|The Astral Plane
Author: Alan Beck PM
This is a story that shows the three main ways to permanently kill the Riders in standard nethack. This story is based off a real ascension I had in nethack Slashem where I used the genetic engineer polymorhph/charm technique to gain two human pets.Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy/Sci-Fi - Tourist - Words: 2,834 - Published: 06-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7076680
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The portal was just like all the others, an eldritch glowing circle filled with arcane sigils. Duy, Melarn and Paige swam desperately towards at the magic portal, fleeing the water elementals that pursued them. Melarn was beginning to visibly tire and slow. An older man well into his 70s, Melarn was a necromancer, built for spell craft not long dives. Paige looked back, passed her pack to Duy, and she grabbed him by the arm. One by one they made it through the portal and arrived onto the Astral Plane.
Duy was a Tourist who hailed from the city of Ankh-Morkpork. He'd left for the Maze of Madness 17 years ago. He'd been a young man then full of fire in his belly and faith in the Lady. He'd been convinced that he would be the one who would survive were countless thousands had failed in acquiring the Amulet of Yendor for the Lady. The coveted artifact desired by all the gods. Back then he never would have thought he would one day abandon his Goddess and sell the Amulet to the highest bidder. That was before he'd been called back to Ankh-Morpork after a villain called the Master of Thieves and his legions laid siege to his city. His teacher, Two Flowers, had been working tirelessly just to hold back the advancing army. Two Flowers instructed him to find the Master of Thieves and kill him. He preformed his task. At the time he asked why the Lady did not simply help save them from the menace but he put aside his doubts and did his duty. After returning completing his task he quickly returned to report to Two Flowers. News of the Master of Thieves death had not reached either side of the siege. So Duy saw Two flowers valiantly leading his brothers in defense of the city. He arrived to see Two Flowers praying to heal a young man's wounds. The Lady thought that was one too many prayers, evidently, because she struck Two Flowers down with a bolt of lightening. Seeing his teacher slain by the Lady broke his faith. Duy renounced the Lady. He stayed just long enough to see that the siege was lifted and left. That day he vowed to get the amulet and use it to get venagnace on the Lady. Eventually Odin agreed to make him and his two friend's demigods and slay the Lady upon receipt of the Amulet.
Paige was a flaxen haired, lithe but muscular girl. She met Duy eleven years ago in Mine Town. She'd been a watchwomen then, barely into her 20s. One day while drinking the fatigue of yet another day of shoplifters and roaming mimics at the tavern a ridiculous tourist in a Hawaiian shirt asked her if he could take her picture to show the folks back in An Morpork how lovely the women of the maze were. He bought her a drink and the two hit it off. She tried to get him to stay but he was determined to go the bottom of the Mines. When he managed to come back alive a few weeks later, he showered her in gems he gotten from the Gnome King. At that time she'd never left Mine Town and was fed up with working in the Watch. Leaving the Maze never even occurred to her and her only other prospect would have been joining King Ludios' staff or becoming a Keystone Kop. Neither job appealed to her. So when Duy asked her to join his quest to explore the Maze she agreed despite her better judgment and eventually became his wife. She'd traveled with him to Ankh-Morpork to save his city, through Gehenna and finally helped him get the Amulet of Yendor from the Wizard.
Melarn was a necromancer which is a wizard who specialized in controlling the undead. Many years earlier he'd had a rare moment of kindness and saved a young tourist from a horde of water moccasins. Some months later he'd entered Medusa's lair blindfolded and ready to face her only to be a petrified by a cockatrice she'd summoned. He woke up to the same tourist only older casting stone to flesh on his petrified form. Only to find out nearly 14 years had passed by. So he'd joined forces with the two and faced the horrors of the Maze. When Duy bargained with Odin to make them all immortal, he'd renounced his god and joined him fully.
Upon the Astral Plane resided the High Altars of the Gods. There the barrier between the realm of the gods and men was weaker. That was why a High Altar was the only place an artifact of the Amulet of the Yendor's magnitude could be sent to the realm of the Gods. As they appeared on the Astral Plane they saw a grand hall filled with doorways leading to the various High Altars of the many gods. They took a brief moment to adjust their weapons and wands. Then they looked at each other for a moment. Duy shook Melarn's hand and said "However this goes it has been an honor". Melarn says "Either way it's better than spending eternity in Medusa's lair". Melarn hugs Paige and Paige kisses Duy. They all knew it was time for the End Game.
They'd given the Oracle of Delphi all their gold to learn know what awaited them. The Astral Plane filled with Angels, Priests and other minions of the various gods. All would be ready to attack the trio in order to gain the Amulet of Yendor to offer to their god. Most notable of the dangers were the Riders.
The Riders were an ominous trio that served no one god. There role was to preserve the balance amongst the gods. Accordingly anyone bringing the Amulet of Yendor was a threat because they would tilt that balance regardless of what god they sacrificed to. They were ancient and immortal. Untold millions had tried to kill them and fail. A rider might be slain they were assured to rise from the dead. Many had tried to kill them. Disintegrating them with the breath of black dragons, slaying them with artifact weapons, eldritch beams from all manner of weapons, even the petrifaction which served so well among even the greatest opponents could not stop the Riders. The Oracle of Delphi had told them the only means to defeat the Riders permanently. Without killing them it was a race to get to the High Altar of Odin before succumbing to their attacks.
Duy held the amulet of Yendor and muttered "you'd think Odin could have sent an angel or a couple valkyries to help out. Melarn replied "we are mercenaries not true believers. We don't get help until we deliver. As he said that, an Angel of the Lady appeared before them with sword in hand. "How dare you defy the Lady by offering the Amulet of Yendor to another god" she said. The Angel thrust her sword at Minh. Caught off guard the sword caught him through the chest piercing his grey dragon scale armor. Minh fell over as the Angel of the Lady went to grab the Amulet of Yendor. Paige immediately reached into her pocket and grabbed a cockatrice egg. She tossed it at the Angel's face. The Angel of the Lady immediately turned to stone petrified. Melarn grabbed a potion of healing out of his many pockets and poured it over Duy's wound. The wound closed up. Minh thanked him and said find Odin's altar. Melarn blindfolded himself and searched the hundreds of altars that were in the general vicinity with the telepathy he'd gained from eating a floating eye in the dungeon. He found Odin's High Priest tending his altar surprisingly close by. Maybe Odin was looking out for his interests after all.
Using her last wish from a wand of wishing she'd plundered from the Castle. Paige wished for two cockatrice corpses. Almost anyone struck by one would turn to stone in an instant. The three began their way towards the High Altar of Odin. Almost immediately they were attacked by various priests and angels. Duy and Paige attacked the coming horde with cockatrice corpse in hand turning dozens into statues as they fought through the hall. Melarn blasted many with his array of spells and wands leaving a trail of bodies in their midst. Then they saw the first of the Riders.
Famine was a 10 foot tall skeletal figure with tightly drawn skin and withered muscles. Its flesh was white with hints of grey around the mouth. Its eyes glow pale blue. Famine hovered rather than walked. He wielded no weapons put the sheer power emanating from him made it clear he did not need any. Paige pulled out another cockatrice egg and threw it at Famine. As they had been told, petrifaction had no effect. Paige said "well it was worth a try". Melarn says "stand aside I have one last charge in my wand of death". He pulls out an ebony wand and fires. The ray hits Famine and he falls to the ground dead. Duy, forgetting the Oracles instructions kicks him and says "I thought these guys were supposed to be tough. Jubilex was tougher than him." As Duy touches Famine's corpse, Famine rose back up and grabbed Duy. Duy began to feel a deep hunger like he'd never felt even after days without food. His body began to shrink as if he had not eaten for months. Frantically, Melarn rushed forward and sliced Famine's hand off with his athame. Switching to his staff Melarn continued to attack Famine. Duy scrambled away and promptly devoured a K-ration.
Meanwhile, Paige put on her ring of polymorph control, zapped a wand of polymorph and willed herself into the form of a green slime. She slithered towards him while Melarn had him distracted. She struck him with one of her pseudo pods in an area of exposed flesh. The slime began to take hold of Famine even as he struck Paige down. The damage made her revert to human form but she'd done her job. Quickly the slime began to cover Famine's body and he turned into a green slime himself. Paige grabbed her wand of fire and with a quick burst of flame destroyed the green slime that once was Famine.
They continued down the hall. Attacking priests with their cockatrice corpses and lobbing cockatrice eggs at angels they were slowly turning the Astral Plane into a strange rendition of Medusa's lair. They were near Odin's High Altar but they knew there were two more Riders to face. Then they saw Pestilence.
Pestilence was a gigantic humanoid shaped mass of green acidic flesh. Its exterior was covered with pseudo pods that lashed out at seemingly random directions. In between them were vast pulsing orifices that exuded a noxious vapor every time they opened. It exuded a supernatural miasma of decay and rot that made all organic matter around it rot. Despite this, Pestilence had a bizarre sublime majesty in its bearing. To look on it was too upon greatness.
Duy engaged Pestilence quickly with his sword. He told Paige and Melarn to stay back and hurt it with wands while he engaged Pestilence. The Rider was skilled. He swatted at Duy with a pseudo pod hitting him across the face. Every time Duy would score a hit so would Pestilence.
All his hair fell out. His teeth were beginning to rot. They dropped one by one as his gums turned a necropoliptic blue. Duy kept fighting. Even as his skin turned a sickly jaundice and black blood glowed form every orifice he kept fighting. Paige attacked from afar with bolts of fire from her wand but the wounds healed almost as quickly as they were struck.
Meanwhile, Melarn fumbled with his wand of death. It was out of charges but it was possible to wrest one last charge out of a wand. Duy was dying and he kept getting no reaction from his wand. Finally he wrested on last charge out of his wand of Death and aimed it at Pestilence. The beam struck Pestilence in the chest, killing him instantly. Paige promptly ran over to Duy and gave him several potions of healing and applied a unicorn horn to his wounds.
Duy took out the cursed figurine of a gelatinous cube he'd been saving for this moment. He set the figurine on the ground next to Pestilence's corpse. The figurine suddenly sprang to life as a hostile gelatinous cube. Duy stepped back behind Famine' corpse and let the gelatinous cube come towards him. As it did the cube swallowed Pestilence's corpse whole. "Paige turn into a woodland nymph" he shouted. Paige zapped her wand of polymorph and willed herself into the form of a woodland nymph. Paige ran over to the gelatinous cube and thrust her hands into its ocher covered body. The slime covering Famine's corpse made it so that Pestilence's resurrection ability was not triggered. Struggling from the weight Paige carried the corpse over to Duy. Duy opened up a spare bag of holding and Paige dumped Pestilence's corpse in. Then she took out a bag of holding of her own and tossed it inside the bag Duy held. The two dove for cover as the bags imploded destroying both the bags and Pestilence's corpse utterly. They cut down a handful of rogue priests and saw they were at the door to Odin's High Altar. Duy opened the door.
Finally they entered the outer chamber of Odin's High Temple. It was a grand hall with fountains of mead and offerings to Odin abounded. Normally it would have been a splendid sight assuredly but where normally priests would be offering sacrifices to Odin where strewn the bodies of angels, valkyries and priests. In the center stood a gaunt, skeletal figure whose head was clocked with a hooded robe and wielded a scythe. The last rider was Death. They had hoped they might have avoided him but that clearly was not the case. Death was the last obstacle between them and the High Altar of Odin. The Oracle had given them one last trick to kill a Rider. They needed at least a little space to resurrect if not their corpses would inevitably rot away. Duy motioned to Melarn and said me and Paige will beat him you prepare the room.
Duy engages Death As he engages Death sidesteps and scores a glancing blow to Duy's side. Irritated he attacks again. This time he barely parries a similar blow. Death starts to attack wielding his scythe in long circular arcs. He uses a circular clashing style drawing blood and life energy with each blow. Paige joins in from the side and scores a glancing blow. Slowly the pace begins to quicken. After a few minutes they are moving at a speed well beyond normal human ability.
Melarn took out a bottle of the finest booze the Gnomish Mines had to offer and drank until he was confused. Then he pulled out a scroll of create monster and recited the words. Being confused he mispronounced them. Suddenly a large number of acid blobs began to fill the room. He read half a dozen more until the room was completely filled with acid blobs.
Death presses the action and grazes Duy's chin. Death hits Paige with the pommel of his scythe slamming her against the wall and taking her out of the fight. Minutes go by and Duy is beginning to slow. He was just man and Death was the greatest of the Riders. At the speed and distance they were at if Melarn stopped to help he'd be likely to hit him as much as Death. He knew he had to put everything into one last attack. He leapt into the air and slashed Death with one eviscerating blow. Death fell to the ground defeated. A few moments later Melarn was done covering the room in acid blobs.
Deaths body was covered with acid blobs as Paige, Duy and Melarn made their way to the high altar of Odin. Eventually Death's body began to rot away and they felt less troubled.
Finally they made it to the high altar and Paige, Melarn and Duy stayed together as Duy offered the Amulet of Yendor to Odin.
An invisible choir sings, and they are bathed in radiance.
The voice of Odin booms out: "Congratulations, mortals!"
"As promised, I grant thee the gift of Immortality and I shall go and defeat the Lady for you!"
All three ascend to the status of Demigods