Part two of the ongoing adventures of my group. Original google doc here.
Rogues Gallery – “General Puggin’s Moribund of Mercenaries”*
- The Rogue – Giselle der Gauner the Soulknife due to a mutation granting her telekinetic powers (character #2, previous character was Mirka the Rogue – Deceased)
- The Monk – Augusta “Tof” Bamberger and her henchmen Elmo the Ranger and pet pug General Puggins.
- The Druid – Lilie the Elf and her henchmen Wolfram and animal companion Fuyuko, the white wolf.
- The Knight – Lintelfaden Toshcobble, squire of Rufus the Bold.
- The Fighter – Fencil the Android (brain tape swap) (Character #2, previous character was a cleric – Deceased) and his (henchmen Zof the Jarhead Wizard – Deceased).
- The Ranger – Bustov Daman and his animal companion, The Mou-Mou Bird (bloodthirsty sparrow).
- The Cleric – Lorenz Brandt (character #2), the scribe, Mouthpiece of the Golden Goddess (human cleric of UNITY).
*Due to a transcription error by the Verbobonc mercenary company registrar, “Merry” become “Moribund.”
Session 59 Recap
Fensal sat atop of KITT, admiring the golden light of the setting sun filtering through the leaves. The verdant forest wasn’t harmed too much despite their escape from the hill giants and, now that there was no more fear of such creatures, it had a rather tranquil atmosphere; especially at this time of day. They had decided to stay in the forest rather than returning to the city to look out for any other giant stragglers from the battle or reinforcements but their worries were unfounded.
Once Augusta had returned from Luna Castellum, they could return to explore the rest of the steading. There were a few upgrades she wanted to perform at the Manufactorum and Lorenz had to rest anyways due to his migraine from the File of Fate so the timing worked out for her.
“Fensal!” Aki called. “Gisella’s done cooking!”
“Alright, I’ll be there!” Fensal replied, jumping off of KITT. “Is Lintelfaden back yet?”
“Nope, he’s still looking for a house in Istivin I think. Just like how he bought one in Verbobonc.”
“Do not worry,” KITT assured the two of them. “If the monk returns through me I will be sure to notify you.”
“She isn’t back?” Aki asked, surprised and worried. “It only takes a day or two to get to the Manufactorum and back.”
Fensal shook his head. “Not through this way at least. I am worried though, a grendel queen had recently made level 4 her territory… But even then she wouldn’t encounter the queen and she could outrun the hunters.”
Once the party found out she wasn’t back, they immediately got ready to head into Luna Castellum. The higher levels weren’t dangerous to them in the least except for the grendel nest on level 4 and their queen. That high of a threat belonged on the lower ranks, past even level 10, but perhaps the other queen they found at level 13 was what forced this one so close to the beginning.
The teleportation circle in KITT sent them straight to Kwalish’s lab and he confirmed he did see Augusta a few days ago. But only for that brief period and she hasn’t returned. If she wasn’t with him the only other place she could be was at the manufactorum… or somewhere in the nest but that was something they didn’t want to think about.
As they hurried through the halls, Gisella spotted a few red-leafed veggie pygmies shadowing them from a distance. And, as they pushed on, they could hear hundreds of footsteps marching further ahead like a horde.
“That’s a lot of pygmies,” Fensal muttered, seeing waves upon waves pass by through a door left ajar.
“Why are there so many?” Aki asked. “Are they not happy here? There’s never this many moving together unless it’s to move or expand their territory.”
Luckily, this was a faction they were familiar with and their leader was a known friend. A jawline so defined and pure it put diamonds to shame, an exposed chest with perfect muscles that could bend admantime, and perpetually flowing hair as if there was always a vent beside him…
This was none other than Veggie Pygmy Chad, a magnet for women and the envy of men.
At his command, the horde stopped their advance and he leapt off his cactus horse, a pineto. “Heroes! Your appearance in our time of darkness is not coincidence, once again you are here to aid me and my people to victory against the unyielding and festering evil!”
“Eh? What?” Lorenz stuttered. “The darkness?”
“The grendel spawn are constantly expanding and will become uncontrolled unless we stop them immediately. They are already raiding our brothers on level 5; this infestation must be cut off! At the root! And burned to cinders!”
“Level 5?!” Aki gasped. “Wait, we have to help them right away! My people are being attacked!”
“Then we shall destroy the grendel spawn without hesitation!” Bustov declared.
Chad waited at the entrance to level 4 at the ready, waiting for the party to send him the signal to attack; a small pouch filled with the fireflies that made up his halo. They still needed to make sure Augusta wasn’t on level 6 and, if she was, she could definitely help them in the battle. Sneaking past the grendel spawn, the entire level was like a hive, not a bit of green anywhere on the ground, walls, or trees. The place was void of life save the hunters patrolling the edge, begging for the order to raid the lower levels as soon as possible.
And the death and decay had spread to level 5 and to the pygmies’ forest. Aki was relieved to see most of her family and her people were safe, only forced back to the edge of their territory to avoid conflict as much as possible. They could handle a few hunters but not when a swarm suddenly raided their level without warning.
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna get rid of that queen,” Aki assured her people.
“Another android came past here not too long ago,” her father said, pointing towards the elevator to the manufactorum. “She killed a few hunters that still remained and hurried to the lower levels.”
As if she heard them, the elevator opened and Augusta hopped out, surprised to see the party right at the entrance. “What are you doing here?”
“We came to get you,” Lorenz explained.
“Aww, you guys care about me? It brings a tear to my eye.”
“Now that you’re here we can go fight the grendel queen.”
She dashed in front of the party and blocked them from returning to the higher levels. “Hold on, we’re fighting that thing?! The hunters are tough enough!”
Fensal shrugged and scratched the back of his head. “Well… we didn’t really have a choice. Chad and his pygmies are going to attack soon and Aki’s tribe is getting exterminated. Now’s our best shot since they can distract the hunters and eviscerators.”
“We have to go now,” Aki demanded, adamantly refusing anyone or anything that dared put off the attack. “I’ll release the fireflies for Chad.”
She opened a small pouch and the bright green bugs scattered to her soft breath, slowly flying back to their master. As soon as they reached Chad, they began to form a small halo above his head like they were doing before and it was time for the greatest battle of their pygmy lives.
The party rushed towards the queen as chaos ensued between the grendel spawn and the pygmies. So. Many. Pygmies. Even Aki’s tribe joined in and a wave of red and green leaves swamped the enemy and knocked even the bigger eviscerators to the ground. The frontline of mushroom men took the first blow followed by pygmies on thornies charging forth; a chaotic rank of foot soldiers joined the fray and those at the back beat heavy drums or blew horns to boost morale.
Hissing and scraping their claws against the adamantine walls, the grendels loved nothing more than to fight and tear through weaklings, gladly leaping into the wave regardless of their own safety. More and more of them began to join the battle, crawl out of cavities in the walls, or run along the roof to drop onto the pinetos. The whole fight was a brutal slaughter of both parties.
But one stood out among the rest and established fear in the enemies eyes, something they didn’t feel when fighting regular veggiepygmies. None other than Chad launched multiple of these monsters off their feet with a single swing off his mighty hammer, ignoring their attacks and letting them break their claws on his chiseled bod. The picture of beauty, hope incarnate for the pygmies, so big and strong and weally cool and-
As the party headed deeper into the level, it began to fill with a new form of life… black ooze filled with eggs and other revolting creatures akin to maggots. A wretched stench clogged their noses as they headed deeper into the hive and towards the nest where the queen slept.
Forcing open a broken door, they entered a room covered in eggs. The entire floor, stretching up along the walls, even on the roof they could see small lifeforms being created within. There was nowhere to stand without crushing multiple shells. The only source of light came from the alien glow from within the eggs or a faint blue flash from sparking electricity along the walls… and tracing that light led them to the queen hanging from the roof.
The massive alien bared her fangs and grinded her claws along the roof regardless of her own eggs, glaring at the party with six red eyes. She kicked off the roof and crashed to the ground, landing heavily on all fours and shaking the room, forcing the party away with a blast of wind. Her black scales rose and fell with her breathing and her tail poised above her head like a stinger as she watched the party cautiously.
“Go all out from the get-go,” Lorenz ordered, slamming Bustov’s shoulder and supercharging him with energy. “Light her up!”
The queen swiftly dodged the arrow despite her size and buried underground. Only now did the party realize that there were so many eggs in the room, the actual adamantine floor was far below them. An ear-piercing shriek warned them off her attack and she burst out from the ‘ground’ separating and breaking the party’s formation with ease.
Gisella’s razor daggers and Fensal’s bullets couldn’t fully pierce through her carapace like it had with other grendel spawn. The queen shrugged off their attacks and rushed towards the android fighter, barely missing him with a swift tail jab.
“That was close!” Fensal coughed, tumbling to the ground. The queen’s tail pierced through the adamantine wall with ease and filled the hole with eggs. “That’s freaking terrifying!”
Grendel spawn were brutes, wildly attacking anything that got in their way, resorting to violence if anything approached them. The queen was no exception but she had the armour to resist their blows… and her eyes darted from enemy to enemy, trying to assess who would be the most dangerous to her. Her attacks were wild but they weren’t random.
“How do you like this?!” Bustov snapped and released his powerful explosive shot. It struck the queen directly in the head and imploded, releasing crystalline mist and knocking her to the ground.
And the light of furious crimson eyes pierced through the smoke.
“She didn’t like that, she didn’t like that!” he panicked and leapt away from her razor claws.
Her stomach began to glow and heat up and she vomited a wave of acid at the party. The more dextrous ones easily escaped but the same couldn’t be said for those in armour. The actual acid didn’t threaten them too much and didn’t melt through their protective gear but what was in it made them gag. Maggots; so many baby grendels burrowing into their skin.
Luckily, her rapid movements began to slow and Lorenz fired a bullet into the air. It burst into a healing mist and rained down on the party, closing their wounds and forcing the babies out. He was quick to disengage and let Fensal tank the hits from the queen, relying on his superior dexterity and enhanced armour to take the blows. Gisella attacked from the sky and channeled her telekinesis into destructive blasts while Augusta and Squeakers flanked from behind.
“Don’t let up!” Gisella ordered and a beam of magic mixed with telekinesis pierced through the queen. “Make the most out of this opening!”
“ß∂ƒ∂†§†,” the queen cursed in an alien language and mouths began to open up on her body and speak with her. Magic shut down around her, technological weapons lost their power, and Gisella’s rays bounced harmlessly off her skin.
“Antimagic?!” Lorenz gasped. “It shuts down tech weapons like my spell! A blasphemy!”
Her one spell completely nullified the effectiveness of any and all melee attacks and she turned her attention to Bustov, firing icy arrows at will away from the fray.
“You’re fighting me!” Fensal interrupted and pulled her attention with a shot to her eye. He created a crimson target around himself, goading her to focus on him rather than his allies.
And she gladly did so. She shrieked and leapt at the android, breaking the ground around him and knocking him into the air. It was unreal how fast she was and her tail instantly slammed him into the wall and covered his body with maggots. In the same attack her claws shredded through her eggs and into the adamantine walls with ease as if slicing through butter.
“Fensal!” Augusta panicked. Her eyes glowed as the spirit which haunted her soul split itself from her body. “Let him go!”
The queen hardly felt her blow but Chuckie manifested and grabbed her tail. To her and the entire party’s shock, he flipped the queen off her feet and slammed her into the ground with a mighty shoulder throw. The flow of combat suddenly halted and it gave the party a few seconds to take a breath and quickly regroup and heal.
“I can cleanse her poison and exterminate the babies!” Aki told Lorenz, rushing to Fensal’s side. “You focus on healing wounds!”
“Can you supercharge Fensal?!” Gisella cried, focusing all of her telekinesis just to delay the queen a second longer. Thankfully it was an innate ability rather than a spell or she would have no hold on her.
“I can’t,” Lorenz cursed. “As soon as he gets close her antimagic field will disperse the magic instantly! Don’t you dare let her get close to Bustov, he’s the strongest out of all of us right now!”
The brief respite was over and the queen broke Gisella’s hold and got back on her feet. The mouths along her body began to utter new words and their alien voice filled the room in song. The words were filled with a strange power and their minds began to ache but it wasn’t magic. Her voice and the alien language confused them and Gisella dropped from the sky, unable to focus on her telekinesis.
The tide of battle was suddenly against them as her song stopped nearly the whole party from acting as they wanted to. Bustov, Aki, and Lorenz were able to ignore and resist her surprisingly beautiful voice but the others had their free will stolen from them. She regurgitated another wave of acid and eggs at Augusta and Elmo and they were unable to avoid it, still struggling against her voice, and were hit with the full force of the attack.
Bustov’s attacks still rang true and she began to grow furious with his deadly arrows. Each one made her scales brittle but everytime she tried to charge him, she was held back by either Augusta or Fensal. Even now, barely in control of themselves, they still stopped her from charging him.
And now Lorenz’s laser pierced through her armour and also appeared as a threat on her radar. Her mind raced to think of a plan and, without wasting a moment, she formulated one instantly: Crush the weakest target first.
Her tail crushed Augusta and flicked her to the wall while her antimagic field stripped Fensal of his protection and her claws cut through his armour. Though they hurt, she ignored Bustov’s attacks and focused on eliminating those under the spell of her song.
Suddenly, time froze. Only Lorenz could move and the clock by his head began to rapidly tick by. He couldn’t keep up with her power or damage with his healing at all, this was the only time he could heal everyone and it would severely drain his well of remaining magic. Still, he focused everything he had into Fensal to keep him alive and save him from a lethal blow, knowing if he went down, everyone would soon follow after.
Wait, that’s it?! He cursed, looking at his time. Tch, that’s not enough! I need more time to heal!
Regardless, the timestop ended and the File of Fate closed, leaving him with a migraine. The queen stared at her empty claw, trying to find her target that was right there, but Fensal was able to escape just in time with renewed strength-
The mouths along her body started yet another song and those who heard it felt sluggish. Her songs blended perfectly together and they even sought to call her children towards her; if it weren’t for the veggiepygmies they would have been overrun.
“You got a plan?!” Fensal yelled, barely avoiding the queen’s claws.
“I’m thinking!” Lorenz snapped, shaking his head. “Gisella!”
But the rogue was still confused from the first song. So was Augusta, Squeakers, and Elmo. The only ones fighting right now were Lorenz, Fensal, Aki, and Bustov.
Now just Lorenz, Aki, and Bustov.
Fensal protected the cleric but was completely overpowered as he was crushed and flung across the room. The queen was infuriated, as if struggling to crush a fly, and seemed to have a sense of satisfaction now that she had finally dealt with the hindrance.
As her eyes darted to Bustov, she caught a glimpse of another bug using the shadows to conceal herself: Aki. She continued to cleanse the poison from the queen and the babies unnoticed but she was now like a deer in the headlights with Fensal out of the way.
“Don’t touch her!” Bustov roared and the ice from the Lenz climbed to his shoulder.
His shot finally broke through her armour and struck her vulnerable flesh, causing her to shriek in pain and instantly change targets. Bustov was unfazed as she charged towards him and continued to let loose shot after shot and destroyed her scales. The queen leapt for him but he still fired one last shot into her mouth, bypassing her resistances entirely right before his supercharged systems entered her antimagic field range.
And in a few seconds, both he and Aki were swatted like flies. Only Lorenz was able to move as he wanted to and he still couldn’t save them.
This is really, really bad, Lorenz panicked. It’s just me now. C’mon, Gisella! Augusta! Please snap out of her song!
The queen, though heavily wounded, didn’t see him as a threat and slowly crawled towards him. She raised her claw above her head and crushed him, tearing through with her claws…
But there was no one there.
A shot to her back pulled her attention and she swung without looking, slashing right through the cleric…
And right through a hologram.
Five clerics surrounded her and fired laser after laser, begging her to die before she found the real one. They were evasive thanks to the iron wings on their legs and avoided her attacks, making finding the real one even harder. She tore through the area wildly and finally caught another ‘Lorenz’.
She charged towards another and swung with her tail as well as her claws, cutting off every escape route.
The remaining holograms surrounded the real Lorenz and continued to move erratically, baiting her to attack the wrong one again. One in three, he thought. There’s a one in three chance we live! C’mon, C’mon, C’mon; hit another duplicate you stupid alien!
A mighty quake shook the room and snapped everyone out of their confusion as the queen slammed the ground and sent splits throughout her lair. Skymetal plating fell from the walls along with the alien eggs and the flickering lights lost their power and shattered; the queen’s song stopped and the room filled with the cries of battle was silenced.
Smoke began to rise from beneath the queen and Lorenz and a single duplicate pulled himself out from underneath her, tearing through her scales and chest with the fusion torch and melting a hole in her heart. Purple blood began to pour from the massive wound and a pool was created beneath the lifeless queen as she collapsed.
Muttering faint words of power, he fired one more bullet into the sky that burst in a weak wave of healing magic before he collapsed from exhaustion. It wasn’t long before the veggiepygmies charged in and raided the lair, rushing towards the party and carrying them all back to their forest. The grendel spawn scattered with the death of their queen and were too afraid to fight even the weaker pygmies with drums or horns. The hive was destroyed and, though it was much too close for comfort, the party had won.
Bustov shot up with a start, clutching his chest and breathing quickly. He glanced around the room and tried to grab his weapon usually on his back but the battle was already over. Lorenz sighed heavily in the infirmary and Aki gave the ranger a tight hug.
“W- Where am I?” Bustov stuttered, glancing around the small room.
“Level six,” Lorenz explained. “We got to Fensal in time after the fight with the queen but you and Aki didn’t make it.”
“I was so worried the spell would fail!” Aki cried. “Wait here, Bustov, I’ll go get the doctor!”
“Hahaha, what does that make me then?”
As she ran out, Bustov scratched his chin and started doing some basic math in his head. “Did anyone else die?”
“No one else, thank goodness,” Lorenz assured.
“Hmm, and Aki was already awake when you ressed me?”
“How many days did you wait before bringing me back?”
“Uh… Heh, it isn’t that important-”
Aki jumped in surprise as Lorenz sprinted full speed out of the infirmary as Bustov hunted him with a scalpel or hurling needles as if they were darts.
The party had to rest for over a week after their grueling fight and spent their time either at the Manufactorum or at Aki’s forest (or fleeing for a certain cleric). They felled the grendel queen to help Chad and the pygmies with or without a reward but they couldn’t believe their eyes when the greatest pygmy of all arrived to the Manufactorum with chests and chests filled with glittering gold. He had completely emptied out the nest and, beneath all of those eggs, were riches beyond their belief. The last time they had this much money was when they defeated Olhydra and they blew it all at a bar and on magic items.
“A potion of… stone giant strength,” Gisella identified, handing the small bottle to Fensal. “Right that down.”
“Stone giant strength?” he echoed. “Huh, that’s unfortunate.”
“We almost got wiped by the queen for that and a random orc had a potion of storm giant strength in his crusty shoe.”
“I didn’t think about that…”
Lorenz’s eyes glittered at the sight of the platinum coins slipping through his fingers. “Hahaha, don’t mind that; look at how much there is!”
“It is fitting for the heroes to be rewarded!” Chad declared, flicking back his hair. A pygmy beside him held a fan up at the perfect angle. “I thank you for your aid in the battle against that juvenile!”
“Wait, juvenile?” Augusta asked.
“Of course! If she was full grown like the one on level 13 we wouldn’t be here! Ahahahaha!”
“Oh… that was a teenager. Right.”
“We would’ve been dead meat! Ahahahaha! I will see you all later, my dear friends, don’t go biting off more than you can chew!”
A week later they weren’t back to full health but they didn’t want to put off the steading any longer just in case the giants returned. Advancing their healing with magic, they were ready to head in towards the steading; nothing could be worse than the grendel queen. Luckily, no one had returned to reclaim the steading and they were able to return back down to the basement where they had to retreat.
The dark halls were now completely void of any illumination and they had to re-light the burnt torches as they went by. As they expected, they found a row of cells in a dusty hallway and there were a few imprisoned elves, dwarves, and humans inside, tense and wary of the party’s next move. That last thing they expected were the locks to be melted off with a fusion torch but they wouldn’t complain about freedom.
“Thank goodness you arrived!” an elf thanked them. “The giants hadn’t come down here in over a week and we were afraid we would starve to death.”
That’s totally our fault. Gisella thought. “Oh, is that so? Well, we’ll be able to take you back to Geoff in no time. But are there any other prisoners around here?”
The elf pointed towards where he had heard other dwarves and elves and his intuition was correct, leading them directly to another, longer row of cages where many more civilians were waiting to be freed. Some were chained to the walls, others were trapped in a giant’s room and unable to open the door, while even more were tied by ball and chain in what looked like a smithing room. All in all, over two dozen people had been captured in the raid and couldn’t be more thankful that the party had saved them.
Aki summoned some food and water to stave off their hunger while the rest of the team checked the rest of the underground for more survivors.
“Shh!” Bustov hissed, stopping everyone from advancing. He pointed up ahead and the party spotted a creature that looked like a large floating head. “Something’s there.”
They monitored the monster for a bit and four eye stalks peered around the room, looking through the trash and even melting some out of the way. No doubt it was a beholder but it was weaker and didn’t have all of its eyes.
“Still dangerous, though,” Lorenz warned. “But it doesn’t know of our presence.”
“Let’s just jump it,” Augusta suggested. “On my count: Three… two- GO!”
Lasers, daggers, telekinetic rays, bullets, axes, blazing hammers, scrap metal and even a random cat were hurled at the beholder. It exploded in seconds and the party still continued to attack, summoning robots, holograms, setting crimson sightlights at the corpse, and throwing everything they had at the creature. The area imploded as Augusta hurled in a grenade and the entire cave shook from the impact.
“Nothing left!” Gisella laughed. “Maybe we went a little overboard?”
“Hey, I’d fight this over a grendel queen any day of the week!” Squeakers sighed. “I can actually attack it!”
A huge explosion to their left followed by Bustov cheering snapped their attention. “Got them!”
“Another enemy?!” Lorenz asked, readying his rifle.
“All defeated, thanks to yours truly!”
He had nuked a couple of crocodiles in a cave.
“Oh…” Fensal muttered. “I thought it was another beholder or something.”
“Beholder?!” Bustov gasped. “What?! Where?!”
“How did you miss it- You know? I’m not even going to ask.”
“Hey guys!” Augusta cried from another room. “I think you should look at this!”
They found the monk standing before an altar in a dark room. She had managed to break the lock to this secluded area clearly prohibited to anyone. The door was too small for giants and a thin layer of dust had begun to form on the altar to a god they were very familiar with. Above it was a symbol of a black triangle with an eye at its center; the ‘holy’ symbol of the Evil Elemental Eye. It could be coincidence, and they hoped it was, but the remains of the elemental cults could be working with the giants.
Though, to bring back the Elemental Eye, they had to summon all four Evil Elemental Princes but there were no prophets and all the weapons were destroyed save Windvane. But that spear was at the bottom of hell with Juiblex, the Lord of Slime. But it was still worrying to see an altar beneath a hill giant steading clearly not meant for giants to enter.
Evidence of the cults and of the other giant factions working together for an unknown cause. What they knew needed to be thoroughly reviewed and layed out on the table but they prioritized the safety of the hostages. Guiding them back to KITT, they safely escorted them all back to Geoff where they had the time and safety to plan their next move.