[Actual Play] Like Unto Gods Pt. II (AD&D 2e); Legions of Chaos

And so it was the Five were reinforced anew, as the Last of their number descended from the sanctum of Angril-Shaba. Vaus Argrûl, Fifth Yogi of ascension and Lama of Law, had meditated long upon the intricate complexities of Law and Good, and was at last ready to deliver his philosophies with a destroying palm and the boons of the Four Wind Gods. Gyges had returned from whatever errand they were running, speaking nothing of his fate. They interrogated the half-ogre chieftain, took from him his armaments, and asked of him many questions concerning the Wizard Azureax, little of which he knew. The gold of the tribe they left upon their return to civilization, to be collected by their soldiers, but upon arrival they found it had been taken, perhaps by the white dragon.

It was time to tame The Cradle of the Gods. Though they had practiced long their climbing arts, they found they had no need of them. Using the wizards seeing stone they travelled to 6.000 feet in one of many caves, and by combining their powers, found that the Control Weather and Control Winds spells could tame the fell storms, and dimension door and polymorphed flight was thereby possible. They travelled up to a ledge farther up, found there a suitable place, using Stone to Mud and Dig, unearthed a cavern, and teleported back, so the next day the Six could tame the mountain. More divination was cast, but on this day, as they were every day, the Gods were silent.

The next day they teleported in, all six, to the cavern they had made at 7200 feet. Using Wings of Flight, Airwalk, polymorphing into a Giant Hawk and riding on his back and Phantom steeds, with the winds tamed by divine intervention, they braved the biting cold and at long last made the summit of the Cradle of the Gods.

A narrow plateau, and on it a tower of black granite, 80′ tall and scoured by freezing winds. A single line atop its door in old runic script: “The Archmage Azureax does not dwell here, this is a trap for those foolish enough to attack him.” Beyond the door, only an empty tower, with the Archmage himself awaiting them upon a wooden hatchway. Flanked by six of his images, with a long beard and terrible dark eyes, the Archmage Azureax spoke unto them, threatening them with oblivion or worse if they would not depart. Brandoch Daha raised then the Cube of Force, Lemmikainen read from the scroll against enchantment, Gyges prepared to backstab with his envenomed dagger and enchanted blade taken from the half-ogre, but it was a bead of force, cast by the Knight Giselher that imprisoned the wizard. Vaus raised a zone of Silence, and the Six circled the wizard like panthers, waiting for the field of force that imprisoned him to drop. The second it fell he was unmade by a rain of blows shimmering with enchantment. He was but a pile of snow, a simulacra given life with high sorcery.

They had investigated all the tower, and Lemmikainen detected some magic yet lingered in that pile of snow, when with a thunderous blast it erupted, and cloaked all the tower’s innards in enchanted flame. Though 2 of the four that were were protected by enchantments, and the Rogue Gyges came away with only minor injuries, Vaun was incinerated and the bulk of his sparse collection of items destroyed. They wasted some time debating, but eventually Simeon produced the rare enchantment he had saved, the Scroll that contained the power of Wish, and with it turned back the wheel of time, altered a single roll of fate’s dice, and brought forth Argul unscathed. The hatch was itself fake.

Now Simeon invoked the power of Truesight, so that nothing was hidden, and soon they found a passage leading down in the sheer rock. They found also strange phase doors in the rock, one of which they destroyed, and for a moment Simeon shuddered at the Vast and Intricate Wards of the Sanctum, which had been erected by what must have been many wishes. Into the sanctum, they descended.

Opulent and comfortable was the Sanctum of Azureax, with halls boarded with polished yew, and delicate glass lamps enchanted with everburning light, a hearth that burned but did not smoke, and paintings of otherworldly vistas. They were met by the Simulacrum of Florimel, a woman of such unearthly beauty that it would shame even that of an Aphrodite or Helen. The creature was demurely polite, and pitied them as it poured them fine wine, lamenting that soon they would meet their destruction.

Behind a secret door unveiled by Truesight, they made their way down. They discovered then too, the nature of the protections of Azureax. A terrible, ever-present scrutiny and a slow but inexorable pressure clung to their every move, and sapped their strength, killing slowly. If they remained long they would expire unmarked amid bright lights upon carpeted hallways. Beyond the secret door was the panel, and with it, the guardian of the halls of Azureax. They would face him many times, this one only a dim shadow.

6’6, with a face as chiselled from granite, and eyes of pale azure. He held his blade and shield marked with red arrows in the fighting style from beyond the world. Sir Giselher stepped in, evaded his blow, and with his Holy Blade, dispelled the magic that sustained him, and thus he collapsed into a pile of snow. They stripped off his enchanted sword, and moved down, strangled slowly by an invisible and omnipresent force.

In the second layer of Azureax’s layer they found therein his cook in his enchanted dining room, and caught him asleep, and with minds augmented with ESP, drew the truth from him, and the pathway to his inner sanctum. They passed through the library, greeted by another shade of the terrible fighting man of the sanctum, who was merely annoyed and kept reading his book, and passed on into a room with a stone platform, that brought them inexorably down, 450 feet, into the inner Sanctum and the room of portals.

There they were met with proper force, Azureax flanked by a new fighting man, this one much more terrible, though still he was but a shadow of the real. With them were the legions of Chaos, the Grey Slaad and the Green Slaad, and they bade them return, lest they be destroyed by sorcery beyond their power. But the Six were not swayed, and queried and demanded that Azureax explain himself and sway him from his evil ways. But this Azureax too was but a simulacrum, and it knew nothing of compromise, and so war was joined in ernest.

So much happened in that first round of the fray that to track it is possible only in hindsight. Who could perceive Sir Giselher as he sprinted forward, and with his holy blade smote the Green slaad that was to call down fire upon the Six. Who would have predicted their luck, that Argul would unleash a dispelling enchantment, which failed to harm the Azureax, but slew the Warrior in one fell blow? Words of power blinded Simeon, who with his unseen servant that he had conjured, began dropping on the Slaad the Trick pieces of cloth, that would materialize into gallons of transmogrified acid, burning all before it. What then of Brandoch Daha, who was smitten by a bolt of lightning from the Death Slaad, but emerged all but unscathed. The green slaad called forth their cousins from the plane of Limbo, who stepped through a door in the void. Lemmikainen clothed himself in anti-magic, immune to nearly all enchantment. Gyges struck at the death slaad but his weapons would not touch him. After each blow he would but concentrate, and invisibility returned to him, and thus he prowled the battlefield like a ghost, each blow aimed at some Slaad’s back.

Who could have predicted that Giselher and Brandoch Daha would resist not one but two of the terrible holding enchantments of the Archmage? Who could see Simeon, in Blindness, transmute the ceiling into mud, and bury the croaking hordes under tonnes of mud, and to pummel them with slow spells afterward. Of Vaus moving up and curing his blindness with an invocation. In single combat, the Grey Slaad fell to the hammer of Brandoch Daha, the other to an Item reverted suddenly into gallons of transmuted Acid. Twin blades of Sharpness missed Brandoch daha as he duelled with the horror. A terrible wave, as of an invisible hurricane, rolled over the Six, and the Holy Blade of Sir Gisselher was snuffed out, its light dimmed by the invocation of a Wish from below. Somewhere in the complex Azureax had taken his first direct action.

In the chaos of the last few moments, with Slaad being culled left and right, struck down by ferocious might, or impervious to weapons clothed in anti-magic, the Wizard Azureax escaped then through a set of doors into one of the portal rooms. The remaining slaad, scattered by the slow spell and broken by heroic power, were cut down as they attempted to retreat.

The first true battle in Azureax’s sanctum had been won. But what further terrors did Azureax have in store for them?

The Heroes
Brandoch Daha (Ftr 17, hp 83)
Sir Gisselher (Pal 15, hp 78)
Lemmikainen Half-elven (Bard 20, hp 54)
Gyges (Thf 20, hp 69)
Simeon the Magician (Mu 15, hp 30)
Vaus Arghul (Monk 12/Cleric (Fighting Monk kit) 14 hp 55)

The Vanquished
2 Azureax Simulacrums (one slain)
2 Fighter simulacrums
2 Grey Slaad
5 Green Slaad


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