Campaign of the Month: April 2011

Planejammer: The Spelljoined

Vedis's Journal Part 24
Soggy Parchment

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Kenari's Journal Part 51
The Mourning Choir of the Barrow King

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We pick up camp after having the clearing abandon us and make our way through the brambles and thorns once again. Thank goodness that card I played before seems to still be in effect. After what seems like three hours of hiking (hard to tell when the sun is made of wood) I can hear the sounds of water and swamp animals.

Parting the branches of a particular thorny tree we come to a large clearing some 700ft across with a boggy lake in the middle of it. Following the muddy path we make our way to the edge of the lake to find a rickety bridge leading to a small island in the mists.

“I can see a number of headstones and a pair of glowing lights on the island,” says Lenata. “Do you think they might be the eyes of a creature?”

“They might be some of these annoying things,” Melchior grunts as he swats at the glowing balls of light that seem to be floating around the area.

“That water looks pretty nasty,” I say as I pick up a stone and skip it across the water with a flick of my wrist. After the third skip it sinks into the bog in silence with nothing else stirring its surface.

“I’ll try the bridge,” Melchior offers.

“Tie this rope around your waist first,” Ef Utan suggests as he hands him the end of the line. “Trust me… it could come in handy if the bridge breaks and we have to pull you out.”

As Melchior steps on the bridge to test it, however, a cloud of the glowing balls of light rise up from the lake to form into a winged serpent akin to the guardian spirit I conversed with so many years ago.

“I’m so LONELY!” it weeps and shrieks.

Hmmph… looks like this one is going to be just as hard to talk to… just for different reasons. I reach into my deck and slide my fingers across the card of The Winged Serpent. It seems like now is as good a time as any to play it. A shimmer of light appears above the serpent and then disappears.

“I am Mourning Choir, and I weep because of a most heinous murder!” it continues to cry.

“Murder… would this be the murder of Sonnarae the Bard?” Melchior asks grimly. “We wish to punich those who took her away. Help us achieve justice!” Here we go again… he’s going to want to bring a serpent in for questioning now.

At the mention of the bards name the weeping gets louder and more grating on my ears… until I feel like it’s trying to burrow into my brain. Oh no… I am not going to spend the rest of my days depressed in a swamp! I’ve got stuff to do!

“I’m so sorry!” wails Vedis in sympathy. Crap… it must have gotten to her.

I snarl and shake my head to clear it. “Look, Mourning Choir… you can either help us or get the heck out of our way!” I draw my gun for an extra scary factor in the hopes that she’ll just leave us alone. She really is sad, and I sympathize… but crying isn’t going to solve anything right now.

Mourning Choir pulls back in shock and whispers a few words that I think our magical… before a mist rises up from the lake and she disappears once again.

Ef Utan mutters a few words and a gush of air ruffles my fur as it blows past us to disperse the mist. “Hmmn… I guess she’s gone,” he mutters before picking up the rope tied to Melchot. “We should tether oursleves to the rope when crossing the bridge, just in case.”

Lenata picks up the rope and loops it around her waist before handing it to Vedis, who shakes her head and sits down. “Rope or not, I don’t think that bridge is going to hold me,” she says worriedly. “Besides… I need to shake off whatever Mourning Choir did to me. Don’t worry about me… I’ve got your backs.”

Lenata then raises an eyebrow and gestures the rope to me. “Nah… I think I’ll be better without it, honestly,” I say with a smile and a shake of my head.

The rest of them carefully cross the bridge one by one, and as it creeks and drops just above the water under Ef Utans weight, I see why Vedis chose to stay. We’ve really got to find some kind of levitation ring or something for her… Eventually we all make it over to the island with no interruptions, and split up to investigate.

“These headstones are just more props,” Ef Utan says with disdain.

“I wonder what these balls of light are?” Lenata asks as she reaches out to poke one and they bob out of reach.

“Hey, another sarcophagus!” I point out sarcastically to Ef Utan. “Do us a favor and don’t open it, ok?” He grunts in reply.

“I’ll stand back and cover you all if you want to investigate the sarcophagus and those lights, ladies.” Melchior offers with a tip of his hat and a pat of his holster.

As Lenata and I walk closer to the sarcophagus we can tell that the two lights we saw in the distance were actually votive candles on stands at the feet of it.

“Interesting…” Lenata mutters. “These look like they are kept lit in order to keep the undead at peace.” Good to know… note to self, don’t play with the candles.

I’m looking at the lid of the sarcophagus for any kinds of writing when suddenly a ghoulish and skeletal armored figure carrying a rather large broadsword on his back comes looming out of the darkness. “What are ye doing here? Be ye trespassers or mourners?”

“We are here to mourn the passing of the bard Sonnarae,” Lenata replies humbly.

“Cry now,” he replies as he reaches up to draw his sword, “for this lamentation will be your last.” With a swing of his giant sword over his head the votive candles are blown out and the ground begins to rumble beneath us.

Ef Utan swears behind me and I turn to see that emaciated hands have begun to reach out of the shifting dirt beneath us.

Think fast, Kenari… I roll underneath the creatures next swing as an arc of Negative Energy shoots from his sword and leap on top of the sarcophagus to try and dodge the grasping hands. Reaching into my sash, I pull out “The Beating” card and concentrate on the image of the man held down by hands coming out of the ground. If this isn’t a time to play it, I don’t know what is… I can feel a tingling of energy pass through me, and it’s almost like it becomes easier for me to dodge the hands grasping at me from the ground. I only hope that it helps the others, too.

Thankfully others were paying attention to the actions of the sword wielding maniac, because for a moment, I certainly wasn’t. With a tell-tale woosh of cold Vedis energy push rushes over the bog and slams into the monster as he tries to bear down on us with his sword. With a mighty “WOMP” it slams into him and launches him through a rotting tree and skidding across the ground.

“Gah! Son of a BITCH!” I hear Vedis moan across the water as she falls to her knees and grabs her head.

Shots ring past me as Melchior fires his pistols, but they don’t seem to be doing much damage. The hands renew their vigor in trying to be as annoying as possible after that until Lenata stretches out her hands and a wave of energy pulses out from her across the island and into the undead creatures. The sword wielding monster groans in anger as many of the grasping hands shrivel away under her divine onslaught. Unfortunately one stubborn one manages to grab her ankle and knock her prone, though.

Okay… we need to make sure these things don’t come back before they recover from that. I scramble to the end of the sarcophagus and pull my sparker out of my sash to relight the votive candles. “Time to go back to sleep, now…”

“Duck!” I hear Ef Utan yell and I reflexively flatten myself just in time to feel the breeze of an axe whizzing past my head.

Melchiors guns ring out in reply as Ef Utan, now free from the hands, leaps forward with his katana towards the monster. It’s the cleric who steps up for the final blow, however, as a beam of light from her hands shoots past them both to sear what is left of his rotting flesh from his bones. With a rattle the bones collapse into a pile, and the noises of battle become silent.

“You ok?” I yell across the water to Vedis, who waves a hand weakly in reply.

“I think this is what we came for,” says Lenata as she pulls a chain with a heart charm from the bones and puts it around her neck. “It’s probably a good idea if we keep each of these charms seperate from each other, just in case.”

“In the meantime, I think we should get out of here and find a place to camp so Vedis can get over her headache,” Ef Utan suggests and the rest of the party nods in agreement.

“Yeah… I definitely wouldn’t mind getting out of here.”

Fortunately the bridge doesn’t give us any more trouble than usual, and we’re all able to leave the creepy island behind.

The brambles, though… that’s another story, as they seem to see it fit to drop a rather intimidating man in shiny armor in our way.

“Halt, adventurers! I demand that you hand over your tokens so that I may complete my most holy of quests!”

I run a hand through my hair and shake my head in disbelief. Great… another paladin.

Kenari's Journal Part 50
Hopping down the Rabbit Trail

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It’s starting to get dark as we make our way towards the thick thorns of the Briar Patch that is supposed to be the nexus of the different spheres in the Harrowing. I look up into the sky to try and gauge what time it is… but it’s kind of difficult when the moon and stars are wooden props held up by scsffolding. Hmph… I guess with the death of Sonneray also went the budget for this play.

“This briar patch looks like a mess that goes on for a while,” Lenata says forelornly. “If only we could see how far it goes!”

I look at one of the trees covered in thorns at the entrance and groan inwardly. The things I do to keep the cleric happy. After a few choice swear words I’m able to get about 30 feet up… but there just doesn’t seem to be any end to the thorny briars in the distance. With a grunt of frustration I jump down from the tree and hold out my arm to the cleric with a pout, as the fur is now matted with blood and scratches.

“Thank you, Kenari… I appreciate you trying,” she whispers with a smile as her hands glow and the pain goes away.

A thought comes to me as I pick a few thorns out of my headscarf. I think I’ve seen this Brian Patch before! I pull the Harrowing cards from my sash and quickly start flipping through them. Come on… where did I see it… AHA! I pull out a card called “The Tangled Briar” in hopes that it might aid us on our way. Small motes of white light fall upon each of us, and then nothing.

“Let’s see what it did!” Vedis exclaims and reaches out to touch the brambles. “Ouch! Damn it!” she swears and sucks at her bleeding finger.

“Hmmn…perhaps if we just try walking?” Ef offers and walks towards brambles that soon part and show a path.

“Now why did that work for you and not me?” Vedis pouts.

“I didn’t try to touch them… I just pretended they weren’t there at all,” Ef answered with a shrug. Vedis’ mumbled reply was probably best unheard by all.

Eventually, after what seems about an hour of travel through the thorns and briars, we come to a clearing decorated with banners and pennants… with a little one-room house in garish colors.

“Hello? Anyone home?” asks Melchoir as he tips his hat back and knocks on the little door.

“Shoo! Begone with you!” comes a voice from the briars. “I am not your nursemaid!”

“Excuse me?” Lenata calls out. “We are just weary travellers looking for a place to camp!”

The brambles rustle as out comes a rather disgruntled looking rabbit wearing noble clothes and a dented crown on his head. “I told this clearing to leave me alone, but it just wouldn’t listen!”

“Please, we would just like to ask you some questions. You are Brambleson, are you not?”

“I don’t like questions,” Brambleson answers with nervous twitches of his ears. “I only like stories.”

“Then let me tell my story, and perhaps you can contribute to its telling?” I offer. “There once was a group of adventurers who accidentally ended up in the land of stories. They weren’t supposed to be there, however, and decided to look for a way to get home. After many trials they discovered that the Bard who wrote the stories was now gone…”

“It was all her… all lies!” Brambleson replied. “I don’t like those stories.” he then hops off through the briars and I have to scramble to try and keep up with him.

“I kind of like how I’m in two stories now, though… that makes me a two story rabbit! I’m huge!”

After many twists and turns I almost bowl over Brambleson as he stops in disbelief. “Do you see what I mean? This is NOT my house! I swear… I think the glade wants to marry me!” What do you know… we’re back to the clearing again.

While the rabbit is occupied, I reach into my sash and pull out the card for The Rabbit Prince. I whisper a prayer and play the card in the hopes that maybe it will calm him down enough to talk… but after a shimmering of light around him, there is nothing. Damn.

“Look, Brambleson… we’d love to help you with your little lovers quarrel, but we really need to get out of here. If we could just borrow your token…” I say in frustration as I notice Ef and Melchior coming out of the house and shaking their heads.

“Aha! I knew it!” Brambleson shouts as he hops up into the air and spins around with his sword drawn. It’s a rather short and broken sword… but a sword just the same. “I declare my right to challenge… and I will duel… that one!”

Vedis tries her best not to giggle as she notices the broken sword pointed at her. “Ok then,” she replies as two weapons of energy appear in her hands. “Are we playing to first blood?”

YES!” Brambleson screams as he leaps at her in furry rage.

Thanfully Vedis doesn’t seem to have any problems with dodging the hyperactive rabbit… but after watching him jump out of the way of her energy beam it looks like he has no problem dodging her attacks either.

“Well then… anyone want to take bets?” I ask the others just in case. From the grim looks I get I guess no one else sees the humor in all of this.

“Have at you!” Brambelson yells out as he leaps at Vedis, this time from the thorny trees. Thankfully this time Vedis was ready for him, however, and caught him point blank with a blast of her cold energy push. With a heavy thud Brambelson is sent back into a tree and knocked unconscious.

“Over already?” I call out. “Melchior and I were just about to share a pipe!” The rabbits ears twitch nervously as I gesture with the slightly smoking pipe.

“They’ve got fire … they shouldn’t bring fire here!” He immediately pulls a chain off from around his neck and throws it at Vedis before disappearing into the briars.

“Hmmn… what a strange bunny with an even stranger token,” Vedis mutters as she dons the necklace with a charm of a green shoe.

“Well I am glad that’s over,” I say as I tamper the bowl and slip it back into my sash.

“It’s not over yet,” Melchior insists, “because Brambelson must pay for his crimes.”

“You mean because of the bard? But that’s all a part of the story, right? How are you supposed to kill an imaginary creature?” says Vedis.

“Imaginary or not, he was complicit in the murder of Sonnaray the Bard, and therefore must be punished,” Melchior insists again.

“Could we even subject him to our own laws?” Lenata asks. "Would we be any better if we killed him?

“Hey, in my country they cut your hand off if you take something and take your life if you take anothers… so I don’t see a problem with a little old fashioned ‘eye for an eye’ justice, you know?” I offered with a shrug. If they all want to argue law and moral ambiguity, they can keep me out of it.

“Are you sure you can even kill anything here?” Lenata asks. “Maybe we should experiment with something smaller scale first?”

I look at the cleric with a raised brow. “Really, Lenata? You want me to go find some harmless animals and slaughter them for you?” That room with the cards must have had a greater effect on her than first thought…

“Look, if you really want to deal with the rabbit, he’s got to come back here, right?” Ef Utan says as he silences the rest of us with his hand. “We’ll camp here for tonight and see if he comes back. If he doesn’t come back my morning, however, we forget this crusade and get back to our mission.”

Melchiors lips tighten for a moment and then he nods.

“Thank goodness, because my feet are killing me!” Vedis groans as she pulls out her sleeping roll and stretches out her legs.

“I guess I’ll take watch,” I offer as I spring up the side of the house to perch on the roof.

The night passes rather uneventfully… but in the morning I am awoken to the feeling of falling as the house disappears from under me. Thank goodness for those Boots of Landing, because while I wasn’t totally awake yet I did manage to land on my feet.

“What in the 9 Hells?” I mutter as I look around to notice that not only is the house gone, but the whole clearing has changed.

“I guess we had it the other way around,” Lenata suggests. “The rabbit doesn’t keep coming to the clearing… the clearing actually keeps coming to him!”

Vedis's Journal Part 23
We are psubtle

Psubtle: (p’-sut-el) adj. piss-poor at subtlety.

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Well, we made it through the wax-works… kinda. We never left the first floor, really. But we made it out alive, and that’s something. Never have I been so grateful that Kenari is still traveling with us as I am today.

The “Man Molds,” where presumably all the Story-Kin were resurrected when they die (or when the story is started over, whichever it happens to be), looked to be nothing more than an old, boarded up building. It would have seemed totally abandoned if not for the multitude of tracks that surrounded the place, and all of them coming from within.

The place was booby-trapped to high heaven. We chose to enter through the back, like good little trespassers. What greeted us there was a similar trap to the front door, which Kenari handily disarmed. Instead of a doorbell, the door greeted visitors with a shower of hot wax, with a welcome sign for people INSIDE that first hallway, stating that visitors would be boiled alive. Way to put the cart before the horse, Marselee. It was pitch-black inside. Some of us can see in the dark, but I can’t. Ef used his glowing katana as a torch. Creepy, man-sized molds of people dotted the place, lining the hallways. Marselee’s idea of interior decorating left much to be desired. If these molds were for bringing people to life within the story, it would seem that the conspirators were trying to build an army. Secret doors were everywhere, and those were booby-trapped, too. Even after Kenari had taken apart a trap from one of those secret doors, the door had slammed shut when one of us trod on a pressure plate. The boom of the door was so loud, we ran outside again to have more room to fight whatever was coming out to investigate.

“It’s quiet,” Ef said.

“Too quiet,” Melchior agreed.

They shared a macho-man look and nodded their heads.

“Well, whatever it is,” Kenari declared, “it’s not coming out.”

“Either Marselee is so deep down that she didn’t hear, or she’s not even remotely concerned about whatever made it,” Lenata supplied.

“What makes you think she’s underground?” I asked, adding, “Aside from the fact that she’s an ant.”

“Look at all the boarded-up windows. It’s pitch dark in there. Something tells me she doesn’t like sunlight much.”

“What if she is coming, but she’s just so far away that it’s taking a long time?” Kenari wondered.

“How much time do you think we have?” Ef grinned suggestively. I knew what THAT look meant.

I huffed. “Why is it that you only proposition us when you think we’re about to DIE?” Damn him. I was beginning get over all of the angst from that first time and come to grips with the idea that it would probably never happen again. I mean, he DID say he just wanted to be friends. At least, that’s the idea that I got from his letter.

“I’d just rather go out with a smile on my face!” He shot back, laughing. I rolled my eyes and shared a ‘look’ with Lenata. Finally, she couldn’t help but chuckle. Traitor. I thought we were in this together. Apparently, she’ll never be as messed up about it as I am. Was. Ugh, just shoot me already.

Kenari coughed to get our attention, and we sobered. Back to business.

We went inside again, ready to get things over with. Through another secret door was a room with three more molds inside. Kenari told us not to go in. The whole room was rigged to kill us. We had to leave Kenari alone to work the room over for a full hour and find something else to do. While we waited for her to disarm that room, Ef, Lenata and Melchior were checking out a tapestry that was around the corner and down the hall from the room Kenari was in. It was an image of the Spelljammer, was probably done by the same artist who did the one in Sigil. It hung from the ceiling from two braided cords, and was framed by a pair of cutlasses. After a while, Lenata called me over to look.

When I arrived, she smiled at me and said, “It has an aura, but it’s not magical. It’s Psionic.”

I approached to stand next to her, suddenly fascinated by the artwork. I pulled out the psicrystal necklace that Luigi had given me and activated it. He said it would help me detect psionics and I’d used it once before on the Illithid ship and the whole place had lit up with lines of power. I concentrated on the tapestry, and did my best to discern the differences in the auras.

It was ninth-level stuff, a mixture of psychoportation and clairsentience energies. Beyond that, it was too complex for me to tell. I told them what I’d found and explained the difference in the schools and what they were for. Psychoportation translated to teleport and planar travel and clairsentience translated to divination, and so on. I urged them not to try anything with it or we could all end up transported somewhere else before we were done here, possibly somewhere more dangerous. As an afterthought, I suggested that we wait until Kenari finished with the other room before even touching the tapestry, in case it was trapped, just like everything else. When she finally shouted “Eureka!” and let us know she was done, we called her in to look at the tapestry, too.

She looked it over, and shook her head. “The tapestry itself isn’t trapped, and neither are the swords.”

I worried the tapestry was in itself a trap.

“Oh, for the love of—I’ll do it,” Ef said, and used his sword to move the tapestry aside. It didn’t react, but a few inches off the floor, set into the wall, was another door. It had been completely hidden by the tapestry.

“Now THAT,” Kenari said, pointing to the door, “is trapped. Get the tapestry out of the way so I can see how badly.”

We worked to clear the wall in front of the door, taking down the tapestry and stowing it in Kenari’s haversack. It would be worth a LOT of cash were we to find the right buyer in Sigil. I had no need of a cutlass, and neither did Ef, but he suggested that we take them and give them to Takero and Hatuk. I agreed it was a good idea, so we each strapped one on.

Kenari looked it over and I swear she turned a little white under her fur. She blew out a breath and continued staring. “That’s going to be tough,” she murmured to herself. “Oh, boy, that’s NASTY,” she muttered again. After a while, she shuddered. “I can’t bypass all that,” she admitted. “There are too many magical traps at too high a level for me to even try. I suggest we figure out another way to get into it. But first, we should go deal with that room you all just had me spend an hour making safe.”

What greeted us was a room with some of the paneling removed to reveal nozzles that she’d stopped up with rags, wires pulled aside and marked with bright strips of cloth, chalk lines and ’X’es telling us where we could step and where we could not. At the far end were three more molds. At each of the molds’ feet were large canopic jars. The real shocker here was that the jars were trapped, too. Kenari said that they were beyond even her ability to bypass, and that they’d likely explode in her face if she tried. We all agreed that whatever was inside those jars was not worth her life.

Lenata and Ef both recognized the figures on the molds. Even Kenari said she knew who Bigby was. All three of them were legendary arcanists. None of us wanted to see these molds bring them to life. Can you imagine? Three legendary wizard/sorcerer/illusionists on the same level as our late Imaskari? Who would want to go up against that?

We didn’t, that was for sure, so we ended up going around the corner with a rope tied to a jar and setting off the trap from a safe distance. The jar went “Boom!” We figured that no matter how much noise we made, nobody was going to come get us. They already knew we were here. We did it again with each of the jars, until we were relatively sure that the molds and the jars were destroyed. No one was using the legendary Bigby to consolidate their power or for any other reason. Pottery shards, melted wax, and artificial organs littered the room. The ‘Booms’ had set off a few more traps in a chain reaction. There wasn’t very much left in there, and the room was obviously structurally compromised.

That left secret door number two to contend with. We had the idea of dealing with the trapped door in the same way as we did with the jars, so we sat down and brainstormed how we could blow the door. I thought of alchemist’s fire, and Melchior thought of lighting a fuse from the gunpowder our gun-toting members had on hand. In the end, it was decided that we’d set up a couple of bottles of the alchemist’s fire in a pile of powder at the base of the door, with more gun powder acting as a fuse leading out the doors to a safe distance away, with a string tied to a lit candle at the end of the powder. Kenari set the pile, Melchior set the fuse and lit the candle, and Lenata pulled the string to topple the candle onto the fuse. Ef and I stood guard at the doorways leading outside to make sure they didn’t slam shut and trap anyone inside.

The scenario was set up perfectly, and went off without a hitch. After the ensuing ruckus died down, we rushed back inside to find the door still intact, the walls scorched with fire and lightning marks, and a tiny forest of needles dotting the hallway. Kenari went to disable the locks on the door as fast as her nimble little fingers could move, because the traps were magically re-setting.

The last lock clicked open and she breathed a relieved sigh as the traps were aborted and the door creaked outward.

The room was no bigger than a closet, lined in lead. Inside was nothing more than a scroll held up on a stand. Kenari found that the scroll wasn’t itself trapped, but the stand holding it was. Back around the corner we went, and Ef tried using telekinetic fist, Mage Hand, and a few other spells to grab it, with ordinary hand mirrors (supplied by Kenari and Lenata) allowing him line-of-sight while remaining behind cover. The lead-lined closet stopped all magical attempts to grab anything inside it, like there was a force-field at the door.

In a display of expert marksmanship, Melchior shot a bullet off the inside wall of the closet to knock the scroll out into the hallway. Ef swiped it out of range of the ensuing blast and whipped it around the corner to us with Mage Hand. Apparently, the building couldn’t take any more abuse, and with a rumble, the walls, ceiling, and floor began to crumble apart.

We ran to try to escape the geysers of molten wax shooting up from cracks in the floor and rubble falling over our heads. Kenari and I were outside in seconds, trying to catch our breath. It took me a moment to notice that we weren’t being followed. I couldn’t see any sign of Lenata, Melchior, or Ef. Panic set in that something had happened to them, so I readied a power and rushed back inside, with Kenari yelling after me.

I made it around the corner in time for the iron band of Ef’s arm to catch me in the middle, hoisting me back and off my feet. He looked like hell, but he was alive, and strong enough to run with my three-hundred-sixty pounds across one shoulder. Lenata and Melchior were right behind us, also alive if not a little banged up, and were gaining. I had a front-row seat to see the rest of the walls fall in on themselves just as we gained the outside.

I watched another geyser of molten wax burst through the roof, cold crackling at my fingertips, ready to blast back a wall of fire should it come for us. I adjusted my aim upward and blasted away the falling wax, suffering another headache, but protecting my friends from the worst of the raining death.

We regrouped at the edge of the clearing to get healed and watched the wax-works burn. It was fast becoming a pile of burning rubble, with the fire licking at the walls and bursting forth from other rooms, fed on air, wood, and wax. The blaze was going to last hours, maybe days. It seemed to be contained, though. The clearing was big enough that the flames wouldn’t threaten the brambles.

We didn’t hear any screeches of pain or rage from Marselee, though. Perhaps she was deep underground, like Lenata thought. We searched the clearing for any signs of tunnels to the underground, as any tunnels inside the wax-works were blocked with wax and rubble. Melchior wanted to sift the wreckage for another token, but it looked as if the token was lost to us.

The scroll we’d almost died for, however, proved to be worth it. It took some careful scrutiny, a little bit of singing, and a little creative thought from Kenari to get the scroll casing to pop open. When it did, though, Lenata read what was inside, her mouth dropping open and her eyes growing wide.

The scroll held two spells. One was a spell of ‘create demi-plane,’ presumably the same spell that made this place. The other was a spell of summoning a five-ton frog. This would be a frog big enough to eat the mantis that was chasing us, back in that bigger-on-the-inside dome. Both of these spells were high enough level that none in the party would be able to cast them for some time, but Lenata jokingly asked, “Anybody want a vacation home?”

Happy with our spoils, and sure that we’d be able to find three of the five tokens that remained, we set off back into the brambles to our next location. Six hours of walking later and it was growing dark. My stomach gave a loud grumble. We realized then that we hadn’t eaten or drank anything for hours, and with night approaching, found a spot to camp.

Lenata conjured prime rib for dinner, but Melchior chose to eat his own gruel instead. (A religious thing, perhaps?) I tucked into what she made happily, as did Ef and Kenari. Melchior pulled some high-grade hobbit weed from the compartment in his boot and offered it to Lenata in thanks for her offer.

“You’ve been holding out on us!” Kenari accused jokingly. “This is some good stuff!”

I begged off on the weed. I have no plans on getting addicted to anything in the near future. Elven absinthe was enough. We divvied up the watches and I sat down to write. Kenari’s on first watch and I’m on second. As soon as I’m done with this, I’ll do my meditations and prepare my mind for whatever may come. Lenata has the watch after me. I’m trying not to think of the burning wax works and whether we’ve just doomed all of the Storykin to extinction, or whether it will simply re-set in the morning like we were never there. That much destruction should have gained some attention. We are so psubtle.
Ef carries vedis

Vedis's Journal Part 22
I'm not going across that thing!

Vedis bar2

The morning sun rose on its wheel-and-pulley system, or whatever it takes to get a cardboard sun into the sky in this place, and the clearing just ‘poofed’ out of existence. Seems the clearing goes to Brambleson, not the other way around. Melchior will have to wait for another day to interrogate the rabbit. For Brambleson’s sake, I hope that day never comes. There’s GOT to be some statute of limitations on how long a fake character can expect to be punished for the murder of somebody who would already be dead due to old age. Especially when he’s fuzzy, cute, and adorably inept.

Poor Kenari. The house she was sleeping on just disappeared from beneath her, but she always manages to land on her feet. Still. Got to be a rude awakening.

We broke camp and picked a direction to travel through the bramble patch. In this place, the Bramble is like the Flogistan between the Spheres of different plot lines in the greater story. So far, only the cook has had any idea about the presence of Melchot. The rest of the characters have either been evasive, lying, or too highly distractable to give our questions any real answers. Everybody thus far has been terrified of Cesarian. Just what have we gotten ourselves into this time?

Hours of wandering through the briars brought us to another destination. The clearing was very large, with a lake in the center and an island at the heart of the lake. Honestly, the lake is more of a boggy marsh moat, but none of us felt like testing out how well the local wildlife liked our tasty flesh. The only non-aqueous access to the island was a sagging rope-bridge. I could tell right away that it wasn’t up to holding a Maenad’s weight. There was NO WAY I was getting on that thing.

Before the others got a chance to test out their luck, a mournful Coatl appeared in front of the bridge, so very glad for some company. We tried to talk to her, but even Kenari couldn’t get her to cheer up, even after she played the corresponding card, and she’d managed a Coatl that was ten times the size of this one, back in Bralspace. The Coatl was crying for the dead Sonaree and nothing could be done to alleviate her sorrow.

Toward the end of our interaction, the Coatl did something to try to make us as sad as she was. The others didn’t take to kindly to that. Before they could attack or do her much damage, the Coatl disappeared into the misty bog, leaving me with my buzz officially harshed. Sometimes I hate being an empath, and a weak-willed one at that.

Ef tied a rope around his waist as they all bickered over who was going first and how many of them would get on at once. I wished Word was still with us so he could fly me over, but I soon changed my tune and was glad of remaining on the other side. The bridge would only hold one at a time, as Ef’s weight made the bridge nearly touch the water as he neared its center. The rest followed suit and I moped around, feeling left behind.

Kenari and Lenata called out what they found as they searched the island. It was a miniature graveyard with cardboard headstones and a nice, coffin-shaped tomb with Sonaree’s name ‘carved’ in the front. Honestly is everything made out of pasteboard here? They spent some time looking around and scrutinizing the candles set out on Sonaree’s tomb. The candles were meant to keep the dead things from rising again.

It wasn’t long before a dark specter loomed out of nothing at the foot of the bard’s final resting place, forming into a litch-king. A large one. Another player in the conspiracy and a card in the deck. He asked them in a menacing way if they were mourners or trespassers, and Ef said they were there to mourn the lost Sonaree. The specter was mollified for only a moment, but it seems that was just a ruse. He quickly knocked over one of the candles, extinguishing it, and the undead began rising from their graves. Ghastly arms shot up and grabbed at my friends on the other side. Now do you see why I was glad to remain behind?

Honestly, I’ve never trusted the undead, especially after what happened with the ghosts and our helm in the flow, so I was ready for him. I knocked him flying with a blast of icy force, amping the power up as high as I could. He smashed through a tree and into a second one, and I was left with a pounding migraine. Psychic ennervation is a royal bitch.

Thankfully, that gave my teammates all the time they needed to bring down the pain on the Barrow King. In no time at all, it seemed Lenata was finishing him off with a bout of positive energy while Kenari re-lit the candle, sending the zombies back to bed (those that escaped total destruction from Lenata’s channeling, anyway). Lenata found the third token in the crumbled ash that used to be the Barrow King and that seemed to be that.

Three tokens down and three more to go, we were about to head to our next destination when out of the Brambles came a Paladin. He demanded that we turn over the tokens we had gathered thus far so that he may fulfill his destiny as the one who killed Cesarian. Obviously, we weren’t about to hand them over to a total stranger, so Kenari and Ef wheedled out the Paladin’s story. After finding out that he had no tokens of his own, had in fact held a few and lost them, we were more reluctant to give them over.

We asked to aid him, instead. Ef tried the logical approach, promising that of course the Paladin would strike the killing blow. We’d just… soften the dragon up first, and make sure the Paladin would actually survive to get to his final target in the first place. Like most paladins I’ve met, he was bull-headed in the extreme, saying, “This is MY task. You are not faithful enough to aid me in it,” or some such holier-than thou rot.

Melchior took the greatest exception to the questioning of his faith, and challenged the Paladin to a philosophical, theological debate. I couldn’t help but zone out on this. What’s to debate? The gods are real. I’ve MET some of them, including Melchior’s, Kenari’s, and my own. Granted, I hadn’t known Murlynd was a god when I met him, otherwise I would have stammered and tripped on my tongue and just stood there trembling and silent (or knelt there) as I’d done before and since.

In the end, Melchior won out, and we were off once more! The Paladin knew the way ahead as he had traveled this way so many times before. He told us of the giant ant queen, ‘the weaver,’ who ran the wax-works. (What is with all the GIANT BUGS?)

As we were nearing our destination, the Paladin turned on us, and once again demanded we hand over the tokens. What is it with these people? Did Sonaree just hate dynamic characters or something? Everybody’s stuck, unable to change or grow in the least. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say the story is broken. Everybody’s a static character.

I tried the ‘boil ’em in their armor’ trick I haven’t done since the Endless Stair in Nova Roma. I didn’t even singe his hair before Melchior blew two fist-sized holes clean through him, and Ef, Kenari, and Lenata finished him off, although Lenata broke her spear in the process. I’m never going to EVER question Melchior’s faith. I don’t want to end up like that Paladin. We got some neat goodies from him, though. The armor itself was a total loss. I snagged an amulet of natural armor, Lenata got some spell-type things. There were a few potions here or there, but the really cool thing in my estimation was the long-sword. We all took a break while Melchior buried the shield the Paladin carried. (The device on the front was worthy of respect, he said. He cast a disparaging glance at the Paladin, himself. Wow. He really doesn’t like that guy. He left him out to rot and buried the shield? Harsh.)

Kenari is even now figuring out how the sword works for Ef. It’s magical and goes by the name ‘flame tongue.’ I sat down to write in my journal and drink some water, and WHOOSH! There it goes. What was the activation word? I can’t remember. Seems odd enough that we wouldn’t be saying it by mistake in the Flow.

Ahh, adventure. Times like these, I hardly ever think about the… hour before we plunged into the Plane of Time. Killing things and taking their stuff, running around, solving mysteries, it’s times like these when we’re on the road that I feel that sense of family that Ef wrote about. Even Melchior is beginning to fit in, and he’s been with us such a short time. He’s a tough, lone-wolf type, absolutely certain who he is and what he’s doing. No ambiguity there. Makes him a hard sell at first, but I think we all respect him just a bit for being that way.

Ah, well. Break time’s over. Off we go to the wax works!


Vedis's Journal Part 21
I died. But then I got better.

Vedis bar2

We’re inside a demi-plane linked to a deck of cards found inside a room, that can only be accessed by drinking a liquid that makes you gaseous, which can only be entered through a portal in a golem’s chest, which in turn resides through a hallway guarded by a magically-summoned beast that re-sets each time it’s destroyed, inside the same pyramid, on a planet, reached through a portal activated with blood from the two-that-are-one, on an asteroid that is the eye of the Dragon Constellation, in a crystal sphere known only as the Shadowsphere. With me so far?

About a quarter-of-the-way in there is where I died. A trap that forced the heart to beat with it killed me, then brought me back to life. I don’t remember anything from when I was dead. No bright light, no drifting fog, no angels or devils or anything… just nothing.

So, Kenari retrieved the Harrow Deck from a room in the pyramid of the Four Kings. The deck itself transported us to the Harrowing, the land created by Sonaray, the bard. She split the demiplane off from Dream, and she based it off her stories. That’s about all I know of it, but the cards can be played here to affect certain outcomes.

Moments into arriving, we got into it with these creepy bird people in creepy clown costumes. Word of Wisdom wanted to try to find a way to get us all out of this place, so he tried some fancy Pshychoportation and disappeared in a swirl of cards, only to be replaced by a scruffy-looking gunslinger cowboy with a hard-on for justice. He follows Murlynd, and his name is Melchior. I will miss my psionic friend. May his travels lead him somewhere safe.

All is not well, here. Sonaray was murdered by the Conspirators. There are ten in all. Local legend has it that to defeat the Head Conspirator, you must gather 6 of 9 tokens that are left behind of Sonaray to lead you to the Striding Fortress, where the Head Conspirator, Cesarian (a dragon, why is it always a dragon?) reigns. So far we’ve beaten Bernaditi, the Rakshaza, in charge of the Midnight Circus and gained a garnet, and Brambleson of the Briar Patch, whom I have dueled and won the emerald pendant. Tonight we camp in the clearing that follows Brambleson around, and wait for him to return, so that Melchior can question him further and administer Justice for his part in slaying the Bard.

We got into a heated debate about whether or not we COULD technically kill the bunny, as all the conspirators are merely characters in a story trying to be REAL, and seem to be in a fixed loop. He still won’t budge, though. And I thought I was a hard-ass stickler for the rules. I have absolutely NOTHING on him. His sense of Justice is a hard one. With lots of owies. I feel sorry for the rabbit. I wonder why he didn’t insist on punishing the Rakshaza.

Kenari's Journal Part 49
Tea & Crocodiles

Journal bar kenari

Taking a cue from the retreating cook, we follow him around to the back of the main tent for the servants entrance and I do my best to sneak up and take a peek at what’s going on inside.

I try not to gasp as I notice the bright colors and vast insides much bigger than the tent on the outside. Amazing…we simply must tell Tain, he might invest and give this place some style… or use it as a new wardrobe.

Tightropes and trapeezes swing in the breeze above the ring as disgruntled creatures lay about the bleachers amidst the trash and throw the occasional vegetable at two bears riding unicycles and a juggler. At the far end of the ring is a wrought-iron cage with someone sitting in a chair in the shadows. I’m betting it’s Beniditi… but there’s only one way to know for sure.

“You go around back and try to get a closer look, Kenari, while the rest of us cause a distraction,” says Ef Utan.

“What did you have in mind?” I ask, just in case fire is involved. You never know with these guys.

“I thought we’d just walk in the front door, actually.”

I couldn’t argue with that logic… so I proceeded to sneak around to the back of the tent and under one of the flaps to try and get a closer look at our caged stranger.

Well… I definitely think that’s Beniditi… I had no idea crocodiles could look bored, though. Strangely enough, he’s clad in a velvet smoking jacket and idly stiring a cup of tea while sitting in what looks like a rich persons den transplanted into a cage. I wonder why? Is it to keep himself in… or to keep the rest of the world out? By Basts whisker… his hands are backwards!

I’m trying to get a closer look at the rings on his hand when I hear something that sends a cold shiver down my spine.

“Why don’t you come in and have a cup of tea?”

Thankfully my friends chose that moment to stride into the tent and gave me a moment to think of a proper reply. This isn’t your typical monster… the sharp teeth and claws are hidden under a thin veil of propriety. It kind of reminds me of some of the clerics from home, actually. Let’s see how long talk will keep me alive this time.

“The entertainment is here!” Ef Utan yells to the crowd, only to have rotten tomatoes thrown at them in reply. Ef proceeds to slip on one of them, causing a raucous laugh from the audience. I wince and chuckle softly, glad I’m not with them… until the clinking of the spoon in the teacup reminds me of my own potential dangers.

“I thank you for your hospitality, kind sir… but I prefer to remain outside of cages. It’s a cultural thing… I’m sure you’ll understand.”

“Suit yourself,” Beniditi shrugs. “I assume you are the one to thank for the entertainment?” He gestures with his spoon at the others as the juggler starts to shake with rage.

“YOU’RE STEALING THE SHOW!” Suddenly before our eyes the juggler begins to grow into a giant. I just hope to the gods that the others are capable of handling him… I have a feeling that I don’t want to let Beniditi out of my sight until we’re out of here safely.

As I ponder my next words my hand drifts to the cards in my sash. Wait a minute… I think I’ve seen him before! I quickly pull out the cards and flip through them until the image of Beniditi appears before me, teacup and all. “The Rakasha” is the title of the card. I shall have to ask Ef or Lenata what they are.

“Here goes nothing,” I whisper to myself as I concentrate and use the card. I feel an energy radiate through me, and then… nothing. Hmmmn.

“My friends and I are looking for a strange metal canister that might have showed up here not too long ago,” I offer.

“Is that all you are looking for?” the Rakasha replies… and then I notice it. It’s almost like his words are clearer to me now.

“Well, we also want to leave this place. We don’t belong here, so we would appreciate it if you didn’t hinder our attempts to leave. And of course, there’s always the parts of the Bard.”

I hear more noises of battle and shots fired in the ring and risk a look out of the corner of my eye to see that Vedis has defeated the two bears with her Force Push ability, and Melchior has blown a new hole in the Jugglers head.

The crowd cheers as Vedis and the others bow… and Beniditi even offers a polite clap before going back to stirring his tea. “Oh very good… I do love a good show. Perhaps we can come to a suitable arrangement after all.”

“Have we learned what we need?” Ef asks as he wipes off his weapons and walks up to the cage.

“I’m afraid Beniditi here lies amazingly,” I say with chagrin.

“You are too kind,” he replies with a nod. “If I may say so, you also lie well for a humanoid. Now that your show is finished, I shall explain my offer. I will give you 5 questions to ask me, and if you can catch me in a lie, I will help you.”

The others turn to each other to whisper over possible questions as the ‘clink’ of the spoon in the teacup keeps nagging at me. Every time he stirs it, it’s not the sound of a spoon hitting the side of a cup… it’s more like the clink of metal on metal.

“Is there something other than tea and a spoon in your teacup?” I ask him curiously. I figure we all would get one question, right?

Beniditi chuckles, and I quickly decide that the sound of a crocodile laughing is something I never want to hear again. “You take advantage of my hospitality, humanoids… but I find myself suitable entertained so I will assist you.” He lifts out a garnet on a gold chain from his teacup and hands it to Ef Utan, who promptly wipes it off and puts it in a pouch.

“The Realm of the Briar is the only way to the other spheres. If you go to the gardens, seek the Black Nib from the Shadow of Sonneray. Now if you will excuse me… I need to find myself a new juggler.”

We bid Beniditi and the Midnight Circus a quick farewell lest the Rakasha change his mind. “I don’t know about you all… but I got the feeling that Beniditi was right peeved that he gave us his token,” Melchior offered.

“Thank Celestian that even Evil can have a code they live by,” Lenata replied.

Personally, I think Lenata is giving Beniditi too much credit. I’m afraid that we haven’t heard the last from that Rakasha… and I’m sure he’s planning something even now.

Vedis's Journal Part 20
Back on Board

Journal bar vedis

So much has happened since I’ve been able to write last.

I shall attempt to outline the events so far:

We entered the Great Pyramid at the center of the cavern by the big lake, followed the passageways down, and ran into a Sphinx. I hate riddles. This one was a doozy and I’m glad I’ve mostly forgotten it. Needless to say, I guessed wrong. Word got the answer: a tomb. Bloody-minded morbid Sphinx…

We passed through into a room with floating spheres- the old transportation network. It still had some juice and the first one we touched was supposed to bring us to the ‘sweet forests.’ Well, apparently things have been wrong with this sphere’s sun so long that the sweet forests shriveled up and died for want of proper sunlight. We met some star-whales but they were no help. (Note to self: next time we hit Greyspace, see if there’s a psionic power that will let me communicate with non-humanoids.) We ended up hitching a ride to the next habitable rock on Word’s back. He holds his own air envelope for short distances. He’s now permanently of fetch duty when somebody gets spaced.

We camped on a tiny rock within sight of the big one with the dome, and got attacked by a planar creature that slips between angles. It was horrendous and scary. Nearly made off with Word-on-a-Rope. There was much healing to be done for Lenata, and nobody got much rest.

The next rock held a dome that was bigger on the inside and housed the memory/nightmare of a Scro. I have one of his hopes circling about my head, now. I sucked it out of him like I did with the Quori. It says simply, “The Key!” over and over again. Must have been a degraded memory. It still had enough ass to hurt me something fierce, though.

We got further into the dome after fianlly destroying it. The dome looked Ithillid in make from the outside. Inside was GIGANTIC. There was a four-ton mantis chasing after us. We found our way to a portal that popped us out into a room with a guy on a bier. Turns out this guy was the last of an ancient race called the Imaskari, and his powers are nothing to be trifled with. We accidentally-on-purpose woke him up while the walls around us were crumbling. We think we may have been inside the sun. The light all around us was green. He’s not telling us otherwise.

He’s got a major case of hyper-inflated ego, but I guess that when your race rules the known multiverses and you’re like the biggest badass with planar magics, you’re bound to get a big head. He treats Kenari like a slave and the rest of us are barely even beneath his notice. More like fathoms deep below his notice. Even the Hadozee shut up when he’s around. That’s right, he transported us back to our ship with a snap of his fingers. All of us. And we didn’t even need to be touching him.

So now we’re off to find the Dreamstone, presumably located within the eye of the Dragon Constellation. Apparently, it’s what put the entire sphere to sleep, and with prolonged exposure, we will succumb as well.

Hang on, Kenari’s knocking on my door. Apparently ‘his Highness’ has called a meeting.

Well, that was certainly interesting. Just talking to the guy and postulating theories of planar magic and what might be possible concerning the Dreamstone, Melcot, and the Spelljammer, along with other strange and wondrous theorems of Planar travel and magical stuff has energized my mind. It seems we’re no longer beneath his notice. He’s deigned to speak to us mere mortals, and even learn our language.

He doesn’t look too healthy, though, like something is paining him. He spends a lot of time resting and being ‘undisturbed.’ Perhaps he was put in stasis to preserve his declining health. That would certainly explain the combo of healing spells with the stasis field he was under. Too bad Lenata left that book about Deeomers (whatever they are) in that crumbling room inside the sun.

We’ve got our heading and all we can do is make our way there as fast as we can.

Problem: Tenth Pit armada. Solution: Imaskari Ubermage. He took them all out with one shot of chain lightning.

We’re nearing the rock that is the Dragon’s eye. We’ve sent Hatuk and Takero out on the little sidewheeler to see if any of the helms from the vessels are salvageable. It wouldn’t hurt to have a backup and if we can find more than one, those things are worth a pretty penny, indeed. The Arcane know their business.

We’re going down to the rock. I’ve decided not to leave my journal on the ship this time, just in case. I might run across something I have to write down, or we might get separated from the vessel for some indeterminate period of time once more.

Looks like the next step in this wild goose chase is through yet another portal. Kenari managed to ‘peek’ through it to the other side, using poor Melcot’s blood. The ritual did indeed happen, and we’ve got a single dead Divati body, still juicy, minus a brain to prove it.

He’s not the goriest thing on the asteroid, though. Not since Ma’at showed up in her 40-foot tall glory and smooshed the Imaskari flat with her foot of smiting. (Seems he’d outlived his usefulness and she probably blames him and his people for bringing the Dreamstone to the sphere and subjugating her followers). My morbid arcane fellows decided to collect some of the Imaskari and Divati blood for spell-components, and Word snagged the poor guy’s coat to mend and clean later for his own. We’re waiting until nightfall to go and investigate the Tenth Pit camp outside the pyramid they’re excavating. We’ll beat them to whatever they’re trying to get to inside. They haven’t gotten it yet.

We’ve gotten some of the constellation-markers for the planet we’ll be going to and I’ve instructed Hatuk to wait for us for three days and then fly the ship to that planet. Here’s hoping they won’t arrive too late for us.

Kenari's Journal Part 48
A Harrowing Journey

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I hate to say it, but I think I’m almost getting used to the feeling of portals.

With a swirl of light and a whirlwind of cards we are dumped unceremoniously into a field full of sepia-toned grass under an overcast sky as cards scatter around us. In the distance I can make out the faded colors of a carnival tent and a battered sign for The Midnight Circus. It’s strange… but the place just feels… defeated. Can a place be resigned to its fate? I wonder.

In the meantime, Lenata and I decide it would be a good idea to pick up those cards. If they can open a portal into another realm, who knows what other uses they might be good for. Besides… I like the artwork on them.

The sounds of a struggle soon draw the attention of the others, however, as a small gnobby figure wearing an apron runs out of one of the tents, only to be assaulted by a group of crows dressed like clowns.

“Why don’t you all pick on someone who isn’t outnumbered, eh?” Ef Utan challenges as he throws a TK fist and feathers start to fly. Vedis eagerly leaps to his side and the two show the crows whatfor as I chuckle and finish picking up the cards.

“Help! Help! The Lord will me… it’s in the soup,” the strange creature cries as Word tries to question him. “We’ve got to get Melchot out of here!”


“We mean you no harm, gentle creature,” Word replies. “Tell us who you and your lord are.”

“I am Biovena the Chef!” the creature replies proudly. “Only chef amongst the Storykin! The Lord… he is Lord Sessarion, and he is a dragon of all colors and the leader of the conspirators. He has Melchot prisoner!”

“The conspirators?” Vedis prompts.

“The nine conspirators took away the Storyteller,” the cook replies as he looks at us cautiously. “There are 9 Realms for the 9 Conspirators.”

“I have an idea… let me attempt something and see if I can find a way out of this realm,” says Word as he steps back and floats in mid-air in a meditative stance. The stones embedded in his shell start to pulse when suddenly there is a flash of bright blue light… and he’s gone.

“What the… where did he go?” Ef Utan asks as he rubs his eyes.

“It looks like he was attempting to phase shift,” Vedis replies in concern," but I don’t know where he ended up."

Illustration by Syreene

Our theories will have to wait, however, as another flash of light appears and a now familiar swirling of wind shoots out of a portal to reveal a curious person dressed in a long coat and floppy hat. As the light of the dull sun glints off of the star-shaped medallion around his neck, I am reminded of that god Murlynd we encountered while visiting Aionius.

“Hey, nice clothes!” I say as I walk up to him nonchalantly and inspect his medallion. “This is cool… I’ve seen one of these before, although he was wearing it like a brooch. Really nice guy, in fact…”

“Pardon me, strange lady,” he replies as he takes a step back and his hand drifts to his hip in a familiar movement. I see… he’s got a gun too! “Who are you people?”

“We’re travellers such as yourself,” Lenata replies as we go through the round of introductions. “And you are?”

“I am Melchior Babel, ma’am,” he says as he tips his hat in Lenatas direction. “I paid a sorcerer for some quick transportation, yet I seem to have found myself here.”

“I’d ask for your money back if we can ever get out of here,” I snort.

“I really must get back to the soup before my Lord gets hungry!” Biovena whines as he reminds us what we were doing before all the teleportation whoo-hah.

“Not before you answer some of my questions too,” Melchior replies with a hard glint to his eyes. “Justice demands the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

I take a step back and cross my arms in concern. Okay… he’s one of those religious warrior types. Good to know. Note to self… make sure he’s not looking when doing anything questionable.

Biovena cringes under Melchiors penetrating stare. “Lord Sessarian likes to eat real people… so he was real happy when the stranger appeared with the metal canister. Owl seemed to think it was real important, too!”

A metal canister… I wonder if Melchots brain is in there? If so.. who could the person be? Melchots other half? Or is it the Witchlight Marauder Key? Gods above… it would’ve been nice to have known what that was supposed to look like.

“And what about these conspirators?” Melchior prods as his hand drifts to his hip again.

Apparently that did it for Biovena, as he proceded to tell us what he knew of the conspirators:

  • Bernaditi runs the Midnight Circus
  • Brambleson runs The Briar
  • The Barrow King runs the Mourning Choir
  • Marselee the Weaver runs The Man-Molds
  • The Shadow of Sonaree runs the Prophet’s Garden
  • Ballomar runs the Sanguine Playhouse
  • The Tic-Toc Man runs the Smith Caldera
  • The Night Peddler runs the Trackless Dearth
  • Sessarian the Patchwork Lord runs the Striding Fortress

Apparently the nine conspirators killed and ate Sonree the Bard, and divided her parts between them. In order for us to find the Striding Fortress and confront Sessarian, we will need at least 6 of the 9 tokens for them to lead the way to its latest location.

“So Bernaditi is here,” Vedis says as she looks to the circus signs. “What does he look like?”

“You can’t miss him… he’s the one with the crocodile head!” Biovena replies and then runs off. “I must finish the soup!”

“Well then,” says Lenata as she turns to our new guest, “worshippers of Murlynd are welcome if you wish to travel with us.”

“Yeah, like I said… he seemed like a really nice guy when I met him… didn’t really have a chance to talk much, though. Maybe you could tell me more about his ways, eh? I’m really fancy on those boomsticks he had…” I offer with a smile.

“Hold up… you say you’ve met him?” he asks with a raised brow.

“Yeah, on the Edge of Time…” Ef Utan replies.

“While visiting the Sapphire Mage that Star Archon sent us on a quest for…” Lenata continues.

“Before we went through the Plane of Time and got sent 15 years into the future smack-dab in the middle of the 2nd Inhuman War of all things,” Vedis finishes.

“It sounds like it would behoove me to travel with you after all,” Melchior offers in amazement. “I too would like to meet Murlynd if I could.”

“Stick with us then,” I say with a grin as I clap him on the shoulder. “Meeting deities seems to be our regular Thursday night thing these days.”

Vedis's Journal Part 19

Journal bar vedis

Day one of being out of my self-imposed exile and what happens? Kenari’s missing gods decide to make an appearance.

We were out on deck, talking about our next jaunt to another planet or the possibility of investigating the other tunnels when right there in the middle of the deck appeared a feather, about half my height, standing on its follicle. It rotated slowly, fading from white to black.

“What is it?” Ef muttered.

“Is it another nightmare?” I wondered aloud as I joined the group that gathered around it.

“It appears to be a real feather…” Word whispered to me.

“Ever been summoned to court in Sigil to justify the things you’ve done?” Kenari asked Ef, who simply nodded. “Consider this a court summons… from Ma’at, the goddess of Justice and Balance,” she finished gesturing at the feather, half-angrily, half-terrified.

“Allright, then… let’s not leave the goddess waiting,” Ef said, adjusting his armor and smiling strangely.

The temple of Ma’at was much like the rest: hieroglyphs everywhere, all over the walls, and a giant, magical ephigy of the goddess’s symbol of the scales wrought in gold. Kenari went to work translating the hieroglyphs while Ef cast his magical sight over the scales. Lenata pitched in here, too, and I just wandered about, watching everyone’s butts.

Word voiced something that concerned us all in his floating about, looking for secret doors. The exits were all sealed. We were trapped in the room!

Now we had to figure out what we were supposed to do to make the goddess let us leave. We hemmed and hawed a bit, until Ef thought that we might need to make an offering to pay for the scrolls that were taken from the temple of Thoth, since Ma’at was concerned with justice.

He placed a scroll he himself had made in the offering bowl. It was consumed with a puff of smoke. The exits remained sealed. Kenari put her conspiracy charts in the bowl, (knowledge for knowledge) and it, too went up in a puff of smoke. I didn’t see what Word put in there, but there was another puff, and then Lenata stepped up to the plate. She took her knife in hand (I was worried she was going to give a blood sacrifice) and then cut off her braid. I was shocked! She’d been growing her hair since she was a little girl, so she told me, and she just cut it off! Lenata profile2It was a true sacrifice (something that mattered.) I put one of the power crystals I’d found on the Ithillid ship (power for power) into the bowl, and it, too, was taken like the rest.

Still, the doors did not open. We searched high and low for a way out. The only thing that had changed was that the feather appeared on one of the bowls on the giant golden scale. Again, we agonized about what it all meant, until Ef bit the bullet and climbed into the other end of the scale. From what Kenari had told us, Ma’at weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather. Those who were lighter of heart were allowed into the afterlife. Those who weren’t would have their heart (and soul) fed to the crocodile god. I worried when the scale showed that Ef weighed more than the feather.

Lenata, also weighed more. Word was up next, and he, too was found wanting. I climbed on, next, wondering if the crystals that laced my body made me heavier than all of them, or if the weight of my deeds were what was counted, here. I’ve never killed a living person…

The scale balanced perfectly. I was no heavier than the mystical feather. I climbed down with a sigh of relief. Kenari weighed MUCH more, the scale nearly touching the ground beneath her.

Kenari joined us on the floor and after the scale became balanced once again, the feather vanished in a flash of light and three fourteen-foot tall women appeared before us at the altar in the same flash.

Kenari immediately prostrated herself, like she couldn’t wait to kiss the floor. The rest of us followed her lead, albeit slowly, but only I got down as low. The three women were obviously goddesses, (I could recognize the cat-headed, bare-breasted visage of Bast from her temple, and Nepthys, as well.) The lady in the middle had a feather sprouting from her headdress at her forehead, and white-feathered wings, so I could presume that this was the Ma’at in which whose temple we stood.

Kenari began to make use of her silver tongue, but with a wave of Bast’s hand, was rendered mute.

“HOW SHALL I TASK THE TRANSGRESSORS?” Ma’at boomed out in a voice that sounded like a gavel hitting stone.

“The dreamer is mine,” Nepthys replies, claiming me, “and is innocent.” I could have kissed her hem at that moment, regardless of whether or not I’d been raised to worship her.

“The loud mouthed one is mine, and on a long path,” replied Bast. Kenari looked like she was about to do murder. Or cry.

Word and Lenata launched into a stirring soliloquy about how we were only looking for answers in the case of the sleeping humans and would put the scrolls back when we were done. They’d put two and two together that I was not with them when the scrolls were taken, so that must have been the crime. Ma’at charged us with the task of waking the people. Until we do, we won’t be able to leave the sphere. It is to be supposed that with their worship base asleep all this time (and not praying to them) they don’t have enough power to affect the circumstance, and they’ve been using Kenari’s faith and prayers, (and maybe a little bit of my own) as a means of manifesting.

Since I can’t read the scrolls (either the language, or the magical part) I’m pretty much relegated to organizing what’s been read and sending each scroll off to the temple as Lenata, Kenari, and Aspodel do the actual reading and Word and Ef do the legwork. So far it’s been a lot of necromancy and not a whole lot about anything relevant. We’ve broken for lunch, so I’ve taken the opportunity to write down my experiences.

Hmm… I wonder how Morpheus would feel about Nepthys claiming me as ‘hers’. I’d love to watch the god-fight over a single worshiper… doubtless they’d have a dream-off or something. Maybe it’d get hot and heavy.

Eeew. That’s like thinking about my parents having sex.