Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour (Updated 29 Jan 2014) - Page 21





  1. #201
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    *grin* I think you will find this very interesting then....
    And that's a really neat idea - have you thought of writing it up for Planewalker?
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  • #202
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    No, I haven't. I don't know if they would be interested, by the way -- my homebrew's cosmology is very different from Planescape.

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    In the idea at least they might - I mean it's neat, it has planar ties - sounds cool to *me* at least.
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  • #204
    Quote Originally Posted by Clueless
    In fact - any speculations at all guys? I know you like this - I wanna hear where you think it's going. (Plus it rubs Shemmie's ego so delightfully he may post more, faster.)
    You want specing? I'll give you spec-ing, especially if you think it'll hurry up the next installment.

    First of, I was pondering the identity of the Cheshire Fiend- my first thought was A'kin, but that's no good. Shemeska's involved in the Wheels within Wheels so A'kin probably isn't, and besides, A'kin is too obvious. It could be any of the Arcanaloth, but my best guess is Vorkannis, who seems to be running the Arcanaloth Plot.

    This in turn leads to the identity of Vorkannis- who just walked out of the waste one day, full grown, and rose swiftly through the ranks. Who speaks the language of the Baern. Who's pulling a lot of strings.
    This has all the hallmarks of a Baernaloth. Sadistic, manipulative, brilliant, knowledgable... and able to bypass even the most potent defenses.

    The next question is why Vorkannis appears to be rubbing off the Ultroloths. There's a reason beyond pure malice- though what I can't imagine. I need more peices of the puzzle for that to come clear- it's like trying to see the design in a mosiac where the tiles are a mile wide. And I don't have a helicopter or an airplane.

    Another question is why all the meddling in the factions from whoever it was that originally blackmailed the party. (another thing I can't figure out. Clearly the Mercanes have dealings with the 'loths, but which group had them do the blackmailing? I'm guessing, based loosly on Clueless's memories, that its Wheels within Wheels- they're the ones who screwed him over I'm thinking) Why bother with the Incantarium or with the Factol of a split Faction? The Incantarium isn't too hard to guess- something to do with whatever it was that Shekelor found in Pandemonium. Based on something I recall Shemmy saying over on the WotC boards a long time ago, I'm going to guess its centered around the legendary Harmonica... but what about Nilesia? I'm not sure how to fit her in...

    That's my attempt at spec-ing for now.



    That was kinda incoherant. Maybe I should go to sleep before I pass out and then short out the keyboard with drool.
    Last edited by Ohtar Turinson; Thursday, 9th September, 2004 at 05:00 AM.

  • #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gez
    No, I haven't. I don't know if they would be interested, by the way -- my homebrew's cosmology is very different from Planescape.
    It sounds like a cool idea and a different cosmology has never prevented me from getting ideas bubbling up in my head from them.

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    It's 3:30am, I can't sleep, and I'm writing this week's update currently

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohtar Turinson
    You want specing? I'll give you spec-ing, especially if you think it'll hurry up the next installment.

    First of, I was pondering the identity of the Cheshire Fiend- my first thought was A'kin, but that's no good. Shemeska's involved in the Wheels within Wheels so A'kin probably isn't, and besides, A'kin is too obvious. It could be any of the Arcanaloth, but my best guess is Vorkannis, who seems to be running the Arcanaloth Plot.
    Two years later they're still popping up like a bad penny, and their identity is still unresolved. Their allegiences are made fairly apparent about 2-3 plot arcs from the current point in the story hour.

    This in turn leads to the identity of Vorkannis- who just walked out of the waste one day, full grown, and rose swiftly through the ranks. Who speaks the language of the Baern. Who's pulling a lot of strings.
    This has all the hallmarks of a Baernaloth. Sadistic, manipulative, brilliant, knowledgable... and able to bypass even the most potent defenses.
    Another question that's still hanging like a sword of damocles in the campaign. It gets disturbingly murky and leads to some unlikely places, people and planes. His motivations and relationship to certain persons make themselves apparent gradually, but that's where I have the flow chart

    I certainly can't fault your logic on this one, but I won't say if you're correct or not yet. Keep the points in mind as you learn more and more, lots more, characters get introduced that have a roll in this all.

    The next question is why Vorkannis appears to be rubbing off the Ultroloths. There's a reason beyond pure malice- though what I can't imagine. I need more peices of the puzzle for that to come clear- it's like trying to see the design in a mosiac where the tiles are a mile wide. And I don't have a helicopter or an airplane.
    Aint that that truth, and there's still an entire half of the metaplot that hasn't been introduced yet, not a drop of it. All in good time.

    But as to why he's appearing to be rubbing off the Ultroloths, it's a bit more, and less than that. At once what he's attempting to do is much broader and much more select than bumping off a few well placed Ultroloths. The answer to this particular question is coming sooner than later, after the conclusion of the next plot arc.

    Another question is why all the meddling in the factions from whoever it was that originally blackmailed the party. (another thing I can't figure out. Clearly the Mercanes have dealings with the 'loths, but which group had them do the blackmailing? I'm guessing, based loosly on Clueless's memories, that its Wheels within Wheels- they're the ones who screwed him over I'm thinking) Why bother with the Incantarium or with the Factol of a split Faction? The Incantarium isn't too hard to guess- something to do with whatever it was that Shekelor found in Pandemonium. Based on something I recall Shemmy saying over on the WotC boards a long time ago, I'm going to guess its centered around the legendary Harmonica... but what about Nilesia? I'm not sure how to fit her in...
    You'll find Clueless's memories flooding back within the next plot arc or so, I've already gotten them written up actually. I will say that the Imshenviir mercane are only middlemen, competant but ultimately disposable ones at that.

    The faction meddling and maze diving, and the purpose behind them will become apparent in part soon, and in part over the long haul because a portion of it I didn't revist for over a year and a half real time. And some of it got a 'Holy S***!?!' from my players. One of those times I simply get to sit back and smile for having pulled a Rat Bastard DM moment.

    And yes, the Harmonica will be making an appearance down the road, both as a backdrop to a plot arc in Pandemonium, and to a lesser extent as a freestanding question that's still lingering in the campaign currently. And keep in mind that there are such things as tangent plots that may never get fully revisited in the campaign, being only there for backplot and atmosphere. But if that occurs, or rather, when it occurs, I'll give some explanations about what was actually going on since it might not be central to the core metaplot.

    *grins with glee* Thanks for the speculation. *GRIN*

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    Told ya it'd work. (At least to get him talking more.)

    Shemmie seems to post more often when there's ego stroking involved. No ego stroking? Then it's bloody near impossible to get a 'peep' out of him ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clueless
    Told ya it'd work. (At least to get him talking more.)

    Shemmie seems to post more often when there's ego stroking involved. No ego stroking? Then it's bloody near impossible to get a 'peep' out of him ...
    "HIM" ??? Oh well it figures. The dresses Shemmie wears are for pretty people as well so I suppose it fits.

    Now if we could just figure out how to keep the doggy off the furniture...

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    Cross-dressing Arcanaloth, remember?

    Not that it matters much with fiendish biology, anyway...

  • #210
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    Stormclouds gather on the Waste while a coterie of familiar faces return to Sigil

    Toras glanced into a small, interior garden nested within the confines of the mercanes’ castle. The high walls of the keep rose up on all sides while a small pool occupied the center of the garden, its surface mostly covered by lotus blossoms and more exotic red stalked water lilies. From behind the half-celestial, Skalliska glanced oddly at the plants.

    “In case anyone cares to take a minute and sniff the flowers, don’t, the lilies are poisonous. Expensive and they’ll fetch a nice price from some herbalists I know, but nasty things…” The kobold said to the others.

    “An ever better price on the Night Market!” Nisha quipped from behind the kobold.

    “In any event you two go in and find that concealed door, we’ll cover you.” Clueless said, casting a nervous glance behind himself to the empty corridor.

    A moment later, and a few whispered threats by the tiefling to the kobold regarding ‘finding out if she could swim’ and ‘wondering if they had sharks in the pool’ later, the two rogues had opened a hidden panel concealed cleverly behind a piece of finished stone. Yet another giggled taunt to the kobold by the tiefer later and a door stood open to a short stairwell leading up to the mercane’s alchemy laboratory.

    “Wait… something’s wro…” Tristol said, the moment before a fireball detonated in the center of the group, leaving only Nisha and Skalliska unharmed by virtue of their near simultaneous leaps into the center of the pool. As the companions blinked and winced at the burns and smell of scorched flesh and fur, they watched as the air in the corridor shimmered and three forms stepped into view, two clay golems in the shape of gargoyles and the third mercane brother.

    “Son of a b**** was waiting for us out there the whole time!” Florian cursed before raising his axe to deflect a blow from one of the charging golems.

    As the golems attacked, the mercane stood safetly away from the heat of combat, hurling spells to slow and hamper his opponents, nothing so offensive as his fireball from before. At least, he did so until he had a flurry of magic missiles and crossbow bolts fire in his direction from Nisha and the kobold.

    “Some help Tristol, please, these damn golems aren’t taking the damage they should be. And I don’t happen to have a collection of clubs to use instead of a sword.” Toras shouted out as he blocked a punch by one of the clay golems before smacking it to marginal effect with the flat of his blade.

    “Working on it…” Tristol said as he watched his companions being outclassed by the constructs due to their personal choice of weapons; all blades. Already Florian and Toras were bruised and bleeding from heavy blows, despite their armor, and Clueless, by virtue of his quickness, was the only one to not be hit yet. However, despite that, the bladesinger hadn’t done any damage to the golems, his sword cuts simply cutting deep and leaving no lasting impression in their bodies.

    “Ack!” Nisha said as she dived out of the way to avoid a lightning bolt sent in her direction courtesy of the mercane who managed to cast the spell despite one of Skalliska’s bolts buried to the fletches in his side.

    But as the battle continued Tristol cast a spell and one of the golems seemed to gain a sudden consistency, and suddenly the hail of blows landing on its previously resistant surface began to chop and gouge chunks of semi-soft stone from its body. While the effect was brief, the golem was hacked to unmoving chunks before its body returned to its normal clay.

    Florian backed away from the immediate battle as Tristol prepared to cast again, this time at the other golem, and the cleric began to cast a spell of his own, at the mercane. As the aasimar’s spell took effect and their companions began doing the damage they would have done already were it normally susceptible to their blows, Florian whispered a prayer to hold and constrain the mercane wizard.

    “And you think that my brothers would allow you to simply walk into my laboratory and take an antidote that doesn’t exist? They will be here in moments and you will yearn to…” The mercane’s words were silenced as he went still and rigid, held locked in place by the force of Florian’s spell.

    Nisha and Skalliska sloshed out of the pool as the others walked to the mercane, stepping over the broken remnants of the clay golem as it returned to its previous consistency. Toras knelt next to the prone form of the blue skinned wizard, his sword held under its chin; Florian took a spot next to him, his axe held out for instant use.

    “Your brothers are already dead and you can join them quickly or we can make it last far longer than it needs to. Tell us the name of the antidote and where to find it and you can spare yourself a great deal of suffering.” Clueless said in a flat voice that seemed devoid of sympathy.

    “Which is a far better fate than you would have dealt to myself and Tristol here… Tempus knows you deserve far worse, but we’re offering you a way out quickly, just tell us what we need to know when this spell wears off, oh in about a dozen seconds or so.” Florian said as he lowered his axe slightly.

    Fyrehowl sighed with resignation at the likelihood of impending torture as the mercane remained silent for several minutes before finally realizing that his brothers, by not returning his mental calls for help, were very much dead indeed. Realizing this, the mercane whispered “Gallows Adder, in the locked cabinet in the lab” before Florian’s axe came crashing down, severing his head from his shoulders quickly and efficiently.

    “Alright, we know what we need to know, let’s go find it now and have this over with finally.” Tristol said as he took the first step up the stairwell to the mercane’s lab with the others in tow.


    The interior of the alchemy lab was sprawling, with gigantic brass vessels and lines of copper pipes lining the walls. Shelves of herbs, chemicals, and once living specimens of exotic and rare animals lines the walls above and between the cauldrons. Tristol was seemingly lost, scouring the shelves out of both raw intellectual curiosity and a fervent desire, and need, to find the cure that the mercane had possessed. After all, no fool would create and use a poison if they had no antidote in case of accidental exposure.

    “Oh wow, this place is so neat!” Nisha said with glee as she watched, mesmerized, a self-stirring mortar and pestle as it rotated around, grinding away at nothing in particular.

    “Nisha? Can you come over and… nevermind.” Tristol said as Florian broke the door off of the locked cabinet he had been trying to open.

    Inside the cabinet were a series of bottles, each embossed with a glowing symbol representing a single alchemical poison. The central and smallest bottle was marked with the name of the poison that had affected them, ‘Gallows Adder’.

    His hands shaking, Tristol opened the vial and drank a third of its contents before dripping a similar amount down his familiar’s throat as it stuck its vulpine snout out of the familiar pocket it had been hiding within before handing it to Florian who did the same. The effect was near instantaneous as they shuddered and dropped to the ground. The two of them regained consciousness and looked up into the concerned faces of Fyrehowl and Nisha.

    “Good? Bad? Harmonium? What happened?” The tiefling asked, her tail nearly curled into the shape of a question mark behind her.

    Florian blinked and Tristol squinted for a moment before they both smiled. “Aside from a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I’m feeling remarkably better. I’m still never eating in the Fortune’s Wheel again, but I’m doing good.” The mage smiled and had it returned peachily by the tiefling.

    “I’ll be buying drinks on the house for us all in our soon to be owned inn back in Sigil. Foehammer be praised, I’m feeling ten times better.” Florian grinned.

    “And judging by the contents of the mercanes’ vault and the stock of this lab, you’ll be buying a round of Heartsblood wine and not even feeling a dent in your funds.” Fyrehowl smiled as she looked at the rare stock of alchemical reagents and herbs that decorated the shelves.

    “And on that note, I get to go loot to my hearts content!” Nisha said, skipping from the room like an exuberant child given far too much sugar. The others could only chuckle and follow.


    The next six hours were spent fully exploring the rest of the mercane’s keep, taking an exhaustive inventory of the contents of each of the rooms, locating and disarming any remaining traps both magical and mundane, and discovering some interesting things in the process.

    “And just what in Baator is this thing?” Florian asked as Tristol and Skalliska circled a large device situated within one of the rooms that was located off of a side passage from Dalmar Imshenviir’s study. Looking like a series of concentric metal rings that rotated around a central pedestal, each of them embossed with symbols corresponding to certain planes. Opposite the device was a circular ring upon the wall.

    “Well as best I can guess this relates to what you said earlier, Clueless, about a portal key 5. There’s a spot here to place something in the center of this thing, and probably that along with turning the device to a specific alignment of symbols might open up a portal…” Tristol mused.

    “That’s exactly what it is. I’ve heard that the mercane were trying to make something like this, only problem being that the portals they make are one way and that they appear randomly on the target plane. Not really that useful unless you have some stiff magic of your own to get around once you get there.” Skalliska added.

    “So we’ve got a ‘dial-a-portal’ now? That’s awesome!” Florian said.

    “Not quite… we don’t know the proper alignments to make it activate, and we don’t know the portal keys for them all. Somehow I doubt the mercane actually kept a log of them all, and from all the clutter of stuff around here I doubt we’d know if anything were a spell component, alchemy component, knickknack, or portal key. It’s going to take some time and serious effort to figure it out.” Tristol answered.

    “Still… from this is looks like they had access to the four cardinal elemental planes, lightning quasielemental plane, Baator, Gehenna, the Waste, Arborea, and the Outlands. Nice…” Skalliska said as she fiddled with some of the dials on the device.

    “Hmm. Well we’ve got time now that we don’t have to worry about any of us dropping dead from poison. Might be worth our while to come back and mess with this at some point.” Clueless said.

    “Let’s find out what else they’ve got. There was a locked supply room down the hall I’m itching to break into!” Nisha said, barely constraining her urge to bolt and check it out.


    Shortly thereafter the group stood in a dusty series of chambers that were mostly filled wall to wall with large objects underneath dusty canvas tarps, seemingly packed away for long term storage. While Nisha was standing beneath one of the loose tarps, waving her arms around and making, “Booooooo….” noises like the proverbial ghost in a white sheet, Toras looked quizzically at a large metal object that rested underneath.

    “What is that?” He asked, glancing back at the others.

    “You know, if I had to say something it sorta looks like a hacked up part of a ship’s keel.” Florian said.

    “No, not hacked up. More just taken apart and stowed.” Fyrehowl added.

    “Booooo…..”, Nisha said, obviously having too much fun playing specter.

    “Actually, it kind of reminds me of a flying ship from my homeland back in Halruaa…” Tristol said.

    “… we have a spelljammer…” Skalliska said, letting the meaning of the statement sink in.

    “Boooo… huh… we what?!” The ‘ghost’ under the tarp paused and stopped before laughing and jumping up and down.

    Skalliska spent the next few minutes explaining to her fellows just what a Spelljammer was, what the mercane used them for, and how the ship was lacking a spelljamming helm and thus any ability to actually fly.

    “Actually… I’ve got an idea for it. But we’ll handle that later once we’ve had Bartol’in’the’bag sign over his inn to us when we get back to Sigil.” Clueless said with a grin that screamed out ‘trust me on this one’.


    The next room of interest that they discovered was just down the hallway from the chamber in which they had originally met the mercane brothers before being sent to the deep ethereal. In fact they all stopped dead in their tracks once they saw the door since it was emblazoned in an ornate symbol of the Mercykillers.

    “Well damn. They went out of their way to make the barmy feel at home didn’t they?” Clueless said.

    Nisha looked at Clueless and held up a lockpick curiously. “Go right ahead, we’re just as rabidly curious as you are.” Fyrehowl said as the tiefling started to pop the lock.

    “…Well crap. Forget what I said before…” Clueless said as they opened the door to the room and looked into its interior. The room had no exits and was empty except for a single chair. A small amount of blood was spattered on the floor near to the chair and Fyrehowl wrinkled her nose.

    “Fiend stench…” the lupinal said, turning away in distaste.

    “So much for a friendly debriefing for the nutcase…” Toras said as he glanced at the small bloodstain on the floor. “Definitely not fiend or mercane blood.”

    “Weird, I wonder what they did with her.” Florian said as they left the room and finished their search of the castle.

    The last tasks they performed within the keep was finding the kitchen and serving staff, as well as the two scribes, from where they had been hiding and letting them know that the castle had new owners. In fact they even offered to continue paying them their normal wages even in the absence of the mercane. That they had the mercane’s more than substantial finances, courtesy of “Dalmar Imshenviir’s generous donation” according to Nisha, the group could more than afford to pay the servants to continue upkeep of the castle. The lone remaining guard was released, apologized to, and sent packing with a bit of jink back to one of the gatetowns.

    The trip back to Sigil was uneventful in light of their time spent in the demiplane, and their hearts were lifted by their success, and their minds curious to tumble to the dark of what they had discovered in the mercane patriarch’s notebooks. Nisha kept asking to play with Tristol’s familiar most of the way back, and Skalliska was largely preoccupied with making a mental tally of just how much, down to the last bent copper, her share of the mercane’s vault would come to. Clueless was mostly preoccupied thinking about the illusion he had seen in the mercane prison, and of his two former companions, both of whom had appeared to have similar gemstones in one of their ankles, exactly like him. They had been with him in Carceri, and whatever had happened to them there had not been pleasant, and it likely wasn’t over either.


    ****

    “And sir, if you would please sign on the bottom of pages three through twelve, in duplicate and you sir as well please.” The minor functionary in the Hall of Information’s Sigil Property Bureau drolled on and pointed a stubby, ink stained finger at the paperwork spread out on the counter in front of Clueless, Florian, and Skalliska as a haggard Bartol Trenevain slowly added his signatures to the documents that would officially cede to them his title to the former Ubiquitous Wayfarer.

    Clueless added his signature alongside Trenevain’s and the others’, and after each time, the half-fey smiled at the genasi as the aasimar clerk stamped that page of the document with a wax seal.

    Trenevain looked depressed and resigned as he signed over his ill-gotten gains to the same people he had first screwed over. Florian patted him on the back and Clueless gave him an ironic grin as the clerk stamped the final seal into place and made the transfer official.

    “And just so we’re clear on this, I really wouldn’t think about trying to take any sort of revenge for this. It’s really only fair you know, given what you did to us in the first place. And we did, after all, save your life in that mercane prison…” Florian said with a smile on his face.

    “And just to make sure here, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to leave Sigil for the next while…” Clueless said, calmly resting his hand on his sword’s hilt.

    Trenevain stopped and looked up at the bladesinger, “And where else would I go? Whoever I was working for is going to kill me sooner or later anyways. They’re working with fiends and just that by itself makes Sigil one of the safer places I could be. I’m not going to exactly be welcomed on any of the upper planes to seek shelter there now will I?”

    “Stay in town and if we have any questions later we’ll get in touch with you. Understand?” Clueless said back with a tone of finality. Trenevain sighed and walked off.

    “Thank you for rescuing me. By the next time we speak though I may be dead, I don’t have any illusions of a long life.” The genasi sighed as he stepped out into the street of the Clerk’s Ward and vanished into the crowd.

    Fyrehowl looked over at Clueless, “Do you think that they’ll do something to him? Also, for that matter, that they’ll do anything to get back at us? After all, we’re supposed to be dead if they had had their way.”

    Clueless nodded to the lupinal, “It’s a worry to be sure…”

    “Why go out of their way though? We don’t know who they are even, so why risk letting us find out by sending someone after us?” Toras suggested.

    “True. Let’s hope so.” Clueless replied as they all walked the thirteen blocks or so between the Hall of Information and the building that tied all of them together, the bar and inn former known as the Ubiquitous Wayfairer.

    As they reached the building they all looked at one another and at the daylight appearance of the boarded up former inn. Nisha walked up to the front door and stuck her tongue out at it before kicking it with her left hoof. “At least it won’t mouth back like last time now.”

    “I think it’s going to need some work,” Florian said, looking at the graffiti that sprawled across much of the outside of the building.

    “Needs paint.” Nisha said.

    “Need’s a gimmick if we want to get customers. The place shut down for a reason you know. It used to have tons of permanent portals and when they largely vanished after the Tempest of Doors, so did most of the customers.” Skalliska stated then paused to look at Clueless, “Why are you grinning like that Clueless?”

    “We need a gimmick, right?” He said to a chorus of nods, “We have a spelljammer, yes?” There was another bunch of nods. “We have it built right into the inn, use part of it for the bar, have some rooms be rooms from the ship itself, and have the hull of it sticking out of the side of the building like it just dropped out of the sky and crashed into the place.”

    Clueless was all grins and charisma as the others paused and thought about it. They all seemed to like it and it was decided on that they would indeed have it shipped in pieces back from the demiplane and constructed into the inn itself. But, as for a name, they weren’t so sure. Various ideas were tossed about as they walked into the inn and took seats at one of the ash-covered tables. Finally however, Nisha came up with one that seemed to get a consensus, ‘The Portal Jammer’.

    The rest of the day was spent exploring the inn, evicting a number of rats from the cellar, and having Tristol wander from room to room detecting for possible portals, which there were a small number of. Aside from a stable portal back to their mercane’s demiplane there was a portal to elemental fire in the doorway leading from the bar back to the stockroom. There was also a portal to Limbo in a bedroom, a portal to some unknown layer of the Abyss in the frame of a broken window on the third floor, and several doors to other rooms that rotated through destinations at random, though the key was thankfully fixed and obscure on all of them.

    The next days were spent speaking to various persons to get the inn back into proper shape and allow it to be opened back in a functional capacity in short order. They spent a day talking to their cooks and other servants back in the demiplane and arranging for them to be hired on to operate their new inn back in Sigil. Another day was spent contracting a builder and their crew to make the needed repairs and revisions as the spelljammer was brought into Sigil bit by bit. And a final day was spent buying a steady supply of food and spirits, the absolutely essential requirement for an establishment as they wished the Portal Jammer to become.

    Those first few days they roomed in other inns across the city, but eventually moved into rooms of their own on the second floor of their own inn once it was cleaned and the rooms were worthy of living within, unlike the abandoned building it had been before, filled with dust, rats, and other vermin. Skalliska was an exception however, as she already had a place of her own, and so while she dropped by the Portal Jammer daily, she spent a large chunk of her time at her office. Nisha meanwhile was in and out seemingly at random, flitting from place to place and never seeming to be around till people actually began to wonder if she had fallen through a portal and gotten lost.


    ****


    Clueless looked up at the outside of the inn and the Spelljammer that looked like it had simply dropped out of the sky and crash-landed in the side of the building. And, judging by the reactions of the people passing by on the street, the gimmick was drawing people’s attention as well. Already they had had a dozen or more of the people who worked in the area stop by and ask them what the place was, where they got the jammer from, and when they would be open.

    “It still need’s a little something…” Nisha said, walking up behind Clueless. She was carrying an armload of bright orange pumpkins. Clueless raised an eyebrow and looked at her.

    “What’s with the pumpkins? And speaking of it, where the heck have you been since we got back to Sigil?”

    “Places. You know me, all over and back again. Finding rich peo… fiends in the Hive willing to donate to a young tiefling lass with a pretty smile and quicker hands? Something like that.” She replied with a smile as she walked past him and into the as yet unopened inn.

    Tristol laughed as Nisha walked up the stairs to her room carrying the armload of pumpkins and he walked out to stand and look up at the jammer with the bladesinger. “Just how completely did you have the ship rebuilt? I know it’s lacking a spelljamming helm, but otherwise was it complete?” The wizard asked curiously.

    “Pretty much, heck I even had the ballistae and the catapults rigged back up again. Our inn is armed if we ever tire of the competition.” He laughed, joking with the last comment. Joking about the competition, not about the inn being armed.

    Tristol squinted and looked up at the Spelljammer and the roof of the inn. Clueless did the same as they watched a figure step out a window, scale part of the side of the building and hop onto the deck of the ship. All done while carrying a satchel of somethings round and heavy…

    “Did you say they had catapults up there?” Tristol asked, slightly nervous.

    “Yes. Why?” Clueless said.

    “Because Nisha’s up on the ship and I just watched her walk upstairs a few minutes ago with an armload of pumpkins…”

    “Oh s***!” Clueless said as the air was split by a loud *KACHUNK* and a brilliant orange missile was flung skyward, going around half a block before splattering across the cobblestones, barely missing a random collection of sigilians.

    Clueless’s wings came out and he hurtled up towards the roof as Tristol ran back inside, both of their heads suddenly filled with the horrible image of a pumpkin firing off from the top of their inn to crown a randomly passing by Dabus…

    A chorus of “AWWWW…!!!!” from a tiefling who had her fun spoiled was the norm for the next while as Clueless confiscated Nisha’s pumpkins and had Tristol help him to dismantle the catapults on the spelljammer that had previously been left in place. Nisha didn’t stay unhappy for long, in fact, ten minutes later she was smiling once more and giggling to herself as she sat on the cobblestones in front of the inn, gazing up at the spelljammer stuck into the side of the building.

    “No good is going to come of that you know?” clueless said, looking out the front window of the inn with Tristol, both of them wary of the next idea that popped up from the seemingly endless well of otherwise crazy ideas the Xaositect tiefling seemed to possess.

    “At least she’s a giddy, ‘I want to have fun’, Xaositect as opposed to one of the ‘Lets go burn something down and then build a wall around somebody’s house while they’re sleeping’ type of Xaositect. You have to admit that’s probably a plus.” Tristol said with amusement as he looked out at Nisha.

    “I’ve certainly had more fun in my life, or something like that, since I’ve been here in Sigil around you all. Better than being back home. And speaking of that I should probably send word to my family that I haven’t married a succubus or gotten eaten by a goristro at some point.” Tristol continued on, taking a periodic sip of one of the new ales they had purchased for the inn.


    Several hours passed and it grew close to peak as the smog in the sky seemed to glow a bit more than its already meager amount of what passed for daylight. Clueless was sitting down and eating lunch in the taproom that was slowly taking shape day by day as Fyrehowl walked in through the front door, tired but smiling.

    “Where you been all day?” Clueless asked after swallowing a bite of his dinner.

    “Oh, actually I’ve been at the Great Gymnasium. You mentioned it a little while back and I went to take a look myself. There’s some pretty interesting people there, and their philosophy is rather… interesting.” Fyrehowl answered, taking a seat next to him.

    “Really? You buy all of that mysticism?” He asked.

    “Oh don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone out and joined them or anything, but at the very least I’ve been keeping my swordplay sharp. There’s some skilled people there and they’re more than willing to teach.” She said as she poured herself an ale of her own.

    At that point Nisha finally walked back into the inn, carrying an assorted jumble of things including more pumpkins and a cutlass. Clueless gave her a look like a mother to a naughty child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

    “Nisha…?” Clueless said.

    “It’s not what you think. I was just out with my boyfriend and got a bunch of stuff. I already know I’m not allowed to toss pumpkins, or any other sort of fruit or vegetable, off the roof at people. Spoilsport. But this is for something else and you can’t forbid what you don’t know about before it happens.” The tiefling said as she grinned and walked upstairs to her room, clip’clopping all the way up the stairs.

    “The girl is going to be the death of us all one of these days. By mazing most likely. I’m not sure I want to know what she’s got planned. But keep an eye out for whatever mischief she gets into, alright?” Clueless said as he finished his lunch.

    “Sure thing.” Fyrehowl replied with a smile.

    Several more hours passed and Clueless went off to visit his girlfriend, leaving Fyrehowl sitting alone in the taproom, as Toras was off speaking to a member of his church’s clergy, Tristol was bottled up in his room reading over the spellbooks he had acquired recently, Skalliska was at her own office, and Florian was out doing something.

    It was at that point that Florian came walking in the front door to sit down next to the lupinal. “We have money now.” He said.

    “Yeah, and?” Fyrehowl said slowly.

    “Shopping. I have the urgent desire to go spend some of it without real concern for anything else. Care to come with me?” Florian asked.

    Fyrehowl chuckled and gave Florian a wry grin, “Everything considered, yeah there’s a reason why you’d ask me to. I figure Nisha might have been on the list, except the powers only know where she’s been since we got back to Sigil, wandering in and out randomly, though I guess that fits her. That and she’d be liable to pilfer half the store before you looked at the first few shelves.”

    “Yeah, there is that. She mentioned something about “her boyfriend” the other day though, so maybe that’s where she’s been. So, up for it?”

    “Why not, I’ve been practicing at the Gymnasium most of the morning so I guess I could take some time off to have some fun.”

    And so Florian and Fyrehowl, both of them with two swollen coin pouches, went from shop to shop, moving through the Clerk’s Ward to the Grand Bazaar and then to the Lower Ward, deciding to hit a few stores there before turning back to avoid wandering through the Hive. Near the end of their planned spending spree they stood outside of a small shop nestled in the heart of the Lower Ward, the low cloud cover gracing the top of the roof a pale yellow and a fine carpet of soot dusting their feet from the pyres at the heart of the Great Foundry a dozen blocks away. The name of the shop was proudly displayed on the carved wooden and hand painted sign that swung in the breeze over the shop’s doorway: * A’kin’s * The Friendly Fiend.

    Fyrehowl raised an eyebrow at Florian questioningly, “You sure this shop is a good idea? You know, the whole ‘fiend’ thing and all?”

    “Oh, but this is different. This is A’kin’s shop, A’kin the Friendly Fiend. And true to the name he’s just that, he’s friendly. I’d heard about the place before but I’ve never been inside to actually meet him. As far as anyone knows, he’s never once in anyone’s memory has he been mean to anyone. Supposedly he’s quite pleasant. But let’s find out.” Florian replied as he opened the door and gestured the wary lupinal inside.

    The door closed behind them with the pleasant jingle of a silver bell hanging over the inside surface of the door. The shop was an exercise in controlled clutter, with tables and shelves sprawling with a wonderfully eclectic mixture of odds, ends, and assorted knickknacks from a dozen or more planes. A moment after the bell jingled and the door closed, the figure of the shopkeeper turned from where he was dusting a few items on a shelf. The friendly fiend was dressed in a wizard’s robe of speckled gold and teal and the ears framing his jackals head were decorated by a dozen or more earrings. A’kin was all smiles as opposed to a sulfur tinged buyer and seller of souls like most of his kin.

    “Greetings and welcome!” The arcanaloth smiled a wide grin over his face as he walked over to the front desk of the small shop and retrieved a small brass dish that he held out to his customers as he walked over to greet them.

    “Arcadian mint?” The smiling ‘loth asked as he held out the dish. Florian picked one up and chewed it with a smile. Still wary, Fyrehowl picked one up as well and nibbled at it.

    “Oh, don’t be scared, I won’t bite. Believe me, I’m not at all like people expect.” A’kin said.

    Fyrehowl tentatively smiled, “You’ll excuse me from being unused to a smiling fiend. Most of my experiences have been bad ones.”

    “Then I’m pleased to present you with an exception. Rest assured, it usually celestials that have the oddest expressions on their faces after meeting me for the first time. I like to think it’s because of the wonderful things I have for sale in here that they just can’t decide on what to get and they leave all confused; something like that. But please do look around and let me know if you need help with anything.” A’kin said with a wink as he walked over to a shelf lined with a series of dolls. “I think that you might like these. I just had them delivered this morning, but I think that they’re delightful, much like you two.”

    “Oh? What are they?” Florian asked as he looked at the dolls before laughing.

    “And they need no explanation…” A’kin said as he walked off to dust another shelf.

    The dolls, all thirteen of them were representations of the old factols from before the time of the Faction War. Included was a small Factol Sarin in his Harmonium armor, a straightjacket’ed Factol Lhar whose jacket was printed with the words, “I went to the Grim Retreat and all I got was this straight jacket.” And each of the other dolls down the line detailed the other factols, including a wemic holding up a “We’re not a sodding faction” sign for the Indeps, and a collection of smaller dolls for the Anarchists who lacked a true factol.

    “Oh, and they’re animated. They’ll act like their model, given the chance, but they’ll eventually return to their original condition. Sarin for instance, routinely falls over with an arrow stuck in his back, and Factol Karan keeps falling apart, changing colors, and dressing differently, all sorts of stuff. I like them.”

    “Why is there a glass vase upturned over the top of Factol Darius?” Fyrehowl asked, poking the glass covering over atop the Signer factol.

    “Oh, you can take it off to see, but after a while I couldn’t take her “imagining” everything in my shop into being, or so she claimed.” A’kin said with a chuckle.

    Fyrehowl lifted the glass mug and looked into the calm face of the Veyl. “I imagine a lupinal into being! I also imagine a cleric into being! And I imagine an Arcanaloth!” The Factol Darius doll continued listing off things in the shop before Fyrehowl dropped the soundproof vase over top of the doll once more.

    “See what I mean? But she is amusing, I’ll admit that. Some of them are a righteous parody of their namesakes. I particularly like Darkwood up there.” A’kin said from over at his countertop.

    “I don’t see him up here.” Fyrehowl said.

    “Oh, it’s a long story, but the big black gem there. That’s him.” A’kin said, gesturing in the air and making the little black sapphire hover for a moment where it rattled from something inside.

    “How much for the entire lot of them?” Florian asked, opening his coin purse.

    “Florian, are you sure?” Fyrehowl asked.

    “How much for the lot of them A’kin?” Florian said, waving a hand at Fyrehowl dismissively. “I have my share of the money and they’re amusing.”

    A’kin walked over and looked at them and their lack of price tags. “Well, let me tell you what… they’re unique in that there’s only one of each, but I like you both and you didn’t walk out of my shop all weirded out like some celestials do when they meet me, so how about 600gp for each of them, and I’ll even wrap and box each of them individually for you?”

    Fyrehowl twitched at the price, but Florian would have none of it. “Sold. Would you like that it gold or platinum?”

    “Anything but silver if you don’t mind actually. It tends to react poorly with me.” The smiling fiend said as he took down each of the dolls and slowly wrapped them up, despite the Indep doll’s protests about ‘living free or dying’, and handed the boxes one at a time to Florian.

    “Pardon me for saying so, but you’re absolutely adorable in an utterly unexpected way for a fiend. Can I scratch your ears?” Florian asked.

    “Well… normally I don’t humor people like that, but you just bought something so… oh alright.” A’kin said.

    Fyrehowl twitched again as A’kin chuckled like he was enjoying a guilty pleasure of his own, and indulging the mortal in front of him, probably not the first person to ask him for such. But Florian laughed as she scratched the Friendly Fiend’s ears like an overgrown, spellcasting puppy in a robe; A’kin simply sighed contentedly and smiled as Fyrehowl was left with just a confused and perplexed expression as she left his shop with Florian in tow.

    The next morning as Fyrehowl awoke and walked out the front door of the Jammer on her way to the Great Gymnasium she paused and looked up at the roof of the inn, noticing something different about the spelljammer stuck in its side. Pumpkins, squash, and melons were lined up on the deck of the ship, carved and decorated to resemble Githyanki pirates from wildspace…

    “Yarrrr!” came a voice from the prow of the spelljammer as one of the gith pirates wiggled slightly while an unseen pair of hands made the tinfoil sword at its side brandish menacingly.

    “Oh powers above…” Fyrehowl whispered as several more of the ‘pirates’ moved about across the deck, some of them with eye patches, some with peg legs attached, and some with hooks for hands.

    “Yarrrr! We be looking to plunder fer gold in this new land of Sigil! Yarrr! Hand over yer gold! Yarrrr!” The ‘pirate’ waved its ‘sword’ menacingly.

    “Good morning Nisha.” Fyrehowl said as she noticed a tail bobbing up from behind one of the ‘pirates’ on the deck of the ship.

    “Yarrr! I be not knowing this wench Nisha! Yarrr!” The ‘pirate’ continued, punctuated by a tiefling’s giggle.

    “Cap’n Nisha, your tail is showing.” Fyrehowl said as she laughed and walked off down the street.

    “Yarr… sodding Yarrr….” The ‘pirate’ said, hiding the offending appendage before sticking it up in the air once again, this time wrapped in a black flag with a skull and crossbones symbol proudly waving in the breeze.


    ****

    Vorkannis the Ebon sat down on the edge of the river Styx, letting his feet dangle into the water, seemingly uncaring about its memory leaching touch. The fiend looked out across the bleak expanse of the Waste underneath a gray and uncaring sky. It was all uniformly bleak and featureless, though on the far off horizon there grew a billowing wake of black clouds, almost as if the plane itself was offering a harbinger of things to come, for a storm indeed was coming to the Three Glooms.

    The Ebon smiled as he opened his left hand, conjuring forth a pair of gleaming, blood red rubies the size of his own similarly colored eyes and without a flaw to mar their sparkling interior. Without a word the fiend idly gestured with one hand and a blasphemy spell swirled through the air, rippling the waters with its potency; one of the ways to summon the father of the Marraenoloths, Cerlic the Altraloth, known to some mortals as Charon the boatmaster of the Styx.

    The waters continued to swirl and then appeared to boil like black, molten tar as a low black skiff emerged from a sudden bank of fog that rose from the fetid waters themselves. A massive figure, skeletal and wrapped in a hooded black robe stood at the prow of the skiff, guiding the ship through the water with a simple wooden staff, its eyes like pinpoints of flame in their bony orbits.

    The Ebon smiled at the Altraloth as the skiff drew near and the archfiend regarded him. For a moment the air was still and quiet before Cerlic’s telepathic voice rung out like a whispered dying breath from a drowning soul, “I have already given your master Mydianchlarus an answer to his request. My loyalty remains with the Oinoloth, regardless of who presently holds the title. Why has he sent you then?”

    Another smile and the sable furred arcanaloth tossed one of the gems into Cerlic’s skiff and spoke aloud, “I’ve always wondered why you chose that particular method of payment from your charges. Certainly it wasn’t in place before you assumed your position as lord of the marraenoloths. I always figured it might have been something the hags wrote into your brain when they made you what you are…”

    “And what would you know of that, arcanaloth?” The Altraloths words were riddled with the contempt of a superior speaking to a lesser being. The Ebon dropped the other gem into the depths of the Styx.

    “I would know because I watched them create you; seven of them in all. Shall I name them each? Not that it matters since all of them have since died, imperfect beings that create imperfect things. Time has been a harsh mistress to them, their lives snuffed over the course of millennia since they made you what you are.” The flawless ruby in the bottom of Cerlic’s skiff was incapable of replicating the knowing gleam that danced in The Ebon’s eyes as Cerlic looked down on him.

    “I was not aware that you were that old. Are you implying that you had a hand in their deaths? Not that I much care. My power is not dependant on them, or my contract with them terminated upon their death in any event.” Cerlic’s words were tinged now with a shade of curiosity rarely heard in the thoughts of the immortal.

    “Not a thing to do with their deaths myself, no. I wouldn’t stoop to that level or waste my words butchering them. No, I’m here to speak to you Cerlic. I’m here to speak to you as myself, Vorkannis the Ebon, not as any underling to the Oinoloth Mydianchlarus.”

    “You amuse me arcanaloth. Speak with me then and do not boast or I will leave here with the Oinoloth minus a servant.” Cerlic’s words were tinged with force.

    Vorkannis leaned down to drink deeply from the black waters that swirled about his ankle, licking the last drops of that liquid corruption from his muzzle like it were a vintage wine before sitting back up and looking into Cerlic’s face. “And I would welcome you to try Cerlic. But unlike your brethren, you serve a role and you serve it well regardless of who holds the throne of Khin-Oin. That alone will spare you the fate of your makers fool.”

    “My brethen?” The Altraloth whispered but said nothing of the fact that his attempt to teleport away and summon forth a dozen of his minions to kill the impudent ‘loth had failed to function.

    “You and rest of the hagspawn. Imperfect beings made by imperfect beings. You sully yourselves for some momentary advantage. You betray your nature for scraps of power, and limit yourselves at the same time. Were I capable of pity I might actually feel it for you Cerlic. But my lack of pity is forestalled by pragmatism…”

    And Cerlic listened, and Cerlic obeyed.

    ****

    Clueless staggered downstairs from his room looking more like he belonged in the Great Mortuary alongside the rest of the Dead. His hair was disheveled and he had bags under his eyes; it didn’t appear that he had slept much. Toras looked at him as he sat down and poured himself a mug of ale.

    “I take it you spent the evening with your sensate girlfriend?” The half-celestial asked.

    “Huh? Why do you say that?” Clueless asked in return, looking both tired and confused.

    “Because you don’t look like you slept a wink last night is what I think he means.” Fyrehowl said.

    “Yeah, didn’t see you around at all last night. Figured that was likely where you were so I didn’t bother giving you a call over a sending spell.” Tristol said, looking up from a copy of the one of the local ward newspapers.

    “Nope, I was here all night. In fact I went to bed early last night, don’t know why I feel like crud this morning then.” Clueless said before sipping at his drink.

    “Where’d you sleep then, in the gutter? Because you smell worse than some of Skalliska’s so-called food. That or a fiend abducted you and had their way with you all last night.” Fyrehowl said as she wrinkled her nose and moved her chair away from the half-fey. Clueless shrugged in confusion and sipped more at his ale.

    A minute or two later Nisha walked back down the stairs, still dressed in a pirate outfit complete with a stuffed bird sitting on her shoulder and an eye patch over one eye. Tristol looked up at her and put down his newspaper. “Didn’t you just go up there a half hour ago? Had enough fun for the day up there already with the ‘pirates’?”

    Nisha shook her head no rapidly and took a seat at the table next to the mage. “Two words: Angry Githzerai.”

    “Angry Githzerai? Weren’t the pumpkins githyanki though?” Tristol asked.

    “Yeah they were. All I know is that I had a couple angry githzerai shouting out something about dirty ‘yanki and throwing knives at my ‘crew’ and me. I hesitate to think what’s left of them after they run out of stuff to toss at them…” Nisha said with a resigned frown.

    Several more minutes of banter later and Skalliska walked into the inn and Florian had woken up and joined them all as well. Shortly thereafter the door swung open and a man stepped inside from the street.

    “Sorry sir, we’re not quite open for business just yet!” Florian said quickly.

    “No no no, it’s not that. I only heard just now for m’self but if you’ve got any way to get to The Lady’s Ward quickly you might want to. It’s Factol Nilesia, she’s back in Sigil. Just came barging out of the Prison with a pack of former Mercykillers and she’s gone even barmier than she was before!” The man rapidly explained before he ran out the door, heading in the direction of The Lady’s Ward.

    “Uh oh…” Nisha said, looking out the open door as the man retreated down the street. She glanced over at the others as they all grew nervous and morbidly curious at the same time before as one they all stood up from the table to find out what was going on.
    Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 11th September, 2004 at 11:56 AM.

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