Your regularly scheduled introductory stuff
(This is literally just a copy-paste by now, you can skip it if you’ve read any of my previous QC stories)
The following story is based upon the DnD adventures of @Racie02, @Marendex_T17, @Political_Slime, @Ranaki_Pakewa, @BeefJStag, someone who doesn’t have a boards account (I’ll call him TB), and their DM, @Middlefingerstudios. It was transcribed by me, with help from Racie. Any inaccuracies are due to her memory or creative liberties I took to adapt the story.
Jeszin = barbarian half-elf = Racie02
Mef Darr = dwarven ranger = Political_Slime
Stagro = tiefling bard = BeefJStag
Tepec = lizardfolk fighter = Ranaki_Pakewa
Dromon = warforged paladin = Marendex_T17
Tiwin Beewin = goblin fighter = TB
End introductory stuff
You know that feeling when you drop something fragile, and it seems to fall in slow motion as you watch it fall, knowing that when it hits the ground it will shatter into a million pieces and there’s nothing you can do? Well, now imagine that object is invisible; you can’t see it falling, yet you know it is, and it seems to take an eternity to fall. After a few microseconds that feel like minutes, since you can’t see the thing you dropped, it seems like it didn’t hit the ground, and even though you know it’s inevitably going to, you instinctually relax, your perception of time returns to normal… and then you hear it hit the ground.
Only, instead of something shattering, one of the most powerful monsters in the world suddenly knows where you are. And now he’s probably going to kill you, all because you dropped your pen.
But I should probably start at the beginning.
Hi, my name is Mef Darr, son of Mref Darr, of the house Darr of Nal Garuhm. But you might’ve already known that. My friends and I (we call ourselves the Quentiam Coetus) are the heroes of the land, freeing it from the four super-powerful bad guys known as the Wings of Tiamat and their armies. In the past week or so, we’ve eliminated two of them, after two enormous battles where
a few all of us nearly died, and I declared that it was time for a break, a few days where we didn’t plunge into situations of mortal peril every five minutes.
As you might have guessed by the start of this story, that didn’t happen. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our plan was to go to this island of gnomes, a highly secretive place that no one in the rest of the world knew much about. We thought it might have some information on the location of Vestiges, these super-weapons that we’re looking for that can help us fight the Wings… it’s a long story, one I should probably tell at some point, but it’s not important here. My point is, that’s what we were going to do when we initially set out on our journey. And we’ll still do it–if we can survive the next few minutes.
Anyway, since none of us have ever been to Gnomeland before, our teleporter, Stagro, couldn’t teleport us straight there. Not without risk of something going wrong, like accidentally teleporting into the ocean or something. I hate the ocean, have I told you that? The ocean killed me once. I got better. Long story. So instead, Stagro teleported us to another island near it, which just so happened to be his own home island, the isle of Wongaibon. From there, we could take a boat to gnomeland.
If you’ve never teleported before, then you’ve never seen the shocked looks on people’s faces when you suddenly appear in their midst. (At least we don’t have a demon head as tall as Dromon this time–another long story). Then their shock passes and they point weapons at you. That’s not quite as fun.
Though, of all the people we’ve had point weapons at us, these guys might’ve been the least threatening. Their weapons and armor looked like they had been made hundreds of years ago and never refurbished, like they might break if someone casually flicked them. Many of them didn’t even have swords, only sticks. I saw one guy notch an arrow in his bow and pulled it ready, only for the string to just snap. I doubted these guys had ever seen actual combat. Still, they made a credible show of being able to fight as they surrounded us.
“Who are you?” one of the guards surrounding us demanded. “Where did you come from?”
Stagro stepped forward, holding his hands up. “Wait! We come in peace!”
The guard hesitated, a look of recognition slowly coming to his face. “Stagro Wallaburra?”
“Yeah, it’s me,” our tiefling compatriot replied. “These here are my friends. We’re just passing through, don’t worry.” The guards visibly relaxed upon recognizing Stagro.
“Good to see you again,” one of the guards said. “Be careful out there, mate. People here are a bit riled up. Well, they’re always riled up, but more so than usual. Some guy purchased the temple of Melora recently and has been keeping everyone else away.” Melora; that’s the goddess of the wilderness, if I remember right.
“The government actually gave it to him?” Stagro said.
“Well, he offered them a lot of money,” the guard responded. “Only time the government gets anything done, is when there’s money involved; otherwise, they can’t wipe their own butts to save their own… butts. Yeah, that analogy came out kinda weird.”
“So long as he isn’t planning on doing any gem mining there.” This came from Tiwin, our goblin strategist/ranger, who also happens to own his own gem mining company.
“Actually, that’s supposedly what he bought it for,” the guard responded. (I should’ve gotten this guy’s name, so I could call him something besides ‘the guard’)
“Wait, what?!” Tiwin exclaimed. “Who is this guy?”
“Heard his name was Amir Omar,” said Stagro’s associate.
“Never heard of him,” Tiwin muttered. He looked to the rest of us. “You guys know this guy?” We all shook our heads.
“Well, now I have to check this out,” Tiwin said. “Which way to this temple?”
“Hold up,” I said. “This is Stagro’s homeland; we should follow his lead while we’re here.” We looked to Stagro.
“Yeah, we’re checking this out,” Stagro said. “We’re not going to let someone just waltz in here and take our sacred land. Let’s go have a talk to this Omar guy.”
As Stagro led the way to the temple of Melora, I decided to get some context for our little quest. “So, what’s the significance of this temple, anyway?”
Stagro thought for a moment. “Well, to be honest, I don’t know all the details, but apparently, Melora put up some kind of enchantment on the land, keeping it lush and green, as opposed to this.” Stagro gestured at the rocky, barren desert we were walking through.
“And that’s where the temple is?” I guessed.
Stagro nodded and pointed up ahead. Now I could see it: on the horizon, the dry brown and red of the rocky desert was beginning to give way to a strip of green. But standing right on the edge of that strip of green was a wall of people.
As we got closer, I saw that these guys were different from the ones we’d encountered back at Stagro’s village. For one, there were no tieflings to be seen. Their armor and weapons also looked new, shining in the sunlight, like they were just forged yesterday. I doubted these weapons had ever seen any combat; actually, looking at the people wielding them, I wasn’t sure if they’d ever seen much combat either.
I was beginning to put the pieces together. This Omar guy had evidently hired anyone who could carry a sword to guard this palace, regardless of whether they were actually capable of any combat. Of course, he probably expected that the only thing he’d need to keep away would be rowdy natives, and considering what we’d seen of the natives and their armaments, these guys would probably do a good job. Of course, there’s no way they could stop us, if we wanted to enter… but I wasn’t entirely sure if we wanted to enter quite yet. There was no proof that this Omar guy was up to anything bad (except of course desecrating sacred land, but it was sacred land he legally owned now).
In the distance, I could see the temple: a lone building in the middle of a field of green grass, standing in stark contrast to the red and brown sand and rock everywhere else.
As we approached, the guards pointed their weapons at us. “I’m sorry, you can’t go in here,” one of them said.
We all stopped, except for Stagro, who stepped forward. “Hello, lads, what brings you here?” he said.
“Sorry, we can’t allow you to enter,” one of the guards said, ignoring Stagro’s question.
“Why? What’s going on here?”
“Amir Omar has taken this land for a mining operation.”
“What is he mining for?”
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
“Could I talk to this Omar guy?”
“I can’t take you to him.”
“All right. What if I wait out here? When will he come out?”
“He’ll come out when the project is finished.”
“And when will that be?”
“I don’t know.”
“Say, what is your name, anyway?”
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
Wow, he couldn’t even tell us his name? These guys were running a very tight ship here. Seeing that Stagro was getting nowhere, I decided to try a different approach. I walked up to the guards and adopted my favorite ‘travelling merchant’ accent.
“Hello there! My name is Sef Marr. I am a reputable gem dealer, and I’d like to talk to your boss about making a trade deal.”
The guard just shook his head. “No one is allowed in.”
“I assure you, Omar will be quite interested in what I have to offer,” I added, offering my best smile. The guards weren’t fazed.
I was ready to continue this tactic, but Stagro grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the rest of the team. We all huddled together, out of earshot of the guards.
“I’ll wager a good amount of gold that Omar’s not actually mining for gems,” Stagro said. “He’s up to something.”
Jeszin, our half-elf barbarian, chimed in. “You said Melora enchanted this area, right? What if there’s a physical object enchanting it, and this Omar guy is looking for it?”
“That could be the case,” Stagro agreed.
Tiwin was shuffling around in his bag; he pulled out a small blanket and wrapped it up into a rough approximation of himself. Then he looked up to Dromon and said “hold me.” Dromon obliged, picking up the little goblin. Then, Tiwin placed his blanket creation into Dromon’s arms… and vanished. He had gone invisible. To the guards standing nearby, it would appear that Dromon was still holding the blanket-wrapped goblin. We heard Tiwin’s voice saying “I’ll be right back,” and then he was gone. He had decided to sneak into the temple and see what was up.
A few minutes passed, then I suddenly remembered something. You know those big battles I mentioned where we all almost died? Well, Tiwin actually had died, and we had only managed to bring him back to life yesterday. And he hadn’t slept at all last night. He had had no chance to recover, and was still just off of death’s doorstep. I couldn’t let him go in there by himself, and there was only one other member of our party who could go invisible: me.
But I couldn’t just go invisible in view of the guards; they’d know something was up. I gestured for the others to follow, and we gathered behind a rocky outcropping, out of sight of the guards. Then I cast invisibility upon myself, and followed Tiwin toward the temple.
Inside the temple, I found… nothing. No sign of Tiwin, no guards, no gem mining, no anything. I looked like a normal temple to Melora should look like: lots of beautiful plants, a few depictions of Melora on the walls, but no people in sight.
Still, even though I didn’t see anyone, I didn’t dare drop my invisibility or make any excess noise. I whispered Tiwin’s name as loud as I dared a few times, but got no response.
As I was about to give up and head back, though, I stumbled upon the secret I was looking for. And I mean literally stumbled; I was walking along the walls with my boots of spider-climb, and suddenly found myself falling through the wall, or rather the illusion made to look like a wall.
Y’know, the other members of my party made fun of my boots of spider-climb and my tendency to climb every wall I see. But who’s laughing now, huh? Who just discovered a secret entrance because he was walking along the walls, huh?
Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
Anyway, past the fake wall, I found a tunnel going down into the dark. It certainly didn’t look like any gem mining tunnel I’d ever seen, though, and I certainly didn’t see any gems. Or people, for that matter. Crawling along the wall, and being careful of any more fake walls, I made my way down the tunnel.
A few feet in, four guards appeared in niches along the walls. Again, I mean that literally – one moment, they weren’t there, and then they were suddenly visible. Someone had cast a spell preventing anyone from seeing these guys until they were practically right on top of them.
These guys weren’t like the guys up top, either. Their armor and weapons were scratched and dented from many battles, and they looked much more comfortable with it. These guys knew how to fight, I could tell.
Then, at last, I came to the end of the tunnel. There weren’t any drills or mining tools here, no miners chipping away at the rock with picks and shovels. There were only two guys, blasting away at the rock using magic, their powers turning the rock to dust as they carved out this tunnel.
One of them seemed almost like your stereotypical priest: pale, red hair that was slightly balding, a bit rounder, with black and silver robes. He looked like the kind of guy you’d see greeting children at a church, or even a temple. Maybe he worked at the temple up above, perhaps?
But the other… he was tall, very tall. I know I’m a dwarf, and everyone’s tall to me, but this guy looked to be a good seven feet. He was entirely bald, with the symbol for necromancy tattooed on the back of his head. His robes were a dark purple, and his eyes glowed slightly. Every aspect of him seemed to be saying ‘very powerful sorcerer’.
Suddenly, my mind flashed back to the fall of Slada. No one could miss the giant red dragon, black dragon, and blue pit fiend flying around, wreaking havoc, but there was a fourth being there. I’d only caught a glimpse of him, from far away: a mysterious sorcerer, flying around and casting magic, adding to the chaos. The attack had started with giant meteors raining from the sky, and it seemed quite likely that they had been launched by this mysterious sorcerer. Stagro and Dromon had found out the guy’s name some time after: Koronack. Could this be him?
Whoever he was, he was looking for something, him and his pal, and it certainly wasn’t any gem. At one point, Koronack muttered “we’re getting close, I can feel it.”
I watched them for a while, but they didn’t say much. Their progress was slow, but noticeable. But I was running out of time: invisibility only lasts for an hour, and while there was nothing preventing me from casting it again, for at least a moment, I would be visible. When that happened, I didn’t want to be standing next to one of the most powerful and villainous sorcerers in the world.
But first… I still wasn’t certain this guy was Koronack. None of us knew what Koronack looked like. But surely someone did; perhaps if I sketched a picture of him, so I could show people on the surface what he looked like?
I pulled out a paper and a quill, and attempted to draw. But drawing on a piece of paper you can’t see, with a pen you can’t see, held in a hand you can’t see, is harder than it sounds. And that’s when it happened: I dropped the pen.
Unseen by Mef Darr, Tiwin was also in the tunnel, watching the two sorcerers mine, unaware that Mef Darr had followed him. His own invisibility was about to run out soon, and he was just about to leave when he heard the slight tick of something hitting the floor.
The two sorcerers whirled around simultaneously. “Someone’s here.”
Tiwin had no idea what had made that noise, and he wasn’t sticking around to find out. Not with two powerful sorcerers looking for him. As fast as he could go, Tiwin flew back toward the exit, unaware that he had left Mef Darr alone…
And so, I found myself in the worst situation I could imagine: alone, deep underground, and under attack by two sorcerers and four guards. I tried to run, but one of the sorcerers cast dispel magic upon me, and my invisibility dropped. Now they could see me.
“Hey guys,” I said to the two sorcerers. “My name is Sef Marr; I’m a gem trader, and I was wondering if we could make a deal?” I said. Then I threw up my invisibility again and tried to run.
“I know that one,” the purple-cloaked sorcerer. “I’ve seen him before. He’s part of a little band of ‘heroes’. Where there’s one, there’s usually more.”
Someone who knew of our group, and had seen us before? That settled it: this guy was definitely Koronack. The good news: fighting Koronack was the next item on ‘Mef Darr’s 5-step plan to save the world’, and now we knew where he was. The bad news: I was the only one here to fight him, and he, his sorcerer buddy, and their four elite guards were about to kill me. The others up above didn’t even know Koronack was here, and Tiwin… I didn’t know where he went, but if he was smart, and he is, he was probably long gone.
Suddenly, I remembered a certain item we’d picked up on our last adventure: the Horn of Silent Alarm. As I ran and dodged attacks from my enemies, I put the horn to my lips, calling to one of my allies up above…
On the surface, Dromon heard a sudden ringing in his head. Somehow, he knew what it was: a call for help from Mef Darr. “Mef Darr’s in trouble.”
Stagro thought fast. He only had one more teleport spell, and he wanted to save it for a quick escape, if needed. There was another way to get in, but he could only bring one person along. Grabbing Dromon, Stagro cast Dimension Door, teleporting into the temple.
Seeing her allies vanish, Jeszin wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but figured it was time for battle. Grabbing her battle axe, she charged toward the guards surrounding the palace grounds. Tepec, the last member of the party, had no idea what was happening, but opted to follow Jeszin rather than stay here alone.
Suddenly, Jeszin heard a voice in her head, coming from her axe. No, don’t waste our power on these pathetic warriors. Jeszin already knew her axe was alive, and wanted her to use it against the most powerful person she could find. Not that she minded; fighting the most powerful person she could find was Jeszin’s whole goal in life anyway. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “We’re not fighting them. We’re headed straight for the big threat.”
By the time the guards could react, Jeszin had bolted past them, running toward the temple. Tepec wasn’t quite as fast, and quickly fell behind. A few of the guards pursued the two, while the rest fired at Tepec, but the lizardfolk’s natural armor blocked most of their arrows as he followed Jeszin toward the temple.
I had a way out of this situation. If I could just manage to cast invisibility on myself and then cast pass-without-trace, I could disappear, and it would be all but impossible for these guys to follow me. The problem was, every time I cast invisibility, I got hit by an attack, or one of the sorcerers cast dispel magic, and my invisibility fell before I could cast pass-without-trace. The constant attacks were beginning to wear me down, and I was beginning to feel like this might be it. I was about to die.
Suddenly, like a savior sent by the gods, Tiwin appeared before me. He cast invisibility upon me, giving me the opportunity I needed, and I cast pass-without-trace. Every sound and sight I made now was hidden from detection. I was gone. So was Tiwin, flying back toward the exit.
Behind me, I heard a call of “find them!” and the sounds of multiple people running down the tunnel. I kept running, reaching the fake wall at the entrance and running through it.
On the other side, I saw Dromon and Stagro standing there, ready for battle. “Guys, it’s me!” I called to them, still invisible, and hid behind them. Moments later, the four guards charged through the wall, only to run into the attacks from Dromon and Stagro. Caught by surprise, they fell back.
Jeszin charged into the room, her axe held up, ready for battle. “Where’s the big guy?”
“What big guy?” Dromon responded, clashing swords with one of the guards.
“C’mon, there’s always a big guy,” Jeszin stated matter-of-factly.
Stagro and Dromon swiftly felled the four guards. “Everyone get together!” Stagro called, and the four of us got together. Tiwin flew out of a tree and joined us, and I could see Tepec running toward the temple as well, roughly twenty guards right on his tail (I don’t mean that one literally).
From the fake wall, a head popped out. It was one of the sorcerers. He glanced at us, muttered something, and then vanished into the fake wall.
“It’s Koronack!” Tiwin shouted. “Let’s go!”
Koronack? Jeszin knew that name. He was one of the wings of Tiamat, one of the most powerful people in the world. Exactly what she was looking for. Jeszin charged toward the wall she’d seen the head come out of.
The other members cried out, trying to get her to stop, but it was too late. Stagro watched in horror as she moved away from the rest of the group. He’d already cast teleport, set to activate when Tepec got in range. But now Jeszin had moved out of range. If she didn’t come back before Tepec got close enough, the teleport would activate, sending the group to safety… and leaving Jeszin behind.
On some level, Jeszin knew what Stagro’s plan was. But that wasn’t on her mind right now. Her only thought was that one of the most powerful enemies she could face was on the other side of that wall, and she was going to face him. Even if she had realized that she might be left alone to fight him, she might still have gone in.
As she stepped through the illusion wall, she found herself inches away from the startled face of a purple-hooded sorcerer she guessed must be Koronack. She swung her axe, missing the first swing as he sidestepped, then slamming the axe into him.
Then, for a moment, she stopped to think logically. The others couldn’t see him, thanks to the fake wall. In order for them to be able to attack Koronack, she had to bring him through the wall. So she backed away from the sorcerer, unknowingly stepping into range of Stagro’s teleport as she did so.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Jeszin fall back toward us. I glanced back toward Tepec, who had just moved into range himself. Stagro’s teleport began to activate. We were home free.
Then I glanced back toward the fake wall, and I saw a sight that chilled my soul. Koronack had stepped through, and he had his hand up, energy crackling around it, a spell that I recognized from the innumerable times I’d seen Stagro cast it: counterspell. He was trying to stop our teleport, and I knew Stagro only had enough power left for one more teleport. If it failed, we’d be stuck here.
As I watched, Stagro’s power enveloped us. At the same time, Koronack’s power blasted toward us. And then… we were gone, soaring through space, heading toward – actually, I wasn’t sure where Stagro was teleporting us toward. Honestly, I’d take anywhere else at this point; even the ocean might be preferable. Maybe.
Jeszin cried out in frustration, cut off from her prey, just as we arrived at our destination… a house. Stagro had brought us to his uncle’s house back at the village. Here we would be able to hide out and recover, until we were ready to move again.
After Stagro explained to his uncle who we were, and that we’d be staying here for the night, Jeszin turned to us. Her eyes still held the spark of combat.
“So,” she said. “What’s our plan?”
######Some final notes: canonically, Koronack wasn’t able to fire that counterspell at the end at all, since he’d already used his reaction that round. But in the actual session, the DM didn’t remember this initially, and had him roll for a counterspell (and the DM rolled a 1, so it failed). I wrote the scene with him firing the counterspell, though, simply because it made for a more intense scene.~W12~