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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — The Interlink Consortium of Bral
"Remember, Szordrin," said Jayce, "if you need to do any bluffing in here, I am your man."

   Szordrin cast several spells upon himself, and then they all stepped up to the entrance. On the door was a placard that read:
The Interlink Consortium of Bral
Helping You Make Quality Interplanar Connections For 49 Years
The Flagship Store
Store Hours
0:00 to 0:00 daily

   The nine adventurers pushed open the door and stepped inside. Two armed guards, a half-elf man on the left and a Shou woman on the right, stood silently to the side of the small foyer.

   Szordrin could magically hear the half-elf practicing a conversation in his head. "Yu Yan, what are you doing after our watch? I do not know about you, but I could use a glass of wine. Would you be interested in stopping at the Raised Cup?" Oh, but she probably does not drink. I can just say that they also have good food. No, she is probably on a special diet. Maybe Starboard Park? No, too obviously romantic. For her part, the Shou woman was meditating and running through her martial arts exercise routine in her mind.

   Here in the foyer, there was an inner door and another placard.
Dear Customers:
Here at the Interlink Consortium, we believe that the multiverse has much to offer, and our special line of products will allow you to enjoy its delights, but we also know that interplanar travel comes with its risks. Thus we believe that no purchase should be made without careful time and consideration — like buying a new horse, you should be able to try out the product, and an expert should be available to answer all of your questions.
For this reason, we want your time on this visit to be an experience, not just a shopping trip. Feel free to explore our showroom, and if at any time you have a question, simply toss one of the coins in the basket below to the ground, and a knowledgeable representative will be with you shortly.
Welcome!

   The "coins" in the basket were simple round tokens, seemingly made of wood. Carved on one side was the Interlink Consortium logo; on the other was written, "Help is on its way." Solisar could see that the wooden tokens were enchanted. Szordrin took one and opened the door.

   They entered a spacious and open warehouse room. Four more guards stood by, one in each corner, but no further employees could be seen. (Hakam was relieved to note that none of the guards had a chaotic aura.) Placed around the showroom were nine portals. Most of them were unique in shape and style. Some looked like archways; some were platforms. Hanging from the ceiling above each portal was a wooden sign. From left to right around the room, the hanging signs read in large letters: "Our History," "Tuning Forks," "Personal Devices," "Communicators," "Portal Accessories," "Portal Repair," "Planar Guides," "Raw Materials," and "Research & Development". Beside each portal stood a smaller sign. A single banner hanging in the very center of the room read, "All portals in this showroom available for purchase and delivery. Inquire with a representative for pricing."

   The first thing that most of them noticed was the portal under the "Personal Devices" banner; it looked like one of the portals that Samber had purchased, which they had inadvertently helped deliver to him in Chult. Jayce headed toward it. Szordrin walked toward "Portal Accessories", but first, the disguised wizard turned toward Solisar and said loudly enough for the guards to have heard, "My royal historian, go investigate the History portal."

   Solisar rolled his eyes at Szordrin's comment but obeyed. Belvin followed him. The others continued to look around the room. Kytharrah approached the portal underneath the "Tuning Forks" sign, which looked much like a pool or bath. He could see the blurry image of a room in the mostly still waters. He put his large hand in the water and was fascinated to no longer be able to see it. Then he noticed that his fur did not feel at all wet. He began experimenting with placing other body parts into the "water". Then he saw a knob and turned it. The water responded by changing from clear to orange. He turned it again, and it turned green.

   The portal under the "Our History" banner was a simple archway of black stone. The portal was already active; Solisar and Belvin could see a small room through it on the other side. (When they stepped around to the far side of the archway, they saw only the showroom room in which they were standing.) Solisar read the sign beside the portal aloud to Belvin.
Our original, two-way, always-active portal design.

   Nargroth, Oma, and Leokas joined the two elves, and the five of them stepped through the archway to find themselves in a small museum of sorts. Various items were on display in glass cases, and placards explained the history of the company in fancy calligraphy. The four began with the first sign.
How It All Started

The Interlink Consortium is a company founded on the power of love, a power that links all of the planes and all of the crystal spheres, a power that still drives us to put care into all of our products....

Belvin audibly gagged, and he and Leokas turned away to look at other things. The other three read every word.

   In summary, the history described how the company was founded almost 50 years ago by the son of a rich "noble", (in truth, most likely a former space pirate, though this detail was inferred by the readers,) who became an explorer. His life was supposedly changed forever when he accidentally discovered an elemental vortex from the Elemental Plane of Air to the Feywild. Lost in the strange twilight of that world, he gazed upon a fey creature and fell instantly in love with her, so the story said. He pursued her for days, until he stumbled into a pool that was actually a portal back to the Material Plane. He managed to find a way back to Bral, but he could no longer sleep, so great was his desire to gaze upon the fey maiden again. A man of no magical talent at all, he hired wizards to provide him a way of locating her again and began selling items that they made to fund his journeys back to the Plane of Faerie and to other planes.

   The founder soon "linked" his company to other magic shops on Bral and then to those of wizards from other worlds and crystal spheres. Inventors whose products were sold by the Consortium agreed not to sell them through other vendors. In exchange, these products were spread to other worlds and spheres. The company started out by selling simple tuning forks; cross-planar communication devices, such as sending stones; and locators, before expanding to portals and their apparatus and ultimately to even providing guide services and commission work.

   Belvin was looking at some of the items behind a glass case. There was a strand of golden hair, supposedly dropped by the "fey creature" and a silver leaf with golden vanes. "This leaf is not from Toril," said Belvin, "but I recognize it from my visions. Leokas, do you know this leaf?"

   The ranger, too, had never seen it in any forest of Toril.

   Meanwhile, Katharrah, after inserting his hoof, hand, and nose into the "water" of the pool-like portal and after changing the "waters" to every color of the rainbow, took a running leap into its center. There was no splash. Instead, he felt a strange sensation of falling upward, as he found himself shooting out of a similar pool in another room with the same momentum and landing, dry, on the floor with a thud. The thud caused a strange cacophony of barely audible ringing sounds from all around him. Hanging on all four walls of this place were tiny forks. Spaced every yard or so was also a short, narrow column of stone.

   He picked up one that was particularly shiny and whacked it against the nearest stone column. It gave a crisp clear note. "Pretty!" said the minotaur. He, of course, began sampling all of the forks, though he at least had the sense not to ring one of glass ones, as it looked too delicate.

   Hakam appeared, stepping out of the pool in the center of the room and looking slightly confused, as he had been descending into the pool one moment earlier and now seemed to be ascending instead. His ears were then in pain from the atonal racket that Kytharrah was making.

   "Minotaur! Stop that! Put those back."

   It took some effort to return the forks to their proper spots, as Hakam was not an expert in recognizing the difference between a fork made of zinc versus one made of nickel. He took mental note of the prices of each fork. They ranged in price from only a copper piece for a fork of quartz to a full ten platinum pieces for a fork of adamantine. Every pitch of fork was available, including all sharps and flats of the musical scale.

   Jayce had read the sign next to the circular gate below the "Personal Devices" portal.
Our popular keyed, one-way portal provides extra security. As a demonstration, we provide a sampling of objects that you might chose to make into a key for such a portal. Be sure to take one before passing through the portal. Please return the key to the basket upon returning to the main showroom!

Beside the sign was a small table with a basket. The basket included such small items as a stone, a coin, an actual key, and a ring. There were about ten items in all. He took one and stepped underneath the rounded arch and vanished.

   Szordrin had read the sign underneath the "Portal Accessories" banner.
Our "mirror" portal design, favored by those travelers who wish either their portal to be a work of art or to hide it among everyday furnishings. To activate this demonstration portal, speak the magic words, "We love our customers."

Szordrin looked at the ornate, wooden-framed mirror, and said, "We love our customers." His reflection was immediately replaced by the image of another room. He stepped through. This new room did not have any merchandise on display; instead, scrolls on the wall described various modifications to portals and diagrams of portal attachments and paraphernalia, from portal keys to portal security devices.

   One diagram and its description immediately caught Szordrin's eye.
Galormansko's Sequencer Apparatus
Invented by Galormansko, from the world of Oerth, the same world as the famous mage Mordenkainen. This apparatus is embedded in the frame of a portal. When the portal is activated, it creates a temporary portal at the destination of the main portal, allowing one to sequence portal jumps.

   "Samber ordered one of these," spoke Szordrin to himself. Knowing that the duration of his mind-reading magic was ticking away, he took the wooden token that he had taken from the foyer and tossed it to the ground. When it hit the floor, it grew to a disk of about a yard in diameter and a human man appeared to rise quickly out of it.

   "How may I help you, saer?" said the man, showing an extremely large fake smile. This man dresses very strangely, he thought. He must be an off-worlder. Maybe I will make my commission today!

   "I am a representative from Guallidurth in the Underdark of Toril below us," said Szordrin. "Among other things, the Mistress Mother has sent me to investigate the possibility of beginning a spice trade between her city and those of other worlds." As he said this, he held up a small pouch of spices from Calimport. "Is this something that your company can help us with?"

   The man took a whiff. "I do not know the smell, but it is indeed pleasant." He maintained his display of white teeth. Drow! Almost as terrifying as the neogi, he thought. Then he added, "If you are asking if we would have dealings with a race that is... erm... disliked by many others, I assure you that here at the Interlink Consortium, we are a neutral party and have respect for all of our customers. We ask no questions; we simply offer you the best products."

   "Can you tell me about this product here? How would it help the Matron Mother sell to, say, the City of Brass?"

   "Oh, you would not need a Galormansko's sequencer to establish a permanent portal link to the City of Brass; any of our simple portals can do that. No, the sequencer is only needed when you would otherwise have to establish, well, a sequence of portals to reach a destination. The Plane of Fire only has a single layer. As I am sure that you know, most of the Outer Planes have multiple layers and the usual magics available to planar travelers can access only the so-called 'first' layers, as these are the only layers that border the Astral Plane. To reach the Ninth Hell, for example — though why anyone would want to do this is beyond me — one would have to establish portals between each of the other eight layers first." I wonder if the drow do want to visit Nessus. Gods help us! "However, if one owns one of our amazing sequencers, the links need only be established one time, when the portal is established. After that, rather than having to walk through a series of nine portals, one would only need to walk through a single portal and instantly arrive at the lowest layer. Because of the dangers of connecting to deeper layers of dangerous planes, we strongly urge that our customers also purchase significant security measures for a portal that uses a sequencer."

   Just then, Kytharrah popped into existence in the room, looking like he had just contorted his body to squeeze through a tiny place.

   Well, that is a shaggy monster! How did he fit through the mirror?

   "What can you also tell me about guides?" asked Szordrin. "I see that you also sell guide services."

   "Indeed we do," said the sales representative with another too-large smile. "Many of our customers have never visited the planes before. We have a team of superbly skilled guides, all of whom are experts in many planes. Our guides can also assist in making the initial connections required for establishing portal linkages, or they can be hired instead for making deliveries to planar locations."

   "Can a guide take me to my family?" asked Kytharrah.

   It talks? "Where is your home, young saer? Is it another plane?" I hope it is young and I did not just offend it! It could rip my head off.

   Kytharrah shrugged.

   Szordrin whispered to the representative. "Do not mind our minotaur bodyguard; his parents are no longer among the living. He has no home."

   Nevertheless, the salesman continued, "Well, if your home happens to be another plane, and if you were taken from your home through interplanar travel, we might have just the thing you need. Come with me."

   The man walked to a mirror on the opposite wall, excitedly said, "We love our customers!" and stepped through. Szordrin waited for the minotaur to twist sideways and stuff himself forcefully into the narrow space. Szordrin took the opportunity to remove a small magic pearl, which he held. Arcane symbols flashed before his mind's eye. He then recast his spell to read minds, before following through the magic mirror.

   Back in the main showroom, Szordrin saw Nargroth and Oma step onto a portal that looked like a dais. They each said, "Communicator Showroom, please," and disappeared.

   The salesman, however, led them to the circular gate made of black metal. "Make sure that you take a portal key from the basket," he said, before walking through and vanishing. Tiefling and minotaur each took a token from the basket and followed.

   They found Solisar in the room, perusing the many items for sale on the shelves. There were rings, rods, staffs, and a miscellany of other objects, all small enough to be carried on one's person.

   The man showed them a rod of dark metal hanging on the wall. "We call this a rod of retracing," he said. "If you speak the name of any of your lost family members, it will lock on to the residual threads left in the Astral Plane as they last passed through it. Then, if you have other means of shifting planes by magic, it will serve the same function as a tuning fork and focus the spell such that you will be taken to the last plane to or from which that person traveled from or to your current location." The man turned to smile at Kytharrah but found that the minotaur had already lost interest and was instead examining a large, round piece of black cloth that seemed to be hole into nothing. Once again, Kytharrah began inserting various appendages into it.

   "Our beast has a short attention span," said Szordrin. "I however am quite interested in this item." Szordrin noticed that the rod, like many other items in this room, had the Interlink Consortium logo engraved on it, but beyond that, he thought it looked extremely similar to the fragment he carried with him.... "This looks like the rod that my drow friend gave me." Then he turned to Solisar and said with a wink. "Slave, go get Walker immediately."

   If the man had any idea of who Walker actually was, his thoughts gave no such indication; rather, he was concerned that Kytharrah might break something.

   Solisar understood and ceased examining a magic staff to go retrieve Jayce.

   "This Walker is the one who told us about the Interlink Consortium," explained Szordrin, "and gave the Mistress Mother and I the idea to visit your store in the first place."

   Jayce and Solisar appeared suddenly again in the room, except that Jayce had pointed ears, nearly jet black skin, and white hair. The salesman expressed thoughts of fear.

   "Master, perhaps you should show this worker the rod fragment," suggested Solisar.

   Szordrin removed the metal fragment from a pouch on his belt and handed it to the man.

   "Yes, this is indeed similar, but it is not the same. See, here, this curve does not match the current design. I believe that this is one of our recalled models."

   "Recalled?" asked Jayce.

   "For what?" asked Szordrin.

   "It was found to be more fragile, if I recall the story. It was sold before I started working here, but I heard about it. I think they tended to explode in the presence of some other powerful energy magics. Thankfully, this only happened after the item had been on sale for a few months."

   "Exploding magic items! This does not put your company in a good light," said Szordrin. "The drow expect quality."

   "Of course, we did everything in our power to replace the items or offer refunds, provided one has a receipt, of course. We have a lifetime warranty on all magic items and portals sold through the Consortium."

   Suddenly, Jayce coughed and sounded like he was choking. However, Solisar was quite certain that he heard the disguised bard mutter a series of arcane words in Draconic.

   "Forgive me; I inhaled my pipe too deeply," said Jayce. "The mention of the rod — it is bringing back powerful emotions for me." He looked truly distraught.

   The salesman looked confused and for once did not have a smile.

   "I purchased one of these rods from Bral perhaps two years ago," said Jayce. "My lover, a powerful priestess of Lolth, who had given me my freedom as a gift of her true love for me, was captured by a demon summoned from Abyss as part of the schemes of a rival House. May Lolth curse them all and strangle them in her webs."

   While Solisar and Szordrin knew for a fact that Jayce was not a drow, they felt a powerful urge to believe every word he said. It was as if their deepest self wanted his story to be true.

   "I purchased the rod, because I was told that I could pursue the demon, whose name I discerned through blood sacrifice and divination, to its home in the Abyss. Using the rod, I did so. I found her. I freed her, and as I passionately kissed her in an oh so brief joy, the demon returned. I battled him with my magic sword of ice and would have had the day, but he struck me with a stream of fire. While I emerged unscathed, because of my powerful protective incantations, the rod shattered. The demon laughed, grabbed my mistress, and plane shifted away with her again, leaving me to wander for over a year in the Abyss before I could find a tuning rod that could get me home. Do you understand the horrors of the Abyss that I had to endure to survive? Your faulty rod nearly cost me my life and it cost me my lover!"

   "I am so terribly sorry, saer!" said the man, who even knelt down in respect. "I assure you that we will do everything in our power to make this right and give you a replacement rod that will not fail you and will allow you to track down this dreaded outsider again. However, I am a simple sales representative; you would have to speak with my manager. I am certain that he will know what to do to make this right.

   "Unfortunately, Martho is not here presently. As the Consortium is open all 24 hours of the Rock's rotation, he just ended his shift. I can tell you, however, that he always visits the same tavern after work. It is a place called the Port Hole. I can give you directions if you would like."

   "Slave, pay attention," said Szordrin to Solisar.

   "First, head port to Galley Street. Sindiath Line is on the corner. Look left, and you will see Thufer's Cobblery. Head up Galley Street toward it, but then take a right onto Whale Street. Whale Street will take you to the edge of the Rock. After you pass Cuttle Street at Wallis Tannery, you will find the tavern on the left. It does not smell nice over there, but the view is great. If you get to The Edge, you have gone too far. That is a much larger and more expensive bar but also more dangerous. I wish you the blessing of the gods of Toril... I mean, of Lolth."

   "We shall return later," said Szordrin. "Depending on how you make good my friend Walker's situation, the Mistress Mother will decide whether we do business with you in the future."
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
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