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Recap 44 Supplemental: The Loss of a Comrade

November 12, 2011

Regroup and Strategize

The fight with the Oblivion King leaves Oliver, Malouf, and Snow unconscious. Gloiterwome's body has been destroyed, at least.

As introductions with the Zhentils are made, Josy revives her fallen teammates and sees to any other injuries the group sustained - Lieralyn and Malouf had contracted mummy rot. Zarana, the Zhentil leader, offers the hospitality of their encampment to the group.

Puff: Mistress, now that you are safe, I request your leave to withdraw. Even now my accursed brood may be hatching. I must fly home and watch over them, so they can not escape my jaws. Narasimha, I warn you not to follow me. If you threaten my eggs I will destroy you.

Narasimha: (rolls eyes) Jub-Jub, I am not interested in your eggs, and I honor our truce. I will stay here and confer with our allies.

With a final glare, Puff flies off to eat her hatchlings.

Narasimha: Dragons! It is best for the entire desert if she returns home quickly so she can eat her young. Otherwise we will have many Jub-Jubs to contend with.

Well then, soft ones. It seems you have upset the order of things. You have involved many of us in a struggle that all wished to avoid. Myself, the nomads, the trolls, even Jub-Jub. All are now your allies against the Desert King, whether we desired it or not.

Zarana: Indeed, we did not realize it was the King himself that you did battle with. However, the Zhentils are old enough to know that the undead one makes no move unintentionally. He clearly desired for us all to be bound together. In fact, I believe that his defeat was in fact a ruse. For whatever reason, he wanted us to join forces. But I do not know why.

Narasimha: That may have been his goal. But I also sensed during the battle that it was his desire that the skeletal dragon be destroyed. He did not lift a finger to aid her during our battle. And when Brecaryn utilized her construct, I sensed his satisfaction. I think we helped him to eliminate an unwanted companion without making himself appear to be... impolite.

Zarana: In any event, we must now press forward. The next move is ours to make. What are your plans?

What follows is a lengthy discussion of possible strategies that boil down to four options:

  • Frontal assault: Summon the lich king, defeat his physical body, bury it in consecrated earth to slow its regeneration, and rush to Nizwah to find his phylactery and destroy it.

  • Stealth: Use the advantage of still being invisible to the lich king to sneak into Nizwah. While the Zhentils create a distraction, search for his phylactery and destroy it.

  • Information gathering: The nobles in al-Laquant have behaved suspiciously whenever the group encountered them. Return there to gather information.

  • Trickery: Brecaryn feigns surrender, joins the Oblivion King, smuggling in the rest of the party in the mirror.

Weighing this group's strengths and weaknesses, the clear choice is the frontal assault.

Zarana suggests the group visit the Zhentil elder Qusay first. He is a shaman and may be able to restore some of the party's youth using the waters of the fountain he guards. However, she warns them that the results are not always the same. One man who drank the water aged, but didn't die. A woman once drank the waters and was returned to her infancy. In order to get to Qusay, they must travel into desert with no weapons or armor and fight through several giants to get to the elder's cave.

Malouf: This will be an adventure!

Later That Night...

In the evening, Zarana tells the group about her people's relationship with the Oblivion King. Many, many years ago, the Zhentils sold the fountain water to Dar as-Sabtah. He used her people to find information about Vain. The Zhentils discovered the Tusken Raiders were involved in the construct's creation.

Over time, Dar as-Sabtah became more and more desperate to use the fountain water. The Zhentils have a natural tolerance to the water that others do not which allows them to drink the water multiple times. Because of this lack of tolerance, they stopped supplying Dar as-Sabtah. Enraged, he vowed to kill them all.

After a little more conversation (in which Zarana tells them about the regular trading the Zhentils do with the dwarves of Rockholme and asks Josy if she is one of the desert halflings from Needlehole), Zarana reminds the party that they need their rest; the next day would be challenging.

Because the vampires who had enthralled Alana and Lieralyn had not been killed, the rest of the group quietly agrees to stay on high alert for any unusual behavior the two might exhibit. Neither of them are to be allowed to wander off alone.

During Snow and Alana's watch, they hear a wolf howling in the distance. The Zhentils remark on this being a very unusual occurrence.

Alana gets up, saying she wants to check on her griffon. This naturally awakens Snow's suspicions. Could it be one of the vampires calling to her? Snow insists on going with Alana despite Alana's attempts to dissuade her. After this, the wolf howls are heard no more.

On the third watch, a heavy fog rolls in, blanketing the camp. Lieralyn makes as if to leave the area and Malouf immediately moves to follow.

Lieralyn: I have to pee.

Malouf: We shall go together!

Lieralyn: (horrified and indignant) What? I know how to go to the bathroom by myself. (walks away)

Malouf: (following "surreptitiously") I shall cheer you on! Go go go!

In Which Malouf Pulls a Leeroy Jenkins*

In the morning, the Crew prepares to leave for Qusay's cave, stripping off their weapons and armor. The two exceptions are Flerm's sword Keagon and Brecaryn's cursed ring.

Used to Flerm's aversion to the sun, the group is surprised to see Alana and Lieralyn exhibiting the same light sensitivity. They confront Alana and Lieralyn about this as well as their actions from the previous night. Lieralyn reacts with anger, offended that her actions would be questioned by her teammates. Alana, on the other hand, exhibits alot of anxiety about going out into the sun and refuses to leave the tent without some sort of head covering.

Nothing gets resolved. Everybody remains suspicious. Zarana rushes them into the desert to the northwest.

They walk two hours in extreme heat. Seeing Oliver is near collapse, Josy casts "Endure Heat" to help him. Nearing their destination, they see tall outcroppings on either side of a path leading to a set of stairs and a cave.

Stopping just shy of the valley, the Crew takes a minute to strategize. They have no weapons and no armour. For Snow, this isn't a problem, but for the others, it has seriously reduced their ability to protect themselves. Alana and Lieralyn suggest getting a height advantage by climbing up the cliffs. But then...

Malouf: Let's go! (runs headlong into the valley, nearly reaching the cave mouth)

The Group: (stares after Malouf, mouths agape) *mutter mutter goddamned Malouf mutter mutter*

Brecaryn: (incredulous) Aren't you going to wait for us?

Three giants burst out of hiding spots against the rockace. Four more can be seen on top of the cliffs. Flerm moves as if to attack, but quickly realizes they're made of stone and he is weaponless.

Lieralyn: What are you doing? They haven't done anything.
(to Giants) Hi! The Zhentils sent us. We're friends!

Giants: All who would pass through the Valley of the Zhentils must face the Challenge of the Giants.

A giant lunges at Lieralyn, knocking her back. The giants on top of the outcroppings begin to hurl boulders at the party. The shattering rock devastates the group.

Snow moves to cover her teammates as she tells them to just run.

Oliver tries to get the giants to attack each other.

Oliver: (to giant) Sir! That other guy was saying terrible things about your mother. He has been impugning her honor!

Sadly, the ruse doesn't work.

Brecaryn and Flerm shoot off fireballs, dancing lights, and fairy fire to distract the giants as they head towards the cave as quickly as they can (which, sadly, isn't very quick for some of them). Klute stays with Snow to help fight the giants. He succeeds very well, transforming one into a swan and another into a snowman while crumbling a third with a touch. Snow destroys a couple of giants before getting temporarily knocked out.

Meanwhile, Malouf has his hands full fighting two giants in front of the cave. He uses his speed and agility to his advantage, maneuvering the giants into hitting each other instead of him with their attacks. It works long enough for Brecaryn to finish them off with a few fireballs.

Just before the majority of the party reaches the cave, a last thrown boulder kills Oliver. Flerm grabs his body. Alana helps a downed Lieralyn. Josy, seeing Snow and Klute fighting and injured, runs back to administer some healing.

Regaining consciousness, Snow is not happy to see Klute and Josy not making a mad dash to the cave.

Snow: I told you guys to run! Why are you still here?

Klute: I'm out of juice, but i'm not abandoning you guys.

Snow: Goddammit! (turning to the last giant)

Klute: I'll distract him.

Snow: (sighs)

Snow kills last giant, and they all make their way wearily into the cave. Inside, they encounter a wizened old man. As each person enters the cave, he greets them with the same phrase.

Qusay: Hee hee hee hee! Welcome! You have all passed the test.

Until he sees Oliver's corpse.

Qusay: Oh...I guess you didn't all pass. Hmm...Zarana doesn't usually send someone so weak. She must have been confused. I can bring him back.

Except his resurrection attempt fails, and Oliver remains dead. The group is devastated. There must be a way to bring Oliver back. They will have Leento preserve the body until they find a way to restore Oliver to life.

Qusay offers to heal the remaining group members. Afterwards, he allows those who so desire to drink from the fountain. Alana, Lieralyn, and Snow get the years taken away by ghosts and haste spells restored. Flerm drinks twice and gains an additional 13 years.

The giants reappear at full health and fully restored to their natural forms. They apologize for killing Oliver. Expecting the group to run as most people do, they are impressed that the group fought back. The giants carry everyone back to the Zhentil camp. Zarana is stricken by Oliver's death, offering apologies.

That night, they go over their strategy for defeating the Oblivion King on the morrow. Brecaryn gives Snow the disks that can control Vain's body. Zarana asks that if they encounter a man with a green hat while in Nizwah to bring his body back. He is her brother.

And then...

Zarana: We are a nomadic desert tribe. We do not have much contact with outsiders. To prevent inbreeding, we have a special tradition. All male travelers are honored with the privilege of sleeping with virgins of our tribe. Their children will be well taken care of. If you agree, you will be well rewarded for your trouble.

Flerm jumps at the offer, but Malouf bashfully declines. The next morning, Flerm's smug expression says it all.

For Once a Working Plan

Returning to the valley by the cave, Josy casts a protection spell centered on Snow as she will be the one to call the lich.

Josy then begins the consecration ritual. Brecaryn casts Qikko's protection spell around Josy to prevent any disruption to Josy's spellcasting when the Oblivion King shows up.

Two minutes before Josy's spell is complete, Flerm downs a Potion of Giant Strength, and

Snow: (shouting) Dar as-Sabtah, I summon you!

Oblivion King: You dare call me?

The battle begins. The Oblivion King lunges for Snow. She dodges. Malouf swings his soul-sucking axe at the lich, smashing into his magickal shield. Klute calls forth lightning and Narasimha drops a boulder, both weakening the shield further.

Keagon: We could try teleporting inside the shield.

Flerm: ...

Keagon: Come, you have swallowed a potion of giant strength. We have the ability to penetrate his shield. Let's do it!

Flerm decides to risk it. He teleports inside the shield, surprising the Oblivion King. Swinging Keagon with all of his potion-enhanced strength, Flerm slices into the lich, causing him to cry out in pain.

Two giants disintegrate what remains of the shield with barrels of holy water and the rest make short work of killing the Oblivion King's body.

Now, the race to Nizwah!

Back to the bulletpoints

*   Leeroy Jenkins is the name of a World of Warcraft character that famously screamed his name, just before ignorantly charging headlong into battle and ruining his group's carefully laid plans. Watch here.

Tags: Alana, Brecaryn, Flerm, Josy, Klute, Lieralyn, Malouf, Narasimha the Sphinx, Oblivion King, Oliver, Puff, Qusay, Snow, Vain, Zarana, Zhentils

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