October 10, 2011

The Final Confrontation

The party took an extended rest after defeating the SpellWeaver, and then prepared to leave. They were reluctant to leave all that valuable-looking loot behind, but could find no way to separate any item from the rest of the hoard. The Gatestone only had two facets left untouched: the one for Earth, and one more unknown universe. Pressing that facet, they felt the now-familiar stretching sensation as they were transported across dimensions.

When the sensation stopped, they found themselves in the center of a circle of standing stones, very similar to Stonehenge. Sheep grazed on the green grass growing around them, apparently unperturbed by the party's sudden appearance. A few miles away, a good sized village could be seen nestled in a broad valley. Its rooftops were a mix of shingles and tile, with a tall square church tower rising from the center of town. A river ran through the town, spanned by several stone bridges, and emptied into what looked like an estuary of a sea. What appeared to be factories lined the riverbank and spewed smoke from tall smokestacks. Several steamships could be seen plying the waters of the estuary, and a large dirigible drifted slowly overhead, with what appeared to be the hull of a ship suspended beneath it, belching thick black smoke.

In the opposite direction from the town, a tall hill rose above the surrounding landscape, with a gothic stone tower rising dramatically from its summit. A path could be seen leading to the tower, with more sheep  grazing on the hillside. The Gatestone pointed towards the tower.

As they took stock of their surroundings, the party realized that they were back in their original bodies, and had all the possessions they'd had before they got all "cartoony", including the lightweight composite armor and blaster pistols they'd picked up in the Star Wars universe. After briefly considering heading down to the village to look for a pub, they decided to avoid entanglements and head straight for the tower.

As they approached, the tower appeared to be abandoned. Two doorways could be seen on the ground floor but with no doors in place, and they could see empty space within. There appeared to be two upper floors, with windows likewise open to the elements. However the stonework of the tower appeared to be intact and solid - no crumbling ruin here.

When they were about 30 yards from the tower, a tall, broad-shouldered man suddenly stepped into the doorway and, without so much as a "Howdy", let loose with a Lightning Bolt that sizzled Joe, Phil, and Chuck for some serious damage. He stood his ground as James and Jerry retaliated with spells of their own, only to see them disappear into a shimmering barrier a few feet away from him. He flung a fireball back, hitting Joe, Phil, and Chuck again, and this time catching Mary as well, and Phil went down in flames; luckily, Chuck was able to extinguish him and administer some healing to get him back on his feet.

As the party charged the tower, counter-fire suddenly erupted from the upper floor windows and roof. Someone inside were apparently armed with Star Wars blasters of their own. As they tried to get a bead on the people poking their heads around the window frames or over the parapets to shoot at them, they realized with a start that they recognized their assailants - the people firing down on them looked like exact duplicates of themselves! They had met the enemy, and they were them.

Mary charged the doorway and Ice raced around to the back door. But as Mary got toe-to-toe with the mysterious MU (now assumed to be Twynillios), he suddenly disappeared. As soon as he did, the interior of the ground floor of the tower was suddenly filled with a bewildering blur of blinding blades; Ice just managed to leap back outside to avoid being sliced and diced. However a small hemisphere just inside the front door was clear of the blades, and Mary was able to step inside. From that vantage point, she could see that the interior of the tower was open to the sky, with no upper floors or roof. However, wooden planks had been put in place forming crude walkways around the perimeter of each level. The characters' alter-egos were using these as their firing platforms. She also saw a new player standing on a plank over the center; he apparently had been responsible for the Blade Barrier.  Twynillios was hovering in the air next to him, but before she could get off a shot, he disappeared again.

In addition to the fire coming from inside the tower, someone invisible was throwing Magic Missiles from outside. Suddenly, Twynillios appeared on the ground outside the tower, drawing blaster fire from James and Magic Missiles from Jerry. However, the shots appeared to go right through him. They quickly concluded it must be an illusion, but Chuck was unconvinced until his +1 Mace passed harmlessly through the thing's skull.

After the opening salvos had hurt them so badly, most of the party had been gulping potions of Extra Healing like kool-aid. Now Ice and Joe each downed potions of Invulnerability, making them basically immune to the blaster fire from their alter-egos. Together with Mary, they began to concentrate their own blaster fire on the unknown cleric in the center of the tower. Jerry and James decided to remove themselves from the target pool; James cast Invisibility and began climbing the outside wall, while Jerry cast Improved Invisibility followed by Fly. He then set off a Fireball above one corner of the roof, and the alter-Chuck and alter-Jerry went tumbling down into the Osterizer below.

Suddenly a Cone of Cold blasted the front door from some unseen assailant to the south, putting Mary down. Joe took down the cleric with his next shot, but was himself felled by Magic Missiles. With the cleric dead, the Blade Barrier went away, leaving the inside of the tower accessible. Deciding the that blaster fire from their alter-egos was less dangerous than the spells from the unseen MUs outside, most of the part took refuge inside. Chuck was able to drag both Joe and Mary inside and revive them, while James used Magic Missiles to pick off the alter-Joe and alter-Phil. When Joe revived after the alter-Joe had been killed, he found that he was a level higher than he had been!

The rest of the alter-egos quickly fell to the blaster fire from their more experienced selves inside, and the party had the interior of the tower to themselves. Small consolation, as an Ice Storm rained giant hailstorms down into the open interior, knocking Mary out yet again. Deciding that maybe being clustered in one area wasn't such a good idea, they scattered again. Joe fired blindly at the area in the sky where the most recent spell had seemed to originate from, and one of his shots actually seemed to find a target. James climbed to one of the windows, and used a Detect Magic to locate something flying around, and began directing fire. About this time, a new assailant suddenly appeared near the back of the tower: their old friend Harry, his Improved Invisibility having apparently worn off. Mary tried catching him in a Web from her Cloak of Arachnidia, but he deftly dodged it.

James directed a Lightning Bolt towards the area where he could detect magic, and a few seconds later, a loud THUD and smoke rising from the ground announced that Twynillios had bit the dust. At the back of the tower, Harry was desperately preparing some spell aimed at Phil and Mary, but before he could get it off, Jerry hit him with an exceptionally powerful set of Magic Missiles, and he, too, took a dirt nap. A blessed quiet fell over the tower and its surroundings. 

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