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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 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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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 crashed down unto one of the five, having rushed to the main deck and leapt from above. 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 scary battle, 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, who was still wobbling from his painful landing, 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 then 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, and he swung again. 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 send 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 dead 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 sadly.

   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 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Hlaungadath
~ first-day, 21st of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, dusk

As the sun began to lower to the horizon behind them, they could see dunes up ahead in contrast to the generally level salt flats upon which they were now walking. When they reached the dunes, and summited one of them, they realized that they stood on the lip of a crater. They gazed down on a surprisingly preserved city, sitting in the center of this crater.

   "The fallen city of Hlaungadath," said Tavis.

   The architecture reminded them of Thultanthar — pillars, domes, pointed arched windows, and towers.

   "We do not need to pass through the city, do we?" asked Hakam.

   "No," said Tavis, "we could traverse around the lip of this crater and continue east. However, the sun is setting; we should probably at least hike down to one of those smaller buildings on the outskirts for shelter for the night and better defense."

   So they began descending into the basin. As they neared the remains of one of the ruined buildings, a woman's voice called from the second floor. "Alae, travelers. Zank Isis! I am coming down. I mean you no harm." Her accent was not one any of the adventurers had ever heard before.

   The woman appeared at the base of the building, coming out of its preserved arched doorway. She was tall, lean, and very shapely, with brown skin and black hair. She wore layers of simple, thin white shifts or tunics that left one shoulder bare. She had a belt around her wide hips, from which hung a few pouches, a sheathed dagger, and a quiver, and she carried a well-crafted composite shortbow in her left hand.

   "It is far from any civilized land for you to be alone," said Solisar.

   "I was not alone until a few days ago," she said. "My companions were slain. Only I have survived. Forgive me my caution; I must know if you are safe." She waved her hand and spoke a few words in a language that none of them recognized, but Solisar could tell from her somatic components that it was a spell to detect magic.

   "We mean you no harm," said Solisar.

   "...As long as you intend us none," added Hakam.

   "I know zat you are not lamias," she continued, as she approached cautiously. "At least not all of you are. I suspect zat you are a sorcerer as am I, since you have an aura of magic." She looked at Szordrin as she spoke these last words. He did not correct her.

   "What are lamias?" asked Ilthian.

   "Desert vampiresses that eat children," said Hakam with disgust.

   "They are half-women/half-animal creatures of the desert, somewhat like sphinxes," added Leokas, "freak combinations of woman, lion, goat, and deer." Szordrin nodded.

   "No," corrected Belvin, "my tribe once warred with a lamia tribe in the Chondalwood. They are not like sphinxes at all. They are more like centaurs but have a variety of lower bodies. The most powerful among them, their nobles, have the lower bodies of massive serpents. They fight with both weapons and claws and with magic, most often using illusions to deceive their opponents. The most powerful, lamia 'nobles', can even take on human forms. While the ones we fought all appeared female, some say that lamias are hermaphrodites."

   "I am impressed with your knowledge in this area," said Solisar. "I can only add that they take pleasure in causing pain and suffering and that they often know a lot about history and magic and sometimes guard such places. Lamia nobles are usually powerful sorcerers, but all lamias are said to be able to drain the sanity and will of their prey by mere touch. As Belvin said, they favor illusion spells. There are, in fact, male lamias, though this is not known by most scholars."

   "That was a lot to add, actually," said Belvin.

   "Do not touch any women that we might see!" Hakam ordered Kytharrah.

   "I apologize," Solisar said to the woman. "My name is Solisar. These are my companions, Ilthian, Tavis, his son Kaedlaw, Belvin, Leokas, Szordrin, Hakam, and our minotaur Kytharrah. He is friendly."

   "Play?" said Kytharrah.

   "What did I just tell you about women?" said Hakam.

   "Oh," said Kytharrah.

   "My name is Nulara. I am a Mulhorandi sorceress. Until a few days ago — I have lost count — I was a part of an adventuring party, as I assume you also to be. We came from ze east, from ze Old Empires. Our leader was searting for evidence of Mulhorandi artifacts wizin zis Nezerese city, as he believed zat Hlaungadaz traded heavily wiz Mulhorand before the fall of Nezeril. I admit zat I cared primarily for treasure," she added with a smile, "as I imagine zat you understand."

   "Not all of us seek treasure," said Solisar.

   While she was speaking, Hakam walked around behind her and began stabbing his sword into the ground behind her, in case her lower half were only an illusion and her true form extended back behind her. She did not seem to notice this.

   "Why then are you here in Hlaungadaz?" she asked them.

   "It is complicated," said Belvin.

   "We are just passing through," said Solisar. Then he asked Nulara, "What happened to the rest of your party?"

   "As we explored zese ruins, we found a part of the city zat appeared in good condition and settled. We heard ze laughter of women and ze splassing of water. My zree companions, all men, were excited. No ozer women had zey seen in many monzs, and I had no interest in zeir many advances toward me." She drew her dagger out as she said this, revealing a black blade with a serrated edge.

   She continued. "Ze fools russed onward toward ze sound. I followed reluctantly behind zem. We came to a beautiful pool wizin a circle of columns. Six women were bathing. Zey invited my companions to join zem in the water, and ze men stripped their clothing off in a matter of moments, deaf to my warnings, instead telling me zat I sould join also. Ze women surrounded ze men, embraced them, and began kissing zem. Zen ze illusion faded. Ze pool was empty of water, ze columns were broken, and ze 'women' had ze lower bodies of lions. I gasped, and one of zem not entangled wiz her prey bounded at me from ze ruined pool. I sent an arrow zrough her neck and fled, casting a spell to increase my speed to avoid being tased down by a second beast.

   "I care not for ze loss of my companions. Zey were fools, all of zem, and our partnerssip was by contract, not by friendssip. However, ze leader, Dimon, had our map. Wizout it, I have no hope of finding my way back over ze sands or to my home far to ze east after zat. Zank Isis zat you have arrived! Will you help me? I am a fair fighter myself, but I am outnumbered alone."

   "We could probably draw you out a map," said Hakam.

   "It grows dark," said Leokas. "Camp with us this night. We shall discuss amongst ourselves how we might be able to help you, but to be honest, our mission requires haste, so there may not be much we can do for you."

   "I understand," she said.

   Later, around the campfire, Szordrin asked Nulara if she had ever heard of Samber or the Interlink Consortium. She had heard of neither.

   "How did you travel here?" asked Szordrin.

   "We came from ze Sea of Fallen Stars zrough ze Dragon Reats and into ze Moonsea. From zere, we took ze River Tesk to ze Border Forest and ze desert."

   "That is a fine bow you carry," said Leokas. "May I see it?"

   Nulara handed it to him to examine. "It was my fazer's bow," she said. "He was a tariot arter in ze pharoah's army."

   "This has a very high draw weight," said Leokas. "It is a far tighter pull than my own bow!"

   "My fazer was a strong man," she answered.

   Later, they set a watch. Leokas and Kytharrah were first. The others were discussing Nulara within an extradimensional space. (Nulara herself was sleeping in the ruined building from where she had first called to them.)

   "We could escort her further east at least," said Belvin.

   "If we trust her, we could send her back with Tavis when he returns to Hartsvale," said Szordrin.

   "I do not trust her," said Hakam.

   "You do not trust anyone," said Belvin.

   "It is a pity that you no longer have your magics with which to discern her moral alignment," said Szordrin.

   "I do not think that Leokas trusts her either," said Hakam.

   "She gives off a strong magical aura," said Solisar. "She is likely a powerful sorceress, as she admitted. Her dagger specifically gives off a faint necromantic aura."

   "See, she uses necromantic magic," said Hakam.

   "It is probably just a poisonous blade," said Szordrin. "When I tried to detect her thoughts, she resisted having her mind read, but I could tell that her intelligence is slightly above average for a human."

   "Intelligence and magical skill are not crimes, I hope," said Solisar. "Nor is carrying a poisonous blade, is it? Have any of us sensed deception in any of her words?"

   "No," said Szordrin. "In fact, her accounts are exceptionally detailed."

   "I think it is only right that we try to help her then," said Solisar. "Not all strangers we meet are 'werewolves'."

   "Let us decide this matter later," said Belvin. "I am going back down to stay with Kamil."


The next morning, Solisar mixed crushed pink pearl with some elven wine in a glass flask. After drinking it, he identified the magical robe that the gynosphinx had given them and found that it was cursed. "Be thankful that no one tried this robe on!" he said. "It is strongly cursed. It would have drained the wearer of both physical and mental strength, rendering him powerless."

   "While Tavis is packing our camels up for the next leg of our journey," Leokas explained to Nulara, "the rest of us will go with you to where the map was lost. If your gods favor you, the map will still be there."

   "I give you my zanks," said Nulara with a little bow. "It is not too far."

   When they had traveled half the distance, Belvin said, "Before we continue, let me scry on the site or send Krynn. That way, we can avoid a potential ambush."

   "Both are good ideas," said Solisar, "but I think it will be faster and less effort for me to use my own divination magic as at the tanarukk cave rather than build a scrying pool or sending your satyr friend."

   This Solisar did. Soon, he was describing to the others what he was observing out-of-body. The pool was as Nulara had described, surrounded by square-based broken columns. The sand-covered clothing of the three men was scattered about. Dried blood was scattered all over the bottom of the pool, as were larger human bones, likely left behind by the lamias and picked clean by desert scavengers.

   A half-eaten lion appeared to be lying there as well, but as he moved his arcane eye around it, Solisar saw the skeletal remains of what might have been a woman's upper half emerging from where a lion's neck should have been, something like a centaur. Long hair was still stuck to the skull. An arrow was wedged between the vertebrae of the neck.

   "I do not see any lamias present at the pool," said Szordrin. "It should be safe for us. I see many tracks on the ground also, Leokas."

   A few minutes later, they arrived at the pool. Nulara kicked about some of her former companions' clothing. "Dimon's sack is taken," she said. "The lamias must have it. What hope have I of returning home now?"

   "We can direct you safely to the west," said Hakam. "It is only a two-day journey out of the desert, and a few more days beyond that to a place called the Wildlands Rest. From there you can make your way into the Silver Marches."

   "But my home is far to ze east, not to ze west," said Nulara.

   It was not at all difficult for Leokas to find where the lamias had gone. There were three sets of large lion paws and two sets of hooves that were split like deer, sheep, or goats. "These tracks lead to the north," said Leokas, "toward.... What is that?"

   Perhaps an eighth of a mile away, they could see the remains of a spired tower. Beside it, standing precariously on its bow was what could only be a wooden sailing vessel, complete with sails still intact.

   Nulara said, "Before evening fell and we heard ze 'bathers', we had seen zat sip also. It is ze strangest zing; what do you make of it?"

   "I think I know what that is," said Solisar, "and if I am correct, it would well be worth our time to investigate. If the tracks lead that way, perhaps we will also find Nulara's map."

   "It makes no sense," said Nulara. "Hlaungadaz was a flying city. It was one of ze only ones to survive the fall of Nezeril."

   "It could be an illusion made by the lamias," said Szordrin. "Leokas, can you hit something that far away with your bow?"

   "Of course." The wood elf sent an arrow in a high arc. It struck the side of the upended vessel. "It appears solid."

   Moving cautiously, they approached the ship. Its anchor was caught high above on the spired tower. The foremast of the three-masted ship was cracked from driving into pavement and sand, but otherwise, the boat seemed in good condition.

   "How is it preserved like this?" one of them asked.

   "The whole vessel is magical," said Szordrin. "It has a transmutation aura."

   "I believe it is a spelljammer," said Solisar.

   "A spelljammer?"

   "A ship that can sail the Sea of Night," said Solisar. "If we can figure out how to operate it...."

   "Shall I send Ferry up to investigate inside?" asked Szordrin.

   "Ormur," Leokas called, and the magic rope slithered out of the sack that Kytharrah was carrying over his shoulder. "Tie yourself to that railing."

   The rope obeyed, and Leokas began climbing hand over hand. "I will come too!" said Kytharrah.

   Solisar found a feather in his component pouch and clasped it tightly in his left hand as he performed a quick spell. He began to hover off the ground and then rose to fly through the air after Leokas and Kytharrah.

   "You can fly?" exclaimed Szordrin with not a small hint of jealousy in his voice.

   Leokas walked on the side wall of the forecastle to the starboard door. Opening it carefully, he lowered himself down, dropping to the opposite wall. There was tight passage in this wall toward the bow and a door toward the center of the castle. Kytharrah instead opened the door to the forecastle on the port side, finding a mirror image arrangement to what Leokas had found.

   Leokas opened the next door, which swung halfway open and leaned against the foremast, which passed through the decks at this point. He climbed over the door and worked his way into the central room of the forecastle. There were a wooden desk and a chair here, bolted to the floor and perfectly preserved. The chair appeared to have grooves fitted for one's hands, forearms, and skull.

   Solisar floated in behind Leokas. "What do you make of this?" Leokas asked him.

   "I think this is the ship's helm," said Solisar. He flew up to the chair, which hung above them, and using his magic, pressed himself up against it as if sitting. As soon as Solisar's head leaned back into the hollowed out recess, he felt like his whole body was emersed in a warm bath, and he felt nearly overwhelmed with new sensations. He experienced out-of-body perceptions much like some of his divination magics provided, in that he could "see" everyone inside and in the vicinity of the whole ship simultaneously.

   "Position yourself at the corner of the wall and floor and hold on to something," said Solisar. "I am going to try something." With that, he began to will the ship to move, similar to how he had just been willing himself to fly or willing his arcane eye to move. It worked, even more easily than he had expected. On the ground below, Belvin, Hakam, Szordrin, and Nulara watched as the vessel began to rise out of the sand until the bow and broken foremast were free. Then, it began to rotate such that it was soon parallel to the ground. After only a minute of careful maneuvering, Solisar had the ancient craft floating some 20 feet above the ground, ready to sail.

   Leokas walked — now on an actual floor — back outside onto the main deck and called down to the others.

   Belvin dismounted from Kamil, removed his leathers, and shifted into a pteranodon so that he could circle up to the spire and dislodge the anchor. It fell to the earth with a crash. After Belvin succeeded at his task, Kytharrah went down to a lower deck of the ship and began turning the crank to draw the anchor in.

   Hakam and Szordrin stood by below on the ground, waiting.

   "This is amazing," said Leokas. "We will be able to fly back to Tethyr and Calimshan! Or anywhere else!"

   "Lamias!" shouted Nulara.

   Hakam and Szordrin spun around. Passing through an illusiury wall behind them, five lamias were charging toward them.
Session: 89th Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 26 2017 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — The Frozen Sea
Having packed up their gear, they set out again on camelback or foot along the old dwarven road, retracing the steps that Leokas, Belvin, and Kytharrah had earlier taken when scouting. They passed through the old gate and then came to the hills and the two impressive granite griffons guarding the path into the hillside. They entered the cave, following the carefully carved and paved tunnel as it descended down a steady slope.

   They emerged within a hexagonal courtyard of dwarven stonework. The remains of two tall towers still stood outside the courtyard walls. In the time of Delzoun, guards upon these towers would have been able to rain down arrows into the courtyard if ever any enemies managed to come so far through the earlier defenses. One tower was to the northeast of the courtyard; the other was to the southeast.

   They passed through what was left of a small gate in the eastern wall of the courtyard and continued down Ascore's main street. It would have been wide enough in its day to fit four horse carriages side-by-side, but now it was strewn with rubble.

   They continued toward the very center of the ancient city, passing a couple intersecting roads along the way. They saw no signs of life or un-life. Ascore truly was much safer when the sun was shining. Shortly, in the distance they could make out a blackish purple dome, the shadow canopy. Surrounding it, they could see strange red, stone structures. As they grew closer, they could tell that they were tall, five-sided pyramids.

   "I saw these early this morning when I came out from under the canopy," said Hakam. "I do not know what they are, but the color of the stonework reminds me of the magical stones in the outer walls of Memnon."

   "They seem to make a ring around the canopy," said Solisar, "or rather, the canopy was set up within the circle of the pyramids. Is that why the Shadovar are here?"

   "I imagine so," said Hakam. "Chalan was more interested in her mission from Shar than with the ongoing excavation."

   "When you were with Chalan, was the Weave inhibited?" asked Szordrin. "Could you tell if you were in an antimagic field like in Thultanthar?"

   "I did not feel any less healthy from my amulet ceasing to function," said Hakam, "so no, I do not think magic was being suppressed."

   "How many Shadovar are under the canopy?"

   "I am not sure, but I sensed that it was a much bigger, more permanent outpost than the last Shadovar excavation we encountered. Perhaps hundreds?"

   "Maybe the pyramids are more portals of some kind," said Belvin. "I could take the form of a pteranodon and get a closer look."

   "Whatever they may be," said Leokas, "I fear that we are drawing too close to the Shadovar encampment. We should leave the road now and circle around. There is no need to waste time investigating the pyramids."

   So they moved north off the road and through the cluttered mess of what was once a residential district of small stone houses — or rather, entryways. They soon could tell that most of these small structures were composed of a single entry room with a staircase descending into the earth. It seemed that even in a surface-dwarven city, its inhabitants still built their homes down into the earth.

   "I imagine that all of the evil things that come out at night hide themselves under the surface through such means," said Tavis.

   Eventually, they came around and rejoined the main west-to-east road on the other side of the circle of red pyramids. A half mile later they came to the ruins of what may have once been a huge forge or fortress or both. The road ended here, and it took them a little bit of time figuring out how to maneuver around the massive structure. They found that they could traverse counterclockwise between the remains of some other formerly connected buildings and then follow a path between the structure and a large series of walls and towers before reaching a wide staircase that descended to the sand.

   Here they were standing about a story lower than the rest of the city. Tavis and Solisar's eyes lit up when they saw the famous dwarven stone ships. There were about a dozen such ships, each constructed of solid blocks of granite. Even the masts were pillars of stone. Some of the ships were nearby; a few others were half buried in dunes farther off in the distance to the east. Most of them were shattered and broken in some way, but collectively, it was easy to imagine how a whole vessel would have looked in its day. In general shape, they were like wooden sailing vessels, but far more angular. Except for the mast columns, there were no curves at all.

   "It amazes me that such boats once floated," said Tavis, "even if with the help of magic."

   Leokas kicked the sand away at his feet to find more stone pavement. "I think we are standing on one of the docks," he said. "Did they make even their docks out of stone rather than wood?"

   "That there was once a crane or a lift," said Solisar, pointing back. "I think the large building we just walked around was the main forge for the shipyard."

   They did not take the time to explore the stone ships further. Instead, they walked out into the Frozen Sea of Anauroch, heading into the sun.


It was a forty-mile journey over the hardened sands to Hlaungadath. After leaving the stone ships behind, they were making good time in a straight line.

   "A dragon!" exclaimed Leokas, who was always glancing up at the sky as they traveled. "I think it is a blue." He pointed up at the sky. The humans could only make out a tiny dot, but the elves could see the distinctive shape.

   Hakam handed Kytharrah a potion. "This will protect you from the dragon's breath so that you can attack it with your axe," the cleric explained. Kytharrah took the vial happily.

   "We need to spread out," said Szordrin.

   "We could hide in your rope tricks," said Leokas.

   "That dot in the sky is the dragon, yes?" asked Hakam. "If so, it has not turned around. Minotaur, do not drink the vial yet."

   "I believe that it is indeed passing us by," said Tavis, whose massive bow was ready with an arrow nocked. "That is a relief."

   "It could not have been Yrevkethend," said Hakam. "We are too far north."

   "I agree," said Leokas.

   It took a while before they trusted that the dragon was not going to turn and come upon them from behind, but it never did return.


They saw no other travelers or any large animals for the rest of that day, though they did see a few small lizards and rodents in the cool of day and could hear the sound of many insects at night.

   On the second day from Ascore, at mid-morning, they encountered a sphinx, reclining in the morning sun. Leokas spotted the strange creature first, and he recognized it immediately, despite its natural camouflage. The creature was about the size of a large warhorse but more similar in body shape to a giant cat, except that her face was more flattened, even somewhat humanoid in shape, and she had a long mane of hair in addition to the tawny fur covering her whole body. Her breasts were high on her chest and prominent like a primate, rather than distributed down the underside of her torso like a feline. From her back grew a powerful set of falcon-like, feathered wings, which were folded back at her sides as she rested on the ground.

   "There is a sphinx up ahead," he told the others. "The females are not generally evil, but they are nevertheless territorial and dangerous. We should approach with caution."

   When they had drawn closer, Hakam stepped forward and yelled out, "Good morning! Will you allow us to pass through your territory?"

   "Perhaps I shall," she said, with a pleasant, melodic voice, "if I am satisfied after speaking with you. You are, as you have admitted, intruding on my territory."

   "Does your territory include the air above?" asked Belvin.

   "Of course," she said. "Now, come a little closer so that we may all see each other. I am not currently hungry."

   They obeyed.

   Like the time they had first met the brass dragon Sseth or at their strange meeting with the immoth, the gynosphinx wanted first to know what kind of creature all of them were. Having been satisfied with this, she next turned to inquiring if they had seen any sign of androsphinxes in the area.

   "Not to our knowledge," said Hakam.

   "That is disappointing," said the leonine creature, "though typical. As it appears that you will not be able to assist me in finding a mate this season, I shall have to seek payment for your intrusion by other means. I shall ask you to play a game of riddles with me."

   "Also typical," mumbled Belvin.

   "I shall go first," she said.

   "What are the rules" asked Leokas, "if I might ask."

   "The game has no rules; I do not seek to win, nor need you best me to pass. I seek only entertainment as payment. When I feel that I have learned enough to satisfy my desire, then you may continue on your journey.

   "So then, let us begin. I always taste better than I smell. What am I?"

   "A tongue," answered Hakam quickly.

   "Too easy for you, I see," said the sphinx, a smile forming on her feline face. "That means that it is your turn."

   Leokas had one for her immediately.
"Thirty white horses on a red hill —
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still."

   "This is already known to me," said the gynosphinx. "The horses are teeth. However, this riddle does not satisfy me greatly, as the number 30 is species-specific. While I myself have 30 teeth, I believe that you elves and humans have 32."

   "Perhaps this is evidence that it was a sphinx who first invented the riddle and passed it on to the other races," suggested Solisar.

   "An interesting hypothesis indeed," said the gynosphinx. "While I consider that though, let me first leave you with the second of my riddles to solve. I am so delicate that even speaking of me breaks me. What am I?"

   This one took them a little bit longer. The answer came to Hakam and Szordrin at the same time. "Silence!" they said together.

   "Well done," said the gynosphinx. "If I could stand upon my hind legs as you do, I would clap my paws for you. Now it is your turn. I hope that you can give me one I do not know this time."

   "I learned one from my sister long ago," said Solisar.
"We are little airy creatures,
All of different voice and features.
One of us in glass is set.
One of us you'll find in jet.
Another you may see in tin.
And the fourth a box within.
If the fifth you should pursue,
It can never fly from you."

   "I see your group has a penchant for riddles that are also rhymes," said the gynosphinx. "Let me see...." She closed her eyes and was quiet.

   "Alas! I do not know," she said after several silent minutes. "You have stumped me. Well done. I must know the answer."

   "They are the five vowels," said Solisar.

   "I understand the other riddles," said Ilthian, "but I do not understand this one."

   "Once you learn how to spell the words 'glass', 'jet', 'tin', box', and 'you', I am confident that you will understand," he told her.

   "You can swallow me, but if you do not, I shall swallow you," said the sphinx. "What am I? That is my third riddle for you."

   This one caused the party the most difficulty, but in the end, Szordrin figured it out. "You are pride."

   "Again, well done, bearded man. Do you have another for me."

   "I do," said Szordrin. "A gnome is at home in his house within the hill. He hears a knock on the door and the voice of his fellow gnome calling. 'I have a guest and I must serve him dinner. Could you spare some food from your stores for me, friend?' In his storeroom, the first gnome has a sack of roots, a box of salted goat meat, and a bottle of raspberry mead. What does he open first?"

   "Ah," said the sphinx, "this riddle seeks to distract me with details when the answer is obvious. The gnome must first open the door to let his friend in. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story.

   "You are all so skilled at solving my riddles, I shall now present you with one so challenging that I myself could not solve it, nor could I even understand its meaning when the answer was told me. I learned it only yesterday when a strange, dog-headed creature with red fur trespassed in my territory as you have this morning.

   "Here it is: A father and his young son each steal an apple from the market. It is the day before the son's fifteenth birthday. They are caught and punished. On the next day, they each steal an apple again. Once again, they are caught and punished. Four apples were stolen; how many severed hands are in the punisher's basket?"

   "Three," said Hakam, without the slightest hesitation.

   The others stared at him confused. "How...?"

   "On the first day," explained Hakam, "the son is a child, for he has not reached the age of majority. Thus, his father bears the full weight of the crime, and only he receives the punishment and loses his hand. On the second day, as both are adults, both pay for their crimes."

   "That seems less a riddle and more a subtle detail of Calishite law," said Belvin.

   "The laws in Calimshan are strict!" said Tavis.

   "You have given the correct answer," said the gynosphinx. "I am glad now that I have been told a full explanation of its meaning. A strange riddle indeed!"

   She suddenly rose up to stand upon her legs, stretched her lean form, and then moved to the side. They could see now that she had been lying over a small chest. "So pleased have I been from our conversation together that I will gift you with this treasure I took from a band of caravanners who I found more appetizing than mentally stimulating. It contains no small amount of coins and some items of magic as well. Please take it with you as you depart from my territory."

   They thanked her and gladly accepted their reward. "I like presents!" said Kytharrah. The minotaur opened the chest as Szordrin stood close by. It contained perhaps 100 platinum coins and ten times as many gold coins and included a few precious stones as well. It also included three scrolls, a magic wand, and an ornate robe.

   Hakam stepped past Szordrin and handed the scrolls to Solisar to read. "You have been getting a more than fair amount of the magic items we have found recently," the cleric said to Szordrin. "I think that you should get last pick this time."

   "What are they?" Szordrin asked Solisar.

   "This one is for portal analysis, a spell with which we are both familiar." The sun elf rolled open the second scroll. "This one... has three separate spells. The first is for the detection of secret passages. The second... is simply a cantrip for how a wizard can leave his or her own arcane mark, which of course any wizard knows from the first days of wizard school. This third spell is another basic one; it opens or closes any mundane door." He closed up that scroll and took the third. "Here we have a spell to scatter small objects violently by means of telekinesis and... one to grant the splendor of an eagle to the caster."

   "I would not have picked those scrolls anyhow," Szordrin said to Hakam.

   "There are still the wand and robe," said Hakam.

   "The wand is of course magical," said Solisar. "It has an aura indicative of the abjuration school of magic. The robe is also magical. It has a moderate aura of transmutation."

   "I propose that we save further identification of the treasure until we camp tonight," said Tavis. "We still have many miles to cover today."

   So they thanked the sphinx for the chest and for her permission to pass and continued on their way.

   Once they were far enough to no longer be heard by her, Solisar asked Hakam, "I think there is more to the last 'riddle' of the sphinx than you admitted in her presence. Who or what was this 'dog-headed creature with red fur' that visited the sphinx just yesterday?"

   "There is no need for any worry regarding the hound creature," said Hakam. "This has all been a sign from Anachtyr. He has heard my prayers and is teaching me the fullness of my misdeeds."
Session: 89th Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 26 2017 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Chapter 4 — A Pleasant Morning Surprise
Belvin ran off after his fleeing camel, as the others stood around the remains of the earthen monster that had attacked them. It had a very narrow waist for its bulky chest, short but powerful jumping legs, very long arms, and only four fingers or toes on the end of each limb.

   "What was this thing?" asked Szordrin. "Some sort of elemental? or golem? Its body is made of clay, not flesh."

   "I cannot hear you!" shouted Kytharrah.

   "Ah! Do not shout!" said Szordin. "We are right here."

   "I think the sonic attack of the monster deafened him," said Solisar. "I do not know what kind of monster this was, but I agree that an elemental seems likely. Are you all right, Leokas?"

   Leokas shook his head as if to clear his mind. "I am now. I do not know what happened to me. I felt like my heart stopped for a moment."

   "Did that thing kiss you?" asked Szordrin.

   "I would rather not talk about it," said Leokas.

   Belvin rode up, returned to elven form, riding his now-calmed camel. "Now I once again owe you my life," said the wood elf to the wild elf.

   Belvin shrugged. "I stopped keeping track," he said. With that he offered his healing to those who needed it.

   "Can you hear me now?" Solisar asked Kytharrah.

   "You are very quiet!" Kytharrah said loudly.

   Solisar now looked to the others. "I am concerned that we have traveled beyond the range of the magical alarm I left around our camp. If something were to come upon Ilthian or the giant-kin in our absence, I do not think we would have warning of it any longer. Moreover, we are growing low on spells."

   "Are you proposing that we go back?" said Szordrin. "If so, I am in agreement. I already complained that this was a bad idea to begin with."

   "We are not giving up on Hakam, Szordrin," said Leokas. "However, the dangers here are indeed great, as we were warned. We may need to return and rest for the remainder of the night, but on the other hand, Hakam may be close yet."

   "The night is already half-spent," said Szordrin.

   "It is not our fault that you humans require more rest than elves," said Belvin.

   "Let us continue just a little farther at least," said Leokas. "I think there are more intact structures up ahead than any we have yet seen."

   The buildings ahead indeed had four intact walls. Only the roofs were missing. They were otherwise empty, however.

   "The tracks split here," said Leokas. "Some continue on the road; others move off to the left, heading east."

   "We can split up," said Belvin.

   "That would be too dangerous," said Solisar. "Can we get back to this place quickly tomorrow and continue to follow the tracks?"

   "I am sure of it," said Leokas. "They will be much easier to track in the daylight, unless there is a sandstorm in the morning, but I sense that natural sandstorms are not common in this region of Anauroch."

   "Even if we were to catch up with the kidnappers tonight," said Solisar, "would we be able to defeat them?"

   "There are only a dozen or so of them," said Leokas. "I am sure that we could take them."

   "Even if they are shades? Remember the powers of shadow that Uregaunt had."

   "They have spent a great deal of their magics already this night to capture Hakam," said Leokas.

   "True, but if they are shades, they will be far weaker in the daylight."

   "As long as Kamil is content, I am happy with whatever we decide," said Belvin.

   They all agreed to return to the camp. Tosvin was still up waiting for them by his son's tent. He rose to his full towering height. "You are back! You could not retrieve Hakam?"

   "We believe that he has been taken by shades from Thultanthar," said Leokas.

   "Why?" asked Tavis.

   "We do not know why," said Solisar.

   "I do not think I even know what shades or Thultanthar are," said the firbolg.

   They briefly explained the city of the Shadovar to him.

   "Did you encounter any of them? You were gone many hours."

   They described their encounters with the hags, the desiccated zombies, and the unknown creature of earth with its sonic attacks. "We plan to try again to find him in the morning. If they are the Shadovar, perhaps they will be open to negotiation, as we have dealt with them before."

   "I tried to warn you that Ascore is dangerous at night," said Tavis. "If you had not returned, you would have put me in a difficult situation. I would certainly have come after you. It would be my duty as a firbolg even if you had not become my friends over this long journey, but with my son in my care, I would have had to return to Hartsvale with him first before coming back here to find you or your bodies, if even possible. My wife is not so powerful to raise the dead, even if a body is found, and she is one of the most powerful clerics in my kingdom."

   "It is already the last watch," said Solisar. "Since I wear my ring, it makes sense for me to keep the final watch. The rest of you should get what rest you can. Dawn will soon be here."

   "There is no need for us to rise early," said Tavis, "except for those of you who must pray for our magics. Sleep longer if you must. You will have a better chance of finding and rescuing our friend if you are well-rested."


At dawn, Belvin arose to pray to Thard Harr. As he meditated, there was Hakam, walking into the camp! He was wearing a dark purple cloak over his Calishite clothing but otherwise looked the same.

   "Good morning," said the cleric to the druid. "I am surprised to find you here. I feared that you would all be foolhardy and come to chase me in the night."

   Before Belvin could respond, Ilthian dropped down out of the interdimensional space and called out, "Hakam! You are back! What happened?"

   "I am back, yes," he said, stepping back to avoid a hug. "I will wait until the others are up, lest I have to tell my story repeatedly, but I am unharmed, so there is no need to be concerned."

   Soon, everyone was gathered around him, anxious to hear what had happened.

   "I was abducted by Chalan," Hakam began, "the priestess of Shar with whom we are all acquainted. It was an ill-guided endeavor."

   "How did you escape?" asked Szordrin.

   "I did not escape. I was released. Except for the matter of the kidnapping itself, I was treated as a guest."

   "Is it a strange human custom to kidnap one's guests?" asked Belvin.

   "Chalan wanted to talk with me alone and did not believe either that I would come willingly or that you would permit her to take me. She also seemed to want the matter kept hidden from her own superiors."

   "She wanted to talk with you?" asked Szordrin. "About what?"

   "Apparently, Shar has been sending Chalan visions about Samber, seeking to learn more about him."

   "Samber must have drawn Shar's attention to him when he visited Thultanthar," said Solisar.

   "Yes, and when he learned about the Shadow Weave," said Hakam.

   "Why were you the only one taken?" asked Belvin. "We all have as much a connection to Samber as you do."

   "Her visions included me particularly," Hakam explained. "Chalan foresaw my coming to this very ruins. She saw me passing between the two griffon statues farther down the road from here. She was waiting for my arrival. It was her you saw scrying on me, Solisar. Chalan — and Shar — thought that I might be 'Ramseb'. Moreover, Chalan sensed that my powers are denied me; she tried to convert me to serve her dark goddess."

   "Did it work?" asked Belvin.

   "Of course not!"

   "What did you admit to her?" asked Szordrin.

   "Very little," Hakam replied. "Simply basic information about Samber. I did not even mention the fact that he was creating his own followers or seeking godhood. I only gave her his true name, as we suspect it, and the fact that he now knows the power of the Shadow Weave, which is already known to Shar of course.

   "She tried to steal more thoughts from my mind," Hakam continued, "but I resisted her attempt."

   "How do we know that you are really Hakam?" said Szordrin.

   "He has no other magical auras than when last I detected them," said Solisar.

   Szordrin placed his hand on Hakam's shoulder and zapped him with a small jolt of electricity.


   "You are not an illusion, it seems," said Szordrin.

   Kytharrah was bored with all of the talking and gave a more customary greeting. He pulled the small man into a bear hug. "Smells okay," he reported, as if in justification.

   "Get off me, you oaf! I am not your plaything."

   Kytharrah's nostrils flared over Hakam's hair, and a curious expression came over his face. "Also smells like... her," he said.

   "Who is 'her'?" asked Szordrin.

   "Who is 'her'?" asked Ilthian. She moved closer to smell Hakam's hair for herself.

   "How exactly did you gain your freedom again, Hakam?" said Solisar with a smirk.

   "It was as I told you already!" the cleric exclaimed. "She released me willingly. Chalan did not have the permission of her superiors, so it was necessary that she keep me secret in her own tent until morning. I did no untoward thing!"

   "I still do not understand," said Ilthian. "Why does your hair smell like perfume?"

   "It must have been on her pillow on which she gave me to rest," said Hakam. "It is insignificant!"

   "Do you think that the Shadovar will follow us further after this?" asked Solisar. "Was Chalan satisfied by your answers?"

   "I do not think that she was pleased with my answers, but I do not foresee her trying again. Nevertheless, she advised that we avoid the shadow canopy that they have set up at the center of the city ruins."

   "What is a shadow canopy?" asked Tavis, who till now had not interrupted what was clearly a personal matter among the adventurers.

   When they explained it to him, he said, "That reminds me of the shadow of the Twilight Vale, where the Twilight Spirit, Lanaxis, made his abode."

   "I see the similarity," said Solisar, "but I do not think that the Shadovar or Shar were allied with either Lanaxis or Othea. I surmise that the similarities are circumstantial."

   "You are probably correct," said Tavis. "Well, I share the joy of young Kytharrah here in finding you alive this morning, Hakam. Since we are all awake now anyway, I propose we break camp and see what Ascore has to see in the daylight hours, shall we?"
Session: 89th Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 26 2017 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Ascore , Chapter 4 , Recap
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