Sep 27, 2022 8:13 PM
carissa meets a tyrant
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They sent for help, obviously, when the assault began. 

 

Her best guesses as to why it hasn't come are that this is a coordinated demon offensive, every fort is under this much pressure, and they're saving the highest-value ones first; or that whatever demon blotted out the sky also did something that prevents communications in or out -- it is blocking Teleports, so it's not that unlikely a theory -- or that the end has come and all is lost and Cheliax has no one to send. 

Regardless, there's not actually much you can do as a barely-fourth-circle wizard who has been out of spells for nine hours. She's been lying on the ground to avoid the worst of the choking black smoke, relaying Messages and putting Light where people want it and cauterizing injuries with Acid Splash. She tried binding a familiar to have something to use for scouting; it was useful for three hours and then got eaten. 

The Messages have been getting steadily less encouraging. If she were capable of taking solace in anything at all about this situation she'd take solace in the fact that the fancy fifth-circle wizards, the ones that aren't yet dead, are doing the exact same thing; they're out of spells too. 

She is nursing a stab wound, from one particularly unlucky arrow, but it's not going to kill her at least until tomorrow and is therefore barely registering among her concerns. 

She relays requests for backup and requests for lighting and occasionally flicks off an Acid Splash and she thinks about how this isn't enough, getting faster and clearer with the Messages isn't actually going to matter, getting all the lighting requests actually right isn't going to matter, there's got to be something she could do that matters -

 

if we dig down deep enough, she asks between messages, are we outside the smoke, could we get a summons or teleport or Sending off then. 

yes, Bastrade replies about a minute later. Callier burned all his spells digging into the bedrock and reached the boundary of the Dimension-Lock like effect  he's sleeping, now, he'll try the Teleport in an hour and a half.

 

 

She's annoyed no one told her, even though she didn't, really, need to know. 

 

They don't have an hour and a half, obviously. They've been pushed back to the innermost sanctum and the smoke's making it hard to breathe even in there. The fighters are going down and there's no spells left to get them back up. They're out of potions. They're out of scrolls. They have minutes, not hours. 

She doesn't, actually, have any reason to think she can do it. But it's something that would matter, if it worked, and that's better than not trying anything that would matter even if it worked. 

show me lesser planar binding, she whispers.

you think you can hang a fifth circle spell? He's too tired to sound incredulous, though it is very arrogant of her. She's twenty-six. 

figure I'll die trying. 

 

He doesn't have any illusion spells left, of course. He spits on his finger and traces the spell pattern in the smoky air. Her eyes are stinging. She tries to memorize it, tries to see it, the parts you can directly move and the parts that move quietly behind that. 

 

She jumps into Callier's pit in the inner sanctum. The landing breaks her ankles, which really does not matter at all.

 

And she tries to hang her first fifth-circle spell. 

 

It's not easy, but in a sense it feels like it should be harder. The air is more breathable down here, unless that's just her hallucinating from carbon dioxide poisoning. The spell slides around cooperatively like an old friend, like she was just hanging Detect Thoughts or something. She can hear her heart pounding and her skull throbbing to the beat, which is great because it helps her maintain her rhythm with the casting. 

She draws out the binding circle on the ground. 

And she tries to summon - well, actually, she kind of forgot the step where you specify what precisely you're trying to summon. Something that can cast Sending. Or Teleport. Or, frankly, something that can seal the pit above them so she can be overlooked by the demons when the innermost sanctum falls. 

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And she succeeds.

There is an eruption of fire and steam, when he appears; gouts of sparks and hissing vapor roiling around him that fill the circle, and take a moment to clear for his face to be visible. It is a face of black metal or carapace, like a knight's helm or and the visage of a beetle, but it is fashioned with unnatural precision for any smith. The gaps in the visor are aglow with flame and light, and though the mouth is concealed the arrogant set of his face is unambiguous. The entire body is armored, like the helm; tight plates of metal (or leather? Or a demon's skin?) covering him from the high crest of the helmet to his plated boots, all in black with steaming, glowing red-and-gold ornamentation writhing over the metal. His black feathered wings extend beyond his body, trailing tendrils of shadow below them, and the fingers of his hands are unnaturally long and tipped with talons.

There is a faceted ring of stainless steel on the little finger of his left hand; and a long rapier sheathed at his belt, hilt in an ornate guard. He is just over six feet tall.

"Yes, Summoner?" he says, voice arrogant and gloating.

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Wow, she had not expected it to work, had felt a sinking certainty as she finished the spell that she did it wrong, that the ease with which the magic moved in her hands was a delusion.

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They're in a pit about four feet in diameter, just large enough for the circle and for the woman who is kneeling in it. The pit is lightless aside from the glowing pin of the woman's cloak.  She appears to have a stab wound, and her skin is covered in soot, and she's breathing shallowly and very very rapidly, which is perhaps related to this pit not really having very much oxygen in it. 

 

 

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"Sending to Kintargo telling them Seer's Rest is surrounded and nearly lost," she says in a rush. "If you can't do that but can save my life I'll pay for that too."

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"There are few lives I cannot save, Summoner," he gloats, "But you must make an offer if you wish for me to accept it."

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(And, of course, behind the mask, Sandor "Sandy" Balog is surveying the situation. This LARP has clearly gone wrong, considering that there's an injured woman in a pit with two broken ankles and a stab wound, but she's not going to die in the next ten seconds and so that's actually not much reason for him not to play along if she's dedicated enough to stick with the bit anyway.)

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She appreciates how he's not speaking Infernal to her, what with how her Infernal is crap, but she's not even sure you can make soul contracts in Chelish. She tries for a bit to fish for the Infernal words and then gives it up as definitely hopeless because most of her brain doesn't really seem to be working anymore. 

"If word reaches Kintargo of this situation here in time to save this fortress, my immortal soul is yours on the ordinary Chelish terms, without any further payment that would be customary." That has to have loopholes big enough to fly a dragon through but possibly, if her cognition is in fact working at all, only if he does send the message. " - further I believe that the conveyance of that message serves our Lord. That leaves me with little remaining to offer for my life, but -"

And she starts coughing uncontrollably. " - you can name a price."

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"The bargain is struck, Summoner," he says. "Your life for the price I will name."

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The girl beams up at him like this is in fact the best thing that she could possibly have expected, and then faints from carbon dioxide poisoning.

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Yeah no he's going to fix that.

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The carbon dioxide in her lungs is now oxygen! The smog is suddenly 90% clean air, 10% symbolic storm-clouds roiling with miniature lightning (not sufficient to actually shock anyone, of course)! Her stab wound is healed! Her broken ankles straighten out! And he launches a foot into the air, black wings beating. Where's he been summoned to?

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The innermost sanctum of Seer's Rest is twenty feet in diameter with thick stone walls. There are definitely some dead bodies on the ground, and some dying ones, and every other feature of the situation is hard to determine because of the thick black smoke. 

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.......bluh? 

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Thick black smoke can disappear (read: be turned into oxygen) in crackles of red lightning. Dying people should stop that - he can't fix everything but he can at least make sure they don't get worse. Any of the dead people merely heart-dead and not brain-dead?

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No, they've mostly been dead for a while.

 

....people are turning around in wonder and awe at the sight of oxygen and also him. The ones who are not at this moment trying to use the Mending cantrip to reinforce the doors, or seal the arrow slits through which the smoke is seeping in, drop to their knees and mutter Infernal words of praise. 

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....bluh??????????????????

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He speaks very, very bad Infernal!

Also the smog can stop doing that. If they don't want it to come in he can turn it into very tight mesh nets that let through air and not smog, how about that.

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(Also, no, seriously, what is going on here? Seriously??? This has just gotten bizarre.)

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"....orders?" Bastrade asks hoarsely. 

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Then Duke Sikandros can descend until he is hovering slightly above ground level.

"Status?" he orders, with calm superiority.

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" - the fortress is occupied by demons," the priest on duty says, "we've lost about one hundred seventy men, we've received no response to emergency communications with Sarete or with Kintargo and suspect we're under an effect blocking divinations and, uh, summons, which hypothesis your arrival calls into question."

"Sevar was going to use Callier's pit to reach out of the dimension lock," Bastrade says. 

"She had spells remaining?"

"She was hoping she'd hit fifth."

"That horrid bitch," someone mutters. They sound admiring, after a fashion.

"- anyway, we expect communications didn't reach Sarete or Kintargo, but the other possibility is that the rest of the border's under assault as well."

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This is absolutely bizarre.

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"Her summons was successful," says Sikandros. "I will claim my price when the time comes."

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... Okay, however this is being translated, the fortress is not actually overrun by demon demons. If it was, they wouldn't be using fog as a weapon, unless this was a very weird LARP.

And it almost certainly isn't, not with the shape those people were in.

Well, as Douglas Adams said, "the impossible has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks." The probability that this is a LARP is negligible, while the probability that he's been summoned into a bizarre alternate universe is "it's not like it hasn't happened before."

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"Known demonic varieties and abilities present in the fort?"

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