With the command link for the artillery attached to her ear (it was a pair of linked earrings that let her talk to the artillery commander), Alex headed back to the target incursion zone. Since she'd been able to sneak in before without any trouble, she figured she could probably do it again, right? With Ironhoof and Artican in her pockets for emergencies.
And it worked at first -- but this time when she heard chanting, she called in an artillery strike.
Orcish Artillery: "Antipersonnel, or should we destroy the building?"
Alex: "Destroy the building."
Unfortunately, instead of the massive nuke she expected, 'destroy the building' meant 'use the acid that eats away at stone', which didn't actually do much against people unless they got very unlucky. Plus, it took long enough for the artillery to arrive for the chanters to finish their work, although Alex was out of range this time at least. The building *did* collapse a bit later on.
But the snakes knew they were under attack now, so when the smoke bird spotted her this time (they could see through smoke, so she had no concealment against them, although her camoflauge ring let her at least try to sneak) it screeched to stun her and call its comrades, following up with a stinking cloud and a burst of spores.
It didn't expect her to turn invisible and sneak off again, after making her save against the stinking cloud. This time she called down an antipersonnel strike against the rooftop where the enemies were still searching for her, and heard some satisfying screams.
Since she was still invisible when she reached the center, she decided to scout it out more thoroughly, and found that there were 8 magical pylons arranged in a ring (she'd seen four of them sneaking around the outskirts of the square earlier, but the diagonal ones weren't within sight of the edge) and a well in the middle with a rope ladder leading down. There were also lots and lots of smoke snakes, along with quite a few unusually well-equipped mephits, but only one smoke snake *wizard*, working on one of the pylons.
So she called down an artillery strike, and as it landed, backstabbed the wizard. Then turned invisible and fled again before the surviving horde could catch her. Fortunately, all the mephits close enough to see her appear as she backstabbed were killed by the artillery, and she was away before the ones from further away could glitterdust the area -- apparently they were bards.
She snuck around some more quietly disabling a few of the pylons, then headed back to join up with Lilia again. With the wizard dead and her sabotage in place, it was unlikely a permanent portal was going up soon, but there were still the temporary portals the invasion had come through, which she'd detected as being underground. The obvious entrance to the underground was down the well, but she'd sent some acid and antipersonnel rounds down the well already and wasn't sure how habitable the bottom was. Fortunately, the map she'd been given to target the artillery had a few other entrances to the underground marked. This time she shoved Lilia and the dragonne into a bag of holding, and quickly made her way to one of the entrances inside the smoke snakes' perimeter before letting them out.
They scrambled underground, and Lilia started re-summoning her Eidolon. Just before she finished, however, they were discovered by a pack of mephit bards! The bards boosted each other while firing deadly barrages of sonic touch attacks, and did serious damage to Artican and the Dragonne, but couldn't survive a round against the party's might, especially once Lilia's Eidolon appeared and started tearing them to shreds with cold damage. The last one tried to surrender... to the dragonne. That didn't work.
Obviously, they were in the right place.
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