Sigil, City of Doors...

The Truth, The Beast, and the Tuba

Wherein lightning strikes and a tuba is buried six feet under.

We were no longer officially in the service of the MercyKillers. At least… that’s what they told us when they kicked us out of their barracks. Never mind the fact that the citizens of Sigil can now freely drink from the wells again. Fat lot of gratitude that got us.

Of course we have been given the task of investigating the Godsmen, the Sensates and the Anarchists. We can always start investigating those organizations as Thrimbar asked. I have lived without shelter before, but I’m quite sure my companions have not. This thought is confirmed as it is suggested that we return to that pocket plane to claim it as our own.

I know that we must return to it. I want to return to it. But, I would like to take the time and find the right supplies first. Seeds or seedlings of the rarest herbs would do quite nicely. I could grow them in bulk and reap the profits as they multiply before my eyes. An entire orchard springing up overnight! I’m also quite sure that the lightning could be harvested somehow…

Everyone else is intent on leaving swiftly. Ooze decided to take off to the market where mages sell their wares. I have a different idea. I sought the temple closest to the well that we will be using. See-eh-fos apparently decided to follow me for the acquisition of our waterbreathing spells. We each purchase two – one to be cast at the well and a scroll for the return journey. The well was the meeting place and we all gather there and receive our spells. Zariel apparently had the wit of us all as he had acquired a bladder filled with lizard man blood.

We open the portal and make our way. The pocket plane for Sigil’s drinking water is much calmer this time. While there is still a current (as there would have to be, seeing as how water is being removed and then replenished), it isn’t anywhere near as swift as it was the last time. It actually made for a rather nice and easy trip to the bunker.

Entering the bunker, we realize the mistake we made when we were here last: the corpses we left behind had started to rot. Apparently I am the only one without the fortitude to keep my most recent meal from escaping me, as I wretch into a corner. This simply will not do. If we are going to be using this passage frequently, we either need to find a way to cover the stench or remove the source. I chose the latter option and dragged the bodies with me through the portal that Ooze had opened.

Once through the portal, I began to be nervous. That little Gnome never told me how long he was going to take or when he was going to bother getting here. I really would not like having to try and explain why he’s here…

Of course, everything changed when we entered the laboratory. Fresh blood all over the place! This blood was odd though. It has a kind of shimmer to it. Must be some kind of latent magic left in the blood. The concentration of the spray seems to increase closer towards the cathedral-esque room on the other side of the barracks. Yet, there was something odd about the barracks, too.

I wasn’t the only one to stop and look where the secret door is. Ooze stopped too and asked the question out loud – did we leave the secret door open or shut? I was quite certain we had left it open. We didn’t need to close it and knowing where it was for later could have been… useful. Of course, neither Ooze nor myself could actually SEE the door, so we had to get See-eh-foss to open it again. As soon as he did, a sword came through the opening, trying to blindly stab at the Elf. Ooze reached in and pulled out… a Gnome. Crap.

He wasn’t the same Gnome I had made my agreement with, but he still seemed to know who I was. Then he started screaming. He was screaming about how there was something out to kill him. That his boss was likely already dead. That we needed to get out… I really wish that he wasn’t looking at me this whole time. It’d be nice to be able to bluff my way out of this. Especially since Druids really don’t care for it when intelligent species mess around with nature and experiment on less intelligent creatures… and then there’s the Elf, who REALLY doesn’t seem to be happy right now.

What choice did I have? I have to try and lie my way out of this. A half-truth, yes. A half-truth. I tell everyone that I hired the Gnome to come by and clean out the place – the removal of the corpses, yes. I don’t feel the need to explain that he wanted to research the bodies, find out how they came to be so… mutant? Freakish? Unnatural? No need to tell them how I managed to find him.

Apparently, the only one I didn’t convince was Zariel. Crap. I have seen him work with the power of his deity. He has kept me from death. Fine. Small details. I explain how I found the Gnome. I explain that the Gnome was interested in the bodies. That he and I had an accord that this plane was ours, but he could have the corpses. I didn’t reveal anything else to the Gnome about this place.

I know that the others are less than happy. This Gnome here is still panicking. Something about his panic must have brought out a sadistic streak in Ooze as he grabbed the Gnome and thrust him through the door to the cathedral. The poor Gnome was already traumatized and Ooze just threw him into the next room! The poor creature pleaded with Ooze to open the door. Eventually he went silent. Ooze asked him what was on the other side – what was waiting for us. All that the Gnome could say was “big”.

Ooze’s sadistic streak aside, we open the door and enter the cathedral. The Gnome already knew we weren’t going to open the portal out of here for him. He knew we didn’t have the resources to open it more than once. Taking my assurance that I would do all I could to protect him, the Gnome agreed to stay with us. Ooze, on the other hand, pushed the poor thing in front of us as far as he could. I eventually got Zariel to agree to let the Gnome ride his kammel.

We let Ooze lead the way. He was following something that apparently only spell users can see. We ventured out into the storm. The rain is particularly invigorating. I must remember to obtain more and store it in waterskins. As we came upon a forest, the storm abated. The clear skies are particularly beautiful here. Again, when the skies clear you can see how rapidly the plant life grows here. Anyway, we came upon some kind of burrow that looks to have been destroyed and dug up. Now, however there are distinct traces to follow.

So, follow them we do. Eventually, we find what we’re looking for. To even try and describe this beast is quite the feat. It is some kind of amalgamation of multiple creatures. It has several sets of mis-matched wings; multiple limbs, none of them matching; a tail; tentacles; and it is big – VERY big. The strangest part, to me, is the two glowing spheres – one above each shoulder (for lack of a better word). I took a quick step behind a tree and ready my dagger. I can hear the beast turning towards us. Ooze, on the other hand, simply grabs his tuba and begins playing.

The tune he plays is soothing, and, thankfully, not directed towards me. The beast has fallen prey to the song. This has given me an idea, or, rather, the ability to investigate the spheres. Something about them is bothering me…something I remember about positively charged planes… AH! That’s right! These spheres are creatures composed of positive energy. Mages have a tendency to try and capture them to fuel creations – golems, items, abominations… They transfer their energy to the host, healing it… Looks like they have to die first then!

The creature took no notice of me as I scaled its back. It wasn’t until I got near to the energy creatures that anything took notice of me. Suddenly I was struck by the sphere I was approaching. It shot an energy bolt at me. I now know how badly it would hurt if I were to remain exposed to the rain on this plane for too long. This apparently broke the spell the music had over the beast as it launched an attack on Ooze. I’m keeping my focus on these spheres.

The spheres are ethereal, as I learned with my first attack. I can feel the damage of my blow, but I can also feel where my attack slipped through… I can also feel the pure energy they’re made of charging my dagger… Siayphos must have sent his owls to assist my efforts as the larger one that we rescued? revived? came to help, flanking with me. It took another two hits of my own before the sphere dissipated. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am not in very good shape, but there IS one more sphere to deal with… I can always just imagine it is an Illithid… that might help.

The second one is felled faster with the assistance of some excellent shots from the Elf. I’m in pretty bad shape at this point… yet it keeps getting worse. One of the tentacles from the creature’s back reached up and grabbed me. It tried to squeeze me, but thankfully I’ve trained to get myself out of situations like this. I managed to slip out of the grasp of the tentacle, but I was quite high off the ground. I’m in a very sorry state. I fumble my tumble and hit the ground. Hard. Or, as fate would have it, not so hard after all. In fact, I think hitting the ground caused a mild release of the energy in the soil.

As I get to my feet, I hear, what is unmistakably the Gnome that I had contacted about removing the bodies and getting an upgrade to my own hands. All I could hear was his screaming “watch your head!”… which, surprisingly, gave me an idea… The storms here come frequently… Metal attracts lightning strikes… Stick something metal in this beast’s head and wait for the lightning… yeah… my dagger… in its head…

The kammel, Rossenantay is behind the beast, near where I am. I sprint at him. I jump up onto him and feel him buck at the same time, spring-boarding me up farther than I could have alone. The boosted jump got me up to one of the tentacles, which I again use to jump further up the beast. I use my momentum and gravity to stick the dagger in the creature’s head, but lose my grip on the dagger and fall forward in front of the beast.

This time I stick the landing. I look up and see the Gnome holding one of his hands up and shooting lightning from it at the dagger I stuck in. He missed the first shot, but made the second, temporarily paralyzing the beast. Where’s Ooze? Where’s Zariel? All I can see besides the Gnome is some kind of fleshy-looking blob… which is kind of disturbing. It has begun to rain again, as I had hoped it would. I yell at the Elf, telling him to do what he can to entice the lightning to strike the dagger planted in the skull. I can’t make out his response. But it doesn’t matter, as the naturally-occurring lightning struck my dagger and exploded the head.

I tracked my dagger and returned to see that the bulk of the corpse had fallen on top of the fleshy blob, which I am informed is actually Zariel AND his kammel… what will this mean for them? The Gnome is taking notes. I suggest to him that he move the corpse of beast so that it doesn’t crush Zarinante. He obliged by shifting the corpse for us – single-handedly – with his enhanced hands. It is also at this point that I’ve learned that Ooze was absorbed into the belly of the beast. My dagger appeared effective earlier, so I got to cutting.

Whilst I was cutting, the Gnome was gathering the pieces I hacked away – collecting them as samples, maybe? Anyway, after a few minutes, I found Ooze’s tuba, but no Ooze… then again, there’s not sign of the other Gnome that was absorbed, either. Ah well. Ooze was a good companion. Least I can do is bury the instrument in his honor.

As I grasped the tuba, I heard a voice coming from within… it was the voice of Lothar. I ignore what I’ve heard and even tell him to shut up as I start digging a hole. Siyefous offered me his trowel – a small instrument, but better than nothing. Even the Gnome helped to dig the hole, in his own way. As soon as I had dug out roughly six feet, I placed the tuba and filled the hole. Eventually I’ll find some kind of marker to memorialize the spot, but that’ll have to come later. We have a more pressing matter to deal with: Zariel.

Apparently Sieyeaphous has been tossing dirt onto the blob of flesh that is now Zariel and his kammel, Rossinante. We gather his gear, which has fallen from him, and string a length of cloth between us and use it to push / roll his blob back to the sanctuary. Once we get him / them inside the sanctuary, something odd begins to happen – the blood that was splattered all over the walls is being drawn into the blob. I look over to Seayeaphous and suggest that we roll him from room to room just to be rid of the blood. He agreed.

While I COULD use my skills to activate the scrolls we obtained from the temple, the safer thing to do would be to wait and see if Zariel emerges from this… mutative state, as he can use the scrolls without any effort at all (and if I fail, the scroll is consumed!). So, we part ways with the Gnome, who I had a quick word with before he left. I reminded him of our deal and stated that he is now in my debt, for having saved his life. He disagreed about being in my debt for saving his life, but he acknowledged that he still must fulfill his end of the bargain before he left.

All we have to do now is wait…

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Sometimes_Blackmage

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