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Chapter 1 — Post-Bar Fight
The bartender came back out of the kitchen with a large gallon of beer. "Where did half our customers go?" he asked.

   Drik-ch'kit clicked its mandibles in a way that the bartender seemed to understand, presumably explaining that the man had been charmed.

   The intense pain in its head had ceased, and so Drik-ch'kit escorted the illithid from the tavern. The three who had come in with the mind flayer followed them out, including the Shou warrior and the penguin. The lizardfolk departed quickly as well. Nargroth and Leokas, now recovered from the mind blast, began to help the barmaid and Oma clean the broken glassware, while Belvin and Hakam used their magics to heal the human whom the lizardfolk had nearly killed and the halfling whose brain had nearly been eaten.

   Drik-ch'kit reentered the tavern and chirped about the other bouncer being missing. Solisar followed it out and found that the beholder had telekinetically tossed the other insectoid over the edge of Bral. It bobbed up and down on the gravity plane and was drifting off into wildspace barely visible. Solisar used a flying spell to recover the poor soul.

   Within the bar, the two dwarves were bragging of their prowess, while their third companion was still passed out in the corner, the one about how he had punched a mind flayer, the other about how he had knocked a giff out cold with a single blow. They clearly still had energy. Kytharrah, who was somewhat upset at Jayce for implying that he might break his earlier playmate's head and forcing them to stop, now asked the dwarves if they wanted to wrestle with him. They happily agreed.

   "Take it outside," said Belvin, as he repaired the bald spot on the halfling's skull that had been dissolved by mind flayer mucus.

   Outside, Szordrin and Jayce — back to looking like a drow — were speaking with the man in the cloak from the bar.

   "What is your name?" asked Szordrin?

   "Martho. Thank you for helping me. Truly thankful."

   "We shall be thanking you soon," said Szordrin. "Do you manage the Interlink Consortium shop?"

   "For the night shift, yes," said the man. "What of it?"

   "Walker, tell this man what we need."

   "Do not rush things, master," said Jayce to Szordrin. "Can you not see that this man is distressed?" Then to Martho. "I could not help but notice that you have a lot on your mind, saer. In the bar, you barely noticed the fight erupting around you, and even before that you were not joined in revelry with any others. No, you quietly drank alone. Forgive my intrusion into your privacy, but are you not distraught over something in your life? Have you not come here to drink as a distraction? Your life is full of regrets and you do not know how to free yourself from the guilt that you feel."

   The man looked dumbfounded by this drow interviewing him. Drow were not known for their compassion or emotional empathy. Szordrin also was in awe. Surely Jayce was using magic to read the man's thoughts?

   "What do you want from me?" said Martho.

   "You think that you have reason not to trust us?" Jayce continued. "That is fair. Look at us, such strange companions — we are probably a spider-demon-worshiping dark elf and a spellcasting fiend-spawn. Well, if I read you correctly, I have felt what you felt. That is how I see it in you so clearly. So weighty was the guilt of my past life in the Underdark of Toril that I could barely stand to live any longer. So too with my master here, but our lives were turned around because of the kindness of one man. We are evidence of what a good man can do. And do you know why my life is no longer depressed? Because I have passed that kindness on to others. Do you want to feel joy again? The secret is to cease looking inward and look outward at others. Stop regretting and make a difference for good!"

   "Are you priests? Are you proselytizing me?" the man still looked confused.

   "No, we are two trying to set right a wrong, and we need your help."

   "Help? What can I do? I manage a store with such powerful magics and no regulation. Do you know that I have sold portals to necromancers and demon-summoners?"

   "Then make it right; help us right a wrong."

   Martho waited for Jayce to continue.

   "Master, the rod." Szordrin handed Jayce the fragment.

   Jayce continued, "Your consortium sold this rod to the assassin who slew my master's mentor, the man who set us each on the path of good."

   Meanwhile, the baboon with patagia approached the three elves and Hakam. He had not fled the bar as it had appeared; he had been the one to call on the bouncer outside for aid.

   "Most noble elves and human," he said in a gruff but pleasant voice, "I can see that you are newcomers to the Rock. I also observed that you risked yourselves to calm the brawl just now, and I admire this. But I shall be frank. I find myself in need of work. My previous employ, the Silver Rainbow, has been ordered to release its non-elven crew, and I was let go. Do you have need of any sailors on your own ship?"

   Hakam scanned the creature for signs of chaotic or evil auras and found neither. "Technically, such a decision would be made by our vessel's captain, Ombert Stronghull," said Hakam. "Why should we recommend you to him? What skills do you have?"

   "I assure you that I have many years of service on the sails," said the simian. "My people spend much of our lives at sea among the stars. Only have Captain Ombert test me on the ropes, and I shall display my value as a sailor."

   "Why choose ask us?" said Hakam. "Are there not other vessels needing sailors?"

   "Because you have elves!" said the creature, with an odd excitement in his voice. "Elves are the best of all masters."

   Belvin simply burst out laughing.

   "Play?" asked Kytharrah, having bested both dwarves simultaneously and looking for a new game.

   "I might be convinced to play with you, saer minotaur," said the simian, "but permit me to finish this conversation first."

   Hakam directed the potential sailor to the Frihet to speak with Captain Ombert himself. At that point, Szordrin and "Walker the drow" brought Martho over.

   "Good Martho here has agreed to lead us to the Interlink Consortium Corporate Asteroid to find the sale records of the assassin's rod," explained Jayce.
Session: 104th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 18 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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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 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Interlink Consortium of Bral
Chapter 1 — The Interlink Consortium of Bral

"Remember, Szordrin," said Jayce, "if you need to do any bluffing in here, I am your man."

   Szordrin cast several spells upon himself, and then they all stepped up to the entrance. On the door was a placard that read:
The Interlink Consortium of Bral
Helping You Make Quality Interplanar Connections For 49 Years
The Flagship Store
Store Hours
0:00 to 0:00 daily

   The nine adventurers pushed open the door and stepped inside. Two armed guards, a half-elf man on the left and a Shou woman on the right, stood silently to the side of the small foyer.

   Szordrin could magically hear the half-elf practicing a conversation in his head. "Yu Yan, what are you doing after our watch? I do not know about you, but I could use a glass of wine. Would you be interested in stopping at the Raised Cup?" Oh, but she probably does not drink. I can just say that they also have good food. No, she is probably on a special diet. Maybe Starboard Park? No, too obviously romantic. For her part, the Shou woman was meditating and running through her martial arts exercise routine in her mind.

   Here in the foyer, there was an inner door and another placard.
Dear Customers:
Here at the Interlink Consortium, we believe that the multiverse has much to offer, and our special line of products will allow you to enjoy its delights, but we also know that interplanar travel comes with its risks. Thus we believe that no purchase should be made without careful time and consideration — like buying a new horse, you should be able to try out the product, and an expert should be available to answer all of your questions.
For this reason, we want your time on this visit to be an experience, not just a shopping trip. Feel free to explore our showroom, and if at any time you have a question, simply toss one of the coins in the basket below to the ground, and a knowledgeable representative will be with you shortly.
Welcome!

   The "coins" in the basket were simple round tokens, seemingly made of wood. Carved on one side was the Interlink Consortium logo; on the other was written, "Help is on its way." Solisar could see that the wooden tokens were enchanted. Szordrin took one and opened the door.

   They entered a spacious and open warehouse room. Four more guards stood by, one in each corner, but no further employees could be seen. (Hakam was relieved to note that none of the guards had a chaotic aura.) Placed around the showroom were nine portals. Most of them were unique in shape and style. Some looked like archways; some were platforms. Hanging from the ceiling above each portal was a wooden sign. From left to right around the room, the hanging signs read in large letters: "Our History," "Tuning Forks," "Personal Devices," "Communicators," "Portal Accessories," "Portal Repair," "Planar Guides," "Raw Materials," and "Research & Development". Beside each portal stood a smaller sign. A single banner hanging in the very center of the room read, "All portals in this showroom available for purchase and delivery. Inquire with a representative for pricing."

   The first thing that most of them noticed was the portal under the "Personal Devices" banner; it looked like one of the portals that Samber had purchased, which they had inadvertently helped deliver to him in Chult. Jayce headed toward it. Szordrin walked toward "Portal Accessories", but first, the disguised wizard turned toward Solisar and said loudly enough for the guards to have heard, "My royal historian, go investigate the History portal."

   Solisar rolled his eyes at Szordrin's comment but obeyed. Belvin followed him. The others continued to look around the room. Kytharrah approached the portal underneath the "Tuning Forks" sign, which looked much like a pool or bath. He could see the blurry image of a room in the mostly still waters. He put his large hand in the water and was fascinated to no longer be able to see it. Then he noticed that his fur did not feel at all wet. He began experimenting with placing other body parts into the "water". Then he saw a knob and turned it. The water responded by changing from clear to orange. He turned it again, and it turned green.

   The portal under the "Our History" banner was a simple archway of black stone. The portal was already active; Solisar and Belvin could see a small room through it on the other side. (When they stepped around to the far side of the archway, they saw only the showroom room in which they were standing.) Solisar read the sign beside the portal aloud to Belvin.
Our original, two-way, always-active portal design.

   Nargroth, Oma, and Leokas joined the two elves, and the five of them stepped through the archway to find themselves in a small museum of sorts. Various items were on display in glass cases, and placards explained the history of the company in fancy calligraphy. The four began with the first sign.
How It All Started

The Interlink Consortium is a company founded on the power of love, a power that links all of the planes and all of the crystal spheres, a power that still drives us to put care into all of our products....

Belvin audibly gagged, and he and Leokas turned away to look at other things. The other three read every word.

   In summary, the history described how the company was founded almost 50 years ago by the son of a rich "noble", (in truth, most likely a former space pirate, though this detail was inferred by the readers,) who became an explorer. His life was supposedly changed forever when he accidentally discovered an elemental vortex from the Elemental Plane of Air to the Feywild. Lost in the strange twilight of that world, he gazed upon a fey creature and fell instantly in love with her, so the story said. He pursued her for days, until he stumbled into a pool that was actually a portal back to the Material Plane. He managed to find a way back to Bral, but he could no longer sleep, so great was his desire to gaze upon the fey maiden again. A man of no magical talent at all, he hired wizards to provide him a way of locating her again and began selling items that they made to fund his journeys back to the Plane of Faerie and to other planes.

   The founder soon "linked" his company to other magic shops on Bral and then to those of wizards from other worlds and crystal spheres. Inventors whose products were sold by the Consortium agreed not to sell them through other vendors. In exchange, these products were spread to other worlds and spheres. The company started out by selling simple tuning forks; cross-planar communication devices, such as sending stones; and locators, before expanding to portals and their apparatus and ultimately to even providing guide services and commission work.

   Belvin was looking at some of the items behind a glass case. There was a strand of golden hair, supposedly dropped by the "fey creature" and a silver leaf with golden vanes. "This leaf is not from Toril," said Belvin, "but I recognize it from my visions. Leokas, do you know this leaf?"

   The ranger, too, had never seen it in any forest of Toril.

   Meanwhile, Katharrah, after inserting his hoof, hand, and nose into the "water" of the pool-like portal and after changing the "waters" to every color of the rainbow, took a running leap into its center. There was no splash. Instead, he felt a strange sensation of falling upward, as he found himself shooting out of a similar pool in another room with the same momentum and landing, dry, on the floor with a thud. The thud caused a strange cacophony of barely audible ringing sounds from all around him. Hanging on all four walls of this place were tiny forks. Spaced every yard or so was also a short, narrow column of stone.

   He picked up one that was particularly shiny and whacked it against the nearest stone column. It gave a crisp clear note. "Pretty!" said the minotaur. He, of course, began sampling all of the forks, though he at least had the sense not to ring one of glass ones, as it looked too delicate.

   Hakam appeared, stepping out of the pool in the center of the room and looking slightly confused, as he had been descending into the pool one moment earlier and now seemed to be ascending instead. His ears were then in pain from the atonal racket that Kytharrah was making.

   "Minotaur! Stop that! Put those back."

   It took some effort to return the forks to their proper spots, as Hakam was not an expert in recognizing the difference between a fork made of zinc versus one made of nickel. He took mental note of the prices of each fork. They ranged in price from only a copper piece for a fork of quartz to a full ten platinum pieces for a fork of adamantine. Every pitch of fork was available, including all sharps and flats of the musical scale.

   Jayce had read the sign next to the circular gate below the "Personal Devices" portal.
Our popular keyed, one-way portal provides extra security. As a demonstration, we provide a sampling of objects that you might chose to make into a key for such a portal. Be sure to take one before passing through the portal. Please return the key to the basket upon returning to the main showroom!

Beside the sign was a small table with a basket. The basket included such small items as a stone, a coin, an actual key, and a ring. There were about ten items in all. He took one and stepped underneath the rounded arch and vanished.

   Szordrin had read the sign underneath the "Portal Accessories" banner.
Our "mirror" portal design, favored by those travelers who wish either their portal to be a work of art or to hide it among everyday furnishings. To activate this demonstration portal, speak the magic words, "We love our customers."

Szordrin looked at the ornate, wooden-framed mirror, and said, "We love our customers." His reflection was immediately replaced by the image of another room. He stepped through. This new room did not have any merchandise on display; instead, scrolls on the wall described various modifications to portals and diagrams of portal attachments and paraphernalia, from portal keys to portal security devices.

   One diagram and its description immediately caught Szordrin's eye.
Galormansko's Sequencer Apparatus
Invented by Galormansko, from the world of Oerth, the same world as the famous mage Mordenkainen. This apparatus is embedded in the frame of a portal. When the portal is activated, it creates a temporary portal at the destination of the main portal, allowing one to sequence portal jumps.

   "Samber ordered one of these," spoke Szordrin to himself. Knowing that the duration of his mind-reading magic was ticking away, he took the wooden token that he had taken from the foyer and tossed it to the ground. When it hit the floor, it grew to a disk of about a yard in diameter and a human man appeared to rise quickly out of it.

   "How may I help you, saer?" said the man, showing an extremely large fake smile. This man dresses very strangely, he thought. He must be an off-worlder. Maybe I will make my commission today!

   "I am a representative from Guallidurth in the Underdark of Toril below us," said Szordrin. "Among other things, the Mistress Mother has sent me to investigate the possibility of beginning a spice trade between her city and those of other worlds." As he said this, he held up a small pouch of spices from Calimport. "Is this something that your company can help us with?"

   The man took a whiff. "I do not know the smell, but it is indeed pleasant." He maintained his display of white teeth. Drow! Almost as terrifying as the neogi, he thought. Then he added, "If you are asking if we would have dealings with a race that is... erm... disliked by many others, I assure you that here at the Interlink Consortium, we are a neutral party and have respect for all of our customers. We ask no questions; we simply offer you the best products."

   "Can you tell me about this product here? How would it help the Matron Mother sell to, say, the City of Brass?"

   "Oh, you would not need a Galormansko's sequencer to establish a permanent portal link to the City of Brass; any of our simple portals can do that. No, the sequencer is only needed when you would otherwise have to establish, well, a sequence of portals to reach a destination. The Plane of Fire only has a single layer. As I am sure that you know, most of the Outer Planes have multiple layers and the usual magics available to planar travelers can access only the so-called 'first' layers, as these are the only layers that border the Astral Plane. To reach the Ninth Hell, for example — though why anyone would want to do this is beyond me — one would have to establish portals between each of the other eight layers first." I wonder if the drow do want to visit Nessus. Gods help us! "However, if one owns one of our amazing sequencers, the links need only be established one time, when the portal is established. After that, rather than having to walk through a series of nine portals, one would only need to walk through a single portal and instantly arrive at the lowest layer. Because of the dangers of connecting to deeper layers of dangerous planes, we strongly urge that our customers also purchase significant security measures for a portal that uses a sequencer."

   Just then, Kytharrah popped into existence in the room, looking like he had just contorted his body to squeeze through a tiny place.

   Well, that is a shaggy monster! How did he fit through the mirror?

   "What can you also tell me about guides?" asked Szordrin. "I see that you also sell guide services."

   "Indeed we do," said the sales representative with another too-large smile. "Many of our customers have never visited the planes before. We have a team of superbly skilled guides, all of whom are experts in many planes. Our guides can also assist in making the initial connections required for establishing portal linkages, or they can be hired instead for making deliveries to planar locations."

   "Can a guide take me to my family?" asked Kytharrah.

   It talks? "Where is your home, young saer? Is it another plane?" I hope it is young and I did not just offend it! It could rip my head off.

   Kytharrah shrugged.

   Szordrin whispered to the representative. "Do not mind our minotaur bodyguard; his parents are no longer among the living. He has no home."

   Nevertheless, the salesman continued, "Well, if your home happens to be another plane, and if you were taken from your home through interplanar travel, we might have just the thing you need. Come with me."

   The man walked to a mirror on the opposite wall, excitedly said, "We love our customers!" and stepped through. Szordrin waited for the minotaur to twist sideways and stuff himself forcefully into the narrow space. Szordrin took the opportunity to remove a small magic pearl, which he held. Arcane symbols flashed before his mind's eye. He then recast his spell to read minds, before following through the magic mirror.

   Back in the main showroom, Szordrin saw Nargroth and Oma step onto a portal that looked like a dais. They each said, "Communicator Showroom, please," and disappeared.

   The salesman, however, led them to the circular gate made of black metal. "Make sure that you take a portal key from the basket," he said, before walking through and vanishing. Tiefling and minotaur each took a token from the basket and followed.

   They found Solisar in the room, perusing the many items for sale on the shelves. There were rings, rods, staffs, and a miscellany of other objects, all small enough to be carried on one's person.

   The man showed them a rod of dark metal hanging on the wall. "We call this a rod of retracing," he said. "If you speak the name of any of your lost family members, it will lock on to the residual threads left in the Astral Plane as they last passed through it. Then, if you have other means of shifting planes by magic, it will serve the same function as a tuning fork and focus the spell such that you will be taken to the last plane to or from which that person traveled from or to your current location." The man turned to smile at Kytharrah but found that the minotaur had already lost interest and was instead examining a large, round piece of black cloth that seemed to be hole into nothing. Once again, Kytharrah began inserting various appendages into it.

   "Our beast has a short attention span," said Szordrin. "I however am quite interested in this item." Szordrin noticed that the rod, like many other items in this room, had the Interlink Consortium logo engraved on it, but beyond that, he thought it looked extremely similar to the fragment he carried with him.... "This looks like the rod that my drow friend gave me." Then he turned to Solisar and said with a wink. "Slave, go get Walker immediately."

   If the man had any idea of who Walker actually was, his thoughts gave no such indication; rather, he was concerned that Kytharrah might break something.

   Solisar understood and ceased examining a magic staff to go retrieve Jayce.

   "This Walker is the one who told us about the Interlink Consortium," explained Szordrin, "and gave the Mistress Mother and I the idea to visit your store in the first place."

   Jayce and Solisar appeared suddenly again in the room, except that Jayce had pointed ears, nearly jet black skin, and white hair. The salesman expressed thoughts of fear.

   "Master, perhaps you should show this worker the rod fragment," suggested Solisar.

   Szordrin removed the metal fragment from a pouch on his belt and handed it to the man.

   "Yes, this is indeed similar, but it is not the same. See, here, this curve does not match the current design. I believe that this is one of our recalled models."

   "Recalled?" asked Jayce.

   "For what?" asked Szordrin.

   "It was found to be more fragile, if I recall the story. It was sold before I started working here, but I heard about it. I think they tended to explode in the presence of some other powerful energy magics. Thankfully, this only happened after the item had been on sale for a few months."

   "Exploding magic items! This does not put your company in a good light," said Szordrin. "The drow expect quality."

   "Of course, we did everything in our power to replace the items or offer refunds, provided one has a receipt, of course. We have a lifetime warranty on all magic items and portals sold through the Consortium."

   Suddenly, Jayce coughed and sounded like he was choking. However, Solisar was quite certain that he heard the disguised bard mutter a series of arcane words in Draconic.

   "Forgive me; I inhaled my pipe too deeply," said Jayce. "The mention of the rod — it is bringing back powerful emotions for me." He looked truly distraught.

   The salesman looked confused and for once did not have a smile.

   "I purchased one of these rods from Bral perhaps two years ago," said Jayce. "My lover, a powerful priestess of Lolth, who had given me my freedom as a gift of her true love for me, was captured by a demon summoned from Abyss as part of the schemes of a rival House. May Lolth curse them all and strangle them in her webs."

   While Solisar and Szordrin knew for a fact that Jayce was not a drow, they felt a powerful urge to believe every word he said. It was as if their deepest self wanted his story to be true.

   "I purchased the rod, because I was told that I could pursue the demon, whose name I discerned through blood sacrifice and divination, to its home in the Abyss. Using the rod, I did so. I found her. I freed her, and as I passionately kissed her in an oh so brief joy, the demon returned. I battled him with my magic sword of ice and would have had the day, but he struck me with a stream of fire. While I emerged unscathed, because of my powerful protective incantations, the rod shattered. The demon laughed, grabbed my mistress, and plane shifted away with her again, leaving me to wander for over a year in the Abyss before I could find a tuning rod that could get me home. Do you understand the horrors of the Abyss that I had to endure to survive? Your faulty rod nearly cost me my life and it cost me my lover!"

   "I am so terribly sorry, saer!" said the man, who even knelt down in respect. "I assure you that we will do everything in our power to make this right and give you a replacement rod that will not fail you and will allow you to track down this dreaded outsider again. However, I am a simple sales representative; you would have to speak with my manager. I am certain that he will know what to do to make this right.

   "Unfortunately, Martho is not here presently. As the Consortium is open all 24 hours of the Rock's rotation, he just ended his shift. I can tell you, however, that he always visits the same tavern after work. It is a place called the Port Hole. I can give you directions if you would like."

   "Slave, pay attention," said Szordrin to Solisar.

   "First, head port to Galley Street. Sindiath Line is on the corner. Look left, and you will see Thufer's Cobblery. Head up Galley Street toward it, but then take a right onto Whale Street. Whale Street will take you to the edge of the Rock. After you pass Cuttle Street at Wallis Tannery, you will find the tavern on the left. It does not smell nice over there, but the view is great. If you get to The Edge, you have gone too far. That is a much larger and more expensive bar but also more dangerous. I wish you the blessing of the gods of Toril... I mean, of Lolth."

   "We shall return later," said Szordrin. "Depending on how you make good my friend Walker's situation, the Mistress Mother will decide whether we do business with you in the future."
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Rock
After "jumping" from asteroid to asteroid and stopping to adjust their heading at each one, they found themselves approaching what could only be Bral. The small city looked like one of the gods had ripped it from the earth and tossed it toward the stars, as the whole city sat atop the flattened side of a small asteroid, just as Gamalon had described it. It was a full city, complete with a lake, a forested park, a palace, plantations, an arena, and a clear docks district. All of this was easily visible from a mile away.

   Below the potato-shaped asteroid were large sail-like vanes and an armored fortress, clinging upside down. Large spelljamming craft were orbiting the Rock, presumably its navy. These included a hammerhead ship, two squid ships, and one of the fish-shaped ships.

   The docks were at the leading edge of the asteroid, and that area was clearly crowded with spelljamming ships. A hammerhead-shaped vessel had arrived from a jump just before they did, so Captain Ombert had the Frihet follow behind it. The hammerhead was a bit narrower than the Frihet, but its keel length was almost twice as long. They could watch the sailors on the hammerhead's main deck adjusting the sail on its tiny mainmast, while others on the aftcastle were tugging on ropes to turn the tailfin-like rudder at the aft of the vessel. A larger catapult then the one on the Frihet rested upon a turret on the ship's aftcastle, and they spotted a second catapult and a ballista toward the fore of the ship.

   "They be more heavily armed than us," said Indo.

   It was then that someone noticed something odd about the sailors. "Those ain't humans; they have tails."

   "Lizardfolk," said Belvin. "They are harmless."

   "In Jayce's stories, they eat people," said Brad.

   "We encountered lizardfolk in Chult," said Hakam to the sailors about who were looking nervous. "They have simple minds and can easily be 'reasoned' with."

   Colored flags were run up a pole from a tower on the docks. The hammerhead ship in front of them responded with its own colors and received instructions on where to dock. Then, the lizardfolk vessel dropped down and entered the Rock's gravity field, swooping in toward one of the leftmost wooden docks that jutted out almost 100 yards into space. To the right, on the Rock's portside, they also watched an insectoid spelljammer land on a flat open landing space.

   The "harbor" tower now signaled the Frihet, asking for an identification. Ombert had his crew respond that they were traders from Lantan on Toril. The Rock responded with a location for them to land, dock #7, on the far side of the docks from where the hammerhead had been sent.

   There was a minor jolt when the Frihet entered the gravity well of the Rock, but they were oriented nearly parallel above the Rock's gravity plane, so the jerk was not severe. Jayce began lowering them down to the level of the plane in a gentle spiral, as they had seen the lizardfolk craft do. Once they reached the plane, the ship bobbed up and down and started wobbling a bit before leveling off.

   "That felt something like hitting water," said Loreene.

   Ombert called out more commands and piloted them in to the dock, almost exactly as if the ship were floating on the ocean.

   The docks extended from a flat ledge at the edge of the asteroid. There was a steep, rocky slope rising up from the edge, and many large warehouse buildings on the top of the slope overlooked them. A large cavern entrance was in front of them in the slope, where the wooden dock reached the land, and workers were heaving cargo into and out of it.

   It was clearly "daytime" on the Rock. There was no need to use artificial lighting, as the sun provided ample light and was as large in the sky as on Toril, but the sky itself was black, not blue. No stars could be seen, but Toril was there in the sky, a beautiful blue half-moon shape.

   Ropes were tossed from the crew to workers on the docks, and their ship was moored. The sailors laid out the gangplank and an official-looking human man approached. "Request permission to board," he said, with a strange accent that none of them had ever heard before.

   "Permission granted," said Ombert, who had stepped down to the main deck. His men cleared the way politely for him, so that he would not be hidden behind his much taller crew.

   The man came across the gangplank and offered no sign of surprise at seeing a halfling captain. He even knelt down in an obvious act of courtesy to speak with Ombert at his level. "Welcome to Bral. I am Urth, one of the harbormasters. Based on how your crew are glued to the railings, I'm thinkin' that this be your first time here. I'll give ye a couple quick rules. In the Low City, unless ye want to end up in the jettison, stick to the main streets and never go anywhere alone!"

   Ombert and Urth discussed things quietly for a while, before Ombert handed him some coins and he rose to depart.

   Rinald stepped forward to stop him. "Saer, before you go, can you recommend any boarding houses for my family and I?" he asked. "There are six of us."

   Urth frowned. "Er, space is tight on the Rock. I'd check at the Red House first, off Eel Street, about halfway starboard toward Hammer Street. Ask around; anyone local will know where it is. If you come to the Green Galley and Marshall's Smithy, you've gone too far. Oh, one more thing; the place looks to be falling apart on the outside, but it's actually quite cozy and well-kept on the inside. I stayed there for a few months when I first came to Bral. Owned by a nice old gnome lady it is. Has a few rooms especially for families, and, as few families come to Bral, the larger rooms are actually more likely to be available."

   Once Urth had moved on, Ombert explained matters to the crew. "It will cost us one silver piece per ton per day — so four gold pieces, since the Frihet weighs in at 40 tons — to dock here, and we will need to pay the cargo offloading fee of six silvers per day, which includes storage in the docking caverns. Finally, we are required to use the harbor's longshoremen, and they each need to be paid two silver pieces each. Harbormaster Urth here says that he will send us eight longshoremen.

   "We will have an assigned spot in the docking caverns — I suppose that is one there," he said, pointing at the large opening in the steep slope of the asteroid. "As you can see, it's a long and steep walk up that slope to the city proper. We can rent a warehouse and its lifts, which carry our goods from the caverns to the surface; we can hire porters; or we can carry the goods ourselves. (It looks to be a hundred-foot climb.) In any case, they said that it would take about four hours to offload and inspect our cargo, and I have a stack of customs paperwork to fill out, so all of you are off duty and free to explore the city until then."

   "Remember, everyone," said Solisar. "Do not go anywhere alone, and it is illegal to start any fires!"

   The sailors excitedly began exiting the ship over the gangplank unto the dock, which bounced up and down as one on water would. One of the sailors, however, a skinny youth named Tym, was terrified of crossing over the plank.

   "What's your problem, Tym?" asked Diero. "Be a man!"

   "You climb up the jibboom all the time," said another. "What's different?"

   "If I fall off the jibboom, I hit the water, and I can swim," explained Tym. "If I fall of the plank, it's emptiness; I fall forever."

   "How are you going to fall off the gangplank?" asked Diero. "It's six-feet wide!"

   "Didn't ye hear what Solisar told us?" said Martin. "The gravy plane is like water, just invisible water. What ye think the ship be floatin' on?"

   Tym wouldn't budge, however.

   "Ye can't stay on the boat, man."

   "Guttar," ordered Niff, "toss him overboard."

   Tym shrieked like a young girl as the massive sailor did not hesitate and grabbed him, lifting him off the deck with ease. "Niff! Please! No! Wait!"

   "It be for your own good," said Niff. "You'll be fine and ye'll thank me later. Can't have a fearful sailor if we want to survive wildspace. Toss him."

   Guttar stepped onto the plank and dropped Tym off one side. The other sailors cheered and laughed as the young man fell some eighteen feet, dropping past the docks and lower than the keel of the ship before he slowed and then shot right back up, launching past the docks to several feet below the gangplank. Then he fell again and shot up again — and again and again — until now he was simply bobbing gently in empty space between the hull of the ship and the dock.

   "See, that weren't so bad!" called Niff, who then immediately ordered for the other sailors to toss him a rope and help him onto the dock.

   Before they had even grabbed the rope, Kytharrah voluntarily threw himself off the boat as well. Soon several of the sailors had tried it, and a grand time was had by all.

   Before leaving the ship, Szordrin changed into the clothing of a noble, while Solisar took time to prepare a more complicated spell that would grant him the ability to detect magical auras for the whole day.

   Then, the adventurers and Rinald's family stepped onto the dock. "Come on, Syphilis," Szordrin called back to Leokas' new wolf, who was cautiously considering the gangplank over what looked to be an abyss.

   "Her name is Sif," said Leokas. He then called her to him, and she obeyed.

   "Are you absolutely sure that you do not have a sister named Sif," asked Jayce, who still could not get over the fact that Leokas' former animal companion had been his own mother in another form.

   "I am certain," said the ranger.

   They walked — or rode on camelback — out to the flat ground at the very edge of the Rock. Turning left, they began walking toward dock #6. They were passed by eight longshoremen, sent to unload the Frihet. Half of the men were human, one was a half-orc, one was a lizardman, and another looked like an intelligent gorilla in clothing.

   Dock #6 was about 200 feet from dock #7, and they passed another cavern entrance. They noticed many large orange-feathered gulls nesting above the cave.

   "Kara-Turan architecture?" said Torm, Rinald's eldest son, pointing at a massive building above them. It was a brightly colored building with columns and with a sloped, tiled, tiered roof. The whole building sat on a raised platform supported by large wooden beams. A four-story pagoda rose from its center.

   In another 300 feet, they passed dock #5 and another cavern entrance. Shortly thereafter, they found one of the winding pathways leading up the stone slope and began climbing. Midway up they looked over to the left and saw a hexagonal stone tower, about 25 feet tall, rising out of the slope. On the flat roof of the tower was the largest ballista any of them had ever seen. It looked to be within some sort of gyroscope-like contraption.

   The path was even more crowded than the docks below, as it was a bottleneck of traffic going back and forth from the city. Most of those passing them were porters carrying cargo. The porters were mostly recognizable races, but there were many exceptions. One porter looked like a reptilian centaur with a small dragon-like head. Another looked like a gnome and a frog had had a child together. They saw a one-eyed, horned giant and another giant that looked like a stone giant with hair. (Leokas was happy that no goblinoids were among the races that they observed.) Many of the humans were Shou or Wa, ethnicities found on Toril in the great eastern continent of Kara-Tur. (A few of the adventurers remembered meeting a Shou man during their first week on the Great Glacier.) It was safe to say that no one gave Kytharrah the minotaur a second look. In fact, more people were looking at Kamil strangely than they were at Kytharrah.

   The pathway had several switchbacks but eventually took them into the city itself. At the top, a wooden signpost informed them that they were on Dock Street and that Grand Street was to the left. Directly across the cobbled stone road was another building of Kara-Turan architecture. Golden eastern dragons crouched at its cornices and two foo lions sculpted from bronze guarded its massive wooden doors. Heavily armored guards with horned helmets, crossed sword sheathes on their backs, and red masks with distorted faces stood guard. To the left of the building was a colorful archway, woven with a curled dragon motif and covered with strange Kara-Turran characters in bright colors. In the Thorass script, "Shou-Town" was written in Common.

   They turned left and walked down Dock Street toward Grand Street, which was said to lead directly through the center of the city up toward the Prince's palace. At the corner, they saw one large warehouse with an infinity symbol within a sphere standing across from a large store named Hanwo Cobblery.

   Jayce laughed. "Ha ha! Bral has a Shou shoe-mender!"

   Nargroth guffawed.

   "It is not funny to mock someone's ethnicity!" Oma protested.

   "Sorry," said the half-orc.

   Among such large establishments as the cobbler's shop and the warehouse were countless peddlers trying to sell their wares, some from make-shift booths, others from within their long, many pocketed jackets. One woman with many-colored and layered skirts lined with tiny bells tried to get Nargroth to play a card game for money, but Oma shoved her away. Miri yelled out when a giant insect-like monster walked up on eight legs and offered her jewelry with one of its two exoskeleton-covered arms. "I meant not scare thee, pleasant-smelling human maiden," it said in very formal Common in a chirping voice with sharp clicks of its mandibles, before it skittered away into the crowd.

   "Will Grand Street lead to the forest we saw on our approach?" asked Belvin.

   "I believe so," said Solisar.

   They turned onto Grand Street, which was even busier than Dock Street and began walking uphill. In 200 feet, they passed a small shrine on the left that looked older than many of the other buildings around. "The All-Father deserves your worship. The All-Father is your true father," repeated an old human priest with a dark, wide-brimmed hat, a cloak of black feathers, and an obviously fake patch over his left eye."

   "It is strange for a human to worship Annam, is it not?" asked Jayce.

   "Annam? I speak of no giant god!" protested the priest. "I speak of Odin All-Father, the High One!"

   As they passed further up the road, Jayce asked, "You do know, Hakam, that Odin is your god's daddy, right?"

   "Foolish nonsense from the Northerners of Faerûn," muttered Hakam. "Any true Calishite knows that Anachtyr has always been a god in Calimshan. He is no interloper deity. The other nations confused him with Tyr Odinsson, because the names sound similar; that Anachtyr has not corrected their foolish idea does not make it true."

   Jayce smiled but did not argue further.

   After walking almost a tenth of a mile up Grand Street, they crossed Eel Street, according to a sign there. "Here is where we leave you, adventurers," said Rinald, "to search for the boarding house that the harbormaster mentioned. I shall send word to you at the Frihet if we are successful at procuring a room. Tymora smile on your search for answers about your mentor's death, Szordrin."

   Just past Eel Street, the road opened into a triangular plaza and was joined by a road named Windlass Court. Then, the road narrowed and continued upwards, though curving slightly to port, that is, to the right. They walked for two more tenths of a mile, crossing Squid and Sailmaker Streets. On one of the corners of Sailmaker Street was the "Office of the Low Magistrate". As they passed on, just outside the doors was a heated argument between a thuggish half-orc and a lizardman, with an armed human in banded mail with a halberd trying to keep them from taking swings at each other.

   "He ssstabbed me firssst!" hissed the humanoid reptile.

   "He stab me second!" yelled back the half-orc.

   They continued on and reached Trader's Way, which, a large billboard announced, was the beginning of the Great Market.

   "We are almost to the Consortium," said Szordrin, who was nearly shaking with excitement.

   "Look behind us," said Oma.

   "At what exactly?" asked Jayce.

   "The view," said Oma. They had come a good height uphill by now, and they could see the sprawl of the crowded Low City below them.

   Nargroth turned to look as well. "There is no horizon here;" he said, "we can look back and see the very edge of this world."

   "The Consortium," said Szordrin, impatiently.

   Past a small cluster of shops and other buildings on the left, the buildings ceased, revealing a massive open area, the Great Market. The plaza contained a plethora of activity and was full of several hundred persons. Entertainers were juggling, bards were singing, clerics were preaching, beggars were asking for alms, to say nothing of all the merchants selling and customers buying.

   Not the time for shopping, they continued. Very shortly, on the right, they passed Anchor Street, then a very busy store called Gaspar's Reclamations. Then finally, they came to Wasp Street.

   "Gamalon said that it was on this road," said Szordrin.

   Gamalon's directions were correct. The third building on the left was Frada's Provisioning, as the old sage had said. The very next building had a small metal sculpture outside its doors of four interlinking rings of decreasing sizes.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Wonders of Wildspace
~ 6th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, morning
wildspace


"I think that one prophecy is about the dragon in that one song that Jayce used to sing," said Brad.

   "What are you babbling about?" said Gren. "You've been trying to solve the prophecies for hours. We are flying higher than we've ever been; isn't that exciting enough for ya?"

   The main deck and castle decks were crowded with all 40 souls — including the animals — aboard the Frihet as it rose higher and higher into the sky, with the exception of Jayce, who was at the spelljamming helm in the forecastle. Many of the sailors were in the rigging for a better view. Even the sailors who were on their sleeping shift were here. Most were looking down, having never seen Toril from this perspective, a beautiful giant orb of blue, green, and brown, with white strands of clouds. About a third of the left side of the disk that they could see was covered in darkness, like a waxing or waning moon, as the sun was to the starboard side and they were pointing north.

   There were numerous conversations among other small groups of sailors, with one stating ignorance about the world not being flat and another responding that only a landlubber would think such a juvenile thing.

   "Some of the worlds are flat!" said Nargroth, interjecting into one such conversation. "The Rock of Bral, for one, is too small for an ocean, but even if it had one, you could not sail around it; it has a topside and a bottomside." The half-orc's tusks were fully visible, so large was his smile. So long had he wanted to leave Toril and see other worlds. It was finally happening.

   "He speaks the truth," confirmed Solisar, when one of the sailors challenged this. "The sailors had come to trust the sun elf as a fount of knowledge about spelljamming.

   Not everyone was enjoying the view. Rinald was trying to get a view down on the planet that he was leaving, but his wife Maegyn, who was severely afraid of heights, was clinging to him. His sons, Torm and Therion, were nearly hanging off the rail for a better view, which only made their mother more nervous.

   With the exception of Rinald's family, all of them had been high over the surface of Toril in the Frihet before, high enough to notice the planet's obvious curvature, but none of them this high. The magic of the spelljamming helm was such that elevation was gained far more quickly than forward motion while within the gravity well of a planet. They had been climbing and accelerating for more than a half hour now. The most they had ever traveled straight up in the past had been about five minutes.

   "How high are we?" asked Ombert, who was trying not to look nervous, as he stood at his position in the aftcastle.

   "I am not certain," said Solisar, who was standing by him. "Remember that this is the first that I have traveled so high either. Perhaps 3,000 miles? The elves of the Imperial Navy explained to me that Toril's gravity well was about 4,000 miles."

   "And what is that supposed to mean?" asked the halfling.

   "It is the point at which down will no longer be down," the elf replied. "We will know when it happens."

   "3,000 miles!" exclaimed Loreene, the short-haired first-mate. "How big is Toril?"

   "If we had tunneled that far through its surface," said Solisar, "we would not yet have reached its center."

   "Look at that there!" said one of the sailors named Diero. "Is that a tornado?" He pointed at a spiral cloud formation traveling over blue ocean far south of the continent of Zakhara, (which was itself south of Faerûn.)

   "It could not possibly be a tornado," said Solisar. "It is far to large for that. See, it would cover all of the Chultan Peninsula there. Perhaps it is what a hurricane looks like from wildspace."

   There was a sudden jolt, and Rinald's daughter Miri let out a scream before her husband Stedd calmed her.

   "What was that?" asked the captain.

   "It is what I told you would happen," said Solisar. "Our ship is now operating under its own gravity. Order our helmsman to roll us over."

   "What?"

   "Trust me."

   "Helm, roll us full about to starboard," called Ombert.

   A sailor, Indo, on the main deck below, relayed the order to Jayce in the forecastle.

   No one felt anything unusual — there was no feeling of vertigo or motion at all — but the disk of Toril that had been below them flipped around to be directly above them in a matter of seconds.

   "Valkur's beard!" cried out one of the crew.

   "Is spelljamming magic so powerful as to move the very worlds?" asked another.

   "It is we who have moved," said Solisar. "Toril is exactly where it always has been."

   "I get it," said Gullbeak. "We are upside-down now but stuck to the floor." He jumped up and down on the deck a few times to confirm his theory. (Kytharrah, too, joined in the "jumping game" and continued long after the gnomish sailor had stopped.) Maegan, seeing her world now above her instead of below her, lost all feelings of unease from height.

   Since most of them had been looking down at their world, only now did some of them notice the rest of wildspace.

   "Hey, the moon is below us now!" called one of the sailors.

   "Where are the stars?" asked Therion. "Do not the stars live in the Sea of Night?"

   "They are all still there," explained Solisar. "You simply cannot see them because the sun is too bright. We must be in its shadow to see stars; it must be night." He pointed up at Toril. "The shadow that we can see on our world is night for all those on Toril right now. If we were to sail to that side, I assure you that we would see many stars."

   "What now, navigator?" asked Ombert.

   "At this point, I think we can rely solely on the magic of the helm," said Solisar. "Give order for Jayce to point us at the moon. Then we should head directly toward it."

   Ombert called out a command to dip the bow of the ship down, which was relayed. Toril fell quickly astern and the moon, Selûne, was now directly ahead. It was a half moon, its left side aglow from the sun's brilliant light. To the right of the moon were the Tears, trailing behind in the same orbit. Only nine were visible as distinct objects at this distance, appearing as unblinking stars, but there were hundreds of asteroids in the Tears.

   "If we are 4,000 miles from Toril now," asked Oma, "how much farther is it to Selûne?"

   "According to the maps that I have acquired," said Solisar, "the moon is 183,000 miles from us."

   Oma gasped. "Even Jayce can only fly the Frihet at 80 or 90 miles per hour," she said.

   "We just came 4,000 miles in 40 minutes, remember. The spelljammer travels different speeds in different contexts. Now that we are free from Toril's gravity well, our speed will be far beyond that, almost unimaginably fast. I am told by my spacefaring kin that we can reach Selûne in mere minutes. Pardon me, I must speak with Jayce now."

   The black-haired elf moved down the steep steps from the aftcastle and crossed the deck to the forecastle doors. He entered the helm room where Jayce was sitting in the magical chair, head and arms pressed tightly into shaped recesses. Jayce's eyes stared straight ahead, but Solisar knew that the bard's senses were greatly enhanced, such that he could see every passenger on the deck outside and even any piece of seaweed stuck to the bottom of the keel.

   "So, my pointy-eared friend, how does this high-speed thing work?" asked Jayce.

   "Unfortunately, I am not certain," said Solisar, "Try to focus on the moon. Do not try to move us forward so much as concentrate on being there."

   "I shall see what I can do," said Jayce, who began humming a song as he tried to feel how to make the ship move forward. After a half minute or so, he spoke again. "Ah, I got it. We are moving. Nine hells, we are moving!"

   Solisar stepped back outside onto the deck and looked out. Everyone else was looking aftward. There were many audible gasps. Toril was shrinking, and quickly. It was subtle at first, but soon it was undeniable. Their bodies once again felt no feeling of motion; Toril and Selûne simply were changing shape behind and before them.

   After only a couple minutes, Toril was small enough behind them that one could cover it with his or her fists. As for the Tears of Selûne, several dozen were now visible.

   "I can't believe me that home is so many thousands of miles away," said Gren, looking back.

   "A hundred thousands," corrected Nargroth.

   "Do people live on the moon?" asked Niff, the bald halfling sailor.

   "Yes!" said Nargroth. "Are we stopping there?"

   "The citizens of the moon call it Leira, not Selûne as do we," said Solisar. "The Leirans are extremely xenophobic; the elves suggested strongly that we do not stop there unless we fall in dire need of air or other supplies. They even use magic to cover the near side of the moon so that their cities cannot be observed from Toril. The government of Leira actually demands that all ships approach from the far side, which we need to pass on to Jayce, as we are almost there."

   "What races live there?" asked Nargroth.

   "Primarily elves and humans, I am told."

   Ombert called out, "Dead stop!" and the moon and planet stopped changing size.

   Though it was well past the end of many of their shifts, most of the sailors remained above deck. A few, however, were growing anxious. "I don't like this!" said Rimardo. "It is too quiet out here, too... empty!" He went below deck.

   Solisar laid out a map across a small table behind Ombert. He glanced behind at Toril and ahead at Selûne (or Leira) and then made some measurements with some tools upon the map. Ombert looked at the map with him.

   "I believe that that largest speck of light there is Sadness, the largest of the Tears," explained Solisar. "All of the Tears are orbiting around the central Tear, called the Castle, which is not large enough to see from where we are, but here it is on this map."

   "How are we supposed to navigate to the Rock of Bral if the Tears are moving?" asked Ombert. "It would be like sailing to a floating island!"

   Like the moon's rotation, the speed of their orbits around the Castle are synchronized with their orbit around Toril," said Solisar. "You can think of them collectively as a single revolving object. Just like we only ever see one side of Selûne from our world, so Sadness is always about 100,000 miles from Selûne and 138,000 from Toril, no matter what time of the month it is."

   "Ah, I understand. So we can make this heading here," said Ombert, taking a measuring tool from Solisar's hands and curving out a path on the map. He then called out a heading for the crew to pass on to Jayce. Moments later, the moon and Toril and the Tears began orbiting around them, as if the Frihet were the center of the universe.

   "Take us forward!" commanded Ombert, and the Frihet launched ahead, meaning, from the perspective of those on board, that the tiny speck that was Sadness grew into an object the size of a fingernail in about half a minute's time.

   "Where is the Rock of Bral relative to Sadness?" asked Ombert.

   "It is here on the map," said Solisar, "about 20,000 miles from Sadness. Once we get closer to Sadness, we should be able to sight this Tear here, Dragon Rock. Sadness is about 50 miles in diameter and we can see it from here. Dragon Rock is the largest of the Outer Tears trailing behind Sadness. It is only ten miles in diameter, so I expect we will be able to see it clearly once we travel about 80 percent.... Yes, it must be that speck there, see?"

   Dragon Rock was indeed a tiny speck next to fingernail-sized Sadness.

   "Dragon Rock is a major spelljamming port," said Solisar. "From Dragon Rock, I am told that one aims first for Tear #213 and then Tear #202. Finally, one can sight the Rock of Bral from there, at a distance of 2,000 miles."

   "How many Tears are there?" asked Loreene.

   "Hundreds," said Solisar. "Most of them do not have names, and most are smaller than a mile in diameter. They are spread out over a distance of some 80,000 miles. The Rock is actually one of the smaller ones. It was originally a hiding spot for pirates. You can see how finding a one-mile-long object in an 80,000-mile area could be difficult if one did not know the way!"

   Omert adjusted their course and had Jayce head straight toward Dragon Rock. In only a minute's time, Dragon Rock was close enough for them to make out features. It continued to grow larger and larger until suddenly, it stopped growing.

   "What happened?" asked Ombert. "I gave no order to stop."

   "We are just at the edge of Dragon Rock's gravity well," said Solisar. "The spelljamming magic will not take us into a gravity well at wildspace speeds. We must be within about ten miles of it."

   "Something moving high above bow to port," called out the lookout from the crow's nest, gazing through a spyglass. "It look like a giant squid, but it has sails!"

   "Ye don't need a spyglass to see that," said Gullbeak. "There is another one right there, probably two miles away."

   "Are they pirate ships?" asked Szordrin.

   "What flags are they flying?" asked Solisar.

   "Ain't no skull and crossbones, but I don't know the colors either," called the lookout.

   "Is that a shark?" asked Martin. About a mile to starboard, traveling roughly parallel to the Frihet was a sailing vessel constructed to look roughly like a hammerhead shark. It was moving past them at a good pace but was clearly now under the power of wind created by its helm, as its sails were full.

   "Are all spelljammers made to look like marine creatures?" asked Belvin.

   "No, those crafted by our people make them like birds or butterflies," Solisar replied.

   Then he said, "Captain, we need you and the crew to 'sail' us around Dragon Rock. Keep us from getting any closer to it, though, or we will drop into its gravity well."

   Ombert began calling out orders for his crew to steer around the ten-mile wide rock floating in front of them in a clockwise manner.

   "Look! There are buildings on it," called out one of the sailors. It was true, they could see a collection of buildings at the edge of the asteroid. The other spelljamming vessels that they were seeing were all heading toward these buildings. They could count over a dozen other spelljammers now, some of which seemed to be docked close to the buildings.

   "It is a spaceport!" said Nargroth.

   "I think that there is another port there as well," said one of the other sailors.

   "The vessels are oriented the same as the plane of the bulk of the asteroid," noticed Ombert.

   "Yes," said Solisar. "We shall have to do the same when we approach the Rock of Bral. Otherwise, when the asteroid's gravity overcomes ours, what is sideways or up for us might suddenly become down! Notice how the buildings are all on the flatest side."

   The sailors especially were fascinated by the strange array of vessels that they saw. Besides the ones crafted to look like squid or hammerhead sharks, there were several vessels that appeared fish-like, with sails coming off the sides and bottom of the hull like fins and large curved, round windows made to look like eyes. Not all the ships had a nautical theme; there were also multiple vessels with an insect motif, with wings instead of sails and long, spindly legs, perhaps for landing on flat surfaces instead of ocean water. They were too far away to make out any persons on board these vessels, so they looked like giant creatures floating through the ocean of space. Only a few other vessels looked like a standard sea-sailing craft as they had.

   The Frihet sailed through the darkness around Dragon Rock. It was strange to everyone on board that it took them far, far longer to circle half way around a ten-mile-wide asteroid than it did to travel the nearly 300,000 miles from Toril to where they now were in their solar system. They passed scores of additional ports, each with more approaching and departing ships, as they circled, and were introduced to still more varieties — ships that looked like birds, like Kara-Turan dragons, like tiny asteroids carved to look like dwarven heads, like butterflies with wings made from giant leaves, and still others with no comparison to anything that they had ever seen.

   "That is an elven vessel," said Solisar, pointing to one of the leafy butterflies.

   There were suddenly gasps from many of the crew. "Good gods!" cried out Miri, Rinald's daughter. "They are beautiful."

   "I have never seen this many stars!" said Loreene. "They seem so much closer from here."

   As the Frihet passed into the shadow of Dragon Rock, eclipsing the sun, the decks of the Frihet were covered in darkness and brilliant stars became visible.

   Ombert was scanning space, trying to convince himself which of the many specks of light ahead of them was Tear #213. With all the stars, the process suddenly became more complicated, but this problem was solved by simply orbiting a bit further around Dragon Rock to bring the sun back into view. Then, by using Dragon Rock and Sadness as reference points, he and Solisar agreed that the third "star" to the left was #213, and Jayce sent them heading in that direction at spelljamming speed.
Session: 103rd Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 11 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Ul'sahab, the City of Seers
The small road leading up the summit meandered up the gentle slope. While Mount Abbalayat rose exceedingly steeply to the clouds, here at its peak, it tapered off, now seeming like a small hill rising out of the cloud cover. The path was paved with ancient stonework, but was kept surprisingly well. Each and every stone bore a runic eye in design. No stone was missing, and no grass was allowed to grow between them.

   Hardy summit wildflowers grew along side the path, and beyond those were many stubby bushes. These were left to grow wild. There were no trees.

   They were approaching a small walled city with green walls. The color was from the abundance of vines covering the white stone. Even though the city was small, the thought of how one could possibly build such a place atop a mountain immediately led one to postulate magic. How else would such heavy stone be carried to the summit?

   The road ended at an archway, of distinctive Calishite architecture. Sarak stopped and motioned for them to enter. He remained outside.

   They entered through the high marble walls and found themselves within a broad domed structure. A star-shaped opening at the very top led sunlight into the otherwise shadowy area. Two men even larger than Sarak stood guard at the dome's only other exit, a gated arch that was smaller than the one that they had entered. The men stood motionless and said nothing, so the group took seats at the several marble benches around the perimeter of the dome.

   Finally, an old man entered through the gate. He was bald except for stringy long white hair at the back if his head. The old man was clearly blind but was walking around as if he could see perfectly.

   "Welcome, visitors, to the City of Seers, city of the Abbalayar. Who has invited you to our abode?"

   "Yashiera has called for us," said Belvin.

   "Yes, Yashiera," said the old man. "A strange love of beasts, but her vision is crisp. Your daughter, too, will likely have the gift."

   "I never mentioned a daughter," said Belvin.

   The old man called for Sarak, who now entered the dome. "Sarak, lead these guests to the house of yr Zahyra."

   The gates were opened again, and they were now following Sarak for a second time. It felt like they were walking through a place that time had forgotten, like ancient ruins restored but never developed further beyond their original construction. The city had a distinctively Calishite architecture. The buildings were short and largely unadorned, but it was clean, quiet, and peaceful, which gave it a special beauty. Few people were about. It had none of the hustle and bustle of every other Calishite city that they had visited. Those who were outside their homes paid little notice to the visitors and went about their chores or tasks in silence.

   "Where are the children?" Szordrin asked his companions. "There are none at all here."

   None of them had any answer, but now that he had pointed it out to them, it made the city seem less welcoming and more mysterious.

   Since the city was quite small, it did not take long to reach the house, a wide, one-story stone building with grated, arched windows and covered in vines, like the walls of the city.

   There was no actual door to Yashiera's house, just an open archway onto a small terrace. They stepped in and Sarak left them again.

   The dwelling was nearly overflowing with plants, feeling more like an indoor garden than an abode. Some of them caught motion with their eyes and spotted tiny lizards darting about and at least a trio of larger chameleons lounging on the boughs of a small acacia tree growing out of the ground at the center of the building.

   Before Belvin could call out that they had arrived, Yahsiera walked onto the terrace. While her copper hair was just as wild as when they had last encountered her, she was now clothed in a chador like a Calishite woman rather than a jungle fortune teller. She looked weak and tired but managed a half-smile. Before even speaking, she opened the folds of her garment to reveal a tiny newborn within and lifted her out to present to Belvin to see and hold.

   He took the child in his arms and gazed at the little girl with awe.

   "Beliera," he said, joining the syllables of their two names. "That shall be our child's name."

   "That is perfect," said the druidess. "Beliera she shall be."

   Beliera had dark skin, mildly pointed little ears, and a tiny tuft of black hair. Her fingers were not stubby like those of most babies but were oddly long. When Beliera blinked, Belvin noticed a second transparent eyelid cover her green eye. It would have been disturbing to most humans, but he thought nothing of it. He was too overwhelmed with new feelings.

   Yashiera spoke to the others. "I welcome all of you to the City of Seers. How did you get here so quickly?"

   "It was a long and arduous journey," said Hakam, who was still out of breath from the climb from the saddle to the Tunnel of Uladvir.

   Yahsiera closed her eyes for a brief moment and then said, "Ah, you have a flying ship."

   "Where are your miniature dinosaurs?" asked Jayce. "They were a nice touch at your old place."

   "I regret that I could not take some of the dinosaurs with me, but they were not my pets; they were guests at my home, as all animals should be."

   "Why are you even here now?" asked Hakam. "Why are you not still living in Chult?"

   "I was one of the Gifted," she replied. "We are sent out once every 20 years. The next contingent leaves in two years. It was time for me to come home."

   "The Gifted?" asked Szordrin. "Do you mean those who share your skill as a seer? The Abbalayar?"

   "No, not all Abbalayar have 'the gift', nor are all those who have the gift among 'the Gifted'. The latter are those chosen to further the line of Abbalayar."

   There was a moment of awkward silence. Kytharrah came over to Belvin — who still was lost in his thoughts — and sniffed the baby.

   Szordrin asked, "We are going to the stars for the next stage of our quest; may we seek your foresight?"

   "Now is a good time for divination," she said. "I have just fed my daughter, and she will sleep soon. Follow me, and let us sit more comfortably."

   The rest of the home had nearly as many wild-growing plants as the entryway, but this new room had many thick and round pillows scattered about. Yashiera sat cross-legged on one of them with her arms folded and asked that they use some flint on a low table to light a plethora oil lamps and incense in the room for her as she began to concentrate.

   A deck of talis cards was also upon the low table. This she took and shuffled. "Who is first?" she asked.

   Beliera began to cry a little, and Yashiera took her daughter back from Belvin and swaddled the baby in her chador.

   "I can go first," said Belvin.

   She held out the deck for him. "Draw three."

   Belvin drew the Nine of Wands, the Nine of Coins, and the High Priestess.

   "The same cards that I drew last time!" Belvin exclaimed.

   Yashiera's skin looked redder than it normally did, as she fumbled with the cards, seemingly unsure of what to say.

   "These cards are not a prophecy, but a blessing;" said the druidess. "They show that Savras is smiling upon our new child. Who is next?"

   "Me!" said Kytharrah, who had never had his fortune read before.

   Kytharrah drew the Ten of Swords, the Four of Coins, and the Ace of Coins. "Pretty!" he said.

   "Are you ten years old?" Yashiera asked?

   Kytharrah shrugged.

   "I did not recognize it at first, for I have never seen nor met a pujabbar. I did not know that you are but a child, yet now the message is clear. You like to fight also; is this true?"

   "I like to play," said Kytharrah.

   "This card represents you. This card represents the four elements. My prophecy is for all the rest of you and is thus:"
Do not overlook the youth among you.
Seek for the one among the four.

   The minotaur bemusedly grinned.

   Szordrin drew The Empress, the Knight of Coins, and the Seven of Coins.

   "As I recall," said the seer, "the last time that I read your cards, I saw into your past; this time, I see into your future. My prophecy is thus:"
Within the twelfth circle of the seventh circle,
The empress abides.

   "Do the circles have something to do with the orbit of the planets around the sun?" asked Szordrin.

   "Planets?" said Yashiera, looking more confused than they had ever seen her.

   "There are eight planets, not seven," answered Solisar. "Perhaps the prophecy refers to the twelfth moon of the seventh planet, Garden."

   Meanwhile, Yashiera handed the deck to Leokas. He drew the Queen of Coins, The High Priestess, and Death.

   "It is very unlikely that one should ever draw three face cards from the trump suit at the same time. These cards are not about you directly, however, so you need not fear their portent. My prophecy for you is thus:"
They shall meet:
The Queen of the Moon,
The High Priestess of Darkness.
Only one shall walk away.

   "This is the second time the Queen of the Moon has been in your prophecies for me," said Leokas. "Can you see who she is?"

   "In all honesty, I cannot. Sometimes I am given words; other times I see images. Your prophecies are only in words, a voice whispering to me from the Outer Planes."

   "The mummy was a high priestess," suggested Hakam, "and the Shadovar also worship a goddess of darkness. Perhaps it relates two of our adversaries somehow."

   He took the deck next and drew The Lovers, the Seven of Chalices, and Justice.

   Yashiera paused before speaking. "This future is very hard for me to read; I feel that it is tied to something in the past. The seven chalices are certainly symbolic of purity, perhaps purity of justice. Yes, it is something to do with the Seven Heavens of Celestia, but I cannot connect this to The Lovers. I am truly sorry."

   "What do The Lovers usually mean prophetically?" asked Szordrin.

   "Almost always, the card speaks of romance in someone's life. But here I cannot tell if this romance — if that is what it means at all — is in the past or the future."

   Hakam nodded and passed the deck to Solisar. The sun elf drew Temperance, the Ace of Wands, and The Magician.

   "Clearly, the magician is you," said Yashiera. "This fortune is easily interpreted, and it has alliteration to it as well." She smiled. "My prophecy for you is thus:"
There is only one chance.
The wizard is wisest
Who waits to wave his wand.

   A loud squeak announced that Ferry wanted to draw cards also. Yahsiera did not seem to find this odd at all. She shuffled and held out the deck for him. With his tiny paw, he slid off three cards in turn. They were the Eight of Coins, the Ten of Wands, and Temperance.

Yahsiera appeared to go into a kind of trance, and then the strangest sounds came from her mouth.
Chirp chirp squeak:
Squeak, chirp.
Chirp chirp, squeak chirp squeak.
Click. Click. Chirp squeak.

   Szordrin effortlessly translated this for the others. "She says, 'Patience, Sly Hunter, you will feast on eight eggs when the master possesses his tenth wand.'"

   Now Belvin insisted that cards be drawn for his camel as well. They were the Five of Wands, the Three of Chalices, and The Magician.

   Yashiera read the cards quickly and spoke, "My prophecy for your camel is thus:"
When the magician offers you five bails of hay and three jugs of water,
Know that he can be trusted.

   "Are there still cards left for the humanoids?" asked Jayce. "Or must we draw cards for Sif, Panther, Kamila, and Cloud too?" He took the deck and drew his cards, the Wheel of Fortune, the Tower, and the Ace of swords. These resulted in the following prophecy:
A single decision to leap will result in the favor of Tymora.

   "Concise," said Jayce.

   Yashiera took the deck back and set it neatly on the table. Then she folded her exceptionally long fingers as if in prayer. "Be still. I sense a prophecy coming to me for all of you as a group." She closed her eyes, and no one said anything for at least a solid minute. Then Yashiera began to speak with boldness:
I see a child. A man is looking for her, but he does not know it. Even if he knew it, he would not know where to look. She is within a suit of metal. Consider what she is. She holds the missing piece.


   Belvin remembered an incident from the beginning of their adventure together. "Leokas, do you remember when we found that little girl?"

   "The one who somehow got herself stuck in that suit of armor in the desert, when we fought that giant scorpion," said Jayce, "before we first met Sseth?"

   "Yes," said Leokas, "but what does that...?"

   Yashiera's voice interrupted him.
I see a crocodile, a chameleon, and a terrible lizard — a dinosaur — gazing into a pool in the middle of a jungle, watching intently. They do not see a dark cloud approaching from beyond them.


   "Cloud giants?" suggested Szordrin. "Is this related to Skata's scrying pool?"

   "There was that dinosaur statue in the temple with the portal to Samber," said Hakam. "Have we seen any crocodile statues?"

   Yashiera continued.
I see a sword. It glimmers. It shines. It is passed from hand to hand, from warrior to warrior. I see within the blade a set of eyes and not those of my own reflection. The eyes have learned something, knowledge that is greatly coveted.

   "Could this be Mythlos' sword?" asked Hakam. "His moonblade?"

   She spoke again.
I see a ball of glass, floating in a rainbow ocean. The ball is hollow; there is nothing inside.

   Beliera began to cry, which snapped Yashiera out of her prophetic trance. She focused on calming her child.

~~~~

   Yashiera invited them to join her for a light lunch of dates and pears, and afterward, Belvin and her spent a few moments discussing some matters alone while the others discussed their prophecies.

   Solisar spoke confidently. "I suspect the phlogiston is the rainbow ocean of her final prophecy, the 'flow' that separates the crystal spheres."

   "The crystal spheres or the planes of existance?" asked Hakam.

   "The former," Solisar replied. "The Astral might be considered that which separates the planes."

   "An empty crystal sphere then...."

   When Belvin had said goodbye to his new daughter and her mother, almost precisely then did Sarak appear again at the house to escort them out of Ul'sahab.

   As Yashiera rocked Beliera back and forth, she gave one final cryptic statement regarding her four prophetic visions for them:
Of the four visions I have seen, I can also tell you this: One of them you have seen before; one of them you have heard; and one of them you have yet to see.

   "Is there one we will smell?" Kytharrah asked.

   She replied, "The remaining vision only one of you has seen."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Mount Abbalayat
~ 4th of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, Morning
Marching Mountains, Calimshan


"You played your yarting for the queen of Tethyr?" asked Gren.

   "No, no," Jayce replied, "she purchased a magical music box that plays Jimena's and my music whenever she desires it. I am told that it helps her three children fall asleep at night."

   "How much did you make from that deal?" asked Martin.

   "It is not polite to ask a musician how much money he has made from his sales," said the bard.

   Under spelljamming power drained from the young wizardess Oma, they sailed the early morning skies over the northernmost lands of Calimshan. The previous night, the Belvin had received a second message by magic bird — this time caught by Oma's magic cat, Panther. In it, Yashiera described a set of directions to follow to reach the fabled Mount Abbalayat, hidden within a cloud covered secret valley in the Marching Mountains. Despite Szordrin's disbelief that the messages were really coming from Yashiera and Hakam's suggestion that they might be flying into another trap, Belvin convinced them that the messages were really from Yashiera.

   Mythlos had remained behind in Darromar. Belvin and Leokas were at the port railing, gazing down at the Calim River below them.

   "The last time we were here, we were traveling the opposite direction down this river," said Belvin, "and Vashti was with us." He gave a knowing look toward his friend of nearly a year.

   Leokas ignored the look. "When the gnolls attacked, we thought that that hyena had killed her," said Leokas, "but that was before we learned that she did not need to breathe air. She was so fearless. I recall what she yelled as the animal charged at her: 'Come on, mutt, bring it!' Moments later, they both tumbled over the embankment."

   "I was trancing in the water that night," said Belvin. "My first image was off her falling backward into the current. I then slipped back into the water myself. I never told anyone at the time, but she never even used her jambiya. She told me that she found it easier to drown a hyena than a man."

   "Those details would have been useful to know at the time."

   Belvin shrugged. "We learned what she was eventually."

   "She would still be with us if not for Hakam," said Leokas.

   Hakam overheard his name. "I tried to arrest her for her own protection," said Hakam.

   "What?" exclaimed Belvin.

   "At least in part," said Hakam.

   Leokas pointed. "The river bends, as Yashiera described. I will notify Ombert."

   The halfling captain called out orders to his sailors and the sails were adjusted to turn the ship to a new heading, north into the mountains. From this point, Yashiera had directed them to "keep the tallest mountain ahead of" them "slightly to the left" while aiming for a saddle point. With Oma at the helm, they would be able to reach the saddle in just over a half hour.

   Snow was still on the mountains ahead of them. Oma kept the sailing vessel at an elevation of about one mile. The saddle seemed to be directly ahead at that elevation, while the tallest mountain that they could see in this region was probably a couple thousand feet taller than that. Until their highest points, the hills and mountains were covered in green trees.

   "The mountains of your homeland are beautiful," Miri, Rinald's daughter, said to Hakam. Her husband was snuggled up beside her at the starboard railing. Hakam, in contrast, stood in the middle of the deck.

   He nodded. "Many of my people summer in these hills during the hotter months," he explained.

   "For my part," said Stedd, Miri's husband, "the cooler air at this elevation is welcome, even though the spring is yet young."

   They could soon make out a second peak, about 1100 feet shorter than the tallest one and north of it Leokas pointed it out to Ombert, and the halfling captain called for a slight course correction. Oma decelerated.

   The saddle point was covered in trees, which made it difficult to find a safe place to hover, so that the party could be lowered in the rowboat to the ground, but eventually, they spotted a flat rock and were lowered safely. They instructed Oma to take the spelljammer as high into the sky as she could, to be safe from any chance encounters with raging dragons. They would contact the ship by sending stone when they were ready to be picked up.

   "Now we have to find this plinth," said Leokas to the rest of the group, which now included Belvin, Leokas, Jayce, Hakam, Szordrin, Solisar, and Kytharrah.

   "Where do we start looking for this plinth," said Jayce.

   "There is no need to search for it," said Hakam. "Anachtyr will reveal its location to me."

   This was indeed the case. After muttering a short prayer, Hakam grew convinced of what direction they should head, and they forced their way through the thick trees and underbrush, until they came upon "an ancient plinth" as the druidess's message had described. The heavy stone base supported an old vase of stone.

   "What now?" asked Szrodrin. "What did your lover say to do next?"

   "She is not my lover," said Belvin. "She is the mother of my daughter, and she said to fill it with water and go hide."

   "Go hide?" said Szordrin.

   "Game?" asked Kytharrah.

   "Yes, a hiding game," said Solisar.

   The minotaur turned to dart off.

   "The game is not started yet, Lunk," said Szordrin.

   "I do not see any tracks around, beyond those of small fauna," Leokas reported. "If anyone frequents this place, it has not been often."

   "If we need to hide," said Szordrin, "I can create an extradimensional space for us."

   "We fill it and then remain out of sight," explained Belvin. "Someone will find us. There is no need for magic."

   "Fair enough," said Szordrin. "I suppose that there is no reason not to just follow the directions that we were given exactly."

   "It is unusual to hear such words from your mouth," said Hakam, "but I agree. I shall create some water with my magic."

   That done, they headed a short distance downhill through the trees. The cover was so thick that they did not need to go very far. They sat on the ground or fallen logs and waited.

   About an hour or two later, there was no doubt that someone was approaching. Kytharrah noticed the scent first. Then, twigs snapped as a bulky man stepped shortly into view. The man looked like an albino Calishite. He was bald, but had a goatee of a strange copper color. He was dressed in a hooded jellaba and wore thick woolen gloves. He was extremely broad-shouldered, and his bare forearms were rippling with muscles.

   Kytharrah thought that there was something funny about the man's eyes and stared at him intently.

   Hakam elbowed the minotaur. "Stop staring like a fool!"

   "I am Sarak," he said in a monotone voice. "You shall follow me."

   "Lead on," said Belvin.

   Sarak turned to go. They got up and followed.

   The guide led them up a hard to follow path between the two peaks, a very strenuous climb. At this new saddle, they could see down into a hidden rock-strewn bowl about six miles across. It was much colder up here, some thousand feet higher than the lower saddle, and they could see ice in the hidden valley below. Rising out of the valley center like a knife was a solitary mountain, what could only by Mount Abbalayat. Its peak was surround by clouds, which were being driven by powerful downdrafts.

   Sarak led them away from this view and their goal, which seemed to be going backwards. He was now leading them clockwise around the peak of the tallest mountain along a precarious ledge. They were shivering from the cold, which made it even more dangerous to follow this trail, but Sarak did not appear cold or in any way unstable in his steps.

   Eventually, a cave opened up in a massive crack in a cliff on the eastern side of the peak. The albino led them inside, where they felt instant warmth away from the winds.

   Here, there were runes carved into the tall stone walls of this passage into the mountain.

   "These are Auran letters," said Solisar, "but the words are not easy for me to decipher. This must be Old Alzhedo, most likely spells of protection. There is powerful magic in this passage."

   Sarak snorted gruffly. "The Tunnel of Uladvir," he said without any further explanation.

   The "tunnel" was clearly leading them under the summit and directly through the mountain. Up ahead, they could see sunlight at the other end.

   When the cave passage ended, they stood at the start of a long and narrow bridge of marble over the valley. Looking down, they perceived that they were now far above the clouds that had earlier shrouded the mountain in the center of the valley. The other side of the bridge joined thus with Mount Abbalyat, and on the other side of the bridge, they spotted a road leading up a gentle slope to that mountain's summit. The bridge either had not been here before or was invisible from their earlier view of Mount Abbalayat from the saddle.

   They no longer felt any wind. Kytharrah had already stepped ahead of Sarak unto the narrow marble path. The minotaur had an innate sense of passageways and could smell that the bridge was not just a bridge; it was a tunnel. He pounded the walls that most of them had not yet noticed. A thick, curved glass — or glass-like — tube surrounded the marble floor of the bridge on all sides.

   "Follow," said Sarak. "Ul'sahab, the City of Seers, awaits you."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Yashiera's Second Letter
Belvin, I admit that I am happy at the prospect of meeting you again. The journey to Ul’sahab, however, is difficult. First, you must travel to the westernmost of the Marching Mountains. If one follows the Calim River from Keltar north to the foothills, the river turns sharply to the east. After 10 or 15 miles, it curves noticeably to the north again. After another 10 or 15 miles, you will reach another elbow. This is where one must leave the river and journey north into the foothills. This next leg of the journey is about 20 miles. Keep the tallest mountain ahead of you slightly to the left and ascent over the hills and smaller mountains to the saddle. On that saddle, search for an ancient plinth upon which rests a vase. Fill the vase with water and then depart from the area. Do not remain in sight of the vase. Someone will locate you and lead you the rest of the way to Mount Abbalayat.
~Yash
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Sage Advice
Gullbeak called back from the outlook that the River Ith was approaching, and Captain Ombert began calling out orders to the sailors to bring the ship down to land in the river upstream from the city to the east.

   Oma safely lowered the spelljammer, finding it far less scary to land when in control of the vehicle herself from the spelljamming helm in the center of the ship. They picked a spot at a bend in the river, sheltered by trees, hopefully avoiding being seen by any of the farmers in the region. They did not want to scare anyone with a flying sailing vessel.

   Hakam, Solisar, and Szordrin were to accompany Mythlos to visit the palace, while Jayce intended to find the bardess Jimena, with whom he had previously recorded music magically for profit. Belvin stayed onboard in case Yashiera's reply came, and Leokas stayed with him. Kytharrah wanted to join the others, but he was forbidden, as it was not thought that minotaurs would be welcome in the human city. "I will stay with you, and we can practice some axemanship," Nargroth had said.

   "Have you heard from your grandfather or friend since we last saw them?" Jayce asked Mythlos, as they walked along the river west toward the city.

   "Faelar and Gargantos went to the Forest of Tethir," Mythlos explained.

   "I have always wanted to visit Suldanessellar," said Solisar.

   "They went to the very place. Faelar wrote that it reminded him of Moonspinner Web."

   "And you?" asked Jayce. "I hear that you were not present for their most recent adventures and their second encounter with Samber."

   "I found a mentor in the High Forest, who could teach me the ancient elven art of spellsinging," said Mythlos.

   "Do you still carry around that magical frog with you?"

   A loud croak from Mythlos' pack confirmed it.

   They reached Darromar from the southern side of the river, entering the city on the Ithal Road, which became Star Street once they passed through the gates.

   "Some of the architecture here reminds me of Calimport," said Solisar.

   "The former name of this city is Ithmong," said Hakam. "It was one of Calimshan's holdings."

   They came to the Wheel Market on their right, one of Daromar's two large marketplaces. "Asdefk's Inn is coming up on our left," said Jayce. "That's where I am meeting Jimena."

   "Is not that where we spent the night when we were last here?" asked Mythlos.

   "It is," said Jayce.

   "They had moderately good Calishite food," admitted Hakam, "for a Tethyrian establishment."

   "Very spicy," said Mythlos.

   After Jayce entered the inn, the other four crossed over the Ithal Bridge and entered the Royal Quarter, walking along the Riverside Road uphill toward Ithal Crag, the rocky hill upon which the royal palace of Faerntarn sat. Passing through the Garden of Rhinda, a beautiful flower garden, they circumnavigated the hill and presented themselves to the palace guards at the north gate, having assented the steep trail up the side of the crag.

   "We are the party of Sir Mythlos Moonspinner, Lord of Barony Nadjar," said Hakam and motioning toward Mythlos, "here on appointment to see the duchess Valmeyjar."

   One of the guards inspected Hakam's signet ring and official documents. Once cleared and confirmed as registered visitors, they passed under a barbican gate with a series of three heavy portcullises and were welcomed into the courtyard of the main keep, surrounded by its fortified, granite curtain wall. They were led by one of the young armored knights, a member of the Warriors of the Star, to one of the four halls located within the greater complex. Several other guards followed in the rear.

   They followed the lad up a set of stairs, down a hallway, and through a closed door. The young man announced the nobles within before the visitors had even stepped into the room.

   "Saers, I present to you Lady Vajra, Royal Warlady, Duchess of Ankaram and Regent Royal for Princess Cyriana; Lady Perendra, Countess of Elemetar and Court Vizera; and Lord Gamalon, Count of Spellshire and Court Sage. Ladies and Lord, I present to you Sir Mythlos Moonspinner, Lord of Barony Nadjar; his personal cleric Hakam Hamdulah Anachtyr; and two mages, Solisar Keryth and Szordrin Dundragon."

   "Northerners can never introduce someone properly," mumbled Hakam.

   They stepped within. The room was long with a high ceiling. Two large tapestries of seaside imagery hung on the long walls. A chandelier hung over a long wooden table. At the back of the room was a wooden pole with a small beam at the top upon which perched an owl.

   Around the table sat three humans, a man and two women. The man was older, with a salt and pepper beard. He had several old scars across his face and a green gem where his left eye had once been. He had dark skin and a bald head. He dressed in wizard's robes, and several Ioun stones were orbiting his head.

   One of the seated women was exceptionally tall. She rose to her feet when the adventurers entered and stood over six feet. She had dusky skin and short dark hair, except for a single long braid that hung behind her almost to the ground. While dressed in a formal gown, she also wore thick metal bands around her wrists and neck. She looked like she did not belong in such attire. Her muscular arms looked confined in the tight sleeves of her dress.

   The other woman, in contrast, looked like she was born to wear nobles' clothing, and her high-necked, long-sleeved yellow dress was clearly tailored to her form. She too had dark skin. Her hair was tightly cropped, and she had a large forehead and brown, almond-shaped eyes.

   Hakam recognized both women from Countess Kyrin Hawkwinter's wedding. The taller woman, Vajra, Duchess of Ankaram, was the lord of Mythlos' lord, Count Oxsal Keeneyes of Monteshi.

   "Yes, yes, we know who these brave adventurers are," said the Court Sage, also standing. (The second woman, Perendra, remained seated.) "They were in part responsible both for exposing the crimes of Duke Hhune and for ensuring the rescue of my grandniece Rhinda. Come in and welcome! Please, take seats at the table with us, wherever you find it comfortable."

   Szordrin sat himself closest to the Court Sage Gamalon. "I am an admirer of your writing," said Szordrin, as one of the servants in the room pushed his chair in for him.

   Gamalon chuckled. "I was not aware that I was known as an author. What, pray tell me, have you read of mine?"

   "I read of your experiences while living upon the Rock of Bral," Szordrin replied. "Perhaps we may speak more of Bral after the official business is completed."

   "I would be pleased to do so," said Gamalon.

   On the other side of the table, Vadja turned to Mythlos and asked, "Where is your bard, Jayce? I was to notify him that the queen herself listens to the magic keyboard enchanted with the J&J Duo's music."

   "Forgive me, your ladyship, but what is the J&J Duo?"

   "Jayce and Jimena, Mythlos," mumbled Hakam.

   "Yes, of course," said Mythlos. "He is, as a matter of fact, attending a meeting with Madam Jimena at this very hour."

   "He is collecting royalties for his work," said Hakam. "We could arrange a private performance at reduced cost for this present company."

   Vajra laughed, "There is little time on my busy schedule for entertainment."

   "In that case," said the cleric, "perhaps I should provide a full report on the my lord's keep."

   "You may give it."

   "As I informed you by magic, the blue dragon Yrevkethend targeted a dragon slayer of renown, one Rinald Overman, whom we had once in our employ. The monster tracked him to Sir Moonspinner's keep and leveled it and the nearby village of Stonethrow."

   "We believe that the dragon Yrevkethend is affected by the Dracorage curse," explained Solisar. "Indeed, we have assisted a brass dragon companion of ours in fleeing this very plane, because he too was feeling the effects of it."

   "I also have a close relationship with a brass dragon," said Gamalon. "A noble race. His name is Alaerurrgos, and I have been a sort of tutor and protector to him after Iryklathagra slew his family in the Year of the Gauntlet. He began acting very strangely on exactly the first of the year, which aroused my suspicions. Ultimately, we had to use magic to hold the poor creature in temporal stasis.

   "We have been in contact with many of our most knowledgeable wizards," continued the old sage. "The greatest minds in Faerûn are at a loss to explain why a dracorage appears to be happening now. The only clue we have is that dracoliches, undead dragons, seem unaffected by the curse. So busy have I been investigating this rage, that my good wife Mynda effectively rules my county of Spellshire in my absence."

   "For my part," said the Lady Vajra, "we are trying to keep track of the activities of the most powerful dragons of the region. The blue wyrm whom Gamalon just mentioned, Iryklathagra, is known to be raging throughout Calimshan. Earlier in the year, she razed the Twin Towers of the Eclipse on the border of Amn, a site sacred to Bane. The loss of a dark god's temple was of course no loss to us, but the attack was very close to our northernmost territories. I suspect her eyes are now on Calimport, as she has a deep and ancient hatred for the Shoon Empire that once held power there."

   "May it never be," said Hakam quietly.

   "The first destruction that we had confirmed in Tethyr was the loss of a settlement on the Dragon Reach at the end of the first month of the year. Thankfully for us in West Faerûn, the most concentrated dragon destruction has been far north of that in the Cold Lands north of the Moonsea and bordering the Great Glacier, such as Damara, Impiltur, or Narfell."

   "The Great Glacier?" inquired Solisar. "Do you think that this rage has any connection to the ice witch, Iyraclea? My people of Evermeet have been concerned about her recent activities."

   "Have they?" said Vajra. "Perendra, has the embassy of Evermeet informed us of this?"

   The other woman shook her head, but said nothing. Indeed, she seemed rather unhappy. Szordrin whispered in Ferry's ear, and the weasel scurried off his shoulder. A few moments later, Ferry appeared on Perendra's lap. A smile appeared on her face, and she began to pet his soft coat. The owl on the stand behind her, however, stared directly at Ferry and licked its beak.

   "We will look into what we may regarding Iyraclea," said Lady Vajra. "In any case, here, far from the Glacier, our army has been under great stress for the last several years. In the Year of the Tankard, two towns of Amn defected to join Tethyr. Gamalon and I have spent much of our time in the north working with the citizens of these towns. In that same year, we lost the town of Kzelter in the south to the city-state of Mintar, which had fallen under the sway of the Church of Bane. Thus, we had to send our troops to two fronts. On top of this, an army of goblinoids, ogres, and other foul races rose up and attacked Amn near our western borders with that nation, giving us no small amount of concern. And now, dragons are raging! Thus, we have little choice but to mobilize our militias." She turned to Mythlos. "Sir Moonspinner, will you be able to lead the people of your fiefdom of Nadjar in Monteshi if called to arms?"

   Mythlos rose and bowed, "Of course, my liege. It is both my duty and an honor to defend the people of Tethyr. I can also call upon aid from my grandfather Gargantos in the Forest of Tethir. He may be able to persuade a number of elves to join us."

   "That would be a feat," said Vajra, more to herself than to anyone else. "Foxfire and Mirthal have had little success."

   "Is there any means to draw the raging dragons away from the cities, using bait of some kind?" suggested Hakam.

   "Perhaps, but none of us know clearly enough the workings of a dragon's mind when it is not raging," said Gamalon, "much less when it is sick with madness."

   "Whatever can be done to help rebuild, I repeat that I am at your service," said Mythlos.

   "I thank you, Sir Moonspinner," said Vajra. "There will be a meeting here at Faerntarn in half a tenday with all of the warlords of Tethyr to discuss a strategy for defense against the dragons. Will you be in attendance?"

   "I shall."

   "If so, then I believe our business here is done, unless you have further questions of us."

   "Do you have further news about the paladin Rhinda?" asked Hakam. "And did I correctly hear you that she is a relation of yours, Lord Gamalon?"

   "Yes," said Gamalon. "Rhinda is the granddaughter of my brother Kessel. She is recovering, though slowly, from the trauma she experienced at the hands of the gnolls. I believe that she will be fully healed in time."

   "What about her paladin companion?"

   "I know not of him or her," said Gamalon. "What name?"

   "Interestingly enough, the young man shared one of each of your names." said Hakam. "He was Gamalon Valmeyjar."

   "Mine is a common enough name," said the sage.

   "My surname, however, is not," said Vajra. "I was orphaned as a young girl during our civil war. To the best of my knowledge, I am the last of the Valmeyjars."

   "If we learn anything of him, we shall send word to you by spellmagic," said Gamalon.

   Since there were no further matters of state to discuss, Vajra excused herself from the meeting and left to attend to other matters. The Lady Perendra followed her out, with the owl now perched on her extended arm. Ferry returned to Szordrin's lap.

   Gamalon looked excited to talk about Bral. "So, you have questions about the Rock? Do you have means to travel there?"

   "We have a acquired a spelljammer, yes," said Szordrin.

   "Our divine quest is leading us there," added Hakam, "but we are not at liberty to share more details than that."

   "My first question is about the Interlink Consortium," said Szordrin. "Do you know it?"

   "The Interlink Consordium? Of course I know of it. A reputable source of portal paraphernial for the planewalker. It is located on Wasp Street, next to Frada's Provisioning, on the port side of the Great Market in Middle City. (I should note that north and south are meaningless on the Rock! Everything is given in terms of the direction of the Rock's orbit around Toril, as if it were a massive sailing vessel. The docks and Low City are toward the leading edge. 'Starboard' is to the right if one is facing toward the docks.)

   "You should also know that they have moved their headquarters off-world. They still maintain their 'flagship' store on the Rock of Bral, but the business is run elsewhere. Prince Andru's taxes were too high for them. As a noble of Bral, the taxes are not as heavy a burden for me to maintain my own shop there. Plus, I ran a curio shop, not a factory!

   "Now, if you are, by chance, curious for curios, my shop is on the starboard side of the Great Market. I think that you may find items of interest to you there."

   "Do you know what a Galormansko's sequencer apparatus is? We know that the Consortium sells them."

   "I do not know what a sequencer apparatus is, no, but I do know the name Galormansko. He was a mage from the world of Oerth, the same world as the famous mage Mordenkainen. Both mages did a fair amount of planar travel. I once met Galormansko on the Rock, during a cross-crystal-sphere wizard's fair; he was a very old fellow, hard of hearing and almost deaf. He spent most of the time falling asleep during other wizards' speeches. I imagine that whatever a 'sequencer' is, he sold the rights to its manufactor to the Interlink Consortium."

   "What about a wizard by the name of Onran?" asked Szordrin, mentioning the name of his former master, who had been murdered, presumably by a drow assassin. "Have you heard of that name?"

   "I have not; I am sorry."

   "May we use you as a reference?" asked Szordrin. "That is, may we claim that we know you if we run into any... trouble... on Bral."

   "Certainly," said Gamalon. "In fact, you may have my card." He handed Szordrin a small wodden card with a runic image burned into it. "That will prove to other wizards who know me that you have met me in person."

   They thanked Gamalon for his extra time. As they were getting up to leave, Mythlos, who had only this day learned of the plan to visit the Rock of Bral, asked, "How far away from Toril is the Rock of Bral?"

   "About 183,000 miles from Toril, by our scholars' best calculations," said Gamalon.

   "183,000 miles! How large is the whole crystal sphere?"

   "By most estimates," said the sage, "Realmspace is some three billion and two hundred million miles in radius. Wildspace is larger than anything you have ever imagined. If you are journeying to wildspace, prepare to have your understanding of the world changed forever."
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Calishite Mores
"Give me that," said Belvin angrily, snatching back the parchment note. He seemed to be able to read the words without any magic.

   "What does it say?" asked Szordrin.

   "It is a private message and none of your business," said Belvin.

   "Belvin fathered a child with the fortune teller," said Hakam, with great displeasure on his voice.

   "Fortune teller?" said Solisar. "What fortune teller?"

   "The crazy druid in the jungle?" asked Jayce. "How? When?"

   "You found her attractive?" asked Leokas in Elvish.

   Belvin muttered something back to his friend in Elvish.

   One of the sailors slapped Belvin on the back. "Doin' it in the jungle like the wild animals!"

   "Shut your trap, Brad," said Loreene.

   "We have all been invited to Mount Abbalayat," said Belvin. "We are making a visit before we head to Bral."

   "No, we are not making any more delays," said Szordrin.

   "I have been with this group longer than you," said Belvin. "I say that we are going to Mount Abbalayat."

   "Mount Abbalayat?" said Solisar. "As in The Phoenix Prophecies?"

   Everyone stared at the gold elf with confusion, except for Hakam and Jayce.

   "Are we supposed to know what those are?" asked Szordrin.

   "Wait, some of you have not heard of The Phoenix Prophecies?" said Jayce.

   "Do phoenixes really come back to life if you burn them?" asked Gren.

   "They are a collection of famous prophecies from my homeland," said Hakam.

   "Indeed," said Solisar, "they are known and studied all over Toril. My grandmother has studied them thoroughly. In part, it was a prophecy within them about the ice queen that sent me to the far north for so many years."

   "What does any of that have to do with the fortune teller?" asked Loreene.

   "Yashiera was one of the Abbalayar," said Hakam. "I do not know how I did not see it when we met her. Of course."

   "The Abbalayar are a legendary race of seers from Calimshan," explained Jayce. "In any case, I would not mind a trip to receive another prophecy for myself; my last one expired already."

   Except for Szordrin, they all agreed that a trip to Mount Abbalayat would be worth the slight delay from visiting Bral.

   "Does anyone have a pen and ink?" Belvin asked. Solisar provided one, and Belvin wrote a short response on the back of the original notice. "I will give my answer, and Yashiera will send us directions to the mountain."

   "How do you mean to deliver the message?" asked Loreene.

   "It must be a feather token," said Hakam.

   "The feather is magical," said Szordrin. "I confirmed it."

   "Your letter had better include that you shall provide for the child," said Hakam.

   "Belvin says that they made a verbal contract that released him from such a responsibility," explained Leokas.

   "There are moral rules that carry greater weight than verbal agreements," said Hakam.

   "Since when have you cared about moral laws?" asked Szordrin.

   "Calishite traditions, then. Call them what you will. Yashiera is a Calishite, and their child is a Calishite. There are mores that need to be followed."

   Belvin held the feather up in the air. "Yashiera," he said.

   There was another "explosion" of feathers, and a tiny songbird appeared, perched on Belvin's finger. He rolled up the note and the bird happily grabbed it in its claws and took to the air, flying away to the southwest.

   "It looks like your child was born before your camel's," said Jayce, referring to the fact Belvin's camel, Kamil, had impregnated Hakam's pack camel almost a year ago.

   "How long are camel pregnancies?"

   "Very long," said Hakam.

   Ferry squeaked.

   "Ferry says that weasel pregnancies are only five weeks," said Szordrin.

   "We are going to be in Darromar," said Jayce. "We could visit Malick's old tower and set up a date for him with Neesha."

   "Ferry does not like blind dates;" said Szordrin.
Session: 102nd Game Session - Wednesday, Jun 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Yashiera's First Letter
Belvin, I promised that no commitment or responsibility is expected from you. That promise remains, but nevertheless I felt that you should at least know: You have a daughter. She was born only this morning, a full tenday early, but she is healthy, as am I, though I am exhausted. She has your ears and your color but my fingers and eyes. She will have the gift. In Calishite culture, it is the father who names the child. If you wish—but feel no pressure—as the father of an Abbalaya, you cannot be forbidden to visit our city of U’lsahab on Mount Abbalayat. Few are given such an opportunity. Your companions may come with you, if you desire it, and I can look into your futures again, if that pleases you. The option is yours. If you choose to come see her, simply speak my name, and your answer will be delivered to me. I can then send you detailed directions about how to find the way safely up the mountain.
With fondness,
~Yash

Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — The Dwarven Temple
The seven adventurers — Belvin, Leokas, Jayce, Hakam, Szordrin, Kytharrah, and Solisar — stood with Rinald and his children at the stone path, looking down at the motionless automaton that still guarded the ancient bridge.

   "That's the door from which the drow came and where they went when they fled," said a man who had not yet been introduced, but he held Miri's hand as he pointed down with the other to the doorway directly below them. "If you walk over to the other side, you can see the metal doors."

   "Hakam or Belvin could simply unmake the bridge with their magic from underneath the golem," suggested one of the adventurers.

   "Kytharrah could probably bull rush it off the bridge," suggested another.

   "Why do we need to destroy the construct?" said Jayce. "It is a valuable tool to destroy. If not for purely historical reasons, should we not leave it undamaged in case we stumble upon its control amulet?"

   "How do we pass it then?"

   "Sir Mythlos simply teleported below," said Miri.

   "None of us have access to such magics," said Szordrin. "Solisar and I could fly past the construct, and I could climb like the drow, but what would the rest of you do?"

   "It is not a great drop from here to the bridge," said Leokas. "Will the guardian turn to attack us if we land behind it?"

   "The drow probably used magical darkness when they climbed past the guardian," explained Rinald's youngest son.

   "The doors are also heavy and take some time to pull open," said Torm, Rinald's eldest son.

   "Why risk that or falling from the bridge," said Belvin, "when my thoqqua can dig us another tunnel?"

   This plan pleased everyone, and the lava worm made quick work of boring a tunnel straight down. When it vanished to return to its home plane, a circular hole in the floor was left behind with a fifteen-foot to the ground a level below.

   They told Kytharrah to drop himself down first, and Szordrin gave himself the ability to fly and followed after. Hakam floated down safely with his ring of feather falling. The rest had to set up a rope and climb down somewhat more slowly. Solisar cast the ability to see invisibility upon himself and brought up the rear.

   Light from Hakam's glowing shield and Kytharrah's everburning torch filled the large chamber, which was clearly of dwarven architecture with its sharp angles and smoothed stone. It was a single large room, octagonal in shape but stretched, 40 yards long and a bit more than half that distance wide. At the very center was a massive octagonal column supporting the ceiling. Surrounding the whole perimeter of the room were ten raised daises. The two nearest daises were empty, but the others had massive statues erected on their surfaces.

   "Mythlos!" Hakam shouted. His voice echoed through the chamber.

   "Hey, this one is a bard," said Jayce, examining one of the statues. "He has a lute."

   Szordrin was across from Jayce, examining the nearest statue on the right side. It was of a barefoot, feminine figure, standing on one foot as if in the middle of a dance. The voluptuous figure wore a long dress and had a long, flowing beard. While clearly a dwarven female, the statue was the size of a giant, and it was the shortest of the statues in the room. The tiefling wizard glanced down at a symbol carved into the face of the stone, which looked like a stylized flame about a sewing needle.

   "Do you like the bearded look on women?" Jayce asked him.

   "Szordrin, we could use your talents for spotting any traps," said Leokas, who was himself seeking out Mythlos' footprints. "He headed to the far side of the room," Leokas noted, after a few moments of investigation.

   They hustled to the other side, ignoring the dwarven statues for now.

   "He could have gone through any of these doors," said Jayce, noting the several metal doors that presumable led to side rooms.

   Kytharrah sniffed. He could smell an earthy smell from above. He glanced up and pointed. "Hole," he said.

   They all looked where he was pointing. The stone wall was broken apart just above the height of an average human, and the hole was large enough for the same to squeeze through.

   "Mythlos!" Hakam shouted again.

   Szordrin spoke to his familiar, who always rested around his shoulders. The weasel scurried down his clothing and to the ground, then up the wall and into the hole.

   "Ferry will report back if he finds Mythlos," said Szordrin.

   Meanwhile, Belvin knelt down next to the dais next to the broken wall on the right. This statue had crumbled and collapsed.

   Szordrin pointed at the stone at the base of where the statue had once stood. "This one was destroyed on purpose. See, the runes and symbol have been smudged out."

   Leokas had wandered into the center of the room. "Every inch of this column is covered in Dethek runes," said the ranger.

   "For the first time, I wish that I could read Dwarven," said Solisar. "This column alone is a historical treasure!"

   "This must be a dwarven temple," said Hakam. "These are their gods. Those must be Moradin and Berronar, the heads of the pantheon."

   He indicated the two largest statues, which were a the farthest wall from the entrance. Moradin was portrayed as a bulky dwarf with a huge warhammer and a bear hanging well past his belt. One of his hands was extended over an ornate metal door to join with his wife Berronar. The rotund dwarven woman held a heavy mace in her free hand and was portrayed with a short beard braided into four strands. Each wore a circlet on the head.

   "Thard Harr is missing," said Belvin.

   "I do not think that this one was Thard Harr," said Szordrin. "See, here is the remains of the chin. No beard. Obviously, dwarven women can grow beards, but the males always do, right?"

   "Szordrin knows his bearded women," said Jayce.

   "Maybe Thard Harr's was moved from one of the two empty daises near the exit," suggested Leokas.

   "Big axe!" said Kytharrah, who was admiring the statue clockwise from the ruined one. Then the minotaur noticed a new smell, coming from the door located between the axe-bearing statue and the dancing statue. He followed the smell to the door.

   "Ferry is happy," Szordrin announced suddenly. "He must have spotted Mythlos."

   They gathered by the crack in the wall. Suddenly, little Ferry appeared and chirped excitedly, but Szordrin gasped, because his weasel had blood all over his silky fur.

   "Ferry, what happened?"

   "It is not his own blood," said Belvin. "He has no wounds."

   "It is drow blood," said a voice from above them.

   "Mythlos, alae!" said Leokas. "It is good to see you."

   The moon elf leapt down. He appeared unscathed.

   "We thought that we were going to have to rescue you," said Jayce.

   Mythlos looked confused, as if the thought was absurd. "There will not be any further raids from the spider-worshipers," he said.

   "Does that matter?" asked Hakam. "We came here to evacuate you, not to stay for a tenday."

   "Even if the keep has fallen, this is still my land," said Mythlos, "and I have a responsibility to protect it from desecration."

   "Then let us close off the wall permanently," said Belvin. He followed his statement with a spell and touched the wall. The stone closed together tightly and sealed off the hole.

   "We should go," said Leokas, "or have we forgotten about the dragon?"

   "I feel there is something to learn from this temple," said Hakam. "Why was the one statue destroyed, why is that one dais across the way elevated higher than the others, and why are two of the daises empty?"

   "I agree with the cleric for once," said Belvin, who had joined Kytharrah by the strange-smelling door. "There is a potent aromatic mold all around this doorway, a kind that I have not seen before."

   "There are a score of weak, hungry, and vulnerable humans above us," said Solisar. "As Mythlos said, this land is still his. This temple is not going to vanish when we leave, the drow have been sealed out, and after this dragon rage is over, we can always return to explore it again."

   "You are right," said Hakam. "Let us go. I shall remind myself to read up more on the dwarven religion at a later date."

~~~~

An hour later, they were all sailing through the sky away from the danger of a dragon attack and north toward Darromar, the capital city of Tethyr. Nargroth, the half-orc cook, was passing out bowls of warm soup to all of the refugees.

   Now in relative safety, Rinald introduced his family. His wife, Maegyn, looked startlingly young to be his wife. Now in the daylight, they noticed that her face was covered with the scars from severe burns, but no one dared ask about it. Therion was the name of his youngest son, who was sixteen years old, and Torm was two years older. Miri was the oldest, and her husband was named Stedd.

   Hakam informed them of their plan. "After we report to Mythlos' liege, we are heading to the Rock of Bral, in the Tears of Selûne. Unless I am gravely mistaken, dragons cannot fly into wildspace. You and your family will be safe there."

   "Most of them cannot, it is true," said Rinald. "A blue dragon for certain cannot. I have always wanted to see Toril from the heavens. With my age, it may be my last chance to! Your plan seems a good one to me."

   The conversation was interrupted by loud chirping sounds from multiple animals. Szordrin looked down to see his weasel with a songbird in his mouth. The bird was still alive. Clutched in its tiny claws was a tiny rolled bit of parchment, wrapped around a long feather.

   "Szordrin, make your weasel release that innocent creature!" commanded Belvin. The two crouched down. Szordrin held onto Ferry, and Belvin gently removed the little bird from the mustelid's mouth.

   The elven druid carefully removed the parchment from the bird's claws. "There you are; be free," he said in Elven.

   The bird exploded.

   "What in the Nine Hells?" exclaimed Gren.

   Tiny feathers floated about, which then themselves burst into sparkling dust and vanished.

   Belvin pulled out the feather that had been wrapped. "This is not the feather of any bird of which I know."

   Solisar said, "It must have been a magical message."

   "For whom? What does it say?" asked Jayce.

   Hakam snatched the parchment from Belvin's hand and opened it. Szordrin and Solisar looked over his shoulder. Neither of them had even seen the script before.

   Hakam spoke a brief prayer and opened his eyes. The letters reformed themselves on the page.

   "Belvin, shame on you!" he said.
Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Chapter 1 — Moonspinner Keep
~ 1st of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, Moondark
Barony Nadjar, County Monteshi, Tethyr


"Keep your enchanted eyes out for the dragon," Leokas said in the Elven tongue. "I shall watch the ground."

   "The skies are clear, my friend," answered Belvin, "I assure you."

   It was the darkest hour of the night, yet it was the turn of the month, so the moon was full, and so Selûne's glow illuminated much of the landscape of southern Tethyr below them. The two elves stood on the main deck of the spelljammer Frihet as Jayce's magic kept the ship aloft. The elves had joined the rest of their companions only a few days prior, having been picked up from the shore of the River Arran, west of the great Chondalwood, Belvin's home, where they and the minotaur Kytharrah had been dropped off months before that.

   Leokas' concern was the blue dragon Yrevkethend, the one who had sacked the keep under which their friends Mythlos and Rinald and many others were now trapped. The forward ballistae and the rear catapult were loaded and manned in case they had to defend themselves from an attack from the air.

   It was warm for an early Spring night — the equinox was only a tenday ago — so the end of the first watch was pleasant for the two elves. Kytharrah was also nearby patting Leokas' new white wolf, Sif. The wolf was fun to play with, and Kytharrah had spent a good deal of time playing fetch and racing with the dog, though he was always expecting it to turn into a woman like Leokas' last wolf friend had done. One of the sailors — a red-haired man who looked similar to their new friend with the silly-looking glasses and smoke-making thing in his mouth except without the glasses or the smoke-making thing — was telling Kytharrah about his travels to different lands, but Kytharrah was not paying very much attention. He preferred physical activities over excessive talking.

   "I've heard that there are centaur tribes in the Chondalwood," said the sailor. "Did you meet any?"

   "Centaur?" the name sounded familiar to the minotaur. Was a centaur a kind of minotaur? The words sounded alike at the ends.

   "You know, like horses but with human upper bodies instead of horse heads."

   Now Kytharrah understood the question. Indeed, he had had great fun with many centaurs at a big party in the woods on their first night there. There had also been goat-men, like the one Belvin sometimes made appear for brief moments. They had horns like he did, and they played happy music and liked to dance. And there were big, bald elves, as big as their giant friend who had traveled with them over the desert when Hakam's magic had been broken. There was lots of food and lots of drink that made him feel silly, and he learned new games of rock-throwing and knocking over things while dancing — although Leokas told him that that one was not actually a game — and he wrestled and raced. The big, bald elves were tough to beat at wrestling, and the horse-men were very fast, even without magical shoes like his, but he beat some sometimes.

   Kytharrah laughed at a little goat-man who had charged at him, and Kytharrah had tossed him through the air after locking horns. Belvin had to fix him with magic, but the goat-man thought it was funny. The sailor looked at him expectantly, and Kytharrah realized that he had not answered the man's question. "Oh, yes; they eat a lot of food. I also got very, very hot and fell asleep, and my friends had to drag me out of the cave."

   "Centaurs live in caves?" The sailor was confused at the minotaur's seemingly random change of topic.

   "The cave was smelly," said Kytharrah.

   "We took him to a vision cave," Belvin explained to the confused sailor. "It is a tradition of my people to seek visions within the intense heat of steam from natural hot springs. This young minotaur had a vision of his own."

   "A little guiding light," said Kytharrah. "It talked too much."

   "Belvin, the sky!" called Leokas.

   Belvin scanned the horizon in all directions. "Still clear," said the wild elf. He then spotted something below them. "I have, however, found some clear evidence of a dragon." He pointed.

   They were directly overhead the northernmost portion of the Forest of Mir, flying roughly west. Belvin was pointing to just past where the trees of the forest ended. A village was approaching, but the village had been leveled flat, the timber of every last building scattered in a mess of wood.

   "The village of Stonethrow," said Leokas somberly, "or what is left of it."

   "It was not scorched," said Belvin. "This was the work of a blue dragon, not a red."

   "I shall let the pilot know that we are close." The wood elf moved to the aft castle of the galleon, and Sif followed at his heels. The night's pilot, a dark-skinned Turmish man with dreadlocks, stood at the wheel. "Rimardo, we have spotted our destination." The elf pointed out the village to Rimardo, who nodded, adjusted the wheel, and called out orders to the sailors who were manning the sails. A message was passed down to Jayce, at the spelljamming helm, to slow their speed and reduce their altitude. The vessel adjusted course and began descending gradually.

   Leokas returned to Belvin. The wild elf pointed to another spot below. "And there is our moon elf's keep."

   Leokas, even with his elven eyes, could not yet see the ruins, but Belvin wore magical lenses, which allowed him to perceive a pile of rubble that was once a keep.

   "Not a tower remains standing," said Belvin.

   "Yes, now I see it," said Leokas. "The keep has indeed fallen."

   The other members of the adventuring party were woken and congregated on the main deck.

   "Mythlos claims that the dragon is now lairing in the cave tunnel south of the keep, the original entrance to the dwarven site, from which we exited last year." Hakam explained these details to his companions. "If it emerges, we will have only a mile distance between it and us."

   "I shall continue to watch the skies," said Belvin.

   "Do we have any idea where the dragon is now?" asked Oma.

   "It has resisted all of my scrying attempts," said Hakam, "and I cannot scry on a location, only a creature, and I hesitate attempting again, lest it figure out who is trying to scry on it."

   "I could send a magical sensor to examine the cave," said Solisar, "but it would be little use without a source of light."

   "I suggest that we wait this out a few more days," said Hakam. "Each day we can carefully approach from the north and see if we can find any evidence of the dragon's presence. Mythlos may have to be our eyes from the ground, however."

   "We are going to need a place to land," said Solisar. "Jayce cannot keep the spelljammer aloft forever."

   "The River Ith is twenty miles to the north of us," said Leokas, "or we could head back to the Lake of Steam; it is only a few hours now that we can fly so much faster."

   "The River Ith is swift, if I recall," said Belvin, "and would attract unwanted attention."

   "Was not there a sizeable pond near Stonethrow?" asked Hakam. "We could stay there."

   "I fear that that is too close to the dragon," said Leokas.

   "Ah, but it already sacked the village; it would have no reason to go that way again. It may be especially safe for us there."

   So, for the next few days, the spelljammer spent most of its time floating in a pond south of the former village of Stonethrow. Hakam used his magic to send messages to Mythlos, who scouted down the exit tunnel to where the dragon had barricaded it with boulders. He could not confirm whether or not the dragon was on the other side. During the day, however, Solisar was able to scan the cave, during one of the hours where the sun was at the right angle to provide some light. The cavern entrance was indeed empty, but there were clear signs of the dragon's former habitation — the carcasses of consumed cows, claw marks on the walls, strangely shaped glass, and scattered golden trinkets. At the far wall, the stone bricks of the entrance to the dwarven tunnel had been torn away, as the dragon had clearly been trying to widen the tunnel, ripping the stone supports away and digging at the rock and dirt of the natural walls and ceiling. This destruction continued for some distance until it appeared that the dragon had given up and resorted to barricading the tunnel instead.

   In the ruins of the keep itself, it was found that the former elevator shaft to the dungeons below was likewise completely blocked with large stones. (They considered using magic to shape or move the stones, but they did not have the means to reconstruct the elevator itself.)

   They repeated these scouting visits for the next two days, but there was no sign of the dragon. On fourth-day, they decided to risk the rescue. They had had the several days to work out the details of their elaborate plan.

   Oma helmed the spelljammer and took it to a position about half a mile south of the keep and north of the cave entrance. They found a position between some hills and with tree cover, so that they would hopefully not be immediately noticed from the air. The sailors removed the white sails to help reduce their visibility. The young Calishite wizardess brought the craft as low as she could, and the party of adventurers was lowered to the ground in the rowboat.

   It had been arranged with Mythlos, that he should come half way down the tunnel. Hakam was able to determine Mythlos' exact position below them by using his divinatory magic to target the silver elf's moonblade. Belvin then summoned a thoqqua, a tunneling worm-like creature from the Plane of Fire, to dig and melt a tunnel directly down toward Mythlos' location in the tunnel underground. While they waited, Solisar cast several defensive magics on the group, including the ability to detect if the dragon attempted to scry on them.

   Once the creature of fire and earth reached the tunnel, they heard Mythlos' voice call a greeting up to them. This filled the group with hope, but nervousness still filled their hearts, as they feared the dragon might return at any moment. Szordrin had a rope in hand, in case he needed to create a magical escape route into an extradimensional space.

   Belvin commanded the thoqqua to now return to the surface, this time melting a tunnel at a climbable angle. It took nearly all of Belvin's magic to summon the extraplanar beast enough times for it to complete the escape tunnel with dimensions wide enough for humans and a minotaur to utilize. Then, they had to wait for the tunnel to cool.

   When it had cooled, Leokas and Szordrin led the way, descending quickly down the steep earthen and stone slope. Leokas held Kytharrah's everburning torch, and looked around. They stood in the middle of the old dwarven road. The tunnel floor was smooth and straight, with a gentle decline to the north. It was fifteen-feet wide and ten-feet high. Stone brick archways supported the ceiling every 20 feet.

   Mythlos, however, was not there to greet them.

   "Where did he go?" asked Szordrin.

   "These are his footprints," said Leokas, crouching low. "He went back toward the dwarven settlement. There is another set of humanoid prints as well."

   Hakam now joined them, shield magically aglow and covered in dirt.

   "Where is Mythlos?"

   "That was my question," said Szordrin.

   "I am out of sendings," said Hakam.

   "Something is not right," said Leokas. "Why would he have left this spot otherwise. Let us hurry."

   They moved as quickly as they could in the darkness down the dwarven tunnel. After fifteen or twenty minutes of hustling, they could see the flickering of torch light up ahead, where the tunnel pinched to a narrower opening. Leokas cringed, knowing that at that very spot last year, an ancient dwarven trap had crushed him and sent him prematurely to the Fugue.

   "There must be an override mechanism here somewhere," said Szordrin.

   "Mick, someone who traveled with us for a brief time," said Jayce, "found a hole in the wall on the other side with a release mechanism."

   "I shall fly over there and check," said Szordrin. He did so, after casting the appropriate spell. With the tip from Jayce, it did not take him long to find the release switch hidden in the wall. "You will have to give me a moment, but I am sure that I can disable it. I learned how traps like this work while spending some time in the Muzad...." He took a kit of tools from his pack.

   "Muzad?" asked Solisar.

   "Calimport's undercity," explained Hakam.

   "There," said Szordrin. "It will no longer activate. It is safe to come over."

   "I am still going first," said Leokas. As he had learned personally, the trap had been designed to drop after a delay, such that the first person crossing it was able to pass with no issue.

   Footsteps approached them, and a skinny youth appeared with a torch. "Thank Torm! You have come at last. And it could not have been at a more needed time. Our food is gone. Rinald is poisoned. Sir Mythlos has chased after the drow. Come on!"

   "The drow?" asked Szordrin, clutching his dagger.

   Kytharrah sniffed for danger.

   The young man had already turned to go, but Hakam stopped him. "How do we know that this is not some elaborate trap? Tell me, how did Mythlos, your master, win this keep?"

   "Sir Brygolf — may his soul rest on the shores of the Silver Sea — he told me that Sir Mythlos won the keep from Sir Gorgon."

   "You had best not be leading us into a trap," Hakam replied.

   "He is telling the truth," said Jayce. "We are wasting time. Take us to Rinald, son."

   They entered the large cavern. The ceiling was only fifteen feet above them, but the chamber was about 50 feet in radius. The majority of it was filled with a massive pit. The young man led them to the beginning of the winding ramp that spiraled down into the ancient mining shaft.

   "This is where I found my buckler," said Belvin, glancing around the cavern.

   "A giant?" asked Kytharrah. He had spotted a large figure in the center of the deep pit, standing on a narrow stone bridge. It was a roughly humanoid construct of wood and stone.

   "Is that a shield guardian?" asked Solisar.

   Jayce answered in the affirmative.

   "Do not play with it!" said Szordrin.

   "Do not even talk to it," said Hakam.

   The stone path was narrow — so narrow that Kytharrah had to be especially careful traversing it. It had been carved like a screw to spiral counterclockwise down into the shaft. There were several openings in the wall, and they followed the youth into the first one, which they reached after ten yards or so.

   They stepped (or crouched) into a low room about 30 feet square. They were immediately greeted with excitement.

   "They are here!"

   "We are saved!"

   "Do you have a priest with you?"

   "I am a cleric," said Hakam, answering the teenager who had asked this.

   "Please come right away, father has been poisoned."

   "I did not pray for such powers that can help," said Hakam.

   "I can neutralize the poison," said Belvin. "Where is he?"

   They were led through one of the three other doors in the room to another of the same shape and size. On a bedroll on the floor lay Rinald. Hakam approached cautiously, still having his doubts about the situation.

   "What poisoned him?" he asked.

   "Drow crossbows. They climbed up the walls like spiders." The speaker was a young woman of about Szordrin and Jayce's age. She knelt beside Rinald. Belvin joined her at his side and examined the wound.

   "Where are the drow now?" asked Szordrin.

   Kytharrah sniffed the air, but he did not know what a drow smelled like.

   "Father cast a spell to defend us," said the boy who had brought them to the room. "They fled like cowards, but he had already been struck with the bolt."

   "They had shown themselves once before, but between Sir Mythlos and father, they were scared away. There were more of them this time." This speaker was another boy, slightly older. Both were older teenagers, perhaps past the age of majority. There was also a second woman in the room, but she stood off a ways in the shadows, weeping quietly.

   "Torm,... my brother, sent me to get Sir Mythlos right away," said the younger boy. "I ran up the tunnel to get him. That is why he was not there to greet you."

   "He used his magic sword to teleport behind the guardian and pursue the drow deeper into the dwarven ruins," said Torm.

   "You tended his wound well, woman," said Belvin.

   "Miri," she replied. "Thank you. I thought it best to pull the bolt all the way through the other side, since it is barbed."

   "Yes, that was wise." Belvin than began a feral chant, causing Miri to jump back in surprise. Power flowed through Belvin's fingertips and into the wound, and it closed before their eyes. A second chant caused Rinald's eys to open.

   He then sat up with a start. "Drow!"

   The woman in the corner of the room rushed over to hug Rinald tightly.

   When she was convinced that he was fully healed, she released him.

   "My friends, you came at last," he said, rising to his feet. He did not look as useful as he had the last time that they had seen him. Now, he looked far closer to his actual seven decades in age. He still sported the large white moustache and the long hair tied back in a ponytail.

   "I apologize that we could not come sooner," said Hakam. "All of us were scattered over various regions of Faerûn, and we also had to ensure that the dragon was absent."

   "We should discuss the dragon's behavior later, but were is Mythlos?"

   "He pursued the drow who shot you," said Leokas.

   "Always reckless," said Rinald.
Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 1 , Recap , Tethyr
Prelude
"Dead slow!" shouted the halfling. "Prepare for landing."

   Captain Ombert Stronghull's orders were relayed from aftcastle to main deck to the helm room in the forecastle.

   Toward the aft of the main deck, young Oma yr Raisa el Catahras crouched low in her violet gown with her arms around her knees. "Oh, I do not like the idea of landing," she said.

   The seven-foot-tall, 300-pound frame of the half-orc Nargroth Kilmander, in stark contrast, was half-hanging over the port railing, enjoying the rush of a controlled fall out of the sky. "I do not like the idea of crashing;" he called back. "Landing is great!"

   "You are not helping!"

   "Lay down!" called the Captain. Oma sprawled herself flat on the deck, not understanding the naval command.

   "Lay down!" echoed Martin, a human sailor standing near the forecastle with a daisy tattoo on his bicep.

   The 40-ton bulk of the Frihet was now some twenty feet over the deep waters of the Shining Sea — now fifteen feet, now ten feet.

   "All hands, brace for landing!" shouted Ombert.

   ...now five feet.... The flying galleon struck the surface with a slap, as walls of ocean spray shot forth on both sides to collapse again in a sizzle. Beneath their feet, they felt the wood of the deck surge.

   Tied up within a small pen in the center of the deck toward the stern, a dromedary camel and a white warhorse nuzzed and neighed. Nargroth stroked the back of each of their necks. "Do not be afraid, Kamila and Cloud," he said soothingly.

   "Helm down!" commanded the Captain, and his order was echoed once again. Suddenly, a cool breeze reached them, carrying with it the smell of salt water, as the atmospheric envelope surrounding them was dispelled.

   "Jayce's landing was more vigorous than yours have been," noted Hakam yn Hamdulah el Anachtyr, as he clutched to the aftcastle rail to the right of where the captain stood on a crate behind the wheel of the mundane helm.

   "He did a fair job," said Solisar Keryth, who was standing next to the Calishite cleric. "Remember that the spelljammer travels much faster now," added the gold elf.

   Ombert licked his finger and held it to the wind. "Of course! We are coming in against the wind...," he said. Then he called out, "Stand by to go about!"

   Nargroth made the two large animals lie down, and then he and Martin rushed over to the main sail. Two other pairs of sailors rushed to the other sails. There were Gren and Niff to the bow and Loreene and Brad to the stern.

   Jayce, looking as out-of-place as usual in his dark eye lenses, stepped out onto the main deck from one of the doors to the forecastle. "How did I do? Amazing piloting, eh?" He removed some flint from his pouch and prepared to light his pipe.

   "Rougher than I would have preferred," answered Hakam.

   "You almost made me puke, orcwit," said Oma.

   "Ready about?" shouted the captain.

   "Aye, aye!" called back the six sailors in near unison.

   Ombert spun the wheel counterclockwise, exhibiting more strength than one would expect from such a small humanoid. "Helm's a'lee."

   "Lee ho!" called the six sailors in unison, as they yanked simultaneously on taught ropes.

   Jayce ducked at just the right moment as the boom of the main mast swung overhead as he approached the aftcastle steps to join his friends.

   The Frihet was tacking into the wind, which was from the north. The three adventurers now looked to starboard to take in their destination, the great city of Calimport, the most populous city in the known world.

   "I must admit that sailing under the power of the spelljamming helm is far simpler than under the power of Akadi," said Ombert. "The wind is always behind us when we are aloft."

   "I could cause it to come from the bow if you prefer a challenge," said Jayce.

   "The wall is indeed impressive," said Solisar. He was referring to the twenty-foot tall sea wall that surrounded the capital of Calimshan.

   "In the stories of my people," Hakam said, as if quoting from memory, "the foundations of these walls were laid by marid and dao during the time of the reign of Calim."

   "We know," said Jayce. "You are talking to a bard and an historian, remember?"

   "They are signalling us," said Solisar. A series of colored flags of various shapes had been run up a pole atop one of the towers of the wall.

   "Yes, yes, I know what the wind speed is," mumbled Ombert, as if someone had spoken to him. Then he called out, "Signal our answer!"

   A spindly gnome at the forecastle was rapidly attaching flags to a rope. (Ombert had hired him and several other sailors on at a town in Lantan, after Hakam and Jayce had convinced the hin to captain their magical vessel, since the Frihet was somewhat larger than the halfling-built Daisy.) The gnome had a rather pointed nose, and the other sailors (at his request) called him "Gullbeak".

   The flags were displayed, and they waited for the harbormaster to respond with a new set of flags.

   "We are permitted entry into the port," said Ombert.

   "Then take us in, good captain," said Jayce.

   Under Ombert's expert piloting, the Frihet passed between the two guard towers at the gate of the great sea wall, which was thirty feet thick. It was an annoyingly slow process and required the efforts of many sailors.

   "That is a good number of boats," said Jayce. He was severely understating the view before them — literally half a thousand sailing vessels were within the sheltered harbor. The waters themselves were covered in debris, both floating trash and the tops of wreckage. Rising from the wooden docks at the shore was the great metropolis of Calimport, with stone and mud-brick buildings of every shape and size surrounded by tents and flags of all colors and punctuated by domes, arches, and minarets galore. Rivers of people could be seen in the streets leading down to the water.

   "I dropped him off at the marina there," said Hakam, pointing to the left. He was referring to their wizard companion, Szordrin Dundragon.

   "Aye, but the harbormaster is sending us to those larger docks on the other side," said Ombert.

   "Where did you tell him to meet us?" asked Solisar.

   "At the marina," said Hakam.

   "Well, it will not hurt us to step aground for a bit, will it?" asked Jayce.

   "The longer we tarry, the greater the chance that Yrevkethend breaks through to the refugees," said Hakam.

   "I am just going to get a single drink with Loreene and Gren," said Jayce.

   "And with me," called up Nargroth from the main deck.

   "Fear not, good cleric; we are not going to visit a festhall!" continued Jayce.

   "Hey, maybe you aren't!" said Brad as he tied off a rope behind them.

   Hakam still looked annoyed at the prospect of a long stop.

   "Look, I have not been to the mainland in months; I am not going to stand on the ship while you search for a tiefling amongst all these people. Also, recall that I have sat on my hindquarters for the last eight hours and that magic chair is no Calishite floor pillow!"

   So, once the ship was docked, a good number of the sailors headed into the taverns of Affar Drudach of Ylar Sabban, the Inn Sabban, while Hakam and Solisar struggled to push their way through the crowds west toward the marina. The streets had an overwhelming smell of seafood from all the fishmongers selling their wares.

   "Watch your money pouch," warned Hakam, who was clearly uncomfortable with the throngs of people about.

   "Is Memnon like this?" asked Solisar, referring to his friend's home.

   "Not at all," said Hakam. "It is far less crowded. Also, I rarely go down to the street level; I walk the drudach walls."

   Solisar glanced to the right and noticed an elevated pathway with steps periodically leading up to it. Many of the buildings had entryways opening to this walkway rather than to the dusty ground below. They were approaching an archway in one of these drudach walls and passed through.

   "We have entered a new district or sector," explained Hakam.

   They passed through another similar arch as they followed a winding road through the Dock Ward, passing countless bazaar tents and booths, inns and taverns, and sea-related guildhalls, until they reached the marina in Bayown Drudach of Jarûz Sabban and walked out onto the floating wooden platform.

   Hakam was correct to assume that Szordrin would be waiting for them at the same spot where he had dropped him off months ago. The black-bearded wizard stood by a couple barrels, and his weasel familiar, Ferry, was curled up and napping atop one of them.

   "Alae! said Solisar. "It is good to see you, Szordrin."

   "Why do you have two barrels?" said Hakam.

   "They are full of spices," said Szordrin. "Calishite spices are the rage on the Rock of Bral, remember? I have arranged for us to make a good profit from this."

   "Black market spices, no doubt."

   "Not at all! They were legitimately purchased from Pasha Halus!"

   "Even so, we have no need for more cargo. Captain Stronghull and I already arranged for a trade agreement with the Lantanna. The Frihet is full of smokepowder and clockwork inventions, purchased from the sale of The Daisy."

   "So we are sailing a large explosive into wildspace now? It seems that spices are a safer route. I spent my own coin on these barrels up front; they are coming with us."

   "Fine, but you are going to have to wait here for me to go get Nargroth and another sailor; Solisar and I cannot carry those!"

   "I shall be here waiting as before."

   So Hakam and Solisar left the marina to find Nargroth. As they walked away, Ferry clicked and chirped at his master.

   "Yes, Ferry, I am well aware that Pasha Halus is the leader of the Loyal Order of Fishmongers, not the Spicemonger Fellowship."

~~~~

   "So, I poked me head in a place called the Copper Ante," said Brad. "Learned today that hin dames look just the same as human dames under their clothes."

   "Why wouldn't they?" asked Loreene. "Hin are just miniature humans."

   "Racist," stated Niff, who was himself a halfling.

   "I expected them to have hairier feet!" explained Brad.

   "Why would they have hairy feet?" asked Gren.

   "Haven't you seen the captain's feet?"

   "What I don't understand," said Martin, "is why did they need to be without clothes for you to notice their feet? As usual, you do not make any sense!"

   "It's the style these days for ladyfolk to shave their feet," said Niff.

   "Is it the style for menfolk these days to shave their heads?" asked Gren. (Niff was bald.) "And why are your feet shaved?"

   "Hey, look! It's our favorite trickster wizard, Szordrin," said Martin.

   Hakam, Solisar, and Szordrin were coming across the gangplank. Behind them Nargroth and a sailor named Guttar were carrying the two barrels over their heads as if they were baskets of laundry. (Guttar was a huge, muscular man who never spoke.) They carried the barrels to the cargo hold in the steerage deck.

   "Let me show you what my kin did to enhance the ship," said Solisar, guiding Szordrin into the forecastle and past the open door to the small room where the magic helm sat. "First of all, it turns out that the helm that we had was a Netherese spelljamming helm, which was only a rumor among the scholars of spelljamming history. They were much slower than standard helms but had the added feature of causing a ship to hover for many hours, even when the helmsmen vacated the chair. You can see how this would be useful to a nation with many flying cities. The elves were delighted to have come across a real specimen and offered an even trade of a modern major helm for our Netherese helm, which they wanted to study and display in a museum."

   The new helm had a more elegant look to it than their old helm. Solisar led Szordrin further on to the steps down to the lower deck and continued, "I agreed to the trade but also got them to agree to refurbish the ship and build separate cabins. As an example, here is our new wizards' laboratory."

   The lower deck, which used to be a mostly open space, except for the first mate's cabin and the galley in the stern. Now had a narrow hallway leading aft with doors on each side. Solisar opened one on the left to reveal a small rectangular cabin with a desk, a shelf for books and scrolls, and an assortment of candles and writing implements.

   "Across the hall here is our crew lounge." This room was a bit larger and had a table and chairs for eight.

   About this same table, Hakam, Solisar, Szordrin, Jayce, and Oma later sat that evening, as above deck, the captain and his crew piloted the ship out of Calimport harbor.

   "Mythlos arrived at the keep," Hakam explained to Szordrin, "but he found it destroyed, flattened to the ground by the blue dragon. Yrevkethend managed to track Rinald there. Rinald was able to evacuate a good number of the keep's inhabitants into the dwarven ruins below. They are all, including Mythlos, now holding up there, but their supplies and food are running out. We have already stocked the ship with food for them."

   "How long ago did this happen?" asked Szordrin.

   "Near the beginning of the year."

   "I suspect that this was motivated by the dracorage," said Solisar.

   "It must be what caused her to violate her agreement with Sseth and the bronze dragons," said Jayce.

   "I have already notified the duchess of Tethyr," Hakam continued. "She was aware of the rage, but her armies are spread thin with other matters. Before we can head into wildspace, we need to rescue Mythlos and Rinald and any other refugees."

   "It seems to me that Rinald should have offered himself to the dragon and spared the destruction and loss of life," said Szordrin. "He put his own family at severe risk."

   "You never met Rinald," said Jayce. "He was a good man and would certainly have sacrificed himself if it would have changed matters."

   "In a manner of speaking, I did meet Rinald."

   "A statue of Rinald does not count," said Jayce.

   "We will reach the Rock of Bral shortly enough, Szordrin," said Solisar. "The new helm is significantly faster. We will make up lost time."

   "We have no deadline in any case," said Hakam. "Leokas is free from his geas; we are free from the ice devil Tosvin; our exile by Samber is over; and Ilthian is back on her island."

   "Presumably," said Solisar.

   "The more time we give Samber, the more powerful he will become," said Szordrin.

   "Cassiera and Galadrel arrived safely at the High Forest before Mythlos left them," continued Hakam, ignoring Szordrin's protest.

   "Cassiera was that snake woman who stowed away on The Daisy, was she not?" asked Oma. "She followed you into the mine before you all vanished, but who is Galadrel?"

   "Galadrel is Leokas' mother," explained Solisar.

   "She was his wolf, Stormshadow, in disguise this whole time," said Szordrin. "We only found out becuase we entered an anti-magic field in our travels."

   "A werewolf?" she asked.

   "A lythari," corrected Solisar.

   "And what about Samber?" asked Szordrin. "He is, after all, the only reason all of us are together."

   "I was just waiting my turn," said Jayce. "Let me tell you what I have already shared with Hakam and Solisar.

   "Samber was born in the settlement of Dtakkar on the island of Suj about 50 years ago. His full name is Samber Lamstrand. Both names are common Lantanna names. He started out with a typical story. Like many boys in Dtakkar, he took an apprenticeship in one of the clockwork toy factories. He also became a follower of Gond and became one of that church's temple boys.

   "I found that Samber learned magic from a young friend named Ronan who was an orphan and raised by gnomes. The boy was not Lantanna, and he was described as having silver hair and golden eyes."

   "A half-gold half-silver elf, perhaps?" asked Solisar.

   "No, he definitely was not an elf," continued Jayce. "In any case, this boy who introduced Samber to arcane magic and his whole gnomish family vanished one day, and no one knows where they went. Samber, I am told, was not that bothered by it."

   "He probably murdered them," said Szordrin.

   "As a child?" said Oma.

   "If Samber were a murderer, I believe that all of us would be dead by now," said Solisar.

   "His sins are deeper than that," said Hakam.

   "That is all I know of Samber's childhood," said Jayce. "Once he reached adulthood, he became a full clergy member of the Church of Gond. Those who knew him during that time claimed that he was one of their most promising priests. He mixed his arcane and divine magics to animate the toys that he created and became mildly famous for this in Dtakkar. This fame attracted the attention of a woman named Avilda SeKorc. He proposed, and the two were married after about a year of courting."

   "And Avilda looks like Ilthian?" asked Szordrin.

   "Yes," Jayce replied, "but she had red hair, green eyes, and pale freckled skin, like the average Lantanna maiden.

   "Samber and Avilda seemed to have had a happy marriage, at first, but they were unable to have children. This devestated both of them, and they tried a wide assortment of solutions, including herbs and the most bizarre gnomish contraptions, all without success.

   "I spoke with Avilda directly, and she told me that she left Samber because he 'loved his work more than me,' but the town gossip says differently. See, Avilda remarried and had four children with her new husband. Samber is the one who is infertile. He knew this and tried his hardest to give his wife children. According to the elderly neighbors, Avilda left because Samber began experimenting with creating a child using magic, which ended with disturbing results.

   "The priests of Gond told me that Avilda's departure threw Samber into a severe depression. Her remarriage drove him mad, and he disappeared. No one in Lantan has heard from or seen him since."

   "When did he disappear again?" asked Solisar.

   "About 35 years ago."

   There was a knock on the door. It was Nargroth. "Milady, the captain is calling to lay aloft. We have cleared the harbor; you are needed at the helm."

   Oma rose to head to the spelljamming helm.

   "Well, that is the story I have," said Jayce. "Now I am off to bed. Wake me when we reach Belvin and Leokas."
Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Background , Recap