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Chapter 3 — Kuei
With a sudden snap of the wrist, the fan unfolded, and the apparition swung the edge of the fan at Leokas. Leokas' superb reflexes spared him any harm, as he bent back at the waist. The sharp edge of the war fan swished by, just missing his neck.

   Leokas sprung back while nocking an arrow. He knew that the arrows from his magical bow at least had a chance of striking a manifested ethereal being, so he drew back and loosed an arrow. The arrow stuck into her sternum and faded into etherealness itself. He loosed a second arrow, but she began drifting swiftly side-to-side. He missed a third shot, but the fourth was perfectly timed to hit her. However, it passed through her form harmlessly and struck the embassy wall.

   Behind him, Sif growled. "Stay!" her master commanded.

   The ghost threw her damaged neck back and began to wail, a gurgling moan. Belvin felt himself panic. He turned and stumbled over the weeds into the darkness and let out a scream of fear.

   The spirit ascended high into the air, her kimono billowing in a nonexistent breeze.

   Leokas stepped farther back toward the middle of the courtyard and continued firing arrows up at the floating undead woman. He stumbled on a root, and the first arrow went wide. The second arrow shot straight through her. The third missed, but the fourth struck her in the gut.

   Her mouth opened in a silent gesture of pain, and she dove down out of the air toward Leokas. Her incorporeal palm touched the elf's forehead. He felt a chill touch and a sense of dizziness, while the ghost straightened out more and began to glow a little bit more brightly.

   "Leokas, flee!" Belvin shouted. He himself smacked into the southern wall, unable to find an exit in the dark. He yelled out in Druidic and made his buckler glow with magic.

   The light was a boon to Leokas, who took in the terrain about him. He hopped back onto the porch and loosed arrows one after the other, as he strafed her while moving south along the western porch. About half of his magic arrows struck her. But Belvin, still filled with dread, darted into one of the open doors to enter the western wing of the complex, which took the light from the courtyard and left Leokas in the darkness again, alone with the angry spirit.

   Meanwhile, Solisar, in the extradimensional space, felt himself startled awake. Little Ferry was licking and nipping at this fingers.

   "Where is Szordrin?"

   Ferry did not seem to understand, but Solisar began climbing down the rope. Ferry seemed ready to follow. The sun elf reached the bottom and filled the room with magical light.

   Outside, Leokas saw the light come on in Solisar's room. At last, one of his companions had woken. However, this brief distraction allowed the ghost to reach him. She swung her fan. Once again, Leokas dodged back, avoiding the swing; however, she caught him on the neck with a sudden backswing. Fortuitously, it was little more than a nick. He was bleeding, but he was fine.

   Leokas continued shooting. Another arrow passed through her; another three missed. The ghost swung again with a fury; the fan passed wholly through Leokas' neck, but it remained ethereal the whole time and did not harm him at all. As she slashed back again, he felt another mild nick, leaving a small cut on the back of his bow hand.

   In the upstairs room, Solisar saw Ferry dart out the window and scurry to the right down the hallway. Then, Sofi burst into his room from the left. She nodded at him and moved rapidly to the window. Wrapping the towel at her waist around her fist, she smashed the glass at the window. "Ghost outside, fighting Leokas. He needs our help!"

   The sun elf spoke magical words of hasting while clutching a bit of licorice root. Outside, Leokas felt a surge of speed rush through him. Moving more quickly now, he put two yards between himself and the attacking ghost and fired back.

   Solisar looked out the window and saw the faintly glowing back of the apparition. He exited the room and moved toward the stairs. He saw Ferry pausing at the steps. Solisar looked Ferry in the eyes while making to go down the stairs. Ferry nodded his tiny head and continued on to go wake Hakam and Kytharrah.

   The sun elf reached the ground floor and rushed out the main door to the courtyard. He saw Leokas shoot an arrow straight through the mildly glowing figure. Then, he watched her fall to her knees, though she still floated, struck by another arrow. Leokas sent one final arrow directly into where her heart should have been. The two elves watched her grab hold of the ethereal shaft, as if trying to pull it out, but she faded away into a mist and then completely vanished.
Session: 123rd Game Session - Tuesday, Nov 17 2020 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Chapter 2 — Marauders
to be written...
Session: 119th Game Session - Tuesday, Aug 18 2020 from 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM
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Chapter 2 — Ropers
Kytharrah rounded a particularly large cluster of crystal growth and spotted motion from the corner of his left eye. It seemed like one of the stalagmites to the north had moved. He gripped the dark leucrotta bone in his fist, ready for if it moved again.

   Suddenly, something shot out at Kytharrah, explosively launching from the stalagmite, like a frog launching its tongue at a fly. It looked like thick, fleshy rope. In the brief instant, Kytharrah was reminded of his little sister Cassiera's insides before Hakam had fixed her again. Kytharrah swung a perfectly timed swing and smacked the fleshy rope aside with so much force that it tore apart, splattering mud-like gore. Fleshy fragments plopped onto the ground. The limp end of the "rope", still attached to the stalagmite, began to slowly recede into a hole in the side of the rock.

   Leokas responded immediately, hopping onto a raised stone platform while nocking an arrow. He let it fly, and it struck with enough force to puncture the stony surface of the stalagmite. A second arrow glanced off its shell. A third arrow missed, and the fourth also stuck in.

   "It has a thick hide!" Leokas warned.

   Nargroth roared and leaped recklessly down the stony slope. Landing on his feet, he rushed over the rocky ground toward their strange attacker.

   Oma began summoning, while Szordrin snagged a piece of sap-encased eyelash from his pouch and vanished from sight. Belvin clutched his holly and mistletoe and prayed for wisdom as he moved to a better vantage point, and Jayce began strumming a riveting tune, which immediately filled them all with a surge of courage. Seven illusory copies of Solisar appeared in a cluster around him.

   "I should not have complained about punching plants;" said Sofi, "I know even less about how to fight a rock." Even so, she followed behind Belvin and readied herself in a defensive posture.

   When Nargroth closed within two yards of the living rock formation, it suddenly bowed forward with an unexpected rapidity. The surface stretched apart, revealing a circular, tooth-filled maw. Nargroth dropped low to one knee and slid along the ground with his forward momentum while raising his double axe in defense. He yelled out in pain as many stalactite like teeth burst through the chain armor about his forearm and punctured his skin. "Kumash damun, dukhal!" he cursed in his mother's tongue.

   The stalagmite sprang back upright and stared at its attackers with an enormous single eyeball. Then, three more appendages blasted forth from it like a frog's tongue. This time, two of them flew out toward Belvin and the third toward Kytharrah again. One missed Belvin, but the other two fleshy ropes wrapped quickly around their targets' waists, like snakes, and began to constrict. The fleshy rope made contact with Belvin's skin, and he felt a strange sensation, which reminded him of a past time when he had been stung by a bee and began to feel its venom. He felt the muscles throughout his body begin to weaken.

   Kytharrah swung down the leucrotta bone and once again splattered the tentacles apart, first freeing Belvin and then himself. Once severed from their connection to the stalagmite, the "rope" around each of them loosened and fell off. What was left of them began to retract back to their source.

   Hakam called upon Anachtyr for protection and an immense wall of whirling swords appeared instantly between the monster and the party, a new power he had never evoked before. The wall of blades stretched from floor to the ceiling 20 feet above and crossed the full width of the chamber as far as Hakam could see. The blades diced what was left of the retracting rope tentacles into bits, leaving only a yard or so to be pulled back into the holes from which they had launched.

   Leokas paused in his shooting. The barrier of blades made things more challenging, but he concentrated on the rate of the spin of the blades and timed his release. In the next ten seconds four arrows left his bow. Three of them passed by the swords, but the fourth was cut apart. Of the three, two had enough force to puncture the rocky armor of the creature, and one of them dove deep enough through that the stalagmite groaned in pain, opening its circular mouth again.

   "How do you like those arrows, nothokari?" roared Nargroth. "Now taste my axe!" With a whirling flourish, he too timed his swing perfectly to avoid the spin of the floating swords. First, one axe head then the other cut chunks of stone from the monster. It quivered and began to move along the ground away from the swinging.

   "It can move?" exclaimed Sofi. "How?"

   Now a huge skeleton burst into existence, summoned by Oma's spell. It stood upright like a massive bear, yet it had a large beak instead of teeth. It appeared just in front of Kytharrah and shambled forward, swinging through the blade barrier to strike at its foe with its sizable claws, but the swords swung down and cut the skeleton apart. Bone fragments were scattered and thrown in all directions as the wall decimated Oma's summons in but a few seconds.

   Just when Nargroth and Kytharrah uncovered their eyes after shielding them from the scattering bones, there was a massive flash of light followed by the sound of an explosion, as a ball of fire erupted behind the stalagmite. As the wave of fire expanded outward, it moved around the stalagmite without touching it at all, as if some invisible force protected it. Szordrin's fireball did nothing at all to the creature.

   Belvin screamed something in Druidic, and the ground began to rumble. With cracks and grinding sounds, something burst from the ground behind the stalagmite, a giant fist of stone. Then two more near the first emerged. The rock hands opened and grabbed for the stalagmite, and two caught it, wrapping around it and holding it from moving. It writhed around but could not free itself from their grasp, but its dense form could not be crushed, even by the earthen fists. One hand fell away, as the stalagmite jerked about, but the hand of rock simply grabbed a hold again.

   With a magic word, the eyes of the eight duplicate Solisars glowed blue. Then, forty bursts of force shot from their collective palms, rippling through the stale cavern air and pummeling the grappled stalagmite monster.

   Leokas hesitated, as his companions' spell effects appeared one after the other. He did not think he could strike the monster while the stone hands clasped it. Then he saw movement to the right, through the barrier of blades. Two more stone hands broke through the ground and grabbed at another stalagmite, sensing that it too, was living. One grabbed a hold successfully, but with a rapid jerk, the stone monster slithered across the ground to get away from the giant hand, fleeing to the dark corners in the northeast of the chamber.

   "There are two of them!" Leokas called out.

   Sofi saw this too. She rushed to the right, sliding down stone into a "valley" in the cavern, getting closer to the second stalagmite, but pausing and taking cover behind a large central column. With the blade barrier up, there was little she could do but wait.

   The first stalagmite then wriggled free from its prison. Kytharrah had watched Nargroth time his swings. He waited, he waited, and he swung with all his might. The long thigh bone of the leucrotta stuck at just the right spot. With a moan, the creature's hard shell shattered, and it crumbled apart, its softer, mud-like insides spilling out in an oozing mess. Kytharrah pulled back, just as a whirling blade from the wall swung down. It glanced off the thigh bone and knocked it aside, but the edge could not cut the adamantine-like material.

   Hakam moved after Sofi and clutched his holy symbol, calling forth a spiritual sword and hammer together. They appeared on the other side of the blade barrier, in flanking arrangement on each side of the second, slowly fleeing stalagmite. The force sword seemed repelled by an invisible force surrounding the monster and dissipated, but the hammer struck it at its peak and knocked off a small chunk.

   Leokas waited for the second monster to move into his line of sight and released. Arrows plunged into the monster in succession as his companions moved along the rough terrain parallel the blade wall and around the large central column. Jayce's enchanted music continued to spur them on.

   Belvin, however, found that he was too weak to move quickly. His gear felt like it had tripled in weight, but he knew it was the effect of the strange magic in the fleshy rope that had temporarily bound him. "Come back toward me!" he shouted to Kytharrah and Nargroth. "The hands may try to grab you as well if you are too close to the blade wall."

   "I think that there is a third one to the east!" announced Oma. She began another summoning incantation.

   Belvin looked to where Oma had directed and saw movement in yet another stalagmite. "Let us toast this thing!" he screamed, as he pointed his finger. A column of holy fire fell from the ceiling and enveloped the monster. A gritty, earthy growl of pain was heard, and lines of fire appeared in the cracks of its earthen flesh. Smoke came out of body as it writhed about.

   The eight Solisars tossed a bit of mica into the air, and a cloud of glittering gold dust appeared and covered the same monster, allowing the humans in the party to see it in the darkness of the cave. The now sparkling monster shot out its fleshy tentacles, but they were futile attempts, as the gold particles had blinded its single large eye. The flopping, elongated masses began to recede, and the monster slowly slithered back away from them.

   "Shatter!" commanded Hakam, but nothing happened. Though blind, its magical resistance was still defending it from direct magical threats.

   Kytharrah charged ahead of the others with a supernatural burst of speed to reach the blinded stalagmite, and he whacked it hard with his improvised club.

   "Kytharrah, use your magic axe, not the bone!" called out Solisar. "Its magic defenses are too strong."

   "Leokas, I have transformed your arrows!" echoed Szordrin's voice from somewhere in the shadows. "Draw from your side quiver!"

   Leokas nocked an arrow from the quiver on his hip, and the tip of the arrow magically ignited. He began to time the spins of the whirling swords again. He watched the stone hands try to catch the slithering stalagmite and fail. Hakam's divine hammer was also pursuing it. It did not fail, cracking down again on the rocky hide of the magical beast.

   Leokas' target moved behind the central column of the cave before he could get a clear shot. Instead, he jumped to the side to aim at the third stone monster and released the fire arrow. The flaming projectile struck the center of its gold-dust covered eye and disappeared wholly within. The monster wobbled and tumbled over. It rolled a few yards and then was still. Leokas shot it again, just to make sure.

   Nargroth paused in his running. There was no end in sight to the blade barrier, so he could not get to the remaining enemy as it slowly moved to the northeast, with grasping stone hands and a hammer of force behind it. Another owlbear skeleton appeared, but Oma could not cause it to appear beyond the barrier. The brainless creature pursued the stalagmite as well, and was blasted into bits by the spinning swords as the last summons had been. "Hakam, lower the barrier!" shouted Oma. "I am wasting my magic! Nothing can get through!"

   "That is the whole point!" Hakam shouted back. "Summon them on the other side!"

   "I cannot reach that far!"

   "Try another spell for once!" shouted Belvin, as he stumbled weakly toward the others.

   Belvin felt Szordrin's invisible hand touch his shoulder, followed by a surge of new strength in his muscles. He was not at full strength, but at least he could move more than a stagger now.

   Then Solisar moved up to Szordrin, whom he could see with his magic vision, and spoke magic words over him. "Your invisibility will last another minute, my friend," said the sun elf.

   Kytharrah watched Hakam's summoned hammer strike the slowly crawling stalagmite on the other side of the barrier. He moved to try and help, but balked at the spinning blades, snorting in anxious frustration.

   "Kytharrah, use your words," said the Solisars together, coming up beside him. Sofi and Nargroth also stood by, unable to reach the remaining foe either.

   "Swords," said Kytharrah, pointing.

   So, Hakam finally dismissed the wall of swords with a wave of his hand. Minotaur, half-orc, and tiefling rushed forward. Hakam instead went to Belvin and tried to remove any curse that might be upon him, but his full strength did not return.

   Kytharrah, of course, reached the stalagmite first, ahead of Nargroth or Sofi, this time with his axe drawn. He swung. The blade sparked, as it struck against the rock skin of the monster. It made a rumbling moan, was struck by the spiritual hammer, and then punctured by three simultaneous flaming arrows. The creature ignited and burned to death from inside out, leaving an ash-filled stony shell.
Session: 118th Game Session - Tuesday, Aug 11 2020 from 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM
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Chapter 2 — Yellow Musk Spores
"No time to explain! Cover your mouths!"

   Sofi heard Belvin's warning, so as she rushed to the northwest, she did so with her left hand over her mouth. She sprinted along the overgrown gravel path toward the limping dinosaur that Kytharrah had just struck. Jumping into the air, she kicked high with her left foot. The raptor's head snapped back with a loud crack. As it wobbled and fell to the ground, she punched it on the side of its face with her right fist for good measure.

   "Stay away once you have taken one out!" Belvin called again in warning.

   She nodded, her hand still covering her mouth and nose.

   Hakam and Solisar followed behind her, squeezing between the fallen tree over the path where it had split apart. The cleric called out a quick prayer and touched the phylactery upon his forehead, and a shimmering field of magic appeared around him. Solisar continued past him and could now see the hill beyond. It had a simple house built upon it, surrounded by a fence.

   Belvin continued to shout out warnings and updates. "Another two are coming from the north!"

   Solisar saw one of the two animals. It leapt the fence around the house on the hill and came running down. He waved his wand and saw the beast struck by an invisible force, but it kept on running on its bird-like legs. Kytharrah ran back through the air, swinging from behind the creature to sever its feathered tail. A moment later, Sofi knocked it to the ground with a roundhouse kick to the right side of its head. It raised its head one and hissed, but she dropped to her knees and punched it. It did not raise its head again.

   Szordrin seemed to feel fine after sneezing earlier. As he floated above the deinonychus that was striving and failing to jump up and pull him from the air, he removed a flask of oleum from his potion belt and began to prepare the fuse.

   Kamil cleared the trees and bushes that were blocking the view, and Belvin could now see the house on the hill as well. Leokas followed behind them, vaulting over the fallen tree, landing, and nocking an arrow for whatever might burst from the bushes into view. At the tail end came Hakam, at last seeing the hill that all the others could see. He also spotted the second dinosaur about which Belvin had warned, and a beam of searing light blasted from his palm through all the branches and leaves and struck the animal some 50 yards away.

   Belvin targeted the same dinosaur and called down holy fire from the sky to burn it to ashes in a matter of seconds.

   Szordrin also dropped fire of a kind, though not with as satisfactory a result. His flask of black, oily liquid broke upon the back of the jumping deinonychus and ignited with a flash, searing off the few feathers remaining on the zombie-like creature. The creature's skin, however, did not ignite, and with another attempt, it leapt up yet again. This time, it made it higher into the air. Its jaws clamped down on Szordrin's right leg, and its teeth punctured the soft leather of his boot. The weight of the ten-foot-long dinosaur drew Szordrin out of the air toward the ground. As they fell, the creature slashed about wildly with its claws and the razor-sharp toe claw on its lower talons as its jaws still held fast. The mage's mithral shirt deflected its claws, and its talons missed, as Szordrin thrashed about. He kicked it in the head and freed himself. The magic from his flying spell carried him back higher into the air, and the dinosaur fell prone to the ground. As the dinosaur tried to get back to its feet, it was knocked back down by the force of two magic missiles from Solisar striking it in the legs. It raised its head one last time, just high enough for Leokas to pierce it with an arrow.

   "We need to burn all the bodies!" said Belvin, as the last dinosaur fell. "They were not undead; they were infected by yellow musk spores. We have to burn anything with spores."

   As if on cue, suddenly a number of thick vines whipped up from the jungle floor and snapped violently at Solisar. His magical force shield darted back and forth to defend him, but several blows got through, nearly knocking him senseless.

   Kytharrah's eyes followed the vines back toward a large, bush-like plant. It had large leaves and beautiful yellow flowers with purple specks. He stepped forward on air and began hacking at the base of the green tendrils, where they seemed to emerge from the plant.

   Sofi positioned herself just outside the reach of the nearest tendrils. "What do I do?" she bemoaned. "I do not know how to kick a plant!"

   "Keep away from it!" warned Belvin again.

   "Watch me destroy it," said Szordrin, as he reached into his spell component pouch, but Hakam was a moment faster and called down fire while clutching his holy symbol. The yellow-flowered plant burst into sudden flame. Its leaves and flowers sizzled and shriveled as they burned up over the next several seconds, and the writhing vines grew still.

   Belvin did not seem confident that the plant was dead. He yelled at it in Druidic, ordering it not to move.

   "Did it not die?" asked Szordrin, as he pointed at the burning ball that he had summoned and directed it toward the corpse of the deinonychus that had bitten him. At least he could burn up one of the corpses.

   "I would continue to keep your mouths covered, if I were you," replied Belvin, as Solisar emptied the contents of a healing potion into his mouth and felt his bruised body refresh. Leokas nocked an arrow and glanced around nervously.

   Kytharrah looked down at the ground. Where he had severed the vines, he noticed tiny shoots budding out of the plant flesh of the tendrils at the point where he had hacked them apart. He had never seen a plant growing so fast. He swung at them again. Then he began slashing at the bush itself, sending shriveled leaves and flowers everywhere. He then bent low and gored the thick, woody trunk of the plant.

   "Keep your distance, Kytharrah!" said Belvin.

   "How do you kill it?" asked Solisar.

   "We need to scorch it," said Belvin. "All of it, so that nothing remains at all. Even the smallest root can begin to grow back."

   "How can a plant grow so quickly?" asked Sofi.

   Hakam came up to Solisar and laid his hands on him. All of the pain left the sun elf's body. "Cannot one of you nature folk start a bonfire?" the cleric then asked.

   "It will be difficult to start a natural fire with all of this moisture," said Belvin. "We are in a rain forest after all, but I do have one idea." The wild elf closed his eyes and began chanting softly and raised his arms to the sky.

   "I am out of fire magic," said Hakam. "I am sure that Leokas would accept the challenge. Leokas?"

   The wood elf was no longer standing nearby, having followed the path up the hill to a large gate.

   "I have a few more fire spells at my disposal," said Szordrin, and he pointed at the remains of the plant, as tiny shoots began poking out of the stump and opening into little leaves. Out of all of the root fragments scattered about from Kytharrah's hacking, little buds were emerging. A flash of fire exploded outward, engulfing the plant just shy of where the others were standing. All of the little growths were annihilated by the blast, but within about ten seconds, once the steam from the explosion had dissipated, they spotted here a fresh growth and there another. Soon, tiny plants were sprouting from the scorched plant material all around them.

   Solisar thought it best to get away from the vines — hacked up though they were — that could have pummeled him to unconsciousness, and followed up the hill toward Leokas.

   "We need you to start a fire," Solisar said to the wood elf. "We no longer have fire spells. What do you see?"

   Leokas vaulted over the fence with his hands. He was looking toward an enormous pillar of dark-green crystal, embedded in the soil and supported by a ring of stones. It had clearly been erected here; it was not a natural rock growth. It was four-feet thick and ten-feet tall. "I may be wrong, but I suspect that we have found another Omlar gem!"

   "It is the center of the illusory field," said Hakam.

   Kytharrah snorted loudly, trying to get the others to pay attention again to the plant that was growing more and more shoots and tiny tendrils with every second.

   "Where did that cloud come from?" asked Sofi. A small dark storm cloud was now hovering some ten yards above them. Belvin yelled out something, and a flash of lightning struck down from the cloud. Some of the little plants drooped over and were stilled... but only for several moments. New ones sprung up immediately after.

   Kytharrah, frustrated, went at it at the tree again, this time striking the remains of the central stump, until it was in several fragments. He cut into the ground with his axe, digging up every shallow root that he could find and churning up the soil.

   "Stop chopping them up!" said Hakam. "You are going to make it worse."

   The minotaur obeyed and stopped.

   Szordrin followed with a final blaze of fire, but he failed to engulf all of the growing plantlets now scattered all about.

   "What is an Omlar gem?" asked Sofi, as Leokas passed her on his way to the decimated yet still living plant.

   "I shall explain later," said Leokas. "For now, it looks like someone needs to make a proper campfire."


Leokas gave everyone orders to search for the driest wood that they could. They began kicking all the chopped up plant parts into a central pile, and Leokas surrounded it with small stones. Then he began arranging sticks around it. Sofi seemed impressed with how much care he put into building the fire, having never seen the ranger at work before. It was a long process, but during the time needed to build the fire, Belvin continued to call down bolts of lightning on the largest plantlets every minute or so, preventing any from growing too large.

   Only when Leokas was satisfied with the bonfire's construction did he use his flint to ignite the wood. It only took a single spark.

   Belvin approached Szordrin and neutralized any potential poison with a prayer to Thard Harr.

   "I felt no ill effects," said Szordrin.

   "I heard you sneeze. Did you smell a musky odor? If so, than its spores may have gotten into your system."

   "It can take days for one to become infected by diseases," said Leokas. "I imagine it is the same for a natural spore taking over one's brain."

   "Is it a disease, or a curse?" asked Hakam.

   "I do not fully know how it works," said Belvin, "but if it were a curse, I suspect that your divine magic would have done more harm to the zombies. All I know is that the spores take over the infected creature and cause it to care for nothing but protecting the parent plant."

   Once the fire was ablaze, they ensured that every last scrap from the plant was thrown in. Kytharrah used his axe like a shovel to toss in dirt that might contain the smallest bits. They also recovered the mushy, yellowed bodies of the six deinonychuses that had not already been burned by other means. Their open wounds revealed plant matter and what looked like vines growing within what should have been reptilian flesh. From the heads of a few of them, small plants had already burst from the skulls, each with tiny tendrils that were slithering around looking for a surface to which to cling. These were all tossed onto the fire.

   Curious, Szordrin held one final root fragment with a growing shoot and pierced it with his dagger of venom. The little shoot still wiggled like a worm. Frustrated, the tiefling wizard cast it into the fire.
Session: 115th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 21 2020 from 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM
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Chapter 2 — Zombie Raptors
"We got some saurs. Tread lightly; we are in deinonychus country. I can sense at least sixteen raptors!"

   "Where are they?" they asked Belvin.

   "At least four to the north, but they are scattered in all directions. I cannot sense the precise locations."

   "What is a deinonychus?" asked Solisar.

   "Bird-like, feathered dinosaurs standing as tall as an elf with tails just as long. They have a single sharp, curved claw on each of their talons, on the second toe, shaped much like my sickle, and they hunt in packs, taking down larger prey by pouncing on them. They are in a family known as raptors."

   "I think that I know what you mean," said Sofi. "I encountered some on another island once. I saw them take down one of the dinosaurs with armored plates on its back. They ganged up on it. I began sleeping in the trees after that."

   "They climb trees," said Belvin, and Sofi looked horrified.

   "We should try to avoid them," said Hakam, "but prepare yourselves for fighting if we need to."

   Belvin agreed. "I cannot speak to any more animals today."

   "If there are sixteen of them within this magic dome," said Szordrin. "I do not see how we will be able to avoid them."

   They proceeded forward cautiously. Belvin let Kamil follow the others while he concentrated on his druidic spell. About twenty paces from the magical barrier, they came to a small pond. On its eastern side was a small fire ring and some rocks for sitting on. There even seemed to be the remains of a gravel path leading to the northeast.

   Belvin sensed that the nearest deinonychus was only some fifteen yards to the east, out of sight in the trees, and he cautioned his teammates. "There are now eight within 40 yards of us," he said in a low voice, "but they are all spread out, and they seem to be moving around slowly in tight circles, like an animal in a cage, not like animals patrolling their territory or on the hunt. I do not think that this is their natural behavior at all."

   "Could they be the guards of whoever is living here?" asked Hakam.

   "I am curious about how recently that fire ring has been used," said Solisar. "Leokas, is that something that you could check?"

   Leokas nodded, nocked an arrow, and stealthily made his way forward to the ring of small stones, staying low to the ground. There was not much cover for him, but he was quiet on his feet. He crouched at the ring and looked into it and then rose and pressed himself up against a thick tree trunk east of it. He motioned that he had spotted motion further east, and his companions nodded in understanding. Leokas waited a moment and then darted back to the others.

   "I do not think the dinosaur spotted me. It is tall. As for the fire ring, it has not been used in many long years; there are plants growing in it."

   "Solisar, are the dinosaurs in magical cages?" asked Szordrin. "Can you see any auras in the directions that Belvin pointed?"

   Solisar shook his head.

   "Perhaps we can have the minotaur or someone flying distract them from the air and lead them away to form a safe path for the rest of us," suggested Hakam.

   This triggered a discussion of the best course of action. Just when one of them suggested, "Could not Leokas just pick them off one by one?" one of the deinonychuses came into view and charged toward them along the overgrown gravel path. Leokas immediately loosed his arrow. It struck the bird-like animal, but it kept running.

   "Valignat!" shouted Szordrin, extending his hand. Two beams of fire rushed forth. One missed, but the other flash-burned the dinosaur, and it stumbled to the ground briefly, before springing up onto its feet again.

   They all felt a rush of speed as a piece of licorice vanished from Solisar's hands. He backed closer to the magical barrier, as the deinonychus leapt into the air at Leokas, its tiny clawed wings extended. It crashed into Leokas talons first, slashing into his left arm through his leather with one of its sickle-clawed toes. The dinosaur was bulkier and heavier than Leokas had anticipated, but he managed to spring back enough to avoid being knocked flat onto his back.

   Kamil turned on his own, without any need for guidance, and snapped at the deinonychus. It jerked its neck back to avoid the bite and hissed back at the camel. The camel reared back and slammed both hooves into dinosaur's head, one after the other, dazing the beast. Leokas drew his dagger and swung in the same motion, decapitating the animal.

   Kytharrah sniffed the fallen animal and made a funny face. Sif came up and began gnawing on its thigh. Sofi moved up to a tree and stood on the lookout for more dinosaurs.

   "It never signaled its pack," said Szordrin.

   "That is because it was not alive to begin with," said Hakam. "It had no functioning brain."

   Belvin agreed. "Look at its mottled skin and lack of many feathers. This was a zombie."

   Kytharrah looked confused.

   Hakam moved closer to the fallen deinonychus and prayed a blessing of fortune over the party.

   Belvin continued to concentrate. "There are still seven more near us; they have not moved yet."

   "I think that I can see another moving to the northwest," said Szordrin, who had walked to the north of the small pond.

   "If these are undead," said Solisar, joining the party again, his magic wand drawn. "I suggest we destroy these abominations."

   Hakam agreed, and Belvin said, "Hells, my arm is itching for some holy cleansing action!"

   So, Szordrin pulled out some tallow, brimstone, and a pinch of iron powder and threw his arm toward the northwest as if lobbing a heavy ball. A sphere of flame soared a hundred feet through the air and struck the dinosaur, then bounced off and tumbled to the ground. Steam rose from the canopy floor, as the ball of fire burned the wet leaves and plants on the ground. The dinosaur squawked and rushed forward, disappearing from Szordrin's view.

   A different decayed-looking deinonychus sprung out of the bushes north of Szordrin and reached him, kicking up at him like an ostrich might and slashing his leg through his robes. Szordrin yelped in pain as several bursts of force from Solisar's wand beat back the animal and kept it from taking a bite out of Szordrin as well. Instead, it tore a piece from Szordrin's sleeve.

   "We have got movement," warned Belvin, as he moved Kamil to a fallen tree that crossed the old gravel path. "From the northeast!"

   Leokas looked at his two options and chose to aim at the one near Szordrin, drawing the bowstring back to its extreme limits with each shot. Only one of his arrows hit, but it literally caused the dinosaur's side to burst open, and yellow and green contents began sloughing out.

   Still walking on air, Kytharrah also rushed to Szordrin's aid. He rose ten or fifteen feet over the dinosaur and swung his large axe down from above. The blade split the animal's flesh wide open, and it fell apart in a pile of decayed organs and limbs. Kytharrah immediately rushed through the air back toward the fallen tree.

   Sif ran over to the fallen tree also, then under it, and snapped at the legs of the raptor that had come from the east. Sofi also sprinted to the fallen tree, leapt atop the log, and flipped herself off onto the back of the dinosaur to ride it like a mount. With her free fist, she pounded it in the side of the head, causing it to wobble about.

   Hakam hustled toward the tree as well, his holy symbol raised and glowing with positive energy. "Anachtyr rebuke you!" he shouted.

   "Szordin, north!" Belvin called out.

   The wizard cast a spell and took to the air, flying north around the tall trunks of the jungle trees. He now could see a hill and ridge curving down from the north and bending around to the east. The dinosaur that he had burned was now below him, and it tried futilely to leap up and bite at Szordrin's feet.

   "I meant, aim north, not go north!" protested Belvin.

   Back by the fallen tree, Sofi clung tightly to the back of the dinosaur she rode, as Solisar pummeled it with magic bursts from his wand, but it finally bucked Sofi from its back. She landed on the ground in a backwards somersault, then rolled horizontally to avoid a bite and kick in succession from the dinosaur that had tossed her and was then back to her feet with a rising handspring in a matter of moments.

   Another zombie deinonychus appeared from the east, flapping its diminutive wings and leaping onto the tree, trying to snap at Sif, who was still underneath its leafless branches. Kytharrah swung down from above and nearly cut its right wing off.

   "Your rebuke did not turn them, Hakam!" shouted Leokas, as he took out the raptor on the tree before it could attack his animal companion again. "They are still coming." He then dropped to his knees, turning his longbow sideways and releasing two shots past Solisar, under the fallen tree, past his wolf, and into the raptor facing Sofi. An arrow in each of its legs, the decaying dinosaur collapsed to the ground and did not move again.

   "If they are not undead, then what are they?" said Hakam.

   Meanwhile, as Szordrin hovered over another deinonychus beyond a large cluster of trees and bushes from the others, he felt like had inhaled a cloud of pollen and immediately sneezed, rising five feet into the air as he did so. With his peripheral vision, he saw Kytharrah walking north through the air to his right. Another dinosaur appeared out of the trees, and the minotaur brought down his axe again. It shrieked, dropped to its stomach, and then limped away into the bushes, leaving a trail of yellow and green upon the ground.

   For his part, Kytharrah could now see the hill that Szordrin had seen and what was set atop it, but he needed to help his friend first before he could explore. He rushed through the air toward Szordrin, when he suddenly inhaled a bunch of pollen and sneezed just as Szordrin had done moments earlier.

   Then they all heard Belvin shout out a warning. He had figured out what they were actually up against.

   "No time to explain! Cover your mouths!"
Session: 114th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 14 2020 from 12:30 AM to 3:30 AM
Viewable by: Public
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