We had just settled in for another round of drinks after the mayhem with the creepy schoolgirls and their blue dragon rhinoceros. Lightson looked ready to regale us with his knowledge of extra-planar spirits, when we were interrupted by an immense, tall, human-shaped woman. She was about 11ft tall, and had piercing, agate eyes. She had a quarrel with Gamalian and Hanlon, having taken offence at their treatment of the aforementioned school girls. She warned the pair that she’d shove their heads up their asses so far they’d get, I quote, “Shit-stains on their shirts”. Gamalian had apparently upset a balance that the Nicely-Nicely enjoyed up to that point. In order to restore the balance, they would meet in mortal combat, Nicely-Nicely style. Gamalian tried to point out the fallacy of restoring order with the chaos of combat, but the Shaitan was having none of it. Gamalian reluctantly accepts, as it is apparently the only way for this situation to resolve itself. Hanlon tries to sneak in a pre-emptive strike on the Genie, but the waitress, standing nearby, grabs his wrist in an unexpected and unnaturally strong grip.
Soon after the Shaitan removes herself from our table, we are graced by the angel at the bar, floating in on suitably angelic wings. The angel’s name is Lauraphim, she challenges Tierra, Lightson, and myself to accompany her in an engagement with the demon-devil pair at the end of the bar. I feel quite compelled to accept this challenge, as the evil permeating from that end of the bar is quite difficult to ignore.
We are then introduced to the rules of challenge combat at the Nicely-Nicely. Combat by challenge is brought to you by Bugman’s brew," we may not be real, but tell that to the Gnome you woke up next to."
Combat is to be handled in a suitably civilized manner. No preparatory magics are to be cast before the combat, excluding spells of healing. Belligerents may place themselves at any location within the NN. After first warning sounds, combatants have 5 minutes to prepare their battle strategy and place themselves, before the starting bell, when combat begins.
The first bell sounds, and the initial setup dance begins, with Hanlon and Gamalian expertly positioning themselves to force the Shaitan to react. The genie, apparently as planned, sets up underneath the balcony where the reader will recall some of our party members dealt with the chimera and goat combination in a previous entry in this tome.
“Mijime”. In the blink of an eye, Gamalian is holding the wondrous dagger. With barely a confirmation to see that the dagger had arrived, he struck. Gamalian slipped in behind the Shaitan and drove Mijime into what would probably be the kidney on a human, though mijime is met by mostly stone. The dagger, however, finds a crack and slides into the back of the genie. A horrified expression, the antithesis of the almost lustful expression on Gamalian’s face belie the magical transfer that took place. In an instant the Genie reacts, reaching behind and grasping gamalian. The genie angrily drives Gamalian into a nearby wall. Gamalian actually seems to penetrate into the wall. Hanlon uses the distraction to dig deep into his own psyche, drawing on some unseen well of energy, gaining the distinct impression of a spring coiling to unleash hell on some unsuspecting rodent.
Gamalian drives Mijime again, but is met only by the stony skin of the genie. While hanlon continues charging, Gamalian uses some of his newfound abilities to launch a stunning fist into the Shaitan. The genie is taken aback by the sudden, violent shot from the elf, but before she could truly react to the strike she’s distracted by another hit from behind, as the coiled spring is released. Hanlon, with his patented, slam-to-the-clam routine, strikes at the Shaitan, leaving the immense womanish monster reeling. The Genie’s skin appears to crack, then, shambling backwards, the genie sinks into the floor of the Nicely-Nicely, disappearing completely.
Before the pair can even consider that perhaps they’ve defeated the beast, the genie rises up behind Hanlon. The genie drops the boom on Hanlon, striking hard at the unsuspecting monk. Gamalian reacts by climbing up onto the balcony, the spider-glove lending supernatural climbing abilities to the usually clumsy banker. Gamalian climbs up and positions himself behind the distantly familiar ballista that sits on the balcony.
Hanlon drops his damdra and unleashes three punches on the genie which strike unnaturally fast. The genie shakes at the onslaught, but remains standing.
Gamalian, meanwhile, takes aim with the ballista. While Hanlon maintains the Genie’s attention, Gamalian looses with the immense war machine. The bolt releases, and, in a suitably slow-motion finish for the audience in the Nicely-Nicely, finds the back of the Genie, stabbing through the beast, the point sticking out almost hitting Hanlon on the other side.
With that the crowd erupts! Another epic Nicely-Nicely showdown! “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” Gamalian rouses the crowd with his arms spread wide.
As the Genie is dragged away awaiting resurrection, the buzzer sounds for the combatants of the second group to begin preparing for their combat.
Lauraphim sets herself up at some distance from the combatants, while Garion prepares himself to engage the Hamatula. As soon as the buzzer drops, Lightson whirls into action, casting a protection spell on me.
The combat begins in earnest, Lauraphim attacking the six-armed demon with authority, ruining its day. I dashed at the Hamatula, Smiting it with Cuthbert’s wrath. The Barbed devil lashes out, but strikes at the protection spell enacted by lightson. My efforts to strike at the beast are thwarted, just as Roark dives from the ceiling unleashing that awful scream from his mask that we’d had crafted for him at Kassanoody’s Karnival. After some back and forth between the angel and the six armed demon, the Nicely-Nicely’s automated enforcers come through, grabbing Marilith and throwing her at the opposite wall!
Lauraphim uses this opportunity to dive in at Marilith, charging for a solid strike.
Meanwhile, Tierra casts a spiritual weapon at the Hamatula, the spiritual chains flailing at the hellish beast. I use this opportunity to strike, my mace falling heavily with Cuthbert’s wrath. The Hamatula seems to cringe, but my strike is met by spikes, always spikes with this beast, as they seemingly drive into every corner of my being.
As I fall from the battle, my companions carry on, as vigorously as ever. Tiran uses my untimely death as an opportunity to fling a fireball into the melee. The flames singe the devil, but it seems to resist most of the damage. The now five armed demon grabs Lauraphim and strikes hard with all remaining limbs.
Tierra lashes in after the fireball and grazes the Hamatula with her chain hammer. Laura continues her onslaught with two solid hits on the demon.
Meanwhile in the other combat, the Hamatula strikes hard against Tierra, perforating her with many painful barbs. Roark dives in at the last minute screaming, possibly sparing Tierra’s life as the Barbed devil is distracted. The Hamatula reaches out with a hand, sending a searing line of flame towards Roark, but finds Tierra with one ,felling her in a smoldering heap.
At the other side of the tavern, Lauraphim and Marilith are engaged in a brutal grapple, Lauraphim escapes, and strikes at the Demon with angelic eye rays. Lauraphim evades the counter-attack and escapes to the corner of the bar, narrowly avoiding a wall of blades that Marilith had set in place. Marilith, unhappy at the failure of her wall of blades, is jarred from her reflection when one of the bar golems grabs her and tosses her at the far wall of the Nicely-Nicely. Laura reaches out, and mutters a few words, launching lightning bolts from her fingertips toward Marilith. The bolts reach the demon, but have no effect on her demonic essence. Marilith, grinning at her success, charges at Lauraphim, but passes through the angel as she shifts into light form at the last second. Marilith turns around, stunned at not destroying the angel, and is met by two eye rays which turn the chaotic demon into a burning, screaming mess on the floor.
Elsewhere in the Nicely-Nicely the barbed devil licks its lips, approaching Lightson. Lightson, who seemed to pale at the approaching beast, hesitates, before reaching to his belt and releasing some marbles toward the steadily advancing devil. One of the stones strikes the devil in its left eye, and with a shriek, the beast goes down.
Again. The Nicely-Nicely goes wild.