Recent Posts For Tag: Chapter 5

Popular tags:
Back to all Posts (See More...)
← Previous 1 3 4 5 6 7
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Carnage
"It is worth it for us to keep going forward in the dark, if we can manage it again," said Hakam.

   "I agree," said Solisar. "There is a slight chance that an alarm has not yet been sounded, if we are still far enough away from the main caverns of this 'palace'."

   So they continued for a bit farther as they had been doing before, with Szordrin walking quietly on the ceiling ahead with Kytharrah below him, while the others stayed a good distance farther back. The tiefling and the minotaur rounded an S-curve, and the others stopped and waited for a report. Szordrin could see that the passage widened ahead of them significantly, but it was hard for him to make out many details, as darkvision perceived differences in warmth, and most everything in this damp cavern was cool. There was some debris scattered all over the cave floor ahead, which did not seem natural. Some of it was reflective.

   He heard Kytharrah sniff and glanced directly down, that is, tilting his head back. His furred companion tapped his nose and flared his nostrils. Szordrin climbed down the wall to meet him. "Weird food and dead things," Kytharrah whispered, pointing deeper into the tunnel ahead.

   "Wait here," said the wizard. "Stand guard." He walked along the floor back to Solisar and the others and reported what Kytharrah had smelled.

   "'Weird food,'" said Belvin. "He means spices. He smells the Calishite mummy."

   "I agree with Belvin's assessment," said Hakam. "El Sadhara's perfumes were overwhelming. Does this mean that she is still here?"

   "In any case," said Szordrin, "the path immediately ahead is clear; it is safe to advance. I cannot make out things very clearly, even with my darkvision; we will need to risk a light."

   They moved around the bend. "Solisar, the torch," said Hakam. The elf came closer to the cleric, and the light revealed several splotches of dark, dried blood on the stone floor and wall. Bones were scattered everywhere, mixed with sundered weapons, shields, and armor.

   Leokas picked up a severed bone. "A thigh bone, I think," said Leokas, "but much too large to be a hobgoblin or even a bugbear. It is also very old, completely clean."

   "This is a human skull, is it not?" said Szordrin, pointing.

   Kytharrah had found a very large skull with horns, with a similar curve to his own. A minotaur. What had killed it? He glanced around nervously and sniffed.

   "Pajabbar," said Hakam, remembering the fact that el Sadhara had undead minotaurs in her service, the animated remains of the shock troops from Calim's armies.

   "Can you do anything about these bones before they are reanimated again?" Solisar asked Hakam.

   "We could grind them all to dust," he answered, "but I do not think that we have the time for that. I can certainly destroy them if they do become animated. You need not fear skeletons when in my presence."

   "Why are you still holding that skull?" asked Szordrin of Kytharrah.

   Kytharrah snapped off a horn and slid it behind the belt of his kilt, the one sewn for him by Ilthian. "Remember," said Kytharrah.

   Belvin gave him a large smile. For once, someone else in the party was collecting trophies.

   "I am going to scout farther ahead," said Szordrin. "Wait here." Kytharrah drew his axe and continued glancing around nervously with ears perked.

   Leokas motioned Kytharrah over. "Smell this," the wood elf ordered, indicating a large patch of dried blood on a large stone.

   "Goblin smell," said Kytharrah.

   "As I suspected," said Leokas.

   "We know that an undead army was seen coming this way by our dragon friend," said Solisar. "This carnage must be the result of the battle that was fought."

   "Yes," said Hakam, "these are 'dead' skeletons from her army. She had both human and minotaur skeletons. I recall that they were too stupid to even warn her of our presence when we entered the mummy's lair."

   "Where are the goblin bodies?" asked Belvin. "Were they victorious?"

   Szordrin had not been long. "Nothing at all down this first tunnel," he said. "It narrows after 20 yards or so and is impassible beyond that." Two more tunnels branched off from this cavern chamber where the battle had taken place. Szordrin went off down the second. The others continued examining the broken weapons. Some of them were goblin weapons, Leokas was convinced; some of the others were ancient looking, and Hakam was sure that they were Calishite craftsmanship.

   They also examined the structure of the chamber. The wall to their left was not a true wall; it was a row of massive boulders and thick columns with a few gaps between, but there were several spots where one might squeeze through to the other side.

   Szordrin came back again. "There is something moving just ahead, perhaps about 50 feet down the tunnel."

   "Fifty feet?" said Hakam. "Surely it will have heard us?"

   "It is humanoid, larger than a human," said Szordrin.

   "Bugbears, then," said Hakam. "They are larger." Leokas nodded in agreement.

   "I shall get a better report," said Szordrin, "but first a little magic." He recited the final words of an incantation and became invisible.

   Belvin drew his magic scimitar, and Leokas his bow. Kytharrah began wandering toward the other end of the chamber, where the final tunnel began. "Come back!" Hakam hissed at him.

   The minotaur obeyed. "Weird food is that way," he explained, once he returned to Hakam's side.

   Solisar was startled when he heard a whisper to his right. "Eight bugbears. Three of them are lying down. They are in a large chamber with no other exits. Lots of bedrolls and supplies scattered about. I was not detected."

   "They must be deaf," muttered Hakam. "We have been loud and not careful enough with our lights."

   "Can you shape the walls to trap them in?" came Szordrin's whispers again. "As we did with the Red Worm?"

   "I did not ask Thard Harr for such power this morning," said Belvin.

   "Nor is it in my power today either," said Hakam.

   "Did you not know that we would be entering a cave?" said Szordrin's voice.

   "I do, however, have the power to create a wall of stone from nothing," said Hakam, smiling. "My magics have somewhat improved since the last time we have been underground."

   "These are mere goblins;" said Leokas, "we do not need magic! I can drop one per arrow and can loose 30 arrows per minute."

   "It only takes a matter of seconds to sound an alarm," said Szordrin. "We may not have a minute."

   "If there are only eight, I do not even need half a minute," protested Leokas.

   "You may be overconfident," said Hakam. "Bugbears are larger than normal goblins or even hobgoblins."

   "I have slain goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears alike," said Leokas.

   "I repeat," said Szordrin, "all it takes is for one to raise an alarm. Who knows how large the hordes of Allu are."

   "Or were," said Belvin. "We still do not know which of our foes were victorious in this battle." He motioned at all of the bones and blood around them.

   "Bugbears are not very smart," said Hakam. "They would have to have an elaborate system set up to sound an alarm to another part of this cavern complex, would they not?"

   "To be fair, goblins are tricky, though," admitted Leokas. "They often do have traps and mechanisms for sounding alarms to others in their caves. My argument is that I could down all eight before they could respond, so it matters not."

   "Your skill at the bow is the greatest ever I have seen," said Hakam. "Nevertheless, I have seen you miss. No, it might be better for us to explore a bit more before acting. I am concerned about what lies on the other side of these columns here."

   "I could send Ferry," said Szordrin. "He is as invisible as I and even more stealthy."

   So Ferry scurried through one of the tiny gaps between the thick stone columns of the wall behind them, though none of them could see this. They all stood ready for an attack as they waited for Szordrin to speak again. After several minutes, they heard some squeaking and assumed that Ferry must have returned. "Ferry says that there are several more wide passages on the other side. Directly on the other side was an area with a great amount of rubble, like the cavern had collapsed there. When he went to the left, he found a place with smelly food and kitchen tools. When he came back and continued down the right path, the tunnel forked, but he could see 'built things' and tools and such. He did not see anything alive, but there were more bones and more blood. He did not want to be gone too long, lest I worry, so he came back as quickly as he could and did not explore all of the tunnels."

   "Let us decide what to do then?" said Belvin, who was growing impatient. "Clearly, the mummy was victorious here. We came for the fire genie, not the mummy."

   "These bugbears might not be loyal to Allu," suggested Hakam. "Perhaps they defected. Maybe that is why el Sadhara's troops spared them. Or maybe that is why they have not attacked."

   "Perhaps it is best to capture and interrogate them then," said Szordrin.

   "Play?" asked Kytharrah.

   "We only need capture one alive," said Leokas.

   "The only reason why I am hesitant," said Hakam, "is that they are not attacking."

   "They do not know that we are here!" said Leokas. "Otherwise, the fiends would be upon us."

   "Bored!" said Kytharrah.

   "I do not know," said Hakam. "Something is not right."

   "Go speak with them then!" said Leokas. "Shout out for a parley. They will try to kill you in response."

   "I will advance to speak with them," said Hakam. "If any come at me, I will be ready to create a wall of stone, but I will leave a gap at the top. You can pick them off if they try to climb over the top."

   "Goblin blood will fall," said Leokas.

   Hakam enchanted his tongue to speak Ghukliak, and then they all advanced. All of them walked down the middle of the tunnel, and the magic torch that Solisar held lit the stone enough that it would have been impossible for the bugbears not to notice, yet none came out to meet them. "Foul creatures and servants of evil," called Hakam in the Goblin tongue, "you will speak with us as we will, or you shall meet swift deaths."

   There was no response. They could see the five standing bugbears now; the nearest was just over ten yards away. They did not even turn. The smell from the room ahead was awful.

   Then, Hakam took one more step closer, and it was as if this triggered some signal, for all five standing bugbears suddenly turned, raised their arms in front of them and began approaching, while making deep moaning sounds. One of the bugbears was missing an eye. Another's arm was only half attached. A third had a deep gash in its skull, its pointed ear dangling.

   "Zombies," said Solisar.

   "Leokas, how flammable are bugbears?" asked Belvin in Elvish. Not waiting for an answer, he began chanting.

   "This is not worth your magic nor my arrows," said Leokas. "They already have a fate worse than death."

   Hakam reached for his holy symbol and began praying, but the first undead bugbear was nearly upon him, shambling forward, morningstar in hand. Szordrin became visible, as he drew his dagger and swatted the bugbear's large, festering hand away from touching Hakam. Then, a column of fire erupted upon the bugbears, but Belvin's spell did not stop their advance, though it scorched black much of their rotting skin. "A wall betwixt us!" shouted Hakam, and instantly there was a thin wall of granite between them and the undead goblinoids. The wall left a five foot gap between it and the ceiling fifteen feet above.

   They could hear the creatures clawing and scratching against the stone on the other side, combined with their pitiful moaning.

   "It is a shame that the wall does not block their stench," said Belvin.

   "Well, we will not be interrogating these," said Leokas. "Let us go." He turned to walk away.

   "They had a large chest," said Szordrin. "It could contain valuables."

   "Feel free to go retrieve it, then."

   Hakam held up his holy symbol. "Anachtyr rebuke all of you," he said confidently, speaking toward the wall that he created, as Szordrin spider-climbed up the natural wall to the ceiling. "It worked, Hakam," Szordrin called down. "They are all cowering in the far corner."

   "Be quick then," said Hakam.

   Szordrin had a scroll out and tried to read from it, but he nearly lost his grip on the ceiling in the casting. The scroll dropped to the ground, its words fading into nothing. "Curse this mithral shirt!" he cried. "They are turning around," he then reported.

   "Anachtyr rebuke you!" Hakam repeated.

   "Minotaur, climb the wall!" commanded Szordrin.

   Kytharrah, delighted to be needed, was over the wall in seconds and landed firmly on his hooves on the other side.

   "Get the chest!"

   The minotaur obeyed. The large chest was nothing for him to carry, and he slung it over one of his broad shoulders.

   "Behind you!" called down Szordrin.

   Kytharrah spun around and stuck one of the zombies with his axe one-handed. It practically exploded into decaying body parts. A few moments later, Kytharrah set the chest down on the other side of the wall again before the others.

   Solisar examined the chest for traps, and when he found none, Szordrin opened it. There was a large amount of gold and silver coins inside. Mixed in were a couple items as well: a jar of oil and an ivory bust of an ugly female bugbear goddess or shaman.

   Szordrin handed his wand of magic detection to Solisar. "Use this and see if these are magical."

   The jar of oil was, emitting a transmutation aura. The bust had no aura, but ivory sold for a good prize in most places. They had Kytharrah carry the chest back to the rowboat. In the meantime, they returned to the S-curve of the tunnel, where they had first entered the larger chamber with all of the bones and dried blood, and they waited, taking this chance to eat some rations and drink from their waterskins.

   "Do you think that the minotaur could move that boulder over there for us to pass through to where Ferry went?" asked Hakam.

   "I do not think even a minotaur could move that stone," said Leokas.

   "When he returns," said Solisar, "we should continue down that remaining tunnel, once again dousing our light."

   "I am beginning to believe that nothing is left alive in this cave," said Hakam. "No doubt, el Sadhara zombified any survivors and commanded the undead to stand guard. They have no minds, so they cannot go beyond their precise orders. That is why they only attacked once we stepped into the exact area that they were instructed to defend."

   "Presummably, we shall find Allu's chamber nevertheless and with it some clues regarding Samber," said Solisar hopefully.

   When Kytharrah finally returned, panting like a dog from his excursion, they had him try to push the boulder. Indeed, he could not budge it. So, they readied themselves. Szordrin once again took his place on the ceiling among the stalactites, and Kytharrah moved forward below him sniffing, while the others held back, waiting for a signal.

   The remaining tunnel immediately turned sharply to the right, running almost parrallel to the one heading to the bugbears' chamber. On the left side, there were occasional openings, and Kytharrah peeked through to see another spatious chamber on the other side, but these cracks in the wall were not large enough for him or even a smaller human to pass through. He was able to spot a weapon rack on the other side, but it had been knocked over, and the spears were scattered on the ground.

   With each step down this tunnel, the smell of "weird food" grew more intense to his nose. It was a variety of smells, some of which he had smelled on some human or elven women, but others were definitely more food-like.

   After nearly 100 feet, the tunnel gradually curved to the left, narrowing slightly to a width of about ten feet. Here, there was an opening in the left wall. Beyond that, about 40 feet from him, Kytharrah saw three humanoids, standing in a row. They were curvy, like the females of many races, but their faces were veiled, so he could not be sure. Whoever or whatever they were, they each wore chain shirts and silken pants and sleeves. They had thin cloaks upon their shoulders and bore a pair of amulets about their necks. They each carried a large metal shield and a heavy mace.

   Kytharrah raised his axe in defense.

   The three figures did not charge, but one of them called out in a loud, feminine voice.

   Farther down the tunnel behind Kytharrah, Hakam, still under the influence of his tongues spell, understood the shout as a single word.

   "Rise!"
Session: 95th Game Session - Wednesday, Oct 25 2017 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Back Door
~ sixth-day, 6th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, afternoon
Sea of Swords


The spelljammer splashed down in the waves west of great cliffs that formed the edge of Calimshan. Nearby was the remains of a shipwreck, its rotting mass still jutting out of the water, a sign of the rocks hidden below. Kytharrah dropped their anchors. Solisar did not have the power to make the whole vessel invisible; they prayed to their gods that the dragon would not patrol over the ocean while they were away. Ilthian, who remained aboard, would be safe from scrying below deck, but she would be helpless if a dragon landed on the deck and crashed its head and neck through the planks to find her. Belvin wanted to stay aboard, having little interest in the fire genie, but the others convinced him to come. He agreed, provided that they would return to the boat and Kamil soon.

   As they had done last Mirtul, the six adventurers all crammed into one of their small rowboats and began making their way toward the shallow entrance of a sea cave in the cliff. The tide was relatively low, and there was a narrow strip of land at the base of the cliff leading to the cave entrance. When last they had come to this "back door" to Yrevkethend's lair and Allu's palace, they had had to find a small inlet under an outcropping in the cliff to wait out the tide. Tymora had worked things out better for them this time, and they did not need to wait long before there was a walk-able sand "pathway". They tied up the rowboat in the same lee as before and set out.

   Ducking, they entered the cave entrance, which was only five feet high but about thirty wide. At first, the floor was covered with sand, sloping downward, before being replaced with endless barnacles, which crunched under their feet and hooves. The passage narrowed but also grew higher, so that even Kytharrah could no longer touch the ceiling.

   It was chilly in the cave, and water was dripping on them from the ceiling, as if it were raining. Kytharrah sniffed, taking in the smell of crabs, dead sea creatures, and salt.

   Each noisy step was disturbing to Szordrin, who was well aware that a dragon, with exceptional hearing, lived deeper within. "Remind me why we are even here again?" he asked. "What does this have to do with Walker or Samber?"

   "We have discussed this numerous times," said Hakam. "Finding Allu may be a good way to find Samber or at least learn what connection they have."

   "The Rock of Bral would have been a safer bet."

   "We will go there soon enough," said Hakam. "I have my suspicions that Allu is allied with or was summoned by Samber. We know that he has summoned other evil fiends, and we know his great interest in experimenting with other genies. We now have the power to find out and should not waste our opportunity."

   "The dragon never detected us when we last came this way," said Leokas, "if that is your concern. She lairs much deeper in the cave."

   "Sseth told us that Allu's palace is at least a mile from the cliffs," said Solisar. "This cave is massive and we have a long way to travel."

   "It is growing darker now," said Hakam. "Recall that I cannot see as well in the dark as the rest of you. If I recall, that means the fork in the tunnel should be soon where we can head up to Allu and away from the dragon's lair. We need to decide on a plan. Do we boldly march in and demand an audience? Or are we trying to remain undetected?"

   "If we were demanding an audience with the efreeti, would we not have used the front door?" said Solisar. "We are scouting things out first, especially if this mummy of which you have spoken to me has her forces here. Shall I turn all of us invisible?"

   "We should wait until we encounter any enemies, rather than waste the magic," said Hakam.

   "We cannot use any light if we wish to remain undetected," said Szordrin.

   "The corners of the cavern will block the light from traveling far, provided that it twists enough," said Leokas. "These walls are not very reflective."

   So they had Kytharrah withdraw his everburning torch. The light revealed a fork in the path ahead, just as Hakam had remembered. One tunnel went up, while the other twisted down. The tunnel that ascended was significantly narrower than the one leading down. They knew that the smaller tunnel led to Allu.

   Szordrin poked his head up the smaller tunnel and saw that it actually grew larger rather quickly after a short distance to be about a dozen feet in width and nearly twice that in height.

   "I will scout ahead, then," said Szordrin, looking back at the others, "walking on the ceiling. Kytharrah can follow a distance behind me, since he can also see in the darkness. If I spot any activity, I shall signal back to him, and then the rest of you can take action to hide any lights."

   This seemed as good a plan as any. So Kytharrah handed his "guiding light" to Solisar, and Szordrin cast his spell and climbed the wall up to the ceiling by his four limbs and began moving forward among the stalactites. "Tracks," said Leokas, bending down and noticing a pattern in the broken barnacles that none of the rest of them would have been able to spot. "Hobgoblins stepped on these barnacles."

   Kytharrah bent down and sniffed them.

   "Minotaur, you are supposed to be following behind Szordrin, not sniffing things," said Hakam.

   Kytharrah bounded forward.

   Thankfully, they soon climbed above the level of the water at high tide, and so the barnacles vanished. The ground was still a bit damp, but the "raining" also ceased.

   The tunnel continued relatively straight for what seemed like forever, reminding Belvin and Leokas of one of their earlier adventures together. They walked perhaps thirty minutes at a gradual incline. "So much for twisting tunnels blocking our light," said Belvin. Finally, however, the tunnel did begin to curve to the right and then again to the left, and Szordrin disappeared from their sight around the corner. Hakam took this moment to call on Anachtyr to grant him the ability to sense his environment without the need for his eyes, just in case Szordrin signaled back that they needed to douse their light. It proved to be a wise decision.

   The tunnel finished its ess curve and then made another. Kytharrah was just about to round the second corner, when Hakam could "hear" the incorporeal shape of someone or something next to the minotaur.

   "Minotaur! To your left!" he shouted.

   Leokas reacted to this before even Kytharrah did, loosing two arrows to the left of their friendly beast in hopes of striking whatever invisible enemy Hakam had sensed. The arrows were deflected into the wall of the passage as if blown by a strong gale. Moments later, two gusts of wind in rapid succession struck Leokas with an extreme force, knocking him back and nearly off his feet.

   With a firm command, Solisar enchanted his own eyes, and Belvin yelled out a jungle call, followed by pointing toward Leokas. The wood elf began to glow with a red aura. So did his invisible opponent, an only vaguely humanoid shape. The red-glowing foe was struck from above by several bursts of magical force from Szordrin's fingertips.

   "Anachtyr protect us!" shouted Hakam, while holding his shield ready.

   Now able to see the outline of the foe, Kytharrah charged with his axe to rescue his elven friend, swinging into the red aura. He struck something at least partly solid, almost spongy. Whatever it was, it had no odor at all. It moved quickly. He hit it a second time with his axe, but when he swung his large head down to catch it with its horns, it had moved too far away. Two arrows flew wildly, as Leokas jumped backward and tried to fight back, but two more blasts of invisible force struck him, and he dropped to his knees, with the wind knocked out of him, and gasped for air.

   Solisar waved his arms, sending a magical burst through the tunnel, and the red aura vanished, or rather dissipated, into nothing. The short battle was over.

   Kytharrah helped his red-glowing friend to his feet, and Belvin and Hakam rushed over to heal him with their magics.

   "Thank you," said Leokas. "I can breathe now. What manner of creature was that?"

   "An elemental from the Plane of Air," said Solisar. "To me, it appeared like an amorphous cloud. Belvin's faerie fire was a brilliant idea."

   Belvin nodded.

   "A stalker," said Szordrin. "Did not you others face one before I joined you?"

   "I would rather not recall it," said Hakam. "It broke my leg."

   "Was this an accidental encounter then?" asked Szordrin. "Or has it been stalking us this whole time?"

   "We would have noticed earlier," said Belvin. "It was guarding the entrance."

   "The last one certainly had been stalking us," said Hakam. "It spoke as much in its tongue. Mythlos could speak Auran. It was sent by El Sadhara."

   "It is at least possible that it is in fact the same one," said Solisar. "You cannot kill such a being unless on its native plane. It may have come back to finish its mission or been summoned by her a second time."

   "I agree that it is probably one of the mummy's minions," said Hakam, "but I suspect that Belvin is correct that it was here to guard the back entrance, not to pursue us in general. She only followed us to get to Samber, and she has him."

   "If that is the case," said Solisar, "it suggests that she has conquered the hobgoblins and Allu."
Session: 94th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 30 2017 from 11:30 PM to 2:30 AM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Tuning Forks
~ fifth-day, 5th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, dusk
The Friary of St. Amahl


A small door opened in the twenty-foot-tall white-stone walls and a tall, bearded priest stepped out, garbed in a gray skullcap. "The Crying God and St. Amahl welcome you to this humble friary!" he stated. "I am Brother Ottad yn... Hakam? I mean, yn Khiber, but... Brother Hakam, is that you?"

   Hakam nodded. "Yes," he answered in Alzhedo. "I am pleased to see you, Brother Ottad." Hakam was thankful that the man had introduced himself, because he had forgotten the Ilmatari friar's name. He did, however, recall the name of the head friar. "Is Father Rahimat available?"

   "He was just retiring to his chamber for the night, but I shall retrieve him. Come, follow me." Ottad led Hakam into the old caravanserai. The courtyard was mostly empty but for a single friar drawing water from the central well. "You surely must have an important matter to be returning to us!" Ottad continued. "I pray that all is well with you and your companions."

   "It is presently," said Hakam, "but the last year has not been a restful one. I am here on behalf of another."

   "I see that you have 'upgraded' your flying carpet for a flying boat!"

   Hakam nodded. The spelljammer was hovering low to the ground a distance from the friary, waiting for Hakam's return. "My god has indeed shown us favor on our quest," said the cleric.

   Ottad led them up the stairs on the wall to the upper level. This was where all the simple rooms were, where the friars lived. An elderly woman passed them on the wall, carrying a basket of laundry. "Brother Hakam!" she said. "Ilmater blesses us with your presence."

   "And Anachtyr bless thee also, Sister...."

   "Jasmal," she completed for him.

   "Is Rahimat still awake, Sister Jasmal?" asked Ottad.

   The old woman nodded. Ottad continued leading them around the walls to the room above the chapel and then knocked on the old, wooden door. Rahimat's voice answered, asking for a moment, and then shortly the door opened. Father Rahimat was much younger than many of the other friars, though still older than Hakam. The Calishite man had a teardrop tattoo beside his right eye. He was no longer dressed in his clerical robes but was still wearing the red skullcap that signified his station.

   "Brother Hakam, is that you?"

   "It is. I apologize for disturbing you."

   "Think nothing of it. It has been almost a year. I see that you have progressed in your order."

   "I am no longer assigned to Memnon," said Hakam. "My god has sent me into the greater world as a justiciar."

   "I congratulate you!" said Rahimat. "Come in, come in. How can I be of service?"

   Ottad left them, and Hakam entered the small room. "My companions and I have an acquaintance suffering from a powerful magical curse. We believe that the only solution is for him to leave this plane. He is not a human; he is a being of fire. I would like to send him to the Plane of Fire until the duration of the curse ends, but I know little about the planes. I know that such magic requires a focus to send one to the desired location. We were nearby, so I thought to stop here first."

   "A being of fire? Have you made amends with that efreeti your companions fought outside our walls last year?"

   "Not the efreeti, no. He violates Anachtyr's holy laws and it is him we seek as the next stage of my divine quest. The one we wish to help is the dragon that assisted us in that fight last year. The dragon is our ally and has been our eyes and ears in this desert in the past year, while we have dealt with matters elsewhere. He has been watching over your friary all this time, in case the mummy or the efreeti were to return."

   "Yes, the mummy. Are you aware that she has been active again?"

   "The dragon has informed us of this, yes, but what more can you add?"

   "About a tenday ago, Brother Hamash was on a prayer walk near Dashadjen, when he saw from a great distance a small army of skeletons emerging from the sand and heading to the south. Some of them were much larger than human skeletons. We have kept a friar on lookout ever since, but the skeletons never returned."

   "This confirms what the dragon himself has told us," said Hakam, "but the fact that you have not seen them return is useful. Thank you for this."

   "Ah, but about your dragon friend, you must know that we are simple folk here at the friary and know little about other worlds — except perhaps about the Seven Heavens and the House of the Triad — much less how to travel there. Have you sought out your superiors in Memnon?"

   "That is where I planned to head next, but we have a limited time in regards to this curse, so I thought to stop here first. I should depart then. It was pleasant seeing you again, and thank you for the news about El Sadhara."

~~~~

"I have heard the voice of a messenger in my mind, as I have remembered you in my prayers."

   "What did the voice reveal?"

   "It told me that you have been chosen as a justiciar, for a special purpose," said Mualak yn Kurush el Anachtyr. "It seems that I am no longer your superior."

   "You are still a man whose advice I covet, rafayam," said Hakam.

   "I thank you. I shall do my best not to disappoint. I admit that I was not surprised, considering our last conversation," Mualak continued. "What more have you learned of this Samber?"

   "Anachtyr has divinely revealed to me Samber's purposes and the urgency needed in stopping him."

   Hakam was now in Memnon, in Anachtyr's temple, the House of Justice. He proceeded to update Mualak further on the happenings in the months since Eleasis, when last he had sent word to the older priest. Finally, he explained the matter with Sseth and the dracorage curse.

   "A planar tuning fork?" said Mualak. "If you already have the power to use such an item, you have already surpassed all of us here in your former home, including myself. Anachtyr has truly favored you, young Hakam. You would have made Hamdulah proud."

   "Is Abbot Mohad still here?" asked Hakam. "I recall that he told many stories of the wonders of the House of the Triad."

   "Abbot Mohad is still with us. His tales were from supposed visions that he had; I am certain that he has never left this plane. Nevertheless, the planes of existence were of great interest to him. I shall summon him."

   A half hour later, Hakam was sitting with an older priest, who had been woken from his sleep. Though it was nearly midnight, the man had seen fit to dress in his blue and purple clerical vestments for this brief meeting.

   "This is what I know of tuning forks," said the white-haired cleric. "Both the material of the fork and the note to which the fork is tuned are important. I do not know all of the 'rules' of how it works, but I can tell you that upper planes usually require gold forks; lower planes usually require iron ones. The inner planes all require specific metals, and the paraelemental planes are alloys of those metals. As far as tuning, the forks tied to the quasielemental planes are usually tuned sharp for positive planes and flat for negative planes. I have no idea what notes are required, however.

   "Most folk assume that one can only reach the first layer of any outer plane, but I have heard a rumor that, if one uses multiple tuning forks, ringing in just the right harmonies, one can bypass the first layer and reach others. For example, a major chord might take one to a second layer; perhaps a minor chord could take you to the third."

   "Do you not know the material of a fork tuned to the Plane of Fire?" asked Hakam.

   "I would guess brass," said Mohad, "since the infamous City of Brass is located in the Plane of Fire."

   "But brass is an alloy, is it not?" said Hakam.

   "True, true, so no, that cannot be — maybe zinc or copper then. Let me tell you this: if you truly wish to journey to the Plane of Fire, it seems to me that the Kossuthans would be the most help to you. As you must know, the Temple to Kossuth here is in Efreet's Drudach. I once knew the Eternal Flame there, Konal al Zalath. We once adventured together in my younger days. He grew to be much more powerful than I and also more fanatical. We agreed on the importance of a lawful society for Calimshan, but he began to believe that only a purification by fire could correct the ails of our nation. When I first came to this House of Justice, he joined up with the Shrine of Kossuth here. It has since grown into a full-sized temple.

   "I shall write you a letter to the Eternal Flame there, requesting his assistance. Perhaps he will grant a favor for his old friend. I must caution you, however. I am told that the Kossuthans of Memnon seek to restore its namesake to power and bring about a Second Memnonnar. Be careful with your words."

~~~~

Hakam found his way along the drudach walls to Coastal Road Sabban in the west. Efreet's Drudach was simple for him to find without the daytime crowds, and like the House of Justice, the temple to the Lord of Fire was located at the intersection of the drudach walls, so he never even had to dirty his feet with city dust. The temple was a ziggurat, clearly constructed of the same strange black stone as the ancient outer walls of the genie-built city. A red glow came from within.

   Hakam entered the temple with caution and was stopped immediately by a bald monk dressed in a thin orange tunic. The man was unarmed, but Hakam suspected that he was trained in combat and had no need of weapons to guard the temple.

   "What do you want, al Anachtyr?"

   "I come bearing a message for your Eternal Flame, sadidrif," said Hakam, holding the rolled up and sealed letter in his palm.

   "At this hour?" The man whistled, and two other temple guards came over. "Stay here," said the monk, taking the letter, "and I shall find out if the Eternal Flame will see you."

   The two guards watched him with arms crossed over their chests. Hakam ignored their intimidating stance and looked to the center of the temple from the second floor. The ziggurat was open in the center, its highest floor supported by a single massive column of black stone. About this column burned an enormous bonfire, which filled the whole temple with heat and light. Lit torches also covered the walls every yard or so. Hakam already found himself sweating from the heat of the place.

   The first monk returned. "This way," he said.

   Hakam followed him around a bend which led them back outside, where they ascended the steps on the outside of the temple up to its highest level. "Enter," said the guard.

   Hakam obeyed and entered the single room at the top of the temple, the chambers of the so-called Eternal Flame. The room was ornately decorated in Calishite fashion and was quite warm from the heat of the immense bonfire below them in the main temple chamber.

   "Greetings, fellow seeker of order," said the single man in the room with Hakam. "I am Konal al Kossuth." He gave a little bow in Calishite manner, and Hakam returned the custom. Konal was dressed in a robe of red, embroidered with a pattern of crimson flames. About his neck was a magically glowing holy symbol of a stylized flame. The man himself looked Calishite in features, with a long, pointed black beard, but his skin was a deep red color. Hakam guessed him to be a genasi, but he kept the thought to himself.

   "I have read the letter from my old friend, Mohad," said Konal. "He tells me that you are seeking a way to the Plane of Fire, though he did not explain why. He claims I owe him a favor.... I owe him nothing."

   "If you owe him nothing, perhaps I could purchase what I need from you instead," suggested Hakam.

   Konal chuckled. "I have no need anymore of a tuning fork to travel to the realm of the Firelord," said Konal, as he walked from Hakam over to an ivory set of drawers on the other side of the room. "This is Memnon, the capital of Memnonnar, a city that was once a city of efreet. Efreet need no tuning forks." He brushed aside a large lizard that was blocking one of the drawers and then opened it. "We Kossuthans of Memnon have discovered a portal in the ruins across the river, the Great Brass Gate, which Memnon himself used to ferry soldiers from his home plane to aid in the war against Calim. It still functions. I would rather arrive at a known location in the City of Brass than chance appearing in a pool of magma." He turned toward Hakam and tossed him something that he had removed from the drawer.

   Embarrassingly, Hakam failed to catch it; it tumbled to the floor and rang in a pure solid tone.

   "Slow reflexes for an adventurer," said Konal.

   "I am our party's healer, diviner, and judge," said Hakam, as he picked up the copper, two-pronged fork from the floor, "not our warrior."

   "Judge?" said Konal. "By what laws do you judge? The legal proceedings of you al Anychtyr are all a farce. You know as well as I that there is no law in Calimshan but for the word of whichever pasha holds the power."

   "There is a higher law," said Hakam, "and a strict cultural order is better than the alternative."

   "Yes," said Konal, "there is a higher law, and it shows this entire Caliphate is corrupt, is guilty. Do you not think that it is time for the purification of Calimshan? starting with the Syl-Pasha and working down the ranks until all of the chaff is burned away?"

   "To speak against the Syl-Pasha is traitorous," said Hakam.

   "Do you think that he came to power lawfully? The man is a murderer and a crime lord. How many sons does he have as puppet rulers in every city? A corrupt leader is no leader at all!"

   "Take no offense, but I did not disturb you to discuss politics or theology," said Hakam. "What do I owe you for this copper fork?"

   "You owe me nothing but to consider my words," said Konal. "Calimshan will one day pay for its sins."

   "I shall consider them," answered Hakam, "and I thank you for this gift. Shall I find my own way out?"

   "You will probably want one of these also, before you leave," said Konal. This time he reached over and handed the item to Hakam rather than tossing it. It was another fork, made of a cold metal. "This one is steel. You will need it if you ever wish to return to the Material Plane."

   Hakam thanked the Eternal Flame again and then departed from this very strange encounter. He returned to the western gate of the city and departed, then walked north over the fields to the banks of the Agis, where he had left the rowboat.

~~~~

Szordrin and Solisar carefully walked through the museum of the brass dragon Sseth. Sseth, after talking to them both about happenings in the world for several hours in the the extradimensional space, had been happy to let them explore his library and "hall of historic artifacts." Having returned to the foyer with the nine Calishite columns, they stepped into a massive, high-ceiling hall that was large enough to be a noble's ballroom. Polished stone steps led to the floor of this large hall and also to a raised walkway large enough for a dragon to stroll that curved around the eastern wall. This wall was filled entirely with an enormous bookshelf. Strangely, the books themselves were sparse — no book was adjacent to another — and all of them were lying on their back covers. Solisar supposed that this was because it would be difficult for the dragon to remove one of the human-sized books from the shelves if they were packed together.

   Looking at the books, they did not seem to be tomes of magic or great historical epics; they seemed primarily to be popular works from different times. For example, there were several tourists' guidebooks to places that no longer existed, such as Jhaamdath, Valashar, or Meiritin, and a few copies of Instructions on Operating a Crossbow: A Guide for the Qysar's Soldiers and a few more of How to Dance Like a Jhasina: A Primer for Housewives. Mixed among these were several personal journals of persons of little to no historical significance. Sseth's library was the sort of place a historian of Calimshan would come to do primary research but not a place where a non-historian would come to learn.

   On the far side of the main chamber was another wide hall, the sides of which had on display many artifacts of long ago on marble podiums. These too were neither magical nor hugely significant artifacts in their own right; the hall was full rather of pots and pans, furniture, and everyday items.

   Szordrin, who had hoped to find information on the Rock of Bral was disappointed, but Solisar enjoyed seeing tools of human civilization from — in some cases — thousands of years ago.

~~~~

   "We have returned!"

   "That is Hakam," said Solisar. "Hopefully he bears a tuning fork."

   It was the next morning, and Solisar and Szordrin, who had spent the night at Sseth's home, were once again conversing with him. In actuallity, Solisar and Sseth were the ones conversing — about languages — and Szordrin was studying his spellbook.

   Sseth poked his head out of the extradimensional space. "Were you successful, Hakam yn Hamdulah yn Hamdulah yn Hamdulah el Anachtyr yi Memnon? I must add that I do enjoy saying your name; it has a delightful rhythym to it as it rolls from patronym to theonym to toponym."

   "Yes, I was successful," answered the cleric. "I just completed my prayers to Anachtyr, and I am prepared. Whenever you are ready, I can send you to the Plane of Fire."

   "I am so excited!" said the dragon. "Is it obvious? I believe that I am ready. I wish that I could take along a book to read, but I do not think the pages will survive the environment. Give me room to hop down."

   Hakam and the others with him stepped back into the passage. The brass dragon then dropped out of the extradimensional space and landed on the cavern floor, shaking the ground.

   "Oh, already I feel the power of the curse," he said. "Send me quickly, if you can."

   "Do you know the name of any places there?"

   "Send me anywhere except the City of Brass, if you can control that," said Sseth.

   "I shall try." Hakam struck the forked copper rod against the wall and it began to ring.

   "Ah, a perfect A," said the dragon, "my favorite note." Sseth began humming the same note two octaves deeper.

   "Anachtyr send you to the Plane of Fire!" Hakam spoke boldly, waving his hands in a wide circle. Then he touched the dragon's thick-scaled arm, and just like that, Sseth was gone. The tuning fork instantly stopped sounding.

   "It looks like it worked," said Leokas.

   "Give me several minutes, and I can confirm that," said Hakam. He began praying silently while holding his holy symbol.

   Ten minutes later, he was ready to send Sseth a message. "Have you arrived safely? Please inform us of your status."

   "Yes, I have arrived in one piece. I appeared, quite fortuitously, atop a floating chunk of rock in a river of flowing magma and rode...," came Sseth's happy voice in Hakam's mind.

   "Sseth is healthy and safe," he told the others.
Session: 94th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 30 2017 from 11:30 PM to 2:30 AM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Brass Dragon's Lair
~ fifth-day, 5th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, afternoon
Teshyllal Wastes


"I lair within a rocky pillar with four spires of varying heights. All true entrances face the east, so that the sun will warm the...."

   Hakam had just sent a magical message to the brass dragon Sseth for clearer details on how to find his lair. He shared it with the others. They were sailing in the sky due "east from the fifth minaret south of the place where one turns off to follow the stones to the" Friary of St. Amahl, as Sseth's directions the morning before had told them. It was over a hundred miles of sand from Teshburl to the Teshyllal Wastes of the Calim Desert. They had been flying for eight hours since morning, first north to where they spotted the monastery they had once visited, then south, and then east. Leokas was at the helm. The dragon had told them to go twenty miles from the minaret. They had about five miles left to go.

   Sseth's directions the day before were so straightforward, relatively speaking, that Szordrin was worried. "Ask him if he is being coerced?" the tiefling had said. He had had Hakam send a second message with a secret response to indicate if he was in any danger. The dragon had not returned the "secret word", but he did not indicate that all was well either. "I must warn you. I am not feeling well these days. I have awful headaches, and I want to eat everything. Do not bring Kamil!"

   The rest of that day had been spent buying and selling and in dealing with Oma's father. Kanar "the Ox" el Ehrat had sent Hakam a message by delivery boy early in the morning.

Hakam, Atiq will meet with you at highsun at the Roving Rune. Use the inn entrance, not the tavern entrance. I recommend coming in disguise. The others should stay on the ship until matters are resolved. Oadif has connections with el Amlakkar and will convince them that waiting to arrest you until you try to leave may give them more time to catch you in other criminal activities. I presume that your party has no intention of partaking in any actual criminal activities and trust that you will not correct this understanding of mine.

Hakam had complained about the disguise, but Szordrin had given him a beard and made him look older by graying his hair.

   The meeting with Atiq el Catahras had gone surprisingly well. "Why did she not tell her mother and me that she did not want to marry Hakamir?" the man had said. "If she had only spoken up instead of run off...." Atiq promised to drop the bounty immediately if Hakam would promise to deliver a letter to his daughter when next he saw her. Hakamir el Wisynn would be furious, but if Atiq cancelled the engagement, the man would no longer be able to keep his own bounty.

   They were still advised to lie low, just in case, so Leokas and Hakam did not leave the ship after that, as those two in particular might be recognized. Belvin, instead, had sold the camels and purchased food and water; Szordrin had sold the gems and the cursed cloak; and Solisar had purchased pearls for his magic and two hammocks, rope and pulleys, oars, and two rowboats for the spelljammer.

   After a second night berthed in Teshburl, to get safely out of the port, they had had to hire a pilot and sailors to take the ship a mile from the docks. Then they rowed the men back to shore.

   That had all been this morning. Belvin was now scanning the land ahead of them from the foredeck. They were only sailing about a half mile over the sand, but even at such a low flying altitude, the horizon was about 60 miles away. The problem was not in any way distance but recognition; there were many sandstone pillars ahead of them.

   Belvin pointed. "That structure, a bit to the north has three spires, each at a different height, but suppose there is a fourth on the east side that is lower, which we cannot yet see?"

   "How far away is that?"

   "I suspect about three or four miles. Leokas would be a far better judge."

   They sent word down to Leokas to adjust their course a small amount to the north. In about fifteen minutes, they had passed to the eastern side, and sure enough, there was a fourth, short spire on that side. As Leokas carefully lowered the vessel to the sand below them, Hakam began another sending prayer: "We believe that we have arrived. There seem to be no cave entrances on the eastern side. Will you come out to meet us?"

   "I do not want to come outside, dear friends. Find one of my sand-covered bolt holes. Follow the tunnels up to the center of the pillar."

   "What is a 'bolt hole'?" asked Szordrin, after Hakam had shared the message. The cleric did not know.

   "It is a place where a small animal like a rabbit hides," said Belvin. "It means that we are going to have to dig." He seemed excited by this prospect.

   "If Leokas takes us closer to the pillars," suggested Szordrin, "I can use this wire to communicate with him."

   "Unless he is standing near a cave opening," said Solisar, "such magics will not penetrate the stone. We have little choice but to find the entrance ourselves."

   So Leokas took the ship down to within a half dozen yards above the sand. Kytharrah then lowered everyone, except Ilthian and Leokas, down to the ground in one of the rowboats, using the pulley and winches that they had recently purchased. He followed after them down the rope. Belvin transformed into a large badger and began digging and sniffing at the base of the massive sandstone formation, and Szordrin sent Ferry, his weasel, to do the same. In the meantime, Solisar used his magic to fly about the pillars, scanning them for any magical auras.

   Tymora smiled upon them, and it was not long before Ferry scurried up Szordrin's leg to squeak into his ear. "Ferry has found an opening that leads much deeper," the wizard shared. Belvin continued digging at the site, and soon enough, he had dug out an opening large enough for them all to crawl through. He then shifted back into his elven form and began to get dressed again.

   "You are not coming with us?" Hakam asked, when Belvin began to climb the rope to the deck of their ship.

   "I stay with Kamil, of course," said Belvin. "Especially since Sseth threatened to eat him! I shall replace Leokas at the helm and take the ship into wildspace. I shall return to retrieve all of you in an hour."

   "Before you go, can you at least use your magic to check for any natural traps in this tunnel?" asked Solisar. "Dragons often leave traps to protect their lairs."

   Belvin did so, but the way ahead was clear of any pits or snares, at least for the first 150 feet of the tunnel. So he and Leokas traded places, and the latter elf joined them. After the initial crawl through the sliding sand, they entered a sturdy, stone tunnel with walls from ten to twenty feet in width. At first the tunnel curved around to the north where it reached an intersection. To the left, west, the tunnel was plugged with sand — likely another bolt hole. This left two other paths, straight ahead and to the right, for them to pick.

   Kytharrah inhaled deeply through his nose. "Bad eggs!"

   "He must smell the sulfur from the dragon's breath," said Solisar. "Which way, Kytharrah?"

   "This way!" Kytharrah said, grinning and starting down the right path. The minotaur had his everburning torch in hand, while Hakam's shield was magically glowing.

   Ten yards farther, they reached a dead end.

   "Good job, Lunk," said Szordrin, sarcastically.

   "No, he chose correctly," said Leokas. "It is not a dead end; we have to climb." The elf motioned up. The ceiling of the passage was gaining significant height above them now, and 20 feet up, there was an opening in the wall in front of them.

   Kytharrah jumped up, grabbed onto the ledge and lifted himself up. Then he cast down his rope and helped pull the others up one by one — except for Leokas, who climbed. It would have been an easy hop for a dragon the size of Sseth.

   They continued onward, east into the heart of the desert rock formation. After 100 feet, the path turned sharply north, but Kytharrah shook his head. "No, up again." He jumped and pulled himself up, vanishing again in the darkness. Like before they climbed up after him.

   This higher passage continued roughly east, though it curved around in an ess shape to do so. By now, the ceiling was a full 50 feet above their heads, and the width of the tunnel was 20 feet. Then they came to the first of a line of nine columns. From here, the wall to the right was smooth and clearly had been carved. The ceiling, supported by the columns was not the natural ceiling any longer either, but the walls to the left were still natural. The passage widened considerably from here with a large opening farther ahead to the left.

   Solisar and Hakam examined the first column. "Calishite design," said Hakam.

   "Yet the carvings are Iokharic," said Solisar, "that is, Draconic runes."

   "Do I smell minotaur?" A deep voice echoed through the cavern, startling all of them.

   "Hello?" answered Kytharrah.

   "The minotaur is with me," Hakam called back, "with Hakam. We are coming to you."

   There was no further answer, but they advanced nonetheless. Passing the large opening to their left, they saw that there were wide steps descending into a massive chamber, but the dragon's voice had come from in front of them, where the tunnel became natural again and curved to the south. Szordrin went to the left to investigate further, but the rest continued on. They followed it and came to yet another wall with an opening up above. They waited for Kytharrah to leap up again, but he was looking down.

   "Shiny bottle!" The minotaur picked up a black bottle. It was polished pottery with a steel stopper.

   Solisar muttered some arcane syllables and then said, "It is magical, a conjuration aura."

   "It is Allu's bottle," said Hakam. "I recognize it."

   Leokas nodded and then began climbing. "Come," he said, "let us meet with the dragon."

   After they all were at the top, including Szordrin, who had returned from scouting, Hakam led the way down the twisting tunnel, which led them through a ten-foot opening into a huge chamber that was roughly square. There before them lay the dragon, resting on a large bed of coins.

   Even those who had seen Sseth before were wowed by the immense size of him. He was at least 60 feet from tail to serpent-like snout. It was impossible to estimate his wingspan at the moment, as his wings were folded close to his body. The dragon's head had the unique curved, bony frill of all brass dragons. Oddly, Sseth's huge eyes were closed. His head was resting on the ground and he covered his ear holes with his two foreclaws, as if he were trying to quench a very loud noise.

   "We thank you for returning the bottle to us, good dragon," said Hakam. "You seem unwell."

   Sseth opened one of his glowing, white eyes. "I have not been outside for many days," the dragon said, ignoring Hakam's comments. "Is there, by chance, a red comet in the sky?"

   "No," said Leokas. "There are no comets in the sky now. I am certain."

   Solisar was the only one of them who understood what the dragon was really asking. "The King-Killer Star can affect dragons even when not visible," he said.

   Sseth opened his second eye, but did not yet raise his head from the ground. "You are a sun elf," he stated simply.

   "Axun, ya vaecaesin aurix," said Solisar. "Arominak Solisar. Rasvim ekess wux."

   "Rasvim ekess wux, shar thric vethirasvim," answered the dragon. "Arominak Sseth. I apologize for my present condition. Were I myself, I would ask to hear your stories, old and new, but I suggest that none of you come any closer, tiny creatures as you are, to a grumpy, old dragon." Sseth at last lifted his massive head from the ground, exposing his two chin horns. "Where is Belvin? Where is Mythlos?"

   "Mythlos is somewhere near the High Forest," explained Hakam, "seeking further training from the elves. Since we last saw you, he has learned the power of his ancestral sword. Belvin could not come see you in person, but he regrets this and sends his greeting."

   "No play?" said Kytharrah.

   "Not today, little brother," said the dragon.

   The others expected Kytharrah to react to being called little, but the minotaur could not object to being called such by a being weighing over ten tons.

   "And what are you?" Sseth now looked at Szordrin and sniffed. "I smell fiendish blood."

   "He is a tiefling," answered Hakam, "but he is not evil."

   "Which is not to say that he is to be trusted," said Sseth, lowering his head to the ground again.

   "We do not trust him much either," said Hakam, "but he is useful to us."

   "I am Szordrin," said the tiefling, "but I must go back to your early question about comets. What is this 'King-Killer Star'? Does it have anything to do with the fact that it is now the Year of Rogue Dragons?"

   In answer, Sseth simply closed his eyes, as if drifting off to sleep.

   "It is certainly possible that a major dracorage would be the fulfillment of one of Alaundo's prophecies," answered Solisar. "However, the last full rage of dragons was in the Year of the Dracorage, which is numbered 1018 in the Dalereckoning. A minor rage, a flight of dragons, which occur when the King-Killer Star does not pass as closely to Toril, affected only the Moonsea and the kingdom of Cormyr in the Year of the Worm, which was only very recently, seventeen years ago, two years before the Time of Troubles. I do not have the cosmological path of the comet memorized, but the King-Killer Star could not possibly have returned to Toril in only seventeen years! Its orbit takes centuries. If this is another 'rage', it could not be caused by the comet.

   "Good dragon, were you alive in the Year of the Dracorage?"

   Sseth wobbled his head. "I have only heard tales from elder dragons of the curse," he said.

   "The curse should only last a tenday at most," said Solisar. "How long have you been feeling... ill?"

   "About half that time," said the dragon.

   "Curse? Comet? I am still confused," said Hakam.

   Solisar sighed as if embarrassed. "One of the unfortunate acts in ancient history for which my people are responsible is the creation of the Dracorage Mythal, an enormous magical effect covering all of Faerûn that is tied to the appearance of one of this crystal sphere's two largest comets. During the Time of Dragons, some 20 to 30 millennia ago, they created the mythal to curse all dragonkind anytime that the comet appeared in the sky. The dragons had recently made a truce with the giants of Ostoria, which meant that the dragons now turned toward the annihilation of the elven peoples instead. The mythal was created to cause all dragons of Faerûn to slowly drift into madness and fight among themselves. This prevented the dragons from ever unifying enough to destroy the elves or establish an empire and rule all the other free peoples of Toril. Were it not for the dracorages, our humanoid peoples would likely not exist on Toril today. On the other hand, the curse of the mythal effects noble dragons as well as evil ones, and since the population of dragons has diminished on this world, the dragons are less likely to fight among themselves and more likely to rage against other surface creatures. In my opinion, the choice to create the mythal has caused more evil to this world than good." Solisar turned to the dragon and offered a heartfelt apology in the Draconic tongue for his ancestor's actions.

   "Thank you for your apology," Sseth answered in Common. "You are innocent in the matter. Nevertheless, comet or no, I am afflicted. You have your bottle. You would be wise to leave."

   "Saer dragon," said Szordrin, in as polite a voice as he could muster, "I could not help but notice that you have a truly grand library with a vast collection of books. Might you permit us to explore its volumes?"

   "No!" The dragon's head lifted off the ground again as his voice boomed. Kytharrah was not the only one who could smell the stench of sulfur in the chamber. "No," he repeated, in a more typical calm voice. "You must understand that to a brass dragon, knowledge is treasure."

   "Perhaps it would be wise for us to leave," said Solisar. "We have the bottle. We cannot do anything to help him now. We can look into how we might help him and then return."

   "Before we leave," said Hakam to Sseth, "if I may be so bold, I was hoping that you might be able to tell us more about the skeletons that you saw marching toward Allu's palace."

   "It was a small army," said the dragon, "humanoid and minotaur skeletons, a force resurrected from Calim's own army. If they were indeed marching on the lair of the efreeti, they would have arrived by now."

   "What of the blue dragon?" asked Hakam. "Would they not have to face her if they entered her territory?"

   "If this is a dracorage curse, it would affect her more strongly than me, since she is already evil at heart. Perhaps she is raging elsewhere in Calimshan."

   This triggered an idea in Solisar's mind. "Noble dragon, in the history of your kind, how do the good dragons usually respond to the ten days of the rage?"

   "They leave Toril," said Sseth. "Or they hide away in their lairs and entrap themselves until it passes, as I am doing."

   "This cannot be a normal rage," said Solisar. "Something else is going on. There is no guarantee that this will cease by the end of the tenday. Is there a way for you to leave Toril?"

   "I would need to find a tuning fork to an appropriate plane," said Hakam, "but my god could shift you elsewhere. Where would you be most content?"

   Sseth perked up his head, looking mildly happy for the first time during this visit. "I have always wanted to visit the Plane of Fire," said Sseth. "I hear that the swimming is most pleasant there."

   "Szordrin, do you have your rope spell prepared?" asked Solisar.

   The other wizard nodded.

   "Sseth," said Solisar, "Szordrin and I can grant you at least 24 hours of relief from the curse, if it is indeed caused by the mythal, by creating an extradimensional space for you, here in your lair. We can then seek out a tuning fork and return. Then Hakam can send you to the Plane of Fire. Would this please you? Szordrin, show him."

   Szordrin removed the required twisted loop of parchment and some powdered corn from his component pouch as the dragon's white orb of an eye faced him, watching his every move. The tiefling spoke the words of the spell while reaching for the rope about his shoulder. The corn extract and the tiny loop vanished from one hand, while the rope launched out of his other to hang from nothing.

   The dragon stood up unto his four limbs, coins falling from between his scales, and moved over to the rope in two enormous steps. They all backed away from him into the passage. Sseth looked up, and then, with a feline-like pounce, shot straight into the air and vanished.

   Several minutes passed with no sign of the dragon.

   "Did it work?" asked Szordrin. "Should one of us climb the rope and check on him?"

   Then the dragon's fifteen-foot neck shot out of the invisible hole above them. "Have you ever tried flying in an extradimensional space?" asked the dragon, voice full of excitement. "It is the most freeing feeling! You really must try it. Delightful! Good for the soul!"

   "I shall try it next time," said Solisar.

   "Now play?" said Kytharrah, sensing that the dragon was now less grumpy.

   In answer, more of the dragon's bulk emerged from the hole, and his neck snapped out. Before any of them could respond, Sseth's jaws had clamped around one of Kytharrah's horns. The dragon pulled himself back up, lifting the 700-pound minotaur off his feet and into the air. Then, both dragon and minotaur disappeared into the extradimensional space.

   The others looked around, not sure how to respond.

   "Do good dragons eat minotaurs?" asked Szordrin.

   Leokas went to the rope. "I shall check on him."

   Leokas' head emerged into the infinite whiteness at the top of the rope. The dragon was there before him, sitting like a dog and looking out into the distance. There was no sign of the minotaur.

   "What did you do, Sseth?" Leokas demanded.

   "I tossed him," said the dragon. "Ah, here he comes again!"

   Kytharrah was now visible, running toward them at his magically enhanced speed, horns down in a full-out charge. The dragon took a defensive stance and lowered his head. The minotaur slammed into the dragon's skull plate with a loud thud and then fell back on his rump. Using his head like he was shoveling sand, Sseth then scooped up the minotaur, and with a snap of his neck, launched the friendly beast into the air. Kytharrah was laughing in enjoyment, as he traveled out of Leokas' sight into the white emptiness.

   Sseth turned back toward Leokas. "Do not worry, my little elven friend. An extradimensional place like this often has subjective directional gravity and is spacially morphic and self-contained. He will be back.

   "So, tell me of all your adventures. Whatever happened to that nice lady who smelled like djinn?"
Session: 94th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 30 2017 from 11:30 PM to 2:30 AM
Viewable by: Public
1 comment
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
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 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. The masked fighter, springing back from Kytharrah and withdrawing his weapon in one smooth motion, drew a vial from his bandoleer with his left arm and was readying to throw it at Kytharrah. Despite the wound, Kytharrah lunged forward and tried to grab the man, taking advantage of his greater reach. The opponent skillfully ducked and avoided 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. Szordrin 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.

   "Go to 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 off 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 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments
← Previous 1 3 4 5 6 7