Part 35: When Tiax rules, britches shall not ride up so wedgelike!
Chapter 25 - When Tiax rules, britches shall not ride up so wedgelike!
Sorry about the hiatus guys - as it turns out, my entire process for doing this and not hating it relies entirely on having classes to go to. As the semester is in now in session again, we're all in luck! Debatably.
On the way to Spellhold, we encountered a group of lizardmen sitting around. Well, they were sitting around, but then attacked us and then they were lying in pools of their own blood, because that's just what happens.
Once inside, the coordinator greeted us. Being the brilliant man that I am, I instantly recognized his voice, but decided to play along and act like I had no idea what was going on.
Seriously, I guess it was supposed to be a surprise or something, but come on, using exactly the same voice actor not even trying to sound different totally killed any chance of that. However, I am still going to use my mysterious person portrait in the spirit of the thing.
You know my name? How?
You made inquiries in town. I have agents, and eyes. Security is quite important when dealing with an institution such as this. I know why you have come. You have been observed since you arrived on the isle. No doubt you are brimming with concern for your 'Imoen'. She is in good health, and if you will permit me, I will direct you to her. This is not a prison, but an institution of healing and learning.
Then release her to me.
It is not as simple as that, though it never is, is it? Still, I'm sure you will understand more once I have explained.
There is no need for explaining when you are dealing with a place like this. Dank in spirit, with nary a smile to be found around. Aunt Tilly's turnip cellar offers more in the way of social interactions.
Please, you have worked so hard to come here. Allow me to show you what I mean. I shall let you examine the facilities, and Imoen, for yourself.
Lead on then, but I shall be wary of any treachery.
This way, Asim. I will explain as we go.
And the last horse crosses the finish line!
Well, that was just unnecessarily cruel. I love it! Say, this reminds me of my Auntie Urgyy. Well, except she actually was a horse. Polymorph accident, you know. She was also very slow... And, well, that trip to the glue factory didn't really help.
First up in our little tour was a little girl with a remarkable knack for polymorphing herself.
They can also be studied, such that what they are capable of is understood better. Take young Dili here. She was cast from her family for her talents. At a remarkably young age she learned how to shape magical energy, allowing her to change her form as she wishes.
Have you a new face today? I think you do. I can see the real one. Tomorrow, I will be you, okay?
Here she is safe, and others have learned something of what she does. It is invaluable information.
What do you mean by 'change them'? What's wrong with my face?
Asim is my name.
Asim? Ok, I'll be Asim tomorrow. I've seen you, so now I can take your face. Don't worry, you can keep it too. I like taking puppy's face, but it scares him. He's not here though.
Ah... I'm a wolf!
Next up came a raving madman who was apparently the former Coordinator of the Asylum or something I don't know he didn't make much sense you know? He also did not want any centipede bagels or scarab cake or any of my other specialties my feelings were very much hurt.
What?! What do you want?! Is this not enough? I want this hall cleaned! Don't you stare at me!
His mind could not handle the energies that circulate this place. A bad reaction to a particular spell unhinged him quite dramatically. No one forsaw it, but with study we can prevent it happening again. His career is over though.
Hehehehe, it's alright. Tired of working here wanted a holiday was thinking of retiring probably going to die! Time to move on under down... down down.
Relax, I just wanted to ask you a few things.
Shut up! No questions! Make an appointment! The Coordinator speaks to no one! No one... speaks the Coordinator...
Yes, that ought to clear everything up.
And he gave me a strange... little... note.
I seem to be remembering something about the memo being some weird scrambled message about the Pantaloons and their use. That might have just been some stupid troll thing on some message board at some point, though.
Next came Naljier Skal, the bard.
His last research project was into the nature of the universe, and what lies beyond the gods. Something apparently didn't like him looking.
I used to have pretties piled high to the sky. Don't remember where they are though... mmm, pretties...
Somehow he retains his spellcasting abilities, however, and is incredibly dangerous if unsupervised.
How did you come to be here?
How do we come to be anywhere? I asked that once. Looked all the way beyond the stars... pretty stars. Shouldn't look so far... it looks back... but now I don't care. I collect my pretties. Shiny things... pretty...
Many, many pretties... piled high, beyond the sky. [sigh]
And he magically spawned a little gem. Not worth much gold or notice, but it was a very interesting little trick.
Personally, I like to think that he stumbled across the Far Realm, if only mentally. It's one of my favorite little areas in D&D, even if basically nothing uses it.
Next up was Aphril, who also learned to look too far.
Unfortunately she can also see the denizens of those other realms. They are quite numerous apparently, and she is never truly alone.
All around... all around! Behind! Above! ALL AROUND!! Aaah!
She does not sleep much. What use are eyelids when you can see through the planes? She will be studied so that some good may come of her condition.
What? What do you see?
Everything... everyone! Across the planes! All the time! My eyes do not close when closed! And they are next to you, and me, and everyone! Always! More and more creatures from everywhere and everywhen! Never alone, even when alone. You just cannot see! I can see things... things beyond the veil. It's all the same to my eyes. Do you wish to see! I can show you for a moment! Touch nothing! Make not a sound! See what lies between!
And I saw. To see them no matter what you do... I cannot imagine it.
Next up was my old buddy(?) Tiax!
Tiax rules all! You are but grease for the wheels of his rule! Silence the squeaking of those that protest! He rules all!
Obviously a danger, as you can see.
Tiax? Is that you? I haven't seen you in ages. What have you been up to?
Tiax rules all from his throne room! You are all servants of his majesty, even as you feign ignorance! The heavens move because he waves his hand! The waters stir as he twiddles his toes! The wind blows as he passes! And on a whim he can break them all!
World domination goes well then, does it? Good to hear. Goodbye. Don't write.
Tiax takes no notice! Go, and spread the word of his mighty stature! Tiax rules all! Just ask him, and you shall see!
[casts a spell] Eh... it would appear that... the great and... mighty Tiax... has shrunk his undergarments... three sizes this day. Excuse... the mighty Tiax... while he catches his... his breath... He will rule... later.
It would appear that britches ride up more wedgelike than ever, hmm?
Next up was Dradeel, the crazy old mage from the werewolf (wolfwere? Hmm.) island way back when!
Bad dog! Bad dog! Werewolves all! Back! Back with you!
Obviously he had some sort of traumatic experience in the past. He cannot be allowed to roam with the power he possesses.
No more tests! No more questions! No more! Back! Bad dog! You've the rank smell of Golodon the Unmanned. Bastard!
I take offense at that! And it's too bad you can't smell the reflection in a mirror.
One has lots of time for reflection while waiting for the ENDLESS WAVES OF BAD DOGGIE WEREWOLF MONSTERS THAT CHEW YOUR TOES WHILE YOU SLEEP!! Personally, I like to spend time reconstituting culinary delights from my childhood. Would you like a recipe? Something from my mother's mother.
And he gave us a recipe for Amnish Dragoon Soup.
And finally, Imoen.
So empty... empty...
Imoen! It's Asim! I'm here for you!
She does not seem to be willing to respond right now. Her consciousness comes and goes. It is fortunate you arrived when you did.
Yes it is. I'll be leaving with her right now!
Oh, you misunderstand. It is fortunate for *me* that you arrived when you did. I am quite through with her for the moment. It is you that I am after. I knew you would seek her, and so the path was difficult, but not impossible. All designed to test your potential.
What are you talking about? Is this another Cowled Wizard trick?
The Cowled Wizards no longer run the asylum. With Bodhi's aid I was able to take control quite quickly. She is a fine sibling, if a touch predatory. I trust you remember my name now?
A lowlife knobgoblin that deserves only death!
Typical. If I had a sense of humor left I might find that funny. I do not, on both accounts. You are intent on revenge or justice, or whatever. I care not. You can do nothing I do not wish. Your fate has been sealed since before you arrived. A simple addition to rations and meals by a master of herbs, mister Saemon Havarian.
That fool? I will track him down after I have killed you!
You will find you are powerless. I have taken precautions that you will not be damaged. Rage would be wasted. There is no battle, no heroics, only sleep.
I fear I have had an advantage over you. I have planned your coming from the start. It could be no other way. A bit of treachery by Saemon and a spell component goes into a soup or some other dish. Undetectable, and nothing more than a seasoning until my casting.
What are you doing, Irenicus?! What is all of this?
That is not for you to know. Suffice to say that I regret what must occur. I know the rage you will feel once I am done. I seek the death of others for similar reasons. Don't worry, Imoen has already suffered what she must for my cause. She even survived, and this bodes well for you. You are stronger, more focused, and you are *aware*.
Aware? Aware of what?
Aware of what you are, child of Bhaal. You are aware and she is not. That makes you more able to focus. You didn't know?
Are you suggesting that she is a child of Bhaal as well? That is just not possible.
You must have suspected. Perhaps she felt no symptoms, but the taint was there. She is a similar age, and was apparently secluded as a child, just as you were. This Gorion of yours should have told you about yourselves early on. You might have learned not to fear what you are. Imoen is indeed a child of Bhaal. I suspect her innocent charm and humor suppressed the darkness. She showed no symptom because there was no place for shadow in her spirit. I had to show her some very dark shadows indeed. It is unfortunate that it had to be done, but it was necessary to get what I needed. Now I must focus on you.
Why turn to me? I won't help you.
You assume you are a volunteer, but I don't need your co-operation. I will take the essence of you regardless. Do you see the Shadow Thieves in the other chambers? They are the fruits of Bodhi's guild war, and their deaths shall force the divine soul from you. Don't be afraid, Asim. I suspect this will be mercifully quick.
And thus began the ritual that made everything go horribly, horribly wrong for all parties involved.