Journal of the Souls of Legend (completed)

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Sins of the Fathers - 12/29/2019

Sigil is often called the Birdcage, mostly because of junk and ruin stacked upon itself in the Hive; the city’s largest ward and garbage pit combined. But, Sigil was also a cage, requiring a key to leave.

So, doesn’t that mean that every plane is a cage too, and the only reasons that people don’t realize it, is because they can’t see the bars?



I stared at Paradros, his words still echoing in my mind. I sat there mouth agape, unable to speak. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

“What?!?” Beepu’s voice elevated a full octave, and he jumped up and was standing on his seat, fists clenched, and face the deepest red I had ever seen. “I cannot stay here, when I need to find my father!”

“Well that is indeed the problem,” Paradros calm response contrasted with Beepu’s rage. “Your father did help remove the weapons from the Kershak’s holdings. So, he is as culpable of the crimes, as Umbra was,” and Paradros looked each of us over quickly. “As are you all.”

‘Till the end of our days…’

“You can’t be serious?” Daneath said, approaching until he was within arm’s length of the elf. “We recover weapons you claim are stolen. Now I can understand a…reward for recovery. But to keep us here as well? That is a bit much.”

“The weapons are but one crime of Umbra’s,” the elf calmly spoke, meeting Daneath’s level gaze. “You and your…brother are the other. Now in the past, the Kershak handled this problem in a very straightforward manner; said problems were eliminated.” Paradros turned, and strode to where Iesa stood, the rogues face grim and eyes narrowed staring at the sun elf. “So, to keep your lives is a considerable gift…along with the wealth to live comfortably…here.”

‘Till the end of my days…’

“And the elves here are fine with this?” Iesa said slowly, as if still trying to comprehend what was transpiring. “They barely want us here to start with.”

“The Kershak has had a long arrangement with the elves here,” Paradros explained patiently. “We both work within the borders in the Misty Forest, and we do not interfere with each other’s affairs. And we do not harm each other or each other’s servants, hirelings or guests. Occasionally we trade favors. They will accede to the Kershak’s request. And so long as you stay here, you will not be subject to the Kershak’s…judgement.”

I sat there, silently as the others debated. I couldn’t find the words to interrupt. I was having flashbacks of my childhood; the feeling of being trapped.

“That still does not help me at all,” Beepu shouted. “I have important research that I must discuss—”

“—Well…” once again the elf spoke in that paternal voice. “As I said, the Kershak does not offer mercy to assistants of criminals. Perhaps if Ravalan was aware of that—"

“Ravalan?” Iesa’s head snapped to attention. “What does he—”

“—He too helped your father,” he said to Iesa, and then turned to Beepu still standing on his seat, “And yours now that I think about it. So, I did tell him about a threat of a nearby village though.” And as he spoke are wry smile crossed the lips of the elf.

“A village,” I said softly from my seat. “A human village. Outside the forest.” I looked at the elf squarely in the eyes.

He turned and looked at me for the first time, his gaze meeting mine. Normally people who look at my eyes for the first time give a reaction at seeing themselves in my eyes. But not him. His smile just got a bit wider.

“Why…yes in fact. I knew you were paying attention after all, Myrai. Quite the observant one.” His smile was wider, like a predator that had found prey. “And so…who knows what dangers lurk outside the safety of the forest.”

I barely heard what he had said. I already knew that he had laid a trap for the poor Firbolg. I didn’t need him to point out the obvious fact I already had. But I did hear one thing that made me suspicious.

My name.

We had not been introduced. We had never met. But he knew us. But while I somewhat expected he knew about the other three, as all their fathers were known to the Kershak. That he was familiar with me, my name, my eyes, gave me chills. What else did he know?

“I see that I have given you all…a lot to talk about,” he turned and again met everyone’s gaze as he started to move towards the entrance of the hall. “Since all of you have to agree, I will take my leave and let you…come to your senses.” And with confidence, he strode away from the four of us, finally calling over his shoulder as he left. “I will come collect the Kershak’s things in the morrow then.”

I sat there, confused on how we ended up at this turn of events. But it wasn’t long before the fighting started.

“We should take the deal,” Iesa said simply. “That’s a lot of—”

“—I can’t do that,” Daneath said angrily, turning towards his brother. “I remember my maste---father. I will not abandon him, not when he told me to seek him out some day.”

“That’s nice,” Iesa spat back. “Your ‘master’ set you up. He trained you, right? Clothed you? Fed you? Must have been nice to have an iron spoon in your mouth.”

“It was thankless work,” Daneath retorted. “You trained, and if you did poorly, you were whipped. It wasn’t a grand party. But I respected what he was doing, and I respect him enough to find him.”

“Nice. Beats you like a dog, and like a dumb puppy you come back for more. Still, at least he filled your bowl.”

“What is your issue here?” Daneath demanded.

“My ‘issue’ is that while you got your puppy food, I was on the streets, being beaten by bullies, by adults, by anyone who wanted what little I had. That I had to steal food to keep my mother and I alive. Where was our ‘loving’ father’s contribution to our table? Where was he when my…” and he stopped and turned away from Daneath. “Why would I want to find him? He didn’t need me, and I don’t…need…him.”

It was quiet for a moment after the exchange. I knew Iesa’s story; -so close to my own, yet so different. I knew Daneath’s desire as well, for a father that was a distant idea in the past. I wanted to say something to both of them, but of course;

“Look you two,” Beepu started with a fiery look in his eye. “I say you go find him, and Daneath you hold him, while Iesa punches. Then you bond and drink or do whatever. I do not care. All I know is that your father, Umbra, was the last being to be travelling with my father. And I need you to get over your father issues and get back on the road to find mine.”

“You just want to finish your…contraption,” Iesa said. “You’re just using us to get to your father.”

“YES! You get it!” Beepu yelled triumphantly to the shock of the brothers. “I do not care anything about Umbra, except he is following my father. And if they split paths…I know who I am following. But for now, the paths are the same. And I will still help you until that day comes.”

“Wow…so supportive Beepu. Thanks?” Daneath said questioningly. “Look Iesa, find him and ask him, punch him if you—”

“Unless he has 16,000 crowns in his coin purse, I don’t want to spend the time looking. That is enough to never have to…steal again. A nice little cottage in the trees here—

“—Alone. You keep chasing those elves, and they don’t bite. Here, they don’t even want humans around, and you are just going to fade away—”

“—Sounds great! Don’t need the attachments. Don’t care.”

“You realize,” Beepu started, rubbing his eyes, “Assuming that you share your fortune with us all equally, that I will likely outlive it, and still will need more funds for my research. So, your comforts do not really apply to me.”

“Ah…well…I’m sure we can come up with…something, Beepu.”

“Plus, you still owe me a debt for getting you out of jail,” Beepu pointed his finger at Iesa.

“You still holding that over me? I think I can pay that now.”

“Myr?” Daneath turned to me as I sat there listening. “You don’t want to stay here right?”

I sighed, stood up, and walked a couple of steps with my arms crossed towards a window overlooking the forest. I looked outside as I considered how to answer that question. The sun was high overhead still, just passing peak. A cool breeze ran through the tops of the trees as I gazed over the sea of verdant green. Finally, I spoke, slowly and with certainty.

“I don’t have the need to find Umbra. I was trying to help Beepu to find Pachook. And while I also can’t live on the money that is being offered—”

“What do you mean—“Iesa started.

“—I’m going to outlive you Iesa. I will barely be in middle age when you pass.”

“Damn…good looks AND long life.”

“Shut up and listen. There are two problems I have with this deal. The first, is that I will not be caged again; no matter how pretty the bars. I don’t expect any of you to understand that really. But I do expect you to understand this; Paradros and the Kershak are not telling us everything.”

Iesa was about to interject and stopped himself. He thought a moment and said, “Alright…go on. What’s the problem?”

“Paradros, just sent Ravalan into a trap. I don’t know what he said to him, but I am pretty sure it was different than what he told us. He practically admitted the plan to us. Then there’s the weapons. The Kershak, wants them so badly, he’ll pay a ridiculous amount of jinx for them. He could have killed either of you in Secomber in the last month to obtain them. Why didn’t he?”

“Why do you think Myr?” Daneath asked now becoming curious.

“I don’t know. But I do know, that the Kershak does know the real value of the bargain. And I think that reason is to take blades away from you and make you vulnerable. We don’t know how they fit in to their plans, but you don’t pay a barmy amount of jinx, unless it is the easiest and safest way to do it.”

“You mean…they are afraid of a sword and a dagger? Really?” Iesa responded, sounding uncertain and unsure.

“For that much jinx, he could commission a new set. So, there must be something else about them we don’t know.”

“Myrai is right,” Beepu spoke up his eyes darting back in forth as he started to think about how to make the weapons they held. “In fact, based on what we know of the pair of blades, it should perhaps take several thousand crowns, and some time to make a pair. That amount offered, 16,000 could craft a far greater set unless—”

“—Unless their true value is higher,” I said. “They have far more information about the weapons. They know far more about us. And they clearly don’t think much about disloyal subjects and their friends.”

“You think it’s a setup,” Iesa stated.

I nodded. “To make us vulnerable in some way. Then it won’t matter how much money we have. We’ll be in the dead book.”

Everyone was quiet, with only the barest sound of the night breeze starting outside. We all looked at each other for a moment and then Daneath started to nod. Next, I could see Beepu looking at the warrior, and he too nodded his approval. We then looked at Iesa and waited.

Iesa didn’t meet our eyes, and I could see him biting his lip thinking. Finally, he sighed and spoke;

“You’re right. So, what do we do?”

“We need protection; and it sounds like, that only King Melandrach can provide that. So, we solve this hobgoblin problem for him.”

“That makes sense to me,” Beepu said. “So, we head to the High Moor and start—”

“—Not yet, Beepu.” I interrupted. “I also don’t like that someone else is going to die, just because they helped us.”

“Ravalan,” Daneath said. “Yeah, we need to warn him.”

“You realize that also could be a trap Myr,” Iesa pointed out. “Paradros just laid it out for us.”

I nodded, “It’s true. So, I guess we can’t be surprised then when someone tries to kill us.”

“I guess not,” Iesa said with a wry grin. “So now what?”

“We leave, today.” I said. “We go find the village, we tell others that we are considering the offer. We know how to get back on our own.”

“That sounds like a plan,” Iesa said. “What do we need then?”

“Beepu and I can grab some supplies,” Daneath and motioned to the gnome “Come on.”

“Why me?” Beepu asked confused.

“Because you know where the best food is.”

Beepu was about to retort, and then thought better of it. He simply took the lead, saying as they left, “You just need a more sensitive nose, because if you…” fading away as they left, leaving Iesa and I alone in the hall.

After a moment Iesa looked at me, “What did you mean by being caged?” he finally asked, looking at me with a look of concern.

“We share something in common,” I said quietly. “We both were…abandoned. We both were poor. But, where you had…a mother, I was trapped in an orphanage.”

“Like the one I gave money to in Yartar? You were lucky.”

I shrug, “Not really. I was…deposited at…the Gatehouse in Sigil.”

“The Gatehouse? The way you said that was a bit…grim?”

“Well…the Gatehouse has several…occupants. The first are the barmy,” I looked at Iesa and realized that he didn’t grasp the word and tried again. “Insane. Dangerously insane people. And then you have just somewhat insane people. They wouldn’t hurt anyone, but they needed help. But they also take in ones that can’t take care of themselves. The infirm, the elderly and the young. So, I was a guest there for nearly seventeen years. I suppose it was better than the workhouses pretending to be orphanages. They would just work kids…to death. The Bleakers that ran the place didn’t do that, but they did expect you to pay back what you owed.”

“What you owed?

I nodded, “Yeah, so from a babe I owed…what seemed to be a lot. They had this little book that they tracked your progress in. And the number would grow as you stayed and ate, and it would shrink just a little from chores. But it always grew it seemed. And if you tried to scamper off without paying…somehow, they’d find you, beat you for stealing, add that to your bill, and you’d go back to work. I was maybe ten years old before I could even start to pay the debt.”

Iesa looked shocked. “I paid good money to the church in Yartar to take care of—”

“—and they probably did just that. And there were other…orphanages that operated that way in the other wards. But not in the Hive. Not the Gatehouse.” I looked down and closed my eyes trying not to think of the forlorn faces of the children who had no hope. How the children would steal what they could from the younger ones to pay their debt. How I was bullied. How Elisna…

“So…how did you pay it down?”

“At first a lot of very dirty work…scrubbing the rust off of manacles, filthy laundry from the occupants’ cells, cleaning out chamber pots from privies. I never did the risky stuff like go to the Prison and clean the pipes or scour beneath Ragpicker’s Square. A lot of kids didn’t come back from those kinds of things. But once I was a bit older…and braver I…escorted drunks home.”

“You were a—”

“—No! No, no,no,no. I wasn’t a jinkskirt! I just put on a cap, tucked my hair up into it and was a light boy. See, Sigil gets dark, and a lot of the lamps on the streets don’t work in the Hive. So, light boy gangs form up around a kid who has a rod that…provides light. The drunks leaving a bar, would pay the boys to lead them home. But I didn’t need a rod that made light. I just created a light all by myself on whatever I could find. Sometimes, I would cast it on a stick and trade it for coins to other light boys. They’d come back every time it went out. But I made better jink just doing it myself and not sharing. Most light boys need a small gang, so they can keep their light rod. I could create light anytime wanted, so I could give it up if someone wanted to take it. So, scrub during the day, sleep a bit, and then go to the Bottle and Jug and help someone home. Every night, for years. And then I was what, sixteen, seventeen? And I paid it off. And I was free of one cage…only to find I was still in one.

“Now you lost me.”

“Sigil has some nicknames. ‘City of Doors’, is the most common. The other is ‘the Cage.’ Sigil isn’t like Waterdeep; there isn’t a front entrance, or any regular entrance at all. The only way in or out are portals, and they need a key. And that was all I dreamed of; a key to somewhere nice, or at least close to a nice place. All I needed was more jink. But…then the war happened, and things got messy, and then I found myself on the ground on a farm outside of Triboar. So, Iesa. I don’t want to live in another cage; not unless I have a way out.”

“Your father must have been desperate then to put you there.”

I chuckle with little humor or warmth, “I guess. But it never made sense to me. Especially since I know was that he was…was…”

Iesa looked at me concerned and stepped next to me. He placed his hands on the sides of my shoulders. “Was…what?”

“A celestial. An angel.” I said choking on a lump in my throat. I looked Iesa in the eyes. “Aasimars are very rare but they appear in family lines. But it starts with the offspring of a celestial and a mortal; a foundling. I’m a foundling; the start of a new aasimar line. It’s why I look the way I look; aasimar foundlings are…strongly marked.”

“Your hair and eyes.”

I nodded. “The descendants in the line, tend to look just like pretty humans. But celestials aren’t like fiends with their tiefling children. They don’t occur randomly, and the start of a line is never abandoned. The idea that an angel is somehow, couldn’t find a better spot for their own daughter was strange.”

“I guess we both want to punch our fathers.”

“I used to. Now? I just have faith that he is looking out for me, and that he did things for a reason. Why did he make it…impossible to find? When I arrived in the Gatehouse the folks that met my father were bound to secrecy on who he was. many celestials contact and guide their descendants. Mine never has.”

As silent as the grave I thought to myself.

“But he left me in a cage. And I will not be trapped that way again. Its why I hated that deal you made with the Crimson Star; I was basically trapped in Yartar. And, I like this deal even less.”

Iesa didn’t say anything but was ever so slightly nodding. Finally, he said, “Well, I can’t say that I have any faith in my father; what his plan is, or what he thinks of me. I put trust…have faith in my comrades.

“Well that’s a good thing,” Beepu said walking into the hall. “Because I had faith my nose would find something to eat.”

Ieas pulled away from me, and I could feel my face flush like I was caught stealing a piece of bread from the kitchen.

“Did we interrupt something?”

Where once my cheeks were warmed, I now could feel them cool as I stammered, “Wha…no..no…we were only—”

“—Discussing matters of—” Iesa cut in.

“—Faith!” I finished.

Beepu and Daneath looked at each other for a moment, and then at us, and back again before both said:

“Right.”

“So,” Daneath continued while gathering his pack and Beepu doing the same, “Beepu found some food but even better, I spoke to a hunter, and he gave me directions to the path that Ravalan took out of Whitepetal.”

“That will be a help,” Iesa said smiling, picking up his own from the floor. “His footprints should stand out from an elf’s.”

“You think you can track him?” I said a little surprised, as I grabbed our gear.

“Oh sure. I have faith…now.” And smiling, he and Daneath started heading outside to Whitepetal’s center, with Beepu and I trailing.

“I didn’t think it was that inspiring,” I said to Beepu as we walked outside.

“People hear what they want to hear, and then hear what was never said. I guess it might depend how close you were on the topic.”

I looked at Beepu a little shocked, “Not that close.”

“Hmm, I guess it might also apply to talking to oneself. Oh…perhaps you should deal with her.” Beepu pointed and trotted towards the brothers down the bridgeway, heading north.

Confused, I turned and walking towards me with a somber expression was Alanathia.

“You are leaving,” she said simply, but her eyes looked at me with questions unsaid.

“Y-y-yes, we…need to speak to Ravalan, and then…most likely be heading into the High Moor.”

She looked at me with surprise, “I was told to make long term accommodations for you.”

“Ah, well, we haven’t…decided yet. We thought we should…take care of the pressing issues we discussed beforehand,” I said trying to sound normal, while also trying to be very guarded and precise on what I was saying, in case we were overheard.

Alanathia didn’t miss the intent it appeared. She glanced around her before pulling me into an embrace; “We wish you all good fortune in your hunt, may Sahanine Moonbow guide you.” But as she pulled me close she whispered quickly.

“Trust is earned, theirs is in peril, and Ravalan’s safety is in danger,” before backing away, smiling. “Safe journey, Surin’Ha-Celas.”

I smiled and bowed my head politely. I turned and walked with a brisk pace to catch the others.

“How did that go?” Iesa said as I caught up with them.

I smiled and spoke softly, “We were right, and we’d better hurry.”

Session Notes:

The argument was one of the more fun roleplaying aspects, on why we were there doing what we wanted to do. There were little reveals here and there, but this is the first time that we had a disagreement on what to do, and watching I and D go at it was fun. I of course, playing the outsider, had a slightly different view, and I didn't need an insight check to know I did not trust the Kershak.

Also, I am not sure I can do justice on how much of a smartass Paradros sounded. I suppose in some parallel future, where this is a an animated series and has full voice over, then I could do it justice.
 

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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Brothers in Arms…but not those Brothers - January 8th, 2020

I pride myself in my independence, but I don’t turn away help when I can find it. Usually trust, or the lack of it is the barrier.

But sometimes, the help you find really does come from strange places.



Iesa led us overland through elven paths hidden in the forest. But it was becoming easier for him to follow a path once he knew what to look for. It didn’t hurt that following a Firbolg was easier than following elves.

“Are you sure that’s Ravalan’s?” Daneath asked as he squinted at the dirt. I stood next to Daneath, also looking where our Knight was pointing, and was trying to understand how a divot indicated it was a Firbolg. It wasn’t working.

“I don’t understand the problem; the width is almost twice as wide as the toes of an elven boot—” Iesa was trying to explain.

“—The ball of the foot?” I said, still staring at the dirt.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Iesa waved dismissively at me. “But in the soft dirt—”

“—How do you know a foot even made that?” Daneath asked still not convinced.

“Because the way it’s turned up, with the heel mark a hand and half behind it,” Iesa said, pointing at another area of disturbed earth. “And again, its larger than an elven foot.”

“And what are you using for comparison?” Beepu asked, while chewing on some dried fruit.

“I’m using Myrai’s feet for comparison, so as I—”

“—What?” I said, my head snapping up to look at Iesa, “What about my feet? Have you been following me or something?”

“Yes…when we take breaks and stops, I try to find your prints, because they’re harder to find than Daneath’s with the sabatons he wears.” Iesa spread his hands wide in an apologetic gesture.

“At least that makes some sense,” Daneath said quietly, looking down at the mail plates covering his boots.

“True,” Beepu started smugly. “And I am sure it will take a lot more effort to find my tracks as I am far lighter afoot, and my feet are much smaller.”

“Actually, you’re as easy as Daneath.” Iesa said smiling. “Your boot marks have a distinctive heel and for some reason you stomp and sink deeply in the ground as you walk. But it’s easier to follow the crumbs you drop.”

“Crumbs? I do not drop crumbs!” Beepu said confused.

“Of course not,” I said as I pulled out a kerchief and wipe Beepu’s shocked face of the remains of his snack. Then I promptly flicked a strand at it, instantly cleaning it.

Beepu’s face turned red. “I am not that easy to track!”

“Oh…no, you aren’t,” Iesa said trying to mollify the gnome. “Myrai is just the hardest is all. She tends to step very lightly, similar to the elves, but her foot is just tad narrower than the males’ boots.”

“So, you use my feet to compare everything else to? Not…your feet?” I said a little perturbed at the idea that Iesa has been using my feet as his basis of comparison.

“Well I can’t follow myself,” He explained brushing off the observation. “Anyway, Ravalan has been here, and we seem to be catching up. If we push, we can probably catch him, maybe tonight.”

“We’ll let’s get going,”: Daneath said, and with a flourish, gestured to Iesa to lead the way. Iesa gave a mocking bow, and then moved ahead down the path we all hoped he could see, with Daneath trailing shaking his head.

“I am not easy to track, and I do not eat that much,” Beepu muttered defensively.

“No, it’s just a little bit very frequently, and you like those sweet crackers.” I said.

“Well…the elves do make great crackers,” Beepu acknowledged.

“Trust me, I’d rather that, than the idea that Iesa has been following me around everywhere,” I said wondering where Iesa’s boundaries truly lay.



We had left the forest itself now and were descending into the scrub in the hills. Here there were thorny shrubs, waist height scattered around, and very few trees. The path we were following appeared to enter into a system of gullies. The sun was nearing the horizon and the air beginning to cool. As we started to enter the gully, Iesa stopped, raising his hand up and turning with his finger across his lips.

I stood there and listened. It wasn’t hard, but I could hear a pair of voices. Both were high pitched, nasal and very scratchy. As I listened, I could barely make out the words; it took a moment until I heard one that I knew: Booyagh.

Goblins.

Iesa held out a hand upwards, holding us back. Then he moved forward to investigate, while we waited. After a moment, I pull on the strands and send a message to him.

Iesa, goblins?

--Yeah, good ear. I see a pair of them just…sitting. But no weapons or anything.

Sitting? Like ready to ambush?

--No, that’s just it. They are in the middle of the trail. Not hiding at all.


“A pair of goblins, sitting in the open, without weapons?” I whispered aloud to Daneath and Beepu.

“Bait I bet.” Beepu said with a frown.

“We’re a bad catch then,” Daneath replied his brow knitted as he thought.

I frowned and cast my thoughts back to Iesa:

The others think its bait.

--I would too. But I don’t see anyone else in the rocks or brush. I think we can question them and learn more.”

From a goblin? Well I suppose. Let me prep something but take a good look around. I’ll contact you soon.


I reach into my pouch and finger some soot and salt I had stored there, closed my eyes and started to focus on the strands again. I started whispering the ritual so I could understand their speech. Beepu caught sight of my efforts and I heard him talk to Daneath.

“I think we are going to have a meeting,” Beepu started.

“What? We are going to what…parley with goblins.” Daneath said surprised.

“Appears so. And who taught you that word?”

“What, ‘Parley?’ Probably you.”

“Well alright then…but why are you surprised?”

Daneath shrugged. “I’m not sure there is a point. But I suppose I look imposing enough,” he said pointing out the armor he now wore. Basically, it was a compromise between the hobgoblin mail and his regular set, taking the parts that worked best for him. The net effect was better overall protection at the cost of aesthetics. And Daneath’s motivation were simply that; protection.

I opened my eyes, and cast my thoughts back at Iesa;

Ready, find anything?

--No…they are alone. I’m going a little ahead to block them. But I don’t think they are going to run.

Oh?

--I don’t think they are from around here. Sneak on up.


“Follow me, we are going to catch them on the trail,” I said, moving towards the direction Iesa went.

“You really want to talk to them?” Beepu said looking at me carefully. “I thought you would have wanted to nail their heads to the wall Myr.”

It was true. A day or two ago…or ten or twelve as it turned out, I would have done exactly that. But Iesa’s curiosity had raised my own. “I’ll settle for the Prophesied One’s for now.”

“Let’s make them squeak,” Daneath said, and we headed to the voices.

We made our way cautiously, in case Iesa had erred on the pair being bait. Somehow, we made little noise and we made our way down. Then the path turned, and we finally saw the goblins.

When I saw them, I could see exactly what Iesa meant. The pair were seated on rocks, arguing with each other. Glancing over them, they were typical goblins, yellow skinned, with dark eyes and greasy black shoulder length hair, faces smeared with dirt, their hands ending in thick, rough and cracked pointed nails. But they weren’t dressed like the other goblins that we had seen. First, they were dressed in cloth and linens, and not rough boiled leather. Both of their clothes were streaked in dirt and sweat and had not been cleaned in some time. The second both wore shoes, with the toe section was cut out so their long toenails could extend over the soles. The worg riders and other goblins, barely had leather wrappings by comparison. Finally, in their hands, they each held a brimless hat, either of which would have given themselves an extra head in height, if they were wearing them. As I looked at them and the way they dressed, and thought how it made them look like dirty, ugly, wayward twin children.

But they sat there, angrily arguing with each other, oblivious to our approach. We didn’t even have to sneak, they were so absorbed that I was within a sword’s length of them, when Iesa emerged from the brush.

Neither turned their heads at Iesa’s grand reveal, which took him aback. Frowning a moment, he waited and then looked at me, to which the only thing I did in response was shrug. Finally, Iesa cleared his throat to get their attention.

The goblin on my left turned his head to look at him and I could tell by his frantic head turning between his friend and Iesa, that we weren’t expected. His partner did the complete reverse, looking up at me and then looking at his partner. Both then tried to shake his partner and pointed in to each other’s visible concern, while continue to stare. Finally, each turned their head, to look at either Iesa or I and realized that we blocked their way. Then sighing, both just stood up and raised their hands.

This was certainly was not what I expected, and I found it a little challenging to maintain the façade of a dangerous adventurer. They weren’t exactly the bloody screaming threat of the goblins that had attacked us before. But that then begged the questions that Iesa asked next:

“Who are you and what are you doing here?”

The one on the left straightened up and said “Drik” and pointed to his partner and said “Drok.” The one on the right, did the exact thing at the same time, in reverse, pointing to himself as “Drok” and his partner “Drik.” Then the one named Drik continued. “Told to go to cave and find stuff to dig up, but—”

“—Attacked by big one! Very mean—” Interrupted Drok.

“—I talking here! Dropped tools n things and ran—” Drik continued.

“—Here. Now wait for lashing.” Drok lamented.

As I listened, I knew something was familiar in how they spoke. But Iesa continued.

“Lashing? Who is going to give you a lashing?”

Drok rolled his eyes, “Lasher Reetog. He lash—”

“—Ruin shirts.” Drik said unhappily.

“Might ruin hat!” Drok nodded in agreement. “But better than lose head.”

“Would rather go home.” Drik said sadly and Drok continued to nod.

“Home?” Daneath now addressed the pair, “In the High Moor?”

“That new home, since Lasher found us,” Drok said looking at the warrior. “We from Skullport. Hired to deliver message to Secomber bar—”

“—Lasher found us. We became part of host,” finished Drik.

“Skullport? The Skullport under Waterdeep?” Iesa asked excitedly.

“That’s it;” I said as I realized what I had been missing. “The accent is from Waterdeep. All the others sounded different.”

Daneath looked at the pair a moment and then asked his own question. “Do you know where the Prophesied One is?”

The two goblins looked at each other their eyes widening. They then started to look around them, as if looking for a way to escape before responding.

“We…know…how to find camp—” started Drok;

“—Rather go home.” Drik finished.

“Well, if the lasher, or any lasher found you, you wouldn’t be able to go home right?” Iesa asked, I could see ideas running through his head.

“Yes,” both goblins answered warily.

“Then, we help you, you help us!” Iesa exclaimed smiling. “We get your tools back, and you help us find the Prophesied One. Once we find them, you will be able to return to Skullport easily, and no ‘lasher’ will bother you.”

The goblins looked at Iesa with squinted eyes, as their small minds thought about the deal.

“What?” Beepu exclaimed, his eyes open in shock. “We aren’t seriously going to make them guides?”

“Why not?” Daneath asked. “If they know the way, that will save you time.”

Beepu’s face contorted as he faced that logic head on, clearly having misgivings at the idea. “Ah…well…speed isn’t everything—”

“—Not the way you have gone on about it,” Iesa pointed out.

“Not sure you want—” Drik started.

“—To meet the one. Not sure you—” Drok continued.

“—Strong enough,” Drik completed.

I came over and knelt by the pair. The looked at me in both doubt and fear. “See, we do have some experience in these matters. Look at his armor.” I said, and I pointed to Daneath’s pauldrons.

The goblins both cocked their heads and looked. Then the both looked at each other and spoke excitedly. “These ones lasher look for—" Drok started.

“-- Ones the lasher told all to kill.”

I turned to Daneath with a smile and wink, “I don’t think you can kill Big D that easily.”

“Myr, don’t start---”

The goblins eyes lit up with excitement then. “Big D? We know of D. Deal deal deal!” They both said and without pausing.

“This is not a good idea,” Beepu his arms crossed in front of him. I noticed that he was standing on his toes to make sure he had a little more height than the pair. If they noticed, they didn’t make a sign as they excitedly look at each of us expectedly.

“It’ll work out Beepu,” I said reassuringly. “Besides they can help the brothers on second watch and help them see in the dark.”




“Another dark cave,” Iesa said glumly. “I knew there was a downside to this.”

“Drik and Drok will be a help,” I said patting the man on the shoulder.

“Well…sure, but that doesn’t help me see in the dark,” he said as he looked at the wide cave mouth. It was wedged at the end of the gully and seemed to be completely natural. The peak day sun did nothing to light up the entrance or mollify Iesa. Having played a ‘Game of You’ with other Sesates while blinded, I understood the trepidation.

“Well, you aren’t going to be blind after all,” and once again I placed a warm glow of light from the strand on Daneath’s shield. I then heard whispers in goblin behind me;

“Magic?”

“Magic/sorcerer. Wings strange.”

“Strange. Not human?

“Not human. Other?

“Other.”


The prior magic I had used to understand other languages I kept the strands coiling over and over. It was odd to hear the words, and then their meaning. Booyahg meant magic, but Booyahg three times meant sorcerer. But I decided not to engage them in conversation about this; I wanted this ability to be a secret until we knew if we could really trust them.

I know I wanted to. I knew the stories of goblin hosts, all under the banner of Maglubiyet. The power had subjugated many others before him, and supposedly rule the rest with an iron fist. That legions roamed many of the worlds, and after the soldiers died…they became petitioners to fight on forever in the plane of Acheron; warring forever. But I didn’t realize that it might not be voluntary. Was their fate tied so much to a power’s whim? Could their belief in another break the chains that held them? I really wanted to help them out if possible; to have the choice. I just didn’t want to die in the process.

We enter the cave. The passages twisted to our right, separated by stalagmites and stalactites long since merged into curtain like walls. Daneath’s light shown ahead, as the warrior turned his shield to and thro.

“So Drik, what scared you and Drok that you left your gear?”

“Not scare me, scared Drok,” said Drik.

“Not true! Scared Drik!” countered Drok.

“Wonderful, stupid blortch,” muttered Beepu not quietly at all, causing the pair of goblins to glare at the gnome.

“Rude,” spat Drik.

Drok ignored the racial slur and continued to speak to Daneath, “It large and had many weapons.”

Daneath looked at the pair and frowned, “Many weapons? Like more than two?”

“Um yes?” Drok replied uncertainly. He then spoke to his brother in goblin.

Is many more than two?”

“Many more.”

“How many?”

“three?”


“Three,” Drik said with a bit more confidence.

“How high can you two count?” I asked.

“Two.” “Three.” The goblins replied.

“Fantastic,” Iesa said resigned.

Soon the passages rejoined into a chamber perhaps seven paces square with a tunnel that continued deeper to our left. Following the tunnel, it too opened into a larger gallery, separated by more curtains of stalagmites, creating separate pathways through the large chamber. As we followed one of the paths, we entered a clear area near the center of the roughly rectangular chamber. The walls were slick with water, streaking the rock formations grey, with mixtures of white, brown and russet banded the walls and columns. But in the middle of the smooth center, we saw a pair of packs and scattered curved metal swords, crossbows, and tools. But the packs seemed to be torn apart, and the metal works were embedded into the rock, as if cast in place into plaster.

The Goblins wasted no time and bounded forth. They grabbed the pommels of the swords, and with all their might started to free the weapons from the rock with loud snapping and cracking noises. As they worked, Iesa knelt to look at the tools sunken into the stone.

“I don’t understand how they became part of the rock,” Iesa said, turn his head around looking for answers. “What did this?” he said pointing at the pile.

Drik scrunched his nose and said, “Thing with shiny armor and weapons.”

“Many weapons,” Drok corrected who was picking through the ruined packs and placing choice items into their pockets. I noticed that neither were interested in the mining tools left on the ground.

“Neither of you are miners?” I asked the pair.

“No,” said Drik.

“Make hats,” Drok said with a smile, pointing to the rust colored, brimless hat on his head.

“So…why did your boss, er lasher send you here with digging tools.”

Drik shrugged, “Said we now miners. Lasher not listen to us,”

“Lasher not bright,” agreed Drok.

It was at this point I noticed a motion out of the corner of my eye. As I turned my eyes burned as a flare of a bright scintillating light exploded in front of me. Colors swam in front of my eyes, and my vision was spoiled. I could barely see, and shadows played across the floor and roof of the chamber. Turning my head and shielding my eyes with my hands, I could see that Beepu was doing much the same I as was. But the rest were covering their eyes with their hands, staggering blindly.

“What the?” Iesa shouted in pain, and as he did so, I could hear the swishing of many somethings through the air. Turning to look, while shielded my eyes with my hand, I could see flails. The weapons were being swung haphazardly in front of a dark mass highlighted by the dazzling light. It moved with plodding slowness towards the warrior, each of the flails swinging closer and closer.

“D! Get your shield up!” I yelled, prompting the warrior responded by doing just that, trying to put the metal barrier in front of him, just in time to deflect a ball from crushing his head. And then another, and then another. Daneath’s shield was pounded downward with each blow that he couldn’t see, until finally two more flails reached over the barrier Daneath held in front of him, smashing and pushing him down almost to his knees. Behind him, Iesa stood, trying to clear his head from the sensory overload.

“That’s five weapons,” Daneath roared after suffering the blows.

“Yes! Two! Three!” the goblins said gleefully, and even though they could barely see, swung at the amorphous shape, silhouetted by the light, and then backed away before a flail could find either of them.

“This is not acceptable!” Beepu focused and sent a bolt of flame toward the shape. His confident face faltered, as the bolt came streaking back and striking himself in the chest. The smell of singed hair and cloth now hung in the air as Beepu coughed in surprise, unable to speak.

I gritted my teeth and quickly plucked the strand and threw a pair of bolts. I appeared to have better aim or luck, as both struck the dark form, the thing quivered with it making a strange rasping sound.

The light started to dim, leaving Daneath’s shield as the only beacon of light in the room, and I could finally see what our foe was. A giant snail, its tan hide, shimmering with a rainbow sheen. On its head were five flail shaped tentacles, each whirling the air, waiting for the moment to bring them down on their foe. On the snail’s back was a large shimmering shell of pearlescent whites and blue tones, the light within fading. It moved its ponderous bulk slowly and I watched as they swung and battered Daneath again, with three landing solid blows on the warrior.

Iesa now had cleared his eyes of the dazzling display. Watching Daneath swing and miss, he took the opening it created and lunged striking the creature, and causing a pair of the tentacles to slump, and hang limply on the side of the snail. He then backed away, feinting and avoiding any serious blow from hitting him.

Drik and Drok, simply moved away, dragging the remains of their packs behind them. From them, I saw them drop to the ground, their curved swords, and empty out their packs, grabbing and awkwardly trying to cock the machinery, while stumbling around looking for quarrels to load them with.

Beepu on the other hand was angry, his face purple as he tried again, throwing more fire onto the snail. This time the bolt struck the creature in its midsection, with a wet sounding ‘thud,” but I wasn’t sure it had any effect as the moistened skin showed no signs of scorching or burns. Overhead the snail, Foggle was in the thick of the fight, making hooting sounds, and flying between the flails.

“Drat!” Beepu shouted “The stupid blorch are in the way.”

“I don’t think,” as I pulled again on the strands and threw another pair of bolts at the flailing snail. “that’s the problem! I don’t think fire hurts the thing.”

--Hey boss…you might need to cover your eyes

Wha—?


Another blinding light erupted from our left flank. I barely had time to cover my eyes with my shield arm from the flash, and I heard the brothers both grunt in pain.

“Sodding Baator, another one,” I yelled.

“Hadn’t noticed,” Iesa retorted, again trying blink through tears and struggling to stay balanced in the swirling light.

“What?” Daneath, blinded and staggering himself, “How many more weapons?

“Two”,”Three,” Drik and Drok each shouted, each firing a bolt at the first assailant, and both finding their mark, and sinking deep into the flesh of the snail.

“Learn to count damn it! So, five…ten. Ten now is what you are saying?”

“No!” I threw more bolts at the first one, and one struck home, while the other careened back at me, which my shield blocked. “Eight…no seven!”

Daneath shook his head, as the light from the second snail dimmed. He twisted and charged at it, hoping to keep it from joining its peer, and creating a whirling wall of flails. But as he moved, the first snail, appeared to swing and stretch its tentacle wide, slamming into Daneath’s exposed right side. I could hear the crack of bone over the dull metal crunching sound, and Daneath tripped and fell, sprawling on to the ground, where he now laid motionless.

“Myr! I’m going to need help here!” Iesa shouted as he started to position himself to strike, waiting for the right chance.

I swallowed, looked at each of the snails and Daneath and moved. I ran towards the first snail, while snapping a white strand and tossing its energy at Daneath, while focusing and pulling on the dark strand to grip it in around the first as I ran towards it. The skeletal hand gripped it tearing away parts of its life. But I didn’t stop; I hefted my shield up and and braced myself for the onslaught.

Two flails slammed down onto the wood and brass that bound my shield together. But the blows seemed ill-coordinated, like the snail was off balance somehow. Peeking around my shield to see, I saw the flash of Iesa’s rapier as he thrust into the body of the snail. Ichor spurt forth drenching my and shield and I in a foul and tacky liquid. I saw Iesa pull his blade away, and watched as the snail started to quiver, and it rapidly pulled itself into its shell. Then started a low sound, a hum just on the edge of hearing. But it soon grew in pitch and volume, until its wail filled and echoed throughout the caverns.

From my right, I saw Beepu whisper an enchantment, and three bolts of light erupted from his fingers. They streaked and struck the creature with flashes of light and sparks. Then over the wailing I heard the snapping of quarrels. But neither found their mark as they bounced off of the scintillating shell of the remaining snail. Turning Iesa and I closed with the creature. But before either of us could strike, we heard a yell and Daneath charged into the web of flails.

As he approached, the five quickly rained down blows onto Daneath. This time he was prepared, and his sword swung parrying the blows, and striking with a riposte, cutting deeply into the soft body of the snail. I could see him focus and I watched him slash two more times. More ichor spurt from the wounds and two of the flails drooped and hung limply from the head of the snail. I then heard the goblins swear, as two more quarrels skittered across the floor, missing their target.

Iesa moved and slashed with the tip of his blade, leaving a deep wound in the flesh of the snail, dripping green ichor down to the floor, and then quickly moved away from any retaliation. I again focused and wrested away more life from it, as the skeletal hand clutched the snail. But it was Beepu who once again with more bolts of life, striking the creature. It, like the first, pulled itself into its shell and now we had another death wail in the cavern. While not deafening, the noise reverberated throughout the stone, echoing painfully around us.

I looked around; and beyond the dust that was being kicked up from the noise, nothing moved. No other snails threatened us. Looking around. I saw that there was a passage that was leading deeper into the cavern. With the snails wailing on, we moved forward. Moving cautiously, we started down it, looking for more assailants.

The wailing continued, and we had barely stepped three paces, when I smelled something. It was a moist earth smell that made my nose tingle. Soon my whole head was buzzing, and I felt light headed. TI shook my head trying to clear it, when I felt…something else; a presence. And then I heard in my head a thought that wasn’t my own or Gossamer’s.

You have slain our gardeners! Why should we not turn your meat bodies into loam for our brethren?

Session notes:

So, enter the goblins, and needless to say they were a large thorn in the dm’s own side. I think he really expected something more violent to happen to the pair. Needless to say, he was very wrong.
 
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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
In the Mouth of Darkness - 1/18/2020

As a Sensate I enjoy new experiences; new people, new customs, new secrets, new places, new…anything.

So, should I be surprised, that for others, that I am the experience? And what does it say when people, who have barely met me are afraid of what they find?

And does that mean I should also be afraid?



I shook my head, attempting to clear it. I wasn’t sure if I heard what I did, or if my mind was playing tricks on me. The confirmation that it wasn’t my imagination only put me more on edge:

--Myr? ‘Meat bodies into loam?’ What does that even mean?

Wait, So you heard it too?

--Not really…more like in my head…like you…but not you.

**Hold it…who is that in my head?

##Your head? This does not make any sense. Why are you in my thoughts.

Beepu? Iesa? How are you in my mind?

$$Master; this is all very strange. Why are there other voices?

==What the? I’m not listening to this right? You’re talking to me in my head?

%Not make sense.

%%No sense.

%You stop copy me!

%%No copy me!


I looked at the others around me, and I realized we were all silently looking at each other in confusion; the goblins, Iesa, Danneath, Beepu, Gossamer and even Foggle. We were talking like how Gossamer and I talked to each other. Our thoughts were colliding with each other faster and faster. And I was still trying to figure out how we were doing this at all.

$$Master I--

--'Master?’ Really? Such formality?

##Foggle is being respectful…wait who is this?

--Clearly I’m Iesa.

**What, I’m Iesa! Who is that?

==I am listeni—

%-Stop too mu—

%%-Noise. Can’t thi—

Gossamer stop that! Don’t confuse—

**Gossamer? I’m hearing Gossamer now!?

##We are hearing everyone, including the familiars.

&& Let me go back to sleep dad.

##Who is that!?

==It’s got to be Mo.

**I can talk to Mo!?

More like think to him.

%What is—

%%--a Mo?

Alright alright…one at a ti--

## --We should take turns. I suggest raising our—

**We need to organi—

==Alright quiet--

%Shut—

%%-up!


Are you meat beings done babbling?

The last voice boomed in our heads, like a loud echo in the cave if we were speaking instead of thinking. Looking around again, I saw that the passage that we were following, opened into another cave, but at that entrance I saw a pair of figures, perhaps my height at the entrance, each holding spears, pointed in our direction. Beyond them was even larger figure, standing with arms crossed, and it looked like it was watching us intently.

I waved my arms to get all the others attention, and put my finger to my lips, and then pointed toward the darkness. As each of them turned, they too saw the figures and reacted. Iesa prepared his rapier, the goblins loaded crossbows, while Daneath put himself between us and them. The light from his shield illuminating them for all the group.

The spearmen weren’t goblin, or any other humanoid that I was familiar with. Their skin was a mixture of earthtones and dark greens. Their bodies were slim, and had no definition for shoulders or hips, despite being humanoid shape. In fact, it wasn’t even clear where their head started as there wasn’t a defined neck either. Their eyes appeared as simple slits at the top of their form, just below a leathery broad hat, which seemed to be lined with thin strips of papers radiating from the ‘head’ to the edge of the hat. The only thing that made immediate sense was that they had no visible mouth at all. To me that explained why they were shouting in our heads, but I wasn’t clear on what magic would allow for this to extend to us.

The pair at the end of the passage were perhaps my own height, but the one beyond them, was far taller and broader. Somehow, I felt it was this one that was communicating with us, as it actively twisted to-and-fro as we…conversed. It also didn’t seem to have an obvious weapon in hand. Whatever it was, it projected both calm and confidence as we continued.

Daneath at this point actually spoke aloud and barked “Quiet!” in that commanding tone he would use in battle. The rest of our minds took a moment to quiet down. Daneath took a moment and stepped slightly forward.

==Alright, we apologize. This is new to some of us.

--Most of these idi--

Gos! Keep that to yourself


Daneath simply turned and glared at me and Gossamer who flitted nearby. I only could mouth the word ‘sorry’ in response. Shaking his head, he turned back to face the leader of the strange beings.

==Again, apologies. Now that we are…are…conversing, you spoke of gardeners?

The ones that you have slain. The ones with the shells.

==Ah…I see. We were…were—

Ignorant.

==Yes…thanks Myr, ignorant that they belonged to any—


They did not belong to us. They were encouraged to clean the place of vermin.

==Right. Well, we only came here to help Drik and Drok—

%Me!

%%Me!

==Quiet! Get their things.


Of no concern of ours. You have done damage. You must correct.

==Of course, well. Sure.

**Wait!


Iesa stepped forward, putting his hand on Daneath and stepping in front of him. I watched him scrunch his face a moment as he was trying to put his thoughts together.

**Our friends Drik—

##Oh! They are friends no—

%We—

%%--Friends?


“Shhhhh” I said aloud, glaring at Beepu and the goblins, who both covered their mouth in surprise. Beepu however had a look of annoyance and fuming as he glared at the pair. I then waved at Iesa to continue.

**Anyway, they have others that sent them here to mine.

Others?

**Yeah…goblins and hobgoblins many of them.

Then you must eliminate them. Do this and we will take no more interest you. Then you must leave.

**Sure! We can do that!

I think everyone looked at Iesa with an expression of horror, shock, surprise, or a combination. He in response looked at us with a wounded expression and thought back.

**What?

Daneath grabbed his brother and started hauling him back towards the entrance of the cave, grumbling as the rest of us followed.

**I don’t see the big dea—

“Stop that!” Daneath hissed. “That whole thing gave me a headache. Speak! Don’t Think. Or…think to yourself and don’t speak…argh. Just stop volunteering us for things like this! This is worse than that Ettin!”

Closing my eyes for a moment I took a deep breath, and then asked “Drik, Drok, how many goblins were with your lasher?”

%Girl one talk to us

%%What should we—

%Should answer—


“Aloud!” I said sharply. That got their attention as they both looked at me with guilty expressions.

“Er…more than three,” said Drik

“More than two,” said Drok at the same time.

“Right…more than five,” I said. “So where do we do this?”

“Outside the cave,” Daneath said rubbing his chin. “We can duck inside for cover if needed, and the entrance way will be narrow enough to prevent us from getting overrun.”

**That work—

“Works for me…sorry. That thinking stuff…I want to talk to Mo now. He called me dad!”

“Can we worry about the lasher’s crew first?” Daneath asked his brother, his patience already fraying. Iesa looked at him sheepishly, and we continued our way to the cave entrance.

The light was slightly dimmer, from the front of the cave, but as we approached it, we all heard noises coming from the outside. Putting a finger to his lips Iesa started to quietly creep up to the mouth to take a look outside.

==You know, you could just have told us here to be quiet.

**Wait…they can’t hear us?

They might hear us, but they can’t hear your thoughts Iesa.

%I know that.

%%Same.

&&Quiet dad, making noise in head. Can’t sleep.

$$Master can we make the others silent. Is confusing.

--It! It is confusing. Use your pronouns.

##Don’t you lecture Foggle, you feathery hairball!

ALRIGHT ENOUGH! KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS TO YOURSELF!


Gossamer was enough thoughts in my head to keep track of, let alone any other issues I had bouncing in my head. Fortunately, we were interrupted.

“So, our gatherers found helpers,” rough sneering voice rang out into the cave. “That’s fine; more labor is always needed.”

I moved up behind Iesa and looked around him. There in the gully leading to the cave were a mixed group of goblins and hobgoblins. A large burly one in boiled leather and a shield, and an axe on a shoulder was the one calling out to us. His grin, full of chipped teeth and a scar from lip to eye had all the warmth of the depths of Cania. The others were milling about, not really committed into a proper battle line, but all were armed with axes, swords or maces.

By my leg I felt shivering, and I looked down to see Drik…or it could have been Drok, using it for cover as he looked around at the pack outside. He clearly wasn’t eager to rejoin the warband.

“Is that the lasher?” I asked

To my surprise he shook his head, “No. Little lasher. Lasher bigger. Little lasher mean.”

“So, a pack of friends, this is going to be fun,” Daneath said as he peered around me and pulled back. He pulled the straps on his shield tight and readied his sword. “So what? Charge and bait them in?”

“I can put up a fog,” Beepu pointed out.

“No,” Daneath disagreed. “I need to be able to retreat back here.”

“They don’t have worgs,” Iesa noted. “This may be simple. Myr can you do anything.”

“Well, I can make their ears bleed.” I said starting to pull the strands together. “Just don’t go in the middle of them.”

“Ok, we run out hit some, and drag them back after Myr hurts them. Beepu, as they chase us hit them with that ice spell.”

“Yes. Yes, that is a good idea.” Beepu said, pulling out his skin, and pouring a bit of water into his hand. “I am ready.”

“Let’s go!” Daneath said, and Iesa and he bounded out of the cave shouting. The pack was not expecting this, and they scrambled, puling themselves into a tight group, ready to repel the sudden charge.

Pulling a piece of mica into my hand, I then mentally twisted the strands together, and started to pull on them. I focused in the middle of that pack and then pulled hard until the strands snapped apart.

The thunderous explosion of noise echoed in the gully as the strand’s resonance created a high-pitched ringing sound. I felt a rush and smiled as I watched the goblins all put their hands to their ears, many of them coughing up blood. Then I watched ten of them fall over onto the ground, lifeless. My heart quickened with excitement as I watched this, and was surprised that only a pair of hobgoblins were still standing.

Daneath charged into one of the pair and quickly brought him down with two quick slashes, disemboweling his opponent. The other one, who was more to the rear of the pack, started running back the direction they came. But Iesa chased after them, rapidly closing. Both scampered around a corner and were out of sight before we could say anything.

“Well…I guess I will save this spell for later,” Beepu said almost disappointed. “Not much point casting it at corpses.”

“I guess not,” I said, as looked at the pile of bodies in the gully. Drik and Drok then came around me and looked at the corpses and then turned to look at me with wide eyed awe.

“Girl, Booyahg.” Drik said with awe.

“Killer Booyahg,” nodded Drok looking at me with awe and fear.

I was still marveling at the sudden collapse of the hobgoblins. I had thought I would have injured them, not outright killed the majority of them. I was grinning at the swath of death that I had laid down on their heads and was just beginning to question why I was so happy with this, when we heard noises from the other side of the gully.

Looking down the path, I saw Iesa sprinting back towards the cave. Then Daneath turned and started his own run to the cave. Rounding the bend were another pack of about a dozen hobgoblins; but this band was wearing heavier armor of iron bands, not leather.

“Get in the back of the cave!” I shouted. Beepu, the goblins and our familiars all snapped to attention and started retreating.

“I am watching you!”

“You just want hat.”

“You want both hats.”

“That is NOT what…” I heard Beepu’s voice trail off into the depths. I started pulling on the dark strands and waited. First Daneath ran by me in a huff. I could hear him pant, “In the back, in the back,” as he clamored in his heavy mail.

Iesa was only barely in front of the pack, who were sprinting as well. Iesa had a slight lead and was gaining, but he also was busy dodging a hand axe being tossed at him as he ran. His eyes were wide in terror and he passed me at the entrance. As he did so, I started to cast and pulled on a single dark strand. I pulled it at it faster and faster, and focused winding it around a greenie I held in my hand. I backed up some steps and I watched Iesa run out of sight towards the back of the cave. Once I saw that, I pulled the strand taught around the coin and released the weave.

To me, everything became brighter, and the shadows melted away. But I knew that for anyone else near that coin, there was now an area of impenetrable darkness, even for the hobgoblins. I ran into the cave and dropped the coin next to stalagmite, all the while keeping the strand intact, allowing the darkness to hold.

##Myrai? Does this still work? I cannot see you, the light to the cave just…

I know. I made it dark. They can’t see. But I can tell you when they get close the edge.

==So, they can’t see the light on the shield?

No. Just don’t enter the darkness with the shield, or you will lose it.


I pressed myself against the wall and focused. While I couldn’t be seen, I still could be found. My heart was pounding even as I saw the first four enter the cave. I could see their frustrated ugly faces as they realized they could not see. But they were smart. They stood abreast, moving slowly, letting a shoulder or a shield touch and drag along a wall. And I could see them turn their heads, listening. For me, or any other opponent that would try to take them unawares.

They moved slowly, and then another four entered the cave mouth. They started to do the same thing. I tried to keep my breathing still, as I watched them. It was clear they had dealt in cases where they couldn’t see. They stayed with other, they used the walls, and they moved slowly. I turned to look, and the first set was three paces away from leaving, just as a third set of four entered the cave. I pressed myself against a wall on the left out of reach of any of them, as they threaded through using the right walls as a guide.

The are about to leave the dark, on your left-hand side. Get ready.

##Daneath is ready. Ouch that pepper is hot. Just exhale when you see something appear D.

==Fine. Don’t call me D.

%%D!

%Big D!

==Shut up!


I watched as one of the hobgoblins, stepped forward, leading with this sword. I could see light reflect off the tip as it left the darkness, and then I watched as Daneath puffed up his chest and blew. From his mouth a gout of frost emerged, and I watched three of the hobgoblins winced in pain, and a pair fell on the ground motionless. The other two charged out, only for one to find himself at the end of Iesa’s rapier, and the other was pierced by a pair of quarrels. Both fell over in quick succession.

The others paused a moment, trying to determine what had happened. They barked some words that I wasn’t familiar with, and the spell I had for translations didn’t translate either. It must have been some type of battle language or code. But as the next group got closer, I focused on the last one. They were near where I left the coin, and so I focused and with a dark strand, formed a pair of skeletal hands to grip and tear at the hobgoblins. The pair screamed, twisting to try to see what was draining away their life. But they quickly collapsed to the ground, unmoving.

The second four ran into the bodies of the first and charged forward, only to walk again into the frosty breath of Daneath. But this time, the blast was weaker than the first and they broke through swinging at Daneath. But neither attack was effective, being easily deflected by Daneath’s shield.

This left them open to Beepu, who finally used the drops of water in his hand and threw a shard of razor-sharp ice at one, which exploded, killing him and one of his peers. The other died to Iesa’s blade and another pair of quarrels from the goblins.

The remaining two stopped. They stood there listening. All they had heard were twangs of crossbows, whistling of blades, and the groans and gasps of their comrades as their armored bodies slumped to the ground. I could see their faces change from brave to fearful, as their eyes darted back and forth vainly trying to see their foes. Or their fate.

To which I quickly answered for them, as I flexed the dark strands again, and watched as they helplessly fought the skeletal hands, gripping at them. I stepped forward, to reclaim my greenie on the ground; the center of the black place they found themselves.

“Death comes to everyone; and today it is your turn,” I said. Their faces in fear reminded me of elves in Whitepetal; fear of the unknown coming to claim their soul. But I was more than happy to take theirs in recompence for what they had done. I was feeling euphoria as I felt their life falter and then leave their bodies. I felt powerful. I felt righteous. Then the moment passed. I waived off the strand holding th darkness there, and once again the shadows cast by Daneath’s shield played over the bodies of the slain. The others, having their vision restored, now could see the full accounting of the damage done to the hobgoblins. I watched the others look at each other with disbelief and then with smiles as they realized that we had actually one against over twenty hobgoblins.

But it was Drik and Drok that I most interested in. They looked at the hobgoblin bodies fearfully at first. As if they expected to be punished by another pack they hadn’t seen or expected if the bodies would jump up and punish them from the grave. But none these things happened. And they looked at all of us and nodded with approval.

“Drik, Drok, Are there any others?” I asked, snapping them out of their shock.

“Nnnno. That is all them. All two / three” Drok answered, with Drik chiming in on the count.

“And the Lasher?”

“Lasher dead there,” Drik pointed to one of the better armored figures on the ground. “We good.”

Once again, I felt the presence from deeper within the caves in my head.

They are dead. Now go, and do not return.

We stayed quiet a moment, and then Iesa spoke up, “Well, I’m going to search the corpses. We still have a chance to catch Ravalan before nightfall.
The bodies had little useable salvage or money. We dragged them outside and I made short work with burying them in the dirt. I noticed as I sunk the corpses into the earth and covered that the goblins were watching me. I wasn’t sure if it was in fear or in awe. But I noticed that they took pains to keep their distance from me. As a looked closer they were wringing their hands nervously and avoided eye contact with me.

I wondered why that was. It wasn’t that I was a Booyahg, because by that definition so was Beepu. And they certainly didn’t show fear of him at all. In fact, they were intent on harassing him as often as they could. But they were acting more like they were afraid. Afraid of me?

We gathered everyone up and started back on the trail. It wasn’t long before Iesa announced he found Ravalan’s tracks, and we were on our way. But as we walked, I thought about the goblins and their fear. I guess I could understand their fear on one level; I just did personally kill fourteen or sixteen goblins on my own. But, it wasn’t like the others didn’t kill.

As we continued, I then remembered again the euphoria; the almost unbridled pleasure I felt when the magic exploded, and I slew so many of them. The wicked grin I wore for anyone to see. I realized that the others were used to this now, but for Drik and Drok it was new. I had always thought of myself as a street savvy woman that could hold her own when the knives were out. I guess I left a much stronger impression on the pair.

So which image was right? Mine or theirs?
 


Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Internal Conflict - 1/28/2020

A friend once told me, that torment for an immortal is for it to resist its nature. The pain is strong and never ebbs. An immortal cannot change its nature on its own, so the torment is forever.
For a mortal, torment can be caused by the same thing. Except that with great effort, a mortal can change.

But the torment felt is sharper as one comes to grip with the conflict and resolves it by changing, or weathering through it. Some don’t survive, but most do.

But standing on the precipice, undecided on what path take just drags out the pain. Most of us are just too stubborn to realize that.

At first, I wondered if Iesa really knew what he was doing. He was a city urchin at heart, and so his sudden woodsman skills made me a skeptic. But as I watched Iesa and followed his eyes on what he was looking for, my doubts were easing. Certainly, it helped that Ravalan’s feet were bigger than my own. For that matter they were bigger than Daneath, and I was certain Ravalan weighed more. So, every time he knelt to the ground and said an ‘aha,’ it became easier to see that he really was on the right track. So, after a while I let myself drift to the back of the group.

I didn’t feel like talking; in fact there was enough of that going on. It seemed that it was impossible for Beepu and the goblins not to snipe at each other. It went on for miles with no end in sight. So it suited me just fine that I didn’t have to talk. I certainly didn’t want to.

What I did want was clarity. The events from earlier had unsettled me. Granted I worshiped a power of death and judgement. I remembered getting funny looks about that in Sigil. ‘Isn’t death a strange thing to worship?’ they would say. Then I would explain that I didn’t worship death or for death. Instead the reason I worshipped was about those things left behind. Honoring the memories of the deceased. Assuaging the bitter emotions of those left behind. Especially guilt; always a bit of guilt of things said or not said. But the actual act of death wasn’t what I revered. I didn’t sacrifice an animal or a person like other powers demanded. It wasn’t that kind of worship.

So, it was only very recently had I actually killed anyone. It was a gnoll outside of Triboar. Sure, I had hurt people in self defense many times; Sigil could be a rough place, and the Hive the most dangerous place above ground. But there, I had never actually killed anyone. Here on the prime, I had killed dozens of creatures and beings. And I always did feel a bit of remorse, but only well afterwards. It stood in contrast on how different I felt during a fight.

I reveled in the violence. I thirsted for blood. I was enthralled by it. I craved more.

And it disgusted me. It was wrong. Every instinct told me I shouldn’t want this; every teaching said this was a sin. Death wasn’t a casual topic; Kelemvor’s faithful believed in staving off the end to let the cycle complete itself naturally. Accidents and disease were to be avoided or treated. Violence should be avoided because it could lead to a premature end. So what I felt was the complete opposite of what I believed, and what I wanted to uphold. How was I better than a murderous barmy in the Gatehouse? Could I stay in control? Was I even in control to start with?

What it reminded me of, didn’t give me any comfort either. It reminded me of the poor in the Hive that were consumed searching for a temporary escape; be it bub or drugs. I had seen many in that never-ending spiral in the Hive. They might get to the Gatehouse and get a bed and a meal as a respite to their situation. But they would leave to chase their hedonistic escape of choice. A chase that never ended.

The Society of Sensation said that chasing only pleasure wasn’t being a true Sensate and it was to be avoided. The Society already had a bad reputation of being hedonists as it was. First year namers would seek out pleasures first because…well they were fun and felt good. The namers would find or throw parties to experiment and try anything they could. But that’s just it; pleasures are easy to seek out and find. To understand the multiverse you had to experience everything and experience was more than just pleasure. That’s why Erin Montgomery started to test new Sensates. To weed out those who couldn’t control themselves. Many members were sent to the Gilded Hall in Aborea when they lost that control. Some returned, most didn’t. Many others were told they couldn’t join…people like Markel.

Markel was desperate to become someone and the Society of Sensation was his chosen path. He would throw the parties; and many flocked to them; myself included. He was everything I felt I wasn’t; sure of himself, attractive, and popular. I was in love with him, and I was an eager experimenter under his sway. So, when I took the test in the Gilded Hall under the dubious eyes of the factotum, I was fortunate. You could have called it the most excellent example of brinksmanship. I was complemented that I could get so close to the edge and pull back. But the reality was that I almost failed. I don’t know how I managed to pull away; as it took everything I had to do. But at the time I was excited and proud to be able to join, with Markel. But Markel never even got so far to be tested; he was judged unfit beforehand. He didn’t take that very well, and that led to…a lot of pain. For him and for me.

And now, I wondered if the test were different what would have been the outcome? What if the test wasn’t self-restraint against pleasure, but was about violence? Granted the Sensates were worried about the former. For the later you just needed to look at…at…

No. I would not become her. I was nothing like her. She may have been everything to the Doomguard. But she was a plague to Sigil. To the multiverse.

To me.

“I will build a taller hat! A better hat!” Beepu shouted interrupting my thoughts.

“Not a hatter,” Drik said smugly.

“No hatter,” Drok agreed.

I had no idea how long I had been wallowing in my own insecurities. But I felt the air had become much cooler, and sun was now low in the sky. The trail we were following was descending out of the hills, and we were approaching the edge of a bluff, overlooking a narrow valley. The floor was a sea of grass. Patures, and tilled fields, while on the far side was another series of hills. A meandering river wound its way across the valley floor. As we all approached the edge, Iesa pointed out our likely destination.

“Well, look there. A village. And hopefully, Ravalan as well,” Iesa said pointing downwards. The village was not large, a scattering of perhaps six buildings. Two of them were large, perhaps a hall or an inn, with smaller dwellings nearby. They were nestled next to the river, where a simple wooden bridge extended over it. A wagon trail led across the bridge to the west, leading out of the valley, while the eastern leg seemed to be seldom used. Lazy plumes of smoke drifted upwards coming from the chimneys below.

“No sign of trouble,” Daneath said. “But that probably won’t last. We should get down there.”

“And perhaps sit down for a bit. My legs are killing me,” Beepu grumbled. “Your pace is challenging to keep up with.”

“Gnome is whiny,” Drik commented to his peer.

“He should try whining to a lasher. Then he stop,” Drok said looking at Beepu unsympathetically.

“Look, I am tired, and my legs and feet hurt too,” I said, speaking before Beepu unleased whatever biting vitrol that he was about to say. “Let’s get down there, talk to Ravalan and get some rest.”

Beepu turned to me and looked like he was going to tear into me. But he stopped himself and nodded. “Yes. Rest would be good.”

We continued on down the bluff, following a trail that Ravalan had used. It wasn’t long before we were walking across the wooden bridge into the village. Up close it wasn’t much to speak of. The wood was grey from the elements. But it was all in good repair, with shake roofs, and windows of simple glass. Simple and functional. Yet looking at the doorways as we passed, there were signs of pride here and there. Carvings on the door sills, and the doors themselves. On the southern side stood a small chapel, with a blooming rose over a sheaf of grain, carved in oak above the door.

As we moved to the center of town, we could see that there was a large throng of people, and we could hear agitated and excited voices. The throng were gathered in a circle arguing, and I could see in the middle of it, standing head and shoulders above the villagers, was Ravalan.

“Look, if it is true you must, leave. Their numbers are too gre—” Ravalan was saying before being cut off.
“—This is our home. We will not let them take them!”

“It’s not the homes they want, they want you!” Ravalan was trying to explain calmly, but he was forced to shout just to be heard.

“Ravalan! What is going on here?” Daneath yelled and strode into the group. The villagers, surprised by the armored warrior, parted so he could approach the firbolg.

“You? What are you doing here?” Ravalan asked surprised.

“We might ask you the same thing,” I said stepping forward. “Why did you come here?”

“I was told that there was a need for my aid.” Ravalan said taken aback. “But I didn’t expect more hobgoblins. The village has seen worg riders on the outskirts. The hobgoblins have already captured some hunters and families on the outlying farms.”

A man shouted out in response, “They didn’t just take prisoners! They smashed and burned those families homes! But we will not run and surrender our fields.” The man was balding with the sides of his head covered with short brown hair and his face had a thick bushy beard. He stood there, painfully thin and gaunt. But his posture and shoulders showed him to be as resolute as a mountain. Around his neck, carved in wood hung the same symbol that was above the chapel.

“Micah,” Ravalan turned to face the man, “Those were scouts. A larger group is bound to come soon. This evening most likely.”

“Lasher Crusher?” Drik said looking at Drok.

Drok nodded. “Lasher Crusher said to be near. He big lasher. Will pound people who not listen.”

“Lasher Crusher?” Ravalan said puzzled. “Who are these two?”

“Recent rescues,” Iesa said smiling as Drik stood there looking around and as Drok started to pick his nose. “We found them on the way as we searched for you.”

“Searched for me? I don’t understand, and it isn’t important.” Ravalan responded clearly distracted by the debate at hand.

“I don’t know what a ‘Lasher’ is, but we will not leave these fields!” Micah said emphatically. “The Earthmother has promised a good harvest, and we will not forsake her bounty!”

“I have to agree with Ravalan,” Daneath said to Micah. “We already have faced two dozen of the hobgoblins on the way here. But they didn’t have worgs. You aren’t safe here.”

“We will be protected!” Micah said defiantly.

“Micah,” I said gently stepping forward to look the man in the eyes. As he gasped, I continued. “The Earthmother has indeed blessed you, and you should feel proud. But you must lead your flock elsewhere.”

“By the gods…who are—”

“A priest. A different faith. A different calling.” I said slowly. “But your pow-- , um sorry goddess would want you all to live and plant more fields.”

“But we must defend our homes!”

“I don’t know if there will be anything left to call home,” I said calmly but firmly.

“She is right,” Ravalan interjected. “As you said, the other dwellings were destroyed. They won’t leave anything standing, even if you do manage to fight them off.”

“I...I feel we should stay and help defend our…our homes,” Micah said, tears forming in his eyes as he almost choked on the words.

“Listen, I believe that the Earthmother once said; ‘Like a seed on the wind, you can travel where you need and plant the next field.’” I said remembering a passage I had heard was attributed to the power, and Micah looked at me with a pained expression. But finally, he nodded.

“Yes, I…I understand. You are right. But what will you do?” Micah asked looking at me and the rest of my companions.

“These hobgoblins are going to be sent for judgement,” I said calmly with quiet determination. “Lord Kelemvor takes a dim view of beings who wantonly kill those who have not yet lived to the fullness of time. And I’m not keen on slavery. So, I can’t say I can save your homes or the fields. I will say they won’t be following you.”

Micah nodded, “Very well. While I cannot condone revenge, I…I can aid justice. I have some potions that can heal wounds. I will leave them with you so you can dispatch this menace.”

“We thank you,” Iesa said I as I nodded. “Any assistance is welcome.”

“Let’s get everyone moving. You have light and you can make some distance before they arrive,” Daneath said.

“Alright everyone!” Micah raised his voice to the gather villagers. “The Earthmother has given us a sign and some wisdom. We must leave and take root elsewhere. Gather what you must so we can travel tonight!” And with that the villagers started to scatter to the various buildings. Some were gathering horses and wagons. There were many tears in their eyes, but I see the relief in their faces, knowing they did not need face the threat death or slavery. Micah then led Iesa towards the chapel, to retrieve the promised potions.

“Ravalan,” I said turning to the firbolg. “Can we speak to you a moment, privately?”

The firbolg nodded, and we stepped away from the village center, allowing the villagers to continue unimpeded.

“Thank you Myrai for convincing them. I have been trying all day.” Ravalan said with relief in his voice.
“After what has happened in Whitepetal, I’m glad we can provide some relief. But we have a more pressing question. What did Paradros tell you that made you come here?”

Ravalan cocked his head in surprise. He thought a moment and slowly responded “Paradros? Well, he said that he had heard of some sort of sickness in the village, so I came to assist. But as it happened, no one has been ill in some time. I found it odd but…why do you ask?”

I sighed and looked at Ravalan sadly, “Because Paradros told us that he sent you here, intending that you…not survive the hobgoblins’ attack.”

The firbolgs face became grim, “Are you sure? Why would he do such a thing.”

“Because you helped my father, Pachook and Umbra as well,” Beepu said a bit tersely. “Paradros is either in league or is employed by the Kershak, and they apparently do not like people assisting their—”

“—Enemies.” Daneath said simply.

“All I did was guide them through the forest, and he thought to put me in danger because of that?” Ravalan said in disbelief. “That elf was certainly distasteful; I thought it was because of he being a typical sun elf.
Why this effort?”

“Because, it wasn’t all about you.” I said. “He used you as bait, to lure us out of the Misty Forest.” And I gestured to my companions. “But that doesn’t mean you are safe.”

“I see,” he said sadly. “this is indeed dire, and I appreciate the warning. I am willing to stand by you if you need.”

“I thank you, but it might be better if you assist Micah, and get them safely to Secomber.” I answered.

“She’s right,” Daneath agreed. “Those people need your help. We can deal with the hobgoblins and this ‘Prophesized One’ is going to keep us busy for a while. Once we take care of that, we can think about dealing with the Kershak.”

“It seems I am in debt to you again. I am not sure I can do much more for you beyond the message I sent to Melandrach. But I will help these people.”

“Just do that,” I said. “They are going to need all the help they can to restart.”

“I know. Farewell Myrai. I hope you all can end this madness.” The firbolg said. He then strode over to the gathering group of farmers and families gathering by the bridge.

It was sad to see these proud people, forced to abandon their homes. Being transformed from farmers to refugees in a instant, at the cruel whim of the hobgoblins. The simmering hate I had for these marauders was beginning to awaken once again. They were no better than the Doomguard setting a fire in the Hive, just to watch it burn.

As we stood there, Iesa ran back to us from the chapel, holding some glass flasks. He started passing them out to the group and casually asked.

“So…Crusher Lasher?” he looked at the goblins as he handed me a potion. “Let me guess, big and likes to crush things?”

Drik nodded with Drok. Drik was attempting to extract something from his ear, while Drok quietly escavated the contents of his left nostril with a finger. “He big, stupid lasher,” Drik said. “Break things,” Drok continued. “Houses, goblins, humans, many things. Many goblins fear him.”

“And he has a pack of worgs as well it sounds,” Daneath said as he turned around looking at the village buildings.

“Well, the buildings are sturdy, but we can’t really use them defensively.”

“Why is that?” Beepu said surprised. “The doors look stout enough to keep worgs out.”

“Its not the worgs,” Daneath said shaking his head. “It’s the torches. They are likely to set them on fire, flush us out. Plus while mounted they will have a lot of speed and nothing to slow them down.”

I thought a moment and then turned to the goblins and asked, “So, how well can those worgs move while mounted? Can they easily climb, swim or jump?”

Drik and Drok frowned, their brows furrowing. After looking at each other briefly they answered, “Run fine, but not jump. Bad balance. Clumsy.” Drik said, while Drok echoed “Very clumsy,”

“Climb? Getting on top of the buildings just as bad as staying inside Myr,” Daneath started. “And I’m not swimming to get away from Worgs.”

“Why even stay here?” Iesa asked looking around with disbelief. “I mean we said it might not survive, so why defend it.”

“It makes sense to stay here, only if we can put some defenses up. But beyond flamable cover I don’t see a lot of options,” Daneath said.

“Unless you have something in mind. Do you have something in mind?” Beepu asked, looking at me critically.

I smiled, “I do. See what you can do to make the buildings safe for us, and not for them. Beepu, let’s get Gos and Foggle in the air and watching for friends.

“And what exactly are you going to do Myr?” Beepu asked.

“Start digging,” I said smiling, to the confusion of the others.

Session Notes:

I didn't really ever intend Myrai to be the face of the party. That actually was supposed to be someone else that dropped out before the game started. So, talking anyone into anything was never part of the plan. I had cast her as a charismatic introvert. it just worked out that when I did, it somehow worked out.

By comparison, Iesa tried many times, but had neither the stats or the skills. But he did try a lot, which made for an interesting story.

But while Myrai wasn't a genius, she was smart (Int 12,) and had common sense (Wis 14). So she tended to come up with creative solutions to problems; as we will see.
 
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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The One Night Stand - 2/3/2020

During a lecture about the Blood War between the Baatezu and the Tanar’ri a question was asked: Why do the Baatezu let the Tanar’ri invade Avernus all the time?

There were a number of answers given, but one did always ring true; whoever can choose the site of the engagement, controls the nature of the battle. If you can move fast, strike hard where you have an advantage. If you have range weapons, find a spot where you can’t be easily attacked. And if you must wait for them to come to you, choose a site where you can force the attackers to make hard choices.

Or better yet, force the attackers to make bad choices.
The sun had just touched the horizon to the west. The sunset was once again painting the sky with warm yellows and oranges. Pity that I couldn’t watch, as I had plan in my mind, and I had no idea how long I had to do it. The others followed me with confusion and curiosity on their faces.

I made my way to the river and followed it down stream, which happened to be northwards. I followed it, until I was past the one of the long buildings of the village. Once there, I stopped and began to concentrate on the earth near the river. Not the bank of it, but about three paces in. I then flexed and pulled out towards me a pile of dirt, two and half paces on each side, and equally as deep. The pile of loose earth rolled and moved towards me like a small landslide. I then did the same just on the other side and pushed the earth the other direction. This left me a five paces wide and almost three paces wide hole, just near the edge of the of river.

I then repeated the process and doubled its width. And twice more doubled it again. And methodically I cut a trench, moving away from the river.

“She’s building a moat?” Iesa said looking at my work, as more and more earth erupted from the ground.

“A trap,” I said, not even turning. “I am going to circle the village with this trench.”

“And then you will flood it at an opportune time,” Beepu said with a smile. “That is a great idea. But will we not be trapped inside?”

“Maybe,” I said. “But the worgs will have only one easy way in or out; the bridge. They won’t be able to run far, and it limits where they would approach from. That is assuming that Drik and Drok are right.”

“We right!” Drik said nodding.

“We not like Crusher Lasher,” Drok quickly added.

“Really no like,” Drik nodded.

“We go make presents,” Drik said with a wicked smile at his brother.

“Present for lasher,” Drik returned the smile and both then scampered off towards the buildings.

“What do they have in mind?” Iesa asked his brother watching their gleeful depature.

“No idea, but I bet we can dampen the roofs with well water,” Daneath said. “Come with us Beepu.”

“What? Why?” The gnome asked surprised.

“Are you going to help Myr dig?”

“I would like to…but that incantation is not one I can u—”

“Well come on then. I doubt that staring is going to help her much.”

“Umm hm” I said, walking slowly. Every count to twelve, I excavated another section of earth. I was in a simple rhythm, move the earth, move the earth, step, repeat. No thoughts; Just pull the strand. Make a corner, keep moving, pass buildings, keep moving, keep casting, no thoughts…

So, I don’t really know how long it took. The sun had set, but the purple rays on the thin clouds still lit the sky. But I finally encircled the village with a three or four pace wide trench. On each side, piles of soft loose earth made for a treacherous foothold, with the piles of dirt form a berm of loose earth on both the inside of the trench, and the outside, with each being about my height. On each end there was just a plug of dirt about two paces wide that prevented the river from flooding the trench.

And while it was just a cantrip, the most basic of magic, I was exhausted. The mind-numbing focus needed was more than I was used to. So, when I stumbled back into the center of town, the others looked at me with concern.

“Myr, you alright?” Iesa started, pulling himself up from the well where he was resting. The others where dripping wet, with a number of buckets laying haphazardly around the trio.

“I’m mentally drained…that your sweat or did you jump in the well for fun?”

“Hah. Hah. Hah,” Beepu said from his position on top of the side of the well. “While you were ‘digging’ we wet the roofs of several of the buildings. Should make fire less of a problem.”

“That sounds good. Where are the dirty pair?”

“Who? Iesa and Drik?” said Daneath laying on the ground with a smile on his face.

“Hey!” Iesa gave his brother a dirty look. “I’m as clean as can be hoped…considering.”

“Not enough to attract an elf I’m sure,” Daneath said lay there still smiling.

“How can you not like elven women?” Iesa said defensively.

“It’s not like I don’t. I just know that I’m not their type.” Daneath said looking at Iesa with a even more bemused expression.

“Well…half elves come from somewhere!”

“And you’re the next filthy human to make them swoon?” he still smiled, looking upwards.

“Well…why not? I’m good looking!”

“Might help if you spoke elvish.”

“If all of you would listen to me and my offers to train y—” Beepu started.

“No!” Daneath and Iesa said at the same time.

“Maybe later,” I said. “So where are the other two?”

“They were working with some wood and nails pulled from the walls,” Iesa said. “Then they started burying
them around the village.”

“Anywhere I should avoid walking?” I said looking around wondering if I could tell if I was about to step into a trap.

“Yeah. Stay away from the entrances from the other buildings but that one,” Iesa pointed at a large long building. “We’re going to rest there.”

“Great,” I said. “I’m going to get some sleep. Wake me when someone breaks something. And Iesa?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re going to need more than a bath if you want to get an elven woman to notice you.”

“Hey! That’s not nice!” Iesa said with a hurt sound in his voice. “It’s not like you have any problem attracting attention.”

“Always the wrong kind,” I said dryly. “But I’ll give you a hint; if you like the way a woman smells, it works the other way too. I’ll make you smell nice later.” And I walked over to the large building they said was safe from whatever Drik and Drok were doing. Walking in the door, I found the pair kneeling on the ground with a sack. In it were an assortment of cups, and other metal objects. I stared at them a moment, and they turned to look at me and shrugged.

“I don’t care. Don’t touch my stuff. Or me,” I said moving inside. The building was a large bunkhouse for ranchers and farm hands, and I spied an empty cot on one wall that looked clean enough. Once I reached it, I quickly collapsed on the straw stuffed mattress, still in my armor and clothes. My head was nestled against a pillow of down and cloth and I felt my eyes drooping.

Gos. Stay on the roof. Wake me whe—

--I know. Get some rest. The evening is likely to be a long one.”


I smiled and let the exhaustion wash over me. I just hoped for a dreamless sleep.

No nightmares.

No Elisna.

No Markel.

No Pentar…

I don’t know if I dreamed and forgot, or if sleep was as formless as I hoped it could be. More often, I awoke with just emotions on the edge of my mind; emotions like sorrow, anger, and guilt.

This time it was fear.

My eyes snapped open and I shivered. But I realized with a shock it my fear wasn’t from a dream, but from the sounds of wood shearing away and ripping apart into splinters. I rolled from the cot onto the floor and looked upwards at the sea of stars above. I then saw a brass colored streak pass overhead, a Foggle was following whatever orders Beepu had given. I then reached out to my own.

GOS!?!

--It was a rock! I’m not sure…another one!


The building shuddered as another rock tore through the roof and sundering the southern wall. Splinters of wood, panels and beams flew around in the air, covering everything nearby with debris from the collapsing roof. I scrambled to my feet and looked around. I could now smell damp smoke and wet wood as I saw some fire sputtering on timbers that had fallen inside. Beepu was extracting himself from timbers and was shaking his head, attempting to clear his senses. We looked at each other for a moment, and we staggered towards the exit.

Outside there was the sound of howls of worgs in the village and the smell of more smoke. One of the outlying buildings was completely engulfed in flames, while two others had small fires on the roofline. Looking around, I saw Daneath silhouetted in the flames, taking a swing and knocking a hobgoblin clean off his mount, and then watched him follow through with a cut on the worgs flank. The worg turned to bite the warrior, and missed cleanly, allowing Daneath an opening and he thrusted deep into the worg’s neck, causing blood to spurt and splash across his shield. The worg started to limp off slowly and Daneath started to give chase when he saw Beepu and I.

“Thank the gods you’re alright! A couple more worg riders are in the village, and more are stuck in the trench.” He shouted as he ran past.

“Iesa? Rocks?” I shouted at him in return.

“Don’t know. Giant.” And he stabbed at the worg felling it. Elsewhere I heard a hobgoblin scream and the fast-paced beat of a worg running.

“A giant?” I said in disbelief, and I started to run towards the river. Behind me I heard Beepu start an incantation.

Gos? A Giant?!?

--Makes sense, can’t see it from up here---Sodding!--


Another boulder sailed through the air and slammed into the doors of the chapel, sundering them apart. The boulder continued rolling inside, wrecking pews as it went. From the air, black feathers drifted down slowly. I looked in the air for Gossamer and couldn’t locate him. But my eyes settled on something else I didn’t expect.

Beepu was rising in the air swiftly. From his hands bolts of fire flew striking a worg, who I could hear yelp in pain. On his face was a smile of satisfaction as he took a commanding view of the village. He threw more fire from above, and I could hear from behind a building the harried voice of Iesa, “Take that! Thanks Beepu!”

--Myr, there are a number of the hobgoblins and worgs stuck in the trench, trying to climb out.

Well, time to end that problem.


I ran toward the river where one of the plugs of earth I had left behind. As I ran, I heard another worg yelp in pain. Glancing to my left, I saw one held fast in an iron trap, his hobgoblin rider fallen to the ground. From concealment Drik and Drok dashed out from under a building with short swords. One of them screamed in common, “CLUMSY!” and the pair set themselves on the hobgoblin, stabbing the fallen figure over and over. A noise from my left caused me to turn and reflexively I throw a pair of bolts, striking another wounded worg, causing it to collapse mid-stride. I was about to move again when I heard the voice of one of the goblins shouts, “Crusher Lasher!”

Now running, I turned my head to look north and I saw another boulder flying through the air. This one seemed unstable, a wild throw. It smashed into the deck of the bridge. A shower of splinters and water flew into the air, and just like that, the entire structure was leveled Only the footings on each side of the river remained. Looking farther north, I finally saw him; the ‘Crusher Lasher’

He stood on a hillock, framed in the moonlight. I guess I expected a large human or something. What I saw was more gangly in the limbs, and his posture was slightly crooked. It’s body was pear shaped with a large pot belly. What appeared to be the shadow of a loincloth fluttered around him as he moved. I saw him bend down, and pick up another rock, and watched him heave it high into the air. The rock didn’t seem to be aimed at anything in the village which puzzled me. Then the sound of Beepu’s laughter made it clear; the giant was trying to hit the small gnome. And while his skills in hitting large buildings was adequate, hitting Beepu was another matter.

“Of course, ‘Crusher Lasher’ was a giant. Should have asked questions about that piece of chant” I muttered to myself. I finally reached the river and got in sight of the trench and the thin plug of dirt that I had left behind.

--You better hurry. A group of them are gathered together to give themselves boosts.

I didn’t reply, I just focused the strands on the middle section of earth and dirt. I could feel the weight of the water pushing and pressing against the plug. I pulled with the strands the earth away bit by bit. Then suddenly I felt the earth explode, sundering some the strands apart as the water burst forth, scattering the loose earth. I kept focus and pulled more earth away from the center, and let the water push its way forward in a sudden torrent.

The sound of the rushing water was music to my ears, and I watched the river eat away at the remaining earth blocking the way. I smiled wickedly as I thought of the wall of water rushing down the length of the trench. The smoke was filling the village with a haze, making objects on the ground indistinct. I turned around and ran back into the center of the village, trying to keep the smoke out of my eyes when I heard it.
The sound was rage. Frustration. Hatred. A roar that echoed throughout the valley, loud and strong. I ran along the side of the building where I was sleeping earlier. On the roof were a number of scattered small sputtering fires on the wet wood, creating more smoke. Keeping close to the wall, I peeked around the corner to look north. There above the haze, framed in the moonlight I could see the giant striding down from the hillock, and towards the village. I could see even at this distance that it carried a large worked club. A gift for the ‘Crusher Lasher’ for use as a tool or weapon I supposed.

“D, you can take him, right?” I heard Iesa shout from the cover of another building.

“Taking a beating with that club doesn’t sound like me,” Daneath looking from his place by the well, wiping his blade on the side of a fallen worg.

“We could ask the ‘Apple King’ about that,” Iesa responded.

“Not even funny. Hey Beepu, you might need to go up a bit.”

“It would mess with the range!” Beepu replied from above us. “He cannot hit me with his poor aim.”

“He can if he jumps with that club,” I yelled back.

“What? Oh. Perhaps I should make certain,” and Beepu began to rise higher in the air.

“Great, Beepu’s safe. That helps,” Iesa said sardonically. “What about us? I’m pretty sure if he hits one of us, that’s it. And running might be a problem with the bridge out.”

“I’m not running, we just need to keep it from getting close,” I yelled back.

--Good news. Seems that worgs and hobgoblins don’t swim well together. Only a couple of the hobgoblins are left, and trying to climb out.

Keep an eye out for more.


“Drik, Drok, we have some hobgoblins crawling out of the water,” I said loudly, unsure where the pair might be.

I heard a pair of wicked chuckles. “They clumsy,” Drik said. “Toss them back,” Drok replied, and I heard them scamper off to look for the stragglers.

“Well, might get some shots in before it gets close,” And Daneath threw off his shield, sheathed his blade and pulled out his long bow.

“What about me?” Iesa complained.

“Get ready and stab it,” Daneath retorted.

“Get ready? By myself?”

I then pulled a mirror out and spun it in my fingers, “Protect him,” I whispered, and I pulled on a light strand and wove it around Iesa. I then quickly pulled on a pair of light and dark ones and whispered under my breath.

“Iesa; Kelemvor will protect you until you strike. Strike then run fast!”

“Hah,” Beepu shouted. “Finally, you are close enough, you lumbering behemoth of a whelp! Come and face me you low Ordning born! Even I stand above you!” and as he taunted, he threw a bolt of fire at the giant, and I watched it go wild and strike the ground instead.

“You might want,” Daneath said as he pulled on the bow string and released, “To hit it first.” The arrow flew from the bow with the narrow head whistling in the dark, accompanied by a shout of defiance from the big warrior.

Daneath was never a great shot with a bow. Iesa was much better at archery. But I knew that he didn’t have the strength to use Daneath’s longbow. Daneath did keep up his skills though on the occasional hunt. But with a target as large as a giant, I wondered if you really could miss. I also knew it was the wrong question; it was whether you could pierce the thick skin and hurt it at all.

I watched with dismay as I saw the arrow streak and just scrape the giant’s side. I started to ready my own magic, pulling at the dark strands when I heard Daneath’s second arrow fly from his hand. This one was shot low, but the arrow rose as it flew, until I heard it sink into the muddy loincloth that the giant wore. It bellowed and bent over in pain. It then looked at Daneath with a snarling face of hatred. But to my surprise, the giant stopped and lifted its great club awkwardly and used its other hand to cover its loin cloth defensively.

I let loose my magic and a small hand now clutched around the giant throat, almost concealed by the scraggly, unkempt beard. It crouched in place now, trying to find a way forward. It looked at Daneath warily.
A blast of fire from above found home this time, and the giant roared at the new wound. There was the sound of crackling, roasted flesh, and the sight of skin smoking and cracking apart. The giant looked around at its feet, and I watched it bend and pickup a mass of wood. It was the remains of a wooden wagon, that he twisted and hurled at the gnome.

The wagon tumbled end over end as it flew towards Beepu. But I watched as the gnome rose higher into the air. The wagon flew well below the wizard and then landed in a crushed heap on the ground, as Beepu laughed at the miss. From elsewhere I could hear a shriek of a hobgoblin, and the sound of body hitting water followed by “CLUMSY!”

I refocused my mind and pulled on more dark strands and formed a miasma as the sound of the bell pealed in the air. Daneath fired more arrows from his bow, and still managed to hit the giant’s loincloth again. The giant howled as this again, and it staggered around, trying to cover himself.

I pulled on more strands, and again as I did so, another bolt of fire streaked from Beepu’s place in the sky. I released my power and the bell tolled once again. The giant was frustrated; unwilling to retreat and unwilling to proceed towards the menace with the longbow. All the while being pelted with fire and torn apart by shadow.

The giant was groaning and was looking around on the ground for an object; anything it could throw at a target it could see. It was then I saw Iesa run and leap across the river, and without stopping, slashed with his dagger, across the back of the calves with a nasty draw cut. The giant bellowed at the new wound, and gamely swung at the rogue. But it was too late, as Iesa was already out of reach before he could retaliate.
Daneath fired another pair of arrows, but both lodged deeply into the wood of the club. I switched back to the chilling ghostly hand again and could feel the energy shred more of the giant’s life away. But then from above a blast of fire rained down from above, striking giant in the face. I watched it stagger around for a moment, and then it sank to its knees with a groan. I could see its face clearly now, with a confused look of pain as it fell over on its side, crashing in the earth, tossing up clouds of dirt and causing the buildings to tremble. I then could feel the last of its life drain away and dissipate as it gave off a final shuddering death rattle. A sound that thrilled me as the last vestiges of life vanished.

There were now only the sounds of fire consuming wood, rushing water, and our own breaths on the night air. The stillness took over as we looked around for another worg in the darkness, or a hobgoblin charging seeking our heads.

The euphoria was wearing off, and I could feel a knot in my stomach form. I looked around; the chapel’s doors were smashed along with the interior by a rock. One outlying building was in flames, and another was smashed apart by another rock. The bunkhouse I had been sleeping in, was torn apart, with scattered flames on the shakes of what was left of the roof. Only a pair of smaller buildings still stood intact from the ravages of the night.

I made my way to the well, and took a bucket that lay on the ground, and passed its handle through the hook at the top of a rope and clasp. I dropped the bucket down the shaft and then pulled up some water. I placed the bucket on the edge and splashed some of the cold water onto my face. I wanted to wipe away the smoke and grime that I could feel there. I wanted to wash away the conflicting emotions I felt. To conceal the tears of the turmoil within me.

As I did this, the rest gathered. Daneath and Iesa staggered forward, both injured from worgs and scrapes with blades. Drik and Drok appeared then from the southern side of the village; their shirts drenched in blood that was not their own. Finally, fluttering down from above came Foggle, Gossamer and finally Beepu, who was wearing a grin that said that he was completely and utterly self-absorbed with his accomplishments.

“We did it,” Daneath said slowly. “We survived.”

“Yes. Of course, we did,” Beepu said in a matter of fact tone. “My superior position allowed us to claim victory. I await your thanks.”

Iesa looked at the gnome for a moment before speaking, “Yes…thank you Myr for that trench,” as he turned towards me.

“That’s right,” Daneath chimed in, trying to hide his smile. “That flood of water really took out those riders. Great job!”

The two goblins nodded, “Gala Booyahg made lashers clumsy swimmers,” Drik said approvingly, while Drok just nodded vigorously.

“What?!? What about me?” Beepu’s face grew red, missing the snarky smiles on the other’s faces.

“Oh, yes. Where were you? I couldn’t see you on the ground anywhere. Where were you hiding?” Daneath said mildly still trying to hide a grin that was getting wider by the moment.

“You were really good there,” Iesa said. “Did you turn invisible or did you just become a rock again?”

“HOW COULD YOU NOT SEE—” he started, when Iesa snorted and Daneath just turned red holding is breath, trying not to laugh. Then, he gave out a sudden burst of laughter, no longer able to control himself. Beepu straightened up, surprised for a moment, and then he too smiled and laughed. “You…you had me there you two! All of you!”

I couldn’t hold back and laughed as well. Even the two goblins started to snicker and eventually were rolling on the ground laughing pointing at Beepu. As I giggled madly, my cheeks ached, and I could feel my eyes water. It was the tears and laughter washed away the pain, that only laughter with friends could.

Session notes:

So, in game terms, every minute allowed me to cut about 25’ ft long and 10’ ft wide (in 5x5x5 foot cubes) every minute. That’s 1500’ ft trench in an hour, and I had more than that in terms of time. And you thought Minor Illusion was bad.

And many worgs and hobgoblins drowned. A horrible death of course, but not as bad as Drik and Drok ‘clumsy’ attacks were.

But the DM and Daneath’s player coming us for the rational on why a giant would be afraid of a tiny battlemaster with a longbow was brilliant. Makes complete sense.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Burden of Guilt - 2/15/2020

It is a sad thing to grow up with millions of people around you every day, and yet find yourself utterly alone.

I awoke to the warmth of the sun on my face. I lazily opened my eyes to look at the open sky overhead, blue and clear. I took a deep breath and sighed heavily, unwilling to move. Not with Gossamer providing welcome warmth by my feet, as he rested there calmly. But more than anything I just wanted to rest. Not to run off to march away to some crisis. Not to chase down hobgoblin raiders. Indeed, not to fight at all. I wanted rest and respite; it had been weeks since I left Waterdeep to Secomber, and from there it seemed to be never-ending fighting. I lay there in the cot, taking advantage of what I knew would be an all too brief moment of solace.

After we had slaughtered the worgs, hobgoblins and the giant we had A lot of work to do last night. The five men worked on stamping out the fires, while I searched the village for bodies, and buried them where I found them. Some of the bodies required me to fish them out of the new canal that now circled the village. But it didn’t matter to me as I sunk each worg, each hobgoblin and even the giant beneath the earth. It was strange how in combat it was so easy to hate, but when setting matters to rest it was so soothing. Not because it was a hard earn victory, or that they deserved to be sent to judgement. But because how right it felt to treat the fallen correctly; even our foes.

But afterwards, we had all agreed to get a longer rest and not start with daybreak as we usually did. Well, I suppose it was more Beepu and myself arguing for that. Although as someone attuned and able to work the Weave that was normal, it was more than that for me.

It had been months since I arrived here, and home was still as far away as ever. While I liked the journey of my travels as it tickled the Sensate within me, the idea I couldn’t go home was like a pebble in my boot, unwilling to let me forget it. Iesa, Daneath and Beepu all had a home of sorts, between Waterdeep and Silverymoon. They could go there if they needed to. Or wanted to.

But those places weren’t Sigil. As much as I could gripe about the Hive, the Gatehouse, or any other unsavory aspect it was still home. It was everything I couldn’t do; go the Sensorium to relive the travels and experiences of others and share my own. To get a bite of za, sooty with mushrooms from a vendor on the street. My monthly tea with a…well friend is an interesting way to look at him. He was a fiend after all. But it didn’t matter now. It was all out of reach. Perhaps forever.

Heaving another sigh, I realized that turning over the same stone in my mind, I might as well do it walking elsewhere, to keep the monotony away.

Time to move, Goss

--I do believe you are wrong.

Possibly, but we’re going to need to leave at some point.

--That doesn’t concern me. Keeping warm does.

My legs are moving, like it or not.

--You are a cruel woman.


I pushed my legs free from under the impossibly heavy familiar and sat up and put my gear on. I noticed that the building was empty; even Beepu must have risen a while ago. I packed my things and walked outside to see what the chant was.

I found Daneath by the well outside, cleaning his mess kit. He nodded as he saw my approach.

“You know…sleep in, didn’t mean all morning,” he quipped as packed away the tin bowls.

“Probably. But the travelling has been wearing on me,” I replied. “Where are the others?”

“Beepu is in the chapel; apparently the goblins snore so he moved there and demanded to be left alone so he could study his diagrams and books.”

“Well…he’s the one that snores. The goblins just do it to wake him up.”

“Yeah…I know. No point on arguing it though.”

I nodded, “We have a plan?”

“Once Iesa gets back from some hunting and tracking we’re going to discuss.”

“Tracking?”

Daneath nodded, “We aren’t sure where to go from here. He’s hoping to get an idea based on tracks. That and some fresh food.”

“I take it worg meat isn’t that good?”

Daneath shuddered, “It’s tough, stringy and has a nasty flavor. Rather not.”

“So, what about Drik and Drok?”

“Well…they looted all the cups, bowls, and other metal stuff. But they can’t carry it all. Now they are trying to figure out what to take with them.”

“Well, I guess they know their goods,” Iesa said, sauntering up with some game birds in hand. “Beepu around?”

“I can get him,” I said, and I turned to look at Gossamer who had just sat down to groom.

--What? Oh..fine…sure…not like I had important things to do.

Grooming?

--Important Grooming.


Gossamer stood, stretched and flew off towards the small chapel. While Iesa continued; “Well hunting is a bit thin. But worse yet is I can’t get a handle on where the goblins may have come from.”
Daneath scrunched his face, “That’s a problem.”

Iesa sat on a bench near the well and started to dress the birds. His brows knitted in concentration. Then he finally said “Well…maybe not. We could ask our two friends if they know the way.”

Daneath and I looked at each other, and I shrugged my shoulders.

“Why not. What’ the worst that can happen?” Daneath exclaimed throwing his hands up in the air.

“You get punched in the codpiece?” I ventured.

“Better that than having your throat ripped out?” Daneath said looking at me with an arched eyebrow.

I winced. “Point taken,”

“Well then,” Daneath said, putting his kit back into his pack. “Let’s go ask them.”

We found the pair together in one of the smaller, and still intact buildings. They were sitting on the floor, carefully picking through various objects made of metal. As we approached, they started looking at us guardedly. They slowly and deliberately started scooping together the metal objects on the floor, as if they were ready to cut and run with their loot. But they didn’t, instead both sat there and waited for one of us to speak.

“Hey guys…wondered if you could help us with something,” Iesa started.

“No!” said Drik

“Yes?” questioned Drok. They then looked at each other and sighed before both said. “Maybe. What?”

“This…what did you call them…Lasher. The Prophesized One…do you know where he is?” Iesa asked as non-chalantly as possible.

The pair stopped their gathering and looked at Iesa with a look that might be best described as dismay. They glanced at each other slowly and then back at Iesa before Drik responded.

“We not sure. We never seen him.”

“But you know where he might be?” Iesa pressed.

Drik gulped, and Drok slowly replied, “He might be at camp. He might be at big fort. We not know.”

“Tell us about the camp,” Daneath jumped into the conversation.

“Camp close. Had some workers for lasher. Was mine, but mine empty now.” Drik said haltingly.

“And the fort?” Daneath asked.

“Farther. Past swamp and near lake--” Drok said before being motioned to silence by Drik.

“And you know the way?” Daneath kept pushing.

“—We not want to go there.” Drik not wanting to look either man in the eye.

“Afraid. I am not surprised,” Beepu said with a mocking tone. It seemed to be lost on the goblins though.

“Want to go back to Skullport,” Drok said, ignoring the gnome.

“Well we need your help finding—” Iesa started before being cut off.

“—No. Want to leave.” Drik said vehemently.

“Drik, Drok,” I said kneeling down in front of the pair. “Are there more hobgoblins and worgs out there?”
Drik’s head snapped up and looked at me, while Drok looked away with a resigned look on his face. “Yes. Many.”

“If you help us, we can keep them away from you. But if you head off now, you might be found by another lasher.”

Drik frowned and sighed. Drok’s face contorted with disgust. They looked at each other. Finally, Drok shrugged and Drik spoke again.

“We will try to find way.”

I smiled and bowed my head in respect. “Thank you both.” The pair were surprised at the gesture, looking at each other in confusion. “Where do we need to go?” I asked.

“Camp or Fort,” Drik asked looking around at all of us.

Daneath thought a moment, “You said it was close. I would rather continue our original plan; picking them apart one by one. So, the camp would be my vote.”

Iesa nodded, “I agree. And I don’t like the sound of the hobgoblins having ‘workers.’ Sounds like slaves.”
Beepu scrunched his face up and said, “The tactics have worked for us so far. No reason to alter that. And the thought of slaves under the boots of the hobgoblins irritates me.

“I guess the camp then,” I said.

“To find camp, must find valley of bugs,” Drik said nodding as both goblins started to scoop up the metal things scattered before them into a pair of packs.

“Bugs?” I said a little confused and more than a little apprehensively.

“Big bugs,” Drok nodded and confirmed.

“We can handle bugs I believe,” Beepu yawned.

Drik and Drok looked at each other and gave the gnome a wicked smile. “Sure. You handle bugs.”

Iesa looked at the goblins, and then at Daneath. “What am I missing?”

“I think we will only find out on the way,” Daneath replied.




We travelled late into the evening, leaving the ruins of the town far behind us. I wished I could have done more for the people that had to run. Granted I was the one that told them to run and flee their homes, but inside I knew what I told Drik and Drok, would have applied to the villagers; another group of hobgoblins would come. The battle would be repeated, but without us to face them. So, it was the right decision to convince them to flee while they could.

And thinking honestly; I would have run too. I guess power did give me courage, and circumstances had forced me to stand in the thick of combat. I could trade, or at least withstand blows with monsters and beings that acted like them. But I also supposed that in the end it was I afraid of the wrong things.

Death didn’t scare me. Was I jaded for having crossed beyond once and being forced back? Perhaps, but the thought of dying didn’t bother me. And for all the noblest intentions, five years ago I learned more about pain that I ever wanted to know. Enough to almost break me. Even my death hurt less.

I wasn’t afraid of those things. I was afraid of losing control. Not being able to do the things I wanted to do, not finding a way home, not being free. I didn’t want shackles, real or imagined. If I had a desperate wish, it was to be able to travel where and how I wanted. To explore and be free. Free from the guilt I felt; that I owed a debt that I couldn’t repay, if only in my own heart. Free from the anger that fueled me to kill these hobgoblins.

But once we camped, I took my leave from the others, skipping out on dinner and turned in early. I stripped off my armor and lay on my bedroll, and for once sleep took me peacefully.

I woke a cool hand gently shaking my shoulder. I breathed deeply, trying to chase the memory of the dream that was leaving me. Only the fringes of emotions were left; satisfaction, peace and…something else now far away. I opened my eyes and saw to my surprise it was Iesa waking me up, with Mo perched on his shoulder. Usually it was Daneath that roused me, as we would trade favors armoring up. He helped me don it at for last watch, and I he in the morning. We had done this for a while as ‘a best practice’ to make sure the armor was hanging correctly. His was more complex, but Daneath’s experience with armor helped me wear my own so I wouldn’t tire as easily, placing weight on my hips and not my shoulders where possible.

I sat up and stretched, and asked “Any issues?”

“No,” Iesa said softly. “No worgs or anything tonight.” He fed Mo a piece of dried fruit as he waited for me to get up.

“Good…where’s D?”

“He actually turned in a bit ago. Said something about fatigue, since he didn’t sleep in like the rest of us did yesterday.” He wasn’t looking at me directly, but instead down at the ground, as if distracted by something.

I nodded, “So, are you going to help me put my armor on?” I said as I stood up and fastened on the gambeson around me.

“Uh…sure,” he said leaning over to pick up the chain shirt I normally, wore and held it up by the shoulders. I slipped my arms and kept them at chest level as he buckled the straps that crossed the left side. I felt his hands gingerly touch my ribcage as he pulled the leather through the buckles. As I waited, I realized that his hands were shivering. No quivering as he struggled to pull the buckles closed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Huh?! N-n-nothing! Why?”

“Because you barely pulling on the straps,” and I reached down to pull on them myself when my hand touched his. The instant it did he recoiled and stepped back.

I turned to look at Iesa and he looked…guilty. I was sure to have a puzzled look on his face.

“I’m not a porcelain cup Iesa. And it’s just armor.”

“I’m sorry…Its…its just the last time I touched you like that I…I was carrying your body back to Yartar.”

“I...I didn’t know.”

“Yeah. Your blood was everywhere. I remembered how warm you were when I first picked you up…and how cold you were when I finally put you on that altar.”

Iesa was quiet a moment looking at the embers of the campfire nearby. And I waited sensing that there was more to this story.

“It was my fault I suppose. If I told everyone about the map, we would have taken a different route. And…and it wouldn’t have happened. And its odd,” he said turning to look at me with sadness in his eyes.

“You were the first person I saw killed that…meant something to me. I wasn’t there when my mother died. I found her well afterwards. When the hyena leapt at you and you fell, it was...different. Like I lost a…lost a sister I guess.”

“Are you sure? Usually you don’t spy on your sister swimming in a spring.”

Iesa’s eyes looked like they were about to pop from their sockets, “What…how?”

“Gossamer smelled you and told me.”

“Smelled me?!?”

“Foggle would have spotted you. But Gossamer’s sense of smell is very keen.”

“Well…I…um…that is—”

“—If I cared I would had said something. I noticed that in Waterdeep that the bathes they were segregated. They aren’t in the Great Gymnasium in Sigil. So, the modesty here is…surprising.”

“Oh well…I…just wanted to make sure you were ok and…yeah I lingered a bit long. You are a beautiful woman after all. And—”

“And?”

“Do I really smell?”

I laughed, “Maybe to Goss.”

“Yeah you said though that if I wanted—”

“—'wanted to attract an elven woman?’” I said gently. “I remember. And the next time we are anywhere near a town, an elven tree or a goliath camp I’ll help you out. Did you have a smell in mind?”

“Well…I always like the smell of that spice…cinnamon,”

I grimly chuckled, “If that’s what you want.”

He looked at me puzzled, “Something wrong,”

I looked down a second, smiled and looked at him again. “Well, I know most like the smell, but it…it has a different meaning for me. For anyone that grew up in the Hive.”

He looked at me uncertainly, “What do you mean?”

I gave him a wry lopsided grin, “A long time ago, the Blood War…um the war between what you call devils and demons broke into full swing in the poorest part of Sigil. The tanar’ri…the demons, brought a thing…a weapon in the Hive. But they couldn’t control it, and when they got chased out by the Lady, they left it behind.”

“What was it?”

“Kadyx. It haunts the Hive and kills people, but…”

“But what?”

“It has a strange sense of humor...often the kills are arranged in a strange way. Once some warrior in full plate mail proclaimed, he would go slay it. When they found him later, it was just his skeleton, standing in its armor.”

“That’s gruesome…and weird. But I don’t get it.”

“Well, when it is near…there is a strong smell of cinnamon in the air. People tend to run at that point in fear of their lives.” I finished tightening the final buckle on my armor, and started to move to the fire to start my watch. After a couple of steps, I turned around to face him again.

“So perhaps…it suits you.” I smiled. After a long pause I spoke again “Thank you for the help. Goodnight Iesa.”

“Myrai…I…I’m sorry,”

I nodded, “It’s…it’s alright. We have more than enough guilt to share.”

He nodded in response, and muttered “Good night” and he made his way to his own tent.

I moved to the center of camp where I saw Gossamer on a nearby branch

That’s surprising.

--What? That you aren’t the only one that tortures themselves with guilt? You’re surprised?

Not about that…that I never asked.

--I’m not surprised. You would rather tell a pithy story about Sigil, rather than discuss what you are really feeling.

That’s not fair!

--Fairness isn’t part of the bargain. You aren’t even playing fair. That bit about swimming for example. Did you tell him about that time when you rescued him from near death, how your hands lingered on his body, ‘checking for wounds’

Wait a—

--You are just a bottle of pent up unresolved emotions. Like your obsession with this ‘Prophesized One’

--His minions are slaughter--

About Iesa—

Hey now he’s like a --

--About Daneath—

I admire what he—

--About Beepu

There is a lot I can—

--Markell--

No.

--Elisna—

NO!

--Your fath—

STOP!


I was screaming in my head as I covered my ears in a vain attempt to silence my own familiar. I didn’t want to listen to this. I fell to my knees, breathing heavily, shutting my eyes tightly closed.

Please…stop…not now.

--I’m sorry, I’ll go back to watching for things around us. But you DO need to deal with these things.


I knelt there by the fire, tears coming unbidden once again, and streaming down my cheeks. It was then I realized the truth.

I didn’t want freedom. I wanted to run. Run and leave guilt and shame behind in a distant past, a distant place. To leave it behind and never face them. To run and hide from everyone. From myself.

I didn’t want to run anymore.

But I didn’t have the strength to deal with it.

Not alone.

Still on my knees, I leaned forward and prayed:

No one should be alone, in life or death,

Life is a part of death, not an ending but a beginning

Life is without deceit and has meaning,

May my prayer find its way to the Fugue,

And your gaze from the Crystal Spire of smoke find me,

May you guide your servant on the next step of her journey,

Because Life’s challenge is finding the next waypost,

It is not a destination, but a Journey,

Help me find the strength to heal the wounds within,

So be the will of my Lord, and my desire in faith

May you grant me peace in Life.




Session notes:

This was a brief moment, and there was a bit of discussion on where to go and what to do .

However, convincing Drik and Drok to stay was an effort. Partially because I think the DM actually hated his creations; or at least doing the voices. We certainly didn’t NEED them.

Or did we?
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Bugs? What Bugs? - 02/29/2020

In a vain attempt to experience everything, sometimes we experience the absurd. Its barmy but true.

How we cope with it, is the interesting question.


(Apologies; Real Life interfered with my writing. So, getting back on track.)


For the rest of the morning I was either glaring or Gossamer or watching the sky impatiently for dawn to come. While we were able to scare Drik and Drok into coming with us because of the risk of more hobgoblins, there wasn’t any sight of them, or sound of their worgs. All I heard was wind rustling the thick thigh high grasses that surrounded us and the muffled sounds of Beepu’s and the goblin’s snoring. Well, mostly Beepu’s.

In fact, I was spending my time doing anything I could to avoid Gossamer’s observation of me. I even tried to read the Apocrypha to no success; the strange Celestial writings were as unclear as anything to me. It was comical; because Beepu would probably run a green one if he knew that I could read in the darkness. He had things to read, and no way to do it on watch. I could but had nothing I could read, even though I wanted to.

As the morning’s darkness slowly turned to light, I thought about my tangled feelings I had for the others around me. The guilt and debts heavy weight still clung to me. But I had never considered my effect on the others around me. That Iesa felt guilty; that Beepu felt indebted, and as for Daneath…I had no idea.

Because it came down to that, I never asked. We never talked about my death; it was a forbidden topic. I always thought it was because the others didn’t want to cause me discomfort. But the truth was the episode bothered them as well. How does one even ‘discuss’ it? But at least I could discuss my death if I chose. My other emotional knots? That was another story.

Who would want to listen and help me sort out my feeling and my past? Would Beepu care at all about my ‘sister?’ What did I expect others to say to me about Markell? And all of them are looking for their fathers with eagerness. Mine was special only in the sense that he didn’t want to be found at all…and that he was an immortal. Only Iesa seemed to share the same perspective on finding his. But that was based on abandoning his mother and he to the slums. Mine at least tried to find a better place. And I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not, let alone how I felt about it.

I realized that the answer was simple, and yet had no solution. That a person who truly wanted to know and listen would be a person that really cared about me. My dead mother might have. I thought Markell was that person, and that turned out to be horribly wrong. The only other one that might qualify that I knew, was in Sigil. But being an immortal, the definition of ‘care’ was very different that my own.

The sun peaked above the horizon, illuminating the camp. I slowly stood up, stretching out my stiff limbs. Finding someone to dump my internal ball of emotional issues was going to require a different locale. I turned and looked at our set of lean-tos and bedrolls and began the thankless job of waking everyone.

Fortunately, small talk and packing up the camp is all we did. Iesa said nothing more about last night, and I didn’t mention it either. The goblins and Beepu needled each other with a little less intensity, for which I was thankful for. The reason for this, less so.

The goblins were in front with Iesa and I close behind, and Beepu and Daneath following. Because the goblins were leading with a slower pace, so Beepu was having a much easier time with the journey. But I noticed that we were slowly making less and less progress. Watching the goblins, I saw that they were becoming animated with each other and halted with more and more frequency. Iesa however didn’t seem to notice the subtle change.

“So, we still on the right path?”

Drik nodded, while Drok almost shook his head, and then agreed. They started to mutter to each other in goblin. I didn’t understand the language, but I could tell there was some type of disagreement. Biting my lip, I decided to say nothing, and instead started to work the magic so I could understand them the next time they started to disagree. It took a little while to cast, but it was read when we crested a hill so we could get a better set of bearings.

“So, boys, I see hills, a valley a ways off in some haze, grassland…which way?” Iesa asked. I was pretty sure he was being straight up with the question, as none of us had been here before, and unlike the march to Flint Rock, there was no map hiding in Iesa’s pack.

The goblins stood there a moment, and Drik motioned to Drok. Drok sighed and came over to his brother. Drik then scrambled on top of Drik until he was precariously balanced on Drok’s head. He then looked around and confidently said, “The hills.”

<”That not we said earlier.”> Drok muttered in goblin.

<”It been a while. Directions hazy.”> Drik replied.

<”Head hazy for directions. Let me see.”>

<”No. My turn to lead. Not hazy.”>

<”Valley of Bugs not in hills. In Valley gnomepoop.”>

<”You gnomepoop. You bitchy gnome gnomepoop.”>
and he gestured towards Beepu. Beepu, who clearly couldn’t understand them, was busy reading a parchment, while the pair bickered.

“So,” I tried to sound casual, “You been to the hobgoblin camps often.”

“Maybe” said Drik. “No.” said Drok.

“Then, how do you know where to go?” I asked blandly. Inside I was afraid that they were guessing and stringing us along in fear.

“Remember landmarks mostly,” Drik said. “Not seen what I want to see.”

“I want to see. I remember.” Drok said sullenly from under Drik.

“Drik, can you le—”

“No. My day to see. We agree I stand on him!” Drik said passionately. I rolled my eyes and closed them, trying not to lose my temper. I then came up with an idea.

“Drik, come on down off of Drok,” I said smiling trying to sound reasonable. Drik didn’t seem to notice the tension in my words, and shrugged and jumped down from Drok. I then knelt down in front of Drok. I gently spun him around while he looked in confusion and then lifted him up by his forearms, the over my head and sat him on my shoulders.

As soon as I did so Drik’s face turned red, “Not fair. Drok short.”

<”Short as bitchy gnome from up here.”>

<”Cheater! Deal Breaker. Lasher snot!”>

<”Wait. Gnome bigger. You smaller.”>

<”Take that back, halfling licker.”>

<”Why? You not brave enough to ride ugly magic woman.”>


“Ok you two,” trying to hold back my laughter at their argument, and the revelation that I was a scary ugly Booyagh to them. “I’ll give you a look later Drik, if you think you are…brave enough.” Drik’s mouth opened a second and then it closed with him nodding vigorously. Seeing his agreement, I cocked my head to glance up at Drok. “What do you see?”

Drok looked around and then spoke, “Hazy head, not see hazy valley. If Valley has bugs, right place. Wrong valley, keep looking.”

“Haze around valley? Saw haze. Not sure it valley.” Drik said defensively.

“We’ll get closer, and I’ll let you look and then we’ll know.” I said. I lifted Drok from my shoulders and set him down on the ground. Looking at the others I said, “Shall we?” Everyone nodded, and we started moving again. Not long though Beepu tugged at my elbow.

“So, what was that about poop?” he asked puzzledly.

“Affectionate insults,” I said guardedly. “I thought you didn’t speak goblin.”

“I do not. But I do know what Blergmak means. That and I thought I heard the word for gnome; Keygacht.”

“Well…let’s just say that just like any pair of siblings, they like insulting each other.”

“I do not have siblings, so I do not see what the point is.”

“You don’t?” I looked at him a little surprised. “Siblings, or people that consider themselves ones, tend to insult and argue,” I said a bit wistfully.

“I know that. I do not understand why that is a necessary part.”

I shrugged, “I guess…I really don’t know. It just was...is.”

“Whatever. They are probably just laughing at me,” and Beepu then trudged along in silence.

“So…were they?” Daneath asked as Beepu stomped ahead.

“No. But he wouldn’t be laughing either.”
It was slow going, towards the patch of haze in the distance. The terrain wasn’t difficult, but it was much farther than I had thought from the hilltop. Every so often I would lift one of the goblins up on my shoulders. While I did it for practical reasons, it was clear that the Goblins enjoyed their moment of height. The others were just amused that I had become the center of the goblin’s world.

As it turned out that the haze was a light fog and it, was indeed surrounding the entrance to the valley. As we approached, the goblins started to become more wary. This wasn’t lost on anyone else either. Iesa pulled out his bow, and Daneath readied his sword and shield. We spread ourselves out a bit, keeping each other in sight as we tread through the fog. As we entered the valley, everything started to change. The breeze died down and was still. The air was thick and damp now. And then as we slowly made our way, I became afraid.

The sudden onslaught on our noses was overwhelming. The charnel smell of rot and decay was everywhere. My eyes stung and began to water and tear. As I wiped them, I kicked something on the ground. Looking down, I saw the source of the odors that now surrounded us.

It was a corpse, lying face down on the earth. The armor was in shambles, with large holes in the plate. The corpse itself was bloated; swelling up to fill the armor completely, and bulge grotesquely at the joints and neck. The skins’ color was between a deathly white and light rotten green. Flies and other insects swarmed around the bodies in thick clouds. As I stared, I could hear noises in the distance; noises of large metal plates grinding together.

Looking beyond into the mist, I saw that there were more corpses. Some in worse shape and some in better. But I didn’t see anything living beyond us. The field of corpses was descending downwards into a gully. And as we descended, the fog grew lighter, allowing us to see farther and farther.

It appeared that two hosts of men battled here in recent weeks. One group seemed to favor black tunics and yellow trim, the other was a more motley assortment of brown and red tunics. Spears were broken and thrust into the ground. In the distance, towards the middle of the battle and the valley, we could see a lone standard still planted in the ground, its colors hung limp in the still air.

I covered my mouth and nose, trying to ward off the stench. Then I heard the sounds of metal scraping nearby, giving me shivers up and down my back. I turned and faced a horror from tales told by veterans from wars past.

“Big Bugs,” Drik said quietly and pointed at the monstrosity. It was vaguely beetle shaped, with a grey carapace and spikes projecting outwards from it. The thing was massive, easily three paces wide and five long. It lumbered slowly and ponderously on the floor of the valley, unaware or uncaring of our prescence.

I then watched it move towards a pile of bodies. I saw it extend two grey metallic arms. Both were covered in dried blood and gore, and I watched it lift a corpse up into the air. The arms continued backwards over its body and then suddenly, it slammed the corpse’s chest onto a spike on its back. The arms then withdrew, and the corpse twisted and hung there, like a macabre scarecrow to frighten the living.

“That’s…that’s not a bug,” I gulp as I looked that the thing in horror. I knew was a blasphemy, and while one part of me recoiled, the other part of me wanted to destroy it. I then heard another noise deeper within, and I saw another one. And then another. Three of the things were creeping among thousands of corpses that lay on the ground. None of them in a rush, and none of them had noticed our presence.

“I’m not sure I care what those are. We should leave,” Daneath said grimly, his eyes squinting looking over the battlefield.

“Daneath is right. I do not think we want to mess with these things,” Beepu agreed readily.

“Lashers know that many would be afraid,” Drik spoke softly. “This battle old, yet the bugs never finish.”

“The lashers…you mean the hobgoblins control these things?” Iesa said looking at the goblins in surprise.

“No. Booyahg not in charge. They found secret.”

“What secret?” I asked, barely able to keep my eyes off of the one nearby, as I watched it impale another corpse on a spike on its back.

“They usually ignore living,” Drok said also whispering. “Lashers leave them alone to keep back entrance safe.”

“Back entrance?” Daneath asked, tearing his eyes away. “To their camp?”

Drik nodded, “Camp in little canyon with gate. This valley leads to cave that opens above camp. Only Booyagh and braver ones use cave.”

“How can we turn this down,” Iesa said sardonically. “Short cut with corpse backed bugs. This can’t possibly get any better.”

“I do not like it. Trusting the word of the goblins is a bad idea,”

I turned my head to look at Beepu, and just next to him the pair had turned their heads to glare at the gnome. I could only shake my head. But then I asked the pair, “Is there anything else we should know?”

They both quickly nodded and Drik said, “Yes. Do not touch the dead.”

“Well then, this isn’t going to look any better,” Daneath started. “Unless someone says otherwise, we head in and find that cave. Can you get us there?” Both goblins nodded, and Beepu only shrugged his shoulders.

We then started to thread our way through the battlefield. We moved cautiously; not running but not exactly sneaking either. The monstrosities ignored us, occasionally picking up a corpse and adding it to the pile on its back. The whole place gave me the shivers. As we continued through the valley, I began to notice that there were other bodies as well that didn’t match the ones at the entrance. The area felt off. It was like there were many different battles that were fought, and then overlaid on top of each other. I wondered if there was some other force at play here.

Gos, any of the…things moving towards us?

--No. They are just meandering.


I frowned and slowed down so I could talk to Beepu. “Hey, doesn’t this seem strange?” I whispered

“What? Us following the ad—” he started in lecturing tone.

“—Drop that. No, I mean the valley. I don’t get why so many bodies, and so many different groups as a part of it.”

“Oh. Well, I agree it is strange, but the High Moors are a strange place. It wasn’t always like this.”

“How so?”

“Well, this place is a product of the Crown wars, the Fifth one as I recall. Over ten thousand years ago it was a forest, probably like the Misty Woods. In that war, the kingdom of Miyeritar was destroyed by the Vyshaantar’s Empires superior magics. Supposedly, that event led to the Miyertar becoming drow.”

“Supposedly?”

“I am not an expert on elven history, and my memory may not be accurate. However, the magic storms laid waste to the land, and in some cases warped it. So, this valley being cursed may not be a surprise.”

“I’m not sure I like that much better.”

“Honestly I agree. In fact, I…” and Beepu stopped a moment, his eyes brows furrowing in a mixture of concentration and confusion. Then his eyes bulged in horror and he shouted at Iesa.

“Stop Mo!”

“What?” Iesa said, and he like the rest of us started to look around wildly. Beepu thrust his finger in the direction behind us. Perhaps ten paces away was that lone banner, hanging limply in the still air, its colors faded and worn from the elements. Leaning on it was a corpse, its desiccated hands still wrapped around the pole, while another hand clutched at a spear that had passed through the warrior, propping the corpse as it bend slightly backwards, the shaft of the spear somehow holding up the weight of the body. Just another deader I thought, until…

“Oh sodding, Baator no!” I said aloud. Mo was on the shoulder of the body and was pulling something shiny around the neck. Iesa turned and looked where I was, and I heard him mutter something quietly before calling out.

“Mo! Leave it. Come here!”

Mo looked up at Iesa and made a sound like ‘ook.’ He started to come back to us, when suddenly it ran up the corpse again, and tugged at the neck. Something broke free, and it now was held in Mo’s paws, much to his glee.

I could feel a sudden chill on the field, and as I looked around, I saw one of the things, drop a corpse from its claw like hands as it turned towards us. It then started to move forward, with a hideous sound as it clanked and clinked as the grey metal plates scraped past each other. The thing undulated as it moved. And it started to move fast.

“We need to bolt!” I said, backing away. We were probably in the middle of the valley, and we could barely see in the haze, the rock wall the bordered the far side. Fortunately, there was no massive ‘bug’ in between us and that rock. But there wasn’t an obvious clear path either.

“Iesa we need to move!” Daneath said and the warrior began to run, heading toward the rock, following Drik and Drok who despite their small stature, were swift enough to make Daneath work to keep up with them.

“Once I get Mo! MO COME HERE!!” Iesa shouted, and Mo started towards him, slowly. Then he turned and saw the lumbering monster starting to bear down towards him. Was he a target? I didn’t know, but nor did Mo, who froze in fear.

“MO!” Iesa bellowed, trying to get his pal’s attention. The bug thing was building speed. I grabbed Iesa by the arm and pulled him, trying to get him to move.

“We need to run. NOW!” I shouted. At that point there was a golden flash that blazed in front of the huge metal bug. And with that, Mo took to the air, as Foggle grasped the monkey in its talons.

Iesa blinked a moment, and started to stumble forward, and soon he was in a full sprint to the rock wall as well, easily leaving me behind, and passing Daneath. I looked behind me to see that another one had also turned and was giving chase as well. And then my heart sank.

While Daneath, Drik and Drok and I were about the same speed, and Iesa of course much faster, Beepu was still not swift and was falling paces behind us quickly, and the monster was gaining speed even faster. As they closed, I could feel the malevolence in them. I realized that while they were covered in metal, they were powered by the dark energy that sustained the undead.

I wanted to stand my ground and destroy them. That would have been the brave thing to do. And I knew it was a fast way to become a deader myself and impaled on a spike on its back. But with Beepu falling behind I didn’t know what I could do to help him move faster or slow down the bug.

Fortunately, Beepu had his own ideas, and quickly I saw behind him that a large fog bank appeared just behind him, enveloping the undead things. I could hear them slow a little bit in terms of the clanking and grinding sounds they made. Beepu ran as fast as he was able, not even looking to see if the fog delayed his pursuers. Ahead of him, Foggle carried Mo who was shivering in the talons of the mechanical owl.

I just ran. My heart pounded and my lungs burned. Ahead of me, I saw the goblins and Daneath heading toward the left and then I saw it, a narrow cave entrance. I turned and ran towards it, and then glanced behind me to see if we were going to make it.

Beepu, was still many paces behind, with only the wall of fog visible behind him. Suddenly, one of the monstrosities burst out of the fog, and was making a beeline for Beepu. Moments later the second one emerged, it too barreling down on us.

I was getting tired; my legs ached, and I was stumbling more. Glancing behind me I gulped, as I looked at our pursuers. Despite their bulk, they were gaining on Beepu and myself rapidly. I pushed myself harder; I wasn’t going to end up on a spike on an undead thing in the middle of prime. I was not going to die again.

The entrance was in reach, inside I saw the rest stand just inside the entrance to the cave. Daneath and Iesa had both unslung their bows letting arrows fly. I watched them streak by me, and I heard the metal tips ricochet off the metal plates. A moment later I had crossed the threshold of the cave, and I turned around, ready to let loose a spell to save the gnome from death.

Beepu ran, with the creatures close behind him. His face was red from the exertion, and his legs a quick blur as he ran for all of his worth. The metal creature was closing fast on the gnome.

He wasn’t going to make it.

I wracked my head for an idea, as the brothers kept up their barrage of arrows, even though they seemed to have no effect. Drik and Drok had pulled out their crossbows and also fired quarrels, trying to slow down the monsters in any way they could. I felt helpless; none of my blasts, my miasma, or anything could quickly cast could slow them down. I had no way to create an obstacle—or did I?

I reached out with a twisting of light and dark strands just behind Beepu. I focused on the earth itself, but instead of pushing out the dirt to make a hole, I simply churned it making it challenging to cross, lifting buried stones and loosening the earth, right in front of the metal thing. It ran over the dirt and it immediately slowed down. Its long form unable to quickly traverse the impacted area, its speed was cut in half.

It was just enough; Beepu surged forward and entered the cave. He paused a moment, to look behind him, and together we realized that it was now speeding up and was going to ram the cave at full speed.

We stumbled over each other to run deeper into the cave; Drik and Drok led the way, while I grabbed the arms of Iesa and Daneath and pulled them deeper into the darkness, having no time to create a source of light for the humans. We barely got two paces, when with a thundering sound, it crashed into the rock around the cave. Stone and dust fell from the ceiling, and we all stumbled forward, struggling to keep our balance. I failed to and I landed flat on my stomach, and was quickly covered by dust, and rock. I lifted my head and looked back at the entrance and saw the ‘bug’ back up and again slam itself against the stone.

I crawled deeper in, finally siting and turning to face the entrance with the others. After a dozen times, the bug went still. Then it slowly backed up and turned away, returning to the grisly battlefield. I sat there, still trying to catch my breath when I heard Mo utter a small moping sound. I turned to look at Iesa, and I watched Mo slink up Iesa’s shoulder and back into is pack. Iesa sighed and looked at his hand. There, a brass chain dangled from his fingers, ending in a cheap locket. The clasp that held it shut was open, and inside I could see a small dried red flower.

“All…of…that…for…a…flower?” Beepu said between breaths.

“Tells me…one thing,” Daneath said breathing a bit easier.

“What’s that?” Iesa asked giving Daneath a suspicious look.

“Mo thinks you smell too.”

Iesa’s jaw dropped, dumbfounded. And with that Drik and Drok collapsed on the floor in fits of hysteria. Daneath just stood there with a grin on his face. Beepu looked at the goblins and then Iesa. After a moment, he too spat and started to laugh as well.

Iesa looked at me helplessly, like I was the last bastion of reason, or defender of his honor.

“Myr?” he said in a pleading voice.

I leaned back against the wall, with an exasperated expression. Closing my eyes for a moment, I smiled. I then waved my hand and suddenly the smell of cinnamon and roses wafted on the air from Iesa. He looked at me puzzled at first and then his nose caught the fresh smells that now clung onto him.

“Oh. come ON!”

Session Notes:

So…we never really understood the setup of the battle here. Based on the map, Loudwater and Secomber are the two closest towns, but Secomber didn’t have a large standing force. Many things didn’t make sense, but that only after I was reading my notes. Still, Mo almost getting us killed was humorous.

Almost.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Six Bridges, Four Pillars, Three mistakes, and One ladder. - 03/08/2020

The first time I met someone from the ‘God Void’ he was about to put a bunch of hardheads in the deadbook because he thought he was in the Abyss. Turns out for folks from Krynn, anything off plane was considered the Abyss, and considering how dangerous some places can be, it wasn’t exactly unwarranted.

But, he did learn from that mistake, made good and made an excellent bouncer for a bar. The lesson to take away here, is that adjusting to reality is how your survive.

As the laughter died down, I started to look around at the tunnel. It was apparent that it was worked with tools, but parts of it appeared to be a natural tear in the rock. The floor that I sat on was only partially smoothed out, having rough uneven footing. As my eyes followed up the walls, they too were not clean and smooth. But there was no timber holding up the ceiling like in the quarry I had been in.

“This was built. Why?” I asked, looking at the goblins.

Drik shrugged. “Was always this way. Booyagh, Wanted another path. Most never used it.”

Drok nodded. “We forced here once. Worgs hated tunnel. Booyagh angry.

“Anything else?” Iesa asked.

“Simple, No branches. Nothing here but rock,” Drik said shrugging again.

“That makes it easier,” Iesa said with a look on his face that made it clear that he had an idea.

“Well what is it?” Daneath asked looking at his brother.

“I want to investigate. Can you make me invisible Beepu?”

“I can, but it will not last forever,” the gnome said looking at Iesa critically. “Foggle is adequate for this.”

Iesa shook his head. “No, your descriptions of what Foggle sees isn’t as good as my own eyes.”

“I cannot argue with that I suppose. What are you thinking?” Beepu asked critically.

“I think that taking them before it gets dark, while we can see,” Iesa started.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Daneath nodded with approval. “At least the part about scouting. We haven’t seen or heard any worgs since the village. And how many are left here.”

“There will be slaves,” Drik said sadly.

“Few here last time. Might be more now.” Drok added.

“Well, we get can some rest then if they do not patrol the tunnel,” Beepu observed.

“Well, let’s have Gossamer and Foggle watch the tunnel entrances, while we wait for Iesa to return.” I suggested. “I’m going to get some rest now unless you need me.”

“I should be fine.” Iesa said.

“Well, this will take a moment,” and Beepu started to cast his spell.

I didn’t watch. I just turned myself and leaned against the wall and tried to relax. It was a little absurd; trying to relax and rest so close to a bunch of hobgoblins. But after running for my life moments ago, and the long hike, I have learned that If needed I can nap anywhere. A quick dreamless slumber.

My head jerked up and my eyes fluttered open at the light touch of a hand on my shoulder. I was looking at Beepu and I simply nodded and rubbed my eyes. Standing and yawning, I stretched my arms overhead and looked around. Everything seemed lighter, and looking towards the entrance to the cave, I could see no sunlight streaming in. Smirking I knew it meant it was near nightfall. The reversal of light and darkness for me was still amusing. Daneath and Iesa were talking quietly, while the goblin pair were busy checking their swords, and swapping around the limited number of quarrels for their crossbows. Beepu was pacing, his brows furrowed, and his eyes closed as he whispered to himself.

I walked over to the brothers to see what they had planned.

“Morning, princess,” Iesa smiled at me.

“If I’m a princess, I demand an upgrade of my accommodations. Otherwise, I’ll send for the headsman,” and I motioned my head towards Daneath.

"Hmm…clearly I’m mistaken,” Iesa said with a mock apology.

“It’s obvious you idiot; princesses don’t snore and drool like that,” Daneath dead panned.

“Hey wait a---” I started

“—Anyway,” Iesa said cutting me off, “What you missed was the plan. Basically, there pillars of rock with bridges in between all over the canyon. The gate has a couple of guards, as does a pair of pillars above the slave pen, where there are sentries.”

“Where are the—” I started again.

“—getting there. You are pushy after a nap. Anyway I saw most of them enter a cave directly across the canyon, from where we will be entering. One thing is that according to Drik—”

“It was Drok,” Daneath said.

“You sure?” Iesa said confused.

“Yes. Now get on with it.” Daneath replied impatiently.

“Right, according to Drok, they have a big horned thing. Like a bugbear, but not one.”

“I said that!” one of the goblins.

“I know, Drok.”

“No. That Drok. I Drik,” said the annoyed goblin.

“Daneath, you really should learn to tell them apart,” I said.

“No point! Both are goblins,” Beepu muttered, still focusing inwards.

“True. We taller,” Drik chimed in.

“Now wait a—” Beepu’s eyes snapped open and his face was red in anger and he was about to launch into a tirade when I held up my hands and interrupted.

“--Alright, alright! We don’t need to make it easier for the hobgoblins. Sounds like a minotaur.”

Daneath and Iesa straightened up in surprise. “How do you know that?”

“I don’t. But I knew one who was hipped in Sigil. Was a sailor and his ship fell through a portal into the Ditch. After everyone convinced him that he wasn’t in the Abyss he was hired as a bouncer foor a bar called The Mazes. Cool cutter, as long as he kept his temper. Basically kinda looked like a bugbear in size with a bull’s head. Right…Drik and Drok?” I quickly said.

Both the goblins nodded.

“So what do we do about him?” I asked.

“Beepu says he can collapse the cave and trap them all inside,” Iesa said.

“Really?” I said looking at Beepu in surprise. “You can do that?”

“Of course I can. I am sure of this.” Beepu said.

“Ok, how do we run this?”

Daneath smiled a moment. “Iesa is going to sneak in and take care of the guards on the pillar over the prisoners. Beepu will turn both he and you invisible. Then he will collapse the cave, and I will charge like a madman to the gates, while you pick them off.”

I thought a moment. “So that way we keep the prisoners safe.”

“Exactly,” Daneath said proudly.

“There were two posts though by the prisoners. What if the other group sees or hears the group being taken on?”

“I’m sure I can handle that,” Iesa said smugly.

“What if I made sure they never heard you?” I offered.

“Go on,” Iesa said with curiosity.

“I can make one spot absolutely silent. That one group can’t yell for help. I just need a little time to cast it, before I get turned invisible.”

“You have that as a ritual? That is indeed useful. You will need to show me the formula later,” Beepu said with an almost greedy tone.

“Sure, when we get back to somewhere civilized. You sure you can collapse the cave?” I pressed.

“Yes, yes, yes. I am very certain.” Beepu waved his hand nonchalantly at the question, unconcerned.

“Fine, and Drik and Drok?”

The two goblins smiled wickedly, “We show hobgoblins they clumsy,” Drik said.

“Very clumsy,” Drok agreed.
We made our way through the tunnel towards the far side. It wasn’t long before we reached the end of it, and beyond I saw the night sky and the far wall of the canyon

Canyon was really overstating it; big crevice in the rock was more like it. Ahead a rope bridge with wooden planks let to a central pillar, and another one led beyond to another cliffside. On the cliff to the left a ledge lead to another bridge crossing to a lower pillar of rock, and that rock too had a bridge to a second pillar of rock. Both had four hobgoblins, looking down at a set of wooden cages. Following the far wall to the right, it passed by a cave, and another bridge leading back towards the rock on our side but stopping at another pillar. Yet another bridge led to another smaller cave, while a ladder led down to the floor of the canyon. Finally, at the far edge, was a palisade of wood, with a gate. There two hobgoblins stood guard, looking away.

I nodded to myself thinking that this could work, then I frowned. I turned to Drik and whispered: “Where are the Booyaghs?

“Other cave,” he whispered back, pointing at the wall on the right side.

“Did you see him Iesa?” I turned to the rogue with concern.

He shook his head, “No. didn’t have the time and I didn’t want to risk being found.”

“How many are there?” I turned back to Drik and Drok.

“One,” said Drik.

“Maybe,” said Drok.

“Great,” I muttered aloud. “Beepu, lets get our friends airborne to keep an on things, once the fighting starts.”

“A good idea. I do not want to be surprised by reinforcements.” He nodded.

Gos, after things start, take to the air and keep an eye out for the Booyagh.

--Sure I ca…a what?

A magic caster. Any kind.

--Uh…sure. How do I know it won’t target me?

Hopefully because you aren’t attacking it, and we’ll be more problematic.

--I guess I can count on you to be a bigger pest.

Thanks a lot.

--Any time.


I shake my head and look at the rest. “Ok, I’m starting. When I signal, I will be halfway through, so you should make your way there then. I can’t move it, or easily recast it though.”

“Got it,” Iesa said. “Kiss for good luck?”

I looked at him quizzically at the sudden boldness, “I…better to ask your brother for one,” I said trying to focus on the moment.

“I’m more of a hugger,” Daneath deadpanned.

“Hah, hah,” Iesa said in a wounded tone. But I wasn’t sure if it was really in jest.

I started to whisper quietly looking at the far platform on the left. I started to move my hands, pulling threads from the strand and weaving a pattern, anchoring it to the top of the pillar where four of the hobgoblins guarded the prisoners. Slowly I pulled on threads from light and dark strands. Slow enough that I would leave myself enough energy to pull sudden bursts if needed.

The others watched me in silence, waiting. Eventually I looked at Iesa and nodded. He quickly turned, and started across the wooden boards quietly, lightly stepping on the slats in an effort to make no noise.

I could feel the energy begin to bind, and the threads tying themselves into knots as they started to grip and catch each other. I watched as Iesa made his way quietly across the second bridge, reaching the cliffside path. Once he was there, I started to pull the threads tightly. They began to bind and knot and in my mind a sphere took shape.

It seemed to go on forever, but finally I could feel the magic beginning to take hold in the weave. Looking across the canyon, I saw that Iesa was ready, and with a final whisper I pulled on all the threads at one, breaking them from the weave itself, creating a field that, as long as I focused on it, would stay sustained.

The instant I stopped whispering, Beepu’s hands went into motion, and quickly I watched our bodies fade from view, like shadows did for me when darkness finally reached across the landscape.

“Done. Let us go,” I heard Beepu’s voice say, and we both tried to make our way across the rope bridge. The posts and the wood of the bridge didn’t seem new, with the boards showing their age with grey weathering. But the ropes themselves seemed newer, with little signs of fraying. The boards barely creaked as we made our way across to the pillar. Being the central one in the cluster, it would give us a great view of the entire canyon, and it would allow us to react as needed.

Daneath stayed behind in the cave, not wanting the sounds of his armor to attract attention until it was time. Drik and Drok however, crossed with us, their small bodies making little sounds as they crossed to the pillar. Once there, they started to scuttle down the rock sides to the ground below. I looked across towards where I saw Iesa making his way toward the first set of guards.

But his time was running out, as the guards noticed the change in the noises around them. They started to look around confused. I could see their mouths open and one looked like he was trying to bellow his loudest shout. The four stood there in confusion, when Iesa struck.

He was quick, Laying down two quickly to the ground. The two others didn’t even notice, oblivious to the threat that stalked them in the silence that surrounded them. By the time they did notice, they too were brought down by Iesa’s blades. I smiled to myself.

So far so good.

--Don’t get cocky

Oh please, as if…what the?


There is a belief in Sigil that things happen in sets, the most common is the “Rule of Threes.” Three things happen in the multiverse in close proximity to something important. And so, the Rule of Three struck today.

Three mistakes.

I watched in confusion as Iesa stopped on his platform and pulled out his bow and notched an arrow. I was about to send him a magical message, when I realized that Iesa would be unable to hear it. I wanted to tap Beepu to point it out, but I wasn’t sure where Beepu was on the pillar we shared. I then heard the not the twang of the bow, but just the whistling of the arrow sail past the second group of guards, striking the canyon wall beyond.

The first mistake.

The hobgoblins looked around in confusion at the noise, and quickly turned and saw Iesa. They then shouted and charged at him, quickly closing the gap. I watched Iesa react in surprise, switching his bow for his rapier.

“What in the hells is he doing?!” Daneath huffed as he ran past my hidden form, running across the bridge to the far wall. It was the same thought I had, and all I could do is whisper aloud; “I guess it’s your turn Beepu.”

“Quite right,” I heard his voice say, and then light footsteps move away. I then could feel a surge and watched him reappear on the far side of the bridge gesturing towards the cave. I could hear the noise of earth and stone churn, and I watched as dust plumes billowed from its mouth. Insides I heard yells, shouts and a couple of screams. I couldn’t see Beepu well, but I imagined him smiling, which almost put a smile on my face until I realized something.

The plan was for Beepu to cause a cave-in, blocking the cave. But other than the clouds of dust, there was no such blockage. Daneath had crossed the bridge and passed by Beepu running back towards me. From out of the cave came exactly what I predicted, a very dusty and very angry minotaur. He emerged and bellowed a hideous roar and charged straight into Daneath. Daneath, nearly was knocked over by the blow, and started to defend himself. But this wasn’t the plan! He was supposed to help Iesa, while the cave was blocked. But the cave was anything but, and more hobgoblins emerged from the rubble strewn floor.

“What happened?!?” I yelled at Beepu. “Why isn’t it blocked?”

“I could not alignt the spell to erupt from the ceiling and cause additional rock to fall. I was certain that was going to work!” he replied. He started to roll up his sleeves ready to do more work.

The second mistake.

Iesa was pinned down, with four very angry hobgoblins attacking him. Daneath was holding his own against the minotaur, who’s bulk prevented the other hobgoblins from getting closer. But I saw one, running along the cliff face path, and towards the other bridge.

I didn’t know what to do. With only a moment to decide I threw dark strands towards the same cave that Beepu had just damaged. And with a quick pull I snapped it, and from within I could hear the shattering of bone and screams from within. I could even see the minotaur spit blood, and the hobgoblin behind him fall to his knees and then face down, no longer moving. I smiled and felt the rush of excitement as I felt their lives fade away.

My eye then was drawn to who I thought was the lone coward. I expected him to run across the bridge, descend the ladder, and head towards the gate. Instead he ran across the second bridge shouting something in goblin. He didn’t slow at all and charged into the other cave.

“We’d better help Daneath,” I yelled, now fully visible. I ran across the bridge, pulling on dark strands and summoning a miasma onto the minotaur and a hobgoblin behind him. Beepu ran close behind me and leveled a bolt of fire at one of Iesa’s opponents, knocking him down. Iesa was hard pressed, and I watched with horror as I saw a hobgoblin make a savage cut across Iesa’ midsection, and blood spray everywhere. Two more remained on him, and he looked to be in bad shape.

--You have a problem!

What do you--


“--How DARE you!” I heard, and I turned to see a hobgoblin in leathers standing at the entrance of the other cave. He made a quick slashing movement with his hand and I watched a bright pea sized red light leave his hand and streaked straight towards, Daneath, Beepu and I. My eyes widened in horror as the pea, blossomed into a flower of fire and heat in front of me.

The third mistake.

My mistake.

The flames engulfed us. I have had burns before. Several times I had felt the pain of hot metal searing my skin until it smoked and charred. But only a part of me. Now my entire body screamed in pain as the fireball seared my flesh. The smell of burnt hair, leather and skin filled the air as the flames faded away. I felt nauseous and it took everything I had, not to sink to my knees. I was shaking my head, trying to clear it and focus, when I felt another sharp pain in my thigh.

I screamed and looking down I saw the cause. A quarrel was now lodged in my leg, and blood was streaming down my leather breeches. I turned to find the source, and I watched as Iesa was retreating along the cliff face, to join his brother. In the meantime, the hobgoblins had drawn crossbows and now were firing them at us, and I was the lucky recipient of the first volley.

“This is bad,” Beepu shouted, throwing another bolt of fire towards the pair with the crossbows. The blast sailed between them and struck the rock wall some distance behind them.

“Start with hitting them,’ I grimaced in pain and I threw a pair of bolts towards them, striking each, but weakly. They didn’t fall, and I was unsure if they were even seriously hurt. I saw that Iesa had placed himself on the bridge and was able to stab the minotaur who still was trying to cleave through Daneath’s shield with a greataxe. I noticed that he too was singed, and its course hide was smoking from the fiery blast. Daneath was still swinging, but his blows against his foe seemed ineffective. But worse I saw more hobgoblins running from the gate and start to climb up the ladder. It was only a matter of time before we would be overrun.

And then to make this worse, I watched the Booyagh take to the air and fly. He simply laughed at us, and our plight. He started to make preparations to cast another spell at us.

I looked above at the stars and prayed. This wasn’t going well at all. It sounded like a good plan. A great plan. A plan that was falling apart all because of errors. Daneath would be soon overrun, all four of us were badly hurt, and I had no idea what spell the Booyagh was about to unleash upon us.

Please Kelemvor. Not now. Not yet. We need—

“CLUMSY!” was the word I heard, from the top of a goblin’s lungs. Looking across at the other pillar, I saw Drik and Drok push the ladder that led up to it, backwards. There were four hobgoblins on it who screamed, as the ladder fell backwards back onto the canyon floor.

I smiled; and there it was; The Fourth Rule. The exception. Three mistakes, and one perfectly timed event.

“Well, who knew. That is a help.” Beepu said and he started another spell and from behind the minotaur a familiar fog bank appeared, covering the hobgoblins and minotaur, but keeping Daneath and Iesa’s vision clear. Iesa had moved onto the bridge, and now was firing arrows at the hobgoblins firing crossbows at us, bringing one down.

I quickly pulled on some strands and the rock in front of Daneath twisted and churned, into an uneven surface. Daneath moved swung at the Minotaur, and backed up onto the bridge. The minotaur was moving slowly, trying to find its footing, swinging at Daneath wildly, its axe throwing it offbalance.

That was all Daneath needed, and he quickly riposted, thrusting his sword deep into the gut of the Minotaur. It bellowed in pain, dropping its axe and clutched its midsection, and finally stumbling and falling off the path to the canyon floor below.

“Let me confuse them a bit,” Beepu said, and I watched right behind the churned earth, now stood a pile of rubble and stone. I was confused how Beepu did it at first, when I realized it wasn’t real; it had to be an illusion. But with the fog blocking the sight of the hobgoblins on the cliff path…how would they know?

Iesa’s bow twanged again, and the last of the crossbow men fell on the other pillar. Meanwhile the Booyagh in the air tried to hit our dirty pair, Drik and Drok with a bolt of fire but it somehow missed. They fired their crossbows at the flying hobgoblin, only scratching him. But then they ran across the bridge, and into the fog. The hobgoblin shouted in anger, unable to target the pair. He then flew over us and towards the pillars that overlooked the prisoners.

“Beepu, can you get him?” I yelled pointing at the flying figure.

“I can, why can you not bring him down?” Beepu replied flustered.

“So, I can kill the others on the path! Drop the fog.”

“Drop the…Oh I see. Fine!” and he waved his hand and the fog started to disappear from sight. Soon I could see the hobgoblins that remained from the cave and several more that had climbed the ladder before Drik and Drok dropped it. They stood dumfounded at the “new” rock wall that was in front of them and were unsure on how to proceed. I quickly pulled and snapped the strand and another ear shattering explosion rocked the path, and all but one hobgoblin fell over. The exhilaration returned and grew as I watched Drik and Drok race across shouting “CLUMSY” and quickly bringing down the remaining hobgoblin on the path.

“Take that!” Beepu threw a bolt of fire and it hit the Booyagh square in the chest.

“Your feeble magic means nothing to me!” the hobgoblin retorted, and he returned a blast in kind, narrowly missing Beepu, who quickly scrambled behind a post holding up a bridge.

“How about this then?” and I turned to see Iesa had drawn the dagger that the Kershak had wanted so badly. Its blade now dripped with some foul concoction, and I watched Iesa hurl it straight at the surprised hobgoblin. The blade spun in the air, and struck the flying Booyagh in the right breast, causing him to spit blood.

The Booyagh sneered and pulled the dagger out with a look of contempt at Iesa. Then suddenly his face contorted in pain, causing him to drop the dagger, which skittered across the rocks. And then he fell from the air, his spell no longer sustaining him. He landed face first onto the pillar with a sickening crunch of bone on rock.

We heard commotions by the gate, but our focus was now on the figure who lay on the rock. Somehow, he managed to stagger to his feet, and looked at us in fury.

“The Prophesized One will win!” and with a quick gesture with his hands, the hobgoblin disappeared from sight.

“What the? Where is he?” Daneath shouted.

“He’s invisible! Beepu...do something!” Iesa yelled.

“I have to see him to do something you dolt,” Beepu retorted angrily.

“Wait, can’t you cast something at an area?” I looked at Beepu with an idea in my mind.

“Of course. Where do you propose?”

I held up my hand.

Gos? Can you see him?

--Who? The Hobgoblin running on the path? Of course. Why can’t y—

No! is he heading to a bridge?

--Yes, he’s about to cross the one nearest the gate, and looks to be heading to his cave.

Fly over him and tell me when he gets there.


I grabbed the gnome by the shoulders and pulled him to the far side of the pillar. “Beepu, cast whatever you have at that bridge, when Gossamer is right above it. Don’t argue.”

“Alright. Fine,” he said with a confused tone, and he readied a spell and glanced between the bridge and me.

--He’s there!

“Now!”

Beepu simply threw some sand in the air. Suddenly the figure of the hobgoblin appeared and fell down unconscious on the bridge. Then his momentum carried him, and he rolled off the edge on to the canyon floor below.

However, Gossamer also quickly fell from the air plopping on the bridge as well. Seeing this, I reached down and pulled the crossbow quarrel from my leg with a yelp. I then ran across the bridges to reach my familiar.

But Drik and Drok were faster and reached the fallen tressym before I could limp there. They gently picked him up, and with great care, trotted over and gingerly handed his body to me.

I pressed my hand to his chest and could feel the warmth and the beat of his heart. Any emotion or passion I felt about the death of the hobgoblins was gone now, replaced by the feeling of immense relief knowing that my familiar still lived. I stood there, cuddling the sleeping cat in my arms, still bleeding from the puncture wound left by the crossbow as the others approached me.

“How did you—” Daneath started, very confused.

“Ah. It’s a tressym ability. They can see invisible things.” Beepu said matter of factly.

“Really? Anything hidden?” Iesa asked surprised.

“No. Invisible. Not hidden. So, if you hid in a bush, he might not see you.” Beepu responded.

“Probably would smell him,” Drik said wisely.

“Very likely,” Drok agreed.

“What the…oh come on!” Iesa said exasperated.

I just stood there, smiling, eyes closed, silently holding Gossamer tight, not wanting to wake him from Beepu’s enforced slumber. The tears in my eyes filled with the same warmth that I had in my heart. And at that moment, nothing else mattered in the world.

Not the pain in my leg.

Not the Prophesied One.

Not even Sigil.



Session notes:

So the mistakes were real; Iesa thought the silence was bigger and followed him. I did really choose the bad target, but Beepu’s is more interesting.

What you read here, is basically me in character the equivalent of ‘did you ask the DM about that?’

He didn’t so when he did try to collapse the cave, it led to I think an hour derailment, as we discussed the rules here and the basic concept that in 5e, spells only do what they are described to do. Erupting Earth wasn’t going to cause a cave in. The DM listen to the plan, and even noted my characters question “are you sure you can do that” and was surprised that the player didn’t ask.

For my part I assumed that the player had already talked to the DM based on the answer, so I was partially surprised at the events that occurred.

And it did lead to a memorable battle as you can see.
 


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