"Although I wouldn't think about Tahlion's ass. I can't be help responsible if she really does cut off your hand for that."

"And thank Vera, Tokugal. She's the one projecting this. I just set up the meeting."

2007-08-31, 01:08 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal nodded and focused his attention once again on his hand. Flames licked out, as if the magma core were consuming impurities; then his fingers began to glow and droop. His entire hand sagged toward the floor, melting like gold in a crucible. Before it stretched far enough to reach the stone underfoot, however, it appeared to be buoyed by a force underneath it. The now-malleable fingers elongated in the direction of Tahlion, becoming an elastic caricature of a hand...until it snapped suddenly back into its original form.

Tokugal waggled his fingers, reasserting conventional control over them. "Phew! That took more effort than I expected; but it's not as impossible as I first thought. Maybe that's the key: Yado's Principle in action."

"Could we have other powers here that our material forms don't possess? Are we only as strong, as quick, or as apt as we see ourselves? Can we generate pseudo-magical forces by thinking them into being? There's just so much to learn!"

2007-08-31, 03:39 PM
Dai swaps in a merry mask, with an almost musical voice.

"Tokugal, that is true of reality, let alone mindscapes. Willpower, determination, and the proper meditative focus are sufficient to manipulate reality. Our limits really do only come from inside - but that is not to belittle anyone, for it is hard to know, truly know and believe and be able to actualize, that you can do anything.

Even the Masters had their limits.

Now, whether mindscapes make you freer in this regard... perhaps. In this realm, I am no expert on how the mind works."

2007-08-31, 11:25 PM

The wizard nods to Vera.

I would also like to thank you for this, well, astonishing experience, Madam. Most of my own study has focused on the material world, things that can be seen and touched. This has been most felicitous.

The blade in his hand shimmers. The glow stretches across his body, encasing him in a variety of cascading colours, and the wizard shrinks to half of the previous size.

I believe that I am slowly getting the hang of this. This will certainly warrant more exploration. Assuming we're all alive in a week.

2007-09-01, 01:27 AM
Vera closes her eyes for a moment. The sparse stone walls around you are suddenly replaced by the vast expanse of a star-studded night sky, beneath your feet an alien world of unusual hues and strange flora. She smiles tightly.

"Horacio more or less has it- you can do anything you put your mind to, provided you have the mental fortitude and discipline to imagine yourself doing it. (Translation: Having higher mental ability scores helps.) The abilities you possess in your physical bodies will probably be the most potent in the mindscape, but you're not restricted to them by any means. You're also restricted by where you are. Since we're currently in my mind, I can manipulate the surroundings at will to do whatever I want, and if I can overpower your will, which is made much easier by the fact that I'm in my own mind and you aren't in yours, then I can do more or less whatever I want to you."

A hand appears out of nowhere and slaps Tokugal across the buttocks.

"Mind, if the lot of you jumped me right now I'd probably go down in a heartbeat just because I can't concentrate on that many opponents at once, but you get the basic gist. What you can do also depends pretty heavily on how used you are to this kind of thing, but you guys seem to be learning pretty fast."

Firethena blinks at Horacio's mental manipulation, then glances at him and blushes a little. The crown on his brow, however, seems to take umbrage at being lit up, and fluidly transforms into a liquid black cobra, which hisses stridently at him as it remains perched on his head.

"... oh, hey, I was wondering if it would manifest in a visible form in here. That's kind of cool."

Tahlion frowns a little at Horacio. That's a good question, and the answer is no- I've been taking a good look at that thing in your head, and it's well done- like, really well done. I can repair whatever damage it might do to somebody that runs afoul of it, but I can't counteract the protection it offers you- it just won't let me into your mind, at least not enough to take control of it.

But this could be a good thing, because if it won't let me inside your mind, it won't let me merge with it either- if we merge physically, our minds have to stay distinct and separate, so there's no chance of us accidentally permanently fusing ourselves. The process will be entirely reversible. ...of course... whether or not we'll be coherent enough to do anyone any good is a valid and pertinent question...

2007-09-01, 02:20 AM

Horacio's grin at Firethena disappears once he notices the viper perched on his head. His eyes go wide for a moment as the crown turns into a snake, then narrow as he glares at it.

"It would be, if I wanted it there."

Horacio steps away from anyone the snake's close enough to bite, then looks at Vera.

"Well, Vera, are we ready to move in?"

(He readies an action to create a rope wrapped around the viper's mouth if it tries to bite anyone.)

Horacio frowns at Tahlion.That's... that's good, I guess. But I was hoping you would be able to- *sigh* If I had to pick someone to dominate me, I'd rather it be you.

So... two minds, one body? We'll have to work on that. With a little practice, it shouldn't be a problem; I'm a rogue, I'm used to working with a partner. Hopefully Vera can help us merge mentally without expending the power to merge physically; we can save that for later, just to figure out what it's like to fight as you...

*looks Tahlion up & down*

You're what we'll look like when we merge, right?

We'll also have to go into your mind... so much to remember and so little time to do it in.

2007-09-01, 06:45 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal rubs his hindquarters as he looks ruefully at Vera. "Point taken."

He gestured at Horacio's 'crown.' "So is that it, the brainworm? Why do we need to go into Horacio's mind if we have it right here? Hm. Never mind the question. I think I can see why it would be different. In this realm, we encounter it as an unary object; but there we would encounter it as a rich entity--perhaps even as an environment. Something like that?" The elf frowned, dissatisfied with his mode of explanation.

2007-09-01, 07:27 PM

Horacio thinks a moment.

"We might, but I think this is just a projection through my mind. It would go hide in it before we could capture it. We have to go to the source to get it..."

Horacio looks up at the snake, annoyed.

"Well, you have anything to add? Are you just an animal protecting its territory, or do I get another voice in my head to converse with?"

2007-09-02, 01:45 AM
The snake hisses again before coling itself back around Horacio's head and settling there, a more pressing weight, now, but not particularly hostile.

Tahlion smiles glumly at Horacio. I'm honestly not sure what we'll look like- the end result is different with each person. We might end up looking more like me, or we might end up looking more like you. Though, if your mind remains dominant, it is entirely possible we'll look more like you than the alternative. Which means you won't wind up having boobs any time soon.

2007-09-02, 02:04 AM

Horacio grins sheepishly at Tahlion.I don't know whether to be overjoyed or disappointed. Although... hmmm... we'll have to see. The transformation could be useful as a disguise if we can prolong a weakened version of it...
Horacio glances up at the now-resting viper.

"This would freak me out more if I hadn't spent years around Snake Eyes. Hmmm..."

Horacio's eyes gleam for a moment. Then his hair comes to life, engulfing the viper's tail and slurping it down until its only poking a half-foot out of his head, like a venomous cowlick. He grins.

"Look, I'm the bastard son of a medusa."

Horacio stands ready to move on.

(OOC: Metaphysically, Horacio is tightening the reins on the 'viper', hindering any attempt by it to attack one of his companions.)

2007-09-03, 02:48 AM
The snake hisses in a sullen manner and dissapears completely beneath Horacio's hair.

(And I'm ready to move on as well, anyone else have anything they want to bring up, speak now or forever holrd your piece.)

2007-09-03, 03:00 AM

Horacio frowns, smooths out his hair, and looks at the others.

"Well, it's retreated back into my head. Ready to follow it? It should leave us alone while we piece together what we know about Gaudemus now. Then we can assault it."

2007-09-03, 09:31 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Tokugal amusedly watched Horacio's metaphysical wrestling match with the brainworm. When it disappeared he commented, "Ah, that makes more sense, then. In this environment, you form a unary object with it; whereas in your mind--mindscape?--we can address it as a distinct object."

He shook his head. "As much as I appreciate your affirmation of our quick progress, Vera, I still feel as if I have much to learn. Nevertheless, learning more about Gaudemus seems to be the more pressing concern at the moment. Go ahead."

2007-09-03, 03:43 PM
:smallsigh: "Onwards, then. Let us hope his mindscape is not too hostile or inhospitable."

2007-09-04, 12:22 PM
Vera nods. Horacio starts to feel funny. This is followed by a large portal of whirling blue energy appearing at his feet, dropping him out of sight.

"Follow the startled halfling."

(Aaaaaaand I think Horacio should describe the experience of entering his brain, 'cause it's his and all.)

2007-09-04, 02:03 PM

Startled by the rather sudden disappearance, Vodette floats over toward the portal. She glances inside and tightens her grip on the spike. She glances back at the group.

At the start of this all, I never would have thought we'd be going into a halfling's brain. Now we're look where we are. Battling brain worms and an insurmountable army. You guys are too much fun. Even if we do all die, I wouldn't want to go out any other way.

Vodette grins and her wings hum as she floats into the portal.

2007-09-04, 02:11 PM

Hmm. It will be interesting to see if Horacio's mind is as clever and cluttered as his words, or a more pristine place. Or, for that matter, what mine would look like.

Bracing himself, the wizard floated into the portal after Vodette, bracing himself for whatever he might find on the other side.

2007-09-04, 02:45 PM

The fall down turns into a walk forward, through a pitch black corridor you don't see but know. You instinctively step around pit traps you just know are there. At the end of it is a large but simple bedroom. A single torch bathes it in a warm light, but the bed, large enough for two, remains shrouded in shadow. In the center of the room, a chess table with no pieces has been shoved to the side, revealing an opened trapped door. You hear wind blowing from it.

Going down the trap door, you climb up onto the roof of a nondescript building in a skewed version of Atalya. The buildings look like monoliths, tall, some slanted, with no windows and exaggerated outcroppings that look perfect for climbing. A few look familiar, such as the Church, a dark, imposing figure on the horizon. You can't see the ground below through the shadowy mist drifting among the buildings.

Strung among the buildings is a large web with strands as thick as rope, twisting and turning into the horizon and the sky above. It connects statues of objects, locations, people, events, and ideas, all suspended in the web, swaying slightly in the breeze.

Above, scattered black clouds drift and circle below a stark twilight sky, letting dusty yellow sunbeams through. Patches of light and shadow slowly slide along the buildings. The clouds look thicker in some places than others.

Nearby, Horacio stares silently into the distance.

"It's been years since I've been here. The storm has changed. Before, it was raining, a miserable, unending torrent. Now the rain is replaced by thunder."

He sighs.

"Perhaps the storm will clear once its rage is expended. Please, sit down."

Horacio gestures to a couple of couches nearby that you didn't notice before.

"I need a few moments to gather my thoughts about Gaudemus. If you've got any questions about-" He gestures across the landscape. "-this, please, feel free to ask."

((If Kinslayer sits down, his couch will scream in muffled agony.))

Horacio pulls a small game piece of a demon out of his pocket.

"The Infernal legions, hmmm..."

He hurls it into the air. Threads snap out from distant webbing at blinding speed to catch and ensnare it in midair. They weave around it, anchoring it on nearby buildings, until its another branch of the web swaying gently in the breeze.

Horacio is silent as he looks at it.

2007-09-04, 04:02 PM
Terry bobs in the air gently as he looks around.
"The storm and the webs I'd dig an explanation of..."

2007-09-04, 04:19 PM

"The webs are thoughts, connections, patterns. They show how everything's linked together."

He reaches out for a strand, which pulls off and wraps around his arm. He yanks it tight, pulling the Infernal Legion web close, giving you a better look at what it's connected to: a githzerai statue, a statue of Gaudemus, a state of the skinwearers, all in their own webs. The strands between it, Gaudemus, and the skinwearers are constantly raveling and unraveling, as if unsure whether they're connected right. A multitude of other strands stretch away from Gaudemus and the skinwearers in all directions.

"It's complex, but so's life. I'll try to unravel them for you.

"The storm is, well, my state of mind. I can control it about as well as the real weather..."

Horacio chuckles darkly.

"There's a few stable areas in it. Memories seared into my mind, mostly..."

2007-09-04, 04:38 PM

Floating carefully into the room, Daewell moves away from the doorway and settles into a lotus position in midair. He stares at the growing web intently, breaking off only to say.

You honour us with this view of your mind, Horacio. My thanks. Perhaps...

Feeding in details from his dream, he forms a quintet of dolls, four of which bristle with swords. They float over to come to rest in a corner of the web.

2007-09-04, 05:20 PM
Adopting a smiling mask... "Well... this is a cheery little place. I wonder when the brainworm's going to drop in..."

Dai assumes a poised, martial stance, after switching his expression to 'solemn'.

2007-09-04, 06:31 PM

((OOC: Daewell, mind giving us the details on the dream? I don't think we ever really got them...))

Horacio ensnares the dolls with a small web and pulls them over to himself.

"You should show us your dream, Daewell. Just conjure it as an illusion in front of us."

He glances over at Vodette.

"Vodette, you should do the same... Terry, you too. The night Aerin died... too much gets lost in words."

He looks at Dai.

"Dai, I think you can relax. The mindworm seems to be purely defensive, and we aren't trespassing on its domain. We should be safe here, since I'm dragging these to the surface instead of you delving into them...

"I'll keep an eye out, just in case. I have a few preparations I want to make before we meet it."

He pauses, looking at his hands, then at Tahlion.


2007-09-04, 08:48 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

When he stepped out of the portal between minds, the fire elf's slender form resembled a solid cloud of roiling black smoke and sparking orange embers. Hm. I didn't even try for that. I never could stick to one thing for too long, could I?

"I'm always amazed by the fascinating flexibility of the mind; by its capacity to make connections where none are obvious; the way an ordinary pebble can evoke memories of a summer holiday or the curve of an archway a forgotten lover; the ability to see beyond the scant remaining evidences and unlock the mysteries of what was hidden long ago. This is the first time I've ever had such graphic access to the connections that another mind makes. I'm sure there are some interesting associations."

"For instance, what does that large fish have to do with that lady's face? Those lips are too eminently kissable for it to be what I would first suspect. On the lady, I mean."

2007-09-04, 09:18 PM


Horacio quickly pulls over the link in question, making the whole web shudder.

"That lady is an arrogant rich prick. Or was, before we cleaned out most of her savings. The large fish was- oh, now I remember it!"

He chuckles.

"The large fish was tossed off a 3rd-story roof into her brassiere by yours truly. We cast some enchantments on it to make it more accurate, but it was still the best toss I ever made.

"...especially when it started singing...

"...and flying..."

Horacio snickers under his breath as he pushes that away, pulling the web back to more serious matters.

2007-09-04, 09:39 PM

Daewell nods, blocking out the banter around him. Shapes begin to emerge - some realistic, some distorted, some fuzzing out to indistinctiveness.

I'd wanted to compare notes with Kumaru about this - it WAS a dream, I'd had a couple, and I could be mis-remembering details...but he was there. That is, if the dream was honest.

He unfolds from his crosslegged position, and takes a place in the dream. There are four figures coming down a road, seen approaching from the roadside. One is simply massive, fully cloaked. One is a slenderer figure, perhaps a spellcaster of some kind. And two are very youthful versions of Gaudamus and Kumaru.

Appearing next to Daewell is an older man, fit, white-haired, also armed with a sword. He leans in to whisper to Daewell, and his voice amplifies around the room.

Watch. Remember. So it begins.

The man seems to take up position in the road, as if to challenge the four. The voices become muffled, but Gaudamus clearly takes the lead among the four companions, and what seems initially like a cheerful bantering soon turns to blows. The older man bests Gaudamus, who ends up on the ground, and there is a further, tense exchange of words.

The older man allows Gaudamus to rise, and the four companions go on their way, watched intently by the white-haired man. Who vanishes, along with the rest of the scene, leaving Daewell floating once again in midair.

I believe there is a good chance that the figure who fought Gaudamus is the sometime mentor, now long absent, who Kumaru referred to back in the Temple. In which case, since he is the figure who spoke to me, and the dream seemed to happen from more or less his perspective, there is a good chance that it was he who sent my dream. And, potentially, Vodette's as well.

The wizard smiles apologetically. A bit drained, Daewell settles to the floor, again sitting cross-legged. He continues to examine Horacio's web.

2007-09-04, 10:12 PM

Horacio nods, then tosses the six figures Daewell gave him up into the air, where they instantly affix new connections to the rest of the web.

"That was more vague than I hoped. I assume it's the same old man we heard on the way here? Speaking of which, Vera, did you recognize the other voice discussing the legions?"

As he waits for the others, Horacio looks down at his right hand. It grows shinier, more elongated, before it's replaced by a twitching, living grappling hook & chain. He "shoots" it out of his arm; it snakes up at a right angle and grabs another thread.

"I have an idea. Let's keep discussing Gaudemus; I'll consider it."

Horacio returns to inspecting himself, pausing to glance at Tahlion.Tahlion, Vera, how far can I go without triggering the worm's defenses? How close can I get to another mind before it attacks them? Could I... cooperate with another mind against it? Have someone else help me shape my mind while they fight it?

2007-09-04, 11:17 PM
Kinslayer doesn't sit down, he seems content to stand around and look up at the sky, intently studying the webs. Kumoru, however, is greatly interested by Daewell's retelling of the dream.

"Yeah, that's him alright, our ubiquitous mentor figure... I remember this day, too, it was the first time we met him... he and Gaudemus never seemed to get along any better than they did then... some of the details seem off, but... that's really odd, how could you have possibly dreamed about this?"

Vera glances at Rennac and her eyes resume their glow. "Not very- it laid in wait for a while when I started probing you so it could sneak up on me, but I don't doubt it'll be quicker on the uptake this time. As far as helping you against it... there's not a lot we can do here. We can fight it, but short of trying to merge psionically with you... " Tahlion shrugs. I suppose we could give it a try... sort of a test run before we attempt a physical joining... wow, is it just me or does that sound kind of dirty?

2007-09-05, 12:17 AM

Horacio: "We think the 'old man' is trying to warn us about something. Of course, he doesn't just tell us in two sentences what it is..."

Horacio concentrates a moment and his other hand turns into a living grappling hook as well.

Horacio: "This might just work. I have the power to manipulate my mindscape but not the experience we need. What I need is a partner... or a wielder..."

Horacio lets out a sharp yelp as all of his limbs turn into grappling hooks and his body disappears. His clothes drop to the ground. Out of them crawls a backpack, supported by 4 grappling hooks skittering like legs.

You're right, Tahlion, that does feel awkward.

It looks at itself and scratches his "head".

Nope. Interesting, but too strange to focus on...

The grappling hooks retract into himself as the backpack narrows into an elven courtblade, similar to Tahlion. It floats up into the air.

Hmmm, simple, until you try to reconcile the shape with the effects brought on. I need something between the two...

It circles in the air until it points at Kinslayer, then swiftly points at Tahlion, then back at Kinslayer again.

Got it.

The sword unfurls into a threadbare dark brown cloak & hood. It is pitch black inside it, and the cloak lengthens and darkens until it melds into the very shadows. Something underneath the hood writhes, as though the hair underneath is trying to squirm out. Its snake & spider clasp opens as the cloak spreads, revealing no one inside. Its hood tilts quizzically at Tahlion as it floats in midair.

Well, Tahlion? What do you think? I figured I'd try being on the 'wielded' end for once. Through this, we can twist the mindscape using both our skills and give the others an edge on the mindworm. Now, put me on and we'll try sorting out the web of connections around Gaudemus for the others; think of it as a warm-up.

To Tahlion (privately):Yes, it really does. Mental bonding's the same way, though... among friends you trust, it feels great, otherwise... well, we call illithids 'mind rapers' for a reason.


Say, in this form I'm going to be draped right over your ass. I hope you don't mind... hell, I hope Firethena doesn't mind...

*sheepish chuckle*

2007-09-05, 12:18 AM
(Got your PCs mixed again, Mags.)
Terry nods and closes his eyes for a moment.
"I'll try."
His face takes on an expression of concentration as his wings stretch for a moment and his altitude falters. At first the voice is Terry's, with a note of insecurity as he tries to call up the memory. After a second it fades to the voices he remembered.

Lord Vadis..."You have a son."
The dream begins to play again. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2569320&postcount=1208)

2007-09-05, 01:02 AM

Horacio the cloak silently watches as Terry's vision replays itself, drifting down like it was deflating. At the end, it drops to its "knees". Black clouds have gathered above, circling ominously. The figures representing the event are literally seared into existence.

I had already heard what happened, but seeing it was much more terrible... like my worst nightmares...

The cloak moves towards Aeryn's figure. A shadowy hand reaches out of it, brushing her cheek.

Of returning home one day to see my past has come back, and turned my present happiness into a room filled with hollowed corpses...

The cloak drifts towards Gareth's figure, almost embracing it.

And now they've come back to take his only son...

His mental voice cracks in grief & anger as a gust of wind hits full blast, almost ripping the clothes off your bodies. A dozen lightning bolts spit out of the cloud above. With blinding light & fury they smash into the tentacled woman's figure, over and over again, for seconds that stretch to eternity. You can almost hear Horacio's scream echoing through the thunder.

When it's over, all that's left of the tentacled woman is a fine pile of ashes, quickly blown away in the dying wind. The cloak & Horacio's voice tremble with barely contained rage.

There is no agony in the Abyss sufficient for these monsters. I will stop them... we will stop them...

The strands of webbing tenderly wrap around the remaining figures, gently pulling them up into the air as the storm above slowly disperses. The cloak slowly picks itself off the ground to hover once again.

2007-09-05, 10:28 AM

As the wind and rage picks up around him, Daewell glances around, a bit worried. Gold coins begin to flit out of his empty moneybags and circle him on the floor, forming a kind of intermittent barrier. Within, he remains undisturbed by the wind, but is clearly concerned about Horacio.

Horacio! We are in your mind, and are your guests. I understand the depth of your emotion - but for the safety of all of us, I would urge you to find the discipline that your goddess speaks of.

[Mike, are your italicized comments meant to be speech? I'm not sure whether we're hearing any of this.]

2007-09-05, 11:23 AM
(OOC: Yep, you can hear it. Any private telepathy is in spoilers. Will reply in full IC later.)

2007-09-05, 03:13 PM

Horacio the cloak glances at Daewell as the sky above begins to clear again.

Have a little faith, Dae. I wouldn't hurt my companions with a blinding rage. You are right, though; I have done too much screaming lately. It's... been a long day.

The cloak chuckles darkly.

2007-09-05, 04:25 PM
Serene behind an expressionless mask, Dai waits, calmly observing.

"Quite an exciting little mindscape. Reminds me of the times I've had to work myself up into a berserk fury."

2007-09-05, 06:35 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"It's a lot easier to maintain a form than it is to change it, isn't it? I wonder..."

After a moment's hesitation, Tokugal seemed to fade from view entirely. "I'm gonna try something. Heh, this is cool. Okay, help me out here: I'm gonna move around; and you tell me if you can figure out where I am regardless of my optical manifestation. I'm wondering if in a mindscape like this, we're more sensed than we are seen."

His voice came from a different location. "Oh, yeah. I'm floating so you don't hear my footsteps. Let me move some more, and tell me what you think."

2007-09-05, 06:41 PM
(OOC: I'm gonna leave that up to Magnus to decide for me.)

2007-09-07, 12:19 AM
(Em: What the hell are you- oh, oh god damnit. Damnit. *sigh* Okay, it... it's not the end of the world.

...oh, who am I kidding. It's the end of the world. Lemme get some booze.)

Tahlion cracks a sly smile and strokes the hem of cloak-Horacio.

I don't mind a bit.

Kinslayer doesn't say anything- he's starting to pace back and forth restlessly, his wings drooping behind him as he does so. He moves with a jittery, nervous energy. As though something was making him uncomfortable.

Firethena raises an eyebrow at Horacio's transformation. At the display of Terry's vision, however, her face goes absolutely pale- the color bleeds out of her clothing and hair until she is shrouded in white and gray, staring in horror at the scene that plays out before her. Her mouth opens and closes, but no intelligable sounds manage to escape. Her expression doesn't change until Horacio reduces the tentacle monster to ashes, and then her mouth only twists into a disgusted frown.

Tokugal, when he turns invisible, seems entirely impossible to detect. Horacio can still "sense" him perfectly find, because it's his damn brain.

2007-09-07, 12:38 AM
(I would just like to point out "no, you can't do that" is a tool in the GM's arsenal.)

2007-09-07, 02:45 AM

"Well, I can sense you, Tokugal. It is my mind..."

Horacio wraps himself around Tahlion. The clasp snaps shut around her neck as cloak drops to rest on her, replacing the white cloak she was wearing earlier.

"I'm a bit nervous. In all my years, I've never worked this closely with anyone... hmmm, a bit more trimming..."

The hood slowly unravels until it's a threaded webbing hugging Tahlion's hair. As the hood unravels, Tahlion's hair comes to life, slithering through the holes, and stretches up, swaying in the air like a fern bursting through a cobblestone road.

Shadowy tendrils shoot from the base of the cloak, connecting and disappearing into the scattered shadows.

"Yes, this is much better... ahh..."

It feels comforting to Tahlion, like a favorite cloak broken in until you barely notice its presence. Horacio's voice echoes warmly in her mind:I call this the cloak of shadowy thought. I stole a few ideas from the less reputable people I've met. Hair animated like a medusa's snakes, to stretch & grab the webbing and mortar and reposition it. Connections to the shadows, to turn them into doors and animate the very landscape itself. And, in a pinch, I can wrap myself around your lower body and give you the tail of a snake to make you swifter, or the body of a- drider, isn't it?- to help you climb on the webs better.

My power here is ours to command. My plan is to turn the terrain to our companions' advantage while keeping you out of harm's way. Whatever you ask, I will do what I can... Please, try it out.


Hmm... look at Kinslayer and Firethena. Firethena looks pretty shaken by that scene. Kinslayer...

...Kinslayer's definitely hiding something about that scene. He should be getting jolly or angry, not... agitated... why?

Tahlion, could you please comfort Firethena for me?
"It was much worse than any of us thought, Firethena," Horacio's voice whispers sadly, projecting sorrow and comfort.

Horacio subtly switches to a private thought for Firethena & Tahlion:But it's not the whole truth. I think Kinslayer knows something about it we don't. Any ideas what?
Meanwhile, Horacio keeps his focus on Kinslayer, watching for the slightest reaction about his unease... or a premature attack to deflect.

Sense Motive, Kinslayer: 28
Sense Motive (Eye on Kinslayer) (1d20+16=28) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1247750)

2007-09-07, 10:29 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

"That's what I thought," he remarked as he faded back into sight, slightly behind Kumoru. "Did anyone else sense me? If not, then we might be able to use something like that to our advantage. The brain worm is in Horacio's mind; but the mind does not belong to it. We may gain a distinct advantage if we are undetectable while approaching or manipulating it."

"On the other hand, it's a mental construct of a sort--isn't it? So perhaps it has powers or senses pertaining to the mind such that it wouldn't matter in whose mindscape it found itself."

2007-09-07, 02:56 PM

The coins surrounding Daewell turn into diamonds that shrink into imperceptibility. The wizard smiles.

I am as fond of abstract conjecture as anyone, but our time is precious. Horacio, before we go after the worm, perhaps you could go over this theory you've been mentioning?

2007-09-07, 08:12 PM
Tahlion comes up behind Firethena and lays her hands on her shoulders. The color slowly returns to her hair and clothing. She whispers in Horacio's mind.

Kinslayer's definitely upset about something, but he seemed uneasy even before Terry shared his vision. Maybe he just doesn't like the scenery? "That doesn't make much sense," contributes Firethena, "He's a demon, Horacio's mind can't possibly be that much worse than what he's used to. ...maybe he just doesn't like spiders?"

2007-09-07, 09:49 PM
Reaching into the inky blackness he is wearing, Dai locates an iron mask...

"Loins girded? We who are about to fight a monstrous beast in it's own habitat feel prepared?

Well, I don't. Not quite. Please, enlighten us on that theory and about what is going on."

Waiting, he utilizes his usual meditative techniques to try and stoke a more warlike side of himself to the fore... the black cloak lightens, becoming an armoured grey. Some of the masks ripple to become weapons (one a sword he draws), while another grows to become a shield.

"I feel more comfortable in conventional combat here... the magic of a mindscape strikes me as more potentially chaotic."

2007-09-07, 11:33 PM

Horacio's private conversation with Firethena & Tahlion continues:That doesn't make sense, either. The only thing a demon fears is threats to itself. Perhaps he realizes he's vulnerable in here? He's not indestructable here; he's surrounded by psions and mages and his arch-enemy merged with the mindscape's master; and for all his powers in the physical world, he doesn't strike me as an intellectual powerhouse. For the first time, he might feel weak.

Or... perhaps he's afraid we're figuring out what he's up to."The theory? Yes. It's only one possibility, but it gives us some clues where to start searching."

Tahlion's hair suddenly lengthens, whipping and snapping across the mindscape, grabbing ahold of webs and pulling them towards the group. As Horacio explains his ideas, they move and point out sections of the webbing to emphasize the connections between them.

"Gaudemus is not your typical power-hungry evildoer. We've all seen evidence of that. The only times he was truly dangerous was when his family was threatened. That's what pushed him into researching the Dark Arts.

"Aerin's death caused him to snap. If Gareth had died as well, I'm sure he would've completely snapped. As is, he probably devoted his energy to protecting his only son and resurrecting his dead wife.

"So unless he's developed a taste for wanton carnage, the only thing that should compel him to attack Atalya is a threat against the one thing he holds dearest."

A web holding Gareth comes into view.

"I think the skinwearers have infested Gareth and are trying to turn him into the God of Terror. Gaudemus had an enormous amount of magical energy; I assume his son inherited that as well. This was probably their plan from the beginning.

"After all, if they despised Gaudemus that much, why would they kill his wife, but leave his son alive? I think Aerin's death was a distraction to keep Gaudemus from realizing they had infected his son."

A strand from the Skinwearer's web grabs ahold of Gareth's statue. You see what looks like a worm crawl across it, wiggling into Gareth's ear.

"The plan worked. His slaughter of the healers exiled Gaudemus from Atalya & made him a fugitive. He was cut off from any aid besides Nightfang, and he isn't exactly a healer specializing in aberration infestations. He might've gotten the help he needed if he stayed. As is, he probably didn't notice- or refused to consider- that his only son was infected until it was too late.

"Hence Gareth's sickness. And the nightmares that seems to follow in his wake. And Vodette's dream about him. I think Gaudemus realizes what's happened to his son, but, like this damned brainworm, it's embedded too deep for him to remove. So what can he do?

"Kill the source."

A model of Atalya comes into view.

"We already know they have a presence in Atalya. It wouldn't surprise me if they're based here."

Numerous small spaghetti monsters float from Atalya and encircle Gareth.

"Gaudemus will use his usual solution, of course."

Gaudemus's statue swings a giant sword at Atalya, cutting off the spaghetti monsters & causing the city to burst into flames.

"Collateral damage be damned. He already has an army of ten thousand, but that might not be enough to destroy the source. So he's probably getting some extra help as well."

A strand connects the statues of Gaudemus & the infernal legion. A portal bursts into existence between them.

"Using his knowledge of the extraplanar realms to summon the most terrible army ever imagined. He probably thinks he can control it. Or he might not care. But the end result is, we get to see just what that gith warrior worked so hard to prevent...

"It may be a bit overkill, but this is Gaudemus we're talking about.

"If this is what's truly happening, we have two objectives: first, we need to convince Gaudemus not to summon the infernal legions. Second, we need to hunt down the source of the skinwearers in Atalya and obliterate it.

"I have an idea where the source is..."

One of the shadowvines twists and writhes. A distant rumble quickly draws close. Buildings and webs part as the Church draws close. It looms above, twisted and diseased.

"Darkness lurks behind the light,
Look and find a terrible sight.

"That's what the demon said. And what shines brighter in Atalya than the Church? What has more authority?

"Authority is a dangerous thing. In the wrong hands, you can use it to get away with murder. In the Silent Wars, the flayers constantly tried to infiltrate the Church. Sometimes they succeeded. The skinwearers have already shown they can infest paladins, and the Devourer said they know exactly what Donovan asked us to do. I wouldn't be surprised if skinwearer infiltrators... or cultists worshipping them... suggested our mission in the first place.

"Bottom line is, we can't trust our employers. They have too much interest in Gaudemus for the skinwearers not to have them infested. And if they wanted a safe base to spread havoc & terror... well, who would ever think to look for pure evil in a chapel?

"It may even go up higher than we think. Take Donovan; I assume he's an experienced cleric. He can probably cast what, a few dozen spells a day? How could he spend all of them in a single morning divining for monsters, especially when he has lackeys to do that for him? Hells, Nefertari still had healing spells! I'd expect her to run out before Donovan.

"And then there's the rewards. I know I said I didn't care about the money; that's only partially true. Donovan gave us 25,000 gold worth."

A bag of gold falls to the ground.

"He promised we'd get double that if we saved the city."

Two more bags of gold plop to the ground next to it.

"That's 75,000 gold. However, the offer promised 100,000 gold apiece for completing the mission. My question is, where's the other 25,000 gold?"

An empty bag drifts to the ground next to the other three.

"Can you think of anything else we have to do for the Church after saving the city? Perhaps Donovan... or his replacement... forgot.

"I know you'll argue against that, Daewell, and I admit the evidence we have so far is spotty. However, every other incident of the skinwearers we've seen in Atalya has had some relation to the Church. They're also very interested in Gaudemus, and they asked us to do this mission involving Gaudemus. They may have other plans for Gaudemus besides stopping his attack. Sixth rule of thievery: beware your employer.

"But what about the paladin attack this morning? It had almost no chance of succeeding, but it suggested that the skinwearers were in league with Gaudemus and enemies of the Church. That's ludacris; you saw what they did to his wife. Gaudemus would rather die than be allies with them. That suggests two possibilities: either they're trying to set Gaudemus and the Church against each other, or they've infiltrated the Church and are trying to throw us off their trail by attacking itself.

"So... it's reasonable to believe the skinwearers know we're meeting with Gaudemus, and want us to do so, else they would've ripped us to shreds by now, as the Devourer suggested. But why? Again, two theories..."

A vision flashes in front of you, of the party parleying with Kara & Gareth, surrounded by barbarians, outside. Suddenly arrows rain down on the groups as Cudgelers burst from the foilage and attack.

"They're using us to set up an ambush, to convince Gaudemus the Church is out to get him and thus go through with the attack. They might even want to kidnap Gareth and bring him back to Atalya. How the hell they'd pull that off, I don't know.

"The other theory's more likely."

The vision resets. But this time, in the middle of the parley, Gareth attacks the party. The two sides converge & attack as Kara looks on in horror. In the chaos, Gareth grabs Kinslayer. Kinslayer's laughter echoes through the clearing.

"You could be so much more... do you want to be?"


A burst of fire engulfs them both. When it clears, Kinslayer's standing there in his demon form, taller and more imposing than ever, cackling.

"I'm back, and better than ever! Now, feel the wrath of- wait, what is this?!"

The vision's Kinslayer clutches his head and drops to his knees in pain. As he shudders, a tentacle bursts out of the side of his skull. Another one pops out of his stomach, then another, then another...

Kinslayer screams in agony as his body is ripped apart from the inside out by the largest spaghetti monster you've ever seen. It's still growing, devouring everything in its path, as the vision fades.

"They're already controlling Gareth, but they need to trick Kinslayer into performing the final step of the transformation. Once they merge, they can rip apart Kinslayer's mind and steal his power for themselves..."

Horacio goes silent for a moment.

"That's what I think. We let Gaudemus summon the legions and the world ends. We let the skinwearers complete whatever profane ritual they're using to transform Gareth into their god and the world ends. We've got to convince Gaudemus to let us kill the skinwearers and then actually do it...

"That's my theory. It could be wrong. The skinwearers and the legions might be in cahoots. The skinwearers might not have anything to do with the Church, besides inciting a war between Gaudemus & them. Gaudemus or Gareth might even be controlling the skinwearers, or possessed, or truly have turned evil..."

Horacio's voice trails off. It sounds like he's more scared than convinced the last suggestions might be true.

"But we won't know for sure until we gather more information."

2007-09-08, 12:27 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

The fire elf nodded as Horacio narrated. When the halfling finished, Tokugal opened his mouth to speak. He shut it again without a word, but added another nod.

2007-09-08, 12:51 AM

"First, about Gaudemus. Tahlion, Kinslayer, Kumuro, Firethena... all of you knew him. You know whether he'd act like this or not. But it's been a century since any of you have seen him. People can change a lot in that time...

"Nightfang & Scarlet could provide more up-to-date info, but I don't think they trust us and I don't know if we should trust them. They mentioned Gaudemus had something big planned, but were mum on what. We probably won't get any more out of them unless we can convince them we need it to prevent Gareth & Kara from getting killed.

"But there's another source of info on Gaudemus we can ask..."

A web of Gaudemus, Gareth, and Kara snaps into view. Gaudemus is connected to Gareth; Gareth is connected to Kara.

"Kara: Gaudemus's high priest, Gareth's wife. She's concerned about Gareth's sickness; if Gaudemus knows what it is, he hasn't told her. If we can contact her telepathically, we could convince her we believe Gareth's in terrible danger and that we need info from her to figure out how to prevent it.

"She could tell us how Gaudemus acts now, anything suspicious about Gareth, and why they're attacking Atalya. We could learn that at the diplomatic meeting, but it'll be too late to follow up leads in Atalya then.

"There's a few problems with that: Can we set up a 2-way telepathic connection that far away? What if Kara's infected as well? What if Gaudemus has mental barriers up around her? I'll rely on your guidance for that, Vera & Firethena.

"If we can contact her, Kumoru and I should be the ones talking to her. Kumoru's family; I'm..."

Horacio pauses for a moment.

"I have experience with family matters...

"Anyway, if we can establish a rapport with her, this last century of Gaudemus's activities will open up. And if we convince her we're here to help, she can help us convince Gareth & Gaudemus as well.

"It'd be wonderful if we could just contact Gaudemus directly, but..."

An image of Horacio's head bursting into flames as he runs around screaming pops up.

"I don't think it'd go well.

"Second, the cult. We need to do in one week what a couple millenia of mages couldn't: find them, pin them down, capture them, root them out. Luckily they seem to be getting cocky, perhaps impatient. We can twist their mistakes to our advantage.

"Daewell, Tokugal, Firethena, Vera, you're our experts here. We'll need as much info as we can on them. Grabbing current info will be harder. Terry, Vodette, Dai, you can troll for rumors about cults or spaghetti monsters around town. I have my own sources I can tap."

The webs twist again, bringing into view a stone statue of a medusa. She comes to life as you watch. (OOC: Magnus, could you role-play this one? Horacio's giving them a taste of what she acts like.)

"This is Snake Eyes: crime lord of Atalya, a former employer of mine, and an all-around aberration hater. Normally I wouldn't drag her into this, but since we're talking the demise of this city and the world... well, I say take any help we can get.

"She hates the Church with a burning rage, but she despises aberration invaders even more. She also has an amazing intelligence network keeping tabs on any aberration cults she finds. If anyone knows what this Cult of the Nine Tongues is up to here, she does.

"I'll set up a meeting with her later. I was one of her top agents back in the day; if I say we have a problem important enough to risk letting outsiders like you question her, she'll believe me.

"I might not be able to accompany you; I do have that mindworm embedded in me, and she's a bit paranoid about that stuff. Vera probably could. Kumoru could as well; she appreciates things like psionic liches. Hell, she'd probably try to recruit you.

"Terry, you and Kinslayer should meet her as well. Kinslayer would be a sign of power & respect, and a last resort if things go bad. As for Tokugal & Daewell... Tokugal, you should be fine, just watch what you ask. Daewell... realize you're meeting with a major crime lord and one of the Church's Most Wanted. There's Cudgelers that'd give an arm and a leg to get this close to her. A few have; they're now decorations in her garden.

"If you do meet her, Daewell, mind your manners like your life depended on it. Succeed and you'll be the first Cudgeler to meet her and live. Fail and... well, she'd probably take you hostage as a statue, mail your fossilized finger to your uncle, and demand ransom for the rest of you.

"And don't even think about taking her down. It might be tempting, but she's the spearhead of any resistance from the shadows. Trust me, we'd all be worse off without her. Lesser of two evils and all that.

"Once we learn where the cultists are, maybe we can actually capture a skinwearer or two and interrogate them. It's a long shot, but I didn't expect us to pick up two intelligent swords in a week, either."

The webs scatter at the touch of Tahlion's hair, giving you another unobstructed view of the twisted Church.

"Third, the Church. We need to figure out if anything's rotten there. Dai, you're a natural spy and you have a lover to visit there. You might feel dirty using her as an excuse like that, but I'm sure she'll understand. And it gives you an excuse to visit her. I'd recommend that anyway; it'd be a shame if you got killed before you could spend a night with her.

"Daewell could investigate as well. You're an idealistic Cudgeler; the idea of corruption festering in the Church should disturb you more than anyone else. Just be careful who you put your trust into and you should be fine.

"Vodette and I could join you, especially if I could take Tahlion's form for an extended time. Look at her; she's a pillar of purity & righteousness. Who'd suspect her of being a damn rogue? And Vodette... well, Vodette can fake being good well enough."

Horacio chuckles.

"That just leaves... a lot of things, actually. We need to investigate that planar cube, recreate Gaudemus's experiments, read that Book of Death, learn more about the infernal legions, investigate the death of Gaudemus's paladin lover and see if she had any connection to the cult, actually set up that meeting, and... oh yes!

"You're gonna love this, Daewell. Firethena thinks we might be able to snap Gaudemus out of it by reminding him of Aerin. The best way to do that would be to bring her paintings to him. And most of her paintings are in her father's house.

"I've heard he's a particularly spiteful man, worse than your uncle, that didn't care much for his daughter and hated Gaudemus. I figure, you being the rich kid among us, we could give you a chance to buy them from him without mentioning what they're for. But if that fails...

"Well, we're going to rob a crotchety, festering old bast*rd blind to save the world."

Horacio bursts out laughing, continuing once he's caught his breath.

"But that's all I have. I've laid my cards out on the table, now tell me how good my hand is."

Tahlion can feel Horacio focusing on Kumoru in particular, expecting him to mention a few comments that might indicate what, exactly, he plans to do and how it fits in...

2007-09-08, 07:47 PM
Kinslayer vomits. It's a thick syrupy mass of red and brown, and it sizzles and melts as it touches the ground.

Funny. Really. But don't suggest I'd touch Gaudemus' son, even in jest- none of us are that stupid.

Kumoru kind of awkwardly pats the demon thingy on the head. Kinslayer growls at him.

The medusa model purrs and beckons to Tahlion/Horacio. "Oh, don't you just look so darling in that getup? Why don't you come on over here so I can cut you open and see what makes you tick."

Firethena rouses herself. "It might be selfish of me to suggest this, but... shouldn't we be worrying about Gaudemus first? If he is planning on attacking Atalya in force... and I don't neccessarily believe he is, but always plan for the worst... well, wouldn't it to behoove us to prevent this from happening at all costs? We can't exactly search the city for skinwearers if the city's been levelled."

Vera is sitting back with her eyes closed, apparently deep in thought.

2007-09-08, 08:11 PM

One of the shadowy tendons quivers a moment. A geyser of sewage water rises up nearby and curves towards Kinslayer, spraying the vomit off the building and giving him a good "rinse".

"Comment noted, Kinslayer, but if you're gonna puke up, please do it outside of my mind. I've already got enough dirty thoughts in here."

Horacio shudders a bit at Snake Eyes's reenactment.

"Hmmm, I forgot how much of a b*tch she can be. Amazing what you forget after a decent relationship and a few years.

"And Firethena, the Church has already told us we have a few days to prepare. We should get more accurate predictions from them of when they think Gaudemus will strike, but we have time to investigate this. Besides, the only way I think we'll stop Gaudemus is to offer an alternative. If he's invading to destroy something in particular, we'd better have an option ready that doesn't involve swarming barbarians."

2007-09-08, 08:52 PM
"I love a good discussion, but I loathe having my heart on my sleeve... let along displayed on masks all over... perhaps now is just the time for discussions directly pertaining to whether we slice and dice the mindworm or not?"

2007-09-08, 09:35 PM

"True. We can discuss this further in someone else's mind. If we are going to cut up the mindworm, most of us will have to take a slice for it to be an effective deterrant. While you discuss it, I'll prepare for the battle. The terrain will be to our advantage."

Horacio turns inward to Tahlion:You've been awfully silent. No attempts to use me? No comments on what I set out?

2007-09-09, 05:03 AM
Terry "reclines" in the air, tapping his chin with his hand.

"I think you might have something with the infiltration of the church. Enough questions to be concerning.

"Your first theory--unlikely, yes. But we should prepare for it. What happens if that goes down? This is going to be a hard question, but who do we side with?

As for the second...Well, I personally am beginning to think the 'wearers are with the folks downstairs, but..."
Terry frowns.

"I would be the unlucky sonofabitch to get myself into a row with Gaudemus' son, where if I win, I'm dead, and if I lose, I'm dead. Great."

He sounds a bit ruffled, but he's grinning a little.

"I'll go see Snake-Eyes. I need to make sure me and Slayer are gonna be able to keep things civil first. Now, ****ing over an old stodgy bastard to save the world? That, I like."

He looks over at Firethena.

"Yeah, I think we need to be able to look at everything and decide on what we can do and what we can't. Some have to outweigh others. Something tells me the happy ending died with Aerin."

Lastly, Terry casts a glance at Slayer.
I assume we can still communicate like this in some form or other, seeing as back home I'm still holding you. Unless you're slapping everyone around while we're blissed out. ...heh.

Anyway, what's eating you? Something about this whole thing? Or is Horacio's theory starting to sound a bit too plausible? I don't know what happens when ancient runeblades meet immortal evils, but I bet it can't be comfortable for any parties involved.

...more importantly, why the hell were you sick?

2007-09-09, 05:29 AM

"The Church is very concerning. I don't mind a little palm-greasing myself, but aberration corruption is bad news for everyone.

"If an ambush goes down? My gut says Gaudemus's forces. Ambushing their own negotiations is so stupid, only someone intent on ensuring war would do it. A Duel-Paranoid hedge may be our best bet if we can trust Kara. Tell her we might drag an ambush with us and prepare for it.

"Perhaps; perhaps not. If I've learned anything, it's that evil fights evil. The infernal legions are extraplanar; the skinwearers don't appear to be. The answer might be in Gaudamus's notes, or some cultists' notes if we're lucky enough to find them."

Horacio is silent as Terry talks about outweighing.

"Perhaps it did. But you can still salvage the pieces after a disaster. Gaudemus hasn't lost everything yet. Now, I can't see any way yet of stopping this without Gaudemus's help. And the only way we'll get that is by helping him in return.

I believe we can save something from this. I'm not throwing Gaudemus to the wolves yet."

2007-09-09, 05:35 AM
Time. Place. C'mon.

2007-09-09, 05:36 AM
"No, no, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to be leaving Gaudemus out in the cold. Not if I can help it. I don't think any of us could sleep at night if we abandoned doing what we can for him."
He fans his mental wings.
"I hate to say it, but I think if the ambush happened I'd have to side with Gaudemus, too. Hate to say it because that puts Dae in a hell of a position."

2007-09-09, 05:55 AM
(OOC: Whamme, that comment IC or OOC?)

"Dae? Not really, I'd say. What sort of law-abiding Church would set up negotations just to backstab the other side?"

2007-09-09, 06:36 AM

The wizard nods at Horacio's theories.

Well, I see a few errors in logic in your musings, but there are some sound conclusions as well, Horacio. Well done.

First, I am forced to admit the possibility that the possession of Percival was a ruse to throw attention away from the possibility of deeper corruption within the church - but it also serves to put them on high alert, and to begin systematic screening. Not something I'd want, if I were planning a conspiracy from within the ranks. Nonetheless, as you say, all possibilities must be investigated. I can certainly do what I can to investigate, but the Bastion's magical defenses are formidable under normal circumstances. With the dual threats of the the tentacled horrors and Gaudamus - I'm not optimistic.

You mention that this, er, Snake Eyes is a leader in the fight against the illithid. Is it not also possible, therefore in an "enemy of my enemy" way, that she is an agent of the tentacles, who seem to be working in opposition to Devourer and his group? I would urge you to be just as careful in what you divulge to her as I will be in communications with the church. A suitable precaution, yes? And if my mere presence is likely to be so unsettling to her, it might be best if I didn't accompany you on that visit. Goodness knows, deciphering the cube could take days of my time on its own.

My confusion surrounding Gaudamus' inability to deal with Gareth's illness is significant. I understand that his own talents are arcane in nature, but even my own humble skills permit me to raise the dead. As witnessed by his use of Kinslayer to attempt to save Aeryn, this is not a man who shrinks from doing what is necessary, even if it's unpalatable in the extreme. If Gareth is ill , Gaudamus could simply have killed him and bring him back, free of any taint.

But I am still least certain about Gaudamus' reason for this invasion. If what he seeks to eradicate is indeed the tentacled horrors, taking control of key members of the church, how much easier would it be for him to come with a small force to take care of them himself. Or, better yet, simply send word through an intermediary - Firethena, for example - and let the city deal with it. No, Occam's razor would apply. I think it is more reasonable to assume that his goal is what it seems to be - the destruction or subjugation of Atalya. And to be ready to deal with him on those terms, until we have any evidence to the contrary.

Terry, I understand the strength of your fellow-feeling for Gaudamus, perhaps strengthened by your connection with Kinslayer, but he does seem to be threatening the lives of thousands of people. I do not judge, but seek information. I'd be curious to better understand your reason for siding with Gaudamus in a fight against the city.

And as for robbing the, er, crotchety old bastard...well, if it works, we might well have saved the city from invasion, and I suspect that officials might be induced to offer him fair compensation. And if it doesn't, he'll be just as dead as the rest of us, and a few paintings here or there won't matter much. But yes, I might be able to convince my uncle to loosen the purse strings a bit. My haggling skills are a bit rusty, but they might be up to the task.

He falls silent. Considers additional thoughts, and then shrugs.

I'm sorry. There's so much that's building conjecture on conjecture here. I agree with Firethena - if we can turn Gaudamus first, we remove the most immediate danger from the situation. Without his actions, it's entirely likely that the skin-wearers are left without a linchpin to their plans, and we have more time to find and deal with them.

2007-09-09, 06:49 AM
"Not against the city, you understand, but if the church does ambush him out of the blue."
Terry shakes his head.
"City's got to come first if it comes to that, but if we get played as bait and there's an attack during negotiations..."

2007-09-09, 01:25 PM
First, I am forced to admit the possibility that the possession of Percival was a ruse to throw attention away from the possibility of deeper corruption within the church...

"Systematic screening is only as good as the screeners. We have a saying: who watches the watchers? If the skinwearers initiated this, I'm sure they have their own people safely hidden from the Church's faithful eyes. At worst, they've infiltrated key positions to frame & remove anyone in the Church they deem a threat to their cult.

"And when I requested your aid investigating the Church, I meant your familiarity with it, not your magical prowess. You know more about it than any of us, and you have a few friends within the Church... right?"

You mention that this, er, Snake Eyes is a leader in the fight against the illithid. Is it not also possible, therefore in an "enemy of my enemy" way, that she is an agent of the tentacles...

"And yes, of course Snake Eyes could be an agent of the tentacles. Anyone could be. There are a few problems with that, though. First, she despises aberrations of any kind, not just the flayers. It could be a ruse to cover up her service to the skinners, but I doubt it. Second, she is paranoid. You don't survive flayers for years by being lax with safety measures. Flayers enjoy infesting people as well, as my... recent situation has shown. She'd have safeguards against it. Her guards could be infested, though; I'd suggest a few light precautions against that.

"As for your presence... it's not so much unsettling for her as it is dangerous for you. Hell, she'd probably enjoy toying with a Cudgeler forced to talk with her. You can sit out if you wish to, but you are one of our experts when it comes to this. A question you'd realize talking to her could be the break we need."

My confusion surrounding Gaudamus' inability to deal with Gareth's illness is significant. I understand that his own talents are arcane in nature, but even my own humble skills permit me to raise the dead...

"Gareth... well, remember he could've raised Aerin as well. He didn't or couldn't. Why? Do these tentacles have some side effect that rips a soul apart if their host dies? Kumoru already said he was sent 'somewhere filled with those tentacled monstrosities' when his soulsucking got botched. If there's some connection between those monsters and Kinslayer's powers, Gaudemus might not be able to raise his son if he dies while infected. Another question we need an answer for.

"Or Gaudemus might be the one responsible for Gareth's illness, perhaps a step in turning him into an immortal? But if he was doing that, why wouldn't he tell Kara? She was too nervous about his sickness for me to believe it's intentional."

But I am still least certain about Gaudamus' reason for this invasion. If what he seeks to eradicate is indeed the tentacled horrors, taking control of key members of the church, how much easier would it be for him to come with a small force to take care of them himself...

"And... strike force? Intermediary? I don't think you quite grasp just how little Gaudemus trusts the Church, or how much influence it has over this town. If he asked Firethena to tell the city, the city would alert the 'Church' and all you'd get is one dead intermediary. And a strike force...

"Well, Tahlion & I have discussed the possibility the Church is containing some great evil related to the tentacles. As Tahlion said, anything the Church didn't kill outright would have to be extremely powerful. If that is true, a strike force might not cut it...

"Gaudemus must have some motivation for attacking Atalya besides bloodshed, glory, and looting. If it was truly as simple as it appears to be... well, then our mission would be an exercise in futility, wouldn't it? What would we do? Go up to him and say, 'We don't have the might to turn you back, but we do have this sword you despise? Go away or we'll wave it at you?'"

A passing breeze sounds like Horacio sighing.

"Unless you can think of a way to turn away an angry demi-deity intent on bloodshed, I'd suggest we focus on the more uncommon scenarios we do stand a chance of stopping.

"By the Gods, we really do need to contact Kara. Even if she lies about their motivations for attacking, it'll shed more light on it than the Church's intel."

Terry, I understand the strength of your fellow-feeling for Gaudamus, perhaps strengthened by your connection with Kinslayer, but he does seem to be threatening the lives of thousands of people. I do not judge, but seek information. I'd be curious to better understand your reason for siding with Gaudamus in a fight against the city.

"We would be fighting with Gaudemus, but not against the city. It's the oldest trick in the book, Dae. Two parties negotiate; a third party attacks it disguised as one of the sides. I don't think there's any chance the Church would be stupid enough to ambush it. I do think there's a chance cultists could ambush it disguised as the Church."

And as for robbing the, er, crotchety old bastard...well, if it works, we might well have saved the city from invasion, and I suspect that officials might be induced to offer him fair compensation. And if it doesn't, he'll be just as dead as the rest of us, and a few paintings here or there won't matter much. But yes, I might be able to convince my uncle to loosen the purse strings a bit. My haggling skills are a bit rusty, but they might be up to the task.

"Well, you do have 25,000 of your own gold. And we could contribute a bit as well. Just be... subtle about your reasons. Starting a personal collection, perhaps. My main concern is that a major heist of Aerin's works, or even someone related to this investigation buying a lot of them, might tip off the skinwearers that we're trying an alternative approach to this.

"As they say, the best thefts are the ones the victims never realize."

I'm sorry. There's so much that's building conjecture on conjecture here. I agree with Firethena - if we can turn Gaudamus first, we remove the most immediate danger from the situation. Without his actions, it's entirely likely that the skin-wearers are left without a linchpin to their plans, and we have more time to find and deal with them.

"True. However, we need more knowledge of the skinwearers to figure out exactly what their plan with Gaudemus is, how to sabotage it, and where their allegiance lies. The time before we meet Gaudemus might be all we have before hell breaks loose; let's not strike too early.

"We should try contacting Kara tonight. I should have the meeting with Snake Eyes set up within a day or two. We should be able to get those out of the way, follow up on those other leads, and upgrade our equipment in 4 days. Then it's on to meet Gaudemus...

"We can use the Hidden Temple as a base of operations while we're here; it's the safest & most secure lodgings I know of. We'll still be keeping watches, though; the dangers we face can walk through walls."

Horacio sinks back into thought.

To Vera:Vera, I'm concerned about leaving Firethena... or you... alone while we're taking care of this. If anyone's gonna stop us, they'll target you first. You mind keeping her company here until we're done with this? The two of you together should be able to handle anything they toss at you.

2007-09-09, 08:45 PM
Kinslayer gives Horacio (ot the disembodied cloak thingy that represents him) the glaring of a lifetime. Whilst dripping. He spares Terry a glance. You can't tell, can you? His mind -reeks-. Selfless romantic sentimentality... oh, sure, he hides it well, the cynicism is thick enough to cut with a knife... it's the only way I can stand it... but being this close to a soul so nearly pure in intent... it makes my stomach turn.

Tahlion muses, outwardly silent. I'm honestly a little overhwelmed. Your mind is... strange. Soothing, but... there are little pinpricks of cold... it's like... She shakes her head just a little. It's all very strange to me. And I don't really feel like I can contribute, I barely knew Gaudemus, and everything that's going on... it's out of the depth of a simple length of steel like me.

Kumoru frowns hugely at the speculation.

"You can raise the dead Daewell? I am impressed, because it's a feat my brother never managed. His magical power was focused on the arts of combat, and though he had knowledge and experience of many schools, he was master of only a few. Gaudemus as I knew him could not resurrect a mortal to life. His powers may have increased since then, but... there's really no telling for sure."

Vera raises an eyebrow at Horacio. Oh sure, Fire's an interesting gal, I'll keep an eye on her. ...but are you sure you want me to? The evil, evil smile is only implied, but no less present.

2007-09-09, 08:49 PM
Terry can't help but grin as he replies to Kinslayer.
Hoo boy, then you're probably not gonna like most of my mind.

2007-09-09, 10:19 PM

The wizard smiled. This was becoming engaging.

"Systematic screening is only as good as the screeners. We have a saying: who watches the watchers? If the skinwearers initiated this, I'm sure they have their own people safely hidden from the Church's faithful eyes. At worst, they've infiltrated key positions to frame & remove anyone in the Church they deem a threat to their cult.

"And when I requested your aid investigating the Church, I meant your familiarity with it, not your magical prowess. You know more about it than any of us, and you have a few friends within the Church... right?"

Fair enough, except that Donovan, who you imply by mentioning that he was out of spells is a strong candidate for being a part of an infiltration by the horrors, is also the one who put us onto this track, and has requested our work against the cult.

By the same logic, I am the best possible candidate for infection, since I am both a member of the church and assigned by them to the task of rooting out possible cult infections. However, I may assume that, even were I somehow unaware of my own participation in the cult, Miss Vera here would have informed us of any, er, dual nature.

The colour drains a bit from the slender mage's face, as the gravity of what they were facing sank in, yet again.

But certainly, I can speak with others inside the church, quietly and without it seeming like an investigation. Sister Theabald may be as ancient as the sun, but her mind is still clear, and a sharper-eyed observer of human nature you'd not want to meet. Perhaps, if Miss Vera is willing, there might be some way for the rest of you to be present in MY mind for the conversation, and to feed questions through me, but otherwise it might best be done quietly and one-on-one.

"And yes, of course Snake Eyes could be an agent of the tentacles. Anyone could be. There are a few problems with that, though. First, she despises aberrations of any kind, not just the flayers. It could be a ruse to cover up her service to the skinners, but I doubt it. Second, she is paranoid. You don't survive flayers for years by being lax with safety measures. Flayers enjoy infesting people as well, as my... recent situation has shown. She'd have safeguards against it. Her guards could be infested, though; I'd suggest a few light precautions against that.

"As for your presence... it's not so much unsettling for her as it is dangerous for you. Hell, she'd probably enjoy toying with a Cudgeler forced to talk with her. You can sit out if you wish to, but you are one of our experts when it comes to this. A question you'd realize talking to her could be the break we need."

Daewell smiles again.

I believe that if I've been able to countenance a week of talk of "cludgelers" from you and Terry, I shall find a way to keep emotions in check with Snake Eyes. And a being who is so carefully shielded from mind scans by such as the the illithid would be an ideal agent for the tentacled ones. All I'm asking is that we observe the same kind of caution with her as we are with others.

"Gareth... well, remember he could've raised Aerin as well. He didn't or couldn't. Why? Do these tentacles have some side effect that rips a soul apart if their host dies? Kumoru already said he was sent 'somewhere filled with those tentacled monstrosities' when his soulsucking got botched. If there's some connection between those monsters and Kinslayer's powers, Gaudemus might not be able to raise his son if he dies while infected. Another question we need an answer for.

"Or Gaudemus might be the one responsible for Gareth's illness, perhaps a step in turning him into an immortal? But if he was doing that, why wouldn't he tell Kara? She was too nervous about his sickness for me to believe it's intentional."

Kara's concern did seem genuine. And if the tentacled ones are able to take soul as well as body, that would indeed put a father in a difficult position. It's also possible that Gareth could then be saved by more direct action on our part. If we're able to find an arcane means to separate a symbiote from its host, then it may be much easier to bring Gaudamus on side.

"Gaudemus must have some motivation for attacking Atalya besides bloodshed, glory, and looting. If it was truly as simple as it appears to be... well, then our mission would be an exercise in futility, wouldn't it? What would we do? Go up to him and say, 'We don't have the might to turn you back, but we do have this sword you despise? Go away or we'll wave it at you?'"

I hardly think Gaudamus a thug, Horacio. I was suggesting that his goal seemed to be the destruction of Atalya, and the church, rather than a small group within it. As you've pointed out, he may have a grudge against the church, but he's a smart man. I'd say that revenge against the city that exiled him, or coercion by an outside force like the tentacles, seem like more probable reasons to raise an army than an effort to take out a few infected church officials.

"Unless you can think of a way to turn away an angry demi-deity intent on bloodshed, I'd suggest we focus on the more uncommon scenarios we do stand a chance of stopping.

Sadly, Horacio, that is exactly what we are preparing to do. We may make educated guesses as to the reasons for the bloodshed, but the intent to invade seems to be beyond dispute.

"True. However, we need more knowledge of the skinwearers to figure out exactly what their plan with Gaudemus is, how to sabotage it, and where their allegiance lies. The time before we meet Gaudemus might be all we have before hell breaks loose; let's not strike too early.

"We should try contacting Kara tonight. I should have the meeting with Snake Eyes set up within a day or two. We should be able to get those out of the way, follow up on those other leads, and upgrade our equipment in 4 days. Then it's on to meet Gaudemus...

Daewell frowned.

Might it not be better to wait in contacting Kara until we have a better hand of cards, as you might say? My assumption would be that the best way to get information from her will be to have some of our own, and we seem tall on conjecture and short on facts at the moment. I'd beg for a day to do some research, and have some quiet chats around the Bastion, before we go to her. This is a conversation we can't afford to botch, because we may not get a second chance if it goes badly. For that matter, we might not get a second chance if it goes well.

2007-09-09, 10:25 PM

Horacio the cloak, for a split second, gets riled up about something:A simple length of steel?! *feels like Horacio slaps her across the back of her head* That better be the last time I hear you talk about yourself like that! You are a Stormbringer! An ancient creature given sword form! By the gods, if a common cutpurse like me can handle this, then you have no excuse. So quit whining, pull up your bootstraps, and think. Pick at my theories and my mind and make them your own!

I swear, I hear you say that again, I will use you as a toothpick until you show yourself some respect.

Horacio contracts for a moment, then relaxes.

Now, think of what you want to do. Start simple at first. Give me the idea and I'll help you make it. Remember, you're not doing this alone. Don't be shy.

Horacio pokes her in the back and chuckles softly.
To Vera:"Well, the Devourer's expressed interest in possessing her again, so- oh, like that. Well, we've already heard her embarassing stories, so it's my turn. Just don't go overboard, or I'll tell her about some of the dreams[/I] you were projecting...
Horacio: "Firethena, would you mind if you stayed with Vera until this whole mess is over? The two of you should make quite a team, and... well, after the last few days, I really don't want to leave you alone anymore."

2007-09-09, 10:26 PM
Terry's smiling, despite the somber talk.
"Hey, I haven't grilled you with the cudgeler talk too hard, have I? No more than we got for being such sneaky guys."

2007-09-10, 06:29 AM
"I'll concur with my mild surprise at Daewell's ability to raise the dead... it's rare to meet an arcanist who can, as far as I'm aware...

Sorry, I seem to have become sidetracked.

Where were we... oh, yes. About to slice a mindworm into little bits?"

2007-09-10, 11:53 AM
Fair enough, except that Donovan, who you imply by mentioning that he was out of spells is a strong candidate for being a part of an infiltration by the horrors, is also the one who put us onto this track, and has requested our work against the cult.

By the same logic, I am the best possible candidate for infection, since I am both a member of the church and assigned by them to the task of rooting out possible cult infections. However, I may assume that, even were I somehow unaware of my own participation in the cult, Miss Vera here would have informed us of any, er, dual nature.

"Being out of spells and coming up short on the reward promised. One thing short of not being a coincidence.

"And he has not requested we work against the cult. He has requested we work against Gaudemus, which may advance the cult's plans. The infected could acknowledge the cult's a problem while still deflecting any investigation into it, not just by saying no but by agreeing to help but sabotaging any efforts into it. How much do you want to bet the fire that destroyed the records of Aerin's death was deliberate?

"And no, Daewell, you aren't the best candidate for infection. None of us are. During infiltration, you do not involve your agents with actions. You keep them working behind the scenes to deflect suspicion if anything goes wrong. You enthrall the mission giver, not the takers."

I believe that if I've been able to countenance a week of talk of "cludgelers" from you and Terry, I shall find a way to keep emotions in check with Snake Eyes. And a being who is so carefully shielded from mind scans by such as the the illithid would be an ideal agent for the tentacled ones. All I'm asking is that we observe the same kind of caution with her as we are with others.

"Granted. All we need to ask her about is the skinwearers & cult anyway, although I plan on warning her about the potential invasion as well. It would give her time to rally the shadows, and I'd like to see if she's gotten the same information as the Church."

Kara's concern did seem genuine. And if the tentacled ones are able to take soul as well as body, that would indeed put a father in a difficult position. It's also possible that Gareth could then be saved by more direct action on our part. If we're able to find an arcane means to separate a symbiote from its host, then it may be much easier to bring Gaudamus on side.

"If it was just arcane, Gaudemus would've already found it. No, if there's a way to separate it, we'd have to be more creative, perhaps a combination of fields. Psionic channeling of divine holy energy, for example."

I hardly think Gaudamus a thug, Horacio. I was suggesting that his goal seemed to be the destruction of Atalya, and the church, rather than a small group within it. As you've pointed out, he may have a grudge against the church, but he's a smart man. I'd say that revenge against the city that exiled him, or coercion by an outside force like the tentacles, seem like more probable reasons to raise an army than an effort to take out a few infected church officials.

"I'm not just talking a few, Daewell. You're underestimating the threat they might contain. There could be monsters buried that require armies to defeat, or they might be buried so deep he has to crack the Church open like a nut to reach them. And revenge...

"I don't think it's revenge for exile. The timing of Gareth's sickness is too coincidental. Coercion, maybe..."

Sadly, Horacio, that is exactly what we are preparing to do. We may make educated guesses as to the reasons for the bloodshed, but the intent to invade seems to be beyond dispute.

"Daewell, I meant invade for the sole purpose of spilling the blood of Atalya. I don't think Gaudemus intends to do that, just as he didn't intend to blow up 'Firethena' along with that assassin. She just got in the way.

"It's just that this time, the entire damned city is in the way."

Might it not be better to wait in contacting Kara until we have a better hand of cards, as you might say? My assumption would be that the best way to get information from her will be to have some of our own, and we seem tall on conjecture and short on facts at the moment. I'd beg for a day to do some research, and have some quiet chats around the Bastion, before we go to her. This is a conversation we can't afford to botch, because we may not get a second chance if it goes badly. For that matter, we might not get a second chance if it goes well.

"Yes... we will need time to follow up on her information, though. 1-2 days of research, contact her, 1-2 days of follow-up.

"We should also consider switching to a twilight schedule, sleeping from 2 to 10 in the morning instead of at night like usual. It sounds like a lot of sh*t will go down once the sun sets; if the skinwearers or Gareth do try to make their move then, I'd rather be alert and ready for them."

2007-09-10, 03:13 PM

Daewell shrugs, admiring the halfling's ability to think ahead.

I believe that I would enjoying playing chess with you sometime, sir. When all this is well behind us, and there's a warm fire beside.

I think we are now down to parsing the finest of details, and there's a good chance that...yes, I believe that Vodette's eyes just glazed over, even in this idealized form. Dai is right - we should return our energies to the worm.

MS, I'm assuming that a check of Spellcraft (1d20+26=42) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1255189) can be said to indicate that I have some understanding of this kind of mental projection, or is there no magic/psionic transparency in this world?

On that basis, I now make a guess as to how this might work:

Horacio, I believe that if you, er, manifest a door of some kind for us, you may be able to subconsciously guide us to the worm.

2007-09-10, 05:48 PM

"Don't like chess. I could never remember how the little horse-shaped ones moved. My preferred game is cards with lots of alcohol... for everyone else.

And you're standing on the doors, Daewell, although I'd rather call them windows. I like windows. There's a lot more of them and people never expect you to come in through one."

2007-09-10, 09:08 PM
Firethena gives Horaciocloak a look of infinite relief. "Oh good gods yes, I don't fancy the idea of being left alone after all of this ever. Brainworms and skinweareres and infernal legions... gah! And you asked me why I never go out adventuring. This is why!"

Kumoru is scratching his head. "I've got one question for you, Horacio. You keep saying Donovan shortchanged you... I don't know what your original agreement was, but twenty something thousand in platinum is a damn good deal where I come from, exactly how much did he agree to pay you?"

Tahlion chuckles to herself and glances down at the cloak. You give me a lot of credit, Horacio, but I've spent most of my many years as a simple weapon, bumping around on one or another hero's hip and waiting to be drawn, or lying on a shelf gathering dust. Even when I have had control of my own faculties, I've never been much more than a warrior. Thinking like a paranoid rogue isn't really my forte. And you wouldn't want to hear what I had to say anyway.

Kinslayer is still doubled over as if in pain, but abruptly he raises his head, drawing in deep, snuffling breaths as though tasting the air. His metal features twist into a wide, demonic smile.

It's here.

A shadow falls over the party from above as a great winged shape descends towards them.

2007-09-10, 09:27 PM

"Well, after spending a week with Vera, you may want to be left alone again. Trust me, I have the scars to prove it.

"For everything, Kumoru? A hundred thousand gold pieces a head. That's what Callista told me, and that's what was posted on the advertisement fliers."

(OOC: I'm grabbing all the way back to the OOC application.)

To Tahlion:"Thinking like a wizard isn't my forte, either, but I still asked for Daewell's opinion. Don't shortchange yourself; I'm not going to be offended. What did you have to sa-oh crap."
Horacloak shudders.

"Great, a mindwyrm. Gods, I hate puns."

The webs quickly settle lower among the buildings as the corners of the buildings around them begin to grow spikes.

Horacio is leaving the fighting to Tahlion; he'll use his control of the mindscape to hinder the dragon and provide cover & advantageous ground to his allies, taking care to protect Vera, Tahlion, and Firethena. (Also providing the spider/snake movement/dodge bonuses I listed earlier, if needed.)

2007-09-11, 01:28 AM
Terry's enjoying the talk--but looks up at the approaching "wyrm."
Closing his eyes, he puts a hand to an imaginary sheathe at his hip and "draws" an idealized "perfect" blade into existence.
(Can I do that, or...? Either way, it'd be like a courtblade, but more like a greatsword that's very easy to swing.)

2007-09-11, 10:34 AM

The wizard blanches, but does not yet move from the floor. The coins leap from his pocket and whirl about him in a blur.

You are as fast as thought in this world, remember, and may your thoughts be very swift indeed. Maybe I can give us time to prepare.

Daewell glances at Horacio's web of information, and with an apologetic shrug, gestures at it. A tunnel of skeins soars up from the web, forming a larger, thicker barrier around the wyrm, and between it and the people on the ground. The small one-sided blade in Daewell's hand shrinks and becomes a kind of slender boning knife.

Assuming that we're basing what we can do in here loosely based on what we know about, or are capable of, outside: Casting a quickened Shield Spell, and creating a web, centred just below the shadowy wyrm's position (assuming that the mind-ceiling is low enough to have that not also engulf us - if it would, then I'll simply Haste everyone instead.

If it's instead based on what we've learned about, and can imagine...Daewell would instead form an extra-large Forcecage around the wyrm.

2007-09-11, 02:19 PM
The sinuous form of the mindwyrm hovers over/within Daewell's barrier, cackling like thunder as it grazes razor claws across the mass of webs, great wings filling the air with rippling black leather. Gleaming purple eyes fix the minds below with unnatural hunger, and a long, dropping tongue drags itself over gleaming obsidian teeth.

Oh, yay, you pissed it off. Nice going boy wizard.

2007-09-11, 03:55 PM

"Good idea, Daewell, but you let it off too early. Let him attack first, let him think he has the advantage, then give him hell."

The buildings around the group and the wyrm slowly rise into the air, surrounding them, as more webs begin to crisscross between them.

"This is my mind. We will not lose here..."

(Readying an action to use the terrain to protect/give an advantage to whoever the wyrm attacks.)

2007-09-11, 05:11 PM

Daewell glances incredulously at the cloak.

I don't believe that there's any sense from the creature that it feels particularly disadvantaged. If he had attacked, I wouldn't have been able to do that without snaring some of us as well.

He is already gesturing again, preparing another spell.

2007-09-12, 10:40 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Figures it would show up early.

He tightly gripped the haft of...Wait a sec! What is this? He looked down to see a long pole with an actuated clamp at the far end, strikingly similar to the one he used as a service officer for Magical Beast Control & Containment. MBCC would never spring for mithril, though--or whatever this silvery metal is. Mithril doesn't have those cloudy streaks.

Does the head bulge from the neck, like a dragon or a viper? Or is it smooth and bullet-shaped, like a coral snake?
"So do we need to kill it, or just lop pieces off? Or is it like lycanthropy; and we're, uh, supposed to let it bite us?"

2007-09-12, 04:59 PM
Grinning Dai-abolic Mask:

"Please tell me 'cut it into ribbons'"

Edited for Wordplay

2007-09-12, 07:01 PM

Well, I don't think we WANT it dead, but we do want bits of it. Who knows if slicing it up in this realm would kill it, but perhaps best not to take that chance.

2007-09-13, 08:04 AM
Terry hefts his idealized blade--long, slender, more a great curving silver arc than a weapon. Spinning it across and to his side he flares his great wings as I overblow this description magnificently and gazes up towards the worm.
"I'll try and keep it off you all."
(And I'm reading an action to do just that. As soon as it lunges for someone Terry's going to intercept it at crazy unsafe flight speeds. If it goes for him he'll meet its charge.)

2007-09-13, 11:03 PM
The mindwyrm is decidedly serpentine in body shape, but it does have a slight bulge of skull and the suggestion of a torso along its body. It begins to tear at Daewell's shield, taking its time, but making its way through without a great deal of trouble.

It works however we want it to work. Cut it open, get a strip of something likely looking and... well, incorporate it into yourself as best you can. I don't know how easy it'll be to cut it up, though... oh hell, here it comes.

With a final shredding of mindthreads the wyrm gets its head through and spews a blast of burning venom at the group.

(Tokugal, you have my permission to do whatever enters into your head at this point. :D)

2007-09-14, 12:14 AM

"Oh bloody-"

One side of Horaciocloak flaps up. One of the building shadows crossing the roof they're on rips off the surface and flies into the path of the venom spray to catch it.

(Plan is to catch the venom with the shadow, where it'll disappear harmlessly into the infinite darkness.)

2007-09-14, 10:05 AM
Tokugal Ardolin

Here goes...

Tokugal threw his arms upward, and the rest of his body followed--but his feet remained fixed on the ground. Up, up, up he grew, his body expanding as it stretched. As he grew, the stuff of his mental being thinned, becoming cloudy and then transparent. Before he grew large enough to be a hazard to his friends, he pulled his feet from the ground and tucked them under his hovering form.

He was for all intents and purposes invisible when he stopped the enlargement process. The mindwyrm's just an earthworm now. Okay, maybe not. Just looks like a large snake, at least.

"I'm gonna try to grab the thing around the neck," he boomed from above. "When I do, you should have a brief opportunity to do whatever you need to do. I don't know how it will react, though."

2007-09-14, 10:29 AM

Right! I'll see if I can slize off a few bits.

The wizard gestures, and a dozen of the coins whirling around him elongate, getting very thin at the edges, until they become slender golden disks, about the size of a plate. With a second gesture, he sends them hurtling up, around the cloak, towards the back of the creature, away from where he thinks Tokugal is grabbing it. Aiming for the tail of the worm, the spinning coin-discs will cut into it, trying to drop small bits of the worm downwards.

2007-09-14, 11:18 AM
Terry takes to the wing amongst the chaos--rolling and diving around Dae's razor-coins, he soars like he's done it his whole life. Bringing his titanic crescent blade around, he wheels it forward, in a dramatic slash. Momentum carries him past and he wings over, diving back to take another swing.

2007-09-14, 11:41 AM

Vodette's eyes snap into focus, the haze that had been covering them disappearing. She has a triumphant smile on her face. Finally! They were back in an area that Vodette felt comfortable in. She glanced around at the way her surroundings were being manipulated. She definitely wasn't used to it, but it added another layer of fun to the whole ordeal.

Noticing that Terry had taken to the sky to meet the mindwyrm, Vodette gripped her spike and zoomed after him with alarming speed. She wasn't about to let him have all the fun. She darts in and out of the razer sharp coins and flicks the point of her spike at the flesh of the mindwyrm trying to cleave a piece of something from it.

Hopefully this works. She mutters.

2007-09-14, 12:49 PM

Horaciocloak, seeing his teammates take to the air, gestures again, splitting the venom-catching shadow into a flock of giant ravens that fly towards the wyrm, distracting it and providing more cover for the others.

He thinks to Tahlion:Well, you're the swordswoman here. How about we hit it where it least expects us?

Horaciocloak tugs towards a nearby shadow.

We can use this to drop out of one of the ravens right onto the back of the beastie.

(Turning the shadow into a doorway to one of the shadow ravens above the wyrm. If we drop out of there, guiding Tahlion through the motions for a sneak attack on the back of the thing using the others' flanking.)

2007-09-14, 08:38 PM
The venom spray is halted by Horacio's shadow shield, and Tokugal manages to get a grip on the wyrm. The beast lets out a horrific scream and writhes in said grip, and Tokugal discovers that his whole invisibility idea has one minor flaw- in the process of spreading his mass out to the point where it is invisible, it has also become nearly intangible. The wyrm sloshes about in the flaming elf like a finger stirring a jar of pudding. It's movements are slowed, but it'll take some effort to get a really good grip.

Tahlion's eyes flash bright white as she stares up at the creature. Hold on Horacio... I don't think this is going to work... we're not dealing with any ordinary dragon here...

Daewell, Terry, and Vodette strike the beast with precision- their weapons scrape over the monster's scales with a noise like razors on a chalkboard, but they don't penetrate. The wyrm screams in frustration, but can't escape the metaphysical net that is Tokugal.

"It's defenses are powerful, but it has to have a weak spot. Everything does. But don't look at it like a normal dragon- it won't be the eyes, and the mouth is suicide. It's going to be the last place we'd expect."

2007-09-14, 08:51 PM

"The last place we expect? Hmmm..."

Horacio thinks a moment as he summons an entanglement of webs to slow down the wyrm's thrashing.

"Well, it's a mental projection, so what if the strength of its body parts are related to the abilities we attribute to those parts? It's an animalistic creature, so the eyes for detection and the mouth for hunger could be strong. What if we target something related to an ability or thought that's alien to it, and thus weaker to our point of view?"

Horacio looks across the mindwyrm for any weaknesses as he thinks, asking Tahlion to move to a better position if he needs it.

Spot Weaknesses Check: 34
Spot on Mindwyrm (1d20+17=34) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1266297)

2007-09-15, 08:44 PM

Setting his blades to attack on their own volition, Daewell reaches into his own years of training to look beyond the dragon's apparent form, to what it truly is. Perhaps, in its true manifestation, there would be an answer.

Imagining the equivalent to true seeing - reaching beyond the seeming form of things, to their reality within this brain.

2007-09-15, 08:57 PM
"I suppose this plan is only fair... turnabout and all that..."

Dai pulls off one of the masks at his side, one with a protudruding and spiky nose, and tosses it at the mindworm, aiming at the head region...

{Come on... eat it. Tasty little bit of me... come on. Eat the decoy... then that nasty little spiky nose will... hopefully... become sharp and stabby inside you.}

2007-09-15, 09:03 PM
Horacio notices very little that seems particularly useful. It is odd that the wyrm doesn't seem to be using its wings to fly- the appendages are simply flapping there in the mental wind without seeming to actively participate in locomotion- but that probably isn't significant.

Daewell sees dimensions of horror. Colors that have no name, angles that have no degree, a thousand terrors and a hundred disgusting ways to describe them. The Mindwyrm's innermost, purest form, is none other than a short, fat, greasy man, sitting at a table, huddled over the pieces of a game like chess but a thousand times more complicated, muttering to itself and clutching a filthy cloak protectively about itself, a paper crown upon its brow. Daewell can -see- the stench coming off of it, and it makes his eyes water.

2007-09-15, 09:13 PM

Horaciocloak ruffles as he continues to run interference for the others, moving the webs, buildings, and shadows as necessary to keep the wyrm distracted and his companions safe.

To Tahlion:Gurgh, I can't see anything useful. The wings, though; it must be psychically levitating itself. Too bad we can't just step through a shadow to warp inside it and stab its brain out from there.

...Wait, do you think that could work, or would it be even more dangerous inside it?

2007-09-15, 09:47 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

Chagrined, Tokugal called out to the others, "I got it...uh, I've slowed it down a bit. Gee, that was helpful." The writhing wyrm felt like he had eaten a live eel.

If I do anything to enclose it, it'll tear me apart from the inside; so no way am I going solid while it's in my gut.

2007-09-17, 09:36 AM

That's good, Tokugal - you're limiting it's movements! Keeping it with us.

What a fool I was. So wrapped up in what this thing SEEMS to be that I take metaphor for reality. Well, time to take it's own metaphor back to itself.

Focusing on one of his spinning coin-blades, Daewell changes the disc to a golden bag with clutching, searching teeth. Sweat popping from his brow as an expression of this mental effort, he pushes the bag out of this layer of the reality of Horacio's mind, into the world of the greasy little man. Once there, the bag screams, a ululating, sweeping squeal, and vomits out a stream of playing pieces identical to those on the board, drowning the game with confusion.

2007-09-17, 03:16 PM

Vodette lets out a grunt of frustration when her spike skidds off the beasts hide. Not about to abandon the attack, she swoops back down and gives one more stab at the hide. Finding the same result, she lets out an anguished cry.

She mentally pleads with her comrads for help.

I don't know what to do. I can't harm it! How can we beat something that cannot be hurt.

2007-09-17, 03:27 PM

It can be hurt. Think of a different angle to attack it from! You're not a thick-headed lunk wielding a big sword, this is your type of fight. Get creative!

2007-09-17, 08:49 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

With little else to do beyond allow the eel to wriggle in his belly, Tokugal tried to supply relatively undistracted brainpower.

"A different angle? Like...above/below? Or like mental/physical? Hmm. Maybe we can beat the thing with...LOVE!"

He shrugged (even though nobody else could see it). "Anyone got a better idea?"

He didn't know the thing's name, so he made one up. Trying to think hard of sending an emotion to the creature, he shouted, "I love you, Charles! I love you! I love you, Charles Wallace!"

2007-09-17, 10:27 PM
The minwyrm begins to enthusiastically hump Tokugal's ephemeralness.

2007-09-17, 11:11 PM
(OOC: I'll respond once Tahlion does. That and I want to see Tokugal's reaction.)

2007-09-17, 11:17 PM
Terry grins--and then laughs hysterically.
"Oh--oh--oh gods, that's--I've heard of a mind****, but--oh god, sorry Tok', I'm comin' to help!"
Still giggling, Terry flies up and around to a more-or-less safe distance. From being swallowed whole, anyway.
(Going to try and capitalize on it being inhibited by Tokugal to get up close to the mouth, use my bigass mindblade to block its fangy death, giving the others a shot at it.)

2007-09-17, 11:49 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"Gah! The stains! That better come out! Poor choice of words..."

2007-09-18, 12:04 AM
Tahlion stares upwards with an expression of absolute horror.

... that's the worst thing I've ever seen!

Kinslayer and Vera have both absolutely lost it and are rolling on the ground and screaming with laughter like hyenas on coke.

2007-09-18, 12:18 AM

Horacio snickers a bit before focusing again.

"I've seen worse. Snap out of it!"

Horacio tries to concentrate, shifting Tokugal to the other side of the wyrm (still gripping it), replacing his old position with a mess of tangled webs that latch onto the mindwyrm and try to "embrace" it back, taking care to avoid entangling Terry in the mess.

To Tahlion:"I need some help here, Tahlion. Can you think of anything we can use against it? The best I can come up with is attacking it from the inside out... gah. Keep up the entangling while I try to think."

Horacio gives Tahlion as much control over the webbing as she can handle and tries to use his spare thoughtpower to step back, take another look, and figure out what he's missing.

2007-09-18, 11:28 AM

Juggling layers of reality like flaming machetes, Daewell is nonetheless startled enough by the image of Tokugal and the worm's brief and not entirely substantial mating to goggle briefly. He manages to get the words out:

This is just a representation. In essence, the worm is playing games with us, and it's chosen a game that we're familiar with. I'm trying to disrupt the game. Tokugal, you're doing a great job of distracting it. Remind me to never tell you what it really looks like.

And yes, a brilliant Wrinkle in Time moment!

MS, any luck in piercing the barrier between layers of reality?

2007-09-18, 12:24 PM
Daewell is probably somewhat surprised to see that the fat greasy kid -was- initially rather upset at the spoiling of his game, but that only lasted about an instant before he simply swept all the pieces off the board, and pulled out something that looks like a book. It seems to be full of images of beautiful women with very little on. And now he seems to be... oh my, that's not right...

Tahlion's eyes take on a bright white glow as she stretches out her hands, coaxing the webbing around the wyrm, which isn't easy with its wild gyrations. One of the webs wraps a little too tightly around the beast's wing, taking a nick out of it in the process. The wyrm continues to molest Tokugal as best it can.

2007-09-18, 12:34 PM
In the "real" world of Horacio's thoughts, Daewell shrikes and squeezes his eyes closed for a moment. When he re-opens them, they are threatening to tear up, but he blinks the moisture away, and concentrates.

The bag expands and swoops down on the fat guy, plucking the paper hat from his head and swallowing it. Darting upwards again, it surges back through metaphor and thought - into Daewell's hand...and he looks inside.

2007-09-18, 12:41 PM
Terry blinks and drifts back.
"Something we wouldn--oh sweet merciful gods, please don't tell me we're going to have to castrate this thing.'

2007-09-18, 01:35 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"I hope not. Of course, just a few second more of this and it might just decide to give us a piece of itself--no slicing involved."

"I hope I don't get pregnant."

2007-09-18, 01:39 PM

"A game, huh? I can do games..."

To Tahlion:Feel like being a bit evil? Follow my lead...

(OOC: If Tahlion agrees to follow Horacio's lead on this, the following happens:)

A clipboard and quill appears in Tahlion's hands as she floats up near the mindwyrm. She frowns as she checks off a number of items on it.

"Well, you've done well in the trials so far, Mr. Mindwyrm, but your habits appear to tend towards the brutish and, honestly, unnecessary. Now, a rogue must be well-rounded in all things, so why don't we try something a bit more... versatile?"

Horacio joins with Tahlion on concentrating on the webbing, helping her further enwrap the mindwyrm (especially its wings) in it.

"Now, this trial we call the Tangled Web scenario. You must not only extract yourself from the mess you've gotten yourself into, but-"

A bolt of lightning strikes a nearby building, reviving a group of frog/spider tauric hybrids that burst out of the ground. Electricity dances across their bodies as they slowly skitter across the webbings towards the wyrm, tongues lashing back & forth.

"-politely decline the advances of the slaadriders before they consummate your relationship by implanting the eggs of looooooove inside your various orifices. You can always try the physical route with them, but they pack quite a kick."

Tahlion chuckles, then calls out below.

"Headmistress Firethena! I don't think we're making it challenging enough on the new ward! You think you can reach inside that sick little mind of yours and pull out something distracting?"

(If any slices get taken out of the wyrm's wings, the webs grab ahold of them and transport them down to the others.)

2007-09-20, 12:00 PM

After almost wetting herself at Tokugal's molestation, Vodette zooms about searching for anything she can do.

So we're trying to get pieces of this thing by.....I won't do it. I don't want a piece of that inside me if will turn me into a raging pervert! You're not going to see me doing that to Tokugal. Nuh uh!

2007-09-20, 01:21 PM
"Well, it doesn't HAVE to be Tokugal. You could start molesting Dae or something." Terry grins and goes for another pass over the mindfu--worm, dragging his blade across its back as he goes.

2007-09-20, 01:35 PM

Horacio sends a strand of webbing to tap the ones attacking, then points to the beast's wings with it, as the other webbing strands continue to pull & tear at them.

2007-09-20, 02:42 PM

I'm not going to be molesting anybody, so don't get your hopes up to high, Terry.

Vodette swoops in for another strike, this time aiming for the wyrms wings.

2007-09-20, 08:44 PM
Daewell can see [spoiler]the fat kid's magazine ripped to shreds by spiderwebs, followed by a small army of tarantulas falling on his head. He frowns hugely, and they catch fire.[/spoilers]

Firethena is chuckling about something she'd getting ready to drop on the wyrm when, rather abruptly, the beast melts, flowing inwards in a great stick mass until it forms a shirnking globule of black mucus that subsequently vanished from sight.

Kumoru blinks. "What the fu-"

Alright, that's about enough of that.

The point where the mindwyrm dissapeared abruptly explodes outwards with a blast of raw blackness. Everything goes dark.

A pair of enormous luminous eyes open before you, staring out of the all-encompassing darkness. The party has been returned to their physical bodies- but this cannot be the physical plane, with no discernable floor or walls or anything but infinite black that nonetheless somehow supports their weight. Kinslayer has resumed his sword mode, stuck in the "ground" a few yards away from the group. Tahlion is in Horacio's hand, filaments of silver flowing out of the blade attaching themselves to the halfling's hand and continuing to connect the two of them.

That's not fair! We were about to win!

"That's the way flayers work," says Vera, sitting upright. "If they think they're going to lose, they change the rules. In this case... uh, I think it pulled us into him."

"I feel so violated," mutters Firethena.

Something like that. You beat me at my game, sure enough. Now I want to see if I can win at yours. Ready?

I don't think I'm ready. In fact I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Too late. The eyes close, and out of the darkness steps a woman, short but stately, thin but graceful, wearing a simple but elegant white dress with a flowing crimson cape, a rapier in her hand with a golden blade, her hair the color of spun copper. Aerin Vadis smiles at you cruelly and raises her blade.

En guarde.

(Roll initiative.)

2007-09-20, 08:46 PM
Tokugal Ardolin

"If you change your mind, just let me know."

Tokugal sighed breezily as he resigned himself to a more passive role, so as not to interfere with the plans the others were enacting. He amused himself by molding cloudy shapes of bunnies and teddy bears with the vaporous material of his body.

[OOC: Missed the update while I was posting; I just now realized it. Sorry for the discontinuity.]

2007-09-20, 09:10 PM

Though more comfortable to be on terms she is relatively more familiar with, this wasn't how Vodette wanted to do it. She glanced down at the rapier that she held in her hand and was a little disappointed. She'd grown attached to her inner being in that short while. She raised her rapier and waited for the slightest flinch from the mindworm.

Initiative=26 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1278090)

2007-09-20, 09:12 PM
Initiative roll (1d20+8=24) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1278118)

Terry scowls as he strides over to Kinslayer and rips him from the "ground," taking him up and bringing him to bear.
"Is that supposed to stop us? Give us pause? Surprise, surprise, we're not going to put up and shut up because you put on a costume."

And if you're trying to piss us off, you're going to get more than you bargained for."
To the Aerin-vested mindworm:

And if you're telepathic like your daddy, well, you ought to know already why I'm not afraid of your stupid getup.

To Kinslayer:
Come on. Let's show the mother****er what fear is. I may not be Gaudemus, but you're going to like this.

2007-09-21, 12:41 AM

Horacio grins.

"You know, there's one woman that looked at me just like that. How about I take out her punishment on you instead?"

Horacio hangs back, slowly circling around, away from where his allies are clustered, taking a moment to make sure of what is real, what is fake, and what is hidden in the darkness.

To Tahlion:Okay Tahlion, tell me if you notice anything funny. And if you feel it's a good time to temporarily merge, do it. I'm not gonna argue with you on this one.
Rolls:Initiative: 19
Will Save vs Illusions: 18
Spot: 25
Listen: 24
Horacio will also try to interrupt her with an action if she's about to kill or seriously harm one of his companions during this battle.

Listen (1d20+19=24) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1278499)
Initiative; Will Save vs Potential Illusions; Spot Check vs Hidden Things (1d20+11=19, 1d20+10=18, 1d20+17=25) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1278490)