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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — The Eagle has landed
~ seventh-day, 31st of the sixth season, shrinking quarterlight
an unknown island in Coliar


Kytharrah spotted it first. Gliding down at them out of the sky was an enormous bird. At first, he thought that it was a roc, like those fun giant birds that they had flown from the storm giants' mountain, but the elves corrected him. Its wings were too rigid and angular. It was probably a spelljammer made to appear like a giant eagle. As it drew closer, they saw that it was some 50 yards long with a wingspan of more than double that. Its beak was carved out of wood and its eyes were of green glass, but most of its body was covered in reddish feathers or cloth. There appeared to be a stone wall on its back, surrounding an upper deck.

   They stood on the edge of the island at shrinking quarterlight. After Sofi's story, Hakam had been taken quite aback by the gravity of Sofi's sin. At the same time, he was equally impressed with the efforts that she had taken to find redemption. It was hard to argue the fact that she was visited by a celestial and given an ordained path to follow.
   "Speaking of difficult stories," Sofi had said, "you also failed to tell us about your nightmare, Szordrin, as you had said that you would."

   "In my dream, I saw my former mistress kill by best friend, Welphrin," Szordrin had asnwered.

   "This was before your time with Onran?" asked Hamam.

   "Yes," said Szordrin. "It was a series of nightmares really, all blended together. We were in the Underdark, running from a lizard. He fell behind, and I went back for him. The dream morphed into my drow mistress' bedroom, where she was beating Welphrin to death. Then, there was a scene with the scavver who had almost killed me. Onran appeared to rescue me, but he transformed into a rakshasa. It was simply a mix of traumatic events in my life, nothing more."

   "It is horrible that you lost a childhood friend when you were so young," Sofi had said, and Kytharrah had patted him on the shoulder. "Play?"

   At the present time, a number of aarakocra carrying palanquins emerged from the eagle-shaped spelljammers back. These flew to the island edge, lowering the litters to the ground. Jayce was on one of them, glasses on and smoking a pipe.

   "Where is Oma?" asked Hakam.

   "She is on the eagle ship," said Jayce. "Oh, whom do I have the pleasure of meeting." Jayce had spotted Sofi. He drew his pipe from between his lips with his left hand, bowed, and asked for her hand. She offered it, and he kissed it.

   "I am Jayce, humble bard from the exotic land of Lantan, and you are?"

   "You may call me Sofi." She was blushing.

   "Jayce, what is going on?" asked Szordrin. "Why do they think that we stole gems?"

   "Wait till we get on the ship?" muttered Jayce under his breath. He then spoke to the armed aarakocra who perched on the ground impatiently. "They are all here; let everyone buckle in on a litter."

   The eagle ship was unique from other designs that they had seen. First, it had no sails. Perhaps the wings of the vessel captured the arcane winds created by the spelljamming helm instead. Second, there was primarily a single deck. The exception to this was the circular upper deck of wood, surrounded by the stone wall. Upon this was set a catapult on a turret at the center and a ballista each on port and starboard sides. The rest of the "back" of the eagle was an open bowl. Perhaps "nest" would be a better term. It was deep, and the floor extended underneath the battle deck into the eagle's "head" where they could see the spelljamming helm with a priest sitting upon it and the officers by the green, glass "eyes". The rim of the bowl had a narrow railing and a glass wall. Here, the aarakocra with their talons could perch. There were no other floors.

   They were set down into the bowl. As the aarakocra worked to store away the palanquins and prepare for the ascent into orbit, Jayce made small talk. "Ombert learned that Anadia has plants from which smokepowder can be made, so they did not want the Lantanese smokepowder."

   "Smokepowder is made from plants?" one of them asked.

   "Apparently, these halflings know a technique to, yes. That means that we made no money from our short jaunt back to Lantan. Oma told you about that, right?"

   "I did," said Oma, who walked from the bridge to the back of the vessel to greet them.

   After the two women introduced themselves, Jayce continued. "However, Ombert also made a purchase of a plant called crispyleaf by the hin. It is a gastric painkiller and a weight-loss food. Gods know that most halflings need to lose a little weight." He glanced at Sofi. She laughed. Oma scowled.

   "So, we have gone from arms dealers to drug traders," muttered Hakam.

   By now, four of the aarakocra had gone over toward the bow, two on each side, to stand by a set of giant levers that looked something like oars. The passengers stood towards the stern, near two slingshot-like contraptions, which were aimed toward two closed wooden hatches.

   "It is a fascinating class of spelljammer," said Jayce. "The oars there control flaps on the wings, which they use to turn, just like our sailors adjust the sails to turn. Now, Szordrin, translate what I say to the elves in their language." Mid-thought, it seemed, Jayce switched from Common to Alzhedo. Contrary to his nonchalant behavior, he had been paying close attention to when the aarakocra marines and sailors had ceased paying close attention to them. "And, Hakam, forgive my poor pronunciation of your native tongue; I put up with your silly sing-song Common accent and keep my mouth shut."

   Jayce's accent did sound atrocious to Hakam, but it was a good plan. Hakam and Szordrin could speak Alzhedo, and Szordrin could also speak Elvish. Only Kytharrah and Sofi would be left in the dark.

   They felt nothing, but they could tell from looking up at the sky that the eagle ship was rapidly climbing toward the upper clouds.

   "So, here is the problem," Jayce explained, and Szordrin translated into Elven. "In short, someone planted stolen aarakocra gems on the Frihet, supporting President Donakkis' claims that off-worlders are untrustworthy brigands.

   "The military claimed that a large number of gems were missing from their stores, and they interrogated everyone who talked to us. They found out that we had gone to Hisssta, so they sent an eagle ship and a small flock of military corbinas to watch the port for leaving or returning human vessels. They spotted the Frihet when we were returning to Hisssta to collect our gliders — the ones that we commissioned, I mean — and to wait for you all to return from your exploration. How did that go by the way? Was the cute, horned woman the one who ordered the rod?"

   Oma sighed loudly.

   "It went well," said Hakam, "and no, Sofi has no connection to the rod whatsoever. We can explain all of what we learned later. Go on."

   "Right, so, back to my story. They demanded that we be boarded, and they had us bring up our cargo. The gems that we were paid by the military were not the issue at all. They agreed that that was payment for the smokepowder and they acknowledged the receipts that you left with Ombert. However, they searched our food stores and found an even greater sum of gems hidden among the food."

   "When did they manage to plant the gems?" asked Leokas, after Szordrin had translated.

   "It must have been when they came to inspect our cargo on the very first day that we arrived," said Solisar. "That was the only time that the cargo ever came off our ship, and no one ever came onboard."

   "Exactly," said Jayce. "In any case, they told us that we were all under arrest, and we were escorted back to Athanar surrounded by corbinas. I demanded to know my rights and was basically told that, as a foreigner, I did not have any. We were to stay on our ship, on guard, in Athanar port, until our trial, with no indication of when the trial would even be.

   "With the help of a little bardic magic, I was able to convince one of the aarakocra guarding us, one who seemed least likely to support Donakkis directly, to spread rumors about the city that foreigners were being treated unfairly. Sure enough, that night, we received a visitor, a lawyer, who claimed to specialize in representing foreigners in legal affairs. You will never guess her name."

   "Postmaster Spiraldive," suggested one. "Or Asharra Chickchee," said another.

   "Yes, it was Asharra Chickchee! My plan worked better even than I had hoped. But Spiraldive was not far off as a guess, for Chickchee had heard about our situation both from the rumors and from an anonymous tip from someone at the postal service. Chickchee explained that, as foreigners, we did not have many rights, what I already knew. But she also explained that there is a little-known law that allows foreigners to volunteer for the military. Those who serve honorably can receive automatic visitor certificates, pending proper paperwork of course, but if the people demand it, paperwork can find itself completed more quickly. A visitor certificate does afford rights, including the right to freedom from incarceration until trial upon payment of bail, the right to a defense lawyer, and other such things."

   "I am not going to fight in their war," said Leokas.

   "I am of course willing to argue our case," said Hakam.

   "Of course, but we will not ever even have a trial at all unless we first earn our rights. However, apparently, there is a military gem mine that has had some recent 'troubles'. The mining operations had to be halted because, when they tunneled into a new chamber, several aarakocra went missing, presumed to be dead.

   "The only other clue was the presence of a larger population of geminals than normal, strange creatures that seem made out of gems. It is not entirely unheard of to find such creatures within the mines, and they are usually harmless if you do not threaten them, but this particular mine seemed to have an especially large population of them before the incident of missing miners occurred."

   "I wonder if these geminals are the same creatures as crysmals," said Solisar. "If so, they are telekinetic, dog-sized, scorpion-like, crystalline elementals.

   Jayce shrugged. "Whatever they are, they are not likely the direct cause of the miners' disappearance.

   "Now, Asharra was not as spunky as Postmaster Spiraldive; she was all business. Our helping clear the mine would be hugely beneficial to her campaign, and she made no attempt to hide that fact, but she said that she could move the 'legal gears' that would make clearing a military gem-mining facility of dangerous monsters, whatever they may be, count as 'honorable volunteer military service', thus granting us the right to post bail and even leave the planet until our trial. And she assured me that she would be investigating as hard as she could to prove the set-up in the meantime, so that the charges might be dropped before it even came to that.

   "I already agreed to this, and since we now are in service to the military, I suggested that they use an eagle ship to come pick you up, so that we could do our duty to Athanar all the sooner. Because, I do not know about you, but I am itching to get off this steam bath of a planet.

   "So, what do you say?"

   Hakam was not at all happy with this turn of events, but as Jayce had already agreed to it, there was little more that could legally be done.
Session: 117th Game Session - Monday, Aug 03 2020 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 2 , Coliar , Recap