Flaming Gnome Attack

Giant Steps Are What You Take

Face of the Moon, part 2

Flaming Gnome Attack are:
Robelar, Dragonborn Paladin (Jeff)
Tort, Gnome Warlock (Joe)

Accompanied by:
Aethelred Aquilonius, Human Ranger (Elliot)
Garbondor, Half-Orc Monk (Tim)
Podsnik, Deep Gnome Thief (Neil)

Whereabouts Unknown:
Fis’Ting, Goblin Thief
Mortaqui, Deva Cleric
Radlum, Half-Orc Assassin
Zoltar, Human Wizard

RIP:
Adamus Aquilonius, Human Bard [dead]
Halan Barnagran, Human Swordmage [dead]
Lokus, Minotaur Avenger [dead]
Vondella, Dwarf Barbarianess [dead]
Cocktoesin, Shifter Druid [dead]
Automatic Johnny, his wolf [dead]
Blade, his wolf [petrified, left for dead]
Rochester, his hawk [fled, presumed dead

The party broke camp and set about exploring their strange surroundings. Podsnik the deep gnome reflected upon what he knew of the derro, the race of creatures they’d battled in an adjacent room. Though they’d long been feared by other races of the Underdark, derro were not considered to be endemic to the region. In fact, some deep gnome scholars theorized that these loathsome, utterly mad creatures were once quite sophisticated—so much so that they’d discovered the secrets of interplanar travel. But this had been their downfall, for when the derro peered beyond the fabric of our known universe and into the utter chaos of the Far Realm, they had been driven insane. And this insanity had toppled their once proud culture and left behind only these hideous, murderous ravagers, poking about in dark corners of the cosmos. Of course, that was only a theory. And of course, Podsnik, cursed by the Mirror of Reversal and the inability to speak common, could not share any of this with his companions.

Meanwhile, Garbondor contemplated the barren landscape, the unusually clear night sky, the out-of-place constellations, and the blue-green orb in place of the moon, all of which lay beyond the only window they’d discovered. Could it be that they were on the moon itself?

Robelar tinkered with the armor-like plates he’d discovered, while Tort examined the strange arch-shaped apparatus crackling with lighting. Garbondor suggested Robelar hang the armor pieces upon his person and walk through the archway. When Robelar did, the plates became fused together by and incredibly strong, yet lightweight, weave, granting the paladin an otherworldly suit of armor. Podsknik had grown bored, so he used the glowing control panels near their camp to disengage several locks, chopped an arm off of one of the dead derro, and used the creature’s hand to activate the glowing rune on a set of double doors.

Flaming Gnome Attack, minus Aethelred who’d been instructed to stay behind and guard the party’s rear should something else use the portal room, followed him into the next room, where they were confronted by the glowing, flickering apparition of an uthilrid, an especially powerful type of mind flayer revered among their kind. This abomination mocked our heroes as “talking cattle” and informed them that without a functioning transit beacon, similar to the one they’d taken from Keraptis, they’d not be leaving this place. Then the apparition disappeared, the doors slammed shut, and the light panels above their heads went out. Garbondor, aided by a magical scroll, and Podsnik the deep gnome beheld the opening of another door in the room, followed by the inrushing of a bloodthirsty derro horde, accompanied by a half-spider and decaying cannibal, both of which appeared to be slaves of the derro.

Garbondor hurled one of the explosive metal orbs he’d recovered from Keraptis’s laboratory into the crowd, eliminating several of the derro. Robelar, unable to see but bolstered by his new armor’s tremorsense and blindsight abilities, engaged several enemies. Podsnik, ensnared by derro manacles, activated the portal gun they’d taken from Keraptis’s lair, and bullrushed his captor into the portal it created. The two of them teleported onto a ledge on the other side of the room, the gnome straddling the prone derro, whom the gnome quickly dispatched. Tort struggled to find targets in the darkness, while the monk pummeled a derro who’d manacled him.

Two of the derro, exhibiting curiously non-derrolike behavior, stayed on the ledge above, firing arrows at our heroes. The fighting prowess of FGA began to take its toll on the attackers, and suddenly the spider creature turned on its captors. With that, the two archer derro disappeared into the darkness, attempting to escape. But Tort activated the room’s control panel and turned on the lights, revealing them to be none other than rakshasa—terrifying, tiger-like assassins who are masters of illusory disguise. One of them managed to escape, but all other foes were struck down. As he died, one of the derro cackled hideously, “Wait until you see the sky!”

Our heroes caught their breath and questioned the spider creature, which told them it was from a land known as “Mashusekks” and that it had been abducted by the derro and subjected to all manor of torturous medical experiments at the hands of the mind flayers. It was able to give them some intelligence on other levels of the compound; that, in addition to Podsnik’s discovery of a control panel that granted him access to observation spheres posted in many areas, helped them assemble a map of their current level, as well as the one above them, which had to be accessed using strange, blue-glassed cylinders that extended from floor to ceiling in this very room.

Tort and Robelar stepped into two of these tubes, thought about moving upwards, and suddenly found themselves doing just that! Podsnik monitored their movements using the control panel and also noticed a number of creatures lurking in a nearby area full of alien vegetation. Podsnik and Garbondor, accompanied by the spider, joined Tort and Robelar to discuss next steps. Podsnik was adamant about proceeding north to confront the creatures, then equally adamant about proceeding south to free some prisoners he’d found using the observation spheres—although he faced his usual communicational hurdles in conveying this to the group. Tort seemed willing to trust the visions that the gods were granting Podsnik through the panels, and eventually the rest of the party agreed to proceed south.

They made their way to a cell block containing three prisoners. The first was a terrified dwarf who refused to leave his cell. The second was an utterly mad dark elf who urged Tort to “come and see the sky” with him. Such was this drow’s madness that Tort himself lost his own grip on reality, an affliction he then tried to pass onto Robelar. The stalwart paladin withstood the psychological assault and snapped Tort out of it as well. The third prisoner was a feral-looking human who exhibited wolfish characteristics. He identified himself as Barghast Battle Lord and agreed to accompany FGA as they sought a way back to their homeworld.

Barghast pointed them toward an adjacent room, which he identified as the armory. Our heroes discovered a number of curious items stored here, one of which Tort managed to detonate, which in turn caused one of their explosive metal spheres to detonate, which knocked a few of them briefly unconscious. Gnomes…

The heroes began to make their way to another conveyance tube they’d identified on their map, when suddenly they were plunged once more into darkness and set upon by foes. Clearly, other creatures—perhaps the uthilrid—were using the observation spheres as well, and they’d used them to plan this ambush in a narrow corridor!

A door next to Garbondor sprang open and he was dragged into a room by an enslaved half-troll. From behind three other doors poured more derro, the rakshasa archer that had eluded them previously, and a mindflayer!

Robelar struck down several derro, while Podsnik darted about the fray backstabbing opponents. This time aided by a scroll, Tort found plenty of targets for this curses. Their spider companion became entangled in derro manacles, while Barghast shapeshifted into wolf form and howled incessantly. Meanwhile, Garbondor was going toe-to-toe with the half-troll, and beating the snot out of the creature.

The paladin and the deep gnome worked together to outflank and dispatch the derro and the rakshasa, leaving only the fearsome mindflayer to deal with. The creature had already ripped out and devoured the brain of the spider, and now, with the odds now stacked against it, it suddenly retreated toward the conveyance tube from which it had come—but not before grabbing Tort with its tentacles and taking the gnome with it!

But the unearthly being had chosen the wrong prey this time. Tort suddenly teleported out of the fiend’s grasp, but instead of appearing somewhere behind it and nearer to his companions, the doughty warlock reappeared directly in front of the 8-foot-tall mindflayer, blocking its path to the conveyance tube! What thoughts passed through the mind of this grotesque being upon seeing its prey standing so boldly in its way—were they thoughts of surprise? outrage? hunger? mirth?—none shall ever know, for Tort called upon gods and powers even mindflayers dare not comprehend and blasted the creatures foul brains onto the metallic walls, floor and ceiling.

Armed with alien technology and perhaps a new perspective on how this strange compound’s features might aid or hinder them, our heroes moved ever onward into mystery and danger, seeking to uncover the true nature of the mindflayer scourge and find their way back home.

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