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Chapter 1 — Treat for the Trash Monster
"We need to pass through your sewer drain," said Hakam. "If you let us through, I will stop my spell."

   "Or," said the monster, "I eat you; that also stop spell."

   Hakam calmed the winds, and the water flowed back, covering the creature, but it kept its tentacles out of the water. They noticed that only two of its three tentacles had the thorny growths; the other, shorter one had a column of two eyeballs, with which it observed each of them. When it seemed convinced that the wind was stopped, the tentacles moved forward and half of its body emerged from the water until they could see its ridiculously wide mouth again.

   "What do you need to let us through?" asked Hakam, assuming that its ears — or whatever it used for hearing — were also above the water.

   "More food," said the bizarre beast.

   "How about him?" said Szordrin, motioning toward Martho.

   The eyeball-containing tentacle focused on Martho.

   "What? No!" Martho protested.

   Hakkam chided Szordrin for this comment. "He is only joking, Martho. Pay him no heed."

   "Living food not tasty," said the monster. "Too clean!"

   "Hakam, you should create some of that delicious juice with your magic!" said Szordrin.

   Hakam seemed to understand Szordrin's bluff. "I shall do that." He pointed his finger in front of the monster. "Anachtyr, grant thine water to quench this creature's thirst."

   Gallons of pure water flowed out of nothing a foot above the murky pool and poured into it just in front of the creature. It dunked one of its longer tentacles into the water, and then rocked back and forth in anger.

   "Now pool taste worse! You made my water cleaner!"

   "But it has a terrific aftertaste," said Szordrin, "Just wait five minutes."

   "I wait," said the monster, who seemed to believe the lies that Szordrin was telling it wholesale until its own senses told it otherwise.

   Martho went up to Hakam and whispered, "I do not think that it fancies the same kinds of food that we do; it swims in sewage after all!"

   "We bought ourselves sometime for the others to arrive at least," said Hakam.

   "How do you know they are not dead?"

   "For all their faults, they have their talents," he answered.

   "How do you know that they will not continue on to the ship?"

   "They will either see the error of their ways and join us soon or they will find their own way out. I assume the latter, but it will not hurt to give them five more minutes."

   "I will check back to see if the others have come down the ladder," said Szordrin. "If not, we just continue without them from here."

~~~~

The three elves and the minotaur reached the bottom of the ladder in safety with the sole survivor, whose name was Barth.

   "I can walk on my own," the man said, "you can put me down now."

   Kytharrah did so.

   "Where did they go? Kytharrah, can you hear or smell Hakam or Szordrin?"

   "Too stinky," said Kytharrah. His nose was overwhelmed by the stench of the sewage. He did, however, see a gate with his darkvision. He bounded to it over a metal, grated walkway over the sewage.

   Solisar made his staff glow with magic, so the others could see where their minotaur went.

   "I think that I hear voices in the other direction," said Leokas. "Over that lowered bridge there."

   At the gate, Kytharrah looked through a tunnel and could see a waterfall pouring down, which intrigued him.

   Suddenly, from out of the corner of his eye, what looked to be puddle of water on the stone ground formed a sort of slimy pseudopodial tentacle that struck against his left leg. He barely felt the blow, but his leg began to sting, and the skin beneath the fur began to sizzle.

   Kytharrah grunted loudly. Solisar heard it and looked in that direction. He noticed that what looked to be a gray puddle of water was definitely moving, most likely some sort of ooze. He did not have time to warn Kytharrah, however.

   The minotaur swung down hard with his axe. It cut right through the puddle and drove into the rock below. The puddle was definitely not water at all. It was about three inches thick and jiggled all over when struck. It was moving as if it were alive. It had some sort of thick membrane, and gray slime was now oozing out from where he had severed it. Part of its surface was rising up to form a snake-like "arm". Kytharrah also noticed that the surface of his axe blade was bubbling and foaming. He tried to yank it back out of the ground as quickly as possible.

   Kytharrah looked at his axe. The cutting edge was flattened and distorted and still foaming. Perplexed, Kytharrah rushed away. Another yard-long pseudopod lashed out, but Kytharrah was too quick for it. Before the pseudopod could recede back into the puddle, it was splattered apart by three simultaneous arrows. The ooze, whatever it was, stopped moving after that.

   "I will not be recovering those arrows," said Leokas.

   "Good, you are here," said Szordrin. He had come around the corner, looking for them, while they waited for the trash monster to taste the water again.

   "We think that we found a way for all the water here to exit," he explained to them. "It might be a way out for us as well."

   They followed the wizard around into the large chamber with the pool. As they walked over the metal grating, Szordrin explained to them the situation. Kytharrah looked at the ruined blade of one side of his axe, still confused as to what had just happened. At least the other side was still sharp.

   When they joined with Hakam and Martho in the alcove, the monster was submerged again, except for its single eye tentacle, with which it continued watching them. Szordrin explained how he planned to magically suggest that the monster move somewhere else.

   "Then what?" asked Barth, whom they had rescued. "What is this monster blocking?" He seemed unnerved by the brown leaf shape with two eyeballs in it that was poking out of the murky water and staring at him.

   "Martho told us that the sewage is vented into wildspace," said Hakam. "I suggest that we go down the drain and let it take us outside the asteroid."

   "Yes, we do vent our sewage, but...."

   "Smells bad!" said Kytharrah.

   Barth nodded.

   "How do we know that any of us will fit through the drain?" asked Solisar. "Or more importantly, Kytharrah?"

   "I saw the opening with my magic," said Hakam. "It was about five feet in diameter. He could fit."

   "Perhaps those manhole covers that I found are another way out," suggested Szordrin.

   "I think that we should explore more before we resort to flushing ourselves out with the waste!" said Solisar.

   Hakam turned toward the eyestalk and spoke to it. "Monster, where does this drain take the water? Does it lead outside?"

   Barth jumped back, bumping into Belvin, as the creature's mouth raised up out of the water and bared its teeth to speak. "It goes away."

   "I am not one of the maintenance workers," said Barth, "but I know that we vent our waste into wildspace. The sewage probably falls down to the gravity plane and then flows out of the asteroid. I never stopped to think about where we get our fresh water...."

   "How long is the drop?" asked Hakam.

   "We came down one level, so we are five stories above the gravity plane now," said Barth.

   "Ask it if there are other exits beside the drain," said Solisar.

   "How you get here?" asked the monster. "I not fit out any holes here," it added.

   "Then how did you get in here to begin with?" asked Martho.

   "My home!" said the monster, as if that answered the question.

   Szordrin once again repeated the idea of examining the manhole covers, and Solisar suggested opening the gate that they had foubd. The monster then interrupted them. "Drink still tastes bad! I waited!" It was sounding rather grumpy now and began to rock back and forth.

   "The magic drink must only work for humanoids," Hakam tried to explain.

   "Okay," said the exceptionally gullible monster, "but still hungry." At least it stopped rocking.

   Kytharrah tossed some rations from his pack into the pool.

   The monster gobbled them down in one messy chomp, which almost splashed all of them. "Food disgusting! You try poison me!" Once again, it rocked back in forth, which seemed to be how its kind expressed displeasure.

   Kytharrah slouched his shoulder's feeling a bit dejected.

   "You, what is your name?" asked Hakam.

   "Barth, saer."

   "Barth, do you have any ideas what we can feed this thing?"

   "Well, this is a sewer; perhaps someone could just urinate in the water."

   Kytharrah and Belvin, both wearing kilts, each took a step closer to the water.

   "No! No!" The monster rocked back and forth. "That boring, every-day taste; want new and special taste. Give me new, good taste!"

   "We could feed it the dead ooze that we just killed," said Solisar.

   "Can you summon something dirty for it to eat, Belvin?" asked Hakam.

   Szordrin removed a vial from his potion belt and dumped a little bit into the water. "I have some of the werewolf blood," he explained to the others. "Let us try a little of that and see if it likes it."

   The monster slurped the area up. "Yum!" said the monster, now bouncing up and down as if its legs were made of springs. "What is it? It very yummy!"

   "Tell it that if it moves out of the way, we will give it the rest of it," said Hakam in a lower voice to the others.

   "Even if it moves," said Szrodrin, "how to we go through. It is a 50-foot drop!"

   "Yes," said Hakam, "but we will fall with the water and then hit a harmless gravity plane at the bottom."

   Few of the rest of them were keen on holding their breath long enough to get flushed down a drain with raw sewage to fall for five stories.

   "We need to get more of this yummy drink for you," said Szordrin to the monster. "We will be back in a short time."

   The monster continued to bounce, which they assumed meant that it was content for the time being and would not try to eat them.

   They began to head back along the grating to where the winch and ladder were.

   "We should split up," suggested Szordrin. "We have been wasting too much time finding a way out."

   "I do not think that it is wise to split up," said Leokas. "We know that there are acidic blobs around."

   Solisar warned the others, "They look like moving puddles of water. Be careful."

   They went to the gate first. It was locked with a padlock. Szordrin tried to pick it, but he failed.

   "Minotaur, bust it open."

   Kytharrah pounded it with a heavy blow and knocked it clean off its hinges.

   The tunnel behind the gate went through stone and led to a narrow metal platform. From the platform, they looked over at the waterfall of sewage. Up above about one story, where the dirty water poured over, they could see another metal platform, but they would need a ladder or something, placed at an angle, to get up there.

   So, they went carefully past the remains of the acidic ooze to the manhole cover that Szordrin had earlier found. (Kytharrah was still carrying one half of the gate with him, in case he needed to whack a monster with it.)

   Szordrin used his grappling hook like a crowbar to lift open the access cover, revealing another ladder going down into the darkness.

   "Who wants to go down?" asked Szordrin.

   Belvin climbed down the ladder with Kytharrah's everburning torch. It descended for about 20 feet. There was a small crawlspace at the bottom and he followed it for 30 yards or so. He shouted back what he could see and then began crawling forward. Leokas, having waited long enough to satisfy his superstition that going second could result in being killed by timed traps, followed down after his friend. At the end of the five-foot-diameter crawlspace, they found a large metal valve wheel. Leokas relayed this back to the others.

   They were in favor of turning the wheel to see what would happen. So, Belvin gripped it and slowly turned it clockwise. Within the tunnel they heard the sound of creaking to their left and the tunnel began to rumble.

   Belvin turned it is far as it could go. Leokas crawled back to see if the others could observe any change. The water was still pouring over the falls, which disappointed them. They couldn't yet notice any other changes.

   "Has the water level changed?" Szordrin asked, but this did not appear to be the case.

   "It may just be me," said Solisar, as he was looking around for a difference, "but I think that the current has changed somewhat. See, the current on that side is moving faster than the current on this side of the bridge."

   "Was the wheel turned to an intermediate setting when you found it?" asked Szordrin.

   "No, Belvin said that it was all the way on or off to begin," said Leokas.

   Upon exploring further, they found that the wheel had caused a sluice gate on one side of the large collecting pool to close, blocking the flow of the water into the pool from the one direction. This forced the water to flow along the other alternate path.

   "Presumably, there is another sluice gate on the other side," said Szordrin, "controlled by a wheel down the other manhole cover, but if we close both gates, the water will not be able to reach the drain, and then this whole sewer will flood."

   "But we did not close the drain," said Solisar. "If we close both gates, the water in the pool will drain, leaving an open exit tunnel."

   "The water level would begin to rise until it poured over the sluice gates to refill the pool," said Hakam.

   "We would have five feet of water level to work with before the water would overflow," said Solisar, looking down. "So, we would have a temporary window of time where we could exit through the drain, before the water would overflow over the gates. We can ensure the monster that its sewage will return shortly after we leave."

   "It does not sound like the smartest of creatures, though," said Hakam.

   "Is this monster even a threat to us," asked Leokas, "even if it does try to attack us?"

   "We can appease it by giving it the rest of the werewolf blood," said Solisar.

   "Yes, let us do that," said Szordrin.

   "I still say that we just go through the sewage and not risk angering this monster unnecessarily," said Hakam.

   Kytharrah shook his head. He had a hard time following most of the time when his little friends talked about plans, but he was relatively sure that Hakam was suggesting that they jump into a big toilet.

   "Do not you mages have cantrips that can clean us all off afterward?" asked Leokas.

   "In limited amounts, yes," said Solisar. "Presently, I would only have the arcane power to clean my own person."

   Leokas sighed. "I think that Hakam may be right. Time may be running out. Who knows what the neogi have already done here by now or how our sailors and our ship have fared. I think that we just need to overcome our emotions of disgust and jump in that pool."

   "If your concern, Hakam, is the monster's reaction," said Solisar, "let us just get it to move over to the other side of the gate and give it its 'snack'. We close the second gate while it is distracted, and even if it notices and is upset, it will not be able to come over to the other side until the water level rises high enough to refill the pool."

   At last, they had a solution that satisfied all of them.

   They set their plan in motion. Szordrin talked the monster into following him into the tunnel and around the U-turn all the way up to the metal drawbridge, where it could not see the sluice gates or the pool. Then he offered it the rest of the werewolf blood as a reward, in small samples to buy them as much time as possible.

   Meanwhile, Belvin, down the second manhole cover, turned the wheel that they expected to find there. Sure enough, a second sluice gate closed. Now, the water had no where to go and began to rise on one side of the gates, as the waterfall continued to pour. They all rushed to the pool and watched as it drained, hoping that it would drain before the water on the other side of the two gates began to overflow.

   The monster seemed to have enjoyed its treat and did not seem to be making any efforts to follow them or worse.

   A stone "ramp" descended down from the alcove where the monster kept its recovered trinkets, so they all could easily walk down to the drain hole, just as the last of the dirty water poured out. The rocky bottom of the pool was dirty and slippery, but less so than they might have expected, perhaps because the monster had scraped any "food" from the surface of its pool with its scraping tentacles. It was still going to be a gross plan of escape, but at least the sewage wouldn't be going into their ears and nose and threatening them with the potential for disease.

   "Hey!" said the monster. They turned back and saw its two eyeballs raised over the sluice gate. "Where my water?" It was time to go.

   Hakam sat at the edge of the drainage hole and then dropped himself in, falling slowly by the power of his magic ring. He descended 50 feet to emerge out of the ceiling of a circular tunnel, about 15 feet in diameter. He stopped falling in the center of the tunnel and floated there in open air, almost as if he were floating in water.

   By the light of his glowing shield, he could see ahead of him that the tunnel indeed seemed to open into the blackness of space, about 40 feet ahead, and he was bobbing and drifting toward it. Spinning himself around, using his arms and legs to get momentum, he saw, also about 40 feet away, a round metal hatch with a wheel for opening it.

   He needed to be able to reach something to stop from drifting out too quickly. He clutched his holy symbol and prayed. Now, he was able to stand on air as if it were solid ground, and he stopped drifting.

   Solisar appeared, using his flying spell to descend in a controlled manner and hover beside Hakam.

   One by one, all the others plummeted down the shaft, entering the air-filled tunnel, slowling suddenly upon crossing the opposing gravity beyond the gravity plane, and striking (safely) the bottom of the tunnel to spring back.

   "Praise Celestian!" said Barth. "I am still alive."

   "We are on the same level as our ship now," said Hakam. "Do we go outside and try to move around the asteroid? or do we try to pass through that hatch? Martho or Barth, do you know where that round door leads?"

   "If we are at the gravity plane," said Barth, "it may enter the shipping facility."

   "The company is run from the upper half of the asteroid," said Martho. "The lower half is the warehouse and the production chambers."

   "There is a central shaft through the entire warehouse half of the asteroid," continued Barth. "When orders are being filled, crates are dropped down the shaft to the gravity plane and floated out to the docks to be shipped."

   "Does the warehouse area connect to the corporate offices?" asked Hakam.

   "Not directly," said Barth. "The only entrance to the headquarters is from the stairwell running up from the docks."

   "The ones that I led you up," said Martho.

   "So, there is a chance that the invaders will not be in the warehouse and shipping areas," suggested Hakam, "at least not more likely than anywhere else in the asteroid. Although, they can tunnel...."

   "The alternative is climbing or dragging ourselves along half the circumference of the asteroid while in the gravity plane," said Solisar. "It is a large asteroid. I can fly, but there are eight of us."

   "It is for certain the more direct path to go through the door," said Hakam, "but is it the safest?"

   "The water is going to pour over the gates soon," said Belvin. "We need to move before sewage starts coming down on our heads."

   "And we need to get to the ship before the invaders do, if it is not already too late," said Solisar. "I can fly to ship around the asteroid and have it come around."

   "If it has not already been boarded," said Hakam.

   "Yes, it is a risk," said Solisar. "We have our sending stone; why did we not use it yet?"

   The sun elf sent a brief message to Oma, who kept the sister stone.

   There was no reply.

   "Our ship must indeed be boarded already;" he said to the others. "We should go through the center."

   They flew, walked on air, or used the stone walls of the carved tunnel to drag themselves along to the circular hatch. It was on the bottom side of the gravity plane, so they also flipped themselves upside down.

   Behind them, water began to pour out of the ceiling — which from their new perspective was now the floor. It was a strange sight to see the water pooling together and floating in nothing. It was coming toward them. Belvin grabbed the wheel and gave it a quarter turn, unlatching it. They pushed the door open and climbed through.
Session: 107th Game Session - Wednesday, Mar 13 2019 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
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Chapter 1 — Wildspace Waste Disposal
Szordrin and Martho found themselves in darkness, but Szordrin could make out cold walls around him with his darkvision. They were standing on a metal, grated platform. Horrendously foul-smelling water was flowing around and under them. A few yards away was a fenced wall, though which sewage was flowing, and there was a raised metal drawbridge dividing that fenced wall, also grated. There was a winch there for lowering the drawbridge down to make a path over the sewage to another metal pathway embedded into the stone of the opposite wall, which was perpendicular to the flow of the sewage.

   Looking the other direction, a metal access walkway extended from the platform to where the path seemed to split into two stone paths, right and left against the rocky wall. Right at the tee-intersection was a gate, with a tunnel beyond. His darkvision could only see so far, however.

   "The smell is categorically foul," said Martho, "and I cannot see a thing. Do you have a torch?"

   "I do not carry one, because my eyes can see in most darkness," said Szordrin. He then tried to describe to Martho what he was seeing.

   They looked up and saw Hakam climbing down the ladder to join them. When he reached the bottom, he explained that the two monsters were slain.

   "Where are the others then?" asked Szordrin.

   "They are not coming yet."

   "Are they crazy?" asked Martho. "Why are they not coming?"

   "They are on a fool's errand to rescue any other survivors," Hakam explained.

   Martho looked somber, "If the old wive's tales are true, there probably will not be many left to help. If we do not get back to your ship, any survivors would not be able to escape anyway. We shall all be trapped here on this asteroid. The neogi are intelligent in planning their raids. They almost certainly are blocking the main exit routes."

   Hakam lit up his shield with a magic glow, allowing Martho and him to take in what Szordrin had already observed.

   "Lead us out of here," he said, after glancing around quickly. "If we can get to the ship in time, we can fly it wherever we need to to pick up the others and any survivors."

   "I do not actually know where to go from here," said Martho. "I just knew that there were access tunnels below the washclosets. I also know that the water flows out of the asteroid to be vented out into wildspace. Maybe we can find where it vents and escape to the surface that way. It is hopeless to take the neogi on directly. I am a manager, not a fighter. I do not even own a weapon!"

   "There is also a gate, beyond where your light is shining," said Szordrin, motioning in the opposite direction from the drawbridge. They thought it best to examine that first and walked over the metal walkway to the other side to stand on solid rock before the metal gate.

   The light from Hakam's shield illuminated the length of the tunnel. It was only about 25 feet long. The floor seemed to end at another wide channel running perpendicularly to the tunnel and filled with more waste water. Straight ahead, across the channel, a waterfall of sludge poured down into it from somewhere up above.

   "We are going against the flow of the water if we go this way," Hakam said. "Let us go back to the drawbridge."

   Szordrin looked to the left and the right. The two paths mirrored each other. The stone floor ran along the wall, reached a metal grated bridge and crossed over the sewage-flow to a rectangular alcove in the stone of the asteroid. He could see some sort of flat object in the corner of each of the alcoves.

   "I want to see what something is," said Szordrin. "Wait here; I will be right back."

   He took the path to the left and crossed the bridge into the stone alcove. The flat object was simply a manhole cover. He returned to the others with this report.

   They returned to the ladder and the winch and turned the crank to lower the bridge. Hakam cautiously crossed the metal bridge to stand on the narrow metal walkway on the other side. Like the path, the water split and flowed in two directions, disappearing into the darkness.

   "Which path do we take?" asked Szordrin.

   "Which way is the ship, Martho?"

   "It is behind us in the other direction," said Martho, "in the opposite direction of the flow of the water."

   "We will go left," said Hakam, choosing at random. The walkway, the channel, and the water with it, made a 90-degree turn to the right after about 50 feet, and then turned again after about 30 feet, effectively making a U-turn. They kept walking carefully over the narrow metal grating, staying as close to the wall as they could.

   The wide tunnel and channel opened into a large chamber with a giant collecting pool. The water seemed to be revolving in a gentle whirlpool. They continued along the wall and reached a cavernous alcove to the right. They stepped off the walkway onto solid ground. This stone area was about fifteen feet wide and high and maybe twice that in length. Various objects of junk were scattered about here, as if they had been collected intentionally — a fork, a metal armored boot, the metal bands of barrels, a miscellany of discarded stuff.

   Hakam immediately prayed for knowledge about the magical nature of the items, but none of them radiated any sort of auras. He glanced up to see if perhaps a chute had deposited these things here, but the ceiling was the solid rock of the interior of the asteroid. They did seem arranged in a line, much like a cave pack rat might do, but several of the items were too large and heavy for a normal rat to move.

   "These were not arranged accidentally," said Hakam, "but I cannot make any sense of it."

   Szordrin looked about, seeing if he could notice anything further with his darkvision. He guessed that the incoming water he saw further ahead simply mirrored the way that they had come. In other words, they were essentially on an island, or rather an alcove within a large rectangular column around which the sewage flowed to enter this drainage pool.

   Hakam used another divine spell to detect the presence of any secret exits. He could see an aura radiating through the dark, murky water, likely a drain through which the water was leaving the pool.

   "I can tell from my magic that the water is only about ten feet deep," he reported, "and there is definitely a drain."

   "That must be the way out of the asteroid, then," said Martho.

   "How good are you both at swimming?" Szordrin asked.

   "I am terrible at it," said Hakam.

   "You cannot be serious," said Martho.

   "This was your idea," said Szordrin.

   "I thought that there would be access paths along with the water," said Martho. "This is honestly dreadful! We are doomed."

   "I am relatively good at sinking, though," said Hakam, "and that may be all that is needed here."

   Martho did not know whether to take the priest seriously or not.

   "We will not have to get wet," said Hakam. "I still have power in me yet. Stand behind me."

   They obeyed. Hakam clutched his holy symbol and raised his palm toward the waters. "Waters, blow back!" he commanded.

   With a whine and a howl, a powerful gust of wind rushed from each of the tunnels. The water in the collecting pool began to be driven back against the far wall, as if being pushed back by an invisible moving wall. The wind continued to blow, with near hurricane-force winds, and the upper five feet of water were now held toward the back of the chamber.

   This action revealed the presence of a hideously ugly creature that had been submerged and hidden under the dark water. It was the color of earthen stone, and three writhing tentacles rose from the back of its bloated, bumpy back. Each ended in a leaf-shaped flap of flesh covered in thorny protrusions. It had a stumpy neck — if it could even be called that — ending in a massive, wide mouth. It did not really have what could be called a head. It was unlike any creature any of them had ever seen.

   "Undeniably wretched!" exclaimed Martho.

   Shockingly, the monster opened its mouth — revealing its needle-like teeth and and a fat, pink tongue — and spoke.

   "Stop blowing away my drink!" the gruff voice said in Common.
Session: 106th Game Session - Wednesday, Sep 12 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Umber Hulks
Kytharrah bounded into the hall and turned his head quickly to look in both directions. In both directions, the minotaur saw a hulking, black and brown insectoid creature, as large as a gorilla, not skinny and lanky like the bouncers at the Port Hole but with thick, round, beetle-like exoskeletons. Further down the hall, the one creature had clearly just crashed through the brick wall and was shaking the dust and rubble from its body. Up the hall, from the way that they had earlier come, the second monster held a human in its grip. Before Kytharrah could make a move, he saw the gruesome sight of the human being ripped in half like a sack of thin cloth.

   The monster dropped the gory halves of what was once a person and clicked its enormous mandibles together. It seemed to have two sets of eyes, two large compound eyes like those flies that annoyed Kytharrah so much. These were mostly on the side of its head. In the center of the head was another pair of tiny black eyes.

   Kytharrah heard the one behind it lumbering toward him, but he was much faster. He lowered his head and horns and charged forward like a raging bull toward the one that had just killed the poor human. His horns gored into the thick exoskeleton of the monster, puncturing a deep hole. Green hemolymph began oozing out. The monster made an earthy growl, and its giant mandibles vibrated rapidly with a whirring sound, just missing the top of Kytharrah's head as he rose himself up to a defensive stance on his hooves.

   "Rightly terrifying!" said Martho. "Rightly terrifying. Get a hold of yourself, Martho! Plan something!"

   Leokas and Belvin poked their heads into the hall, seeing the massive, chittering, insectoid aberrations. They had two different sets of eyes. (This reminded Belvin of some spiders.) One pair was compound, the other was simple.

   Both elves stood at the doorway ready to defend.

   Back in the hall, Kytharrah felt a funny feeling in his head as the monster looked him in the eyes. (The two were almost exactly the same height.) It then slashed out at him with the claws at the end of its bulky, armored forearms. Kytharrah dodged the slash from its left arm, but the right claws took a tuft of fur from his arm.

   Kytharrah snorted and swung his axe. The monster rose its arm to defend, but the axe splintered its armor, and a sizeable chunk of chitin clattered to the floor. On the back swing, Kytharrah's axe dragged against the ceiling, giving his hulking opponent time to avoid the second blow. Then came another strike from the minotaur's horn, and now green ooze was spurting out of its other forearm.

   Back at the door, the second umber-colored monster came into view. It swung a bulky arm at Leokas, but he was protected by the corner of the door frame. Wood splintered as the monster struck it. Hakam saw a chaotic aura with his divinely affected vision. Sensing no caution from his phylactery, he shouted out, "Feel order's wrath, space monster!"

   Blue-violet beams of energy slashed in orthogonal directions across the bipedal insect, scorching its exoskeleton. It seemed to stand there wobbling, its mandibles twitching every few seconds.

   Leokas spun around and launched three arrows simultaneously from his bow at the creature's head. It instinctively rose its thick arms to defend itself. An arrow deflected harmlessly from the armor of each arm, but the third punctured the monster's skull, directly between its two black simple eyes, going deep into its head. It gurgled something that might have been a language and stumbled back against the wall, jerking as if it were being electrocuted, likely from having a shaft of wood embedded in its brain.

   Hakam took this opportunity to squeeze past the others into the hall and by the dying but still not dead hulk with the arrow in its head. He saw Kytharrah's opponent slash and snap at the minotaur. Kytharrah knocked away one claw but stumbled back from two other blows. Hakam saw red blood splatter on the floor.

   "Quick, help me move this desk in the back!" Martho yelled at Szordrin at the back of the room. "There is a sewer access point underneath. We can escape!" Szordrin obeyed and started shoving the desk.

   "You go!" shouted Leokas, as he grabbed another arrow from his quiver and spun back around to take partial cover from the door frame. "We shall stay and defend." Next to him, Solisar rushed up. A strange square-shaped blue field of force floated in front of him, looking like liquid sapphire.

   "Gainful ratty governor!" shouted Belvin, but he just stood there by the door.

   "What are you saying, friend?" Leokas said. Then he spun around again with his bow, taking aim at the dying monster in the hall to finish it off.

   Before he could take the shot, however, Belvin slashed at him with his scimitar. "The cherries are not finished yet!" he screamed in anger.

   Leokas dodged the unexpected attack and jumped back. "Belvin, it is I. What is wrong with you?"

   Out in the hall, Hakam was also shouting again. "Feel order's wrath!" Searing beams of violet appeared, caging in Kytharrah's foe. The now-sizzling beetle-like creature wobbled and turned sideways, its arms hanging limply to drag on the floor. Kytharrah's axe came down with full force, splitting the monster almost in two. Its back shell cracked and fell nearly off, and buckets-full of green fluid splashed unto the floor in a gory mess.

   Martho had the grate open and was crawling down a ladder. He shouted back at Leokas. "This will not be the only two! The neogi never have only two."

   Just then, the brain-impaled hulk stumbled through the doorway, zombie-like, and inadvertently kept Belvin from slashing at his friend again. From the back, Szordrin sent bursts of force over the shelves and across the room. There was an awful crunching sound, as the monster's chest cavity imploded. It fell forward to the ground and began to ooze insect blood.

   Belvin tried to move around the large body toward Leokas, a crazed look in his eyes. Solisar darted around behind Belvin, and the blue shield of force kept itself between the two of them. "Hakam! We have a problem with Belvin," he relayed to their cleric.

   Hakam stepped back and saw immediately that Belvin was under some magical compulsion. "Kytharrah," he called up the hall, calling him by his name for perhaps the first time, "come grab Belvin!" He held his holy symbol toward Belvin and ordered him to calm his anger, but there seemed to be no effect.

   The minotaur came bounding back, and Hakam stepped aside to make room for him. His long, hairy arms were around the wild elf in moments, and despite Belvin's thrashing, he was unable to get away.

   Solisar cautiously stepped into the hall. Seeing both creatures dead, he scanned the area for invisible creatures. He saw nothing, but his elven ears could hear more screams and commotion back in the direction of the open office space. He looked back at Belvin. There was an aura of magic around him. Solisar waved his hands and called on arcane power to free his friend of confusion.

   "Belvin, do you know where you are?" asked Leokas. "What is the name of your camel?"

   But Belvin continued to struggle against Kytharrah's grapple. "Let me free! Let me...!"

   Kytharrah squeezed more tightly, silencing him. Hakam began preaching to him about the sin of anger, and Sordrin tied a second time to dispel the magic. Finally, Belvin calmed, and Kytharrah let him speak. "Why are you holding me?"

   "Let him go," said Solisar. "He is freed, but others are in danger. I hear more of the monsters. Do not look into their eyes; avoid that at all costs!" He began to move down the hall, with his liquid force shield in front of him.

   Hakkam looked toward the back of the room. Martho and Szordrin were gone, but he saw Solisar already committed to helping any others. "This is not our business," said Hakam. "We have what we came for, and we did our part to protect Martho. Come, let us follow him and escape."

   Belvin, while no longer under any magical enchantment, was still too confused to have an opinion on the matter.

   Solisar paused. "Our ship is also in this direction, is it not?"

   "Our guide knows another way out," Hakam protested.

   While the others argued about the correct course of action, Kytharrah returned to where he slaughtered the one giant beetle-monster and gently picked up the two halves of the torn human, bringing them back to Hakam.

   "Fix, like little sister?" he asked, referring to how Hakam had once restored Cassiera to life after a bearded devil had gutted her.

   Leokas looked to the cleric, wondering how he would respond to this moral quandary. He knew that they now had the diamond dust and the divine power to bring the victim back, but it would take great time and resources.

   "The gods have a plan that is beyond mortal understanding," said Hakam. "I cannot interfere in matters of life and death, except where Anachtyr directs me. Besides, even I cannot bring someone back whose body has been so terribly mutilated."

   Leokas seemed satisfied with Hakam's answer.

   "Death is the way of nature," said Belvin, seeming to agree with Hakam on this rate occassion.

   "I am more concerned with helping those who may still be living," said Solisar, "who may not be living for much longer if we tarry here!"

   Hakam frowned at this statement, but Solisar placed his hand upon Leokas' shoulder.

   "Come, let us protect those in the other room."

   Leokas nodded and headed out the door with Solisar. Belvin, too, followed. Kytharrah gently set the broken body down and patted Hakam on the head. Hakam sighed, but he reached out and touched the minotaur, magically closing his bleeding wounds, before Kytharrah went after the elves.

   They carefully moved down the hall, as quickly as they could. It was impossible to avoid stepping in the pool of sticky green and red blood, which had mixed together into brown swirls. The sight and smell of the gore was enough to make them all retch.

   By now, much of the noise seemed farther away, but there were still clear sounds of moaning ahead and some chittering. Kytharrah moved into the lead, and Solisar made sure to keep checking behind them.

   Kytharrah's ears perked up as he heard the loud sound of chitinous steps approaching. He peeked around the corner and saw another monster coming. The minotaur lunged back, just in time to avoid the full force of the creature's swing around the corner. The claw still snagged him in the arm, cutting him.

   Kytharrah stepped out and began swinging and goring. Solisar let loose five magical force projectiles. Leokas moved to the wall and launched several arrows, amazingly aiming underneath Kytharrah's arms and striking true. The heavily wounded monster fought back, but it only could manage one more solid blow against Kytharrah, while chittering with its ferocious-looking mandibles. The claw attack cut a slit through Kytharrah's magic leather armor, but he seemed to be standing his ground.

   There was a cracking, rumbling sound behind them, and suddenly, a second monster burst through the wall, its mandibles vibrating back and forth so rapidly that they were a blur. Solisar spun around in reflex, and accidentally looked into the black eyes of the new opponent. He felt a strange feeling in his head, but his sapphire screen flashed before him, just as a clawed "hand" swung at him. The force field held back most of the force of the swing, but the edge of one claw gashed across Solisar's forehead, and the elf felt blood drip down into his right eye.

   Belvin gave a tribal holler, and a column of ice erupted from the floor to the ceiling, filling the whole hallway, knocking back the burrowing monstrosity from Solisar by about ten feet and barricading the hall. "Do not look at me, bug! Not again!"

   "Thank you, my friend!" said Solisar, turning to put distance between him and the ice column, for they could already hear the creature chiseling rapidly away at the ice with its vibrating mandibles.

   At the corner, Kytharrah smashed his foe with another solid blow, as Leokas drew another arrow. The monster stumbled back. Solisar rushed up, drew a wand from its sheath, and waved it. The thing's head imploded, and its lifeless shell of chitin clattered to the ground like a suit of armor. Solisar continued past around the corner and into the hallway. Leokas was just behind him, arrow nocked and ready to free.

   The hallway was clear until where it opened into the large workspace. All that they could see was a chaos of shattered furniture and at least one still body in the middle of the floor.

   Belvin appeared beside Leokas. "How long does your spell last?" the wood elf asked.

   "Until it melts, I suppose," said Belvin, "but it is going to gnaw its way through in about ten more seconds."

   Leokas stepped back into the corner, and pointed his arrow toward the ice. "Solonor have mercy on his insectoid soul," he prayed, "and guide my shot."

   Ice shards began falling from the column.

   "Help me!" came a weak voice from the hole in the wall where the one monster had tunneled through.

   "We have a survivor," said Belvin.

   Kytharrah rushed over to the hole and poked his head through. He recognized that this was once one of the wings of the large workspace that they had earlier passed through. There were overturned desks and splintered wooden dividers scattered about chaotically. He saw blood and bodies and body parts but no one living.

   "Minotaur, the ice!" Leokas warned. What remained of the summoned column looked like it was about to crumble apart allowing the digger on the other side through. They could see its hulking from through the thinning ice. Kytharrah took a defensive posture and gulped down one of those tasty drinks that made his cuts go away. Belvin squeezed past Kytharrah and through the hole in the wall.

   With a crack, the ice shattered and clattered to the floor. As soon as the monster appeared, magic missiles of force shot forth from Solisar's fingertips. Leokas released his arrow. Once again, the arrow punctured the monster's skull between the eyes. The creature danced about wildly. It managed to strike Kytharrah with one more desperate blow before the minotaur stuck it with a final swing and dropped it.

   In the room on the other side of the wall, Belvin searched among the carnage for the source of the cry for help. He located the worker hiding behind one of the sideways desks. He was an older gentleman, and his arm had been severed off at the elbow.

   Belvin crouched down and laid his hands on the man. The worker looked on in shock as the spurting blood stopped and skin formed rapidly around the stump. "You healed me!" he exclaimed. "I..., I have never felt better!"

   "I will get your arm," Belvin said.

   The man looked down at his healed stump and over at his severed forearm and just stared at Belvin confused, as the elf picked up the fallen body part.

   The man crawled through the wall into the hall. "Thank you! Thank you!" He was nearly crying. Belvin followed immediately behind him, carrying the bloody arm.

   "Are there others living?" they asked him.

   "I do not know," said the man.

   Belvin shook his head.

   "There are clearly more of the monsters," said Solisar. "They can tunnel through the walls, and we were almost surrounded. I hate to say it, but I do not think that there is much more that we can do. We should get back to the others and to the ship. All that remains here is devastation."

   "Kytharrah, carry him," said Belvin.

   Before the man could protest, Kytharrah scooped him up in both arms.

   They all hurried back down the hall to the receipt room.

   "Where are you taking me?" asked the man. "They caved in all the exits. There was nowhere for us to flee while they slaughtered us."

   "Go to friend," said Kytharrah.

   "We know an exit through the sewer system," explained Solisar.

   The man seemed content with this answer.

   They reached the ladder and one by one climbed down into what they hoped was safety.
Session: 106th Game Session - Wednesday, Sep 12 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Interlink Consortium Corporate Asteroid
Several of the sailors were now at work mopping the deck of blood and scavver-stomach contents. Nargroth and silent Guttar carried the body of the scavver town to the galley to butcher it for meat — being careful to avoid any meat around its stomach. Oma went to Jayce to explain what had happened. (He, by the helm's magic, had been able to observe the whole incident but was helpless to do anything about it.) Szordrin bathed himself as best he cook with a bucket of water and changed into other clothes. Solisar and Martho went back to the map.

   They returned to the process of making small "jumps" from asteroid to asteroid, but now, twice as many sailors were above deck, watching both every asteroid they came to and all around the ship for any sign of unwanted creatures entering their air envelope.

   Before Bansh began to climb the ropes up the mizzen-mast, Hakam asked the newest sailor a question. "What manner of creature are you? I have not seen your kind on my world."

   "I am a hadozee," said Bansh, and he then leapt up and began to climb.

   It was not long before they arrived. The Interlink Consortium Corporate Asteroid was about 750 feet in diameter. At one of the peaks of the irregularly shaped space rock was a tower, sticking about eight stories out of the stone. A few tiny lights blinked from some sort of pole at the very top, perhaps acting as guiding lights for approaching vessels. The tower had many windows, with light seen beyond them.

   From another side, a large wooden shaft seemed to jut out from the rock, like a sideways — relative to the tower — chimney or pipe.

   "That is the warehouse docking tunnel," said Martho. "Steer us carefully into that. Keep the tower up."

   "Understood," said Rimardo.

   The wooden tube structure was easily large enough for the Frihet to sail into. It had a flattened rectangular opening that was twice as wide as it was high. When they had centered themselves, they all felt a sudden jostle, as their ship fell into the asteroid's gravity plane and began floating. The entrance tunnel extended into the asteroid for about 300 feet. At the far end was a wooden dock, built at the same level as the gravity plane, as were the docks on the Rock of Bral.

   On the right side of the dock was tied another spelljammer. This one was a bit larger than theirs. It was somewhat shaped like a naval vessel with a main deck and aftcastle, but it had no masts or traditional sails. Instead, it had "fins" like those of a great fish, made of canvas stretched between ribbing. Two of the fins were massive and extended well below the dock.

   "What manner of ship is that?" asked Rimardo.

   "I believe that the vessel is a tradesman," said Solisar.

   "Yes, that is what they call them," said Martho.

   "Where are its sails?" asked the pilot. "Do not even spelljammers need sails?"

   "They use the fins to catch the spell-winds instead," explained Martho. "Have us dock on the left. I am sure that that tradesman is the last outgoing shipment of the day.

   Their spelljammer came alongside the wooden platform and slowed to a stop. A worker there motioned to one of the sailors, who tossed the man a rope with which to tie them down.

   Oma, Nargroth, and Jayce remained on board with the sailors; the six other adventurers walked across the gangplank with Martho. Martho showed some sort of identification to the dock worker, who nodded and went about some other task.

   The dock was thirty feet wide and at least twice that long. From the middle of the dock was a metal set of stairs that rose 60 feet into the stone ceiling. At the end of the dock, a much narrower wooden bridge led to a large, open doorway through the back wall of the docking tunnel.

   "That is where the main warehouse and magical laboratory facilities are located," said Martho.

   The doorway was three times wider than the wooden bridge that passed through its center, and workers were guiding crates along the side of the bridge with wooden poles. The crates floated in the gravity plane adjacent to the two sides of the bridge, so workers needed only give them a gentle nudge to move them along, much like loggers might move timber down a river. Only when the crates reached the edge of the actual dock were winches and cranes needed to raise them onto the waiting cargo ship. The tradesman was currently being loaded thus, when the Frihet arrived.

   "We, however, are going to go upstairs to the corporate offices. Follow me."

   Martho led them up the six flights of stairs into the ceiling.

   It now felt like they were in a brick-walled building, lit with torches. There was a wide hallway with wood-paneled floors. Martho led them down it, and they entered into a wide open space. There were many people at work at desks here, each segregated off into separate workspaces by short wooden dividers. Several of the workers appeared to be deep in conversations, which confused the visitors at first, until they realized that these must be rings of sending.

   "Have you tried commanding the portal to activate first, sir," said one of the workers, as they passed, a look of deep frustration on his face.

   None of the workers in the room seemed to give them any mind, with the exception of two who simply nodded at Martho in recognition and greeting. It seemed like the giving of tours to visitors was a common enough occurrence to not warrant suspicion.

   They entered another hallway at the other side. Martho stopped them and said, "Wait here for a moment."

   He went back into the large work area and out of sight. Two women employees passed them, carrying bundles of scrolls. Again, they did not seem bothered by the presence of strangers standing there.

   Martho returned and beckoned them to follow again. The hallway made a sharp turn to the left, and they could see a figure about halfway down. Martho stopped them a second time. This time, he spoke in a quieter voice. "The room that I am taking you to is off-limits to visitors. So, here is the plan. Take this key. The next door on the right is the washcloset for males. All of you go in there. The door after that is the storage room for receipts. I will summon the hall guard ahead, who usually mans the door, and I will try to get him to follow me around the corner. That will be your chance to exit the washcloset and get yourselves into the storage room. Then shut the door again. Understood?"

   They all nodded.

   The plan, simple as it was, worked without a hitch. All of them soon found themselves hiding in the dark in a room with over a dozen wooden shelves loaded with crates full of parchment and scrolls. Soon, Martho joined them and shut the door behind him. "We should have time to search now," whispered Martho, "but keep your voices low and do not use any overly bright lights, because the guard may notice that it is more than just me in here now."

   Martho explained to them how things were organized by years and months and value and place of sale.

   When he notice a look of hopelessness on one of their faces, he said, "The good news is that the item that we are looking for was only sold for a limited period of time before being recalled, and I know roughly how much it would have sold for, so if we divide up the search, I am sure we can find it. It is only a four to six month period for us to search."

   They divided up and began to search through seemingly endless piles and bundles of receipts. Poor Kytharrah tried his hardest to help, but besides barely being able to recognize the letters that little sister had taught him, his large fingers were not very good at flipping through pages. He spent as much time sniffing the old papers as he did trying to read them. Solisar had told him to look for the letters R, O, and D, but the others were able to go through stacks about three times faster. He felt like he was losing this finding game, until....

   "Found it!" he said, probably too loudly.

   "Shh, Lunk!" whispered Szordrin.

   "One rule of this game is to speak very, very softly," said Solisar kindly.

   "Found it!" whispered Kytharrah.

   Kytharrah found no fewer than eight different receipts for the purchase of various magical rods over the next hour or hour and a half. By the time he actually found the receipt that they were truly looking for, no one expected it to be the correct one,... but it was.

   Szordrin swiped the receipt from his paws and read it:

Receipt of Sale
This document certifies
that on
Uktar 5 of the Year of the Banner
_____Onran_Dranyr_____
_Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee,_
________Coliar________
has purchased and paid for
1 (one) rod of intraplanar retracing
for the full, asked price of
480 (four hundred eighty) certified Lantanna platinum trade bars
from


   Everyone else gathered around.

   "That is a lot of gold coins," said Solisar.

   "The purchase was made with Lantanese money," said Hakam. "Samber made his purchase with Amnian tradebars. I do not know if that means anything."

   "Coliar is one of the Dawn Heralds," said Solisar. "It is not a star; it is actually the second planet from our sun. I am told that it is a massive planet, much larger than Toril, made primarily of air and clouds, but it contains thousands of floating islands, much like Thultanthar, I suppose."

   "Is Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee some sort of address?" asked Hakam. The others shrugged, so Hakam turned to Martho, who was standing back, hoping that whatever it was that this group had found would result in some good to balance the evil done by the sale of the rod.

   "What is the question?"

   Hakam took the sheet from Szordrin and handed it to Martho. Szordrin let him take it and stood there in almost a daze. The others did not seem to notice, being curious to hear Martho's answer. Only Kytharrah noticed his little brother's odd expression and posture, but he did not know what to do or say about it. A few hours earlier, Szordrin had almost been eaten alive, and there was still poison in his system; maybe it was just that.

   "Is this an address on Coliar?" Hakam repeated.

   "Typically, we require customers to record their addresses, yes," Martho replied. "I have never been to Coliar or to any of the planets in this crystal sphere — I was hired from Krynn and live in Bral — but it must be some way of locating the customer on the planet of Coliar." He shrugged. "Every planet, every culture is different."

   "Does this look like any language that you know?" Hakam asked Solisar, who shook his head in response. Hakam prayed for Anachtyr to open his eyes and held his holy symbol over the receipt. "It is just a bunch of numbers," he said, "Four-two-zero-one-one."

   After another pause, Hakam asked the group, "The name Onran does not sound like a Lantanna name, does it? Jayce would know."

   "I also know," said Szordrin from the back, finally joining the conversation. "Onran Dranyr... was my master."

   "What?" said Leokas.

   "This is not possible," said Szordrin. "I found the broken rod in the hands of the murderer. Onran never possessed such a rod!"

   "How well did you know him?" asked Hakam. "Maybe he stole someone's identity."

   "I trusted him like a father, and I lived in his home. He also never once traveled in the time that I knew him. I met him in the Year of the Sword, when I was thirteen years old. He was at home in Guallidurth during Uktar of the Year of the Banner. That was three years after we first met. I found him dead early in the next year, the Year of the Gauntlet."

   "Martho," asked Belvin, "does someone have to make a purchase in person from the Consortium?"

   "No," said Martho. "Nearly all of our primary customers are learned and wealthy mages, all of whom, you must know, have many creative ways of communicating with us here to place orders. We have a good number of agents who make deliveries all over the planes and crystal spheres."

   Szordrin looked at each of his companions. "Is Coliar a place that we could visit? Can humans survive there?"

   "I believe so," said Solisar. "It must be much warmer, since it is closer to our sun. We could look into it more back at the Rock of Bral."

   "Oh, I hope that you can track this murdered back to Coliar and bring him to justice!" said Martho. "I will sleep so much better at night, knowing that this little breaking of the rules by me has led to some good."

   "Breaking of rules rarely leads to good," muttered Hakam, not loud enough for Martho to hear.

   "We will do our best," said Solisar.

   "Would you let us search for more receipts?" asked Szordrin of Martho. "We also know of another very, very evil man who purchased portals from your company."

   "Portals are our number one product!" said Martho. "We would never have a chance of finding such a receipt. As you have seen, nothing is organized by customer name."

   "Let us be sure to share this receipt with Jayce once we get back to the ship," said Hakam. "He may have some further insight or ideas. He also speaks Lantanna."

   "So do I," said Solisar.

   "Part of me wonders if there is some kind of word game in this receipt or its address," said Hakam, "like we have seen Samber use."

   "Do you think that there could be some sort of connection between Onran and Samber?" asked Szordrin, surprised at the suggestion.

   "What was name of Samber's childhood friend who disappeared?" asked Hakam. "The one that Jayce was telling us about?"

   "It was not Onran," said Szordrin. "I would have noticed that."

   Hakam looked like he was trying to remember. "No, it was not Onran, but it was Ronan. I recall it now. The name is an anagram!"

   "Interesting," Szordrin muttered softly.

   "We already know how much Samber likes to use anagrams," said Solisar.

   "Szordrin, what did your master look like?" asked Hakam.

   "He was a white-haired aasimar," said Szordrin. "His celestial features were about as subtle as my fiendish ones."

   "Jayce told us that the boy had been adopted by a gnomish family, that he had silver hair and golden eyes."

   "Yes, Onran's eyes were gold," Szordrin confirmed. "Onran was always mostly silent about his background. He did not like to talk about it much. When he took me under his wing, he explained to me that his family had done the same to him. He, too, had been adopted, but he never explained by whom or the details of it."

   "Everything matches up," said Hakam.

   "I also know that he was in the Underdark because he did not want to be found, but I do not know why."

   "I wonder what he was trying to hide in his past," said Hakam.

   "I never sensed that he was evil;" Szordrin clarified, "I have never met a man more good. I sensed that he had faced some great tragedy in his past. He simply wanted to leave that past and start anew, and it pained him to discuss it, so we did not."

   "Jayce never told us 'Ronan's' surname," said Hakam. "I wonder if he learned it but failed to mention it. We shall have to ask him. I would not be surprised if it is also an anagram."

   Szordrin and Solisar stared at the so-called address for a while, trying to figure out if it, too, was some sort of puzzle. Neither of the wizards could make anything of it.

   "Perhaps they are some sort of coordinates on Coliar," suggested Hakam.

   "That would make sense," said Solisar.

   "Martho, would you be able to speak to the scribe who wrote this receipt to find out more about this address?"

   "We do not track that information," said Martho, "but I am fairly certain that, whatever the customer tells the scribe who takes the order, that person writes down. Few questions are asked. If the customer wants to receive the product, it had better be a valid address for that world and race. The only ones in the Consortium who might know would likely be our workers who actually make the deliveries. One of our tour guides might also know. I could look into that for you."

   "We have tarried here for a long while now," said Solisar. "We should probably make a copy of this receipt and refile it and then see if good Martho here can get us all out of this room as smoothly as he got us in."

   They all agreed, and Solisar carefully copied down the information onto a sheet of paper.

   "How are we going to exit without being caught?" asked Leokas.

   "Here is my idea," said Martho. "I will exit again first, but I will drag one of these boxes of receipts with me, and I will ask for help carrying it back to the manager's offices. Just give me maybe two minutes, then you...."

   His plan was interrupted by the sound of human screams — one a scream of fear, the other a scream of pain — followed by loud thuds and banging outside the door.

   Szordrin did not hesitate and rushed to the back of the room. A few seconds later, multiple images of the wizard appeared around him.

   Martho ran to the door, and Kytharrah, Leokas, and Hakam followed behind him. Their guide opened the door. No hall guard was standing there, so he poked his head out to look down the hall.

   They heard him gasp in horror, and he immediately pulled himself back into the room.

   "Neogi!" Martho shouted, with a look of dread on his face.
Session: 105th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 22 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Void Scavver
Back at the docks, Szordrin, Jayce, Nargroth, Oma, and Kytharrah arrived, bringing with them both Martho, from the Interlink Consortium, and the simian sailor, whose name they learned was Bansh. They had made a quick stop at Martho's apartment in Low City for him to grab some maps first, but otherwise took the same route back as they come to get to the Interlink Consortium store.

   As they passed through the crowds of sailors and dockworkers, they noticed a new vessel now tied off there, a metal and wooden conglomeration with towers, steampipes, and massive waterwheels on each side. A crowd of gnomes were leading four monstrous-sized hamsters off the vessel, each larger than brown bears.

   "Giant hamsters?" asked Jayce, who still looked like a drow.

   "Giant space hamsters," corrected Bansh. "They make tasty sandwiches!"

   Martho explained things a bit more. "It is how the gnomes at least partially power their spelljammers, instead of using sails or wings, but they still have helms, too. I do not pretend to understand it." Martho shrugged. "That is gnomes for you!"

   When they reached the Frihet, they found Ombert deep in conversation with some men on the docks. They overheard him discussing how he might sell their Lantanese clockwork toys and smokepower for profit. They waited for the men to leave and then were welcomed back by their ship's Captain. Upon spotting Jayce, Ombert had a sudden look of fear or discomfort.

   "Good Captain, it is only I, noble Jayce," explained the drow.

   "Oh, yes, Jayce, I did not...," said Ombert.

   "I know! I am barely recognizable in this new outfit that I purchased at market, no?"

   Martho did not seem to suspect anything, thankfully, but Szordrin quickly changed the topic to their next plans. "Hakam and the elves will be back shortly, but they are running some side errands. We found someone who can guide us to the Interlink Consortium Corporate Asteroid. How soon can we set out?"

   "Now? Seriously?" asked Ombert. "How long is the voyage?"

   Szordrin looked back at Martho. The cloaked man answered, "How long? Oh, almost no time at all. It is in the Tears. Perhaps an hour, tops. The trick is navigating from rock to rock correctly to find the right one. Its location is not on any commonly sold maps."

   Ombert shook his head in surprise. "I am never going to get used to how things work in wildspace! To think that one would leave for a second destination in the very same day!"

   "I know! I love the Sea of Night!" exclaimed Nargroth.

   "Even so, I will not be able to take you anywhere for a while;" Ombert said, "I have to finish setting up a vendor's booth in the market. The men that you just saw me speaking with will be returning in a few hours to finalize some details with me. However, the ship is emptied of cargo, except that your mounts are still onboard, and we paid the berthing fees, so I could send her with Loreene in command and most of the rest of the crew, if you are in that big of a hurry."

   At this point, Ombert slowed his speech a little, having noticed the upright baboon with droopy skin standing there. Bansh stepped forward and introduced himself with a bow, extending one of his wing flaps like one might bow with a cape. "Bansh nee Rainbowchild, at your service," the creature said.

   "At my service, eh?"

   "He wants to join our crew," said Oma.

   Ombert yelled up at one of the sailors, who was working at the railing. "Frath, did everyone return yet?"

   "Nay, Cap'n. Patrik and Shemus came back just before the Mis..., just before our passengers, but Gorji still isn't here."

   "Well, Bansh, is it? It seems one of our crew could not count his hours, so Tymora may have smiled on you. What can you do?"

   "I grew up on deck, Captain. I can do almost any task that you ask of me, but I am no cook nor can I navigate."

   "Stern sails?"

   "Since I was four years old!"

   "I shall let you work with Loreene's crew on this short jaunt out and back, as a test, and if she likes what she sees, I shall consider taking you on for the long haul. Fair?"

   "It is most fair, Captain!" said Bansh, bowing again. "I thank you. It will be a pleasure to serve." The simian hurried aboard the vessel.

   "He did not even ask what I pay," Ombert said in a low voice. Then he yelled up to Frath again. "Frath, set this one to work with Guttar." Frath nodded.

   "Gorji is missing?" asked Jayce. "Do you think that he was kidnapped? Should we go looking for him?"

   "It has only been five hours," said Ombert. "He is very late, but I am sure that he just had too much fun on shore."


   Everyone else also boarded the vessel, and Solisar began to look over the Martho's map of the Tears with him.

   An hour later, when Hakam and the elves returned, Gorji was still absent. Ombert was more angry than concerned, but Hakam offered to pray for the means to locate him in the morning.

   "That will also give him time to show up," said Solisar.

   "I do not know...," said Jayce. "This worries me."

   The sailors, however, shared Ombert's lack of concern. "He never really loved the sea enough to be a sailor anyhow," said Bollus, a young and bald crewmember from Calimshan with a dragon turtle tattooed on his back.

   "Probably found a pretty spurnarmor at a festhall and lost track of time," said Brad.

   "You always suspect a conspiracy, Jayce," said Leokas.

   "And I was correct the last time that I did, was I not?"

   "Forget about the missing sailor for now," said Szordrin. "Let me tell you what Martho explained to us about the rod of retracing. He said that the it was not a normal rod of retracing but rather a rod of intraplanar retracing. The rod would have functioned somewhat differently than we were told in the store. It still locked onto 'residual threads' in the Astral Plane and could then be used as a spell focus, but it did not retrace to the last cosmological plane that the target was on; rather, it retraced to the last gravity plane of the target within the same plane of existence, whether that be a planet, a worldlet, or even the deck of a spelljammer. This all means that the murdered started from somewhere in our own plane of existence, somewhere in Realmspace."

   "Realmspace is still very, very big," said Oma.

   "Would such a rod give further information beyond that?" asked Hakam.

   "As far as I understood it," replied Szordrin, "it could place you anywhere on the gravity plane, so let us hope that your target was on a small worldlet like the Rock of Bral and not on a full-sized planet like Toril. We still would need to know how the murderer found out that my master was in the Underdark."

   "How expensive is such a rod?" asked Hakam. "Do we know?"

   "We asked him that, and he said about 500 platinum trade bars."

   One of the nearby sailors nearly choked upon hearing the sum.

   Loreene came up to them. "Are you ready to head out, gang?" She already had her vest on that she always wore over her bandeau when it was her turn in command.

   They nodded. "If possible, we hope to be able to return back to the Rock to find an inn before nightfall," said Solisar, "assuming nightfall is even a thing on the Rock."

   "It must be," said Nargroth, "can you not tell that the Rock is revolving? The sun has moved, just like it would have on Toril."

   "You are right, Nargroth. Indeed, it has. At about the same rate as on Toril too, I think."

   "Well, let us sail, then!" said Loreene to the adventurers. "It is a good thing that I held back at the bar with Gren; no one told me that we would be setting sail again so quickly! But, I'm happy to take you where you need to go."

   As they waited for the sailors to untie the vessel from the dock, Szordrin asked Martho a question. "Are fires forbidden on the Interlink Asteroid?"

   "Generally, that rule is held on any small worldlet, yes."

   Jayce took the spelljamming helm again, since it was still linked to him from in the morning. Loreene assigned Rimardo, the Turmish fellow with dreads, as pilot. Solisar and Martho stood behind Rimardo at the map table and prepared to guide the Frihetfrom asteroid to asteroid in the cluster. Loreene began to issue commands to her fellow sailors, and soon, they were rising from the docks at the edge of the Rock of Bral and into the black sky of wildspace.

   Martho would explain to Solisar and Rimardo to which asteroid they should point next, Rimardo would issue commands for heading, which would be relayed, and the sailors would adjust the sails, pointing the spelljammer toward the destination, which was often invisible at such a distance. Then word would be relayed down to Jayce in the forecastle and almost instantly the rocky form of a small asteroid would be some hundred yards in front of the ship. Most of these asteroids were very tiny as far as asteroids go, some only hundreds of yards across.

   When they were about half way to the Consortium's headquarters, Szordrin, who was standing at the port-side railing of the main deck, was enjoying the view. Suddenly, from somewhere below the boat, a 20-foot-long, jet-black form emerged. Szordrin found his head and upper body held sideways in the gaping maw of some creature and felt countless teeth puncturing the flesh of his shoulders and upper chest and back. He struggled with his partly free right hand to press against the monster's pointed snout, which felt like sandpaper. His body went into so much shock, that he did not even feel the pain of the bite.

   Kytharrah spun around, hearing Szordrin's yell. He saw what could best be described as a black cyclopean shark, seemingly able to swim through empty space. Szordrin's entire head was currently in the beast's mouth. The minotaur bounded over and grabbed the "shark's" snout and lower jaw, struggling to pry open the mouth, but even Kytharrah was not strong enough to force the clamp open.

   Leokas launched a volley of arrows from the forecastle into what he hoped was the creature's vital organs.

   "Positively terrifying!" exclaimed Martho. He rose from the map table and covered his eyes. Oma gasped. Solisar looked over. The space shark's body was easily three times as thick as a man's. Its single eye strangely glowed. Solisar's magical vision showed an aura around the whole body as well. He rushed down the starboard steps from the sterncastle, extracting a bit of licorice root from his pouch as he descended. Several standing around him felt a sudden surge of energy and motion, but this transmutation magic was not soon enough for his friend.

   Szordrin continued to struggle, but to no avail. "Ormur!" he shouted, hoping to summon their magic rope from within its pack. The black, one-eyed shark opened its jaw rapidly, surprisingly wide, and its teeth jerked forward before the wizard could respond. In about three seconds, Szordrin's entire body was gulped into the beast's mouth.

   Szordrin was gone.

   Belvin appeared beside Kytharrah and laid hands on him. A surge of strength rushed through the minotaur, but the minotaur had no idea what to do. The monster had just eaten his friend! Belvin began screaming threats and obscenities at the beast in Sylvan, commanding it to spit out his companion. Leokas continued to shoot arrows, now aiming for the shark's tail so as not to also strike his swallowed friend.

   The sailors only just recognized what was happening and began screaming out, "Shark!" Nargroth roared in rage and charged down the steps from beside Oma to the main deck, but he could not reach the shark-like creature in time. It lifted its large head from the railing and was turning in space, about to "swim" away.

   From the top of the mizzen-mast, Bansh dove down recklessly, wings extended and cutlass drawn. He struck the side of beast, slashing its flesh open behind its tail fin, but the four-inch deep gash was not even enough to draw blood. Bansh continued to shoot past the shark into the reverse gravity below the ship's central plane.

   "Man overboard!" shouted Rimardo.

   Hakam burst through the port-side door from the forecastle, having no idea what the commotion was outside on the deck. Seeing a massive shark directly in front of him, he called on power from Anachtyr and boldly pressed his open hand against the shark's side. Black, crackling energy spread through the monstrous shark's body, and it twitched and writhed, but it was still not dead. Only then did Hakam seem to process how large and dangerous his opponent seemed. He stumbled against the railing and grabbed hold tightly.

   The shark flapped its tail to jet away from the side of the ship, but it was pummeled by two blasts of force from one of Oma's spells. It rolled to the side a bit, giving Kytharrah clear access to its thick neck.

   Hasted by Solisar's magic, and strengthened by Belvin's spell, he drove his blade down with great speed and power. The first swing opened up its neck, spraying blood on everyone nearby. The eerie glow in its one eye immediately faded, but not before Kytharrah could stop his second swing, which almost entirely cut the shark's head off.

   The massive, limp form of the beast slapped against the side of the ship and then tumbled. Bobbing in the gravity plane, it began to drift away, but Bansh, also bobbing, grabbed its tail and heaved it back. He reached his hand into the exposed gullet of the shark and tugged an unconscious Szordrin from the creature, covered in vile ooze. Gore and mostly digested bits from earlier meals now floated out of the shark's body to spread out over the invisible gravity plane.

   Sailors and adventures all hurried to help get the bodies of Szordrin and the shark back onto the ship, and they tossed ropes out to Bansh.

   "That was verifiably terrible!" exclaimed Martho.

   Belvin and Hakam were both examining Szordrin on the deck. "He still has a pulse," Belvin said. Oma gasped in relief.

   The druid neutralized the poison that Szordrin had inadvertently ingested, while the cleric used his magic to close the multiplicity of dagger-like bite wounds.

   Szordrin came to consciousness and coughed up a mess of stomach acid from the shark. Thankfully, his fiendish blood granted him magical protection from many acids, granting him the few more seconds that his teammates had needed to free him.

   "Is this dinner?" asked Kytharrah.

   "Might not be safe to eat, my man," said Diero, another Turmish man.

   "Certifiably not!" said Martho.

   "No, I have eaten void scavver meat," said Bansh. "It is not as delicious as night scavver meat, but it is still delicious."

   "A scavver?" asked Belvin and Solisar together.

   "The smaller ones are just annoying scavengers," said Bansh, "but these kind are person-eaters. All scavvers hang around the air envelopes of small wildspace objects, hitching rides on passing vessels. The small ones are actually nice for tossing waste out to, and the night scavvers are, as I said, delicious, but these big ones,..." He didn't finish his thought.

   Szordrin stood silent, still in shock, as the others discussed eating the monster that had so nearly eaten him. Belvin finished decapitating the scavver, and more of its stomach contents oozed out. There was something shiny there. Out of habit, he swiped it. It was coin. He wiped the poisonous goo off and saw a woman's face on the coin. The iconography looked familiar. He went below deck without saying anything else to the others. He had a lot to think about.
Session: 105th Game Session - Wednesday, Aug 22 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Two Quick Side Stops
~ sixth-day, 6th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, afternoon
Middle City, Bral


Everyone returned back the way they came, past the Interlink Consortium to Grand Street. From here the group split. While most of them, with Martho and the prospective sailor recruit, returned downhill to the docks, Hakam and the three elves turned right and began to follow the main street as it curved around the Great Market.

   "The elves will not let you into their forest," said Belvin to the human among them.

   "I have no intent to follow you all the way to the forest," explained Hakam. "I am looking for another magistrate's office to report the incident at the pub."

   "They are not going to care about a pub brawl," said Belvin.

   "Nevertheless, it is my duty to report the matter."

   "Did we not pass such an office on the way here, further back on this street?" asked Solisar.

   "Yes, but if I am not mistaken, we entered another district of the city," Hakam replied. "Gamalon said that the Consortium was in Middle City. I strongly suspect that each district has its own magistrate's office. They will if they are civilized."

   Just then, a street bum approached them. Hideously ugly and malformed, the man smelled terrible and whined for alms. Hakam reached into his pouch and handed him a copper. "Two more copper pieces if you can show us the fastest way to the Elven Forest and the magistrate's office," he said, while scrunching his nose against the man's vile odor.

   "Ah, ' course I can help ye. Ren the Wretched knows the way 'round the Great Market better than anyone else. Are ye sure ye don't need any goods. If Bral has 'em, Ren the Wretched can find 'em for ye." He looked up at them expectantly.

   "At the moment, all we need is directions," said Solisar. "Perhaps tomorrow or after we may need help finding goods, and if we come across you at that time, we shall ask then."

   "I'll be sure to keep an eye out for ye." Ren the Wretched looked at the sun elf with his only functioning eye. "Ren the Wretched is here every day."

   "Lead on then," said Hakam.

   Ren the Wretched turned to lead them, walking on unbalanced legs. They gave him significant distance before following, so that they could take deep breaths again.

   They really did not need any guidance to find the forest. They never left Grand Street as it continued to follow along the outside border of the market, moving counterclockwise. It then turned sharply to the right. "Keep on up the road," said Ren the Wretched, "and ye'll pass the Festival Grounds. Then the Forest is on the left."

   The elves headed in that direction and Hakam continued walking around the outer edges of the market with their smelly guide.

~~~~

The elves indeed passed by something like a paved parkway with planted trees and bushes on their right, crossing first Low Park Street and then High Park Street. Then there was the forest, coming up the street on the starboard side. The underbrush was too thick to enter at first; they had to walk half a block until they reached an obvious opening.

   It only took several paces into the cover of the trees before they felt like they were in another world.

   The three elves saw ash trees, oaks, laurel, and birch, many looking hundreds of years old. The light had a silvery gleam to it.

   "Elven magic is at work here," Solisar noted. "These trees appear older than the Rock has been settled."

   "It is beautiful," said Leokas, "though only a shadow of my High Forest home."

   Silently, two armed elves, finely crafted mail in perfect condition, stepped out of the tree cover into the path. Whether they had been invisible or simply well-hidden and quiet was not clear.

   "Welcome, ebrath, to the Elven Forest."

   "Alae," said Solisar. "I am hoping that you can lead me to the Elven Fleet. I have been sent from the Isle of Evermeet on behalf of Admiral Icarus."

   The two elves looked at each other. "Too bold a statement to be a lie, I think," said the one guard. "Nevertheless, such a visit requires advanced notice and an appointment. One of us will deliver your message. Can you return on the morrow?"

   "I suspect that I may easily enough."

   "Then, we shall see you then."

   "In the meantime," said the second guard. "Please feel at home among the trees. All true members of Tel'Quessir are welcome here."

   The two warriors stepped aside and let the three visitors pass. Belvin, Leokas, and Solisar walked along the path for a ways, delighting in the peaceful sounds of birds and small animals and taking in the pleasant smells of blossoms and fallen leaves. (The forest seemed to show simultaneously signs of Spring and Autumn.) There was no evidence of any structures or habitations, simply wild forest and the narrow, soft path.

   When they reached a crossroads; they decided to turn and go back. Solisar looked forward to returning the next day, after finishing whatever inquiry they could into Szordrin's rod with Martho's aid.

~~~~

Hakam followed behind Ren the Wretched along the starboard side of the market, avoiding most of its crowd of sellers and buyers. He paused for a moment when he saw a sign that he actually recognized: "Gamalon's Curios". It was the curios shop of that old sage from Tethyr.

   He had to step more quickly to catch up, but it was not much further before Ren the Wretched stopped and pointed with his twisted arm. "Trader's Way. The magistrate's office is down that way on the left." He held his palm open until Hakam filled it with the promised two more coppers.

   The offices of the Middle Magistrate were a complex of connected buildings with simple architecture, one of which was clearly a jail house. It was well guarded by men in chainmail and carrying swords and crossbows. Hakam went in the door that did not enter the jailhouse.

   "May I help you?" asked a clerk at the sole desk in the room. Two other doors exited from the tiny entry room, and there was a bench for waiting as well. A single armed man stood guard.

   "Yes, I am here to report an incident that occurred about 30 minutes ago at the Port Hole, a tavern on the port side."

   "How many people are dead?" asked the clerk, dipping a quill in some ink and ready to record.

   "No one died," said Hakam, "thanks to the intervention of my team and me."

   "Were any fires started?"

   "None."

   "If no one died and there were not any fires, why are you bothering the magistrate? Do you not think that Lady Ketal has better things to do?"

   "Pardon me for my intrusion," said Hakam. "I would have thought that the matter would have been of interest to her. I am new to Bral and also wanted to know more about how law and order were maintained." He kept to himself how disappointed he currently was with how the "system" seemed to work.

   "Well, if she has not the time to investigate non-critical crimes, she surely does not have the time to explain our laws to an off-worlder, no offense. Now, is there anything else that I can do for you?"

   Just then, the door behind him opened and another member of the Magistrate's Watch entered. The two guards nodded, and one bid the other good evening, and the first guard exited the building.

   "No, that is all," said Hakam. "Thank you for your time." He turned to follow behind the guard whose shift must have just ended.

   The off-duty Watch member saw Hakam exit and motioned to him to come over. "The clerk's a clevershank," said the man, "yet completely unhelpful, but he is correct that the magistrate would not have given you any time. How new are you to the Rock?"

   "Just arrived perhaps five hours ago, from Toril." Hakam glanced up at the blue planet hanging in the black sky.

   "Never been," said the man. Then he nodded at the tiny silver balance around Hakam's neck. "You a priest of Tyr?"

   "In my home country of Calimshan, he is know as Anachtyr, but yes."

   "I attend Tyr's temple twice per tenday! You should give the local temple a visit. At least the Tyrrans care about justice on this otherwise gods-forsaken rock. So, you are curious about how the laws work around here? I can fill you in quickly, for what that is worth."

   "I would be most appreciative."

   "Well, first, there are not actually any official law books. The Prince owns the whole Rock, and all the rest of us are tenants, so, technically, his word is law. I know that must be unthinkable to a priest of Tyr, but I am just passing on the information."

   The man lowered his voice and leaned in closer to Hakam. "Now, sure, there are rather convincing rumors that he murdered his brother to inherit his father's throne, but as far as rulers go, he could be a lot worse, so it is not as bad as it sounds. There are three government councils, however, and they in part balance the prince's power and make a lot of the decisions.

   "As far as laws go, the prince has mandated that piracy and slavery are both illegal, but everyone knows that the prince himself is descended from pirates, so that mandate is usually only referenced if the prince has it out to get someone.

   "Treason against the crown and arson are the two most heinous crimes one can commit."

   "How does the legal process work?" asked Hakam.

   The man laughed. "There is a lot of self-regulation, if you know what I mean. Most shops hire their own guards. If you steal, you are likely to get your hand hacked off by a paid guard. However, if the crime is considered serious enough, something that a paid guard cannot handle or that affects the whole asteroid, it can be reported here at the office. If you can get by the lazy clerk, you can present your case to the magistrate or her representative, and they can send some of us, her Watch, to investigate or to arrest the accused. Lady Terissa Ketal handles and presides over cases in Middle City, acting as both judge and jury. If something is too big for her to handle, she can always move the case on up to the prince, but that is not likely to happen unless it is some direct threat against the throne."

   "What sort of punishments does she pass out?"

   "If you accidentally start a fire, you are looking at ten years hard labor on the Underside in the crop fields."

   "What about for other specific crimes?" asked Hakam.

   "Burglaries and common thefts that for whatever reason seem important enough to prosecute earn you one year on the Underside for the first offense and five years on the second or for armed robbery. On the third offense, you are likely to be jettisoned."

   "Jettisoned?"

   "It is the favorite way to execute someone on the Rock, because it is rather cost-effective. You simply launch the criminal from one of the catapults into wildspace. Hopefully, they all suffocate before the scavvers get them."

   "How commonly is this done?"

   "It is the usual sentence for things like piracy — again, in practice, only if the prince wants your head — arson or murder. If you accidentally kill someone — well, someone important — it is usually just five years on the Underside. Since smuggling has to do with the prince not getting tax money, it is pursued more than some lesser crimes, but the punishments are, once again, time on the Underside, along with confiscation of the goods. Basically, crimes are either labor on the bottom of the Rock or taking a ride into space without a 'jammer. I have seen a few cases of 'provocation' that resulted in a sentence of a month on the Underside, but that sort of small crime sentence is very rare.

   "I should note that the convicted who have a good amount of gold are likely to make pleas to 'pay fines' rather than serve time on the bottom. I think that you understand what I am really saying.

   "Oh, I almost forgot. The official punishment for treason is execution by impalement, and your limp body is hung in the Festival Grounds, but I have never seen that done.

   "Well, I am hungry and am going to head home to my wife and kids."

   "Thank you," said Hakam. "You were most helpful."
Session: 104th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 18 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Post-Bar Fight
The bartender came back out of the kitchen with a large gallon of beer. "Where did half our customers go?" he asked.

   Drik-ch'kit clicked its mandibles in a way that the bartender seemed to understand, presumably explaining that the man had been charmed.

   The intense pain in its head had ceased, and so Drik-ch'kit escorted the illithid from the tavern. The three who had come in with the mind flayer followed them out, including the Shou warrior and the penguin. The lizardfolk departed quickly as well. Nargroth and Leokas, now recovered from the mind blast, began to help the barmaid and Oma clean the broken glassware, while Belvin and Hakam used their magics to heal the human whom the lizardfolk had nearly killed and the halfling whose brain had nearly been eaten.

   Drik-ch'kit reentered the tavern and chirped about the other bouncer being missing. Solisar followed it out and found that the beholder had telekinetically tossed the other insectoid over the edge of Bral. It bobbed up and down on the gravity plane and was drifting off into wildspace barely visible. Solisar used a flying spell to recover the poor soul.

   Within the bar, the two dwarves were bragging of their prowess, while their third companion was still passed out in the corner, the one about how he had punched a mind flayer, the other about how he had knocked a giff out cold with a single blow. They clearly still had energy. Kytharrah, who was somewhat upset at Jayce for implying that he might break his earlier playmate's head and forcing them to stop, now asked the dwarves if they wanted to wrestle with him. They happily agreed.

   "Take it outside," said Belvin, as he repaired the bald spot on the halfling's skull that had been dissolved by mind flayer mucus.

   Outside, Szordrin and Jayce — back to looking like a drow — were speaking with the man in the cloak from the bar.

   "What is your name?" asked Szordrin?

   "Martho. Thank you for helping me. Truly thankful."

   "We shall be thanking you soon," said Szordrin. "Do you manage the Interlink Consortium shop?"

   "For the night shift, yes," said the man. "What of it?"

   "Walker, tell this man what we need."

   "Do not rush things, master," said Jayce to Szordrin. "Can you not see that this man is distressed?" Then to Martho. "I could not help but notice that you have a lot on your mind, saer. In the bar, you barely noticed the fight erupting around you, and even before that you were not joined in revelry with any others. No, you quietly drank alone. Forgive my intrusion into your privacy, but are you not distraught over something in your life? Have you not come here to drink as a distraction? Your life is full of regrets and you do not know how to free yourself from the guilt that you feel."

   The man looked dumbfounded by this drow interviewing him. Drow were not known for their compassion or emotional empathy. Szordrin also was in awe. Surely Jayce was using magic to read the man's thoughts?

   "What do you want from me?" said Martho.

   "You think that you have reason not to trust us?" Jayce continued. "That is fair. Look at us, such strange companions — we are probably a spider-demon-worshiping dark elf and a spellcasting fiend-spawn. Well, if I read you correctly, I have felt what you felt. That is how I see it in you so clearly. So weighty was the guilt of my past life in the Underdark of Toril that I could barely stand to live any longer. So too with my master here, but our lives were turned around because of the kindness of one man. We are evidence of what a good man can do. And do you know why my life is no longer depressed? Because I have passed that kindness on to others. Do you want to feel joy again? The secret is to cease looking inward and look outward at others. Stop regretting and make a difference for good!"

   "Are you priests? Are you proselytizing me?" the man still looked confused.

   "No, we are two trying to set right a wrong, and we need your help."

   "Help? What can I do? I manage a store with such powerful magics and no regulation. Do you know that I have sold portals to necromancers and demon-summoners?"

   "Then make it right; help us right a wrong."

   Martho waited for Jayce to continue.

   "Master, the rod." Szordrin handed Jayce the fragment.

   Jayce continued, "Your consortium sold this rod to the assassin who slew my master's mentor, the man who set us each on the path of good."

   Meanwhile, the baboon with patagia approached the three elves and Hakam. He had not fled the bar as it had appeared; he had been the one to call on the bouncer outside for aid.

   "Most noble elves and human," he said in a gruff but pleasant voice, "I can see that you are newcomers to the Rock. I also observed that you risked yourselves to calm the brawl just now, and I admire this. But I shall be frank. I find myself in need of work. My previous employ, the Silver Rainbow, has been ordered to release its non-elven crew, and I was let go. Do you have need of any sailors on your own ship?"

   Hakam scanned the creature for signs of chaotic or evil auras and found neither. "Technically, such a decision would be made by our vessel's captain, Ombert Stronghull," said Hakam. "Why should we recommend you to him? What skills do you have?"

   "I assure you that I have many years of service on the sails," said the simian. "My people spend much of our lives at sea among the stars. Only have Captain Ombert test me on the ropes, and I shall display my value as a sailor."

   "Why choose ask us?" said Hakam. "Are there not other vessels needing sailors?"

   "Because you have elves!" said the creature, with an odd excitement in his voice. "Elves are the best of all masters."

   Belvin simply burst out laughing.

   "Play?" asked Kytharrah, having bested both dwarves simultaneously and looking for a new game.

   "I might be convinced to play with you, saer minotaur," said the simian, "but permit me to finish this conversation first."

   Hakam directed the potential sailor to the Frihet to speak with Captain Ombert himself. At that point, Szordrin and "Walker the drow" brought Martho over.

   "Good Martho here has agreed to lead us to the Interlink Consortium Corporate Asteroid to find the sale records of the assassin's rod," explained Jayce.
Session: 104th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 18 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Port Hole
"What did you think of the new spell I have been working on," asked Jayce, still in disguise as a drow elf as they all left the "flagship store" and turned left onto Wasp Street. "It enhances my glibness not a small amount, if I may say so for myself."

   Szordrin gave him a thumbs up. In truth, he was rather impressed with the power of the bard's magical deception.

   "I have a question though," said Jayce. "What are we trying to get out of this? Do we simply want a free magic rod? Or is it more important to locate the original buyer?"

   "The latter," said Szordrin, "though if you can manage both,..."

   "...it would be considered stealing," finished Hakam.

   Szordrin ignored this and turned to Solisar as they walked down the busy street. "Solisar, during my conversation with the salesman, he, naturally, expressed great fear of the drow, but in his mind he compared them to 'neoki'. What are they?"

   "Neogi," corrected Solisar. "They are infamous throughout wildspace as despicable slave traders. I believe that there is a population within the Underdark as well. You have not heard of them?"

   Szordrin shook his head.

   "By the mercy of the Seldarine, I have never encountered one, but I am told that they are something like a hairy spider with the neck and head of an eel. They are not an attractive race by any accounts."

   "I would think that a neogi fellow would find a neogi maiden attractive," said Jayce.

   "You would think wrongly," said Solisar, "for they have no males or females but reproduce through other means. They also form no interpersonal relationships beyond ownership and subservience. They are a purely individualistic race, totally alien to any that you or I know. It is even said that they eat sentient prey while it is still alive and take delight in this."

   They came to a building on the corner on the right, which had several signs advertising for the chartering of various small spelljammers for pleasure "cruises" through Realmspace. White flags with a golden S flew outside the main entrance. They turned left onto Galley Street.

   "Did anyone else learn anything from any of the other departments?" Szordrin asked.

   "I can buy a magic mirror to communicate with Mother for only 7,000 platinum pieces!" said Nargroth.

   "You do not have 7,000 platinum," said Oma.

   "I might after Ombert sells our gnomish toys," said the half-orc.

   "Toys?" said Kytharrah. "What toys?"

   "They also sell granite and darkwood," said Belvin, "for much cheaper than 7,000 platinum."

   They reached another cobbler's shop and turned right onto Whale Street. This road began to lead them downhill, and they could see the very edge of the world again and, far beyond that, blue Toril hanging silent in the black sky.

   When they came nearly to the top of the cliff where the city of Bral abruptly ended, they found a public park, planted with green grass and trees. What they guessed to be ogre children were playing fetch with some sort of canine creature. Some couples snuggled on benches staring out at Toril and its moon.

   "What a romantic place to sit," said Oma. Jayce elbowed Nargroth, but the half-orc ignored it.

   Whale Street continued parallel to the park and uphill toward the trailing edge. "There is The Edge," said Jayce, pointing. It was a large and noisy tavern. On the roof was a deck, and an assortment of folk were singing spacefaring songs while frequently spilling their mugs of ale over the railing.

   "So that must be the Port Hole," said Nargroth. The tiny tavern to the left of The Edge had only two small windows, which were, fittingly, round like portholes. The bar otherwise had no sign. Outside the single door stood a tall insectoid creature, looking something like a humanoid praying mantis. In each of its two pairs of arms it held a strange double-sided pole arm with half-moon shaped blades. Resting on the ground next to this creature was a barrel full of an assortment of weapons.

   The group approached the alien bouncer, and it made clicking sounds with its complicated mandibles, and it took them a moment to recognize that it had spoken in broken Common. "No weapons inside." It released its grip on one of its polearms and pointed with one of its four "fingers" to the barrel.

   They agreed and left their weapons in the barrel. Jayce made himself look human again. Then they opened the door and entered.

   They had never seen such a diverse crowd in a single place. Most noticeable was the giant, fleshy orb magically floating over a pair of large stools at the far left of the bar across from them. Out of this eight-foot-wide orb sprouted ten writhing stalks, each ending in an eyeball. While they could not see the front of the bulbous, alien thing, they knew it could be nothing other than an infamous beholder. Some of them had encountered a smaller, beholder-like gauth before, during a short excursion through the Underdark below the jungles of Chult, but this one was the real deal. It seemed to be drinking up a beverage on the bar counter through a thick wooden straw.

   Next to the beholder, with an empty stool between it and them, stood two human sailors, who were slapping the countertop in laughter. Each had red hair, and one had a thick beard. Moving down the line, they saw a sitting figure in a cloak, leaning over whatever it was he or she was eating or drinking. Next were two reptilian humanoids, which reminded some of the group of lizardfolk that they had met in Chult, only these were dressed in far more civilized clothes. Next to the lizardmen, sitting alone at the bar, was a very hairy humanoid creature that reminded them of a baboon. At the corner of the bar counter stood a heavily drunk human calling for more ale from the fat tavernmaster behind the counter. The counter made a turn and along this short edge were placed smaller stools. On one of these sat a halfling with jet black skin.

   Two open doorways were on the back wall, probably leading into the kitchen. One was behind the counter, and from the other stepped a young barwench carrying a tray with drinks to a round table in the far corner. She passed another insectoid bouncer, looking identical to the one they had just encountered outside. She set the drinks down on the table, around which sat three happy dwarves.

   Across the tavern from the dwarves, sitting completely alone at another round table on a large-sized chair was another bizarre patron. This bulky humanoid looked something like the hippopotami that they had observed in some of the rivers of Chult, but it was fully dressed in an ornate naval uniform with an absurd number of badges on its chest.

   The next table had a truly eclectic mix of customers in deep discussion over a trade agreement of some sort. They included a talking penguin with opposable wingtips, a Shou warrior in full Shou scale mail, a human with a tricorn hat, and an illithid, or mind flayer. This latter monster was known in the tales of terror told among the youth of many civilizations; the hunched-over humanoid had what looked almost like an octopus for a head. Like the beholder, it sucked up a beverage through a straw into the circular mouth hiding beneath its four wiggling tentacles.

   Immediately to their right, next to the table with the illithid, was an empty table with four chairs around it. To their left was the final table in the small tavern, and about it sat a group of elves. These were all shorter than any of the elves in the group of adventurers, and all of them were also in naval uniforms.

   "These are members of the Imperial Elven Navy," said Solisar. "I recognize their uniforms." He immediately walked over to the three elves and joined them at their table.

   "Should we be worried about any of the clientele?" asked Jayce, nodding his head first toward the beholder and then toward the illithid, but Nargroth didn't seem to care. He simply moved into the bar and up to the counter next to the black-skinned halfling. The others took seats or stood around the open table by the door. Jayce whistled at the barwench and winked at her. She came over to take their orders.

   At the elven table, Solisar had introduced himself in the Elvish tongue and was trying to learn more about the elves' place on the Rock. "When I was last in Evermeet," he said, "I met with Fleet Admiral Icarus; he suggested that I speak with the Elven Navy stationed here on the Rock of Bral if ever my companions and I are in need of aid in our quest. You see, all of us are newcomers to wildspace."

   "You have been to Evermeet!" said the one elf. "Is it truly as beautiful as the stories tell?"

   "Indeed, it is," said Solisar. "I was born there; it is my home. Yet why should you not visit? Is Toril not before you when you step outside these doors?"

   "My orders do not permit it," said the elf.

   The second elf seemed more impressed that Solisar had met Admiral Icarus. "Icarus? The same Icarus who emerged victorious from fifteen battles against the scro in the Second Unhuman War?"

   "He did not speak of his battle prowess, but he commands a vessel called the Arrow of Justice and is fleet admiral of this whole crystal sphere, if I understood correctly."

   "How did you manage such an audience? Who are you in truth?"

   "I am simply a scholar who, perhaps by the mischief of Erevan, has found himself enwrapped in a quest with these companions whom you see that has taken the interest of no small number of gods. We came upon an ancient Netherese spelljammer. When I piloted alone to my island, to seek an audience with my grandmother, a great seer, I was stopped by the Evermeet fleet and eventually taken to Icarus, after they learned more about my vessel."

   "Who are the Netherese?" asked the third elf. "Forgive me, as I am not from Realmspace originally."

   "No offense taken! They were an ancient civilization of humans on the world of Toril, some of the first humans to attain the power to leave their world."

   "You piloted a spelljammer alone?" asked the second elf.

   "Yes, that was what surprised the captain of the vessel that first apprehended me; it seems that the spelljammer technology of the Netherese differed from that of most other races, and this was of great historic — and perhaps military significance — to our kin.

   "To answer your original question," said the second elf, "you can reach Naval Command by means of the Embassy, which is located in the Elven Forest."

   "Yo ho! Nargroth!" someone yelled very loudly. It was one of the red-haired sailors.

   From the far end of the bar, Nargroth waved back with the kind of grin that revealed that he had no idea who was calling him.

   "It is me, Pat! Fancy meeting you at this place."

   Nargroth took his drink and walked over to the two sailors, who clanked their ceramic mugs against his. "To the Frihet!" said the bearded sailor.

   Nargroth left the two sailors and joined the others at the table. "I think that the captain hired them on at Lantan before we left," Nargroth explained. "I do not remember their names."

   "I have not met them yet either," said Oma. "They have not tried to slap my backside yet, unlike all the other sailors."

   "Has Loreene tried to slap your backside yet?" asked Jayce.

   "When she was drunk, yes."

   "We need to find the manager of the Interlink Consortium store and talk to him," said Szordrin.

   "Let us at least get our drinks and snacks first," said Jayce. "The manager is either the man in the cloak, the one talking to the penguin and the squid-head, or that drunk who has fallen asleep with his head at the bar over there."

   The serving girl arrived with a tray full of all their orders. "Sagecourse for you, Krynnish ale for you, mead...."

   Pat, the clean-shaven Lantanna sailor laughed so loudly at something that it interrupted the waitress. "Where is the ball?" he repeated. "Shemus, you are making me roll with laughter."

   "Careful," said the bearded sailor, "it might hear you."

   "I do not think that they have ears," Pat replied.

   "...Mead for you," continued the young woman, "an appetizer of fried zard toes and a water for you, a bottle of...."

   "I have one, I have one!" said Pat, in very much an outside voice. "Right now, I am a gorgeous man, handsomer than any asperusa fellow."

   "I suppose I am supposed to ask you why?" said Shemus.

   "You know what they say, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder." He chugged his beer.

   Shemus laughed and put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Eye see what you did there!"

   "Shemus, my friend, do you think that you could be any cornea?"

   "What is a cornea?" Oma whispered to Nargroth.

   "It is a part of an eyeball," said the half-orc.

   "Oh, I have one," said Shemus, now as loudly as his companion. "How does a beholder, you know, do it with a lady-beholder?"

   Pat shrugged and said, "I dare you to ask it."

   Neither man saw several of the spherical monstrosity's eyestalks cease wiggling and begin to focus on them.

   "No, no," said Shemus, "the answer is, 'With all eleven eyes shut'!"

   Two beams of magical energy shot forth so quickly from a pair of eyestalks that it was almost unnoticeable, and they struck the sailor Shemus on the back of his bald head. A third ray of energy struck Pat's mug of beer, lifted it off the countertop, and splashed it over Pat's face. Kytharrah started giggling at this.

   The beholder hovered over the counter and into the corner of the tavern, now facing the entire crowd of customers with its large central eye wide open and drool dripping between its huge, teeth-filled maw. The huge mouth spoke in perfect Common, "Bathe in your beer, fool."

   "Oh my gods!" exclaimed the man at the table next to them with the hat. He slid off his chair and began to crawl under the table. With a quack that sounded more like duck than penguin, the man's tiny tablemate joined him under the table.

   "Ha ha ha," laughed Shemus, pointing at his drenched friend. "Looks like you've been ray-nd on!"

   "What are you laughing at?" said Pat. "He shot you in the head! Twice! Snap out of it!" Pat tried to slap Shemus but was too drunk to make contact on the first swing.

   At that, the halfling hopped off his stool and fled into the kitchen. The two lizardmen also dismounted from their stools with loud hisses and stood as if ready to defend themselves should anyone attack them.

   The drunk on the corner of the counter woke up suddenly at all the commotion. "Is there a fight?" he asked spinning around to see what was happening in the room. Then he retched and spewed the contents of his stomach all over the wooden floor at his feet.

   Szordrin fumbled for a tiny item in his spell component pouch and started waving his hands in a pattern before stopping. "I cannot feel the Weave!" he warned. "Like at Thultantar." Then he slid off his chair and crouched under the table.

   The others at the table then noticed that the hippopotamus alien had risen to his feet. From somewhere under its bulky uniform it had extracted a concealed weapon, something like a sawed-off version of Hakam's old musket. The beast called out in a booming voice, "How dare you use your magic eyes in this tavern, foul aberration!" He aimed the firearm at the beholder and pulled the trigger. There was a deafening boom, followed immediately by a loud clang and the shattering of glass. For a moment, everyone stopped moving as smoke from the gun dissipated. The Shou warrior was feeling a dent in his horned helmet. Apparently, the bullet had ricocheted off the metal and struck one of the empty bottles of ale on the counter.

   The first one to move was the man in the cloak at the counter, who simply took another drink, as if he cared nothing for the happenings around him. The elves with Solisar did the same. The serving maid, on the other hand, shrieked and ran toward the starboard wall, behind the shelter of the mantis bouncer, who was moving its compound eyes back and forth as if trying to decide which patron was currently the biggest threat to the other customers in the bar.

   Leokas and Belvin each grabbed a dinner knife from their table. Nearby, the Shou man stood up and began shouting supposed expletives in his language at the hippo-man. Mass chaos erupted in the tavern. Another beam shot forth from the beholder, this one striking the bartender. The Shou charged at the hippo-man. Hakam rose to his feet. The baboon like creature stood on his bar stool. Jayce jumped on the table and unslung his yarting. The mind flayer was calmly strolling toward the kitchen. Oma made her way to the far wall by the bouncer. The lizardmen hissed. The penguin squawked loudly from under the table. Kytharrah continued laughing at the great fun happening around him.

   The mantis sprung on its powerful legs and leaped through the air like a grasshopper, over the heads of the lizardmen, and landed in front of the beholder, spinning one of its polearms over its head wildly.

   The bartender yelled at it, "Leave the beholder be, Drik-ch'kit. Stop the giff!"

   "Bar fight!" shouted one of the dwarves.

   "Yes!" shouted another. The two of them flipped over their table, and their companion, who had been leaning on it, fell to the floor with a thud.

   "Typical dwarves," muttered one of naval elves.

   Nargroth reached Pat and tried to pin him so that he couldn't slap Shemus again, but Pat was flailing about too much for the half-orc to get a good grip on him.

   "Don't hit me!" shouted Shemus. "It was just an innocent prank." He tried to punch Pat, but Nargroth pulled the man back to avoid the blow.

   Pat, however, broke free again from Nargroth and swung his own punch, striking his friend but not with a very solid blow.

   Solisar stood and pressed himself against the wall. Suddenly, he was out of the cone of vision of the beholder's central eye and could feel the Weave. His enchanted eyes could now see a residual aura around the tavernmaster. He tried dispelling the beholder's charming magic but failed.

   Just then, someone in the kitchen shouted, "How many times must I say it? Stay out of the kitchen!" The halfling flew through the air like a large doll and struck the illithid, whose attention was on the beholder. The illithid slipped on the vomit on the floor and fell to its back.

   Szordrin joined Oma at the wall. She was chanting something. "Something is blocking our magic," he said. She nodded, with a look on her face that confirmed that she was well aware of that. She motioned close to the wall with her eyes and continued chanting. Finally, recognizing that it was the beholder who was blocking his spell power, he pressed himself to the wall and, shortly thereafter, turned invisible.

   In front of the counter, the man who had earlier thrown up sucker punched one of the lizardmen in the back of its green, scaled head. So, now, three separate fights were ongoing: Shemus and Pat were throwing drunken blows at each other, as Nargroth tried to keep them apart; the giff, the hippo-creature, was blocking countless chops and spin kicks from the Shou warrior and punches from one of the dwarves with his massive forearms; and the two reptilian humanoids were slashing at the drunk human with their natural, sharp claws.

   Now Hakam pressed through the commotion and reached the wall by Oma, and his magical ability to sense chaos returned, though he could only see auras around Oma and one of the naval elves, as the rest of the patrons were within the beholder's antimagic projection. He grabbed a glass from the bar counter, prayed a quick prayer over it, and tossed it toward the beholder. It shattered against the corner behind the floating monster. From the shards erupted a thick darkness that could only form outside the beholder's antimagic, thus outlining the extent of its projection.

   In response, beams of energy shut forth from the beholder. Two of the three beams struck Hakam in the chest, but the cleric did not seem to mind.

   The baboon suddenly raised his arms, revealing that flaps of skin were stretched between his arms and legs, much like a flying squirrel. He leapt from his stool and glided past the fighting sailors and the angry lizardmen and landed by the door.

   Jayce was strumming something like a lullaby on his yarting, but no one seemed to notice. The fighting continued, and the drunk dropped to the floor in a pool of blood, as one of the lizardmen had slit his throat with his claw. Belvin and Leokas moved from their spots and tried to stop the man from bleeding to death, giving the reptiles a glare that warned them to stop further attacks.

   Meanwhile, the brawl between giff, Shou, and dwarf continued. The giff pummeled the Shou on its helmet with his thick fist, and the Shou responded with repeated kicks and punches of his own.

   No one had at first noticed that, during all the other fighting, the illithid had managed to get the halfling's head underneath its tentacles, until the serving wench dropped her tray and screamed. Drik-ch'kit, the bouncer, stopped on its way to the fight with the giff in the corner and swung its moon-shaped blade at the mind flayer, splattering silvery-white blood. One of the dwarves joined in, and hammered his fist atop the illithid's skull. This freed the helpless halfling, who rolled onto the floor unconscious and missing his hair where the mind flayer's mucus had already dissolved it away. Leokas and Belvin, having stopped the human from bleeding to death with a tight bandage, now moved to surround the mind flayer and assist the bouncer and the dwarf, lest the monster tried to eat anyone else's brain.

   Then, Oma pointed, and an enormous skeleton appeared out of nothing behind the bar. It was hunched over, with arms brushing against the ground, and it had a protruding nasal bone and a very thick skull. With one of its long arms, it swung at the eye tyrant, knocking several of its eyestalks limp.

   "Oma, stop summoning!" ordered Hakam. "The beholder is not our enemy here." With that he attempted to dispel her summon but was unable.

   "But it is going to get away!" she argued.

   By this point, the gliding baboon had opened the door and exited, and the elves now stood to depart as well, bidding Solisar farewell as they did so, even though they couldn't actually see the sun elf, as he was within Hakam's magical darkness, which spread out along the walls. For his part, Solisar attempted to dispel magic again, this time from Hakam, whom he had seen struck by the beholder's rays. Once again, however, he could not overcome the power of the beholder's magic. He stumbled against the bar counter in the dark.

   Just as the three elves exited, the other insect guard from outside rushed in. Seeing a giant skeleton, it assumed it to be an enemy and sprung forward with a great leap, then swinging its weapons and splintering ribs.

   Meanwhile, Nargroth had finally pinned Pat. "Kytharrah, give me a hand with... the other guy!"

   Kytharrah happily rushed over and pinned Shemus in mere moments.

   "Get me another beer!" ordered the beholder, and immediately, the bartender stepped into the kitchen. The floating orb rotated, and the darkness along that wall vanished, as did the summoned troll skeleton and Hakam's charm. The cleric shook his head, feeling a strange sensation of momentary confusion that was something akin to the feeling of betrayal. Then, the beholder turned again, and immediately Hakam forgot the sensation. The beholder seemed a fair fellow to him again.

   "Have a good afternoon, everyone," said the beholder politely, as it floated toward the door. As it did so, the magical darkness filled the area that it vacated.

   "Not so fast!" chirped the insectoid guard who had come from outside. He slashed at the beholder, leaving a thick gash. It turned to face its attacker, baring its huge teeth.

   "Forget that, Hakam!" said Oma, and she began another summoning spell.

   Then, several folks screamed from pain and grabbed their heads. Nargroth let go of Pat and clutched his skull. Leokas dropped the dinner knife. His head was throbbing in intense pain. Even Drik-ch'kit, the insectoid bouncer, was affected; its antennae twitched erratically.

   Oma ceased her spell and moved toward Nargroth.

   The other insect was unaffected by the illithid's psionic attack and focused its swings at the beholder, who rose high toward the ceiling to avoid the blows. When the beholder dropped lower again and turned, the mind flayer was back on its feet and had one of its tentacles wrapped around the other bouncer Drik-ch'kit's head.

   Kytharrah released Shemus, who dropped to the ground and covered his head, moaning. The minotaur darted over to Leokas. "Is little brother hurt?"

   "My head!" Leokas responded. It felt like it was going to explode.

   The beholder closed its central eye. Several more beams shot forth from its other eyes, one of them a solid beam that lifted the insectoid of its feet and tossed it out the door. Then, the beholder itself floated outside and was gone, leaving behind a huge patch of magical darkness, filling half the room.

   "Huzzah!" shouted the dwarf at the far corner, which was still in light. "Did ya see that blow?" The Shou and the dwarf then chest-bumped each other, as the giff lay knocked out cold. Both Shou and dwarf seemed oblivious to the other fighting behind them.

   "Never mind that, help me here!" said the other dwarf, who frantically tried to grab the mind flayer and pull him from the bouncer but to no avail. The illithid was about to get a second tentacle around Drik-ch'kit's neck.

   Missiles of magical force flew through the room from out of the darkness, called forth by both Szordrin and Solisar, but they simply passed around the illithid's body with no effect.

   Hakam called out, "Everyone, heed the holy words of Anachtyr. This chaos must cease! We must restore order to this madness. Choose to repent from your anarchist ways at once!"

   "Shut up, Hakam," said Belvin. The wild elf tried to dispel Hakam's enchantment, but he was as successful as all the other previous attempts at such.

   Kytharrah came to the rescue of the bouncer, however. "Play?" he said, as he grappled with the mind flayer and easily yanked him away from the Drik-ch'kit. The Shou ran over, ready to join in the next scuffle but held back when he saw that the minotaur already had the upper hand.

   "...There is still time to repent! Cease this senseless violence!" preached Hakam.

   "He speaks truth! Listen to him!" called the human who was hiding under the table with the penguin.

   "Here! Here!" said the bar wench.

   In the darkness, Szordrin found the cloaked man at the bar counter. "Are you the manager of the Interlink Consortium?"

   "My head... hurts... so badly! Who are you? I cannot see. Honestly dreadful!"

   "Here, let me get you out of here." Szordrin helped the man off his stool and led him out of the darkness. "I found our man, let us get out of here!"

   "Good bye, then," said Belvin, and he followed the tiefling toward the door.

   The illithid, on the other hand had not yet given up. It still writhed, and Jayce feared it would resort to another psionic attack to break free. The bard stopped his strumming, which had clearly been useless anyway and jumped down from the table. "Stand down, calamari," he threatened, "or our minotaur will crush your skull."

   They all heard a voice within their heads. I yield. You have my word.
Session: 104th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 18 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Interlink Consortium of Bral
"Remember, Szordrin," said Jayce, "if you need to do any bluffing in here, I am your man."

   Szordrin cast several spells upon himself, and then they all stepped up to the entrance. On the door was a placard that read:
The Interlink Consortium of Bral
Helping You Make Quality Interplanar Connections For 49 Years
The Flagship Store
Store Hours
0:00 to 0:00 daily

   The nine adventurers pushed open the door and stepped inside. Two armed guards, a half-elf man on the left and a Shou woman on the right, stood silently to the side of the small foyer.

   Szordrin could magically hear the half-elf practicing a conversation in his head. "Yu Yan, what are you doing after our watch? I do not know about you, but I could use a glass of wine. Would you be interested in stopping at the Raised Cup?" Oh, but she probably does not drink. I can just say that they also have good food. No, she is probably on a special diet. Maybe Starboard Park? No, too obviously romantic. For her part, the Shou woman was meditating and running through her martial arts exercise routine in her mind.

   Here in the foyer, there was an inner door and another placard.
Dear Customers:
Here at the Interlink Consortium, we believe that the multiverse has much to offer, and our special line of products will allow you to enjoy its delights, but we also know that interplanar travel comes with its risks. Thus we believe that no purchase should be made without careful time and consideration — like buying a new horse, you should be able to try out the product, and an expert should be available to answer all of your questions.
For this reason, we want your time on this visit to be an experience, not just a shopping trip. Feel free to explore our showroom, and if at any time you have a question, simply toss one of the coins in the basket below to the ground, and a knowledgeable representative will be with you shortly.
Welcome!

   The "coins" in the basket were simple round tokens, seemingly made of wood. Carved on one side was the Interlink Consortium logo; on the other was written, "Help is on its way." Solisar could see that the wooden tokens were enchanted. Szordrin took one and opened the door.

   They entered a spacious and open warehouse room. Four more guards stood by, one in each corner, but no further employees could be seen. (Hakam was relieved to note that none of the guards had a chaotic aura.) Placed around the showroom were nine portals. Most of them were unique in shape and style. Some looked like archways; some were platforms. Hanging from the ceiling above each portal was a wooden sign. From left to right around the room, the hanging signs read in large letters: "Our History," "Tuning Forks," "Personal Devices," "Communicators," "Portal Accessories," "Portal Repair," "Planar Guides," "Raw Materials," and "Research & Development". Beside each portal stood a smaller sign. A single banner hanging in the very center of the room read, "All portals in this showroom available for purchase and delivery. Inquire with a representative for pricing."

   The first thing that most of them noticed was the portal under the "Personal Devices" banner; it looked like one of the portals that Samber had purchased, which they had inadvertently helped deliver to him in Chult. Jayce headed toward it. Szordrin walked toward "Portal Accessories", but first, the disguised wizard turned toward Solisar and said loudly enough for the guards to have heard, "My royal historian, go investigate the History portal."

   Solisar rolled his eyes at Szordrin's comment but obeyed. Belvin followed him. The others continued to look around the room. Kytharrah approached the portal underneath the "Tuning Forks" sign, which looked much like a pool or bath. He could see the blurry image of a room in the mostly still waters. He put his large hand in the water and was fascinated to no longer be able to see it. Then he noticed that his fur did not feel at all wet. He began experimenting with placing other body parts into the "water". Then he saw a knob and turned it. The water responded by changing from clear to orange. He turned it again, and it turned green.

   The portal under the "Our History" banner was a simple archway of black stone. The portal was already active; Solisar and Belvin could see a small room through it on the other side. (When they stepped around to the far side of the archway, they saw only the showroom room in which they were standing.) Solisar read the sign beside the portal aloud to Belvin.
Our original, two-way, always-active portal design.

   Nargroth, Oma, and Leokas joined the two elves, and the five of them stepped through the archway to find themselves in a small museum of sorts. Various items were on display in glass cases, and placards explained the history of the company in fancy calligraphy. The four began with the first sign.
How It All Started

The Interlink Consortium is a company founded on the power of love, a power that links all of the planes and all of the crystal spheres, a power that still drives us to put care into all of our products....

Belvin audibly gagged, and he and Leokas turned away to look at other things. The other three read every word.

   In summary, the history described how the company was founded almost 50 years ago by the son of a rich "noble", (in truth, most likely a former space pirate, though this detail was inferred by the readers,) who became an explorer. His life was supposedly changed forever when he accidentally discovered an elemental vortex from the Elemental Plane of Air to the Feywild. Lost in the strange twilight of that world, he gazed upon a fey creature and fell instantly in love with her, so the story said. He pursued her for days, until he stumbled into a pool that was actually a portal back to the Material Plane. He managed to find a way back to Bral, but he could no longer sleep, so great was his desire to gaze upon the fey maiden again. A man of no magical talent at all, he hired wizards to provide him a way of locating her again and began selling items that they made to fund his journeys back to the Plane of Faerie and to other planes.

   The founder soon "linked" his company to other magic shops on Bral and then to those of wizards from other worlds and crystal spheres. Inventors whose products were sold by the Consortium agreed not to sell them through other vendors. In exchange, these products were spread to other worlds and spheres. The company started out by selling simple tuning forks; cross-planar communication devices, such as sending stones; and locators, before expanding to portals and their apparatus and ultimately to even providing guide services and commission work.

   Belvin was looking at some of the items behind a glass case. There was a strand of golden hair, supposedly dropped by the "fey creature" and a silver leaf with golden vanes. "This leaf is not from Toril," said Belvin, "but I recognize it from my visions. Leokas, do you know this leaf?"

   The ranger, too, had never seen it in any forest of Toril.

   Meanwhile, Katharrah, after inserting his hoof, hand, and nose into the "water" of the pool-like portal and after changing the "waters" to every color of the rainbow, took a running leap into its center. There was no splash. Instead, he felt a strange sensation of falling upward, as he found himself shooting out of a similar pool in another room with the same momentum and landing, dry, on the floor with a thud. The thud caused a strange cacophony of barely audible ringing sounds from all around him. Hanging on all four walls of this place were tiny forks. Spaced every yard or so was also a short, narrow column of stone.

   He picked up one that was particularly shiny and whacked it against the nearest stone column. It gave a crisp clear note. "Pretty!" said the minotaur. He, of course, began sampling all of the forks, though he at least had the sense not to ring one of glass ones, as it looked too delicate.

   Hakam appeared, stepping out of the pool in the center of the room and looking slightly confused, as he had been descending into the pool one moment earlier and now seemed to be ascending instead. His ears were then in pain from the atonal racket that Kytharrah was making.

   "Minotaur! Stop that! Put those back."

   It took some effort to return the forks to their proper spots, as Hakam was not an expert in recognizing the difference between a fork made of zinc versus one made of nickel. He took mental note of the prices of each fork. They ranged in price from only a copper piece for a fork of quartz to a full ten platinum pieces for a fork of adamantine. Every pitch of fork was available, including all sharps and flats of the musical scale.

   Jayce had read the sign next to the circular gate below the "Personal Devices" portal.
Our popular keyed, one-way portal provides extra security. As a demonstration, we provide a sampling of objects that you might chose to make into a key for such a portal. Be sure to take one before passing through the portal. Please return the key to the basket upon returning to the main showroom!

Beside the sign was a small table with a basket. The basket included such small items as a stone, a coin, an actual key, and a ring. There were about ten items in all. He took one and stepped underneath the rounded arch and vanished.

   Szordrin had read the sign underneath the "Portal Accessories" banner.
Our "mirror" portal design, favored by those travelers who wish either their portal to be a work of art or to hide it among everyday furnishings. To activate this demonstration portal, speak the magic words, "We love our customers."

Szordrin looked at the ornate, wooden-framed mirror, and said, "We love our customers." His reflection was immediately replaced by the image of another room. He stepped through. This new room did not have any merchandise on display; instead, scrolls on the wall described various modifications to portals and diagrams of portal attachments and paraphernalia, from portal keys to portal security devices.

   One diagram and its description immediately caught Szordrin's eye.
Galormansko's Sequencer Apparatus
Invented by Galormansko, from the world of Oerth, the same world as the famous mage Mordenkainen. This apparatus is embedded in the frame of a portal. When the portal is activated, it creates a temporary portal at the destination of the main portal, allowing one to sequence portal jumps.

   "Samber ordered one of these," spoke Szordrin to himself. Knowing that the duration of his mind-reading magic was ticking away, he took the wooden token that he had taken from the foyer and tossed it to the ground. When it hit the floor, it grew to a disk of about a yard in diameter and a human man appeared to rise quickly out of it.

   "How may I help you, saer?" said the man, showing an extremely large fake smile. This man dresses very strangely, he thought. He must be an off-worlder. Maybe I will make my commission today!

   "I am a representative from Guallidurth in the Underdark of Toril below us," said Szordrin. "Among other things, the Mistress Mother has sent me to investigate the possibility of beginning a spice trade between her city and those of other worlds." As he said this, he held up a small pouch of spices from Calimport. "Is this something that your company can help us with?"

   The man took a whiff. "I do not know the smell, but it is indeed pleasant." He maintained his display of white teeth. Drow! Almost as terrifying as the neogi, he thought. Then he added, "If you are asking if we would have dealings with a race that is... erm... disliked by many others, I assure you that here at the Interlink Consortium, we are a neutral party and have respect for all of our customers. We ask no questions; we simply offer you the best products."

   "Can you tell me about this product here? How would it help the Matron Mother sell to, say, the City of Brass?"

   "Oh, you would not need a Galormansko's sequencer to establish a permanent portal link to the City of Brass; any of our simple portals can do that. No, the sequencer is only needed when you would otherwise have to establish, well, a sequence of portals to reach a destination. The Plane of Fire only has a single layer. As I am sure that you know, most of the Outer Planes have multiple layers and the usual magics available to planar travelers can access only the so-called 'first' layers, as these are the only layers that border the Astral Plane. To reach the Ninth Hell, for example — though why anyone would want to do this is beyond me — one would have to establish portals between each of the other eight layers first." I wonder if the drow do want to visit Nessus. Gods help us! "However, if one owns one of our amazing sequencers, the links need only be established one time, when the portal is established. After that, rather than having to walk through a series of nine portals, one would only need to walk through a single portal and instantly arrive at the lowest layer. Because of the dangers of connecting to deeper layers of dangerous planes, we strongly urge that our customers also purchase significant security measures for a portal that uses a sequencer."

   Just then, Kytharrah popped into existence in the room, looking like he had just contorted his body to squeeze through a tiny place.

   Well, that is a shaggy monster! How did he fit through the mirror?

   "What can you also tell me about guides?" asked Szordrin. "I see that you also sell guide services."

   "Indeed we do," said the sales representative with another too-large smile. "Many of our customers have never visited the planes before. We have a team of superbly skilled guides, all of whom are experts in many planes. Our guides can also assist in making the initial connections required for establishing portal linkages, or they can be hired instead for making deliveries to planar locations."

   "Can a guide take me to my family?" asked Kytharrah.

   It talks? "Where is your home, young saer? Is it another plane?" I hope it is young and I did not just offend it! It could rip my head off.

   Kytharrah shrugged.

   Szordrin whispered to the representative. "Do not mind our minotaur bodyguard; his parents are no longer among the living. He has no home."

   Nevertheless, the salesman continued, "Well, if your home happens to be another plane, and if you were taken from your home through interplanar travel, we might have just the thing you need. Come with me."

   The man walked to a mirror on the opposite wall, excitedly said, "We love our customers!" and stepped through. Szordrin waited for the minotaur to twist sideways and stuff himself forcefully into the narrow space. Szordrin took the opportunity to remove a small magic pearl, which he held. Arcane symbols flashed before his mind's eye. He then recast his spell to read minds, before following through the magic mirror.

   Back in the main showroom, Szordrin saw Nargroth and Oma step onto a portal that looked like a dais. They each said, "Communicator Showroom, please," and disappeared.

   The salesman, however, led them to the circular gate made of black metal. "Make sure that you take a portal key from the basket," he said, before walking through and vanishing. Tiefling and minotaur each took a token from the basket and followed.

   They found Solisar in the room, perusing the many items for sale on the shelves. There were rings, rods, staffs, and a miscellany of other objects, all small enough to be carried on one's person.

   The man showed them a rod of dark metal hanging on the wall. "We call this a rod of retracing," he said. "If you speak the name of any of your lost family members, it will lock on to the residual threads left in the Astral Plane as they last passed through it. Then, if you have other means of shifting planes by magic, it will serve the same function as a tuning fork and focus the spell such that you will be taken to the last plane to or from which that person traveled from or to your current location." The man turned to smile at Kytharrah but found that the minotaur had already lost interest and was instead examining a large, round piece of black cloth that seemed to be hole into nothing. Once again, Kytharrah began inserting various appendages into it.

   "Our beast has a short attention span," said Szordrin. "I however am quite interested in this item." Szordrin noticed that the rod, like many other items in this room, had the Interlink Consortium logo engraved on it, but beyond that, he thought it looked extremely similar to the fragment he carried with him.... "This looks like the rod that my drow friend gave me." Then he turned to Solisar and said with a wink. "Slave, go get Walker immediately."

   If the man had any idea of who Walker actually was, his thoughts gave no such indication; rather, he was concerned that Kytharrah might break something.

   Solisar understood and ceased examining a magic staff to go retrieve Jayce.

   "This Walker is the one who told us about the Interlink Consortium," explained Szordrin, "and gave the Mistress Mother and I the idea to visit your store in the first place."

   Jayce and Solisar appeared suddenly again in the room, except that Jayce had pointed ears, nearly jet black skin, and white hair. The salesman expressed thoughts of fear.

   "Master, perhaps you should show this worker the rod fragment," suggested Solisar.

   Szordrin removed the metal fragment from a pouch on his belt and handed it to the man.

   "Yes, this is indeed similar, but it is not the same. See, here, this curve does not match the current design. I believe that this is one of our recalled models."

   "Recalled?" asked Jayce.

   "For what?" asked Szordrin.

   "It was found to be more fragile, if I recall the story. It was sold before I started working here, but I heard about it. I think they tended to explode in the presence of some other powerful energy magics. Thankfully, this only happened after the item had been on sale for a few months."

   "Exploding magic items! This does not put your company in a good light," said Szordrin. "The drow expect quality."

   "Of course, we did everything in our power to replace the items or offer refunds, provided one has a receipt, of course. We have a lifetime warranty on all magic items and portals sold through the Consortium."

   Suddenly, Jayce coughed and sounded like he was choking. However, Solisar was quite certain that he heard the disguised bard mutter a series of arcane words in Draconic.

   "Forgive me; I inhaled my pipe too deeply," said Jayce. "The mention of the rod — it is bringing back powerful emotions for me." He looked truly distraught.

   The salesman looked confused and for once did not have a smile.

   "I purchased one of these rods from Bral perhaps two years ago," said Jayce. "My lover, a powerful priestess of Lolth, who had given me my freedom as a gift of her true love for me, was captured by a demon summoned from Abyss as part of the schemes of a rival House. May Lolth curse them all and strangle them in her webs."

   While Solisar and Szordrin knew for a fact that Jayce was not a drow, they felt a powerful urge to believe every word he said. It was as if their deepest self wanted his story to be true.

   "I purchased the rod, because I was told that I could pursue the demon, whose name I discerned through blood sacrifice and divination, to its home in the Abyss. Using the rod, I did so. I found her. I freed her, and as I passionately kissed her in an oh so brief joy, the demon returned. I battled him with my magic sword of ice and would have had the day, but he struck me with a stream of fire. While I emerged unscathed, because of my powerful protective incantations, the rod shattered. The demon laughed, grabbed my mistress, and plane shifted away with her again, leaving me to wander for over a year in the Abyss before I could find a tuning rod that could get me home. Do you understand the horrors of the Abyss that I had to endure to survive? Your faulty rod nearly cost me my life and it cost me my lover!"

   "I am so terribly sorry, saer!" said the man, who even knelt down in respect. "I assure you that we will do everything in our power to make this right and give you a replacement rod that will not fail you and will allow you to track down this dreaded outsider again. However, I am a simple sales representative; you would have to speak with my manager. I am certain that he will know what to do to make this right.

   "Unfortunately, Martho is not here presently. As the Consortium is open all 24 hours of the Rock's rotation, he just ended his shift. I can tell you, however, that he always visits the same tavern after work. It is a place called the Port Hole. I can give you directions if you would like."

   "Slave, pay attention," said Szordrin to Solisar.

   "First, head port to Galley Street. Sindiath Line is on the corner. Look left, and you will see Thufer's Cobblery. Head up Galley Street toward it, but then take a right onto Whale Street. Whale Street will take you to the edge of the Rock. After you pass Cuttle Street at Wallis Tannery, you will find the tavern on the left. It does not smell nice over there, but the view is great. If you get to The Edge, you have gone too far. That is a much larger and more expensive bar but also more dangerous. I wish you the blessing of the gods of Toril... I mean, of Lolth."

   "We shall return later," said Szordrin. "Depending on how you make good my friend Walker's situation, the Mistress Mother will decide whether we do business with you in the future."
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Rock
After "jumping" from asteroid to asteroid and stopping to adjust their heading at each one, they found themselves approaching what could only be Bral. The small city looked like one of the gods had ripped it from the earth and tossed it toward the stars, as the whole city sat atop the flattened side of a small asteroid, just as Gamalon had described it. It was a full city, complete with a lake, a forested park, a palace, plantations, an arena, and a clear docks district. All of this was easily visible from a mile away.

   Below the potato-shaped asteroid were large sail-like vanes and an armored fortress, clinging upside down. Large spelljamming craft were orbiting the Rock, presumably its navy. These included a hammerhead ship, two squid ships, and one of the fish-shaped ships.

   The docks were at the leading edge of the asteroid, and that area was clearly crowded with spelljamming ships. A hammerhead-shaped vessel had arrived from a jump just before they did, so Captain Ombert had the Frihet follow behind it. The hammerhead was a bit narrower than the Frihet, but its keel length was almost twice as long. They could watch the sailors on the hammerhead's main deck adjusting the sail on its tiny mainmast, while others on the aftcastle were tugging on ropes to turn the tailfin-like rudder at the aft of the vessel. A larger catapult then the one on the Frihet rested upon a turret on the ship's aftcastle, and they spotted a second catapult and a ballista toward the fore of the ship.

   "They be more heavily armed than us," said Indo.

   It was then that someone noticed something odd about the sailors. "Those ain't humans; they have tails."

   "Lizardfolk," said Belvin. "They are harmless."

   "In Jayce's stories, they eat people," said Brad.

   "We encountered lizardfolk in Chult," said Hakam to the sailors about who were looking nervous. "They have simple minds and can easily be 'reasoned' with."

   Colored flags were run up a pole from a tower on the docks. The hammerhead ship in front of them responded with its own colors and received instructions on where to dock. Then, the lizardfolk vessel dropped down and entered the Rock's gravity field, swooping in toward one of the leftmost wooden docks that jutted out almost 100 yards into space. To the right, on the Rock's portside, they also watched an insectoid spelljammer land on a flat open landing space.

   The "harbor" tower now signaled the Frihet, asking for an identification. Ombert had his crew respond that they were traders from Lantan on Toril. The Rock responded with a location for them to land, dock #7, on the far side of the docks from where the hammerhead had been sent.

   There was a minor jolt when the Frihet entered the gravity well of the Rock, but they were oriented nearly parallel above the Rock's gravity plane, so the jerk was not severe. Jayce began lowering them down to the level of the plane in a gentle spiral, as they had seen the lizardfolk craft do. Once they reached the plane, the ship bobbed up and down and started wobbling a bit before leveling off.

   "That felt something like hitting water," said Loreene.

   Ombert called out more commands and piloted them in to the dock, almost exactly as if the ship were floating on the ocean.

   The docks extended from a flat ledge at the edge of the asteroid. There was a steep, rocky slope rising up from the edge, and many large warehouse buildings on the top of the slope overlooked them. A large cavern entrance was in front of them in the slope, where the wooden dock reached the land, and workers were heaving cargo into and out of it.

   It was clearly "daytime" on the Rock. There was no need to use artificial lighting, as the sun provided ample light and was as large in the sky as on Toril, but the sky itself was black, not blue. No stars could be seen, but Toril was there in the sky, a beautiful blue half-moon shape.

   Ropes were tossed from the crew to workers on the docks, and their ship was moored. The sailors laid out the gangplank and an official-looking human man approached. "Request permission to board," he said, with a strange accent that none of them had ever heard before.

   "Permission granted," said Ombert, who had stepped down to the main deck. His men cleared the way politely for him, so that he would not be hidden behind his much taller crew.

   The man came across the gangplank and offered no sign of surprise at seeing a halfling captain. He even knelt down in an obvious act of courtesy to speak with Ombert at his level. "Welcome to Bral. I am Urth, one of the harbormasters. Based on how your crew are glued to the railings, I'm thinkin' that this be your first time here. I'll give ye a couple quick rules. In the Low City, unless ye want to end up in the jettison, stick to the main streets and never go anywhere alone!"

   Ombert and Urth discussed things quietly for a while, before Ombert handed him some coins and he rose to depart.

   Rinald stepped forward to stop him. "Saer, before you go, can you recommend any boarding houses for my family and I?" he asked. "There are six of us."

   Urth frowned. "Er, space is tight on the Rock. I'd check at the Red House first, off Eel Street, about halfway starboard toward Hammer Street. Ask around; anyone local will know where it is. If you come to the Green Galley and Marshall's Smithy, you've gone too far. Oh, one more thing; the place looks to be falling apart on the outside, but it's actually quite cozy and well-kept on the inside. I stayed there for a few months when I first came to Bral. Owned by a nice old gnome lady it is. Has a few rooms especially for families, and, as few families come to Bral, the larger rooms are actually more likely to be available."

   Once Urth had moved on, Ombert explained matters to the crew. "It will cost us one silver piece per ton per day — so four gold pieces, since the Frihet weighs in at 40 tons — to dock here, and we will need to pay the cargo offloading fee of six silvers per day, which includes storage in the docking caverns. Finally, we are required to use the harbor's longshoremen, and they each need to be paid two silver pieces each. Harbormaster Urth here says that he will send us eight longshoremen.

   "We will have an assigned spot in the docking caverns — I suppose that is one there," he said, pointing at the large opening in the steep slope of the asteroid. "As you can see, it's a long and steep walk up that slope to the city proper. We can rent a warehouse and its lifts, which carry our goods from the caverns to the surface; we can hire porters; or we can carry the goods ourselves. (It looks to be a hundred-foot climb.) In any case, they said that it would take about four hours to offload and inspect our cargo, and I have a stack of customs paperwork to fill out, so all of you are off duty and free to explore the city until then."

   "Remember, everyone," said Solisar. "Do not go anywhere alone, and it is illegal to start any fires!"

   The sailors excitedly began exiting the ship over the gangplank unto the dock, which bounced up and down as one on water would. One of the sailors, however, a skinny youth named Tym, was terrified of crossing over the plank.

   "What's your problem, Tym?" asked Diero. "Be a man!"

   "You climb up the jibboom all the time," said another. "What's different?"

   "If I fall off the jibboom, I hit the water, and I can swim," explained Tym. "If I fall of the plank, it's emptiness; I fall forever."

   "How are you going to fall off the gangplank?" asked Diero. "It's six-feet wide!"

   "Didn't ye hear what Solisar told us?" said Martin. "The gravy plane is like water, just invisible water. What ye think the ship be floatin' on?"

   Tym wouldn't budge, however.

   "Ye can't stay on the boat, man."

   "Guttar," ordered Niff, "toss him overboard."

   Tym shrieked like a young girl as the massive sailor did not hesitate and grabbed him, lifting him off the deck with ease. "Niff! Please! No! Wait!"

   "It be for your own good," said Niff. "You'll be fine and ye'll thank me later. Can't have a fearful sailor if we want to survive wildspace. Toss him."

   Guttar stepped onto the plank and dropped Tym off one side. The other sailors cheered and laughed as the young man fell some eighteen feet, dropping past the docks and lower than the keel of the ship before he slowed and then shot right back up, launching past the docks to several feet below the gangplank. Then he fell again and shot up again — and again and again — until now he was simply bobbing gently in empty space between the hull of the ship and the dock.

   "See, that weren't so bad!" called Niff, who then immediately ordered for the other sailors to toss him a rope and help him onto the dock.

   Before they had even grabbed the rope, Kytharrah voluntarily threw himself off the boat as well. Soon several of the sailors had tried it, and a grand time was had by all.

   Before leaving the ship, Szordrin changed into the clothing of a noble, while Solisar took time to prepare a more complicated spell that would grant him the ability to detect magical auras for the whole day.

   Then, the adventurers and Rinald's family stepped onto the dock. "Come on, Syphilis," Szordrin called back to Leokas' new wolf, who was cautiously considering the gangplank over what looked to be an abyss.

   "Her name is Sif," said Leokas. He then called her to him, and she obeyed.

   "Are you absolutely sure that you do not have a sister named Sif," asked Jayce, who still could not get over the fact that Leokas' former animal companion had been his own mother in another form.

   "I am certain," said the ranger.

   They walked — or rode on camelback — out to the flat ground at the very edge of the Rock. Turning left, they began walking toward dock #6. They were passed by eight longshoremen, sent to unload the Frihet. Half of the men were human, one was a half-orc, one was a lizardman, and another looked like an intelligent gorilla in clothing.

   Dock #6 was about 200 feet from dock #7, and they passed another cavern entrance. They noticed many large orange-feathered gulls nesting above the cave.

   "Kara-Turan architecture?" said Torm, Rinald's eldest son, pointing at a massive building above them. It was a brightly colored building with columns and with a sloped, tiled, tiered roof. The whole building sat on a raised platform supported by large wooden beams. A four-story pagoda rose from its center.

   In another 300 feet, they passed dock #5 and another cavern entrance. Shortly thereafter, they found one of the winding pathways leading up the stone slope and began climbing. Midway up they looked over to the left and saw a hexagonal stone tower, about 25 feet tall, rising out of the slope. On the flat roof of the tower was the largest ballista any of them had ever seen. It looked to be within some sort of gyroscope-like contraption.

   The path was even more crowded than the docks below, as it was a bottleneck of traffic going back and forth from the city. Most of those passing them were porters carrying cargo. The porters were mostly recognizable races, but there were many exceptions. One porter looked like a reptilian centaur with a small dragon-like head. Another looked like a gnome and a frog had had a child together. They saw a one-eyed, horned giant and another giant that looked like a stone giant with hair. (Leokas was happy that no goblinoids were among the races that they observed.) Many of the humans were Shou or Wa, ethnicities found on Toril in the great eastern continent of Kara-Tur. (A few of the adventurers remembered meeting a Shou man during their first week on the Great Glacier.) It was safe to say that no one gave Kytharrah the minotaur a second look. In fact, more people were looking at Kamil strangely than they were at Kytharrah.

   The pathway had several switchbacks but eventually took them into the city itself. At the top, a wooden signpost informed them that they were on Dock Street and that Grand Street was to the left. Directly across the cobbled stone road was another building of Kara-Turan architecture. Golden eastern dragons crouched at its cornices and two foo lions sculpted from bronze guarded its massive wooden doors. Heavily armored guards with horned helmets, crossed sword sheathes on their backs, and red masks with distorted faces stood guard. To the left of the building was a colorful archway, woven with a curled dragon motif and covered with strange Kara-Turran characters in bright colors. In the Thorass script, "Shou-Town" was written in Common.

   They turned left and walked down Dock Street toward Grand Street, which was said to lead directly through the center of the city up toward the Prince's palace. At the corner, they saw one large warehouse with an infinity symbol within a sphere standing across from a large store named Hanwo Cobblery.

   Jayce laughed. "Ha ha! Bral has a Shou shoe-mender!"

   Nargroth guffawed.

   "It is not funny to mock someone's ethnicity!" Oma protested.

   "Sorry," said the half-orc.

   Among such large establishments as the cobbler's shop and the warehouse were countless peddlers trying to sell their wares, some from make-shift booths, others from within their long, many pocketed jackets. One woman with many-colored and layered skirts lined with tiny bells tried to get Nargroth to play a card game for money, but Oma shoved her away. Miri yelled out when a giant insect-like monster walked up on eight legs and offered her jewelry with one of its two exoskeleton-covered arms. "I meant not scare thee, pleasant-smelling human maiden," it said in very formal Common in a chirping voice with sharp clicks of its mandibles, before it skittered away into the crowd.

   "Will Grand Street lead to the forest we saw on our approach?" asked Belvin.

   "I believe so," said Solisar.

   They turned onto Grand Street, which was even busier than Dock Street and began walking uphill. In 200 feet, they passed a small shrine on the left that looked older than many of the other buildings around. "The All-Father deserves your worship. The All-Father is your true father," repeated an old human priest with a dark, wide-brimmed hat, a cloak of black feathers, and an obviously fake patch over his left eye."

   "It is strange for a human to worship Annam, is it not?" asked Jayce.

   "Annam? I speak of no giant god!" protested the priest. "I speak of Odin All-Father, the High One!"

   As they passed further up the road, Jayce asked, "You do know, Hakam, that Odin is your god's daddy, right?"

   "Foolish nonsense from the Northerners of Faerûn," muttered Hakam. "Any true Calishite knows that Anachtyr has always been a god in Calimshan. He is no interloper deity. The other nations confused him with Tyr Odinsson, because the names sound similar; that Anachtyr has not corrected their foolish idea does not make it true."

   Jayce smiled but did not argue further.

   After walking almost a tenth of a mile up Grand Street, they crossed Eel Street, according to a sign there. "Here is where we leave you, adventurers," said Rinald, "to search for the boarding house that the harbormaster mentioned. I shall send word to you at the Frihet if we are successful at procuring a room. Tymora smile on your search for answers about your mentor's death, Szordrin."

   Just past Eel Street, the road opened into a triangular plaza and was joined by a road named Windlass Court. Then, the road narrowed and continued upwards, though curving slightly to port, that is, to the right. They walked for two more tenths of a mile, crossing Squid and Sailmaker Streets. On one of the corners of Sailmaker Street was the "Office of the Low Magistrate". As they passed on, just outside the doors was a heated argument between a thuggish half-orc and a lizardman, with an armed human in banded mail with a halberd trying to keep them from taking swings at each other.

   "He ssstabbed me firssst!" hissed the humanoid reptile.

   "He stab me second!" yelled back the half-orc.

   They continued on and reached Trader's Way, which, a large billboard announced, was the beginning of the Great Market.

   "We are almost to the Consortium," said Szordrin, who was nearly shaking with excitement.

   "Look behind us," said Oma.

   "At what exactly?" asked Jayce.

   "The view," said Oma. They had come a good height uphill by now, and they could see the sprawl of the crowded Low City below them.

   Nargroth turned to look as well. "There is no horizon here;" he said, "we can look back and see the very edge of this world."

   "The Consortium," said Szordrin, impatiently.

   Past a small cluster of shops and other buildings on the left, the buildings ceased, revealing a massive open area, the Great Market. The plaza contained a plethora of activity and was full of several hundred persons. Entertainers were juggling, bards were singing, clerics were preaching, beggars were asking for alms, to say nothing of all the merchants selling and customers buying.

   Not the time for shopping, they continued. Very shortly, on the right, they passed Anchor Street, then a very busy store called Gaspar's Reclamations. Then finally, they came to Wasp Street.

   "Gamalon said that it was on this road," said Szordrin.

   Gamalon's directions were correct. The third building on the left was Frada's Provisioning, as the old sage had said. The very next building had a small metal sculpture outside its doors of four interlinking rings of decreasing sizes.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Wonders of Wildspace
~ 6th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, morning
wildspace


"I think that one prophecy is about the dragon in that one song that Jayce used to sing," said Brad.

   "What are you babbling about?" said Gren. "You've been trying to solve the prophecies for hours. We are flying higher than we've ever been; isn't that exciting enough for ya?"

   The main deck and castle decks were crowded with all 40 souls — including the animals — aboard the Frihet as it rose higher and higher into the sky, with the exception of Jayce, who was at the spelljamming helm in the forecastle. Many of the sailors were in the rigging for a better view. Even the sailors who were on their sleeping shift were here. Most were looking down, having never seen Toril from this perspective, a beautiful giant orb of blue, green, and brown, with white strands of clouds. About a third of the left side of the disk that they could see was covered in darkness, like a waxing or waning moon, as the sun was to the starboard side and they were pointing north.

   There were numerous conversations among other small groups of sailors, with one stating ignorance about the world not being flat and another responding that only a landlubber would think such a juvenile thing.

   "Some of the worlds are flat!" said Nargroth, interjecting into one such conversation. "The Rock of Bral, for one, is too small for an ocean, but even if it had one, you could not sail around it; it has a topside and a bottomside." The half-orc's tusks were fully visible, so large was his smile. So long had he wanted to leave Toril and see other worlds. It was finally happening.

   "He speaks the truth," confirmed Solisar, when one of the sailors challenged this. "The sailors had come to trust the sun elf as a fount of knowledge about spelljamming.

   Not everyone was enjoying the view. Rinald was trying to get a view down on the planet that he was leaving, but his wife Maegyn, who was severely afraid of heights, was clinging to him. His sons, Torm and Therion, were nearly hanging off the rail for a better view, which only made their mother more nervous.

   With the exception of Rinald's family, all of them had been high over the surface of Toril in the Frihet before, high enough to notice the planet's obvious curvature, but none of them this high. The magic of the spelljamming helm was such that elevation was gained far more quickly than forward motion while within the gravity well of a planet. They had been climbing and accelerating for more than a half hour now. The most they had ever traveled straight up in the past had been about five minutes.

   "How high are we?" asked Ombert, who was trying not to look nervous, as he stood at his position in the aftcastle.

   "I am not certain," said Solisar, who was standing by him. "Remember that this is the first that I have traveled so high either. Perhaps 3,000 miles? The elves of the Imperial Navy explained to me that Toril's gravity well was about 4,000 miles."

   "And what is that supposed to mean?" asked the halfling.

   "It is the point at which down will no longer be down," the elf replied. "We will know when it happens."

   "3,000 miles!" exclaimed Loreene, the short-haired first-mate. "How big is Toril?"

   "If we had tunneled that far through its surface," said Solisar, "we would not yet have reached its center."

   "Look at that there!" said one of the sailors named Diero. "Is that a tornado?" He pointed at a spiral cloud formation traveling over blue ocean far south of the continent of Zakhara, (which was itself south of Faerûn.)

   "It could not possibly be a tornado," said Solisar. "It is far to large for that. See, it would cover all of the Chultan Peninsula there. Perhaps it is what a hurricane looks like from wildspace."

   There was a sudden jolt, and Rinald's daughter Miri let out a scream before her husband Stedd calmed her.

   "What was that?" asked the captain.

   "It is what I told you would happen," said Solisar. "Our ship is now operating under its own gravity. Order our helmsman to roll us over."

   "What?"

   "Trust me."

   "Helm, roll us full about to starboard," called Ombert.

   A sailor, Indo, on the main deck below, relayed the order to Jayce in the forecastle.

   No one felt anything unusual — there was no feeling of vertigo or motion at all — but the disk of Toril that had been below them flipped around to be directly above them in a matter of seconds.

   "Valkur's beard!" cried out one of the crew.

   "Is spelljamming magic so powerful as to move the very worlds?" asked another.

   "It is we who have moved," said Solisar. "Toril is exactly where it always has been."

   "I get it," said Gullbeak. "We are upside-down now but stuck to the floor." He jumped up and down on the deck a few times to confirm his theory. (Kytharrah, too, joined in the "jumping game" and continued long after the gnomish sailor had stopped.) Maegan, seeing her world now above her instead of below her, lost all feelings of unease from height.

   Since most of them had been looking down at their world, only now did some of them notice the rest of wildspace.

   "Hey, the moon is below us now!" called one of the sailors.

   "Where are the stars?" asked Therion. "Do not the stars live in the Sea of Night?"

   "They are all still there," explained Solisar. "You simply cannot see them because the sun is too bright. We must be in its shadow to see stars; it must be night." He pointed up at Toril. "The shadow that we can see on our world is night for all those on Toril right now. If we were to sail to that side, I assure you that we would see many stars."

   "What now, navigator?" asked Ombert.

   "At this point, I think we can rely solely on the magic of the helm," said Solisar. "Give order for Jayce to point us at the moon. Then we should head directly toward it."

   Ombert called out a command to dip the bow of the ship down, which was relayed. Toril fell quickly astern and the moon, Selûne, was now directly ahead. It was a half moon, its left side aglow from the sun's brilliant light. To the right of the moon were the Tears, trailing behind in the same orbit. Only nine were visible as distinct objects at this distance, appearing as unblinking stars, but there were hundreds of asteroids in the Tears.

   "If we are 4,000 miles from Toril now," asked Oma, "how much farther is it to Selûne?"

   "According to the maps that I have acquired," said Solisar, "the moon is 183,000 miles from us."

   Oma gasped. "Even Jayce can only fly the Frihet at 80 or 90 miles per hour," she said.

   "We just came 4,000 miles in 40 minutes, remember. The spelljammer travels different speeds in different contexts. Now that we are free from Toril's gravity well, our speed will be far beyond that, almost unimaginably fast. I am told by my spacefaring kin that we can reach Selûne in mere minutes. Pardon me, I must speak with Jayce now."

   The black-haired elf moved down the steep steps from the aftcastle and crossed the deck to the forecastle doors. He entered the helm room where Jayce was sitting in the magical chair, head and arms pressed tightly into shaped recesses. Jayce's eyes stared straight ahead, but Solisar knew that the bard's senses were greatly enhanced, such that he could see every passenger on the deck outside and even any piece of seaweed stuck to the bottom of the keel.

   "So, my pointy-eared friend, how does this high-speed thing work?" asked Jayce.

   "Unfortunately, I am not certain," said Solisar, "Try to focus on the moon. Do not try to move us forward so much as concentrate on being there."

   "I shall see what I can do," said Jayce, who began humming a song as he tried to feel how to make the ship move forward. After a half minute or so, he spoke again. "Ah, I got it. We are moving. Nine hells, we are moving!"

   Solisar stepped back outside onto the deck and looked out. Everyone else was looking aftward. There were many audible gasps. Toril was shrinking, and quickly. It was subtle at first, but soon it was undeniable. Their bodies once again felt no feeling of motion; Toril and Selûne simply were changing shape behind and before them.

   After only a couple minutes, Toril was small enough behind them that one could cover it with his or her fists. As for the Tears of Selûne, several dozen were now visible.

   "I can't believe me that home is so many thousands of miles away," said Gren, looking back.

   "A hundred thousands," corrected Nargroth.

   "Do people live on the moon?" asked Niff, the bald halfling sailor.

   "Yes!" said Nargroth. "Are we stopping there?"

   "The citizens of the moon call it Leira, not Selûne as do we," said Solisar. "The Leirans are extremely xenophobic; the elves suggested strongly that we do not stop there unless we fall in dire need of air or other supplies. They even use magic to cover the near side of the moon so that their cities cannot be observed from Toril. The government of Leira actually demands that all ships approach from the far side, which we need to pass on to Jayce, as we are almost there."

   "What races live there?" asked Nargroth.

   "Primarily elves and humans, I am told."

   Ombert called out, "Dead stop!" and the moon and planet stopped changing size.

   Though it was well past the end of many of their shifts, most of the sailors remained above deck. A few, however, were growing anxious. "I don't like this!" said Rimardo. "It is too quiet out here, too... empty!" He went below deck.

   Solisar laid out a map across a small table behind Ombert. He glanced behind at Toril and ahead at Selûne (or Leira) and then made some measurements with some tools upon the map. Ombert looked at the map with him.

   "I believe that that largest speck of light there is Sadness, the largest of the Tears," explained Solisar. "All of the Tears are orbiting around the central Tear, called the Castle, which is not large enough to see from where we are, but here it is on this map."

   "How are we supposed to navigate to the Rock of Bral if the Tears are moving?" asked Ombert. "It would be like sailing to a floating island!"

   Like the moon's rotation, the speed of their orbits around the Castle are synchronized with their orbit around Toril," said Solisar. "You can think of them collectively as a single revolving object. Just like we only ever see one side of Selûne from our world, so Sadness is always about 100,000 miles from Selûne and 138,000 from Toril, no matter what time of the month it is."

   "Ah, I understand. So we can make this heading here," said Ombert, taking a measuring tool from Solisar's hands and curving out a path on the map. He then called out a heading for the crew to pass on to Jayce. Moments later, the moon and Toril and the Tears began orbiting around them, as if the Frihet were the center of the universe.

   "Take us forward!" commanded Ombert, and the Frihet launched ahead, meaning, from the perspective of those on board, that the tiny speck that was Sadness grew into an object the size of a fingernail in about half a minute's time.

   "Where is the Rock of Bral relative to Sadness?" asked Ombert.

   "It is here on the map," said Solisar, "about 20,000 miles from Sadness. Once we get closer to Sadness, we should be able to sight this Tear here, Dragon Rock. Sadness is about 50 miles in diameter and we can see it from here. Dragon Rock is the largest of the Outer Tears trailing behind Sadness. It is only ten miles in diameter, so I expect we will be able to see it clearly once we travel about 80 percent.... Yes, it must be that speck there, see?"

   Dragon Rock was indeed a tiny speck next to fingernail-sized Sadness.

   "Dragon Rock is a major spelljamming port," said Solisar. "From Dragon Rock, I am told that one aims first for Tear #213 and then Tear #202. Finally, one can sight the Rock of Bral from there, at a distance of 2,000 miles."

   "How many Tears are there?" asked Loreene.

   "Hundreds," said Solisar. "Most of them do not have names, and most are smaller than a mile in diameter. They are spread out over a distance of some 80,000 miles. The Rock is actually one of the smaller ones. It was originally a hiding spot for pirates. You can see how finding a one-mile-long object in an 80,000-mile area could be difficult if one did not know the way!"

   Omert adjusted their course and had Jayce head straight toward Dragon Rock. In only a minute's time, Dragon Rock was close enough for them to make out features. It continued to grow larger and larger until suddenly, it stopped growing.

   "What happened?" asked Ombert. "I gave no order to stop."

   "We are just at the edge of Dragon Rock's gravity well," said Solisar. "The spelljamming magic will not take us into a gravity well at wildspace speeds. We must be within about ten miles of it."

   "Something moving high above bow to port," called out the lookout from the crow's nest, gazing through a spyglass. "It look like a giant squid, but it has sails!"

   "Ye don't need a spyglass to see that," said Gullbeak. "There is another one right there, probably two miles away."

   "Are they pirate ships?" asked Szordrin.

   "What flags are they flying?" asked Solisar.

   "Ain't no skull and crossbones, but I don't know the colors either," called the lookout.

   "Is that a shark?" asked Martin. About a mile to starboard, traveling roughly parallel to the Frihet was a sailing vessel constructed to look roughly like a hammerhead shark. It was moving past them at a good pace but was clearly now under the power of wind created by its helm, as its sails were full.

   "Are all spelljammers made to look like marine creatures?" asked Belvin.

   "No, those crafted by our people make them like birds or butterflies," Solisar replied.

   Then he said, "Captain, we need you and the crew to 'sail' us around Dragon Rock. Keep us from getting any closer to it, though, or we will drop into its gravity well."

   Ombert began calling out orders for his crew to steer around the ten-mile wide rock floating in front of them in a clockwise manner.

   "Look! There are buildings on it," called out one of the sailors. It was true, they could see a collection of buildings at the edge of the asteroid. The other spelljamming vessels that they were seeing were all heading toward these buildings. They could count over a dozen other spelljammers now, some of which seemed to be docked close to the buildings.

   "It is a spaceport!" said Nargroth.

   "I think that there is another port there as well," said one of the other sailors.

   "The vessels are oriented the same as the plane of the bulk of the asteroid," noticed Ombert.

   "Yes," said Solisar. "We shall have to do the same when we approach the Rock of Bral. Otherwise, when the asteroid's gravity overcomes ours, what is sideways or up for us might suddenly become down! Notice how the buildings are all on the flatest side."

   The sailors especially were fascinated by the strange array of vessels that they saw. Besides the ones crafted to look like squid or hammerhead sharks, there were several vessels that appeared fish-like, with sails coming off the sides and bottom of the hull like fins and large curved, round windows made to look like eyes. Not all the ships had a nautical theme; there were also multiple vessels with an insect motif, with wings instead of sails and long, spindly legs, perhaps for landing on flat surfaces instead of ocean water. They were too far away to make out any persons on board these vessels, so they looked like giant creatures floating through the ocean of space. Only a few other vessels looked like a standard sea-sailing craft as they had.

   The Frihet sailed through the darkness around Dragon Rock. It was strange to everyone on board that it took them far, far longer to circle half way around a ten-mile-wide asteroid than it did to travel the nearly 300,000 miles from Toril to where they now were in their solar system. They passed scores of additional ports, each with more approaching and departing ships, as they circled, and were introduced to still more varieties — ships that looked like birds, like Kara-Turan dragons, like tiny asteroids carved to look like dwarven heads, like butterflies with wings made from giant leaves, and still others with no comparison to anything that they had ever seen.

   "That is an elven vessel," said Solisar, pointing to one of the leafy butterflies.

   There were suddenly gasps from many of the crew. "Good gods!" cried out Miri, Rinald's daughter. "They are beautiful."

   "I have never seen this many stars!" said Loreene. "They seem so much closer from here."

   As the Frihet passed into the shadow of Dragon Rock, eclipsing the sun, the decks of the Frihet were covered in darkness and brilliant stars became visible.

   Ombert was scanning space, trying to convince himself which of the many specks of light ahead of them was Tear #213. With all the stars, the process suddenly became more complicated, but this problem was solved by simply orbiting a bit further around Dragon Rock to bring the sun back into view. Then, by using Dragon Rock and Sadness as reference points, he and Solisar agreed that the third "star" to the left was #213, and Jayce sent them heading in that direction at spelljamming speed.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Ul'sahab, the City of Seers
The small road leading up the summit meandered up the gentle slope. While Mount Abbalayat rose exceedingly steeply to the clouds, here at its peak, it tapered off, now seeming like a small hill rising out of the cloud cover. The path was paved with ancient stonework, but was kept surprisingly well. Each and every stone bore a runic eye in design. No stone was missing, and no grass was allowed to grow between them.

   Hardy summit wildflowers grew along side the path, and beyond those were many stubby bushes. These were left to grow wild. There were no trees.

   They were approaching a small walled city with green walls. The color was from the abundance of vines covering the white stone. Even though the city was small, the thought of how one could possibly build such a place atop a mountain immediately led one to postulate magic. How else would such heavy stone be carried to the summit?

   The road ended at an archway, of distinctive Calishite architecture. Sarak stopped and motioned for them to enter. He remained outside.

   They entered through the high marble walls and found themselves within a broad domed structure. A star-shaped opening at the very top led sunlight into the otherwise shadowy area. Two men even larger than Sarak stood guard at the dome's only other exit, a gated arch that was smaller than the one that they had entered. The men stood motionless and said nothing, so the group took seats at the several marble benches around the perimeter of the dome.

   Finally, an old man entered through the gate. He was bald except for stringy long white hair at the back if his head. The old man was clearly blind but was walking around as if he could see perfectly.

   "Welcome, visitors, to the City of Seers, city of the Abbalayar. Who has invited you to our abode?"

   "Yashiera has called for us," said Belvin.

   "Yes, Yashiera," said the old man. "A strange love of beasts, but her vision is crisp. Your daughter, too, will likely have the gift."

   "I never mentioned a daughter," said Belvin.

   The old man called for Sarak, who now entered the dome. "Sarak, lead these guests to the house of yr Zahyra."

   The gates were opened again, and they were now following Sarak for a second time. It felt like they were walking through a place that time had forgotten, like ancient ruins restored but never developed further beyond their original construction. The city had a distinctively Calishite architecture. The buildings were short and largely unadorned, but it was clean, quiet, and peaceful, which gave it a special beauty. Few people were about. It had none of the hustle and bustle of every other Calishite city that they had visited. Those who were outside their homes paid little notice to the visitors and went about their chores or tasks in silence.

   "Where are the children?" Szordrin asked his companions. "There are none at all here."

   None of them had any answer, but now that he had pointed it out to them, it made the city seem less welcoming and more mysterious.

   Since the city was quite small, it did not take long to reach the house, a wide, one-story stone building with grated, arched windows and covered in vines, like the walls of the city.

   There was no actual door to Yashiera's house, just an open archway onto a small terrace. They stepped in and Sarak left them again.

   The dwelling was nearly overflowing with plants, feeling more like an indoor garden than an abode. Some of them caught motion with their eyes and spotted tiny lizards darting about and at least a trio of larger chameleons lounging on the boughs of a small acacia tree growing out of the ground at the center of the building.

   Before Belvin could call out that they had arrived, Yahsiera walked onto the terrace. While her copper hair was just as wild as when they had last encountered her, she was now clothed in a chador like a Calishite woman rather than a jungle fortune teller. She looked weak and tired but managed a half-smile. Before even speaking, she opened the folds of her garment to reveal a tiny newborn within and lifted her out to present to Belvin to see and hold.

   He took the child in his arms and gazed at the little girl with awe.

   "Beliera," he said, joining the syllables of their two names. "That shall be our child's name."

   "That is perfect," said the druidess. "Beliera she shall be."

   Beliera had dark skin, mildly pointed little ears, and a tiny tuft of black hair. Her fingers were not stubby like those of most babies but were oddly long. When Beliera blinked, Belvin noticed a second transparent eyelid cover her green eye. It would have been disturbing to most humans, but he thought nothing of it. He was too overwhelmed with new feelings.

   Yashiera spoke to the others. "I welcome all of you to the City of Seers. How did you get here so quickly?"

   "It was a long and arduous journey," said Hakam, who was still out of breath from the climb from the saddle to the Tunnel of Uladvir.

   Yahsiera closed her eyes for a brief moment and then said, "Ah, you have a flying ship."

   "Where are your miniature dinosaurs?" asked Jayce. "They were a nice touch at your old place."

   "I regret that I could not take some of the dinosaurs with me, but they were not my pets; they were guests at my home, as all animals should be."

   "Why are you even here now?" asked Hakam. "Why are you not still living in Chult?"

   "I was one of the Gifted," she replied. "We are sent out once every 20 years. The next contingent leaves in two years. It was time for me to come home."

   "The Gifted?" asked Szordrin. "Do you mean those who share your skill as a seer? The Abbalayar?"

   "No, not all Abbalayar have 'the gift', nor are all those who have the gift among 'the Gifted'. The latter are those chosen to further the line of Abbalayar."

   There was a moment of awkward silence. Kytharrah came over to Belvin — who still was lost in his thoughts — and sniffed the baby.

   Szordrin asked, "We are going to the stars for the next stage of our quest; may we seek your foresight?"

   "Now is a good time for divination," she said. "I have just fed my daughter, and she will sleep soon. Follow me, and let us sit more comfortably."

   The rest of the home had nearly as many wild-growing plants as the entryway, but this new room had many thick and round pillows scattered about. Yashiera sat cross-legged on one of them with her arms folded and asked that they use some flint on a low table to light a plethora oil lamps and incense in the room for her as she began to concentrate.

   A deck of talis cards was also upon the low table. This she took and shuffled. "Who is first?" she asked.

   Beliera began to cry a little, and Yashiera took her daughter back from Belvin and swaddled the baby in her chador.

   "I can go first," said Belvin.

   She held out the deck for him. "Draw three."

   Belvin drew the Nine of Wands, the Nine of Coins, and the High Priestess.

   "The same cards that I drew last time!" Belvin exclaimed.

   Yashiera's skin looked redder than it normally did, as she fumbled with the cards, seemingly unsure of what to say.

   "These cards are not a prophecy, but a blessing;" said the druidess. "They show that Savras is smiling upon our new child. Who is next?"

   "Me!" said Kytharrah, who had never had his fortune read before.

   Kytharrah drew the Ten of Swords, the Four of Coins, and the Ace of Coins. "Pretty!" he said.

   "Are you ten years old?" Yashiera asked?

   Kytharrah shrugged.

   "I did not recognize it at first, for I have never seen nor met a pujabbar. I did not know that you are but a child, yet now the message is clear. You like to fight also; is this true?"

   "I like to play," said Kytharrah.

   "This card represents you. This card represents the four elements. My prophecy is for all the rest of you and is thus:"
Do not overlook the youth among you.
Seek for the one among the four.

   The minotaur bemusedly grinned.

   Szordrin drew The Empress, the Knight of Coins, and the Seven of Coins.

   "As I recall," said the seer, "the last time that I read your cards, I saw into your past; this time, I see into your future. My prophecy is thus:"
Within the twelfth circle of the seventh circle,
The empress abides.

   "Do the circles have something to do with the orbit of the planets around the sun?" asked Szordrin.

   "Planets?" said Yashiera, looking more confused than they had ever seen her.

   "There are eight planets, not seven," answered Solisar. "Perhaps the prophecy refers to the twelfth moon of the seventh planet, Garden."

   Meanwhile, Yashiera handed the deck to Leokas. He drew the Queen of Coins, The High Priestess, and Death.

   "It is very unlikely that one should ever draw three face cards from the trump suit at the same time. These cards are not about you directly, however, so you need not fear their portent. My prophecy for you is thus:"
They shall meet:
The Queen of the Moon,
The High Priestess of Darkness.
Only one shall walk away.

   "This is the second time the Queen of the Moon has been in your prophecies for me," said Leokas. "Can you see who she is?"

   "In all honesty, I cannot. Sometimes I am given words; other times I see images. Your prophecies are only in words, a voice whispering to me from the Outer Planes."

   "The mummy was a high priestess," suggested Hakam, "and the Shadovar also worship a goddess of darkness. Perhaps it relates two of our adversaries somehow."

   He took the deck next and drew The Lovers, the Seven of Chalices, and Justice.

   Yashiera paused before speaking. "This future is very hard for me to read; I feel that it is tied to something in the past. The seven chalices are certainly symbolic of purity, perhaps purity of justice. Yes, it is something to do with the Seven Heavens of Celestia, but I cannot connect this to The Lovers. I am truly sorry."

   "What do The Lovers usually mean prophetically?" asked Szordrin.

   "Almost always, the card speaks of romance in someone's life. But here I cannot tell if this romance — if that is what it means at all — is in the past or the future."

   Hakam nodded and passed the deck to Solisar. The sun elf drew Temperance, the Ace of Wands, and The Magician.

   "Clearly, the magician is you," said Yashiera. "This fortune is easily interpreted, and it has alliteration to it as well." She smiled. "My prophecy for you is thus:"
There is only one chance.
The wizard is wisest
Who waits to wave his wand.

   A loud squeak announced that Ferry wanted to draw cards also. Yahsiera did not seem to find this odd at all. She shuffled and held out the deck for him. With his tiny paw, he slid off three cards in turn. They were the Eight of Coins, the Ten of Wands, and Temperance.

Yahsiera appeared to go into a kind of trance, and then the strangest sounds came from her mouth.
Chirp chirp squeak:
Squeak, chirp.
Chirp chirp, squeak chirp squeak.
Click. Click. Chirp squeak.

   Szordrin effortlessly translated this for the others. "She says, 'Patience, Sly Hunter, you will feast on eight eggs when the master possesses his tenth wand.'"

   Now Belvin insisted that cards be drawn for his camel as well. They were the Five of Wands, the Three of Chalices, and The Magician.

   Yashiera read the cards quickly and spoke, "My prophecy for your camel is thus:"
When the magician offers you five bails of hay and three jugs of water,
Know that he can be trusted.

   "Are there still cards left for the humanoids?" asked Jayce. "Or must we draw cards for Sif, Panther, Kamila, and Cloud too?" He took the deck and drew his cards, the Wheel of Fortune, the Tower, and the Ace of swords. These resulted in the following prophecy:
A single decision to leap will result in the favor of Tymora.

   "Concise," said Jayce.

   Yashiera took the deck back and set it neatly on the table. Then she folded her exceptionally long fingers as if in prayer. "Be still. I sense a prophecy coming to me for all of you as a group." She closed her eyes, and no one said anything for at least a solid minute. Then Yashiera began to speak with boldness:
I see a child. A man is looking for her, but he does not know it. Even if he knew it, he would not know where to look. She is within a suit of metal. Consider what she is. She holds the missing piece.


   Belvin remembered an incident from the beginning of their adventure together. "Leokas, do you remember when we found that little girl?"

   "The one who somehow got herself stuck in that suit of armor in the desert, when we fought that giant scorpion," said Jayce, "before we first met Sseth?"

   "Yes," said Leokas, "but what does that...?"

   Yashiera's voice interrupted him.
I see a crocodile, a chameleon, and a terrible lizard — a dinosaur — gazing into a pool in the middle of a jungle, watching intently. They do not see a dark cloud approaching from beyond them.


   "Cloud giants?" suggested Szordrin. "Is this related to Skata's scrying pool?"

   "There was that dinosaur statue in the temple with the portal to Samber," said Hakam. "Have we seen any crocodile statues?"

   Yashiera continued.
I see a sword. It glimmers. It shines. It is passed from hand to hand, from warrior to warrior. I see within the blade a set of eyes and not those of my own reflection. The eyes have learned something, knowledge that is greatly coveted.

   "Could this be Mythlos' sword?" asked Hakam. "His moonblade?"

   She spoke again.
I see a ball of glass, floating in a rainbow ocean. The ball is hollow; there is nothing inside.

   Beliera began to cry, which snapped Yashiera out of her prophetic trance. She focused on calming her child.

~~~~

   Yashiera invited them to join her for a light lunch of dates and pears, and afterward, Belvin and her spent a few moments discussing some matters alone while the others discussed their prophecies.

   Solisar spoke confidently. "I suspect the phlogiston is the rainbow ocean of her final prophecy, the 'flow' that separates the crystal spheres."

   "The crystal spheres or the planes of existance?" asked Hakam.

   "The former," Solisar replied. "The Astral might be considered that which separates the planes."

   "An empty crystal sphere then...."

   When Belvin had said goodbye to his new daughter and her mother, almost precisely then did Sarak appear again at the house to escort them out of Ul'sahab.

   As Yashiera rocked Beliera back and forth, she gave one final cryptic statement regarding her four prophetic visions for them:
Of the four visions I have seen, I can also tell you this: One of them you have seen before; one of them you have heard; and one of them you have yet to see.

   "Is there one we will smell?" Kytharrah asked.

   She replied, "The remaining vision only one of you has seen."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Mount Abbalayat
~ 4th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, Morning
Marching Mountains, Calimshan


"You played your yarting for the queen of Tethyr?" asked Gren.

   "No, no," Jayce replied, "she purchased a magical music box that plays Jimena's and my music whenever she desires it. I am told that it helps her three children fall asleep at night."

   "How much did you make from that deal?" asked Martin.

   "It is not polite to ask a musician how much money he has made from his sales," said the bard.

   Under spelljamming power drained from the young wizardess Oma, they sailed the early morning skies over the northernmost lands of Calimshan. The previous night, the Belvin had received a second message by magic bird — this time caught by Oma's magic cat, Panther. In it, Yashiera described a set of directions to follow to reach the fabled Mount Abbalayat, hidden within a cloud covered secret valley in the Marching Mountains. Despite Szordrin's disbelief that the messages were really coming from Yashiera and Hakam's suggestion that they might be flying into another trap, Belvin convinced them that the messages were really from Yashiera.

   Mythlos had remained behind in Darromar. Belvin and Leokas were at the port railing, gazing down at the Calim River below them.

   "The last time we were here, we were traveling the opposite direction down this river," said Belvin, "and Vashti was with us." He gave a knowing look toward his friend of nearly a year.

   Leokas ignored the look. "When the gnolls attacked, we thought that that hyena had killed her," said Leokas, "but that was before we learned that she did not need to breathe air. She was so fearless. I recall what she yelled as the animal charged at her: 'Come on, mutt, bring it!' Moments later, they both tumbled over the embankment."

   "I was trancing in the water that night," said Belvin. "My first image was off her falling backward into the current. I then slipped back into the water myself. I never told anyone at the time, but she never even used her jambiya. She told me that she found it easier to drown a hyena than a man."

   "Those details would have been useful to know at the time."

   Belvin shrugged. "We learned what she was eventually."

   "She would still be with us if not for Hakam," said Leokas.

   Hakam overheard his name. "I tried to arrest her for her own protection," said Hakam.

   "What?" exclaimed Belvin.

   "At least in part," said Hakam.

   Leokas pointed. "The river bends, as Yashiera described. I will notify Ombert."

   The halfling captain called out orders to his sailors and the sails were adjusted to turn the ship to a new heading, north into the mountains. From this point, Yashiera had directed them to "keep the tallest mountain ahead of" them "slightly to the left" while aiming for a saddle point. With Oma at the helm, they would be able to reach the saddle in just over a half hour.

   Snow was still on the mountains ahead of them. Oma kept the sailing vessel at an elevation of about one mile. The saddle seemed to be directly ahead at that elevation, while the tallest mountain that they could see in this region was probably a couple thousand feet taller than that. Until their highest points, the hills and mountains were covered in green trees.

   "The mountains of your homeland are beautiful," Miri, Rinald's daughter, said to Hakam. Her husband was snuggled up beside her at the starboard railing. Hakam, in contrast, stood in the middle of the deck.

   He nodded. "Many of my people summer in these hills during the hotter months," he explained.

   "For my part," said Stedd, Miri's husband, "the cooler air at this elevation is welcome, even though the spring is yet young."

   They could soon make out a second peak, about 1100 feet shorter than the tallest one and north of it Leokas pointed it out to Ombert, and the halfling captain called for a slight course correction. Oma decelerated.

   The saddle point was covered in trees, which made it difficult to find a safe place to hover, so that the party could be lowered in the rowboat to the ground, but eventually, they spotted a flat rock and were lowered safely. They instructed Oma to take the spelljammer as high into the sky as she could, to be safe from any chance encounters with raging dragons. They would contact the ship by sending stone when they were ready to be picked up.

   "Now we have to find this plinth," said Leokas to the rest of the group, which now included Belvin, Leokas, Jayce, Hakam, Szordrin, Solisar, and Kytharrah.

   "Where do we start looking for this plinth," said Jayce.

   "There is no need to search for it," said Hakam. "Anachtyr will reveal its location to me."

   This was indeed the case. After muttering a short prayer, Hakam grew convinced of what direction they should head, and they forced their way through the thick trees and underbrush, until they came upon "an ancient plinth" as the druidess's message had described. The heavy stone base supported an old vase of stone.

   "What now?" asked Szrodrin. "What did your lover say to do next?"

   "She is not my lover," said Belvin. "She is the mother of my daughter, and she said to fill it with water and go hide."

   "Go hide?" said Szordrin.

   "Game?" asked Kytharrah.

   "Yes, a hiding game," said Solisar.

   The minotaur turned to dart off.

   "The game is not started yet, Lunk," said Szordrin.

   "I do not see any tracks around, beyond those of small fauna," Leokas reported. "If anyone frequents this place, it has not been often."

   "If we need to hide," said Szordrin, "I can create an extradimensional space for us."

   "We fill it and then remain out of sight," explained Belvin. "Someone will find us. There is no need for magic."

   "Fair enough," said Szordrin. "I suppose that there is no reason not to just follow the directions that we were given exactly."

   "It is unusual to hear such words from your mouth," said Hakam, "but I agree. I shall create some water with my magic."

   That done, they headed a short distance downhill through the trees. The cover was so thick that they did not need to go very far. They sat on the ground or fallen logs and waited.

   About an hour or two later, there was no doubt that someone was approaching. Kytharrah noticed the scent first. Then, twigs snapped as a bulky man stepped shortly into view. The man looked like an albino Calishite. He was bald, but had a goatee of a strange copper color. He was dressed in a hooded jellaba and wore thick woolen gloves. He was extremely broad-shouldered, and his bare forearms were rippling with muscles.

   Kytharrah thought that there was something funny about the man's eyes and stared at him intently.

   Hakam elbowed the minotaur. "Stop staring like a fool!"

   "I am Sarak," he said in a monotone voice. "You shall follow me."

   "Lead on," said Belvin.

   Sarak turned to go. They got up and followed.

   The guide led them up a hard to follow path between the two peaks, a very strenuous climb. At this new saddle, they could see down into a hidden rock-strewn bowl about six miles across. It was much colder up here, some thousand feet higher than the lower saddle, and they could see ice in the hidden valley below. Rising out of the valley center like a knife was a solitary mountain, what could only by Mount Abbalayat. Its peak was surround by clouds, which were being driven by powerful downdrafts.

   Sarak led them away from this view and their goal, which seemed to be going backwards. He was now leading them clockwise around the peak of the tallest mountain along a precarious ledge. They were shivering from the cold, which made it even more dangerous to follow this trail, but Sarak did not appear cold or in any way unstable in his steps.

   Eventually, a cave opened up in a massive crack in a cliff on the eastern side of the peak. The albino led them inside, where they felt instant warmth away from the winds.

   Here, there were runes carved into the tall stone walls of this passage into the mountain.

   "These are Auran letters," said Solisar, "but the words are not easy for me to decipher. This must be Old Alzhedo, most likely spells of protection. There is powerful magic in this passage."

   Sarak snorted gruffly. "The Tunnel of Uladvir," he said without any further explanation.

   The "tunnel" was clearly leading them under the summit and directly through the mountain. Up ahead, they could see sunlight at the other end.

   When the cave passage ended, they stood at the start of a long and narrow bridge of marble over the valley. Looking down, they perceived that they were now far above the clouds that had earlier shrouded the mountain in the center of the valley. The other side of the bridge joined thus with Mount Abbalyat, and on the other side of the bridge, they spotted a road leading up a gentle slope to that mountain's summit. The bridge either had not been here before or was invisible from their earlier view of Mount Abbalayat from the saddle.

   They no longer felt any wind. Kytharrah had already stepped ahead of Sarak unto the narrow marble path. The minotaur had an innate sense of passageways and could smell that the bridge was not just a bridge; it was a tunnel. He pounded the walls that most of them had not yet noticed. A thick, curved glass — or glass-like — tube surrounded the marble floor of the bridge on all sides.

   "Follow," said Sarak. "Ul'sahab, the City of Seers, awaits you."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Sage Advice
Gullbeak called back from the outlook that the River Ith was approaching, and Captain Ombert began calling out orders to the sailors to bring the ship down to land in the river upstream from the city to the east.

   Oma safely lowered the spelljammer, finding it far less scary to land when in control of the vehicle herself from the spelljamming helm in the center of the ship. They picked a spot at a bend in the river, sheltered by trees, hopefully avoiding being seen by any of the farmers in the region. They did not want to scare anyone with a flying sailing vessel.

   Hakam, Solisar, and Szordrin were to accompany Mythlos to visit the palace, while Jayce intended to find the bardess Jimena, with whom he had previously recorded music magically for profit. Belvin stayed onboard in case Yashiera's reply came, and Leokas stayed with him. Kytharrah wanted to join the others, but he was forbidden, as it was not thought that minotaurs would be welcome in the human city. "I will stay with you, and we can practice some axemanship," Nargroth had said.

   "Have you heard from your grandfather or friend since we last saw them?" Jayce asked Mythlos, as they walked along the river west toward the city.

   "Faelar and Gargantos went to the Forest of Tethir," Mythlos explained.

   "I have always wanted to visit Suldanessellar," said Solisar.

   "They went to the very place. Faelar wrote that it reminded him of Moonspinner Web."

   "And you?" asked Jayce. "I hear that you were not present for their most recent adventures and their second encounter with Samber."

   "I found a mentor in the High Forest, who could teach me the ancient elven art of spellsinging," said Mythlos.

   "Do you still carry around that magical frog with you?"

   A loud croak from Mythlos' pack confirmed it.

   They reached Darromar from the southern side of the river, entering the city on the Ithal Road, which became Star Street once they passed through the gates.

   "Some of the architecture here reminds me of Calimport," said Solisar.

   "The former name of this city is Ithmong," said Hakam. "It was one of Calimshan's holdings."

   They came to the Wheel Market on their right, one of Daromar's two large marketplaces. "Asdefk's Inn is coming up on our left," said Jayce. "That's where I am meeting Jimena."

   "Is not that where we spent the night when we were last here?" asked Mythlos.

   "It is," said Jayce.

   "They had moderately good Calishite food," admitted Hakam, "for a Tethyrian establishment."

   "Very spicy," said Mythlos.

   After Jayce entered the inn, the other four crossed over the Ithal Bridge and entered the Royal Quarter, walking along the Riverside Road uphill toward Ithal Crag, the rocky hill upon which the royal palace of Faerntarn sat. Passing through the Garden of Rhinda, a beautiful flower garden, they circumnavigated the hill and presented themselves to the palace guards at the north gate, having assented the steep trail up the side of the crag.

   "We are the party of Sir Mythlos Moonspinner, Lord of Barony Nadjar," said Hakam and motioning toward Mythlos, "here on appointment to see the duchess Valmeyjar."

   One of the guards inspected Hakam's signet ring and official documents. Once cleared and confirmed as registered visitors, they passed under a barbican gate with a series of three heavy portcullises and were welcomed into the courtyard of the main keep, surrounded by its fortified, granite curtain wall. They were led by one of the young armored knights, a member of the Warriors of the Star, to one of the four halls located within the greater complex. Several other guards followed in the rear.

   They followed the lad up a set of stairs, down a hallway, and through a closed door. The young man announced the nobles within before the visitors had even stepped into the room.

   "Saers, I present to you Lady Vajra, Royal Warlady, Duchess of Ankaram and Regent Royal for Princess Cyriana; Lady Perendra, Countess of Elemetar and Court Vizera; and Lord Gamalon, Count of Spellshire and Court Sage. Ladies and Lord, I present to you Sir Mythlos Moonspinner, Lord of Barony Nadjar; his personal cleric Hakam Hamdulah Anachtyr; and two mages, Solisar Keryth and Szordrin Dundragon."

   "Northerners can never introduce someone properly," mumbled Hakam.

   They stepped within. The room was long with a high ceiling. Two large tapestries of seaside imagery hung on the long walls. A chandelier hung over a long wooden table. At the back of the room was a wooden pole with a small beam at the top upon which perched an owl.

   Around the table sat three humans, a man and two women. The man was older, with a salt and pepper beard. He had several old scars across his face and a green gem where his left eye had once been. He had dark skin and a bald head. He dressed in wizard's robes, and several Ioun stones were orbiting his head.

   One of the seated women was exceptionally tall. She rose to her feet when the adventurers entered and stood over six feet. She had dusky skin and short dark hair, except for a single long braid that hung behind her almost to the ground. While dressed in a formal gown, she also wore thick metal bands around her wrists and neck. She looked like she did not belong in such attire. Her muscular arms looked confined in the tight sleeves of her dress.

   The other woman, in contrast, looked like she was born to wear nobles' clothing, and her high-necked, long-sleeved yellow dress was clearly tailored to her form. She too had dark skin. Her hair was tightly cropped, and she had a large forehead and brown, almond-shaped eyes.

   Hakam recognized both women from Countess Kyrin Hawkwinter's wedding. The taller woman, Vajra, Duchess of Ankaram, was the lord of Mythlos' lord, Count Oxsal Keeneyes of Monteshi.

   "Yes, yes, we know who these brave adventurers are," said the Court Sage, also standing. (The second woman, Perendra, remained seated.) "They were in part responsible both for exposing the crimes of Duke Hhune and for ensuring the rescue of my grandniece Rhinda. Come in and welcome! Please, take seats at the table with us, wherever you find it comfortable."

   Szordrin sat himself closest to the Court Sage Gamalon. "I am an admirer of your writing," said Szordrin, as one of the servants in the room pushed his chair in for him.

   Gamalon chuckled. "I was not aware that I was known as an author. What, pray tell me, have you read of mine?"

   "I read of your experiences while living upon the Rock of Bral," Szordrin replied. "Perhaps we may speak more of Bral after the official business is completed."

   "I would be pleased to do so," said Gamalon.

   On the other side of the table, Vadja turned to Mythlos and asked, "Where is your bard, Jayce? I was to notify him that the queen herself listens to the magic keyboard enchanted with the J&J Duo's music."

   "Forgive me, your ladyship, but what is the J&J Duo?"

   "Jayce and Jimena, Mythlos," mumbled Hakam.

   "Yes, of course," said Mythlos. "He is, as a matter of fact, attending a meeting with Madam Jimena at this very hour."

   "He is collecting royalties for his work," said Hakam. "We could arrange a private performance at reduced cost for this present company."

   Vajra laughed, "There is little time on my busy schedule for entertainment."

   "In that case," said the cleric, "perhaps I should provide a full report on my lord's keep."

   "You may give it."

   "As I informed you by magic, the blue dragon Yrevkethend targeted a dragon slayer of renown, one Rinald Overman, whom we had once in our employ. The monster tracked him to Sir Moonspinner's keep and leveled it and the nearby village of Stonethrow."

   "We believe that the dragon Yrevkethend is affected by the Dracorage curse," explained Solisar. "Indeed, we have assisted a brass dragon companion of ours in fleeing this very plane, because he too was feeling the effects of it."

   "I also have a close relationship with a brass dragon," said Gamalon. "A noble race. His name is Alaerurrgos, and I have been a sort of tutor and protector to him after Iryklathagra slew his family in the Year of the Gauntlet. He began acting very strangely on exactly the first of the year, which aroused my suspicions. Ultimately, we had to use magic to hold the poor creature in temporal stasis.

   "We have been in contact with many of our most knowledgeable wizards," continued the old sage. "The greatest minds in Faerûn are at a loss to explain why a dracorage appears to be happening now. The only clue we have is that dracoliches, undead dragons, seem unaffected by the curse. So busy have I been investigating this rage, that my good wife Mynda effectively rules my county of Spellshire in my absence."

   "For my part," said the Lady Vajra, "we are trying to keep track of the activities of the most powerful dragons of the region. The blue wyrm whom Gamalon just mentioned, Iryklathagra, is known to be raging throughout Calimshan. Earlier in the year, she razed the Twin Towers of the Eclipse on the border of Amn, a site sacred to Bane. The loss of a dark god's temple was of course no loss to us, but the attack was very close to our northernmost territories. I suspect her eyes are now on Calimport, as she has a deep and ancient hatred for the Shoon Empire that once held power there."

   "May it never be," said Hakam quietly.

   "The first destruction that we had confirmed in Tethyr was the loss of a settlement on the Dragon Reach at the end of the first month of the year. Thankfully for us in West Faerûn, the most concentrated dragon destruction has been far north of that in the Cold Lands north of the Moonsea and bordering the Great Glacier, such as Damara, Impiltur, or Narfell."

   "The Great Glacier?" inquired Solisar. "Do you think that this rage has any connection to the ice witch, Iyraclea? My people of Evermeet have been concerned about her recent activities."

   "Have they?" said Vajra. "Perendra, has the embassy of Evermeet informed us of this?"

   The other woman shook her head, but said nothing. Indeed, she seemed rather unhappy. Szordrin whispered in Ferry's ear, and the weasel scurried off his shoulder. A few moments later, Ferry appeared on Perendra's lap. A smile appeared on her face, and she began to pet his soft coat. The owl on the stand behind her, however, stared directly at Ferry and licked its beak.

   "We will look into what we may regarding Iyraclea," said Lady Vajra. "In any case, here, far from the Glacier, our army has been under great stress for the last several years. In the Year of the Tankard, two towns of Amn defected to join Tethyr. Gamalon and I have spent much of our time in the north working with the citizens of these towns. In that same year, we lost the town of Kzelter in the south to the city-state of Mintar, which had fallen under the sway of the Church of Bane. Thus, we had to send our troops to two fronts. On top of this, an army of goblinoids, ogres, and other foul races rose up and attacked Amn near our western borders with that nation, giving us no small amount of concern. And now, dragons are raging! Thus, we have little choice but to mobilize our militias." She turned to Mythlos. "Sir Moonspinner, will you be able to lead the people of your fiefdom of Nadjar in Monteshi if called to arms?"

   Mythlos rose and bowed, "Of course, my liege. It is both my duty and an honor to defend the people of Tethyr. I can also call upon aid from my grandfather Gargantos in the Forest of Tethir. He may be able to persuade a number of elves to join us."

   "That would be a feat," said Vajra, more to herself than to anyone else. "Foxfire and Mirthal have had little success."

   "Is there any means to draw the raging dragons away from the cities, using bait of some kind?" suggested Hakam.

   "Perhaps, but none of us know clearly enough the workings of a dragon's mind when it is not raging," said Gamalon, "much less when it is sick with madness."

   "Whatever can be done to help rebuild, I repeat that I am at your service," said Mythlos.

   "I thank you, Sir Moonspinner," said Vajra. "There will be a meeting here at Faerntarn in half a tenday with all of the warlords of Tethyr to discuss a strategy for defense against the dragons. Will you be in attendance?"

   "I shall."

   "If so, then I believe our business here is done, unless you have further questions of us."

   "Do you have further news about the paladin Rhinda?" asked Hakam. "And did I correctly hear you that she is a relation of yours, Lord Gamalon?"

   "Yes," said Gamalon. "Rhinda is the granddaughter of my brother Kessel. She is recovering, though slowly, from the trauma she experienced at the hands of the gnolls. I believe that she will be fully healed in time."

   "What about her paladin companion?"

   "I know not of him or her," said Gamalon. "What name?"

   "Interestingly enough, the young man shared one of each of your names." said Hakam. "He was Gamalon Valmeyjar."

   "Mine is a common enough name," said the sage.

   "My surname, however, is not," said Vajra. "I was orphaned as a young girl during our civil war. To the best of my knowledge, I am the last of the Valmeyjars."

   "If we learn anything of him, we shall send word to you by spellmagic," said Gamalon.

   Since there were no further matters of state to discuss, Vajra excused herself from the meeting and left to attend to other matters. The Lady Perendra followed her out, with the owl now perched on her extended arm. Ferry returned to Szordrin's lap.

   Gamalon looked excited to talk about Bral. "So, you have questions about the Rock? Do you have means to travel there?"

   "We have a acquired a spelljammer, yes," said Szordrin.

   "Our divine quest is leading us there," added Hakam, "but we are not at liberty to share more details than that."

   "My first question is about the Interlink Consortium," said Szordrin. "Do you know it?"

   "The Interlink Consortium? Of course I know of it. A reputable source of portal paraphernalia for the planewalker. It is located on Wasp Street, next to Frada's Provisioning, on the port side of the Great Market in Middle City. (I should note that north and south are meaningless on the Rock! Everything is given in terms of the direction of the Rock's orbit around Toril, as if it were a massive sailing vessel. The docks and Low City are toward the leading edge. 'Starboard' is to the right if one is facing toward the docks.)

   "You should also know that they have moved their headquarters off-world. They still maintain their 'flagship' store on the Rock of Bral, but the business is run elsewhere. Prince Andru's taxes were too high for them. As a noble of Bral, the taxes are not as heavy a burden for me to maintain my own shop there. Plus, I ran a curio shop, not a factory!

   "Now, if you are, by chance, curious for curios, my shop is on the starboard side of the Great Market. I think that you may find items of interest to you there."

   "Do you know what a Galormansko's sequencer apparatus is? We know that the Consortium sells them."

   "I do not know what a sequencer apparatus is, no, but I do know the name Galormansko. He was a mage from the world of Oerth, the same world as the famous mage Mordenkainen. Both mages did a fair amount of planar travel. I once met Galormansko on the Rock, during a cross-crystal-sphere wizard's fair; he was a very old fellow, hard of hearing and almost deaf. He spent most of the time falling asleep during other wizards' speeches. I imagine that whatever a 'sequencer' is, he sold the rights to its manufacturer to the Interlink Consortium."

   "What about a wizard by the name of Onran?" asked Szordrin, mentioning the name of his former master, who had been murdered, presumably by a drow assassin. "Have you heard of that name?"

   "I have not; I am sorry."

   "May we use you as a reference?" asked Szordrin. "That is, may we claim that we know you if we run into any... trouble... on Bral."

   "Certainly," said Gamalon. "In fact, you may have my card." He handed Szordrin a small wodden card with a runic image burned into it. "That will prove to other wizards who know me that you have met me in person."

   They thanked Gamalon for his extra time. As they were getting up to leave, Mythlos, who had only this day learned of the plan to visit the Rock of Bral, asked, "How far away from Toril is the Rock of Bral?"

   "About 183,000 miles from Toril, by our scholars' best calculations," said Gamalon.

   "183,000 miles! How large is the whole crystal sphere?"

   "By most estimates," said the sage, "Realmspace is some three billion and two hundred million miles in radius. Wildspace is larger than anything you have ever imagined. If you are journeying to wildspace, prepare to have your understanding of the world changed forever."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Calishite Mores
"Give me that," said Belvin angrily, snatching back the parchment note. He seemed to be able to read the words without any magic.

   "What does it say?" asked Szordrin.

   "It is a private message and none of your business," said Belvin.

   "Belvin fathered a child with the fortune teller," said Hakam, with great displeasure on his voice.

   "Fortune teller?" said Solisar. "What fortune teller?"

   "The crazy druid in the jungle?" asked Jayce. "How? When?"

   "You found her attractive?" asked Leokas in Elvish.

   Belvin muttered something back to his friend in Elvish.

   One of the sailors slapped Belvin on the back. "Doin' it in the jungle like the wild animals!"

   "Shut your trap, Brad," said Loreene.

   "We have all been invited to Mount Abbalayat," said Belvin. "We are making a visit before we head to Bral."

   "No, we are not making any more delays," said Szordrin.

   "I have been with this group longer than you," said Belvin. "I say that we are going to Mount Abbalayat."

   "Mount Abbalayat?" said Solisar. "As in The Phoenix Prophecies?"

   Everyone stared at the gold elf with confusion, except for Hakam and Jayce.

   "Are we supposed to know what those are?" asked Szordrin.

   "Wait, some of you have not heard of The Phoenix Prophecies?" said Jayce.

   "Do phoenixes really come back to life if you burn them?" asked Gren.

   "They are a collection of famous prophecies from my homeland," said Hakam.

   "Indeed," said Solisar, "they are known and studied all over Toril. My grandmother has studied them thoroughly. In part, it was a prophecy within them about the ice queen that sent me to the far north for so many years."

   "What does any of that have to do with the fortune teller?" asked Loreene.

   "Yashiera was one of the Abbalayar," said Hakam. "I do not know how I did not see it when we met her. Of course."

   "The Abbalayar are a legendary race of seers from Calimshan," explained Jayce. "In any case, I would not mind a trip to receive another prophecy for myself; my last one expired already."

   Except for Szordrin, they all agreed that a trip to Mount Abbalayat would be worth the slight delay from visiting Bral.

   "Does anyone have a pen and ink?" Belvin asked. Solisar provided one, and Belvin wrote a short response on the back of the original notice. "I will give my answer, and Yashiera will send us directions to the mountain."

   "How do you mean to deliver the message?" asked Loreene.

   "It must be a feather token," said Hakam.

   "The feather is magical," said Szordrin. "I confirmed it."

   "Your letter had better include that you shall provide for the child," said Hakam.

   "Belvin says that they made a verbal contract that released him from such a responsibility," explained Leokas.

   "There are moral rules that carry greater weight than verbal agreements," said Hakam.

   "Since when have you cared about moral laws?" asked Szordrin.

   "Calishite traditions, then. Call them what you will. Yashiera is a Calishite, and their child is a Calishite. There are mores that need to be followed."

   Belvin held the feather up in the air. "Yashiera," he said.

   There was another "explosion" of feathers, and a tiny songbird appeared, perched on Belvin's finger. He rolled up the note and the bird happily grabbed it in its claws and took to the air, flying away to the southwest.

   "It looks like your child was born before your camel's," said Jayce, referring to the fact Belvin's camel, Kamil, had impregnated Hakam's pack camel almost a year ago.

   "How long are camel pregnancies?"

   "Very long," said Hakam.

   Ferry squeaked.

   "Ferry says that weasel pregnancies are only five weeks," said Szordrin.

   "We are going to be in Darromar," said Jayce. "We could visit Malick's old tower and set up a date for him with Neesha."

   "Ferry does not like blind dates;" said Szordrin.
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 1 , Recap , Tethyr
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