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Chapter 5 — Durbuluk
The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"What is so funny?" demanded Leokas.

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."

Szordrin continued to point his wand at their captive. "One more taunt and you will not be left to recall his true name. Now, tell us all that you know about him. Do not try to hide a thing." The tiefling made a motion with his other hand to imply that he was watching the hobgoblin closely.

"I want a guarantee that you will let me live to leave this cavern and return to the Marching Mountains, before I speak," replied Durbuluk.

Kytharrah had seen the others interrogate prisoners before, so he figured he'd try to imitate them. Tapping the bottom of his axe handle on the ground, he snorted, "Talk!"

"By Torm," swore Szordrin, choosing a god who supposedly cared a lot about oaths, "if you give us all the information that we seek, we shall allow you to go free... eventually. If we intended to kill you, we would have done it by now."

Belvin and Leokas stood by defensively, while Hakam and Solisar seemed to be studying the hobgoblin's body language.

After a short pause, Durbuluk finally answered. "His name is Allustairimarinastralmindivu. Most pure-blooded hobgoblins are too stupid to remember something with that many syllables. I do not have such a handicap."

Now that this was revealed to them, it was not too shocking to Hakam. He remembered learning a little known fact that the names Calim and Memnon were also shorted forms of those famous genies' true names.

"As for who he was," continued their prisoner, "I do not know much of anything about his past. He has never told me his true background, but I suspect that he was just someone at the right place at the right time."

Leokas suddenly seemed to recall something and interrupted the current topic with a new question. "Wait! You mentioned the Marching Mountains. Are goblins gathering in force under the Marching Mountains? Are they preparing for an attack?"

"I promised to tell you of the efreeti, not of the Marching Mountains. Nevertheless, I will tell you what you should already know: the goblins are too weak to ever war against the surface world without guidance. Good for nothing but arrow-fodder are they in combat. That is why they needed someone like Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

Hakam uttered a quick prayer, and instantly, everyone felt a strong compulsion to speak only the truth.

Durbuluk smirked. "Your god cannot overcome the power in my blood, human cleric. Save your magics; I intend to speak the truth on my own."

"In that case, I affirm that you will be allowed to return to your home, provided that you answer all of our questions truthfully," said Hakam. "First, you say that you do not know much of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's past." (Szordrin looked at Hakam with shock that he so easily pronounced the name.) "When and how did you come to learn of him? And why did you join him?"

"I was high priest of Nomog-Geaya and chief advisor to Guthash, King Under the Marching Mountains. About this time last year, messengers came to King Guthash through the goblin tunnels from Calimshan. These messengers claimed to have been slaves to owners in Calimshan yet were set free by followers of Allu, a new god of hobgoblins. Seeing as I serve the only true god of hobgoblins, naturally, my ears perked up at this news. They were evangelizing, recruiting for an army with which to retake Calimshan for the goblinoid races."

"Nomog-Geaya?" asked Leokas. "Who is he?"

"Nomog-Geaya is the General, the god of authority and war. He is the true patron of my people."

Leokas was under the impression that Maglubiyet was god of both goblins and hobgoblins, and this was what they had heard some of the other goblins and hobgoblins whom they had encountered say, but he did not sense deceit in Durbuluk's voice, so he let the matter pass.

Szordrin opened his mouth to say something, but then doubted that he would be able to lie with Hakam's spell in effect, so he thought better of it.

Durbuluk continued. "Even though I knew that this new god, 'Allu', must be an imposter, I was intrigued by the message. King Guthash had been planning for years to build an army to unleash on the overworld. Perhaps this Allu could be an ally of sorts. A genie is a powerful adversary or a powerful friend. I advised Guthash to send me as an ambassador, to observe Allu and his schemes.

"I have thus pretended to be a 'priest of Allu', but while he can grant us three wishes a day, which is not a minor thing by any means, he cannot grant spells. I still serve Nomog-Geaya, and Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows this. The other hobgoblins do not. That is all that matters.

"Nomog-Geaya knows that I am faithful to him. As I bide my time, so Nomog-Geaya bides his time for when he will rebel against Maglubiyet."

Belvin, with singed hair and leathers, asked, "I suppose that you attacked us thinking that we are enemies of Allu-stair-into-the-astral-sea-or-whatever. Could we not have come to a peaceful resolution, considering that we earlier freed your kin? Or does that not matter to a hobgoblin?"

"My goal was to flee this place. You were in my path. I know nothing of any kin of mine that you freed; I only saw my opportunity to escape, since the mummies below had been destroyed. You were not goblinoids nor efreet, so you would be no friends of the efreeti, even if you are enemies of his enemies. For all I know, you are simply greedy adventurers. Whoever you are, you made my task easier, and I took advantage of this, as anyone with any intelligence would."

Hakam jumped back in with a question. "Tell us more about these mummies. Was there another mummy with them, one called El Sadhara? She would have been dressed more ornately than the others that we destroyed."

"What her name was I do not know, but there was another, yes, without a veil like the others, extremely thinning hair, terrifying presence. She commanded the undead and elementals of air and slew many of the hobgoblins with a single word, turning them instantly to ash."

"Is she still here somewhere?" asked Leokas.

"She only left just recently."

"Why did she leave?" asked Solisar.

"Someone summoned her back." Durbuluk shrugged. "I do not know why. She left her handmaidens behind."

"What do you know of her designs?" asked Hakam, "Why was did she come here at all?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu, when scouting the desert, had learned of her ancient temple. He discovered that she was seeking to restore the djinni kingdom that once ruled here, one that warred against the efreeti kingdom to the north.

"Her designs were thus completely at odds with Allustairimarinastralmindivu's. He sabotaged her works. Allustairimarinastralmindivu did not expect her to find this hidden palace of his, and he trusted in the 'protection' of the blue dragon lairing 'next door'. But with the dragon gone, she must have seen an opening for her revenge.

"Her forces annihilated us. While I am drastically more powerful than the poor miserable pure-bloods, I am no match for the mummy,... nor was Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"The dragon Yrevkethend is gone?" asked Hakam. "Where did she go?"

Durbuluk shrugged. "She was last seen flying to the northeast, and she has not returned."

"The hobgoblins whom we freed said that she had been absent since the beginning of the year," added Leokas.

Durbuluk nodded in agreement.

"And where are Allustairimarinastralmindivu and his archwizard now?" asked Hakam.

"When he saw that his plans here had failed, miserably, he fled to the Spinning Keep."

Hakam knew that he should be familiar with the term, but he could not place it.

Solisar sensed this and explained, "The Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen is the great prison of the genies Calim and Memnon, created by the High Mage Pharos nearly 9,000 years ago."

"Why would he go to a prison?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk chuckled. "Do you not know the legends of the Calimmemnon Crystal and the Spinning Keep?"

"Clearly I do not," Hakam replied.

"Within Siri'wadjen lies the Calimmemnon Crystal," said Solisar, "in which the entrapped essences of the two noble genies strive ever for freedom. Legends say that anyone touching the gem would obtain the powers of both Calim in Memnon. Other legends say that, if the Crystal were to come into contact with the wind of the desert or the crackle of its dried sands, then the corresponding genie would be freed. Of course, the elves protected the Crystal. No one has ever entered Siri'wadjen or successfully solved its puzzles. In fact, it is impossible even for anyone to pass through the magical field of protection surrounding it."

"Typical of snobbish, arrogant elves, your definition of 'anyone' differs from that of other races," said Durbuluk. "In truth, the protections on the Spinning Keep bar genies, humans, and elves from ever touching the surface of the magical structure, but nothing prevents a hobgoblin or a goblin, like Booyagh, from touching it." Durbuluk gave a truly devilish smile.

Hakam suddenly understood the gravity of Allu's plan and why he was so interested in hobgoblins as a race. "Curse you elves," he said. "Calishites would have protected the prison with better magics!"

"Oh, we shall just go back 9,000 years and fix that then!" said Belvin.

"History has already been written," said Solisar. "We must deal with the present."

"So, Allustairimarinastralmindivu desires the power of the Crystal and needs the hobgoblins to bypass the prison's defenses," said Hakam.

"No, Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows that the power gained from touching the Crystal is only temporary. He wants the permanent power that a fully restored Memnon can grant him. He does not want to simply touch the Crystal; he wants to free the Trapped Terrors within."

"Why would he want to free both genies?" asked Hakam.

"He only wants to free Memnon, of course, but it is likely impossible to free one without the other. His original plan was to have the backing of an army of efreet behind him when the Crystal was removed from the Keep. With the aid of a multitude of genies, surely Calim would immediately be subdued and slain, and Memnon would rule."

"Why release Memnon only to be subjugated by him?" asked Hakam.

"I have always suspected that Allustairimarinastralmindivu is no one of note on the Plane of Fire. He is not noble born. None of his efreeti kin would ever follow him. I think that he believes that if he succeeds at his elaborate plan to restore Memnon to power, then he will be rewarded handsomely or even appointed to higher status among his kind."

"It seems foolish. There is no guarantee that a genie such as Memnon would reward him."

Durbuluk shrugged again.

"What do the hobgoblins get out of all of this again?" asked Leokas.

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ultimate goal is to free Memnon and to restore the kingdom of Memnonnar, but he knows that he needs the help of hobgoblins, and in exchange, he will return to us the hobgoblin portion of the kingdom that was once ours."

"Calimshan was never yours!" protested Hakam.

"Typical Calishite human, seeing your history the way that you want to see it! Travel north to the nation that you humans call Tethyr. To this very day, you will find a gorge with the remains of a massive monolith that my people raised thousands of years ago to the greatness of Nomog-Geaya. How many human nations have monoliths that have persisted for so many ages? Do you think that wandering bandit tribes of hobgoblins could build such a thing? No! We were a kingdom. The lands of Tethyr were fully ours, not those of the Calishites!"

Hakam thought it best to return to the matter at hand rather than argue about ancient history. "Where exactly is the Keep?"

"Southwest of here, a few day's journey on foot. I do not know the exact location, but Allustairimarinastralmindivu had obtained a journal from a gnome adventurer, who claimed to have bypassed the Keep's defenses and entered it. She left a map to the site in the journal as well."

"Was the gnome's name Samber? or Ramseb? or anything like that?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk shook his head. "No, she only signed her name as Stumblesparkle, a typical foolish nickname among those ridiculous people."

"Is this journal and map still here?" asked Solisar.

"It is," Durbuluk replied, "in on of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's storage chambers."

"Beyond the fire traps?" asked Hakam.

"Yes."

"How can they be disabled?"

"They cannot be disabled," said Durbuluk, "but that is not a problem for a fire genie or for a hobgoblin with magical blood like mine."

"I assume that they reset."

"They do."

"Are there other traps?"

"No, but the very walls of the inner chambers are composed of fire, not of stone. You natives of this plane would not fare well."

"Are there other hobgoblins still alive here besides you?" asked Solisar.

"I know not. Remember, I was just trying to escape through the tunnel behind you with my own skin, and now I have lost a good bit of that."

"Did any other hobgoblins go with Allustairimarinastralmindivu?"

"He only took Booyagh with him."

"Why did you not also go?" asked Solisar.

"My talents are not with ancient artifacts and mysteries. I was to remain as long as I could to defend against the undead. Clearly, I failed at that task, as you have now subdued me."

Kytharrah now asked a question. "What do you guard?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's inner sanctum."

"What do you know of Allu's dealings with Samber?" asked Hakam.

"Samber? The same name that you mentioned earlier as a possible name for the gnome? I know nothing of anyone by this name."

"He is a wizard of great power. His was the island where the Allustairimarinastralmindivu first entered our world."

"Ah, the one from whom Allustairimarinastralmindivu stole the gate."

"Stole the gate?" asked Leokas.

"This gate here?" asked Hakam.

"Yes, the gate directly behind you."

"Why would Allu steal a gate to the Plane of Fire?" asked Solisar.

"To lead through an efreeti army for Memnon to lead," said Hakam somberly.

"Yes, exactly," confirmed Durbuluk. "As I said before, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was supremely fortunate to have found an open portal to his plane, and he simply passed through it. He came upon the abode of some powerful wizard with a portal on an isolated island and a band of hobgoblin pirates — with a sailing ship no less. Is it so surprising that he saw this as an opportunity? Everyone knows that to this very day a deep and ancient magic still bars all genies from using their own magic to enter Calimsham or wizards from calling them here. No such magic prevents a portal to the Plane of Fire from operating, however. All Allustairimarinastralmindivu had to do was dismantle the portal and transport it here to Faerûn to rebuild. As you can see behind you, he succeeded."

"Allu told the hobgoblins that the gate would bring warriors from Clangor," said Leokas.

"A lie that appealed to their simple minds more than the truth."

"How is it that Samber has not already located his missing gate and taken it back?" asked Solisar.

"The gate is protected against attempts at scrying. Allustairimarinastralmindivu is not foolish. He knows that the one from whom he stole the gate is a powerful spellcaster who could scry on the gate to find him and teleport here on a whim."

"Why has he not opened the portal yet?" asked Hakam. "Why has the Army of Fire not already come through?

"Because a petty and weak human wizard, a stowaway on Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ship, stole the key."

The party knew that this "petty" wizard was Malick of Darromar, the very one who had set this whole adventure in motion by hiring Leokas many months ago, but they tried hard not to let on to Durbuluk that they knew this or, worse, that they had the very key on one of their persons.

"Is the army waiting on the other side now?" asked Hakam.

"I do not know; I only know that until this mummy attacked us, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was still searching for the lost key. It was a major missing component to his plan. With the loss of the key and now the destruction of his army, the efreet's last chance is to free Memnon earlier than he had willed."

"Is there a way to destroy the portal?"

"I do not know that either. Booyagh might."

"Should we destroy the portal?" asked Belvin.

"There is no need for the portal to be destroyed if the key is still missing," said Solisar.

Kytharrah was growing noticeably bored of the interrogation by now and was scratching at his itching, rotting flesh, causing more fur to fall out.

"Are you satisfied yet," asked Durbuluk, "or do you have further questions?"

"Does the path behind us lead out of the caverns?" asked Solisar.

"It does, to the desert sands."

"How do Allustairimarinastralmindivu's magic bottles work?" asked Hakam. "Is he actually summoned when someone opens the bottle, or do we merely view an image of him?"

Durbuluk seemed thoughtful. "How would you know about these bottles?"

"We found one in the past and foolishly opened it."

"You. You are the ones who have the key. He has searched for so long, and had he only waited, you would have come to him!"

"Were it the case that we had the key," threatened Hakam, "we would have to eliminate anyone who might inform Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"Now, now," said Durbuluk, "your so-called worshiper of Torm here already gave me a promise."

"Our agreement with you says nothing about finding you again after we let you go."

"After you let me go," said the half-fiend, "you will never find me again. I assure you."

"Nevertheless, you will tell us about the bottles."

"Unlike the bottles crafted by your own people to entrap efreet for their own purposes, these bottles summon Allustairimarinastralmindivu himself for a short time, after which he returns from where he came."

"If one were to open a bottle and then destroy it before that time had passed, what would happen?"

"I have no idea," said Durbuluk.

"Does Allustairimarinastralmindivu have any weaknesses? Or are there any means we could use to bargain with him?"

"You could offer him the gem key." Durbuluk smiled, but then he continued. "If that fails, you could use ice magic, which tends to work well on fire creatures. To be honest, I have never considered attacking him, so I do not know. It seems a foolish thought."

"Bored, bored, bored," complained Kytharrah.

"The fire traps in the chamber below," said Hakam, "what triggers them?"

"They only trigger for non-hobgoblins," Durbuluk replied, "and they only trigger moving away from the center of the four columns."

"So the way into the inner chambers are blocked? Is there any other way in?"

"That tunnel is the only way in. Are we finished here? Are you not yet satisfied? I have told you everything."

"To satisfy us and our agreed-upon conditions, you must tell us everything written in the gnome's journal."

"What? Absurd! I cannot read the language that the journal is written in, and even if I could, do you truly expect me to have memorized it?"

"Can you at least recall the map?"

"Not well enough to draw a copy for you. I only saw it once."

"Then you must retrieve it for us," said Hakam.

"That does not seem to me part of our agreement."

"You agreed to answer all of our questions, and we are questioning you about information found in a document that you clearly have access to. In any human court, this argument would be upheld."

"Perhaps in a human court," said Durbuluk.

"That is the only court that matters at the moment," said Hakam.

"Stay here, and I shall retrieve the the book for you."

"And risk you escaping?" said Leokas.

"We will escort you as far as to the fire traps below," said Hakam.

"So be it. That is only fair," answered the fiendish hobgoblin. "Lead the way."
Session: 99th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Interlude: Kiira
~ seventh-day, 27th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, evening
River Rauvin, southeast of Silverymoon


"What in the Nine are you wearing on your forehead?" Szordrin stared at Hakam as he joined the rest of the group. They were all standing around Solisar as he read from a scroll purchased from Xara Tantlor.

   "It does look silly," said Ilthian with a slight giggle.

   "It is a phylactery," said Hakam, as if everyone would understand.

   "Did you become a lich now?" asked Szordrin. "As if being a lawyer were not bad enough!"

   "He asked me to purchase one for him from the temple of the Triad," Leokas explained. "I do not know its purpose."

   "Did you buy me a head-box too?" asked Kytharrah, with a hopeful tone.

   "You already have a flying rock, big brother," said Ilthian. "That is much better than a phallic berry, whatever that is."

   Szordrin snorted to hold back his laugh. "Yes, much better," he said.

   Solisar also cracked a smile but managed to maintain his concentration.

   "Do not disturb him, Ilthian!" said Belvin. "It may ruin the spell."

   "Phylactery," Hakam repeated slowly, emphasizing the T. "Priests of various religions wear them as a visible sign of their faithfulness to their deity. This particular one is magical. It will ensure that no mistakes like the matter with the werewolves are made again."

   "Can I have a head-box?" asked Kytharrah again.

   "Solisar bought you an even better present," said Ilthian. "Remember, it is a silver color you can put on your axe, in case we fight any devils again."

   It had been nearly five minutes that Solisar had been reading the arcane words from the scroll. Then he set the scroll down on the deck and picked up a few tiny items that he had placed there ahead of time, all the while still repeating key magic words. He stuffed a wad of cotton in each of his pointed ears. Then he overlaid a piece of dark glass with a thin lead sheet. Holding these in his left hand, he began to walk slowly around near the walls of the vessel and sprinkled powdered, chrysolite from his right hand. The cursive characters on the scroll glowed as Solisar continued his preparatory walk. When he finished marking a powdered, green border on the first deck, he took the wooden stairs to the deck below and continued his task.

   When Solisar departed, Hakam clutched his holy symbol, calmed himself, and prepared to pray for the power to send a message to the Prince of Jhothûn.

   Solisar came back up the stairs, still casting, and then connected the trail of powder. He then held the sheet with the glass in front of him and completed the final words of power. For a quick instant, all around them, everywhere that Solisar had placed the powder, walls of iron and opaque glass appeared to their eyes and then faded from existence. The powder was gone, as were the lead sheet and glass in Solisar's hands and the cotton in his ears.

   "How do we know if it worked?" asked Leokas.

   "Come above deck and see," said Solisar.

   All of them, except for Hakam, who was now deep in prayer, climbed the stairs to stand below the starry night sky. Solisar pointed at the cargo grate. They knew that the deck below was lit by Kytharrah's everburning torch, but all they could see through the grate now was a black, foggy mass. Nor could they hear the sound of Hakam's praying.

   Satisfied that their plan to protect their new spelljammer from either magical scrying or mundane spying was working thus far, they went again below deck to wait for Hakam to finish his role in their plan.

   Suddenly, Hakam ceased speaking in Alzhedo and switched to Common. "Prince of Jhothûn, I wish that the effects of the spell of protection just now cast by Solisar upon this sailing vessel would last forever."

   "Did he respond?" asked Belvin.

   "We are protected," said Hakam. "Our second wish is granted. No one will be able to watch us anymore."

~~~~

An hour later they were on their way due south through the sky, powered by magic drained from Leokas. No longer were they trying to follow landmarks from above; they simply wanted to reach the coast so that they could follow it south all the way to Calimshan, to Teshburl, where they had agreed to travel next. Solisar and Leokas had assured them that Silverymoon was well west of Calimshan, for the western edge of the continent of Faerûn was roughly diagonal, especially in the north.

   While Belvin remained above deck as a watch, the rest sat on the floor in a circle and discussed the things that Szordrin and Solisar had learned from their research in Silverymoon. Szordrin had found a document from the court of Tethyr by Count Gamalon Idogyr, a report to the queen about the Rock of Bral. Count Gamalon supposedly had lived on the Rock for many years. The report, which was only two years old, was a helpful overview of what they might expect when they were to visit the asteroid city.

   "Gamalon was the name of one of those two paladins who were briefly with us in Tethyr," said Szordrin, "but I do not think he was secretly a count. The last name sounds familiar though, but I cannot place it."

   "His surname was different," agreed Hakam, "but we do know an Idogyr. Oddly enough, that was the surname of Sir Gamalon's partner, Rhinda, the woman taken by the gnolls in Tethyr. Gamalon may simply be a common name in that country. I suppose that I could send a message to Rhinda to ask her how she is related to the count."

   "We have had no contact with her since her abduction," said Leokas. "While we know she was rescued by the king of Tethyr's people, we were told that she did not fare well from the ordeal."

   "What did you discover, Solisar?" asked Szordrin. "You were late meeting us on the Moonbridge. What took you so long?"

   "I was nearly overwhelmed by the wealth of information available to me in Everdusk Hall," replied the gold elf. "We — I tracked down the last known locations of each of eleven tel'kiira, the greater lore stones of Myth Drannor. I sought this information out because of the evidence that Szordrin and I found, during our time in Thultanthar, that Samber had been reading in the library there about their creation."

   "What is a tel'kiira?" asked Ilthian. She was now able to sit with the others during such discussions, since their new magical sanctum protected them from magical eavesdropping. "And what is Myth Drannor?"

   "Myth Drannor was once a beautiful elven city in the forest of Cormanthor, which is now part of the Dalelands east of Anauroch," Solisar explained. "While an elven city, it was known as the City of Love and the City of Song, a place where all races were welcome, where dwarves and elves and humans alike all lived in harmony. It fell nearly 700 years ago to an army of yugoloths in the Year of Doom. Silverymoon is the closest place left to it on Toril, and indeed, many refugees from Myth Drannor settled in what would become Silverymoon. As for Myth Drannor, it remains a haunt of evil to this day."

   "Yugoloths?" asked Ilthian.

   "Fiends, purely evil creatures from the Blood Rift," said Solisar. "They are akin to the devils, such as Tosvin, or to the demons, which, thankfully, we have not encountered in our times together."

   "But the tel'kiira?" asked Hakam.

   "Yes, the tel'kiira were the greatest of the kiira. A kiira is a tiny gemstone that one can magically affix to one's forehead. Depending on the particular kind of kiira, this grants the wearer powers of memory enhancement. For example, a lesser kiira can store a number of images that one sees for later recollection. They are popular among mages as an alternative to recording spells into spellbooks. Using a kiira is like seeing a perfect, realistic drawing — in color — of a past thing seen, as clearly as if one was seeing it again with his or her own eyes."

   "Is not that how all memories are?" asked Ilthian.

   "No," said Szordrin. "Is that how your memory works?"

   Ilthian nodded.

   "Fascinating," said Solisar. "I am not surprised, Ilthian, considering your superb aptitude for learning, but no, most of us remember things as a blurry representation of what we saw clearly with our eyes."

   "But the tel'kiira?" asked Hakam again. "How are they different from these so-called 'lesser' kiira that you describe?"

   "The tel'kiira are greater kiira, or true kiira, if you are an elf, for they go beyond just the storing of a limited number of memories and allow one to store nearly all of the memories of one's entire lifetime! Such high magic was created by the elves, and only an elf could ever wear a true kiira. The combined memories of thousands of years would overwhelm other races. The tel'kiira were passed down from generation to generation among the elves of the noble Elven Houses. They were a sign of status, but more than that, they were a means of great power, for each noble wore on his or her forehead a means of accessing the memories and knowledge of all of his or her ancestors!

   "Consider what this means," Solisar continued. "In many ways, an individual like you or I is the sum of all of his or her memories. For this reason, some claimed that kiira were indeed the stored souls of their wearers. Some said that the kiira were even partially sentient, that the dead elven nobles lived on in the tel'kiira and could sway the current wearer to their combined wills. So you see, while immensely powerful items, they were also very dangerous. Only the most powerful of mind could hope to wear such a gemstone without being driven insane or rendered mindless by the overwhelming knowledge."

   "Are you thinking that Samber was seeking a way of cheating death, by storing his mind in such a stone?" Szordrin asked.

   "Indeed, that was my thought," said Solisar. "However, Samber is not an elf; he must know that he could never wear a true kiira. More likely, he hopes to make something similar to a kiira. Other non-elves have tried such things and failed. One famous tale tells of a half-elven wizard named Vhyridaan, who tried to teach himself high elven magic and to create a kiira. He was absorbed into the stone both mind and body, the legends say. The result was a sort of intelligent ioun stone, which played into other tales about the fall of Myth Drannor.

   "I think that Samber is wise enough to know of the cost of such failures," continued Solisar. "I discovered, however, a kind of kiira more powerful than a lesser kiira but not as powerful as a greater kiira. These are the kiira N'Vaelahr. The N'Vaelahr were the Shadow Soldiers, the secret service of the army of Myth Drannor. The kiira worn by the N'Vaelahr — and there were only two dozen in number made, according to the histories — also allowed for mental communication. Moreover, it is rumored that the powerful human wizard Khelben Arunsun of Waterdeep has one of the stones or something very similar to it, yet he lives — and in his right mind. Granted, he is also said to be one of the Chosen of your goddess of magic, but it shows that it might be possible for other races to wear at least something very similar to a kiira, if not an actual kiira, after all. If Samber were to find one of these 24 lore stones, he might be able to adapt it to his purposes. Thankfully for us, few ever succeed in entering Myth Drannor and escaping with their lives — the place still swarms with fiends and undead."

   "And we know that he is imprisoned for the time being," said Leokas.

   "While this knowledge is intriguing," said Hakam, "I do not think it changes our course of action. We have no reason to visit Myth Drannor ourselves: Samber is not free, as Leokas noted, and we still have leads to follow in Teshburl, Lantan, and the Rock of Bral."

   There was a loud crash from elsewhere in the ship. "Someone better check on the lunk," said Szordrin. "We probably left him alone for too long."
Session: 92nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 19 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — Tavis Burdun
~ ninth-day, 19th of Uktar, The Year of Wild Magic, evening
The Weary Giant Inn and Orphanage


After a day of shopping for new gear and supplies in the town of Hartwick, over the western bridge, the party had taken the ferry over the Clear Whirl (avoiding the floes of ice) and trekked back over Coggin's Rise to Stagwick, where they were now staying once again at the Weary Giant Inn. They had thought it best to wait in Stagwick, having asked that Livia, the keeper of the inn, might send a message to her friend Tavis, the queen's husband, to speak with him. She was willing to introduce them to Tavis, but she did not know how she, a simple peasant, might get a message through to the royal castle. She had suggested that Tavis might visit sometime, as he was fond of doing so. Without any other options, the group stayed at the inn and helped with the chores.

   Belvin, for his part, had not been satisfied with the stories that they were being told by those such as the queen or Basil the runecaster, or rather, he was not satisfied with what they were neglecting to tell. "When we were on Mount Woe, I spoke with the birds," he had told his companions. "They told me that three migrations ago, the birds went with the giants when the biggest giant of all called them. There was a baby in a tower with its mother. There was a great battle, and many birds died when they flew in the faces of the bad people who were trying to kill the giants and were struck down. Three of the giants died also. The giants, who were always sad, were even more sad. The old giant leader was the saddest of all the giants. Not even the birds could bring him comfort any more. He stayed in the garden and played sad music. Sometimes the birds sang along with him."

   "Was this the giant we passed in the garden?" they had asked him. "Why did you not tell us?"

   "I did not need to tell you! I went and spoke to him myself. He was Anastes, the former paramount. He spoke with Hartkiller's descendant, the human queen. He was the only one of the six summoned giants who saw her child. He said that the child was ugly, even for a human, and hideously deformed, looking like an ettin or ogre."

   They had discussed what this might mean. Had Brianna been raped by an ogre when she had been taken? Was Galgadayle's prophecy indeed true? Had the High Priest Simon lied? Had the queen really had twins? Was the ugly one protected in the castle? Was the other twin in hiding elsewhere? Perhaps within this very orphanage? Or did the prince have a dual nature? Was Camden, in fact, the true heir of Ottar?

   So Belvin had used fire to melt himself a pool of water. After calling upon the power of his dwarven jungle god in an hour of rhythmic chanting, he commanded the pool to show him Camden. In the rippling water, he saw the image of an old man, dressed in rags, with a mug in his hands, and hunched over. He watched the man for a long time, but he only ever got up to acquire more ale from a barkeep. He spoke with no one. Wherever King Camden now was, he was reduced to a lonely drunk. Belvin invested another hour to prayer and also tried scrying on the queen's son, but the pool remained empty.

~~~~

It was the very next morning, the last day of the second tenday of Uktar. Solisar had been the first to rise, as was typical, since his magic ring required even less rest than a typical elf. He spent the early morning studying an assortment of new scrolls he had purchased and deciding in which order he might add them to his spell book. Then he decided to head downstairs for breakfast to see if anyone else was awake.

   The dining area was mostly empty, except for a few of the older children sweeping and a single figure sitting at one of the tables. He was a burly giant of a man, broad-shouldered and taller than Solisar while sitting. His bare arms were almost bursting with muscles. He looked middle-aged, but his hair was completely gray. It was swept back and wavy and hung to just above his shoulders. He had a full beard of medium thickness. A large, bronze medallion with a knotted design was hanging from his thick neck and a heavy, warm cloak hung over his shoulders.

   The man was looking directly at Solisar as he approached, from head to toe. He seemed to spot Solisar's magic boots, and commented to himself, "Ah, Boots of the Winterlands! That explains why I never saw the tracks of a gold elf among them."

   "I am Solisar Keryth," said the elf. "Is it correct to assume that you are Tavis Burdun? Well met."

   "Alae," said the firbolg. "Indeed, I am! Equally well met. I suspect that we have much about which to talk."

   "I agree," said Solisar, "but I think it may be best that I be joined by my companions first."

   "Make sure to call in the wild-looking one who is sleeping in the stable with the desert mounts — strange prints those beasts leave!"

   "I shall do so," said Solisar, and he turned to go back up the stairs to the rooms.

   "There is no rush," said Tavis, standing up to his full height and banging his head on the ceiling, which he simply ignored. "Let them wake to the smell of breakfast! I miss the mornings when I fried eggs here in the kitchen for the children. Would you and your friends want venison with your eggs?"

   "That sounds delightful," said the sun elf, "but one of us does not eat meat."

   "That is his loss then!" said Tavis.

   "Tavis!" squealed a little orphan girl with glee, having just come down the stairs.

   "Ami!" said Tavis.

   She ran over to him and jumped onto his forearm, which was thick enough and strong enough to support her tiny frame. He lifted her into the air as one might raise a parrot or falcon, and he rubbed noses with her affectionately.

   As the smells of breakfast spread through the inn, more and more of the children — and the adventurers too — entered the main room and greeted the firbolg. He was soon surrounded by the children and took care to greet and to speak with each one. So it was that the adventurers were not able to ask him any questions until an hour later, after a hearty breakfast and jolly discussion about happenings in Stagwick with all of the children, young and old.

   Finally, Tavis politely dismissed the orphans, with the exception of Livia, who cleared their plates. "I have heard of you adventurers from my wife," he said, as the last little feet ran up the stairs. "I shall be honest and tell you that she has no trust of you, but she is quicker to make judgments than I. I have come to find that covers do not always reveal what is within a book. (Take Basil, for example!) She is, understandably, nervous about matters related to our son. I, however, cannot deny the strange manner of his birth, and while I know that Annam had no part in Lanaxis' schemes, this does not mean that Annam has no plans at all for the boy.

   "Before I continue, though, I want to hear your tale with my own ears. Why should we trust your story? I caution you that, though I cannot lie myself, it does not mean that I cannot recognize lies in others!"

   So the party told Tavis the story of how they had been exiled by a powerful magic user and how, in their quest to get back to their homes, had fallen into service with a powerful genie from ancient Jhothûn. They kept no secrets from him in regards to the genie's quest, but they did not explicitly tell him the location of the portal in the High Ice. (Had any of them tried, Leokas would not have allowed it, being still bound by the power of the genie's magic to protect it.)

   "There is a magic throne in the main citadel," said Hakam. "It recognizes only the rightful heir of Ottar Annamson. All we ask is for the queen or her son to sit upon it. Indeed, we are asking a great commitment of you, but certainly, the power and riches that could await your son — is it not worth it to try? Please pardon any offense, but your country is isolated and poor, compared to the countries of the south. With also a genie at his command, think what Hartsvale could become."

   "The boy is not even four years old!" said Tavis, "but I admit that I am both fascinated and satisfied by your words. Basil knows far more about the history of the giant races than do I, but it is hard to deny that the Celestial Children of Annam are at work in this. Take another swig of your elderberry wine. What I am about to tell you may be hard to believe — I am baffled by it myself — but I am sure you have heard how hard it is for a firbolg to lie."

   "Yes, you yourself told us so, a minute ago," said Belvin.

   "Ignore him," said Hakam. "His people skills are somewhat lacking."

   Tavis did not seem phased by the interruption. "By some miracle, Kaedlaw, my son, has two fathers." He let the statement hang in the air for a moment before continuing. "You have spoken to Basil, I know. I expect that he was happy to share the story of our victory over the Twilight Spirit but reluctant to speak of the birth of the boy, or else he sneakily avoided the topic altogether and talked of other things. My wife rarely speaks of it, for she feels guilt in the matter, but she was a victim and is without fault in my eyes.

   "After Basil, Avner, and I first retrieved Brianna — mind you, it was she who decapitated Goboka, not we — we returned together and deposed King Camden. Brianna was now queen, and custom demanded that she take a husband from among the noble humans of the land. We were in love, but a queen sometimes must choose honor over love, or so we believed. As painful as this was to both of us, I understood that I could never marry her. She had accepted that she would take a political marriage without love for the good of the kingdom.

   "So she did not waste time in beginning to see suitors, some from among the nobles of our own land, and some from foreign lands. An attractive man arrived, Prince Arlien. I do not even remember from where he claimed to hail. I had accepted that Brianna would have to marry another, but I also believed that she would not love him. To my horror, she began to show obvious signs of attraction to this man, and it quickly appeared that she would choose him as her husband and consort.

   "In reality, Arlien was Arno and Julien, the two beings in one body of the first ettin, a direct son of Annam and the youngest of his terrestrial children besides Hartkiller. The Twilight Spirit had not given up; having failed at breeding Brianna the first time, he now tried a more subtle approach. He used his magical arts to disguise the ettin, and beyond this, Arlien drugged Brianna and took her to bed.

   "I was too late to discover the treachery and stop it. Brianna, having been freed of the spell, and I did together slay each head of the giant, but the deed was done.

   "Brianna decided then that 'tradition be damned;' she was queen and she would 'marry whomever the Hells she wanted to.' We were married before a tenday had passed. Because our marriage was consummated so quickly after she was raped, I did not know who the father was when she announced a month later that she was pregnant. She, however, had convinced herself that I was the father and would hear nothing to the contrary.

   "It was not long before the seer of the Meadowhome clan of firbolgs, Galgadayle, arrived with his portent that Brianna would bear twins, one fair and one ugly, and that the ugly one would bring the downfall of the races of the valley. Brianna immediately sought the High Priest of Stronmaus, Simon, who assured her by his prayers and magic that only one child was in her womb. Again, she believed Simon, but I was hesitant. First, Galgadayle had never been wrong before, and second, I trusted a firbolg's word over that of a human's, especially one as arrogant as Simon.

   "Firbolg pregnancies are much longer than human ones, so I was not surprised when Brianna remained with child for first one and then two years, but as each month of the third year passed, my anxiety grew stronger. No firbolg or human child grew for so long in the womb, and never have a seen so large a belly on a human woman. Brianna could barely walk lest she fall over!

   "In the Year of the Gauntlet, the queen was at one of Earl Wynn's new mines in the Gorge of the Silver Wyrm to dedicate and bless it, when fire giants attacked us. We were separated in the fighting, and while my wife was hiding within one of the mines, Avner, who was like a son to us, helped her deliver the child. So big he was, that Avner had to cut him out of her belly. (Thankfully, my wife is also a priest of a goddess of healing!) As she nursed her son, she saw a handsome, although enormous, boy that looked like me, and she even named him 'Handsome' in the firbolg tongue. But Avner saw a hideous monster of a child, deformed, ugly,... and ettin-like, like Arno, the uglier of the ettin's two heads.

   "When I found them again, I too saw an impressively ugly face. It soon became apparent that the child appeared at first as one expected him to look. To the firbolgs he appeared as a monster; only to Brianna and Avner did the boy appear handsome — and for Avner only after he tried hard to see him that way.

   "Basil suspected that Galgadayle's prophecy was in one sense true — as an ettin was two beings in one body, so Brianna's son was two beings in one body, my son and the ettin's son.

   "Lanaxis' arrival spared us deciding how to respond to this. Instead, we found ourselves in pursuit of the great titan. Surely, Basil shared this part of the story with you?

   "Basil talked me into trying to obtain the Sky Cleaver, and his brilliant scholarship led us to it. I did not expect how heavy a burden the axe would be to carry. It drained me of my moratlity while at the same time granting me invulnerability, yet I see no other way that we could have bested Lanaxis.

   "Best him we did, and when I at last was reunited with my wife and the child, I had to decide what to do. The Sky Cleaver, we had been discovering, could cleave more than just physical things. It could 'cut to the heart' of any matter. I thus used its power to 'cleave' Kaedlaw's enchantment. There, in Brianna's arms, was now a boy neither overly handsome nor exceptionally ugly, just rather normal-looking, with clear features both from me and from the ettin. Basil saw this as a sign that his destiny would depend on how he was raised.

   "So that is my strange tale. As hard as it is to fathom, Basil and I believe that Kaedlaw carries the blood of Annam through Hartkiller and Brianna and through the ettin and carries the blood of Othea through the same and through me, a firbolg. After so many millennia of rejection from the All-Father, I wonder if this supernatural conception is a sign of his adoption, as it were, of the giant-kin races. Is it a show of forgiveness to his now-dead spouse?"

   "What can you tell us of your own lineage?" one of them asked him.

   "I was an orphan," said Tavis, "born under a red moon, as my people say, which is to mean that my mother died giving me birth. My people are very sensitive to omens and signs, and to be born under a red moon is to be cursed. I was expelled from my clan and raised among humans by the kindest woman I have ever met, Isa Wirr, here at this very orphanage. She was a mother to me, and she passed this place onto me at her death. I do not even know my father or my mother's names."

   Then Solisar spoke up. "Having heard your story, I am now convinced that your child will be able to sit on the throne of Jhothûn. Yet we are not the ones in need of convincing. Is there anything else that we can do to prove ourselves and our purpose to the queen, your wife?"

   "Let me return to the castle and try to reason with her," said Tavis. "Wait here until I return again. Brianna wants our son to grow up as a normal boy, but even after he was freed of his 'condition', he cannot be called 'normal'. At three-years-old, Kaedlaw is almost as tall as some of you! If Annam has chosen him, if Stronmaus has led you here, why should we fight against their will? If Kaedlaw is to go with you, I would accompany you. While I trust you more than does my wife, I still care about my son's safety. He is my boy too, after all! How far is this throne?"

   "We would travel there by a hidden portal," said Solisar.

   "We cannot tell you its location," said Leokas, "but I estimate that the portal is 300 or 400 miles from here, as the crow flies."

   "Yet we are not crows," said Tavis, "and winter is here...."

   "You said that the Sky Cleaver can cleave non-physical things," said Belvin. "Can it cleave distances, make our journey shorter?"

   "I suspect that it could," said Tavis, "but I no longer have it. I gave it back."

   "Gave it back?" asked Cassiera. "To whom?"

   "To Annam," said Tavis. "The blade was never meant for mortals. Look what it did to Basil, who only held it for a few minutes.

   "I was able to wield the blade for a time, yes; however, Lanaxis had more of a right to the axe than I, being a direct son of the All-Father, and he tried to recite the words of binding to take it from me by the strength of his will and rage. Knowing that I had no hope to resist his power, I took a chance that the power of mercy might outweigh the power of hate. With my final swing before he completed the ritual words to draw the weapon from my hands, I used Sky Cleaver to reveal the truth to Lanaxis rather than strike him down. Instantly, we were both transported — whether in our bodies or just within a vision, I do not know — to Annam's presence. Lanaxis pleaded with his father, but the god expelled him a last time from his presence, claiming that Lanaxis' plans were never a part of his will, that the voices in the titan's head were those of madness, not of divine guidance. Lanaxis was cursed to be a mortal, and the last I saw of him, he flew far to the west in his shadowroc form. I then offered the axe back to Annam, who took it from me. The next thing I know, I woke up on the ground with Basil, Brianna, and Galgadayle around me. When I had finally faced Lanaxis, I had looked worse off than Basil does now — nearly transparent I was — but after I gave the axe back to Annam, he restored my flesh. Only my gray hair still shows sign that I once carried the weapon."
Session: 85th Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 01 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — Basil of Lyndusfarne
~ eighth-day, 18th of Uktar, The Year of Wild Magic, evening
Castle Hartwick


Solisar sat in the library of Castle Hartwick, waiting for the chief librarian, Basil to arrive. As he waited, he was perusing some tomes on magic, hoping to find any more information on kiira, but the the books were heavily focused on runecasting. He had given up on finding anything and was now looking through A Full History of the Dobbins of Stagwick, by Neville Dobbin, 35th Earl of Stagwick.

   A very tall, hunchbacked figure entered the room. "Solisar, I presume," said a cheerful voice.

   Solisar looked up to see a hideous giant of a man. He should have been about nine feet tall, but his hunch brought him down to seven feet. His features were shriveled and deformed, and his skin was almost transparent; one could see all his blood vessels and bones.

   The elf stood up from his chair. "Yes, I am Solisar Keryth of Evermeet, Island of the Elves, a scholar of Jotunbrud history. You must be Basil? Am du paart."

   "Am du paart. Yes, I am Basil. Basil of Lyndusfarne, runecaster and chief librarian. Strange it is that an elf would take interest in the history of the sons of Othea."

   "My people saw a great threat rising far to the northeast," said Solisar, "a powerful hierophant of the human goddess of winter. We learned that she was seeking ancient giant relics buried under the ice. I have dedicated many years to learning her plans, and it has taken me deep within what records we had of your people. Granted, our records are not as complete as I would have liked."

   "If you want to know the true history of giants," said Basil, "you have come to the right verbeeg!"

   "Pardon my asking it, but are verbeegs known for their runecasting?"

   "If you mean to ask, 'Are not verbeegs known as rogues and thieves?' I would answer yes, but are not elves known for thinking their histories the only ones worth studying?" These questions were asked with a smirk on his shriveled, ugly face. "I suppose you also want to ask me why I look more like a grotesque fomorian than a handsome verbeeg?"

   "I admit that the question has crossed my mind."

   "It was the Sky Cleaver that did it to me," said Basil.

   "The Sky Cleaver? Is that not the name of Annam's fabled axe?"

   "So you are well-read in our stories. It is no fable, young elf! Tavis and I each held it, on the day that we defeated the Twilight Spirit."

   "That is precisely about which I wished to ask you more. I know that the Twilight Spirit was defeated and that the queen and her child were rescued — we have spoken with the storm giants of Mount Woe — yet I do not know the details of how."

   "Oh, what a story it is to tell!" said Basil. "I shall sit down for it." The verbeeg took a large-sized chair. "Where to begin? Where to begin?"

   "Actually, could you begin with how the queen first came to power? I have read a book here of the War of the Twins, but I do not understand why it was that King Camden was deposed. That history seems too recent to have been recorded in the books to which I had access."

   "Because he sold his first-born daughter to the ogres!" Basil exclaimed. "The ogres in these parts are far more clever than the ones you may be used to. When the War of the Twins began, Camden could not defeat his brother on his own. He stooped so low as to make an alliance with the ogres of a certain tribe, unaware that their chieftain, Goboka, was working for the Twilight Spirit. The ogres agreed to fight for Camden, and in payment, they demanded his first-born daughter when she came of age.

   "Now, it is important to note that there has never been a daughter born in the many centuries of the Hartkiller line. Camden made the promise, figuring that he would certainly have many sons to replace the daughter he would have to give up. This never happened. In fact, his first wife died shortly after Brianna was born, and despite taking many wives and mistresses, none bore him a boy.

   "At the time, however, he was quite content with the deal, because with the aid of Goboka's ogres, he soundly defeated his brother, who died childless.

   "Now we jump ahead some fifteen years or so. Brianna has grown into a woman, and her father is trying to marry her off to one of the earls. She happens to be in Stagwick at a play. I happen to be... visiting... with Earl Dobbin, and I meet the great Tavis Burdun. That is how I became a part of this story.

   "On the way back to the castle, Goboka's ogres ambush the princess and her firbolg bodyguard, taking their promised payment. I accompany Tavis as he tracks her — and the finest ranger he is! — and determines that she has been kidnapped by ogres, but when we report this to King Camden, he forbids us to pursue.

   "Naturally, we disobey his orders, and Tavis, the young orphan Avner, and I track the ogres back to their lair and free Brianna.

   "Brianna, as you might expect, was not too happy with her father, once she understood the situation. When she returned to Hartsvale, she orchestrated a coup and exposed and deposed the king. He was banished from Hartsvale forever and sent into exile."

   "Where is he now?" asked Solisar.

   "I have not a clue," said Basil, shrugging.

   "Have there been any conflicts with the ogres since?"

   "Nothing significant," replied Basil.

   "This is the second time I have heard of this Avner," said Solisar. "I have surmised that he has died. Who was he?"

   "A sad tale indeed! A devoted boy he was — and a good thief too! Apparently, he was even a good midwife; he cut the queen's baby from her belly with her knife, so large was the child! But, yes, he later died defending his queen against a horde of fomorians."

   "Did this occur at the siege of Castle Wynn, during the Second War of the Hart, when the queen was taken by the Twilight Spirit?"

   "You have studied Hartsvale's recent events well! But no, he survived that battle. In fact, he was with the queen in the tower when the Twilight Spirit ripped it from its roots and strode off with it."

   "What exactly happened at that siege? Please trust that I am not accusing you, but many humans to whom we spoke claim that they were betrayed either by the queen's own husband or by a 'verbeeg runecaster from Lyndusfarne.'"

   "There is much racism against the giant-kin in this country, especially among its leaders, excepting her majesty," said Basil, "but I will tell you the truth, verbeeg or no.

   "Yes, allied tribes of giant-kin did assemble against the humans. I had no part in that! They were gathered because of the prophecy of a firbolg seer who put too much trust in his own prophecies. Mind you, he is a good man at heart, even a friend now, but Galgadayle had some pride issues to work out. He had prophesied that the queen's new son would bring the downfall of all humans and giant-kin. The giant-kin armies thus wanted to take the child by force. Tavis and I were in the castle when the siege started and when the Twilight Spirit appeared in the form of a roc made of shadow, which then coalesced into the titan Lanaxis. Lanaxis was squishing humans with his fingers, and Tavis could not use his explosive arrows that I had enchanted for him without blowing away the keep along with Lanaxis, so he came up with another crazy plan. He indeed opened the gate to let the giant-kin in, but he did not do it to betray the queen! Absurd! Tavis loves that woman more than I have ever seen a man love a woman. He opened the gate knowing that the giant-kin would attack Lanaxis, because Lanaxis was the one who wanted to raise the child to become the emperor of ancient Ostoria, which would fulfill Galgadayle's prophecy. And that they did. Mind you, giant-kin are big, but they are not as tall as the so-called 'real' giants, to say nothing of comparing us to one of the first-born of Annam! The kin could do little to stop Lanaxis, but they at least made him bleed, and he took the queen and left without killing the whole lot of little humans."

   "...And the giant-kin armies pursued Lanaxis," said Solisar.

   "Yes, and that is when Tavis and I joined them. We caught up with him far to the north, but he summoned six storm giants, and those noble, depressing monsters nearly killed us all, and the fomorian cowards fled the field. At the end of the battle, only Galgadayle and Tavis remained alive among the firbolgs, and there were about a dozen verbeeg left besides me.

   "Recognizing that we would obviously not defeat Lanaxis with the strength of our armies, I suggested another plan to Tavis and Galgadayle. If we were to defeat one of Annam's own children, we would need the power of Annam himself. Recently, in my studies, I was convinced that I had discovered the location of Annam's axe, the Sky Cleaver. The giant myths claimed that, when discovering his wife's infidelity, he cast his axe to the earth in anger, and it split a mountain in two. After studying the names of some mountains on a series of ancient map fragments, I found a place that could translate into Common as "Split Mountain". It was also in the same region as Othea Tor, the supposed place of Othea's final rest. Moreover, I found evidence in some old tales of ghost-like monsters of former giants being spotted in the area of the mountain, which was thus avoided by the frost giant tribes living in that area. I was sure that it must be the final resting place of that great axe.

   "I do not think Tavis fully believed my idea, but he did not have anything else to lose, so our small band set out on a minor detour on the way toward the Twilight Vale, and we took a quest to find Sky Cleaver.

   "Find it we did, deep within a cavern between the two halves of Split Mountain, guarded by a hill giant whose flesh was transparent from all of his years protecting the weapon, which he worshiped much like a god. Now I understood what it meant when the legends said that the axe would strip away the corporeality of mortals who bore it. Simply put, the weapon was never forged to be wielded by mortals.

   "Tavis took the chance, however, and claimed the axe as his own.

   "We arrived at the Twilight Vale, a mystical valley that only came into existence when in the shadow of Othea Tor, the same shadow that restored and sustained Lanaxis for so many centuries. We knew that Annam's axe was said to have the power to cleave anything created, and Tavis used its power to literally cleave Othea Tor in half — an amazing display of magic power, or I am not a runecaster! With that mountain demolished, the Twilight Vale was, in a sense, also destroyed, forcing the ancient palace of Voninheim back into the world of Toril again, and exposing Lanaxis to his curse of mortality.

   "Then, in the final showdown with Lanaxis, who had taken his shadowroc form one last time, Tavis defeated the ancient titan once and for all.

   "Brianna, having been rescued now a second time by Tavis, returned with her husband and son to her throne in Hartsvale."

   "What about Galgadayle?" asked Solisar. "Is he still alive?"

   "He is, though he has returned to his tribe, and I have not seen him since."

   Solisar paused and processed all the new information he had just learned.

   "Is there anything else you wish to know?" Basil asked.

   "When we spoke with the queen, she had mentioned you by name. She said that you confirmed the existence of Jhothûn?"

   "Yes, 'Iseheim' the other giants call it."

   "Do you have a book about it?"

   Basil did, but the only line of interest was simply a parenthetical:

...The kingdoms of Ostoria were eight in number, one for each of the sons of the All-Father, the Prime. The kingdoms were ruled from the great citadels of old. These included foremost Voninheim, the capital, the Bleak Palace. Vilmos ruled from Uvarheim, deep below the waves. Nicias reigned from Skyeheim, which sailed the heavens. Masud controlled the peaks of flame from Ildheim, while his rival, Ottar, held Iseheim atop the ice flows, (which some called Jhothûn.) Obadai claimed Nedeheim, in the deeps of the earth, and young Ruk was given Haugheim. Dunmore, the bastard, dwelt among the trees in Skogheim with the race some call the voadkyn....

   Solisar spent several more hours with the hospitable verbeeg, learning much about the art of runecasting, a form of divine magic, and some further knowledge about the giant-kin. For example, while he had heard that firbolgs could not lie, he now learned that they could, only that it would make them nauseous and insomniac for days at a time, so ingrained was the importance of truth and honor within their culture. He asked Basil about the town of Lyndusfarne and if he knew the Pulkdrivvers. (He did not.) Finally, he studied some divinatory spells, before joining with his companions for the night.
Session: 85th Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 01 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — The Wars of the Hart
"After the fall of Voninheim, a being emerged from a cave in one of the mountains in the far north of this region, almost adjacent to the Endless Ice Sea, a place called Othea Tor. Those who witnessed his coming saw him kill a deer with his bare hands and eat it. When they questioned him about his name, he said that he did not have one but that he was the king of Ostoria. Those who found him thus gave him the name 'Hartkiller'.

   "Hartkiller immediately began a journey to visit each of the Jotunbrud tribes in the area to proclaim the good news of his coming, but Hartkiller was a runt by giant standards, only standing twelve feet tall, appearing more like one of the kin than a true jotun. For this reason, none of the Jotunbrud accepted him as the true last son of Annam. He visited Lake Woe and our aerie, yet we turned him away. This was our first great sin.

   "Rejected by his own kinsmen, Hartkiller turned instead to the humans in the valley. He began gathering human followers, teaching them and leading them out of their barbaric ways. In time, the kingdom of Hartsvale was born, ruled by an ageless king, who was like a god to his people. Hartkiller began to lead human and giant-kin armies against the jotunen who had rejected him as the chosen one, driving all of our tribes out of the valley and into the outskirts of the region.

   "The War of the Hart eventually ended on this mountain. Hartkiller himself climbed this very peak and challenged our paramount to single combat. Their epic battle lasted for 100 days, until both were spent and died, killing each other with one final blow each. This was our second great sin.

   "Shortly after the war ended 200 years ago, an enigmatic figure of purple mist appeared in the valley, at the very site where Annam's terrestrial sons used to hold the Jotunmoot. This 'Twilight Spirit' claimed to be a messenger and prophet from Annam himself, and he condemned the Jotunbrud for not accepting his chosen son. The Twilight Spirit prophesied that a son of Hartkiller, (who had taken a human wife,) would one day fulfill Annam's prophecy and restore Ostoria.

   "The Jotunbrud were not in agreement as to trustworthiness of the Twilight Spirit. The current stormazîn, the high priest of Annam for all jotunen, believed him to be false. We know now, too late, that the stormazîn was right."

   Lief interrupted the tale, and his voice was full of shock. "Xephras was right? Who then was this imposter? How do we now know?"

   "The Twilight Spirit was Lanaxis himself," said Ramos.

   There was a collective sigh among the giants. "The slayer of the sons of Annam," said Lief almost under his breath.

   Solisar politely asked if he could raise a question, and the giants looked down on him, waiting. "Was not Lanaxis the first-born son of Annam All-Father and the Father of Titans, the voninen?"

   Lief and Ramos nodded. Even the cloud giants now looked as melancholy as Ramos, who answered, "Lanaxis poisoned his mother and his brothers at the final Jotunmoot. He intended to poison only her drink to avenge his father for her unfaithfulness, yet all of his brothers, except the runt, the ettin, also drank the wine. Not all giants know this, but those of us who still live close to the heart of ancient Ostoria are well aware of the truth."

   All of the giants were silent for several moments. Then Nafni said, "Tell us more of the matter of the Twilight Spirit. It seems much has happened in the last ten years."

   Ramos continued, "Despite the truth we know now, at the time, 200 years ago, when the Twilight Spirit condemned us for slaying Hartkiller, our new paramount swore an oath that none of us should set foot on the surface of Toril again until Annam himself personally redeem us. All of us have kept to this oath, that is, until six of us were called to break it only three years ago now.

   "I must go back and tell you of the Second War of the Hart. It began two years after I rose to serve as paramount the first time. In that year the humans called the Year of the Staff, it was said that a new queen took the throne of Hartsvale. She became with child, and this event triggered the Second War of the Hart. The Twilight Spirit prophesied that the time had come; her child was to be the emperor of Ostoria."

   "A human's child the emperor?" asked Nafni.

   "She is a Hartwick," said Ramos, "a descendent of Hartkiller, a descendent of Annam All-Father, may his name be praised. She is not a mere human."

   "Forgive me; I have misspoken," said Nafni.

   "It is nothing," said Ramos. "What can words do to change things?"

   "How did the Spirit's prophecy trigger the second war?" asked Lief.

   "The most respected seer of the firbolgs also prophesied, but his prophecy was that her child was a monster who would bring an end to all humans and giant-kin of the valley. The firbolgs gathered all kin to them, even the fomorians. A call then went out from the Twilight Spirit, who now revealed himself to us, to the whole Jotunbrud, his nephews, to fight for Annam's heir. The queen herself did not believe either prophecy, and this set the valley at conflict — human against kin against jotunen. The kin wanted to kill the child to stop the prophecy from coming true; Lanaxis wanted to raise the child as a giant emperor; the queen wanted to raise the boy as a human prince.

   "Because of our oath, we at first did not heed the call, but the other giants of the valley fought for the Twilight Spirit, despite Xephras' warning. For three years, the war raged as she carried the child."

   "She carried the child for three years?" exclaimed Cassiera.

   "Giant pregnancies can take a long time by your standards, little one," said Nafni. "This is proof that Annam's blood indeed still runs in her."

   "Perhaps...," said Ramos, showing even more than the usual signs of sorrow. "Around this time, it was destined that I was to be replaced as paramount by Anastes."

   "Yes, we know Anastes," said Nafni.

   "Shortly after his ascension, we received a call on the wind, a summons that we could not deny, a direct summons this time. Lanaxis revealed himself to us and demanded our service as his nephews and for Annam's will. Six of us answered his call that day, Anastes, myself, and four others, leaving our women here at the aerie. We set foot in the valley for the first time in two centuries, but there was no joy for us. Lanaxis required us to guard him and the emperor as he rested. The curse that Othea placed upon him as she died meant that he could not bear to remain in the sunlight. We saw that he had carried the tower of a human castle with him to the snowy valley where we stood. Within was the child and his mother. Lanaxis was taking them to safety, to raise the new emperor in Twilight Vale.

   "I never saw the child myself, but Nikol and I caught and roasted a moose for the mother. Anastes spoke with her at length, and she told him that Lanaxis had evil plans for the child and had kidnapped her. Anastes did not know whose word to believe, and decided that he could not go against fate or what he believed was Annam's will revealed through the Twilight Spirit.

   "Before Nikol and I had finished roasting the mother's meal, three armies of kin arrived. It was now dusk. Anastes ordered Nikol and I to face the verbeeg army. Eusebius took on the fomorians, and Sebastian and Patma fought the firbolgs. Anastes guarded Lanaxis and the child emperor, to buy Lanaxis time to carry them off to safety.

   "It was a quick and bloody battle. The fomorians betrayed their kin and fled the field, and the firbolg army was annihilated save for two warriors. The verbeegs had a few dozen survivors. Eusebius, Sebastian, and Patma fell, and Nikol and Anastes were on the brink of death. The firbolg leader and Anastes ended the fighting, now that it was clear that Lanaxis and the emperor were safe. There was no need for further bloodshed.

   "The two surviving firbolgs were their old seer and one who claimed to be the queen's husband. He informed us of Lanaxis' treachery, confirming what the queen herself had said. Moreover, the queen's husband had convinced the other firbolgs to end their quest to slay the child. Their intent now had been to rally together to stop Lanaxis. Rather than saving our heir, we had aided the one who would corrupt him. This was our third great sin.

   "When we returned to the aerie in deep sorrow, Anastes stepped down as paramount and took a vow of silence."

   "What became of the child?" asked Nafni.

   "I do not know," said Ramos.

   "This was three years ago?" asked Solisar. "No one has heard what became of the kingdom or of the heir?"

   Ramos replied, "We were clearly fated to play the role we did that day. Annam must have no intent to redeem us. There is nothing for us but sorrow and regret."
Session: 82nd Game Session - Thursday, Nov 17 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — A Grand History of Giants
The tale I tell you includes the myths of the jotunen about their own gods and demigods. I cannot speak to the truth of all of these stories. I know only the truth of events that occurred after the taking of the oath my kind made to Ottar Annamson's offspring.

   Annam All-Father, as I believe you must know, is said to be the father of all the
jotun races. Some 30,000 years ago, he bore nine immortal, yet terrestrial, sons by his second wife, the demigoddess Othea. His first son was Lanaxis, the father of the voninen. After Lanaxis came Vilmos, Nicias, Masud, and then Ottar, the father of the Emperors of Jhothûn. Ottar's younger brothers were Obadai, Ruk, Dunmore, and the two-headed runt Arno and Julian.

   For all of his sons, Annam established the Colossal Kingdom, the great Empire of Ostoria. Each of his sons, excepting Arno and Julian, were given charge over a sub-kingdom. Lanaxis ruled over all the other sub-kingdoms from his capital of Voninheim. Vilmos' kingdom had control of the great oceans and seas of Faerûn; Nicias ruled the skies; Ottar had dominion over the cold lands of the north.

   Before dragons ever appeared on Toril and long before even the elves arrived on this world, Ostoria grew and thrived, reaching its height of power over a 2,000-year period.

   As far as Ottar, he named his empire Jhothûn, and he and his sons Hjurgen and Hrotun soon established their oaths and relationship with my people, who were then refugees from the Plane of Ice.

   Then came the dragons, some 26,000 years ago. War with the
jotunen began almost immediately but a few centuries later and lasted for a thousand years.

   The war at last ended with a truce, but by then Ostoria had shrunken in size and power. Each of the sub-kingdoms, including Jhothûn, had suffered greatly. It would never grow in size again, being limited mostly to the northern lands of Faerûn. Yet it endured in this state for some twenty millennia, each kingdom still ruled by an immortal king.

   Then, Ostoria began to shrink again. About 9,000 years ago, the
jotun kingdoms in the south were wiped out by genies from the Planes of Fire and Air. 7,000 years ago, the dwarves destroyed Nedeheim, the capital of the steinjotun kingdom. Jhothûn, however, seemed safe from such happenings in the south.

   6,000 years ago was when I took my oath to serve as a Prince of Jhothûn. At that time, Ottar Annamson himself still ruled on the throne of the Emperor within this palace. For the next 2,000 years that I served my liege, Jhothûn had no wars, and there was great peace.

   Our downfall had secretly begun millennia prior, however. It was at the time of the end of the war with dragons, so say the myths, that Othea, the mother of all
jotunen, took the god of the northern seas, Ulutiu, as a secret lover. Moreover, over the course of the war with dragons, when Annam's focus was elsewhere, she bore Ulutiu four children. These became the progenitors of the giant-kin races. (This, too, had been Othea's second affair. Her joining with the god Vaprak led to the race of ogres.)

   For twenty millennia, Othea managed to keep her affair with Ulutiu secret from her husband, yet he eventually discovered that Dunmore, the father of the
voadkyn, was not his son at all, but the child of Ulutiu.

   Here, the tales and myths recorded differ as to how Annam responded. The version the
jotunbrud tell is that Annam murdered Ulutiu and that his body fell into the sea, causing it to freeze over and forming the Great Glacier. Other races say that Ulutiu placed himself voluntarily into exile and then died there. Still others say that Ulutiu still lives and is only sleeping.

   Regardless, Othea was furious at Annam for the loss of her lover. She knew that she was pregnant with one last child by Annam, some say by rape, and she threatened to expel the child from her womb and feed it to the ogre race. To save his child, Annam promised to leave Toril, never to return or interfere in its affairs until Ostoria was restored with their new child on its throne. In exchange, Othea promised not to abort their son. Annam has been silent to the prayers of his worshipers ever since.

   Othea kept her promise not to abort the child, but neither did she give him birth. She delayed her labor, placing her essence and the essence of her unborn son within her mountain, for Othea was a demigoddess of the mountains.

   The immortal sons of Annam disagreed strongly on whether to side with their father or their mother, and it caused great strife to learn that one of them was only a half-brother. This strife further eroded the bonds among Ostoria's remaining sub-kingdoms. As the strife grew, so too did Ulutiu's glacier, which began to cover what were once fertile lands. 75 years after Ulutiu's death and the departure of Annam, the capital of both Ostoria and the
vonin empire, Voninheim, fell. This was nearly 4,000 years ago.

   Shortly before the fall of Voninheim, Ottar departed from the throne of Jhothûn, having been summoned by his elder brother Lanaxis to Voninheim for a council of all the sons of Annam. Ottar never returned, and Jhothûn was then ruled by Ottar's sons.

   At the last, there was a rebellion not only among the sons of Annam but among the sons of Ottar, as the satraps fought against each other. Though the official war with dragons was long over for hundreds of centuries, white dragons soon took advantage of the downfall of each province, and soon Jhothûn was no more. Karffbadh fell first, followed by Choshein. Gharreil survived for a long time, buried under Ulutiu's ice, yet even they died out. As far as this capital of Jhothûn, only this palace remains intact after the 3,000 years since its final fall, and I, too, am the last of my kin.
Session: 81st Game Session - Thursday, Nov 03 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 2 — A Mother–Son Talk
"You were born when I was only twelve and a half pyesigeni old," said Galadrel to her son. (Leokas knew the Elvish term to mean "four-snows". For an elf, a year was such a short time-period, one did not often refer to time periods in years when talking with other elves.) "I was so very young then. Young and deceived. I was blind to the man your father actually was. When I finally left him a pyesigen later, you were still too young to remember it. I wanted to take you with me, but I knew you would be safer in elven woods with our family, and you were too young to make the choice I made. I often visited you in secret, watching you grow into a man from afar."

   Leokas listened without interrupting. Elves reached physical adulthood at about the age of six pyesigeni, but they don't consider anyone a full adult until around the age of 100 years at least. In fact, elven culture discourages elves from marrying before that age. So his mother was indeed young.

   It was also the case that elves were expected to be raised by their extended family and the community after their first few years with their parents, so even with the early loss of his mother, Leokas' childhood was little different from that of his peers.

   "The 'man my father actually was'?" said Leokas. "What do you mean? He told me you were murdered by hobgoblins."

   "It was easier a tale for him to tell you than the truth. The truth was that I left him."

   "Whatever did he do?"

   "I cannot bear to talk now about the things I discovered he had done. Please, my son, permit that to wait until another time."

   "But I saw my father slain by a hobgoblin with my own eyes!" said Leokas. "Then they burned the entire village down!"

   "Yes, sadly he was. I heard of your father's death ten snows ago. It grieved me, truly. Thrandual paid for his crimes, but he did not deserve the death he received. He chose a dangerous path, one of which I could not approve, but he was not evil in his heart; I know this. He had much good in him.

   "My second husband died a few years after that," she continued. "Having lost both of the men I have ever loved, I was distraught and left the pack. I headed south into the Forest of Tethir. So long remained I in wolf form in my grief that I almost forgot what it was to be an elven woman."

   "Pack?"

   "You do not recognize what I am?" she asked. "This wolf form was not a curse. I became a Lythari by choice when I took a second mate."

   The Lythari, the Ly-tel-quessir, were an oft-forgotten subrace of elves. Many believed that they had abandoned Toril for the Feywild long ago, but obviously not. They were lycanthropes, but it was a chosen condition, not a curse or disease.

   "How is it that you found me? How did you become my... animal companion? I had a vision while in reverie the night before Belvin and I found you, or rather before you found us, in that cave during the great storm. I believed that Solonor had sent you to me."

   "It is truly a miracle of Sehanine that led me to you, my son. And perhaps the Lady of Dreams and the Great Archer fated our meeting together. Whatever the Seldarine's will, I did not even recognize you at first. When I did, I felt it best to observe secretly as your animal companion until which time I should know why it is that the goddess led me back to you.

   "All this time, I have not known whether I should reveal myself to you in my true form or not. Now, it seems, the gods have made that choice for me." A tear came to her eye. "It is good to see you with my elven eyes again, my son."
Session: 74th Game Session - Thursday, Jun 30 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Chapter 2 — The Return of the Archwizards
"The bards are already calling these events 'the Return of the Archwizards' — they mean the archwizards of Netheril of course — but as I just told you no more than one minute ago, I am not a bard; I call these events 'when the North went to the Hells.'

   "It all started in Nightal of last year. Some scout from Evereska was said to be patrolling in an ancient tomb. They discovered some humans from Vaasa who were illegally digging for something. (That's the polite way of referring to tomb-raiders.) In some manner that no one has explained to me satisfactorily yet, one of the Princes of Shade was there too. In what is to be a recurring theme in this tale, 'something' happened. Some elves blame the Vaasans, some blame the elves, some blame the prince, and some blame a combination of the three. In any case, the fools managed to create a hole in the Sharn Wall.

   "Of course, a bunch of phaerimms come bursting through, and suddenly everybody is on the same team against them — elves, humans, and the one Shadovar wizard versus the aberrations."

   "What is the Sharn Wall?" one of them interrupted.

   "Ah, but you know the story of the Fall of Netheril, yes?" said Riddre. They nodded. "Centuries ago, after the Fall, there was no one with the magical power to stop the phaerimms. They would have turned all of Faerûn into part of Anauroch had it not been for the sharns. I haven't the faintest idea what the sharns even are. I'm sure the High Mages of our people and the Chosen of Mystra know the truth, but no one tells such things to simple elven 'ambassadors' like me. Whatever the case, the sharns, who never seemed to care about the surface world before, decided they also despised the phaerimms, so they show up out of seemingly nowhere and use their ancient magics to create a sort of mystical wall around the territory of Anauroch, trapping the phaerimms below its surface. That's where the cursed monsters have been trapped ever since — well, that is, until the end of last year.

   "But, as I just explained, the Sharn Wall was breached, and now we have swarms of phaerimms floating into Evereska and not being friendly. The elves call for aid from Waterdeep, and some of the Chosen are even said to have shown up for help, but things are looking poorly for our friends in the Fortress Home.

   "Then, about a tenday later, once again with no explanation of which I know, poof, the City of Shade appears over the Dire Wood. That was on the sixth of Hammer. The Shadovar immediately sent emissaries to the elves and humans in the North and offered their assistance. The offer was accepted. By the end of the fourth month of the year, the Shadovar had begun pushing back the phaerimm forces — who by now had recruited, or mind-controlled, armies of wicked humanoids — and things started looking better for the plight of the world.

   "But the Lords of Waterdeep were not too happy when blue dragons from Anauroch arrived to assist in one of the battles the next month, in mid Mirtul, even though the dragons had saved their tails. The Shadovar argued, 'Blue dragons? What's the problem? They're our new allies, and we needed a stronger air force,' yet the Lords would have none of it, and one of them, perhaps unfortunately, insulted one of the Princes of Shade. So they stormed off — or rather, blended off into the shadows, as they tend to do.

   "Meanwhile, the weather had been acting strangely this winter and spring — strangely, as in 'major drought' and 'common folk are going to start starving' strangely. Well, after the little war council spat between the Waterdhavians and the Shadovar, another such tiff happened in Cormyr. The Shadovar were having a diplomatic discussion with the Princess-Regent about Cormyr joining the war against the phaerimms, when someone delivered a rather timely message that they had proof that the changing weather was because the Shadovar were using magic to melt the High Ice and flood Anauroch! When Princess Alusair confronted the Shadovar emissaries on this, they essentially shrugged and said, 'What's your point?'

   "Alusair is a feisty young woman. She expelled the emissaries from her court and immediately sent her armies marching north into Anauroch as a show of force. Thultanthar was not too worried, though, since a ground-based army can only do so much harm to a flying city — full of archwizards, no less. The Shadovar responded by sending its own army into Cormyrian land.

   "On the 27th of Mirtul, there was a battle, and somehow the Cormyrian town of Tilverton was obliterated, by which I mean, 'blown off the face of Toril.' Only a gaping crater remained. Think not that I speak lightly off it. Even my old elven mind cannot process the loss of so many thousands of lives. I would do them disservice to try to express the fullness of the tragedy in words.

   "Cormyr blamed the Shadovar; the Shadovar blamed the War Wizards of Cormyr. In any case, some 9,000 persons were annihilated."

   "We were sailing to Teshburl on The Daisy at that time," said Leokas, "having just freed Sseth."

   Riddre continued. "Now a three-way war was under way: Waterdeep, Evereska, and Cormyr against the phaerimms and Shadovar; the Shadovar against all the others; and the phaerimms against all the others. It continued on for nearly three more months until the 21st of Eleasias. On that day, two things happened. First, the phaerimms were finally driven out of Evereska by the elves and Waterdhavians, and its damaged mythal was restored. Second, a group of the Chosen of Mystra infiltrated this city and sabotaged its mythallar, almost sending the city crashing to the ground as in the Fall of Netheril. The Chosen managed to escape, and the Shadovar managed to save their city at the last moment. While failing to destroy the City of Shade, the Chosen were successful at stopping the magic that was melting the High Ice."

   "Of course I know what a mythal is," said Mythlos, "but what is a mythallar?"

   "Essentially," said Solisar, "it is the Netherese version of the elven mythal. It is their power that was said to keep the flying cities of Netheril aloft."

   "Anyhow," Riddre continued, "with environmental disaster averted and the phaerimms driven back beneath the Anauroch — for now — and the Shadovar realizing that they aren't the only powerful archmages left in existence in this world, everyone is in a sort of truce or stalemate, which has remained somewhat stable for the last month or so. No one really knows what either the phaerimms or the Shadovar are up to at the moment, but at least they aren't attacking civilized lands.

   "So there you are; that is what you all have missed while you've been on your little 'exile'." Then he spoke to Mythlos. "Elven brother, would you care to share this room with me? You all must be exhausted from traveling."

~~~~


The others left to select their own guest rooms, and Mythlos asked Riddre more about his background. "You are not a bard, I know; what are you then?"

   "I was once a bladesinger," said Riddre, and Mythlos' eyes lit up. "That was 50 years ago, though. I broke my back and ceased continuing in that path, choosing instead to settle down as a diplomat. Granted, the priestesses of Naris Analor restored me to health — and beautiful priestesses they were! — but I decided that the pain of a broken back was not worth it."

   "Do you still remember the bladesong?" asked Mythlos, his voice growing in excitement.

   "Indeed, I do," said Riddre.
Session: 74th Game Session - Thursday, Jun 30 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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