The Adventures of Annalax: Volume VI
Another fortnight, another Annalax update.
At the end of last session, we were all standing before a large slime creature. A large slime creature capable of speaking only in Old Imperial (think in-world Latin), and other such exotic tongues. Luckily, we had the Aasimar Warlock on hand as a translator, because it turned out that the creature had two nuggets of interesting information:
(1) Our Warforged Fighter was originally created by the slime creature(s) for use as a scout.
(2) The slime creature was most interested in eating things. And we looked tasty, apparently.
On the first point, Annalax struggled a bit with the difference between a Scout and a Spy, but he has a healthy enough fear of giant monstrosities that he implicitly guessed the second point early on. So he hid throughout the Aasimar-Slime conversation, watching from a distance. The slime rolled a 1 on its Perception, as opposed to Annalax’s +9 to Stealth, so, of course, it didn’t see him.
The question of satiating the slime came up. We naturally wanted to avoid it eating us, but what could it eat instead?
Enter the (thoroughly ancient) wildberry cake. Annalax had been carting this around for a very long time, and it wasn’t just moldy… but also infused with laxative. Annalax Mage Handed it across to the slime, which consumed it whole. Any negative effects from this were further intensified when the Tiefling discovered that feeding the slime alcohol profoundly upset it…
A few force-fed bottles later, the slime was willing to let us go. One of the weirder solutions to a quandary – avoid a fight via laxative and liquor.
After that, it was back to our quest for the crown. Annalax learned from the NPC Arcanologist that Drow do exist in the Dreamworld… but they aren’t feared, and are considered normal. Rather different from the Waking World, of course, though the Underdark (aka The Catacombs) appears to be even scarier here. Speaking of scariness, the Tiefling and the Aasimar felt the need to yell at the Arcanologist for some reason. They seemed genuinely surprised that the Dreamworld Moon turned out to be a nasty place, and held the Poor Old Man somehow responsible. This would be the Poor Old Man who was here with us, sharing the dangers, and with a Strength score no greater than the Dreamland Cat’s.
The dangers were very real, however. We spent the night in some spooky Moon ruins, figuring that it was the best way of hiding from an Undead Flying Monstrosity. For some reason, the rest of the party wasn’t as keen as Annalax on fleeing underground. Bloody overworlders.
The ruins were haunted too. The ghost of a female Brain Eating Monstrosity kept peering in on us (not technically a Mindflayer, albeit resembling one in appearance and in its propensity to eat brains). The ghost merely haunted, and never attacked, and according to the Aasimar, actually invited us to its wedding if we ever came back. Neither Annalax nor anyone else was particularly interested in coming back. Annalax likes having his brain uneaten.
Then it was on to the main target – a vast tower with the crown in a room at the top. A 900-foot tower that was (fortunately) mostly empty, but (sadly) only mostly. You see, the crown itself was guarded by a high-level Moonbeast Warlock. We only later realised how high-level.
Then came the moment of truth. Annalax had Mage Hand, +7 to Sleight of Hand, and +9 to Stealth, so, of course, he was the important one here. The plan was to grab the crown with Mage Hand, and replace it with Minor Illusion while the Moonbeast wasn’t watching.
The Stealthy bit? No problem. Annalax snuck into the room unnoticed. But the dice had other ideas for the rest of the plan…
Annalax rolled a 10 for Sleight of Hand (so 17 overall). The Moonbeast’s perception? 18. So near, yet so far.
Annalax stuffed the crown into his Bag of Holding, and high-tailed it out of there as the Moonbeast threw a vicious Moonbeam at where it thought the thief was (it was wrong, thank goodness. Mage Hand is a wonderful thing). I am not joking about the high-tailing either. Annalax is a Rogue, so he can move 90 feet a turn when he needs to. And he really needed to. The Warforged got hit with three beams of Eldritch Blast, which implies the Moonbeast Warlock was somewhere between level 11 and 16. Recall that we’re all level 4. Ouch. Oh, and the thing felt the need to use a fifth level spell slot to eliminate the Aasimar’s Smoke Cloud. Double Ouch.
[Note: I and the others subsequently realised that the Warlock only had four fifth level spells, plus cantrips and innates. It’s the way Warlocks roll.]
The end of the session saw the Dreamland Cat using its feline landing ability to jump the 900 feet to the surface, and everyone else straight-out running down the stairs. Annalax’s 90 feet a turn movement is indeed handy for fleeing, but he anticipated a quandary if the rest of the party (apart from the Cat) couldn’t escape this thing. He was the one with the prize, and recall his favourite saying:
“As we say in the Underdark, if you can’t kill it, run like a little boy.”
I knew what Annalax would do here, and thought this wasn’t good news for the other PCs if they couldn’t run fast enough.
The next session was eventful for the party, but not for Annalax. He just spent turn after turn running down the stairs, missing the battle above. As such, he only learned about what took place afterwards. And, well, it was spectacular.
The Moonbeast Warlock launched Blight at the Tiefling and the Aasimar. Both made their saves, so only took half damage. It was still problematic, however: the Moonbeast’s attacks lowered the victims’ maximum hit points too, so hitting zero HP would mean instant death. The Tiefling responded by levitating the Moonbeast over the hollow of the circular stairwell. The Moonbeast cast Fly – its final spell slot. The Tiefling cast Eldritch Blast to break the Moonbeast’s concentration… and succeeded. The Moonbeast plummeted 900 feet to its death.
Unfortunately, as a reaction, the Moonbeast got off one last Eldritch Blast against the Tiefling. 3d10. The Tiefling (after the Blight attack) had 16 HP left.
It’s times like this where dice rolls actually become poetic, I think.
The Moonbeast’s 3d10 was… 9, 4, and 4. Total 17. Killing the Tiefling, but only just. Rather like how Annalax came agonisingly close to getting the crown without being spotted. As I said, it was poetry.
(I initially misread the 9 as a 6, and thought the Tiefling had survived. Alas, I was wrong. Not that Annalax knew about this, until he saw the falling Moonbeast rush past him on its way to splattering over the floor).
So the Moonbeast was dead, we had the crown… but the Tiefling had sacrificed himself to save the party. Annalax’s response on learning of this:
“He gave his life to save us… I shall never understand you overworlders.”
When you’ve emotionally moved a Drow through altruism, you know something is out of the ordinary. Our melancholy party divided up the Tiefling’s belongings, and set fire to the tower. As we left, we bumped into the Tiefling player’s new character, a Loxodon Barbarian (strictly, a weird elephant/tree hybrid)… who joined us. Annalax was interested to learn that the Loxodon had worked for the Drow in the past, though the noble family he had served… aren’t talked about any more.
Soon enough, the party found themselves getting chased by a large band of angry Moonbeasts. They chased us back to the old ruins, where the ghostly Brain Eater awaited, like some spectral Mindflayer version of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. She was delighted to have us back, though thankfully our Aasimar convinced her that the Moonbeasts were intent on ruining her wedding. So she scared the creatures into staying away a safe distance. That, and she showed us an underground escape route from the ruins. Which made Annalax extremely happy.
After some shenanigans involving dice games and card games in the tunnel, we finally made it back to the Moon city, safe and sound. Annalax nabbed seven gold from pickpocketing during a bar fight, though he had to share two when the Loxodon saw him. Which was fair enough. The Loxodon had started the bar fight in the first place.
After that, it was back on the train to Dreamland Earth…
[Addendum: while the party in-game doesn’t know about this, the DM treated us to the Tiefling’s fate in the afterlife. He went to Hell. Turns out he’s literally the son of Satan. I suggested that if we ever got to Level 20, we’d invade Hell to bust the Tiefling out].
Back to the Annalax Index: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/the-adventures-of-annalax-a-compendium/