Session 35:
Last Night


[JadedDM]: Chrysote 21st, Flameday; 16 bells.  After having dusted Elle, the party was going over the treasure they found in the basement as Lilah went upstairs to await the party. The villagers had all run away once freed.  The Nightmaster and Tainted Hands are still present.

[Jasmin]: "Let's go find out what Lilah has to say," Jasmin says as she moves upstairs, obviously not worrying about the treasure.

[Daufer]: Daufer nods, and follows after the warrior woman, though helping to carry the heavy chests.

[Aidan]: Having filled some of his pockets with gold, Aidan moves slowly towards the only exit, up the stairs.

[JadedDM]: Videl, Meschior, Gaheris, the Nightmaster, and the Tainted Hands all ascend the staircase, as well.  They walk silently, many still digesting all that has just happened.  Those who are able also help carry the chests.  The party finds Lilah waiting for them in Elle's old office.  She sits in Elle's chair, looking weary.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin crosses her arms as she looks upon Lilah. "So, are you going to answer our questions?" Jasmin asks, not fully trusting the woman.

[JadedDM]: Lilah nods.  "If I can."

[Jasmin]: "Who are the members of the Bloody Maw?" Jasmin asks again.

[Loreleii]: The librarian looks curiously at the dark green creature.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "With Santeria and Elle dead, and not including myself, the remaining ones are Xriss, Kakona, and Teheth-Obz."

[Aidan]: Aidan wipes more blood from his face, dabbing at the gash across his forehead, and leans against a wall, the coins in his pockets jingling softly as he does so.  He stares at the wall behind Lilah, as if listening intently.

[Jasmin]: "Are they...human?" Jasmin asks curiously. 

[JadedDM]: Lilah shakes her head.  "They are as far from 'human' as one can possibly get.  That is why the three higher ups remain in the Village, while we lower three were the ones sent to mingle amongst the mortals.  We could blend in better."

[Daufer]: "'Village'? Where is that?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "It is our nickname for the pocket dimension that Number One had been sealed in.  It has now become our base of operations."

[Jasmin]: "Number One is sealed in a pocket dimension?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "He was."  She looks to Kricket.  "It was your parents who sealed him away.  He was too powerful to defeat.  However, a few of the Bloody Maw members survived, and eventually found the gateway.  They were able to unlock it, and free him."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Teheth-Obz," he says.  "My parents were the only survivors of that attack.  Supposedly, the monster destroyed all of their companions and the forty soldiers that helped them."

[Aidan]: "How were your parents the only ones to survive?" Aidan asks, facing Kricket.

[JadedDM]: Kricket shrugs.  "Luck?  Grit?  Divine favor?  From what I understand, they only just barely survived themselves.  I remember Mother saying Father was bed-ridden for four months after the battle."

[Jasmin]: "...How are we supposed to defeat him if he is that powerful?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Perhaps you cannot.  But you are the only ones who even have a chance.  That is why our efforts have been directed toward you three groups:  The Shadow Bats, the Vermin Plague, and the Tainted Hands.  You were all seen as threats."

[JadedDM]: The Nightmaster crosses his arms.  "And so you helped fan the flames of hatred between us, allowing us to weaken ourselves for you."

[JadedDM]: Lilah nods.  "Number One had hoped you would finish each other off.  And you nearly did."

[Jasmin]: "So now we are going to have to work together if we want to save Voxis."

[Aidan]: "Good of us to chase off or kill new recruits rather than hear them out," Aidan mutters softly with a roll of his eyes.  "What about the Viscount in Voxis?  Is he part of the Bloody Maw?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "No, he is but a pawn.  A weak-willed human who has grown too soft.  He isn't even aware he is being manipulated."

[Aidan]: "Who is manipulating him?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances sharply to Aidan for a moment, but says nothing as her eyes narrow.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Number Two, Xriss.  He is an expert at both controlling and reading minds.  Even my own power pales in comparison."

[Daufer]: "Yes, tell us more of their strengths and weaknesses."

[Aidan]: "He can work his powers from this 'Village'?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "No, he must come to this world.  He slips in through a conduit, into the mansion, when the Viscount sleeps.  That is when he is most vulnerable."

[Jasmin]: "What else can Xriss do besides control and read minds?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "He eats them, as well," she says with a shudder.

[Loreleii]: "What exactly is he?" Loreleii says, shocked.

[Airellian]: ((Donotsaymindflayerdonotsaymindflayer.))

[Aidan]: "...He eats minds?  How exactly does he do that?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "I do not know the name of his...'people.'  But I believe the name your kind uses to describe him is 'mind flayer.'"

[Airellian]: ((Damn you.))

[Aidan]: ((woo hoo!))

[Jasmin]: (aw shit.)

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Indeed?  I thought they were myths."

[Loreleii]: Loreleii's eyes widen at the revelation.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "He wraps his tentacles around your head, burrows into your skull, and...slurps out the brains.  I have witnessed it myself.  I didn't eat for a week afterward."

[Jasmin]: "Well, that sounds....lovely," Jasmin says, looking rather disgusted herself. "What are Kakona and Number One?"

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "By the gods...and he is but the second in command?"

[Daufer]: Daufer shifts uncomfortably in anticipation of more dread news.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Kakona is a demon of the abyss, a Tanar'ri known as a succubus.  She specializes in controlling men by using their own weaknesses for the flesh against them."

[Jasmin]: (Damnit.)

[Jasmin]: "Well, for this mismatched group that might be a problem," Jasmin says with a small smirk.

[Aidan]: "And this...Teheth-Obz?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Teheth-Obz is..," she pauses, and shudders.  "How can I even describe him?  He is of an ancient race.  So ancient, I do not even know what they were called.  Yes, I say 'were,' because they nearly wiped themselves out eons ago.  They are a highly xenophobic species who look down upon any and all they see as 'inferior'...which is just about everyone."

[Daufer]: "What can he be, that he could control a mind flayer and a demon of the Abyss with ease?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "A monster.  A true monster.  He can turn a man to dust or stone with but a glance.  All magic in his presence fails.  He has the power to control minds, to move objects by merely thinking of them...he is all-powerful."

[Aidan]: "Then how was he trapped in this pocket dimension?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "It was an artifact known as the Crystal Key.  It can seal away anyone or anything if used properly.  Number One did not foresee it being used against him, and so was caught unaware."

[Jasmin]: "It is doubtful we can get our hands on that again isn't it?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "The very first thing Number One did upon being freed was to seek it out and destroy it.  He does not make the same mistake twice."

[Jasmin]: "He must have some sort of weaknesses."

[Daufer]: "Then, what are we to do? A sword will do very little against foes such as these."

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "If he has any weaknesses, I have not learned them."

[Aidan]: "Well, what do they want with Voxis?"

[Daufer]: "Even the blessings of the Dark Goddess or the Shadow Trickster will not avail us, nor the arcane powers of our wizards, it seems."

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "To open the door--the Bloody Maw for which we are named for."

[Aidan]: "Might there be a way to keep that closed without needing to fight them directly?"

[Jasmin]: "Why do they want to suck us all into the Abyss?"

[Daufer]: "But, why do they want to open the door? For what purpose?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "If you could disrupt their plans, that would keep the Maw closed.  At least until they could try again."  She looks to Jasmin and then Daufer.  "You don't understand.  Yes, Voxis will be pulled into the Abyss.  But that is not his objective; itís only a side-effect.  The gateway between this world and the Abyss is two-way."

[Daufer]: Daufer says, hesitating, not quite understanding, "He wants to go into the Abyss?"

[Jasmin]: "You...You mean it would free..." Jasmin says, not even able to finish that sentence.

[JadedDM]: Meschior blanches.  "He wishes to free the Vile One."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin seems to pale at that news.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "And because of the agreement between the other gods not to interfere in this world directly, the world would be His playground."

[Daufer]: "Well, we'll just have to stop that from happening, somehow."

[Aidan]: "What exactly are their plans then, so they might be able to be disrupted?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "The next step of their plan will be enacted soon.  They have been keeping me out of the loop lately, of course.  But I do know that the next step is to soak the land with the blood of the Faithless.  This will prepare the Maw for opening.  Now that the Three Pillars of Faith in Voxis have been disrupted, the people have no gods to turn to.  They have stopped believing.  They are ripe for slaughter.  However, I don't think the Maw will dirty their hands themselves.  They'll probably find some other way to kill all those people."

[Daufer]: "Then, we should leave as soon as possible. Immediately. If they plan to enact their plans soon, there's not a moment to lose."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Should we at least rest up first?"

[Jasmin]: "Is there even enough time to rest up?" Jasmin asks.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "I know of a way you can save some time."

[Jasmin]: "How?"

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Among Elle's belongings, I am sure she still had one teleportation scroll left, for an emergency."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Okay.  I think I saw a scroll in one of these chests."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris opens up the chest he had been carrying, and inside are some potions, a wand, and a scroll.  "Here we go."  He picks up the scroll and hands it to Aidan.  "Can you read it?"

[Aidan]: Aidan takes the scroll and unrolls it, examining it carefully.  He squints, furrowing his brow as he continues reading.  "I suppose I might be able to cast it.  It'd probably lead to some interesting results if I end up reading it incorrectly, though."

[Daufer]: "Where would we teleport?"

[Aidan]: "I could aim for the library, I guess."

[Loreleii]: "Maybe we should rest first? Some of us are wounded," Loreleii says.

[Jasmin]: "I say we teleport there then rest."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris nods.  "Yeah, and...best make the most of what little time we have.  This could be our last night alive."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "That would give us time to identify these treasures.  Perhaps there is something useful here."

[Aidan]: "In that case it would probably be better to rest before teleporting.  I might get some blood in my eye while casting, or develop an itch...You never know."

[Loreleii]: "I might be able to help with the potions."

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "I will aid you then, Loreleii."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances around for a few moments. "I guess I'll go find somewhere to rest," she says.

[JadedDM]: As Meschior and Loreleii go over the potions, Gaheris steps outside.  Videl sits down and seems to think.  Kricket leaves, as well.  Cardel starts counting out the treasure, and Eskar helps.  Liam steps outside.  Lilah simply remains where she is.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks down at her hands before she turns from Lilah, and steps outside.

[Aidan]: Aidan takes one more look at the scroll, then rolls it up and sets it near Meschior and Loreleii.  He walks outside, off to the inn to retrieve his things.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin steps out into the main hall.  The front doors hang open, and the moonlight shines in.  Liam leans up against the wall by the doors, looking out into the night.

[JadedDM]: Aidan returns to the inn without incident.  There is nobody there to greet him, not even Nabal.  No telling where he ran off to.

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "Let's start with this potion," he says, retrieving one at random from the chest.

[Daufer]: Daufer crouches down near Meschior and Loreleii.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin walks up beside Liam. "What's on your mind?" she asks softly.

[JadedDM]: Liam shrugs.  "All I wanted was to be an explorer--a mapmaker.  Now I'm going to help save the world.  Or die trying."

[Aidan]: Aidan slips the gold he was going to use to pay for his and Eskar's room back into his pockets, then heads upstairs, where he is greeted by an angrily flapping Amaris. Ignoring the bat's emotions for the moment, he uses a throwing dagger to cut some strips from his bedsheet to tie across his still-bleeding cuts.

[JadedDM]: Meschior unstops the potion and sniffs at it.  "Hmm...pretty sure this is a healing potion."

[Jasmin]: "If we survive, you can still become an explorer," she says. "You'll be a hero too."

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "Do you really think we can survive?  Much less win?"

[Daufer]: Daufer says a quiet blessing and heals Meschior.

[Daufer]: [1d8] -> [6] = (6)

[Daufer]: "Save that for later," Daufer says, indicating the potion.

[JadedDM]: Meschior is completely healed.  "My thanks, Sir Daufer," he says before pulling out the second potion and handing it to Loreleii.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii inspects the bottle that Meschior handed to her. Opening it, she allows for a slight whiff.

[Jasmin]: "I don't know, but we kind of have to," Jasmin points out.

[Aidan]: Aidan gathers his remaining things into his backpack and turns to leave, holding out an arm for Amaris as he waits for her to calm down.  Once the bat is safely perched on his shoulder, scowling at their surroundings, Aidan heads back to Big Boss' place.

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "I suppose we do.  I am descended from heroes, after all.  I guess it's in my blood, whether I like it or not."

[Loreleii]: [1d20] -> [2] = (2)

[JadedDM]: As Aidan returns to the mansion, he spots Gaheris standing by the front gate, as if standing guard from something.

[Loreleii]: "This one as well," Loreleii says, setting it down next to the first potion of healing.

[JadedDM]: Meschior pulls out a third potion.  "And this one is..." he examines it.  "Err, I have no idea."  He hands it to Loreleii.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii examines the bottle herself.

[Loreleii]: [1d20] -> [16] = (16)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin places a hand on Liam's shoulder gently. "I'm descended from a bunch of nobodies," Jasmin says. "It doesn't matter what is in your blood, I don't think."

[Loreleii]: Loreleii stares at the bottle for a long moment. "I don't know what it is, either," she says, finally.

[Aidan]: Aidan glances at Gaheris, but continues forward towards the mansion.

[Daufer]: Daufer steps up and walks out, making his way towards his friend.

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "Perhaps not."

[JadedDM]: Meschior frowns.  "Let's try this one then," he says, handing her a fourth.

[JadedDM]: Walking by Gaheris, Aidan then comes up to the front steps of the mansion.  Kricket sits upon them.  He nods absently to the mage, but says nothing.

[JadedDM]: Daufer, meanwhile, walks outside.  He spots Liam and Jasmin talking in the main hall.  She has her hand on his shoulder.

[Daufer]: The priest walks past the two.

[Aidan]: Aidan lets the two men continue their brooding and returns to Elle's office.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin watches Daufer walk past as she removes her hand from Liam's shoulder. "I don't know how we are all going to work together considering we all hate each other."

[JadedDM]: Daufer steps outside then, down the stairs past Kricket.  Gaheris stands over by the gates, his arms crossed.  Meanwhile, Aidan walks inside, past Jasmin and Liam, and back into Elle's office.

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "The alternative is to stand by while hell is literally unleashed on earth."

[Jasmin]: "It would be interesting, but I'm not that much of a daredevil." Jasmin smiles faintly before she kisses Liam's cheek. "Enjoy this night."

[Aidan]: Aidan returns to the space of wall he had previously occupied, settling down against it and opening his spellbook to study.  Amaris hops into his lap, looking intently at the book, as well.

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "For it may be our last," he says, echoing Gaheris' earlier sentiment.

[Jasmin]: "I rather not think about that," she says as she moves to walk past Liam to step further outside.

[Daufer]: Daufer finally walks up to his friend, Gaheris.

[JadedDM]: Jasmin walks down the front steps, and finds Kricket sitting there, looking up at the sliver of red moon left in the night sky.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Never really thought this would happen," he says to his old friend.  "Remember when our only concern was where our next job would be?"

[Daufer]: Daufer nods as he chants a quiet prayer for his friend. The thief's wounds heal.

[Daufer]: [1d20] -> [2] = (2)

[Jasmin]: "You know, for such a charming man," Jasmin starts to say as she moves to sit down next to Kricket. "You are kind of evil."

[Loreleii]: [1d8] -> [7] = (7)

[Daufer]: "Yes, those days were not so far away."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris is fully healed.  "Thanks.  Yeah, it just seems like yesterday.  Then again, it kind of feels like a year ago, too."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "It's an evil world."

[Loreleii]: "A potion of flying," Loreleii says. "What about you?"

[JadedDM]: Meschior checks the last one.  "Hmm...Strength Potion.  Frost Giant Strength, judging by how chilled it is."

[Jasmin]: "Maybe.  You really wouldn't let one of your sons leave if they wanted to?" Jasmin asks curiously.

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "That's a rather moot question by this point."

[Loreleii]: Loreleii tabulates their findings. "Two potions of healing, a potion of flying, and a potion of frost giant strength. And one unknown potion."

[JadedDM]: Meschior then picks up the wand.  "How about this?  Any idea what it might do?"

[Jasmin]: "True." Jasmin shrugs. "I just never really thought you were that way. You only showed me one side though."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "I did what I had to, to ensure our survival as a slayer group."

[Daufer]: "Hopefully, we can stop this," Daufer says. He looks intently at his friend. "Are you going to be okay? Working with the Tainted Hands?"

[Loreleii]: "Let's see," Loreleii says, inspecting the wand.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris chuckles.  "Will you be okay, working with the Nightmaster?"

[Daufer]: Daufer shrugs. "Good point."

[Jasmin]: "It doesn't really matter now though," Jasmin says. "Why are you out here?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "It beats having the world conquered by demons, I guess."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "It's my world, too.  If the Bloody Maw wins, there will be no place to hide or run to."

[Jasmin]: "Did you ever think you would be fighting the same enemy as your parents?"

[JadedDM]: Kricket shakes his head.  "I did not.  I thought, as I'm sure they did, that would have been the last of the Bloody Maw."

[Jasmin]: "Do we have a chance?"

[Daufer]: Daufer nods, having no argument with Gaheris' statement. "Even if we stop this one attempt, they'll still be out there, safe in their 'Village'."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Of course.  We're the Tainted Hands, after all."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Then we'll worry about that if it happens."

[Loreleii]: [1d20] -> [9] = (9)

[Jasmin]: "I'm not just talking about the Tainted Hands. I'm talking about all of us because we are going to have to work together."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Your assistance in this will help, I'm sure.  We can't lose then."

[Loreleii]: "This wand has the spell, Magic Missile, embedded within. That'll come in useful," Loreleii says.

[Jasmin]: "You are going to try to take all the credit aren't you?" Jasmin asks, sounding rather amused.

[JadedDM]: The Nightmaster approaches Meschior and Loreleii.  "How is it going?" he asks.

[JadedDM]: Kricket doesn't answer, but merely smirks.

[Loreleii]: The librarian looks up, startled by the aged priest. "Um, f-fine."

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "Anything that might help us in this battle?"

[Loreleii]: Loreleii tells the Nightmaster what she and Meschior have found.

[Daufer]: Daufer smiles slightly. "Yes, yes, I know all too well."

[JadedDM]: The goblin cleric picks up the unidentified potion and examines it.  "Potion of Extra-Healing, I believe."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin gives the older man a bit of a nudge with her shoulder. "I'm not going to let you do that, you know."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris sighs.  "And to think, just the other day we were bickering over pyrolisks.  Now we face demons and who knows what else."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "We'll see."

[Daufer]: "The world is larger than ourselves," Daufer says simply.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "And now it rests upon our shoulders."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin stands and shakes her head at Kricket as she walks towards the gates.

[Daufer]: "Well, you should feel proud, friend," Daufer says. "The threat to the world thought the group you raised was a big enough problem to have to deal with."

[Loreleii]: "That will definitely be useful," Loreleii exclaims, forgetting for a moment who she's speaking with.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "And these," he says, picking up one of the candles.  "I've seen these before.  Incense of Meditation."

[JadedDM]: Jasmin approaches the gates and sees Daufer and Gaheris speaking.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I never really thought of that.  I guess you're right."  He looks up into the sky.

[Loreleii]: "What's that do?" she asks curiously.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "If a cleric burns them while he prays, his prayers will become stronger for one day."

[Loreleii]: Loreleii begins writing down all the identifications they've made with some quill and parchment.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin remains quiet for the moment as Daufer and Gaheris talk.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "Five candles, total.  I'll take one.  The other four can be split between you and the hobgoblin."

[Daufer]: The priest looks over at the warrior woman, hesitating, and then looks back at Gaheris. He says, grudgingly, "You did well against the vampire."

[Jasmin]: "...With your help," she adds hesitantly.

[Daufer]: Daufer bows. "I was merely a conduit for the jat'lyn. You did the work."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris chuckles.  "Are you two being civil to each other?  Oh, gods...the world really is ending."

[Daufer]: Daufer looks at Gaheris without amusement in his expression.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin wrinkles her nose at Gaheris. "You two aren't being all thoughtful and brooding too are you?"

[Loreleii]: "Is there anything else we could identify?" Loreleii asks, scrounging through the chests.

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "The sword and the armor.  Could they be magical?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Maybe."

[Daufer]: Daufer coughs loudly.

[Jasmin]: "That means yes. How is that enjoying our last night alive?"

[Loreleii]: "There's no way for me to know right now," Loreleii says. "Perhaps Aidan...?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Well, what are you doing then?"

[Aidan]: Aidan looks up from his memorization at the sound of his name.  He glances about the room, then stands, holding Amaris and his spellbook open before him, as he turns towards the priests, librarian, and treasure.  "Yes?  Did you say something?"

[Loreleii]: "Could you help us identify these last few items?" Loreleii says politely.

[Jasmin]: "Uh...well..." Jasmin gives a little shrug.

[Aidan]: Aidan sighs, carrying his book forward as Amaris flaps into the air.  He mutters a few words as he steps closer, moving his fingers in complicated gestures.

[Daufer]: "Well, we have many hours, yet. No one says that we must stay in this dark, dank house."

[Aidan]: Aidan runs a finger down both items.  "They're definitely enchanted."  He flips a few pages through his spellbook.  "It may take some time to fully identify them, though."

[Loreleii]: "Perhaps some hint can be gleaned from its making?" Loreleii inspects the sword and armor for any hint to what its purpose may have been.

[Jasmin]: "There is no where else to really go in this small place." Jasmin glances up to the sky for a few moments. "I should apologize."

[Daufer]: Daufer raises his brows. "Oh?"

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "They may have special powers.  Or they may just be lighter and stronger than regular arms."

[Jasmin]: "I'm not sure what I'm apologizing for other than the fact I was wrong about the Tainted Hands."

[Loreleii]: "Aidan, perhaps you should wait?" Loreleii says with some concern. "Won't you be weak after casting that spell?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Yeah, you were.  I'm glad you realize that now, though."

[Aidan]: "I would, yes.  And I don't exactly have the proper materials for it with me.  Or the time to prepare the items.  I'm afraid I can't say anything more about these items."

[Loreleii]: "Well, if anyone dares to use them, perhaps they'll come in useful." She sets the armor and sword aside.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin opens her mouth to say more, but she seems to decide against it as her mouth closes. "Well, I guess I'll let you two talk then."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Wait, Jasmin.  There's something I need to talk to you about."

[Daufer]: "I should as well," Daufer says as she leaves. "I had thought the very worst of you, but, it turned out that you were not of sound mind. I apologize for thinking the worst of you."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin turns to leave but pauses upon hearing Gaheris. "Thank you," she says to Daufer.

[Aidan]: Aidan shrugs and returns to his memorization.

[Daufer]: Daufer nods. "I'll leave you two together." He walks towards the rest of the parties.

[JadedDM]: The Nightmaster then turns to Eskar.  "And you..."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin watches Daufer walk off, then turns to face Gaheris.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii looks in alarm at the Nightmaster.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I'm glad you're okay now," he says.

[JadedDM]: Eskar, gnawing on some charcoal, looks at the goblin blankly.  "Wha?"

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "I invested into you some of my power.  You were to be my champion.  But instead, you are a waste of flesh.  I would not have been caught off-guard by the vampire, had I not sunk most of my strength into empowering you."

[Jasmin]: "I wouldn't say I'm exactly okay."

[Daufer]: Daufer looks at the confrontation between dwarf and goblin with some puzzlement.

[Aidan]: Aidan looks up from his spellbook, caught between being mildly amused and cautiously prepared to defend someone as he listens in.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris puts his hands on her shoulders.  "That's okay.  We'll get through this together.  I promise."

[JadedDM]: Eskar:  "Is good business, yes?"

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "No, I believe it was more of a mistake.  If we are to stop the end of the world, I will require my full strength.  You will simply waste it."

[Daufer]: "What's going on?" Daufer asks Meschior and Loreleii.

[Jasmin]: "Why would you want to help me though? I betrayed you...more times than either of us can count. I'm just...well a screw up I think is what you called it," she says softly. For a change, she doesn't sound bitter or upset.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii shakes her head quickly, caught between surprise and bewilderment.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris smiles.  "That's all right.  You're my screw-up."

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  ""Klaatu barada nikto!" he commands, and a dark aura of energy seeps out of the dwarf and into the goblin.  When it is done, Eskar falls down on his rear, the darkness in his armor, sword, and eyes now gone.

[Jasmin]: "...When did I become your screw-up?" Jasmin looks somewhat confused. "When did that even become a good thing?"

[Aidan]: Aidan raises an eyebrow, but returns his attention to his spellbook.

[Daufer]: "Wha... what did you do to him?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Jasmin, what I'm trying to say is...if we survive this, I don't want to be apart from you again."

[JadedDM]: The Nightmaster sighs with relief.  "I have taken back my gifts to him."

[JadedDM]: Eskar grunts and rubs at his heart.  "Aww."

[Daufer]: "I see," Daufer says, his eyes glittering with distrust.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "Now that I am at full strength, I can raise the dead again.  This might prove useful in this battle, yes?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin snaps her head up to look at Gaheris in complete surprise. "But I thought that you..." she kind of trails off.

[Daufer]: "Wasn't the dwarf weak as kittens after you raised him?"

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "Well, yes.  But it at least gives us the chance to fight again some other day."

[Daufer]: "If you remain alive, you mean."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Jasmin, the reason I'm so hard on you all of the time is because you mean so much to me.  I don't want to see you get yourself killed or hurt."

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "It is a gamble, I know.  But it's a gamble I am willing to take.  I suppose a hobgoblin wouldn't know much about such things.  You probably wouldn't even know how to deal a deck of cards, yes?"

[Daufer]: Daufer almost responds to the insult in kind, but something clicks inside the priest's head, and he looks inside his backpack, rummaging around for something. He pulls out a small box and presents it to the casters. "I pulled this off from a troll a day's journey from Nikolas. I wonder if it might be something more than it seems. It seems odd that a troll would hold something like this."

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "Oh, yes.  The deck of cards.  That was quite strange."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin glances down at her feet quietly. "You know, you could have just told me that instead of making me feel bad. When Siara was brought into the group...you were just so nice to her."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "She was new.  I was trying to help make her feel welcome."

[Loreleii]: "I remember as well," Loreleii says. "Yes, it did seem odd. He even had a magical scroll."

[Jasmin]: "You didn't do that when Aidan or Eskar joined."

[Aidan]: "You found a deck of cards on that troll?" Aidan asks, looking up from his spellbook.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I don't like Eskar.  And I was nice to Aidan.  He just...isn't very sociable."

[Daufer]: "Yes," the priest says, opening the box, the cards within for all to see.

[JadedDM]: The moment Daufer opens the box, something happens.  A cloud of red smoke emerges from the deck and then collects itself into one spot, right on top of Elle's desk.  This smoke condenses and forms into a solid being--an impish looking creature with red skin and wearing exotic clothes.  "Contraya!" he bellows.

[Jasmin]: "....Well, now I kind of have to survive don't I?"

[Daufer]: Daufer, taken aback, takes a quick step back, almost dropping the box.

[JadedDM]: Even Lilah stands up in shock at this.

[Loreleii]: The librarian lets out a small scream.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris kisses her softly.  "You better."

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Ahh, do not scream!  I am here to serve!  Contraya!"

[Aidan]: Aidan stands from his seated position, stepping back cautiously.  Amaris flaps towards the ceiling and shrieks.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii stops screaming, and looks ever so curiously at the imp.

[Daufer]: "Serve us? Who are you? Wh-- what are you?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin smiles faintly. "The same goes for you, too."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris starts when he hears Loreleii screaming from inside.  "Crap!"  He grabs his sword and runs back to the door.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "I am a guide, a servant, chosen to serve he who should open the Deck of Many Things."  He gives a little bow.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin blinks and runs off after Gaheris.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii gives a faint gasp. "The Deck--"

[Daufer]: "What is that? This, this Deck of Many Things?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Of Many Things," he finishes.  "Yes, a blessing and a curse, the deck can bring about all your dreams...or your nightmares.  Contraya!"

[JadedDM]: Liam, Kricket, Jasmin and Gaheris all rush into the room.

[Daufer]: Daufer whispers to Meschior. "Why does he keep saying that?"

[JadedDM]: Meschior shrugs.  "A greeting of sorts?"

[Daufer]: "What do you mean, a blessing and a curse?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin slides to a halt upon seeing the Imp. "What is going on?"

[JadedDM]: The imp explains.  "The Deck of Many Things is a powerful device.  That is my purpose.  To explain.  You see, to use the Deck of Many Things is to take great risk.  I am, how you say, the warning label.  This seemingly normal deck of cards has the power to change space, time, and even fate!"

[Aidan]: "...And how does it do that?"

[Loreleii]: "You mean you're real?!"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "First, you must declare how many cards you wish to draw.  Be warned!  Once the allotted number has been drawn, the Deck shall vanish, as shall I.  To await our next master.  Once the number is chosen, the cards may be drawn.  Each card has a power.  This power may be good, or it may be bad.  There is no way to know until it is drawn."

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "The ultimate gamble then.  The more cards you draw, the higher the chance you'll bring about your own ruin.  But also the greater the chance you'll get lucky, as well."

[JadedDM]: The Imp bows to the goblin.  "Correct!"

[Daufer]: Daufer looks at the Deck with eyes of distrust.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin raises an eyebrow. "So with a deck of cards, we can change our fate?"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "But we have no idea what that fate might be changing to?"

[Aidan]: "Is the card's power used immediately, or whenever the holder wishes to use the card?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Once drawn, the power of the card is unleashed at once."

[Daufer]: "Can it give us the power to defeat the Bloody Maw?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "It may.  Or it may destroy you.  It can bring you riches or take away everything you own.  There is no telling!"  The imp nods and claps his hands enthusiastically.

[Aidan]: "So who gets to draw the cards?  Daufer, for opening the box?"

[Daufer]: Daufer looks at the Deck, again with ever deepening distrust.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "The one you call Daufer may designate the number of cards drawn.  Any who may wish can draw the cards, at his permission."

[Daufer]: "This sounds like the Trickster's gambit. Surely, it is an artifact created by him."

[JadedDM]: (And yeah, you can use a Soul Point to change what you draw, if you have one.  ^_^)

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "I agree.  It sounds like His work.  Although strange I have never heard of this artifact."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks over to Gaheris curiously. "You are the gambler. Maybe you should do it."

[Airellian]: ((Fooey. Don't have any.))

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Looks like it's up to Daufer who draws, and how many."

[Aidan]: "It doesn't particularly sound like destroying oneself is all that much of a gamble considering we're facing the opening of the Bloody Maw.  In which case, it can't hurt to draw several cards."

[Daufer]: Daufer sighs. "Any who wish to draw a card, may do so."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "I'll draw one."

[Jasmin]: "Well, how exactly does this work? Do we wish for something, and then draw a card?" Jasmin asks.

[Daufer]: Daufer nods, already a forgone conclusion.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "No, you simply draw the card and hope for the best!"

[JadedDM]: Cardel:  "I'll draw one, too.  I feel lucky."

[Airellian]: ((It'll be hilarious if we TPK because of this deck.))

[Aidan]: "I'll draw one, also."  Aidan closes his spellbook on a finger, holding the page as he steps forward.

[Jasmin]: "...Okay, um I'll draw one then."

[Daufer]: "Is that all?" Daufer says, looking around.

[Loreleii]: Loreleii looks at Meschior, questioningly.

[Jasmin]: "Wait...I'll draw two."

[JadedDM]: Meschior shakes his head.  "No, thanks."

[Loreleii]: "Then, I will not, as well," Loreleii says, squeezing Meschior's hand.

[Aidan]: "Well if we can draw more than one, I'll take three."

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "So, how many cards will that be?" he asks Daufer.

[Daufer]: "Gaheris Argent shall draw one, Cardel Mezos shall draw one, Aidan Rysid shall draw one, Jasmin Labree shall draw one, Aidan Rysid shall draw another, Jasmin Labree shall draw another, Aidan Rysid will draw his last...and...I will draw the final card."

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Contraya!" he shouts, raising his hands over his head, he claps eight times.  Then the number 8 appears magically upon the deck.

[Daufer]: Daufer holds the deck out for his friend. "Luck."

[Airellian]: ((This is nerve-wracking.))

[Jasmin]: Jasmin moves beside Gaheris, taking hold of one of his hands. "Remember I'm your lucky charm," she says cheerfully.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris reaches out and pulls out a card.  The number 8 vanishes and is replaced by a 7.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris holds up the card.  It has what appear to be the ruins of an old castle upon it.

[Jasmin]: "...What does that mean?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "The Ruin card!"  He claps.

[Aidan]: "Destruction, fate, the usual sort of thing," Aidan says to Jasmin without much concern.  "It's not necessarily bad, though I've no idea what sort of power might be involved with it..."

[JadedDM]: The card rises from Gaheris' hand, shimmers in the air, and then releases a burst of energy.  The card then slips back into the deck at a random spot.  A soft whirlwind surrounds Gaheris, and then nothing more.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin blinks a few times. "Uh..."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris blinks and pats himself down.  "Hey...my money!  It's gone!"

[JadedDM]: The imp nods.  "Contraya!  You have lost all valuables!  Money, gems, land...it is all gone, forever!"

[JadedDM]: Gaheris looks like he's about to vomit.  "Wha....what?!  All of it?!"

[Aidan]: "Monetary ruin it is," Aidan says, nodding to himself.

[JadedDM]: The thief staggers and nearly falls to his knees.

[Daufer]: Daufer looks sadly at his old friend. He holds the deck up to Cardel.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks down at Gaheris. "Looks like we need to find a new place to live."

[JadedDM]: Cardel:  "Tough luck, Argent," he says, and then pulls out a card.  The number this time turns to 6.

[JadedDM]: Cardel holds up the card.  It has no picture on it at all.  Rather, it is completely black.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Ahh, the Void card!"  He claps again.

[JadedDM]: The card rises from Cardel's hand, shimmers in the air, and then releases a burst of energy.  The card then slips back into the deck at a random point.  A strange, black aura of energy envelops Cardel, and when it's finished, he just stands there, looking straight ahead, blankly.

[Jasmin]: "Cardel?" Jasmin asks, waving a hand in front of his face.

[Loreleii]: "What happened?"

[Aidan]: "That one looks to have a pretty bad effect...."

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Ah, most tragic.  His body remains, but his mind is gone.  Transported off to another realm.  He has no free will, but is merely an automation--he does what he's told, and nothing else."

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "So how is he any different than before?"

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Liam!"  He turns to the Imp.  "Is there anyway to retrieve his mind?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Possibly, possibly.  One can never tell."  He shrugs, apologetically.

[Daufer]: "Perhaps the power to undo the damage lies within this Deck. We must continue." The hobgoblin holds the deck out for Aidan.

[Aidan]: "Do I have to draw from the top, or can I draw from anywhere in the deck?" Aidan asks the imp.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "You may draw from where you wish."

[Aidan]: Aidan pulls a card from somewhere mid-deck.

[JadedDM]: The card Aidan draws has a Jester on it.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Ah, how lucky!  A choice!"

[Aidan]: "A choice?"

[JadedDM]: The Imp bobs his head.  "You may choose your fate, wizard.  You can choose to draw two more cards OR you may choose to increase your magical power."

[Aidan]: "I suppose those two cards would be the rest of my three, rather than an extra two?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "No, rather, you now can draw five cards instead of three."

[Aidan]: Aidan's eyes linger over the deck of cards.  "And what do you mean my 'increasing my magical power'?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Your knowledge and experience will grow significantly, increasing your power and strength in the process."

[Aidan]: "I'll take the power."

[JadedDM]: The Jester card raises from Aidan's hand, discharges some green energy, and then rather than return to the deck, vanishes.  This energy swarms Aidan, surging him with raw knowledge and power.

[JadedDM]: (Aidan gains 10,000 XP.)

[Daufer]: Daufer presents the Deck to Jasmin next.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin takes a deep breath, and takes a card from the very end.

[JadedDM]: The card Jasmin pulls has a throne on it.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks to the Imp." And what does that mean?"

[Aidan]: "Leadership..." Aidan mutters.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Ahh, the Throne Card.  You will become a true leader with this gift."

[JadedDM]: The card rises from Jasmin's hand, discharges blue energy, and then returns to the deck.  The energy swarms Jasmin before dissipating.

[JadedDM]: (Jasmin's CHA is raised to 18.)

[Daufer]: Daufer presents the deck to Aidan once more.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "You will also become owner of your own keep, although that may come later on."

[Aidan]: Aidan draws a card from near the top this time.

[JadedDM]: Aidan draws the same card that Jasmin did.

[Aidan]: "Well that's interesting."

[JadedDM]: (Aidan's CHA is raised to 18.)

[Daufer]: Daufer presents the deck to Jasmin once more.

[JadedDM]: The imp applauds.  "Your keep will come to you later on, as well."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin smiles faintly before she draws from somewhere in the middle of the deck.

[JadedDM]: The card Jasmin draws has a key on it.

[JadedDM]: The card rises into the air, discharges red energy, and then returns to the deck.  The red energy swirls around the room, then divides itself into two.  The first envelops Jasmin's weapon, Radiant Star.  The second transforms into a scroll and lands in her hands.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks down at the scroll in her hands. "What is all of this?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Most lucky!  You hold in your hands a treasure map to great wealth!"

[Jasmin]: "...What happened to my sword?"

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Draw it out, and see!"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin carefully pulls Radiant Star from its place on her back to look it over.

[JadedDM]: The blade now glows with a red light, instead of white.  And it now radiates heat, as well.

[JadedDM]: (Radiant Star is now +2)

[Daufer]: Daufer presents the deck to Aidan a final time.

[Jasmin]: "Nice," she says, looking rather impressed.

[JadedDM]: (She actually drew the Void card.  Lucky thing she had one SP left.)

[Aidan]: Aidan draws a card from near the bottom.

[Airellian]: ((That would have sucked.))

[JadedDM]: The card Aidan draws has a knight on it.

[Aidan]: (especially after being charmed.  ouch :p)

[JadedDM]: The card rises into the air and discharges white energy before returning to the deck.  This energy forms into a suit of armor that moves of its own accord, despite having no wearer.  The armor draws its sword, kneels by Aidan, and wordlessly holds the sword out to him in a gesture of servitude.

[JadedDM]: (Aidan gains a 4th level henchmen warrior.)

[Aidan]: "Excellent," Aidan says softly.  Amaris shrieks jealously from the ceiling.

[Jasmin]: "He gets his own knight?" Jasmin stares.

[JadedDM]: Imp:  "Loyal and obedient to the end, it will fight to the death for him."

[Aidan]: Aidan gestures for the knight to rise.

[JadedDM]: The knight does so without question.

[Daufer]: "One last card," Daufer says, with some trepidation. He draws from the deck.

[Airellian]: ((Oh man.))

[JadedDM]: The card Daufer draws has a star on it.

[JadedDM]: The card lifts into the air and discharges a golden energy.  This energy swarms Daufer before vanishing.  The card returns to the deck, the number 1 on it vanishes, and the deck closes.

[JadedDM]: (Daufer receives a permanent +2 to WIS.)

[JadedDM]: The imp bows and claps his hands.  "Contraya!" he bellows, before he and the deck vanish in a puff of smoke.

[Daufer]: Daufer blinks at the imp's abrupt departure.

[Aidan]: Aidan looks about the room.  "Well.  I suppose that went pretty well."

[Daufer]: "Sorry, friend," Daufer says to Gaheris.

[Jasmin]: "Hey, I get a keep apparently so it is okay, Gaheris."

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Well...I guess riches don't matter much if we don't live anyway."

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "Perhaps now we should try and get some rest before morning."

[Jasmin]: Jasmin unrolls the scroll in her hand curiously as she finds a place to rest.

[JadedDM]: The night passes and everyone gets some sleep and replenishes their spells and prayers.

[JadedDM]: The following morning, everyone meets up near the front gate of Nikola.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin paces a bit near the front of the gate.

[JadedDM]: Kricket and Liam, with the monotone Cardel in tow, arrive.

[Daufer]: Daufer has come as well, with his mule in tow.

[JadedDM]: Videl arrives next.  "Well, little sister...I don't really know what the @#$% is going on around here, but if you need my help, I'm here."

[JadedDM]: (Everyone regains 1 HP.)

[Jasmin]: Jasmin smiles to Videl. "Think you can handle it?" she asks.

[Airellian]: ((Can we say we prayed the night before with the incense?))

[JadedDM]: Videl glances to his missing arm.  "Probably not, but I might be of some help."

[JadedDM]: (Sure.)

[Aidan]: Aidan, Amaris, and his shining animated warrior arrive.  Aidan's amateurly bandaged wounds don't look much better, but they at least keep the blood from making a mess.  He looks around for Meschior and Loreleii as he unravels the teleportation scroll he had picked up before leaving.

[Jasmin]: "Don't let the fact that you only have one arm keep you down. You are just as good as the rest of us, so your help is welcomed."

[Daufer]: "Wizard, perhaps your armored servant can wield this unknown blade for us," Daufer says, indicating the blade that Aidan had said was magical. "Since we do not ourselves know what it does."

[JadedDM]: Eskar is the last to arrive, looking tired and old.

[Aidan]: Aidan considers this, then lifts the sword and offers it to his knight, watching to see if any new magical effect is visible in the warrior.

[JadedDM]: The Knight accepts the sword and it glows softly for a moment in its hands.  It discards its old sword, which vanishes, and it sheathes the new sword in its place.

[Daufer]: "The vampire did not seem affected by any blades except for Jasmin's own. It stands to reason that the other members of the Bloody Maw will have similar defenses. Even if we do not know what it does, it cannot hurt for the knight to wield it."

[JadedDM]: The ground suddenly begins to rumble violently for about twenty seconds before just as suddenly ceasing.

[Daufer]: Sardonx bleats out complaints at the shaking ground.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin stumbles a bit as the ground rumbles. "We need to get to Voxis, now!"

[Aidan]: "Hopefully it is not cursed, though." Aidan grabs hold of an armored shoulder to keep his footing, and Amaris takes flight at the sudden quake.  "Perhaps that means we should hurry?"

[JadedDM]: Meschior:  "Look!" he says, pointing up at the sun.  Slowly, its light starts to dim like an eclipse were occurring, although there is no sign of either moon in the sky.

[Daufer]: "Let the quake pass before you cast the spell!" Daufer shouts, stumbling under the great weight of his armor.

[Jasmin]: Jasmin shudders slightly at the sight of the sun.

[Aidan]: "Of course," Aidan says, glaring at Daufer.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "What is this?"

[Daufer]: "Have they already won?"

[JadedDM]: A screech is heard above, and overhead the party spots an army of flying creatures heading to the west.  They appear to be wyverns, and each one is carrying a number of men dressed in black hoods and robes.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Oh, no...is that how they are going to do it?"

[Jasmin]: Jasmin looks up to the sky, her eyes widening. "The drow?" she asks curiously.

[JadedDM]: Lilah:  "Of course.  Tip off the drow.  Tell them there is an insurrection or something in Voxis.  They will send an army to wipe it out, just like they did before!  But this time, they won't leave any survivors.  The streets will run red with their blood...the maw will open!"

[JadedDM]: Among the flying creatures is one much larger, and as black as night.  Its scales shimmer in the darkness, and it radiates such fear that even from this distance, the entire party feels a chill in their hearts.  The shadow dragon roars loudly in anticipation of the slaughter up ahead.

[Airellian]: ((Crap.))

[Jasmin]: Jasmin's mouth nearly drops open. "A shadow dragon!"

[Daufer]: Daufer stands still with fear, agape at the sight above him.

[JadedDM]: Nightmaster:  "We must first stop the Drow.  They are foolishly playing right into the Maw's hands!" he says through grit teeth.

[Aidan]: Aidan glances over the teleportation scroll quickly.  "I think we had best be on our way.  Perhaps once we get there we can usher most of the citizens out of the city before too much blood is shed."

[JadedDM]: Kricket:  "Everyone, hold on tight then!  Teleportation is a bumpy ride, even during the best of times!"

[Aidan]: Aidan takes a deep breath, and then begins reading from the scroll.

[JadedDM]: As Aidan reads, a circle of white light spreads out from under their feet, enveloping them.  The light's glow begins to increase as Aidan reads, and the stones themselves seem to be singing as the spell amplifies in strength.

[JadedDM]: Gaheris:  "Here we go!"

[Daufer]: Daufer grits his teeth.

[JadedDM]: However, suddenly, the circle of light starts to crack in certain places. 

[JadedDM]: Liam:  "That's supposed to happen, right?!"

[JadedDM]: Before anyone can answer the archer, everyone vanishes in a flash of bright, white light.

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