Idle Hands is the 23rd episode of The Chain. It aired on July 31st, 2019.
The Rod of Power of Rhodar von Glauer
Seeing his friends in danger, Copper tries to shoot the mists. The arrow disappears into the mist and there’s no outward indication that it had any effect. His second arrow misses. Bigcat also attacks. Her tentacles whiff through the mists and some clings to her paws and dissipates, but it doesn’t seem like she’s accomplishing much.
The mists, which have engulfed Judge, Leech, and Boots, do something that causes necrotic damage to Judge and Boots. Slim, King, and Copper see the mists pulse and the red striations grow stronger, and the clouds resume their previous size. Boots wields his new rapier and starts attacking the mist around him. After the second blow, the mist around Boots dissipates. Judge reaches into the mist and claws back some of the life that was stolen, which causes the mists around him to diminish. Slim enters the room and attacks the mist surrounding Leech, whipping his greatsword through it and completely dissipating it. Leech is revealed inside, unconscious. Then he advances on the mist around Judge and misses. King casts toll the dead on the last mist, killing it.
Once all of the mists are dead, they continue down the corridor until it ends in a small, circular room. There is a scepter on a dais inside, surrounded by a ring of gold with runes engraved in it. Built into the pedestal is a small plaque. Buts leans over to investigating the glyphs in the gold to see if it’s some kind of trap. She says she thinks it’s a ward of some sort that might be triggered by touch. She accidentally touches it and is thrown against the wall by the resultant reaction.
Boots casts dispel magic on his mandolin, but nothing happens. Whatever this magic is, it’s more powerful than his attempt to dispel it. Slim uses a javelin to try to probe the ward. As soon s the javelin intersects the circle, he’s knocked back in the same way Buts was and is slammed against the far wall, suffering some pretty serious injuries. Seeing this, Boots plays a healing song on his mandolin. Remembering that Leech can read anything, they wake him up and ask him to interpret the writing on the plaque. He says, “Your idle hands are his tools. What work shall ye do with them?” King recalls reading something in the Chronicle and turns right to it. He turns to the passage in the Chronicle and reads it out to everyone:
- “In those days the Chain was in service to the Emperor Gaius VIII, third of the Five Crusading Emperors, and 27th Emperor of Caelia. Gaius continued the crusades started by his illustrious grand-uncle. Those were profitable days for the Chain, the Wheel, and the Gate. While the other Helltroopers waded into the deserts of Khoursir and Khemhara, we battled in the forests of Vaslor. We had it easy. I hate deserts. Count Rhodar von Glaur waited until he was fulsome in his strength before trying to extend his dark realm into Caelian territory. Thinking his vampiric power would save him. But we know how to deal with Vampires. The black and gold standard of the von Glaur family reads “ I do the devil’s work .” We can attest to that. We lost many souls to that long siege, but in the end, we staked him. An old woman howled at us saying “he is the land!” but we hear that stuff all the time. We sacked his castle, burned his forest/orchards, and delivered his staff to the Emperor. That was harder than it sounds. Finger had to drop it in one of his bottomless sacks to stop the mists from coming. What the Emperor will do with it, I don’t know. I fear that staff may hold more than the power to make the mist.”
- — The Chronicle
Boots says, “I’m here to do the devil’s work,” and extends his hand towards the scepter. Nothing happens, so he takes the scepter from it’s pedestal. They wake Buts up and she asks how they got the scepter. They explain, and then Judge casts identify on the scepter. She learns it can summon vampiric mists and gets the feeling that it can do more, but her spell wasn’t strong enough to reveal what that might be.
It doesn’t seem to respond to Boots. Leech points out that it’s a vampire staff and is almost certainly evil. King asks Boots to give him the scepter so they can put it in their bag for storage, but Boots is reluctant. Leech says Boots seems overly protective and maybe it already has a grip on Boots, but he’d be happy to carry it. King insists that it go in the bag of holding.
An Honest Conversation
They go back to the room where they fought the Blackiron Pact so King can sketch the runes into the Chronicle. While sketching, they hear Lady Orozivaar waking up. She sits up and says, “Commander.” King says, “Report, soldier.” She says, “I fear I was brash and hasty with you earlier. I apologize. I fear I was overcome with zealous rage. I’m better now.”
Boots tells her not to worry about it, they don’t like those guys either.
King tells her that they almost brought down the wall around Violentia and they need her help to get her out of her prison. She says she’d like to be able to take her back to her church, but she doesn’t know how. They suggest to her that she rest a bit to try to regain some of her psionic power and maybe they’ll be able to bring it down. She said that she didn’t fight the Blackiron Pact with the power of her mind. She spent everything she had against the wall and now she has nothing. If she rests, she’ll recover, but she used everything she had last time and she doesn’t think the outcome would be any different on another attempt.
They get Lady Orozivaar’s word that she’ll stay with them for now, though she says she will have to get back to the church. They go back to Lady Violentia’s prison, but nothing has changed there.
They decide to complete exploration of the area. While discussing which way they want to go, Lady Orozivaar asks King what The Chain is doing down here. Lars says they’re trying to keep the wards of the Emperor from falling into the hands of the enemy. She questions which Emperor, and he tells her. Judge asks Copper to look for tracks down the unexplored corridors. The only tracks he sees are their own.
Judge pulls King aside and asks how they know they can trust Lady Orozivaar. She claims she chased the Blackiron Pact, but how do they know her story is true? She might be a mole. Slim responds, “She is not a mole. She is a green dragonborn.”
The Iron Centurion
They take one of the unexplored corridors and find another circular room. In the center is a large stone statue. They realize that it looks somewhat like Marcellus Scipio, perhaps just because the statue is dressed as a centurion. Looking at the statue from outside the room to see if there’s anything there that indicates the Scipio family. There is a heraldic device on the statue’s shield, but it’s old and they don’t know what emperor it might refer to. When they enter the room, the statue animates, points at them and speaks in a language they don’t understand, and charges. What appeared to be stone is actually the dust of ages and as it begins to move, they can see it’s actually made of iron. Leech hears its words as “The emperor forbids.”
It slams its shield into Boots, injuring him. Copper shoots the floor beneath the iron golem with his excavating arrow. It lands between the golem’s feet. Shards fly up from the floor as it disappears. The golem, falling, reaches out and grabs Boots, dragging him with him into the hole. As they land, Boots sees a statue of a Pegasus. King approaches the hole and, looking down, casts shatter behind the golem. Judge also approaches the hole and casts darkness around the golem, but leaving Boots able to see. Slim throws a rope down to Boots.
The golem slams into Boots again with his shield and and hits him with its halberd, knocking Boots out. Cooper shoots at the golem again and hears his arrows ping off the iron golem. King and Judge wait to act, as Slim casts mage hand to tie the rope around Boots. Judge and King pull Boots up, and they hear the ringing of metal on stone as the golem starts running. King casts a healing spell on Boots. Copper asks Slim to lower him on the rope so he can rummage through the rubble, but he doesn’t find his arrow.
King recites a prayer of healing and casts a healing spell on Lady Orozivaar. They retreat back through the corridors to the top of the ladder at the well to take a long rest, setting a watch. During their watch, King and Copper hear a grinding sound. Tunneling out of the ground, they see three strange creatures. They have toothy maws and a ring of eyes around their mouths. As they emerge, they see that the creatures have three arms and three legs.
Copper disengages and backs up, then plays his horn to wake everyone up (and, coincidentally, give them some temporary HP). Bigcat tries to attack one of the xorn, but misses. Slim advances on the xorn swings at it, but his sword bounces off the first time. He attacks with more ferocity the second time and hits. The xorn tries to eat Slim’s weapon, his mouth clamping around his sword, wrestling for possession of his weapon. One of the xorn sinks into the ground and moves underneath Boots. It doesn’t undermine him, but it does claw and bite at him, grabbing Boots’ ankle with its mouth. The last xorn attacks King, clawing and biting him as well, then burrows back into the ground until the only thing visible is its eye.
King advances on one of the xorn that’s still topside and attacks with his sword. He misses with his first attack, but hits with his second. Judge casts magic missile at the xorn that’s trying to eat Slim’s sword. Boots stabs the xorn on his ankle once, but his second attack misses. Copper shoots one of the xorn and Bigcat follows up with an attack on the one submerged by King.
Slim tries to wrest control of his sword away from the xorn, but fails at first. He yanks harder and gets his weapon back. The xorn is agitated at losing its meal and the inside of its mouth is scraped up from the wrestling match. It begins to vibrate, setting up a sympathetic vibration in the room, causing rocks to fall from the ceiling. One of them hits Boots and he goes down again. The xorn near King attacks, also knocking him unconscious. The third xorn burrow over to Judge and clawing him. Judge uses a hellish rebuke in reaction as it sinks into the ground. Leech casts blight, putting his hand on its head. Leech’s eyes glow with power as he draws life out of the xorn. King uses his ability as a commander to order Slim to attack again, but Slim’s attacks miss. King casts a spell to heal himself.
Judge moves over to Boots and uses infernal conduit to heal him, damaging himself in the process, saying, “Your work’s not done.” Judge also casts a hex on one of the xorn. Boots attacks the submerged xorn, enraged by being bitten, hitting it twice. Then he pirouettes and tries to stab it again, but misses. Bigcat attacks one of the xorn and Bigcat kills it, splitting it into three pieces, then Copper shoots another xorn. Slim moves to flank the xorn near Judge and stabs at the buried form, hitting it with such ferocity that it’s terrified of him. The frightened xorn disappears into the ground. Slim spits on the ground as it disappears. The remaining xorn attacks Boots, missing with both claws, but biting him again, then submerges again.
Leech casts blight again at the submerged xorn, draining the life from it until it’s a withered husk, flopping half out of the earth, and turning from a healthy, ruddy color to a dusty gray.
Confrontation at the Shop
Boots walks over, picks up his bag, throws it over Bigcat and drapes himself over Bigcat’s back, immediately falling asleep. They decide to go back topside to rest, but as they make their way back, they are met by two guards, members of the Chain, Frost and Soot. Frost is blonde, long hair, blue eyes, looks like a young Ajax. He has a scar across his cheek. “Can’t go up this way, sirs. Angel says no senior officers in the Shop.” You’ll have to follow us.
Judge wants to know why and they say, “To keep up appearances.” They take the senior officers up another metal ladder and into a neighboring store. It used to be a chandlers. It’s dark, dirty, and also abandoned. The junior officers check the alley and say it’s safe to leave. As they approach the sausage shop, they see that it appears to be a going concern, with customers and everything. They decide to rest in the chandlers. Frost asks what message he should give Angel and King says he should just tell Angel to come to them here.
Lady Orozivaar says, “I need to go report to the church,” and The Chain intervene. She says, “For a moment, I regretted not trusting you, but I was right not to, wasn’t I?”
They don’t want her to report back to the church about the existence of Ringwell and where the entrance is. They try to convince her to stay and finish the mission. She says, “You can finish whatever mission you’re on. I’ll finish mine.” She puts her hand on the door knob. “Am I leaving?”
King tells Slim to stop her; Slim puts his hand on the door to keep her from opening it.