So much for our theories about Eric and his barbarian hordes; by Bast’s whisker, I never imagined that they would be an undead army! That’s definitely a nifty trick Eric has. Who needs to get close enough for boarding when you can just launch your crew across in handy-dandy bone form?
While I may not know where Bast is anymore, I have to believe she’s still watching for me to have survived being knocked off the deck by one of the undead. Have I mentioned how much I love my rope and grappling hook? It is a wonderful piece of equipment that I will never take for granted again.
While we were not able to defeat them all, thank goodness we were able to drive them away. “Live to fight another day,” I say.
Now that we’re back on Braal, Vedis is going to report the encounter to the authorities, while the rest of us take to the bars to spread some rumors of Eric’s defeat and try and stir the rabbit out of its hole. We’ll see how strong his reputation becomes when everyone learns that a bunch of girls sent him on the run! In fact, I do believe I am inspired to song:
“There once was a black pirate ship
ran by Eric the Drip.
He threw down some bones
then ran away home,
being beaten by girls on a trip.”
Well… doubt I’m going to become a Bard anytime soon, but it will do.
After a few hours of ale, carousing and stories, it seems we managed to catch someone’s attention. Ef Utan caught a suspicious character leaving the bar, so I took off and followed him to a warehouse on the other side of Shu Town. Here’s a tip to thugs: if you don’t want to seem suspicious, don’t use a coded knock on the door.
Trying to disguise myself is right out, so I did the next best thing and scaled the building to find a trapdoor in the roof. Some well placed oil and a few disabled traps later, I’ve got a nice birds-eye view to whatever our friend has in store. I spy six humans as well as the man from the bar sitting at a table surrounded by various goods and a large black banner with a silver “X” emblazoned on it. Could these people be a part of the 10th Pitt? I listened intently as they played cards and the talk began to flow… but all I could make out was “Some got away from Eric…hot foxy bitches…slaves…accelerate our plans.”
Hmm… if we can prove that Eric is associated with the 10th Pitt and a slavery scheme, we could have carte blanche when it comes to taking him in! As my mind tries to piece this all together, the card game ends and the men leave to go in different directions; one to the high city, one to the docks, and the other disappears from sight.
I must go back and report this to my friends… there is much afoot.
After some discussion with the others, we all head back to the warehouse and they keep watch across the street as I return to my perch on the roof. There are men playing cards again, until a knock is heard and one of them opens a trap door in the floor that I hadn’t seen and disappears down it. I wait, but the talk doesn’t advance past the card game they’re involved in and nothing else happens, so I rejoin my friends. According to Ef Utan, numerous people seem to be watching the warehouse, while some are watching the watchers. I noticed someone who noticed me, but they don’t pursue us as we leave and return to the ship.
Ef Utan and Sapphira decide that after that encounter with Eric we need a ballista instead of a catapult, so they do some shopping before we turn in for the night.
Night falls and a multi-colored mist rises as I hear Vedis mutter “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” I turn around to see her behind me then look at myself and realize I’m naked…. In fact… everyone but Lenotta is here and naked, except for Vedis who is wearing her usual sashes and scarves.
“Usually when I have the naked dream it doesn’t involve floating on an asteroid in space,” I mutter as I look to the distance and see a strange temple with bright lights floating on a rock. “I wonder what that is?”
“Only one way to find out,” Vedis answers as she closes her eyes and focuses her mind to form a bridge.
We quickly move across to the temple and climb over a wrought-iron gate to get to the large door that’s oddly cracked open already. I creep up to it to check it out, when another Vedis opens the door and waves us in. “Come on and hurry up, already!”
I glance back at Vedis and she shrugs. “Dream self, maybe?”
We all enter the temple to find a large circular table with what seems to be different versions of us seated at it. There’s me as a cleric of Ptah and even as a (ugh) Anhur! I do my best to hide my revulsion as our host seems to appear… a rather old and grey looking kobold leaning on a staff.
He proceeds to drone on about dreams and alternate realities and how we all have similar histories yet different backgrounds. I do my best not to fall asleep by sharing stories with one of my other selves. Apparently in another dimension I am just as bored by lectures.
The kobold scolds me that I should be paying attention and learning, and I retort that if he would actually get to the point and say something helpful, I’d sit and learn from it.
And that’s when things get interesting as he warns that the walls between worlds are getting thin, and chunks of reality are winking out. Our group hopped the track of predestination when the mist brought us together, and because of that we seem to be the ones who need to look for these holes in reality and try and fix things.
I’ve heard enough talk from clerics and soothsayers that talk of mystical destinies doesn’t faze me… but I definitely have a problem with the source. I mean really…a decrepit kobold? They aren’t exactly inspiring, to be honest. In fact, I have to wonder about all of this as something just rubs my fur the wrong way.
The kobold finally finishes his droning and just as we’re wondering how we’re supposed to wake up from this the mist comes…
Illustration by Syreene