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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 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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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 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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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 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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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 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — Conversations with One of the Dead
"I am called Jayce. What is your name?"

   "I am Shunnari." The ghost curtseyed.

   "Is that what your friends call you?"

   "Do your friends not call you by your name?"

   "Actually, I go by several names. But what do you do here?"

   Vashti elbowed him. "...I mean, in your free time?"

   "I practice dancing. I relax with my sisters. We enjoy the pool."

   "The pool?"

   "Have you never heard of a pool?"

   "No, of course I have. I did not know there was a pool here."

   "Yes, it is in the rooftop garden. I bathe there daily. There are several pools in this jhasinnadah. Have you not seen any?"

   "Jhasinnadah?" asked Jayce. It sounded like it probably meant "beautiful house" in Alzhedo, but he was not certain. Vashti elbowed him again.

   "How did you come to be here?" Shunnari asked.

   Nervous, Jayce avoided her question and changed the subject. "Your dancing was most exquisitely beautiful, by the way! Do you perform often? Who is your audience?"

   Meanwhile, around the corner, Leokas cautioned Mythlos and Belvin, whispering, "Jayce is actually talking to the ghost."

   "Can we slay it?" Mythlos asked.

   "No, she's already dead!"

   The three of them stepped around the corner, distracting the ghost from Jayce's question. "Who are these?" she asked.

   "These are my other companions."

   The ghost gasped, startling all of them. Her wispy finger pointed at Mythlos. "You are covered with blood! What happened?"

   "A mosquito...," started Mythlos, but Leokas covered his mouth. "He fell on his sword; it was an accident," Leokas lied. Thankfully, she seemed to be satisfied with his answer.

   "You should visit the healer downstairs," she said.

   Jayce tried to get her focus away from the elves. "You said you perform. For whom do you dance?"

   "For nobles, guests, whomever I am commanded to dance. On occasion, I have danced for Calim himself."

   "Calim?" answered Jayce, genuinely surprised. "It must be an honor to dance before one so noble as the caliph himself. Where do you perform?"

   "In the great hall."

   "Where is that?"

   "Below us in the main portion of the jhasinnadah. You must have passed it to come here...."

   Mythlos interrupted, before Leokas could do anything about it. "We are looking for things that are shiny. Can you help us?"

   Shunnari looked confused and uncomfortable, "This is a palace," she said. "Everything around you is decorated, polished, and clean. Why are you all here again?"

   "Do you ever think about what lies beyond the grave?" asked Jayce, hoping to change the topic again, and trying to confirm his growing suspicion that Shunnari had no idea that she was dead.

   She frowned. "That sounds like something for the philosophers to discuss. I, however, have not been taught the philosophies; it is not for women to learn."

   Vashti, concerned that this conversation was dangerously close to failing, spoke up in Alzhedo. Jayce understood her to say the following, "How long have you been a jhasina?" (He was fairly certain that jhasina literally meant "beautiful one".)

   "Four years"

   "Were you born here?"

   "Yes, my mother was a jhasina before me."

   "Are you human or jann?"

   "Human."

   "Where is Calim now?"

   "I know not; Calim comes and goes as he pleases."

   "When did you last see him?"

   "I cannot remember."

   "She's a curious one, isn't she?" said Jayce to the elves behind him.

   "Where do you make preparations?" continued Vashti.

   "In my room."

   "Can you take us there?" asked Jayce.

   "No, of course not! You are not a eunuch."

   "But I am a eunuch!"

   Shunnari looked highly suspicious. "Your voice is rather deep for a eunuch. I do not think I believe you. How did you get here? How did you get past the guards? Who are you? I am confused."

   "I am confused too! We were just trying to find our way to speak to Calim in the great hall. We must have gotten lost. But I assure you we are allowed here. I was only jesting about being a eunuch, but see, we were being escorted by this eunuch here." He motioned to Leokas, who had no idea what was being said, as the conversation was still in Alzhedo. "I don't know how he got us lost, since he was supposed to know the way...." He spoke to Leokas in Common. "Isn't it true that you are a eunuch and our guide?"

   "Yes, I am a eunuch and their guide," said Leokas in the highest voice he could manage.

   "Are you an elf?" she asked with wonder, just noticing his pointed ears.

   "No, no, I just have slightly more pointed ears than most folk." He covered them with his long hair.

   Mythlos covered his own ears also, and Belvin simply backed away around the corner.

   "You do lack many masculine features," Shunnari said, "and that is true for eunuchs, but it is also true for elves, so I have been told. I have never, of course, seen any, as they are not permitted to enter the caliphate....

   "In any case," she said, "Men are not allowed in this branch of the jhasinnadah. You should have your eunuch lead you back to the main palace. What time is it?"

   They looked at each other. No one really knew.

   "Perhaps the eleventh hour," suggested Mythlos.

   "I must take my leave then. It is time for my perfuming."

   "How long will that take?"

   "Two hours."

   "Where is that? Is it in the main palace? Perhaps you could lead us as far as that, so that our eunuch can get his bearings again."

   "Follow," she said, "but then you must leave."

   Relieved, the party followed her gliding, ethereal form out of the main, circular chamber down one of the wide halls toward one of the stair columns. She began descending and they followed, but only made it five steps before she floated through the pile of sand and rubble that prevented further passage to the living.

   "So much for that," said Jayce. "All in all, that could have gone a lot worse. I think I rather enjoy talking with one of the dead."

   "We have two hours, perhaps," said Vashti. "We may as well make the most of it and explore this floor."

   "I understand that I had to play that part for the sake of the group," said Leokas, "but I just want to state that I think I am a rather masculine elf."

~~~~


They spent the next hour exploring the current floor. Due to rubble or sand, it did not seem possible to descend any deeper. Four pillars supported the ceiling here, directly under the ones on the floor above. Eleven side rooms surrounded the central chamber, three between each hall, except that the twelfth had been replaced by a passage behind the portcullis. The passage, however, was blocked by fallen rock. A large section of the ceiling had fallen over nearly one quadrant of the circular chamber, which clearly was from the room they had explored above with the collapsed floor.

   In addition to the candelabra that Mythlos had almost tripped over, they found a couple other ancient items: a metal razor, likely used for shaving, and a clay pot. They also found a sack of a couple hundred coins, which could not possibly have been from before the First Age of Calimshan. They surmised that it was a stash belonging to the wererat. They also found some uneaten and fresh rations and assumed them to have belonged to the wererat as well. Magical spells did not reveal any of these items to be magical, but their ideas about the pool of water were confirmed by a faint aura.

   "Now what? We have probably an hour before the ghost returns."

   They remembered that they had not taken one of the useable staircases as high as they could. So they descended past the second ruined floor up into the remains of another tower, which was arranged just like the others.

   One of the three rooms was strangely covered in mold. Belvin, who was an herbalist before setting out on his spirit quest, examined it. "This is not a dangerous mold," he said. "Sometimes, however, the spores are poisonous. We should be careful."

   Another room had a large urn against the wall. It had a metal plug and was sealed somewhat tightly. No one had a crowbar with them, but Mythlos managed to pry it open with his moonblade.

   Inside, there was a leather book.

   He drew it out. It had no markings on the cover. "This could not possibly be thousands of years old," he said. He opened it, hoping to see magical inscriptions. There were none, but the pages were covered in human writing. He handed it to Jayce, who was all too eager to examine it.

   The writing was in Alzhedo, though an older dialect perhaps. He informed the others of this.

   "What does it say?"

   "It appears to be... a diary. The date is meaningless to me. Of course! It was thousands of years before the Dale Reckoning. Here is the actual text: 'Today, Farija, helped me to balance with...,' I do not know this word, '...on my head while standing on one foot.' Odd." He turned a few pages. "'I braided Munan's hair this afternoon. She thanked me, and now she owes me a favor. She was led before mumijn Saril tonight, quite nervous. The mumijn tends to fall asleep quickly, which makes things awkward. I told her not to concern herself with that and suggested she hide a book in her blouse to read if he was too drunk to stay awake. I assured her that he would fall asleep from drunkenness and not boredom. I wish I had the same confidence myself. ~S.'" He stopped. "'S'? Is this Shunnari's diary?" He turned more pages. "Oh.... That's more detail than I expected."

   Vashti pulled the book away from him.

   "How could it have been preserved?" asked Belvin.

   Mythlos chanted one of his memorized cantrips and motioned with his hands. "The urn is magical," he said. "Not strongly so, but there is definitely an aura about it."

   "I think she is bound to this book," said Jayce. "It makes sense now. She stored her diary here, and its continued preservation must have trapped her soul in this realm!"

   "The poor girl does not even know she is dead," said Vashti. "Trapped in life, trapped in death, a slave in both realms."

   "I think we have found our relic for the dragon," said Leokas.

   "What is the last page?" asked Mythlos. "Maybe we can learn how she died."

   Jayce took the book back from Vashti. "'Tonight, I was led before one of the enhirri,'" he read. "'He was new to me....'"

   "Stop," said Vashti.

   "How does the last entry end?"

   "Um," continued Jayce, afraid Vashti might hit him, "it just says, 'I look forward to tomorrow. ~S'"

   "We should leave here," said Vashti. "We have our relic, and the ghost may return, and I do not want to find her angry that we have stolen her possession. She is almost finished her delusional 'treatments'."

~~~~


Back two floors below, another disagreement began about what to do next. Vashti wanted to return to the dragon and leave the ruins as soon as possible, before the ghost returned. Mythlos and Jayce were displeased with the lack of treasure they had found and wanted to try and reach Calim's chambers, which the ghost had indicated were further below.

   "Do you really think anything remains of this palace?" said Vashti. "The ghost is delusional. She sees the whole thing in the Ethereal Plane as a mirror of what it once was."

   "We do not have shovels," said Belvin. "It seems to me that we can't go any deeper without digging."

   That's what Mythlos and Jayce wanted to do. They stood side-by-side in the stair column and tried to dig their way a little further down. Suddenly, Jayce felt a very awkward sensation. Shunnari passed right through his body heading up the stairs past them.

   The ghost noticed all of them. "Why are you standing on the stairs?"

   "Oh, you are back," said Jayce.

   "Have we met?" Shunnari asked.

   "This is our eunuch," he said, pointing back at Leokas, "and I am the bard who has been sent to play for the Caliph. You were leading us to the great hall."

   "I was?"

   Jayce nodded hopefully, thankful that Shunnari did not seem to have the easiest time processing information in her dead state.

   "Follow me, then." She floated toward the spiral stairs, (with Jayce stepping out of the way this time,) descended, and passed through the sand and rubble again.

   "We are leaving," said Vashti. "I do not want to trust her poor memory will save us when she figures out that we are not following her."

   "Vashti!" said Jayce. "Where is your sense of adventure? I thought you loved exploring for treasure. This is a dungeon! Adventurers live for this."

   "This is not a dungeon; it's a harem."

   "You know what I mean."

   "Ordinarily, I would be delighted in exploring, but we are finished here."

   "Why?"

   "I am not comfortable here any longer."

   "Is it the rats?"

   "No, it is not the rats."

   "The ghost? You can be honest with us, Vashti. What is bothering you?"

   "I am bothered by many things, including your nagging questions." She held her hand out. "Give me the diary. I am going back to Sseth. Come when you like."

   "I am going with her," said Belvin. "I miss my camel.

   "Go slowly, Vashti," he said to her. "My light spell is spent and unlike you, I cannot see in the dark."

   "Give us six hours," the others called out to them. "We won't be any longer than that."

~~~~


"What was her problem?" Leokas said when they had gone.

   Things started to make sense to Mythlos. "I think she used to be a harem slave," he said.

   The others looked surprised.

   "Think about it. She hates slavery. She hates men. She is extremely agile. She started getting ever more uncomfortable since we met the ghost and especially when you were reading her diary. I think she escaped and fled to Copper Hill to the mages' enclave where she became a sorceress."

   "And what is she? A janni?" asked Leokas.

   "Maybe she is half-djinni," said Jayce. "In any case, she's angry at me and gone, so let's see what else we can find."

~~~~


They found nothing else and no way of descending any further. Giving up after only another hour, they retrieved the large magic urn from Shunnari's room, thankfully not running into the ghost again, and headed to the surface.
Session: 12th Game Session - Tuesday, Jul 02 2013 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Epic!