illithidHaving reached a detente with the former prisoner they all reposition themselves at the sound of movement at the bottom of stairs. Assuming solidity the group array themselves around the tunnel entrance, the illithid off to one side. Taj Pach slaps her shoulder activating a psionic tattoo of thicken skin,

When Rurick gives the signal that illithids have come within sixty feet the xixchil lets off a silent fireball down the tunnel. A high pitched keening accompanies the backblast of heat and small of charred flesh that roars through the mouth of the tunnel. In addition a gracefully tumbling figure about the size of a man comes spinning out of the tunnel coming to rest gingerly balance on its three toed feet.

It is an illithid dressed in plain black, close fitting clothing standing in a fighting stance it’s hands wreathed in silver flames of psionic energy. Tavist identifies the six lines qualith symbol that denotes the Tamer, the illithid creed most like a warrior caste.

The illithid immediately unleashes its mind blast, dropping Kattar and the weakened Albossk in their tracks. Kaloin frowns and gestures casually, calling down a divine flame strike that leaves it blasted and almost dead. Tavist turns his laser pistol on it, shooting it in the head to end its wailing.

Having come to the realization that wind walk will transport all of them but not the illithid they make a deal with it. Kaloin heals it of its damage and after much discussion it grudgingly submits to being magically reduced.

Picking up the now miniature mind flayer Tavist reverts to wind walk form, as do his companions. They make best speed retracing their way in until they reach the chamber at the bottom of the spiral. As the cross the threshhold they are all suddenly made solid and come crashing to the floor. Taj looks up, horrified. "I can’t see any magic!!”

Tavist realizes that they have entered an antimagic field. He also realizes that he and Kaolin are now blind. Kaolin tries to cast continual flame to no effect, realizes she cannot cast any spells and has a fit.  “Tavist, tell me you have a torch, man! No?!?!? What kind of dragon are you? What do you mean you can’t breathe fire!”

As the hadozee priestess comes to terms with the loss of her spells (not well, mind you), Taj Pach pulls out a candle. As she lights it they hear the sound of metal striking stone. Rurick tunrs to them with two lit sunrods.  Tavist draws his starwheel and his rapier, realizing that he can’t get to any other gear until he’s out of the antimagic field. Taj tries psionics and finds that while impeded by a catapsi field they are not banished like arcane and divine magic. She fires up a force shield.

Deciding that the best way to make it the mile or two up the spiral will be flying they pair off each non flyer with a counterpart. Taj carries Ruruik, Tavist carries Albossk, and Kattar carries Kaolin as they fly towards the top of the spiral. Only harassed once on the way up, by the psionic image of an illithid watching them and firing off mind blasts.

When they reach the top it is not pretty. Dazed looking figures fill the spiral’s exit hall, shoulder to shoulder. Drow, humans, grimlocks, and duergar armed with makeshift weapons and mining equipment. As they hover in the middle of the shaft Kaoli  throws a fistful of gold coins amongst them. When the crowd pays no attention she looks at Tavist, “Yep, they’re thralls alright!”

Using telekinetic force to push them aside Taj Pach leads the way as they run the guantlet. Rapidly accruing injuries from the crowd of thralls Tavist and Kattar suddenly drop to the ground. Taj and Rurick note one illithid thrallmaster at the back of the crowd and the armored figures of three illithid Tamers coming towards them from the direction of the exit.

Focusing her mind Taj inflicts a cranial deluge on the thrallmaster, causing the catapsi field to drop whe his head explodes.

Meanwhile a rapid series of mind blasts from the Tamers leave only Kaolin and Rurick Souldforge standing.  Having no spells Kaolin fires off arrows as thick and fast as she can, although to little effect. Soulforge disintigrates the Tamer with the green crystal sword.

As Kaolin notches another arrow Tavist wakes up, sits up, and takes out one of the Tamers with his laser pistol. As he does so the anti magic field drops. The reamining illithid plane shifts out. As it does so Tavist notices something odd about the way it did so. Mentioning it to the bugs Kattar offers that in the older writing s of his people they refer to the illithid ability as probability travel. Having recently seen alternate multiverses it gives them pause.

While they are talking Kaolin hears a distant hiss. Suddenly the green glowing gas last seen under the landbridge is rolling down the corridor leaving the chocking and collapsing forms of the thralls in its wake. Taj get light headed and weak (7 pts CON damage) before they are able to assume their wind walk forms again.

Following Rurick’s guidance and moving at about sixty mile an hour they are able to reach Marcus in his encampment at the underground crevasse in a single, if long, day. When they arrive Marcus looks askance at the two and a half foot tall illithid, but says nothing.

Tavist tosses Rurik a chunk of tradebar and talks to him awhile, trying to ire im on, but the dour dwarf is ot interested. He wants to kill illithids here in the underdark and defend his home. After a brief meal and a drink he strikes off through the tunnels merging with the darkness as his figure recedes.

They begin to interrogate Albossk about the Overmind, but all it will say is that it is for the greater glory of Illsensine. When the Thoon are brought up the Illithid clerics reaction is immediate, “Heretics! Tainted!”

“Do you want the Thoon in control?” asks Kaolin, “Do you?”

Taj notices that the psionic circuitry she is wearing seems to be reacting the closer she comes to the illithid. as she moves net to him it forms a long spike and pierces its brain. In their heads they hear its last thought “The Adversary….”

As that thought rattles through her brain Taj finds herself pulled into a mindscape where she stands facing a robed figure, its face obsured by its hood. Rather than initiating combat the figure identifies itself as “The Adversary” and tells her it is mperative that they not allow the illithidae to win. The fate of multiverses hangs in the balance and the psionic circuitry she bears is his “last tool.”

The xixchil’s consciousness returns to our realms and she relay’s the experience to her comrades and Marcus. Kaolin uses her staff of healing to restore the bug’s health in the wake of the oorga gas. They camp for the night on the plateau beneath a sky of stone.

The next morning they patake of a heroes feast before wind walking the next leg of their journey. Managing to avoid confrontation due to the speed at which they are travelling they arrive at the cave in which the Celestian sanctuary is hidden. Tavist searches the area looking for signs of recent passage but finds nothing.

Marcus activates the entrance and they enter the chamber. As they step in they each feel a sting at the back of their necks, accompanied by a burning sensation. Pulling the darts out they turn, drawing weapons, and see three scantily clad drow females. Kaolin smiles disconcertingly and points at the dart, “Ever hear of a heroes feast?” she says, alluding to the immunity to poison it grants.

The hadozee priestess then drops the dart and almost casually casts blade barrier in  ring around the drow. Tavist using his ring of tongues talks to them. Just as one of them tells him that they are supposed to “keep you here for a meeting,” a figure drops from the ceiling.

“Oh that was good Dad,” says the pewter skinned elf to Tavist. Looking over her shoulder at the drow in the blade barrier she snaps “you three,  stand down!”

Taj Pach looks from her to Tavist and back.  “Seriously?!?!?”

Photo courtesy of Benimoto, used under its Creative Commons license