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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 4 — Fun with Board Games
~ first-day, 1st of Tarsakh, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Malick of Darromar's estate


Leokas knocked on the large oaken doors of Malick's tower, as the five of them stood at the top of the stone steps.

   There was no answer.

   "We break the door down," said Belvin. "No more games."

   "One can't expect everyone to always be home when we come calling," said Leokas. "Maybe he is out shopping for food. Although, I suppose he has a butler for that...."

   "It's been a tenday," said Mythlos. "He should have known we'd be back here when we said."

   "There is a secret door in the back," said Jayce. "It's how I got in the first time."

   "Leokas is right," said Hakam. "Let's just try again in a couple hours."

   "He should have left a message for us," said Jayce.

   "Well, he did not," said Belvin. "I admit that I have grown a liking to the ciders they have in Tethyr. I will permit us to go to that tiny bar nearby and have a few drinks. If Malick is not here when we return again, then we break down the door."

~~~~


At the bar, Jayce asked a few of the commoners if they had seen Malick lately.

   "That stuck-up wizard? No, we never see much of him. Although his butler is often here. I haven't seen him lately either though."

   Malick did not answer when they returned at highsun.

   "Break the door down, Mythlos," ordered Belvin.

   "Secret passage, fellows," said Jayce. "Do you really want to fight his animated statues? Come on; follow me out back."

   He led them to the back side of the building, near the northeast turret. "Careful not to trip on it," said Jayce. He kicked his foot forward, and they heard it strike a wooden object that was invisible to their eyes. "See, there is a flight of tall wooden steps here that he has made invisible. Follow me, carefully."

   "Leokas, what are you doing?"

   Leokas was over by the northern wall of the estate, which was also the northern wall of the city itself. "There are tracks here," he said, "by this bush. Hobgoblins."

   Mythlos put his hand to the hilt of his sword.

   From the top of the invisible steps, they could suddenly see a small porch in front of them, and a door in the wall that had been invisible. Jayce tried the door; it was locked. "I picked it last time," said Jayce, "though it took me forever. It's a pity Mick is back at the keep."

   "What's that on the door?" asked Hakam.

   On the door was an eight-by-eight stained grid, with every other square stained a little more darkly than the others. A collection of dark and light pegs of two different heights were in the center of some of the darker squares, and grooves in the wood ran diagonally through each dark square as well as in arcs through them around the pegs.

   "That was not there last time," said Jayce.

   Leokas, with a new-found fear of traps, immediately stepped away from the door and back down the invisible steps to the ground.

   "I think it is a game of draughts," said Jayce, after examining it closely. "It is a game played commonly by the nobility."

   "Do you know how to play?" asked Belvin.

   "I think so, but it's been a while. I think I should move this piece."

   "Wait!" said Mythlos. "Let's make sure we find the best of all possible moves. We don't want to set off any traps!"

   "Listen to Mythlos!" called Leokas from the ground.

   "What about this piece over here?" They were focused on the light-colored, short peg that was on the lower left corner of the board. After discussing among themselves for several minutes, they slid that peg diagonally up and to the left along a groove.

   The peg slid right back.

   Everyone stood without moving. Had they triggered a trap?

   It seemed that nothing bad happened in response. The game simply had rejected their move.

   "That's a relief," said Hakam.

   "Maybe the light pieces are moving the other way," said Mythlos. He tried sliding the peg down and to the left. It slid back. Mythlos tried moving it up and to the right.

   "Whoa, slow down," said Jayce. "I thought you wanted to think about the best moves."

   "We know now that there is no trap if we make a wrong move," he responded, "so why not just try every combination?"

   "Maybe we only get a set number of bad moves," said Hakam. "Let's still be careful!"

   "Perhaps we are playing the wrong color," said Mythlos. He slid a darker peg at random, and it reverted. There was still no magical effect triggered in response. Hakam sighed in relief.

   "I still think my original move was the best one," said Jayce. "It sacrifices a piece, but it forces a capture from our opponent that gives us a better position."

   "Go for it," said Belvin. So Jayce slid one of the pieces on the right side of the board forward and to the left.

There was a click, which startled them, but the peg remained in its new spot. Then, one of the black pegs moved toward the newly moved piece and moved around it along one of the arced grooves to a new spot. Next, the lighter-colored peg was pulled into the board and disappeared from sight. "A capture," said Jayce.

Mythlos moved his hand to slide another peg, but before he could, one of the lighter pegs moved on its own to double-capture in a V shape. "You have to capture if you can," said Hakam. "It's a forced move for us." Finally, another dark peg on the right side of the board made a capture; then the pegs were still. "It's our turn again," said Jayce.

   After studying the "board" for a bit, they chose their final move, one that would force another capture and set them up for another double capture of their own. The game responded as expected, and then, there was a click, and the door unlocked. "Well done," said Jayce. "Come on in."

~~~~


It was immediately clear that things were amiss. As they filed into a small corner storage room from outside, they found smashed crates with food scattered about and pools of wine and ale from demolished kegs. Two magically burning blue torches shed light. A door to the south and to the west each were slightly open.

   They drew their weapons.

   With musket and bow ready to fire, Hakam and Leokas carefully followed Mythlos as he opened wide the western door and stepped into the main dining hall where a tenday ago they had sat for supper. The chairs were not around the table. They were strewn about the room, the table was flipped on its side, and the rug was rolled up. Malick's fancy chair had had its cushion cut and ripped to shreds. On the west side of the room, the paraphernalia of the fireplace were knocked over and soot was piled outside the fireplace on the floor. The fire was out, and it was rather chilly in the room. Hakam and Leokas kept their weapons aimed at the two stone statues nearest them, with heads in the shape of priests from the game of chess. The statues did not move.

   "So much for his new security system," whispered Jayce. "You were right, Leokas. Hobgoblins have clearly been through here, looking for the gem, I think, but how did they get past the statues?"

   "We haven't activated them yet either," said Leokas.

   "How does one get to the other floors?" asked Jayce. "I was wondering that the last time also. I never found any staircases going either up or down."

   Belvin and Mythlos began peering into the two other rooms on the floor, a kitchen and a small study. The former had pots and pans thrown to the floor; the latter had tumbled bookshelves and overturned chairs.

   "There's another board game in here."

   They gathered in the small study, which was in the southeast turret. On the floor had been tossed a wooden game board, about two inches thick. On one face, three squares were cut. The smallest square was surrounded by a larger one, which was surrounded by the last. The sides of the middle square were bisected by a segment that touched the midpoints of the sides of each of the other squares. This board had similar wooden pegs, of two shades, to the "game" that they had solved to get into the tower. The pegs were at the intersections of the lines.

   "This one is 'nine jhasinnar's dance', I think," said Hakam. "I think the northerners call it 'nine men's morris', though I know not what a 'morris' is."

   "This was the game I was trying to solve when I was captured," said Jayce, "although at that time it was on a table in the dining room."

   "Does anyone know how to play?" asked Belvin.

   "Clearly not, since this is what got me captured before," said Jayce. "I'm more of a cards player."

   "I've seen men play it," said Hakam. "I think you are trying to get three pegs in a row, but I am not certain beyond that."

   "Well, we must make this move first then, regardless," said Mythlos, and he slid down a white piece in its groove between two black ones.

   "Assuming we are white!" exclaimed Hakam.

   It seemed that the move was allowed and correct, for the thick game board made a clicking sound from within. Then, one of the black pegs moved in response.

   "We need to keep the piece that just moved from moving down, else it will be able to get three in a row here." They moved a white peg from the lower-right corner to block. The game responded by moving a black peg across the top.

   "It's trying to cut us off from getting a three-in-a-row of our own," said Mythlos. He moved a white peg up to prevent that from happening. The game made its move.

   "These human games seem pointless," said Belvin. "Surely, whoever goes first will win every time, if he makes the right moves."

   Mythlos moved another white peg. "Now we cannot be stopped." The game responded.

   "That's ridiculous!" said Jayce, in response to Belvin. "Men have been playing these games for centuries. Don't you think they would have figured that out?"

   Mythlos set up the pieces for a three-in-a-row, and the game made another move in response.

   "Ha! Three in a row," said Jayce, as Mythlos moved the third piece into place.

   The game board clicked; no black pegs moved.

   "Is that it? Did we win?"

   Leokas peered into the dining room. "I don't think anything happened out here. The statues are all still motionless as well."

   "Maybe the mechanism is broken," suggested Mythlos.

   "I thought you said we needed three in a row," said Belvin to Hakam.

   "That's part of the game, but I didn't say that was all of it. I've never played before. In fact, in the games I've seen, the players were adding pieces to the board, not sliding them around."

   "So it might not even be the same game!" Belvin threw his arms into the air.

   "Maybe it's waiting for us to do something else," said Jayce.

   "Let's just make the next move for black and see what happens," said Mythlos. So he touched one of the black pegs to slide it, and immediately, it was pulled into the board.

   "That was unexpected," he said. In response, another black piece moved on its own.

   "That must be how one captures," said Jayce. "So now it is our turn again." They moved one of the white pegs out of its three-in-a-row position, and black took its turn.

   "Now we can just move our piece right back for another three-in-a-row," said Jayce.

   "No, don't do that!" said Hakam. "In most games, you cannot ever repeat the state of the board."

   "It's not repeating it; last time we had three-in-a-row, there was an additional black peg on the board and another has moved since then."

   "Even so, it feels unfair, like cheating."

   "Everything feels like cheating to you," said Belvin.

   "Let's just move this peg here;" said Mythlos, "we can get three in a row two moves after that anyhow."

   This time, there was no clicking sound. Instead, the peg slid back to its place, and they heard the sound of grinding stone from the dining hall. Leokas, who had been standing guard at the door, immediately nocked and loosed a magic arrow. It struck the horse-headed chess-piece statue in the right eye, chipping away a small piece of stone, but the animatron raised its stone longsword and readied to charge.

   Hakam was surprising fast on his feet. Shoving Leokas aside, he waved his arms at the statue and shouted out with a voice of authority, "Strands of the Weave, be undone!"

   The statue stopped in its tracks and looked as if it had never moved at all, a lifeless chunk of stone.

   "What magic was that?" asked Jayce. "Not that I am not thankful for it."

   "One for which I have been petitioning my god for a while," Hakam replied. "It seems he answered my prayer this dawn."

   Back at the game board, Jayce made the move he wanted to in the first place, returning the one peg back to its three-in-a-row position. This time, there was a click. Moreover, they also heard a loud click from in the hall.

   "A spot in the far wall has slid open," called Leokas, "and none of the other five statues seem to be moving."

   "Told you that move was legal," said Jayce.

   Mythlos, as usual, led the way to the opening. It had revealed a curved staircase going up. As he stepped onto it, the wall began sliding shut again. Everyone rushed forward. Hakam cleared the closing wall and then tried to wedge it open. To their relief, as soon as he touched it, it began moving back into an open position.

~~~~


The second floor was a complete mess, just like the first. This floor had several rooms, a large, 30-foot-by-40-foot central living room, a nearly-as-large master bedroom on the west side, and a guest room and another study on the east side. All of them had been ransacked. Malick's mattress had been slashed and shredded, no book on the floor remained on its shelf, and every chest and dresser had been bashed open and every chair and side table overturned.

   "Things do not look well for Malick," said Leokas. "Let's pray he was not home when all this happened. I am disturbed that the game downstairs was not already solved. How did the hobgoblins make it up here."

   "Maybe the game resets after one wins," said Jayce.

   "Still, hobgoblins shouldn't be that intelligent," said Leokas.

   "I think you are overly biased in your opinions of their intelligence, my friend," said Belvin.

   The only things left untouched on the floor were four more statues, these ones carved with the heads of chess pawns. They stood guard at the four corners of the living room.

   "If there are more guards, there must be another game to solve," said Jayce.

   Mythlos agreed. "This wall here likely slides open to reveal another staircase up when it is solved."

   It did not take long for them to find another board game. It had been tossed under the demolished couch near the large, south-facing window.

   "Ah, chess, the game of kings and queens," said Jayce. "I heard that Queen Zaranda received a magical chess set carved from permanently frozen ice on her wedding day...."

   "Now is not the time for stories, Jayce," said Leokas. "We must get to the top of this tower."

   As on the other boards, the pieces were attached to the board and slid along on grooves.

   "Chess I know how to play," said Hakam. "The pieces must be going from this side to this side; there's no way one could get that many pawns across the board."

   "Can we safely assume we are white again?" asked Mythlos.

   They agreed with him.

   With most of them working together at a game with which they were more familiar, they solved the puzzle much more quickly. First, they moved their knight-errant down and to the left to threaten black's rook. There was a click, followed by the black rook moving up to defend the king. The party moved their knight-errant toward the rook to place the black king in check. There was another click, and the black king piece fell to the side.

   "That's not checkmate yet," said Jayce.

   "It forfeited," said Hakam.

   "We'd have mate in two moves," said Mythlos.

   The segment of wall behind them slid to the side, revealing another staircase.

~~~~


The third floor seemed more like the abode of a wizard than the previous two. Except for the space of the four turrets at the corner, the entire floor was a 70-foot-by-40-foot open room. The two eastern turrets had doors, while the two western ones were closed off with curtains. As on the other floors, everything here had been overturned or destroyed and searched.

   There was one very noticable exception. Filling a large portion of the western half of the room was a 20-foot-in-diameter circle drawn in white chalk. Around the circle were a dozen gems of differing colors and two dozen candles. Within the center of the circle, a tiny, otherworldly creature squatted. It was bald and naked and had cloud white skin and wings that drooped to the ground in a depressed manner. On a second glance, they realized that it did not seem to have legs; instead, its upper body seemed to rest on a pool of almost coporeal cloud. Where the cloud ended and its upper torso began were not clear.

   As soon as they all stepped unto the floor and Hakam saw the circle, he cautioned the others, "Don't break the circle!"

   "What is it?"

   "Is it Malick's familiar?" asked Mythlos.

   "Not in a calling circle," said Hakam.

   "It looks very impish to me," said Jayce. "Folk in the tales often call forth lesser demons or devils, but I expected an imp to be red or black, not white."

   "Evil can be deceptive like that," said Hakam.

   The little creature lifted up its head to see them, revealing its pale, sad face.

   "It could also be a mephit, I think," said Jayce.

   "Yes, yes, a mephit I am," said the creature, in a high-pitched and airy voice. "An air mephit. Are you here to free me, friendly elves and humans? Please, please, please!"

   Jayce waved his hands and spoke a word. "It has a magical aura."

   "Of course I do!" said the little creature. It hovered up to its full height of four feet, and the cloud below formed into a sort of funnel, such that the being looked like a cross between a djinni and an imp.

   "What is your name?" Jayce asked.

   "You would probably not be able to pronounce it," said the mephit.

   "Well, perhaps you can help us, Saer Mephit with the Unpronounceable Name," said Jayce.

   "Yes, yes, if you let me out, I will give you treasure."

   "I don't believe you have any treasure to give us," Jayce replied. "There is no need to lie to us. We are not here to harm you. Perhaps you can answer our questions though. Have you seen any hobgoblins?"

   "Yes, yes. Four or five of them. Hairy, smelly, big goblins. I told them I would give them treasure, but they did not let me free either. I just want to go back to my home."

   "Where is your home?"

   "The Plane of Air. It is much nicer than this place. Too much rock and wood and stone here. Not enough air; not enough clouds; no breeze. How can you materials live inside these stone and wooden boxes? Will you let me go back?"

   "Why did Malick call you here in the first place? What did he want?"

   "You material wizards are always calling poor, innocent creatures like me, always trapping us and boring us with endless questions, always trying to study us and learn about our home. You would think, with all the other mephits in my world, that calling magics would be more random in their targets, but I have been called twice in my life, twice!"

   "That is terrible, but you didn't really answer my question. What did Malick want from you in particular? It would help us more than treasure if you answered us."

   "Treasure would help quite a bit," protested Mythlos.

   "He just had the same sort of questions as the other wizard who called me last time," said the air mephit. "He wanted me to read him this book here." The white creature pointed at a large tome on the ground in the middle of the circle. "It is written in my language, and he wanted to know what certain pages said."

   "What did they say?"

   "Don't make me read them again!" protested the outsider. "The book is about spells of illusion and air, lots of things about magical fogs and mirages and such things. None of you are wizards, no? It will mean nothing to you."

   "I'm a wizard!" said Mythlos.

   "When did you last see Malick?" asked Jayce.

   "A few days ago, before the goblins came. I have been sitting here trapped ever since. I cried out but no one heard me."

   "That is truly horrible, but I fear it is bad news for Malick. Tell me more about the hobgoblins. Where did they go? What did they want?"

   "They had another human with them. They were mean to him. They broke all the things. They went up the hidden stairs. When they came down, there were fewer of them."

   "Where was Malick?"

   "He was upstairs."

   "But he didn't come down?"

   "No."

   "He is likely dead," said Leokas.

   "Serves him right for trapping me!" said the mephit. "Is it time to go home? Have I helped you enough?"

   "Just a few more questions, and we'll set you free," said Jayce. "Was the other wizard who called you named Samber?"

   "No. His name was Drickendorf. Such a silly name. Why do wizards always have such silly names?"

   "Have you ever heard of anyone named Samber?"

   "No, never. No."

   "I don't think this creature can help us any more than it has," said Belvin. "Let it free."

   "One more question for you, good mephit," said Jayce. "You are from the Plane of Air; how well do you get along with the djinn there?"

   "They ignore us. They look down on us. We are not as noble or powerful as they are. Time to go home! Time to go home! You must keep your word." Its cloudy lower portions began swirling in a tiny whirlwind and its wings unfurled.

   "Yes, we gave our word," said Jayce. He rubbed out an inch of chalk from the circle. A rainbow-colored flame flashed around the circumference of the circle, the candles were suddenly snuffed out, and the mephit vanished with a puff of steam.

   "He was not very helpful," said Mythlos.

   "No, but his tale does not bode well for Malick," said Leokas. "Let us find the final game I assume we have to solve and find what has come of him."

   Mythlos began pocketing the gems that were around the calling circle.

   "Put those down, Mythlos!" said Hakam. "Until we learn otherwise, those are still Malick's property."

   "What is over here?" asked Belvin, as Mythlos set the gems back down. "Something is alive in this cage."

   They gathered around the four-foot wooden cube with bars. Crouching down, they saw a tiny, furry animal, curled up in a ball and barely breathing. It had uneaten food in its cage.

   Mythlos stuck his hands in and removed the little animal. "A weasel, I think," he said. "This is probably Malick's familiar."

   "Was it seems," said Belvin. "This animal is depressed."

   "Can a familiar live if its master dies?" asked Jayce.

   "We'll soon learn the answer to that. Give the weasel to me." Belvin took the animal and snuggled it to his chest, speaking to it in gentle whispers. "It will be fine."

   Also on this floor, they found a magic mirror that they could not figure out how to activate, a telescope, an alchemy laboratory, and another storage room. There, they found a broken chest with exactly 20 platinum bars in it.

   "That's 10,000 gold pieces," said Mythlos.

   "So he did keep his word," said Jayce.

   "And the hobgoblins were not interested in money," said Leokas.

   It took a while to find the magical puzzle with which to open the door to the final staircase because of the chaotic mess. Rather, it took a long time to find all of the pieces. Unlike the others, this one did not seem to be a board game. The board had four rows. In each row, there were three rectangles with symbols within and a fourth rectangular slot where another card-shaped piece was intended to fit. In each row, one of the four rectangles had a marking below it. After staring at it for a while, they at last recognized what it was.

   "It's a Talis game," said Jayce. "See, these are pentacles; these are wands; this is the wheel card; this is the hierophant."

   "Ah, you are right," said Hakam. "I wager these markings imply which player led for that hand. We need to select the four best cards to play."

   "But where are our cards?"

   "And where are the statues?" asked Hakam.

   "There aren't any on this floor," said Mythlos. "I wonder what happens if we make an incorrect move."

   Searching together, they were able to find four wooden cards, what they presummed to be the fool, justice, the devil, and the world.

   "All trump," said Jayce.

   "Let's figure out how we can win the most hands," said Mythlos. Within a few minutes, they had easily figured out how to score the most points. They set the four wooden cards into the available slots, and the hidden doorway slid open. They drew their weapons and headed up the stairs.

~~~~


The final floor of the tower was a grim scene of horror. At the very top of the stairs, they stumbled over Malick's butler, his throat slit, and nearly slipped in his blood. They saw Malick sitting in a sort of throne on the other side of the room beyond a round, shallow pool. They then realized that his head was not on its shoulders; it was seen in a corner of the room, impaled on a stick. Two hobgoblin bodies were also there. One had had its head bashed in. The other had no visible wounds whatsoever. Chess king and queen statues were crumbled into pieces.

   "Allu is going to come for us next," said Leokas.
Session: 35th Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 11 2014 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 4 — The Duel
The party of adventurers, with the prisoners they had just rescued, were now escorted back among Gargon's troops. They were talking in low voices amongst themselves, discussing what factors they might be able to use to turn the tide of the upcoming battle in favor of Mythlos.

   "Perhaps we can convince him to allow us a night's rest to replenish our spells," suggested one of them. "Then we can prepare you magically for battle, boosting your strength and endurance."

   "I will lose the special power of my sword in this moonlight," said Mythlos, "if we fight tomorrow."

   "He will be sure to have his own spellcasters boost his own abilities," said another.

   "Perhaps we can convince him to agree to a fight with no magical enhancements from outside persons," suggested Mythlos.

   They sent Jayce forward through the group to request a word with Gargon. He made his way back to them several minutes later. "He agrees to your proposal; however, he also insists that the fight be melee weapons only."

   "No matter," said Mythlos, "I would rather swing my sword than use my shortbow. Surely you know this."

   "You will be faster than he in his dragonhide armor, though," said Leokas. "The bow could have been in your favor."

   "Well, not anymore," said Jayce. "That also eliminates the magic bells as an option."

   "You can wear the periapt of health," said Leokas, "for the odd chance that he has a disease-infested flail head."

   "Or the ring of feather falling," said Hakam.

   "I don't see myself falling any great distance," said Mythlos. "No, keep both items; if I should fall tonight, at least he will not be able to claim the items as loot for himself from my dead body."

   "You will not fall," said Faelar. "Do not talk like that."

   "You should at least carry my healing potions into battle," said Hakam.

   "And mine," said Mick.

   "Here," said Jayce, "wear this potion belt. I have no potions in it at the moment. It will give you quick access to the vials."

~~~~


They walked the rest of the night journey in silence, except for Jayce, who could not resist an opportunity to get on good terms with some of Gargon's soldiers.

   "You seem a nice fellow," said one of the men to him, "but I cannot betray my lord. I am a man of honor, and I have sworn my fealty to him. Surely you must understand this. I will pray Tymora smiles on you, though it seems like you will go free regardless of what happens tonight. No, I fear rather for that moon elf friend of yours; I have never seen Gargon lose in single combat."

   "Is he that great a fighter?" asked Jayce. "Whom have you seen him fight?"

   "I have only seen a couple such battles," said the man. "The opponents were no persons of great import, but they were trained fighters nonetheless, and Gargon thoroughly overpowered each."

   "Is it true that Gargon has slain a dragon?"

   "That is the story."

   "What do you mean by that?"

   "I was not there; thank the gods!"

~~~~


It was now a few hours before dawn. It was still dark, though a half moon shone in the sky. Mythlos' sword glowed more brightly because of this, as he stood in the courtyard of Gargon's keep next to his grandfather, looking and feeling nervous about the combat that was about to begin.

   "Do not be overly confident in your power, my son," said Gargantos, as he saw to it that Mythlos' studded leather armor was tightly strapped around his torso. "Arrogance will lead to defeat. Nor be overly cautious. Be confident, yet careful. Patient, yet powerful."

   On the other side of the courtyard, Sir Gargon stood as his "second", another man in full plate armor, adjusted Gargon's red armor and handed him his large flail. All around the three walls of the courtyard, men (or elves) alternated — one of Gargon's men standing next to one of the adventurers. Each pair stood close together with a weapon at the other's heart or neck, to prevent treachery.

   The rules were thus: On signal, when each of the seconds had dropped a white cloth, the battle would begin. The combatants were not to leave the courtyard, but could use the various items in the courtyard as cover "to make the battle more interesting". The fight would be either to the death or till one combatant yielded to the other. Magic was permitted, but only under the power or command of one of the combatants.

   "Sehanine guide you with her light," said Gargantos, and he dropped his cloth.

   "Your cousin awaits you in the afterlife," shouted Leokas from the wall in the Goblin tongue, hoping to shake up Gargon.

   "Mythlos will cut you in two!" shouted Jayce.

   "You've slain a dragon, lord," shouted one of Gargon's men. "You will slay this elf in a single swing."

   Gargon lowered his visor, and his second dropped the cloth. The onlookers grew silent as the battle began.

   Immediately, Mythlos pulled a scroll from his belt and hurriedly read it out, as Gargon approached him cautiously with his back against the southern wall toward the gate. Mythlos, feeling a surge of strength flowing through him, yelled out and charged at Gargon, tossing the now blank scroll to the ground. With a powerful uppercut swing, he struck Gargon under his right arm, at a weak point in his armor, spraying a small amount of blood.

   "Huzzah!" shouted Jayce from the wall. "First blood!"

   "Well done, my son!" said Gargantos, as he moved to the back corner.

   Their excitement turned to fear, however, as a return blow from Gargon's flail to the chest knocked Mythlos back a yard and nearly off his feet with a resounding thump. Gargon swung a second attack before Mythlos could even respond. Thankfully, this second attack whizzed just over his shoulder.

   The wind knocked from him, Mythlos stumbled back to the base of the stone stairs going up to the walls, touching the flat of his sword to draw healing from the blade.

   "The little elf runs away already, after only a single swing," taunted Gargon. Cheers from his men came from the walls in response. He walked confidently toward Mythlos while swinging the head of his flail threateningly around his head.

   Mythlos retreated across the courtyard to take shelter behind a horse cart that rested there near the pig pen. (Gargantos gave him space by hopping over the short fence into the pen.) Mythlos took this chance to down a vial of healing potion, as Gargon continued coming.

   "He's probably back to full health now," warned Gargon's second.

   "No matter," said Gargon. "Let him waste his potions; I can kill him in a single blow." He stood on the other side of the cart from Mythlos now. "You cannot run from me forever, elf," he said.

   In response, Mythlos took hold of the cart and flipped it over to its side and onto Gargon, tossing its contents of hay and pig feed into the air and all over Gargon's red armor. He rushed around the flipped cart and swung a solid blow at Gargon, whose feet were pinned under it.

   Enraged, Gargon flipped the cart back onto its wheels and off his own feet, but as he did so, Mythlos connected with another blow, striking Gargon under the chin and nearly snapping back his neck. He stumbled backward.

   "Strike him again!" shouted Hakam.

   "Don't test your luck!" called out Leokas.

   Fearing that Gargon could indeed kill him with one blow, he followed the latter advice, choosing to move back and hop into the pen from which he began to cast a sleeping spell. The pigs grunted in fear and moved to the corners of the pen, as Mythlos leapt in and Gargantos leapt out. (The latter stumbled to his knees.)

   "You are a crafty elf," said Gargon, as he chugged a potion of his own and then laughed. The sleeping spell seemingly had no effect on him. "From now on, however, no more games," he said angrily, as he shoved the cart aside and approached the pen, swinging his flail through the air in a tight circle. He struck the flail at the fence of the pen, sending wood splintering in all directions. He now stood a mere ten feet from Mythlos, who was trapped in the corner of the courtyard and the muddy pen.

   "Trip him, pig," shouted Hakam. He hoped that no one else would realize that he was trying to magically command the pig, deciding for once that cheating might be permissible in this case. Belvin, hearing this, also started grunting and snorting.

   The one pig did not respond; however, Mythlos had a quick idea. He grabbed the pig nearest him and tossed the 200-pound animal between him and Gargon. It landed, squealing, and rushed out of the pen through the broken fence, momentarily preventing Gargon from getting any closer to Mythlos for another attack.

   Mythlos then attempted another spell but muddled the hand motions.

   Gargon kicked at the second pig, as it too scrambled past him to escape the pen. "This ends now, coward," Gargon shouted at Mythlos as he swung again. This time, he was not aiming at Mythlos' head or torso; instead, he wrapped the chain of his weapon around his opponent's blade and yanked forcefully. Time seemed to slow for Mythlos, as he watched his sword fly into the air, dim, and land deep in the mud a yard away.

   He dove to the ground, smacking the mud, as the flail struck his right arm. He yelled in pain, but his hands found the sword, and he somersaulted back to his feet, returning a desperate but weak swing that simply glanced off the dragon scales of Gargon's armor.

   Gargon brought his flail directly down on Mythlos' left shoulder with intense force, dropping him to one knee. Before he could even stand straight again, Gargon followed through with an uppercut that tossed Mythlos' body against the wall.

   Mythlos was about to collapse, but he would not go down easily. With all his might he delivered one final blow to the top of Gargon's head. Gargon yelled out and stumbled, looking like he was about to tumble over also, but then he spun around, using the momentum of his spin to strike with extra force. Mythlos was thrown against the wall a second time. His head stuck the stone, and he sunk slowly to the ground, leaving a smear of blood on the wall and dropping his sword to the ground. His body then lumped forward and was still.

   "My daughter's son!" cried Gargantos.

   Gargon tossed the flail aside and approached his unconscious opponent. "Now, old elf," he said to Gargantos, see what it feels like to watch one of your relatives be beheaded." He took hold of Mythlos' hair and pulled, exposing the neck, while he reached down and picked up the elven moonblade.

   Gargantos closed his eyes and shouted to the sky, "Queen of the Heavens, mercy!"

   Gargon raised the sword high, ready to bring it down on Mythlos.

   There was an intense burst of light. What appeared to be blue and white flames erupted from the moonblade, traveling down Gargon's arm and drowning him in fire. Gargon convulsed violently for several seconds, as if he were being electrocuted, as raw magical energy consumed his flesh. His body tumbled backward like a stone and landed in the mud of the pen. The moonblade fell next to him and quickly cooled to the color of steel. Black smoke could be seen coming out of Gargon's visor.

   Everyone on the wall was silent and motionless. What had just happened?

   "The sword refused a new master," said Gargantos quietly.

   "Who won?" questioned Jayce from the wall.

   Gargon's second rushed forward, and Gargantos stepped to his grandson's limp form.

   "He has a pulse!" exclaimed the elder Moonspinner.

   "And he... does not," said the man in plate armor.

   A cheer went up from the adventurers on the wall.

   Gargon's second removed his helmet and placed it on the ground before him. Then he placed his axe beside it with both hands. "The keep is yours," he said, "and all the men who reside within it."

   Carefully, everyone lowered their weapons and placed them at their feet.

   Hakam leapt from the wall and floated gently (by the magic of his ring) to the ground beside Mythlos and Gargantos, where he cured Mythlos and brought him back to consciousness.

   "I am alive?" he asked, confused.

   "More than that," said Gargantos. "You have won. It is over."
Session: 34th Game Session - Monday, May 12 2014 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
Session Recap
In the last two sessions...

Rather then sticking around town waiting on elders to come and have tea, our adventurers lust for combat, and so go out to slay some ooze, which they heard there was a problem with.

They head towards some ruins that were pointed out to them as a place that some artifacts were being looked for, as well as has a great infestation of ooze. But, not knowing the properties of the ooze they were looking for, a couple of party members literally stepped in the ooze. Some members even lost their clothing to it.

Thinking it would be a great idea, someone threw powdered water onto the already mostly water creature... creating something so large, that there was worry that they may have unleashed a power onto the land that no force could stop... but it turns out the thing was really slow. They slowly killed the poor creature while luring it around the jungle. They maybe destroyed a lot of trees.

Afterwards, after stumbling onto the opening of the ruins, they decided to explore...

Soon after, they found a couple rust monsters, a large pile of discarded automatons, and one nearly working one. Inspecting the nearly working machine, they decided to make use of the ruins, bringing the thing back to life.

It was discovered that the soul of an elf was in the body of a machine, and after much questioning they came the conclusion that he was the guardian of the defunct library. Curious to know the state of other temples and libraries that were in Sapear a long long long time ago, he has joined the party.

After some information gathering by the paladin, they headed south to where they knew there was a large temple, and where their new friend pointed out there used to be an old one.

A carefully planned ruse got them into the gates, posing as helpless poor people. They supped, bated, and were provided robes, black robes. They proceeded to put them on, but soon found something was wrong... the robes were laced with some sort of poison or magic, or both.

We leave out heros in a dungeons deep in the main temple in south Sapear. Where they have found -some- of the clerics...
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Joshua
Posted by the GM
Far West
Dawn over the Fallen Angel
In the town of Riverfork marked as “An Ugly Town I Chose not to Remain” on Amble's map trouble rolled into town. Three strangers meet in The Fallen Angle the local tea house.n Mikasi a female werecoyote impersonates a waitress. While Yi Guei talks to an agitated bartender. This dosen't last long as members of the Rusty Tie gang burst into the tea house. The tong members spoke first asking Yi to go with them to which Yi politely refused, The gang reached for iron but Yi was faster.

The fight was fast with Yi shooting and Mikasi attacking. The two captured a member of the Rusty Ties who agreed to take them to Lin Barclay, the leader of the gang. On the way they meet Jìmò Jiàntóu another travler with buisness with the tongs. Who was giving a brutal demonstration of his martial prowess in an impromptu area. After another tussle Lin surrenders Yi agrees ot take him in however this is not enough for Mikasi.

Urged on by the ghosts of her murdered parents Mikasi used her recently acquired horse and wagon to try to run over Lin, who was standing next to Yi at the time. Yi grabbed Lin and rode off to the jail thinking it might be safer there.

Upon reaching the Jail Ti called out for a noble champion from the town to guard this new prisoner. Tang Orland a woman form the village stepped forward. From their newly acquired prisoner they learned Xuánwu would be visiting town to check up on him in a-few weeks. So the group prepares for his arrival.

However it only takes Lin Barclay two days to make good on his escape. This prompts the party to go after him. However they soon find themselves riding into cursed lands. Toward the Resplendent Giant .one of the greatest fury engines ever built. As they approached this tainted land the group encountered a Thunder Bird Court.

Jìmò suggested that the birds would scatter if a loud noise was herd so Yi obliges by shooting a-few rounds into the air which disperses the court. As the group rides on Mikasi notes the presence of spirits in the bluffs.

Soon they find Lin being attacked by a giant scorpion. After some debate then kill the scorpion and capture Lin. Yi plunges his knife through Lin's hand pinning him to an impromptu hitching post. After several minutes of failing to interrogate the screaming gang leader they put him out of his misery. Then lopping his head off after several more minutes of his corpse screaming. Jìmò suggesting burning the body and Yi grabs the head to bring back as proof of death as Jìmò and Mikasi burn the body.

Advancement
The party received a Significant Milestone.
Session: First Play Session - Wednesday, Mar 12 2014 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — Aftermath
   "Argh!" moaned Jayce in pain, as he rolled the magically slumbering gnoll off himself. "You... shot me..., Leokas."

   "Forgive me, Jayce. I thought I had the shot." Leokas approached him. "It's through your lung. You will live. Don't move. This will hurt, but it will be quick." He yanked the shaft clean out of the front of Jayce's chest, as the latter screamed in pain, arching his back. "Mythlos! Your sword, quick." Mythlos rushed over and touched the flat of his blade to the wound twice. It sealed up, and Jayce sighed in relieve.

   "Save your third healing for the captain," said Jayce. "He and I deserve a smoke after this."

   Romar already had the same idea; his pipe was out and he was reaching for his flintstone and tobacco as Kyrin and Hakam looked him over. "I'll be fine now, Milady" he muttered. "Your prayer saved me, good cleric. For that, I thank you." He did not look fine; the scar around his neck made it appear as if his head had been glued back on. Mythlos touched his sword to the man's shoulder, and more positive energy flowed out.

   The countess stood. "We must search the rest of this lair," she said, "before any reinforcements arrive. One of you, remove the gnoll's armor. Tie it up tightly." Leokas complied, using one of his strongest knots.

   "Two of you, drag him to the surface to be guarded. When he awakes we'll question him. Return with several of the men. We may need assistance carrying loot or evidence from this demon-hole."

~~~~


   Belvin and Leokas carried the unconscious gnoll to the surface, where they found that the waiting cavalry men had slain the fleeing hyena. They were joyful upon hearing the news of the successful attack and reported that the men on horseback who had been scouting the perimeter had reported no sign of any other gnolls. Three of them volunteered to descend back into the cave with the elves, while the rest guarded the bound gnoll.

   They made their way by torchlight to the others in the chamber from which the hyenas had come. The room was large and roughly rectangular, with an eight-foot deep pit full of bones and hyena dung. A wooden ramp had been lowered into it to allow the hyenas to exit. On the opposite corner, the rest of the group was trying to talk to an old and ragged man that Mythlos had seen earlier when he had quickly explored the area. The man cowered on the ground. Most of his white hair had fallen out. Jayce had given him a swig of his water and a portion of rations, which the man ravenously gobbled up.

   "Greetings, friend," said Jayce. "I see you are hungry. We can get you more food later. You can trust us. What is your name?"

   The man stared blankly.

   "Why are you here?"

   The man continued staring.

   "Are you hurt?"

   "No,... no pain."

   "When is the last time you've seen the sun?"

   "Sun?"

   "Who are you?" asked Mythlos.

   "Can't... remember."

   "Where are you from?" Jayce asked. "Do you remember that?"

   The man was silent.

   "What do you do here?" tried Romar.

   "Work."

   "He's a slave," said Mythlos.

   "Are there other humans here?" asked Kyrin.

   The man shook his head.

   "Have there been?"

   The man looked at the ground as if he did not hear the question.

   "Anachtyr, show me his thoughts," Hakam prayed in Alzhedo. "His mind seems incoherent," he reported to the others, once his spell came into effect.

   "You can read minds?" asked Belvin. "Couldn't that be considered stealing?"

   Hakam ignored the elf. "I think this poor soul is insane from the torture."

   Belvin nocked an arrow. "Let's end his misery then," he said. "He is only a burden to himself and to us."

   "No!" said Kyrin sternly. "Hakam and Jayce, escort this man to the surface; then return to the central chamber, where we will be going through the gnoll corpses."

   As they walked with the old man, Jayce asked Hakam, "What does the law dictate that we do to any monsters we capture alive."

   "Monsters have no legal standing," replied Hakam. "They are not protected."

   "So they should be killed without trial."

   The cleric nodded. "If they have done evil, yes."

   "Light!" said the old man suddenly. It was not a tone of delight; he covered his eyes and stopped moving forward.

   "He has forgotten the sun," said Hakam, "remember?"

   "Here," said Jayce to the man, "let me put these on you." He placed his sun lenses on the man, who now seemed content to move forward out into the daylight, where they handed off the man into the care of the guards.

~~~~


   In the large chamber, they joined the others in looking around the fallen and burned bodies of the gnolls. Their camp fire was now extinguished, and the awful stench of gnoll was now unmasked from the smell of burning wood. They found a spattering of coins and small trinkets, the most notable being a silver comb embedded with moonstones.

   "When I quickly searched around earlier, there were several unarmed gnolls in that direction," said Mythlos pointing to the east.

   "The smell would get worse from that direction," noted Kyrin. They approached a ten-foot chamber opening and entered a smaller square-ish room. There was a pit in the center, about ten feet in diameter. The stench was nauseating from the pit, and swarms of flies buzzed about. Across the pit, along the far wall, seven naked gnolls sat crouched, acting indifferent to the intruders.

   "This must be their refuse pit," said Romar.

   Jayce called out to the gnolls, "Do you speak Common?" They did not reply or even so much as turn their heads.

   "If you speak Common, answer us, or we will kill all of you." Kyrin drew a javelin from her back. There was no response.

   She drew back her arm, but Leokas stayed her throw. "What if they are children, milady?"

   "They are easily seven-foot tall when standing;" she answered, "they cannot be their young. Besides, this is the lair of a warband, not a tribe. If we do not kill them, they will be out raiding tomorrow."

   "How much do you think a gnoll head sells for at The Fine Gold Chain?" asked Belvin to no one in particular.

   Kyrin eyed him strangely. Then she said to her captain, "Captain Burnhill, set a guard here with one of the men. We will interrogate the gnoll sergeant first before determining the fate of these."

   "Yes, milady."

   "Mythlos, where to next? Take us away from this smell and filth."

   "They had some sort of altar this way," he replied, and they walked north a short distance into another opening, passing into an oval room. While this room smelled better, it was far more disturbing. Against the north wall, in a large pile, was a collection of skulls, most of them clearly human, but there were a few other humanoid skulls as well; the tiny skulls of halflings and the sharply angled skulls of elves were easily spotted. Hanging on the eastern wall was a hideously carved idol, the deformed shape of a gnoll with needle-like teeth protruding and a long, barbed demon tail. The deity portrayed seemed familiar to Jayce from one of the tales he had read on his travels, but he could not place it. On the southern wall was a large cave painting, likely painted with blood. It portrayed a pack of hyenas devouring fleeing little demons or imps with horns and barbed tails. Then, there was the image of an enormous, pregnant hyena, lying on her back and giving birth to a multitude of gnolls through what looked to be an exaggerated male appendage. (Leokas recalled that Stedd Buckman had once explained to him his belief that hyenas were hermaphrodites.)

   "It's their history," stated Mythlos.

   Belvin approached the large stone slab in the center of the chamber. It was covered in sticky, dried blood. "Some of this is fresh," he said. Then, he dipped a finger in a small pool and tasted a bit of it. "Horse blood," he said.

   "Rhinda had a horse," said Hakam.

   "Not any more," said Belvin.

   "Where is the body of the horse?" asked Leokas.

   "Perhaps they already consumed it," said Jayce.

   "Let us leave this unholy place," said Hakam.

   No one needed any convincing at that suggestion.

   "We have not explored further into the cave at the back of the large chamber," said Mythlos. "Come." He led the way, followed by Hakam. Jayce and Kyrin were in the rear.

   "I would ask you a question, if you would permit me, milady," the bard said to Kyrin.

   "Ask."

   "Forgive me, for I should have thought to ask you this sooner, but the woman we are searching for is named Rhinda. She looks very similar to you. She is not, I fear, a relation of yours?"

   "I have six siblings," answered Kyrin, "but none are named Rhinda. I do not know the woman you seek."

   A snarl interrupted their conversation. A hyena had leapt at Mythlos from a small side tunnel. Hakam and then Mythlos swung their swords and swiftly killed the animal. "Good posture, Hakam," said Mythlos. "You listened to what I taught you yesterday."

   "Thank you," said Hakam. Then he called to the rest, "The hyena seemed to have been guarding this small tunnel here. There is a wooden door at the end."

   "That probably leads to the same door in the room with the hyena pit," said Leokas. "Belvin and I will block escape from that way." The two of them rushed off.

   Mythlos led the way down the short tunnel and opened the door, which was unlocked. It swung in, revealing a ten-by-fifteen-foot room carved out of the stone. In one corner was a pile of leaves and hay; in the other was a stone slab that seemed to serve as a desk. Hakam let Bevlin and Leokas into the room from the second door on the north wall, while Jayce approached the "desk". "There is a leather journal here," he said, picking it up. Flipping through the pages, he could not recognize the scratchy letters or the language. "Can anyone speak Gnoll?" he asked. No one could.

   "We'll force our prisoner to read it for us," said Kyrin. "This was likely its chamber. I do not think it was the leader of the pack. Be careful still; another battle may still await us."

   They left the room and returned to the large central chamber. "There is a little alcove over here," noted Hakam. In the small space was a pit, surrounded by a very short wall of rounded stones. "The air smells fresher here," said Hakam.

   Leokas found a stone and dropped it in the pit. Shortly, they heard a splash. "A well."

   Hakam prayed for his eyes to be open to magical auras and peered over the edge. "I see nothing magical," he informed the others.

   Only one passage more remained to be explored, to the south, at the back of the cave. The wide tunnel curved a bit to the left and opened into an even larger cavern chamber than the central one. In one corner their torchlight revealed a large collection of sacks. On the far walls, they could make out chains and manacles. In the center of the large room was a half-eaten, white horse.

   "That, I deem, was Pearl," said Jayce. "May she rest in peace."

   "But no sign of Rhinda," said Leokas.

   "Was the horse dessert or the main course?" asked Belvin.

   "You did not taste human blood on the altar, though?" said Kyrin. "Perhaps your companion still lives. She would have been chained here, perhaps, against this wall. I see one more tunnel over there, which we have not yet searched."

   "Rhinda's armor and supplies are over here," called Mythlos from the corner. He had gone to examine the sacks, which contained loot presumably gathered by the gnolls from their victims.

   "You two," the countess said to her two horsemen, "carry those sacks and the woman's supplies to the surface. The rest of you, follow me, and have your weapons ready."

   The final, ten-foot long, narrow tunnel led to another wooden door. It was locked. "None of the gnolls we slew bore keys," said Jayce.

   In answer, Kyrin swung her longsword at the door, cutting soundly through the wood near the locking mechanism in a single blow. Then, she kicked the door open.

   The room beyond, however, was empty; there was no gnoll awaiting nor any sign of their missing paladin. Kyrin looked depressed. "I was hoping this excursion would end in happier news," she said, "or at least my sword through the heart of a gnoll chieftan."

   "There could still be hope," said Jayce. "See, here is another journal. Perhaps we can learn something of what happened to Rhinda or even your...."

   "It will bring me no comfort to learn of how they tortured, slaughtered, and killed my love," she answered coldly.

   The others filed in and looked around the room. It was a round room, about fifteen feet in diameter. There was a large gnoll "bed" and another stone slab, from which Jayce had taken the second journal, which he was now perusing. On one wall there hung a finely carved set of nunchaku, chainsticks, an exotic weapon from Kara-Tur. Below the nunchaku hung a tiny pair of shrunken feet. On another wall hung a large double axe, the kind used by orc warriors. Below this, hung a set of white tusks.

   "This is very odd," said Jayce. "Look at this!" He held the journal open to a middle page, which was written in a similar scrawl as the other journal. Then he turned the page. The writing completely changed. The page was covered in strange symbols that none of them had ever seen before. "I don't think I've ever seen a language like this."

   Nor had any of the others.

   Mythlos was observing the walls closely. "Something does not seem natural about this wall...," he said. He spotted a round hole about four inches in diameter. Inserting his hand into the hole, he felt a sort of handle, which he pushed. There was a loud click.

   "What was that?"

   "I think I unlocked something," said Mythlos. "But what?"

   "Try pushing the wall," suggested Leokas. They did, and it slid back and opened to reveal a hidden passage.

   Excitedly, the band moved through the new tunnel, weapons drawn. After maybe 300 yards, they could see a speck of light. In 500, they could hear waves and smell the ocean. "This must exit to the cliffs."

   It did. They came out into sunlight about 30 feet above a small sliver of beach below. "It is near low tide," said Mythlos.

   "Unless the gnoll had a boat, it could only have escaped just now, or it has a 24-hour lead on us," said Kyrin.

   There was a treacherous, step-like, narrow path down to the bottom. "I'll see if I can make out any tracks," offered Leokas. He descended nimbly and began to search around. "I see nothing of tracks," he called up to the others.

   "Come," said Kyrin, turning back into the tunnel, "we have an interrogation to do."

~~~~


   Back at the surface, they stood around their prisoner. The bound gnoll had woken and was struggling against its bindings. Two guards held spears to its neck, and it ceased the struggle.

   "Let's have a little talk, gnoll," Jayce began, "like friends."

   The gnoll snorted and perhaps smiled.

   "My name is Jayce. What are you called?"

   The gnoll stared at him.

   "Look, I know you can speak Common. Surely, your noble race has better courtesy than this...."

   The gnoll snarled derisively. "We are a powerful race, not a courteous one. Courtesy is for the weak. But my name is Gnyrn."

   "That's better. Are you the leader of this pack?" asked Jayce.

   "No."

   "Who is the leader?"

   "Dagnyra."

   "Is he a gnoll?"

   "She is a gnoll."

   "Where is she now?"

   "I do not know."

   Jayce did not sense deception in Gnyrn's voice. "Does she leave the lair often?"

   "She does as she pleases. I care not what she does with her time."

   "Enough of her then; I want to know about what prisoners you have taken recently."

   "Prisoners? Do you mean food?" The gnoll smiled wickedly.

   "You sometimes spare your victims, do you not? Else there would not be shackles on the wall in the back of the cavern nor the human slave that we freed."

   "We enjoy torturing our food before we eat it," Gnyrn said, licking his lips. "That is why we have shackels."

   "What happened to the woman paladin you captured yesterday morning? We came across her belongings."

   "Yes, there was a female knight. Was she a friend of yours?"

   "No, I don't know anything about her except that she went missing," said Kyrin.

   "She was a mercenary hired by us," said Jayce.

   "You lie," said Gnyrn, smiling and licking his lips yet again. "She was a friend of yours."

   "Where is she?"

   "Parts of her are in my stomach," Gnyrn replied.

   "Now you are bluffing," said Jayce. "Tell us where she is."

   "I know not. Perhaps Dagnyra kept her for herself. She always enjoyed the finest meats, and the woman had a meaty rump and thighs."

   "When did you last see the woman?"

   "I saw her last when we forced her to taste her own horse." Gnyrn threw his head back and gave a hyena-like cackle.

   Jayce ignored his disgust. "Then what?"

   "Then I slept. The woman was gone in the morning."

   "Is it common for one of your leaders to keep a prisoner for itself?" asked Kyrin.

   "No."

   "Has Dagnyra been acting strange in other ways lately?" asked Jayce.

   "She led the pack; I did what she said without question. If I led the pack, I would have killed more of you humans and feasted on your flesh, and I would have shared your flesh with the rest of the pack."

   He held out the second journal. "Is this Dagnyra's journal?"

   "It could be."

   "It could be?"

   "Why would I have seen my pack leader's private journal?"

   Jayce held the journal open to the last page. "Read this."

   "I cannot."

   "Is it not gnoll?"

   "No!" Gnyrn sounded insulted. "I've never seen those signs."

   "Then read this instead." He flipped to the page before where the language change occured.

   "'35th blood moon of Yeenoghu. We took a farmer and his woman and their mule and their carriage. Her hair will make excellent rope....'"

   "Enough!" said Kyrin.

   "When was this '35th blood moon'?" asked Jayce.

   "Many moons ago."

   "How many? What date in the Dale Reckoning?"

   "Why would I have wasted time learning your human methods of keeping time?"

   "You do not have a large collection of loot here in this cavern for the number of prisoners you must have taken," Kyrin stated. "What do you do with everything you capture?"

   "It is traded with a nearby tribe."

   Kyrin grew interested in this. "A tribe? Where?"

   The prisoner cackled. "Why would I tell you that?"

   "We have seven hostages, which we will execute if you do not cooperate with us," she said.

   Gnyrn laughed again. "I care nothing for slaves."

   "We will not hesitate to torture you," said Jayce.

   Gnyrn spit at him.

   Kyrin drew her sword, "See here, demonspawn. If you do not speak with us, I will cut out your intestines while you still live and strangle you with them. Do you care about that?"

   "You are fiesty for a female human," said the gnoll in its gruff voice. "You would make a good servant of Yeenoghu, if you grew some fur and a...."

   Kyrin slashed at Gnyrn's stomach. "Don't try me," she said.

   "Near Vineshade," said Gnyrn, gasping at the pain.

   "How many?"

   "About 300."

   "I am finished with you," said Kyrin. She turned away from him and strode off. "Mythlos," she said, "kill the monster."

   Mythlos obeyed. Gnyrn threw his head back and screamed, "Krigyash Yeenoghu!" just before his head left its body.

   Kyrin gave more orders, "Someone go down and execute the remaining seven gnolls.

   "Milady," Leokas protested, "are gnolls inherently evil that you should kill a slave?"

   She disregarded this. "The rest of you, begin to load up the horses."

   Hakam and Belvin descended back into the cave to perform the executions and recover Romar.

   As the men loaded up the loot and prepared the horses, Jayce approached Kyrin. "Milady, should we set an ambush here for if the leader returns?"

   "How can we know if and when that will happen?" She picked up Gnyrn's head and mounted it on a spear near the lair entrance. "We will take the journals back to Rontal. He has a large library and may know someone who can read Gnoll and perhaps the other strange language, or else he may know a spell to do so."

   Bevlin and Hakam returned to the surface, the former bearing a few more heads. Jayce cautioned Kyrin, "Milady Countess, you may wish to know that we have some concerns about Rontal."

   "He has some concerns," said Hakam, who joined them. "Let's not jump to conclusions."

   "I sensed that he knew more than he was telling us about the... passing of Master Ersemm. I'm not accusing!"

   "What evidence do you have?" asked Kyrin.

   Hakam shook his head.

   "Only my gut instincts, milady, but they are usually sound."

   "Who suspected the bandits that were to ambush us the other day, Jayce?" asked Hakam. "And who convinced the rest of the party to trust them?"

   "That was one time!" answered Jayce. "They probably used some magic to hide their intentions."

   "How do you feel about my farsann, Leokas?"

   "I must support that Jayce does have a talent for judging people's intentions. Moreover, I feel also that he is withholding something, but I know not what."

   "I know that Rontal is a good man," said Romar, "but there are other reasons one might want to hide things. Perhaps blackmail? I agree that it is wise to keep these things from him."

   "Fair enough," said Kyrin. "Captain, post a few men here as guards to overlook the cliffs. Have them send word to us if anyone or anything returns to this lair by surface or sea.

   "Everyone, mount up. We return to The Cliff to celebrate our victory and revenge!"
Session: 25th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jan 12 2014 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
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Epic!