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Journal of the Souls of Legend (completed)


Lizard folk in disguise
The Road North - 07/04/2019

The Road North

Travel is the gateway to discovery said some Sensate who was a blood for certain. It always sounds simple and nice, like a stroll in the Lady’s Ward looks to be.

But here, it felt more like the Lower Wards, at night.

What worried me was finding the prime version of the Hive.

What scared me was walking into something worse.

I awake painfully with the warm light from the sun shining into the window on my body and face. I opened my eyes slowly, drinking in the pain in my head; justly earned. At least the dreams were gone for a night, but this wasn’t a price I could afford often.

I pushed myself up by my arms. It was an awful mistake as far as my head was concerned. Breathing heavily, I sat up and massaged my temples and looked around for the first time. My armor, gear and clothes were in a heap on the floor. Near the bed was an empty wash basin and pitcher on a table and some cloth near it.

I was going to reach for my pouch buried in a heap on the floor, but I stopped a moment. I grasped my symbol of Kelemvor and whispered to myself some words and tones and pulled on some light. I turned and looked at the basin and the pitcher both now filled with water. I grabbed the cloth that sat next to it and used it to wash off my face and hands.

The cool pure water felt good against my skin, and I realized it had been a very long time since I actually washed ‘normally.’ Maybe five years ago since I found out I had magical talent and another year after that, to figure out I had a spell that I could to clean myself. It was a simple trick I taught myself after the Faction War. Creating water on the other hand, was new to me.

When I first could cast spells, I was ignorant on how arcana worked. After I discovered I had some ability at it, I then attended any lecture I could at the Civic Festhall. I now understood its principles, and with much trial and error I learned how to cast basic spells. But I never could put my finger on how managed to actually do it. They talked of sorcery and connections to dragons, and wizardry and study. But I didn’t study it, and as for draconic blood I had no idea. But I learned what I could about aracana and things related to it. And I found that I enjoyed the talks about the planes and planar travel most. The thought of travelling; to go wherever you wanted when you wanted. The idea of freedom. At the time. I thought this mysterious gift of magic would provide a means.

But it wasn’t until I left the cage, for the one I found myself now, that something had changed. I used the magic I had before to remove soils, dirt and the like. It was practical; staying clean in the Hive was a challenge and the Civic Festhall was a mess after the war. But now? I saved Iesa, I could call upon the light’s radiance on Arakhan, repairing things and now…water.

Many in the Hive never saw pure stuff. Most in the Hive avoided water; much of it there wasn’t safe. Even bub was safer. But once, when I tended as a hostess for a dice game called ‘Styxes and Sixes’ I got a strange tip. A shot glass full of water from Oceanus. It was not a typical tip, but the Sensate in me was curious so I tried it. the taste was one I would never forget. Clean, pure, and sweet. I then understood why it commanded the price it did.

I finished with the cloth and lifted the pitcher to my lips and drank. I knew that in a bit that the pounding in my head would lesson. It tasted much like the sip I had of Oceanus. But how could I create the water? Cover my eyes? Heal? Any of it? I just felt I was plucking or pulling on threads of power. A Strand that I could sometimes make what I want to happen.

A Strand that seem to have its own mind at times. The speakers said that most of magic was fluid. You commanded, and it obeyed. When casting, I felt like I was wrestling or fighting it the entire time. But during other times, I could feel it within me, twitching and waiting…for something.

I could have asked Beepu. But while we were in the elven temple, I remembered that he said that he ‘was mystified on how I did things.’ Not sure if one of his book’s would shed much light there either. I’ve seen his notes; and the language he uses has some of the symmetry of Celestial, but the grammar is …well. Florid? Ponderous? No…

Not as break teeth as Infernal. That was painful to pick up. Safe thing to do with fiends and tieflings around. So much so that many contracts are written in it. I can swear in Abyssal too…but I doubt I want to have a conversation in it.
But what I did note, is that some the spells in the spell book, might be workable if I can scribe it into a more orderly form. Less gaps. More order. Less words. Not Modron level efficient where I need a cryptix tube to decode it. Just understandable to me.

I put my hands on the table and looked out the dusty window. Thinking a moment, I realized that whatever the Strand was, it had power. It was my skill with it that was lacking. Here I was pushed to using it beyond the simple incantations I discovered. Perhaps if kept pushing, or pushed harder, it someday let me rip apart reality and let me have the freedom I wished. I couldn’t pull that much yet from the Strand. I needed time, patience, discipline. Study might help, if I knew what do look for in a tome.

I knew I wasn’t going to get an answer on any of those questions today. I so I dressed myself, donned my armor and weapons and grabbed the rest of my things. I quickly started the spell to change my eyes, and then made my way down to the ‘nice’ side of the bar. It wasn’t hard to find Daneath, he was standing and glaring at a table, where his newfound brother sat.

But sitting with him, was an elven woman. Obviously the one that Beepu talked about before. The way that Iesa looked at her, said it all; he was smitten.

I didn’t know many pure-blooded elves as they were rare and elusive in Sigil. But you could almost feel it when they entered a room. They had that otherworldly look, delicate features and grace that would make you weep if you stared at their glory too long. And this one was no exception, with long auburn hair and green eyes. Her light tanned skin had perfect complexion, which her dress showed off quite a bit of. Her arms were bare, and the dress was stylish, with a simple squared cut out at the top, and slits below the waist, allowing her to show off her legs. But it was her face that was the most striking and the most telling.

She was bored out of her mind.

Iesa was talking to her and she was avoiding talking to him. I approached Daneath, to see what was going on.

“Hey,” I said casually.

“Myr,” he responded frowning.

“Should we…find a temple for them?”

He chuckled, “Might be a good idea, not sure what’s more urgent. Confessing or marrying him off.”

“True. Hey…I’m…I’m sorry about last night. I was a bit out of sorts—”

“Well, can’t say I’m surprised. Finding a brother was not what I planned on.”

“True, that was quite the surprise. But the headaches were getting to me and…well at least you are getting closer to your goal. I’m—”

“Not anywhere closer to home?”

I nodded, “Still feels far away,”

“Well, those two are going to be awhile, and Beepu was still doing stuff upstairs. Why don’t we get some supplies and get ready to fix your headache?”

I smiled, “You say the nicest things. Should we get a room for them?”

“That’s optimistic don’t you think?”

“Some healing magic then?”

“Closer; he may take some hits.”

“Can’t fix any damage to his own ego.” I said holding up my hands in a look of helplessness.

“I’m sure he’ll live; let’s go,” and the two of us walked out into the morning sun.

The creatively named Portstown, didn’t look much better in the morning light. But it was reasonably supplied, so finding food, some rope and other items for the trail was easy enough. We also stopped by the smithy where I picked up my shield. The light-colored steel now had an etching of the skeletal hand and scales, clearly visible with the contrasting lampblack. I thanked the half-orc, and which he nodded agreeably enough. But he did glare at Daneath the whole time.

We also found out a little about the goings on in town; pretty much both overland trade and farming was in dire shape. While the Uthgardt tribes were a handful, they tended to rob, and take the things they wanted, which was seldom. But with their disappearance, the gnolls started to appear everywhere, and they didn’t steal anything. They slaughtered, destroyed, and were just a terror. The river was the only lifeline the town had, as many of the ranchers and farmers had already fled to Yartar to the south. Grim times for the town indeed.

With gear, and my spell induced headache in tow, we returned to the Inn and to our surprise, little had changed. Iesa was still chatting up with the elven woman, who still looked uninterested in the conversation with him. But surprisingly, Beepu was there sitting with them. Mo, I noticed was laying limply on the table by Iesa’s arms. It appeared that the monkey had given up and was attempting to surrender to Iesa and end his jealousy and boredom. Foggle was on a rafter above watching the table.

Beepu was of course, loud and trying to discuss Arcana with someone who wasn’t interested. Well she sort of was, Iesa wanted him to bolt.

“Well, I’m not sure what places time would act like that. Meaning time could be longer or shorter?”

The elven woman nodded simply but said nothing.

“Well I am sure that I could research and disco—”

I interrupted, “Time changes? Like time dilation and compression based on exiting the place or…plane?”

The woman seeing me for the first time looked at me puzzled and spoke, “Yes. That sounds right.”

“Feywild most likely; most other planes don’t alter time. Limbo sometimes can, but it takes a strong will to do so on a large scale. And even then, it takes a lemon of some skill to do it at all.”

“A lemon?” Beepu asked confused.

“Oh sorry. Term for someone that is skilled in chronomancy.” I said.

“Oh…well, how do you know it wasn’t Limbo then?” Beepu asked, trying to sound assured in his own knowledge.

“Well, was gravity subjective?” I asked.

“Meaning could I…change it? No.” the Elven woman said, staring at me with surprise.

“Limbo has both subjective and morphic gravity. That means down is where you think it is, and how strong is also under your control. So…Feywild until you know more. About done here Beepu?”

“Well, you should get some supplies, right?”

“Already done,” Daneath said smiling.

Beepu blinked a moment, “Yes. I guess that does settle it. Good day. “ he said looking at the woman. “Are you coming?” he asked Iesa.

Iesa was complexly flummoxed at the turn of events having both been shut out of the conversation, and now being denied the conversation he wanted to have. “Well I..um…kinda wanted to…um,”

“Sounds like it!” Daneath said grinning. “We have a long march ahead of us,”

Iesa looked as if he was going to say something, when Mo jumped up and started to pull on Iesa’s arm and pointed towards the door. Then Iesa’s face scrunched up and he let out a sigh. Defeated by his own monkey.

“Well, um…goodbye lady…?” Iesa asked the Elf looking for a particular answer.

The elf had a wan smile and left her seat saying, “Goodbye. Perhaps we will see each other again…when you have time.”

Iesa helplessly tried to maintain eye contact as well dragged him outside. He then at all of us with a glare. “Hey now, I think she was in trouble!”

“Truly. The boredom could have been fatal,” Daneath quipped.

“I’m serious! She was being evasive and wouldn’t tell me her name, so I wouldn’t be in danger.”

“Well. We should keep you safe,” I said.

“You’re not listening! She was in hiding!”

“In the open in an inn?” Daneath asked.

“Um…yes? Why not?”

“Iesa, if she needed help, she would have asked,” I pointed out.

“I think she was unsure whether we could help,” Iesa said, still looking over his shoulder as we walked out of town.
“Tell you what, after we are done and if we have time, we’ll come back. Deal?” Daneath said, offering a compromise.

“Sure. Deal!” Iesa said with a big smile.

Beepu pulled my head down so he could whisper to me, “Are we coming back here?”

“Beats me, I wasn’t planning on it,” I said honestly. Standing up again I looked at Beepu with a cheeky smile.

The moment I was out of town, I dropped the headache inducing spell. Having to continually cast it was trying on my patience, and I was happy to be done with it. At the same time, I casted the other spell to clear the dye from my hair. Truth be told, it was starting to itch. Someday I could find a town with a proper bath and would spend far more time than needed in it. But not for a while I guessed.

Finally, Iesa started to use the map. He quickly discovered that the grove was clearly on the map. So using that as a landmark with the river, Iesa figured out what direction we needed to go. So, we followed the road to the river, but instead of following the game trail to the grove, we headed northwards, into the plains. We were supposed to continue on until we came to a valley or something. The map was only readable by Iesa, and he wasn’t very comfortable working with it. But he did have a sense of direction, and for someone city bred through and through, he did seem to know his way outdoors. Far better than any of us. Daneath was just eager to head forward on the journey, Beepu frequently claimed that he could look into anything, if only he had the right book. I would have rather spent time in a larger city. Something better than Yartar at least. The outdoors was…interesting, but I wasn’t comfortable in it.

As we walked, Mo would dash in and out of the waist high grass and brush, always jumping on Iesa, then bounding off. Foggle on the other hand flew above us, communicating silently with Beepu on silent, mechanical wings. We appeared to be following another game trail, or perhaps a trail that the Elk tribe left behind. But it seemed that nothing had passed this way in a long time. Or at least that’s what Iesa said.

There wasn’t much to say on the march, until Beepu spoke up suddenly;

“What holes?” and he looked up quizzically at Foggle, who was flying in a circle, waggling it’s wings erratically.
We all stopped and looked at Beepu expectantly. He stroked his chin as he had a silent conversation with Foggle about something. It was a moment or two before he spoke.

“Foggle says there are holes on either side of us in the brush. Person sized.”

“Person sized? Like a Beepu person or a Daneath person?” I asked feeling nervous.

“Daneath plus si—i—i—!” and his eye grew wide as Daneath was covered in a shower of dirt. Behind him was a large insect with long antenna, and flailing legs. But the pincers on the mouth of the monster were enormous, and liquid from its mouth dripped with an acrid smell onto the ground.

We were already moving. Mo ran for some nearby brush for cover, while Iesa drew his weapon and lunged in for an attack, hitting the creature squarely it is rusty brown midsection. Unfortunately, the blade didn’t penetrate far, and whatever it was seemed unfazed by the strike. Beepu on the other hand moved into the brush, but before doing so, flung a bolt of fire at it, also hitting it squarely. And I did nearly the same thing on the opposite side, but I used a blast of eldritch energy instead of fire. I also, didn’t hit it.

Unfortunately, Daneath’s reaction time was slower than normal, and the creature vomited up more acrid bile, spewing the content right at Daneath. He tried to interpose his shield in-between himself and the monster, but the blast showered him head to chest with liquid, and I could smell the acid burn flesh. But Daneath while wounded, was far from out. In a scream born of anger and pain, he swung with his sword striking a hard blow on the lowered head of the insect. The resounding crunch of the chitin, and the spurt of goo from its head was a satisfying sound.

Iesa struck again, this time with better results, causing bile and other fluids to spurt from the creature’s side, followed up by another bolt of fire from Beepu in the brush, hitting it were a nose might be for a normal creature. But that was enough to bring it down, and it flopped unmoving on the ground, leaking more acrid liquid from its mouth and other wounds. The bulk of the monster was still below the earth, but it didn’t retreat. It simply quivered for a few moments, and then died.

I was paralyzed a moment. That acrid smell was familiar, and even more so when it struck Daneath. I shivered as the memory came back to my mind after being buried and forgotten. It was acid being used on flesh, on the night that Markell died. The screams of pain.

My screams.

I shook the memory loose. It wasn’t the time. It would never be the right time, but certainly not now. I moved to Daneath and grabbed out a skin of water I had at my side, and poured it over his head and torso, trying to wash the acid away from his skin. I then focused a moment and put some light into Daneath.

“Thanks, that…feels…better,” he panted.

Beepu emerged from the brush, followed by Mo. “An ankheg! Nasty creature. That explains the holes. And perhaps why the game trail is lightly travelled.”

“I want to see one of these holes,” Iesa said and moved into the brush.

“That is probably not a good idea!” Beepu shouted at him.


“Because they can sense you before you can see them!”

“Oh come on, what’s the worst that can….HELP!” and we heard the sound of something else bursting through the ground and more dirt flew in the air. It wasn’t surprising. Just like the Well in the elven temple, Iesa had to throw a coin in. And so Iesa had to look at the hole. And here he was face to face with another ankheg.

But this one was much larger, and it lowered its head to snap its huge mandibles at the hapless Iesa. Fortunately, it missed, allowing Iesa to stab it in the abdomen, but the thick plates took the blow. Beepu launched another bolt of fire at it, and it struck one of the flailing legs. Daneath then charged into the brush, and he struck a solid blow on another leg, slicing it off, ichor spurting everywhere.

I cast another bolt at it, and this one struck it in the thorax, but the damage we were doing seemed insignificant to this one. Even the loss of the leg barely warranted a reaction. But it swung its head around looking at each of in turn quickly and ultimately it focused on Daneath biting down. The sound of its mandibles scraping the metal on his armor gave me the chills. Daneath again grunted in pain and the smell of acid on flesh again permeated the air. But the ankheg could not hold down the warrior and Daneath beat the monstrosity off with pommel strikes down on its head.
Iesa kept circling it, trying to get a blow from behind. Then he lunged and stabbed with his thin blade striking true. The blow sprayed the air with more ichor. Meanwhile, Beepu’s fiery blast struck it again, as did my bolt of energy. Both of us certainly didn’t want to get any closer than I had to, and for me the memories of what acid can do to skin if it was untreated encouraged me to keep my distance.

But the ankheg reacted to the greatest source of pain, and swiftly turned and clamped down on Iesa. He howled in pain from the beasts’ attack and once again the smell of more acid on flesh permeated the air. Iesa was caught in its maw, and the ankhe reared its head, lifting Iesa up into the air as it attempted to chew and slice Iesa into smaller pieces.
But Daneath was having none of that; he wasn’t going to lose a brother he just found. He swung at the ankheg sinking the edge of his blade deep into its thorax. He retracted it, causing bile to spray the air. But Daneath quickly spun and his blade cracked open part of the carapace, causing bits of its innards to fly in the air. It would be a fatal blow, as the ankheg opened its maw and dropped Iesa to the ground, and then waivered a moment, quivering before it too flopped over on the ground, with bile gushing from is throat.

I rushed over to Iesa, and poured the remaining water over his chest wounds, and focused my light on closing them. He was breathing heavily with his eyes closed, but I saw the tension in him give as the healing reduced his pain.

“And that is why you do not start poking into holes like that!” Beepu shouted chidingly. “Have you learned nothing from earlier life lessons?”

“I’m alive right?” Iesa retorted. I helped him stand up again. He grunted in pain, as he wasn’t fully healed yet. I looked at my face for a moment, and with a voice of concern asked, “Myr? You look ill. Did it?...”

“No. Just…bad memories that I’d rather forget.” I replied, shifting to avoid his gaze.

“Sure. Right. Hey Beepu, is there anywhere around without holes so we can rest?”

Beepu looked at the airborne Foggle for a moment and then replied, “We are nearing a downwards trek into what looks to be a gorge. I think that is what you were looking for. We might find a place near the entrance.

Daneath said, “I’m all for moving, and I’m not taking votes.”

No one disagreed and with a quickened pace we headed to the gorge. We reached it without additional encounter with bugs and after Foggle looked around, saw no more holes. We stopped for our midday rest while we considered our options.

The gorge itself was a dry river bed that led down into a wider floor of the gully, while rough scraggly hills adjoined the walls. Looking over Iesa’s shoulder the path led straight through the gorge, and unhelpfully told us nothing about the hills on the east and west.

“So, through it is the only way?” Asked Daneath.

Iesa nodded, “According to the map it is. I’m sure we could go over the hills, or go around them instead. But we might have a challenge getting back on track.

“That might take a bit of time,” I said. “We have food for what a tenday? So, unless we find stuff out here, we only can afford five days of travel on the map, before we have to scavenge or go back for more supplies.”

“Right,” Beepu said, “All the more reason to avoid delay and travel as far as we can. All in favor of following the trail as is, say so.”

At that moment there was a bellowing noise. A deep angry shout using a language I couldn’t understand. It of course came from deeper within the gorge, as the sounds of the fury released bounced from wall to wall within.

“Alright you heard that, we go around,” Beepu said without missing a beat.

“I think we should go forward,” Iesa said with confidence.

“Why is that exactly?” Beepu asked with surprise.

“Easy, hear how angry that voice was?”


“Well, it’s not angry at us!”

“Are you sure it will stay that way?” I interjected.

“Only one way to find out. And you already pointed out the food situation, so…”

I closed my eyes a second and thought a moment about the options. I then nodded, “Alright…lead on.”

“I’m going to hang back a bit…I’m not real sneaky,” Daneath said.

Iesa may not have been the outdoorsy type, but I was impressed on how hard it was to hear any sound from him as he crept towards a clearly very angry…thing. In fact, the create ahead sounded like it was talking to itself, but not in any language I could understand.

Beepu and I saw motion though the brush and we moved to take cover behind a tree. I looked at Beepu and then pointed upwards. He nodded and focused a bit before replying.

“It’s an..ogre? No, it has two heads. An ettin I am guessing,” he whispered.

“Does having two heads make it smarter?”

“No. It is like taking an ogre and then dividing their mental faculties by half and giving each head that half and still losing something in the exchange.”

“Great. Anything else?”

“Stronger than an ogre. More violent. Also, probably can outrun us.”

“So maybe we sneak Daneath by and ignore it.”

“Yes! I agree,” Beepu said with a firm nod. But then we heard a sound that made me very concerned. Iesa started to talk to it.

“Hey hey, big guy! What’s the matter?

My mouth dropped open for a moment, “What is he doing?” and then I heard a couple of words next to me and turning my head I saw that Beepu had disappeared.

“YOUZ HEP SMASH LIL LIZURDS” I could hear the big creature say, followed by a similar voice say; ”HE NOT HEP. HE FUD!”

Grimacing I crept forward as best I could and soon I could see what sounded like a disaster in progress. There near a hole or cave in the rock stood this large misshapen figure. It must have been three heads taller than I, and was dressed in ragged uncured hides. And on the shoulders of the ettin were two heads, one head had a shock of filthy brown hair, while the other head had a balding pate, with long brown hair on the sides. As a bonus I was downwind from it, and it stunk like someone had rolled in a slaughter hour floor, and then forgot to bathe.

For a year.

I then heard next to me Beepu who said, “He better not mention us,”

“Nice spell. Thanks for the support,” I said dryly.


Iesa was talking again, “No we aren’t food! We can help!”

“We?” Daneath said as he caught up to us, clattering next to myself.


“What the…Beepu?”

“Yes, it is me. Watch where you are…never mind.”


“Lizards…in that hole?” Iesa pointed to a pile of stones wedged into a passage leading into a rock face.”



Iesa was nodding, “So if my friends—”

“I knew it!” Beepu hissed

“—help you get your sack, we not food, right?”

The ettin heads turned to each other and then looked at Iesa again and said


“Sure, sure, sure…Let me get them. No eating them! Hey guys, come out!” Iesa called to us as if nothing was wrong in the world.

“I am going to kill him!” Beepu’s voice seethed.

“Well. At least he won’t see it coming.” I said trying to sound positive.

"What could possibly make this any worse?"

Session notes:

So, the elf and Iesa dialog was about as short as that. But there at least three attempts to get a name out of her. None did work of course.

We were still third level as well, and we were very concerned about being crushed, especially after the hyena incident.

It was also about here, I originally started expanding Myrai’s back story a bit on how she got some of the skills she has.


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I just started reading this Story Hour the other day and it's been very entertaining. I'm only as far as the pit fight with "Big D" against the Apple King but I decided to skim ahead and see if you'd gotten any feedback yet - and it looks like I'm the first. (That's a common downside to these Story Hours: you don't always get a whole lot of input from the readers.) But well done! This is an enjoyable read and it's been interesting finding things out about the main character as she in turn finds things out about the world around her. Keep up the good work - I'll be reading in fits and bursts as my free time allows.



Lizard folk in disguise
Thank you! You are indeed the first to comment, and it does mean a lot to me!

I'm about a 3rd of the way on the story, so I'll be here a while.

Please, enjoy, and for others reading, would love to hear from you!


Lizard folk in disguise
Kobolds – the other kind of Lizard - 07/11/2019

Kobolds – the other kind of Lizard

I kinda like Kobolds. Any creature willing to build anything in the Hive that improves things, is due a bit of respect. Even if it was only a sewer. But it was the only sewer in the Hive.

Of course, that was Sigil. I had no idea how the rest of the multiverse looked at them.

Or why.

I looked at Daneath with resignation. “So. Kill him in his sleep later?”

“Sounds good. Wait…are we talking about the ettin or Iesa?” Daneath asked.

“Does it matter?” Beepu said somewhere next to us.

“We can discuss and pick…afterwards,” I said. “Let’s go.”

I closed my eyes a second, gathered my will and walked forward towards the source of that rotten odor. Stepping out of the brush into a clearing I reached Iesa and the…Ettin.

Its right headswas locked on a hole in the wall of rock. The left one was staring intently at Iesa, who was projecting an aura of calm. The ettin was dressed in a rotting hide of what might have been a deer or elk. Its body was caked with dirt, and what hair it had hung in greasy clumps at the side of its heads. What I wasn’t expecting though was the expression on the ettin’s faces. The one staring at Iesa was what I expected; angry, suspicious and stupid.
The other head however, had a look of determination as it stared at the opening in the rock. Even as I moved into clearing, and the first head glanced at me with suspicious, it never turned its gaze away. But the look of anger was clear on its face. But it was the tears in its eyes that surprised me.

“So…he’s lost a sack?” I asked looking at the first head, staring a Iesa. It gave a sideways glance and spoke.

“LIL LIZURDS TAKE SACK // GET…SACK…BACK.” The second one said slowly and sadly.

“No problem! Right Myrai?” Daneath said clambering behind me.

“Sure…otherwise I am sure that Iesa can apologize for all of us. Beepu, I hope you are following us.”

He said nothing. But Foggle flew into the rock fissure ahead of us, which I took as a yes. I looked at Daneath, and flexed some power and lit up his shield, and we all made our way inside.

The interior of the cavern wasn’t like the one below Yartar; that one seemed to be carved by water and smooth. This seemed to be like the rock fractured and shifted creating smooth walls, and jagged stones across the floor. The entrance wasn’t very wide, maybe three or four paces across at most. But beyond this bottleneck, the cavern opened up to a much larger gallery. From where I stood I could see some pillars of rock and on the opposite wall, there was a ledge looking over the chamber at its rear. Near the back of it, a passage was visible on the right leading deeper.
We stood there a momen, as the brothers eyes became accustomed to the darkened interior. Mo, who had been scampering on the ground, quickly climbed onto Iesa’s shoulder and looked around nervously. While normally Daneath would take the lead, this time Iesa did, which surprised me. But after a moment I saw why. Kneeling down he pointed at the ground.

“Pit trap,” he whispered. “Definitely kobolds. Watch your heads and your step.”

Iesa, Daneath and then I pressed our backs to the right-hand wall to avoid the trap. I kept my eyes looking at the far ledges. Watching for signs of movement and listening for anything out of the ordinary. My vigilance did not go unrewarded, as I heard behind me a snap, and the sounds of gravel and the sound of a gnomish voice go “Oof.” Quickly looking behind, me, I saw that the pit was now wide open, and the dust wafted upwards. And from the bottom I heard choking and coughing.

“Beepu! Iesa just pointed that out!” I said disappointedly.

“Well yes. Only problem is that I cannot see where I am stepping as I cannot see my own feet.”
I kneeled down and thrust my arm down in the pit. “It’s a good thing its shallow. Can you grab my hand?”

“Yes, I think so! Harrump!” and I felt his hand in mine and I pulled the still invisible gnome out.

“Just step where I do.” I said shaking my head.

“That fall hurt, can you work some magic and heal me?” He demanded.

“Fine,” I said with resignation. I concentrated a moment and then reached out my hand to where I thought Beepu was. My fingers quickly found his nose, and that was enough contact to allow some energy to mend his injury, whatever it was.

“Hey Myr, can you see anything?” Iesa called quietly.

“I don’t see anything, but I wouldn’t rely on that,” I said. While the gallery was as bright as day for me, there were many rocks, ledges, pillars and other obstacles scattered around the area. I was sure we were being watched, especially after the noise the trap made when Beepu fell in.

“Well, it will not matter Foggle can probably spot them,” Beepu’s disembodied voice said. And Foggle who was circling lazily right above us, flew deeper into the room. I watched its golden body drift through the air, as Beepu focused to look through its eyes. But as it approached the rear third of the room I head the snap of a crossbow, and it was followed by Foggle exploding, with brass and bronze parts scattering and bouncing across the floor of the room. It happened so fast that the mechanical owl never made a noise, beyond the ringing of metal parts on the stone.

“No!” Beepu seethed.

“Don’t suppose you saw where the shot came from?” Iesa asked, focused on the darkness in front of him.

“Not at all. We are going to need to find all the parts, so I can put him back together.” He said angrily.
I looked down towards the end of the room, and for a moment I thought I saw movement on the ledge near some small rocks piled together. I waited a moment, and I saw a head peak over the rocks. It was about gnome sized, but with a long snout and reddish scales all over it. It was clearly trying to hide, and it made no sound.
Once I saw the head, I threw a bolt of energy at it and heard a yip as a shower of purple sparks appeared after I struck

“About there, on a ledge.”

“Well then, watch your feet!” and Daneath and Iesa moved forward, taking the light with them. This wasn’t a problem for Beepu who could see well enough in the dark, certainly not a problem for me. I moved forward a bit, so I could get a better view of the kobolds, while Iesa and Daneath looked for a way up onto the ridge.

Moving forward was tricky as Iesa and Daneath soon discovered. After ten paces each was presented with different problems. First a net dropped from above narrowly missing Iesa. Daneath’s choice of path apparently had tripwires or snares. But the big man was stronger than the material and just plowed his way through. Finally, moving forward I saw another target and struck it, and a bolt of fire streaked from just ahead of me finishing it off. Beepu then faded into view and took cover behind a stone pillar.

It wasn’t much of a fight really. In a matter of seconds, Iesa had lept onto the ledge and was stabbing at the Kobolds, while Daneath drew the fire of several crossbows. Beepu who was now several paces in front of me, couldn’t be seen, and kept shooting with fire bolts easily hitting targets. And while I was perhaps visible, I had the impression that I was out of their visual range, allowing me to pick them off as quickly as I could see them. It didn’t help the kobolds that they were terrible shots with their crossbows, with quarrels shooting wide, or bouncing off of Daneath’s shield. It wasn’t long before the sounds of quarrel fire and yipping ceased.

I made my way to the ledge where Iesa was standing. As I approached he spoke,

“There is a passage up here leading down deeper into the rock.”

“That is good. Now help me up on that ledge!” Beepu demanded, his voice still angry at the recent obliteration of his owl.

“Where’s Daneath?” I asked

“Here,” he replied. “There is a ladder that you can climb up, on the far end before the cavern narrows and descends.”

“So which way down?” I asked.

“I’d say this one. I bet the main passage has more traps. Plus, this entrance had a boulder here that is meant to hide it. They didn’t close it in time.”

“Wait for me to climb up then,” and IBeepu ran down to where Daneath indicated the ladder was. While he did so, Iesa pulled me up onto the ledge directly. On the stone shelf were scattered bodies of Kobolds, about seven in all.
As we waited for Beepu to catch up, I felt a rush of satisfaction. We weren’t on the edge of death or defeat or anything like that. And I clearly wore it on my face.

“You seem to be enjoying yourself Myr,” Daneath commented.

It took me aback a moment. Sure, I was happy to on the winning side, and not having to save someone’s skin. But enjoying myself? I thought a moment and realized that I did relish the fight. It was like the time with the gnolls and their withered zombies. But this was more intense for some reason.

“Are we ready?” Beepu’s voice asked.

“Sure, we’ll follow you,” Iesa said gesturing toward the small tunnel down.

“Well then let us…wait. Iesa! Get moving!”

With an impish smile, Iesa took the lead down the passage, moving slowly. His eyes looking for surprises. As the passage was about to open up, he stopped. He then pointed at a thin rope strung across the floor. It was hard to see, even with my vision as it had been coated with ash that was very close to the color of the surrounding rock. The rope snaked its way along the wall until it reached a bucket hanging above. I wondered what they might put in that bucket, but then I had second thoughts about it. Iesa moved the line out of the way and tied it tightly so it didn’t dump the contents. Then we snuck into the next vault.

It was similar in some respects to the one we just left. We were on a ledge overlooking the floor of another room. But on the floor of this room, there were many lean-tos scattered around the floor. There were a number of smoking fires, and there was debris of all kinds along the floor. Bone, wood, shattered stone, hides and junk.

There were a couple of kobolds visible around the fires. And while most of them were distracted, a couple of them were watching the entrance and saw us. A tall lean one, festooned with feathers and small bones started to yip something in perhaps draconic. It pulled a pot hanging from its belt with a leather thong and stared at it when it suddenly became lit with fire. And when it did, the kobold wasted no time to hurl it high over to the ledge we stood on.

We all reacted differently; Daneath raised his shield, Iesa stepped behind a boulder for cover. Beepu simply backed out of the way of the detonation that was to follow. As for me, I dove for the floor, covering my head as I did so. I felt the warmth and then heat of fire, and the sound of a dull roar as the world around us was engulfed in flame. After the din had died down, I looked around, and of the two I could see Daneath and Iesa were fine, while I was a little singed. My ears were ringing from the explosion, and the air tasted of smoke.

I crawled up to the edge and threw a bolt of energy at a visible kobold, knocking it down. Pulling myself back, I could hear scampering and claws on stone, as some of the kobolds ran towards us via a ramp.

“Hey Beepu,” I yelled “It would be really rum if you could make stuff explode like that. It would save a lot of time.”

“Amateurs! Not everything needs to explode to be effective!” he retorted. He then chanted a moment and tossed some sand from his pouch in an arc in front of him. As the sand hit the ground, I heard noises below me. Peering over the ledge, a number of the Kobolds had fallen down in small heaps.


“Point made!” I shouted and rolling to my side I found myself face to face with an angry pair of the little lizards. Now, Iesa made his move, moving from his boulder and quickly dispatching another one with a quick thrust. Meanwhile Daneath also stepped forward and slashed at one standing over me, running it through.

I glanced at the other one, who was readying to stab me with a pointed spear. I rolled to my right and flexed a moment and called down a radiant beam of light onto it. It yelped in pain and started to run back down the ledge. But it wasn’t fast enough as a bolt of fire streaked from nowhere and hit it square in the back, causing it to fall over the edge of the ledge into a crumpled heap.

For the moment, nothing else approached us. But we could hear soft raspy snores from the lean-tos below. I stood back up and looked around and saw that there was another tunnel that opened into another cavern. Iesa saw it as well and quickly moved down of the ledge and stood next to the passage. He then cocked his head to listen. He turned to look at us and said, “Sounds quiet down there, and there is some torchlight below. I’m going to check it out.

“Wait a moment, you barely can see as it is I’ll come with you,” I said.

“I’m going to take care of things here. Give me a hand Beepu.”

“What? I am not some murderous vagrant!”

“They did shatter Foggle into shiny pieces.”

I didn’t hear how the rest of the conversation went, as Iesa and I crept down the tunnel. It wasn’t long, perhaps fifteen paces we found another trap. It was right before it opened up into the next chamber. At that point, Iesa motioned for me to stop. He pointed at the walls and I could see pieces of wood with rusty swords fastened to them. The wood was bent, ready to snap forward and cut and intruders to ribbons. He pointed to another thin ash colored rope on the ground, and we both stepped over it.

Stepping into the room, it was clear that we were in some kind of hatchery. The remains of eggs hells were scattered in what looked to be nests lining the walls of this circular room. On one end was some small bags, but one large on made of crudely stitched hide stood out. Iesa and I looked at each other and nodded smiling.

We moved over to the pile and Iesa looked into the smaller sack, and I heard the clinking of coin and the sloshing of liquid. He opened the sack and pocketed the coin and looked at the vial briefly, before pocketing that too. I stepped over to the larger bag and looked it over. It was not small, and it would likely take Daneath to move it. But I decided to look inside to make sure that this was the right sack.

I don’t know what I expected to find. I opened the crude hand stitched sack and my nose was assaulted by the smells of rotting meat. I covered my mouth, holding back the urge to vomit as my eyes welled up in tears. I was about to close it, when I saw something silvery.

Still holding my hand over my mouth, I reached inside and retrieved a small silver bag, barely the size of a deck of cards. It held something soft that with a little give, like wet sand. I quickly summon some power to clean the exterior of this pouch. I then loosen the silver drawstrings, revealing a find powder. I grasped as small pinch between my finger and thumb. The texture was like a fine sand as I rubbed it between my thumb and fingers. Lifting it up to my nose I sniffed. I caught the order of pepper and I then had a strong urge. I quickly pulled the strings closed, and then sneezed, narrowly avoiding sneeze scattering the contents.

“I can smell that sack from here, and it’s nothing to sneeze at Myr,”

I rubbed my nose, trying to wipe away the smell, “Funny. This seems to be an emergency item belonging to someone.

“I wonder who?”

“Good guess they are the rest of the contents of the sack.”

“Oh. Well, forget that. Let’s get out of here. Hey Daneath! Need you to carry this!”

Moments later, I saw Daneath striding down the tunnel. In front of him, he held the unconscious kobold that threw the pot of fire at us.

“Think this will be proof enough we did the job?

“I guess so,” Iesa started. “But you need to watch out fo—”

The sounds of whistling blades, and blurred motion for the tunnel walls cut him short. In a flash, what was once a corpse, was now a flayed pulp of bone and muscle, barely recognizable as a humanoid at all. Daneath stood there in shock, covered in blood and gore from the assaulting blades.

“—for the trap.”

I stood there in shock. The fresh corpse had a strong resemblance to someone who had crossed the Lady of Pain’s shadow. I had seen the results of that only once, but it was vivid memory. I could only assume that the soul of the kobold wasn’t shredded as well.

“So much for that,” Iesa said, dropping the remains to the floor, and wiping the bloody mess from his eyes and face.

“I think the sack is good enough,’ I commented. “Mind carrying it?”

“Why me?”

“Because Iesa needs to make you sure you don’t kill yourself on a trap on the way out, I’m not strong enough, and as for Beepu; it’s larger than him!”

“What are you saying? That I cannot pull my own weight?” Beepu asked fuming.

“No. I assume you can’t pull something greater than your weight. That and you need your hands free.” I pointed out.

“For what?”

“I think you need my light to help find all the parts for Foggle, if you want to put him back together.”

His eyes popped out a for a moment before replying. “Quite right. Are we done here? We are wasting more time!” he said with his arms crossing and glaring at all of us.

“Guest that’s me,” and Daneath grabbed the sack and with a grunt started the climb out of the kobold warren.
The climb out wasn’t long. It took longer to find all the parts to Foggle. But that had a lot to do with Mo stealing pieces when Beepu was distracted. Eventually he declared that he had found enough, and he had enough spare parts to rebuild him. We then, avoiding the pit in the front made our way outside.

The Ettin hadn’t moved. The left head stared suspiciously at Iesa as he exited the cave, while the right was peering around Iesa looking for his sack. When he saw Daneath lugging it out of the darkness, the head smiled and almost looked to be crying.


Iesa nodded and smiled. “Yes, no more lizards and we found your sack.” To which he gestured to his brother’s burden with a flourish. “Now, be more careful next time!”

The ettin reached out and took the foul container from Daneath who quickly stepped back.





The exchange become less and less sophisticated, but we didn’t stay to listen to its conclusion. We made good time putting distance between us and the Ettin, just in case it made a decision involving us getting into that sack.

By nightfall,we had emerged from the gully, and we looked for a place to camp. Iesa soon found a small clearing near a stream that seemed adequate. As soon as we set up tents, Beepu asked for my light and started working on Foggle. He pulled out a small brass pot, and lit some incense. He then proceeded to take some tools and he began the slow task of rebuilding the owl.

I was by the fire, taking our rations and adding some flavor to them, making them more palatable. But I was really lost in my own thoughts about the fight, when Daneath noticed my distraction.

“Myr, what’s bothering you? You’ve been acting odd since the cave.”

I thought a moment and looked at him, my face scrunched up a bit. “I’m bothered by…well how much I…enjoyed that fight. It seems wrong somehow.”

Daneath nodded, “Well, being victorious can warp your perspective. I mean the winners of a war don’t dwell on the ugly side. So, I’d say it’s normal.”

“It’s just. I remember someone that killed…a lot of people. And she was, driven. She reveled in killing for sake of killing.” I said, thinking back to the long raven tresses of the Sinker that butchered Elisna. “She reveled in destruction. She embodied it.”

“A sinker?”

“It’s a nickname for a faction called the Doomguard. They were mostly destroyed in the war in Sigil, but they believed the universe was going to fall apart. And that was the normal order of things.”

“But you don’t?”

“No. I never believed that. Death might come, but life was to be experienced. Creating things and experiencing new things was important. But then I find myself…enjoying the fight and wondering if…”

“If that’s who you really are?” Daneath asked.

“Well Myrai,” Iesa said coming over and sitting by the fire. “You don’t exactly come to mind when I think of murderous destruction. Too cute for one.”

I shook my head, “The woman was beautiful. Wild, untamed, dangerous. She inspired so many. So many to kill and destroy. So many Sinkers would die for her. Many did in her name.”

“What happened to her?”

“Before the War started, she and several others disappeared. Might have caused it to start and everyone was blaming the other. She was probably sent to the mazes by the Lady, but…no one knows.”

“The mazes?” Iesa asked curiously.

“The Lady can throw who she wants into a prison of sorts. It’s said that you will live forever in the maze, never starving, never aging. But it’s a prison that has a way out. A way that few ever find. And in five years, no one had heard from her, or the others.”

“Not a very nice Lady?” Daneath commented.

“No. She’s not called the Lady of Pain for nothing.”

Iesa shuddered, “Well…I wouldn’t worry about it. You're making it bigger than it is."

“You’re…probably right. I’m going to turn in, wake me for morning watch. Night.” And I moved to my bedroll in my tent nearby and took off my armor and weapons.

I wanted to believe it was nothing. But something kept nagging me about the fighting. Something I couldn’t put my finger on. It wasn’t about casual destruction. I had felt the exhilaration several times. But it wasn’t the violence. It wasn’t the victory. It certainly wasn’t glory.

I laid there turning it over in my mind over and over, never quite finding the answer before my dark dreams once again took control of the evening.

Session notes:

Foggle exploding was overdue. It had a price on its head for certain.

The is only the first time we got magic items. We the players rolled for them. And we rolled…poorly. That would continue for a while on treasure.



Lizard folk in disguise
Plains of Blood - 07-18-2019

Plains of Blood

There are no cemeteries in Sigil. The Dustman take care of the dead according to the beliefs of the deceased. That could be a burial in the earth, submerged in on ocean, picked apart by carrion birds of the sky, or incineration by great flames. Only the last is performed in Sigil, the rest the Dustman take care of.

While I hated the Dustman for what they did to Elsina. For the ones that didn’t sell their shells, they did honorable work.

So I guess that most Dustmen are people too.

I know that I gave Iesa a start when I sat up suddenly, gasping for air, and clutching my symbol of Kelemvor. It was the first night that we had to camp in the wilds, and it had been a while since anyone noticed my nightly torment. I stared helplessly into the night; trying to remember what it was about. Why could I not shake this nightmare from my mind? Why could I not remember it? I guess I had some time to mull over it until dawn as I had drawn the last watch.
I pulled on my armor and weapons and crawled out of my tent to relieve the brothers. Iesa saw me and had a look for concern on his face. He pointed at me and was about to say something, but I waved him off. He shrugged, and Daneath and he retired for some sleep.

Foggle of course sat on a branch watching over everything. It never slept, and my understanding was that it had good night eyes. Still, we still took turns as only Beepu would trust the owl with our skins alone.

I should have focused more on the watch, but the nightmares frequency was troubling me. I guess they have been a recurring thing since I was perhaps fifteen turns of the wheel, but they were sporadic. Rarely was it clear in memory on what I saw or did. But it was always clear emotionally. Fear. Dread. Guilt. Sorrow. Loss. But now, there was something else lurking within; but only the barest glimpse. A revelation just beyond the grasp of my dreaming mind.
My dreams and nightmares weren’t usually this mysterious. But as I thought about it more, my nightmares have been more frequent ever since…

I died.

Granted, dying was horrific. Coming back even more so. But I didn’t dream about death or dying. It was something else lurking in my head that refused to let my waking self, see. But what was strange was unlike nightmares before, I had the same feelings each time. The same intensity. I wondered if I was experiencing the same nightmare each time.
I sat there mulling over my dreams for hours getting nowhere. Finally, the sun rose, spilling red orange light across the grassland we were in. To the north were low hills, but they were far in the distance, with a lot of rolling grassland in between. But I noticed something now as the sky started to brighten. In the distance were pillars of black smoke. They were widely separated from each other and whatever was causing them, was fixed. Once the sun rose above the horizon, I woke the others and pointed them out.

“Well, we’re not alone out here,” Iesa said grimacing as he squinted looking into the distance.

“Nope. But who should we expect to find?” Daneath said as he tightened the straps to his armor.

“In a word; trouble.” Beepu said grimly, and he sent Foggle aloft. “But, we will see them before they see us.”

We started heading north. Somewhere ahead of us was another gully surrounded by hills per the map. But there wasn’t much in the way of landmarks. So, our best guess was to head north and find a piece of high ground and see if we could get a better idea of where to go, and to use Foggle to maneuver through the grass safely.

It wasn’t long before Beepu gave us an indication of something interesting, and he pointed towards a narrow column of sputtering smoke nearby. It wasn’t as dark or thick as some of the others, and we hoped that this may give us an idea what may lay ahead.

Following Foggle, it led us to a small cairn in a cleared area of grass. It was a simple affair, a pile of rounded stones stacked into a pile, with a smoking pyre of wood in the center. But as we approached, our curiosity turned and twisted into horror as we realized the truth of what it was.

The stones, weren’t rock, but were piled bleached skulls. Some had marks upon them indicating injuries, others the marks of teeth. All of them were human or humanoid stacked together, with the remains of bloodied soil as a crude mortar. Beside the smoking wood pile, was a sundered half of a log, hollowed out to form a basin. Within it, was a pool of congealed blood, with unidentified lumps of…something within. Finally sticking up on end behind and bowed over the smoking wood was a stave, from which hung three stones wrapped in rope and hanging from the top of the stave. A rare breeze blew the rocks, and they clicked together quietly over this display of blood and gore.

“This…this…isn’t Elk tribe is it.” Iesa stated flately.

“No,” I said looking at the effigy of a triple headed flail “It’s a shrine to the Tanar’ri lord known as the ‘Ruler of Ruin;’ Yeenoghu.”

“Gnolls,” Daneath said and spat. “Can’t say I’m surprised.

“Foggle does not see any packs nearby,” said Beepu hopefully. “Perhaps we can sneak through them?”

“Let’s hope so. I doubt we will find any Elks tribesman though,” Daneath said.

We left the grisly display undisturbed and continued onwards. We said little now, pushing our way through the tall grass. Our ears strained to hear anything out of the ordinary. But we heard nothing. Not birds, not animals, not even the wind on the grass.

We trudged north, constantly scanning the horizon for gnolls. And sometime after the sun climbed to peak, Beepu stopped and motioned us towards him.

“There is a depression nearby,” Beepu said concentrating, looking through Foggles eyes. “And an open pit it appears?”

“But no pyre?” Daneath asked.

“No, I am having Foggle fly in closer to—”

And then we heard a strange sound and a flash of red light, followed by a high pitched “BEEP” and the sound of metal parts hitting the ground.

Beepu closed his eyes and looked upwards mouthing the words “Not again.”

“I take it we need to get those parts back?” Daneath asked, to which Beepu nodded.

We ready ourselves and head towards the direction of the depression. It was not far, and for three of us it was a simple divot in the ground the size of a barn. Several small hillocks of dirt and rock were spread around the depression, breaking through the top of the tall grass spread around. Finally, in the middle was a large open pit. Beepu of course could see none of this, as the top of the grass was above his head.

“So where do we start?” I asked.

“The pit, and work our way out I guess,” Iesa suggested.

Having no better idea, we make our way into the depression.

Iesa was in front, followed by Daneath, and Beepu and lastly myself as we headed toward the open pit, when I noticed the odor. It was one of blood, sweat, rot and wet animal hide. I was about to shout a warning, when a pack attacked us.

A group of figures dashed out from crouched positions. It was sudden, and it appeared that their cunning was enough to conceal themselves even from Foggle’s sight before he was blown out of the air. So, we barely had time to react to our assailants.

The first two collided with the brothers, each slashing with swords. They snarled and the look on their faces screamed volumes about their Tanar’ri master. Madness, bloodlust, and hunger all mixed together as their yellow eyes looked at us as their next victim.

Beepu meanwhile had a problem; while the gnolls were no longer concealed, they might as well been from his perspective. Beepu stood well below the tops of the grass around us and was blind to the snarling band that attacked us now. He muttered under his breath, faded from sight, and I watched the grass part as he dashed to a nearby hillock.

“Great,” I muttered, and soon I was under attack by two of the dead withered gnolls. Or would have been, because as they closed I could feel a kind of…resonance as they approached. It was uncomfortable, but as they both came to me and looked to swing, they froze. Their clawed hands clutched swords, but the blades twisted in their hands in frustration and their bodies writhed and shivered. Then, they turned and headed straight for Daneath, a couple of yards away.
The first time this had happened outside of Triboar I had no idea what happened. Now I was more certain. That dark strand of magic was the resonance I felt, and it what was protecting me from the witherlings. I didn’t know how exactly, but I suspected that if I attacked them directly, that the resonance effect would be broken.

Fortunately, I could cast magic at the living pair already on Iesa and Daneath. I grasped at the gnolls, summoning skeletal hands to claw and grasp at them both, while I held my ground from the fleeing witherlings.

The brothers Iesa and Daneath, now worked as brothers in arms. Daneath would take the lead hitting the beasty creatures with his sword and forcing openings so that Iesa could thrust and slash with devastating effect. Working together they easily brought one down, before the two witherlings reached their position.

Of to my left I could hear swearing and the sound of crumbling dirt giving way. As assumed that Beepu was trying to climb up a hillock to get a better view, and hopefully assist. Since the witherlings couldn’t see him, and they couldn’t approach me their ire was focused on Daneath who was closer to me than Iesa. They swung wildly, striking Daneath’s shield and hitting not much else.

I then focused my effort on the second gnoll, I pulled on that dark strand of energy and wrapped it around the gnoll and then sent a blast of purple energy at it. The bolt hit it forcefully in the chest, and the additional energy pulled and rent the flesh of the creature, causing it to howl in pain. My heart pounded quicker as I heard that sound, and I looked for other targets, when I saw another pair heading straight for us.

Iesa took advantage of the gnoll’s distraction and laid it low with a vicious cut across the throat. All the while Daneath bashed the other witherling off-balance with his shield and landed a crushing sword blow on the shoulder of the creature, nearly cleaving it into two. All the while, Mo screeched from Iesa’s pack, as if warning him about the additional combatants coming towards us.

And again, from my right I heard more dirt shifting and more grunts, as Beepu must have been looking for a way to gain some visibility of the battle. I in turn pulled the darkened thread from the corpse of the dead gnoll and shifted it to one of the charging pair. I sent another bolt of purple energy at my target, striking true. I could hear a cry of anger from it as I heard bone crack, and could see flesh rend. It shifted its gaze towards me and charged. Deneath finished the last witherling and moved himself between the gnoll and me. Iesa took advantage of the distraction that Daneath’s movement caused and thrust through the last witherling, causing it to drop.

The gnoll pair split, one heading for Daneath, and the other heading straight for me. The first swung it sword, and blood spurted from Iesa’s side as it found a gap between the boiled leather Iesa wore. The other was able to close to me and swung. But I batted away the blow with my shield. While I did so I focused on the dark strand and called another skeletal hand to grasp and claw at the gnoll, while the other spell also stripped away its vitality.

Daneath and Iesa again together exploited the holes of the gnoll’s defenses, and swiftly brought it down. Then both ran over to assist me as the gnoll again swung ineffectively, clipping my shield once again. I focused again and laid the last gnoll down, just as Daneath and Iesa reached me. I relaxed a bit standing straight and looking around for more to charge out of the brush. My cheeks and face ached a bit, and I then realized that I must have had a large grin on my face. I turned away from the brothers in shame and horror. I didn’t want to be seen enjoying this.

I shouldn’t be enjoying this.

My thoughts were interrupted by an “Ah HAH! No…wait. Where are they?!” from Beepu’s voice nearby.

“I think you missed it,” Daneath said calmly as he started to wipe the gore from his blade.

“Did he even see it?” Iesa asked.

Regaining composure, I turned to look at the pair and shrugged, “Who are you talking about? It’s only us three.”

“Very funny. Now help me down!” Beepu’s voice said.

We all looked around with sly grins aimlessly. “Wasn’t Beepu here a minute ago?” asked Daneath mockingly.

“Not sure. Might have fallen into another ankheg hole.” I said looking around.

“We’d see that. More likely a rabbit hole.” Iesa said. He then bent down peering into the grass. “Beepu? Are you in there?”

From on top of a mound of rock and dirt, Beepu appeared with a look that could melt iron and said angrily. “I. Am. Right. Here!”

“Hey nice of you to jump in and help! Appreciate that.” Iesa said waving at the gnome.

Beepu glared and started to slide his way back down the floor of the plains.

“Myr, nice of you to send two of them our way. How did you manage that, and not this one?” Daneath commented while nudging the corpse with his boot.

I shrugged, “I…I don’t think the dead ones could attack me. I can feel them want to and try, but my…my magic scares them?”

Beepu had walked up at this point, “So you invoked something?”

“No. I didn’t do anything. I just felt it happen.” I said.

“Well, at least you helped,” Daneath said with a smirk.

“Hey! I was going to—” Beepu started.

“Let’s find Foggle,” I said. “And get out of here. This place feels wrong.”

We continued to make our way to the pit, and once I stood at the edge, I regretted it. The smell that it emitted was one of the foulest I could have imagined. Within it, the skeletal remains of…people were scattered in pieces, rotting in the open air. If I had to guess there might have been twenty corpses dismembered within. I kept staring in horror drinking in more details, unable to turn away.

“Go find Foggle. I…need a moment.” I said as a sank down to my knees. The others moved away, looking for the brass familiar as I stared at the mess below me.

I wanted to do something. I didn’t know who the corpses were once. I didn’t know if they died fighting. I didn’t know what the gnolls were doing with them or even if they were done with them. What I did know is that they deserved better. A better fate. A better end. A better passing into the fugue.

I thought a moment, trying to find the right words for this. Trying to remember a prayer that my mentor taught me. Finally, one came to me. While I couldn’t bury them; I could give a blessing.

“We see the unknown before us and beseech You,

“May their souls pass to the Fugue for Your judgement and rest,
“May their kin remember them and their deeds,
“For while their shells left behind may be forgotten,
“Their souls shall travel far past failing memories reach,
“Let their souls rest, and provide succor to those who remain,
“So, they will be remembered. So, they will be honored,
“Blessed be the unknown fallen.

I grasped at the some of the dirt next to me and stood. I cast the dirt across the pit of gore. My head was bowed as I shed tears for the fallen. None of them met their end in the fullness of time. I could only hope that their souls could rest beyond the fugue.

“I found him!” Daneath said, lifting the owl from the grass. “Looks like he’s in one piece, but he does have a hole in him.”

“Let me see!” Beepu said rushing over. “Yes, yes, yes. You are right it appears. I will have to repair him again this evening.

In the distance we heard yelping and the mocking laughter from hyenas. The sound gave me the chills from the memory of the last encounter I had with the dog like animals.

“We should get going before they show up,” Iesa pointed out. “Are you done Myr?”

I nodded, and we restarted our trek northwards, quiet and lost in each in our own thoughts. The sounds of the hyenas faded in the distance, which we took as a good omen for passing by unnoticed. Eventually as the sun started to kiss the horizon to the west, Iesa found a place we could rest for the evening. It had a source of water and was nestled low between two low mounds of earth. We lit no fire for the evening, as we didn’t want to attract the attention of packs.

Beepu was hiding under a blanket with my light, so he could repair Foggle, without the light being seen. I chewed my rations slowly, occasionally adding some desperately needed flavor. Of the many foods I missed, it was Za I missed the most. Folded bread with meats, cheeses, mushrooms and sauces, baked and sooty. So, of course my jerky now tasted as perfect as my memory could recall. It was a pity I couldn’t do the heat or the texture to make the illusion complete.

But I sat there, thinking about the magical forces I could manipulate. The strands of darkness. The strands of light. And now I realized that I didn’t even fully control them. These strands affected things around me without my input. Preventing the dead from attacking me. Allowing me to see perfectly in darkness. So, what was this Strand of magic I controlled?

Did I really control the Strand?

Or, did the Strand control me?

Session notes:

DM 2, Foggle 0. We never were sure what shot him.

And yes, Beepu technically did nothing. He couldn’t climb, and he couldn’t see. Might as well been visible, but I did have better armor so it worked out.



Lizard folk in disguise
A Final Kiss of Mercy – Part 1 - 7/25/2019

A Final Kiss of Mercy – Part 1

When you are young, it is easy to laugh at death. To face it brazenly and with bravado. To boast about cheating it with friends and laughing with drinks afterwards. We are quick to deny it’s hold and smile knowingly with our comrades that death is thing to be beaten, and that immortality can be won.

When you are old, it is easy to welcome death, the peace it grants after the toils of your labors. You made it to the end of the game and can look back at all the great things you have done, smile and move on.

It is hard when you feel your labors are incomplete, young or old. It is hard to invite death in for some tea when you truly want more life. It is hard to just let it go.

And sometimes the only choice we get, is how. If we get that choice at all.

I sat there shivering in the cold, early morning light listening. Most of the time after anti-peak involved the sounds of yapping hyenas in the distance. They were too close for my tastes, but Foggle was an asset here. Beepu realized that Foggle could understand us just fine, so he instructed his familiar to follow some basic instructions about scouting around our campsite, and to make sound if there were trouble. I used it a couple of times when the howling and yipping got close, but Foggle didn’t make a sound. So, I suppose shivering in the cold was a bit better than having a fight with any wandering packs.

The light of the early morning was a deep crimson, scattered across a solid gloom of clouds. It seemed fitting out here with gnolls wandering about. I stood and stretched my cramping legs, all the while trying to keep my arms and torso covered with the woolen blanket I had. I felt on edge for some reason. I wanted to get moving, but the humans were going to need a bit more light to travel safely.

But since the reddish light was growing, I turned to Foggle and said, “Well we have some better light. Go up a bit and see if you see anything interesting.”

Foggle blinked with its mechanical eyes, and with a hop, spread its wings and silently circled upwards. As it did so I finished stretching and started to pack up my simple lean-to. Almost fourteen days here, so little of it in a proper bed. Not even a proper bath in that time. I shouldn’t complain; I’ve had less. But it doesn’t mean I liked it.

Suddenly there was a flurry of wind and wings, and Foggle landed on top of a small boulder near me. I was a little surprised as most of the time it was utterly silent. But it became clear it was trying to get my attention. It stared at me, and then turned its body. Its head twisted to keep a level gaze with my own while it turned. Then, the body stopped, and both wings flapped and stretched, pointing to the north east.

“I’m guessing you found something then, Foggle. But not a threat?”

I pause a moment, and then move to Beepu’s tent. I reach in and found his body and shook him saying, “Hey, have a dark here. What did Foggle find?”

From within I heard, “Wha...what? One moment. Interesting!” and a bedraggled Beepu emerged, looking for his familiar. Seeing it on the rock, he cocked his head and then said.

“He has seen something…odd.”

“Odd? That’s a bit vague.”

“He is fairly smart, but he usually lacks context. Seems in this case that he has found someone. Someone that is not a gnoll and that he does not see as threatening.”

“And he wants us to take a look?”

“He is advising that we should. I tend to agree. Afterall a person out here might have information.”
“Beyond ‘keep away from gnolls’ I’m not sure what barkle they might have.”

“It is on the way, it will take little time and we might learn something.”

“Fine. Let’s get the others up.”

We rouse the brothers, who were still tired from the midwatch in the evening. They rubbed their eyes and quickly equipped their gear, as Beepu and I finished packing up our things and assisted with the other items in camp. Mo oddly enough was still sleeping, so Iesa made a kind of nest inside his pack near the top, so the monkey could continue sleeping. It wasn’t long before we were ready to move and follow the oddity that Foggle had found.

It was farther than I thought it would be; the first light must have given some clarity to Foggle’s sight. it must have been almost a mile before we reached another depression in the plain. As we approached, I saw the circle of carrion birds overhead, and I dreaded what we would find.

It was similar to the charnel pit we found before, but the grass had already been burned to ash on the ground. Some standing stones were scattered around, perhaps fifteen in all. There were four large piles of bone. Each was a mixture of blackened ones by fire and bleached by the sun. The piles surrounded another crude altar to the Tanar’ri lord. On top of the altar I could see the remains of a body sprawled on top of it. There were wisps of smoke from what must have been a pyre behind the altar, its fires long since spent. But while the fire burned low, there was a pervasive sense of dread. A foul energy hung in the air, like a weight on my chest, making me labor to breathe.

Looking about I frowned; what did Foggle see? There was nothing here to—And then I saw it. On the altar I could see an arm start to flail wildly. Whoever lay upon that foul plinth was still fighting for his life. From their mouth came noises; not of a normal person in pain, but a soul being wrenched and twisted.

I wasn’t clear on what was happening to the figure on the altar. I was clear that it was a trap. No gnolls, no hyenas, a victim left alone. The dark wasn’t that it was a trap, it was only what would springing the trap bring onto us.

We looked at each other a moment. There were no words spoken. We slowly made our way down towards the altar. Daneath drew his sword, then he and I took the lead. Iesa pulled out his bow and notched an arrow, and with Beepu followed a distance behind us. And the sight as we grew closer filled me with grave concern. The figure was a male human, dressed in shredded and bloodied robes. His face was covered in blood. It wasn’t splashed randomly, but it was painted on with random shapes across his forehead cheeks and neck. His right arm was bound to the altar, but his left had wormed its way from the bonds and was thrashing. As he thrashed, he shouted incoherently:
Fargh’tan! Gajhstkrin anjaztz konat Yeenoghu. Fargh’tan, Fragh’tan”

The language was Abyssal, and while I only knew some words from that hideous language, the grim fact that he was shouting the Tanari’ri lords name did not bode well.

As we reached his side, I could smell the strong scent of rot. As I looked over the figure, I saw the cause. Both of his legs above the knee were missing, the bone visibly splintered. The rent flesh wept blood and discolored pus on the stone and tattered remains of his robes. The sight was so familiar of another time.

I closed my eyes to the grotesque display in front of me. I had seen this before. Smelled this before. Five years ago. The only difference was the man was screaming in Abyssal, instead of planar common. I was shocked out of my reverie by Beepu behind me:

“I know that man!”

At that point bursting from two of the pile of bones flanking the altar came, monstrous figures. They weren’t skeletons, but instead a horrific effigy of bones knitted together to create large hulking figures now bearing down at us.

“Oh sodding—” was all I had time to say as the abominations bore down on Daneath and I. Daneath stood his ground and the thing swung a knotted mass of bone, knocking away his shield and allowing his second arm to swing and impact Daneath hard in the chest. Daneath sank to a knee and out of the corner of my eye I saw him tremble as he attempted to put up his sword to shield him from the next blow.

I was expecting that the thing would react like the witherlings, and that the second one would turn away with that shuddering feeling and attack someone else. But the strange resonance wasn’t there, and it swung, connecting with my shield. I used the blow’s momentum to spin away from it second swing which missed me completely.

Behind me I heard Iesa fire his arrow into my opponent, piercing it deep somewhere in its torso. That was followed by a blast of fire from Beepu, striking it where a person’s abdomen would be.
I turned to look at Daneath; he was cowering behind his shield, unable to act rationally.

“This is not the time,” I shouted. I took a step towards Daneath and flexed. I could feel the rushing surge up my spine, and I felt the flare of my personal energy burst forth into my hand, causing my ‘wings’ to flare visibly. I quickly laid it on Daneaths shoulder and felt a brief moment of resistance. Then it suddenly faded.

And Daneath reacted, yelling in anger as he swung his blade into the arm of an incoming blow. I heard the cracking of bone, and saw the balled fist deflected away from Daneath. But it was the second fist that connected solidly with his shield and I watched Daneath stagger with the blow.
That distraction of watching Daneath was one I could ill-afford. The other one slipped past my guard and I felt the its balled fist hit me in the ribs. I yelped in pain and pulled some energy from the dark strand, causing a skeletal hand to appear and grasp the things neck. I watched bones break and turn to dust as I kept focusing on it.

“TWANG” and an arrow careens wildly into the grass and I hear Iesa swear something.

“You must focus!” I heard Beepu yell, and another bolt of fire hit the one facing me. The bones creaked and smell of scorched bone permeated the air. Meanwhile, Daneath swung and connected with his opponent, sending a shower of bone shards flying. But as hard as he hit it, it looked unharmed.

This wasn’t good.

Daneath and I stood side by side, with our shields up. As one of them swung down to hit me, I defected it. Daneath did much the same and was able to riposte the strike, chipping away at what resembled a ribcage woven by drunken spiders. While he was landing strikes, they didn’t seem to even slow it down.

I heard Iesa’s bow again and another arrow hit the one in front of me, connecting solidly in the arm. But it wasn’t enough to prevent it from swinging at me again, and I took a grazing hit, while I was able to use my shield to roll with the blow on the second strike. I reached out again with the dark strand and I felt the energy connect. I felt the energy that held the thing together shatter, and the monstrosity collapsed into a heap of decaying, scorched bone.

The second one was having challenges now trying to land a blow on our warrior. But as it tried, arrow and flame struck at its midsection. It staggered briefly at the new attack, but its focus never left Daneath. It beat down on the warrior’s shield, providing another opening and Daneath thrust deep into its body. Of course, there was no blood, only the splinters from the bone and not a great amount of that either. I changed tactics and using the light strand, I threw a bolt of purple energy at it, striking it in what might have called the head. Iesa’s arrow finally connected with it, sinking deep in the upper body so the fletching wasn’t even visible now.

These things didn’t moan or scream. The only sound we heard was the sound of bone creaking and scrapping across each other as it moved, or the sounds of the brothers’ weapons chipping away at it. Daneath held his ground as it pounded at the large man, who tried to bat them away and reply in kind with this sword. But one landed a solid blow again, causing the warrior’s knees to buckle, and then he fell.

I again throw a purple blast of energy at it and watched as another arrow found its mark. But it was a blast from Beepu that brought the pile of bone down into a smoldering heap on the ground. As it fell, the human stopped its tirade and fell quiet.

We waited a moment in the new stillness, expecting more things to jump out the piles of bones. When nothing occurred, I moved over to Daneath and poured a little light into him. He responded with a groan and pulled himself slowly to his feet. I then looked at the dying man and found my voice again;

“Iesa, help me lift this man,” as a ran over to him, I drew out a dagger and started to cut the bonds holding his right arm.

“Sure thing, but where…are we going?” he replied as he grasped the man’s left side and with me on his right and together, we lifted the now unconscious figure upright between us.

“Back to where we camped? Anywhere but here,”

“Back then,” Daneath said looking around as we ran, as Iesa and I carried out the gnolls’ victim.

“Beepu,” I panted. “Mind explaining who this guy is?”

“Yes! Gregor here was a colleague in Candlekeep.” He said excitedly.

“Candlekeep?” I asked

“It is a massive library on the edge of the Sword Coast. Perhaps the largest one of its kind in the world”

“You don’t say,” I grunted as Iesa and I carried the limp torso back towards our prior night’s spot.

“Yes. He was a member of another school there. I have not seen him in years.”

“So,” Daneath asked as he twisted around looking for foes as we made our way back. “What is he doing here of all places?”

“And what is this that horrible smell coming from him?” Iesa asked

“I have not the foggiest idea why he is here. We will have to ask him.”

“The smell is rot, and it’s probably killing him. Back to camp, talk there,” I grunted as we moved the unconscious torso out of the foul altar’s pit.

We backtracked and made our way back to last night’s campsite. Iesa and I were winded by the time we got there with the man. Beepu quickly spread out a bed roll, and Iesa and I gingerly lowered him to the ground, so I could see what could be done.

Underneath the blood markings, the man’s skin was very pale, his breathing shallow. I had felt the tremors wracking through him as we carried him, and he shivered as he lay there on the ground. I knew he was feverish as I could feel the heat when I carried him, and I suspected he was in bad shape.

I knelt next to him and I peeled away some of the robe away from his legs and more of the nauseating smell polluted the air. I pressed gently on his abdomen and found it distended and taut. He was bloated, and it was clear that the rot had set in deep within his bowls. The man was on death’s door, and I was surprised that it had not taken hold yet. I then remembered a tale I heard drinking in the Bottle and Jug that gnolls weren’t born; they were made from their foes.

Could that be happening here I wondered? That night it was a story. This day it was a possible reality. A grim one.

As I examined the man for other injuries, the man’s eyes fluttered open, and he started a wracking cough. He looked at us confused at first and then his eyes settled on the gnome.

“Bee…Bee..Beepu?” he sounded incredulous as he spoke haltingly.

“Yes, it is I. What are you doing here Gregor?”

Gregor leaned his head back and closed his eyes. His breathing was labored. Daneath put a bedroll under his head, while I uncorked a waterskin and touched it to his lips. The man reached up and grasped at the skin and swallowed repeatedly. Finally, he lay it back against his side, mouthing the word “Thanks.”

“Gregor,” Beepu asked again intently.

“Looking…for…artifacts.” He stammered.

“Artifacts?” Beepu asked staring at him intently.

The figure nodded, “Yes…the Elks…buried…many things at…Flint Rock.”

Iesa and Daneath looked at each other, “Flint Rock?” Iesa asked suspiciously. “What do you know of Flint Rock?”

“A grave…blocked by a…door. The door…is a…game. Either you open it…or…or…it takes…your life.” Gregor stammered.

Beepu sat on the other side of the man and grasped his robes, “You were not alone. Who else?” he demanded.

“An…Avowed named Chriton…and four appren…tices. Including my…self.”

“And, where are they?” Daneath asked.

“The door…won. Took their lives. Tired…so…tired…” and the man looked like he was near to passing out.

“How far is this door?” Iesa asked, as he pulled out his map with the markings.

“Not…far..from…here. Half..a..day,” and he closed his eyes and lay there breathing heavily.

We silently looked at each other for some time. Then Beepu spoke first:

“Well, lets head back to town,” he said.

“What? We are almost there, and you want to go back?” Iesa said.

“We cannot let him die here!” He exclaimed.

“Beepu,” I said softly. “He’s almost done. He has the stink of rot, and it has already settled into his organs. He has almost no blood. And it seems that may be cursed to…”

“To what?” Iesa asked apprehensively.

“To turn into a gnoll,” I finished.

“All the more reason for us to head to town. Its his best chance to—”

I looked upwards for guidance I guessed. But upon doing so, I realized we had a new problem circling above us.

“Beepu. I can’t give him legs,” I started. “I can’t cure the rot and keep it away. There is a flock of carrion birds above us that is going to attract gnolls from everywhere. He isn’t going to make it, and we might not either if we try.”

“We cannot just leave him to die.” Beepu exclaimed.

“What else can we do?” Iesa said puzzled.

“Myr is right. All we can do is give him a clean death.” Daneath said.

Beepu whirled and confronted Daneath, “We cannot do that! We can save him. We should save him.”

As the three fell to arguing, stayed kneeling besides Gregor holding his hand. This was so familiar to me. It was only five years ago during the Faction War. An eternity ago. But I remembered it clearly…

Session notes:

This was an argument. I would say the argument took longer than the encounter itself did. It was one of things I did like about this campaign. Nothing was ever morally straightforward.

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Lizard folk in disguise
A Final Kiss of Mercy – Part 2 - 08/01/2019

A Final Kiss of Mercy - Part 2

The Faction War was a “short war.” The Blood War was far older, and still rages today.

But every time I hear it being called ‘short’ I only have one thought.

It wasn’t short enough.

But I remembered it clearly…

The Faction War was a mess. The Factols had vanished. The Sinkers and the Hardheads were fighting openly on the streets. Ely Cromlich was arming anyone who asked for a blade. Factions were taking sides, and blood was spilling everywhere. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was in the middle of this, that the Blood War spilled into Sigil for the first time in long memory. Tanar’ri and Baatezu portals opened up between different groups of Sinkers and Hardheads. The fighting took a grim new turn as this new chaos broke out everywhere.

The Civic Festhall was a safe haven for a while, but once the fiends invaded, no where in The Cage was safe. A large pack of Tanar’ri assaulted the Festhall, looking to take revenge on an old slight by the Factol Erin Montgomery. But while they looked, many others paid the price. The poor most of all.

I was in a tenement off of Founder’s Fence, with my mentor, a Githerzai who simply referred to himself as “the Speaker.” I never knew his given name, but it was he that taught me all I know about my Lord of Death, Kelemvor. He taught me the litany’s, the precepts and the principals. But it was on the 34th day of the War that I finally understood their importance and took it to heart.

The Speaker brought us to Founder’s Fence with a purpose; to help anyone we could. I didn’t have any magic then, and I wasn’t a soldier, having only a solitary dagger to my name. But while he had no magic himself, he was a good healer.

The Lady of Pain had shut the portals down, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. It stopped the Blood War within the Cage from getting worse, but the citizens were panicked and desperate. Violence was spilling everywhere. And the poor sods found succor where they could.

I was walking alongside of The Speaker, when we came up to one such place. A makeshift infirmary, and we both quickly set to work. It was grisly, messy, and it seemed to never end. There was no priest or even or any other skilled healers here; they were all near where the fighting was, healing the solders of one faction or another. Or the rich. Or their faithful.

But the poor, had no such access to magic or skill and had precious little faith left. Many died to their wounds, bleeding to death or their shells too injured to continue. But many more died to rot, as it set in driving victims to fever, chills and then death. Those who survived through both simply sat and waited. Everyone had lost someone or something, and all that remained were shattered memories.

We helped as many as we could. Kelemvor teaches that death should come at its ordained time and you should fight to live against things that prevent it. That was easy, to help tend and bandage wounds. To ease the sufferings of small ills. But what I learned that day was harder.

The Speaker had touched me on the shoulder and said to me, “There is a man in that room there,” he gestured to the back of the dingy tenement. “I have done what I can, but it will not be enough. He may need Kelemvor’s blessing and…your help.” He handed to me a cloth wrapped bundle, holding something long and heavy.

I slowly unwrapped Inside of it gleamed a long piece of metal. A stiletto, long thin, with a triangular shaped to it, made of Baatezu greensteel.

I trembled as I held the bundle and I looked at my mentor and asked, “The young smith, right? I remember some of the others talking about him.” I looked at the blade, uncertain and then I looked again at my mentor.

“How do I know he’s…ready?”

“Ask him. Do not push. Traditionally, he should ask three times for certainty.” He said somberly. “I have shown you how to use the blade. But for you to become a proper Doomguide…all you must do is help him pass the veil, on whatever terms he wishes.” And he again gestured to the back.
I took the bundle in my hands and walked slowly to the rear of the building.

“How do I know I’m ready?” I said to myself.

At the back was broken doorframe, leading to a small darkened room. I took a deep breath and I stepped inside.

There laying on a bed of straw was a young man, barely older than I was. He had strong burly arms, marked with soot and the occasional scar. His build was clearly one of a smith, young and strong in his trade. But now, his skin was sallow and pale, and glistened in sweat. But his abdomen looked to be bloated. Looking him over, I saw that his left thigh was crushed, no longer straight or firm in definition. Blood oozed through the bandage soaking it thoroughly. But it was the smell of that told me his time was nearly over. A rotten miasma, which was strong in the small space.

The man opened his eyes and looked at me. He then smiled with hope and started to prop himself up, wincing in pain as I moved over to sit on the edge of his bed.

“An..an angel?” he asked with a raged whisper.

I bowed my head down guiltily, “I’m…I’m sorry no. I just…look the part.”

He collapsed and sunk back into the straw, “Are there any…any healers that will come.”

My head still bowed, “I’m sorry, but…other than The Speaker, there are no skilled healers here, and he told me that he has done what he can, but--”

“So... I’m going to…?” letting the sentence trail off, unwilling to say the word.
I nod slowly and quietly.

“Can’t you just…take my…take my leg and—”

“There is a modron with a bonesaw here, but…your leg is shattered; Just muscle and skin. There isn’t much to saw. You would likely bleed to death if the…”

“If the what?”

“If the rot doesn’t take you first. It has…set in deep.” And I laid my hand on his forehead and could feel the heat as he burned to my touch.

“So…why are you here?” he asked with a note of anger.

“I…I am here to help. I just…can’t heal you.”

“How? How are you--”


“And…what does?...”

“Provide comfort where we can. To provide guidance if needed. And to…help you if wanted to...”

“Help me?…ah…I…I see…” he said as the implications sank in and the tears started to flow down his face.

I held his hand fast, “We often don’t get the time to face death,” I said. “But when you do, it should be on your terms.”

“So…I might bleed away. I might go mad with fever. Or I can…ask for your help?”

“Yes,” I said softly, still holding his hand with mine. I could feel that I was trembling and hoped he didn’t notice. And in my other hand, I still clutched the bundle with the greensteel blade within.

“Does…it hurt?”

“The pain…ends. No one wants to prolong it,” I replied.

The man in bed turned his head, no longer wishing to face me. The tears still streamed down his cheek.

“It’s not fair. I…I…I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to.”

“Old Sensates say the same thing,” and I gave the slightest smile

He chuckled a moment, “I guess I’ll be in good company then.” He lay there for a while, avoiding looking at me. “But I don’t have to?”

“No. It’s your end. Your choice.”

“What must I do?”

“You…ask three times, and if I feel that you are…in your own mind I…grant you peace.”

He looked at me a moment and then he asked a question as he realized something.

“You’ve…never done this before? Have you?”

I shook my head, “If…If you want I can—”

“No, no. You’re fine, I guess. Are you…alright to do this?”

I closed my eyes a second and breathed deeply and nodded, mouthing yes silently on my lips. And then I finally said, “Yes…I can do this.”

“Are you…sure?”

I looked at him for a moment and then I looked down at our clutched hands holding tightly. Finding the courage, I spoke again:

“It…doesn’t matter if I am or not. It matters that I help someone in need. It matters that I help you.”

He was quiet with his tears for a moment. “I don’t want to lay here and wait for…something. If you can...”

I shook my head affirmative and then said, “That’s one.”

He nodded, “I’m…I’m glad you are here then. I’ll do want your help.”

“That’s two,” I said quieter, and I could feel my own eyes tear up.

He nodded and then he turned to face me. I knew that he was looking at his own reflection in my eyes. Wondering what had gone wrong that it was to end…at all.

“You have such…wonderful eyes. I have never seen any like…I wish…I wish…”

He then took a deep sigh and closed his eyes.

“I’m ready…please.”

As he closed his eyes, I shook loose the cloth from the blade, and I took at look at him as he lay there rigid, bracing himself, and grimacing.

It was all wrong. My tears flowed freely now, and I released his hand and brought my left hand behind his neck, as I leaned over him, and kissed him straight on the lips.

I could feel him tense a moment, and then he relaxed returning the kiss. In that kiss I could tell that, he forgot where he was. All he could feel was the love from another person. And as he let go of his concerns, I then with my right hand, thrust the stiletto between his ribs, pointing upwards behind his heart.

His eyes flew open in surprise and then he released his hold on my lips and gasped. Pulling back, I looked into his face and saw the look of what was at once surprise, soften into a faint smile, and finally a look of peace.

I sat there and cried, never tearing my eyes away from that face. The from behind me I felt my mentor’s hand on my shoulder, and then I heard him whisper in his dry papery voice:

Speed well on your journey beyond the veil,

“And may the Judge of the Dead speed you onward hence,”

I heard him withdraw; leaving me there alone with my raw emotions. I was unsure what I should have felt; Sorrow? Relief? What surprised me was that I felt exhalted. And while I didn’t understand why, I took solace that I simply felt.

My first mercy. My first kiss.

There were others I kissed during the next several days following. We wandered the Hive, helping. And I kissed many. Far too many; thirty nine in all. Young and old. Men and Women. Tielfing, humans, bariaur, genasi, and githerzerai. The worst ones were children. Too many did I kiss, and with all of them I did I ask their forgiveness. And yet, each at the end was the wiser and more compassionate than I.

And now, I was kneeling next to another man, faced with an even grimmer fate. Not injury to his body, not rot, but the loss of a soul to an Abyssal lord. But now, my companions argued on what the right course was; try to save him or put him out of his misery?

“This is wrong; we cannot decide this,” Beepu exclaimed.

“Beepu, what you believe we could do, doesn’t matter.” I said softly.

“Of course, it matters! We should do everything we can to—”

“And what about what HE wants? That’s what matters; not what we think.” Said, barely raising my voice, letting the anger I felt through my clenched teeth.

And now, I stared at Gregor with sympathy. His breathing was ragged and labored. I leaned forward towards his ear.


“I know,” he whispered. “They cursed me. I’m going to…to...”

I started to cry, “I..I..think so. I don’t know…but you were talking earlier in Abyssal.”

“I…I know I am done for. Take…take me while I still have my soul. Please…”

I looked at my companions, and they slowly nodded. Beepu clearly didn’t agree with Gregor’s choice, but he understood it and appeared to respect it.

“How do we do—” Iesa started.

“I’ll take care of it,” I responded softly.

I took Gregor’s hand and I leaned close to him and I whispered:

Speed well on your journey beyond the veil,

“And may the Judge of the Dead speed you onward hence,”

I drew out from my boot, the same greensteel stiletto. My tears still flowing.

And I gave him a Final Kiss.

Session notes:
In the end after we did this, I wrote a version of this mostly to explain why. Writing that story, really is the genesis for turning the campaign into a prose format.

Last edited:


Lizard folk in disguise
Doors - 8/7/2019


A closed and locked door is perhaps the worst thing you can present a Sensate. ‘What’s hiding beyond it?’ The idea of interesting things beyond waiting to be experienced makes a Sensate like a cat. The cat is on the wrong side of every door.

Of course, a planeswalker with any experience will point out what should be obvious.
Some doors should stay shut.

I sat up again and looked at the man, now sleeping peacefully in the arms of death. My tears were gone, and within me I felt a strange mixture of peace and exaltation. Each time I gave a final kiss, I felt this way. One part of me always wondered - why? Why should I feel that way killing someone? Even if they asked for it? Even if they needed it?

Beepu’s face was dark and his face scowling at me. And I couldn’t say that he was wrong. But I didn’t see a way to save him. But shouldn’t I have tried?

Iesa and Daneath appeared to be in agreement in the necessity. But as dangerous as each man was, I could only see Daneath actually doing it. Iesa, while capable and no coward to a fight didn’t seem the type to carry out an errand of mercy.

All of these things they each wore on their face openly as each looked at Gregor in his repose. Finally, Iesa spoke.

“I couldn’t make that kind of choice,” Iesa said.

I turned to look at him, “I hope you never have to. Any of you.”

And turning back again to look at Gregor I whisper to myself:

“Or I.”

Daneath nudged Iesa and I could hear him quietly say “Lets see if we can find some stone and build a cairn,” and both left the campsite, leaving Beepu and myself with Gregor’s body.

I looked in my pouch for a pair of greenies and some cloth, and I knelt by Gregor, and put a coin on each eye, and then bound the cloth around his head to keep them in place and began to utter a prayer. A prayer to allow the body to rest peacefully as the soul would travel on. Somewhere in the middle of this, Beepu finally spoke.

“Myrai. I cannot…agree with what you believed was right. But I can say at least you treated him with dignity. But, what if he said no?”

I stopped and thought a moment. “If he wanted to face his end head on? I wouldn’t have stopped him. Might have restrained him though in case he…turned. And then, we would be fighting for our lives, and perhaps his soul. Then, I would be blessing his shell, so it didn’t rise again.

“His shell?”

I nodded, “I don’t know where the term came from, but the Dustmen use it when they refer to the fragile bodies holding our soul. Anyway, we would have likely killed him, in a more painful way.”

“Are you really certain?”

I nodded, “As certain as anyone can be. If I was wrong, well…my god will judge me at the end of things.”

He remained silent, until the brothers returned. Daneath and Iesa moved the body to what appeared to be a dry creek, with lots of worn rounded stones. By peak, we had covered the body and made our way northwards once again.

We threaded our way between several smoke pillars from more pyres. As we neared sundown, we came to what appeared to be a large earthen mound, in the middle of a rising bluff, overlooking a nearby river. As we approached, I realized it was a humongous stone slab, laying half buried in the earth. And in the center was a carved rectangular opening leading below.

Flint Rock.

We stopped a moment; it had been almost fourteen days since we set out looking for this place. And now, none of wanted to move forward. Three of us sought clues to the family that had left behind. And as for me; I was looking for a glimmer of hope for a way home. But as I stood in front of the rock, I could feel that nothing ahead was right. That something dark lay ahead; disturbed from its endless slumber. Something that gnawed at me. I did not want to go in.

But the brothers, and Beepu were far more motivated, and they stepped cautiously into the opening that led down below the rock. I gamely followed, producing light on the shield so the brothers could see.

The vault we entered was a decent size. On the ground were deeply inscribed grooves, creating sweeping curves and whorls in rock. The room was supported by five solid pillars of rocks, each carved with symbols of animals and humanoid figures.

Even the roof of the vault was covered with these carvings, deep in the rock to withstand the ages. Some had signs of pigments; blues, reds and black being the most common. This gave the room an aura of primal power. One of strength and might, but animalistic. Even now, as the dust and the wisps of cobwebs on the upper reaches of the gallery. But there was a feeling of this was something in the long past. Of ancient glories almost forgotten.

Almost. On the ground I saw the remainders of ash and soot. Coming over to investigate, found bits of bone, leather, cloth and left-over bits of metal. The others investigated similar piles scattered around the room. It was then I saw it on the wall.

It was a circular shape with a diameter half again my height. On it in relief were circular disks, three in all arranged in a triangle, with symbols of animals, weapons and other shapes. On the floor in front of it, was another pile of ash, but this one had a dagger laying on the ground, and the burnt remains of a book, now discarded with many of its pages turned to ash.

I kept looking at the rings, trying to make sense of what it was for, as the others started to talk.
“These must have been Gregor’s companions,” Daneath said as he poked in one pile with his sword. “But what did this?”

“That did,” Beepu said pointing at the shape on the wall. “My guess it is the door they spoke of. And that is a very complex puzzle lock.”

“So, you have a plan Beepu?” Daneath asked.

“Yes of course! I am going to study it, and remember the last position on the marks!”

“What does that tell us?” Daneath asked confused.

“Well, it is clearly incorrect as it killed them. So we can be certain to avoid this one.”

“There has to be a faster way,” I commented. “I mean if time wasn’t a problem sure I bet you
could. But somehow I can’t imagine your fathers not leaving behind something else as a clue.”

“Are you doubti—”

“No, just the speed. And that that you have to do this blindly.”

“Wait a minute…” Iesa muttered, and he reached into is side pouch, and drew out the map we had been following. We moved over to his side and clustered around.

Normally, Iesa was very protective of the map, rarely letting any of look at it or the drawings written upon it. Now we looked together at the strange document. I could see the path we followed; the mark for Flint Rock, the canyon we passed days ago.

Across the document were scattered symbols and arcs and more circles; some dark and some faint. I looked at Iesa quizzically hoping for a clue on what I was looking at or for. And I as looked, I could see his eyes widen and the look of comprehension spread across his face.

“I understand it. The circles on the map are the positions that need to be used on the wall.” He said quickly, tracing his finger across the marks.

“That does not help us,” Beepu started. “We do not know where to start or end and we only know one position to avoid.”

“They’re numbered,” Iesa said. “This map has the sequence,”

“How? I do not see any numbers.”

“It doesn’t work like that. But for those who understand the cant, it’s clear.”

“That is a bit to stake our lives on,” Beepu frowned.

“I’ll take it,” I said. “What do I do?”

“Same here,” Daneath said.

Iesa turned to look at me with surprise and then looked at both of us nodded. “Go to the wall and turn the upper disc so the symbol of an axe is on top. Then turn the lower right disk so the Axe symbol is near the center of the three, and the lower left one so the axe is on the opposite side of the center. Then touch each axe.”

“Alright,” and I moved over to the symbol on the door. Hesitantly I reached out towards the right most disc, grimacing and expecting to become the next pile of ash. But my hands touched the stone with no ill effects. The stone itself felt cold, and rough as I moved my hands over it to fine a grip to turn it. It wasn’t smooth to turn, but nor was it a huge effort. As I started to turn the disc to align the Axe symbol, I saw Beepu step up and start to do the same with the left disc, while Daneath stood between reaching the upper one.

In moments, the axes were aligned, and Daneath started to count upwards; “One…two…three!” and we all pressed the symbol. As we did so I know I scrunched my eyes shut and tensed waiting for the blow…

…that never came. I hadn’t even realized I was holding my breath, until I had to let it out, which was followed by everyone else.

I chuckled, “Well, at least Iesa got that one right,”

“Hey!” Iesa said looking up from the map.

“Well, if he gets it wrong, I will have some strong words to say,” Beepu said archly in a mocking manner.

“Good news, we won’t know or care if it does,” I said. “What’s next?”

“Thanks a lot…oh…um upper disk with the snake symbol at the bottom, the right disk with the snake in the middle, and the left with the snake opposite the middle.

The three of us followed the instructions, and again did a count down and press. Then Iesa gave out the final set:

“Elk symbol at the top of the top disk, the Elk symbol opposite the middle on the right, and the Elk opposite the middle on the left…But then press the sun symbol on each disc.”

We complied with the rotation and after looking at each other, Daneath again counted it off:




This time when we pushed on the symbols, we felt and heard a loud snap and then silence. We looked at each other nervously, and then we heard the sound of stone slowly scaping against stone. Taking a step back from the lock we watched fascinated, as the rock gradually sunk into the ground, exposing a tunnel descending beneath.

I flexed and cast a light on Daneath’s shield, while he strapped it back onto his arm. Shining it down the passage, I could see it descended gradually out of my sight. On the ground there was a thick layer of dust. But looking closer I saw there was a faint outline of two sets of prints heading downwards.

“Hey, do you see that…?” and I gestured to the faint trail, when I noticed that the boots led only one direction.

“They don’t come back out,” Daneath said completing my thought and turning to look at each of us.

“What does that mean?” Iesa asked with a note of worry on this voice.

“That there probably is another way out!” Beepu said confidently.

“That’s one possibility,” I muttered to myself quietly not wanting to mention another possibility, lest I curse us with ill thoughts. Daneath, started moving downwards, and I quickly followed him, with the others following close behind along with Foggle overhead, and Mo on Iesa’s shoulder. The brothers drew their weapons, while Beepu and I were ready with incantations if the need arose

The passage descended deeply into the earth. Soon I could taste moisture in the air and smell damp earth. But more than that I felt cold; like the warmth was leaving me as we proceeded. I could tell that Beepu at least felt the same as I heard him rub his hands rapidly over his arms in an attempt to stay warm. But was another feeling that preoccupied me as we continued downwards.

It was that gnawing presence. As if the shadows here beneath the earth were trying to sustain themselves on my soul. It was a discomforting feeling that made me anxious.

Soon the shield lit up an ornately carved stone door of granite. There was again whorls and circles, but not totems or other shapes on it. As I stared at it, Beepu broke the silence.

“There! A lock.” And he pointed to a metal box on the left side of the door with an oddly shaped keyhole.

“I’m on this,” and Iesa stepped forward and knelt down in front of it, pulling a leather satchel from his belt pouch. We waited as Iesa carefully poked and prodded with picks inside the lock.



“And?” I asked.

“I’m on this…but I just broke my pick.”

“Well…pull it out,”

“I uh…can’t. It’s jammed.”

“Really? Now?” Daneath asked incredulously

“I will not let us be thwarted by your inability to pick a lock!” Beepu said angrily, and his hands started to move as he started to cast a spell.

“Oh, come on! It’s rusty with all the moisture!” Iesa said standing up and spreading his hands outwards.

“Sure that it isn’t you that is rusty?” I asked.

Before he could respond, Beepu said; “There!”

I looked at the door and it didn’t seem changed. Or open.

“Beepu, it’s still closed,” Iesa said.

“I did not open it. I made it easier to deal with the lock.” The gnome said archly.

I looked at the door again and realized that there was a difference. The rusty metal lock mechanism was changed to a light brown color. Staring at it closer I released it was a type of wood. I turned to Beepu confused and was about to ask the obvious, when Iesa spoke up first.

“I can’t pick a wooden lock!”

“You don’t need to,” Daneath said as he lowered his shoulder and slammed into the door with his weight. The lock broke apart into splinters and the stone door swung open.

“I can’t pick that either,” Iesa said crestfallen.

“Come on,” Daneath said and he led the way inside.

We arrived at an intersection and ahead of us was another door while passages led left and right, turning around corners in both directions. Daneath walked over to the stone door and looked it over and turned to Iesa:

“Ok, here’s your chance to redeem yourself,”

“Umm…I can’t”

“Why not?” Daneath said with some surprise.

“There isn’t a lock,” Iesa said pointing at the sides of the door. Looking at it, not just the lock was missing. There wasn’t a latch, a handle, or even a pull ring.

“Can you turn that into wood?” I asked Beepu.

“Definitely not. Too large.”

Daneath put his shoulder against the door and pushed but the stone refused to move. He tried to push it sideways. He even tried to find a grip to pull on it to no avail.

“Rusty?” Iesa asked mockingly.

“Not helping.” Daneath said in frustration. “Let’s try another passage.”

Returning to the intersection, we headed to the left, and found another intersection, with stone doors on the left and right, and the passage continuing straight turning a corner. Checking the doors, we found that beyond some artistic differences, they were the same as the first one we found. No lock or handle.

“Well this is a problem,” Beepu observed.

“Maybe if we found some tools?” Iesa said.

“We can keep an eye out I suppose. Let’s keep moving.” I said.

We continued down, and the passage opened up into a small room, with an exit opposite the passage we came from. The room itself had a pair of statues of human like shapes in two of the corners, while a low altar of stone sat in near the center of the wall towards our left, and between the statues in the corner.

Stepping into the room I looked at the altar, and it seemed unremarkable. There was melted wax from long ago, crumbling with age on the surface. I looked around and was puzzled; I still felt on edge, and the gnawing was present. But this wasn’t was I was imagining from a barbarian tribe. This seemed more sophisticated. All of it did; the stonework, the doors, everything.

Beepu started to chant something and his eyes opened with a dim white light now flashing within. I knew the spell in question, and I watched him search the room for dweomers. He stepped forward towards the altar and then stepped around it toward the wall behind it. I watched him, curious to what had gotten his interest. The I was surprised to see him walk right through the wall and disappeared.

I stepped up to the wall and reached forwards. I half expected to feel a wall, but my hand passed through it as well. I was about to step through, when Beepu stepped out again, holding a bundle.

“What did you find?” Iesa asked.

“It’s just an alcove, with the remains of cloth and leather. But this…this is in good condition,” and he held up a short cloak. While it was short, in length, it was broad at the top, as if made for a human sized frame. It was a deep maroon, with a fur trim around the hood and edges.

“It’s interesting, why is it intact then?” I asked.

“Because it appears to have a warding enchantment on it. Why do you not try it Myrai?”

“Me?” I was surprised. Somehow, I thought he would have taken the cloak right then as a first finders claim.

“No, you. After that incident with the hyenas and the bone things; you probably could use it best.

“Go ahead Myr,” said Iesa while Daneath nodded.

I reached out and grasped it; the maroon material was thin supple leather and the fur was luxuriously soft. I pull it around me and fastened it with a pin that was already attached to it. Somehow this cloak felt comforting just by wearing it. And I admit that I felt wilder somehow wearing it.

“I don’t know wa…thanks,” I said sheepishly.

“Well, lets keep moving then.” Daneath said and led us down the opposite passage. Following it we turned a corner, and then it turned again, coming to yet another intersection. Two stone doors again on the left and right, but this time a wooden door was in front of us ten paces from the intersection.
“Can you open that?” Iesa and Daneath asked each other, both gesturing at the door. Both stopped a second and briefly laughed and then each graciously offered the first crack at the door. Finally, Iesa stepped up to it and then disappointed said:

“There isn’t a lock; just the door handle.” He then grasped the handle and pushed open the door.
Daneath flooded the room with light, exposing a wall full of scrolls and a table covered in dust.

“One moment!” and Beepu rushed inside to look at the shelves, eager to find something he could use or learn from. His eyes were still aglow from his incantation, and I suspected he was quietly recasting the same ritual over and over again.

Mo bounded onto the table, kicking up a cloud of dust, while Foggle effortlessly circled near the ceiling in the room. Looking around, there was a door that was on the left of the entrance way, similar to the one on the way in.

Beepu quickly snorted with disgust, “The moisture has destroyed everything.:

“This is strange. Scrolls? Aren’t these barbarians like…savages? That’s how they were described in the bars.” I said looking at Beepu.

“Perhaps they are not. Or were not. No one has been down here in a while, our fathers notwithstanding.”

“Well we keep looking then,” Daneath said, and he reached and pulled open the door.
I turned to look at him, and he stood still at the doorway and didn’t move.

“What’s wrong Daneath?” I asked.

“What do you mean? I can’t see in the room; even with your light.”

“Wha?...” I said and took a step forward and stood beside Daneath. To me I couldn’t see any darkness at all, but I could see that my light didn’t brighten anything either. But that was all what I was able to process as I saw a figure stepping in front of the door.

“Get out of the way!”

Session notes:

So, I scored a cloak of protection and it became a running cloak. From there on there were many times that I saved from being hit by magic, or an opponent missed by 1 to the cheers of “The cloak!” What was strange was that at the time, no one else wanted it.

After having my bacon saved repeatedly, there were lots of regrets in turning it down.



Lizard folk in disguise
Faith healing - 08/15/2019

Belief is the strongest thing in the multiverse. It transcends the mortal self and forges places and powers.

Most of the time you don’t question what you believe in. When you do that is normally a crisis.

But sometimes we don’t know what we believe. And there is an interesting journey from there.

I grasped at Daneath and tried to pull him back. Just within an arm’s length, I saw a shape of a tall, extremely slender figure, almost sickly. But where its face should have been was smooth and featureless. Silently it reached for the big warrior and I only had a moment to throw a blast of energy, striking it in the midsection.

But I was too late, as the form grasped at Daneath, its shadowy hand like appendage, passed through his armor. I could hear him groan in pain, and he staggered backwards, breathing heavily. Within me I could feel that sickly resonance, but stronger than I had felt before.

Iesa whirled, drawing his rapier and stared at the entryway where Daneath stumbled backwards from.

“What? I don’t see anything,”

“I cannot see in there,” Beepu said frantically, looking for something to throw his magic at.

“It’s there!” I shouted, pointing wildly at the opening, and then I looked again.

They…are. Move!” and I pulled Daneath backwards away from the door. Within the next room, I saw three figures slowly and deliberately moving towards the opening.

Then, the three figures suddenly surged forward. I felt slow as I watched the entities moved with a fluid like grace and speed. One reached for Daneath and he swung desperately with his sword, attempting to fend off the shadowy foe. A second one flowed straight towards Iesa, who thrust straight into its amorphous chest, then he spun avoiding its grasping tendrils.

The third one streamed towards me, and I could feel the resonance again; the Strand vibrated and struggled against the negative energy that the figure exuded. The feeling was intense and I could see it struggle to grasp at me. Time felt slow as I watched it strain towards me. Finally, it twisted and rushed towards Beepu. He scrambled to the back of the room and as I watched he faded from sight, leaving the shadowy form without a target for the moment.

I reached out with the Strand and a pair of skeletal hands grasped at the shadows in front of me. I could feel them rend and tear at the foul energies holding them together. Daneath and Iesa both swung again, both finding success with their swings. Daneath was fortunate that the undead thing scraped against his shield, while Iesa’s agility was enough to keep himself safe.

Then the hairs stood up at the back of my neck and turned to see the third one reaching towards me. I barely had enough time to raise my shield keeping it between me and the shadow, but once again the strand held and it twisted and tried to attack Iesa this time, with no success.

Fortunately, Beepu didn’t stay hidden, as he threw a bolt of fire at the shadow attacking Daneath. It started to dissolve into a fine mist. With that one down, I focused on the Strand again, this time pulling on the lighter energy. Instantly, a beam of radiant light struck Iesa’s attacker, causing it to dissolve in the air as well.
Daneath whirled and charged the last one on his brother, cleaving at it twice with desperation, while Iesa attempted to lunge at it. His blade didn’t strike it, but it was enough of a distraction that Beepu’s second Fire bolt found its mark and the last one fell, its form dissolving away.

The large warrior was winded, and he sunk to a knee, breathing heavily.

“D…what’s wrong?” I asked reaching over and steadying his shoulders as he gasped.

“Feel cold…tired…the armor feels…heavy,” he panted.

“Sodding…they must have drained him.” I said.

“What in the hells were those things,” Iesa said looking over his blade, unsure if he wanted to clean it.

“Shadows. Creatures of undeath that rob you of your vitality. Make you weaker,” I responded looking over Daneath to see how serious his wounds were.

“Well, that was more than I expected. And I still cannot see into that room, now that they are gone.” Beepu said peering towards the doorway.

“Give me a moment, and I rose and walked into the room. If it was dark, I couldn’t see it. All the rooms, the halls looked the same to me; well-lit and no shadows. As it turned out, the room was mostly empty; with only some moldering cots and mattresses ravaged by time. On a table nearby, I found a small coin purse falling apart with a case of dry rot. I could see the glint of golden metal and I swept up the coins and pocked them for later. Once I saw the room had no other exit I returned to my compatriots.

“Nothing much, some jink is all. Better Daneath?”

The warrior shook his head, “I’m real tired, but I don’t want to stay here.”

We retrace our steps to the first intersection and come past another pair of impassible stone doors. Continuing past that the passage twists and turns until we enter a large hallway, with pillars supporting a vaulted ceiling. Here there were remains of banners, their color leached away with time. Here also were more carving and symbols on the walls.

This all felt primal in some way, unlike the other room which had a more spiritual feel to it. I traced my hand on the carvings in the rock, wondering about the Elk tribe. Why did they create this? Why did they seal it away?

But as I wondered, I could feel the wrongness too. Some shard of darkness was near. No, not darkness; sickness. It was now strong enough to make my stomach turn.

“You feeling alright?” Iesa asked.

“I…no…I don’t know. Something isn’t right. I’ll be fine let’s keep looking around.”

Iesa nodded and touched me on the shoulder. He moved and stayed close to Daneath who still was having difficulty. But he refused help from Iesa and kept moving.

The chamber had an exit on the far end, and we continued on. Soon we found another pair of stone doors. But now the sense of wrongness was getting far stronger, moving from discomfort to borderline pain. I gritted my teeth, trying to push it away from my mind, keeping focused on my surroundings.

The passage opened into a square room, with a passage leading out ahead on the far right of the room. As we entered, I could finally feel the source of pain. I closed my eyes and tried to shake my head to clear my thoughts, letting out a groan.

“Myr?” Daneath turned to look at me with alarm.

“Can’t…can’t you feel it?” I said between clenched teeth, trying to steady myself as I leaned against the entrance way.

“Feel what exactly?” Beepu asked puzzled.

Opening my eyes, I pointed to the far corner of the room.

“That…the pain it gives off.”

In the far corner was a statue of a majestic Elk its shoulder line was taller than I and colored a dark black. The statue was standing in a pool which edge was decorated with carved patterns. But what caught my eye most was that the statue was covered in sickly green moss on its back, that oozed and dripped a brown liquid in to the basin. I was almost sure that the moss was glowing, but with my vision it made it difficult to be sure.
“I do not feel anything at all,” Beepu said as Foggle landed on his shoulder. “But that statue has seen better times,” he remarked. I now noticed that Mo, was avoiding the statue altogether as he scurried around the room.

I stepped carefully towards the figure, each step accentuating the pain that gripped me. As I approached, I realized that it was actually made of wood. But the statue wasn’t carved from it, but it was rather grown into its current shape. The black color was a product of mold from the moisture, and it covered the body where there was no moss. It’s antlers were easily wider than I was tall, and also dripped with moss.

What was this? Why could I feel it? Why only I?

“There isn’t much here, we should keep looking,” Iesa said after glancing into the pool, looking for valuables or signs of his father.

“We can wait a moment. Right Myr?” Daneath asked.

“We should look for a way to open those doors is what we should do!” Beepu exclaimed frustrated.

“I’ve been thinking; those are probably tombs,” Daneath said. “And I don’t think our fathers came here to rob graves.

“I thought the Elk built cairns,” Iesa commented.

“This…this is far older,” I said stepping next to the Elk figure, “This place…hasn’t been used in a long time. But I think Daneath is right.”

“So now what?” Beepu asked the brothers and they began to talk. But I ceased to pay attention to them. The pain was intense, as I saw the moss had invaded deep into fissures in the wood. As I looked at it closely, I realized that this looked familiar.

It resembled the rot that stole so many on the battlefield. The discoloration, the ooze, the swelling in the wood. I realized then that the statue wasn’t trying to hurt me. It was simply radiating its own pain. I couldn’t take it any longer. I didn’t know if I could help, but I needed to do something to lessen it. Anything. I reached out with a hand and touched the wooden muzzle of the statue and started to pour some energy into it.

The reaction was swift. At first the light flowed into the statue easily. The darkness inside was hungering and trying to swallow it all from me. I gasped and then tried to force more energy into the darkness; trying to overwhelm it. I felt my face contorting in pain as I pushed harder and harder. Around me I knew there was shouting, but none of the words meant anything to me. All that mattered was defeating that core of darkness inside the wooden form.

I pushed again, and I could feel the Strand within me twisting and coiling. It was active in fighting the darkness. But the battle had moved beyond the statue; I was now a part of the battlefield as I expended more and more power. I wasn’t in control in any tangible way; all I could do was brute force; my light against the dark.

And I was losing. I was tiring my reserves from the Strand waning. The darkness was eager to consume again; and I had unwittingly exposed myself. Sweat poured off my forehead as I strained to find more energy from the Strand. All the light was gone, and only the scant amount of dark threads were left. Somehow, I knew that tapping those would make things worse.

I was going to die.

I could barely think coherently. My left hand reached up to touch the holy symbol I wore. My fingers brushed the scales and the bones, and I then gripped it tightly. It was my shield that had protected me. It was my beacon that lit the way. And it needed more. Like it wanted proof of my faith. Could I sacrifice all? Would I?

The decision wasn’t hard. I reached within again, but not to the Strand, but that small part of self that brought light and could cure ailments. It was all I had left and I with desperation I threw it at the darkness. I could feel the energy flare up and down my spine, and I could see the flash of light in the corners of my eyes as my ethereal wings appeared.

The energy struck the darkness and I could feel it recoil. It was almost like my wings had swept forward to surround it and hold it place as I started to rend it asunder. I was screaming now something, words in Celestial pouring from my mouth as I tried to crush the darkness with my will. With my faith.
Then the Strand reacted. Not the light, but the darkened threads reached for the core I fought against. And then suddenly, I felt my being swallowing it, wrapped tightly in threads of light and dark. But as I did so I felt a final burst of darkness leaving me in all directions.

The pain fell away, and my knees gave as I fell on the floor, my hand leaving the statue. Iesa came to me first and lifted my torso up so I could.

“Myr! Myr! Come on now! Talk to me!” Iesa said frantically.

I blinked barely comprehending trying to catch my breath. I felt violently ill and could barely talk. “I…I..”

“Yes, come on. You’re ok.”

I stammered as my thoughts started to coalesce.

“The darkness…something is…coming.”

Beepu heard that and threw Foggle in the air down the passage we came from. Daneath, swallowed and tightened his grip on his sword, and faced the passageway, the shield shining the way.

“Those tombs are open, and we hav—”

And with that figures entered the room and swung at Daneath blocking the passage. He swung striking the clumsy assailants easily. Iesa stood, drew his rapier and lunged, plunging his sword deep into another figure, felling it.

In a panic, I stood up. I might have been tired and exhausted before, I now had something. My unease was now nausea but I choked it down and I quickly hurled a bolt of energy at the figure that Daneath struck. It was only then I realized that I was striking musties. But these were much more focused and faster.
Beepu had a different concern and he shouted, “I’ll be right back!” and ran towards the passage that we had not explored yet. As he did so, he faded from sight.

More musties arrived and they unleashed their anger on the brothers. One pounded Daneath’s shield ineffectively, while the damaged one an and another manage to land solid blows on Iesa. All the while I could hear Mo screaming, looking for cover. I reached out toward the pair and summoned the skeletal hands to grip and hold a pair, causing one to fall.

But Iesa’s luck had run out, as I saw him being clobbered with fists from the pair, falling to the floor. Daneath, despite his exhaustion, screamed and again started to swing at them and backed up towards where I stood. They thrashed at Daneath as he moved, but it did move them away from Iesa, who lay in a pool of blood on the floor.

I heard a noise and turned just in time to see two more musties emerge from the other passageway. Once again, I could feel resonance as they struggled to focus their attacks on me. And once again Daneath bore the brunt as they twisted and unloaded their fury upon him, battering his shield and him.
Daneath and I stood back to back, surrounded by four of them. Iesa was running out of time and I was desperate.

“Sorry D,” I said as I reached with in and plucked at the dark strands within me.


And with that I freed the darkness that I just claimed from the Elk. I screamed and tendrils of darkness erupted from me, battering all the musties around me. But it also battered Daneath who grunted as the tendrils flailed against him. I ran past the musties and they barely had any energy to respond. But I knew that with the resonance was gone, any protection I had was gone with it.

It was at this point that a solid shard of ice emerged from the passage, It exploded on a musty dropping another one to the ground and cutting others. Beepu faded back into view and moved away from the doorway looking to get a better view of his foes.

Daneath swung and cut down another one, just as I reached Iesa. I quickly placed a hand on him and pulled desperately on a strand to heal him. But all I could do was stop him from dying. And that was enough.
Beepu blasted another one with a bolt of fire, causing it to fall to the ground in heap. And Daneath struck it for good measure to ensure it stayed down.

Our ears strained to listen over our breathing. Listening for signs of more assailents. Moments passed before Beepu spoke up again.

“Foggle didn’t see any other active ones.”

“What about the way you went down?” Daneath asked.

Beepu shook his head, “It ended in a large oaken door. I don’t think there were more than two stone ones on the way to it.

I pulled off my pack and placed it under Iesa’s head. I was tired, so tired. But I started to pull some incantations to clean him up. Mostly to see his wounds clearly, but also to wipe the filth and blood away. As I did so, Mo approached Iesa and sat next to his head.

As I watched I saw the monkey pull some of Iesa hair and stroke it. He would drop those strands and repeat with a new handful. His eyes, so human like looked on the fallen Knight with sadness and hope. He continued to stroke his hair. I was struck on how…human it was. Mo was always there in the background, but not always in front of everything. But now for I, he was the center of the world as he tried to heal his…




How did Mo think of Iesa? All I could do is gently stroke the monkey’s fur. It may have been the first time he had let me, or it may have been the first time I tried. But the look in his eyes told me all I needed to know; he loved Iesa.

“Myr…some warning next time—” Daneath started.

“I said sorry!” I said looking him in the eye. I needed to get to…your brother.

“Yeah…thanks,” Daneath said appreciatively. “Think we are good to rest a bit?”

“I hope so! I am not carrying him!” Beepu said.

“Good. Rest would be good.” I said. Moving to a wall and sitting down wearily.

“Myr, what was it you were screaming in that language…with the elk that is?”

“Celestial? I...I don’t remember. There was a lot of pain. Do you?

“Something like…’E kohana ma ko’o makunanae’ ?”

“Oh…it’s a plea for help.” I said. But that wasn’t quite correct. The better translation was:

‘Help me my Father.’

Session notes:
So some of the spell casting done for drama’s sake (the last bit at the end), but I did burn all my other slots healing to purge that elk. It was a moment of high drama.

Here also was really the first time I tried to humanize Mo. It wasn’t a familiar so keeping track of it was a pain, especially since he never was in combat. So where’s Mo was a constant challenge to remember.


Lizard folk in disguise

Of Powers and things (8/22/2019)

It is a given that mortals don’t have a full understanding of what immortals want. Not fiends. Not celestials. Not Slaadi. Not Modrons.

But whatever we think we know about their desires, we have even less understanding about Powers. And to pretend we do is folly.

And yet we do anyway and miss the truth.

We rested by the Elk; the room felt to me clean now that the darkness had been purged. Daneath both were wounded, but Iesa was worse off. I moved from my spot at the wall and sat next to him and checked him over. No cuts, but a lot of bruising from where the musties pummeled him. But his breathing was steady and easy.

As I touched his chest checking for bleeding, he awoke with a start. He sat up with a wild-eyed look, his head turning around. Mo quickly screeched in delight and jumped on his shoulder and clasped his arms around Iesa’s neck. Iesa, turned to look at him and smiled, and ruffled the fur on its head. I smiled and said, “I’ll leave you two alone,” to which Iesa gave me an amused look but said nothing.

I moved to Daneath then and asked, “Anything serious?”

He shook his head, “No, but I still feel weakened from earlier. I want to sleep it off.”

“Perhaps we can soon! These things burst out of the tombs after all.” Beepu said.

“I’m not big on robbing the graves here. And besides, I’m going to guess your father wouldn’t have opened them anyway.”

“True! But there is another door at the end of this passage. One of oak. But I admit to being very tired as well. I do not have much strength to manage any significant magic. What about you?”

“Now that I have rested, I feel better. I can probably manage more arcana if needed.”

“Well, let’s move and avoid things if we can. I don’t want to die here,” Daneath said somberly.

“I second that,” Iesa said quietly. I turned to look at him, and while Mo had certainly ha lifted his spirits earlier, he seemed distracted.

“Then, let’s move,” Daneath said, and I flexed and refreshed the light on the shield. We then moved into the far passage to look for the door. As we made our way there, we passed the remains of the two stone doors, shattered on the ground. Beyond them was only a small alcove, and moldering remains of cloth and leather. But not far from that stood the oak door.

This one was similar to the one we ran into the entrance. Iesa stepped up to it and examined the lock for a moment, and then retrieved his tools from his pouch and started to work on it.


I could see Iesa close his eyes and grimace in frustration. “Beepu could you…do your trick again?”

“More rust?” Beepu said with a smile and was already starting the transmutation. In moments, the metal lock was now flimsy wood, and Daneath broke it open.

“I’m going to have to practice,” Iesa said shaking his head.

I touched his shoulder as he put away his tools. “Well, just think of it of saving it for when you really need it.”
“Heh I guess,” and Iesa stood up, and we resumed our exploration. The tunnel continued straight for a while and then started to widen. Before the others could see, it was clear that the passage ahead of us descended. But there was an opening on the left before that.

As we approached, I heard a sound. I glanced at the others and found them returning my glance.

“Is that…crying?” Iesa asked in a hushed tone.

“From that passage? Take a look.” Daneath whispered, nudging Iesa forward.

“What? Why not you?”

“I’m in heavy armor, do I sound quiet?”

“You’re in heavy armor what’s going to hurt you?”

“Fine, if you two are going to argue about it,” I said stepping forward, before Iesa caught my arm.

“No…I’ll do it,” and he moved down the hall, with Mo following quietly behind him.

“What has gotten into him?” Beepu wondered aloud.

“I think I have a guess,” I said. “I have seen this before, after someone gets seriously hurt. You have proof you aren’t invincible.”

I watched Iesa in the distance peer looking into the room, and I saw him stiffen, and then slowly back up. As soon as made some distance, he started to run back to where we stood in the hall.

“What’s the matter?” Daneath asked, almost annoyed.

“Well…it’s a woman crying--” Iesa started.

“A ghost?” I guessed.

To which Iesa nodded, “I could see through her…so…yeah.”

“Did she notice you?” I asked.

Iesa shook his head. “We avoid her...I’ll try moving really slow along the opposite wall.”

“Wait are you…” I started.

“I don’t know if I can handle another fight,”

“Ok…let’s go.” I said. But as we made our way down the hall, I crept towards the side passage, and looked within.

The figure was indeed a woman, kneeling in torn furs and homespun cloth. Her auburn hair was long and braided, and her skin was a dark sun kissed color. But as Iesa said you could see through her. She paid me no mind, as all of her focus was on a casket resting on a bier. It appeared to be damaged from a broken part of the ceiling, crushing it.

I looked at her for a moment. She wasn’t like the other undead; she didn’t seem to want to kill us. I wasn’t even sure if she heard me at the entrance, or even if she cared.

Unlike the other undead, I wanted to help her somehow. I remembered tales of spirits being laid to rest by helping it. Completing an unfinished task, a blessing or prayer, and even returning the bones of the dead to their resting place. I was half a mind to enter the room, when I felt a tugging on my leg.

Looking down I saw Mo release his grip on my breeches, and pad back over to Iesa. Looking at him, he had an exasperated expression on his face, and perhaps a small bit of fear. I turned to look at the spirit in the room and sighed. I remembered an old maxim that my mentor, the Speaker told me once:

“Remember, while we serve our lord; the needs of the living outweigh the needs of the dead.”

I turned my back to the spirit and quietly moved to the stairs and followed the others down. All I could do was mutter under my breath; “May Kelemvor grant you peace.” I wanted to do more, I felt I could have. But the fear in Iesa, the battered Daneath; both came first.

We continued down the stairs until it opened into square room, which then led into a large room. Since I was last in the line, all I heard was a gasp, and Beepu running to the right side. The brothers turned and followed. I caught up and looked down at the kneeling gnome, to see what had caught his interest.
It was a leather pack, with brass colored fittings. But on the flap covering the opening, was a rune I didn’t recognize. But then it dawned on me.

It wasn’t old and rotten; it was in very good shape.

“This…this is my fathers!” he whispered. And he opened the pack and looked inside. I could see papers, similar to the plans he poured over, and I also saw a small book. His hands were quivering as he undid the clasp that held it shut. He opened it and started to flip the pages.

“It’s a journal, but it was only partially filled out. But there is a note here…” and he quickly started to scan through it his eyes flashing back and forth, digesting it. It seemed to be eternity as he read, before finally Iesa spoke up.


“What? Oh sorry. Forgot you were here.” Beepu said guilty.

“So what does it say?” I asked.

“Well, it is a personal letter, but it says a couple of things. The first is that there is a piece of a device here and the schematics to build it. It is basically another copy of the device that they have. The other pieces are elsewhere, and I must find them.

“The second is that he is travelling with you father, helping him somehow. Oh, he calls him Umbra. It looks he is running from the Kershak, but it does not say why.”

“Where were they going?” Daneath asked intently.

“Let me see…oh my.” And Beepu looked at me in the eyes. “They were trying to get to Sigil.”

“What?” I asked. Beepu now had all my focus. “How? What key did they have?” I knelt on the floor grasping Beepu’s shoulders, on verge of shaking him.

“The device would take them there directly. It says nothing about a key.”

“That…that’s not supposed to be possible,” I said my voice dropping to almost a whisper.

“What do you mean Myrai. You’re here,” Iesa said.

“Yes, that was different. That’s why I was looking for a key and portal to Sigil, or somewhere I could get to that has well known ones, like Sylvania.”

“So, what’s the difference?” Iesa pressed.

“This is going to take a bit. Sigil is called the ‘City of Doors’ for a reason. It has portals to everywhere in the multiverse. All you need to find one, and the key and, poof there you are. The key could be a piece of bone, or something weird like the breath of a cat. There is a brisk trade for the locations for both. Some portals are permanent, others are temporary. Some work in both directions, and some are one way.”

“So, this device creates a portal to Sigil. That is not strange.” Beepu beamed.

“No,” I said shaking my head. “Sigil has another nickname; it’s called ‘The Cage,’ by us for a reason. There are no physical doors or main gate into Sigil at all. Because of this people like to go to Sigil and hide. We call it ‘Giving the Laugh.’

“Ok. I think I understand that,” Daneath said, and I watched him trying to work out the implications. “But if there are no entry ways into Sigil, how do you get there or leave?”

“Only by portals that are…created by the Lady,” I said reluctant to say her name, even here so far away from my home.

“The Lady?” Daneath asked confused.

“We…she has been called the ‘Lady of Pain’ for a very long time…since before there were Tieflings. But she is the ruler of the city. Sure, the factions ran…er used to run the city’s services and handle crime and laws about theft, commerce and other stuff mostly. But she sets the big rules. You don’t worship her, you leave her Dabus alone, you can’t be a member of a faction anymore, you don’t threaten the city. But there is a big one that she enforces; she controls all the portals in and of Sigil. All of them. There isn’t a spell that can breach that. Tanar’ri Lords can’t. Baatezu can’t. Angels can’t. Powers can’t. It’s why the Blood War doesn’t flood the city, or why it isn’t a staging area for fights elsewhere.”

“Are you sure that’s true?” Asked Iesa.

I nodded, “During the Faction War, she shut every portal down after a bunch of fiends from both sides of the Blood War started killing each other, and then Sigilites. I guess she did that to prevent more from coming in. But that also created new problems. No food, no water, nothing was coming in or out for days. No one could enter. No one could leave. After the war ended, the portals reopened, and a bunch of people left because of her new rule about factions. At least those with keys did. I stayed, partially because I didn’t have a reason to leave. But also; I didn’t have a key.”

“So how did you get here then?” Daneath asked.

“I…was in the Smoldering Corpse bar, when a fight broke out. I dove to get behind the bar, and somehow that triggered a portal. I crossed it and landed on my back on a farm in Triboar. But I don’t know how I triggered it. It might have been someone else for all I know. I found Beepu, followed him to the Dandelion’s bar. There he told me that his father might be able to help. But I thought he meant he knew where a portal was or had a spell that could get me close. Not a device like you are talking about,” I said looking at Beepu.

“So I do not see the problem,” Beepu said.

“The problem is that the edicts of the Lady are Law. Its not supposed to be possible. It would...change a lot of things if it is true,” I said, not wanting to say more.

“Well, I do not have all the pieces yet anyway. I will need a lot of time to read through these notes to even determine how to build it.”

“Well, pack it all up. We should see if there is an exit near here,” Daneath said, sounding tired.
I nodded absently, lost in my thoughts. A device that could get to Sigil directly? I couldn’t think of anything more dangerous. Every power and proxy would want it. No power can set foot in Sigil now, but this…this might change that. But even if it didn’t the Blood War could spill there, powers could send their proxies at will into the city.

Assuming someone with it wasn’t just mazed on the spot by the Lady. Or worse, flayed body and soul. Beepu may not realize it, but we might become marked by every proxy from the Abyss to Mount Celestia wanting it. Some might just want to trade, but a lot just might try to take it by force. But I suppose it was a problem for later.

Once Beepu had repacked his things with his father’s, we continued across the room to the next hall. This hallway was carved with more shapes into the side of the rock. Animals, stars, weapons, and people. Finally, the hall emptied into a large circular room.

This room was lit with a cool blue light streaming from above. There was even the movement of air, and the light bounced off of dust, stirred up by the air. The walls had more carvings, but these has splashes of colors; crimson, ochre, and indigo the most common. But here, they were probably a faded reminder of their former glory. The center had a dais taking up perhaps half of the room, and in the middle of it was a gnarled stump of a tree. Yet was if it was plucked from the ground, exposing deep inter twining roots and then suspended above the earth. It was old gnarled and dead; none of the branches above had leaf or flower. While it was a marvel to look upon, a motion among the roots caught my eye.

A figure dressed in tattered robes made of fur and leather emerged from beneath the tree. As we slowly approached, I could see that he wore a magnificent headdress toped with a rack of elk antlers. Streaming from the antlers were ghostly feathers and ribbons. And then I realized, that he too was a ghost, long forgotten in the halls beneath Flint Rock.

He stepped towards us slowly, his eyes were featureless, but his head turned to each of us in turn. He looked at Iesa for a moment, then Daneath. As he turned and looked at Beepu his head cocked to one side as if surprised, and then he looked at me. I felt like he was peering deep into me, searching for something. I was expecting chills or cold, but instead I felt warmth as he looked within me. And I wasn’t sure if he took longer with me than the rest, but it felt like it nonetheless. Finally, the apparition spoke.

“You have purged the darkness left behind by others. For this we are grateful,” its deep echoing voice said, resonating within the chamber. “You have calmed many of the restless souls here, and yet did not disrespect our eternal slumber. Go forth in peace, living ones; for beyond the veil there are gifts for you. But do not return again to this place.” And with the final word, the spirit broke apart into motes of light that scattered beneath the roots of the tree. As they danced, a doorway of light coalesced and hung in the air shimmering.
We looked at each other, uncertain, and perhaps leery of taking the first step. Finally, I did, as I thought to myself, a portal is a portal. I stepped beneath the roots and took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Then I walked into the doorway.

It felt warm, refreshing and alive. That feeling spread through out my limbs and gave me a feeling of peace and calm. I then felt the warmth of the sun on my face and on the skin of my arms. Floral smells invaded my nostrils and the scent of cold dust fell away. The tension of days of toil, of fighting, of surviving fell away from my shoulders and back.

It was strange; the feeling was familiar. Almost the same as when I helped others pass the veil into the Fugue, or the first time I knelt to give myself to Kelemvor. It was a pure feeling washing over me.
I opened my eyes, and found myself alone in a green field, with wildflowers covering the hills in a carpet of colors. Colors I had never seen and never dreamed of before. A brilliance and beauty that brought tears to my eyes. Then I saw…

It strode in the field of flowers. It was of colossal size and my mind could barely hold its image. It was majestic, perfect in shape and form. The nimbus of golden light made it hard to look at. It didn’t just almost blind the eyes, but my mind as everything else fell away from perception.

Its head turned only slightly, and it regarded me silently. It’s impassive gaze saw through me, seeing me for everything I was and could be. I knew then that I was in the presence of a power. Something we talked about with disdain in Sigil; far away from their direct influence. Thinking of them as distant cold beings, unable to comprehend mortals and their challenges.

As I stood in the presence of the Elk, I knew then that they were wrong. I had committed myself to my own power, the one that was there at the end of things. A point to reflect on all that had been done with your life. To me I saw that as different than most powers, an exception to the others.

But the Elk that I saw before me was for life as the Elk tribe lived in the now. It cared in the most primal and pure way that anything could. It was beyond my comprehension. But even now as I stared at it, I could feel it caring even about me; an insignificant mortal, far from its charges. And in that moment a brief flickering of…gratitude. And then the nimbus increased in intensity, blinding my vision.

As the light faded from my eyes, I found myself standing on a familiar plain, far less colorful, and far fewer flowers. I was no longer alone, as the others stood with me. Beepu too had tears in his eyes, while Iesa and Daneath looked at each other with surprise, each holding an object. Iesa held a short blade with a wavy edge, and Daneath held a longsword, etched with runes.

I looked about, and I realized we were far south, not a day’s journey away from Portstown. And as the sun was setting in the western hills, I wondered how far we had left to go, and what challenges we would face next.

Session notes:
So, we all got a reward at the end of this…almost. My reward was next to that ghost, that I couldn’t convince the others to face it. All I needed to do was a ceremony. The DM did feel guilty about it.

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