Session #34: The Revenge of the Ratipede

The Magical Library Redux

Having recently arrived in the LIBRARY via a magical portal in the ARBORETUM, Acindor the Human Fighter, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Odin Thunderhammer the Dwarf Fighter, Sionna the Simic Hybrid Bard, and the 500-year old kobold wizard they’d picked up in the tent of the red dragon Pyrrha Imperium took stock of their surroundings.

The LIBRARY looked warm and inviting, but their past experiences with book mimics and parchment golem made them wary. They could hear the sound of voices, Kaid the Goliath Barbarian and another person, in the midst of a brief scuffle. This was immediately followed by the sound of hydraulics. They could barely see the elevator car rising from the other corner of the LIBRARY before a sending out of view.

As they were focused on that, they heard a high pitched yelping noise. The rest of the party turned just in time to see Sionna fall backwards through a revolving bookcase as a new figure burst into view from the other side of the pivot. An improbable halfling barbarian and a pair of two-headed death dogs stopped just inside the LIBRARY as the bookcase clicked back into place.

The halfling looked plenty surprised to see them. “Oh, am I interrupting something?” She asked. “I’ll be happy to go back.”

Acindor couldn’t hide his amusement. “No, no, come, weary traveler,” he said cynically under his breath. “Join our party.” Taking stock of the death dogs and the halfling’s muscular build, he held his sword at ready as he properly introduced himself. “I am Acindor. I am on a quest… many quests that I can’t seem to complete. This is my companion, Weddumlir Aleshield, whom I mostly spend my time keeping out of trouble. Who are you?”

”My name is Dumplin,” she said cheerfully. Pointing to the heads of her death dogs, she said, “And this is Nugget and Dogzilla, and Scourge and Bolder.” The dogs looked far less friendly than the barbarian halfling.

”What is your purpose here?” Acindor asked.

”Well, we were just on our way out,” Dumplin said, “but someone” – She glared accusingly at one of the dog heads – “got lost.”

“Do you know the way out?” Acindor asked.

”Oh sure!” Dumplin said. “I haven’t been to this exact LIBRARY, but I’ve been to many different libraries. I can get us out.”

”Have you met the lord of the manor?” Acindor asked.

She shrugged. ”I lost him.”

”We’re there others with him? We’ve lost some of our companions and we’re looking for them.”

”I’m not sure, but they could be looking for him,” she said with a mischievous grin. “I pushed him into a bookcase.”

Acindor blinked. For the first time, he wondered if she was referring to someone other than Obscurus.

”This is great,” the kobold said to no one in particular. “Finally someone shorter than me.”

Acindor was still under the effects of the Detect Magic spell and found looking at the LIBRARY was hard to accomplish. Everything glowed with varying intensities of magic. In fact, the LIBRARY itself seemed to be magical. As Acindor warned the others about this, he watched the kobold wizard’s face carefully.

”Big duh!” the kobold spat.

”Is there anything dangerous in this room, friend?” Acindor asked.

”Big danger! Everything’s dangerous. The books are dangerous. Those axes are dangerous. These dogs are dangerous.”

Sword drawn, Acindor headed in the direction he’d heard Katie’s voice coming from. As he squinted at the bookshelves in passing, he noticed that several of the books themselves gave off a magical aura. Most of the tomes around the fireplace seemed to be cookbooks. They saw titles like Cooking with Slimes, The Pseudo-Gastronomicon, Meats and Where to Find Them, and Dragon Stew! and Other Uses for Dragon Parts. The latter was bound in pseudo dragon scale. Weddumlir reached for the book, whereupon the kobold whacked his hand with his staff.

The kobold growled. ”You will not eat my ancestors!”

”Relax,” Wedd said. “I don’t want to eat them. I just want to know if it says anything about pet dragons.”

The kobold raised an eye ridge.

”A dragon ate my arm once,” Acindor said by way of explanation. “Wedd’s been obsessed with them ever since.”

Undeterred by Wedd’s treatment, Odin continued to peruse the shelves. He found a book that was very much out of place entitled Magic for Beginners. He felt a surge of magical energy building as he reached for it. He darted out of the way in time to avoid a lightning bolt. Moving on, he found a book written in Dwarven called Soups for You, which he put in his pack.

Wedd was still considering the kobold. “Hey, do you know the way out of here, um… What was your name again?”

“I don’t remember my name. You may call me I-am-not.”

”Nice to meet you, I-am-not.”

”Can you help us sort through these books?” Acindor asked.

I-am-not shrugged. “You’ll never know unless you experiment.”

As they made their way toward the elevator, they were able to see that the car was descending again.

A particular bookshelf with books chained to it caught Acindor’s eyes. To Acindor’s eyes, it glowed brighter than most of the other shelves. Whatever books it held were powerful magic indeed.

Wedd used the edge of his shield like an axe, trying to break one of the chains. The chains stirred and began writhing threatening like serpents. I-am-not hastily cast Dispel Magic. This resulted in the chained bookshelf shrieking in pain. Dumplin’s death dogs growled at the bookshelf and began backing up. I-am-not cast a spell to detect whether the bookshelf had any thoughts and immediately heard it chanting the thought, “Protect books! Protect books!”

Acindor grabbed a book off a shelf behind him, intending to toss it at the chained bookshelf. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a book mimic.

Meanwhile I-am-not gave the chained bookshelf a magical suggestion to give him a book. The spell was so powerful that it immediately rid itself of all of the books in its eagerness to comply. I-am-not was hit with four books, while Odin was slapped with three more. The animated bookshelf was immediately sorry for hurting the kobold and began stroking it’s victim’s scaly head with its chains. It showed no concern for Odin.

Acindor managed to shake off the book mimic during the distraction and even managed to avoid the tossed books from the chained bookshelf. The book mimic was outraged and leapt at Acindor. Unfortunately for the mimic, its attack was too near I-am-not for its comfort. It snatched the mimic up in midair and chained the creature to itself.

I-am-not magically suggested that Acindor pick up the books and pack them away. Thinking this might be reasonable and that they might be useful later, he did as was suggested of him.

Acindor slugged back a healing potion to recover from his injuries while they waited for the elevator to reach their floor.

The Observatory

Arriving via the technomancer’s elevator, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Fil the Drow Cleric of Zephyr, David the Half-Elf Wizard, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, Kudac the Half-Orc Cleric of Baldnoggin followed Obscurus into the OBSERVATORY. The elevator doors closed as they exited and descended to retrieve Kaid the Goliat Barnarian and Clementine the Aasimar Paladin of Bahumut, who were still in the LIBRARY below.

”Welcome to my OBSERVATORY,” Obscurus said. A massive telescope on a large pedestal dominated the center of the room. The round room was lined with bookshelves and star charts. Various tables were likewise Kaiden down with astronomy books and models and star charts. “We don’t have much time. The stars for tell the future. I know all that will come to pass. I have consulted the oracles. I have even consulted Oola. Have you heard of Oola?”

Meldor and Nathan nodded.

”Then you know that her prophecies rarely fail,” Obscurus said. “Oola is one of the foremost oracles of the Seven Worlds,” he advised the others. “She had foreseen all of your futures. She knows all your destinies. And she has seen that you do not have much time. The Red Circle closes in and and there is much to tell you.”

He withdrew a small chest from his robes. Tapping the chest twice, he caused it to grow to a much larger version of itself. “Meldor Ironforge, place the Plate of Farcevolt in the chest. You need a means to hide the Plates as you search for each new one.” After Meldor complied, Obscurus closed the chest, tapped it twice again to make it shrink to palm-sized and then said, “Touch the chest to your forehead and think of a place where you would have it rest hidden. You may summon the chest from this location anytime you require with the smaller chest, but the Plates will remain within the larger vessel until you switch them.”

Meldor again did as he was instructed. His face unreadable behind his golden mask, Obscurus said. “So be it. Hide the summoning chest on your person. As long as you draw breath, no one may use it but you.” Meldor packed the artifact away.

”Can you tell us where the next Plate of Farcevolt is?” Meldor asked.

”I can and I really want to, especially because the Prophecy of the Starkiller looms in dread. If this prophecy is not averted, all Seven Worlds shall be consumed by Shadofar. Unfortunately, there are entities listening to us right now at this very moment and I dare not tell you. I can tell you that if you do not open the Water Portal on Caeruleum soon, it is all for nought. Can you set yourself to this momentous task? Can you at last open the Water Portal?”

The party nodded solemnly.

”Don’t we need a Star Sapphire to do that?” Nathan asked.

”You must find your friend, Davroar Hollysword,” Obscurus said. “If you cannot, there are other Star Sapphires awaiting discovery in the Templke of Wanjo.”

At that moment, the elevator doors opened. They saw the briefest glimpse of Kaid and Clementine before a thick sulphuric mist surrounded them. Shadowy figures seemed to move within the mists. Fil and David rushed to aid their comrade, running into the evil-looking mists, heedless of the danger. Long shadowy fingers emerged from the mists to snatch them away.

A moment later, the mists were gone, as were Clementine, Kaid, David and Fil. The stench of rotten eggs lingered.

Obscurus shook his head.

“Time is shorter than I thought!” Obscurus said. “Take the elevator. Library contains a portal to the ELDERWYLD, by which you can return to Careuleum. Find a Star Sapphire and open that gate! Or gods helps us all, there will be nothing to fight for.”

”How do we get rid of this death mark?” Nathan said, pointing to the assassin’s mark magically tattooed to him by Joe Stufts the necromancer. “Being rid of it might by us some time.”

”You don’t have any time,” Obscurus said, his voice cold. They’re here.” He pointed up along the length of the massive telescope. The dome of the OBSERVATORY was open to allow one to view the night sky. A small band of smallish War’todes and a Tortle with an ominous looking staff had taken advantage of the rooftop opening and were scrambling down the length of the telescope, quickly closing the distance between them!

“The Red Circle has found you!” Obscurus said. “You must warn the others!! Take the elevator. I will delay them,” Obscurus said.

Kudac glanced up at the assassins and was immediately overwhelmed with the vision of a magical sigil in the form of a literal red circle. He was immediately frozen in place with terror at a fate revealed to him which he could not fathom yet could not escape.

Seeing Kudac just standing there looking at the rapidly approaching assassins’ descent, Obscurus yelled, “Run, you fools!”

Seeing his comrade unresponsive, Meldor slapped Kudac, hoping to bringing him back to his senses. He was immediately sorry, because he stubbed his pinky on the half-orc’s metal jaw. Even so, it worked and Kudac joined them in running for the elevator.

Their last glimpse of the OBSERVATORY was seeing Obscurus place himself resolutely between them and the assassins. Then the elevator doors closed.

They Left the Portal Open

Nathan Garney, Meldor, and Kudac were surprised to find their comrades waiting for them when the elevator doors opened.

“Oh look! More friends!” a halfling barbarian they didn’t recognize said.

“We need to get out of here,” Nathan said. “The Red Circle is here. They’ll be on the next elevator down.”

They stared at him blankly. No one had any ideas.

”Do you know the way out?” the halfling asked him.

Nathan shook his head. There were no windows or doors evident in the LIBRARY. “What about the way we came in?” Meldor suggested. “Can we go back through the rug?”

Weddumlir hurried back to the carpet in front of the fireplace. He examined the symbols on the rug, but nothing immediately gave him any indication how to get back through to the ARBORETUM or if that was even possible.

Meanwhile, I-am-not asked the animated bookshelf to block the elevator entrance.

It was at that moment that the ratipede, an abomination that looked as if a rat had magically mated with a centipede, burst through from the ARBORETUM portal. It had apparently been at long last successful in its efforts to dig into that room and had followed its escaping prey into the pool in the center of the room.

Weddumlir was knocked on his rear end at the sudden entrance of the unholy creature. “um, guys!” he shouted in warning.

Propelled by his terror of the Red Circle, Odin Thunderhammer brashly dashed toward the ratipede and struck it with his hammer. He forgot about the poisoned atmosphere around the ratipede. Odin immediately felt sickened as the poison entered his body.

“The rat expels poison,” Kudac reminded them as Odin staggered backwards, his face pale.

The ratipede wasted no time. Before anyone could react, it snapped its head forward and swallowed Weddumlir whole!

Acindor and Kudac were too far away to attack, but they both rushed forward to get into a position to do some damage, their minds racing for a way to save their friend from digestion.

Meldor took a chance that there was enough water remaining on the creature from its wet trip through the portal to shape the water into a whirlpool. His efforts were sufficient to hold the monster in one place. It tumbled about under the whirlpool’s force for a moment, sustaining damage, but managed to get its feet under it; however, it could do nothing further.

Inside the creature, Weddumlir desperately tried to carve his way out with a dagger but his efforts weren’t very effective.

Nathan Garney uttered a prayer of healing to aid Acindor, Odin, Kudac and Meldor.

Dumplin furrowed her brow and drew her weapon. She threw her axe at the ratipede. It stuck fast in the creature’s body. Following her lead, the death dogs charged into the fray. Nugget-Dogzilla managed to rip a limb off in their savagery. Bolder also got in a good bite, but Scourge missed as the ratipede recoiled from the assault. They quickly bounded back to their barbarian mistress’ side as the bloodied ratipede shrieked in pain and rage.

Feeling slightly better after Nathan’s prayer of healing, Odin followed her example and threw his hammer at the monster. It struck the ratipede a glancing blow on the muzzle.

Thinking quickly, I-am-not cast a hypnotic pattern on the floor, reasoning that everyone was looking up and only the ratipede was looking down. The monster was immediately bedazzled. It ceased its hostilities, staring at them in a magical stupor.

Yet the ostensibly 500-year old kobold’s efforts broke its concentration on the polymorph spell it had been maintaining. The frail kobold was replaced by his true form, a seven foot tall, 460 pound rakshasa sorcerer!

Next: Session #35 – The Red Circle and the Rakshasa

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