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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 2 — The Third Portal Guardian of Choshein
When the ringing in their ears ceased and their eyes readjusted, they all looked around to see if everyone had survived the blast. Hakam, Cassiera, Mythlos, Belvin, and Leokas all had singed hairs but otherwise were far enough from the blast or had reacted quickly enough to have survived without injury apart from mild skin burns. Szordrin was unscathed, having been attached to the ceiling by the power of his spell.

   Solisar, however, had been close to the explosion, and his clothing and skin were scorched. Mythlos rushed over and healed the sun elf with his magic sword.

   Solisar bent down to examine Kytharrah, who was still, and touched his blackened fur. "Oof," was all the minotaur said. Hakam quickly healed him.

   Kytharrah sat on his rump on the ground. "I must thank you, noble Kytharrah," said Solisar. "Had you not leapt upon that bead, I surely would not be alive right now. You have spared my life. You are a hero."

   Kytharrah bared his canine teeth in a wide smile, proud to be a hero for his friends.

   Hakam examined Uregaunt's scorched body. The shade was definitely dead this time. "I suppose we have proof to bring to Tosvin now," he muttered.

   They looked over the magic items that Uregaunt had on his person. Cassiera took the necklace, which had two remaining beads on it. As soon as she had it in her hands, it changed form, now appearing as a golden chain with two golden spheres dangling from it. When she placed it about her neck, it returned to looking like beads on a string.

   "Be careful around any babies," Solisar warned. "They tend to pull on beads."

   "I will keep my new necklace away from both babies and minotaurs," Cassiera stated, smiling. She also strapped on Uregaunt's bracers, which shrunk down magically to fit her narrower wrists.

   "You have bracers like mine now," Kytharrah smiled.

   "I think Kytharrah is correct," said Solisar. "They have a very similar aura — in both strength and kind."

   Hakam took the arcanist's ring and slipped it on. He tried jumping around and moving his arms and performing various other motions to see if he could figure out what it did.

   Solisar chuckled and then informed the Calishite that the ring was probably a ring of protection like the minotaur also wore.

   Szordrin grabbed the dead shade's spellbook, hoping it was not too scorched to learn new spells from it. Mythlos stopped him. "We are going to share that," he said.

   There were two potion bottles as well, which Cassiera slid into her potion belt.

   Hakam stood over Uregaunt's body and began chanting a prayer.

   "Are you sending his soul back to Shar?" asked Szordrin.

   "No, I am preserving his body so that it does not rot while the minotaur carries him. We need our proof that we did as we agreed."

   Leokas seemed to be in a daze during all this. Belvin waved his hand in front of his good friend.

   "Uh, we might have a problem," said Leokas. "I have... just heard the voice from the portal."

   "What did it say?" asked Belvin.

   "'You have been chosen. You must guard the secrets of the past.'"

   "How do you feel?" asked Solisar.

   "The same as always for the moment," said Leokas. "I have time, don't I? Uregaunt did not grow ill for a day."

   "What if I start walking towards it?" asked Belvin, doing just that.

   Leokas felt a strong impulse to nock an arrow, but he resisted. "Do not test it, Belvin!"

   "Can you fight it?" asked Cassiera.

   "I do not know yet," said Leokas.

   "No one is going through the portal unless we all go through together," said Hakam calmly. "Perhaps the curse will still permit you yourself to travel through the portal," he suggested.

   "You are supposed to protect the secrets of Jhothûn," said Solisar, "not Gharreil. You can travel with us to Gharreil, since we will not be going to Jhothûn."

   "I suppose that makes sense," said Leokas.

   "Tosvin, another portal guardian, sent us through his portal to here, remember?" said Solisar. "So we know that the portal permits other guardians to send persons safely through to other portal locations, just not Jhothûn."

   Leokas did not look so certain.

   "Let us walk carefully to the portal and try it," said Solisar.

   They did so. Solisar reached out a hand to touch the nearest pillar. Leokas stopped him. "No. Let me do it. It is not right for you to touch it."

   Leokas touched the blue stone, and curtains of blue, heatless flame instantly appeared between each of the columns. Through the flickering energy, they could make out the shape of a dark, narrow area between two walls, what they assumed to be the bottom of the crevasse. "Gharreil," Leokas said, and nothing visibly changed.

   "Minotaur, go get Galadrel and the camels," said Hakam. "The rest of us will wait here." Kytharrah hurried off.

   After a few minutes of waiting in silence, Cassiera asked Leokas again how he was feeling.

   "I do not feel any pressure to stop us," said Leokas. "Perhaps Solisar's theory is correct."

   Galadrel rushed over to her son. "Kytharrah says that you are acting strangely. What has happened to you?"

   Leokas tried to calm his mother as the others took control of the camels.

   "We should tie the camels — except for Belvin's camel of course — here," said Hakam. "We shall come back to retrieve them shortly. It is not too cold for them within this cavern, and they should be safe from predators."

   "It will be pitch black when we leave," said Belvin.

   "They will be fine," said Hakam. "They will just think it is night and go to sleep."

   "Camels are smarter than that!"

   Hakam then had Kytharrah pick up Uregaunt's body.

   "We need to carefully spread out around the seven faces of the portal," Solisar explained. "It is imperative that we all pass through simultaneously. Also, remember that the portal may malfunction, and we may all appear somewhere we do not expect. Be ready for that."

   Soon, they were all spread out, a step away each from the blue flames of energy.

   "Let us all move forward on the count of three," said Szordrin.

   "On three? or after three?" asked Hakam.

   "I will count, 'One, two, three,' step," said Szordrin.

   "Are you going to say 'step'?" asked Belvin.

   "No!" said Szordrin, growing aggravated.

   "These are important details," said Belvin.

   "Do you understand, Kytharrah?" asked Solisar.

   "I think that he will say, 'one, two, three,'" Kytharrah replied, "and all of us will count in our heads with him, 'one, two, three, four,' and take a big step forward when we say 'four' in our heads, but no one will actually say 'four,' we will only think it in our heads."

   "See, even the lunk understands," said Szordrin.

   "I am fast!" Kytharrah protested.

   "So then, after three. Are we ready?" Szordrin asked.

   Everyone answered in the affirmative.

   "One,... two,... three...!" Everyone stepped forward and vanished into the blue flame....

   ...except for Hakam, who stepped forward into the middle of the circle of blue pillars, alone in a cave in the High Ice with five nuzzing camels.
Session: 75th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jul 17 2016 from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 2 — The Second Portal Guardian of Choshein
When they had regained their composure, they continued forward, entering the cave at a cautious but steady speed. The ice-covered walls reflected the light from Hakam's shield, Kytharrah's everburning torch, and Mythlos' sword. They hurried along so that the protective spells that they had cast upon themselves would not fade.

   Shortly, they entered the main chamber. In the center, the seven blue pillars of the giants' portal reflected their light. Uregaunt was not standing before the pillars; instead, they all clearly saw the resting mass of the Red Worm, the draconic remorhaz that had previously guarded the portal.

   Hakam stopped the others from moving forward when he saw it.

   "I thought they killed it," whispered Szordrin.

   "We saw its dead body," said Mythlos.

   "It's an illusion," said Hakam. "Szordin, hand me the omlar gem."

   Szordrin did so, and then Hakam shouted out, "Uregaunt, your tricks have not stopped us. Show yourself!" With that, he rolled the glowing omlar gem forward toward the enormous, red, horned remorhaz. Daylight filled the cavern chamber, broken only by the shadows now thrown by the massive blue pillars. Hakam moved into the room, his sword drawn. The illusion of the remorhaz faded away into nothing.

   Kytharrah, not knowing what to do, decided to throw his torch at the monster he had seen, just as Hakam had done. Then, he also moved into the chamber, sniffing for Uregaunt's scent.

   The others followed. Leokas nocked an arrow and scanned the room for any motion. Solisar vanished into thin air. Szordrin climbed up the stone wall and then hung upside down from the ceiling, trying to get a better view. Mythlos joined the minotaur's side. Belvin stepped out and detected magic.

   Then they spotted him, heard him, and smelled him, standing in the shadow of one of the thick pillars. He was summoning something, calling out in his own tongue.

   Kytharrah dropped his axe and rushed over with a speed that Uregaunt was not expecting. "Play?" Kytharrah asked, holding his arms open wide. One of the beast's arms swung out to grab the arcanist, but the latter deftly avoided the grab with an agility that the minotaur was not expecting, as he finished the final words of his spell. "Good move!" said Kytharrah, impressed.

   A crocodile with jet black scales and glowing red eyes and smelling of sulfur popped into existence right beside Hakam. Hakam, thinking it to be nothing more than another illusion, ignored the fiendish animal and directed a beam of searing light at Uregaunt. "Vosthyl tells us that your life is forfeit to him!" he shouted.

   Hakam was thus surprised when he was struck by a violent slap of the summoned monster's tail, which knocked him down to his knees. Leokas saw this and turned to assist, sending a single arrow at the large reptilian creature. Strangely, the arrow passed clear through the monster, and it faded as if it had been an illusion after all.

   On the other side of the chamber, Uregaunt stumbled as he tried to cast another spell and was struck by the beam of light from Hakam and three magic projectiles from Cassiera. This gave Kytharrah the moment he needed, and he successfully grabbed a hold of the shade wizard. Belvin rushed forward to join in the tackle, but Uregaunt was thrashing around too much for him to get into the scuffle. Kytharrah quickly stopped Uregaunt's thrashing and placed him in a pin, covering his mouth so that he could cast no more spells.

   Cassiera and Szordrin each tried firing more force magic at Uregaunt to weaken him further. Szordrin's struck true, but Cassiera's pulses were deflected somehow, even though the shade was held fast by Kytharrah. Solisar became visible again. "He is resisting some of our magic!" he warned the others.

   "We can end this peacefully," shouted Hakam, as he hustled over. "You have no chance escaping our minotaur's grasp."

   But Uregaunt did just that. His body instantly became insubstantial and faded into the shadow of the pillar.

   "Where did he go? Is he a snake now?" Kytharrah glanced around, but could see no snake. He sniffed the air, trying to pick up Uregaunt's scent.

   "Anachtyr, purge all that is hidden around me!" Hakam prayed, yet he could see nothing.

   Mythlos stabbed into the air where Uregaunt had once stood. Then there was a shout in Loross from the other side of the chamber, on the far side of another pillar, and Mythlos froze solid, unable to move.

   Everyone else sprang into action again. Solisar rushed to the omlar gem and picked it up, so that the light would travel with him. Likewise, the minotaur retrieved his torch. Leokas nocked an arrow and aimed it at the far pillars. Szordrin walked along on the ceiling, trying to spot their hiding opponent.

   "We must move through the portal," shouted Hakam.

   Solisar dispelled the magic holding Mythlos, as the others closed in. Just as Kytharrah was close enough to smell Uregaunt again on the other side of his hiding place, the minotaur started crying out as if in terror and pain. He crouched down on the ground and covered his head as if the very ceiling was caving in on him.

   Belvin rounded the pillar, scimitar raised high and ready to swing. There was no one there anymore. "He is gone!"

   However, Leokas spotted the arcanist this time, emerging out of the shadow of another pillar and taking corporeal form again. Before the shade could complete another spell, Leokas had loosed three arrows, all of which struck Uregaunt in the stomach. He slouched over in pain.

   Everyone closed around him, Solisar being sure to hold the omlar gem high, driving away all the shadows. The minotaur, apparently recovered from whatever horror he had just experienced, quickly put the sorely wounded arcanist in another head lock, giving him a squeeze. "Got you!" The portal guardian went limp.

   The minotaur released Uregaunt, and his body slumped to the floor.

   "Is he dead?" asked Cassiera.

   Hakam knelt over the body and touched his neck. "No, he is passed out, probably from loss of blood. We'll have to remove the arrows in his gut and stabilize him if we are to take him with us to Tosvin."

   "If we keep him in the light at all times, I do not think he'll be able to shift away and escape us," said Solisar.

   Hakam stood up again. "Minotaur, run and fetch Galadrel and the camels. The faster we pass through the portal and deal with the ice devil, the better."

   "No one is going through the portal," said Uregaunt. They turned around in surprise to see the arcanist sitting up again. His hand was on one of the beads of his necklace.

   "The necklace is magical!" warned Solisar.

   "As you said, my life is forfeit," said Uregaunt. With that, he yanked it off the bead and dropped it to the ground.

   Kytharrah dove toward Uregaunt, his massive body landing over the bead as it exploded in a blast of fire.
Session: 75th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jul 17 2016 from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 2 — An Unexpected "Greeting"
~ sixth-day, 6th of Uktar, The Year of Wild Magic, dusk
Choshein


Cautiously, the adventurers entered the ice-boulder-strewn field where they had first encountered the Shadovar. Leokas' impressive grasp of geography and terrain had led them there safely. The dark entrance to the cavern was a hundred yards ahead.

   That morning, the sixth of Uktar — and the previous night for the arcane casters — they had carefully planned which spells to prepare. Today, this evening, they knew that they would have to face the Netherese arcanist Uregaunt Avhoste, and they knew that he had the powers of a shade and the ability to cast at least one spell that could instantly kill an opponent with a vision of almost palpable terror.

   Now, they dismounted, handing the reigns of the camels to Galadrel — who was to remain safely back, hiding behind a massive chunk of ice — and began casting a large array of protective spells. It was not often that they knew who or what they were about to encounter, and they took advantage of this. Cassiera coated the edge of her scimitar with a yuan-ti poison, and she coated Kytharrah's axe with centipede poison as well. Leokas prayed for a blessing upon his next shot. Szordrin took the omlar gem from Leokas and made it glow as bright as day, since they would be facing a being of shadow. He placed it in his belt pouch to quench the light until needed and then became invisible. Hakam set his shield aglow as they prepared to enter the cave.

   They paused before the cave entrance. Hakam called out, "Uregaunt! We must pass through the portal. Do not try to hinder us, or we shall be forced to fight you."

   As if in response, they heard a loud chittering sound coming from above the cave entrance. A long, bluish creature with many insectoid legs, long antennae, and faceted eyes tumbled off the top of the glacier ice above them and skittered down the side of the wall, the winglike frills on the side of its head extended wide — a remorhaz.

   "Calm down, little worm," said Belvin. "We mean you no harm!" but the huge monster reached the ground before the cave entrance and reared up its head high above them, ready to strike. It began glowing in the darkness, as knobs along its back heated up like molten rock. Steam began rising from the ground where its multitude of legs pressed into the ice and snow.

   "Anachtyr be with us!" Hakam prayed.

   Everyone sprang into action. Magic flew from Cassiera's fingertips as she ran. Two rays of fire shot from Szordrin's hand, as he appeared stuck sideways on the ice wall like a spider. Solisar cast a spell, and the sound of rolling dice echoed over the glacier. Mythlos stepped forward and tossed the elephant figurine to the ground. Kytharrah moved forward with lightning speed to defend his friends against the centipede-like monster's strike.

   Its strike never came. The elephant grew into its full size and gored into the remorhaz' neck, even as it was still twitching from Cassiera and Szordrin's magic attacks. The hot insides of the creature spurted out of the gaping holes in its exoskeleton in bursts, spraying on the elephant's hide. The magic animal trumpeted out in pain, as the boiling hemolymph seared its skin. The remorhaz struck forward with its snapping jaws, but two magic arrows from Leokas entered its open mouth and exited out of the back of its head. Kytharrah leaped out of the way as the monster flopped to the ground and then curled into a ball like a millipede as it died.

   It was the elephant and not the remorhaz who nearly caused the death of one of them. The poor animal bolted in pain and fear, as its skin continued to burn. As it retreated, it knocked over Mythlos and trampled him underfoot, snapping the bones of his rib cage and pressing him into the snow.

   Mythlos moaned out the words of dismissal for the elephant, as he struggled to breathe, and he choked on his own blood. He drew his blade and touched it to his skin to ease the pain. Hakam also rushed forward and sent positive energy through the elf's body, restoring him.

   While they had bested a feared beast in a matter of seconds, they had spent some of the magic they had intended for Uregaunt, who still remained somewhere deep within the cavern.
Session: 75th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jul 17 2016 from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 2 — Sand and Sendings
"We did not even get to say goodbye to our friends!" Kytharrah bemoaned.

   "And now we have an entire desert to cross if we wish to recover Ilthian," said Solisar.

   "I would like to point out," said Belvin, "that veserabs would have been a faster way to return to the portal than walking."

   "If we can make it as far as the last oasis we visited on the journey here," said Hakam, "perhaps the nomads will sell us some camels."

   "They are 'nomads'," said Belvin. "What makes you think they will still be there?"

   "It is our best option at the moment," said Hakam.

   "I am confident that I can direct us back to that oasis," said Leokas, "though I expect the journey to take us two days. We will need your magics to protect us from the heat and sun once again, Belvin and Hakam."

   "At least we can feel the Weave again," said Cassiera, sighing in relief.

   "And at least they let us live," said Leokas.

~~~~


Leokas' confidence in his abilities was not misplaced; they arrived at the familiar-smelling cluster of sand dunes covered with frankincense trees two days later. Finding the oasis hidden among them was another matter, and two separate close encounters with prides of lions concerned them.

   Apart from these lions, the journey had gone surprisingly smoothly. They saw little wildlife on the sands at night and none during the day, and there was no sign of any monsters. They traveled only in the mornings and at dusk, as they had learned from their journey across the Calim Desert many months ago now.

   During the heat of the day, they had set up shade for themselves using Kytharrah's tall axe and bow and his cloak. While Belvin rested against lying Kamil and Mythlos plucked on his mandolin as his ioun stone orbited about his head, the others would play games that Cassiera had purchased in Thultanthardraughts, Old Men's Bones, and talis. (This was after they had teased her for having Kytharrah carry around her 75-pound sack of newly purchased items.) Kytharrah enjoyed old men's bones but was terrible at draughts and could not understand the complex rules of talis. Hakam and Szordrin almost got into a fight over talis, when the cleric discovered that Szordrin had been cheating when dealing cards, but otherwise, it was a more enjoyable way to pass the time than usual, so they were thankful for her thoughtfulness in making the purchase.

   Leokas also continued teaching Kytharrah how to use a bow. The minotaur had even purchased extra arrows in Thultanthar for that very purpose.

   On the first morning of their travel, Belvin had summoned Krynn, expressly for the purpose of letting Kytharrah formally meet the satyr. Krynn had clearly been summoned from sleep, with a groggy voice and with his curly hair sticking out in many directions. For the first time, the satyr complained about being summoned, as he said he had been sleeping contentedly, wrapped in the arms of "one particularly deciduous dryad, if you know what I am saying". He was worried the tree fey might not be there when he returned from his just over 90 seconds of absence. Still, Krynn complimented the minotaur on his large horns, which made the young beast exuberant with pride, and then vanished a few seconds later.

   "What does 'the sit you us dry add' mean?" asked the minotaur. "Those words do not make no sense together."

   That same morning, Hakam had sent the devil Tosvin a message: "We discovered the purpose of the shadow creatures. They will never enter the portal again. We return to retrieve Ilthian and are one tenday away."

   After a short delay, Hakam heard the devil's melodious voice in his mind. His answer was brief: "I eagerly await your return."

   On the second morning, he likewise had sent Ilthian a message, to ensure that she was unharmed: "Ilthian. It is Hakam, speaking by means of my magic. We are returning to you to free you. Are you well and unhurt?"

   A response came quickly. "Hakam! Is that really you? I did not know what happened to you! The imp told me that you were dead, but I did not believe...." Her voice was cut off as the power of the magic faded.

   Hakam was hesitant to message Samber, though some of the other's had suggested he should. "I intend to stop him, not talk to him," Hakam had said.

   "How are we planning to stop him?" said Belvin. "Do you intend to kill him?"

   "I do not know yet," said Hakam.

   "The gods did not give me very clear directions on that matter either," said Leokas.

   "Speaking of Samber," Szordrin had said, "that reminds me that we wanted to test the magic of the omlar gem."

   Leokas presented it to him, and the tiefling wizard placed it several yards away on a small rock. He completed the spell of a cantrip he had readied, and there was a large flash of light centered on the gem.

   "It works!" said Szordrin. "That was a much larger flare than usual."

   They had reached the incense-filled hills shortly after the confirmation of the omlar's power, and eventually, they found the well atop the cloven rock, as it was beginning to grow dark. To their relief, the small tribe of nomads was still camped there.

   Since neither Hakam nor Solisar had prepared the tongues spell last time they had visited the tribe here, they could not risk casting it this time either, as it would tip the nomads off that they were using magic — something that the adventures were told was taboo to this people group. Once again, however, Szordrin did cast a spell so that he could understand their foreign tongue for himself.

   "Mythlos, put the ioun stone in your belt pouch," Cassiera warned. "That will freak them out also."

   "No more than your serpent fangs," said Szordrin.

   She ignored the wizard and continued speaking to Mythlos. "Why do you have the stone orbiting your head anyhow? The stone's power is gone; you said it yourself."

   "Anyone we encounter does not know that," said the moon elf as he placed the magic stone in his pouch.

   The posted guards recognized them immediately, pointing at Kytharrah with smiles.

   The guards were able to pantomime with the party about a place they could set up their bedrolls and hammock for the night, and they did so. As on the past few nights of traveling, Hakam required help from the others getting out of his new suit of banded mail. Szordrin complained about this (for a second or third time). "I am sure Ilthian will enjoy helping you in and out of this armor, Hakam," he said. "Maybe it won't be a waste of our time going back to get her after all."

   The next morning, Kytharrah woke up to find himself surrounded by a cluster of little children, escorted by older siblings, patiently and quietly waiting for him to open his eyes so that he would play with them in the water again.

   As the minotaur tossed young children into the air over the oasis pond, Hakam, Solisar, and Szordrin haggled for camels. The three came back to Cassiera and Leokas, who were playing a game of draughts. "Well?" asked the wood elf.

   "They were willing to part with five camels," said Solisar. "I shall have to use my magic to keep up, and the minotaur will have to hustle along too, but the rest of you will be able to travel much more quickly over the sands now. Leokas will have to ride with his mother."

   "I can pray to Solonor for extra fleetness of feet as well," said Leokas.

   "Camels are much cheaper in Calimshan," complained Hakam.

   Shortly after the camel purchase, as they were packing up, Hakam stopped suddenly and began relaying back a message he was receiving in his mind. "Where've you been? Tried two sendings. Expensive you know. In Lantan last seventeen days. Had hunch Samber from Sambar.... He's not. Kamila is fat now."

   "That was Jayce," the cleric explained. Hakam then responded as best he could in a few words that they had been behind a magical barrier, were in a desert, and were trying to retrieve Ilthian from danger.

   "I am happy to know that Kamila is coming along in her pregnancy," said Belvin.

   "Who?" asked Cassiera.

   "Kamil's lover," said Belvin.

   "Belvin's camel," explained Leokas.

   Hakam sighed loudly. "Camels do not love; they are just animals!"

   "How dare you!" said Belvin, stepping closer to Hakam.

   "Priests of Anachtyr don't love either," said Szordrin.

   "Ask Leokas' mother," said Belvin. "She was the one who made it happen. She knows that Kamil and Kamila love each other."

   Galadrel stood by shyly, clearly not wanting to be pulled into an argument, even a silly one. "Yes, I did gnaw through Kamil's rope," she said, recounting her actions as a wolf many months ago. "That much is true. I do not know if camels love in the same way as people, but I am certain that both Kamil and Kamila wanted to be with each other; I could sense it."

   "See?" said Belvin. "Love!"

   "Enough of this ridiculous argument," said Leokas. "What do we think of Jayce's report?"

   "Who knows how long it will take him to search the whole island for anyone who knows anything," said Hakam, "yet we are not making much more progress ourselves."

   "Lantan is two islands," said Leokas, "but I agree. I suppose that if and when he learns anything, we'll be the first to know."

~~~~


Despite fears that they might encounter sphinxes or blue dragons or some other desert terrors, the journey north continued to be uneventful. The dunes switched over to dry salt fields and stone as they left the Sword and entered the Plain of Standing Stones.

   On the morning of the fourth of the month of Uktar, Hakam sent to Tosvin to notify him of their status. "We are two or three days from the Choshein portal. I shall explain our proposal to you in my next message, which I shall send tomorrow."

   "Once again, I await your message," Tosvin replied.

   By the evening of that day, they reached the massive wall of ice that separated the Plain of Standing Stones from the High Ice.

   "We failed to consider how we were going to get camels up that," said Leokas, looking up the sheer face of ice.

   "No, I did consider it," said Hakam. "Minotaur," he said. (He still had not taken to calling Kytharrah by his new name.) "You can carry a camel on your shoulders, can't you?"

   "Yes!" said Kytharrah. "Do you want me to show you?"

   "Yes. I have asked my god to grant you the power to walk on air. We need you to carry each of the six camels up to the top of this cliff and then to carry each of us. Can you do that?"

   The minotaur nodded excitedly.

   "I can climb up on my own," noted Leokas.

   The next morning, Hakam send his next message. "The trespasser leader is now the new portal guardian and can no longer send anyone through. Will you now return Ilthian to us alive?"

   "I am aware of this new guardian," said Tosvin, "yet I see no proof that the dark creatures will cease coming. Bring proof to me as promised."

   Hakam sent a second message after another ten minutes of preparation. "Very well. We will subdue the new portal guardian and bring him through to speak for himself."

   Tosvin sent no reply.

   "Why does the portal need a guardian anyhow?" asked Szordrin. "What is it hiding?"

   "The treasures of the whole empire of Jhothûn," said Solisar.
Session: 75th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jul 17 2016 from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
The Trial
~ fourth-day, 24th of Marpenoth, The Year of Wild Magic, afternoon
Thultanthar


"We could flee the city," said Belvin.

   "How? We have no magic, and even if we did, last I checked, only one of us can fly."

   The party were in one of their rooms, discussing what to do, now that they had learned that their new friend, Riddre, had been accused of high treason.

   "Just because I do not spend my time in the shops or library among the humans does not mean I have been idle," said Belvin. "I will have you know that I have befriended a good number of dire bats and veserabs. I am certain they would fly us away from here."

   "How would we leave this tower though? We have no lift key."

   "I still have my poison," said Cassiera, smiling wide and baring her sharp fangs. "I might find a fool or two to incapacitate and take his key."

   "And our weapons? And the minotaur's horn knobs?"

   "No one said it would be easy."

   While they had some ideas, they were unable to come up with a plan that satisfied everyone, so they waited.

   That night, gnoll servants and krinth guards came up, packaged up Riddre's belongings, and took them away.

~~~~

On the twenty-fifth, the next day, in the morning, they all received a letter from Presmer.

Presmer Galanoth, Soldier of the Expeditionary Division of the Empire of Netheril,

To the Adventurers Residing Within the Northwest Guesthouse,

Tyche's Blessings.

I received word from Cassiera of the Southern Lands that one who was staying with you hath been accused of high treason. I caution you that execution is the punishment for such a crime. If ye can find any means of escape, do take it.

Again, please consume ye this letter, lest I face severe punishment upon its discovery.


   Before they had much time to discuss the letter, they were at last summoned before the Princes of Shade, that very afternoon.

   The royal palace was much like the other ancient buildings they had entered, with strange architecture clearly relying on magic to support it.

   Their so-called "trial" was somewhat anti-climactic. One-by-one, (except for Kytharrah, whom the shadovar seemed to perceive as a slave,) they were led into a room with thirteen stained-glass windows. The windows seemed to depict royal figures, but it was hard to make out, as the room, as so many others, was lit only by candles. From a few of these windows, shadowstuff oozed through.

   Hakam was first. As he stood in the center of the room, hidden voices spoke from behind the windows, asking him questions. Not once did one of the princes reveal himself.

   "What is thy name?" "Whence art thou?" "Wherefore art thou here?" "Who sendeth thee?"

   Hakam, in his typical manner, answered each question truthfully.

   The shade princes wanted to know a great deal about the "empire" of Calimshan, if it was currently at war with any nations, and the strength of its navy. Hakam emphasized the power of the Calishite navy but also noted that its concerns were with defending against pirates and the "machinations of that rebellious territory of Tethyr." They wanted to know the name of the caleph of Calimshan, how long he had been in power, and whom he had succeeded.

   In the end, they had very few questions about the Great Glacier, the High Ice, or the portals. Instead, they asked him his personal opinion of elves and if Calimshan had any dealings with the phaerimms or the Chosen of Mystra. Hakam answered in the negative on the last two points.

   Solisar was next. He, too, was asked questions of his homeland. Once he described that Evermeet was far across the ocean and typically cared little for happenings in Faerûn — and that he had no dealings with the phaerimms or the Chosen — they seemed content to ask him no further questions and dismissed him.

   Leokas was kept for a longer period of time, yet not quite so long as Hakam. Leokas stressed that he had been traveling as a mercenary for his own purposes and had no connection at all to the high elves of the High Forest and their councils. They seemed to doubt him at first, but when he seemed in the dark about recent events in the Forest, they bid him leave and to send the next one in.

   Galadrel, too, was questioned for a long time. She tried to convince them that she had not even been to the High Forest in a decade, which was true.

   Mythlos spoke of being a last refugee from a small elven settlement in Tethyr. They seemed unimpressed and uninterested in anything he had to say, so he was dismissed quickly.

   Belvin's home of the Chondalwood seemed to intrigue them at first, and they asked questions about the empire of Jhaamdath, after Belvin had described the forest as being near a country called Chondath. Once they understood that the empire of Jhaamdath no longer existed, they lost interest in anything Belvin had to answer.

   They had many questions of Szordrin about the current activities of the drow, once they learned of his origin in the Underdark. His vehement and spoken hatred of the drow, however, convinced them that he knew nothing they would find useful.

   Cassiera was questioned for a shorter amount of time than all the rest, as the princes recognized neither Samarach nor any of the adjacent countries she named for them.

   "Why didn't I get a turn?" complained Kytharrah.

   "It was not any fun," said Cassiera. "You were lucky."

   They were escorted back to their rooms.

   "If we are to escape, this is our last chance," said Belvin.

   "I think the questioning went well for us," said Hakam. "They can't possibly have any reason to suspect that we have any connection to the recent war or the countries involved."

   "Except that I am actually from High Forest, as was Riddre," said Leokas.

   "You said that you told them you were nothing but a mercenary."

   "Yes, but Riddre was nothing but an ambassador, and now he is likely dead."

   They discussed how they might escape but once again decided that it was too risky. They did not have much time to discuss anyhow; no more than an hour after they had been escorted back to their rooms, they received word from a steward that they were to be exiled from the city, effective immediately, under strict orders never to return again. They were given no explanation for this decision, but it was better than a sentence of death.

   After nearly two tendays of waiting for their trial, two hours later found them standing on the sandy beach of the dark lake below Thultanthar, their gear returned, and their horns un-knobbed.

   "We did not even get to say goodbye to our friends!" Kytharrah bemoaned.

   "And now we have an entire desert to cross if we wish to recover Ilthian," said Solisar.
Session: 75th Game Session (Double Marathon Session!) - Sunday, Jul 17 2016 from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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