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Old 08-03-2019, 02:07 PM
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Round 3 - PF Antipode, Qiksilv

So close and yet so farBloody and bruised, the adventurers are pressed forward. You guessed it - no rests and no resource recovery between Rounds 2 and 3.The breakneck pace is barely worth noting anymore. It's hard not to detest the judges for straining the group and manipulating them into these painful 'proofs' of strength. But you remember, sometimes at least, that there are others pressing in from the four corners of the world. You are all striving to meet at the center, where the Labyrinth and its Door to incredible power awaits. So, you press on, barely bothering to remark when the judges split your group yet again.

But within hours of that split, you crest a hill. Before you lies a bowl-shaped valley, and in the center is a gigantic heap of rubble made of deep grey stone and splintered timbers. Ophelya, Guardian of your Dreams says in her gentle and breathy voice, "There it is. The ruins of the Labyrinth." In two other places upon the lip of this great bowl, you see small groups of people emerge, specks on the horizon. They pause to take in the scene, as you do now.

Then, hovering before you, again appears the spectral image of the Arch-Mage Rostamoinen, in his purple robes, narrow curled mustache, pointed beard and arched eyebrows. Oh good. Rostamoinen is here. Pay attention, I’m not repeating whatever he says. Lord High Commander Kokabiel Strix mentions before the image begins speaks and turns his back looking down at the ruins. He then begins to walk towards the ruins leaving you to listen. "Welcome, worthies, to the Labyrinth! I am sorry I could not greet you in person, but I am not far. I am deep beneath the ruins that lie before you. The Labyrinth held not just treasures and traps, but access and passage to greater power. Deep down, below where the greedy and vain tread last year, The Chamber of the Nine. In that Chamber is the Door to our Citadel, which lies not on this plane of existence. You must reach that Door, if you wish to join us.

"You have proven yourself worthy of the battle, and you have shown your willingness to sacrifice and choose for the greater good. Now we ask you to overcome a third set of challenges. We wish to see your true resourcefulness, and your raw will to persevere. This is your third test. Delve into the Labyrinth, and find me. Do what it takes to overcome every obstacle before you, and do it faster and better than any of the other aspirants that have met here today."
Looking at the other groups, you can see a sparkling transparent figure hovering before them, as well.

"Your first task: enter the Labyrinth! Good luck! We can't let this be too easy, you know..." The image vanishes. The aspirants to the Nine look down to the crumbled walls to find the nearest entrance. Standing in a narrow plaza in front of the entrance is the first obstacle - the judges.

As the reality of the situation begins to sink in you can see down in the plaza, the Lord High Commander, the Guardian of your Dreams, and the Archmage standing a few feet apart prepared to stop you from entering the ruins.

As you breathe in, taking in the reality of the situation, you see the little archmage mage wave his hands and then a giant pair of lips, stained red with ink, appear in the air in front of you. Don’t worry, I’ve seen you both make it across this obstacle a thousand different times in a thousand different ways…now sure there are a couple of attempts that didn’t work out so…well. But I’m sure you won’t make the same mistakes twice. Or I guess, for you, it would be the first time? You see in time, all things are possible, but I suppose all that matters is this very moment. Some say time is a wibbly wobbly sphere but its more like a tangled web with loose ends that don’t really go…

Suddenly the excited voice of the gnome is cut off by the deep resonating voice you’ve come to dread booming as the spell enhances it though it sounds as though it is very distant, Mifflewerf – Focus!

Oh yes, right sorry. Come and get us, nerds!

With that the giant lips make a kissy face as they collapse in on themselves leaving red sparkles in the air.

From this distance it is clear that the judges have made their preparations.

Ophelya floats above the ground, a pair of translucent, golden, opalescent wings shimmering in the sunlight. All around her little motes of light sparkle and play, making it very difficult to focus on her exact location.

Mifflewerf stood his arms crossed watching your approach. A bird flying overhead dipped in the air moving a little too close to the tiny mage, and suddenly the bird was moving slower than an ogre coated in molasses. It continued on its way moving a hundred times too slow, but as soon as it was away from the gnome, it continued along its path, completely unphased and unaware of the change.

Finally, in the center stood Kokabiel. His amber eyes burning from behind the obscuring darkness veiling his face. His platemail radiated black flames and the massive flail he kept at his side was now in one hand, and the other was clenched, slowly moving up as if it was lifting a weight a thousand times too heavy. In a fiery eruption the area all around Kokabiel took on the visage of one of the fierty planes of Hell. Blackened stone replaced grass and in the distance lava flowed – but the ruins, the goal, remained. Above them stood black wroght iron gates, unlocked they creeked in the hot wind. Above them, the wrought iron was scripted to read, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.”

In the distance, the other groups of adventurers begin dashing down the sides of the great earthen bowl, rushing towards the ruins. A few flashes can be seen, and booms echo across the field. You can see the tiny archmage of time smirk and shout, "Better hurry!"

The judges are ready.

Are you?
 

MechanicsRound 3 is an obstacle course! You will encounter a series of challenges, each taking a post or two to overcome. This will be a series of challenges, puzzles, and obstacles that you can overcome with clever combinations of skill rolls, class abilities, and player creativity. This is NOT a combat round (though clever uses of combat abilities may help you to overcome obstacles).

Your first obstacle is simply to get past the judges! They are going to resist your progress through attacks, spells, grapples, and whatever else they can do. You just need to keep away from them, and enter the door to the Labyrinth. Whatever skills and abilities you use, declare them clearly, describe (in the narrative) how and why they are used, and justify why they would be effective (if it's not immediately obvious).

You may make only 1 post per day, and there will likely be 6 posts this week. Your GM is the infallible Wodine. They attempt to update in the mornings, however there are sometimes extenuating circumstances (usually lab work) which must take precedence. There will be exactly one GM post per day, excepting Sunday. This is the GM post for Monday. The thread will close Sunday, August 11th at 10pm EST.

Your initial hit points are exactly what they were at the end of Round 2. Any resources spent in Rounds 1&2 REMAIN spent - no effects from items, spells, or abilities carry over, aside from healing. No item or ability re-charges occurred.

Action economy will go a little different this round. We WILL be tracking how many actions you take (using a potion or wand takes a round, a ritual takes many minutes, etc), but you are free to take multiple actions in a single post. This round is a race through an obstacle course! The more actions you take, the longer you take to accomplish your goals. The longer you take, the more you'll fall behind in the race, and the fewer points you'll receive. All else equal, the fewer actions and the more successfully you overcome the obstacle, the more points you'll get. Lots of actions and only marginal success will earn you fewer points. This means there are no "pre-rounds" this week of competition. If you want to heal or use items, you are free to do so. But those things take time, and will cause you delay in the race. Choose wisely.

PvP is NOT allowed in this round. Actions taken to directly oppose the actions of other players will be deemed unsportsmanlike by judges. The judges are NOT considered 'players' in this first obstacle, so... have fun with that

All posts need to include the following under {spoilerbuttons}:
  • A clear statement of your movement. We will NOT be using battle maps this round, so clear statements like "Dashing" or "25 feet away from X", or "15 feet down Y" are sufficient, or "through the passage".
  • An explicit statement of all mechanical actions you take in the post, and how much time they take ("full action", "1 minute" etc). More use of actions and abilities will generally take more time, but of course, using abilities is how you're going to survive and succeed.
  • Clear tracking of resources expended, cumulative throughout the competition (this is often done via a stat block). Be sure this is includes all resources spent (and HP lost & recovered!) from Rounds 1 and 2 of competition.

All rolls should be made using inum tags and placed within the spoilerbutton next to the appropriate action. Here is an example thread from 2017. If you are taking an action that uses your skills and has uncertain results, please state the skill that applies and make the roll without waiting for GM approval. The GM will adjudicate results and applicability of the skill in their next post.

Edits may be made to a post up to ONE HOUR from the original post. If any rolls are made after this time or if any rolls are shown as modified as a result of an edit, the entire day's posts will be deleted by the DM. This will not work against you, but you will be punished by having to surrender that day's actions.

All point totals (including judge discretionary evaluations) are TRIPLED, relative to Round 1. Each obstacle has the same number of maximum treasure points available. Those solutions that are the fastest, most creative, most elegant, and most successful will be granted the most points. We will generally not give you skill DCs when we describe the obstacle before you. Knowledge, perception, insight, or social skills may help to get a sense of difficulty of various approaches to overcoming an obstacle, but those will take time, both in game world (delaying your character's progress in the race) and IRL (since GMs update only once per day).
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5e one-shot adventure in development, to be advertised late August or early September.

Last edited by wodine; 08-05-2019 at 10:10 AM.
  #2  
Old 08-06-2019, 01:27 AM
Antipode Antipode is offline
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Le´ze DeltarnThe kobold warrens and the unexplored dangers of the other wings of the dungeon were now far behind him, as were most of the other competitors. But not quite all. "Seems you were right, Lancaster," he remarked. "You're still not alone." There was a hint of bitterness to his words, the quiet whisper of a choice that had rung with betrayal, no matter how minor or justified it may have been. At least it isn't that old madman still with me, he considered. I will be on no one's leash

Ahead was the gateway to the prize. The opportunity to tilt the balance of the world, if Rostamoinen could be believed. To weight matters a little more in favor of the common folk and those who had to make do on steel and skill alone. But also ahead were the faces of this entire enterprise. Judges who had demonstrated the power to restore life to dead children or alter time itself. Le´ze's weapon was forged of an otherworldly metal a good sight stronger than steel, but its strength seemed lacking compared to what stood in his way.

Le´ze had been trained with the Green Order. But there was little about the terrain to find promising, and the suddenness of the confrontation foreclosed any hope of fieldcraft or stealth. But that didn't mean he was surrendering his place in this tournament. "We have certain expectations," people had told him, over and over. His father. Thibault. It was always about what he couldn't do. But these judges would have expectations of their own, drawn from the skills and techniques he had demonstrated during the tasks so far.

Of course, Le´ze had spent his entire life disappointing people's expectations.

He reached into his satchel, and drew forth one more vial. With all the injuries he had suffered along the way, from sharks to javelins, it had become something of a ritual. But this draught did not mend his wounds. "Childrens' lives aren't toys for some game, Strix, whether or not you can flash them back to life." He pointed angrily at the Lord High Commander. And wondered, for an idle moment, exactly what he was supposed to be Lord High Commander of, anyway. "And the measure of a man isn't how high he can stack the corpses of his foes. I may not be the hero Rostamoinen is looking for, but you're a poor judge."

Le´ze offered a determined grimace. "You might be alone soon, though, Lancaster." As he dug his heels against the crater floor and set off at a breakneck pace, he swung his polearm from its back-sheath into his ready hands. With a combat cry, the ranger rushed ... along a path quite far from Kokabiel's, almost as if he were charging Ophelya instead. She hovered and flickered before him, and he took to the air in a vast leap that can only have been assisted by magic. In mid-air, polearm blade before him, he must have looked like something out of the legends of spear-wielding knights who had stolen the power of the air from the dragons themselves.

But while he let much of his guard drop in favor of speed, he did not engage her, nor anyone else. Others might have expected him to bring that blade to bear, to try to leave a judge sprawled across the ground, or to give into his wrath for the Lord High Commander. With his eyes on the passage downward, for once, he truly hoped that the people before him had had those certain expectations.


 



Le´ze Deltarn
HP: 27 / 54
AC: denied Dex from the Run action17; Saves: +11 / +9 / +5
Items consumed: potion of cure light wounds (CL5) (2), potion of jump (CL9)
Abilities expended: Ranger's Focus (2) [0 remaining], Hunter's Tricks (2) [2 remaining]
Active effects: jump (CL9) [89 rounds remaining]

Last edited by Antipode; 08-06-2019 at 01:39 AM.
  #3  
Old 08-06-2019, 03:16 AM
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Tobias Lancaster featuring: Khelben Ishii
 
 
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:44 AM
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PF Outplay 3.2 The two able bodied men from this side of the basin made their way down the hill with speed and grace, not wanting to fall behind the thus unnamed others who were competing for the same honors.

Charging forward the men do their best to avoid, confuse, and feint against the judges.

Unfortunately for them, these were not mere mortals they were dealing with. They were dealing with representatives of the nine; a group known throughout the lands for the cruelty, capriciousness, generosity, mirth, and devotion to law. Obviously what they are known for is beset in the eye of the Not the trademarked monster. No lawsuits necessary here WotCbeholder.

Le´ze feints towards the Lord High Commander, unfortunately it was clumsy and ill timed, and none of the judges bothered preparing a defense against the attack. Then he took to the air, leaping not towards the Hellknight but instead over Ophelya. Unfortunetly for the young wanderer, she was already floating in the air it it took only the slightest flick of her wrist to cause one of the motes of light to crash into him.

The burst of light was unlike anything Le´ze had ever experienced. It was as if the sun had suddenly emerged right before him. A burning sensation coursed through his body, though it was unlike anything he had ever felt; the pain crackled and surged like arced ligtning but seared like a platemail on a sunny day all while tingling with arcane bluster
Dice Dmg:
d8 2
(2). The burst of energy caused him to crash to the ground on the far side of the judges
Dice Fall damage:
d6 6
(6) in a rather unceremonious manner, his body skidding into the entrance of the ruins. Though he could feel and hear the sound of the gate as he bumped into it, he could not see anything but the white light the burst had caused.

The sound of his body on hard rock was almost as painful as his head forcing open the iron gates which had been lazily moving back and forth in the slow wind.

Meanwhile Tobias attempted to fool the judges, causing the archmage and Ophelya to scoff, and Kokabiel
Dice Save:
d20+12sch14 (17)+12 Total = 29
(29) to almost laugh at the pitiful misdirection.

Choosing to fly in the same direction Le´ze had chosen by attempting to leap over Ophelya, the magus sees the result of missing the mark.

Choosing to try and shoot the gap between the sparkling dream guardian and Kokabiel, he instead finds himself turning to see the small tattooed face of the mage floating in the air in front of him. What did I tell you? The voice was a stern condemnation, referring to the speech the mage had just made, ...wait what did I tell you? The wizard paused for a moment, now uncertain of what had transpired. Kokabiel…?

JUST. HIT. HIM. The Lord High calls from his place on the ground.

Oh. Well Alright.

Suddenly the gnome’s fist was crackling with arcane energy and he moved to grab hold of the flying warrior mage
Dice Atk:
d20+6sch13 (2)+6 Total = 8
(8) in the hopes of releasing the energy into him. Though it wouldn’t be enough to stop Tobias, but then there was Kokabiel, who for just a moment, Tobias could swear he saw a smile glinting from behind the darkness, but it was far too fanged to have been human…

A bolt of black fire shoots from Kokabiel’s free hand.

Tobias attempts to dodge the fire but as he moves, so too does the flame, seeking his movement. When the flame finally catches the Magus, it erupts in a dark conflagration which envelopes the man’s entire body, causing him to lose focus at crash to the ground, just as Le´ze had done only moments before
Dice Fall:
d6 4
(4).

As Tobias crashes into the ruins, he catches sight of himself reflected in an obsidian lava flow, burned into his forehead is an inverted red pentagram: the Archstar, symbol of Asmodeus.

With both bodies now occupying the ruins, the weight was too much and the entrance collapses under their combined weight, and they fall.

And they fall...
Inside the LabyrinthAs their stiffened bodies come and groggy heads focus, the adventurers can take in the scene. This used to be a massive complex. Thick dark stone walls form a room that used to be square, with doors leading in three directions (aside from back outside, where the judges do not seem to be taking up pursuit). But the walls are no longer walls, they are heaps of rubble. The doors are no longer doors, they are mounds of splintered and termite-chewed wood. A few peeks of sunlight punch through the ceiling overhead.

It does not take long for the group to realize their predicament. Their ‘entrance’ has further destabilized the structure. The floor shifts, then tilts, and then crumbles underfoot. There are a few seconds of falling, and loud rumbling, a plume of dust, and winds whipping in every direction. Finally, dusty and bruised but mostly unharmed by the experience, they see a long corridor before them.

Brushing off the dust of the collapsed then-floor, now-ceiling, you enter a small 4 foot by 4 foot passage. A strong wind (approximately 20mpg/30kph) comes from the tunnel blowing into your face, and then up into the hole you fell through, 30 feet overhead. Sometimes the wind whips faster or slower, sometimes creating whirling eddies. Before the entryway to the small tunnel are several items - a spear, 3 steel shields,50 feet of rope, a wineskin, a crowbar, a 10 foot chain and 3 small potion bottles.

As you glance down the corridor, you see that most of the floor, as well as spottier patches of the walls, it is coated with a thick layer of green slime. A few feet away you see a struggling rabbit which had become stuck in the slime, flailing about in apparent agony. But before your eyes, the rabbit ceases it struggles and begins to dissolve under the corrosive slime.

The corridor ends after 40 feet, but a haunting light that comes from the end lets you know that the tunnel continues downwards, deeper into the heart of the Labyrinth. This must be a shortcut to your destination…
OoC You both need to make a DC 25 Will Save
Le´ze:
Dice Roll:
d20+5sch25 (13)+5 Total = 18
(18)
Tobias:
Dice Roll:
d20+6sch25 (10)+6 Total = 16
(16)

If you fail:
Le´ze your sight is permanently damaged, you can only see 30 feet and you treat light conditions as one less than they are. Example: Normal light = Dim light, etc…

Tobias you are suffering from the Maladroit Curse: You take a –5 penalty on all Dexterity-based skill checks. Furthermore, during combat, the victim must succeed at a DC 20 Reflex save at the beginning of each round or drop a held item (such as a weapon or wand). If she fails the save but isn’t holding anything, she instead loses her balance and falls prone.
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Last edited by wodine; 08-06-2019 at 11:18 AM.
  #5  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:20 AM
Antipode Antipode is offline
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Le´ze DeltarnA long time ago, Le´ze had been resting in an inn-room that was, of course, far more comfortable in retrospect, drinking an ale that was far more enjoyable in retrospect, and concluding that what message the illusion of a self-described archmage might be trying to deliver, it wasn't meant for him. Along the way, the ranger's appraisal of his circumstances had varied, as such things do, from a sense of veritable hopelessness to one of exultant triumph. In any case, he'd survived things up until this point and, on the whole, had generally stricken that initial gut response to Rostamoinen from his mind. I do belong here, he had generally concluded.

As he tumbled through the air, burning with magical energy and blinded by something that "light" seemed fully inadequate to describe, it occurred to him that maybe first impressions are good ones after all. The ground did its level -- or unlevel, given its condition -- best to confirm that suspicion, as did the remains of the Labyrinth's wrought iron gate, which was kind enough to hope when slammed into it head first. And then, literally, the floor fell out from under him. Le´ze remembered, briefly, that he had knocked over a flagon of that ale in his haste to join this contest, and indeed hadn't taken the time to clean up the mess. For an instant, he felt very much like that spilled, forgotten ale. Losing consciousness would have likely been a mercy, but it didn't seem this was shaping up to be a particularly merciful day.

When both he and the surroundings finally stopped moving, and he waited an extra breath to make sure that really was the case, Le´ze picked himself up and began to appraise his new surroundings. Which were ... dim. Reaching up, he tapped on the ioun torch that orbited his head. But there wasn't anything wrong with the twirling bit of magical fire. Fire. His eyes burned like fire, and he sighed in frustration. "Fantastic," he muttered aloud. "Who needs to see where they're going in a dungeon, anyway?"

Tobias Lancaster was the apparent answer to that question, for he had likewise survived the judges' gauntlet, after a fashion. The branded mark on his forehead was new however; it seemed a familiar symbol, but Le´ze couldn't quite place it in his current condition. "You know," he addressed his sometimes-ally. If nothing else, hardships and handicaps do a great deal to put circumstances into their proper perspective. "I may have been a little... snide with you. You did the right thing, back in the warrens. Honestly, more than anything else, I'm starting to think the judges are trying to play us all against each other, do their job for them. It's a tournament, competition, race, whatever, and that's all good, I suppose. But I'm really starting to wonder just exactly what we're being judged on. I had a lot of time to think about it while crashing my way into this hellhole head-first." He grinned, despite it all.

He turned his attention to the windy passageway. Windy, slimy, and fading away into an indistinct haze of darkness as his vision betrayed him. But mostly, as a matter of first concern, slimy. "On the other hand, nothing good ever comes from this stuff," he groused. "Any time it shows up in a dungeon, sooner or later, someone falls in it. Or it drips on them. Or it gets flung around by some lunatic ooze worshipper. And then you end up like that rabbit there." He did realize the suspicious convenience of a rabbit in this godsforsaken place, but given that the judges were willing to watch children die and attempt, rather in earnest, to burn the eyes from his skull, arranging for the horrific and agonizing death of an animal to prove a point didn't seem the least out of character. He shook his head soberly. "I'm not going to lie, it's terrible. Melts your flesh right off your bones and turns it into more of the same goop. There are worse ways to leave this world, but there aren't many. Now... it's pretty clear that only one of us, at best, can fit down that passageway. But there's wind coming out of there, and that means there's good air. So that's where we need to go."

Le´ze grabbed one of the shields from the convenient stockpile and began fiddling with his satchel. "I'm pretty sure I can clear the path, so I'm going in first. If I'm right, you've got my word that I won't take too much advantage of being the first one into whatever the next horror might be. If I'm wrong, well, at least you'll get to see what happened and have a fighting chance. Competition or not, this sort of thing really has been my job for awhile now, and I'll not broach any argument on the matter, any more than I'd let another man die to this slime when I have a say. Balance of the world at issue or otherwise."

Le´ze shuttled a heavy jar of liquid into the tunnel mouth. The glass shattered against the stone with a rewarding sound, and a burst of fire spread over the slime, cooking it into an inert paste. Well, hopefully, anyway. Using the looted shield, face-down, like a serving-tray, he set three more such jars upon it, and placed the shield in the tunnel. A fourth, he kept in hand. "I won't lie to you, I can't see how far this slime goes. If I run out of incendiaries, I've got a few tricks left, but..." He allowed that sentence to trail off unfinished.

Instead, he clambered into the newly de-slimed front reaches of the tunnel, wedging himself diagonally across the four-by-four space like climbing a chimney. Slowly, he advanced forward, pushing the shield and its precious cargo beneath him, and tossing the jars into the wind and slime as logistics demanded.


 



Le´ze Deltarn
HP: 19 / 54
AC: AC 15 while in the tiny tunnel, if it counts as squeezing; or AC 13 if it's some hybrid of squeezing/Climbing/Escaping.19; Saves: +11 / +9 / +5
Items consumed: potion of cure light wounds (CL5) (2), potion of jump (CL9), alchemist's fire (4)
Abilities expended: Ranger's Focus (2) [0 remaining], Hunter's Tricks (2) [2 remaining]
Active effects: jump (CL9) [79 rounds remaining]

Last edited by Antipode; 08-07-2019 at 01:20 AM.
  #6  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:38 AM
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Tobias Lancaster featuring Khelben Ishii
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Tobias coughed once. He was lying on his back and felt very much like a ragdoll; coldly discarded amidst the debris. The Elf sat up, winced, and pressed his hand to his head. The mark of the curse that Strix had put on him was unmistakable and the magus could feel the effects already. His head pounded and there was a sensation like he could fall over if he wasn't paying close enough attention.

For just a moment he left his eyes closed to enjoy the feeling of darkness on his eyes. Whatever place he had descended to was quiet; like most underground dungeons with infrequent foot traffic. Khelben's own tomb had been silent like this between challenges. Lancaster let his senses adjust to the new environment and soon picked out the smaller details that frequently got lost on the surface. The was a smell here of dust and rot; and something else, a tinge of acidity, like when someone regurgitates. His ears could make out a slight shifting of the rubble; the low, low scuffle of some under-dwelling animal; and, surprisingly, the rustle of a sudden breeze.

The blast of air is what finally what made him decide to get up. With a groan he opened his eyes and stood slowly, taking in his surroundings. It was surprisingly light considering how far they had fallen. Most of the light seemed to be coming from the end of a narrow tunnel. The green flesh-eating ooze was worrisome, it would be hard to go around in these tight quarters. "How do you fair, Leize?" Tobias had taken a beating from Strix but he had gotten a glimpse of the fighter taking his lumps too since the man had charged just in front of him. "It's not really surprising they are tough but still," Tobias slowly rotated his shoulder, "they hit hard."

The lich in the Elf's mind was silent too, for Khelben the sensation of being underground evoked a complicated muddle of feeling both as if he had just come home and as if he was trapped. This happened almost every time they ventured underground, the battle arena was a different situation for a number of reasons, Tobias had learned that on the rare occasions when his passenger was sorting out his nostalgia that he should just enjoy the quiet however briefly it endured.

Tobias drew his sword and rattled it at the nearest oozes to see if the little buggers could be so easily taunted from their perches on the walls and ceilings. Then he tried to slide the blade under a few to see if the stubborn ones could be more specifically removed before they tumbled onto him and his companion. He hated getting the goopy mess on his sword but the thing was indestructible as long as he had magic potential stored in it and though he had used the last of his personal reserves in the battle arena his sword had plenty in it to keep it safe from these flesh-eating piles of goop.

After eyeing the pile of random supplies Tobias tried to entice the oozes with the rope as well. He figured if they were really that interested in organic material then perhaps they could be drawn off the higher places by a long tasty strand of hemp.

"Do you want any of these?" Tobias asked Leize while pointing at the potions on the ground. "If you wanted to wait I could try and tell us what's in them but I think I'll hold off for now." The Magus had initially been excited to try and identify the contents but the more he thought about it (it seemed like hours for some reason) he just couldn't see the merit in taking so much time in a race to see what was inside. So while he will pick up any potions that his companion doesn't Tobias won't spend the time to do anything special with them.

He fleetingly considered just drinking one but a little tickle in the back of his mind told him that doing something so foolhardy was a sure way to wake up his invisible companion.

"Time for strategy I guess. I would just fly over all the goop but the wind in that tunnel isn't always just a pleasant little breeze and quite frankly I'm worried that it might have almost placed there on purpose to mess with any one who was expecting an easy challenge because of flight. So I don't think I should count on it too much." Tobias began removing a few things from his pack and gathered some of the random items in the room, "So I figure," he began while coiling rope and sorting supplies, "If we both sit on a shield like a sled it should protect us from the ooze below and I can propel myself with magic over the tops of them. The goop on the sides and top ought to be cleared away. I think I can do it with one of these methods I've just been trying with my sword and this rope.

Once the higher slimers are cleared off I'll drive one of these crowbars into the wall every 15' or so and wrap the rope around it and my waist to make sure that even if I do end up getting pushed by the wind I don't lose much ground. You are more than welcome to come with but if you had some pitons to compliment my hammer that would be appreciated. I seem to have not packed mine,"
the mage admitted sheepishly.

"Oh, and if you want to wait a spell I could try and patch some of your wounds first. I'm not much of a healer but I do have a wand which sometimes helps." Tobias felt a distinct movement inside his mind at that thought. The lich was really not fond of divine healing even if it did benefit his host. There had been a sizable argument about whether they even ought to get the wand at all. Now was the prime opportunity to use it since Khelben was largely removed from consciousness right now.

The reason may not have been obvious to Leize but Tobias concluded his offer for health in a whisper, "So yeah, just let me know if you want me to try."

"That's a handy trick," Tobias adds as the pair advances on the passage. "I might be able to help with that some if it works better than my option. Sound good...Friend?" The dirty sword-mage holds out a hand tentatively before proceeding with the other man.

 
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  #7  
Old 08-07-2019, 10:53 AM
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PF Outplay 3.3 As the dust settled it became obvious that the judges were not interested in pursuing you into the ruins. It would have been a simple matter for any one of them to destroy you trapped in such a small area, but no retribution came, so instead you choose to press forward.

Tobias looked at the potions, one was bright blue and cold to touch, another was black and so oily it stained the vial, and the last was crystal clear but was a curled label that read, ‘Drink Me.’ Deciding not to make use of any of them, he instead attempts to entice the green slime with various objects, but to little avail.

The two would be members of the nine, evaluate their options and settle on an age old classic.

Purge. With. Fire.

And so the purgation begins.

The acrid smell in the tunnel is unmistakable. Even with the unpredictable wind speeds churning down the tunnel, it does not ventilate the tunnel fast enough to protect your noses. The smoke, fire, and caustic smells have combined to create something foul - and the smoke didn’t help, hindering the already hampered vision of L´eze.

And so they went, burning and scraping. Scraping and burning.

The crackling, and burning hall as unpleasant as it was, was simple to navigate once the ooze was burned away, but as they reached the end of the tunnel, with only a few feet between them and then end of the ooze, L´eze’s arm failed him. The glass vial of swirling red alchemy slipped through his fingers which were covered in sweat and soot.

The vial falls at his feet. He sucks in his breath knowing what’s about to happen, but he can’t stop it, it clatters to the ground and delicate crystal shatters, and an eruption of flame wraps around him the flames licking his flesh, lashing out and singeing Tobias as they burn.

The smouldering flames remain in the tunnel still burning, but they have been through worse - the large problem was there was still 10 feet of green ooze between them and their way forward.
OoC You rolled a natural 1 for that last alchemist's fire!
L´eze Rd 1:
Dice Roll:
d6 1
(1)
L´eze Rd 2:
Dice Roll:
d6 3
(3)
Tobias: 1 point of splash.

Action TrackerObstacle 1: 2 Rounds
Obstacle 2: 7 Rounds
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  #8  
Old 08-08-2019, 12:00 AM
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Tobias Lancaster featuring Khelben Ishii
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The smell of old earth had been replaced rather unpleasantly by the clouds of burning ooze creatures. Despite his concerns about the wind speed in the tunnel the ventilation was just not enough to deal with the smoke as they burned like piles of oily rags. His eyes stung and watered but he managed to keep them open, mostly to help Leize out as much as possible from his spot in the rear.

The brief scramble as Deltarn tried to recatch the fumbled vial spoke volumes to Tobias who had time to sigh before flames licked at him. Fortunately (for Tobias) the man in front got most of the damage. Still, the sudden flash of heat burned him. The magus ran his gloved hand through his hair a few times to make sure there were no burning strands and leaned forward to his companion.

"You alright there, Leize?" To his surprise he was genuinely concerned for the gruff man. Most of the adventurers he had traveled with tended to be self absorbed and really only interested in what they could gain from whatever tomb/dungeon they were vanquishing. Usually wealth, an item, or just more power. To the cursed warrior though it seemed like the pole-fighter was doing this more because he needed to prove that his strictly martial training was relevant despite a lifetime of being told it wasn't. The human had come far, obvious considering he'd been called here, and wasn't quitting even though it had been challenging and Tobias respected that.

"Oh good, you're best friends now," came a snarky voice in his head. Tobias sighed. Sometimes it was so easy to get used to not having a voice in his head but that solitude was over now. Tobias took a moment to remind himself that if he succeeded in these trials he might have a chance to be rid if the Lich forever but the thought of maybe being free later didn't help much with the annoyance that was about to start happening now.

Tobias brushed some soot of the back of Leize's jacket and whispered to himself, [say]How was your vacation, Khelben. Are you coming back to the land of the living now?[say]

Khelben chuckled. If only his host knew the truth behind that question. "Oh yes, Tobias. I am most definitely coming back to the land of the living. Soon now. Soon Which is why I'm wondering why we are just sitting here. Clear the road, hero."

Tobias found himself suddenly leaning forward, extending his hand past Leize, and pointing his index and ring fingers out down the hall. "ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਸਾੜੋ", Khelben said strongly and flame poured out from the place between his extended fingers and soared down the hall. "That should do it. Don't you think, Weapon Master?" Khelben's gruffer voice said into the ear of Leize. The title of 'weapon master' came out almost sounding like the verbal equivalent of a sneer.

Tobias sank quickly back into his own shield/sled and his dirty face went white and for a moment his hand was still outstretched as if forgotten. Then he quickly tried to go back to normal in an attempt to make Khelben's rudeness appear to Leize as if it was just a simple misunderstanding. The possessed man rarely had good success with this, hence the lack of close friends in his backstory.

"What I mean to say...friend," Tobias began in his 'normal' voice. Well, normal aside from an overt tone of nervousness. He was speaking just a tad too fast and if one was paying attention there was also a slight quiver in his voice. He cleared his throat before continuing which helped settle out the verbal cues that he might be feeling distressed. "Is that I could only cast that once; maybe twice, so I'm glad you found out that the fire was our best option and did so much of it successfully." This was followed by a weak smile that may or may not go unnoticed.

"You really are pitiable, Tobias," Khelben said snidely. "That man should have stayed as some poor castle guard somewhere and left the adventures to those prepared to face challenges with magic. The most successful way to do anything."

Tobias tried to ignore the voice as well as he could but one thing stuck out to him. He really didn't know this man at all. Ishii jested about the role this other fighter ought to have kept in society but the man before Tobias didn't seem like a generic soldier. There was a weight about him that seemed as if it had been placed there by others and just the way he held his posture suggested a better upbringing than most of the town guards he had ever met.

"So, where are you from?" Tobias asks to satisfy his curiosity and hopefully quell any suspicions from his traveling companion. The mage then put both hands on the shield in front of him and began pushing it forward by making use of his flying spell.

"Oh gods," Khelben cursed. His host was making friends with a 3/4's dead man who was so mundane that he was barely useful as a paperweight; whether he was alive or dead.

"Shut up, Khelben," Tobias whispered once more in the smoke.

 
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2019, 10:04 AM
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Outplay PF 3.4 The fire and purge technique had worked so well up until the little problem with the last vial. Though both slightly burnt and a little frustrated the dynamic duo continue forward.

This time it was Tobiasĺ magic which would clear the last of their path. Suffling places with the other man, so as to not burn him as well, Tobias, with the help of his less than silent partner, cause a gout of flame to pour forth from his hands burning away the last of the vile corrosive ooze.

Scraping any last bits with the shield, it is obvious this goo was not to be trifled with ľ as you reached the end of the passage the shield had several holes burnt into it where there had once been metal. It was indeed a dangerous passage, but save for the minor conflagration it was bypassed without trouble.
The Sub-LabyrinthThe tunnels are lit by occasional pale blue light-orbs. The smell of the burning ooze still lingers, saturating your clothes and your nostrils. Your eyes burn a little, and you feel a just a little sick to your stomach ľ hopefully some fresh air will clear that up.

The tunnel leads you downwards. As you continue, the passages are less and less dwarven-built and more and more natural. Water drips and trickles along the floor. Side passages abruptly end, or double back, or end up not being side passages at all, but the way forward. This wandering is long enough that Tobiasĺ Fly ends.A frustrating series of turns, lit by that same eerie light, finally brings you to an abrupt end.

The small room at the end of the passageway has two features. First, there is a stout metal door with no apparent handle, knob, or mechanism to open it. Second, there is an ornate pedestal in the center of the room.

The pedestal stands four feet tall. There is a basin inscribed with runes in a strange old language. In the basin sits a shining smooth black orb. On each side of the orb is an impression of a hand, as if someone squeezed the stone and molded it like clay. As you approach, the runes glow green. The ancient runes appear fade out of existence then relight in your native tongue. The words read:
Glowing RunesThe whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Your strength alone will not allow you passage. All who would enter must share their essence to open the way. If any withholds, all will fail.

But what is your essence? And is the Nine really asking you to make some sort of donation? It's hard to know if one should give a little, or a lot? Perhaps one should give all they can give. Perhaps this is a game or a ruse, and the only winning move is to not play at all.

What will you decide?
Action TrackerObstacle 1: 2 Rounds
Obstacle 2: 7 Rounds + 2 Rounds
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  #10  
Old 08-09-2019, 02:23 AM
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Tobias Lancaster featuring Khelben Ishii
The Long Walk
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Crunch, Crunch, Crunch. The sound of gritty sand on a stone floor being trod upon was, and had been for several minutes, the only sound in the corridor. Leize seemed absorbed in his own thoughts after the slime pathway so Tobias wasn't even sure how his companion felt about the awkward exchange the two of them and Khelben had had. He opened his mouth to ask the man but after a moment closed it again without saying anything.

"That's right, fool. Let him go. If he wasn't so close to death he might be useful as a minion. Some mindless slave to stand guard at the door during the day before sending him home to his pathetic little family at night; or to his death." The soundless voice chuckled at the thought of finishing off the fighter who walked just a few paces behind them. Khelben used their index finger to trace the pommel of their dagger slowly as he imagined turning and plunging the dagger into Leize's surprised face.

Lancaster walked in silence for a moment before realizing the random daydream and his hand rubbing the dagger were related to his unwelcome parasite. Swiftly he grabbed his wrist with his other hand and forced it off the dagger, wincing a little as he did so out of effort and hoping that Deltarn hadn't noticed. If they continued traveling together he would have to confess his situation but due to the nature of the competition it seemed unlikely they'd be together long enough to warrant the explanation. He could save that for if he hadn't managed to scare off the man and they met up afterwards.

For now if the pole-master wanted to walk in silence Tobias would let him. There didn't seem to be much point in further antagonizing him.
The Sacrifice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glowing Runes
...All who would enter must share their essence to open the way...
Tobias stood still, his gaze locked on the sphere and the words attached to it. His mind was suddenly going a mile a minute. Could this be his opportunity? "Share my essence?"

Was there a chance that this orb would accept Khelben as his sacrifice? The spirit of the Lich had been fused with his own, or so Khelben had explained, so they were technically one. Therefore if he offered the part of his essence that was Khelben might it take the undead mage away from him forever? If it did he wouldn't even have to pursue the Nine anymore. He could concede to Leize. Maybe go back and see whatever remained of his family. Settle down; perhaps even have some kids of his own. He could name one after his brother and with any luck never have to think about his time with this wretched...thing in his soul ever again.

An amused snort echoed in his conscious as Khelben sifted through Tobias' thoughts. "You really think you can be rid of me that easy? We are more than linked; we have been mingled and welded together inseparably forever, silly little Elf. I've told you over and over again the only way to be rid of me is to suppress me or kill yourself and I won't let you do the former for long and you'll never do the latter." The dead mage's wry smile tickled the back of the swordsman's mind.

With carefully rehearsed control Khelben sequentially tightened the muscles along Tobias back giving him the distinct impression someone was rubbing their fingers down his spine. Involuntarily causing him to shudder and prickling goosebumps down his arms. "No, Tobias." His inner voice chided before whispering out loud, "We'll be together forever..."

Tobias put his head in his hand and took a deep breath. He hated Khelben so much. The veritable demon had been tormenting him for a decade and Tobias was exhausted from trying to keep the lich under control and being unable to stop the mental torture exhibited upon him. If the sphere wouldn't take Khelben what else would it accept? His sword?

Lancaster rejected that idea promptly. While it seemed almost appropriate he had bad experiences when not with the sword. When he'd first been bound to Khelben Ishii all those years ago he'd tried to leave the sword behind in the underground lair. Why would he take an obviously cursed lich's sword? However, he had not gone more than a few rooms away before he was struck with nearly debilitating hysteria. There was something about his link with Khelben that required having the sword nearby and every time he'd tried to remove the sword or the sword had been moved away from him the results had not been pleasant.

A closer look at the orb revealed indentations like hands on the surface which seemed to imply that there was something less tangible being asked for anyway. Tobias continued staring for a moment before peeking at his physical companion who so far hadn't moved either. "I guess I'll go first?" he said into the silence.

"If he doesn't offer anything soon you could just kill him. That way everyone here will have offered something. He'll just have offered his life." Ishii's soul sneered, "After all, isn't your life a part of you essence?" The Lich chuckled inwardly at his own jest. "Have you decided then? What are you offering? What of your essence is so valuable that you couldn't live without it yet are willing to give it up?"

Tobias Lancaster walked forward and placed his hand on the cold surface of the stone. "You, Khelben. I'm offering you." Then he closed his eyes.

"You, fool!" Khelben shouted and tried to pull back his hands but it was too late. Crackling energy stuck his hands fast to the orb.

The two minds of the magus cried as one and a tearing sensation made their insides feel like fire.

Then it was over. Tobias slumped to the ground. Was it over? Was he free?

"You...twice damned...donkey testicle." Khelben panted out. before going quiet again.

Tobias sobbed once before pleading softly, "Shut up, Khelben..."
 
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  #11  
Old 08-09-2019, 10:48 AM
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Outplay PF 3.4The black orb crackles, almost excitedly, as Tobias approaches and places his hands into the depressions. It felt as though the orb were as strong as a storm giant the way it held onto Tobiasĺs flesh. Offering up Khelben to the orb, Tobias hears distant laughter, was it the lich or was it the orb? He couldnĺt tell.

Then came the psychic lightning storm. His soul felt as if it was lit aflame as the arcane device ripped his very essence from him, sucking it into the orb. First it was only Tobias who felt the orb, but then came a louder more distant scream, as they orbĺs tendrils reached deeper than man or lich believed it could, and the lich felt the power of the nine once again. The arcing blue light filled the room, and then it was done.

Tobias stood, You lose 5, oh yes 5, points of intelligence permanentlydumbfounded, unable to immediately understand what had happened. Tobias blinks, finally his foggy brain begins to piece together what had happened, even Khleben was unable to understand immediately - something the lich would never openly admit.

The orb now held a blue ribbon swirling inside.

Lieze stood, dumbfounded and afraid - unsure what to do. He watches as a door opens and Tobias stumbles through like a youngman filled with too much wine. The door closes behind him, separating the two for the first time in weeks.
The Chamber of SacrificeEntering the door, you come to a brightly lit chamber with two other doors identical to the one you just entered. They are not yet opened, but you can hear someone trying to open one of the others. In the center of the room is a freestanding stone archway which contains a portal of pure light. Next to it stands the smiling form of Rostamoinen. There is no sparkling transparency. This seems to be the arch-mage himself.
left-aligned image
As you step through the door, you see the smiling form of Rostamoinen.

"It seems I have chosen you well." he explains to the others, a look of pride filling his face.

"You have done well to get this far, my friends. And so it is that there is only one obstacle remaining until you may come and meet with us at the Square of Nine.

Our members must be willing to give the Nine everything. EVERYTHING. They must willing sacrifice everything they are if they wish to sit at the Square of Nine. You have given up much already, but it is not enough. It is never enough, for such responsibility. And so I lay before you my last challenge."
he says as he looks deeply into your eyes.

He produces an ornate knife. He reaches out, as if to hang it on a hook in mid-air. It does indeed hang there, suspended.

"The Razor of Uduk-Khulakh will take all that you give. If you wish to join us, you must be willing to give yourself for the greater good. Now is the time for you to decide: what are you willing to give? How much do you devote to the Nine?"

The wizard steps backwards through the portal of light, leaving you alone in an empty room. It seems obvious that the portal will not admit anyone but him, just yet.

And for just a moment, before he disappears all the way through the portal, you swear you can hear the laughter of the Lord High Commander.
OoCTobias suffers 5 points of permanent intelligence damage.

Just as a side note, I REALLY wanted to give you the curse of Shattered Mind instead of Maladroit, and if this had been a friendly game I would have - 'The victimĺs mind splits into two coexisting personas, one normal, the other malicious and self-destructive.' - I think it would have been so much fun with Khelben.
Action TrackerObstacle 1: 2 Rounds
Obstacle 2: 7 Rounds + 2 Rounds
Obstacle 3: Tobias - 1 Round
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  #12  
Old 08-10-2019, 02:03 AM
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Tobias Lancaster featuring Khelben Ishii
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:39 AM
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Outplay 3.6 Though Tobias cuts at his flesh he finds that no blood ever actually appears. The dagger cuts and cuts, and it drinks voraciously like a dwarven blacksmith after three days at the forge. The sight of his open wounds without blood is strange – like a stuck animal strung up for the butcher.
The blade becomes heavier and heavier the long it stays pressed against Tobias’ flesh and the twin souled magus finds it harder and harder to remain focused on the task at hand, he is getting dizzy and light headed as the blood rushes from his body to the vampiric dagger.

After a few moments the dagger suddenly stops rending his flesh. It has become as sharp as an old tavern spoon. What’s more his flesh is no longer torn, but healed with a thin scar, as if he had barely marred his own flesh. The weakness, however, was very real.

Tobias collapses under the weight of his own body. He was so weak. The Sanguine Sacrifice had left him tired and dizzy, the room was spinning, and he couldn’t even must the strength to crawl. Trying to find a way to finish what he had started, he rolls onto his back, and the dizziness gets worse. He sees the room rotating around him, and hoping to end the vertigo he closes his eyes.

Closing his eyes felt nice.

He leaves them closed, and inhales. Then exhales. The he begins to slip into a deep slumber, and though he wants to open his eyes, the warm blanket of numbness he feels without the warmth of his lifeblood leaves him unable to do so. He rests, there on the floor of the last chamber, sleeping and unrestful sleep as his body tries desperately to heal the damage he has done.

As he finally drifts into the depths of the dreams lands he hears a tiny, yet familiar voice in the far off distance.

You fool…
LiezeLieze stands unsure what to do, he had seen waht the orb had done to poor Tobias, and Lieze did not want the same fate, though how he would leave this place was as uncertain as what would happen if he didn't press forward...
OoCTobias may RP your last post however you wish, you have completed the last obstacle.

Tobias is left with 1/1 HP.

Just as an FYI I will explicitly lay out the nature of this sacrifice. The knife does not do you damage - when you touch it and "use" it, you will not lose any CURRENT hit points. Instead, you will lose MAXIMUM hit points. If your present hit points are 2 out of 65, the question is: how much will you reduce that 65? However as you tried to give everything, the knife took as much as it could.
Action TrackerObstacle 1: 2 Rounds
Obstacle 2: 7 Rounds + 2 Rounds
Obstacle 3: Tobias - 1 Round
Obstacle 4: Tobias - 1 Round
Tobias Total: 13 Rounds
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Last edited by wodine; 08-10-2019 at 04:25 PM.
  #14  
Old 08-11-2019, 05:21 AM
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Khelben Ishii Featuring Tobias Lancaster
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It was dark here. It had always been dark since he had arrived over a decade ago. The formless black had neither wall, ceilings, or floors yet one could traverse the vastness if the inclination arose. There was no sense of anything in this pit, no gravity, no weightlessness, no time, no ... anything. To exist in this place with nothing could have driven even the sanest man a tad off his rocker and Khelben had not been totally together at the best of times.

Fortunately for the essence of a man who should have passed beyond the Great Veil a long, long time ago he was rarely confined to complete solitude. Though his companionship was...indirect he shared this space with another soul. Normally he could utilize all his host's senses and experiences by concentrating enough. The trick had taken him a year or two to master and had quite surprised the young Elf when he learned about his visitor.

Ah, that had been a fun time, Khelben recalled with a smirk. The Elf had not know why he had suddenly developed some aptitude for the arcane arts but when Khelben explained that his new skills were a result of their new link and that the Lich was not in fact a "visitor" but was more of a permanent tenant Tobias had had a small breakdown.

Ah, those simple days when the impressionable warrior would just have a little panic attack and get back on with his day. Now Khelben apparently had to deal with a suicidal maniac. Khelben sighed into the blackness. There was a good chance that the fool would just finish the job that cursed dagger hadn't been able to after he woke up and that was troubling. While Khelben wasn't sure what else the Nine had in store for them he was very sure that his greatest challenge was here and now.

There was a little twinge on his consciousness and the mage knew he was no longer alone here. After puzzling for a second Khelben focused on his environment and suddenly where nothing had been there was a small square space bordered with bookshelves that were stuffed with arcane books and in the center of the room was a nondescript, round table made of wood. Next to the table stood a young, human man. He had piercing brown eyes and his garb was blue bordered with very light golden color that almost matched his not-too closely cut blond hair.

He took a deep breath then focused again and on the floor opposite appeared another young man, this one Elven, who looked much worse for wear. His clothes were torn, bloody, and dirty. The Elf's hair was too long, but then again Tobias had been a little self conscious the last week or so about its length so the fact that was how his mental image appeared was not too surprising to the Human in blue.

"Pleasure to see you, Tobias." said a cool and calm voice to the seemingly dead man on the floor. "Welcome to my home."

The man in the sullied outfit sat up slowly and rather stiffly. He looked about himself for a moment before using the table to drag himself up from the ground. Once erect he directed his attention to the other man, "Who are you? And why are you in my space?" he asked somewhat accusatorially.

The man in blue gave a small smile and retorted, "Your space?" He made a tsk'ing sound before continuing, "I'm sorry Tobias but this is my space. It has been ever since you locked me here; unintentionally of course."

Tobias Lancaster gave the other a peculiar look.

"Don't you recognize who I am? It's me of course. The great mage Khelben Ishii." Khelben held up his arms dramatically and took a few steps towards Tobias who was still clutching the table as if he would fall over at any moment. "Maybe you'd recognize me if I did this." .As he said that the young human's face suddenly became grey. His nose fell off and the lips curled back revealing black teeth. "How about this? Is this more familiar?"

Tobias pushed off the table and staggered back, eyes wide. This was the Lich that had killed his brother. He had seen this face in his nightmares frequently since that day. The warrior reached for his sword but found his scabbard empty. He looked confused for a moment then suddenly started looking around on the "floor".

"Good. so you do remember. Now then, if you don't mind I'd rather use the other face. It was so much better." Quick as a flash his face once more became hale again. He pursed his lips at Tobias still trying to find his sword while staggering around. "You can really stop all this foolishness, Tobias. Everything here is as you picture it. Your clothes, your weakness, our sword even."

Tobias seemed to stop at the young man's words briefly as if considering them. After a moment he stood up to full height and looked at his own hands quizzically. His general appearance became less haggard and worn as well. He turned to look at Khelben quizzically, "Where are we?"

"There we go, now that is a good question. Tea? Why not pull up a chair?" Khelben pulled out one of the newly arrived chairs that were at the table and grabbed a steaming cup of tea from the top of the table. "Come on. It won't bite. Though if I may be frank taste is something that I've haven't quite managed to get right in here. Maybe if you remember a few glasses of something we could see how well your imagination does with flavor."

Tobias hesitantly grabbed a chair and sat down though he regarded the cup with distrust and didn't bother to add anything to the conversation.

Khelben shrugged, "maybe later then. This place is your mind, Tobias." Khelben gestured to the expanse of nothing that spread around them. "This is where I've spent my time since we've been joined together. Anything I can imagine will be here though it will only be as good as I can imagine.

You might say that if I am going to spend eternity in a void that at least I have good reading, right?"
he said indicating the many books in the "room", "but you'd be wrong. These books only say what I remember. If I can't remember than they are either empty of filled with whatever nonsense I imagine that they might have said. It gets to very confusing to tell which if remembered fact and what is imagined foolery." Khelben shook his head sadly, he missed reading books.

"But I'm sure you'd rather not sit here hearing about the drawbacks of existing merely as a passenger in someone else's mind so let's get to it shall we?" He took another sip of tea before smacking his lips in distaste. After sighing in defeat he tossed the cup over his should but there was no crash of porcelain; instead the cup seemed to simply disappear.

"Get to what, Khelben?" Tobias asked asked impatiently. "What is going on here?" There was a fire in his voice that seemed to sound off as a warning and the cold, unswerving glare he gave Khelben seemed to pronounce a challenge; or perhaps a warning of diminishing patience.

The man in blue chuckled and matched the look evenly. "Oh, but this is delicious, Tobias. Frankly I didn't think you had this fire in you. I told you just a short while ago that suicide was one of the only ways to get rid of me and that I knew you didn't have it in you but then you just had to prove me wrong didn't you?" Ishii leaned forward in his chair which was now solid and tall backed with a white owl perched on the top of it. "I don't know where we would be if you had had this when we met. Maybe it was just because your brother died in front of you and you blamed yourself..."

"Don't talk about my brother!" Tobias stood aggressively but the lich ignored him and kept talking. A skill he had frequently made use of before.

"but you really wrestled with your own insecurities and that," he clicked his tongue and pointed knowingly at Tobias, "that really held us back. Just imagine what we could accomplish together now though."

"Why would I ever do anything with you, Khelben?" Tobias' words nearly spit out of his mouth so inflamed was he. "You murdered my brother and the others! Even after all this time you still have done nothing but goad and provoke me to kill people who don't deserve to die. Yet somehow you think that we should work together? To what end, Khelben?"

The white owl fluttered calmly to the table during Tobias' rant and Khelben stared at it wistfully. "This is Geal." he said pointing to the Owl. "An age ago she was my first familiar and to this day is the one living thing I ever truly cared about." Khelben sighed and the owl faded from view. He stared at the empty spot for a moment before returning his attention to his companion.

"Do you know why I look like this? I was nearly sixty when I became a Lich but I choose to look like when I was around thirty. It's because of her; Geal. This is how I looked the day I lost her forever. Please, bear with me for a moment. All we have here is time and it's probably about time I shared with you anyway."

Tobias still hadn't taken his eyes off of Khelben's and though he still hated the lich who currently looked like a normal human he was intrigued. Khelben had never been forthcoming with his history before. Even though a part of him insisted that it was nothing but a trick another part couldn't resist the draw to hear a honest word out of his soul bound companion. Slowly the Elf sat back down though his chair was now a backless stool. He hadn't specifically orchestrated the change in furniture but he knew that it was easier to respond quickly to a threat and his subconscious had picked on the wariness he felt. Tobias slid his hand over on the table and suddenly felt the distinct shape of his sword in his hand again on the rough table surface.

"Oooh, yah. I get it, Tobias. You're a tough guy and I should be worried. Perhaps you've forgotten though.." Khelben patted his side and there on his belt was an identical sword, "...that sword was mine first." He smirked. "But enough posturing let me spin you a little tale."

Khelben's story was neither long nor short and while most of it was spent with the pair staring at each other as if the first to look away was the loser there were flashes of Khelben's story that had had significant impact on him. These moments he could recall with explicit detail and when he did the whole landscape of the dark abyss they were in would change. Sometimes for a brief flicker; a flash of a picture or a noticeable sound. Sometimes a whole scene would play out as if Tobias was there watching it for himself.

Khelben admitted he had always been a confident man which sometimes drove him to being somewhat arrogant. He had traveled and completed many adventures some had been dull, some had better than any Tobias had gone on so far. Geal the Owl had been the young mage's only constant companion. One day during a fight with a particularly dangerous wizard something had happened that quickly shifted his destiny from being a prized adventurer to being sealed alive in his own tomb.

As the mage in the group young Khelben had given his party specific instructions about what they were to do when the battle against a mad wizard started but when the time came their resident barbarian had gone rogue; so to speak. The collapse in the plan had required some amount of impromptu reworking and while they were ultimately successful Geal had paid the price for the melee fighter's impulsiveness and been disintegrated. That was the first time he killed someone who wasn't "evil". The axe-wielding idiot had paid the price for Geal's death with his own life. In trying to defend the barbarian the other party members also fell to Khelben's rage. After that the mage had little use for those beneath him. He avoided working with others even more than he had before and now had an active disdain toward those who were beneath him; and as one of the ranking mercenary adventurers in his region there were not many who were not.

After working long and hard Khelben managed to raise enough funds to get a cleric to bring back his familiar but when he explained his request at the temple he was laughed at. "Just get another bird." they told him. Another bird? Geal wasn't just any old fowl. Further enraged by incompetence Khelben had murdered many of the priests before finally fleeing town from the guards.

As wizards are wont to do he found himself in an arcane library one day when a book caught his eye. It was dark forbidden magic but it promised a chance to bring back his precious familiar from beyond and as such was irresistible for him. The next 20 years he spent traveling and collecting other works that were equally ominous in origin and intent before he found a quiet nook in an old dungeon to begin his illicit experiments.

He should not have been surprised. After all, his job for the last 30 years had been to travel around and get rid of groups or individuals who were doing exactly the same things that he was doing but none-the-less when another mage arrived and managed to seal him away inside his own lair Khelben had become enraged. He couldn't understand why. He wasn't hurting anyone down here, he only sought to bring back Geal from where she had gone too early.

Being sealed away left Khelben with few options. His supplies were limited since he no longer had access to the stores in the town nearby and he none of his attempts at resurrecting Geal had been successful. Even if he did manage to get it he would still have to find a way out of the barrier and he only had supplies to last for a few months; at most. After that he and Geal would just starve to death.

What he did have was anger and commitment. He shifted tack and instead sought to extend his life as long as possible to ensure he would survive until he could bring back Geal. A month and a half later Khelben was a Lich. On that day he ate his last meal, stale salt-pork and a too-soft apple; which was also the last food he had. The majority of his arcane supplies were exhausted in the conversion from life to undeath and so though he had all the time in the world now to prepare Khelben had to spend his time alone because he couldn't complete any of the experiments he planned.

"When the seal was finally broken and your brother came I figured Rostamoinen was simply coming to finish the job he had started so long ago." The tea was back on the table. It may not have been satisfying but the habit was one of the things he missed about living. Especially since Tobias never drank it. "Besides," he added nonchalantly, "You attacked me first. Even if you don't count the fact that I'd been locked alone in the dark for ages isn't the fact that the first things I see tried to kill me on sight count for something?"

Tobias listened for the last...how long had it been? It was hard to tell here but however long it had been the time was well spent. Though his experience with the Lich had forever tainted how he would relate to this man before him there was something about hearing his life stories that put Khelben's attitude into perspective. Though it pained him to admit it there was truth in Khelben's last statement. The lich hadn't attacked until the group had threatened him. Which would take the responsibility of the death of his friends out of the Lich's hands. That was not going to be an easy thing to let go of. The hatred he had spent the last ten years building against Khelben had been largely based on his brother's wrongful death. If Khelben wasn't to blame how would that affect the compounded rage? Could he let it go? "Khelben, while I must say your story is...enlightening, it really doesn't change how horrible you've been."

Khelben nodded and broke eye contact for the first time since they had started speaking. "It's true. While we have made an effective team despite my arrogance and your hatred it was obviously a system that was doomed from the start. You are a good man, Tobias. While I can't say that my motives were ever as clean as yours when I was a young adventurer I can still vaguely recall being "the good guy" at one time."

Khelben looked at Tobias again with a snide smile, "I am never going to promise you that I'll be a good guy again, Tobias. I can promise you that I am interested in living. I'll never get Geal back. It's been too long and she wouldn't know the new me anyway." Khelben's voice was wistful as if saying goodbye for the last time. "But our life; yes our life need not end yet, Hero."

"I may never forgive Rostamoinen for imprisoning me before I called her back but let's be blunt; I kind of deserved it with how I acted after Geal died. Therefore I can promise that while he will never be my friend I will at least try to not kill him on sight again." Khelben waved a hand somewhat noncommittally, "I'll try."

A few moments ago Tobias had been seriously considering throwing himself on his sword as soon as he woke up. So it was with surprise that he was now considering not doing so. If he had know that attempting suicide was all it would take to get Khelben to be reasonable then he would have tried it ages ago. Though remembering the years of frustration that led up to that moment with the Razor really made it hard for Tobias to accept this new side of the Lich. "How do I know you'll keep your word, Khelben? How do I know things will be different?"

The man in blue leaned back in his chair with a grin, "You can't, Mr. Lancaster. What I can guarantee you are two things:" he held up one finger, "First. I really don't want to die. Not like this for sure. As a young man I figured I'd either go out fighting some "evil Overlord" or of old age. Dying by suicide was not an option. Especially suicide at someone else's hands." a second finger came up, "Second. I am still me. I will try to remember what being a more 'civilized' person was like but I will still have little patience for incompetence and will struggle to see the worth of those under me," he caught himself, "Under us. We have become a formidable force in our time together and I'm sure we can do better now that we are seeing more eye-to-eye. By the Veil!" he swore, "If I ever give you reason to regret this you can always kill yourself again so it's not as if you even have anything to lose but if it works then we both get to live."

Khelben held out an arm toward Tobias, "what do you say? Can we have an accord?"

Tobias stared at the hand in front of him for what felt like forever before declaring, "Fine." He stood without clasping arms, "don't make me regret this, Khelben."

"Of course not," the mage cooed and stood as well. "Now that we have an understanding maybe you should wake up and get a move on. You really will die if you stay here much longer." Then he reached out and pushed Tobias lightly on the chest causing him to rise slowly into the blackness like he was drifting in a still lake. "Don't be a stranger, Tobias. It was nice to see someone face-to-face finally."

Tobias LancasterHis eyes fluttered open and he stared at the stone ceiling of the room he had almost died in. The stone felt cool on his back and he realized that the whole time he had been in his own mind he hadn't had sensations like this.

"Kind of depressing isn't it?" a familiar voice said, "It's hard not feeling anymore except by extension."

Tobias was still in shock that he had spent that much time with the lich and even more so that they may have worked out a way to work together. He wondered again how much of their relationship had been distorted by their mutually misconstrued hatred over Tobias' brother's death that, if Khelben was to be believed, may have been a misreading of intents.

"I know almost killing yourself is hard work but maybe you should get up off the floor if you want to keep being a hero, you walking carcass." The ex-lich chuckled at his own jest.

Then again, maybe Khelben really was just a charismatic, insidious jack-ass. He shut his eyes again and waited for something to let him know he was allowed to leave the room. "Shut up, Khelben"

Khelben Ishii said nothing more for now but Tobias could feel the teeth-bearing smile inside his mind and the low chuckle that went with it and couldn't help but wonder if he would regret his decision to work together.
 
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:07 PM
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Ending the ThirdThe perverse bloodletting completed, the portal begins to glow brighter and brighter. Finally, it flashes with a blinding intensity. When the light diminishes, the room is empty; Tobias' unconscious body has been transported out of the room along with the portal, while Leize still stands alone in the dark, his eyes locked on the essence absorbing black orb.
OoCAfter consultation among all the judges, our awards for 'mechanical' success in Round 3 are as follows:

CharacterObstacle 1Obstacle 2Obstacle 3Obstacle 4Total
QikSilv50407070230
Anitpode5060--110
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