Dungeons & Dragons Online

Scoundrels Chapter 70: Bitter Grain

I am The Bard, who watches heroes and people alike. The age of heroes is long past, never again will their like walk this earth. But the age of people is not so foul.

It was a demoralized quintet that searched the road for traces of Janus the next morning. They healed over the course of the night, and aside from a few scars they would suffer no permanent damage. Elsior on the other hand ached all over, including her ears from the lecture Lamora had given her.

”Your mouth was basically charcoal, your blood pressure was so high if you cut yourself it would have sprayed out like a hose, you somehow managed to break both your feet, both your shins, both your upper and lower arms, a number of bones in your hands, and both your femurs. Your muscles look like you’ve been stretched on the rack for the better part of a week! How the hell did you not die from shock?” The cleric exclaimed, more flustered than the dragonborn had ever seen her.

”One, I’m a tough bitch, and two, this isn’t the first time I’ve used it. My normal overdrive is just a smaller version of the same thing. Causes some damage to my system, so I can’t use it all the time, so this mess is just a more extreme version.” Elsior explained, cooling her head with a bottle of whiskey, and occasionally drinking from it to dull the pain. “Feels like I ran around San Jonas with Bor on my back.”

Lamora buried her face in her palm. “El, I’m going to assume you know what limiters are, right?”

The dragonborn nodded. “Yeah, basically mental blocks that keep you from pushing yourself hard enough that you hurt yourself. My basic burst mode turns them off.”

”No, if your basic burst mode or whatever you care to call it did that, you’d be dead.” Lamora said flatly. “It provides enough energy to let you operate at full capacity, and I mean really full capacity, for a time. Basically you at 100%.” She explained. “You might weaken those limiters because of how much energy is flowing through your system, but you don’t turn them all the way off.”

”Huh. I always thought it was turning them off, sort of like the stories you hear about heroes pushing themselves past their limit, or parents lifting wagons off their children or stuff like that. Feats of strength?”

”That’s a little different. Survival and parental instinct leading to low level magic channeling. It’s close, but on a fundamental level they’re only briefly superhuman, and their limits are still active. Specifically, their mana flow limit. The body has limits on how much magic that can flow through you. Monks can open this up, but even they’ve got their limits.”

”Explains how Vulsh is so fast.” Elsior noted, jerking her thumb at the monk as he ate breakfast.

”Yeah. Well you didn’t just break your physical limiter, your heel node exploded. You didn’t just break the arcane limiter, you blew it to kingdom come. I’m kind of surprised you survived that to be entirely honest.” Lamora admitted. “So you effectively had no limit on how much magic could flow through your body, and none of your physical limiters thanks to what that much magic does to your brain. Quite frankly El, I’m not sure if you have any limit at all in that state, except how long you can survive it.”

”Infinite power? Son of a bitch it’s stronger than I thought.”

”Yeah, but not the durability to handle that power. Just moving broke your limbs. Using your breath weapon nearly killed you. Your muscles were tearing themselves apart, and you were literally cooking your insides from the friction your blood flowing through its veins was causing. If he had even scratched you, your whole system would have collapsed and you would have half boiled, half exploded.” Lamora explained. “You might be able to kill anything in one hit, but the same goes for you.”

”So don’t get hit, and don’t use it in general, good to know.” Elsior grumbled.

”I can’t understand why anyone would give you power like that. You’re a cop for Name’s sakes, what kind of policeman needs the ability to destroy a castle?”

”One that isn’t just a cop.” Elsior reminded her. “The Black Lions are meant to fight on the same level of the paladins in defense of the union in general, and San Jonas in particular. Our Gifts were given to give us the edge if we ever had to fight greater demons, dragons, or heaven forbid Yeenoghu if he ever returned.”

Lamora paused, and El looked square at her. “That’s the kind of power it takes to rival an avatar or an incarnate. The fact that a mere mortal was able to survive it…” She shook her head. “Janus was one crazy son of a bitch.”

”Let’s hope it is was.” Raymond noted, and they rode on. However, they soon reached the end of the trail. The blood stopped. “Shit. Look around, find the body.” He ordered, quickly scanning this way and that.

The scoundrels scoured the area, looking for the large man’s corpse, but found nothing. Then Keelah piped up, “Found something, come and take a look.” The scoundrels quickly assembled around her, as she held up a small pewter statue of the man. There was a hole in its chest, where a gem might have sat.

”He had a Contingency, hell and havoc he isn’t dead.” Raymond cursed.

”What was the contingency?” Matlal asked. “And how do you get that from just a statue?”

”Not a contingency, Contingency. It’s a spell, a fairly simple one in concept but a real nightmare to pull off.” Raymond explained. “Basically you set a condition, and once that condition is filled, the spell triggers. Say for example I had one set up to activate Feather Fall if I was thrown off a cliff. If I did, the spell would activate without using any of my mana. However, it’s an extremely expensive spell. You need both a gemstone to hold the spell, and a statue of the target to act as a focus.”

”So he had one set up to bring him back from the dead if he ever kicked it.” Elsior snarled. “Clever. Tricky, but clever.”

”Think he had more than one?” Keelah asked.

”Doubtful, it’s a pain to pull off, ruinously expensive, and in order to bind resurrection into it, you’d need to get a cleric and a wizard working together, both capable of casting at the sixth tier.” Raymond explained. “And I can think of only three of the later anywhere in this part of the world, and I’m one of them.”

”And there are only four clerics counting myself capable of the same.” Lamora noted. “Janus has friends in high places.”

”He’s the master of the Iron Wardens, I think he counts as high places himself.” Keelah noted. “So where would he be getting the other two parts.”

”The only other mage that good is Archmage Luskan in Raevir’s Landing, and of course old ivory back in San Jonas, and if Ivory’s gone over to the enemy, we’re boned.” Raymond said honestly.

”As for the cleric, most likely Bishop Kavid of Shining Peak.” Lamora said. “Considering where his territory is, he’s almost certainly thrown in with Thorgrim.”

”Can we kill either of them?” Keelah asked.

”Maybe Luskan if he didn’t see us coming, but in a straight fight, he’d take us apart. I can throw maybe one sixth tier a day, he won’t be so limited, not to mention the fact that he certainly knows more than I do.” Raymond mentioned.

”We don’t stand a chance against Kavid either. Shining Peak is as much a fortress as a monastery, and he’s a priest of Moradin, a warrior as much as a preacher.” Lamora noted. “Haven’t ever been there personally, but I know it by reputation.”

”So we go for Luskan, try to kill him and the Raevir fleet at the same time.” Elsior said with a grim resolve.

”Sure, sure, not only do we need to infiltrate the largest city in the north, let’s also take out their biggest mage while we’re also trying to burn their fleet and cripple them financially via making off with all their gold.” Keelah said with a shrug. “Not like we dream small or anything around here.”

”When were we planning to steal all their gold?” Matlal asked.

”We weren’t, but we should be. Wars are expensive and if we clean out the bank it’s going to be a real kick to their nuts financially speaking. That and it will make us all filthy stinking rich.” Keelah admitted.

”Sure, let’s add the heist of the century to our list of criminal enterprises. It’s not like we aren’t busy with terrorism, assassinations, arson, and a host of other highly illegal behavior.” Elsior replied sarcastically.

”If it’s in the service of our country, it’s not criminal, it’s patriotic.” Keelah replied without a hint of sincerity or shame.

The rest of the trip back to Vyrms went smoothly. On the first night War Pig returned, and there was much rejoicing. Among other things because Elsior no longer had to walk, and her feet already ached from the prior night’s escapades.

However, as they drew near to Vyrms, War Pig became irritated, and then Lamora also felt it, and then Elsior also. Something was wrong. Something in the air, something in the environment, slight changes to the world around them. It was no longer familiar, something had changed.

At their request, the scoundrels left the road, and came by the woods until they reached the cleared area around the city. The years crops were being planted, but they crept forwards under the veil of an illusion. There they saw it, and their hearts sank.

The flag of clan Glamdring flew above the city, and all around it, dwarves labored to build up her walls. The scoundrels grit their teeth, and slunk back into the woods.

”Well shit, what now?” Keelah cursed. “There goes our base.”

”Not sure.” Raymond admitted. “Lamora and I can get in without being detected. She can shapeshift, I can teleport and cloak myself in illusions. We’ll find a place to rest for the night, and she and I will go in and gather whatever we can. I swear to the old gods, if they burned down my bar I’ll pull every damn corpse in that graveyard up before I go.”

Source: reddit.com

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