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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — Exposed to the Elements
It was mid-morning. The party was traveling silently, heads down, eyes squinting, because of the glare from walking into the sun. The only sound was that of their feet crunching in the firm snow.

   No one was expecting the attack. It fell down upon them silently and swiftly. One moment they were walking, the next moment they were covered by a large shadow and a spray of icy shards and bitter cold. Belvin noticed the shadow before the blast struck and spurred Kamil. Szordrin, too, dove to the ground to take cover. Even so, they were not quick enough. Everyone was covered in frost and ice. Their lungs gasped desperately for warm air, and their hearts skipped a beat from the shock of the sudden cold. Ilthian and Stormshadow fell down onto the snow, as if frozen solid.

   "A dragon!" Leokas called out. "Spread out! Spread out! Remember the seven rules!"

   Mythlos healed Stormshadow with his magic blade and then rushed to the north several steps. Turning, he drew a scroll from a pouch on his pack. He frantically unrolled it, hoping he could read the words before the dragon struck again. He struggled to hold the scroll still, as his body trembled in fear.

   Leokas was also shaken. He moved west and gulped down a magical potion to restore warmth to his frozen body and crouched down low to the snow-covered ground.

   Belvin was galloping to the southeast and began a summoning spell as Szordrin darted quickly to the southwest.

   Cassiera had no idea what "seven rules" the sylvan elf had meant by his warning, but she ran to the south nonetheless, taking a flask from her belt and holding it ready. She brushed the frost from her face and looked up to the east to see the white-colored dragon gaining altitude 100 feet away.

   A beam of light as bright as the sun launched from Hakam's outstretched palm and struck the dragon as it performed a wingover maneuver in the air and began flying back toward them for a second strafing attack. "Szordrin!" he shouted. "Are white dragons chaotic crea...?"

   The dragon was upon them again. Its rear claws ripped through Hakam's chest-piece and tore into his flesh. Hakam was flung flat onto his back in the snow.

   Cassiera let fly one of her flasks. The glass shattered upon the dragon, as it glided past, and ignited into flame. Then Szordrin and Mythlos shouted out together in languages of magic. A stream of fire and flame shot forth from Mythlos' palms and should have engulfed the dragon, but instead, some unseen force caused the flames to wrap around the dragon's body harmlessly. Szordrin's spell, however, gave them hope, for suddenly, despite the dragon's frantic flapping of its eighteen-foot wings, it dropped to the ground several yards past where Hakam lay, bound to the earth by magic.

   "Yes!" yelled Szordrin. "They are chaotic beasts!"

   It's what Hakam had wanted to hear. He rose quickly to his feet again. "Feel order's wrath!" the cleric shouted with a wave of his hand. A cubic grid of purple beams of light entrapped the dragon, and it thrashed in pain and roared.

   Leokas sent two arrows at the creature. Despite his fear, his aim was still true. The first missile plunged deep into the dragon's hide, but the second was deflected off its glistening white scales.

   Stormshadow came to and immediately fled to the northwest from beneath the dragon's legs. It snapped at her with its beaked jaws but missed.

   Five small fire elementals appeared on the surface of the snow and nearly surrounded the dragon, swinging their flaming appendages. The dragon spun with cat-like dexterity to face them and ward off their blows. Then a ball of fire shot from Belvin's fingertips, giving the dragon yet another fiery object to avoid. Szordrin began the completion words of yet another spell of fire, but he lost his control on the Weave, and only smoke appeared at his palm. "Curses!"

   Seeing that it was distracted by the attacking elementals and the rolling ball of fire, Mythlos charged at the dragon across the snow, swinging recklessly with his full strength. He struck a solid blow at the base of the dragon's fourteen-foot tail, his magic blade slicing through the mirror-like scales and spraying red dragon blood onto the white snow.

   The dragon spun around in anger, its neck snapped out, and it bit into Mythlos' shoulder, lifting him from the ground and shaking him, before tossing his limp body to the ground. Simultaneously, the dragon's tail struck one of the the fire elementals, leaving only a pool of water behind. Seconds later, the dragon was facing the remaining elementals, after deftly hopping over the rolling ball of fire that Belvin still controlled. With two slashes of its foreclaws and the slaps of its wings, only a single one of the elementals remained on this plane. The little elemental struck a solid blow on the dragon's snout, and the great beast roared in anger.

   Behind the dragon, blood stained the snow heavily where Mythlos lay. Hakam rushed over to him and touched him, and the flesh was restored.

   "Mythlos, the elephant!" Leokas shouted, as he shot a continuous string of arrows at the dragon. Cassiera tossed another vial. It missed, but the dragon was still singed by the brief flame. Szordrin moved closer and sent a cone of fire from his hands, but the flames were repelled by the dragon's resistance to magic. Cassiera tossed another vial, this time one filled with acid. It struck and its liquid contents began sizzling upon the dragon's back.

   Returning to consciousness, Mythlos rose to his feet, took careful aim, and plunged his sword into the dragon, piercing its left thigh. The dragon turned again to face the persistent swordelf and was struck by a second slash across its short neck.

   Then the dragon breathed again. The chill blast caught both Mythlos and Hakam in its path, nearly blowing both of them over and leaving a faint chemical smell in the air. Skin burned by the severe cold, Hakam staggered backwards and healed himself, as an arrow from Leokas punctured the dragon in the side, just below its shoulder. Several other arrows glanced off its armor.

   "Strike!" Belvin screamed, as he tried calling down a bolt of lightning from a dark cloud that no one else had noticed had formed above them, but his call was ignored. Once again, the dragon's inner magical power prevented the spell from harming it. It failed to prevent Szordrin's next spell, however, as a jet of fire blasted from the wizard's palms.

   The distraction from Szordrin's spell gave Mythlos the time he needed to extract the marble figurine from the side of his pack. He tossed it at the foot of the dragon, as another vial of Cassiera's shattered on its back. Mythlos summoned the elephant with its command word, and the figurine morphed into the massive pachyderm, which towered even over the dragon. Trumpeting, the elephant slammed the dragon on the top of its head with its trunk and kicked it twice in the chin with its hooves. With the dragon flanked by the elephant, the remaining fire elemental landed another blow to the dragon's right side.

   Appearing dazed, now with five arrows stuck in its body, melted and scorched scales, and blood pouring from several open wounds, the dragon desperately tried flapping its wings again to lift off from the surface and escape, but Szordrin's magic still held it to the ground. Its escape failing, the terrible beast roared and then ducked its head low to the ground. Its fanged mouth opened, and a third time it breathed its dreadful blast of cold and ice. The elephant was unfazed, but Mythlos tumbled to the ground, a second time, frozen stiff. Hakam managed to stand against the barrage. He stumbled over to Mythlos and once again saved him from dying with a surge of positive energy from his hands.

   "I said, 'Strike!'" Belvin repeated. A bolt of plasma fell from the sky. The dragon convulsed as the electricity flowed through it. Then it collapsed to the surface of the snow and was still.
Session: 61st Game Session - Thursday, Oct 29 2015 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — A White Wilderness
Just before morning, while it was still dark, Belvin came out of trance. He heard Kamil nuzzing loudly. He woke Hakam. "It's Kamil; he's in pain."

   The two descended the rope. They found the three animals and Szordrin huddled together under a thin layer of snow. Hakam examined the camel. "He probably has frostbite," said the cleric. "I do not know how to treat frostbite on an animal, and it is still before dawn."

   Szordrin woke up. "We need to get the blood flowing in his hooves," he said.

   "Camels do not have hooves," said Belvin.

   Szordrin continued, "Everyone, grab one of his feet and start massaging his toes."

   So it was that the sun began peeking over the horizon, while the three of them were rubbing the toes of Belvin's camel.

   Those remaining in the extradimensional space were suddenly startled awake out of sleep or trance by falling ten feet to the surface of the snow. The duration of Szordrin's spell had ended. They were all now wide awake.

   Everyone began to gear up. Belvin and Hakam prayed for their day's allotment of spells, and Szordrin and Mythlos reviewed their spellbooks. It was much warmer than the night before. Leokas estimated that it was about the temperature of water freezing. As long as they kept in motion, they were not likely to die, but they could still suffer frostbite and other discomforts.

   Belvin and Hakam had each prayed for the magic to protect themselves and their companions from the effects of bitter weather. After laying hands on each of the others and themselves and saying a blessing, everyone felt much warmer.

   "We don't have enough magic for all the animals," said Hakam.

   "Shrodinjer is an amphibian," said Belvin. "Perhaps he can simply freeze solid and then be thawed."

   Mythlos, however, did not like this idea, and Stormshadow and Kamil had to pass on the elemental endurance. Once they had warmed up Kamil's feet, the camel seemed content with the morning temperature, and Stormshadow and Ferry appeared toasty warm in their fur coats.

   As the morning grew bright, they gazed around themselves. As far as the eye could see was snow and ice.



   "Where do we go now?"

   "I have an idea," said Hakam. "I requested the power to grant someone among us the ability to walk on air for roughly an hour. Which of you elves can see the farthest? Climb as high as you can and see what you may."

   "I'll do it," said Leokas.

   "Here, also take the ring of feather falling, just in case."

   Hakam placed his right hand on Leokas, held his holy symbol in his left, and spoke a prayer over Leokas.

   "Whenever you are ready, give it a try."

   Leokas raised his foot up and took a step. It felt like solid ground. He lifted himself up and was hovering in the air a foot off the ground.

   "Odd," said Leokas. "How do I descend?"

   "Will yourself to descend, and you shall."

   Leokas practiced for a few minutes before he felt confident that he could both ascend and descend. Satisfied, he focused his thoughts to the sky, imagining that he was climbing a giant staircase or summiting a large hill. Then he began climbing. He climbed step after step upwards, at a nearly 45 degree incline for about twenty minutes, leaving his friends far below. He was probably a mile above them now. From such a great elevation, he was slowly able to make out geographical features. Far to the north, perhaps between 25 and 50 miles away, he could clearly see a very large river flowing through the ice. Beyond the river, he could see several large flying creatures in the distance. The river was intersected by a smaller river to the northeast. If they were to walk due east, they might be able to reach this second river in about three days. To the southeast, the terrain became hilly. Apart from this, even at such a height, he could only see more white.

   He willed himself to descend and joined his companions safely before the spell duration expired. Leokas expressed his opinion that walking east to the river would be the smartest option, and Hakam agreed.

   "Which way were the rivers flowing?" asked Szordrin.

   "I could not tell," said Leokas. "However, the northern snow-covered wastelands, if that is where we are, are separated from the rest of Faerûn by large mountains, such as the Spine of the World. I would think that any rivers here would flow north to the oceans of ice beyond. We should follow the waters south if we wish to reach the mountains and find a pass back to civilization."

   "How are we prepared for food?" asked Mythlos.

   "I have twelve days worth of rations in my pack," said Szordrin.

   "I had as much," said Hakam, "but they are all with my pack camel back on Samber's island."

   "We have eight left in the bag of holding," said Mythlos.

   "I have the rest of my biscuits," said Ilthian, "but that is all."

   "There are only two days worth of food left for Kamil," said Belvin. "Let us hope that there is life somewhere in this snowy desert."

   "In the worst case, I can create food for us again," said Hakam. "We will survive, if we are careful. I am sure of it."

   They passed around food before beginning their journey. Cassiera informed them that she did not need to eat. "I have a magic ring. I... purchased it from my homeland so that I could survive as a stowaway," she explained. "Do not worry about having food or drink for me."

   After eating, they set off, Belvin upon Kamil, and the rest walking in two lines. Leokas guided them in the direction of the sun, which had several captivating halos around it, like nothing any of them had ever seen before. "The sun is so beautiful," noted Ilthian.



   Kamil's feet were surprisingly suited for walking in the snow, as they spread out and prevented him from sinking deeply. No one else had such a luxury, though, and travel was slow and depressing, as it was hard to tell that any progress was being made. Ahead was a pure white field; behind was an endless trail of their own footprints in the snow.

   Ilthian walked beside Hakam and queried him on the differences in culture among the various countries he had mentioned to her thus far. Everyone else was silent for the most part, as they had doubts that they would ever find their way back to their old lives again.
Session: 61st Game Session - Thursday, Oct 29 2015 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — Exiled!
Leokas regained consciousness and found himself waist-deep in snow.

   Hakam was standing over him with a hand on his shoulder. "Everyone has survived the fall," said Hakam. Mythlos was there also and extended a hand to Leokas to help pull him out. Stormshadow, with frost in her fur, was digging snow away from Leokas to make his climb out easier.

   It was night. Free from the snow, Leokas looked up and saw a star-filled sky and only a sliver for a moon. There was no sign of any opening in the sky. By the starlight, in all directions around him, he could see nothing but a featureless, bleak landscape of snow. The temperature was colder than any he had ever experienced. Thankfully, there was no wind. Cassiera and Ilthian stood nearby, shivering violently. Belvin was trying to calm Kamil. Szordrin was scanning the perimeter.

   "The snow cushioned our falls," said Hakam. "Szordrin, Stormshadow, and Belvin, were knocked out, but Mythlos and I restored them."

   Leokas then noticed Belvin's left arm. "Belvin, your arm!" It was back.

   "Samber healed it," said Belvin. "I watched it grow back from a tiny stub to a baby's hand, to a child's arm, to this one here—all in less than a minute!"

   "What will you do with your old arm?" Hakam asked.

   "Maybe slap you with it when you annoy me," Belvin replied.

   "Where are we?" said Ilthian. "What has just happened?"

   "Samber has sent us away," said Hakam. "We are exiled."

   "Somewhere far to the north," said Leokas.

   "How do we know we are even on Toril?" asked Belvin.

   "The Centaur and the Woman Warrior are there and there," said Leokas pointing to two constellations of stars, "and there is Amaunator's Belt. All of them are far to the south, hugging the horizon, see. We are farther north than even the High Forest. How far east or west, I am uncertain, as I do not know what hour it is. We could be on the Reghed or the High Ice or the Great Glacier or even far north of Kara-Tur.

   "We can worry about where we are later," said Cassiera. "We must find shelter or we will all freeze to death!"

   "We could build a shelter out of the snow," suggested Leokas.

   "That would take far too long," said Belvin.

   Szordrin was fumbling in his spell component pouch and extracted some powdered corn and a tiny twisted loop of parchment. "I can create a magic shelter for eight of us," he said. He then removed his silken rope from off his shoulders, waved his arm, and spoke a magic command word. The rope launched into the air, and dangled from ten feet off the ground, hanging from nothing.

   "I don't know if I can climb that," said Hakam.

   "You'll freeze if you don't," said Belvin.

   "I made it low to the ground," said Szordrin.

   "I can climb up first and pull anyone else up," said Mythlos. He picked up his bag of holding.

   "What are you doing?" shouted Leokas. "You can't take one extradimensional space into another!"

   "Ah, right. Sorry!"

   Mythlos climbed up into a white expanse of nothingness. He immediately felt relief from the bitter cold below. Looking down, he could see the others, but they could not see or hear him. He saw Cassiera beginning to climb up after him. He reached down his hand and lifted her up. Ilthian followed, then Hakam.

   "There won't be enough room for all of our animals," said Szordrin to Belvin and Leokas. "The magic will hold eight living creatures, no matter what their size. Counting Mythlos' toad, which presumably is still in his backpack, there are five beings up there already. When the three of us climb up, that will make eight. Ferry, Stormshadow, and Kamil have fur coats, so they may well be able to tolerate such temperatures, and we'd never be able to lift Kamil up there anyhow, now that he's back to full size."

   "No!" said Belvin.

   "Even if the animals can tolerate the cold through the night," said Leokas, "there may be predators. We can't just leave them alone. There is also nothing to tie Kamil to."

   "I can stay down here with the animals and keep watch," said Szordrin.

   "Huh?"

   "Fiendish blood," Szordrin replied. "The cold doesn't really bother me."

   It seemed true. Leokas's skin was turning blue from the cold, making him look more like a moon elf than a copper elf, but Szordrin's skin was still rosy.

   They agreed to this, and the two elves climbed up to join the others. Szordrin began building a wall of snow around Kamil to keep him penned in and to shelter him if it began to grow windy. The camel nuzzed loudly for the first hour, but then gave up complaining and lay down, curling up to stay as warm as he could. Stormshadow snuggled up against the camel as well. Once Szordrin had finished his wall of snow, he too leaned up against the dromedary and tried to sleep again.

~~~~


Above, in the extradimensional space, Ilthian was wandering around, in awe at the featurelessness.

   "No matter how far you walk," explained Mythlos, "you won't find anything or reach anywhere new. Come back and sleep."

   Belvin was already sitting cross-legged, preparing to trance on the white "floor". Mythlos, Leokas, and Cassiera were rolling out their bedrolls. Ilthian came back and removed some blankets from her sack and spread them out as well.

   "My bedroll is with my pack camel on the island," muttered Hakam.

   "I have an extra blanket you can use," said Ilthian.

   Leokas, Hakam, and Mythlos began removing their leather armor. "Where should I change into my nightclothes?" Ilthian asked.

   "You should probably just sleep in your clothes," said Cassiera. "You are an adventurer now, so you will want to get used to that."

   "I suppose there is no way to douse the light," said Hakam.

   "I could make it dark, but probably too dark for your tastes," said Cassiera, "and only for so long."

   "Never mind then."

   Ilthian was lying between Cassiera and Hakam. Once they were all still, Ilthian spoke up. "Is Samber the Maker?"

   "I believe so," said Hakam.

   "My father always told me that he was a head of flame, not a man."

   "He deceived you."

   "My father?"

   "No, the Maker."

   "Why would the Maker lie to us?"

   "I do not know," said Hakam. "Go to sleep."

   Ilthian was quiet but only for a few minutes. The only sound was Shrodinjer croaking softly. "You all knew about Samber and came to our island on purpose," she then said aloud. "It was not an accident."

   "It was an accident for some of us," said Cassiera.

   "It was not any of our choices," said Hakam. "The gods directed us to find him. They led us to your island."

   "The gods chose us to stop Samber," said Leokas.

   "Is the Maker bad like the hop-gobbins?"

   "I certainly do not trust him," said Hakam.

   "I'm not convinced yet whether he is good or bad," said Belvin. "He did restore my arm."

   "Belvin, he is working against the gods," said Leokas. "What he is doing is an abomination against nature."

   "I am sorry for all my questions," said Ilthian, "but what are gods? You all keep talking about them."

   Hakam tried explaining to her who the gods were.

   Ilthian listened intently, struggling to understand. "Is the Maker a god then?" she asked.

   "We think he is trying to become one," said Leokas.

   "Is that even possible?" asked Mythlos.

   "It is," said Hakam. "Indeed, it is known to have happened several times in history. If Jayce were here, he could tell better tales, but if a mortal acquires enough power and enough worshipers — for the power of any deity depends on the number of worshipers — and if Lord Ao permits it, he becomes one of the gods. This happened several times during the Time of Troubles. Surely the rest of you know this. Mystra and Kelemvor, for example, were mortals when I was born. They took up the portfolios of the gods of magic and death who were slain before them."

   All was quiet for several minutes.

   "Why did you rescue me from Samber, Hakam?" Ilthian then asked.

   "Ilthian, go to sleep!"
Session: 61st Game Session - Thursday, Oct 29 2015 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — Epilogue with the Dragon
As promised, Vashti was waiting for them with her magic carpet to ferry them up to the outside. No one made any mention of the earlier argument.

   "Where is Belvin?"

   "He is with his camel," Vashti answered, "being talked to death by the dragon."

   At the top of the sand dune, they came to the dragon and Belvin and his camel. The dragon was laying on his belly, going on and on about the weather patterns over the Shaar. Belvin didn't seem to be paying much attention, as he brushed his camel's hair.

   Sseth sat up when he saw them. "At last!" he said. "You have returned alive. I am bursting with excitement, but your sorceress here refused to share any information until all of you arrived. Come, follow me back to the ruins. I imagine you scale-less folk will desire shade, and we have much to talk about."

   The dragon was delighted when they at last handed him Shunnari's diary. He thumped his tail on the ground excitedly as he took the item with his enormous foreclaw. "How was this preserved?" They explained the magical urn. "What sort of book is it? Can one of you hold it open so I can read a bit?"

   Jayce stepped forward. "It is the diary of a... jhasina. Here, take a look." Jayce flipped open a random page and held the book out at arms length, and the dragon placed his eye closer to him than was exactly comfortable.

   "'Calim was enormous,'" Sseth read aloud. "'I knew that he was said to be large, but I was not expecting him to tower over the other djinni lords. He was at least 20, maybe 25-feet tall, with broad, muscular shoulders and a massive chest. Unlike the other lords present, (and there were nazirs, satraps, and hakkammi in the audience,) the caliph did not feel the need to designate his status with an ornate turban. His head was bald, except for a sharply cut goatee....' By Bahamut! I don't think I've ever seen a first-hand description of Calim himself before. This is amazing!" His wings flapped in excitement, almost blowing them over and throwing sand. "Oh, I'm sorry about that," he said. "How did you find this? Were the ruins well-preserved? You were gone for over twenty-four hours; Kamil and I were growing worried."

   So they began sharing the details of their adventure, and Sseth wanted to know every last detail.

   Sseth had no idea what the gangly creature was. "There are many dark aberrations and abominations in the darkness below the surface of the world," said Sseth. "I am sure it will not be the first unique monster you will find in your future travels."

   He agreed with their conclusions about the wererat. "The ruins have not been open more than six months. The poor soul probably survived by raiding caravans in the desert. Were-creatures tend to take on the outlook of their animal forms. If once a noble human, after contracting lycanthropy, he probably adapted the thieving tendencies of rats."

   In regards to Shunnari, he also agreed with their theory. "You are fortunate that she did not discover your theft of her diary. An angry ghost can be a very formidable opponent. They aren't really fully present in the Material Plane, so unless you can plane shift into the Ethereal Plane, it is almost impossible to defeat them. You likely did her a great service by freeing her spirit to travel at last to the Fugue Plane."

   They showed him the other items they found, the urn, the jar, the lantern, and the razor. The dragon was happy to add these items to his museum as well. Jayce asked the dragon if they counted as a second relic, as Sseth had agreed to let Jayce fly on his back if they brought him more than one relic. "These will suffice," the dragon said.

   After several hours, Leokas said, "Noble dragon, we had an agreement that you would find a band of hobgoblins for us."

   "Yes, yes, I have not forgotten. Here is what I propose: There is a human monastery 20 miles west by north of here, on the other side of the Trade Way. Good people of Ilmater are there. Travel to this monastery to rest, as some of you are clearly injured. From there, if you desire, some of you can travel north in safety along the Trade Way to Memnon to sell or buy goods. In the meantime, I will scout out the whole desert until I find them. When I do find them, I will send message somehow to the monastery, so if you travel to Memnon, keep at least one person behind. What shall I do with the hobgoblins when I find them?"

   "We only need one brought back alive," said Leokas.

   "Of course it will be alive," said Sseth, taken aback. "I am a good dragon; I will not harm a sentient being!"

   Remembering the reward set by Xaros, Mythlos said, "Could you bring them all back?"

   "I only have so many claws," said the dragon.

   "Four then?"

   "I generally need two of my limbs to land," said Sseth, "but I'll see what I can do."

   "The day will end soon," said Belvin. "We should leave soon if we wish to reach the safety of the Trade Way before dark."

   "How sad," said Sseth. "How I have enjoyed our conversations! But then, I have much reading to do at home now, and much flying to do as well, it seems.

   "Ah, one more thing before I depart," said Sseth. "Kamil told me that he does not like carrying the smelly heads, and that he keeps dreaming of what I am guessing are crocodiles."

   "I may have to find us a crocodile then," said Belvin, ignoring the part about the growing collection of heads.

   "You may wish to stand back," said Sseth. "Taking off can throw a lot of sand."

   So the party bid him farewell, and headed off into the west. Looking back, they saw the enormous dragon flapping its powerful wings in a cloud of dust and sand and taking to the air, his wings rippling from his shoulders to the tip of his tail as he sailed off into the horizon, his new relics dangling from his claws.
Session: 12th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 02 2013 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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Epic!
Shunnari's Diary
Today was the first time I was summoned to dance before the Great Caliph.
   Sarak selected my clothing. He chose red silks, for it was to be a dance of fire. My skirt was ankle-length with slits on both sides up to my thighs. My chest was bound. I was veiled and wrapped in several layers of translucent silk. All of the cloth had been magically treated to be resistant to fire. Irtemara tied several alchemical sticks into my hair that she said would glow brightly at the proper time. I chose my own jewelry, reflective anklets and bracelets, and a ruby stone for my nose. The stone had been a gift from Saref Majel.
   Sabira had choreographed the dance. I was to take the center position on the floor, joined by three recently captured efreeti females. Beyond that, I did not know what to expect.
   Calim was enormous. I knew that he was said to be large, but I was not expecting him to tower over the other djinni lords. He was at least 20, maybe 25-feet tall, with broad, muscular shoulders and a massive chest. Unlike the other lords present, (and there were nazirs, satraps, and hakkammi in the audience,) the caliph did not feel the need to designate his status with an ornate turban. His head was bald, except for a sharply cut goatee. He wore an intricately sewn open vest, purple trousers, red slippers, and a massive golden belt. His neck was covered in necklaces, and he had two golden bracers and many rings. Tied to his belt was a large, naked falchion.
   The great djinni sat cross-legged, hovering in the air behind his table with his court vizars beside him. The other djinn and a few marid had places hovering at tables along the outskirts of the room. A dozen janni slaves scurried to and fro, conjuring delectable foods and wine for the honored guests with their magics.
   Once the dinner had been served, Calim rose higher above everyone in the room and signaled for silence. He gave a speech welcoming his subjects to celebrate his last victory with him. He was certain that Memnon's forces would be in retreat. As part of the celebration, he had planned a surprise for them, he said. Armed djinn led the three efreeti females forward from the back of the room. They had an otherworldly beauty about them, standing 12-feet tall with lithe builds. They were bound by brass chains to each other and wore simple hempen tunics for their clothing. Calim explained that these females had been taken prisoner from the capital city of Memnonnar itself. This bode well for the djinni army, as they had till now not been able to cross the River Agis. Now, the prisoners would be forced to dance for the guests. The guards gave instructions to the efreet, who knew that disobedience meant death. Calim snapped his fingers, and the lights in great hall were extinguished. At that, the three efreet burst into flames and danced in an ever-growing circle.
   I stood observing all this from behind a curtain. Hala ignited the fire brands in my own hair, and I glided into the center of the hall. I was filled with exhilaration; never had I danced before so many people, let alone so many noble djinn. I tumbled and rolled between two of the burning efreet and under their chains into the middle of their circle. I danced. I danced as I had never danced. I could feel the eyes of the Great Caliph himself upon me. That feeling was stronger to me than the heat of the efreet clothed in fire that were surrounding me. In my dance, I wove in and out of the moving circle of efreeti fire, as human slaves plucked music on their lyres. I spun and swayed, tumbled and leapt. The djinn were cheering me on.
   As the song chosen by Sabira completed, there was a powerful flash of wind, and everything went black for a moment. When I came to, I was alone in one of the side chambers. Sarak, Irtemara, and Sabira rushed into the room, congratulating me. I was somewhat saddened. I knew that I had been magically whisked away in a gust of elemental wind that also extinguished the efreet's flames and slew them, but this meant that I did not get to see the final response from the crowds.
   "You were perfect!" said Sarak. "Absolutely perfect, my girl!"
   "Were the nobles pleased by the finish?" I asked.
   They assured me that the dance was entirely a success. They thanked each other for each of their roles in the matter. Irtemara teased me, claiming that Calim would certainly call for me this night. She and I proceeded to the pool to cool off, as I was covered in sweat from the heat of the flames.
   He did not call me. I am satisfied with that, as I am truly exhausted.
   Sarak, who always pays closer attention to the matters of the military than any of us jhasinnar, told me that Calim planned to strike out immediately at the next efreeti city along the river. One of the prisoners they had taken from Memnonnar brazenly cursed his captors and claimed that Memnon would bring Teshyll to the ground within the year. He was of course summarily executed for such a statement. I do not see how their armies could travel across the plains and forests sixty miles to Teshyll anyhow within a year, but that is why I am not a qayadin I suppose. That, and the fact that I am a woman. I am not afraid.
   So it seems that Calim will be heading north again, and I shall not be called by him nor have opportunity to dance again for him any time soon.
   Tomorrow, I must remind Catahra that she needs to return my earrings.
~S
Session: 12th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 02 2013 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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