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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — The Rock
After "jumping" from asteroid to asteroid and stopping to adjust their heading at each one, they found themselves approaching what could only be Bral. The small city looked like one of the gods had ripped it from the earth and tossed it toward the stars, as the whole city sat atop the flattened side of a small asteroid, just as Gamalon had described it. It was a full city, complete with a lake, a forested park, a palace, plantations, an arena, and a clear docks district. All of this was easily visible from a mile away.

   Below the potato-shaped asteroid were large sail-like vanes and an armored fortress, clinging upside down. Large spelljamming craft were orbiting the Rock, presumably its navy. These included a hammerhead ship, two squid ships, and one of the fish-shaped ships.

   The docks were at the leading edge of the asteroid, and that area was clearly crowded with spelljamming ships. A hammerhead-shaped vessel had arrived from a jump just before they did, so Captain Ombert had the Frihet follow behind it. The hammerhead was a bit narrower than the Frihet, but its keel length was almost twice as long. They could watch the sailors on the hammerhead's main deck adjusting the sail on its tiny mainmast, while others on the aftcastle were tugging on ropes to turn the tailfin-like rudder at the aft of the vessel. A larger catapult then the one on the Frihet rested upon a turret on the ship's aftcastle, and they spotted a second catapult and a ballista toward the fore of the ship.

   "They be more heavily armed than us," said Indo.

   It was then that someone noticed something odd about the sailors. "Those ain't humans; they have tails."

   "Lizardfolk," said Belvin. "They are harmless."

   "In Jayce's stories, they eat people," said Brad.

   "We encountered lizardfolk in Chult," said Hakam to the sailors about who were looking nervous. "They have simple minds and can easily be 'reasoned' with."

   Colored flags were run up a pole from a tower on the docks. The hammerhead ship in front of them responded with its own colors and received instructions on where to dock. Then, the lizardfolk vessel dropped down and entered the Rock's gravity field, swooping in toward one of the leftmost wooden docks that jutted out almost 100 yards into space. To the right, on the Rock's portside, they also watched an insectoid spelljammer land on a flat open landing space.

   The "harbor" tower now signaled the Frihet, asking for an identification. Ombert had his crew respond that they were traders from Lantan on Toril. The Rock responded with a location for them to land, dock #7, on the far side of the docks from where the hammerhead had been sent.

   There was a minor jolt when the Frihet entered the gravity well of the Rock, but they were oriented nearly parallel above the Rock's gravity plane, so the jerk was not severe. Jayce began lowering them down to the level of the plane in a gentle spiral, as they had seen the lizardfolk craft do. Once they reached the plane, the ship bobbed up and down and started wobbling a bit before leveling off.

   "That felt something like hitting water," said Loreene.

   Ombert called out more commands and piloted them in to the dock, almost exactly as if the ship were floating on the ocean.

   The docks extended from a flat ledge at the edge of the asteroid. There was a steep, rocky slope rising up from the edge, and many large warehouse buildings on the top of the slope overlooked them. A large cavern entrance was in front of them in the slope, where the wooden dock reached the land, and workers were heaving cargo into and out of it.

   It was clearly "daytime" on the Rock. There was no need to use artificial lighting, as the sun provided ample light and was as large in the sky as on Toril, but the sky itself was black, not blue. No stars could be seen, but Toril was there in the sky, a beautiful blue half-moon shape.

   Ropes were tossed from the crew to workers on the docks, and their ship was moored. The sailors laid out the gangplank and an official-looking human man approached. "Request permission to board," he said, with a strange accent that none of them had ever heard before.

   "Permission granted," said Ombert, who had stepped down to the main deck. His men cleared the way politely for him, so that he would not be hidden behind his much taller crew.

   The man came across the gangplank and offered no sign of surprise at seeing a halfling captain. He even knelt down in an obvious act of courtesy to speak with Ombert at his level. "Welcome to Bral. I am Urth, one of the harbormasters. Based on how your crew are glued to the railings, I'm thinkin' that this be your first time here. I'll give ye a couple quick rules. In the Low City, unless ye want to end up in the jettison, stick to the main streets and never go anywhere alone!"

   Ombert and Urth discussed things quietly for a while, before Ombert handed him some coins and he rose to depart.

   Rinald stepped forward to stop him. "Saer, before you go, can you recommend any boarding houses for my family and I?" he asked. "There are six of us."

   Urth frowned. "Er, space is tight on the Rock. I'd check at the Red House first, off Eel Street, about halfway starboard toward Hammer Street. Ask around; anyone local will know where it is. If you come to the Green Galley and Marshall's Smithy, you've gone too far. Oh, one more thing; the place looks to be falling apart on the outside, but it's actually quite cozy and well-kept on the inside. I stayed there for a few months when I first came to Bral. Owned by a nice old gnome lady it is. Has a few rooms especially for families, and, as few families come to Bral, the larger rooms are actually more likely to be available."

   Once Urth had moved on, Ombert explained matters to the crew. "It will cost us one silver piece per ton per day — so four gold pieces, since the Frihet weighs in at 40 tons — to dock here, and we will need to pay the cargo offloading fee of six silvers per day, which includes storage in the docking caverns. Finally, we are required to use the harbor's longshoremen, and they each need to be paid two silver pieces each. Harbormaster Urth here says that he will send us eight longshoremen.

   "We will have an assigned spot in the docking caverns — I suppose that is one there," he said, pointing at the large opening in the steep slope of the asteroid. "As you can see, it's a long and steep walk up that slope to the city proper. We can rent a warehouse and its lifts, which carry our goods from the caverns to the surface; we can hire porters; or we can carry the goods ourselves. (It looks to be a hundred-foot climb.) In any case, they said that it would take about four hours to offload and inspect our cargo, and I have a stack of customs paperwork to fill out, so all of you are off duty and free to explore the city until then."

   "Remember, everyone," said Solisar. "Do not go anywhere alone, and it is illegal to start any fires!"

   The sailors excitedly began exiting the ship over the gangplank unto the dock, which bounced up and down as one on water would. One of the sailors, however, a skinny youth named Tym, was terrified of crossing over the plank.

   "What's your problem, Tym?" asked Diero. "Be a man!"

   "You climb up the jibboom all the time," said another. "What's different?"

   "If I fall off the jibboom, I hit the water, and I can swim," explained Tym. "If I fall of the plank, it's emptiness; I fall forever."

   "How are you going to fall off the gangplank?" asked Diero. "It's six-feet wide!"

   "Didn't ye hear what Solisar told us?" said Martin. "The gravy plane is like water, just invisible water. What ye think the ship be floatin' on?"

   Tym wouldn't budge, however.

   "Ye can't stay on the boat, man."

   "Guttar," ordered Niff, "toss him overboard."

   Tym shrieked like a young girl as the massive sailor did not hesitate and grabbed him, lifting him off the deck with ease. "Niff! Please! No! Wait!"

   "It be for your own good," said Niff. "You'll be fine and ye'll thank me later. Can't have a fearful sailor if we want to survive wildspace. Toss him."

   Guttar stepped onto the plank and dropped Tym off one side. The other sailors cheered and laughed as the young man fell some eighteen feet, dropping past the docks and lower than the keel of the ship before he slowed and then shot right back up, launching past the docks to several feet below the gangplank. Then he fell again and shot up again — and again and again — until now he was simply bobbing gently in empty space between the hull of the ship and the dock.

   "See, that weren't so bad!" called Niff, who then immediately ordered for the other sailors to toss him a rope and help him onto the dock.

   Before they had even grabbed the rope, Kytharrah voluntarily threw himself off the boat as well. Soon several of the sailors had tried it, and a grand time was had by all.

   Before leaving the ship, Szordrin changed into the clothing of a noble, while Solisar took time to prepare a more complicated spell that would grant him the ability to detect magical auras for the whole day.

   Then, the adventurers and Rinald's family stepped onto the dock. "Come on, Syphilis," Szordrin called back to Leokas' new wolf, who was cautiously considering the gangplank over what looked to be an abyss.

   "Her name is Sif," said Leokas. He then called her to him, and she obeyed.

   "Are you absolutely sure that you do not have a sister named Sif," asked Jayce, who still could not get over the fact that Leokas' former animal companion had been his own mother in another form.

   "I am certain," said the ranger.

   They walked — or rode on camelback — out to the flat ground at the very edge of the Rock. Turning left, they began walking toward dock #6. They were passed by eight longshoremen, sent to unload the Frihet. Half of the men were human, one was a half-orc, one was a lizardman, and another looked like an intelligent gorilla in clothing.

   Dock #6 was about 200 feet from dock #7, and they passed another cavern entrance. They noticed many large orange-feathered gulls nesting above the cave.

   "Kara-Turan architecture?" said Torm, Rinald's eldest son, pointing at a massive building above them. It was a brightly colored building with columns and with a sloped, tiled, tiered roof. The whole building sat on a raised platform supported by large wooden beams. A four-story pagoda rose from its center.

   In another 300 feet, they passed dock #5 and another cavern entrance. Shortly thereafter, they found one of the winding pathways leading up the stone slope and began climbing. Midway up they looked over to the left and saw a hexagonal stone tower, about 25 feet tall, rising out of the slope. On the flat roof of the tower was the largest ballista any of them had ever seen. It looked to be within some sort of gyroscope-like contraption.

   The path was even more crowded than the docks below, as it was a bottleneck of traffic going back and forth from the city. Most of those passing them were porters carrying cargo. The porters were mostly recognizable races, but there were many exceptions. One porter looked like a reptilian centaur with a small dragon-like head. Another looked like a gnome and a frog had had a child together. They saw a one-eyed, horned giant and another giant that looked like a stone giant with hair. (Leokas was happy that no goblinoids were among the races that they observed.) Many of the humans were Shou or Wa, ethnicities found on Toril in the great eastern continent of Kara-Tur. (A few of the adventurers remembered meeting a Shou man during their first week on the Great Glacier.) It was safe to say that no one gave Kytharrah the minotaur a second look. In fact, more people were looking at Kamil strangely than they were at Kytharrah.

   The pathway had several switchbacks but eventually took them into the city itself. At the top, a wooden signpost informed them that they were on Dock Street and that Grand Street was to the left. Directly across the cobbled stone road was another building of Kara-Turan architecture. Golden eastern dragons crouched at its cornices and two foo lions sculpted from bronze guarded its massive wooden doors. Heavily armored guards with horned helmets, crossed sword sheathes on their backs, and red masks with distorted faces stood guard. To the left of the building was a colorful archway, woven with a curled dragon motif and covered with strange Kara-Turran characters in bright colors. In the Thorass script, "Shou-Town" was written in Common.

   They turned left and walked down Dock Street toward Grand Street, which was said to lead directly through the center of the city up toward the Prince's palace. At the corner, they saw one large warehouse with an infinity symbol within a sphere standing across from a large store named Hanwo Cobblery.

   Jayce laughed. "Ha ha! Bral has a Shou shoe-mender!"

   Nargroth guffawed.

   "It is not funny to mock someone's ethnicity!" Oma protested.

   "Sorry," said the half-orc.

   Among such large establishments as the cobbler's shop and the warehouse were countless peddlers trying to sell their wares, some from make-shift booths, others from within their long, many pocketed jackets. One woman with many-colored and layered skirts lined with tiny bells tried to get Nargroth to play a card game for money, but Oma shoved her away. Miri yelled out when a giant insect-like monster walked up on eight legs and offered her jewelry with one of its two exoskeleton-covered arms. "I meant not scare thee, pleasant-smelling human maiden," it said in very formal Common in a chirping voice with sharp clicks of its mandibles, before it skittered away into the crowd.

   "Will Grand Street lead to the forest we saw on our approach?" asked Belvin.

   "I believe so," said Solisar.

   They turned onto Grand Street, which was even busier than Dock Street and began walking uphill. In 200 feet, they passed a small shrine on the left that looked older than many of the other buildings around. "The All-Father deserves your worship. The All-Father is your true father," repeated an old human priest with a dark, wide-brimmed hat, a cloak of black feathers, and an obviously fake patch over his left eye."

   "It is strange for a human to worship Annam, is it not?" asked Jayce.

   "Annam? I speak of no giant god!" protested the priest. "I speak of Odin All-Father, the High One!"

   As they passed further up the road, Jayce asked, "You do know, Hakam, that Odin is your god's daddy, right?"

   "Foolish nonsense from the Northerners of Faerûn," muttered Hakam. "Any true Calishite knows that Anachtyr has always been a god in Calimshan. He is no interloper deity. The other nations confused him with Tyr Odinsson, because the names sound similar; that Anachtyr has not corrected their foolish idea does not make it true."

   Jayce smiled but did not argue further.

   After walking almost a tenth of a mile up Grand Street, they crossed Eel Street, according to a sign there. "Here is where we leave you, adventurers," said Rinald, "to search for the boarding house that the harbormaster mentioned. I shall send word to you at the Frihet if we are successful at procuring a room. Tymora smile on your search for answers about your mentor's death, Szordrin."

   Just past Eel Street, the road opened into a triangular plaza and was joined by a road named Windlass Court. Then, the road narrowed and continued upwards, though curving slightly to port, that is, to the right. They walked for two more tenths of a mile, crossing Squid and Sailmaker Streets. On one of the corners of Sailmaker Street was the "Office of the Low Magistrate". As they passed on, just outside the doors was a heated argument between a thuggish half-orc and a lizardman, with an armed human in banded mail with a halberd trying to keep them from taking swings at each other.

   "He ssstabbed me firssst!" hissed the humanoid reptile.

   "He stab me second!" yelled back the half-orc.

   They continued on and reached Trader's Way, which, a large billboard announced, was the beginning of the Great Market.

   "We are almost to the Consortium," said Szordrin, who was nearly shaking with excitement.

   "Look behind us," said Oma.

   "At what exactly?" asked Jayce.

   "The view," said Oma. They had come a good height uphill by now, and they could see the sprawl of the crowded Low City below them.

   Nargroth turned to look as well. "There is no horizon here;" he said, "we can look back and see the very edge of this world."

   "The Consortium," said Szordrin, impatiently.

   Past a small cluster of shops and other buildings on the left, the buildings ceased, revealing a massive open area, the Great Market. The plaza contained a plethora of activity and was full of several hundred persons. Entertainers were juggling, bards were singing, clerics were preaching, beggars were asking for alms, to say nothing of all the merchants selling and customers buying.

   Not the time for shopping, they continued. Very shortly, on the right, they passed Anchor Street, then a very busy store called Gaspar's Reclamations. Then finally, they came to Wasp Street.

   "Gamalon said that it was on this road," said Szordrin.

   Gamalon's directions were correct. The third building on the left was Frada's Provisioning, as the old sage had said. The very next building had a small metal sculpture outside its doors of four interlinking rings of decreasing sizes.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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