Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Sofi
~ fourth-day, 28th of the sixth season, shrinking halflight
Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee


Protecting themselves against the heat with wet cloths or magic, they left the goose lake and headed northeast into the jungle. Using Belvin's magic, they walked for about 20 minutes. Kytharrah heard and smelled a flowing stream up ahead, and Belvin let him go forward and scout a bit. After finding a log that was lying across the stream, he came back and pantomimed to the others the act of moving across a balance beam. They did not really understand what he meant, but they went forward together to see.

   Belvin and Leokas explained that the tree had naturally fallen, though not too long ago. Leokas found what appeared to be small, humanoid prints on the log from someone who was barefoot. Kytharrah sniffed them. "Smell Szordrin," he said.

   "Huh," said Belvin.

   "Some kind of fiend passed by here, perhaps," said Hakam.

   "Are these gnome footprints?" asked Solisar. "Was not Szordrin's master raised by gnomes?"

   "They are a little too large for gnome feet," said Leokas. "Gnomes are even smaller than halflings, but I suppose if it was a big-footed gnome,..."

   "If you are all willing to wait for me to perform the incantations," said Solisar, "I can search the area beyond with my arcane eye."

   Solisar removed a bit of bat fur from his spell component pouch and began a series of complex motions and utterances. In the meantime, the others refilled their water and looked around the area west of the stream. A short distance to the north was a small lake, which emptied into this stream.

   Suddenly, Solisar appeared to go into a trance or coma, as his natural eyes stopped functioning, and he began to see from a point distant from his body. He sent the visual sensor north along the stream to come out over the open lake. The lake was 50 or 60 feet across at its widest point. Beautiful cascading steps of short waterfalls tumbled down into it from a rocky hill to the northwest, flowing between two large boulders. There was a small beach and clearing on the west side of the lake and a larger beach and clearing on the east side.

   Solisar immediately saw the source of the smoke on the east side. There was a small circle of stones there with a hot bed of ash and charcoal, upon which was placed a tiny metal mug. A figure in white clothing was tending to the mug with a long stick. It was a petite and slender young woman, sitting on a small rock next to the firepit. She seemed human and was dressed in a simple, sleeveless, burlap tunic and trousers that went only just past her knees. Her wrists and ankles seemed bound in white cloth strips or bandages, and she was barefoot. Her head was covered in a tied-up cloth or towel, as if she had recently come from a bath.

   Solisar described what he was seeing to his companions. "She is also faintly glowing with a magical aura, but she does not appear to be armed."

   "Ilthian never had a magical aura, correct?" asked Hakam.

   "She did not, no, but Szordrin does."

   "As do Cassiera and Jayce," said Szordrin. "Any being with sorcerous powers does."

   Solisar continued concentrating on her for several moments. "The magic does not reveal any magic items on her person causing the aura; it is simply coming from her herself. Let me take my sensor closer to her."

   He zoomed the sensor right up over her little mug. She seemed to be boiling a few roots, a rather pitiful meal. He then looked up closely at the woman. She was pale and had a cute face, with a button nose and eyes that were a bit reddish-brown.

   "What are the colors of her eyebrows?" asked Szordrin. "For that will be the color of her hair."

   "They are brown," said Solisar. "Her eyes, however, are not typical for a normal human. They are very red."

   "She is likely of mixed blood, as am I," said Szordrin.

   "Yes," agreed Solisar, "red eyes are often present on those with a demon, devil, or night hag as an ancestor, though I could not tell you which in the present case. I have only read about red eyes; I have not seen any to compare the subtle differences. This is, of course, why Kytharrah thought that her feet smelled like yours, Szordrin."

   "We should approach carefully," said Hakam, "with cordiality, at least at first. Can we cut through the trees here to reveal ourselves on the opposite side of the lake from her?"

   This was done easily enough. Kytharrah pressed ahead of the others and into a small clearing of grass and sand west of the lake. He immediately saw the woman that Solisar had described on the other side.

   The woman sprang up, like a pouncing tiger, and spun around in the air to face him, landing perfectly on her toes in a defensive posture, like some of the persons Kytharrah had wrestled with in the past. She carried no weapon but the tiny stick with which she was tending the fire. She stared directly at the minotaur and seemed to be waiting for him to make the first move.

   Most humans stood on their feet, he thought, yet she was on her toes like him. Kytharrah gave her a little bow, similar to how a dog might bow when ready to play. Kytharrah was not the best at understanding human facial expressions, but her expression definitely changed in response.

   Hakam stepped forward out from behind a thick palm-like bush and spoke. He noted that the tongues spell that he had cast did not automatically change his words into another language; he spoke in Common, which implied that she did as well. "We come in peace!" he shouted over the sound of the nearby waterfalls.

   The woman shouted back. "I... stand on the other side of this lake... in peace!" They could not determine whether her tone was a strange accent or simply the result of uncertainty or fear.

   Szordrin was trying to sneak around the southern end of the lake to get close enough to her to read her thoughts. He stepped into the stream; it was only about three feet deep.

   Suddenly, the woman turned to look directly in Szordrin's direction. The trees were still blocking their line of sight to each other, but the others, now moving fully into her view, could see her trying to spot the one she could somehow sense hiding in the foliage. Szordrin could read nothing at all of the thoughts in her mind.

   "We are only seeking information," Hakam shouted over the water. "We would like to show you a receipt for the purchase of a magical item." He held the copy of the document in his hand and waved it. "A rod used for interplanar travel."

   "Do I look dangerous?" she called back.

   "We did not want to come upon you suddenly and surprise you," said Solisar.

   "These are dangerous parts of the multiverse," said Hakam. "We always favor caution."

   "I cannot see that paper from here, but I suppose you could come over here and we can wigwag."

   Kytharrah did not waste any time in making his way over. He climbed up the nearby ledge to the north and bounded in two big leaps across the two large boulders at the base of falls and then landed on the other shore. She hopped back a yard and turned to face the minotaur who stood two and a half feet taller than she. She still looked somewhat confused and nervous.

   "Let us cross the lake, Kamil," said Belvin, but Kamil made grunting noises. The water looked too deep for his camel to easily ford across. "Fine, we shall go around it. Wait for me," he called to the others, who were already taking the longer route, back through the bushes, over the tree log, and through the thick trees to reach her clearing.

   Kytharrah tried to give the woman a friendly grin, while he waited for the others, but she stepped back another yard from him.

   "Kytharrah, no playing!" shouted Hakam.

   Hearing the group approaching from the south and flanking her, she adjusted her posture once again. She did not look away from the minotaur, but she was clearly aware of where each of the others were as well.

   Kytharrah came up and plopped himself right down by the firepit. He pulled out his everburning torch and held it up proudly for her to see.

   She smiled and, for the first time, did not seem frightened by him.

   "You may call me Sofi?" she stated, though it sounded more like a question. He partly extended her hand to shake his paw, but then rethought this and pulled it back.

   "Unlike our minotaur friend," said Solisar, approaching her firepit slowly, "we could not make the jump across those rocks and had to take the long route. His name is Kytharrah, 'Friendly Red Beast' in my native tongue. I am Solisar Keryth."

   Then he spoke to Kytharrah. "Kytharrah, come join us over here on this side of her, so that she is not surrounded." The minotaur obeyed. Her posture seemed to relax a bit. She stood on her feet now, for one, instead of on her toes.

   The others stood in an arc, and no one said anything for an awkward moment. The woman stood just under five-and-a-half feet tall. Her bare arms looked quite muscular. She reminded them, in terms of her general build, of Loreene, in prime physical condition, all muscle, though Loreene was much taller. Hakam noted that she gave off no chaotic aura that his special blessing from Anachtyr would reveal.

   Then the woman who called herself Sofi shook her head, as if snapping herself out of a daze. "Forgive me for my silence;" she said. "I have not seen other bloods in a long time. Uh, welcome to my... well, it is not really my case, just a place where I call kip, but it is where I am currently finding peace."

   She had a strange accent and lingo that none of them could place, nor did Szordrin or Hakam's spells provide anything more than the literal meaning of such words as "bloods" or "case".

   Hakam again brought out the receipt copy from the Interlink Consortium. He handed it to her. "We are looking for the purchaser of this item. Is it you?"

   She quickly shook her head. "No. No. It was not me. I did not even know the number of this island. You are looking at all my possessions now, mark." She held her arms wide. "I have nothing." She handed back the receipt. "I do not know any of the names on that paper."

   "Perhaps you can still help us," said Hakam, taking back the paper.

   "I do not have much to offer you in the way of hospitality," she said quickly, before Hakam could continue, "no bub or anything, only water, but please feel free to set your things down and rest your backs and feet a bit." She sat back down on her rock. "This weather is hot; you are welcome to bathe in the the pond; the water is cool and fresh. I am boiling some roots that I found. I am happy to share them with you." She spoke rapidly and awkwardly, as if she was not used to carrying on conversation with others and did not know the proper things to say.

   "Impressive survival skills," noted Leokas.

   "Thank you for your hospitality," said Hakam, "but it looks like you barely have enough to feed yourself. We have more than enough of our own rations."

   Kytharrah handed her some of his own rations to share.

   "Thank you, 'Friendly Red Beast', but may I ask what that is, first? I have a... sensitive diet."

   Kytharrah shrugged, having no idea what it was that he was actually eating. "Food?"

   Hakam explained that it was salbread, a bread made by halflings and favored by wildspace sailors. It lasted for many tendays. "It has a citrus flavor," he added.

   She took the biscuit from Kytharrah and tasted it. She smiled and looked at it more closely. "This is top-shelf!" she said. "I apologize for asking about it, but I have to be very careful. I cannot accept meat, as it is dead flesh, which I have promised never to touch." She ate the biscuit happily but slowly. She did not consume it like someone ravenously hungry or underfed, though the meager meal that she was cooking in her mug would have suggested otherwise.

   "Oh!" she said suddenly, remembering something. "Forgive my appearance; I have just come from washing my hair." She raised her hand to the towel there as if to remove it and then paused, before dropping her hand again as if changing her mind.

   "How long have you lived here on this island?" asked Solisar.

   "Yes," said Hakam. "The shipment of the item on the receipt that I showed you was made to this very island, five years ago. Were you here at that time?"

   "I was in Coliar at that time," she replied, "but I have only been on this island... a few months? Well, they call them 'seasons' here."

   Belvin leaned forward and peeked into her mug. "Cassava?" he asked.

   "The plant has leaves in sets of three," she said. "I do not know its name."

   "Cassava," Belvin repeated, "a good source of sugar. Sometimes, they have sets of seven or nine leaves instead. They cook better if you sear them on the coals first before boiling them."

   "I shall have to try that next time. Thank you."

   "Have you noticed signs of any previous occupants on this island?" asked Hakam, trying to keep the group on task.

   "I have only been on this island for a few seasons;" she repeated. "I move from place to place, as I do not believe that I am permitted to settle down any one place for too long. I have never seen another person here, just lizards and birds like all the other islands; however, there is something very strange here."

   She continued. "About a half mile from here, north, there is a chasm or gorge. It seems as if the island is slowly breaking in two at that point. I have explored everything on this side of the chasm, but I have never crossed it to the other side. If you wish to come with me later, I can show you why. You can rest here and we can hike there later."

   "Excuse me," said Szordrin, who had been silent for the conversation so far and still appeared as his old master. "Do not be alarmed, but my current appearance is actually an illusion, and the spell is about to fade. It is nothing to be worried about."

   "Oh," she said, sounding confused once again. "Okay."

   Szordrin's form shifted, gaining height and losing years and weight.

   She tilted her head and looked at him intently, taking his face in — too intently, enough to make Szordrin feel uncomfortable.

   "Nice to meet you,... well, the real you." She looked away from him and at the others. "Actually, I have only met Solisar and Friendly Red Beast by name. What are the rest of your names? I was so peery that I forgot to ask."

   The others gave their names in turn. Szordrin was the last to give his, and she looked at him again and smiled shyly at him.

   "You and I might have more in common than I at first thought, Szordrin," she said. She raised her hand again to her towel. "Forgive me, sometimes my appearance can be off-putting to visitors on other worlds, but I do not think that I will have that problem with you."

   She let loose the towel. Her shoulder-length brown hair tumbled down. The act also revealed a pair of goat-like white horns sprouting from the top of her forehead and curling backwards.

   Kytharrah bounced up and down with excitement and grinned widely.

   She smiled back at him. "Yes, I have horns, just like you!" She had gathered by now that Kytharrah was much like a child in manner, and her tone to him was now different than it was to the others.

   Kytharrah could no longer hold back and forgot Hakam's earlier order. "Play?"

   "It would be rude to my other guests to play without ensuring that everyone is first comfortable," she said gently, "but I would be happy to play with you later!"

   She looked back at the others now and shrugged. "So, this is me."

   "Yes," said Hakam, still pursuing his goal, "we would indeed be interested in seeing this other side of the island. However, we are content for you to finish your meal first."

   "Are you sure that you do not want to share?" she asked again.

   Kytharrah was happy to sample a little bite.

   "So, what is your ride?" she asked tentatively, seeming uncomfortable with the awkward silence while she finished her last of the two roots.

   "What? My ride?" said Belvin. "Kamil is a camel."

   She shook her head. "I am so sorry. Ignore my Cager lingo. Why are you here? Why did you come to this of all islands? Is it simply because of this receipt? Why is the delivery of this item so important to you? Cutters do not come to Coliar often."

   Hakam elaborated a bit further. "The item is connected to a foe of ours whom we have been tracking."

   "May I ask what sort of foe? None of you are evil, so I presume that your foe is."

   Szordrin answered, "The rod is connected to the murder of my former master."

   She looked at Szordrin with genuine compassion. "I am so sorry to hear that!"

   "Moreover," said Hakam, "The gods have informed me that Szordrin's master was connected to another man who is a great danger to everyone."

   "So," clarified Belvin, "our quest is a bit of a personal vendetta, but also something much greater."

   She nodded with a somber look on her face. "I mark that," she said. Then she took a final bite of her cassava root before asking, "Where is your kip?"

   "Pardon our ignorance," said Hakam, "but we do not know what the word 'kip' means."

   She blushed and looked down. "Oh right, again. Sorry! Uh, your case? Ugh! Your home? Where are you from? I am not very good with talking to people; I do not see them very often."

   "We are all from the planet Toril," said Hakam.

   "I am from the city of Sigil. I assume that you have heard of it?"

   Szordrin and Solisar had at least heard of Sigil. It was the legendary city supposedly at the very center of the multiverse, if such a statement meant anything at all. There was no shortage of sages and scholars who balked at such an idea, but here was a woman claiming to live there, so at least the existence of the place seemed true. Solisar knew that it was said to float at the top of a great spire in the center of the Outlands, the neutral Outer Plane that connected, cosmologically, if not literally, to all of the other Outer Planes and the realms of the many gods.

   "I know of it, yes," said Solisar. "Is it true that the city is ruled by the Lady of Pain?"

   "It is true," she said.

   The Lady of Pain was one of the most enigmatic characters of the known multiverse. She was not a goddess; she seemed to have no worshipers and granted no divine spells, but her power seemed comparable to that of many of the gods. In fact, she had somehow banned all deities from her city. It was impossible for the powers to enter Sigil at all, and lesser beings, mortal and immortal alike, could only enter — or exit — the city through established portals.

   It was not surprising to find a tiefling from Sigil. Sigil was to the multiverse what the Rock of Bral was to wildspace — one was likely to find all manner of planar diversity there.

   "Why have you moved around so much from place to place?" asked Szordrin.

   "Well...," she started. "It is complicated." Then a pause. "I am a follower of Pistis Sophia. I have forsworn all worldly possessions in exchange for her guidance in turning to the light."

   "She is one of the ruling archons, is she not?" said Hakam.

   Sofi nodded. "I believe so. Although, to be honest, I have not tumbled to much more than that about her."

   "What is an archon?" asked Leokas.

   "They are the lawful and noble residents of the the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia," explained Hakam. "Many are in the service of Anachtyr and other noble gods, and he has even granted me the power to summon some of their lesser varieties. However, the archons as a whole are ruled by the most powerful of their several orders, the tome archons, or archon paragons. Every paragon archon is a unique being. Pistis Sophia is the ruler of the Fourth Heaven. The gods have their own realms, and she has no power over their domains, but the archons of the Fourth Heaven are her subjects. She is called 'the Ascetic' by the writings of my church."

   "It is true," said Sofi, "and I seek to follow in her steps." She held up the cloth that she had formerly worn around her head. "I am not even supposed to own this towel, but I have this... quirk where I cannot bear the feeling of wet hair on my forehead if the rest of me is dry. Does that make sense to any of you?"

   They stared at her blankly, but Kytharrah nodded to encourage her.

   She shrugged. "I did not think that it would." She looked defeated momentarily but then perked up again. "I also use it as a belt, but my pants stay on just fine, so I know that that is a weak excuse. I hope that she is forgiving of this one luxury. Okay, I also own my metal mug here. So, she has to forgive me two things. Three strikes before you are out, right? I think that I heard someone say that on Sigil once. I have no idea what it references. Do you know? Help! I am rambling." She blushed again.

   "It is good that you have chosen to live your life in alignment with the law," said Hakam.

   "Well, I am trying to," she said. "I am far from perfect. I admit that I have a barmy temper, but I take no joy in that; I hate it. Anyhow, can we talk about someone else's faults now?" She laughed a little.

   When no one else immediately volunteered any personal flaws, she turned back to Szordrin, who had originally asked her about why she moved about. "To answer your question more fully, Szordrin, my vows forbid me to claim any permanent shelter as my own. The ground by this pond is soft. The weather here is always warm, so I do not get cold. I do not mind the rain and find it refreshing." She paused again, and then mumbled something about not minding her hair being wet if the rest of her body was also wet and how, admittedly, this quirk made no sense at all. "Nevermind!"

   "Have you traveled to any of the other islands?" asked Solisar.

   "I was originally dropped off in Coliar by an astraljammer," she replied. "They check in on me every year or so, and I have them drop me off at a new island when they do, to scan what Pistis Sophia has to teach me in a new place."

   "An astraljammer?" asked Belvin.

   "Spelljammers for traveling the Astral Plane," explained Solisar. He then asked the others, "That is what the neogi were after, was it not?"

   "One travels through the Astral Plane whenever he uses teleportation magic of any kind," said Hakam. "Why would a ship be needed?"

   "Yes," Solisar replied, "but if you want to travel within the gravity-less void of the Astral Plane itself, having a vessel in which to do so is most useful."

   "Did you choose this island at random?" asked Hakam. "Or where there any signatures from the Astral Plane that led you here?"

   "I came to Coliar, at first seeking a place of great isolation, where I could meditate. I believe that I have been guided to each specific island by my patron, for whatever reasons she may have." She then added. "As you must know, there are hundreds of thousands of islands in Coliar. It is exceptionally rare to 'accidentally' run into another person here, unless on one of the port islands or its immediate neighbors in the same jet stream. And the fact that this island has this 'strange thing' that I want to show you — I am beginning to think that I was correct that it was her will to place me on this very island. I do not know why I am here, yet I know that it is ordained."

   Hakam nodded. "It is indeed the will of the gods," he asserted. "They have been guiding us, too, on our journey."

   Szordrin verbally agreed, which caused several of his companions to look at him in surprise, as he had never spoken highly of the powers in the past.

   He also whispered something to Ferry, and the weasel scurried down his arm and over to her lap.

   Belvin rolled his eyes at this, but Sofi's red eyes grew wide. "You the cutest ever!" she said to Ferry, as she stroked his downy fur.

   After she had doted on the little mustelid for several minutes, Belvin led Kamil over to her. She patted the camel's nose cautiously.

   Ferry came back to Szordrin and reported that he very much approved of Sofi and that yes, Kytharrah was correct; her feet did indeed smell like his.
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments
Epic!