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Eye of the Beholder

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Tommaso Ciampa (today, Torg the half-orc barbarian, even if Tye thought it was a dumb name) rolls a twenty-sided die. “Twenty-four,” he announces.

“That hits, roll damage. The beholder's on its last legs” Ember Moon says from behind her dungeonmaster’s screen.

He rolls a twelve-sided die.

“Twelve!” Johnny Gargano (Pietro the human paladin) announces. “He rolled a twelve. That’s what we do here: we roll twelves.”

“That’s only a great roll if you’re rolling a d12,” Tye Dillinger (Alethia the elf wizard) says. Asuka (Kai the dragonborn cleric) pages through her player’s guide, ignoring both of them.

“Twelve! Twelve! Twelve!” Johnny chants, flashing ten fingers then two, ten then two, rapidly, an arm around Tommaso’s shoulders.

“Fifteen damage,” Tommaso says over the chattering. “I bury my great axe in its...does a beholder have an ass?”

Ember thinks for a sec. “It’s an alien tentacle monster with eye-stalks in all directions. I have no idea and I don’t want to google that, so let’s just say yes.”

“Then I chop it in the ass,” he says.

Ember nods. “Good, good.” She looks at some notes. “Johnny, you’re next, but you’re still paralyzed. Make your save.”

He rolls. “Twelve,” he says.

“Twelve! Twelve!” says Tye.

“Sorry.”

Asuka pats him on the arm. “Soon,” she says.

“Now it’s the beholder’s turn,” Ember says. She rolls a die. “Sorry Johnny, it’s coming after you again. Make a constitution save against its...death ray,” she says, some hesitation in her voice.

Johnny grabs his d20 and flicks it. He grimaces. “Twelve,” he says.

Ember smiles ruefully. “You take…” She says as she rolls what sound like a huge handful of dice. “Sixty-one necrotic damage.”

“Great, now I’m paralyzed and unconscious,” Johnny says.

She furrows her brow. “Actually...you’re dead. Or rather, Torg, Alethia, and Kai, from where you’re standing, you see Pietro go from paralyzed in place to completely limp. He falls flat on his back with a clank as his armor clatters against the cave floor.”

“No!” Tommaso shouts. Johnny doesn’t say anything, but his eyes get glassy and he presses his lips together. He reaches over and tips the miniature representing his character onto its back.

Ember shrugs. “Tye, I mean, Alethia, it’s your turn. What are you doing.”

Tye gets an intense look on his face. “I smooth my hair back into place. I spit on the ground. ‘You will cease this torment!’ I scream.”

Tommaso still looks stricken. Johnny looks ill.

Tye moves his figure. “I’m going to move 20 feet this way to get out of the anti-magic cone, which avoids an attack of opportunity, and then I cast lightning bolt. No one else is in the line of effect.”

“Hmm. Okay. That’s a reflex save? What’s the DC?”

“You have to roll a 16.”

Ember rolls a die behind her cardboard screen. She laughs. “Twelve,” she says.

Asuka nods and Tye pumps his fist.

“How much am I taking?” Ember asks.

Tye rolls a double-handful of six-sided dice. His eyes go wide. “Forty,” he says.

Ember smiles. “He’s dead,” she says, knocking over the very large miniature representing the monster.

“Lightning crackles around me in a diamond shaped aura,” Tye says. “I walk over to the body and spit on it for good measure.”

“Okay.”

“Are we done? Can I check on Johnny?” Tommaso asks with agitation. He looks over at Johnny like he wants to check on him here too.

“Yeah, we’re off initiative.”

“I run over and take his pulse.”

“...are you trained in Heal?”

“No.”

“Okay. You touch him. He feels dead. That’s about all you know.”

Tommaso grunts.

“I come over,” Asuka says. “I touch him.”

“Definitely dead,” Ember says.

“Do I see the light?” Johnny asks, trying to be light-hearted. “Do I see Pelor?”

“No, don’t go into the light, Pietro, I need you!” Tommaso says frantically. “Ember, I grab him by the armor and shake him.”

Before Ember can respond, Asuka puts a hand up. “Revivify,” she says. “He can come back. I touch his chest.”

Ember nods. “Yes, he’s been dead for less than a minute, so that spell will bring him back to life, if his soul is willing. Okay. Do the rest of you want to help with the ritual?”

“I can nitpick her pronunciation of the incantation,” Tye says.

“So helpful,” Asuka sighs.

“Roll an arcana check,” Ember says.

“...twenty two,” Tye says.

“Okay. Your meddling is helpful this time. Torg, what are you doing?”

“Crying over Pietro’s body,” Tommaso says flatly. Johnny’s face is in his hands.

“Do you say anything?” Ember asks carefully.

“I lean down and whisper to him.”

“What do you whisper?” Ember says.

Tommaso scratches his own beard, feeling like he’s inhabiting the body of his hulking, scarred D&D character today more than usual. “I say, I love you.”

Johnny’s head snaps up. He looks at Tommaso with a startled expression.

“Okay. None of the rest of the party hears that. But when Asu--I mean when Kai puts her hands on Pietro’s chest and chants the incantation, there is a bright flash.” She looks at Johnny. “Does your soul willingly return?”

“Well it does now!” he says.

“You startle awake with Torg an inch from your face. Your eyes flutter open.”

“Pelor, you look just like my best friend,” Johnny says in the dazed voice of his character.

“I kiss him,” Tommaso says decisively.

“Mmph,” Johnny grunts, role-playing. He turns to look at Tommaso like he’s struggling to keep his feelings casual. “I guess I throw my arms around him and hang on.”

“Get a room,” Tye groans. Asuka and Ember just look at each other conspiratorially.

“I mean, technically Alethia could cast Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion and get *everyone* a room,” Ember suggests.

“Or,” Asuka says, eyeing Johnny and Tommaso. “We go. They get this room.”

“I’ll e-mail you your XP totals,” Ember says. She folds up the DM screen hastily and drops a lot of stuff into a plaid backpack. “I have to get to promo class soon anyway. Asuka?”

“Yes, class, me too.”

“See you two later,” Tye says.

Soon enough, the only people left in the performance center cafeteria are Johnny and Tommaso.

“Um,” Johnny says.

“I thought I lost you,” Tommaso says.

Johnny gulps. “Pelor’s mercy is infinite. Except, Kai’s actually a cleric of Bahamut? So I think I owe a favor to a platinum dragon?”

“No dragons,” Tommaso grunts. He turns to face Johnny, looking him deeply in the eyes. “Just me.”

“I never thought I would love a half-orc,” Johnny whispers.

“I’ve never kissed a human before,” Tommaso half-whispers, half-snarls.

“Wanna do it again?” Johnny asks. And without saying anything else, Tommaso pulls him into a deep kiss, a kiss for this world and the other one, a kiss that would give anyone a new lease on life.