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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Answers & Questions from the Past
The box contained a stack of seven letters from Samber — or Bremas or Rembas — with an unfinished letter from Onran to Samber inserted after the sixth. Szordrin confirmed that the script with large letters was indeed Onran's handwriting. These were all written in Lantanna, the language of Lantan.

   There were also two letters from a woman named Yunoko, who was clearly Onran's late wife. These were written in Common, and each ended with a character in Wanese calligraphy.

   Finally, at the bottom of the box was an inch-thick bound stack of love notes from Yunoko, which smelled heavily of perfume.

   "Woman smell," said Kytharrah.

   They passed the letters around and examined them in turn. There was a wealth of information within, detailing missing details of the lives of both Samber and Onran, and introducing them to Onran's wife, Yunoko. Once again, Sofi stood back out of the way and watched but did not ask to read the letters.

   "Well," said Solisar, as he set down the last letter, "we have learned that Samber relies on the Elemental Plane of Earth to procure the clay needed to make his creations."

   "We already suspected that he has been to many of the planes," said Hakam. "We know, for example, that he has been to the Plane of Fire."

   "Yes, but he goes to the Plane of Earth often, so it may be a means of finding him again."

   "We may as well start at the beginning of the stack and go through the letters methodically," said Hakam. "The first letter tells us unequivocally that Yunoko died. That was Samber and Avilda's condolences letter to Onran."

   "Who was Avilda?" asked Belvin.

   "According to Jayce, Avilda was the name of Samber's former wife," said Solisar.

   "The second letter seems to confirm the story that Jayce told us," said Hakam, "that she left him for creating a monster when they could not have children of their own."

   "Somewhere in the letters, Samber also remarked that he would never make a flesh golem again," said Solisar, "or at least something to that effect."

   "We know that his creations are flesh and blood, though, are they not?" asked Leokas. "Did Ilthian bleed?"

   "Yes," said Belvin. "Recall that she was covered in her own blood when we found her in her room after Samber had transferred his mind into hers."

   Kytharrah, who was bored and writing "Big Minotaur" in the ash of the fireplace, perked his ears when he heard Ilthian's name spoken. "Yes," he said confidently. "Shiny bones, like club." They still carried the large thigh bone of a leucrotta in one of their magic bags. The creatures had bone of a material very similar in structure to adamantine.

   "The later letters go into more details about his more recent models of construct and how they mix flesh and blood with other elements," said Hakam, "such as adamantine skeletons. Ilthian likely had a skeleton far stronger than any of ours."

   Solisar nodded.

   "The third letter tells us how he found his island," continued Hakam. "Did we ever see any of these 'animal Kell' that he describes? It seems so long ago now."

   The others distinctly remembered seeing some of the strange rolling creatures with two legs used as brakes that Samber had created when waiting in the area outside his subterranean abode. Ilthian had confirmed at the time that there were many such creatures on the island, though she only knew this because she had broken the rules and gone exploring outside the Forokell's little village.

   "That letter also confirms that Onran had a spelljammer," said Solisar, "and more important to us, perhaps, it claims that he had sent Onran a 'token' with which to find his island for the purpose of visits."

   "Yes," said Hakam.

   "It probably was used already, but it is worth considering, since we do not know how to return to the island on our own."

   "We know from later letters that Samber and Onran met each other after the sending of the token," said Hakam. "The token, if it still exists, was probably with Onran, not here."

   "I agree, but we should be on the lookout for whatever it is, wherever we happen to be investigating."

   "The fourth letter talks about mining operations," said Belvin. "This must be the mine where we fought the hobgoblins and the bone devil."

   "That one also says that they went to the Rock of Bral together," said Hakam. "It may be worth our time to go back there and see if anyone knew of either of them. None of us heard anything about either of them while there, did we?"

   "We probably would have to use one of their many pseudonyms," said Belvin.

   "The later letters discuss how he built Ilthian's people and their immediate predecessors," said Hakam.

   "The Lillikell and the Forokell," said Belvin.

   "We also know from one of Samber's journals that Ilthian was supposed to have been a Lillikell," said Solisar, "but he changed her into a Forokell at the last moment for some reason."

   "We never met any of the Lillikell," said Hakam, "correct?"

   "What about those armored constructs on his ship and that guarded his palace?" asked Szordrin. "The ones with the glowing visors. Those could be the Lillikell."

   "The letter that Onran never sent," said Hakam, "its year matches the one on most of the receipts and thank you letters from the orphanages that we found last night. Perhaps he was writing it when the rakshasa attacked this house."

   "How could he have had time to place it neatly in the stack with the others, seal it in a magic box, hide it in a secret chamber, and then teleport away, if that were the case?" asked Szordrin.

   "I only suggest it because the letter ends so abruptly, though I suppose that it is possible that he started to write the letter and then never sent it."

   "I think that that is a better theory," said Szordrin. "He wrote that he was afraid that he might offend Samber with his opinion."

   "Yes, he started to reproach him for creating his constructs," said Hakam. "That is true."

   "Is it possible from the letters to determine who else might have known about this island on Coliar?" asked Belvin.

   "If this is the 'vacation home' that Yunoko talks about in one of her letters, then her superiors may have known about it, yes," said Hakam. "It could also be somewhere else though."

   Hakam continued with another line of thought. "Another thing that we can infer from the letters is that Yunoko died because of the tiefling child, the rakshasa's descendent, that she was trying to keep hidden." They all looked over at Szordrin. "This was back in the Year of the Wandering Maiden. How old are you again, Szordrin?"

   "If you are suggesting that Szordrin here is the same as the son of this Mieko in the letters, the years do not work out," said Solisar. "The Year of the Wandering Maiden was in the early years of the reign of King Azoun Obarskyr IV of the human realm of Cormyr. That was nearly 40 years ago. The Year of the Turret, when we can presume the last letters between Samber and Onran were written, was only a dozen years ago."

   "I also have normal human teeth," said Szordrin, "unlike the child Yunoko describes in the letter."

   "When did you meet your master again, Szordrin?" asked Hakam.

   "The Year of the Sword," answered Szordrin, "when I was thirteen years old."

   "I want to make sure that I understand the details that Yunoko reported," said Hakam. "The rakshasa 'emperor' had a son, a half-fiend, who betrayed him, killed him, but the rakshasa came back, killed the son, and pledged to kill the son's whole line."

   The others agreed with this understanding.

   "So, even if you are not this Mieko's son, Szordrin, if you are in the emperor's line, the rakshasa could still be after you."

   Szordrin's grim expression showed that he had already come to the same conclusion.

   "This masquerading emperor, Kando — I would be surprised if he were not the 'ninth emperor of the seventh dynasty' that 'is in your past', Szordrin," said Solisar, quoting from Yashiera's first prophecy for Szordrin.

   "Yashiera's second prophecy for me was about an empress," said Szordrin. "Were there any hints about her within these letters?"

   "I noticed no such hints," said Solisar, "but the prophecy speaks of the 'twelfth circle of the seventh circle,' and, as we have discussed previously, I still suspect that this is one of the moons of the planet Garden — though to call it a planet is a misnomer, as it is suspected to be a root bud of an interplanar plant, perhaps related to Yggdrasil, but I digress."

   "It sounds like a planet that I would enjoy visiting," said Belvin.

   "While we are speaking of Yashiera's prophecies," said Szordrin, "Onran's letter to Samber mentioned an empty sphere, which must correspond to one of Yashiera's four visions for us."

   "The hollow 'ball of glass' 'in a rainbow ocean,'" said Solisar. "I agree."

   "It seemed like an off-hand comment of arcane interest more than something that can immediately aid us in our goals," said Hakam.

   "It may ultimately be someplace that we need to go?" said Szordrin.

   "But Onran only tells that he has been there," said Hakam, "not how to get there."

   "How do you think that they were actually sending these letters to each other?" said Leokas. "Through portals?"

   "It is certainly possible, considering the powers known by each of these two mages," said Solisar, "but there were often many years between some of them. He mentioned five years once."

   "A decade in one of them," added Szrodrin.

   "Another point of interest to me," said Hakam, "is that Yunoko was a member of the Harpers and that she had a mission, so tracking down someone from her organization may aid us in learning more about that mission."

   "Who are the Harpers?" asked Sofi, who had been so quiet that they almost forgot that she was still in the room.

   "The Harpers are a secret society," said Solisar, smiling at the irony of what he was about to explain, "but the elves played a role in their founding and have longer memories. They were founded in the Year of the Dawn Rose, about 700 years after the erection of the Standing Stone. Strangely enough, they have dryads to thank, in part, for their formation. The fey beings grew concerned over astrological events and sought aid from elven druids, who in turn called for aid from a group of human and elven priests of good deities. At the meeting in the druid grove, the powers themselves possessed their priests and spoke through them, giving them a mandate to fight against the forces of many of the evil powers, including Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. This initial group of priests and the small force of recruits that they gathered became what was first called the Harpers in Twilight.

   "After the first 300 years, the organization struggled to exist, for their enemies fought back. It was then that the human wizards Elminster and Khelben Arunsun, both whom Yunoko mentioned by name in her letters and both who live to this day, changed the group into a secret, underground force of agents of good, no longer working openly only to be slain by priests of evil gods. Most of the Chosen of Mystra are among their numbers now.

   "Their agents live hidden lives, acting as the eyes and ears for the more powerful leaders of the group, and this seems to have been what Yunoko was."

   "What do you know about Wa, Solisar?" one of them asked.

   "I have never studied the eastern realms of Kara-Tur," said Solisar. "I know that it is an island nation. They are known for their ninja assassins, their samurai knights, and their geisha escorts.

   "I recently learned during our time on the Rock of Bral that the nation of Wa is trying hard to compete with the Shou Empire in terms of wildspace trade. Though they are far behind, they are building their own classes of spelljammers, which are, in fact, some of the largest wildspace vessels ever built. Returning to our earlier discussions of prophecies, I suspect that we might find an empress of Wa on one of Garden's moons."

   "The empress in the prophecy could be Szordrin's mother, potentially," said Hakam, "at least by some reckoning."

   "Does anyone known what Yunoko meant by 'the slaughter of Chaunteas's worshipers by the shogun'?" asked Szordrin.

   "I took that as diplomatic matters of no import to us," said Hakam. "In any case, I have never heard of such a slaughter."

   "Nor have I," said Solisar.

   "So, then, we suspect that the child Yunoko rescued may have been Szordrin's father," said Hakam. "Szordrin, do you have any memory of him?"

   "My earliest memories are of being beaten by my drow mistresses," said Szordrin matter-of-factly. Then he asked, "She mentioned that Mieko and child were sent away to safety at Onran and Yunoko's vacation home. How could my father then have ended up in the Underdark on Toril?"

   "Perhaps it was when they were being transferred that Yunoko was attacked and killed," said Hakam.

   "Then how did the son survive?" asked Szordrin.

   "The rakshasa said that he only wanted the life of the son," said Solisar.

   "Not if the mother interfered with his hunt," said Hakam, "and fleeing and hiding is certainly interfering."

   "Are we certain that the woman's son is not Szordrin?" asked Belvin. "Could someone have changed your teeth when you were a baby to disguise you?"

   "You remember nothing about your early childhood, but you know how old you are?" asked Hakam.

   "Only roughly," said Szordrin. "I am certainly not close to 40 years old! I chose the day the Onran found me as the day that I celebrate my birth, but I do not know when that day actually was."

   "Do tieflings age differently than humans?" asked Hakam.

   "We age a little more slowly," said Szordrin, "but not by that much. I still grew far faster than the drow children around me, and my mistresses constantly reminded me of my supposed age...."

   "What if you had been placed into time stasis?" asked Hakam.

   "That would not make pointed teeth go away," said Szordin. "I think that the simplest explanation is the best. Forty years is long enough for two generations: my father and me."

   "Khelben lives in Waterdeep, does he not?" asked Hakam.

   "It sounds like we have several places where we can continue our search for Samber," said Leokas. "We could seek an audience with the Harper leaders at Waterdeep. We could find whoever this empress is on the moon of Garden."

   "Yes, we could also visit Wa itself," said Hakam. "If we ever happen upon one of Samber's tokens, we could find our way back to his island. We could gather more information from Bral."

   "What is our intent when we actually meet Samber next?" asked Solisar.

   "Make him stop what he is doing," said Leokas, as if the answer were obvious. "We have been charged by the gods to do so!"

   "I understand that, of course," said Solisar, "but I waited patiently ten years on the Great Glacier to watch the Ice Queen. Sometimes pursuing one's goal does not mean acting with haste. We cannot forget, from our knowledge of what he has done and the times that we have already encountered him, that Samber is an incredibly powerful mage, far beyond any of our own capabilities at the present time. I believe that with some growth in our powers, we will be able to stop him, but that takes time. I believe that we need that time before we face him again."

   "Is your thinking swayed by your own prophecy from Yashiera," asked Hakam, "'the wizard is wisest who waits to wave his wand'?"

   "He did literally exile all of us to the other side of Toril with a word," said Leokas, "although we have learned much since then."

   "Truly, I did not have the prophecy in mind when I spoke," said Solisar, "though I agree that it fits."

   "We need not stop him with violence or a direct conflict," said Leokas, "if that was a concern of yours. We need only convince him of the error of his ways."

   Belvin nodded.

   "Yes, that was, in part, the reason behind my question of our intent," said Solisar.

   "Perhaps knowledge of why his wife left him can help us persuade him," said Leokas.

   "Jayce knows where Avilda lives," said Solisar. "Nothing is stopping us from interviewing her again."

   "It sounds from the letters like Samber just cut ties and left," said Hakam. "It is highly unlikely that Avilda has any current knowledge of him."

   "Do we think that Samber is still in love with his wife?" asked Leokas. "Do you think that if we convinced her to come back with us that it could persuade him to stop his work?"

   "I highly doubt that that would be possible," said Hakam. "She is remarried with children of her own now. It also might make matters worse."

   "She may know the location of Onran and Yunoko's vacation home," said Solisar. "That is the only reason that I can think of for talking to her again."

   "Now that is an interesting thought," said Hakam. "It sounded like the four of them may have been friends."

   "Yes," said Szordin, "and we know that she was with Samber at least until after Yunoko died."

   "It sounds like returning to Lantan may be one of our next stops," said Solisar.

   "We should schedule our next steps," said Belvin. "We need to get off this humid oven of a planet soon."

   "We could, on the way to Lantan, first stop on Bral to ask about Rembas and Ronan," said Hakam.

   The others agreed.

   "We should also check back with the Interlink Consortium to learn if they have finished repairing the rod for us," said Szordrin.

   Solisar said, "Going back to Leokas' earlier question about leverage, I wonder if delivering Onran's unfished letter would convince him. They seem to have been best friends after all."

   "We should certainly keep it in our pocket as an option," said Hakam.

   "I still think that all of this is for a far later time than now, however," repeated Solisar. "We need more information and more magical power. Our best means of actually reaching his island, in my opinion, is through his portal from the Plane of Earth, yet the Plane of Earth is hostile to creatures like us. It is solid earth and stone with only rare pockets of air, and more often than not, that air is not even breathable to creatures like us. We are not even capable of surviving such a journey without knowing exactly where to go. Spells like the one on that scroll there will be helpful for such future travels, but neither Szordrin nor I understand the complexities of the Weave to be able to transfer it into our own spellbooks yet. We need more time before we worry about leverage with Samber."

   "We do not know how to find Samber's island because we were teleported off it," said Hakam, "but did not Jayce and Nargroth sail off on the repaired Daisy?"

   "Did you not explain to us that someone stole aboard the Daisy and stole all of Ombert's star charts and maps," said Solisar.

   Hakam looked frustrated. "Yes, that is right. Jayce sent the news to me magically just before we stopped Allustairimarinastralmindivu from freeing Memnon. No doubt, the someone was Samber himself. We did not suspect it at the time."

   "Ilthian told me right after that that she would be able to draw the stars above his island from her perfect memory," said Solisar. "Unfortunately, that very day was when Samber retrieved her. She never had a chance to write it in her journal."

   "They are not the only one to sail from the island," said Hakam. "We also know that the goblinoid pirates sailed from there."

   "Captain Stubs," said Leokas.

   "Would they be able to guide us back?"

   "Hobgoblins are stupid creatures," said Leokas. "I highly doubt it."

   "He is a captain; he knows how to sail a ship."

   "He lost all his limbs and has to be carried around and fed."

   "What does that have to do with navigation?"

   Leokas relented. "It is possible, I suppose. Do we know where he currently is?"

   "We know that he has left the island only because he responded to my sending before," said Hakam.

   "He is probably back to a life of piracy," said Leokas.

   "We can probably track them down if we need to," said Hakam. "It is an option. Finding a token would of course be faster."

   Leokas said, "Hakam, if we were to catch Stubs in an act of piracy, what would we do?"

   "It depends on the laws of whichever nation controls the waters in which we find him, of course," said Hakam.

   "So, then," said Solisar, "we visit Bral, then Lantan to talk with Avilda."

   "Again, I agree," said Hakam. "It would be good to learn where Onran and Yunoko kept a vacation home."

   "Finding that home can be our next primary goal," said Solisar, "as well as learning more about his wife's death."

   "...And her last mission," added Hakam, "and for that, we may need to visit Waterdeep to speak with Khelben, assuming he would grant us an audience."

   "This moon is far on the other side of the crystal sphere, is it not?" asked Leokas. "It does not make sense to visit it first."

   "Correct," said Solisar.

   "In any case," said Hakam, "I would not feel prepared to visit the moon until we have first visted Wa to learn more about this empress."

   "Bral may have an ambassador to Wa," suggested Belvin.

   "Yes, we could certainly look for one when we are there," said Hakam.

   "I strongly suspect that Wa would be interested in Lantanese smokepowder, if we need a way to gain access to an official," said Solisar.

   Szordrin remembered Sofi and glanced back at her to see her reaction to all of this. She was still standing there, looking simultaneous confused and fascinated by everything that she was hearing.

   "Sofi," asked Hakam, "you are from Sigil, are you not? It is a diverse place. Have you ever heard of any crystal spheres that are totally empty?"

   "I have never heard the term 'crystal sphere' until this hour," she replied. "What is it?"

   "Do you know how some of the Outer Planes have multiple layers?" said Solisar, and Sofi nodded. "The 'layers' of the Prime Material Plane are called crystal spheres. Each of them floats in a substance called the phlogiston, which is similar to how the Outer Planes are — at least in some sense — separated by the Astral Plane, and each is filled with planets, such as the one we are on."

   This seemed to make some sense to her. "Are the planets within a crystal sphere within the phlogiston similar to how there are realms within each of the Seven Heavens, which are in Celestia?"

   "That is a fair comparison, I think," said Solisar.

   "Have you been to any of the Seven Heavens?" asked Hakam of Sofi.

   "Oh, no; I do not think that I am holy enough to visit there," she replied. "I have been to Excelsior. That is about as close as I have ever been to Lunia."

   Only Solisar and Szordrin knew that Excelsior was what was called a gate-town, a small village on the Concordant Domain of the Outlands that had grown up around one of the sixteen portals to the Outer Planes. The Outlands were neutral territory for most of the gods and goddesses, and the portals were how their servants traveled back and forth. Excelsior was the gate-town surrounding the portal to the Seven Heavens.

   "I wonder if the prophecy about the seventh circle has to do with the Seventh Heaven," Hakam thought aloud. Then he vetoed his own idea. "No, no one travels to the Seventh Heaven; it is the place of ultimate perfection, and it has only one realm, else it would not be perfect."

   "Continuing our discussion of the empty crystal sphere," said Solisar, "we know that Samber wants to obtain apotheosis. With the knowledge of Onran's empty sphere, he will have found a place where he can create life and rule free from all the other powers."

   "We at least know that he has not learned about this empty sphere yet," said Hakam, "because Onran never sent that letter."

   "No, Onran never sent this draft of the letter," said Solisar. "There is always the possibility that he did send another version, perhaps one less condemning of Samber's actions."

   "So, he could know about it then," said Hakam soberly.

   "It is useful for us to know, but we have no means of using this knowledge for the time being," said Solisar.

   "If we find the sphere before Samber," said Belvin, "it might be used for bargaining with him."

   "If the rod from the Interlink Consortium works as advertised," said Hakam, "we can indeed retrace Onran's travels to find it."

   "The gods would not be pleased with that solution," said Solisar, "because then Samber would become a god."

   "If he were just isolated to that one sphere," said Leokas, "I suppose that he could not longer harm Toril, but what if just built up his own power until he could overturn other powers from their own realms?"

   "The gods do not want him to ascend by any means," agreed Hakam, "either within this sphere or another."

   "Well, we have a plan, then," said Belvin. "Bral it is for our first stop. So, how are we getting back to our spelljammer?"
Session: 116th Game Session - Monday, Jul 27 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
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 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Great Genie
After several minutes of questioning, they ascertained that Pharos, the ancient baelnorn guardian of the Spinning Keep, had slain Allu's archwizard, Booyagh, and that Kytharrah had been fortunate enough to be standing on the correct panel when the remains of the goblin were ejected.

   "So, we succeeded then," said Szordrin. "The genies are still entrapped."

   Just then, with no announcement, a massive being loomed over them.

   It was a humanoid male standing some 25 feet tall. He was bald and had a pointed and trimmed goatee. He was dressed in an open vest and baggy pantaloons with booted feet, looking exactly like the images of djinn from Hakam's childhood stories, except that only the most powerful of noble djinn were said to be so very large. A small gem stone seemed to be embedded in the genie's forehead.

   Leokas and Belvin stood there like stone, not knowing what to do in the presence of Calim, the great ruler of the ancient empire pre-dating Calimshan.

   "Kytharrah," said Szordrin quickly, "are you sure that you did not touch the crystal?"

   Kytharrah shook his head. The genie looked each of them over.

   "How did you escape?" asked Szordrin boldly.

   "I bided my time until I could convince her to take her revenge against the efreeti," said the enormous figure with a booming voice. "She foolishly listened.

   "Now, enough talk. Give me back my creation."

   "Begone, evil djinni!" commanded Hakam, and he tried to dispel any magic upon their visitor, but there was no effect.

   Solisar spoke to the genie in Lantanese, and the others heard a reply in the same tongue before he spoke in Common to all of them. "Tell me where she is."

   Leokas suddenly understood; this was not Calim at all. "We have escaped out of exile to put an end to your plans. It is the will of the gods!"

   "It is Samber in another form," Solisar explained to the others.

   Hakam immediately joined Leokas in protest. "You are defying the laws of nature and the multiverse! Cease at once. The gods do not permit a mere mortal to create new life at his whim, nor do they...."

   "Be still," commanded Samber with a wave of his massive genie hand toward Hakam. The Calishite cleric felt a powerful compulsion in his mind, but he overcame the magic with the force of his will.

   "Your shadow magics will not affect me!" Hakam shouted back, emboldened.

   "For whom do you seek?" asked Solisar, simply to buy time while he swiftly but secretly performed the motions required for one of his most powerful divinatory spells.

   In response, the genie simply frowned and closed his eyes. "I ask you one more time," he said, "where is she?" Suddenly, all of them felt a presence in their minds.

   "Get out of my head!" shouted Leokas, and he tried his hardest to imagine Vashti and their early adventures together, so as not to picture Ilthian and where she waited for them on the spelljammer.

   Szordrin tried to bluff. "She was a hindrance to us, so we left her in the far north, selling her as a bride to one of the primitive tribes there."

   Samber opened his eyes at this, and his frown turned into a look of confusion. They all felt a lessening of the "presence" in their heads for a brief moment, but then the "genie" smiled and looked at Kytharrah.

   "Thank you, young minotaur."

   Then the genie vanished.

   "I did not get to thank him for healing my arm," said Belvin.

   The others seemed far more concerned about other matters. "What were you thinking about?" Hakam and Szordrin asked Kytharrah simultaneously.

   "Play with Little Sister."

   "The magic alarm is triggered," said Solisar. "He is on the ship!"

   "Kytharrah can still fly," said Leokas. "He is our only chance to protect her."

   "I can go with him," said Belvin, as he hurriedly began removing his clothing and gear.

   "Fly with Belvin to the ship and protect Little Sister," Solisar instructed the minotaur.

   Belvin, now in the form of a pteranodon, shrieked and flapped his wings, taking to the air.

   "Go!" said Leokas, giving Kytharrah a little shove.


~~~~

Minotaur and pteranodon landed on the main deck. Calim's body was lying there lifeless, now barefoot. Belvin shifted back into an elven form and approached the body. Blood was on the massive body's forehead. The small gem stone that had been there was gone, leaving a tiny hole.

   "More blood," said Kytharrah. He knelt on the opposite deck by a pool of red. "Little sister."

   Small, bloody footprints led away from the main deck down the stairs. They rushed down them to Ilthian's room, finding the door open.

   Ilthian was standing there and turned to face them. She was carrying a satchel, which Belvin recognized had been hanging from Calim's belt previously. In her other hand, she held a bloody kitchen knife. She seemed to be wearing the missing pair of boots, now shrunken to fit her much smaller form. She was covered in blood, which seemed to have come from her head, but she had no clear wounds.

   "You cannot stop me," said Ilthian's voice.

   Then Samber vanished.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — Durbuluk
The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"What is so funny?" demanded Leokas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is she still here somewhere?" asked Leokas.

"She only left just recently."

"Why did she leave?" asked Solisar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Durbuluk nodded in agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Clearly I do not," Hakam replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Durbuluk shrugged again.

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

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

"Calimshan was never yours!" protested Hakam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Beyond the fire traps?" asked Hakam.

"Yes."

"How can they be disabled?"

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

"I assume that they reset."

"They do."

"Are there other traps?"

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

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

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

"Did any other hobgoblins go with Allustairimarinastralmindivu?"

"He only took Booyagh with him."

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

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

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

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's inner sanctum."

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

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

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

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

"Stole the gate?" asked Leokas.

"This gate here?" asked Hakam.

"Yes, the gate directly behind you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is there a way to destroy the portal?"

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

"Should we destroy the portal?" asked Belvin.

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

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

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

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

"It does, to the desert sands."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I have no idea," said Durbuluk.

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

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

"Bored, bored, bored," complained Kytharrah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Can you at least recall the map?"

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

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

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

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

"Perhaps in a human court," said Durbuluk.

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

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

"And risk you escaping?" said Leokas.

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

"So be it. That is only fair," answered the fiendish hobgoblin. "Lead the way."
Session: 99th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Aedda: A Calamidade
Ato III, pt 2 - A Calamidade
O Ato III ocorreu entre os dias 9º e 15º do Mês do Dragão de 2978 p.C. (pós-Criação)

O destino é algo engraçado. Você nunca sabe se está no lugar certo e na hora certa ou onde ele vai te levar. Ou então, quem você vai conhecer e que impacto isso terá no futuro. As pequenas coincidências que ocorrem no nosso dia a dia moldam toda uma cadeia de eventos que culmina no que somos hoje.

Um terremoto separou o grupo de aventureiros que voltava dos esgotos de Vom Garohm após derrotar um convento de bruxas. O primeiro grupo, composto por Àster, Akin, Dremian, Robb e Olara, caiu numa fenda criada pelo terremoto, enquanto o segundo grupo, com Nelath, Ragnar, Katyusha, Zoë e Halzin, conseguiram se segurar até que a fenda fechasse novamente.

O primeiro grupo, sem muitas opções de voltar para a superfície, decidiu explorar os túneis que se abriram perante si a fim de buscar uma saída. Durante o trajeto, conheceram um trio de drows que fugia de um quarto drow recentemente transformado em drider pela malévola Rainha Aranha, Lolth. Com a promessa de que ajudariam o trio a encerrar o sofrimento do amigo em troca de direções para a superfície, uma aliança foi forjada. No dia seguinte, a criatura veio de encontro ao grupo, e com um um esforço conjunto, pereceu. Áster, com sua imensa devoção a Tyr e à Triade, fez um ritual de purificação no corpo do drider, que trouxe sua presença à Rainha Aranha, e a irritou.

Enquanto isso, o segundo grupo concluiu a missão, trazendo Finelien Windhorn, uma das regentes da cidade que estava desaparecida, de volta. Logo no dia seguinte voltaram ao subterrâneo para encontrar seus amigos. O começo dessa busca, no entanto, mostrou o quanto a arrogância pode ser fatal, quando o grupo se viu cercado por uma trupe de goblins e de seu proclamado rei, um hobgoblin chamado Kuktat. Mesmo vendo sua desvantagem estratégica, Nelath continuou lutando, para logo em seguida ser dominada pelo rei, que a levou para seu covil, enquanto Kathy se viu executada pelas flechas dos goblins após acertar Kuktat com um Scorching Ray.

Em cativeiro, o segundo grupo precisava achar uma forma de sair das mãos de Kuktat. Felizmente, Arkud, o anão que cuidava da biblioteca de Vom Garohm, Tinta & Pena, que havia sido descartado pelas bruxas e, a partir de um acordo com o rei dos goblins, virou o cuidador dos prisioneiros. Uma vez sozinho com os prisioneiros , os instruiu dos desafios que poderiam esperar de Kuktat. Em troca, pediu para que o levassem de volta à superfície e junto com ele, Moi, uma svirfneblin que viveu sua vida inteira nas profundezas. No dia seguinte, Nelath foi desafiada a uma série combate (como previsto por Arkud) e em troca conseguiria a liberdade de seus aliados. Surpreendendo a todos com sua proeza em combate, Nelath derrotou cada inimigo que o rei goblin colocava em sua frente. Frustrado e impressionado, Kuktat pulou o último desafio, trazendo o maior guerreiro de sua coleção, um minotauro enlouquecido com o tempo em cativeiro. Seguro de que seu campeão destruiria a centaura em um único golpe, o hobgoblin permitiu que ela escolhesse dois companheiros para lhe prestar assistência, e Nelath decide por chamar Ragnar e Halzin. O combate se mostra brutal, com Nelath e Ragnar caindo inconscientes, mas Halzin felizmente garantindo o golpe final. A dupla é estabilizada e eles caminham para fora do covil. Já longe, eles montam acampamento, e ganham um tempo para descansar e honrar a vida de sua aliada falecia, e Ragnar se abre com Moi, contando um pouco do seu passado. No dia seguinte, encontram o drider purificado, e com a certeza de que estão no caminho correto, seguem viagem.

O primeiro grupo, seguindo caminho, começa a notar a presença de Lolth no seu trajeto, sendo atacada por grupos de aranhas. Durante o descanso, Áster é confrontada novamente pela Rainha Aranha, quase curvando sob seu poder, mas provando como sua devoção a Tyr é mais poderosa e expulsando qualquer resquício de Lolth em seu espírito. Essa batalha interna, porém, levou a paladina a um coma. Com Robb carregando Áster pelo caminho, o grupo seguiu viagem, passando por um posto avançado de drows sem chamar atenção, e chegando no que parecia ser o refúgio de um aventureiro, com um baú fechado. Adentrando o refúgio, o curioso Akin descobre que o baú está sendo guardado, quando uma estranha criatura, com vários olhos, o ataca. O confronto se mostra simples, e o pequeno kenku descobre uma bolsa mágica, contendo várias moedas de platina e alguns itens.

No dia seguinte, Áster acorda e o primeiro grupo segue viagem, para encontrar um grupo de inimigos composto por mais mais aranhas, uma delas gigantesca e um par de drows. Felizmente, o segundo grupo consegue chegar de encontro ao primeiro, e a força em números se mostra suficiente para derrotar os seguidores de Lolth. Mais três dias seguem até o grupo, agora reunido, chegasse a Vom Garohm. Na cidade, os aventureiros dividem as experiências que passaram na última semana, e decidem acompanhar Zoë e Olara até Thaldell, em Valenheim e posteriormente para Ark'hala. Nelath, no entanto, tem outros planos, decidindo seguir ao Norte, para concluir sua exploração do continente de Umend e suas diferentes sociedades. Ela presenteia todos com quem passou um tempo considerável um nome centáurico e pede a Ragnar que dê um enterro digno para Kathy.

Sem Kathy e Nelath, os aventureiros sentem um vazio surgindo, mas com a adição da curiosa Moi e um futuro brilhante a frente, não há o que lamentar no momento, somente esperar o que os deuses lhes prepararam.

fin


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