Silverwind brought smoked pork tenderloin and delicious sandwiches were enjoyed by all. Nobo arrived last for the evening and we got underway immediately upon his arrival.
We picked up with Ned wrestling with the helm of the Githyanki Void Cruiser. With a bit of careening awkwardness, he was able to focus his intellect and will to dominate the strange flying craft. From his seat deep within the recessed fungus-like pilot’s chair, Ned’s arms worked the two transdimensional rudders and he issued orders as to which sails had to be reefed and which needed to be unfurled. Soon, sails were taught and the craft was ripping through the sky.
After some discussion, all decided to take the new ship for a spin and head eastward, out over the great desert flats and toward the invading armies of Marghul Toa.
The bulk of the center of the enemy front line consisted of three dozen bulette, and perhaps twenty or thirty umber hulks with their neogi masters mounted high on their shoulders. D’Othar archers and raiders riding upon their ankheg mounts dominated the enemy left. The enemy right was held by the tall, heavily muscled, dark-skinned warriors of the Marghul Toa. In all, the advancing front lines formed a curving arc more than a mile wide. The masses of men and beasts raised a towering plume of dust and sand which rose some thousands of feet into the air and completely obscured those following in the rear.
Our heroes swung around the formation at altitude and then came in low for a pass from behind the great cloud and rough formation. The marching column extended about two miles to the rear, with a wide trail of stragglers and shuffling slaves lagging behind a heavy baggage train of oxen and carts. Some of the carts were covered, others visibly bore great beams and wooden arms – assorted pieces of siege equipment. In the darkness and beneath the looming cloud of dust, the searing red eyes of the driven oxen appeared as a field of flashing red sparks as the creatures swung their heads to take in the Gith cruiser.
Flying low over the column, our heroes took note of the size and composition of the force. Yes, there were loads of great beasts, carts, and deadly muscle. But also, there were hundreds, thousands, of shuffling slaves driven by whip-cracking masters. As the Gith cruiser passed overhead, bullets, bolts, and fire whistled and arced in fiery streaks from the column but all fell short.
Suddenly Felkin and Silverwind noticed two great curving leg-like shapes above and descending from the darkness and dust. The two hanging leg things were more than a hundred feet long and deeply arched as if hanging from some giant floating spider.
Ned steered the cruiser into a dive, away from the legs and toward the front lines. At the lead of the column, one particularly large neogi master rode precariously astride a particularly large umber hulk. Felkin drew on the creature from 1000′ out and let loose three shafts in quick succession. An instant later, the three shafts hammered home into the head and body of the aberration. Its pointed legs reluctantly gave up their grip as it slid to the desert floor and landed in a cloud of dust and sand.
Somewhere, far away in another dimension, donuts were enjoyed by another small group of Iowe’s followers.
Hemispherical domes of dense fog instantly obscured the front ranks of the formation in a rapid chain reaction. Meanwhile, our heroes hesitated to directly explore the source of the legs. Instead, they shot back toward Na’Batum. Lilia left her spider familiar on the desert floor about an hour in front of the advancing column to spy on their progress and formation.
Back in Na’Batum, Ned skilfully brought the craft around for a graceful touchdown at the WIld Gate adjacent to Ward Teikhon, and then eased the ship back to the Temple of Iowe for a final landing. All but Zerth, the Githzerai slave, disembarked into the temple to discuss plans.
More details became clear after some quick scrying by Ned and some close observation by Lilia through the eyes of her familiar. The flying craft appeared to be some great spider-like ship, with interior spaces and stations occupied by umber hulks and neogi of various ranks, including one supremely large neogi working a colorful control console with its modified fore-limbs and pedipalps. The large creature appeared to be some sort of captain of captains as it was attended to by four large neogi masters which were larger than your typical neogi, but not nearly as large nor nearly as adorned with finery as the craft’s pilot.
Three vespid warriors attended the pilot as well. With Ned’s determined scrying, he obtained the general layout and design of the ship as well as some rough idea of the opposition. At some point, it appeared the pilot became aware of the scrying or at least the creature and its attendants assumed a slightly more alert stance.
There was nothing for it but straight in – Ned opened a portal to the large flat area above the helm. Nobo leaped through and charged, cleaving deeply into the attendant neogi master on his left. Urien was right behind. With his Blade of the Martyr flaming, he advanced and cut into the one on the right. Felkin leaped through the gate and fired – one neogi went down. Silverwind and Lilia were through and attacked. Another neogi went down. Ned appeared and applied unbreakable glue to the door leading to the rest of the ship and the reinforcement neogi and umber hulks. All were sealed onto the flight controls deck now.
Then the greater neogi uncoiled its long neck, veins and eyes pulsing it let loose with a mind shattering mental attack. Nobo and Urien were stunned. Lilia moved to a better position and attacked. The creature at the helm reared back and spat out a searing spray of acid. All our heroes took cover, but Nobo and Urien took the acid badly in their stunned state.
Umber hulks bashed at the glued door from behind. The great pilot creature attacked again with its mind-blasting attack. Urien fell first, then Nobo. Lessep was there and applied Queen Tulasamon’s healing potion. The bright draught brought Urien up – he leaped with his flaming sword back into the fray.
Felkin’s arrows continued to hammer the neogi pilot. Now Silverwind engaged the beast with fearsome blows. The pilot’s head swung to face Silverwind and with a moment of mental focus, it flung Silverwind from the bridge to fall to his death thousands of feet below.
Silverwind fell. And fell. Grasping, reaching for anything, he managed to reach and hold one of the long dangling spider legs of the craft, sliding down the leg he stopped at a bulging joint.
The battle raged on. Lilia was flung from the ship as well. Finally, the pilot succumbed to the wrath of our heroes. Just then, umberhulks broke through the bulkhead door and attacked. Nearly all of our heroes were mesmerized by their gaze as more neogi swarmed toward the fight from above and below.
Lilia used her magical Shadow Step ability to return to the deck of the craft. Silverwind and Ned went for the controls and sent the ship into a slow arcing roll to the right. Lillia leaped through the portal to return to Na’Batum, but was followed by a neogi! More neogi went for the portal.
Ned spread his last doses of unbreakable glue across the controls of the ship as everyone leaped through the portal. One umber hulk tried to follow but Nobo refused to allow the beast entrance. Then another pushed and finally, Nobo gave way.
The vicious fray spilled into the inner sanctum of Iowe in Na’Batum. Lilia was completely enslaved by a neogi. She plowed the Right Hand and Left Hand of Alatariel into the chest of Limbert, a middle-aged Man of the Ward, House Teikhon, and he bled out on the stone floor. A neogi dropped the spell of whispering blackness on the whole chamber, and Ned dispelled it.
The fight was fierce and deadly. Three more Men of the Ward fell, and Brother Robus was badly injured. Neogi disappeared as they used dimension door to escape the fight and explore Na’Batum.
The end was as grisly and bitter as it began. Ned used Azhir’s Eye to locate the few that escaped and our heroes cut them down, one by one. Civilians and guards were easily dominated by the creatures as they fled and tried to manipulate their escape. But in the end, all were likely accounted for and each was put to death.
This is where we stand. What happened to the Mind Spider – the flying ship of the neogi? At last sight, it was rolling out of control and falling toward the hard Plains of Maradah. What about the marching forces of the Marghul Toa? At last sight, they were about 50 miles out from Na’Batum. What is to be done about the settling Oynbokigon and the demons it spews? Also, according to the Githzerai, Zerth, a child of Zaghlool known as Gorgulghlool will soon bring this world to an end.
One thing is for sure, your actions within the minutes and hours ahead will determine the fate of your world.