The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 23: Treachery, Faith, And The Great . . . Bunny???
Updated: Jul 20
(Quagrim imitating David Attenborough) Welcome back friends, to another episode of Unnatural World. Today we will be tracking the elusive Oread to learn more of her behavior patterns. Of late our Oread has been acting strangely, and today we're going to find out why. Join us as we . . . oh shit!
It was at this point that the gnome did his absolute best to fade back whence he'd come whilst simultaneously cursing himself for forgetting the cautionary tale of the cat.
Once back at the camp he informed the group that he'd seen Vex engaged in what appeared to be a demonic ritual. (If you would like to know more about this ritual please click here so we can get you on a watch list) Velic and Zornesk bolted off mid-explanation to confront the Oread. The rest hurried to catch up.
As Quagrim led them over the final rise to where he'd seen the Inquisitor the group was treated to a terrible sight. Vex was kneeling at the edge of a pentagram carved in the dirt. In the center was a green flame. Her sword had been planted in the ground on her right. As the group came within thirty feet of her the wolf by her other side swung around to face them and growled.
"Alright, we'll do it this way," she stated menacingly before pulling her sword from the earth and turning to face them. Prepare for the fight scene!
As an opening move Calith cast entangle on the area Vex and friend were currently in. The rest waded in. The fight was a bit harder then they'd anticipated as Vex was three levels higher than them in reality. Still, it was far from a difficult fight. Not that that stopped them from blowing all their high level spells and abilities on it. And through all of it not one of them thought to destroy the pentagram.
As Vex fell over the body of her wolf a voice intoned from the fire. "Rise loyal daughter. Receive the gifts you have earned," it said. The group watched in horror as the oread and wolf rose into the air. Their skin/fur thickened. Their hands/paws grew vicious claws. Their canines extended. Their muscles bulged. In short the demon patron had granted them the Half Fiend template.
This time the balance of the fight shifted rather sharply to the other direction. No more easy saves. No more entanglement. No more carefree backslapping.
The now flying Vex started things off by casting blade barrier in such a way that it completely boxed in Velic. In response he cast fly and rose above them. Not to be outdone, Vex then flew up to him, used smite good and one shot the cleric who then fell to his death.
Recognizing the severity of the threat, the group then closed ranks. Vex dealt blows out to most of the party, whilst barely taking any. Only Quagrim and Zornesk stood any chance of damaging her. Calith was relegated back to healing. Zubat's eidolon was proving less than effective.
Meanwhile, Tanic found himself torn in decision as he watched this debacle unfold. Should he help his friends even at the expense of helping that cleric? Or should he watch as they died? After several rounds he knew he couldn't just sit by. So he told the Harpers with him to stay back and entered the fray.
Sadly, he proved to be of little more help other than that of adding another target to the half demon's list. Realizing that only two could threaten her, the half demon waded through the group, ignoring the blows raining down on her, intent upon sending the gunslinger and paladin to join their cleric. Quagrim managed to use a hero point to avoid her onslaught, but that only brought her ire down upon Zornesk.
As he watched her advance on the kobold that had done so much for him Quagrim realized that if something wasn't done soon Zornesk was going to be skewered. All the times that the kobold had saved him (usually in ways that don't seem physically possible) ran through his head and he knew he couldn't let him die. This despite the fact that until that moment the paladin had been number 1 on his to kill list.
"Get em Bob!" he squeaked. A moment later a ten foot tall humanoid rabbit appeared in front of him, massive falchion already descending upon the demon wolf.
/*DM's Note: It is important to note the reaction of the group as Christian placed the large bunny mini on the playing mat, signifying that the gunslinger was casting an eidolon.
Beth appeared stunned.
"Can he do that?" Alex asked dubiously, casting a suspicious glance in my direction.
Meanwhile Clint appeared to have the distilled essence of an entire lemon tree in his mouth judging from the puckered look that came upon his face as he compared the two eidolon figures.
Dave looked from the Eidolon, to Christian, back to the eidolon, then to me as if to ask "Can he do that?" I just grinned.
Meanwhile Christian's face had assumed a smug look after finally unveiling his year long secret. And I do mean smug.
And Behind me, Dan was busy doing a triple take. I can't say as I'd ever seen that reaction before.
And me? Oh I may have said something like "I told you I had reasons to ensure things made sense."*/
Oh yeah, at the same moment as our fluffy friend appeared Quagrim popped up on Zornesk's radar as radiating evil.
He chose to ignore that whilst dealing with the more immediate threat. And a good thing too. The massive bunny may have tipped the scales of power back to their side, but not by much. In the end evil did perish, but not easily.
And still nothing was done about the pentagram. Again the voice began speaking. But it got no further than "Rise loyal Daughter," before being rather rudely interrupted by the gnome relieving himself through the portal. Whatever the voice had planned on saying was altered into a startled roar of rage. But before the voice's owner could do anything else the gnome wiped the pentagram away with his foot, closing the rift.
After which the still evil radiating gnome found himself at the business end of Zornesk's sword. "Why does your aura radiate evil?" he demanded in his raspy voice.
The gnome seemed confused for a moment. "Oh, that," he replied reaching into his vest and removing the "heirloom necklace" he'd always wore. Suddenly his alignment switched to good.
/*DM's Note: I should probably explain that at the beginning of this campaign I'd instituted a 100 point alignment system. Basically, each act outside of an alignment was judged to be so many points towards that alignment. Think of each point as a level within that alignment box. As a character performed positive or negative acts they'd move up or down that many levels. If this placed them above or below their current box their alignment would change. If the choice was two boxes (ex: a good character doing an evil deed) away they gained that many in that act's alignment box and double the act's point total in the intervening box. Each character started at their choice of one corner of an alignment box.
Example: A chaotic evil character (as a random, non-specific example) saves an innocent life for no good of his own. This being a good act from an evil character he'd gain 25 points towards good and 50 points towards neutral. At the beginning of the game I'd already decided that if Quagrim revealed himself to save the group that would shift him a flat 100 points towards the next alignment up. Due to the many good deeds of the group at this point he'd already earned 70 points towards neutral and 35 towards good. This earned him 100 to neutral which brought him to level 70 of neutral. But since he'd already gained 35 points towards good he shifted straight from evil to good at level 5.*/
"This swaps alignments," Quagrim explained. For effect, he then reapplied it, causing his alignment to shift back. And then he removed it. And so on and so on, until the kobold appeared to be getting sick. Meanwhile I began to wonder if I needed to create an ultra-chaotic alignment column for the little bastard.