Hm. Marith and Harold seem to have found it necessary to go on a
major shopping expedition at exactly the time we were trying to start
AQoJ. That seems poorly timed.
So, somewhat late, but not actually dead...
Amazon Quintet of Justice VIIa: "Assault of Darkness! Hey! I Was Using That Soul!"
Our Heroines seem to have thoroughly cleaned out the caverns, so
going back to catch up with the others at the pirate base is uneventful.
The locked and warded building there contains both the portal back home
and the valuables looted from the royal treasury of Tigris. However, in
order to transport everything back, it gets stuffed into the pocket
dimension the Quintet stole from the necrotheologians, with Sophia,
Serenity, and Shekinah to guard it. Upon arrival back in Prince
Richard's bedroom, however, Our (remaining) Heroines discover that the
Solar Sisters have been paged by Pelor and are no longer anywhere to be
Tigris is suitably grateful. Some of the handy items lent from the
treasury are signed over to the Quintet for good. A minor dispute breaks
out over the disposition of the magic items used by the succubus-prince,
but Amaryllis prevails.
Stephan, upon hearing of the good drow, demands to be taken to meet
them so he can get their versions of the ancient prophecies of the dead
god. Eventually, Fresa succumbs to his blandishments, and the Quintet
escort him to the pirate base. It turns out that the drow version of the
prophecy claims that the "blood of Avalon" will be instrumental in
raising the dead god. There is some alarm.
Sadly, the really cute drow sorcerer has run off with the silver
dragon. Some people have no sense of gratitude.
That episode is no sooner concluded than Hrogarth, who has been left
in the university archives all this time, proclaims that he has found
the hiding place of an Artifact of Great Power. Or at least narrowed it
down to a short list. And he's not sure what the AoGP is. But
the Amazons must go and fetch it immediately!
Since that was not the original deal with Hrogarth, and his
dwarven sensibilities prevent him from making a reasonable monetary offer,
there is some resistance. However, Moradin reveals to Fresa that He wants
her to go on this expedition, and that it is related to the issue of the
dead god. Sadly, He is not forthcoming on other issues, such as the exact
role to be played by the "blood of Avalon", or which of the locations on
Hrogarth's list holds the AoGP. Still, now that the Quintet knows that they
want to do this, they have Marika use her mercenary savvy to negotiate them
a fairly good contract. If they have to use the item to save the world,
their payment will not be as large, but this is deemed acceptable, and Our
Heroines set out for the first place on the list.
On the morning of the fifth day of travel, well up in the foothills
away from civilization, Amaryllis and Alyra awaken from horrible
nightmares with some of their life force missing. Fortunately, Gabrielle
knows an old song about someone this happened to, and in that case it
was a night hag. With that as a working theory, Our Heroines lay a trap
the next night: Fresa is prepared to go ethereal with anyone who's awake
at the time and slay the hag in her immaterial state.
Just before dawn, Amaryllis begins tossing and whimpering in her
sleep, so Fresa grabs her watch-mate Alyra, kicks Marika awake, and
casts her spell. Unfortunately, there are two night hags, and
each has a nightmare for a mount. Simultaneously, on the material plane,
Confusion ensues. The wolves are not much of a threat, but they annoy
Marika and Gabrielle, and occupy several seconds of Amaryllis's valuable
spell-casting time. Fresa and Alyra are hard-pressed and death seems
near, but finally Amaryllis casts the spell that allows her to see and
zap the hags and nightmares, and turns the tide. None of the foes
Triumphant, if slightly low on magical power, the Amazons continue
onward that morning, and finally reach a ruined complex of some kind.
The area is crisscrossed with the tracks of wolves and giant rats,
leading some to suspect the presence of vampires. Fortunately, it is
still many hours until nightfall.
The only intact part of the complex seems to be built into the mountain,
so cautious exploration is undertaken. After a great deal of wandering
about peering at rubbish and indecipherable inscriptions, the five
determine that the place is laid out as a series of concentric circles,
with the spokes between adjacent rings offset so there's no direct passage
to or from the center. Once they understand the architecture, though, the
indirect path to the center is easy to follow.
Unfortunately, although the stresses of the rock surrounding the
center are somewhat odd, there isn't anything exciting there: just an
innermost ring corridor encircling a pillar about twenty feet wide.
While Our Heroines are poking around, four horrible shadowy forms emerge
from the wall and attack!
The first skirmish ends with two of the spectres put to final rest and
the other two to flight, but three of the five adventurers severely
drained by negative energy. The Amazons flee outside, only to find that
it is almost dark! At least outside it's harder for things to sneak up
Fresa repairs the damage to a couple of souls, but before she can
petition Moradin for more magic, the spectres and their two new buddies
attack! The protective circle Fresa cast hinders them, at least, so that
although more souls are rent and battered, all four spectres are
* * *
Harold wanted to get home, so we called it there and went zoom zoom
back to Mountain View.
* * *
NaNoWriMo words today: 0
NaNoWriMo words total: 45217
Reason for not starting: Roseville.
Panic factor: 1.435