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Tag: wildspace

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 - Thursday, Jul 12 2018 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
Viewable by: Public
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