Taxmen: High Risk Unit #8

(Notes from my Dungeons and Dragons campaign: first post here)

The taxmen wake up groggy after a late night and sleepwalk to the inn. It's late in the morning and the innkeepers smiles broadly at the customers whom he saw just a few hours ago. It's a windy day and the group orders warm food and talk of inconsequentialities.

And then Panna walks in, in conversation with someone who looks - and I think this is the technical term - unfuckwithable. They recognize her from a large tapestry on the wall of the Baron's palace. It's the legendary folk hero, Nissa Ben Naga.

They shout greetings and Panna breaks into a grin when she recognises them. There are cheerful embraces and the group is eager to find out where she's been. She introduces Nissa Ben Naga and tells them about how the warrior saved her and how they've been travelling ever since. They've been going from one Asavansi temple to another, healing the invisible chords that bound them to each other. Sometimes this involved kicking some Dalsana ass but that was just an added benefit.

There's a shout from outside: "Gul'dan!"

Gul'dan, looking delighted, mutters a spell and walks straight out the door, hungry for a fight. He seems someone who looks vaguely familiar but whom he can't quite place. He's carrying Baron Hammer's coat of arms but who really knows one soldier from another?

The soldier speaks: "Gul'dan Throat-cutter, I fear it is time to die. I am Kelvin Proja. Ever since you murdered my beloved, these last few days have been a living nightmare. You left her lips cold and her fingers unmoving, those fingers that would cares ... okay, that's not the point. I have named my blade Revenge and it hungers for your blood!"

With that, Kelvin Proja takes aim and fires a crossbow at him. But Gul'dan steps aside, dodging it casually. He probably says something cool, I can't be sure. Chipak tries to help out but only succeeds in putting himself to sleep. Even so, the fight is brief and ends with Gul'dan holding Kelvin Proja's face as he sends him to the grave. Proja's skin shrivels up but before he dies, through gritted teeth, he says that this will happen again.

While the fight is going on, Ea is cosying upto Nissa Ben Naga. This is a thing now apparently. When Gul'dan re-enters the inn with the groggy Chipak, he's asked to explain. Shrugging, he explains that he had to kill Hilda to ensure Isilda got the throne, based on a deal struck with the King. Proja was probably a boyfriend of some kind, he hazards. At first, there's moral outrage. Ea is adamant that assasination is a step too far. Gul'dan says he was just listening to their common employer and goes back to eating.

Nissa Ben Naga speaks a little, telling them of her age. Panna asks the group if they'll help her but she's oblique about when, where and why.

At this point, a familiar high-pitched voice rents the air. They turn to see Darius at the door with ten Dalsana warriors. While the warriors are focused on Nissa, Darius is pointing at the taxmen and exclaiming: " Those tax collectors, they robbed and left me to die in the woods. They are clearly in league with the insurgents! Do not spare them!"

Chaos ensues.

Crossbolts come flying but are somehow stopped in midair when Nissa and her shield materialize in front of the group. There are six thuds as the bolts are all caught in the shield. With a swing, she breaks the arrows and sits back down. She gestures to the taxmen who get the point. Gul'dan raises his hands and blazing fire comes arcing out. Chipak does the same. Marlowe flips a table, Ea fires arrows and Tuck charges at the the soldiers now running at them. The air is full of smoke and the smell of metal and burning hair. There are screams of pain from the Dalsana warriors. After a few long seconds, Nissa Ben Naga steps up, loosens her shoulders and blurs. She moves from warrior to warrior, slicing and silencing. Soon, the room is silent. Except for heavy breathing.

Nissa nods at the group and indicates that they follow her out. As they walk out of the town, a crowd forms around the destruction at the inn. Panna tells them about Nissa's centuries long quest to heal the links between the Asavansi temples. But there's an easier way, healing them from the inside. The temples were all linked through Asavansi and while the god is dead, the pathways of his extradimensional body still exist. They can be walked. But Nissa cannot enter and Panna cannot go alone as all manners of eldritch beasts have invaded the space. Will the group enter and heal the tears from within? As time and space work differently there, they could finish the entire task within what would seem like a few minutes from the outside. Once this is done, Panna and Nissa would attempt to revive the dead god.

It was a dangerous task but ey that's what makes it a challenge, right? The imminent threat of death? The group says yes. Nissa begins focusing, her body seems to freeze, pixelate, sharpen into angles and fractals and then she steps forward leaving a human-shaped hole into nothingness where there was air. The portal is filled with a sooty mist that seems to slip out but is not actually moving at all. Chipal and Gul'dan charge in! Panna follows sedately.

Ea gives Nissa a hug and the warrior looks genuinely moved. But then her brow furrows. She looks at the half-demon/half-elf and mentions her strange ancestry, only because someone similar attacked her once as a part of an attempt on her life by Bal-Jabbar. Bal-Jabbar's people have been trying to kill her for centuries. Ea is flummoxed. This might be her sister. After so many years, could it be?

As she forms the words for her next questions, there's a blue flash and suddenly the group is surrounded by blue armoured elven warriors. Nissa roars and shoves the three of them through the portal. The last thing they hear is her war cry. Then darkness.

Photo Credit: Choo Yut Shing on flickr