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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 7:00 PM to 10:00 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 of 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 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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