Episode 48: the Heist, Part 4
The party briefly considered what to do with the beholder, a creature of unspeakable evil and terror, but a creature held prisoner for centuries. While they considered whether to kill the Beholder and ends its suffering, the Caretaker suddenly placed an empty bucket over his head and raced out of the chamber, muttering “balls balls balls balls.” The adventurers had only a moment to consider this bizarre behaviour before 3 green balls appeared floating in mid-air above the restrained beholder. The balls appeared to be flesh, and the party watched with concern as they each sprouted four stubby eye-stalks, a central eye and wide mouths filled with needle-sharp teeth: gazers, apparently brought into existence by the hallucinations of the drug-addled beholder.
One gazer shot across the room and bit Sirlius on the nose; Magnus and Ara quickly dispatched the creatures, but it was then that the true threat was revealed: a terrifying, ghostly apparition of a beholder-like creature appeared, partially visible in the flicking light. Though closely resembling a beholder, this entity appear to move in and out of reality, disappearing and reappearing at will. It engaged the party, who were frustrated to learn it seemed immune to all physical attacks, and even magic had only minor impact. Yuna’s divine radiance and Sirlius’s infernal necromancy proved to be the exceptions, and together they began striking at the creature in earnest.
Realizing the apparition was some sort of projection from the mind of the beholder shackled into the floor, Magnus began attacking it instead, hoping to dispel the dream-made-manifest. They quickly succeeded in killing the restrained the creature, Yuna’s radiant spells reducing it to a fleshy, soupy mess that rained down into the chamber below. But their actions had no effect on the spectral monster, which continued to attack with its eye rays.
One ray hit Keen, who fell unconscious at their feet. Before his comrades could react, the creature inserted its ethereal tendrils directly into his brain and disappearing. Keen underwent a horrible transformation: long, fleshy tendrils burst from the sides of his skull, each with an eye open upon its tip, and a red, baleful beholder’s eye opened in his skull. Rising into the air, the rogue began to attack his companions, beams of energy shooting at random from his many eyes. Sirlius sent bolts of necrotic energy across the room, picking off two of the eye stalks, but it was Keen who shrieked in rage and agony as the powerful magic ate into the flesh.
Unsure of how to destroy their adversary without killing their companion, the party attempted to subdue him with the Hat of True Frog. Ara successfully paced it on Keen, who instantly transformed into a tiny green frog – a frog with 6 eye stalks, which continued to fire beams of magic. The frog leapt into the air and fell through the large circular hole in the floor, landing thirty feet below in the vault antechamber. The force of the impact knocked the frog unconscious, restoring Keen to his humanoid shape. The spectral beholder released its possession of him then, and rose up through the hole. But as it did, a quick-thinking Magnus trapped the creature in his Iron Flask.
With the beholder destroyed, its manifested dream contained within the Iron Flask and the Caretaker having fled, the party decided to descend down into the antechamber. Keen awoke from his magical sleep to find himself laying in a pool of partially-liquified beholder flesh. Examining the room they found the antechamber to have two doors, one south, presumably leading back to the bank, and one at the end of a small connecting passageway to the north, leading to the inner vault. The walls were adorned with bas relief detailing the heroic exploits of the Pashtum family – exploits completely fabricated, according to Magnus.
The vault chamber door was locked and trapped, but Keen recognized the style from the Greencrack Copper Mine’s treasury, which was also built by Thorimfel dwarves, and found the combination to the vault encoded in the bas relief decoration of the opposite door. Unlocking the vault door, the party entered to find a dimensional portal awaiting them.
With Sirlius speaking the account number associated with the Dragonhead coin aloud as he had seen in his vision previously, the party approached the portal, which distended, encircled them, and pulled them through. They found themselves standing in a dense white fog, frigid air biting at their lungs. A deep, menacing voice greeted them from within the fog, and it was then that the party learned the true nature of the Pashtum Bank Vault: it was the treasure horde of an ancient white dragon.
The immense dragon declared itself Baishe Falak, Lord of Ice, and regarded the party with contempt. “You are not Sunanas Ravencloak,” it said, “Why should I permit you to withdraw his artefact, so recently returned?” The party attempted to bargain, to ingratiate themselves with the dragon with some limited success, and it agreed to allow them to withdraw the Dragonhead if they met the terms of the vault: an equal exchange of value. In conversation they learned the Dragonhead had first been withdrawn by one Jeffrey Pashtum with an exchange of ten thousand platinum, which Falak declared to be the party’s price.
The party attempted to bargain, asking if perhaps they could borrow it. They offered the Hat of True Frog, which Falak rejected due to its “stink of Fey filth.” They attempted to appeal to its good nature by declaring themselves part of a noble quest to save creation, which Falak, a being of ancient and terrible evil, found extremely funny. They somewhat hastily offered to free the dragon from its agreement with the Pashtums, only to learn that Falak’s contract was with Rimmon, deposed lord of the 8th Circle of Hell who bargained on the Pashtum’s behalf. As they continued, Baishe Falak, at first amused, became irritated and then angry. Reluctantly, Keen offered the platinum statue of Yi-Na-Ho-Tep which he had stolen from the Temple of the Moon. Falak’s icy blue eyes glinted greedily at this, and declared it a worthy exchange. Keen then taunted the ancient white dragon with the statue, feigning to surrender it only to snatch it away from its huge talons.
With a screech of rage, the dragon attacked Keen. The nimble rogue dodged the blast of the dragon’s breath weapon and its massive tail, but the party realized they faced a foe well beyond them, and their destruction was immanent. It was then that Yuna, exhausted from the long, dangerous climb up the mountainside, facing down the dangers of penetrating the bank and the encounter with a hallucinating beholder, summoned the last of her energy and cast a Calm Emotions spell. Such was her might that not even the enraged Baishe Falak, Lord of Ice, could resist, and the dragon left off its attack, its wrath barely contained. Yuna declared they would complete the exchange, and they would leave immediately, vowing never to return. Keen wisely gave up the platinum statue; the dragon snatched it up, disappeared into the interior of its icy lair, and returned with the Dragonhead, which he gave directly to Yuna.
Their business concluded, the dragon then somewhat contritely declared that it would permit the party to remain and entertain him. Keen began to argue that Magnus, in his position as scion of House Pashtum, should interrogate the dragon for information, but the party dragged him away into the fog and together returned through the portal to the interior of the Pashtum Bank Vault deep in the Redfall Mountains.
They were immediately met by Panaver Knacklebun, the bank manager that had so discourteously thrown them out of the Bank the day before, along with 12 bank guards and none other than Bartok Brescht, the captain-general of the Umani City Watch. “You see? You see?! I told you! Arrest them,” the gnome yelled.
Hat of True Frog Rank: Gift That Keeps On Giving
Drug-Induced Beholder Hallucination Rating: Trippy
Murder/Suicides By Dragon: 0/1
RP Rating: Awesome!