The Hands that Move the World

Things Left Behind VII: Mob Mentality

Therendor 3, 1001 YK

Their business in Tharkul Kan almost complete, the party goes back down to talk with Tsaokeckos again. In the partially-ruined administrative district of the first level, however, they are stopped by a mob of one hundred mind flayer thralls, accompanied by fifteen mind flayers who demand the Silver Hexameric Folio and the crystal pyramid given to them by Ythrilnaw. Five mind flayer spellcasters hide beneath a dome of force and have Nimozaran’s brain in their possession. This ultimately leads to combat, where the party fights the huge number of thralls and their supporting mind flayers. During the fight, angels released by Marlamin’s death sweep into the battlefield, as do the Custodian elves accompanied by a four-armed construct they call the Steward (activated by the party’s visit to the 12th level).

The mind flayer arcanists summon a huge and horrifying creature called a harvester that wreaks massive devastation on all parties. Rilic is ultimately able to kill it, but Conlon and a psionically-incapacitated Girrrth are knocked unconscious. The shaking ground of its fall disturbs the concentration of the mind flayers, disrupting their dome of force. Iadoes attempts to take control of the Steward using Ythrilnaw’s pyramid, but is driven unconscious (and blind) by a blast of lightning from one of the mind flayers. Rilic ends up activating it, and the fight continues until one mind flayer remains. He hides beneath a new bubble of force and prepares a delayed blast fireball which ends up killing Iadoes, but Rilic escapes and finishes off the mind flayer before going with Yaun Vax to speak with Tsaokeckos in the Furnace.

Rilic asks that, in exchange for use of the Steward, Tsaokeckos revives the fallen party members. He changes into humanoid form and they go up to the medical level, where he is able to use the devices to bring back Iadoes and Girrrth. Gongrack rejoins the party here as well. The Steward is then used to rapidly repair the Furnace, at which point Tsaokeckos asks for use of the Rod of Order in exchange for a future favour. The party’s current active members unanimously agree and the Rod is used to activate the Furnace. Light washes over the party, and they feel as though they are falling.

Therendor 5, 1001 YK

The party awakens in one of the huts on Tharkul Kan’s 1st level. There are no mind flayers left, and the Nautiloid is gone, replaced by a disc-shaped vessel like Tandi used. It is being guarded by a construct similar to the Steward but made of more crude materials. The Collective goes to speak with Tsaokeckos again to learn that they have been unconscious for 48 hours following the Furnace’s activation. He also believes that a member (or members) of the forgotten race may have arrived, drawn to the pyramid by turning on the Furnace. Tsaokeckos says he is not able to scry on them, despite his best efforts.

With this the Collective returns to Grey Titan’s Hold. When they arrive they realize they have forgotten the clone bodies for the sages and Nimozaran’s brain, so Iadoes returns, but finds that his attempts to take it back are being interfered with by a very powerful spellcaster (or spellcasters) that he cannot see. This entity is demanding the Silver Hexameric Folio, which Rilic currently has, so Iadoes goes back to Eros without the giant crate of clones. He asks Rilic for the Folio, and the two decide to return to Tharkul Kan in the morning, when Iadoes’ magic has sufficiently returned to take them back. They do not have to wait, though, as a clone-Rilic appears to take them back. In a chamber of the pyramid they have not yet seen, the trade is made with a seemingly-possessed Rilic clone, who claims to need it to discover the “Code of Reversion” to “undo the Disjunction.”

The party goes back to Eros again and consult with the Sequencer. The sages within begin collaboratively designing a ritual to put their minds in the clone bodies. Girrrth guards the crate overnight by sleeping on it, while the rest of the party spends the night elsewhere.

Therendor 6, 1001 YK

The ritual requires the mages of the academy, the bards of the bardic college, the priests of Dol Dorn, and the cultists of Lharvion. It takes approximately 1 hour per body/brain pair. The party takes a few of the ritual participants to the hospital where Nimozaran’s body is being kept, and they replace his brain. He thanks them, and asks them what they will do next. They tell him they plan to retrieve the keep from Kythri, following some time off.

Main Characters: Conlon Ostrennar, Iadoes Lunaformer, Rilic Balendal, Girrrth Thicktrunk, Gongrack


Therendor 3, 1001 YK

After finishing their dealings with Tamztur in Tharkul Kan, the party descends through the pyramid to speak again with Tsaokeckos and finish their business on Vult. When they reach the bottom of the grav-tubes on the first level, however, they find they are surrounded on all sides by humanoids of various descriptions, wearing glassy and distant expressions and carrying makeshift weapons. They are identified as thralls of the mind flayers, and the party discovers they are being mutually controlled by all living mind flayers on this level. The party estimates their numbers as approximately 100 strong.

Behind the gathered mob of thralls are fifteen mind flayers, five of which take shelter beneath a hemispherical wall of force. They stand around a brain in the jar which is recognized as being Nimozaran the Green’s, which the party neglected to collect after disabling the “cloning” machine on the ninth level. Using telepathic communication, the mind flayers demand the Silver Hexameric Folio and the crystal pyramid given by Ythrilnaw to be delivered to the Custodians. The active party members present — Conlon, Iadoes, Rilic, and Girrrth — think on this for a short while, weighing their odds against the gathered mob. Despite their numbers, the mob is particularly ill-equipped, but they also have a number of mind flayers to contend with, including the five beneath the dome of force, which appear to be arcanists.

Soon, however, the debate is ended when Iadoes grows impatient and casts fimbulwinter (as he does), causing clouds to form near the ceiling. As snow begins to fall, the mind flayers take this as a sign of aggression and rally the mob. Girrrth is the first to wade into the crowd, swinging his axe and cleaving through more than a dozen thralls. Bodies and blood fly as he walks forward, while Conlon weaves star magic through the thralls, Iadoes burns them away with moonfire, and Rilic blasts them with lightning bolts. All the while, the mind flayers use psionic powers against them while the arcanists beneath the dome of force prepare some sort of ritual spell.

As the combat rages, a shrill song overtakes the battlefield as the damaged administrative district grows brighter. One of the two exit doors bursts open in a blast of divine light as five of the angels freed by Marlamin Tarmikos’ death take to the field. They assault the mind flayers while the party focuses on the mob of thralls, who are battering them by sheer force of numbers. Some of the illithids telekinetically lift several sections of a collapsed administrative building and launch them at the party, inflicting some damage. Girrrth leverages his great strength to lift one of these sections, weighing about 500 pounds, and flings it into the crowd of thralls, killing many more with the impact.

While Girrrth is occupied with the thralls, Iadoes becomes surrounded, and slams his rod of ice, previously charged with chaos magic, into the ground, triggering a wild magic surge that seems to alter the structure of his bones somewhat, with the greatest change to be triggered by a powerful blunt-force blow. This surge in turn triggers a second surge, which compels him to spend a vast amount of money on something. As there is no such opportunity at the moment, the feeling passes.

Not long after this, the other door opens, and a couple squads of Custodians enter, led by Yaun Vax and accompanied by a four-armed construct the Custodians call “the Steward” — activated by the Eclipse Collective’s use of the device located on the 12th floor. The Steward is capable of replicating a number of spell effects and “casting” two spells at a time by leveraging its extra arms. When the Custodians enter the battle, they, along with the Steward, attack the mob of thralls to support the party, blasting them with force lances and fireballs.

Soon after the Custodians enter the battle, several of the angels are overwhelmed by the psychic powers of the mind flayers, though at cost; several mind flayers have been killed in the struggle already. The arcanists in the force dome complete their ritual and open a gate, through which a terrifying creature appears. The creature is tremendous, standing at least 40 feet tall, and appearing as a grayish mass of leathery flesh with six long tentacles protruding from its form. A massive gaping maw dominates its upper half while its lower half is carried on countless smaller tentacles. Iadoes identifies the creature as a “harvester”, sometimes (misleadingly) called an “abyssal harvester,” known to drift through the space between moons. It immediately descends upon the Custodians and kills most of their number outright, battering and slashing them with tentacles and dragging some through transient portals. The destination of these portals is unknown, but screams are heard as they are carried.

Iadoes attempts to banish the harvester, but the effects are unexpected: the creature goes nowhere, but its tentacles retract from the transient portals and are incapable of forming new ones. He determines that the harvester is not really native to any plane, thus the failure in banishing it. The angels continue to fight the mind flayers for a time before turning their attention to the harvester, attacking it with all the force they can muster. With the fall of the Custodians, the Steward deactivates. After Rilic and Conlon leave the increasingly dangerous situation by going up the grav-tubes, the mind flayer arcanists cooperate with telekinesis to rip two of the upwards grav-tubes from their bearings. The remaining thralls are directed by the mind flayers to physically obstruct the remaining one in an effort to keep Girrrth and Iadoes on this floor while their companions have left.

They manage to clear most of these thralls, leaving only two standing, but repeat mind blasts keep Girrrth’s tragically fragile mind overwhelmed, preventing him from acting normally. Iadoes stays near him, and with some cooperative analysis with Rilic, they determine that the pyramid given by Ythrilnaw is meant to be inserted into the Steward’s chest. They decide this could reactivate it, but Rilic is carrying the pyramid and Iadoes is put asleep by the mind flayer arcanists’ magic. Rilic tries to throw the pyramid at him to wake him up but misses, with the pyramid landing a few inches away from the tiefling.

Meanwhile, the harvester kills the last of the angels. Three mind flayers remain outside of the force dome, and two of them flee to avoid the mindless wrath of the creature. The third appears unfazed, and grabs Girrrth, attempting to consume his brain. The harvester turns its attention upwards through the holes in the ceiling created by the removal of the grav-tubes, and launches itself into the air, attaching itself to the ceiling by way of the smaller tentacles on its body. Its six tentacles sweep upwards, smashing through the last upwards grav-tube, punching through the floor, and attacking Rilic and Conlon.

Conlon is sent flying backwards and is knocked unconscious by the impact. Rilic is injured but escapes the harvester’s attempts to grab him, and runs deeper into the second level. Back on the first level, one of the two remaining thralls smashes Iadoes’ ribs with a blunt piece of metal, causing the effects of his chaos surge to trigger. Four new arms sprout from his sides (mostly vestigial) as he stands up, grabs the pyramid, and runs towards the inactive Steward.

Rilic continues to run as the harvester’s tentacles flail. At the last possible moment he turns and unleashes the most powerful lightning bolt he is capable of, which forks as it crackles through the air, frying each of the six tentacles simultaneously and burning the harvester from inside out. It falls from the ceiling with its full 40 tons of weight. The harvester’s corpse falls upon Girrrth and his assailant, as well as the two thralls. The thralls are killed, while Girrrth is knocked unconscious with internal bleeding and his would-be brain eater is killed. The impact shakes the ground and looses the concentration of the mind flayers in the force dome, causing their spell to be broken and exposing them.

Iadoes reaches the Steward, but before he can activate it one of the arcanists launches a lightning bolt in his direction. He hides behind the construct, which blocks him from the worst of the blast, but the arcing electricity still knocks him unconscious, and the resulting flash of light sears his eyes. Rilic, now the only capable combatant, descends on the grav-tube.

Rilic finishes activating the Steward which begins flinging spells at the remaining mind flayers. One of them flees through a plane shift, while another is killed by the spells. The last one turns to flee with Nimozaran’s brain, but, realizing it is not likely to survive against the assault of magic, shields itself with another wall of force. The Steward tries ineffectively to attack the dome with magic while Rilic stands and waits for it to emerge. Iadoes remains unconscious, but Rilic stabilizes him with some bandaging. Girrrth, however, is not reached in time, and bleeds out on the ground. While Rilic waits, the Steward’s construct strength is used to gather the fallen bodies and pile them next to the remaining grav-tubes. Additionally, Yaun Vax regains consciousness, and after briefly speaking with Rilic goes down to speak with Tsaokeckos.

The mind flayer arcanist, meanwhile, has cast a delayed blast fireball, and it grows in power as he hides in the dome. At the last possible moment he drops the shield and throws the bead at the party while Rilic attempts to escape upwards (after reversing the tubes’ polarity), detonating with a massive explosion that destroys the remaining grav-tubes and kills Iadoes. Rilic escapes the explosion by rolling out of the breaking tube in time, and kills the final mind flayer by unleashing a barrage of magic missiles.

Now alone, Rilic rejoins Yaun Vax in the Furnace, where Tsaokeckos is negotiating the use of the Steward (despite the fact that it is currently in Rilic’s control). Rilic asks for a favour in exchange for the Steward: the revival of Girrrth and Iadoes. Tsaokeckos is not a healer, but he is very familiar with the workings of Tharkul Kan, and so he shifts into an elven form (resembling the Custodians’ race, though without construct modifications) and leads them up to the medical level. He asks Rilic to provide a distraction to clear the operating theatre of Kymohl, and Rilic tells him that he has found cloning machine parts on the level below. When asked about the nature of these parts, Rilic explains that they are mostly blinking lights and nozzles. Excited about the prospect of nozzles, Kymohl abandons a Rilic clone and goes downwards. The Rilic clone appears extensively wounded by the surgery but reveals it to be an illusion, and is set free.

Tsaokeckos sets about using the medical equipment to repair the bodies of Iadoes and Girrrth, but explains that the machines cannot revive the recently deceased without an “equal trade.” Two clones are used for this purpose; one is a clone of Iadoes, appropriately used to revive Iadoes, and the other is a clone of Garmeth, used to revive Girrrth. The Garmeth clone apparently knows Rilic, such that the counterfeit mage would later describe that Garmeth’s timeline as a “buddy cop reality.” In this reality, Zan-kyri expressed abject hatred towards Garmeth instead of just teasing, which apparently culminated in Garmeth and Rilic killing and eating the artificer. The Garmeth clone described the experience as being “like eating mind cotton flavoured ice cream.”

With Iadoes and Girrrth restored, the party negotiates terms with Tsaokeckos. He is granted use of the Steward, but asks also for the Silver Hexameric Folio (which he is denied by Rilic, who currently carries it) and again for use of the Rod of Order to start up the Furnace once the Steward has finished its work. The party considers this as the Steward goes about its business, splitting itself into multiple copies and rapidly repairing damaged sections of the huge chamber. After a few hours, it is finished, which has nearly destroyed the construct. Tsaokeckos also appears to have aged, which he claims is because he “used [his] own life force to accelerate the process.” The party finally agrees unanimously to allow the dragon use of the Rod, and they touch the artifact to the sphere at the center of the chamber. A wave of light overtakes them, and they have the sensation of falling for an indefinite time before waking up in the utilitarian “beds” of the first level hut-like buildings.

Therendor 5, 1001 YK

They are in the first district they entered through to get into Tharkul Kan, now apparently devoid of mind flayers. The Nautiloid is gone from the tunnel dock, replaced by a cleaner version of the disc-shaped vessel Tandi arrived in. A construct resembling the Steward blocks Girrrth and Iadoes from approaching it, but Rilic and a newly-arrived Gongrack sneak around it and investigate. They cannot find a way in and so soon leave, and the party reunites in the Furnace.

Tsaokeckos looks even worse for wear, and claims that it has been 48 hours since the party activated the Furnace. He reports that they passed out after the incident, and he placed them in the hut. The Furnace is active, evidently, but it requires fuel in the form of magic items, which he will now have to gather over time. He gives them a Siberys shard as a reward, which he instructs them to shatter if they need his assistance in the future as payment for use of the Rod. The dragon does ask, however, that they not call upon him in the near future, as he needs time to recover.

The Collective asks Tsaokeckos about the vessel docked at Tharkul Kan, but Tsaokeckos admits that he cannot scry on the occupant or occupants, as his attempts to do so are being actively blocked. He hypothesizes that this might be a living member of the forgotten race, drawn to Tharkul Kan by the Furnace’s activation. The party considers investigating this matter but decides against it. They leave, allowing Tsaokeckos to begin setting up wards to prevent the new arrivals from entering the Furnace.

They end up back in the Cathedral of Dol Dorn in Grey Titan’s Hold, at which point they realize they have forgotten the clone bodies and Nimozaran’s brain (yet again), all of which are being stored in a giant crate, packed tightly by Kymohl. Iadoes teleports himself back, and after a few mishaps and a brief injection into space, he finds the crate and tries to teleport back, only to be blocked in the attempt. Looking around to find the source of the counterspell, he finds all entrances to the room to have vanished. An unseen force pulls the box away while images of Rilic presenting the Silver Hexameric Folio keep appearing before him.

Iadoes pursues the box as it slips away through force, shifts in time, and more. He enlists Kymohl’s aid, but the surgeon’s attention soon turns elsewhere. As Iadoes moves along the corridors of the medical level he sees images of the clones being strung up and turned inside out, while various Rilics (some clones, some illusions) plead with him to deliver the Silver Hexameric Folio. Iadoes finally teleports back without the crate of bodies and contacts Rilic, and together they decide to return to Tharkul Kan the following day. They do not have to wait, however, as another clone-Rilic appears in Grey Titan’s Hold soon after, who appears to be suffering under the control of whatever demands the Folio. He offers to teleport them back to finalize the trade, and they arrive in a room of Tharkul Kan they have not yet seen. It is small and square, and contains a teleportation circle. The clone-Rilic hovers up into the air and takes on a different tone of voice, again demanding the Silver Hexameric Folio to help discover the “Code of Reversion” to “undo the Disjunction.” Not really understanding, they complete the trade anyway and are given their giant box of bodies.

They are then returned to Eros, where they communicate with the minds of the sages in the Sequencer, who collectively begin devising a ritual to place their minds in the clone bodies. They estimate the process will take approximately a day, and so the party goes to rest while they await the completion of this task. Following a dispute between Iadoes and Ser Tabin Hamson regarding who should watch over the tied-up clone bodies, Girrrth volunteers and sleeps on top of the giant crate just outside of the graveyard.

Therendor 6, 1001 YK

The next day, the sages prove as good as their word; the ritual is complete, though it requires cooperation between the magic academy, the bardic college, the Lharvion cultists, and the priests of Dol Dorn. Together, they begin the gradual process of mind movement, beginning with the apparently powerful necromancer who was contained in the Sequencer. They note that the clone’s body gradually changes appearance when the minds are placed inside. The party leaves the ritual-in-progress to go to the hospital, where Nimozaran’s body is being looked after. They put his brain back in themselves with the help of a few of the gathered individuals from the ritual area.

Nimozaran thanks them profusely for their help after he has been caught up on current events, and asks them what they will do next. They tell the wizard that they intend to retrieve their keep, and so Nimozaran suggests they start preparing for their next adventure.

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Manannan

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