Finally, someone is going to give us some answers!
As we walked to the back rooms we… well… I should say Vedis was accosted by what looked like a furry lizard that escaped from a dye shop. It turns out the thing wrapped around her face was her pet lizard that came from her dreams. Personally, if I could pull things out of my dreams, I’d be dreaming on a much grander scale…but there’s no telling what benefits our stony friend may have from such companionship.
We make our way to a specially shielded room, and I quickly hop into the booth and look at the bejeweled wizard with excitement while Sephira and Ef Utan take their usual positions around the room.
“All right, then… let’s get this party started!”
Gods… not another history lesson! I do my best to focus on the wizard as he drones on about entities beyond Gods and how lucky we are to be here considering where we’ve been.
“Luck is a lady after all,” I say with amusement as I glance at the rest of our party.
“And an amazing kisser,” the wizard adds with a grin.
I’m not sure what to say to that considering I was merely repeating a saying I had heard in Gheldeneth once. Bes, the patron of luck in Mulhorand, while wise to worship is not one you would particularly think of sharing kisses with; the lion skin and feathered crowns would surely get in the way.
I have to admit his talk of the World Serpent interests me though… for even in Mulhorand do we have the tales of Apep, the great serpent that lives in the celestial Nile to come to life each day and threaten Ra. Perhaps some things are so great that they go beyond the stories of priests and into the realm of universal truth?
The wizard mentioned that someone must be interceding on our behalf, because the World Serpent interceded to give a creature named Vecna powers. Who would want to help us? He mentioned three creatures: The Lady of Pain, the World Serpent, and the Spelljammer itself.
After seeing the Lady of Pain first hand and still living to write about it, I have to think it’s not her. That leaves either the World Serpent playing both sides of the table (so to speak) or the Spelljammer. I don’t know… does a sentient fish-ship have the ability to send out bubbles that grant tattoos? If IT wanted our help… why wouldn’t it just come to us? Perhaps it is unable? It is definitely something to think about when we aren’t on the move.
I am shaken from my reverie by the mentioning of the wizard’s group called The Seekers. Apparently they search for new things for the joy of finding new things. That’s something I can relate to, actually. The true joy is in the doing, after all. I wonder if they will let me join them?
My eyes light up at the mention of getting the use of our own ship. At last… true freedom! But then the wizard whips out a contract and the legal speak begins to buzz from his mouth like a swarm of bees.
Goddess save me from lawyers… they are the ultimate killers of joy. Thankfully Sephira is well versed in their dark language and is willing to look over the contract. From what I could tell before I had to tune it out is that it sounds like we get a ship with a babysitter in trade for no fun and half the profits. It seems that Mulhorrand isn’t the only culture that deals in indentured servitude after all. But… it’s either indentured privateer or hoping that we find the right portal when we need it… and right now we’re just not that capable with portals.
Right now, anyway.
“So what are we waiting for? Let’s go check this ship out!”
As we step out of the bar into an alleyway I can’t help but notice a flash of yellow and red silks through the crowd. My lip curls and my tail puffs up as I snarl, “It’s those damn monks again! Get them!” The monks take off with a shimmer of something magical and before Lenotta even knows to roll her eyes the chase has begun.
Ef Utan pushes a path through the crowds as we attempt to cut them off on a side street and Lenotta manages to talk our way past the city guard when a bar fight moves into the street… but once we spot them scaling the side of the building to get to the rooftops they have moved into my territory. I quickly leap after them with the aid of my clawed gauntlets as I risk a brief glance at Veddis who has managed to keep up with me. I am impressed by the Maenad’s tenacity; there is definitely a fire within her. I wonder why she doesn’t let it show?
Silly cat…stick to the chase!
I deftly leap over boxes and smirk as I notice one of the monks getting stuck in a crevasse in the brickwork that he thought was a short cut. I’m not interested in that one, however…I want the one with the shimmering boots running across the tightrope.
My father and I did this for fun when I was but a kitten, silly monk… you’re not getting away from me now. I pour on a boost of speed and bound across the tightrope to leap on one of the monks as I hear the cursing of the Maenad followed by a large thump. I hope she’s ok…I know she’s ok…with Lenata around she’s got to be.
I have to admit, though…her falling off the side has given me an idea.
Our first encounter showed me that I’m not ready to handle one of these guys in combat by myself, so perhaps a more creative solution is in order. I quickly glance over the side of the building to scope its height. It looks like my boots of landing should protect me from the fall… here’s hoping the monk doesn’t have something similar.
While the monk is stunned I grab him by his braid and plant my feet in his back as I leap over the edge with a whoop of joy. The monk proves with a satisfying crunch when we land that those magic boots of his are nothing like mine. While he’s counting his broken ribs I take the time to pull a rope out of my pack and string him up like a wild boar. Pull my tail, will you… you can ponder your karma while I take your boots.
Eventually we all meet up again no worse for wear, Ef Utan dragging the now unconscious monk that was stuck in the crevasse.
“Are we done accosting monks who run away from us and bestow us with gifts, now?” Sephira asks sarcastically. That sorceress is a hard one to understand. She’s far from naïve, so she must know what it means to have a rival organization put a contract out on you. Perhaps she has seen so much that she just doesn’t care? I’m almost afraid to ask.
After some debate as to where to question the monks that we’ve captured we finally just drag them into a nearby alleyway to let Lenotta and Veddis investigate while Ef Utan and I watch the ends of the alley.
After a moment of concentration I can hear Lenotta’s frustration as to the willpower of monks. Apparently she wasn’t able to get anything. I have to smile at Veddis’ solution, though; apparently her time as a waitress gave her enough pent up anger that when she decided to release it at the monk he couldn’t tell us quick enough who he was working for. Too bad his vocal chords were already cut for just such an occasion. The best he could do was scribble a pictogram in the dust.
Just what exactly is a “Muwara?” It sounds like a noise I make when I’m happy for goodness sake.
Apparently that’s all we’re going to get out of them. Ef Utan simplifies things by knocking them out and we promptly leave them in the alley to continue on our quest.
I’m eager to go see the ship now that I’ve taken care of my grudge… but apparently Veddis wants Ef Utan to accompany her to her apartment while she gets some things for the trip. She did quite well keeping up with me as she did for someone of her size and stature… the least I can do is offer a little patience in return.
I never imagined that a space ship would look like a blood-sucking bug. Until this week, however… I never would’ve imagined a space ship, so who am I to talk? If it flies and can take us places, it can look like whatever it chooses. Let Sepphira examine the details (it seems to be her thing)… I’m going to scope out the living quarters in this thing.
Thank goodness for magic sometimes. I was prepared for us all to have to squeeze into close quarters… but it looks like this ship is a bit bigger than it seems on the outside. It’s still a bit cozy… just nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Lenotta doesn’t understand why I’m hanging up my hammock when we haven’t even signed the papers yet. It seems to me that the signing is a foregone conclusion… so why not scope out a spot while we’re here? One should always take opportunities when they present themselves; you never know if they’ll come again.
After the examination of the ship we decide to go back to the bar to finally sign the documents and get filled in our quest. Our wizard friend is no longer there… but a courier from the Seekers was kind enough to inform us of a few leads of less reputable people that might be brought in for questioning regarding the Spelljammer. After seeing the phrase “Hammership” appear more than once, I have to think that going after this Eric the Human on a groundling ship might be a better idea…Orc barbarians or no. I certainly hope their information is good and we’re not wasting our lives for nothing.
Meanwhile, it seems that Lenotta wants to check out the Seeker’s library while Veddis works a shift at the Laughing Beholder to see what gold and information she can pick up. If I am going to join these Seekers, I guess I should go with the cleric. Perhaps being in a library to do research will make Lenata happy with me for once. It looks like we’ve all got the same idea as Veddis stays to work. With someone like Luigi around, I’m sure she will be safe from meddling monks at the very least.
After talking with that gnome, I am more convinced than ever that indentured servitude is alive and well in the universe. 10% tithe, indeed. Combine that with the 50% tithe they’re taking for the ship and we’re right up the Nile without a paddle. I’m all for keeping our money in a more solid not-taxable state (i.e. magic items)… but according to the rest of the group I need to sell my shiny new boots so we can get the funds to supply the ship.
Goddess forgive me but I am relishing this… as now it comes down to it as the simple Prime with her balls of string that everyone blames is now the one they come to for help. I will say an extra prayer to Bast tonight in thanks.
After the details are finalized and the shopping for ship supplies is sorted out we finally decide on a name for our motley group: The Spelljoined. Rather fitting… considering if it weren’t for this tattoo I think we’d all be glad to go our separate ways.
According to Luigi Eric and his barbarian hordes were last seen at a place called Barr Sinister. Apparently the only thing at this place is a dark and dingy bar that lives up to its name. What better a location to begin our hunt?
As we make our way back and aboard the ship, I hear a sound so gruff and tuneless that I have to believe it comes from a Dwarf. Could that be our babysitter? Maybe not if the size of that gun has anything to say about it…
By the Gods I have never seen a creature such as Wilhelmina Uft. Nine feet tall at least, she towers above us all like Taweret herself. After seeing the weapons she carries I don’t think she’s interested in fertility and childbirth, however. Perhaps these Gif are the children of the goddess? If the situation warrants it, maybe I will ask her someday.
Illustration by Syreene