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Garlic Mushrooms and Session 23 Notes
Garlic Mushrooms

Ingredients:
4 T butter
1 T olive oil
20 mushrooms
1 t chopped thyme leaves
2 T chopped parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic minced
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
Heat the garlic and oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Fry onion until softened. Add mushrooms and cook until golden and crispy on the edges. Stir in thyme, parsley, and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Session 23 Notes
Everyone besides me went to the House of Questions to get some information out of the gnome that we had captured. He told them about the gnomes of Niemheim and some powerful ritual that was planned to happen soon. Once everyone was back at the house, we figured out what to do next. We eventually decided to go down into the cartways and try to find a red robe. With some help from Yak the kobold, we found a marketplace where we figured we might find a red robe. Tagrimm studies and Burly shops.
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Epic!
Raspberry Crisp and Session 22 Notes
Raspberry Crisp

Ingredients:
4 C raspberries
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C and 3 T flour
3/4 C oats
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C butter

Instructions:
Toss raspberries with sugar and 3 tablespoons flour in a large bowl, put in greased baking dish. Mix oats, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup flour in another bowl. Cut in cubed butter. Sprinkle over berries. Bake until golden brown.

Session 22 Notes
After getting into our new home, we had a party with the Heavy Rocks. Afterwards, a gearforged named Speed came to our house and led us to the Puffing Bridge, where we fought some clockworks and captured a person throwing firebombs. Scotti and Tagrimm took out a gnome that had been trying to blow up part of the town. Scotti is just in time and Speed is ahead of time.
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — The Gem Mine
~ eighth-day, 32nd of the sixth season, growing threequarterlight
Athanar Military Mining Facility 15


A few hours before the daily siesta, an eagle ship dropped off the adventurers underneath one of the islands in the same jet stream as Athanar. They stood on a wide stone ledge. It was circular and encompassed an area with a 40-yard diameter. In the caverns and mines that they were used to on Toril, they would have been looking down into the dark depths of the ground, but here, they looked down on white sky, clouds, and green floating islands.

   This was Athanar Military Mining Facility Doht, or Tee-doh, that is 1-5, which meant that it was the thirteenth mining facility, since the aarakocra had a base-eight counting system, as they all well knew by now.

   Jayce, Oma, and Nargroth were joining them this time. Nargroth was not needed on the Frihet, since the ship and everyone on it was forbidden to go anywhere else. (Belvin regrettably also left Kamil behind, since a camel would not fit in the mine tunnels.) Nargroth and Jayce both seemed excited to partake in the more adventurous side of things for once. "I have not swung axes with you in a long while," said Nargroth.

   The eagle ship dropped into the sky and departed. The aarakocra would return after the day's rest to pick them up again, so they had many hours to solve the problem, whatever it was. This left ten humanoids, a wolf, a weasel, and a cat standing at the southern end of the circular ledge.

   The planet's ambient light allowed them to see the entire area clearly. (Being on the underside of the island did not in any way mean that they had less light than they would have had on the topside of the island.) Near where they all stood, there were wooden racks and metal clips for holding minding tools, but no such tools currently hung here. The walls showed evidence of picks and pockmarks where gems had presumably been extracted. There was no sign of any gems or ore at all along the circular wall, but at the west, north, and east sides, tunnels had been dug deeper into the underside of the island.

   It had been explained to them by the military's lead miner that after strip-mining an "inverted pit" such as where they were to be dropped off, they usually tunneled into the island to search for less accessible gems and ore. In this case, breaking through to the north and east had led to no significant supply of gems, but breaking through the the west had led to natural tunnels leading deeper into the island. These natural tunnels brought the aarakocra to a rift and a large collection of gems and "geminals". These latter creatures seemed to have come from a tiny crack in the stone on the other side of the rift. The aarakocra opened a tunnel in that direction to continue exploring. Before they were able to start on strip mining the area of the rift, they called off all work on the mine when those few miners sent to explore through the newly opened tunnel never returned.

   "Before we go anywhere," said Belvin to his companions, as they began to walk carefully along the eight-foot-wide ledge toward the western digging site, "give me a moment to commune with the mine."

   "Commune with the mine?" repeated Sofi.

   "He is going to become one with nature," said Jayce. "It is a druid thing, and like most druid things, it is probably going to take a while." The bard sat down on the stone and began to strum quietly on his yarting. The others sat or rested as well, as Belvin chanted under his breath for a solid ten minutes, his eyes closed, while passing his hands over the floor and wall of the strip mine.

   "There are more burrowing creatures living in this mine than just the crysmals," said Belvin. "I see them, a dozen or two, scorpion-like, chipping away at the gems, eating, gathering what they need to reproduce. But there are two other burrowing creatures, four-legged, very large, metallic creatures, covered in spikes."

   "This reminds me of beasts companions of mine once described," said Leokas. "Before Belvin and I joined up, I had taken many short jobs with other adventuring groups, helping them to track various goblinoid villains. One such party had described to me an aberrant monster made of solid metal and covered in spikes in a dungeon that they had explored. They called the thing a 'marauder'."

   "Belvin," said Hakam, "can the mine tell you where any rifts are?"

   "The only rifts are here where we stand and approximately southeast of here by no more than 100 feet."

   "If that is true," said Hakam, "Then the tunnel that they dug into to the west must have curved back around."

   "Nature does not lie," said Belvin, his eyes still closed and his hands still rubbing against the surface of the stone."

   "Can the mine tell you the location of the missing miners?" one of them asked the druid.

   Belvin shook his head. "The mine knows of no aarakocra within its confines at all." The wild elf's eyes opened. The divination's revelations had ended with this third fact.

   "They were likely consumed by these marauders," said the others.

   Those who had been sitting rose to their feet again stood up. They had Kytharrah lead the way, followed by Belvin, who directed him. Leokas, superstitiously refusing to go second in a line, came third with his wolf beside him. Next were Jayce and Oma, leading the three wizards in the middle. Sofi followed close behind Szordrin, and the group ended with Hakam and Nargroth.

   Hakam reminded everyone that no one was to remove a single gem from the mine. Sofi joked with Hakam that she would keep an eye on Szordrin, but the tiefling wizard made himself invisible. Solisar, however, could still see Szordrin by the power of his countermagic.

   They moved through the western dig site, passing some fifteen feet or so into a natural tunnel that seemed to pass from north to south. They instructed Kytharrah to make a left, and he did so, sniffing the air as he went. It felt familiar to the minotaur to be in underground tunnels again, and he happily moved forward, lighting the tunnel ahead with his magical torch.

   Thinking that he smelled aarakocra ahead, he bounded forward to a spot several yards ahead where the tunnel widened and a large stalagmite grew from the floor of the passage. He found the source of the smell, a small pit that the aarakocra miners had apparently used in the past as a waste hole.

   "Good work, Kytharrah," said Belvin. "You found a bird toilet."

   The tunnel beyond curved slightly to the left, was split by a stone column, made an ess-curve, and opened into a large chamber about 50 feet or so square. The chamber had a couple large pillars and stalagmites and stalactites. A pocket extended from a corner in the northeast and had tunnels continuing on from the eastern side and the southwest corner. In a pocket in the western wall were some large purple crystals jutting out from the walls.

   The group spread out a bit in this room, but most of them were interested in the first of the mine's gems that they had seen. Hakam raised his glowing shield for light. Szordrin examined them closely, though no one except Solisar could seem him do so. "This is corundum," they heard Szordrin's voice say. "I think that this was a geode that they cut into. There are pick marks here."

   Corundum was the stuff of rubies and sapphires. The aarakocra had access to immense wealth; no wonder the Donakkises had so much power.

   Leokas began to exam the area for tracks. "The avian tracks heading southwest are fresher than those heading east from here."

   Kytharrah, however, had already wandered further east and entered that tunnel, and Nargroth followed behind to keep an eye on him. They squeezed by another stone pillar and found the natural passage turn sharply left. Fifty feet farther, was a pillar made from a stalagmite and a stalactite just barely coming together to meet. The tunnel came to a dead end here, and they saw another cluster of corundum crystals, surrounded by purple gem fragments.

   After the two scouts joined the others, they returned to their earlier marching order and continued deeper into the mine. In 40 feet, they entered a small 30-foot chamber with a low ceiling and a squat column. It looked like a dead end at first, but there was a spot by the eastern wall that dropped steeply to a lower passage.

   "There seems to be natural light ahead," one of them noted after descending down the drop.

   "Fresh," said Kytharrah, after sniffing the air.

   "The other rift in the mine must be just beyond," said Hakam.

   In 20 yards, they came to another cave room with corundum crystals and an hourglass shaped pillar. Here, Leokas found more aarakocra prints but also another kind of mark. "These here look similar to pick marks, but they are in the floor and they come in pairs and triplets. I suspect that it is the crystalline scorpions. They are clustered near the two corundum deposits and they come from farther east, where the light is." Kytharrah smelled both tracks. The first smelled like the talking birds, and the other tracks did not have any smell.

   Hakam's prediction had been correct. The tunnel beyond this room curved and descended, and Kytharrah and Belvin stepped unto a wide and long ledge overlooking a vast gap over the sky. The bright ambient light from below filled the area. The ledge was some 20 to 30 feet wide, and the distance to the other side was at least 90 feet. There were many clusters of purple crystals growing here and there on both sides of the rift. Most of these were at most a foot or two in length, but stretching forth from each side of the opening in the ground were the two largest crystals that Kytharrah had ever seen, even having lived in the Underdark for the most of his decade-long life. Each gargantuan corundum was nearly ten feet wide at its base and grew at a low angle to almost 70 feet!

   Something skittered into Kytharrah's peripheral vision. It was a dozen yards away and looked like a big bug, about the size of a dog, but its body seemed to be made entirely out of purple crystal, similar in color to all the crystals growing from the rock around them. It was definitely looking at Kytharrah with a series of smaller blue crystals on its cephalothorax that seemed like its eyes.

   The minotaur tried to appear friendly and playful. As if in response, a large rock, about four feet in diameter, suddenly rolled on its own from Kytharrah's right side and came to rest in front of him.

   "Careful, Kytharrah," said Belvin. "Remember, they are telekinetic."

   Kytharrah did not have any idea what Belvin meant, but he remembered the talking rock that had made big rocks roll at him when they were trying to climb up to that castle in the ice. Those rocks had played very roughly, because Hakam had squished one. The minotaur readied himself in case this rolling rock tried to jump up at him.

   The others cautiously stepped down the sloping tunnel out onto the giant ledge and gathered behind Kytharrah and around a massive column that stretched up to the ceiling 40 feet above. They began to notice other crystalline scorpions emerge from behind crystal clusters or around stalagmites on both sides of the rift. The crysmals kept their distance and seemed to be watching to see what these new intruders would do.

   Szordrin, now visible again, since the duration of his spell had ended, took a small clay ziggurat from his spell pouch along with a piece of copper wire. He performed the final components of two spells and then held the wire up to his lips. The others heard him speaking a guttural, gritty language. The wire vibrated with his voice. No one heard any response from the crysmals, but Szordrin continued speaking into the wire as if he were carrying on a conversation with someone distant.

   In fact, Szordrin heard a voice, or rather voices, very alien voices, inside his head, and the magic of his tongues spell interpreted for him. He had asked the purple gem creatures if they had seen any aarakocra.

   "What are aarakocra?" the voices asked, together, speaking almost as one.

   "Have you seen any birds?"

   "What are birds?" they asked.

   "Have you seen any red-colored creatures," he tried, "not made out of mineral, like all of you?"

   "The big soft creatures that fly went away," said the collective voices in his head.

   "When did they leave?"

   "They left."

   "When?"

   "Before."

   "Where did they go?"

   "Away."

   This was not a particularly useful conversation. Szordrin tried a different line of questioning. "Did the red soft creatures go over this rift, this opening to the sky, to the other side from where I am standing?"

   "Yes."

   "Where did they go after that?"

   "We do not know. We stay away. We cannot go back that way anymore."

   This was a surprising amount of information. "Why can you not go back?"

   "Big rock monsters eat us."

   "Monsters made out of metal?"

   "No, out of earth."

   The crysmals seemed to know the difference between earth and metal but did not know what birds were. He supposed that that made sense for a creature from the Plane of Earth.

   "How big are these rock monsters?"

   "They are as tall as two of you," said the voices.

   "What do they look like?"

   "Tall and pointy."

   "Ask them if they grow from the ground or hang from the ceiling," said Solisar, who presumed that Szordrin's speaking in Terran was only one side of a conversation.

   They answered that it was from the ground, and Szordrin translated this.

   "We need to pay attention to the stalagmites then," said Hakam.

   "Will you let us pass?" asked the tiefling wizard. "We need to find the red soft creatures."

   "No, we do not trust you," said the voices. "We trust the red soft creatures."

   "Why do you trust them and not us? We are their friends."

   "They give us tasty gems," said the collective.

   Szordrin looked in his belt pouch for the cheapest gemstone that he could find. "This is a very rare and expensive gem," he lied, taking out a small piece of turquoise. "It is of the highest quality."

   "What is 'expensive'?" they asked. "What does it taste like? Let us taste it?"

   The stone leapt from Szordrin's fingers and bounced and rolled along the ground, past Kytharrah and to the nearest crysmal. It touched one of its sharp pointed appendages to the small bluish gem.

   "Copper is delicious," said the voices. "This is good food. You may pass."
Session: 117th Game Session - Tuesday, Aug 04 2020 from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — The Eagle has landed
~ seventh-day, 31st of the sixth season, shrinking quarterlight
an unknown island in Coliar


Kytharrah spotted it first. Gliding down at them out of the sky was an enormous bird. At first, he thought that it was a roc, like those fun giant birds that they had flown from the storm giants' mountain, but the elves corrected him. Its wings were too rigid and angular. It was probably a spelljammer made to appear like a giant eagle. As it drew closer, they saw that it was some 50 yards long with a wingspan of more than double that. Its beak was carved out of wood and its eyes were of green glass, but most of its body was covered in reddish feathers or cloth. There appeared to be a stone wall on its back, surrounding an upper deck.

   They stood on the edge of the island at shrinking quarterlight. After Sofi's story, Hakam had been taken quite aback by the gravity of Sofi's sin. At the same time, he was equally impressed with the efforts that she had taken to find redemption. It was hard to argue the fact that she was visited by a celestial and given an ordained path to follow.
   "Speaking of difficult stories," Sofi had said, "you also failed to tell us about your nightmare, Szordrin, as you had said that you would."

   "In my dream, I saw my former mistress kill by best friend, Welphrin," Szordrin had asnwered.

   "This was before your time with Onran?" asked Hamam.

   "Yes," said Szordrin. "It was a series of nightmares really, all blended together. We were in the Underdark, running from a lizard. He fell behind, and I went back for him. The dream morphed into my drow mistress' bedroom, where she was beating Welphrin to death. Then, there was a scene with the scavver who had almost killed me. Onran appeared to rescue me, but he transformed into a rakshasa. It was simply a mix of traumatic events in my life, nothing more."

   "It is horrible that you lost a childhood friend when you were so young," Sofi had said, and Kytharrah had patted him on the shoulder. "Play?"

   At the present time, a number of aarakocra carrying palanquins emerged from the eagle-shaped spelljammers back. These flew to the island edge, lowering the litters to the ground. Jayce was on one of them, glasses on and smoking a pipe.

   "Where is Oma?" asked Hakam.

   "She is on the eagle ship," said Jayce. "Oh, whom do I have the pleasure of meeting." Jayce had spotted Sofi. He drew his pipe from between his lips with his left hand, bowed, and asked for her hand. She offered it, and he kissed it.

   "I am Jayce, humble bard from the exotic land of Lantan, and you are?"

   "You may call me Sofi." She was blushing.

   "Jayce, what is going on?" asked Szordrin. "Why do they think that we stole gems?"

   "Wait till we get on the ship?" muttered Jayce under his breath. He then spoke to the armed aarakocra who perched on the ground impatiently. "They are all here; let everyone buckle in on a litter."

   The eagle ship was unique from other designs that they had seen. First, it had no sails. Perhaps the wings of the vessel captured the arcane winds created by the spelljamming helm instead. Second, there was primarily a single deck. The exception to this was the circular upper deck of wood, surrounded by the stone wall. Upon this was set a catapult on a turret at the center and a ballista each on port and starboard sides. The rest of the "back" of the eagle was an open bowl. Perhaps "nest" would be a better term. It was deep, and the floor extended underneath the battle deck into the eagle's "head" where they could see the spelljamming helm with a priest sitting upon it and the officers by the green, glass "eyes". The rim of the bowl had a narrow railing and a glass wall. Here, the aarakocra with their talons could perch. There were no other floors.

   They were set down into the bowl. As the aarakocra worked to store away the palanquins and prepare for the ascent into orbit, Jayce made small talk. "Ombert learned that Anadia has plants from which smokepowder can be made, so they did not want the Lantanese smokepowder."

   "Smokepowder is made from plants?" one of them asked.

   "Apparently, these halflings know a technique to, yes. That means that we made no money from our short jaunt back to Lantan. Oma told you about that, right?"

   "I did," said Oma, who walked from the bridge to the back of the vessel to greet them.

   After the two women introduced themselves, Jayce continued. "However, Ombert also made a purchase of a plant called crispyleaf by the hin. It is a gastric painkiller and a weight-loss food. Gods know that most halflings need to lose a little weight." He glanced at Sofi. She laughed. Oma scowled.

   "So, we have gone from arms dealers to drug traders," muttered Hakam.

   By now, four of the aarakocra had gone over toward the bow, two on each side, to stand by a set of giant levers that looked something like oars. The passengers stood towards the stern, near two slingshot-like contraptions, which were aimed toward two closed wooden hatches.

   "It is a fascinating class of spelljammer," said Jayce. "The oars there control flaps on the wings, which they use to turn, just like our sailors adjust the sails to turn. Now, Szordrin, translate what I say to the elves in their language." Mid-thought, it seemed, Jayce switched from Common to Alzhedo. Contrary to his nonchalant behavior, he had been paying close attention to when the aarakocra marines and sailors had ceased paying close attention to them. "And, Hakam, forgive my poor pronunciation of your native tongue; I put up with your silly sing-song Common accent and keep my mouth shut."

   Jayce's accent did sound atrocious to Hakam, but it was a good plan. Hakam and Szordrin could speak Alzhedo, and Szordrin could also speak Elvish. Only Kytharrah and Sofi would be left in the dark.

   They felt nothing, but they could tell from looking up at the sky that the eagle ship was rapidly climbing toward the upper clouds.

   "So, here is the problem," Jayce explained, and Szordrin translated into Elven. "In short, someone planted stolen aarakocra gems on the Frihet, supporting President Donakkis' claims that off-worlders are untrustworthy brigands.

   "The military claimed that a large number of gems were missing from their stores, and they interrogated everyone who talked to us. They found out that we had gone to Hisssta, so they sent an eagle ship and a small flock of military corbinas to watch the port for leaving or returning human vessels. They spotted the Frihet when we were returning to Hisssta to collect our gliders — the ones that we commissioned, I mean — and to wait for you all to return from your exploration. How did that go by the way? Was the cute, horned woman the one who ordered the rod?"

   Oma sighed loudly.

   "It went well," said Hakam, "and no, Sofi has no connection to the rod whatsoever. We can explain all of what we learned later. Go on."

   "Right, so, back to my story. They demanded that we be boarded, and they had us bring up our cargo. The gems that we were paid by the military were not the issue at all. They agreed that that was payment for the smokepowder and they acknowledged the receipts that you left with Ombert. However, they searched our food stores and found an even greater sum of gems hidden among the food."

   "When did they manage to plant the gems?" asked Leokas, after Szordrin had translated.

   "It must have been when they came to inspect our cargo on the very first day that we arrived," said Solisar. "That was the only time that the cargo ever came off our ship, and no one ever came onboard."

   "Exactly," said Jayce. "In any case, they told us that we were all under arrest, and we were escorted back to Athanar surrounded by corbinas. I demanded to know my rights and was basically told that, as a foreigner, I did not have any. We were to stay on our ship, on guard, in Athanar port, until our trial, with no indication of when the trial would even be.

   "With the help of a little bardic magic, I was able to convince one of the aarakocra guarding us, one who seemed least likely to support Donakkis directly, to spread rumors about the city that foreigners were being treated unfairly. Sure enough, that night, we received a visitor, a lawyer, who claimed to specialize in representing foreigners in legal affairs. You will never guess her name."

   "Postmaster Spiraldive," suggested one. "Or Asharra Chickchee," said another.

   "Yes, it was Asharra Chickchee! My plan worked better even than I had hoped. But Spiraldive was not far off as a guess, for Chickchee had heard about our situation both from the rumors and from an anonymous tip from someone at the postal service. Chickchee explained that, as foreigners, we did not have many rights, what I already knew. But she also explained that there is a little-known law that allows foreigners to volunteer for the military. Those who serve honorably can receive automatic visitor certificates, pending proper paperwork of course, but if the people demand it, paperwork can find itself completed more quickly. A visitor certificate does afford rights, including the right to freedom from incarceration until trial upon payment of bail, the right to a defense lawyer, and other such things."

   "I am not going to fight in their war," said Leokas.

   "I am of course willing to argue our case," said Hakam.

   "Of course, but we will not ever even have a trial at all unless we first earn our rights. However, apparently, there is a military gem mine that has had some recent 'troubles'. The mining operations had to be halted because, when they tunneled into a new chamber, several aarakocra went missing, presumed to be dead.

   "The only other clue was the presence of a larger population of geminals than normal, strange creatures that seem made out of gems. It is not entirely unheard of to find such creatures within the mines, and they are usually harmless if you do not threaten them, but this particular mine seemed to have an especially large population of them before the incident of missing miners occurred."

   "I wonder if these geminals are the same creatures as crysmals," said Solisar. "If so, they are telekinetic, dog-sized, scorpion-like, crystalline elementals.

   Jayce shrugged. "Whatever they are, they are not likely the direct cause of the miners' disappearance.

   "Now, Asharra was not as spunky as Postmaster Spiraldive; she was all business. Our helping clear the mine would be hugely beneficial to her campaign, and she made no attempt to hide that fact, but she said that she could move the 'legal gears' that would make clearing a military gem-mining facility of dangerous monsters, whatever they may be, count as 'honorable volunteer military service', thus granting us the right to post bail and even leave the planet until our trial. And she assured me that she would be investigating as hard as she could to prove the set-up in the meantime, so that the charges might be dropped before it even came to that.

   "I already agreed to this, and since we now are in service to the military, I suggested that they use an eagle ship to come pick you up, so that we could do our duty to Athanar all the sooner. Because, I do not know about you, but I am itching to get off this steam bath of a planet.

   "So, what do you say?"

   Hakam was not at all happy with this turn of events, but as Jayce had already agreed to it, there was little more that could legally be done.
Session: 117th Game Session - Tuesday, Aug 04 2020 from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM
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Tags: Chapter 2 , Coliar , Recap
The Next Three Dawns
It was over, and somehow we had won. We withdrew to rest, and Cabhan and I pulled away from the larger group to check on each other. It seemed we were both more worried for the other - he knowing that the fight would have stirred up difficult memories, I scared that he might hold an emotional wound he would be reluctant to share. He was horrified at the loss of control over his own body and actions, and angry at his ancestor’s choice to make his legacy one of horror and aggrandizement.

I tried to explain my feelings, how while I was scared - in my nightmares, the other Cabhan never wore an expression other than profane joy at what he was about to do. The real one, in real life - I could see in his eyes that he was as scared as me. I told him that I trusted him not to hurt me, to which he replied that Blackbyrne had made him target me because he knew that it would hurt Cabhan.

His words just strengthened my resolve, and I had a plan for the morning.

-----

As red began to streak across the sky I warned MacKenzie’s men that I would be summoning a fearsome person, and gave them the chance to move back. That done, I activated my ring, now glowing mostly red, and summoned Amyri.

Perhaps she saw the anger in my eyes when I asked her to destroy what was left of the ruins. Or maybe it was my tone when I said “If it were turned to glass and nothing could ever grow here again, that would be the start of what I could want.” But if it was either or both or neither, she agreed and went to work. Sheets of fire fell over the ruins, cracking the very stone, causing the sea itself to boil. And after a quarter of a candlemark or so, she drove her sword down into the promontory sending at least half of it sliding into the water.

Liam MacKenzie offered us the use of his camp, and perhaps a boat to travel back. The rest of the day was spent debating our next actions. Generally, we agreed that we should seek the Gyre and the answer Padhraig was supposed to find there. The largest question was how we were to rejoin the Fenstalker. But there was also the question of what the MacKenzie would do with Cabhan - as the heir of Blackbyrne his life was theoretically forfeit - not that any of us would stand idly by if someone were to try to claim that. Still, the truth of it was in the world now, and we had to at least address the formality.

We sent off missives and waited for our answers, and took some time to catch our breath.

The ‘Stalker had (with all but impossible speed) already crossed the breakwater for Tiranin, and Alice formally requested a consultation before we continued our journey. It seemed we had our answers for where we would reclaim our ship. It would take until the next day, but Kaela would be able to take us all there using her Powers.

That evening I drew Cabhan away from the camp, into the quiet night. I had been rehearsing a speech to myself most of the afternoon, and the words tumbled out in a rush. I told him that I had been scared, in the ruins, scared of losing him. I was scared of losing the dreams we had together, of the future we had talked about. I was scared of the warnings that we had been given, again and again, that what was coming would leave us all forever changed. I told him I wanted to claim what happiness I could, while I could.

And at the end of my speech, I asked him to be my husband, and stand with me in front of the Gods to proclaim our bond.

He was surprised, but not unhappy at the prospect, and we talked late into the night about what our hopes and expectations would be for such a step. We knew we neither of us had the best examples in our upbringing for what a marriage should look like, but together we would negotiate the waters.

Together. My heart was warmer, knowing he would be by my side.

-----

Tired, but ready to get back to the city, we gathered ourselves to be transported by Kaela. In mere moments we were all in the stables of The Three Swords, ready to go from there to our interview with The MacKenzie.

We were ushered in after given a few moments to refresh ourselves, and Alice greeted us warmly. Arlan, she said, was flourishing. But there was not much time for pleasantries before we got into a serious discussion.

They told us of many strange happenings. Red Dragons had saved a distant settlement from an attack of the walking dead. There was a sickness running rampant through Seaside. The dead continued to rise, and the earth itself shook and cracked.

Alice’s mother had looked for help from Elvenholme, and was told that they would not dare send aid without the blessing and the warding of the Blood Oak. Without much hesitation Ser Jarrad agreed to take on the burden of talking to his people about such a thing.

There was a brief moment where we seemed unable to find the next topic of discussion, and I took my chance to force the discussion of what would be done with Cabhan. But The MacKenzie cut straight to the heart of the matter, asking Cabhan if he intended to take on the title. At his denial, the Chief seemed to consider the matter closed and was happy to consider the Blackbyrnes dead.

Alice told us that she had received some ill portents recently - three things in particular. “Cherish the next time you see your friends for you shall see them no more than two handfuls of times,” “Beware the Devouring Sea,” and “Soon Darkness will break the bands of blood.” All of it ominous, and again the discussion stilled.

After a long quiet moment, I cleared my throat.

“With an eye to the portents of darkness, Cabhan and I have decided that - before we leave Tiranin - that we are going to get married.”

The others looked surprised, but no one (including our present Royal) objected, so that hurdle seemed passed.

We had a staggering array of tasks ahead of us, though, if we were hoping to be wed before we left the city and so we excused ourselves.

The temple of the Shining Lady was all too happy to receive us, especially after learning we were Those friends of Magret. More importantly, they were happy to perform our ceremony the next morning.

Rings and clothing were even simpler to obtain, which left just two things on our to-do list as the afternoon began to turn to early evening.

My parents’ home was draped, almost ostentatiously, in mourning. My Lady Mother greeted us first, offering me her hands. She had lost much of her accustomed luster, and the stark black of her mourning dress made her look even paler than usual. A few minutes later Father joined us, sober and with either more grey hair or less effort to conceal it. He was surprised to see me, and did not bother (or lacked the energy) to hide it.

“I’m happy to see you.” he said, stiffly. He did not seem to know how to proceed from there, and I took pity on him, held my hands out to clasp his briefly, restarting the moves of the social dance we all knew in our souls.

But we were there for a reason, and I would not draw it out. “Lady Mother, Lord Father, I won’t belabor the point. Cabhan and I have decided that we will be wed tomorrow at dawn, and we would like you to be there.”

Mother looked shocked at the first part, Father at the second. For a moment it looked like she wanted to say something, but at his hand on her shoulder she - not quite deflated, but it diffused her unspoken argument. “Well that’s wonderful.” She said, trying to sound sincere.

Father expanded on her point “Thank you for telling us - and thank you for including us.”

“I couldn’t see marrying in the city where my parents were and not telling you.” He looked as if he absolutely would believe that I could, but simply responded “The Temple of the Shining Lady I assume? We will be there.”

They looked as if they might want to say something more, but they looked at Cabhan (who stood, even if he didn’t realize it, guarding my off-hand) and whatever they saw there quieted them. He did not give them the chance to regain their tongues as he took my hand, made his apologies that we had other errands to run, and walked out with me. Outside he said “My apologies for speaking ill of them, but I think the less time you spend with them, the better.”

It was time for the last task on our list, and the one I was looking forward to the most. We made our way back to the keep, and found my brother to tell him the news. He was exceptionally excited for us, and happier still that Alice had arranged for him to be able to go to the ceremony himself.

-----

In the wee hours of the morning, all of us, and indeed all of the land had distressing dreams of a vast dark presence reading shields throughout the realms. As it broke them, it released a growing howl of frustration until we finally woke.

-----

It was supposed to be a High Day, but it was instead a Fool’s Day. Privately, I thought it was both funny and appropriate, and I felt honored that my wedding day should be so blessed by the God I followed more than any other. Cabhan and I made our way through the pre-dawn streets to the temple. The others arrived not long after, and the High Priestess began. She spoke of building our family, of propping up each other’s weaknesses, and of acknowledging each other’s strengths. As she spoke the light grew, shining and golden, and as she proclaimed the Blessing of the Shining Lady on us, our bond, and all who witnessed it the temple fairly glowed.

I looked at my husband with joy, and together we left the temple.
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Epic!