Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chapter 91 - Trial of the Gods: Lolth

An inky darkness enveloped us as we entered the second floor of the dungeon. Thankfully, between our abilities and Kylana’s spells, we did not need to carry lights to give away our position, as magic let us see in the darkness. But even then, that meant that we could only see the rough walls around us. Gone were the worked stone walls of the last floor. This felt like something more natural.

When I heard the skittering in the dark, I knew which deity was testing us now.

As calmly as I could manage, I said, “Everyone stay together. Watch for traps, and watch for enemies above. This is the Spider Queen’s gift to us. Expect spiders and drow.” With that, we moved out, staying as quiet as we could (which wasn’t very, considering that some of us were in heavy armor), slowly trying to find our way in the branching tunnels of this maze.

And a maze it was, like the labrynths of myth. Even without the threat of enemies to fight, and loot to discover, there was the ever present danger of getting well and truly lost. Without the ‘Traveler Magic’ that allowed us to keep maps of the area we passed through, we almost surely would have gotten lost by now.

We fought spiders as they appeared. Lots of spiders. Really, like LOTS of spiders, from swarms of little ones to spiders the size of a large wolf. There was some decent loot, especially if you were into poisons and arachnid-themed crafting supplies, and once Kamla found a chest containing several potions, which was always nice.

Of course, the easy times had to come to an end. That end came when we found a wide cavern with webs strung across the area tightly enough to form a floor over the space inside. Below the webs was an inky darkness that went down who knew how far. In the center of the web was a giant spider, perhaps the size of a small van, guarding an ornate black chest shaped to look like a spider.

Abyssal Web Queen
Monstrous Spider
Level 70
Titles: Incubus Bane, Manslayer, Lolth’s Pet

I was fairly certain that this thing had been placed here especially to try and kill me, or at least weaken me. And I couldn’t go with the time-honored ‘kill it with hellfire’ approach, because the flames had a good chance of burning the web, and sending us all into an unknown abyss. Falling forever just to go splat wasn’t on my list of ways to experience death in this game.

Thankfully, the webbing was thick enough that we could walk and move almost normally, but it was sticky, slowing us down. This made what should have been a fairly easy fight into a longer, more drawn-out affair. Still, beating things until they stop moving is kindof our schtick, so it wasn’t too long before we managed to kill the thing.

Left Eye of the Queen
This purple gem is about the size of a man’s fist. Outside the Trial of the Gods, it would have significant value, but removing it from the trial means giving up on the rest of the dungeon, for the Left Eye of the Queen is one of two keys needed to pass this level of the Trial.

All spiders will be drawn to you.

I sighed as I looked at the gem. Turning to the others, I said, “Guess we’re hunting through the rest of this maze for the other one.”

This level was as sadistic as one might expect from the Spider Queen. Oh sure, none of the challenges were impossible to overcome. But they just kept coming, rarely giving us time to rest and recover. Or there would be things that limited our options, making us work harder for our wins. In some ways, it was a scale version of what she had done to the drow for all this time, throwing them into a crucible to make them stronger. Well, the ones that lived, at least.

It took two hours of near-constant fighting to find the next ‘boss’. Sure, the level of the opponents was only in the 40s, but without any time to rest, we were starting to make mistakes. This level was wearing us down, slowly but surely.

Abyssal Poison Queen
Monstrous Spider
Level 70
Titles: Incubus Bane, Manslayer, Lolth’s Pet

This fight was somewhat different. The spider was just as large as before, but instead of forcing us out onto a web, it preferred to stay up the walls, out of reach, spitting poison and acid attacks at us. It also had a bunch of little spiders that it called on to keep harassing us, and make sure we couldn’t just burn it with long-range attacks. Worse, the poison and acid actually HEALED the little spiders.

Right Eye of the Queen
This purple gem is about the size of a man’s fist. Outside the Trial of the Gods, it would have significant value, but removing it from the trial means giving up on the rest of the dungeon, for the Right Eye of the Queen is one of two keys needed to pass this level of the Trial.

All spiders will be drawn to you.

We collapsed around the chest that appeared when we had finally finished the battle. Needing to take a while to rest and recover, Kylana and I blocked the entrances to the wide cavern we were in with walls of hellfire, giving us some time to catch our breath without having to deal with attacks from spiders, at least for a little while.

Once we had rested, we began trekking towards where the center of the labrynth seemed to be. From what I had seen on my map, this level was laid out like a spiderweb, so the final goal (and the way to the next level) would almost certainly be in the center. The attacks from before had not let up. Indeed, it seemed that now that I had both keys, the attacks were coming even faster than before.

No longer able to take things slow and cautious with all the denizens of this massive web being pulled toward us, we went as quickly as we could and not set off every trap that littered the large hallway we were now passing through. It was a brutal, blitzkrieg-style battle as we attacked with full power anything that stood in our way, forcing a hole large enough that we could pass through.

Finally, we fought our way through to the center. And just like that, the attacks had stopped, the spiders kept back by wards placed upon this massive room. Upon a large stone dais, there was a great statue made of obsidian. It looked like a female drider, but far more impressive, even with it being only stone. Standing twenty feet tall, I noticed two gaps in the statue, where the eyes would be.

Taking the extremely subtle hint (ok, about as subtle as a Wiley Coyote plan), Nithroel and I flew up, and placed the two Eyes in their proper places. There was a pulse, a wave of power emitted from the statue, and we quickly rejoined the others on the ground. I motioned Jastra to stand next to me. Her insight would be helpful for whatever came next.

Avatar of Lolth
Divine Avatar Female
Level 900 <Hidden> / <Hidden>
Titles: <Hidden>

“Well, shit.”

I took a deep breath as the statue began moving, and somehow morphed into a living being. I’m not saying it was Dieties, but Dieties. Heh. I crack myself up sometimes. When the statue’s metamorphosis into an avatar of one of the nastiest goddesses in the game was complete, I looked over to Jastra, to see her already prostrating herself. Well, that was to be expected, I guess.

Still, the Avatar’s attention wasn’t on her. Jastra might be pleased by that, but the fact that the Avatar was looking directly at me was not something I was too pleased about, honestly. This feeling got worse once she started speaking.

“So, this is the impudent male who dared make a vow in my name? And so soon after, he dares to intrude upon my Trial?”

I took a breath, and offered a sweeping bow. “Lady Lolth, Queen of the Spiders and the one from which the Drow learned all their best qualities, this humble mortal is pleased to make your acquaintance, though I had not dreamed it was a possibility, that one as lofty as yourself would take notice of one such as me.”

The Avatar chuckled darkly as it advanced, but I made no move to draw a weapon or take a defensive position. I was good, but a level difference of over 800 was more than even I could overcome. If this turned to combat, I would be dead, pure and simple. With that in mind, the choice became equally simple: don’t let it turn to combat.

“I take notice of all those who make vows in my name, mortal. Especially when that one takes a vow naming three other dieties at the same time. What do you seek to gain from this, I wonder?”

“That much is simple, your Worship. I am a Traveler, as you know. In coming to this world, I’m seeking new experiences and entertainments, not looking to be tied down with cumbersome duties like a Paladin might. But circumstances forced me to venture into the lands of the Drow, which is a somewhat hazardous proposition for one like myself, who is both male and not a Drow. I could use magic to disguise myself, but such things are imperfect, and draw the wrong kind of attention when noticed.”

“I had no idea what effect the Vow might have before uttering it, but at the very least, I figured that convincing Emissary Creirda of my intent may earn me some leeway in being allowed to enter those lands without fighting a battle of attrition that I would surely lose. The fact that it puts me as being anything better than hostile to your followers is already better than I had hoped for.”

“Hmph. And what are your plans when you go and fulfill your slave’s wish to get revenge on her family? And why should I allow you to go and destabilize things in my realm?”

I shrugged, and said, “Well, if they are so weak as to be taken down by the likes of me and mine, are Jastra’s family really worth your protection? From all I know of the Drow, you have set upon them trial after trial, that removes the weak from their society, keeping them strong. I could be just another trial to face some individuals with. Sure, I may not be as grave a trial as the machinations of another Drow house, but surely it can compare to some of the dangers of the Underdark?”

The Avatar narrowed her eyes at me. “Clever, Incubus. Clever. Well, if you wish to be a trial to the faithful, then I will give you a challenge. A quest, befitting your nature.”

New Divine Quest!

Chaos in Amyaththalas

 In your eagerness to avoid giving Lolth reason to smite you for your impertinence, you have instead given her an idea on a way to properly ‘test’ you, and some of her followers, as well. You must head to the citadel of the Drow, their great capitol of Amyaththalas, and complete three tasks. First, you must impregnate the Matron of the ruling House of Amyaththalas. Second, you must enslave the High Priestess of Lolth. Third, you must kill the Grand Archmage, the most powerful arcane spellcaster in the city. This quest cannot be declined, and the consequences for failure are… harsh.
S - Divine
Impregnate Matron Fosanri Kalreban,
Enslave High Priestess Tamzrin Drorval,
Kill Grand Archmage Vimoss Yilrat.
Fail to do any of the three tasks.
Increased Reputation with Lolth
Increased Reputation with Drow
A scaling item for each member of your party.
Death, with the souls of all your party being bound and enslaved to Lolth for eternal torment.

“Now go. I await news of your deeds.” And with a cruel laugh, the Avatar disappeared, leaving only a long spiral staircase made of obsidian behind.

Trial of Lolth passed. The Queen of Spiders has tested your strength and resilience against her children, and you have triumphed in this crucible. Having faced an avatar of the Goddess herself, you have earned a chance to gain favor with her, or face a fate worse than death.
HP and MP restored to full. All cooldowns reset.
All rewards delayed until completion of the Trial of the Gods.

I sighed, and said, “Well, that went well.”

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Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Tales of the Void Traveler

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey
Volume 4 - To the Deeps

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story):

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