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Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — Epilogue with the Dragon
As promised, Vashti was waiting for them with her magic carpet to ferry them up to the outside. No one made any mention of the earlier argument.

   "Where is Belvin?"

   "He is with his camel," Vashti answered, "being talked to death by the dragon."

   At the top of the sand dune, they came to the dragon and Belvin and his camel. The dragon was laying on his belly, going on and on about the weather patterns over the Shaar. Belvin didn't seem to be paying much attention, as he brushed his camel's hair.

   Sseth sat up when he saw them. "At last!" he said. "You have returned alive. I am bursting with excitement, but your sorceress here refused to share any information until all of you arrived. Come, follow me back to the ruins. I imagine you scale-less folk will desire shade, and we have much to talk about."

   The dragon was delighted when they at last handed him Shunnari's diary. He thumped his tail on the ground excitedly as he took the item with his enormous foreclaw. "How was this preserved?" They explained the magical urn. "What sort of book is it? Can one of you hold it open so I can read a bit?"

   Jayce stepped forward. "It is the diary of a... jhasina. Here, take a look." Jayce flipped open a random page and held the book out at arms length, and the dragon placed his eye closer to him than was exactly comfortable.

   "'Calim was enormous,'" Sseth read aloud. "'I knew that he was said to be large, but I was not expecting him to tower over the other djinni lords. He was at least 20, maybe 25-feet tall, with broad, muscular shoulders and a massive chest. Unlike the other lords present, (and there were nazirs, satraps, and hakkammi in the audience,) the caliph did not feel the need to designate his status with an ornate turban. His head was bald, except for a sharply cut goatee....' By Bahamut! I don't think I've ever seen a first-hand description of Calim himself before. This is amazing!" His wings flapped in excitement, almost blowing them over and throwing sand. "Oh, I'm sorry about that," he said. "How did you find this? Were the ruins well-preserved? You were gone for over twenty-four hours; Kamil and I were growing worried."

   So they began sharing the details of their adventure, and Sseth wanted to know every last detail.

   Sseth had no idea what the gangly creature was. "There are many dark aberrations and abominations in the darkness below the surface of the world," said Sseth. "I am sure it will not be the first unique monster you will find in your future travels."

   He agreed with their conclusions about the wererat. "The ruins have not been open more than six months. The poor soul probably survived by raiding caravans in the desert. Were-creatures tend to take on the outlook of their animal forms. If once a noble human, after contracting lycanthropy, he probably adapted the thieving tendencies of rats."

   In regards to Shunnari, he also agreed with their theory. "You are fortunate that she did not discover your theft of her diary. An angry ghost can be a very formidable opponent. They aren't really fully present in the Material Plane, so unless you can plane shift into the Ethereal Plane, it is almost impossible to defeat them. You likely did her a great service by freeing her spirit to travel at last to the Fugue Plane."

   They showed him the other items they found, the urn, the jar, the lantern, and the razor. The dragon was happy to add these items to his museum as well. Jayce asked the dragon if they counted as a second relic, as Sseth had agreed to let Jayce fly on his back if they brought him more than one relic. "These will suffice," the dragon said.

   After several hours, Leokas said, "Noble dragon, we had an agreement that you would find a band of hobgoblins for us."

   "Yes, yes, I have not forgotten. Here is what I propose: There is a human monastery 20 miles west by north of here, on the other side of the Trade Way. Good people of Ilmater are there. Travel to this monastery to rest, as some of you are clearly injured. From there, if you desire, some of you can travel north in safety along the Trade Way to Memnon to sell or buy goods. In the meantime, I will scout out the whole desert until I find them. When I do find them, I will send message somehow to the monastery, so if you travel to Memnon, keep at least one person behind. What shall I do with the hobgoblins when I find them?"

   "We only need one brought back alive," said Leokas.

   "Of course it will be alive," said Sseth, taken aback. "I am a good dragon; I will not harm a sentient being!"

   Remembering the reward set by Xaros, Mythlos said, "Could you bring them all back?"

   "I only have so many claws," said the dragon.

   "Four then?"

   "I generally need two of my limbs to land," said Sseth, "but I'll see what I can do."

   "The day will end soon," said Belvin. "We should leave soon if we wish to reach the safety of the Trade Way before dark."

   "How sad," said Sseth. "How I have enjoyed our conversations! But then, I have much reading to do at home now, and much flying to do as well, it seems.

   "Ah, one more thing before I depart," said Sseth. "Kamil told me that he does not like carrying the smelly heads, and that he keeps dreaming of what I am guessing are crocodiles."

   "I may have to find us a crocodile then," said Belvin, ignoring the part about the growing collection of heads.

   "You may wish to stand back," said Sseth. "Taking off can throw a lot of sand."

   So the party bid him farewell, and headed off into the west. Looking back, they saw the enormous dragon flapping its powerful wings in a cloud of dust and sand and taking to the air, his wings rippling from his shoulders to the tip of his tail as he sailed off into the horizon, his new relics dangling from his claws.
Session: 12th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 02 2013 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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