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Journal of the Souls of Legend


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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
A reprieve and scales in the balance. - 3/20/2020

NOW with Bonus Art!



Its nice when you can enjoy a hard-earned victory. I just would appreciate a warm bed and a whisky as a reward. But sometimes, good company will do just fine.



I gently shook Gossamer and he turned to look at me blearily eyed and yawned. He said nothing, and only briefly looked at Beepu with disapproval. He simply took back into the air as if nothing had happened. Smirking I knew I was going to hear his opinion on things later. My smirk turned into a grimace as I shifted, as I once again felt the pain from the quarrel wound. Turning to look at all of us, we all were in not great shape; everyone sported their own blood on their clothes, and even more of the hobgoblins’.

“We’d better make sure that’s all of them,” Daneath started. “I swore that there were more by the gate.”

“There…were,” Beepu said distantly with a vacant look on his own eyes, as he looked through Foggles’ “The gate is open now, and I believe some of the guards have run off.”

“We should chase them down now!” Iesa said alarmed. “We can’t let them get reinforcements.

“Did your night vision get better? You can’t track them in the dark,” Daneath pointed out.

“Drik, Drok,” I turned to the goblins for their guidance. “You said that the main camp was past this point. How far?”

“Days. Not know any other camp near,” Drik said nodding, and Drok agreed.

“Sounds like we have time,” I said. “But Daneath is right, we should check the caves, and free the slaves.”

“Then what?” Iesa asked.

“That will depend on the slaves,” Daneath said grimly. “If they are in good health, they might be able to get back to Secomber on their own. Otherwise we might have to detour.”

“Not tonight,” Beepu said adamantly. “I will need rest as will Myrai to recover our power. But I believe the gate is intact. We will be likely be able to close it behind them and be secure until morning.”

“I doubt there are much in the way of stragglers here,” Daneath said looking at the caves around us. “So, I’m going to look at the gate and close it if I can. Beepu and the goblins can look at the caves for supplies.”

“Why me?” Beepu demanded. “And why with them?”

Daneath rolled his eyes. “Because you might be able to search a Booyagh’s cave for interesting things, the goblin probably know how to find stuff stashed by them, you are too short to deal with the gate, and Iesa and Myr are better able to free the prisoners.”

Beepu was about to protest, when he suddenly turned to look at the cave where the hobgoblin threw a fireball from. He then said “Quite right. Come on you two.”

The goblins looked at each other and shrugged. Then all three headed off to the Booyagh’s cave.

Daneath watched them head along the bridge and let out a deep sigh. “Somehow I thought that might be harder.”

“The goblins are reasonable,” Iesa said looking at Daneath puzzled.

“I was talking about Beepu mostly,” Daneath replied. “Besides letting the goblins free the prisoners might lead to a misunderstanding. Better to let you two talk to them.”

“Makes sense to me,” I said as I looked around. “But how do we get down from here? Didn’t the goblins push the ladder down?”

“Guess we lower Iesa down on a rope,” Daneath replied as he reached around for a coil that was attached to the outside of his pack.

“Wait…me? Why?”

“Because I don’t trust you to lower me down without dropping me.”

“What about Myr?”

“I don’t trust her to lower me down either.” I stifled a chuckle as Isea gave Daneath an exasperated look.

“That isn’t what I…never mind.” Iesa said defeated. “I’ll get it.”

With a little effort Daneath lowered his brother down, and with even greater effort Iesa replaced the ladder. Daneath then descended, and I hopped down the ladder’s rung gingerly, my leg still in pain from the crossbow wound. Daneath then headed to the front gate, while Iesa and I headed to the cages at the end of the canyon.

I was still limping, and Iesa turned and noticed my wincing.

“Myr, that looks pretty bad,” his eyes looking at the blood stains on my leathers. “Shouldn’t you just heal yourself?”

“I can, but I was holding off until we see if someone needs it more.”

“More than you right now?”

I looked at Iesa, “I’ll be fine.” I saw the concern in his eyes, as they lingered over my leg. “It’s a wound; you’ve had worse, as have I.”

“I know. It’s just…you are just willing to take on…on wounds like that and still worry about everyone else. I…like that about you, but I don’t understand it.”

“What helping others, or putting their pain before my own?”

We stopped walking, and he paused before answering, “Both I suppose. I just—”

“Iesa, you have helped us all and—”

“—I’m not sure killing things is the same as ‘helping.’”

“And that orphanage in Yartar? And how many others in Waterdeep?”

He looked at me with surprise, “You knew about that?”

I nodded, “You mentioned doing something similar in Yartar once. But I saw you entering one in Waterdeep before you left for Secomber. The kids certainly knew what you did.”

“It’s not quite the same,”

“No. It’s not.” I limped over to Iesa and took his hands.

“Some of us have pain from the past, and we all…find our own way to cope. I guess you did what you did because of what happened to your mother…and you.” He glanced up to look at me, questioningly.

“So, you know mine. What’s your pain?”

I looked down at my leg, seeing the coagulated blood on my breeches where the quarrel had stuck into my thigh. I could feel the slightest trickle of blood from the wound, within as my walking had torn open the barely closed wound. Biting my lip, I opened the door a crack.

“I’ve…suffered a lot of pain. Pain you don’t want to imagine. Pain reserved for petitioners that have committed crimes against their own soul. And I suffered it to save someone I…I…loved.” I looked at Iesa in the eyes, with tears forming in mine. “I failed. I didn’t save him. I couldn’t. And that was before I had any power at all. So now that I have it…I don’t want to fail again…fail anyone else again.”

“And we matter that much…to you?”

I looked down and closed my eyes and simply nodded.

“And that person…you loved…”

I looked at Iesa again and mustered my strength to speak. “The…fiends inflicted a lot of pain. But no pain hurt more than the pain of—”

“—Losing him?” Iesa finished presumptuously.

“No. No pain hurt more than…learning that he never loved me. That he…let happen what happened. That…he betrayed me.”

Iesa closed his mouth and swallowed, pausing a moment before speaking again. “I…uh…that would…hurt. I’m…sorry. And…are you—”

“Fine,” I lied. “It was…”

“It’s alright…I understand.” He released my hands and moved toward the cages.

“Iesa…its…. you’re a good friend, and compatriot—”

“Myr…I’m more of an elf person, not an angel one.” He smiled and turned.

I bowed my head and smiled in kind. I should have known.

We continued and reached the end of the canyon. There, there were four pens of wood set into a circle. As we approached the first two, I saw that they stood empty, with straw scattered about. There was a scent of rotten meat and stronger scent of a damp animal in the air.

But, I knew that smell. Worgs.

I looked at Iesa and he returned the glance. We continued forward, passing the pair. Ahead the remaining two stood. As we approached, I could see figures moving, just visible between the bars of the pen. Unlike the worg pens, these had both locked gates, and wooden rooves.

I motioned to the left one, and I let Iesa take the lead. As we got closer, I could hear whispers:

“Who’s coming?”

“I can’t see.”

“Where are the hobs?”

“I think I will need a light to pop these open Myr,” Iesa said quietly.

I nodded, and I flexed a moment, setting the light on my palm, illuminating the area with a warm yellow light. I hear sharp intakes of breath.

“They aren’t hobs?”

“Who are they?”

“Who is that with the—”

“—Did you see—”

“—I thought I—”

“—Wings?—”

Iesa stepped forward, “Hey, we’ll get these open in a moment,” pulling out his picks.

A man stepped forward to the gate; He was of good size, lean with unkempt light brown hair, blinking unsteadily into the light.

“Who…where are the hobs?”

Iesa started to work on the lock, “Well, we think we killed most of them, we have others checking the rest of the canyon.”

“Thank the gods,” he said with visible relief. “We need to open the other cage.”

“One at a time…Myr can you move the light a bit over my left shoulder?”

“Sure,” and I stepped forward. Placing my hand where Iesa needed it, I turned my head and smiled at the prisoner, his eyes now opened wide. “Hi there. What’s your name?”

“I…Kellid. Kellid is my name.” he stammered.

“Hi Kellid. We’re going to get you out of there. How many of you are here?”

“Uh…five families, about a score and a half. Our wives and kids are in the other one. Who are you?”

“We’re…uh adventurers I guess, and we were tracking down hobgoblins.”

“Almost done here,” Iesa said. “These locks are in poor condition.”

“You know a Micah?” I asked, seeing if they were from the village that we ‘saved.’

“Yes…yes…he’s alright?”

“He and the villagers were on their way to Secomber.” I said, keeping my voice steady and calm.

“Got it!” Iesa said pulling the lock loose from the chains and pulling the gate open. Inside I could see clearly about a dozen men, all dirty and tired looking. But they seemed to be unhurt physically.

“Kellid come with me,” and Iesa and I walked to the other pen, and Iesa started to work on the lock. Inside I could hear the voices of women talking.

“By Chauntea, Kellid is that you?” a woman said relieved.

“Yes…we seem to have some saviors,” these two.

“Well there are several others,” I said realizing this might be a good time to warn them. “This is Iesa, and I’m Myrai. Daneath is checking the front gate, and Beepu is checking the caves with a pair of gobli—”

“What?! Goblins?” Kellid said in alarm.

“Yes…they were held prisoner by the hobgoblins as well, and they killed a number here.” I said still smiling.

“Oh…well…I guess they can’t be that bad.”



It was dark by the time we had regrouped. The dead hobgoblins were interred into the earth. Families were reunited with husbands, wives, children, and friends. Of course, all had seen the blast of fire, the sounds of my shatter, and even could laugh at the strange shouts of ‘clumsy’ that preceded their rescue.

The goblins were unused to being treated like heroes. Their awkward smiles a strange contrast to the normally wicked ones we saw when attacking their former lashers. Beepu was of course seen as a powerful wizard, but Foggle kept the seven or eight children in awe. Iesa and Daneath armed the men with weapons found on the bodies and elsewhere in the canyon. Iesa had also found some gold which he shared equally with us as well as the villagers.

As for myself, the villagers seemed to hold me in awe as well. But not in the same way they looked at Beepu and his magical prowess. This was more fervor; the same I had seen in Waterdeep. Like I was their prayers personified, and their powers’ will incarnate. I was almost afraid that someone would just bow down and start worshipping me. I had done nothing to deserve such adulation. Yet I heard in their whispers the word ‘angel’ several times.

As the night settled in, Iesa had found a decent amount of passable food, and I used a bit of my power to create some water for all to drink. We setup several fires by the gate, and finally, we all gathered by the gate with Kallid and made our plans.

“So, there haven’t been worgs here for about a week?” Daneath asked Kellid. “You’re certain?”

Kellid nodded while chewing on some bread. “Yes, something about a crusher lasher needing them.”

“You speak goblin?” Beepu asked surprised.

“You sorta have to pick it up. They don’t allow you to speak in common as prisoners.” Kellid explained.

“That might mean we won’t see any riders for a while,” Iesa observed. “Myrai drowned quite a number of them in the village.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” I said bitterly. It was the truth, but I wasn’t especially proud of it.

“So, if that is the case, then the hobgoblins that ran will have to tell the ‘Prophesized One’ on foot,” Daneath continued the thought. “Drik, Drok how far from here is his fort?”

Drik and Drok muttered to each other before both turned and said “Three day walk.” In unison.

“That seemed definitive. Sound like it might be accurate for once,” Beepu muttered.

“When here before, lashers always say three days,” Drik spat.

“You not argue. Why they lie?” Drok said shrugging.

“That will mean that Kallid and the villagers would have at least four days lead, assuming there are more worg riders in reserve.” Daneath said rubbing his chin.

“With the armaments here, we should be able to protect ourselves. You have our thanks.” Kallid said with gratitude.

“It also means, we can all rest here till morning,” Iesa said with relief.

“We have more than enough to set watches at the gate,” Kallid said. “You have earned a night’s rest.”

“Well, Foggle can watch from the sky as well, we all should rest.”

“I think that more than one set of eyes is wiser Beepu,” Daneath smiled gently at the gnome.

“Why does no one believe me when I say that Foggle can watch for us all? Do you not trust me?”

“It’s not that Beepu; it’s everyone trust themselves more,” I said. “That and one shot with a crossbow could…well now, cause Foggle to explode again.”

“I concede that.” Beepu said grimly.

“That, and we’ll need Gossamer to watch the other entrance, just in case,” I said. “I’ll set my camp up there so in case anything happens I can alert you,” I stood and gathered up some wood so I could make a fire for warmth.

“I will be in the old ‘Booyagh’ cave. There are some things there I wish to examine more closely. You know where to find me. I’ll send Foggle to watch from the air.” And Beepu made his way to the ladder leading up the pillar and bridges to the caves.

“Thanks Kallid, but we’ll help with the watches regardless,” Daneath said.

“We will?” Iesa said surprised. “Ok…fine. You first. I’m getting some rest now,” he said with a note of irritation. He then lay back and looked at the fire, with eyes drooping.

“I’ll do that. Come on Kallid, let’s get the men setup into watches. Night.”

“Night.” I replied. I found some rope, to tie the bundle of wood together and made my way towards the ladder, leading to the bridges above. Gossamer, who was lying in a loafball near the fire, stood stretched his limbs and wings, and then flittered after me.

I was moving slowly; still injured and not yet having a moment to heal myself from the flames and the crossbow wound from earlier. But with everyone scattering around and setting up watches, I didn’t want to impose and ask for help.

“Wait up Myr!” I heard behind me, and to my surprise Daneath was trotting up towards me.

“I thought you were organizing the villagers?” I said confused.

“I did! It’s not like telling Iesa to take a bath after all,”

I smiled at Iesa’s expense, “Well, at least we can lead him to water,”

“Yep. Anyway, if anything does come down that tunnel, its probably going to be scary enough that you might need a hand. That and your odds of climbing that ladder with that much wood is pretty slim.”

I looked down at my leg and was forced to admit he was right. It was going to be a problem, until I could get a little rest and use some magic to heal up.

“You’re probably right Daneath,” I said, lowering the firewood to the ground. “Thanks,” I said with a twinge of guilt in my voice. I then grasped the ladders rungs in my hands and started to climb.

“Don’t sound that way,” Daneath said as I made my way up. “Otherwise the guilt on being laid out in the dirt would be unbearable,”

“So, you should carry more of my stuff?”

“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

We made our way up the ladder and across the bridges, with Gossamer fliting around us. We crossed the final bridge and found a small flat area just inside the rock wall, leaving us with plenty of room to setup the fire and our bedrolls. Daneath arranged the wood, and I quickly light it with a white strand and in no time, we have a small blaze of warmth in the cave. Once done, I turned to face Gossamer;

Go ahead and find a spot down the tunnel so you can watch the entrance.

--Oh fun, just how I want to spend my evening. It’s bad enough I was knocked out of the air by that pretentious gnome. Can I at least bring something to sit on?

I have one spare shirt. ONE. No holes please.

--I’ll be careful.


The tressym using its paws and mouth, opened my pack, and pulled out my muslin shirt I used for sleeping. It then using all four legs pulled the cloth underneath itself. Then he beat his wings and took off, with my shirt down the tunnel.

Daneath watched Gossamer fly off and turned to me with a cockeyed expression.

“Finally,we’re alone.” He said with a smirk and a not at all serious tone.

I arched an eyebrow, “What, your codpiece slip? You can fix that all on your own.”

Daneath laughed, “Well considering you have been helping with the rest of the armor every morning since we met,”

“We’ve helped each other,” I corrected. I leaned back against the stone wall and started to unravel the bandage around my leg. Slowly the blood-soaked layers pulled away, exposing the wound created by the quarrel that struck me earlier. I focused with strands and started to clean up the blood stains off my leathers and skin. Once I finished, I started pulling on the straps and buckles on my armor.

“You know, most folk would kill to be as clean as you after a week’s march,” Daneath grinned as he poked at the fire.

I shrugged, “I might be in the middle of the moors and could be surrounded by hobgoblins at any time; I don’t need to smell like them.”

The man nodded and stared into the fire distractedly. “I thought it had to do with habits from a big city.”

“Well, yes Sigil is big. Bigger than Waterdeep easily. But its more we…do things differently. There’s no harbor, the one ‘river’ is called ‘The Ditch’ for a reason. And most of the time you wouldn’t set foot in it. There are bathhouses, and even the good ones can cost jink. But still if you could afford it, you tried to stay clean. Or at least avoid getting dirty.” I had finally removed the chain shirt that I wore, and started to clean the gambeson beneath it.

Daneath gave me a questioning glance and I explained.

“The Lower Wards have portals to lots of nasty places…many spit out smoke with the scent of brimstone, and then it rains and your skin turns yellow. Most wear leathers to keep clean, as water will always soak through cloth.”

“But there are a couple of public bathhouses, and of course if you are lucky the Great Gymnasium. I notice that isn’t a thing in Waterdeep.”

“Not really,” Daneath answered not looking up. “Many houses have cisterns from the rainwater so anyone can pipe into a bath without needing a public well.” Daneath then looked at me. “So, the public paths are they—"

“—Segregated? No,” I smiled shaking my head. “That kind of modesty isn’t really there. But its still rude to stare.”

“And that never bothered you?”

I stopped a moment and thought, “No. Unless you were melting some jinx, you are moving from pool to pool and not a lot of time to…admire I guess.”

Daneath shook his head again, “I rather have the privacy,” and he continue to look at the fire.

I stared at him a moment before asking, “So what’s on your mind? Somehow it isn’t me taking a bath.”


He chuckled for a moment, “I just was hoping we get somewhere. I know that Iesa has a different take on it, but I want to see my mast…father again. I have so many questions. But…”

“But?”

“…will he answer them. He never told me much beyond how to wield a weapon and swing it. That’s all I saw him as; a task master. I don’t know…what to expect.”

I nodded quietly looking at the fire, letting the warmth seep into my bones. After a long pause, Daneath spoke again.

“Thank you,”

“For?”

“Keeping me alive. Helping me do this to find my father. Considering you well…um…got killed. And it was worse when we went to Mordai,” he said shaking his head. “I should have gone to see a priest of Helm instead. But I…panicked.”

“It worked out.” I said trying to mollify him.

“Well I suppose. Should have worked out a little nicer. I guess I should have said sorry as well,”

“Thanks, and its fine now,”

Finally, I felt that I had enough energy, and pulled on the light strands. I felt the pain subside as a delicious warmth spread through my leg as the wound closed up, and the scab dropped off onto the ground leaving behind unblemished skin. Then I focused on the leathers, fixing the tear in them as well.

I felt much better, and I looked at Daneath. Again, his gaze was locked on the fire. Daneath was a cunning warrior, not a basher in a can. But I liked him because of the lack of pretension. He wasn’t wound up into schemes like Iesa would be. He wanted simple answers, and I honestly hoped he got them.

“Well, Goss is going to wake me if needed. I’m going to sleep,” and with an impish grin I leaned over and planted a simple kiss on his cheek, shocking him out of his reverie.

“Huh, what was--?”

“Because you needed it,” and I pulled myself into my bedroll. “And because I wanted to give you a simple thanks.”

“Thanks for what?”

“Thanks for being there for me,” I said sleepily, and I closed my eyes. The last thing I heard was Daneath saying

“Well…at least try to have pleasant dreams…”



Amazingly enough, the night was not interrupted by nightmares, gnolls, or even hobgoblins. I awoke to the dim light of the sun illuminating the canyon. It would take a while for the light to hit the shear stone walls. It was the one time of day my vision wasn’t ignoring darkness; everything was dim near us.

Daneath was dozing in a bedroll near me his armor piled nearby, and to my surprise one of the villagers was keeping watch near me. He turned his head and nodded at me.

“You all needed a good rest,” to which I could only nod in agreement.

I rose and moved over to wake the slumbering Daneath, whose eyes snapped open quickly and he started to look around as if we were in danger. Once he realized that I didn’t have any urgency, he relaxed and got up. We didn’t say anything as we pulled our armor on and checked each other’s straps as we normally did every morning. It just felt different, if for the only reason that I felt that everything was normal as two adventures could feel about each other; mutual respect, and no one was indebted to the other.

I heard a noise from the cave, and Gossamer swooped in with my shirt trailing behind him, caught in his claws.

--Oh yes…lots of fun that was. I am so glad that---

You put holes in my shirt!

--Ah well…maybe. Don’t you have a spell for that?

You did it on purpose!

--Well…yes. I wanted to rest in comfort while doing NOTHING.


I grabbed my shirt from the tressym and stuffed it back in my pack with a glare. And then the four of us made our way down to the gate, where all the villagers were gathered, along with our compatriots.

“—yes, well mastery of magic is something that takes a lot of hard work and study. In fact, you cannot neglect the study part. Otherwise it is not possible to cast a simple spell,” Beepu was saying to a number of the adults. Iesa was busy with a small pan over the fire, and the two goblins exchanged glances at each other that basically indicated that their opinion of the lecture was low, and that the manure content a little high. Then as one of the spotted me, he spoke up.

“Then why Myrai not study?” Drik asked.

“She has real familiar, not toy,” Drok stated assertively.

I saw the entire audience turn their heads to look at me, expecting me to leap into the discussion. However…

“What do you two know about the arcane arts!” Beepu glowered at the too, his face flushing a deep red.

“We know those things,” they said in unison, and with a wicked smile walked over towards Iesa who was serving out cooked meat.

“Look, he can do more than I can because of his study,” I said trying to defuse Beepu.

“Correct. She is not a wizard; in fact, she is a sorcerer—” Beepu started.

“--Doesn’t that make her a sorceress?” a villager asked.

“What? I suppose you are right, but that does not matter. Either one can tap the weave in a very limited way, and no two are the same,” Beepu replied a little flustered.

“So, you can heal too!” said a woman in the throng.

“Well, I cannot do that as I have not learned the arcane formulae that—”

“—Can’t you learn it from her?” Said another man.

“Ah…well…I have attempted to—”

“I thought you said a wizard could do more, but you can’t heal?”

“It is not a focus area of—” Beepu defensively started to say when from behind us a voice rang out.

“ALRIGHT PEOPLE!” Daneath shouted from behind me. “Everyone should pack up what they can; food, weapons and water. We’re going to be leaving soon, and you should bring everything that you need with you. It’s a five or six day walk to Secomber.”

And like that the crowd dispersed, with Daneath following and talking to Kallid. Drik and Drok were making their way back to where they camped, snickering as they went. Iesa just shifted his glance between Beepu and the goblins silently with a half smirk on his face.

“I got to find Mo…think he’s playing hide and seek with the children,” he said, putting the pan on the rock near the fire.

“Does he really?” I asked as Iesa made his way deeper in the canyon.

“Yep. He takes something of theirs and he hides. They then seek for him,” He said shrugging.

“Do they find him?” I asked.

“Haven’t yet. That’s why I need to. Excuse me.”

Beepu stood there glowering with a black one towards the goblins.

“I really detest them,” Beepu growled.

“Because they were right?” I asked, looking at the gnome dubiously.

“Yes…what? Wait. NO! They mock what they do not understand!”

“Could be worse. The Elk tribe understood just fine, and I heard they would bury a wizard up to their neck in the dirt, pour honey on their heads, and let the ants kill them.”

“They also mock what they…what really? Where did you hear that?” Beepu asked surprised.

“A bar I’m pretty sure. But I don’t want to go back to Yartar to ask locals to confirm. So did the Booyagh have anything useful?” I asked changing the subject.

“Oh! Yes! Along with a scroll or two, there was…this!” and he pulled from the leather case at his hip, that normally carried one of his many schematics, a long thin piece of black lacquered wood. On it I could barely see a carved pattern wrapping all the way around the wood.

“It’s a wand, right?” I asked. I had never seen one before, but I had heard of them.

Beepu nodded quickly, “Yes! It can cast a spell that will throw out spider webs to restrain foes. I think this will be very useful!”

“What about the scrolls?” I asked.

“Powerful magic. I need to hang on to them until I can transcribe them. But I think you can use one of them in a pinch.” And pulling from the same leather case he produced a piece of vellum and handed it to me.

I unrolled it, and after a moment I realized that this was a scroll to create a field of darkness. I nodded and folded it to put into my pouch at my waist.

“Yep, that I can use. And I know you know that spell already. Thanks.” I said appreciatively.

“Yes…well having extra in your pouch is always a good thing,” Beepu replied. “Now if I could only eradicate those two—”

“Beepu, best way is to finish off the Prophesized One,” I said spreading my hands. “Don’t have a better option for you three.”

“You could talk to them sweetly I bet.”

“You realize they think I’m ugly. I’m more likely to scare them,” I said

“I do not see the problem with that.” Beepu said with a very passive expression.



We all gathered by the front gate and said our goodbyes just as the sun crested above the canyon walls. The women and children were tearful, giving each and everyone a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Well almost everyone.

Drik and Drok, didn’t really want the kiss or the hugs to start with. They simply offered out a hand to shake on it. Beepu was flustered at first, but he soon gave in, and was passed around like a prize pig.

We shook the men’s hands, except for me as I kissed each on the cheek. This gathered more excitement than I intended, as several tried to sneak in seconds. I think I caught them all. Then we said our final farewells.

“We wish you luck in taking the fight to the hobs! Give them hell,” Kallid said and the rest of the villagers approving.

“And travel safe, all of you,” Daneath said in response. I then raised my left hand to shoulder height, and grasped the symbol of Kelemvor with my right, I bowed my head and closed my eyes and I said the following litany:

No one should be alone, in life or death,

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

Life and Death is without deceit and has meaning,

May you all find your way to your homes,

And gaze upon the fruits of your labors,

May your kin and friends guide each other on the next step of your journey,

Because in Life there is always another waypost,

Not a destination, but a step in a Journey,

The memory of your bravery will live forever in you,

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

May He bless you with life to start anew.


Opening them, I saw the tears in their eyes, and the strength in their hearts. They would not forget, and they would become more than they were before. We all waved our final goodbyes, the villagers heading to the north west toward Secomber, while we followed the goblins south.

It was quiet for a long while; the goblins had certainty for once, and I didn’t need to lift either one onto my shoulders. But, I didn’t have a clue what they were following. The dry grass had no trails; there wasn’t so much as a rock or a tree for guidance on where to go. There were hills behind us, but even they faded into the background, and none appeared in front of us.

It was near peak, and I was about to ask how we knew where we were going, when I finally noticed it. A wind blowing from the south, and on that wind was a hint of fetid moisture. As we continued it got stronger and air had smell of rotten woods, and decaying leaves or plants. Eventually we reached a point in the grasslands, where they descended into a basin. A basin filled with water, mud and an abundance of rotting vegetation: A vast marsh.

We looked at each other and sighed. There was nothing really to say, and we started our descent into the mire. As we started down, Daneath pointed at an object at the edge. Squinting at it, it appeared to be a brown and grey structure on the very edge. Since it was the only landmark we could see, we headed towards it. As we got closer, it appeared to be a large shack on stilts on the edge.

“A cabin? Here?” Daneath asked as we approached the dilapidated building.

“Why not, someone thought it was better there than deeper in,” Iesa pointed out.

“Well they must have hauled the wood here on a wagon. It has been leagues since we saw a tree.” Beepu noticed looking around mournfully.

“This always been here?” I asked the goblins.

“Yes. Means we near marsh trail,” Drik said.

“Don’t swim here. Dangerous,” added Drok.

Beepu and I looked at each other and sent our respective familiars high into the air, and we slowly approached the shack. The ground was fairly firm, with only a slight give, but we were surrounded by water, and waist high reeds. The shack, and part of it extended over the water. Its legs were sunk into the water, making the overhang slightly submerged.

--Wow that’s big.

What?

--So is that one.

Goss—

--Two more! I’m not landing. Nope nope no—

GOSS!

--Oh…sorry. Lizard log things. They are in the water just…floating there like a—

I get it. Thanks. Don’t land.




“Beepu, is Foggle seeing—” I started.

He nodded, “Yes. I am not sure if they are alligators or crocodiles or something else.” Beepu replied moving away from the water

“The large logs…alright, how can you tell the difference?” I asked.

“I actually do not know,” Beepu said after a brief pause.

“Does it matter?” Iesa hissed. “Are they near?”

“They’re all around us,” Beepu answered. “We should be safe on the land.”

“Alright then…what about that though?” Daneath asked, pulling his sword out and holding it in front of him.

You could hear the dripping of water back into the swamp, as a figure emerged next the shack. The water poured in rivulets down a scaly green and brown hide. As it moved out of the water, I realized it wasn’t a ‘Lizard log’ but something else. It stood on two legs and in one of its arms, it held a spear. Its head had an elongated snout and eyes with pupils in the form of slits, and around its neck a necklace of teeth and bone on a leather thong. And it only was maybe fifteen paces away from us.

We froze, looking at it, its head swiveled back and forth looking at all of us. Finally, it bent slightly forward, and spread its arms wide, exposing its barrel chest. It opened its mouth wide, baring its teeth and giving a loud hissing sound, before speaking a single sibilant word.

“SSSSsssoftssskinssss!”



Session notes:

Sorry this one took so much time; some rewrites and COVID-Geddon was a thing. Yeah.

So, playing Myrai I did what any one does, and ahem…appropriated someone else’s art, did a crappy job modifying it and used it on a character sheet.

This bugged me for a lot of reasons, and my wife found out about it,. So she gave me (allowed me) to commission an artist to do a proper job.

I had the pleasure to work with a great artist on Deviant Art, who goes by the name Clayscence, and she recently republished my commission, so I’d thought I would share it with you.

Cleansing of the undead by clayscence on DeviantArt

myrai-enworldshare.jpg


Note: All copyrights on the piece belong to her, not me. I do have a commercial license for the piece.

About the artist:

clayscence - Professional, Digital Artist | DeviantArt

Home | portfolio

Vanette Kosman (@clayscence) | Twitter
 
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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Other Swamp thing - 03/29/2020

The Society of Sensation is about using your senses to understand the multi-verse. Of course, it is also about memory, so you can take that understanding to another level.

But sometimes it feels like once you have learned the secret or the lesson, the multi-verse decides to beat you over the head with it, again and again.

Which makes you wonder; did you miss something or was it just spite. Or worse yet – both.



My eyes were fixed on the lizardfolk. My heart was pounding, while my eyes darted to the murky muddy waters around us. Daneath stood there, his sword stretched in front of him. Isea had an arrow notched to his bow, but he was turning looking around. Beepu was looking at the lizardfolk, but his eyes were far and away from the scene on the ground. Drik and Drok had scattered to the bushed, each holding a crossbow and both pointing straight at the scaled figure, still dripping from its sudden emergence from the marsh.

“Sssssssssss,” came from between bared teeth of the hulking lizardfolk. Its arms twitched, remaining outstretched. But the spear it carried was still pointing to the air, and not at us. It stood where it emerged, standing in shallow water just below its knees. Its head looked at each of us, unblinking.

We stood there in the mire just…staring at each other. As if the lizardfolk was as uncertain about us as we were about it. The tension in the air was finally broken by Daneath’s practicality.

“Beepu,” he whispered. “Do you see any others?”

The gnome’s brow was knitted together in concentration. “I see alligators, but I do not see any more lizardfolk.”

“Iesa, I don’t understand,” I said. “Why is everyone on edge?”

“There should be more of them. They only hunt human in packs.” He said quickly.

“We not hunt sssoftsskins,” the lizardfolk hissed loudly. “Tale to ssscare sssoftsskin children.”

Gos, is Foggle right? Is he the only one?

--Best that I can see. The waters around are shallow and while there are lizard logs around, the water isn’t deep.

Alligators.

--Whatever


“Then if you aren’t here to hunt us, why are you here?” I yelled back.

“To…asssk…for help,” it responded hesitantly, still unmoving.

“Help?” Daneath yelled back. “Then what’s with the bared teeth and spread arms?”

The lizardfolk cocked its head to it side. “Ssself heard that sssoftsskins trussst othersss with sssmilesss and hugsss. Am missstaken?”

There was a cold silence between us. I looked at Iesa and then at Beepu next to me, and their faces must have held the same amazement as my own.

“heheheheheheh,” Drik and Drok started to roll on the marshy ground in uncontained laughter. Soon it spread to us, and I could do nothing more than giggle at the poor earnest lizardfolk’s expense. It stood there, but it had lowered its arms to a relaxed posture, as its head looked at us in what I was pretty sure was puzzlement. Finally, Daneath, sheathed his sword and we approached the Lizardfolk.

“We do trust people with smiles and hugs,” Daneath said wiping tears from his eyes. “But its not expected from…your kind.”

“So…sssself did joke?” it asked, still puzzled.

“No,” I said thinking quickly. “But it was a funny situation. And that’s good enough.”

The lizardman thought a moment, and then lowered its spear and strode out of the water and onto the marshy earth before speaking again.

“Sssself need help with fearsssome thing. It ssslew many of ssself’s tribe,” the lizardfolk said slowly. His voice was unemotional and even. That his tribe folk’s members were slaughtered was a fact, and not something to be remorseful or concerned about.

“Well, we might be able to help there. Would you be able to help us in return?” Daneath asked, eyeing the lizardfolk.

It thought a moment and then nodded, “Help how?”

“There is a hobgoblin encampment on the other side of this marsh. We need help defeating its warlord.”

The lizardfolk nodded, “Sssself knows place. Old fort of sssstone on island.”

“An island?” Iesa said surprised. “How are we going—”

“—One problem at a time,” I said. “There were goblins that were heading to that encampment. They might have warned the chief we are coming.”

“No. Thing ate them two moons ago,” it said simply.

“Ate?” Drik and Drok spoke looking at each other in discomfort.

“One less problem it would appear,” Beepu nodded approvingly, while the goblins narrowed their eyes at the gnome suspiciously.

“True…” I began to have doubts on the bargain we were making.

“So, what do we call you?” Daneath asked our new companion.

“Folk not given namesss like Sssoftssskins. We take namesss from what we do. You can call ssself, Darassstrix.”

“Darastrix?” Beepu’s ears perked up. “I am not familiar with your language, but is that not the word for ‘dragon’?”

Darastrix nodded “Not…what word? Literal. Tale of name for Folk only.”

“So, where is this thing?” Daneath said with impatience on his voice.

“Deeper in—” and Darastrix stopped talking, his head suddenly jerking to the side, nostrils flaring as he sniffed the air, and his eyes growing wider.

“No…it here,” and he clutched his spear in both of his clawed hands, whirling and facing to the west.

Goss? What do you see?

--I’m not. Crap its big!


We were standing on a path of earth, bordered on one side by the swampwater, where Darastrix emerged from, and our other side was a pond. Ahead of us, we could now hear crashing in the brush and weeds, moving closer, and louder fast. Then it suddenly burst forth from the foliage running straight at all of us.

It was huge, easily towering over Daneath, but it ran hunched. It was Its hide was a mottled gray green, with lank and limp dark hair on its head. The skin of its face and head was lean, highlighting its skull, and deep-set sockets, while a thin pointed nose jutted from its wart covered face. Its whole body looked emaciated, and covered in boils and scars, but it revealed a powerful lean physique with knotted muscles. It wore no clothes, save a leather loincloth. But what concerned me most was its clawed hands…all four of them.

But as fast as it was, Daneath was faster still, interposing himself between the monster and the rest of us. Raising his shield, he stepped forward a couple of steps and then braced for the impact, which the monster obliged. The sound of wet meat and bone colliding with the metal barrier, and the grunt of Daneath trying to stay upright. The four arms clawed at the warrior’s shield., while it bellowed a raspy grating roar.

Daneath slashed and thrust into the midsection of his hulking foe. The creatures blood sprayed the warrior, but as I watched, the wounds started to close before my eyes. Darastrix turned quickly, swinging the haft of his spear, successfully cutting the monster with its broad metal tip. But the wound on its thigh didn’t even bleed, and the wound disappeared as quickly as Daneath’s.

“Crap, it’s a troll!” Iesa shouted, mirroring my own thoughts. He retreated to a safe distance and shot with his bow, lodging an arrow deep into its breast. He then moved even farther back to give himself maneuvering room and drew another arrow.

I followed him as fast as I could and turned and pulling on dark strands, I start to shred at its life force, a skeletal hand gripping it around the neck. The troll was busy pulling Iesa’s arrow out, with a spurt of blood. But the wound didn’t close this time, as my magic held back its healing abilities.

Beepu also ran, but he decided to run around the pond in the opposite direction. He turned, and threw a bolt of fire, striking a glancing blow off the troll, with the resulting smell of burnt hair and flesh. The goblins followed Beepu as well, firing their crossbows wildly, and not even striking the troll at all. But they were faster than Beepu and quickly moved past him.

The troll, with two arms pounded Daneath. The first blow almost knocking him down to his knees, but his second right hand struck nothing but air. Daneath took advantage of the opening, shouting a triumphant battle cry, striking deep into the exposed flank of the troll. He quickly twisted his blade and ripped it back out. More blood and ichor sprayed the warrior, and the troll bellowed in pain. It looked at the warrior with grudging respect and started to run.

But not away; instead it set its sights at the next closest foe that had struck it with fire; the slow moving Beepu. Daneath quickly tried to swing and stop his foe from moving but was staggered by the troll’s strike and his blade whistled in the air, cleanly missing.

The troll quickly covered the distance to Beepu and with two left hand fists, struck the gnome. I could hear the air leave his lungs and heard the crack of bone as a fist punched Beepu in the chest. The other hand from the upper arm, came down on Beepu’s shoulder, knocking the gnome to the ground, his face contorting in pain. He tried to throw more fire at the troll, but his blast flew high into the air, missing.

Drik and Drok, who were not far from the injured gnome, dropped their crossbows and ran towards the troll each trying to cut a different leg. But the swords didn’t even blemish the hide, and seemed to cause no harm. They however, ran past and ran back behind Daneath, turning around and readying their blades for another run.

Iesa then took a shot at the troll with careful aim. The arrow would have found its mark, but the troll casually knocked the arrow away with a large hand, unconcerned. I once again pulled at a strand, but I couldn’t thread it around the troll, despite my best efforts. I watched in dismay as the deep puncture wound that Iesa had created with his shot, was now closing. The troll had a vicious, angry smile on its face as it lifted all four of its hands up, ready to crush the gnome in the mud.

“SSSSSSsssssssssssssss” was the sound that Darastrix made as it charged into the troll. The lizard folk was only slightly taller than Daneath, but it swung its spear with a savagery, unlike its calm demeanor before during our parley. Its face was a frozen mask, as it thrust at the troll, trying to land a blow. Finally he spun and with the butt of its spear, managed to smash it into the left eye socket of the troll, causing it to bellow in pain.

In anger it focused its attention on Darastrix. Both lower arms struck at him, keeping the lizardfolk off balance. Then the upper limbs grabbed the lizardfolk, its claws sinking deep into Darastrix’s scaly hide. Blood flowed from multiple wounds, as the troll held its prey in place. With a growl, the troll opened its maw and bent over to bite the helpless Darastrix, lifting him high into the air. The troll savagely shook his head to and fro, and then hurled the limp figure straight at Daneath. It roared in triumph, flexing its four arms in anticipation of crushing the almost forgotten gnome. It turned to the spot where Beepu lay and then paused.

There in the ground was a gnome shaped divot, but the gnome was no where to be found. The troll was looking around, confused and angry when Daneath collided with it, his shield smashing into the troll’s knee, while he swung overhead, slicing into the troll’s thigh. Drik and Drok then ran through, each cutting deeply into each calf of the troll, and the pair splitting off into different directions after their strike.

Before the troll could react, another arrow struck it below the clavicle, penetrating so deep, that the arrowhead protruded from the back of the troll. For the first time, the troll started to look uncertain, its head pivoting around looking for escape.

I flexed again and gripped the troll’s life once again, stripping it away painfully. The wounds that were trying to close, now suddenly reopened and bled profusely.

But it wasn’t done yet. And it raised its arms and started clawing at Daneath with all four of them. Daneath was able to deflect a pair of the blows, and responded with a thrust, a slice, and a pommel smash to its knee, causing it to howl in pain once again. It now looked desperate to run away from foes that clearly knew how to hurt it. It barely took a step to run back the way it came, when a bolt of fire slammed into its back. The blast was so hard, that a hole opened in front of Daneath, covering him with the grayish pink entrails of the troll. It then collapsed into a heap in front of the warrior with a whimpering sound, unmoving.

A bloodied Beepu, walked up from the reeds where he was hiding, and he started blasting the troll over and over with fire; his face contorted in anger.

“I was not put here for your pounding amusement,” he screamed at it, as he cast two more firebolts at the fallen figure, the reeking smell of burnt troll now was omnipresent around the pond.

I however was running, to Darastrix’s fallen form. I slid onto my knees next to him and touched nervously the scaled skin of the lizardfolk. Darastrix’s skin was thick and cold; I couldn’t tell If he breathed at all. I swallowed my fear for a moment and brushed my hair away and placed my ear to his chest, hoping for a sign. I closed my eyes and listened.

The skin against my ear was smooth and cool, as I moved my head around listening. But as I lay there, I heard nothing. I moved my hand toward Darastrix’s maw. I placed it in front of his nostrils and open jaw, trying to feel…something. Anything.

It was too late. I closed my eyes, cursing myself; angry that I couldn’t have done anything. I was about to move and check on the others when I felt…no heard something.

THUMP.

I waited a moment and moved my hand closer to his nostrils. I realized that I could feel the faintest movement of air. It wasn’t warm or cold, and it could have been mistaken from the breeze on open air. But it was instead the faintest hint of exhalation.

THUMP.

Another beat. Far slower than a human, elf or gnome. I wasted no more time and pulled on a large white strand. I whispered to Kelemvor under my breath, and poured power into the fallen lizardfolk.

THUMP.

The beat was no quicker, and I was wondering if I was just imagining it. I strained to listen, uncertain.

“Not food. Not dead,” he said suddenly, giving me, a start and I fell backwards. I started scooting backwards away from the now conscious Darastrix, who calmly sat up, and turned its head to regard me.

“Did not think Ssssoftssskins ate dead,” he said looking at me with what I thought was curiosity.

“Wha…no. I was seeing…er listening to see if you were alive…. if I could heal you!” I stammered confused by the implications of what he said.

“You…healed ssself. Not eat?”

“Eat? No!” I said horrified, my heart beating faster. In my mind I had a sudden flash of memory. A memory of a large wart covered boar like face laughing and biting down onto smooth skin. Sharpened teeth cutting muscle and touching bone, while a loud scream echoed in the background.

My scream.

I recoiled from Darastrix, my heart pounding. He looked at me with a detached look, analyzing the puzzling behavior of the softskin female in front of him.

“What the? What did you do to her?” Iesa ran up, hand on his rapier, preparing to draw it. Darastrix, didn’t move and looked at the rogue and gave a shrug.

“Do nothing. Ssshe healed. Ssshe…find something fearsssome,” He said looking back at me.

“Myr what did---”

“Nothing…he…did…nothing,” I said raising my hand at Iesa. “It wasn’t him…it was…was a memory.”

Darastrix shrugged and got to his feet. He turned to see the fallen smoking form of the troll in the mud and nodded approvingly before speaking. “Creature is now food. But not good food. Chewy. Hard to digesssst. Wassste.”

Daneath and the others came up to us now. Daneath looked at me with concern, as did Beepu. The goblins looked at me and then each other, shrugging.

“Myr what has—” Beepu started in a lecturing tone.

“Nothing,” I said between clenched teeth. “I…now is not the time to talk about it.”

“I apologize.” Beepu said wincing, holding his chest. “I think the troll broke a rib or four of mine. Can we rest somewhere?”

Darastrix nodded. “Hunting camp near. Hidden from prey. Ssssafe.”

“Good enough for me,” Daneath said sheathing his sword, and offering me a hand to pull me back up on my feet. “Let’s go.”




It wasn’t far, and it was good timing, as the sun was sinking low in the west by the time we got there. By then I was exhausted, both from the walk and the number of strands I had pulled. I had expended all the light strands I could to heal Beepu and Daneath, both of which took had taken a severe pounding from the troll. I was beyond drained and needed to rest.

Darastrix, led us off the mud, and into the water for a bit. Coming to a bank of reeds, he circled it until he came to an unremarkable section of cattails. He then lifted them away from the bank, revealing a concealed path of earth, leading within. With a quick head gesture, he motioned us inside.

Where he led us was essentially an island, surrounded by a tall wall of thick foliage. There was a raised rock, below which was room for a fire. Around the edges, were lean-tos of grass and reeds, enough for perhaps twelve people in all. Darastrix, quickly moved to a scaled hide of a crocodile, and moved it aside to uncover several cords of dry wood. He carefully pulled some wood out and placed it beneath the stone and pulled out some flint and quickly lit a fire.

We all took off our packs, and I was only somewhat paying attention to the discussion around me.

“I did not think lizardfolk knew how to make fire, much less actually use it,” Beepu remarked, watching the lizardfolk work.

“Folk civilized. Just not your civilized,” Darastrix responded. “Some things in fen not safe to eat unless cooked.”

“Oh. That makes sense. That include softskins?” Beepu asked, arching his eyebrow as we watched.

“Ssssoftssskins dangerous to hunt and not worth it,” Darastrix responded, as he built up the fire.

“Dangerous?” Iesa asked a bit puzzled.

“Firssst group easssy to hunt. Weak.” Darastrix replied in an even tone. “But other nearby group ressspond by killing folk. Folk wassste energy fighting othersss. That and sssoftssskin not good food. Like…what word? Candy; bad for you.”

“I am not a sweet!” Beepu exclaimed offended.

“Like not isss,” Darastrix responded. “Other game better for Folk. Going to get fisssh. Sssstay,” and the large lizardfolk, left the reeds leaving us to ourselves.

“Well he’s kind of nice, in that detached factual way. Kind of like Beepu with less words,” Iesa said, sitting down in front of the stone being heated by the fire.

“Very funny. Lizardfolk are very different depending on the swamp. There is a tribe near Daggerford that trade for example. But on the far south of the moors closer the Serpent Hills they are far more violent to ‘softskins’” Beepu held his fingers up as he said the word. “Probably because of the naga and yuan-ti there,”

“Can we trust him?” Daneath asked.

“Probably,” Beepu said. “They have a low value in deceit. Waste of time I bet he would say.”

“So how did he break Myrai?” Iesa said looking at me.

I swallowed. “He…didn’t. I just remembered something…best left forgotten,” I sighed and looked at them. All of them looked at me with different expressions; The goblins confused, Iesa concerned, Daneath disapproving, and Beepu unconcerned. “Look I’m…just tired. I need to rest. Wake me for last watch.”

“Sure Myr,” Daneath, “We can talk about plans in the morning.”

I made my way to a lean-to and lay out my bedroll and stripped off the chain shirt I wore. It wasn’t long before sleep took me to the realms of nightmares.




I don’t remember what day it was. The third or fourth? Did it matter? The stifling warmth of the room never changed, the fires from the braziers with that overtone of brimstone in the air, never dimmed. Time was meaningless in this place of pain. I slept when I could, in between moments; some long. Some short. But never enough.

I was awoken by the chains that held me in the air; where once I lay in a hammock of links, the chains moved along my skin and carried me in the room to a iron frame that was set out in the middle. The chains lay me on the framework, and then writhed and wrapped around my limbs holding me face up on the frame.

I didn’t resist. What would be the point? There was no escape from this place. From the deal I signed in my own blood. A bad deal, a broken deal. But a valid one from any Baatezu’s perspective. As I lay there, I turned my head slightly, to the see the familiar corpse on the ground; presevered with magic not to spoil and rot. There for me to see, to remind me why I was here. Why I endured. And how I couldn’t save him from himself, Markell’s lifeless corpse.

I was always tired now. Pain was one thing, but the healing was exhausting. Part of the deal after all; no permanent scars or damage to the body. Tear me up, put me back together, and start the cycle again. Each time was different. Each time bringing me to a new low.

Somewhere out of my vision, I could hear the click of a spoon on a porcelain teacup, followed by the sound of stirring and humming. My jailor favored tea, something acrid based on the smell, and I didn’t know how he took it. I could hear the clinking of chain links and then the delicate sipping sound from the cup, as my jailor waited to greet the next client.

I presently heard boots…no hooves on the stone, striding to the chamber with a slow deliberate gait. My head was positioned away from the doorway that let into my personal oubliette, so I couldn’t see who was approaching.

“Tanr belscan oo? Bi ghootoo tagan yatdan khuleek byani!” an unfamiliar gravelly voice said, full of malice, bile and self-amusement. I didn’t know the words, but I knew the language: Abyssal. A tanar’ri most likely.

My jailor replied, “Tanr belsca. Khogjildini oo.” And I felt the chains tighten around my outstretched limbs as I lay there. I waited in terror, the hooves approached, and finally I could see my soon to be tormentor. My heart skipped a beat as I first smelled and then saw it. It was a fetid rotten smell mixed with a powerful musk. The figure was massive; more than twice my height, if I were only standing. Its body was a bloated humanoid shape, covered with a patchy dingy brown pelt, with a hairless underbelly and chest a dark pink in color. The head was of a giant boar, with large tusks and sharp canine teeth as it grinned at me cruelly. Just over its shoulders were a pair of small feathered wings, in desperate need of preening.

I lay there, my breathing labored and quickening. As the tanar’ri regarded me with a wicked smile, it salivated looking at me, helpless to escape. As I watched, a swirl of light emanated from the fiend, a sickly blend of reds, oranges, purples and blues. I was afraid before, but now terror truly set in. I struggled against the chains that held me, desperate to run from the contract I signed. It smiled and in my head I could hear it say.

“So, what seasoning goes well with leg of aasimar?”

My eyes felt like they were going to pop from my sockets, and I screamed again, like I had the time before this, and the time before that…

I sat up, and I had the sensation of a hand across my face, stifling me. I was about to panic when I saw the stars far away, and could smell the fire burning nearby, brimstone free. I relaxed, letting my arms go limp. Glancing to my left I saw it was Darastrix looking at me, his face expressionless. I blinked and raised my hand and nodded, and he uncovered his hand from my face.

“Dreamsss not agree with you,” the lizardfolk said simply.

I shook my head. “No. They haven’t…” and I struggled to remember a time where I had happy dreams. I quickly gave up and continued, “…in a long time. Sorry.”

“Risk low. Concerned. Dream have to do with self?” Darastrix asked with that same emotionless tone.

“Well…does your kind eat things…still alive?” I asked, looking at Darastrix.

The lizardfolk blinked and shook its head. “Food is dead, not alive. Only…corruption of Sess’inek does this.”

“Sess’inek…a Tanar’ri…a demon lord.” I said quietly.

Darastrix nodded. “One hasss knowledge, if one knowsss itsss name. That one corruptsss the onessss of Ssssemuanya. Not civilized.”

I guffawed. “I guess not. I dreamt a demon did just that though.”

The lizardfolk cocked his head to regard me. “That not pleasssurable. Explainsss noissse.”

I nodded, “It wasn’t,” I said not wanting to explain that it wasn’t a dream, but a memory. I didn’t know if Darastrix could have a nightmare, but I saw no reason to explain it.

“Let me get my armor on, and I’ll, start my watch.”

Darastrix nodded and moved away. I sat there a second, and then I pulled my chain shirt over my head and started to buckle it back on.

--That was…vivid.

You were peeking?

--You were pretty much screaming in my head.

Sorry about that.

--Did that…really?

Yes. I don’t really want to…

--I don’t want to know either.


And I as I sat there in the early morning listening to the reeds move in the breeze, the only thing that I could think about was this:

It was far from the worst thing I couldn’t forget.



Session Notes:

As if the DM didn’t have enough NPCs to manage. However, I never did understand why exactly Beepu moved in the opposite direction of everyone else. It begged for trouble, which he received. The goblins were a divine intervention of sorts from my perspective, but on the other hand, they didn’t exactly stop to defend the gnome either.

And yes, more trauma from the past...there is a lot of that.

But let’s not let a mistake ruin a good story.
 
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Another enjoyable instalment.

Now, I'm not usually one to point out typos on messageboards and the like (honestly, I do enough of that in my day job, and the gods know my typing is very far from flawless), but ...

" Its whole body looked emancipated ..."

After that I didn't expect to find that it was even wearing a loincloth!! :D
 


Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Another enjoyable instalment.

Now, I'm not usually one to point out typos on messageboards and the like (honestly, I do enough of that in my day job, and the gods know my typing is very far from flawless), but ...

" Its whole body looked emancipated ..."

After that I didn't expect to find that it was even wearing a loincloth!! :D
<SMACK> I shouldn't be freeing him from his loincloth. Its not that kind of story, terror or otherwise.

I consider myself a passable writer, but its editing that always snarls me. I listened to that passage at least twice and didn't pick that up.

Thanks for sticking with me on...horrible constructions.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
I'm liking Darastrix! I'm glad he' still among the living - he brings a unique perspective to the group.

Johnathan
Wow, thanks!

Darastrix wasn't much for dialog (except that comment about smiles and hugs...THAT was pretty much a quote). However, in a completely different campaign that ran a year or so, my son and I played a set of "egg brothers," Lizardfolk from the same clutch. We basically spent a year developing cultural norms, languages and phrases in lizardspeak. I loved the characters, but after a year or so in that mindset...writing as Myrai was a palette cleanser.

So dramatizing Darastrix is about a years worth of learning to be a lizardfolk. I have about 18k words in journal style from that campaign, and my son another 5k. Its interesting...but not so much that I could build a story hour for general consumption.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
By Land and by Lake - 04/06/2020

Plans are great when you can make them. But they are only good to a certain point. Its what you do next that is important.



The lizardfolk blind was effective in concealing our presence from any hobgoblins and other denizens of the swamp. So, my watch with Darastrix was uneventful. From one perspective it was less than that, it was quiet. Darastrix was focused on the here and now. While I felt comfortable in our hiding spot, it was clear that he was not taking our safety for granted. But the way he went about it was very different than Daneath or Iesa.

Daneath on watch was ever the stalwart guardian. Watchful and observant, he would stand guard in place, using his eyes to keep watch. Iesa was the same in that regard, but rather than ‘stand’ he would find a perch; a rock or a tree to give himself elevation, no matter how slight, to get a better view.

But as I watched Darastrix, he didn’t act like a guard. Watching him was watching a predator. He would smell the air and would move constantly depending on the direction of the breeze. He didn’t stay in the blind, but would patrol outside, swimming just below the surface of the water. He wasn’t waiting for something; he was looking to ambush…no hunt anyone who might dare come close. He would come in and out of the island blind regularly, frequently giving me a start. His size didn’t hinder him at all in his ability to move quietly.

And in the water, It was even harder to follow him even with Gossamer’s eyes. He barely left a ripple in the waters as he circled around the island. And below the murky waters, his scent was completely concealed. Or at least that was what I was told.

You sure?

--Listen, even a dry lizard has a smell, and he does too.

And you can’t even smell a wet lizard?

--All I can smell is swamp…look can I come down? I don’t want to be mistaken as a snack by a lizardfolk or a lizard log.

Alligator…

--Whatever. Either! Or both! I want neither!


Soon enough it was light, and I rose the rest from their sleep, and we started to make our plans. It was then that Darastrix gave us an important piece of information.

“So, the ‘Prophesized One’s’ camp a fortress?!?” Iesa said bewildered. “And you two didn’t tell us?” he whirled accusingly at Drik and Drok.

“We never been there!” Drik exclaimed throwing his hands up.

“We listened how to get there. They used word for ‘war camp.’” said Drok defensively.

“That word only means where leader is. Not what it is.” Drik explained shrugging.

“Well I’m glad that Darastrix at least knows about it,” Daneath said looking at the lizardfolk, who was chewing on something while listening to our discussion. He then continued telling us what he knew.

“Fortresssss was ruin,” the Lizardfolk started. “Very old. Makers long gone. But wallssss sssstrong. Two buildingssss. One with door over trench. The other, on island with door over lake.”

“Two…Oh I get it. A moat house, and the fortress proper, which is on the lake. Both with drawbridges,” Beepu said after thinking about it. “That is going to be a problem.”

“Very,” said Darastrix. “Very large ones with goblinkin,” and Darastrix looked up thoughtfully. “Ogre? Yessss, ogressss in firsssst building ssself has ssseen. Only goblinsss in sssecond one.”

“Oh, that’s even better,” Iesa rolled his eyes and kicked at a stone in the muck. “Even if we get in and fight in the moat house, we’ll be cut off from the fortress.”

“Maybe,” I said thinking. Turning to Darastrix I asked a question, “The fortress is on an island. Are there any other entrances to it on the water?” The others turned to look at Darastrix expectantly.

The lizardfolk nodded. “Door opensss to …word…deck? Dock! Boatsss there.”

“If we could get one of the boats, Iesa or I might be able to force open the door,” Daneath said thinking and looked at me with a grin.

“That probably won’t work,” Iesa complained. “Those type of doors aren’t just locked; they’re barred securely from the inside.”

“Not problem,” Drik piped up.

“We open it,” Drok agreed.

“How?” Daneath asked.

“We goblins. We walk in.” Drik said.

“No one notice goblins,” Drok nodded.

“They are right,” Beepu said surprising me. But as he continued a frown appeared on his face. “It would be easy for them to do. But for the rest of us I would think they would notice a boat being taken.”

“Not at night,” I said. “They can’t see that far. And if there is a fog, even less so.”

“How do you know there would be a fog Myr?” Beepu asked.

“Because you can make one.” I replied with a smile.

Beepu’s eyes widened. “Of course, how obvious. Hard to see a missing boat in one.”

“Ok, we get in. Then what?” Iesa asked, trying to follow along.

“We turn the defenses around. We make sure that the inner drawbridge is shut and stays that way.” I said, nodding back at Daneath. “We keep the ogres in the moathouse.”

“Keeping their forces separated.” Daneath smiled. “And the longer we can sneak around, the more we can eliminate without drawing alarm.”

“Darastrix, do you think you can liberate a boat and bring it to shore quietly?” I asked.

The lizardfolk didn’t even pause for thought. “Yessss.”

“So, we get there in two day—” Isea started.

“One day.” Darastrix corrected.

“What? I thought it was longer than a day?” Daneath said surprised.

“Isss two days…the way they go. Sssself knowsss better path.” Darastrix said still chewing.

“Well! What are we waiting for!” Iesa said smiling, now excited.





Darastrix was truly knowledgeable about the fen. He led us through hidden paths within the reeds and cattails. The paths were solid and allowed us to make quick headway deep into the swamp. We were all excited to making progress and nearing the end of this journey. But as we travelled, my mood shifted a bit.

This was it, the final reckoning. The Prophesized One could pay for the blood spilled. For the lives stolen and enslaved from countless human villages. The savagery done to the elves in the High Forest. For what they had done to Alanathia in the quarry. To poor Morlea in the tree canopy in Whitepetal. To end this. For all the times I felt guilt about reveling in the taking of a life, I felt none now. I had a burning, desire…no I needed to take the blood of this goblinoid horde. To send each and every one of the savages’ corpses into the ground and their souls for judgement.

Perhaps this ‘Prophesied One; believed he was following Maglubiyet’s will. But the wanton slaughter, the unnecessary lives he took meant he had to answer to my power first. I wanted to personally send him on his way to the grave. To have him justify how so many lives could be wasted in this strange crusade of theirs.

These thoughts kept me occupied as we moved swiftly through the mire. The sun steadily moved across the sky as we traversed the swamp. It was late afternoon when Darastrix slowed, his stance shifting from moving swiftly among the reeds, to one more cautious. Once again, the predator was on full view, as he no longer used his arms to move the foliage around, but his spear instead. Poking as if he expected to find a hobgoblin sentry.

It was late in the afternoon, when suddenly he stopped and looked over his shoulder back at us. He motioned his head forward, and Iesa stepped next to him, and peered through the cattails. I knelt down next to Beepu, who watched Iesa with a critical eye. Daneath stood behind and waited. Finally, Iesa, turned around, while Darastrix kept observing.

“Well…it is as Darastrix described. Moathouse with a bridge to a keep. But that not the interesting part,” Iesa said.

“What is then?” Daneath asked impatiently.

“It looks like there was a larger force camped here, outside of the walls. Worg pens, campfires and the like. But it looks…abandoned.”

“How many are we talking about,” I asked, trying to understand the implications.

“Well, considering the forces we’ve seen, its larger than the camp was at the temple, perhaps double.” Iesa said, thinking through the numbers.

“We buried a lot of them in the tunnels…” Daneath said thinking it through. “We haven’t seen any worgs since the village. This could be bad.”

“Bad?” I said surprised. “How is this bad?”

“If this is the last of the Prophesized One’s forces, it will be a last stand,” Daneath said grimly. “They will have nothing left to lose; that makes it more dangerous.”

“Ssssoftssskin correct on both,” Darastrix hissed at us quietly. “Mossst have left ssssome time ago. Like wounded prey, will desssperate. Dangeroussss.”

“Does it change anything?” I asked concerned.

“No,” Iesa said. “The plan we talked about will work, if we cut off the moathouse from the keep. We just need to be sure.”

“I will use my magic to hide Foggle,” Beepu said. “We cannot risk being wrong.” He then muttered quietly, and caused is brass owl to disappear, and it took to the air with an almost silent beat of its wings.

“Ussseful Sssscout,” Darastrix observed.

“Lashers will be very watchful,” Drik remarked. “But camp abandoned, means all will be in fort.”

“Fort will have guards on walls. Patrols are question,” Drok echoed.

“What? Inside or outside?” Iesa asked.

“If few in number, they will not patrol. Too few to guard fort,” Drik said.

“Worgs best for patrols; can smell better than lashers see,” Drok said. “If no worgs, lashers will stay in walls. No patrol.”

“What about the boats?” Daneath asked Iesa.

“On the south side I saw the dock, with maybe two boats,” He moved back to where Darastrix was watching and looked again, before turning back to us. “A single one is large enough for all of us.”

“Well, as long as Beepu’s fog works, we should be good to get the boat and get to the dock.”

“Will they be watching it?” I asked the goblins.

“Lashers not like boats. When lasher talk, concerned about humans coming, not elves.” Drik said.

“Lashers know humans not like fight at night. And elves not leave forest.” Drok explained.

“Well, the moathouse is a burned-out ruin,” Beepu spoke up, getting our attention, his eyes looking beyond us. “No buildings inside, but at least two ogres and perhaps a dozen hobgoblins there. One is on each wall. The keep is in better shape, two buildings…and a guard on each wall except the ones facing the moat house. But it seems very light overall.”

“Sounds like it.” Daneath said. “I guess the only problem will be the noise we make breaking in.”

“No,” I said smiling. “I can prepare a silence ritual and have it cover the dock and door. They won’t hear us.”

“Good idea,” Iesa said with his own wolfish grin. “I kill the guards and make sure the drawbridge is up.”

“Well it is down now, so you will have to make some noise to pull it up,” Beepu said still focusing his thoughts through Foggle. “Unless they pull it up in the evening.”

“I guess we’ll find out at nightfall” Daneath said, sitting down on a rock. “Let’s rest and wait.”




I dozed lightly, there on the damp earth as we waited for the sun to set and darkness to rise. The moon that they called Selune had already risen, its half face spreading a pale light on the reeds where we hid. Darastrix had just whispered something to Iesa, when he slipped away into the waters, making his way to the keep. Iesa in turn whispered to Beepu, who stood next to the reeds. But instead of following, he was busy watching through Foggle’s eyes. After a while he smiled and nodded to himself and stepped through the reeds, waving us to follow him.

We emerged from the thick stand of plants, and finally I had a good look of the keep. From where I stood it reflected the slivery white grey of the moonlight. The tops of its walls had crenellations, with parts that had broken away giving it the look of broken worn out teeth. The walls jutted from a rocky island, surrounded by black waters of the lake.

But it was far from lifeless, torches were lit at regular intervals. But as I watched I couldn’t see any movement at all on the walls. I leaned over to Beepu and asked.

“So, is the drawbridge up or down?”

“It’s down. Right now I was having Foggle check for gaurds. Seems that each wall has a single guard, and they do not move along the walls.”

“Then why so many torches?” I wondered.

“Lasher trick,” Drik whispered at me.

“When few guards, many torches lit to make it seem many,” Drik explained quietly.

I nodded. I had hoped that we really had thinned out their numbers, for as eager as I was to slaughter the hobgoblins and end this, I did want to walk away.

Ready for this?

--What me? I’d rather take a nap.

I’m sure. But someone has to watch my back.

--I suppose that is true. I hope you find what you are looking for.

So do I.


“Darastrix is at the dock,” Beepu simply, and the began to cast. I watched mist boil and billow up from the waters of the lake. It spread swiftly from the dock to the shore, covering the waters in a dense bank of cloudy fog.

“We have some time before it melts away,” Beepu and once again, he looked away through Foggle’s eyes. “But the hobgoblins do not seem to have reacted.”

“What do you mean?” Daneath asked, looking at the gnome with curiosity.

“They have done nothing. They have not even moved from the walls or raised an alarm.”

“Then hopefully Lady Tymora might be with us,” Iesa said with a smile.

“That would be a nice change,” Daneath said nodding and a small smile.

I nodded in agreement. As the other waited for Darastrix with a boat, each were doing their own preparations. Iesa was checking his blades, assuming there would be close quarters fighting, and Daneath was doing much the same. Drix and Drox both were checking the edges of their own swords, and the remaining bolts they had for their crossbows. Beepu, checked his pouch for the key items he needed for his spells. As for me, I knelt on the shore of the lake and closed my eyes and prayed.

My lord Kelemvor. I humbly ask for victory today.

I do it for the ones already fallen.

I do it to forestall others from falling to the blades of this cruel tyrant.

I do it to cull the ones that cut short the lives not lived to their fullest.

I do it because Death is a part of Life, but wanton death was not part of your intent.

I do it because I am willing and able.

I do it because I must.

Please bless my actions.

Please guide my hand.

Please let me balance the scales you hold.

I pray to thee.

May their Death’s grant peace.




“So, will the Lord of the Dead bless us tonight?” Iesa asked me, noticing my prayers.

“I have faith he does. Otherwise…” I trailed of for a moment and then I stood and took a deep sigh and shook my head. “I can’t imagine him not. Too much blood has been…needlessly spilled,” and I looked Iesa in the eye. “What has been done has to end.”

From the edge of the fog over the lake water I saw the swimming form of Darastrix. Trailing behind him was a rope, towing an empty boat. He seemed unhindered by its bulk. As he approached the shore, he quickly stood in the shallows, and directed the boat to shore easily and quietly., beaching it He then strode out of the water and approached the others, who had gathered in front of me.

“Myr…I don’t suppose you could…bless us,” Daneath asked awkwardly.

I was taken aback, but I quickly acceded. “Alright,” and I gripped the symbol around my neck and chanted a litany.

“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,

Please grant us your blessing in battle,

And gaze upon our righteous cause.

May your judgement on the souls that fall here be just.

Because Death is never an end, but a waypost,

Not a destination, but a Journey,

The memory of our deeds will live forever in you.

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

May Death grant peace.


As I said the words, I looked over my companions; my friends old; The Knight, The Tinman, the Fingerpainter, each of whom bowed their head respectively. The goblins looked at me approvingly, perhaps not understanding all of the meaning behind our actions but understanding enough. Of course, Darastrix stood there looking at me with that same expression of puzzled scrutiny that he always seemed to look at us with. Finally, he shrugged saying only, “If wordsss turn foe into food then effort worthwhile. Hard to determine if it helped.”

“I guess that’s the definition of faith then,” I said.

“We leave now. Will open door crack.” Drik said.

“Good luck Booyagh,” Drok said to me and the brothers darted off into the darkness towards the moat house.

“I cannot believe I trust them,” Beepu said watching them depart.

“Why do you then?” I asked.

“Because we talked on a watch. They do not like me. But talking with them, they like their lashers far less. So, it is something we can agree on.”

“Well,” I said patting the gnome on the shoulder. “It’s a start.”

“Perhaps. I still need to make a bigger hat.” He replied with a smirk.

“Let’s go while the fog holds,” Daneath said. And we then all moved into the lake water to board the boat. The brothers helped Beepu and me in before clamoring in themselves, while Gossamer just flitted onto a bench on the boat on his own. Darastrix then pushed the beached vessel back into the waters, and once again towed it behind him into the fog.

I took a breath as we entered the mist, now trusting our guide to lead us to the dock. I sat there and began focusing and slowly weaving strands together. Delicately forming a matrix that I could anchor once I saw the dock.

Casting a spell in some respects was easier; normally it would pull on a hidden source withing yourself that would fill over time. For Beepu it seemed he could cast far more magic than I ever could. I always felt winded after only a couple incantations. But, unlike him I could just rest a while and regain some of my power back, where he would need a night’s sleep to fully recover.

But casting a ritual spell required tapping into the Weave itself and finding free energy within it. It was slower and easy to disrupt, but it allowed you to conserve your own energy. Fortunately, Darastrix pulling the boat across the open water of the lake was smooth making it easy to focus. Just as I had put the final touches on the delicate strands I pulled together, I opened my eyes and watched the gloom for our destination.

Beepu’s fog was very thick, so when the dock finally did appear, it was sudden. The wooden posts suddenly emerged into view, and I could feel the boat slow as Darastrix used his skills in the water to slow our approach. I looked at Beepu to catch his attention and then looked up quickly.

He caught my meaning and whispered, “Still nothing from the guards. Iesa can you see the door?”

Iesa had the sharpest vision out of all of us and after a moment he nodded and pointed, mouthing the word “there.” I followed where he indicated and I could just make out the dark shape of a doorway, not but four paces away from the docks edge. I then looked at the nearest piling supporting it and flexed, binding the complex web of magic and anchoring it. All I had to do now was keep it fixed there.

The silence was sudden; the sound of water lapping at the edges of piles and the boat were gone, as were the sounds of our breathing. But it didn’t still the thumping of my heart. If anything, it was even more apparent. But the others reacted quickly; Daneath and Iesa quickly lashed the boat to the dock, and climbed out, now unconcerned with the noise that either could make.

Daneath pulled me up out of the boat last, having lifted Beepu out already. Gossamer took to the air and flew level with my shoulder. Darastrix had pulled himself out of the water and was clearly on edge. His sight was already impaired with the fog, and the lack of sound clearly bothered him; two senses lost to a predator. But like Gossamer, I watched him sniff the air critically, both trying to catch the scent of anything. All I could smell was water, a hint of smoke from the torches above, and a faint hint what I thought was hay or straw. If he smelled anything else that gave him concern, he didn’t make any signs.

Iesa had made his way to the door and tried to pull it open. He looked at us with a worried expression and shrugged helplessly. I was concerned, as the door should have been open for us already. But it was possible that they were delayed. I hoped that was all it was. All we could do was wait.

I tapped Beepu on the shoulder and pointed upwards. It was strange not seeing Foggle anywhere, but his vision was critical to us now under the fog. Beepu simply gave me a single thumbs up. I nodded in response and turned to watch the door nervously.

We couldn’t see the top of the wall through the fog, and we hoped they couldn’t see us either. The fact that they could be shooting arrows at us and we would never know until someone was visibly spurting blood was a chilling thought.

Finally, Iesa he made a broad motion with his arms. The door had opened, and I then saw Drik and Drok clearly and wordlessly laughing, as they tried to shout at us and each other. It put a smile on my face, despite the bloody task ahead of us.

Daneath drew his sword, and we all moved and pressed ourselves against the wall, as he opened the oak door into the keep, just a crack. And then he swiftly moved inside.

My heart was pounding. Unable to see my mind was racing ahead thinking what was going on. But it was only a moment when Daneath waved for us all to enter. We then all moved quickly, eager to get some solid cover before being seen.

Once through the door, we found ourselves underneath the remains of an awning that had seen better days. To the right of the door was a shack, and in front of us was an open courtyard, with a large building to our right, and what looked like chapel straight across from us. Looking around it was clear that there were no hobgoblins wandering around, but Iesa motioned us all towards the shack. As we moved away from the door, the sounds reappeared; our quiet steps on the stone and the sounds of insects buzzing and chirping nearby. We all entered the shake, and Iesa closed the door behind us. The creak of the door was barely audible, but from my perspective it was deafening after the silence.

Gos, stay out here and keep an eye out

--Of course.


As we entered, I heard noise of tiny hooves on straw, and I looked at Iesa confused.

“Goats,” he whispered. “They’ll cover our noises a bit, but don’t startle them.”

I nodded unwilling to say anything.

“What kept you two?” Daneath asked Drik and Drok.

“Ogres wanted food,” Drik said sourly.

“A lot of food,” Drok nodded.

“Glad you made it across you two. Time to make lasher pay,” Beepu said with a small grin, to which the golbins returned their own wicked grins.

“Beepu, still the same on the walls?” Daneath continued.

“Yes. They have not moved.” Beepu said.

“Go Iesa. Best of luck,” Daneath said clapping his brother on the shoulder.

Iesa nodded and exited the shack through the same creaky door.

“Where’s he going?” I asked.

“There is a set of stairs farther along the wall,” Daneath explained. He’s going to ascend them and start taking down the guards and make his way to the drawbridge and then close it. They he’s hopefully going to jam the works so it can’t be opened.”

“He has killed one guard already,” Beepu said distantly. He’s already turned the corner and moving northwards on the wall towards the bridge.

“Hey Myr, couldn’t you do that same silence again on the drawbridge?” Daneath suddenly asked.

“Well, if I had time yes. But it won’t help if there are guards in the moat house. I can’t make it that big.”

“He has killed a second one. Not a sound,” Beepu said again barely listening to us.

“It may not matter then,” Daneath said shrugging.

“Eager to take care of problem,” Darastrix said. “Do not want to hide.”

“Problem? Your people had issues with them too?” I asked, realizing I never inquired why Darastrix was willing to trade help for troll.

“They problem. Eat too much. Wassste much. Harrasssed folk. Good to remove,” the lizard folk replied, looking more at ease now that he could hear again.

“Daneath. Three hobgoblins just entered the courtyard,” Beepu said with concern on his voice.

“Where from?”

“There are two intact structures in this area. A chapel north of us, next to the drawbridge, and a manor house to the east. They just left the manor house and are heading…towards the bridge.”

“Where’s Iesa?” Daneath asked with a note of panic on his voice.

“He just killed a third guard, and he’s approaching the winch to the bridge.”

“Oh crap,” Daneath said and pulling his cloak around him he moved out of the shack.

“What the?” I said aloud. I moved to towards the northern wall of the shack, where a shutter was closed.

“Not understand,” Drik said confused.

I opened the shutter and spied at the courtyard. There I saw three very large hobgoblins walking with purpose. I then saw Daneath in his cloak, trying to intercept them.

“He is out of his mind!” Beepu exclaimed. “He does not even know goblin.”

“Talking to lasher, not good.” Drok said.

“What’s he saying Beepu, I can’t hear him well enough from here,” I said watching Daneath waving his arms. The three hobgoblins had stopped in their tracks as they looked at the warrior.

“Um…he keeps saying ‘kakta ordtan barrak.’” Beepu said confused.

“That make no sense in goblin,” Drik said wrinkling his nose.

“What does that even mean?” I asked with a feeling of dread coming across me, as our luck started to fade in front of my eyes.

“No sense. ‘Privy empty sausage.’” Drok said looking at Drik confused.

“He’s asking for an outhouse?” I said shocked. “He can’t be—”

“The drawbridge is closing,” Beepu said. “It must be counterweighted. Foggle can hear shouting now.”

I could hear that as well, and I turned to look at Daneath again. It was clear our cony was up, and the hobgoblins charged at the warrior, their blades hitting his shield. At the sounds of the metal on metal, Darastrix and the goblins bolted out of the shack to join in the fray.

“Four more just left the chapel,” Beepu said. “I think we should stay here and use our…” his voice trailed off his face contorting in confusion. “They have a sorcerer it appears, and he is starting a spell.”

“Well we better start doing our own—”

“Oh no!” Beepu said, the color in his face draining away.

“Beepu wha--?”

I never completed what I was going to say, but everything slowed down as I heard the approaching roaring of flames. My world then erupted, with blinding light and searing heat as fire covered my flesh in an inferno of pain. I saw the gnome standing in front me cover his face and cower reflexively as the fireball consumed us both.

Session notes:

Ouch.
 
Last edited:



Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The One - 4/11/2020

There aren’t many goblins in Sigil. In fact, I believe there are more kobolds in the city than all of the goblinkin combined. Probably has to do with the difficulty of attacking the Cage with gate keys to start with. Not that the Sinkers or the Hardheads would have minded a good fight just for the change of pace.

But the stories of the goblins and the orcs never ending warfare in Acheron was well known. Maglubiyet against Gruumush, their petitioners waging enternal war. Even the Drow would take a break from warfare even it was only to scheme about other plots.

So, I don’t think many Sigilites really understood how much a problem that a living horde of goblins caused primes. Or understand anything about them beyond the battles in Acheron.

Myself included.



Wood and fiery splinters flew everywhere as the wave of heat washed over me as the shack was blown apart by the spell. The smell of burning embers, hair and flesh stung inside my nostrils as I gasped for breath. And as sudden as the blast came, it was over; the cool night air rushed in, and the light faded back to the dim moonlight the covered the courtyard once again.

I threw off the timbers that had fallen on my back in anger and I shook my head to clear it. The shack was now obliterated, and I looked around for options. Still seething, I started looking around the keep for who cast that spell.

In the middle of the courtyard, Daneath was fighting three hobgoblins alone, bringing down one just as I glanced his way. Drik and Drok had separated and were firing their crossbows at Daneath’s assailants, creating havoc around the warrior. One tried to run to attack one of the goblins, only to be cut down from behind by Daneath.

I then saw that Beepu was still alive and had already ran towards the manor house, swearing openly and his hair still smoking. He stopped a short distance from Daneath and decided to keep the odds in our favor. He drew out the wand he acquired in the canyon several days ago and with a snap of his wrist, flung thick ropy webs around the entrance to the manor house, holding it fast. The thick oak doors now shook and creaked as the occupants inside attempted to push them open to no avail.

Meanwhile, Darastrix made a loud hiss and charged into another trio of hobgoblins, grabbing all of their attention to him and his spear work. He quickly gutted one, with a spray of blood and it quickly collapsed lifeless to the ground. This gave an unnoticed Iesa a perfect opening to cut down a another one from the rear, leaving one left.

“How nice of you all to come to us and DIE!” I heard coming from above. Looking up I saw a hobgoblin dressed in leather armor and holding in his hands a violet crystal, hovering in the night air. His grin was full of yellowing sharp teeth, and dark eyes of hatred and malice. As he hovered there in the air grinning, I could feel his will on the weave, as he started to cast another large spell.

“If not by fire, then perhaps by FROST!” He screamed at us, and the crystal in his hands flared to life with a piercing light. I then heard the sound of rock or stone, falling fast in the air. Just above the hobgoblin I saw them; large blue boulders made of ice, falling from the air. The ice slammed into both groups of combatants, striking everything on the ground, friend or foe alike. I could feel the waves of cold as each boulder of ice landed.

Iesa simply spun away, avoiding the ice entirely. He thrust his rapier into the remaining hobgoblin as somehow the hobgoblin managed to avoid being hit by the ice. Daneath however, simply raised his shield overhead, helping to deflect some of the damage caused by the storm. But he found himself harried as the he swung at the hobgoblins next to him, also unimpacted by the storm.

But he wasn’t alone, as Drik and Drok fired at the hobgoblins with their crossbows. They were fortunate, as was Beepu and I, as none of us had to contend with the storm of ice. But I heard the snap of bone and a groan. Turning I saw that Darastrix wasn’t so lucky, and had fell unmoving to the ground, from the icy onslaught, bleeding profusely from a gash in his skull.

I moved, ignoring what pain I felt, passing by Iesa as he ran towards Daneath, to assist with the remaining hobgoblins. I ran and knelt down, extending a hand on Darastrix and whispering a quick prayer and pulled on a light strand pouring its energy into his fallen form. I could see the subtle increase in his breathing, and I knew then he was still with us.

“This is intolerable!” Beepu yelled from behind me. I heard the whooshing of a bolt of fire streaking through the air and turned to see Beepu had tried to strike down the booyagh.

The bolt was wide, and the hobgoblin was unimpressed. “Little wizard, you are no match for a trained warrior in the arts of sorcery!” He then countered with a bolt of his own, striking the gnome directly in the chest, and almost knocking him down. But it was enough.

The webs blocking the doors to the manor now started to weaken, and fray apart under the pressure from the door. Beepu shook his head and then dejectedly looked at the doors before sighing deeply and saying.

“Of all the times to lose focus.”

From the doors, burst forth four more hobgoblins. One of them was far larger, wearing steel armor and bearing a shield. “Time to die humans!” He bellowed at the humans in front of him and charged headlong towards Daneath and Iesa.

“Oh no you don’t,” I said under my breath. I took off running to the other side of the courtyard, straight at the pack of hobgoblins, leaving Darastrix where he lay. As I ran, I pulled from my pouch two items, a single coin, a greenie and a sealed piece of parchment that Beepu had given me. With a stroke of my thumb, I broke the seal and read the two words of power there.

Anlaga Nix!

I felt the sudden surge from the weave, and I focused on it on the greenie as the scroll turned to ash.

I couldn’t see what I did, but as I approached them the expressions on all the hobgoblins’ faces was clear, utter confusion. They all stopped in mid charge, blinking and twisting around with blank looks on their faces. They no longer could see anything even as I ran next to them, not even themselves.

“What?!? You can’t hide from me!” the armored hobgoblin growled in frustration.

They swung blindly, unable to see through the darkness that now surrounded the hobgoblins. I then moved, and suddenly pulled the darkness away, revealing one of the hobgoblins. I saw his confusion, and then panic, as both Iesa and Daneath charged at him, and swiftly cut him down with thrusts to his exposed midsection with sword and rapier.

“I thought you knew how to fight in the dark,” I retorted. Smiling, I moved again, uncovering another hobgoblin and Daneath quickly stepped in and smashed the pommel of his sword into the nose of the surprised hobgoblin, breaking it and spraying blood everywhere. As the hobgoblin staggered in pain, Iesa thrust his dagger from his left hand, into his back. The hobgoblin, gurgled, spat up a little blood and fell.

Suddenly, from the doorway of the chapel, another four hobgoblins appeared, ready for battle. But Beepu was ready again with his new toy and flung more spider webs around the entrance.

“Stay you mongrels!” Beepu shouted at the pack, and they howled in incoherent fury, as they found themselves trapped unable to move.

“You STOLE that from my apprentice!” the booyagh yelled and he threw another firebolt at Beepu, this time only grazing him across the arm.

“You lose it you…well…lose it!” Beepu said angrily.

“You need to work on your banter,” Iesa said as I moved again, allowing him to cut down another hobgoblin.”

“It is not important, that web IS you dolt!” Beepu responded with a glare of annoyance.

“Time for you to die you, pathetic excuse for a molerat!” the booyagh yelled once again, preparing another large spell.

“Time to put you in the dead book!” I shouted and I threw two bolts of purple energy at the hobgoblin drifting above. He turned just in time to see them strike, one in the stomach, and the other in the throat.

The hobgoblin screamed as he dropped like a rock, onto the roofline of the chapel, breaking tiles on the shale roof, and rolling down the far side, presumably to the landing that surrounded it. I then dropped the greenie on the ground, leaving the darkness centered where it lay, and I ran to a set of stairs that would take me to the top of the curtain wall.

Goss, any idea about the other ones in the moat house?

--Not a clue; I’ll flit over there and take a peek.


As I ran up the stairs, I could hear more crossbows, followed by the sounds of quarrels slamming into a body with yelps of pain. I moved along the wall, looking for where the hobgoblin had fallen. Not seeing him, I ran around the roofline of the chapel quickly, not wanting him to escape from me. I then turned a corner and caught the flash of fire in my eyes just in time to raise my shield to block a bolt from hitting me.

“You foolish female; you think that you can defeat me!” he snarled, defiantly.

“Oh, you have a lot of gelbas to say that to me after I knocked you from the air,” I said looking at him evenly.

“I will enjoy killing you. Any last words?”

“Just one. Lizard.” I said calmly.

He looked at me puzzled, and then screamed as a spear was thrust through his back and out his chest with a gush of blood. The hobgoblin was lifted off his feet by Darastrix by his spear and then with both hands, the lizardfolk slammed the spear shaft down, smashing the hobgoblin on the stone. The hobgoblin twitched momentarily and then made a choking sound as blood poured from his mouth.

“Am not a lizzzzard,” Darastrix corrected calmly.

“I know…I just wasn’t sure if ‘Lizardfolk’ was one word or two. I panicked, sorry,” I said shrugging, and turning around to see how the others were doing.

“Not sssssure. Cannot Ssspell,” Darastrix said as he ran with me back around the wall.

--Myr, the ogres are mad, but it seems that they have a lack of rope and tools to get across.

Keep an eye on them thanks.


The two of us followed the roofline again and rounded the corner, where we could see the open courtyard. I stopped just above the entrance to the chapel, while Darastrix ran past me to get to the stairs by the wall. There I saw that the large armored hobgoblin had fought his way out of the darkness I had left behind and was swinging at Daneath with his sword. Crossbow bolts bounced off his heavy armor, while Iesa kept trying to flank him without success. Beepu was running around the courtyhard, trying to keep a single hobgoblin off him, while the other three were still mired in webbing below me.

“So…you’re the ‘Prophesized One,’” Iesa said with a wolfish grin. “We’ve been so looking forward to meeting you.”

The hobgoblin laughed as he turned to face Iesa. “FOOLS! You understand NOTHING!” Barring his teeth, he suddenly twisted and slammed his shield into Daneath, knocking him down to the ground. The hobgoblin then spun around with a wide sweep and sank his blade deep into Iesa’s side. Iesa grunted and stumbled as the blood poured forth, gushing down his leg. The hobgoblin then withdrew his sword and lifted it overhead, bringing it down on the shocked Iesa, who crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood.

Daneath scrambled to his feet in a panic and swung again at the warlord, who deftly deflected his blow. Meantime, the other hobgoblin swung at Beepu, slashing him on the arm. Beepu ran and reached into his pouch and pulled out a vial, pouring the contents on his hand, and flung ice towards the hobgoblins still trapped in the webbing. The ice exploded, spraying the threads with fresh blood. The three hobgoblins hung in the strands motionless. But Beepu kept running trying to shake his pursuer.

Darastrix had reached the warrior, and thrust with his spear, but was easily sidestepped by the agile warlord. Daneath again swung, and his blade went wide as the warrior started to tire, much to the hobgoblins’ delight. The warlord swung and dropped Daneath to his knees, panting for air.

“Now. You will die!” he snarled.

“I think not!” And I cast a pair of shimmering bolts straight at the hobgoblin. One was deflected by a pauldron, but the other hit him square in the chest. He looked at me with anger saying, “It will be your turn to face death soon enough,”

“I’ve been dead before. My lord sent me back for deaders walking like you!” I yelled back, keeping his eyes on me. I was fairly certain he wasn’t watching what I was doing before I hit him with the bolts. So, when Iesa leapt from the ground and thrust his sword deep into his back, it came as a shock. Blood spurted from the wounds and from the warlord’s mouth, but he wasn’t finished. He turned and slammed Iesa’s face with his shield, knocking the Knight of the Post back to the ground, gasping for air. Darastrix tried again to impale the hobgoblin, but his spear was knocked away by the warlords’ sword.

Two quarrels sank deep into Beepu’s pursuer, as Drik and Drok determined if they couldn’t hit the warlord, they could hit something else. As the hobgoblin fell, there was a cheer from behind the barrels and crates of “CLUMSY!” Beepu, took advantage of the sudden freedom, and threw a bolt of fire straight at the warlord hitting him square in the ribs.

I used the last of my strands to send energy to Daneath, closing the wounds I could see on him, as I changed tactics and summoned a miasma around the warlord. The sound of funeral bell rung as I tried to strip the last of his life away. He roared in anger and started to step towards me.

But in doing so, he had dropped his guard, and Daneath swung high at the warlord’s neck. The blood splattered the warrior from the new gash left behind, his head almost liberated from his body. The hobgoblin stumbled for a couple of steps, before falling to the ground flat on this stomach. He lay there breathing raggedly, as I strode towards him.

“As I said, a deader walking. May the Lord of the Damned find someplace nice for your soul, Kanlachdt,” and I spat on the ground in front of his face.

We stood there around the body, catching our breath watching as the pool of blood slowly stopped spreading on the stone. Beepu limped over, as did Drik and Drok as we looked at the fallen figure, not quite believing the fight was done.

“Myr…what was that word you used? I didn’t recognize it.” Iesa asked me in between pants.

“It’s a swear word from Baator…from hell. It literally means ‘worm grown.’”

“Do you actually speak the language or just the colorful parts?” Beepu asked.

“I actually speak it…hard on the throat though,” I replied.

Drik and Drok, came over to the body and rolled it over and looked at the face. They then started talking excitedly in goblin to each other.

“Hey, what’s going on you two?” Iesa asked rubbing his side.

“This not Prophezied One,” Drik said.

“This lasher named ‘Kenoc the Scarred,’” and Drok pointed at the face, which was indeed covered in a large number of scars.

“You have to be joking,” Daneath said exasperated. “What? Is he hiding somewhere?”

“We’d better start looking,” Iesa said standing up straight. “We can’t let him escape.”

“Well, the moat house seems to have lost its troops,” Beepu said, his eyes far away. “It looks like they gave up and ran.”

Goss? Are they really all gone in the moathouse?

--As far as I can tell yes.


“Beepu, tell Foggle to fly down to Darastrix and warn him if they return,” Daneath started. “Darastrix, can you watch from the walls if they start coming up by the water?”

“Will do sssoo after I bar door,” and Darastrix ran off to the entrance we had used to enter the keep, to confirm it being closed and locked.

“Let’s get inside and see what we can find,” Daneath continued. “We better stick together. You too Drik, Drok,”

The goblins nodded, recovering some quarrels on the ground and reloading.

Goss, pulling you back. Need you with me.

--What ok I…URK!


The black tressym appeared in a puff of black fur, looking almost surprised, before dropping to the ground, following us into the manor house.

The door was already open as we entered what probably was a hall for feasting. Now, on the dais where some lords throne once stood was a grisly display. A large block of granite was placed in the center, with dried blood staining the front where blood once ran free. Beside it was a rack of weapons from top to bottom, a headman’s axe, then a crossed sword and hand axe, a flail and on the ground a barbed whip. All stained in blood. But it was the spears set around the block that gave me the chills. Three spears, each with three heads, most humans, but some elves as well. Each ones’ mouth open, as if to utter a silent scream. But it was the eyes I wanted to forget; each of them had their eyelids sliced off as they watched the makeshift temple forever.

I swallowed, feeling the lump in my throat. My anger had not abated, and this desecration of the dead was beyond offensive. My heart pounded as I seethed.

“There seems to be a floor up, and set of stairs going down?” Iesa after looking around said. “Which way first?”

“Up,” Daneath said. “Clear the place top to bottom.”

Goss, can you hide in here and watch the stairs and the entrance. Make sure no one leaves?

--Sure thing…you alr—

No…I need to kill this foul prophet.

--Myr…you should--

DROP IT.


“Goss is watching down here, let’s go up then.”

Daneath and Iesa started up the stairs, with the goblins next and the Beepu and I close behind. We had just all entered the landing and were looking around; a hallway and a large room to a side, when we heard a gravelly shriek. Whirling, we saw two dirty hobgoblin women ready to fight: one with a cleaver the other with a cast iron pan. But once they saw Daneath and Iesa with their weapons drawn, they looked at each other nervously.

“Drik, Drok? Can you tell them to surrender and answer questions?” Iesa asked.

“Yes. Gefan uppt ogta talri san!” Drik shouted. The hobgoblin women were surprised, and glared at the two goblins with crossbows, who they had not noticed before. They bared their teeth and tightened their grip on their makeshift weapons.

“Gefan uppt ogta talri san!” I shouted, pulling on a strand to increase the volume of my voice. They turned and looked at me with wide eyes before dropping the kitchen implements on the ground, cowering in fear.

Iesa started looking around in the room, as I knelt in front of them, looking at them in the eye. “Drik, ask them where is—”

Hvan er Spak Unic?” Dirk barked without even letting me finish. I looked at the pair and while they looked at Drik and Drok with contempt, they were afraid to meet my eyes. Finally, one spoke:

“Unic er han nedin!” she said, her gaze constantly shifting from glancing at me, and the floor.

“Somewhere below,” Drok said. “Strange not up here.”

“Why is that?” Daneath asked.

“Lasher rule from above. Like towers a lot.” Drik said.

“Use stools to stand on to yell at goblins,” Drok continued.

“Well, there is a pantry here we can lock them in until we figure out what to do with them,” Iesa pointed out.

Daneath pointed with his sword, to the small pantry, and the women slinked in like beaten dogs. He closed the door, while Iesa fiddled with the lock with his picks. “Remind me to look for the keys later.”

“Noted,” Daneath said. “Drik, Drok. Watch them here; shoot to kill if they leave.”

“Must we?” Drik whined which was followed by Drok elbowing him hard and nodding.

We quickly looked over the floor first and found only bedrooms turned into barracks. One room was clearly the warlords, based on the collection of weapons and the trunks inside. Another seemed to be the booyagh’s. But we found no one else.

We quickly returned to the first floor and looked around; a simple kitchen and smaller rooms used as a barracks, but again, no one left to oppose us now.

“This is almost strange. Did we really kill everyone?” Iesa said in a hushed tone.

“Just not the one who needs to die,” I said grimly. I was getting impatient. I wanted this to end. I wanted this hobgoblin to pay, and here he was hiding somewhere f;rom us. What kind of coward was this ‘Prophesized One?’

“Something feels off, but I guess down we go,” Daneath said, and the four of us descended the stairs, with I noticed Gossamer following along. The stairs curved, and eventually we found ourselves in a large storage room. The room, however had been converted, in a similar manner as the main hall. More spears with heads hanging from their hair were staked in the room. Lit braziers and torches made the room uncomfortably warm and a bit smokey. The only sound in the room was the fluttering of the fires in the lit braziers. On the far end of the room was a table with various books and strips of cloth laying upon it.

What was strange was beyond that was a set thick velvet of three curtain, hung from makeshift ropes on the ceiling, in a triangular shape. Inside it seemed to be concealing something on a square pillar, perhaps made of stone or wood.

“Where is he?” Beepu said breaking the silence.

--Can you smell it?

Huh? Smell what?

--Something…spoiled. Something…familiar.

Can you find it?

--Of course! Let me poke around.


I raised my hand up catching everyone’s attention. “Goss, smells something.”

“What is it?” Daneath asked impatiently.

I gestured with my hand towards the tressym, who now casually was moving to the center of the room where the table was, sniffing the air. Occasionally he would open his mouth slightly and almost pant looking around, taking in the air and tasting it. Finally, he jumped on the table and sniffed around. He avoided the books and instead took an interest in the cloth strips.

--This is peculiar. I wonder…

What? Wonder what?


Gossamer ignored me and flew down to the velvet curtains and pushed with his face inside. We all looked at each other and started towards the center, when Gossamer emerged and sat down on the floor, and looked at me.

--Myr…you have a problem.

What are you talking about?

--Just look inside the curtains.


I looked at Gossamer confused, and slowly moved towards the velvet. As I approached, I finally caught whiff of a scent. Something familiar that I couldn’t put my finger on. I stood next to the curtain and reached my hand out to grab it, and I gave Gossamer a final questioning look.

The tressym just blinked at me and motioned his head as if to tell me to get on with it. I then pulled open the curtain to look within.

There was indeed a stone pillar of sorts, and on top of it was a large basket. Within I could see within it a bed of wool and linens. But I gasped at what I saw inside.

There in the basket breathing softly was a child. It couldn’t have been more of than a year old based on size alone. I quietly stepped forward, with my jaw wide open and looked at it. The child had the greenish skin, the bluish nose, and the heavy sloped forehead of a hobgoblin infant. Around him I could smell the aroma of unchanged linens, and spoiled milk.

Here lay the Prophesized One, fast asleep. Its face was peaceful and unconcerned with the world. Having no idea that an army marched in its name. No idea that its name invoked fear in the elves of the High Forest, and the men of the High Moor and Secomber alike. Ignorant that the hobgoblins were butchering others in its name.

The one I had sworn to kill just moments ago.

I stood there in a torrent of confused emotion, mouth agape. I didn’t know what to feel. The others crowded beside me and we all looked at each other in bafflement. But fortunately, someone was able to put it to words.

“You have got to be shitting me,” Iesa said as we all crowded and stared at our new problem.

Session notes

Well…that happened.
 


Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
The Sound of Need - 4/20/2020

There are many mysteries in the multiverse. Why is the Blood War necessary? Why are elves the most attractive and yet the least approachable beings at the same time? Why does gnomish humor have to involve genealogy? And I am sure there is a good answer to all of them.

But no matter how many mysteries there are, there is one constant fact:

Men will never understand how women work. Not physically and not emotionally.



“Well that confirms it,” Daneath said frowning. It was late evening, and we had finished searching all the corpses, and had already lit a bonfire to burn them in a makeshift pyre, where I had performed last rites. Once there, Drik and Drok started to interrogate the two hobgoblin women, locked in the pantry.

“I cannot believe this,” Beepu grumbled. “A child. No, an infant is the one we have been hunting for.”

“Well, I doubt the females are lying. What’s that book say about it Myr?” Iesa asked me.

I had already performed the ritual so I could understand the writings left behind, most likely by the booyagh. Reading through it was painful. The first problem was it was all written with a religious zeal about Maglubiyet that made a large chunk just worthless. I didn’t need more adulation of the power. I wanted to know more about this child. But when it did refer to the child, it was like it was the physical manifestation of the powers themselves. Lastly, the writer was completely over the top.

“I’m working on it,” I said. “This isn’t the most useful…wait. This is interesting…’The One cannot be targeted by foul…incantations, for he is hidden by the grace of Maglubiyet’ ?” I read aloud. I looked at Beepu. “What in Baator does that even mean?”

Beepu frowned and started a ritual. After a while he opened his eyes, now glowing with a silvery light, and he turned to look at the child. I watched his face contort with confusion before he spoke.

“He…he…he is not there,” Beepu stammered.

“What do you mean?” Daneath asked confused.

“I tried to see if he had any magic laid upon him, and it appears he is missing to my eyes right now.”

“Missing?” Iesa looked at Beepu critically. “He’s right there.”

“Yes…he is. But not to magic. I…do not think I could target him with a spell,” Beepu started to cast a shorter spell and then stopped. “No. He is just…missing from the Weave.”

“That might explain why the elves couldn’t find him,” Daneath said thinking. “Not being able to follow his movements would blind them to attacks.”

I kept flipping the pages skimming, until I reached a passage that caught my eye.

“He’s…not from this tribe either. ‘The most sacred one was brought to us. In his time of need we shall feed and clothe him as our own.’” I chuckled a moment, before looking at the others. “He’s adopted.”

Drik turned towards me with a surprised look, and then started to talk to the females still locked away.

“The one, not warborn?” Drik asked.

“No. Not of clan. Brought to us by blade ear,” I could hear the muffled voice say in goblin. But at the mention at the phrase ‘blade ear’ our pair looked at each other confused.

“What was that?” I asked the goblin duo.

Drok turned to look at me, “Not make sense. Was brought here by…an elf.”

“Huh?” Iesa exclaimed, sitting up in the chair where he was precariously reclining in a moment ago. “An elf brought him here? That makes no sense.”

“Do they know anything about the elf?” I asked. Shrugging Drik turned again to the door.

“What do you know of blade ear?”

“Only saw once. Warlord wanted to kill him. Booyagh said he must be talked to. Brought child. Talked with Booyagh. Left. Not seen again.”
Came the reply from the door.

“What did you see?” Drik continued.

“Yellow coin haired. Had snake picture on neck. Looked down at all but booyagh.” The woman replied.

“Funny name,” the other women spoke. “Something...’Ros.’”

I thought a second before my eyes widened in shock. I got up from the table where I sat and stood next to the pantry door, using the goblin words I had just picked up.”

Fann ket…Paradros?”

“Ta!”
came the reply from the second voice.

“No.” Iesa said shaking his head. “Paradros? That sun elf that was working for the—”

“—Kershak.” Daneath finished.

Ta! Kershak, mil Paradros.” Came the answer. We all looked at each other confused in silence.

“Why?” Iesa asked. “Why would he…”

“To punish one elf; Melandrach.” Daneath said quietly.

“That must be it. Melandrach helped my father and helped Umbra as well. Paradros did say that the Kershak ‘did not grant mercy to the assistants of criminals.’” Beepu said quietly, recalling the elf’s conversation with us.

“And he…decided to wipe out not just the king,” I said incredulously. “But all his kin…his subjects? That…that is just…wrong.”

“What better way to harm a king, but to destroy their subjects?” Daneath said somberly. “But still it is a high price.”

We sat there silently again looking at each other, trying to guess what the other was thinking. The silence was broken by Darastrix, entering the room from below. His head swiveled to look at each of us, not understanding.

“SSsself missss ssssomething?” he asked patiently. And then the room was suddenly filled with the sounds of tears as the Prophesized One began to cry.

The five males looked at the basket blankly and then turned to me with a helpless expression.

I gave them a dirty look and made my way to the table frowning. As an orphan in an orphanage, you had to help with the young ones and for those in the early teens, the common chores included changing of swaddling. So, the first thing I did, was check the cloth for signs of wetness or other gifts in the cloth. But it was clear that he was dry, which left the most likely problem was that he…was…

“Sodding…,” I said and turned to Drik and Drok. “Are one of the two women wet nurses?”

“Wet…nurse?” Drok answered confused amid the wailing of the hungry infant.

I blinked and stammered back. “Ask how they fed him!”

“What? What is the issue?” Daneath asked looking at the child and I confused.

I wasn’t paying attention to what the goblin women said as the infant’s wail increased in volume, but Drok finally piped up, “Goat milk from bladder.”

“Where?!?” I yelled over the din. Drok quickly asked, and Drik responded. “By shack in...” and his voice trailed off, and a look of concern came across his face.

“Oh sodding,” I exclaimed looking upwards.

“Wait…did any survive the fireball?” Iesa asked Beepu.

“No. They were all killed when the shack blew apart as I recall.” Beepu said. “I remember stepping over the corpses as I was trying to web the doors.”

“I don’t understand, can’t you just…feed him Myr?” Daneath asked.

“With what?” I shouted, as the baby’s cries started to get even louder.

“Well…you’re a woman. Can’t you…just…um.” Daneath stuttered and lamely pointed at my chest.

I think my eyes just about bugged out of their sockets and my mouth dropped open as I realized that Daneath had no idea how a woman’s body actually worked. But as I turned, I realized that all the men had a look that I was about to save the day.

“No. I. Can’t!” I yelled. “A woman has to have a child for these,” and I clutched my chest with my hands framing my bosom, “to start providing milk.”

“Mussst be Ssssoftssskin thing,” Darastrix observed.

“It’s a five day walk to…anywhere. What are we going to do?” Iesa asked dumbfoundedly.

“Not just that,” Daneath said with a grim look on his face. “How often would he need something?”

“Six or eight times a day,” I said, shouting over the crying. “He’s too young for real food. And if he doesn’t get it…”

“We can tighten our belts. Can’t he—” Iesa started.

“No! Without…something, he has three days at best.”

“That noizzze will attract many huntersss.” Darastrix said, maddenly calm with the escalating fury of the One in the room.

“What do we do?” Beepu said flustered.

“Well if we don’t think of something, I’m going to have to—” I started.

“—What? You can’t just kill him!” Iesa said in horror.

“What? Let him starve painfully instead? That’s better?” I said. “I’m all for ideas though,” spreading my hands wide, waiting for a suggestion.

“Sssself could---” Darastrix offered.

“NO!” everyone yelled before he could finish.

I was wracking my memory, for options. But the Gatehouse did have wet nurses; they were compensated for their valuable work in food and even some jink. They honestly seemed to enjoy it as I recalled. We too used goat milk at times, but that too wasn’t an option now. The cries of the Prophesized One were grating on my nerves. I wanted it to stop. I didn’t want to kill another baby.

During the Faction War, I helped several people end their lives; to die with some dignity when no other options presented themselves. Because of wounds, because of rot, because of pain. But…when presented with a babe that was so ill from disease, and so weakened that it just spat back all the wet nurse fed it…

What choice was there?

I teared up as I stood there; trying to find a better option. I didn’t want to do this. But if it had to be done, I was duty bound to do so by my power. I could not forsake that charge. I would not. There had to be—

“Hey, what about these? Could he…I don’t know…gum them?” Iesa said. In his hands were a couple of huge raspberries. I looked at them for a second, trying to remember what they were.

“Pathhorn’s fruit!” Beepu said recognizing them. “They would sustain him most likely. But Myr said he is too young for solid—”

My head snapped to attention and I looked at the others. “Quick. Find me a drinking horn and some cloth!” I ordered to their confusion.

Drik and Drok scrambled towards the sleeping rooms, while Iesa and Daneath glanced at each other, before they started to scour the room’s cabinets and drawers. It wasn’t long before Iesa shouted. “Found one!” just as Drik and Drok came running in with scraps of linen.

“Daneath. I need you to cut the bottom of the horn, so there is a hole no bigger than a pinky finger in width.”

“Umm…who’s pinky?”

“Wha…mine!” I said holding out a finger for Daneath to squint at. “Drik, Drok, give me.” I said and took the linens from their hands. They were simple muslin, but there was more than enough. I quickly tore one into a square about two hand spans wide. Then I used a bit of a white strand to clean the filth and soil from it. I really was afraid to ask where exactly they found it.

Daneath came over to me and presented the horn. I grabbed it and looked through the large end through it the small hole that he had cut in the base. I then stuffed about half of the cloth into the horn, and while holding it in my left hand I stretched and covered the bottom hole with my finger.

“Iesa the fruit,” I said. He handed me one of the large berries and I put it with my right hand on top of the cloth within the horn. Then I pulled the remaining section of cloth over it, covering it completely. I moved over the bawling infant with the horn, and then started to push down on the muslin, crushing and squeezing the berry, so the juices spurt free, and soaked the cloth. I then lowered the horn down to the child, put the bottom of the horn in his mouth, and quickly removed my finger.

The Prophesied One, opened his eyes to look at me. And after a couple of moments of silence, I could hear the sucking sounds as he pulled the juices from the cloth in the horn, with the suction of his mouth. He started to make a raspy cooing sound and with both hands clutched the sides of the horn, taking it from my grasp.

“There you go…there you go…” I said calmly. I bent over and awkwardly picked up the child and cradled him. I then sat down and rocked slowly, as the terror of the High Moors finally got what he wanted. The sucking continued, as I breathed a sigh of relief.

The others looked at me, also visibly relieved.

“Well…that may have taken care of that—”

“Yes,” I said. “But you are going to help change him.”

“Um…I don’t know if—” Iesa started.

“If you can stick your shiv where the sun doesn’t shine on your opponents, a little poop shouldn’t scare you.” I said keeping eye contact with the tiny hobgoblin. “Besides I will need to sleep.”

“—Sure. Fine,” Iesa said. “But what I was going to say; what are we going to do with him now? We aren’t going to keep him, right?”

I looked up from the feeding and shook my head, “I don’t want him. I’m not…qualified to be a mother.”

“You have things under control Myr; he likes you!” Iesa teased.

“Pike it!” I said angrily.

“Assuming we do not want to raise him, it might be a bigger problem than feeding him,” Beepu said, his browns furrowed in thought. “Iesa. How many more berries from Pathhorn do we have?”

“Six more; we never used them as I could always hunt game,” he replied.

“Then, if the magic still works on him, we only have two real places we could take him to with a five-day march; Secomber or Whitepetal.”

“How about Daggerford?” Daneath asked thinking about the nearby towns.

Iesa shook his head, “That’s probably eight days from here; a bit too far.”

“So…give him to humans or the elves,” Daneath said. “Why would either want him?”

“I doubt that anyone in Secomber would want one,” Iesa began. “They did just terrorize and enslave a bunch of homesteads. So, the townsfolk aren’t going to want to do any favors; especially if they find out who he is.”

“We could stop, get a goat and go somewhere else like Waterdeep or maybe Neverwinter or even Baldur’s Gate,” Daneath suggested.

“We could do that. Farther the better. Baldur’s might be the best chance; they do have quite the…mix at the docks.” Iesa said nodding.

“I disagree,” I said still rocking the child.

“Where then Myr?” Beepu looked at me with curiosity.

“We take him to Whitepetal,” I said glancing at all of them.

“I do not see the elves taking in one of their enemies; they do not want humans in their forest, let alone hobgoblins. Why them?”

“Because,” I said rocking. “They need proof that the Prophesized One is defeated. And they need to see him, and the strange effects on magic that he has.”

“You do have a point there,” Beepu said rubbing his chin. “They were the target of the Kershak’s plot. They might have a better idea on what to do with him. Certainly, better than an angry villager in Secomber.”

“It’s going to be a long five days,” I muttered.

“I said I’ll help,” Iesa said defensively. He then elbowed Daneath, earning him a puzzled look, “And Daneath can help as well.”

“Wha—Oh yes…sure,” Daneath looked at Iesa uncertainly.

“Let’s be honest,” I said, still rocking the child as it sucked more of the berry juice from the horn. “During the day, I am likely the only one that will be able to carry him and keep him quiet—”

“I am certain I can carry a—” Daneath started.

“—With a sword and shield at the ready?” I interrupted.

“You…may have a point,” Daneath conceded.

“Or a bow ready?” I said as I turned and looked at Iesa. He grimaced and looked at his feet and said nothing. Turning I looked at Drik and Drok who both waved their hands at the idea.

“What about me? I can do it I am certain!” Beepu said in a huff.

I looked at him and arched an eyebrow. “I said carry him, not summon a disc and hope he doesn’t slide off.”

“That is…not quite fair. I would let you ride it and coddle the child.” Beepu answered smartly.

I thought a moment. “Sure. You can do that.”

“See how easy that…what? You will?” Beepu looked at me in surprise.

“You offered. You aren’t going back on it are you?” I asked pointedly.

“Well…um…no…I just did not expect to…fine! I can do it.”

“Ssself ssstill could—” Darastrix started again.

“NO!” we all shouted again.

The Prophesized One, in his wisdom, decided to give off a contented burp, and his eyes were drooping, ready to sleep off the meal. I slowly lowered the drowsy infant back into the basket. He didn’t complain and he was soon lightly snoring. I stood, stretched, and looked at the others.

“I guess we can leave at first light,” I said. I then turned to Darastrix.

“Can you lead us to where we met?” I asked as I pulled out some cheese and hard bread from my pack to chew on.

“Easssily. Fassster than other goblinsss can.”

“We watch walls,” Drik said confidently.

“Watch for others,” Drok confirmed nodding.

“Wake me for last watch,” I said, and I started heading off towards one of the converted quarters on this level.

“What…well…what do we do if--?” Iesa said pointing at the basket

At the question, Beepu jumped on a chair and slapped the rogue. “Look, even I can change a nappy. I will show you how, you ignorant human. It is a simple process of…”

Beepu’s voice faded along with Iesa’s groans, as I moved down the hall and walked into one of the larger chambers, that likely housed the booyagh.

For all their faults hobgoblins did have one redeemable quality; they were fastidious. The room that the booyagh had been using was clean, however, it was covered in strange charms and trinket on every flat surface, and many nailed to the walls. The room had the scent of incense and herbs, but I had to admit it was only strange and not foul.

I sat down on a chair in the room and tore at the bread with my teeth and chewed. I was dreading the next week. At the gatehouse, kids had to take care of their own. And while some of the girls enjoyed helping with babies, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. Elisina enjoyed it quite a bit, so I would often trade chores with her when she was alive. But I found myself saddled with childcare more and more after her death, until some of the younger girls were old enough to manage them. Feeding a baby, and changing them wasn’t especially hard though.

But I never saw myself as a mother. I wasn’t even sure what that even meant really. The matrons and caretakers in an orphanage weren’t ‘parents.’ We were often left to our own devices; we weren’t raised. And in the Hive, it’s not like I ever saw caring parents. Just ones trying to keep their own kin alive another day. Most of the kids I saw eyes were as dead as their own parents.

I bit into the hard cheese and wondered what the powers exactly had in mind. That I was going to have to take care of my former enemy. All while he was small enough not to know the circumstances that surrounded him. That I was going to play his mother for the time being. Sure, I would have some help, but I knew the reality of it as well; I was the most logical choice until we got to Whitepetal. But I also knew that this would be the last decent night’s sleep I was going to get for a while. Turning my head towards the door, I saw that Gossamer had followed me, and had sat on his haunches to groom.

--You could just let the others take care of the child. You didn’t have to adopt him.

I looked at the tressym and sighed.

I don’t know about that. Considering that earlier I wanted to bash his head in.

--You had no idea tha—

No, and that’s the point. I was so focused on wanting to kill him…all of them.

--Its not like you didn’t have cause.

I didn’t! All I had was—

--Hate. Based on what happened that made sense.

But It wasn’t hate. It was desire. I really wanted to kill him; I wanted to make him pay. Now…I just want him to live.

--You’re never that simple.


I hung my head sadly.

I just don’t understand why everything I feel is backwards. Wanting to kill. How am I better than the hobgolbins killing in the child’s name. I believe in better. I should be better.

--Get some rest. You’ve had enough shocks for a day.


I had finished the cheese, and I pulled a flask from my pouch. I uncorked it and swallowed the contents, tasting the warm bitter flavors as they slid down my throat. The flask was half full, and I quickly drained the contents and dropped it on the floor. I stripped off my things, and flopped on the mattress and waited for the euphoria of the whiskey to take me away.

I felt a strong hand on my shoulder, shaking me gently followed by the sound of Daneath’s chiding voice.

“You know that isn’t a healthy way to get some rest?”

I groaned and refused to open my eyes. “It’s the only way that works anymore.”

“I’ve known others that never find the end of that bottle. I don’t recommend it.” He said, the concern clear in his voice.

I pulled myself up, my head pounding. “Well, it served its purpose. But I might have over done it.”

“Well, come back to the hall when you are ready. Beepu and Iesa sorted out stuff from the bodies. Your share is on the table. I’m getting some shuteye. Oh one thing, keep the torches lit.”

“Huh? why?” I asked as I swung my legs down and sat up on the bed.

“Seems that the One doesn’t like to sleep in the dark,”

I looked at Daneath puzzled, “He should be able to see though,”

“Beepu thinks he likes the colors.”

“Sounds familiar,” I said smiling. Moved towards Gossamer who lay there curled on the mattress, feigning sleep.

Well Goss, go poke around outside and see what’s up.

--Sure. Beats smelling your drunken sweat.

Hah cute…wait…you can smell that?

--Unfortunately, I can.





I collected my things and entered the upper hall only to see a comical sight. There in a chair, lay Beepu fast asleep. On his chest lay the Prophesized One, slumbering quietly. Nearby on the wall a single torch in a wall sconce, its flame low.

I chuckled and flexed and placed a light on the torch. I gave it the same warmth color of a flame and sat down at the table. I shook my head smiling and propped my feet on the table. I thought a moment on what to do. I decided to perhaps clear my head with an impossible task.

I reached into the pouch where I kept the Apocrypha. I placed it on the table, and casually pulled on a metal tab, and pulled out one of the many unreadable sheets.

Or that’s what I expected.

The sheet was the same silvery metal, but the strange celestial runes now glowed with an orange light in places, while others remained as dark as before. I leaned forward, with my mouth opening wider as I looked at the letters I saw at the top of the page.

“Rituals of Binding”

I blinked. Why were the letters glowing? I leaned forward and squinted at the letters. Then thinking a moment, I flexed and shut off the light I had cast on the torch. And then before my eyes, I saw the glow fade and the illegible writing appear once again. A simple flex on the torch and the letters resumed glowing with an orange light.

I brought the Apocrypha closer to my eyes and looked at the letters more carefully. I then realized what had been eluding me. The script was always strange in that every letter was perfectly spaced apart in a grid forty-two letters wide. But now I saw why; it wasn’t a single letter, but instead there were multiple letters in a single space, layered on top of each other. And somehow, my light made a single letter in each stack illuminate, spelling words.

The title was clear, but while the next block was readable, it wasn’t really understandable. I read it over and over, and realized I was indeed reading a magical language of some type, using the Celestial alphabet, but spelling out words of arcanum, after a quick understandable phrase. I couldn’t help myself but to read it aloud.

“Knowledge in the first,” I said to myself. “Mitate an texi ciro animun metanan?”

As the last syllable passed my lips, I realized my mistake. It wasn’t just words…it was an incantation.

I could feel my world spin around my head and my gut felt it was turned inside out. The whirling of lights, colors, and even smells assaulted my senses. I felt the fabric of the weave reverberate and finally rip asunder, swallowing my mind first into darkness and then into a glittering expanse.

I hung there motionless, scarcely breathing as my eyes looked about. It was like looking upwards at the stars that surrounded Selune here in Toril. Or perhaps looking upwards in Sigil at Antipeak, to the lanterns and lights far away overhead. I looked down at myself and saw nothing but my own bare skin. Across the surface, flickered letters and swirling lines forming abstract patterns, like an intricate tattoo. But there was something else as well. From my body I saw two strands of white and three of black coming from the distant darkness, and then weave together into a braid that protruded from me just above my navel. I realized I had seen this once before; when I was dead, and my soul was waiting on the fugue. But now the strands and the braid were thicker, and I could feel the energy pulse with more power.

I twisted about, looking around me. But nowhere did I see a surface to stand or sit. There was nothing but the strands that I could see. But as I calmed, I realized that I felt something else there in the darkness; a presence watching me. I then heard in my head in the language of Celestials.

“Finally, you have arrived. Took your sweet time did you not?”

Session Notes:

I have two children, and feeding infants is indeed a chore. And what is described is pretty much what medieval Europeans did in the absence of wet nurses. And there was a serious question about killing the child, which the table was uncomfortable. But the berries did work, so it ended there.
 
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OK. I'll add that I'm waiting impatiently to find out who you've just met.

Oh ... and nearly every group I've played with would have had no compunction in killing the kid. But that probably just tells you something about the people I usually play with!
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
OK. I'll add that I'm waiting impatiently to find out who you've just met.

Oh ... and nearly every group I've played with would have had no compunction in killing the kid. But that probably just tells you something about the people I usually play with!
It might; did you take a poll?

Oh...and 'who' may be the wrong question. Just sayin.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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