Everift - Chapter 20:
I found it in the ghost dimension
This weekend in D&D, we returned to the world of Everift. Last time we saw our heores, they had just escaped a horde of militant Kobolds and the Undead accompanying them via a portal through time and space. (Read Chapter 19)
The party find themselves in a ruined hallway somewhere within the prison of Iron Bar Island, the location that triggered the sequence of events of this entire adventure. And by the sounds of groaning off in the distance, it seems the zombie outbreak that allowed their escape from the island has just happened. The party start to investigate the area, finding that although this looks like the right place, it may not be a the real deal. Arabella's Eldritch Sight reveals that every brick, every iron bar, every particles of air in the vicinity, is magical. It seems they have arrived in a plane unlike they one they're familiar with. A magical shadow of their memories.
Specific investigation of the space leads the party to find a blue gooey substance coating some surfaces, and on some walls, even painted into the shape of the Death Tyrant, a sigil synonymous with the forces of darkness to the party. They soon find themselves in a room resembling a study, and a desk topped with some sort of mechanical device. Nevaeh finds a small magical jewel, fits it into the device, and it glows. Arabella touches the jewel and falls unconscious.
From her allies' perspective, Arabella appears to have died. To her, she has entered a ghostly imitation of the room, and sees her own body across from her. In a panic, Arabella dives into her body and gasps alive again. Once she describes the experience to her friends, Nevaeh quickly grasps the jewel and is thrust from her own body. Meredith follows suit.
Nevaeh and Meredith explore the ghost world version of the space to find certain things appear different. Arabella, and Lehran soon follow. The way forward from here is barred by the inscription: "Venture to the other side, and return victorious". After staying for most of a minute in this dimension, a painfully throbbing makes Nevaeh decide to return to her body. Meredith, sensing this throbbing too, also returned.
Lehran and Arabella interpreted the clue "return victorious" as an endurance test, choosing to try to endure the throbbing. Until they feel their very souls begin to tear. The pair return to their bodies and they've become physically injured by this ordeal. Meredith has spotted some zombies approaching. Roll initiative.
A short combat sequence later, Meredith and Nevaeh have made a big mess, via magical sword and explosive magic respectively. Their actions have attracted the attention of a creature in the ghostly dimension, who they cannot perceive initially, but after another play with the ghostifying gem, Nevaeh sees the spirit of a Dragonborn Sorceror stuck in a cell. With Meredith's help, they open this cell in the real world, allowing the Dragonborn to move about, but the party still don't see him in the real world. In the ghost dimension they also find a magic artefact, and this removes the aforementioned magic barrier.
The party, ghost dragonborn included, explore more of the ruined prison. A disembodied, perhaps Dwarvish voice tells them about his research in this place between worlds, and that if they find his lab, there's some helpful stuff there. Around the rooms, they also find blueprints of various magic items, but not all the materials needed to make them.
This voice clearly sees the dragonborn, and tells him that his chances of returning to the main realm via his body (like Nevaeh and the others have been doing), would be difficult given that the dragonborn has been dead for months. However, elsewhere in the prison, there are "flesh puppets", empty bodies with no souls, that the dragonborn ghost could use.
The ghost dragonborn and the party coordinate in and out of the ghost dimension to solve a couple puzzles, and eventually find themselves at a sort of mad scientist lab. In the lab they find books about the ghost dimension, some corpses, and importantly, one of those fangled flesh puppets. The dragonborn ghost possesses one of them and its shape crackles and morphs into the shape of his previous body, large black cape included. He finally introduces himself as Arturim, dark servant to Lord Caeldrom Persis (Lehran's awful father).
While this happens Nevaeh decides to animate some of these other corpses, bringing a pair of zombies along for the ride. The party discover another blue ghostifying gem and in the ghost version of the room, there's a ghost married couple arguing over lack of business. Nevaeh inquires and finds that they could help complete some of the blueprints they've found, so long as we find the pieces.
And that is where this very long session ended.
OC Kiss Week - Payment
The fun part about OC kiss week is that it gives me both permission to work with OCs that I haven’t before, and a deadline to keep me in check. I’m still working through an Art Growth phase so I don’t have much for y’all this week, but I do have about 2k words about my good friend’s half-orc barbarian Beau meeting my favorite cast of bastards.
Thanks again to my wife @colonelcupquake and to @urdnotgrunt for letting me steal their bard kids again. <3
~2300 words, set in a conveniently overlapping universe.
When Beau had limped his way into the local inn, clutching one arm and looking for directions to a healer, he had expected to be pointed back towards the center of town.
Instead, the grim-faced dragonborn running the bar had huffed a whorl of smoke at him and then nodded towards one of the tables huddled against the southernmost wall, where three figures sat in low, heated conversation. They were clustered together around a map spread out in front of them, held down at one corner by the elbow of a sunburnt half-elf with a sour twist to his mouth. He had his chin propped on one hand, a drink dangling loosely from the fingers of the other, and he was shaking his head so sharply that his thick nest of dark curls bounced.
“I’m not traveling with a caravan,” he was saying as Beau limped into earshot. The genasi beside him didn’t look up from where they were plucking at the lute in their lap, but they said, with the tiniest shrug of one shoulder, “Then you will stay here.”
“Silk’s right,” said the gnome between them. She was leaned forward across the table with both hands planted in the center of the map, chewing fussily on a long strand of curly red hair that had escaped from one of the buns pinned on top of her head. “If we’re going to get out of this city without losing our coin and our asses in the process, we really, really need to find someone to travel with. Preferably someone that isn’t going to make us look like bait to the literal hoards of bandits stalking the place, which, I remind you, is a huge fucking problem by itself, so if you could just be a little cool about it, that would be — gods, what happened to you?”
Beau froze as the gnome’s eyes suddenly found him through the shadows of the tavern, dithering on whether or not to interrupt. Beside her, the half-elf glanced up and scowled.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
“You see? This is exactly what I'm talking about!" The gnome vaulted off of her chair with a grunt of effort and strode towards Beau, still halfway turned towards the half-elf behind her. "Every few hours, someone comes stumbling in here with some terrible injury or another, just from stepping outside. This town’s guard absolutely sucks!”
“Or maybe it’s just that you need to stop making such a name for yourself,” said the half-elf dryly, leaning back in his chair. “If you hadn’t gone around healing every idiot who got into a bar brawl, they wouldn’t think that you were doing it for some sort of charity.”
“Hey, they paid! They just sometimes didn’t know that they paid. Don’t worry,” she added to Beau as she took his uninjured arm and half-guided, half-dragged him back towards the table, “I’m not going to steal from you. Probably. Not unless you were in a bar brawl, anyway. Which, if you were, you should probably just tell me now, because I’m just gonna find out later, and if that happens, it’ll be bad for both of us —”
“No!” Beau said, a little frantically, finally fishing his tongue out from the throbbing haze of pain still radiating up his tugged-on shoulder. “I was just coming into town! There was a group of bandits running a toll scheme at the crossroads. I tried to get by, but they had another group hiding in the bushes with clubs, and it was just me, and I —”
“— got kicked around a bit in the fight,” the gnome finished, easing him gently into a chair. “Easy there, big guy. You’re not the first person to tell us that story. We believe you.”
The half-elf huffed into his drink. “Some of us believe you.”
“All of us who have eyes believe you,” the gnome said primly, offering a rude gesture over the table to the half-elf who returned it with astonishing familiarity. “Now. I can handle those bruises no problem, but I think that arm of yours might be broken. Can you move it at all?”
Beau tried gingerly to lift his arm away from where it was clutched to his chest and hissed when it sparked a sudden starburst of pain all the way from wrist to shoulder. The gnome grimaced.
“Well, it would be, wouldn’t it? Hang on.” She circled back towards her own chair, where the genasi was already lifting her pack up from the floor and holding it out towards her. She didn’t even bother taking it, just thrust a hand inside and rummaged around with both eyes narrowed in deep concentration. Eventually, she hummed a little noise of triumph and removed a very small, finger-length satchel of smooth brown leather. The half-elf on the other side of the table sucked a breath through his teeth.
“You can’t be serious.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time someone has accused me of that,” the gnome said, shrugging as she moved back towards Beau. The half-elf opened his mouth to say something else, but the genasi beside him suddenly shifted in a way that suggested the warning tap of a boot against a shin. The half-elf scowled, but he dutifully swallowed whatever comment he was about to make and sank back into his seat, sulking.
“I don’t want to be any trouble,” Beau said as the gnome appeared back at his side. He wasn’t sure what sort of trouble he was being, exactly, but the glare he was being leveled across the table told him well enough how unwelcome it was.
“It isn’t trouble,” said the gnome, carefully picking the tie on her little satchel apart with her teeth. “It’s just expensive, and Cas over there is a miser when he’s in a bad mood. Which is most of the time. Even though this isn’t his money and I’ve got two more of these in my bag.”
The half-elf — Cas — rolled his eyes.
“Still,” she went on, “he does have a point. I can’t exactly go around giving this sort of thing out for free, you know.”
She finally wrestled the bag���s tie apart and tipped its contents unceremoniously into her hand, holding it up for Beau to see. Something coarse and glittering had spilled out into her palm, catching the faint lantern-light of the tavern around them in a thousand glinting facets. Something that, if he didn’t know better, looked very, very much like….
“Diamonds,” the genasi at Beau’s shoulder provided helpfully, grinning.
“Or what used to be diamonds, anyway,” said the gnome as he wrenched around towards them, slack-jawed. “Like I said, it’s an expensive fix. It’ll cost you.”
“I don’t have any money,” Beau said, a little frantically. His arm was starting to hurt quite badly, now. “Not enough for that, I mean. They took most of my gold at the gate and even if they hadn’t, I only have — ”
“Gods, I’m not here to take your gold!” said the gnome, scrunching her nose in disgust. “I’m an acolyte of the Laughing Rogue, for gods’ sake, not some petty bandit! I just need something I can work with. Pranks! Jokes! Names of shitty people who deserve to get their very public just desserts! Anything I can put down as a favor to the Trickster himself so that he’ll give me a little help with you, understand?”
Beau sank back into his seat as the gnome winked, trying to sort his thoughts out from the throbbing swath of pain that was his arm. Nothing about the last five minutes made any sense. Hells, nothing about the last day made any sense either, but at least being surrounded and robbed on a trade road was still within some realm of possibility. The idea that he was supposed to be paying for a handful of crushed diamond with a joke felt like something that ought to happen to a storybook hero traipsing through the Feywild, or in a particularly strange dream.
Some bit of his miserable confusion must have shown on his face, because he heard the genasi clear their throat, lean around him and say, soto vocce, “Oh, give him a break, Fizz. He’s clearly had a long day.”
“I am giving him a break!” the gnome hissed, equally audible around Beau’s shoulder. “I’ve only done this twice before, and the last two times, I asked for payment just like this! I don’t wanna risk fucking it all up just because I broke the rule of threes!”
“I’m sure Olidammara would appreciate you breaking the rule of threes —”
“Not if it’s by ignoring it!”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, please do something,” the half-elf across the table cut in, rolling his eyes in Beau’s direction. “Anything, at this point. The sooner you indulge her, the sooner you can finally go away.”
“Cas,” said the genasi disapprovingly, but something about the dry irritation in his voice woke the last little drop of anger still left in Beau’s chest. He sat up, setting the pain in his arm aside with the sort of dismissal that always came with a rage, and turned back towards the gnome with his jaw set.
“Two elves walk into a bar,” he said tightly. “The third one ducks.”
The brewing argument behind him suddenly stuttered into silence.
Slowly, the gnome at his side turned back to face him, eyebrows raised like she was still waiting for a punchline. He could hear the faintest creak of a chair shifting behind him, the soft click of a mug hitting the table. He thought, for a long and terrible moment, that they didn’t get it.
Then the gnome snorted.
“The third one ducks,” she said, grinning with such obvious satisfaction that the last of Beau’s bravado fled like a startled rabbit. Across the table, Cas groaned.
“That can’t be worth a diamond,” he said, leaning forward to leer down at the gnome as she shook the last scattering of diamond dust into her hand.
“Why not? It’s a classic! Probably got handed down from family, right?” She glanced up to Beau as she circled around him, putting her back to Cas to offer a conspiratorial wink. Beau recalled, very faintly, how to smile.
“My dad taught me that one,” he admitted, and was rewarded with another dazzling grin from the gnome.
“See? What’d I tell you — a classic! Now, hold this.”
She gingerly twisted Beau’s arm until his palm was upright, and then sprinkled a small pile of the glittering dust into the center. With one hand, she carefully closed his fingers around it; with the other, she left a long trail up the inside of his arm, all the way to the elbow. Beau thought it should have scattered off of the edge of his forearm and to the floor, but it followed the path of her hand like an obedient pet, keeping to its unsteady line as if she had spread it across the flat face of a table. When she had left the last of it in a little pile at his elbow, she wiped her hand across the thigh of her pants and leaned down towards the closed curl of his fingers, muttering to herself. Beau just barely managed to make out her whisper of, “C’mon, it was a little funny,” before she chuckled to herself, and then pressed a gentle kiss to the folded knuckles of his fingers.
He didn’t even have time to pretend to be embarrassed. Warmth suddenly coiled in the center of his palm, uncurling like fire from the pile of dust he could still feel burning beneath his fingers. Except, it wasn’t fire at all. It was sun, the dewey heat of a nap in summertime, of an afternoon spent cradled in the grass of his family’s farm. It flashed up his arm in a sudden mad dash of nostalgia that made his heart stop, following the trail of diamonds that the gnome had left behind and brightening, burning. And then, before he could brace for it to hurt, it was gone.
“There!” The gnome stepped back with a pleased hum, brushing the last little shards of dust from her hands. And they were dust, now — Beau could see them evaporating from between her fingers, turning into bright smoke that dissipated almost at once. When he opened his own hand, it opened without pain, and it was empty.
“I….wow,” was as much as he could manage. The gnome’s grin widened.
“Wow, indeed! That’s Olidammara for you. Doesn’t like to do things without a little show.” She winked, and Beau was immediately struck with the thought that maybe she didn’t like to do things without a show either. “Your arm should be good as new, now. I know you’re still a little banged up, but you seem like you’ve probably handled bruises and scrapes yourself before, and I’m a little tapped, so —”
“No!” said Beau at once, gesturing her off. It was startling, how easily his formerly-broken arm moved now. “I’m fine, I mean. This is….this is plenty. I don’t know how I can thank you, miss….?”
“Fizz,” said the gnome, offering a faintly-glittering hand with a smile. “Fizz Ippkin. Grand mistress of chaos and mischief, left hand of the Laughing Rogue, and begrudged fan of the two best bards to ever grace this shitty corner of the realm.”
Grinning, she nodded back towards the genasi, who gave a deep sitting bow, and to Cas, who rolled his eyes again. Beau managed a smile and obediently took her offered hand.
“Beauregard Himm. Beau, for short. Really, I can’t thank you enough for —”
“Beauregard Himm, you said?” Fizz cut in suddenly, with a raise of one eyebrow. A grin slightly less conspiratorial and slightly more wicked dawned at the corner of her mouth. “Are you telling me that your name is Himm, Beau?”
Across the table, Cas snorted.
“That,” he said, with a raise of his cup, “is the joke you should’ve led with.”
I has been my pleasure to commission the exceptionally talented @looceyloo a few times over the past year, and I am absolutely delighted each time with the results! Something that has always been important to me in my character designs is giving them distinct and varied appearances, and the way Lucy was able to bring that to life is just incredible! I arranged them in the order in which I commissioned them, with Thesseus being the first, and Immyraeth being the most recent. What can I say, I like elves~
A little bit about each character below the cut
Lord Thesseus Stormkirk
Pronouns: He/Him Age: 23
Thesseus was born the eldest son to his parents, the latest in a long line of the illustrious Stormkirk family, dwarven stewards of the town of Mooncress. Against the common trend of nobility to be very insular, the Stormkirks have a broad range of people among their members, Thesseus' own parents being a high elf former adventurer and a half-elven nobleman with dwarven heritage. Chosen to be the next heir to the family's seat on the Council of Lords, Thesseus had been travelling to visit different towns and cities in order to gain a broader, more holistic view of proper governance when he was swept up in adventure with a very colourful crew of characters. He helped them find a sword, fell in love, and is currently helping them with preparations to fight a dragon who has been threatening the realm.
Pronouns: He/Him Age: 21
Level: 8 (Whispers Bard 6/Rogue 2)
Amvyll was born to the matron of a noble house in Menzoberranzan waning in its power and clawing desperately to hold onto whatever she could. His upbringing was harsh, both physically and psychologically, but eventually he was able to break free and stumbled to the surface. That was not a happily ever after, however, and he found those on the surface cold and suspicious of his motives. Over time, he made friends, becoming one of a handful of chosen champions of the dragon goddess, Ethera, the matron of time and fate, whose power had dwindled almost to nothing when Amvyll and his friends stumbled into one of her holy places. He wields the tail of her previous great champion, Bollothar, Commander of the Steel Dragon Legion, and draws on his sordid past to accomplish his tasks as quickly and discretely as possible. In his free time, Amvyll loves singing, playing music, and spending time with his girlfriend, the camp medic. Always sticking up for the little guy, he hopes to one day be a hero worthy of legend~
Pronouns: They/Them Age: 108
Born in the Eldeen Reaches prior to the dawn of the Great War of Eberron, Immyraeth has an insatiable curiosity for the strange and unusual. One part adventurer, one part researcher, and always ready with a cheeky quip, they've been investigating across Khorvaire to learn what has been causing the strange zombie-like disease and the black ichor that spreads it. The team's search has lead them once more to the Mournlands, a hot spot for the type of strange activities and mutations that Immyraeth finds especially exciting. Their canine companion, Epidote, was acquired in a trade during their first trip to the Mournlands. They gave a rock for the unusual skull which, in time, would awaken to be a fun and slimy pal~