The Adventures of Annalax: Volume XI
Yes, dinosaurs. Annalax would think of them as giant horned lizards. They were also terrified of us, what with Magni still being covered in spider goo, and hence smelling like a Leng Spider.
The dinosaurs weren’t the only oddity. Notwithstanding that we were half-way up a mountain, we discovered that we had arrived at a strangle insulated valley, full of warm air and lush vegetation. Plenty of melted snow providing water too.
Half the party decided that a bath in a nearby pool sounded a great idea. Annalax? He has Prestidigitation for cleaning himself, and he certainly isn’t having a bath outdoors, in the sun. So he sheltered, grumbling, under a shady tree.
This was the moment that a Big Toothed Dinosaur (whose exact species I cannot recall), and a couple of triceratopses launched their attack. The Loxodon bore the brunt of the damage, and actually fell victim to a Fear spell at one point. Annalax didn’t actually do any damage (to be fair, it was daytime), but he still made himself extremely useful:
- Faerie Fire on the Big Toothed Dinosaur. A nice violet glow…
- Prestidigitation near the triceratopses, to create the prominent aroma of Leng Spider. One of them ran off, terrified.
Then it turned out that the Big Toothed Dinosaur was actually a shape-shifted Druid. Annalax shut him down with Darkness. Sure, it rather buggered things up for Ember, but at that point the Druid was happy to surrender. Yay. He offered gold too. Double yay.
It turned out the Druid had thought we were dinosaur poaching (though it’d be a brave poacher to venture past the Leng Spiders). Once he realised we weren’t poaching, he became quite friendly, and put us up for the night. He honoured his gold promise too, and Annalax wound up with 35 platinum coins for his troubles. The nice Druid even mercy-killed a dying dinosaur, and turned it into extra food rations for the party – not that Annalax knew. He was catching up on a nice four hour trance at the time.
Magni and Annalax then concocted a further scheme (because the train episode went so swimmingly…). Magni cast Pass Without Trace on Annalax, who used his insane Stealth (17 + 21 = 38!), and Mage Hand to fetch some spider eggs from a nearby cavern. The plan was that Magni could appropriately store the eggs, and we could later sell them for Leng Spider Caviar, at a 50/50 financial split. Leng Spider Caviar has to come from somewhere, and it might as well be us.
Pass Without Trace then got the entire party through the next lot of spiders (these ones apparently magic-users), and out into the next lot of jungle. According to the Druid, there are apparently five such jungles in these mountains. And there?
Kakh the Loxodon decided to leave us. He wanted to stay with the Druid.
It wasn’t the genuine sorrow that marked the death of Kirius the Tiefling, but there were copious hugs and warm farewells. Annalax even gifted Kakh his last bottle of stolen spirits (the very same bottles that had allowed us to kidnap poor Alan the Wizard). Kakh always did like his drink, in quantity as well as strength.
Then it was back onto the snow and barren mountain slope. Whereupon we saw a meteorite land from the sky.
It turned out that the ‘meteorite’ was actually the replacement character for Kakh’s player. A strange extradimensional creature, a Gith, which communicates via telepathy, and which hates gods. It actually takes the form of an item, and is currently a gun(!). Alan was most excited. At of the end of the session, the Gith was cheerfully nattering with the rest of the party… but not Annalax. He’d decided to hide, not knowing what this creature really was.
When Annalax emerged from the shadows, he was rather freaked out. It is bad enough that this thing gets inside your head, just when you think you are minding your own business… but its relentless opposition to gods was seriously disconcerting. Annalax is an extremely devout little Drow, of course, and to be told that the Gith knew of other Drow who were “free”? Terrifying. Cue the following paraphrased exchange:
- GITH: “Gods take away your freedom by forcing you to do things.”
- ANNALAX: “If I try to breathe under water, I’ll drown. So I have to hold my breath. Does that mean water is taking away my freedom?”
- GITH: “But water doesn’t force you to be within it. Gods do.”
From Annalax’s viewpoint, being a Drow is like being underwater – it means certain things are necessary for survival, and there is nothing you can do about it. Abandoning Her Ladyship would be like not holding your breath underwater – it will kill you. Nothing personal… it’s just the way things are. Annalax ended up concluding that the Gith was trying to tempt him away from the righteous path of Lolth, while the Gith (probably correctly) considered Annalax was too far gone to convert.
(The Gith tried a bit of Vicious Mockery too. It didn’t work. But Annalax does not like this new thing. Not one bit).
From there we trudged on up the mountain… only to be ambushed by half a dozen Yetis (led by an Abominable Yeti). The Gith tried and failed to scare them with controlled Fireball. But thank goodness, the Ranger could communicate with them in Sylvan, and assured them (via appeals to shared religion) that we meant no harm. So the Yetis obligingly carried us to the edge of their territory.
Then we took some shelter in a cave. Magni asked the divine bracelet to give a list of gods… and, well, that was interesting. Turns out Lolth is just one part of a wider Pantheon, while the Eternal Flame – the religion Magni follows – is actually non-existent. Magni, as an Aasimar Warlock, has spent his entire life in this particular faith, and accordingly sunk into the depths of an existential crisis. Annalax consoled him that the bracelet might actually be false (after all, Lolth has never told the Drow about the rest of this Pantheon, so it’s clearly dodgy knowledge), but poor Magni was still miserable.
After that, we managed to creep around a malevolent critter with glowing eyes and a petrifying gaze… only to end the session ambushed by mutants in goggles.
The annoying thing about these mutants? They have excellent Perception, and as such Annalax was really struggling to pull of his usual trick of hiding, even at +11 to Stealth. He got bitten and stabbed (thank goodness for Uncanny Dodge). Next session he is going to have to wheel out the big guns of Darkness and Fog Cloud.
(The mutants are actually the remains of the Isaacs’ missing father and his expedition, but the party does not know this yet).