The Age of Worms

Session Fifty-Nine

In Which the Party Comes Face to Face with the Hand of Evil, and Meets its Final Encounter with an Old Foe

Sunday, 15 Fireseek, CY 596 (AFAIFK)

No one sooner has Darl teleported away and the party moved on to figuring out their next move, when the horrible jerk returns with an enormous force swarming out against our tired heroes. Darl, the tiefling, and the Faceless One stand before a small army of soldiers and wizards in black. “Leave this place,” Darl says, “or be destroyed.”

At the point the party can only sigh.

“Will you do this?” he presses.

Riddle turns to Jane and asks, “Will we?”

“We didn’t come here to leave this place,” she growls in return.

“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Darl says with exasperation. “Very well. I have three pieces of information that the six of you would literally kill to have. It’s clear to me you don’t even know what you’re doing here. It’s equally clear that you don’t know anything. I have the upper hand because I know what the question is. ‘What is the Library’, ‘What is the Question we’re seeking to Answer’, and ‘What is the Date on the Material Plane.’ Choose one and I will answer.

Riddle’s brows knit in consternation but he does not believe there is any attempt being made to deceive the party. However it’s clear that both the tiefling and the Faceless One are surprised that Darl is offering any information at all.

And then, as if a spell were wearing off, fifteen archers appear out of nowhere, arrows knocked and ready to fire. One guess which side they are on.

“What is the Question you are seeking to Answer,” Riddle says. The archers are negligible, in fact most of the additional forces are. They are merely an effort to intimidate the party into conceding.

Darl’s face floods with conviction. “I have spent my entire life seeking the most potent and impactful secret that the world does not know. The question is, “Where is the Phylactery of Dragotha located? Whoever control that? Controls perhaps the most powerful being in existence.”

Riddle looks at Jane. Jane nods. The fight begins.

Without hesitation, Archie pelts Darl with four arrows, then says, “Just so you know, I was up for leaving.”

The Faceless One casts a spell and disappears, and then several things appear out of nowhere: huge fire elemental, a slimy demon, and three ants the size of ponies. The elemental pounds on Archie, setting him aflame, while the slimy demon turns on Jane. The ants attack Long Fist and Riddle. There is the sound a more spellcasting above the fray and Riddle disappears. The tiefling moves in a grapples the fiery Archie as the archers loose their arrows, scoring a couple of hits on Scar-Eater but entirely missing everyone else. Long Fist moves in on Darl, pummeling with his fist and landing blow after blow, but in the middle of it all, Darl is instantly healed in a burst of light. All fifteen wizards fire acid arrows on Long Fist, landing more than is strictly comfortable. Darl ignores the half ogre completely and turns his focus on Archie, who, still aflame, is immediately banished back to the Material Plane.

Things ain’t going so well.

Tyrrell moves to flank the slimy demon and leaves him bleeding, weakened, and very confused by the eight Tyrrells that suddenly appear adjacent to him. Jane fires ice spears on the fire elemental and then transforms into a towering fire elemental herself. She slams into the tiefling that was, up until a moment earlier, grappling the lost archer.

Thirty swordsmen swarm into to defend Darl, but all they manage to do is get in the way. Scar-Eater swiftly flies right over them to close with the vile priest. All of the ants try to snipe him but fail. Scar-Eater brings his flail down on his foe’s face, knocking Darl prone, though not managing to land much damage. Scar-Eater is grinning down on the falling priest when an awful black ray shoots down into him from out of nowhere, draining Scar-Eater terribly, and preparing him for a second freezing ray from above, sapping his strength. The fire elemental and the ants all turn their attention on Long Fist and the slimy demon and tiefling flank Jane in her fiery Tempest form. The archers all miss their targets again and Long Fist manages to chug a potion of resist fire and heal himself enough to stay in the fray. The wizards turn their acid arrows on Tyrrell but are mostly thwarted by the alternate Tyrrell images.

In the meantime, Riddle and Archie remain nowhere to be found.

From the ground, Darl attempts to banish Scar-Eater but fails. He heals himself completely, again, but remains on the ground. Tyrrell finishes off the slimy demon and turns invisible. Tempest-Jane slams the monk around a few times, shifts back to human form and sends a mighty fire snake to cut a destructive swath through the swordsmen. The remainders close in around Long Fist and Scar-Eater, valiantly raining down their ineffectual blows. Scar-Eater continues pounding Darl with his blade of blooded flail.

Another blast from above targets Tyrrell this time, but the savvy rogue manages to shrug off whatever was supposed to happen. The ants swing pointlessly at Long Fist and the fire elemental and the monk do their darndest to destroy Jane, but it’s an arrow from one of the archers that bring her down. The wizards pelt Long Fist with more acid arrows. Darl attempts to cast a spell from the ground and ignores the damage of Scar-Eater’s opportunistic attack, loosing Mordenkainen’s Disjunction on Long First, Tyrrell and Jane, threatening every spell affecting them, and every magic item in their possession. Pressing on, Tyrrell attacks the monk and creates eight more dopplegangers of himself. Jane, on the brink of death, summons of swirling sirocco at the place where she believes the Faceless One’s spells have been coming from. A satisfying scream answers her question and she can tell where he lands. She quickly cures herself and Long Fist and returns to her fire Tempest form.

Scar-Eater turns himself invisible and applies a dose of drow poison to his flail, giving Darl the opportunity to touch him with the Hand of Vecna itself. Scar-Eater shudders with cold and can feel the Hand sucking some of his mental acuity into itself and Darl.

Then everything goes green. A roiling bank of poisonous fog fills the battlefield, destroying all of the minions brought by these foes and harming Long Fist, Tyrrell, and, notably, the tiefling monk, who bleeds out a slim moment later. The archers struggle to find targets within the fog, and all fire upon Long Fist when he stumbles out of it to lunge at Darl.

Riddle reappears in the middle of the poisonous fog, and swiftly blasts himself directly upward, though not before breathing in the foul air. He uses control winds to move the cloudkill into the sirocco. The Faceless One cannot resist its poison. Riddle floats gently to the ground and draws a scroll from his bag.

The minion wizards finally manage to bring down Long Fist with a volley of magic missiles, just as Darl raises his unholy symbol to Scar-Eater and attempts to consume him with ¬unholy fire. The towering duskblade succumbs to the spell but a timely alter fortune from Riddle saves him and leaves Riddle staggered. Behind them Tyrrell burst forward in an almost inhuman rush to cast breath of life on Long Fist from a scroll. Jane, in Tempest form as a lumbering earth elemental charges the Faceless One and slams him with a powerful death blow. Scar-Eater brings his poisoned flail down and Darl time and again but can’t seem to make a dent against him. Without their highly effective archer, the rest of the party scrambles to wipe out the minions and maybe land a decent blow on Darl, but the heinous priest plane shifts away before they can.

Tired, annoyed, and more than a little concerned about the missing ranger, the party loots the Faceless One’s corpse and heals and restores themselves the best they can, now uncertain if or when and with how many minions Darl may return.

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