If you ever meet someone who wants to know what it’s like to travel through the Demiplane of Time… feel free to tell them that it’s one of the worst experiences you could ever have.
Trust me on this…unless you’re wanting to know what it feels like to have your insides turned out and your flesh boiled off?
Yeah… thought so.
Anyway… believe it or not, we actually made it through. Much worse for wear and needing ship repairs, mind you… but we made it through.
So of course, it only makes sense that we came out the other side right smack into a war.
“Something tells me that the calculations were a little….off…” I say to Ef Utan as he walks up next to me on deck and we witness a vicious space battle between an Elven Warbird and a ship we’ve never seen before best described as a metal praying mantis.
“Indeed,” Ef Utan replies dryly.
Suddenly an explosion rocks the warbird and a mixture of rubble and bodies floats in our general direction. Amongst the unfortunate elves we just make out some larger figures wearing black and red armor. As one of these figures floats nearer I gasp and turn to Ef Utan, who nods in confirmation; these bodies are Orcs, and very similar to the one that Ef Utan fought in hand-to-hand combat.
“All remaining hands on deck!” Ef Utan yells into one of the communication tubes. “Anyone who is capable, get to the weapons!”
With a flurry of activity we each run to one of the weapon stations and take aim at the Orc ship whose metal arms are trying to tear the wings off the Warbird. I join others with the balista and launch the large bolt at one of the arms, but it seems to do little damage as it thuds into the metal plating with a dull gong sound. Fortunately the catapults seem to be doing a bit more damage. They also seem to have gotten the Orcs attention as a flaming rock launches in our direction.
“Everybody move!” I hear Vedis yell before it slams into our deck with a sickening crunch of timbers and flesh.
I close my eyes and whisper a quick prayer that the sailor finds his way to his god. “Ok… the balista can’t affect the hull… let’s see how it does against the Orcs!” I yell to the crew as we crank the next bolt into place. The bolt launches with a loud “TWANG” and we all cheer as it impales an unlucky Orc on their deck.
“Eat flaming rocks, bitches!” Vedis screams as her catapult crew launches a flaming rock of their own that rocks the ship and sends Orcs overboard.
Seeing that they are no longer alone in their fight, the activity doubles on the Elven warbird. One of them comes out on deck to launch a fireball at their attackers, only to quickly fall to an arrow through the throat. Another elf comes out waving his hands in an incantation, when some sort of bullet rocks past us into our hull and rips a large hole through it. I’m about to run to check on the rest of the crew when suddenly I feel a tingling sensation on my skin and my fur tries to stand on end. I barely have enough time to duck for cover before a crackling flash of light launches from the elf’s hands and the lightning bolt rips through the Orc ship into what must have been it’s ammo storage before it explodes.
Cheers rise up from the rest of the crew as we dust ourselves off. I can’t help but be a little disappointed, as I was hoping to check out the inside of that ship. We seem to have gone from the one odd Orc we happened to have seen on Refuge to a whole slew of them with ships… and I want to know why.
All desires aside, now that the battle is done it’s time to see to the wounded. One of Hatuk’s family signals the warbird and we pull along side of it to offer our support in helping their crew. While we nolonger have Kelson’s services as a back-up healer, Aspodel and I with my wand are able to join Lenata on the warbird while Vedis and Ef Utan stay to tend to our crew and ship.
While using my wand to tend to the lesser wounded, I am able to talk to the survivors and glean that the Orc we saw so long ago was just the harbringer of doom for the Elves… for now a whole race of these Scro have appeared in their ships to wreak havok and war across the spheres. Even more to my surprise, I find that the ship we’re on is actually The Raptor that Aladan and Tavist served on when we met them in Refuge. When I asked about them, however, I discovered that Aladan and his mother are part of the Spiral Fleet, and Tavist hasn’t served on the ship for 15 years.
15 years? Yes, I’d say we were definitely a bit off in our travel plans. I have to wonder what that’s going to mean for us, though. If this is the war that Aionius wanted us to avoid… should we lay low for 5 years? For that matter… does that mean this war will end in 5 years? Heavy thoughts to contemplate indeed… but for the moment, we still have people who need our help.
When I’m done with what healing I coan provide, I find Lenata on the bridge talking with who I assume is either the captain or the next lucky one in the command line.
“We are more than grateful for your assistance to our crew and for your towing offer. If you could take us to the Tears of Selune, we can check in with our fleet and see to ship repairs. We are in your debt.”
“We were more than glad to help, commander,” Lenata reassures the Elf. “There is one thing you could do to help us, however… and that is to provide information. My companions and I have been in deep space for many years, and this war with the Scro is new to us. Any important events of the last 15 years you can tell us would help us reacclimatize ourselves on our return home.”
I won’t bore you all with the details of the talk we had with the Elves as we made our way to their rendevouz point… but the following are some of the major things we found out:
- While Realmspace is still relatively untouched, Greyspace is now the frontlines of the war between the Scro and the EIN.
- Planet Borka in Greyspace no longer exists thanks to Elven priests summoning the wrath of their God in the shape of a fist that crumbled the planet to pieces.
- The Scro have taken Spiral. If you are very careful, however, travel in Spiralspace is still manageable.
- Bral is still an independent port… much to the irritation of the EIN.
- Shou lands have been invaded by Horse Lords.
- Gentil Keep (Thay) has been destroyed.
- The Pan-Olympic Church had their first Olympic Games.
- The Scro resurrected the Witchlight Marauders, and there are rumors of whole planets being wiped out.
- During the Battle of Ironpiece there were Gnomes, Scro, Elves, Neogi, and… the Spelljammer.
- When the Spelljammer left Ironpiece, the EIN Spiral Fleet, as well as the Scro fleet, took off after it and haven’t been seen for several years.
“Waitaminute… what? See what we miss when we’re gone for 15 years?” I say in surprise as I playfully smack Ef Utan in the shoulder. “Figures, doesn’t it?”
Days pass uneventfully as we glean as much information that we can from the crew and tow the warbird to the Tears of Selune. About the 5th day into our travels we pick up ships in the distance and stop to see an Elven Armada flanked by two Warbirds. We hail the ship in passing, and the Armada comes alongside of us for one of their officials to board.
“Thank you for your aid in rescuing The Raptor, strangers. we of the Arrow of Justice will escort them from here. In recompense, we offer you a letter of referral to the Elven Embassy on Dragon Rock in the Tears of Selune. If you present this to them, they will see to your ship repairs. Be careful on your way, however, as the Tears have been found as a convenient place for ambush from the Crimson Fleet. Avoid their crimson sails, and your travels should be safe.”
We thank the Elves and bit them farewell before continuing on our way to Dragon’s Rock. We all agree that information is the goal… but it’s hard to get anywhere with large holes in your ship.
A few days further into our travels a scream is heard above decks. Ef Utan makes his way above first to check it out. By the time I get there I see him tossing a rope to a figure floating like a drowned man off the bow… and watching as the rope flies right through him. Suddenly the ship creaks sickeningly and a dark fluid seeps from the walls. I try to run my finger through the liquid to see what it is… but try as I might I can’t seem to touch the stuff.
Curious… we go traipsing through the Ethereal Plane with not a peep from our haunted ship… but now that we’re on our way to the Elves, they’re coming out in spades. Suddenly I hear Ef Utan yell out behind me.
“Look… we can take you to whatever Afterlife you wish if you all would just TALK to us!” And with that he throws the rope on the deck in frustration and storms below decks.
Eventually we make our way to Dragon Rock, a large arrowhead-shaped asteroid covered with cities and ship docks. Once we’ve peace-tied our weapons and stowed our guns we show our letter to the harbormaster, who points us out to the embassy. Before he leaves, however, Ef Utan tips him some good coin for any tips he can give us for information gathering.
The harbormaster looks to the rest of us standing behind Ef Utan and starts to hem and haw about a place called Lucille’s that is good for information. I wonder if he’s trying to set us up before it dawns on me what’s wrong. I nudge Lenata and smirk as I whisper “Cathouse,” into her ear… which causes her to cough as she tries to cover up her laugh.
“Now if you could just tell us the places to make sure we don’t go to…” Ef Utan prompts the harbormaster, who then tells us not to go to “The Maze” over by the Vanderboren Estate before he leaves to continue his duties.
We make our way through town to the Elven Embassy, which is more like a beautiful grove of trees with high walls surrounding it. Well… I guess when you’re living on a rock in space, it’s good to have a reminder of home. You won’t see me putting sand in my room anytime soon, though. Once there we present our letter to the ambassador, who makes preparations for our ship repairs and suggests an inn for us to stay in while they are done. While I like the Elves far better than Orcs and Scro, it doesn’t mean I fully trust them either… so it relives me when I hear that they will allow Hatuk to stay onboard during the repairs. I just hope that his loyalty to his current employers is stronger than whatever he had with the Elves. What can I say… I like having someone on board who is hairier than me.
After a much needed warm meal and cold ale at the Inn, we decide it’s time to figure out what to do next now that the ship is being taken care of.
“Seeing as there is a Seeker library here, I think Kenari and I should check-in with our guild,” Lenata suggests.
“Yeah, I’m sure they’d love to hear what happened to us,” I chuckle.
“I discovered that there is a Mage Guild here as well,” says Ef Utan. “Perhaps they could help me with new spells.”
“I discovered that they’ve got nice beds here,” Vedis replies as she finishes her ale and scoots her chair back and stands. “I think it’s just a rumor, though… so I’m going to see for myself.” She tosses a few coins on the table and with a wave makes her way upstairs to our room for the night.
“So…” I say as I finish up the last of my ale. “Shall we split up and meet back here for dinner?”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Ef Utan replies as we all stand to leave.
I chucle wryly as I toss some coins on the table. “Let’s just call it a good idea. Whenever we call something a plan it inevitably goes wrong.”
Lenata laughs and claps a hand on my shoulder as we make our way out the door. “The Gods do have a sense of irony, my friend. So tell me again… what was it like to shake hands with Murlynd?”