Illuvinari

Veteran of the Psychic Wars
05/29/5055

A desperate rescue mission!
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The Hammer of the Elves, Part III: Ashes of Victory
05/29/5055

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The elves have landed their beachhead in Port Dawn! As the smoke rises from the crater where once stood the Temple of Hextor and slaves riot in the streets, our heroes have many obstacles yet to overcome in order to secure the city.

Dear Celemar,

I don’t know where my path is headed, and I am writing this letter in case I do not return. I know we agreed not to speak of that, but given this morning’s events I am feeling maudlin. So far today I have fought a giant artifact, fought my way through a burning city, sworn an oath to a servant of Law and watched as Kelroth’s work here was undermined from within. So far we’re all still alive, so I guess its been a good day, all things considered.
After the fight with the Colossus, we all flew as quickly as possible toward the docks. Thangil carried Kelroth and Drae carried Fo’wyn, while I flew under my own power. The aerial fighting has been vicious here – we severely underestimated their resources. We’ve lost so many eagles and riders!
Thangil and Drae spotted several hideous flying creatures with bat-like wings and horns flying in our general direction. They appeared to be fiendish manticores. I began pulling Fo’wyn while Drae headed back to stop the manticore that had broken off to attack us. As he flew at it, he called out in Abyssal “You shall foul this world no more, spawn!”
It replied, “Stand aside, brother!” as it flew after us. The rest of us flew as fast as we could towards the docks.
Drae responded with, “Your only brother shall be death” as he moved to intercept. The manticore answered with a war cry of “Death to the Silthalion!”
“Look at me,” was Drae’s only response as he used his gaze attack on the creature, which was immediately frozen with fear. It started to glide off to the left as the wings stopped beating. Y’Draesk gave chase and performed a neat coup de grace with his weapon, killing it instantly. He left it to fall into the bay, and the other manticores turned aside to look for easier prey.
We decided to land on the beach where the Colossus walked into the city, since there was less activity there, and then make our way towards the center of the city. Once we landed, we noticed quite a few different groups of people – some were looting people’s homes and probably settling old grudges in all the confusion. Kelroth saved a woman who was being chased by some men. He turned on his holy glow, uncovered his staff and cast Starmantle, so he pretty much lit up the area! She actually attacked him with her mace, but the Starmantle turned it into tiny yellow bits of light. She’s following him around now, it’s really quite cute.
When Fo’wyn and I came around a corner we saw five of our people fighting some humans in uniform. There must have been a caster nearby as well, because as we watched an earth elemental rose up out of the ground to flank the elves. The elemental knocked one down and he didn’t get back up. Fo’wyn started attacking the elemental with his bow, while I moved up and used my wand to heal the fallen elf. Once I got him back on his feet I started healing others who were within reach. The elemental did kill one of our men outright – there was nothing I could do.
Thangil cast Celestial Aspect, which caused horns to grow out of his head. He charged the elemental and it was dismissed instantly! The humans tried to flee, but Fo’wyn killed one outright. Thangil knocked the other two out, and we kept them as prisoners.
All of us who had a bow and arrows to spare gave them to the elven unit. They were on one of the ships that were thrown into the city by the Colossus earlier this morning. Very few survived. We kept them with us, and moved to rejoin the main army.
When we were organizing and preparing to move out, a dwarf came around the corner dragging an unconscious woman. This woman evidently was the caster who summed the elemental earlier. He told us his name was Dwingle and that he was a local jeweler. He seemed very helpful and friendly. He claimed to be looking for payback against the guard.
About this time, a Halfling woman comes into the street as well, and began whispering to Y’Draesk. Drae seemed to be thinking hard about whatever she was telling him, and looked very suspiciously at the dwarf. Dwingle pressed him for his name, introducing himself formally. Y’Draesk avoided giving his name, and Fo’wyn looked at the dwarf using his Gem of True Seeing. Then he turned to Y’Draesk and cried out “Run!” It wasn’t a dwarf at all, but that dratted Inevitable again! I am beginning to understand why they are called Inevitables…they never go away.
Drae debated with the thing, and offered to turn himself over to a mortal authority. It replied that there was noone suitable present. So of course I opened my mouth and stuck my foot into it, offering myself as Speaker of the Eldar. It decided that was acceptable, but I was forced to swear on the Speaker’s Rod that after 48 hours (or after the battle) I would then take Y’Draesk into custody. Luckily, it didn’t think to make me swear what I would do with him. I might just strangle him myself! Personally I expect that we will be forced to go to Mechanus to resolve the issue. If I don’t return from the Clockwork plane, you had better mount a rescue mission or I’ll never forgive you. Never.
Anyway, the thing accepted the bargain and changed its appearance into the dead elf so as not to draw attention and we all headed into the city. Once we got to the wall, we found a tower with enemy archers at the top. Fo’wyn and Thangil climbed up but the firing archers caused Fo’wyn to climb back down in short order. Thangil stayed up to fire back at them. Drae went and got a door, which he used to shield us from the arrows so we could all get up on the wall. I cast a Dispel Magic at the top of the tower, and Kelroth followed up by throwing a Fireball up there.
Our new Halfling friend, calling herself Cyren, volunteered to climb up and try to take out a few of them, and once we agreed she turned invisible and off she went. I understand she made some clever attacks on the Captain of the men on the tower, wearing him down quite a bit. He did manage to hit her a few times, because when she went over the top of the tower, an enchantment went off that put a faerie fire on her. He was using a Ring of the Ram, but since she was flying, it wasn’t as disastrous as it could have been. Those of us standing on the wall below were hit by alchemical fires from within the tower, but luckily our protections held and noone was hurt.
Drae flew up to join her in fighting the guards, and between the two of them they killed all but two of the guards. One of them tried to flee through the trap door, and the Captain killed the deserter himself. Drae asked him to surrender without dishonor, but the man refused. They dueled briefly but the human was overmatched. He saluted Drae with his sword as he died.
Drae tossed a fireball from his necklace downstairs, which set off all the stored alchemical fire they had in the tower. At that point, we decided it was time to go.
When we got to the next tower in our path, Thangil and Drae took the direct approach and flew up to drop a Stinking Cloud glyph egg on top of the tower. I have to say that this Captain wasn’t anywhere near the caliber of the last one, because when he started coughing he dove through the trap door and closed it behind him, leaving his men to suffer.
On the wall in front of this tower, there were six guardsmen. Kelroth asked them to stand aside or die and they refused. As Drae landed behind them, Kelroth sighed and said, “I’m so sorry…you were warned.” When they saw Drae in his hybrid form, the backed down and let us pass.
From there we were able to see the guildhouse of the slaver’s guild known as The Black Dawn. It was lit up in purple flames, and we could see two mariliths moving around inside the grounds. Evidently, they were harvesting souls like mad.
We finally got to the gate, which was held by our people, led by Major Suryan. Do you know him? He’s an old friend of Drae’s from the Five Shires. He had human heads mounted on the walls, which stunk from Port Dawn all the way to the Seven Heavens I’m sure. Once we got inside we could see they were mounting bodies on the other side of the gate in the same manner. Drae went out to chat with him, and then he came in to consult with Kelroth.
They decided to have Sir Tanis Vale’s group bombard the gates from the docks. The troops there really didn’t hold out that long, they ran up the white flag pretty quickly once they started getting hit. By 9am we held three gates. That was when the trouble started. When Kelroth saw the white flags he ordered the bombardment to cease. Suryan didn’t pass that order on to Vale right away. It was pretty clear to me that he did it on purpose.
Then we got the word that the slaver’s guild Utility had fallen. Evidently they had some fae there that were enslaved and couldn’t be saved. Nique will be most unhappy about that. Kelroth immediately wanted to head for the Slave Market and make his appearance. This plan was interrupted by the abrupt arrival of Sir Tanis Vale. He didn’t waste any time, he headed straight for Suryan and backhanded him, yelling “What the hell are you playing at?” Soon, everyone was yelling at each other and the command area was in total chaos. After much argument it was decided that the matter would be discussed after the battle was over, and that further argument would be a detriment to the battle plans. Sir Vale stalked away, grumbling.
Major Suryan asked Kelroth if Vale was under his jurisdiction, and Kelroth replied that he wasn’t. That didn’t make Suryan happy at all. He walked off to consult with some of his people.
Vall Woodshadow and Suwien checked in with me an hour or so thereafter. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation by the time they showed up. Kelroth was riled and things seemed to be spinning out of control, so I told them to pass the word that my people were not to participate in anything…unsavory… out there. I gave them full permission to ignore orders to do things that I figured would cause Kelroth an ulcer. I also asked them to try to recover and save any other fae they run into, as a personal favor for Nique. Vall started looking very uncomfortable during this conversation, and eventually told me that a group of Suryan’s Commandos freed a large number of slaves from an inn in Zone Five called The Golden Gnome’s Rest. They then proceeded to lock the owners and staff inside and set fire to the building. They made the Silthalion’s mark on the outside of the inn and wrote “The Fate of Slavers” in blood below it. I am fairly sure that Thangil and others were also gathering information that called Major Suryan’s activities into question during this time, as Kelroth was pulled into private conference with Sir Tanis Vale first, and then a long sequence of others sought him out. He became grimmer and grimmer as the morning passed. I hesitated to speak to him about what Vall told me, because I didn’t want to add to his troubles.
Around 11:30 we sent an ultimatum to the two guilds The Garden of Thorns and Rin Sen Cha via arrow. Rin Sen Cha surrendered almost immediately. The Thorns did not. Kelroth ordered a few warning shots from the siege engines to convince them that we were serious. It occurred to Thangil that perhaps the Thorns did not read common, and so sent a follow up message in Orcish, demanding their surrender. The Thorns were tripping over each other to surrender to us.
A little past noon, we finally heard from N’Dethiel’s group. She was incapacitated with a Feeblemind but was alive. They had secured the southern fortification, which turned out to have been the headquarters of the secret police, which as you know, was a mage guild. They took heavy losses, but had managed to capture Antioch Togar, the head of the secret police.
Elvithien and Elilmarith are missing. They went into Zone Five and never reported in. I scryed on them and they have been captured by The Three Links, I am almost positive. They seem to be unguarded, which suggests to me that the Illithid Sarkt has them under his control. I feel responsible for them, and I plan to go after them at the earliest opportunity. Practically speaking, they know far too much about the old enemy to be questioned by Sarkt.
The Shards managed to kill the governor and take control of his palace, which is good news. We sorely needed some good news. It means that reinforcements won’t be coming from that direction.
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Well, a more uncomfortable and wretched morning I cannot imagine. I just finished speaking privately with Kelroth, Fo’wyn, Y’Draesk, Thangil, Sir Vale and Cyren. Evidently the Inn incident is not the only such incident. Cyren overheard Suryan sending out his strike teams to go after specific targets in Zone Five. Although at first we suspected looting, it turns out that they were sent to murder the noble families in their homes.
After we all shared information that we had gathered on Suryan’s activities, Kelroth was furious. Atrocities have been committed in his name, signed with his mark, all over the city. Drae asked for the chance to speak with his old friend and went to find him, to try to convince him to call back his strike teams. They went into a side room for privacy, but it was none too private. We could all hear what they said to each other.
Suryan revealed that his family had been killed or kidnapped by slavers many years ago, and his strike teams are men and women hand picked for the same background. They all have personal reasons to hate the slavers and everything this foul city stands for. They came south to take their retribution, and Suryan arranged things so that regardless of what we do to him, they all get their chance at personal revenge. There is no recall message or password. He clearly knew what he was doing. He and Y’Draesk quarreled cruelly, and Kelroth finally ordered Suryan’s arrest. He was taken in chains to The Wrath of Korethor, after violently challenging Sir Vale to duel, calling him a coward if he refused. Sir Vale has accepted the duel with the caveat that it will be once the battle is over, per Kelroth’s request.
Kelroth now passionately desires to go and hunt down these strike teams. However, we still have one guild that has not fallen, or even responded to our siege of the city: Neex Hist Trading remains untouched. I am wild to hunt down The Three Links and rescue Elvithien and Elilmarith. I do not know what course of these three we shall take, or even if another will present itself in due course. Just know that whatever road we take, you have my love.

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Through the Looking Glass Darkly, Part II: I'm a Little Tea-Pot
05/28/5055

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Seemingly defeated at the hands of the Governor of Port Dawn, can our heroes escape and complete their mission?

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Through the Looking Glass Darkly
05/28/5055

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The Shards make their assault on the Governor’s Palace.

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The Hammer of the Elves, Part II: Wrath of the Iron God
05/29/5055

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The invasion of Port Dawn begins! The first challenge awaits our heroes – all 200’ of it!

(Last time) Sitting aboard “The Wrath of Korethor”, we looked up at the moon and there was a crescent moon on either side, mimicking Kelroth’s Silthalion symbol.

To be Continued…

We sat aboard the ship “The Wrath of Korethor” and debated our next course of action. Included in our planning session was the Major Ellrohir Suryan, a high elf who leads approximately 200 troops, all quartered on the ship “Curian’s Anvil”. He is an old friend of Y’Draesk’s…evidently they are old drinking buddies. All the way down, he and Drae drank and carried on, telling old war stories. Kelroth joined them, but did not drink, as he was purifying himself for the battle.
Another friendly face in the sessions was that of Sir Tanis Vale, leader of 50 Defenders of the Seldarine, also quartered on “Curian’s Anvil”. Sir Tanis Vale is a half elven member of the Defenders, fairly high ranking, and a close personal friend of his Lord High Holier-Than-Me Ellantra. They call him “The Liberator”, and boy is he a bundle of laughs (NOT!). His stinking celestial owl keeps following me around and glaring at me. This guy is really starting to get on my last nerve. Jerk!
Other resources we find we have include: twelve BattleWizards throughout the force, capable of using up to 6th level spells and twenty BattleClerics capable of using up to 5th level spells.
No additional word from the Shards. I guess they know the plan. On the 29th, at 3:30am, we all get up and eat a Heroes’ Feast, courtesy of Fo’wyn. Those included were our entire group, N’Dethiel and her Heartguard and the Major Ellrohir Suryan. We didn’t tell Sir Tanis Vale. Heh.
At 4:50am the Heartguard left to attack the southern fortification, and by 5:10am we are aboard “Curian’s Anvil”. A message from Elvithien, one of my Eldar, is waiting for us when we arrive; “Heavy silt in harbor waters, high levels of sauhaugin activity.”
Around 5:40 we receive messages from “The Wrath of Korethor”. Their giant eagle spotters indicated that fires have been seen in the city at four of the five armaments we were aware of, plus two additional spots. Apparently, there were two hidden fortification in line with the others. Also, fires have been seen at the southern fortification. The final fortification isn’t on fire yet.
At 6:05am additional fires were seen in the city as the sun rises. Looking towards the southern fortification, we can see a large non-humanoid figure moving back and forth. After some study we realize it is an animated siege engine that has been set on fire by N’Dethiel’s team. As we watch, the burning siege engine falls off the cliff, still firing. Kelroth, knowing the full attack is about to begin, sends a glyph egg with a consecrated cloudkill up with a giant eagle rider, in case any of the fortifications start firing on us.
Eventually, we receive another message from my Eldar; “Three out of four targets accounted for, fourth target unassailable at this time, do not be fooled by illusions.” It seems that someone has tried to fool us into thinking the fourth target is also on fire.
Just as the ships are heading full speed into the harbor, the waters start to swell and toss. We watch in horror as the great Iron Golem that disappeared from Vinya Avignon rises up from under the waters. Immediately the Golem begins laying waste to our fleet. Within minutes, two ranks of eagles are down because the Golem had invisible troops on gliders in the air. It booms incomprehensible things at us, calling the elves infidels and the like while it sinks ship after ship. That’s when we spring into action. (Don’t you just love that phrase?)
Using Dimension Door and Fly spells, we approach the Golem. When Knock and Limited Wish fail to get us inside, Drae tries to break apart the hatch into the golem using his special sword, which backfires spectacularly. His sword doesn’t like the golem at all, and screamed when it connected. Fo’wyn saves the day, opening the hatch with a turn attempt.
Once inside we are forced to fight our way past the various defenders. A gnome escapes, and we follow him into a room with a tunnel running up and down, clearly an elevator. We also get into the elevator and make it into another room with multiple prisoners. They are imprisoned in clear tubes and we see a dead dinosaur, a wood elven female, a human male and one tube is filled entirely with green fog.
As we examine the room, the tubes release their prisoners. When the green fog is released, it turns into a chaos beast. We defeat it, not without some discomfort. It smacked me but thankfully I resisted it unusual power. The wood elven female just tries to hide. The human male attacks us madly, chewing on Y’Draesk’s arm with its blunt teeth. It is quickly discovered that any contact made to this naked human harms the weapon rather than doing it damage. We dispel him, returning him to his real form, that of a Remorhaz! After some frantic moments, with Drae screaming at Kelroth, “Dimension Door me the fuck out of here!” I manage to kill the creature with a Disintegrate spell. Leaving the wood elf to her gibbering madness, we continue looking for the control panels for this machine.
We do use Dimension Door to go up a level, where we locate the control area. We are now in the shoulders. The control area is up another set of steps, in the head. Looking to either side, we can clearly see the shoulder joints. At the top of the steps is a large stone golem.
Y’Draesk borrowed Fo’wyn’s Scarab of Golemsbane and ran up the stairs to confront the golem. Thangil chose to fly up. The rest of us were pinned at the bottom of the stairs by a caster, who popped down somehow (DD?) from the control room. Behind the stone golem were several gnomes at controls, commanded by a half-orc cleric of Erythnul. This cleric cast spells, including Forcecage on Y’Draesk, after which he moved to engage Thangil.
Meanwhile, below stairs we were all fighting the gnome caster. He managed to Feeblemind me, but luckily Fo’wyn stepped up with a Heal, which corrected the problem.
Y’Draesk was able to determine there was someone invisible moving around in the control room by using his Scent ability, but not pinpoint the person. Kelroth got rid of the Forcecage, allowing him to finish his opponent. Then Y’Draesk and one of the gnomes got hit with a Chain Lightning from the invisible caster, Xentarich. Fo’wyn cast Silence on a fishhook and tossed it into the control room to prevent the invisible caster from casting any more spells. Thangil defeated the evil cleric.
Drae, Thangil and I went on up into the control room, looking for the caster. The actual control room was looking out of the mouth through a red lens or barrier, which was odd. Drae started sniffing around the room, trying to pinpoint the caster’s location. He went up into the head, where he saw a bedroom with a huge glowing gem in the middle and what looked like a dancing pole near the bed. A huge booming voice in the bedroom said “There’s an abyssal werewolf inside me!” and “Foul beast begone!” Drae immediately came back down, and Kelroth and Fo’wyn went up to try to talk to the Colossus.
Down in the control room, we can clearly see Xentarich outside the red barrier unrolling a flying carpet. He grinned at us and blew us kisses. Drae and I popped out to the other side of the red lens to join him. Xentarich flew out of the mouth as it closed, trapping us inside.
Kelroth and Fo’wyn were desperately talking, trying to convince the Colossus that it shouldn’t be fighting against the Elves. Eventually, the Colossus cried out “Stop all hostilities!” in its booming voice, and Drae and I were deafened. Then it started to get really hot in that mouth.
The Colossus explains to Kelroth and Fo’wyn that this is an artifact of Heironeous. It is powered by the spirit of a cleric of Heironeous and was buried for many years, until its friend Xentarich dug it out. Now it is fighting against the evil of the Elves, who have come to oppress this land. It happens to mention at this point that it is going to incinerate the evil werewolf.
When all manner of diplomacy has failed, and they realize they cannot turn the artifact against Xentarich, they go down and retrieve the head and holy symbol of the half-orc priest killed by Thangil. This is when they discover that the Colossus cannot “see” inside itself. This fairly convincing argument causes the Colossus much distress. Drae and I manage to fly out of the mouth when the Colossus cries out, and by flying to the middle of his back, we are able to avoid being squashed by a giant hand.
Kelroth and Fo’wyn try to convince him to go to Keloania, but instead he chooses to attach the Temple of Hextor that exists in Port Dawn. He bids his new friends leave, so they will not be killed. They gather up as many books from the bookshelves as possible in a bed sheet and they all flee the Colossus as he begins to march into the city. Once he reaches the Temple, he explodes, causing massive amounts of damage to the city around the Temple. The Temple itself is totally destroyed.
As quickly as possible we all fly towards the shore, before our various fly spells wear out. Thangil carries Kelroth and Drae carries Fo’wyn, while I fly under my own power.

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Shardz Rool
05/17 thru 05/28/5055

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The Shards have been asked to act as a strike team against the Governor and his staff during the elven invasion of Port Dawn.

On the 17th of Lothron, 2055, a War Council is held to lay out the final plans for the strike against Port Dawn and its corrupt governor, and the Company of Shards learn of the part that they will play in this historic event. Over the next two days, the elven navy will be repairing their ships, which will then set sail for Vinya Avignon on Lothron 20, a trip expected to take about a week. Once there, they will take on troops, and then head for Port Dawn, where they will use gates to lay siege to the city.

The role of our intrepid heros will be to get into Port Dawn ahead of the elven fleet to gather intelligence and identify targets, and then in conjunction with the elven fleet’s attack they will make a strike for the governor and his staff. Capture is preferred, but dead is acceptable.

So on the evening of Lothron 18, Nique casts a Stormwalk to transport the group to the Wyrmwood Forest outside of Port Dawn. Indeed, as chance would have it, our heroes know this place well, for it was here during the The Raging of the Green that they met their mercenary counterparts.

This time, however, the area appears to be secure. Seeking to get a lay of the land, Nique performs a Commune with Nature, and learns that there is a group of 60-70 people in a 12-mile area, and another group of about 30 individuals about 6-8 miles to the northwest. However, nobody appears to be present closer than a mile. Additionally, she learns that there is a powerful unnatural creature far to the west, [fortunately] moving to the west. Buildings are scattered along the roadside.

The group begins to make their way toward the city, but rest at a hillock to wait while Nique seeks to meet with other druids. She finds a Shimmering Swarm, which she asks about other druids in the area. It leads her to them, and she finds herself in a clearing with a circle of glowing mushrooms. Suddenly, a dark-haired half-elven woman steps out of a tree.

She and Nique have a polite conversation, and the half-elf introduces herself as Ofera. Nique explains that she is seeking permission for the group to pass through the forest. She is taken to speak with “Mother,” who turns out to be a green hag who rides a tyrannosaur.

Ofera bows to Mother, who then beckons Nique to come closer. “What is your name?” the hag asks. “Snow,” our friend replies. “Is it?,” the hag says, perhaps a bit skeptical. “What are you doing here?” Nique says that “my friends want to do business in the city.” She goes on to explain that she was seeking permission for the group to pass through the forest, and “Ofera suggested speaking with you. In return, we offer to help with searching for druids that have been taken as slaves.”

The hag wants to see Nique’s scimitar – the precious gift from Coramorphus, destined for Nique before she was even born, lovingly held for her by Lillend, and delivered by Yestamir (as recounted in The Forge of the Maker) – but the scimitar does not wish it. The hag scowls at the rebuttal, but agrees to let the group pass. “But,” she says, “tell the Speaker her spies are not welcome here.” “We are no spies,” Nique responds, “we only wanted to let you know we were passing through.” As a final thanks for permission to pass through the forest, Nique offers some cheese to the druidic group.

Upon returning to the Shards and describing her encounter with the druids, Pr’Gillis recognizes the description of the hag as like the one he met at the governor’s party in Rising Tide.

The group of heroes passes through Wyrmwood, and makes their way towards Port Dawn. As they get close, Yestamir puts up a Remote View Trap as a precaution, and joins the Shards together in a Mind Link. When they get to the city, they use a combination of potions and spells to fly invisibly over the city wall, where they are met with the sight of bonfires of battle briars being burned alive. Since they are flying and invisible, they also decide to take the opportunity to do additional reconnaissance around the city, and they notice a lot of activity on a private dock and secondary gate, and squads doing drills. They also notice that there appear to be a lot of hawks, falcons and ravens in the area.

The group rejoins at the Blue something Bar, although exactly what was blue must remain a mystery, for the sign is so old, dirty and smudged as to be unreadable in many places – so the full name is lost to memory. They all land on the rooftop and make their way down the stairs, to end up at a different establishment: the Flatulent Ogre, where, for some inexplicable reason, they try the daily blue plate special: rat stew. They decide to move on. However, as is the case with seedy dives such as this, they have caught the attention of five men who think they see an easy mark, and are followed. Umbrecrom notices the men starting to follow, raises to his full height, and then leans over and says simply “I think you can take us.” Wisely, the men reconsider their plans and sit down.

And so our intrepid adventurers move on to the Platinum Collar – a place with a much better clientele; it even carries a cover charge of a silver each for them to get in. They try the drink special of the evening: Terran Brandy. A potent alcohol which they sadly learn later is distilled from the essence of dying fey. Alas, although this is a “better” establishment, it is still Port Dawn, and the favored drinks reflect that as well.

They notice a party of Larooshan sailors at a nearby table, and quickly devise a cover story as a means of striking up a conversation: Yestamir and Umbrecrom met up with Quingle at their hotel, and Quingle had heard this was a good place to meet people, and as they are looking to be hired as independent adventures, they decided to try it out.

A hearty conversation is soon struck up, and the three sailors eventually order three Tastes of Agonies. As they learn to their horror later, Agony, also called Liquid Pain, is a potent alcohol, and is the distilled essence of pain, extracted during the torture of victims. Yestamir is able to get a quick reading of their thoughts, where he learns that these three are the officers of the ship assigned to protect the governor. The captain’s name is Norsan, and the other two are the first and second mates, one of whom has a second Agony and passes out.

Eventually the group moves to a private room, where the captain does, indeed, tell the Shards that he is the captain of the ship. Yestamir, still holding up the charade, orders two potent Lorian port wines, and two more Agonies for the sailors. Frederic (the other mate) drinks one, and promptly passes out. The captain agrees to the other Agony – but only if Yestamir joins him in having one as well. So Quingle places the order for Yestamir’s Agony, but when it arrives he quickly trades it for an illusory replica, hiding the original in a vial in his pocket. The captain drinks his Agony, and passes out, thus allowing Yestamir plenty of time to begin a mind probe.

And so the evening draws to a close. Since they are the only ones to remain conscious, the Shards are presented with the check, which comes to a healthy 3105 gp, plus gratuity! Obviously a bit more than they had planned on. Yestamir uses the scroll tube to send a message to the fleet commanders to have 5000 gp sent to us, and then goes out to speak with the manager – a tiefling named Peorian Winsome who, it appears, is growing more and more skeptical of the group’s ability to settle their bill. Quingle notices that half the “patrons” are actually armed men, and the maitre ‘d is using illusions to make them appear as guests.

Eventually a shabbily dressed halfling (Razzo Deftfoot) arrives with a package for Yestamir. A check by Quingle shows the work of grey elven illusions, probably an Eldar. The package is filled with 200, 50 gp gemstones (a 10,000 gp value total), out of which Yestamir counts 4000 gp worth to the manager, who suddenly becomes very conciliatory. They also arrange for the sailors to get back to their ship. But a quick check of Detect Magic shows the captain is wearing a magical amulet, gloves, ring and boots; the first mate has a magical necklace (shaped like a sword) and a ring; and the second mate has a magical belt.

They make their way to a recommended inn – the Three Orbs – and use their scroll tube to report to the Raptors. They are given the code words for the operation: “xylophone” for the plan is called off, and “badger” for the plan is to go forward. Also, they are told to try to make the attack look as if it came from the Circle. Finally they are instructed to keep an eye out for a cleric.

Lothron 19 begins their days of observing, information gathering, reporting back via the scroll tube, and waiting for word from the fleet. Quingle disguises himself as a human and goes out to see what he can find out. He heads down to the docks, where he sees many private armies of the slave guilds, and hears that there is friction between them. He also hears about a coming raid at the Three Orbs to be led by Larooshan marines, troops and the Circle.

So on Lothron 20 they move to a different inn. Yestamir dyes his hair dark to avoid any additional attention the normally blue color may attract.

Lothron 21 sees lots of trouble in the streets. A prominent slave guild leader was assassinated during the night, and the city guard has been particularly harsh in attempting to keep order, including summary executions for seemingly minor infractions. Later on the 21st, a schooner flying Larooshan colors is seeing going straight to the governor’s warship

Early on Lothron 22, posters start going up around the city announcing – by the governor’s order – that there is a raise in the bounty for battle briars to 500 gp.

On Lothron 23 our group of heroes discovers that one of the people who regularly goes to the governor’s mansion matches the description of a Lucian Godswrath.

Lothron 24 sees a whale boat leaving from the warship to the governor’s mansion, rowed by marines. Later that evening, a fire is seen in the mansion.

On Lothron 25 Nique does a Chain of Eyes on a guard in order to see into the mansion. Eventually she sees captain Norsan, who appears very happy. She redirects the chain to him, so she is now seeing what he sees. She witnesses him going back to his ship, and going down into the hold, where he takes out a box and opens it. Which then explodes, causing the ship to sink. Later that evening, the governor announces that elven assassins were responsible for the destruction of the warship.

On Lothron 27 Quingle goes to investigate something that Nique had noticed earlier. There is a spot on the cliffs below the governor’s mansion where she had noticed water emerging. So he polymorphs into a seagull and flies out to check it out. It turns out to be a cave of unworked stone, covered over by an illusion. When Quingle reports on what he found, the party realizes that when the time comes to take on the governor, this may be a good entry place for getting into the mansion. Later that evening, the governor delivers another propaganda statement by announcing the victory of the pirate fleet over the elves. He also eliminates the tax on two of the slaver guilds. The next morning, there are only six guilds remaining.

Lothron 29: Badger

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The Taste of the River Lethe is Bitter
05/16/5055

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In the swirling fury of naval warfare, the Nethminion Rising may have just discovered the most important target of all. A dark barge, heavy with canons, skirting the edge of the battle. What is it’s purpose?


The lights in the upper hall of Ost Lachrunyanen promise to burn late tonight as the Warlord, His Highness Prince Celethor Carnen, holds a council of war. General Aglarndak Naurloth, Admiral Niall Moonblessing, Prince Kelroth Carnen, the Earl of Greycliff, Duchess Eqximiye Carlack, Speaker of the Eldar and Lord Telandir Ellantra of the Defenders of the Seldarine fill out the upper portion of the assembly. Also present are the Baronet d’Affenwood, Fo’wyn Tiranyaare, representing the Church of the Seldarine, Lord Councilor Yestamir Carnen and Sir Thangil Elendu, Knight of Fennas Ear. Various attendant staff and officers circulate as well, taking notes, and providing charts and reports. Overseeing food and drink for all is the redoubtable Mistress Yolanda Butterburr and the bustling kitchen staff of the Ost.

As everyone settles in their seats and is being served, Celethor frowns at the Speaker and nods in her direction.

“Lady Carlack, why are they here?”

Eqximiye turns and looks at the remaining members of the Company of Shards, including the newly resurrected Nique and Umbrecrom, who are seated along the wall behind her. Smiling prettily, the Speaker for the Eldar glances back once more at the Warlord.

“They’re my staff.”

“And him?” The Prince nods significantly at Y’Draesk.

“He’s temporarily acting as my secretary.” She looks at Y’Draesk pointedly. “You can write, can’t you?"

Shaking his head, Celethor sighs and raps his knuckles loudly on the tabletop, calling for attention.

“Alright everyone, let’s get this started. Yesterday we successfully repelled the largest naval force assembled in nearly three centuries. Well done.”

He pauses, allowing the room’s occupants to express their jubilance with grins, applause, enthusiastic pounding of backs and resounding cheers. Celethor waits patiently for the furvor to die, his expression carefully neutral. After a few minutes he raises his voice and continues, the room quieting rapidly.

“Yes, yes! You all have every right to savor this victory! But it was not accomplished without substantial loss.” Gathering the room with his eyes, he says, “Fourteen naval ships now rest in Deep Sashelas’ domain, including the Brilliant Starshine and all her hands. That’s nearly half of our effective navy. The losses among the civilian vessels that were impressed or volunteered in the defense of Silmaros Bay number in the dozens. Damaged vessels in the scores. It will be weeks before we have a thorough assessment of casualties. And yet, the damage inflicted upon the enemy was even more grievous. Admiral Moonblessing?"

Taking up a scrap of parchment, the high elf rises and studies it for moment with her remaining eye.

’’My Lord, we estimate forty-two ships sunk, and another twenty-eight heavily damaged. We feel those numbers are pretty solid and it accounts for nearly sixty percent of their forces. Take into account that their losses were largely what served as their ships-of-the-line and the picture looks even better. Six of those vessels were command ships. We have confirmed kills on Captains Grim Bittal, Quogg, and Markosian, and while Black Annie is unaccounted for, her ship was confirmed destroyed as it tried to break engagement with the Wrath of Korathor. Additionally, N’Dethiel’s strike team captured Nyvsh Dirg and Umragig Bloodrose! That’s six of the big fish neutralized. The Foamfollower and the Wavespinner, along with half a dozen wingships have been formed into a battle group that is even now running down the scattered ships that fled the battle. We expect those figures to rise."

The admiral smiles tightly, bows her head to the warlord and returns to her seat.

“Thank you, Naill.” The Prince flashes a brief smile and addresses the room. “Lords and Ladies, we can safely say that the backs of the Corsair Kings have been broken. Once a full assessment of the engagement is prepared, my staff will see that copies are made available to you all.”

Waiting until the cheers die down once more, Celethor looks next to his brother, Kelroth. “Kel? Give us quick summary of your team’s action yesterday?”

Prince Kelroth rises and looks thoughtfully around the assembly. He smiles at his brother and asks, “Just the sea battle? Or do you wish a recap of the land battle too?”

After a moment’s consideration, the Warlord shakes his head. “Let’s leave that as a separate matter for now, I’ll brief those that need to know the details later.”

Kelroth nods and continues his report.

“I and my party and noble guests, teleported to our staging vessel, The Nethminion Rising, from which we would sally forth, with the orders to attack high value targets of opportunity. The ship was under attack at the time from sahuagin and foundering in a gale. We cleared the ship of attackers and put the ship in order to continue the battle with the pirates. Shortly, we observed a large, barge like vessel, that we had been told was part of the pirate fleet, and saw it severely damage a elven heavy warship that was attempting to close with it. Using magiks to conceal ourselves from it, we closed with the barge. Divinations told us that the ship was at the center of a vast underwater army of the undead that was avoiding the majority of the sea battle. This action led us to believe that this vessel had some special purpose to which the pirate fleet itself might be but a ruse. The decision was made to board, disable, or scuttle the barge as best we could. Using a magik phantom of the Nethminion Rising as a diversion, we boarded and engage elements of the crew of the barge, which were all undead, save one. That one was him whom we have come to know as Lucian Godswrath. While we were fighting with the Captain and crew of the barge, my goodly nephew Yestamir, at great peril, made his way around the outside of the ship to the open portholes where their weapons would issue forth fire and missles. Yestamir, from earlier contact with smaller versions of these weapons, knew that they could be caused to malfunction. Seeing the opportunity, he went through the opening, did ignite the charges that were stored at ready for the weapons, with the hope of causing a fire. The resulting conflagration, caused the remaining munition to explode, destroying the deck the weapons sit on, and the whole side of the ship! Sensing opportunity, he then made his way to the other side of the ship, and repeated his attack with similar results. This caused the ultimate destruction of the vessel. Before this, the remainder of the my party dispatched the bulk of the command crew of the barge, and left before the ship sank. We now know one of the crew was a banshee."

The room waits in pensive silence as Kelroth pauses a moment to take a sip of his wine.

“Others we are speculating on but think that their kind have not been seen since the First Children of Coramorphus have walked among us. Lucian Godswrath escaped before the ship sank. He imparted to us that ‘This changes nothing.’ From our estimation, we believe that this ship’s target was Ty’Athalael, the city of our cousins, the sea elves. At that point, having expended the majority of our spell battery, taken significant casualties, and finding ourselves considerably distanced from the rest of the fleet in a damaged vessel, we withdrew as best we could and contacted the flagship for further orders."

As the Earl sits, many an eye in the chamber shine with unasked questions, yet Celethor holds up his hand and bids them hold off until all reports are completed. He gestures to include his fellow Warlords, General Naurloth and Lord Ellantra.

“We three have been charged by the Regent and the High Council to lead our people into war. Yesterday was but the first major action. While a deadly blade aimed at the heart of the realm has been turned, it now falls upon us to take the offensive. Vinya Avignon is currently under siege and Lord Ellantra departs this evening to take charge and spring the trap that has been long in the planning. Over the past year, we’ve deliberately allowed Vinya to be undermanned in the hopes of drawing out the Syndec’s troops and now, at last, they’ve taken the bait. Last fall, a pair of permanent teleport arches provided by the Earl of Greycliffe were erected. One deep in the defensive works of Vinya and the other in Fennas Ear, in the heart of our main garrison. With the dawn, the Larooshan commanders will find not a scant eight score green defenders manning the walls. Instead they shall discover eighteen hundred seasoned troops, rangers and battle mages waiting to bid them to break their fast! In addition, two hundred archers and five score heavy Keloanian cavalry are in position along the border of the Wyrmwood to the south of their army. Vinya Avignon’s defense lies in the capable hands of the Defenders of the Seldarine.”

Telandir Ellantra bows his head to his Prince and Warlord. “We shall not fail you, my Lord.”

“Do not fail the quessir, Telandir.” Replies the Warlord solemnly. Looking at the map of the coast, Celethor makes a deft gesture and a slim dagger rises to hover above the colorful spread of parchment.

“The time has come to strike at the source of this pestilence.” Closing his fist, the blade suddenly plummets, embedding itself deep in the table beneath the map.

“Port Dawn!”

For several minutes nothing can be heard in the chamber over the cheers.

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Armada
05/16/5055

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Allied with the Syndec of Laroosh, the Corsair Kings lead the largest pirate fleet ever assembled against the elves of Fenis Ear. Lured by the promise of booty, slaves and violence, they sail northward as the elves scramble to meet them.

“Relax. Have a coffee bean.” – Yestamir Carnen

The troop of Elven archers of Fennes Ear that surrounded the Shards were quick to identify Yestamir Carnen and were quicker to escort him and his group to the palace shortly after 11:30 in the evening where his uncle, the Duke Celethor Carnen had a Sending spell cast to Mirian, the seneschal of his younger brother Kelroth the Earl of Greycliffe’s home, Ost Lachrunyanen. As one of the three Elven warlords, Celethor needed to make sure vital information flowed between their commanders, keeping them appraised of all fronts of the war, and distributing resources as they presented themselves.

“Status not changed, fighting in Jawarl. ASAP- let know if rejoining the fight ‘Nethminion Rising’. Shards forwarded to Ost.”

The Elves knowing of the ensuing pirate assault due to the information Quingle Gemstone was able to supply from Pr’Gillis’s reconnaissance of the Syndec’s war-party in Laroosh, had set to release the naval forces they had been secretly constructing since just after the costly defeat of the Giant armies. The pirates wouldn’t descend upon a hapless Jawarl Avignon, but would be met at sea by an advanced fleet of Elven warships.

The return message that the Sending spell provided suggested that the Shards could be sent to the ‘Nethminion Rising’ in the morning just before sunrise which was about the time the battle was expected to be engaged.

While at the palace Baelavel turned to Nique and announced “We have unfinished business.”

Lord Celethor offered to resupply the Shards as their earlier mission depleted some of their equipment and supplies. Umbrecrom who had sacrificed the composite bow and masterwork arrows he had crafted from the Minotaur rack of a defeated foe, was given a replacement only half as powerful. Elves had little reason to make weapons they weren’t equipped to use and could only offer what would almost be of the mightiest quality they had, along with a quiver of 50 silver masterwork arrows to be divided among the Shards and Raptors for any who might have use of them. The Stonechild presented 2 waterskins full of the water he acquired while on the plane of Arvendor in the hopes that the alchemists could use it as a component for Archaic Water or some equally powerful concoction.

They were then instructed to put on special bracelets that the Warlord had given them. He led the Shards deep into the palace past the lower levels into the dungeons down to the lowest level where they entered a cell. The Warlord opened the secret concealed door that led into a corridor that ended in a port cell. The room was specially constructed as a permanent teleport chamber that would link to another in Laiore. They were instructed to remove their bracelets.

“If you come back this way, don’t go beyond this room. Someone will come for you.” Taking the bracelets Lord Celethor left.

The Shards were teleported to Laiore, the heart of the Elven kingdom, and were received by Celeron another Brother of the Duke’s.

Nique needed to go to the Grove of the Tree, and Yestamir decided to make a report to his delegation from Amcarofarne. Baelavel accompanied Nique and Nelki to the tree while Umbrecrom went with Yestamir who makes his report and bids it to be forwarded to the King back in his homeland. Yestamir then has the notion to visit Sullaren the Elder, holder of the Architect’s seat because Sullaren had know his mother and he wished to pay his respects before duty propelled him beyond the opportunity. The other Elves they passed directed them to the living home of the venerable Elf. He held the seat of the Architect for very good reason. His home was fashioned within and around the geology and flora of a great tree, it seemed like a great morphic sculpture crafted around the themes of beauty, comfort and welcoming. Even the furniture grown from the tree itself in some places, carved from the exposed stone in others carried through rhythms that flowed through the environ of Sullaren the Elder. At the door they were welcomed and the servant, though it was late, woke the aged Elf so that he might visit with his new guests. They were soon introduced, and refreshments were ordered.

Yestamir stressing the significance of his gratitude mentioned “We prepare for battle.” in reference to the naval assault they would attend before dawn. Sullaren nodded solemnly, having been present at the council moot that voted to go to war against Laroosh, was likely someone who was privy to very rarified information on that effort.

“Bring the good stuff.” he addressed the servant with a quiet hush.

The repast that ensued was no late night snack, but courses of the finest either Yestamir or Umbrecrom found hard to believe he just had on hand. Tender meats, warm breads, sauces that seemed as flavorful as if they had just been made. Exquisite fruits, some even out of season for months, vegetables that neither were familiar with, there were even mushrooms that Umbrecrom would never be able to identify. The wine was not just a drink but an event- a sparkling amber, almost luminescent drink that Yestamir thought was something like Elven Dreamwine. It had the same effect, rather than leading its imbiber to a wonderful addled stupor as most wines, Dreamwine brought to mind memories, some long forgotten, of all the best feelings one had ever experienced. At some point Nique and Nelki had joined them, and the Sabertooth Tiger was accommodated both by the servant and Umbrecrom who would feed him from the table when Nique was otherwise occupied. Baelavel had returned with Nique. The Nimblewright had the magic of its disguise active, and joined in the meal so as to not cause suspicion. Sullaren who hardly spoke with the towering Stonechild Yestamir had brought, fell into easy discussion with the Elf-like Baelavel. It wasn’t long when Baelavel matter of factly yet briefly revealed itself as a Nimblewright construct to the doting Architect. He requested to reveal itself again so that he might inspect her a bit because he was quite curious, dismissing completely the Heroes’ Feast that had been presented to his guests.

“Galenial did a nice job… Are you self aware?”

“Yes.” the construct replied.

“How do you feel about that?” his mind a race with endless questions parsing which might be the most appropriate.

Nique aware of what was transpiring then spoke briefly and very quietly to Baelavel letting it know that it shouldn’t reveal her home or the Astral Cannon, but that if she wanted to she could speak with Sullaren for as long as it wanted. Given that she was still damaged from the earlier encounter that left her two very considerable dents in her torso, and the Architect’s voracious curiosity it was decided that Baelavel would stay with Sullaren to be repaired. There simply was no one in the kingdom more qualified to make the repairs.
In due time the Heroes’ Feast was finished. Although they had sample delicacies, ate to their fill and beyond, they were not discomforted by having had too much. There was magic in those beans… and everything else. They left the home of the Architect who still chatted with Baelavel and would likely do so for some hours yet to come.

Nique cast the spell Storm Walk which first created twin storms over where she was and where she wanted to go- the home of Lord Kelroth the Earl of Greycliffe, Ost Lachrunyanen, and then imparted the ability to walk into the air to her and her companions, who then stepped into the sky and walked into the heart of the raging storm. At the Ost they walked out of the heart of that raging storm to descend to the waiting guards on the roof of one of the castes towers. They were expected, and were ushered into Lord Kelroth’s dining hall, where the Raptor’s cleric in residence Fo’wyn Tiranyaare, earthly servant to Labelas Enoreth, had just shortly before cast a Heroes Feast for the preparation of their group as well as Pr’Gillis (who had been resurrected at his mother’s expense), Quingle, and Malachitrix who would also be attending the pirate raid. Nique and her group waited for the Raptors to finish their meal, since once it was started they couldn’t stop for risk of loosing the magic.

Introductions were then made, special care being taken by Y’Draesk R’rgelnev, a Wood Elf who revealed his lyncathropic infection so that he might not become a target after having transformed into a Werewolf once the fighting began. He also debriefed the just arrived Shards on recent history and the pirate mission. Umbrecrom offered the silver masterwork arrows Celethor had gifted them giving 5 to Yestamir, 5 to Nique, 10 to Fo’wyn, 10 to Y’Draesk, leaving himself with 20. Nique also had supplies she offered out.

There was a brief discussion on the plan of attack, Yestamir offering to establish a mind-link between everyone so as to co-ordinate their efforts. Quingle cast a Sending to the ship’s Captain to arrange their arrival that morning. Everyone then rested, the Elves tranced so that they could be refreshed for preparing their spells and psionic abilities. Although Nique’s storm dissipated after their arrival, there was a larger storm brewing far off in the east. There was a full moon that night.

Lothron 116, 5055 at 9:30 in the morning everyone woke and prepared as they had to. Kelroth and the other wizards studying from their spellbooks, Fo’wyn praying to Labelas, Y’Draesk covering up his demon eye, because no one wanted to see that when they were eating.

Kelroth began to scry on the ‘Nethminion Rising’ so that he might locate it to know where to teleport to. Not being that familiar with the ship, he failed. Eqximiye tried and failed also. She then decided it would be easier to scry on the first mate, and succeeded. He was in the water made choppy by the strong winds, because the crew was already fighting, and he was an early victim. Eqximiye moved her scry back to see that some were fighting to keep the ship afloat, and that an enemy had engaged it. Yestamir established his psionic mind-link with all the Raptors and Shards. Kelroth demanded only 5 rounds of prepatory spells as it would seem they were already too late. Pr’Gillis psionically activated his ability of Inertial Armor which oddly made him smell of peanuts and roses. His Force-screen power brought an aroma of roast chicken. Umbrecrom could not specifically remember the Half-Dragon eating any roast chicken during his Heroes’ Feast, thinking the strange Monk may have had a digestive problem because of the strange surface world food. Sometimes that happens to the Stonechild. Nique drew the scimitar which had been gifted to her by the founder of the Eldar.

“Are we going to fight?” a disquieting disembodied voice hissed.

“Yes!” she replied.

Thangil a Wood Elven Ranger/Lion of Talisid addressed the scimitar, “What is your name?”

“Frostwind” came the disembodied reply. Nique then cast a Camouflage spell on everyone.
They assembled into three groups and began to teleport away.

Many of the crew were in the water, and there were Sahuagin, scaled sea creatures that walked like men, all over. The wind was gusting at 50 mph. The seas were rough, the ship adrift. The two groups battled for 8 rounds before a swell of ocean water swept over the rails and cleared away the remaining creatures, as well as the dying and the dead.

Yestamir who was blown far off the port side saw a barge that looked to be made of brick engaging an Elven warship- a series of explosions erupting from the enemy vessel followed near-instantly by a series of explosions that rip along the warship, devastating it in a moment. The barge measured 120′×50′ and rode 15’ out of the water. There were 2 staggered rows of oars. Above the oars were square ports & the barge moved at 100’/r.
As Yestamir helped to patch ‘Nethminion Rising’ the winds decreased until they were considered only a strong wind.

A Sending was sent to Celethor to let him know how things stood. It was still too choppy to see much of the navy or the pirate vessels so repair to the ship was the immediate concern. They approached the main battle from the south, and the barge looked to be the only target of opportunity along the way. The weather by this point had dropped down another category.
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Sleepless in the Astral
05/05 thur 05/15/5055

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Lost in the vastness of the astral plane, our heroes look for a filling station so they can ask for directions.


Chapter the first- Interlude

The dull ache of fatigue gnawed at the Shards who fled from their encounter with Tilit and his fellow mercenaries. They had not slept for over a day at this point. It may have been several days for it is difficult to gauge the passing of time within the astral plane. You don’t need to eat or even breathe, and sages argue that one does not even age while within the dimension. The lay observer acknowledge the point upon the anecdotal evidence of traversing to other planes that are not thought to be timeless. If you have been astral for a long while you emerge from it ravenous, tired, and the effects of aging for a considerable amount of time can be seen in the growth of hair and the like.
The Druid Nique Helin decided that someone should be in respectable shape should misfortune strike them while they were incapable of acquiring the rest they needed. She cast both a cure serious wounds spell which magically healed wounds and a lesser restoration which erased the effects of fatigue from the Stonechild Barbarian Umbrecrom Iron Rage. It was a small misfortune that she couldn’t have prepared more of the fatigue-ending spells the day before when she decided what her spell battery for the day was going to consist of. Had she known their day was going to stretch into two and deliver them to the astral plane, she surely would have. She continued to administer a cure light wounds spell- lesser versions of the one she cast on Umbrecrom- upon Yestamir Carnen the Psion and for herself drinking a magical elixir infused with the magic of such a spell commonly referred to as a potion of healing. Although their bodies mended, the fatigue plagued them regardless.
They moved by the power of thought, deciding on a direction and moving that way. Being lost it mattered little in which direction they went, they looked for a magical color pool- the dimensional gateways that led to other dimensions. Each dimension exhibited a different color, gold for the Seven Heavens for example, others they knew not where they would lead- olive, opal, sparkling blue, a vivid orange streaked with white. The colors and patterns were as varied as the dimensions themselves. They looked for silver, the color that creatures from their prime material plane saw when looking for pools that led home.
Umbrecrom being familiar with some of the teachings of planar lore due to being a Stonechild raised within the domain of an Elemental lord who provided he and his siblings with tutors from an early age, noticed the slow darkening of their environment. The last time a darkening caught them on the astral it was quick and they were caught within the edge of an astral storm. Whatever the cause for this darkening he thought it would be best that they choose another direction to travel which the others agreed to. As they float the grey miasmic mist of the astral, a trackless volume where a person moved by the force of thought, Yestamir and Nique decided that a right turn would be fine.
Before they could turn the Stonechild felt an odd sensation within his mind, within his skull. A look of concern crossed his face as an image coalesced in his mind. A cloud of color and shape flowed and resolved- it was the face of Quingle Gemshadow the Shard’s Gnomish Shadow-craft Sorcerer! He had taken the defeated flute-less corpse of Pr’Gillis, a mysterious Monk of the order of the Fist of Zuoken who had been defeated in single combat by the rival monk Master Tilit of the thought to be destroyed order of the Opaline Fist, by way of teleport spell back to Fennas Ear where they hoped a cleric of power might cast a raise dead spell to bring him back to life. Although he respected the powerful mage, Umbrecrom was not so fond of him that having his face appear within his mind was anything but alarming. Then it spoke:
“Quingle here…”
Umbrecrom repeated what was obviously a magical message that had been sent across the planes to him so that his companions Nique, Yestamir and Baelavel the magical Nimblewright construct gifted to Nique by the astral fortress, Galenial could hear it also.
“… assuming you three are astral. Pr’Gillis resurrected. Return to Port Dawn to retrieve slave failed. Eqximiye debriefed on astral weapon, tell no one.”
Umbrecrom looked around after speaking the last of it hoping no one other than the five of them had heard the mention of the weapon. He made note that Quingle’s message said ‘resurrected’ and not ‘raise dead’ denoting a much more powerful spell. They had reacted immediately- Raise Dead only works within the first few days of a creature’s death. Something went wrong but Umbrecrom would ask about that when he could speak directly to the Half-Dragon Monk.
As Quingle’s face started to disseminate within his mind, Umbrecrom felt as if the Gnome’s magic was waiting for a reply. They didn’t have anything of note to report back that Quingle could relate to the War Lord, Celethor who had sent them on their mission.
“We’re lost in the astral. We’re fine. We’re on our way back. Keep in touch.” Umbrecrom felt a little foolish speaking to the image of the Sorcerer he saw in his mind. It then faded from his thoughts.
Umbrecrom carried Nelkie the Sabertooth companion of the Druid. The cat was a large beast easily 9 or 10 feet long. Because the speed at which a being traveled in the astral was governed by intelligence, Nelkie was reduced to the comparative crawl of animal intelligence. She needed to be carried if they were going to traveling at a respectable rate. Nelkie was highly agitated by the prospect of having no ground on which to rest, no gravity for powerful leg muscles to play against. Front claws reached over the Barbarians powerful shoulders, more than covering them. Her hind legs pulled in tight to her body so she could place her back paws on the back of his thighs. Umbrecrom leaned forward at an angle to better accommodate the Sabertooth which disliked upright travel. Umbrecrom distracted her with an occasional bit of jerky. Knowing she wouldn’t begin to properly digest it until they were on a time-normal plane he was mindful not to give her too much. They continued on their journey, taking a right turn to nowhere in particular, their pace slowed by the speed of Baelavel whose intelligence was that of the Water Elemental that had been unwillingly bound to the mechanism during its magical creation.

p.

Chapter the second- Interaction!

The astral began to lighten as they traveled farther to the right of their previous location. Noting that the darkness was all but gone the Shards saw two explosions in quick succession in the distance in front of and above them to their right placed closely together. Further inspection yielded something dark and oblong. Subjective time being out in the astral was some several days at this point, and although the timelessness of the dimension was odd, they did get the sense of experiencing some several days of inactive searching, with little to show other than the memory of some several dozen pools they had passed along the way. Earlier, Yestamir had even floated the notion of going into the gold color pool, to which Umbrecrom’s immediate response was that they shouldn’t and a brief synopsis of the first few minutes of their visit to Arvendor, home dimension to some of the Elven Gods. The relief of seeing something other than the shifting grey mist and each other, completely overpowered the fact that it was explosions they were attracted to. As they got within several hundred yards they could tell the shape was some kind of ship. There were several masts that protruded from near the front mid-section angling to the back, several protruded from the back, each set equipped with a translucent sail. The front section had two fires as if something blasted right through both hulls, and the back had a single breach flaming wildly. Several bodies could be seen drifting away from the ship at varying speeds. There was one that drifted near the Shards up and to their right so they approached to investigate. As they neared they could see severals arrows buried in the body that leaked a trail of blood droplets. Umbrecrom moved in next to it and recognized the strange cloth wrappings around the pale yellow humanoid form, oblong head that had two slits where there should have been nose cartilage- “Githyanki!” Umbrecrom warned, snapping his fingers to retrieve his powerful White Iron sword from magical storage within the Glove of Storing that he wore on his right hand. As the Githyanki wizard’s fingers twitched, dying eyes looked upon the Barbarian with the Sabertoothed Tiger cape who in a single fluid motion executed a coup de grace which ended the threat of Githyanki magic. Yestamir discovered a slender 8" crystal tethered to it wrist and recognizes it as a Dorje. He took the psionic weapon determined to later discover its use. Umbrecrom, honoring the ways of the Barbarian, looted the pockets he found on the corpse and was rewarded with several coins, euphemistically referred to by some Barbarian tribes as victory tithings. They moved closer to the ship noting that it didn’t have the severe angled styling that a Githyanki-crafted astral boat would and deduced that the vessel was being attacked by a Githyanki raiding party. About a hundred yards off they note that the craft was slowly moving away from them and was spinning so that the close side was turning underneath along the length of it. They decided to let the boat continue to spin and moved forward coming in obliquely so that they reach the underside, and could travel along the surface of the boat to approach them unseen. Nelkie no longer riding Umbrecrom but preparing to land on the ship which due to the nature of the plane and the way it acts with volumes of mass, possessed its own subjective gravity. Once they landed Nelkie gratefully sank her claws into the wooden deck of the Vessel, happy to have a surface to stand on and gravity to orient her. There were signs of battle on this side of the ship- corpses of crewmen strewn across the deck, There were no Githyanki bodies. Two deck ladders led into the ship but the Shards decided to deal with the threat they’d already seen rather than venture within. They placed themselves near the spot on the other side of the clam- shaped hull and began to prepare. Nique cast the Druid spell Magic Fang upon Nelkie, and gave a potion to Umbrecrom, Barkskin which caused a thick, hard bark to grow and encase his rock-like form. His magic chainmail shirt accommodated the extra layer of armor by growing ever so slightly so as to effect a perfect fit. Nique mounted the Sabertooth to ride into combat, and cast again this time upon herself a spell of Camouflage that alters her coloration to match the shifting grey mists, which also effected Nelkie due to the magic relationship the Druid shared with her animal companion. Noting the Githyanki possess some psionic powers, Yestamir tapped into his psionic strength and activated a protection known as the Tower of Iron Will to safeguard their psyches from any psionic attack the Githyanki might invoke upon them. “This isn’t going to last long…” he warned as he calculated how much strength he might need in reserve in case he had to Plane Shift two more time (two in case the first one were to put the Shards in an even worse situation like in the middle of an ocean.) Everyone understood that the Carnen’s powers were nearly depleted and could appreciate this near final protection he gifted their minds with. Umbrecrom wanted to remain in the protection of Yestamir’s powers so he stored his sword inside his magic glove and retrieved 3 stones from one of the pouches at his belt and infused them with the only magic he was capable of which magically prepared them to be more accurate, and have much more of an impact than ordinary thrown stones, hoping to draw the Githyanki away from the vessel’s crew. Nique then drew the saber she had received from Coramorphus, the first time she had ever drawn the weapon. As the blade escaped it’s sheath Nique’s face revealed a startled expression. The blade then began to frost over, wisps of cool astral mist fell from it’s wake. Nique smiled knowing this is a gift she would appreciate for a very long time! Baelavel actived several of her magic abilities, powerful magical protections and alterations that briefly set her aglow, a show of cascading, flowing, blinking pulses of light. In a moment she leapt up and thought her way into a wide arc that landed her on the top side of the ship to engage a Githyanki combatant.

p.

Chapter the next- Intervention

The Barbarian strode across the bottom of the craft to where it sloped to the ship’s mid-line and crossed over to the slope that become the craft’s top, and crested the curved hull to observe the ensuing battle. He could not remember if Githyanki could dominate as Yestamir had done with the Half-orc Barbarian of Tilit’s band. There were 4 of the creatures engaged with four of the crew, a fifth surrounded by a stringy haze of red stands and droplets floating lazily about his corpse. Bealavel dodged a vicious silver blade of one of the Githyanki silver swords. The legendary swords of the Githyanki looked like flowing glittering columns of liquid silver said to shift their balance with every move of the two handed weapons. Across the ship little more than 20 feet away an unfortunate crewman had been flanked by a pair of the creatures. Umbrecrom hurled one of his enchanted rocks at the closest of the two which slapped hard and fast into the leathery yellow back leaving its cloth wrappings with a growing red stain. Yestamir who had followed his friend had retrieved one of the brain-lock pearls which the Shards had looted from the Githyanki dead within the home of Lashimer, threw it at another Githyanki. The pearl struck its target and rebounded with a fizzle of its resisted psionic energy. Fatigue wore away at the Psion and the Druid. Nique who was riding Nelkie moved next to one of the Githyanki to the left of the others and engaged it. The Sabertooth snapped at the twisting humanoid, but tasted nothing for his efforts. Frostwind, the scimitar wielded by the Druid was the first to bite deep into Githyanki flesh. As the blade parted alien yellow skin, the freezing magic within the sword stung the trauma with a cold that destroyed surrounding living tissue. The wound looked slightly withered and blue, an effect of the freeze-dried sealing of flesh that marked the passage of Frostwind through its victims. The creature continued its assault on the crewman. Baelavel launched into an attack with the rapiers that extended from the mechanisms of her forearms, hitting both times, one so deep that the rapiers pommel slammed into the gut of the unfortunate creature causing it to rebound backwards several paces. Despite being an easy target for the Stonechild’s Magic Stones the Githyanki continued its assault upon the human it faced which earned it two more impacts into its back, one of them cracking a rib. The crewman between the two dodged and bent hoping to avoid dual assaults to little effect. Yestamir, realized that the effects of the brain-lock pearls would be of little service even if they managed to break through the Githyanki’s psionic defenses, decided to alter his attack by way of borrowing Nique’s short-bow- he was too weak from fatigue to utilize the one made for him by Umbrecrom. His arrow flew past his target continuing into the astral. Without the forces of gravity and resistance in the astral plane, that arrow would continue speeding eternally until something got in its way.
At the other end of the ship 4 crew crowded near the passage that led to the lower decks until another Githyanki emerged from the steps. Unfortunately Yestamir had not been able to engage in telepathic union with the Shards or Nique could have reconsidered switching to throwing a brainlock pearl which bounced harmlessly off her targets chest. Although the crewmen fought alongside the Shards, it was apparent that they were crew of the astral vessel and not guards or mercenaries. The crewman who was flanked fell beneath the greatswords of his foes. The Githyanki that had been targeted by Umbrecrom and his magic stones, using the buoyant nature of the astral plane leapt onto the aft-deck, a higher tiered deck that was above the area where it previously battled. Then using its own magical abilities, its form seemed to smear across the spot where it stood, a Githyanki smudge that was difficult to tell precisely where it stood. Meanwhile, Bealavel had dodged the wayward attacks aimed at her, and responded with devastating swordsmanship that first flailed the rapiers that extended from her forearms in a wild array drawing off the defending strikes of her target which allowed her to bury both bladed deep in the suddenly defenseless creature. It rebounded off her hilts and drifted over the side of the transport training twin liquid ribbons of life behind it. Umbrecrom climbed the wall and leapt onto the aft deck landing next to a crewman with a bow and the Githyanki he’d followed who was now a blurred patch, hard to discern. Umbrecrom snapped his fingers retrieving White Iron from magic storage within his glove. He grasped the bottom half of the hilt with his other hand and swung but the blur effect had caused him to miss it entirely. Yestamir who had floated to a higher vantage point over the decks to get a better sense of the battle took note of the other Githyanki that had just killed the flanked crewman, and pulled out his Dorge, the crystal wand that held a reserve of psionic strength in its structure and had been prepared to release it in increments that were patterned to trap its target within an assault known as ‘id insinuation’. Yestamir pointed the crystal, a burst of imperceptible energy lanced out and struck the Githyanki leaving its mind in an incoherent disarray. It babbled helplessly not even understanding the danger it was now surrounded by. Then a passenger crept over the other side of the transport behind the babbler noting its opportunity to strike fast. Kyllie the Tout was plane-touched. Her form bore the heritage of having had a parent who was from a different plane. She had little horns upon her forehead and her shins bore an extra joint which bent in the opposite direction of her knees. A Tiefling. She held two daggers which she plunged in the back of the incoherent Githyanki. Before it could react though, Bealavel moved up to flank the creature, and struck it with her sword. At the other end of the transport another of the Githyanki appeared amid the battling crew striking viciously at the back of the crewman who was fighting its companion to a standstill. Back at the aft- deck as the free crewman struggled to position himself to loose an arrow the raiding Githyanki moved on the closer crewman and with a wide swipe of the silver greatsword decapitated him. The head launched in an upward spin spraying droplets of blood for many revolutions. Umbrecrom struck the creature with his sword tagging it’s shoulder, but missed on the follow-up strike. Nique and Nelkie had been positioning and trading attacks, blood dripped from the maw of the Sabertooth, and anointed Frostwind. Such was her strike so well placed and solidly struck that something within the magiced blade of Frostwind responded- a surge of magic swelled, releasing a torrent explosion of the cold magic upon the unfortunate Gith. The searing cold left the creatures back wafting a frost mist into the grey astral. Back at the other end another crewman dropped. Yestamir, noting the blurring abilities of the raiding Githyanki threw another brainlock pearl, for if it would take effect it would temporarily shut down the higher psionic functions of the Githyankis’ brains. His aim was off though, and another brainlock pearl was lost to the astral plane. Incredibly, the Githyanki flanked between Bealavel & Kyllie hit Bealavel which dented her thigh. The automaton replied by impaling the yellow-skinned Githyanki with a single strike through its breastbone. Another of the crew fell at the the far end of combat, while Umbrecrom delivered a devastating strike at his end, knocking away the creatures defending blade while White Iron slid fatally through collar, ribs, belly and was lodged in the pelvis of the yellow corpse. Bealavel looked on nodding approval of that fell stroke. He ran across the deck to the other end of battle not bothering to shake the corpse free, although it slid off quickly. At the other end, the captain of the vessel, and elemental half-breed of some sort of earth type, has emerged from the below decks and engaged one of the Githyanki. Yestamir noting that Nelke and Nique had moved from their first victim to the far end threw yet another brainlock pearl, but with this one he succeeded and the blur effect the Githyanki had psionically enacted faded away. Nique reached at it with Frostwind cutting a gash along its midriff. Freezing cold sealed the wound. Bealavel moved over to the other which after having cut the captain down leapt behind the other one while the Sabertooth’s maw chewed a leathal wound out of its back. Umbrecrom remembering that his movement was better on the astral plane when he moved by the power of his will, glided over next to Yestamir and struck wildly at the Githyanki hoping to draw its attention away from the Elf. The grievously wounded Githyanki swung at Nique but missed. Yestamir backed away and leveled Nique’s bow sending another arrow to sail endlessly out into the astral. Frostwind struck its target, a cruel slice along the creature’s neck. The wound withered as the cold destroyed living flesh. Nelke though, brought the creature down having sunk its long fangs into its soft midriff and with a quick tug of his head pulled intestine stretching from the mortal wound. Bealavel who flanked her target with Umbrecrom, looked to the Gith as she swayed her blades from side to side daring it to strike, sensing the barbarian’s imminent attack: two rapid strikes that laid it open in a frightening bloom of red tendrils erupting in the astral haze.
With the Githyanki defeated Yestamir and Nique tended to the downed crew looking to see if any could be saved. The captain and several others were revived. Umbrecrom had gone down below looking for possible survivors, or hopefully, more Githyanki. He found none that would survive, but fortunately Yestamir knowing that Umbrecrom wasn’t equipped to make such decisions followed behind him and was able to stabilize one of the dead Umbrecrom had deemed beyond help. In all, 4 or 5 were stabilized and healed by the careful skills and Druid spells of Nique.

p.

Chapter another one- Interview

The Captain who introduced herself as Elase Thunderfist Captain of ‘The Lesser Evil’ told that they were on their way to Sigil: City of doors. A trading destination of astral commerce, where it was said anything could be bought. Elase introduced her lone passenger, Kyllie the Tout. Kyllie was a guide of sort (‘Tout’ being another word for ‘guide’ in a planar dialect neither Umbrecrom or Nique was entirely sure of). Elase spoke about Sigil, although not as big as Union- no one recognized the name, was at least as prolific, for Sigil was under the rule of the Lady of Pain who it was said had the power to bannish even divine beings from her city. When Elase announced that afterward she was going to Anoreth after Sigil she had to explain that they were liscenced traders and would find no trouble in the Githyanki home city. Obviously the Githyanki that attacked were pirates, but that didn’t stop the crew from casting the silver swords from their ship as quick as possible, for it was said that Githyanki silver swords were jealously guarded by their race. Elase by way of thanks bid the Shards to keep the the salvage from the Githyanki pirates and offered to take them to Sigil with her.
The Shards were able to find the Githyanki had:
2 rock crystals- 50 gp each
red spinel- 70 gp
amythist- 90 gp
rotochrosite- 8 gp
white pearl- 140 gp
tormeline- 90 gp
eye agat- 11 gp
bluestar sapphire 1500 gp
A dark green crystal dorge with silver wrapping & scribed glyphs upon its length
A glowing crystal power stone
Dull grey locking cuffs scribed with designs with a key which were some kind of elaborate psi-restraint
Since Kyllie is a guide they decided to query about a commission to find a portal back to their own prime material plane. Yestamir led the negotiations. By way of background on Sigil, the Shards were told to avoid the hive, which was the slum area. Portals were everywhere in Sigil, but each portal needed a key, and not all portals were permanent. Kyllie had to determine which prime the Shards hailed from and asked for something distinguishing about their plane. For a moment Yestamir thought. “Would you know of the Eldar?”
“The Eldarea?” she asked. “Coramorphus and the like?”
“Yes. I am a descendant of Coramorphus!” Yestamir offered.
Kyllie briefly slipped into private revelry as resolve locked about her person, determined not to let slip that in her mind she was deep in the full-throated groove of the money-dance.
“Mmm-hm.” she offered. She knew of the legendary Druid-Wizards and imagined the financial power that they might control.
“I’ll be able to do it for 5000 gp” she stated without her voice cracking.
Yestamir, considering how hard a task tracking down a gate to a known, possibly famous (or infamous) world might be, and thought the offer could be a little high. Senses and intuition honed in the halls of the royal courts of Amcarofarne considered her. Was there just the slightest lurch in her stance signifying that possibly her heart skipped a single precious beat at the acknowledgement of Coramorphus’s Eldarea? Was she just slightly too casual about talking to one from the lineage of he who crafted the destruction of the Gurth Morgul Hrui? Did she not feel any gratitude from the rescue from the certainty of being killed at the hands of a Githyanki raiding party? Yes… Mayhaps the offer was a smidge high..
Yestamir countered by stating that he’d not planned on being on this kind of outing, and was ill prepared to pay but a fraction of that cost.
She indicated that maybe in a place where often the most valuable commodity is information that he might possess knowledge of his prime material plane that would be of considerable value to the right person.
“Like what?” he queried
“What do you think might be of interest?” she countered. “Tell me of happenings on your world…” she didn’t even try to fish for anything but waited to see what pearls or pebbles Yestamir would hand her.
Yestamir began with a brief summary of some of the common-enough lore of the Eldarea. After a few moments it became apparent a history lesson wasn’t the kind of information she had hoped for. Yestamir spoke on a few other subjects confounded by what might be valuable and how he might determine that. Kyllie’s reaction seemed completely natural, Yestamir wouldn’t give her anything. She was burning her time in a crucible of his conversation. Then he threw out “The queen is dead.” At first that seemed another dull iota. Then she reconsidered, followed almost instantly by a wave of composure that she hoped buried her reconsideration. Yestamir grew tired of guessing at what would interest her. Of course she wouldn’t know that until she found someone who was interested in buying any of the information he tossed her way. Likely no-one cared for anything he’d said, but you never know. And if she did find a buyer, he’d never really know.
He offered a sum of 500 gp and promised that upon returning she would get the first opportunity to do business with them or others they would send on their behalf, at her normal rates. To clarify, Kyllie said that she would find sages for 200 gp, as if sages didn’t want to be found to do business because they had enough money which is why they became sages in the first place, and finding obscure portals for 800 to 1000 gp because to the properly ignorant, every portal is an obscure portal, which even given ‘normal pricing’ proved her to be an opportunist who initially sought 5000 gp. Yestamir upon concluding this willing ransacking gave to her all but the most valuable of the gems harvested from the Githyanki that almost killed her out of hand. Kyllie then excused herself, she wanted to check on her cargo.
Over the day and a half it would take to get to Sigil the Shard’s Elemental half-breed struck up an acquaintance with “The Lesser Evil”‘s Elemental half-breed. She found the opportunity to practice her Terran, while he practiced it back to her. As the transport neared a leathery brown astral color pool the Captain gave Umbrecrom an ivory chit that would allow the Shards to pay up to a week for their rooms for at an inn, the Hearty Copper Hero and Camel at the spinward end of the market ward. Umbrecrom thanked her and pledged that they shouldn’t be on her tab that long. As they disembarked Kyllie offered that they buy a gate compass and that they shouldn’t pay more than 2800 gp for one.
The Captain hoped that the portal to Sigil would be in the market ward, and when they arrived they found that it was.

p.

Chapter next to the last- Interjection

The city of Sigil was an odd one, situated on the inside surface of a torus shape. Umbrecrom noted how the ground circled far overhead at the sides but continued to a vertical horizon both in front and behind him such that the horizon was on the same side going either way, ensuring that they would meet on the other side of the torus. He understood this and reconsidered what it might look like if it were just a bubble much larger than this. Exactly like the prime he knew. The people and races found there spanned the spectrum from human to black-hued Elves, beings that were more plant than animal, to the naked flesh colored humanoids who lacked defining facial features, Centauroid, to living mechanical constructs. The architecture evinced the same diversity- Gnomish Grand Garden style stood next to Fiendish Arch-empirical which was across the way from Yuan Ti Gossamer Scale. Past the great bazaar on the border of the Market and Guildhall Wards was where the Shards would find the Hearty Copper Hero and Camel. As they exited “The Lesser Evil” they were given each a package of some food for when they left the astral plane. While on the astral the passage of time continued but due to its nature the effects did not manifest there. They did not grow tired, even though Yestamir and Nique still suffered the effects of being fatigued, no matter how long they remained on the plane. They did not grow any more hungry than they were when they entered, nor was their need to relieve themselves any greater. Upon passing through the leathery brown color pool that led to Sigil the effects of the time spent upon the astral saturated their beings. Immediately on the other side of the portal were facilities to handle the most urgent of these deferred needs. These common facilities were not the cleanest one could imagine and the smells that assaulted them were by design ever present as were the glamour of harsh and annoying sounds so that those returning from the astral might not immediately fall asleep. The inn for which Umbrecrom possessed the ivory pass was by chance a bit of a journey from the color pool, though. Even the Barbarian, who something like a day and a half ago had received the casting of Nique’s lesser restoration spell which remedied the effects of his fatigue, was by now fatigued again. The Druid, her Sabertooth and the Psion were by now, a least a week in the astral, close to exhaustion. They made their way dull-eyed and intent through the market sector taking little note of the wares to be had there. Surely others took more note at their passing. Because Bealavel was a construct that didn’t suffer the effects of temporal decompression from the astral she was the most reliable to spot any trouble along the way. Because she was a magical construct she didn’t need the food package and quickly passed it off to Nique’s large animal companion Nelke who more than ably obliged her. Despite reservation the Barbarian thought he would find a forrest to inhabit later and just concede to sleep where the Captain’s chit offered a secured place. At the inn, they were given a large suite that accommodated their entire party of five having two seperate sleeping chambers and a common living area. The Sabertooth was likely as uneasy with the arrangement.The Elves tranced as Elves do, never really falling into the deep rest of sleep, Umbrecrom and the Sabertooth slept silently as Baelavel kept guard.

When they awoke, no one could tell if it was morning, evening or night in this strange demesne, they availed themselves of the tavern within the inn.
The barkeep was a mechanical centaur who had seen some vicious times. The housing of his face was partially missing, ceramic plates on his torso were spider-webbed with impact fractures, a few were missing. Some ad hock repairs were evident as his form wasn’t symmetrically mirrored. “I am Ajax 7, the manager here at the Hearty Copper Hero and Camel. How can I help you?”
Yestamir explained formally that the group was new to Sigil and had just arrived from the astral.
“Ahhh. You’re hungry?”
“Yes.” the elf replied seeing not much need to elaborate.
“Five Astral specials!” Ajax 7 called to the cook in the back room. “If you find yourself a seat your server will be with you in a bit.” The group wandered over to a large round table near the window that looked out onto the street. Nelke settled at Nique’s feet along the wall under the window. The others sat with no ceremony.
They were then approached by a clean-shaven Half-Orc wearing a tight gold colored vest and a bow tie the shade of copper with baggy pantaloons that reach only below his knees where they were tied off, also copper. “Me am Eyago! Me be serving you today- you like astral special- it have red potatoes!” With little skill he poured them water from the pitcher he carried. The waiter tried to ingratiate himself as servants do. The Shards paid him little heed. When he brought out their food someone mentioned the lack of utensils. “No good Valerius!” Eyago muttered. “He bad busboy! Eyago very sorry!” as if remembering something, he paused then knelt on his knees and repeated with more fervor, clasping his hands before him, “-Very sorry!” He scrambled to his feet and headed toward the kitchens, “Beat him again- no do simple job… All needs spoons!” The astral special was a big breakfast, simple yet filling, well flavored and also covered by the Captain’s chit, including Eyago’s small gratuity. Again Nelke benefitted from the construct’s mechanical nature, which since after the battle with the Githyanki was surrounded by the illusion of her being another High Elf traveler who wore no weapons. They then decided it was time to look for the gate compass Kyllie counseled they find.
As they wandered back into the Market Ward they took note of the wares of this inter-dimensional bazaar. There were many shops that sold weapons and other accessories of combat. Nique with her new wicked Frostwind, Yestamir a Psion wielding weapons of the mind, Bealavel a construct with her rapiers incorporated right into her forearms, and Umbrecrom who kept his White Iron stored in his magic glove had little interest in looking at other blades, sticks, bows or cudgels. There were armor smithies, gem dealers, potters, and bookbinders. Magic was in no small supply and garnered a little more notice, but the Shards looked first for the gate compass that might exceeded the price of the 1508 gp in gems Umbrecrom still held onto from the Githyankis. After several hours and a few close calls into shops and stands that also sold mechanism that they had no idea about, they arrived at the door of a very tidy store with the words “Planar Sextants” scribbed on the window with grey and white lettering outlined in a crisp and flourished black.
Umbrecrom was approached by a wizened old woman who offered him an elixir of celestial blood waving it in his face.
“What would I want with that?” he asked trying not to imagine what diabolic deed obtained such a thing. She offered that it would make him a better swordsman. Raising his empty hand to highlight his lack of a sword sheath he asked “What would I do with that?” She assured him that he’d be a better soldier trying to prompt agreement commenting that a man as big as him was no doubt a soldier. “Noooo….” he countered hoping that the merchant would just move on. Someone suggested that the Barbarian be careful in the crowd to be certain everything in his pockets remained there. As he patted himself down he looked to his belt to see an empty dagger sheath. His weary-of-‘civilization’ eyes rolled back in their sockets. “Naturally” he thought to himself. But at least the old woman had finally let him alone. They entered the store.
A Halfling merchant who strode the aisles dressed in a dapper yet tasteful suit met them and introduced himself as Quaker who sold the finest planar sextants to be had. He offered a few of the product at hand highlighting the fine qualities of each mechanism in turn. Yestamir, oblivious to finer points of commerce where money is exchanged for items, or just to establishing his fine taste, pointed to the largest most glittering contraption in the store and announced “I like this one.” Quaker elaborated a bit and then showed something that unfolded and expanded into something larger than the box that contained it. The Shards revealed that what they required was something that would be easily portable. Eventually the Shards were shown a gate compass which Yestamir bartered to a price of 2400 gp, well under the 2800 gp Kyllie suggested would be overpriced. Should Yestamir ever find need to venture to the astral plane he now possessed the compass that might help him navigate the grey wasteland of mist, color pools, and Githyanki. Nique augmented the remaining funds from the Githyanki massacre with some of her personal money she had managed to save. As they wandered back to their room at the Hearty Copper Hero and Camel they passed a bookstand that Nique notices had the tome “The Compendium of Planar Geography” for 80 gp. Yestamir who had mentioned that his planar lore was not what it could be several times during their tedious ordeal in the astral plane the past week was shown the book, he decided to buy it, and bartered the price down to 50 gp which was well within his means. Soon to be armed with the knowledge of this tome Yestamir might even navigate the astral quickly.

p.

Chapter the last- Interdiction

That evening Kyllie joined the Shards for dinner courtesy of Captain Elase Thunderfist’s chit. Nique passed time by chatting with Eyago.
“Why do you let Vilarius hold you back, Eyago?”
The Half-Orc waiter just sighed. "Eyago knows this, Eyago just have soft heart… " He glanced at the spoon in his hand that he was about to set, “Vilarious! These spoons are filthy!” He excused himself and ran to the back to find cleaner spoons.
After dinner Kyllie talked about what the Shards 500 gp has bought them:
There was a gate to their world, but it had just appeared within the last 2 weeks so it would likely be a temporary portal. It was in the courtyard on a noble’s property. Portals in Sigil activated by keys, and a key could be anything such as a phrase, an item, a spell- it varied greatly. The key to this new portal that the property’s owner was likely unaware of, was unknown. The property’s owner, a certain Gnomish Sorcerer by the name of Gobble Quillin who lived in the Lady’s district didn’t seem familiar to anyone. Quingle was the only real hope of recognizing the name being a Gnomish Sorcerer himself, but he was back in Illuvinari. And naturally there was no clue as to where on Illuvinari the portal led to. It could easily lead to the Underdark, under the sea, the high court of Gate’s Falls, or the Sendak’s summoning chamber just as easily as it could have led to somewhere safe and convenient.
It was discussed how they might approach obtaining the use of such a portal. Kyllie had no information on the Gnome noble or the disposition of his reputation. Surely some expert research would be needed to discover its key, and then there may be issues of obtaining the key. It was brought up that given the activity in Illuvinari in the past 2 weeks that the appearance of such a portal might not be co-incidence.
The objective being the return to Illuvinari, this incidence although interesting, seemed like a untimely distraction. The Corsair Kings, the 12 great pirate fleets were descending upon Fennes Ear at the behest of the Sendak who had declared war on the Elves. They could just go back to The Lesser Evil and beggar the captain to aid them as they aided The Lesser Evil. It was noticed that she seemed to favor the Shard’s half-elemental Stonechild. Yestamir, having rested, now possessed enough psychic strength to plane shift back and forth between the prime material plane and this one (or the astral if need be) several times in the hope of getting near enough to the coming battle to at least deliver the resources of his companions to the Elven effort. This portal wasn’t their only recourse and not of need their first.
Umbrecrom wondered aloud how much it was going to cost as he considered whether the Warlord paid for their services or just saw fit to equip them.
“.. and this will cost cost you a little more…” Kyllie offered cautiously.
As the Barbarian understood it, the Tiefling, a plane-touched of fiendish heritage just told them that find out how much the information they needed to know was going to cost, was going to cost them. There was a price to discovering the price. With only the memory of the Githyanki gems to remind him of what money they had on hand, it became apparent the Tiefling was revealing her heritage.
The Barbarian, his mind slipping back to one of the misadventures of his youth before he managed to make it to the surface world of Amcarofarne remembered a particularly bad incident where he’d stumbled into the waiting lair of Stirges. Blood-feasting creatures of magic that relied on their superior numbers to defeat their foes. He had embedded his sword in the back wall of their lair with a wild strike. The two attached to him drained him viciously, another he squeezed to a bloody pulp in his hand. It was mostly his own blood. Umbrecrom made the decision to abandon the sword to save himself. He dove into a nearby lye pool which caused the Stirges to abandon him. It took him several months before he could defeat the creatures to retrieve White Iron. Dealing with Kyllie he reminisced not fondly of the Stirges and their barbed pinchers digging into his rock-like hide, their pink proboscises draining him of his vitality. He wouldn’t have to squeeze her until she popped, though.
He stood up from the table and addressed his companions, shaking his head.
“Let’s just go back to the the ship and find another pool…” There was no reason to do otherwise. Kyllie excused herself and left.
They found The Lesser Evil still docked within the astral, Captain Elase preparing to leave for Crosswinds Keep which was located on the ossified head of a dead god somewhere in the astral. Yestamir adjusted the gate compass settings for Amcarofarne because it was, as yet still a more familiar place to him that Fennes Ear. When The Lesser Evil was at its closest point to the proper color pool the Shards would embark on their own into the astral the rest of the way. While awaiting this point the Half-elementals got to know each other better, and the Captain was persuaded to deliver them directly to their portal. Yestamir thought to ask the crew he was near, what color they perceived the color pool to be. He’d been reading. Creatures of the prime always saw their own plane as silver. To those not from his own plane he’d discovered they saw it as grey with silver streaks.
Before they departed for their own plane Elase gifted Umbrecrom a lock of her wiry hair.
Yestamir focused on the color pool with the authority of the knowledge his book had so far bestowed upon him. He focused on Fennes Ear. In a moment they stepped through. Thinking there might be planar wards to alert the Elves to the breach they turned around to see a searing cold blue fire circle the invisible portal in the space they had just stepped through. Then the portal was gone.
They were then challenged by a troop of Elven archers.

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Lament for Nettlegreen
05/14 thru 05/15/5055

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While preparing to meet the advancing pirate fleet, our heroes discover one of the Lucians have attacked the ruins near Ost Lachrunyanen.

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