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10 March 2007 - Saturday

Amazon Quintet of Justice XIIb: "In the Eyestalks of the Beholder! Deathtrap Beneath Rati!"

In a flashback, we see what Natalya and Marika were doing while the other Amazons were being annoyed by teleporting spell-casters:

Using Marika's sketchy mercenary contacts, the two learn that some group has been taking action against anyone who speaks out in favor of the beautiful and magnificent heroines. Following this trail, they find people hiring for a job that seems related, and apply. The recruiter claims that he represents the local Benevolent Association of Completely Legitimate Businessmen, who want to drive the Amazons out because they disrupt the orderly flow of business. Marika, under magical questioning, is not able to swear that she will take the story of this operation to her grave, and has to bow out, but chaotic-aligned and mighty-souled Natalya lies like a rug.

The job is to loot and burn certain buildings, which are not named but are described in enough detail for Natalya to recognize them as magic shops, including the one she has commissioned to make a magic ring for her. She surreptitiously warns the shopkeepers, so that when the mobsters arrive to wreak their havoc, nothing of real value is present and no people are exposed to danger.

The morning after the magic-shop raids, the Amazons attempt to regroup. Fresa is busy studying applied biology with Stephan, but the other five (Amaryllis, Alyra, Gabrielle, Marika, and Natalya) meet and compare notes. Gabrielle is overjoyed to learn that her bow has not been burned up.

The organized crime contact Natalya and Marika met the previous day is protected from scrying, but one of the shopkeepers left out a distinctive ring to be stolen, and with the assistance of the temple of Pelor, Our Heroines are able to narrow down the ring's location to a specific block. Additional magic shows them an odd conical room deep underground, occupied by five armored people and an urchin Natalya talked to earlier while investigating.

The Amazons attack! They appear airborne, near the tip of the cone, well out of reach of the villains on the ground. However, the villains immediately teleport away, and Alyra hears something breathing above her! Alyra swoops down to do in the one villain who failed to escape, while Marika stabs at the thing lurking overhead.

Amaryllis seals off the tip of the cone with a wall of force, which turns out to be exactly the right thing to do, as the beholder hovering there has to turn aside its magic-dampening central eye in order to destroy the wall of force with one of its many eyestalks. Natalya sinks a massively enchanted arrow into the beholder's loathsome body, but not before it enchants Amaryllis into thinking it's her friend. Fortunately, that one mighty shot (combined with the wounds previously inflicted by Marika) is enough to slay the monster, so Amaryllis is just upset, not actively opposing her comrades.

During the battle, a fire giant peers out of a hidden extra-dimensional space, sees the beholder's noisome corpse drifting to the floor, and disappears again, but not before someone notices him. Investigation reveals a total of four such hiding places, which are inviolable but of limited duration. The Amazons have only to wait until the fire giants decide to make a break for it.

Flung rocks and huge swords are no match for the Quintet, and soon three of the giants are dispatched and the fourth taken prisoner. He knows little, having been recently hired with the promise of much gold (his village has the custom of bride-prices, so young males are easily swayed by the promise of treasure), but does reveal that the beholder trap did work on another group of adventurers a few days before. Has Connor met a dire fate at the hands of the Necrotheologians?!

Natalya and Amaryllis explain the error of his ways to the giant. When they are certain that he will not only not rejoin the Necrotheologians, but will let them know if more recruiters come sniffing around. They return the giant's sword, the swords of his fallen companions, and even his ring of cold resistance, and take him home. (Safe in their pocket dimension, he does not witness the trouble Amaryllis has getting to the right mountain range.) The fire giants, not being an overly sentimental people, don't hold the deaths of their warriors against the Amazons, and are sufficiently impressed by the return of the swords to the families of the fallen that they insist on feasting Amaryllis and Natalya. The pair return much later that night, suffering slightly from the extremely large size of giantish winecups.

In the meantime, Gabrielle and Alyra (Marika having been put in charge of the urchin) have knocked down the stone walls behind the doors leading out of the trap room and found living quarters protected by magic that wards against good people. Alyra pierces the wards and brings out all the documents she can find.

The internal communications of the Necrotheologians gloat about the instability of Tigris, worry about when King Penn will betray them, complain about the loss of vital military resources which will have to be replaced, and recommend against allowing the lost prince of the drow to show up and throw his nation into chaos, as the drow armies are an important part of the plan to destroy the world.

The next day, the Amazons ask the temple of Pelor to locate the ring again. The first time, they find it in a similar conical room under a different part of the city, but the occupants immediately realize they are being spied upon and scarper. Undeterred, the Amazons try again, this time having Amaryllis scry on one of the other people they encountered the previous day. This works, and Our Heroines immediately assault the villains' lair, spells blazing!

Silence spells and a ward like that in the previous lair cramp the Amazon's style a little, but the silence also prevents the villains from teleporting away and they have to fall back into the living quarters. Marika makes it through the wards and engages them in hand-to-hand combat while Natalya shoots through the doorway. Together they kill two of the foe, and then Amaryllis makes it through the wards and is able to incapacitate the remaining two long enough for them to meet their just reward.

The Amazons are triumphant! Now Natalya will be able to construct an even better urchinarium.

Travel: We tried to go home at a sensible hour, but the battery was dead. Jump-starting from another car didn't work, so Ayse and Ken had to get a tow truck to apply massive amounts of electricity. That worked, and the whole thing was not too traumatic (I say, it not being my car), but it was not like leaving when we hoped to.

Cats: They are just fine, of course.

Writing: FAILURE. Got home after 23:00.

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