Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 36
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Once we all decided to go back to the Tower of Babel, everything else happened pretty quickly. We got to the tower Pall Mall summoned up some creatures to fight with us – including a freaking DEMON LOCUST. Before we went in we the tower was even more overrun with those spiders than before. I used magic to destroy the webs with fire – that might have been a mistake. Fiery explosions rocked the entire structure once I did that. If there was any hope of getting by those spider creatures without them noticing, then I just blew it for us.
With all the webs in there, though, I doubt that we would’ve gotten through unmolested anyway.
We found stairs that went down and we fought several groups of these spider demons as we travelled them. At least without their queen, “Widow,” they were less difficult to deal with than before. But they were still slowly sapping our resources. Every few levels Jescha blocked the path behind us with a thick wall of ice that would last for some time. It may not stop any pursuers, but it would at least slow them down. Deeper we went down this path into the depths of the tower. Once we found webs again, out progress all but halted. These webs were significantly stronger than the ones I burned up earlier, and cutting/burning through them was a chore (another tedious reminder of my lack of expansive magical knowledge – specialization is for insects).
While Pall’s minions fought of yet another group of spiders I made a portal into my time-accelerated dimensional envelope for us all to step into for a brief reprieve and strategy session. We did some meditation and discussion and decided we would use Mystic Portals to travel through the landings into the next ones block off any spiders with walls of ice, and then portal through to the next level again, etcetera. This plan was of course not without drawbacks – I only had so much magical energy available in my Energy Spheres – but James agreed to Astrally Project his spirit and scope out our path in order to let us know no only what lay ahead, but if we could actually reach the end of this trip with the resources at our disposal.
I should take a moment here. I will never admit this to Jescha, but these guys I’ve been travelling with… they can be downright scary in a fight.
First there’s Steve, of the House of Gary. His four-armed living battle armor is like an explosion of swords when he gets in close to the enemy. So maybe you think you’re safe if you stay away? Not so, because this demonic-looking second skin can (and will!) fire organic missiles seemingly without limit. Somehow he’s so quick and agile in this suit, I can only follow him when I’ve stacked enchantments on myself to increase my speed – even then I can’t match him, only finally actually SEE the deadly dance he engages every enemy in. I can’t imagine how deadly the world he hails from is if they have been forced to produce war machines such as him.
Then there’s McGreggor. This nine foot tall dinosaur-headed d-bee has a deadly grace and alien fighting style that is unlike anything I’ve seen in this dimension or others. He swings a massively giant hammer as his main weapon, and I’ve watched enemies smashed by this hammer get defeated after only a few quick hits. He’s also (partly my own fault) got some powerful ranged tech weapons that keep him deadly at range. And tech! He wears an anti-gravity harness that he controls with precision to give him incredible agility – he practically owns the battlefield when he gets out there. He is tough enough to shrug off hits from modern weapons and from our demonic opponents. He supplements this resistance with a Naruni Force Field. However… he’s apparently a pilot. I can’t imagine how much more deadly this creature will be when he’s behind the controls of a major war machine.
Next is James. This Demigod of the Greek Pantheon wields an impressive rune sword and, ever since I gave it to him in Lazlo, a powerful techno-wizard shield. While Steve and McGreggor seem to outshine him in just sheer battlefield damage, there is a subtle skill to his sword art that makes him a significant threat in his own right. His precision with his sword has felled more than a few enemies quickly and mercilessly. I tend to be disparaging of him occasionally within this journal – while he has on many occasions had to be saved from certain defeat or even death by my own or another companion’s quick actions; he has proven to be a quick learner. That which has not killed him has, as the saying goes, only made him stronger. He claims the lock on his wrist holds back even more power within him and if this is true, he would be a threat that rivals both Steve and McGreggor should it ever be unlocked.
Last, but in no way least, is Pall Mall. This Sowki is both typical and atypical for his race. While he displays the drive for power that Sowki’s are renowned for, what sets him apart is his apparent willingness to work with others to gain that power. It is this trait which I believe has kept him with us as a companion, and even started to allow me to extend to him a measure of trust. But his quest for power constantly rewards him. He is a summoner of no small skill who has dedicated himself to serve the Norse god, Odin. He has acquired a series of servants who are loyal only to him, and follow his every command. At a whim he can summon many more. He has numerous magical and wondrous rune items, only a fraction of which he has revealed to us, and it’s this hidden power that makes him the most dangerous of all my companions. With the others I can anticipate their moves with some measure of accuracy. But this Sowki manages to continually surprise me. And with every revelation, the question is raised in my mind: If he’s showing us this, then what isn’t he showing us?
I didn’t forget Jescha. She will leave me and our “group” once we return so I wasn’t going to include her here, but I changed my mind. As deadly as she is beautiful, she easily held her own alongside me and these monsters during this adventure. She has a command of battle magic that rivals anyone else I’ve ever met. When she gets in close she’s equally deadly in physical combat and, like me, she has no issue with using technology to supplement her deadly arsenal. I very much hope that I never have to face off against her – she is a tough-as-nails magical fighter who will not hold back, and my feelings for her would make my own responses to her actions weak and unfocused.
I got so wrapped up in all of that, I forgot I was narrating our trip down through the tower. James returned from his astral scouting and confirmed we were close to the end. He also spotted a creature down there which he knew a lot about! The Demigod is full of surprises at times. But this Nexus Maw beast that was waiting for us would be in for his own surprises.
We made it to the final hallway and took a moment to regroup. Jescha and I laid some protective and enhancive magic upon the group. Steve prepared to wield a special rune sword he had gotten his hands on and was waiting until a moment like this to try out. When we were ready Pall Mall sent his army in engage the Nexus Maw and they froze in time as soon as they crossed into the final room! I don’t know who did it, or why, but I realized then there was a Time Stop effect encompassing the room. No, that would not protect it. I cast another Time Barrier, negating the temporal magic, and everyone else followed into the room to engage the creature.
While I could deal with the Time Stop effect easily enough (although it would restrict some of my own abilities), the anti-magic cloud which was also in the room would be more difficult. I tried a few times to negate it but these things are very difficult to end with the normal negation magics. Pall Mall however had no issue with casting his own anti-magic cloud to negate the one already in effect! He then continued the fight while Jescha and I stood outside the room, working out how we would proceed. Well, I did anyway. She pulled out her guns and started firing at the creature. I took this moment to try and make sense of all this. It felt like the pieces were there, but I just couldn’t quite make them fit together yet.
Until James came out of the fight with a large, engraved stone, and an unconscious man. The man had been on the floor, at the opening of the dimensional portal of the Nexus Maw, while the stone had been in the middle of the room. The Code of Hammurabi. A powerful symbol of order. It felt to me (and to all of us, actually – we had discussed this before when James revealed the results of his reconnaissance to us) that this was the key to ending the plague of tongues – but how? Jescha suggested it should be displayed prominently for the entire city to witness, according to the history she remembered. At that moment our good friend, the “Naked Man”, strode in through Jescha’s ice wall like it wasn’t even there. Why was he here? I had no idea. He got within a few paces of us, looked at the unconscious man James had carried out of the room, and immediately fell to the floor, seemingly dead.
The unconscious man on the floor, it turned out upon closer examination, was a younger version of him! By getting to close to his past self he had created a Temporal Paradox which apparently would kill him – or at least, prevent him from being able to interact with his younger self while he was close. But then I felt a shudder in time and space as my Time Barrier collapsed. That should not have been possible. But a shimmering, temporal portal appeared over the naked man’s body just then. It seemed exactly like the one which brought us all to this time and place!
I thought I didn’t have a moment to spare so I teleported myself, Jescha and the code out of the tower (while everyone else was still fighting the creature!) and back to the ziggurat in Babylon. There, I hoped, the code being displayed might break the spell of the plague. It did not. With Jescha’s help we examined the stone for more clues and could now just barely make out cracks through which light shone through. Something was inside and I had to smash the Code of Hammurabi in order to release it! How deceptive of our true enemy, whoever it was. I wasted no time and shattered the code. From the rubble fell out the god Marduk, seemingly dead and missing his tongue. Suddenly I knew what we had to do.
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