Entries are sporadic, but this is the first log of a ToEE adventure that somehow turned into an Expedition to the Silver Mount. You can find it here.
Rogues Gallery – The Hommlet Raiders
- The Rogue – Giselle der Gauner (character #2, previous character was Mirka the Rogue)
- 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 (Character #2, previous character was a cleric) and his henchmen Zof the Jarhead Wizard.
- The Ranger – Bustov Daman and his animal companion The Mou-Mou Bird (bloodthirsty sparrow).
- The Wizard – Boris the Jaws-Dodger.
- The Cleric – Lorenz Brandt (character #2), the scribe.
Session 21 Recap
“How long until you get me those android bodies?” Kwalish sighed as the party returned to his lab yet again. “They’re taking up precious space in my lab.” He didn’t turn to look at them, dangerously flipping concoctions and other vials in the air as he worked. “And I want you to put down the glass medusa, cleric!”
“Then you’ll teach me more on how to actually build a robot?” Lorenz clarified.
Collecting an absurd amount of robot parts was the first step but actually assembling them all together was a different task entirely. He had grilled the party on how to save the most parts of any robot, the main step being to not blow them up with lightning, but he wasn’t sure how much actually got through to the team.
Determined to find the Manufactorum, the search constantly being delayed as they got repeatedly distracted, they pushed on back to level 4. They were able to lay low and avoid the law enforcement agencies much to Lorenz’s disappointment and it was a smooth descent. Everyone was ready and well-equipped to take on the challenges of the new floors.
“What happened to you?” Lilie asked Augusta, wondering if the new appendages were Shen’s fault.
Augusta glanced at the tiny wings on her back, resembling featherless chicken wings, boney and black. “Oh, the wings? They’re the curse from the pinions since Shen is selling us second-hand magic items. Although, I finally don’t have to punch solid steel so that’s a plus.”
Bustov, who had brought Autumn to the ship for some reason, handed her a little yellow bird hardly the size of her palm. “This is the Moi Moi bird. A very powerful creature that only the most experienced could control. And I have made it my familiar.”
He constantly taught her about everything he knew whether it was relevant or not. How to properly nock an arrow and aim was soon followed by how much he could bench with or without Moi Moi’s cheering. She took note of everything he said with utmost seriousness but really struggled to connect any of the information he gave.
“Don’t worry,” he assured. “You don’t need to fight yet, we’re still training. Just watch from behind how a master ranger does the job.”
They returned to the gardens and the remains of the gardening robot were where they left it, broken and destroyed after a powerful lightning bolt. But the remains were strangely organised and parts didn’t litter the floor but were neatly placed in a pile. They were separated between useless pieces of metal, scraps, and junk, while the other was filled with technological valuables. It was impossible to tell what exactly was in the valuable stack but some of it glittered, some sparkled, some glowed with a blue light; it wasn’t a surprise that Lorenz was the first to try and grab some of the goodies.
But a humming sound stopped him in his tracks. Three spherical robots stopped their work and revealed themselves, slowly floating into view from behind the remains. Its tentacles were dismantling garden robot with ease, stripping it of useless and powerful items. They scanned the trash for treasure, but they turned their attention to the party as they cautiously entered the room. Luckily, they weren’t hostile and went back to their work after a successful scan.
Gisella, enticed by the synthetic voice, slipped past the Dismantlers and further into the room. “Who or what is singing back there?”
“It could be just a recording…” Lorenz guessed. “I don’t think anyone can stay here safely anymore, some of the machines are breaking free of UNITY’s control.”
The thought of finding the source disinterested Lintelfaden and she waltzed up to the Dismantlers, wishing to get a better look at their work or the parts they had ripped out. Now that she could understand how technological items really worked, an interest in them had welled up inside of her. But the Dismantlers couldn’t care less for anyone’s ‘interest’ in their important work. Their passive azure eyes flashed and turned a blood red as their claws spun like drills, ready to rip through the space marine armour.
“Why did you make them-” Augusta began but was interrupted by dozens of squawking birds, bursting into the room and flying to the ceiling. They resembled storks in a way, pure white, long neck and legs, but their lack of a beak was unsettling. Even more so as a worm crawled out between its breast, screeched, then hid itself once more within the feathers.
Lilie shivered and prepared to run. “That’s definitely not normal… Even if it is mutated it’s freaky.”
Bustov tried to hide in the foliage but Moi Moi bird began to screech along with the mutant storks, as if calling out to them. The noise attracted one of the Dismantlers and it broke off from the rest, charging straight for him. They checked the room for the most technologically equipped member and prepared to destroy their weapons.
A fear was immediately planted within the party as their irreplaceable technology was destroyed within seconds. Even armour or weapons began to break as the claws crushed metal with the same ease it broke simple wood or leather; not even magic items escaped undamaged when struck.
The screeching birds sent shivers down their spines and began to regurgitate webs from the mouth of the worm. Strangely, they only targeted Augusta and tried to pin her down, but her dextrous skills were unmatched and wouldn’t be caught in a simple web.
“Let’s get out of here!” Lintelfaden ordered, struggling to fight off the Dismantlers which had already pierced her armour. “I don’t want to risk any of our technology!”
Lilie, who had already lost her armour, was way ahead and had left the room. “I’m waiting for you!”
As Lilie escaped using everyone else as cover, the Dismantler targeting her turned its attention to Fensal. For its size its speed was shocking and closed the gap immediately, damaging the pistol before he could pull away.
Within moments, the party pulled away from the Dismantlers, not wanting to risk their items. One by one, Bustov and Linetlfaden helped the others escape before leaving themselves, fighting off the birds as they tried to dive for Augusta. As they left the room, the enemy seemed disinterested in them and the mutant storks continued to fly within the gardens, closer and closer towards the synthetic voice.
“Well that wasn’t good,” Fensal sighed, trying to fix his gun. “Tch, the birds would be fine but I don’t like those robots.”
He handed the gun to Lorenz who was able to mend the damage seamlessly, able to heal both men and machines, a gift from the Golden Goddess UNITY. “Should be fine now,” he assured. “I’ll go check out Lintelfaden’s suit.”
“I don’t think we should fight the Dismantlers,” Lilie suggested. “They’re going to break our stuff and we can’t get it back. And those storks worry me.”
Moi Moi bird began to squawk furiously at Augusta, acting extremely brave despite being palm sized. Bird enemy! It told Bustov. It pecked her foot, hardly noticeable, but it was trying its hardest. We will defeat thy bird enemy!
“Well, Augusta is anti-bird,” Bustov explained. “And the enemy of the great Moi Moi is my enemy as well!”
He was silenced as Elmo hit him over the head, not tolerating any joke threats to his lady.
“Probably because of the curse,” Augusta realised, glancing at her bony wings. “But the pinions are really good blades so I’m going to keep them.”
Gisella glanced inside of the garden, trying to understand the situation a bit more. The storks were gone but they had to expect that they would return, attracted by Augusta’s curse. “We could just sneak past easily, the Dismantlers aren’t aggressive nor are they in the way. We can go around and-”
In their haste, they had not noticed the beast that had shadowed them. The six-legged monster, the size of a hound, leapt straight for Lintelfaden and began to rake the armour. Its blade-like claws crushed steel with ease and its teeth pierced right through. Despite its size, the golden fur was thick and it was weighty, knocking him to the ground with ease.
“I just fixed that!” Lorenz complained, showing more concern for the armour than his comrade.
“Can you get this thing off of me?!” Lintelfaden snapped. He was unable to unsheathe his sword and deliver a proper blow to the beast.
“I’ve got it!” Lilie exclaimed and an aura of magic condensed at her fingertips. “I’m going to heat up the metal suit and the dog will have to come off!”
Gisella tried to wrap her head around the plan. “You’re going to…? Wait, what?!”
“It’s a great idea!” Lilie assured. “If I heat the whole suit then it can’t bite it.”
Fensal had to hold her back from turning the suit into an oven. “You’ll cook him inside!”
Bustov pushed past the party and grabbed the beast, overpowering and tearing it off through brute strength alone. Thanks to Moi Moi Bird’s cheerleading, he was able to throw it aside, against the wall and the impact echoed throughout the hallway.
“Damn, I am strong!” Bustov congratulated himself, fist-bumping the Moi Moi Bird.
Lintelfaden, despite his suit being battered and wrecked, pulled himself off the ground, ready to catch the beast. “Didn’t Kwalish say this thing was an Auromvorax?! I need it as a mount! I want to charge on this thing!”
Gisella unsheathed a special scimitar, a weapon she had acquired from one of the Wind Cultist Monks, and prepared a lethal blow from above. And she struck true, dealing a direct blow to its temple… But it didn’t draw blood, it didn’t even pierce through the fur, but instead a puff of smoke consumed the Auromvorax.
And polymorphed it into a robot horse.
Lintelfaden’s eyes sparkled when he saw the beautiful stallion, a knight’s dream, a spectacular mount. “Catch it! Don’t you dare hurt it!”
Lorenz had a completely different approach. “Don’t damage it! I want to strip it for parts!”
The two immediately began scrambling over each other, trying to keep the horse for themselves.
In a panic, the robot horse sprinted down the hall, desperate to escape. It couldn’t control its new body and began to stumble, accustomed to six legs, not four. Bustov aimed an arrow for one of its legs in an attempt to cripple it, flicked back his hair, turned away, and released the arrow.
His aim was true and the arrow pierced straight through the… neck. He killed the robot horse and reversed the polymorph, returning it to its original form. Its auromvorax body suffered no wounds but a fear was implanted into it. Terrified, it scrambled away from the party and out of sight, never wanting to go through that nightmare again.
“That was a mess,” Fensal sighed, leaning against the wall. “But at least no one is hurt.”
Lorenz had to expend even more magic to mend the new damage to Lintelfaden’s suit. “Well, that’s that. We really need to get to the Manufactorum, the android bodies Kwalish wants are supposed to be on the same floor.”
Lintelfaden was conniving while he waited for his suit to be mended. “Robot horse… A real knight needs a horse but I need something more special… Aha! A robot unicorn!”
Augusta cocked her head to one side. “A robot unicorn?”
It wasn’t long before the two of them were completely sidetracked with the idea of a customisable mount. A special mane, saddle, even down to its body and hooves, the two began to brainstorm and totally rely on Kwalish granting them all these favours.
Gisella glanced back into the room and analysed the dismantlers. “They’re just hard at work… We can probably sneak around easily to the next level.”
Lorenz solemnly agreed, realising how many parts he would miss out on. “Alright, if it’s probably better they don’t break our stuff.” He snapped the two fantasizing about a unicorn. “You two ready? We’re going to need some spells to sneak a marine suit… Oh, sneaking a space marine suit isn’t great.”
They came to a consensus, combined Bustov’s spells with Lilie’s invisibility on the louder members, and decided to give it a shot. All in all, Lorenz and Lintelfaden were able to sneak past easily, enhanced greatly by magic despite their heavy armour. There were talks of watching out for cans and not to kick them into other people but they were able to get through. The birds didn’t return and the dismantlers were consumed by their work; the path to the next level was easily found.
It seemed as if the garden only got thicker and darker as they pushed on. The foliage was thicker and the leaves or branches were damp with glowing water. Pipes, some broken some whole, snaked across every surface, leaking the bright water; it was what kept the plants alive within the station. With no light besides the liquid, Augusta lit a torch and protected the open flame from being doused.
“There are plants everywhere,” she murmured. Droplets fell on her head, pulling her attention to the roof. Bushes and other brush had grown upside down from the cracks in the pipes. “Literally everywhere.”
To their surprise, Autumn got excited and began to sprint through the forest, ducking under or leaping over hidden pipes with ease. She somehow knew her way throughout the level and the party soon lost sight of her. Calling out, they struggled to keep up, only Bustov was able to traverse the terrain efficiently and soon broke away from the rest. In their haste, they didn’t notice some of the bushes run away from them, further into the gloomy forest.
Suddenly, they burst through the brush and out into a clearing where dozens of veggiepygmys gathered around Autumn. She tried to communicate with them but their language was made up of hisses and clicks, something she struggled to do now she was an Eladrin. One pygmy, bigger and wearing gadgets as if they were jewlery was deep in thought, seeming to recognise Autumn but not understand her. The others bowed down to him, their king, and his guard were tense and ready to attack.
Bustov’s jaw dropped as Autumn explained who he was. “T- That’s your dad?!” He glanced around and realised that the pygmy’s foliage was golden-red, not green. “So you’re basically a princess?!”
“Stop, please,” Autumn begged. “He can’t understand me so he doesn’t know why I look like this…”
“Don’t worry, we will do an elaborate play explaining what happened. Moi Moi will be the pope.”
And so the party had to watch as Bustov lay down Autumn in front of Moi Moi, pretended to praise, and, as Moi Moi chirped, Gisella helped Autumn rise up with her telekinesis. Lorenz created holy lights to shine as she was ‘Reincarnated’, further explaining the point as to why the pygmy’s daughter was now an Eladrin. All in all, Bustov would call the plan flawless.
Lilie shook her head. “I can cast a spell that could help us talk to these plant people. A play like that isn’t going to work-”
The veggiepygmy king clapped his hands, fully understanding what transpired while his daughter was away.
“And it worked…” she muttered in disbelief.
It was a joyous moment for the veggiepygmys, celebrating the return of their princess in a new body. They pulled a rope and needles and began to rush around her, ready to tie her up and take her away. Unfortunately, the rest of the party was unable to understand the celebration and pushed them away, protecting her.
“It’s okay,” Autumn assured them, both her party and the veggiepygmys. “I’m fine with all this.”
“Fine with what?” Lintelfaden asked. “I still don’t understand what’s happening.”
She explained to them how the veggiepygmys multiply; infesting living beings. As they had seen before, they infect corpses and the mold corrupts the body until finally the pygmy is ‘born’. Human corpses would create pygmies while beast carcasses made thornies, cactus horses they used as mounts. They took their princess’ return as a blessing and would use her to multiply.
“That is ridiculous!” Bustov snapped. “Go ask your messed up dad if there is an alternative!”
Fensal scratched his chin, trying to think of a workaround. “Can we maybe use other bodies? There are those arachno-kitties that might suffice or maybe an auromvorax.”
Autumn explained the plan to her father and it seemed he took to the idea. “Father said he would rather a person’s body to create more veggiepygmys but he wouldn’t mind more thornies if you find some animals.”
“Alright, good plan,” Bustov agreed. “Pencil, get on the chopping block.”
“Me?!” Fensal sputtered.
Autumn brightened to the idea and conveyed it to her people. “It seems Mister Pencil is too small and is only worth one pygmy…”
Bustov pulled out some rations and tried to stuff them into Fensal’s mouth. “We can fatten him up a bit, maybe get two pygmies out of his halfling body.”
“I’m not going to sacrifice myself!” he denied. “Somebody back me up!”
Lorenz closed his eyes and fell into a deep thought. For five seconds. “Yep, no other option, gotta sacrifice Pencil.”
“Are the veggiepygmys happy with thornies?” Augusta inquired. “It’s better if we use animals rather than people.”
It was accepted by the king and the hunt began for beasts within the station. They could have gone back to fight the mutant storks but the reason why the snuck past was to avoid the dismantlers; it would be better if they left the room alone. Lilie and Bustov worked together to find any tracks of beasts that they could kill, either a large one or a pack to produce multiple thornies. Finding footsteps was a cinch for the two and before long, they had located multiple, large footsteps.
“About… seven people?” Lilie murmured. “If they each have two legs there are seven smaller ones and three large pairs.”
“These aren’t tracks of any beasts we’ve seen,” Bustov added. “Not from an auromvorax nor an arachno-kitty.”
Confident, they pushed into the unknown, following the tracks through the forest, reminiscent of clawed human feet. The roots of the trees created a path for them and towards another large hallway, dark, all forms of light blotted out. The automatic lights were consumed by a steel-gray ooze that wrapped around the walls and roof of the hallway, clogging the pipes as they seeped into it. The tracks led right up to the edge of the ooze where it abruptly ended.
The ooze itself was glistening, some parts glowing with the light that it blotted out. It swirled and pulsed but didn’t react as the party cautiously tested it. An arrow, a quick strike, even bullets were simply absorbed into the wall and destroyed. If it was a creature, it either didn’t care about the attacks or was hiding within the slime.
“It’s not alive?” Lintelfaden struck it again with his katana. “It’s moving though and the footprints lead here.”
“But the tracks aren’t of this ooze,” Lilie pointed out. “It might have crossed over…? I can kind of make out the bigger footprints on the other side of this slime.”
Lorenz patted Fensal and Bustov’s backs. “Alright, meat shields, you go first, get hit, and I’ll probably heal you.”
Bustov nodded and readied his bow. “I agree. Go in there Pencil and if you get eaten, we’ll know if it’s alive.”
Fensal pulled out a rock from his backpack. “Better idea, I’ll use Shen’s Rock of Detection to test the floor.”
He threw it into the hallway and it stuck to the ooze, not being absorbed. Its primary function was Detect Surface and it showed them that it was sticky.
“Interesting,” Fensal joked. “It seems the surface is not smooth, thanks to the Rock of Detection. I’m glad I bought this from Shen for 500 gold.”
Lintelfaden sighed, threw the rock back to Fensal, and walked straight down the hallway. Her suit protected her from the terrain and a force field was emitted to defend from attacks. “We’re not going to get anywhere standing here and the ooze isn’t attacking. Whatever we’re looking for went passed this-”
Creatures began to peel themselves off of the roof and plunged as the careless fighter entered their ambush. Steel gray skin, razor claws, and translucent membrane pulsing and flowing with acid; these weren’t beasts they were tracking. Grendalspawn as they were known, the children of something bigger.
Lintelfaden unsheathed his katana, preparing to strike them down. “Don’t worry! I have a force field to protect-”
The seven spawn shredded the barrier and pierced through with their claws. They acted like a swarm and threw themselves at the party, lethal and viscous, unfettered even as they were cut. As one was cut, acid leaked out of its wound and it took on a red shade, screeching in rage, moving faster and aggressively. The sticky ooze didn’t slow them down in the slightest, treating it as solid ground, even leaping off the walls to target anyone unlucky to get caught between their claws.
Steel was like paper to them, barely holding up against their onslaught. Elmo and Wolfram tried to hold a few back but they were as agile as they were deadly, slipping past them to attack anyone in sight.
Lintelfaden glanced down at his feet and saw an egg hatch, an octopus-like creature crawling out onto his foot. In disgust, he killed the alien and smashed any eggs in sight, crushing them beneath the weight of the space marine armour
He should’ve ignored them. The grendal spawn froze and their skin began to warp to a dull red. In a blind fury they screeched, clutching their heads and charged him, seeking nothing but violence and revenge.
“So we run, right?” Lilie was the first to suggest. “We can just skedaddle on out of here?”
Bustov released an arrow into the backs of his enemies, diverting their attention again. “We’ll be fine and we need the bodies for Autumn. If we don’t, Pencil is going to be on the chopping block.”
“I’m not going to be sacrificed,” Fensal sighed. He reloaded his gun and fired again. “But I do agree these creatures are deadly; I’d rather not fight them all at once and not on the slime.”
The fight had barely begun and Elmo and Augusta were already hurt badly. The former’s shield and armour were pierced while the latter, relying on her evasiveness, was holding her shoulder, trying to stop the bleeding. They didn’t back down from the battle but it was clear they wouldn’t be standing for long. In the distance they could hear heavy footsteps echo down the hall; the three other, larger grendal spawn were coming.
“Alright, then I’m going to send a lightning bolt down the hall!” Lilie declared, charging the spell without a moment’s notice. “Move or you’ll get zapped!”
“Hold on, wait!” Augusta cried, trying to avoid the spawn and now her team. “Don’t shoot us!”
“You’ll be fine, don’t worry!”
The three of them barely got out of the way before she let lightning tear down the corridor. It pierced through the masses and the gray ooze conducted it, coursing throughout every surface and sparking erratically. One of the spawn had a hole burned through it, killing it instantly but it didn’t bleed acid, the heat had already cauterised the wound. The others were paralysed momentarily by the shock but had avoided a direct hit; they staggered towards the party, slowly picking up their movements.
“I’ve got it!” Bustov declared and pulled out a small vial, swarming with black wraiths. “Then you block them off, Pencil!”
Fensal gave up arguing and now responded to ‘Pencil’ as if it was his name. “I have it covered!”
While the grendalspawn were still stunned from the lightning bolt, Bustov hurled the jar of nightmares into the pack, breaking the vial on one of their heads. The wraiths burst out and were finally free of their confinement, wasting no time on possessing every single spawn. Their skin changed back to the gray hue and they collapsed, clutching their heads and writhing in pain. Attacked from within, the nightmares began to cripple, and completely incapacitate them.
As planned Fensal pulled out a small pouch, something he had acquired from Shen’s Pot Luck, and emptied its contents: dozens of small seeds. They grew instantly even on the skymetal surfaces and formed a vine wall, separating the party from the dangerous grendal spawn. The brief respite was much needed and it allowed them to gather their thoughts and decide the next plan of action, wasting no time on healing wounds.
Lintelfaden flipped out the automatic medkit. “Augusta, come here. Lorenz, heal Bustov’s acid burns.”
The break was short lived, ending as soon as it had begun. Three grendalspawn the size of ogres tore through the wall, cutting through as if it was paper or melting it with acid. Roaring, they were pushing past each other, greedy for the kill almost as if it was a competition. A stray swipe knocked Fensal off his feet and slammed him into the wall as swift follow-up knocked him unconscious.
“Oh, there’s more, there’s more!” Lilie panicked and rushed over to Fensal’s side. She laid her hands on the deep scars and closed them with healing. “Wake up, Fensal! Don’t go dying on me!”
He shook his head clear of the dizziness, clutching it in pain but forcing himself to stand. “I’m alright, don’t worry.” The grendalspawn were so big in the cramped corridor he was sure he wouldn’t miss, even though he felt light-headed. “Thanks for the heal, I can still fight-”
He pulled the trigger and he felt something explode inside the gun. Smoke rose from the barrel and it would no longer fire; broken beyond repair.
“Oh…” he murmured. “Well that is unfortunate.”
Bustov was quick to jump on his comrade’s predicament. “Relying on guns to take down your enemies, Pencil? You need to be a real man, relying on only your strength with a bow!”
For all his talk, he backed it up with volley after volley of powerful shots. His simple weapon had a big impact, piercing through the alien’s hide and into the wall behind them. All while looking good and the trusty Moi Moi cheering from behind.
Holding his holy symbol close, Lorenz muttered a prayer to the Golden Goddess. “This is your domain, I ask now that you protect us, UNITY…”
Materialising out of nothing, hundreds of miniature robots covered the hallway, swarming around and leaving trails of red light. They fired pinpoint accurate lasers, targeting the points that were not protected by thick hide; melting the eyes of one of the spawn. Continuing to dance around the room like fireflies, they perfectly avoided every attempt to swat them down, hovering just out of reach.
From the safety of the shadows, Gisella let her crystal daggers do the work, a faint pink glow emanating from her as she began to use her mind powers. Speed, strength, accuracy; there was nothing her power lacked and even simple daggers were lethal weapons with her telekinesis. She pierced the blinded grendalspawn’s shoulder and tore off its arm before swiftly moving for the collar of its neck, cutting right through.
“Nice!” Augusta cheered. She wielded her pinions and avoided punching the acid aliens. “One down, two to go!”
The corpse of the spawn began to pulse and bubble up, bulging grotesquely before releasing putrid steam from the wounds. It detonated right after and covered the hallway in acid, burning those who were unable to avoid the spray, even melting the face of armour. The other two flew into a rage and doubled their effort to make up for the one they had lost. Wolfram and Elmo suddenly struggled to hold back their sudden ferocity and increase in strength.
But the party was coordinated and the initial surprise was gone, they now acted as a full team and worked in perfect unison to take down even the toughest of foes. After running from their past enemies, the sudden shift in their favour boosted their confidence. Confident enough to start enacting… confusing plans.
“I’ve got it!” Augusta laughed. “Elmo! We’re going to do some cool teamwork attack!”
Elmo was trying to pull his shield away from the enemy’s crushing jaws, threatening to eat him whole and bypass the shield entirely. “Teamwork attack?! What?! Now?!”
“It’s simple! I’m going to run up, you’ll use your shield as a platform, and I’ll kick off of it and into the air! It’ll look really cool and I can-!”
He completely forgot all respect for her. “Are you serious, woman?! You want to kick off of my shield to look cool now?! Can you see what I’m fighting?!”
“Don’t worry; trust!”
Fensal couldn’t help but laugh, the humor loosened his tensed body and he relaxed slightly. “No weapon so I’ll help someone else. Lintelfaden! It’s all yours!”
“Perfect timing as I attack!” he thanked. A crimson string connected his katana to a crack in the enemy’s hide. “With my Katana of the Lich Shogun’s Eternal Shogunate!”
The razor katana sliced through with ease, a swift cut combined with Fensal’s command skills pulled the best out of him. In one, smooth motion, he continued with a clean skyward slash, forming a V shape in the spawn’s chest. Turning his back on the opponent, he flicked the acid off the blade, sheathed it slowly, and listened to the steel slide against the scabbard. As it locked in, the spawn detonated and released its virulent acid but he remained unscathed, protected completely by the forcefield.
“That’s how it’s done,” Linteldafen declared and everyone knew he was smiling beneath the suit.
Bustov nocked another arrow, filled with awe and a touch of envy. “Alright, you got your one good moment, I’ll give you that!”
The final alien was blinded by rage and its attacks, though devastating, were inaccurate. It let down its guard for a moment and the swarming robots burned out its eyes. Swinging wildly, it blasted Bustov into Lorenz, the force almost taking out the ranger instantly.
The cleric flooded his magic into his friend as he struggled to stay on his feet. “Hey, are you alright?”
He needn’t have worried. Spitting the blood out of his mouth, he stabalised himself after the brutal attack. “Something like that isn’t going to take out Bustov Daman!”
But Lorenz wouldn’t be fooled by the tough guy act. “You are barely standing. Hold still, let me heal you.”
With the combined efforts of the party, the final grendalspawn was felled, bursting into acid like all the rest. Augusta dealt the final blow and, easily avoiding the exploding corpse, ran right up to Elmo and began to reprimand him.
“We need to work on teamwork more! I didn’t get to pull off my cool stunt!”
“I’m fighting for my life and you wanted to pull stunts!” Elmo snapped. “Tch, young kid filled with too much energy.”
“You. Me. We’re going to put in some serious training together so I can flip off your shield.”
Lilie pointed at the six remaining aliens slowly arousing themselves from their nightmares, letting another lighting bolt streak down the corridor. She killed another and, luckily, they didn’t explode. “They’re still those guys over there. Since they don’t detonate, we can use their bodies for the veggiepygmys.”
As the spawn cleared their minds, their eyes were burned out by the swarm of robots. Blind and confused, the party easily picked them off one by one, eventually killing the final enemy. The ‘beast’ hunt almost turned out to be a lethal ambush but they pulled through and with seven corpses to show for it, more than enough to use instead of Autumn.
Snatching up a part of the alien’s body, Lorenz chucked it into the bag of holding for safe keeping. “Nice, let’s head back. The pygmys said they wanted two and we’re bringing seven.”
And the offering was gladly accepted. Returning to the pygmy king with their spoils, the entire clan got excited when the replacement was shown, wasting no time to infest the corpses with russetmold. The internal acid served to only feed the mold and within a moment, thorny vines began to sprout from the bodies, wrapping around and into it like snakes. The veggiepygmys danced and cheered around the bodies, watching the mold grow into new life.
“Father wants to give you a gift,” Autumn translated for the party.
The king pulled one of the trinkets off his necklace and handed it to the party. He called it an ‘attractor’ and, as the name suggested, it was able to pull items towards it like an extremely powerful magnet. Before anyone could accept it, Lorenz snatched it, thanked the king, and popped it into his bag. Everyone knew it was either going to be used or completely dismantled for parts.
“As thanks, Father is allowing you to stay in our forest,” Autumn explained. “Make yourself at home and please rest, you fought a tough battle for me.”
Bustov conjured magical berries for the party. “We have food but not really any water. I guess we have to search for that stuff if we want to stay here.”
“I might be able to create some water for us,” Lilie offered. “It will take some of my magic for the day but it’ll help us.”
Augusta was watching the leaking pipe with glowing water, dripping between the segments. “This is UNITY’s space station, right? UNITY will provide.”
In response to her faith, the pipe she was watching burst open, forming an endless stream of glistening water for the party to quench their thirst. The veggiepygmys cheered and dove right into the flood, happily absorbing the water into their leaves and swimming in it, but the team was hesitant to drink it. Especially after watching about half a dozen pygmys bathe.
Bustov glanced at the party as they discussed what to do next, rubbing his hands together mischievously. He hardly participated in these meetings, trusting the others to form a plan while he formed his own. Sneaking up behind Fensal, he grabbed the halfling’s head and tried to psychically take over.
Fensal felt his consciousness slipping away but he forced himself back into control. He felt he wouldn’t have found the strength to resist but, since it was Bustov, he was much, much more determined.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” Fensal snapped, whirling around and smacking Bustov’s hand away.
“Just doing some water testing,” the ranger shrugged, a sly smile spread across his face.
He tried the same tactic with Lorenz but the result was much worse, not even getting a glimpse of control.
Shaking his head, Lorenz finished maintenance on his tech. “I know what you’re doing and it won’t work on me.”
“It’ll work on someone.” Bustov searched for his next target. “I’m helping the party, what’s not to like?”
“I can help you.”
Lorenz called Augusta over, making up an excuse about the attractor that only she could fix while the trap was set. She fluttered over like a moth to a flame, oblivious to their schemes.
“This right here,” Lorenz explained, showing her the attractor.
“Hmm? What about it?” she asked, completely trusting him. “What do you need me to do?”
“Oh, not much, just test the water.”
Bustov successfully took control of her distracted mind, transferring his consciousness when she least expected it. Lorenz and even Fensal had to contain their laughter as he forced her to drink some of the water, using her as a poison tester. Even if it wasn’t poisonous, drinking glowing veggiepygmy pool water was the last thing anyone wanted to do.
Augusta snapped out of the control but not before she had taken a big swig, mid-swallow, mouth glowing. She spat it out and dried her tongue, desperate to get rid of the lingering disgusting taste and a stray leaf.
“Augh, I hate you!” she cursed and hunted down Bustov and Lorenz. “Elmo! Come here and knock their teeth out!”
“She isn’t dead,” Bustov observed. “Nice! It isn’t poisonous at least!”
Banner art by my daughter!
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