Exit Stage Right
Out of Character:
I wanted to write up a post for what I should have said while we were still playing. You know, that French phrase, spirit of the stairs, where you think about the things you COULD have said after it doesn’t matter? Well, the beautiful thing about role playing is that you can go back and say them in fiction.
I worked with Dan on this back and forth to accomplish what is listed in the fiction. I apologize in advance if anyone thinks I misused their character. Beat me senseless when the time is right!
In the bottom of the ravine, looking up as the giants demand surrender.
[Self-Induced Skill Challenge: successful!]
“ENOUGH!” Xenophanes slammed the slick blade of the incisive dagger into the frozen ground. The blade slid in as if through butter and stuck fast. He dropped the heavy iron rod in his left hand, an entire universe within reflecting against the ravine wall.
“You wish us to surrender? We will surrender, but I will speak. And you will listen!”
Xenophanes pried off the cool metal ring on his left hand and stared upwards into the flickering torchlight above.
“We came here for one purpose: to kill Vecna. You do not have him, but you have something precious to him that we require and you will give it to us, one way or the other.” The warlock spoke, playing from a false position of strength believing the giants unwilling to respond to meekness.
“We came here to end the rule of a dark tyrant upon these lands. A tyrant for which you owe no allegiance. A tyrant which would sooner see you dead and undead than allow your continued existence. A tyrant which could accomplish such a feat if only he would deign look your direction.” Above, the giants grew silent, unsure about the course of this tirade, but now thinking about more than simply crushing the heroes below.
Xenophanes began to undo the cincture across his waist and dropped his pouches to the ground around him. His gaze, however, did not waver.
“You have no use for the item we seek. In fact, its continued presence in these halls poses a danger to you and yours. What will you do against a God? What will you do when he learns you possess his favored gift? You will give it to us, instead, so that we may destroy it, and him, and he shall bother you no more.” Xenophanes hoped to impress upon the giants the danger of the item they kept. Perhaps, if nothing else, they would be willing to relinquish it to remove any potential ire of a dark god?
“You think to yourselves: ‘Why should we listen to this puny thing? We can just kill him, or torture him, or drop ice upon his head and laugh’ and I respond with mockery. You waste your time with us. You, who are literal giants among men, resign yourselves to fighting your foes in a pathetic position. Are we so dangerous that you must trap us down here in order to kill us? Are we not weaklings in your eyes, things to be discarded, not considered? Ignore my request, if you wish, but know that you are lowering yourselves to the level of insect when you trap us here for your amusement. It is pathetic.” The giants grumbled in response, unwilling to tolerate this insult, but also unwilling to appear to be debasing themselves to the level of “common brigand.”
Xenophanes finished removing his gear, standing still amid the discarded items wearing only tight wrappings around his lower half. His upper body revealed a network of sucker-made scars, wicked and puffy, some throbbing as he spoke.
“I, who have been prisoner in a realm beyond reason for over a century, will not continue this farce any longer. It is not only beneath you, it is beneath me and mine to consider further aggression. In fact, it is likely that my allies have already taken the item we wish. And it does not matter that you kill us. They will search the realms for our souls and pull us back toward our purpose. To kill a god that seeks the destruction of all life. Yours and mine.”
“I make my offer one last time, friend giants. Take us to your Jarl. Give us the item in question. Take of my items what you will in recompense. I care not, as long as the way to destroy the evil lich is ours. Consider what you lose by giving it to us and allowing us to live: a trinket and a few hours amusement as we die. Consider what you gain: allies who may kill a god and, if we succeed, a power vacuum. Who shall fill the roll that Vecna leaves behind? Who will take his authority for their own? I seek it not, for certain. Perhaps the Giants shall rise instead?”
The giants considered the odd request placing a temporary hold on the tension building in the room. Xenophanes closed his eyes and finally turned his face back to the ground, whispering dark and unintelligible words. He reached out to the elf Perren at his side and looked over at the bear-form of the dwarf. He whispered, softly, just loud enough for each to hear.
“We will go with them. If they refuse us, killing them is only a matter of time.”
A voice suddenly bellowed from above. “We accept your terms, pathetic creature! It is beneath the mighty frost giants to treat you like truly dangerous foes. Come up out of that hole without your weapons and we will take you to our jarl. You can speak to him of killing gods.”
Xenophanes smiled nodding to each of his allies. In minutes they had climbed upwards and stood in a half circle of enemies preparing to be bound and led. A soft chime interrupted the proceedings and each of the giants began to look around for the source of the sound.
The elf, Perren, leaned over to whisper to his allies. “Our friends are back. Be ready.”
“Boss? What you doing boss?” One of the frost giant subordinates watched in confusion as, inexplicably, the largest frost giant began calmly walking away from the rest in the direction of the ravine. He stopped at the edge and looked down with a beatific smile on his face as if observing some beautiful apparition that only he could see.
The chiming sound occurred again, deeper in the tunnels, and all eyes turned away from the commander. Suddenly, a misty form rose up out of the ground and solidified with a dark smile. A quick slash and stab dropped the giant. Directly next to the vampire, the wizard appeared, whispering in a manner of calm nonchalance: “Jump.”
The giant jumped.
Chaos ensued. In a heartbeat, Xenophanes followed the giant, teleporting through shadow back down the hole. The wizard and vampire held off the enemies long enough for the warlock to return the rest of the group’s lost equipment and then the tide of battle truly turned.
A running battle through the halls led finally to the opening of the vast underground network. The heroes exploded out of the frost giant’s realm into a furious snowstorm.
Standing there before the group was their wayward captain, hands upon her hips.
“It’s about time. Let’s go.” Rikki Cooper turned and led the way back to the frozen boat and the choppy, icy seas.