Part 40: And I'd been so good about making these not massive lately...
Chapter 30 - And I'd been so good about making these not massive lately...
I have no ship with which to offer passage. It has been scuttled in an act of the purest malice. Such villainy I am subjected to!
No worse than the lies that I must suffer! Do you have a plan for escape at all?
It does my spirit harm that you think I would try and cheat you of your rescue. Perhaps I did not have my ship on hand, but my intentions were well and true. My sole purpose is to find you transport, and by the luck of the draw, it is best done by procuring me a new ship. We should hurry, lest enemies return.
And what would this plan of yours entail?
Well, the obvious course would to be to exact a revenge of sorts to procure another ship, and it just so happens that I have the perfect mark in mind. The Pirate Lord, who so maliciously disabled my vessel, has a perfectly serviceable ship of his own. If we could make off with it, we would be set for sure.
Tell me more.
His ship is moored at the docks. Under cover of night we could take it most easy. We simply have to make sure the sea gate is opened for the bay to be clear. If you could get the horn that signals the gateman we could blow it at night and be gone before anyone is the wiser.
The plan could work. I agree to do it. Tell me the details.
The matter is simple, though stealth will be required. The horn is ornate and beautiful, and the Pirate Lord lets his lady, Cayia, keep it safe. Had I the luxury of time I might try to woo her for it, as she is of suspect morality. So I have heard, at least. During the day the horn is in the care of the well-guarded Pirate Lord, but at night it hangs in Cayia's room. Retrieve the horn from her abode under cover of darkness and come to me aboard the ship by the docks.
Why don't we have the 'luxury of time'? Why the rush?
The longer I stay in this charming town, the more likely I am to join my first ship at the bottom of the harbor. The sooner we leave, the better.
Very well, I'll do it.
Yes, for your good, I shall add it to your incentive for a quick and stealthy action. We shall be away in all haste, and you shall take this blade from me for services rendered. Go now, and do what must be done.
And now, we camp in front of this house because that's totally NOT obvious at all!
Don't be afraid. You are safe here... if you behave. I will show you what fills the void. What is now free.
You are not Imoen. She said she has not had any dreams like these. Well, and she's dead, but that doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things.
I lurk behind your soul, in the very fiber of your being. I am the only thing left when mind and reason are stripped away. I will show you what you can be, what you can do... if you simply let yourself become what you are. I can show you all of this, because I am within. I am what fills the void. I am you.
She became the Slayer, and killed everyone.
You worry for your companions perhaps? Leave them, abandon them, and become what you must. There is great power in your heritage. Use it, and become closer to who you are... what you could be. Feel what is in the void. Use the tools that you are given. Become part of something greater. I am in you, and I know what is best. Each time you use it, each time you accept it, you move a little closer to the evil within. Perhaps you lose yourself in the end, but you will go to greater reward than you can know. After all, what does an eternity of nothingness matter, when you can destroy all that would oppose your development as easy as "one"...
At that point, I gained a new ability.
I choose to turn into the slayer.
New paperdoll and stats, even.
Buuut I would start taking damage if I remained in the form too long, so I would have to change back.
Jan. Go steal the horn.
Bunch of boring crap, suffice to say Lady Caiya is indeed a woman of suspect morality and the man in the bed next to her is most assuredly NOT the Pirate King. Jan stole the Pirate Horn and got out without being noticed.
Yes, I have acquired the horn. Here it is.
Very good indeed. I have convinced the men on board that they should accompany me and they will ready the ship for launch. We will be underway long before... What I mean to say, is that the Pirate Lord will not arrive in time to stop us. That is who I meant, in no uncertain terms. Hurry, we must away!
Aw hell. Uh... I-I'll be below deck securing the... um... s-something, ah...
You'll stand where you are, Havarian! You've gone too far this time!
If I have wronged you in some fashion I am dreadfully sorry. I was not aware of any offense...
Your pretty words are wasted on me, cur, I have seen your like a dozen times over, and buried them all! I am Lord of this isle, and yet you have undermined my authority at every turn! Trading falsehoods, cuckoldry, and now my ship suffers your touch!
Kill the scoundrel, Desharik! His mouth will spew nothing but lies!
Your mouth is no better! How else would he have got the gate horn if not by taking your company again?!
B-but... Desharik, dear, you know my feelings for you...
Madam, you are a ravening ditch-pig.
Sir, you must believe that I am totally sincere when I say Asim! GET HIM!
Yes, I imagine you are sincere. Now, Abi-Dalzam's... Abi-Dalzam's... Ah, here you are.
Your lackeys will not save you!
You're half-right, Desharik! Away, we cast of, ahoy, et cetera et cetera!
Ready yourselves! I know not who these ruffian pirates are! Desharik's men, perhaps?
The Githyanki demand! You have the relic of the holies!
Pardon? I am sorry, but I do not know what you are talking about. Speak clearly that I might understand.
Understand! We see all that you do! Say mon HaVaran, you have trespassed and taken what is not yours!
Please, the name is spoken with more of a flourish, and a good deal less spittle.
Your name will be spoken with blades for tongues! You took the relic of holies! We will follow as we must!
Now who would be foolish enough to steal from the Githyanki... er... if that is what you are. I plead innocence, and demand you search me that I might prove it! Search all aboard if you wish!
That is the intent! Inside and out!
I will not have anyone going through my possessions!
Now, Asim, you'll have to trust me on this matter. I will provide for all those concerned. Search away, Captain! You'll not find any such object on me. Although I don't know about these ruffians on deck! I don't like the look of them. Give them a thorough look!
Just providing for those concerned... me. My apologies, Asim.
The Blade belonging to the Githyanki is aboard! Detection does not lie! All will perish for this insult!
But you can search and take the true thieves! Take the whole crew if you must!
Examples must be set! None must tempt such a crime again! Destroy them all!
This just isn't a good tenday.
Sahuagin board us! This ship is doomed! Ready yourselves for the water...
This would be my cue to leave. Farewell Asim! Good luck!
Sahuagin? I did not anticipate this. Back to the ship!
The ship is sinking!
Vass, ss'uri! Vass! Illuryssallya mer temas vur pasnyar ssaraii!
Shur'e... Es ss'uri ret rylliaren. A'sook, Feerlattiys.
Vass mae'nyarlu, sya ss'uri muss rylliaren!
At that point, one of them cast a spell.
So can it understand me now, High Priestess? It must be able to understand! The King awaits!
I heard you the first time, Feerlattiys. And, yes, I have called on Sekolah to grant these beings the ability to understand our tongue.
So... it understands, High Priestess? Is... is it dangerous to us? Shall we be forced to collar it?
The surface beings are varied in their ways, Feerlattiys, but they are quite intelligent. You can, I am sure, speak to the creatures directly.
Then you can certainly start by telling us how we came to be here, strange ones. And I will warn you now that this sparrow has no intention of being collared again, by you or anyone.
My apologies. Captain Feerlattiys performs well as a protector of our Shark-Father's Temple, but has little experience with your kind. I am sure this must come as a shock to you, after your recent harrowing experience. You must brace yourselves, soft ones, for your journey gets no easier.
High Priestess, we must take the surface beings before the King! He commands it!
In good time, Feerlattiys. Allow them to gain their bearings and discover why we have brought them here. Otherwise, they may resort to hostilities.
No... no, that must not be allowed...
Indeed. Sekolah has spoken of these ones to us, so let us treat them not as prisoners for the banquet table. Let us instead make them welcome. I shall introduce myself to you. I am Senityili, Royal High Priestess of Sekolah. And you are in the City-of-Caverns, one of our most ancient places. You are fortunate, surface dwellers. In the normal course of things, creatures captured from the sun lands would be dinner for our plate.
Such an attempt would end quite poorly for you.
This once, however, is different. Sekolah has told of your coming in an ancient prophecy, and I have scryed that you are whom the Shark-Father speaks of. The most exalted King Ixilthetocal calls for the presence of the prophesied ones, but there is time for you to ask questions if you have the desire.
What is this prophecy you speak of?
Ah, yes, the prophecy. Sekolah visited the City-of-Caverns long ago... all raised their arms in rejoicing as the Great Shark's song filled our hearts. Sekolah told of a time when the City-of-Caverns would be no more. He also told of signs that would precede the arrival of surface dwellers in the depths. Sekolah said these surface dwellers would be all that stood between the City-of-Caverns and destruction, and we would do well to watch for them. We... Sahuagin, as you call us... have watched and waited from our temples here in this city. The signs have come, surface man, and now you are here. You have come, and the City-of-Caverns does, indeed, stand on the brink of destruction. You will save us, as Sekolah has promised.
Most sacred Senityili, the most exalted one will wait no longer! We must bring the surface beings to him quickly, lest we be punished!
The most honored Ixilthetocal will not punish us, good Feerlattiys. But... we must hurry, lest Tlyysixxous convince the King of her views in my absence. So, surface man. You have heard me tell of the prophecy and your role in it. Will you see the King of the Sahuagin to hear more? Or will you struggle?
I will go voluntarily, for now.
Good. Captain Feerlattiys, we shall now proceed to the royal chambers. Lead us.
At once, most sacred one! I shall also bring the equipment collected from the sunken ship. If they pass the test, they may have any of the things that I've found.
And... and these... (heh heh heh!) ... these are the strange creatures from the surface? (heh heh!) These are the ones you claim... the mighty Sekolah has promised us?
They are, most honorable one. The leader amongst them, here, is what I believe they refer to as a 'human'.
It seems most... most strange! They have no scales! Look at how small and puny their teeth are!
Boo, too, has small teeth compared to fish-men. But they hurt just the same when they latch onto the eyes, yes sir!
You must kill it, most exalted one! They should not have remained alive! You must kill them, sacrifice them to the Shark-Father!
So you keep telling me, Baron Thelokassyil. Shall we turn away a gift of Sekolah, do you think, then?
The surface creatures are not sent by Sekolah, most honored Ixelthetocal. They are not the ones spoken of in the Shark-Father's prophecy. They are nothing more than spurious beasts that have fallen into our lap. We should sacrifice them and feast upon their meat!
No! Most honorable Ixelthetocal, the signs were clearly seen! All has come to pass as Sekolah had foretold!
Not ALL the signs have come, Senityili.
I do not see what I wish to see, Tlyyixxous. I see only what Sekolah has shown me, and these ARE the saviors of the City-of-Caverns!
So... (hee hee!) We have a disagreement, do we? The high priestess and consort of my Baron Thelokassyil contests the belief of my own high priestess, does she?
I do, most honorable one.
She does. It is as we have been trying to tell you, Ixelthetocal... these creatures are no more worthy than a meat crab, meant for consumption and nothing more!
No, Ixelthetocal! Do not listen to them! They are sent by Sekolah, I swear! To refuse them is to pledge the City-of-Caverns to its destruction!
Oh, I shall be the judge of that, good Senityili. Oh, yes, I most surely shall. (Heh heh heh!) What do yoooouuu think, human? Yes, you. Do you think you are more worthy than a sea crab, hmmm? Do you think you are the one who the prophecy speaks of?
I don't know.
You don't know if you have more worth than a sea crab? It's tempting to taste you for myself. But then, a scrumptious human might come in handy... I don't suppose either of the most favored priestesses will change their minds? (hee hee!) Relinquish their position in this arbitration, perhaps?
Most certainly not!
No, most honorable Ixelthetocal.
Ah, I didn't think so. So be it! We shall decide this with a challenge, we will! Although... not a challenge between our dear priestesses. That would solve nothing! We wish to see if these surface beasts are truly the ones the Shark-Father has spoken of, yes? So I shall offer them the chance to prove their power! Well, human? Will you take this challenge? Will you fight a creature of my choosing, a slave from the surface... and see if you survive?
Very well. I accept the challenge.
Excellent! Excellent! Sport for us all! Take them away, and let us see what they do against our freakish surface slave!
...How DO you get an ettin down here, anyway?
I would think that it would be done through portals.
Whoop, there's the ettin dead. Yay.
Congratulations, my wonderful little human! You are, indeed, a mighty specimen... and the one sent to us by Sekolah, I might add.
No! Most exalted Ixelthetocal, you cannot be serious!
Oh, stop complaining, Baron. So your High Priestess lost the challenge, that's too bad. There's no need to go on whining about it. Time to take her away for sacrifice! Try not to get caught in Sekolah's teeth, Unspellablename. I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate it.
I... I see. Of course, most exalted Ixelthetocal.
Ah. Now that that little dispute is over with, perhaps we can get down to real business, eh? (heh heh heh!) Are you bitter, Thelokassyil?
N-no, most exalted one. As... as long as the prophesied ones deal with the rebels, they will have served the purpose Sekolah intended...
The rebels! That's right! And here I was on my coral throne, forgetting all about those rebels. That is an excellent task to set these surface dwellers on!
If... if I may speak, most honorable one, as to the Shark-Father's intentions?
Eh? Are you still here, Senityili? Didn't I just have you sacrificed?
That was Tlyysixxous, honorable Ixilthetocal.
Oh. How disappointing. Well, I suppose you can speak, then.
I urge you not to listen to the Baron. He would have you destroy the rebels, when there is a far greater need for them in the City-of-Caverns. Our numbers dwindle, honorable Ixilthetocal. You have... exiled many. The hatcheries are barren, and there are too few females... In short, our bloodline grows thin. We need these rebels to join us, to add their blood to ours so that the City-of-Caverns may grow strong again!
I see what you say, Senityili. Oh, yes I do. We should have the rebel and his army join us... in principle. The drow and the illithids take more each year. I've no wish to retreat to the depths... But, no. I'd rather have the rebel's heart.
But... but, honorable Ixilthetocal --!
Excellent decision, our King!
I thought you would like that, my Baron, but I am not doing it for you. The rebel will invade with his army of exiles if he isn't stopped, you know. So it comes down to you, surface human! I am sure you have no wish to help a race such as us. But you've no objection to killing a few... Hunt down the rebel leader for me, my human... bring me his heart and I shall reward you with great riches!
I've heard this tune before. It's right up there on the oldies-but-goodies list along with 'Fail and I Kill You'. Or, maybe in this case, it's that variant sung by the infamous ogre bard Chumba-khan, 'Fail and I Eat You'. Of course, we could always just leave...
Your kind does not object to sorcery? We have collected much that is magical during our raids. You are welcome to it ALL, if you bring me his heart. So... what do you say to that, my surface human, chosen of Sekolah? Who is this rebel and where would I find himWho is this rebel and where would I find him?
Who is this rebel and where would I find him?
Oh, this particular one is a former rival for my position that I sent away years ago. What was his name, again, my Baron?
Prince Villynaty, exalted one.
Right. Villynaty. You can find the rebels outside the city. He should be no match for one as powerful as you, my little human.
Very well. I shall seek him out and return his heart for the reward you promised.
Good. The less rebels running about, the better. You shall save the city and be rewarded... everybody will be happy! Except for Villynaty. And then you'll be free to go off to the Underdark, if that's where you're headed. Unless you'd care to try the oceans again, my little human! But off you go, chosen ones. I desire meat, now, and the King always dines in private.
Before you leave the city, surface beings, come to the temple and speak to me again. I can tell you things that will make your job much... easier.
Yes, our Priestess shall tell you how to gain access to the rebel camp. The rebels are locked away with magic, you know. Go now and destroy them. (Hee hee!)
We are mighty, Shark-Father! We strike without fear and without remorse! Take this gift as a measure of our power!!
Ah. It is good you have come to see me before you left. The king has made it clear I should instruct you as to how you may enter the Prince's base. The Prince's Base lies at the far end of the city, beyond a chamber with two great doors. Long ago Sekolah appeared there and slew a thousand infidels. He decreed no heretic should again enter the city and sealed the doors. He placed his tooth upon the doors so that we could open them. Later, the drow came. With powerful magicks they stormed the city, led by a mage of great strength. He took Sekolah's Tooth from our lax guardians with the intent of blocking pursuit. The mage built an edifice in the southwest section of the city. He was killed, but his complex remains. Sekolah's Tooth is guarded somewhere within... We have little need for it... the ocean is the means of our travel. But you need it. Seek out the drow's construct, foil his guardians and obtain the key.
I shall enter the Drow section and obtain the key.
Excellent. This brings me to the next point. You must do something for me. Our King is mad. Surely your audience with him showed you this. He is the result of... poor breeding. Like his father he has executed or exiled far too many of our kind. Our numbers are too few, our blood too thin. We must regain what we have lost. Prince Villynaty, the exiles' leader outside the city, is our only hope. With the Prince on the throne, we would be strong again... to fight the illithid and the drow. I have been in contact with the rebels and now is the time to strike! What do you say, human? Surely you hold no love for our mad King. Help us to survive, lest we be swept away by the denizens of the Underdark!
What makes you think I won't tell the King of your scheme?
You are not of our race... you owe him no allegiance. You have seen Ixilthetocal's state of mind... he may decide to kill you in the end anyway. But if you do take this to the King... I cannot stop you, human. It will doom both myself and perhaps the City-of-Caverns, as well, but I cannot stop you.
What do you need me to do, exactly?
I only ask that you talk with Prince Villynaty, that is all. Listen to what he has to offer, and decide then what you shall do. I will give you an orb the rebels will recognize... they will bring you to Villynaty. That is, of course, if you agree to talk instead of kill.
Very well... I agree to talk to this Prince.
Good. Here is the orb. Keep it in your possession when you leave the City-of-Caverns. You will be approached by an exile to be brought to the Prince. I pray that you and the Prince can come to an agreement... for the sake of all of my people. Go, then, and may Sekolah guard you from harm.
And so, it was time to explore the city. They had some pretty impressive statues. (This one from the arena, but I got a better look at it this time.)
This guy yapped on about stuff that I didn't really listen to...
Oh, and we got around to identifying that sword that Saemon forced into my pack.
Then came some imps. Identical imps. Identical imps with riddles. The worst kind.
Yes yes yes! Someone will play with us, now!
And not that stodgy overgrown fish-King!
Yeah! That old fish-King! Pheee-eeeww! No sense of humor!
None! But now... hee hee! You big peoples will want the treasure, right?
Big peoples always wants the drow's treasures! Yes!
You can have the drow treasure, oh yes! But you have to play our game, first! Hee hee! You have to play our game!
What say you, big people? You are wanting the treasure? You wants to plays our game, yes?
Alright, I'll play your game.
The big peoples will plays our game! Hurray! Hurray!
Okay, big peoples... this is how our game will go! There is five chests here with nothings in them! In front of each empty chest, a famous big people will appear!
Famous big people! Oh, yes, powerful famous big people!
Each famous big people will give you a gift that belongs to another famous big people... and they will hints to you what gifts belong to them! If you thinks you knows which famous big people a gift belongs to, you puts it in the empty chest behind them, yes? Very simple!
Once you places all five, you comes and asks us! If you wrong, we laugh at you! If you right, we open the sixth chest and you can laugh at the nasty nasty nasty!
Lotsa fun! Okay, we starts now!!
Here's a nice view of the illusionary celebrities, as well as the horde of traps that was everywhere.
I give to you this curved sword; I am too old to fight. Give it to another warrior, one whose skin is black as night.
I give to you this pendant of silver, for it belongs to another. Place it around the neck of one who is Sister but not Mother.
I give to you this pipe of root and magic... its power is strong, I will not lie. Bequeath it to a man, instead, one older even than I.
Though this be an illusion, still it gladdens my heart to look upon one of my brethren in this foul city.
...Do you EVER shut up? Anyhow, I give to you this staff of darkest hue which has faced many an evil foe. It is not mine, but I tell you now, it belongs to one I know.
I give you a helmet, here... a symbol, so I'm told, of rulership on the surface land in a city far North and cold.
Anyway, it was pretty simple - Drizzt (the only one with black skin) got the scimitar, Alustriel (the only woman) got the pendant, Elminster, another of the Chosen of Mystra, got the pipe, Piergiron the paladin got the helmet, and Khelben (whose last name is Blackstaff) got the, well, black staff.
Awwww, is the games over already?
Okay, okay. We keeps the deal. You goes and opens the last chest, now, and we imps will save you. We gets to laugh at the nasty nasty nasty!
Oh, goody! Goes and opens it, big people!
But... whaaaat isss thiiiissss? I... I cannnnot rrrreeeeaaaach yyoouur liiifffe fffffoooorrrrce...
Ha ha! Poor nasty nasty nasty!
You can't do nothing, nasty! We protectings the big people! Thpppppfffft!
Nnnnooo! NnNnNNOOOO! I... I aaaammmm tooo weeeeeaaaakkk...
Ha ha! That was fun!
You funny big peoples! We go now.
From the chest we took a pair of Boots of Etherealness and a Cloak of Protection +2.