Saturday, February 3, 2018
Deva Breaks - Crossroads Campaign Session 4
Passing through the portal wasn't initially any different than the other few times that we had made use of the other such points in the maze. However, we did not end up coming out in another part of the maze. Instead we found ourselves on a platform with steps leading down to a central area and on to another platform quite like our own. All of this over a vast void of darkness.
Istryx stood in the center toying with the crown in her hands. I'm not sure who caught it but the entity of blood hovered behind before she dismissed it with a gesture. She was sitting in front of a black pit that presumably led down into the darkness but may have leading to its own, smaller, infinite void of emptiness. Floating over a small pillar in the middle of this pit was a sort of sphere, black in color, which was pulling the ambient magic of the realm around it. Behind her was grate covered in what appeared to be blood. Given that horrendous entity was there before, I don't doubt that it was blood.
The goddess of secrets was simply despondently waiting for us and watching our approach. Trying to read this expression for whether or not it was an act or truth was useless, but Rhea seemed to be more uncertain than she had been when we had entered. I let my awareness of the flows of magic fade as I focused my mind toward listening in on the thoughts of those around me.
Allifer's mind was a bit overwhelmed and made me wonder what his normal line of thought was. However, it did leave me certain that he wouldn't be much of a problem. Rhea's mind was preoccupied with the sound of one of the whispers that she had heard earlier in our mission. "Rumors are just rumors. There is no corruption in our ranks." I did not recognize the voice of the woman speaking, but it was clearly someone that Rhea considered to be important.
Rhea moved ahead formally declaring "Istryx, Goddess of Secrets, it is the decision of the pantheon that you be punished for crimes."
Istryx nodded in acceptance as the woman set down a slip of paper and I was oddly struck with the similarity that the procedure had with the idea of being served papers or a call to court. However, in this case it seemed the court would come to us. A blue glow rose up from the paper forming into the vague shape a humanoid being which then spoke with a multitude of voices.
I rashly turned my attention on the thoughts of the two gods. Istryx's mind was simply a wall. No, that wasn't correct. It was more that I couldn't find it. It was there somewhere, I could feel it, but I couldn't actually find it. The other entity, however, had a mind that was a culmination of countless voices all thinking in different directions at once. The pain sent me reeling and I only just disconnected before the thought reading spell was lost.
The blue goddess chided me on my rashness but healed the damage. In so doing she seemed to notice something about us and turned to confront Istryx about taking on devas. The second goddess certainly seemed to feel that something was off about the situation but seemed determined to proceed with the judgment. Clearly at this point she was just act as the messenger of judgment rather than the judge herself.
Kelmar protested mightily, incensed that the punishment was being carried out even when the person executing that punishment showed signs that they doubted the truth of the crime. However, despite his impassioned pleas on Istryx's behalf, the punishment was carried out and watched as energy was painful drawn away from Istryx and the crown in her hands twisting and vanishing away.
As it finished, I turned my thoughts to Istryx and listened as her mind became perceptible, though still quite fuzzy. I could only get shades and impressions of thoughts rather than a complete image. Still it was clear to me that she was something closer to mortal now. We didn't have much time to consider the importance of this before newcomers appeared on the other platform.
It was another of the devas, like Rhea. I believe his name was Eastman and he was the one who had snatched the hand-drawn version of my map. There were two people with him, a sorcerer of some kind and a woman with a bow. I remembered that there had been two other members of their party to start and had I not heard one of Eastman's whispers earlier I would have assumed the other two died to the hazards of the labyrinth. Instead I had to worry that Eastman and his fellow had been the ones to cause the death of the others. The man never approached close enough for me to hear his thoughts and had I tried to get close enough it would have been too obvious.
Eastman seemed to hesitate on seeing us, but then with a wave of his hand, a horrific rift in time and space nearby. I reacted as one should to the sudden opening of a rift in time and space by scattering away from it. I had seen such a thing before. It was such a gate that had catapulted me away from my home and out into the Lost. Beside me, Kelmar also seemed to recognize the flavor of the gate as he started speaking about his friend Jaxx,
Istryx called out a warning to the blue field that was her mother that these others were after the orb and herself. The goddess of knowledge responded by somehow sending the sphere away and then turning to walk into the demonic gate, causing it to shut down completely. This triggered a battle with Eastman and his cronies.
Off the bat as we moved to cover, the sorcerer cast fire down upons, striking almost everybody in the party. Only I had the good fortune to be staying out of the area of the inferno. That left us to try and recover from this poor start. And recover we did. What's more, Istryx now also moved to fight with us warping time around the enemies and slowing their actions.
Wyndelly took a shot with her blunderbus of a weapon and killed the sorcerer outright with a tremendous shot leaving us with only Eastman and his archer friend to deal with. They seemed a bit thin skinned to my words and enchantments, especially as I dropped a faerie fire upon the lot of them. Ex-Allifers instead sought to ply his trade as a healer to attend to Rheas wounds as the enemy came closer.
They seemed quite determined to declare that they had been betrayed first, implying that what they did now was not betrayal but more something like justice. I tried to shackle the archer's mind in a shadow of the confusion and mass of thoughts that had belong to the goddess of knowledge, but she shook it off. However, she did not resist when Istryx clouded her mind causing her to skip happily down the path toward Istryx declaring that the now mortal girl had something to tell her.
Angered, Eastman shoved his ally off the pathway cursing her weak mind. She almost managed to catch herself on another platform but instead crashed off of it before vanishing with a scream into the darkness. Kelmar and Wyndelly continued to rain damage upon him with arrows and bullets. Even I managed to get off a shot from my handgun, it's sound vanishing eerily into the void without even a hint of an echo. Before Rhea could meet him in combat, however, he declared that this was merely a setback and leaped off the platform himself.
With everything calmed down, Istryx gave us as much of the low down as she could. She was still an entity of secrets but as something closer to mortality now there were less limits on her behavior. It was explained to us that Wyndelly, Kelmar, and myself had been chosen as devas of Istryx and Kelmar seemed to rightly guess that we had been chosen to seek evidence of her innocence and, more importantly, overturn this plot to consume the pantheon.
We've been provided a tower in the Center though right now it has no one but the three of us. As she is Istryx can't pick anymore devas but that doesn't stop us from recruiting some help in this quest. And I think we'll need it. We won't have Rhea or Ex-Allifers with us from this point, so we'll have to fill out the team. Kelmar is rough and tumble enough, but he is much better as a sniper than a brawler and we need someone who can give him that space. Then of course it would be nice to share some of the support and utility needs of the party.
One note however was that Istryx said that she would not change the fate of Petrilly even if she could. This makes me wonder if Petrilly might not have been one of these plotters we are seeking in the first place. Of course, Istryx could still be leading us around by the nose, but we'll have to see the truth of that in the long run. The only way to finding out what's really happening is go forward with this task.
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