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Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — Tavern Talk
In the back of a small, nondescript tavern, around a round, wooden table, the party of six sat arguing about what to do next.

   The place was located near the Garden of Rhinda. It was a single room, dimly lit, and no one else was present except an old and nearly deaf bartender behind the counter. This fact of course was very much to their liking, and the emptiness of the place also meant that even Belvin had been willing to join the rest within the tiny establishment.

   For the most part they were arguing around in circles, reiterating the same points as they had on walk back, but there were also some new ideas presented.

   "Perhaps Malick could keep the gem safer than we ever could," suggested Hakam, who still wished to give the gem back to Malick regardless.

   "Why do you think it will be safe with Malick?" questioned Jayce.

   "He does have those animated statues," said Mythlos.

   "It cannot be that safe with Malick;" said Leokas, "the gem was already stolen from him once."

   "Why would we need to keep it safe?" asked Jayce.

   "My god has shown me this," said Hakam.

   "How did he do that?"

   "During augury, I received a sense. You would not understand."

   Belvin had been sitting quietly for a while now, but he could no longer contain his surprise at the others' desire to give the gem back to Malick. "What about Jayce?"

   "What about me?" Jayce replied.

   "He sold you into slavery!"

   "And now I'll be the one making money off of him," said Jayce. "So in the end, I win."

   "How is that winning? You were sold into slavery by this man. Why is everyone trusting him?

   "Lawman, how is it that you wanted to arrest Vashti, yet are okay with Malick's behavior?" he asked.

   "We will ensure that Malick refunds us the money for Jayce's sale in addition to the reward for retrieving his gem," replied Hakam.

   "If we sell the gem back," said Belvin, "why do you expect Malick to part with it again if we later need it?"

   "I suppose that is a good point," said Hakam.

   "Of course it is!"

   "We could always steal it back later," said Jayce. Mick nodded in agreement.

   Hakam glared at him. "It's his property."

   "Isn't it Allu's property, technically?" said Jayce.

   "Allu is an efreeti;" said Hakam, "he has no rights."

   "If we do not have the gem with us, what good will it be to find this strange island?" asked Belvin.

   "What good will it be if we do have it?" asked Mythlos.

   "Yes," said Leokas, "I am confused, my friend. It seems to me that we will need money for gear and transport if we are to find the island, but I do not see how having the gem helps us."

   "Do you really think Allu is not going to come after us?" said Belvin. "He tracked down Malick after all this time; he can find us. He will do this whether or not we actually have the gem on our persons. And when he comes for us, we will need the gem in order to send him back through the portal and to find a way to lock him in."

   "I still don't see how Allu is our problem anyhow;" said Jayce, "he seems a local problem for Calimshan."

   "That's why we should worry about it!" said Hakam.

   "You are not listening to my words!" said Belvin to Jayce. "Ignoring Allu won't make him go away. The only way to make him go away is to destroy him — which we are not powerful enough to do — or to figure out a way to trick him to go back through the portal."

   "I am not so sure we can figure out a way to do that," said Leokas, "nor am I convinced that we will need the gem to do it. However, I agree that we cannot ignore Allu. As I said before, this task was appointed to us, even though we be small."

   Hakam drew out a sheet of paper, a pen, and some ink from his pack. "We are getting nowhere in this discussion," he said. "Let us enumerate our options:

   "First, we could collect the reward by returning the gem to Malick," he continued, while writing this option down.

   "Second, we keep the gem but inform Malick of the truth.

   "Third, we keep the gem but do not inform Malick.

   "What else?"

   "Let us not forget about Sseth," said Leokas.

   Hakam spoke and wrote, "Fourth, give the gem to the dragon for safekeeping."

   "We could destroy it," offered Mythlos.

   "Fifth, destroy, bury, drown the gem, or the like."

   "Kill Malick," said Belvin.

   "Sixth, kill Malick."

   "I should point out that four and six are not mutually exclusive," said Belvin.

   "Noted," said Hakam.

   "Malick doesn't deserve to die," said Mythlos. The others agreed.

   "Jayce, how is it that you are so forgiving?" Belvin asked.

   "Because when we return this gem, I'll be sure the amount he pays us will rob him of more than he's worth."

   "What's to prevent him from giving us counterfeit money?" said Belvin. "I simply will not trust the man."

   "Even if it is real money, it still won't be worth anywhere close to the actual value of the gem," suggested Mick, surprising the others, who had forgotten he was even there. "Another option would be to sell it to someone other than Malick, for its full value or at least closer."

   "Seven, sell the gem to someone else for more," wrote Hakam. "Whom would you sell it to for market value?" he then asked.

   "Most people would sooner kill us for it," said Jayce. Then he added, "Although, I do have that thieves' guild token.

   "No!" said Hakam. "I will not trust a thieves' guild. They would be among those you said would 'sooner kill us for it.' No, my opinion is that the safety of the gem is far more important than any sum of gold we might acquire. What good will it be if Allu rules the Plane?"

   "For once, I agree with you," said Belvin. "Except that Malick clearly is not the one to keep it safe."

   "We've already been down that road of discussion," said Leokas. "It leads nowhere. We now have a list of options to consider. My opinion is that we should contact Sseth before we make any of these decisions." Everyone agreed with this.

   "I shall visit my brethren at the Temple of Justice," said Hakam. "Surely there will be one in this city. A priest there will certainly be able to assist me in sending a message to the dragon on our behalf, but it will likely cost a somewhat large sum of gold to purchase the scrolls required."

   So, everyone chipped in what money they could and Hakam left to seek out the temple. Belvin and Leokas returned to the garden, and the rest went off to find a place to perform and enjoy drinks together.


There was indeed a Temple of Justice, in the southwest quadrant of the city, the Temple Quarter. Hakam had received directions from some night watchmen, and Mythlos, Jayce, and Mick were also heading to the same Quarter, having learned of a popular tavern and inn called Asdefk's located there, so they traveled together. The three walked south along Star Street and made their way over the Ithal Bridge, a massive and ancient bridge crossing the River Ith. The four-wagons-wide bridge contained impressive stone carving that was clearly the work of dwarves from long ago.

   The other three left Hakam when they spotted the sign for the inn, and he continued alone to the temple, which was rather typical for a Tyrran place of worship. Hakam introduced himself to the nighttime attendants and was informed that one of the temple's librarians was still awake, so he entered the candle-filled chamber with shelves of scroll cases. As a cleric of the Just God, Hakam was able to purchase a scroll of sending for half price of 350 aenar, which was 35 platinum pieces.

   The librarian assisted him in deciphering the ancient, holy lettering upon the parchment. Once confident of the words of the prayer, Hakam recited them, while concentrating on the image of the huge brass dragon as he remembered him that first day he had joined the adventuring party. The letters on the scroll vanished as he spoke them.

   "Now speak your message," said the librarian, "and remember, you only have twenty-five words before the spell fails."

   Hakam continued to concentrate on the image of the dragon. Then he spoke: "Sseth, I am with friends who found ghost's journal. Require assistance safeguarding Omlar. Please meet in Darromar at earliest convenience. Great power, importance in gem.

   "That's exactly twenty-five," he said to the librarian. "Now what?"

   "Now you wait for a response. Only you will be able to hear it."

   No sooner had the librarian finished then Hakam heard a deep voice in his head: "Regret to inform you that I am imprisoned on west coast of Calim Desert by a blue dragon. I may never read a book again!"

   "You heard something troubling," said the librarian. "Your countenance has changed."

   "Yes, someone is in danger," answered Hakam. "I will need to purchase another scroll."

   After exchanging another large quantity of platinum coins, Hakam unrolled a second scroll of sending and cast the spell written therein.

   "Perhaps we can help. Any more information on your location? Is captor in league with Allu? Are you hurt?" (He could not think of any other words to fill the spell's limit.)

   The dragon's answer came back. "I am fair. May have found Allu's palace. Entrance in cliffs on seashore, south of monastery, when tide low, near shipwreck. Don't think dragon knows...." His voice cut off suddenly at the twenty-fifth word.
Session: 30th Game Session - Monday, Mar 24 2014 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — After-Dinner Conversations
"That is a fascinating story," said Leokas, when Malick had finished his tale. "We have further information that may be of interest to you. When identifying the gem, we further learned that it acts as a portal key. Had you noticed the runes on its square faces?"

   "Of course," said Malick, "the Dwarven letters B, R, E, S, M, and A. And the fire runes on the triangular faces. I know not what they mean."

   "Hmm," said Jayce, "Samber!"

   "So it's a person's name?" Malick asked, looking at Jayce with surprise.

   "Reginald is good at anagrams," noted Leokas.

   "I spent some time in Lantan in the past," said Jayce.

   "Do you know anyone named Samber?" Mythlos asked.

   "Not personally, no," Malick replied. Then he said, "I suppose that Allu used this portal key to enter our plane...."

   "A genie is a powerful being;" said Jayce. "It may be for the best that the gem is lost. Would you not be concerned that Allu would come for you if you had the gem again?"

   "As I said, I have been concerned. But if the syl-pasha has it, Allu may not know, and he may still come after me. I may not be safe with or without it. I have purchased magical defenses for this tower. I can only hope for the best now. As for you, should you not also fear the efreeti?"

   "Yes, we are concerned regarding our safety in this matter as well," answered Leokas. "Now, did you say that some of the hobgoblins still remained on the island?"

   "Yes, the other half remained there."

   "Do you have any sense of where the island was?" asked Hakam.

   "I have no idea beyond what I have already told you. We were probably heading toward the Nelanther Isles, but I have no sense of how far off course we were blown or carried."

   "How did the efreeti arrive on the island?" Jayce asked.

   "I do not know, unless the portal is somewhere within the cave on that island."

   "Do you know where the pirates landed after you fled the ship?"

   "I do not, but now that you ask, I find it odd that they did not return to the Nelanther Isles. They were heading toward Faerûn."

   "If you were close enough to reach Memnon," said Hakam, "I'd imagine that the pirates and the efreeti made landfall near Myratma or Memnon."

   "How long ago was this?" asked Leokas.

   "About two years ago," Malick replied.

   "The Year of the Tankard," said Hakam. "I know of a war in Amn against ogre mages but nothing about any organized hobgoblin piracy...."

   "A wide variety of humanoid races reside on the Nelanther Isles and live as pirates," said Malick.

   "Could the island you shipwrecked on have been as far south as Lantan?" asked Jayce.

   "It is possible," said Malick. "Again, I am no navigator."

   "Are you sure that they were not heading for this island intentionally?" asked Jayce. "Obviously not to wreck, of course."

   "I suppose that is possible. I do not speak Goblin, but I had thought it was entirely accidental. They seemed to have discovered the cave where they settled."

   "Have you considered going back?" Jayce asked.

   "To the island? Hells, no. It was hardly a pleasant experience. I prefer the comforts of my riches."

   "I think we have asked our share of questions," said Leokas. "I think we shall take our leave, with your permission."

   "Before we leave," said Mythlos, "would you be so kind as to demonstrate one of your illusions?"

   "If you insist," said Malick. "This is one of my favorites." He waved his hands and spoke the final words of a spell, and suddenly, the four empty seats at his table were filled with illusionary copies of him, perfectly mimicking his posture and body motions.

   The adventurers rose from the table, as did Malick and his four copies. "Send me word if you hear anything more about this Allu," said Malick. "And I will likewise find a way to notify you if he tries to attack me here — assuming I survive the encounter."

   "We will do so," said Leokas.

   Malick walked with them to the door. (Two of the illusions, which had been sitting facing the door walked forward through the table, and the other two, facing the other direction, walked away from the door through the table and the other two illusions.) Leokas turned to ask one last question. "If we had had the gem, how much were you prepared to pay us?"

   "I was ready to pay double the average price for a green star sapphire, which tend to sell for 1,000 aenar."


"We have much to discuss," said Hakam, as they walked the alleys back to the Garden of Rhinda.

   "We should return with the gem and collect the reward," said Jayce.

   "And tell him what?" said Hakam. "That we stormed Calimport and the syl-pasha's treasury and took back the gem in fifteen minutes? There has been enough deception tonight for my tastes."

   "Where did Belvin go?" said Leokas.

   "I think he went off somewhere to relieve himself," said Mick.

   "You would keep the gem from him? That does not seem lawful," said Jayce.

   "No, I think the gem is rightfully his," answered Hakam. "I just think we should be honest when we return it too him. Besides, I sense the gem holds great power, and the longer we hold on to it, the more danger we call to ourselves."

   "Perhaps we have a responsiblity to protect the gem," said Leokas. "If it is indeed a portal key to the plane of fire, its usage could lead to our world being invaded by an army of genies. Perhaps it has fallen upon us by the gods to stop that from happening."

   Jayce didn't seem to hear Leokas. "I bet we could pressure Malick to offer us more than 2,000 for the gem, because of the risk we endured."

   "I want the gold," said Mythlos. "Let others handle Allu."

   "We could be talking about hordes of efreet," said Hakam. "The dragon barely fought one off."

   "What are you talking about?" said Jayce. "Sseth trounced him."

   "What will we do if Allu attacks us directly, though?" asked Mythlos.

   "We need to find Sseth again," said Leokas. "For all we know, he has already dealt with the efreeti or at least discovered his lair."

   "There is magic for that," said Belvin, startling the others. They had not seen him return to join the group. "Magic for sending messages or locating someone, I mean."

   Mythlos agreed, "Yes, we can surely find a mage in this large city tomorrow who can send a message for us."

   "This gem is too powerful," said Hakam. "If we give it back to Malick, we may be giving him over to death."

   "I thought you just said that it belongs to him," said Jayce.

   "It does. But maybe we should hand it over to the authorities here in Tethyr and allow them to deal with the matter."

   "They may be just as corrupt as the so-called authorities we met in Memnon," said Jayce.

   "I am beginning to change my mind about the gem," said Leokas. "I do not know that we physically need it to stop the genies from entering our world; we just need to find that island and destroy the portal itself."

   "That sounds easy!" said Mick sarcastically. "I'm in."

   Leokas continued, "If we are to save the world, we'll certainly need better gear. Let's give the gem back to Malick, after negotiating a higher price than 2,000 gold pieces."

   "How will we explain our deception tonight?" asked Jayce.

   "He will understand for the same reason we understood why he lied to us about the identity of the gem. We needed to test him first. I see no reason to doubt him."

   "Except that you are forgetting that he sold Jayce into slavery," said Belvin. "There's still that."
Session: 29th Game Session - Monday, Mar 03 2014 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Posted in Imago Deorum
Malick's Tale
"I am the son of a rather rich noble from the old days of Tethyr," Malick began, "but I bored of the life of a rich brat, and when I came of age, I left home and set sail from the town of Zazesspur, traveling to Amn, hoping to enhance my magical talents there.

   "However, the daughters of Tyche had other plans: my vessel was attacked and boarded by hobgoblin pirates. They took the ship under their control, after slaying all of the crew and passengers except for me. I am an illusionist, and my illusions allowed me to hide about on the boat without being discovered.

   On the way back to the Nelanther Isles — at least, that is where I assume they were heading; I am no navigator, but I believe we were heading west northwest. However, Umberlee sent a severe storm, and the ship was set adrift somewhere. The vessel struck ground on an island that was unusually cold, and it was wrecked upon a rocky beach.

   "The hobgoblins abandoned the boat and took shelter in some caves on the island. I managed to stay alive in the same cave as well. I survived by stealing some of their food at night. (There seemed to be plenty of deer in the woods above the caves.)

   "I lost track of time while there. It could have been months; I had really given up hope of ever getting back to my home. I was alive, but I was growing frail and bone thin.

   "Then one day, I had the oddest turn of luck. A being of fire, an efreeti, I believe, appeared in the hobgoblin's camp. The goblins called him Allu. He seemed to have convinced some of them that he was a god who would reward them greatly if they could take him from the island back to Faerûn. About half of the hobgoblins agreed to help him. With his magic and their efforts, they were able to repair the ship with timber from the forest.

   "When I saw that the repairs were complete, I stowed away aboard again before they set sail. Once again, I survived by stealth and secrecy.

   "At long last, one night, I overheard a conversation with the hobgoblins and the efreeti that we would likely reach the land within a day. So that very night, I snuck about and prepared to escape with one of the lifeboats. But first, I did something rather unlike me. I am not sure what possessed me to risk it, but before escaping, I snuck into the efreeti's own quarters. I managed to steal the Omlar gem from among his possessions while he was distracted in conversation.

   "Miraculously, I succeeded. Undetected, I left the ship and survived an all-night trip rowing back to land. I arrived off the shore of Memnon, exhausted and dressed in rags, but I had survived my adventure. I was alive, and I knew that the gem was special and had the potential to make me rich. It was not until I had returned safely home that I realized just how rich the gem could make me.

   "The hobgoblin, of course, was likely sent by the efreeti to recover the gem, but surely, you would agree with me that to steal the gem from such an evil creature as an efreeti is permitted? How he could have found me here, I do not know. I admit, that fact does scare me. Terribly so. But I often have thieves attempting to raid my tower, unfortunately. The new queen has not done the best job at keeping the valuables of such wizards as myself secure. I have had to purchase my own security measures.

   "So, yes, I lied about the gem, but I am sure you can understand why. I was telling the truth when I said that it was of great personal significance to me; it was proof of my amazing journey of survival and of my sudden bravery. But there is no way I could afford to pay someone the true value of the gem. And if I had been honest about the true identity of it, I would have attracted even more thieves, not adventurers.

   "Yet now I fear that the gem is lost to me forever."
Session: 29th Game Session - Monday, Mar 03 2014 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — Revelations
~ ninth-day, 19th of Ches, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
West Branton

Before noon, on the first day of spring, they reached the hamlet of East Branton. (Leokas lent Mick his horse, and he jogged behind. On the journey, Mick asked questions about their past adventures.) Next, they reached the hamlet of Evenflow. After that, as dusk approached, they came to Hostim, a small town. Across the river, they could see a monastery. A wooden sign had a flower painted on it with an arrow pointing a cross the water toward the complex. "I believe that there sits an Ilmatari abode, our allies," suggested Hakam.

   But they did not deem it worth the effort to ford the river and instead camped once again under the stars.


The next morning, there was another thunderstorm. As before, Leokas successfully constructed a makeshift shelter for all of them. They were cold and wet afterward, but no worse off than that.

   At noon, they could see a small town across river. There were far more folk about, walking to and fro along the river now. They took this as a sign that they were nearing the city. One of the passers-by informed them that the town across the water was Abbor and that they would soon reach a thorp called Ruba by early afternoon. This indeed was the case.

   They questioned several of the travelers about Malick, but none of the locals had ever heard of him.

   An hour after passing through Abbor, they passed the keep of Loranse, which they learned was the seat of county Ithmonn, standing on the other side of the river.

   It was here that Jayce stopped the group and informed them that he had something he needed to say. "So, I need to come clean with all of you before we reach Darromar," he said.

   Belvin looked ready to strangle him. "I knew you were withholding things from us."

   "It would have changed nothing until now," continued Jayce. "The fact of the matter is that it was Malick who sold me into slavery. I will have to go into his tower disguised."

   "Go on," said Leokas.

   "Apparently, before the hobgoblin stole the Omlar gem — I regret to admit it — but I had broken into Malick's tower and taken it. But I was captured by his security system, and he had me sold into slavery. On second thought, I do not regret it, because it was quite impressive work on my part!"

   "This is a troubling revelation," said Hakam.

   "Come now," Jayce protested. "I have been a useful member of this party."

   "That is irrelevant in the eyes of Anachtyr. This is indeed a complex legal case, however, and I know not how the Just God would decide."

   "Malick was not within his rights, as a citizen of Tethyr, to enslave Jayce," said Leokas.

   "That is true, yet neither was Jayce within his rights to steal Malick's gem."

   "For my part, I have no direct ties with Malick," said Leokas, "and I know nothing of his character or his actions. I took the job solely for an opportunity to hunt a hobgoblin."

   "So if Malick needs to die, that will be permitted by you?" asked Belvin.

   "I, for one, lay no claim upon his head," said Jayce.

   "What can you both tell us about this wizard's tower?" asked Mick, who was only slowly beginning to understand what was going on.

   "The tower rests within a walled grove of small trees," answered Leokas. "It is about five or six stories in height with a large staircase ascending to the main door. At each corner of the building are rounded turrets with spires. When I knocked on the door, an image of Malick appeared, and I spoke with it. Then, I was invited into a large dining room for dinner, which was served by his singular butler. There is not much more to tell."

   "What if Malick was using you for an evil task all this time?" asked Mythlos. "If Jayce tells us the truth, this raises many questions about his character."

   "Were you the only one sent to retrieve the gem?" asked Hakam.

   "No, I was responding to a poster," said Leokas. "There were likely others."

   "If he is a powerful wizard, why did he not go himself to pursue the hobgoblin?" asked Jayce.

   "He is probably not skilled in tracking," replied Leokas. "And I do not think he is a diviner."

   "Is Malick a noble?" asked Hakam.

   "I do not believe so," said Leokas.

   "Well, we should continue on to reach the city before dark," said Jayce. "I humbly ask that you help me not be made a slave again."


After one final hour of travel, they reached the thick, stone walls of Darromar. These they had to circumnavigate clockwise to reach the Ithal Road and the northern gates into the city. Leokas and Jayce told the others that Malick's estate was in the Royal Quarter, the northwestern quadrant of the city. Passing many wagons of travelers heading into and out of the city, they came to the first inn and paid a small fee to stable their animals, with the exception of Kamil and Stormshadow. (Their masters hoped to find another druid grove within the city.)

   They began asking around what folks knew about "Malick of Darromar", but few had ever heard of him, even here in his own city. Fewer still knew where his tower stood. "I've heard he is very rich," said one maiden who seemed to know the most, "that he inherited a tower and an estate from his father."

   They learned that a druid grove did exist in the Garden of Rhinda, a luscious flower garden at the base of and surrounding the Ithal Crag, the large hill upon which the queen's royal palace of Faerntarn was built. After walking three long blocks south on the Ithal Road (called Star Street within the city), they proceeded a block west into the bustling Queen's Market. Skirting the border of that massive open-air marketplace to the other side, they walked one more block southwest and came to a dazzling display of colors. The garden lay before them, filled with arrays of roses of all colors, shaped hedges, and a scattering of trees that were just now in bloom with pink and white flowers.

   They passed through an archway cut from two large bushes and were directed to a clearing of the garden designated for druids. Most of the druids here were followers of Eldath, dressed in garments covered with flowers, but they welcomed Belvin just the same, and were happy to permit the guests to leave Stormshadow and Kamil in their care.

   As Jayce began to disguise himself with use of a kit he carried, the others made plans around him. "What about the gem?" asked Hakam. "Shall we take it to our meeting with Malick? Or shall we leave it here?"

   "We should leave it here with Stormshadow," said Mythlos.

   "The question depends on whether it belongs to Samber or Malick," said Leokas.

   "Or to us?" suggested Mythlos.

   "Perhaps Samber is Malick," said Hakam.

   "In any case," said Leokas, "he owes me an explanation."

   "Do you think he even knew the gem's value?" asked Hakam.

   "I should think any wizard would," said Leokas.

   "I have an idea!" Jayce piped in. "I'll disguise myself as a well-known, major criminal. We can use that to intimidate him."

   "That would only serve to bring attention to you. It's best if he pays you no heed at all," said Hakam.

   "Why assume that we would need to intimidate him in the first place?" asked Mythlos. "We do not know if he is good or evil."

   "What part of 'He sold me into slavery" did you not understand?" replied Jayce. "What if he tries to do so again?"

   "If he tries to stop us, we'll fight back," said Leokas. "There will be six of us, after all, and only one of him."

   "I just do not see Jayce's plan ending well," said Hakam.

   "We could challenge him to a wizards' duel," suggested Leokas, "to establish our power."

   "What good would that do?" said Hakam. "Besides, I do not think Mythlos is advanced enough to win. He's been focusing more on his combat studies of late."

   "I could call down a swarm of bats," said Belvin.

   "There is a law against that," stated Hakam.

   "Where does it say that?"

   "Magical assault: the punishment is a fine of 15 hundred gold pieces, retribution of 3,000, and public humiliation in the stocks for three days."

   Belvin shrugged. "I can afford that."

   Jayce's hair was now colored brown, and the freckles were gone from his face. "What if I were a Calishite enforcer, sent to take the gem for the syl-pasha?"

   "A civilized ruler, like the syl-pasha, would send an ambassador to the queen and pressure her to use her own enforcement to retrieve the gem," explained Hakam.

   "The way I see it," said Jayce, "is that we have two routes to victory: intimidation or diplomacy."

   "For what victory are we aiming?" Hakam replied. "I don't see that we should aim to fight — certainly not in his own home, which I am certain is magically protected. Let's go without the gem and negotiate."

   "I can bluff that we lost it," said Leokas.

   "We can claim that a powerful Calishite wizard stole it from us," suggested Mythlos.

   "Such as the Sultan Arcane of Memnon?" said Hakam. "Now, at last, we have a believable tale. We could then negotiate for a higher bounty for the risk he" put on us by lying about the gem's worth."

   "Can we trust these Eldathyn to leave the gem here?"

   "They will be bound by druidic oaths to not touch our belongings," said Belvin.

   "Jayce, my friend," said Mick, who was sitting on the ground by the gear, waiting for the rest to decide on a plan of action, "you still look exactly like yourself. That will never fool the wizard."

   The others turned to look at Jayce. It was true; the disguise was not working well.

   "Can't you magically alter yourself?" asked Leokas. "You turned into a goblin; surely, you can look like another human."

   "I did consider using magic to take the form of an attractive woman," Jayce answered, "but I worry we will be at his tower longer than the duration of the spell."

   "Well, hurry up; this process is taking far too long. It will be dark soon."


After a half hour, the others finally approved of Jayce's disguise. He looked older and bore no traces of his Lantanna heritage. Leaving the gardens, they returned to Star Street and walked north back to the gates and the wall, which they followed counterclockwise until reaching reaching an upper-class part of the city. Many fenced estates were here, and Malick's tower, looking as Leokas had described, was easily spotted.

   The gate to the estate was unlocked, and so they entered the grounds. They came to the stone steps to the tower, and climbed all seven of them to the top, where they stood before a large, oaken double door with a heavy, metal knocker. In front of the door, on the wide top step, was a runic circle carved in the stone.

   "When last I was here," said Leokas, "when I knocked on the door, an image of Malick appeared in this circle. Step aside."

   Leokas knocked. There was a pause, and then a transparent form began to take shape, hovering within the circle of runes, which were now glowing a faint blue. The form was that of a tall, thin human with a round face and curly hair. Leokas recognized the image as that of Malick.

   "Who comes to the tower of the great Malick of Darromar?" said the voice of the illusion before them. Its eyes darted to and fro looking at each of them. "Ah! Are you the elven adventurer I hired? I had given up hope that you would return. Do you have the gem?"

   "Alas, I do not," replied Leokas, "but I know where it is. I tracked the hobgoblin who stole the gem from you for a very long distance, and I and my companions here eventually did retrieve it from him. However, it was then taken from us by others who were also looking for it. I believe that there is still hope in retrieving it, if we could learn more information from you."

   "This is indeed a disappointment to hear," said Malick, looking discouraged, "but you are the first to return with any news at all. Please accept my invitation to dinner. My servant is just now preparing the meal. There may not be a great amount of food, since you are so many, but it should please your palates. He is a grand cook." Then the image of Malick vanished.

   After a few moments, the doors swung open. There was an older human butler standing there, who waved them inside, then scurried off to the kitchen. They stood in Malick's dining hall, a large room with a 30-foot table, surrounded by eleven chairs. The room was lit by many torches with blue flames, and windows in the northeastern and southeastern turrets let in what was left of daylight. On the eastern wall to their left was a massive fireplace, which was currently providing warmth to the room. The western wall had three doors in it, the central one of which presumably led to the kitchen, for the butler had passed through it.

   No artwork hung upon the walls, but within the two turret alcoves and against the north and south walls stood a total of six stone statues. These were clearly carved as impressions of chess pieces yet with actual arms and legs. The two nearest them, by the entrance, were carved to look like knights in armor but with the heads of horses.

   Malick sat at the head of the table, in a comfortable-looking chair. "Do come in, guests. Have a seat."

   As they filed into the room and took their seats, Leokas introduced each of them, using the name "Reginald" to introduce Jayce. They all filled the seats nearest Malick, except for Belvin who sat on the far side of the table by himself.

   "Where can I go if I need to relieve myself of the day's digestion before eating?" Belvin asked.

   Malick stared at him.

   "Please pardon our friend," explained Leokas. "He is a good druid but is not accustomed to civilized society and was not aware that it is rude to request the use of a chamber pot when one has not been granted a guest room."

   Mythlos spoke up. "Could I request that you teach me one of your spells? I am but a wizard in training, and I am certain I could learn much from you."

   Malick chuckled and blushed a little. "Surely, you jest."

   "It is true," said Jayce/Reginald. "People speak about the greatness of your magic."

   "Are these statues magical?" asked Mythlos.

   "I am surprised and honored, and yes, they are magical, but I invited you in not to talk about me but the gem, so please tell me more, Leokas."

   "I easily tracked and pursued the hobgoblin southwest into the Forest of Mir," Leokas began, and he proceeded to share some of the details of their adventures, leaving out how they had stopped to rescue slaves with the Janessar or how it was actually Vashti who slew the hobgoblin. "We learned that the hobgoblin who stole the gem was sent to retrieve it by a powerful master, and we investigated and pursued further into the desert. However, we too were being watched, it seemed. When we arrived in Memnon, it was stolen by the syl-pasha's troops, because they wanted to use the gem to power the minarets on the trade way."

   "This is most unfortunate," said Malick. "I wish that you had come directly back to me with the gem when you first had it. How did anyone else learn about the gem to begin with?"

   "The syl-pasha has many spies," replied Leokas. "And I shall be honest with you: we had the gem identified; we know that it is not a green star sapphire, as you had told me."

   "Most unfortunate, most unfortunate," mumbled Malick. "Few can stand against the syl-pasha and his power."

   "I do apologize;" said Leokas, "however, you...."

   He was interrupted by Jayce. "We may be able to get it back, but it would be high risk. We would be prepared to take that risk, if you...."

   Now Leokas interrupted. "My friend here is overly optimistic, I think. But as I was saying, you were not very honest with us, and that fact put us at far greater risk than I had signed on for. There were many Calishite guards and many hobgoblins, besides other dangerous encounters, that we had to face."

   "I agree with Reginald," said Mythlos. "Surely, once you teach me you teach me your powerful magic, we can recover the gem together!"

   Malick ignored Mythlos and queried Leokas. "Wait, you speak of many hobgoblins? And who was this hobgoblin's master?"

   Jayce answered. "The group of hobgoblins were working in a concerted effort to stop us."

   "They claimed a new god, named Allu, had need for your Omlar gem," said Leokas.

   "Do you know anything more about this so-called god?"

   "We learned that he is an efreeti, a genie of fire," Leokas replied.

   Malick sat back in his chair in shock and remained silent. At that point, the butler re-entered the room, bearing a tray of food, and he began serving each of them in turn over multiple trips. When he came to Jayce, he denied the food. "I have already eaten. Please do not take offense; I greatly appreciate the hospitality, but please give my share to the others who have not eaten today."

   "Fair enough," said Malick, when the butler looked back to him, "I am not offended."

   When they had all been served and were eating the delicious food, Malick said, "Now that my servant has left the room and you have food to eat, let me explain why I have responded with such surprise about what you have just reported to me...."
Session: 29th Game Session - Monday, Mar 03 2014 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — Meant to Meet?
~ eighth-day, 18th of Ches, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Ernest Ford

   Early in the morning, before dawn, there was a terrible storm with wind and thunder. The tree in which Mythlos was trancing had begun shaking, and Shrodinjer began croaking loudly in warning. Mythlos descended quickly and warned the others, and Leokas rushed to construct some shelter for them before the rain began pouring down. (Hakam sheltered in the safety of his tent.)

   Thankfully, Leokas' expertise kept them mostly dry and safe from the wind, and they were spared any lightning strikes. Things cleared up after several hours, and the party, well awake by now, set out again. The river was raging from the rain, and the fields they passed through muddied their animals' hooves and paws.

   They stopped for a break late in the morning at a very tiny thorp called Kiser's Rest, where they were told that they were halfway along the river to Darromar. While there, Leokas stopped and restocked some arrows. "Can you tell me of the terrain ahead to Darromar from here?" he asked the old fletcher.

   "Much th' same as you've exper'enced thus far, no doubt," said the man, "field and farmland."

   "Is this region dangerous? Or has there been an increase in danger lately?"

   "Not partic'arly, saer. But then, most folk don't travel much in these parts."


   When highsun came, they were hailed by someone from the treeline to the north in Elven. Glancing out, they spotted three elves with wildly braided hair, facial, leg, and arm tattoos, and leathers. Hakam reached for his gnomish firearm, but Leokas stayed his hand. "Hold, Hakam."

   "They are wild elves, which are said to be dangerous in these parts," said Hakam.

   "Belvin will speak to them."

   Belvin indeed recognized them as wild elves, his distant kin, and quickly dismounted from Kamil and ran to meet them. The others saw him slap palms together above their heads with the three strangers in some sort of greeting gesture. The four wild elves began talking immediately in Druidic, not Elven, so not even Leokas or Mythlos could understand the conversation.

   After about five minutes, the three strangers turned and disappeared again into the trees. Belvin returned and filled in the others. The elves had been hunting worgs and goblins in the area and had discovered a reduction in the goblin numbers in the last few days. Then, they had come upon a wounded worg in the woods and slain it. Next, they discovered the gutted carcass of another worg, west of a human ferry town. From there they had pursued the party, curious as to who it was that was killing the worgs and goblins, and were soon easily following their tracks in the fresh mud.

   "Be careful," the elves had warned. "If you continue slaying the despised races in this land, you may incur the wrath of their larger tribes. Know you were easy to track."

   The three were from the Wealdath, the great forest of Tethyr to the north, where both wild and wood elves were said to live. They welcomed Belvin there at any time, and passed their greetings on to the elves of Chondalwood.

   "You could have introduced us," said Jayce.

   "Yes," said Belvin.


   Pushing on, the adventurers reached the town of Ithbend by mid-afternoon. This was a larger settlement than the others they had passed since Myratma, and Hakam, Jayce, and Mythlos entered to find a late lunch. Jayce and Mythlos performed together and earned 19 silver pieces, which covered the meal for the three of them. There was some debate about how to split the remaining four silver pieces. Mythlos wanted to split fifty-fifty, but Jayce argued that Mythlos was only singing backup, while he was playing and singing. Mythlos countered that Shrodinjer had also joined in.

   "Actually," said a passing peasant, interrupting. "The frog was an added touch; it's why I gave you that silver coin in the first place."

   Over the quick meal, the three tried to gather some insight into happenings in the area, but all they really heard about were rumors that the queen's oldest child, Princess Sybille, of two years of age, was difficult to discipline.


   The group pushed further on to reach West Branton by dusk. They were now in the Crown Lands, they were told. They also heard a rumor that intrigued Mythlos especially: "A friend o' mine in Dar'mar was tellin' me 'e meets this elf, see, who says a noble sacked 'is village! Which o' the queen's nobles would do that?"

   "When was this?" Mythlos asked the peasant.

   "'Bout sev'ral moons, I reckon."

   "I have no doubt the elf this man's friend met was from my old home," Mythlos told the others afterward.


   They set up camp outside the village, trusting again in the village watch to alert them to any danger in the night. The days of travel were wearing on them, and they all slept or tranced deeply.

   In the middle of the night, Jayce woke with a sudden pain in the front of his right thigh. "Ah!" he called out. The pain was not severe, just a constant throbbing, but it was enough to make him stir. He pushed aside the right leg of his breeches to see a faint glow coming from the tattoo he had there. He had never shared it with the others, but in his past, he had suffered a terrible injury to his leg that would have crippled him, but a strange elven cleric had healed his leg and left the mark on him without an explanation.

   The tattoo had never glowed before.

   "Your leg is glowing," said Belvin, appearing beside Jayce's hammock and holding his sickle at ready and whispering. "Shall I cut it off?"

   "No!" said Jayce.

   "Quiet. Someone or something may be nearby that triggered this magic. Come!" Moving silently, the two walked a ways to the north.

   "It's hurting more, again," whispered Jayce.

   "Good, that means we must be drawing closer to the cause. There!" Belvin pointed toward the tree line. Jayce could not see anything in the darkness. "He's running away!"

   "Stop!" Jayce called out. He quickly abstracted the wire from his pouch while motioning and humming a quick spell. "We're not your enemy," he spoke into the wire. "Why are you running?"

   "You can hear me?" came a male voice from the wire.

   "Yes, by magic. I am a bard from Lantan. You have triggered a magical tattoo I bear, and I must know why."

   There was a pause. "The leaves cease their rustling," said Belvin. "He has stopped."

   "Does the tattoo, by chance,... glow?" queried the voice.

   "Indeed, it does."

   "Who gave it to you?"

   "An elven cleric."

   "Do you serve Erevan?"

   "I would not use the word serve, but, yes, Erevan is my patron."

   "He approaches," noted Belvin. "Shall I shoot him?"

   Jayce shook his head. He still could not see the stranger. Mythlos and Leokas came up beside their companions. "What is going on?" Belvin pointed, and the other two elves nodded.

   A light-weight humanoid, perhaps a few inches shorter than Hakam, stepped closer, dressed in a traveling cloak and wearing a hood. He looked at Jayce and lifted the sleeve of his left arm. There, on his bicep, was a glowing tattoo. "'Tis a strange thing indeed for two humans to follow Erevan Ilesere," said the man, "for two humans to bear tattoos that burn and glow within range of each other, for those same two humans to meet so randomly along a river in Tethyr. I am Mick. I was given this tattoo by a priest of the Trickster in my youth."

   "Surely you were not 'randomly' along the river Ith in the middle of the night," said Jayce. "To where are you heading?"

   "I am heading to Darromar," said Mick.

   "As are we. Are you an adventurer?"

   "I am a free traveler."

   "As Erevan himself."


   "Why were you running?"

   "When I felt the pain in my tattoo, I feared some dark magic was nearby, so I fled."

   "Can you defend yourself?" asked Mythlos.

   "Relax, Mythlos," said Jayce.

   "He made it this far," said Leokas. "But from where?"

   "I spent much time of late in Waterdeep. I wanted to see more of the world."

   Jayce asked him to describe the cleric who had given him the tattoo. The descriptions did not match. "So the clerics were two different individuals," said Jayce. "It's as if Erevan himself wanted us to be together... or else this is just some elaborate joke of his.... Well, if you pay us the party fee of 50 gold pieces, you are welcome to travel with us, at least as far as Darromar."

   Mick half-laughed. "I see you are the one with humor in this party. Who are your companions?"

   The three elves were introduced. Then they had questions of their own for Mick.

   "You have very sharp features for a human," said Mythlos. "Are you fully human, or do you have elven blood mixed in your veins?"

   "I am fully human," said Mick.

   "Do something that would impress us," said Mythlos.

   Mick drew a coin from within a pocket in his cloak and held it between two fingers for them to see. "A Waterdhavian coin," said Mick. "Or is it only your imaginations?" Before their eyes, the coin vanished. Only Leokas' eyes were quick enough to see that with a flick of Mick's fingers, the coin had rolled down the back of his hand and into his sleeve. Leokas kept this knowledge to himself, for the trick was indeed impressive. Instead, he asked, "Tell me, have you had much experience with the hobgoblin kind? What are your thoughts on them?"

   "Usually, they are wicked, despicable creatures."


   "What is your favorite spell?" asked Mythlos.

   "Perhaps Bigby's...?"

   "What are your thoughts on the laws of Tethyr?"

   "I haven't given them much attention, to be honest."

   "What is your favorite weapon?"

   "I fancy the rapier, but any pointed object will do."

   "Have you seen such a sword as this?" Mythlos drew out his moonblade.

   Mick looked at Mythlos strangely. "No, I have no idea what that is, besides being a finely crafted longsword."

   "Let us suppose you were attacked by a human youth under the age of accountability," Mythlos continued. "Would you kill him?"

   "I think, perhaps, that I would rather just pay the 50 gold piece fee and be done with the questions," said Mick.

   "Leave him be, Mythlos," said Jayce.

   So Mythlos ceased his questions, and they all walked back together to the camp, where Mick joined them for the rest of the night.

   Both tattoos ceased their glowing, and the pain, too, went away.
Session: 29th Game Session - Monday, Mar 03 2014 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Viewable by: Public