Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by LadyTevar » 2017-06-22 02:47pm

The question now is whom Suyerric decides to take out his annoyance upon -- those who bound him, or those who he was told to kill. Or Both, by picking off the most powerful of each side. Or Neither, by simply quitting the field.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Esquire » 2017-06-22 06:57pm

If I were a demon lord just freed from his bindings, I'd start with the idiots who summoned me and go from there in order of apparent tastiness - but that might make things a little too tidy for Nalifan and company.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Grimnosh » 2017-06-23 09:56am

Great update, can't wait for more especially when there is a mighty demon lord just off the hook.
You know, its remarkably easy to feed an undead army if all you have are just enemies....

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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2018-10-05 07:04am

It took a moment for the enormity of the disaster to register for Tzerika. She saw, of course, the enchanted shaft strike down Uraszen and the subsequent explosion of cerulean flames. She raised her hand to shield her eyes from the searing light, which faded away in moments. The blackened corpse of the ground was indisputable evidence that the killing sorcery had been sufficient to overwhelm his defences.

Uraszen had been one of her senior mages and his loss was keenly felt as they had already suffered significant losses among the great mages of the tribes. For that reason she didn't immediately grasp the short term consequences of his death, namely the loss of control of a violent and cruel with an endless appetite for suffering and slightly less power than a demon lord.

It took her just a moment to realize how badly she was fucked when fire exploded in front of her. The cloud was huge and rose into the sky, the flames crimson and black that seemed to throw off more shadow than light. At least two junior wizards and a half dozen bodyguards were consumed by the conflagration.

The nightmare silhouette of Suyerric emerged from the flames, towering above the puny mortals who were his rightful prey. A few desperate spells shattered against him like glass careening into stone and a dismissal incantation just caused the mighty balor to halt in mid step. Then he advanced, leaving black flame in his wake.

He ignored those scrambling out of his path and raised his great blades. The demon summoners standing in their protective circles could not run without abandoning their protection, but their wards were proof even against a demon as mighty as he. The Khaduli knew that demon summoning was a dangerous business and were prepared for the potentially catastrophic failures that any error could produce, but some dangers were too terrible to truly prepare for.

Suyerric swept all before him with his incendiary gaze. Grass blackened and shriveled, hair curled and smoked, metal grew hot to the touch. Skin reddened and cracked. Flesh burned. Eyeballs boiled. Fat deflagrated. Two dozen human human torches ran screaming from his awful glory.

The wizards in their circles were not unharmed, as were those protected by strong enchantments, but that did not surprise the demon-general. The chaff had been blown away, leaving the nothing between him and the conjurers but their warding circles. The Khaduli workings were sound.

His raised his axes. Carved from the bones of a god from before Good and Evil had been matters of cosmic significance, they were almost unbearably powerful and very much not what the the specialized and meticulously crafted warding circles were designed to exclude. The wizards might as well have tried walling themselves behind dry paper.

He carved one Khaduli wizard diagonally from hip to shoulder and another he simply went from the crown of his head to his breast bone. Blood sprayed and smoked as it combusted in the open air. Blackened gore spewed over the withered grass, a grisly morass of smoking entrails and sizzling organs. The wizards closest to him ran, abandoning their circles. Some of the runners lost their grip on their demons. The dead had ceased to be masters of anything.

Suyerric grinned as he surveyed the glorious chaos. Already he could hear the mind voices of the lesser demons scream in triumph as they became free and the promises of pain and horror they made to those who had dared to bind them. The dance of ruin was widening, but there remained a few more obstacles to overcome before the lesson was driven home. The lesson being, of course, that man was not the master. Man was meat for the table, now and forever, and the most delectable to torments awaited those who overstepped.

Tzerika made a snap decision as Suyerric began to kill her mages. A demon as mighty as he was was unlikely to be swiftly stopped by any amount of magic less than that wielded by a god. Striking hard and fast, the winning tactics utilized in most wizard duels and which the thrice-cursed elf was an exemplar, would not be enough. Different tactics were needed here.

So her people were chopped and burned as she shouted out the initiators of a powerful protective spell, enveloping her in a canopy proof against siege weapons and chaos fire. Suyerric saw her, his eyes literally glowing with fiery malevolence. She began chanting a spell.

The balor leapt, clearing the burning bodies, to land and send the earth shaking. Tzerika almost lost control of her spell, but kept invoking. Divine weapons were raised and then came crashing down. The spell that could repel the flames of an ancient dragon trembled with the impact. The axes struck again and the protective spell popped like a soap bubble. The right hand axe was raised.

Tzerika shouted the last word of her spell. There was a blinding flash of light so intense that the seen by those who had the city walls between them and Tzerika. Suyerric was gone.

-----

Nalifan stood beneath the overhanging roof of an apothecary's shop. He had immediately gone to ground after throwing his bolt for while his hunters couldn't find his position by scrying they could trace the javelin's flight path. They were ready and eager to pounce, or they would be if anyone half competent was running the opposition's wizards, who were sadly not lacking in talent. So let them be ready and prepared. He would instead be absent.

The air above his outstretched left hand danced with images. Vulture demons were throwing men off battlements or were swooping down upon the wizards advancing on foot. Flesh and blood flew and spells were fired off, sometimes at the right targets and sometimes not. The elementals were almost blindly engaging with the summoned demons and once attacked even the still bound demons could defend themselves. Of course the demons stretched the definition of "defence" until it became directed sadistic slaughter, but that's what one expects from denizens of the Abyss. Bound demons and elementals were freed when their controllers died, so the chaotic whirlwind of violence grew as once bound entities slipped the leash and turned on their former masters.

The whole assault bogged down as the Khaduli tried to put down their rogue demons while the horde was under fire from defenders on the wall. After what seemed a moderately long eternity the nomads retreated in good order, their rogue demons and elementals put down or rebound. They left more than a few of their number dead in their wake. Some of their wizards would be restored to life in the following days, but some would not. Resurrection spells were chancy things under good conditions and night hags were waiting with greedy claws in the shallows of the Astral Plane to snatch up the souls of the fallen.

The hags would get a few good men and women as well. They weren't their rightful prey, but the hags wouldn't care about that. The ancient Laws of Sympathy and Contagion, written into the very fabric of the universe, meant the hags were far better at catching and holding souls that resembled their own black life essences but they were clever and avaricious huntresses.

None of that was Nalifan's problem. As a drow and a necromancer he was well aware that fairness was rarer than unicorns in the multiverse and statistically speaking unicorns were very, very rare. His interest was in winning, which was why he was going to keep his head down and in hiding for the rest of the day and well into the night. Protected by the mind blank spell and hidden from direct observation, his hunters search for him would be fruitless no matter how much magic they employed.

He, on the other hand, already knew where his targets were. The Khaduli shamans were not nearly as high status as the wizards and had been spared his direct attentions. His undead minions had undoubtedly inflicted casualties in the course of their attacks, but now it was time to strike at them. Well after the witching hour he would slip over the walls with a small host of summoned killers. The Khaduli made extensive use of demons and elementals, but he had not seen any evidence of slaadi. He would rectify that by introducing their shamans to the executioners.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-05 08:34am

I am well pleased by this update; many thanks for moving it to the top of the pile.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-10-05 09:52pm

YES! AN UPDATE!
Just want I needed on a shitty day *sigh*.

Nalifan loves his Slaads. The question I have is what happened to his Plague-Bringer?
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by B5B7 » 2018-10-06 12:06am

At last, Nalifan is back! :D 8)
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-07 09:18am

Okay, I've now re-read the whole story; I copied each story post and pasted them into a single document for convenience. There are quite a few subplots I had forgotten about, and some that still need to be resolved, and I'm interested in seeing how that will happen.

One thing I was just wondering: is Nalifan not concerned about the Baatorian spear coming back his way? Or is he now in the position that he can't expose himself for more than a few moments, lest he could be struck down by it. It seems to be a tool for sniping a single target in line of sight, so unless he has a specific defence in mind it could end him. Not that he had an obvious choice -- it was either that or find another way to handle the Balor.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2018-10-07 03:58pm

SCRawl wrote:
2018-10-07 09:18am


One thing I was just wondering: is Nalifan not concerned about the Baatorian spear coming back his way? Or is he now in the position that he can't expose himself for more than a few moments, lest he could be struck down by it. It seems to be a tool for sniping a single target in line of sight, so unless he has a specific defence in mind it could end him. Not that he had an obvious choice -- it was either that or find another way to handle the Balor.
The javelin can be blocked. It's nasty, but its big trick is the extremely long range which makes it likely that the target doesn't have strong defensive spells up. It also didn't survive the explosive magic Nalifan put on it. That'll be mentioned in an upcoming post, but its not really a spoiler. The possibility that Nal has a small arsenal of those suckers won't be helping Khaduli mage morale.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-07 04:04pm

Imperial Overlord wrote:
2018-10-07 03:58pm
It also didn't survive the explosive magic Nalifan put on it. That'll be mentioned in an upcoming post, but its not really a spoiler.

You know, I probably should have surmised that the explosion might have eliminated the weapon from the board. From a narrative point of view it's better as well, I think.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-10-12 08:23am

Nalifan knows you do not leave a weapon in the hands of an enemy. Having it explode and do even MORE damage to those around the mages was simply the easiest way to rid himself of both weapon and a few more enemies at the same time. Practicality has always been part of his plans.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Grimnosh » 2018-10-12 08:57am

LadyTevar wrote:
2018-10-12 08:23am
Nalifan knows you do not leave a weapon in the hands of an enemy. Having it explode and do even MORE damage to those around the mages was simply the easiest way to rid himself of both weapon and a few more enemies at the same time. Practicality has always been part of his plans.
The fun thing is a lot of people forget what one can do with magic and some creative thinking. Contingency placed on a catapult shot or ballista bolt (or even on smaller missles like arrows and sling stones) combined with any AoE damaging spell like fireball or ice storm or even fun stuff like cloudkill or stinking cloud set to go off when the shot lands can be quite devastating for one, depending on where it lands.

Of course you can do the same (and at a longer distance) with a bundle of enchanted spears, arrows, or just plain rocks, a volunteer, and both a fly spell and (improved) invisibility spell which makes a fantasy game stealth bomber. After all it is not technically an attack if you drop something that explodes when it hits the ground from 60 feet up or higher....
Last edited by Grimnosh on 2018-10-12 09:05am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-12 09:03am

Grimnosh wrote:
2018-10-12 08:57am
The fun thing is a lot of people forget what one can do with magic and some creative thinking. Contingency placed on a catapult shot (or even on smaller missles) combined with any AoE damaging spell like fireball or ice storm or even fun stuff like cloudkill or stinking cloud to go off when the shot lands can be quite devastating for one, depending on where it lands.
From what we've seen in this setting, not as much; enemy soldiers don't cluster up very much, so AoE spells can't reach very many of the enemy at a time. Sure, if you could set up dozens or hundreds of these "smart bombs" to be scattered around strategically, then that could work. I wonder if there would be counter-measures available for that kind of thing.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Grimnosh » 2018-10-12 09:10am

SCRawl wrote:
2018-10-12 09:03am
Grimnosh wrote:
2018-10-12 08:57am
The fun thing is a lot of people forget what one can do with magic and some creative thinking. Contingency placed on a catapult shot (or even on smaller missles) combined with any AoE damaging spell like fireball or ice storm or even fun stuff like cloudkill or stinking cloud to go off when the shot lands can be quite devastating for one, depending on where it lands.
From what we've seen in this setting, not as much; enemy soldiers don't cluster up very much, so AoE spells can't reach very many of the enemy at a time. Sure, if you could set up dozens or hundreds of these "smart bombs" to be scattered around strategically, then that could work. I wonder if there would be counter-measures available for that kind of thing.
Sorry you posted while I was adding in to my post via edit. Forgot to mention that infravision gives decent night sight for the bomber so he can go for group shots at night.

And the only full counter measures I can think of would be things like anti-magic shells, which only goes so far considering the spell level (and technically area protected). Protection from fire, cold, ect effects would give some help but that is usually limited to a single person.
You know, its remarkably easy to feed an undead army if all you have are just enemies....

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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2018-10-12 06:32pm

1) Contingency doesn't work like that. It's a fairly high level spell with exotic components that only affects the caster. You can get similar effects with certain trap type spells. Its far better to actually have wizards flinging combat spells directly, but if you have the prep time and resources then setting them up in advance gets you trap spells plus wizards.

2) Fighting men do cluster up because they actually have to fight other men. Cavalry can travel in comparatively fast, loose formations and then solidify right before they charge which makes shooting explosive missiles much more effective against infantry who are in slower, denser formations. Heavy infantry might be protected by heavy armour, plus shields and elite heavy infantry might have protective magic so your mileage may very.

3) All these things show up to magic detection spells and are subject to counter measures.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2018-10-13 07:40am

Seven executioners walked through the darkness. Their body plan was roughly humanoid, with the smallest being the size of a big man and the largest being the size of a small ogre. Their head resembled those of lizards and toads and their fingers ended in claws. Their flesh were covered in grey scales ranging from dull charcoal to reflective silver. From there they diverged.

One had violet lightning bolt markings on his head, limbs, and flanks. Another had eyes that were pools of utter darkness. One was mark with softly glowing azure runes. Another had bladed spurs projecting from the back of his hands. One had a third eye in his forehead, that was a baleful hell red. The last had tiny vestigial wings protruding from the back of his beefy torso.

They were grey slaadi, the executioners. They hailed from the turbulent and every changing planes of Limbo and reflected the realms nature with their adaptable and violent natures. They had mastered both magic and violence and transformed themselves from simpler forms to the deadly beings they currently were. Less malevolent than demons but hardly less dangerous, the grey slaadi often were employed as assassins by powerful wizards and the slaughter hungry death slaadi.

The Khaduli pickets were equipped with magic to see the invisible in the forms of amulets, charms, and spells cast by lesser wizards. They were also instructed in methods of detecting illusions and were naturally wary of anything coming towards them from outside the picket line. The attrition action of the rangers had caused serious losses, so the pickets were very wary. It wasn't enough.

No orders were given. The executioners were very individualistic, but also very intelligent and very skilled. Extreme competency effectively provided the leadership that would have been almost impossible to impose. The slaadi struck from the darkness with paralyzing magic and walked passed the pickets wearing the forms of Khaduli warriors. Swords flashed in the darkness and silenced the sentinels forever. They moved through the encampments, protecting by their disguises and the lateness of the hour. It was closer to sunrise than sunset and most of the Khaduli were asleep. The camp was large enough that they were effectively anonymous even if they were noticed, which they were not.

Their targets were not the well guarded chieftains or wizards, but the shamans who were fighting the disease that Nalifan's undead minions were trying to spread. Safeguarding the herds at night was almost impossible and had taken its own toll on the Khaduli. The Shamans had been diminished in authority and prestige since the coming of the Maw, but a few remained and they practiced communion with powerful spirits, the mightiest and most benevolent which granted a form of magic that the priests of the Three would have recognized.

They did not, however, enjoy protection equal to that of the ascendant wizards and warrior-chieftains. Nor had they been singled out until now, although the night battles with Nalifan's undead had taken a toll on their numbers. The Khaduli on guard realized something was wrong when the executioners approached. They were too many men, walking too casually, too late at night. Unfortunately for them, it was too late.

Swords flashed in an explosion of violence. Wrist Blades and Azure Wounds abandoned their human disguises to rends with claws and bone blades. The strikes were lightning fast, inhumanely powerful, and as precise as an elf swordmaster's. Steel opened throats and lopped off limbs as claws tore open faces and arteries. Several cried as they saw their comrades fall, in the moment they had left.

The grey slaadi tore into the tents where shamans were sleeping or were waking from shouts. They killed with the same awful skill and power, rending flesh with claws and fangs or sundering limbs with enchanted steel. Their rampage was swift and terrible and for the first hundred heartbeats, they met little resistance and slews scores of men and women. Then the Khaduli resistance stiffened as organized warriors backed by wizards or prepared shamans arrived on the scene. That's when the slaughter began.

The executioners responded with their magical arsenals. Violet lightning shattered the darkness and blooms of multicoloured fire lit the night, making the slaughter briefly visible to the sentinels on the city walls. Like a giant scythe blade the executioner's magic cut a broad swath of Khaduli, leaving a few untouched and scores of dead and wounded in their wake. The slaadi laughed and roared to the survivors and struck again, widening the zone of destruction and adding considerably to the death toll.

In the wake of their magical destruction the slaad erected walls of ghostly purple flames and summoned huge demons out to the darkness. The conjurations were illusion, but given how the most eager of rescuers were now dead or screaming in pain, they were more than sufficient to buy the executioners time. They rushed the edge of the encampment, casually unleashing more lethal magic on the source of significant resistance. Blades, fangs, and claws took the rest with the slaadi barely breaking stride to kill.

They resumed cloaking themselves with invisibility as they left the Khaduli camp, breaking contact and vanishing into the night while the Khaduli were still struggling to deal with their illusions. They had satisfied the commands of their summoner and would soon leave this boring world of inert matter and be free.

-----

Tzerika stifled a yawn as she stepped out of the cold drizzle and into the yurt. She had been managed too little sleep during the night, thanks to the elf and far too much work before the sun had even risen. Most of the chieftains and senior members of the Vescoria were already in attendance.
The King of Tribes swayed with deceptively casual disregard on a cushion. He appeared to be in a harmless, even benevolent mood but she had known him long enough to know that this was simply deceptive. At this point, he didn't kill whom he killed, as long as his whims were acted upon. He could explode into unstoppable violence at any moment. The air of the yurt was thick with anxiety because everyone inside knew that as well.

"How bad Tzerika?" The King of Tribes asked lazily.

"They hurt us. Two hundred warriors, dead or a long time healing. More than half the shamans too, so we have fewer healers. Also most of my wizards had their rest disturbed. We'll regain few spells."

"Why now?" he asked. "A little late to kill the shamans. We've killed most of his plague dead, slaughtered the infected. We'll still have enough food to last until this city falls and this one will give us enough to reach the next. Why not earlier?"

"I don't know," replied Tzerika. "Maybe he didn't know where to find them, maybe he has a new trick and he wants them out of the way. Maybe the undead were just a way to find our strength. Maybe they were just easier to kill than chieftains or wizards and it hurt us. We know he'll do that every chance he gets." Most of the gathering nodded.

"He presses us from all sides," rumbled Yezek Irek, "looking for weakness." The big chieftain shrugged. "So we press back, harder. Without him, their army hasn't the strength to stand against us. Without the army, their is nothing between him and us but a handful of spells. Break either one and the other will follow. We need to hurt them more." Growls of approval answered his call.

"Can you hurt them more Carnivora?" The King of Tribes asked softly.

"Yes," she replied. "We aren't at full strength today, but we can wound them. Wound them deep and guard ourselves well. Tomorrow will be their last day."

"I shall hold you to that," replied The King of Tribes.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-13 11:31am

Well, the fall of the city was predicted, so it was always a matter of when, not if. And he's made them bleed, so now it's on to the next phase of his diabolical plan.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by SCRawl » 2018-10-19 08:45am

After re-reading this, I wonder why the Khaduli wouldn't consider the possibility that there wouldn't be anything for them once they conquer the stronghold. That's key to their strategy: they won't risk starvation because they can take the city, which will supply sufficient resources to take the next city. You can see that the King of Tribes has asked all the right questions: "Why now?" and "Why not earlier?" They just aren't looking hard enough for answers.

Nalifan's approach seems to be like that of Dupin in "The Purloined Letter": he's smart enough not just to be able to fool an opponent, but to be able to successfully estimate just how smart his opponent is, and therefore predict the opponent's responses, so he can tailor his actions accordingly. His confidence in that estimate probably comes from intelligence gained from the captured witch, and other observations.

The clerics would presumably be able to summon food and drink -- not enough to sustain the entire tribe, if my quick arithmetic is correct, but enough to put off starvation for a little while -- and while that might not suit the aesthetic of the Khaduli it would be a strategic advantage worth eliminating, which is another good reason for axing the shamans at this point.

So the hope is for the Khaduli to actually starve, or to act out of desperation. The latter would be much more interesting to read about, of course.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2019-05-30 11:01am

The wind howled as it battered Cardan. It drove the rain and sleet like a carpenter hammering nails as it tore tiles from roofs and battered sentries on the wall. Torches wavered and guttered and died under the weather's abuse as lightning danced in the clouds overhead. The lightning was not content to stay there. Forks flashed and crackled, occasionally arcing down to strike a building or turn an unfortunate into roasted flesh and blackened bone. The storm would kill nearly fifty people by the end of the day.

The Khaduli, the outside of their camp barely a mile away, enjoyed a balmy day. Under the warm sunlight they could see the black spiral of storm clouds converge and lash the city like a recalcitrant slave. They laughed and joked as they watched their wizards marshal the skies against the city and punish it for daring to resist them. This, they knew, was just a taste of the misery that was to come.

In an inn's cellar, a single lantern provided the only illumination. In the near darkness both the inn's cats sat on barrels and groomed themselves. They were both grey tabbies, one skinny and the other a little fat. To a cat the lantern light was more than enough to see by and so it was with the elf. Nalifan chalked lines across the floor in a steady, practiced hand. He was more than arch-mage enough to invoke powerful summoning magic without it, but preparation was a better substitute to brute force when one had the time.

He could do nothing about the weather, or more precisely, he was strong enough to overpower any two Khaduli wizards and force the weather to his will but unable to blunt the working of the cadre that was currently hammering the city. As always, the collective strength of the Khaduli wizards was too great to challenge directly. Sometimes that meant a piecemeal engagement with a fraction of their number, but today it simply meant not trying at all. He had other plans.

The diagram he was drawing was an equilateral triangle, not a circle of protection. The powers he was invoking were not fiends from the Lower Plains, predictably vicious and mercenary in their dealings; or volatile and violent Slaadi. No, here he was breaking new ground and dealing with powers that were unfamiliar to him. The triangle would help conjure and bind the entity, but he should not need the binding circle. Not from what he intended to summon.

"What if I'm wrong?" he said allowed softly. The skinny cat lifted a paw and licked it. "Then I'm wrong about the endgame and that means I'm much more screwed than I think I am," he said with a chuckle. He began adding to the inscription around the triangle, starting with the points. He knew the symbols from study and such was his mastery of wizardry that he could independently deduce them by following the appropriate principles and formulae, but he had never worked with them before. He was working with the inverse, was answer produced by reversing and upending the magic he had been taught.

He wrote the last symbol and stood. He spoke the words of the summoning spell, crisply and quickly. It was an incantation without beseeching or entreaties, just brute power and compulsions. The spell included a name and upon that fell its full force.

Motes of azure and golden light filled the air above the summoning figure. They formed into strands and twisted together, forming an intricate and twisted column of light. The column parted and dissolved, revealing an emerald figure eight feet tall. He or she, was elongated and handsomely androgynous. The features were unmistakably elves with long, flowing hair a darker shade of green and eyes blazing like stars. They wore a long hauberk of silver scales. "Nalifan D'Azurentien," he said.

"Why am I not surprised the Kaladir knows who I am?" the drow answered. "So much for the importance of regularly attending temple services."

"I see servitude has not diminished your arrogance."

"I'm so not surprised that you're personally familiar with who I am and my myriad character flaws. I expect that you or your chain holder was smart enough to know that I would figure out how I was trapped."

"Of course you did. For you the puzzle would have been easy to solve as is the nature of your task. As much as you are capable of understanding, of course."

"Because I'm a mere mortal."

"No, because you're a moral cripple."

"Coming from the ones who are letting the humans bleed and die to blunt the cannibal horde, that somewhat blunts the force of your moral outrage."

"I would think you would understand circumstantial necessity."

"Which makes you not that different than me." Nalifan waved his hand. "I know the constraints. The gods are bound by compact not to directly intervene. Limited elven population means limited power here. The summoning tablet given to elves to give to humans so they will feel comfortable giving me power in their kingdom because their king holds my strings. My name given as well so someone capable of actually winning is bound. We weaken the Khaduli so good, with the help of a drow slave, triumphs."

"Your suffering is far less than your crimes. One who is not overwhelmed by unfettered ego might call it mercy."

"It must be nice to have a god declaring your pernicious actions righteous, but you need to improve your rationalizations. The priests of Bane are really quite better at it."

"When examined from a flawed lens, the broken can appear whole."

"Perhaps," said Nalifan, "but the lens I intend to use is yours." He smiled like a shark. "How do you feel like some mercy?"

"You overstep."

"So much for knowing that much about me," the drow replied. "This is exactly my kind of hubris. Shall we continue?" The celestial was silent. "I'll take that as a yes. So the Seldarine are one of the most powerful pantheons in the multiverse, but locally weak due to the small local elven population and compacts that bind gods from directly intervening. So no avatars, no sending their powerful servants to act on their behalf. Of course, I'm not bound by that compact so entities that I summon don't count. Even if they are servants of gods that are, like Corellon Larethian, bound by the compact. So you will kill for me, which is killing for your master and for all those little people whose lives justify all the nasty slaving and killing we're doing."

The celestial bowed. "As you command, oh mighty one."

"Cute," said Nalifan. "They're warded and protected against magical attacks, because they know if given the slightest opening I will bombard them with lethal sorcery. It's a tremendous amount of their strength that's being sidelined into constant warding against spells. So kill them with your not-quite-a-god bow and your not-quite-an-elven-god archery and your not-quite-a-god magical elven arrows. Specifically their chiefs, sorcerers, and shamans. Kill, fade away, come back, and kill again."

"Just like the rangers that you've expended."

"I'm willing to share the credit. Like we've expended."

"Such arrogance. Guilty of so many crimes and you stand before a high servant of a god without contrition."

"Penitence would be owed to my victims, not to my enslavers."

"Hubris."

"And what penance would deliver an unrepentant defiler of the dead from divine punishment? No, I will walk a different path. One that does not indulge in the hypocrisy of enslaving necromancers while condemning necromancy. Go. Kill. Execute my will. And less importantly, serve your god."

"As you wish," replied the celestial. Green smoke billowed from the floor, engulfing them. When it dissipated, they were gone.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Rogue 9 » 2019-05-30 10:17pm

Nalifan has a real penchant for needling the forces of Good, doesn't he? :razz: Though the last bit is interesting; it seems he commands the celestial to go, but then either goes with him or is taken.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2019-05-30 11:24pm

Rogue 9 wrote:
2019-05-30 10:17pm
Nalifan has a real penchant for needling the forces of Good, doesn't he? :razz: Though the last bit is interesting; it seems he commands the celestial to go, but then either goes with him or is taken.
Ambigious pronoun choice on my part. Just the celestial is gone.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Esquire » 2019-05-31 02:48am

Just want to observe that I've been reading this story for literally a decade, and I've enjoyed every sentence. Thanks for keeping it up.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-06-05 10:43am

YES! THANK YOU! I NEEDED A PICK-ME-UP!
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2019-06-19 03:07pm

Nalifan paced across the tavern's basement. He was not confident of the celestial's chances. The Khaduli would surely have noticed that their protection against outer planar attackers was inadequate and only a fraction of their spellcraft had been deployed to unleash the storm. Striking with impossibly long range arrows was probably something they weren't prepared for, especially ones as potent as could be found in Kaladir's quiver.

Nalifan turned to face the tabby. "It'll cost them, but I do think the celestial will fail. What do you think?" The cat raised his left fore paw and licked it. "Nothing? I know you're watching. Hmm, you're probably right. I do already know the answer. It's not enough and I know better to ask for your help. Nothing about these humans is worth your people sticking their heads into the meat grinder."

He had bartered with the yugoloth's and night hags of Gehenna, compelled The Executioners to do his will, called upon the servants of his ancestral gods, and invoked the authority of foreign deities. He had plundered the halls of the dead, violating remains of the fallen, and seized a warlord's authority. He had done almost everything possible to win this war. Almost.

One thing remained, one step even he hesitated to take. Given the hazards inherent in it, hazards that dwarfed dealing with the Nine Hells, the geas had allowed him to abstain. Until now, with every other option in play and defeat still likely.

The odds were too slim now and so the geas burned brightly in his brain. It rose from a dull ache to a burning brand and the option had gone from tucked away in the back of his brain to almost all he could think about. Pain he could manage, mostly, but even he had limits. And those limits were increasingly dwindling away as it increasingly became all he could think about.

"Fine," he snarled. "Fine. I'll roll the dice for everyone. You can keep your hands clean and I'll plunge my arms elbow deep into horror. I'll utter the spell and speak the name and the Heavens help the hindmost."

-----
Kaladir walked the outskirts of the Khaduli camp. They wore the shape of feral dog, lean and swift with dark grey fur and big, pointed ears. Their vision pierced the disguise of flesh and saw all. And it was not good.

The storm stopped two hundred yards from the sprawling Khaduli camp, but there was far more active magic inside the camp than out. Detection and alarm wards spread over the camp, sensitive to the presence of infiltrators who were outsiders or disguised by magic. A spider's web, he thought with a smile. Nalifan should appreciate the method and the difficulty it imposed. Infiltration of the camp was almost impossible.

The sorcery wasn't the worst of it. Ravens spied from the tops of yurts and only some of them were Khaduli familiars. They could see the true shape of the others, monstrous demons shape shifted into bird shapes. Their eyes could pierce all illusions and disguises, just like Kaladir's.
One of them would see him soon enough. He was bound by Nalifan just as Nalifan was bound by the humans. The arch-necromancer was an amusing enough creature. Kaladir could see why those Above had an interest in him. The combination of hubris, penetrating insight, and an appallingly strong will to triumph that was so far past self aggrandizement and naked hypocrisy that it almost became a virtue. He was the perfect tool: capable, discardable, and deserving of said treatment.

Kaladir resumed humanoid form, his black bow of red dragon bone glistening in his hands. Ravens began cawing, Khaduli warriors dropped spits of meat, tools, and a variety of containers of alcoholic beverages and reached for weapons. They were slow, so slow. Kaladir's speed was that of the high fey for whom the limitation of matter were optional and the higher celestials who bore a closer relation to luminous ether than solid matter. Elves were slow to Kaladir. The Khaduli might as well have been bugs struggling in liquid amber as it solidified around them.

Arrows left Kaladir's bow in a blur. They struck one of the ravens mid transformation, sending a maroon skinned, dog headed, four armed giant tumbling to the ground with a cluster arrows in its torso. Kaladir was killing another demon before the glaberzu's body hit the ground.

Khaduli were seizing bows, blades, and lances as Kaladir killed guardian demons and familiars. Common soldiers weren't worth an arrow. Kaladir flowed through them, moving at speed that quicklings would envy. With their left hand he slaughtered at speed that was almost too fast to see with a quicksilver blade that changed shape from straight to curved or recurved as it aided the cuts and thrusts they made. The blade floated next to them as they shifted back to using the bow.

Spells splashed off Kaladir, sizzling bolts of neon light that shattered into brilliant light, infernos that did not touch them, thunder and lightning that broke the world around them but left them untouched, and more. A Khaduli wizard fell with an arrow through her skull, another with heart and spine pierced, a third with both eyes shot through. Kaladir danced as they killed, drawing down fire and lightning from the sky, sending it among the Khaduli foot soldiers as heads were cleaved from shoulders, limbs separated from torsos, and organs punctured by flowing metal.

Other spells struct Kaladir and stuck. They sucked away their speed until they were merely fast. Spells unraveled their defences against sorcery so blazing beams burned away mercurial flesh and etheric darts rent unearthly hide. Kaladir shifted away their wounds almost as fast as they received them, but sorcery was undoing them. They had been slowed down so the veterans who were close to the wizards could reach Kaladir and slow enough to be fought.

Luminous blood was spilled into the air where it dissolved as mist. The Khaduli veterans were armed with the enchanted blades of a people who prized magic and the loot of a dozen sacked kingdoms taken from the cold hands of the greatest fallen knights. They invoked charms and drank potions in the moments before joining battle and they did so with the aid of their brothers and sisters. They wet their blades on celestial flesh and kept coming.

Shifting steel was parried more often than not. Too many sure strokes came too quickly for Kaladir to do more than block a fraction of them. Each wound was followed rapidly by another. And another. Kaladir laughed and killed and for a moment they seemed an invincible killing machine as defence was abandoned totally in favor of offence. A head taken, legs sliced open, an armed at the elbow, lamellar and mail split to open a belly.
Then their sword fell from their nearly severed hand and their was nothing but hacking and stabbing. Immortal flesh dissolved into mist as the spirit returned to the celestial realms. A piece leaving the board as swiftly as it had entered, albeit to return to the side of one of the players. As was almost always, the mighty were insulated from the consequences of defeat while the lowly mortals would have to fend for themselves.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-06-19 10:30pm

Did the Kaladir even accomplish anything worthwhile?

So.. is Nalifan finally going to summon his wife and companions to rout the army?
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