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The Nightmare
Think, think… Running out of options…

Lark can feel her Zeon pool dwindling precariously, a sensation like desperate thirst in her soul. The reserves in the crest’s gem are gone. How many more blows can she deflect from her allies? Two, maybe? Will that buy them enough time to take down the monster, or should she save the energy to try and strike it again herself?

Who ARE these people? What is that thing? Where is this place?!

As her mind scrambles for a solution, a way out, the man and woman follow Lark’s flight path down the now-open walkway twenty feet below her. A hundred feet below that, fire in every direction. Not enough energy to use Flight again once, let alone twice…

The monster leaps down the path, landing inches behind the man and destroying half of the stone floor with it’s grotesque bladed arms.

It seemed to be weak to her Light magic. Perhaps…? But no, it’s too far. She’d have to get closer, into its range, and she would have no power left to defend herself…

The woman runs, leaps across the chasm, throwing herself directly onto the monster and plunging her daggers into the front of its body.

…It doesn’t matter. Lark can’t protect herself at the expense of these peoples’ lives. They may be strangers, but she won’t sacrifice them to this nightmare. She has to try.

Lark summons all the power she can muster as she flies closer: fifty, forty, thirty feet. The creature lunges for her as she casts the spell to Banish Shadows. Its flesh burns in the great burst of light, its faces scream.

But it doesn’t die.

Time seems to slow as the first boney scythe slashes towards her. She recoils, squeezing her eyes shut, throwing her hands up to shield her face. Suddenly a white-hot flash of pain shoots through her arm and she chokes on a scream. Her eyes fly open, but the image in her blurred vision doesn’t make sense; she can feel her hand hurting, more than she’s ever felt anything hurt before… but she can’t see it. All she sees is a wet red stain spreading down her sleeve under the exposed bones of her wrist.

Before she can scream again, the second scythe flashes, catches her in the ribs, and hurls her to the ground. Her vision goes black.

Lark floats in a haze of pain and darkness. What… Where am I? How long…? Whether hours or seconds had passed, she couldn’t tell. At some point she becomes aware of her Zeon reserves draining… She must be maintaining some spells, then. Had she set a light for the census team’s camp before she slept? No, they reached Brimhaven today, found that young boy, stayed in the tavern. Why did she hurt? …A monster, strange people…

Suddenly, a vision comes to her mind. A pair of beautiful eyes, shining a deep emerald-green, gaze into her own. The eyes blink, and from the right falls a verdant tear, leaving a jagged trail like a bolt of lightning. As the tear drops away, the vision fades, and suddenly Lark is shaken by a violent lurching sensation. A rushing sound fills her ears, then with a jolt she finds herself awake in her bed in Brimhaven’s tavern, drenched in cold sweat.

She lets out a faint cry at the searing pain still wracking her body, but when she finally manages to make her trembling fingers peel away her clammy nightclothes, she finds her skin is unmarked. Gradually, the pain subsides, and with some effort she slowly pulls herself up to a seated position. She hugs herself as she tries to catch her breath, shivering in the pre-dawn chill, until a soft knock at the door makes her jump.

“Miss Scarborough, are you alright?” Even muffled by the wooden door, Gabe’s quiet voice carries a note of concern.

Lark pulls a blanket from the bed to wrap around her shoulders before stumbling to the door. She opens it to see Gabe looking disheveled, his traveling coat thrown hastily over his own nightclothes, worry clear on his face even as he rubs the sleep from his eyes. He must have heard her shout from the neighboring room.

“Oh, um, yes… I’m sorry. I, uh, just had a…. a nightmare… I guess…” Her eyes have a distant, disquieted look about them, and she absently rubs her left hand with her right. She forces a weak smile. “I’m really sorry for waking you. I’m okay.”

Gabe frowns at her uneasy expression, but as a glimpse into her room reveals no apparent disturbance and Lark herself does indeed appear unharmed, he reluctantly nods. “Please don’t hesitate to call on me if you need any assistance. I’m just over here.” He starts to turn towards the indicated door, but then pauses and looks once more over Lark’s faintly trembling figure. “I have a calming spell that may help you sleep more restfully. Would you like me to try it for you?”

Lark opens her mouth to politely decline, but an image flashes in her mind of that great chamber full of blood and fire; the thought of finding herself back there makes her chest tighten. “Maybe… some rest would be good. So yes, please, if you don’t mind.”

Gabe looks relieved to be able to help. “Alright, try to relax…”

He lightly touches the top of Lark’s head as he casts his spell, and Lark feels an deep sense of calm fill her like the waters of a still pool. She sighs as the fear and tension melts away, then looks at Gabe with a more comfortable smile. “Thank you, Mister Graud.”

He dips his head, returning her smile with a small one of his own. “Think nothing of it, Miss Scarborough. I hope the morning will find you feeling better.”

She thanks him again and they return to their respective rooms, settling in for a few more hours rest before the census team is meant to regroup. Lark, feeling calm and clear-headed under Gabe’s spell, changes into a spare set of clothes and settles on the edge of her bed. Rather than sleeping, she conjures a small light, pulls a notebook from her bag, and proceeds to quickly write down every detail she can recall of the nightmare—the burning library, the obsidian tower, the roiling black sky, the stench of necromancy, the vanishing Dark wizard, the fist-fighter, the dagger-wielder. She sketches a few of the strange runes in the margins, and at the bottom of the page makes a rough drawing of the crying green eyes she saw just before waking. When she’s finished she puts her pencil away and reads over her jottings again, her gaze lingering on the eyes which she traces, thoughtfully, with her fingertips. Perhaps she should ask Elder Listair what he makes of it all in the morning. Then again, it was only a dream.

Surely, a dream…

She puts the book away, lies back down in her bed, and extinguishes the light. The room is reclaimed by darkness, and several minutes pass in inky silence stirred only by her own breath. Then, from somewhere in the village, the first soft trills of an eager songbird float to her window, and she knows the dawn is not far off. Lark closes her eyes and sinks into tranquil sleep.
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Confessions of Ishketh Gloryheart - Whispers in the Dark
Kelemvor keep my soul, for I have now seen the darkness that lies beyond the stars, and what awaits me upon my death should I fail...

My Lord's Alliance brother, Revekeus, and I had a simple task: travel to Fort Beluarian to acquire our Charter of Expedition and to connect with my contact, Liara Portyr. It proved to be anything but simple, and has shaken even my stalwart faith.

Where to begin? I know that you, Judge of the Dead, watched over me in my travels and witnessed my deeds. I will not waste your time, Wise Kelemvor, with the details of that 5-day trek through the wet grasslands guided by the good-hearted Qawasha. We saw many strange creatures, a giant snail, some gentle dinosaurs, and some not-so-gentle, enormous insects. None of these challenges, both of my temperament and my steel, proved difficult for two men of faith in a strange land. Not even the grizzly remains of a man butchered and tortured by indigenous goblins could phase us.

The plants and animals of this place make me wonder which gods had their hand in their design. Plants that can eat a man, wasps the size of a wolf, curious sprites that play games and dislike metal. I shall consult the high priests in Baldur's Gate should I ever see that glorious city again.

Arriving at the keep was a blessing, and I thanked not only you, Keeper of the Gates, but also Helm for his protection. To have a dry bed and a roof over my head was such a boon. The ordered nature of the fort reminded me of home, and the mission that I am on. All the world should be so housed, safe and secure.

Commander Portyr was able to provide us with our Charter, free of charge, in exchange for taking care of the local undead threat. As if I needed payment to partake in such a quest! We gladly accepted, bringing Qawasha and 6 fine soldiers - some Chultan, some from Baldur's Gate like myself. We are lead by a strange, and treasonous little frog-person named Wadumu. The little worm - I hope your judging hands find him soon.

Our small company is lead into the jungle and toward the ruins of an ancient city, Bulobo. It was easy enough to find - our guides were quite skilled. The center of the ruin had an obelisk and several small pillars, each with a panel and symbol. We were provided a riddle, a series of descriptions informing us the sequence we must press. Fortunately, the puzzle was simple enough that even someone of my..limited mental ability...could solve it.

While investigating the ruin, Revekeus discovered remains of several dead men, which came to life! These were not ordinary dead - a sinister plant creature had animated them. We struggled against these monsters, and the intoxicating pollen of the sinister plant, all while trying to press the sequence to complete the puzzle.

The noble soldiers we brought fought well. The numbers of the dead seemed endless. I held the faith, I brought the light. Revekeus and his Omega Squad proved deadly and vital - while fending off many dead, they started enacting the puzzle sequence. It fell to myself and Bo'ana, a former coconut tree climber turned warrior, to press the last buttons.

We did our duty. But Bo'ana and one of Omega squad fell to the dead. They sacrificed themselves so the rest of us could make it into the fain below the ruin.

The fain was a den of evil. A vile sorceress and servant of Dendar the Night Serpent, Shasskatar, had made it her lair. Her evil magics had been animating the dead nearby, making them aggressive. She attempted to turn me against my allies, to confuse my mind - but my faith was stronger. While Revekeus attempted to distract her and rob her of her power by stealing gems from the nearby edifice, I stood toe-to-toe with the creature, along with our noble allies.

We eventually won the day, but at a terrible price. The sorceress claimed the lives of all but myself, Revekeus, Qawasha, and one soldier, using her terrible dark magic. She also gave me a horrific vision - a consuming sight of Dendar the Night Serpent's coming. His power was overwhelming, his victory all-encompassing.

It was in that moment, Kelemvor save me, that my faith faltered. The darkness that I saw sits with me even now. It's like a chilling fog twisting its way through the early morning streets of Baldur's Gate.

I must not let this darkness crush me. We are all the mortar that strengthens the bricks of the Walled Garden. The soldiers that died thwarting the sorceress, and any others that die on this journey, and even myself - it cannot be for nothing, it cannot all end in darkness and madness. I fear that I will toil my whole life to build the Walled Garden, just to watch it topple and burn.

Kelemvor, Helm, Torm - watch over me, and us all. Dark times are upon us.
Session: Off to Fort Beluarian - Friday, Dec 08 2017 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Interlude: The Regent of Jhothûn
~ fifth-day, 25th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, evening
miles above Toril


"He will allow us to use the portals as we will, and we may request our wishes through magical sendings."

   Hakam was filling in the details of their visit to Jhothûn to the others. Tavis and Kaedlaw had remained behind and the genie and Tavis were to discuss what the throne's revelation meant for the boy, for Hartsvale, for Jhothûn, and for all of giantkind.

   "My geas has been fulfilled, and our exile is over," said Leokas.

   "We await word from Tavis, as we may need to fly him home, but after that, we can go anywhere we would like," said Hakam. "The question is, where next?"

   "With this vessel," said Szordrin, "nothing prevents us from flying to the Rock of Bral and tracking down the Interlink Consortium. All our destinies are intertwined with that one rock. Only if we know where Samber has been in the past will we be able to know what he is truly up to. And where better to inquire than Bral?"

   "I agree that we should visit Bral eventually," said Leokas, "but I think that we need more information first."

   "I am inclined to agree with Leokas on this," said Solisar. "I admit that I know very little of the place."

   "Teshburl, then?" said Szordrin. "We can follow leads on Walker, who we know had dealings with Samber."

   "Or we could rendezvous with Jayce at Lantan," said Hakam, "since he seems to be making progress with his investigation into Samber's background. Plus, Ombert, The Daisy's captain may be able to use the stars to guide us all back to Samber's island so that we can return Ilthian to her family."

   "We also told Mythlos, Cassiera, and my mother that we would meet them again at Mythlos' keep in Tethyr," said Leokas.

   "This is perhaps lower priority," said Solisar, "but a visit to Evermeet would permit me speak with my grandmother about what I learned about Iyraclea while on the Great Glacier."

   "You intend to stay with us, then," asked Leokas, "now that you have the option of leaving?"

   "I am greatly intrigued by the matter of Samber," said Solisar, "perhaps more now than ever...."

   "And you, Belvin?" asked Hakam, "Has your jungle god given you more visions?"

   Belvin shrugged. "I shall decide where Kamil and I are to travel when I need to."

   "One thing that I have wanted to do since Thultanthar," said Hakam, "is return to Sseth and retrieve Allu's genie bottle. I warrant that we are prepared to speak with the efreeti now and question him about how he obtained Samber's omlar gem. I think that I shall send Sseth a message in the morning."

   "I am against the idea of going to Allu's palace," said Szordrin. "Both Allu and the blue dragon could potentially be there."

   "Fair enough. I agree that Walker is probably as good a source about Samber right now as is Allu," said Hakam.

   "I also wish to return to Silverymoon, before heading to Teshburl," said Szordrin. "We have many things to sell, and from your descriptions, it sounds like there is much we could purchase."

   "I agree," said Leokas. "We are out of provisions. We can probably ask the genie here for a day's food, but genie-created food lasts no longer than that. Our new vessel could also use some ballista bolts."

   "Some furnishings would also be appreciated," said Hakam.

   "...And some sailing implements," added Solisar.

   "Well, then there is the matter of what to wish for...," Hakam began.

   This second discussion took them nearly an hour, and they arrived at no full consensus, though they were leaning toward some way of protecting the spelljammer. Ultimately, they decided to sleep on the decision.

~~~~

Just after dawn of the next day, Hakam woke the others. "I sent a message to our brass dragon friend about meeting up with him sometime in the future to retrieve Allu's bottle. I had to waste two sending spells to get a response, but he rambled something off about 'skeletons swarming toward Allu's palace from... the Altar...' of the Air. At least I assume that he meant the Altar of the Air; he did not get all the words out."

   "That may change my vote," said Leokas. "We should visit with Sseth in person and learn more."

   "I agree," said Szordrin, "but we should still stop at Silverymoon and Teshburl on the way."

~~~~

Several hours later, each of them were scattered about the spelljammer, resting and waiting. Ilthian and Solisar were in Ilthian's room, writing out math problems to solve how long the spelljammer's magical bubble of air would last before they would need to return to the surface to replenish it.

   Suddenly, Belvin leapt to his feet from beside Kamil. He had spotted a cloud of vapor coming over the railing. "The Ice Queen!" he shouted to the others, and then he began chanting. An instant later, a column of fire appeared, striking the growing cloud at its center.

   The cloud took shape, as the others rushed over. No sooner had a thick hand formed from the gases then a ray of frost and ice shot forth from the fingers, covering Belvin's skin with white.

   Calm yourselves, they all heard in their heads. It was the qorrashi's voice. I have been sent by the Regent of Emperor Kaedlaw to summon you.

   Belvin wiped the frost from his face and shivered. He was very cold but otherwise not harmed. If the ice genie was injured, he did not show any sign of it.

   "How did you find us?" asked Leokas as Solisar arrived onto the deck to see what the commotion was about.

   I am no longer bound by oath not to leave the palace, said the Prince of Jhothûn. As a genie, I need not air for flight. I suspected that you would be somewhere up, and it is not difficult to spot a sailing craft in the heavens if you rise high enough.

   "I assume that by 'Regent' you mean Tavis?" asked Hakam.

   No, said the genie, I did not. Though the emperor's father may wish to speak with you as well. Do not keep the Regent waiting. If you join hands with mine, I can take you there immediately through the Astral Plane. However, I warn you that the touch of my skin is painful to most mere mortals such as yourselves.

   "Anachtyr, protect me from the elements," Hakam prayed. Then he said to the qorrashi, "I shall take your hand."

   Kytharrah rushed up excitedly and grabbed the genie's left hand. "Very cold!" he said, as the frost nipped his fingers, but he wore a toothy grin on his face. Hakam took the genie's right hand and grimaced at the cold, which was painful despite his prayer.

   I can carry several others through as well, if more of you wish to come. Simply join hands with your companions. Solisar joined with Hakam and Kytharrah, since he hoped to see more of such a historical site as Jhothûn, and Szordrin did as well.

   They all felt a strange and momentary sensation, then found themselves standing in the throne room of Jhothûn. There, leaning against one of the pillars, was Tavis, who was restringing his massive bow. Nearby, the throne of ice and stone was empty, but beside it was a larger obsidian throne of simpler design. Sitting upon it, was the misshapen form of Basil of Lyndusfarne.

   "Am du paart, Solisar of Evermeet!" said the old verbeeg.

   "Am du paart, Regent of Jhothûn!" the sun elf replied.

   "I trust that you have been well this last month or so?"

   "Ignoring the fact that I was stabbed to death by a lamia noble, yes."

   "Annam's juveler!" said Basil.

   "My god returned my powers, and I called him back to the living," said Hakam.

   "Clearly, we have much to talk about, friends," said Basil, as if he knew all of them, though in reality he had only ever talked to Solisar before.

   They learned that Kaedlaw had already returned home to his mother, by the power of the wish. Tavis would be returning home soon in the same manner, but he had wanted to thank the members of the party and say goodbye before departing.

   Brianna and Tavis had spoken with the Prince of Jhothûn at great length, and it had been decided that Basil would reign as regent until Kaedlaw came of age. This would require a long time spent in near solitude for the verbeeg, but at the moment, the idea of exploring the four floors of the citadel excited him more than any concerns of loneliness. Besides, the powers of the genie could wish friends back and forth from Hartsvale three times a day if needed.

   As for Queen Brianna and Tavis, they had much to consider in regards to what to do with the fact that their son was the future ruler of not only the tiny kingdom of Hartsvale but perhaps of all the giant tribes of Faerûn! For now, they intended to wait and seek out advice from what giant and giant-kin allies they had. They suspected that most giants would not accept the news readily. At least they had many years for Kaedlaw to grow up.

   In regards to the portal, they had decided to leave the delusional orc druid on the Sea of Moving Ice and the ice devil Tosvin as portal guardians of Karffbadh and Gharreil, respectively. They would serve as first line of defense for the hidden citadel. Now that the qorrashi was no longer bound by oath to the palace, he could pass through the portals, or indeed go anywhere he needed, to also defend the secret. For the portal at Choshein, Brianna had sent Hrodmar, the frost giant guard of Earls Bridge, to serve as guardian. (Hrodmar was happy to give Kytharrah one last wrestling match.)

   The genie provided them with another luscious meal and also with temporary provisions that would last them on the journey to Silverymoon, where they planned to first stop to resupply.

   Solisar sat next to Basil while they ate and told him some of the details of his brief visit to the Fugue Plane. Then the conversation turned to what Basil had learned so far of Jhothûn.

   "Iseheim, I mean Jhothûn, contains no books that have survived the ages," said Basil, "but the genie here revealed to me that there are ancient crypts below. I expect to spend a good deal of my time there examining what friezes I may find. I believe that the base of little Kaedlaw's throne shows the handiwork of stone giants, and I would not be surprised to find more gifts of theirs from the earliest days of Ostoria in those crypts. The steinjotunen were the only true record-keepers of the Jotunbrud. Surely, you will want to stay and explore them with me?"

   "Believe me when I tell you that I would like nothing more," said Solisar. "What scholar of the Jotunbrud would not? However, I seem tied into something greater — or at the least, more urgent — taking place perhaps among the human gods. My companions have been exiled now many months, which has kept them from their true quest, and I am now a part of it. As they are at last free from exile, they are anxious to set out again. May I kindly request a postponement?"

   "Of course!" said Basil. "Remember, I am a verbeeg; what is mine is yours."

   "He means to say, 'What is yours is his,'" said Tavis.

   "Basil, I must warn you of something," said Solisar. "The guardian of the portal at Gharreil is an evil entity who serves a powerful priestess of the human goddess of winter. She is perhaps immortal, so great is her magic. I know not yet the full extent of her plans, but she lusts after the treasures hidden in this city. I do not know how her magics compare to those of the genie who now serves you, but be aware of the matter, and use caution."

   "I thank you for this," said Basil.

   After the dinner, they said goodbye to their friends. "Tell Leokas that I enjoyed the challenge of shooting archery with him and learning of the beasts of the High Forest," said Tavis to Hakam. "I shall remember him if ever I nock an arrow against a goblin."

   Tavis then gave Kytharrah a large bear hug, and lifted the minotaur off his feet. This surprised Kytharrah, but he snorted happily.

   "Keep following the guiding light," said the firbolg.
Session: 92nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 19 2017 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Annam's Heir
~ fourth-day, 24th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
somewhere over the Silver Marches


There was a gentle knock on Ilthian's cabin door. She got up off her pile of blankets and opened it.

   "Good morning! It is time for your writing lesson."

   "Solisar! Hakam fixed you!" She jumped up and down with delight.

   "Yes, yes, he did," said Solisar, "though I feel weaker than I felt before."

   "Did he fix Kytharrah also?"

   "Indeed, he is above deck now, standing at the railing. We are on our way back to the ice genie, and then we will be able to go wherever we want."

~~~~

"We cannot fly the spelljammer directly to Choshein," said Leokas emphatically. "I absolutely will not permit it. Whoever has been scrying on us will see that we have traveled there and know the location."

   The party were gathered below deck, as the ship sailed through the sky on its own wind power. Tavis and Kaedlaw were eating a second breakfast, and Kytharrah and Ilthian were practicing writing.

   "Not if we keep Ilthian in her room," said Belvin. "All the scrier will see is the wooden walls of the cabin."

   "As long as the scrier does not switch to scrying on one of us," said Solisar. "As of earlier, when I visited her, the scrier was still focused on her and not any of us."

   "It is a risk that we have to take," said Hakam.

   "No," said Leokas, "I cannot permit such risks, not while under the influence of this geas."

   "What do you suggest then? That we abandon the spelljammer somewhere in the desert, leave Ilthian behind on the vessel, and ride our camels to Choshein with Tavis and Kaedlaw?"

   "We are not going to abandon Ilthian," said Solisar.

   "It was not a serious suggestion," said Hakam. "I have a duty to see that she returns to her home."

   "I am more concerned about someone stealing our spelljammer, wherever we chose to leave it," said Szordrin. "The fact of the matter is that Ilthian cannot go anywhere near the portal to Jhothûn anymore, and we cannot leave her alone, so we are going to have to split up. We were nearly defeated by a small band of lamia when most of us were present; if they or another band of Shadovar or a blue dragon spot a sailing vessel in the desert, it will attract attention."

   "I agree," said Hakam, "but the spelljammer is less likely to be stolen at the entrance of the cave to Choshein than if we leave it over the desert and some of us travel on camel. Leokas, if Ilthian stays in her cabin, the scrier will not even know whether or not we have stopped."

   "A ship of this size can be spotted for miles, especially from the air," said Leokas. "We could avoid detection of our approach to Choshein on foot easily enough, but even if we are safe from the scrier, while some of us travel to Jhothûn, many hours may pass with the ship drawing attention to our location. As Szordrin said, there are indeed blue dragons in this desert. It is a miracle none have tried to take us out of their skies yet."

   "While some of you go to visit the ice genie, I can take this vessel into the heavens," said Belvin, "into the Sea of Night. Is not that where it was designed to sail?"

   "He is right," said Solisar. "From Szordrin's and my investigations, I am convinced that the magic force surrounding this craft will give us air to breath for the duration. No dragon can fly so high."

   "I can send Belvin a message to descend again and pick us up whenever the matter with the ice genie is resolved," said Hakam. "We will only need to have the ship anywhere near the entrance to Choshein for the brief time that it takes for those of us going to descend the rope to the ground. What say you, Leokas? Will the geas permit such a minor risk if ultimately it means that the emperor of Jhothûn has been found?"

   Leokas nodded.

   So this is what they did. For the rest of the day and into the night, first Leokas and then Szordrin piloted their flying vessel from the helm chair. Belvin remained at watch, scanning the skies for dragons or other dangers. They retraced the journey from Silverymoon up the river and to Fork Road and Ascore. By night, they flew over Ascore and Hlaungadath until they came to the edge of Anauroch's glacier. This they followed south-southeast until they came to a great corner in the wall of ice and began following it east-northeast. When daylight came, they were passing through a gap in a large north–south mountain range. From here, Leokas again took the helm, watching carefully with his extended senses the lay of the icy land as they headed north over the High Ice. When highsun came, they had at last arrived at the cave entrance to what was once a subterranean frost giant city.

   Leokas, Hakam, and Tavis and his son descended the rope to the ground, and the others waved them off as they entered the dark opening. Belvin then took the helm, as Solisar stood nearby.

   "Take us up," said Solisar.

   Belvin willed the ship to rise and continue rising. Solisar went quickly to the deck, where Kytharrah was standing at his usual spot on the railing. Szordrin was also present.

   "We are very high!" said the minotaur.

   "Yes," said Solisar, as indeed the ground grew farther and farther away, beginning to look less like land and more like a simple blur of white and yellow. "I have never been this high, and we are going much higher."

   "Why is the world bending?"

   "It is always round like a ball," answered the sun elf. "You only cannot tell because it is very big, and usually you are standing on it."

   "Is the sky getting darker?"

   "It is. We are entering the Sea of Night. We are flying into the always-nighttime where the stars live."

   "There they are! I see them!" The minotaur spun around pointing as the points of light became more and more visible as the blue sky faded away into the darkness of Realmspace. "I can still see the guiding light, even though it is night," said Kytharrah, pointing at the sun above them.

   "Ferry does not like this," said Szordrin. The camels seemed agitated as well.

   Belvin joined them on the deck. "High enough for you?"

   "I never knew that Toril would look so beautiful from up here," said Solisar. "Truly the Seldarine have blessed us to see such a sight."

~~~~


"One, two, three, step!"

   Leokas, Hakam, Tavis, and Kaedlaw found themselves under a gold-plated domed ceiling, painted with images of snowflakes and clouds. They were back in the Palace of the Emperors in Jhothûn.

   "Where are we, Papa?" asked Kaedlaw, who had had no experience of traveling through magical portals. "Where did the cave go?"

   "This may be our new summer home, Son," said Tavis. "Do you think that Mama will like it?" Tavis gazed around. "It is certainly more giant-sized than Castle Hartwick," he continued to no one in particular. "I will not have to worry about banging my head on things anymore."

   A cloud of bitter cold ascended from below until it was level with the wide, circular balcony on which the four visitors stood. The ice genie, the qorrashi, the last Prince of Jhothûn materialized before them.

   You have returned, my guardian. Have you completed your quest? Have you found the heir.

   "We believe that we have," answered Leokas.

   "We are certain that this young giant child has the blood of Annam's youngest son in his veins," said Hakam. "Whether the throne of ice and stone accepts him remains to be seen."

   [i]The blood of Arno and Julien?
Tavis cringed when he heard the genie's words in his head. Did I not explain to you that Ottar stood higher in the ordning than the ettin?

   "Yes," answered Hakam, "you did explain this, but you also told us of the prophesied last son of Annam, who had not yet been born, did you not? This boy here has the blood of both Arno and Julien and the prophesied final son. That final son was indeed born, far to the north in a little-known land of Hartsvale. The humans of that land called him Hartkiller, and his descendants still reign there to this day."

   "My wife," said Tavis, "the boy's mother, is a descendant of Hartkiller."

   "What manner of giant are you?" asked the Prince in Jotun.

   "I am a child of Othea and Ulutiu," said Tavis, bowing humbly. "I am a firbolg."

   The genie expressed confusion upon its frozen face. Does the boy have firbolg blood as well? No one with tainted blood could be the true heir.

   "The story is indeed complicated and unpredictable," said Hakam. "You will not believe it if you hear it first. Withhold your judgment; permit us let the boy sit upon the chair, and then we shall tell you strange plan that Annam has seemingly laid out. We also have learned the fate of Ottar, your liege."

   You discovered Ottar's fate?

   "He was betrayed and poisoned by Lanaxis," said Tavis. "I have seen his corpse with my own eyes."

   Lanaxis... did this?

   "We will tell everything," said Hakam. "May we go to the throne room? Our stories will matter not if the boy is not chosen."

   Come, said the genie. He floated down the large hall away from the portals, and they followed him. He led them to the end of the hall, where it intersected with a larger, window-filled one. They had come this way before, as it was the only way for non-flying creatures to descend to the lower levels of the palace. The qorrashi took them to the banquet hall where he had first told them of their quest. From there, they took a staircase and then another, down to the first floor of the palace. A short distance later, they entered a large rectangular chamber, supported by high narrow pillars.

   Here sat the "throne of ice and stone". It was large enough to seat a storm giant. The four feet of the throne were carved from rock and shaped like the skulls of white dragons. The rest of the chair looked to be carved from solid ice. The back of the chair appeared like thick icicles arranged side-by-side.

   Have the boy take a seat on the throne, said the Prince, but be ready to remove him should the chair reject him.

   "Go on, Kaedlaw," said Tavis. "Hop up in the chair."

   Kaedlaw went over to the throne. It was too large for him to be able to pull himself up onto it. Tavis came over and gave him a boost.

   As soon as his little — by giant standards — rump sat down on the square block of ice, the throne began to melt. Water pooled upon the floor, as the arm rests and icicle-back reduced in size. Within a few moments, the ice of the throne had shrunk down to fit Kaedlaw snugly, as if it had been carved to his size all along. Kaedlaw giggled. "The chair moves funny, Papa."

   "Is it cold?" asked Tavis.

   "No, just slippy."

   The genie floated over and circled the throne several times, examining it.

   "Stôllinn hefur validh." spoke the genie. Then he translated for them in their minds. The chair has chosen. So Ottar's dynasty is ended, and this unexpected child is both Annam and Ottar's heir. Then the genie floated low to the ground as if bowing low and swore fealty and service to Kaedlaw in the tongues of giants.
Session: 91st Game Session - Wednesday, May 31 2017 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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