28 Mirtul 1367 DR
As the strange, alien ship approached them, the heroes could see humanoid forms moving on its decks. A couple hundred feet away, the ship came to a stop and three forms floated away from it, heading towards them.
Two were large monstrosities resembling a cross between bull and man – minotaurs. They had dozens of manacles dangling from their belts and held massive nets in their hands. The other creature had a large bulbous head with octopus-like tentacles dangling from its chin.
“Oh, damn,” Dona said. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes. A mind flayer,” Dexter said as he mentally ran through a list of his prepared spells. They might need every one…
“Well that brain sucker can’t feast on what it cannot see!” Lyr held forth his magical staff and triggered one of its effects. The air of the astral plane about them rippled, and swarms of locusts began to pour out of folds in the air. Within moments, the locusts had formed into a cloud around the bard, obscuring everyone’s sight but his.
“Damn it, Lyr!” Dona looked around frantically, though all she could see was locusts. “How is that supposed to help?”
The minotaurs flew up to the edge of the insect cloud, whirling their nets about their heads, and waited for a target to emerge. The mind flayer flew forward, tentacles wiggling, and unleashed a blast of psionic energy into the cloud. The energy rolled over all the heroes, instantaneously causing splitting headaches. Dona was left reeling and stunned, but the rest of the group fought off the effects.
“That was the mind flayer!” Lyr shouted. “He did…something.”
“Ya – ya – ya think?” stuttered Dona, barely coherent, a line of spittle running down her chin.
Dunkle flew out the bottom of the cloud, figuring to get a jump on one of their foes. He found a minotaur waiting.
The monster hurled its net at him with practiced ease, entangling the rogue. Twisting about, Dunkle managed to escape and promptly ducked back into the obscuring insect cloud. “Well that didn’t work, “ he muttered.
Dexter popped out of the cloud near the top, fired a ray of frost at the mind flayer, and then ducked back into the cloud. The magical cold hit the alien creature, but had little visible effect.
At this the minotaurs rushed blindly into the cloud, one heading after Dunkle and the other barreling directly into its center.
The bard yelped and flew upward. Fortunately, the cloud didn’t obscure his sight, just everyone else’s. Lyr watched as the minotaur hacked wildly with its axe right where Lyr had just been standing.
Dunkle had less luck, however. The minotaur ran right into him, wrapped him into a bear hug, and began smashing its thick forehead into the rogue’s face. “Bloody hells! Someone help,” he said as his nose crunched apart and blood ran down his face.
Meanwhile Karn flew straight forward, hoping to confront the mind flayer. The paladin of Torm exited the insect cloud, saw the mind flayer speeding off to the side, and gave pursuit. “You shall not escape Torm’s justice!”
In response, the mind flayer unleashed another blast of psionic energy into the insect cloud. This time Lyr succumbed to it, and the bard watched helplessly as the minotaur near him hacked back and forth with his axe. The monster was getting closer and closer to him.
Dona finally shook off the mind flayer’s stunning effect and flew toward Dunkle’s cries for help. She bumped into a large hairy form and brought her halberd to bare. “Hope this is the right one,” she said to herself before she began slicing away.
As it turned out, it was the right one. The minotaur howled and released the rogue.
Freed, Dunkle drew his rapier and stabbed forward several times in rapid succession. The minotaur didn’t last long under the barbarian and rogue’s repeated blows.
Dexter zipped out of the cloud, ready to blast the mind flayer again, but the creature was waiting for him. It wiggled its tentacles, obviously casting a spell.
The wizard recognized the magic as a powerful form of compulsion that would force him to perform the mind flayer’s will. “Not good.” He quickly tried to counteract the spell’s effect with a spell of his own.
However, it didn’t work, and the mind flayer’s magical compulsion washed over him. “Kill the one that made the cloud,” the mind flayer told Dexter in a gurgling voice.
Promptly and obediently, Dexter turned and fired a ray of frost into the cloud where he thought Lyr was. It hit the minotaur instead.
The blind minotaur growled and hacked more furiously, moving closer to the helpless Lyr.
Karn, finally having caught up to the mind flayer, saw his friend Dexter being controlled by the monster. “Die fiend!” the paladin screamed as he rushed the mind flayer, glaive sweeping back and forth in front of him. The mind flayer took several nasty hits and was forced to retreat several paces.
“Get rid of these bloody bugs,” Dona yelled at Lyr. “We can’t see a damned thing!”
As if on cue, the minotaur’s axe sliced open Lyr’s thigh, causing him to snap out of the psionic daze. The bard immediately dismissed the insect cloud, and the locusts retreated into folds in the air.
Lyr then flew for Dona and Dunkle, putting distance between him and the minotaur. “Help! It’s got an axe!”
“No shit.” The barbarian zipped past the bard and buried her halberd deeply into the minotaur’s chest. “But I’ve got a bigger one.” Dunkle, right behind Dona, stabbed the monster viciously in the side.
Now that his target was visible, Dexter began to fire a succession of rays of frost at Lyr. The bard dodged back and forth, trying to evade, but several did hit him.
Meanwhile Karn continued to press the mind flayer. “Your evil reign ends today!” With a wicked blow to the shoulder that tore through the creature’s breastplate, the paladin finally dropped his foe.
As soon as the mind flayer went down, Dexter snapped out of the magical compulsion. “Sorry about that.” The wizard waved apologetically at Lyr.
“That would have been easier,” said Dona as she pulled her halberd out of the now-dead minotaur’s skull, “if we had been able to bloody see!” She looked pointedly at Lyr.
Lyr, thigh sliced open and patches of skin frozen over, puffed out his chest. “What good is a magical staff if I never use it? Who here has a magical set of bagpipes that she never uses?”
“I’m gonna take that staff and shove it –“ The barbarian was cut off as a ballistae bolt flew past the group.
“Comrades, let us bicker after our foes are vanquished.” Karn hefted his glaive and rallied the heroes toward the alien ship.
Several more rounds of ballistae bolts were fired upon them as their neared the ship, but fortunately they all missed. Finally, four heavily armored, tall figures with green skin – they had been operating the ballisae – flew from the ship to engage them, greatswords in hand.
Dexter remembered reading about these creatures once. “These are githyanki,” he announced. “Ware the bite of their blades.” And then, before the githyanki could close, he dropped a thick cloud of nauseating gas on top of them.
Coughing and snarling, the githyanki exited the cloud, two on one side, two on the other.
“Well done, wizard,” said Karn. “Splitting the foe increases the chances of victory.” Then the paladin and Lyr moved to attack two of the still reeling githyanki. Dona and Dunkle moved to take the other two.
As the battle began, the heroes quickly learned that the githyanki were able to teleport around with ease. Dexter explained this as a “simple” spell called misty step. For a simple spell, it certainly complicated things… And to add insult to injury, the githyanki’ silver greatswords appeared to be infused with psionic energy, causing them to bite deeper and harder than mundane weapons.
Dona and Dunkle were doing well against their two foes, but Karn and Lyr faired much worse. In fact, Lyr was forced to acts of desperation, using his staff to summon a giant scorpion which the bard mounted and rode against his foes.
Lyr’s giant scorpion stung a githyanki in the chest and pumped it full of enough poison to kill several of the creatures. Karn finished off the other one, calling out praises to Torm and taunts to his foes.
Dexter continued to provide ranged magic support, mostly with ray of frost, as Dona and Dunkle killed the other two githyanki.
Their foes defeated, the heroes gathered, breathing heavily, most of them wounded, some severely.
“That,” said Lyr from the back of his giant scorpion, “was exhilarating! Songs are sung about battles such as those.”
“Listen, dipshit. You ever drop a cloud of flaming insects on my head again, and I’ll sing you a song.” Dona glared at the bard. “A song of me causing you pain. Lots. Of. Pain.”
Lyr shrugged. “Can’t please every crowd, I suppose.”
“But we defeated our foes,” said Dunkle, his eyes wide as he surveyed the alien ship. “And we have a new ship to show for it.” He grinned.
“I’ve always wanted my own ship.”