Journal of the Souls of Legend

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Strange dreams, stranger gifts – 08/28/2019

Things never seem to last. Ragpicker’s Square is full of the refuse and broken things of Sigil. The poor pick through it, looking for anything that could be of value, no matter how low.

It’s a testament to how nothing stands up to the ravages of time. How things change from useful to junk.

But sometimes you can find value in the garbage. And sometimes it finds you.

We made for a nearby hill that looked promising for the night. We didn’t say anything as we made our way there. Even as we setup camp, we didn’t talk. Each of us had an experience and each of us were trying to sort it out. So, it wasn’t until a fire was going, and we started to munch on the stale rations did we say anything. And of course, it was on the least of things.

“Myrai, can you give me a light?” Beepu said, staring at various papers squinting.

I was staring absently at the fire, while I flexed and lit up a nearby pebble for him and muttered, “Sure thing.”

“So, Beepu what does it say?” Iesa asked looking up from where he was feeding Mo a piece of bread.

“It is not a book, it is a schematic, so it does not say anything.” Beepu shot him a glare. “And unfortunately, it will take me time to decode it. My father’s notations are hard to decipher.”

I turned and looked at him, “Why? I thought you had been doing that for a while?”

“Well yes. But these notes are very different. They are including references I have not seen before. I may need to visit a family friend in Waterdeep to make headway. He studied with my father and may be able to help.”

“Waterdeep eh?” Daneath said frowning. “Nothing but rain there. Besides I need to head south.”

“You too?” Iesa said. “Same vision?”

“I suppose so. But Umbra went south based on what the…um Elk showed me.”

“Yeah. Same vision.” Iesa said. “I think it was somewhere south of Daggerford. Secomber perhaps.”
Daneath nodded. “And there’s where we start.”

“Hey what are you going to do Myrai?” Iesa asked looking towards me. “What did the Elk show you?”
I thought a moment before replying. “It showed me…It,” I started searching for the right words. “It didn’t show me anything clear like that. So, I’m a little…I don’t know.” Saying finally.

“No path home?” Daneath asked looking at me intently.

I didn’t answer and just stared into the flames, as if the answer was dancing there all this time. All I could do was slowly shake my head.

“Well, you are welcome to come with me to Waterdeep,” Beepu said cheerily.

“Or with us,” Iesa said with Daneath nodding, and Mo jumping up and down.

I gave a small smile, “Thanks. I…I’m going to think on it tonight, if you don’t mind.” And I stood up and stretched. “Perhaps a small walk will settle me before I turn in.”

“Well, stay in Foggle’s sight. We don’t want more ankhegs or gnolls.”

“I will,” and I moved away from the trio at the fire to think and walk. I was very tired, and after helping cleanse the Elk’s statue I still didn’t feel great. But I was wound up, and needed to do something to clear my head and answer a simple question.

What did I want?

A barmy question at first glance. Thirteen days ago, it would have been easy; ‘Go Home.’ And that would have been that. Since then a lot had happened.

I gained some semblance of power.

I died.

I was forced back.

I had more jink in my pocket than I ever had before.

I had…friends.

That last one stuck with me. I originally thought as them as adams; partners of convenience. But we had fought and bled together. No, they brought you back to life. That wasn’t something a partner did; you meant more to them. Far more. Sure, they made a horrific bargain, but so had I in the past. Many in Sigil wouldn’t have bothered.

Sure, Sigil was home, but what was really left there? A filthy kip, which by now was probably picked over for anything left behind. Who was left there? A pack of fiends, spivs, and knights of the post around every corner and a couple of bartenders who valued you for your occasional jink and little else. Beyond a standing tea time with one being there on occasion, there wasn’t anyone close. And he…was a dangerous friend.
Even so I missed it. The familiarity. The sounds. The smell of the food…no just food in general. I hadn’t thought about za in a long time, but I certainly craved it. But all of this longing and nostalgia really distracted me though from the obvious.

I was enjoying myself. As much as I wanted to mock the clueless, it was still new. The Hate Night’s party and dance with the nobility. The elegance of the Elk tribe’s forgotten tombs. The simplicity of the people’s lives here. Even the food. Except the eggs…I may never get use to them. But it was a Sensates’ dream. Experiencing everything first hand. Not the jaded tales overheard in the Bottle and Jug. Everything.

Including having your throat ripped out I suppose.

Sigil could certainly live without me for a while. And I perhaps needed her less for now. I was growing in power here, getting stronger.

So perhaps I knew what I wanted, just not the direction to get there. I turned and walked back to my tent at the edge of the fire. I waved at Beepu and refreshed his light. Once inside I removed my weapons and my chain and laid down. Perhaps a night’s rest would give me clarity. I lay there, looking upwards hoping that the dreams would be gone for just an evening…

…But such was not to be.

The nightmare began again. But it’s different. Instead of being the actor, I was watching myself. Everything felt like I was in a indistinct fog and I felt detached from what I watched.

And the dream was different. I was no longer a girl, I was older. The sequence is the same; Elisna dies and rises again. But there the resemblance ended.

I saw myself run into a familiar tenement with tears in my eyes. The faded banners of Kelemvor on the walls. But the room has a sinister edge to it, as I spot three altars, of darkness along the wall, where no altars stood before. But only one was clearly visible in reddish light, where I could see the carvings of three triangles upon it.

I then saw myself turn around and see him. I never knew his name, and he was a guest of the Bleakers for as long as I knew. I fed him and other like him in the Gatehouse, in the Barmy wing. And he always remembered me. He cursed at me, as I saw one eye stare out from the hole in the door. A wolfish blue eye, bloodshot and quivering as it stared at me, shouting obscenities.

And now this disheveled man, in a torn grey tunic leered at me; his hair, long dirty and unkempt. I didn’t recognize that man. But I did that eye. I saw myself back up in fear, putting a hand up to shield myself from him. Then my world fell apart, as the floor buckled from rot, causing me to plummet into darkness below.
I watched myself, twisting and turning as I bounced through mud and water tumbling deeper under the Hive. I saw myself pass layers of trash and detritus. Until I finally stopped, landing on damp stone.
I saw myself lying there a moment, before stirring and struggling to stand. Turning and twisting in the dark, trying to understand where I had fallen.

The Weeping Stone Catacombs. A place buried deep within Hive. A place said to be prison for cursed spirits for crimes committed long ago. Here the water flows from above and pour over the bas relief of faces carved in the wall, making them slick with tears. Cut off from the light and air from above, it lives up to its name as a black tomb in the Hive.

But I was more concerned with finding a way out, as I watched myself looking around. Now, I always could see in the dark. But here the passages led in all sorts of directions. But it was all the same; the same echo of dripping water, the same smell of musty earth, the same passages going beyond my sight. I watched myself turn about in panic, until I saw something just at the edge of my vision. And then I moved towards the figure, and as it retreated, I followed it.

But this didn’t make sense. Was that real? Is this a tale my sleeping self is telling me? I don’t remember falling. I don’t remember the Weeping Stone. I don’t remember this at all. But it feels right. It feels as real as the nightmare before.

Why don’t I remember this?

I watched myself with curiosity as I clambered in the darkness, towards something or someone. Being able to see in the dark was a gift. I could have flooded the passage way with light, but that seemed wrong. Almost disrespectful for those slumbered here.

I follow the figure; passing alcoves and openings. Now I am aware I was not alone here. Each one paws at me frantically. And each shiver and turn away afraid. Each shiver and I feel the echo of the Strand resonate in my dream. I am being led downwards and finally I enter a room deep underground.

It looked to be a tomb to someone important, forgotten long ago. An ancient place. Like the rest of the Weeping Stone Catacombs, it was a time when the dead were still buried in Sigil, long before the coming of the Dustmen. And it was indeed old. The water and time had worn away the details of carvings or even color. Who was interred here was a forgotten detail, just like the catacombs themselves.

Another tunnel exits from here, and in the distance, I see the figure. It was crouching in the darkness, and it carried something in its arms. I watched myself following it trying to see who it was, and what it held. I get closer and I finally see what I am following; a mustie. But it moves with purpose. And it knows the path well, no hesitation or uncertainty. I had heard tales from Dustman that even the least of the undead could find awareness given time. But I thought then it was barkle but watching this one made me think there was some truth to it.

It started to climb and was out of sight for a moment. Once I reached the bottom, I could see it climbing. It was ascending a great pile of dross, trash and broken items. I watch myself struggle to find solid grips and footing as I pulled myself up out of the pit below. I could see the mustie above, climbing slowly but with far more certain footing, as if this path was well known to it.

I watch as I squeeze myself between beams, and cracks in stone, and through mud. Finally, I saw myself break free and breach the surface, near a large pile of debris. I think I am somewhere in Ragpicker’s square, deep in the Hive. I can now see the mustie clearly; it looks desiccated and old; few wisps of hair remain on its once human head, and its eyes are empty sockets. Yet it sees just fine as it threads its way between towering piles of wreckage.

Finally, the mustie has come to a stop in a cul-de-sac of trash and refuse and sets its bundle down on a fractured table of stone. I watch it unwrap it, and I watch it place a silver cylinder upon the surface.
The mustie turns to looks directly at me, and shivers and points at the table. I see on the table a glyph or rune, with the cylinder in the middle of it. I am still watching myself stare at it, and as I watch, the glyph glows in a warm yellow light. Then I heard a noise of steel on stone and I watch my dirty and disheveled self, turn around.

There behind me, staring with that wolfish eye was that same barmy that started this. He drags the edge of a rusty cleaver against a broken bit of stone. The sound of its scratching echoes lightly around the mounds of debris. The man’s smile and eyes were widening in excitement as he continued to move slowly forward.
I reached towards my side looking for a dagger and I panic as I realize that it was missing. I watch in horror as this slow drama unfolds before my eyes. I see myself back up slowly, a hand and arm behind myself trying to feel my way. I move that way, until my back comes in contact with the altar, and in turn my hand brushes the silver object.

Then I watch several things happen at once. First, I see the madman and his cleaver charging at me. The, my hand touched the cylinder and a bright white light flashed from the glyph. And finally, I see the purple bolt of energy erupt from my right hand and striking the madman in the chest.

I watch as my face changed from one of fear and surprise to strength and confidence. I threw another bolt and then another, forcing the madman back. As I throw more magic at him, my gaze is captivated by the glyph on the table. Something simple and elegant.

The mustie suddenly moved not towards myself fighting the barmy, but to me watching in the dream. It reached out and gripped me, and It painfully forced me to look at its empty eyes. Then it leaned in close to me and it whispered in Celestial:

Ehōike mai ka ʻikunae. Ehawi iau i kai Welo. Ehewi iau i Kamana.

I then awoke with a start, breathing heavily. I sat up and for the first time I could remember the dream. Why I felt fear. Why I felt that something was just out of reach. But what happened? Was that real or just dream stuff.

I sat there and thought and tried to remember when I could first cast magic. I remembered it was after the Faction War ended, but now it seemed that the event I dreamed was what happened. Why could I not remember that before?

I crawled out of my tent, not even bothering to put on my boots, my bare feet on the grass and earth. Iesa and Daneath were up, and talking quietly by the fire, and Foggle was on a stone nearby keeping an eye out for things. The dream now clung to memory, not allowing me to forget it. It was clear; as if it just happened a moment ago.

What did it mean?

Why now?

As I stood there in the cool night air, I looked up at the moon they called Selune. It was full, and its cold white light shone from it, and I could make out shapes and patterns on its surface.
I looked around a moment, and then I returned to my tent, and grabbed the greensteel stiletto from my discarded boot. I drew it and tossed the sheath back onto my bedroll. I then scanned the earth, looking for a flat open area. I found one easily enough and I then began to draw with the sharpened point of the stiletto, using it as a brush in the canvas of the earth.

I recreated the glyph; its form still burned into my mind’s eye. I didn’t think I could forget it if I tried. I felt compelled to draw it out. I did the whorls and arcs, and then made corrections until its form matched my memory. I then outlined it with a single circle on the outside perimeter. Once completed, I thrust the stiletto in the center of the glyph I carved from the dirt. I then flexed and put my light onto the pommel, lighting the earth and the carving I had made.

“Hey, what is Myrai doing?” Iesa asked.

“I’m not sure. She’ll call if she needs something,” Daneath replied.

I sat down outside the circle and crossed my legs. I placed my hands on my knees, my palms facing upwards.

“E kohana ma ko’o makunanae,” I whispered aloud and then reached within myself to find the Strand. It hung there wavering, and I took equal measures of darkness and light and mentally wove them together into a braided strand of grey. I then imagined placing the Strand into the circle and surrounding the Glyph on the ground. From there I pictured that the threads of light and dark snaked from the binding circle and reached in and wrapped themselves on the Stiletto in the middle.

Centering myself, and closing my eyes I began to chant aloud softly in Celestial:

Ehōike iau i Kaʻikunae. / Show me Knowledge.

Ehawi iau i Welo. / Give me Vision.

Ehewi iau i Ka’mana. / Grant me Power.

I could feel a twinge of the fabric around me, and a stirring in the weave of magic. Keeping my centering, I repeated the chant calling out to something far beyond.

For Knowledge, For Vision, for Power.

I could feel the energy build and flow through me. It felt like a wind that flashed between hot and cold, twisting around the Glyph and through me. It grew stronger and stronger, and I felt it pulling on my hair. Still focusing I opened my eyes and saw that the ritual I was calling had manifested as a wind around me. The blade no longer was anchored to the ground, now spun on its point like a needle shaped top in the air.
The brothers were now standing staring at the confluence of energy that I had summoned, mouthing something I couldn’t hear. But they didn’t move as they watch the ritual unfold.

I could feel it reaching its crescendo. I tasted the energy in the air. I felt something close on the horizon in my mind, slowly being pulled closer. I stood up, still chanting, my hair now swirling around in the wind. I stepped carefully into the circle, avoiding touching the lines with my bare feet. I then reached out with my right hand into the center of the glyph, above the now wobbling spinning Stiletto, and chanted the words one last time.

Ehōike iau i Kaʻikunae. / Show me Knowledge.

Ehawi iau i Welo. / Give me Vision.

Ehewi iau i Ka’mana. / Grant me Power.

And as the last syllable crossed my lips there was a flash of light and in my hand, I felt a warm metal object. The wind started to die down and the weave that was once twisting around me returned to normal. The stiletto dropped and stuck into the earth below it.

I stared at the object I held. It was a cylinder covered in markings that resembled a form of Celestial writing. Along the sides at regular intervals were tabs that stuck out. I switched it between my hands, and pulled on a tab. A sheet of metal was extruded, as thin as strip of parchment. On it, was writing in a form of celestial, although the lettering wasn’t familiar. But as I handled it, I could feel that it wasn’t just a strange document. It contained power.

“What just…what is that?” Iesa said looking at me standing on the bare earth, my hair a scattered mess.
I curled my arm to regard the cylinder a moment and looked at Iesa.

“A gift.” I said simply.

“A gift? From who?” Daneath said looking around his arms outstretched.

“My…I don’t know.” I said, not wanting to guess aloud. But to myself I thought something else.

Thanks father, wherever you are.


My watch had come, and I realized I had a task in front of me. The writing was Celestial, but it was archaic. It would take some time to read it and understand it. But its appearance solidified something in my mind. I knew where I needed to go next.

The others had awoken and soon we were almost done packing up. I could hear the “What? She did What?” from Beepu, as Iesa told him the story from last night.

“And you did not wake me?!? Do you not think that might have been considered important?” Beepu said angrily as we all started the march to Portstown.

“Well, if it was important, shouldn’t have Foggle woke you?” Iesa said pointing at the brass owl.

“He would indeed…oh. Wait. Foggle! We need to talk.” Beepu said wagging his finger at the owl overhead.

“It was a bit of wind is all anyway. And a thing right Myr?” Iesa said.

“Yes, a thing," I said giving him an exasperated side glance. "And it means I know where I am headed next.”

“Where? Candlekeep?” Daneath asked.

“Based on what Beepu told me, I don’t have a way to pay the entrance fee. No, I need to go to Waterdeep and look in some of the libraries there.”

“What? Oh excellent. I will introduce you to some very important scholars there.” Beepu said surprise and then with enthusiasm.

“You sure?” Daneath asked, sounding a bit disappointed.

I nodded. “Honestly I think I would prefer going south than crawling through books. But dusty tomes it appears to be.”

“Well the barges will take us down all the way to Waterdeep. And from there Daneath and I can make our way to Secomber,” Iesa said.

“We can send a message up to you two when we have found something,” Daneath said.

“That will allow me to research what I need for the device as well,” Beepu said happily.

“I guess that means we have a plan, cutters,” I said smiling.

“Cutters?” Iesa asked.

“A term used for skilled friends that are trusted,”

“I kinda like that. Cutters.” Daneath said.

“Not as good as ‘Big-D’ though,” Iesa said slapping the big man on the back.

“Oh, not that again,” Daneath admonished.

“Come on, that’s a legendary name!” Iesa said.

And so. the argument continued for miles, with me smiling at the miracle of finding friends so far from home.

End of Part I​

Session notes:
There were two things that happened here, which is really part of last session. The first, leveling up. The second was a discussion on how we wanted to spend our downtime. where we were spending some down time.

That discussion is boring to read though.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
I, Gossamer - 09/04/2019

I wasn’t born yesterday. But I suppose it’s close enough to count.

I could feel the warmth and glow of the sun this morning, as it streamed through the windows of the inn. I lazily opened my eyes, enjoying the touch of the sun caressing me. I yawned and started to stretch my limbs and my back, arcing it. Today would be a wonderful day; for the first time in weeks the sun was out. Waterdeep’s omnipresent gloom of rain and fog from the sea was broken. I sat up in my bed satisfied and looked over across the room. What I saw, started my tail to thrash.

There in the feather bed, sprawled on her stomach was Myrai, still asleep. Her golden hair was a tangled knot, and the sun’s rays danced across her bare back as she softly breathed. As I stared at her, she would occasionally give out a quiet contented little snore. The glory of the mornings’ light was lost upon her, blissfully dreaming something pleasant elsewhere.

I thought a moment. Perhaps she was exhausted from last nights outing and she just needed a later start, and I took the moment to groom. It wasn’t incredibly urgent that we get up now I supposed, but I didn’t want to miss the prospect of seeing everything in the light. But as I washed my face, I realized that this might have been the first decent night’s sleep, she has had in weeks. I mean, I don’t think I was going to ever get used to her sitting up suddenly, bolt upright with terror in her eyes.

But now, she was resting peacefully. Oblivious to the wonderful prospect the sun gave us. But Myrai didn’t seem to mind the rain here in Waterdeep. She told me that the rain here was cleaner than the yellowish drizzle from the lower wards of Sigil. There, everyone wore leathers to keep the rain from staining your skin an ugly shade of yellow with a nasty brimstone smell as a bonus. That is, if you could afford it. Better to have yellowish leather instead of skin. Or fur and feathers I supposed.

She explained that it was a prominent feature of the lower wards because of all the portals to Baatezu, the Abyss and other lower planes, spouted brimstone clouds into the air. And truth be told, even in the Lady’s ward the rain wasn’t clean there either; but they had more magic to clean it up.

But that would be there. We’re here in Waterdeep, the rains from the sea had the scent of salt, not brimstone. But with the sun out to play across the sky, the city awoke and started the process of drying itself out after weeks of rain off and on. A welcome change for certain.

And yet, Myrai was completely unaware of it. And that made it totally unacceptable. For some reason, my clear glare of contempt isn’t going to wake her up. I mean she should feel the glare. So, I try the next obvious thing; shouting in her mind.

Myrai!

-No.

Myrai

-No. Get out of my thoughts.

Come on. Myrai!

-No! I want to sleep some more…


Clearly, I needed to take more drastic action. So, I flit down from the bookcase where I was perching and landed on Myrai’s back. If it were nap time I would be napping. But I wanted to finally see the city and not be cooped up with her and her silver book thing. The sun is out now, and that could change at any time. Now was a great time to stretch my wings. Myrai would not be allowed to sleep when there were things to do.

Myrai opened her eyes slightly. It took some practice, but I can now tell if Myrai was looking at me, or not. I noticed a lot of others just get lost in the mazes of mirrors. Most wouldn’t even notice if she wasn’t paying attention to them, was bored with them, or was interested and focused. Those silver mirrors could tell you a lot once you knew how to read them. Granted, it was sometimes easier just to ask her. But for all of the two weeks that I knew her, she spent an inordinate time trying to find a corner of an inn or bar and just hide.
Because, as forceful as a personality that she has, she usually wanted to be left alone. She was not a great social person. She does well enough with people she knows, which are few in number here. But, here in Waterdeep she is almost constantly accosted by strangers. And most of them fall into two groups of people.

The first were the “Suitors.” They wanted her for various reasons, to get to know her and spend time. Many times, this involved plying her with …um…think she calls the stuff “bub.” She’s cautious about drinks she didn’t as for. But even then, the tactics of these people were too similar and just didn’t work. They were all flash, thinking she would be an easy mark to their charms. The older males (and two females as I recall) were interested in her as some sort of trophy or collectible. She was used to it she said, but it was more intense here; Aasimars are rarer here, and most aren’t as …distinctive as she was. Or so she said. Never did see another one that looked like her. In fact, I didn’t recall her identifying another one at all. By comparison there were more tieflings about. But, being a distinctive Aasimar led to a very different group of people trying to see her: The “Desperate.”

This group heard only that “an Angel is in town” and came to her seeking blessings. This was a new experience to her as apparently, as this didn’t happen in Sigil at all. So, the first time I saw an example of it, it shocked her. It was simple; a poor woman asking an ‘Angel for a blessing for her child.’ That was simple enough, but then others came. Many with unlucky stories. And it never stopped.

So, every night it she toured the city by going to a different festhall or inn each night. While she enjoyed the exploration, I realized it was mostly just to make her harder to find. But someone would, and to her credit she was more patient with them than I would have been. She never shouted, or turned them away, but she would leave the place at the first opportunity.

But no matter where she was there was one who could always find her; the toy. The toy always was looking for her. The toy was fun. It was fast and quiet when it wanted to be. But the golden tone tended to reflect light if you knew to look for it.

And I was told to keep an eye out for it. I enjoyed this, as it became a game. The toy would swoop in and chirp that weird “bee-poop” noise, and I would swoop down from a rafter and pin it to the table. It got smarter about it too, so the challenge was there. Never really hurt it.

But boy its pet howled a lot about it. Wherever the toy was, the funny short pet would be following, objecting on some principle. “Scuffing it,” “I might break it,” “I don’t treat your things that way,” “I should have never taught you that spell.” Repeatedly.

Always with the complaints. But despite the rhetoric, he was the only person she generally wanted to see. They both spent time on researching various things, and traded notes. Or at least, she let the pet go on about his research and gave him some practicum of planar detail that weren't covered in the books. She had borrowed some books and spent time researching some sort of Arcanum and older dialects of Celestial.
At night, she would pour over the silver scroll thingy. The pet didn’t understand that object at all. Not to say he didn’t try, he just didn’t get very far. I wondered if it was his lack of background in Celestial. She did try to teach him one of the quatrains that apparently covered some type of ritual, and he barely understood it. Not his fault, Myrai had to learn a smattering of gnomish to understand his spellbook, and it was a serious amount of effort to translate his notations to hers. I stole a glance at both systems, her’s would be described as “elegant with style.” His actually was very precise and detailed. But neither really could understand the other without helping each other.

So, in general she appreciated the dialog but he did occasionally grate on her nerves. In fact, last night was the only time I remember her complaining about him. It started when he told some type of off-color joke in which the punch line involved a two-hour genealogy lesson about his family. That appeared to hit her tolerance level last night and so she hit the bed early.

But that was last night, and we live for the now, and now Myrai needs to get up. Now. But instead, as I stood on her back, Myrai barely turned her head and gave me a look that roughly said, “Are you sodding kidding?”

I was unconcerned. I simply reached out with my forepaw and I slowly extended my middle claw, and only it. And very gently placed the tip of my claw on Myrai’s lower lip.

Myrai was fully awake now, as the claw tip was just sharp enough to get attention without drawing blood. She attempted to swat and throw me off the bed, but I just flew back to the shelf just out of reach. Propping herself up, Myrai regarded me with bemusement. She stretched and rose from her bed and made her way to the window.

We were on the 2nd floor of the “Dancing Cyclops Inn,” somewhere in the Trades ward. I overheard during an evening that it was founded by a bunch of adventurers some time ago. Myrai stated it was comparatively cheap and had a room to let. But I suspected it was a bit more than just that.

One reason was the staff. Considering that her choices and offers for tours of taps, she tried to keep her evenings here…or at least try to end them here. Only when the Desperate started showing up, did she change venues and the kitchen staff seemed well disposed enough to help her sneak out and the Innkeep never really confirming that she was there, ever was there or if she was coming back.

But there was something else lurking in her heart as well. Because if she could she would park herself here in comparison to any other place. It didn’t matter where, on a stool or a chair or on a bench. And it didn’t matter what was going on. Bards, drinking contests, contests, drunken song or all at the same time. And sometimes she just hung out in a corner and read her scroll thingy. After asking and getting evasive answers, I came to the conclusion it was a combination of being lonely and that this inn reminded her of something she’s lost. The pet that came to visit was a friend, but more in a sort of professional way. She was looking for something else, but she never would say what. I'm not sure she even knows.

But as she looked outside this morning, and saw the weather taking a gorgeous turn for the better she smirked.

“Typical, the day we are going to leave is finally the day that there is good weather,” and she moved to start putting on her small clothes and leathers

What? Leave? Did I miss something from dinner last night?

“Yes, you did,” and she turned her head with that smile and looked at me. “Now if you wouldn’t exhaust yourself playing with Foggle, you would remember that. Beepu got a note from the brothers finally, so we’re off to Secomber after a quick stop in Daggerford. I hope they are alright, and if they learned something useful.”

Ah…the brothers. She had been talking about one of them constantly here. Big “D” she called him. Some of the patrons of the bars had heard about him, with most saying that he was a great pit fighter. Oddly enough, there was a group of halflings that laughed at and said he was a washup with ‘tender apples’, whatever that meant. But that was only one group, and no one believed the one halfling that claimed to have beat him twice.

She had mentioned the other brother a couple of times but never by name publicly, referring to him either as a “Knight” or rarely his name “Iesa.” She smiled when she mentioned his name and saying that she was sure that someone named “Mo” would keep an eye out for him. I did catch that she had recovered him from near death several times, so she was worried about him. Said that he reminded her someone else years ago.
She sounded like she cared about both of them. It made me wonder why she chose to come here, instead of Secomber.

Sounds like you are worried about them.

“I am.” She said after a moment. “I have pulled them both back from the brink more than once,” and now she was starting to put on weapon belts and check that everything hung where she wanted them.

But if you were so worried, why did you come here instead of following them.

“Well, two reasons. The first to understand…this,” she held up the silver cylinder that was resting on the table. “I was given a vision to…to summon it, I guess. I learned enough that I could copy some of Beepu’s spells into it, using a mild acid to etch them on the blank sheets of metal. But there is a lot more in it I can’t read. So, I was hoping to find a primer on old celestial or some other guide,” and she slipped the silvery cylinder into a leather scroll case on her belt.

But that didn’t work.

“No, it didn’t. Celestial is a very old tongue, perhaps the oldest known, and it hasn’t really changed much. And this style of lettering is..strange. Blurry or overwritten in many places. I never considered myself…educated. But I thought I could understand this at least.”

So, what was the other reason.

She smiled and looked at me, and reached out to stroke my fur, and the feathers on my wings. “To create you, Gossamer.”

You didn’t really create me; I was there when you called.

“I guess you are right there. A celestial spirit that needed a form, and when I called, you answered.”

But why a flying cat?

“Tressym, not ‘flying cat.’ I remember a pet keeper in the trade district in Sigil having one very briefly. And I’ve wanted one ever since.“

She then scratched my ears, and said, “Come on, Beepu will be waiting at his friend’s house, and we have a bit of travelling to do. And besides, you’ll have fun keeping an eye on Mo.”

Can we at least look around the town a bit in the sun? It’s been ten days!

She smiled at me and scratched the fur around my cheeks. She knows just the right spot…ah yes.
There!

“I think we can do that for a bit. Be a novelty not getting wet,” she grabbed her pack and looked around the small room for anything else she might have left behind.

It will be interesting travelling here. This is all very new to me.

Myrai cocked her head at me and smiled again nodding:

“You and me both.”

Session notes:
Downtime: 1 week of thought, 5 min of discussion.

But on a completely different note; this thread as of this point is one year old. Thanks again to all of you still reading. It means a lot to me that you do.
 
Hey Nthal. Just wanted you to know I'm really enjoying the story. I'm only at the early stages still (reading it in dribs and drabs at work), but at least that means I've still got plenty to read ... :)

Keep up the good work.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Thanks! It means a lot.
Hey Nthal. Just wanted you to know I'm really enjoying the story. I'm only at the early stages still (reading it in dribs and drabs at work), but at least that means I've still got plenty to read ... :)

Keep up the good work.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Carriage Ho! - 09/11/2019

Sigil is called the ‘City of Doors’ by some, ‘the Cage’ by others. To most, the only difference is a key.
To wiser cutters, the real difference is who is holding it.

The carriage slowly made its way southwards, wedged between lumbering carts and wagons of the caravan. The pace was slow and steady on the hot summer day. Most were carrying merchant’s goods from Waterdeep, Neverwinter and other towns north on the sword coast. Most of the drovers hide under tarps, to shade themselves from the oppressive heat of the day. The few guards on horses had doffed their heavy helms, and now wore wide brimmed hats of leather, to keep their faces in the shade.

Inside the carriage it wasn’t much different; the shade of the enclosure was enough to shield its occupants from the sun’s wrath. But the heat still lingered in the stifling air inside. For the two very different occupants, they had decidedly different approaches to handling the heat.

The first was a gnome, dressed in a linen shirt, a leather vest now unfasted hung on his shoulders and simple breeches. Across from his seat, was a backpack, and a disorganized pile of papers and scrolls, each pinned down by a small collection of stones, that were gathered from a prior stop. He lay back on his seat eyes closed taking deep breaths dozing, as a golden mechanical owl, perched on the door sill to the carriage, beating its wings to cool its master.

Sitting diagonally from him, sat a woman. Her legs were stretched and propped on the seat across from her. Her feet were bare, and the lacings on the lower legs of her leather breeches were undone, exposing her calves as they laid upon a pile of chain armor, a rapier, some daggers, boots and a bodice. Her blouse hung loosely around her exposing as much skin as decorum would permit, as her midsection was no longer constrained by the leather garment. Her golden hair hung loosely around her shoulders and moved in the breeze created by the mechanical owl. She wore a pair of pendants around her neck, hanging just below her clavicles. But behind her neck was a wet towel. Every so often she would wave her hand and mutter something, and a cool mist would appear from the cloth. But truth be told, the heat was far her mind as her brow furrowed with concentration.

In her hands was what looked to be a silver scroll case and extruded from it lengthwise was a sheet of metal. On the sheet were symbols and glyphs of an ancient alphabet; some said the first one. Created millennia ago in the upper planes. The woman’s eyes were as polished as a silver mirror, and the light and the scrolls reflections were clearly seen in her eyes.

This was the scene for many miles and many days. At the beginning there was small talk, but as each took the time to review their own texts, they fell into a familiar pattern of silence. They enjoyed each other’s company quietly, each focused on their own objects of study.

“Alright you win Myr,” the gnome said softly. “I can feel the cold coming from your towel. You are clearly more comfortable.

Myrai, turned her head slightly to look at the sprawled-out gnome, Beepu. She returned her focus to her reading before replying, “Well, Foggle certainly keeps the breeze moving in here.”

“Sure, but let me prove my point. Did you want to trade the wind for that towel?”

“Nope,” Myrai said, not even glancing up.

“I should have kept that spell handy from school. Now I understand how it could be useful.”

“Mmm hmm,” Myrai muttered in response.

“You are not listening to me, are you?”

“Mmm hmm,” again came the response.

Beepu opened his eyes and glared at the woman. He then turned to his owl and gave it a steady gaze. In a moment, the owl took to the air, and flew towards Myrai with talons extended. It flew past her neck as it grabbed the cold wet towel from it.

“Wha…hey! Give that back,” as Myrai reached for her comfort too slowly. The owl swiftly turned and dropped it on Beepu’s lap and settled again on the sill and started to beat its wings.

“It is rude not to pay attention during a dialog!” Beepu said in a huff, as he wiped the sweat from his brown with the now captured cool towel.

“Sorry,” Myrai said a bit guiltily. “It’s not like you don’t do the same when you are focused on your schematics,” and she put her feet down on the floor of the carriage and reached across the seat to reach into her pack.

“I concede that is true.” He then placed the stolen cloth behind his head, and he was quiet a moment before he spoke again. “Did you get anywhere with it?” and he waved his hand at the object she held.

Myrai had pulled another strip of cloth from her pack and was wetting it from a waterskin that hung from the pack’s side. “No. I can’t even read its proper name. I can see the word ‘Apocrypha’ but the second word is a jumble. Almost like someone wrote on the same spot over and over again.”

“Did you not say, that the words are etched or imprinted on the metal?”

“Yes, which is confusing as well. Only one section is really clear, and that one contains spell formulae. Everything else is gibberish with a couple of clear words.” And she retracted the metal sheet back into the cylinder. “How about your schematic?”

The gnome sighed as he placed the towel behind his neck and settled into his seat, “Well, I am certain now that there is a part needed, and I am also certain that the part can be found in the Misty Forest.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I finally found a reference in an old journal this morning that I had overlooked. My father apparently visited the forest in the past. But it was not until I found a name in the Journal that he left behind that I made a connection. The name…Melandrach.”

Myrai blinked a moment and leaned slightly forward. “And…”

The gnome nodded, “Yes, yes it was quite clever.”

“No…what is the importance of that name,”

“Oh! Sorry. Melandrach is an uncommon elvish name. The only one I know that goes by Melandrach, is King Melandrach. And he is the king of the Misty Forest near Secomber.”

“Where your father visited. Simple enough.”

“Not really. The borders to the forest are closed to non-elves.”

Myrai frowned a moment, “So…did your father grow a few feet?”

“No! I already knew had a guide by the name of Ravalan, but now I am certain where Ravalan took my father. I wrote a letter to the brothers to see if they could track him down.”

“That might help. I remembered you saying that they were running in circles looking for Umbra.”
Beepu nodded. “Yes, well that might have been because Umbra and my father were disguised or hidden. But Ravalan is a local, so finding him will be easier.”

“Sure it’s a him?”

“It is a male sylvan name, so yes.”

Myrai nodded and draped the damp towel behind her neck, leaned back again and propped up her feet. With a quick motion she resumed the spell, and cooling vapors again drifted from the cloth. After a moment she smirked to herself and whispered a second incantation, looking squarely at the stolen cloth around Beepu’s neck. Satisfied she turned to look out the window at the passing countryside. She concentrated a moment and the scene before her shifted to a spot somewhere above the carriage.

She could smell the wind; feel the heat of the sun, and the cool wind rushing through feathery wings and the sound past her ears. Her heart was racing as eyes looked from shrub to shrub, searching. Suddenly Myrai, felt wings tuck in close. The wind rushed past even faster, as she approached the ground. Just ahead, a mouse seemed to slowly bolt to a nearby hole in the earth. But before it reached it, Myrai watched fascinated as outstretched claws…

Myrai severed her connection to Gossamer and the grisly results of his hunt. She enjoyed tapping into his perceptions; the Sensate in her appreciated the primal perspective of her familiar. The sensation of flight was intoxicating as well, as her senses were replaced with her familiars’. But while she appreciated the sensation of the hunt and the kill, the consumption of the prey was something she didn’t need to experience again.

Did you want a bite?

-Uh…no thanks. I’m fine.

You sure? I could find something else. An egg perhaps.

-Not funny. It’s not like you have to eat to start with.

True, but it seems to be a waste of a hunt. Sure, you don’t really want something?

-No, I’m sure. I’ll leave you to your meal.

Always willing to share.


Myrai focus returned to see Beepu shift uncomfortably, pulled the cloth from around his neck and stare at it.
“How did this get so war…Myrai!” and Beepu glared at his companion.

“I blame the weather,” Myrai replied blandly.

----

It was late afternoon when the caravan pulled into the town of Secomber. When the carriage finally stopped, Myrai and Beepu emerged from it, and stepped onto the dusty streets of the small trade town. As Myrai turned her head looking around, Beepu sent his owl skyward to fly over the street. Myrai by comparison sent her Tresym to a nearby roof, to follow her.

But what Myrai was looking for, she didn’t see.

“Think they are at the inn?” Myrai asked still searching for the brothers or Mo.

“Most likely. No reason to come here to meet us,” Beepu said, straightening out his pack on his shoulders.
Myrai nodded and started her way down the busy road. As she walked, she kept her hand on the Apocrypha and chanted below her breath. While she couldn’t read most of it, there were a couple of interesting incantations she wanted to try out.

As they continued down the road, they came to the central crossroads of the town. Here the merchant stalls were open for business, and several inns with attached bars were visible. The town was busy, with trading of all sorts of goods; steel from Mulmaster, fine cloth and leather goods from Waterdeep, vegetables and fruits from the local farms. But as much as the merchants tried to gain the attention of the duo, they were focused on the people, looking for a pair of familiar faces.

“This is going to be a problem,” Beepu said with tone of frustration.

“What? That you didn’t think to arrange to meet somewhere?”

“I did not know the town so I could not say where to meet us, and Iesa simply said they would meet us at an inn here.”

Myrai sighed, “In other words, he didn’t either.”

“Precisely. So, what would be the best way to find him?”

“Find the bar with largest number of female elves?”

Beepu chortled, “Well, that would be Iesa’s normal inclination. Still means we are searching every bar.”

“We don’t need to find the bar. We just need to find Mo.”

“Mo? He does not like Foggle, and probably would hide from him. I told you that when you asked me to have him scout. Pointless.”

“That’s not why I told you to do that.”

“What? Why did you—”

“To distract Mo, while Gossamer found him.”

Beepu’s mouth opened for a moment, and then he closed it nodding, “Yes. They have not met. A good distraction.”

Myr, you said it was a brown furred animal with a tail in the rough shape of a human child?”

-That would be it most likely? Where?

By the fruit stand on your left. I think it is trying to liberate an apple.


Myrai turned to look and saw a farmer’s stand filled with fresh fruits from his orchard, with a canvas awning to keep the sun and heat at bay. It took a moment, but Myrai finally spotted him. Hanging from rear legs and stretching down to reach a vulnerable apple was Mo.

Myrai smiled, and moved towards the farmer, who was oblivious to the sneaking thief.

“Ah yes mad…mad…” the farmer stammered as he looked into Myrai’s eyes.

“Trouble you for an apple for a couple of coppers?” and Myrai reached towards the same apple targeted by the stealthy primate. But while Mo was at first focused on the Farmer, he turned to look at Myrai with wide open eyes.

“Of…of…”

“Thanks,” and Myrai tossed him a trio of coins, far more than a singles apple’s worth. But she turned her attention to the monkey.

“So…Mo. Where’s your dad, hmm?”

The farmer now noticed the monkey hanging from awning and was reaching for a broom nearby, when Myrai waved her hand at the human.

Mo’s face contorted and blinked a moment and he made some screeching sounds.

Screech, chitter / Hey. I know you. I understood you. How?

Myrai grinned a moment and offered him the apple. “Now that’s a special thing I learned. Where is…well how do you call him? Iesa? Dad? Chief?”

Chitter, chitter, squak, screech, / Oh you mean Big Mo. He near. And Mo snatched the apple glancing nervously at the farmer.

“Big Mo…Little Mo. Of course. Can you show me?” and she turned to nod at the farmer and then called out over her shoulder, “Beepu, found him.”

“About time. Now how do we get Mo to show us where he is?”

“I asked him, he’s showing us the way,” and Myrai walked following the monkey’s bounding path over the stalls.

“What do you mean ‘you asked him?’”

“Just that. Apparently, he calls Iesa ‘Big Mo’ and he’s leading us,” and Myrai pointed at the monkey who now bounded into an Inn.

“That would useful. Can you talk to Foggle that way?”

Myrai nodded, “I think so, but he doesn’t say anything back.”

“I wonder why?”

-Goss, come down and follow me.

Sure thing.


“Probably because you told him to be quiet and you never changed that request.”

Beepu straightened up and thought about it. “You might be right. Never thought anyone else could talk to him. I don’t even know a spell that can do—”

“Later Beepu,” Myrai interrupted and she strode into the bar.

It was a working folks bar favored by the locals, with few of the caravan drovers or merchants present. They locals looked up from the drinks and their games of dice to regard the newcomer, eying her critically, and the tones became hushed.

Myrai ignored them, she focused on looking for the monkey, and she spotted him at a table between two familiar figures seated with drinks in hand. The taller and leaner one had the apple in his hand and was wagging a finger at his little companion as Myrai and Beepu made their way to the table.
“Mo…not from the farmers,” Iesa was chiding.

“Well Big Mo, it’s a good thing that apple is paid for then,” Myrai said with a smile.

Iesa’s head shot up as he saw the pair approaching, “Well…how did you find us? I told Mo to hide from Foggle, so I could find and surprise you!”

“Well, ask much as I could let him surprise anyone,” Daneath said standing and offering a hand and to Myrai.
She ignored it, and instead embraced the warrior, “Well hard to surprise anyone in that armor.” She then released him and moved to hug Iesa, as the big man now shook Beepu’s hand.

Iesa backed up a step, “Wait wait, I don’t really hu…what do you mean ‘Big Mo?’”

Myrai stopped a moment and shrugged, “It’s what he calls you. It’s cute.”

“Really? And cute? Really?” Iesa said looking at Mo with shock.

Daneath turned to look at his brother, “Yeah…’Big Mo’ that’s even better than ‘Big D’”

Iesa stared at Daneath with a look of horror, “No. No. No. You are not calling me that in public.”
Beepu took a seat at the table, and I could hear the mechanical whirring above me as the owl settled down on a rafter above us. The locals murmured at the sight of Foggle, and their stares towards us had barely disguised looks of suspicion.

“So, wait a second,” Iesa started. He knows how to hide from Foggle, how did you find him?”

Gossamer was slinking on the ground with wings folded close to his body, and as Iesa spoke he jumped upon the table and sat down upon it, his green eyes staring at Iesa with a hint of challenge in his eyes. Daneath moved to shoo away Goss but stopped as Gossamer unfurled his wings and stretched them upwards. Isea’s jaw dropped as he stared at the winged cat in front of him. But I was less interested in their reactions as opposed to Mo’s

Mo stared for a moment and stepped towards Gossamer cautiously on the table with a paw outreached.

“Goss is a friend Mo.”

Chitter, ork, chitter / sneaky one with wings? New. Friend? Ok. Hungry now.

The paw touched Gossamer on the head for a moment, and he retreated back to Iesa and started to munch on his apple.

“Damn it. Now I have to get a pet to fit in the club?” Daneath exclaimed and sat down with mock exasperation.

Myrai sat down as well, “Maybe. But you already have a little brother, so I guess that counts.”

“Yeah you hav…wait a moment! Myrai!” Iesa said wounded and took his seat.

“I missed you both terribly,” Myrai said warmly. “You missed out on some of the best gnomish jokes, “and she gave a low hand signal of her hand waving back and forth that Beepu didn’t see while mouthing the world ‘No.’

“True, that was sophisticated humor you missed,” Beepu said oblivious to Myrai’s non-verbal signals. “Any luck?”

“Well…no. We just came into this bar to ask the locals without attracting attention…” Iesa started.

“…But that’s pretty much done with,” Daneath finished, looking around at the tavern’s patrons who simply gave the group dirty looks.

“Well that is going to make it hard to find this Ravalan person then,” Beepu said sourly
.
“Ravalan? Now that is a person, I can help you with,” Said a voice at the table next us. And so we turned to look at…

Session notes:

The DM was surprise that suddenly he had to speak for Mo. I admit to getting the ritual spell mostly as a joke on the DM. But you never know what you can learn from animals.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Importance of Vetting - 09/19/2019

Knight of the Post.

Shiv.

Thief.
So many words for the same type of profession. Says nothing about the person behind it. Some hold to codes obscure to any but themselves. Some just want the finer things at the lowest price. And some just look at jink as a way to keep score.

But some folks aren’t suited for the lifestyle. The problem is most only figure that out as they bleed to death in an alley somewhere.

I turned to look at the man. He was dark haired, and brown eyed, and of medium build and he had face while young, was still weathered and tanned. He sat at a table next to us with a grin on his face, and an ale in his hand. Two others that were sitting with him, had left the table, and so he moved his stool closer to us.
“If you are looking for Ravalan, his place is easy enough to get to,” he started looking back and forth between the brothers. “That is if you know where you are goin.”

“And you know him well enough to guide us there?” Iesa asked.

“Me? Nah. I’ve talked to him once or so,” the man continued after gulping a down more of his ale. “But I don’t need to be friends to know where his cabin is. Stumbled on that by chance.”
Iesa nodded a second and looked at Daneath, who simply shrugged. He then asked “Well, then how much is it for your time?

“A couple of crowns would be fine, but you can pay me once I get you there.”

“How far is it?” Daneath asked, leaning towards the man.

“Oh, probably not more than a brisk hike good sirs. Its not like the weather is going to be a problem,” the man replied.

Iesa looked at us for a moment and quickly said, “I think you have a deal. What’s your name?” and Iesa offered his hand.

The man smiled, put his mug on the table, and clasped his hand around Iesa’s. “You can call me Roggins. You ready to head out?”

“Well if it is really not that far, we should go now. Once we talk to him, we can come back for supplies we might need,” Beepu said eager to get moving. “What about you Myr?”

For the first time, Roggins seemed to notice me. He turned to look, and that same old look of surprise was there when he made eye contact. But it faded quickly behind a smile. But there was more to it than that; a hunger or a desire was lurking there. He was canny enough not act on it, but not couth enough to cover it up. I may have been used to the looks that some men cast my direction, but it didn’t mean I enjoyed the attention. And this one seemed more unseemly than most.

Unfortunately, that was to be expected and was common enough in Waterdeep. But something else was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, after a moment I said, “Well you have your hearts set on it. And no sense lugging stuff for a journey if we don’t know how much we need.”

Roggins smile got just a bit wider and he replied, “Well, easy hike for you, and easy money for me. Let’s get a movin,” and he stood, downed the remains of his ale and moved to the doors leading to the street. With the four of us, and our growing menagerie in tow.

Roggins led us westward, away from the hills around the town, and headed towards a flat part of the light forest to the west. The forest was scattered around hills, and Roggins led us through the valleys between them. Isea and Daneath were in front, following our new guide, followed by Beepu and then myself taking up the rear. Foggle of course was flying just over head, Mo was perched on Iesa’s shoulder, while Gossamer ran and flew just behind me in the trees.

The summer sun was going to set late today, and the hike took us away from the farms and any nearby ranches. But as the hike began to wear on, I began to realize something.

We had been following our guide for a while, and I noticed that at least once, that his choice of path had a tendency to move us north and south a number of times, but that we really didn’t make much progress west. But I wasn’t versed in travelling in the forest, so I wasn’t concerned at first. But after a while it kept nagging at me.

Gos. Fly up above us and watch. See if we are making any real progress westwards. Something seems off.

--Sure thing


I then started to watch our guide now. He certainly knew the area; he didn’t look concerned about where he was, which I expected. But as I watched him, he clearly was looking for something. But he was also watching us, and he threw a lot of unsavory looks in my direction. I began to feel uneasy.

After some time, we started to make our way to a clearing when our guide spoke up. “Well, there we are! Just on the other side of this clearing, and on the other side of that hill, and that’ll be the place.”

Gos, we’re heading towards a clearing don’t go too far.

--Really? You haven’t been that far from it. In fact, if I didn’t know better, you are being led in circles.


I quietly unslung my shield from my back and strapped it onto my arm. That feeling that I had now was a grim certainty. We were being bobbed and peeled. I mentally cursed at myself for being a cony. I was considering what to do next when Roggins moved ahead to a tree and then stopped, turning to face us.

“Well all, it has been a pleasure. I do enjoy easy work.” He said with a wide grin.

“So where is Ravalan’s place?” Iesa asked sounding puzzled.

“Not sure I could tell you that. But I can tell you that the quicker you drop your weapons and gear, the faster this will be.”

The brothers were glancing at each other, and just in front of me, I could see Beepu stiffen as Foggle must have started to tell him something.

--Myr, there are about five other figures among the trees.

I looked around, and I could see two easily with bows drawn and arrows notched ready to release.

Right, stay in the upper branches, and stay hidden.

“So, wait. You’re trying to rob us?” Iesa said incredulously.

“I think that might sum it up yeah. I was surprised that you took me up on my offer to honest. But as I said; easy work.”

“I think you might find this line of work…dangerous,” Daneath said grimly, his hand already on the hilt of his sword readying to draw it.

“Well we got you outnumbered and arrows ready to fly. I’m not worried.” He retorted.

“Well,” I said. “A bunch of spivs looking to be put in the dead book.”

Roggins blinked a second and tilted his head, “Um, you’ll have to humor me, what does that mean, exactly.”

“A bunch of thieves, who are about to die,” I said calmly, and I then threw out a bolt of energy past Roggins, to a bowman behind him. It struck true and the scream of pain was almost like music to my ears, ending this farce.

The others moved quickly, with Beepu sending a gout of flame towards another target next, followed by Daneath charging towards a closer bowman, swinging and drawing blood. Iesa sprinted towards another one and dropped him with a quick thrust of the rapier and a slash across the throat with his dagger. Mo just bolted for a nearby bush for cover, while Foggle flew higher above the trees.

Roggins wasn’t expecting a fight, based on his expression. He quickly drew a short sword and moved towards Daneath. His swings betrayed a serious lack of skill, as he slashed wildly, hitting Daneath’s shield ineffectively. Daneath’s foe had dropped their bow, for a sword as well and had much the same impact on the large man. Meanwhile the others launched their arrows at me, but nothing was even close to finding a target. They too were untrained, and not even skilled hunters let alone bandits.

Iesa circled and took on another bowman and had great luck in finding an opening and dropping him. Beepu and I each took down our respective targets with more blasts of magic, knocking them down, as arrows flew around us wildly. I felt the rush and joy of the fight once again, and I was almost disappointed on how quickly they fell. But mostly I was angry. Angry at myself for falling into an obvious trap. Angry at the gelbas of these spiv’s trying to rob me.

Seeing his companions fall was all that Roggins needed to see; he was outplayed and far outmatched. He dropped his sword, as did his one standing associate.

“I’m…I’m…sorry…um…perhaps we could--”

“Shut up,” I said marching over to where Roggins and his pal stood with their hands raised above their shoulders. I glared at both of them with a look that I was sure could melt cold iron.

How many others had they done this to? This wasn’t a place of wealth; it was full of hard-working folk that were likely just trying to live and leave enough alone. This whole bob and peel offended me for some reason.

“Strip and drop your gear. Iesa, see if anyone else survived.” I said. My tone didn’t brook any dissent, and Iesa without hesitation started to examine the fallen. Beepu caught up with us and was also angry.

“You mean this has been a waste of time?” the gnome accused.

Roggins was dropping his sword belt and dagger to the ground, while his companion dropped his bow, quiver and another short blade. “Um, yes…sorry…we didn’t want to hurt—”

“Then you shouldn’t have pointed your weapons at us. And keep going.”

“What? I don’t underst—” Roggins started confused.

I plucked a bit of the strand within me and focused it on my voice as I shouted.

“I. Said. STRIP!” and my voice echoed in the forest, far above the level of shouting.

Roggins, who must have stood a head taller than I, was now terrified. I watched he and his friend unbuckle his belt and armor. Iesa came up dragging a body and went back for the others. By now the pair were down to their small clothes and they looked at me with dread.

“Same with the others,” I said nodding at the body. “You can leave their clothes alone.”

I watched them both gulp and start to peel off the gear. As they did so, I saw that Beepu had started some kind of ritual casting. But eventually we had four corpses lined up on the ground with a pile of swords, bows, and boiled leather armor. The two stood meekly by, clearly nervous and unsure on what would happen next.

“Iesa watch them, while I take care of their friends.”

“What are you going to do Myr?” Daneath asked.

“Last rites.” I said and I flexed and pulled on the Strand with in me. This time I used the strand not to throw energy around, but to put that energy to work. I could feel resistance, as I focused on the earth in front of me. As the others watched I pushed up dirt and gravel up and away from a point that expanded. Soon enough soil was pushed up from the ground to make a pit that was about five feet deep.

I turned to look at the would-be thieves. “Lay your friends to rest. It’s the least you could do for them.” The pair nodded and together lowered the bodies awkwardly, but gently into the pit. I then knelt at the edge and prayed aloud:

“My lord, these men’s time has come to an end. Lay these souls to rest in the eternal embrace of death. Judge them against all the things they have done, not just the sins at the end of their time. Let judgement come quickly, and may their souls atone for their crimes. Blessed be the fallen.”

I could see the tears in the eyes of Roggins, and I knew then that he was new to his life of crime. He wasn’t hardened yet by the deeds. He thought he could rob and not hurt anyone, not thinking that others around him could be hurt. He could save himself if he chose.

“Iesa, Daneath bind their hands and feet together.” I said simply as I stood once again. The brothers pulled rope from their packs and the pair started to bind their hands

“Myr what are you—” Beepu started.

“A lesson.” I said coldly. And after the brothers had firmly tied the pair, I again flexed and moved the soil around to create another pit. At this point Roggins and friend started to panic.

“Wai…wai…wait! Don’t do this!” Roggins stammered while his friend’s eyes bulged.

“Put them in, standing.” I said and then Iesa and Daneath complied, looking at me with some trepidation. Once the pair were in the pit, I then reversed the magic. The earth moved and started to fill the pit. Soon only their head and shoulders were left exposed to the air.

I knelt down to the pair and looked at them both and then I quietly spoke.

“Consider this a lesson on how close to death you were. Consider how close you are now. And consider that if the gods decide to let you survive how you might make amends. It’s too late for your friends. As for your souls…that’s up to you.”

“You…you…you can’t just leave us here!” Roggins begged.

“Really? Why not?” I said evenly, leveling my gaze at him. “What exactly were you going to do with us if we surrendered our gear? Let us walk back to town? I saw how you looked at me in the Inn,” and I watched him swallow hard.

“What were you going to do? Hurt us? Blind us? Maim us? Kill us? And what about me? Would you have had your way with me first?” and I watched his face lose color.

“Did you think I was just going to…entertain you?”

“I swear…we wouldn’t hav…”

“You see, I know being a spiv isn’t easy. But your friends have already paid the price. So, I would think very hard about this second chance you are getting. Because if I hear of you causing more problems for others, I will personally flay you.”

I stood again, staring down at the pair in the earth with disdain. I then turned to the others.

“Gather the gear, and let’s go back to town,” I said.

“Well carrying it won’t be a problem at least,” Beepu said as he lifted some of the gear up and then placed it on something hovering in midair. As I looked, I realized that barely visible was a disc of force that was holding the items up.

We all loaded the disc up and started to head back to town, when I heard Roggins call out.

“Please…don’t leave us here…please!”

I didn’t even turn around to look, as their voices faded in the distance.

It was a while before anyone spoke again. The sun had just kissed the horizon to the west when we finally came to the outskirts of Secomber, the orange light illuminating the few clouds, and the houses as we walked.

“That was…cold Myr,” Beepu said breaking our quiet.

“Did you think they had a warmer fate for us?” I asked.

“I do not know. We could have done something else however. Bring them to the local captain of the town perhaps?”

Iesa didn’t even look up from the ground he was staring at as he walked, “Out here, it would likely be a hanging.”

“We had already beaten them up enough, we could have let them go or—”

“Beepu,” I said quietly “I didn’t want them to get off easy, so they rob or steal from someone else.”
“It just seems harsh.”

“This wasn’t exactly a mugging in Waterdeep, where they just take your jink and run,”

“Still…I did not expect that response from you,”

I grimaced, “Its been a while since I let anyone take anything from me. I wasn’t going let him start taking...anything.”

“So, what do we do with this pile of stuff?” Daneath asked gesturing at the pile of gear on the floating disc.

“I have an idea about that” Iesa said with a smile.

-------------------------

“And they are all dead?” the guard captain asked sounding impressed.

“Well, we buried them all,” Iesa said with a smile. “But we figured that the gear might be useable by the local militia or something.

I smiled wistfully as Iesa’s deflection. It certainly wasn’t a lie after all.

“Well we are always short on equipment, so this will help.”

“Not a problem,” and Iesa started to turn and head deeper into town.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what were you doing out there anyway?”

Daneath interjected, “We were looking for someone by the name of ‘Ravalan’”

“The firbolg? He doesn’t live that close to town.”

“That is unfortunate. We hoped to find him soon,” Beepu commented with a frown.

“Well, can’t help you find him, but I can tell you who might,” and the captain pointed down the road to the south. There in the fading light I could see multiple campfires.

“The goliaths have come into town to trade…and drink.” He nodded toward the fires. “I seem to remember that Ravalan had visited them before.”

“So how should one introduce oneself to a…gathering of goliaths?” I asked.

“Well that’s simple. Start with a toast.”

Session notes:

We really should have asked for references. The DM was kind of dumbfounded. I saw the problem far away, and let the newer players walk right into it. It does make for interesting times.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Drinking with Giants - 09/27/2019

If there is one thing about Sigil is that everyone drinks. Ale is safer than the water in the Ditch, or anywhere else. In fact, water from Oceanus costs twenty times the cost of a good ale, and a hundred times the cheapest bub.

So, a good chunk of the populace is already drinking or drunk, or figuring out how to get started drinking and get drunk. From Celestial to Fiend, from rich to poor. Drinking was the great equalizer in Sigil.

It also means that the Barkeeps were the true kings and king makers of the city. For without all the drinking, how would anyone stand each other an make the deals they do?

“So how much was it?” Daneath grunted as he loaded the barrel on the cart.

“Enough. The bar didn’t exactly want to sell it either,” Iesa commented.

“What changed his mind?” Beepu asked.

“I told him that we were going to give it to some goliaths. Once I said that, he was quick to sell,” Iesa replied.

“Are their drinking habits that bad?” I asked, wondering if we made the right decision of a gift.

“Drinking no, not really. But it does…inspire them to contests of strength. The damage starts from there.”

“What kind of contests are we talking about? Brawling?”

“Could be anything Myr,” Daneath answered after finishing securing the barrel on the cart. “I’ve only heard stories, but whatever strikes their fancy.”

“This is foolish,” Beepu said with disgust. “Alcohol just dulls the mind! How are we going to get answers about the firbolg?”

“Beepu,” I said resigned, “It’s called being social. They like to drink, so bringing some as a gift will help us make friends.”

“Could not a bottle do as well? The coin I gave Iesa was considerable!”

“Wait…what?” Daneath said his head snapping to look at his brother.

I rolled my eyes and looked at Iesa, “You told me that you couldn’t get jink from the others.”

“Well…more like, enough coin. I do have some left over!” Iesa spreading his hands. Mo abandoned his shoulder to hide in the cart as the three of us surrounded Daneath.

“Some.” I said dryly. “Exactly how much is left over?”

“About eighteen silver?” Iesa said almost guiltily. Almost.

“Each?” Beepu demanded.

“Er no. Total.”

I closed my eyes for a moment and breathed deeply. I then turned around and simply said. “Let’s go.”

“Aren’t you interest in—“ Daneath started.

“No. I am interested in cracking open that barrel, so I cure my sudden pounding headache,” I said rubbing my temples. “And the sooner that cart makes it to the camp…”

“Point taken,” Daneath said as he gave a pair of coins, to the drover in the cart. The man nodded and flicked the reins, encouraging the donkey to move and haul its load.

“This better be worth it Iesa.” Beepu muttered, as Foggle took to the air.

I followed along shaking my head.

So…what did you want me to do?

I paused a moment before replying to Gossamer,

--Well, either stick close to me or stay out of sight.

Noted; I’ll stay out of sight. As long as I don’t become an object in their contests, I’ll be satisfied.

--You and me both.


The camp wasn’t far down the road, and while we could see the fires flickering the darkness, it was the sounds that stood out.

Drums. Lots of drums. Small ones, large ones. Slow thumping, deep sounds reverberating in my bones as we walked closer. The tones of smaller ones, that caused my heart to stir its own pace to match. It was that primal feeling I felt once before in Flint Rock. But these beats were in the hear and now, not the distant past. It was the passion of life expressed in the purest way.

Then, as we neared the thundering sounds of drumming, I could hear voices. Laughter, cheers, shouts of joy; the sound of comradery. Daneath and Iesa were in the lead, with the cart. Beepu had seated himself in the back of the cart, glowering. I followed, walking behind them all. Unsure on what to expect.

The cart stopped and I saw large figures approach Daneath who started to shout to them, over the drumming. The pair towered over Daneath, and I could see the patterns light and dark on their skin in the firelight. I couldn’t hear what Daneath said to them, but the sudden grins and clapping him on the back told me that we were clearly welcome. One of the pair moved to the side of the cart, and easily lifted out the barrel that Daneath struggled with earlier.

I never considered myself small, and the fact that most men stood a head or so taller than I was just a norm. But the goliaths made me feel small. Some of them were three and half heads taller than I was, and for the first time I wondered if this how Beepu felt around us.

The cart started to move, returning to tow, and Beepu and I headed towards the brothers. The Goliaths were massive walls of muscle and were smiling, talking with the pair easily. As I approached, I could see at least two dozen of them, drumming, laughing and drinking from the now tapped barrel. Mugs of the ale that Iesa purchased were already making rounds. Beepu and I stepped up to join our companions, already in conversation with a giant of goliath who looked to be their leader.

“Hah! You certainly know how to make an entrance, Big D!” said an older goliath, the marks on his face giving him a mask that I would have called fearsome, if the smile wasn’t so warm and genuine.
Daneath hid his distaste for his fighting name well and smiled. “Well, as they say, ‘know your audience.’”
The giant arched an eyebrow and regarded the warrior with interest. “So, to what we owe the honor then?”
Iesa spoke up, “Well, we were hoping to find someone…a firbolg named Ravalan.”

The goliath frowned a moment, “You don’t say. We haven’t seen him in a time. And normally he comes to greet us.” He spoken and stroked his chin for a moment. “But he is a bit of a hermit. Comes and goes as he pleases.”

Beepu spoke up, “Well then. Any chance you might know how to find him.”

The goliath was startled for a moment, until he found the gnome below him. The gnome was perhaps only knee high at best to the giant’s leg. “Ho ho! There you are. Don’t want to step on you. Now we have a tracker that knows where he lives.”

“That is good to hear. Then perhaps we can pay you for your…”

“Pay? Non-sense!” he snorted. “You have to earn that! Join us in our games, and if you do well then the gods will have said ‘you are worthy’” stabbing a finger at Beepu.

“Games? Games?!?” Beepu exclaimed. “While I do not mind testing my skills, I cannot say that I have hope in matching your…physicality.”

The goliath smiled, “But you have the spirit! Drink with us! We will look to Big D here for your might.”

“Yes! Big D will…wait. What?” Daneath said.

“Join my brethren here tonight. Show that you can keep up. Show us your worth! Go!”

A pair of goliaths stepped forward, and for the first time I saw one of the women. She was lean, her muscles well defined, and dressed in a halter and knee-high breeches. She was taller than Daneath by a head and half and looked just as strong as the man. The pattens of stripes flowed down her chest and arms like a dark river snaking through the plains. She smiled at the warrior and took his hand and dragged him into a throng of goliaths.

Iesa stood there with Mo on his shoulder, and almost reached out to stop him, when he pulled back his hand and instead called out to Daneath, “Good luck and good hunting!”

“Hah! He looks more to be prey right now!” and the goliath gulped down some ale. “I guess the rest of you will have to share cups with me for the time being.”

“That’s fine with me, as long the ale flows.” I said with a smile and took at deep drink from my mug. The ale was malty with earthen tones and had a nice bite at the end. I would have to remember to tell Iesa that least he made a decent purchase.

The goliath turned towards me. When his eyes locked with mine, he dropped his mug to the ground.

“By Stronmaus’ beard! I have never—”

“Fell behind drinking in front of a woman?” I smiled and finished off my mug and held it out to the Goliath expectantly.

He blinked a moment, his mouth agape. Then he broke out the widest grin and laughed. “HAH! I have indeed shamed myself. I should remedy this now, and offer you another…miss?...” and he extended his hand with another mug and expectant look on his face.

“Myrai. And who am I drinking with tonight?”

“Torin Strongbones. And forgive my manners, here!” and he grabbed another mug full of ale and thrust it into Beepu’s hands.

Beepu looked at the mug dubiously, “I really must refrain! I wish to keep my mind sharp.”

I turned to Beepu and leaned down, “Don’t be rude. We did ask for some help after all.”

Beepu frowned, “I suppose a drink will not hurt.” And he gamely quaffed down some the ale.

“That’s the spirit!” Torin said with a laugh and he turned back to me. “Its not often I see something new, and I will say you are that indeed. But sit here by the fire and let it warm your bones from without, while the ale does from within.”

I sat down on a log by the nearby fire and started on my second mug. I closed my eyes, so I could savor the sounds around me and feel the ale coursing through me and relaxing me. I smiled, thinking to myself that there were worse evenings.

Torin sat down beside with grinning with another full mug, and Iesa sat next to him. Beepu sat down as well, but he remained quiet and guarded as we talked.

“So, what challenges is Big D going to face tonight?” I asked and took another deep drink.

“Oh, the standard games; log tossing, barrel rolling, and ‘the Chase.’” Torin replied all smiles.

“’The Chase?’ Do tell.” I said, and Iesa leaned forward with interest.

“Certainly, after we refresh our mugs!” and he waved his hand and four more mugs of ale appeared. I had just finished mine, as did Iesa. But Beepu had to drink quickly to keep up.

“Well, the first thing is a draw is made on who is doing the chasing.”

“What like straws?”

“No…just a coin toss. It’s either the women are chasing, or the men are.” Torin smiled.

“And if the ‘chaser’ catches their…mark? What happens then?” I asked, suspecting the answer.

“Well…that’s up to the one that caught their mark now isn’t it?” And Torin finished his mug and called for more. Iesa had barely finished his, and almost choked after Torin had spoken. I had just downed my third and was feeling quite warm and relaxed.

Iesa spoke, “So…anything?”

“Well…within reason I suppose. But out of the four of you, Big D is more likely to walk away with his bones intact.” Torin laughed.

Iesa was beginning to look bleary eyed at Torin, “I can run…fasstd.”

“I’m sure…but the catching part can be—”

<<WHUMP>>

And over the fire a man in a loincloth jumped. A solid example of fine goliath form. But just to his right, a large athletic female dove for the male’s knees, tripping and felling the giantkin to the ground.

“—quite an impact.”

“I’ll pass. I prefer this drinking game,” I said holding out my mug looking for another. “

“Yesssszz. Another! Thisszz schtuff is vunderfullff,” Beepu said slurring his works badly.

Torin looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes and called for more mugs. Iesa took another gulp and was soon passed out on the log. Beepu consumed another full mug, and then found a quiet spot of dirt next to the log to ‘lay his spinning head’ against.

As for Big D; I didn’t see what happened, but I did hear him shout in the darkness around us, trying to evade his pursuers.

Three more drinks later and Torin was looking at me bleary eyed and his brow was knotted in confusion. “Hows is it you can put away drinksss in that teeny frame?” He asked, looking at me with some respect as he realized that the ale had caught up to him.

“Wells…when you workz ins a bar and yous pickz up ssome skillz,” I said feeling quite buzzed, but determined to be the last one conscious.

“Well…done…then,” and the great bulk of a Goliath, fell backwards unconscious from the log and started to snore.

I turned my head upwards, trying to ignore the spinning for a bit longer and smiled. There have been worse evenings to be sure, and tomorrow might get us somewhere. But for now, a warm fire, and a dreamless sleep is all I wanted or needed.

So, I slumped down to the ground and placed my back against the log, and stared at the dying embers of the fire. Slowly I relaxed and let the numbness and warmth of the liquor finally carry me off to a dark dreamless sleep.

Session notes:

So…I made every saving throw against getting drunk. Everyone else failed pretty quickly. The irony was, I only had a 10 Con. Everyone else’s’ was higher.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Little Cabin in the Woods – 10/3/2019

Surprise can be a wonderful thing. The new and the unexpected is what sustains a Sensate. That unique experience is to be savored and treasured.

But it can also be found in the most ordinary places. Things you thought you knew, or things that you expect to be ‘normal.’

It is simply that; a surprise. But what you do with it, is something else.

The first thing I remembered hearing was the sound of someone in severe pain. As my mind began to focus, my senses were flooded with other information. The smells of cooking, the weight and warmth of something sitting on my chest, and especially the sounds of someone’s pain, manifesting in a shrill and desperate tone.

“Ohhhh….my head. What have I done?” I heard the gnome gasp somewhere nearby.

I opened an eye and down at my chest. There I found Gossamer, sitting quietly, taking space and giving off a tremendous amount of heat. His head turned back and forth watching the camp around him as he sat with his legs curled underneath him. He was clearly watching over me, and he duly noticed my questioning eye, and he met my gaze.

The wizard appears to be in an indelicate state this morning.

--He was drunk, so that’s a hangover.

And I assume that are in a similar condition?

--Actually…no. I only have a small problem.

And that is?

--You are preventing me from getting up and finding food.


Gossamer looked at me with what I think was an amused expression, and he slowly stood, stretched and walked over me to the log my head laid on. I propped my self up on my elbows and looked around. I apparently slept on that log, with my head on a cloak or other piece of cloth. And somehow, I had laid there, balanced throughout the evening. It might have had to do with Gossamer essentially pinning me down and preventing me from turning over and landing on the ground.

Looking around, I first saw Beepu. He sat on the ground, with his head between his hands, while he rocked his body back and forth. He was loudly moaning something in gnomish. I swung my legs over to the ground, stood and stretched my arms high while I looked for my other companions.

The next one I found was Iesa, who was quietly snoring, with his back to another log and his arms spread apart and draped on it, while he sat on the ground, his legs stretched out. Mo was with him as well, but he was fast asleep, his arms wrapped around Iesa’s neck as he clung to the man.
Near him on the ground in a large heap was Torin. He lay flat on his back with a silly grin on his face, and without the slightest care of the world, let alone the local goings on.

Of Daneath there was no sign, and I guessed he would turn up eventually. So, I started to follow my nose to where the cooking was. Not far from the fire I was at, was another fire pit, that was rectangular in shape, and with rocks lining the rim. Across the rocks, were rods, grates and spits. Some meat was already sizzling on hot iron plates set across the rods, and there were pans full of…

I gulped. I recognized the substance in the pans, as I watched a goliath quickly mixed the contents together. He then cracked another white oval on the edge and spilled the yellow and clear contents and mixed it together with the rest. Before I could turn away, the male spotted me.

“Still green after your bout with Torin?”

“Wha…oh no. I survived that fine. It’s just I—”

“—Wanted to try my eggs; Well, give me a moment to season them properly.”

I didn’t want to say anything; it seemed rude, so I smiled gamely and watched. Unlike the ones in the Inn in Triboar, he was adding far more ingredients. Spices were added, then some fresh cooked meat that was already diced was mixed into it. Finally, I saw that he reached towards some coals, and pulled out something round wrapped in burlap. As I watched, he peeled off the cloth with hands that seemed impervious to the heat. Inside was a root, that he quickly cut into pieces and threw them in the pan.
The smell was spicy, with the hints of cured meat and smoky wood. Before long, he handed me a plate with a fork, full of the eggs with the fixing. All with the broadest smile on his face.

I took a deep breath. I was a Sensate; I was supposed to try new things. And if nothing else, I knew cooking with the right materials could turn the average to magnificent. I just hoped it would change the vile to tolerable. So, I took the plate, and quickly before I could change my mind, I speared some of the fluffy material, closed my eyes and shoved the fork in my mouth, fully expecting to be poisoned.

The texture was the same, but the flavors exploded in my mouth. I could taste the sharp seeds from the cured meat, salt, and peppery spices. All of them melded together into something that was far more wonderful than that plate in Triboar. I found myself wolfing down my plate quickly, eager to savor more of the flavor.

“Hah! Seems you like it!” the goliath exclaimed.

“That’s better than the last time,” I head behind me as I watched Daneath approached, still fitting a vambrace on his arm.

“What happened last time?”

“She turned green, ran through a kitchen, and emptied her stomach on a nearby tree.”

“Well, glad to know I can cook better than THAT,” the Goliath laughed.

I could feel my cheeks flush red, as I tried to finish my mouthful to get a word in.

“Well, that was the first time she ever even had eggs!”

“And what does this make?”

“Her second time,”

The goliath roared with laughter “Only the second time! I am glad to broaden your horizons then!”

I finally cleared my mouth, “Eggs aren’t…a common meal where I’m from. But these are indeed, better than the first.” And I elbowed the warrior in the ribs, giving him a stare that I hoped could curdle his blood.

“Well, Beepu was right after all.”

“Huh? How?”

“You’ve changed.”

I pursed my lips together, considering that and retorted “Well, did you find your codpiece, or did you dent it again?”

“Not a problem this time. I could at least remember the evening.”

“I hope it doesn’t take your edge off,”

“I should hope not! We can’t besmirch Big D the lover!” Chimed the now conscious Iesa, strolling over to us, while feeding Mo on his shoulder.

“Really? Let’s not get carried away. How’s Beepu?”

“Miserable.” Iesa replied, pointing to the hunched over gnome by the log and fire.

“He’ll feel better with some water, and a guide on our way.” Daneath said.

“Yeah I talked with him already, once we are set, he’ll lead us in sight of the cabin, but no closer.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Respect for Ravalan’s privacy. I guess we get to be the rude ones.” Iesa said with a shrug.

“Well,” I started and thought a moment. “Get that ale barrel we had last night, and pry off the lid with the tap.

“Oh? Have a solution in mind?”

I nodded with a grin, and with that Iesa was off looking for the barrel. I had just finished the eggs when he rolled it up and stood it on end and removed the top lid.

I looked inside critically and took a whiff. The smell of Ale was strong and had to go. I flexed on the light strands and started to pour energy into the barrel, and soon the ale stains and the smell were gone. Iesa looked at the barrel questioningly, and then looked at me expectantly. A small group of goliaths had also stopped, wondering what I was doing.

I then grasped the medallion of my faith and said a quick prayer pulling on lighter strands, and in a moment, the barrel began to swell with water. The nearby goliaths saw the surge, of water and scattered. I thought I had scared them, but I realized that they were running for buckets, pots, mugs; anything to hold more water.
I held on to the incantation, and let them grab their fill as gallons of water flooded the interior of the barrel.

So did Iesa and Daneath each filling a mug and swallowing down the water. I then twisted the strands and closed off the magic and halting the flow of water. The goliaths smiled and thanked me for the clean water, while Daneath grabbed the moaning gnome and brought him to now half full barrel.

“Ow. Stop moving. Stop BREATHING. It is too loud.”

“I better hold your pack Beepu,” Iesa said, slipping off the important things from Beepu, without him really noticing.

“Yes. Yes. It is too heavy. Now what I need is a lot of water. This drinking thing has gone—”

<<SPLOOSH!!>>

The gnome quickly sputtered to the surface and coughed.

“What the? I meant to drink you imbeciles!”

------

That was early in the morning, but by midday we had made significant progress westward. Our guide, Kolth, new the lands well, and unlike Roggins was an honest guide. He was also remarkably patient, as Beepu was frequently winded in trying to keep up with the long legs of our guide.

He wasn’t much of a conversationalist either, and with the pace he kept, I really didn’t have much energy to ask questions. But eventually we reached some hills and started to ascend. And before long, he brought us to a halt, and pointed ahead. There on a hillside was a lone cabin; its lower footings in stone, and the upper sections in wood.

“There,” Kolth said simply. He then nodded and started to make he way down the hills.

“Thanks again!” Iesa called, and Kolth simply waved his hand behind him, not even turning.

We climbed up the hill to the cabin, and once we made it to the front door, it was clear something was amiss. The front porch was littered in leaves and debris, some of it blocking the front door. We didn’t need to say anything to each other, but this didn’t bode well for a simple introduction.

Daneath, Beepu and I were looking around for any other clues, while Iesa opened the door. It creaked open on rusty hinges and Iesa peered inside.

“That’s a…problem,” Iesa said after a moment.

“What is? What’s inside?” Daneath asked and he moved towards his brother to peer over his shoulder.

“Well, that’s just it. The inside is…missing.”

“What?” Beepu said, and he pushed his way and was looking around the Iesa’s knees. “Well now. I was not expecting…that.”

“Oh, out of the way,” and I pushed Daneath aside and looked within.

The walls were full of shelves full of bric-a-brac and layers of dust. Jugs, skins, and other items hung from hooks or ropes from the ceiling. And that was as normal as it got. I blinked a couple of times as I realized, that in this single room cabin, there wasn’t a piece of furniture. No bed, no tables, no chairs.

But more importantly, there was no floor. Instead, there was a yawning pit that extended wall to wall of the cabin. I looked down, and I could see a pool of water, but it must have been fifty feet below where the cabin floor should have been. As I stared, I could see that there was a passage way leading away from the pool.
“Alright, that’s new,” I said. I waved Gossamer inside, and he found a beam to perch on and he looked down. Foggle soon joined him, while Mo stayed on Iesa’s shoulder.

Beepu spoke up. “That would explain the state of the exterior, if Ravalan fell down there.”

“Meaning he didn’t come back up again,” Daneath said.

“Ok, well I don’t see a corpse either so he might have wandered deeper within,” Iesa said peering at the water below.

“How does someone miss the fact that your ground that your home is built on is gone?” Daneath asked aloud.

I bend down and looked at the earthen walls of the pit, and the rock layer below it. I could see chisel or pick marks in the rock; flat cuts and sharp breaks in the stone.

“Someone dug under here. And the rocks have been moved away,” I said.

“Someone mined here to get to Ravalan I would say. Not at minor endeavor either,” Beepu said nodding. “But why?”

“I guess we’re are going to need to go down and ask,” Iesa said and he started to uncoil some rope attached to his pack.

“No need I can get us down safely,” Beepu said waving his hand.

“What about back up?” Daneath asked.

“Not needed. There must be an exit elsewhere. There were tools used here, so it was a humanoid species that did this.” Beepu replied.

“Wait, why does that mean there’s an exit?” Iesa asked confused.

“Because someone had to know that Ravalan was here at all, to plan to dig under him. You cannot do that randomly from below without reason.”

“He’s got a point,” I said. “Let’s do this.”

Beepu nodded and closed his eyes for a moment. He then pulled a feather from his pouch and started to wave it around as he chanted. In a moment he opened his eyes and looked at us.

“Alright…jump down.”

“Just like that?” Daneath asked dubiously.

“Yes. Why do you doubt me?”

“It’s new. I don’t like new things,” Daneath replied.

“You will endure! Now move,” and Beepu pushed the big man with all of his strength.

Daneath didn’t budge, and instead looked down with concern. All the while Beepu continued to push. Daneath then took a breath and stepped off the ledge, causing Beepu to fall on wooden planking outside the cabin.

As I watched, he slowly drifted down towards the opening in the wall below, and he would also sail over the water. Iesa watched his brother and then he also stepped off into the air and drifted slowly down. Beepu turned to look up at me, smiled and just jumped off the edge.

I shrugged and stepped off the wood and into the pit. I stumbled on the edge a moment though and nearly tripped, but the magic took hold and I felt myself slowly sinking in the air. But unlike the others I was heading straight down towards the middle of the water.

“Great,” I said as I realized my mistake. I was resigned to becoming wet but then I heard Iesa say those magic words…

“What the?”

I looked down, and below me I saw the water shimmer, and I could see…something began to form. I could see through it, like a clear pond with just enough ripples so you tell there was water there. but it was growing upwards. I could see some bits of wood as well, rise and hang in the air as a cubed shape of protoplasm took form below me.

That doesn’t look good.

--You think?!?


“Guys, I’m going to need some help here!” I said, my legs were now running, desperate to change my direction to a wall; anywhere but the middle of the cavern where the cube was.

Iesa glared at Beepu, “Told you we needed to use rope,”

“It is not my fault she is clumsy and cannot jump,” Beepu said archly.

“So not the time!” I yelled and I started to cast and throw energy at the object. A purple blast streaked out and struck the translucent foe.

Daneath stepped forward and swung with his sword, carving a slice of goop off. But the cube reacted, extending part of its form to strike the big man’s shield. Daenath then moved into the room, trying to draw the thing into following him, as he moved around the edge of the pool. Meanwhile, Beepu threw another bolt of fire at it, striking and burning a divot in the surface. Iesa in the meantime threw the rope at me and missed. He cursed and quickly pulled it back and prepared to throw it again.

I didn’t want to be the one enveloped by the thing, and I threw more energy at it hoping to hurt it. I tried to find purchase on anything so I could move away from a gelatinous doom, but I was nowhere near a wall or anything beyond the closing pool. Daneath swung again slicing more parts off and was again repelled by the monstrosity’s strike. But he again retreated, and the mindless foe pursued slowly.

This time with a much better toss, Iesa got the rope to my hand, and he pulled me towards him. I clung onto it fearing for my life. I let out my breath my feet hit the ground. I then turned and threw another bolt of energy at it. Meanwhile, Beepu and Daneath both continued to swing with swords and bolts of flame. Daneath connected with it and its form lost cohesion, melting as foul liquids spread into the pool, leaving behind an acrid smell in the air.

“I hope that Ravalan didn’t fall into that thing,” Iesa said as he watched the form melt away.
“I do not think he did.” Beepu said, turning to face the passageway that led deeper, and holding his arm for Foggle to land on.

“Why?” Daneath asked turning to follow the gnomes gaze.

I turned as well to look down the passageway. There were palisades set into the rock, covered with rock and dirt. More importantly was that their orientation was angled in a way that would prevent the cube from drifting down the passage, without tearing itself to pieces.

“Someone set that there after the cube was placed here,” I said.

Beepu nodded “Precisely. And that cube was not here when they dug underneath the cabin. So, someone is very clever. But not wise enough to leave guards behind.

“I suppose we will need to teach them the error of their ways then,” I said with a smile.

As long as you don’t trip again…

--Oh shut up!

Session notes


The aftermath of the goliath part was legendary, considering my rolls on not getting drunk. Not falling into a gelatinous cube...that was pretty bad.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
@HalfOrc HalfBiscuit Done!

Caving for Firbolgs - 10/10/2019

Sigil doesn’t really have caves. It has tunnels and passages underneath the city. A city built up from piles of trash. But not natural caverns.

In fact, the only “cave” you can find is in the Great Gymnasium where one was built to look at like a natural underground spring. But it isn’t a cave either.

But it is amazing what jink can buy.

I flex a moment, and once again light up Daneath’s shield, and the warrior takes the lead, with Iesa, Beepu, and our small menagerie, start our way into the cave. Foggle, drifted ahead, Mo stuck close to Iesa, while Gossamer stayed by my side.

While the room with pool under Ravalan’s cabin was chiseled, the cave we were in seemed natural. The barriers that were set in the passage ahead didn’t prevent us from moving pass them; they clearly were meant to keep the cube in. That cube then was something like a vicious guard dog. A wet, weirdly shaped one, but a guardian nonetheless. And whoever placed it there, had faith that it would take care of others ‘dropping in.’ Complexly misguided thinking, but we were dealing with something a bit smarter than kobolds. The only question was, how much.

Daneath shined the shield, deeper into the depths and we saw that the tunnel was slowly turning to the right. As it was turning, it was also ascending, and as the passage straightened out, we saw another barrier; another palisade with spikes facing us. Unlike the prior one, this one was clearly meant to keep people out, not just large cubes.

Beepu held up his hand and motioned us close.

“Foggle says there is a camp ahead,” he whispered. “Based on the description, it seems to be a pack of goblins.”

“Goblins?” Iesa questioned. “This seems too smart of them?”

“What to dig a tunnel?” Daneath said looking at his brother.

“No, to dig a tunnel to get to Ravalan. I didn’t think they were that smart.”

“They are not. I surmise there is something leading them that is.” Beepu replied.

“So, how many?” I asked.

“Six? No, eight,” Beepu said as he mentally confirmed with Foggle.

“Let’s get past that barrier and hammer them down fast,” I suggested. “Don’t let anyone bolt for help either.”

Iesa nodded, “Are there fires ahead?”

“Yes. About four of them,” Beepu said after a moment.

“Alright, lights out then,” and I dispelled the light. Beepu held Iesa hand, and I guided Daneath’s shoulders towards the barrier, where dim light flickered ahead.

We quietly made our way forward and came to the barrier. It wasn’t very tall, as even Beepu was half a head taller, but it was enough to prevent us from simply stepping over it. Once we reached the barrier, we looked over it to see what lay beyond. Ahead was a simple cave with another passage leading off in the distance. Within the cave were makeshift lean-tos, made of dirty cloth and simple wood sticks. Something to call a ‘roof’ in this cave, and not a real shelter. But we saw their occupants easily enough.

Green skinned, and short as Beepu with mean squinted eyes, and dirty unkempt hair. They lay on straw mats lazily, and without focus. Mining tools were scattered around the room, along with the occasional blade. And while they looked unkempt, their blades looked cared for and sharp. I could see four of them, close to a smoky fire, disinterested on anything going on, and oblivious to the mechanical owl circling above them.

First Iesa and Daneath heaved, and quietly moved the barrier, so that we could pass through easily. Iesa had kept his bow in one hand with an arrow clutched in his teeth, ready to draw and fire in an instant. But it was unneeded as the barrier moved easily and quietly, allowing the big man through, and I closely behind.
Now that we were on the safer side of the fence, we could see that the cavern curved farther to the right in a crescent shape. More flickering from fires came from that side of the chamber as well, and I could see more lean-tos as well, but not the occupants.

Iesa separated from the rest of us and placed himself against the cave wall on the right, and started to move forward, notching the arrow he once held with his teeth. I moved to the left ready to pull on the strand, while Beepu followed Iesa from a distance. Daneath too moved quietly towards the closest fire. More so than I would have expected a Tinman to do.

Hey boss…

--What?

I just noticed there are little openings in the rock all over this room.

--Like passages?

Yes, carved ones.

--Sodding—


Daneath opened with a charge towards quartet of goblins near the fire. He didn’t scream or shout, but I could see the faces of the goblins snap up too late, as the warrior swung his sword at one of them, causing blood to spray the others nearby. Right after that, I heard Iesa let loose his arrow, and it was followed with a solid sound of the metal biting into flesh, and then by a body hitting the floor.

Beepu threw a bolt of fire at another next to Daneath, felling it as fire consumed the small creature. As I watched, another pair emerged from the lean-tos, and charged the big warrior who stood in the open. As they grouped up, they swung wildly at the warrior, not making much headway, as they were turned away by Daneath’s shield and armor. But as they clustered, I smiled at the opportunity.

I pulled a mixture of light and dark strands, and they vibrated and twisted as they tried to pull themselves apart. As I held them longer, the more they fought and strained against the forced pairing. Then I did something new.

I mentally snapped them apart as I looked at the goblins. Suddenly an ear shattering noise erupted from the middle of them, followed by the sound of bones cracking and bodies slumping into a wet heap on the floor.
Daneath stepped back in surprise at the pile of corpses in front of him, and I watched his as head quickly swiveled in my direction. His face said everything in a mixture of surprise and shock. All I could is shrug in response, and I moved deeper into the cave.

Iesa was taking aim at a goblin running towards the main passage ahead and knocked it down with another arrow. He then turned about and started swearing.

“Where did…ah crap!”

“What?” I said.

“Some of them dived into the rock!”

“Beepu watch out behi—” started to say as I turned to look for the gnome. But he had disappeared, once again turning invisible I assumed.

My eyes were searching the wall side, looking for were they could possibly emerge from, as I heard another twang of Iesa’s bow as he struck a straggler leaving a hole, and running to the passage leading deeper. I still was looking for more holes when my thoughts were interrupted.

The gnome has entered one of the passages, and I think he about to engage the--

--What?

Well I see him pouring some water on his ha—

--How can you see that?

Oh, I can see hidden things like that easily.

--That’s—

You should probably focus.

--You and I need to talk later.


And I heard the explosion of ice, and shrieks of pain echoing in the small side tunnels. A moment later, Beepu emerged with a satisfied smirk on his face, and just a hint of frost on his vest. We all looked around, and it was clear that we had felled them all quickly.

I smiled as I looked to Daneath, as he moved to secure the passageway that led out ahead, with Iesa close behind.

“Where did that come from Myrai?” Daneath asked.

“What? You wanted to take them all on?”

“It’s what I do!”

“How about I don’t want to have to pray and fix you up?”

Daneath thought a moment before replying, “Fine, just leave some for me.”

“You know that somehow, you are going to regret that,” Iesa commented.

The passage continued deeper into the rock, but after twenty paces, split and curved towards the right. Looking down the right the passage, it opened up and there was a large lean-to on the side of the wall. But on the left side there was a crude door, or more accurately a piece of wood planking that covered a hole on the side of the passage, just before the passage curved to the right.

We stood at the intersection for a moment considering our options. But we barely stood there for a moment, when the ‘door’ was smashed apart into splinters, and a great hulking figure emerged. It had a hide of dirty brown fur, and a face with large teeth and yellow eyes, filled with hate. In its hands was a great two-handed Morningstar that it swung, and connected with Iesa in the chest, knocking him backwards.
Its bulky form belied its speed and agility as it quickly moved and swung at Iesa again, this time laying him out on the ground unconscious. It turned just in time to knock Daneath’s sword blow away as it howled at the large man. I realized now that we faced a very angry bugbear, as I could see the wide flat nose and the flared ears. I had seen several in Sigil, and I recalled someone once telling me that they were lazy and sneaky. But mostly lazy.

Mostly.

Beepu quickly muttered and cast an incantation, and his bolt of fire narrowly missed the hulking form. I in the mean time rushed over towards the sprawled form of Iesa and knelt. Quickly I pulled on the of the light strands and imagined wrapped them around his wounded chest. His breathing quickly became less ragged and his eyes fluttered open.

Meanwhile, the bugbear and Daneath were locked together in combat. The bugbear’s Morningstar keeping Daneath off balance, but unable to land a solid blow due Daneath’s skilled shield work. Daneath’s normally precise strikes weren’t finding their mark, as the goblinoid was quick on his feet, and not encumbered with a shield. Beepu again threw a blast of fire on it, this time clipping the humanoid. The smell of burnt fur was now in the air.

But it scarcely noticed, as it continued to focus its ire on Daneath. I then pulled a dark strand out and mentally wrapped it around the bugbear and I plucked it. The soft sound of a bell rang, and the bugbear grunted in pain as some of its life left its body. But this distraction was nothing compared to Iesa strike, as he bounded from his seat on the floor and struck the bugbear from behind with his dagger, its blade sinking deep to the hilt. The bugbear staggered a moment, and then collapsed in a lifeless heap on the ground.
“I’m going to see if there is more coming from that passage,” Daneath said, and stepped into the narrow passage that the wood once covered. Quickly the man returned, with a face that clearly said that he had found something unpleasant.

“What did you find?” Iesa asked.

“Privy.” Daneath answered quickly, letting out his held breath and gasping for air. “Nothing else in there.” I then noticed that Daneath was holding his shield close to him, and was actively trying to avoid moving his arm.

“Your shield arm…are you—” I started.

“He pulled my arm down and I think I pulled something. It’ll pass.
Beepu interrupted, “Well that is good news! Come!” and Beepu moved to the leanto nearby.

“Huh? What is—” Iesa asked.

“Foggle found him, I think.”

I realized that I had a hard time tracking the little trio as it was. Foggle must have started scouting ahead while we danced with the bugbear. Looking around, I saw Mo leap back on Iesa’s shoulder, while Gossamer was trailing behind on the ground slinking for cover in the dark of the cave I guessed.

Beepu reached the lean-to first and looked inside, and quickly motioned me over. I ran over and looked over Beepu’s head to see what he had found.

The figure must have been two heads taller than I, if it should upgright. Its skin had a bluish tinge, and it had a shock of grey hair on the top of its head. A large bulbous nose stuck out from the large face, that had signs of bruise, and an eye that was beginning to swell shut. He was gagged, and his arms were bound behind him, as were his legs as he laid unconscious on a mat of straw.

I knelt beside the firbolg and ran my fingers over the bruises on the man’s face. “He’s been beaten pretty badly. He probably needs rest, but this isn’t the place for it.”

“Can you heal him?” Iesa asked.

I nodded, “Yes, but that will be it for me until I get some rest.”

“I don’t think staying here is a good idea.” Daneath said, looking around. “We don’t know if there are more in this cave.”

“Well I do not think we should waste time. Let us do what we need to and leave. Foggle has found the exit.”

“Where is it and is it guarded?” Daneath asked quickly.

“Farther down this passage, and there does not seem to be any guards.”

I lay a hand gently on the firbolg’s head and whispered, pulling the last white strand of energy that I had left. The figure in front of me moaned and his eyes opened slowly, slowly focusing on me. His eyes narrowed as he tried to comprehend where he was, and who Beepu and I were. I reached forward and pulled the cloth from his mouth. Once removed he breathed heavily and spoke.

“Thanks…but who are—”

“They,” and I gestured with my head to the others, “Need your help, so we came to visit you in your cabin.”
He smiled bitterly, “Yes, they made quite mess of my floor. But who are…wait…” and he looked at Beepu closely as I started to undo his bonds.

“You’re Pachook’s son, aren’t you?”

Beepu’s eyes widened. “Yes! Yes, I am. I need your assistance. Or rather we do.” The Gnome spoke excitedly.

“Hey, I know you want to chat Beepu, but we really should get out of here and then talk,” said Iesa still clutching at his chest.

I freed his legs from the bindings, and he started to rub his ankles, relieving the pain he must have felt. “Your friend is right. The others will return from hunting soon. We should leave.”

“If you can walk, let’s move,” Iesa said. Ravalan nodded and stood and we quickly made our way down the passage. We first came to another barricade, but on this one, the spikes faced away from us and towards the outside. Just beyond, was the exit to the cave, and the dim light of the setting sun was visible. We quickly made our way past the barrier and emerged from the rock. We were facing north, and Ravalan spoke.

“The closest place that is safe is an elven watch post. They may not take kindly to strangers, but they aren’t friends of the goblins.”

“Well, we can talk and walk a bit, since it’s the elves we need your help with.

“Oh? How so?” Ravalan asked.

Then we heard in the distance, the howling of a wolf. Then another. Then another.

“We may need to talk and run. Or just run.” Ravalan said, starting to move westward.

“Why?” I asked and as the sounds of the howling got louder, my heart started to sink. “That’s not just a couple of wolves, is it?”

Ravalan shook his head.

“No. Wolfriders.”

Session notes:
This part of the sessions is perhaps my worst set of notes. But that Bugbear was far more problematic than the goblins to be sure.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
@HalfOrc HalfBiscuit - Well sometimes it takes a while for the message conduit to reach its destination. Whether you blame planar time dilation, or just a heavy dose of cold medicine is up to you.

The running - 10/17/2019

The multiverse is full of races and cultures. But even Tieflings would admit that the one that has the biggest impact, is the one you see the least of.

The Elves are ever present, even when they aren’t. The elven perspective is the longest view practical. Elven motifs of leaves and flowers are easily seen in art. Their words and phrases are part of the turns of phrase or lyrics of song.

But as much as we see their impact, we really know nothing about them.

And I suspect, that is just the way they like it.

My lungs burned from the exertion of the run. We ran in the dusk towards the west, towards promised safety. There was no pretense of stealth, just an attempt at speed and distance from our foes. Foes that would be swifter, and hungry for a good fight.

I had heard tales from planewalkers to Acheron; a place of constant battles, where the orc and goblin powers waged eternal war. Even there both kinds had allies, but the best known were goblins and their wolfriders. And ‘wolf’ was really a euphemism for a for more savage beast; worgs. Creatures that were arguably more cunning than their riders, and far more dangerous.

And so, I ran with all I had. I remembered how it felt being in the jaws of a hyena; somehow worg had to be worse. I didn’t want to die in the jaws of another beast.

We were being led by Ravalan who was still in pain as the lumbering giant kin lead us westward. Daneath followed close behind was carrying Beepu at this point so we could cover more ground. Iesa and I ran close behind. Mo had retreated into Iesa pack, while both Gossamer and Foggle flew ahead of is looking for trouble.

So, when the attack finally came, we weren’t quite prepared. The worgs were faster than us, and they had managed to flank us, charging straight into us from our left. One of the worgs crashed straight into Daneath, its jaws locked on one of the warrior’s greaves, throwing him to the ground, while its goblin rider swung wildly at the armored man.

Beepu was flung earthward as well with a dull thump. But he was quick on his feet and cast a quick bolt of fire at the goblin rider, knocking him clear from his saddle. But his smile at that victory was short lived, as another worg came snarling for the gnome. The beasts lunge was clumsy as was his rider, but Beepu was scrambling for safety.

Iesa was more fortunate, as he turned and shot an approaching worg in the chest. It snarled in pain and turned away from him, while its rider leapt from the saddle to swing a sword at Iesa, cutting him across the right arm.

I turned to look at the last worg rider, when I realized that its sights were set for Ravalan, and not me. I watched in horror as the worg leapt forward and clenched its jaws on Ravalans right arm and flung him to the ground on his back. Beepu’s worg dove into the fray and clamped down its jaws on Ravalan’s left arm, and together the pair started to drag the Firbolg off. I quickly plucked at some dark strands and tried to tighten the ghostly hands of death around the worg and its rider, hoping to stop them. But my grip was tenuous at best and did little damage that I could feel.

Daneath smashed the pommel of his sword into the worg fastened to his leg, forcing it to release its grip, and gave chase to the worgs that gripped Ravalan, barely keeping up. Iesa next shot knocked the goblin rider attacking Daneath to the ground, and then he too moved to follow the worgs dragging off Ravalan.
Beepu threw another fiery blast at the nearby worg, scorching its fur and skin on its flank. The malevolent beast howled, and it dove for Beepu. Its jaws found purchase on Beepu’s left arm with a sickening crunch, and Beepu screamed in pain, falling prone.

I didn’t think anymore, as I watched the other worg nearby lunge at Beepu falling form. I just ran straight at the scrum and plucked on the strand. The sound of a bell tolled through the air and dark mist swirled around the two worgs. As I reached the fallen gnome, I was gritting my teeth, ready to feel teeth sink into me again. So, I was unprepared for what happened next.

I first felt the pain in my back, and as I looked down, I saw the blade of a sword protruding from my abdomen. I blinked uncomprehendingly; A blade was sticking out from…me? I could feel the warm blood run down my legs.

My blood.

Everything seemed slow, as I turned and screamed some curse on the goblin. Pulling on the light strands I sent a blast of energy straight into the chest of it, knocking its now lifeless corpse to the ground. I felt the blade slide out of me as it fell, scraping every nerve raw as it withdrew. I kept turning and closed with the worgs standing over the fallen gnome. The worgs both lost focus on Beepu and now were fully focused on me.

I heard more bow shots from Iesa and sword play from Daneath in the distance. But it seemed just that; distant. I stood over Beepu fallen form, swinging my shield back and forth, batting away the jaws of the two worgs as I denied them their prey. I felt anger well within me as I pulled again on the darker strands, and once again the peel of the bell sounded, and the mist swirled.

Again, the worgs circled and assaulted me. My anger was boiling; I couldn’t feel the pain anymore as I swung my shield around me, keeping teeth from finding their mark. I yelled and pulled again at dark strands, and I watched with satisfaction that the eyes of the two worgs glazed over and fell over dead. I then knelt down and poured a small bit of energy into Beepu; I couldn’t heal him right now, but I could keep him from the fugue at least.

I looked then at the brothers. Daneath somehow had kept pace with the worgs and his swings found their mark, with blood spraying the forest floor. Iesa moved quickly and used his bow to finish off the worgs as Daneath savagely wounded them. They were still working the last one when I ran up to them and found Ravalan.

He had lost a lot of blood, from the wounds where the worgs had gripped him. I poured what little power left I had; it was enough to prevent him from visiting the fugue, but not much more than that. Iesa shot again with his bow, and the final worg fell to the ground, and we were again surrounded in silence of the forest.

“Is he? —” Iesa started moving over to Ravalan.

“He’ll live,” I said between clenched teeth as I leaned against a tree.

“Where’s Beepu?” Daneath asked next turning and looking around.

“He’ll live too…he’s on the ground that away,” I said hoarsely. Daneath didn’t even give me a second glance and ran to where I had indicated to find the fallen gnome.

Iesa turned to say something to me when he saw the blood still, pouring from my wound.
“Myr! Oh crap,” and he dropped his pack to the ground and looked for some cloth. “Can’t you fix that?”

I shook my head, “Not…right now. I need rest. How bad is it?”

Iesa knelt down and slowly lifted the chain shirt I wore up and grimaced. “Its not good, a lot of blood. I don’t think the sword hit anything important.” Iesa wrapped some cloth around my midsection.

“Well…If we can rest a bit, I can probably find enough energy to get Ravalan and Beepu moving again,” I said still gritting my teeth in pain.

“What about yourself?”

“It’ll have to wait until we are farther from here.”

“Wait for what?” Daneath asked as he strode carrying Beepu’s unconscious form.

“Myr took a sword in the gut it seems.” Iesa said.

“Well…we need a breather anyway I suppose,” Daneath said. Hopefully when Ravalan comes to we can continue on. Hope where he was headed is close though.”

I didn’t say anything and leaned my head back against the tree in pain. I felt short of breath and a little cold. I knew that I had lost a fair amount of blood and was just on the edge of staying conscious. I closed my eyes and just focused on the pain; unwilling to let my mind drift. It was then that I was interrupted.

Hey, I’m not sure if this is a good time.

--What is it?

There are about six figures approaching you.

--From where?

Well…you are already surrounded, they aren’t goblins though, and they are all armed with bows pointed
towards you.


I straighten up off the tree and looked around. I could see the figures approach as clear as day; they weren’t trying to hide, but they were very quiet. But they might as well been invisible to the brothers eyes.

“So,” I said elevating my voice so I was sure the approaching figures could hear us. “To what do we owe this fine visit?”

The brothers looked at me in surprise and whirled, straining their eyes in the direction I was looking, and the figures stopped suddenly, each of them looking at their peers silently.

“Oh, come on,” I said still gritting my teeth. “Either talk or shoot, lets do without the suspense.”

One of the figures lowered his bow and moved forwards us. I could see the brothers strain to look at the figure in what must have been darkness to them. But what they strained to see, I saw with clarity of peak.
The elf had long coppery hair and green eyes. He moved with surety and an elegant grace that only the elves can do. I turned myself to look at him as he approached and could see that he was assessing us, his eyes flitting from the brothers and I, and barely regarding the fallen Ravalan or Beepu. As if he was judging us. Finally, he spoke in a stilted common.

“What…is your…intent, with Ravalan?” he asked.

“Well, after we heal him, he was going to lead us to an elven watch post.” I said, not making any movements.

“And why would he do this?” he asked intently.

“Probably because it beats being a goblin prisoner,” I said drily. “How long have you been watching us?”

“Since you left the cave.”

“Don’t suppose you could have helped out a bit?”

“We wanted to have…clarity of your intent.”

“Clarity? Really? Two people nearly died, while you looked for ‘clarity.’ Do you have it now?”

The elf stiffened for a second at my rebuke but then calmly replied “We do. We will let you rest and take you to Whitepetal. There we will talk more. But for now, recover your strength, as it is some distance away. And he withdrew back towards his companion. With a quick hand signal the others spread around us and watched the darkness for more intrusions.

“Are these the elves that—” Iesa started with a whisper.

“They have to be,” Daneath whispered back. “But right now, we need to get Ravalan—”

“Its not like the rest of us didn’t spill blood here—” Iesa snapped back.

“I’m bleeding too you know—” came Daneath retort.

Elaght!” I said harshly in a guttural language I rarely used. But the brother’s heads snapped to look at me.

“We’re all hurt here,” I said still breathing raggedly. “But we need to patch up and move.” I stumbled over to the fallen form of Ravalan and reached within to find some remaining energy within me. I found a pair of light strands again, and I pulled on one of them and let the energy flow into the resting Firbolg’s form as I touched him on the chest. I once again felt the rush of energy flare around my spine, as I poured it into the Firbolg. His eyes slowly opened, and he looked at me with surprise as I focused on closing his wounds. Once finished, I didn’t even rise, but crawled to where Daneath had placed Beepu and started to do the same for him.

“Did I imagine those—” I heard Ravalan whisper.

“No, you didn’t,” said Daneath. “She’s not from around here.”

I laid my hand on Beepu’s head and stroked his hair as I pulled on the final Strand within me and let the energy flow into him. Again, the familiar rush along the spine and the energy began to close the wounds on Beepu.

“Owww. What…what happened?” Beepu grunted, his right hand covering his temple as he propped himself on his left.

“The hounds found a fox,” Iesa said grinning.

“That is not funny! I think I understand how Myr feels about hyenas though.”

“Well, I didn’t let them play with their food,” I said as I sat down awkwardly and slumped against a tree. “I’m very…very…”

“Myr! Stay focused!” and Iesa was next to me slapping my cheeks. I wasn’t quite sure why. I just wanted to fall into darkness for a little bit. Why was he hitting me? Is he shouting? At me?

Myrai!

Gossamer’s mental poke got my attention. I shook the fog from my head and blinked.

“I’m here. Help me up.” And I gasped Iesa’ arm as he pulled me to my feet.

“I again thank you for saving me,” Ravalan started slowly. “But why did you seek me out?”
Daneath turned to look at the Firbolg, “To find our father who was travelling with Pachuk—”

“Pa-CHOOK,” Beepu interrupted.

“Pachook. And the last we knew is that they may have come to see Melandrach.” Daneath finished.

Ravalan nodded, “That may be, but I have not seen Pachook in some time. So, I…oh. You need to talk to Melandrach…and you wanted to use me to reach him.”

“I think ‘ask for your help’ is a better phrase than ‘use,’” I said still wincing in pain in between breaths.
“I…will speak to Melandrach about this. But I cannot promise anything more. It seems such a small thing, compared to saving my life.” The Firbolg said, his eyes knotted together in puzzlement.

“So…why did they dig a tunnel to get to you?” Iesa asked. “I mean, that’s a bit of work just to get to you.”
Ravalan frowned a moment and the said “I am not sure. There was a woman who asked some questions, but she left a bit ago and had not returned. But most of the questions were on landmarks. Like they were looking for something.”

We said nothing further, when the leader of the elven band approached and spoke with that strange stern tone, “If you are ready to travel, we should do so.”

“What’s the problem?” Iesa asked, picking up on the tone.

“More will be discussed at Whitepetal, but the goblins are on the move. Lingering here is not safe.”

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

I nodded, “I don’t want to wait longer here. Let’s bolt.”

------

The journey wasn’t long, or so I was told. To me it was an agonizing grind. Every breath was pain. Every step was pain. Even thinking about it was painful. Being able to see clearly as we approached anti-peak made it easier, and the elves knew their lands well. But the path chosen was about speed and not about comfort.

I plodded on, occasionally steadied by Iesa, while Ravalan carried Beepu. This allowed Daneath, who had only managed a couple of scrapes in the earlier battles, to be our defender if the need arose. I by comparison felt to be a burden. I didn’t want help…but I needed it. And so, I swam in these thoughts of inadequacy for many miles until we reached “Whitepetal.”

When we arrived, I didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until a platform descended from above, did I realize that we had been walking underneath the outpost for some time. But that was nothing compared to when the platform I rode, met with the branches above.

It was close to Anti-peak now, and below on the forest floor, it was dark enough that the brothers needed some assistance maneuvering on the trail. But once the platform carried us all above the branches, it was apparent that the lights that lit the catwalks, bridges and structures built around the trunks of the tree, were all hidden from below. Here among the branches, were planking that led into a maze of trails above the forest floor. The elven woodwork was functional and blended seamlessly with the trees that supported it.
I had never seen the like. Elves and their culture were not frequent travelers to the City of Doors. Whatever the reason, the City rarely showed any outward signs of their art or aesthetic. The closest I had ever been was the one time I visited Arborea. There in the Gilded Hall of the Sensates, there was a terrace that looked over the vast forest of that plane. In the distance was visible the realm of the Seldarine; the elven powers. You could see trees that towered over already towering trees. You couldn’t see any detail, but there was the beautiful synthesis of crystal, trees and light. But we were warned not to try to go there, because the Elven powers did not take well to outsiders coming to gawk like a clueless prime.

But now I was up close to the foundation of that realm; the patience and skill to blend craft with graft. The work was impressive. No, it was beautiful, in its simplicity and grace. It didn’t need the adornment of leaf motifs carved into the wood; the natural whorls were all that was needed. To add more would diminish it.
In this new world I was gently escorted to a room, suspended between three branches of a tree. The room had several lounges that circled around a low central table. A young elven girl entered the room, carrying with her some fruits, cups and several bottles of fine colored glass on the table. She bowed and quickly exited. As I sat down on the lounge, I winced in pain, I realized that a pair of guards stood outside the room, and that somewhere along paths, Ravalan was separated from us.

Daneath noticed the guards as well as he leaned against the wall, rather than sit; “So, we are prisoners?”

“Of course not!” Beepu said archly.

“Beepu’s right. If we were, they would have disarmed us,” Iesa commented, and flopped upon a lounge.

“What’s in the bottles Beepu?” I asked.

The gnome frowned and moved the tray to him and unstopped the tops of the bottles and
inhaled deeply
.
“Water, wine, and some type of liquor. Probably a brandy,” he said.

“Bring me the brandy,” I said and held out my hand, to which Beepu swiftly delivered the bottle to.
I removed the stopper and set it down, and took a pull straight from the bottle. The fiery liquid was wonderful, burning and warming my throat, with the taste of honey and florals on the tongue. But after swallowing the it, I then pulled up my chain, and as I lay back, poured some of the brandy on my open wound.

I winced in pain, and with great difficultly gave the bottle back to Beepu, while I writhed in pain.

“Myr, I thought you could—”

“I need rest, and I don’t want rot to set in that I can’t fix. I can hold out for a while.” I said in between heavy breathes. Then I focused on using my magic to clear my self up and look presentable. Had cleaned up the mess on the lounge and most of the blood off of my armor, when a pair of elves entered the room.

A male and female entered the room and looked us over with an indifferent look. Then the female spoke.

“You are welcome here in Whitepetal. We understand why you are here.” She intoned softly and assuredly. She at each of us, lingering a moment or two before moving to the next. She then spoke again

“You require an…audience with our liege,” and she left it hang on the hair as she looked us each over again.

“We require your assistance…in exchange.”

Session notes:

This is not the best set of notes I have from the game. Annoyingly enough the names of elves are missing, as I had a habit of using nicknames.

We did take a bit of damage, and the was the first time that Myrai took any major damage by standing in the middle of melee. But as it seems worgs can’t roll at all to hit.
But goblins seem to roll 20’s. go figure.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Fifteen Birds… 10/24/2019

Families can create such strong bonds, that their impression can be felt just by watching them interact. The subtle motions, touches, smiles, phrases all are the mark of kinship.

So, watching the elves, you realize they are all kin to each other, that they all recognize one another as family. One bound together through not decades, but centuries.

It’s so strong, that makes us without families that ache with a longing unmatched by our own loneliness. And more than just a tad envious.

“I am Alanathia Goldenmoor,” the elven woman introduced herself. She was short for an elf, perhaps shorter than I by half a head. Her hair were braided cornrows of copper, and her eyes a brilliant blue. She was dressed in a finely crafted leather tunic, stained maroon with leaf patterns through out. A long sword was at her hip, and her legs were bare until they reached soft boots rising to mid-calf. She was striking, and I was certain that Iesa would make a move to try to know her more, later this evening if he could help it.

“This is my kin, Galenas,” and she nodded her head to a male elf, who in many ways was a mirror image of herself. The same style of hair, the same eyes. Even the tunic, the lack of leggings and tall soft boots. But where she was lithe and almost delicate, he had the lean hard muscles of a skirmisher; someone who would hit fast and hard.

She walked forward and looked at each of our band, one by one. “You are the brothers, Iesa and Daneath, the gnome Beepu, son of beloved Pachook, and the ha-celas Myrai.”

The last part caught my ear. It was a phrase I had heard from some half-elves in Sigil. The word was elven and meant roughly ‘kin of angels,’ the elven word for Aasimar. I had been here for now sixty days, and it was the first time that I could remember being recognized for what I am, and not a strange looking human. She then continued, interrupting my thoughts.

“You seem to be severely wounded; do you require aid…Myrai?”

I stumbled a bit in my reply, “I will be able to manage for now…but I could use some help later this evening.”
Alanathia nodded, and then sat down on open lounge while Galenas stood by the door and continued.

“Ravalan has told us what had happened, and your timely aid. We are grateful for what you have done for our friend. He has also told us that you seek to speak to Melandrach himself—"

“Yes! Yes!” Beepu interrupted. “My father was a friend of Melandrach, and we would simply—”

Alanathia raise her hand and looked at Beepu and he fell silent. “We understand who you claim to be. And so, we recognize your claim while we inquire on its truth. But to see our liege will take more; being a son of a friend is not enough.”

“What? You don’t believe us?” Iesa said angrily.

“Many humans have lied before, as they took things that did not belong to them from this forest,” Galenas intoned. “It is because you aided Ravalan, that you are here. But that does not alone prove the worthiness of the son, compared to the father.”

“So, we should be thanking you…for our lives then,” Daneath spoke flintily, his eyes narrowed.
Alanathia smiled, “No. You had not despoiled the forest; you would have been given thanks for killing the goblins and sent on your way. We do not cull life without need. But to have the honor to talk to our liege, you must demonstrate your quality.”

“And you have something specific in mind,” I said from my lounge, listening to the dance of words. It was clear they saw something in us; opportunity perhaps. But it was more than that. The way their gazes watched each of us; measuring our reactions and listening with great care. It was a test of sorts.

“Perceptive. The goblins you have encountered are a recent incursion. They are led by a hobgoblin warlord who’s title we have heard only in whispers. What concerns us is that they are searching for old ruins harking back to ancient Ilefarn.”

“What are they looking for?” Daneath asked.

“It is not clear. The one scout we questioned said that this self-titled ‘Prophesized One’ is looking for a holy site. They have taken control of several locations on the forest edge. But most concerning to us, is that an ancient temple ruin has been seized by them. We had long ago ceded care of this ruin to the Highborn. But the Highborn have all but disappeared.”

“What’s a ‘Highborn’? Is that a…group of elves?” Iesa asked.

“No; the Highborn, like the elves, came from the Feywild long ago. To most, they look like stags with an elven torso, their heads crested with horns.” They are friends to us, but they prefer the deep wilds, and even the trappings of elven towns they find discomforting.”

“So, what do you want us to do about these hobgoblins?” I asked.

“We do not know what the danger they represent is. We want you to find out and address if possible and inform if not.” the elf replied.

“More delays! How are we going to catch up to my father with delays such as this!”

“Easy Beepu—” Daneath started.

“Do not ‘Easy Beepu’ me Daneath. I did not just get chewed up by worgs, just to go goblin hunting!” Beepu spat.

“Beepu really you—” Iesa started.

“Do not start on this as well! You alone cost us time with that Roggins character!”

“Somehow, I bet your father aided these elves before, “ I remarked quietly, as I looked at Beepu with an open expression.

He met my eyes with a dark gaze, and then after a moment it softened. “No. You are right. My father would have helped without arguing as much. Forgive me for my outburst.”

“I am certain that your…exhaustion from your efforts this evening is the cause. Perhaps some rest is in order. We can discuss the details at first light,” Alanathia commented with a small smile. “Places for you to rest have been prepared.” She then clapped her hands once, and Galenas motioned us outside. Along the walkway strung above the forest floor, several elves had gathered. A male elf motioned to the brothers and guided them towards larger group of structures to what I thought was the eastern side of the outpost. A slightly younger one with smiles, took Beepu to a smaller cluster to the west. Finally, a young female elf motioned me to follow her northwards.

She led me along the walkways, and I noticed that the farther we travelled that the higher the elevation rose. Eventually, we came to a smaller hut like structure, that was nestled at the top of a large oak. Unlike the others lower down, the walkway around this one was open to the sky; and the moon and stars above were visible.

The elf stood at the side of the structure, and her left hand motioned me to enter. Inside, the room was already lit with candles and the scent of spice was in the air; mints, pine and clove I could quickly pick out. Gossamer, who had been silently lurking behind, ran forward, and then flitted to and landed on a shelf within and watched us lazily.

“Alanthia has instructed us, to be of assistance if you require anything.”

“Thank you, and I do need some help. But what is your name?”

The elf blinked in surprise, “I…you may address me as Morlea. What did you require?”

“I need some help removing my armor. I don’t want to reinjure myself in the process.”

“You…you are injured? I should fetch the healer—” and she started to leave.

“No please,” and I gently grasped her hand. “I can…heal myself. But I need to see how badly I am hurt first.”
She looked at me uncertainly, and then she relaxed and looked me over nervously. “How did you…”
I smiled as I unbuckled my rapier belt and hung it on a chair back that sat next to a table. “There are three buckles underneath the right arm that holds the chain shirt to me. Once undone, you can help me lift the shirt over my head.”

She nodded, and I raised my right arm upwards, as I held my left arm close to the wound on my torso and I felt her hands work the buckles deftly. After releasing them, I bend forward, and she helped peel off the chain shirt, which we laid on the nearby table.

As she did, I watched her trace the rent in the shirt where the chain links had been split apart by the sword thrust, and I watched her turn to look at my thin padded gambeson underneath. It was only now that she could see how much blood had been spilled. The gambeson was once, a dark blue color. Now the blood soaked into the cloth, darkened it to nearly black in a wide swath around the rips in the quilting.

She moved forward and undid the front lacings of the gambeson, and she gently held it as I peeled the cloth away from my skin. The blood had mostly dried, and but it had bonded my skin and cloth together and I grimaced as it peeled away, leaving only my muslin halter covering me. I held the wound on my left side and turned my back to Gossamer.

I closed my eyes and pulled on a single strand that connected me to Gossamer, and in a moment, I was looking from Gossamer’s eyes at the injury from his perch on the shelf.
From that view, it appeared that I was very fortunate. A bit closer to the spine, and I knew that there would be some major vitals that could have been struck. But it still looked terrible based on the amount of blood that stained my skin below my halter, and probably soaked my leathers and small clothes.

I switched my senses back, and was looking at the elven woman, who was looking me over with concern. I could tell that her lack of recoil from the blood, that violence wasn’t a stranger here. But I did notice her hands were shivering a bit and her breathing was a bit quicker. Her eyes looked me over uncertainly, as I stood there in my leather breeches, and the thin muslin top, both covered in dried blood.

“Is something the matter, Morlea?”

“I…I am sorry. But I have never seen a ha-celas. I did…I did not know what to expect,”

“Beyond the hair and eyes?”

Ha-celas are said to be each unique. Some are said to have…”

“Feathers,” I chuckled, “Some have been known to have them. Usually on the forearm, or on the shoulder blades. Sorry, I don’t have any. Well not real ones.”

“Real ones?”

“Well, now that I have seen how bad the goblin stuck me and I have had enough rest…” and I grasped my medallion with my right hand and reached within for a bright strand of light. Pulling on it and pulling warmth from it as I touched my abdomen with my left, I pushed the warmth into myself. I could feel the energy spread through me, and I felt the layers of tissue mend, and then finally the wound close. All the while I could feel some of the light and warmth spread along my spine.

Morlea eyes were like saucers as she watched the display. I stretched my arms upwards and twisted at the waist. The pain had receded, and the stiffness was now temporary.

“Thank you for your help again; I didn’t want to tear it open before I looked at it and closed the wound.”

“Of…of course. Is there anything else you require?”

“Some brandy would be nice, as I have a lot to clean up before I retire.”

“Certainly; you should find a robe in the chest there,” and she left, closing the light wooden door behind her.
By the time she returned with a decanter, I had removed my other weapons, armor and small clothes and laid them on the table. I sat in the chair, wrapped in the fine silken robe and was busy alternating between cleaning the stains of dirt, blood and grim from my things, and the slower work of mending. The gambeson was quick to fix and clean, as was the leather. But the chain rings in my armor took more time.

The chain shirt had a simple pattern to it, but I had to place each link in place by hand as I mended it with some light and dark strands to rebind the metal. Otherwise I risked fixing the rings but leaving gaps behind. I was focused on the work, when Morlea returned with the brandy. She entered and placed the tray onto a smaller table near the lounge. She then turned to look at the results of my cleaning and repair efforts.

“You have some skill with the Weave. The blood and damage are nearly gone.”

“Some. Enough to almost ignore what a bath feels like.” And I turned and with a quick motion, pulled the strand into reality in the shape of a feminine ghostly hand. It pulled the glass stopper and seeing the multiple glasses, poured some of the liquor into a pair. I then picked up the pair and offered her one of them, again, surprising her.

“Please, a small drink with me under the stars. It’s a poor thank you for the bloody mess I asked you to help me with.” Morlea took the glass, and I stepped outside into the cool breeze.

The moon Selune was overhead almost full, and stars twinkled in the clear sky above. Morlea followed and we both took sips of the strong drink. Here the wind moved through the branches and leaves in the tree, bringing fresh smells of wood and greenery, while the taste of tannin, vanilla and cherries danced on my tongue as I swallowed the brandy from my glass.

Morlea sipped and looked at me indecisively; on the cusp of a statement or question. Finally, after taking some more liquid courage she finally asked her question.

“I am sorry to be so brazen…but what makes ha-celas different?”

“Different? From…what? Humans?”

She nodded and looked at me, into my eyes. Or perhaps at herself in my eyes. I thought a moment.
“We are far from common, so no two of us are alike. We…supposedly live longer. We can see in the dark like elves. We can manifest some sorts of magic involving light and other things. And most…pay attention to what we say and do. And…many have a connection to…the one that started their line.” And I took a sip from my glass.

“But, the…celas…the angels are creatures of belief; they are a part of the ordering of the multiverse. But we…we have free will. We can choose our actions and our destiny. To do good or ill, to do great things or terrible. In that way we are just like humans. But everyone notices when we do something or even just say something. We attract all sorts of attention, wanted or not.

“So, let me ask you…what makes elves different from half-elves?” and I watched as Morlea looked at me quizzically. “Where I come from, half-elves are very common but true elves are rare.”

Morlea considered for a moment, “It is interesting to think of it that way. That if half-elves are what you know, then elves are the ones that are different. There are few half-elves in this forest as contact between human and elf is normally…discouraged. But I would say that we are more patient. Less concerned about the flow of time passing us by. We prefer a lifelong friend, compared to twelve human lifetimes worth of friends in a row. And we trance, as half-elves still sleep and visit the realms of dreams.”

I smile wistfully at that, “Well I admit that I would give a lot never to sleep again…or at least dream.”

Morlea looked at me perplexed, “You do not wish to dream?”

I stared into my glass a moment before replying, “I don’t remember most of my dreams. I only remember the nightmares. And I have far too many of them.”

It was quiet for a several moments as we sipped our drinks; feeling the wind and the soft sounds of the forest. Finally, I had drained the last of my glass, and turned to Morlea.

“Thank you again. I unfortunately do need to sleep and rest. Perhaps we can talk again in the morning before my friends and I leave.”

Morlea nodded, “May you…rest well this eve. Peace.” And she returned the empty glass to my hand, smiled and turned to walk down the walkway, deeper into Whitepetal.

I was intrigued by the elves. Before today, I am not sure I really had more than a handful of words with one before. But the even calm, almost serene nature of Morlea was interesting to me. I knew that she was young, yet she could have easily been a hundred years my senior. I chuckled at the thought of living so long; as a Sensate, could I ever get bored? The time to truly experience everything in depth and not rush to the next thing. I hoped that we would have more time with them after solving the problems that the goblins were causing.

I walked back into the hut structure that I was staying and looked around. I realized that the elves had no reason for true beds but must have reclined down on the lounges instead to ‘trance.’ I curled up on one and pulled my cloak over me and waited for the alcohol to wash me away into slumber. Hopefully a slumber without dreams.

I didn’t remember any dreams.

But instead I woke into a nightmare.

I awoke coughing, and my eyes watering. My room was filled with the smell of pitch and smoke, and I could hear screams of fear outside. I rolled off the lounge and onto my knees and crawled to the door where my shield lay, as I fastened my cloak around me.

Goss! What’s going on.

--I was about to wake you. The screams started, then the smoke.

I’m going to leave here, fly up and tell me what you can see.


Putting my back against the wood, I pulled my rapier belt around me and wrapped it around the robe I was wearing. I pulled my shield onto my arms, and with a quick deep breath, I threw open the door, and stepped outside, feeling ill-dressed for the occasion.

The outside was a stark contrast to what I last remembered. Many of the tree tops were aflame, as were the ropes along the walkways. I expected to see panicking elves running around, trying to douse the fires. What I saw instead was worse.

Just a stone throw from me I saw a pair of elves with blades drawn and trading blows with large armored humanoids. They swung with precision that only came with practice, as I watched one of them cut down an elf, and his partner smash his shield into a second one. The elf swung his blade, cutting deeply into the side of one, only to be laid low by a sword thrust, by his remaining partner.

I pulled at the light strand and threw a bolt of purple energy at the standing one knocking it down, and I ran over to the fallen elves. The first one I reached was beyond any hope of me saving, but the other was still breathing in shallow ragged breaths. I pulled a bit of the strand into him, so he would survive. I then looked at the one I had killed. His features were more bestial, and his body was bigger and stronger than a human. It had the narrow eyes and heavy brow, similar to the goblins we had fought before. I was certain, it was a hobgoblin.

It’s a hobgoblin attack! Can you see our friends?

--No, the smoke is worse up here. I can see more movement in the center of Whitepetal, and more movement beyond to the south, but not particulars.


I stood and made my way to the center of the outpost, and I saw more fighting. Elves fought against more of the hobgoblins on the bridges and walkways. I could hear the twangs of bows in the distance, and even saw a hobgoblin fall to the earth, tripping over some rope banisters with a lengthy scream.

Pulling on the dark strands, I threw dark miasmas around another pair of marauders, but not before they killed the elves they had been facing. Before I could do anything, I saw a bolt of fire streak out from a building, bringing another one down in a pile of screams and flame.

Its partner charged towards where the bolt came from, but I threw another purple bolt, striking it in the back as it ran towards the open doorway, where Beepu stood. I moved again towards the fallen elves, only to find that their lives had already left their bodies.

In the distance I could heard Daneath’s shouts, and the sound of a shield striking a blow and the scream of a hobgoblin, descending and cutting off into sudden silence. The smoke and haze from the flames made it hard to see where he and others were fighting. I covered my mouth and nose, as tears streamed down from my eyes from the stinging smoke.

Beepu circled on his platform and threw more bolts of fire at targets away from him. Daneath was still lost to me in the smoke and haze. Finally, I saw Iesa trading blows with a female hobgoblin with his rapier in one hand, and his dagger in the other. The female had the lithe figure of an elf woman over one shoulder. But this didn’t hinder the hobgoblin in the slightest as I watched the hobgoblin deflected some of Iesa’s strikes and dodged the others barehanded.

Then I watched her spin and level a kick to Iesa’s head, almost knocking him over. The female then turned and dove off the ledge into the dark smoke that now covered the forest floor. All still with an unconscious figure draped over her shoulder.

I watched Iesa look around himself frantically. Finally, he found a rope that he fastened onto a spar of wood, and he too slid below.

Goss! Follow Iesa!

--Gotcha…he’s the one with little brown—

GOSS!

--Going!


I made my way towards Beepu and finally shouted at him, “Did you see any others?”
The gnome shook his head, “No! Most of the elves are south of here, the few warriors died as the others retreated. However, I have not seen any more hobgoblins around either.”

“Iesa just jumped down chasing a hobgoblin,” I said.

“What? Alone? The fool will get himself killed,” Beepu said with a look of incredulity.

“Over here! Help!” I heard Daneath call out and turning to follow his voice I found him. He was trying to clear a doorway to a central structure in the middle of a trunk of a tree. A makeshift barrier was seemly placed there, to keep the occupants trapped inside, with fire spreading fast. I ran over and concentrated for a moment, imagining a light strand being spread out over the flames.

A quick shower of water appeared and extinguished the fires. Daneath then wrested open the door as Beepu moved debris and several elves emerged from the from where they were barricaded into. Each with the harrowed look of escaping a fiery death.

As we looked around, the sounds of fighting had died, but not the roaring of flames or screaming. We made our way through the smoke and haze and started to save who we could.

It was grisly business. For everyone I could find clinging to life, there were two others who had passed into the fugue. I wandered the night in the trees, putting out large blazes, and saving what fallen I could. Daneath and Beepu did in different ways; from freeing trapped elves, to Beepu using Foggle to reunite families. But I was searching for not just anyone. I was searching for one person.

It was late when I finally found Morlea. Most of the fires had been put out, and most of my strength already spent. I found her in a small hut that jutted out from one side of a trunk of a tree. Inside it was full of choking smoke, which was slowly clearing. I breathed a sigh of relief, as she appeared to be curled up unconscious on the floor. But then I saw that her chest lay still, and I reached out with my hand to find the warmth had already left her now cool skin.

I sat down on the floor next to her and pulled her lifeless body on my lap and I cradled her in my arms. I looked at her soot stained face and my tears poured from my cheeks, which streaked down her face washing away ash. I stroked her hair and closed her eyes one final time. Her face was at peace, as if dreaming. Dreaming of the next life or what ever lay beyond the fugue for the elven kind. A dream she never would have had before this night.

I sobbed there quietly in the darkness. Life could be harsh, and death was a final respite. A relief from the toils of pain and suffering. But for those who died before the fullness of time; by violence or accident we could take solace that they knew peace. We the faithful should help the living carry on and learn from those that passed beyond.

Words I believed in. But in this moment the words felt hollow. I had barely known this woman. I shared a moment and a drink with her in peace and friendship. I wanted to learn more from her and share with her things I knew and had learned. But the opportunity was gone, and now she would carry on that peace alone into the fugue.

And I would carry her memory of that moment alone.

Why?

We were only here, because we sought two fathers. Not even my own father, who the multiverse had not so subtly told me to leave well enough alone. And yet, I wondered if this was all for the mazes. It seemed unfair…no wrong that looking for two men should have such a high body count of innocents. It was like the multiverse had a vindictive streak against the four of us.

The dead are supposed to teach us about living. What was the lesson here?

I had no answers to my questions as I sat there alone on the floor with my grief in the night. All I could do was cry, hoping my tears would wash away the pain. But as I sat there, I slowly felt something else. An ember, now sparking and sputtering to life within me.

A flame of hate.

Session notes: I did not like the last encounter. Not because it wasn’t well run, or fun or challenging. But because of the stakes of innocents were added in. It made the game feel bit grittier. But there was an emotional component to it that was unpleasant, because it wasn’t meant to be.

So, I admired it. I didn’t like feeling it.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Quarry - 10/29/2019

Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear. All describe cruel creatures who believe in their own sets of rules and expected all others to follow them. Order matters; their rules matter.

Pike that. There are some fundamental laws, not rules that I follow set down by my power. You don’t live past your time, you honor the dead, and help those to cross over when they need.

Nowhere does that include, sacking, pillaging, murdering. But that’s what happens anyway.

My tears had dried some time ago, and Morlea’s ashen face was streaked with their trails. I awkwardly stood, cradling her lifeless body in my arms. I walked back out in the mornings darkness and looked around on the walkways. It wasn’t hard to find what I was looking for; elves carrying their dead kin.

They were solemnly moving them towards the western edge of Whitepetal. As I moved and followed them, they quietly and gracefully, laid their dead, around a tree near one of the platforms. As I approached, a pair of elves saw me, and hurried over to take Morlea from me. Their faces each wore sorrowful looks as they relieved me of my burden, with a phrase which I took as thanks; ‘Diola lle Ha-Celas.’

I nodded silently and stared too long at the pile of corpses there. Twenty? Thirty? Too many. Some drenched in blood, others burned, and others like Morlea, seemly untouched, but cold and dead all the same. I turned away and started to head back to where I was resting before this waking nightmare started.

I needed my things. I needed my Apocrypha. I needed to prepare. As I threaded my way across the walkways, I heard the sounds of boots behind me, rushing to get next to me.

“Myr? Are you alright?” Daneath said.

I stopped and turned to look at the warrior. He was dressed only in hose, and a light tunic, with his shield and sword in hand. He looked tired, and covered in blood, that was clearly not his own.

“No.” I said simply. And before Daneath could speak again I asked him, “Have you seen Iesa or Beepu?”

“Beepu is with Galenas right now and send me to find you. I don’t know where Iesa is.”

“Get your things, find your brother, and meet me where you left Beepu.” I said in a level tone.

Daneath looked at me a moment and was about to say something but checked himself and nodded. He turned and I could barely hear him say, “Yeah. Right. Sure.”

I continued toward the room in the trees where I was going to be staying. Along the way I concentrated on the strand that I used with Gossamer. It was there but very faint.

Once I reached the room, I focused on that strand and then suddenly pulled on it. In a moment, Gossamer appeared, looking around confused.

What the? Oh! Hi.

--Did you find him?

I did, but it took a while. He took a beating and was barely conscious. He had just awoken and was about to walk back when…Well, I’m sure he will just follow Mo.


I entered the hut, with Gossamer in tow, and I slammed the door shut. Dropping my rapier and belt back on the chair and dropping my shield on the floor, I stripped off the robe, and pulled off my boots. I quickly focused on myself with a white strand and stripped away the blood and soot. Once done, I started to dress and armor myself.

So…what now?

--Talk to Galenas. Get the others. Then find the bastards that did this.

And then what?

--Send them in for judgement.

Oh. I…see.


Gossamer was quiet after that. He sat on the nearby shelf and looked at me with his yellow eyes, unblinking at me. Finally, I fastened the last strap, and grabbed my shield, and sword belt and threw open the door. I headed back towards the center of Whitepetal, looking for the others.

It wasn’t hard to find, as I could hear the gnome practically shouting, when I entered the hut where we first met Alanthia and Galenas. Inside a fully armored Daneath was wrapping a linen cloth around Iesa’s head, who had his things in a bundle in front of him. Meanwhile, Beepu was standing on a chair and was gesticulating widely at a expressionless Galenas.

“So, we must move at once!” Beepu shouted.

“We have lost many of our warriors last night, and our numbers have been lessened by raids on our patrols. I cannot afford to, as much as I wish I could.” Galenas said with an angered edge on his voice.

“You have a responsibility to—”

“My responsibility is the safety of Whitepetal! If we leave with any significant force, it could be overrun by other goblins.”

“A good offense wins battles!”

“And we are not positioned to be a good offense. We are barely a middling defense.”

“Wait,” Iesa piped up and stood, moving towards Galenas, “You mean you would leave your own in the hands of—”

“Not by choice!” Galenas retorted. “But I cannot risk saving her and leave Whitepetal undefended.

“Wait…who are we…Alanathia?” I interjected.

Iesa nodded. “That female hobgoblin ran off with Alanathia over her shoulder. I tried to stop her, but…she packs a mean punch.”

Galenas sighed before speaking, “I…thank you for trying. In fact, all of you for helping. Things would be worse if you had not been here.”

I thought a moment and then realized something. “You don’t have the numbers to defend Whitepetal at all do you?”

Galenas looked at me and sighed, “Barely. We need more warriors here. We can hold here if I recall all patrols. But that means we can’t track where the hobgoblins are.”

“And you can’t retreat from here because?” I pressed.

He sighed again, “This place guards the primary path to our…what you would call a capitol. There isn’t another defensible location closer. Leaving here, leaves us exposed.”

“Send for more men…er elves,”

“We already have! I had a small group leave and take Ravalan with them last night with that message. Ravalan was going to convince Melandrach on the need for more here. But it will take days for that meeting and for reinforcements to arrive. And until they do, we cannot do anything.”

“Where did they take Alanathia?” I continued pressing.

“This female hobgoblin that Iesa fought is known to us, and we believe she has made herself home in a quarry, north of here.”

“Quarry? Did elves mine?” Daneath asked surprised.

“No. It too dates back to Illefarn, and it was run by dwarves at the time. It has been abandoned for the most part by civilized beings.”

“Can you give us directions?” I asked.

“Wait a second Myrai…we haven’t decided any—” Daneath started.

“Did you want to see your father?” I asked bluntly.

“Well…yes,” Daneath replied slowly.

“Iesa? You?”

Daneath’s brother nodded in agreement, “Yeah.”

I looked at Beepu, “Do I need to ask?”

“Of course not. But—”

“Then, why are you arguing? Get your things together.” I said and turned to Galenas. “Where is the quarry?”

“I will have a map drawn up for you. And…you have my thanks.”

I nodded and turned on my heel and headed back outside. I heard Daneath follow me.

“Myr…stop a moment.”

I stopped, turned to look at him and waited.

“Look, shouldn’t we talk about this?”

I cocked my head and I know I knitted my eyebrows together.

“Talk about what?”

“I mean taking on what, an army of hobgoblins isn’t what I planned to—”

“Planned? What of any of this was planned? Saving Ravalan? Or perhaps the musties in Flint Rock? The Waterbaroness and her party? My…death? Was THAT planned?”

“Myr…that’s not what—”

“And it doesn’t matter now. Blood has been spilled. And even more is going to be spilled.”

“But is—”

“And it sure in Baator isn’t going to be mine. So, get your gelbas together, and find me down below when you are ready.”

Daneath stared at me a moment, stunned. Finally, he looked down at the walkway we both stood on and nodded.

“Right. I guess I’ll get the others. Wait, where are you going?” he asked realizing I was heading somewhere.

“Down, to pay final respects.”

--

The grove wasn’t far from the outpost. It was a wild tangle of old growth oak and pine. Around the forest floor, it was choked in brush and ground cover. Yet, the elves carefully had groomed or perhaps encouraged it to create the myriad of paths that existed within the growth. The paths wandered without pattern, vines and shoots creating smaller canopies beneath the great tree in the center. I wasn’t familiar with what kind of tree it was, its upper branches created a broad canopy above the grove, but it was covered in flowers that hung from tendrils from the canopy above. White flowers, that gave the nearby outpost its name: ‘Whitepetal.’

But today the efforts weren’t spent within, but without. They had quickly interred their dead, and upon each placed a new seedling. As I searched for where they would place Morlea, I noticed something. There was little ritual about the bodies. They were gentle and graceful, on how they handled the corpses certainly. But no prayers, no offerings to their souls.

I remembered that would be something done in private; with kin and friends. I doubted that in this community of elves that I would be considered a friend, for a single night of small talk. Yet, I was determined to pay my respects in the way my Lord would want me to.

They had not yet interred her when I found where she was to be planted with a sapling. A druid was near, and I watched her use the same spell that I used on Roggins; if a little more on point on what it was meant for. She had finished burying a fallen elf when she noticed my presence. She then spoke to me, haltingly in the common tongue.

“Child, why have you come…here?”

“I am but a servant of the Lord of the Dead,” and I gestured to my holy symbol I wore. “And this elf…Morlea aided me. I wish to…pay my respects and pray her soul to the proper afterlife.”

The druid considered and nodded but stood and watched me with an expression on her face that I could not read.

I knelt on the ground, and pulled a strip of cloth from my pouch, along with two greenies. I looked at Morlea, who lay in the earth, wearing only a muslin underdress and an expression of peace on her face. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, and her arms crossed in front of her.

I took a greenie, and kissed it, placing the coin on her right eye, and I repeated it with the second coin her left. Then I bound the cloth, so the coins would stay in place. As I did so, I chanted a prayer to Kelemvor, to help her soul find its way beyond:

No one should be alone, in life or death,

Death is a part of life, not an ending but a beginning

Death is without deceit and has meaning,

May your soul find its way to Arvandor,

And gaze from the Overlook, in the Cresent Grove,

May your kin guide you on the next step of your journey,

Because Death is never an end, but a waypost,

Not a destination, but a Journey,

The memory of your deeds will live forever in us,

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

May Death grant you peace.


When I had finished, I watched the earth churn, and I saw Morlea for the last time, sinking beneath the loam to sleep forever. The druid stepped forward, and planted a sapling in the loose earth, before regarding me again.

“You spoke of ‘Overlook’ and the ‘Cresent Grove.’ Who taught you of these places?” She asked with a guarded curiosity.

“They are places sacred to the Seldarine, and I know them because I saw them from a distance in the Gilded Hall in Aborea.”

“You…saw?”

I nodded. “We were told not to cross into Arvandor; it is a place for elven spirits, not mortals. But you still could see the wonder in the distance,” I said remembering a time five years ago. “I’m going to pray a bit and wait for my friends. Thank you.”

The druid nodded and moved on to others waiting their turn for burial, leaving me to my thoughts. My bowed and eyes closed I cast my thoughts to wherever my Lord could hear me.

--Long ago, I thought avoiding untimely deaths meant healing and helping those to survive. Am I meant to avoid more, by slaying those who make war on these elves?

--Is this my purpose?

--Is this why my heart burns?

--Is this the right path?

--I don’t ask for much my Lord, but a sign would be…helpful.

You know Myr, I’m not sure this revenge thing is you.

--What th—

I don’t think you are the bloodthirsty type.

--Goss; first what do you know of me? And second…shut up.


I was still kneeling in the dirt, centered and prepared, when the trio finally found me. I could hear them move towards me slowly, and perhaps a bit awkwardly, as if none of them could decide who should interrupt my thoughts. Finally:

“Myrai, we should go,” Beepu said in a matter of fact tone.

“We have a map?” I asked, as I got to my feet.

“That we do,” Iesa said waving a bit of parchment in front of him.

“Lead on,”

Surprisingly, the quarry was much closer than I thought it would be. It wasn’t even peak when we reached it. It was basically a mine shaft that was surrounded by hills on three sides, and the remains of an ancient road leading east. We approached quietly, Beepu sent his owl skyward to look around.

“The quarries entrance is on the northside going into the rock. There are remains of carts and rails leading down. There are some tents on the floor of the valley in front of the quarry entrance. And…there are guards on the hillside above the quarry, armed with crossbows. Six hobgoblins are there, some on the ridge above the entrance, the rest on the floor of the valley.”

“But nothing else? No prisoners?” Iesa asked.

“No. They probably are in the quarry itself.” Beepu said as Foggle landed on his arm.

This made me wonder a lot of things. Six of them outside, and probably more within. How did they manage to get so close to Whitepetal? And how many other places like this are they camped at? How many were there total? Was it so many that the elves never thought they could attack? Or were they over-confident in their defenses that they could repel them, no matter the numbers?

“Still is a lot of them,” Daneath commented. “We can’t afford them to run and warn the others.”

“Well, how many guards are on the ridge?” Iesa asked.

“Two? No three!” Beepu said after a moment. “What are you thinking?”

“Well, if we can eliminate them, it would let the rest of you get closer. I could then from above keep them pinned down with a bow.”

“How do you propose getting to them? There is not so much as a tree or shrub on the ridge.”

“Make me invisible.” Iesa said with a smile.

The gnome thought a moment. “Yes. If you stay quiet. But can you take on three of them?”

“I want to find out.”
We snuck up to some scraggly hedges that were on the floor of the south eastern side. All we needed to do is rush into the valley and take on the ones on the ground. Foggle was in the air already circling above, while Gossamer stayed close to me, keeping eyes out behind us while we focused ahead.

“Anything?” Daneath asked aloud.

“Well, he is alive as the spell is still working. I can see the three—Ooo!”

“What?” I asked.

“I just watched one slump over quietly, and Iesa reappear,” Beepu his brows furrowed. “Quite a large amount of blood on the rock. I wonder if his…nope. Another one is dead too. Not a sound.”

“This sounds promising,” Daneath said looking at me.

“Amazing, a plan that works,” I said. “Can he do three?”

“Ouch! Yes. Yes he can. He’s pulling out his bow, so I think he is about ready.”

“Great! My turn!” Daneath pulled out a javelin from a sheath on his back. He’s always carried them around, but I seldom seen him use them. And without even pausing, he bolted noisily into the valley.

He was not quiet in the least, but he wasn’t trying to be. As Beepu and I trailed him, we saw the three hobgoblins turn to face us. I couldn’t see their eyes or teeth yet, so I could only imagine the snarls and the jeers on their faces. But as we planned, Daneath launched his javelin into the air, and it struck the closest one. It lodged deep in the hobgoblin’s chest, with a large gout of blood spraying everywhere. Beepu then threw a bolt of fire at another one, and I heard it scream in pain as the fire burned through the studded leather smock it wore. From behind, Iesa’s bow launched an arrow into the backside of the third one, causing it to turn around, looking for the guards that once had his back.

I smiled, as my heart raced. I ran in and I watched the three gather up and start to charge Daneath, hoping to bowl him over with their bulk. But as they approached, I focused a moment on a light and dark strand, pulling them taut, and then snapping them apart.

The three hobgoblins stumbled in their tracks, as bones cracked and snapped. All three fell to the ground, twitching and convulsing. I felt euphoria at killing three of these beasts, my heart quickened its pace as I looked for more of them to kill. As it was, I was disappointed that no others emerged from their tents to assault us, and Daneath voiced his disapproval.

“Hey! I didn’t get a chance to swing at them!” Daneath complained

“You lodged a spear in it,” I said holding my hand open and spread apart in confusion.

“Javelin!”

“Whatever!”

“Not the point; I wanted to hit them.”

“Same here. And it saves me from healing you.” I said.

“It is not nice that this all worked out so well.” Beepu said cheerily.

“Let’s get below. I’m sure there is more,” Daneath said with a wolfish grin.

We descended into the mine entrance and was greeted by the smell and light of torches. I was for one relieved; torches meant that the brothers could see, and that I didn’t need to create a light, giving us away in the darkness. The main pathway had a track for mining carts, that entered a large gallery with tunnels boring deeper into the rock. While most of the tunnels were dark, there were torches in sconces to our right, flanking a large wooden door. Continuing along the wall more torches descended deeper into the mine.

Iesa took the lead, and moved to the large door, and we followed quietly. Beepu sent Foggle to fly down and within the darkened passages, while Gossamer stayed in the shadows a little behind us. Iesa moved silently to the door and pressed his ear against it. With a free hand he lifted a single finger, and then a second. He then prepared his rapier and motioned Daneath to the door.

Daneath grasped the rope handle that passed for a door pull and threw open the door wide and charged inside. He didn’t get farther than two feet, when from the darkness a large morningstar smashed into his chest causing Daneath to wheeze. Blocking his way was a bugbear licking his lips in anticipation of an easy kill. Before Daneath could retreat, another one emerged from deeper within and swung a crushing blow, on Daneath’s shield.

Iesa was about to leap into the doorway, when something caught his eye, and he turned looking behind us in time to say;

“Beepu! Look out!”

From behind a large fast lizard on all fours was charging at the gnome. The warning was enough for Beepu to sidestep causing the creature to run past him

Guard Drake!

--LATE!


Iesa stepped forward and stabbed at it with his rapier, causing blood to spurt everwhere. Looking at my options I decided to throw a bolt of energy at the lizard, hoping to bring it down. Beepu, turned his attention to the bugbears beating on Daneath. From his pouch he pulled out a feather and waved it about saying;

“Your family tree does not even fork!”

From inside the room I could hear something horrible. It first was a deep gravelly sounding guffaw, and then it was just grim deep laughter as one of the bugbears collapsed on the ground, clutching his sides. His companion looked astounded at his partner, allowing Daneath an opening, plunging his sword into the bugbear’s belly.

“I’m not sure that was funny,” Iesa commented as he thrust at the drake again, narrowly missing

“Of course, it is! That is a top joke anywhere!” Beepu replied with confidence and throwing a bolt of fire into the side of the drake.

“Only if you are at a gnomish dinner party,” I commented throwing another purple bolt at the drake, causing it to collapse dead on the mine floor.

“What does that mean?” Beepu asked with a note of anger on his voice, as he waggled the feather in my direction.

“It means, you aren’t funny,” Daneath said, as he traded blows with his bugbear, each drawing blood. But shortly after he did so, Iesa lunged and stabbed the bugbear in the chest, causing it to stumble backwards in pain, and finally falling backwards onto the ground.

“I am so funny!”

“NOT FUNNY!” shouted the other bugbear as it stood and struck at the nearest foe with a hammer. It hit Daneath hard on the shield arm, almost knocking him down. First, I hit it with purple energy, and then Beepu threw it some fire, causing the Bugbear to stagger backwards, trying to raise its arms in front of its face in defense.

This allowed Daneath to swing again, cutting into the side of the bugbear deeply, blood running freely down its side. It turned to prevent Daneath from striking again, only to be flanked by Iesa slashing across its midsection, spilling blood everywhere. Then a bolt of flame hit the humanoid square in the face, causing it to fall flat on its back, dead.

“Yes. I. AM!” Beepu said.

We turned to look behind us and listened to see if anything else would emerge from the darkness. As my heart beat slowed, and the blood stopped rushing through my ears I thought I heard something. As I focused and looked at Iesa I could tell he heard it too. I concentrated on the sound, closing my eyes, and straining to hear.

It was crying. Somewhere deeper in the mine, a woman’s voice was sobbing. We looked at each other and pulled in tightly into a huddle so we could talk.

“Crying? That must be a prisoner,” Iesa said.

“Well, I’m about to start. I need a breather before we take on more.”

“We should not delay!” Beepu retorted archly.

“I want to finish this,” I said licking my lips in anticipation. “But I want to win. We wait for Daneath.”

Iesa considered and nodded. Daneath and he, pulled the bugbear corpses deeper into the room they had emerged from, while I dragged the lizard behind me into the room. Beepu sent the owl to perch on a beam to watch for patrols.

So, do I come in with you?

--No, find a spot to hide and watch. And warn a bit faster.

That wasn’t my fault.

--And keep an ear out on that crying.

Can do. Sorry.


The room that the bugbears ‘lived’ in was not fit for civilized folk. I’m not sure that even hobgoblins put up with the filth. But the stench of spoiled food, and rotten carcasses permeated the air. Iesa poked around their sleeping things and their bodies and managed to find some small number of coins. But otherwise there was nothing of value to us here.

As we rested and waited, I reflected. I was excited fighting; seeing these monsters fall put a smile on my face. To exact a toll in blood for what they did to Whitepetal. They were little more than beasts as far as I could see. That anyone else that wasn’t a gnome laughing at Beepu’s jokes was just a sign of a defect in the bonebox. It was a mercy for them that we were in a rush and needed to kill them quickly. Somehow it should linger; let them think about the errors of their ways. Still these weren’t the leader; that female hobgoblin was. I bet she was smarter. And I bet we would kill her all the same.

I didn’t know how long I let my mind wander when Gossamer intruded:

That crying? It stopped.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Crying Game. - 11/3/2019

In times of crisis, we turn to our comforts for relief. Friends. Family. Faith. Drink even.

But sometimes, that isn’t enough. You have to have the strength and will to look at yourself, to gaze within to find the answers to the toughest questions, to reflect and realize what changes you should make, to submit and allow yourself to make the greatest sacrifices.

But knowing it isn’t enough. You still need the guts to do it. And I think that is where most of us fail.



“Iesa!” I leaned over towards the man, “The crying stopped.”

He cocked his head to listen, and then frowned. “Yeah, we better move. I can’t imagine that’s a good sign.”

“I’m as ready as I can be,” Daneath said readying his shield and sword.

“Let’s do the same thing as before,” Iesa said.

“What? Listen at the door and smash it on the way in?”

“No! Turn me invisible. Let you guys draw the attention.”

I shrug and replied, “Why not?”

“What if I need to hide!” Beepu said with a note of concern.

“Turn into a rock. You’re good at that!” Iesa pointed out.

Beepu was about to object, when he realized the truth. “True, it has worked quite a bit.”

“Fine,” I said. “Make him disappear, and Daneath and I will appear to be in front. You watch our rears as a stone.”

Iesa smiled, looking forward to hiding without trying, and in a moment and a quick word from Beepu, he vanished.

“You know,” Daneath commented. “We don’t have to make him reappear.”

“I’m right here bro.”

“Can you do that Beepu? I won’t tell him.”

“Damn it, I know you can hear me!” Iesa sputtered.

“True,” I commented. “But all he’s going to do when he finds out is sing the “Frog and Firkin” in your ear. Forever.”

“Might be worth it…” Daneath said mischievously.

“Can you focus for a moment!” the bodiless Iesa spat.

“Well I do not know what Iesa would say, but we should finish our work here.” Beepu deadpanned. “Let us go.”

“Why you…oh funny. Ha. Ha.” Iesa muttered.

I moved to the door and cast a thought out;

Anything going on out there?

--I haven’t seen anything other than that modron.

Its not really a modron.

--Fine. Not a modron. Still nothing.


“Let’s go, its clear.” And I moved to the door, following Daneath. The warrior opened the door and after looking around, headed towards his right, following the line of torches that continued into the depths. I could hear for a brief moment, Iesa scrambling ahead, but soon he was moving silently ahead. Beepu trailed behind me, and both of our familiars stayed close.

As we moved down the shaft, I reached into my pouch and pulled out a bit of wire, and coiled it around my index finger. I twisted it round and round and plucked at a white strand and then whispered under my breath, as I pointed down where I thought Iesa went.

“Iesa? Can you hear me? If so, whisper back.”

“What the? Yes…this a new trick?”


I smiled to myself. “Something I learned yes. I’ll keep reaching out to you as we go. No one but me can hear you whisper back.”

“That’s a help. Will do. The shaft winds a bit, but I see it opening up into another large area.”


I nodded, “Iesa says that it opens up into a large cavern ahead, so be ready.”

“What? How did—” Daneath whispered at me.

“Ah! I see what you did there.” Beepu pointed at the wire I was working with my fingers. “A good spell. We will talk later.”

“Iesa?” I whispered.

“Not good. I found a bunch of cages with prisoners. And I found Alanathia. Might need help.”


“Sodding Baator,” I said. “Looks like we are expected.”

“I’ll follow your lead then Myr,” Daneath said.

“I am going to watch our rears then. Listen for loud yelling.” Said Beepu.

Gos, stay low and out of sight, keep an eye out.

--For…what exactly?

Stuff that can’t be seen.

--Like the guy with the monkey?

Yes...no…yes, like him, but not him. Other things. Don’t get caught in a fight and let me focus.

--Ok…can do.


I nodded, and I took the lead and moved forward. I kept my back pressed against the wall as I came closer to where the tunnel spilled into the room and peeked inside. The shaft opened up into a large carved gallery. Here the marks of chisels and picks were left like scars on the rock walls. Piles of rubble and tailing were scattered across the ground. Each near a rail, as if the next mine cart would arrive, ready to move them up to the surface. Near the rails, were simple wooden cages. Within each I could see figures lying down motionless, unable or unwilling to move. No sounds came from the occupants within, and I worried that there were none living. Between the cages, here and there on the floor were shallow puddles of still water, from a rain long ago that seeped below the earth. But these puddles scattered the flickering light of torches coming from a far corner of the room.

There in that corner, stood the female hobgoblin. Her face was scarred, ritually on both cheeks, and her iron eyes stared towards me coolly, betraying neither anger nor fear. She was dressed in a light leather top and leggings, barely enough to keep brambles at bay. She wore no shoes, but ribbons of leather carefully wrapped to cover and protect her insoles, and in one hand, she held a simple dagger.

And that dagger was ever so close the neck of Alanathia. The elf’s leathers were dirty, and her arms were pulled behind her back, likely tied. She was on her bare knees on the rock floor, which showed signs of bleeding from cuts. Her hair was a disheveled mess, and her right eye socket was swollen shut from a blow. Her expression was stoic as she too looked down the tunnel towards us.

“So, the elves sent…you. How fortunate,” The hobgoblin’s voice rang out in precise clipped tones. All business, intelligent, and confident. This worried me; she easily handled Iesa carrying the elf on her back easily. She knew that we were here and outnumbered her. Was this bravado, or was it calculated? I decided to play for time and let Iesa move closer.

“Fortunate? That is an interesting way to describe this…arrangement. What do you want?”

“Iesa, I hope you are ready,” I whispered into the weave, hoping he was nearing the hobgoblin.

“Just about. Prepped my blade with a surprise. Keep talking to her a bit longer,” came the reply.

The hobgoblin’s sneering voice replied, “For our Prophesized One, there is nothing he wants or needs from the elves. They will be swept away, as we reclaim what is ours. But you? You and your companions are known to us.”

“I guess we should feel honored. What do you want then from…us?”

Iesa?” I muttered in the weave again.

“Almost…”

“Right now, this is about what you want. You want this elf…leader,” the contempt was clear as she talked. “So, what I want is simple. One of you, for her.”

“What, a trade?” I said, playing up the incredulity. This didn’t make sense. Bargaining from weakness, as if she was in control? She either was a gambler or…she really was in control.”

Iesa?” I whispered urgently.

Ready, charge in when I strike.”

“Of course. I am done with this one, but you value her. I value one of you. Choose, NOW!” and she raised her voice to a near shout, as if she was trying to order me like a soldier under her command.

“Alright, alright then! You win. I choose...” and I closed my eyes and hoped

“You.”

I heard the blade whistling in the air, and then the sound of it sinking deep into flesh and muscle. I could then see Iesa standing behind the hobgoblin, his dagger firmly lodged in her back with a wolfish smile that spoke volumes. The hobgoblin’s legs buckled, and she sank down, with an expression on her face that made my blood run cold. An arrogant smile followed by a mocking laugh.

“Myr watch out!” and suddenly Daneath shoved me into the room, while a shower of stone chips exploded behind me. I turned my head to look, and saw a large axe sunk deep into the stone, and now watched it wrenched free by its wielder, a large hulking bugbear. It great size was as surprising as its silence, even as it smiled to make another swing. From behind Daneath and the bugbear I could hear fire bolts striking rock, the sounds of hissing and snarling, and gnomish cursing.

I felt slow as I stumbled a bit forward to catch my balance. And as I looked at the bugbear, I watched as from a near by wall, a figure appeared and ran towards the warrior.

To my shock it was Alanathia who barreled straight for the large man and with her bare hands and feet struck Daneath over and over. She was a whirlwind of limbs, each finding gaps in Daneath defense and armor. Finally, on her last punch I could hear the sound of bones snapping, as she broke several ribs.

It didn’t make sense. Why was she attacking us? And then as I watched, Analthia’s face and clothing melted away, running off like sheets of water revealing the true opponent.

The hobgoblin woman.

The hunters were now the hunted.

Everything was slow as I ran into the room, with a guess and a fear. As I turned to look where Iesa stood, I could see him with horror on this face, as he withdrew his green, glowing dagger from the fallen figure, now on her knees. Her face and clothing were melting away too, and the hobgoblin’s form was replaced by the pain stricken elven leader, Alanathia. She then fell forward flat on the ground in a motionless heap.

“Go help D!” I shouted as I ran, but Iesa was already moving as we passed each other. I didn’t have much time; I had two things I could do, but I guessed I needed to save some power for the fight. I could only use the barest amount to save her. Putting too much into her, could mean death for everyone else. I remembered my mentor saying that triage in a battle was different than at the peace of a healer’s hut. That the decisions made had different weight. I heard it and processed it. But only now did I understand it.

I slid down on my knees next to Alanathia, and could see that she still breathed, if but barely. Iesa’s blade had sunk true and deep into her back. That alone should have been enough to kill most people, but I could see the greenish color of a tacky substance around the entrance to the wound; a type of poison.

I was taken aback; I didn’t know that Iesa even had poison, and I had no idea kind type it was. But as I knelt and laid a hand upon her, I reached into that small part of myself where I had some personal power that had nothing to do with the strands I usually pulled on. I felt the rush of energy down my back, the flexing of ephemeral wings, and I purged away the poison from her body and blood.

I heard more fighting from the tunnel; sword striking metal, and the sound of solid strikes against wet meat. Farther still, the blasts of magic and more swearing. But it was distant from my thoughts as I focused. The elf was barely breathing, and the blood still poured from her wound. I then pulled on a single light strand, hoping that this would be enough. I felt the energy pour from me, and into Alanathia’s wounds, and I watched as the bleeding slowed and stopped. Her breathing was shallow, but soft and regular. I was certain that she would live.

--Please don’t take her yet my lord. Not for this. Not for our mistake. My mistake!

I then turned my head to look at the melee just in time to see Daneath’s armored body, fall to the ground motionless, felled by the axe of the bugbear. The creature ripped it out of Daneath, and turned to face Iesa, who was fully engaged with the hobgoblin. His rapier had landed at least one good hit, based on the blood flowing from her side. But he was no longer making successful strikes and was focused instead on dodging and knocking away the hands and feet of the woman assailing him. As I watched, I saw him start to back around the gallery trying to position himself so only one attacker would be able to attack him. This might have worked with Daneath next to him, but now it was only a matter of time before one of them flanked him.

I had little left in me. But I was not going to the fugue again. Not after what we just did. I was going to atone with my actions now, and not beg for forgiveness later. I pulled on a pair of light strands within me and used them like a bowstring to launch power from myself.

I moved, closer to Daneath, and away from the injured Alanathia. I didn’t want her to be caught up defenseless if something were to go…more awry. I launched the energy into Daneath as I moved, who lay some distance from me. The energy would lose a lot of its effectiveness, but it would still close wounds, and hopefully wake him. But what I didn’t want, is to be obviously helping the warrior. Then I concentrated and a miasa of darkness surrounded both of Iesa’s attackers, and a toll of a bell rang in the mine.

Now I could hear the bugbear as it roared in pain and I watched it turn its head to focus on me. How it knew, it didn’t matter. I got what I wanted; its attention.

It snarled, and charged at me, grasping the axe with both hands ready to cut me down where I stood. I could feel the rock vibrate as twenty stones of muscle came bearing down on me. It raised its axe high overhead and it whistled as it cut through the air, down at me. I raised my shield up above my head trying to protect myself. The axe then came crashing down, and shattered my shield into pieces, and causing me to stagger backwards. My arm felt first sharp pain, and then a strong throbbing ache as I pulled it tight alongside me.

The bugbear snarled and raised its axe again, and I readied myself for the blow, when I saw the outline of orange light surround the bugbear. I then smelled burnt hair, as a bolt of fire streaked from the tunnel, and into its back. It whirled and howled and ran straight at Beepu, angry at the distraction. Beepu then swiftly darted around the corner, with the bugbear in close pursuit.

Iesa was holding his own, but the hobgoblin kept swinging, and could land a single blow, for every three she threw. But that was more than Iesa who’s blows weren’t nearly as effective as his opponent. Had it continued for longer, Iesa likely would have made a mistake, and pay the price.

So, it was then, that Daneath charged in; he was loud, and he crashed into the hobgoblin, who was surprised to see her fallen opponent now fully committed to killing her. She turned her head and started to position herself to handle this new assault. And that was all it took.

She took her eyes from the tired looking Iesa, who quickly spun and thrust into her backside, sinking deep into her vitals. I watched her stiffen and cough up a large amount of blood, before collapsing onto the ground.

Iesa wasted no time and stabbed at the fallen hobgoblin; to make sure that she would not rise and torment him again. Daneath, meantime turned and charged at the bugbear, who was standing in confusion at the tunnel, looking for Beepu. What he found instead was a sword, that nearly cleaved the humanoid into two across the midsection. It fell lifeless, onto the ground.

As we all panted in exhaustion, from a boulder near a wall, emerged Beepu. He too was bloodied, with what looked to be animal bites on his arm and matching tears in his shirt. He nodded in some satisfaction and finally spoke.

“The rear…is secure,” He said heavily between breaths. “How was the negotiation? I only heard—”

“That damned…hobgoblin…witch,” Iesa spat. “That is the second time she—”

“Wait,” I interrupted angrily. “Second time? What are you talking about?”

“She changed her appearance to look like…her,” Iesa gestured to the resting form of Alanathia.

Daneath moved over to Iesa and balled up his fist in his mail glove. He then swung and punched the rock next to Iesa’s head. “Why didn’t you tell us that! You killed her! What the hell are we—”

“He didn’t kill her,” I said angrily. “He just got damn close. I’m lucky that Kelemvor didn’t take her.”

“What do you mean, ‘I’m lucky?’ This isn’t your fault Myrai,” Beepu said confused.

“I knew something was wrong,” I said guiltily. “I didn’t…trust myself to say anything. I was fortunate to save her and Daneath.”

“Well we all made errors. That seems to be normal. Let us learn from it and move on. I would like to leave this place.”

I nodded, “True enough. I’m going to heal Alanathia, but I will be spent. We should get out and rest somewhere safer.”

“Ok, lets take a look at those cages, after I search our friend here,” Iesa said.

I nodded and moved back towards the fallen elf. I sat down next to the woman, and gently rolled her over onto her side, with her head in my lap. I then focused the very last of what I had, focusing on closing the dagger wound in her back. I watched the wound close and heard her breathing grow stronger. Once I was certain it was fully closed, I turned her gently, so she laid on her back. I peeled off my cloak and covered her with it and waited.

I was a fool. I was bobbed and peeled like a common cony. I knew it was a trap. I knew it wasn’t a bluff or a gamble. I didn’t need to know the details, but I should have warned them. I was willing to gamble with my own life if I needed. But I gambled with this elf’s life, and nearly lost.

I was a fool. I should have asked Iesa more about last night. That tidbit would have made a difference. This woman, Daneath, none of them would have come that close to the fugue.

I was a fool. What saved us? Not planning. Not skill. It was luck. None of us should have survived if it wasn’t for that. None of us should be…alive.

Well, I certainly shouldn’t be. Nor this woman. Nor Iesa or Daneath. Outside of myself, everyone was alive…because I was. Maybe it wasn’t luck. Maybe I just needed to trust more…

In my friends.

In my instincts.

In my faith.

Perhaps there was a purpose to it, that I didn’t see. Couldn’t see. Couldn’t know. Is that why I was forced back from the fugue? I have a purpose?

I reached down and touched where the Apocrypha was hanging in a case on my side. I needed to know more. I felt it was the key to the riddle. It wasn’t luck that I found it. It was design. That what is happening around me isn’t an accident. It had a reason.

I would just prefer for a small light in the darkness. To lead, to guide, or if nothing else, keep me company.



Session notes:

It’s true; Iesa failed to mention what had happened with the Iron Shadow the first time. We were a little miffed by that omission. Beepu did a lot of dancing in the back with more guard drakes, and once again was an effective rock.

Also, yes it was a Dagger of Venom. And as an opening nova it was quite impressive.

Too bad about the wrong target.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
It was a nasty trick...and the dm probably lifted it from The Dark Knight.

But Iesa lost the chance to being as smart as Batman. The rest of us had no chance.
 

Advertisement

Top