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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Red Rysal
From below deck, Szordrin and Hakam heard Solisar's yell, and both were startled awake. Szordrin sprung out of his hammock and was on his way up the forward stairs immediately. Hakam picked up his sword and shield — he did not have time to put on his armor — and followed behind, touching his shield as he moved to make it glow in the darkness.

   As Szordrin came onto the deck, he saw Belvin moving in his direction while drawing his bow, the elf's skin looking like it was made of tree bark. Szordrin looked up over his shoulder to where Belvin was staring up onto the forecastle. There was Leokas, all but his right arm entangled in a fishing net. The stubborn elf had managed to nock an arrow anyway and was aiming at someone Szordrin couldn't see from his angle. He moved further out into the center of the deck, as Belvin also loosed an arrow. Now he could see one of the assailants, a masked man, dressed fully in red with two arrows in his shoulder. The elves loosed more arrows, but each missed, as the man was moving quickly, and Leokas was half-entangled. The man rushed at Leokas and pummeled him several times with what looked like a small sack. He then moved to put himself on the far side of Leokas, shielding himself from further shots from Belvin or any spell that Szordrin might cast.

   Szordrin heard Solisar nearby chanting spells, but he could not see him. Behind him, he heard Kytharrah grunting in frustration. Szordrin turned to see the minotaur leap into the air, reaching for the yard above him, but falling short and crashing back to the deck. A second assailant leapt down to the deck of the sterncastle beside Kytharrah and stabbed him with a rapier. Szordrin saw the sword pierce clear through the minotaur and emerge from his back. The tiefling turned to take aim with a spell. He saw that the masked fighter, springing back from Kytharrah and withdrawing his weapon from the beast's body, had removed a vial from his bandoleer with his left arm and was readying to throw it at Kytharrah. Kytharrah, however, despite his wound, lunged forward and tried to grab the man, taking advantage of his greater reach. The opponent skillfully ducked and avoided Kytharrah at first. Then Kytharrah caught hold of the man's extended wrist and immediately overpowered him, forcing the man to smash the vial against his own head. The strangest thing happened: both Kytharrah and the man with whom he grappled fell with a thud to the deck and did not stir.

   "What is happening?" Hakam had just reached the main deck.

   Szordrin motioned for the bow of the ship and rushed toward the stairs to the forecastle, while keeping his head low so as not to be seen. As his head came over the steps, he saw Leokas missing several shots; the man was too skilled at anticipating the ranger's shots at such close range. Belvin, however, had also come up the starboard side stairs. One of his two arrows did not miss.

   The man yelled out in pain and turned for a moment to observe his second attacker. Szordin took this opening an fired off two rays of fire from his open palms. The injured man was still quite mobile and avoided the first blast, but the second struck him, leaving a blackened mark on his leather chestpiece. He stumbled backwards toward the rail. With a scream of pain he yanked the arrows out and chugged a magic vial he had in his left hand.

   Then, as Leokas and Belvin raised bows, the man suddenly jumped backwards over the rail, tugging on the rope to Leokas' net at the same time and hoping to drag the elf off the boat with him.

   But the man's left foot failed to clear the railing. Unbeknownst to him or anyone else on the ship, invisible Solisar had cursed the man with bad luck. He plummeted ungracefully into the water with a slam, rather than the smooth dive intended, and lost the grip on the net's rope.

   Leokas drew his knife and began cutting himself free, as the others rushed to the railing. Belvin dropped his bow and started removing his clothes.

   "Hold!" commanded Hakam from the rail. The man in the water stopped swimming and began to sink.

   "Take them alive!" shouted Solisar from the aft of the ship. He was now visible and was waking up Kytharrah. There was no visible stab wound on the minotaur, nor any blood at all. "They have not been using lethal force!"

   Szordrin, also at the railing, ignored this and blasted a bolt of lightning from his fingers to the water.

   Hakam could see the chaotic aura of the man below the surface. Suddenly, he began swimming again and swam below the vessel. "He is under the boat," said the cleric, "swimming to our left." Leokas acknowledged this by moving to the port side and readying his bow.

   Hakam moved toward the foremast and began preparing his most powerful spell, but then he felt a stern warning in his mind. It was the phylactery on his forehead.

   "Stop!" he called out. "Anachtyr demands that we spare his life. Solisar was right."

   There was a splash as a naked Belvin dove into the water.

   "What is Belvin doing?" asked Szordrin.

   "Quiet!" said the cleric. "I am listening for the man's thoughts. He is below the mainmast moving to the rear of the boat. Now he is feeling intense fear."

   From the port side, Leokas saw a fin break the surface of the water. "Shark!" he said, with a smile.

   A large shark lifted its pointed head out of the water and tossed the man's body onto the dock.

   "I yield! I yield!" yelled the man.

~~~~

Leokas and Belvin carried the nervous man back onto the ship. Leokas tied him up while Belvin got dressed again.

   Hakam and Szordrin approached the other assailant in the aftcastle. He was held tightly by Kytharrah. The minotaur had pulled off the man's mask, revealing a young face with dusky skin like Hakam's. Hakam noted that the man wore the turban of a rysal, apart from the red color. Was he some sort of pirate captain?

   "Where is Solisar?" asked Szordrin.

   "Ilthian," said Kytharrah. "Told me don't let friend go," he said, nodding to his captive.

   Leokas led the other prisoner over and then set to work tying up the man Kytharrah held.

   "Good jump!" Kytharrah said to the man, after releasing him. "Fun play."

   The unmasked man eyed him strangely.

   Hakam pulled the mask off the other man. This one was not a Calishite; his features were more elven. His ears were pointed but not as pointed as Leokas or Belvin's. Perhaps he was a half-elf.

   Solisar joined them again on the deck. Then, Szordrin spoke firmly with the Calishite man. "Tell us who sent you or we shall kill you!"

   "I am not afraid of the likes of you," he answered. "Nevertheless, I have nothing to hide. I was sent by Atiq el Catahras and Hakamir el Wisynn."

   The adventurers looked at each other. Most of them shrugged; the names were not familiar.

   "There must have been a mistake," said Hakam. "We do not know these names."

   Szordrin did recognize the name Catahras, but he could not place it. "For what purpose?" he asked the men.

   "There is a price on the heads of those who kidnapped Atiq's daughter," said the man.

   "There is only one woman in our number," said Hakam, "and I assure you that she is not a Calishite. She is from a distant island."

   "And why would you suspect us?" asked Szordrin. "We just arrived yesterday, and had we wanted to kidnap anyone, why would we have stayed in port for the night?"

   "She was kidnapped months ago, not yesterday," said the man, "in the month of Kythorn. In that same month, my partner here had been keeping an eye on a certain pasha in this town, one Syan al Derak. We have reason to believe that Pasha Syan has connections to a secret society active throughout the Lands of Intrigue. Men from Tethyr had been visiting him at night. Then, one day, a Calishite priest and a coppery elf with blonde hair wearing a Calishite aba visited him, under the guise of selling gems." He looked directly at Leokas and Hakam as he said this.

   "Yes, we were here in the month of Kythorn," said Hakam, "and yes, we sold gems, but I assure you as a cleric of Anachtyr that we have no connections to any secret society; we were simply on our way to Chult. And what does this have to do with the kidnapping?"

   The man continued, "Shortly after you departed, aboard a ship called The Daisy, we learned of the bounty placed on your heads by the girl's father. El Wisynn, the girl's betrothed, was calling for the kidnappers' capture and execution. They even took her pet cat, it was said. Raisa, the girl's mother, claims that some of the kidnappers stayed at their inn many nights. She describes a handsome man with red hair and strange glasses, a priest, a large orc, and... 'a coppery elf with blonde hair wearing a Calishite aba.'"

   "Curse that bard!" muttered Hakam. It was Oma.

   "He admits it," said the half-elf.

   "El Amlakkar received a report today that two elves were seen in town," continued the human man. "We caught wind of this and thought that your capture might provide us the evidence we need to bring down Pasha Syan. We did not expect you to have a minotaur aboard, however."

   "That is me!" said Kytharrah.

   "So that is our failed plan. Feel free to kill us now, if you wish, but while Pasha Syan has escaped this day, know that you have not, for el Amlakkar and el Nallojal will not allow your ship to sail."

   "We are innocent," said Hakam. "Why would we kill you?"

   The half-elf snorted a laugh. "Three potions, not your innocence, are the only reason I am alive."

   "I could have bitten you in half," said Belvin. "I did not."

   "You attacked us," said Hakam. "We had every legal right to defend ourselves with lethal force."

   "Yet we used no lethal force on you," said the human.

   "The girl, Oma yr Atiq el Catahras," said Hakam, "was a traveling companion of ours. She was hired by a somewhat untrustworthy companion of ours, but it was no kidnapping; she went with us willingly. She is with him still. I can tell you where she is, if you will hold us innocent of the matter. Our dealings with this pasha you mention were purely business. We had gems to sell. We had no knowledge of his secret dealings."

   "As a cleric of Anachtyr, do you not have a duty to bring her back to her father and her betrothed?" asked the man.

   "I would, except that my god has given be a greater duty that involves saving the world."

   "Saving the world?" The man looked doubtful.

   "We have been tasked with preventing a mage of great power from upsetting the balance of the multiverse. Some of our number have literally been sent back from the Fugue Plane to stop this man. The only reason we are here in Teshburl again is to investigate one who may have connections to him."

   "That is a hard tale to believe," said their prisoner.

   "I shall drink a truth serum, if you desire it," said Hakam.

   "Not that we have the upper hand at the moment," said the man, "but I give my word that we shall not pursue you further if you release us and tell us the girl's location. I cannot do anything to remove the bounty on your heads, however."

   "She is on the island of Lantan, far west of here," said Hakam.

   "Tell us more of this secret society," Szordrin ordered.

   "They call themselves the Knights of the Shield," the man replied. "We think that they are trying to influence the politics of the new queen of Tethyr to the north, and worse than that, we believe that Pasha Syan may be trying to fund some of his efforts through the slave trade. It is hard to prove, however. They are a powerful, well-supported group, whose influence stretches as far north along the Sword Coast as Waterdeep."

   "Who are you?" asked Leokas.

   "I — tonight, we — are the Red Rysal," said the man.

   "I take it that you have not heard of him?" said the half-elf.

   "I think that one of the townsfolk may have mentioned you to Hakam and I when last we were in Teshburl," Leokas replied. "Something about blaming you for the lack of temples in town...."

   "The previous Red Rysal discovered that the Churches of Bane, Bhaal, and Cyric were kidnapping children," explained the half-elf. "When this was exposed, the populace revolted and burned every temple, good or evil, to the ground."

   "While I admit that we are not saving the world," said the human, "we do our part to end slavery, kidnapping, and corruption. The slavers have not been able to stay in business in this town for 45 years."

   "Why do we still have these good men tied up?" exclaimed Solisar. "They are telling the truth. This has all been a terrible mistake."

   Leokas and Szordrin immediately agreed to this, as slavery was an important matter to each of them.

   "Only if they do not resume attacking us!" insisted Hakam.

   "Agreed," said the large man. "Besides, I know that I cannot outmaneuver this minotaur of yours!"

   "More play?" asked Kytharrah, eagerly.

   Once Szordrin had untied the man, Kytharrah held up the sword. He had been trying to figure throughout the whole interrogation why he had felt the steel inside his gut yet there was now no hole and no blood. "Trick sword?"

   "Yes," the man smiled. "Trick sword."

   The man stared back in shock as Kytharrah stabbed the blade through his own bicep, grunting at the pain, but then grinning. He then lumbered over to Solisar, the rapier still embedded in his arm. "Look, I can do trick now like little sister. No blood." Then he stopped and put a hand over his mouth, looking embarrassed.

   "Give the man back his rapier," said Hakam. The cleric then turned to the half-elf and offered to heal him of any remaining wounds, as Szordrin handed him back his belt and bandoleer. (No one noticed that he kept two potions for himself.)

   "You said that slavery ended here 45 years ago?" asked Leokas to the human. "You do not look that old for a human."

   "I am the sixteenth Red Rysal," said the man. "The legacy passes through my family. My true name is Kanar yn Baral el Ehrat, but most folk know me as 'the Ox'."

   "Leokas," said the elf. He turned and offered his hand to the second man, who took it and stood up. "I apologize for striking you with one of my arrows," the elf said.

   "Forgotten," said the half-elf. "I am just thankful that we live in a time of magical healing. My real name is Oadif el Wajin. I admit that I am impressed by your skills. You were half-entangled in my net, yet still you unleashed six arrows at me in fifteen seconds!"

   "And your agility impressed me," said Leokas.

   "Until I tripped on the deck railing, I imagine."

   "That was probably my fault," said Solisar. "I cursed you." Then he asked, "How can we get this bounty of our heads?"

   "Again, I cannot do anything about that," said Kanar. "In fact, I request that no one learns that we were even here tonight. However, I sense that Atiq is a good man. Perhaps if you simply explained to him that his daughter left willingly,..."

   "I can certainly speak to him," said Hakam.

   "I am not sure that that is wise," said Szordrin. "If you fail to convince him,..."

   "I will not fail," said Hakam. "The man deserves to know what happened to his daughter. How can we set up the meeting?"

   "I have someone I know who can deliver a message to the Roving Rune for you," said Kanar. "As for you and your elven friend, the two of you should probably stay hidden for as long as you stay here, since you match the descriptions. As long as the bounty is still on your heads, someone else might spot you who does not attack with saps and enchanted rapiers!"
Session: 93rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 26 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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A Company of Coincidence
It was the middle of the night when I heard an explosion through the trees. Through the trees, I stumbled into a clearing where three small row boats were ablaze on the bank of a river. The fire was so bright I almost did not notice two men, who must have been jolted awake by the commotion. With sleep still in their eyes, I made my presence known. Understandably, there were suspicious of me. Their boats are destroyed and a stranger suddenly appears. If not for my being forthwith of any and all information the requested, things may not had gone as well as they did. After some quick and concise pleasantries, I took it upon myself to help this band of misfits in their time of need.

We followed a pair of dark figures through the woods and right into the heart of a trap sprung by an old enemy of this group, Klang. I had heard terribly interesting stories this Goblin before, but the prospect of being in one had never crossed my mind. The stories had never captured the true essence of Klang. He was much more powerful and cunning in the flesh.

In the ensuing battle, this group I had joined revealed to me why such a band of misfits had joined forces. They are aggressive. Molo refused to capitulate to Klang, killing one of the goblin's and painting his face with its blood. They are fearless. Thain leaped into Klang's cart, multiple foes swarming around him.

I, on the other hand, was of alost no help at all. It was ever so frustrating. I received a few too many arrows and only hindered the group and their efforts. I was nothing but dead weight.

When it was all over, the group defeated Klang, and come incredibly close to allying with one of Klang's crossbowmen, Bitterball, or something close to that. Many of these goblin names are hard to understand. Molo had deceived the goblin and attempted to take his life in the blink of an eye. When it seemed the goblin was going to attack Molo, I felt compelled to protect the lizardman. I rolled a barrel and nearly killed the creature. This decision weighs upon me heavily. I feel as though I should have tried to reason with Goblin. But I digress.

By the end of it all, I seem to have earned the trust of the majority of the group, and I intend to prove my worth. This settlement of theirs is definitely nothing to behold, but with hard work and perseverance, I believe I may be able call it home.

Paladin of the Steel, Verduun Kess
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Tags: Battle , Journal , Recap , Summary
Epic!
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Snake on a Spelljammer
Down on the ground, Belvin had Kamil crouch, and he hacked the head off the male lamia. He called to Hakam, "Do you see anything?"

   "No," the cleric called back. Hakam had walked through the wall illusion behind which the lamias had hid.

   Belvin then heard a sound.

   When Hakam stepped back through the illusionary, ruined wall, Belvin was gone, leaving Kamil there alone and Hakam confused.

~~~~

On board the spelljammer, Leokas heard Solisar's scream coming from the forecastle. He moved to the port side and readied an arrow.

   On the starboard side, Kytharrah heard the scream too. "Okay in there?" he asked. He had entered the forecastle and was approaching the door to the room with the magic chair.

   "Everyzing is fine," he heard Nulara answer, but when he tried to open the door, something or someone was blocking him from pressing it open, something or someone very strong.

   Szordrin finished climbing aboard with his spider magic and came up behind Leokas. The wood elf motioned for him to be quiet. Szordrin whispered a question about what was happening, but Leokas did not yet know. He opened the starboard-side door to the forecastle and cautiously entered, dropping his bow to the ground and drawing instead his longsword. He stepped to the door of the spelljammer helm room and stealthily opened it a crack. Tymora blessed them, for as he was doing so, the sound was masked by Kytharrah's shouting from the other side, "Someone hurt? I smell blood! Door is stuck!"

   With the door open a crack, Leokas could not see much, but what he did see was enough — the end of the tail of a very large snake draped across the floor.

   The wood elf back-stepped away from the door toward Szordrin, hand reaching towards his bow.

   Leokas' actions confirmed Szordrin's suspicions about what was happening. He withdrew a root shaving and quietly chanted some Draconic words. His movement grew suddenly faster. He picked up Leokas' bow and held it out for him to reach.

   On the other side of the helm room, Kytharrah shoved against the door for the third time and succeeded to force it open. For an instant, the young minotaur glimpsed his friend, Solisar, hunched over in the helm chair and covered in blood.

   "Go to sleep, you beast!" said Nulara, from behind the door. She shoved back, and slammed the door shut again.

   "No trick sleep!" said Kytharrah, shaking off the spell. On the contrary, he felt a surge of speed from the power of Szordrin's magic from the other side of the ship. Bellowing and snorting, he gave the door a forceful shove, but to no avail. Nulara was very strong! Frustrated, he drew his axe from its holder on his back.

   "You do not want to fight me," she said sweetly. "Do you have my bow for me?"

   Her charm was no more effective than her attempt to put the minotaur to sleep. Kytharrah was not sure what was happening, but he knew that Solisar needed help.

   "Solonor, swift death to my enemies," Leokas whispered, nocking two arrows at once, as he stepped back to take a shot through the slightly ajar door on the port side.

   However, Nulara heard him. Her bulky serpent tail slammed the door shut behind her, blocking Leokas on the other side so that she could deal with the persistent minotaur.

   But the minotaur was no longer playing. His large axe crashed through the door in a single swing, and Kytharrah heard Nulara shout out from the other side in pain or surprise or both. He began yanking back the shattered wooden planks with his huge paws. Nulara was there on the other side of the wrecked door. She was not wearing any clothes. Why? Was she about to change into a snake like Cassiera or Belvin? How did she grow as tall as him? Oh, she was half snake now already. Could Cassiera do that too? Cassiera was never that big of a snake though.

   Nulara gave up on the non-violent route of subduing the minotaur before her. She slashed wildly with her black dagger, knocking more broken door panels aside.

   Kytharrah stepped back and swung his axe. It was hard to swing in the confined quarters below the deck, but his blade cut across Nulara's bare midriff and then again through her lower serpent-like abdomen. Black blood and scales fell to the floor. She raised her dagger high for another swing, but Leokas kicked open the door behind her with his boot and loosed his arrows. One of the arrows drove deep into her back, but the second popped back out of her body without even drawing blood, and dropped to the floor.

   She shrieked in pain from the first arrow. Then, her tail slammed forcefully back at Leokas; it struck against the open door frame instead.

   Kytharrah took the opportunity to attempt to impale the lamia with his horns. They caught her below the rib cage and rocked her humanoid torso back, but when Kytharrah raised his head again, her chest was clear of even a scratch. Only her stomach was bleeding from his earlier swing.

   "Thard Harr, guide his swings!" Kytharrah turned his head for a moment to see a naked Belvin on the deck outside.

   Nulara took her opportunity and swung her dagger with enough ferocity that it could have cleaved off Kytharrah's arm, yet Thard Harr had heard Belvin's prayer and guided Kytharrah's instinctive parry of the blow. The black dagger miraculously got caught in the hook of the minotaur's axe blade. He twisted his wrist quickly, and the dagger blade snapped off its hilt with a crack.

   Nulara flew into a rage, slapping Kytharrah across the snout with the back of her hand. "You spawn...." Slap! "...of Baphomet!" Slap!

   "Ixen!" shouted Szordrin from his knees, where he was now crouched in front of Leokas, and a beam of flame shot from his hand. The fire wrapped completely around Nulara, causing her no harm at all, but it least it gave Kytharrah a chance to step back from the slapping.

   "She is resistant to the Weave!" Szordrin warned.

   Leokas nodded and began releasing arrows rapidly over Szordrin's shoulder, hasted by the roguish wizard's earlier spell, but Nulara was writhing about madly like a cornered animal, swinging her arms and long, razor sharp nails at Kytharrah. Only one of the elf's four arrows struck her in the arm, and she seemed hardly to care.

   Kytharrah fared a little better, striking her several more times, and leaving black gashes across her brown skin. It seemed to him like he was swinging at a tree, not at a creature. He swung his horns and missed and then his axe one last time, before Nulara struck him on the face. It did not even hurt him. Instead, he giggled, as if someone had told a funny joke, before collapsing to the ground with a thud to enter a sleep of nightmares.

   Her first foe bested, Nulara now twisted her form around, and swung her tail at Szordrin, but the tiefling was able to concentrate enough to send off a dagger of ice from his hands. Some unseen force sent the icicle crashing into the ceiling. Nulara laughed.

   "What is happening?" called Hakam from the deck. He had finally climbed Ormur and could hear shouting and see the naked wild elf chanting a complicated nature spell nearby. A dark cloud was forming over the forecastle.

   "We are betrayed!" shouted back Leokas. "The minotaur and Solisar are dead!"

   "Yesss," hissed Nulara. A forked tongue shot from her mouth. "...and you will both join them." Her tail flashed, swatting at Szordrin. It was not a powerful blow, but he instantly felt like he had had too much wine.

   Leokas reached for another arrow, but his quiver was empty.

   "Oh, out of arrows?" she gloated.

   The wood elf drew two instead from Szordrin's quiver and let the first fly, striking her below her right collarbone. She lunged forward, trying to catch his neck in her hands, but there was another twang, and her body fell to the ground. Leokas had put the second arrow through her forehead at point-blank range. "Now I am out of arrows," he said.

   He wasted no time grabbing his sword and hacking off Nulara's head. Black blood gushed from the neck stump and her long tail twitched and writhed spasmodically for a long time in the lamia's death throes.
Session: 91st Game Session - Wednesday, May 31 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Lamiae
Leokas stepped to the railing of the floating ship and assayed his enemies. He had a perfect strategic vantage point. The creatures approaching were similar to centaurs in appearance with the lower bodies of beasts and bare upper torsos of stunningly attractive, tanned humans. There were five lamias in all, three of them with the bodies of large lions, one with the body of a goat, and the fifth with the body of a small deer or gazelle. One of the lion-bodied lamias was male; the rest had female torsos. Each carried a dagger in his or her hands or mouth. Beyond that they carried nothing else nor wore any sort of clothing or jewelry.

   Leokas stretched and cracked his neck and drew his weapon. He was ready for them.

   Nulara let fly an arrow at once. It whizzed past the neck of the goat-lamia. The lamia reached Nulara, hair blowing about wildly, and reared back, kicking with her forehooves. One hoof knocked the bow from Nulara's hands; the other struck her in the sternum, and Nulara fell to the ground.

   Leokas filled the lamia with three arrows, allowing Nulara to crawl away from the lamia's stomping hooves.

   The gazelle-lamia appeared to split into a total of five lamias, all of which rushed toward Szordrin in unison, surrounding him. Then Kytharrah, having rushed to the main deck and seen his friend surrounded, and leapt and crashed down unto one of the five, grunting from the painful impact. The lamia illusion popped out of existence. Szordrin darted behind his large companion for cover from the remaining four attackers.

   The two "lionesses" focused their attentions on Hakam. The first reached him and pulled him into a forceful embrace, before he could even draw his sword, pressing his face into her bosom. The second, stroked the back of his neck, while telling him how attractive and manly she found him.

   Hakam felt himself struggling with conflicting thoughts and emotions. The women were extraordinarily attractive to him, yet he knew that they were cursed and evil... and not women at all! It felt rather pleasant being held against the soft flesh of this fair creature.... No, she was a demon! She was draining his sanity. "Fiil," he mumbled. "Fiil tanmu!"

   Hakam felt himself being shoved back. He tumbled unto his back, freed from the lamia's grip as the magical elephant exploded out of the pouch where it had been attached to Hakam's belt. The two lamias were also shoved back. The elephant immediately pounded the nearby goat-lamia across the head with its muscular trunk, knocking her unconscious instantly. She fell limp to the ground and was then trampled to death by the massive pachyderm.

   The male lion-lamia was trying to leap onto the side of the boat. The first attempt, he failed. Solisar floated up beside Leokas, who was turning to seek a new target. He could not shoot at the male lamia, because it was too far below the craft. Solisar tossed a piece of glass down toward the lion, but instead of vanishing as it should have done, the glass simply fell to the ground below. "The Weave is not responding to me!" he exclaimed.

   Belvin swooped down out of the sky, braked with his wings, and morphed back into an elf, landing naked upon Kamil's back. He calmed his companion and guided the camel, who had been galloping away from the battle frightened, back to his pile of clothing and gear. As he turned around, he saw the elephant charging toward Kytharrah. The angry lioness who had lost her grip on Hakam had instead charmed the elephant with her sweet words and commanded it to attack the minotaur. "Kamil, fetch my pouch!" The camel bent down and picked up Belvin's pouch in his teeth, raising it to his master. Belvin began frantically to reach for his holly sprig, but he was not going to be fast enough. The elephant was upon Kytharrah.

   Moments before it would have gored its tusks into the young minotaur, Hakam yelled out from under the boat, "Fiil wa'iinkamsh! The elephant shrunk down into a figurine and rolled until it stopped near Kytharrah's feet.

   The other lioness-lamia followed behind, drawing her blade from between her teeth and waving it about her head. Leokas struck her twice with arrows, the second of which went through one side of her skull and came out the other. Then a column of fire fell down from the sky at Belvin's command and ensured that she was dead.

   From behind Kytharrah, Szordrin sent a ball of fire on the group of four identical gazelle-lamias as they were closing in. Each of them now shared precisely the same scorch marks on their otherwise flawless skin and the same grimaces of pain and anger. They leaned their human torsos forward, granting extended reach to their swinging arms, and clawed at Kytharrah. He noted that their fingers ended not in nails like Cassiera or Ilthian but in thick, pointed claws like his. At first he was confused by all the arms swinging at him, but he trusted his nose. "I smell you," he said, swinging his axe and cutting through the rightmost lamia's bare flesh and spraying foul, black blood. All four lamia's shrieked in pain. He swung again, and they dropped to the ground simultaneously.

   "I got all three," said Kytharrah, but he did not feel happy about it. They looked too much like Cassiera or Ilthian to him from the waist up, but the others who were smarter than him told him that lamias were very bad, so he tried to believe them.

   "Four," said Szordrin, as he spun around and blasted a jet of fire toward the lion-lamia underneath the ship where Leokas could not shoot at him. "You got four." The flames engulfed the male, and it stumbled. Solisar also flew out over the others, drawing his wand and shooting at the same target. At least his magic items still functioned. The male was persistent; despite the burns and magical pummeling, he leapt again onto the side of the ship. This time his claws caught hold, and he clung to the bottom of the vessel like a spider, with four lion claws and two humanoid hands holding onto the planks of wood. He began climbing the side.

   "Help me up!" It was Nulara calling. She had managed to climb up Ormur, but was having trouble pulling herself over the railing onto the deck.

   "Hold on!" said Leokas, who thought it more important to deal with the climbing lamia. He leaned over the railing and aimed his arrows straight down at the beast. A single arrow struck the male, and it crashed 40 feet to the ground with a thud.

   Solisar flew over and offered Nulara a hand. She took it, and he helped pull her aboard.

   "My zanks," she said. Then she drew her black dagger. "One is coming up the side!" she warned, readying herself.

   "Not anymore," said Leokas. He raised his bow and fired off two more arrows at the remaining lioness, striking her in her tawny, furred flank, just as she was raising her arm to point at Kytharrah. "Dreams upon you!" the lamia shouted.

   "I feel sleepy!" said Kytharrah.

   "Fight it! Stay awake!" urged Szordrin, coming now from behind the cover of the hairy beast. He completed a spell and sent a barrage of snowballs at the lamia female.

   Covered now in snow, with two arrows in her hide, and seeing all four of her companions dead or dying, she bolted to the north.

   Belvin started summoning allies to pursue her, as Hakam rushed over to the four fallen lamias around Kytharrah. They were still breathing, though a large pool of black blood stained the sand around them. "Which one is the real one?" he asked Kytharrah.

   "That one," said Kytharrah, a hint of sadness in his voice.

   Hakam plunged his blade through the left side of her back and then through the side of her deer-like body to ensure that she was dead. The three duplicates and the gore beneath them vanished.

   Leokas moved quickly to the starboard of the flying ship and watched as the fleeing lamia appeared again on the same side. He sent two arrows after her with a single pull of the bowstring. They struck her in the back. She staggered but then recovered and kept running, taking cover behind a ruined wall so that Leokas no longer had a line of sight.

   Four dire weasels appeared, and Belvin sent them in pursuit. Solisar had flown quickly back inside the forecastle of the ship and sat back in the magic chair. He directed the ship to move, and it jerked forward, positioning Leokas for a clear shot. He took it. The lamia fell to the ground. Moments later, she was overtaken by the four squeaking weasels who brought her to a disturbing end.

   "Victory!" yelled Belvin in the Elven tongue. He then rode to the male lamia to check that it was indeed dead. Hakam recovered the elephant figurine and began walking toward the false wall from which the attackers had come. Szrodrin, having cast another spell, jumped and stuck to the side of the boat by his magic and began to climb on all fours. Kytharrah picked up Nulara's bow and began to climb Ormur again. "I have your bow!" he called up.

   Nulara came into the central room where the magic chair was located, with Solisar sitting in it. "Ze battle is over," she told him. "We are safe. Zey are all dead."

   "Yes, I can see that."

   "Is zat how it flies?" she asked. Solisar was distracted, for he was trying to test his control over the vessel. Could he speak to the others on the ship through the chair? Could he do more than see and move? It had drained him of his magical power, yet he had been able to leave the chair and return, and it remained in the air in his absence.

   "Yes," he finally answered her, "though I still have many questions about it."

   Nulara's face was filled with excitement and delight. "Many years have I wondered about this ship!" she said. "You have served my purposes better than I had hoped; I thank you." With that, she stared directly at Solisar with a look of lust, or perhaps hunger.

   Solisar realized also that she no longer had an accent. He tried to get up, but before he could respond, her black dagger flashed in her hand. She plunged the blade deep into his chest with three stabs, an evil grin on her face the whole time.

   Solisar screamed. The shock of the attack meant that he did not notice the pain much. Instead, with his last strained, blood-filled breaths, he could sense that it was the poison of the weapon that was ultimately going to kill him. He felt his strength draining away.

   "My children proved weaker than I had hoped," Nulara said, as she nonchalantly slid the shoulder of her garment off with her hand. The thin fabrics fell to her waist, baring her breasts, and pooling at her wide hips. Then, it seemed as if she suddenly grew taller, and her clothing slipped completely from her body, revealing not the lower half of a woman but the terrifying form of a giant serpent. "At least there will be fewer mouths to feed."
Session: 90th Game Session - Wednesday, May 24 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Nine Lives
Thu-thump....

Thu-thump....

Thu-thump....

Her heart beat heavily in her chest, dread overtaking her as her vision grew hazy and her ears rung in panic.

Each moment passed slowly in her mind, as if passing slower in a more lethargic pace, the reality around her perceived through a filter of altered time. Everything came so clear to her now.

"Please, no..." She thought, glancing frantically around her surroundings as she was lifted from the ground nigh-effortlessly by an unseen force and gradually dragged towards what she knew to be the bottomless chasm she had been eyeing the entire time out of fear. Each second that passed felt like an eternity as she gazed on helplessly towards her comrades whom had until this point been embroiled within a difficult battle, herself included.

Her thoughts were broken by the sudden deep chuckles emanating from the bulbous sphere of flesh, its toothy maw opening wide in a fit of malefic laughter as it sadistically teased her by bobbing her up and down over the chasm, loosening and tightening its telekinetic grip over her, assuring her of her inevitable fate below. Witnessing its undulating eye stalks staring into her very soul, she despaired as her own body froze up in terror, her fur standing on end as she could hardly move her body, regardless of the effect placed on her.

Just moments prior, she had been nearly turned to stone. Pieces of stone still fell from her body into the lightless hole beneath her as she stared hopelessly towards those she had considered her closest of allies and friends. Just as soon as she had thought herself safe, the aberrant creature had taken hold of her through the means of some unseen force, her heart still pounding within her chest. Each beat came as a terrible, calamitous thud as it clamored within her. She panicked, tasting the light tinge of copper, and felt each beat within her throat as her vision grew hazy, quickly falling prey to a panic attack then and there as she searched helplessly into the eyes of her onlooking comrades, who until that moment had not even realized what was going on. But now, witnessing her moments from death, they had all turned their gaze to what was soon to be the last they'd ever see of their feline friend. She had not been the most vocal of the group, nor the most helpful. But she was who she was, and that was what mattered most.

In such a brief time of knowing each other, she had gotten to know each and every one of them by name, learn a little bit about them, and bond with them. She felt closer to knowing the warmth of a true family than she had ever felt in her lifetime... And....and....

It wasnt something she was ready to give up. She didn't want to die. But within the back of her mind, a morbid sense of knowing crept over her. That calm before the end. The rush of knowing that it'd all be over soon, and the thought to cherish the sight of their faces one last time, that the fate of her life was no longer in her control anymore. It calmed her a bit, giving her time to accept her death as she hung over the pit.

Seeing them staring at her with their looks of bewilderment and concern however did much to soothe her, despite her terrible predicament. Their eyes met hers with looks of both despair and sorrow as they quickly realized what was moments away from happening. Especially through the eyes of Airiel and Kayde, whom she had felt the most from. She had not known Fallen or Azaia as much as the others, yet the genuine look of distraught did assure her one thing.

At least it wasn't for nothing.

She, had in a sense, found a family. Having lived a life without the fond touch of affection or love, she had never been able to appreciate the warmth of having such close friends before, but now she had found a group of people that didn't just tolerate having her around. She could see that she was appreciated, that she was wanted, and that her presence to them meant something more than just an adventuring partner. It was that selfsame affection she had craved her entire life, and had no confirmation of knowing until this very moment as she stared into the wide eyed figures of those around her in that last moment of clarity as she felt the grip of the beholder's magics wearing thin.

Though tears had begun to well in her eyes, she gave her best smile, despite the raging beat of her heart thudding within her chest, her voice cracking and trembling as she forced a few audible sentences from her chest as she dangled over the abyss, the spell now ending as she plummeted.

Roaring with laughter, she heard the beholder's wide toothy maw cackling in maniacal glee as he dropped her to her death, the vile creature having scored another point in the death toll. Yet, Tonks did nothing to even acknowledge him anymore. Even as she fell, her eyes were trained on those she loved. She would have followed them to the edges of the world, but this is where her paws came to rest.

"Thank you...for being her only family...She loves you all" she spoke as her body fell into the inky black depths of the bottomless chasm the terrible and malefic creature had been so teasingly dangling her over.

Accepting of her fate, she gazed down into the dark as she fell, her vision heavily obscured and the temperature around her suddenly getting much colder as she descended rapidly. Though her mind was suddenly jarred as she hit her body along the side of a rocky outcropping, creating long lacerations along her sides, warmth quickly flooding to the site as she reflexively reached out with her arms to grapple to the rapidly disappearing footing before her.

Wincing with pain, she was wounded several times over as her arms attempted to make purchase with sharp stone and loose gravel, the feline lucky enough to have magical gloves to keep herself from pulling back bloody disfigured nubs as she caught on and slid two score feet downward, the pain of the grinding stone similar to that of a cheese grater against raw fingertips, yet the gloves held strong, unable to be torn apart by regular means. With each foot she slid, a brilliant spark of lightning streaked outward like sparks upon grinding steel.

"Hah!!?" she gasped, struggling for air as she felt her body slam against the wall, yet holding fast as she glanced around frantically for some form of light besides the sparking of her gloves against the coarse stone wall before her. Finally having stopped, she took a moment to catch her breath as she listened for the battle above. Yet, at this depth, she could hear naught but the drowned out echos of shouts of battle. For a moment, she took a breather. Yet, as her physical stamina began to fail her, she felt her fingers quickly loosing their grip on the groove she had worked herself against, fear once more welling up inside of her as finger by finger lost their grip as she slipped steadily down the side again, before utterly plummeting once more and hitting her back on an outward-facing beam of stone, possibly a stalagmite in a fortunately sideways position.

Though she had been falling for a mere few moments, each second burned within her mind, feeling more akin to hours of anguish and hopelessness as she clung for dear life, hoping to somehow live through this horrific nightmare.

"Please wake up, please wake up, please wake up sleepy-paws! She doesn't like this dream-thought anymore. Please just wake up!" she whined, wincing as her body collided with several more rocky outcrops on her way down, breaking and slowing her fall each time, yet delivering to her body a great bit of bruising damage and cuts along her attire.

She slipped, suddenly colliding with a sharp object, her body coursing with pain and the warmth of blood.

"Wake-up! Get up sleepy-paws, she doesn't think this is funny anymore! Be of waking up, yes? Please..."

Taking a needle-like stalactite to her shoulder, however, she yowled in pain as it drew crimson rivulets that stained her tattered clothing, a greater portion of her upper body now laid bare before slamming back-first into another outcrop, feeling it crumble and give way beneath her as she looked up to the rapidly disappearing hole above her.

Though again in spite of her wounds this particular collision, fortunately for her, angled her just right.

Falling face down into the abyss, she began to feel a humming magic in her feet with each inch that she approached to the wall again, wind billowing past her ears as it forced her hood down. Then it struck her.

In a moment of brave and skillful maneuvering, she kicked her legs outward, each foot suddenly making an almost magnetic purchase with the wall as her shoes caught firmly and tightly as they would to normal ground and refused to let go for a good few moments before slipping down the wall several final feet as she spun around in a 180 to stare upwards to the dimly lit hole far above from whence she had fallen. She was beaten and bloody, but she'd be damned if she was going to die now.

The once soothing feeling of acceptance of death had all but faded now. Where it once soothed and lulled her into a state of false security, she now felt a raging fire burning brightly within her. She felt her fight or flight instincts kicking in as her body broke its normal limits, granting her a second wind, but with it coming the taste of blood from her own mouth. Disregarding it, she instead felt a surge of hope. She wouldnt die here. Not if she had any say in it. She was battered and bloody, but she was still alive. She had felt pain like this only once, back in Lerwick with the black hats. This time, however, she had a reason to fight.

"Hnng....Ilmater... **hack** Preserve her... Give her strength" she hissed in pain, slowly drawing her bruised fingertips up to the surface of the stone once more, feeling their sore surfaces each try and take hold, yet failed utterly for several minutes before finding another groove to hold onto as her slippers magically kept her there. She was lucky to be alive.

Feeling down to her sore feet, she wiggled them lightly, feeling the magics cling to the surface of the stone tightly, her heart slowly calming itself as she finally stopped falling. Though slightly dirty now, they had served their purpose valiantly, a treasure she swore thenceforth to treasure for the remainder of her life.

If it had not been for Airiel, this encounter would've ended a lot more tragically, she thought to herself. Her eyes bloodshot and bewildered, she stared hopefully to the hole in the ceiling once more as rampant anxiety joined her hysteria. Were they even alive anymore? How many had been destroyed by the creature now? Or had they triumphed and possibly forgotten about her, assuming the worst?

The very thought once more began to well up inside of her deepest core, that sense of dread, old scars and wounds suddenly resurfacing as their once scarred-over surfaces ripped open at the thought of her being abandoned once more. Having been unwanted by her parents was bad enough, but those whom collectively she deemed a family? It felt even worse as her body began to tremble.

She slowly felt around for more footholds, gradually using the greater strength she had in her legs still, coupled with the ability to wall climb effortlessly with the boots to progress upward, yet still feeling burdened by the great weight of anxiety and despair. Her family was dying.

Her family was in danger

"Please...no... She doesn't want to ever do something like this again...she doesn't want to trade tongue-wags with stupid scary devil-man anymore. He knew danger, but not tell them. She wont let family ones agree to stupid - man wants anymore. He almost kill her love-hearts. Wont...She just wants family again...she just wants..." she whimpered. It was painful enough knowing that Gaius had just died, that she had witnessed plainly with her two eyes. Though they had not known each other for long, she still had felt a very strong kinship.

"She swears...if she gets out of scary death-hole alive, she'll tell pretty one how she feels...that she....that she...."


CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW

Whoosh!

Startled, she spun several times on her heels once more before catching again at a hole in the wall. Was something looking for her? Did they actually send someone down to search for her? Catching her pulse in her throat again, she stared upward, seeing the large black figure of something flying overhead. Knowing the sound to be that of the large bird Edgar flew around on, she tucked in her head into her shoulder, crying for a long few moments in realization.

"Ahh! She's sorry Po! She is sorry! She regrets everything she did!"

"They....they didn't forget...They didn't abandon her..." She softly cried, before letting forth her voice call out in mournful, sorrowful and despair-ridden yowls of distress, listening to them echo throughout the chasm. After a few long moments, she saw the beady glossy eyes of the large bird pass nearby her, the whoosh of its large body past her reassuring her once more that they had found her.

"Over here!" She heard a voice call, the sight of a long rope being hurled downwards towards her giving her renewed vigor as she reached out desperately towards it, grabbing taught with the hempen rope that had been tossed down. The material burned against her hands, but she cared not as she stared upwards into the eyes of her family, tears and blood in equal measure blotting out her vision as she forced a smile despite the burning pain.

What a family indeed.

It was going to be alright.

She was going to be alright.
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Epic × 3!
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