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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Stumblesparkle's Journal
"Curse you, elves!" shouted Hakam. "You are worse than anarchists!"

   "And you are a racist!" replied Leokas.

   "He was going to give us the chest, and then you tried to kill him!"

   "He betrayed our trust," argued Belvin. "You do realize, do you not, that now Allu knows that we are coming for him. As if defeating a genie would not be difficult enough!"

   "Yes, admittedly, that was an unfortunate turn of events," said Hakam, "and I was at fault for not adding a clause to our agreement about not contacting anyone by magic. However, now Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows that we are coming and we have lost the chest. That is unarguably a worse case."

   "You can call him Allu," said Szordrin. "The hobgoblin is not here to impress anymore."

   "Pause your fighting for at least a moment," said Solisar. "Kytharrah is need of our aid."

   Kytharrah's red and white patched fur was scorched black, and he lay on the ground moaning from the burning sensations that he felt.

   They had to wait a minute more for the flames to vanish, and then they encouraged him to come back to them on the other side of the trap's trigger. Hakam used multiple spells to ease the pain and restore his fur to its natural color — that is, what fur had not already fallen out from the mummy's curse. The right side of Kytharrah's chest was bare, leaving the powerful musculature of his pectorals exposed. The skin looked like that of a corpse.

   "He is going to be naked by morning, at this rate," said Szordrin.

   "How are we going to stop Allu now?" asked Leokas. "For all we know, his goblin wizard is already inside the Spinning Keep. We cannot allow Calim or Memnon to be freed. It will spell the end of Calimshan, Tethyr, and the elven Wealdath. We do not have the time to chase Durbuluk to the Marching Mountains!"

   "We have our remaining wish," said Hakam. "We can simply wish the chest back into our hands."

   "What will prevent Durbuluk from simply wishing the chest right back again?" asked Belvin. "We have only a single remaining wish; Durbuluk may not have such a limit."

   "Genies use their own power to grant wishes," said Hakam, "and it is not infinite, nor can they grant wishes more than a few times per day. It is doubtful that Durbuluk will have limitless wishing power. Nevertheless, your point is taken. We only have a single wish, and we cannot be certain how many Durbuluk has remaining."

   "Speaking of wishes," said Szordrin, "why does Allu not simply wish the omlar gem back into his possession?"

   Leokas had a moment of panic and immediately checked to see that the omlar gem was still on his person. It was.

   "If I remember what we learned about wishes correctly," he said, "a genie cannot grant wishes for himself, nor can he command another being what to wish for if granting one. The wish must be a genuine and personal desire of the wisher."

   "I did not get the sense that Durbuluk cares enough about Allu's restoring of Memnon to power to waste any remaining wishes on the omlar gem," said Solisar.

   "We have to do something!" exclaimed Leokas.

   "We need at least until dawn," said Hakam. "Kytharrah will not be fit for combat until I can remove the curse on him, nor do I have any power left to send a message to the Prince."

   "Here," Leokas said to Kytharrah, "wear my periapt."

   "It is pretty," said Kytharrah, as the elf wrapped the magical necklace around his thick neck.

   "That will prevent the disease from spreading," said Hakam, but it will do nothing to restore the health that he has already lost."

   "I suppose that it must be that we wait," said Leokas. "To be honest, I think that Durbuluk's sword was magical and left a wound that your magical healing did not fully restore. I feel weaker myself. Was there not a monastery northeast of here?"

   "St. Liwan's," said Hakam.

   "Let us fly there. Perhaps they will know of the location of the Spinning Keep. At the very least, we will be somewhat closer, and we can decide on a course of action tonight and be ready to move first thing in the morning."

   This plan seemed agreeable to everyone.

   "The traps," Szordrin reminded them.

   "I can leave through the tunnel from the portal room and fly back to the spelljammer," said Solisar.

   "What if more mummies or undead or, worse, the dragon spot you?" asked Szrodrin.

   Solisar completed a quick spell and vanished from their vision. "They will not be able to see me," came back his disembodied voice in reply.

~~~~

Solisar had returned with the spelljammer and picked up the others from the sands at the front entrance to Allu's tunnels without incident. Then they flew northeast until they could spot an ancient caravanserai, resting atop a low hill just off the Coast Trail that connected Teshburl to Memnon and skirted the edge of the Calim Desert along the coast. The sands here looked too hard to set the flying vessel down safely, so they had to land it in the waters at the base of the sea cliffs to the west.

   As he often did, Belvin remained on the spelljammer with Kamil and Ilthian, having little interest in socializing with human monks and priests. He only asked that Leokas or Solisar bring him some herbs. He raised the ship back into the sky as two rowboats filled with the others made their way to a tiny beach at the foot of the cliffs.

   Only Hakam had come this way before, but he assured them that their was a walkable path from this beach to the top. Leokas had stayed with Belvin last time, but Mythlos had talked so much about the food that he decided to come along.

   The path between the opening in the cliffs was steep, but they arrived at the desert's edge and headed north along the Coast Trail as the sun was setting.

   "It figures," said Hakam. "We shall be arriving for the evening vespers."

   A rather fat monk met them at the gates. He wore the traditional red skull cap of the Ilmatari, followers of the god Ilmater. Hakam was recognized. "You have returned, servant of our lord's lord. What brings you back to our humble house? Will you need a night's rest? Surely, you will require dinner! If you wait for the end of Father Akkabar's sermon...."

   "We shall not be able to spend the night," interrupted Hakam. "We are on a quest of great import to the security of this nation. We are looking for the location of some ancient ruins in the desert. Is Brother Harakhti, your diviner, still here?"

   "He is. I am sure that he is at evening vespers."

~~~~

The party had little choice but to wait till the end of Father Akkabar el Souvlak's sermon, but afterward, they were invited with open arms to dinner. Leokas found that he agreed strongly with Mythlos' positive review of the food, and Kytharrah even experienced one of his first sensations of an overfull stomach. There were fresh, spiced breads; an assortment of camel and goat cheeses; shrimp and shellfish; veal stew; grapes from the vine; and pomegranate juice. It was a true delight.

   The multi-course feast went on for a couple hours, before Hakam insisted that they had important matters that had to be discussed so that they could return to their waiting vessel.

   In a side room with Father Akkabar and Brother Harakhti, they discussed the mummy's curse that had befallen Kytharrah and the location of Spinning Keep. In neither case were the friendly monks able to offer much help. The Spinning Keep was only a thing of ancient legend, fairy tales of when elves walked no-longer-existing forests of Calimshan. "Brother Jabal could remove such a curse," explained Harakhti, "but he has traveled south to Teshburl and will not be returning for a tenday. Any healing that we would freely offer you would have no effect until a curse of that power be removed."

   So, by darkness of night, the five returned to the shore and their rowboats to be picked up by Belvin.

   "Well, that was a wasted journey," said Leokas. "I am sorry that I suggested it."

   "The food was worth it, at least," said Szordrin, rubbing his stomach.

   "Yum," agreed Kytharrah.

   "It matters not," said Hakam. "I know how we can safely retrieve the journal."

   "How?" asked Solisar.

   "You will see in the morning," the cleric replied with a smile, proud of his own solution.

~~~~

"I wish for an exact copy in my hands of the journal of the gnome Stumblesparkle now in a chest with the hobgoblin Durbuluk."

   Hakam had just finished his morning prayers, and his first task following had been to send a message to the Prince of Jhothûn, their powerful ally.

   "Your wish is granted," came the great qorrashi's reply.

   There, in Hakam's open palms, now rested a scuffed up leather journal, bound with cord, the result of their final of three wishes.

   The others were highly impressed.

   "May I see it?" asked Solisar. "I can translate it while you tend to Kytharrah." Hakam handed it to him.

   Hakam approached the minotaur and placed a hand upon his shaggy form. "By the power of the Lord of Justice, be free from the curse of death and evil that torments thee!"

   Kytharrah looked down but could still see the bare, thick skin of his chest. Belvin placed another hand on him and chanted wildly. "There," he said in Common, "it will grow back now, but it will take some time."

   Now everyone joined together around Solisar on the lower deck. "It is written in gnome," he explained. "There is indeed a map here. Look." He held the open book to them to share.

   Leokas looked at it. "I can certainly take us there from the air."

   "The Keep itself is a twelve-sided, floating structure," explained Solisar. "It should be easy to spot once we are in the area. It is 70-feet wide, but it is rather translucent, so you have to be looking for it to spot it."

   "How do you get past the magical defenses?" asked Szordrin.

   "That will take me longer to determine," said Solisar. "If she explains how, she must have done so in some sort of code, because she only mentions off-hand that she stood upon the surface of the keep working on the mechanism for several hours until she succeeded and then entered. She only spends two sentences on how she got in. The rest of the pages describe what she saw when she was inside."

   "Which was?"

   "She says that it was bitter cold and highly confusing, because there was no gravity. She had to fight against powerful illusions and was having difficulty knowing whether she was in a hallway with doors or an open space with razor-covered walls. She was not there long before she was spotted by elemental beings and had to flee."

   "We do not need to know about the inside of the Keep," said Leokas. "We only need to arrive at the site and stop Allu's goblin from entering it. Belvin, take the helm and bring us back down to the surface."

   "Wait!" said Hakam suddenly. "I am getting a message from Jayce. He says that he has good news and bad news. He talked with the priests of Gond on Lantan. They say that Samber went crazy when his wife left him. He went into hiding and was never seen again."

   Hakam responded, "Keep learning about Samber. We must stop Allu, who is trying to free Memnon. Will rendezvous after. Does anyone else look like Samber's other creations?"

   "He never told us his bad news," said Szordrin.

   "He is sending a second message now," said Hakam. "He says that our news was worse news than his. He says his bad news is that someone stole aboard The Daisy and took all of Obert's star charts and maps. Without them, he cannot find Samber's island again."

   "That is a shame," Hakam replied.

   "Ilthian's memory is nearly perfect," said Solisar. She was standing quietly by and lit up when she heard them mention her. "Ilthian, do you think that you could draw the stars that you can see overhead when you are at home?"

   "Of course I can," she said.

   "We can worry about Samber and his island after we stop Allu," said Leokas.

   They all agreed. Belvin went to the magic helm, and the rest remained to discuss a strategy for defeating a genie of fire and a powerful goblin wizard.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 5 , Recap
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Inner Chambers of Allustairimarinastralmindivu
They escorted Durbuluk back down the stairs. The going was slow, because Durbuluk was so badly injured and struggled to walk, but he gave no complaints. As they walked, Solisar remained in the rear of the group and was casting a long spell.

   They reached the red metal tiles in the midst of the four large columns. The violet wall of flame that had injured Szordrin earlier had now extinguished.

   "If you bring us back any treasures in addition to the journal," said Szordrin, now feeling confident to speak again, having left the vicinity of the zone of truth, "we will offer you a cut of that treasure."

   "I only care about the treasures that I brought here with me," said Durbuluk. "I will simply bring you the entire chest in which Allustairimarinastralmindivu stores the journal, and you may have whatever is in it that you like."

   "How do we know that you have not kept anything inside it for yourself?"

   "You will be watching me, will you not?" He motioned toward Solisar, who was still in the process of casting powerful divination magic.

   It took several more minutes for the sun elf to complete the spell. When he had done so, he notified the others that he was ready to proceed.

   "To clarify our agreement," said Durbuluk. "I am to bring you the chest with the journal within it, and in return, you will let me live and let me return to my home beneath the mountains."

   "Agreed," said Hakam.

   Durbuluk turned and walked away from them, crossing between the wall and one of the pillars. The fire trap did not activate. The six of them stood some ten feet from the traps and watched as he walked calmly toward the remaining tunnel. Leokas, Solisar, Belvin, and Hakam, were between the western wall and the center of the chamber, facing north, while Szordrin and Kytharrah stood parallel to the other trap, between the northern wall and the column, facing west.

   Solisar appeared to be in a trance, but he was mentally directing his arcane eye to follow along behind Durbuluk and monitor his actions. The elf began to describe everything that he was seeing, once Durbuluk vanished from everyone's sight by descending down a slope deeper into the tunnel, from which a red-violet glow emerged.

   "He has just passed two columns, embedded in the stone walls and made of red brick. They are similar to the ones in this chamber but about half the size. As he and the hobgoblins whom we rescued explained, the walls of this hall are walls of fire, violet, like the traps. The hallway of fire is about 25 feet wide, and the walls are perfectly straight now. It makes a right turn after a dozen paces.

   "Durbuluk just yanked the arrows out of his body. He is still walking, but he is waving his hands symbolically. I believe that he is casting a healing spell. Yes, his hands are aglow with positive energy. Now his wounds are closing up. Another spell now. He is clutching his unholy symbol. If his motions match those of Hakam when he casts divine magic, he is boosting his endurance.

   "He made the right turn and is walking down a wider hallway now, still walled with violet flames. A pair of columns appears on each side every 20 feet or so. The flames traverse from column to column.

   "He just healed himself again. He is no longer limping.

   "The hallway has reached a tee. There is an altar in the center and beyond that a black, iron throne. He is making another right, so he is now heading south. He just vanished. No, he walked through the wall. I shall follow with my sensor.

   "He is now in a tiny 'chamber' with four walls of fire. There are several iron pieces of furniture here, chairs, a desk, but they are small. He just passed through another of the walls, to the west. I follow. This is a slightly larger room. Except for the one we just passed through, the walls here are the natural, irregular stone. This room is furnished in a Calishite style, if I am not mistaken. There seem to be a collection of pillows, where one might recline or sleep. I suppose that they must be enchanted to be immune to fire.

   "Ah, Durbuluk has just moved into a small alcove off the southeastern corner of the room. It is an irregularly shaped space, and there is an iron chest here. It looks heavy. Apparently, it is not too heavy for Durbuluk to pick up. He is carrying it back into the 'bedroom'.

   "Now he is opening it. He had a key in a pouch on his belt. I shall see if I can position my sensor for a view inside.... There are an assortment of items, some clothing, some tools, some jewelry and coins. He is taking the jewelry and coins and transferring them to the pouch on his belt. One of the items seems to be an amulet. The coins are likely platinum. There may be a couple dozen of them. I suppose that these are his things. There was a longsword in a sheath in the chest, and he is attaching that to his belt also. Now he has two swords at his belt. He has taken out a brass mug. It looks rather ornate, but he has decided to set it aside. He just transferred what looks to be a silver hair comb to the pouch, but he set a silver chalice next to the mug. He is leaving all of the clothing within the chest, and he is locking it again.

   "He is returning the chest. Now he is walking to an iron desk. He opened a drawer and removed a roll of metal wire. He snapped two lengths of it from the roll. Oh, he is using it to attach the chalice and the mug to his belt so that he can more easily carry them.

   "It looks like he is finished in this room. He just passed through the fire into the other side room, and through the second wall of fire into the throne room with the altar. He is coming back toward us, walking west through the wide hallway now.

   "He has reached the left turn; he is almost back to us. Ah, but now he has turned right and is walking toward the wall. He has passed through the flames again. I shall follow.

   "This is a rather large square room with four walls of fire. A piece of the stone wall of the cavern juts through at one point bisecting the flame. This must be a storage chamber. There are several chests and boxes in here, all of them made of metal. Durbuluk seems to be glancing around, looking for something or thinking.

   "He has approached one of the chests and bent over it. Now he is trying to open it. It seems to be locked. He is removing his handaxe from his belt, and now he is swinging it at the lock. He broke it off in two swings. It must not be magically protected. He just opened the chest; yes, there is a journal atop an assortment of coins and silks and other things. Durbuluk is closing the chest. He seems satisfied.

   "He has picked up the chest and is carrying it back through the wall of fire. He is in the hall, coming back toward us. Odd, he just set the chest down. He is making divine hand motions with his right hand and clutching his unholy symbol with the other. He appears to be praying. If I am not mistaken, Hakam, he is making similar motions to those you make when you are preparing to contact someone."

   "Are we going to just sit here while he summons some fiend to attack us?" asked Leokas.

   "It is taking him too long to be a summoning spell, and as of yet, he has not violated our agreement," said Hakam. "He seems to have collected his things, just as he claimed he would do, and he has the chest with the journal for us as well. Furthermore, I have not sensed any chaos in him. It appears at this point that he still intends to bring the chest to us."

   "Never trust a goblin," muttered Leokas.

   Nearly ten minutes passed, however, and the duration of Solisar's scrying spell ended. "My spell is spent," he informed the others. "Just before the image faded, he appeared to be still in prayer."

   "To send a message by will of the gods does take a good deal of prayer," Hakam confirmed.

   "Whom is he hoping to speak to?" asked Belvin.

   "We shall ask him;" said Hakam, "he is coming now."

   They saw the hobgoblin priest come into view, stepping into the wide cave chamber, dragging a metal chest behind him with his left hand. He looked much healthier than when they had last seen him. A piece of his skull was no longer bloody and exposed, and no arrows were stuck in his torso. He was still moving his right hand in a rhythmic motion and chanting something under his breath.

   The winged, horned hobgoblin then tossed the chest a few feet, as if it weighed less than it appeared. It landed a yard in front of him with a thud.

   "To whom are you sending?" Hakam called out.

   Durbuluk smiled and spoke clearly. "I found the ones who have the gem key. They are coming for you. The mummies are dead. I wish that I were home."

   "Oh, no you do not!" shouted Belvin, raising his bow and nocking an arrow. Twice as quickly, Leokas nocked two silver arrows simultaneously.

   Arrows flew. Durbuluk roared in pain and clutched the hanging figure of crossed broadsword and handaxe around his neck.

   "Hold your fire!" Hakam shouted.

   "He is leaving the chest for us," agreed Solisar. "He kept his word. Let him go."

   It was too late. A curtain of violet fire encircled Durbuluk as he motioned with his hand.

   "Lunk! Grab the chest!" shouted Szordrin.

   The minotaur charged, rolling into a somersault and back to his hooves again, as he triggered a burst from another wall of fire. Unhindered, he continued and passed through the second blazing barrier, shrugging of the intense burning sensations and ignoring the pain. Within the ring of heat, he saw the chest and reached out his massive clawed hands, but so did Durbuluk.

   "Not anymore," said Durbuluk, grabbing the other handle. "The agreement has been broken."

   Both tugged on the chest, but neither let go of the handle he held tightly. The minotaur was surprised by Durbuluk's strength.

   Kytharrah was not certain, but he felt like he heard a deep voice from above him speak a single word. "Granted." Durbuluk gave a sudden jerk, and the chest slipped from Kytharrah's fingers.

   Kytharrah fell flat onto his back into the ring of fire, and Durbuluk and the chest were gone.
Session: 99th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Durbuluk
The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"What is so funny?" demanded Leokas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is she still here somewhere?" asked Leokas.

"She only left just recently."

"Why did she leave?" asked Solisar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Durbuluk nodded in agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Clearly I do not," Hakam replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Durbuluk shrugged again.

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

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

"Calimshan was never yours!" protested Hakam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Beyond the fire traps?" asked Hakam.

"Yes."

"How can they be disabled?"

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

"I assume that they reset."

"They do."

"Are there other traps?"

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

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

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

"Did any other hobgoblins go with Allustairimarinastralmindivu?"

"He only took Booyagh with him."

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

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

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

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's inner sanctum."

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

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

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

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

"Stole the gate?" asked Leokas.

"This gate here?" asked Hakam.

"Yes, the gate directly behind you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is there a way to destroy the portal?"

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

"Should we destroy the portal?" asked Belvin.

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

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

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

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

"It does, to the desert sands."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I have no idea," said Durbuluk.

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

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

"Bored, bored, bored," complained Kytharrah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Can you at least recall the map?"

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

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

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

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

"Perhaps in a human court," said Durbuluk.

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

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

"And risk you escaping?" said Leokas.

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

"So be it. That is only fair," answered the fiendish hobgoblin. "Lead the way."
Session: 99th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 5 — The "Preparation Room"
They climbed up the stone steps into the ceiling some fifteen or twenty feet above, rising into another dark and massive chamber 50 feet high. The glowing omlar gem was able to illuminate most of the 50- to 60-yard cavernous room. It was empty of any visible life. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, but it appeared that any stalagmites had been broken off and filed down to make the floor as flat as possible. Large boulders and natural stone columns were distributed about the room, but the object that caught everyone's attention immediately was the portal gate in the center.

"The same black metal as what Samber uses," said Hakam.

They all approached the giant ring. It sat on a crude dais made of slabs of stone and was haphazardly embedded in concrete. It was about fifteen feet in diameter.

Szordrin, now holding the omlar gem, looked at the metal of the ring. It was made from five separate pieces. Each piece had the symbol of the Interlink Consortium of Bral etched into it. The discovery immediately triggered feelings of anger in the tiefling.

Solisar also looked more closely. "The metal is marked with the rune for fire," he explained, "just like on the odd faces of the omlar gem. It must be a portal to the Plane of Fire, though we have a scroll from the gynosphinx that we encountered that can help me identify this portal's properties more completely."

"At last," said Leokas, "we have found the portal for which the omlar gem is the key."

On hearing this, Szordrin stepped off the dais and handed the omlar gem back to Leokas. "I do not want to get too close while holding this then.

"Solisar," Szordrin continued, "use the scroll. I shall investigate the rest of this chamber in the meantime with my darkvision."

"I see in the dark too!" said Kytharrah.

"Come along then, Lunk, and I know that you are fast."

Kytharrah seemed confused but followed.

Solisar began reading the incantation from the scroll, while the other two elves and Hakam stood by. It took him about a minute, and during that time, he removed a small mirror from among his belongings. When he completed the final words, the glass of mirror began to glow a deep red color, and it looked to be covered in smoke.

"It is as we suspected," said the sun elf. "The portal activates for anyone passing through while holding the key. Actually, the key is only needed on the Material Plane side. That is, once through, the portal remains open back to the Material Plane, and, yes, its destination is on the Plane of Fire, though I cannot see through all the smoke to make out any details about the specific destination.

The others returned to report that they had found a tunnel on the opposite side of the cavern from the stairs. It seemed to slope uphill and curved to the north.

"What did the scroll reveal?" asked Szordrin.

"It leads to the Plane of Fire, but we cannot tell exactly where," Hakam replied. "I suspect that we would not be likely to survive travel through the portal at this point. That realm is not hospitable to most mortals of our kind, and I do not think that we have the magic to protect us from its heat."

"The Plane of Fire is more hospitable than many of the other Inner Planes," said Szordrin. "The Plane of Earth is just a big chunk of infinite earth and rock; the Plane of Air is just a big collection of infinite water, but at least the plane of fire has a bottom, has land to stand on. Because of the genies, there are even cities."

"You seem to know more about the place than I," said Solisar, somewhat surprised by this observation, "but is not the City of Brass still unsurvivably hot?"

"Well, yes."

"Hakam is right then," said Solisar. "We cannot pass through this gate now. We would have to come back with magical protections for all of us. Perhaps I could research such spells in Silverymoon...."

"Even with protective abjurations," said Hakam, "I will not pass through the portal without a backup plan for getting home. I shall have to acquire another planar fork tuned to the Material."

Kytharrah suddenly snorted loudly. He had spotted someone coming up the stairs. Belvin also noticed and watched as a hairy humanoid ascended. Short, pointed horns sprouted from his head, and he had long ears like an elf or goblin. The creature was garbed in leather armor, covered in studs and spikes, and carried a longsword in one hand and a handaxe in the other. When he reached the top of the steps, batlike wings unfurled behind him.

"It is Durbuluk," said Belvin. He raised his shield and scimitar.

Solisar heard the newcomer call out "Nomog smite thee!" in a fiendish tongue while pointing his sword toward Belvin.

A column of unholy fire enveloped the wild elf, and he screamed in pain as he hurriedly tried to extinguish the flames, only to find that they were no longer there; the magic was instantaneous. He dropped to his knees, his skin burning in pain.

Durbuluk leapt into the air, with a powerful flap of his wings, shooting up to the ceiling before any of the others could reach him. He hung with his axe arm around one of the stalactites.

"Belvin, are you...?" Leokas began.

"Do not talk to me; take him out!" shouted the druid. With that, he called out a frantic druidic chant, attempting to magically bind the half-fiend's wings, but he was in too much pain to complete the spell properly.

Leokas nocked an arrow.

Szordrin called out to the others. "Half-fiends have strong resistances, much stronger than tieflings!"

"Then aim for the stalactite!" Belvin replied.

Szordrin followed Belvin's advice and sent a series of force bursts at the stalactite, but the blasts did not break the stone. Leokas tossed the arrow that he had nocked to the the ground and reached for another one, silver tipped, more useful for injuring certain beings of the planes. Hakam moved off the portal dais and offered a prayer to Anachtyr to protect his companions, while Solisar rushed to Kytharrah's side.

"This is not play!" the sun elf instructed, pausing to enspell his own eyes with some divinatory magic. "Can you hit him with your 'goo bag'?"

Kytharrah tossed his last tanglefoot bag up with a powerful underhanded lob. It shattered and covered the hobgoblin cleric with a sticky mess. "Yes!" shouted the minotaur happily.

Solisar also tossed something up into the air, a tiny fragment of broken glass, which vanished.

"Try to fly now!" Leokas taunted, and he unleashed three shots of silver-tipped arrows in rapid succession. The first punctured Durbuluk's leather, but the second was deflected by either armor or magic force, and the third embedded itself into the stalactite.

Having caught his breath, Belvin retreated further back from the battle, easing his own pain with positive energy as he did so. Then, he began a summoning chant.

Durbuluk cried out in the same awful language as before, but this time, fire immolated him, thin, wispy flames of dim, purple light.

Again Solisar understood the words: "Nomog protect me with warm flame!"

"He is protecting himself from cold magic!" Solisar relayed to the others.

Hakam drew his sword and yelled out a command meant to dispel the enemy cleric's protective magic, but there was no response, and Szordrin, too, failed at attempting a spell of his own.

"I can shatter his stalactite," said Solisar, "but I need to get closer. Kytharrah, lift me up!"

Kytharrah grabbed the elf by the waist and lifted him nearly over his head, but it was a wasted effort. Two more arrows from Leokas found their target in Durbuluk's side, and then the fiendish hobgoblin let go, falling into a glide as a third arrow whizzed past him harmlessly. He glided directly at the opponent who had stuck him thrice with arrows, sword extended. Durbuluk came to the ground directly facing the wood elf, and drove his sword up with the added force of his quick descent. The blade plunged through Leokas' gut and the tip came out his lower back.

"I tried to fly," said Durbuluk in Common. He yanked the blade back out. "Did it work?"

Leokas could taste blood in his mouth, and he could feel the heat from the magical fire surrounding the evil cleric burning his skin. Time seemed to slow for Leokas, but in an instant, Hakam was at Leokas' side, before Durbuluk could take another swing, and positive energy surged through the wood elf. Durbuluk raised his sword again, but was distracted when a vial of some alchemical substance struck him, tossed by Szordrin.

Kytharrah set Solisar on the ground, grabbed his axe, and rushed over to flank the hobgoblin, while the sun elf tried to dispel the violet flames around the hobgoblin but failed to succeed.

Leokas, however, sprung back to land on the dais and drew an arrow.

"I know...." Twang. "...the most painful parts...." Twang. "...on your goblin body." Twang. Three more arrows joined their partners, and Durbuluk was beginning to look like a pin cushion. His attempts to deflect the arrows with his weapons or to strike the elf a second time failed.

"I feel no... ah!" Durbuluk's retort was cut off as a long-necked, blue-scaled, yellow-feathered creature with four sets of wings took a chunk of flesh and hair from Durbuluk's skull with its sharp beak as it swooped by. Belvin's summon from the Plane of Air had arrived. The four-eyed creature gave a high-pitched screech, as the flames about Durbuluk had burned it, and flew off to recover and circle about the massive cavern. Durbuluk now nearly stumbled over as dark goblin blood flowed onto his face from the head wound. He jumped into the air again and flapped his powerful wings to carry him some five yards into the air, but an arrow from Belvin now joined the others, puncturing one of the wings.

"Bree-yark! I yield!"

"Kytharrah, stay," said Solisar, but he readied a spell of his own just in case.

The elemental creature circled back for another nip at Durbuluk's head, as the half-fiend struggled to hover above them with powerful downward strokes of his wings.

"There are more where that thing came from," taunted Belvin.

"Spare my life, and I shall tell you everything that you want to know!"

"Tell us of Allu or I shall strike you with the wrath of the gods!" Szordrin shouted, pointing a wand of magic detection at the severely wounded foe and hoping that the half-fiend would not know the difference.

"This one is not a creature of chaos;" said Hakam, "we may be able to listen to him."

Leokas shot another arrow directly into Durbuluk's gut, precisely where the hobgoblin had stabbed him moments earlier.

"Now, I will listen." He lowered his bow, and Belvin dismissed his strange summon.

"Drop your flames, and tell us of Allu!" repeated Szordrin.

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

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."
Session: 98th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 06 2017 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 5 — The Room of Four Columns
The party returned to the cavern complex through the sea cave entrance later that evening, once the tide had lowered again. They still had yet to locate Allu's inner chambers. The interrogated hobgoblins had suggested that his elite forces might be holed up deeper in the caves, where they and Allu had retreated, beyond a massive chamber in the east with a ceiling supported by four thick columns. Supposedly, Allu's chambers were protected against the undead, they had reported, and Szordrin and Hakam had confirmed that at least one more minotaur skeleton and five smaller ones stood "waiting" in the larger room.

The lines of ash that they had left continued to remain undisturbed during their absence. Presumably, the six skeletons had not moved from where they were last seen. "I suppose that if you are already dead, it means nothing to you to stand around for a day," said Leokas.

For once, the group had the time to ready themselves for battle with knowledge of what lay ahead around the corner. Hakam lit up his shield with a prayer, while Solisar cast a similar light spell upon the omlar gem, enhancing the extent of the glow. Hakam increased Kytharrah's strength and protected him from evil. Szordrin likewise protected himself and also created false duplicates of himself. Solisar made his eyes see invisible objects and persons and created a protective forcefield around his clothing. Leokas prayed that Solonor would bless his next shot.

"Are we ready?" asked Szordrin, clutching a bit of bat guano mixed with sulfur between his fingertips, ready for a spell.

"Let us do this," said Leokas, nocking an arrow.

"We charge as soon as I finish casting this last spell," said Solisar. With that, he completed a brief incantation, and a piece of licorice root vanished from his hand.

They all felt a surge of energy and charged out of the cavern passage.

Solisar bowled the glowing omlar gem into the center of the large chamber, filling it with light, revealing five of the previously seen skeletons. A bead of red shot forth from Szordrin's fingertips and struck the ground in their midst, erupting with an echoing blast of light and flame. Bone and bone fragments were scattered in all directions, leaving only the minotaur skeleton in one piece. It threw its head back, as if giving a silent roar. An arrow from Leokas shot through what would have been its open mouth, puncturing the back of its skull. A huge chunk of that fell away, bringing the horns with it. It began to charge, but Leokas caused it to clang to the floor in pieces with a second shot.

Their own living minotaur rushed into the light, passing to the left past one of the four massive columns supporting the ceiling. He saw another skeleton, but it was the extraordinarily thick cloud shape that caught his eye. It looked like it had thick arms and fists, and it had glowing eyes in its midst. He swung his axe at it and found that it felt like he was cutting through something solid and mushy. The cloud parted in half and dissipated, its glowing eyes fading away into nothing. He stood for a moment confused.

Hakam ran after Kytharrah and spotted the same skeleton. He called on Anachtyr to send him a spiritual weapon, and a sword of force appeared before the skeleton and wasted no time in hacking apart the bones.

Three Szordrins charged around the other side of the massive column and saw another hidden opponent. "They have another mummy!" he shouted out in warning, before sending two beams of flame each from his three hand. One of the real beams struck the mummy soundly, but the others passed over her shoulder and struck the column. She was dressed and armed much like the three that they had destroyed the day before. The mummy had her eyes closed and held a posture of what might have been prayer.

Belvin and Solisar came behind Hakam, as two more skeletons rushed from out of the shadows near other columns and charged forward with scimitars waving. Solisar sent missiles of magic force toward the mummy, which he could now also see behind the column, but they seemed to have no effect on her. One of the skeletons came within ten feet of Kytharrah before he cut it in half at the lower spine and scattering its bones. A ball of fire came from Belvin's hand and obliterated the remaining one.

"That was more than six skeletons!" shouted the elven druid.

Then they all felt a bitter cold fill the chamber, which they could feel in their bones. The mummy opened her eyes, and they heard her scream some dark words that included the name of Akadi. A whirlwind blew suddenly through the chamber and a humanoid cloud coalesced near their young minotaur. The elemental being pounded into Kytharrah with the force of a hurricane, knocking him back but not hurting him greatly. It shook him up enough, however, to give the mummy an opening. With inhuman speed, she was upon him, slamming him with fist and mace. He roared in pain, taking three solid blows before at last avoiding the fourth.

Recovering from the feeling of bitter cold, Leokas and Hakam came to their companion's aid. The elf charged east past the column unto a metal-tiled floor and tried to strike the mummy with two simultaneous arrows from his bow. They missed, as mummy and minotaur circled around each other looking for openings to strike.

Hakam pointed at the mummy while stepping away from the reach of the summoned air elemental. The spiritual sword flew toward the undead priestess like a ballista bolt. She deflected the force sword with her shield, but the distraction was enough for Kytharrah to swing down at her embalmed legs, tripping her off her feet and flat onto her back. (It had worked for the previous mummies, so he figured that he would try it again.) Kytharrah hacked down at the fallen priestess, cutting deep gashes into her wrappings, and leaving her chest an ash-filled concave hollow.

Nevertheless, the undead priestess sprung up to her feet again, splintered rib fragments falling to the ground from her chest and mouth open in a shrieking curse.

Hakam silenced her by calling a column of holy fire down upon her, engulfing her in flame.

As she writhed about and burned into ashes, the elemental came at Hakam to avenge its summoner, but it was seared by magic fire from Szordrin, shooting just between Hakam and Solisar and nearly scorching them as well. The sun elf waved his wand to pummel the elemental with force bursts, while Belvin came up behind Kytharrah and healed him with positive energy from his palm.

The elemental, having lost a good portion of its mass from Szordrin's fire, took one more feeble swing at Kytharrah, who deftly dodged the vapory fist. The thing turned and flew with haste to get away, but with a lunge, Kytharrah leapt forward and swung down his axe, turning the otherworldy creature into a puff of air.

Kytharrah giggled at the bizarre effect. "Poof!" he said.

They all caught their breath, as the power of the hasting spell wore off, and looked around at the scattered skeleton bones and the four columns. Between the columns, the floor was flat and tiled with massive ten-foot plates of reddish metal. The columns were the work of crude masonry, with large red bricks.

"Ah!" Szordrin yelled out in pain suddenly, as fire that did not come from his own fingertips erupted around him. He had dismissed his illusion and simply been walking back toward the hall from which they had come. Looking behind him, a wall of violet fire, rising all the way from floor to ceiling extended the whole length from the corner of one of the square-based columns to the cavern wall, from north to south. Thankfully, his fiendish ancestry prevented him from taking severe burns, but he was going to experience what would feel like sunburn for several days after this, and his clothing was singed.

"No one move!" warned Leokas loudly. "This whole room may be trapped."

Szordrin picked up a stone and tossed it to the north, between the chamber wall and another corner of the same column. Nothing happened.

"We all already crossed over that way without incident," said Hakam.

"And I passed the other way the first time too," said Szordrin, while looking carefully at the column, floor, and ceiling. "There are scorch marks here on this other corner of the column," he said, but I cannot find the source of the flames. Belvin, summon your satyr friend and make him pass between the wall and this column to me."

"Not going to happen," answered Belvin.

"You have had him do worse," said Szordrin.

Kytharrah was bored and wanted to head down another tunnel he spotted on the northwestern corner of the massive chamber.

"Minotaur! Get back here!"

Kytharrah grudgingly obeyed. As he did so, a tuft of his fur fell from his chest, precisely where the mummy had previously pounded him with her fists.

"Kezef be bound, you have been cursed!" exclaimed Hakam. "Let me see to your wounds."

Meanwhile, Solisar cast his spell to detect auras of magic. "Yes, the line from the corner of this column to the wall is indeed trapped. The source of the flames is from the crack in the stone there on the wall." He pointed. "The columns themselves are not magical. Yet it did not trigger for the rest of us, as Hakam noted. Odd."

"It triggered on the second time," said Szordrin.

"Like the trap that crushed me," said Leokas with a shiver, recalling that dreadful experience many months ago now.

"Can a magical trap be directional?" asked Hakam. Then he shouted at Kytharrah, "Stay still until I can heal you, minotaur, or do you want all of your fur to fall out?" He examined the friendly beast's injuries. More fur dropped off, and the skin looked rotted and greenish.

"Skin smells funny," said Kytharrah.

"Spell triggers can be customized in all manner of ways," said Szordrin.

"There is another trap between the wall and this other column here," explained Solisar. "Kytharrah nearly set it off, if it triggers in this direction."

"Are we trapped then?" asked Leokas. "We can enter the center of the room yet not leave without harm."

"Perhaps that staircase is not triggered," said Belvin, pointing to where a wide staircase between the two eastern-most columns led up into the stalactite-covered ceiling.

"There is no aura about it," said Solisar, "so it is free at least from any magical traps."

"The hobgoblin scum called the room above the 'preparation room'," said Leokas, "and the location of the gate portal to Clangor."

Hakam finished his examination and curing of Kytharrah, but the skin was still gangrenous. "I cannot help him further today. I will have to ask Anachtyr for such power come morning."

"Kytharrah, how do you feel?" asked Solisar.

"Not as tough. Like bad nap."

"Are you strong enough to search this ash for more gems from the mummy?"

He happily obliged the elf. While he was thus distracted, the others discussed how to handle the traps.

"There seem to be only four of them," said Solisar, "two on each of the western-most columns. So the paths to the tunnel to our exit and to the one over there, presumably to Allu's inner chambers, are blocked."

"Perhaps there are other paths beyond where we can see across the chamber," said Belvin. He and Solisar, carrying the still-glowing omlar gem, walked around the eastern half of the chamber, beyond the columns. They returned with nothing to report.

Szordrin used his magic to feel the trap source remotely, as if with an invisible hand, but he did not have the dexterity to manipulate anything. He gave up and dared to cross the line of the trap to join the others, since they suspected it to be safe passing in that direction. Nothing happened.

"Well," he said, "this explains how the skeletons and mummy made it into this room and then were left here and could not escape."

"If we spent the night here, Belvin and I could shape the stone to encase the traps," said Hakam.

"I could also dispel a trap for a few minutes with my druidic magics," suggested Belvin.

"Let us hold off on that for now," said Hakam, "in case we have another use for that. We still have to explore upstairs; we can deal with these traps later. I also have a scroll that can ward against flames if it comes to it."

"Let me examine the steps for mechanical traps," said Szordrin. They gave him several minutes, and he was convinced that they were safe to climb.

"Ready yourselves," said Leokas. "We ascend."
Session: 98th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 06 2017 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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