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Chapter 5 — Epilogue
~ eighth-day, 8th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, afternoon
Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen

Hakam set the torch to the constructed-flesh image of Calimshan's most powerful ruler, and the oil ignited. Without any ceremony, he turned and stepped back into the rowboat and was raised back up to the floating sea vessel.

   The party was emotionally neutral at their most recent happenings. They had soundly defeated their longest foe and saved entire kingdoms from potential tyranny and ruin. They had set back El Sadhara's plans a second and likely final time. They had come out of exile and gained the means to travel nearly wherever they wished.

   Yet they had lost a traveling companion that at least some of them had been growing very fond of, and they could see no immediate means of retrieving her or of pursuing Samber, the main goal of their divinely ordained quests.

   When the others had joined Belvin and Kytharrah on the ship, they were concerned by the amount of blood, but Kytharrah, oddly, did not seem worried.

   "Little sister not hurt, because of trick."

   "Trick? What trick?"

   "Stab and fix cut trick."

   "Ilthian has healing magic?"

   "I think that he is saying that Ilthian can regenerate," said Solisar.

   "Like a troll?" said Belvin.

   "Like the construct that she is," said the sun elf. "It makes sense. How do you know this Kytharrah?"


   Solisar had found a final entry from Ilthian. It was written in the Thorass alphabet, like Common, but appeared to be a transliteration of Lantanese, (which was usually written in Draconic).

   She appeared to have been interrupted in the middle of writing a sentence.

...Kytharrah is not on the shape anymore. I see a giant man. Maybe he is one of Skata's family. He just vanished. Now they are all talking to Kytharrah. Now Belvordû a cûig dêag sos intleacht___________________________

   Solisar explained to the others, "The final words mean the following in Lantanese. Ordû means 'order', 'command', or 'instruction'. A cûig dêag means 'fifteen', which is Samber's number for Ilthian in one of the previous notes of his that we found. Sos means 'break', 'pause', 'rest', or 'stop'. I do no know the word intleacht for certain, but I strongly suspect it to be a loan word from common to mean simply 'intellect'."

   "So he can swap bodies now," said Leokas.

   "So it seems," said Solisar.

   "You spoke with Samber in Lantanese when he faced us," said Hakam. "What did you ask him?"

   "I asked him why he was in Calim's form, and he told me that it was what was available."

   "I am going to send to Ilthian," said Hakam. "Give me some time."

   When Hakam finished his prayer, he spoke aloud. "Ilthian, if this is you, know that we are coming for you. But if this is Samber, know that we will stop you."

   In a few moments, a frown formed on Hakam's face.

   "What was the response?" asked Szordrin.

   "'What right have you to stop me? The gods are petty, jealous, arrogant. As for you, you stole my property. I simply take it back.' It was Samber's voice."

   "What do we do now?" asked Szordrin. "I see no immediate way to pursue him."

   "At the very least, we need to regroup with Jayce," said Hakam. "He has uncovered clues to Samber's past that may aid us in finding him again."

   "I must return to Evermeet and report on my findings in the North," said Solisar. "While there, I can seek advice from my grandmother, who is exceptionally wise. She may be able to advise us. Also, my people are known to sail wildspace and may be able to advise us in such matters, if we desire to head to Bral. However, Evermeet is not keen on non-elven visitors. I would have to travel there alone."

   "I see no reason to go after Samber anymore at all," said Bevlin. "Thard Harr showed me that I would meet him, not that I should pursue him. This, I have done. My spirit quest is over. We have just saved the world; I think that it is time for Kamil and I to go home."

   "My friend," said Leokas, "the gods spoke to me clearly that this task was for all of us, not just for me. We cannot give it up now. This is just a setback."

   "I will seek a vision from Thard Harr at home," said Belvin. "Then, if he wills it, I will continue the search with you, my friend."

   "It seems like all of us desire to head in different directions for the time being," said Solisar, "to regroup later. Hakam, do you need to report to the heads of your order in Memnon?"

   "I have a special calling now and report only to Anachtyr directly," replied the cleric.

   "Szordrin, what are your thoughts?" asked Solisar.

   "My first desire has always been the pursuit of the Interlink Consortium," said Szrodrin. "We should go to Bral. I suspect that if any place might have information on Bral, it might be Calimport, and we are as near to that city as ever we have been. If everyone is going in separate directions for the time being, that is where Ferry and I will go."

   "So, this is the plan then?" said Leokas. "We split up to gather information and then regroup? If so, I will travel with Belvin to the Chondalwood. Perhaps Solonor will send me another wolf while I am there."

   "Where will Kytharrah go?" asked Solisar. "He cannot come to Evermeet with me, unless I appeal to have him accepted as an 'elf-friend', but that will be challenging."

   "He may go with Bevlin and me," said Leokas.

   "That is probably for the best. I am not certain that I could keep our young minotaur entertained while I research.

   "Is it settled then? We fly the spelljammer first to Calimport to drop off Szordrin, then to Chondalwood to drop off Belvin, Leokas, and Kytharrah. I will pilot the vessel back west to Lantan so that Hakam can join up with Jayce, and then I shall continue on alone to Evermeet."

   "When shall we meet again?" asked Leokas. "The more time we tarry, the closer Samber will get to achieving his ultimate goals."

   "A couple months should suffice, yes?" said Solisar. "I will contact all of you from Evermeet in the month of Ches."


The Frihet, Ilthian's name for the vessel, entered the clouds and sailed to the southeast, to the great city of Calimport.

   Far above — in a manner of speaking — two feminine entities watched its passage, or rather the passage of its crew, as they had been watching with interest for over a year now, from the Outer Planes.

   Your sister's power grows stronger, the meddler is now free again, and now these mortals give up search. If she is able to manipulate him....

   They have not given up search. They will regroup. Things will turn again. The Moringlord has come to our side, and the Seldarine are allied with us too in this. We need not fear.

   Not all the Seldarine.

   The Seldarine will follow Corellon's command.

   Will they?

   Take heart, Midnight. My followers have slain her chosen priestess. There is still hope.

   She will choose another. And there is already Lord Shadow and his entire city of worshipers.

   The city will fall in time. We need only hold out until then.

   And your own chosen, what came of her?

   Nothing came of her; she simply has been sidetracked. She will soon come to understand her power and act in accordance. It may be better that they have parted, as, for the time being at least, the meddler does not seem to be following my sister directly.

   Let us hope that it remains that way.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Page 14
New words
few • Thard Harr • enough • however • sneak • underneath • disguise • attack • definitely • hairy • fought

There is a large floating shape that I can see from here out my round window. I think that I see Kytharrah walking on it somehow. How is he doing that? What is he doing?

The others have left me alone on the flying ship, which I call Frihet. They are trying to stop a very bad genie who wants to controle Hakam's home and land and let very bad hobgoblins live there. He is pretending to be a god. I wonder if the Maker is only pretending to be a god. He made me though. I am alive. Solisar said when I asked him that I am alive like a flower or an animal and not like that very grose person that attacked us on the ice many months ago or the dead things that attacked them in the cave a few days ago. They told me that those persons were dead and only moved because of magic. I move because I am alive and want to move.

If the gods or people like the Maker make all of us, are they so smart that they can figure out everything that we will ever do just like I figured out how much air Frihet carries around it? Does that mean that it is only pretend that we chuze things? Is being alive only like one of Szordrin's magic tricks? Are all of us really dead?

If this is all true, then are bad people bad? Or are they only broken and need to be fixed? Are hobgoblins broken people? When people break a lot, do they become hairy?

Hakam says that some gods are bad? Can gods be broken? Is it the god's fault if someone is broken since the gods made her? Are bad people mistakes made by broken gods? If this is also true, who made the mistake and made the broken god who made the broken person?

Kytharrah is not on the shape anymore. I see a giant man. Maybe he is one of Skata's family. He just vanished. Now they are all talking to Kytharrah. Now Belvordû cûig dêag mûchadh___________________________
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — The Great Genie
After several minutes of questioning, they ascertained that Pharos, the ancient baelnorn guardian of the Spinning Keep, had slain Allu's archwizard, Booyagh, and that Kytharrah had been fortunate enough to be standing on the correct panel when the remains of the goblin were ejected.

   "So, we succeeded then," said Szordrin. "The genies are still entrapped."

   Just then, with no announcement, a massive being loomed over them.

   It was a humanoid male standing some 25 feet tall. He was bald and had a pointed and trimmed goatee. He was dressed in an open vest and baggy pantaloons with booted feet, looking exactly like the images of djinn from Hakam's childhood stories, except that only the most powerful of noble djinn were said to be so very large. A small gem stone seemed to be embedded in the genie's forehead.

   Leokas and Belvin stood there like stone, not knowing what to do in the presence of Calim, the great ruler of the ancient empire pre-dating Calimshan.

   "Kytharrah," said Szordrin quickly, "are you sure that you did not touch the crystal?"

   Kytharrah shook his head. The genie looked each of them over.

   "How did you escape?" asked Szordrin boldly.

   "I bided my time until I could convince her to take her revenge against the efreeti," said the enormous figure with a booming voice. "She foolishly listened.

   "Now, enough talk. Give me back my creation."

   "Begone, evil djinni!" commanded Hakam, and he tried to dispel any magic upon their visitor, but there was no effect.

   Solisar spoke to the genie in Lantanese, and the others heard a reply in the same tongue before he spoke in Common to all of them. "Tell me where she is."

   Leokas suddenly understood; this was not Calim at all. "We have escaped out of exile to put an end to your plans. It is the will of the gods!"

   "It is Samber in another form," Solisar explained to the others.

   Hakam immediately joined Leokas in protest. "You are defying the laws of nature and the multiverse! Cease at once. The gods do not permit a mere mortal to create new life at his whim, nor do they...."

   "Be still," commanded Samber with a wave of his massive genie hand toward Hakam. The Calishite cleric felt a powerful compulsion in his mind, but he overcame the magic with the force of his will.

   "Your shadow magics will not affect me!" Hakam shouted back, emboldened.

   "For whom do you seek?" asked Solisar, simply to buy time while he swiftly but secretly performed the motions required for one of his most powerful divinatory spells.

   In response, the genie simply frowned and closed his eyes. "I ask you one more time," he said, "where is she?" Suddenly, all of them felt a presence in their minds.

   "Get out of my head!" shouted Leokas, and he tried his hardest to imagine Vashti and their early adventures together, so as not to picture Ilthian and where she waited for them on the spelljammer.

   Szordrin tried to bluff. "She was a hindrance to us, so we left her in the far north, selling her as a bride to one of the primitive tribes there."

   Samber opened his eyes at this, and his frown turned into a look of confusion. They all felt a lessening of the "presence" in their heads for a brief moment, but then the "genie" smiled and looked at Kytharrah.

   "Thank you, young minotaur."

   Then the genie vanished.

   "I did not get to thank him for healing my arm," said Belvin.

   The others seemed far more concerned about other matters. "What were you thinking about?" Hakam and Szordrin asked Kytharrah simultaneously.

   "Play with Little Sister."

   "The magic alarm is triggered," said Solisar. "He is on the ship!"

   "Kytharrah can still fly," said Leokas. "He is our only chance to protect her."

   "I can go with him," said Belvin, as he hurriedly began removing his clothing and gear.

   "Fly with Belvin to the ship and protect Little Sister," Solisar instructed the minotaur.

   Belvin, now in the form of a pteranodon, shrieked and flapped his wings, taking to the air.

   "Go!" said Leokas, giving Kytharrah a little shove.


Minotaur and pteranodon landed on the main deck. Calim's body was lying there lifeless, now barefoot. Belvin shifted back into an elven form and approached the body. Blood was on the massive body's forehead. The small gem stone that had been there was gone, leaving a tiny hole.

   "More blood," said Kytharrah. He knelt on the opposite deck by a pool of red. "Little sister."

   Small, bloody footprints led away from the main deck down the stairs. They rushed down them to Ilthian's room, finding the door open.

   Ilthian was standing there and turned to face them. She was carrying a satchel, which Belvin recognized had been hanging from Calim's belt previously. In her other hand, she held a bloody kitchen knife. She seemed to be wearing the missing pair of boots, now shrunken to fit her much smaller form. She was covered in blood, which seemed to have come from her head, but she had no clear wounds.

   "You cannot stop me," said Ilthian's voice.

   Then Samber vanished.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — Inside the Keep
"Thank you, my friend," said Leokas to Belvin, while lowering his bow.

   "Thank Thard Harr," corrected Belvin.

   Szordin examined the area where Allu had fallen. While his body was destroyed, the genie left behind an assortment of golden items of jewelry, anklets, bracelets, and rings.

   Hakam entered the tent and searched around, finding nothing of interest. He came back outside. "If that was the efreeti, then his goblin is still unaccounted for."

   "There are goblin tracks in the sand," said Leokas. "They are no more than a day old. They head toward the Keep."

   Szordrin and Belvin began moving toward the spinning dodecahedron, and the others followed. On the ground below it, they found a small loin cloth, a finely crafted dagger, and a journal.

   "The goblin's," said Belvin.

   "The journal is completely empty," Szordrin informed them, after picking it up. He tossed it back onto the sand.

   Solisar went into a trance and began scanning the outer surface of the crystalline object. "I cannot get any closer than about ten feet to it, but all of its pentagonal sides appear identical," he reported.

   "Anachtyr open mine eyes to hidden paths," prayed Hakam, but he could see nothing new upon its surface.

   "Durbuluk and the gnome's journal agreed that the Keep repels all non-living things and all elves, humans, or genies," said Solisar. "Among us, only Kytharrah could get close enough to investigate further."

   "With our magic, we can let him fly to it and stick to its surface," said Szordrin.

   Hakam began to give instructions to Kytharrah, "We need you to walk around that spinning thing up there and see if you can find a goblin. Do you understand?"

   Kytharrah did not nod.

   Szordrin held the loincloth up to the minotaur's nose. "Find the goblin who wore this."

   Kytharrah winced and nodded.

   "Trust your nose and not your eyes," said Solisar. "You may see things that seem strange."

   "If you find yourself inside," warned Hakam, "do not touch the shining crystal! It is not the guiding light. This is not a time for play. Come here, I have a prayer for you." The cleric laid his hands on Kytharrah and gave him an increase in wisdom. "There. You will be more perceptive and — hopefully — make better decisions."

   "Kytharrah, you will have to leave all of your things behind," said Solisar, "and your axe."

   As Kytharrah removed his armor and kilt, Szordrin removed a spider from his pouch, swallowed it, and touched Kytharrah. Solisar held a bird feather in his left palm and touched the minotaur with his right.

   "Kytharrah, think about going up into the sky," said Solisar.

   The minotaur looked up into the air and began to rise up from the surface. He snorted and giggled as he rose higher and higher.

   "We should also make him invisible," said Solisar.

   "Not yet!" said Hakam. "Come back down. We have more instructions."

   Kytharrah seemed to get the hang of flying almost effortlessly, and he touched down to the sand near them again.

   "How will we be able to see what happens to him?" asked Szordrin.

   "I can still see invisible things by the spell that Solisar cast upon me," said Leokas.

   Solisar cast the remaining spell, as Hakam gave the final reminder. "Remember, use your nose. Find the goblin. Do not touch the crystal."

   Solisar touched Kytharrah, and the minotaur vanished. "Now, fly and land on the object and find the goblin."

   "Walk with your hooves and one hand," added Szordrin.

   Several long minutes passed. Leokas described to the others what he could see. Kytharrah flew and landed on the Spinning Keep, sticking to its surface. He began to move around from pentagon to pentagon, sniffing close to the surface as he went.

   "He has stopped," said Leokas. "He must have found the panel through which the goblin entered the Keep."

   Leokas described as Kytharrah tried various techniques to enter. He knocked. He jumped — which caused him to fly away from the surface and required him to find the panel all over again. He pounded. He gored with his horns. He smashed the panel with his forehead. Nothing.

   Then, suddenly, Leokas saw their minotaur fall upwards into the Keep. Simultaneously, everyone saw a collection of blackened objects tumble down to the ground along with a cloud of fine gray dust.

   Szordrin rushed over to the items, and Leokas joined him.

   "Bone fragments?" asked Szordrin. "Is he dead?"

   "Goblin bones," said Leokas. "No doubt the wizard's. I saw Kytharrah fall into the keep."


Kytharrah was on the bottom of the tumbling dodecahedron when the panel vanished. He felt the strange sensation of falling upward, which he thought was fun. The first thing he felt was bitter cold, which reminded him of the first time that he found his way to the surface and saw the guiding light in the sky. The next moment, he realized that he was floating in near darkness, lit by a light coming from the center of the open space. Twisting his neck back, he looked toward the source of the light and saw a grotesque, writhing mass of what appeared to be faces, silently screaming, straining, and stretching against the many sides of a large, nearly spherical, sparkling gem.

   This view only lasted a moment. First, the faces in the gem disappeared. Then the gem too vanished, and Kytharrah was no longer floating. His hooves were firmly planted on solid ground. He sensed immediately that he was in an underground maze.

   "Home?" he spoke aloud, but he knew that it was not home, though it was similar in many ways. The ground smelled different, more pure earth smell, with less of the smell of fungi or Underdark lifeforms. Still, it smelled somehow familiar.

   He remembered his instructions to grab any goblin. He had not seen a goblin, but maybe the ugly faces had a goblin with them. He did not know why he could no longer see the ugly faces, but he was a minotaur; he was certain that if he ran in this direction, then this direction, then this direction, he would reach the floating gem with the faces again. No matter how many twists and turns he made, Kytharrah had a perfect sense of the direction of the gem.

   Somebody was not playing fair. Kytharrah knew for certain that he should have reached the gem by now, but he could not see it.

   What was that? He heard something behind him. Spinning around, he saw something moving through the walls, as if they were made of water. Then it was gone. He rushed to the wall and pounded on it with his massive fists. Solid.

   There it was again! To his right, he saw it emerging from another wall. Kytharrah snorted in laughter. Such a silly creature, if it was a creature at all. It did not really have a head, but its body — which looked like it was made of pebbly clay — rested upon its stubby legs. In that respect, it reminded Kytharrah of the funny rock man that they had met when climbing that snowy mountain back when little sister was missing. But funny-rock-man had had two stumpy legs, not three. Funny-rock-man had also had no arms; this thing had three, spread out radially around its body, and between two of the arms, he saw a large yellow eye looking directly at him.

   The thing galloped across the hall of the maze, from one wall to the other, and leapt into it as if diving, top of its body first, passing through the wall and vanishing, its body appearing to merge into the stone. As it did so, it twisted through the air, and Kytharrah saw that it had a big yellow eye between each of its arms, three in all.

   Kytharrah knew this finding game; he was good at it. He ran this way then that way, knowing that the creature should be... right here! "Found you!" said Kytharrah. "I win!"

   The thing suddenly opened up at the top of its body/head, revealing a gaping maw of nasty teeth, and let out a very deep, guttural sound. Kytharrah hopped back. Those teeth would hurt! The creature jumped straight into the air, grabbing onto the ceiling of the maze with its black clawed talons, and it looked as if it were biting into the ceiling with the top of its body. It morphed into the ceiling and was gone.

   "No fair!" said Kytharrah. "Your turn find me!"

   "Kytharrah sniffed." A dead smell, not as strong and spicy as those wrapped up ladies but not as pungent as those big, dead, hairy goblins. He turned around. There was another person in the tunnel with him.

   It was an elf — or something like an elf, with long elven ears — a very, very, very old one, with stretched, pale skin and long white hair, cloak blowing wildly behind him. The skin was so pale that Kytharrah could see the elf's skull through the skin of his face.

   "It is not a time for play," said the somber voice of the dead-smelling, see-through elf, as he held out his palm. Kytharrah felt himself flying backwards through the air. The cavern walls faded away, and Kytharrah caught a last glimpse of the elf and several whirling clouds of air and flame about him as he tumbled backwards.

   Then, just like that, he was back outside again in the bright desert light, falling down from beneath the Spinning Keep. A magic spell that Solisar cast upon him immediately prevented him from slamming into the ground some 40 feet below, and he gently came to rest on his hooves again.

   "What happened in there!" the others rushed over to him.

   "A finding game!" said Kytharrah. "They cheated."
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — An Anticlimactic End
~ eighth-day, 8th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, highsun
Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen

The spelljammer hovered over the surface of the dried sands of the Calim Desert. Solisar, Belvin, and Leokas had followed the gnomish illusionist's map to the Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen without issue.

   The keep was not like any structure any of them had ever seen. To call it a structure at all was perhaps not the right language. The Keep was essentially an outer shell to the infamous Calimmemnon Crystal, the magical prison of the greatest two genies of Calishite history. The Keep was itself crystalline, a dodecahedron of pearly, translucent material, which was hard to spot in the day's sunlight until they were rather close.

   The twelve-sided keep magically floated some fourteen or fifteen yards from the surface of the sand and rotated on multiple axes simultaneously. It was more than 20 yards in diameter.

   About 100 yards west of the Spinning Keep was a large, circular tent.

   "Allu and his goblin archwizard are already here, as we expected," said Szordrin, standing at the railing of their spelljammer.

   "Let me take a look," said Solisar, as he removed a bit of bat fur from his component pouch. They waited for ten minutes for him to complete his divinatory spell, after which point he seemed to enter into one of his trances.

   "I am entering the tent. There are two cots here. One of the cots is occupied by a small goblin in robes."

   "The archwizard," said Hakam, "but who sleeps on the other cot, and where is he?"

   "Durbuluk?" suggested Belvin.

   "No, he stayed behind," said Hakam. "It is likely Allustairimarinastralmindivu's cot, and he has already entered the Keep."

   "He cannot enter the Keep," said Solisar. "The elven high magic prevents it, remember. Only the goblin can enter the keep."

   Belvin said, "Allu is gone, and his wizard is asleep — this is either a trap, or we are exceptionally fortunate."

   "Could the tent be an illusion?" asked Hakam.

   "If I were closer in body, I could scan it for auras," said Solisar.

   "We have to take the risk," said Szordrin. "This could be our only chance. Lunk, lower us to the ground."

   Kytharrah lowered them in one of the rowboats to the sand, then lowered Kamil, and finally came down one of the ropes himself.

   Szordrin stealthily approached closer to the tent and then returned to the others. "The tent itself has no magical aura, but there are some inside. The wizard likely wears some sort of magical items."

   "I can encompass the whole tent in silence," said Hakam. "The wizard will not be able to use any verbal spells or hear us as we approach."

   "Do not silence the flap of the tent, so that I can stand at the entrance and use my own magic," said Szordrin.

   "If the goblin is asleep, I can take it out with a single arrow," said Leokas. "Mark my words."

   "I can call on the winds to further guide your shot," said Belvin.

   "I can approach the tent invisible and open the flap," said Szordrin. "The moment that I do, let loose your arrows."

   Everyone agreed with the plan.

   Solisar granted Leokas the ability to see invisible creatures, while Belvin blessed him and enchanted everyone's ranged weapons. Leokas himself called for a blessing from Solonor.

   The others protected and readied themselves in other magical ways. Szordrin created illusionary duplicates of himself, and he and they all turned invisible. Belvin mounted Kamil. Kytharrah drank one of his potions.

   "Kytharrah, stay by my side," Hakam commanded. Then he completed a brief prayer that created a bubble of silence around the whole tent.

   "Follow my footprints," said Szordrin, and he moved quickly toward the tent. Leokas followed.

   The flap to the tent was whipped back, and several Szordrins appeared. They and Leokas took aim at the goblin. As the arrow left Leokas' bow, a powerful gust of wind rushed past the wood elf and visibly spiraled around the projectile as it traveled. Simultaneously, rays of fire erupted from the fingertips of the Szordrins.

   The flames enveloped the goblin, but seemed to do nothing to him or his robes, except to startle him awake. The arrow, however, struck through the goblin's right arm, through his side, and into his spinal column, striking with enough force to knock the tiny humanoid from the cot and unto the floor.

   Leokas nocked another arrow and took aim toward the ground. The goblin was not dead. Instead, he seemed to explode into a cloud of black smoke. The cloud was vaguely humanoid and much larger than a goblin or even a hobgoblin, filling half the tent. Red fire glowed for eyes.

   "He vanished into black smoke! It is Allu!" shouted Leokas in warning to those on the other side of the tent. He let fly his arrow, followed by two others, as the cloud immediately flowed under the tent and outside. The magic enchantment in his arrows caused the cloud to break apart with each hit. Szordrin tried to bind the gaseous form of the genie to the earth, but he could not overcome the efreeti's magic. Free from the confines of the tent, it rose into the sky.

   Hakam and the others outside the tent saw the smoke cloud rising and could make out the shape of arms and horns. The cleric touched Kytharrah and an aura of blue, watery mist formed around him. Belvin rode up and instilled him with extra strength. Everyone felt a surge of speed, as Solisar hasted them. "Attack the genie if it comes near enough to strike!" ordered Hakam, and Kytharrah took an offensive stance and waited.

   But the genie rose higher into the sky, far out of reach of any melee weapon. "You! You are the mortal scum who stole my gem!" came a booming voice from the cloud, just as Leokas and Szordrin appeared back outside the tent. The upper portion of the cloud formed into the bare upper torso of a muscular humanoid with bronze-colored, metallic skin, black, magma-like blood pouring from a wound in the side and arm. The blood struck the sand and sizzled and hardened. A ball of fire ignited in Allu's left palm as he opened his tusked mouth and roared. "Give it... ugh!"

   Surrounded by another tunnel of wind, a magical arrow escaped from Leokas' bow, piercing the efreeti's neck.

   The genie fell from the sky like a meteor, bursting into a black cloud on impact, which dissipated into nothing.

   They gathered around the scorched sand where the efreeti had fallen. "That was anticlimactic," said Belvin.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Page 13
New words
nearby • observation • heavy • sword • money • fighting • allowed

I was so disappointed that the gods were not fair and took away my magic that I have not written in a fyew days.

I see Hakam praying to his god, Anachtyr, every morning, and Belvin prays to Thard Har each morning also. I think that Leokas prays at different times each day that seem to shift by about 45 minutes later each day. I tried to pray to the Maker this morning, since 2 out of 3 of the others pray then, asking him to give me magic back, but I still cannot make anything jump. Is the Maker not powerful enuff? Is the goddess of magic more powerful than he is? I heard the others say that she took away his magic, so he must not be as powerful as she is. How ever, they say that he found a way to get his magic back, a bad way, so maybe he is stronger than she thinks that he is. Why is the way that he got his magic back a bad way? I think that it was bad for them to take away his magic. Why should he not be able to take his magic back from them if they were not fair?

Maybe he did not answer me because he is too far away. How far away is Anachtyr or Thard Har or Solonor? Did the goddess of magic have to be very close to me to take my magic away? Did she sneek in when I was sleeping? Father used to talk to the Maker in person, underneeth the meeting house. The Maker was a face of fire, but the others say that that was just a disgize. Why did the Maker disgize himself? Why does Hakam not need to go to pray underneeth a meeting house? If the Maker did give me magic, would it be bad magic? Would I become bad? I want to be good, like Solisar. I do not want to be bad like a goblin.

Why are goblins bad? The others left me on the flying ship again. When they came back the first time, some of them were hurt and bloody, but they have magic that can make them better. They were attaked by more dead things. Dead things that attak are definitly bad, because dead things should stay dead, because that is what the good gods want. This is what Hakam says.

When they came back the second time, they had big hayry goblins with them or hobgoblins. I lissened to these hobgoblins, and they did not sound bad. They answered all the questions and did not fight. Why does Leokas say that all goblins and hobgoblins are bad? If all hobgoblins are bad, why did they let them go and not make them dead?

When they came back the third time, Kytharrah's fur was falling out. I am worried about him, but Hakam says that he will be fixed soon.

I have many questions. This journal seems to be a book of questions, even though I wrote earlier that I wanted it to be a book of recordings of what has happened.

I just wrote 2 things that happened. One more thing is that they fawt a very very bad hobgoblin with wings and horns. They said that that made him very very bad and not just bad. Kytharrah has horns, and he is good. I do not think that he would be more good if his horns were cut off.

I have many things about good and bad to think about. I will stop writing now.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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A Record of the Adventures of the Great Prospector and Illusionist Stumblesparkle, Back Cover
On the Manner of Arriving Safely and Accurately at the Spinning Keep

~ Head due west by south four and one half hours from the ruins of Dashadjen. Reach triad of sand columns with tallest ten yards high.

~ Head due south by east ten and one quarter hours. Reach wide crater some 200 yards wide.

~ From south southwest edge of crater, head due southwest one hour to reach dried creek.

~ Follow creek southerly two hours until it curves sharply north and then south again.

~ From southwest by west edge of curve, head due south by west one and three quarter hours to pile of large boulders three yards high and four yards wide at thickest.

~ Head toward the second to the easternmost hill of four hills visible in the southern horizon as a cluster.

~ Summit the hill.

~ The Spinning Keep is located due south southeast from the summit, barely visible as a pearly flicker of light.

[The directions include an accompanying map.]
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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A Record of the Adventures of the Great Prospector and Illusionist Stumblesparkle, Chapter 18
On the morning of the seventh of Mirtul, the Year of Nightsilver, Stumblesparkle, the great prospector, woke up, performed her morning exercises, and began her day's adventure. The following account is most true and accurate.

For breakfast, she ate raisins and pears and a bit of cheese.

The day had at last come. She stripped off her garments and firstly cast a spell to make herself invisible. Next, she opened her eyes to see the true form of things. Finally, she cast a spell to grant her the power of flight. Up to the top of the dodecahedron she flew.

After several hours of miscellaneous manipulations and careful specialized spellcasting, she succeeded in unlocking the "door". The door did not open so much as she found herself falling through one of the twelve sides of the keep. There she was, floating peacefully in nothing but the skin in which she was born. Thankfully, she was also invisible.

She shivered from the bitter cold, another downside of the lack of clothing. The air was moist and humid. The cold seemed to be coming from the... "crystal".

There it was, at the center of the dodecahedral chamber, a grotesque, writhing, wriggling mash of silently screaming genie faces, morphing in and out of each other.

The great prospector, despite her usual bravery, nearly lost her raisins, pears, and bit of cheese.

On the other hand, she felt a strange surge of power, as if her tiny, delicate muscles were rippling with strength.

The genies did not seem to be happy all squished together like this.

The walls of the chamber were covered in sharp blades and razors. Thankfully, the great prospector continued to float. There was no gravity there.

She had to avoid an arc of positive energy that shot from the writhing "crystal" to one of the walls and did so with great finesse. The narrator can confirm this with all honesty. It in no way struck her on the backside. Had it done so, she might have found that the scratch that she had on her knee from the previous day's adventure had been supernaturally repaired.

A few seconds later, and there was another spark. This one was the color of negative energy. She avoided it as well. Time passed and with it came another negative arc. This one struck the baelnorn.

The narrator forgot to mention that the elven lich sitteth, or rather floateth, placidly in the space above the wriggling mush of faces. In the present case, his eyes remained closed, meditating on his boredom, most likely, seemingly oblivious to being shocked with a red-colored bolt of undead-awakening power.

The lich kept boring company in his boring chamber, a pack of boring air elementals, who were quite dull in their behaviors or lack of them.

Then the melancholy lich opened his slanted eyes and wiggled his pointed ears and looked like he had just seen a stranger in a disrobed state.

It was then that the great prospector realized that her first spell had faded. She quickly covered her modesty and smiled sheepishly at the millennia-old tel-quessir, who, it is noted, did not appear amused.

Now the dull, boring air elementals suddenly seemed excited and very un-bored, and began spinning into little whirlwinds. The narrator suspecteth that they wanted to blow and bash and break the tiny, fragile protagonist against the razor walls. How hospitable!

Her second spell had also faded by now, of course, which meant that the great prospector now saw a large diamond where once the genie-faced horror floated. (The prospector counted some 30 facets on two sides, before contemplating that counting faces on an illusory diamond was not the wisest choice of action when a dozen whirlwinds and an angry baelnorn were about to annihilate her.) Though it was utter darkness in the chamber otherwise, the crystal shone with its own light, as if reflecting the sun.

As the narrator hath already described, the prospector had pondered the wisdom of counting instead of fleeing, and as it so happened, the power that she felt seemingly extended to more than just her little gnomish muscles. In the next moment, just before the first creature of air flew against her, she wished to be absent from her present company and found herself in Pandesmos without any equipment or clothing.

Apparently, she could now plane shift. Fascinating.

Perhaps, she pondered, she should have planned her exit strategy a bit better than she had.

For dinner, the great prospector used her new, fading genie powers to create raisins, pears, and a bit of cheese, items that she fancied, if it hath not already been noticed.

The narrator will describe the adventure of how Stumblesparkle simultaneously returns to the Material Plane and manages to conserve her modesty in the next exciting chapter.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Chapter 5 — Stumblesparkle's Journal
"Curse you, elves!" shouted Hakam. "You are worse than anarchists!"

   "And you are a racist!" replied Leokas.

   "He was going to give us the chest, and then you tried to kill him!"

   "He betrayed our trust," argued Belvin. "You do realize, do you not, that now Allu knows that we are coming for him. As if defeating a genie would not be difficult enough!"

   "Yes, admittedly, that was an unfortunate turn of events," said Hakam, "and I was at fault for not adding a clause to our agreement about not contacting anyone by magic. However, now Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows that we are coming and we have lost the chest. That is unarguably a worse case."

   "You can call him Allu," said Szordrin. "The hobgoblin is not here to impress anymore."

   "Pause your fighting for at least a moment," said Solisar. "Kytharrah is in need of our aid."

   Kytharrah's red and white patched fur was scorched black, and he lay on the ground moaning from the burning sensations that he felt.

   They had to wait a minute more for the flames to vanish, and then they encouraged him to come back to them on the other side of the trap's trigger. Hakam used multiple spells to ease the pain and restore his fur to its natural color — that is, what fur had not already fallen out from the mummy's curse. The right side of Kytharrah's chest was bare, leaving the powerful musculature of his pectorals exposed. The skin looked like that of a corpse.

   "He is going to be naked by morning, at this rate," said Szordrin.

   "How are we going to stop Allu now?" asked Leokas. "For all we know, his goblin wizard is already inside the Spinning Keep. We cannot allow Calim or Memnon to be freed. It will spell the end of Calimshan, Tethyr, and the elven Wealdath. We do not have the time to chase Durbuluk to the Marching Mountains!"

   "We have our remaining wish," said Hakam. "We can simply wish the chest back into our hands."

   "What will prevent Durbuluk from simply wishing the chest right back again?" asked Belvin. "We have only a single remaining wish; Durbuluk may not have such a limit."

   "Genies use their own power to grant wishes," said Hakam, "and it is not infinite, nor can they grant wishes more than a few times per day. It is doubtful that Durbuluk will have limitless wishing power. Nevertheless, your point is taken. We only have a single wish, and we cannot be certain how many Durbuluk has remaining."

   "Speaking of wishes," said Szordrin, "why does Allu not simply wish the omlar gem back into his possession?"

   Leokas had a moment of panic and immediately checked to see that the omlar gem was still on his person. It was.

   "If I remember what we learned about wishes correctly," he said, "a genie cannot grant wishes for himself, nor can he command another being what to wish for if granting one. The wish must be a genuine and personal desire of the wisher."

   "I did not get the sense that Durbuluk cares enough about Allu's restoring of Memnon to power to waste any remaining wishes on the omlar gem," said Solisar.

   "We have to do something!" exclaimed Leokas.

   "We need at least until dawn," said Hakam. "Kytharrah will not be fit for combat until I can remove the curse on him, nor do I have any power left to send a message to the Prince."

   "Here," Leokas said to Kytharrah, "wear my periapt."

   "It is pretty," said Kytharrah, as the elf wrapped the magical necklace around his thick neck.

   "That will prevent the disease from spreading," said Hakam, but it will do nothing to restore the health that he has already lost."

   "I suppose that it must be that we wait," said Leokas. "To be honest, I think that Durbuluk's sword was magical and left a wound that your magical healing did not fully restore. I feel weaker myself. Was there not a monastery northeast of here?"

   "St. Liwan's," said Hakam.

   "Let us fly there. Perhaps they will know of the location of the Spinning Keep. At the very least, we will be somewhat closer, and we can decide on a course of action tonight and be ready to move first thing in the morning."

   This plan seemed agreeable to everyone.

   "The traps," Szordrin reminded them.

   "I can leave through the tunnel from the portal room and fly back to the spelljammer," said Solisar.

   "What if more mummies or undead or, worse, the dragon spot you?" asked Szrodrin.

   Solisar completed a quick spell and vanished from their vision. "They will not be able to see me," came back his disembodied voice in reply.


Solisar had returned with the spelljammer and picked up the others from the sands at the front entrance to Allu's tunnels without incident. Then they flew northeast until they could spot an ancient caravanserai, resting atop a low hill just off the Coast Trail that connected Teshburl to Memnon and skirted the edge of the Calim Desert along the coast. The sands here looked too hard to set the flying vessel down safely, so they had to land it in the waters at the base of the sea cliffs to the west.

   As he often did, Belvin remained on the spelljammer with Kamil and Ilthian, having little interest in socializing with human monks and priests. He only asked that Leokas or Solisar bring him some herbs. He raised the ship back into the sky as two rowboats filled with the others made their way to a tiny beach at the foot of the cliffs.

   Only Hakam had come this way before, but he assured them that their was a walkable path from this beach to the top. Leokas had stayed with Belvin last time, but Mythlos had talked so much about the food that he decided to come along.

   The path between the opening in the cliffs was steep, but they arrived at the desert's edge and headed north along the Coast Trail as the sun was setting.

   "It figures," said Hakam. "We shall be arriving for the evening vespers."

   A rather fat monk met them at the gates. He wore the traditional red skull cap of the Ilmatari, followers of the god Ilmater. Hakam was recognized. "You have returned, servant of our lord's lord. What brings you back to our humble house? Will you need a night's rest? Surely, you will require dinner! If you wait for the end of Father Akkabar's sermon...."

   "We shall not be able to spend the night," interrupted Hakam. "We are on a quest of great import to the security of this nation. We are looking for the location of some ancient ruins in the desert. Is Brother Harakhti, your diviner, still here?"

   "He is. I am sure that he is at evening vespers."


The party had little choice but to wait till the end of Father Akkabar el Souvlak's sermon, but afterward, they were invited with open arms to dinner. Leokas found that he agreed strongly with Mythlos' positive review of the food, and Kytharrah even experienced one of his first sensations of an overfull stomach. There were fresh, spiced breads; an assortment of camel and goat cheeses; shrimp and shellfish; veal stew; grapes from the vine; and pomegranate juice. It was a true delight.

   The multi-course feast went on for a couple hours, before Hakam insisted that they had important matters that had to be discussed so that they could return to their waiting vessel.

   In a side room with Father Akkabar and Brother Harakhti, they discussed the mummy's curse that had befallen Kytharrah and the location of Spinning Keep. In neither case were the friendly monks able to offer much help. The Spinning Keep was only a thing of ancient legend, fairy tales of when elves walked no-longer-existing forests of Calimshan. "Brother Jabal could remove such a curse," explained Harakhti, "but he has traveled south to Teshburl and will not be returning for a tenday. Any healing that we would freely offer you would have no effect until a curse of that power be removed."

   So, by darkness of night, the five returned to the shore and their rowboats to be picked up by Belvin.

   "Well, that was a wasted journey," said Leokas. "I am sorry that I suggested it."

   "The food was worth it, at least," said Szordrin, rubbing his stomach.

   "Yum," agreed Kytharrah.

   "It matters not," said Hakam. "I know how we can safely retrieve the journal."

   "How?" asked Solisar.

   "You will see in the morning," the cleric replied with a smile, proud of his own solution.


"I wish for an exact copy in my hands of the journal of the gnome Stumblesparkle now in a chest with the hobgoblin Durbuluk."

   Hakam had just finished his morning prayers, and his first task following had been to send a message to the Prince of Jhothûn, their powerful ally.

   "Your wish is granted," came the great qorrashi's reply.

   There, in Hakam's open palms, now rested a scuffed up leather journal, bound with cord, the result of their final of three wishes.

   The others were highly impressed.

   "May I see it?" asked Solisar. "I can translate it while you tend to Kytharrah." Hakam handed it to him.

   Hakam approached the minotaur and placed a hand upon his shaggy form. "By the power of the Lord of Justice, be free from the curse of death and evil that torments thee!"

   Kytharrah looked down but could still see the bare, thick skin of his chest. Belvin placed another hand on him and chanted wildly. "There," he said in Common, "it will grow back now, but it will take some time."

   Now everyone joined together around Solisar on the lower deck. "It is written in gnomish," he explained. "There is indeed a map here. Look." He held the open book to them to share.

   Leokas looked at it. "I can certainly take us there from the air."

   "The Keep itself is a twelve-sided, floating structure," explained Solisar. "It should be easy to spot once we are in the area. It is 70-feet wide, but it is rather translucent, so you have to be looking for it to spot it."

   "How do you get past the magical defenses?" asked Szordrin.

   "That will take me longer to determine," said Solisar. "If she explains how, she must have done so in some sort of code, because she only mentions off-hand that she stood upon the surface of the keep working on the mechanism for several hours until she succeeded and then entered. She only spends two sentences on how she got in. The rest of the pages describe what she saw when she was inside."

   "Which was?"

   "She says that it was bitter cold and highly confusing, because there was no gravity. She was in an open space with razor-covered walls. She was not there long before she was spotted by elemental beings and had to flee."

   "We do not need to know about the inside of the Keep," said Leokas. "We only need to arrive at the site and stop Allu's goblin from entering it. Belvin, take the helm and bring us back down to the surface."

   "Wait!" said Hakam suddenly. "I am getting a message from Jayce. He says that he has good news and bad news. He talked with the priests of Gond on Lantan. They say that Samber went crazy when his wife left him. He went into hiding and was never seen again."

   Hakam responded, "Keep learning about Samber. We must stop Allu, who is trying to free Memnon. Will rendezvous after. Does anyone else look like Samber's other creations?"

   "He never told us his bad news," said Szordrin.

   "He is sending a second message now," said Hakam. "He says that our news was worse news than his. He says his bad news is that someone stole aboard The Daisy and took all of Ombert's star charts and maps. Without them, he cannot find Samber's island again."

   "That is a shame," Hakam replied.

   "Ilthian's memory is nearly perfect," said Solisar. She was standing quietly by and lit up when she heard them mention her. "Ilthian, do you think that you could draw the stars that you can see overhead when you are at home?"

   "Of course I can," she said.

   "We can worry about Samber and his island after we stop Allu," said Leokas.

   They all agreed. Belvin went to the magic helm, and the rest remained to discuss a strategy for defeating a genie of fire and a powerful goblin wizard.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Thursday, Jan 25 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Tags: Chapter 5 , Recap
Chapter 5 — The Inner Chambers of Allustairimarinastralmindivu
They escorted Durbuluk back down the stairs. The going was slow, because Durbuluk was so badly injured and struggled to walk, but he gave no complaints. As they walked, Solisar remained in the rear of the group and was casting a long spell.

   They reached the red metal tiles in the midst of the four large columns. The violet wall of flame that had injured Szordrin earlier had now extinguished.

   "If you bring us back any treasures in addition to the journal," said Szordrin, now feeling confident to speak again, having left the vicinity of the zone of truth, "we will offer you a cut of that treasure."

   "I only care about the treasures that I brought here with me," said Durbuluk. "I will simply bring you the entire chest in which Allustairimarinastralmindivu stores the journal, and you may have whatever is in it that you like."

   "How do we know that you have not kept anything inside it for yourself?"

   "You will be watching me, will you not?" He motioned toward Solisar, who was still in the process of casting powerful divination magic.

   It took several more minutes for the sun elf to complete the spell. When he had done so, he notified the others that he was ready to proceed.

   "To clarify our agreement," said Durbuluk. "I am to bring you the chest with the journal within it, and in return, you will let me live and let me return to my home beneath the mountains."

   "Agreed," said Hakam.

   Durbuluk turned and walked away from them, crossing between the wall and one of the pillars. The fire trap did not activate. The six of them stood some ten feet from the traps and watched as he walked calmly toward the remaining tunnel. Leokas, Solisar, Belvin, and Hakam, were between the western wall and the center of the chamber, facing north, while Szordrin and Kytharrah stood parallel to the other trap, between the northern wall and the column, facing west.

   Solisar appeared to be in a trance, but he was mentally directing his arcane eye to follow along behind Durbuluk and monitor his actions. The elf began to describe everything that he was seeing, once Durbuluk vanished from everyone's sight by descending down a slope deeper into the tunnel, from which a red-violet glow emerged.

   "He has just passed two columns, embedded in the stone walls and made of red brick. They are similar to the ones in this chamber but about half the size. As he and the hobgoblins whom we rescued explained, the walls of this hall are walls of fire, violet, like the traps. The hallway of fire is about 25 feet wide, and the walls are perfectly straight now. It makes a right turn after a dozen paces.

   "Durbuluk just yanked the arrows out of his body. He is still walking, but he is waving his hands symbolically. I believe that he is casting a healing spell. Yes, his hands are aglow with positive energy. Now his wounds are closing up. Another spell now. He is clutching his unholy symbol. If his motions match those of Hakam when he casts divine magic, he is boosting his endurance.

   "He made the right turn and is walking down a wider hallway now, still walled with violet flames. A pair of columns appears on each side every 20 feet or so. The flames traverse from column to column.

   "He just healed himself again. He is no longer limping.

   "The hallway has reached a tee. There is an altar in the center and beyond that a black, iron throne. He is making another right, so he is now heading south. He just vanished. No, he walked through the wall. I shall follow with my sensor.

   "He is now in a tiny 'chamber' with four walls of fire. There are several iron pieces of furniture here, chairs, a desk, but they are small. He just passed through another of the walls, to the west. I follow. This is a slightly larger room. Except for the one we just passed through, the walls here are the natural, irregular stone. This room is furnished in a Calishite style, if I am not mistaken. There seem to be a collection of pillows, where one might recline or sleep. I suppose that they must be enchanted to be immune to fire.

   "Ah, Durbuluk has just moved into a small alcove off the southeastern corner of the room. It is an irregularly shaped space, and there is an iron chest here. It looks heavy. Apparently, it is not too heavy for Durbuluk to pick up. He is carrying it back into the 'bedroom'.

   "Now he is opening it. He had a key in a pouch on his belt. I shall see if I can position my sensor for a view inside.... There are an assortment of items, some clothing, some tools, some jewelry and coins. He is taking the jewelry and coins and transferring them to the pouch on his belt. One of the items seems to be an amulet. The coins are likely platinum. There may be a couple dozen of them. I suppose that these are his things. There was a longsword in a sheath in the chest, and he is attaching that to his belt also. Now he has two swords at his belt. He has taken out a brass mug. It looks rather ornate, but he has decided to set it aside. He just transferred what looks to be a silver hair comb to the pouch, but he set a silver chalice next to the mug. He is leaving all of the clothing within the chest, and he is locking it again.

   "He is returning the chest. Now he is walking to an iron desk. He opened a drawer and removed a roll of metal wire. He snapped two lengths of it from the roll. Oh, he is using it to attach the chalice and the mug to his belt so that he can more easily carry them.

   "It looks like he is finished in this room. He just passed through the fire into the other side room, and through the second wall of fire into the throne room with the altar. He is coming back toward us, walking west through the wide hallway now.

   "He has reached the left turn; he is almost back to us. Ah, but now he has turned right and is walking toward the wall. He has passed through the flames again. I shall follow.

   "This is a rather large square room with four walls of fire. A piece of the stone wall of the cavern juts through at one point bisecting the flame. This must be a storage chamber. There are several chests and boxes in here, all of them made of metal. Durbuluk seems to be glancing around, looking for something or thinking.

   "He has approached one of the chests and bent over it. Now he is trying to open it. It seems to be locked. He is removing his handaxe from his belt, and now he is swinging it at the lock. He broke it off in two swings. It must not be magically protected. He just opened the chest; yes, there is a journal atop an assortment of coins and silks and other things. Durbuluk is closing the chest. He seems satisfied.

   "He has picked up the chest and is carrying it back through the wall of fire. He is in the hall, coming back toward us. Odd, he just set the chest down. He is making divine hand motions with his right hand and clutching his unholy symbol with the other. He appears to be praying. If I am not mistaken, Hakam, he is making similar motions to those you make when you are preparing to contact someone."

   "Are we going to just sit here while he summons some fiend to attack us?" asked Leokas.

   "It is taking him too long to be a summoning spell, and as of yet, he has not violated our agreement," said Hakam. "He seems to have collected his things, just as he claimed he would do, and he has the chest with the journal for us as well. Furthermore, I have not sensed any chaos in him. It appears at this point that he still intends to bring the chest to us."

   "Never trust a goblin," muttered Leokas.

   Nearly ten minutes passed, however, and the duration of Solisar's scrying spell ended. "My spell is spent," he informed the others. "Just before the image faded, he appeared to be still in prayer."

   "To send a message by will of the gods does take a good deal of prayer," Hakam confirmed.

   "Whom is he hoping to speak to?" asked Belvin.

   "We shall ask him;" said Hakam, "he is coming now."

   They saw the hobgoblin priest come into view, stepping into the wide cave chamber, dragging a metal chest behind him with his left hand. He looked much healthier than when they had last seen him. A piece of his skull was no longer bloody and exposed, and no arrows were stuck in his torso. He was still moving his right hand in a rhythmic motion and chanting something under his breath.

   The winged, horned hobgoblin then tossed the chest a few feet, as if it weighed less than it appeared. It landed a yard in front of him with a thud.

   "To whom are you sending?" Hakam called out.

   Durbuluk smiled and spoke clearly. "I found the ones who have the gem key. They are coming for you. The mummies are dead. I wish that I were home."

   "Oh, no you do not!" shouted Belvin, raising his bow and nocking an arrow. Twice as quickly, Leokas nocked two silver arrows simultaneously.

   Arrows flew. Durbuluk roared in pain and clutched the hanging figure of crossed broadsword and handaxe around his neck.

   "Hold your fire!" Hakam shouted.

   "He is leaving the chest for us," agreed Solisar. "He kept his word. Let him go."

   It was too late. A curtain of violet fire encircled Durbuluk as he motioned with his hand.

   "Lunk! Grab the chest!" shouted Szordrin.

   The minotaur charged, rolling into a somersault and back to his hooves again, as he triggered a burst from another wall of fire. Unhindered, he continued and passed through the second blazing barrier, shrugging of the intense burning sensations and ignoring the pain. Within the ring of heat, he saw the chest and reached out his massive clawed hands, but so did Durbuluk.

   "Not anymore," said Durbuluk, grabbing the other handle. "The agreement has been broken."

   Both tugged on the chest, but neither let go of the handle he held tightly. The minotaur was surprised by Durbuluk's strength.

   Kytharrah was not certain, but he felt like he heard a deep voice from above him speak a single word. "Granted." Durbuluk gave a sudden jerk, and the chest slipped from Kytharrah's fingers.

   Kytharrah fell flat onto his back into the ring of fire, and Durbuluk and the chest were gone.
Session: 99th Game Session - Thursday, Dec 21 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — Durbuluk
The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"What is so funny?" demanded Leokas.

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."

Szordrin continued to point his wand at their captive. "One more taunt and you will not be left to recall his true name. Now, tell us all that you know about him. Do not try to hide a thing." The tiefling made a motion with his other hand to imply that he was watching the hobgoblin closely.

"I want a guarantee that you will let me live to leave this cavern and return to the Marching Mountains, before I speak," replied Durbuluk.

Kytharrah had seen the others interrogate prisoners before, so he figured he'd try to imitate them. Tapping the bottom of his axe handle on the ground, he snorted, "Talk!"

"By Torm," swore Szordrin, choosing a god who supposedly cared a lot about oaths, "if you give us all the information that we seek, we shall allow you to go free... eventually. If we intended to kill you, we would have done it by now."

Belvin and Leokas stood by defensively, while Hakam and Solisar seemed to be studying the hobgoblin's body language.

After a short pause, Durbuluk finally answered. "His name is Allustairimarinastralmindivu. Most pure-blooded hobgoblins are too stupid to remember something with that many syllables. I do not have such a handicap."

Now that this was revealed to them, it was not too shocking to Hakam. He remembered learning a little known fact that the names Calim and Memnon were also shorted forms of those famous genies' true names.

"As for who he was," continued their prisoner, "I do not know much of anything about his past. He has never told me his true background, but I suspect that he was just someone at the right place at the right time."

Leokas suddenly seemed to recall something and interrupted the current topic with a new question. "Wait! You mentioned the Marching Mountains. Are goblins gathering in force under the Marching Mountains? Are they preparing for an attack?"

"I promised to tell you of the efreeti, not of the Marching Mountains. Nevertheless, I will tell you what you should already know: the goblins are too weak to ever war against the surface world without guidance. Good for nothing but arrow-fodder are they in combat. That is why they needed someone like Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

Hakam uttered a quick prayer, and instantly, everyone felt a strong compulsion to speak only the truth.

Durbuluk smirked. "Your god cannot overcome the power in my blood, human cleric. Save your magics; I intend to speak the truth on my own."

"In that case, I affirm that you will be allowed to return to your home, provided that you answer all of our questions truthfully," said Hakam. "First, you say that you do not know much of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's past." (Szordrin looked at Hakam with shock that he so easily pronounced the name.) "When and how did you come to learn of him? And why did you join him?"

"I was high priest of Nomog-Geaya and chief advisor to Guthash, King Under the Marching Mountains. About this time last year, messengers came to King Guthash through the goblin tunnels from Calimshan. These messengers claimed to have been slaves to owners in Calimshan yet were set free by followers of Allu, a new god of hobgoblins. Seeing as I serve the only true god of hobgoblins, naturally, my ears perked up at this news. They were evangelizing, recruiting for an army with which to retake Calimshan for the goblinoid races."

"Nomog-Geaya?" asked Leokas. "Who is he?"

"Nomog-Geaya is the General, the god of authority and war. He is the true patron of my people."

Leokas was under the impression that Maglubiyet was god of both goblins and hobgoblins, and this was what they had heard some of the other goblins and hobgoblins whom they had encountered say, but he did not sense deceit in Durbuluk's voice, so he let the matter pass.

Szordrin opened his mouth to say something, but then doubted that he would be able to lie with Hakam's spell in effect, so he thought better of it.

Durbuluk continued. "Even though I knew that this new god, 'Allu', must be an imposter, I was intrigued by the message. King Guthash had been planning for years to build an army to unleash on the overworld. Perhaps this Allu could be an ally of sorts. A genie is a powerful adversary or a powerful friend. I advised Guthash to send me as an ambassador, to observe Allu and his schemes.

"I have thus pretended to be a 'priest of Allu', but while he can grant us three wishes a day, which is not a minor thing by any means, he cannot grant spells. I still serve Nomog-Geaya, and Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows this. The other hobgoblins do not. That is all that matters.

"Nomog-Geaya knows that I am faithful to him. As I bide my time, so Nomog-Geaya bides his time for when he will rebel against Maglubiyet."

Belvin, with singed hair and leathers, asked, "I suppose that you attacked us thinking that we are enemies of Allu-stair-into-the-astral-sea-or-whatever. Could we not have come to a peaceful resolution, considering that we earlier freed your kin? Or does that not matter to a hobgoblin?"

"My goal was to flee this place. You were in my path. I know nothing of any kin of mine that you freed; I only saw my opportunity to escape, since the mummies below had been destroyed. You were not goblinoids nor efreet, so you would be no friends of the efreeti, even if you are enemies of his enemies. For all I know, you are simply greedy adventurers. Whoever you are, you made my task easier, and I took advantage of this, as anyone with any intelligence would."

Hakam jumped back in with a question. "Tell us more about these mummies. Was there another mummy with them, one called El Sadhara? She would have been dressed more ornately than the others that we destroyed."

"What her name was I do not know, but there was another, yes, without a veil like the others, extremely thinning hair, terrifying presence. She commanded the undead and elementals of air and slew many of the hobgoblins with a single word, turning them instantly to ash."

"Is she still here somewhere?" asked Leokas.

"She only left just recently."

"Why did she leave?" asked Solisar.

"Someone summoned her back." Durbuluk shrugged. "I do not know why. She left her handmaidens behind."

"What do you know of her designs?" asked Hakam, "Why was did she come here at all?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu, when scouting the desert, had learned of her ancient temple. He discovered that she was seeking to restore the djinni kingdom that once ruled here, one that warred against the efreeti kingdom to the north.

"Her designs were thus completely at odds with Allustairimarinastralmindivu's. He sabotaged her works. Allustairimarinastralmindivu did not expect her to find this hidden palace of his, and he trusted in the 'protection' of the blue dragon lairing 'next door'. But with the dragon gone, she must have seen an opening for her revenge.

"Her forces annihilated us. While I am drastically more powerful than the poor miserable pure-bloods, I am no match for the mummy,... nor was Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"The dragon Yrevkethend is gone?" asked Hakam. "Where did she go?"

Durbuluk shrugged. "She was last seen flying to the northeast, and she has not returned."

"The hobgoblins whom we freed said that she had been absent since the beginning of the year," added Leokas.

Durbuluk nodded in agreement.

"And where are Allustairimarinastralmindivu and his archwizard now?" asked Hakam.

"When he saw that his plans here had failed, miserably, he fled to the Spinning Keep."

Hakam knew that he should be familiar with the term, but he could not place it.

Solisar sensed this and explained, "The Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen is the great prison of the genies Calim and Memnon, created by the High Mage Pharos nearly 9,000 years ago."

"Why would he go to a prison?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk chuckled. "Do you not know the legends of the Calimmemnon Crystal and the Spinning Keep?"

"Clearly I do not," Hakam replied.

"Within Siri'wadjen lies the Calimmemnon Crystal," said Solisar, "in which the entrapped essences of the two noble genies strive ever for freedom. Legends say that anyone touching the gem would obtain the powers of both Calim in Memnon. Other legends say that, if the Crystal were to come into contact with the wind of the desert or the crackle of its dried sands, then the corresponding genie would be freed. Of course, the elves protected the Crystal. No one has ever entered Siri'wadjen or successfully solved its puzzles. In fact, it is impossible even for anyone to pass through the magical field of protection surrounding it."

"Typical of snobbish, arrogant elves, your definition of 'anyone' differs from that of other races," said Durbuluk. "In truth, the protections on the Spinning Keep bar genies, humans, and elves from ever touching the surface of the magical structure, but nothing prevents a hobgoblin or a goblin, like Booyagh, from touching it." Durbuluk gave a truly devilish smile.

Hakam suddenly understood the gravity of Allu's plan and why he was so interested in hobgoblins as a race. "Curse you elves," he said. "Calishites would have protected the prison with better magics!"

"Oh, we shall just go back 9,000 years and fix that then!" said Belvin.

"History has already been written," said Solisar. "We must deal with the present."

"So, Allustairimarinastralmindivu desires the power of the Crystal and needs the hobgoblins to bypass the prison's defenses," said Hakam.

"No, Allustairimarinastralmindivu knows that the power gained from touching the Crystal is only temporary. He wants the permanent power that a fully restored Memnon can grant him. He does not want to simply touch the Crystal; he wants to free the Trapped Terrors within."

"Why would he want to free both genies?" asked Hakam.

"He only wants to free Memnon, of course, but it is likely impossible to free one without the other. His original plan was to have the backing of an army of efreet behind him when the Crystal was removed from the Keep. With the aid of a multitude of genies, surely Calim would immediately be subdued and slain, and Memnon would rule."

"Why release Memnon only to be subjugated by him?" asked Hakam.

"I have always suspected that Allustairimarinastralmindivu is no one of note on the Plane of Fire. He is not noble born. None of his efreeti kin would ever follow him. I think that he believes that if he succeeds at his elaborate plan to restore Memnon to power, then he will be rewarded handsomely or even appointed to higher status among his kind."

"It seems foolish. There is no guarantee that a genie such as Memnon would reward him."

Durbuluk shrugged again.

"What do the hobgoblins get out of all of this again?" asked Leokas.

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ultimate goal is to free Memnon and to restore the kingdom of Memnonnar, but he knows that he needs the help of hobgoblins, and in exchange, he will return to us the hobgoblin portion of the kingdom that was once ours."

"Calimshan was never yours!" protested Hakam.

"Typical Calishite human, seeing your history the way that you want to see it! Travel north to the nation that you humans call Tethyr. To this very day, you will find a gorge with the remains of a massive monolith that my people raised thousands of years ago to the greatness of Nomog-Geaya. How many human nations have monoliths that have persisted for so many ages? Do you think that wandering bandit tribes of hobgoblins could build such a thing? No! We were a kingdom. The lands of Tethyr were fully ours, not those of the Calishites!"

Hakam thought it best to return to the matter at hand rather than argue about ancient history. "Where exactly is the Keep?"

"East of here, several day's journey on foot. I do not know the exact location, but Allustairimarinastralmindivu had obtained a journal from a gnome adventurer, who claimed to have bypassed the Keep's defenses and entered it. She left a map to the site in the journal as well."

"Was the gnome's name Samber? or Ramseb? or anything like that?" asked Hakam.

Durbuluk shook his head. "No, she only signed her name as Stumblesparkle, a typical foolish nickname among those ridiculous people."

"Is this journal and map still here?" asked Solisar.

"It is," Durbuluk replied, "in on of Allustairimarinastralmindivu's storage chambers."

"Beyond the fire traps?" asked Hakam.


"How can they be disabled?"

"They cannot be disabled," said Durbuluk, "but that is not a problem for a fire genie or for a hobgoblin with magical blood like mine."

"I assume that they reset."

"They do."

"Are there other traps?"

"No, but the very walls of the inner chambers are composed of fire, not of stone. You natives of this plane would not fare well."

"Are there other hobgoblins still alive here besides you?" asked Solisar.

"I know not. Remember, I was just trying to escape through the tunnel behind you with my own skin, and now I have lost a good bit of that."

"Did any other hobgoblins go with Allustairimarinastralmindivu?"

"He only took Booyagh with him."

"Why did you not also go?" asked Solisar.

"My talents are not with ancient artifacts and mysteries. I was to remain as long as I could to defend against the undead. Clearly, I failed at that task, as you have now subdued me."

Kytharrah now asked a question. "What do you guard?"

"Allustairimarinastralmindivu's inner sanctum."

"What do you know of Allu's dealings with Samber?" asked Hakam.

"Samber? The same name that you mentioned earlier as a possible name for the gnome? I know nothing of anyone by this name."

"He is a wizard of great power. His was the island where the Allustairimarinastralmindivu first entered our world."

"Ah, the one from whom Allustairimarinastralmindivu stole the gate."

"Stole the gate?" asked Leokas.

"This gate here?" asked Hakam.

"Yes, the gate directly behind you."

"Why would Allu steal a gate to the Plane of Fire?" asked Solisar.

"To lead through an efreeti army for Memnon to lead," said Hakam somberly.

"Yes, exactly," confirmed Durbuluk. "As I said before, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was supremely fortunate to have found an open portal to his plane, and he simply passed through it. He came upon the abode of some powerful wizard with a portal on an isolated island and a band of hobgoblin pirates — with a sailing ship no less. Is it so surprising that he saw this as an opportunity? Everyone knows that to this very day a deep and ancient magic still bars all genies from using their own magic to enter Calimsham or wizards from calling them here. No such magic prevents a portal to the Plane of Fire from operating, however. All Allustairimarinastralmindivu had to do was dismantle the portal and transport it here to Faerûn to rebuild. As you can see behind you, he succeeded."

"Allu told the hobgoblins that the gate would bring warriors from Clangor," said Leokas.

"A lie that appealed to their simple minds more than the truth."

"How is it that Samber has not already located his missing gate and taken it back?" asked Solisar.

"The gate is protected against attempts at scrying. Allustairimarinastralmindivu is not foolish. He knows that the one from whom he stole the gate is a powerful spellcaster who could scry on the gate to find him and teleport here on a whim."

"Why has he not opened the portal yet?" asked Hakam. "Why has the Army of Fire not already come through?

"Because a petty and weak human wizard, a stowaway on Allustairimarinastralmindivu's ship, stole the key."

The party knew that this "petty" wizard was Malick of Darromar, the very one who had set this whole adventure in motion by hiring Leokas many months ago, but they tried hard not to let on to Durbuluk that they knew this or, worse, that they had the very key on one of their persons.

"Is the army waiting on the other side now?" asked Hakam.

"I do not know; I only know that until this mummy attacked us, Allustairimarinastralmindivu was still searching for the lost key. It was a major missing component to his plan. With the loss of the key and now the destruction of his army, the efreet's last chance is to free Memnon earlier than he had willed."

"Is there a way to destroy the portal?"

"I do not know that either. Booyagh might."

"Should we destroy the portal?" asked Belvin.

"There is no need for the portal to be destroyed if the key is still missing," said Solisar.

Kytharrah was growing noticeably bored of the interrogation by now and was scratching at his itching, rotting flesh, causing more fur to fall out.

"Are you satisfied yet," asked Durbuluk, "or do you have further questions?"

"Does the path behind us lead out of the caverns?" asked Solisar.

"It does, to the desert sands."

"How do Allustairimarinastralmindivu's magic bottles work?" asked Hakam. "Is he actually summoned when someone opens the bottle, or do we merely view an image of him?"

Durbuluk seemed thoughtful. "How would you know about these bottles?"

"We found one in the past and foolishly opened it."

"You. You are the ones who have the key. He has searched for so long, and had he only waited, you would have come to him!"

"Were it the case that we had the key," threatened Hakam, "we would have to eliminate anyone who might inform Allustairimarinastralmindivu."

"Now, now," said Durbuluk, "your so-called worshiper of Torm here already gave me a promise."

"Our agreement with you says nothing about finding you again after we let you go."

"After you let me go," said the half-fiend, "you will never find me again. I assure you."

"Nevertheless, you will tell us about the bottles."

"Unlike the bottles crafted by your own people to entrap efreet for their own purposes, these bottles summon Allustairimarinastralmindivu himself for a short time, after which he returns from where he came."

"If one were to open a bottle and then destroy it before that time had passed, what would happen?"

"I have no idea," said Durbuluk.

"Does Allustairimarinastralmindivu have any weaknesses? Or are there any means we could use to bargain with him?"

"You could offer him the gem key." Durbuluk smiled, but then he continued. "If that fails, you could use ice magic, which tends to work well on fire creatures. To be honest, I have never considered attacking him, so I do not know. It seems a foolish thought."

"Bored, bored, bored," complained Kytharrah.

"The fire traps in the chamber below," said Hakam, "what triggers them?"

"They only trigger for non-hobgoblins," Durbuluk replied, "and they only trigger moving away from the center of the four columns."

"So the way into the inner chambers are blocked? Is there any other way in?"

"That tunnel is the only way in. Are we finished here? Are you not yet satisfied? I have told you everything."

"To satisfy us and our agreed-upon conditions, you must tell us everything written in the gnome's journal."

"What? Absurd! I cannot read the language that the journal is written in, and even if I could, do you truly expect me to have memorized it?"

"Can you at least recall the map?"

"Not well enough to draw a copy for you. I only saw it once."

"Then you must retrieve it for us," said Hakam.

"That does not seem to me part of our agreement."

"You agreed to answer all of our questions, and we are questioning you about information found in a document that you clearly have access to. In any human court, this argument would be upheld."

"Perhaps in a human court," said Durbuluk.

"That is the only court that matters at the moment," said Hakam.

"Stay here, and I shall retrieve the the book for you."

"And risk you escaping?" said Leokas.

"We will escort you as far as to the fire traps below," said Hakam.

"So be it. That is only fair," answered the fiendish hobgoblin. "Lead the way."
Session: 99th Game Session - Thursday, Dec 21 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — The "Preparation Room"
They climbed up the stone steps into the ceiling some fifteen or twenty feet above, rising into another dark and massive chamber 50 feet high. The glowing omlar gem was able to illuminate most of the 50- to 60-yard cavernous room. It was empty of any visible life. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, but it appeared that any stalagmites had been broken off and filed down to make the floor as flat as possible. Large boulders and natural stone columns were distributed about the room, but the object that caught everyone's attention immediately was the portal gate in the center.

"The same black metal as what Samber uses," said Hakam.

They all approached the giant ring. It sat on a crude dais made of slabs of stone and was haphazardly embedded in concrete. It was about fifteen feet in diameter.

Szordrin, now holding the omlar gem, looked at the metal of the ring. It was made from five separate pieces. Each piece had the symbol of the Interlink Consortium of Bral etched into it. The discovery immediately triggered feelings of anger in the tiefling.

Solisar also looked more closely. "The metal is marked with the rune for fire," he explained, "just like on the odd faces of the omlar gem. It must be a portal to the Plane of Fire, though we have a scroll from the gynosphinx that we encountered that can help me identify this portal's properties more completely."

"At last," said Leokas, "we have found the portal for which the omlar gem is the key."

On hearing this, Szordrin stepped off the dais and handed the omlar gem back to Leokas. "I do not want to get too close while holding this then.

"Solisar," Szordrin continued, "use the scroll. I shall investigate the rest of this chamber in the meantime with my darkvision."

"I see in the dark too!" said Kytharrah.

"Come along then, Lunk, and I know that you are fast."

Kytharrah seemed confused but followed.

Solisar began reading the incantation from the scroll, while the other two elves and Hakam stood by. It took him about a minute, and during that time, he removed a small mirror from among his belongings. When he completed the final words, the glass of mirror began to glow a deep red color, and it looked to be covered in smoke.

"It is as we suspected," said the sun elf. "The portal activates for anyone passing through while holding the key. Actually, the key is only needed on the Material Plane side. That is, once through, the portal remains open back to the Material Plane, and, yes, its destination is on the Plane of Fire, though I cannot see through all the smoke to make out any details about the specific destination.

The others returned to report that they had found a tunnel on the opposite side of the cavern from the stairs. It seemed to slope uphill and curved to the north.

"What did the scroll reveal?" asked Szordrin.

"It leads to the Plane of Fire, but we cannot tell exactly where," Hakam replied. "I suspect that we would not be likely to survive travel through the portal at this point. That realm is not hospitable to most mortals of our kind, and I do not think that we have the magic to protect us from its heat."

"The Plane of Fire is more hospitable than many of the other Inner Planes," said Szordrin. "The Plane of Earth is just a big chunk of infinite earth and rock; the Plane of Air is just a big collection of infinite water, but at least the plane of fire has a bottom, has land to stand on. Because of the genies, there are even cities."

"You seem to know more about the place than I," said Solisar, somewhat surprised by this observation, "but is not the City of Brass still unsurvivably hot?"

"Well, yes."

"Hakam is right then," said Solisar. "We cannot pass through this gate now. We would have to come back with magical protections for all of us. Perhaps I could research such spells in Silverymoon...."

"Even with protective abjurations," said Hakam, "I will not pass through the portal without a backup plan for getting home. I shall have to acquire another planar fork tuned to the Material."

Kytharrah suddenly snorted loudly. He had spotted someone coming up the stairs. Belvin also noticed and watched as a hairy humanoid ascended. Short, pointed horns sprouted from his head, and he had long ears like an elf or goblin. The creature was garbed in leather armor, covered in studs and spikes, and carried a longsword in one hand and a handaxe in the other. When he reached the top of the steps, batlike wings unfurled behind him.

"It is Durbuluk," said Belvin. He raised his shield and scimitar.

Solisar heard the newcomer call out "Nomog smite thee!" in a fiendish tongue while pointing his sword toward Belvin.

A column of unholy fire enveloped the wild elf, and he screamed in pain as he hurriedly tried to extinguish the flames, only to find that they were no longer there; the magic was instantaneous. He dropped to his knees, his skin burning in pain.

Durbuluk leapt into the air, with a powerful flap of his wings, shooting up to the ceiling before any of the others could reach him. He hung with his axe arm around one of the stalactites.

"Belvin, are you...?" Leokas began.

"Do not talk to me; take him out!" shouted the druid. With that, he called out a frantic druidic chant, attempting to magically bind the half-fiend's wings, but he was in too much pain to complete the spell properly.

Leokas nocked an arrow.

Szordrin called out to the others. "Half-fiends have strong resistances, much stronger than tieflings!"

"Then aim for the stalactite!" Belvin replied.

Szordrin followed Belvin's advice and sent a series of force bursts at the stalactite, but the blasts did not break the stone. Leokas tossed the arrow that he had nocked to the the ground and reached for another one, silver tipped, more useful for injuring certain beings of the planes. Hakam moved off the portal dais and offered a prayer to Anachtyr to protect his companions, while Solisar rushed to Kytharrah's side.

"This is not play!" the sun elf instructed, pausing to enspell his own eyes with some divinatory magic. "Can you hit him with your 'goo bag'?"

Kytharrah tossed his last tanglefoot bag up with a powerful underhanded lob. It shattered and covered the hobgoblin cleric with a sticky mess. "Yes!" shouted the minotaur happily.

Solisar also tossed something up into the air, a tiny fragment of broken glass, which vanished.

"Try to fly now!" Leokas taunted, and he unleashed three shots of silver-tipped arrows in rapid succession. The first punctured Durbuluk's leather, but the second was deflected by either armor or magic force, and the third embedded itself into the stalactite.

Having caught his breath, Belvin retreated further back from the battle, easing his own pain with positive energy as he did so. Then, he began a summoning chant.

Durbuluk cried out in the same awful language as before, but this time, fire immolated him, thin, wispy flames of dim, purple light.

Again Solisar understood the words: "Nomog protect me with warm flame!"

"He is protecting himself from cold magic!" Solisar relayed to the others.

Hakam drew his sword and yelled out a command meant to dispel the enemy cleric's protective magic, but there was no response, and Szordrin, too, failed at attempting a spell of his own.

"I can shatter his stalactite," said Solisar, "but I need to get closer. Kytharrah, lift me up!"

Kytharrah grabbed the elf by the waist and lifted him nearly over his head, but it was a wasted effort. Two more arrows from Leokas found their target in Durbuluk's side, and then the fiendish hobgoblin let go, falling into a glide as a third arrow whizzed past him harmlessly. He glided directly at the opponent who had stuck him thrice with arrows, sword extended. Durbuluk came to the ground directly facing the wood elf, and drove his sword up with the added force of his quick descent. The blade plunged through Leokas' gut and the tip came out his lower back.

"I tried to fly," said Durbuluk in Common. He yanked the blade back out. "Did it work?"

Leokas could taste blood in his mouth, and he could feel the heat from the magical fire surrounding the evil cleric burning his skin. Time seemed to slow for Leokas, but in an instant, Hakam was at Leokas' side, before Durbuluk could take another swing, and positive energy surged through the wood elf. Durbuluk raised his sword again, but was distracted when a vial of some alchemical substance struck him, tossed by Szordrin.

Kytharrah set Solisar on the ground, grabbed his axe, and rushed over to flank the hobgoblin, while the sun elf tried to dispel the violet flames around the hobgoblin but failed to succeed.

Leokas, however, sprung back to land on the dais and drew an arrow.

"I know...." Twang. "...the most painful parts...." Twang. "...on your goblin body." Twang. Three more arrows joined their partners, and Durbuluk was beginning to look like a pin cushion. His attempts to deflect the arrows with his weapons or to strike the elf a second time failed.

"I feel no... ah!" Durbuluk's retort was cut off as a long-necked, blue-scaled, yellow-feathered creature with four sets of wings took a chunk of flesh and hair from Durbuluk's skull with its sharp beak as it swooped by. Belvin's summon from the Plane of Air had arrived. The four-eyed creature gave a high-pitched screech, as the flames about Durbuluk had burned it, and flew off to recover and circle about the massive cavern. Durbuluk now nearly stumbled over as dark goblin blood flowed onto his face from the head wound. He jumped into the air again and flapped his powerful wings to carry him some five yards into the air, but an arrow from Belvin now joined the others, puncturing one of the wings.

"Bree-yark! I yield!"

"Kytharrah, stay," said Solisar, but he readied a spell of his own just in case.

The elemental creature circled back for another nip at Durbuluk's head, as the half-fiend struggled to hover above them with powerful downward strokes of his wings.

"There are more where that thing came from," taunted Belvin.

"Spare my life, and I shall tell you everything that you want to know!"

"Tell us of Allu or I shall strike you with the wrath of the gods!" Szordrin shouted, pointing a wand of magic detection at the severely wounded foe and hoping that the half-fiend would not know the difference.

"This one is not a creature of chaos;" said Hakam, "we may be able to listen to him."

Leokas shot another arrow directly into Durbuluk's gut, precisely where the hobgoblin had stabbed him moments earlier.

"Now, I will listen." He lowered his bow, and Belvin dismissed his strange summon.

"Drop your flames, and tell us of Allu!" repeated Szordrin.

The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."
Session: 98th Game Session - Thursday, Dec 07 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — The Room of Four Columns
The party returned to the cavern complex through the sea cave entrance later that evening, once the tide had lowered again. They still had yet to locate Allu's inner chambers. The interrogated hobgoblins had suggested that his elite forces might be holed up deeper in the caves, where they and Allu had retreated, beyond a massive chamber in the east with a ceiling supported by four thick columns. Supposedly, Allu's chambers were protected against the undead, they had reported, and Szordrin and Hakam had confirmed that at least one more minotaur skeleton and five smaller ones stood "waiting" in the larger room.

The lines of ash that they had left continued to remain undisturbed during their absence. Presumably, the six skeletons had not moved from where they were last seen. "I suppose that if you are already dead, it means nothing to you to stand around for a day," said Leokas.

For once, the group had the time to ready themselves for battle with knowledge of what lay ahead around the corner. Hakam lit up his shield with a prayer, while Solisar cast a similar light spell upon the omlar gem, enhancing the extent of the glow. Hakam increased Kytharrah's strength and protected him from evil. Szordrin likewise protected himself and also created false duplicates of himself. Solisar made his eyes see invisible objects and persons and created a protective forcefield around his clothing. Leokas prayed that Solonor would bless his next shot.

"Are we ready?" asked Szordrin, clutching a bit of bat guano mixed with sulfur between his fingertips, ready for a spell.

"Let us do this," said Leokas, nocking an arrow.

"We charge as soon as I finish casting this last spell," said Solisar. With that, he completed a brief incantation, and a piece of licorice root vanished from his hand.

They all felt a surge of energy and charged out of the cavern passage.

Solisar bowled the glowing omlar gem into the center of the large chamber, filling it with light, revealing five of the previously seen skeletons. A bead of red shot forth from Szordrin's fingertips and struck the ground in their midst, erupting with an echoing blast of light and flame. Bone and bone fragments were scattered in all directions, leaving only the minotaur skeleton in one piece. It threw its head back, as if giving a silent roar. An arrow from Leokas shot through what would have been its open mouth, puncturing the back of its skull. A huge chunk of that fell away, bringing the horns with it. It began to charge, but Leokas caused it to clang to the floor in pieces with a second shot.

Their own living minotaur rushed into the light, passing to the left past one of the four massive columns supporting the ceiling. He saw another skeleton, but it was the extraordinarily thick cloud shape that caught his eye. It looked like it had thick arms and fists, and it had glowing eyes in its midst. He swung his axe at it and found that it felt like he was cutting through something solid and mushy. The cloud parted in half and dissipated, its glowing eyes fading away into nothing. He stood for a moment confused.

Hakam ran after Kytharrah and spotted the same skeleton. He called on Anachtyr to send him a spiritual weapon, and a sword of force appeared before the skeleton and wasted no time in hacking apart the bones.

Three Szordrins charged around the other side of the massive column and saw another hidden opponent. "They have another mummy!" he shouted out in warning, before sending two beams of flame each from his three hand. One of the real beams struck the mummy soundly, but the others passed over her shoulder and struck the column. She was dressed and armed much like the three that they had destroyed the day before. The mummy had her eyes closed and held a posture of what might have been prayer.

Belvin and Solisar came behind Hakam, as two more skeletons rushed from out of the shadows near other columns and charged forward with scimitars waving. Solisar sent missiles of magic force toward the mummy, which he could now also see behind the column, but they seemed to have no effect on her. One of the skeletons came within ten feet of Kytharrah before he cut it in half at the lower spine and scattering its bones. A ball of fire came from Belvin's hand and obliterated the remaining one.

"That was more than six skeletons!" shouted the elven druid.

Then they all felt a bitter cold fill the chamber, which they could feel in their bones. The mummy opened her eyes, and they heard her scream some dark words that included the name of Akadi. A whirlwind blew suddenly through the chamber and a humanoid cloud coalesced near their young minotaur. The elemental being pounded into Kytharrah with the force of a hurricane, knocking him back but not hurting him greatly. It shook him up enough, however, to give the mummy an opening. With inhuman speed, she was upon him, slamming him with fist and mace. He roared in pain, taking three solid blows before at last avoiding the fourth.

Recovering from the feeling of bitter cold, Leokas and Hakam came to their companion's aid. The elf charged east past the column unto a metal-tiled floor and tried to strike the mummy with two simultaneous arrows from his bow. They missed, as mummy and minotaur circled around each other looking for openings to strike.

Hakam pointed at the mummy while stepping away from the reach of the summoned air elemental. The spiritual sword flew toward the undead priestess like a ballista bolt. She deflected the force sword with her shield, but the distraction was enough for Kytharrah to swing down at her embalmed legs, tripping her off her feet and flat onto her back. (It had worked for the previous mummies, so he figured that he would try it again.) Kytharrah hacked down at the fallen priestess, cutting deep gashes into her wrappings, and leaving her chest an ash-filled concave hollow.

Nevertheless, the undead priestess sprung up to her feet again, splintered rib fragments falling to the ground from her chest and mouth open in a shrieking curse.

Hakam silenced her by calling a column of holy fire down upon her, engulfing her in flame.

As she writhed about and burned into ashes, the elemental came at Hakam to avenge its summoner, but it was seared by magic fire from Szordrin, shooting just between Hakam and Solisar and nearly scorching them as well. The sun elf waved his wand to pummel the elemental with force bursts, while Belvin came up behind Kytharrah and healed him with positive energy from his palm.

The elemental, having lost a good portion of its mass from Szordrin's fire, took one more feeble swing at Kytharrah, who deftly dodged the vapory fist. The thing turned and flew with haste to get away, but with a lunge, Kytharrah leapt forward and swung down his axe, turning the otherworldy creature into a puff of air.

Kytharrah giggled at the bizarre effect. "Poof!" he said.

They all caught their breath, as the power of the hasting spell wore off, and looked around at the scattered skeleton bones and the four columns. Between the columns, the floor was flat and tiled with massive ten-foot plates of reddish metal. The columns were the work of crude masonry, with large red bricks.

"Ah!" Szordrin yelled out in pain suddenly, as fire that did not come from his own fingertips erupted around him. He had dismissed his illusion and simply been walking back toward the hall from which they had come. Looking behind him, a wall of violet fire, rising all the way from floor to ceiling extended the whole length from the corner of one of the square-based columns to the cavern wall, from north to south. Thankfully, his fiendish ancestry prevented him from taking severe burns, but he was going to experience what would feel like sunburn for several days after this, and his clothing was singed.

"No one move!" warned Leokas loudly. "This whole room may be trapped."

Szordrin picked up a stone and tossed it to the north, between the chamber wall and another corner of the same column. Nothing happened.

"We all already crossed over that way without incident," said Hakam.

"And I passed the other way the first time too," said Szordrin, while looking carefully at the column, floor, and ceiling. "There are scorch marks here on this other corner of the column," he said, but I cannot find the source of the flames. Belvin, summon your satyr friend and make him pass between the wall and this column to me."

"Not going to happen," answered Belvin.

"You have had him do worse," said Szordrin.

Kytharrah was bored and wanted to head down another tunnel he spotted on the northwestern corner of the massive chamber.

"Minotaur! Get back here!"

Kytharrah grudgingly obeyed. As he did so, a tuft of his fur fell from his chest, precisely where the mummy had previously pounded him with her fists.

"Kezef be bound, you have been cursed!" exclaimed Hakam. "Let me see to your wounds."

Meanwhile, Solisar cast his spell to detect auras of magic. "Yes, the line from the corner of this column to the wall is indeed trapped. The source of the flames is from the crack in the stone there on the wall." He pointed. "The columns themselves are not magical. Yet it did not trigger for the rest of us, as Hakam noted. Odd."

"It triggered on the second time," said Szordrin.

"Like the trap that crushed me," said Leokas with a shiver, recalling that dreadful experience many months ago now.

"Can a magical trap be directional?" asked Hakam. Then he shouted at Kytharrah, "Stay still until I can heal you, minotaur, or do you want all of your fur to fall out?" He examined the friendly beast's injuries. More fur dropped off, and the skin looked rotted and greenish.

"Skin smells funny," said Kytharrah.

"Spell triggers can be customized in all manner of ways," said Szordrin.

"There is another trap between the wall and this other column here," explained Solisar. "Kytharrah nearly set it off, if it triggers in this direction."

"Are we trapped then?" asked Leokas. "We can enter the center of the room yet not leave without harm."

"Perhaps that staircase is not triggered," said Belvin, pointing to where a wide staircase between the two eastern-most columns led up into the stalactite-covered ceiling.

"There is no aura about it," said Solisar, "so it is free at least from any magical traps."

"The hobgoblin scum called the room above the 'preparation room'," said Leokas, "and the location of the gate portal to Clangor."

Hakam finished his examination and curing of Kytharrah, but the skin was still gangrenous. "I cannot help him further today. I will have to ask Anachtyr for such power come morning."

"Kytharrah, how do you feel?" asked Solisar.

"Not as tough. Like bad nap."

"Are you strong enough to search this ash for more gems from the mummy?"

He happily obliged the elf. While he was thus distracted, the others discussed how to handle the traps.

"There seem to be only four of them," said Solisar, "two on each of the western-most columns. So the paths to the tunnel to our exit and to the one over there, presumably to Allu's inner chambers, are blocked."

"Perhaps there are other paths beyond where we can see across the chamber," said Belvin. He and Solisar, carrying the still-glowing omlar gem, walked around the eastern half of the chamber, beyond the columns. They returned with nothing to report.

Szordrin used his magic to feel the trap source remotely, as if with an invisible hand, but he did not have the dexterity to manipulate anything. He gave up and dared to cross the line of the trap to join the others, since they suspected it to be safe passing in that direction. Nothing happened.

"Well," he said, "this explains how the skeletons and mummy made it into this room and then were left here and could not escape."

"If we spent the night here, Belvin and I could shape the stone to encase the traps," said Hakam.

"I could also dispel a trap for a few minutes with my druidic magics," suggested Belvin.

"Let us hold off on that for now," said Hakam, "in case we have another use for that. We still have to explore upstairs; we can deal with these traps later. I also have a scroll that can ward against flames if it comes to it."

"Let me examine the steps for mechanical traps," said Szordrin. They gave him several minutes, and he was convinced that they were safe to climb.

"Ready yourselves," said Leokas. "We ascend."
Session: 98th Game Session - Thursday, Dec 07 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Chapter 5 — Interrogation
Back on board, the famished and weakened hobgoblins sat below deck and leaned against the main mast, looking far more terrified than even Hakam about the fact that they were now floating miles above the ground.

   "It is safer this way," explained Szordrin. "Surely, you know that a blue dragon lairs in tunnels that connect to yours?"

   "Play?" asked Kytharrah.

   "No, we do not play with prisoners," said Leokas.

   Only two of the hobgoblins spoke Common, so Hakam used his magic to communicate with them in their language of Ghukliak. Szordrin cast spells for reading their surface thoughts and for understanding them, so that he could confirm that they were telling the truth.

   Hakam began. "When were you attacked?"

   "It was about ten days ago. It was hard to keep track after we became trapped."

   "Was it an ambush?"

   "No, it was a full-on assault. Hordes of undead poured into our caves."

   "Were they led by a mummy, a very powerful mummy in silks? Or did you ever hear the name El Sadhara spoken?"

   "There were several mummies, along with skeletons of humans, skeletons of minotaurs, and creatures that seemed to be made out of clouds and air."

   Hakam tried to describe El Sadhara in more detail, but the hobgoblins did not seem to know if she had been there or not.

   "Ask if they saw any human wizard," said Solisar.

   "...Or a human with red hair," added Leokas.

   Hakam asked them, but they had not.

   "Was Allu there with you?" asked Szordrin. "What happened to him?"

   Hakam translated.

   "The cowardly false god fled to his chamber when they attacked. We do not know what became of him, only that he abandoned us."

   "How many of you were there?" Szordrin asked.

   They answered back that there were hundreds of them, most of whom were slaughtered by the undead and elemental forces, unless a few members of their "special forces" had managed to survive somewhere. It was suggested that their high priest and the archwizard might have survived, as each was very powerful and were last seen retreating with Allu.

   "What were Allu's plans?" asked Hakam. "Why did he need to gather hundreds of you?"

   "Our god...." The goblin paused and spat. "Our former god was raising an army to retake Calimshan. He told us that Calimshan was his, that it belonged to him and had been taken from him in the ancient past. He told us that hobgoblins would rule once again, serving under him, and that the other races would be driven away. He told us that we would never be enslaved by the Calishite humans again."

   The goblin looked directly at Hakam as he spoke, with no love in his eyes toward the obviously Calishite man.

   Hakam did not try to argue that hobgoblins had never ruled Calimshan, but it was true that genies once did, though certainly not Allu. Instead, he changed the focus of the questions. "Have you heard of anyone named Samber? Or for that matter, Ramseb? or Rembas? or anything like that? or the Maker?"

   They had not.

   "I want to ask about Allu's 'palace' again. To the east of the tunnels where we found you, there is a massive chamber supported by thick columns. You said that Allu's chamber and a gate were that way, and now, there remain skeletons guarding the chamber. What are those columns supporting?"

   "The columns are supporting the 'preparation room' and the gate."

   "The 'preparation room'? Preparation for what?"

   "Preparation for war," said one of the hobgoblins. "Allu was waiting to summon an army of warriors from Clangor through the gate to unleash on the surface."

   When Hakam translated this information back to the others, Ilthian, who had been sitting quietly nearby, asked, "What is Clangor?"

   "It is where goblins believe that they go when they die," explained Solisar.

   The answer did not seem to make any sense to Ilthian, but she kept silent as Hakam asked another question.

   "You mentioned a high priest and an archwizard. Describe them."

   "The archwizard, Booyagh, is a puny goblin. Despite being a weakling goblin, he rose to power by slaying the other hobgoblin wizards in a spell duel, claiming that he wished to reject Maglubiyet, the goblin god, and serve Allu instead. So Allu accepted him, even though he is puny and small.

   "Durbuluk is Allu's high priest. He seemed clearly chosen from the beginning, for he is blessed with a mixture of fiendish and hobgoblin blood and is winged and horned. He came with some of us from the Marching Mountains and quickly replaced Bokkob and Martuk and Harngur, the earlier priests."

   "Why do you supposed that this priest and wizard may still live?"

   "They retreated to Allu's chambers, which are defended against the undead."

   "How so?"

   "The walls of his chamber and of his throne room and treasure rooms are of flaming fire, fires too hot for simple hobgoblins like us to survive."

   "Why did you choose to stay and serve Allu in this place?"

   "He promised us freedom. Did we not already answer you that?"

   "But what made you think that he could keep his promises? What made you believe him?"

   "I imagine that, as a genie, he had the power to create food for his growing army, for one thing," suggested Solisar.

   The goblin that could understand Common nodded, and then spoke his own answer in his tongue. "Before he abandoned us, Allu granted our every desires. We only had to say, 'I wish for...,' and it would be ours — food, females, treasure, anything."

   "From where did all of you come?" Hakam asked them. "How did Allu find and recruit you?"

   "Some of my friends, who are all dead now, claimed to have been former pirates on the Sea of Swords. Karlack here was a former slave as were a good number of us. Most of the rest of us were former subjects of Guthash, King Under the Marching Mountains."

   "What about the blue dragon who shares these tunnels with you?"

   "What about her? Her tunnels only connect to ours where they connect to the sea cave. Allu told us that she was too foolish and proud to think that an army of goblinoids lived right under her snout, crafting weapons and forging armor. For our part, we always used magic to hide ourselves if coming in from or going out over the desert. In any case, no one has seen her since the beginning of the year."

   Hakam had run out of questions to ask and came over to his companions to speak to them privately. "We are probably going to have to fight the remaining skeletons to see if we can enter Allu's inner chamber."

   "That should not be too difficult for us, provided that El Sadhara is not there," said Leokas.

   "Even if she was here, she may have left her priestesses behind in her place," said Hakam.

   "It seems that she came to confront Allu, and he fled," said Solisar.

   "She had confronted him in the past, when his agents destroyed her statue of Calim," said Hakam. "Was this her final revenge for all of that?"

   "How did she find this place though?" asked Leokas. "It was hidden."

   "I wonder if Samber helped her," suggested Hakam.

   "I thought that you considered Samber and Allu allies," said Szordrin.

   "Maybe they cannot be connected," said Hakam. "If it is true that Allu was here when El Sadhara attacked this place, he could not also have been her prisoner, as Jayce reported to us. So one cannot be an aspect of the other after all."

   "You are only guessing about everything," said Belvin.

   "I do not think that our prisoners can tell us anything else," said Szordrin. "We should get rid of them."

   "Did you sense any lies with your magic?" asked Leokas.

   "None at all," answered the wizard. "Their thoughts matched up with their words. They had a bit of hatred toward Hakam for being a Calishite, but that was about it. Mostly they were thinking about how confused they were that we would have rescued them and not outright killed them. And they were thinking about how hungry they were."

   "I object to just abandoning them in the desert without any supplies," said Solisar. "They cooperated with us more than we ever expected."

   "We can provide some rations," said Hakam.

   "Can we not also supply them with some of their weapons from the cave?" asked Solisar.

   "An elf would give weapons to goblinkin?" Leokas appeared shocked.

   "Are there not jackals and other mundane dangers in the desert?" said Solisar. "If I understand the geography of the region, there are no towns or villages until many day's travel by foot. There are blue dragons overhead and El Sadhara's undead below the surface. And are the rumors of purple worms in the Calim Desert only rumors?"

   "They are true," said Hakam, "but no cheaply crafted goblin weapon will protect them from a sand worm. I agree to providing them weapons; it will not make a difference. We can send Kytharrah back into the cave to retrieve four of them; I believe that the tide is still low enough."

   This was done, and an hour later, Belvin sat in the spelljamming helm and carefully lowered it into a region of soft sand east of coastal cliffs. The four hobgoblins looked in shock at being handed both a couple day's of food and a weapon for each.

   "Die well," Leokas said to them.

   What was perhaps intended as an insult seemed to have been taken as a kind farewell by the hobgoblins, and a couple of them responded with something in the Goblin language. "Braeunk vhos trolkh."

   As the spelljammer lifted off from the sand, Solisar asked Leokas what their final statement meant. "It is a common goblin farewell," the ranger explained. "It means something like, 'If you die, do it quietely.'"
Session: 97th Game Session - Thursday, Nov 30 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Chapter 5 , Recap
Chapter 5 — Survivors
With his natural eyes, Hakam could barely see more than a few feet in front of him now, since Solisar's torchlight had moved away, but he could still sense the shape of everything within about ten yards of him, as magic helped his mind to process the subtle echoes of sounds through the chamber. Thirty feet was not very far, however, and it was clear that this was the largest chamber yet in this subterranean place. If he was standing in the corner of a giant square facing inward, the walls to his left and right were irregular, as one would expect for a cave, but at the far corner stood something that "felt" very smooth and artificial to his magical perceptions. As he scanned the area for motion, he saw something else, and this with his eyes. A magical aura, revealing the presence of evil, well beyond the range of his magical blindsight.

   He sensed Szordrin coming up beside him. "What is it?" the wizard whispered.

   "A source of evil," Hakam whispered back. "Can you see anything with your fiend's eyes."

   "A dark pillar holding up the ceiling, about twelve or fifteen feet wide. It is not natural."

   "I sense it too," said Hakam. "Can you see anything to the right of the pillar. I sense three sources of evil."

   "I shall move a bit closer." Szordrin did so, and then quickly came back to stand beside the cleric.

   "Humanoid forms, rather thin. Not as large as minotaurs."

   "Bone thin?"

   "Probably so." He extracted a copper wire from his pouch and held it to his lips. "Come back at once! Hakam has found more skeletons!"

   Hakam healed himself with positive energy while they waited, and they were soon joined by the others around the bodies of the three mummies. Hakam and Szordrin whispered what they had seen.

   "Kytharrah, go back a ways and guard us in case more skeletons attack from behind us," Leokas directed. "If you see any more, destroy them all."

   Kytharrah obeyed.

   "They are not attacking us," said Szordrin. "Let Hakam and I go deeper into the chamber for a better look."

   It was not long before they returned. "There are five humanoid skeletons and another giant, horned skeleton," Szordrin reported.

   "I suspect that they were commanded to guard something," said Hakam, "since they have made no move to advance toward us — perhaps an entrance or perhaps El Sadhara herself. I suggest that we avoid them."

   "If they are simply mindless skeletons, that gives us time to explore the rest of these tunnels first," said Leokas.

   Solisar was looking down at the scorched and broken bodies of the mummies. "These have items of magic," he said. "Abjuration magics. Their armor and one of their amulets glow, as do their cloaks, which have resisted damage from all of our fire magics."

   "Are they dangerous to touch?" asked Szordrin. "Can we be cursed if we take them? Should I use telekinesis to pick up the items?"

   "They have been destroyed, so I believe that their curse is spent," said Solisar.

   "I believe that he is correct," said Hakam, "but I would not risk touching their fell kind. I suspect that they are wearing Calishite mail, enchanted to cool the wearer in the desert heat, though mummies would have no need for such things in undeath."

   "Kytharrah," said Szordrin, "come help me search their bodies."

   Kytharrah did so, and he seemed to have no emotional hindrances to ripping through their bandaged bodies searching. Each limb was unraveled or torn open, and the desiccated ash within poured out. The area was filled with pungent perfumes. Each mummy had had a large blue sapphire buried in its wrappings about where her heart should have been, and another on her forehead. (No one else noticed when Szordrin secretly pocketed these latter three gems.) Hakam stepped on the three unholy symbols, grinding them into the stone. They gathered up the amulets until they could identify them later, along with three silver aspergilla, the unholy symbols, and the chain shirts, and stored them in their magical sack. Belvin, Hakam, and Szordrin each donned one of the magical short cloaks, as Solisar seemed convinced that they were of the same magical properties of resistance to harm as the ones that he, Leokas, and Kytharrah already wore.

   All this time, the skeletons deeper within the chamber made no movement toward them nor any sound.

   "Come," said Leokas, "let us see where the other tunnel continued. It forked after some 75 to 100 feet."

   As a group, they returned to the wider tunnel with all the scattered remains of weapon forging.

   "I suspect this was where Allu was making weapons for his army," said Leokas.

   "But El Sadhara destroyed all of it," said Hakam.

   They reached the fork and turned first to the left, where they had destroyed the last two of the minotaur skeletons. On the left wall was a large column and a massive boulder placed too tightly together for a human to squeeze through to the other side. On the right was a pile of rubble as if from a cave-in.

   "We sent Ferry through here earlier," said Szordrin. "That was the boulder that Kytharrah could not budge, and this was the collapsed tunnel that Ferry mentioned to me."

   Kytharrah sniffed. "Food," he said, and he rushed off ahead of them. The rest hurried after him, lest he run into any trouble, but there was no sign either of life or undeath. The tunnel narrowed to five feet in width and then entered a smallish, irregular-shaped cavern chamber. All about it were nasty-smelling dried meats and kitchen implements.

   "Ferry found this too already," said Szordrin.

   "It is clear that all of the goblins are dead," said Hakam.

   "...Or they are holding out somehow on the other side of that boulder fall," said Solisar.

   "Are you suggesting that some of the survivors may have barricaded themselves rather than become zombies?" said Leokas.

   "It is what I would have done," said Belvin.

   "I should be able to confirm that," said Leokas, "if we have not already trampled all over the evidence. Stand back here for a bit. Solisar, may I have the torch?"

   The ranger approached the rockfall carefully with the torch and examined the ground in the area all around. Then, he came to the others and handed back the torch. "There certainly are goblinhobgoblin — tracks underneath some of the boulders that have been propped up over the others. There is no doubt that goblins passed that way into a tunnel."

   "I shall send Ferry through the rubble," said Szordrin.

   His little weasel companion was nervous about his mission, but he accepted it anyhow and scurried underneath and between the fallen rocks and rubble. He was not gone long. He crawled up Szordin's clothing to the perch on his shoulder and squeaked into his ear.

   "Ferry says that there are a few hairy people on the other side. They seem sleepy and weak. There is no decaying. They are alive, not dead or undead.

   "Shall we send a message to them perhaps," Szordrin concluded.

   "I could write it in their language," said Leokas.

   "Could we trust any response that they might send back?" asked Hakam.

   "Considering the circumstances, I think it would be in their best interest to send an honest reply," said Leokas, "and you know that none of us has as much hatred for goblinkind as I."

   "Let me see if there is a secret way beyond all this rubble first," said Hakam. He prayed for special vision and guidance from Anachtyr, but the magic did not reveal the presence of any secret doors or passages in the immediate vicinity.

   Solisar provided a strip of paper and a feathered pen and ink, and Leokas laid it against a flat stone to scribble a message, trying to keep the letters sloppy, in imitation of how he imagined a hobgoblin to write. The message read, he hoped,
We were sent by Captain Grak. We have come back from the sea. We found and killed many not-dead. What has happened here?

   Leokas handed the paper to Szordrin who put it in Ferry's mouth.

   "Drop the message and then run immediately back to us," said Hakam.

   "He does not understand Common yet," said Szordrin.

   "He needs to wait for them to write an answer, does he not?" said Solisar.

   "I shall tell him to wait under the rocks where he will be safe while they read it and respond," said Szordrin, who then began chirping and squeaking.

   Ferry nodded his little head and then scrambled down Szordrin and into the rubble. Szordrin knelt by the rubble to retrieve Ferry as soon as he came back. The bearded tiefling looked worried, but he could sense no terror in his familiar, only mild fear.

   The weasel popped back into sight several minute later, the same strip of paper in his mouth.

   "We forgot to send them a pen with which to write a reply," said Solisar.

   "Nevertheless, they wrote an answer," said Szordrin, holding it up. "It seems to be in blood." While written in blood, the letters were much neater than Leokas' message.

   Leokas took the strip and read it aloud.
Undead, not "not-dead", attacked us. Only five of us left. Who in the Hells are you? Who is Captain Grak?

   "Ask them if they can move the boulders on their own," said Hakam.

   Leokas wrote a second message.
Can you move the big rocks? If not, we will come back tomorrow.

   Ferry delivered the message, this time with a pen pre-dipped in ink, and carried back their reply.
We cannot move the boulders. We trapped ourselves.

   "Hobgoblins are not the most intelligent creatures," said Leokas, after reading back the message.

   They prepared a third message and sent this one with a small package of rations.
Where is our god, Allu?

   The reply:
Allu has abandoned us. Thanks for the grub. We have not eaten in two days.

   "The genie either fled or was banished," said Solisar, after Leokas read the reply.

   "Are we certain that he is an actual genie?" asked Hakam.

   "Did you not see us fight him with Sseth outside the monastery?" replied Leokas.

   "Yes, I did see the tail end of that, but have we considered if he might actually be an aspect of Samber? We have seen Samber use powerful illusions before, such as the Maker."

   "What would be his motivation to do that?" asked Leokas.

   "He needs more worshipers, does he not?" said Solisar, "From what I have learned about him from you, it would make sense for him to seek out new worshipers so that he might obtain true godhood."

   "But Allu led a small number of the hobgoblins from Samber's island," said Leokas. "Why not keep them there?"

   "To evangelize amongst the hobgoblins of Faerûn?" suggested Hakam.

   "To protect his created worshipers?" suggested Solisar. "In any case," he continued, "is it not likely that Allu and Samber have met, if they came from the same tiny island?"

   "More than that, I suspect that they are at least allied," said Hakam.

   "We simply do not know these things yet," said Belvin. "What good does it do to postulate at this point? All I know is that Allu tried to kill us all and take back the omlar gem; in contrast, Samber healed my arm."

   "Let us ask them where Allu's chamber is," suggested Szordrin.

   Another set of messages passed back and forth.
Is Allu's chamber to the east of here?

The tunnel to the east leads to Allu's throne room of fire and the gate.

   "Gate to what?" asked Szordrin.

   "Is it the gate for our omlar gem?" asked Leokas.

   "To the Plane of Fire?" asked Hakam.

   "That is what we have supposed before," said Leokas. "We know that the omlar gem is a portal key and has something to do with elemental fire."

   Kytharrah was, at this point, exceedingly bored and had wandered off back down the tunnel to where it had forked. He continued along the new passage. He could soon smell the strong smells of bodily waste ahead and figured that it was where the goblins releaved themselves. He returned to the others, who were still talking. They had sent one final message to the surviving hobgoblins, repeating that they would return the next day.

   "We cannot possibly take on El Sadhara if she is still here," said Szordrin.

   "I agree," said Hakam. "We can certainly eliminate her remaining skeletal guards, but if she lies beyond them, we are doomed."

   "I do not know about the rest of you, but I am going back to the ship," said Belvin. "I was nearly gored to death today, and I would like to rest with Kamil before the blue dragon finds our ship and eats him."

   "I agree," said Hakam. "Let us return, hide the spelljammer in the clouds, rest, and return in the morning. I shall pray for the power to move these boulders, and we can interrogate these survivors to learn more about what happened here."

   Everyone agreed, so they began to head back.

   "We should leave a trail of ash near wear we fought the mummies, in case anything should cross it in our absence," said Szordrin.

   "An excellent idea," Leokas replied. "I should be able to identify any tracks left as well if that happens."

   "What about the skeletons?" asked Solisar. "We defeated them, but will that truly stop them from being formed again by the same necromantic magics that brought them to undeath to begin with?"

   "You are correct," said Hakam. "An evil cleric or another mummy could easily create them again if we leave enough bones."

   "I, for one, do not want to fight the same skeletal minotaurs again," said Solisar.

   "Then we need to scatter the bones far from each other," said Hakam, "or else smash all of them to powder."

   "What if we just take all the skulls and dump them in the ocean?" suggested Szordrin.

   "Bones do not need a skull to be animated," said Hakam. "It would be better to toss the hip bones into the sea."

   "It would be faster to toss such bones over the stone wall that you made into the chamber with the bugbear zombies," suggested Solisar. "That way, if any new skeletons form, they will be attacked by the zombies."

   Over the next hour or so, the party went through the tunnels of the cavern, gathering and smashing bones. (They noticed that all of the hobgoblin skulls had been gnawed by bugbear teeth, likely eaten clean by the zombies. All of the minotaur skeletons were much older and had no teeth marks.) Once they had convinced themselves that the formation of new skeletons would be impossible, they used the ash from the fallen mummies to mark lines over the floors of several tunnels.

   At last, they returned safely to their flying ship to be greeted happily by Ilthian. She was very concerned to see the blood-stained clothes of Belvin, Leokas, and especially Hakam, but they assured her that their magics meant that they would be fully recovered by morning.

   Leokas flew the spelljammer high into the sky, where it floated two miles over the seas west of Calimshan. They took rest on their bed rolls or hammocks below deck and passed the night.


The next morning, they returned to the surface and dropped anchor again. This time, Belvin stayed behind on the spelljammer with Ilthian, having little interest in rescuing hobgoblins. Leokas was in favor of doing so only because he wanted to interrogate them further.

   During his morning prayers, Hakam had requested the power to shape and move stone again. They waited for low tide; then they got into the row boat and traveled to the sea cave opening.

   As they crunched over all the barnacles at the entrance, Hakam looked about for the presence of evil but saw no sign of any here near the entrance. "There is no point traveling through the tunnels in darkness anymore," said Hakam. "We know that the skeletons that remain will not leave the room that they guard or sound any sort of alarm."

   "I assume that we are rescuing the goblins first?" said Solisar.

   "Yes," Hakam replied.

   When they reached the first line of ash, Leokas examined it for a long time. "I am certain that nothing has passed this way since we left yesterday," he said. "We are safe, at least until we are ready to engage the undead in the eastern chamber."

   "What further information are we seeking from these hobgoblins?" asked Solisar. "Have we considered that?"

   "And what are we doing with them after we are finished with them?" asked Leokas.

   "I suppose that you will want to execute them," said Hakam, "but my thought was to release them in the desert."

   "They will be as good as dead if released into the desert," said the wood elf. "That seems a fair fate; let the gods decide."

   They arrived back at the location of the tunnel collapse.

   "We need to inform them that we are not goblins," said Solisar. "If they come out and see elves and humans, they will be like rats trapped in a corner and may attack out of fear."

   So, Ferry delivered another message.
We have returned to release you, but we are not goblinkin. We want to ask you more questions. If you come out with no weapons, we will give you food.

   Ferry returned with a single word in reply:

   Hakam used his magic to form the fallen rocks and rubble into a small tunnel, such that the hobgoblins would have to come out crawling on hands and knees. Shortly, the first hairy goblinoid head appeared, and after a few minutes, four exceptionally skinny human-sized goblins dressed in ragged clothing stood in the middle of the party. None of them spoke; instead, they looked around nervously at their "rescuers".

   After a pause, Hakam spoke. "What happened to the fifth? I thought that there were five of you."

   A hobgoblin spoke in broken Common. "Other said, 'Better die than trust elfs,' so we cut off head."

   "Fair enough," said Leokas.

   "Where food?" said a second goblin. "You said food."

   Hakam handed them each the promised rations, which they gobbled down unceremoniously in seconds.

   "It is not safe to linger here," said Hakam. "You are going to come with us back to our ship, where we have questions to ask you. Then, we will drop you off at the next port."

   As they led the way back to the cave exit, Leokas protested, "I thought that we agreed to drop them in the desert."

   "Maybe the desert is our next port," he replied.
Session: 97th Game Session - Thursday, Nov 30 2017 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
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