Other parties interfered. I imagined that an inquiry to eliminate me went a little like this:
Boss: I represent the interests of those who lost loved ones to a Ninja Spy known as Kiricletica. My associates promise their friendship if you would do them a small favor.
Contractors: What's that?
Boss: Ensure that Kiricletica receives the death she is due. --
Attempt 1: Enter Tempest’s Spine on Elite. Easily sneaked by everything up to the iron golem. Dispatched it and the Fire Reaver. The Ice Render appeared, appeared to smile and zapped me instantly cold and dead with a Polar Ray.
Attempt 2: This time, in on Hard difficulty. Boosted my defenses against Ice this time. Entered the Lair of Fire and Ice and traveled up the slope to clear a couple of giants before pulling the Ice Render. One giant laughs and then uses Destruction on me. Kiri apparently didn’t have her Deathblock item equipped. Dead.
Realizing that completing the mountain probably wasn’t going to happen that day, I downshifted to lower difficulty quests I hadn’t completed since I knew they required more character chutzpah than I possessed early on. These didn’t end well, either.
Spies in the House: Elite difficulty. All went quite well until Kiri became one with the second electric floor guarded by the elementals, despite having some Protection from Electricity and Resist Electric buffs to handle one or two hits. Electrocuted.
A Small Problem: Elite difficulty. My first mistake was to sneak by all the animals at the start. They added to the chewing that Brawnpits suffered as we tried to reach the caravan. My healing scrolls were no match for the mobs and the proud giant fell. Alive, but escorted ally dead, leaving me disgraced.
It was then that finally got the hint.
Apparently my personal interests have conflicted with an Inevitable, a construct that doesn’t care for adventurers that cheat death.
He didn’t even have to drop his current mission to punish a Drow vampire that’s seen too many years. The Marut simply hired some inexpensive no-named contractors to off me no matter what quest I attempted.
Dying by myself, I can handle. But disgracing me and my clan by having an innocent on my watch die? This presents a significant and undesirable problem of dishonor to the family business, you see.
So, realizing that the Inevitable would keep serving me death almost everywhere I went that day, I decided, against all rationality, to go to the mattresses.
In The Jungles of Khyber
I’ve been keeping a Hard Bravery Bonus going to keep experience points as strong as I could without committing to suicidal attempts where the Inevitable just wasted his dough. But I try Elite at least once if I’m at least 2 levels up from the quest difficulty.
Attempt 1: I entered in on Elite. I made the fatal error of hanging around in the small room where the scorpions lock you in and try to eat you before you can open the door to the first shrine and the overhead snipers and mages.
You’re still going down, marut. Interfering with my family business was…disrespectful.
Attempt 2: After some shopping to get a Muffled Veneer, slotting it with a Deathblock gem, and then wearing a Resistance +6 cloak, I returned to the Drow cave on Hard difficulty.
This time, I stayed in stealth mode as I entered the scorpion ambush. You’d be surprised how some hidden enemies just don’t activate while you’re in Sneak mode. Now, that ambush door leading to the first shrine is trapped as are several others in this quest, so I quickly pulled the lever and Abundant Stepped away before the trap could hit me. After a quick check of defenses I lept up to the Drow killing perch and removed the resistance there before cutting up the scarrow and scorpions left behind.
With a sigh of relief, I moved on to the room of stilled earth elementals. The Inevitable shouts down that I’m officially in his way, proclaiming that I’ll die like Veil.
I briefly searched my memory for an emote that could show that bastard a non-spell version of the Finger of Death using one of my hand. Honor is everything to a ninja, my friend. You may personify the law, Mr. Marut, but today, I embody the will of revenge.
As the elementals awoke, I used Wave of Despair to neg-level them to make them easier to dispatch. I carefully pulled the last one around the corner and away from the sealed door that would open to reveal a band of Drow I had no intention of fighting.
From here, Kiri went full ninja. There weren’t just patrols of Drow from the elementals to the next shrine near the encampment’s boundary–there were dozens of Drow. An army.
Conservation of Ninjitsu ensured that I moved fast, invisible and unseen through them all, through a long series of cavern corridors, finally ending at a small patrol at a campfire in the hallway adjacent to the shrine. Some throwing stars lured those three Drow to their doom.
The iron key needed to open the sealed door were guarded by two more Drow facing the shrines but not me. I opened the chest and took the key in stealth, without disturbing their contemplation of the shrine’s fine craftsmanship. Good men. They appreciate a few of the finer things. I respect that.
The Marut’s Bodyguards
Out of the frying pan and into the fire as I unlocked the door leading to enemies on the Marut’s payroll. While they themselves aren’t the target, they had to but put down. This wasn’t personal. I know what it means to have a job to do. I’ll just be doing my job better than they will of their own.
Experience told me that at least two beholders guarded the central forked hallway into the mushroom patch where the sealed door and three INT runes awaited.
Out came the Snowstar again to pull the first beholder, punishing it with Ninja Poison. Some quick work with my shortswords ended its life without serious problems. I had to take on the second more directly but it ended nominally as well, with only some of my buffs dispelled.
Two beholders remained, one a red-named guard. Both fell to the Snowstar, thrown fr0m extreme range.
I had recently read an +3 INT tome for Kiri to work on getting Combat Expertise later, so having this Monk use the required 11 INT runes wasn’t a bother.
Moving on, I chose to take out the iron golem and its keeper for a chest but, more importantly, for a better perch for the last of the resistance before I could reach the Marut.
I floated down to stand on the wall above the geyser and used the trusty Ninja Poison-enhanced Snowstar to range whatever stood in the first of three waves of attackers near the final shrine. I had to leap down to activate the last two waves but moved to the nooks and crannies of the area to fight with fewer enemies at a time.
With the way clear, it was time for the dreaded fight against the highest paid mercenaries on the Marut’s payroll. I prepared myself for death; it was, as they say, inevitable. After pulling the lone Drow in their party to dispatch him, I carefully lured the red-named beholder and the troll into the larger path so I could run back to the shrine after death but while keeping those two out of visual range where they’d see me on resurrection and camp the shrine to kill me over and over.
I pulled off half of the beholder’s hit points before expiring. I ran to the resurrection shrine, hiding behind it as I returned to life and built up some ki. Once the death penalty wore off, I pulled the troll successfully into the shrine and ended him. One to go.
I prepped a Touch of Despair finisher with Poisoned Soul activated; if I were to die again, I wanted to DoT that beholder with lots of poison. I sneaked up and started my attack, injecting a massive dose of poison into the beholder using both some Poisoned Darts and the poison finisher, striking as best I could. The beholder spun and evaded but DoTs of 30-40 damage began popping over his head, quickly draining all but the last of its HP. A single sword hit destroyed it.
Now, it’s payback time for all the deaths. All the dishonor. This isn’t business, Marut. Honor is very personal.
It wasn’t a complex fight. I hadn’t any adamantine weapons I remembered at the time (remembering after the fight that my Holy handwraps were adamantine-laced). But I never, ever forget to bring in an Anarchic weapon into this quest. I put on some simple +2 Anarchic handwraps and spoke to Veil.
Normally I’m not into assassinations for personal gain. I left more than several chests behind me, unopened, as part of my work. Today felt a little different.
The Marut was no match for me, and he went down.
My honor of and that of my dojo is restored. When the Inevitable revives in Dolurrh, I’ve arranged to have him wake up with a dead beholder’s head in his bed. Ninjas are typically not so outspoken, you understand. In this case, however, it was important to leave a clear message, no, a promise, that no one could refute.
So, now that the death-curse is off for a time (at least, that’s what I believe, anyway), it’s back to review my plans to eliminate Sor’jek Incanni.