Dealing with Elliana (not)
We argue long into the night about how to get the Left Eye of Varrien from Elliana.
The clerics of Phanator refuse to help us, not wanting to start a conflict with the Church of Elloran. I think we all know Elliana and her protector are far too strong for us, but the thought of simply letting the woman leave is intolerable.
Gritting our teeth, we resolve to confront her. Our plan is to waylay them at dawn, try to take them unawares, use Alix’s magic as protection.
None of it goes to plan. Elliana and her henchman take a different route than expected, so we have to chase them. They stop and frown, as though we’re merely annoying insects (and not the giant kind).
Then they kick our arses.
One attempt to engage Tob is all I need to realise I don’t have a chance against him, and then a magical blade is whirling around him in all directions, seriously wounding Blizzard. Nightshade and I manage to get out of the way, but…
In under a minute our entire party is fleeing in the opposite direction. Elliana sends a friendly fireball after us as a final ‘fuck you’.
That was fun.
Elliana leaves with the Left Eye and the taste of failure is bitter.
Are we ever getting out of Issimbaal?
We need to regroup.
Even were I not sworn to retrieve the Right Eye, it seems more important than ever, in case it’s Elliana’s ambition to bring the two Eyes together to raise the goddess of destruction. If only she’d talked to me when I attempted to discover her goal, instead of bespelling me into being her slave. At least that curse has been broken by my recent death and resurrection.
We know Elliana is looking for magic portals, perhaps to reach Tel Marrenor and the Right Eye, lost deep in the broken forest. We considered offering to accompany her on her long journey, but with Nightshade stricken with the zombie disease, she needs the priests here to find the cure.
I’m already half-regretting our decision to confront Elliana. I don’t know whether we could have trusted her and Tob enough to travel with them, but that option must surely now be lost to us, along with the Left Eye.
I don’t know what to do.
The next few days pass slowly for me as we remain in Issimbaal. Squirrel is busy learning new spells, the others are poring over books from the libraries; meanwhile I’m at a total loose end, my mind turning everything over and over and over until I want to scream. I hang out with Fleet, and try to calm down by teaching her a new trick.
Those hitting the books find out stuff about the flail and the Eyes, and acquire a couple of maps that could be useful. They don’t discover much about the zombie disease, other than the knowledge it was cast by mages in conjunction with priests of Bahaal. It’s possible the spell creation took place in the Temple of Death, which is about 200 miles down the road.
Helping the priests find a cure for this zombie disease has become a bit of a fixation. Nightshade needs it. Not only has she become a friend in the weeks we’ve known her, but her knowledge of the forest, and her passion for saving it, will help us in our quest to retrieve the Right Eye. No doubt she’ll be just as pleased to avenge the Dark Tree too, as we promised the tree ent.
For as long as we’re in this abandoned and now charred city, every night we search for zombies. But they too seem to have abandoned the city, and our hunt is fruitless.
After several days we take the hunt into the broken and deserted lands outside Issimbaal. It’s morning, sunny, and I easily find the tracks of six humanoids, some of which are larger than humans.
(Interestingly, I also find two sets of separate human tracks, likely to be Elliana and Tob, heading in the direction of the Temple of Bahaal — which is decidedly not the direction we expected. It also happens to coincide with our proposed next destination…)
But it’s the zombies I’m interested in for now. Maybe one of these holds the key to the disease.
We’ve been going for about two hours, and I know we’re really close to the band I’m tracking, when my peripheral vision picks up shapes looming to either side and — no warning — we’re under attack.
Fuck. We’re surrounded. Fleet! Fleet is getting ripped into. No!
My brave, bleeding cat falls to the ground.
The world shrinks to her sand-coloured fur, tufts torn out, rivers of red. I’m on my knees at her side, fumbling with a cure light wounds spell. She’s still warm. But my hands tremble too much for me to tell if she’s alive.
My limbs are wooden, my heart empty, as I lurch to my feet. I stand over Fleet, and take in the battle that is all my fault. I led us into an ambush. All. My. Fault.
But Blizzard has a zombie under his control already. One explodes nearby at Alix’s hands. I take out my fear and grief on the remaining zombies within my reach. They do not last long.
As soon as it’s over, I gather Fleet into my arms. Thanks to blessed Emrys, she’s alive. Alix heals her some more and my heart is full again. But I can’t bear to let her go. Her fur is soft against my face. She puts up with my fussing for a while, but then she licks my face and twists out of my arms. I take a deep breath and get to my feet.
We return to Issimbaal by midday with two zombies under Blizzard’s command. Hopefully the clerics can do something with them.
I just want to curl up in a corner with Fleet and feel her warmth against my side, her rhythmic purr vibrating through my bones.
Fleet (a desert cat) is Zillah’s second animal companion. Her first was Ash, a dog, who was killed in the broken forest. All our D&D adventures are listed in order with links on the D&D Chronicles page.