Worms: Apocalypse

Session 18: The Twisted Branch
In Which We Explore Lizardfolk Politics.

The chamber had more than ten sleeping pallets made of swamp grass and mud. Mangaroo roots twined all over the walls, but the floors were otherwise clear. More importantly, it contained half a dozen lizardfolk reaching for weapons. The reptilian soldiers rushed the adventurers, morningstars held high! One struck Xan, and the others bunched up near the entrance behind it, eager to get at the intruders.

Liberty unleashed a burning hands right over Xan’s head, scorching three of the lizardfolk. The rogue performed a very distracting maneuver then ran the nearest reptile through. Drake lobbed a bomb into the middle of the lizardfolk, laughing as he did. Mom advanced, stepping over the bodies of burned and impaled reptiles alike, and struck a blow for the soldiers of Blackwall Keep.

The rest was cleanup.

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Session 17: Into the Mistmarsh
In Which We Learn the Reptiles’ Reasons for War.

The lizardfolk lurked in three groups around the center of the camp, primitive bedrolls strewn about. A larger lizardfolk with a steel shield and sturdy club sat in their midst, and that one casually gestured at the adventurers with a wicked leer. Before any of the reptilian soldiers could react to the order, Xan was in motion, plunging his blade into the nearest enemy’s heart. Liberty hurled a burning arc at the leader and caught a wounded one in the splash.

Four of the lizardfolk surrounded the rogue, but he dexterously evaded their clumsy swings. Mom beseeched Kord for a sound burst on one of the other groups, then rushed to support Xan. The one reptile that hadn’t been stunned by the spell charged the cleric, but he casually blocked the strike with his greatsword. The remaining lizardfolk blitzed Drake and Liberty, striking each of the lesser-armored adventurers. In response, the alchemist took a cautious step away from the reptiles assaulting him and lobbed a firebomb at them, burning one out and scorching the other two.

The big reptilian warrior eyed all the flame flying around, burning his troops down, and decided to take the fight to the firestarters – he charged Drake and smashed into the big man with his heavy club. Drake grunted and said, “You won’t live to regret that.”

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Session 16: Breaking the Siege
In Which the Warfare is Guerilla.

The adventurers brainstormed quickly about how best to proceed before the sun set and they (excluding Mom) would be less able to see. They decided to hide in the hills and set a fire, hoping that some (but not all) of the lizardfolk army would come to investigate. Drake obliged with an alchemical blaze on the backside of a low hill while everyone took up positions to ambush any scouts.

The alchemist handed Xan an infusion before he took his own position, rumbling, “Should help you hide.”

“Thanks, Drake.” The rogue wasted no time drinking the potion, and promptly vanished from sight. Mom grunted appreciatively.

After a tense half a minute, one of the lizardfolk happened to look north and noticed the smoke from the adventurers’ fire. The creature drew the attention of the rest of its squad, then one of them darted off toward another group, staying low to the ground as it loped across the battlefield. A minute or so later, it came hustling back and gestured to the other lizardfolk. They turned as one away from the keep and began moving toward the smoke, cautiously stalking.

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Session 15: The Road to Blackwall
In Which Allustan Opens Up.

8 Flocktime, 595 CY

Liberty was still wearing the mourning veil she’d affixed to her top hat when the others met up with her on the day Sam and Xan returned from the Free City. They’d all come to the bakery, and she’d whipped up a batch of delicious pastries to share. She seemed more like her old self than she had since they’d buried Constance a week before. Even Drake was there, covered with severe burn scars he’d gotten from burning down his home after the funeral. He seemed oddly at peace, despite this latest bout of psychotic behavior, and no one felt up to asking him about it. He’d spent a few days in jail for the arson, but he had enough to bribe his way out of it. Some things in Diamond Lake hadn’t changed.

“Allustan said he has a job for us,” said Liberty, once they’d settled in.

“Oh yea? Do tell,” said Xan. Mom grunted inquisitively.

She nodded. “He didn’t go into detail, really, but it sounds like a good way to get out of town. I was about to go see him if you wanted to come along. He was asking after you, Xan.”

“Sounds good. Let’s go find him.”

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Interlude: Playing Defense
In Which Xan Plots Friendship.

Posted by Jasper

As the final embers went out at the Midnight Salute, Xan stood on the sidelines watching… well, everything. He watched the crowds of people gawking at the spectacle. He watched the men and women who actually came to help out of a rare sense of goodwill. He watched anyone and everyone acting the slightest bit suspicious. He watched Liberty and Mom, hovering over Constance’s body in shock. Drake had disappeared. Xan could only imagine that he was off to drink himself to death…or kill someone else.

Xan hated times like this… Times of tragedy. These times made it very clear that Xan was an outsider. Sure, everyone knew Xan and almost all liked him. Xan was great at making a good first impression. But those were just acquaintances. Those who got close enough to really know him also saw the manipulator that he was. When it came to business, Xan was cold and calculating. These skills had been a great help in recent days with his new companions, but at this moment he was feeling the price. His friends were hurting right now, Drake and Liberty especially. He wanted to be there for them as a shoulder to lean on… but they didn’t want that from him. That made him feel a sadness that he hadn’t felt since the night he lost his family.

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Interlude: Phoenix Fire
In Which Drake Burns Ties.

Posted by GnomeSplosion

Fire, everywhere fire. A burning face, screaming in agony as the boy walked away scared yet confident in what he had done. A man, pained face lit by torchlight, begs the youth to care for his children as he is crushed, his pain highlighted by the flickering firelight. Hearth fire accenting the family who lost their livelihood as the young man explains to them that he had done all he could. An empty room, the Midnight Salute, set ablaze, the only lover Drake had sought, gone. Cornelius’s brain tried to put the pieces together, the body on the ground outside, the empty room set ablaze, the whole building burning to ashes, but it was too much. When Sam and the other rescuers had found him, he was seated in his usual chair, smoke curling from his scalp and arms as the hair curled and flaked away from the intense heat, his skin blistering and peeling.

A hand reached out and shook him, “Cornelius, c’mon up to my room hon, you could use the company tonight.” Cornelius grumbled, Constance stood there, warm and glowing with beauty. “Cornelius… Cornelius… Cornelius, lets go.” Her hand took his and with strength he never knew she had, she pulled him off his chair and began to lead him outside. “Cornelius… Cornelius… Drake…”

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Interlude: Ashes, Ashes
In Which Liberty Sets Her Course.

Posted by Darth Krzysztof

26 Planting, 595 CY

Liberty was finally starting to relax when one of the Midnight Salute’s second story windows exploded in a ball of fire. She knew at once what had happened, knew whose burning body had fallen into the Vein. She knew that nobody could have survived.

But she ran to her sister’s side all the same.

Liberty pulled her magical cloak from her shoulders and threw it over Constance’s smoldering body to extinguish the flames – and to give her sister the smallest measure of dignity. Maybe the fire could break the cloak’s enchantment; she was beyond caring.

Constance’s upraised hand twitched once, and Liberty grabbed it with both of hers. Someone, probably Mom, tried to save her with a spell, but to no avail. It’s too late, Liberty thought. She’s dead. Your sister’s dead, Libby, because you weren’t here for her.

“I’m here now,” she half-said, fighting back tears. “I’m here, Connie.”

Something in Constance’s hand glittered in the firelight – the necklace Liberty had bought for her in the Free City curio shop. The residual glow of a rune of power shone briefly in the necklace’s stone before fading from sight completely – explosive runes, or more properly, a powerful modification of that spell. Such magic was beyond Liberty’s powers. Filge’s, too, if his spellbook was any indication. Unless Khellek was back in town, she knew of no one in Diamond Lake who could have done this. Allustan had the skill, of course, but he was no murderer.

Murder. My sister was murdered.

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Session 14: The Threefold Spawn
In Which a God is Defeated.

The adventurers made their way back through the grimlock caverns and into the Dark Cathedral. To the south, the oily black pool roiled violently. Drake gritted his teeth at the sight. “Well… That’s ominous.”

“It wasn’t doing that before, right?” Liberty asked.

Sam snorted. “No, ma’am.”

Xan began to creep toward the pool, while the others drank potions and cast preparatory spells. Then, the middle of the pool rose up abruptly, looking like nothing so much as a massive black ooze. The mound of sludge began to lurch forward, sending the rogue scurrying back toward the others. Drake, however, rushed toward the ramp leading to the platforms surrounding the pool, growing in size as he downed an enlarge person infusion. As the large form drew near the shore, the sable water began to run off slowly, revealing an unnatural figure beneath.

The creature was a bizarre amalgamation of the three deities it was meant to embody. It was a ten-foot tall, powerfully built monster with six arms, smooth, dull gray skin and bulging muscles that pulsed with arcane power. Three of its arms, two on its left and one on its right, were missing their hands. It had a gaunt, skeletal face and, as the oil finally cleared its horrible mouth, massive fangs. It roared, sending bubbles of pitch spittle splattering across the floor. Mom grunted in alarm.

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Session 13: Children of the Many
In Which the Ebon Triad Becomes a Null Set.

Drake coughed up blood. “Ugh… Could really use some assistance,” he said from the rock pile.

“Coming,” said Mom. He moved over to the alchemist and began prodding him with the healing wand.

“Thanks,” the big man rumbled. “Don’t think I’ve ever needed this much rescuin’ before.”

Sam grunted as she sheathed her bloodless greatsword. Seeing the rogue slumped against the wall, bleeding from pretty much every limb, she called down to the cleric. “Xan’s gonna need you to poke him some, too.” After a beat she added, “You can even pick your favorite hole.”

“Remind me to have a witty response to that when I’m not about to pass out,” said Xan. Sam nodded at him sympathetically. Liberty shook her head and laughed.

“Hey!” Mom complained about the innuendo. “If I could climb, I’d be right there.”

Sam fished around in her backpack for a rope. She tossed one end down to Mom, then tied the other end off to the bridge. “Getcher green ass up here,” she said pleasantly.

“It’s grey-green. And I’m on my way.”

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Session 12: The Caves of Erythnul
In Which the Terrain Becomes Difficult.

The adventurers checked the rest of the Vecnan part of the complex to make sure it was clear of further threats then stopped to recover from their assault on the labyrinth. Liberty found a number of apocryphal writings apparently penned by the Faceless One, or whatever the melted form on the floor of the laboratory had been. She requested some time to examine them, and the others obliged, content to heal and rest up before taking the attack to the third and final section of the compound.

I came to life today, in this dark place. Then, the Master’s Voice taught me my place in this world, and spoke of my role in the accomplishment of the Ninth Prophecy. He told me I have to forget the surface world, the trees and the sunlight, that these dreamlike memories weren’t mine but would stay with me, and that he had taken away from me the face that wasn’t mine too. Toiling on the Master’s Great Work makes me happy. I hope to prove him my devotion by succeeding where the Ebon Triad project failed.

~ ~ ~

The preparatory rituals are done. The womb left uncompleted by Vecna, then a simple lich, already wears his imprint. We only need to melt in the two other divine essences needed.

~ ~ ~

The Hextorites came, trickling down by small groups from the mine. They seemed pleased by the rooms prepared for them, and began at once the consecration of their temple. In accordance with the Master’s plans, they mistook me for a servitor of the Maimed God and don’t suspect my true allegiances.

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