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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 7 — The Dome
"'...None of them were sailors, and the wild elf was not with them, so I can only imagine that there are even more. I must rise and figure out how to deal with them. Samber.'

   "That's the last page in 'writing language'," said Ilthian. "I cannot read the other page."

   "But you speak Common," said Szordrin.

   Ilthian once again looked confused. Szordrin took the journal back from her and read the last page to the rest.

   "Is Samber... the Maker's name?" Ilthian asked.

   The others nodded.

   "He was talking about me! I am the only Forokell who makes new kinds of clothes. Why did he call me a number? What is a Lillikell? I was supposed to be a Lillikell? What does that even mean? Did the Maker make a mistake with me?"

   "Don't worry about it now, Ilthian," said Cassiera. "We'll figure it out. You are not a mistake."

   "You all followed the Maker here from another land? It was not an accident that you crashed on our island?"

   They nodded again, except for Cassiera, who shook her head. "I did not come here with them, or rather, I did not come with them intentionally. I do not know their plans either; I came along for the challenge of facing a fiend. I am learning just as much as you, Ilthian." She turned to the others. "And I think it's time you filled me in on what is going on. I fought with you against the hobgoblins and helped you on your quest to slay the devil. Why have you really come to this island?"

   So, the others finally explained to her the various tales of their adventures that had led them to this mysterious place. Cassiera interrupted a few times to ask clarifying questions, but for the most part took it all in.

   "What are you going to do to the Maker?" asked Ilthian, who had thus far just been listening, trying to make sense of a world beyond any she had ever experienced.

   No one responded.

   "I do not think we have decided that yet," said Mythlos.

   "But undoubtedly we must do something," said Leokas. "The gods have sent us here for a purpose. He must be stopped."

   "My arm is not growing back any faster, if we just sit here," said Belvin.

~~~~


They examined the room more closely. Szordrin tried to pick the lock on the door and failed, and their magic revealed that it was magically locked. Leokas passed through the portal without incident. He searched the ground thoroughly around the portal opening on the other side and then returned. "I can find no trace of the osyluth beyond the portal among the leaves and grass. Samber's boot prints are there. I don't think the bone devil ever went through the portal."

   "Indeed, it fooled him and then went to explore the caves through the crack in the wall," said Hakam. "Had we not slain it, it would have found a way to the surface and butchered the people there."

   "I never did check that half-domed room for signs of the devil," said Leokas. He crawled back down into the aqueduct and headed back. He returned to the others several minutes later. "Yes, the devil left tracks there. Samber was indeed fooled."

   "So we have time to explore his palace then," said Mythlos.

   "I believe we must," said Hakam. "The gods have willed it. They've given us this opportunity and responsibility."

   "And there may be treasure," said Mythlos.

   "The aqueduct does lead further past the pipe we climbed," said Cassiera. "If this door will not open, perhaps the water will lead us elsewhere we can access."

   Leokas hesitated. "The portal leads to my home. I have missed it greatly. The smells brought back so many years of memories...."

   "We will come back to it," said Hakam. "The portal appears stable."

   "We would also need to retrieve Stormshadow," said Leokas. "Yes, it makes the most sense to explore further while we know Samber is away. Come."

~~~~


They explored the aqueduct system fully. After continuing 100 feet further, another branch connected to their path from the right at a right angle. They followed this new branch against the flow perhaps 100 yards before it turned sharply to the right again. After another 100 feet. They came to a T in the waterway. The water was flowing from the left, diverging to continue back past them and also to their right. They continued to walk against the flow, heading what should have been roughly west. All along the waterway, there were various pipes extending down into the water, but there were no more cave-ins or openings for them to climb.

   "We must be underneath his palace," said Hakam. "This is how he obtains fresh water."

   Suddenly, they reached a point where the narrow tunnel opened up. They were looking again into a massive open cavern. The narrow aqueduct continued in a bridge over the chasm. Mythlos' sword began flickering.

   "We've reached the antimagic field again," he spoke back to the others, "and the water flows across a bridge from another part of the cave. This may be a way back, if it comes to it."

   "Let's not proceed any further this way for now," said Hakam.

   They backed up and went back to the T, this time following the water as it continued east. They came a pile of rubble that blocked further passage.

   "We are back where we started," said Szordrin. "That's the rubble from the wall. We've gone in a complete circle, or rectangle, now."

   The others agreed with his assessment. "That leaves us with following the water as it flowed from that other T." They returned the way they came, turning back south and then east again, and finally making a final right to head south, following the flow of the water. Up ahead, they could see light at the end of the tunnel.

   They hurried forward and soon came out into a large pool. At first, it appeared that they had come back outside, but they soon realized that they were far from it. They were within a massive dome, at least a couple hundred yards in diameter. Some strange magic covered the surface of the dome, such that a ball of simulated light mimicked the sun.

   The pool in which they stood was deep enough for wading. It was rectangular in shape and man-made. Marble steps led out of it on one of the long sides. They hurried up the steps and out, because the water was cold.

   "Maybe we'll have time to bathe later," said Ilthian excitedly. "The cave was so dirty!"

   On the southwest corner of the pool the water continued flowing in a small stream to the south. There was a wooden footbridge crossing over it. Fifty feet beyond the crossing, they could hear the water tumbling off a cliff in a cascade.

   To the east, behind them, was a hillside, leading up to the edge of the dome itself. To the west, they looked upon a grassy field with a marble gazebo in the center. Beyond that was a grove of fruit trees. To the north was a flower garden at the foot of a hill, and the hill ran up to a large castle wall about a hundred yards wide and four stories tall.

   "There is a whole estate down here!" exclaimed Szordrin.

   They all began spreading out to examine what was interesting to them.

   Mythlos and Ilthian walked over to the flowers, which were roses of a wide variety of colors. "They remind me of Jareth," she said.

   "Something moved in the grove of trees," said Szordrin. He cautiously approached, but stepped on a twig. A creature dropped down from one of the branches to investigate the sound. Szordrin found himself staring at a tiny creature, about the size of a cat, but nothing like a cat in shape. It had three legs, arranged like a stool. Between two of its legs was a small head on a very short neck. It had a long snout, something like an anteater's, and its delicate tongue shot out like a snake tasting the air. It was covered in a mixture of feathers and fur in a flashy display of colors from violets to reds. Strangest of all, however, was the set of three floppy wings drooping over its back from the center. Convinced that Szordrin was harmless, the little creature raised its wings. They became rigid and then began to spin rapidly. The animal — if it could be called that — hovered off the ground and disappeared in the trees.

   "Did you see that?" Szordrin asked Leokas.

   "See what?"

   "The oddest creature I've ever seen."

   "No, but these pears look delightful." The elf plucked one from a branch and took a bite. "They taste wonderful too."

   Hakam had walked to the edge of the cliff to the south, crossing over the footbridge. The water poured over in a steep waterfall into a body of water below that filled the southern third of the dome. A stone set of steps carved into the cliff-side led down to a stone dock. At the dock, a single-masted ship was moored. Wooden planks led from the dock to the ship, and two guards in full plate armor of black metal stood guard before each. There was no visible way for the ship to leave the confines of the dome in which it floated.

   Hakam walked back to the others. Belvin was pointing up at the castle. Guards in full suits of black armor guarded the main gate and stood atop the four towers. "They are the same as the pilot of Samber's vessel," said Belvin.

   "I think you'll also find Samber's vessel docked over that ledge," said Hakam.

   "We should speak with the guards," said Mythlos.

   "We could send Ilthian up to talk to them," said Hakam.

   "Hakam!" Cassiera protested.

   "I did not mean only her!" he replied.

   They all headed up the hill and stood before the gate. The guards were armed with black swords and bore black shields. They stood motionless. One could not see any eyes behind the T-shaped visors of the helmets.

   "Well met!" said Hakam, trying to mimic the same tone that Jayce would have used.

   The visors on the guards' helmets lit up with a violet glow, and they all heard a low hum. A few of the adventurers braced themselves for some sort of magic attack, but none came.

   "We have been sent by the Maker," Hakam lied. "Please grant us passage."

   The two guards spoke simultaneously and with the same voice. "We cannot permit anyone to pass except the Maker. You are not the Maker."

   "It is true that he has sent us," Szordrin insisted, holding up the journal for the guards to see. "See here; his journal was written to us. He wants us to learn about his work."

   "We cannot read," said the guards together, "to confirm or reject your claims. Even if we could, we cannot permit anyone to pass except the Maker. You are not the Maker."

   The adventurers whispered amongst themselves. "Do you think Ilthian is permitted to pass, since she is one of the Maker's creations."

   "I can try," she said. "Good sirs, I belong to the Maker. I belong in his castle. Please, permit me to pass."

   "We cannot permit anyone to pass except the Maker. You are not the Maker."

   "This is not going to work," said Hakam.

   "Belvin, can you summon our satyr friend over the wall?" asked Leokas.

   "Krynn? Yes, yes, I can do that."

   Belvin completed the summons, and they heard a voice come from the top of the wall. "Hey! I'm in a castle! Check it out!" Then the guards on two of the towers turned. Purple beams of energy shot from their helmets, and no one heard another sound from Krynn.

   "That was so quick, he probably won't be certain he was even summoned."

   They retreated from the guards and congregated in the gazebo.

   "What now?"

   "I want to get inside that castle," said Hakam.

   "That hardly seems lawful of you," said Belvin.

   "I think the gods instructions to us trump any other laws in this case."

   "So you are saying that the gods can change laws on a whim?"

   "Your god has sent you to this island. Surely, Thard Harr intends for you to enter that castle!"

   "Or maybe he just sent me to this island and nothing beyond that," said Belvin. "I have followed my gods instructions thus far. Until he gives me further instructions, Kamil and I just want to get my arm back."

   "We could just wait here until Samber returns or until we think of something," said Leokas. "Underneath this magic dome is certainly more pleasant than back in the cave."

   "Yes," said Mythlos. "It would also be good to gain our spells back."

   "Is it safe here?" asked Szordrin. "What if there are dangerous animals deeper in that grove?"

   "I'm far more concerned about the constructs guarding the gate than any animals," said Leokas, "especially if they are as bizarre as you mention, and the guards don't seem to do anything unless you actively try to cross their path."

   "Ilthian," said Hakam.

   "Yes!" she answered.

   "Our friend Jayce told us that you once visited the forbidden forest and saw strange animals. What did you see?"

   "I saw a sheep, but I think it was one of ours that had run away. I saw those animals you called 'deer', like the hop-gobbins kept for food and clothes. And I saw colorful, round animals with long noses and three spinning wings."

   "Like what I saw," said Szordrin.

   "...And there were other goat-sized animals... like that!" she said and pointed. A ball of fur rolled from behind some trees and then passed behind others. "It curls itself into a ball and rolls and stops itself with its two feet and its tail."

   "And you and Szordrin never saw such things when you visited the forest?" Hakam said to Leokas.

   "Hey! We came clean about that."

   "Speaking of animals," said Mythlos, "look!" he pointed toward the pool. Stormshadow stood at the top of the marble steps and shook the water from her fur.

   "She finally overcame her fear?"

   "I suppose so," said Leokas. He got up and went over to her. She wagged her tail and seemed to behave like always.

~~~~

They rested within the dome and around the gazebo. The simulated sun apparently moved across the artificial sky, and it now felt like dusk.

   Hakam had examined the borders of the castle. Three of its walls were stone, and the fourth was simply the surface of the dome.

   Mythlos, Leokas, and Cassiera had re-entered the water system and headed to the where the water crossed the chasm. They crawled on hands and knees in the cold water all the way across to where the water flowed from the wall of the massive cave chamber. Cassiera crawled into the crack in the wall from which the water flowed on her side, because the opening was so tight. She yelled at them to pull her back out.

   "I could fit through as a serpent," she said, but there is no way my human form could fit through, let alone any of yours."

   They returned to the others. It began to grow dark, and artificial stars and a moon magically appeared on the inner surface of the dome. There were four benches in the gazebo; these were occupied by Szordrin, Hakam, Cassiera, and Ilthian.

   "I have never slept outside before," said Ilthian.

   "This does not really count as outside," said Leokas.

   Mythlos sat cross-legged in the middle of the gazebo floor and tranced, while Belvin leaned against Kamil on the grass. Leokas stayed up for the first watch of the night.

   Near midnight, he saw motion at the gate of the castle with his sensitive elven eyes. The two guards stepped to the side, the gates swung open, and a cloaked figure stepped out.

   Leokas darted behind one of the columns of the gazebo and shouted to the others. "Wake up! It is Samber!"
Session: 60th Game Session - Monday, Oct 19 2015 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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