It was obvious to Peter that his party was in a desperate situation. Twice the party had been outmatched by wizards trying to steal the package. The last time, Lucas had become rooted to the ground and Kyra was hit with magic that made her ill and unfit to fight. If these wizards were the vanguard sent to find strengths and weaknesses, they were successful.
It was only by sheer luck that their magic had been exhausted and Peter, Kyra and Lucas were allowed to escape. One thing was clear, the next attack was coming and it would be worse than before. There were no more tricks to try and no where to escape.
On any other day, escape wouldn’t be a problem. Peter, a master of teleport, could easily get his group to safety. Unfortunately, the Dominator artifact in Lucas’ pack would release some horrible evil upon the world if it were ever teleported. To allow the artifact fall into the wrong hands would have equally disastrous results.
Normally, being in the middle of nowhere would be protection enough against detection, but the wizards had an uncanny ability to know exactly where the party was at any moment. There was the problem. Outmatched, unable to run, unable to hide. Peter was going to lose the artifact and probably his life in the very near future.
It was with a heavy heart that Peter cast a Communication spell for Master Glex.
“Greetings Master Glex”
“Greetings Peter. How goes your travels?”
“My party and I have been attacked twice by leather skinned, red armored wizards that we can only assume want the artifact. Their tactics have improved and it’s all, but a forgone conclusion that we’ll be attacked again in a way that we won’t be able to defend against.”
“Peter it is very important that you keep that box safe. However, if you do loose it, you need to contact me immediately so we can make plans.”
“I understand, master. I’ll do what I can, but without reinforcements it won’t go well.”
“I’ll see what we can do.”
With that, the Communication dissipated and Peter was left alone with his thoughts. The message was clear, help wasn’t coming. You’re on your own.
It had been a day and a half since the last attack. Peter had been prepping the party for the end of the day raid by casting Magic Resistance on Kyra and Lucas. Using the spell left Peter tired and not quite ready to fight, but his friends would be virtually immune to the magic of the raiders. It was a great plan except it wouldn’t help today.
3 wizards popped into the middle of the party’s staggered marching line. This time, they brought their friends, 3 men in full plate and a horrible beast that must have been a demon. 2 of the fighters, a wizard and the demon started to make their way to where Lucas stood. Somehow they knew he had the artifact. A man in full plate and a leather skinned wizard closed on Peter. Just so Kyra wouldn’t feel left out, a wizard decided to come her direction.
Lucas was fast and could have run away, but instead decided to try to pit his leather jacket and brass knuckles against full plate and a maul. Before he had a chance to do much, the wizard had his feet rooted to the ground just like before.
Peter wasn’t having much better luck, he decided Flight would be the best way to control the battlefield. It was the only thing he had the chance to do before his enemies were upon him. The man in plate mail swung his weapon. Peter tried to dodge, but felt clumsy as he saw the wizard gesture. The blow zapped Peter’s strength and dropped him to the ground.
Kyra was furthest from the action and took advantage of the opportunity to prep by casting Haste. When her attacking wizard got close, she was ready with her bow. Direct hit to the eye. Wizard’s eye! The red armored guy dropped and posed no immediate threat.
Lucas wasn’t doing as well. He bravely took hit after hit knowing that all he needed to do was hand over the artifact and his punishment would end. The gesture bought the party a second. After that, a wizard, a demon and a man in full plate were rummaging through his backpack.
One of the men in full plate attacking Lucas noticed Kyra’s success and charged in her direction. Full plate would soak up any arrow damage. He looked almost invincible. There was only the tiniest opening in the visor to see. Kyra took careful aim then loosed another brilliant shot through his visor and into his eye. Down he went.
Peter would surely not survive another hit from his attacker in full plate. Lying on his back and opposed by the clumsiness from the wizard, he had only one option if he wanted to live. Blink. As the weapon came down and passed through the space where Peter was only moments before, Peter reorientated into an upright stance in the air above. The box had been found and the demon was flying away with it. The only good news is that it wasn’t able to go as fast as Peter could.
Kyra was prepared to pick off the remaining enemies, but was disappointed to see her fallen foes teleport away. The men in full plate disappeared leaving only the wizards who seemed intent upon escorting the demon away post haste. To have a chance at a shot, she had to close the rapidly expanding distance between her and the furthest away wizard.
The demon had quite a head start and Peter took a chance by flying directly above one of the wizards. Peter was struck by a momentary light headed feeling that passed as quickly as it came. He had been able to fight off whatever magic had attacked him. In the next moment, Kyra had closed the distance enough to put an arrow in the eye of the wizard that had so boldly attacked Peter. The wizard then teleported away, but at least was out of the fight.
The gap between the Peter and the demon grew small and Peter readied a Sunbolt. Peter would be able to shoot the demon as it retreated and it couldn’t get away with as fast as Peter could fly. Kyra was starting to get left behind and there was still the other wizard to deal with, but Peter liked the odds now. That’s when the demon disappeared after the gesture of the final remaining wizard. A moment later and there were no more enemies… and no artifact.
When the party reassembled, Lucas was on death’s door. Peter was only slightly better. The only redeeming thing about the situation was that the Trace Peter had cast on a string tied to the box seemed to be working. If whatever evil unleashed by the artifact could be fought, the party had an idea of where to start looking.
After taking time to rest and heal, it was time to talk to Master Glex. Peter cast Communication.
“You lost it, didn’t you?”
“I tried to warn you we couldn’t protect it without help.”
“Where are you?”
“In the plains of Khatovar 150 miles West of Talcaro.”
“Stay there. I’ll be there shortly.”
Within half an hour, a pair of flying objects came from the West. It was Master Glex and another wizard whose specialty was healing college.
“I see our little rouse worked.”
“You never gave us the real artifact. Thank Boccob!”
“It was necessary to have a decoy to mask the presence of the genuine artifact. We’ve been following you at a safe distance since the beginning.”
“Not to worry. You’ll still be compensated if we arrive safely to our destination.”
“Does that mean we’re done? We can go home?”
“I still need the party to be a decoy. Do you have anything I can enchant to look like the artifact?”
Peter volunteered his bulky 5 lb. compass for the duty.
“Keep going to Talcaro. We’ll contact you when we’ve made it safely there.”
With that, Master Glex and his friend flew away to continue their journey.
The party was only 2 days away from Talcaro. 2 days from a big pay day. There had been no further attacks. Maybe, the demon hadn’t figured out how to open the box, yet. Maybe, it didn’t know about the deception. Whatever the case, the party was happy to be so close to relative safety.
While setting up camp for the night, a wave of heat and the stink of brimstone began wafting through the air. Then the demon from the attack appeared in front of the group.
“Lesser beings, I would have been content to ignore you after getting what I wanted. Now, my wrath will be burn away everything you love.”
“I won’t give you swift death now. Instead, I will be in every dark corner and in every place you thought was safe. I’ll be slowly tightening a vice of misery upon you, stealing opportunity, weakening your allies and destroying your lives.”
“There will be no place to run from me. No place to hide. In the end, each of you will find yourself powerless and rotting in despair. You’ll beg for death. On that day, I will grant you your wish.”
With that the demon was gone.
A short time later, a Communication from Master Glex appeared. The mission was a success. The party could go home.
After paying $2000 each for the lost horses, Peter, Kyra and Lucas had $8000 each as a reward for the courier job. Peter became more powerful with clerical magic and even became ordained as a priest of Boccob. Kyra increased her magical abilities. Everyone spent the whole next year training for spells.
Lucas became quite skilled in the movement college further specializing in Teleport and Blink. Kyra also learned to Teleport, but not enough to travel very far. She also gained the ability to make food and protect the party from bad weather. The perpetual student, Peter had diversified his spell choices. His favorites are Hang Spell and Bless.
After all that training, the party felt the need to go out and explore. Peter wanted to visit Veros to see what interesting magic was there. Lucas felt the need to visit Tocora. Kyra felt like Tocora would offer her a great opportunity to use her Dwarven language, so it was decided.
When teleporting to a place you’ve never been, it makes sense to get as close as possible first. That’s what Peter was thinking when he teleported to Kyril and set up a beacon. Kyril is a sea port of maybe 500,000. He’d been there once before and was curious what mysteries the maze of a city held. With any luck, he and the party could spend a few days here before going on to Tocora.
His plans changed when he teleported Kyra into the city with him. Everyone could teleport, but still depended upon Peter for the really long distance stuff. She immediately froze and started babbling incoherently. He knew she preferred small groups and avoided cities, but hadn’t she been working on overcoming that phobia? Obviously, not yet.
Thinking quick, Peter teleported himself and Kyra to a few miles North of the city. Kyra was still acted lobotomized. At the very least, the side track would make him late for getting Lucas. When he was well enough rested, he sent a Communication to Lucas to apprise him of the situation.
Eventually, Peter was able to put up a Beacon. Just moments before he was ready to go get Lucas, Kyra started feeling more like herself. He would have had to get Lucas eventually. It suited him that Kyra would be able to protect herself in the moments it took him to bring back Lucas.
The trip to Tocora was thankfully much less eventful. Lacking any real direction, the party decided to head into the mountains. This was open countryside with no real sign of inhabitants. There were a few paths that might have been roads… or maybe animal paths. It was hard to tell.
Towards late afternoon, the party was coming close to the base of one of the mountains in the range. In the distance, there appeared to be a humanoid coming down in a big hurry. The party changed their direction to meet the figure.
As they drew closer, it became more clear that this was a gnome and a severely beaten up one at that. Lucas was the first to arrive. “Thank God” was the only thing the gnome said before he passed out.
After Peter healed the gnome, he kept ranting going on and on about boulders being hurled down upon Stonehaven, a city to the East. He was a merchant and had lost everything to what was most assuredly an attack by giants.
Peter was eager for a new challenge, but reluctant to abandon someone in need. The party agreed to escort their new friend to Hammerfell, home of the Hammerfell clan. It was a short distance away and the party stayed there for the night.