Endgames: The First Battle
Pirogoeth wiped the sweat off her forehead as she sheathed her weapons. It had been a tough battle.
A tougher lie just ahead.
---------The monsters flooded in, wave upon never ending wave of enemies. They moved forward, destroying anything that was in their path. They continued their search for Pirogoeth and Largo. With time they would have to show themselves.
She heard soft footsteps as someone approached from behind. She looked back and saw...
A tall male wizard. Necromancer. Blond hair, dark eyes. Handsome. But there was something there, behind those eyes. Great power emanated from those eyes. Was he friend or foe? Only time would tell...
As an ally he would prove to be a great help. But as an enemy he could very well prove to be her death.
---------A voice rang out.
Who had said that? Was it one of their targets?
"I can't have you killing innocents just to find me."
What was her name again? "Pirogoeth," a voice whispered. "And Largo. Kill them."
The necromancer walked up to them.
"Hello... Pirogoeth, isn't it? And you too, Largo," he said.
"How do you know our names?" asked Pirogoeth suspiciously.
"I have my sources. I've been watching you for a long time, you know."
"You mean you didn't know? You aren't as skilled as I thought you were."
---------As in every battle, the weakest were the first to fall. But they were many, and their targets were few. As their numbers decreased, their foes began to show more and more strain from the battle. It was only a matter of time before they fell...
"What do you mean?"
"For the past while, now, I have been observing you. Watching you. Seeing how you fight, noting how you live."
"And why would you do that?"
"You mean you still don't know? You might not be the match I originally thought you to be."
Realization dawned on Pirogeth.
"You want to kill us?" she inquired.
---------Pirogoeth cried out as she was struck across the side of her head by one of the monsters. It was time to get serious. She put down her sword and cast Improved Invisibility. The creatures, not knowing where she had gone, began to mob Largo. Pirogoeth walked swiftly a safe distance away and began to cast one of her more powerful spells. Things were going to heat up pretty quick...
"What did you gain from watching us?"
"I learned much about you. For instance, Largo here thinks with his sword. Anything that can't be worked around can be destroyed, eh Largo?"
Largo just stood there, expressionless.
"This, of course, in addition to his lack of mercenary leaves him somewhat vulnerable to mobs of enemies. What a pity..."
---------Largo was surrounded by hoards of monsters. It was all he could do to keep the monsters off him, let alone kill them all. Where had Pirogoeth gone? He had to hold off the monsters until she showed herself. Then they could win.
"What about me?"
"What about you, Pirogoeth?" he asked.
"What did you learn about me?"
"Answer me, dammit!"
"Well, for starters, you don't believe everything can be solved with your sword, am I right? You realized early on that some problems require different methods to solve than just by brute force. Some puzzles have solutions that require knowledge of the arcane arts, do they not? But you knew that some problems require both brute force and magic."
The wizard paused for a couple of seconds.
"Neither of you has a mercenary. Largo doesn't have one because he believes himself strong enough for anything that comes. He thinks that any mercenary he might be able to find wouldn't be able to help him at all. You, Pirogoeth, believe that, as much help as a mercenary might be, he would get in the way more than he would help. For Largo, this means he has some trouble with a big mob of enemies, as we just saw. For you, this means that you have problems with one-on-one duels against a strong enemy. Of course, that's what your sword is for, isn't it? Enabling you to attack when you can't cast your magic?"
"And the one big thing that comes out of this is, because you two like to battle together, with nobody else, you have no cleric. Nobody to heal you after a big battle. Leaving you perfectly open for attack in the next one."
---------Pirogoeth was still casting her spell. She was not casting one of the standard spells, though. She was casting a spell of her own creation. This was a rare talent, the ability to write one's own spells. Very few wizards had it, and those that did tended not to develop it, for making spells was a very dangerous art. This spell was one of the more powerful, and more unwieldy, magics she had created. She could only hope it would work...
"So, you send hoards of minions after us to weaken us and then come yourself to finish the job?!" replied Pirogoeth furiously.
"I ph34r not your faceless minions!! I am your doom!! Face me and feel my sword!!" cried Largo.
The necromancer paused for a second, and then spoke to Largo.
"You are not worthy of my effort. Begone."
---------Largo was doing rather well, given the circumstances. The monsters that were mobbing him were slowly having their numbers reduced to nothing. They were taking their toll on Largo, though. The damage was slowly racking up. What was that he heard? Was Pirogoeth casting some powerful magic? He could only hope.
"What did you just say?!" Largo demanded.
"You are too weak. I could crush you in an instant."
"Then why are you here?"
Saying nothing, the strange spellcaster simply pointed at Pirogoeth.
"What, me?" exclaimed Pirogoeth.
"Yes, you. Largo here wouldn't be enough of a challenge. You, on the other hand..." he trailed off.
"Well, if you're going to try to kill me, can I at least have the pleasure of knowing your name?"
---------Pirogoeth watched Largo taking damage from the monsters. She couldn't do anything to help him except hope she could finish her casting in time. Even that might not work.
"My name is unimportant."
Pirogoeth paused for a minute.
"Why is that? Everyone's name is important."
She took another moment to think.
"If I defeat you, will you tell me then what your name is?"
The man smiled.
"If you defeat me? I greatly doubt that's going to happen. But, as you wish. If you defeat me, you can know my name."
---------Pirogoeth saw the signs of near-death in Largo. She knew she had very little time to finish her spell. She began hastening her cast, taking the chance of a miscast. She had to save him.
Largo had had enough.
"I won't let you hurt Pirogoeth. You'll have to come through me first."
"As you wish."
Largo rushed at the magician, who spoke a few quick words to the wind. Largo clutched at his heart and keeled over, dead.
"Largo!" Pirogoeth cried out.
She ran over to his body and knelt beside him. The man spoke up behind her.
"I warned him, but the fool insisted on attacking me," said the wizard. "And, correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no respawning here. Resurrection, last time I checked, only works for 6 hours after someone dies in this world. And you used your last Resurrecting item just last battle. Am I right?"
Pirogoeth stood up and spoke, not answering his question, but affirming it all the same. He was shocked by the tears streaming down her cheeks. So was Largo, watching from his grave.
"I don't know who you are, nor what powers you claim to have, but I will defeat you. I cannot let you live," she
---------Pirogoeth was reaching the end of her cast when she noticed one of the monsters near Largo. It was a powerful magic creature, one she had trouble with when it was alone. Realizing her spell wouldn't be able to take it down unaided, she changed a few select words near the end of her spell. It became much more powerful, but with that power came a price. As the bright pillar of pure energy began to materialize around Largo and the monsters, Pirogoeth called out to Largo.
"Forgive me, Largo! I'm sorry I had to do this. I'm sorry I had to kill you!"
"And so the battle begins, I see."
"Shut up! I won't have you backing down now!" cried Pirogoeth.
"When did I ever say anything like that?"
Pirogoeth whipped out her sword and charged. He barely had time to react before she was upon him.
"Feisty, aren't you?" he taunted.
She didn't answer. She simply grabbed her dagger and hit him across the ear.
"Aaagh... So, like that, eh?"
He pushed her off him and kicked at her body. She flew a couple of feet away from him and her dagger flew a ways away. She tried to stand up, but he wouldn't let her. He kept kicking until her sword came up and threatened to slice at his shins. If nothing else, he wasn't stupid.
---------The bright pillar of energy and light surrounding Largo and his assailants had a purpose. Some of the monsters stopped their attacks and looked up, but their amazement was short-lived. After a couple of seconds, everything inside the circle had had every nerve connection severed, causing quick and clean death. Due to the nature of the spell, the stronger enemies had less chance of surviving, and thus only a couple of the weaker monsters and the undead survived. The stronger ones, and Largo, did not. Pirogoeth made short work of those that remained with her sword. Why did things have to come to this?
Pirogoeth used her sword to help her get off the ground. She ached all over. Those kicks had been hard. And the battle wasn't ever near over yet.
"Ready to admit defeat yet? Or have I not broken you enough?" mocked her assailant.
"I'll never admit defeat!" she spat.
She pulled her sword out of the dirt and raised it in a fighting stance. The magician just stood in front of her, waiting for an attack. He seemed to be... Was he spacing out on her?
"Are you paying attention?"
He gave no sign of having heard anything.
"All right, I've had just about enough of this!" Pirogoeth cried.
She flew towards the accursed necromancer with all her might. As she was right about to attack him, he disappeared.
"Wha-??? Where'd you go?"
The necromancer appeared behind her and delivered a sharp backhand to her neck.
"How'd you do that?" she demanded while clutching at her neck. "It wasn't teleport, nor any other standard spell, and I'd have known if that were a created spell. What did you just do?"
"I'll let you figure that out," he smiled.
He gave her no time to think. He simply began to cast a spell. With a second's thought, Pirogoeth identified it as Duplicate (Necromancy spell: creates temporary duplicate of caster and their gear). Upon finishing, a perfect duplicate of the man leaped out of his body.
"What are you going to do now?" they asked mockingly.
---------Pirogoeth walked up to Largo's corpse. There was no respawning in this world. And Resurrection only worked here for 6 hours after death. It was at least a 4 hour ride back to the nearest town, and it wasn't very likely they'd have a scroll of Resurrection anyway. Things looked pretty bleak for Largo.
"Let's see what you had, Largo," Pirogoeth muttered, repressing her sadness.
He didn't have a lot of items. He had his sword (an enchanted weapon incapable of being removed from its owner), some strong armor, a good pair of boots, gloves, a belt, and... Could it be?
"Largo, why didn't you tell me you had a Wand of True Life?!" she cried.
Pirogoeth examined the situation carefully. She could go one of two ways. If she attacked the duplicate, both the duplicate and the real enemy would end up attacking her. She couldn't win in that battle. If she somehow attacked the real enemy, however, the duplicate image would drop and it would be a fair fight. There was only one thing to do.
"Anora se'yipo, carmiyasho ra!" she cried in the arcane language.
Flames burst out of her mouth towards the two men in the form of Agannazzar's Scorcher (Evocation spell: creates a 5' wide path of flames). It wasn't strong enough to do much damage, but it did what she wanted. One of the figures suddenly ceased its existence, having had the concentration of the other broken.
"So, crafty are we? Good. I like a challenge," smirked the remaining figure.
---------A Wand of True Life is an extremely rare find. They enable the user to cast the spell True Resurrection, at a cost of only 1 charge. Because they begin with 50 charges, this makes for a very valuable magic item. Only the elite of the elite had them, aside from those fortunate enough to randomly find/steal one.
Pirogoeth raised the wand in front of her and pointed it at Largo's corpse. The end of the wand began to glow a bright white. After a couple of seconds, a bright ball of light shot down from the heavens and landed in Largo. Then the wand disintegrated, having had its final charge used. There were no more chances.
"Ein lekha rashut sheli l'khai! Ata tamut!" cried Pirogoeth in the words of the spell Finger of Death (Necromancy spell: caster points finger at enemy, who must save or die).
She opened the palm of her hand and watched as a disembodied finger appeared in it. She closed her hand and pointed at the Necromancer. The finger flew out of her hand towards him. He did nothing until it was right upon him, at which time he swatted at it, and it went flying away. It hit a nearby rock, which turned into ashes.
"What?! That's not possible!" exclaimed Pirogoeth. "That spell can't be deflected. If you save, it hurts you! What did you just do?"
He said nothing. He just smiled and began to cast Meteor Swarm (Evocation spell: deals 24d6 damage (half fire/half impact) in burst pattern).
"Sho'seil menar craman tropu bol..."
---------Largo stood up and brushed off the pain that hadn't been banished. Pirogoeth looked around. She heard something way off in the distance. It sounded like a cast of some sort. They'd worry about it later. She sat down and grabbed some grapes from her pack. Casually eating them, she looked around. What was that she felt? It was as if there was an earthquake very far off. Maybe, she mused, somebody was casting Raise City (Necromancy spell: animates hundreds or thousands of skeletons from an undead city or town).
How right she was...
Pirogoeth knew she had to run away. If she couldn't get far enough away before the cast finished, it would hurt her severely. She ran, as fast as she could, away from her attacker. He continued his cast, unnoticing, uncaring.
"Matrei ponoma fa, se'teimo anoma camanta!" he chanted.
Several bright red lights appeared in the sky, very far off. They grew as they approached their target. Pirogoeth still had some time. As an Area of Effect spell, Meteor Swarm couldn't be redirected in midcast. She ran and ran, not looking back.
"Bane pofesta relin gamo sotruma..." intoned the necromancer.
---------Pirogoeth kept eating her grapes, not noticing the grass flatten in footprint-shaped sections. Largo noticed it, though.
"What's that?" he inquired.
"Look at the grass?"
"What about it?"
"See the footprints?"
"Largo, those are our footprints."
"No, they're not."
The argument was cut short by one of the footprints speaking. Pirogoeth identified the words as those that invoke the spell Call Undead (Necromancy spell: undead in the area are drawn to caster's position). And if she was right before...
"Largo, we may be in big trouble."
"Corno dentai pafiri shuk!" shouted the wizard.
The red lights had grown to large meteors, and were now about 100 feet above. If Pirogoeth could get run 30 more feet in the time it took them to fall that 100 feet, she would be safe.
Fate is a fickle mistress.
Pirogoeth would have escaped from the blast had she not tripped. Since she wasn't in the center of the blast, she only recieved 31 damage. Still, 31 damage wasn't something to sneeze at.
"Branalta shorempa mieste ponud!" cried Pirogoeth.
At the same time, her enemy began a cast as well.
"Drefaltan shoreno pemista selna!"
As Pirogoeth's spell, Magma Burst (Conjuration spell: 50' radius volcanic explosion, causes 20d6 damage and leaves lasting magma pool which causes 20d6 damage per round of exposure), erupted below her target, his spell, Arcane Parry (Divination spell: negates all damage from one attack), took effect. In one great flash of blue light, the magma cooled into stone. The necromancer took no damage from the eruption nor the magma pool.
"What? How did you...? You're a necromancer! Necromancy forbids the study of divination!" managed Pirogoeth.
---------The footsteps walked their way away. Pirogoeth and Largo proceeded to pack up and get out their weapons. They didn't have long to wait. Hundred upon hundreds of skeletons came at them, washing over hills like a great ocean. Behind the skeletons were about a hundred Zombie Warriors. Nothing was too strong, but enough of even the weakest monster could kill even the most powerful PCs. Pirogoeth saw Largo work his way into the wave, slashing at anything and everything he saw. He must be in heaven. His dream had always been to free the world of undead. Pirogoeth, however, wasn't so foolhardy. She stayed at the edge of the mob, picking off monsters as they tried to surround her. It took a lot of time, but the undead army was slowly being ground into the dirt. Of course, as Pirogoeth and Largo became more battle weary, they left more and more openings. They began taking damage, slow at first, but slowly speeding up. They had to keep fighting. If they stopped, they were finished.
"What did you do? It should have been impossible for you to cast that spell!"
He left her question unanswered. He just raised his hands to the sky and called out.
"Polmen trunka shorme rasko!"
Pirogoeth shuddered at the thought of Enkili's Lightning Storm (Evocation spell: causes electrical storm the caster can control). In all her searches, she had never been able to find any equipment that shielded against electric damage, and with her opponent at such a high level... Things looked pretty bleak. Only one thing to do.
"Sarta morenka bel zono!" she shouted.
Her words should have invoked the spell Teleport (Transmutation spell: instantly transports caster anywhere). But for some reason, it didn't cast. Had that infernal necromancer cast Teleport Block (Transmutation spell: blocks all attempts to teleport from/to area) while she wasn't paying attention? She braced herself for the coming storm. It was going to hurt, and running would only make it hurt more.
---------It hurt to keep going, but it would hurt even more to stop. Without warning, Pirogoeth got an idea. It might not work, but she had to try.
"Elil, b'vakasha, ten li coakh shelkha!" she pleaded.
In a far away plane, one of the gods granted her and Largo the effects of the spell Damage Mirror (Transmutation DM spell: when struck, all attackers within 15' also take damage). Pirogoeth muttered her thanks and continued her assault on the skeletons. Every time Largo or Pirogoeth was hurt, anything nearby took damage as well and, due to the relative weakness of the skeletons, died. The tables had turned, but the battle wasn't over yet.
Dark clouds appeared overhead. Pirogoeth winced as the rain began to fall. She had never liked rain much. And this experience wasn't going to help. Lightning shot down, multi-pointed spears flying from the heavens. The lightning kept striking the ground, slowly approaching the place where she stood. If she could just wait long enough, the spell would time out and end.
Pirogoeth cried out in pain as one, then two and three, of the lightning bolts struck her. Then she thought of something.
"Canto pelifan shorensa melra kafno!" she yelled.
Mordenkainen's Disjunction (Abjuration spell: dispels magic, disenchants magic items) was the most powerful of magic dispelling spells. If it didn't work, nothing would.
A glowing blue sphere appeared above Pirogoeth. It flew up towards the heart of the storm. Green and red colored wisps of power jumped out of the thunderstorm as it collapsed upon itself.
Pirogoeth stared upwards for a second, relieved that it had worked, and then slumped to the ground.
---------With the help of her god, Pirogoeth was able to kill the skeletons at a much faster rate than before. She didn't worry about being damaged, for she knew that being hurt would kill the nearby attackers. Largo adopted a similar fighting strategy.
The skeletons fell very quickly now. It wasn't long before there were none left. But the Zombie Warriors still remained.
The necromancer walked up to Pirogoeth.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her up to a standing position. When he let go, she fell back to the ground.
She didn't move.
"I said, stand up!"
When she refused to move, he grabbed her by the head and lifted her so that she was just barely off the ground.
"Wake up!" he snarled.
He slapped her. Startled, she stared into his eyes. Her expression was what he was looking for. Realization of his power came to her. Her eyes reflected the fear she must be feeling.
"Much better. You've learned to respect me. Good."
---------Pirogoeth ran up to one of the zombies. A few quick slices and it was gone. As she moved on to the next one, Pirogoeth felt her god's help leaving her. No matter. With so few enemies remaining, it shouldn't be too much trouble, even without the help. She continued her destruction of the zombies. They couldn't last long.
The necromancer babbled on about something or another. Pirogoeth rested her right hand on her belt... and felt something. Her second dagger. How could she have forgotten about it?
"I wonder," said her opponent. "How does failure... taste..."
He brought his face close to that of the terrified Pirogoeth. She knew what was coming. She brought up the dagger with all her might.
"Ah!" cried the necromancer.
He fell to the ground, clutching at his face. Pirogoeth felt a stabbing pain on her left cheek. She touched the pain and looked at her hand. Blood.
"I know you are cheating," she said. "And I know how to beat it..."
Now for the hard part. Improvised spells were always the hardest.
"Mida, di'tewune vasantra! Entrolnu telista, friner atorka!"
---------The last zombie hardly put up a fight. It knew its time had come. After it was gone, Pirogoeth sat down and looked at Largo.
"That was a tough fight," she said.
"Nah, nothing to it," Largo replied. "And we destroyed thousands of undead. A good start, I think."
An unholy glow surrounded Pirogoeth. She pointed at her enemy on the ground.
"Cheater, you are not worthy to defeat me! Surrender your powers to the gods and die!"
The necromancer twitched as his powers were removed from him. They formed into a sphere of dim grey light, hovering about 3 feet in front of Pirogoeth. She stared at it for a second, then angrily stabbed it with her dagger.
The dagger sunk into the ball and stuck. For a second, nothing moved. Then, suddenly, it cracked and shattered. Pieces of the power dropped to the ground. Then, as if they had never been, they disappeared off to some faraway plane. Pirogoeth turned back to her enemy.
"You are a cheater and as such do not deserve to live!"
She plunged the dagger into the heart of the man. He twitched. Suddenly, there was no necromancer. There was just a body of smoke, drifting away.
Pirogoeth stood around for a while, then walked to her horse and rode away
. If she was right, she hadn't killed him yet. She would avenge Largo. Eventually.
---------Pirogoeth wiped her forehead and put away her weapons. Despite what Largo said, that had been a tough battle.
A tougher lie just ahead...