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BQ-91: How Many Soul Coins for a Baby?

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

As Arkhan’s frozen tower defrosts and crumbles, a massive serpentine eye appears in a window.

Zanzibar!” a rumbling voice echoes. The Black Opal Crown on Zanzibar’s head pulsates with a dark, malevolent energy.

“That’s me!” Zanzibar says. The magician feels a deep, angry essence swell within him. A shadowy malice fills his every being, just like he felt before Shamarrah was released.

While Zanzibar talks to his hat, Sleipnir grabs Arkhan’s withered hand and moves for the Ring of Winter.

“You should not move closer to that item!” Zanzibar snatches the Ring of Winter off Arkhan’s hand.

“Ok. What about the rest of his stuff?” Sleipnir asks.

Zanzibar nods.

Caeus toggles detect magic on the HUD of his plate power armor, pinging everything else worth looting.

As the tower shakes again, debris falls from the ceiling, crashing on a plate of fruit. The looters skedaddle with everything they can carry.

Zanzibar puts on the Ring of Winter, and something amazing happens. Clashing sources of power surge through him from the ring and the crown. Zanzibar has never worn both of these magical items at the same time before!

Caeus tries to take the crown off, but his hand phases through it like a shadowy shade.

“Head out!” Sleipnir cries as more debris falls to the ground.

The bridge across the icy moat is broken and crumbling. Sleipnir and Tallest misty step across. Sfiros, Elric, and Caeus leap over the moat. Jeeyan hovers across, and it’s very cool.

You see there’s a joke in there at the end, because it’s all winter-like outside, and being “cool” hints that–

Zanzibar casts misty step across the bridge, but when he casts the spell, he hears a raspy voice say, “Zanzibar! Vessel of shadows and nightmares! Where are you going going going?”

The little words mean there’s an echo!

A faded, shadowy version of Zanzibar remains where he was, and a frigid, ice version appears on the other side. Zanzibar has been shattered into two aspects!

The tower crumbles into the frozen lava pit below, leaving the shadow Zanzibar floating alone.

“Icebar?! Shadowbar?!” Caeus exclaims.

A bundle wrapped in Zanzibar’s cape drops to the ground next to Icebar. Caeus’s detect magic pings that this bundle is definitely magic.

“You dropped something!” Sleipnir shouts helpfully.

Icebar puffs into a cloud of snow and dissipates away.

Shadowbar smiles before vanishing with Dendar into the Great Somewhere Else.

“Let’s get our dragon and get out of here,” Tallest says, but Burney and the other dragon are nowhere to be seen.

Everyone’s gone!

They pile their legitimate salvage into Gond Scavengin’ and flee Arkhan’s thawing wastes.

Sfiros identifies the pile and takes the gauntlets of flaming fury and a +1 maul. He hands Tallest the belt of fire giant’s strength.

“It fits!” Tallest exclaims, loving the stupid dead giant’s power.

Caeus takes off his armor and dons the obsidian flint dragon plate, which magically forms into his new power armor. His old power armor turns back into regular plate, and he shoves it in the bag of holding.

No one can attune to the fane-eater because no one is an evil cleric or paladin (stupid Sfiros and his stupid good guy Gond), so they toss it in the bag of holding.

Last, Sfiros unbundles Zanzibar’s cape and finds a baby that looks a lot like Zanzibar.

“Why do I have a baby?” Sfiros cries. “This is not a mission from Gond. This is parenting.”

“Throw him in the River Styx, and then you can use the Fane-Eater,” Caeus suggests.

Sfiros moves to shield baby Zanzibar from the cruel Brazen Bulls. “No!”

Sleipnir replaces Zanzibar’s cape with a Tzeentch robe, and then puts the cape on himself.

The Brazen Bulls consult the map and drive toward Uldrak’s Grave, the titan who can help free the dao at the Demonzapper. After a lot of vroom-vrooming around, they get there.

“A fallen titan, or a wimp with delusions of grandeur? I’ll leave it for you to decide,” the map laughs.

“What does that mean, map?” Sfiros asks.

“I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map,” the map sings.

In the distance, they see a titan’s helm and sword lie half-buried in the avernian ash.

“Go away,” a pathetic voice whines when they approach the titan sword.

“No!” Sleipnir cries. “We found it! We can try to take it out. That means we’ll be the rulers of hell! Right?”

The sword itself is over a hundred feet tall, so tall that even Tallest couldn’t uproot it from the hellish earth.

“Not that sword, that’s my sword,” the voice pouts. “Or is it my sword? I said it was my sword. No it’s MY sword!”

They find the source of the voice: a whimpering spined devil inside the titan helm. “Who trespasses at Uldrak’s Grave?” he asks.

“We aren’t trespassing, we were invited by the dao,” Tallest says.

“What did the dao say?” the devil asks.

“They said you two were supposed to save each other, and you would know how. And we came to help!” Tallest tries. “Ta-dah!”

“Uldrak can’t save anyone!” the devil whines. “Uldrak’s punished! Uldrak’s cursed!”

“Is that all?” Caeus asks and motions to the cleric. “We’ve got that covered.”

“What’s so special about your curse?” Sfiros asks. “I am good at removing curses.”

“Uldrak quested to the Nine Hells. Uldrak quested down here to slay Tiamat and win glory,” the devil moans.

“Did he do it?” Caeus asks.

The devil shakes his head. “She didn’t kill me. She turned me into this for my impudence.”

“What are you?” Caeus asks.

“I am a servant. I don’t remember who for,” the devil Uldrak says.

“Probably for us,” Caeus remembers.

Caeus remembers wrong.

“Yeah, you’re the Herd’s servant,” Sleipnir says.

Oh okay they’re not wrong. They’re just lying.

“Uldrak served a god,” the spined devil says.

“Was it Gond?” Sfiros asks.

“I don’t remember. But, no,” Uldrak turns turns to Caeus. “NO! Don’t punish me more!”

“What did I do?” Caeus asks.

“His face just looks like that,” Sleipnir says helpfully.

“Arkhan, please, no!” Uldrak cries.

“That’s just his armor,” Sfiros says, noticing that Uldrak is scared at the sight of Arkhan’s armor.

Caeus drops his face plate to reveal a minotaur, not a dragonborn.

“You slew Arkhan?!” Uldrak cries.

“Yeah,” they moo.

“Tiamat’s blood would free me,” Uldrak says. “Arkhan would have it.”

Caeus rummages through the dead paladin’s pockets and finds a reliquary of Tiamat’s blood.

“I was wondering what was so itchy,” Caeus says. “Turns out it was demon god dragon blood. Who needs this? Why? What’s it do?”

“It will free me, and I will free your dao,” Uldrak bargains.

“Sidebar,” Caeus motions to the Brazen Bulls. They pile up for another minotaur-exclusive huddle, but allow special exceptions for up to one motorcycle humanoid, one illithid, and one baby.

“Tallest, what do you think?” Sleipnir asks.

“I think we should give it to him,” Tallest says.

“Obviously, we’re going to give it to him,” Caeus says. “But we need him to think we’re thinking about it.”

“We also need that sword,” Tallest points to the half-buried titan sword.

“Yeah! Throw in the sword!” Caeus pops his head out of the huddle.

“You could not possibly wield it,” Uldrak looks at the sword the size of a whale. “It is ancient and broken.”

“Ok, fine, you can have a little blood,” Caeus hands over the reliquary, and the devil slurps every last drop.

The hunched devil stands upright. His spines shrink into his body. His scales become mottled grey and blue.

The devil opens his yellow eyes to reveal deep, black-green pupils. Uldrak begins to grow. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty feet into the air.

At the end of his transformation, an eighty foot tall titan stands before the Brazen Bulls. Ancient tattoos decorate his limbs, and he smiles a sharp, toothy grin.

“I don’t hear him anymore…” Uldrak says, his voice rumbling. “My master…”

“Who’s his master, again?” Caeus whispers.

“That’s us,” Tallest says.

“We’re down here!” Sleipnir screams.

Uldrak looks far down and says, “You pitiful things are not Guga.”

“Guga left us in charge,” Sleipnir tries.

Uldrak lifts the massive sword and slices his hand. “Give this to the dao. It will free her bonds.” The titan fills the reliquary with his own blood and hands it back to Caeus. “Normally I’d say I’ll see you in hell, but we’re already here.”

Uldrak snaps his hands and disappears with his helm and sword.

It seems for every demigod or friend the Brazen Bulls of the First Regurgitation annihilate, they manage to free or let loose another one. How environmentally conscious of them!

Back at the Demonzapper, they greet the dao.

“Oh dao! We got you something!” Tallest says.

“The titan blood?” the dao in the ground ask. “Pour it on me.”

They make Elric do it. The motorcycle dad drops the titan blood over the dao’s prison, and the stone sublimates to dust.

The dao emerges from the stone prison and finds the Brazen Bulls waiting with their hands out.

“Freedom,” she says. “If you want to overthrow Zariel, the Archduke Bel will help you.” She scribbles on a slab a magical proof Bel’s agents need to give audience with the Archduke.

Elric takes the slab back to the vehicles and says, “That wasn’t too tough,” referring to the quest that took them six whole episodes to complete.

“When you overthrow Zariel, tell her I helped!” the dao says as she disappears.

The team is elated! They can finally go see Bel at the forge, but this time they won’t get their Sleipnir annihilated by a nosey devil who won’t let them just waltz on in because they want to. They load the slab of permission onto their vehicles and speed off.

But on the way…

They catch sight of the Wandering Emporium doing some wandering over yonder, so they pull up into the exhibit to peruse a bit more before going to see the former archduke of Avernus.

Like a family beginning their second day at a theme park, the Brazen Bulls decide to visit all the stalls they didn’t check out on their previous trek. Ichor’s Away is their first stop, where they meet an old wizard with missing ears who has ichor for sale.

“I have demon ichor for sale!” the wizard says, wizardly. “50 gp a dose!”

The mortals have heard of this stuff–you can splash it on yourself and gain some kind of bane or boon–hopefully a boon!

Sfiros splashes the ichor on himself, and his gloved hands elongate into a pair of wicked claws. Heck yeah! Elrich does the same, and he also grows a pair of claws! Who knew that manicures could be so awesome?

While the cleric and the robot swing their claws around, Sfiros takes a dose of demon ichor and sprouts a whiplike tail. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Tallest throws back some ichor and grows five feet!

He’s even taller!

Sort of!

Unfortunately, only one of his legs is this tall, the other one waves sporadically in the air.

Sfiros uses his powers to remove the curse from Tallest, reducing him to his smaller (yet still tallest) form.

Down a couple of stalls is the larvae monger, who nobody wants to visit. The old hobgoblin working the stands eventually approaches them, having heard of their victory against Arkhan.

“I don’t have much,” he says. “But I’ll offer you nine soul coins if you kill Mahadi.”

The minotaurs consider this offer as though they didn’t plan on killing him at one point anyways, but now they can get money for it!

Before they leave for Bel’s Forge, they make a quick deal with Mahadi for a month’s worth of baby formula since none of them have udders. Maybe the robot does, but they don’t want an answer to that question. Ilzabet appears, trades a soul coin for the formula, and the minotaurs are once again off across the wastes.

Once again they find Bel’s Forge looming before them–a massive castle billowing smoke from a volcano. Answering their call this time is no devil, but a powerful, mighty red dragon who lands before them, its fanged mouth sneering.

The dragon brings them through the forge, where the minotaurs are introduced to horrific sights: unfortunate prisoners are corralled into pens and set to backbreaking work by devil overseers, flames light up steam-filled factory floors, and the maniacal laughter of evil monsters echoes in the atmosphere.

Soon, they venture down a wrought iron spiral staircase that descends into a cavernous forge. Channels of bubbling lava wind through the complex, casting fiery light over huge anvils. Chained fire giants with coal-black skin and fiery orange hair hammer out weapons under the malignant gaze of a massive fiend seated in a flying throne. Throughout the forge, sparks fall like rain.

“Welcome, honored guests!” the red fiend chuckles as they enter. “Praise be to Zariel, who now reigns in my stead!”

The red fiend then locks eyes with them, and they hear his voice in their head, <and whose reign shall soon end!>

Bel clearly has a grudge.

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