New Old Friends

The sparks that danced about inside the generators began to be flung out of it and, wherever one landed, a man made of darkness and stars would unfold itself out of that speck of unlight.  “I’m on it!” I said and I dashed up the spiral stairs until I could just see the base of that generator from just below it on the stairs.  Steadying my hand I pointed my finger and cast Disintegrate on the generator to make it stop.  It worked – one arm disappeared and the other twisted and crashed so that the generator came to an abrupt halt – but there were still five of these dark beings and they were rushing towards me.

The fight was longer than the one we’d had against the slime and this time I was caught smack in the middle of it.  Wands came out all over to cast what heals we could as Adric and Rock and I tried to fend off the shadow men.  Rand pulled out an enormous axe, gave a terrifying cry and charged into melee, giving rise to how we now refer to the songster with attitude:  Bardarian.  Dyson produced two daggers in a blink of an eye and tossed himself end over and into the fray.  Though the fight was hard and we were seriously wounded from time to time, we were eventually able to wear them down.  Adric cast a spell to make himself huge and powerful and he and Rock and Dyson were able to beat the shadow beings to death while Badl did his best to keep me alive and I tried to use spells against them.

Eventually it was over and we much more warily proceeded into the tunnel.

There were no footprints leading into the tunnel but, about halfway down it, there were signs of a trap having gone off and, amidst the scorch marks, there were abrupt bootprints and signs of blood and dirt.  Rock began tracking them and they led us down another set of stairs.  Rather than a hallway with doors on it, however, as on the other side of the complex, these led us to an enormous workroom filled with tables upon tables and, on those, weapons upon more weapons.  There were swords and these weird mace-like things we’d picked up here and there that seemed to be electric pokers.  There were crossbows and ballistae and, most surprising, there were sparkling and unfinished examples of the constructed defenders we’d encountered in the tomb of the Faerath and the tomb of Stormcloud, the animated suits of armor.  They weren’t suits of armor, they were men made of metal.  A few dozen stood at attention in precise formation on one end of the room.  There were pulleys and little tracks like for coal carts and a pit down the center of the room and, on either side, dozens, perhaps hundreds of metal crates filled with weapons.

The weapons were all made of steel of the finest quality you’ve ever seen – even the crossbows, even down to the strings on the crossbows.  These were gleaming and powerful weapons that were easily of masterwork quality.

They were just sitting there, piled high, ready to be shipped out, waiting fifty thousand years to be discovered again.

As we explored the room carefully, Badl suddenly turned with purpose and walked in the direction of an enormous set of double doors on the far end, slightly ajar.  Then Dyson turned and followed.  Then Rock started to do the same but shook it off, turning to the rest of us:  “A voice just told me to go through that door.”  We all looked at Badl and Dyson for a moment and then took off after them.  Rand seemed to fall under the voice’s sway, too, and the rest of us heard it but were able to shake free of its urging.  As we approached said doors, they swung open and inside we saw a creature held behind enormous bars – eight of them, two still charged with electricity, the reason the elves had held those lightning elementals we’d mostly freed on the other end of the complex.  The creature itself is impossible to describe:  shapeless with many tentacles of indeterminate number.  There were eyes, lots of them.  Otherwise, nothing was the same about it moment to moment.  One moment it would be slimy and green, the next it would be smooth, the next scaled and purple.  Any attempt to get a single image of it and hold it in my mind makes that image just slip away.  It’s impossible to tell you anything about it other than those few facts.

Standing in front of it, with one tentacle wrapped around his body, was a half-elf to whom Dyson cried out:  “Trover!”

We thought about attacking, of course, but the creature already had a hostage and thus far we had found the creatures that didn’t attack us to be amenable to conversation in this place.  We opened with a polite greeting and the beast “spoke” to us in Common but its voice didn’t seem to come from its body.  It told us that it had been alone for a very long time until this Trover had arrived and now it would have company again and so none of us were to leave.  It was very direct and simple.

It was lonely.

We asked it if we could free it and it said yes, all it needed was for the last two bars to be deactivated and it would be able to leave.  We asked it what it would do when it was able to leave and it said, “Travel again.”  We asked if it would free Trover if we freed it and it said yes, certainly.

Then we circled back and pressed it on the “travel again” thing, and found this out:  the being, who has no name, is from “the space between the planes,” as it called it.  It is native to there, wherever that is, and many tens of thousands of years ago it had seen the elves in their travel from their world to this one.  It was intrigued, as it had never seen anything other than the beings native to that non-space, and followed them.  Eventually they noticed it and trapped it, and here it had been ever since.  Why had they kept it?  Because they could tap its power to unmake things, unravel them from existence, to shape blocks of steel into the weapons we’d seen in the room outside.  Then the attack had come – another dragon had breached the wall of this room and more water had rushed in to be frozen in place – and the elves had left and it had been alone ever since.

We asked it where it would go if we released it and it said, quite simply, home.  We asked it what it ate, what did it do for fun, etc., to try to assess whether releasing it would be dangerous and we were shocked, at every turn, to learn that it was a pretty harmless being, all told.  And so we promised it that, yes, we would release it.  “We can’t until tomorrow,” we explained, “But we will!  We promise!  And in the meantime a few of us need to leave briefly but we’ll be back in a few hours time.”

The being made us promise that we would not try to take Trover with us and that some of us would stay with it, a request to which Badl and Adric acquiesced so that only Dyson, Rock and myself would leave for Waterdeep.  “You cannot teleport from here, however,” the being said.  “The Ascendeds have erected a teleport barrier.”  And so we teleported to just inside the circle of feathers, the area of effect of the Undeniable Gravity, walked outside it, then began a long series of teleports all the way to my apartment in Waterdeep.

Which had, we noted upon arrival, been very nearly destroyed when someone very violently searched it from top to bottom.  Rock took two seconds to study the claw marks and foot prints and determined that it was Ascendeds who had torn the place apart.  Of course, it’s where our WANTED posters in Waterdeep say to report any information on BOB.  We quickly ran downstairs to check on my landlord, a nice enough little mouse of a man, and found him dead.  Horrified, I went to the front door of the building and opened it to find two Waterdeep City Watch members standing guard.  They were as surprised as we were and quickly started asking questions.  I explained as best I could in the circumstance that I lived there, I had teleported in from abroad and that I had no idea my apartment had been broken into and ransacked.  We were told that the Watch was going to send a priest around to cast a Speak With Dead and I told them to leave the body there so I could have my landlord raised (which I did – he was very grateful and I don’t have to pay rent anymore).

Dyson showed us to a few magic shops where we could try to offload some inventory and where I bought the components needed for my new spells (including Mordenkaiden’s Magical Mansion, squee!) and then we started asking around about where we might be able to find a buyer for a large quantity of dragon scales.  Rock and I had brought five or six sacks of common dragon scales (all chromatic, no metallic, etc.) with us to sell.  We were able to find one shop owner who said he wasn’t interested, personally, but that we could sell all the dragon scales in the world to the the Untherian Embassy.  We cocked our eyebrows and got a shrug in response.  This was sufficiently interesting to warrant a side trip and so off we went to the Embassy of Unther, that nation almost destroyed by Mulhorand.

I should note that I don’t feel any pity for them.  Much as I dislike the Mulhorandi slave economy, Unther is a nation devoted to the worship of Tiamat, goddess of the dragons and as evil as it gets.  Unther has been so thoroughly conquered by Mulhorand in recent years that there’s only a rim of a few Untherian cities left in one corner of their former lands.  Upon arrival at the embassy we showed some underling some of the scales and he dashed off excitedly to bring us some noble or another who was authorized to make purchases.  He studied the scales and said yes, he would pay 20,000 gold for them and, by the by, where had we found them?  “Oh,” we said, “You’d be surprised what you find in the world if you look hard enough.  So why do you want them?”

The Untherian noble, whose name I’ve already forgotten, told us that Untherian troops and especially their noble officers wear dragon scales of all chromatic types on their armor as a sign of favor and obeisance to Tiamat.  We shrugged it off – they probably have more nefarious purposes but the armor of their ceremonial guards at the embassy certainly bore that out as being at least partly true and besides, the survival of Tiamat might be instrumental in preventing The Mother from (re)taking the position of god of dragons.  As much as it hurt to take Untherian money, we had to look at the big picture on this one.  As we concluded the deal I was sure to give them one of the TTC’s cards and one of the WANTED posters and no sooner had we unrolled it for the noble to examine than he pointed at the Ascended pictured on it and said, “Where have you seen these beings?”

“We were there when Candle Keep was attacked by them,” Rock said.

“They are what are attacking us now,” the noble said.  “Do you know what they are?”

So… we told him.  We didn’t tell him everything, but we told him that they work for an ancient draconic force or god or being called The Mother and that she seeks to become the god of dragons.  Then we lowered our voices, even there, in private, and asked him if perhaps the forces of Unther would find themselves able to kill more of these Ascendeds if they had some of the finest weaponry ever created in the history of the world?  The noble arched one eyebrow and we produced one of the steel crossbows from the ancient elven war-factory.

He examined it and then nodded.  “How soon can you get more?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Bring as many as you can.  My superiors will want to examine the weapons, but I think we can make a deal.”

We shook hands and I tried not to look at the multi-headed icon of Tiamat on the wall (or the ceiling, or the floor, or the inside of the door, or inset into the door handles, etc., etc.) as we left.

“What now?”

“We go find Dyson’s friends, go blow the cash on a scroll of Detect Scrying and a scroll of Permanency, and we go pack up as many crates of weapons as we can.”

So, that’s what we did.

3 Responses to “New Old Friends”

  1. Gerhard says:

    If I was your landlord, I’d have evicted your sorry ass.

  2. Whitten says:

    Technically you are my landlord, aren’t you? In Elventree, anyway.

    And no you wouldn’t. I’m too beautiful to live on the street, you wonderfully silly thing.

  3. Gerhard says:

    Reckon I’m going to have to adopt another adventuring party to watch from afar, as this one would appear to have been devoured entire… or so it would seem from the lack of updates. *grumble* *grumble* I wonder what Donth is up to these days…

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