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Lhynard
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Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Wee-wee-kaw-ler-chi
~ first-day, 25th of the sixth season, growing threequarterlight
Wee-wee-kaw-ler-chi


While exciting at first, leaping off the edge of one island and gliding to another island was not as simple an ordeal as it at first may have seemed, but the challenge in it was also not what they would have predicted. The enemy here was boredom. In such clear weather, success lay not in any technical skill but rather primarily in maintaining the will-power to stay focused on a journey through an endless white sky. The boredom inevitably came after the first hour or so of gliding. As when Jayce had guided their spelljammer down to one of these islands, distance was very hard to estimate. The relative sizes of objects to their vision changed slowly, so progress was deceptive. Their target was always there in front of them, subtly growing larger, but only if you looked elsewhere for a time and then looked back. If you did this, however, you risked moving off course. Thankfully, even if you did move off course, from stray winds, distraction, dozing off, or any other cause, you had hours still to correct. Szordrin indeed did drift far away from the others for a time, but was able to get back in formation long before the island was close enough for this to be a concern. Kytharrah was the only one who seemed to still be enjoying himself after two hours, and he was intentionally banking left and right and making grunts and calls of enjoyment.

   Sif, Leokas' wolf, in particular, was not pleased with the situation. She was tied tightly in a harness to Leokas' torso as he steered his glider. She would periodically let out a whine to remind her companion that she was not happy.

   When the island was close enough, they saw that the western "horn" of the bull-head-shaped island had a grassy open area that looked like a prime landing spot. The rest of the island appeared covered in lush jungle.

   Hakam was the first to touch down on the grassy field, and did so like an expert. The others followed one after the other, running as they dropped their legs down and tried to match speed with the ground.

   Leokas, however, came in too shallow. His legs slammed against the rocky cliff that was the edge of the island, and he fell back into the expanse with Sif still tied to him. Belvin, who had just released dog-sized Kamil from his talons, shrieked out and circled back.

   Leokas' legs were scraped up and bruised, but he was not badly hurt. His glider had avoided taking any damage, but he was now gliding behind the island, some fifty feet too low. He was following his training and gaining altitude, but there was no way for him to go any faster, having lost some of his speed from the collision. If Belvin had not flown out to retrieve him, he would have never caught up again.

   "Once again, you have saved my life, my friend," said Leokas, when he was set back on solid ground. Sif was fine, beyond being clearly miffed at having been bound up for four hours.

   Near where they landed, there was some sort of stone statue or totem crudely constructed. Kythrrah bounded over to it as the others began collapsing their gliders and slipping them into the extra-dimensional spaces within their two magic sacks. He sniffed the stone for anything familiar but only noticed the new scent of the the vines growing up its height.

   Solisar joined him at the totem. It was roughly bird-shaped, with an obvious beak. At the back of the head were scratchings that the sun elf recognized as Iokharic runes, the numerals 0, 0, 4, 6, and 2, that is, Wee-wee-kaw-ler-chi.

   "This is definitely the correct island," said Solisar. "I suspect that this totem was erected by the surveyors who cataloged this island."

   Belvin shifted back into humanoid form and re-clothed. Kytharrah, head raised high, continued to take in all the interesting smells around him, mostly pollen and other plant scents.

   To the southeast, close to where they had set down, was a pond, about 40 feet wide, surrounded by scrub trees, ferns, and short palm bushes. Beyond this, the cover of palm trees and taller kapok trees grew thick so quickly as to form a wall hiding whatever lay beyond from vision.

   Solisar walked back to the edge of the island, where the grass gave way to rock. He gazed about through Ombert's spyglass. "I believe that I may have found our next island," he said. "It is shaped something like a crescent. It is at least two days before it will pass under us, according to Postmaster Spiraldive's calculations. We have that much time to get to the eastern side of this island."

   "She said that this was a medium-sized island, did she not?" said Hakam. "It is about ten miles from edge to edge, if I recall correctly."

   Solisar confirmed this.

   "I should hope that we can travel ten miles in two days, even if the jungle is thick."

   "Boom," said Kytharrah.

   "What?" asked Szordrin.

   "He hears a rumble," said Hakam. "I do too. Infrequently, in the distance to the southeast. Listen."

   It took half a minute before the others also heard the rumble.

   "Water," Kytharrah also said, and he began walking to the east, looking about and sniffing.

   "We may as well explore about a bit," said Hakam, "and we do need to move east." He followed behind the minotaur, hanging back at a distance. Everyone else followed along. Belvin used one of his druid spells to scan the area for any dinosaurs, but while they could hear the sounds of birds and frogs in the distance, his spell revealed no giant warm-blooded lizards.

   It soon became clear that they were on a peninsula — one of the "horns" of the island — because they could see that the land came to an end to the east

   The sound of running water was louder now, such that the others could also hear it. The minotaur, in the lead, at last reached the stream at a sharp turn from flowing north to east. In 30 to 40 feet, it poured off the edge into the great expanse. To the south, the river passed under a land bridge that led up to a hill. The rumbles, still infrequent, where sounding louder now when they did occur.

   Belvin rode Kamil up to the base of the arch and began to climb up it part of the way, rising over the height of some of the shorter trees and bushes. Looking up the hill to the south, he saw some bright red colors, and realized that he was looking at the back of an aarakocra male, standing on a large boulder at the crest of the hilly ridge. There was another low thud, near where the aarakocra was perched, and the sound of squawking in response. Then, the aarakocra took to flight and disappeared from Belvin's line of sight.

   Belvin returned down the earthen bridge to the others and reported what he had seen.

   "We may be approaching a battle," said Solisar.

   Kytharrah started to follow upstream a bit.

   "Keep your head low," said Belvin. "There are rocks flying through the air."

   There was another thud, and the sound of gravel rolling or crumbling in the south.

   "Do the aarakocra use trebuchets?" asked Belvin.

   "They had javelins and lances and rocks that they dropped, remember?" said Leokas.

   "And we sold them smokepowder for bombs," said Solisar, "but we do not know much about what weapons their lizardfolk enemies favor."

   Kytharrah now saw a splash of dirt atop the hill accompanied by another small boom.

   Belvin motioned for him to come back, and he obeyed.

   "Should we simply hail the aarakocra?" said Hakam.

   "They are in the middle of a battle," said Solisar, "and we do not want to take sides in this conflict."

   Leokas agreed.

   "Let us try to go around to the other side," said Szordrin. "We need to connect to the main island from this peninsula anyhow. I think that we are too far north."

   Most of them turned to go back to the grassy area where they had landed, but Belvin rode Kamil through the stream to the north side of the hill. Passing over thick undergrowth, he spotted a small crater in the ground a dozen feet ahead, with a round stone ball in it. The relatively smooth stone was about a foot in diameter. Another such crater was a short distance southeast of the first one. He turned and followed after his companions.

   They grouped together again and discussed matters.

   "If this is just a skirmish," said Hakam, "we can just wait it out until they stop fighting and leave."

   "We can remain hidden and safe using our rope trick spells in the meantime," suggested Solisar.

   "Let me scout the peninsula from the air more," said Belvin. "We do not even know what the full extent of the battle is at the moment." So, the rest of them sat and ate some rations, while Belvin transformed into a hawk and took to the air.

   Belvin started out flying east back over the stream. Not too much farther from where he had spotted the small craters, the hill became very rocky and joined with the island edge, such that passage further east from this direction would only be possible with dangerous rock climbing and scrambling. Banking around, he flew over the ridge. He spotted a total of only five aarakocra. They had several piles of small, round rocks, likely to drop on their foes from the air, and had constructed a crude nest-like wooden fence from thick jungle vines. In his quick pass overhead, he saw two take off and fly to the south, carrying a rock each in their talons. They dropped the stones into the jungle and then looped around and came back to the ridge.

   Looking to the south, he saw a few clearings in the jungle, and he thought that he might have spotted some lizardfolk hiding in the plant cover and darting to and fro.

   At the top of the land bridge leading up to the hilly ridge, the birdfolk had constructed a spiked barrier of sharpened wood embedded in a mound of clay to block anyone from climbing up by foot behind them.

   Diving low under the tree line, he flew over the water and followed it upstream. It curved around the ridge, which was about fifteen or twenty feet tall, and, after an S-curve, made its way mainly due east.

   Suddenly, a projectile flew past him from the south and slammed into the ridge, causing a small landslide. He banked sharply and headed back downstream, then returned to the others to described what he had seen.

   "We arrived in the middle of an artillery battle," noted Hakam.

   "If we try to follow the stream east, we shall be exposed to shots from both sides," said Belvin.

   He then had an idea. "What if we simply glide across from this 'horn' to the other 'horn'?"

   "There looked to be far more jungle on the other peninsula," said Leokas, "based on what I saw from the edge over there. It would be difficult to land our gliders, I think, without crashing into the trees. I am still in pain from this first landing."

   "I could ferry everyone over one at a time easily enough in my pteranodon talons," said Belvin. "It is only about nine or ten miles to the other peninsula."

   "I could also cause us all to feather fall," said Solisar. "We could all glide over, gaining altitude, and then we could drop slowly into the jungle with the aid of the spell."

   "The aarakocra seem to be staying low when they launch their attacks from the air," said Hakam. "We cannot even see them from here, so they are not likely to have noticed us either. I believe that we are safe here, and there is no rush yet. I think that we should just wait it out for a bit longer before trying to take a shortcut by air. If we wait until morning and they are still at it, I can surround all of us with a holy aura that will keep us in sanctuary against their attacks."

   "Just remember not to take the bags of holding up the rope with us!" warned Solisar.

   "We have more than 12 hours still before it even gets dark," said Leokas.

   "Both Szordrin and I can extend the length of our magics," said Solisar. "Duration of the magic will not be an issue."

   "Boredom will be, however," said Szordrin. "We just spent six hours in one white expanse and now another."

   Solisar cast the spell, and they began climbing the rope. Kytharrah heaved up Kamil with his extraordinary strength and lifted him up to Belvin. They had forgotten one detail; the rope could not be pulled into the space with them, because of the limits of the spell, because there were too many of them in the space at once, nor could Szrodrin climb up while Ferry was on his shoulders.

   "We used to set up two such spaces at a time," Szordrin reminded them.

   "I am not concerned," said Hakam. "If they can see our two bags, it will be no worse if they can also see the rope suspended in the air."

   "Even so, we still have one person too many; I will have Ferry guard the bags; that way, I will also be able to feel if he senses any danger."

   They left the bags of holding at the base of where they had tossed up the rope, and one of them kept watch on them through the dimensional portal as well.

   They saw no creatures pass within their vision or hearing from the safety of the extradimensional space. They rested and passed the time as best they could.

   When dusk came, there was an interesting effect. The presence of the dimensional window did not block the rain that began to fall, but from their point of view, they saw the drops pop into existence and fall from the plane of the window, while they remained dry. Kytharrah was fascinated by this and poked his head down through. It immediately became soaked from the rain. He snorted in enjoyment at the experience.

   Having been stuck in the blank nothingness of the spell for a dozen hours, most of them were feeling restless. It was still another eight hours until dawn, when Hakam could pray for fresh divine power.

   "Play outside?" asked Kytharrah.

   "It is darker and raining now," said Szordrin. "I am sure that it is safe to explore a bit more."

   Belvin and Leokas also were anxious to get back outside. This would leave Solisar and Hakam waiting in the rope trick. Solisar — and Ferry too — were hesitant about splitting up the party, but Leokas assured them that they would not stray too far, and would return quickly.

   The rain, as always on Coliar, was mainly a relief from the heat of the planet, which only Szordrin seemed unbothered by on most days, and being soaked was only a minor nuisance compared to other things now too common in their life as adventurers.

   This time, the smaller party headed due south. Mainly traveling along the western edge of the island. Past the pond, on the left, was where the jungle effectively began. On the right, there were more clusters of scrub trees and large-leafed bush plants and hillocks of grass. Moving beyond a thick cluster of jungle foliage, they came to a couple places where the land had collapsed into open gaps to the sky below, much like the pits that the lizardfolk had dug in the training courses to let the updraft through.

   "The island is breaking apart here," said Leokas. "This whole chunk of the peninsula will eventually tear from the rest of the island."

   Kytharrah passed between two such pits in the earth and pointed southeast. In the twilight and through the rain, they could see a wall of fallen logs, which were arranged in a way that was not natural. A good number of thick tree stumps were also scattered about, and before the log barricade was a leaf-covered clearing.

   Belvin approached one of the stumps. "This kapok tree was cut down with an axe," said the druid.

   They returned to Solisar and Hakam and reported.

   "I admit that I have realized a few flaws in my plan," said Hakam. "First, with all of the undergrowth in a jungle, we would likely not have the time to cross through the fighting while the spell still lasted. Second, the spell would only protect us from direct attacks, not from stray fire, falling rubble, or explosions. I still believe that we should wait out until morning and try to engage at least one of the sides diplomatically. If we start trying to sneak past, one of us — likely me — is bound to step on a loud branch and alert one of the parties to our presence."

   "We could travel along the stream," suggested Leokas. "In this dim light and the rain, visibility would be low, and both the stream and rain would cover any sound."

   Leokas and Belvin were not certain, but they suspected that both the lizardfolk and aarakocra would have sensitive vision, similar to that of elves, but not likely the ability to see in full darkness like Kytharrah and Szordrin could.

   "They are all probably resting until morning now," said Szordrin. "We may run into some scouts perhaps, but I do not think that we have to worry about crossfire anymore."

   Hakam asked Kytharrah if he could still hear any rumbling over the sound of the rain. The minotaur shook his head.

   "We still have four hours at least of rain," said Belvin. "If we are going to try to move past them, then this is the time to do it, before it gets too dark for us to even travel."

   "Minotaur, you will have to carry me through the stream," said Hakam. "My armor is too unwieldy for such travel."

   Kytharrah was happy to help his friend in this way.

   At last agreed on a plan, they gathered their gear and dismissed the rope trick, then headed to the land bridge and entered into the warm water of the stream. It was up to mid-thigh in depth for most of them.

   Kytharrah took the lead, with Hakam riding atop his backpack. Hakam's human eyes could barely see further than forty feet in the rain, but the elves could see well enough, and Szordrin and Kytharrah would be able to spot any body heat if they came upon any non-plant life.

   They moved upstream, under the earthen archway and then around the point of the west-to-east aarakocran ridge. At one point, they had to press through a clump of thick bushes growing in a shallow part of the stream and, after that, through rapids that made it harder to maintain balance, but then the S-curve began and the water calmed.

   When they came around the final curve, the stream mostly flowed due west, and they continued against the flow of the water. Kytharrah, in the lead still, suddenly stopped. His eyes could see a gray dim shape of a humanoid creature with his darkvision, about 25 or 30 feet upstream, sitting or crouching behind a bush on a tiny island in the stream. Kytharrah sniffed. The smell was that of a lizardman.

   Kytharrah motioned with his head to his friends behind him to look forward. The light was too dim for Hakam too see, but he placed his hand behind him to motion for the rest of the party to hold. Szordrin turned invisible, and Leokas nocked an arrow and stepped north onto the shore to take cover by a palm tree.

   The lizardman turned his head and looked at Kytharrah directly in the eyes but did not seem to respond further. Kytharrah tilted his head to the side in a non-confrontational, curious gesture. The lizardfolk turned his head away, rubbed his eyes as if to wake himself up, and then looked back. Now, he was certain that he was not imagining the large, furry, horned monster. He rose quickly to his feet, and his hand reached back for a javelin from a quiver on his back, but he did not throw it; he simply continued staring at Kytharrah to see what he would do.

   "Hold still!" commanded Hakam.

   The lizardman's eyes darted about, but his body otherwise was frozen solid by Hakam's divine magic.

   Hakam looked back at his companions and quietly suggested that they move past the lizardman scout as quickly as possible.

   As they passed by the scout, Kytharrah sniffed him amicably and patted him on the shoulder. "Play?"

   The lizardman's eyes expressed terror.

   Solisar spoke to him in Draconic. "You will be released from the holding magic once we pass by. We mean you no harm; do not fear."

   When invisible Szordrin passed by, he pickpocketed the scout, but only obtained a few frog legs, the lizardman's snack for the night. He turned back and returned the legs to the pouch before hustling to catch back up with the others.

   They followed the stream for about an hour more, before it grew too dark. Satisfied that they had successfully passed through the danger of the warring factions, they stopped and camped for the short Coliar night.
Session: 111th Game Session - Tuesday, Jun 16 2020 from 12:30 AM to 3:30 AM
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