[GM:They had a plan, a nice simple plan. Now we’ve finished robbing the place, trigger the distraction and then RUN. I will remind you of this later! To give the players some incentive to play the Beholders as ruthless self-centered monsters, I offered an extra level to the character of the player whose Beholder was the last one standing.]
Mulan and Deckard were floating silently on the little magic carpet, with the last of the treasure lying between them. They started less than fifty feet from the exit to the cave and only 150 feet from reaching the ship.
Skizz, their crazy goblin warlock ally, cast dispel magic on the four captive beholders, releasing them from their petrification – in which they had each been trapped by Gravallax the Beholder Lord. Skizz had been enslaved by Gravallax for many years and knew the only chance they had of getting away was to release his captives and hope they could kill him.
As soon as the magic shimmered and faded, the Beholders snapped back into screaming fleshy reality,
Mulan cast invisibility on Skizz and his mechanical fly (because Skizz’s legs have wasted away and he is strapped into the saddle of this clockwork contraption). They need Skizz to complete the repairs on their ship, so are keen to get him out with them. The terrified goblin scuttles out into the tunnel, but then, unseen by the others he slows his mount to a stealthy crawl and directs the fly to crawl up the wall and then along the ceiling, hoping to avoid the notice of the beholders. He knows that Gravallax will see everything within his lair and that the lair itself has eyes and defences, he hopes that his new expendable allies will attract more attention than he does.
Mulan floats the carpet out of site behind a bend in the tunnel and tells Deckard to peek around the corner and keep an eye on things. [GM:Remember that PLAN I mentioned?]
The Beholder SENITNELAV took in the situation at once, he and the other captives had been vaguely aware of each other for the last few decades. Gravallax had used his magical Dreamstone to torment them in nightmares. This had prevented them from fully fading into stone. The torture had knocked out their ability to use their Central Eye and left them with imperfect control over which of their eye beams they could use. [GM: 50% chance they would fire a random eye beam rather than the one they wanted]. Normally any other beholder would be either a slave or a rival and target for instant destruction but Senitnelav muttered that they had better kill Gravallax first and should consider themselves in a temporary truce.
The Beholder CARPACCIO seemed to agree and floated out, blasting an approaching Troll with a Charm ray, totally dominating the creature for the next hour. “Kill Gravallax” he hissed.
THE ULTIMATE BEHOLDER, for that was the only name it allowed, floated free of the chamber next, blasting a second troll with a petrification ray.
Finally the beholder, COPRAPHAGE floated free and joined the fray.
Gravallax approached, enraged by the betrayal of Skizz (apparently fully aware of what was going on throughout his lair). He seemed to radiate a wave of wild magic, much stronger than the one he regularly pulsed every hour. Skizz had protected the heroes from this effect, but the over-dose of the effect threatened to overwhelm his spell. [GM: they got Advantage on the save].
All the people and monsters with some spell-casting ability suffered a kind of magical surge with chaotic effects. Senitnelav swelled up to a huge size, struggling to squeeze through the narrow tunnels. Carpaccio began to exude bubbles, showing his innermost thoughts in a chaotic pattern of random images. Similar chaotic effects plagued the heroes who remained aboard the hammer-ship, waiting for their friends to come running out, so they could cast off and get away to safety.
Then an eyestalk emerged from the floor of the landing pad area. It used a telekinetic eyebeam to trigger the release of the two undead monstrosities in the covered cages. These were zombie-bird-men (half man, half vulture, and all rotten worm-infested corpse). They began squawking and flapping towards the ship.
Clayton fired the first of the forward cannon – for a moment a spark leaped from the gun towards the powder box, but it didn’t blow them to pieces [GM: first roll of the night was a 1, which would cause a black-powder mishap, but Clayton has the Lucky Feat and used it to re-roll!]. The cannon smashed into the first of the flying zombies but amazingly only half killed it. The disbelieving ranger stepped to the next gun and triggered that too, smashing the injured monster to pieces.
The second one flew to the ship and began clawing at Clayton, scattering wriggling infected worms all over the prow. He pulled his rapier to defend himself and ordered the red orcs Staines and Shebb to drag the stoned beholder from the prow and toss it off the back of the ship – if one of the other beholders emerged and flickered its anti-magic across the creature, it would pop back to life and was too dangerous to risk.
Jock, now a gnome because of an unfortunate earlier incident with the wild magic surges managed to fire a ballista into the zombie but it wasn’t as effective as the cannon. He scampered across to the second ballista but before he could fire it, he felt the familiar spasm of wild magic overwhelm him and he died screaming AGAIN. [GM:he will wake in an hour in another new body]
Abraham the Inquisitor was flying the ship and for some reason, decide to float the ship further towards the lair, unknowingly pushing it within the range of the Lair’s eye beam attacks. Soon there were eyestalks popping up all over the place and firing blasts.
In the lair, Mulan and Deckard continued to watch from hiding as the Beholder floated about balsting Gravallax and the Trolls and finally each other! [GM:Reminder – after about 4 rounds they had travelled about 20 feet – either of these rogues could have reached the ship in one round if they had stuck to the PLAN!]
Carpaccio managed to blast Gravallax a couple of times, doing a lot of damage and dragging the monster closer with his telekinesis. One of the magical surges re-activated Carpaccio’s anti-magic central eye, but before he could use it, “The Ultimate Beholder” put him to sleep with an eye beam of his own, fired as an attack of opportunity when Carpaccio moved away.
Copraphage managed to get a few more hits onto Gravallax and then tried to attack one of his fellows too. Senitnelav managed to paralyse “The Ultimate Beholder” and then used telekinesis to smash Copraphage into TUB’s paralysed form before charming him and ordering him to go outside and deal with any threats out there.
Unseen, but just heard, Skizz was blasted by an eye stalk emerging from the ceiling. The invisible goblin was turned to stone, but his mount continued to crawl along the ceiling. Mulan eventually followed and groping about, managed to unstrap invisible Skizz from the invisible fly and carry him to the ship.
Abraham and his Skeletal Warriors managed to finish off the zombie-bird-man before its worms could infect Clayton (which would have turned him into another worm-infested-zombie within moments).
When Copraphage floated out onto the landing pad, Clayton shot him with a massive cannon hit, almost killing him. But then Copraphage managed to dominate him and ordered him to kill Deckard (as the only character close to Clayton on the ship).
[GM: this was an amusing chain of events as Senitnelav and Clayton were played by the same player, so Senitnelav sent his charmed beholder out, knowing that Clayton was ready with another cannon at point blank range. Also Copraphage and Deckard were played by the same player, so Senitnelav (played by Cookie) charmed Copraphage (played by Frank), who then charmed Clayton (played by Cookie) and ordered him to kill Deckard (played by Frank)!]
Not knowing exactly what was going on in there, Abraham sent his two Skeletal Warriors back inside with orders to “Kill Gravallax” and then navigated the ship away from the asteroid.
Sadly, for the Skeletal Warriors of Mortus, Gravallax was killed before they got there and, without further orders they soon fell prey to the victorious Senitnelav who swiftly re-stoned the sleeping, paralysed and charmed beholders and cowed any remaining trolls and goblins into submission.
An hour or so later, Jock returned to life in the body of a mountain dwarf.
The next day, Abraham will be able to dispel the petrification of Skizz and set him about repairing the hammer ship.
Their plan is to exit the Chaos Portal via the other side – going to “god knows where, but it is probably safer than anywhere we’ve already been!”.
Clayton assured Staines and Shebb that he still intends to fly the ship after Torkas – Lord of Storms, but they probably have a few more ordeals to overcome before they are worthy of an audience with the god.
It occurred to them as they floated away with a massive haul of treasure, that they should have brought some of those vials of blood so that they could use the Dreamstone to communicate with Gravallax’s contact on the Rock of Braal to find out whether it had fallen to the attacks of the Vorandan Invasion Fleet.
They left behind two Helms and Starwhal horn and bones on the asteroid – items they had traded with Gravallax in exchange for him helping to fix their ship. There was also the broken helm of Prince G’Vrain’s dragonfly mini-ship.
Apart from that, and the few items Gravallax had on him, they cleaned out the entire base. If only Deckard had waited a few more days the ship would have been fixed too, but who knows if the same opportunity would have arisen again.
Somewhere, out there, is a Vorandan invasion fleet, an endlessly tumbling beholder statue, Senitnelav the Beholder (who will want his Staff of Power back and Gravallax’s Dreamstone), a missing storm god, a Starwhal sent to investigate Voranda Prime to look for hundreds of dead infant Starwhals and some Githyanki Knights who will have tortured the secret of the Hammer Ship out of their captives by now and will, most likely, be hunting for them.
All-in-all, not a bad couple of months work.