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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — An Anticlimactic End
~ eighth-day, 8th of Hammer, The Year of Rogue Dragons, highsun
Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen


The spelljammer hovered over the surface of the dried sands of the Calim Desert. Solisar, Belvin, and Leokas had followed the gnomish illusionist's map to the Spinning Keep of Siri'wadjen without issue.

   The keep was not like any structure any of them had ever seen. To call it a structure at all was perhaps not the right language. The Keep was essentially an outer shell to the infamous Calimmemnon Crystal, the magical prison of the greatest two genies of Calishite history. The Keep was itself crystalline, a dodecahedron of pearly, translucent material, which was hard to spot in the day's sunlight until they were rather close.

   The twelve-sided keep magically floated some fourteen or fifteen yards from the surface of the sand and rotated on multiple axes simultaneously. It was more than 20 yards in diameter.

   About 100 yards west of the Spinning Keep was a large, circular tent.

   "Allu and his goblin archwizard are already here, as we expected," said Szordrin, standing at the railing of their spelljammer.

   "Let me take a look," said Solisar, as he removed a bit of bat fur from his component pouch. They waited for ten minutes for him to complete his divinatory spell, after which point he seemed to enter into one of his trances.

   "I am entering the tent. There are two cots here. One of the cots is occupied by a small goblin in robes."

   "The archwizard," said Hakam, "but who sleeps on the other cot, and where is he?"

   "Durbuluk?" suggested Belvin.

   "No, he stayed behind," said Hakam. "It is likely Allustairimarinastralmindivu's cot, and he has already entered the Keep."

   "He cannot enter the Keep," said Solisar. "The elven high magic prevents it, remember. Only the goblin can enter the keep."

   Belvin said, "Allu is gone, and his wizard is asleep — this is either a trap, or we are exceptionally fortunate."

   "Could the tent be an illusion?" asked Hakam.

   "If I were closer in body, I could scan it for auras," said Solisar.

   "We have to take the risk," said Szordrin. "This could be our only chance. Lunk, lower us to the ground."

   Kytharrah lowered them in one of the rowboats to the sand, then lowered Kamil, and finally came down one of the ropes himself.

   Szordrin stealthily approached closer to the tent and then returned to the others. "The tent itself has no magical aura, but there are some inside. The wizard likely wears some sort of magical items."

   "I can encompass the whole tent in silence," said Hakam. "The wizard will not be able to use any verbal spells or hear us as we approach."

   "Do not silence the flap of the tent, so that I can stand at the entrance and use my own magic," said Szordrin.

   "If the goblin is asleep, I can take it out with a single arrow," said Leokas. "Mark my words."

   "I can call on the winds to further guide your shot," said Belvin.

   "I can approach the tent invisible and open the flap," said Szordrin. "The moment that I do, let loose your arrows."

   Everyone agreed with the plan.

   Solisar granted Leokas the ability to see invisible creatures, while Belvin blessed him and enchanted everyone's ranged weapons. Leokas himself called for a blessing from Solonor.

   The others protected and readied themselves in other magical ways. Szordrin created illusionary duplicates of himself, and he and they all turned invisible. Belvin mounted Kamil. Kytharrah drank one of his potions.

   "Kytharrah, stay by my side," Hakam commanded. Then he completed a brief prayer that created a bubble of silence around the whole tent.

   "Follow my footprints," said Szordrin, and he moved quickly toward the tent. Leokas followed.

   The flap to the tent was whipped back, and several Szordrins appeared. They and Leokas took aim at the goblin. As the arrow left Leokas' bow, a powerful gust of wind rushed past the wood elf and visibly spiraled around the projectile as it traveled. Simultaneously, rays of fire erupted from the fingertips of the Szordrins.

   The flames enveloped the goblin, but seemed to do nothing to him or his robes, except to startle him awake. The arrow, however, struck through the goblin's right arm, through his side, and into his spinal column, striking with enough force to knock the tiny humanoid from the cot and unto the floor.

   Leokas nocked another arrow and took aim toward the ground. The goblin was not dead. Instead, he seemed to explode into a cloud of black smoke. The cloud was vaguely humanoid and much larger than a goblin or even a hobgoblin, filling half the tent. Red fire glowed for eyes.

   "He vanished into black smoke! It is Allu!" shouted Leokas in warning to those on the other side of the tent. He let fly his arrow, followed by two others, as the cloud immediately flowed under the tent and outside. The magic enchantment in his arrows caused the cloud to break apart with each hit. Szordrin tried to bind the gaseous form of the genie to the earth, but he could not overcome the efreeti's magic. Free from the confines of the tent, it rose into the sky.

   Hakam and the others outside the tent saw the smoke cloud rising and could make out the shape of arms and horns. The cleric touched Kytharrah and an aura of blue, watery mist formed around him. Belvin rode up and instilled him with extra strength. Everyone felt a surge of speed, as Solisar hasted them. "Attack the genie if it comes near enough to strike!" ordered Hakam, and Kytharrah took an offensive stance and waited.

   But the genie rose higher into the sky, far out of reach of any melee weapon. "You! You are the mortal scum who stole my gem!" came a booming voice from the cloud, just as Leokas and Szordrin appeared back outside the tent. The upper portion of the cloud formed into the bare upper torso of a muscular humanoid with bronze-colored, metallic skin, black, magma-like blood pouring from a wound in the side and arm. The blood struck the sand and sizzled and hardened. A ball of fire ignited in Allu's left palm as he opened his tusked mouth and roared. "Give it... ugh!"

   Surrounded by another tunnel of wind, a magical arrow escaped from Leokas' bow, piercing the efreeti's neck.

   The genie fell from the sky like a meteor, bursting into a black cloud on impact, which dissipated into nothing.

   They gathered around the scorched sand where the efreeti had fallen. "That was anticlimactic," said Belvin.
Session: 100th Game Session! - Wednesday, Jan 24 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The "Preparation Room"
They climbed up the stone steps into the ceiling some fifteen or twenty feet above, rising into another dark and massive chamber 50 feet high. The glowing omlar gem was able to illuminate most of the 50- to 60-yard cavernous room. It was empty of any visible life. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, but it appeared that any stalagmites had been broken off and filed down to make the floor as flat as possible. Large boulders and natural stone columns were distributed about the room, but the object that caught everyone's attention immediately was the portal gate in the center.

"The same black metal as what Samber uses," said Hakam.

They all approached the giant ring. It sat on a crude dais made of slabs of stone and was haphazardly embedded in concrete. It was about fifteen feet in diameter.

Szordrin, now holding the omlar gem, looked at the metal of the ring. It was made from five separate pieces. Each piece had the symbol of the Interlink Consortium of Bral etched into it. The discovery immediately triggered feelings of anger in the tiefling.

Solisar also looked more closely. "The metal is marked with the rune for fire," he explained, "just like on the odd faces of the omlar gem. It must be a portal to the Plane of Fire, though we have a scroll from the gynosphinx that we encountered that can help me identify this portal's properties more completely."

"At last," said Leokas, "we have found the portal for which the omlar gem is the key."

On hearing this, Szordrin stepped off the dais and handed the omlar gem back to Leokas. "I do not want to get too close while holding this then.

"Solisar," Szordrin continued, "use the scroll. I shall investigate the rest of this chamber in the meantime with my darkvision."

"I see in the dark too!" said Kytharrah.

"Come along then, Lunk, and I know that you are fast."

Kytharrah seemed confused but followed.

Solisar began reading the incantation from the scroll, while the other two elves and Hakam stood by. It took him about a minute, and during that time, he removed a small mirror from among his belongings. When he completed the final words, the glass of mirror began to glow a deep red color, and it looked to be covered in smoke.

"It is as we suspected," said the sun elf. "The portal activates for anyone passing through while holding the key. Actually, the key is only needed on the Material Plane side. That is, once through, the portal remains open back to the Material Plane, and, yes, its destination is on the Plane of Fire, though I cannot see through all the smoke to make out any details about the specific destination.

The others returned to report that they had found a tunnel on the opposite side of the cavern from the stairs. It seemed to slope uphill and curved to the north.

"What did the scroll reveal?" asked Szordrin.

"It leads to the Plane of Fire, but we cannot tell exactly where," Hakam replied. "I suspect that we would not be likely to survive travel through the portal at this point. That realm is not hospitable to most mortals of our kind, and I do not think that we have the magic to protect us from its heat."

"The Plane of Fire is more hospitable than many of the other Inner Planes," said Szordrin. "The Plane of Earth is just a big chunk of infinite earth and rock; the Plane of Air is just a big collection of infinite water, but at least the plane of fire has a bottom, has land to stand on. Because of the genies, there are even cities."

"You seem to know more about the place than I," said Solisar, somewhat surprised by this observation, "but is not the City of Brass still unsurvivably hot?"

"Well, yes."

"Hakam is right then," said Solisar. "We cannot pass through this gate now. We would have to come back with magical protections for all of us. Perhaps I could research such spells in Silverymoon...."

"Even with protective abjurations," said Hakam, "I will not pass through the portal without a backup plan for getting home. I shall have to acquire another planar fork tuned to the Material."

Kytharrah suddenly snorted loudly. He had spotted someone coming up the stairs. Belvin also noticed and watched as a hairy humanoid ascended. Short, pointed horns sprouted from his head, and he had long ears like an elf or goblin. The creature was garbed in leather armor, covered in studs and spikes, and carried a longsword in one hand and a handaxe in the other. When he reached the top of the steps, batlike wings unfurled behind him.

"It is Durbuluk," said Belvin. He raised his shield and scimitar.

Solisar heard the newcomer call out "Nomog smite thee!" in a fiendish tongue while pointing his sword toward Belvin.

A column of unholy fire enveloped the wild elf, and he screamed in pain as he hurriedly tried to extinguish the flames, only to find that they were no longer there; the magic was instantaneous. He dropped to his knees, his skin burning in pain.

Durbuluk leapt into the air, with a powerful flap of his wings, shooting up to the ceiling before any of the others could reach him. He hung with his axe arm around one of the stalactites.

"Belvin, are you...?" Leokas began.

"Do not talk to me; take him out!" shouted the druid. With that, he called out a frantic druidic chant, attempting to magically bind the half-fiend's wings, but he was in too much pain to complete the spell properly.

Leokas nocked an arrow.

Szordrin called out to the others. "Half-fiends have strong resistances, much stronger than tieflings!"

"Then aim for the stalactite!" Belvin replied.

Szordrin followed Belvin's advice and sent a series of force bursts at the stalactite, but the blasts did not break the stone. Leokas tossed the arrow that he had nocked to the the ground and reached for another one, silver tipped, more useful for injuring certain beings of the planes. Hakam moved off the portal dais and offered a prayer to Anachtyr to protect his companions, while Solisar rushed to Kytharrah's side.

"This is not play!" the sun elf instructed, pausing to enspell his own eyes with some divinatory magic. "Can you hit him with your 'goo bag'?"

Kytharrah tossed his last tanglefoot bag up with a powerful underhanded lob. It shattered and covered the hobgoblin cleric with a sticky mess. "Yes!" shouted the minotaur happily.

Solisar also tossed something up into the air, a tiny fragment of broken glass, which vanished.

"Try to fly now!" Leokas taunted, and he unleashed three shots of silver-tipped arrows in rapid succession. The first punctured Durbuluk's leather, but the second was deflected by either armor or magic force, and the third embedded itself into the stalactite.

Having caught his breath, Belvin retreated further back from the battle, easing his own pain with positive energy as he did so. Then, he began a summoning chant.

Durbuluk cried out in the same awful language as before, but this time, fire immolated him, thin, wispy flames of dim, purple light.

Again Solisar understood the words: "Nomog protect me with warm flame!"

"He is protecting himself from cold magic!" Solisar relayed to the others.

Hakam drew his sword and yelled out a command meant to dispel the enemy cleric's protective magic, but there was no response, and Szordrin, too, failed at attempting a spell of his own.

"I can shatter his stalactite," said Solisar, "but I need to get closer. Kytharrah, lift me up!"

Kytharrah grabbed the elf by the waist and lifted him nearly over his head, but it was a wasted effort. Two more arrows from Leokas found their target in Durbuluk's side, and then the fiendish hobgoblin let go, falling into a glide as a third arrow whizzed past him harmlessly. He glided directly at the opponent who had stuck him thrice with arrows, sword extended. Durbuluk came to the ground directly facing the wood elf, and drove his sword up with the added force of his quick descent. The blade plunged through Leokas' gut and the tip came out his lower back.

"I tried to fly," said Durbuluk in Common. He yanked the blade back out. "Did it work?"

Leokas could taste blood in his mouth, and he could feel the heat from the magical fire surrounding the evil cleric burning his skin. Time seemed to slow for Leokas, but in an instant, Hakam was at Leokas' side, before Durbuluk could take another swing, and positive energy surged through the wood elf. Durbuluk raised his sword again, but was distracted when a vial of some alchemical substance struck him, tossed by Szordrin.

Kytharrah set Solisar on the ground, grabbed his axe, and rushed over to flank the hobgoblin, while the sun elf tried to dispel the violet flames around the hobgoblin but failed to succeed.

Leokas, however, sprung back to land on the dais and drew an arrow.

"I know...." Twang. "...the most painful parts...." Twang. "...on your goblin body." Twang. Three more arrows joined their partners, and Durbuluk was beginning to look like a pin cushion. His attempts to deflect the arrows with his weapons or to strike the elf a second time failed.

"I feel no... ah!" Durbuluk's retort was cut off as a long-necked, blue-scaled, yellow-feathered creature with four sets of wings took a chunk of flesh and hair from Durbuluk's skull with its sharp beak as it swooped by. Belvin's summon from the Plane of Air had arrived. The four-eyed creature gave a high-pitched screech, as the flames about Durbuluk had burned it, and flew off to recover and circle about the massive cavern. Durbuluk now nearly stumbled over as dark goblin blood flowed onto his face from the head wound. He jumped into the air again and flapped his powerful wings to carry him some five yards into the air, but an arrow from Belvin now joined the others, puncturing one of the wings.

"Bree-yark! I yield!"

"Kytharrah, stay," said Solisar, but he readied a spell of his own just in case.

The elemental creature circled back for another nip at Durbuluk's head, as the half-fiend struggled to hover above them with powerful downward strokes of his wings.

"There are more where that thing came from," taunted Belvin.

"Spare my life, and I shall tell you everything that you want to know!"

"Tell us of Allu or I shall strike you with the wrath of the gods!" Szordrin shouted, pointing a wand of magic detection at the severely wounded foe and hoping that the half-fiend would not know the difference.

"This one is not a creature of chaos;" said Hakam, "we may be able to listen to him."

Leokas shot another arrow directly into Durbuluk's gut, precisely where the hobgoblin had stabbed him moments earlier.

"Now, I will listen." He lowered his bow, and Belvin dismissed his strange summon.

"Drop your flames, and tell us of Allu!" repeated Szordrin.

The fiendish hobgoblin dropped back to the ground, his goo-covered, arrow-punctured wings barely preventing him from crashing. Landing on one knee and bent over in pain, he dismissed his spell. Then, he strangely began laughing.

"I find it humorous that even his enemies do not know his actual name."
Session: 98th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 06 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Room of Four Columns
The party returned to the cavern complex through the sea cave entrance later that evening, once the tide had lowered again. They still had yet to locate Allu's inner chambers. The interrogated hobgoblins had suggested that his elite forces might be holed up deeper in the caves, where they and Allu had retreated, beyond a massive chamber in the east with a ceiling supported by four thick columns. Supposedly, Allu's chambers were protected against the undead, they had reported, and Szordrin and Hakam had confirmed that at least one more minotaur skeleton and five smaller ones stood "waiting" in the larger room.

The lines of ash that they had left continued to remain undisturbed during their absence. Presumably, the six skeletons had not moved from where they were last seen. "I suppose that if you are already dead, it means nothing to you to stand around for a day," said Leokas.

For once, the group had the time to ready themselves for battle with knowledge of what lay ahead around the corner. Hakam lit up his shield with a prayer, while Solisar cast a similar light spell upon the omlar gem, enhancing the extent of the glow. Hakam increased Kytharrah's strength and protected him from evil. Szordrin likewise protected himself and also created false duplicates of himself. Solisar made his eyes see invisible objects and persons and created a protective forcefield around his clothing. Leokas prayed that Solonor would bless his next shot.

"Are we ready?" asked Szordrin, clutching a bit of bat guano mixed with sulfur between his fingertips, ready for a spell.

"Let us do this," said Leokas, nocking an arrow.

"We charge as soon as I finish casting this last spell," said Solisar. With that, he completed a brief incantation, and a piece of licorice root vanished from his hand.

They all felt a surge of energy and charged out of the cavern passage.

Solisar bowled the glowing omlar gem into the center of the large chamber, filling it with light, revealing five of the previously seen skeletons. A bead of red shot forth from Szordrin's fingertips and struck the ground in their midst, erupting with an echoing blast of light and flame. Bone and bone fragments were scattered in all directions, leaving only the minotaur skeleton in one piece. It threw its head back, as if giving a silent roar. An arrow from Leokas shot through what would have been its open mouth, puncturing the back of its skull. A huge chunk of that fell away, bringing the horns with it. It began to charge, but Leokas caused it to clang to the floor in pieces with a second shot.

Their own living minotaur rushed into the light, passing to the left past one of the four massive columns supporting the ceiling. He saw another skeleton, but it was the extraordinarily thick cloud shape that caught his eye. It looked like it had thick arms and fists, and it had glowing eyes in its midst. He swung his axe at it and found that it felt like he was cutting through something solid and mushy. The cloud parted in half and dissipated, its glowing eyes fading away into nothing. He stood for a moment confused.

Hakam ran after Kytharrah and spotted the same skeleton. He called on Anachtyr to send him a spiritual weapon, and a sword of force appeared before the skeleton and wasted no time in hacking apart the bones.

Three Szordrins charged around the other side of the massive column and saw another hidden opponent. "They have another mummy!" he shouted out in warning, before sending two beams of flame each from his three hand. One of the real beams struck the mummy soundly, but the others passed over her shoulder and struck the column. She was dressed and armed much like the three that they had destroyed the day before. The mummy had her eyes closed and held a posture of what might have been prayer.

Belvin and Solisar came behind Hakam, as two more skeletons rushed from out of the shadows near other columns and charged forward with scimitars waving. Solisar sent missiles of magic force toward the mummy, which he could now also see behind the column, but they seemed to have no effect on her. One of the skeletons came within ten feet of Kytharrah before he cut it in half at the lower spine and scattering its bones. A ball of fire came from Belvin's hand and obliterated the remaining one.

"That was more than six skeletons!" shouted the elven druid.

Then they all felt a bitter cold fill the chamber, which they could feel in their bones. The mummy opened her eyes, and they heard her scream some dark words that included the name of Akadi. A whirlwind blew suddenly through the chamber and a humanoid cloud coalesced near their young minotaur. The elemental being pounded into Kytharrah with the force of a hurricane, knocking him back but not hurting him greatly. It shook him up enough, however, to give the mummy an opening. With inhuman speed, she was upon him, slamming him with fist and mace. He roared in pain, taking three solid blows before at last avoiding the fourth.

Recovering from the feeling of bitter cold, Leokas and Hakam came to their companion's aid. The elf charged east past the column unto a metal-tiled floor and tried to strike the mummy with two simultaneous arrows from his bow. They missed, as mummy and minotaur circled around each other looking for openings to strike.

Hakam pointed at the mummy while stepping away from the reach of the summoned air elemental. The spiritual sword flew toward the undead priestess like a ballista bolt. She deflected the force sword with her shield, but the distraction was enough for Kytharrah to swing down at her embalmed legs, tripping her off her feet and flat onto her back. (It had worked for the previous mummies, so he figured that he would try it again.) Kytharrah hacked down at the fallen priestess, cutting deep gashes into her wrappings, and leaving her chest an ash-filled concave hollow.

Nevertheless, the undead priestess sprung up to her feet again, splintered rib fragments falling to the ground from her chest and mouth open in a shrieking curse.

Hakam silenced her by calling a column of holy fire down upon her, engulfing her in flame.

As she writhed about and burned into ashes, the elemental came at Hakam to avenge its summoner, but it was seared by magic fire from Szordrin, shooting just between Hakam and Solisar and nearly scorching them as well. The sun elf waved his wand to pummel the elemental with force bursts, while Belvin came up behind Kytharrah and healed him with positive energy from his palm.

The elemental, having lost a good portion of its mass from Szordrin's fire, took one more feeble swing at Kytharrah, who deftly dodged the vapory fist. The thing turned and flew with haste to get away, but with a lunge, Kytharrah leapt forward and swung down his axe, turning the otherworldy creature into a puff of air.

Kytharrah giggled at the bizarre effect. "Poof!" he said.

They all caught their breath, as the power of the hasting spell wore off, and looked around at the scattered skeleton bones and the four columns. Between the columns, the floor was flat and tiled with massive ten-foot plates of reddish metal. The columns were the work of crude masonry, with large red bricks.

"Ah!" Szordrin yelled out in pain suddenly, as fire that did not come from his own fingertips erupted around him. He had dismissed his illusion and simply been walking back toward the hall from which they had come. Looking behind him, a wall of violet fire, rising all the way from floor to ceiling extended the whole length from the corner of one of the square-based columns to the cavern wall, from north to south. Thankfully, his fiendish ancestry prevented him from taking severe burns, but he was going to experience what would feel like sunburn for several days after this, and his clothing was singed.

"No one move!" warned Leokas loudly. "This whole room may be trapped."

Szordrin picked up a stone and tossed it to the north, between the chamber wall and another corner of the same column. Nothing happened.

"We all already crossed over that way without incident," said Hakam.

"And I passed the other way the first time too," said Szordrin, while looking carefully at the column, floor, and ceiling. "There are scorch marks here on this other corner of the column," he said, but I cannot find the source of the flames. Belvin, summon your satyr friend and make him pass between the wall and this column to me."

"Not going to happen," answered Belvin.

"You have had him do worse," said Szordrin.

Kytharrah was bored and wanted to head down another tunnel he spotted on the northwestern corner of the massive chamber.

"Minotaur! Get back here!"

Kytharrah grudgingly obeyed. As he did so, a tuft of his fur fell from his chest, precisely where the mummy had previously pounded him with her fists.

"Kezef be bound, you have been cursed!" exclaimed Hakam. "Let me see to your wounds."

Meanwhile, Solisar cast his spell to detect auras of magic. "Yes, the line from the corner of this column to the wall is indeed trapped. The source of the flames is from the crack in the stone there on the wall." He pointed. "The columns themselves are not magical. Yet it did not trigger for the rest of us, as Hakam noted. Odd."

"It triggered on the second time," said Szordrin.

"Like the trap that crushed me," said Leokas with a shiver, recalling that dreadful experience many months ago now.

"Can a magical trap be directional?" asked Hakam. Then he shouted at Kytharrah, "Stay still until I can heal you, minotaur, or do you want all of your fur to fall out?" He examined the friendly beast's injuries. More fur dropped off, and the skin looked rotted and greenish.

"Skin smells funny," said Kytharrah.

"Spell triggers can be customized in all manner of ways," said Szordrin.

"There is another trap between the wall and this other column here," explained Solisar. "Kytharrah nearly set it off, if it triggers in this direction."

"Are we trapped then?" asked Leokas. "We can enter the center of the room yet not leave without harm."

"Perhaps that staircase is not triggered," said Belvin, pointing to where a wide staircase between the two eastern-most columns led up into the stalactite-covered ceiling.

"There is no aura about it," said Solisar, "so it is free at least from any magical traps."

"The hobgoblin scum called the room above the 'preparation room'," said Leokas, "and the location of the gate portal to Clangor."

Hakam finished his examination and curing of Kytharrah, but the skin was still gangrenous. "I cannot help him further today. I will have to ask Anachtyr for such power come morning."

"Kytharrah, how do you feel?" asked Solisar.

"Not as tough. Like bad nap."

"Are you strong enough to search this ash for more gems from the mummy?"

He happily obliged the elf. While he was thus distracted, the others discussed how to handle the traps.

"There seem to be only four of them," said Solisar, "two on each of the western-most columns. So the paths to the tunnel to our exit and to the one over there, presumably to Allu's inner chambers, are blocked."

"Perhaps there are other paths beyond where we can see across the chamber," said Belvin. He and Solisar, carrying the still-glowing omlar gem, walked around the eastern half of the chamber, beyond the columns. They returned with nothing to report.

Szordrin used his magic to feel the trap source remotely, as if with an invisible hand, but he did not have the dexterity to manipulate anything. He gave up and dared to cross the line of the trap to join the others, since they suspected it to be safe passing in that direction. Nothing happened.

"Well," he said, "this explains how the skeletons and mummy made it into this room and then were left here and could not escape."

"If we spent the night here, Belvin and I could shape the stone to encase the traps," said Hakam.

"I could also dispel a trap for a few minutes with my druidic magics," suggested Belvin.

"Let us hold off on that for now," said Hakam, "in case we have another use for that. We still have to explore upstairs; we can deal with these traps later. I also have a scroll that can ward against flames if it comes to it."

"Let me examine the steps for mechanical traps," said Szordrin. They gave him several minutes, and he was convinced that they were safe to climb.

"Ready yourselves," said Leokas. "We ascend."
Session: 98th Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 06 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
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De Exilio
Chapter 5 — The Handmaidens of El Sadhara
"Rise!"

   In under a second, a pile of bones, a discarded weapon, and a large horned skull flew together, and Kytharrah spun to find himself facing a minotaur skeleton. Without hesitation, he swung at the undead creature but struck the haft of its massive axe, finding that his new enemy was stronger than one might expect an animated pile of bones to be.

   With a dreadful rattling, several other giant-sized, horned skeletal warriors sprung up around them, two behind them down the tunnel from which they just came, and at least a couple more could be heard approaching from around the corner beyond their own living minotaur. Solisar immediately reached his fingers into his component pouch, looking for a piece of licorice root.

   The three female figures in the distance simply stood still, as Kytharrah's skeletal opponent swung its greataxe. Kytharrah easily parried the blow, but Belvin was not so lucky. At the back of the line, one of the new attackers swung down its large, curved horns, catching him off-guard and goring into his side, lifting him off the ground for a moment. When Belvin came back onto his own two feet, blood was flowing over his hip from a sizeable hole in his side, and he struggled to hold the wound shut with his left hand.

   A powerful shout came from Solisar, and all of them felt a rush of intensity flow through their bodies. Leokas flipped around Belvin in a moment and unleashed arrows at his friend's attacker at a rate that they had never seen before. Four arrows struck the thick bones of the undead monster, and fragments of ribs, a collarbone, a radius bone, and the massive jaw clattered to the rocky ground. It wobbled about awkwardly as if the necromantic magic could barely keep the bones together.

   At the other end of their line, Kytharrah, also empowered with extra swiftness from Solisar's magic, swung with fury, scattering ribs, severing the magical connection between upper and lower arm bones, and smashing through the thick but short femur of its right leg. The skeleton tottled, as the magics drew the split femur bone back together, but before the dark spell could complete its work, the living minotaur swung his head low, catching the monster at the underside of its lower jaw with his horn. With a bucking motion of his neck, Kytharrah ripped the heavy skull from the skeleton's body. It crashed to the floor, and the rest of the body completely dismantled with a noisy din.

   Solisar was more concerned about the three suspected mummies standing calmly by beyond them than about the skeletal monsters. He was chanting the final words of a spell and tossed a fragment of glass in their direction. Above him, two rays of fire shot down from the ceiling from Szordrin, aimed at more large skeletons clattering toward them from around the corner beyond Kytharrah. Hakam could not see these yet, but he held up his holy symbol anyhow and called out a loud rebuke against the unnatural abominations. Then, he hustled over to Belvin to aid him. As he approached, the wobbling minoatur that had gored Belvin moments earlier now swung its axe, driving deep into Hakam's sword arm. Hakam grabbed his own arm, as he saw the druid toss a gob of beeswax at their opponent. The gob stuck to its sternum, and then the entire skeleton was immolated in fire. It fell apart, and each bone continued burning on the ground.

   Belvin shouted a whoop of victory, but another equally large skeletal beast stepped right up over the burning bones of the other and swung at Hakam. Still clutching the bloody gash on his arm, he managed to spin his body such that the blow struck his enchanted shield. The force of the blow drove him to his knees, but it withstood the blade, and it meant that the undead minotaur's horns swung over his head, missing him.

   "Hakam, stay low!" shouted Leokas.

   Hakam obeyed and heard the sound of arrows whizzing just over his head. The fourth arrow split the sternum in half vertically, and drove into one of the vertebrae, knocking it from the spinal column and carrying it farther down the tunnel. The skeleton tumbled apart with a loud clanging.

   Kytharrah also found himself with a new opponent, which had stepped around the corner from the other tunnel, swinging and goring as it came. Kytharrah hopped away from the swing and deflected the horns with the shaft of his axe. He swung back, with hastened movement, splitting ribs and cracking the pelvis before the animated bones blocked his third swing with an axe. The axe heads locked together, and the two minotaurs began a tug of war. Szrodrin tried to assist from his perch on the ceiling by sending down three bursts of magical force. These shook up the skeleton a bit, allowing Kytharrah to break free. He swung his curved horn at his opponent as they pulled away from each other. The horn knocked the lower jaw from the monster's skull, but then the necromantic magic pulled it right back into place.

   Hakam, back on his feet but still clutching his arm, stepped behind Kytharrah. Grabbing his holy symbol with his right hand, he called out for the fourth time that day, "Anachtyr rebuke you!"

   The minoatur skeleton dropped its ancient axe, turned, and fled into the dark tunnel from whence it had come.

   Belvin came up behind Hakam and touched his arm, transferring a burst of positive energy to him. Hakam fell the wound beginning to reseal itself.

   No more skeletons were immediately present, but the three female figures stood firm, watching from the darkness.

   Solisar touched his clothing, which caused it to glow and shimmer briefly. "Need we fear their touch?" he asked. "Can they doom us with their mummy's curse?"

   "I know not," said Hakam, as he drew his sword, "but they will not be touching me."

   "Kytharrah," said Solisar. "Do not charge them. Only use your axe, not your horns."

   "If these are mummies," said Belvin, "no herbs can cure it if you are cursed by them."

   "What are we waiting for?" said Leokas. Still hastened by Solisar's magic, he rushed forward along the right cavern wall with two arrows nocked. Kytharrah snorted and also rushed forward. Szordrin scurried down the wall from the ceiling to follow behind Leokas, using a spell to protect himself from evil.

   However, as Leokas neared to point blank range and raised his bow, one of the mummies moved her head and looked directly into his eyes. Leokas stopped dead in his tracks and moaned, "Solonor save us." He visibly shook to the point of immobility.

   One of the mummies now looked directly at Kytharrah as well, but still he came forward to within range. He felt no fear, but he heeded Solisar's warning and stood defensively rather than make a first move.

   The first attack instead came from Hakam. The cleric rounded the tunnel corner and could now see his opponents in the dim light from the magic torch that Solisar still carried behind him. They were dressed in strange clothes, looking something like a painting from ancient stories of Calimshan. Silver holy symbols hung about their necks, shaped like clouds. They were priestesses of Akadi, just like El Sadhara. That much was clear to him. He held out his open left palm and offered a short prayer. A beam of energy as bright as the sun shot forward, striking the leftmost of the priestesses in the center of her mailed chest. She staggered backward, nearly blown off her feet by the power of the holy burst.

   The mummies now moved in response. The one that was struggling to still stand from Hakam's attack spoke in a dreadful tone. Only Hakam magically understood the words. "We shall be thy doom, priest of law." The words sent shivers through his spine, and he truly feared that he would not survive this battle.

   The second of the mummies lunged at Kytharrah with her huge mace, but he was ready and deflected the blow with the haft of his weapon.

   Then, suddenly, a thick, heavy mist filled the chamber between the adventurers and the three priestesses, as the third mummy finished a dread prayer, making it impossible for any of them to see more than about a yard in front of themselves. Solisar unleashed several ripples of magical force into the cloud, but he could not see the result and had to hope that they found a target.

   Kytharrah engaged the mummy priestess he could see through the cloud directly in front of him. He struck her in the left shoulder, but her chainmail absorbed most of the force of the blow. She deftly avoided two more swings from his axe, surprising him with her agility by springing away from one and solidly blocking the second with her shield with the loud clang of steel against steel. He could not connect with his horns either. She was a challenging opponent, much more skilled at fighting than those walking bones had been.

   Szordrin stepped in front of Hakam, who looked terrified, tossing a spent magic scroll from his hands as he did so. He raised his palms and blindly fired a scorching blast of fire from into the obscuring cloud, like a stream of dragon fire. There was the sound of metal striking the stone floor and echoing through the passage. One of the mummies within the cloud called out another curse upon him, but he felt no ill effects, most likely because he had taken the time to protect himself with his magic.

   Turning to his left, Solisar saw that Belvin, just like Leokas was petrified and shivering in terror. With little he could do to free them from their magic-induced despair, he drew his wand and simply started firing off more missiles of force repeatedly into the cloud.

   Using his magic to see without his eyes through the dense fog, Hakam resisted the powerful urge to flee, and created a burst of deafening sound directly next to one of the mummies. They all heard another clatter of metal striking the ground, and Kytharrah watched as his combatant dropped her mace, stunned by the intense sound burst just behind her. Taking this opportunity, he dropped to his hands as if doing a pushup and swung his horns, catching her legs and flipping her easily unto her back with a hard thud. Springing right back up to his hooves, he began to swing wildly down at her. The first blow hit soundly, indenting her chest in a way that would have instantly killed a living creature, but the chain mail held together. She rolled over quickly to avoid a second blow from the axe, but his third swing cut off a large chunk from her wide hip. His nose was overwhelmed by the sudden release of potent perfumes, as a cloud of ash puffed from the large opening in her torn silk pants and severed bandages. The young minotaur was confused my the complete absence of flesh or blood. It seemed like he had simply cut through a pile of thick cloths.

   Hakam appeared at his side and joined him in hacking down at the prone priestess. His first sword swing struck true, but the force of the blow was absorbed by her chain shirt. She rolled again to avoid another swing, and it struck the stone with a spark. He hit her two more times as she finally rose to her feet again, but each strike was deflected by the chain links. She knocked away another swing from Kytharrah with her shield and lunged at Hakam, bringing her heavily wrapped fist to connect solidly with his jaw, knocking him back a few feet and causing him to bite through his tongue. He could taste his own blood and spat it out.

   Outside the cloud, Solisar continued waving his wand. He could hear heavy fighting occurring, but he could not see how his friends were faring. Thankfully, Leokas suddenly seemed to shake off his fear and come back to his senses. The wood elf sprung into action and darted around the cloud, past Belvin, hoping to get around to the other side of it where he might be able to see their enemies. As he ran, however, he nearly ran into a hulking form. Instinctively, he dove into a somersault and rolled underneath the oversized greataxe of another minotaur skeleton. Popping back onto his feet, he raised his bow and let fly two arrows, knocking bones from the skeleton and causing it to wobble about as the magics tried to hold it together.

   Within the cloud of mist, Kytharrah once again attempted to trip the mummy with his horns. She swung wildly at him with her weaponless arm but missed, and moments later, she was flat on her back for a second time. He struck her two more times with his axe. The second axe blow struck her in her veiled head, and there was an awful crunching sound.

   Stepping behind Kytharrah, Hakam laid his hands on him. "Anachtyr grant you the strength of a bull," he said.

   "But I am a bull," Kytharrah protested. His thought was interrupted when the mummy at his feet moved. Shockingly, she was still "alive". As she murmured something, a sphere of dark energy was forming around her hand. He silenced her with a final swing that cut her head off. Her moving hands went limp, and the dark energy vanished.

   Just then, the third mummy appeared in the cloud, just on the other side of Hakam. She swung her heavy mace at the cleric, but he deflected it with his own shield. Bursts of magic rippled around her, coming from Solisar, but she seemed unaffected by them, and the amulet about her neck glowed. Then, a cone of fire lit up the cloud around her and engulfed her, and the fire singed Kytharrah's fur as well. The mummy's bandages caught fire and blackened but then seemed to go out again, as if some magic quenched the flames.

   "Move, you big oaf!" shouted Szordrin, from somewhere in the mist. "You are blocking me. I almost scorched you with that spell."

   "Okay," Kytharrah said. He jumped over the crushed and decapitated priestess at his hooves and now was behind the standing mummy, flanking her with Hakam on the other side. Hakam stabbed his sword toward her face, and as she avoided the attack, she opened herself up to a swing from Kytharrah. He took her down, nearly cutting her in half, as the blade cleaved through the charred bandages of her waist below the chain shirt.

   Back outside the cloud, the skeleton minotaur was upon Leokas, swinging its axe in a wide arc. The elf spun to avoid the swing, but the corner of the blade tore into his back, over his right shoulder blade. Leokas yelled out in pain and anger and continued his spin, while drawing another arrow. The shot blew apart the minotaur's hand, spraying carpal bones in all directions, and the axe fell to the ground. A second arrow caused the beast to crumble apart, and the bones lay still.

   Within the cloud, Szordrin evoked another cone of searing flame into the mist, seeking blindly for the third priestess.

   "Anachtyr, show me those who follow the path of evil," Hakam prayed. After a few seconds, he reported, "They are all destroyed." He immediately hustled out of the mist deeper into the cavern beyond where the mummies had been guarding.

   Leokas called back in answer to Hakam's report. "They are not all destroyed; I hear more skeletons down this tunnel."

   The mist faded away then, and Szordrin saw the missing body of the third mummy, the one first targeted by Hakam's holy magic, now burned to a charred crisp by the wizard's earlier magical attack.

   As the mist dissipated, so did the utter despair that the mummy's glance had laid upon Belvin. With a feral yell, a scimitar of fire grew from his clenched fist, and he ran toward the three fallen mummies and began hacking at them in rage.

   "Belvin, they are fallen," Leokas called. "Save your rage for the remaining foes." He nocked two arrows. "Kytharrah, go after the remaining skeletons. They are this way."

   Kytharrah and Belvin obeyed and came back to where Leokas stood in the other passage, the one which they had not yet explored. Hakam stood in his place, watching for if any other foes would appear in the greater darkness of the wide chamber that opened up beyond where the mummies had stood. Likewise, Szrodrin stood guard at the tunnel down which they had originally come here. He created several mirror image illusions of himself, just in case.

   The rest moved after the remaining skeletons that Leokas had heard. "I believe that Hakam's rebuke drove them this way," he explained to the others. As they looked about in the dim light of the torch Solisar still carried, they saw cracked anvils, broken forges, and wrecked weapon racks scattered in a mess about the tunnel, which varied in width from five to twelve yards.

   Kytharrah bounded forward, smelling something dead up ahead. After about 20 yards, he came upon another skeleton, as it stepped out of the shadows behind what was once a functional bellows. It swung at him.

   "Hello," said Kytharrah, swinging his axe in return and leaving a notch in its sternum.

   A rolling ball of fire and three missiles of magic, sent from Belvin and Solisar, respectively, crashed into the animated bones. Leokas ran up and loosed his two arrows. The one disconnected an arm from its socket, and the second punctured a thigh bone. The whole thing fell apart in a clatter.

   As the elf continued running forward, he nocked another arrow. He stopped suddenly and looked back, because he noticed that Kytharrah was no longer with him. The young minotaur was instead following Belvin's rolling sphere of fire as it headed over to the left wall from its earlier momentum.

   "Guiding light!" Kytharrah happily exclaimed.

   Leokas rolled his eyes at the absurd behavior, but he could work with this. "Belvin," he shouted. "Send the sphere up this tunnel to the left."

   Belvin nodded, understanding, and waved his hands and pointed. The ball of fire rolled further down the tunnel and then to the left, where the wide passage narrowed and forked. The tunnel lit up, allowing Leokas to spot two more minotaur skeletons, which were just standing there, turned away by the power of Hakam's earlier rebuke. The first jumped to the side to avoid being struck by the flaming sphere, but here came Kytharrah, rushing after it with a huge grin. He paused to defend against an attack from the one skeleton and returned two swings and a gore, which caused it to tumble apart like a tower of wooden blocks.

   Leokas followed behind, sending two arrows into the center of the remaining skeleton's skull. It cracked in the middle, and the weight of the massive horns ripped the top of the skull in two, and the horns clattered on the ground. The nearly headless skeleton staggered about, but it still managed to jump over the rolling ball of fire as it passed by at Belvin's direction.

   "Finish it, Kytharrah!" shouted Leokas.

   The minotaur charged at full speed and crashed horns-first into the undead monster, sending its bones flying in all directions.

   "Now, stay dead," said Belvin.

   They paused to catch their breath, and only now did their brains allow them to feel the intense pain of their wounds. Belvin and Leokas had clothes soaked in blood. "It appears that Allu lost soundly," said Leokas, as he hunched over gasping. "These must be the remains of El Sadhara's forces."

   "Was that all of them?" asked Solisar. "I cannot see any magic auras about."

   As if in answer, Solisar and Belvin heard Szordrin's voice whispering faintly. "Come back at once! Hakam has found more skeletons!"
Session: 96th Game Session - Wednesday, Nov 15 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — The Port Hole
"What did you think of the new spell I have been working on," asked Jayce, still in disguise as a drow elf as they all left the "flagship store" and turned left onto Wasp Street. "It enhances my glibness not a small amount, if I may say so for myself."

   Szordrin gave him a thumbs up. In truth, he was rather impressed with the power of the bard's magical deception.

   "I have a question though," said Jayce. "What are we trying to get out of this? Do we simply want a free magic rod? Or is it more important to locate the original buyer?"

   "The latter," said Szordrin, "though if you can manage both,..."

   "...it would be considered stealing," finished Hakam.

   Szordrin ignored this and turned to Solisar as they walked down the busy street. "Solisar, during my conversation with the salesman, he, naturally, expressed great fear of the drow, but in his mind he compared them to 'neoki'. What are they?"

   "Neogi," corrected Solisar. "They are infamous throughout wildspace as despicable slave traders. I believe that there is a population within the Underdark as well. You have not heard of them?"

   Szordrin shook his head.

   "By the mercy of the Seldarine, I have never encountered one, but I am told that they are something like a hairy spider with the neck and head of an eel. They are not an attractive race by any accounts."

   "I would think that a neogi fellow would find a neogi maiden attractive," said Jayce.

   "You would think wrongly," said Solisar, "for they have no males or females but reproduce through other means. They also form no interpersonal relationships beyond ownership and subservience. They are a purely individualistic race, totally alien to any that you or I know. It is even said that they eat sentient prey while it is still alive and take delight in this."

   They came to a building on the corner on the right, which had several signs advertising for the chartering of various small spelljammers for pleasure "cruises" through Realmspace. White flags with a golden S flew outside the main entrance. They turned left onto Galley Street.

   "Did anyone else learn anything from any of the other departments?" Szordrin asked.

   "I can buy a magic mirror to communicate with Mother for only 7,000 platinum pieces!" said Nargroth.

   "You do not have 7,000 platinum," said Oma.

   "I might after Ombert sells our gnomish toys," said the half-orc.

   "Toys?" said Kytharrah. "What toys?"

   "They also sell granite and darkwood," said Belvin, "for much cheaper than 7,000 platinum."

   They reached another cobbler's shop and turned right onto Whale Street. This road began to lead them downhill, and they could see the very edge of the world again and, far beyond that, blue Toril hanging silent in the black sky.

   When they came nearly to the top of the cliff where the city of Bral abruptly ended, they found a public park, planted with green grass and trees. What they guessed to be ogre children were playing fetch with some sort of canine creature. Some couples snuggled on benches staring out at Toril and its moon.

   "What a romantic place to sit," said Oma. Jayce elbowed Nargroth, but the half-orc ignored it.

   Whale Street continued parallel to the park and uphill toward the trailing edge. "There is The Edge," said Jayce, pointing. It was a large and noisy tavern. On the roof was a deck, and an assortment of folk were singing spacefaring songs while frequently spilling their mugs of ale over the railing.

   "So that must be the Port Hole," said Nargroth. The tiny tavern to the left of The Edge had only two small windows, which were, fittingly, round like portholes. The bar otherwise had no sign. Outside the single door stood a tall insectoid creature, looking something like a humanoid praying mantis. In each of its two pairs of arms it held a strange double-sided pole arm with half-moon shaped blades. Resting on the ground next to this creature was a barrel full of an assortment of weapons.

   The group approached the alien bouncer, and it made clicking sounds with its complicated mandibles, and it took them a moment to recognize that it had spoken in broken Common. "No weapons inside." It released its grip on one of its polearms and pointed with one of its four "fingers" to the barrel.

   They agreed and left their weapons in the barrel. Jayce made himself look human again. Then they opened the door and entered.

   They had never seen such a diverse crowd in a single place. Most noticeable was the giant, fleshy orb magically floating over a pair of large stools at the far left of the bar across from them. Out of this eight-foot-wide orb sprouted ten writhing stalks, each ending in an eyeball. While they could not see the front of the bulbous, alien thing, they knew it could be nothing other than an infamous beholder. Some of them had encountered a smaller, beholder-like gauth before, during a short excursion through the Underdark below the jungles of Chult, but this one was the real deal. It seemed to be drinking up a beverage on the bar counter through a thick wooden straw.

   Next to the beholder, with an empty stool between it and them, stood two human sailors, who were slapping the countertop in laughter. Each had red hair, and one had a thick beard. Moving down the line, they saw a sitting figure in a cloak, leaning over whatever it was he or she was eating or drinking. Next were two reptilian humanoids, which reminded some of the group of lizardfolk that they had met in Chult, only these were dressed in far more civilized clothes. Next to the lizardmen, sitting alone at the bar, was a very hairy humanoid creature that reminded them of a baboon. At the corner of the bar counter stood a heavily drunk human calling for more ale from the fat tavernmaster behind the counter. The counter made a turn and along this short edge were placed smaller stools. On one of these sat a halfling with jet black skin.

   Two open doorways were on the back wall, probably leading into the kitchen. One was behind the counter, and from the other stepped a young barwench carrying a tray with drinks to a round table in the far corner. She passed another insectoid bouncer, looking identical to the one they had just encountered outside. She set the drinks down on the table, around which sat three happy dwarves.

   Across the tavern from the dwarves, sitting completely alone at another round table on a large-sized chair was another bizarre patron. This bulky humanoid looked something like the hippopotami that they had observed in some of the rivers of Chult, but it was fully dressed in an ornate naval uniform with an absurd number of badges on its chest.

   The next table had a truly eclectic mix of customers in deep discussion over a trade agreement of some sort. They included a talking penguin with opposable wingtips, a Shou warrior in full Shou scale mail, a human with a tricorn hat, and an illithid, or mind flayer. This latter monster was known in the tales of terror told among the youth of many civilizations; the hunched-over humanoid had what looked almost like an octopus for a head. Like the beholder, it sucked up a beverage through a straw into the circular mouth hiding beneath its four wiggling tentacles.

   Immediately to their right, next to the table with the illithid, was an empty table with four chairs around it. To their left was the final table in the small tavern, and about it sat a group of elves. These were all shorter than any of the elves in the group of adventurers, and all of them were also in naval uniforms.

   "These are members of the Imperial Elven Navy," said Solisar. "I recognize their uniforms." He immediately walked over to the three elves and joined them at their table.

   "Should we be worried about any of the clientele?" asked Jayce, nodding his head first toward the beholder and then toward the illithid, but Nargroth didn't seem to care. He simply moved into the bar and up to the counter next to the black-skinned halfling. The others took seats or stood around the open table by the door. Jayce whistled at the barwench and winked at her. She came over to take their orders.

   At the elven table, Solisar had introduced himself in the Elvish tongue and was trying to learn more about the elves' place on the Rock. "When I was last in Evermeet," he said, "I met with Fleet Admiral Icarus; he suggested that I speak with the Elven Navy stationed here on the Rock of Bral if ever my companions and I are in need of aid in our quest. You see, all of us our newcomers to wildspace."

   "You have been to Evermeet!" said the one elf. "Is it truly as beautiful as the stories tell?"

   "Indeed, it is," said Solisar. "I was born there; it is my home. Yet why should you not visit? Is Toril not before you when you step outside these doors?"

   "My orders do not permit it," said the elf.

   The second elf seemed more impressed that Solisar had met Admiral Icarus. "Icarus? The same Icarus who emerged victorious from fifteen battles against the scro in the Second Unhuman War?"

   "He did not speak of his battle prowess, but he commands a vessel called the Arrow of Justice and is fleet admiral of this whole crystal sphere, if I understood correctly."

   "How did you manage such an audience? Who are you in truth?"

   "I am simply a scholar who, perhaps by the mischief of Erevan, has found himself enwrapped in a quest with these companions whom you see that has taken the interest of no small number of gods. We came upon an ancient Netherese spelljammer. When I piloted alone to my island, to seek an audience with my grandmother, a great seer, I was stopped by the Evermeet fleet and eventually taken to Icarus, after they learned more about my vessel."

   "Who are the Netherese?" asked the third elf. "Forgive me, as I am not from Realmspace originally."

   "No offense taken! They were an ancient civilization of humans on the world of Toril, some of the first humans to attain the power to leave their world."

   "You piloted a spelljammer alone?" asked the second elf.

   "Yes, that was what surprised the captain of the vessel that first apprehended me; it seems that the spelljammer technology of the Netherese differed from that of most other races, and this was of great historic — and perhaps military significance — to our kin.

   "To answer your original question," said the second elf, "you can reach Naval Command by means of the Embassy, which is located in the Elven Forest."

   "Yo ho! Nargroth!" someone yelled very loudly. It was one of the red-haired sailors.

   From the far end of the bar, Nargroth waved back with the kind of grin that revealed that he had no idea who was calling him.

   "It is me, Pat! Fancy meeting you at this place."

   Nargroth took his drink and walked over to the two sailors, who clanked their ceramic mugs against his. "To the Frihet!" said the bearded sailor.

   Nargroth left the two sailors and joined the others at the table. "I think that the captain hired them on at Lantan before we left," Nargroth explained. "I do not remember their names."

   "I have not met them yet either," said Oma. "They have not tried to slap my backside yet, unlike all the other sailors."

   "Has Loreene tried to slap your backside yet?" asked Jayce.

   "When she was drunk, yes."

   "We need to find the manager of the Interlink Consortium store and talk to him," said Szordrin.

   "Let us at least get our drinks and snacks first," said Jayce. "The manager is either the man in the cloak, the one talking to the penguin and the squid-head, or that drunk who has fallen asleep with his head at the bar over there."

   The serving girl arrived with a tray full of all their orders. "Sagecourse for you, Krynnish ale for you, mead...."

   Pat, the clean-shaven Lantanna sailor laughed so loudly at something that it interrupted the waitress. "Where is the ball?" he repeated. "Shemus, you are making me roll with laughter."

   "Careful," said the bearded sailor, "it might hear you."

   "I do not think that they have ears," Pat replied.

   "...Mead for you," continued the young woman, "an appetizer of fried zard toes and a water for you, a bottle of...."

   "I have one, I have one!" said Pat, in very much an outside voice. "Right now, I am a gorgeous man, handsomer than any asperusa fellow."

   "I suppose I am supposed to ask you why?" said Shemus.

   "You know what they say, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder." He chugged his beer.

   Shemus laughed and put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Eye see what you did there!"

   "Shemus, my friend, do you think that you could be any cornea?"

   "What is a cornea?" Oma whispered to Nargroth.

   "It is a part of an eyeball," said the half-orc.

   "Oh, I have one," said Shemus, now as loudly as his companion. "How does a beholder, you know, do it with a lady-beholder?"

   Pat shrugged and said, "I dare you to ask it."

   Neither man saw several of the spherical monstrosity's eyestalks cease wiggling and begin to focus on them.

   "No, no," said Shemus, "the answer is, 'With all eleven eyes shut'!"

   Two beams of magical energy shot forth so quickly from a pair of eyestalks that it was almost unnoticeable, and they struck the sailor Shemus on the back of his bald head. A third ray of energy struck Pat's mug of beer, lifted it off the countertop, and splashed it over Pat's face. Kytharrah started giggling at this.

   The beholder hovered over the counter and into the corner of the tavern, now facing the entire crowd of customers with its large central eye wide open and drool dripping between its huge, teeth-filled maw. The huge mouth spoke in perfect Common, "Bathe in your beer, fool."

   "Oh my gods!" exclaimed the man at the table next to them with the hat. He slid off his chair and began to crawl under the table. With a quack that sounded more like duck than penguin, the man's tiny tablemate joined him under the table.

   "Ha ha ha," laughed Shemus, pointing at his drenched friend. "Looks like you've been ray-nd on!"

   "What are you laughing at?" said Pat. "He shot you in the head! Twice! Snap out of it!" Pat tried to slap Shemus but was too drunk to make contact on the first swing.

   At that, the halfling hopped off his stool and fled into the kitchen. The two lizardmen also dismounted from their stools with loud hisses and stood as if ready to defend themselves should anyone attack them.

   The drunk on the corner of the counter woke up suddenly at all the commotion. "Is there a fight?" he asked spinning around to see what was happening in the room. Then he retched and spewed the contents of his stomach all over the wooden floor at his feet.

   Szordrin fumbled for a tiny item in his spell component pouch and started waving his hands in a pattern before stopping. "I cannot feel the Weave!" he warned. "Like at Thultantar." Then he slid off his chair and crouched under the table.

   The others at the table then noticed that the hippopotamus alien had risen to his feet. From somewhere under its bulky uniform it had extracted a concealed weapon, something like a sawed-off version of Hakam's old musket. The beast called out in a booming voice, "How dare you use your magic eyes in this tavern, foul aberration!" He aimed the firearm at the beholder and pulled the trigger. There was a deafening boom, followed immediately by a loud clang and the shattering of glass. For a moment, everyone stopped moving as smoke from the gun dissipated. The Shou warrior was feeling a dent in his horned helmet. Apparently, the bullet had ricocheted off the metal and stuck one of the empty bottles of ale on the counter.

   The first one to move was the man in the cloak at the counter, who simply took another drink, as if he cared nothing for the happenings around him. The elves with Solisar did the same. The serving maid, on the other hand, shrieked and ran toward the starboard wall, behind the shelter of the mantis bouncer, who was moving its compound eyes back and forth as if trying to decide which patron was currently the biggest threat to the other customers in the bar.

   Leokas and Belvin each grabbed a dinner knife from their table. Nearby, the Shou man stood up and began shouting supposed expletives in his language at the hippo-man. Mass chaos erupted in the tavern. Another beam shot forth from the beholder, this one striking the bartender. The Shou charged at the hippo-man. Hakam rose to his feet. The baboon like creature stood on his bar stool. Jayce jumped on the table and unslung his yarting. The mind flayer was calmly strolling toward the kitchen. Oma made her way to the far wall by the bouncer. The lizardmen hissed. The penguin squawked loudly from under the table. Kytharrah continued laughing at the great fun happening around him.

   The mantis sprung on its powerful legs and leaped through the air like a grasshopper, over the heads of the lizardmen, and landed in front of the beholder, spinning one of its polearms over its head wildly.

   The bartender yelled at it, "Leave the beholder be, Drik-ch'kit. Stop the giff!"

   "Bar fight!" shouted one of the dwarves.

   "Yes!" shouted another. The two of them flipped over their table, and their companion, who had been leaning on it, fell to the floor with a thud.

   "Typical dwarves," muttered one of naval elves.

   Nargroth reached Pat and tried to pin him so that he couldn't slap Shemus again, but Pat was flailing about too much for the half-orc to get a good grip on him.

   "Don't hit me!" shouted Shemus. "It was just an innocent prank." He tried to punch Pat, but Nargroth pulled the man back to avoid the blow.

   Pat, however, broke free again from Nargroth and swung his own punch, striking his friend but not with a very solid blow.

   Solisar stood and pressed himself against the wall. Suddenly, he was out of the cone of vision of the beholder's central eye and could feel the Weave. His enchanted eyes could now see a residual aura around the tavernmaster. He tried dispelling the beholder's charming magic but failed.

   Just then, someone in the kitchen shouted, "How many times must I say it? Stay out of the kitchen!" The halfling flew through the air like a large doll and struck the illithid, whose attention was on the beholder. The illithid slipped on the vomit on the floor and fell to its back.

   Szordrin joined Oma at the wall. She was chanting something. "Somehting is blocking our magic," he said. She nodded, with a look on her face that confirmed that she was well aware of that. She motioned close to the wall with her eyes and continued chanting. Finally, recognizing that it was the beholder who was blocking his spell power, he pressed himself to the wall and, shortly thereafter, turned invisible.

   In front of the counter, the man who had earlier thrown up sucker punched one of the lizardmen in the back of its green, scaled head. So, now, three separate fights were ongoing: Shemus and Pat were throwing drunken blows at each other, as Nargroth tried to keep them apart; the giff, the hippo-creature, was blocking countless chops and spin kicks from the Shou warrior and punches from one of the dwarves with his massive forearms; and the two reptilian humanoids were slashing at the drunk human with their natural, sharp claws.

   Now Hakam pressed through the commotion and reached the wall by Oma, and his magical ability to sense chaos returned, though he could only see auras around Oma and one of the naval elves, as the rest of the patrons were within the beholder's antimagic projection. He grabbed a glass from the bar counter, prayed a quick prayer over it, and tossed it toward the beholder. It shattered against the corner behind the floating monster. From the shards erupted a thick darkness that could only form outside the beholder's antimagic, thus outlining the extent of its projection.

   In response, beams of energy shut forth from the beholder. Two of the three beams struck Hakam in the chest, but the cleric did not seem to mind.

   The baboon suddenly raised his arms, revealing that flaps of skin were stretched between his arms and legs, much like a flying squirrel. He leapt from his stool and glided past the fighting sailors and the angry lizardmen and landed by the door.

   Jayce was strumming something like a lullaby on his yarting, but no one seemed to notice. The fighting continued, and the drunk dropped to the floor in a pool of blood, as one of the lizardmen had slit his throat with his claw. Belvin and Leokas moved from their spots and tried to stop the man from bleeding to death, giving the reptiles a glare that warned them to stop further attacks.

   Meanwhile, the brawl between giff, Shou, and dwarf continued. The giff pummeled the Shou on its helmet with his thick fist, and the Shou responded with repeated kicks and punches of his own.

   No one had at first noticed that, during all the other fighting, the illithid had managed to get the halfling's head underneath its tentacles, until the serving wench dropped her tray and screamed. Drik-ch'kit, the bouncer, stopped on its way to the fight with the giff in the corner and swung its moon-shaped blade at the mind flayer, splattering silvery-white blood. One of the dwarves joined in, and hammered his fist atop the illithid's skull. This freed the helpless halfling, who rolled onto the floor unconscious and missing his hair where the mind flayer's mucus had already dissolved it away. Leokas and Belvin, having stopped the human from bleeding to death with a tight bandage, now moved to surround the mind flayer and assist the bouncer and the dwarf, lest the monster tried to eat anyone else's brain.

   Then, Oma pointed, and an enormous skeleton appeared out of nothing behind the bar. It was hunched over, with arms brushing against the ground, and it had a protruding nasal bone and a very thick skull. With one of its long arms, it swung at the eye tyrant, knocking several of its eyestalks limp.

   "Oma, stop summoning!" ordered Hakam. "The beholder is not our enemy here." With that he attempted to dispel her summon but was unable.

   "But it is going to get away!" she argued.

   By this point, the gliding baboon had opened the door and exited, and the elves now stood to depart as well, bidding Solisar farewell as they did so, even though they couldn't actually see the sun elf, as he was within Hakam's magical darkness, which spread out along the walls. For his part, Solisar attempted to dispel magic again, this time from Hakam, whom he had seen struck by the beholder's rays. Once again, however, he could not overcome the power of the beholder's magic. He stumbled against the bar counter in the dark.

   Just as the three elves exited, the other insect guard from outside rushed in. Seeing a giant skeleton, it assumed it to be an enemy and sprung forward with a great leap, then swinging its weapons and splintering ribs.

   Meanwhile, Nargroth had finally pinned Pat. "Kytharrah, give me a hand with... the other guy!"

   Kytharrah happily rushed over and pinned Shemus in mere moments.

   "Get me another beer!" ordered the beholder, and immediately, the bartender stepped into the kitchen. The floating orb rotated, and the darkness along that wall vanished, as did the summoned troll skeleton and Hakam's charm. The cleric shook his head, feeling a strange sensation of momentary confusion that was something akin to the feeling of betrayal. Then, the beholder turned again, and immediately Hakam forgot the sensation. The beholder seemed a fair fellow to him again.

   "Have a good afternoon, everyone," said the beholder politely, as it floated toward the door. As it did so, the magical darkness filled the area that it vacated.

   "Not so fast!" chirped the insectoid guard who had come from outside. He slashed at the beholder, leaving a thick gash. It turned to face its attacker, baring its huge teeth.

   "Forget that, Hakam!" said Oma, and she began another summoning spell.

   Then, several folks screamed from pain and grabbed their heads. Nargroth let go of Pat and clutched his skull. Leokas dropped the dinner knife. His head was throbbing in intense pain. Even Drik-ch'kit, the insectoid bouncer, was affected; its antennae twitched erratically.

   Oma ceased her spell and moved toward Nargroth.

   The other insect was unaffected by the illithid's psionic attack and focused its swings at the beholder, who rose high toward the ceiling to avoid the blows. When the beholder dropped lower again and turned, the mind flayer was back on its feet and had one of its tentacles wrapped around the other bouncer Drik-ch'kit's head.

   Kytharrah released Shemus, who dropped to the ground and covered his head, moaning. The minotaur darted over to Leokas. "Is little brother hurt?"

   "My head!" Leokas responded. It felt like it was going to explode.

   The beholder closed its central eye. Several more beams shot forth from its other eyes, one of them a solid beam that lifted the insectoid of its feet and tossed it out the door. Then, the beholder itself floated outside and was gone, leaving behind a huge patch of magical darkness, filling have the room.

   "Huzzah!" shouted the dwarf at the far corner, which was still in light. "Did ya see that blow?" The Shou and the dwarf then chest-bumped each other, as the giff lay knocked out cold. Both Shou and dwarf seemed oblivious to the other fighting behind them.

   "Never mind that, help me here!" said the other dwarf, who frantically tried to grab the mind flayer and pull him from the bouncer but to no avail. The illithid was about to get a second tentacle around Drik-ch'kit's neck.

   Missiles of magical force flew through the room from out of the darkness, called forth by both Szordrin and Solisar, but they simply passed around the illithid's body with no effect.

   Hakam called out, "Everyone, heed the holy words of Anachtyr. This chaos must cease! We must restore order to this madness. Choose to repent from your anarchist ways at once!"

   "Shut up, Hakam," said Belvin. The wild elf tried to dispel Hakam's enchantment, but he was as successful as all the other previous attempts at such.

   Kytharrah came to the rescue of the bouncer, however. "Play?" he said, as he grappled with the mind flayer and easily yanked him away from the Drik-ch'kit. The Shou ran over, ready to join in the next scuffle but held back when he saw that the minotaur already had the upper hand.

   "...There is still time to repent! Cease this senseless violence!" preached Hakam.

   "He speaks truth! Listen to him!" called the human who was hiding under the table with the penguin.

   "Here! Here!" said the bar wench.

   In the darkness, Szordrin found the cloaked man at the bar counter. "Are you the manager of the Interlink Consortium?"

   "My head... hurts... so badly! Who are you? I cannot see. Honestly dreadful!"

   "Here, let me get you out of here." Szordrin helped the man off his stool and led him out of the darkness. "I found our man, let us get out of here!"

   "Good bye, then," said Belvin, and he followed the tiefling toward the door.

   The illithid, on the other hand had not yet given up. It still writhed, and Jayce feared it would resort to another psionic attack to break free. The bard stopped his strumming, which had clearly been useless anyway and jumped down from the table. "Stand down, calamari," he threatened, "or our minotaur will crush your skull."

   They all heard a voice within their heads. I yield. You have my word.
Session: 104th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 18 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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