will be wanted within two paragraphs.Chapter Forty: Use of Weapons
Aruvixa Roreril, recently ascended matron mother of House Roreril, had given a very simple command: annihilate House Ayaur. She gave no reason for the order, but everyone knew what it was that she wanted. She wanted to do two things. The first was to demonstrate to all of the other clans that House Roreril was in no way weakened by overthrow of the previous matron. The second was to show off the acquisition that had allowed her ascension.
The quiet, eternal twilight of Menzoberranzan was interrupted by a low, hauntingly plaintive whistling, soon accompanied by a strange melody that then morphed into an unusual song, chanted by many male voices all at once.
“Wer zu Lebzeit gut auf Erden
wird nach dem Tod ein Engel werden
den Blick gen Himmel fragst du dann
warum man sie nicht sehen kann”
A serene female voice, one that could only be attributed to a female drow of considerable skill, then joined in.
“Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein”
The choir then picked up again, singing from somewhere within the shadows in the unknown language.
“Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein
Sie leben hinterm Sonnenschein
getrennt von uns unendlich weit
sie müssen sich an Sterne krallen (ganz fest
damit sie nicht vom Himmel fallen
Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein”
Those on the wall had brought forward a mage capable of translating any language via arcane means and thus the last few refrains of the strange song were intelligible.
“God knows I don't want to be an angel
Only once the clouds have gone to sleep
can you see us in the sky
we are afraid and alone
God knows I don't want to be an angel”
Right as the song was ending did the source become visible, a strange creature that was its own choir, dozens of faces all mashed over one another competing for space, all singing in harmony except for two faces, one a drow woman who got all of the female lines in the song, the other a central face that did the accompanying whistling.
The faces then all disappeared except for the whistling one that smiled mournfully and said, “Fire.”
There was a short, sharp explosive bang that hurt the sensitive ears of the drow and bedazzled their even more sensitive eyes. A few seconds later there was a whistling sound, but much harder and more metallic than the soft song of the strange creature, which was now rushing along the dead zone towards the wall.
The whistling ended when the source plunged through the roof of the gatehouse and down into the sculpted stone over the gate itself. Extremely poor quality control actually helped with what the small device had intended, as the detonator failed to go off after first hitting the roof, but when it struck the floor of the gatehouse it did go off.
The gatehouse to House Ayaur stronghold exploded in a shower of high velocity rock shrapnel that scythed into the troops on alert along the wall and in the courtyard around the gate. The wizard brought forward to try and understand the song keeled over dead, a single piece of stone no bigger than a thumbnail having passed through his head and turned his brains to bloody soup. The captain of the guard was in the gatehouse at the moment of impact, and in a single, inglorious instant House Ayaur lost its greatest warrior.
Vaulting onto the wall in a single instant, Lars ripped apart the closest two warriors as they tried to regain their feet after the blast. He then pulled a long harpoon made of bone out of his arm, an act that did not hurt him any, before opening up his mouth wide to reveal the squirming tentacles and pointed shark teeth within and rushed the still confused and disoriented defenders further along the wall.
Lars wasn’t a fighter, wasn’t a warrior daemon, but every daemon had within it the spark of bloodlust and the instinctive drive to kill that made them so dangerous, and of course Lars had the advantage that he was, quite simply put, an outside context problem for the drow. They needed specialized weaponry and spells to properly harm him, which they did not have.
Already the scaling hooks were up, clinging to the parapet and bringing with them the soldiers of House Roreril. With the gatehouse and the stairs leading from the courtyard and the stairs on that side reduced to rubble, the troops scaling the walls only had to worry about an attack from one direction. And that direction was the one Lars was covering.
Reaching the stop of the wall, the drow soldiers brought their heavy shields off their backs and began to form up into a tight line. The drow predilection for two weapon fighting was fine for skirmishing and raiding, but in the tight, close confines of a siege, heavy shields and short, stabbing weapons was preferable. It had taken Lars a bit to convince Aruvixa to get all of her shield fighters into one formation, but it would hopefully pay off.
Standing atop the corpses of several warriors, the gatehouse rubble in the background, and a wall of steel shields and swords forming up behind him, Lars was a red splattered, yellow coloured daemon of the deep, freezing oceans, salt and sea ice accumulating on flat surfaces around him as he drew on increasingly large amounts of energy to enhance his strength.
As one the lamprey maws that covered his mouth tentacles all began squealing. That was enough for the average soldier to break and run, but a few of the more skilled ones decided to hold their ground.
For a brief moment it looked like their decision to stay had paid off as a bolt of lightning lanced out to crash into the line of troops, only for it to fizzle at the last moment, countered by the Roreril wizards on standby to stop just that sort of tactic from working.
Turning away from the warriors, Lars leapt off the wall and hurled his harpoon at the wizard that had fired the lightning bolt, his invisibility now dropped. The Warp stuff that made up the harpoon punched through the drow’s magical defences and impaled him through the stomach. Sending a psychic signal to the weapon, which was really part of him anyway, Lars caused the harpoon to thrash about and sprout dozens of spikes that ripped apart internal organs, causing the flying mage to drop to the ground, dead.
Spying a group of slaves running about in a panic, Lars charged into their midst and dropped his eldritch form, assuming one of his human shapes and changing his ‘clothing’ to match what the slaves were wearing. He had two objectives. The first was to ensure that the wall was taken. From the sounds of evisceration going on, that was complete now. His second objective was to kill, or at least distract, the matron mother.
Running about, Lars made it to an inner door where one a female cleric from the House Ayaur was exiting angrily. Pointing at him, she demanded, “Iblith! What is going on?”
“Highest I… oh fuck it,” Lars noted as he got to within a arms length of the priestess and grabbed her by the face, turning his fingers into probing tentacles that penetrated her mouth, nose, and eyes. After a few moments of wet crunching, Lars dissolved himself away and displaced the fleshy remnants of the priestess with the sick noise of wetly raw meat being forced through a colander by an industrial press.
When it was all over, the priestess stood exactly where she had been in exactly the same clothing, only there was about a hundred extra pounds of blood and finely ground meat and bones on the floor, soaking into the armour and clothing. Making sure to get the mace and his face nicely wet, by pounding the mortal remains of the drow he had eaten, Lars then set off for the matron mother.
He passed through their ranks without suspicion, knowing exactly where to go and exactly what to say, because for all intents and purposes he was Mihix Ayaur, although the part of her that was not associated with such memories was currently tied up and being vivisected, integrated into the overall whole that was Lars.
Even Aruvixa’s deceased sister Orebe had joined in, for she had ceased to exist as an individual, every last shred of her soul consumed by Lars and transformed into just a piece of the greater whole. Not that it took much for a drow to want to inflict pain upon another.
Passing through the guards manning the throne room, Lars in the guise of Mihix knelt before the matron mother and said, “Highest, I come bearing news of the fighting.”
The matron mother of House Ayaur was a canny old crone, and while her house was not very high up, it had been slowly climbing the ranks for the past four centuries under her guidance. As such, even in the midst of battle, especially in the midst of battle, she would not drop her guard to one of her children. Looking at the blood soaked attire, she asked suspiciously, “It goes well?”
“The enemy are but carrion before me highest, but their numbers are sufficient that I have already exhausted today’s boons from the goddess. Last I saw before coming here to inform you of the situation, the attackers had taken the southern wall,” Lars reported. All of it truthful as well.
“And the reports of some strange magic that breached the wards of the gatehouse?” The matron asked.
“I did not see it in use, but the gatehouse was brought down highest,” Lars replied. The thing about mortars was that wards that shielded against magical attack were useless against high explosives.
The other thing about mortars was that so far they only had one shell, and they had used that to blow up the gatehouse. A sustained bombardment would have been nice.
“This does not bode well. It would seem that we must call in our favour early. Cael’al, accompany Mihix and repel the invaders,” the matron commanded, causing an enormous brute to emerge from the shadows behind the throne.And
that would be a hezrou.
The enormous, hulking demon looked somewhat like a cross between an ape and a toad, and actually had the sort of mental defences that would allow for defence against Lars’ psychic attacks, along with the brute physical strength to simply smash him flat. This called for drastic measures. Lars had been really hoping not to have to use this…
Turning, he extruded what he needed from out of his body while he said, “Of course highest. Come this way.”
The demon, however, was not fooled, and asked, “Wait… what’s that in your hand?”
Holding up the now armed grenade, Lars looked at it innocently and said, “Oh, this? Nothing.” He then tossed it at the demon while diving away.
Carrying the grenade had been a major bitch as, even in her massively depowered state, things that Skuld built carried a touch of the divine, which was itchy to Lars’ chaotic form. Of course, high velocity fragments of divinely crafted shrapnel made of cold forged iron hurt considerably
more than just carrying the damn thing.Especially
if you weren’t Lars.
The matron mother had just enough time to realize that her throat had a large hole in it before blood loss caused her to keel over and collapse. The hezrou on the other hand had taken the brunt of the blast, but was still quite alive if leaking ichor from dozens of wounds that refused to seal.
Abandoning the restrictive armour, Lars went into full on eldritch mode and leapt upon the demon’s back before it could recover. Unlike with mortals though, its flesh did not part easily to Lars’ claws. He drew upon more energy to strengthen his attacks, and he began to cut long gouges into the thick hide, and he sent his tentacles in deep to cause as much internal damage as possible.
Bellowing in anger, the hezrou reached up behind and grabbed onto Lars, who continued to claw and rake at the beast even as he was torn free. With a mighty heave, the demon slammed him into the floor, producing a crazed spider web pattern of cracks. Lars felt his form crumple and buckle, but he held on and continued to rip and tear and bite into the hand that held him until he sawed off the thumb in a shower of gore.
Bellowing, the hezrou retracted the wounded hand and slammed the opposite into Lars, who took the blow but grabbed on to the fist as it was retracted to start worrying that limb. Flinging him aside, the demon decided it had had enough and began to teleport away. Not standing for that, Lars snapped out a psychic tendril into the folding space-time and disrupted the teleport… messily.
Wiping the gore out of his eyes, not that he really needed his sight considering his other senses; Lars went over to the downed matron mother and ripped off her head so he could present it to Matron Aruvixa as proof of his service.
Also, walking out of the throne room with the head of the person the guards were supposed
to be protecting had a great way of demoralizing the defenders.
A few minutes later as the siege went into its final, bloody stage the drow leader of the assault, a particularly nasty war mage called Ilaam approached Lars and asked, “Demon, I understand that your senses are tuned to finding the living, correct?”
Lars nodded while sitting down, slowly digesting the Mihix more carefully now that he did not need her face as a ruse.
Ilaam then asked, “Could you then help us find the crèche so that we might ensure that House Ayaur well and truly ceases to exist?”
Within a day of Aruvixa’s ascension to the status of matron mother, she had realized Lars was much more valuable when he did things willingly rather than grudgingly, so she had started attempting to supply him with luxuries such as slaves and material goods. That had sort
of worked, in that Lars only accepted on Skuld’s behalf, as he quickly explained that his kind were sterile and technically genderless, thus he really had no interest in a harem of imported slaves. However, he didn’t exactly want to leave those handed over to him as slaves to the drow, so he began accepting the gifts given to him on Skuld’s behalf.
Skuld wasn’t exactly happy either when Lars showed up with a bunch of frightened, naked women of various species bound in chains, but they had quickly figured out how they would do things. Skuld found shackles and manacles ‘unsightly’, so at her command everything but the slave collars were removed and the women were made her ‘handmaidens’. Although considering what had happened to all but two of them, ‘maidens’ wasn’t exactly the right term.
Lars would have sold his left nut, kidney, and lung and both eye teeth, while he was mortal at that, for one
freaking N2 mine. By the Warp, a MOAB would have probably done the trick in such a confined space.
The material goods he had received also quickly turned into things for Skuld, at first stuff to make her more comfortable, and then stuff to keep her from going insane with boredom and panic, which in Skuld’s case meant access to things she could build with.
After the first Skuld Bomb Aruvixa decided that maybe the hostage could be nearly as valuable as the creature she was controlling. Together Lars and Skuld had built the mortar and the grenade, using up three weeks worth of nearly non-stop work to make one shell and one grenade.
Aruvixa had also greatly rewarded them for their work in introducing the Underdark to ice cream, and made the acquisition of cream and sugar a top priority for raiding and trading. And then Lars had identified cocoa beans in a caravan of exotic foods.
Modern chocolate… in a decadent, female dominated society.
It was worth more than its weight in solid, clear, flawless diamond at current production rates. Nobles had been stabbed to death in the streets to get the precious substance. House Roreril’s coffers began to swell from the trade.
Chocolate ice cream was still in the experimental stages, but murder rates were already climbing over the rumours.
Thus Lars had attempted as best he could to insulate Skuld from the horrors around her, by giving her the challenge of trying to rebuild all the luxuries of home starting from a medieval basis. It wasn’t easy, but at least the alchemists had some relatively
purified chemicals for Skuld to work with when making explosives for Lars.
However, for Skuld, the illusion came crashing down when Lars walked in and instead of telling her whether or not the mortar or the grenade had worked properly, he just sort of sat down on one of the chairs with an utterly devastated look on his face.
Rushing over to him, Skuld asked in terror, “Did everything go alright?”
Lars looked up and said in a numb voice, “What? Oh… yes. Yes. The attack was completely successful. You’re safe. Matron Aruvixa will probably reward me again in fact.”
Skuld was quiet for a time, her guts disentangling from the knot they had been somewhat before she asked quietly, “Then why are you so upset?”
“Because I broke the biggest, most sacred rule of my people,” Lars said in an emotionless tone.
“That is?” Skuld asked, suddenly feeling very, very small.
“I hurt children,” Lars stated.
Skuld was very, very still until the trembling she felt overtook her and her knees gave way. What had happened? Had one of her weapons gone off in the wrong place? Oh god! Had…
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, it was me,” Lars explained. “I was ordered to hunt down where the enemy was hiding their children. At best, someone else would have found them. At worst, no one would have found them and they would have died from thirst or starvation, as they were hidden in a sealed room that they would have been unable to escape from. The drow have no compunctions against killing children.”
Lars lapsed into silence again while Skuld cried in horror at his story. She hated the drow already, which was why she had been so willing to make weapons to kill their kind, but she had not expected that sort of barbarity.
“Our most sacred commandments are to protect and care for children at all costs. I asked them what they were going to do. Some of the kids were to be taken and raised as members of this house. Most though were to be slaughtered then and there. I could not save them, not while the matron holds you hostage, so I did the only thing I could to protect them,” Lars said, signs of breakdown evident on his face.
“What… what… what did you do
?” Skuld asked in horror, dreading the words she knew were coming.
“I ate them. I fucking ate
them!” Lars cried out, breaking down into sobs. “I held their little bodies in my hands and I ripped out their souls!
me, but I did it!”
Intellectually, Skuld knew that Lars was a monster of the worst sort, but he was so kind and gentle most of the time that in the weeks they had been stuck here she had forgotten just the sort of damage he could do, just the sort of horrors he was capable of. And yet, despite the fact that he had done such an atrocious thing, the fact that he was clearly remorseful, clearly felt that he had picked the lesser of two evils meant while hating being forced into the choice indicated that he still had a human heart.
Lars was a total wreck now, blubbering on about how they were “Tiny sparks” and “I just wanted to save them”. Finally though Skuld managed to force her feet beneath her and she got on her feet and somehow worked up the courage to hug him. She said, “You’re not a bad person Lars, you didn’t digest them, right? So they’re still around.”
“No! That’s the worst part!” Lars bawled.
“What?” Skuld asked.
“Oh gods Skuld… I’ve been trying to figure out what to tell you for weeks now. Skuld, have you been feeling more aggressive and blood thirsty lately?” Lars asked, looking very, very small for a man who had just killed a hezrou in hand to hand combat a few hours ago.
“I’m surrounded by blood thirsty scumbag slaver elves; I think being a bit more of a bitch than you used to attribute to me isn’t much of a stretch,” Skuld replied firmly.
“See… that’s the thing, it’s not just that, and your language shows it. I’ve been worried since we talked back in that cave, but I’m about 95% certain now that when I hooked you up to this world’s magical field there may have been a tiny, accidental swap of soul material. For you, that would manifest in some… more daemonic proclivities. For me on the other hand… uh… boy, this is hard to say. If you don’t kill me your family certainly will,” Lars said while looking extraordinarily embarrassed and small.
“We agreed that no harm was done and you were just trying to… save…” Skuld began before the look on Lars’ face caused her to trail off.
“Skuld… my experience in Hell wasn’t good for me. I picked up a lot of negative emotions that I compacted into a tight ball of darkness, and it formed a little proto-daemon that I could have slowly digested… right up until the point where we swapped a little bit of our souls and the piece from you mixed with it. Skuld… I’m pregnant
, and technically, you’re the father
,” Lars explained, before adding on, “You have no idea how sorry I am about all of this.”
The look on Skuld’s face was indescribable and bordering on the non-Euclidean.
The multiverse exists to screw over Lars, in this case metaphorically literally!