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A Letter from Padhraig to Alice
[Everyone will be given a chance to read and comment on this before he sends it off, but this is Padhraig's response to the outstanding matter...]

To Lady Alice Fraser,

My Lady, I hesitate to write this letter quickly, without the thought its subject demands, but likewise I recognize the need to deal with this matter immediately, in the protection of a good man of both of our acquaintance who has, though no deed or action within his control, fallen afoul of Clan Law. I am neither student nor practitioner of the Law, or at least am not such within this cycle (and memories of other cycles, other lives, help little as Clan Law, as much as I know it, seems to differ in many particulars from Aegyrian Law or Thearean Law, and cycles are less identical than I might… this is a distraction, and I must end it).

I ought to begin this matter with important news, which is to say the conclusion of the matter of of the last Lord of Blackbyrne. Thought dead, yes, but even when you still traveled with us, the signs that death did not bring an end to his hold on power in this world were evident. Many more have come since, and it was in that cause that we came to the ruins of Blackbyrne and, with the permission of the guardians under command of one Liam MacKenzie, did explore for some anchor holding him here.

There were, in fact, two such anchors, a clever working that meant even if one temporarily slipped its hold or was lifted, the other might hold him to this world until both could be set again. The magic is more complex, but this sailor’s explanation is, I think, accurate enough for the matter at hand.

One anchor was a circle of enchantment, carved into the rock outside the Blackbyrne fortress, deeply enchanted to both endure and keep itself unfound. This, curiously, was the easier matter. Certainly, attempting to break the working awoke its guardians, shades of warriors long dead but, as I am certain you recall, that was not an entirely new experience for my companions and I. The key points in the working were pierced and the magic shattered. That hold is no more.

What was more troubling, though, was the pull of the other anchor. We had some hints of it, but not of how it would manifest. I will explain…

You have heard of our experiences in Tiranin and in Tillman’s Notch, where in each time was disordered and we saw glimpses of the past. In Tiranin, we glimpsed the smuggling away of small party during the final assault against the Blackbyrne’s rule. In the Notch, which had been one of the last holdouts of the Blackbyrne loyalists after their fall, we saw more sign of this group and their hidden purpose, which involved a child never clearly identified.

The resolution of which then became known to us last winter, when in the frozen depth of a lake well inland from Tree-town, we found ourselves in the Court of my Grandmother. The details there are complex and only of slight relevance. Suffice to say she is a Fey Noble of no little power nor any hint of scruple against using that power. She chose to dress each of us properly for her court, and gave each a title of her choosing. When she came to our friend Cabhan, she named him Master Marionette and dressed him in the colors of the dead clan Blackbyrne. When asked, she said this: “Your good Marrionette is in every way a puppet. The eyes of your nemesis and, so long as he lives, your nemesis cannot be destroyed.”

Thus it was that we already knew the form of the second anchor, but not its bite. As I began to study the enchanted carvings for a way to break them, as the spectres rose to stop us, the Blackbyrne pulled the anchorchain tight and gave proof to my Grandmother’s mocking name. Cabhan was gone, and in his form was the spirit of the last Blackbyrne.

Battle was given, of course. And I am most pleased to report that we were, overall, successful. The specters were driven off, and, somehow, even though the dark puppeteer used every hint of Cabhan’s quite impressive martial skills, Ailie, Sir Jarred, and Dama Michaela, with the aid of the dragon-sorceress Jokhula, were able to keep themselves and our friend from harm long enough for the circle to be pierced and broken, the first anchor cut.

It was then your cousin who cut the second anchor chain. A burning ray of the Grey Mage’s power weakened the dark spirit enough that the good man it used as its tool was freed from the hold he had been under. Cabhan ordered the other half-dead forces to return to their rest and the lingering stain of Blackbyrne on these Isles is no more.

Save one matter that lingers still.

There is now no secret of it, nor doubt of its truth. Captain Liam MacKenzie knows, and it was he who brought this last matter to our attention. If Cabhan is the last son of Blackbyrne, whatever the details of his descendance, then by Clan Law he, as all Blackbyrne, stands sentenced to death, the whole clan by law extinguished.

And thus, I must ask, Lady Alice, for your permission and command to, as captain of your ship and thus your captain, bear the accused’s parole until such time as he can be brought before full Clan Justice and the facts of this matter all given their proper weight in the determination of final judgement.

For the sake of our friend and companion, I beg your prompt response, and remain in all your captain,

Padhraig
Captain of the Fraser Ship Fenstalker
Commissioned by the Hand of Lady Alice Fraser, Heartsbloom 129

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Epic!
The Battle
Dear Gods, my nightmares, foiled in their attempts to find me in my rest have come for me in my waking hours.

The darkness and the fog pressed in around us, and I felt a cold dread in my bones. I was already flinching away when he turned towards me.

But no - while his mouth was turned into a rictus of profane joy - his eyes... his eyes were a mirror of the panic in my own. He was in there still, and my heart surged with hope.

"He's MINE!" I growled at the monster who held him captive as I slashed at their shared flesh. Hoping to somehow keep him distracted long enough to keep us all alive while Padhraig figured out some way to break this curse.

The beast Blackbyrne tried to turn Cabhan's blows against me, but he managed to wrest enough control to turn the attack against Ser Jarrad instead. The Knight dropped under the onslaught and I worried that Cabhan would not have the strength to overcome his captor a second time.

And then, thankfully, my fervent prayers were answered. Out of sight was a tremendous cracking sound, and while Cabhan looked panicked, Blackbyrne railed against us, called us fools for unravelling his masterwork.

And after a few more tense breaths, it was over. The skeletal army obeyed their (new) master's commands to return to their rest. The courtyard was almost painfully silent.

And I, overwhelmed with relief, simply wept.

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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Sofi
~ fourth-day, 28th of the sixth season, shrinking halflight
Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee


Protecting themselves against the heat with wet cloths or magic, they left the goose lake and headed northeast into the jungle. Using Belvin's magic, they walked for about 20 minutes. Kytharrah heard and smelled a flowing stream up ahead, and Belvin let him go forward and scout a bit. After finding a log that was lying across the stream, he came back and pantomimed to the others the act of moving across a balance beam. They did not really understand what he meant, but they went forward together to see.

   Belvin and Leokas explained that the tree had naturally fallen, though not too long ago. Leokas found what appeared to be small, humanoid prints on the log from someone who was barefoot. Kytharrah sniffed them. "Smell Szordrin," he said.

   "Huh," said Belvin.

   "Some kind of fiend passed by here, perhaps," said Hakam.

   "Are these gnome footprints?" asked Solisar. "Was not Szordrin's master raised by gnomes?"

   "They are a little too large for gnome feet," said Leokas. "Gnomes are even smaller than halflings, but I suppose if it was a big-footed gnome,..."

   "If you are all willing to wait for me to perform the incantations," said Solisar, "I can search the area beyond with my arcane eye."

   Solisar removed a bit of bat fur from his spell component pouch and began a series of complex motions and utterances. In the meantime, the others refilled their water and looked around the area west of the stream. A short distance to the north was a small lake, which emptied into this stream.

   Suddenly, Solisar appeared to go into a trance or coma, as his natural eyes stopped functioning, and he began to see from a point distant from his body. He sent the visual sensor north along the stream to come out over the open lake. The lake was 50 or 60 feet across at its widest point. Beautiful cascading steps of short waterfalls tumbled down into it from a rocky hill to the northwest, flowing between two large boulders. There was a small beach and clearing on the west side of the lake and a larger beach and clearing on the east side.

   Solisar immediately saw the source of the smoke on the east side. There was a small circle of stones there with a hot bed of ash and charcoal, upon which was placed a tiny metal mug. A figure in white clothing was tending to the mug with a long stick. It was a petite and slender young woman, sitting on a small rock next to the firepit. She seemed human and was dressed in a simple, sleeveless, burlap tunic and trousers that went only just past her knees. Her wrists and ankles seemed bound in white cloth strips or bandages, and she was barefoot. Her head was covered in a tied-up cloth or towel, as if she had recently come from a bath.

   Solisar described what he was seeing to his companions. "She is also faintly glowing with a magical aura, but she does not appear to be armed."

   "Ilthian never had a magical aura, correct?" asked Hakam.

   "She did not, no, but Szordrin does."

   "As do Cassiera and Jayce," said Szordrin. "Any being with sorcerous powers does."

   Solisar continued concentrating on her for several moments. "The magic does not reveal any magic items on her person causing the aura; it is simply coming from her herself. Let me take my sensor closer to her."

   He zoomed the sensor right up over her little mug. She seemed to be boiling a few roots, a rather pitiful meal. He then looked up closely at the woman. She was pale and had a cute face, with a button nose and eyes that were a bit reddish-brown.

   "What are the colors of her eyebrows?" asked Szordrin. "For that will be the color of her hair."

   "They are brown," said Solisar. "Her eyes, however, are not typical for a normal human. They are very red."

   "She is likely of mixed blood, as am I," said Szordrin.

   "Yes," agreed Solisar, "red eyes are often present on those with a demon, devil, or night hag as an ancestor, though I could not tell you which in the present case. I have only read about red eyes; I have not seen any to compare the subtle differences. This is, of course, why Kytharrah thought that her feet smelled like yours, Szordrin."

   "We should approach carefully," said Hakam, "with cordiality, at least at first. Can we cut through the trees here to reveal ourselves on the opposite side of the lake from her?"

   This was done easily enough. Kytharrah pressed ahead of the others and into a small clearing of grass and sand west of the lake. He immediately saw the woman that Solisar had described on the other side.

   The woman sprang up, like a pouncing tiger, and spun around in the air to face him, landing perfectly on her toes in a defensive posture, like some of the persons Kytharrah had wrestled with in the past. She carried no weapon but the tiny stick with which she was tending the fire. She stared directly at the minotaur and seemed to be waiting for him to make the first move.

   Most humans stood on their feet, he thought, yet she was on her toes like him. Kytharrah gave her a little bow, similar to how a dog might bow when ready to play. Kytharrah was not the best at understanding human facial expressions, but her expression definitely changed in response.

   Hakam stepped forward out from behind a thick palm-like bush and spoke. He noted that the tongues spell that he had cast did not automatically change his words into another language; he spoke in Common, which implied that she did as well. "We come in peace!" he shouted over the sound of the nearby waterfalls.

   The woman shouted back. "I... stand on the other side of this lake... in peace!" They could not determine whether her tone was a strange accent or simply the result of uncertainty or fear.

   Szordrin was trying to sneak around the southern end of the lake to get close enough to her to read her thoughts. He stepped into the stream; it was only about three feet deep.

   Suddenly, the woman turned to look directly in Szordrin's direction. The trees were still blocking their line of sight to each other, but the others, now moving fully into her view, could see her trying to spot the one she could somehow sense hiding in the foliage. Szordrin could read nothing at all of the thoughts in her mind.

   "We are only seeking information," Hakam shouted over the water. "We would like to show you a receipt for the purchase of a magical item." He held the copy of the document in his hand and waved it. "A rod used for interplanar travel."

   "Do I look dangerous?" she called back.

   "We did not want to come upon you suddenly and surprise you," said Solisar.

   "These are dangerous parts of the multiverse," said Hakam. "We always favor caution."

   "I cannot see that paper from here, but I suppose you could come over here and we can wigwag."

   Kytharrah did not waste any time in making his way over. He climbed up the nearby ledge to the north and bounded in two big leaps across the two large boulders at the base of falls and then landed on the other shore. She hopped back a yard and turned to face the minotaur who stood two and a half feet taller than she. She still looked somewhat confused and nervous.

   "Let us cross the lake, Kamil," said Belvin, but Kamil made grunting noises. The water looked too deep for his camel to easily ford across. "Fine, we shall go around it. Wait for me," he called to the others, who were already taking the longer route, back through the bushes, over the tree log, and through the thick trees to reach her clearing.

   Kytharrah tried to give the woman a friendly grin, while he waited for the others, but she stepped back another yard from him.

   "Kytharrah, no playing!" shouted Hakam.

   Hearing the group approaching from the south and flanking her, she adjusted her posture once again. She did not look away from the minotaur, but she was clearly aware of where each of the others were as well.

   Kytharrah came up and plopped himself right down by the firepit. He pulled out his everburning torch and held it up proudly for her to see.

   She smiled and, for the first time, did not seem frightened by him.

   "You may call me Sofi?" she stated, though it sounded more like a question. He partly extended her hand to shake his paw, but then rethought this and pulled it back.

   "Unlike our minotaur friend," said Solisar, approaching her firepit slowly, "we could not make the jump across those rocks and had to take the long route. His name is Kytharrah, 'Friendly Red Beast' in my native tongue. I am Solisar Keryth."

   Then he spoke to Kytharrah. "Kytharrah, come join us over here on this side of her, so that she is not surrounded." The minotaur obeyed. Her posture seemed to relax a bit. She stood on her feet now, for one, instead of on her toes.

   The others stood in an arc, and no one said anything for an awkward moment. The woman stood just under five-and-a-half feet tall. Her bare arms looked quite muscular. She reminded them, in terms of her general build, of Loreene, in prime physical condition, all muscle, though Loreene was much taller. Hakam noted that she gave off no chaotic aura that his special blessing from Anachtyr would reveal.

   Then the woman who called herself Sofi shook her head, as if snapping herself out of a daze. "Forgive me for my silence;" she said. "I have not seen other bloods in a long time. Uh, welcome to my... well, it is not really my case, just a place where I call kip, but it is where I am currently finding peace."

   She had a strange accent and lingo that none of them could place, nor did Szordrin or Hakam's spells provide anything more than the literal meaning of such words as "bloods" or "case".

   Hakam again brought out the receipt copy from the Interlink Consortium. He handed it to her. "We are looking for the purchaser of this item. Is it you?"

   She quickly shook her head. "No. No. It was not me. I did not even know the number of this island. You are looking at all my possessions now, mark." She held her arms wide. "I have nothing." She handed back the receipt. "I do not know any of the names on that paper."

   "Perhaps you can still help us," said Hakam, taking back the paper.

   "I do not have much to offer you in the way of hospitality," she said quickly, before Hakam could continue, "no bub or anything, only water, but please feel free to set your things down and rest your backs and feet a bit." She sat back down on her rock. "This weather is hot; you are welcome to bathe in the the pond; the water is cool and fresh. I am boiling some roots that I found. I am happy to share them with you." She spoke rapidly and awkwardly, as if she was not used to carrying on conversation with others and did not know the proper things to say.

   "Thank you for your hospitality," said Hakam, "but it looks like you barely have enough to feed yourself. We have more than enough of our own rations."

   Kytharrah handed her some of his own rations to share.

   "Thank you, 'Friendly Red Beast', but may I ask what that is, first? I have a... sensitive diet."

   Kytharrah shrugged, having no idea what it was that he was actually eating. "Food?"

   Hakam explained that it was salbread, a bread made by halflings and favored by wildspace sailors. It lasted for many tendays. "It has a citrus flavor," he added.

   She took the biscuit from Kytharrah and tasted it. She smiled and looked at it more closely. "This is top-shelf!" she said. "I apologize for asking about it, but I have to be very careful. I cannot accept meat, as it is dead flesh, which I have promised never to touch." She ate the biscuit happily but slowly. She did not consume it like someone ravenously hungry or underfed, though the meager meal that she was cooking in her mug would have suggested otherwise.

   "Oh!" she said suddenly, remembering something. "Forgive my appearance; I have just come from washing my hair." She raised her hand to the towel there as if to remove it and then paused, before dropping her hand again as if changing her mind.

   "How long have you lived here on this island?" asked Solisar.

   "Yes," said Hakam. "The shipment of the item on the receipt that I showed you was made to this very island, five years ago. Were you here at that time?"

   "I was in Coliar at that time," she replied, "but I have only been on this island... a few months? Well, they call them 'seasons' here."

   Belvin leaned forward and peeked into her mug. "Cassava?" he asked.

   "The plant has leaves in sets of three," she said. "I do not know its name."

   "Cassava," Belvin repeated, "a good source of sugar. Sometimes, they have sets of seven or nine leaves instead. They cook better if you sear them on the coals first before boiling them."

   "I shall have to try that next time. Thank you."

   "Have you noticed signs of any previous occupants on this island?" asked Hakam, trying to keep the group on task.

   "I have only been on this island for a few seasons;" she repeated. "I move from place to place, as I do not believe that I am permitted to settle down any one place for too long. I have never seen another person here, just lizards and birds like all the other islands; however, there is something very strange here."

   She continued. "About a half mile from here, north, there is a chasm or gorge. It seems as if the island is slowly breaking in two at that point. I have explored everything on this side of the chasm, but I have never crossed it to the other side. If you wish to come with me later, I can show you why. You can rest here and we can hike there later."

   "Excuse me," said Szordrin, who had been silent for the conversation so far and still appeared as his old master. "Do not be alarmed, but my current appearance is actually an illusion, and the spell is about to fade. It is nothing to be worried about."

   "Oh," she said, sounding confused once again. "Okay."

   Szordrin's form shifted, gaining height and losing years and weight.

   She tilted her head and looked at him intently, taking his face in — too intently, enough to make Szordrin feel uncomfortable.

   "Nice to meet you,... well, the real you." She looked away from him and at the others. "Actually, I have only met Solisar and Friendly Red Beast by name. What are the rest of your names? I was so peery that I forgot to ask."

   The others gave their names in turn. Szordrin was the last to give his, and she looked at him again and smiled shyly at him.

   "You and I might have more in common than I at first thought, Szordrin," she said. She raised her hand again to her towel. "Forgive me, sometimes my appearance can be off-putting to visitors on other worlds, but I do not think that I will have that problem with you."

   She let loose the towel. Her shoulder-length brown hair tumbled down. The act also revealed a pair of goat-like white horns sprouting from the top of her forehead and curling backwards.

   Kytharrah bounced up and down with excitement and grinned widely.

   She smiled back at him. "Yes, I have horns, just like you!" She had gathered by now that Kytharrah was much like a child in manner, and her tone to him was now different than it was to the others.

   Kytharrah could no longer hold back and forgot Hakam's earlier order. "Play?"

   "It would be rude to my other guests to play without ensuring that everyone is first comfortable," she said gently, "but I would be happy to play with you later!"

   She looked back at the others now and shrugged. "So, this is me."

   "Yes," said Hakam, still pursuing his goal, "we would indeed be interested in seeing this other side of the island. However, we are content for you to finish your meal first."

   "Are you sure that you do not want to share?" she asked again.

   Kytharrah was happy to sample a little bite.

   "So, what is your ride?" she asked tentatively, seeming uncomfortable with the awkward silence while she finishing her last of the two roots.

   "What? My ride?" said Belvin. "Kamil is a camel."

   She shook her head. "I am so sorry. Ignore my Cager lingo. Why are you here? Why did you come to this of all islands? Is it simply because of this receipt? Why is the delivery of this item so important to you? Cutters do not come to Coliar often."

   Hakam elaborated a bit further. "The item is connected to a foe of ours whom we have been tracking."

   "May I ask what sort of foe? None of you are evil, so I presume that your foe is."

   Szordrin answered, "The rod is connected to the murder of my former master."

   She looked at Szordrin with genuine compassion. "I am so sorry to hear that!"

   "Moreover," said Hakam, "The gods have informed me that Szordrin's master was connected to another man who is a great danger to everyone."

   "So," clarified Belvin, "our quest is a bit of a personal vendetta, but also something much greater."

   She nodded with a somber look on her face. "I mark that," she said. Then she took a final bite of her cassava root before asking, "Where is your kip?"

   "Pardon our ignorance," said Hakam, "but we do not know what the word 'kip' means."

   She blushed and looked down. "Oh right, again. Sorry! Uh, your case? Ugh! Your home? Where are you from? I am not very good with talking to people; I do not see them very often."

   "We are all from the planet Toril," said Hakam.

   "I am from the city of Sigil. I assume that you have heard of it?"

   Szordrin and Solisar had at least heard of Sigil. It was the legendary city supposedly at the very center of the multiverse, if such a statement meant anything at all. There was no shortage of sages and scholars who balked at such an idea, but here was a woman claiming to live there, so at least the existence of the place seemed true. Solisar knew that it was said to float at the top of a great spire in the center of the Outlands, the neutral Outer Plane that connected, cosmologically, if not literally, to all of the other Outer Planes and the realms of the many gods.

   "I know of it, yes," said Solisar. "Is it true that the city is ruled by the Lady of Pain?"

   "It is true," she said.

   The Lady of Pain was one of the most enigmatic characters of the known multiverse. She was not a goddess; she seemed to have no worshipers and granted no divine spells, but her power seemed comparable to that of many of the gods. In fact, she had somehow banned all deities from her city. It was impossible for the powers to enter Sigil at all, and lesser beings, mortal and immortal alike, could only enter — or exit — the city through established portals.

   It was not surprising to find a tiefling from Sigil. Sigil was to the multiverse what the Rock of Bral was to wildspace — one was likely to find all manner of planar diversity there.

   "Why have you moved around so much from place to place?" asked Szordrin.

   "Well...," she started. "It is complicated." Then a pause. "I am a follower of Pistis Sophia. I have forsworn all worldly possessions in exchange for her guidance in turning to the light."

   "She is one of the ruling archons, is she not?" said Hakam.

   Sofi nodded. "I believe so. Although, to be honest, I have not tumbled to much more than that about her."

   "What is an archon?" asked Leokas.

   "They are the lawful and noble residents of the the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia," explained Hakam. "Many are in the service of Anachtyr and other noble gods, and he has even granted me the power to summon some of their lesser varieties. However, the archons as a whole are ruled by the most powerful of their several orders, the tome archons, or archon paragons. Every paragon archon is a unique being. Pistis Sophia is the ruler of the Fourth Heaven. The gods have their own realms, and she has no power over their domains, but the archons of the Fourth Heaven are her subjects. She is called 'the Ascetic' by the writings of my church."

   "It is true," said Sofi, "and I seek to follow in her steps." She held up the cloth that she had formerly worn around her head. "I am not even supposed to own this towel, but I have this... quirk where I cannot bear the feeling of wet hair on my forehead if the rest of me is dry. Does that make sense to any of you?"

   They stared at her blankly, but Kytharrah nodded to encourage her.

   She shrugged. "I did not think that it would." She looked defeated momentarily but then perked up again. "I also use it as a belt, but my pants stay on just fine, so I know that that is a weak excuse. I hope that she is forgiving of this one luxury. Okay, I also own my metal mug here. So, she has to forgive me two things. Three strikes before you are out, right? I think that I heard someone say that on Sigil once. I have no idea what it references. Do you know? Help! I am rambling." She blushed again.

   "It is good that you have chosen to live your life in alignment with the law," said Hakam.

   "Well, I am trying to," she said. "I am far from perfect. I admit that I have a barmy temper, but I take no joy in that; I hate it. Anyhow, can we talk about someone else's faults now?" She laughed a little.

   When no one else immediately volunteered any personal flaws, she turned back to Szordrin, who had originally asked her about why she moved about. "To answer your question more fully, Szordrin, my vows forbid me to claim any permanent shelter as my own. The ground by this pond is soft. The weather here is always warm, so I do not get cold. I do not mind the rain and find it refreshing." She paused again, and then mumbled something about not minding her hair being wet if the rest of her body was also wet and how, admittedly, this quirk made no sense at all. "Nevermind!"

   "Have you traveled to any of the other islands?" asked Solisar.

   "I was originally dropped off in Coliar by an astraljammer," she replied. "They check in on me every year or so, and I have them drop me off at a new island when they do, to scan what Pistis Sophia has to teach me in a new place."

   "An astraljammer?" asked Belvin.

   "Spelljammers for traveling the Astral Plane," explained Solisar. He then asked the others, "That is what the neogi were after, was it not?"

   "One travels through the Astral Plane whenever he uses teleportation magic of any kind," said Hakam. "Why would a ship be needed?"

   "Yes," Solisar replied, "but if you want to travel within the gravity-less void of the Astral Plane itself, having a vessel in which to do so is most useful."

   "Did you choose this island at random?" asked Hakam. "Or where there any signatures from the Astral Plane that led you here?"

   "I came to Coliar, at first seeking a place of great isolation, where I could meditate. I believe that I have been guided to each specific island by my patron, for whatever reasons she may have." She then added. "As you must know, there are hundreds of thousands of islands in Coliar. It is exceptionally rare to 'accidentally' run into another person here, unless on one of the port islands or its immediate neighbors in the same jet stream. And the fact that this island has this 'strange thing' that I want to show you — I am beginning to think that I was correct that it was her will to place me on this very island. I do not know why I am here, yet I know that it is ordained."

   Hakam nodded. "It is indeed the will of the gods," he asserted. "They have been guiding us, too, on our journey."

   Szordrin verbally agreed, which caused several of his companions to look at him in surprise, as he had never spoken highly of the powers in the past.

   He also whispered something to Ferry, and the weasel scurried down his arm and over to her lap.

   Belvin rolled his eyes at this, but Sofi's red eyes grew wide. "You the cutest ever!" she said to Ferry, as she stroked his downy fur.

   After she had doted on the little mustelid for several minutes, Belvin led Kamil over to her. She patted the camel's nose cautiously.

   Ferry came back to Szordrin and reported that he very much approved of Sofi and that yes, Kytharrah was correct; her feet did indeed smell like his.
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Faux and Geese
Hakam gingerly poked his head around a tree to look upon the fallen beast. His spiritual sword and hammer hovered over the dinosaur but did not make any attempt to strike it.

   "It is dead," he called back to the others.

   "Move your poisoned dagger away," Belvin called up to Szordrin while dismounting. "I am going to get its skull."

   Szordrin flew down and retracted his dagger from the ground, then poked the dinosaur in the side. It did not stir.

   "How do you expect to carry that skull?" asked Solisar. "It would not even fit in a bag of holding!"

~~~~

It was less than a hour more of jungle travel to reach the edge of this island. Their campsite was not quite as convenient this time, because of the crowding of the trees, but they made do.

   They sat around a fire in the last hour before the rains and ate their dinner, which included dinosaur meat.

   "You know," said Belvin, "these past few days with lizard people and lizard things reminded me of Yash's vision for us."

   "Which one?" asked Szordrin.

   "The one about three dinosaurs around a jungle pool, who do not see a dark cloud approaching."

   "If I recall correctly," said Solisar, "it was not three dinosaurs. It was a dinosaur, a chameleon, and a crocodile."

   "All jungle reptiles, however," said Belvin, "...such as here on Coliar."

   "Is not this the prophecy that you had already seen?" asked Hakam.

   Belvin shrugged.

   "If not, it certainly would not be shocking to see the prophecy fulfilled here somewhere," said Hakam. "In any case, let us know if you recognize any pools."

~~~~

They passed another short Coliar night and waited as the day grew brighter and hotter, until once again it was time for their third and final jump to reach Kaw-chi-wee-tee-tee.

   "Are we expecting Onran to be on this next island?" asked Leokas. "As a powerful wizard, could he have faked his death?"

   Szordrin had also secretly been hoping that this was true. Surely, Onran, being a great magician, had the means to do so, but he did not want to appear to the others to hold to such a faint hope.

   "I am concerned that he might have set up defenses on the island," said Hakam.

   "Such as an invisible wall to block people like us from simply gliding down to it?" asked Solisar. "The thought also crossed my mind. Did you actually see him die?" This last question was to Szordrin.

   "I found his body," said the tiefling.

   "But we know that Samber can jump bodies," said Hakam, "and Jayce told us that Onran taught Samber some of his magic. Perhaps Onran did the same."

   "Onran was an aasimar;" said Szordrin, "he was naturally good. It is unlikely that he would have shifted bodies for personal gain."

   "He was being threatened with death," said Hakam. "Maybe it was his last chance to escape. Samber did not want to jump bodies either, but presumably, he had to to escape the mummy's prison."

   Belvin was already in pteranodon form with Kamil miniaturized. It was time to jump.

   As they approached this roughly circular island from the air, they observed that it had a deeper underside than the last two islands, and it seems to have more ponds and lakes. They soon recognized that it also had a much nicer spot to land, a lake near the edge, free — for the most part — from trees surrounding it. Solisar, thankfully, saw no aura of invisible defenses with his magic vision, not that he would have had time to warn the others if he had, as they were moving at too quick a velocity for that. Fearing an aquatic dinosaur in its waters, they guided their gliders above the lake and used feather-falling magic to break in the air and land on the opposite shore.

   The lake, however, was covered in swimming birds, similar to the ducks and geese with which they were familiar on Toril. These scattered from the area in crowded clouds of wings and feathers, as the gliders passed by. The shore itself was covered in goose droppings. "Stinky," said Kytharrah, who, as usual, immediately took in the smells of his new environment.

   No one had any issues landing this time, and they began to pack up their gliders or transform back into humanoid form.

   Besides the water birds, there were many flocks in the sky moving from cluster of trees to cluster of trees.

   Hakam and Solisar, when nearing the island, had each seen some smoke rising from somewhere in the northeast, probably less than a mile away, and they made sure that everyone was aware of it.

   Belvin carefully approached one of the geese-like birds. It seemed to sense that he meant no harm, and then Belvin started honking, cackling, and clucking. It honked right back.

   The druid called back to the cleric. "Hakam, what do you want me to ask her?"

   "Ask if the birds have seen any other creatures that look like us," said Hakam.

   Belvin honked and then gave the translation of the goose's reply. "She says that there is indeed one tall, white-feathered creature that walks like us but cannot fly."

   "Can they point us to this person?" asked Hakam.

   The bird indicated that the creature was to the northeast, the same direction as the small strand of smoke.

   "What hair color does this person have?" asked Szordrin.

   The goose described some off-white feathers as well, but Belvin did not think that the bird was distinguishing feathers from fur, clothing, or hair. "Remember, she is a bird," he said.

   "Onran's hair was white, when I knew him," said Szordrin, and he began to remove his mithral vest. They all wondered what he was doing, as he also took a tiny rolled up piece of parchment from his spell component pouch. The wizard muttered a few words, and his body shortened to five and a half feet tall and appeared to gain a little weight. His hair grew white and his yellow cat eyes turned more golden, almost glowing, and the pupils rounded. The hair and beard stayed rather similar.

   "This was Onran," said Szordrin's voice. "Ask the hen if she recognizes me now."

   "She is a goose, not a hen;" corrected Belvin. "The word 'goose' is already feminine. The males are ganders. Nevertheless, I shall ask her."

   Belvin honked at the water bird, and she cackled back.

   "She says that we all look alike to her," reported Belvin, "but she thinks that you have too many non-white feathers to be whom she saw from the sky."

   Belvin then tried to ask the bird if she had seen any structures, though it seemed to take him a while to explain to the simple creature what a structure even was. He tried ideas of unnatural shapes or extremely large square nests. While not sure that he had communicated the idea clearly to her, she did not seem to have seen any such thing as a "structure" on the island.

   "Do the birds recognize anything strange below the water?" asked Hakam. "Any lights, sparkling surfaces, things that are not rocks?"

   They had seen no such things under the water, just the plants and swimming amphibians and reptiles that they ate.

   Belvin asked if they had any natural predators, and he learned that they did not in this area. They migrated from island to island, and this island was where they came to raise their young.

   "Have any aarakocra landed here?" asked Solisar.

   None had in the bird's memory. "But she is only four years old," said Belvin.

   "I think that we have learned what we can from this goose," said Hakam. "Let us finish packing up the gliders and walk to where we saw the smoke."
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Spinosaurus vs. Triceratops
The gargantuan predator brought its long head close to the ground, almost touching it, and opened its tooth-filled mouth wide to emit a deep and deafening bellow.

   Kytharrah felt the otherworldly howl deep in his bones. Nevertheless, he just shook it off, grabbed his axe, and readied himself.

   The triceratops, too, was unfazed by the larger dinosaur's roar. It simply kept on strolling calmly after its mate, which had disappeared into the tree cover to the north.

   Leokas rushed south through the trees and climbed up over the embankment. He passed Solisar, who waved a wand and sent a pulse of magic zipping through the trees to slam into the bony crest along the massive dinosaur's snout.

   From the air, two rays of fire blasted forth from Szordrin's hands. Each struck the dinosaur. It called out, took one long stride, and chomped down on the triceratops' hindquarters. The long conical teeth of the predator easily punctured the thick, scaled skin of the triceratops.

   The triceratops cried out, at last freed from the power of Hakam's calming enchantment, and began to run, but the other dinosaur lifted its back half completely off the ground, so that only the triceratops' front feet were making contact with the earth. Its rear legs moved about uselessly.

   From the top of the embankment, Leokas could easily see the tail of the giant dinosaur. It was finned and shark like. He began unleashing arrows.

   The attacking dinosaur growled and twitched as arrow after arrow plunged into its hide, followed by numerous magic missiles from Solisar's wand.

   The triceratops shook its hips and fell from the bigger dinosaur's mouth. It spun quickly around to face its attacker and lunged forward, raising its thick neck and driving its two long horns into the other beast's chest, just between its arms.

   As the dinosaurs battled just outside the cover of the trees, Hakam laid his hands on Kytharrah to enhance the protectiveness of his armor, while Belvin called out a powerful enchantment to boost the range of his companions' weapons.

   The carnivore, three arrows embedded in its lower body and burned and bleeding, twisted its head around to grab at its dinner's neck. The triceratops instinctively defended itself by lifting its head back to protect the vulnerable spot with its bony frill and knocking the bigger beast's head to the side, where it clamped down instead on the arch of the triceratops' back. The wounded triceratops bucked and yanked free, but the predator also slashed and gashed with its long thumb-claws, cutting deep into the triceratops' bulky side.

   Kytharrah dropped his axe and reached for his minotaur-sized bow, joining Leokas at launching projectiles at the dinosaur, though not as rapidly, of course. A gust of wind, triggered by Belvin's magic, guided the shot into the back of the beast's neck.

   Szordrin drew his new dagger of venom from its sheath and tossed it through the air. Another rush of wind kept the blade spinning through the air, but the throw fell short, and the dagger drove into the ground at the four-toed foot of the towering monster.

   The triceratops bellowed and gored its foe once again, this time severely wounding the larger creature in the neck. It then tried to back up into the shelter of the trees, but the other dinosaur was faster. It stepped to the side, ignoring its own wounds and bit down once again. This time, it used its clawed hands and its bite together to press its prey to lie flat on the ground with the force of its weight behind it. The triceratops let out a shriek. It was pinned, prone, and helpless.

   A mystical sword and hammer appeared in the air on each side of the upright reptile. The hammer missed, but the sword swung down on the back of the creature's neck. The magical force burst a major vessel, and blood spurted. The dinosaur growled and raised its head, swinging it over rapidly to snap at the strange flying thing that had harmed it. As its head turned, Leokas saw the perfect shot. His wind-guided arrow struck the dinosaur in the left eye and burst out on the other side. The huge reptilian body flopped over lifeless and slammed into the ground. The triceratops got up and fled away from the clearing.
Session: 113th Game Session - Friday, Jun 26 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Viewable by: Public
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