In Which Tyrrell is One Guidance Spell Away From Intimidating a Titan Into Stripping Down
Godsday – Waterday, 10 – 11 Fireseek, CY 596
As is becoming par for the course, no adventure can begin without a good deal of shopping. Many scrolls, diamond dust doses, and other items are purchased and divvied up between the party.
Earthday, 12 Fireseek, CY 596
The party returns to the obsidian portal bearing an additional scroll of greater teleport from Tenser and the necessary recovered crystals to open the door. With everyone standing on the disk (and no one’s moral compass triggering an ill effect), Tyrrell places the crystals in the correct order. With a sudden and shocking shift in the environment, the party finds themselves…elsewhere.
There is a gentle wind, bird songs on the air, the hum of insects and, notably, no rain. In one direction a black forest sprawls across the landscape, periodically emitting a ghostly green glow from the cacophony of its canopy. In the opposite direction, hills blossom into barren mountains. The whole world is vibrant with life.
A being steps from the trunk of a tree to face the heroes. He is tall, gallant, in gossamer armor, haloed by insects and bearing a barbed spear. And then another similarly awesome creature steps from another tree, and then another. Jane steps forward to greet them.
“I am Tylanthros,’ says the stranger, “Guardian of this realm. My brothers and I are the Last Resort. We protect the Isle from all trespassers. You seek the Fountain, though you do not know it yet. It is linked to everything in Last Resort. If you drink it, the Library will be freed.”
All that sounds great but then Tylanthros starts in on the Trials of Tilagos, four feats to conquer before he will answer their questions and show them to the Fountain of Dreams. All they have to do is Claim Krathanos’s Golden Belt, Silence the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song, bring about the Death of the Thorn Vale Terror, and Harvest the Living Feather of the Roc King.
The party is just sharing what they know of Krathanos, a titan of legend, a murderously insane menace who terrorized the Material Plane until his mysterious disappearance fifteen centuries ago, when a fifty-foot-tall insect breaks the tree line and stares at them, frozen in contemplation. As long as the party does not move, it doesn’t see them. After quite some time, Riddle can no longer handle the tension, and with lightning dancing in the mountains in the backdrop, he beckons the giant mantis with one crooked finger. Archie gets a few arrows off before the thing leaps four hundred feet through the air in order to join the fray. Scar-Eater immediately attempts to cast dimension hop to the creature’s eye level but fails to go anywhere. The spell simply fails.
The ensuing battle goes badly for Jane, who is immediately raked free of her armor and a good deal of flesh in the first few seconds. She valiantly rallies into an earth elemental and charges, only to be rewarded with one blow and a swift death. The rest of the party manages to deal enough damage to it immediately after to drop it while Riddle breathes life back into their fallen druid.
With a bit of a breather in the aftermath, Scar-Eater is able to share what he learned from his failed attempt to teleport into the fight. Apparently there is no connection to the Astral Plane here, so no spell utilizing the Astral Plane will be effective. In the meantime, noises are coming from all over the place – mammalian in one direction, saurian in another. Yes, that’s dinosaurs.
Archie sets about tracking the Faceless One’s party and reports that they seemed to head neither towards the mountains or the forest but towards the plains, and very recently, as in earlier today. But he cautions that it appears that time is different here and he can’t be sure exactly how. Riddle suggests following the other party, assuming they are setting about the same trials the party was assigned. He reasons that if they take on the first trial, the enemy may be weaker in the aftermath and at a disadvantage for the party’s attack.
The groups follows Archie’s lead for about four hours and ten miles when they enter an area with many crushed skeletons of giant animals, almost as if it was something’s lair.
Oh, wait. That’s because it is.
Something has been stalking them from behind a hill. Something with a large white furry head. A gargantuan four-armed gorilla, also known as a girallion behemoth, to be precise.
Riddle throws up a blade barrier while Jane brings a column of flame strike down upon it. Long Fist pierces it with his spear while Scar-Eater moves, drawing a mean swipe, and scorches it through Riddle’s blades. Archie and Tyrrell execute their typical massive damage, but the girallion responds by rending Scar-Eater with two of its four sets of claws. Long Fist punches it in the leg as he moves in to lay hands on Scar-Eater and keep the swordsman in the fight. Rejuvenated, Scar-Eater delivers a tremendous blow full of fire and revenge, bringing the beast crashing to the ground amidst the skeletal remains of its victims.
The party takes some time to heal Scar-Eater and repair Jane’s armor from earlier, entertained by Tyrrell’s announcement that he has “not taken any damage” and has “been useful and effective the entire time.”
The party spends the rest of the day tracking the Faceless One and his allies, moving about twenty miles south to veer around the Doomshroud forest, and making another ten miles before night falls, and they rest.
Freeday, 13 Fireseek, CY 596. Presumably.
After surviving their first night on the Island of Last Resort unsullied, the party keep moving along the trail of the Faceless One. By noon, about seven miles further on the trail, the path has become bordered by thousand-foot cliffs dropping into the raging ocean. “They stopped here,” Archie says. “Lingered for a time, but not overnight. I don’t believe they’ve slept at all.” Tyrrell spots a handful of flying things in the air a couple of miles ahead, circling around something.
Riddle prepares a divination and asks for advice on the best way to catch up with Darl and Faceless One. The gods reply:
”If you follow their path, you will always be behind them, If you determine their location perhaps you can meet them on different terms.”
Riddle subsequently asks, “How can we determine the destination of Darl and the Faceless One?”
”Their destinations are four-fold. One is within view. They may be operating under more information than you currently are.”
That is going to be etched on their gravestones.
The group decides to hustle on up towards the flying creatures ahead, which are now moving towards the group. After a spectacularly bad effort to take cover for everyone that isn’t Archie or Tyrrell, the creatures – likely gargoyles – approach and ask, “How may we help you?” How unexpectedly friendly! The quartet might make a find welcome wagon if not for their leather armor and bows.
The party explains that they seek another party who preceded them in this direction. The gargoyles find that interesting and explain that we are in Krathanos’s territory and that they have been dispatched to inquire whether we want to show our obeisance. They also express curiosity as to whether the party has come to free Krathanos, imprisoned for so long by the horrible druids.
On the way to the titan, Long Fist suggests to Riddle that they pretend to show obeisance towards Krathanos. “Are you suggesting we lie?” Riddle asks, confused.
“Anything to get us closer to the Belt,” Long Fist replies.
“Perhaps then you can snap its neck,” Jane says, not quite, but almost under her breath.
As they approach the keep the sounds of wild animals yowling in pain seems to shoot straight to the druid’s heart. The gargoyles swoop down. In front of what remains of the Keep, leaning against a wall, sits a humanoid of truly epic proportions. Seventy-feet tall, carved from legend by the gods themselves. His enormous belt must weigh hundreds of pounds. Mighty Krathanos toys with a thirty-foot Warhammer as the gargoyles bow at his feet. “Have you come to free me?” he rumbles.
“What would you give to be freed?” Riddle asks.
“What would you ask of my majesty?”
Riddle answers, “Two things.” When he inquires further about the other party, the gargoyles claim they were dispatched, but Riddle wants to see their bodies as proof.
“I don’t like…red things,” Krathanos says as he hurls the head of an efreet at the party’s feet.
After an appropriate moment of silence, in which no one is going to pretend they aren’t relieved they won’t have to deal with that thing’s wishes in the final confrontation, Riddle diplomatically asks about the rest of them. “The others ran away with their tails between their legs, without that which they sought. I have been waiting for so long.” Krathanos turns to Long Fist. “Make me a muscle, little one.”
“It could never compare to the mightiness of your arm, but here it is.”
Krathanos feeds the party some pitiful tale of being a humble servant of Kord, unjust imprisonment, a lack of mercy and blah blah blah set me free already.
Riddle says, “We cannot guarantee you will go free if you do, but unless you give us your Belt to take back to the Guardians of Last Resort, you never will.”
Krathanos considers, then points to Jane. “I will give you my Belt for that one.”
“We will give you her belt,” Riddle says, and Krathanos smashes an entire tower with one blow of his warhammer. “If you take one of us, you limit our ability to set you free!”
It certainly seems like this crazy banter could go on for the rest of everyone’s days, until Tyrrell reveals himself from where he was hidden and says, “Look, you can give us the Belt, or you can be destroyed as we have destroyed all those we encountered so far.”
And it certainly seems like maybe that would have worked. Like maybe it was within just about two or three percentage points away from working. Ah well. Next time.