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Zyrr's eyes widen in alarm. He begins concocting another lie, but then Baalzebul addresses him by name and he knows all is lost.
The waiter's form gives way to that of a drow, who clings to the faint hope given by the fiends' surprise at the poison itself. "The holy water was my idea. The waiters I impersonated said the poison probably wouldn't slow you down but I thought something more divine would get your attention. As for who ordered the poisoning, I'm afraid the waiters who spiked the wine aren't available for questioning - you can find their bodies probably twenty yards below the barge by now - but they did mention that 'she' would pay them well. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd place the blame on your lovely right hand of Grazz't."
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
Baalzebul pauses for a moment, and a low growl escapes the flat mouth. He pauses, and stares vacantly for a moment. Those of you trained in the arcane arts are quick to recognize a telepathic message, and a few minutes later the door opens and a pair of War Devils step through, Zorella standing between them. It seems evident that Zorella was "escorted" here by the two War Devils, but she strides into the room as if she had chosen to come of her own volition.
"Zorella, this drow seems to think that you tried to poison me. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?" Baalzebul's slug face changes between leering and scowling as he looks at the succubus, whose face has taken on a look of pure innocence.
"Who, me? Well of course it was." She pauses to look over the group, reserving special dagger-filled stares for Shep, Eltain, and Zyrr. "Though you weren't exactly the target..." She sidles up to the Lord of the Seventh, and plants a kiss on the slimey form. "I knew one so mighty as yourself would never succumb to such a foolish prank, but I had hoped to eliminate some of these pesky guests of yours."
Baalzebul pushes the twelve-fingered succubus away, but half-heartedly. "And what gave you the right to poison my guests in the middle of our deliberations?"
"Because there are some who should not be bargained with, but should be killed on sight. I was doing you a favor, great lord. Every moment we leave these creatures alive is a missed opportunity. Whatever deal you were willing to make with them, I assure you I can find someone else to do it. I want their heads. Name your price, and I will pay it."
As she speaks, she walks around the room casually, coming to a stop behind Pavick, and places a twelve-fingered clawed hand on the wizard's shoulders, strumming her fingers casually against the gnome's chest.
Baalzebul looks slightly bemused at this offer of "being willing to pay any price" and takes a moment to open leer at the succubus before glancing at Zyrr and the rest of the party. "Well? Do you have a counter-offer?"
The Shepherd looked up from his needlework, and stared at Zorella over the tips of his glasses. His eyebrows raised ever so slightly.
"Zorella," He began, his voice smooth and deliberate, "My dear, I think if you wish to be taken seriously, you should put on a bit more clothing."
Wasting no more attention on the succubus, the Shepherd turned back to Baalzebul.
"I don't believe we need a counter offer." The Shepherd shrugged. "What could something as lowly as a succubus possess that a devil of your great stature and rank does not have, and could not take by simple force alone?" He returned his eyes to his needlework. "If we're so dangerous that we need to be killed on sight, in her words, then I do think we're a bit more useful and more important than our dear Zorella here. Afterall, I happen to be the great Buzz-Buzz-Buzz, or something."
"And if I might add," He continued, pulling a length of thread up from the canvas, and then looping back down to prick the needle through once again, "I don't think anything she could offer is quite worth the price." The Shepherd bit the string, and tied it into a knot on the other side of the canvas. "I don't know about you, but if an underling presumed to speak and decide for me, I certainly wouldn't reward her. That might give others the impression that I was weak." He shrugged nonchalantly, examining his handiwork. "But that's just me."
Last edited by Haberdashery : 10-08-2012 at 04:51 PM.
Lucan stands up and draws his bow. He nocks an arrow and pulls back, sighting it straight at Zorella. "I have an offer, Your Grace," Lucan says. "We can rid you of this backstabbing worm who would presume to decide whom you should or should not deal with. What other plots do you think she has going? Why is she so afraid of us? There's something she's not saying."
Let's see how well Lucan's flair for the dramatic serves him.
Baalzebul takes a moment to consider the Shepherd's words."An interesting argument, but since you have shown no interest in working with me, I can't say I'm finding any reason that I should keep you alive, nor do I have reason to doubt that Zorella can deliver on her promises." As Lucan stands up and nocks an arrow, a wicked grin spreads across the archdevil's face. "Ah, now this is the type of initiative I can work with. Your companion make an interesting point about presumptuous underlings. A worm, you called her? Let us make this title more fitting." The archduke turns to the two wardevils, and nods towards Zorella. "The wings."
Zorella's eyes dart from the arrow Lucan has pointed at her to the War devils to Baalzebul, but before she can react the War Devils take a place at either side of her. "Wait, what are you doing? I -AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" her voice raises to a scream of pain as each War Devil takes a wing and rips it from the succubus' body. Zorella collapses to the floor in spasms of pain, black ichor flowing out of the stubbed remains of her bat-like wings. The two War Devils toss the ripped wings at Baalzebul's feet, still twitching and sending blood splattering across the floor.
Above the moans and whimperings of Zorella, Baalzebul gives a low laugh. "Now, Mr. Thoene. Since you seem so eager to rid me of my enemies, perhaps you've reconsidered my earlier offer?"
"Your offer?" Lucan asks. "You mean to escape my destiny?" He tilts his head a bit. "Destiny's a funny thing, and games of chance and fate tend to go my way. I'd rather see where it leads than try to escape it."
Baalzebul scowls at Lucan's refusal, and turns back to face the Shepherd. "Assuming I've sufficiently address your very touching concern that I appear weak, Perhaps you could expound to me the reasons that you seem to think that you're very important and worth keeping around?" His eyes drift back to the bile on the floor that was spewed after he drank the holy-water tainted wine.
"And I'm afraid you'll need to do better than 'Zorella wants us dead, so you should keep us alive.' She may be a glorified whore who has attracted the approval of some demon-lord," He stops to sneer at Zorella, whose screams have subsided to a whimper. "But she is technically on my side."
"My soul is Hell's, unless I can recover it somehow. But I wouldn't want to make a deal and get my soul back, only to once again forfeit it to you." Derision drips from Asheroth's words. "But this is beside the point. She," Ash indicates the pathetic succubus cringing on the floor, "obviously didn't care about your welfare. Though she intimated that she wouldn't have expected you to succumb to the poison, and that it was merely meant to dispatch some of the here seated, I wonder if your immediate question to Zyrrdellin might have been more apt an inquiry than your last. What demon-lord would be foolish enough to poison you? The culprit at hand--Zorella, did you say your name was?--the Right Hand of Grazz't, did not deny the act. It seems you may have your demon lord. Yet you do not seem phased by the mention of the Demon Prince's name. The traitor. Technically she is on your side? How could you ever say that a servant of a Demon Prince is an ally?" Ash raises an eyebrow.
"Had I but known that she was a demon loyalist, I would have killed her myself. I still have half a mind to finish the job. I am a demon-hunter after all."
"I make it; you buy it."
Last edited by Orsik Vondal : 10-09-2012 at 05:26 PM.
Once Zorella releases his shoulders as the war devils drag her backwards by the wings, Pavick stands up on his chair and turns around. He watches over the back of his chair as they rip her wings from her shoulders and leave her whimpering in a bloody heap on the floor. The expression on his face reads as absolute pity. The could never get used to the vile acts that fiends could commit without even a moment's thought.
Pavick turns back to face Baalzebul, "What a way you treat each other for being on the same side. First she tries to poison you, then you have her mamed in return. And you expect us to want to join your side? What guarantees would we have that we would come out of the deal ahead?"
Baalzebul looks to the Shepherd. "I believe he just answered your question." He points a slime-coated finger towards Asheroth. "I can use a set of hunters. Your little display in the arena tells me that you can handle yourself in a fight, and some tasks are best accomplished by those without the sterling reputation of my kin."
Looking at the gnome, Baalzebul sneers. "Here's how you can come out ahead." He strides over to one of the windows of the room, and points to a small entertainment arena below, where some sort of profane ritual was in progress. One of the rituals seemed to focus on an unholy altar, made of humanoid skulls. "If you don't agree to this, you won't have a head at all." He snaps his fingers with a wet *schhlick* and an charcoal black piece of paper and fiery red pen appears in his hand. "Now, are we ready to make a deal, or do you need a lesson in humility like our dear Zorella here?"
He motions to the succubus who has ceased her screaming, and has clawed her way back to a shaky standing position, blood and ichor still flowing freely down her back. She stumbles into Pavick, her blood staining the gnome's robes as she reaches to stable herself on the table. Rather than her normal glares, she seems to be focused on avoiding meeting Baalzebul's gaze.
OOC: Could I get a perception check from Pavick, Lucan & Aramil?
The dead embers in Ash's eyes flare with a little life. The appearance of the infernal contract brings back memories of a time in the past. A moment of weakness. Ash fights to keep the anger from spilling out. "I'm not sure whether you didn't hear me, or if you only disregarded what I just said." Ash abruptly stands from his seat and stride around the table to the side opposite Baalzebul. As he passes Pavick, Ash grabs the succubus by the upper arm and shoves her away from his friend and back to the floor; a look of malice upon his face. "Back off, wench! Lord Baalzebul, I will not be signing anything coming from you. And I'd wager that my companions will have similar answers."
Pavick looks shocked, his hand immediately darts up his sleeve to check on Slick. After doing a quick check tactile check for anything else that might be up there, Pavick pulls out his familiar and cradles him in his arms. "Is anything wrong Slick? Did the mean lady try anything?"
As Pavick whips out his snake, he can see that Slick is almost completely rigid, and strange black glutinous substance seems to be working its way through the snake's veins.
As Asheroth finally gives a firm rejection, Baalzebul simply glances to the other devils in the room, and mutters "Alright, kill them."
Before the words are even out of Baalzebul's mouth, Zorella reaches for Asheroth's, as if she was trying to place his entire face in her palm. Luckily for Asheroth, the succubus' twisted arm and missing wings throw her off just enough that the tiefling is able to duck underneath Zorella's outstretched arms, and the fiend's hand passes harmlessly over Asheroth's head. However, you can't help but notice that a thick black smoke seems to be emanating from each of her outstretched fingertips.
The Shepherd didn't move from his seat, still sitting politely, as if the faux-dinner was still in effect, and proper manners needed to be observed. He sat straighter, however, and taller, and when he spoke, his voice rumbled with the thunder of a fresh rainstorm.
"That seems like quite waste, Lord Baalzebul." He broke the gathering electricity in the room.
"You gain nothing from attempting to kill us. If you observe this little band's history, very little they do goes awry."
The Shepherd flexed the muscles in his neck, and a loud crack broke across the table.
Baalzebul holds up a finger, and the other fiends in the room immediately stop moving. "You surrender your life and soul as a willing prisoner, and I'll send them all back to the spelljammer and guarantee their safe passage out of the fleet. Deal?" He picks up the red pen and extends it toward the Shepherd.
As soon as the document touches the table, Aramil's sword comes down on top of it as he slides it to himself. "Eltain's right. I will not allow you to throw yourself away like this. Pavick, if you would please get the door, I believe we are late for appointments elsewhere."
The pen was still in the Shepherd's hand. His shoulders rose and fell with the might of a great sigh.
"Perhaps we can not start with bravado, this time." He began calmly, slowly. "I appreciate your concern, but this is my decision to make. I am the one that got all of you into this situation, and now I am going to be the one to get you out of it. Running away will do nothing. The devils will merely follow us wherever we go, and we have more than enough enemies at the moment. There is nowhere left to run."
He turned his head to the slug-duke, his black eyes dull.
"I presume there isn't a shortage of paper in the Nine Hells."
Zyrr clears his throat, and after glaring at the medusa who refuses to keep his hands off his person, turns his attention to the paper. "As much as I hate to throw the Shepherd away so soon after he came back to us, I can't outright oppose his decision to throw himself away. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to read the contract first." The group could possibly argue the pro's and con's of such a deal, but certainly not while devils are in the room.
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
Pavick stands on his chair, cradling Slick in one arm. His face a picture of chaotic emotion. "Shep, no PLEASE don't!" He grimaces, then takes a short deep breath. "I've got it! I know what we need to do! Trust me, Shep. Come on! And somebody grab the b****. I'd like a word with her."
He turns behind the chair and with his free arm draws a large circle in the air. Through his gestures and words, Pavick seems to be feeding the ritual with his very life force. His face goes pale and his knees weaken as the gate wavers into existence. He leans back against the back of the chair pitching it backwards from the table and he, chair and all, goes tumbling backwards through the portal.
"Well that solves that, I guess!" Zyrr quips as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an Alchemist's Fire. He tosses it out the window to warn the crew of the 'Jammer. At the very least it'll give them a sliver of a chance to escape. He then disappears in a cloud of fey smoke, melting away from the medusa's grasp.
Using Shadowstep to teleport away from the Medusa and flee for the portal.
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
"It seems my friend has yet need of you, wench!" With that Ash throws his rope around Zorella and runs through the portal. When he reaches the other side, his feet and legs become like iron and dig into the ground. He braces himself and wraps the end of the rope around his arm for leverage. "Lucan! Captain! Help me drag this whore through!"
Iron Aspect of Dispater when Ash gets to the other side of the portal. Ash is immune to forced movement.