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Session 141 - A Price Too High Terrasque

posted Mar 18, 2018, 1:13 PM by Will McCain

With Guntz's life on the line, the Maladroits had no choice but to engage the Terrasque. The lingering Freedom of Movement that Knox had cast on them kept the Terrasque from devouring any of them, but it was a small blessing. It proved every bit as challenging as its legend told, healing almost all the damage done to it almost immediately. For her part, Alera found her healing abilities pushed to the limit as the fighters managed to get it looking somewhat hurt. The day of endless battles was taking its toll on the party's reserves, and all knew that another solution was needed.

The chance to find that solution arrived when Knox successfully cast the Terrasque into a Maze. While it would give the beast time to fully heal, it also allowed the group time to recuperate themselves and figure out a strategy for defeating it. Brainstorming with Guntz, they remembered the odd abilities of his suit and its Unmagic. He said that he might be able to disrupt the Terrasque's abilities with the field of disruption he had used before by striking the borders of reality. It sounded like a good start, until the Maladroits remembered that they had both a Portable Hole and a Bag of Holding. They all knew the dangers of combining the two items, and realized that it might be a perfect way to deal with the monster. Destroying both items by putting the hole into the bag would create a rift to the Astral Plane. While there were many creatures there who would not be too happy at such an unstoppable horror appearing on their doorstep, the plane itself was vast beyond imagining. Chances were good it would simply end up floating aimlessly through a silver expanse. 

While no one wanted to be sucked in along with the Terrasque, Lucas volunteered to be the one to deliver the trap. He was the nimblest, he argued, and in case he was sucked in, he was the most expendable of the group in the long run. This mature evaluation shocked and impressed Callon, and showed just how much he had grown. Moments before the Terrasque was to reappear, Guntz argued that he should be the one to deliver it, because of both his protective armor and the reach it afforded him. The Maladroits emptied the bag of holding and handed both items to the half-dragon. 

Moving out of reach, the group watched their armored friend take position next to where the Terrasque had disappeared. Finally, it popped back into existence, and Guntz immediately grappled it. Looking over to the Maladroits, he smiled sadly and said, "<insert cool departing phrase>." Then, he turned a knob on the chestplate of his armor and initiated the self-destruct sequence. The group shouted out for him to stop, then had to shield their eyes as a magic explosion washed over them. When it cleared, they saw the split open carcass of the Terrasque in the middle of a field of pink energies. Watching for a few moments, they could tell that it was thankfully not regenerating. They would still have to get help to keep it that way, since there was no way of knowing if the field would last.

Spent, hurting, and devastated at losing yet another friend, they trudged towards Alera's monastery, hoping to finally find some rest.

Session 140 - One of Those Days

posted Mar 10, 2018, 5:09 PM by Will McCain

The news at the Tower was dire. Rufus had been made aware of happenings in the southeast near Alera's home temple. A terrible beast of legend, called the Terrasque, had been hibernating there for century, perhaps millenia. However, Oragor was moving in, and there was a good chance he might awaken it. There was not much known about it, except that it was unkillable, known as a destroyer of kingdoms, and was supposed to be more active. There was no good solution to dealing with the double threat, so the Maladroits were being sent as the only recourse available.

One quick teleport scroll later, the Maladroits found themselves standing at the entrance to a massive chamber where a enormous beast of nightmare lay defeated and unmoving. A group of goblins surrounded it, calling out to it as their savior to help them win their losing battle with Riparia. Embedded in its back was a simple blade, and the Maladroits knew it immediately to be the final Shard of Abjuration. Fresh despair gripped their hearts as they saw Oragor Dreadthorne walk across the back of the titan and grip the handle of the blade. With a quick motion, he pulled it free. As it stirred, he spared the Maladroits a single, resigned look before turning and walking away, fading away with each step.

The monster's regenerative abilities left no time to act as it stirred and began changing into an even more terrifying form. Even worse, the goblins surrounding it began to change, as well. They grew and mutated, becoming fearsome in their own right. The party prepared for battle.

Knox and Alera tried sending spells at the group as the beast began to rise. They found some success on the changed goblins, but the Terrasque itself seemed mostly immune. As it began to move towards them in order to reach the exit of the cave, they decided to let it pass. The rumors alone were enough for them to know they couldn't face it and the cadre of goblins at once. As it raced towards the exit, they turned back to their other foes and began their assault.

Spells flew and blades flashed. Coming from goblins, these changed creatures proved more annoyance than actual threat. Still, the Maladroits were finding themselves working with dwindling resources as they were forced into battle after battle without time for rest. With the last goblin felled, they raced to the exit of the cave to see where the Terrasque had gone.

The roars and clouds of dust some mile away were easy enough to spot, and also told them of its terrible speed. Using Knox's only casting of Haste, they bolted towards it. Perhaps they could do something to keep it from trampling Riparia underfoot. When they caught up to it, they were shocked to find Guntz there, battered but barely holding in place with his armor. They could also see he would not last long by himself. Their bodies begged for rest, but their resolve remained firm. 

It would pass no further.

Session 139 - In a Workshop! With a Box of Pink Rocks!

posted Mar 10, 2018, 4:12 PM by Will McCain

Racing after Gunst, the Maladroits found him in the middle of a town square. He was surrounded by a magical aura that bent the air around him like a hot road. They tried calling out to him, but he clearly was not in the proper mind to respond. They moved in and prepared to engage him.

With his magical vision, Knox tried to get a better understanding of what forces were at play with the armor. When he looked at Gunst, however, all he saw was a sphere of utter black. He was almost blinded when looking away from him because of how bright the regular world was in comparison. Delving deep into his arcane knowledge, he remembered the theory of Unmagic. It was different from Anti-Magic in that it did not simply prevent magic from propagating into tangible effects, but rather absorbed all magics and twisted the paths of mana so much that all potentials and possibilities of a spell were squelched. Or enacted all at once, depending on your source. It was a very confusing theory.

With much of their spell arsenal rendered ineffective, Alera and Knox fell back to supporting Callon and Lucas as they laid injuries into Gunst. They hoped that rendering him unconscious would somehow shut down the armor and bring him back to his senses. Indeed, after a fierce battle, Gunst fell to the ground under the weight of many grievous wounds. The aura from that armor that had been filling the area around it with a strange pink glow immediately ceased. It stopped pulling on Gunst's mind and lifeforce, and he gasped back to life, once more in his right mind.

He hardly had time to assure the Maladroits of his regained control and explain the properties of the suit when Eueth flew in and breathlessly told the group that there was an emergency and they had to get to the Ivory Tower NOW. Gunst took off at a job, and the rest of the group mounted the phoenix, mentally bracing themselves for their next trial.

Sessions 137 & 138 - The Villains in Your History

posted Feb 23, 2018, 5:36 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Feb 23, 2018, 6:22 PM by Paul H ]

Tumbling out of the entrance to the Pimento, the Maladroits didn't have time to concoct a counterattack before the Royal Guard surrounded them and placed them under arrest. Confused and protesting, they nonetheless relented. Taken back to the palace, they were placed in cells, along with Callon's lifeless body. They were told that not only had Princess Jessa had been returned by the Invincible Trio, but they had discovered that the Maladroits had been keeping her captive. They readily agreed to be questioned under the effects of a Zone of Truth.

When questioned, they tried to answer truthfully but heard themselves relate the same tale the Trio had told. However, when Callon was questioned via Speak with Dead, he told their true account that had no involvement with hiding Jessa. The Minister of Magic was inclined to believe them, and had them brought to the king. 

Along the way, and in a far off realm, Callon spoke with the spirit of his sword. It had the power to bring him back to life, but it didn't yet see what good that would accomplish. Callon managed to convince it that he needed to be there for his team and to speak to the truth of whatever was happening that caused him to be questioned. The Maladroits were surprised and happy when the body they had been dragging sprung back to life and stood amongst them once more.

The king agreed with the Minister of Magic in his own faith in the Maladroits. He explained how the Trio had returned Jessa and taken the money promised them. To prove his point, he called for Jessa. The young girl appeared from a side door and approached the group. However, when she touched the Anti-Magic Field that had been erected, she disappeared. Merely a carefully and exquisitely crafted illusion. The king sagged in despair, but Callon stepped forward and urged him to hold his head high despite this betrayal and trust that the people he could trust would deliver Jessa home.

The Maladroits were cleared of all charges and released. Returning to the streets, however, they found the public turned against them by pamphlets and rumors spread by the Trio before they left for parts unknown with their ill-gotten gains. Ignoring the crowds as best they could, they went about their business. 

First, a trip to the haul to deal with broken equipment. Lots of equipment was sold both to garner funds and to lighten their collective loads. Callon even sold his Ring of Blinking, deciding not to rely on it anymore. With their business finished, they went to check in on other friends before making the inevitable trek to the Tower with their new Shard of Illusion. 

Arriving at Kokichi's, they were alarmed to find the workshop blown out and Kokichi himself picking himself off the ground. The gnome told them that he had finally gotten the suit working, but that something had gone wrong with the magics and it had run amok with Gunst inside. Following his lead, they left him to race after it and hopefully stop it before it could do any true damage to the city that was feeling less and less like home.

Session 136 - Invicible Triage

posted Nov 6, 2017, 7:18 PM by Will McCain

The assembled heroes decide to put an end to the mortal threat of Jonid. Before Callon deals the final blow, however, Knox stops him and does the deed himself. With their foe now deceased, Alera immediately attempts a Speak with Dead spell, only for it to fail when cast. Master Morvant is furious at this and storms off to vent his rage at Jonid's continued annoyance with some violent spellcasting.

Finally returning to the surface by way of the Green Olive, the Maladroits find it in a state of panic. Seeking the cause, they find the Invincible Trio of Bull, Cat, and Fox tearing up the Pimento in a veeery drunken rampage. Before the heroes can decide how to deal with them, the seasoned warriors spot them, greet them warmly, and engage them in combat. A brutal series of magical and ranged attacks fall upon the Maladroits. Even though Knox is able to banish Bull to a Maze, the attacks leave the group heavily injured. Lucas and Knox are able to drag their teammates away, and make for the Tower to regroup. Casulaties:  Alera heavily injured and dazed, and Callon freshly spun from the mortal coil and in dire need of a raise.

Session 135 - Hell to the King

posted Oct 2, 2017, 1:47 PM by Will McCain


Ever since the Tomb-dungeon of Mazoo, he had been a thorn in the Maladroits' sides. Every time he had run, but now he sat in a gilded throne looking down on them.


Hearts full of caution and angry determination, the adventurers made ready to put an end to things. Before they could draw their weapons, though, Jonid pulled a last trick and summoned duplicates of each member of the party. Of course. They knew he had the Shard of Illusion, so they couldn't take this final test lightly. There was no going back, not that any of them wanted to, so battle was joined.

Knox opened with show of his magical might and let loose a Meteor Swarm onto the doppelgangers. Though some saved or had defenses, all of the illusory party took damage. Jonid, unfortunately, didn't look particularly hurt. Alera followed up with some Storm Bolts, further damaging the imposters and stunning NegaLucas. From there on it became a back-and-forth of powerful strikes and misses. Fighting themselves was a reminder to the Maladroits of just how much they had grown, and how formidable they could be. They prove particularly frustrating when they pre-empted some of the party's moves, such when NegaKnox used one of his preparations of Time Stop to counterspell Knox's own casting. NegaCallon was able to stun Lucas, but Callon, singularly suited with his Ghost Touch weapon to deal with his counterpart's Blinking, was able to put some damage into him in exchange. Alera attempted a direct attack on Jonid. To their collective dismay, the damage was spread across the duplicates of the Maladroits in Jonid's stead.

Knox and Alera noticed the gnomeling casting Mislead before the entire room shifted and the Maladroits and their doubles were rearranged. They now had to be careful of not attacking one of their own. To that end, and spurred on by Desangriev, Callon forwent his own activation of his ring and instead spent his time trying to take down the other fighter. Lucas focused on Alera, Alera tried to down Knox, and Knox finally got in a Time Stop.

Things were looking dire, but they pressed on and harder. Their noble struggle must have touched the heart of some watching earthbound deity, for they suddenly felt their health and spells renewed! The day might just be won by this mysterious patron!

Upping the stakes, Jonid summoned a demon in the middle of the fray and once again shifted the positions of the combatants. When Callon attacked it, it vanished. A mere figment to get the party to waste an attack. Knox was able to send NegaCallon away with a Maze spell, allowing the party to focus on the already hurting targets. Keeping their focus on their illusory doubles, they began to fall one by one. Lucas did away with NegaAlera, and Knox blasted his own duplicate into dust. The illusory Lucas was tricky with his defenses, but the fighter and the rogue were able to put him to bed, as well. Now left with Jonid (until NegaCallon returns, at least), the Maladroits closed in.

Jonid struck Callon with Blindness, but Alera healed him. Thankful, he remembered that they had questions for Jonid about Cordova, and bid his sword take on Merciful to avoid dealing a lethal blow. The spirits of the blade are aghast that mercy would be called for someone like Jonid, but Callon corrected them that this was a time for justice instead of vengeance, and that the mercy was for Cordova. The magical shifting of Warrior Spirit was their nod of compliance. Lucas and Callon began their assault on Jonid, but his layers of magical defense proved difficult to get through. In his frustration, Lucas tried to grapple Jonid, but he proved too slippery. Cursing at the gnomeling, he offered a prayer to Fharlaghan for guidance in getting his target. 

Jonid moved across the room, but they held fast in pursuit. Even when NegaCallon reappeared between Callon and Lucas, he was but short work. Alera began to tire of Jonid's defenses, as well, and cast an Anti Magic Field on herself to try and reach him. Seeing the threat approaching, Jonid escaped her grapple and cast Disjunction in order to get rid of it and rob the rest of the Maladroits of their own magical boons. The Anti Magic Field resisted the spell, but many of the other Maladroits' magical items were disabled. Even worse, some were outright destroyed. Lucas lost his Cloak of Resistance, Knox lost his Ring of Sustenance, and Callon lost his custom-made Bulwark Plates.

It was but the last, final gasp of a doomed man. The party pushed Jonid into a corner, where Alera's Anti-Magic Field robbed him of his defenses and boons. When she failed to grab him, Lucas latched on. Callon turned the temporarily depowered Desangriev on its side and laid into their foe with the flat of the mighty blade. Jonid tried to stab himself to rob the Maladroits of victory, and perhaps his secrets, but Lucas pinned him, leaving just enough space for Callon to deliver the final knockout blows.

They bound him, removed all his items, and found a dagger that not-so-subtly revealed itself as the Shard of Illusion. Callon took the artifact and wrapped it in cloth. Lucas, still irked, delivered a kick to the unconscious Jonid and walked away to cool down. Despite their losses, despite their frustrations, and despite the uncomfortable history they had been shown, it was over. Jonid was captured and the Shard secured.

They headed out to rejoin their friends and embark on the next important task: Keeping the Shard of Illusion from FernDelia Getting Cordova back. 

Session 134 - Dis Ingenuous World

posted Sep 29, 2017, 7:47 PM by Andy Burras   [ updated Oct 2, 2017, 11:05 AM by Will McCain ]

"We met a gnome from an ancient time,
Who said - “Many vast and ageless empires
Stand on this land….Near them, on their books,
Half truth of shattered history lies, whose honor,
And nobility, and traditions passed down,
Tell that its sculptor well those qualities read
Which yet survive, stamped on these false things,
The hand that mocked them, and the ego that fed;
And on the throne, these words, he spoke:
My name is Mr. Gnome, Pranker of Pranks;
Looks at my Art, ye mighty fools, and Laugh!
No truth beside remains.  Round the deceit
Of that colossal Trick, boundless and false
The impact of which stretch far away."

Having narrowly avoided a battle, the Maladroits brought their friends up to speed. Master Morvant was especially outraged to learn what had been done to his friend Mistress Cordova. They split into groups to search the ruins, and left Qip and Boken at the entrance with Cordova's body in case nobody returned. Once again united, the Maladroits set out.

Taking to the sky, Knox observed that the ruins took the form of concentric circles, with each additional ring appearing more modern and advanced than the previous. As they entered, the seasoned adventurers were surprised to see ghostly figures of gnomes milling about in ignorance of their presence. Taking interest in one particular pair, they were again surprised that the gnomish they spoke was not one they fully understood. Older, perhaps, than the modern tongue. While puzzling out what they were saying, the voice of Jonid spoke through one of the figures, bidding them to pay attention with manic glee. Trying to ignore it, they learned that the garden they thought they were in was actually the overgrowth of an ancient attempt to harness the mystical energies of one of the Shards. They stood in something of a substation for the magical flow, which might activate once more since Jonid undoubtedly had the Shard in the center of whatever illusion or maze this was. After clearing away the brush, they managed the reactive some of the lines, narrowing avoiding getting trapped inside in the process.

Now following the flow of magic, they tracked a shorter course to the center. Passing into another, older ring, they found more apparitions. This time, however, they noticed the Maladroits, and looked upon them with disdain. The group noticed that they were bedecked in much finer clothing than those around them. There was also a sigil upon the wall of a <globe with something over it?>. They also noticed that the lines of stone on the ground traced an outline of their home continent, strangely enough. They tried interacting with the gnomes, and damaging the sigil, to mixed results. Lucas and Alera started to worry that Callon was relying too much upon the advice and abilities of Desangriev. Callon dismissed their concerns, and tried to assure them it was under his command. Despite opening up a new path, however, Alera decided to follow the path they had been on, and left the group.

Moving closer in, they were witness to a singular gnome racing about a landscape of ponds and hills, reshaping them with ease. Like before, they noticed clear similarities between the landscape and the layout of their continent. Disturbingly, they saw him create a gleaming metallic object and then bury it beneath a mound of earth and rock. The similarity to the ship of the Guren was not lost on them. After getting his attention, they were able to get him to show them what their entire world looked like. Collapsing his hands together, the landscape around them shrank beneath them until he held a globe in his hands. Standing in the void before him, they saw their planet, with enormous sections of the world separated by the seemingly random snaking of the Stormwall. Alera rejoined them at this point. Not wanting to waste more time in pursuit of Jonid, they thanked the gnome and pressed on.

Coming to the final circle, they were met with a vast plain stretching out from a singular earthen hut. Carefully walking inside, they found tapestries and murals filling the walls. They told in detail of the Guren efforts to uplift the races of the continent that they had learned pieces of before. As they were admiring them, however, they heard gnomish giggling coming from the center of the room. Turning to it, they found a gnome man sitting in a chair, trying to contain his mirth. When they asked him what he was laughing at, he explained that he had been waiting for thousands of years for someone to come by and find him so he could explain all this secret history for what it was: his own, greatest practical joke upon the world.

As he explained, he had gathered the Shards ages before and used their power to craft exacting histories and fill the minds of the various races with tales of how they came to be. He created the Guren ship and all of its technology simply to serve as validation of this great lie. Even the Akari were tricked into thinking that they had chosen to refuse the Guren's gift, when in truth the gnome had merely reshaped their memories. All of this was in service to the greatest joke of all of history, in that all of history had been made up by him. The Maladroits were speechless for a time, but Lucas soon spoke up to voice his indignant outrage at the gnome's flippant manipulation of people. He had brought races low who could have been great, only to amuse himself. Alera joined the rogue in his outrage, but Knox and Callon simply looked back the murals they had marveled at before. 

Upon their asking, the gnome admitted that he was an illusion and that Jonid was waiting for them. Now they knew the truth, though, even if no one would believe them. However, they would not be so easily disturbed. They each dismissed the gnome man, either out of anger as with Lucas, or in unimpressed disappointment from Callon. So the man faded away, and the Maladroits found themselves in a throne room filled with the slow clapping of their fated and hated foe: Jonid.

Session 133 - Careless Wishper

posted Sep 28, 2017, 2:12 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Sep 29, 2017, 11:36 AM ]


Callon's anguished cry echoed through the chamber as Cordova's limp form fell into his arms. The other mingling adventurers turned toward the sound to see Callon cradling the fallen cleric and Jonid smiling menacingly where Watch once stood. The members of the Maladroits immediately tensed and cursed at the sight of the gnomeling, but he left them no time to ponder his presence. After casting a spell over the group, he disappeared. 

The Maladroits felt nothing different about them, but noticed their friends beginning to act strangely. They turned malevolent gazes towards the heroes, and they understood that Jonid had left them to fight their comrades while vastly outnumbered. Nico and Master Morvant had managed to avoid succumbing to the spell, but that was small solace for the odds they faced.  Lucas, as quick to understand the situation as he was on his feet, tried to subdue Amii and Elistra. Master Morvant was quick to come to his aid, but all his magics were resisted. Nearby, Alera was on the receiving end of Pebble's fists and was struggling to stand afterward. Nico braced herself to square off against Yanjing and looked to the Maladroits for aid and guidance. Callon carefully set Cordova down before he stood to join the fray with Nico. He ordered Desangriev to assume non-lethal magics, but found himself strangely rebuffed. 

It was a bad situation quickly growing worse. Lucas felt this keenly as he narrowly fended off an attack from Elistra. In his frustration, he yelled out, "I wish you all would just snap out of it!" He had forgotten about the remaining Wish spell in his Luck (now Ribbon) Blade, and the magic sprung to life. It cleared the minds of the enthralled heroes, resetting them to normal. After a moment of confusion, they all counted themselves lucky for having narrowly avoided some bitter fights. Callon called out his thanks to Lucas' quick thinking, which the rogue absently acknowledged. His conflicted gaze was fixed to his sword. While thankful he had been able to undo the mind control, he had also accidentally used his greatest magical resource. Should he be happy, angry, or... both? 

There wasn't much time to ponder, as the group left the room in pursuit of Jonid, only to find themselves in the presence of ancient ruins and a great mystery.

Session 132 - The Prestige

posted Sep 9, 2017, 11:49 AM by Will McCain

Team Callon raced towards the end of the labyrinth, powering through two dreadful encounters.

In the first, they faced an empty room with their entranceway turned into an enormous mirror. Magic damaged them anytime they look anywhere but into the mirror, so they closed their eyes and walked toward the exit at the far side of the room with one another providing directions. Once accomplished, they faced off against two undead. One was a huge mass of muscle and the other was a semi-corporeal floating menace. Between magical, holy, and bladed might, both were brought low.

In the second room, they found a small indentation in the center of the room and a slowly lowering ceiling. While Mistress Cordova was convinced that they were in no real danger, the party went along with the threat and chose her to rest in the indentation in case it was real and there could only be one survivor. Before the falling stone crushes them, though, it disappeared and their real challenge appeared in the form of a merilith demon. The many-armed snake woman tried to whittle away at the group, but found them steadfast in their own prowess. When Callon put her in dire straights, she summoned another of her kind to aid her. With dreadful efficiency (and many summoned monsters to take hits for them), the party dispatched both creatures and finally earned an exit from the gauntlet.

It was happy tidings, indeed, when they walked through the exit and found the rest of their friends waiting for them. All had faced terrible trials, but not one of the Maladroits or their friends had fallen. They spared a moment before continuing on to claim the Shard to celebrate their success. Mistress Cordova leapt up to Callon and wrapped her arms around his neck to surprise him with a kiss. Leaning back, Callon watched her happy and loving smile slip away and the life fade from her eyes. He caught her as her arms, now devoid of life, now fell from around him. 

Looking up in horror, the assembled heroes saw Watch pulling a gem back from where Cordova's back had been. Smiling cruelly at Callon, his form shifted into that of Jonid. With a careless toss, the gem with Cordova's trapped soul vanished, banished by the gnomeling's magic to parts and planes unknown.

Session 131 - A Party's End

posted Aug 25, 2017, 10:09 AM by Will McCain   [ updated Aug 25, 2017, 10:24 AM ]

Team Knox arrived at their last challenge. Hands that were patting the wizard's back for his clutch save earlier now moved to chins in contemplation of their new puzzle. It was a bare room with four torches lit, and some script barely legible on the far door. Elistra carefully made her way down and found a riddle: you must create that which is so fragile, to utter it's name would break it. Quick-witted as ever, she immediately deduced the answer and returned to her team, bidding them to produce what they needed: silence.

In the stillness, they could still hear the gasping of the flames on each torch, so they each took position by one and extinguished them quietly. When all was finally still, silent, and dark, they felt the room shift. Around them, they could hear (and feel) tiles of the floor falling away. At the same time, they saw the imprints of four hands begin to glow on the exit door. Knox tried to fly, but found his magic suppressed by a powerful Anti-Magic Field. They steeled themselves and began to carefully make their way towards the door while trying not to fall off their precarious paths. Qip was the first to stumble, but as he held himself on the edge of the remaining tile, he felt an illusion disperse from his mind and felt the original, unmolested floor beneath him. Again! Another false danger, just like the last room! He tried to call out his realization to his friends, but, like before, they could not believe without overcoming the spell themselves. He first helped McGraenge to see the illusion for what it was, then Knox. Elistra was more hesitant, but at Qip's rather unexpected urging to throw herself into his arms, she took the chance and also saw through the magic. With a wink, Qip reluctantly let her go and they made their way to join the others at the exit.

The lights returned, the anti-magic field lifted, and their foes began to fade into view. Horror fell upon Elistra to see the reanimated forms of the fallen Champions of the Realm taking positions on the opposite side of the room. No. This was too cruel. A hand upon her shoulder startled her out of her disbelief. Meeting Qip's solemn gaze, the Druid reminded her that they were in a place of illusion, and she should not hold back from fighting mere figments meant to unnerve her. She breathed deeply, nodded at the Akari, and slowly drew her blade. The others did was preparation they could, and battle was joined.

The figments won initiative on them, and Volfeng the Half-Orc Cleric read a scroll of Time Stop. When the jar magic passed, the party saw that he had summoned a huge fiend to fight them, as well. Stonewall the Dwarven Abjurer cast Fly on Brushfire the Elven Fighter, who took the air in order to attack Knox. Trusting Knox to do to Brushfire what he had done to the Jub Jub Bird, McGraenge laid a withering salvo of fire into Volfeng. Elistra attacked the devil, who took appreciable damage despite his damage reduction. Qip shifted into a Dire Tiger in preparation to join McGraenge's assault on Volfeng, while Knox attempted a spell on Brushfire. The fiend, however, attacked during his casting, and he lost the spell. 

The false Champions continued their assault, and the party felt themselves waver, even as Volfeng fell to McGraenge, Qip, and Floofs. Knox was barely clinging to life from Brushfire's attacks. Qip saw the wizard's dire condition and cast a targeted Greater Dispel on Brushfire, removing the magic that gave her flight and resistance to magic. Finally, the bloodied Knox was able to cast Maze on the fighter, removing her from the fight. For a time.

Now left with the fiend and Stonewall, the part was still hurting. McGraenge and Elistra peppered him with shot and arrow, which mostly served to whittle away at his Mirror Images. Qip decided to try another Great Dispel, and succeeded in unsummoning the fiend and removing some of Stonewall's defenses. Panting but not yielding, the group finally felled the wizard, who faded away like Volfeng. Now with some time to breathe, Qip used Heal to remove the grievous wounds from Knox and McGraenge and Knox granted Elistra the benefit of Greater Invisibility. As everyone else took position, Qip healed himself a bit and poured as much buffing magic as he could into himself and Floofs. When Brushfire reappeared, she proved a formidable opponent on her own. She once more wore away at McGraenge and Qip, but Elistra carried the day. She forced herself to look at the likeness of her former friend as her invisible blade delivered the final blow. 

As the elven woman faded away, her face grew serene as the challenge she represented was overcome. Its purpose complete, the figment passed gently into the ether. Sheathing her sword, Elistra could only hope that the true souls of her friends knew such peace. And that one day, she would find it herself.

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