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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — Mount Abbalayat
~ 4th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, Morning
Marching Mountains, Calimshan


"You played your yarting for the queen of Tethyr?" asked Gren.

   "No, no," Jayce replied, "she purchased a magical music box that plays Jimena's and my music whenever she desires it. I am told that it helps her three children fall asleep at night."

   "How much did you make from that deal?" asked Martin.

   "It is not polite to ask a musician how much money he has made from his sales," said the bard.

   Under spelljamming power drained from the young wizardess Oma, they sailed the early morning skies over the northernmost lands of Calimshan. The previous night, the Belvin had received a second message by magic bird — this time caught by Oma's magic cat, Panther. In it, Yashiera described a set of directions to follow to reach the fabled Mount Abbalayat, hidden within a cloud covered secret valley in the Marching Mountains. Despite Szordrin's disbelief that the messages were really coming from Yashiera and Hakam's suggestion that they might be flying into another trap, Belvin convinced them that the messages were really from Yashiera.

   Mythlos had remained behind in Darromar. Belvin and Leokas were at the port railing, gazing down at the Calim River below them.

   "The last time we were here, we were traveling the opposite direction down this river," said Belvin, "and Vashti was with us." He gave a knowing look toward his friend of nearly a year.

   Leokas ignored the look. "When the gnolls attacked, we thought that that hyena had killed her," said Leokas, "but that was before we learned that she did not need to breathe air. She was so fearless. I recall what she yelled as the animal charged at her: 'Come on, mutt, bring it!' Moments later, they both tumbled over the embankment."

   "I was trancing in the water that night," said Belvin. "My first image was off her falling backward into the current. I then slipped back into the water myself. I never told anyone at the time, but she never even used her jambiya. She told me that she found it easier to drown a hyena than a man."

   "Those details would have been useful to know at the time."

   Belvin shrugged. "We learned what she was eventually."

   "She would still be with us if not for Hakam," said Leokas.

   Hakam overheard his name. "I tried to arrest her for her own protection," said Hakam.

   "What?" exclaimed Belvin.

   "At least in part," said Hakam.

   Leokas pointed. "The river bends, as Yashiera described. I will notify Ombert."

   The halfling captain called out orders to his sailors and the sails were adjusted to turn the ship to a new heading, north into the mountains. From this point, Yashiera had directed them to "keep the tallest mountain ahead of" them "slightly to the left" while aiming for a saddle point. With Oma at the helm, they would be able to reach the saddle in just over a half hour.

   Snow was still on the mountains ahead of them. Oma kept the sailing vessel at an elevation of about one mile. The saddle seemed to be directly ahead at that elevation, while the tallest mountain that they could see in this region was probably a couple thousand feet taller than that. Until their highest points, the hills and mountains were covered in green trees.

   "The mountains of your homeland are beautiful," Miri, Rinald's daughter, said to Hakam. Her husband was snuggled up beside her at the starboard railing. Hakam, in contrast, stood in the middle of the deck.

   He nodded. "Many of my people summer in these hills during the hotter months," he explained.

   "For my part," said Stedd, Miri's husband, "the cooler air at this elevation is welcome, even though the spring is yet young."

   They could soon make out a second peak, about 1100 feet shorter than the tallest one and north of it Leokas pointed it out to Ombert, and the halfling captain called for a slight course correction. Oma decelerated.

   The saddle point was covered in trees, which made it difficult to find a safe place to hover, so that the party could be lowered in the rowboat to the ground, but eventually, they spotted a flat rock and were lowered safely. They instructed Oma to take the spelljammer as high into the sky as she could, to be safe from any chance encounters with raging dragons. They would contact the ship by sending stone when they were ready to be picked up.

   "Now we have to find this plinth," said Leokas to the rest of the group, which now included Belvin, Leokas, Jayce, Hakam, Szordrin, Solisar, and Kytharrah.

   "Where do we start looking for this plinth," said Jayce.

   "There is no need to search for it," said Hakam. "Anachtyr will reveal its location to me."

   This was indeed the case. After muttering a short prayer, Hakam grew convinced of what direction they should head, and they forced their way through the thick trees and underbrush, until they came upon "an ancient plinth" as the druidess's message had described. The heavy stone base supported an old vase of stone.

   "What now?" asked Szrodrin. "What did your lover say to do next?"

   "She is not my lover," said Belvin. "She is the mother of my daughter, and she said to fill it with water and go hide."

   "Go hide?" said Szordrin.

   "Game?" asked Kytharrah.

   "Yes, a hiding game," said Solisar.

   The minotaur turned to dart off.

   "The game is not started yet, Lunk," said Szordrin.

   "I do not see any tracks around, beyond those of small fauna," Leokas reported. "If anyone frequents this place, it has not been often."

   "If we need to hide," said Szordrin, "I can create an extradimensional space for us."

   "We fill it and then remain out of sight," explained Belvin. "Someone will find us. There is no need for magic."

   "Fair enough," said Szordrin. "I suppose that there is no reason not to just follow the directions that we were given exactly."

   "It is unusual to hear such words from your mouth," said Hakam, "but I agree. I shall create some water with my magic."

   That done, they headed a short distance downhill through the trees. The cover was so thick that they did not need to go very far. They sat on the ground or fallen logs and waited.

   About an hour or two later, there was no doubt that someone was approaching. Kytharrah noticed the scent first. Then, twigs snapped as a bulky man stepped shortly into view. The man looked like an albino Calishite. He was bald, but had a goatee of a strange copper color. He was dressed in a hooded jellaba and wore thick woolen gloves. He was extremely broad-shouldered, and his bare forearms were rippling with muscles.

   Kytharrah thought that there was something funny about the man's eyes and stared at him intently.

   Hakam elbowed the minotaur. "Stop staring like a fool!"

   "I am Sarak," he said in a monotone voice. "You shall follow me."

   "Lead on," said Belvin.

   Sarak turned to go. They got up and followed.

   The guide led them up a hard to follow path between the two peaks, a very strenuous climb. At this new saddle, they could see down into a hidden rock-strewn bowl about six miles across. It was much colder up here, some thousand feet higher than the lower saddle, and they could see ice in the hidden valley below. Rising out of the valley center like a knife was a solitary mountain, what could only by Mount Abbalayat. Its peak was surround by clouds, which were being driven by powerful downdrafts.

   Sarak led them away from this view and their goal, which seemed to be going backwards. He was now leading them clockwise around the peak of the tallest mountain along a precarious ledge. They were shivering from the cold, which made it even more dangerous to follow this trail, but Sarak did not appear cold or in any way unstable in his steps.

   Eventually, a cave opened up in a massive crack in a cliff on the eastern side of the peak. The albino led them inside, where they felt instant warmth away from the winds.

   Here, there were runes carved into the tall stone walls of this passage into the mountain.

   "These are Auran letters," said Solisar, "but the words are not easy for me to decipher. This must be Old Alzhedo, most likely spells of protection. There is powerful magic in this passage."

   Sarak snorted gruffly. "The Tunnel of Uladvir," he said without any further explanation.

   The "tunnel" was clearly leading them under the summit and directly through the mountain. Up ahead, they could see sunlight at the other end.

   When the cave passage ended, they stood at the start of a long and narrow bridge of marble over the valley. Looking down, they perceived that they were now far above the clouds that had earlier shrouded the mountain in the center of the valley. The other side of the bridge joined thus with Mount Abbalyat, and on the other side of the bridge, they spotted a road leading up a gentle slope to that mountain's summit. The bridge either had not been here before or was invisible from their earlier view of Mount Abbalayat from the saddle.

   They no longer felt any wind. Kytharrah had already stepped ahead of Sarak unto the narrow marble path. The minotaur had an innate sense of passageways and could smell that the bridge was not just a bridge; it was a tunnel. He pounded the walls that most of them had not yet noticed. A thick, curved glass — or glass-like — tube surrounded the marble floor of the bridge on all sides.

   "Follow," said Sarak. "Ul'sahab, the City of Seers, awaits you."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Thursday, Jun 14 2018 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
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