You did well against my disciple. Now you must face me.
Snow realizes the mind flayer is teacher of the elephant-man she'd encountered previously on multiple occasions. Bowing to each other, they prepare to fight. Unfortunately, in her opening move, Snow manages to injure no one but herself, falling to the ground unconscious. The mind flayer looks silently at Snow's prone body for a moment before bandaging her wounds. When Malouf and company break through the rubble, the mind flayer hands Snow to them before leaping away.
Josy revives and heals Snow. The party tries to question her about the mysterious mind flayer, but Snow remains silent about the encounter. The path to Alana, Flerm, and Bolin is too filled with debris for them to get through. Hoping to find another way to their companions, they return to the rat room. There is a door on the far wall. Opening it, Malouf sees a horde of goblins. Unlike the goblins they normally encounter, these goblins move in a shuffling motion, moaning, their eyes rolled up into the backs of their heads.
Their slow approach allows the team plenty of time to take them out with a fireball while Lieralyn finish off any survivors. As she charges down the corridor, she hears a buzzing coming from the side. On the wall is one of those squid wall statues that fires a disintegrating ray. Luckily, Lieralyn's mirror shield catches the blow, ricocheting the deadly beam back on the statue and destroying it. Seeing another such statue ahead, Lieralyn approaches with her shield and destroys that one, as well.
On the north end of the corridor where the second squid disintegrator hangs, the hallway continues to the right. Peeking around the corner, Lieralyn sees nothing but darkness. The air is colder and Lieralyn feels short of breath, as if there isn't enough oxygen in the atmosphere. Pulling out a continual light torch, she thrusts it into the hallway. The darkness seems to swallow the light, very much like a vampire's darkness spell.
Lieralyn relays her experiences with the group. Not feeling up to dealing with vampires just yet, the party decides to take an earlier side corridor heading east. It leads to a closed door. Opening it, they discover it's full of more Underdark creatures - derro, mind flayers, albino alligators, and Drow.
There is a pitched battle. The alligator uses its telekinesis to remove the brain crown from Malouf's head so that a mind flayer can set it on fire. Snow tosses a Drow into the alligator's mouth, the alligator's jaws instinctively snapping shut and swallowing its comrade.
As the battle turns in the Motley Crew's favor, it's no surprise when the remaining mind flayer flees, as they so often do, creating a wall of flame to discourage pursuit. Snow leaps through the fire to help Josy with the alligator and loses her cloak and bracers to the flames. Despite this, she and the rest of the party finish off the Underdark creatures left in the room.
The fight has taken a toll on the group. They are using up resources and running out of time. The mind flayers need to be stopped before they can complete their plan to shrink the world. Hypothesizing the quickest way to the mind flayers is through the cold corridor, the Crew backtracks to the corner Lieralyn had investigated earlier.
Before moving forward, they enhance their strengths with potions. Josy and Sir Gyles cast protective spells over the group. Malouf leads the way. Engulfed in the dark, they feel as if they've stepped out into nothingness. Lights surround them as if they are floating in a star-filled sky. The strangeness of it rattles even the most battle-hardened of the party members.
There are three Starspawn and four mind flayers, two of which are large, similar in size to Macros the Black and Regan the Explorer. The two large mind flayers flank a large blue and green sphere. It's the Earth!
The mind flayers seem startled by the Crew's sudden appearance, but they waste no time in attacking. Magma men and intellect devourers are conjured. Knowing Brecaryn is the one who can stop their plan, they use telekinesis to remove Flerm's helmet, making her vulnerable to their psionic attacks. Two Starspawn move in, staring into her eyes. Overcome, Brecaryn curls up into a fetal position, weeping.
Flerm's helmet, left floating in space, moves towards the Earth and starts shrinking, as if it is going to fall to the planet. Malouf moves to engage the mind flayers while Snow grabs the helmet and slams it back onto Brecaryn's head. Brecaryn feels some of the effects receding, but is still feeling too ill to protect herself.
Malouf: Pull it together!
Brecaryn manages to cast a lightning spell on the large mind flayers. Donning her phase ring, she hopes being out of phase will make it more difficult for anyone to attack her. Instead, it allows her to see the Starspawn more clearly, and she nearly collapses from the horror before she manages to yank the ring off her finger.
Lieralyn plows through the enemy, amputating limbs and cleaving through mind flayers to slice into Starspawn. As one, the Starspawn howl in outrage.
Snow grabs Brecaryn's limp body and carries her to the shrinking Earth, using her body to block the nearest Starspawn from getting near the elf. Lieralyn moves in to assist. One Starspawn attempts to burrow its tentacles into Lieralyn's nose. A second rips opens its belly, spurting goo and ejecting tentacles to hover strangely in space, attacking the group.
The intellect devourers keep Sir Gyles occupied. The magma men attack Malouf, Josy, and Brecaryn, destroying themselves in the process. Josy slams her knockback mace into a mind flayer, sending its body crashing into a Starspawn.
The outcome looks grim for the Motley Crew. Lieralyn desperately tries to prevent the Starspawn's tentacles from reaching her brain. Brecaryn's helmet is removed again. Another Starspawn gazes into Snow's eyes. One intellect devourer devours the brain in Sir Gyles' crown.
But, as Heroes of the Land, the Motley Crew turns the tide in their favor. Lieralyn manages to escape from the welcome nasal encounter. Sir Gyles kills an intellect devourer. By force of will, Snow uses the experience gained from the last Starspawn encounter to overcome the mental attack and kills her current unworldly opponent.
True to form, seeing things are not going as planned, the last mind flayer flees the battlefield.
Brecaryn regains her helmet and is finally able to concentrate on the shrinking Earth. Placing her hands on either side of the Earth, she spreads her arms, stretching the sphere. Sensing that she has an opportunity to send a message of reassurance to the people of Earth during what must be a strange and uncertain time, the very practically minded wizard rejects that idea. Instead, for an instant, every single creature on Earth experiences a moment of pure logic.
The next thing they know, the party members are falling to the ground as the Earth grows and they shrink accordingly. They catch a glimpse of a strange island city that they instinctively know is named R'lyeh. Four glowing, green pillars circle the edges of the city, a mind flayer standing on each, using them to raise the island. Straight ahead, almost impossible to accept as reality, is a great thing like a giant Starspawn but even more horrible. It is attempting to be push its way into our dimension.
Brecaryn wakes up in Beeblebrox's tower, realizing she's been having a terrible nightmare. She's must have dozed off while studying. Standing, she catches sight of an ancient book resting on a pedastal. Brecaryn's always wanted to read it, but Beeblebrox usually keeps it locked away. He must have forgotten to lock it up before he left this morning. Brecaryn takes the opportunity to peruse the tome.
After a while, Brecaryn realizes she can't recall anything she's just read. Before she can think more on this, she hears a crash from below. The only other person who is supposed to be on the island is Meeble, the old, yellow goblin that acts as Beeblebrox's servant, and he usually stays in a separate building at night. A sense of forboding washes over her.
Reluctantly, Brecaryn starts down the tower stairs to investigate. She hears someone coming up the steps. With relief, she realizes it's Meeble. But something's wrong. As he gets closer, she can hear that his breathing is raspy. As the torchlight illuminates his face, Brecaryn sees that his eyes are rolled up in the back of his head and his jaw is hanging open. A terrible moan emerges from his throat.
The goblin reaches for Brecaryn. She lashes out in panic, knocking Meeble down the stairs. Terrified, Brecaryn hears a strange gurgling sound coming from the lower level. She runs back up the tower and hides under the covers in her bed.
Malouf is in the swamp with his people. He senses something is wrong. The swamp does not feel the way it should. He suspects it is an illusion, but cannot see a way out of it. Before he can act on his feelings, he is distracted by the sounds of battle. Two of his tribesmen are fighting a giant lizard. Malouf charges in and dispatches the lizard easily with his magic axe.
Expecting a warm greeting from his friends, Malouf is shocked when they glare at him angrily, muttering to each other about his axe.
Barbarian: Look at that! Dark magic! Now we cannot eat the meat of this creature. It is tainted!
Malouf opens his mouth to respond, but only inarticulate sounds come out. Embarrassed, he walks away. Ahead, he sees a brick house with glass windows, a building that is clearly out of place in the swamps. Approaching the house, he sees his brother Malain standing inside dressed not in leather as any good barbarian should be, but in a western suit of clothes. Nevertheless, Malouf is happy to see his sibling.
Malouf: Hello, brother! Shall we go hunting today?
To his horror, the tribesmen who had been busily cleaning the house turn to Malouf, their eyes rolled up and their tongues hanging out. Spreading their arms, they start closing in on Malouf. Unwilling to hurt his own tribesmen, Malouf runs out of the house.
Snow is sitting cross-legged in the middle of a circle of elders. Shaking their heads, they look at Snow in disapproval.
Elder monks: You have failed us, daughter. You were sent to retrieve the jade elephant, but you lost it. The contests you have fought to gain the level of Master barely meet the standards of a true trial. You cannot even manage this group of barbarians with whom you travel. By now, a true master would have a large monastery full of students, teaching our ways to our people. Because of you, they have now become corrupted by the agents of chaos.
Slimey tentacles start to sprout from their noses, killing the elders. As if they are puppets on strings, the corpses begin to rise and attack Snow. Although she knows none of this is real, Snow prepares to defend herself.
Josy finds herself back in the Shire, sitting in her home, pouring herself a cup of tea. Outside her window, she sees children playing on this fine spring day. Watching them, she feels a vibration in the air as the sky suddenly goes dark. The sounds of children's laughter turn to terror. Josy is torn. She knows she should go out and help the children, but her tea has just reached the optimal temperature for drinking. It would be a terrible shame to let it go cold.
Shaking her head as if to clear it, Josy dismisses that absurd thought and rushes out to help the children.
Sir Gyles never expected this when he agreed to accompany the bard Klute to the Underdark. Being in the presence of a thing he can't even look at makes him realize how insignificant and meaningless his life is. His whole existence, everything and everyone he's ever interacted with - they might as well be bacteria. He is only a tiny, tiny, disgusting part of a much larger world that he will never understand.
Even the god he worships is only the god of a little patch of slime. This feeling of crushing insignificance threatens to overwhelm Sir Gyles. Perhaps he should give in and worship this unknowable creature of chaos, this elder god.
As he's buckling under his despair, Sir Gyles' hand brushes against his holy symbol. The oppressiveness eases a fraction, allowing Sir Gyles a sliver of hope. Grasping his holy symbol more firmly, he calms his mind and puts his faith in his god.
Lieralyn is sitting happily in an ornate room full of fine things surrounded by little pixies. She happily picks them up, spreading out their wings, and flattening out the pixies so that she can put them on display in nice ornate cases.
Abruptly coming alert as if from waking from a trance, Malouf, Snow, Josy, Sir Gyles, and Lieralyn realize they actually are in that strange island city with the glowing pillars. Only now, in addition to the mind flayers and the elder god, there are also Starspawn, beholders, Drow, derro, and an intellect devourer.
Additionally, the members of Havoc Company, plus Thrain, Adarra, Flerm, Bolin, and Alana, have also been transported to this island. Brecaryn is standing with them. But something isn't right. Their companions look decidedly unfriendly.
A voice whispers from behind them.
Voice: Thank god you're here.
Turning, they see it's Rval, the dwarven archer from Havoc Company. It would seem that they not only have to stop the mind flayers, they will have to fight their own companions, as well.
Snow turns to the nearest Starspawn, landing two crushing blows and killing it. She leaps through the air, taking damage from a magickal barrier around one of the pillars, and smashes her foot into a mind flayer. Rval takes out the central eye of one beholder before getting knocked unconscious.
A second Starspawn flies into the air, dropping slimey tentacles from its belly. Brecaryn conjures a stink cloud over Malouf and Snow. Captain Dokari temporarily blinds Josy and knocks her unconscious. Mindbender, Havoc Company's wizard, fireballs the group. Flerm and Alana go for Lieralyn.
Sir Gyles runs to Josy, bandaging her wounds. Snow paralyzes Flerm with a touch. Brecaryn takes Sir Gyles and Lieralyn down with a lightning bolt. Malouf and Snow look at each other. Now what??
Leento rides in on a triceratops.
Leento: *hops off triceratops* I sensed your return to Earth.
Leento waves his arm. A feeling of calm settles over everyone. All of their companions are in control of their minds once again. They are all back on Team Order.
They concentrate their efforts on stopping the mind flayers. Without the mind flayers, the elder god cannot enter this dimension. Allowing it to come to Earth would be a very, very bad thing.
With Snow's beholder fork, killing the beholders is easier. Brecaryn takes out the derro with a chain of lightning. The mind flayers are taken down one by one.
The last mind flayer, instead of running away, raises its arms and saps a sickly green energy from all the Starspawn and tentacles, disintegrating them. With this energy, it is able to raise the island using just the central pillar.
A terrible moan is heard. The elder god pushes through a little more.
Leento: We have to end this now. It's starting to notice us!
The triceratops sacrifices itself to rush at the last pillar. Malouf fires off an arrow. Brecaryn casts a spell to enlarge it as it flies through the air. It hits the last mind flayer in the heart, killing it instantly.
With the spell disrupted, the island starts crumbling. The party follows Leento as he leads them to Flappy. They manage to get on the giant plesiosaur's back before the island completely crumbles.
As it sinks beneath the waves, they all feel a presence in their minds.
Elder God: I may be trapped on this island for now. But while I slumber, you will still hear me calling you in your dreams.
Comforting thought, indeed.
It takes the party a week to return to the Isle of Dread. On the journey, Leento updates the group on the Underdark war. Surprisingly, the derro came out the victors using an army of "super soldiers" they somehow created and were able to gain more territory. But that is small potatoes compared to what the mind flayers had planned.
Back at the Isle of Dread, Leento opens a doorway through a tree to send them all back to the Five Kingdoms. It takes another few days to walk to Gelfini.
To their surprise, when they arrive, a fully built castle comes into view. Regan the Explorer and Macros the Black come out to greet them. When questioned about the castle, Regan explains that Macros created a time bubble around the town so that the construction would be completed more quickly. Time outside the bubble continued at its normal rate. The villagers are completely unaware of the spell.
Snow is outraged.
Snow: That was completely immoral. How dare you cast a spell on these people without their permission or knowledge?
Regan the Explorer: (unconcerned) No harm came to them. And your castle is completed.
Snow: No harm? You stole time from them! And for what? So that this building could be finished sooner? That is no excuse. Do not do this again.
Regan the Explorer: *shrugs* We were just leaving anyway.
As he's walking out, Macros the Black sees Flerm. Pausing, he waves a hand and a light washes over the drider. Nodding, he motions to Regan. Regan tells Flerm that the potion he is taking to keep himself from becoming feral can be distilled to be more effective, but Flerm will have to go back to the source to get more. With that, Macros the Black and Regan the Explorer leave Gelfini.
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Tags: Adarra, Alana, Bolin Braveaxe, Brecaryn, Flerm, Havoc Company, Josy, Leento, Lieralyn, Macros the Black, Malouf, Nightshade, Regan the Explorer, Sir Gyles, Snow, Thrain, Vain
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