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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Lamiae
Leokas stepped to the railing of the floating ship and assayed his enemies. He had a perfect strategic vantage point. The creatures approaching were similar to centaurs in appearance with the lower bodies of beasts and bare upper torsos of stunningly attractive, tanned humans. There were five lamias in all, three of them with the bodies of large lions, one with the body of a goat, and the fifth with the body of a small deer or gazelle. One of the lion-bodied lamias was male; the rest had female torsos. Each carried a dagger in his or her hands or mouth. Beyond that they carried nothing else nor wore any sort of clothing or jewelry.

   Leokas stretched and cracked his neck and drew his weapon. He was ready for them.

   Nulara let fly an arrow at once. It whizzed past the neck of the goat-lamia. The lamia reached Nulara, hair blowing about wildly, and reared back, kicking with her forehooves. One hoof knocked the bow from Nulara's hands; the other struck her in the sternum, and Nulara fell to the ground.

   Leokas filled the lamia with three arrows, allowing Nulara to crawl away from the lamia's stomping hooves.

   The gazelle-lamia appeared to split into a total of five lamias, all of which rushed toward Szordrin in unison, surrounding him. Then Kytharrah crashed down unto one of the five, having rushed to the main deck and leapt from above. The lamia illusion popped out of existence. Szordrin darted behind his large companion for cover from the remaining four attackers.

   The two "lionesses" focused their attentions on Hakam. The first reached him and pulled him into a forceful embrace, before he could even draw his sword, pressing his face into her bosom. The second, stroked the back of his neck, while telling him how attractive and manly she found him.

   Hakam felt himself struggling with conflicting thoughts and emotions. The women were extraordinarily attractive to him, yet he knew that they were cursed and evil... and not women at all! It felt rather pleasant being held against the soft flesh of this fair creature.... No, she was a demon! She was draining his sanity. "Fiil," he mumbled. "Fiil tanmu!"

   Hakam felt himself being shoved back. He tumbled unto his back, freed from the lamia's grip as the magical elephant exploded out of the pouch where it had been attached to Hakam's belt. The two lamias were also shoved back. The elephant immediately pounded the nearby goat-lamia across the head with its muscular trunk, knocking her unconscious instantly. She fell limp to the ground and was then trampled to death by the massive pachyderm.

   The male lion-lamia was trying to leap onto the side of the boat. The first attempt, he failed. Solisar floated up beside Leokas, who was turning to seek a new target. He could not shoot at the male lamia, because it was too far below the craft. Solisar tossed a piece of glass down toward the lion, but instead of vanishing as it should have done, the glass simply fell to the ground below. "The Weave is not responding to me!" he exclaimed.

   Belvin swooped down out of the sky, braked with his wings, and morphed back into an elf, landing naked upon Kamil's back. He calmed his companion and guided the camel, who had been galloping away from the scary battle, back to his pile of clothing and gear. As he turned around, he saw the elephant charging toward Kytharrah. The angry lioness who had lost her grip on Hakam had instead charmed the elephant with her sweet words and commanded it to attack the minotaur. "Kamil, fetch my pouch!" The camel bent down and picked up Belvin's pouch in his teeth, raising it to his master. Belvin began frantically to reach for his holly sprig, but he was not going to be fast enough. The elephant was upon Kytharrah.

   Moments before it would have gored its tusks into the young minotaur, Hakam yelled out from under the boat, "Fiil wa'iinkamsh! The elephant shrunk down into a figurine and rolled until it stopped near Kytharrah's feet.

   The other lioness-lamia followed behind, drawing her blade from between her teeth and waving it about her head. Leokas struck her twice with arrows, the second of which went through one side of her skull and came out the other. Then a column of fire fell down from the sky at Belvin's command and ensured that she was dead.

   From behind Kytharrah, who was still wobbling from his painful landing, Szordrin sent a ball of fire on the group of four identical gazelle-lamias as they were closing in. Each of them now shared precisely the same scorch marks on their otherwise flawless skin and the same grimaces of pain and anger. They leaned their human torsos forward, granting extended reach to their swinging arms, and clawed at Kytharrah. He noted that their fingers ended not in nails like Cassiera or Ilthian but in thick, pointed claws like his. At first he was confused by all the arms swinging at him, but then he trusted his nose. "I smell you," he said, swinging his axe and cutting through the rightmost lamia's bare flesh and spraying foul, black blood. All four lamia's shrieked in pain, and he swung again. They dropped to the ground simultaneously.

   "I got all three," said Kytharrah, but he did not feel happy about it. They looked too much like Cassiera or Ilthian to him from the waist up, but the others who were smarter than him told him that lamias were very bad, so he tried to believe them.

   "Four," said Szordrin, as he spun around and blasted a jet of fire toward the lion-lamia underneath the ship where Leokas could not shoot at him. "You got four." The flames engulfed the male, and it stumbled. Solisar also flew out over the others, drawing his wand and shooting at the same target. At least his magic items still functioned. The male was persistent; despite the burns and magical pummeling, he leapt again onto the side of the ship. This time his claws caught hold, and he clung to the bottom of the vessel like a spider, with four lion claws and two humanoid hands holding onto the planks of wood. He began climbing the side.

   "Help me up!" It was Nulara calling. She had managed to climb up Ormur, but was having trouble pulling herself over the railing onto the deck.

   "Hold on!" said Leokas, who thought it more important to deal with the climbing lamia. He leaned over the railing and aimed his arrows straight down at the beast. A single arrow struck the male, and it crashed 40 feet to the ground with a thud.

   Solisar flew over and offered Nulara a hand. She took it, and he helped pull her aboard.

   "My zanks," she said. Then she drew her black dagger. "One is coming up the side!" she warned, readying herself.

   "Not anymore," said Leokas. He raised his bow and fired off two more arrows at the remaining lioness, striking her in her tawny, furred flank, just as she was raising her arm to point at Kytharrah. "Dreams upon you!" the lamia shouted.

   "I feel sleepy!" said Kytharrah.

   "Fight it! Stay awake!" urged Szordrin, coming now from behind the cover of the hairy beast. He completed a spell and send a barrage of snowballs at the lamia female.

   Covered now in snow, with two arrows in her hide, and seeing all four of her companions dead or dying, she bolted to the north.

   Belvin started summoning allies to pursue her, as Hakam rushed over to the four dead lamias around Kytharrah. They were still breathing, though a large pool of black blood stained the sand around them. "Which one is the real one?" he asked Kytharrah.

   "That one," said Kytharrah sadly.

   Hakam plunged his blade through the left side of her back and then through the side of her deer-like body to ensure that she was dead. The three duplicates and the gore beneath them vanished.

   Leokas moved quickly to the starboard of the flying ship and watched as the fleeing lamia appeared again on the same side. He sent two arrows after her with a single pull of the bowstring. They struck her in the back. She staggered but then recovered and kept running, taking cover behind a ruined wall so that Leokas no longer had a line of sight.

   Four dire weasels appeared, and Belvin sent them in pursuit. Solisar had flown quickly back inside the forecastle of the ship and sat back in the magic chair. He directed the ship to move, and it jerked forward, positioning Leokas for a clear shot. He took it. The lamia fell to the ground. Moments later, she was overtaken by the four squeaking weasels who brought her to a disturbing end.

   "Victory!" yelled Belvin in the Elven tongue. He then rode to the male lamia to check that it was indeed dead. Hakam recovered the elephant figurine and began walking toward the false wall from which the attackers had come. Szrodrin, having cast another spell, jumped and stuck to the side of the boat by his magic and began to climb on all fours. Kytharrah picked up Nulara's bow and began to climb Ormur again. "I have your bow!" he called up.

   Nulara came into the central room where the magic chair was located, with Solisar sitting in it. "Ze battle is over," she told him. "We are safe. Zey are all dead."

   "Yes, I can see that."

   "Is zat how it flies?" she asked. Solisar was distracted, for he was trying to test his control over the vessel. Could he speak to the others on the ship through the chair? Could he do more than see and move? It had drained him of his magical power, yet he had been able to leave the chair and return, and it remained in the air in his absence.

   "Yes," he finally answered her, "though I still have many questions about it."

   Nulara's face was filled with excitement and delight. "Many years have I wondered about this ship!" she said. "You have served my purposes better than I had hoped; I thank you." With that, she stared directly at Solisar with a look of lust, or perhaps hunger.

   Solisar realized also that she no longer had an accent. He tried to get up, but before he could respond, her black dagger flashed in her hand. She plunged the blade deep into his chest three times, with an evil grin on her face the whole time.

   Solisar screamed. The shock of the attack meant that he did not notice the pain much. Instead, with his last strained, blood-filled breaths, he could sense that it was the poison of the weapon that was ultimately going to kill him. He felt his strength draining away.

   "My children proved weaker than I had hoped," Nulara said, as she nonchalantly slid the shoulder of her garment off with her hand. The thin fabrics fell to her waist, baring her breasts, and pooling at her wide hips. Then, it seemed as if she suddenly grew taller, and her clothing slipped completely from her body, revealing not the lower half of a woman but the terrifying form of a giant serpent. "At least there will be fewer mouths to feed."
Session: 90th Game Session - Wednesday, May 24 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Nine Lives
Thu-thump....

Thu-thump....

Thu-thump....

Her heart beat heavily in her chest, dread overtaking her as her vision grew hazy and her ears rung in panic.

Each moment passed slowly in her mind, as if passing slower in a more lethargic pace, the reality around her perceived through a filter of altered time. Everything came so clear to her now.

"Please, no..." She thought, glancing frantically around her surroundings as she was lifted from the ground nigh-effortlessly by an unseen force and gradually dragged towards what she knew to be the bottomless chasm she had been eyeing the entire time out of fear. Each second that passed felt like an eternity as she gazed on helplessly towards her comrades whom had until this point been embroiled within a difficult battle, herself included.

Her thoughts were broken by the sudden deep chuckles emanating from the bulbous sphere of flesh, its toothy maw opening wide in a fit of malefic laughter as it sadistically teased her by bobbing her up and down over the chasm, loosening and tightening its telekinetic grip over her, assuring her of her inevitable fate below. Witnessing its undulating eye stalks staring into her very soul, she despaired as her own body froze up in terror, her fur standing on end as she could hardly move her body, regardless of the effect placed on her.

Just moments prior, she had been nearly turned to stone. Pieces of stone still fell from her body into the lightless hole beneath her as she stared hopelessly towards those she had considered her closest of allies and friends. Just as soon as she had thought herself safe, the aberrant creature had taken hold of her through the means of some unseen force, her heart still pounding within her chest. Each beat came as a terrible, calamitous thud as it clamored within her. She panicked, tasting the light tinge of copper, and felt each beat within her throat as her vision grew hazy, quickly falling prey to a panic attack then and there as she searched helplessly into the eyes of her onlooking comrades, who until that moment had not even realized what was going on. But now, witnessing her moments from death, they had all turned their gaze to what was soon to be the last they'd ever see of their feline friend. She had not been the most vocal of the group, nor the most helpful. But she was who she was, and that was what mattered most.

In such a brief time of knowing each other, she had gotten to know each and every one of them by name, learn a little bit about them, and bond with them. She felt closer to knowing the warmth of a true family than she had ever felt in her lifetime... And....and....

It wasnt something she was ready to give up. She didn't want to die. But within the back of her mind, a morbid sense of knowing crept over her. That calm before the end. The rush of knowing that it'd all be over soon, and the thought to cherish the sight of their faces one last time, that the fate of her life was no longer in her control anymore. It calmed her a bit, giving her time to accept her death as she hung over the pit.

Seeing them staring at her with their looks of bewilderment and concern however did much to soothe her, despite her terrible predicament. Their eyes met hers with looks of both despair and sorrow as they quickly realized what was moments away from happening. Especially through the eyes of Airiel and Kayde, whom she had felt the most from. She had not known Fallen or Azaia as much as the others, yet the genuine look of distraught did assure her one thing.

At least it wasn't for nothing.

She, had in a sense, found a family. Having lived a life without the fond touch of affection or love, she had never been able to appreciate the warmth of having such close friends before, but now she had found a group of people that didn't just tolerate having her around. She could see that she was appreciated, that she was wanted, and that her presence to them meant something more than just an adventuring partner. It was that selfsame affection she had craved her entire life, and had no confirmation of knowing until this very moment as she stared into the wide eyed figures of those around her in that last moment of clarity as she felt the grip of the beholder's magics wearing thin.

Though tears had begun to well in her eyes, she gave her best smile, despite the raging beat of her heart thudding within her chest, her voice cracking and trembling as she forced a few audible sentences from her chest as she dangled over the abyss, the spell now ending as she plummeted.

Roaring with laughter, she heard the beholder's wide toothy maw cackling in maniacal glee as he dropped her to her death, the vile creature having scored another point in the death toll. Yet, Tonks did nothing to even acknowledge him anymore. Even as she fell, her eyes were trained on those she loved. She would have followed them to the edges of the world, but this is where her paws came to rest.

"Thank you...for being her only family...She loves you all" she spoke as her body fell into the inky black depths of the bottomless chasm the terrible and malefic creature had been so teasingly dangling her over.

Accepting of her fate, she gazed down into the dark as she fell, her vision heavily obscured and the temperature around her suddenly getting much colder as she descended rapidly. Though her mind was suddenly jarred as she hit her body along the side of a rocky outcropping, creating long lacerations along her sides, warmth quickly flooding to the site as she reflexively reached out with her arms to grapple to the rapidly disappearing footing before her.

Wincing with pain, she was wounded several times over as her arms attempted to make purchase with sharp stone and loose gravel, the feline lucky enough to have magical gloves to keep herself from pulling back bloody disfigured nubs as she caught on and slid two score feet downward, the pain of the grinding stone similar to that of a cheese grater against raw fingertips, yet the gloves held strong, unable to be torn apart by regular means. With each foot she slid, a brilliant spark of lightning streaked outward like sparks upon grinding steel.

"Hah!!?" she gasped, struggling for air as she felt her body slam against the wall, yet holding fast as she glanced around frantically for some form of light besides the sparking of her gloves against the coarse stone wall before her. Finally having stopped, she took a moment to catch her breath as she listened for the battle above. Yet, at this depth, she could hear naught but the drowned out echos of shouts of battle. For a moment, she took a breather. Yet, as her physical stamina began to fail her, she felt her fingers quickly loosing their grip on the groove she had worked herself against, fear once more welling up inside of her as finger by finger lost their grip as she slipped steadily down the side again, before utterly plummeting once more and hitting her back on an outward-facing beam of stone, possibly a stalagmite in a fortunately sideways position.

Though she had been falling for a mere few moments, each second burned within her mind, feeling more akin to hours of anguish and hopelessness as she clung for dear life, hoping to somehow live through this horrific nightmare.

"Please wake up, please wake up, please wake up sleepy-paws! She doesn't like this dream-thought anymore. Please just wake up!" she whined, wincing as her body collided with several more rocky outcrops on her way down, breaking and slowing her fall each time, yet delivering to her body a great bit of bruising damage and cuts along her attire.

She slipped, suddenly colliding with a sharp object, her body coursing with pain and the warmth of blood.

"Wake-up! Get up sleepy-paws, she doesn't think this is funny anymore! Be of waking up, yes? Please..."

Taking a needle-like stalactite to her shoulder, however, she yowled in pain as it drew crimson rivulets that stained her tattered clothing, a greater portion of her upper body now laid bare before slamming back-first into another outcrop, feeling it crumble and give way beneath her as she looked up to the rapidly disappearing hole above her.

Though again in spite of her wounds this particular collision, fortunately for her, angled her just right.

Falling face down into the abyss, she began to feel a humming magic in her feet with each inch that she approached to the wall again, wind billowing past her ears as it forced her hood down. Then it struck her.

In a moment of brave and skillful maneuvering, she kicked her legs outward, each foot suddenly making an almost magnetic purchase with the wall as her shoes caught firmly and tightly as they would to normal ground and refused to let go for a good few moments before slipping down the wall several final feet as she spun around in a 180 to stare upwards to the dimly lit hole far above from whence she had fallen. She was beaten and bloody, but she'd be damned if she was going to die now.

The once soothing feeling of acceptance of death had all but faded now. Where it once soothed and lulled her into a state of false security, she now felt a raging fire burning brightly within her. She felt her fight or flight instincts kicking in as her body broke its normal limits, granting her a second wind, but with it coming the taste of blood from her own mouth. Disregarding it, she instead felt a surge of hope. She wouldnt die here. Not if she had any say in it. She was battered and bloody, but she was still alive. She had felt pain like this only once, back in Lerwick with the black hats. This time, however, she had a reason to fight.

"Hnng....Ilmater... **hack** Preserve her... Give her strength" she hissed in pain, slowly drawing her bruised fingertips up to the surface of the stone once more, feeling their sore surfaces each try and take hold, yet failed utterly for several minutes before finding another groove to hold onto as her slippers magically kept her there. She was lucky to be alive.

Feeling down to her sore feet, she wiggled them lightly, feeling the magics cling to the surface of the stone tightly, her heart slowly calming itself as she finally stopped falling. Though slightly dirty now, they had served their purpose valiantly, a treasure she swore thenceforth to treasure for the remainder of her life.

If it had not been for Airiel, this encounter would've ended a lot more tragically, she thought to herself. Her eyes bloodshot and bewildered, she stared hopefully to the hole in the ceiling once more as rampant anxiety joined her hysteria. Were they even alive anymore? How many had been destroyed by the creature now? Or had they triumphed and possibly forgotten about her, assuming the worst?

The very thought once more began to well up inside of her deepest core, that sense of dread, old scars and wounds suddenly resurfacing as their once scarred-over surfaces ripped open at the thought of her being abandoned once more. Having been unwanted by her parents was bad enough, but those whom collectively she deemed a family? It felt even worse as her body began to tremble.

She slowly felt around for more footholds, gradually using the greater strength she had in her legs still, coupled with the ability to wall climb effortlessly with the boots to progress upward, yet still feeling burdened by the great weight of anxiety and despair. Her family was dying.

Her family was in danger

"Please...no... She doesn't want to ever do something like this again...she doesn't want to trade tongue-wags with stupid scary devil-man anymore. He knew danger, but not tell them. She wont let family ones agree to stupid - man wants anymore. He almost kill her love-hearts. Wont...She just wants family again...she just wants..." she whimpered. It was painful enough knowing that Gaius had just died, that she had witnessed plainly with her two eyes. Though they had not known each other for long, she still had felt a very strong kinship.

"She swears...if she gets out of scary death-hole alive, she'll tell pretty one how she feels...that she....that she...."


CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW

Whoosh!

Startled, she spun several times on her heels once more before catching again at a hole in the wall. Was something looking for her? Did they actually send someone down to search for her? Catching her pulse in her throat again, she stared upward, seeing the large black figure of something flying overhead. Knowing the sound to be that of the large bird Edgar flew around on, she tucked in her head into her shoulder, crying for a long few moments in realization.

"Ahh! She's sorry Po! She is sorry! She regrets everything she did!"

"They....they didn't forget...They didn't abandon her..." She softly cried, before letting forth her voice call out in mournful, sorrowful and despair-ridden yowls of distress, listening to them echo throughout the chasm. After a few long moments, she saw the beady glossy eyes of the large bird pass nearby her, the whoosh of its large body past her reassuring her once more that they had found her.

"Over here!" She heard a voice call, the sight of a long rope being hurled downwards towards her giving her renewed vigor as she reached out desperately towards it, grabbing taught with the hempen rope that had been tossed down. The material burned against her hands, but she cared not as she stared upwards into the eyes of her family, tears and blood in equal measure blotting out her vision as she forced a smile despite the burning pain.

What a family indeed.

It was going to be alright.

She was going to be alright.
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Epic × 3!
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Attempted Cleric-Retrieval: Second Encounter
Leokas gave Kytharrah some water from his skin. "Drink this; it will make you feel better. I tried to warn you that the old lady was not your friend."

   Belvin examined the minotaur's leg. "She yanked your bone from its joint. I cannot possibly set it again for you. I am not strong enough. You need to take your leg and yank it back into place, in this direction, like this. It will hurt."

   Kytharrah did as he was told, bellowing in pain, but he felt some immediate relief once his thigh bone was back where it was supposed to be. He tried to take a step, but the bone popped back out of its socket again, and he almost tumbled over.

   "You cannot walk on it until it heals fully," said Belvin. "Pop it back in place again. Then use your axe to lean on when you are walking from now on."

   "How will I run?"

   "You will not be able to, until Hakam fixes you again." The minotaur was horrified by this news.

   "How will he do that?" said Szordrin. "He is useless to us, even if we ever do find him, which remains doubtful to me."

   Szordrin had just drunk a healing potion and was now walking over to examine the bodies of the slain hags. He found a sapphire pendant on a gold chain around the neck of the hag that he had killed and a jeweled anklet around the hairy leg of the other. Under the ruined dome, there was also a small chest containing perhaps a thousand gold coins and an arcane scroll with an unrecognized spell or spells, which stretched out to about five pages in length. Szordrin then examined a large pot in the center of the floor and smelled its contents. The hag had been brewing something when they had arrived.

   Solisar came over. He could detect a necromantic aura from the pot's contents the scroll appeared to be an evocation. "May I read the scrolls?" he asked Szordrin.

   While the sun elf did so, Szordrin removed a scroll of his own and read from it. Its magic words faded. Then he stared into the pot and sniffed again. He became aware that the oil would animate any corpse on which it was rubbed. Figuring that such an oil might catch a fair price on the black market, he carefully collected some in his waterskin.

   The others transferred the coins into one of the bags of holding, both of which were transferred from Kytharrah's pack to Kamil. Leokas then returned to the task of finding tracks. This was now far more difficult, since the zombies left humanoid tracks, and the haboobs had thrown up a large amount of sand, but Leokas took his time, and Belvin prayed for guidance for him from Thard Harr. Kytharrah sniffed about, still trying to help, though he clearly struggled. Belvin took the shape of a wolf to further assist.

   The ancient dwarven road seemed to fork here, one branch continuing to the southeast and another branching off to run due east. "The kidnappers took this eastern path," said Leokas finally.

   So that is the way that they went, calling out Hakam's name as they walked. Belvin remained in wolf form, and Kytharrah limped along near the rear.

   After 30 minutes, the road terminated at another running north to south admidst the ruins of some large structures. Leokas and Belvin paused to verify the trail of their quarry.

   "You are not limping any more," Solisar noted to Kytharrah. Looking down, the minotaur tested his leg. With a hoot, he ran about and leapt several yards joyfully, acting much more his usual self. He showed no evidence of the injury.

   "That is odd," said Leokas. "An injury like that, without the aid of magic more powerful than in our potion vials, should have taken months to heal."

   "It seems the Ioun stone around his head is more useful than we at first thought," noted Solisar. "It is most fortunate that he was wearing it when he took the injury. I was at a loss for how we would get him back up the cliff to our encampment in that state."

    Leokas nodded. "The tracks we are pursuing continued south," he informed them. So they all turned south. They had not walked very far in this new direction when they were blasted by a terrible sound, like a rasping cough, but so loud that it shook each of their bodies to the core. Kamil bolted to the northeast in terror, and Kytharrah almost fell to the ground from shaking. "That cough hurt!" The minotaur reached for one of his potions. Solisar did the same.

   Szordrin reached instead for a shaving of licorice root from his pouch. After completing a spell, he darted away, moving twice as quickly as usual.

   Their opponent revealed itself, bounding like a frog from its hiding place atop an old crumbled wall to their right. As it traveled through the air, they could vaguely take in its grotesque form. It was taller than most men, but it had a gangly shape to its hairless and sexless body. It had red-colored skin that appeared the texture of dusty clay.

   Kytharrah swung at it just before its feet hit the ground, spraying brown, mud-like "blood". Nevertheless, the monster landed by Leokas, and its head shot forward, as if its neck were a spring. The creature's head was somewhat triangular, and the neck attached near the top of the skull, the base of the "triangle". Its open, toothy mouth came so near to Leokas' face that it appeared to be kissing him. Before Leokas could respond, he felt a violent convulsion shake his whole body, emanating from the monster's mouth. He dropped his bow and stood there stunned.

   Their stalker's head retracted. Its face now leered from below its hunched shoulders, in front of its massive chest. It looked like it was going to make another attack, but Belvin had come to his friend's rescue, snapping his wolf jaws at the monster's short legs. It swatted at the wolf with its dangling long arm, but on a second attempt, Belvin caught tight hold and yanked his head back. The creature fell to its back on the hard sand.

   In moments, Kytharrah and Szordrin were upon it, cutting it to muddy pieces with axe and dagger.
Session: 88th Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 05 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Attempted Cleric-Retrieval: First Encounter
The pursuers climbed quickly over a gap in the low hills on the eastern horizon and then haphazardly descended a steep 800 or 900 feet on scree and frozen sand to the surface of the desert. The tracks were easy to observe but hard to follow, as the descent was precarious and slippery. The waxing moon did not provide many details of the expanse of dry ruins ahead of them. In fact, from here, they could see the remains of no structures at all, only a few strewn boulders atop a hardened flat of sand.

   The land continued sloping downward, though gradually, over a quarter mile before leveling out completely. They continued on, mostly in silence, following Leokas and Kytharrah, for another quarter mile, before Leokas stopped to examine the ground more closely. "I think this used to be a road," he said. "I do not think these flat stones are natural. They appear of dwarven cut to me. Yes, the tracks continue this way to the southeast."

   "It must be the Shadovar," said Szordrin. "That explains the armored bootprints and the guano smell. They must have superior darkness magics that allow them to continue seeing within it, unlike the darkness that Cassiera and I can create."

   The road became easier to follow, and soon there were more signs that a city once stood here — the remains of stone walls and columns.

   "A new smell," said Kytharrah, looking up from the trail.

   Leokas looked up from the ground and spotted movement to the south. A large figure was within the shelter of the remains of a domed structure. "Something is there under that dome," he warned.

   As if in answer, there was a high-pitched whooshing sound, and they found themselves engulfed in a haboob. Ferry, Szordrin's weasel, sensed the danger before anyone else and sprung safely from his master's shoulders. Leokas and Kytharrah were near the edge of the swirling column of sand and also leapt to safety. The others found themselves abraded by the violently blowing particles. A second vortex rose up an instant later, surrounding Kytharrah. "Bad sand!" he shouted, getting the stuff in his mouth in the process. He coughed.

   Szrodrin spoke magic words and vanished from sight. The rest pressed against the wind and broke free of the sands. "Solonor, grant my enemies a swift death," Leokas prayed, as he nocked an arrow, but he did not yet have a clear shot at the figure under the ruined dome. Solisar, behind a protecting shield of magical force, heard a raspy voice completing another spell, an evocation of some sort that he could not quite recognize. Its result was clear, however; a third haboob spun into existence, once again pummeling several of them with tiny grit.

   Belvin, since he was on camelback, had now moved farther south than the others, toward some ruined square columns. He spotted something from the corner of his eye and spun Kamil around. A man was swinging his fists but missed. Belvin saw that he was dressed in caravanner's clothes, but his skin was dehydrated and shrunken against his skull. A zombie? But unlike any zombie Belvin had seen, the undead creature radiated dry, sucking heat like an oven. He slashed twice with his magic scimitar, and Kamil raised his thick toes to attack. The undead caravanner wobbled about, but did not fall.

   Kytharrah jogged out of the local sandstorm headlong toward the dome, whence he smelled "lady smells". An incredibly tall, decrepit and haggard old woman stepped out, dressed in a filthy and ragged burnoose. Her skin reminded him of the color of vomit, and her thin hair was iron-gray in color. The minotaur now blocked Leokas' clear shot.

   "My, aren't you a cute boy!" she spoke toward Kytharrah in Jotun, with an elderly, cracking voice. "I just want to hug you!" She raised wide her arms and smiled, baring her few remaining brown and black teeth. They looked rotted but sharp.

   "Play?" said the young bull in the Giant tongue.

   "My pleasure!" said the ugly, old giantess. She sprung forward, with unexpected agility for someone appearing her age, swinging her foot-long, curled nails to catch hold of him, but he avoided the grab, ducked, and swung his horns. She also stepped aside.

   Leokas stepped to the side to get his line of sight back. "Stop playing! She is trying to kill you," he shouted to his young companion. Then he let fly his arrows. The first arrow struck her in the left breast with enough force to knock her heavy frame back. Two other arrows punctured her limbs.

   Before he could loose another shot, there was another eruption of sand from the ground. Solisar was caught in the blast once again and was nearly suffocated and blinded. He stumbled out of the swirling mass and downed a healing potion. "There must be two hags!" he warned.

   Red stained the wounded hag's sagging burnoose, as blood spurted from her chest; nevertheless, in a fit of rage, she shrieked and lunged at Kytharrah again. This time, her curved nails caught hold of him. Kytharrah felt like he had been slashed with knives. She tried to pull him in, but he shook her off. She swung again, but he dodged her. Now it was his turn. He threw his weight in her direction, but she dropped low to the ground below his center of mass and caught hold of his left thigh. Kytharrah felt a pop in his leg and found himself slamming hard onto his back. There was an intense pain in his thigh, and he could not move it. "You win!" he told the hag through gritted teeth.

   There was a crackling sound, and Szordrin appeared out of nowhere, a bolt of fire shooting from his fingertip. "...And I found her!" he shouted, in answer to Solisar's warning. From behind a column, a second hag emerged, engulfed in flame. She fell to the ground, shrieking in agony as her flesh rapidly burned away.

   "Sister!" screamed the first hag, as she stood over Kytharrah's prone form. "My children, attack!"

   Leokas silenced her, putting an arrow first in her throat and then through her forehead. Her massive form tumbled forward to the ruined stone.

   Belvin, still in combat with the ashen zombie, cut its head off with a final swing. Its body hit the ground like a sack of sand. In answer to the hag's final words, eight more desiccated zombies appeared, passing through a stone wall that had clearly been an illusion. Belvin moved southeast to meet them, swinging his scimitar above his head and yelling his feral war cry.

   The zombies were closest to Szordrin, and four of them now had him surrounded. He yanked a vial of holy water from his belt and splashed it over them. They moaned and writhed about as the blessed water burned their shrunken skin, but they were not deterred. All of them struck at Szordrin, bludgeoning him with their bony fists. Worse than that, the heat around them was suffocating. Were it not for his fiendish heritage, he might have passed out.

   "They are slow," shouted Leokas. "We can outrun them. Belvin, rescue Szordrin with Kamil." He then began firing off his arrows into the group of attackers, but the zombies did not seem greatly hindered by having arrows in their preserved husks of flesh.

   Solisar, finally safe from the still-spinning columns of sand along the road, sent forth magic bursts repeatedly at the zombies, striking several and dropping at least one of them. Kytharrah managed to get his uninjured leg under him, and balancing on it, took one of his healing potions and turned to face the zombies. Two of them were now upon him. The first swung its fists. Staggering forward, Kytharrah drew his axe from his back and cut the zombie clean in half. The second zombie lunged, and the minotaur swung again, sending a head and an arm flying through the air. Then the minotaur fell, drained by the supernatural heat of the cursed things. He felt exhausted and desperately thirsty.

   "We are coming," shouted Belvin. Kamil galloped up to Szordrin, and Belvin leaned to the side and grabbed Szordrin around the waist, lifting him from the ground. Szrodrin, lying over the back of Kamil's neck began casting a spell, as they moved away from the pursuing zombies.

   "Get up!" Leokas said to Kytharrah. "We can outrun these monsters."

   "My leg is hurt bad," said Kytharrah in a parched rasp. His face showed growing worry at the realization that the magic of his potion had not fixed the injury.

   Flight was not necessary, however. Magic missiles from Solisar and a ball and column of fire from Szordrin and Belvin, respectively, burned up the chasing zombies, leaving nothing but ash in their places.
Session: 88th Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 05 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Ambush Averted
~ third-day, 13th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, dusk
Adbar Road


By dusk, the wind had thankfully calmed. They had left Citadel Adbar behind them and now traveled over the snow from pillar to pillar.

   Suddenly, Kytharrah stopped, sniffing the air. There was something new, but similar to a familiar scent. "Puppies?" he said.

   Belvin began a guttural chant, waving his arms wildly. The magic revealed the shapes of animal auras where his eyes could not see them. "Eight large wolves, just in front of us!" he warned, using the Elven tongue.

   Solisar reached into his component pouch, spoke some magic words, and tossed some silver dust into the air. "Goblins," he stated quietly, so as to not give away that he add spotted them, "on wolves."

   "Yes!" said Leokas. Remembering the animosity his friend had towards goblins, Kytharrah growled.

   "Fight well, my friends!" said Tavis, who then turned and ran to put distance between Kaedlaw and the danger.

   With an elven grace, Galadrel dismounted from behind her son. "Ilthian, to me!" she called.

   Ilthian tumbled off the back of the camel and landed in the snow. She drew her carving knife before standing to her feet.

   Mythlos drew his sword and waited.

   Kytharrah was confused. He could smell the puppies, but he could not see them. Maybe they were still far away and only the elves could see them. He knew that elves could see far. He grabbed the javelin he had acquired from one of the dead ogres in Tosvin's fortress and readied to throw it. "I do not see the puppies!" he complained.

   "You will in a moment, Kytharrah," said Solisar, who was fumbling for a tiny vial of mica, which he snapped open between his fingers. He tossed the powder in the direction of the opponents that only he could see.

   There was a burst of sparkling dust, which outlined the form of two wolf-riding goblins. "I cannot see! I cannot...." shouted one of the goblins in its own language, which only Leokas could understand. He was silenced by the javelin from Kytharrah, which sailed perfectly through the air and took its target in the chest. The glittering goblin outline fell from its mount, impaled by the shaft. An instant later, the second goblin dropped from its mount, pummeled by blasts from Cassiera's fingertips as she sat atop her camel.

   Leokas, no longer with a goblin target, sent an arrow deep into the hide of one of the outlined wolves. "Leave some for me!" he called from his mount.

   Szordrin had cast a spell and held his hand as if ready to throw something. "Where do I aim my magic?" he called out.

   "Ten yards to the west of the others!" shouted back Solisar.

   A moment later, a flash of fire and heat erupted near where Solisar had indicated, accompanied by high pitched screams of pain. The snow below the blast was now slushy and splashes were kicked up as the invisible foes moved about.

   Belvin still saw the auras of the eight wolves and with a tribal yell caused the snow around their feet to turn as red as blood. Two of the wolves, also blinded by the glittering dust from Solisar, collapsed to the snow, as the magic sucked their strength away. Only two wolves were not now standing in the U-shaped stain. One of them was off to the side, standing back; the other, quicker than the others, had avoided the blood snow and bolted toward Mythlos. Its rider became visible to everyone as he broke the spell by swinging his morningstar at the moon elf, striking at the thick leather on his shoulders. Mythlos swung at the goblin's mount but it leapt away. It gave him an evil look with its red, glowing eyes.

   "Not wolves," shouted Mythlos. "Worgs!"

   Leokas dispatched the goblin with a single arrow in the back of the head and then sent two more into the worg.

   Solisar spoke more words in High Elven, and two more warg-riding goblins appeared, their magics dispelled, south of where Szordrin had unleashed the fireball. They were moving slowly from the effects of the red snow. Kytharrah bounded over and was upon the nearest in mere moments, slamming the rider from his seat and then swinging at the worg. The beast growled and avoided the blow, but its growl turned into a yelp as its side was pierced by one of the minotaur's horns. The second now-visible goblin rode up to defend his fallen companion and strike at Kytharrah's back, but he was blasted off his saddle by a burst of magic from Cassiera. Barely ten seconds had passed, and six of the eight goblins were already dead.

   The worgs, however, were much more of a threat. The one near Mythlos, with two of Leokas' arrows in its side, caught the elf's leg in its jaw, yanking him off his camel. The camel nuzzed and bolted, and Mythlos hit the snow hard. Belvin charged over on Kamil and then leapt from his camel's back to defend his friend, but Mythlos was already back to his feet with a kip-up and swung a blow with enough force to nearly severe the head of the worg that had attacked him.

   The other riderless worgs now had them partly surrounded. Kytharrah struck one as it darted past, and it tumbled onto its chest. Leokas shot at it twice while it was down, before it could get up on its feet again.

   Another faced down Hakam, who had dismounted and stood with his sword drawn. It growled at him, and then it spoke. "Smell tasty!"

   Hakam swung, striking it on the snout but barely drawing blood. "Stay back, fiend!" he shouted.

   "Bite your head...!" began the wolf, but then magic from Cassiera and an arrow from Leokas between its eyes finished it.

   One of the two remaining goblins, the one who was standing back off to the side, suddenly became visible, floating oddly in the sky. This one was clearly a shaman or adept of some sort. Pointing his dark dagger at Hakam, he shouted a command. (Leokas understood him to shout, "Fall down!") Hakam felt a strange sensation, but he fought against the urge to lie down with his mind and resisted the spell. Magic bursts from Szordrin's fingertips assured that "fall down" would be the last words the goblin would ever speak.

   Solisar was more concerned about the remaining goblin that only he could see. This one was wearing a full suit of goblin-sized armor, and he was holding his worg back just at the edge of the blood snow, waiting for an opening and watching how the other worgs fared. Solisar tossed more powdered mica at him.

   So the goblin leader, now effectively visible and sparkling, entered the fray. He charged at Mythlos, and swung his morningstar down at the elf, who interrupted the swing with his sword. At the same time, the goblin leader's worg lunged low and took Kytharrah's hairy leg in its mouth. It could not trip the heavy minotaur, however. Kytharrah lowered his head and charged the armored goblin, but the little creature deflected the attack with his shield, giving a deafening clang. Kytharrah was shocked that the little creature was still on his mount. The leader turned his attention from Mythlos to his attacker and struck the minotaur on the head with the armor-breaking weapon. Kytharrah's thick skull withstood the blow, and he cared little about the bump it would leave. He snorted a challenge back at the goblin.

   Most of the party now ganged up on the leader. Belvin and Leokas loosed arrows, Solisar and Cassiera sent bursts of magic force, Belvin sent a ball of fire, and Mythlos and Kytharrah swung their blades. The goblin could not avoid either the magical or mundane arrows, but his thick armor spared him severe harm. The worg dodged the flaming sphere, while the rider was surprising well-trained at defending the melee attacks with his morningstar and shield. At last, the minotaur, in frustration or perhaps an act of cunning, hooked his enemy's shield with his horns and, bellowing, ripped it off the goblin's arm with a toss of his head. It flew through the air and landed on the snow near Galadrel and Ilthian. "Stupid shield!" said Kytharrah.

   Meanwhile, Hakam found himself facing two of the remaining worgs. "Eat you together from both ends," said one worg, licking its jaws. They each kept snapping, but the cleric defended himself with his longsword.

   "Hakam!" shouted Ilthian, but Galadrel held her back.

   Szordrin heard her call, however, and galloped over. A burst of fire spread from his open palms and engulfed one of the wolves. It yelped and ran off, fur burning, before it collapsed and was still.

   The other worg, though, landed a bite on Hakam's shield arm. Hakam yelled in pain, and Solisar sent bursts of force into the worg until it released the cleric from its grip. Hakam then stabbed the beast.

   It growled and snapped again but missed. Szordrin opened his palms again, but no fire came out this time. "Curses!" he shouted.

   A short distance away, the battle continued against the armored goblin. His worg bit at Mythlos' legs and yanked its head to the side. Mythlos was thrown down onto the snow again, and his sword slipped from his fingertips.

   At the same time, the worg's violent thrashing caused the goblin leader to fall from the saddle. Kytharrah stood over the goblin in an instant and brought his axe down, cleaving breastplate and chest in two and driving the creature deep into the snow.

   Leokas loosed an arrow. "But his worg...." He loosed another arrow. "...will not...." A third arrow. "...fall!" Cassiera shot at the beast with her magic as well and Belvin directed the sphere of flame to strike the worg on its hindquarters. Singed and with several arrows stuck in its side, the worg would not give up. It stepped forward and mauled Mythlos, who had just reached his sword but was still prone. He called out in pain, as the worg chewed into his leg, and touched himself with the side of the blade to ease some of the pain with the sword's positive energy. Kytharrah rushed over and rescued his friend, striking down the leader's worg at last.

   One worg remained.

   "Curses again!" shouted Szordrin, who failed a spell a second time. Hakam was managing to hold his ground against the final red-eyed wolf. Each continued to inflict minor wounds to the other by tooth or sword. Cassiera galloped over and tossed a vial over Hakam's head that splashed acid unto the wolf's dirty fur. Belvin commanded the snow, and some of it rose up from the ground and shaped itself into a long lance of ice. Then it shot forward like a ballista bolt... and struck Hakam in the lower back, piercing into him and then bursting into shards of ice. The cleric fell forward to his knees.

   "Belvin!" screamed Ilthian. "What did you do?"

   "I missed!" shouted Belvin, and his voice showed genuine concern. He rushed over, hands glowing with positive energy, to try to repair his mistake.

   The worg took the opportunity to attack, clamping down on Hakam's right shoulder, but magic projectiles from Mythlos and Solisar killed it, releasing Hakam from its grip. Hakam fell back unto the snow, covered in blood, and Belvin touched the spot where the icelance had struck him. The magic sealed the wound, and Hakam stopped grimacing in pain.

   "I apologize," said Belvin. "Had I intended to kill you off, I would have done so back in Calimshan."

   "I am sure of it," said Hakam.

   Kytharrah ran up to Leokas and said proudly, "I killed a goblin!" Then he paused for a moment, frowning. "I like playing better than killing."
Session: 86th Game Session - Wednesday, Mar 08 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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