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Thrull roars in anger as the pit fiend attacks his ally.
"THRULL NOT LET NEW FRIEND DIE THAT EASY."
The roar is distracting enough that, while the Pit Fiend is still able to get the blow in, the Shepherd is able to find a moment's respite to pull himself together.
He follows it up with an attack, before buying himself a little extra time and conjuring a light snow that falls comfortingly on Shep and Asheroth. Eltain would be proud.
Immediate Interrupt: Trickery's Reward, basically consider that Shep gains his surge value in HP since the +4 to defenses does nothing to stop that big ol' mace.
Standard: Timeless Trek in the Feywild on the Pit Fiend: (1d20+20)
On hit: (2d8+10)
Effect: The target is banished to the Feywild (Save ends). While banished, it is removed from play. When the effect ends, the target reappears in the space it last occupied or the nearest unoccupied space of its choice.
Minor: Activate Timeless Locket's daily power to gain a standard action I can't use to make an attack.
Standard: Song of Sublime Snowfall. Area burst 2 within 10, centered in S10. Allies in the burst gain 6 HP. It also creates a zone of difficult terrain for enemies that ends until the end of my next turn that also affects flying enemies. It's a sustain minor.
AC 32, Fortitude 27, Reflex 30, Will 35 HP 52/103; Surges 2/7
If you're within 5 squares of John Barleycorn, you gain a +2 power bonus to all defenses (currently Asheroth, Lucan, Pavick, and Thrull).
If you're in L15, M15, N15, L14, M14, N14, L13, M13, or N13 (NOBODY!), you gain cover, and at the start of your turn, Shep can slide you 3 squares whenever you like.
If you're in a burst 3 surrounding R16 (Aramil), you can shift 4 squares as a move action, and ignore difficult terrain during the shift.
Ah. That had almost felt rather pleasant.
It had felt, to the Shepherd, that just before the blow had struck, he had seemingly departed his very body. He watched the mace connect with his jaw as an observer, some few feet away, staring intently. The heavy Baatorian green steel thing cracked across the Shepherd's face, and along the jaw, a fissure cracked its way in the rough stone almost all the way to the nearest ear; he watched it form, eventhough there was no earthly way for him to have seen it etch itself into his face. And then the new vision blurred, and his perspective shifted, and only pain awaited him.
The Shepherd stumbled back, ripped from his false consciousness by the half-orc's mighty bellow. And the great rock of a man paused, feeling his body attempt to fail him, urging him to the ground so that he might sleep--only a short rest, just for a moment. It wouldn't take long at all...
A single snow flake landed gently on the tip of his nose. The Shepherd looked down the bridge of the stony ridge, and there it sat, glowing faintly like a wintery firefly. Another fell beside it, and one atop his hooded head. The Shepherd looked up, and the snow began to fall about him in utter silence--a silence that drowned out the roar of the crowd and the shriek of the pained and the dying. In that moment, in that little bubble of time, the Shepherd could only stare above him, watching the snow.
He snapped his jaw back into place with a sickening crack, and chewed it straight violently. Shaking his great head, the Shepherd rolled his shoulders, and snorted a fiery snort. This was no time to prove the Baba Yaga right.
I'm not dead!
Minor Action:Healing Spirit. Shep spends a healing surge + 6, and either Lucan or Pavick can regain (4d8) hit points. Also, Lucan and Pavick both gain 6 temporary hit points.
Move: To K6, avoiding going adjacent to the rot grubs, and moving through Lucan and Pavick's spaces to get there--Shep's speed is 8. John Barleycorn will go to S9.
Standard Action:Claws of the Eagle. Asheroth can make a basic attack against a creature of his choice, and if he hits, the target grants combat advantage until the end of Shep's next turn.
Last edited by Haberdashery : 09-20-2012 at 11:12 AM.
The War Devil growls. Did that halfling slave not deliver the message I sent? I'll have it flayed alive. The ruckus is some wacko flew off on a flying horse from inside the barge, there's a runaway spelljammer that's about to crush the arena, and those slaves down below are putting on such a good show that no one wants to do anything about the first two!" He gives a growl as a gasps and shouts go up across the arena as Thrull banishes the Pit Fiend to a demiplane.
"Now get below or lend a hand. I don't have time for my troops to get distracted by some glorified whore wandering around trying to see what's going on."
As Zyrr glances out over the spectacle below, he can indeed see that things are in chaos. A spelljammer (more specifically Zyrr's spelljammer) has a long trail of sparking purple smoke billowing out the back, and is on a collision course with the arena. Several other ships are starting to move into position to chase after it, but none look like they'll get to it before it makes a crater in the arena. On the deck of the ship, he can see a handful of devils plus his crew and Eltain running around. Like any good captain, Zyrr knows his ship like the back of the hand, but it looks like the devil is trying to repair the ship, and Eltain is purposefully trying to crash it. Perhaps Zyrr shouldn't have offered to sell Eltain to Zorella...
The devilish commander is competent, and knows what he's doing, but Eltain has little difficulty rallying the crew around useless tasks and fake repairs that do nothing to change the course of the careening spelljammer. As they approach the stadium Kosalram glances up from the golden chair that steers the Jammer, and glances at Eltain, eyebrow raised.
OOC: Where does Eltain want to put the ship on the arena?
Pavick - Gnome Wizard
HP 63 (including George) + 6 temps/88, Surges 5/8
AC 35, Fort 27, Reflex 31, Will 32
Invisible to enemies 5 or more squares away
Pavick seeing the pit fiend blink off on a trip to another plane gives Pavick an idea. He turns his attention to the dragon. He draws a small circle in the air in front of him. It hovers there glowing gently for only a split second before Pavick sends it flying away with a dismissive gesture.
The small circle expands into a gigantic hole in the fabric of space as it flies toward the dragon. Pavick stands behind it, waving and smiling at Fersavictorix. "Bye, bye," he says then blows the dragon a kiss farewell. As the hole finally reaches the dragon, it wraps itself around him, carrying him off to a pocket dimension.
Pavick then turns up to face the crowds. "And now, as the only living creatures left in the arena, I declare us the winners of this duel. Through strength of muscle and of mind we have not only ended the mighty Fersavictorix's unstoppable storm and doused his heart of fire. But we have destroyed the 23rd legion. Its commander, beaten and disgraced, has been shunted off to the Feywild, where there is little doubt he is being torn limb from limb by a pack of rabid pixies as I speak. And here we stand, injured, but not a single man lost to our vanquished foes. What more could you ask for from the victors in your arena?"
Minor: May as well, maintain the VoA just in case.
Standard: Sequester on the dragon. Attack vs Fort - (1d20+20)
Hit: The target is banished to a demiplane (save ends). The target disappears, cannot take actions, and cannot be targeted. On a save, the target reappears in the space it last occupied. If that space is occupied, the target returns to the nearest unoccupied space of its choice. You can expel the target from the demiplane as a free action, in which case it appears as described above.
Miss: I'll use the Orb of Inescapable Consequences as a free action. Use this power when an attack with this orb misses its target. The target is affected by any conditions or effects of the attack as if the attack had hit.
I'll also use the Orb of Imposition class feature, bringing Fersavictorix's save penalty to a -5 on first roll, and -2 thereafter.
Diplomacy check to declare ourselves victorious. Diplomacy - (1d20+19)
AC 32 Fort 30 Ref 27 Will 33
HP 21/112 (bloodied) Surges 9/11
The devilish brute clutches his chest and gasps. He falls to his knees as the flames of the pit fiend threaten to consume him. And yet, the sensation he feels as he falls unconscious is not overwhelming heat, but cool points of relief.
This is death? I guess so. Mephistopheles is my master after all. Why should it not be cold?
He opens his burnt out eyes to take in what death looks like. Oddly enough it looks just about the same as life...The dwarf is there. And the goliath. They must have died as well. It all seems so surreal. Until he notices the goliath gesturing toward the red dragon. Then it all clicks into place. The pit fiend had disappeared! The dragon had robbed him of his resistance to fire again. And there was something else...
"Lu...? Wh-where are you?" Ash says as he grimaces with pain. He waves his hand in the air and a tiny imp appears next him, hovering in the air.
"Yes, Master Asheroth, sir? What can I do for you?"
"Find Lu. Find out where she is."
"Are you sure you don't want me to find you the nearest doctor?"
"Just find her!"
"Yes,sir! Right away, sir!" And with a buzz of tiny wings the imp zips off to complete his task.
Asheroth surveys the arena and the surrounding crowd. He looks at his own body and the transformation that has taken place in it. His eyes grow wide with fear and loathing. But only for a moment. The flames in his eyes reignite as if a wizard had cast a fireball inside of them. The rage and ferocity build within and the brute rises from his moment of weakness.
"All shall burn before the might of Cania! Let none live who say The Ninth Hell is weak!"
Free action: Drop prone. Standard action:Lesser Planar Ally, The imp goes to find out where Lu might be. If he does, he comes back to tell Ash. If not, he tells that too. Move action: Stand. Minor action: Intimidate on the crowd since the pit fiend and the dragon are gone; (1d20+21)
"I make it; you buy it."
Last edited by Orsik Vondal : 09-21-2012 at 06:34 AM.
The battle had raged back and forth, with wounds opened by blades and flame only to be sealed shut with music and magic.
Then, the battle stopped. Two quick spells, and the mighty Fersavictorix and the disgraced general of Dis were gone. There was a brief pause in the crowd noise as they absorbed what had just happened, before the observing fiends broke into a mix of cheers, jeers, and throwing beers (fiend-beers). The roar of the crowd dies down slightly as Pavick's voice raises above the crowd, declaring the "slaves" the winners of the match. At Pavick's proclamation of Victory, the crowd again erupts into a mixture of applause, shouts of outrage, accusations of cheating, demands for a rematch, and laughing at this unique interpretation of victory.
As Asheroth adds his own voice to the din, the entire crowd goes silent as Asheroth declares the might of Cania, only to burst into laughter as he calls it the "ninth" hell. There is little time for Asheroth's slip-up to have much effect, as the Jammer suddenly bursts into the arena, billowing purple smoke from the top. Rope ladders are tossed down onto the arena below by the crew of the Jammer, much to the surprise of the devils on deck who had all braced for what they thought was going to be a spectacular crash.
The crowd is outraged! Screams and curses fly, and you can see several spectators starting to weave spells and gather infernal fire to fling on these slaves who would dare escape the arena, when suddenly a new voice rises above the din. It begins as a deep laugh, a sinister "Ho Ho" that reverberates throughout the spelljammers and astral dreadnaughts "Now these slaves are my kind of scum. Fearless, and inventive." Through the purple smoke and haze, you can see the outline of Baazebul slowly clapping, the slimey webbed hands making a wet slapping noise. "This wasn't what I had in mind by clearing your enemies from the field, but such daring plans should not go unrewarded." As the archduke of hell speaks, several of the devils that were preparing to blow the jammer into bits slowly lower their guard, watching Baalzebul with interest.
"It seems to me we have two options. You may join me for dinner as the victors, where we can discuss your future. Or you can flee the arena, and we will be forced to treat you as escaped slaves. What say you?" On either side, Baalzebul's advisors' eyes widen, and they quickly begin tapping the sluggish archfiend on the shoulder, trying to whisper in his ear. The Githyanki, outraged, also try to gather Baalzebul's attention, but the Lord of Maladomini keeps his attention focused on the group in the arena below, particularly the Shepherd and Asheroth.
The voice of the slug-duke rang in the Shepherd's ears, shattering the momentary silence and stillness that the sudden snowfall had created. The dragon and the pit fiend had both vanished, and the crowds had gone deathly silent as the Lord of Flies spoke. An astral breeze caught the Shepherd's cloak as he stared up towards the floating barge, revealing his singed and somewhat torn while still glossy black tuxedo. He reached up slowly, and straightened his violet bow-tie.
"I cannot speak for my friends." The Shepherd's voice boomed upwards, back at Baalzebul, staunch and unflinching. "I can only speak for myself, and I will cause them no further harm."
A weighty pause ensued, allowing the gravity of his words and his sentiment to settle upon the now still arena. "I will accept your offer. But on one condition." He narrowed his black eyes up at the archduke. "If they choose to leave, you will let them leave unmolested."
He let his arms fall by his sides as his gaze remained fixated on Baalzebul's pustulant face. "I have seen the way you look at me, Archduke. You almost seem worried. Your interest is with me, not with my companions."
As the Spelljammer approaches the arena, Eltain's eyes widen in surprise as first one and then the other of his companions' opponents vanish in a puff of magic, followed by an amused chuckle as Pavick declares victory on a technicality. And there, indeed, is the Shepherd, all of his friends together again, a sight that warms his heart and brings joy even in this horrible place. He doesn't recognize the half-orc or the dwarf, but they certainly seem to have helped and it was the half-orc's magic that vanished the Pit Fiend.
The remaining figure, though... Eltain stares at what he assumes must be Asheroth in horror as he screams praises to Mephistopholes, wondering if he'll need to protect his friends from the fiendslave next. He feels a momentary wave of both pity and disgust. Such was the lot of those who swore themselves to such foul beings. The Fey could be capricious and even cruel in their dealings with those they granted power, but even they had nothing on the depravity and evil of devils. Poor fool, to have sworn himself to such a being. Eltain mutters a quick prayer of thanks to Corellon that his own path has ever led back to the god, that even the arcane powers of a Warlock that he wield come from such a benign being.
He shakes it off and rushes to the railing.
"Shep! It's good to see you," he shouts down to the goliath. "I was worried about you!" His excited, joyful greetings are cut off by Baalzebul's words and proposal, and further silenced by the Shepherd's words.
"Shep, no. We can get out of here," he pleads quietly, "All of us. Don't give into their demands, you know full well what sort of things they want. Nothing good can come of dealing with them," he says worriedly. He stares at the Shepherd before turning to look at the hideous, slug-like archdevil.
"At least get on anyway, even if we go along with this madness we'll still need to get there." Once the others are on board he looks at them and whispers to them so nobody but them can hear. "Nobody mention why we're here or we'll never get out of here with our freedom and honor intact or without owing them far more than it's worth it to pay to them. Zyrr's still on board that barge, but he'll be able to get to us if he needs to, if anyone can figure out what's going on and where our goal is it's him." He sighs.
"I'm not even going to tell you guys not to do this, because I know you won't listen to my warnings, but please. Remember what we're dealing with here. Remember that the ends almost never justify the means, and that performing evil acts, even for a good cause, only stains you and does nothing to truly advance the cause of goodness." He frowns. "...And I can't go with you. I'm sorry. It's not something I'm able to do. I went along with you on this sort of thing once, and we know where that ended. I can't protect you from this sort of thing, you won't let me, so the best I can do is not be there so I don't cause trouble by refusing to capitulate to their madness."
Were it not for the circumstances, the tall goliath would have smiled. But as it stood, no smile would come to his lips. He tilted his stone head towards Eltain atop the spelljammer, blinking those twinkling black eyes.
"It's good to see you too, Eltain." He turned his head back to Baalzebul in his cloud of flies. "But there is no escape from this. Expecting one lone spelljammer to outrun a fiendish armada is..." The Shepherd paused, one thumb stroking his chin. "...well, suffice to say it would not end quite as hopefully as you might think."
"I intend to stay." He spoke again, after a stony silence. "As long as my condition is met. There are things I would know from Lord Baalzebul." A funny sort of twist of his lips found its way onto his face. "Also I don't quite have anything to lose."
A flash of anger crosses Eltain's face, accompanied by deep sorrow.
"Don't you dare." He says, his voice choked. "There is always hope. You just have to believe in it." He pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "And it isn't just about you, you know. Maybe you think you don't have anything to lose, but what about us? We care about you. If something happens to you, the rest of us have plenty to lose. You."
The brute locks eyes with Baalzebul for a moment and anger flashes across his face. He turns his head to the side as if he is listening to some one speak over his shoulder. The brute nods, and then he begins to transform again.
First the fire in his eyes dies out like the last ember of a hearth in the early morning; blackened rims remain around his eyes. The spines retract into his skin with marked and audible pain; blood seeps from the flesh closing around the diminishing points. The wings fold into themselves, and Asheroth's body absorbs them. The agony of unmaking the brute buckles Ash's knees, and he catches himself with his blade; leaning on it for support.
After a few long breaths, Ash regains his footing and faces the archduke, whose attention is being held by The Shepherd at the moment. Eltain enters the scene from the 'Jammer trying to dissuade Shep from meeting with Baalzebul. True to form The Shepherd holds fast.
When Eltain has said his peace, Ash dismisses his fiery blade and clears his throat, "Lord Baalzebul, though the goliath does not speak for me, his sentiments are my sentiments. I will dine with you as well, given these others are free to depart unharmed if they so wish." Ash motions to the other combatants and the 'Jammer.
Ash gives a side glance to Shep and a kurt nod then returns his gaze to the Lord of Flies.
Pavick looks back and forth between Eltain and the Shepherd. He chews on his lower lip and taps his toe in an obvious nervous tick. The look in his eyes makes it evident that the little gnome's heart is being torn.
Pavick's fingers twitch slightly and his lips barely move, as if he is murmering something inaudible. Just above Eltain's ear, Pavick's voice appears in the tiniest of whispers. "I'm sorry. I hope that you know I support you, I always have and always will, but you have a compass. Shep seems lost right now. I can't abandon him to the devils. I have to try to make sure this doesn't end badly."
Finally, having made his decision, Pavick goes to stand resolutely at the Shepherd's side. "Where Shep goes, I go. I will not lose track of him again." He glances up at Shep before staring at Baalzebul. "But he is right, the safety of us and our friends must be ensured before any other discussions can begin."
Seeing the camaraderie between Pavick and Shep out of the corner of his eye contrasted with the memory of what he had done and said in the arena barely registers on Ash's face, and his shoulders slump slightly. He masks what he knows will come later, but cannot hide the half-step away from his new companions.
"I make it; you buy it."
Last edited by Orsik Vondal : 09-23-2012 at 07:50 AM.
Aramil was about to tell the slimy piece of worm-ridden filth that he'd get no such pleasure from them, but instead releases a frustrated sigh when Shep takes Baalzebul up on the offer. Despite Pavick and the fiend-bound Asheroth backing up the recently-returned Shepherd, Aramil shakes his head and remains resolute.
"You've made grave errors in your presumptions, Baalzebul. First among them is that we were ever slaves to begin with. The second? Pavick, open a portal. The Lords of Celestia, I'm sure, would like details on the size of the armada that has broken loose from the Hells."
Avatar by Strategos
Last edited by Mando Knight : 09-23-2012 at 12:20 PM.
Eltain looks at Pavick, tears in his eyes, and quietly answers.
"I know that, Pavick. I always have. And I'll always support you guys in any way I can. Don't think I don't want to go with you and protect you. But I fear that the very compass that guides me would lead me to cause more trouble for you." He looks away, his heart nearly ripped in two by the war in his soul. A hand taps him on the shoulder and he turns in surprise to see the face of the half-orc.
"Who..." He quickly wipes his tears and stares at the bard.
"Thrull know what you mean. Sometimes you can help people talking or fighting. Sometimes best thing to shut up." The half-orc nods sagely. "Thrull not know your friends well, only met them few minutes ago. But they seem good people mostly. Thrull take care of them. You not worry." He claps the half-eladrin on the shoulder and goes to stand with the others.
"Thrull not have best table manners, but Thrull hungry and tired of eating swill given in arena. Thrull hope Baalzebul have better food than that, or Thrull think Baalzebul should punish his underlings." Eltain stares at the half-orc quietly, his internal war no closer to being solved, then winces when Aramil speaks and goes over to him, the Eladrin's boldness making up his mind.
"We should have a talk one of these days, General, about the value of not telling your enemies your capabilities and plans," he mutters, raising an eyebrow. "Stealth and surprise are both valuable assets not to be given away lightly." He frowns.
"So. War plans, for that's what this is even if there's no fighting at the moment. Our allies are, as always, determined to be utter fools. And so are we, for that matter, for there is no truly unfoolish course of action here. You and I both have military experience and know the value of a tactical retreat, but they know no such concept. Even then, retreat is risky and may well fail; and you know that Pavick and Shep at least won't come even if he makes that portal, plus Zyrr is unaccounted for. We might well be able to pick Pavick up and move him by force, but even both of us together couldn't move the Shepherd." He pauses to smile at the mental image.
"So. We have some things we can try. We can retreat ourselves, but that leaves our allies without those best suited to protect them in a fight should one break out. We can go along, but let's be honest and admit that both of us are likely to cause greater trouble for them with our words than we ever could with our blades. You are not the soul of tact and I am not the soul of cooperation when it comes to those who are evil and I don't trust either of us to keep our mouths shut. We can attempt to remain on the Spelljammer if we're allowed to in order not to sabotage their negotiations, misguided though they may be. We can knock them all unconscious and try to fly out of here anyway. Honestly, there are no good options." He sighs.
"No matter what the two of us do, there's nothing we really can accomplish. There are no good options or outs, nothing that can be done to give any sort of hope of success to this madness. All we can do is choose our failure." He shrugs. "We might as well give up and stand with them. I've never had any luck in winning them away from making bad deals and entering into foolish bargains, but I suppose there's always a first time for everything. Maybe they'll finally listen to me about something." He smirks and then chuckles at the absurdity of that notion. He sighs, his heart heavy.
"Corellon, forgive me for this. I know better. I don't want to do this. But I can't leave them, even if they damn themselves willingly. They're my friends. I love them, even if they don't listen to me when I try to dissuade them from descending into evil and madness. Just please grant me the strength and wisdom to not end up making it worse for them." He walks slowly to the others and takes Pavick's small hand in his own.
"I will not be part of any bargains made. I urge you all once again to not even attempt to make any. Nothing but evil can come of them. You will not outwit him, no matter how clever you think you're being. I say that not as an insult but an acknowledgment that this is a being far older and far more evil than any of us can comprehend. Please, listen to me for once. Promise him nothing. Zyrr will look for Lu, I'm sure. Flatter him, distract him, keep him busy, but promise him nothing and make no bargains. Please."
Zyrr the succubus leans over the railing at the spectacle down below, understandably fascinated by the scene and secretly wishing he was a part of this madness.
Karlvan the Clanless shakes the pit fiend poison off his shield and taps it to his forehead in mock salute to Baalzebub. "I did what was asked o' me in contract: kill me foes or die tryin', and be making a bloody spectacular show o' it. I don't think ye'll see a fight this thrilling fer another half-century. Now I want me reward: freedom and the restoration o' me clan honor. If I have to be dining to get that, I will so ye can count me in."
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
If Baalzebul had feet, he would have been tapping them impatiently as the group of slaves quickly huddled and discussed things before their eventual acceptance. At Aramil's directive towards Pavick, he arches a slimy eyebrow, but his eyes narrow as Eltain moves around the group whispering. At the eventual acceptance of the offer, a small yacht floats down, and a pair of tiefling butlers step out and motion you on.
As the survivors of the arena step onto the yacht, the Pit Fiend re-appears in the arena with a flash, and with a roar raises his mace to charge the half-orc bard that banished him to the Feywild, when a voice echoes out from above. "General! Stand down! You have been defeated, and have again proven yourself unworthy to lead the forces of hell. Dispater must be desperate indeed if these are the sorts of commanders that he promotes."
Baalzebul looks down and again gives a chuckle, but the Pit Fiend (now twice disgraced), shouts back. "They had little more than parlor tricks that left me temporarily indisposed. An act of desperation and fear. This fight is not over!" Again, the Pit Fiend raises his mace, and charges towards Thrull. Before your eyes, a swarm of flies descends on the Pit Fiend, and even as he runs, the flies eat away at the bones, so that all that is left standing before Thrull is a standing pile of bones. A split second later, the bones collapse into a heap, and the Pit Fiend skull comes rolling to a stop at Pavick's feet.
The Githyanki quickly move to send a message to Fersavictorix, warning him about his actions before he returns from the demiplane to which he was banished.
OOC: Could I get a perception check from Zyrr?
Onboard the small yacht, you all have a few minutes to catch your breath, patch your wounds, and gather your thoughts, but before long the door opens, and you are lead to a long dining room.
Eltain has seen something like this earlier, but for the rest of you there's immediately the odd contrasts of splendor and decadence, wealth and filth, beauty and ugliness. The carpet is thick, but squishes with faint smells of refuse coming up from underneath. The chandelier is brilliantly constructed and sends light sparkling across the room, but is built of bones and sinew. A side table is filled with the finest meats, the freshest fruit, and the most succulent desserts, but most are infested with maggots or covered with flies.
The tiefling who led you in gives a slight bow."The great lord will be with you shortly. Your seats have been arranged," he gestures to the table, "Entertainment has been provided he motions to two nearby windows, "And if you see any companions you desire, just ask them." He motions to a small platform on the corner of the room that is rotating slowly, half hidden by two curtains. There's a continual slow stream of creatures entering the room from the left curtain and exiting through the right curtain of every imaginable species, gender, and physical build, each with the dead stare of beings without a soul. "If there's anything else you need, just ring the bell."
The entire setting is thoroughly grotesque, an easy reminder of the corruption and inherent wrong-ness of the inhabitants of the nine hells.
On the table, small placards have been set out for each of you, indicating where you are to sit. At the head of the table is the setting for Baalzebul, with spots on his left and his right for advisors and other fiendish lackeys. After that, the nearest spaces have been reserved for Asheroth and Aramil, followed by Pavick and Lucan, Thrull and Karlvan, and finally Eltain. At the foot of the table, at the absolute far end from Baalzebul, is a placard with only a Shepherd's crook.
The only other object of note in the room is a large painting directly behind where Baalzebul's head would be were the archduke seated. The subject of the painting is an incredibly beautiful angelic creature. The painting has been torn and repaired dozens of times, but it's evident that the original creature was completely breathtaking.
When the Shepherd sees the painting, he feels...a resonating in his heart. A feeling of both love and heartache.
Whether the interior of the pleasure barge disturbed the Shepherd or not, it was not easy to discern, for his face was an unmoving stone slab. He was the last of his companions to enter the dining hall, following close and resolute, his head held tall and his jaw straight. He had fully intended to accept Baalzebul's offer by himself, with his dear friends safe and an entire plane between them. With them by his side, as much as he appreciated their loyalty and their love for him, the pit of his stomach churned with worry for their safety.
And as he stepped into the dining hall proper, keeping his eyes straight in front of him, untempted by every manner of debauchery that surrounded him, they unfortunately fell on the large tapestry at the end of the hall. His throat tightened and his breath escaped him, and the stony brow above his eyes raised in an alarm he couldn't understand. And when the moment of shock had past him, and the Shepherd had regained some of his composure, that very same slab-like brow narrowed heavily, and he squinted at the creature depicted in the painting.
He was met with the realization that he had never seen it before in his life.
And yet, for whatever reason, there was a tiny fiddle-bow inside his chest, sawing its way across the Shepherd's heart, cutting at the tissue and biting deeply with each pass. His eyes suddenly moist without understanding why, he began to rub his eyes with his forefinger and thumb, and grimaced downwards.
Eltain looks about in renewed disgust and horror, giving the Shepherd a reassuring pat on the shoulder before slumping against a wall until such time as he's forced to take a seat at the table, his posture one of utter defeat.
He'd tried to save them. He'd tried to help them. He'd risked his life to make sure they would have a way out, at least a chance to get away, but they had dismissed it without a moment's consideration.
And now they were here, and there was nothing he could even try to do to help them. At this point he couldn't even help himself. All he could do was stand here, helpless, while whatever was to happen to them happened. He had failed utterly. Once again. He buries his face in his hands and weeps, not caring who sees it or what they think.
Ash had met a Lord of Hell only once before. The night he watched his father die. Mephistopheles was a wonder to behold. Graceful, yet powerful. Elegant, yet frightening. Honest, yet devious. No wonder he was Lord of Cania, the Eighth Hell. Where had that slip come from anyway? The Ninth Hell? What if...
The thought didn't last long. As soon as the doors to the yacht close, Ash's senses are bombarded, mostly by the foul stench, disturbing noises and macabre scenery. Ash takes in the blatant debauchery and repulsive filth surrounding him. How did a foul beast like Baalzebul ever remain a Lord of Hell!? If I were in charge, he would be the first to go. "Out of the frying pan; into the outhouse", Ash whispers as he tries to avoid breathing too much.
Walking down a hallway, Ash catches a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors that line it. He does a double take, and Pavick nearly runs into his legs, because of it. Where is eyes had before been orbs of glowing red, now they were dark gray-almost black. The sockets around his eyes looked like a stripped tree limb that had been held just above the flames. It reminded Ash of the goggles he had seen some of the Astral Sea sailors wear as they cruised along in their skiffs and spelljammers.
He touches the skin to see if it hurts, but it feels normal. He thinks back to the arena. What had happened to him in there? He didn't know. The thought makes him cringe with trepidation. Had he done something to hurt one of the others? He hoped not.
When the tiefling leaves, Ash is struck by an acute sense of similarity. Pain shoots across his heart, and he grabs at the phantom that is not there anymore. This act was not over yet. The curtain had not fallen. There was still more that had to be endured. And so he steels himself for the test that is before him.
Ash sees the seating arrangement and thinks that he was sat next to Baalzebul intentionally just as much as The Shepherd was sat at the far end of the table. The Lord of Flies was eyeing the pair when he made his offer in the arena. Ash tried to think of reasons why.
Well, Mephistopheles and Baalzebul were in an immortal struggle with each other. Perhaps the slug wanted to keep Ash within arms reach. Just so he could unnerve Ash. The only thing he couldn't understand was The Shepherd's seat. Why did he want to look at Shep? Then it came to him. The painting on the wall behind Baalzebul's seat! He wanted The Shepherd to see the painting! But why? What did this painting have to do with Shep?
Ash crosses over to The Shepherd and asks, "Do you have any idea what that painting is about? Obviously, the Lord of Flies wants you to be looking at it to distract you."
"I make it; you buy it."
Last edited by Orsik Vondal : 09-25-2012 at 09:21 PM.
Pavick walks into the room, but amazed and disgusted at the surroundings. Pavick rubs a hand across his nose, casting prestidigitation to leave a scent of peppermint across his upper lip, which he hopes will drown out the cloying odors in the air here.
He takes the seat marked for him. As he sits, Slick pokes his head out from his sleeve and begins flicking his tongue around tasting the air. Pavick quickly grabs the little serpent behind the head and tucks him back up his sleeve, "You really don't want anything around here, Slick," he says in little more than a whisper.
Seeing Shep's eye drawn to the painting, Pavick also gives it an appraising eye, trying to figure out what Shep might be looking at.
Here's a couple of rolls to consider the painting. Let me know if there is anything else that might be more appropriate.
As feelings of gloom settle across the party, Asheroth and Pavick step up to examine the painting more carefully. The creature in this often destroyed and reconstructed painting was a dark-skinned humanoid with silver eyes so brilliant they seem to leap off of the painting, and skin that seemed to shimmer with a golden translucence. As Pavick looks at the painting, the grandmaster's mind races back through the stacks of books he so often perused at his study back in Fallcrest, manuscripts on the planes and their inhabitants, and eventually he recalls a vaguely similar portrait sketched in the margins of a partial copy of the Planar Codex.
The portrait Pavick remembers is a similar dark-skinned humanoid, but with compound eyes like a fly and a thin layer of slime coating his skin rather than the golden light seen in this painting. Still, the similarities are eerie, and after a moments reflection Pavick realizes that this figure in the Painting was the archangel Triel. Triel, who was cursed along with all other devils for their treachery and became Baalzebub (the figure Pavick remembered from his studies). Hundreds of years ago, during an infernal civil war (sometimes called the Reckoning of Hell), Baalzebub was cursed by Asmodeus into his current slug-like form and renamed Baalzebul.
"Hideous, isn't it?" calls out a voice from the doorway, and you turn to see the slug Archduke himself enter the room. From behind him, a handsome man (save for a pair of dark pointed horns) calls out in a booming voice "Presenting his excellencey Baalzebul; Archduke of Maladomini, Lord of the Seventh, the Lord of Lies" before retiring back into the ship.
In addition to Baalzebul, two other figures step into the room. One is a thin, fanged humanoid covered in green scales and loose fitting robes that takes the seat on Baalzebul's left. The other is a rather demure and surprisingly subserviant looking female devil with crimson skin and curved horns of ivory in a high-backed black dress. She enters the room, and quickly takes a seat on Baalzebul's right, violet eyes darting around the room, taking in every detail.
Baalzebul, slithering up next to Pavick and Asheroth, stares at the picture, bulbous eyes glazing over as he stares at the painting of the angelic creature."I find such decoration tasteless and perverse, but it is important to keep reminders of the depths from which one has climbed..." The slug lord extends a stumpy hand, loose skin dangling and dripping slime towards the table. "Sit, let us talk."
The Lord of the Seventh moves up to the table, unable to actually sit down, and turns to glance at the woman seated next to him in the black dress."Baftis, the files?" The woman nods, reaches into a pocket, and produces several sheets of parchment and hands them to Baalzebul quickly, with a slight bow, and Baazebul begins flipping through them. "Normally, it takes a bit longer for us to gather information on unexpected guests, but it seems you come with quite a reputation." He glances at the page. "We have the youngest general the feywild has seen in two millennium, with a rather impressive battle record..." he glances at Aramil with a nod of approval before continuing. "One of Corellon's whipping boys that caused quite a ruckus for my guests earlier and killed a certain Incubus Dellarin." his glance shifts to Eltain for a moment before the slug-lord spits on the floor.
"Hmm...what's this? Silver Dragons? A prophesy about the Prince of Frost?" Baalzebul gives a low laugh as his sickly-green eyes examines Lucan. "You'll be one to watch, that is certain." He continues flipping through the parchment, and turns to face Pavick. "Hmm...'grandmaster'...'beholder'...wait, what's this? 'Collapsed a cavern on a city of Fomorians while leading two hundred gnomes out of the feydark'?" Baalzebul gives another laugh. "About time someone put those insane bug-eyed giants in their place."
Finally he looks at Asheroth. "And here we have one of Mephistopheles' lackies. Let's see..." He glances down the page. "Made a pact and sold your soul, did we? Was this what that little show was for? Try and impress the big dark prince of the frozen hell so he'll give you your soul back? Pitiful." The fat tongue comes out as Baalzebul chuckles to himself. "Of all the devils to tie your soul to, you could not have chosen more poorly."
At this point, Baalzebul has to stop talking as he laughs uproariously to himself. The female devil, Baftis, does not join in, but the scaled humanoid next to Aramil gives a hissing laugh.
"And finally, there's you. The two bulbous eyes lock on the Shepherd, and the laughter in the room immediately stops. "Tell me, **********, how have you fallen in with this lot?" As Baalzebul speaks, the swarm of flies that constantly swarmed around Baalzebul's head began buzzing in a fervor, and whatever the archduke called Shep was distorted and undecipherable from the buzzing sound.
Baalzebul sits back before Shep can answer, and looks over all of the party. "Actually, the more pressing question is why you all are here at all. Your deal with Zorella was done, this has nothing to do with your little war in the feywild. Why are you here?"
In the back of Asheroth's mind, he can feel a slight tingling that lets him know that the imp he sent out has found something, and is seeking him out.
The Shepherd took his seat across from the lord of Maladomini, knowing full well it was better to hold his tongue in his buzzing presence. It did not strike the Shepherd that Baalzebul desired any sort of answer from him, nor his companions; rather it struck him that any question he asked, he already had the answer to, and the slug-lord merely enjoyed the sound of his own voice.
As such, he sat calmly, his hands folded in his lap, and his stony gaze not leaving that dripping, oozing face. The drone of the flies had perhaps been a strange sort of blessing--the Shepherd had lived so long without a name that he enjoyed the safety that it had provided him. He wasn't particularly ready to hear his own name, whatever it might be.
"I chose not, my Lord. The Lord of Cania chose me. For what reason I as yet do not know. You have done your research well. The Lord of Maladomini is correct in assuming, though, that at this time in this place," Ash makes a gesture to the surroundings, "being a servant of Mephistopheles is...inopportune. May I inquier as to why, though gelugons do populate the army, I saw no banner for Cania on any ship in this armada? Truly, such a great force would not neglect to include the Lord of Cania unless something especially egregious had happened." Ash raises an eyebrow quizzically. "And why such a gathering? What great task requires the Lords of Hell to band together so?"
Ash feels the tingle at the back of his mind and sends a quick mental picture of where he is in the yacht. He also instructs the imp to be respectful and quiet as he enters the room.
Diplomacy to speak and act in a way that is acceptable to Baalzebul- (1d20+25)
Eltain begrudgingly moves to the seat marked for him between the Shepherd and Thrull and lays a comforting hand on Shep's larger one. He rolls his eyes at Baalzebul's obvious attempt to get a rise out of him by referring to him as a whipping boy and ignoring most of his accomplishments and smirks. He'd take that one as a compliment, thank you very much. He decides that, given the lack of pleasant things to look at, he might as well look at an unpleasant one, and proceeds to stare directly at Baalzebul, putting on an infuriatingly pleasant meaningless smile of the type usually found on shopkeepers. This was going to be interesting.