Blades of Light

Tal's Journal, Entry 65
In which preparation is vital.

Once we moved to a decent inn, we elected to keep looking for information. I found out that the Oracle of Mavros, supposedly a man, but was always seen in full plate with an intricate storm pattern motif, carrying a sword wreathed in lightning, a spear wreathed in lightning, and riding a storm-colored warhorse. Staying in the temple district, naturally. And the people who’d seen him at the arenas said that those who were hit by him seemed to be hit by lightning. Mostly he seemed to stay put at the temple of Mavros, though he hit the main arena once a week.

Ceor seems to be debating going to at least see one of his bouts, though he has no intention of actually competing. Though judging by what we’ve heard about his fighting prowess, Ceor is pretty sure it’s not Sianna… or if it is, she’s gotten the hell of a lot better at melee combat. Which is a shame, really…

It’s a little harder to pin her down… no one’s seen much of her in our old neighborhood, but I suppose that’s to be expected. We did run into the groundskeeper at the orphanage where Ceor and I grew up, who seemed thrilled to see us. Particularly so, in Ceor’s case. He did, however, make a comment that he always knew a clever lad like me would always make a name for himself.

I suspect he’s gone slightly senile, though he was admittedly one of the better ones.

Upon consideration, it’s more likely that Sianna would be more in the mortuary district… it suits her tastes. She was always the sadistic sort, who enjoyed poking things with scalpels.

I always hated that place.

Ceor managed to run into another orphanage graduate, who’d gotten a job as a mortician. He said he’d seen her in the last month or so, buying cadavers. That’s comforting. He doesn’t know what she wanted them for, and doesn’t want to know. I can’t really blame him. She didn’t seem to have been very picky, so that could be promising. We went to talk to the hauler that had helped her. After a sufficient bribe, he remembered that he’d taken her order to the low end of the Narrows, where all the buildings were falling down and abandoned, by the big Fountain. He wasn’t the prying sort, but said she’d ordered a couple score of corpses, and had a retinue of people in hooded black cloaks and a couple of big guys in black armor.

Fabulous. We probably ought to look to that.

Though it won’t hurt to get some more info and lay some plans before throwing ourselves headlong into gods know what… again…

That area’s a warren of abandoned houses, you could stuff almost anything anywhere, and there’s almost certainly an entrance to the catacombs in the area. This’ll be fun…

We elected to send Miaako in first, as per usual. For once, we showed some sense, and I set the group up with a Message whisper so we could keep in contact. When he reached the fountain area, he found three people in black armor, with someone in a black robe chanting or mumbling. When he got closer, there were more… pretty much at every road leading into the fountain area. Lovely. Also at least one archer on what passed for a balcony, assuming it didn’t cave in.

He promptly stabbed the archer in the back, which will make our lives that much easier. And then the idiot went and blew his signal whistle, so that took care of the stealth advantage we had.

Miaako’s whistle hadn’t stopped the chanting, but we arrived pretty quickly, and Ceor put a stop to one of the chanters, at least. Permanently. And then people were on fire because I’m here and somewhat irritated and why wouldn’t they be on fire? I had no idea where Miaako got off to.

Reeshka then put Airwalk on herself and me, which means this should get entertaining. As I do not care to be where people with violent objects can use said objects on me, I took the opportunity to get some height. I spotted another archer on a roof that had been pegging Ceor, and pegged him with a couple of Scorching Rays and set the roof he was on on fire.

I expect he’s questioning his life choices at this point.

He tried shooting me back to no avail, and three of the thugs in the square braced up, assuming that Ceor was coming for them next. It’s not a bad assumption, but Ceor’s hung around me long enough to know to wheel around and go for one of the casters first. I spotted another one coming in my direction, so I took care of her. That was about the same time another let loose a bone-jarring scream. That was unpleasant.

I dropped a fireball on more, and they promptly threw themselves into the fountain. By this point, some were buggering off, but some hadn’t gotten the memo yet that fighting us was not a good survival strategy. A few more tried to brace for Ceor’s inevitable charge… which bypassed them entirely in favor of a group on the other side of the plaza. I gave them something else to think about. Fireballs are rather good at that. Reeshka had picked one to take alive, and found an inventive way of keeping him in place; she just cast Aboleth’s Lung on him while he was in the fountain.

There was another group that had been chasing Ceor around, and I finally put them out of their misery. He ended up chasing some more into a ruined temple, while I started picking off the remaining idiots outside. Once the dust had settled, we had one live captive trapped in the fountain and a bunch of dead cultists lying around. That was easy.

I expect something to try to eat our faces shortly.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 64
I hate winter.

I hate winter. It’s freaking cold. The weather around Feymott was mild enough, but the further we got into the hills, the colder it got.

I hate winter.

It took us a little longer to get to Sanguine’s fort than it normally does, though he was out. We stopped there for the night, and the resident kobolds were happy to supply us. The next day, we saw a column of smoke in the distance, perhaps a day’s journey to the northwest. The kobolds said that odd human types passed by with a caravan every couple of weeks, starting off about where the smoke was.

It’s not that far out of the way, so we elected to check it out. There was a lot of snow on the path, though it seemed fairly clear for what seemed to be a rarely-used road. Some of the snow seemed to be threatening collapse, though none of it did.

We came through a canyon pass to see what looked like a small monastery on a slight hill, though it had been completely wrecked. The place had been blown up and the doors had been blown in, red and brown stains covered the walls, and it was just generally a mess. The doors had probably been smashed in by something… which I suppose is better than the alternative. We could smell the cooked stone in the air, and Miaako thought he heard someone talking.

Miaako, as per usual, vanished and slipped up to investigate. He found a few people lounging around while a giant… thing… was wrecking the altar. Wisely, he slipped back to tell us so we could formulate a plan. No one around really knows much about the place, they seem to keep to themselves, though Reeshka says it’s probably dedicated to some aspect of Mavros.

Nice.

Of course, our plans always lack a certain… delicacy.

Ceor and Reeshka burst in, brandishing weapons and being generally menacing. Reeshka promptly caused the big creature to explode with holy energy, hurting it… it’s a div, a fiendishly corrupted genie. They’re notorious for being resistant to acid and electricity… I think we’re okay with that. While Reeshka’s entrance had momentarily blinded it, that didn’t last… and he didn’t seem to have a problem seeing the still-invisible Miaako. Of course.

Fortunately, though it’s teeth were big, it managed to miss every single time. Ceor was hit by a set of magic missiles, and promptly educated the man who’d shot them on why that was a bad idea. I don’t think the two people inside really knew what was happening, save that things were about to get ugly. And I fed the div a scorching ray. Miaako started filleting it as well.

Another warrior with a giant warhammer showed up… he will also have a bad day. Reeshka commanded him to go stab one of his allies, so this should be entertaining. A second warrior showed up and actually managed to stab Ceor, much good it will do him. And by this point, we could hear something large crashing around. Since everyone else was in varying states of dead, I elected to take a look… yeah it’s another one of those divs.

Nope.

Miaako vanished again, no surprise there, and Ceor and the second div seemed to flail wildly at each other. Keshemet and Reeshka started to tie up one of the warriors, as we need to as SOMEONE what the hell’s been going on, so I elected to feeding the second div something unpleasant.

And then Reeshka accidentally tried to set Ceor’s horse on fire with holy light.

Well then.

Ceor was annoyed, but let it go, especially since Reeshka healed everyone as the last div went down. As we were exploring, Ceor found a holy symbol that looked like that combined symbol of Mavros and Thor. He took exception, and elected to shove the divs out of the building. We investigated the rest of it, and while there had been workrooms and an alchemy workshop and a kitchen, everything had been completely trashed. The basement had also been completely ransacked, though there was some sort of hole in the wall. The passage collapsed about thirty feet down, and looked recent. There was a blood trail, which ended at the collapse. There was a dark substance in between the stones… looked like someone had been crushed.

We elected to back off and investigate the bell tower. The bell had been surrounded by bloody runes. Reeshka seemed to think that was a symbol of worship to give thinks to the Mother of All.

Yeah that’s getting reduced to rubble before we leave.

Ceor touched the bell with his sword, which caused blue-white cracks to form, with predictable results. The bell exploded.

The prisoner seemed to be saying that the Mother would have us all… we’ll get around to her presently. There wasn’t a chance that he was going to give us anything useful, so Ceor just lopped his head off.

We did get five magic great hammers, five magic mithril chainmail, and a set of medallions that bore a passing resemblance to the symbol of the Order of the Pure with a skull on one side, made of blackened iron. Oh, and all five of the warriors we killed were aasimaar.

This is nice.

We torched the bodies and left.

We swung through Sanguine’s fort again, then headed for Friula. It took us a week to get there, then we realized we didn’t really have a plan. We should probably have one of those. After some discussion (which involved many suggestions from Reeshka that would be better suited to when we actually lay siege to the city), we decided the best course was to disguise ourselves and enter the city as lowly merchants and farmers, and gather information.

We got in without much issue, and found an inn. It looked like a typical winter around here, and while we did pass the wanted posters, we weren’t on them. Which I can totally live with, it’ll probably be best if they don’t know we’re responsible for doing things to one of the ruling council… even if they didn’t like him and his face was on the wanted posters.

We woke up in the middle of the night, hearing something. It sounded like guards. Greeeeeeeeeeat. When we looked outside, a group of guards was tussling with a group in black… one of which yelled ‘The Mother will have your soul!’ according to Miaako. At least the guards were able to put them down handily and drag them off. In the morning, the innkeeper said that sort of thing happened every few nights. Some new cult, that the poor and powerless flocked to. Of course.

We stayed in the shabby inn long enough to get rid of the cart and goods we’d used to get into the city; we donated them to our orphanage. Then moved to an inn that actually has some standards of cleanliness. The hammers we’d picked up proved to be Icy Burst Greathammers (3), and the chainmail was Acid, Cold, Electricity, Fire, and Sonic Resistance mithril chainmail (3, 10 resist). At least it’s nothing hideous.

We’ll start trying to gather information in the morning…

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Tal's Journal, Entry 63
In which we sell all the things.

Now that we’re back at town for an appreciable amount of time and nothing is combusting or trying to murder us, we elected to go through and sell some of the many, many things we’d picked up at this point. There was much bargaining, wheedling, embarassing displays, and other general nonsense.

Some of the gear that we’d picked up ended up donated to the city armory: 5 masterwork greatswords, and 4 rings of protection (1). After all the mercantile interests were done, we ended up with 2569 PP 4 GP 5 SP each. So that’s some money that’ll get put back into magic items.

The others wanted me to make some magical items for them; as long as they’re paying for it, I don’t mind. Reeshka wanted a 25 charge wand for Cure Critical Wounds and a pair of Healer’s Gloves. Always good to have in an emergency. Miaako wanted a Handy Haversack. I don’t know all the spells for it, but hell, it’s easy enough to fake. Also made a Headband of Mental Superiority (4) for him. Ceor wanted a couple of ioun stones, a silver thorny and a turquoise sphere, and a whistle of calling.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 62
Fuuuuuuuuuuuck fuck fuck fuck.

I have got to stop leaving my journal lying around where that blasted kobold can get at it…

I was okay with the trade agreement with the Mharoti Empire… dragons are fine.

I was woken by a knock on my door two hours before dawn, and this had better be good.

My sister and one of my apprentices was there; Sundrya went out looking for components last night, and hadn’t come back, which is unusual for her. So, of course, this needs to be looked into. I know the general area she likes to shop, so I went to see what I could find. None of the guards had noticed anything amiss, though one had noticed Sundrya passing. Something about this area was familiar, though it’s too fucking early for me to figure it out.

One of the apothecaries was in, preparing for the day. They know when I knock on the door, the second time will be with fire, so he opened it with some haste. He said that Sundrya had stopped in, but had left… though after he’d heard a dog howling in Shade’s Park and maybe a scream.

Fuck.

Shade’s Park is where we burned that goddamn house that Cindersong had been living in.

So, yes, that’s the sign to go fetch the others.

I was on the way to go see to that, when I saw someone by the park, looking concerned. Since it might be important, I asked him what was going on. He’d seen some large white dogs dragging something about the size of a person across the park, and working together more than dogs should. And there was a house…

That fucking house. Despite the fact that Miaako and I burned it. It was there, just like we hadn’t committed some very thorough arson, glowing with what can only be described as eldritch light.

Fuck my life.

So, yes, runners dispatched to fetch the rest of my comrades, I don’t care what time it is. And if I melt the gate before they get here, oh well.

They all showed up at about the same time; Reeshka had gotten a carriage and Ceor charged up, Miaako had to be carried.

Ceor already knew something was up; he only asked if I’d seen Sundrya then charged in. Every edge was glowing, and there was some sort of transmutation, abjuration effect enhancing things inside. Well, that’ll be interesting. Ceor just decided to kick the door open.

I can’t say I don’t approve.

Of course it was full of walking corpses, what else would be there?

One of them stabbed Ceor. That’s just fucking impolite, so I burned a hole through it. Reeshka lit up with positive energy, and did horrible things to one of the corpses. That was about the same time Ceor launched a head through a window.

This is why I had them sent for.

Ceor dropped another into a steaming pile of horrible, and Miaako was, I think, insulted that he’d been woken up because there were chunks of gore just… everywhere. Some of the corpses were wolves, I expect those were the dogs the man had seen. I put the remaining one down, and set the building on fire.

… Well, that was going to happen at some point anyway.

We could hear some crashing from the next room, so we ought to do something about that. Once we were all in the building, it was almost as if some sort of malevolent haunting had tried to do something… though the only one really bothered was Keshemet. Ceor opened the door to the next room in the expected fashion. He narrowly avoided getting bitten when he kicked the door open. Something horribly chilling hit the lot of us, but we’ll deal with it. Miaako then went to provoke everything in the room so as to make them easier to hit. He damn near got cut in half for it, but it did do some good.

Essentially, we were not in a mood to give any fucks whatsoever. There was some panic on Miaako’s part; these things hit like runaway bulls, but he managed to stay out from under their blades. And there was that stupid freeze effect again… that sucks. I hate it. Reeshka’s apparently figured out how to cast some of her spells as eyebeams… not sure how or why. Miaako elected to move to the next room… which was, of course, also full of corpses.

Miaako and Ceor got to stabbing, and I sent a Fire Snake in… Keshemet pinged one with a magic missile, but only revealed that there was a Shield effect in play, essentially rendering Magic Missile useless. Surprising. But Reeshka then dropped the last remaining corpse on this floor with liberal abuse of Cure Critical Wounds and a last minute boost from Miaako so she could punch the thing in the face and disintegrate it. Time to get our asses upstairs.

More undead wolves of course. They go so well with the decor.

I’m getting awfully tired of this. FIRE SNAKES FOR EVERYONE.

Reeshka went up to one and “pet” it while glowing with positive energy, and it promptly disintegrated. Then she turned to us with the sweetest smile a kobold is capable of and commented that she hated dogs.

Those wolves taken care of, Ceor seemed to know exactly where he was going. He kicked the door open at the end of the hall to reveal YET MORE WOLVES.

I’m so surprised.

Miaako danced in, confusing them enough they bit each other, and managed to totally dodge the Fire Snake I tossed. Sundrya was in the corner, with a hound… which looked like it was protecting her and had completely destroyed three corpses that looked like it had tried to get her.

Oh, for what it’s worth, some of the wolves up here appeared to be alive. Not for much longer, anyway.

We took down some more wolves, and the hound guarding Sundrya turned its attention to one of the wolves. Chunks just seemed to vanish from existence, almost as if it had been clawed by something.

I think I like this thing.

By the time I could cast another spell, there was one wolf still standing, somewhat surprisingly, considering how much Miaako stabbed another one… I think he has a thing against dogs too.

When Reeshka put down the last wolf… most impressively, I might add, the hound defending Sundrya sort of… stepped around her and vanished. It almost seemed to flow into the corner, it made my eyes hurt.

Sundrya seemed to have been folded up and shoved in that fucking crib. She was passed out, though seemed otherwise unhurt. Ceor picked her up and we elected to fuck off. I’m sure there are more things here that we could be killing, but this place is unhealthy.

Anyway I’m going to set the place on fucking fire.

As soon as we were clear, I set off the biggest goddamn fireball I could in the middle of the house, and Reeshka flung a consecrate spell at the place at the same time.

…I got hit in the head with a brick because the place fucking exploded. Miaako and Reeshka managed to avoid everything, and were left looking at a crater. Ceor managed to keep his head enough to protect Sundrya and himself, but Keshemet was blown halfway across the park. Reeshka thinks it was because of the consecrate spell interacting with whatever else was going on. … I’ll take her word for it. Concussions suck.

I’m pretty sure that this place was blown to… well, it was very thoroughly destroyed. But there was a sort of… wrinkle in the air, over the middle of the crater. Something was wrong there, still. It wasn’t a hole or a rift, but almost like the fabric of reality was sort of pinched. It’s not something I would expect to see on the material plane… it’s something that might occur at the edge of the universe. A scar where reality was cut open to the Outer Darkness…

Fucking fabulous.

It’ll cause us problems again at some point… but there’s no way to really seal it off. If something pushed hard enough from the other side, it could come through… that’s probably what happened this time. It’s at least probably better sealed now than it was. But there’s nothing we can do about it, really, short of building a big fuckoff lead statue around it.

Which isn’t out of the question.

Sundrya came to, and said the last thing she remembered was two white dogs jumping on her from an alley, and she hit her head. I expect that… whatever was behind this meant to use her to forge a stronger link, but something intervened.

I need to look into this more….

But I do know one thing. We’re having a meeting with the city guard. This spot is off limits, it is to be kept under observation, and if anything weird happens, and I don’t care what, we’re to be notified immediately. I also need to look into creating some sort of communications device so that we can be contacted when we’re away.

Then all I’d need is a teleport spell so we can tell people to go fuck themselves from anywhere in the plane.

As we were heading back, Ceor mentioned that he’d dreamed this exact situation… well, the composition of the animated corpses was different, but things were largely the same. In his dream, he’d seen a shiny puppy running towards the house and vanishing into the outer corner of the house… which he’d seen later exactly where we’d seen the hound defending Sundrya, doing the same thing. He’d gone to draw his sword only to find the blade missing. He was very distressed by the idea of it, but I’m puzzled and a little perturbed by the fact that he dreamed everything that had happened… before it did.

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Keshemet's Journal Entry (#61)
I have much better handwriting

In the Fire mage’s absence, I, Keshemet, Herald to my wise and ancient patron, Gastrinox, have taken it upon myself to insert into these mundane scribbling some actual writing. After our bout with the late (hopefully) Fat Bastard and Supreme Ugliness Bloodstone, we were carried by God (Yes, that’s right, carried by a god) to safety on the shorelines. We made our way home in a most roundabout and disagreeable fashion (boats do not suit me, though I set aside my woes to escort my fair Reeshka, Queen of Feymott). After discovering that someone had rather desecrated a temple of Mavros at Goasta Cliffs, we arrived back in Feymott otherwise unmolested.

Worthy of note is that our Cavalier’s sword has become even more ‘awakened’ (as the Fire mage insists on saying, like It’s alive or some silliness), and now appears to be constructed of pure energy. Wonderful. Word is that it was used to drive the ‘original mother of creation’ from her realm by her own offspring. Specifically, his sword was used to cut a rift into the ‘outer cosmos’ before a dead world was hurled in after her and sealed it shut. She apparently had a nasty habit of eating her creations, so I suppose that explains why they were so harsh to her. Still kind of cold, but I can’t really blame them.

Our lovely Fire mage did manage to convince our glorious Reeshka to NOT enter a deal with daemons and the underworld. Then we all seem to have shared another dream where there was skeleton of some dwarf on an impossibly tall mountaintop. Odd how we share so many dreams. Never before have I experienced such a phenomenon, not before I joined this group. Still, despite such queerness, I do not find it means to abandon my noble quest to document the journeys and exploits of the venerable Queen Reeshka.

This brings us to today: Reeshka saw off our guest, an Imp representing the underworld, sending him away with an assorted baker’s dozen of our city’s main export – pastries. With his (?) departure, a messenger arrived for Reeshka bearing news of two MORE guests – representatives of mine Patron, Gastrinox. Reeshka was thrilled, and I must say so was I to see such a reaction from her. It was also nice to see my friends again. I was indeed employed in the service of those two representatives, back in the day. I was able to steal some alone time with them whilst Reeshka was deliberating with her council what to do about the trade offer they brought with them. It was eventually agreed that Feymott would enter a trade agreement with the Mahroti Empire. Our lumber for their gold, spice and an exchange of troop regiments, to better learn exotic combat styles and strengthen our militaries. Reeshka was on the verge of giving away the whole town, but Miiako and Ceor kept her in check (bless her; she’d make such a fine Herald for our Dragon lords). Everyone left happy, and she sent the Mahroti’s off with a satchel of pastries to sate their sweet tooths.

It has been some months since the trade agreement, and our little kingdom is expanding westward. We now occupy the plot of land just to the East of Sanguine’s little fort. There was a bit of a disturbance that I barely caught wind of when expanding, some sort of ruckus that the Bird dealt with handily, I assume, hence the lack of my knowledge on the subject. Reeshka also set into motion the ‘expansion’ and reinforcement of our city by digging out an ‘under city’ of sorts. Her mission is twofold: To strengthen the foundations of important structures, such as our walls and towers, and carve out underground domiciles for our growing kobold population. Such foresight our Queen has! It makes me smile, to know she has our kind constantly in mind amidst the flurry of running a kingdom.

During our expansion, we experienced very fair weather for winter. Unnaturally fair, if you ask me. We were able to continue our construction and expansion without further delay, and preparations for our trade agreement are underway; our newly constructed lumber mill and quarry are in full swing and our stocks are ready for the Mahroti Empire to haul away and leave our pockets a little shinier. Overall things seem to be proceeding well, and I am keen to learn what our resident dragon has to say about my Patron, Gastrinox, and his trade agreement with the Queen whose flag the crimson drake flies above his fort.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 60
Of Gods and Devils

Kammae was behind us, and even from here, I could see the pent up magic going berserk. And a leyline arced into the air and twisted before it fell back down. That was disturbing because leylines aren’t meant to leave the ground… of course, they aren’t meant to be confined to perfectly geometric patterns either.

That’s nice.

The trip north to Maragia was pleasantly uneventful, where there was the option to charter a ship all the way up to Goasta Cliffs… but it was hideously expensive. We elected to keep walking when it became clear that Ceor wouldn’t let Miaako stow away.

We continued until we came to a fishing village where we were able to rent a boat for a much more reasonable fee… though I think we’d have been better off paying for the actual ship. Miaako started whining about the fare, trying to talk Ceor into paying for him… I ended up paying his fare just to shut him up. It was a very smooth trip, at least, and when we arrived at Goasta Cliffs, the fisherman said it was the fastest trip he’d ever made.

Color me surprised.

Goasta Cliffs was much the way remembered it, except the Temple of Mavros was closed, padlock, with thick, heavy chain. There was also a symbol of warning chiseled into the stone. It was pretty ancient, but was generally held to mean that the place was cursed. It was very small, but right at eye level for a human.

Which, naturally, made Miaako want to get in there. At least, I’m assuming that’s why the chain spontaneously unlocked itself.

A few bystanders scurried away, making signs of protection against evil. Of course.

When we looked in, there were piles of bones scattered across the floor. And it looked like they’d been there a long, long time. Looks like about thirty people, give or take. It could have been caused by a massive amount of necromantic or death magic, released all at once. The skeletons are probably parishioners or priests.

Ceor spotted a medallion on the altar, probably the high priest’s, snapped totally in half. Those things are made of solid steel. I could do something like this, if I had the exact right spells and several days, and this happened in an instant. None of the skeletons seem to have had time to react. Miaako didn’t find anything of value, everything that might’ve been worth taking had rotted or corroded into utter worthlessness.

Ceor, perhaps characteristically, decided we couldn’t leave until the proper funerary rituals had been performed. There was enough wood from the benches to construct funeral pyres, and Ceor carried all the skeletons out. An old woman approached him with a prayer book; apparently her son had been one of the priests. I think Ceor helped her find some closure…

Once that was done, we headed back to Feymott. We took the shattered medallion with us, though Ceor said it made his hands tingle unpleasantly. It was worth noting that our Temple of Mavros was unmolested. About that time, messengers showed up saying there were priests of Nethus and Mnemosyne that had been waiting for about four days, and there was a surprisingly well behaved imp that had been hanging out.

God knows how this is going to go.

Also, apparently, Sanguine the dragon has taken up residence in the abandoned fort near by, taking the trouble to etch what looked like a draconic version of the Feymott standard. An alliance of sorts. Friula ought to love that.

When we went to meet the emissaries, someone set up a large conference table outside; the city council has been taking care of our guests well. And the imp and the priests were having a very pleasant conversation. Interesting.

The priests indicated that they had received a vision and a missive that we might have need of some information, or be seeking a lost name… Ceor asked about the lost god of portals he’s gotten so friendly with. Mnemosyne had recently remembered a name she had forgotten… Karahume, the Lord of Portals. And the reason that he’d been removed from knowledge was that he’d favored some of the lesser Mage Kings, and when the more warlike kingdoms started bringing in Other Things, he took it upon himself to teach mortals forbidden magic, to close the portals. Some of the other gods then elected to force Mnemosyne forget Karahume. This did not please her.

I’m really not surprised that Taltreni was one of his most favored cities, and the first Karahume taught the spell to close the way between the worlds. Apparently, the General of Taltreni was last seen, riding one of the abominations and stabbing it in the head with a sword of light.

Much like the sword that Ceor has now. It certainly got a reaction when Ceor produced it, and when the imp recovered his senses, he demanded to know if that was the Cleaver. The priests were unsure of the name, but said it was much like the sword the General had used, when they saw it in visions.

They DID say it wasn’t a divine relic, definitely made by the hands of men… but it might have been one of the first swords crafted by men rather than elves. The imp said if it was the one he thought it was, it was used in a battle long ago. Sometimes things show up in the Goblin Wastes long before they were actually created. Said to be the sword used to drive the goddess Mara back into the Outer Darkness… the only connection it seems to have to anything now is a place called Mara’s Table, a place lost beyond the cosmos. An island in a dark sea, with impossibly tall mountains and the sound of children’s laughter hanging in the air…

Fuck.

The imp knew more about it than anyone else; Mara was one of the first gods, the creator of creation. But she’s older than concepts of morality, one of the earliest proto-deities. She had a habit of cannibalizing her offspring if she was displeased with them. The other gods decided that this would not do, and collected relics of power to drive her into the darkness, where she was pinned with a dead world. She’s the source of the qlippoths, most likely, and nothing more than a source of destruction and hunger, though still with the power of creation… albeit a twisted version of it. The sword Cleaver was so named because it was the weapon that cleaved a way Outside of the worlds…

There’s no closing that rift now, it’s too old and too scarred.

In addition to wanting to request trade with us for our delightful pastries (really?) and also wanted to establish a formal embassy here. AHAHAHAHAHA.

Ahem.

The imp also offered me a scroll freely, with no strings attached, containing information about my family lineage on both sides of my family. He’s an imp, what he says is ironclad, so I’m not on the hook. Though I’m not very comfortable to know that Dispater decided to request that I be given this.

Since we had a high priest of Mavros, and two other priests, we decided to ask about what happened in the Temple of Mavros in Goasta Cliffs. To say they were disturbed would be vastly understating the case. They said that the only comparison they had was from the beginning of the history we had; used by the gods of death to strike down whole armies. While this was a much smaller effect, this was anything but comforting, because it would take a demi-god to do even that much.

Comforting.

I also decided to warn them about the alliances Cindersong has made, because I just know that little asshole will be back. They promised to let us know if they found anything useful out, and were glad to have some forewarning.

The priestess of Nethus presented Miaako with a crystal rod, which was, apparently, a lockpick created by Nethus and Karahume. Nethus has an affinity for opening ways for waters to flow… He thought it best for Miaako to have it.

He was incredibly pleased with the shiny.

Ceor and I are firmly against the idea of a devilish embassy here, though we had to talk Reeshka out of it. She’s already too close to the edge of that particular slippery slope… as evidenced by the fact that we really had to argue with her.

We went about our business for the rest of the day. Then we dreamed. Oh god, the dream. We all dreamed of that horrible island, so far from light it has never known light. We were far away from it, but we could make out a skeletal dwarf on one of the highest pinacles, wreathed in silver and black flame, chained there by chains of bone. He was laughing or screaming, I’m not sure which.

Fuck.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 59
Of Gnomes and Gods

Well. This is nice. We walked into a crypt full of arcane and divine energy, particularly of the necromantic sort. And full of braziers each glowing a different color. They all had different effects, and were already active. It’s possible to change who they’re keyed to… might be worth doing, if we can manage it.

This is going to get very ugly.

Cindersong was most enraged by Miaako’s presence, though I doubt that it’s going to stop there.

That being said, a fireball is such a nice way to say hello.

And then I was promptly hit with an acid-coated arrow. Which is really a shitty way to say hello, they should learn better manners. And my god there are some big dwarves here acting as bruisers. This is going to end badly, especially as they keep shooting me.

Let’s just hope that the others can occupy these brusiers long enough for Miaako and me to get to the braziers and shift them around. Miaako got the first, I got the second. Fortunately, the bruisers were about as coordinated as a Ceor is quiet. And Reeshka was making excellent use of Hold Person.

Cindersong actually helped with a slight logistical problem; he dropped a fireball on Ceor and Keshemet, and incinerated one of his own men in the process. He has a very poor retirement plan, apparently. I got shot again, then someone tried to melt Miaako with poor results. Cindersong screamed something in one of the fiendish languages about the ‘allies of the bird’ and ’Grandmother’s wrath’.

I get the idea he was not saying we’d suffer Grandmother’s wrath.

Cindersong took the opportunity to shoot something nasty at Miaako, with fairly significant results. I decided to give him something to keep him occupied, and set up a ball lightning. Not that it stopped someone else from doing much the same thing. Which hurt.

Cindersong then leapt off the funeral bier, turning invisible in the process. Screw him. As we turned the braziers, the odds did seem to be turning in our favor. It took some doing, but we did manage to put the little rat down. With prejudice. There was something odd going on with the body, but I couldn’t tell what.

When in doubt, set it on more fire.

Of course, I almost set Miaako on fire too, judging by the squawking.

With Cindersong down, we started focusing on the hired help… right up until Cindersong exploded into black energy, and landed on his feet. He looked like part fungus, part insect, all ugly. Which, of course, was why I was trying to incinerate the body.

He lunged at Miaako, screaming ‘Mine!’ Fabulous.

Ceor promptly did a fuckton of damage to it, and Miaako narrowly avoided getting cut in two. From what I can tell, this is the result of a deal with something… probably something from the Outer Dark. Which is beyond the pale, even for a gnome. Evidenced by the fact that the other gnomes promptly turned on him.

It took some doing, but we put him down… again… and he seemed to melt. So did his sword. One would hope that’s enough.

The other gnomes were all too happy to point us in the direction of Bloodstone… he was in the temple above, planning something involving ‘drinking in the power’ and waiting for us to ‘do our part’. And something about twelve chained souls.

Great.

We got up to the temple above. Bloodstone was there, in some sort of force bubble. There were ghostly figures arranged evenly around it, chained to the bubble. There was also an inert form nearly sixty feet tall hanging from the ceiling.

Just…. great.

He’s trying to use the ghosts as conduits, to divide and filter the power of a god. There was a space missing. For Cindersong, presumably, but because of his bargain, he slipped away.

Bloodstone was most put out, but decided he’d have to do the ritual without him, it would just be more difficult. We promptly decided to make it more difficult. If we free the ghosts, it will fuck with his plans. I’m all for that. Between loads of positive energy, a master thief, and someone with a sword completely designed to cut locks, there’s all sorts of unpleasant things we can do to interrupt him.

How convenient.

We can’t get at him until the barrier drops, but we can work on that.

Also, as a side note, the chained souls seemed to be people we’ve encountered, in various ways.

This. Will. Not. Do.

I’ve been feeling a battling sense of hot and cold since we got here, but now the fire took over, and all the blue light was driven out of my staff by fire.

Fuck you, Bloodstone.

Even though some of these people are ones we had to kill, I’m not going to put up with this.

Neither is Ceor. He moved, and started shining with a golden light, and his sword started glowing. Then he carved a glowing scar into the bubble, which got Bloodstone’s attention. Miaako, meanwhile, seemed to turn into shadow, vanished, then appeared on the shoulders of the chained god. He then started picking the locks confining the god.

I’m going to work on popping the shackles on these spirits. Even if it’s not good for them, I’m sure it’s better than what Bloodstone would do. I broke the shackles on one spirit, who promptly vanished. The spirit of the half-orc who briefly traveled with us, and died in the ruins of Taltreni. Reeshka was radiating positive energy everywhere, and more shackles vanished.

Bloodstone did not appreciate this.

This is going to be incredibly painful, and I find I do not give a fuck. I am fucking tired of Bloodstone. This ends now.

One of the chained spirits turned out to be Allain. I freed him anyway.

The ritual was getting badly destabilized, and mystic lightning was arcing everywhere. Miaako almost got hit several times, and the only reason Ceor and Reeshka were safe as he carved his way into the bubble was that the lightning veered away from Reeshka. Even Rupert was attacking the chained ghosts, destroying the shackles as well.

Ceor got inside, and threw Reeshka at Bloodstone. She grabbed him by the beard. He screamed that she’d fucked everything up in the Cantons, she wasn’t going to ruin this… she responded by breathing acid in his face, then exploded into positive energy. It reacted with the energy of the god, who had dropped into the water after Miaako had freed him, and all of the remaining shackles disintegrated.

Bloodstone fared even worse. The normal form burned away, revealing that he was clearly a very dead lich. But even that burned away into a skeleton, then into a shadow. At the last moment, it seemed like something reached out and pulled him through a rip in the cosmos. I’m not entirely sure if it was to his benefit or not, but I’m sure we’ll find out. And then I heard a faint, childlike giggle.

Ahahaha. Of course.

Then the god pulled himself out of the water, looking confused. I suppose I would be too. Nethus, the sea god, is free now. He said we could ask a boon of him. Ceor, characteristically, asked him not to take it out on the city of Kammae for being shackled. He said that the one who had shackled him, the Oracle of Kammae, was still alive, but he wouldn’t destroy the city.

He seemed to recognize Miaako, and was pleased that he was still giving the Horned God the slip. The Horned God is a popular name for Mammon… We’re going to have to have a very long talk later. He offered a personal boon to each of us, and remarked that he still couldn’t give him a mansion of gold.

Reeshka said she’d live the choice to Nethus, but said that besides that, she wanted one small favor, the ability to swim. That seemed to amuse him, and he said she no longer had need to fear the water.

Ceor didn’t want to presume to know more than a god. I didn’t know what to ask for; anything I’d want I think I can get with my own two hands and my wits and my magic. I want to benefit the city of Feymott… though there is a reagent that might be impossible to get otherwise… a drop of godly blood. He seemed somewhat interested by this, and assented. He gave me a bottle of thick red liquid. Then he made a comment about how “that” was still going around, and that it had been a long time since anyone was asking for that.

Miaako, predictably, asked for something shiny. He received an absolutely exquisite mirror. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there’s more to it than that. Nethus also commented that he hoped Miaako was still working on that plan he’d spoken of so many centuries ago. Then asked how many times he’d died.

He turned Ceor’s sword into a Brilliant Energy sword, and amplified all of our gear. Then he carried us out of the city, and deposited him on the shore north of Kammae. Interesting, to say the least. He also left us with a waterlogged chest containing 1500 platinum each.

I’m rather pleased.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 58
Okay this city is creepy.

Well, we arrived at Kammae. This should prove interesting. The Temple of Shackles is the biggest building in the city. The whole city’s built on a limestone shelf, and there’s said to be catacombs in the limestone caverns beneath the city, some wet, some not, and generally host to some pretty nasty types. This is the last port to the West; ships sail out of here looking for fabulous riches, and roughly one in five come back. The city’s prosperity skyrocketed once they managed to catch the Sea God, in the last decade or so…

What’s funny though is that Reeshka’s heard rumors that the Temple of Shackles was built long before the Sea God was captured. But it was built to contain something powerful…

And the planar boundaries here are unnaturally sturdy, like they’re being reinforced. Six leylines also converge in the city, with geometrical precision.

Interesting.

As expected, there was a lot of steady traffic in and out of the city… and the leylines pass directly through the gates.

There’s supposed to be some sort of conference here, of people sharing arcane knowledge… odd, since this is a divine city.

We camped outside of the city, mostly because Reeshka wanted to make a grand entrance at dawn. We happened to be near one of the leylines, and it was… constrained. It’s not the way of leylines to be dead straight. And it was a positive energy vibe, which symbologically is weird. That’s not something that’s considered to be coming from the east, that usually comes from the top or bottom.

It got us curious, and we traveled around to the next leyline, exactly one sixth of the way around the city walls, dead aligned with the city gate, and radiating electrical energy. Which I’d expect from the line to the east.

You could force the leylines into this sort of pattern with a handful of archmages, and about fifty years…

Miaako and I noticed there was a sort of odd shimmer over the city, and the walls seem to be a little… flourescent. It is, I think, the result of more magical energy than I have ever seen gathered. Miaako said there were angles to it, like it was following the city walls, and Reeshka said she could smell silver.

And it really is strange that a conference of arcane academics would be here rather than Friula. They seem to have way more power than they’d need, even to contain a god.

We spent the day watching travellers enter the city… a few more spellcasters than one would expect. No real trend in specialties of magic. Nothing much of note happened during the night, and we woke about an hour before dawn. We were early enough that we’d be the first people through the gates, which I’m sure pleased Reeshka. The guards really only gave us a cursory look, and waved us through, giving us directions to the most convenient… and probably most expensive inn.

Miaako noticed that the city certainly didn’t seem to be behaving like a city hosting a conference, just seemed like a regular city going through their morning routines. I could feel all that energy, just… hanging around. It was disturbing. Magic shouldn’t be bottled up like this, not bent into anything… Reeshka and Keshemet said that the city streets were laid out in a sort of sigil pattern, a series of inward spirals.

This is comforting.

We elected to go to the tavern, which Miaako is convinced is a trap, and see what we could see. Miaako said that the whole place was nearly booked full, but no one had gotten up yet, and Miaako thought he was telling the truth. As we discussed it, we noticed that the inn seemed to have a strong enchantment on it, like a sleep spell written large. Another tavern had the same thing, or largely. It was almost like the enchantment had crystalized naturally around it. Once we started looking for it, we noticed nearly every building in the city had similiar effect, only thematically appropriate. Evocation around the foundries, divination around the library…

We elected to follow the streets, and we could tell that the leylines followed the streets exactly, even being visible in the cobblestones. But between Miaako and the kobolds, we were pretty sure we could find an entrance to the catacombs. We elected to try a basement in of one of the foundries.

The watchman wasn’t surprised to see us; apparently, the catacombs are a common destination here. Something about the lost treasure of the gods. He charged us a gold to get in, with the horses, and told us a signal so they could let us back out. Apparently other things try to get out sometimes, though they are generally repulsed by one of the workers, one Jake who is probably half ogre.

We elected to proceed on, and we could smell the sea really strongly; and this area is probably submerged during low tide… so we probably want to get out before high tide. It’s going to be fun navigating this place…

We could see previous traces of habitation, though no recently than a week ago. Most spiders. And bones. Large creature bones, mostly arranged in a way that suggest they live in this area. Including a shark skull so large we didn’t even realize we were walking through it until we were through.

Eventually we got to a place that seemed to be magically warded against erosion… and a wall that was there even though it shouldn’t be. Reeshka couldn’t see through it, but Keshemet and I could see that it was translucent. I’m pretty sure it’s an illusion, with a tiny way of shadow essence thrown in to give it some substance. Keshemet pushed through it first, then I did. We got through, though it was really creepy. That gave the others the hint, and they pushed through as well. We were in a large chamber with a stone pillar, that we were sure was holding up the temple. A set of stairs shallow enough to ride a horse up led up. Sea water dripped from the roof… but we were directly below a chained sea god. Ceor felt a pull toward the stairs from his sword, and Reeshka said there was a strong necromantic aura here, as if it’s been funneling down. The leylines literally wrap around the room, making it glow.

Reeshka’s staff had started glowing, too.

This could be good or bad.

My staff has been pulsing between hot and cold ever since we entered the city, almost like they were competing, but it’s stronger down here.

For lack of anything better to do, we went up the steps. After going up quite a distance, we came to a set of massive iron doors, locked with a chain with links about as thick as my wrist. Ceor, being friends with the lost god of doors, pulled his sword out to hit the chain. We saw the normal effect, and there was an image of the banner of Taltreni superimposed over it. He hit it, black lightning flashed, metal shrieked and squealed, and he took a massive gouge out of the chain. The second blow went through it entirely. Lightning arced across the chains and doors, the lock disintegrated, and the chains dropped.

Well. We’re about to walk into the undercroft sized for a chained and presumably pissed off god, and when we leave the entire city of Kammae will want to murder us.

What can possibly go wrong?

As we walked in, the braziers lining the walls started lighting up, and each was a different color. There was a massive stone slab in the middle. There was a group of people around it… and a certain red haired gnome standing on top of it.

Well, well.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 57
These guys are getting old.

We departed the village, slightly hungover and fortunately not meeting any trouble that day. We found a place that’s probably a regular caravan stop, with a prepared campsite. Which was nice, seeing as it rained heavily. We forged steadily west, and the next three days were uneventful.

The fourth, not so much.

We were riding along when we ran into a large minotaur with black fur, distressingly elaborate armor, and a sword bigger than Ceor was tall.

Fabulous.

Miaako spotted a couple more people on top of a rock some distance away with bows, and another perched on a closer rock, with no fucks to give.

Just. Great.

We can hope these people aren’t going to start shit, but our luck does not tend this way.

And that hope was dashed in the time it took the guy with no fucks to give to nod at the minotaur, who then promptly charged Ceor.

Well, they started it.

Oh, and there’s a negative energy effect on that sword, that’s nice.

Ceor and Reeshka gave them pause, at least… And I’m tired of this bullshit already.

There was another of these fuckers, of course. At least one more. More than that.

At least they’re giving me a surplus of targets.

Then Miaako got involved and started stabbing things with wild abandon. The old man with no fucks to give found himself nonplussed by this. Not nonplussed enough that it stopped him from setting a lightning ball off in the middle of us.

Ow.

If they kill my fucking horse again…

Ceor put the goddamn minotaur down at least. I think Reeshka got poisoned at some point… not that it ended up mattering much to her.

Course, I ended up getting poisoned too. And shot. Originally, I hadn’t been sure if I should focus on the caster or the two assholes with bows… nice of them to make my choice for me. Miakko took the caster out anyway, so it was just as well. He seemed to be missing the arrows, at least.

At least Reeshka could take care of the poisoning.

I think one of the idiots buggered off, which was possibly the only good life choice here today. I took out one of the archers who kept insisting on shooting Reeshka. Miaako then did what he’s good at (not what he’s best at, as that is being completely fucking invisible) and stabbed one of the remaining fools in the face. A lot. I was a little far off to do much to the last one, but Miaako took care of that handily.

We’ll let the one who buggered off go. In the mean time, loot.

Five magical longbows, five masterwork greatswords, five mithril scalemails. Also five amber spindle ioun stones and five magical cloaks. And Order of the Pure insignia, to the surprise of NO ONE. That takes care of the archers… Miaako unsurprisingly wanted the ioun stones, which I was fine with.

The minotaur had a magical greatsword. Ceor did not like getting hit by it at all. Also magical fullplate, a magical amulet, a magical cloak, and a magical ring. Electrum symbol of the Order of the Pure. We also found something like a journal… mostly the gist was that he was afraid the idiots at the other ambush would be successful and he’d miss out on a fight. Well, he got his wish. Also found a holy symbol to Chernavog. Awesome.

The caster had an adamantine dagger, notably not magical considering what else he had. He did have a magical amulet, and a small magical bag, magical bracers, magical cloak, a magical iron rod, magical slippers, a magic ring, magic robes, magical staff, and a wand. Just everything he has is magic… And a Golden symbol of the Order. He also had a passable sketch of the four of us- Keshemet was not included. No spellbook, more’s the pity.

The bows turned out to be (1) corrosive compound longbows. The archers each had a Cloak of Elvenkind. The greatsword turned out to be a (2) unholy greatsword. The fullplate (2) Dastard Fire Resistance Full Plate. Those are going to a temple… Cloak of Quick Reflexes (2/3), Ceor took that. Amulet of Natural Armor (3), and the minotaur had a Ring of Protection (3)…. both of which Reeshka can use.

The mage had an Amulet of Natural Armor (2), a Bag of Minor Holding, Bracers of Armor (4), Cloak of Resistance (2), Elemental Metamagic Rod – Electricity. I’m about the only who can get use out of that… Featherstep Slippers. Ring of Protection (2). Robe of Infinite Twine… I might as well keep that, I haven’t got any regular armor. A Spark Staff, which we’ll save for emergencies. The wand had 18 charges of Maximized Magic Missile (CL9), which I’ll let Keshemet have.

We continued on to Kammae… though about a day or so out, it started feeling like I was being watched.

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Tal's Journal, Entry 56
They killed my horse. Fuck them.

We set out overland for Kammae. The road was a little twisty and windy, but for the most part uneventful, at least until we reached a stone bridge spanning a chasm, and blocked by a dark skinned individual in bright orange robes that bore all the hallmarks of someone elf-marked.

He asked if we were the heroes of Feymott, and upon receiving a tentative yes, remarked that it was excellent and promptly attacked us.

At least they’re getting a little more polite about it. Even if he did have archers on hand.

Getting shot still hurts like a motherfucker. And the asshole on the bridge had a standing fly spell and put a purple wall of fire on the entire length of the bridge. Augmented somehow, probably empowered. Great.

Miaako had, of course, reflexively turned invisible. Rupert flew at the robed man who was floating some distance away of the bridge, who seemed completely unprepared for this. He was also unprepared for the three ultra hot scorching rays I fed him. I’m not in the mood to even pretend to be reasonable.

Fortunately, Reeshka’s energy resistance spell allowed Ceor and Anusk to charge the length of the bridge. Reeshka managed to heal me and then turned invisible. The archers on the other side of the chasm were a little perturbed to find seven hundred pounds of man, horse, and armor in their face. They shot him, but he didn’t particularly care.

That’s when a fireball landed on us. Thanks to the energy resistance, it didn’t hurt us… but it killed my horse and nearly dropped the mule.

This really pisses me off. I was going to try to save him to question and take his stuff, but fuck that. Just. Fuck. It.

I couldn’t aim straight for all three rays to hit, but one did and that was enough. I plastered his body to the opposite chasm wall.

I think Reeshka did something behind me, but I was far too busy planning out the gruesome ways these fools would die.

Meanwhile, Ceor practically trampled one of the archers to death, and Keshemet shot a magic missile across the chasm, to some effect. Rupert then continued across the chasm to maul one of the archers. Miaako had managed to cross the bridge to do the same. I was planning to drop a fireball right on the two archers on the north side of the bridge, but that’s where Miaako and Rupert were, and I’m not quite mad enough yet to attempt to murder them as well. So I just set the remaining one on the south side on fire, and followed it with some magic missiles. Such a nice little utility spell.

Reeshka, meanwhile, started across the bridge with the mule. We’ll see if the fire resistance holds out longer than the mule’s patience. Ceor then hit the archer I’d set on fire hard enough to launch him across the chasm. It was rather impressive, actually. And one of the archers seemed to forget that she was in melee with Miaako.

We ended up with four masterwork composite shortbows, four mithril scalemail, eight potions and eight rings, four sets of two. The robed man who was slowly sliding down the wall had an amulet, a small bag, a pair of bracers, two iron rods, two potions, a ring, and a staff that nearly ended up in the river. Each of the assholes also had a copper amulet marked with the symbol of the Order of the Pure.

And Reeshka managed to save my horse. So that’s something.

Once the bridge was passable again, we proceeded. They seemed to have been camped here a few days, like they were waiting for us.

The bag the mage had contained a spellbook and quite a lot of money, and some average supplies, and a platinum symbol of the Order of the Pure. So they’re sending high ranked officers at us now. That’s nice. He had 443 platinum and 9 gold pieces. Also, the bag was a bag of holding. I’m keeping the spellbook. A quick glance at the spell book proved to be nearly every single spell of the fire type (up to 4th level). Oh, I like this. And the back seemed to be used as a journal. He wasn’t a man of many words, but I got the general gist that their leaders had a vision that we’d be coming this way, and he was selected for the honor of dealing with us. He was in the cell that exists in Kammae, but they don’t seem to have the most recent intel on us, which is good. And was painfully apparent, judging by how unprepared for certain things they were.

I’ll identify the rest of the stuff later.

We continued along our planned route to a small town about midway between Zagora and Kammae. Nothing else of note happened on the way, though we did pass a couple of merchant caravans that we warned about the bridge being a little unstable. Upon reaching the town, the first thing we saw was a pastry shop.

Of course.

We elected to stay the night. Ceor woke me up in the middle of the night, saying that someone was calling him. I didn’t hear anything, but it seemed to be coming from downstairs. We’ve had enough shit at this point, so we woke everyone else up as well because I don’t care to walk into a trap unprepared.

And if I have to get up so do they.

The call was evidently coming from the back of the building, or so Ceor informed us. We started heading for a broom closet, and I smelled talcum powder. Odd. Upon examining the broom closet, Miaako found a secret lever that opened a set of stairs that looked like they hadn’t been disturbed in a long time, and went down a surprisingly long way, ending at a plain oak door.

This just keeps getting better and better.

Ceor saw a pattern on the door, the shape of a portcullis. It wasn’t trapped, not even locked, and Reeshka said there were no undead on the other side. Hopefully this means that nothing will try to eat our faces.

The room proved to be about twenty feet square, and absolutely swathed in cobwebs. There was a small shrine at the back, which Reeshka cleared to show the portcullis symbol.

This guy really likes Ceor.

But it was clearly what he was meant to see, because he said he stopped hearing his name being called. His portcullis medallion was a little warm. Lacking anything better to do, Ceor touched his medallion to the shrine. Decades, if not centuries, of dust and cobwebs blew off and seemed to melt away, little silver flames sprung up at the corners of the altar, and it seemed to be radiating a good aura, and Reeshka said it was consecrated. Miaako found a hidden compartment with a slim book in it, which looked like a prayer book. At least a hundred and fifty years old. And the ink was comprised largely of silver and probably platinum.

As the cobwebs melted away, they revealed murals depicting someone associated with travel and passages. Reeshka had never heard of this god, save a vague memory of a god of portals and passageways. When we looked at the prayer book, every place that the god’s name appeared was blank. His domain also included planar gateways. It was weird, she knew he’d seen his name, but couldn’t remember it. Whatever this is, it’s almost like he’s been erased from knowledge. About the only thing I can think of that can do that would be the intervention of another god, or something equally as powerful, perhaps something that had interfered with Fate itself.

Huh.

Miaako was reading the prayer book, enamored with the ink, and came across references to other gods. The god of the sea, patron of passage across the water, who is currently chained in the city of Kammae, and his wife, the goddess of memory, who was referred to the goddess of passages into history. She’s not forgotten, but screwing with her memory might change things. She supposedly lives beyond the western seas…

I stopped smelling talcum once we came down here, so that’s suggestive. It also occurs to me that this was concealed shrine, and you really only need concealed shrines when open worship of the god in question is prohibited. So this religion might’ve been suppressed before it was forgotten.

As we started back up, Reeshka commented that she’d smelled firedrake steak while she was around the shrine. I’m not really sure what to think about that.

About half way up the stairs, we all felt a cold breeze and a childlike giggle. We all heard it this time. That’s less comforting than anything else we’ve experienced in a while.

We elected to go to the bar and drink heavily.

We did spend one day in town to identify the magical gear that we got. Four rings of Minor Fire Resistance, four Rings of Protection (1). The amulet proved to be an Amulet of Natural Armor (2). (Did that enchantment bleed off some? It seems weaker.) The bracers were Bracers of Armor (4). An Empower metamagic rod and a Widen metamagic rod (good for spells up to 6). Another Ring of Protection (3), stronger than the others. A Staff of Fire, with 33 charges. A Minor Bag of Holding, which is about what I expected. 8 Cure Moderate Wounds Potions (CL3). One stronger Cure Moderate Wounds potion (CL8), and one Potion of Invisibility (CL8). Reeshka took the Empower rod, and I kept the Widen rod. Ceor and Keshemet each kept a ring of Minor Fire Resistance. Ceor kept the amulet, in case he needed to swap Anusk’s amulet out. I kept the stronger protection ring. Keshemet can probably get more use out of the Staff of Fire than I will. We gave the strongest Cure Moderate Wounds to Miaako, since he can move faster than the rest of us. No one else wanted it, so I took the invisibility potion.

We left the next day, though I woke with a memory of a vast stone disc with symbols of Fate and Chance carved around the edge. And when we came downstairs, Miaako was burning something in the fireplace, gods know what.

That’s nice.

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