SweetSpearGirl's Adventures - Chapter 9: Flee in Fear, Terror
Cast of Characters
SweetSpearGirl, level 71 Spearazon
Debi Euyfura, loyal (if cynical) Rogue merc
Lady FrequentCast, the Ubiquitous Valk
The Three Seal Bosses
TAKE HEED AND BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTHS THAT LIE HEREIN, FOR THEY ARE THE LAST LEGACY OF THE HORADRIM...
*Welcome to Hell, SweetSpearGirl...*
Sat by her stash, Euyfura on her right-hand side sleeping; her back leaning against the hard marble wall of the Pandemonium Fortress and idly flipping a Chance Stone into the air and catching it, SweetSpearGirl was only half listening to what Cain was telling her about Mephisto's soulstone. She was thinking instead, of something that Ormus had told her back in Kurast. "How does one cause Terror to flee in fear? You have a great task ahead of you, Ormus thinks."
She hefted her spear and elbowed the Rogue in the ribs. "Wake up, girl. Time to go. We have work to do!"
Euyfura stirred and glared. "Why do you have to be so bloody enthusiastic?"
"It's my naturally occurring sweet nature. Come on, shift yer arse. Where's the Valk?"
As it turned out, Lady FrequentCast was wandering around the entrance way of the Pandemonium Fortress, admiring Halbu's polished armour. Euyfura caught the glowing minion by the elbow.
"Come on, you. The boss says we have to go and wallop some more evil buggers."
The Valk brightened up at this - if 'brightening up' even more than she already was, was even possible - and together - and with some trepidation - they set forth onto the broken rocky steps bridging an immeasurable chasm, heading towards the gates of Hell.
Fortunately, the previous evening's gambling with Jamella had netted SweetSpearGirl an extra 16 life and 8% cold resist thanks to a couple of small charms, so SweetSpearGirl herself had 1041 life (and Euyfura not far behind on 913). Corpulents - nasty corspe-spitting buggers that they were - went down without any problems and Doom Casters weren't so bad either. The diciest beasts in the Outer Steppes were Cliff Lurkers, the uglier and deadlier cousins of the sand leapers that infested the deserts of Aranoch. They hit surprisingly hard for their size, attacked in large packs of up to fifteen individuals, and weren't easy to pin down! More than once, a retreat to town was needed, and in the end SweetSpearGirl got tired of them - and of constantly recasting the Valk - and just headed straight for the next steps, down into the Plains of Despair.
A few Burning Souls met them at the entrance, but not enough of them to be more than a minor irritation, and the trio began exploring another Mordor-like Hell landscape. This was when they met Grief Touch the Slayer. An extra fast fire-enchanted Pit Lord with the ability to burn mana, his minions quickly chewed through the Valk and SweetSpearGirl found he had drained the mana she needed to recast! A quick retreat to town - heal, recast, repair - and it was back out to meet him and friends (and a couple of Corpulents hanging round too). Fortunately, SweetSpearGirl's large amount of leech was sufficient for offsetting the mana burn, and soon Grief Touch was but a memory. As an added bonus, he dropped a Full Rejuv. "Cool!" SweetSpearGirl said, grinning and throwing it into one of her empty belt slots. His other drops were a Dragon shield, ghost wand and bone knife - all useless to her, but worth a frankly shocking amount of gold.They were next menaced by a bright purple Doom Caster with a holy freeze aura - Foul Kill the Hunter, who was also fire-enchanted and had a spectral hit - and after he took down Euyfura and the Valk (three times) while SweetSpearGirl was only able to make slight dents in a couple of his minions, she decided they'd have to try a different approach. Tyrael, fortunately, dealt with merc resurrection (although why an archangel needed 50k gold was beyond any of our heroes) and the intrepid trio headed out again - not through the portal, but via the gate into the Outer Steppes. "We can catch the buggers on the stairs," SweetSpearGirl said to Euyfura. "Shame you don't have the strength to wear that Corpsemourn, it's got the highest defence on an armour I've ever seen."
In the Outer Steppes (again), they were met by another Doom Caster boss pack, this one led by Steel Kill (cold-enchanted, cursed, spectral hit) which seemed to have befriended a nearby pack of cliff lurkers. The fight was a little dicey but fortunately only the Valk needed resurrecting. As Euyfura put it, "Buggers."
They battled their way through the remaining inhabitants of the Outer Steppes (who dropped nothing of note; a blue ceremonial bow was found on a trapped soul but was - of course - useless) and were then standing at the entrance to the Plains. Foul Kill and friend were there - three of his minions floated through the gateway first, and he had the grace to stay put until they were dispatched. For all the trouble he'd caused earlier, it was a fairly straightforward fight with no more merc resurrections necessary. His aura didn't even switch on this time (although he did briefly poison SweetSpearGirl). He dropped nothing at all, not even a potion.
Moving onwards, they encountered more Burning Souls, and Flesh Spawners and their spawn were Valk-killers. The fights were often long and arduous, requiring frequent town trips for healing and repairs, but gradually they moved on, deeper into Hell. The drops were generally unremarkable, but gems and chance stones were still dropping and something had been holding onto Arcanna's light plate.
Then Izual, the dark Fallen Angel, spoke. Of course, it was typical that as he bore down on them with a blistering frost nova attack and a big sword, a swarm of Burning Souls and a Flesh Spawner saw fit to descend on them too. Seeing that Euyfura was taking hits, SweetSpearGirl pulled back to town yet again to heal up and repair.
More Flesh Spawners showed up as the trio fought Mr Infinite Hit-points, but fortunately much of his attention focused on the ones who could take it - SweetSpearGirl and the Valk - and eventually he fell, dropping rare vampirebone gloves and a blue Naga. The gloves SweetSpearGirl picked up, but left the fancy axe. Tyrael was suitably pleased and gifted SweetSpearGirl with two skill points, which she invested in Penetrate and Valkyrie. The gloves were crap, but at least they fetched a large amount of gold.
Back to it, and it was a relatively clear path between the site of the Izual battle and the entrance to the City of the Damned. Here they encountered Abyss Knights, who flung balls of elemental damage and were generally a big pain in the butt. The boss pack of Corpse Spitters (led by Steel Call - magic resistant, fire enchanted, lightning enchanted, and immune to both those elements) didn't help, and Euyfura went down. SweetSpearGirl retreated to resurrect her, and headed back.
Fortunately the big bully went down fairly easily, and then it was onwards. Pit Lords were common here too, and packs of Corpse Spitter Champions barred their way. Stranglers - stronger versions of Doom Casters - were showing up too; nothing about Hell was easy! They fought through pack after pack, SweetSpearGirl's leech only barely keeping her alive at times; although she did level to 72 in the process. She boosted her dexterity to 230, sank a skill point into Evade, picked up a combat shrine, blasted through a big pack of Pit Lords, and charged on. Euyfura and the Valk went down again when six Abyss Knights and numerous Stranglers and Pit Lords challenged them across a narrow chasm; SweetSpearGirl had to finish the fight alone, but finish it she did.
Abyss Knights were becoming real 'merc banes'; another pack of them took poor Euyfura down again. Both their physical and elemental attacks hit hard and hurt, and when Stranglers, Pit Lords and Maw Fiends (yep, even bigger and badder Corpse Spitters!) were added to the mix, it just became too much. SweetSpearGirl was really hoping to find a waypoint soon (even though a nameless Stranger had let a golden Tusk Sword fall into her lap). This was becoming very much not fun.
Finally! After numerous fights and carting stuff back to town to pay for resurrects - there it was, by the entrance to the River of Flame. SweetSpearGirl took it. Time to rest for a while, before turning her attention to the dark realm of Heyfatso.
There's no night in the Pandemonium Fortress, so she had no idea how long she or Euyfura had slept; but it was Cain who woke them, prodding them each with his staff. "Time's wasting! Diablo roams free in Hell!"
SweetSpearGirl muttered a few imprecations against impatient Horadric mages and shrugged back into her armour. Time to go again...
They waypointed to the City of the Damned and headed straight down to the River of Flame, to be met by maggots (*shudder*), Stranglers and Urdars. "At least there's no Abyss Knights this time!" SweetSpearGirl yelled above the sounds of fighting. Of course, the trouble with maggots (as they'd discovered with Coldworm!) is that they spawn in massive numbers. It was often some time before they could fight through the swarms of young to get to the adults! SweetSpearGirl wisely bypassed a maggot boss in favour of paying more attention to Urdars and Stranglers, although a Maw Fiend boss pack offered some trouble. Grief Shard the Mauler (cursed, fire enchanted, mana burn) and friends were not so much a problem in themselves but they distracted SweetSpearGirl from dealing with the maggot young that swarmed around her and her posse at the same time. After dealing with Grief Scrote they headed back to finish off the local maggot population and move on. Someone dropped a Sur rune, which SweetSpearGirl considered a good omen, and someone else coughed up a full rejuv.
Then she saw up ahead, the Hellforge. Knowing that Hephasto the Armourer would be lurking here, she moved ahead cautiously. Ahead of the big fat bugger himself were Strangers and Urdars and they took those out before continuing, throwing up a portal just in case. Then, there he was. Extra Fast, with a spectral hit, his infamous conviction aura and also teleportation-enhanced, he headed straight for Euyfura and took her out with one wallop from his Malus. He found SweetSpearGirl a tougher opponent, however, and it wasn't too long before he was biting dust. She got some purple potions out of him as well as the Hellforge Hammer, and smashing Mephisto's soulstone on the Forge itself yielded up an Um rune, among other gems.
After finding the River of Flame waypoint, they were warned by Tyrael that Diablo himself lay ahead, and was not to be underestimated. SweetSpearGirl knew the battle ahead would be extremely difficult, but she was determined to see it through.
"Then," she promised the other two and Cain, "I'll buy a round of ales in Harrogath."
The main obstacle between them and the entrance to the Chaos Sanctuary, was the maggots. They were clustered thickly on the narrow walkways across the hellfires, and spawned their young faster than SweetSpearGirl and Euyfura could kill them off. Gritting their teeth, they ploughed through the swarms to take on the adults (and the occasional Urdar or Strangler that came to investigate) and by degrees grew nearer to their destination.
Finally, they slew the last pack of Urdars, and stood at the very gates of Diablo's sanctuary. (It was at this point that SweetSpearGirl - acutely aware of her lack of storage space and diminishing funds - sold all the gems she possessed that were below flawless quality.) Tentatively, they stepped through.
"Flee in fear, Terror," SweetSpearGirl said softly, as the first pack of Venom Lords descended on them.
"Flee in fear."
The battle to gain the Chaos Sanctuary was probably the most intense of SweetSpearGirl's life. It was populated by Venom Lords, Storm Casters, Doom Knights and Oblivion Knights. One of the latter cast Iron Maiden on her and she only noticed just in time to avoid killing herself. Slowly they worked their way deeper into the corrupt sanctum of the Lord of Terror, encountering a pack of Champion Oblivion Knights on the way (the only advantage to there being more than one of the bastards in the same place was that Iron Maiden often got overwritten by a less troublesome curse!). Euyfura died again during this fight and SweetSpearGirl, knowing the Rogue was too fragile to take on the Champion pack, completed it without her.
Finally, the three of them stood on the central pentagram. SweetSpearGirl was only 700k experience away from levelling, and Euyfura not far behind. A big pack of Doom Knights and Storm Casters menaced them, and they fell back to pick off the enemies bit by bit. SweetSpearGirl and Euyfura both levelled to 73, although the latter died shortly afterwards again as another big pack of Doom Knights backed up by Oblivion Knights, hove into view near the first of the five Seals. Curses were not fun things, and it was easier when the Doom Knights could be separated from their magic-wielding friends and taken out one by one.
SweetSpearGirl opened the first Seal and the three of them ran. Out swarmed extra fast Venom Lords led by the Infector of Souls (who was also physical immune thanks to stone skin, and had teleportation and a spectral hit); a pack of Oblivion Knights was keeping them company which didn't help! Numerous hit-and-run attacks later, SweetSpearGirl and the Valk were surrounded by Venom Lords and grimly took them down one by one. Thanks to his physical immunity, it was almost impossible to even make a dent in the Infector himself, so SweetSpearGirl eventually beat a retreat and took out a couple of stray minions and the Oblivion Knights hanging around the Seal. The second Seal lay opposite, so she activated that too.
They were surrounded and beset by packs of, well, everything, as they moved on; and an Oblivion Knight, running away from them to fire his projectiles, led them back to the Infector of Pains In The Arse. They were able to lose him again, but SweetSpearGirl had to face - alone - a massive pack of Storm Casters, Doom Knights and Venom Lords which had completely surrounded her and taken out Euyfura and the Valk in short order. She was quite frankly, amazed that she lived through that experience (although more than one full rejuv had to be drunk to ensure her survival), and she quickly headed back to town to regroup.
Fights of that nature dogged her all the way to the third Seal. She knew this one would unleash Lord de Seis, and she was very nervous about this fight. She tripped the Seal.
Wonderful! He was Physical Immune as well! (plus extra strong, with multiple shot also in addition to his aura.)
"Son of a BITCH!" she swore as fanaticism-enhanced Oblivion Knights fired off projectiles at her and her team. Narrowly escaping back to town, they would have to consider their next move very carefully.
Eventually, they decided to return via the waypoint and head straight up the left-hand side of the Sanctuary to find the fourth Seal. Fortunately the Infector was not lying in wait along that route and at first all they met were Storm Casters. That would change soon enough. Doom Knights and Venom Lords swarmed them; a trio of Oblivion Knights in the background was lobbing cold projectiles, and SweetSpearGirl was only just able to keep herself alive (although Euyfura lived through the experience, which was surprising!) They found themselves near the fifth Seal, but didn't activate it yet, knowing that the Grand Vizier of Chaos and friends would be waiting. Instead, they turned their attention to the fourth, lying west of their position.
The fourth Seal was guarded by a few Venom Lords and nothing else, so it was easily opened. Now for the test. The Grand Vizier would offer no opportunity for a quick getaway. SweetSpearGirl tensed herself, and opened the Seal.
Euyfura died quickly. It seemed the Vizier was lightning-enchanted, but at first SweetSpearGirl was unable to find out what other enhancements he had. She retreated to the vicinity of her portal, recasting the Valk as she went and hoping a few minions would follow so they could be dealt with. Her mana had been all but drained, so she picked up a mana potion lying nearby and downed it in one gulp.
"Better," she muttered, returning through the portal to get Euyfura resurrected. Maybe she could draw out a stray minion or two.
Of course, instead, the whole lot came swarming after them. This was not good. Very not good. She got a bead on the Vizier and saw that he too was Physical Immune - as well as lightning immune, fire enchanted, lightning enchanted and extra strong. This was ridiculous. She returned to the River of Flame waypoint, to try again as best she could. This time, they were able to separate out and kill off the minions, but how they were going to deal with His Nibs - not to mention the Infector, and Lord de Shit over at the third Seal, none of them had the faintest idea.
Then, Euyfura hit on an idea. "You've got that Buriza in your stash, right? Doesn't it have a crapload of cold damage built in?"
"Yeah, but I'm not a bowazon, I couldn't string a bow to save my life!"
"I'll show you how. I know you haven't got any bow skills but normal bolts might be enough to do the job."
SweetSpearGirl nodded and pulled the heavy thing out of her stash. The ballista gleamed dully, looking threatening in the Pandemonium Fortress' perpetual twilight. Halbu sold her some bolts and, with Euyfura's guidance, she practised a little before returning to try it out.
The fight with the Infector was long and tedious, using up a quiver and a half of bolts and needing about twenty recasts of the Ubiquitous Valk, but eventually he fell (dropping useless crap of course but then what does one expect?). The cold damage of the Buriza and fiery attacks of Euyfura's arrows definitely worked on physical immunes, and SweetSpearGirl made a mental note to add a few points into important bow skills as and when she could.
Now, onto the Vizier. This would be much tougher...
In fact, it was pointless. His charged bolts took out Valks in seconds, and even hit SweetSpearGirl and Euyfura from a distance. Thoroughly disgusted, SweetSpearGirl returned to town through her portal. She had had enough. It was time to sleep on this.
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