Campaign of the Month: April 2011

Planejammer: The Spelljoined

Kenari's Journal Part 61
Taverns... the last great universal constant.

Kenari journal

I back up from the now quiet corpse with my hands to my holsters as I look around the clearing nervously. “Orcs? Here? They must be looking for the Witchlight Marauder key!”

“From the looks of the body, it doesn’t seem like they’re that far behind, either,” mutters Melchior as he kneels down beside the furry body to examine it.

“All the more reason for us to get the hell out of here and to the next token so we can leave this accursed place,” growls Ef Utan as he slams his sword into his scabbard and storms off into the brambles.

Eventually the rest of us catch up with the disgruntled warrior and after 8 hours of hiking we decide to take a chance and make camp. Moods are tense and uneasy as we foregoe the usual fire and set up watches throughout the night.

Sleep comes fitfully and in spurts as I toss and turn on the hard ground, but I can’t shake this feeling of dread now that we know the orcs have invaded this storyland. As much as we have been cutting our own path of destruction, we at least have the desire to make things right if we can. The orcs… who am I kidding, the Scro… let’s just say I’ll be surprised if we don’t wake up to find the whole brambles ablaze.

Maybe that’s why my dreams were so strange that night.

I’m walking on an endless field of multi-colored gas that reminds me of the phlogiston so much that I find myself holding my breath in case I’ve been teleported again. Suddenly a deep gutteral voice echoes around me and whispers a litany of violence that I haven’t heard since we fought the ghost of a Scro on that strange asteroid that led us to the Imaskari.

I wake up with a jolt gasping for air and look around urgently to see that the others are also waking up and looking worse for wear. I crawl over to Lenata and whisper as the others start packing up camp in silence.

“Did you all have a dream too?”

Lenata nods grimly. “We need to get out of here.”

“At the very least a drink… I could definitely use a drink,” I mutter as I gather my things and prepare to move through the brambles once again as thunder rattles in the distance.

A few hours later after trudging through the thorns and brambles we come upon a rather large looking building with warm lights and drunken sounds coming from inside.

“Oh my gods… is that what I think it is?” I ask in wonder as I look at a door that could be four times my size.

“Well, you did say you wanted a drink,” Lenata jokes. “You just didn’t specify what size .”

“It looks like the door is cracked… if we work together we should be able to get it open,” Ef Utan offers. The rest of us soon gather with Ef Utan at the door and put what strength we have into it… because apparently I’m not the only one who could use a drink lately.

“Ho now… hold up there, little people… we don’t just serve anybody in here!” a booming voice announces as we finally push the door open.

I look up to see a rather intimidating cyclops behind the bar…. well… he would be if it weren’t for the receding hairline, handlebar mustache and apron, anyway. Thinking fast, I reach into my sash and play “The Publican” card and cross my fingers that the sparkling energy I see around him means something helpful just happened.

“Are you sure you don’t need the business? Things look kind of slow in here,” I say as I look around and take note of the row of black-skinned dwarves with fiery hair sitting at the bar. What are they again… Aesir? I think that’s it.

“Besides, not only am I the best waitress in multiple star systems, but I’m a pygmy giant!” Vedis pipes up proudly.

“Are you now?” the cyclops asks with a grin. “Very well then… she can come in for 500 gold, and the rest of you can come in for one round because you’re friends with her.” He rumages through a drawer and throws a napkin at her that almost covers her in its size. “Best I can do till we find an apron your size,” he mumbles apologetically. “Now let’s see you live up to this claim of yours!”

Vedis folds and ties the napkin around her waist as she rolls her eyes and makes her way behind the bar, while I climb up onto a stool to order a drink. Just in case, I pull out the “Brass Dwarf” card and play it as well, hoping that the sparkling energy around them will make them more suseptible to answering a few questions that don’t have to do with rocks.

With a sharp bang a rather large mug full of ale is set in front of me and I grin, as this one round is probably going to last a while. I wonder if there’s a hangover card in my sash somewhere?

Ef Utan eventually makes his way to a stool and starts sharing stories of battle regarding his prized possession, that Dwarven Battle Mug. Apparently he didn’t embellish enough for their tastes, though, as they proceed to school him in how to brag properly. He deftly changes the topic to Orcs, however, and the fate of poor Brambelson.

“Stupid rabbit,” mutters one of the dwarves as the rest grow quiet.

“Yeah, it’s a shame that he’s not going to come back anymore either,” I mutter as I take a sip of my beer. “The Wax Works went BOOM!” I gesture wildly with my hands and have to grab the counter in order to keep myself from slipping off the stool. As I right myself, I can’t help but notice that the Dwarves are starting to look a little twitchy. I think that news really got them worried, but they’re doing their best not to show it.

“Hey, do you suppose you could give us directions to the Caldera? We’re seeing the sites.” Ef Utan asks casually.

I have to admit, he’s swifter on the deceptive art of conversation than I first gave him credit for. Comes from all the experience being a bodyguard for higher ups, I’m sure.

A rather drunken dwarf points out the window towards a volcano in the distance. Now how in the spheres did we miss that?

“Come on, Kenari… we’re still on a schedule… remember ?” Ef Utan nudges me and hops off the stool to head to the door with the others.

“Alas, poor ale… I hardly knew ye,” I mutter as I leave a gold piece on the counter as a tip and head out the door with the others. “You could’ve let me finish it, at least…”

“And then I’d be left dragging your drunken ass through the brambles. No thanks,” he chuckles. “Now if you aren’t too drunk, how about climbing up to the roof and getting a better view of that volcano for us?”

“You’re such a slave driver,” I mutter as I strap on my claws and work my way up the side of the building to a relatively safe perch by the chimney. “Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good view of it from here… I think it will only be-”


Kenari's Journal Part 60
Et tu, Conspirators?

Kenari journal

“Don’t ask me how it happened, but I think this is a dream,” Vedis whispers as the starlight illuminates a woman in silks chained to an altar on a raised stone dais nearby.

Nine cloaked figures appear from the darkness and encircle the dais as each raises their daggers high in some sick ritual. Ef Utan draws his sword and runs to the dais to try and block the daggers while Lenata mutters a whispered prayer to her god for a spell that might save the woman.

“No!” she calls out in frustration. “My spells aren’t working!”

I reach out with my mind and try to imagine myself crouched on the dais and the woman in silks on the ground beside Lenata… but for the life of me something about her just keeps slipping from my grasp and prevents my new abilities from working.

The cloaked figures strike in unison, the daggers plunging into the helpless woman again and again. Lenata cringes and looks away as the woman screams, but I can’t help but notice that the arm of the one standing in front of Ef Utan passed right through him.

Eventually the screams end and one of the figures cuts open the corpse as the others greedily start reaching into her body and pulling out various amulets and tokens. So this is how they did it… no wonder she was so angry!

“That poor woman…” Lenata whispers.

“Hmmn… let me try something,” says Vedis as she reaches out her hand and freezes the scene. Her brow furrows for a moment and then it’s like everything is happening in reverse as the figures replace the tokens and close her wounds. When it rewinds back to where they’ve drawn their daggers, the scene freezes.

“I wonder why we’re seeing this… and how?” Vedis mutters. “Could this be the dream of the conspirators? Or maybe what is left of the spirit of Sonneray is trying to show this to us?”

“Well since we’re here, let’s see what we can see,” I say as I cautiously squeeze between the conspirators and look at the altar. “I wonder if there’s any writing here that might pertain to the ritual?” As I kneel down to check the sides of the altar I notice some inscriptions along the base in a few different dialects. All of them seem to be references to the same story of betrayal and sacrifice. I stand up to tell the others when a particularly interesting inscription catches my eye. Around the indentation for the head of the sacrifice there seems to be a glyph that looks curiously like the Spelljammer.

“Guys, I think this is where those 10th Pit guys are going to conduct that ritual with the Dream Stone!”

“I just hope that they haven’t already done it,” mutters Ef Utan as he walks around the circle to peer under the hoods. “Why don’t you let this dream play for a bit, Vedis… I want to get a good idea of who is who, and who took what token.”

Vedis complies and after a few minutes we’re able to come up with a list of the betrayers we haven’t encountered yet:

  • Tic-Toc Man takes her eyes
  • Balomar (the puppet!) takes her skin
  • The Night Peddler takes her ears
  • The Weaver takes her hands
  • Some unidentified augmented human takes her brain

When we’re done, it seems the dream has decided that it’s gone on long enough and the figures turn into wispy puffs of smoke before everything goes dark.

The light returns and I’m blinking for a few minutes to adjust before I realize that we’re back on the stage in the theatre again, Balomar and his puppetmaster asleep under Vedis’ power.

“No need for them to wake up again,” says Ef Utan as he draws his dagger and bends down to slice the throat of the sleeping puppeteer. I can hear the cleric’s gasp of shock at such an act, but Melchior nods in approval at justice being done and I just shrug. Better him than me, I say.

“So where do you think the token for the skin is?” I wonder aloud as I grab the dummy and pop its head off before shaking it upside-down to see if anything falls out. Alas, all that comes out is a nasty cloud of sawdust that gives Ef Utan a coughing fit before it fades away.

“The only interesting thing here seems to be this rather hefty diamond I found on the puppeteer, and no you can’t see it, Kenari.” Ef Utan replies as he stands up and pockets the diamond.

“Guys, I think there’s something you should know,” Vedis mutters.

“Again?” Ef Utan replies. “Feel free to tell us these things when they happen, you know.”

Vedis ignores him and continues. “I had another vision when I looked at that altar in the dream… I saw Melchot there for just a moment before it became Sonneray again.”

“Oh no… do you think they already conducted the ritual?” says Lenata.

“Whether they did or not, our goals haven’t changed here, people,” says Ef Utan firmly. “We still need to find the Dream Stone and the Witchlight Marauder key before we can get out of here.”

The group nods and we finish with the corpses of yet another conspirator before leaving the theatre and heading back to the brambles. We manage to make our way for another hour or two before our momentary silence is disturbed by a loud noise ringing out from a northeastern direction.

“That was a gunshot!” exclaims Melchior in surprise. “Do you think someone else is here in the Harrowing too?”

“Let me check it out first, and I’ll come back to report,” I offer as I slip on my gauntlets and disappear into the bushes. I do my best to follow the direction I swear I heard the shot come from when I finally come to a clearing. As I look around I can’t see anyone with a gun who might have made the shot… but lying in a pool of blood and fur with a bullet between his eyes is the unfortunate soul who was on the receiving end.

That fool rabbit.

“Oh geesh,” Vedis moans as the others come into the clearing. “The poor guy didn’t deserve to die that way. He was just a silly rabbit!”

“He was a murderer like the others,” Melchior replies grimly. “Justice has been done.”

“We won’t know what was done here until we ask him,” says Lenata with a look of disapproval at the gunsliinger. “With the help of Celestian, we should be able to ask him what happened.”

The silverhaired cleric kneels over the furry corpse and mutters a prayer as her hands flutter back and forth above his body. Suddenly Brambelsons eyes open and I have to stop myself from taking a step backwards. What can I say… I don’t like the undead!

“Ask me your questions before I finally find my peace, cleric.” the voice drones in a raspy monotone.

“Why were you killed?” Lenata asks gently.

“No idea.”

“How do we get to the next token?” asks Ef Utan.

“With luck.”

“Who killed you?” Lenata asks again.

Brambelson seems to hesitate for a moment… as if he doesn’t know the word for what he wants to say. “… ugly pig men.”

Oh shit.

Kenari's Journal Part 59
The show must go on...

Kenari journal

After a few hours of travel the brambles begin to lessen and finally open up into another clearing with a structure in the distance. As we get closer it has the look of an old wooden theatre.

“A theatre? Here? There’s just something odd about that,” I mutter.

“Like anything is normal around here,” Melchior replies as he walks past.

“I’m just saying,” I continue as I follow the others. “You’ve got all of these characters created by this bard to act out her story, and what does she make them do? Act out another story within the story. It just seems kind of cruel to me, is all… like making a cow eat a steak or something.”

Ef Utan snorts and shakes his head. "Lets stay focused, people… there’s not telling what’s going on in there after the last house we checked out. "

We eventually stop outside the front of the theatre and scope out the three main doors, but can’t find any back doors to speak of. There are some windows up above, however. I gesture towards one with a thumb over my shoulder. “Shall I?”

“By all means, let us know what you see!”

I grin and strap on my gauntlets for a little extra help as I use the eaves and some of the old boards sticking out as footholds. Once I’ve got myself proped on the ledge above I take one of the few clean sections left of my sash and wipe away the dust and dirt to see what I can see. My eyes widen and my ears twitch in surprise before I jump down to the ground to inform the others.

“Well, other than the typical rundown theatre with a stage and dusty seats, there’s a whole pile of Storykin bodies on one corner of the stage while this dark haired guy in a red jacket and a puppet on strings talk to each other.”

“He’s a ventriloquist?” Ef Utan asks in curiousity. I look at him blankly as he sighs. “Is he using his hands to make the puppet talk?”

“No, that’s the freaky thing, " I continue. “The he’s holding the strings of the puppet, but it is definitely talking back to him in a different voice.” I shudder and rub my arms. Demon dolls… what a nasty thought!

“The cook mentioned a Sanguine Playhouse run by a Ballomar,” Ef Utan remembers. “I’m guessing the guy in the red jacket is probably him, so let’s go have a talk!”

I sheath my gauntlets and brush the dust off my hands. Ef suddenly stops as if he remembered something and turns to me with a scroll in his hand. “Before I forget… I figure this might come in handy for you if you ever need a magical enhancement for your weapons.”

“Much appreciated! I’m sure I will put it to good use,” I chuckle as I roll it up and put it in one of the side pockets of my pack.

Once we’re ready to go it only takes a quick check of the doors to discover that they not only aren’t trapped… but they aren’t locked, either. “He must be expecting an audience,” I joke.

“Theatre people never could take a critic,” Vedis replies with a smirk. “I can only imagine how he’ll react to us.”

Ef Utan opens the main doors and strides into the lobby with the rest of us following behind. The faded remnants of what must have used to have been beautiful murals decorate the ceilings. Upon closer look and the size of that satyr’s…. well… this must have been a bawdy playhouse once, that’s all I’m saying. I’m trying my best not to look at what’s left of a rather questionable well-endowed centaur when a movement catches my eye upon one of the cornices. Eeew… is that a bug? Did they really bother to make bugs of this story?

Suddenly the bug leaps down from the cornice onto an old wooden table and speaks. “My name is Grig! Nice to meet you! Pardon me… but have you seen my fiddle?”

“No, can’t say that we have, little one,” Lenata answers with a smile.

Wait a minute… do I hear music? What’s that tapping noise? I quickly turn around to look for the offending sounds and discover that Melchiors foot is tapping. Strangely enough, it looks like he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

The sound of music grows stronger when suddenly a very small violin appears bobbing to and fro in the air from the next room. There’s that tapping again… but it’s getting louder! I look back at Melchior and see that he’s not just tapping his feet… he’s starting to dance an awkward jig. In fact… it looks like the others are starting to do it too.

“What in the 9 Hells are you doing to my friends?” I snarl at Grig as my head begins to pound.

“Not an appreciator of fine music, I see,” the cricket frowns as it backs away.

With a hiss I make a grab for the blasted thing and just manage to snag it with a claw under one of the strings. Quickly I turn to the cricket in order to get him to make it stop… only to find that it has made its way to the swaying Lenata and is working on loosening the clasp of the Heart token around her neck.

Thinking fast, I grasp the struggling violin tightly in my hand and swing my pack onto the ground so that I can stuff it inside one of the inter-dimensional pockets. Play all you like in there… no one can hear you anymore. Crud… I just hope I didn’t put anything important in that pocket.

With the fiddle out of hearing, the dancing curse soon fades and Lenata grasps at her neck. “We’ve got to get that back! Come on, Vedis!” The cleric and the Maenad then take off up the stairs to the balcony after the offending cricket.

I’m about to take off after them when a voice stops me in my tracks.

“Ah… our lead actors have finally arrived!”

A shiver of dread rolls down my spine at the words, and I quickly pull three cards from my sash: The Theatre, The Cricket, and The Twins. Swirls of energy fall over me, Ef Utan and the puppet on the stage. I can only hope a similar effect is helping Vedis and Lenata with getting their token back from Grig.

Ef Utan’s response to the puppeteer’s declaration is much less subtle in its reply as we struts purposely down the isles and promptly conjurs a TK fist that slams the puppeteer into the pile of storykin corpses. I shake off my dread and quickly follow suit with a well-aimed explosive round into the side of the puppet. Ef Utan can handle the other guy… I hate magical dolls! Seriously… they’re too dang creepy! Chunks of wood splinter off of it as its small wooden arms start waving about in what I swear is something I’ve seen Ef Utan do before.

Waitaminute… is it trying to cast a spell?

Before I can try and stop it, however, a squeal comes from above us as that flying monkey of Vedis’ glides down and grabs the offending cricket out of the air between its teeth. Apparently Vedis had the same plan (or I’m finally rubbing off on her) as she takes a running leap off the balcony and slams into the puppet master, the stage and whatever might have been underneath it as arms, legs and wood planks go flying. Arms and legs flail about as she tries to extricate her leg from the new hole in the stage she made without letting the puppet or its master loose.

No sense in wasting a good opportunity…CAT PILE!” I yell as I thrust my hands into my gauntlets and bound down the isles in a leap that lands me directly on top of Vedis.

“Pardon me, just passing through,” I chuckle as I reach over her right shoulder and cut off the puppet’s arm. “Let’s see you cast now, you little bastard!”

I feel the thump of a small body as it lands on my back and squeals in delight at its masters playtime. “Let me go you storykin reject!” wails an angry little voice. Good lizard monkey thing… extra Tanglefoot bags for you if we ever get back to the ship!

“Quick, Balomar… take the token!” Grig yells just before Ef Utan’s boot crunches down on the puppets head and he grabs the token out of the air.

“I don’t think so.”

“Okay, that’s it… time to end this!” Vedis exclaims in frustration before a pulse of energy radiates out from her and everyone but us falls asleep.

Suddenly there is a blast of thunder and everything goes dark in the theatre. Little pinpricks of light like stars shine down from above as it begins to rain upon the stones that we’re now standing on.

“Vedis…” I whisper nervously as I look around at our new surroundings. “What did you do ?”

Kenari's Journal Part 58
Absolutely, postitively... no more pets!

Kenari journal

The last remnants of the hags death throes eventually fade, except for the blasted rain that’s soaking me to the bone and making my fur feel like a wet blanket. Combine that with the ill effects I’m still suffering from that fraking mist, and I feel like I want to crawl into a ball and die just to stop the coughing and pounding in my head.

Thankfully Ef Utan seems to be on top of things, as he quickly and efficiently guts the remains of the hag to get the amulet that represented her tongue back and pulls the Black Nib out of her scraggly hair.

“Hang on, Kenari… we’ll get you feeling better in a moment,” Lenata kindly whispers as she bends over me with her glowing hands. After a few moments it feels like the illness seeps out of me into the ground, and suddenly I am feeling much better. I sit up to thank her and end up grabbing my temples in pain. Oww… still have the remnants of a headache, though.

Lenata smiles in sympathy and pulls a small flask from her belt. “Here, drink this hangover remedy we picked up back on Sigil… it should take care of that headache.”

“May your god bless you, Lenata… you’re a life saver more than a dozen times over!” I mutter gratefully as I take the flask and down it in one gulp. Yes…. thank Bast and Celestian, I think that will do it.

Lenata moves over to help Melchior as I regain my feet and go to see what Ef Utan has found while searching the corpse. I peek over his shoulder and can’t help but notice that he’s found another one of those silver scroll cases like the one we found in the Wax Works.

“Ooo… can I see? Bet I can open it! Hey, did you get that pen, too? I found some parchment on the desk… can I see if I can write something magical? Pretty please?”

Ef Utan rolls his eyes as he’s used to my game by now… but thankfully he hands the items over anyway. I tuck the Black Nib behind my ear and focus on finding the notes enscribed on the scroll case so that I may sing it open like the other.

After a few moments I find it and the scroll tube pops open to reveal not a scroll of summoning or planar creation, but a song. Well damn.

“What is it?” Vedis asks eagerly.

“Looks like one of those bard epics about Lord Mayor Zagyg of Grehawk,” I say with undisguised disappointment as I bend over the scroll to keep it out of the rain. “There’s a few interesting bits about a ‘god trap’ of some kind, but other than that it doesn’t seem that special to me.”

“Well dang it,” Vedis mutters.

“It’s not every day you can find a scroll to create your own Demiplane,” Ef Utan admonishes. “Now come on, I’m getting sick and tired of getting rained on.”

Now that Lenata has managed to remove the spell taking away Melchiors sight, we’re thankfully able to gather everyone together and head back through the columns to where we last saw the Unicorn. Neither it or the goblin are here anymore… so I’m guessing that they were scared off by the thunder and lightning and sounds of battle.

The rain, thank Bast, has decided to stay in the clearing with the columns, so Vedis and Melchior take the time to start a much needed fire so that we may camp and dry ourselves out. As she’s picking up branches she notices a half-eaten pear lying in the ground and picks it up.

“Well that’s odd…” she mutters.

“What is?” Lenata asks curiously.

“You remember those pears the unicorn and goblin were fighting over?” Lenata nods. “Well this one says ‘Fear Not’ on it in tiny lettering. Do you suppose it was magical?”

“Entirely possible,” Lenata replies as she lays out her bedroll by the fire. “The clerics of our temple have been known to make restoratives in the forms of food… it helps them go down quicker.”

The night passes uneventfully for the most part… until my turn at watch, of course. I’m sitting atop one of the ruins and cleaning my gun when suddenly I hear the noises of stomping feet and breaking plants as something comes towards us out of the brambles.

I quickly slip a bullet into the chamber and cock the trigger as Brambelson comes charging out of the brambles and screaming in a blind panic. With a step of his large hind legs he’s leaping over our campsite and into the darkness.

“I wonder what’s got him in such a fright?” I mutter as I uncock my gun and holster it. I jump down and wake the others, as it’s almost daylight anyway.

“What was all that noise about?” Melchior mutters as he grabs for his hat to block the light of the wooden sun ratcheting into place in the sky.

“Something has the rabbit scared out of his mind,” I inform them. “It might be a good idea to pack up camp while I check it out.”

“I think she’s just trying to get out of packing her bedroll,” Vedis mutters.

You know… never thought about that. I’ll have to remember that for next time!

I carefully make my way through the brambles until I notice something red in the distance. What is that… a piece of fabric, maybe? I make my way closer and scan the clearing. It doesn’t look like there’s anyone left here, whatever it was that scared Brambelson. I crawl over to the fabric and see that it is indeed a piece of scarlet and black fabric, torn and hanging from one of the brambles. I gingerly separate it from the thorns and pocket it in my sash, along with an interesting beaded mask laying on the ground. It’s got beads and feathers on it like it’s from a festival… but it doesn’t appear to be magical. Ah well… perhaps I can use it in one of my performances!

Not seeing any remnants of danger, I make my way back to the others and inform them of what I found. Soon after we return and Melchior scans the edges of the clearing in hopes of finding some kind of tracks belonging to whomever left that fabric.

“Dang it… there’s tracks all right, but they’re all like several weeks old!” he exclaims in frustration as he hits his thigh with his hat. “Do you suppose time goes differently in the brambles than in other places?”

“Hey guys, there’s something I need to tell you,” Vedis says with chagrin. Ef Utan turns to look at her with a raised eyebrow and gestures for her to get on with it. “Well…you see… when that hag died, I had a vision of sorts.”

“Of sorts? Do tell,” I chuckle.

“I heard the hag mutter in my mind something about the ‘Red Skinned One’ and how she was the only one powerful enough to rewrite the story. That, and I saw an image of her… she has dark red skin, glowing eyes, and these curved horns by her temples.”

“Sounds like a Tiefling bard to me,” Ef Utan mutters. “Well, she’s obviously not here , so lets follow those tracks and see if they lead us anywhere interesting.”

Melchior takes the lead this time, as I’m still trying to pick up on all the things he mumbles about when he tracks, from what it means when moss is one one side or the other to which direction a twig is broken in. We make our way through the brambles for a bit, until he raises his hand up to halt us and bends down to peer at the grass.

“What did you find? Something interesting?” I ask as I look over his shoulder.

“Sssh…” he admonishes as he holds up a finger to his lips. “There’s what looks like a diamond over there in the grass,” he points ahead of him and I can just see a sparkle through the foliage, “but I think it’s moving.”

Sure enough it seems to have heard us, as it’s now moving at an odd gait out of the grass towards us.

“What is that,” Lenata mutters as she peers at it. “Are those legs made out of ectoplasm?”

“It’s a Psicrystal!” Vedis explains in joy as she kneels down and beckons to it. “Come here, little guy… where’s your master?” The psicrystal then skitters through the grass towards Vedis’ and jumps into her outstretched hand.

Vedis closes her eyes and concentrates for a moment. Perhaps she’s speaking to it with her mind? Hard to tell with psions.

“It says its name is Jane, and it wants to find its master,” she replies as the psicrystal crawls out of her hand and up into her hair to look like a piece of jewelry.

“Hmmn… if it is sentient, perhaps I could try something. I promise I won’t hurt you, Jane,” Lenata reassures the psicrystal before closing her eyes and muttering a prayer to her god. “From what you told us of your vision, Vedis, I think Jane’s master is the same Tiefling bard that we need to find. I could see a clear image of her in its mind, and it fits your description exactly.”

“Well that just made things a bit easier,” says Ef Utan. He then turns around and continues the trek through the brambles… but I swear I could hear him mutter something about ‘blasted pets.’

The sound of thunder in the distance puts speed in our step as we make our way through the brambles yet again, hoping it will lead us to our next location… and the next token.

Kenari's Journal Part 57
Bards never could take a critic...

Kenari journal

“Mmmmnnnn…” the shadowy figure moans as it drifts towards Lenata’s amulet with an outstretched bony hand.

“Can’t you speak?” Lenata asks it as she steps back nervously. “Is this what you want?” she shakes the amulet in her hand and the creature moans even louder while clutching at its emaciated chest. It then briefly clutches its throat and then covers its empty eye sockets before moaning again.


Hmmn… a hag who can’t talk… I pull the cards out of my sash and flip through them till I find the card that I knew I had seen…The Mute Hag. Maybe this will help… I concentrate and throw the card down on the desk full of crumbling parchment and watch as a faint light appears around the hag and then disappears.

“Maybe if we give her the tongue back,” Ef wonders as he removes his token from around his neck and holds it out in front of him. The hag then lurches forwards towards him while grabbing at her throat.


“Are we sure we want to do that?” Lenata asks worriedly. “We need those tokens to get out of here, right?”

“Look at our past record,” I snort as I work my way behind the hag. “How do all of our encounters with creatures around here end up? We might as well try to get some questions answered first…”

“Let me see what I can read from her,” Vedis offers as she puts a hand to her temple and closes her eyes. “Pain…loss… betrayal… and a desire for bargaining. Definitely not undead, though.” She turns to the hag and calls out. “Shadow of Sonnarae… can you understand us? Nod once for yes.”

The hag nods and then moans again as she clutches her throat and points towards Ef Utan.

“Well, here goes nothing,” he says as he steps closer and holds out the token. He then quickly steps back as the hag snatches it and stuffs it into her mouth. After a moment she convulses and lets out a rattling sigh like that of a death rattle.

“Give me my heart and eyes, and I will give you what you seek…” it whispers hollowly. “You want to leave this place… but you don’t have the skill to use the Black Nib! Restore me, and I will show you the way out.”

“Yeah… I’ve heard that one before,” I snort. “Death is an easy ‘way out’ in any situation, and I’m sure you’d be glad to help us along.”

“Let’s just kill it!” Melchior declares.

“What?” Vedis calls out in confusion. “No… why? We were just…”

The hag gestures with her arms and suddenly a wave of greenish-yellow mist shoots out from her to engulf Vedis and Melchior in a sick-smelling cloud. Sweat beads on his yellowing skin as Melchior drops to his knees. “Told you…” he moans weakly.

I take my moment to strike and try to grab what I noticed to be a feathered quill behind what used to be her ear. Where else do writers keep their pens? That hag is fast though, as she spins out of reach and avoids my grasp before drifting into a corner and disappearing from sight.

Oh crap… I don’t like this!

I scan the area in a panic as Ef Utan swings about blindly in the space where we saw her last, but to no avail. I quickly put my back to a column and gulp down a potion that is supposed to protect me from evil things… at least that’s what the vendor on Greyhawk said, anyway. If something is going to appear out of no where to terrorize me, I want every chance I can have to make it difficult for them.

Good thing, too… as the hag suddenly appears again behind Ef Utan and grabs his head between her bony fingers. He screams as his features seem to melt and change, but manages to push her away with a yell of desperate effort before dropping to his knees.

Dammit… where did she go?

“Oh no… you’re not doing that again!” Lenata yells as she reaches into a pouch and flings a handfull of glitering dust over the area that settles around the outline of the hag just as she strikes out at Melchior.

“MY EYES!” he screams out as he scratches at his face in a panic. “Murlynd help me, I can’t see!”

I would feel sympathy for the blind gunslinger if I had the time… but I find myself suddenly occupied with getting out of the way as Ef Utan mutters the activation word of his sword and sends a fireball into the middle of the fight. Your own fault for telling him how to use that thing, Kenari…

Lenata runs over to me as we take cover behind some of the columns to escape the blaze. “Are you ok?”

“Nothing singed here thank the gods,” I mutter as I peek around the corner to try and pick up on the shimmering outline of the hag. “Do you think he got her?”

I turn and see the silver-haired cleric holding her hands out over my gauntlets and muttering. When she’s done she looks up and smiles. “I pray to Celestian that he did… but just in case, I added a spell to your gauntlets that should help.”

I nod to her in thanks as she leaves, just catching the muttered name of Melchior. Oh gods… I hope he’s allright!

I strap on my newly ensorcelled gauntlets and ready myself to join the fight as Vedis spies the glittering outline and sends it backwards into one of the ruined columns with a fiery push of energy from her outstretched hands. I jump onto some of the crumbled marble and launch myself at the slouched hag hopefully before she can recover. My claws rake across what I think is it’s face and chest before a searing pain rips across my stomach and sends me spinning to the ground in a growing pool of blood.

Shit… shit… shit… this is not how I was hoping to try the new powers the Imaskari gave me… if I live through this I hope they don’t give me crap for not telling them yet!

Vedis and Ef Utan step up with their weapons, giving me a moment to pull off my sash and press it into my stomach as I crawl to a place of relative safety behind some of the marble ruins. With one hand I claw out and pull myself up into a lean against a column as I frantically search for the silver hair of the cleric. There… behind the others… she’s treating Melchior…

“Forgive me, Melchior… but I really need some help right now!” I mutter weakly as I close my eyes and focus my will on the gunslinger and all of the details around him: the color of the grass, the jagged edges of the marble, the loose bricks under his feet and the scent of lavender that always seem to come with the cleric. I focus on those details and how they would feel to me if I was there instead of him… when there is a gentle “pop” in the air and suddenly the smell of lavender isn’t just in my imagination.

“By the Gods, Kenari… what did you just do?” Lenata asks in confusion as I suddenly appear next to her.

“Tell you later…” I joke weakly as I pass out.

“Where the hell am I?” Melchior yells in the distance.

Fall, dammit!”

I am jolted back into consciousness by the frustrated scream of Vedis shaking the columns and everything around them with her sonic vibrations. “I think he’s making her angry,” Lenata jokes as she finishes her healing spells over me. “Be more careful next time, ok?”

I stand up gingerly and stretch to find that my stomach is now completely healed. My leathers and sash, however… they could definitely use some help. Images of the black-furred leatherworker waiting for me back on the ship come unwanted to my head. I miss him so much… but I have to remain focused!

With a snarl and a shake of my head I leap back into the fray. It takes all of our combined efforts before the hag seems to weaken… but not before it lashes out with that damn green mist again. Suddenly my fur feels too thick on my skin and I’m struggling to hold down the bile that’s rising in my throat.

Ef Utan swings yet again with his flaming sword, but this time burns a deep cut from clavicle to ribs. “My HEART!” she screams as she falls and the sky grows dark with the rumblings of thunder.

Without warning random bolts of lightning streak through the air into rubble, causing us all to run for cover until the last death throws of the Shadow of Sonneray subside in the now pouring rain.

I almost feel sorry for the hag that was once such a benign and powerful bard… but there just wasn’t anything left than the hatred and revenge that kept what was left of her going. I just hope her soul can finally find peace.

Kenari's Journal Part 56
I never liked pears anyway...

Kenari journal

Once again we attempt to make camp in one of the clearings of the brambles as Lenata summons food & water with her magic and Melchior pulls out his pipe.

“You’ve been holding out on me, mister!” I joke as I sit down next to him and work on starting a small fire. After an hour we agree on shifts and take turns on getting some sleep before we look for the next token.

It’s around 3rd watch that I feel her boot nudging me in the side. “Get up, Kenari! I’m hearing some weird noises out in the brambles,” Lenata whispers urgently.

Thanks to that ring I found so long ago now I’ve never really needed that much sleep or food anymore… so it didn’t take much before I was sitting up and listening to the noises on the wind.

“Strange… it’s like a thumping noise…” I mutter.

“Not like that heartbeat from the pyramid I hope,” says Lenata with a shudder.

“No, thank the gods… this is more like… like a rabbit thumping on a log, maybe? Hey… do you think it could be Brambleson? He did run away after that duel with Vedis, after all.”

“I hope that’s all it is,” she whispers.

“Well whatever it is, I’m taking it as a sign that we should move on,” I reply as I get up and we proceed to wake the others.

“Hey, do you hear voices?” Melchior asks as he stands at the edge of the clearing.

I walk up to Melchior and give a listen… and indeed, there is some indistinct muttering in the distance. “Why don’t you guys finish picking up camp and I’ll go check it out?” I offer as I strap on my claws.

“Be careful,” he replies with a nod and a hand on my shoulder before re-joining the others.

I crouch low and make my way through the brambles and bushes until I hear the mumbled voices becoming more distinct. Hmm… from the tone it sounds like they are arguing over something?

I decide to take a peek, hoping that their own argument will keep them too busy to notice little old me. Peering through the bushes ahead I can make out a clearing filled with tarnished angel statues and white marble ruins almost reminiscent of the kinds I saw on Nova Roma… but the owners of the voices are something totally new.

To the side of the ruins seems to be an abandoned orchard of pear trees, and underneath one of them is a rather agitated unicorn with a pear on the tip of his horn. “Nyah-nyah, you can’t have the pear!” it calls out to a frustrated little goblin who seems to be trying to take the pear for his own.

Well, that doesn’t look too dangerous at the moment… I’ll head back and tell the others so we can check it out together. At the very least, maybe we can get some fresh rations! Although… who knows what would happen if we ate story fruit… with our luck we’d get cursed and have to stay here six months out of the year.

I quietly make my way back to the others, who have now finished packing up camp. “Strangest thing over there,” I say as I gesture with my thumb over my shoulder. “There’s some unicorn playing Keep-a-Way with a goblin!”

Waitaminute…unicorn… I think there’s a card for that! I reach into my sash and flip through my cards and lo and behold, there it is… a picture of a Unicorn with a pear on its horn. Well that settles it for me, anyway.

“Might as well check it out,” Ef Utan declares as he adjusts the straps on his swords. “Maybe it will lead us to the next token.”

“Unicorns… I thought they only appeared to virgins?” Vedis wondered aloud.

“Apparently the stories were wrong,” I snort as we make our way back to the clearing to find that the unicorn and the goblin are still at it over the pear. I concentrate and play the Unicorn card in my hand before joining the others, and can just notice the subtle shimmer of energy that falls over it before disappearing.

You can’t have a pear… only the Goblins can take them,” the unicorn says in a huff as Vedis tries to take one of the pears from the tree, but can’t seem to grab it.

“But why?” she asks in frustration.

“Because only the Goblins can take them!” it replies simply.

“That must be the way the story is written,” says Lenata.

“Pears aside…” Ef Utan begins as he gets the unicorns attention away from the grasping goblin, “what’s that way past those marble columns?”

The unicorn looks towards the columns and shudders. “Nothing that way but unhappy endings…”

“Why unhappy?” Lenata asks the unicorn gently.

“Because that’s where she wrote her stories… before they ate her,” it replies forlornly.

Melchior groans in frustration and steps forward. “Look, horse …. I don’t give a hoot about your fruit… I just want to know if the Black Nib is that way or not.”

The unicorn trots backwards a few steps and neighs. “Yes, yes…. it’s there with her writing desk! Now just leave me alone!”

Suddenly the goblin makes its move and leaps up to grab the pear from the tip of the unicorns horn while it was distracted. “Aha! That’s what you get for stealing it from me in the first place!” it cries before it runs off with the unicorn chasing after.

“Well, so much for that then,” Vedis mutters as we continue past the orchard and through the crumbling columns. A shiver runs down my spine as the air turns chilly… but Lenata seems bothered for other reasons.

“I don’t like it here,” she whispers as she runs her hands up and down her arms to warm herself.

Once we move through the columns to the clearing beyond, I begin to see why. Rusty red stains upon an ancient stone dais are all that is left of whatever horrific act the unicorn spoke of. Rusty red stains of blood… and a fine wooden writing desk off in a corner, slightly hidden by the numerous columns.

My curiousity gets the better of me and I quickly move to the desk to search it for the Black Nib, while the others search around. It isn’t till Lenata pulls out the token from around her neck that a tall gaunt hag-like creature steps out from behind one of the pillars and gestures at us… well Lenata… well… actually… the token around her neck if you ask me.

Kenari's Journal Part 55
And the walls came tumbling down...

Kenari journal

“So what’s in the safe, already?” Vedis yells out in frustration from her place of safety behind the corner.

Oh yeah!

I look up at the small door as it creaks open to reveal… a single silver scroll case resting on a pair of teak hooks. “It’s a scroll case from the looks of it… don’t know what’s inside it, though,” I call out.

“Trapped?” asks Ef Utan as the rest come from around the corner to take a look.

I can just spy the catches under the hooks that will surely give way and activate something if the case is removed. “Oh yeah, it’s trapped.”

“Well, assuming that these traps aren’t getting any easier now that we can actually see the prize… what do you suggest?”

“Hey Ef… you’ve got that spell that does that magic hand-grabbing thing, right? Could you take cover around the corner and use that to grab the case?”

“I have to have line of sight to the object to make it work, unfortunately,” he replies with a shrug.

An idea strikes me as I pull my little hand mirror from my sash. “Couldn’t we use some mirrors so you could still see it? Any of you guys have another one?”

Lenata pulls a small mirror with the symbol of Celestian on the back from her pack and hands it to me with a smile as Ef shrugs in resignation. “Sure… why not… worth a shot, anyway.”

A few creative applications of twine later we’re taking cover behind the corner and crossing our fingers that it works as Ef squints at the mirrors and mutters the words of his spell. I close my eyes and plug my ears, as I have no idea what to expect from this one… but all I end up feeling is his boot in my side as he tries to get my attention.

“It’s not working,” he mutters in frustration. “It’s like there’s some kind of barrier on that safe where magic just can’t get through.”

Melchior then steps up and pushes his hat back on his head. “Well, no offense to your magic and all… but when all else fails, perhaps we should try the old fashioned way.” He then scoops one of his guns out of his holsters and spins it for effect. “Get behind cover, everybody… I’m going to see if I can knock it off those hooks with a well-placed bullet!”

I’m actually eager to see this one, as Melchior has displayed a skill with his guns that I’m not sure I could ever achieve. The others resume their places around the corner as I do my best to peek around his side to watch the action. With a click and a bang the bullet fires and TING! it strikes the scroll case, launching it off of its hooks… where it’s immediately followed by a BOOM! as the shockwave of the explosion from the trap sends the case flying down the hallway.

“Gotcha!” Ef yells as he snags the case out of the air with his Mage Hand spell and tucks it into his belt.

“Um… guys?” Vedis looks worried as she points up at the cracks forming ceiling. “I think we should get out of here…”

Now that she mentions it… I can feel vibrations coming from under the floorboards.


The rumbles and vibrations increase as we take off down the hallway… when suddenly jets of melted wax start to shoot up through the cracks in the floor. I spin out of the way as wax sprays upwards and dive through the doorway into the room beyond… where I immediately have to dodge falling crates as the walls shudder and shake. “This whole place is going to go! Come on!”

Vedis emerges from the house behind me with her goggles and hardened skin giving her some protection from the geysers… but I can’t see anyone else through the dust and the wax. “Where are the rest of them?” I call out worriedly.

“Shit! Stay here!” she replies as she covers her head and runs back into the chaos.

No…… this can’t be good. Come on guys… you’ve got to make it out of there!

Just as I’m debating whether I can make it back in there the doors crash open with the force of Ef Utan charging through them… with Vedis slung over his shoulder and the others following close behind. Suddenly there is a loud WHOMP! as the roof explodes and a shower of melted wax and wood fragments comes raining down on us all.

“Stay close!” Vedis yells as she reaches up from her position on Ef’s back and fires her Cold Energy Pulse into the sky… creating a relatively safe zone for the moment as the scalding wax falls to the ground around us. “Thank Morpheus…” she mutters as Ef Utan sets her back on her feet.

“I guess we put the place through one explosion too many,” I joke as a way to relieve the stress of the moment. I don’t even want to think about how many times we came close to dying in there. “Shall we see if that scroll case was worth all of the fuss?”

Ef Utan pulls the silver scroll case from his belt and hands it to me. “I’m rather curious myself.”

It’s an interesting piece of work… quite a lovely silver case with leaves and vines engraved along it. When I try to open it, however… neither of the endcaps want to budge. “Hmmn… should’ve figured it wouldn’t be that easy,” I mutter. I run one of my nails along the engraved patterns to see if I can detect a recessed button, but that’s a negative too. I’m about ready to bang it against a rock like a human when my eye catches something odd in the pattern of engraved leaves: musical notes.

“Okay… I’m going to try something, but I swear if I hear any jokes about caterwauling somebody is going to get cut,” I joke before taking a deep breath and doing my best to sing the notes engraved along the side of the tube. Suddenly there is the sound of a click from inside of it… so I continue to sing the notes until the clicks continue and the endcap of the case releases.

Vedis cheers as the case opens and the rest gather around me as I carefully pull out two sheets of parchment and unroll them. I scan over them and pick out enough forumlae that I can tell this is magical writing for spells. “Hey Lenata,” I ask as I hold the scroll up to face her. “What does this say?”

The priest mutters a few words and her eyes begin to glow softly as she scans the parchment and steps back with a gasp. “By Celestian… this is a scroll for creating your own Demiplane!”

“Yes!” Vedis exclaims and pumps her fist. “I’ve always wanted my own vacation home!”

“Do you think they used this magic to create the plane we’re in?” Ef Utan asks as Lenata reads over the second scroll and grimaces. “What is the second one about?”

“Ugh… it’s for summoning a… a Froghemoth!” she replies in disgust. “Why would anyone want to do that?”

“Maybe they have trouble with Flyhemoths,” I snort as I carefully roll the scrolls back up into the case and place them in my sack for safe-keeping.

“Those scrolls are incredibly high level magic, Vedis… there’s no way any of us could use them now… but they are worth keeping safe for later purposes,” Lenata says to a now despondent Vedis.

“Well, if nothing has come out of the rubble or underground by now after all of that… I think we’re done here, guys,” says Ef Utan as he scans the area for activity. “What say we move on?”

“Back into the briarpatch we go…”

Kenari's Journal Part 54
All else fails... blow it up!

Kenari journal

I can feel the searing heat at my back as I dive out of the room of canopic jars and the shockwave of the blast knocks me into the wall. Great… I’m never going to hear the end of this one from Ef Utan… let’s think of a story quick!

“Kenari? What happened?” Lenata asks in concern as they all hurry around the corner to see what happened.

I wince at the disapproving look from Ef and wave them off for a second as the ringing clears from my ears. “They definitely don’t want anyone messing with those jars,” I mutter and gesture towards the remnants of wax, pottery and pieces of internal organs all over the floor of the room. “But look at what was in them!”

Vedis looks and promptly turns away with a moan. “Disgusting!”

Lenata gasps in shock as she takes in the mess of reagents and organ shaped lumps. “They were making homunculi!”

“Which is exactly why I feel we need to destroy these things. In fact, I am rather determined that these things are going to go BOOM,” I conclude.

“I agree… but we’re not about to have you risk your life again,” Ef replies. “There’s got to be a better way to do this.”

“Well… I’ve got a rope in my pack, we could always tie it around the other jar, stand around the corner, and pull it down that way?” Melchior offers.

“Works for me!” Vedis grins. “Let’s do this!”

After a few minutes of careful tying, we give the rope enough slack that we’re crouching around the corner and down the hall by the tapestry they discovered earlier. Ef Utan, ever the bodyguard, is in front with his back to the explosive room while Melchior readies to pull the rope. I’m thinking of how I will explain all of this to Bast when I see her when the countdown begins.



The hallway shakes with the force of the explosion as dust and plaster rain down from above… but fortunately the majority of it was contained in the room. I look around to see that everyone else seems no worse for wear before peeking around the corner. “Woah… I think we got more than one jar in that blast.” The walls, floor and ceiling are splattered with organs and pottery shards as what’s left of the wax drains into the now exposed holes in the floor.

“Yeah… I think we’re done here,” Ef Utan confirms as he steps around to look. “Now come on, or have you forgotten that safe in the wall we found behind the tapestry?”

My ears perk up and I grin. “You know, I did forget about that!” I also forgot about the cards… because now that I think about it, I believe we there is one called “The Waxworks.” Doh! As we walk down the hallway I slip it out of my sash and let Ef walk ahead before playing it. A slight energy radiates over us all, and then disappears.

I slap my hands together and rub them excitedly as I look at the tapestry. “You said it’s psionic, right?” I ask Vedis as I scan it for any kinds of traps around where it’s hanging.

“Yup… it’s radiating psionic energy like you wouldn’t believe,” Vedis answers. “I’m willing to bet that it’s psychoportation power.”


Vedis sighs. “Using psionics instead of magic to teleport.”

I fight the urge to lick the tapestry and declare it mine. “Okay then… well, it definitely looks like the same artist who did the tapestry of the Spelljammer back at the Portaljammer Bar. Look, you can even see her signature underneath the tail. It doesn’t look trapped though…. so…” I grab the tapestry by the edges and with a flick of my wrists it flies off of its hangers and I am rolling it up to put it in my pack. “… I guess I will just store it for safekeeping!”

Lenata giggles behind me as Ef Utan rolls his eyes. “Fine… but what about the safe?”

Ah yes… the safe! I lean in and peer carefully around the edges of the small door in the wall, as I fully expect to see some traps. Okay… there’s a poison needle trap… and another…and another… and that one is a lightning spell, and… Bast help me.

I step back and whistle in shock… as I’ve never seen so many traps around a door in my life. “I don’t know, guys… I actually don’t think I can handle this one.”

“What do you mean?” Ef Utan asks in concern.

“Well… let me put it this way. If I opened this door now, I would turn into a poison pincushion just in time to get struck by about six lightning bolts… at least.”

Melchior whistles. “Well then… what do we do now?”

“Hey now, I didn’t say we weren’t going to open it, did I? When something has that many traps on it, it’s bound to be good! We just need to think of another way to do this… because I think I probably already used up one of my nine lives on those jars back there.”

“Speaking of the jars… what if we just find a way to activate all of the traps from a distance?” Ef suggests.

“We could blow it up again…” says Vedis.

“I’ve got some bottles of Alchemist Fire!” says Lenata.

“I’ve got some powder horns and extra bullets… we could use it to make a fuse that leads to a pile of ammo and Alchemist’s Fire and blow that trap door to kingdom come!” Melchior finishes with a grin.

Have I ever told you how much I love my friends?

“Okay, if we’re going to do this, we need to make sure that we have a clear path outside before we set it off,” I tell the others. “Melchior and Vedis, you two guard that back door we came in. Ef and Lenata, you guys make sure that hallway is clear. I will set up the explosion, so when you see me running outside, do try and keep up.”

“All right guys, that sounds like a plan to me. Everyone cough up whatever spare ammo, gunpowder or Alchemist Fire you’ve got to Kenari and move to your stations,” Ef Utan orders.

After a few minutes I’ve got a pile of bullets, four bottles of Alchemist Fire, and two powder horns to try and set off the world full of hurt waiting in that door. It’s only when I feel the pain in my chest that I realize I’ve been holding my breath as I carefully place the last of the bullets on top of the pile.

I back away slowly until I round the corner and give the nod to Ef Utan, who calls out to Melchior to pull the rope to knock over the candle that lights the gunpowder and… well, you get the idea.

“Fire in the hole!” I hear him yell from the back door and we all quickly run out to join him… with still no trace of activity from the mansions residents. “Well, if this doesn’t wake them up I don’t know what will!” I chuckle as we all gather outside.


I swear, the force of that explosion lifted the house off of its foundations for just a second before it settled again. We wait a few seconds for any signs of activity after our second explosion of the day… yet still nothing.

“Maybe this Marsalee is deep underground?” I wonder aloud as I do my best to tame my now static-filled fur.

“We’ll keep an eye out for her while you go check that trapped door,” Ef Utan replies as he draws his katana. “I just hope it worked.”

While the back door was intact, the door to that hallway was unfortunately in much worse shape; it took our combined efforts to remove the rubble from the doorway before I can squeeze my way through again. Eventually I make it through the rubble, burnt wax, and scattered poison needles to find that little door perfectly intact… with the traps in the process of resetting.

“F**k me!” I blurt out as I pull my tools from my sash and scramble to unlock the small door. “No…no….no…not going through that again! You can take your lightning and stick it up your…”


I breathe a huge sigh and fall to my knees in relief as the door springs open… and that’s it.

Kenari's Journal Part 53
A conspiracy revealed...

Kenari journal

As we get closer to the mansion we can see that there must be activity inside. Columns of greasy smoke churn from the chimneys on the roof as the smell of burning wax pervades the area. All of the windows are boarded, however… which makes me wonder. Are they trying to keep things out, or in?

Melchior seems to notice something on the ground and kneels down for a moment to inspect the dirt. “Hmmn…. there seem to be tracks coming from the house, but none going in that I can find.”

“That goes along with what Alagon said, then,” says Vedis. “Storykin are reborn in there and come out, but don’t have any reason to go in.”

“Assuming we’re going to avoid the main entrance again, shall we see if we can find a back door?” I suggest. The rest of the group nods in agreement and we make our way around the house to find a nondescript back door for me to investigate.

After a few moments I whistle as I follow some cleverly hidden wires to a set of holes in the ceiling with the remnants of wax around the edges. “I get the feeling that they don’t care for visitors,” I say sarcasticaly to the others as I disable the traps and unlock the door.

Once I’m done the doors creak open to reveal a small room filled with crates and creepy wax mannequins. On the wall is a small plaque in a language reminiscent of Ancient Thorass with a warning. “Visitors will be scalded.”

“How nice of them to put the warning after the trap,” Vedis mutters.

“Guys… I don’t like these mannequins,” Melchior warns. “Take a look at this one… it looks like Robelar of the Circle of Eight back on Greyhawk!”

“A big-wig, I take it?” I ask, as in our few trips to Greyhawk we spent more time shopping than anything.

“Yeah, you could say that.”

“There’s a slight magical aura to them, but nothing that really stands out,” Ef offers as his eyes glow with his spell.

“Check out this door behind the crates, though!” I reply as I move some of them out of the way to find a small hidden door. “Shall we check it out?”

“Ladies first,” Ef replies with a gesture of his hand at the door. I chuckle and run my fingers along the edges of the door inspecting it for the traps that all hidden doors seem to come with these days. Lo and behold, I am not disappointed, either; as I get to the handle I find a small indentation and a rather nasty needle that seems to be coated in something. “Come to mama,” I whisper as I pull out my tools and manage to disengage it from the door intact. “You never know when this might come in handy!” I then wrap the needle trap carefully and place it in my pack for safe keeping.

Once the traps and locks are taken care of we open the door to reveal a 5ft wide empty hallway. Yeah right…empty. I carefully make my way down the hallway a few feet at a time with Ef Utan following behind as I inspect the floor carefully. We make it a good ways down the hallway when suddenly I hear a click and freeze as the door we came in slams shut. Ef turns around and is about to go back to the door when I notice the holes opening in the ceiling and launch myself into his back just in time to push the both of us out of the way of the jets of hot wax shooting down where we once stood.

“Son of a… is it just me or am I detecting a theme?” Ef Utan groans as he sits up and rubs his head.

Ow…ow…ow… definitely not doing that again. “I don’t know… but I am about ready to throw away my candles out of spite,” I groan as I help him up and we go back to the door separating us from the rest of the group. Thankfully it’s not locked from our side, and we are able to open it again to get the group back together.

“Are you guys ok?” Lenata asks in concern. “What happened?”

“No worse for wear, thanks to Kenaris quick actions,” Ef Utan replied. “They seem to have an affection for hot wax, so I suggest we keep on our toes.”

I smile at the compliment but keep my mouth shut. Knowing Ef if I say anything that will probably be the last one I hear for awhile. “I did notice something interesting before the wax treatment, though. There’s another secret door at the end of that hallway, and if they are going to go to this much trouble to hide it, I definitely want to see what all the hubbub is about.”

“Let me just make sure this door remains open this time,” Ef mutters as he jams one of his daggers into the hinges.

Once we get through the next door we come to another door and a hallway. I for one am all about leaving no door unopened, so I unlock the door to the left to find a chilling sight. The small room is filled with large jars reminiscent of the canonic jars of the rituals of home where the priests would contain the internal organs of the dead. These jars smell of burnt wax, however… and instead of the faces of the gods on the lids, there seem to be the faces of humans. I even recognize two of them as powerful wizards thanks to my many stints in Seeker libraries. One of them is Hallister Blackstaff from the Realms, and the other is Bigby from Greyhawk. First Robelar and now these guys? A chill run downs my spine as I wonder why they might have jars such as these dedicated to powerful wizards of different worlds.

“I don’t like this, guys… I don’t like this at all. I don’t think these guys are part of the story… so would they try to recreate these men out of wax… other than…” I gulp as a thought hits me. “Other than to replace the real ones with these fake replicas?”

Vedis gasps. “What if the 10th Pit made a deal with Cessarian? If they get their Dream-jammer, they could travel to every sphere and replace their leaders with these wax replicas!”

“Well that does it then… these things have to go,” Ef Utan answers as he strides forward.

“Hold up!” I caution as the glint of something strange catches my eye in the dust. “If these things are what we think they are, they aren’t going to have just left them here for just anybody. Let me check it out first.”

I scan the room carefully now that I am not distracted by the jars and notice the now tell-tale holes in the ceiling… and the walls… and the floor. “Oh-boy… yeah… this is probably going to take me a bit.”

“Be careful,” Ef Utan warns. “The rest of you, why don’t you check out the hall? Just don’t go through any other doors until we’re done here. I’ll stay and back up Kenari in case something happens.”

“Why Ef, I didn’t know you cared,” I laugh as I find a safe place to kneel and pull out my tools to sift through the dust.

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Kenari, we need you in order to get through this place alive,” Ef scoffs.

Hmmn… what’s this? I use one of my brushes to clear off whatever caught my eye earlier to find a chunk of a broken mirror. It bears investigation, so I use the edge of my sash to pick it up and stash it in one of its pockets.

“Hey guys, we found a Spelljammer tapestry on the wall!” Vedis calls out around the corner.

“I wonder if it’s by the same person who made that tapestry in the bar?” I ask aloud as I tear some rags and stopper some of the holes in the floor.

“Even if it isn’t, what the heck is it doing here?” Ef replies. “Could that person with the canister we saw in the vision have brought it?”

“Look, I’ll be okay, and it’s still going to take me a bit. Why don’t you go see what they’ve gotten themselves into? I swear on whatever number of lives I have left that nothing will happen.” Ef snorts and walks around the hallway as I continue to snip wires, plug holes with rags and mark safe spots to step with chalk for the next hour.

Eventually I am able to disable the traps to my satisfaction and dust myself off as I hear Ef cursing over the squabbles of the others. I chuckle and walk around the corner to join them as they’re pointing and arguing over a tapestry on the wall.

“I’m not going to touch it… you touch it! It’s radiating psionics like you wouldn’t believe!”
Vedis warns.

“I could shoot it down,” Melchior offers.

“Oh good god,” Ef mutters as he unsheathes his sword and uses the flat of the blade to pull the tapestry aside. Behind it is a curious small door about half-way up the wall, reminiscent of wall safes I’ve encountered in the past.

“I’m all for seeing what’s behind door number two, but in the meantime I think that last room is now safe.”

The others nod and we return to the other room. “Okay, just stay within the chalk lines and you should be safe,” I warn as I point to my work on the floor. Melchior whistles in appreciation as he takes in the remnants of disabled traps strewn across the floor. “Yeah… these things are definitely important,” I reply. “There’s some strange writing around the lids of the jars… so I’ll bet my last whisker that they’re magically trapped. I can try to disable them, but I wanted you all to be aware of the danger first.” I gesture with my hands and shoo them out of the room. “Go on now… I wouldn’t want you all to get singed.”

Lenata looks at me in concern over her shoulder. “Do be careful, Kenari.”

“Hey, I always try to be,” I joke and turn to the Bigby jar to see what I can do.

You know, all things considered, I’ve been lucky in my life as an adventuring rogue so far. I’ve been taking everything as it comes the best I can, rolling with the punches and letting the chaos pass around me. These jars, though… they truly unnerve me…

…which is probably why I missed that last rune.

Kenari's Journal Part 52
You know what they say about good intentions...

Kenari journal

The paladin in front of us is a rather imposing figure with his gleaming armor and white bushy mustache… and in any other time and any other place I might be impressed. Now, though, after all of the chaos we’ve been through lately… I could care less.

“I challenge your Gods claims to these artifacts!” Melchior declares. Hmmn… apparently he doesn’t care for the paladin’s holy claims either.

Melchior takes the paladin by the arm and leads him off a few feet to have a heated discussion over what I can only guess is a debate about whose god would win in a fight. I look to Lenata and roll my eyes at the two, and she just manages to cover her laugh with her hand.

“Fine, I will allow you and your companions to come with me on my quest… but I must kill the dragon!” the shiny paladin announces in a huff. “It seems that you have obtained some of the tokens I had that were stolen from me by that meddlesome Brambelson.”

“Who is this guy?” I whisper to Vedis.

“I remember a childhood story of a paladin named Alagon that seems awfully similar to this man,” Vedis replies. “He lost his faith with his god because on his quest he slaughtered the innocent.”

My eyebrow rises in surprise. “And we’re choosing to travel with this guy?”

“You know what they say about keeping your enemies where you can see them…” she shrugs as the party gathers and we move on through the brambles.

After a few hours the thorny bushes part into another clearing with what looks like an old worn mansion in the distance. “The Weaver resides here over the Man Molds, where all reborn,” says Alagon with a wave of his hand at the mansion… before it lands on the hilt of his sword. “And now you will give me the rest of the tokens so that I may finish my most holy of quests!”

“What, already? I figured you were going to wait until we got another token at least before you were going to turn on us!” I mutter as I slip my hands into my gauntlets. Suddenly a lariat flies through the air and attempts to bind Alagon, but he is able to cast it aside with his sword before swinging it down on the place where I was standing just a moment before.

Paladins… I think I might have a card just for this! I reach two fingers into my sash and pull out “The Paladin” and concentrate on the card. After a moment there is a faint glimmer of energy around him, and then nothing. Well… I hope that did something helpful, anyway…

Lenata puts her hands together and whispers a prayer to Celestian for a spell… but from the frustrated look on her face it doesn’t look like anything happened. Thankfully, Melchior was ready to tell this paladin what he can do with his holy quest as he whips out his pistols and blows a mighty fine hole in chest, knocking him back into a tree.

With a final slice from Ef Utan and his katana and a few slashes from my claws we are finally able to finish off Alagon… at least until he is remade again in those Man Molds he mentioned. In the meantime, though… I wonder if he has any other tokens on him?

After some searching we are able to divvy up the spoils to everyones satisfaction. Vedis received his Amulet of Natural Armor, Lenata received some potions and a pouch of Dust of Appearance, Melchior received his Belt of Mighty Constitution, I got a nice Cloak of Resistance to help with those pesky attacks on what little willpower I still have, and Ef Utan got a rather pretty sword with flames etched along the blade.

“Nice… I love the style!” I comment as Ef tests the blade with a few swings.

“I can tell it’s magical, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to activate it!” he replies in frustration.

“Can I see it?” Ef looks at me warily and I chuckle. “I’ll give it back, I promise. I just want to see if I can make it work for you.” He hands it over and I run my fingers down the patterns in appreciation. "_Very_ nice work. Ah… and see, right here in the filagree there is some very skillfully hidden text. It looks like it says….ah yes… Flametongue. " I hand the sword back with a wink. “Just let me stand back before you try it out.”

Once everyone is clear he whispers the name of the sword and with a WHOOSH flames light along the blade and shoot out into one of the bushes. “Yes… that will do,” Ef declares with a grin as he sheathes the sword.

“While the paladin lost his way long ago, this god of his is still worth respect,” Melchior declares as he takes the paladins shield and begins to build a cairn around it. “May his god Iomidac receive him and show him the error of his ways.”

“You know, I have a theory about those balls of lights that we’ve been encountering,” Melchior continues as we finish up and make our way to the mansion. “I believe that they are the souls of previous visitors such as ourselves. Since they are not a part of the story, they cannot be ‘reborn’ in these molds… so they are turned into these balls of light to forever float in this cursed oblivion.”

“Then perhaps our quest to right this broken story will also help these poor souls find their peace,” Lenata replies. “With Celestians guidance I can only hope it will be so.”

“Whatever they are, I just know that I’m never going to become one of those… things,” I scoff. “This story isn’t fit to scare Gheldaneth children with at bedtime… so I plan on rewriting it before that happens.”

“Well nothings going to happen standing around here,” Ef Utan mutters as he strides ahead. “Come on.”