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Jim
Posted by the GM
Stars Without Number
Sleeshee - Alien Race
From: https://www.reddit.com/r/SWN/comments/b6yb75/alien_species_the_sleeshee/



I introduced a new alien species into our sector. It's more complex than what I'd put together previously, so I thought I'd put up the first draft to gather thoughts. Input welcome.

Sleeshee

Known more casually across the sector as “trash slimes”, Sleeshee appear as shambling amalgamations of various debris they’ve accumulated in their travels. Inside their telekinesis-assembled housings of scrap, plants, rock and garbage is a complex nervous system of ropey, slimy fungus. Outwardly, their bodies are typically humanoid in shape, though this is more due to the advantages such a form holds in modern society than any natural obligation. The fungus inside is recognized as the Sleeshee’s true self, but it is so finely woven throughout their shells that they become nearly as inseparable as human flesh and bone. Any given Sleeshee will shed and acquire enough debris as to be barely recognizable after a year’s time, and will often come to resemble their surroundings if they spend enough time in any one place.
•Language. Sleeshee communicate with a complex combination of telekinetically-generated subsonic sound, mild telepathy and a variety of spores. Sleeshee within 10 meters of each other can communicate as if using the Transmit Thought technique (page 41) over an existing Telepathic Contact. Those who are expecting to interact with outsiders can alter their shells to produce sounds adequate enough for crude vocal communication, though few truly master this craft. Telepathy is a more natural pursuit for those looking to master communication.
•Psychic Aptitude. Without their psychic abilities, a Sleeshee would lack the means to form a body and move around. They must either be a Psychic or take the Partial Psychic class option from the Adventurer class. Their maximum Effort score is increased by one.
•Telekinetic Armory. All Sleeshee have at least enough of a grasp on Telekinesis to form and use their bodies. As an extension of this localized psychic control, they all receive the Telekinetic Armory psychic technique (page 38) automatically.
•Clumsy. Telekinesis is imprecise and it really shows in a species that relies on it for all mobility. Sleeshee receive a -1 penalty to their Dexterity modifier.
•Flexible Diet. Sleeshee still require food, water, rest and an environment comparable to that of humans. However, the fungus inside them can leach nutrients from nearly any organic matter in nearly any biome, to the extent that they are even resistant to most antifungal compounds. They are immune to ingested toxins and diseases, though other vectors such as injected venoms and airborne pathogens may still affect them.
•Unique Anatomy. For the most part, Sleeshee heal at the same rate as humans, gradually accumulating new debris and regrowing damaged strands of their fungal colony at a slow but steady pace. They do not have vital organs in the traditional sense and almost any part of the colony can continue on if left sufficiently intact. As a result, they automatically stabilize if mortally wounded by anything smaller than a Heavy weapon. Conventional medical postech has no effect on them, but they can still be treated normally by biopsionics.

Sleeshee-specific Foci

Junkernaut

Telekinesis-based mobility may not be precise, but it’s unparalleled at letting you literally throw your weight around. By mastering the field that maintains your shell, you can run faster, jump higher and plow through lesser obstructions.
•Level 1. Gain Exert as a bonus skill. Roll 3d6 and drop the lowest die when making Exert skill checks. Telekinetic Armory no longer requires you to commit Effort.
•Level 2. As a main action, you may commit Effort for the day to gather additional nearby debris onto your body, increasing your mass by 50% for the scene. This grants you a +1 Strength modifier bonus and temporary hit points equal to twice your level. Damage is taken from these bonus points first, and they vanish when these effects end. You may end these effects early as an On Turn action.
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Case Continued: "Redet Abscura"
Daksh and I went to the undertaker in hopes of examining the bodies of the 3 deceased. The undertaker was a very eccentric lady, what information we could gather from her was obscured by the stories she made up. I assume it is her coping mechanism to the loneliness that being surrounded by people who cannot communicate back. I imagine that is a job that would either drive someone into a depressed insanity, or that you have to adapt to in order to maintain what is left of your sanity. She was nice enough, and was able to at least point us in the right direction, although I believe I angered her by the end.

While inspecting the bodies, 3 total (1 in a jar), something strange happened. While I was examining Dagren, I touch his body and immediate felt a darkness close around me. I couldn't see anyone and I felt fear like I have never felt before. I am still shaken from the experience. When my vision cleared, Daksh was looking at me like he had seen a ghost and my brand was burning. I had to look to check that it was not actually on fire. I decided to detect magic and felt a feeling of complete wrongness.

I questioned Daksh on why he was looking at me that way and he stated I was burning. Not in a normal way, but with blue flames surrounding me, and I spoke a few words that nobody seems to understand. "Redet Abscura". After this episode, we decided it was time for a break, and to get the shopping done, as Ari asked.

We decided later to question Il'ric again concerning the smoke bombs. There was a whole incident outside the barracks, but eventually I was allowed to speak with her. She seemed obstinate at first but warmed to the fact that I may be able to help her. She informed that it was indeed Dev that bought the smoke bombs and that she had heard that they captured him an hour before. At this news, I persuaded the guards to let in my friends, and Kit and I questioned him.

Dev confessed and turned himself in. Case closed... except...

There is something extremely strange surrounding the circumstances of the deaths and summoning. Dev confessed only to the summoning of the Daughter of Death, but would not say anything more than that. He had nothing to say about the deaths of the priests. I am convinced that he did not work alone on these matters. There are just too many questions surrounding him.

Why was he walking back into town after the incident with the Daughter of Death? By the sounds of it, he was out of town and could've at least avoided any capture. Second, where is Jash? and why did he get angry with me at the mention of her? Possible love interest/accomplice. So many unanswered questions, this is not the puzzle piece that ends the mystery.

After speaking with Leopold, the Captain of the Guard, we decided to relax a bit. I picked up all the equipment Ari needed, he seemed to be performing a spell of some sort, but it is a bit beyond me at this point. The group wanted to go see the Battle of the Bards, with Morgan Dreta, and Jules Bernada. Morgan is by far the better. The night has kinda been a blur, someone blew some powder in my face, and it kinda got fuzzy after that. I do remember standing up and yelling "Redet Abscura", this time of my own volition. I have a feeling I will regret this night.
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Daksh
Posted in The Outlanders
#1 A mystery
I'm perplexed by what's occurred in this town. Several of us have been traveling in this Caravan for a while. We've seen our share of notable events; seldom the result of some random chance. And then we arrive here to ever increasing incidents all in a short period.

* Death of three clergy over a short period of time. Last of whom was a known gambler with brash personality.
* A holy relic gets swindled by a shady magical item merchant. She uses arson to cover up.
* Carnival show interrupted by unholy beast attempting to spread chaos and death. Reclusive worshiper walks into town and claims responsibility, breaking character.
* Some sort of psychosis event inside morgue witnessed by own eyes. Echos of a word no one seems to recognize.

There must be something else at play here. Why would the shopkeeper result to arson? And a completely private and feared person openly admitting to attempted mass murder with seemingly nothing to gain?

The only common denominator at first glance is religion. A house of worship, clergy of opposing churches, and... whatever this event from the morgue. That doesn't fit, unless this confounded word has a tie in somehow?

Maybe there's something hidden in these ledgers. List of "collectors" paying our pilferer to acquire rare items. Everything is encoded... damn. If I had more time or another clue I could make sense of it.

Perhaps there's something to this clergyman who died? Could he have also been recruited by these "collectors?" Could of double crossed one for some easy money. I'll add it to the list of things to hunt down tonight. Right under stopping by the evil priests abode.

Lucky for me, there's a big soiree at the Casino. They've been boasting about it to anyone who would listen. Significantly easier to poke around unnoticed if potential witnesses won't be lingering around.



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Session 24: Baklava and Betrayal [Part 2]
As they grew closer to Pit Viper territory, Wykeera cast a locate creature spell to pinpoint Pakt's location. It was a clever decision on Wykeera's part to prepare that spell. Several buildings matched Ro-Zudof's description of the safe house that Pakt would be in. Using her divination, Wykeera sussed out that Pakt was located on the 3rd story of a tower near the western edge of the gang's territory. After some discussion, the party decided on a plan. Wykeera would beast shape into a beetle to cling to Thane's clothing. Then, Thane would use his changeling heritage to disguise himself as a Pit Viper and cast fly to make his way towards the building and enter through a window on the third floor. Finally, Thane would cast suggestionon Pakt, and they would stroll out of the front door with their willing hostage. At the same time, Midzaynov, Zari and Hagar would distract the Pit Vipers who were guarding the street.

With the fly spell cast, Thane and Wykeera glided into the air towards the tower where Pakt was located. When they arrived at the window to the third floor, it became evident that the windows on the second and third stories were boarded up. While weighing the pros and cons of using magic to break the boards, Thane noticed that the door on the first story of the building was accessible, and floated down to ground level. Meanwhile, Midzaynov, Hagar and Zari approached two Pit Vipers who were guarding the street below. Taking a cue from what they had seen inside the perimeter during their initial reconnaissance, they asked if they could enter to partake in drug use and general revelry. The Pit Vipers were wary at first, even going as far as to attract the attention of two more guards on the roofs of adjacent buildings. The turning point for their midnight subterfuge was when Zari, Kielel faithful and devotee to order, surprised even Zielyr by showing off her buttocks to entice them. Thrilled at the concept of being with a woman or experiencing sexual intimacy of any kind, the Pit Vipers allowed the entourage entry to their territory.

Around the same time, Thane and Wykeera infiltrated the first floor of the tower that Pakt was located in. The room that they entered took up the entirety of the first story and was empty save for a smattering of basic wooden furniture. Ever-suspicious of unseen dangers, Thane retrieved the spyglass of secrets from his bandolier to locate any traps or secret doors. Upon activating it, he detected a long slit in the wooden floor beneath him. The entire room, he discovered, was a cleverly-disguised pit trap. Utilizing the magic from his fly spell, Thane floated over the floorboards, unaware of the four Pit Vipers lurking in the opposite stairwell with short bows at the ready.

Before he could react, the hidden gang members shot Thane with several arrows tipped with deadly serpent venom. Losing consciousness almost immediately, Thane fell from the air and triggered the trap below. The trap door swung downward, plunging both the adventurers and several pieces of furniture into a large pit of water. As Thane's unconscious form began to sink below the water's surface, the hungry coils of a large constrictor snake began to wrap themselves around him. It was the cry of one of the Pit Vipers yelling “they're here!” that alerted Midzaynov, Hagar and Zari to their friends’ plight.

Zari's summoned spiritual weapon dispatched the guards on top of their towers, while Midzaynov and Hagar used their hammers to decimate the desperate Pit Vipers who led them into their territory. Inside, the situation was much more grim. Wykeera kept Thane alive through another round of arrows from the Pit Vipers above the pit and the giant constrictor snakes who planned to make meals of the two adventurers below. Before Wykeera had time to do anything else, the doors to the trap closed above them, leaving the two adventurers trapped in pitch darkness. Thinking on her feet, Wykeera cast water walk to take away the serpent's environmental advantage. She then used her balm of the summer court to bring Thane back to consciousness. Thane awoke in the pitch dark of the pit, and used misty step to teleport from the tightening coils of the viper to one of the adjacent walls. He cast a minor illusion to create a small source of light (even though that is not how that spell works. Even I am confused how Thane managed to pull that one off. I will have to question The Maker on that subject … ) and blasted the gear mechanism that held the door closed with an eldritch blast. This caused half of the trap door to drop back down, bringing some Pit Vipers down with it.

Hagar, ever-ready to figuratively dive into the fray, literally dove headfirst into the pit of water. Utilizing his new water-based storm powers, he made quick work of the Pit Vipers who had fallen into the pit along with one of the giant constrictor snakes. Once Thane and Wykeera had escaped from the trap, Thane electrocuted several enemies who were still in the water using his lighting magic and Wykeera dispatched a Pit Viper while using wild shape to borrow the form of a panther. Midzaynov used her bardic magics to inspire Hagar, and Zari pushed one of the remaining Pit Vipers into their own trap with her shield. Meanwhile, Hagar utilized his snake of climbing to wrangle and tame one of the giant vipers still within the pit. It was the most impressive thing that any of the Pit Vipers had ever seen, right up to their deaths. Hagar named the viper Seps, who accompanied the party as they hurried up the stairs, unsure of how much time they would have before more Pit Vipers discovered them.

The party ascended to the second floor, where they found an empty secondary staging area for an ambush. It appeared that the Pit Vipers did not get a chance to use their fallback location before their defeat. Thane devised a plan to ascend to the third floor wearing the guise of a Pit Viper and suggest that Pakt go with the them. When they used illusions to create the clamors of combat, however, the party heard many pairs of footsteps moving upstairs in response to the noise they created and thought against it. When the party arrived at the third floor, they found Pakt lounging at a table with her elite guards. She seemed to be expecting them. When Thane realized that she wasn't alone, he began the incantations necessary to cast shatter, but was unable to release the spell's energy before Pakt made her move.

Despite the numerical disadvantage that Pakt now faced, she charged ahead to face her would-be abductors. Raising the sleeve that concealed what was left of her amputated left arm, Pakt revealed a mechanical contraption embedded into the arm itself. From this implant, a small circular projectile made of metal shot into the center of the party and exploded into a cloud of deadly toxic fumes. Coughing and gasping, the party took a dangerous amount of damage from this gas. Pakt rotated the cylinder in her arm to load another round, drew the short sword from its scabbard and assumed a defensive position. It was clear that Pakt was confident with a blade, and had survived her share of battles. Hagar and Seps charged towards her, a monstrous combination of both strength and agility. Even with only one arm, the changeling gang leader kept pace with Hagar and Seps’ combined martial prowess. Throughout the battle, Seps’ loyalty shifted as both Pakt and Hagar vied to sway the animal. Ultimately, the serpent decided to stay loyal to Hagar up until the moment that Pakt decapitated it. The battle was bloody for both sides. Wykeera used a combination of her balm of the summer court and healing spirit to keep the party fighting through Pakt’s onslaught of toxic gas. Hagar utilized his arrow-catching shield to protect the party from errant arrows, and Thane destroyed Pakt’s elite guards with a casting of lightning bolt. The battle ended in favor of the F.I.A when Hagar knocked Pakt unconscious with the hilt of his warhammer.

As the F.I.A planned their retreat, a somewhat familiar voice called up the staircase to the third floor asking if everything was alright. The party prepared an ambush, and set upon the unsuspecting figure as soon as they crossed the threshold into the room. Before he could share the astonishing tale of how he had become a Pit Viper after a fateful day in which he decided that his true destiny would be found outside Yalba’s city walls, Kriv was knocked unconscious by Hagar and Midzaynov. Another time, Kriv.

With another casting of the fly spell, Midzaynov and Thane fled the safe house through the hole that Thane’s lightning bolt had created. They took fire from some Pit Vipers on the ground, but managed to escape to the Ashborne Quarter. Thinking on his feet, Hagar attached one end of his snake of climbing to the splinters left in the hole that Thane had created. Hagar, Zari and Wykeera used the rope to sneak out of Pit Viper territory before they were discovered and killed. Minutes later, Midzaynov and Thane landed in front of the Leviathan’s Pit with the unconscious form of Pakt. Suspecting some kind of deception from Ro’Zudof, Midzaynov cast a message spell to Bana-Kye to inquire as to his whereabouts. He responded thusly, in a strained whisper:

“Traitor. Ro-Zudof … traitor. Stay away. Stay! Away! Tomorrow. They’re executing me tomorrow at sunset. Don’t come. DON'T COME!
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Session 24: Baklava and Betrayal [Part 1]
Spirits of The Maker, I thank you for once again joining me at the shores of the Endless Sea. As you are aware, it brings me such joy to recount the various exploits of mortals; so short are their lives, and so great is their ambition! The events that I am about to retell occurred on the 4th and 5th of Iazon in the year 77 PA. We will follow the adventurers of the F.I.A. as they help a young sorceress evolve her powers, discover further details about what threatens Yalba's high clergy, and attempt to kidnap the leader of one of Janav’s most fearsome gangs. Let us begin.

The derelict shack that the F.I.A found themselves in the night of the 4th of Iazon was equal parts cramped and dimly-lit. The only sources of light, in fact, was the moonlight streaming through the poorly-constructed slats of the structure's roof and the jade-colored glow emanating from the tattoos of two of the most dangerous men in Janav's capital: Bana-Kye and Ro-Zudof. Surrounding the two bald humans were several masked figures wearing cloaks designed for Yalba's harsh desert climate. These individuals were elite members of the Jade Dragons. For many years, the Jade Dragons had represented Yalba’s strongest criminal organization due to the ferocity of their leader, Bana-Kye. However, ever since an act of mercy from Bana-Kye that saved the life of Hagar several years ago, the Jade Dragons have been losing both territory and influence to other criminal organizations within the city. Bana-Kye saw the return of Hagar as a sign to reclaim what he perceived as being his by right. To that end, he had devised a plan with his lieutenant Ro-Zudof and summoned the F.I.A to complete for him one simple task …

“I need you to kidnap Pakt, the leader of the Pit Vipers,” Bana-Kye uttered to the adventurers before him in a tone scarcely above a whisper. Then there was silence. Tension. A few of the Jade Dragons tightened their grip on the blades hidden beneath their cloaks. They knew that the one-armed changeling was almost as ruthless as their leader, for she had survived through great hardships growing up outside the city walls. Bana-Kye explained to the adventurers that to keep Hagar safe from the threat of the Pit Vipers and the Bloodbroods, the Jade Dragons would need to provide proper incentive. To that end, while the F.I.A was kidnapping Pakt, a subset of the Jade Dragons’ forces led by Ro-Zudof would abduct Thyrias, the tiefling leader of the Bloodbroods. Once the F.I.A and Jade Dragons brought both gang leaders to the Leviathan's Pit, Bana-Kye would impress upon them the new power structure of criminal organizations in Yalba. By Bana-Kye's logic, this operation would prove that it was by his will alone that they still drew breath.

The party accepted the mission before them, and Ro-Zudof took over to explain further. According to a Jade Dragon spy, Pakt would be inspecting one of her safe houses in Pit Viper territory tomorrow night. Here, she would have less personal security than she would at her headquarters and be closer to the outer edge of her territory. In other words, the timing would be ideal for a kidnapping. Given the fact that both gangs knew of Hagar's whereabouts and wanted him dead, there was little time to wait for another opportunity. A storm was fast approaching, and a preemptive strike would allow the Jade Dragons to draw first blood. But indeed, a bloodbath was not what Bana-Kye and Ro-Zudof envisioned. The Jade Dragon leaders warned the F.I.A not to kill Pakt. Too much bloodshed would trigger a war that the Jade Dragons would not be able to win with brute strength alone. “Her personal guard, though...”, Ro-Zudof added with a smirk, “... they're fair game.”

As both parties were about to take their leave, Hagar turned to Bana-Kye and asked for his jade stone back. Bana-Kye frowned and shook his head, but offered to return it once the dust on their operation had settled. Hagar then asked why. Before Bana-Kye could respond, Ro-Zudof cut in. He told Hagar that some of the Jade Dragons still blamed Hagar for their organization's decline in power since he left. Returning the stone before they rectified the situation might cause unnecessary tension. Hagar was disappointed, but agreed to the terms nonetheless.

When the F.I.A awoke the next morning in the House of Champions, Atka served them a hearty breakfast of fried snake and scrambled eggs. While partaking in her meal, Midzaynov asked Atka about Lidda's whereabouts. Atka informed her that two days ago, a loud aasimar took Lidda to the Wyvern’s Rest Inn in the Victory District. While the party discussed their plans for the day, Thane asked Atka to hold his new archalium-based spellcasting focus for a moment. Cupping the dice in her hands, Atka asked the party if she could have their attention. The party agreed, and Atka launched into a speech about her dread around the recent abnormal activity among the Yalban clergy. She (and the majority of the common folk of Yalba) looked to the clergy for moral guidance. With the recent revelations that Farouk al-Fahai had murdered his own son and that Barakas al-Bay had cheated on his wife before his death, it felt as though the corrupt factions of Yalba would soon overtake the balance of power and all hope for the fair and equal treatment for Yalba's citizens would disappear. Atka’s voice began to tremble, and the dice in her hands began to glow a bright crimson hue. As her monologue grew in intensity, the glow in her hands grew ever brighter. Through tears, she spoke: “if the clergy are in trouble. And if something were to happen to them ... I would lose my fucking mind. A lot of people would. The clergy are the only hope that people like me have for a better life. And without them, our hope dies.” It was at that moment that Zari with the best of intentions said “don’t worry, Atka - Abdul is back.”

Zari had forgotten for a moment that Abdul's disappearance was a secret. It was not known to the general populace of Yalba that Abdul had returned for the simple reason that they did not know that he had been missing in the first place. Atka did not take this revelation well. Feeling trapped and overwhelmed, an inherent magical force erupted within her. Atka’s hair and eyes began to glow a deep shade of scarlet and an arcane flame surrounded her as her feet left the floor. As the flames settled in a protective mantle around her, Midzaynov was able to determine Atka’s sorcerous bloodline: that of the legendary phoenix. A moment later, Atka's uncontrollable arcane outburst ended, the glow from her eyes faded, and she began to fall towards the floor. Midzaynov caught her in her arms, Atka dried her tears, and many celebratory hugs were had.

Once the F.I.A finished breakfast, they escorted Atka to Moroden’s Domain. By their logic, this move would keep her safe from any would-be collateral damage from the Pit Vipers or Bloodbroods. Travelling through the secret portal in Paha's Garden, the party re-emerged in the ruined cathedral in the Plane of Elemental Air. They met with Jeralf, one of Moroden's more “experienced” servants. He told them that Moroden was out on business and reminded them where the guest bedroom was located. They left Atka in her temporary safe house and Thane bestowed upon her his old spellcasting focus as a parting gift. The young phoenix sorcerer clutched the loaded dice in her hand and waved as the F.I.A closed the door behind them.

Next, the party paid a visit to the The Hellraisers. Located in the Victory District, the large wooden building that housed them seemed to have been a tavern at some point in the past. The abolitionist headquarters possessed a rough-and-tumble attitude and several armed tieflings who were discussing how best to free the Yalban slaves as the party entered. Midzaynov intended to use the visit to determine if the headquarters would be a suitable place to leave Quespa, the 4-year-old dragonborn she had rescued from the Palace of Pleasure who now found herself without a home. Between the high count of unsheathed weapons lying about, tankards of spilled ale and blaring noise level, it did not take long for her to make her decision. This did not deter Hagar, however, as it took little time for him to ask the leader of The Hellraisers, the white-skinned tiefling Makaria, if he could fit in a quick sparring match during their visit.

It took only a moment for the Hellraisers to clear the space enough to reveal a small fighting pit made of sand. Hagar found himself face-to-face with a Hellraiser known as Samash, a lithe tiefling with short, white hair. The sparring match took less time than Hagar had anticipated. Although Samash could hold her own in a fight, Hagar's electrically-imbued punches soon overpowered her. The match ended with the tiefling embedded in one of the nearby walls. Samash received divine healing from Makaria while Hagar received a raucous applause from the surrounding crowd. As the F.I.A was leaving, Midzaynov promised Makaria that they would discuss the state of slavery in Yalba at some point in the future. Makaria gave her a thumbs-up, and returned her attention to fixing the damaged wall from the sparring match. The party then decided to eat some baklava and baklalava for lunch while Midzaynov ran an errand in the Duneshadow District.

With Quespa on her mind, Midzaynov took the trek across the city to visit the Temple of Gavriel. The ramshackle structure in the slums of Yalba housed those who were faithful to the dragon goddess, and was run by a bronze dragonborn priest named Heskan. When Midzaynov arrived, the two dragonborn exchanged pleasantries as they cleaned the central worship space from the feast that occurred there the previous night. Reaching into her bag, Midzaynov then gifted 500 gold pieces - a small fortune - to the temple as an act of charity. She then asked Heskan if he would be willing to watch over Quespa for the time being. The shocked dragonborn replied in the affirmative, and Midzaynov handed him a pouch containing an additional 200 gold pieces. She intended for this provide Quespa with the best education at my Anatheum, clothing that was not threadbare, and a full stomach each night. Midzaynov was not able to gauge Heskan's exact reaction to the gold, but he accepted it nonetheless. During their conversation, Midzaynov noticed Heskan yawning. When Midzaynov asked, Heskan admitted that he had not been sleeping well lately due to an insomnia that has gripped him for most of his life. This revelation disturbed Midzaynov. After all, Farouk al-Fahai reported a lack of restful sleep and even nightmares in the days leading up to the murder of his son, and the party believed that there may be a connection between the two.

Midzaynov left the clergyman and asked Quespa if she would like to stay in the temple for the foreseeable future. Quespa agreed with a smile, and told Midzaynov that she would serve Gavriel in whatever way she could. Midzaynov then turned her back to the young dragonborn, removed the old cockatrice beak from her flute, and then spun around to present Quespa with her newest gift. The dragonborn was not what some might call “gifted” at the instrument, but Midzaynov spent a few hours showing her the fundamentals alongside her songhammer nonetheless. Before their lesson ended, Midzaynov asked Quespa to keep an eye on Heskan and report back to her if she noticed anything strange. Quespa agreed to what she thought was an odd request, and then proceeded to play a note on the flute that would make even Zaziel wince in pain.

Meanwhile, Zari and Wykeera paid a visit to Zari's family. When they arrived at the front doors of the Temple of Kielel in The Spires, Zari's little brother Hamza bounced up to greet them. Seeing his sister appear at the temple's doorstep, Hamza exclaimed Zari's name aloud. He was happy to see her, but his furrowed brow betrayed his deeper feelings of fear. As Zari's name echoed through the spacious halls of the ebony-hued temple, the reason for his concern became evident. Ringing out from the upper floors was a familiar voice that shrieked “Zari Misza, where have you been?”. Stomping down the staircase was Tulsi Misza, High Drema of the Yalban Temple of Kielel and Zari's mother. Enraged, Tulsi began screaming at her daughter. Zari, after all, had not checked in with her family since she left with the F.I.A for the Palace of Pleasure, which was over a month ago.

Tulsi unleashed a hysterical verbal onslaught onto her daughter, the likes of which Zari had never seen before. The young cleric knew her mother's temperament well, and it typically resembled that of the ocean at calm. This sudden hurricane was something completely new to Zari and Hamza, who found themselves dwarfed by their mother’s anger. Zari's father Palor, still injured from the attack on their temple by Xeridal's forces about a month ago, tiptoed into the conversation. Palor made a valiant attempt to calm Tulsi down by reminding her that the most important aspect of Zari's albeit late return was that she returned in one piece. Inconsolable, Tulsi accused Zari of misplacing her allegiances and not dedicating herself enough to the church. Zari defended herself, asserting that she was away on a mission that affected the church and her allegiances were where they needed to be. Zari managed to make her mother take pause for a brief moment before she stormed out of the temple, leaving a heavy silence in her wake.

As they collected themselves from the aftermath of Tulsi's outburst, Palor sent Hamza away in to speak to the two adventurers in private. He told them that the situation was dire. Through tear-filled eyes, he confided in Zari and Wykeera that the forbiddancespell that Tulsi had been casting every day to protect the temple had not been aiding her sleep. Sitting at the family dinner table, Palor clutched his daughter’s hand and begged her to work faster to figure out what was happening to the clergy in Yalba. Palor was unsure how much time remained before Tulsi fell apart completely, and how devastating the damage would be when she did.

Meanwhile - and the divine waters that make up my domain may have been somehow altered because this makes very little sense - Thane and Hagar smoked a large amount of oousad, imbibed a large amount of alcohol and wandered into the desert while both high and drunk. I believe that the protection that they gave Xeridal’s ring from divination magic may be interfering with my divine connection to all events that occur on the material plane, but it would appear that they *squints* … found a rattlesnake den and were so out of their wits that they thought that the snakes were Zari's family. They began to hallucinate that it was in fact them who were having the argument at the Temple of Kilel. The rattlesnakes then bit them, which caused them to hallucinate even more … I need to test the waters of my domain for any intrusion. As outlandish as the F.I.A can be at times, even this seems to be a stretch. Send for an agent to check on the health of the Endless Sea and assure that our enemies have not found a way to tamper with my sight.

Once the party had completed their various well-intentioned charity work, stressful family reunions and alleged drug-induced wanderings through the desert, they reunited in the Diamond Bazaar and recounted to each other what they had discovered about Heskan and Tulsi. In preparation for their mission that night, the party purchased dark cloaks from a nearby vendor, applied makeup to Zari to change her skin color (seeing the retainer of a princess associating with gangs would create more problems for the party than they needed) and made their way to the southern gate of the city. When they arrived, they found Ro-Zudof waiting for them. Unfortunately, party had outdone themselves with their disguises, for Ro-Zudof did not recognize them and began to leave. Once the party revealed themselves, Ro-Zudof wished them luck and vanished off into the shadows to begin his part of the operation.

The F.I.A left the relative safety of Yalba's walls from the south gate and made their way into The Crescent, the shanty town that took up the southwestern part of Yalba's outer wall. They kept an eye open for taller structures, knowing that the Pit Vipers had the funding to build two and even three story buildings that would dwarf the sea of huts and lean-tos that made up the majority of the district. With the moon high above them, the party crept through the shadows towards their target.
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