Wednesday, 21 January 2015

LotFP Solo - Part the Thirty-Sixth: "Her elfin blood in madness ran"

On the other side of the magical portal, a strange vista stretches out before the astonished eyes of the heroes. They are on the shore of a black ocean. Flat and broken lands stretch to the horizon on one side, the gloomy and forbidding sea in front. The still, thin air has a caustic, bituminous odour. The sky is a strange orange haze. Directly overhead is a great reddish sun, which, though filling fully half the sky, gives off but little heat and even less light. The ground upon which the heroes stand is great slabs of pitted stone, the foundations of some lost palace or city. Not a thing grows in the landscape, not a living thing moves on the land, nor lives in the bitter, acid sea.

The elves wonder at the sight, thinking they have been transported through time to the final days of their world. Aldira thinks back to the strange books of philosophy she had read as a student of magic, telling wild stories of other worlds whirling around other stars in the heavens. Father Rochouart is certain that they are in Hell.

But in the distance, something does move. A small, solitary figure makes its way up the beach. Weapons still in hand, the battered heroes feel a new swelling of determination. They set out at a brisk pace to overtake the figure, which, as they draw near, resolves into the form of a lone elf in long green robes -- the fugitive Neldir!

The pounding footsteps and rattle of chain armour alert the renegade elf, and he wheels to face his pursuers. In contrast to their torn and bloodied forms, Neldir is dressed in pristine and costly vestments. There is a flicker of recognition in his eye when he sees the trio of elves from his home in far-off fair Feyalldra.

"Can you truly be," he says in formal, measured elvish, "the ones who have been hounding me since I departed our wond'rous city? I had thought the Elders would have sent more than just three children to fetch their precious codex."

"You're only three years older than us!" shouts Miolla indignantly.

"And we numbered eight when we began this quest," growls Lycinia.

"Ah! I see," says Neldir, "that would account for these two dumb brutes you've found to make up your numbers."

"I understand you perfectly," says Aldira, "though my patience with your foul words is diminishing rapidly."

Neldir says nothing, but makes a dismissive gesture in Aldira's direction.

"This is over," says Théscine, "you're coming back with us and--"

Neldir suddenly pronounces ancient words of sorcery, and the heroes, having momentarily let their guard down, are caught completely unawares. Fire erupts from the ground, encircling him in a ring of red flame.

[The final showdown is upon them!

Way back when I started this I decided Neldir would be 3 level higher than the highest level PC (currently Aldira, MU4), so he's now 7th level. Despite the break in posting, I played from the crypt dungeon right through to here. This probably should have been the start of a new Mythic scene, but I was too eager to play through to the conclusion to worry about meta record keeping.

Neldir has had to expend some of his resources to get this far, so I will take that as him having already cast (1d4+1=) 3 spells today: the portal ritual (1st level slot) + Explosive Runes (3rd) + one other completely random spell, which was a 2nd level slot.

I gave Neldir a surprise roll for casting his spell in the midst of the dramatic confrontation, and he rolled a 1, so it takes effect at the start of round one.

Neldir, 7th level Elf
CH 6 CN 14 DX 13 IN 14 ST 9 WS 8
HP 39
AC 17 (chainmail under his robe)
long sword
1 charm person, comprehend languages
2 detect invisibility, wall of fog
3 army of one
4 wall of fire

[round 1 - Initiative Neldir 5, PCs 4]
As the circle of fire shoots up surrounding Neldir, the scorching heat of the ruddy flames washes over the heroes. Surprise and pain force them back and they scatter [all PCs actions this round are to move]. Alas, Father Rochouart was slower than the rest, and has paid dearly for it. His clothing has burst into flame, and he falls to his knees, a blazing torch, crying out for the Light God to deliver him.

The rest fare better, but none are unharmed by the blazing flames. [1d6 for everyone: Miolla 1dmg, 2hp left; Lycinia 1dmg, 13hp (her magic torch is in her backpack, not helping); Aldira 3dmg, 3hp; Théscine 1dmg, 4hp; poor Father Rochouart took 6dmg, leaving him Mortally Wounded (-3hp).]

[round 2]
Protected by his horrible flames, Neldir begins to weave another spell, an old elven enchantment to ensnare the mind and soul [charm person]. But Aldira's determination is fierce, and she shrugs off the faery magic's power [makes her save], all the while casting a spell of her own.

Aldira's three elven companions take aim, and fire their pistols across the flames. Only one ball strikes true, but barely grazes the renegade [Miolla hits, 4 damage puts Neldir at 35hp].

[round 3]
Aldira's spell takes effect. A mass of sticky webs surrounds Neldir within his flaming ring. At first the webs seem as unaffected by the fire as does the elf they encase, but as the edges grow across the circle itself, the whole bursts into flame. Neldir screams in panic and pain [he takes 4 fire damage, reducing him to 31hp].

Théscine drops her pistol in favour of the scroll she has been holding in her other hand, and reads off a spell form it. As the words disappear from the page, the magic flies at the entrapped Neldir, but it does not take hold [she cast Force of Forbidment, he saved].

Miolla takes aim with her second pistol. The bullet tears through the web grazing Neldir in the arm [1 damage drops him to to 30hp].

Lycinia and Aldira draw their swords, and wait, impatient for a chance to strike.

[round 4]
Neldir keeps screaming as the webs burn out [4 fire damage puts him at 26hp].

[round 5-6]
Fearing another assault at range, Neldir begins to work some defencive magic. The water vapour in the air around his fingertips begins to coalesce, and then suddenly billows forth in a thick fog [wall of fog]. Everyone else caught in the fog backs out of it quickly, lest Neldir charge forward with his flames.

[round 7]
Within the fog, Neldir is busily casting yet another spell [Army of One].

[round 8]
Neldir appears suddenly outside of the fog, no longer surrounded by the protective ring of flame. He brandishes his sword defiantly. The others waste no time, but rush to meet him.

[round 9]
The battle is joined. Neldir is moving with unearthly speed, fighting each of his opponents as if he were engaged in single combat against them. His first swing cuts across Aldira's leg, staggering the burnt and bleeding wizard [1 damage drops her to 2hp]. Théscine is able to parry with her magical blade, and Lycinia's chainmail stops Neldir's sword from cutting her open, but his quick thrust plunges the elven steel right through a weak spot in Miolla's armour, piercing her heart. She takes a wobbling step backward, then the light leaves her eyes and she collapses to the ground [8 damage drops her to -6hp, dead].

Seeking to avenge the fallen Miolla, her three friends set upon Neldir with all they can muster. Lycinia crashes her sword down upon his shoulder. The armour beneath his robes absorbs the brunt of the swing, but he still winces with the impact [3 damage]. Aldira's swift rapier opens a nasty gash across his forehead [3 damage]. Théscine lunges with her magical sword; the silvery blade opens a terrible wound in his side [6 damage; he's down to 14hp now].

[round 10]
Neldir has been scorched with his own flame and is bleeding from a dozen wounds, yet he fights on undaunted, and with supernatural skill. Lycinia takes a nasty puncture beneath her ribs [5 damage puts her at 8hp], which gushes forth blood as Neldir retracts the blade and delivers a nasty blow to Aldira's temple [5 damage drops her to -3hp, mortally wounded]. The young wizard's rapier flies from her hand to skitter across the stones as she topples over. 

Lycinia locks the crossguard of her sword against Neldir's. She is too off balance for a riposte when they part, but the distraction leaves Théscine an opening. She swings with all her might; the impact of her sword against his flank rends the mail beneath his robes and tears the flesh beneath [6 damage drops him to 8hp].

[round 11]
Neldir wheels about, intending to deliver an equally punishing blow to Théscine, but his wild swing only opens a small, though bloody, wound on her thigh [1 damage leaves her with 3hp]. His sword clashes against Lycinia's again and again, but neither elf's steel can find its mark.

[round 12]
And then, Lycinia makes the mistake he had been hoping for. She leaves herself open for just an instant, and feels Neldir's blade bite deeply into her hip [4 damage leaves her with 4hp]. She falls back a few paces, and her furious swings meet only empty air.

Théscine manages to just nick Neldir's sword arm with the tip of her enchanted blade [1 damage puts him at 7hp].

[round 13]
And now it is Théscine who has left herself open. Neldir's sword streaks down her face and into her sternum. The wound is not deep, but the shock forces the small elf to her knees, then she falls face first into the rock and is still [3 damage puts her exactly at 0hp - hors de combat].

[round 14]
Seeing her last comrade fall to the renegade, Lycinia lets loose a great cry, so fearful it dampens Neldir's nerve, and he holds his sword up before Lycinia as a pitiful defence. She lurches forward and cuts in a mighty arc. Her sword finds the hole in Neldir's armour, and rips him open [6 damage leaves him but 1hp]. Blood gushes from the wound as his innards slip free.

[rounds 15-17]
Holding his guts in with one hand, Neldir tries vainly to best the enraged heroine, but his slowly ebbing strength threatens to give out at any moment. If he could just land a single, solid blow, the victory might be his; he knows that surrender is merely a death sentence.

Tears stream down Lycinia's face, mixing with the splattered blood. She strikes out in madness, taking her sword in both hands, beating it ceaselessly against her foe's, all the while hurling vile imprecations, spitting her very rage in his face. She loses herself in wrath, knowing of nothing but thoughts of Neldir's destruction.

[round 18]
And then her sword strikes true. It catches Neldir in the jaw, ruining his visage. He falls backward, a gurgling and gory fount [7 damage puts him at -6hp].

Lycinia tosses her sword aside and draws the long dagger at her belt. She kneels above the broken body of Neldir, and raises her miséricorde to strike, but there is no mercy in her hand. Over and over plunges the blade into the dead elf's heart, until, overcome with weeping, she finds she can strike no more.

How many aeons pass as she sits there alone by that foul and roaring sea she does not know, but then is suddenly cognisant of a soft groan behind her. Théscine! Théscine yet lives! The tiny elf has struggled to rise and is crawling toward Lycinia.

"Darling Théscine," she cries and crawls over to embrace her. Théscine says nothing, and only smiles weakly at her friend. They sit silently for a time, but Théscine starts in fright, and points further down the beach. In the distance is a great and looming red figure; it is covered head-to-toe in heavy crimson armour, and upon its head rests a crown. It seems to regard the two elves for a moment more, then abruptly turns and marches back up the beach, whence it had come.

"We... sh-- should... go..." says Théscine feebly.

Lycinia begins dragging the bodies of her friends back through the portal as Théscine crawls back herself. Finally Lycinia drags Neldir's body up to the portal, and decides to search it there. She finds the book in his satchel, the damnable book that sent them after him so many months ago. It's hardly what she'd expected it to be, nothing more than a simple vellum codex written in neat, if somewhat cramped, elven script. She tries to flip through it carefully, but isn't sure what to look for. There must be a vital clue within. Then a sudden remembrance strikes her. She puts it carefully back in the satchel, noting with a shrug that the cover is now soiled with bloody hand prints.

"You can rot here," she says to the broken corpse, then dashes again through the portal with the satchel in hand. After wiping her hands on the only bit of clean fabric she can find, she rummages through her own pack for her scroll case, and from within, rolled up in her own spell book, she produces the strange, crumbling papyrus that was retrieved from the flooded dungeons underneath Foehrenfort. She uses her magic [Comprehend Languages] to once again be able to decipher the weird writing, but cannot find the passage she requires.

Théscine passes a scroll of her own to Lycinia. "Here..." she gasps, "on...this..." Then she falls back against the wall, drifting once again out of consciousness.

Lycinia tries to smooth the blood-matted hair away from Théscine's face, then realises she mustn't tarry. She reads a spell off the scroll [Bookspeak], then turns to interrogate the papyrus, which rolls itself up, one end forming the shape of a mouth full of wickedly sharp teeth.

"How, o papyrus, can we close this portal, and seal it forever?"

The papyrus whispers the answer in some forgotten tongue, pieces of it breaking off and being spit forth with every sibilant word. But Lycinia's spell gives her the understanding of its hissing speech. "The portal may only be sealed with the blood of the one who has called it into being. It was thus that the Vampire Queen did bind the Demon of War."

Lycinia wastes no time, but takes her miséricorde in hand, and wipes the gory blade against the sides of the glowing  portal. As the blood touches the stone, the door between worlds dissipates. The light shimmers and fades, leaving the two elves alone in the darkness.