top of page

BQ-96: The Path of Good Steam

Updated: Jan 24


Sfiros finds himself in a creepy doctor’s office. Not for the first time! Dr. Thinster’s weird face is frozen in a horrible smile. Also not the first time!


“I am in some internet bullshit,” Sfiros recites an ancient minotaur saying… also not the first time.



“HELLO, LITTLE ONE,” Brom the titanic minotaur god echoes.


“Greetings,” Sfiros says, regaining his composure. This is Sleipnir-level of internet bullshit, so he braces himself for something truly weird.


"I AM VERY GLAD TO SEE YOU. YOU HAVE DONE QUITE WELL SERVING GOND," Brom says.


“Thanks! I’m pretty devoted, it turns out,” Sfiros says. “Is this another vision quest I’m on?” Sfiros asks. “Last time I had my friends.”


“NO, YOU MADE THE CHOICE WHEN YOU TOOK THE SWORD,” Brom says. “THE HERO WHO BECOMES ONE WITH THIS BLADE EXISTS NO LONGER.”


“Oh. Do I not exist anymore?” Sfiros looks around to see if he exists. It’s inconclusive.


“YOU ARE IN THE AFTERLIFE,” Brom says.


“Oh. I’m dead. Am I dead? Is that what ‘the afterlife’ means? I’m dead? I thought Gond would be here,” Sfiros says, seeing a suspicious lack of Gond for someone who has done quite well serving him. Surely there would be some good steam nearby!


“GOND IS HERE,” Brom says.


“Ok!” Sfiros cheers up a bit.


“YOU SHALL MEET HIM SHORTLY. HE HAS A TASK FOR YOU,” Brom explains. “WHILE THE NEW YOU FINISHES THE WORK IN AVERNUS, THE TRUE YOU SHALL BE WORKING IN GOND'S GREAT FORGES.”


Sfiros pops an afterlife boner so hard he almost comes back to life.


“Fuck yeah!” Sfiros beams. “That’s literally everything I’ve ever wanted.”


“THE PATH THERE IS A BIT COMPLICATED, AS ARE ALL THINGS WHEN SORTING OUT SOULS,” Brom says.


“I’m gonna be real, it was pretty complicated getting here, so I’m not too scared,” Sfiros says.


“ONE OF YOUR ALLIES VISITED ME,” Brom continues. “SHE WAS RETURNED.”


A figure materializes as Elisin, Hellrider of Kinchasa. She looks just like she did when the Herd fought the guards in the town square of Baldur’s Gate.


“SHE WAS WITH ME BRIEFLY, BUT ENOUGH OF HER ESSENCE REMAINS TO HELP YOU,” Brom says. “ALSO…”


A battered Sleipnir materializes next to Elisin. He looks aspiringly brought to death. This is the version of Sleipnir who died beneath the city!


In that case…


“I should have multiple Sleipnirs,” Sfiros points out.


A second battered Sleipnir materializes in Dr. Thinster’s office.


“Hi friends!” Sfiros waves.


“I’m a bit concerned,” Sleipnir 1 says.


Sleipnir 2 is also concerned. “This wheelchair doesn’t move back and forth! The wheels are broken–no, I got it!” Sleipnir 2 rolls around on a spare wheelchair, bumping into walls and running over ghost toes.



“I know all of you guys made it out of here,” Sfiros says. “We are probably somehow outside of spacetime.”


“Then what’s outside these windows?!” Sleipnir 2 gets out of the wheelchair and hurls it at a window of the creepy ghost room.


As the wheelchair is defenestrated in a dreamlike static, the window shatters, opening a path into a Sleipnir-styled dreamroom.


Sfiros peers through a second window and sees a dream version of Caeus’s workshop.


Elisin uses divine sense, and everything everywhere all at once blinds her with divine sensations.


That movie won some awards!


“I’ve got to get out of here!” Elisin cries, running blind into another room. She drops the divine sense and finds Amrich Vamthampur’s corpse on a bed. She finds herself wishing she was in more of a nothing nowhere never at all situation.


Sleipnir 1 walks in behind her, ignores the body, and loots the room. He opens the snack drawer, but it’s filled with raw iron.


“Sfiros! I found this for you!” Sleipnir 1 gives Sfiros some iron. “It might work. Try it!”


“Last time this was a dirty trick!” Sfiros says, remembering the trick and how it was dirty. “Though, the weird godman did say it was going to be complicated.” Sfiros eats the iron.


“Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!” a voice echoes in Sfiros’s mind.


A floating stoking tool appears in the air, pointed at Sfiros. He reaches for the stoking tool, but it moves away.


Everywhere Sfiros moves, the stoking tool follows and points at him. “It’s like a reverse compass!” Sfiros cheers. “It always tells me where I am.”


“Gimme that!” Sleipnir 2 screams. The Chaos-branded sorcerer lunges for the stoking tool, but it moves deftly out of reach. “WHY CAN’T I REACH IT?!”


He lunges again. Sleipnir 2 grabs it, but instead of moving, the floating stoking tool elongates.


“OOH!” Sleipnir 2 runs from room to room to see how long he can make the floating stoking tool. It can get pretty long, stoking to its maximum capacity.


The stoking tool shortens as Sfiros walks to Sleipnir 2’s end.


RING RING!


One of Caeus’s inventions rings on a dreamdesk.


“Ahoy-hoy,” Sfiros answers the phone.


“Tallest!” a voice on the other end sounds like Elder of the Bloomridge Dandies. “There have been some complaints! The police are coming up!”


The phone goes silent, and ghostly shades of Baldur’s Gate guards rush into the rooms.


“Obviously I cast darkness,” the Sleipnirs say, surprisingly not all casting friends.


Through the darkness, the Sleipnirs zap with witch bolts and shocking grasps, and Sfiros’s spirit guardians trample the guards.


Blind and lucky, the memory of the dead paladin Elisin lands a critical hit with Shatterspike, empowered with divine smite. A light of Tyr pierces the sphere of darkness and obliterates the memory of the last guard.


“Nebra?!” The aspiring deathbringer of Khorne materializes in a haze of gore outside the darkness and points its axe at Sfiros. The brutalist’s bizarre head hovers above its body, separated by Dur-Dur-Dur, King of Omu.


The Khornish brutalist from the Vanthampur sewers pummels the cleric with its aura of murder.


The Sleipnirs slip in attacks from the shadows, and Elisin channels the light of Tyr with lay on hands.


All the spirit guardian cows converge into a stampede, coming together to gore the servant of Khorne. The memory enemy statics out of the battle.


The tension leaves the room. Sleipnir 2 drops the darkness, revealing Sleipnir 1 to be very badly injured.


“What happened to you?” Elisin asks.


“If I had a darkness to cast, I would cast it,” Sleipnir 1 whines, angry that he almost got killed by the brutalisk again.


“He’s just whining!” Sleipnir 2 says, running into another room. “What’s over here?!”


Sleipnir 2 opens a filing cabinet, and stacks of parchment papers shoot out and float in the air. Each paper is covered in hundreds of scratched out names and dates.


“I think this is Tallest’s autograph book,” Sleipnir 1 says.


Sleipnir 2 snatches a parchment and reads the date: Seventeen hundred years ago.


“Oh my gosh! These are the best rumors! Nobody’s ever heard any of these!” Sleipnir 2 cries.


Another strange door opens to reveal a hallway. Naturally, Sleipnir 2 runs as fast as he can down the hallway to a room with a huge queue of people from everywhere.


“Can I cut in line? Do you mind? Excuse me. Move!” Sleipnir 2 casts friends at each queueing soul as he barges through the line.


WHISTLE!


“Hey! Whaddya doin’?! Whatcha cuttin’ in line for?!” A little staticky badge whistles at Sleipnir 2.


“They all said that I could,” Sleipnir 2 says.


“We’re very busy right now! It’s very orderly, ya gotta stay in line!” the badge yells.


“Then let me go ahead, and I’ll be out of everyone’s way!” Sleipnir 2 pushes forward.


“Wait a minute! You don’t look quite dead!” The badge says. “We gotta nother NDE. I can’t letcha cut in line. NDEs don’t get to the other side.”


“The other side of what?” Sleipnir 2 asks.


“The other side!” the badge repeats. “Look! I gotta few folks that are tryin’ to dodge their destiny! Put these people back in line, and I’ll tell ya more. Got it?! Capiche?”


Sleipnir 2 acquiesces reluctantly, but quickly gets distracted by a suspicious dwarf.


“Hey, rumor has it, tell me your life story,” Sleipnir 2 whispers to the dwarf.


“I was out mining my own business, and I got down the wrong tunnel. I heard a crash of rocks, and the next thing you know, I’m standing in line here,” the dwarf says.


“Get back in line, go to the other side, and come back and tell me what’s there,” Sleipnir 2 orders.


The dwarf rushes back in line as Elisin wanders into the queueroom.


“Hold up! Its another damn NDE!” the badge yells at Elisin. “You don’t belong here!”


Sleipnir 1 sleepwalks in behind Elisin.


“You again?! How many NDEs did you have?!” the badge screams.


“As many as it takes!” Sleipnir 2 screams back.


“You!” the badge points at Sfiros walking into the queueroom. “Find a place in line!”

“I’m not sure if I’m dead,” Sfiros starts.


“You’re dead!” the badge says. “Your soul is up here. You’re dead.”


Sfiros moves to the end of the queue.


“I know it’s a bit cramped,” the badge apologizes. “It’s not as bad as it was seven years ago!”


“What happened seven years ago?” Sfiros asks.


“Everything just stopped! We didn’t get anyone! For 130 days!” the badge wails. “Then BOOM! They all came in at once! It was a madhouse! The whole place was overflowing! AND ONE SNEAKY BASTARD got away!”


The badge pulls out a picture of McSneakle.


“He’s the only one from the initial onslaught that we haven’t recovered yet!” the badge screams.


“Yep, that tracks. I’ve heard stories about that guy,” Sfiros says.


“You’ve heard of him?! You know how to catch him?!” the badge asks.


“Nope. No one’s ever succeeded,” Sfiros says. “Listen, I’m kind of the main character. Which way is the front of the line?”


“Follow the steam,” the badge says.


Sfiros eagerly follows the steam for several weeks.


Eventually, Sfiros catches McSneakle’s hand in the cleric’s pocket.


Sfiros lifts McSneakle up by his thieving hand, clenched tighter around the stolen object.



“I found him! I found him!” Sfiros says. “That gets a prize? Can I get to the front of the line? I’ve been here for what feels like weeks.”


“I’ll give you a choice!” the badge says. “I’ll let you decide where he goes.”


“What are the options?” Sfiros asks. “I don’t know how things actually work. I’ve just taken it all on faith to this point.”


“Let me get a chart!” The badge leaves and comes back with a guidebook. “All the different planes, all the different varieties of places he could be sent… I don’t care where he goes, as long as he goes somewhere! Usually we audit people’s lifestyles and send them somewhere to match, but I’m tired of this guy’s nonsense!”


The badge lists off a long list of afterlife planes that Sfiros could condemn McSneakle to.


“The Pandemonium one sounds fun. Let’s try that!” Sfiros decides.


“Oh yeah? The Wind-Swept Depths of Pandemonium! That’s where we’ll stick him,” the badge says. “Guess what sneaky man? Ya headin’ out there! It’s gonna be a rough doozy for ya!”


“What kinda place is this?!” McSneakle demands as the badge slaps an unremovable wristband on the thief.


McSneakle clenches even tighter on the stolen object as a door opens to the Wind-Swept Depths of Pandemonium, revealing a plane of madness and great masses of rock riddled with tunnels carved by howling winds. The plane is cold, noisy, and dark.


For once, everyone is paying attention to him.


“The winds quickly extinguish any hope of escape for the creatures banished to this plane,” the badge explains. “Many of them have been driven mad by the incessant winds, or forced to take shelter where the winds die down to resemble the sounds of distant cries of torment. But hey, ya know? Someone’s gotta go there.”


“That sounds like a good place for McSneakle.” Sfiros nods, and the badge tosses McSneakle into the windy plane and closes the door.



This final act of mercy (for us, not McSneakle) grants Sfiros quick access to three possible end paths:


  • The Peaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia

  • The Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanis

  • The Seven Heavens of Mount Celestia


Sfiros senses Gond in the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanis, and he moves toward that path.


<YOU WILL DO WELL, YOUNG ONE> Brom whispers in Sfiros’s head. <MAY YOU KNOW YOUR PEACE. MAY YOU KNOW YOUR PURPOSE. THERE IS STILL MORE FORGING TO BE DONE. A SMITH NEEDS A MUSE. GOND HIMSELF WILL HELP BALANCE THAT WHICH WAS ONCE TIPPED ASIDE.>


An image of a volcanic forge appears down Sfiros’s path. He sees hammers, fire, ores, and smiths. In the distance, he recognizes Bel.


The former archduke raises his eyebrow in sudden enlightenment. There is a task to be completed.


Confident and pious, Sfiros steps down the path to his afterlife.


Gond himself appears, welcoming Sfiros into the world of spiritual guides and smiths.


The Endn’t’ve



45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Bình luận


bottom of page