The Adventures of Annalax: Volume IX
The initial session was a struggle. Annalax and Magni tried sorting out the details with the Isaac twins (the people pursuing the mountain trip). Annalax happened to mention his devotion to Lolth… whom the Isaacs, being Dreamworld folk, didn’t know about. So he tried and failed explaining the nature of the spider goddess (at one point calling her ‘adorable’), before settling for a shrine in the Isaacs’ basement. Lolth doesn’t actually have power in this realm. Yet. Though Annalax doesn’t know that.
Then it was up the mountain. Kakh the Loxodon does not like mountains, and neither does Annalax. The snow is too bright, the wind is too annoying, and everything else is too high-up. Annalax is a creature of Underdark cities, after all.
So Annalax decided we should hunt for a cave, to get out of the infernal wind. Well, that, and he thinks we should be travelling via cave as a matter of principle. Sure enough, we found one. The Loxodon, the Ranger, and Ember went inside to check things out, while Annalax and Magni hung out with the Isaacs, and the kidnapped wizard. Whose name was Alan.
(I now imagine the line from Blackadder: “Continue total slaughter until everyone’s dead, except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig, and their tortoise Alan.” In this case, maybe the campaign is “continue total slaughter until everyone’s dead, except the Party, the Isaacs, and their wizard, Alan”?).
The trio found the cave to be safe enough, except for a strange… portal. Alan was extremely excited, and even more excited to discover that we had met a giant slime-thing on the Moon. But the portal was dangerous. We knew that, because the skeletal legs of a direbear were sticking out of it. Annalax’s suggestion was that we wall off the damned thing. Annalax doesn’t have great wisdom, but he understands the art of survival. Specifically, the running away part. But the rest of the Party wanted to investigate closer.
The Loxodon had an idea. He got the Ranger to find a rabbit. Then, using Beast Sense, he got inside the rabbit’s mind, and sent it through the portal.
Turned out it was a Lovecraftian nightmare on the other side. Strange seas of blood, and stranger twisted cities. And terrifying eldritch creatures… that performed a live vivisection on the poor rabbit.
After this experience, the poor Loxodon sunk into a profound funk. Annalax obligingly let him have a bottle of spirits to deal with the trauma. Meanwhile, the Isaacs – who were investigating what happened to their father in these mountains – took notes of the location, and Alan jotted down all he could. After that, it was making sure nothing else could get back through the portal.
Continuing on up the mountain, the traumatised Loxodon was refusing to sleep – (deliberately) ending up with two levels of exhaustion. The rest of the party tried to console him… only for the session to end with an attack by a band of Leng People.
It turned out we were battling quite the collection. Three zombies (a Drow, a Human, and a Tiefling), four Leng Folk thieves (with crossbows), a Direwolf, a Wight, and a Wizard. We dealt with the zombies easily enough – Annalax made a point of aiming for the Drow, since it was the most prestigious. Magni got off a brutal Inflict Wounds on the Direwolf. Then it was on to the Wight…
The Wizard – from a comfortable distance – had something to say about that.
Not our Wizard, of course. Our Wizard, along with the Isaacs, was huddling in terror. Their Wizard had Lightning Bolt, and was throwing it down like it was going out of fashion.
Magni, Kakh, and Ember really took a beating there. Magni got hit with a 30 HP blast one turn (DM: “Oooh. That’s a lot of high numbers”), and Ember got knocked unconscious for the first time in the campaign. Even the ultra-tanky Loxodon wound up in a close-run thing.
(Annalax did not take a beating. Excellent Stealth and Dexterity will do that, which is just as well. His squishy 29 max HP wouldn’t have lasted five seconds otherwise).
At length, Annalax was able to block the Wizard’s view with Darkness, and set fire to the trees that were hiding the enemy thieves. The Wight just surrendered, after taking beatings from the rest of the Party.
At the end of the fight, the Wizard had Dimension Doored out of there, three of the four thieves had run off, and we had taken the Wight and the remaining thief prisoner.
This was the point at which our Bunch of Bandits somehow took the moral high ground in dealing with their Bunch of Bandits.
Actually, no. That was a lie.
Annalax, Ember, and Magni were highly enthusiastic about… questioning… the captives. Ember chose the demonic route*, Magni was rather fond of burning, and Annalax suggested feeding one captive to the other. The Ranger contented himself with cutting off the Zombie Tiefling’s horns (Annalax has told him that powdered Tiefling horn has aphrodisiac properties, though that wasn’t why the Ranger did it).
* Ember illustrated his point by removing one of the Wight’s eyes. Annalax later tried Mage Handing the eye back into the socket, but failed the Sleight of Hand check, resulting in a squashed eyeball dripping over the Wight’s face. Oh well. Annalax is a Merchant, not a Surgeon.
Anyway, it turned out that the pair, and their wider Bandit Band, operated out of a nearby Fortress. The Wight and the Wizard were actually high-ranking figures, while the Leng Folk Rogue was accessible via Thieves Cant. After picking up a list of useful contact names in Sarmook, Annalax had an idea about infiltrating the Fortress by pretending to join the Bandits. Ember shut that down, as another of our Drow’s overly clever ideas.
In the end, we decided to take the pair with us. The Wight can not only fight, but can also tell some neat stories about monstrous Leng Spiders, and has become something of a fan favourite with the Party. He’s even teaching Magni the Ghoulish language. Annalax couldn’t quite convert him to the righteous path of Lolth, however. What Annalax didn’t know is that the Wight knows full well who Lolth is.
The session ended with the Wight – given a dagger – offing the opponent Wizard. Very obliging, that Wight, even if he freaks out the Isaacs and Alan. Poor Alan. He studies stars, not necromancy.
Back to the Annalax Index: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/the-adventures-of-annalax-a-compendium/