The Collected Bedtime Stories

Session 10: The Impossible Happens

A Bedtime Story, Part 1
Based upon the game session of March 9th, 2002

"A bedtime story?  Very well, grab your blanket and come on over here.  Vlage, leave Tanaia's teddy bear alone.  Here's your wolf.  Now, everybody settled?  Good.  What would you like to hear?  Again?  But I've told you that story at least a dozen times.  All right, all right, I'll tell it again.  Sarah, could you bring grandpa some water?  Thank you, dear."

"It all began many years ago, back when I was a half-elf.  No, Tanaia.  As I told you before, if you spend too much time as something else, you tend to forget yourself.  Over the years I've forgotten, hence my current form.  That's why your mother insists on painting self portraits every year -- so she can remember who she is."

"As I was saying, it all began many years ago.  The dead had begun to rise and walk the earth, nobody'd seen a dwarf in centuries, and the Sunbrand, well, we'll get to that later."

"I wasn't there at the beginning, but you can read about all that in the journals the others left behind.  My story picks up after Gladriel opened the portal to the Plane of Fire, but before your Uncle Vlage died the first time.  Yes Vlage, you know full well he's spent much of his life dead.  He's told you the story himself, many times."

"Anyway, in an attempt to destroy the orc breeding pits beneath the mountains, the priest Gladriel had summoned an air elemental and sent it to open the portal, giving little thought to the consequences.  Not only did he succeed in opening the portal, he also succeeded in destroying Nymriell's keep and setting lose hundreds of fire elementals into our forests, destroying tens of thousands of acres of trees and brush, rare plants and flowers, and the only known local habitat of the dire ape and the assassin vine."

"I had been traveling to the area in question, to study the apes and the vines.  But my journey was interrupted by a massive earthquake, the opening of countless fissures in the sides of the mountain, and the subsequent lava flows.  The forest began to burn, and I only barely escaped with my life.  The blast forced me to take to the air, singing my feathers but keeping me safely away from the toxic clouds that were spilling over the earth."

"The trees began to burn, and throughout the flames figures could be seen:  salamanders, fire elementals, magmins -- all directing or otherwise carrying the destruction with them.  Beings of this sort are concerned only with what they can consume, and unfortunately they had plenty of fuel."

"The screams of the flora and fauna were overwhelming.  Not only did Gladriel's foolhardy act destroy the forest and the habitats of a number of plants and animals, he also succeeded in bringing about the destruction of three treants, I'd gotten to know over the years.  Wonderful plants they were, several hundred years old.  One had been a sapling during the Age of Strife, and had survived the Great War only to be destroyed by a thoughtless act.  I miss them all terribly."

"The Druid's Council set out to combat the flame creatures, and to extinguish the fires burning throughout the woods.  They didn't have much luck though, until they joined forces with the Wild Tribe.  I know it's not a very creative name, Sarah, but that's what they called themselves.  Now stop interrupting."

"While the druids were limited to summoning natural creatures, the Wilds summoned elementals of their own, and over the course of a week managed to turn the tide.  Working together the two groups pushed the fire creatures back into the fissures and sealed them.  But in the battle many of our number were lost, including a close friend of grandpa's.  We brought him back later, in the form of a stag.  We chatted every once in a while afterwards, but he was now a creature of nature and longer interested in the affairs of men or elves."

"The Druid's Council met next to discuss what had happened.  Vlage told what had transpired in the depths beneath Nymriell's tower, while the council listened in horror.  That an elf would bring about such destruction merely to seal orc breeding pits was beyond comprehension!  After all, we'd always had orcs, trolls, ogres, goblins, etc., coming from the mountains, and we'd always dealt with them in short order.  Their numbers had never been great, and they'd never really posed much of a threat.  Of course he was a wood elf, and much further removed from nature than the druids and the wild elves.  But it's still no excuse."

"Representatives of the Wild Tribe were also present at the Council, myself included, and we were struck dumb by the realization that we had previously welcomed this band of adventurers into our midst at the Gathering, and had even named them elf friends.  And they repaid our kindness by destroying our realm!"

"Of personal interest, of course, was the loss of the dire apes and assassin vines.  To destroy a species is already a terrible thing.  But to do so in ignorance, and supposedly for a just cause, is inexcusable!  The party could just as easily have drafted the dwarves to eliminate the breeding pits.  From what Vlage told me at the time, they knew how.  They'd have probably enjoyed the challenge!  But Gladriel never bothered to consider the impact his action would have, when there were other options.  Damn him!"

"Yes dear, I know I'm getting side tracked.  You can't expect the story to be told the same each time.  I'm old, you know.  My mind wanders now and then.  Now where was I?  Right.  The Druid's Council."

"I left the Council furious, and utterly determined to not only close the portal, but also to seek out this band of nature assassins and deal them some druidic justice.  Unfortunately my attempts to reach the portal were unsuccessful, given it was deep inside the caldera.  It also didn't help that elders of both the druids and the Wilds pulled me aside and chastised me for my rash behavior.  In retrospect, they were trying to temper me and keep me from getting myself killed.  At the time, all I wanted was revenge."

"Vlage and I were sent away from the Council, each having been given a directive.  We were to seek out the party and tell them of what they had done, and give them an ultimatum from both the Wilds and the Druid's Council.  They were to seal the portal, or else.  I have no doubt both groups would have sought out and killed the entire party had they failed or refused.  They had betrayed the friendship of the Wilds by setting fire the forests, however unwittingly it was done.  And they had destroyed thousands of acres of forest, rendering moot the work of hundreds of druids over the centuries.  Such a crime cannot be easily forgiven."

"In fact, both the tribe and the Council were split.  Many wanted to mete out justice right away, but cooler heads prevailed and the party was given the opportunity to redeem themselves.  I was not one of the cooler heads."

"So Vlage and I set out to present our demands to the party."

"Pardon?  Okay, hurry up.  No, we'll wait for your sister to get back.  It wouldn't be very nice to continue the story without her now, would it?  All done?  Okay then, let's continue."

"We found the party hiding in the Temple of Pelor in Whitehall.  Apparently they hadn't considered the other unpleasant side effect of opening the portal, that being the destruction of Nymriell's keep.  He'd been there for centuries, apparently engrossed in studies of immortality.  Whether he had come close to learning the secret, or whether he was working to destroy the secret, nobody knew.  Some of the party were certain he was trying to become an immortal himself, while the sole voice of reason in the party pointed out that they were working on speculation, and had no proof either way."

"Yes Sarah, that was Nikolaus.  He was the only one to avoid Nymriell's wrath, as he was the only one who saw the folly of running Nymriell's errand to acquire the dendrite.  Nikolaus had seen Nymriell's lab, and chose life over almost certain death.  Could you fetch me another glass of water please?  Ah, thank you."

"As I was saying, we entered and found the party hiding in the temple.  We presented them with our demands, only to have the arrogant priest tell us that the destruction of the forests, while regrettable, was nothing more than an undesired side-effect of this gods' divine will.  Apparently the good father forgot that one of his gods is the goddess of the forests.  I doubt very seriously of she would have sanctioned his 'undesired side-effect,' and I'm frankly surprised she didn't abandon him, relieving him of her divine grace.  I was furious, listening to his words."

"Regardless, the group was more afraid of Nymriell than of the threat posed by the Wilds or the Druid's Council.  They refused to close the portal until they could first deal with the wizard."

"Vlage and I left in frustration, and returned to the forest.  Vlage had this idea that perhaps we could at least find out where Nymriell was, since none of the others seemed to have a clue.  So we sought out a pool, where Vlage attempted to scry on the archmage."

"I did not possess the ability to scry at the time, and it was altogether new to Vlage.  He probably should have waited until he was a bit more knowledgeable before trying, as all he succeeded in doing was angering the mage.  The attempt was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a skeleton, some zombies, and a night hag."

"I had never before seen a night hag, though I'd seen plenty of skeletons and zombies.  She was one ugly cuss!  She tried casting a number of spells on me, but fortunately none of them had any effect.  She eventually gave up and began targeting Vlage, as were two of the zombies.  Each of us took a number of hits, and they eventually took down your uncle.  I killed the hag, and finally had to flee to stay alive.  From a distance I fired rocks at the remaining skeleton and zombie, until eventually they were dead once more."

"I was pretty badly hurt, and had lost my right hand.  Upon returning to Vlage I found that not only had he been killed during the fight, he had also lost a hand.  I retrieved both, though what remained of mine no longer appeared to be of use.  The zombie that had removed it had eaten most of it."

"I caught a bird, and sent a message to my mother in Whitehall.  She alerted the town guard, who arrived a few hours later.  They brought us back to the temple, were Gladriel raised Vlage and the Pelorean priests regrew my hand (for a fee, of course -- I didn't have any money on me, so had to pay with one of my precious felwort seeds!).  The Peloreans didn't seem particularly pleased or surprised to see another dead body in relation to the party.  In fact, while regenerating my hand the priest suggested I not take up with them lest they get me killed.  I informed him I was on a mission to get the party to right their wrongs, and though he said he understood I'm certain he still thought I was dooming myself to a most certain and horrible death."

"Growing a new body part itches like mad!  It took a full day for the itching to stop.  I strongly advise keeping your body parts intact as long as possible, so you don't have to through what I did!  Vlage, stop giggling."

"Having drawn attention to ourselves, we stayed the night in the temple.  We argued further with the rest of the party, making no headway at all.  Gladriel had the audacity to lecture us on how we shouldn't have left the safety of the town, though personally I'd much rather be out in the wilds doing something, anything, than hiding in a temple as they had been."

"Over the next couple of days, the various members of the party went their own way.  Quinn frequented the Wizard's Guild, while most of the others spent a lot of time in some bar.  The city obviously had an adverse effect on Jilas, who was exhibiting decidedly inappropriate behavior for a nomadic wild elf.  That he went to a bar with the others at all was surprising, given how little wild elves care for cities or people in the first place."

"For the most part, Vlage and I avoided the others.  I was still furious they were doing nothing to deal with the portal.  We had given them three weeks to deal with the problem, and they were spending their time partying!  Damn them, didn't they realize that we couldn't keep the elementals at bay forever!  Eventually they were going to break loose, and set out once more to destroy our precious forests."

"There isn't really much else to tell of the intervening time, other than my visiting Cody in my mother's garden, and Vlage doing a circle dance to at least get a general idea of Nymriell's direction.  Since it isn't a form of scrying, we figured it wouldn't alert him to our presence.  Indeed it didn't, and we were surprised to learn that the dance pointed at his ruined keep.  Had a portion of it managed to survive?  Vlage had told me of Nikolaus' discovery in Nymriell's lab, and it was worrisome that he might still have access to his research."

"Yes, yes, thank you for reminding me.  We had indeed sent a note to the Druid's Council, giving an update on our progress.  You see, we didn't expect that the party was actually going to do anything about the portal, given their fear of Nymriell.  Nor did any of them seem to have a clue how to seal the portal.  So we sent a bird to request for something that might help."

"Several hours later, a bird flew through the window and landed on Vlage's knee.  He took the note the bird carried, and read it.  Big mistake.  The note had been intercepted by the evil mage, and cursed with a spell.  Vlage turned and attacked me!  Gladriel and Rommel and the others had been through something like this once before, when their dwarf attacked the party in an attempt to destroy Jilas' body.  Now they had to face yet another mad companion."

"Pardon?  Oh, it had something to do with a misguided dwarven belief that once you're dead you should stay that way.  The ridiculous thing about it is that you can't return to life unless you want to, so it's obviously not their decision.  In their eyes, however, if you want to return you've obviously been corrupted in some fashion and are considered as evil and worthy of destruction as the undead, themselves.  Poor Jilas.  What he went through..."

"Anyway, after attacking, the strangest thing happened.  Vlage lowered his sword and just stood there.  Jilas took it from him, but then he tried to attack again.  Then he stopped and stood there again.  He was all over the map, one moment angry, another sad, another muttering about nothing, another trying to attack.  Quinn looked him over, and concluded he was under the effect of an insanity spell.  He took the scroll and burned it, barely avoiding being poisoned by the toxic fumes that arose from the charred scroll.  That Nymriell was one sadistic old man."

"We spent some time discussing how to help Vlage, when the temple priest came in.  He had heard the commotion, and wanted to find out what happened.  When told, he once again expressed a strong desire for the party to depart, as they'd been nothing but trouble since they'd arrived.  However, he did agree to restore Vlage for a mere 6,000 gp 'tithe'.  Greedy religious zealot!"

"The party didn't have the gold to spend, so they said something about sending Quinn back to the bar to draw more tattoos.  Apparently he'd been doing this the night before, giving assorted patrons tattoos of the stripper who had deflowered our wild elf.  So while I stayed to watch over Vlage, the party once again separated to do their own thing."

"Then something unexpected happened.  Gladriel, Rommel and Quinn vanished.  For an entire day we searched for them, when they reappeared again -- less Rommel's left leg."

"It seems Gladriel had been scheming over the previous few days, on a means of eliminating Nymriell.  I have to admit, it was gutsy.  It was also foolhardy, as he managed to get two of his companions killed.  I also began questioning the term 'party,' since he hadn't brought his 'party' in on his plans.  After all, was Jilas who had most been wronged by Nymriell, and he was never given the chance to face the mage."

"You see, Gladriel had spent their time in the bar communicating with Rommel and Quinn via a series of sendings.  In this manner they could plan without being overheard.  Each of them ran a number of errands over the following few days, picking up equipment or studying spells that might be effective against their arch-nemesis.  Finally, having acquired all the necessary knowledge and supplies, they hatched their plan."

"One evening, Rommel announced that he wanted to sleep outside the city gates.  Gladriel and Quinn decided to accompany him, in case he needed help.  Nymriell had already plagued the party with nightmares and attacked with retrievers, so they didn't want to leave him unprotected."

"Rommel fell asleep, while the other two watched.  Gladriel apparently was keeping an eye on Rommel, watching for signs of a bad dream.  As soon as he saw Rommel begin to twitch and cry out in his sleep, Gladriel cast dispel evil causing Nymriell's spell to backfire!  He then cast a number of protective spells on the party, and teleported all three of them to Nymriell's keep."

"As they later told us, the party found themselves facing a stunned Nymriell, three undead, and three demons.  Gladriel destroyed two of the undead, but the third was something they described as a many-armed skeleton, and which was unaffected by Gladriel's power.  It is this creature which severed Rommel's leg in the battle that followed."

"Upon approaching the mage some sort of fire shield activated, burning each of the party.  Quinn jumped up to attack Nymriell, and ended up stunned when he triggered a trap on the mage's desk.  Rommel battled the skeleton thing, while Gladriel cast a number of pass the years spells on Nymriell, before eventually finding himself under attack from the party's old companion, Yama.  Fortunately they were all safe from the demons, as Gladriel had previously cast protection from evil."

"I'm sorry, my mind is wandering again.  Where was I?  Yes, thank you dear.  Yama.  Yama had attacked the party with an ice storm.  It caused Rommel and Gladriel some significant harm, though by this point Rommel was already in pretty bad shape.  He had fought valiantly with the skeleton, only to lose one of his legs to an attack by one of the skeleton's razor-sharp blades.  He fought on, but eventually succumbed.  Rommel fell dead to the floor, leaving only Gladriel standing."

"Gladriel was still safe from the demons, but first had to deal with Yama.  He cast some sort of fire-based spell, alighting the evil necromancer and causing him to flee.  He then turned his attention to the skeleton, killing it.  Or was it the ice storm that killed the skeleton?  I can't remember.  It was long ago, and all second hand.  Regardless, Gladriel could now focus on Nymriell uninterrupted, and proceeded to cast his final pass the years."

"Pass the years is a terrifying spell, in that it causes the target to age.  And age Nymriell did.  Four castings managed to age the man only nine years, but it did the trick. Gladriel had succeeded in killing Nymriell by natural causes.  Heh, heh.  That's pretty funny, if you think about it.  Killing someone by natural causes."

"When Nymriell died, he exploded.  No doubt the result of some final, twisted trick the old man had up his sleeve.  The explosion had the unpleasant side effect of killing Quinn, who was still stunned on the mage's desk.  Gladriel gathered up his friends' bodies, and somehow managed to walk to the Plane of Good.  He remained there a day, raising Rommel and Quinn after he was rested, and finally returning the three to Whitehall.  Finally the party was free of Nymriell!  Vlage and I celebrated by fetching Cody and getting the hell out of the city for the day.  Jilas wanted to come with us, and I wanted to take him as he'd been stuck in this city for a week and perverted by it, but he wouldn't have been able to keep up.  We were leaving the city to run, and run we did.  It was nice, after all that time indoors, to be on four legs again!"

"But before we left that morning, a note arrived from the Druid's Council.  We had sent another message the previous day, since our first had been intercepted.  Only this time, the response was legitimate and the Council had sent what we requested.  We were now ready to deal with the portal, and the party no longer had an excuse.  We made arrangements to leave Whitehall the following morning, then set out for our day in the woods."

"Now it's time for bed.  No, don't argue.  I've been talking for half an hour, and you need to get your rest.  I'll continue the story tomorrow.  You've already heard it, so what happens next shouldn't be much of a surprise.  Tanaia, would you help your brother?  That's a good girl.  Sarah, don't forget to go potty first.  I love you too, sweetheart.  Good night..."

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