Sasha and Grizzop are back to back on the walkway, with 6 soldiers surrounding them. Grizzop is finally able to down the captain and one of the soldiers, but the five remaining attack him all at once, and Grizzop is impaled; he dies. [Meta note: Ben then rips his character sheet] Sasha screams as the spears impale him, a cry completely laden with grief.
Sasha is hit by all of the soldiers, and is completely knocked out. Time passes forward, and eventually she wakes up. She’s tied up, with her arms behind her back, and she’s hanging upside down; upon waking, she throws up. There’s a small pool of her own blood under her. Around her, there are conversations happening in Latin; she can’t make out any of the words. She’s barely with it, and barely able to understand anything, but she can tell that it doesn’t seem as though anyone knows she’s awake. She drifts in and out for a bit, and there are more sounds of huge creatures coming up from the giant pit in the middle of the room. The noises echo around the room. She drifts out again, and then comes back to. There’s bright sunlight streaming into the room, with huge movements coming closer. She lifts her head, and can see that the entire ceiling is open, almost looking like an observatory dome.
To her left, there’s a strung-up Cicero, who looks white as a sheet. He’s screaming in panic, asking someone what they’re doing. Sasha looks around, and can see the mechanical devices around. There are six of them, and chains are rapidly flying through them. There’s a captain still there, battered, who’s holding something on the far side of the room, and it doesn’t seem like he knows what he’s doing. He seems a bit more overwhelmed than anything else. Sasha can’t make out what he’s holding, but it seems small, and is glowing. The person is not the captain that Grizzop shot; they have tatty, dull red armor.
Grizzop’s body is still on the floor, far enough that Sasha can barely see, and there are many corpses of the Jupiter group on the floor of the walkway. The captain, on the other side, is starting to get openly terrified. Sasha’s starting to be able to make out what the people around her are saying, and it’s clear that they’re saying that they need to move quickly. The one in the middle is starting to yell something in a language Sasha doesn’t recognize - it may be draconic.
An enormous claw creeps over the side, maybe about 15 feet from her. It’s sooty black, and then it pulls itself up. It’s a massive dragon, and the head creeps over. The creature is facing away from Sasha, but it’s clearly in bad condition. It squares off with the captain holding the thing, and it’s clear that he’s completely terrified. He holds the item out, and then yells out something that may be an order. The dragon takes a deep breath, and a jet-black edged in white flame shoots out. Sasha has to close her eyes because the white edge is so bright. It seems to go on forever, and it’s loud and incredibly hot.
By the time Sasha is able to open her eyes again, the first of the dragons is flying out through the top of the roof. Following it is a golden dragon, and then a coppery dragon, a silvery, thinner dragon. As the last one makes their way out, Sasha notices that it’s much smaller than the others, the runt, and it’s a brass dragon. Sasha is able to identify it as a juvenile Apophis. She shouts their name, but they don’t hear over the roar of the fire and destruction, and all of the dragons fly off into the sky.
As the dragons disappear and the clamour quiets, Sasha can see what’s left of the room around her. The far side of it is gone, completely melted away, and most of the stone is completely blasted. Cicero is still screaming, and the guards on this side of the room are distressed, trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. The guards don’t care at all about Sasha, and they’re all looking up. For a moment, they almost seem hopeful, as though maybe things haven’t completely gone all bad, but it doesn’t last, as the big black dragon comes back. There’s another bout of roaring and another stream of fire, directly above where Sasha is, and that’s when the guards realize things have gone bad, and start to scamper away. Sasha uses their distraction to escape from the ropes, and she starts pulling at the bonds. It’s clear that they’ve done quite a basic job, and that they didn’t know how many daggers she really had. She looks around while she’s struggling her way out of the ropes. Cicero looks completely distraught, and she glances back, realizing that they were tied to some hunks of railing; she thinks that they might have been used as a sacrifice, but obviously it didn’t go the way they expect. Some of her equipment is laying around them as well, stripped from her after she fell unconscious.
She goes over to Cicero and slashes through his bonds as well, and tries to shake him. She asks if he knows how to teleport, because this entire place is about to be razed to the ground and they need to get out of here, but Cicero is completely spiraling. He stammers a bit, mentioning that he thought killing Galba would do it, and that you can’t expect a normal person to be able to control this. Sasha tells him that they can’t focus on this right now, and that they need to go immediately, but Cicero is properly panicking at this point. He’s openly weeping and dropping to his knees, wailing. Sasha rolls her eyes and chugs a cure light wounds.
She looks around, and sees all the corpses around the room. Eventually, she heads over to Grizzop; the guards around them are staring straight up, terrified, and they don’t care about Sasha. A few of them are running out through the tunnels. Intermittently, a body will fall through the ceiling and into the pit below. She moves over to where Grizzop’s body lays, and checks to make sure that he’s actually dead and not just unconscious. She pulls one of the bodies off of him, and sees him lying there, facedown, with gaping wounds all around his body. His eyes are still open.
Sasha turns him over and closes his eyes, giving him a hug. She’s smeared in her own blood, and some of Grizzop’s now, a mix of red and green. All around them, there’s roars and the sounds of explosions and destruction, but she takes this moment to hug him. She notices Grizzop’s kit and lays him down gently before rummaging through his bags. She takes the bags of holding that he’s got, and sees 4 cure serious wounds potions. She takes one, and heals herself: Grizzop’s last gift to her.
She goes back over to Cicero, and he looks terrible. Sasha gets his head in a vice grip and pours the last cure serious wounds down his throat to heal him. His wounds begin to knit up, and it seems to calm him down a bit. However, it seems more like he’s powering toward full shock than actually being calm. Sasha shakes him, and again asks if he knows how to teleport because they have to get out of there if they want to live. Cicero is the quietest he’s ever been when he responds, very mutedly saying that they could try the aqueduct or the tunnels. Sasha tells him to point, and Cicero does, incredibly pliable. They’re back the way they came. Sasha lifts him up and holds him over her back like a backpack and sets off in that direction, not speaking any further.
Time skips a bit forward. No one is down here, everyone has already escaped and run. As they head down, it starts to get deceptively quiet. They cannot hear anything from above them, although they can hear noises coming from the room they left, getting quieter the farther away they go. There’s one loud noise again, a heavy rumbling in the distance, and then it all falls silent. As they travel, Cicero starts to babble to himself, talking about how it’s the goblin’s fault, and how Galba could have had some power. It’s clearly not meant to be for Sasha, and he’s just in shock, muttering. Sasha still puts him down and tells him that if he says that again, she’ll kill him immediately. Cicero doesn’t respond for a moment, and then agrees. Sasha grabs him again and keeps walking. They get back to the sewer stairway, and Sasha asks Cicero how they could get out of the city with spending the least amount of time aboveground. He says that the sewers will take them most of the way; Sasha asks about the tunnels, and Cicero explains that they’re more for moving around the palace than leading out. She elects to head down the sewers. It’s still quite quiet, and eventually she lets Cicero down. He’s not speaking, now, but he’s listening to what Sasha says and obeying her orders. It’s quite cramped and narrow in the sewers. They weren’t built for humans, but they still have manhole covers and ladders leading down. For a while, there’s nothing, and then there’s a large explosion. Each time they reach a manhole cover, there’s some drips of blood coming down, and the sounds of complete destruction and screams and roars and cries get louder. It’s absolute devastation on the roads of Rome.
Sasha is completely zoning out, at this point, just focused on where she has to go next. They finally make it to the end of the sewer, hitting a solid steel grating, and spy a manhole cover and ladder leading up. Sasha uses an acid flask and adamantine dagger to break through the grating; she doesn’t want to go up to the streets of Rome for both safety and comfort reasons. She cannot handle another person right now; even Cicero is just behind her, right now, instead of her forcing him to go in front. He doesn’t matter enough - especially not since he said nasty stuff about Grizzop.
They head through the grate, and slowly come upon another one, which Sasha does the same process with. Here, everything starts to become completely confusing, and Sasha can’t tell which direction she’s going. Cicero does a better job of figuring out where they’re going. Eventually, they get to the edge of Rome, but they’re running out of sewer. It takes ages as well. The destruction is completely wholesale; even this far out, they can still hear it above them. They make it to a dead end, and Cicero says that he thinks this is the farthest they can go. She turns to him and says that she’s going to go up and walk out of the city. If Cicero wants to go back, she won’t fight him, but everything needs to wait until they’re out of the city proper. She says that there’s nothing left to save here, and asks if Cicero understands her. He takes a moment, and then very quietly says that maybe they deserved this. Sasha says that maybe they did, but that people rarely get what they deserve and that that has nothing to do with what happens to people. She tells him to ignore the screams, and then opens the grate.
The sounds of destruction are less here, but still there. They’re at the outskirts of the city, and the wall that used to stretch around the city is no more. They both look around. Everything is broken. There are shattered remnants of buildings, and a few still-living people picking their way through the rubble. In front of them, there’s a huge gash in the wall. They turn around; dragons are still swooping around the city and completely razing it to the ground. Some are just flying by and glassing it; the black one is ripping at individual buildings. All of them seem solely interested in destroying the place. They seem to be struggling with the palace itself; there are a number of tears out of it. Most of the guardmen of the palace are eventually falling into the pit.
As they watch, lightning strikes two times on the palace, and then a sustained bolt pours into the palace. The golden one flies at the palace, and another bolt comes out and strikes it down. At this point, all the dragons fly around it, and then it all goes white for a moment as they breathe fire at it.
Sasha turns, and pushes Cicero in front of her, leading him out of Rome. Anytime he starts to steer away from the crack in the wall, she shouts at him to get him to continue walking. There’s no one else around for her to grab and bring with her. The two of them make it through the shattered remnants of a gatehouse, and they pick their way through the debris. Sasha throws up in the corner, and then keeps walking, and they both walk away from Rome. Cicero joins her. Behind them, they hear sounds of disaster and extinction, and neither of them look back. They’re working their way toward the necropolis; there’s a few other people around who seem to have had the same idea, fleeing the city. Sasha loads their spring-loaded wrist sheathes, putting adamantine and the fire dagger in the other and asks Cicero if he has any friends. He says that he might know a place, and Cicero leads her off, as they fade into the distance.
Time skips forward, about 20 years. There’s a secluded, rural scene, with some mountains and woods, and a small river nearby. There’s an estate there, a combination farm and villa. There’s not really anything else within sight. Although it’s a farm, there are loads of people there, more than you’d expect. A lot of them are really young, large numbers of children roaming around. Some of them are just playing in the yard, while others are doing drills and maneuvers. Cicero is there, pretty old by this point, and wandering around. The kids aren’t listening to him. The main building is a calm and serene place; there are more weapons and armor in there than would normally be expected, just laying around. Up the stairs, a young child is being led into an office by two heavily armored men that seem like mercenaries. On the far side of the desk sits Sasha, not as small as she used to be, but still in shape. The two guards lead the child in, and he pushes through them, saying that these two need her help. Sasha nods and tells the child, little Maximus, to head off. He asks if she’s coming down for maneuvers later, and Sasha very pointedly says that she needs to see how rehearsals are coming, since they have a recital soon.
Sasha asks how she could help the two gentlemen, and throws a dagger up, catching it on her finger. They say that they’ve heard that Sasha is the best at what she does, keeping stuff secure, and that they want to hire her. She pulls down some paper, and scribbles out some moral codes, asking if anything that they need her to keep secure crosses these lines, and that if not, she’ll get her people on it.
They thank her and head out. All the kids are starting to be brought in for a meal, and Sasha looks out the window, seeing the horses of the mercenaries, and one of the kids is somersaulting between the horses. There’s another kid on a roof, with an adult standing there and applauding. It zooms out, and we leave Sasha there.
Grizzop wakes up on a bed of moss, and he feels good, almost peppy. More so than he has in a while. He’s in a strange forest; the plants and animals are strange, but it’s incredibly new and lush. He pulls out his bow, nocks an arrow, and starts walking around, trying to see what’s up. The treeline breaks as he walks up a slope with a gentle stream. He realizes that its actually nighttime, even though he has enough light to see by. The moon is shining overhead. He makes his way through the trees and as he gets to the top of the slope, he gets the lay of the land in front of him. It’s a completely untouched wilderness in front of him, with huge mountains off in the distance. A forest stretches out before becoming plains, and then he sees birds startle from trees as an enormous creature begins moving around in the forest. The stars above are completely unfamiliar to him, ten times as many as he’s ever seen before, and a streak of green through what would be the milky way above him.
He looks up at the moon, and says “Right. So this is what’s next.” and then scuttles off to hunt the beast.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
- Sasha rolls a Perception check: nat 1
- Sasha rolls a Perception check: 18
- Sasha makes an Escape Artist check: 28
- Sasha makes a Diplomacy check: 2
- Sasha drinks a cure light wounds, healing 3 hit points
- Sasha drinks a cure serious wounds, healing 23 hit points
- Cicero drinks a cure serious wounds, healing 17 hit points
- Sasha makes a Survival check: 25
Combat continued from previous episode.
Initiative: Sasha (25), Grizzop (nat 20, 24), Cult of Mars
- Sasha: Flips over a soldier on Grizzop’s side, rolling a 21 on her acrobatics check. She attacks them, hitting on a 21. She rolls a nat 1 on the second attack, and a 2 on the third. She deals 8 damage.
- Grizzop: Takes four shots at the captain again. He rolls 30, 22, 15, 16. The first two hit, the first attack deals 18 damage, which finally downs the captain. His second shot deals 15 damage to another soldier, which downs them. He provokes five attacks of opportunity. Four hit, one crits but doesn’t confirm. They deal a total of 39 damage, and Grizzop dies.
- Cult of Mars: All of the guards surround Sasha, and attack. They get 4 hits and deal 23 damage; taking Sasha to -4 hit points and she falls unconscious.